Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tiny Dancer


We saw baby #6 dance across the ultrasound screen today. Just as much as with the first, I was amazed at how the tiny little taps I feel in my belly become so real after seeing baby's face. This little person will one day smile at me, reach for me, tell me their dreams...and I got to see the first glimpses of them today.

My heart is overwhelmed. Christmas, though difficult with a husband with the flu, was beautiful. God's grace is so real right now. I've lost my dad, tried to grow up too fast, had marriage struggles, dealt with insecurity as a mom, but in the end, He has given much, and I am undeserving. Because of His grace, I have more than I could ever ask for. And nothing else matters. Truly, nothing else matters.

With each little blessing that He's given me (and by that, I mean child), He has melted me more & more. Where I was once cold and angry, I am content. I am learning how to trust and love my Heavenly Father, my husband, and my role as a mother. For those three things, I am most grateful.

Now, each of my pregnancies have been quite predictable. I feel exactly the same with each girl baby, and exactly the same with each boy baby.
But this little one threw me for a loop. I was SURE it was a boy...
But, in May, we will welcome our fourth baby girl.

And, for the first time, today, I saw her dance.

"now she's in me, always with me,
tiny dancer in my hands...

But, oh, how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you, and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly...

Hold me closer, tiny dancer... had a busy day today..."

-elton john

See you soon, little one...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gone so long...

Today is my dad's 57th birthday. His last birthday celebrated on earth was his 44th.

I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.

The worst part about missing him these days is that I'm starting to realize that, what I knew was inevitable, is happening. It has been SO long that he's been gone. I know life without him far better than I remember life with him. And I remember that first year, realizing that I'd feel that way some day. It stinks.

He wasn't there when I came home, ready to show off my new engagement ring on my 20th birthday. I didn't walk him through my first home as I awaited my wedding. And, as blessed as I was to have my brother walk me down the aisle, I remember waiting at the back of the church, aching for my dad's arm to grab on to.
Those events were SO long ago...and it's been all this time, all this life lived, without him here.

I can't imagine the thrill I'd feel to watch him with my Emily, his first grandchild. Or hear him teach Kaleb and Levi everything there is to know about every major league baseball player that's ever played. And, oh, man...he'd love Avery's quirky, pretty personality. And my sweet Nadie would love his singing. He had the sweetest voice.

As I await the arrival of this baby, I also anticipate the bittersweet moments that follow the birth of each of my babies. Because, every single time, my first thought is, "Thank God you are OUT!" My second thought is, "You are beautiful and we are blessed."

And my third, "I wonder if Dad can see..."

Happy birthday, Dad. I carry you with me always.

*photo above: me & my dad, 1982? with a little added design from one of my kids

Monday, November 1, 2010

Better every day...

Sweet baby, I am glad you're there. And I'm glad you're growing. You are officially the size of a Nutter Butter, one of my favorite treats.

I'm especially glad that we are getting out of our first trimester together. We passed the 13-week mark this past weekend.
It has been rough.

I spent three weeks feeling like I was on another planet, overwhelmed with my household and taken over by fatigue and nausea. I finally figured out my biggest problem: I was drugging myself. Yes, this pregnant mama was taking Unisom (doctor's orders!) for nausea, and it took me three weeks to figure out that a sleeping pill just might be making me sleepy.

The day I stopped taking it, my world changed. I wanted to be a part of life again. I started to grow more excited about all that we need to do to prepare for this baby.

Top two on our priority list:
1. Rotate most of the kids to different bedrooms (redecorating two of them) to make room for another little guy. (Yes, I think it's a boy!)
2. Get an 8-passenger vehicle.

I am looking forward to both. Especially the redecorating part.
Here we go, baby...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love BEFORE first sight...again

That's right...I get to do it again.

If you follow me, you know that we have felt quite blessed and quite satisfied with our house full 'o five kiddos. Our fifth was a surprise that took some getting used to. But, my oh my, were we ever in love with her by the time she arrived!
We learned a lot.

That's how we know that we can rest and feel secure at our latest bit of news:
Yes, we are growing. This spring, we will welcome baby #6 to our brood.

If you follow me, you also know that I am obsessed with pregnancy & childbirth. I am in training to become a doula (and yes, I am still following through with the training).
I love the process of falling in love with a person before you ever even see his/her face. I love knowing that person is always with me, growing inside of me. And I love, love, love that moment when we meet.

And I am blessed, thankful, humbled to say, we are doing it again.

God is good.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us, no one can recount to you. Were I to speak of them, they would be too many for me to declare. Ps. 40:5

Friday, September 24, 2010


I started scrapbooking when my oldest was just under one year old.

I captured the first six months of her life.

That was over nine years ago, and I've yet to capture anything else from her childhood or any of my other four children's. It's sad.

This would help a LOT!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My new favorite house ever

I am such a sucker for DIY home decorator blogs. I find them so inspiring.

I just found one that may be my favorite design ever.

My favorite room: her master bath. So pretty. So Anthropologie.

My favorite kinds of houses look like modern cottages on the outside, full of pretty details and flowers. Just like the outside of theirs:

I'm going to try not to covet too much.
Do you have a favorite home blog?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're all grown up...

I have much to share and much I still will, soon, but it is of utmost importance to mention how I spent last week.

One of my oldest, dearest friends came to Richmond.

The same girl that I remember giggling with late at night, as my dad threatened to take away my sleepover rights unless we "got to sleep!" was here, with her family.

It was something I've waited for since we moved here, four years ago.
I've wanted to share simple things with her, like where I cook my meals, where I do my grocery shopping, which Target I frequent.

And, even more, I wanted to share with her why we are in love with our new hometown. The history. The funky shops & restaurants. The beach. The mountains. The river. And all of the other perks of being a Virginia resident. She got it. She saw it. She loved it.

I had the privilege of spending a day with her kids while she and her husband took a quick trip to Charlottesville. At the end of that day, I was truly emotional. I got to read a story to my 3 year old girl and her 4 year old boy, who became quite special friends by the end of the trip. I got to "put to sleep" her little girl, who looks just like her, by snuggling her until she slept. Even the fights between our two year olds was sweet, because, when she yelled at my son, she called him "Buddy".

It was irreplaceable to see our children really become friends, and to spend more than our typical, yearly three hours together.

I can still see them holding hands and walking through the mall together...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What you take away

What have you learned from your mother?

Every day, I think about what I would like my kids to take from their childhood. There are a few things that I hope that they will never forget.

For example:

Your parents will love you and forgive you always.

You are never to old to be held.

The opinion of others doesn't matter. The only opinion you should care about is that of your Heavenly Father.

Whenever you want to show someone how much you love them, make them something. Learn to sew for this reason. Learn to cook for this reason. Nothing means as much as it does if you made it yourself.

I hope that, each day, more and more, this advice becomes real to my children. I hope that I can be a good example of someone who cherishes people more than things. I hope they know how much they have changed me.

Oh, how I love them...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just a few more hours, please?

I have so many things that I wish I had the time and energy to do/make these days. Just need a few more hours in the day, or a body that requires less sleep.

One of my favorite websites, Prudent Baby, inspired me with this post. I made my own easy version as a gift today. Here she is:

I want one for myself. So soft & snuggly.

Now, I'm dying to make this. Think I'll find the time?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The REAL Labor Day!

Here's to LABOR day. I am thinking of all of my babies and considering the celebration of MY Labor Days: the day of each of their arrivals. Every second of the pain that my body experienced to bring you all into this world was worth the joy of seeing your faces for the first time, if even for a moment. And I have been blessed with many, many more moments gazing upon your beautiful, chubby, growing smiles.

If I could go back, I would go through labor all over again. The five days I spent experiencing your births were the five most glorious days of my life.

Happy Labor Day to every mama out there. Take a moment to think about the day(s) you welcomed your child(ren) into the world. Celebrate TRUE labor.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Not afraid to do it all

Lots going on around here at the J House.

Hence the lack of posts!

Special family has moved into town. Preparations for second and fifth grade. Last bits of pool time. Soccer is officially on. I attended my first birth that will count towards my doula certification. (more on that to come!)

Life happens so fast. I have no idea where the summer went.

I just saw a great idea that I must share and must do myself. Corey from Life with Little Ones shows her way of reminding herself of her "hearts desires" in this post.

Let's not forget to take time to dream. And to live out those dreams with the ones we love.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The way things change

I've written several times about how differently I'm parenting my youngest kids than I did my first two.

See, my older ones were 6 and 4 when we got started again. Not old by any means, but the second round of babies were 17 months apart and then 14 months apart. So having a 4-year break sounds huge for me now.

I don't think I was ever really high-strung, but being surrounded by laid-back mamas and having a big family will force anyone to chill out a bit.

At Christmastime, 2006, my older son was 4. My husband started talking about how badly he wanted to get him a gun & holster, like a cowboy. I argued and argued. "We can't teach him that violence is okay, that it's cool! A GUN???"
(sidenote: I'm not making any political statements about the second amendment here. That's not the point...)

Christmas came. My son opened a present and found the guns inside of their holsters, fake gunshot sounds & lights amazing him. He LOVED them. I sat there praying that he wouldn't become a murderer someday.

Today, my big boy is almost 8. He doesn't talk obsessively about killing people, by the way.
My little boy is 2.

And on any given day, you can find my little guy running up to me with a light sabre or toy gun or stick, yelling, "Mommy, I kill you!"
And I'm not cringing, not praying that he won't really kill me one day. I'm falling to the ground, holding my side in pretend agony, howling about how he "GOT ME!" and then jumping up and "killing" him.

Oh, gracious...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Getting closer!

I've finally got some "after pictures". Boy oh boy, it's been a long time coming.

Poor Greg has been working 45-50 hours a week, and spending his weekends on a ladder with a brush in hand. But it's been worth it. Our little trilevel cottage at the pond is almost finished.

I want to remind you of the before:

And, now, finally, some "afters"...

And, yes, our door is bright lime green!

Here is the before:

and after...

Ever since we moved to Richmond, we've been eyeing these storm doors that are on every other house in one of our favorite parts of town. Well, we GOT one. Love it!

and, I know that this one's hard to see, but here is the landscaping before:
(plus a couple of cute kids on their first day of school!)

and after:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Progress, part 2

If you didn't read this post, I should start by saying that we are amidst a lot of changes around here.
Aside from doubling our family size in the last four years, we've gone from owning a home in Western New York, to living with my mom for six months with two kids, to living in an 1100 sq. ft. apartment here in Richmond, to owning and changing our new home.

It's been quite a ride.

At this point, we're done with the major cleanup that required two years of our time. Seriously, two years. This property was a mess.
This year has been all about planting and painting and slowly seeing progress.

I'm still not ready to show the "after" picture, but here's a peek at one little minor detail:

It's amazing what a silly little thing like a light fixture can do to change things up.
Here is the ugly, dated, before:

and the after:

I'm not sure why the paint color looks so different; it's not...
Maybe it's the aura of our new, fun light!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nadia Claire

One year ago today, we welcomed our fifth and final baby into the world.

She is proof that God knows best.

Learning that I was pregnant with her was not the joyful experience that I've had with my other kids. Seeing those two little lines on the stick was still tear-jerking, but more like how-are-we-going-to-do-this-please-help-me-survive-God than the romantic tears we've cried seeing them before.

We were done.
Beyond done.

It's a good thing that it's God's design for us to be pregnant for nine months, because over the course of that amount of time, I surrendered and fell hopelessly in love with my surprise baby. What a gift to experience life inside of me once more.
By the time she was born and I saw her face for the first time, I had forgotten about how scared I was at the thought of another baby.

She was mine. And I loved her just as much as I did my others.

I heard a quote once, a long time ago. It was in an email about things that you shouldn't assume or something of that nature. It went something like this: "If you think you can't love your fifth child as much as your first, talk to a mother of five kids."
No lie. It said five kids. And it stuck with me (now I know why).

"Nadia" is slavic for "hope".

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" --Jeremiah 29:11

When you think you know what you want, remember that God knows what lies ahead. Trust that He will bring it to past and that you will be delighted with what He has for you.

I know I am.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


It's happening...
Slowly but surely, it's happening.

When we moved into our house, three years ago, we were a happy little fam of five. With a seven year old, five year old, and an infant, I could somewhat envision how our messy property and dated house could become potentially-perfect for us.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I got pregnant again.

Now, our house seems smaller, and projects take much more effort and determination to complete. Potential was much harder to see, much less carry out.

But it's happening.

A few months back, I posted this picture of our house, the way it looked when we bought it:

The work has been endless. And isn't easy with three kids three and under running around! We've been busy rebuilding the wall of the pond so that the house doesn't one day fall into it. (There are now posts where a picket fence will one day be.)
Ripping out shrubs. Replacing shrubs. Building brick walls. Ripping out fences. Knocking down sheds. Grading the land and planting grass.

Up until this year, it was hard to see the improvement. Greg's a big "behind the scenes" kind of guy. (Straightens closets when the house needs to be cleaned, that sort of thing.) It's good, though. He clears and straightens the canvas so that the final painting will look its best. That's hard for me when I want to just change everything and see results.

Since we're nowhere near done, I have been hesitant to post an update. But I have gotten yelled at for posting "before" pictures without any "afters". So how about some "during"s? This is what the house looks like today:

*forgive the sun & shadows; I'm still taking Photo Booth pics on my laptop, without my camera :(

As you can see by the ladder out front, we're amidst continual painting. The door color will change (the color may shock you!) And we're putting in the one piece that I have been dreaming about since we moved to Virginia...a Richmond storm door. Keep checking to see the final reveal on my little FULL house!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


under construction...this blog's a mess! please excuse...j crew mama has been playing around and doesn't have time to clean up her mess...
bad mama...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Twelve years.

Today is twelve years.

Last year, I posted about the day my dad died. Every June 15th, that day comes back to me with a flood of tears.

Today, my sister and I are trying to remember the little things about him that are starting to fade.

His laugh. His hugs. The way he'd brush our hair when we needed some Daddy time.

But, with each year, it's harder to remember.
My sis was twelve when he died. So this year means that she's spending more of her life with him gone that she did with him here. She remembers even less than I do.

His laugh is hard to remember, but I remember that it was mostly silent. Like one of those laughs that's more airy and sort of wheezy. It was even that way when he wasn't sick. I guess my brother's is kind of like that, when I think about it.
He had these perfect hands. He could be a hand model. He always kept good care of his fingernails.
It's funny, when I see his face, my brother looks so much like that picture in my head. Even the way that he rolls his eyes and shakes his head at things when they're funny and sort of ridiculous reminds me of my dad.
But there's not much. I don't remember what it was like to hug him or have him hold me. The only touch I remember is how his body felt when I first saw him after he died, in his hospital room. I remember falling into his lap and holding on, wanting him to hold me. I remember how still his legs were. I remember the feel of his knees on my one elbow. And his lifeless abdomen on my other.
I want to remember much more than that. So badly.

I knew that this day would come. I knew that one day, it would have been so long that I wouldn't remember what it was like when he was a part of my life.

I just want to remember so much more of what it was like when he was.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yum yum...and good for you, too!

One of my favorite things about cooking is when you can pull off something that tastes like a treat, but it's actually good for you.
I've had a couple of requests for the recipes of oatmeal bars (good for you) and black bean brownies (not great, but way better for you than traditional brownies!).
Here they are:

Oatmeal Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the following in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not the "quick" kind)
1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped, I like to leave big chunks!)
1/2 cup or more dried cranberries (or raisins)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Then, in another bowl, combine:
2 cups milk
1/3 cup honey (you can use more or less; I've made it with none and they're still good and wholesome-tasting!)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix the two bowls together and then pour into a greased or parchment lined 13x9 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the corners are golden-brown. Allow to cool and cut into rectangles. These also freeze nicely. I like to wrap individually in plastic and then grab one (or a bunch for the kids) from the freezer in the morning. They're perfectly thawed by lunchtime!
Also, these are great with a plop of vanilla yogurt for breakfast! They're soft and filling!

Black bean brownies

This recipe is a little more informal. I am not sure where I first heard of it, but I definitely didn't make it up myself. I'm not that creative.
You take a boxed brownie mix (bonus if it's organic!), and a can of plain ol' black beans. Drain the beans, put them back into the can and then top off the can with water. Place them in a food processor and puree them until you can barely see bean skins. Mix them with the boxed brownie mix, replacing anything that the box says to add.
Then, follow the box directions for baking.
That's it! Extra fiber...never a bad thing. And from brownies.
PS: No one will ever know what's in these unless you tell them. Honest...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Wow, it's been a long time since my last post.

That can only mean one thing: it has been insanely busy here at the J house. We had double duty last week, while soccer was still in full swing amidst the first week of swim team. Phew...
I am thankful that we celebrated the end of soccer this weekend and are in full pool mode. We spent the entire day swimming yesterday. My oldest two have the hot pink backs to prove it. (Bad Mommy assumed that they lubed themselves up while I was covering the three little ones in sunscreen! Oops!)

Just in this past week, Emily and Kaleb are improving so much in their swim skills. They have spent the last couple of years on the sidelines cheering on their buddies. This year, they're part of the team for the first time. Last Monday, Emily was in tears, confessing that swim team is "WAY harder" than she thought it would be. Yesterday, she swam about 25 laps "just for fun".

The weekend was strange, though, and I found it difficult to truly relax. My family in NY is mourning the loss of my mom's sister, who passed somewhat suddenly last week. At 48, she leaves a daughter in her 20s and two grandkids who will rely just as much on stories of their Grammie as on memories.

I must have mortality on my mind more than I realize, because I have been having those crazy dreams where someone I love is gone, only to wake and remind myself that I haven't lost them. It's awful. I spent at least an hour this morning trying to snap out of it. Assuring myself that all is okay in my house. My kids are safe. My husband is healthy. I mourn my aunt, and thank Jesus that I have who I have.

It's funny how death does that. You go to a funeral, you come home and hug your kids. You love your spouse a bit better.

Even if I lost all of my earthly possessions, I lack nothing. I am blessed.

Even when life is busy and the kids are screaming, I am blessed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Joy comes in the morning

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. It is a blessing to have a great Mom. It is a blessing to be surrounded by friends and family that are also great examples of motherhood.

It is time to celebrate the gift of life and the joy of being a mother.

But this weekend, I have a heavy heart. I've felt it for the past couple of days.
I'm thinking of one Mother in particular that won't wake to her little 21-month old's giggles. She won't hear her husband tell her child to kiss Mommy because it's Mother's Day. Instead, she will feel that deep twinge that she's felt so often in the past year and a half since she lost him.

My nephew is with Jesus. His Momma, my sister, has empty arms this Mother's Day. And it's hard to rejoice in your own blessings when another has had hers ripped away.

Thankfully, there is another life on the way. She just started feeling her baby moving. This little one, her third pregnancy, will fill part of the void in her heart. She will have a baby in her arms next Mother's Day. She's told me that the loss that turned her world upside down has made this experience all the sweeter. It has given her a greater joy than she's ever known.

"Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Joy is on its way. We weep. We mourn. We question God's sovereignty. But joy is on its way.

My heart aches for my sister. For every woman that has felt the joy of motherhood and then found themselves at a small grave.

Weeping is okay.
But may you find JOY unspeakable in unlikely places this Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Just a quick note...

If you noticed my little Widdlytinks at the bottom of this page,
YES I know that the man in the pic does a very poor job representing Greg. Greg is 6'3", and this man appears to be 5'1"...

My options were limited, okay?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

And the results are in...

Finally, all five of my kids have had recent physicals. We avoid going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. (I could elaborate on that...but I'll save that for another time...)

However, Monday we completed their most recent physical exams. We are blessed to have boring doctor's appointments. Thankfully, our kids are healthy.
And tall...

Emily is in the 97th percentile for height, and 80th for weight.
Kaleb is in the 77th percentile for height, 73rd for weight.
Avery is in the 96th percentile for height, 92nd for weight.
Levi is in the 75th percentile for height, 40th for weight.
Nadia is in the 90th percentile for height, 43rd for weight.

Somehow, my two babies are skinny...despite the fact that they can get their grub on.
All of my friends know that my kids can clear a banquet table...

...Can you imagine my groceries in a few years???

What I wish...

My sis is with child.

It's fantastic. If you know nothing about what she's been through, you have to read up on it.

So far, she's had one early sonogram. Enough to know that, thankfully, this baby looks healthy. A healthy, worry-free pregnancy is a new experience for her.

I have three wishes for this pregnancy:

1.) That she will enjoy it without fear or anxiety and that the baby will be healthy. (Does that count as two wishes?)

2.) That I will BE THERE for the baby's delivery! (We're planning that I will be, but it's so hard to plan on being there when you are 9 hours away!)

3.) That she will have an easy delivery, and get the VBAC that she longs for. (Okay, that may be two wishes as well...)

I want her to experience birth like I did with Levi, #4. He was my first all natural birth. By the time I got to him, I had three pitocin-induced, epidural-necessitated births. I didn't know if I would ever really be able to birth naturally.

But I did. It was amazing. Here's me, within 30 minutes of his actual birth, during one of the more intense contractions...
(don't's not scary...and it's clean...)

Yep, that's almost as bad as it got.

And that's exactly what I want for her...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's true what they say

Time really does fly. It seems like only yesterday that we were celebrating Avery's 2nd birthday.

But tomorrow is two whole years since my sweet Levi was born.
Awesome pregnancy. Easy delivery. Mellow baby. Funny toddler.

This boy brings so much joy, so much color to our family. I love him so much!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Have you ever had that feeling that you've forgotten something? Or worse, someone?

There's that feeling that you get as a parent when you are in the middle of something, turn, and realize that one of your kids has wandered off to who-knows-where. A slight panic.

Last summer we attempted to stay at a hotel on the beach for the first time with five kids, when Nadia was just two weeks old. I know, crazy... (You'd be surprised how differently you parent once you have five kids vs. the first one or two!)
During that first trek from the boardwalk to the shore, it was more than difficult to keep everyone together. But we did it.
But, not five minutes later, while setting up the umbrella, I suddenly realized that Avery, 2 at the time, was no where to be seen.

My mom and dad in-law were there along with my brother in-law and sister in-law and their two kids. Somehow, with six of us adults, we had lost a little one.

That 30 seconds felt like forever.

We scanned the already crowded beach to find her on a nearby playground in the sand. At that point, though, I was already in tears with my heart in my throat.

That's the most dramatic it's gotten with trying to keep track of all five kids.

Still, every day, there's the head-count. Everywhere we go, even when we're at home. Just always checking to make sure that everyone's accounted for.

The thing is, lately (and I don't think it's necessarily because this five-kid thing is getting any easier) I get that feeling a lot more often.
Even when all of my kids are closeby and I know where they all are, it's like there's someone missing. I get that feeling of slight panic, look around, everyone is there, and doesn't go away...

...Do you think that means something???

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Befores & Afters

I love before & after reality TV. And magazine pictures.

Whether it's people or homes, I love seeing the way someone can translate true potential.

Our house...oh, our house...we moved here because we both saw the potential. A modest little house on an interesting piece of property. But it was a MESS. I wish I took more before pictures.

We have spent nearly every free moment (there aren't many around here!) trying to translate our vision of our home's potential into reality lately.

I am going to wait to post the after pictures, but, for now, here is an example of the BEFORE:

and this...

Here's hoping for some great AFTER come soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oil-cleansing update

My last post was about a new face-cleaning regimen I wanted to try.

Here's how it's been:
My skin's clarity has stayed the same. A few blemishes here and there, but that may be a result of everything that's been deep-down coming to the surface.

But the texture has been wonderful! My skin is much more radiant and feels so much softer. There was a day last week when I quickly used my old face soap. I was going out that evening and my face felt blah. I craved that olive-oil glow. I did the oil-cleanse, and it did the trick!

I think I've found a keeper. And, fortunately, it's a cheap one!

And one more thing...
In honor of Spring and the decluttering, scrubbing, and fresh clean smells that come with Spring Cleaning, read up on how to Spring Clean Your Body, from the same website that I read to learn about oil cleansing. I can't wait to feel a bit cleaner inside!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's not just for salads...

If you follow me, you know that I am a devoted reader of Mary Ostyn.
She's a frugal queen and mom of ten. She recently blogged about using the oil cleansing method on your face...yes, that's cleaning your face with olive oil. I know...sounds scary, right?

I've never really had trouble with my skin. However, I'm in my thirties now (ew...), and I've had five babies. I keep waiting for my skin to freak out and slowly slide off of my face.
I don't have any visible wrinkles, really, but my face is feeling a bit dull.

So I have decided to give the oil cleansing method a try.
Last night was the first time.
I have to say, it felt pretty luxurious. Smelled a bit like salad dressing, but felt good.
You mix olive oil and castor oil, massage it into your face for a full minute, and then use the steam from a warm washcloth to wipe away the oil.
If nothing else, it will be good for me to force myself to relax for a full two minutes every night!

Afterward, my skin did not feel oily. Greg ran his finger down my cheek and described the feel as "really nothing on it at all..."

If you want to give it a try (I dare you!), read up on this website. While you're there, browse around...there seem to be some fabulous ideas!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Last night, after a tough round of "boot camp" class at the gym, I came home to the kids in bed. (I love my husband...)

Greg wasn't feeling all that great, so he went straight to bed.

So there I was, 9:30 pm, and I'm wired from my workout. And I'm proud to say, I was a good girl.
I cleaned the kitchen and did some laundry.
Then I topped it off with ice cream at 10:30...maybe I should leave that part out of the story.

My point is, it was so nice to wake up with less to do.

If only I had that kind of motivation every night...a half hour or so of work feels so good the next day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Something about it...

Today was the first day in a long time that I've gotten my hands dirty.

I mean, on-purpose, stick-your (gardening-gloves-covered) hands-right-in-the-dirt-and-crumble-it-up dirty.
It felt so good.

When we bought our first house, I discovered that I actually enjoy playing in the dirt just as much as I did when I was a kid.
I remember going to my dad's baseball games as a child, and there was always a fresh mound of dirt there, left over from around the bases. The kids were like moths to a flame with that dirt. Even me, the one who was deathly afraid of worms, bugs, and all things dirty, loved playing in it. I'm not sure what we actually did with it...I just know we all had fun with it.

These days, it's in the form of gardening. There's something amazing about digging in the earth, burying something, waiting, and having something beautiful or fruitful come of it.

We bought our current house three years ago. Compared to our little yard in WNY, our half-acre seems like a massive, blank canvas to work with. It's been somewhat overwhelming. I've spent the past couple of springs anxious to begin, but unmotivated due to my massive pregnant belly.
But FINALLY, we have a spring and summer NOT pregnant. And it's ON! I'm ready.
I have bulbs to start my garden: onions, potatoes, strawberries and asparagus. And I'm going to get some tomatoes. We'll start there and see how that goes. I have my composter picked out.
I have seven areas of my yard that I want to landscape this year. Today, I planted bulbs in the first of the seven. It was in the smelly, but very rich, dirt around our pond.

It was therapeutic. I love it. It feels so good to get my hands dirty again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I can't believe I'm saying this...

If you've kept up with me, you know that this past September was a milestone for our family. My kids started "real school" for the first time.

When I found out I was pregnant AGAIN with Nadia, I immediately surrendered homeschooling. It was the only way I could think to survive another kiddo running around the house. Don't get me wrong; I know I am blessed and I love every single one of them. But trying to school two kids with three babies underfoot wasn't something I could even think about.

And my school-aged kids are doing wonderfully in public school. Kaleb is reading like a champ (he couldn't read at ALL this past September!) and Emily is in accelerated math and the advanced reading group.

I am SO proud of them.

A few months ago, I got nauseous at the thought of homeschooling EVER again. I knew we talked about starting again, but I dreaded it.

Not the past week or two.

I miss them. I miss having them here. I miss knowing WHAT they are learning and who they are spending time with. I miss seeing them "get it" when trying to figure something out.

I miss teaching them all of the "extra" stuff. Like cooking, cleaning, working things out as a family.

Could I really be ready for this again?
I sure hope so...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Always fit perfectly

It's spring. In Virginia.

Since we moved here 3.5 years ago, we've found that once March rolls around, you can count on beautiful weather. Not like where we grew up in Western New York, where there is always a threat of snow up until mid- to late-April.

It's great. The kids head out to play after school, we open the windows and air out the house daily, and we get out the summer clothes...

After three pregnancies in three years, I have been hitting the gym hard in hopes of also hitting the beach with confidence. Okay, not necessarily confidence...but at least some level of comfort.

I pulled out the bin of "too small" clothes the other day. Thankfully, some of them fit. Others, well, I wouldn't want to wear even if they did fit. I can't believe I wore so many tiny halter tops back then...
Some things aren't meant to fit mamas forever.

But yesterday, while driving home, Levi fell asleep in the car. As I lifted him from his carseat and his relaxed body snuggled into me, he reached up and held tightly onto my neck. When we reached his bedroom, I waited a moment before laying him down.

I loved the way he felt in my arms.

He's the size now where, when holding my neck, his little bottom fits perfectly into my folded arms, right below my chest and above my tummy. He's still light enough to hold for quite some time. His face fits perfectly into the crook of my neck when I lean my nose down to smell his hair.

My sweet almost-two year old.

That afternoon, I took some time with each kid to appreciate their size and how perfectly they all still fit into my arms. Nadia's tiny enough to feel good nomatter how you hold her. You can stick her on your hip with her butt on the inside of your elbow and tickle her toes all with one arm. She still fits just right in my arms for nursing. At 8 months, she'll be done with that soon, so I'm trying to cherish every moment I can.

Avery (3) is big enough now that she can completely wrap herself around me when I hold her. Once or twice a week, she wakes up to potty in the middle of the night. When she's done, she always wants me to carry her back to her bed. I don't mind, for one reason: her sleepy body snuggles right up against me on that 20-foot trip back to her bed.

My big kids are another story. I can't carry them around anymore. But Emily (9) is a great hugging height for me right now. Her head aligns just right with my shoulder, so I can tuck her in and squeeze her. She knows better than to think she's too big for hugs.

Kaleb (7) and I have a secret code phrase that he says when he just needs to be held, although he'd die if people knew what it meant. If he's having a rough day, all he has to do is look at me with those big blue eyes, say the phrase, and I'll have a seat and plop him on my lap. The world will stop for just a few moments, and no one else knows what in the world those silly words mean.

Oh, how I wish that I could go back to when each of my kids were tiny babies and savor them at that age. But one of the amazing thing about having a bunch of kids, born one after another, is that I get to experience hugs and holds of all stages.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's been a long four years

This weeks marks four years since we found out we were expecting Avery.

It was so easy (and, not necessarily expected!) to get pregnant with Emily and Kaleb.
Not with her. Believe it or not, Fertile Myrtle here had a hard time conceiving our third child.
I remember throwing my arms around Greg, exclaiming, "We did it!"
It was so sweet to announce to Emily and Kaleb, 5 and 3 at the time, that there was going to be a baby.

And I have been pregnant or nursing (or, usually, both!) ever since.

(the pic above: me pregnant with avery, fall 2006)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No, I'm really not joking!

This pretty much sums up my life:
multitask, multitask, multitask.

This morning, Greg called to see how my day was going. I was in the car, on the way home from the gym.

"How was your workout?"
"Good. I ran a few miles and then sat in the sauna and sorted coupons."
"No way...are you serious? You have to blog about that..."

So, yes, I am serious. I am the lady in the sauna at the gym, wearing the iPod, with a Ukrops grocery ad and a coupon book.

It was so much easier to concentrate in there than it is in my kitchen...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Of all of the electives that I could have chosen...

...I sure do wish I would have taken more classes in Computer Programming.
I'm having quite a time with this silly little blog I've got going. I feel so clueless, and my lack of knowledge is completely exposed.

Oh well.

I really should be spending more time cleaning my house or teaching my kids their phonograms than I do playing on here, anyway!

Pardon my clumsy blogging...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What really gets me going...

It was never my intention to be a stay-at-home mom. Not that I ever gave it much thought.
I was 19 when I met my Main Squeeze. 20 when I married him. 21 when I got pregnant and gave birth to our first child.

I'm not one of those women who grew up with a clear picture in my head of all that I hoped I would be as a wife and mother. If anything, I thought I'd be a glamorous mom of one or two, perfectly juggling a great career, marriage, and motherhood.
In reality, I didn't really even get a chance to figure out who I was as an adult before I found myself raising another person.

And here I am, an at-home housewife and mama of five. Sometimes, I'm less than thrilled that this is my job. But, most days, I feel blessed beyond words.

Being home with my darlings is great. But the truth is, we have seven people in this house, living modestly on one income. It may sound like a complete nightmare to some people. (Again, nothing like what I pictured in my head years ago...)
But I've found joy in the challenge of making it all work.

I get high off of bargain hunting. I want to tell everyone I know how much I save when I bag a good deal. I love the buzz I feel when comparing what I could have spent with what I actually did spend.

It's become a game to me. Meal planning is not the chore that it is to some people. Grocery shopping...well, I could say I enjoy it, but I usually have three kids that are 3 & under with me. But grocery-list-making is fun, and the anticipation of grocery shopping is fun. The actual act of shopping with all of the little ones is...not as fun as it could be...but it's still one of my favorite things.

It helps that I also love to cook. I probably try something new 2-3 nights a week. But it's also possible to be a frugal, kitchen-savvy mommy if cooking is something you're learning to love.

If you feel that you are spending more of your family's money than you should be on groceries, take-out, and restaurants, I want to encourage you. It's not as hard as you may think. It may require some thought. It may require some time. But there are ways to customize the process for your family.

I've become a devoted follower of Money Saving Mom. She inspires me and gets me excited about how far my family's dollar can go. She has a lot of great ideas for how to make meal planning and living frugally a top priority.

I haven't been a very devoted blogger lately. But I promise to try and share more of what I'm learning in this journey of raising a lot of people on not a lot of money in the weeks to come.

As a mommy, what do you get excited about? What gets you going?