On Cabinetry and Flooring

30 September 2014

The kitchen remodel is in full swing. The boys (Jacob and my little brother) have redone the cabinets from scratch. That wasn't the intention. We'd planned on reusing the old cabinet boxes and just putting on new doors, but once the old cabinet doors were ripped out, they showed their true colors and their condition was just...poor.

I love that they're redoing all the cabinets. We could've just coughed up some serious dinero on new cabinets, but this way they're learning a lot and enjoying it so much, and to watch your people create something so substantial and useful is just fun.

We're going to model our cabinet doors after these ones from IKEA.


If we're staying true to Jacob's carpentry genes with our cabinetry, on the flipside, we're taking the low road with the floors. After ripping up three layers of linoleum (gross gross gross) and considering lots of different options, it looks like we're landing on Tundra laminate flooring from IKEA.
Can't beat the price and it's pretty durable, but it's still laminate and it makes the snobby naturalista in me squirm. What are your thoughts on laminate flooring??? (Help me feel better.)


I've been able to help with some of the paint, but my contribution to the remodel is still mostly babysitting and letting youtube How-To videos serenade my evening: table saws and drills and backwoodsy accents saying things like:

"What we have here is a failed kitchen cabinet drawer."

"Installing these floors by yourself is frustrating as f***."

And on that lovely note, I'm off to read some dePaola with the minion while the baby snoozes. Have a nice Tuesday!

How Gracefully You Handle the Mess

25 September 2014

Last Sunday at Mass was a pretty typical one for our family.

The kids did well for the first fifteen minutes or so, and then began to devolve. Jake started playing "mean monster" with the kid behind us who wasn't playing it back, and Lucy June started in on some lovely back arching because we wouldn't let her loose on a chin-tucked speed crawl to the altar.

It wasn't too bad. Just par.

But we were seated behind some friends* of ours with six kids. Their oldest is about thirteen and their youngest two are the same ages as ours. The older kids - all boys - were sitting quietly and respectfully. The three year old was asleep in the pew and the baby was asleep in her father's arms. At one point the mom stood up with the three year old and whispered something to her husband right before walking out. The father stood up a moment later and handed off the sleeping baby to the 11 year old. He followed after his wife. The baby - still asleep - nestled into her older brother's neck.

The kids sat and listened to the homily. I wrangled my daughter and watched them. I was seriously almost teary at how sweet the scene was. These unsupervised boys being so good in Mass and so gently taking care of their baby sister. The father returned and soon after the mother came back with the three year old son. They both turned their attention back to Mass. I was so impressed by all of them. These kids. The parents who raised them.

Anyhow on our way home later, I was telling Jacob about how sweet I'd found it. Cooing over that sweet big brother holding his little sister and how good the kids had been when their parents stepped out, and Jacob was like,

"Yeah. I was talking to their dad after Mass and apparently Gabriel peed everywhere. He woke up rather disoriented and just peed all over the pew."


"Didn't you see his dad come back in with towels? He said they'd totally lucked out with an extra pair of pants in the diaper bag."

I was so surprised. The narrative I had in my head began to unravel, the narrative of this family who so "totally had it together" - this couple whose children united to function like some well-oiled machine - were really just another family whose three year old pees his pants in Mass. Initially, I was a little devastated because they were a sign that the insanity probably never ends.

But then slowly the narrative began to reweave itself. I saw the father in his coat and tie grabbing wads of paper towels in the bathroom, grasping those towels in his hand as he genuflects and enters the pew. Then I could see the mom in her silk scarf and heels squatting in the bathroom as she worked wet pants off a little boy and then rifled through the diaper bag with her fingers crossed. Meanwhile the other kids were totally unfazed by the pool of urine in the pew.

And then I smiled: I'd been more right about that family than I'd realized. I turned to Jacob and said, "They are so cool."

"I know." Jacob said. "We should invite ourselves over."


With that little story in mind, I made you a little inspirational poster. Yes you. Just you.


*(Also, the parents in this story are none other than our couple crush - we're kinda buds with them now. Just kinda. We're playing the long, not too over eager game.)


And now for some unrelated and potentially overexposed photos because someone's been playing with fire in manual mode.
Mucho mas to learn about this tricky camera. So far I put my progress at an "eh."

Ciao for now :)

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

24 September 2014


It's cheap. It's filling. It's easy. It's gluten free. Did I mention it's cheap? Well it's cheap.


Unless you put your back into it just a little little bit. And bake it. Then it's cheap, filling, still pretty easy, still gluten free.

There are lots of baked oatmeal recipes floating around the internet. My Baked Oatmeal Muffin recipe is a spin off of this one, but that one calls for WAY too much sugar and the final product is a little too crumbly. Jake has full body fits when his baked goods fall apart, so no can do for our resident tyrant. He actually won't let anyone but me make them anymore after one particularly crumbly experience when his father was at the baking helm.
Baked Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.

3 c. oats
1 c. water
1/2 c. milk (almond milk, coconut milk, whatever milk)
2 eggs
1/2 c. coconut oil
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. fixins (blueberries, dried cranberries. . . chocolate chips . . .)

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a muffin tin. Mix together the oats, water, milk, eggs, vanilla, and coconut oil, and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Combine the dry bowl with the wet bowl. Mix well. Stir in your fixins. Spoon batter into your muffin tin and bake until set and the tops are beginning to brown. About 12 minutes.
*******DISCLAIMER*******The muffins will tend to fall apart if you don't let them cool a little in the pan. This may not be a big deal if your eaters are. . . rational.

Toddler Paintings turned Geometric Notecards

20 September 2014

The menfolk are off texturing and painting at the new house, and so I'm home alone on a Saturday morning...watching a three year old whose love language is Elmer's glue. All the kid wants to do is cut (with big kid scissors) and paste (with Elmer's).
This isn't my favorite kiddo activity. It's kind of adorable, but it also requires near constant supervision. It does. At least with my three year old. I left him alone with his Elmer's the other day for five minutes and I came back to find him attempting to glue his feet to the floor. I have a pretty high tolerance for mayhem if it guarantees some minutos alone with instagram in the bathroom, but even I draw the line somewhere.

So yesterday when I hauled out our kiddo craft box and set him to slicing and sticking and shuffled through the ever growing pile of toddler artwork, I remembered something that as a mother it would serve me well to remember more often: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

And truth be told, I'm a sucker for crafting so Jake comes by it honestly.

I started with a stack of Jake's artwork, and began some clipping and some Mod Podging and some Eric Carle channeling.
 And pretty soon, voila.
Here they are, chock full of sentimentality and ready for me to write some words on the back and send them off to a grandmother or two.

Happy Saturday Crafting!

7 Quick Takes: Water Kefir, Crocheting, and My 3 Year Old Astronaut

19 September 2014

- 1 -
Are you an Arrested Development fan? We are. I probably should've written Arrested Development into our love story. Did you see these motivational posters inspired by Lucille Bluth?

- 2 -
I ordered more Kefir Grains from Cultures for Health. I haven't made our own Water Kefir (or Tibicos) since I was pregnant with Lucy June. But I'm very excited to start again. I've dispatched Jacob to buy and consume some Grolsch Beers, so I can reuse the bottles for Water Kefir.

Any other Water Kefir lovers out there? Or are you Kombucha people? In the great Water Kefir vs. Kombucha debate, I stand pretty firmly in the Kefir Camp. It's easier to make than Kombucha because it involves no heating, and it doesn't taste...well...so Kombucha-y.

- 3 -
Thanks for your feedback on my closet doors post about our house remodel. There is absolutely no consensus over what we should do...but you all gave me a lot to think about, and I love you for it. I bring you up when we're having little meetings about the remodel. And don't you know I feel fancy. I get to say things like: "Well, my readers think we should..." Which is very useful in the perpetual game of Me vs. The Boys, and elicits no eye rolls at all.

Jacob actually said I was getting too emotional over the design choices. Which is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE AND UNFAIR!!!!!!!!!!!



- 4 -
I've been crocheting again.

Last Sunday, the temperature dropped below 80, and all I could think about was my crochet hook. So I put down my beach reads (the last of which was quite the disappointment) and I've picked up work on a blanket for Lucy June. I started it before she was born and haven't worked on it in months and months. I've always planned to finish it before she turned one. That's next month.

- 5 -
With crocheting comes TV watching. I watch a lot more TV when I have yarn-y projects to finish, and the shows have to fall into a nice little zone of entertaining enough but not so good that I get distracted away from my work. Shows like Downtown cannot be embroidered through. The recent episode of crocheting has been brought to you by Once.

Do you watch Once?

 I liked Season 1 but then cooled to it in Season 2. Now I'm watching season 3 on Netflix, and I'm liking it better than I remembered.

[Never was there ever a more brilliant Quick Take: So there's this show, and it's OK, and I like it.]

- 6 -
Jake is currently obsessed with all things Rockets and Space. He's constantly throwing me imaginary tethers so I don't float away. He builds rockets and launch pads and docking stations with legos. His favorite planet is Jupiter. He manipulates his voice so he sounds like he's coming through a radio. The only way I can put a diaper on him for naps is by calling it a space harness. And then I get lots of variations of this:
8  9  40  7  8  4  BLAST OFF!!!!!

My son is a boy. And a nerdy one?

- 7 -
Did I tell you we took the kids to Bluebell Creameries in Brenham a few weeks ago? I can't remember. Probably. But since I just pulled the pictures off the camera you're going to get a rerun.
We went to Brenham to see the Bluebell Factory. I'd never been there despite my native Texanism and Bluebell fanaticism. We couldn't take any pictures of the factory so instead we took lots of pictures of the kids with their hands on an ice cream truck.

- 7.5 -
I'm sure you've all read Blythe's post about taking her kiddos to watch her brother's band. But if you haven't...Off you go. Off you go. It's so great.

Happy Weekend!

Closet Door Makeover Ideas. Help?!

18 September 2014

One of the fortunate things about the little ugly house we bought is that the bedrooms don't need too much attention.With the exception of the master bedroom. The roof was replaced a few years ago, but not before some serious damage was done to the drywall in the master and so we're having to replace half of it. And the closets are terrible.

They are huge, and there are two of them. Each closet has more space than we've ever had in a closet, and the two together rival the square footage of our first house.

This is nice except they're huge in a very ineffective way. Long and deep. Unnecessarily deep. It's like a walk half-way in closet.

Take a gander.
I know. I know. A vision splendor.

There are separate his and hers closets that line the whole wall, divided by a (not) lovely inset mirror/glass shelving unit. They have these folding doors that catch on the carpet. We will rip out the carpet and the raised floor in both the closets. We will also do something drastic to the shelving unit. Jacob however tells me we can't move the closets. Buzz. Kill. So since they must stay where they are, what does one do for doors?

My preferred doors would be some kind of french or swinging door except I don't think we can afford to lose that much floor space. The space issue makes bypass doors seem pretty handy, but otherwise they seem pretty inconvenient.
{source 1}    {source 2}    {source 3}

I had bypass doors on my closet in my first apartment in Los Angeles, and I felt like I was opening the door to the ark every time I needed a fresh pair of socks.

Are they all like that?

There's always curtains. I don't mind curtains as closet doors, I actually quite like them, but I doubt you'd find this option on one of those "How To Make Your House Look Expensive" Pins.

We will probably stay with some kind of bi-folding doors - despite how awkward they are - and try to find some way to spruce them up.
{source 1}    {source 2}     {source 3}    {source 4}

Mirrors on the door would brighten the room up. Light = always nice. Paint or wallpaper are bold but interesting. I do care about how they look, but I care more about how smoothly they open and close, but I didn't source any images of hinges. 

So. What do we do? What do we do? Bypass? Curtains? Folding? Turn one of the closets into Lucy June's room?

I'd really love to hear your thoughts!!!

Before I Had a Seven Year Old: Dwija of House Unseen

17 September 2014

It's 7:15am. Jacob is currently making baked oatmeal muffins while watching both children, so I can get this post up. I'm perched on our bed - strategically missing the pee spot that our little cosleeping angel left us last night. Jake is yelling (he is a MORNING person) about the day's discoveries (BAKING POWDER IS FOR BAKING!!!!!) And I'm once again musing about how parenting is the most fun and the most trying thing I've ever done.

So it is with great delight that I bring you today's Before I Had Seven Year Old in the words of one of my (and probably your) favorite bloggers: Dwija of House Unseen, Life Unscripted. I've always felt a kinship for Dwija because I imagine we have a similar Catholic conversion story that goes something like: Once upon a time I went to the University of Dallas. She is here today, talking about her parenting early years, and I'm so excited about it. I've already read the whole thing out loud to Jacob.

How many kids do you have and how old are they?
We're raising 6 kids in our house right now, and by raising I of course mean "mainly trying to keep alive." The age/gender list goes like this: girl, 13; girl, 12; boy, 7; girl, 4; girl, 2; boy 3 months.
What are the biggest differences in your home life now that you have slightly biggers running around and not just really littles?
It's hard to decide which one of the many biggest differences to note here, but I guess the most important one to me is that I don't feel like it's me fighting a losing battle against a tiny army anymore. I don't feel alone. The loneliness, the mental game of all small kids, is the hardest thing for me. As soon as I started feeling like I had Team Reasonable to combat Team ThrowAFit, life started seeming way more manageable.
What's something you miss about that stage of only really littles?
This is a really hard question to answer because having my big kids around is SUCH A JOY. I mean...I can't even use words to convey how great it is. But I guess if pressed I would say that having the house to myself or ourselves for many hours every evening is something that doesn't exist anymore. My big girls are awake until 10:30 or so every night, so I can squeeze in maybe an hour of alone quiet time if I want a reasonable amount of sleep and two or three hours if I'm happy to rock the bloodshot eyes the next morning.
What was your hardest transition after having a newborn? 0 to 1 kid? 1 to 2? 6 to 7? Why?
Oh girl. I have to take my watch off to answer this one. My transition from being a working mom to being a stay at home mom happened when we had our third baby (you can read more about that mess right here if you want) and it. was. brutal. First of all, it was crazy to go from having two kids, which you can sort of manage with mom and dad vs. teeny and tiny, to having three, which requires "zone defense" or something. I used quotation marks around that phrase because I don't really know what zone defense means except you ain't got enough players on your team and life pretty much sucks. But in HINDSIGHT (capitalized to indicate that everything makes sense in hindsight but you have to survive first in order to get it. Tricky tricky.) the problem was really that I could micro-manage every detail of two peoples' lives, but when a third got added in, all my systems and control freak methods went on the fritz and I was seriously at a loss. How am I going to micromanage and schedule and hover over three people at the same time?!!? I don't have to tell you what the answer to that question was. Anyway, I guess the point is that so often the struggles in my life are rooted in my preferences and demands and not so much in what's actually going on, you know? Once I stopped preferring that the impossible become possible, life got a whole lot more fun.
How do you conquer nap strikes?
This is tricky. So much of parenting is tricky. I guess now that I've met so many different kid personalities, I know enough to say that I can't always say how I'll handle them. Some kids you just need to push through. Let them stay in their crib, even if they're playing, for two hours and then go retrieve them and pretend like they had a nap. Some kids won't play, though. Some will scream and scream and scream, and their faces will get red and they kinda start gagging like they're gonna throw up and no, I just....can't leave them alone like that. I gotta go and soothe or help or chat. Give them a drink. Something. Maybe those kids are extroverts with quality time as their love language compounded by their lack of or need for lots and lots of sleep. For that kind of kid, being in a room alone to them might be actually a little terrifying. And before I ramble further, can I say that I hate that I'm writing this? I used to pride myself in ruling with an iron nap fist! But God is clever, as always, and provided me with a couple of lovely opportunities for sympathy and kindness and I got over my obsession with "everybody napping for 2 hours a day every day until the age of 5, no exceptions." I used to say that when I had two kids. I'm glad you didn't know me then.
How did you build community for yourself and for your family?
We hit the jackpot at our current parish. There are so many families there - families with a few kids, families with lots of kids. Older kids, younger kids, adult kids, newborns. But in order to take advantage of that, to become a part of that, I had to push myself out of my learned comfort zone a bit. I wrote a little thang that I called Confessions of a Closet Shy Girl the other day because I really used to not be good at making friends and now I feel like the most friend-blessed person in the world....and it makes life lovely. And I want others to experience that too. Oh, and also - saying "yes." Someone you barely know invites you to a bonfire? Say yes. Someone you just met is organizing an underwater basketweaving seminar? Go. You hear about a St. Martha's Day party with competitive vacuuming on the schedule? Doooooooo iiiiiiiiiit. Even if the thing doesn't turn out to be that fun, you and other people can commiserate about how un-fun that day was and can you believe that's the first day we met? So glad I went to that.


Now here is a bit that doesn't have a question to go with it, but I wanted to share it because it is just so apt. When I first got the email invitation to participate in this series, my son Paul was 6. Since that time he has turned 7 (in August, if you're taking notes) and almost from one day to the next, from age 6 to age 7, he suddenly became so much more helpful. It was really remarkable for me to take note of the transition in light of this discussion. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's still a scatterbrained little boy, and I like it that way. But he can get things and put things away and check on things and be trusted with stuff that just a few months ago I know he wouldn't have been able or willing to do. He made the leap from "little kid" to "big kid" seemingly overnight, and I am so grateful.


Thank you SO SO much to Dwija for participating in Before I Had a Seven Year Old! Head here to read the other posts in the series!
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