#blessed

Last week, the hashtag “onedayhh”  (one day hollywood housewife) made the rounds on Instagram, showcasing people’s “real” lives. Sure. Uh-huh. I decided to do mine here.

 

Good morning, Instagram! I like to start the day with a smile. #riseandshine #fivethirtyisn’tthatearly

It’s fine. I’m a nice enough person that I never have to be with my husband and we always are nice to each other anyways. #nfpissuchagoodbondingexperience #heavenhadbetterbeworthit #i’llstopwiththeheresynow

It’s grainy because of all of the love. There is no fighting in bed. #snuggles

School time! No one fights me about writing neatly and that cereal certainly did not end up on the floor! #homeschoolmama

Sometimes we chant in Latin and no one gets mad at me and asks to watch My Little Pony instead. #traddie

My garage isn’t sinking. You’re sinking. #denialnotjustariverinegypt

I read the Catechism and the Bible every morning and it’s never prefaced by a prayer “PLEASE DEAR LORD LET ME BE CALM TODAY PLLEEEEAAASSSEEE.” #whyisyours?

I just like all the colors and don’t need them to hide the evidence of crushing exhaustion and wine. #hahahaha

No one fights in the car on the way to my moms’ group. #siblinglove!

Okay the coffee and other people part of the day was actually just straight up awesome. I’m not playing.

Sought out a homeschool Mass with our local Catholic homeschool group and it was lovely and the kids didn’t fight over this piece of paper all through the Liturgy of the Word at all. #theyrejustgoodinchurch #dontknowwhatIdid

He was here the whole hour. Never on the floor under the pew! #mylittleboy

I love working on meaningless crap for my kids that I know they’re decide the don’t want after two seconds. Like a scarf for a toy car. #pinterestmama #crafty

Dinner time! All in one dishes are amazing! The kids can ignore the vegetables and meat together! Hahahha, I’m kidding. My kids eat everything! #homemademama #fiveaday

My secret to meal prep? A combination of planning and prepping ahead! Not Disney Jr. Not at all. #blessed

Oh well! I might as well indulge a little if it’s left! #winetime #alittlewonthurt

This is the same glass! It just…magically changed colors! I like to craft in the evenings, working on cute things for my munchkins. #scarfnotforme #itwouldmatchmyeyestho

I would never eat this in five minutes while watching an episode of the Office from ten years ago. Please. #notananimal

 

I just like the way these jars all look on my table before bed. I don’t need every single one of them to slow the relentless passage of time on my pasty Irish skin. #naturallygoodskin

My husband and I fall asleep in each other’s arms. I don’t stay awake watching Criminal Minds on a tablet until he begs me to stop the horrific noises from the show. #marriedmybestfriend #wedoeverythingtogether

Well there you have it! A totally true day in my life!

Playbook

I don’t mean to overplay the Martha Stewart thing, but I couldn’t pass up this gem from last month’s issue. Martha has a fool-proof playbook for hosting the best Thanksgiving ever.

Alas, we cannot all be Martha. Here is my Thanksgiving playbook.

Two Weeks Out:

Marvel at fact that it is November.

Buy wine.

Drink that wine.

It’s a normal week, yo.

One Week Out:

Buy simple syrup. Use in Old Fashioneds. This is still a normal week

Think about what dress you want to wear.

Make sure you have a stash of false eyelashes and your palettes are all up to date.

Argue with husband about how you need the new holiday palettes.

Sunday Before:

Half heartedly make a list for the grocery.

Make a list in your planner about how to make all the food. That makes you feel good and in control.

Plan makeup look.

Make sure sister is availabe to take your Christmas card photo. Start practicing putting children in front of you to make yourself look smaller.

Maybe call relatives and make sure they’re planning on showing up.

Monday the Week of:

Go to grocery.

Swear. A lot.

Put food away and ignore until Wednesday night.

Day Before:

Get up and forgo showering. Afterall, you’ll be working all day in the kitchen.

Decide to go back to bed with the kids and then hang out at your mom’s.

Come home, and figure you have plenty of time to nap with the kids.

Get up after nap. Run around like a crazy person.

Swear some more.

Shove pizza at husband, children. BECAUSE IT’S THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING AND I’M BUSY.

Husband inquires about why you’re watching Dateline on your tablet while cooking.

BECAUSE IT’S THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING AND I’M BUSY.

Set table. Yell at children NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING SO HELP ME GOD.

Work until like midnight and collapse into bed. Just in time to get up and go to all the families.

Day of:

Stagger through Mass and husband’s family, mentally running through a list of all the things you have to do.

Drink a ton of coffee.

Get home. Little jittery.

Figure you should start drinking wine.

That calms you down.

Run around like a crazy person.

Look at silver that you forgot to polish. Meh, whatever. No one has silver anymore. They don’t anticipate it being clean too.

Make sure ham is cooked. Don’t waste time fooling around with turkey. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

Have husband make you a seasonal drink.

Ahhh. There’s the spirit.

Welcome guests lovingly into home. From the couch where you’ve collapsed from too much almost Christmas cheer.

Let’s all be Thankful for Martha Stewart

Oh yay! Just what I was looking forward to- getting down and dirty with Martha this month! Because nothing gets Martha going like Thanksgiving.

No ordinary turkey for Martha! A HERITAGE TURKEY. I’ll bet it has a name and a backstory and all sorts of other crap that I’m pretty sure the one I buy at Pick n Save doesn’t.

Martha makes it seem like this is too enjoyable of an opportunity. Maybe she hasn’t had a man in a while.

This sounds different than when my husband and I argue over who gets to use the snow tires that year. I know you work, but I drive our children and I HAVE NEEDS TOO…*ahem* This is probably different.

You know, I don’t usually have enough to do in the month before Christmas, so I like to deep clean my oven too. After a long day of rubbing cutting boards, this really relaxes me.

WILLIAMSBURG. I don’t have anything funny to say about this one, but WILLIAMSBURG.

Aww yeah, now we’re talking. That’s really how you get through the holidays, amiright?

I wanna hear Martha’s newlywed recipes. I’m sure her ex would have some good ones!

Nope.

I don’t know, I’ve never been moved to tears by somebody’s hand towel.

Whoa. The real Martha is coming out. Who knows if you’ll be allowed to reproduce if you can’t prove you can decoupage!

“Darling! I knew we forgot something in Tangiers!”

No they don’t.

Mine likes to summer in the Berkshires.

I’ve never really felt that put upon having to pass gravy, but okay, M.

Aww yeah here we go. Let’s just put an article about headaches in the family holiday issue just because WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE.

Yeah we all know what tension feels like. And I’m pretty sure your staff does too.

Have you ever had a cluster headache, Martha? BECAUSE YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DESCRIBING IT DELICATELY. It literally FELLS LIKE A ICE PICK IN YOUR EYE.

Gah.

Oh barf. Why is Jessica Alba in a magazine dedicated to our nation’s prime eating day?

Her description of her home makes me more mad than if she wrote “Your husband likes me better than you.” BLACK AND WHITE WITH CHILDREN ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME, ALBA??

Not Honey?

I’ve always though Thanksgiving needs more pomegranates.

Well, Cynthia, that depends. Do you want dinner and a show?

You, ma’am, are no patriot.

Yeah that’s what I want. A fully decked out table getting dusty RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY HOUSE for a week. Not anxiety-inducing at all.

I’m guessing Katie is most likely to have seen Spotlight and posted about how it made her think.

Guys, y’all can go home. This is the whitest sentence ever written.

Well, that just sounds depressing.

Oh Claudia, honey. No one was like oh man yeah I’ve had enough pumpkin pie for a lifetime but remember when she made that thing with mochi?

Tonight I served pasta bursting with the flavor of the finest canned sauces and cooked in a pressure cooker. So, pssh, don’t try to tell me about dinner.

I’m going to take up trivet-making this holiday season. Just to fill the hours.

Clearly, the Stewart family did not have the same tradition my family had of standing over open Tupperware with a fork the next day.

Just…empty bottles. Appropriate.

Gen Alpha

So my children are pretty typical children of millennials. Both could unlock a phone before they could talk, and my four-year-old is genuinely disconcerted when he encounters a screen that isn’t touch-activated. (As are the owners of that screen when they discover his grubby little fingerprints all over it.)

It’s also worth noting that this happened organically. Neither my husband nor I set out to teach our children about technology, and we don’t consider ourselves crazy-connected either.

However, I didn’t realize how much their generation suffered from mine until this weekend when we finally got cable TV.

(I can hear Buzz correcting me now. It’s not cable. It comes in via fiberoptics. Whatever. Mama gets HGTV.)

They watch tv. Don’t get me wrong. They watch a LOT of tv. But until this weekend they have only watched on platforms like Netflix and Hulu and apps. They literally have never seen a commercial.

Until this weekend.

When we turned on the crazy consumer bacchanalia that is Disney Jr. and their worlds were rocked.

Rocked I tell you.

As were our eardrums.

So if anyone is interested, we will be requesting a Hot Wheels car garage and a my little pony flying unicorn and a Mickey roadster racer and a…I don’t even know.

Image via pexels.com

Knit

I’m an unconventional knitter. I learned when I was like 11 or 12 from my mom and a bunch of old ladies in an abandoned woolen mill, where we’d gather every week in a room that for some reason had booths and knit. My brother and sister and I would sit at one booth- John doing something, Colleen and I both working on scarves for our American Girl dolls, and my mom and her septuagenarian friends would work on more advanced projects (like scarves for real people) at another booth.

If there was a moment in my life that you could most accurately hashtag “homeschooled,” it would probably be that one.

Also, I pretty much only learned to cast on and do the garter stitch in a row. So I could make squares AND rectangles, guys. Only one color. I hadn’t figured out stranding or even how to change skeins yet. Or binding off. I had to give my completed “projects” to my mom to finish them for me. But hey. My dolls were never cold again.

Anyway, I loved those mornings. It was before my mom was sick, before we started thinking about going back to school, before all of that. We had to stop going abruptly because of the first of the shots across the bow of our lives that signaled GUYS IT’S NOT 1999 ANYMORE, but anyway.

(I know 1999 wasn’t a picnic either for us. But it’s all hazy and cozy in my memory.)

I love the physicality of knitting. I picked it up again a few years ago because I watch a lot of TV with my husband and I need to be doing something while I’m doing that and my preferred method of hand occupation is eating or drinking but, well, I like being able to fit through doors and having a liver. So knitting! Thanks to google, I figured out most of the other things I was supposed to know how to do.

But none of them came easily. I couldn’t imagine why. I’d picked up knitting perfectly easily when I was little, and even watching knitting videos on YouTube- it just wasn’t the way I held the yarn. And so the stitches didn’t really make sense to me. I figured I was doing it wrong. COULD THOSE LADIES IN THE ABANDONED MILL HAVE LIED TO ME????

So last night I was researching fair isle patterns because Squeaks wants a blanket for her doll that is pink and white. And, like every time I’d researched stuff before, both English/American style and continental style came up. Well, obviously I knit English, because everyone does that and I’m right handed and continental is crazy hard and fast and whatever. But maybe it would help me learn the other stitches and techniques that I want to incorporate into my own little Just Say No to Alcoholism crafting. So I clicked on the link.

And guys….I learned how to knit continental style. I literally hold the yarn in a different hand than every person I’ve always tried to emulate. I thought I was doing it wrong, that it was just comfortable and because I LEARNED IN AN ABANDONED MILL I just did what was comfy and made the stitches.

But no! I’m not wrong! I’m just European.

This is gonna revolutionize my doll scarves, guys.

Image via pexels.com

Buddy

Dear Buddy,

Five years ago today I took what felt like the thousandth pregnancy test since I had gotten married (three months previously) and…it was negative. I felt crampy and I was mad that I felt crampy so I took like four Aleve and went about my day with your sister, not sure why God wasn’t JUST GIVING ME A BABY ALREADY. I mean seriously. Didn’t He understand?

Later that afternoon, because anxiety doesn’t make sense, I took another test. This one- this one, there was a tiny blue line.

I was so surprised I sank to my knees in the bathroom, that horrible bathroom I couldn’t stand (even though it was objectively beautiful.) “Our boy,” I thought. I knew right then that you were my Joey, and even though I spent the next nine months convinced you would die, I couldn’t imagine life without you.

And like I wrote to you on  your birthday this year, you have changed our lives (all of our lives) in ways we never thought possible, and we will forever be thankful to you for changing the story of our family to include hope.

One year ago tomorrow morning you had to have hernia surgery. You were fine- literally home by naptime and totally happy. Never even took ibuprofen afterwards. But you were still scared- you had to be wheeled away from me crying in anesthesia, and I had to wait while they cut you open. Afterwards while we were walked to recovery with a mother who knew way too much about how this hospital operated, Daddy and I were never more appreciative of the fact that we have healthy children and get to have so many moments with you and your sister that we don’t even appreciate.

Today we got one of those moments. Squeaks went with Aunt Colleen for a special girls day, and I took you with me for what I thought would be a normal day. But you wanted a Mommy Joey day. So we had one. We got a Happy Meal and took a cuddly nap and watched TV (“Movies are too scary,” you told me) while eating Halloween cookies and cuddling on the couch. You literally kept saying “Best day ever!”

I hope I never forget that stuff. How sweet you are, how much you love cuddling. How you want to be close to someone all the time. How much you love to be cozy under a blanket. How you’re scared of the most random stuff (movies) and love British TV shows.

I hope I never forget anything.

Love,

Mommy

Key to My Heart

You may have heard that Amazon has announced Amazon Key- a service in which you trust an Amazon person to roll up to your house in an unmarked van, let themselves into your house, and probably not murder you.

I read an article that said, “Let’s not be coy. You know you’re going to let them do it.”

Yeah. Probably.

I mean, I started with trusting them with my credit card info. Which, ten years ago, was a big deal. Then I trusted them not to damage my Clearblue Sticks. Which, when you have anxiety, is a big deal. And now I trust them not to poison my food or give me rotten meat or whatever with Prime Now, which is kind of a big deal to the last generation to grow up being afraid of candy from strangers.

(Yesterday, concerned I would have to put on real pants before trick or treat this weekend, I summoned a stranger with my phone to bring me candy. I know.)

So yeah, as creepy as it sounds to allow Amazon to just literally let themselves in your front door while YOU ARE NOT AT HOME, I’m probably like three weeks away from signing up.

That got me thinking- what else would I like to outsource to Amazon?

Childcare- If I could select the number of hours I’d need a babysitter and one would show up? And then when she spent the night watching my TV and not cleaning up after dinner I could just complain to Amazon and they’d comp me for the night? YAAASSS.

They probably wouldn’t hire ALL child molesters. Right?

Prescription Drugs- Okay so I actually have an online prescription drug service, and I usually refuse to use it because I like to vet my suppliers myself. So I can hear my husband rolling his eyes from here. But get this- I wouldn’t need a doctor to renew. Amazon would have lots of little doctors that they employ who would look at my records and be like “Um yeah, lady needs the Prozac she’s been on since the beginning of time. Just fill it.” No dragging children to the doctor for her to weigh and look judgmentally at me. How awesome would that be?

Other doctor-type things- Ladies, I’m thinking yearly exams here. If I could either just send in a kit (I do NFP- I know where my cervix is, thanks) or arrange a house call through Amazon? Oh my gosh. Think of the time it would free up. And you’d be a lot comfier in your house, am I right?

Confession- I’d like to summon a priest so I never had to leave my house. And there would have to be pick a priest options because I don’t like confessing to the same one more than once. I’m a little weird.

(Not weird like in what I’m confessing. That’s pretty boring, I think. But I just find the whole experience uncomfortable. Wonderful. But uncomfortable.)

Waxing- Enough said.

Haircuts- If I could get my hair cut without figuring out childcare? I’d…well, have much better hair.

Clothing- Oh wait, I already do this.

What would you outsource?

 

Heroine Addict

I recently finished  Samantha Ellis’ How to Be a Heroine. I liked it, she’s a fantastic writer, and I loved following her along her journey. She’s a little whiny at times- I mean, honestly. Not every female character is written to be a completely flawless role model for you. That’s not the point of writing women. I loved her depiction of growing up as an Iraqi Jewish girl in London and all the sexual and ethnic tensions that come with that.

Growing up as the treasured daughter of Whitey McWhiterson and his legally and sacramentally bound wife in Safe Little Haven, USA, I had quite a different upbringing. But I still read a ton, and I still identified with the women I read about, and had my share of heroine-lust throughout the years. It was fun to see, like Ellis, how these women hold up under further scrutiny.

Nancy Drew- ages 7-9

Nancy Drew was my first girl love. I devoured those books. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted titian hair (I convinced myself it was close to the ashy auburn I had in real life) and while I didn’t want MY mom to die, I certainly admired the freedom that great tragedy apparently lends you. I loved Nancy. I saw nothing unbelievable in any of those books, just amazing wonderful stories about an amazing wonderful woman.

Of course, I’ve read them again. As a grown-up. And honestly guys, they’re all the same book. Like. For serious. With different weapons. I realize now that there was no reason for her to be doing LITERALLY anything she does in those books, and for someone with no formal education and a freaking housekeeper she knew how to do literally everything.

And she was kind of a jerk to Bess about her body. Which as a mom with a mom bod I DON’T APPRECIATE NANCY.

I still love her.

Saddle Club Girls- ages 9-13

Oh these girls. Rich, happy, literally nothing touches them. I wanted to be all three of them at different times, depending on what actual crap was going on in my life. I mean, Carole’s mom is dead and presumably that’s hard to handle, but would you know it? Nope. Good ole Col. Whatever His Name Was is the perfect chaste widower dad and Carole grows up without an adoptive mother desperately googling “CHILD OCD SPECIALISTS IN *AREA*”

Oh sorry. Too close?

Cathy Earnshaw- age 12

I read Wuthering Heights for the first time when I was 12, sitting on the floor in my grandpa’s hospital room. I was still pretty unsure of what the actual mechanics of sex were, but it sounded a lot like what Cathy and Heathcliff wanted to get up to in that big old gothic mansion. And that sounded like fun.

In most of these fantasies, the role of Heathcliff was played by my grandfather’s middle aged Jewish cardiologist, a dude named Leonard.

It was a pretty boring time in my actual life.

As an adult, I’m like dear Lord guys, GET OVER YOURSELVES. First of all. Love is not that grand. It’s wonderful. And amazing. BUT NO ONE LITERALLY DIES OF A BROKEN HEART. Sheesh. Go clean something or I don’t know, TRY LOVING YOUR ACTUAL SPOUSES.

(And hey, if my husband ever asks why I was so dead set on staying at a castle on our honeymoon it definitely was not because of this book. Not. At all.)

Betsy Ray, age 9-whenever I die.

I read the Betsy Tacy books in reverse order- I found Betsy’s Wedding in a resale bin at the library and read it when I was like nine or ten. And then I fell in love with it and went back and read all of them and THEY ARE AMAZING GUYS GO GET THEM FOR YOUR CHILDREN. I have like three copies of each book.

But it’s the Betsy from Betsy’s Wedding that speaks to me the most, still. She’s honest and in love but not flighty and she and Joe make a real life together. And (most importantly I think) she admits when she’s being obnoxious as I tend to be obnoxious to my husband and need help admitting it. I’m suuuuper bad at admitting it. But Betsy’s not. She goes to church and is like, “All right God. Help me out here. I’m not being the best wife I can be and I need help.” And guess what? He helps her! Because He’s God. And that’s what He does. And THESE BOOKS SERIOUSLY GO BUY THEM.

As a mother, and someone who is not necessarily a writer but struggles with feeling like she has let all of herself go in the process of getting married and having children, watching Betsy struggle with that as well but not shirt her place int eh family is inspiring.

Scarlett O’Hara, age 12

This was my brief, not-so-flattering phase where I walked around saying things like “I don’t know why everyone whined about slavery.”

(Editor’s Note: I understand completely why everyone abhorred, not whined about, slavery.)

I fell hard for Book Rhett and hated Movie Rhett though so I had trouble reading it again after the initial one. I did keep a list of dirty parts written on a page and tucked in my copy. Because I was a little pervert apparently.

Now, I see Scarlett as she is- spoiled, manipulative, and completely unaware of her dignity as a woman. But with a seventeen-inch waist.

The Second Mrs. DeWinter, age 15

Guys, I loved Rebecca. Another English country manor on the moors where people moped around and loved inappropriate people and had sex in four-poster beds…huh, teenage Kathleen was a little weird, I’m starting to realize now.

Anyway. The Second Mrs. DeWinter is married to an older guy whose wife died tragically and she was young and pretty and sexy and perfect and dead so she gets to stay that way. And, you know, we get to know her name.

#2 mopes through the book, unmoved basically even by admissions of murder and tries to be like Rebecca and even lets her maid dress her up like Rebecca for a party which at the time I thought was tragic, not weird.

(It’s weird, guys.)

I read it over and over again for years until I met a widower and realized I was going to marry him but decided I wanted my children to know my real name. I know, selfish.

Also, you need a lot of chutzpah in that situation. #2 had negative chutzpah. She was a wet, whiny blanket. In fact, I have so many thoughts about this that I think I’m going to read my copy again and blog it. So get excited.

What about now, you ask? These were all fifteen years ago. You’re thirty now, Kathleen. Married, two kids, established in your community. Who are your heroines now?

Easy. My mom. The Blessed Mother. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. My faithful and loving friends. My sister. My daughter.

They really have it figured out. None of those ladies (except Betsy) really did.

Even if there is way less mansion sex in real life.

(And by less I mean none. No mansion sex.)

(It’s okay. A real, true, life-giving marriage is even better.)

Camping. With wine.

That is my Taco Bell face too.

We found Crunchy in time to come along!

This is how I like to camp. Wine and cheese.

 

 

Other people took care of my kids basically and I knit and read like three books.

 

 

Oops.

The best we could do.

Sometimes he listens to me.

He enjoyed stomping around in my boots.

Fishing in 20 mph winds and 45 degree weather. So much fun.

That’s how I feel about that.

Camper snuggles.

Guys. Our power went out and so we didn’t have any water and I still did my makeup. Bam.

It was a gorgeous weekend.

Kathleen Pressure Cooks, Part 3

Okay. My month-long trial of the pressure cooker has ended and I’m…unimpressed.

It’s not that it doesn’t work. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t cut cooking time (actual cooking time) down. It does. It just…doesn’t change my life.

It’s nice to have an option for days I forget to put the crock pot meal together or thaw chicken. That’s awesome. I probably will never hard boiled eggs without it anymore.

But life changing? Nah.

I have found a few good recipes that I enjoyed, especially those of the dry pasta-canned sauce-meat variety. But probably my favorite ones were recipes I already used. Adapting it to the pressure cooker just made things easier for me and sped up the time required.

So here are my favorites.

Pressure Cooker Oriental Chicken

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white or blush wine

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 T brown sugar

4 T water

1 t oregano

1 t ginger

Garlic to taste

Put all ingredients in pressure cooker, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Perform a quick release and serve over rice.

Beef Stew

2 lbs beef stew meat

4 diced potatoes

4 diced carrots

1 stalk celery, diced

1 onion, chopped

3 cups beef broth

1 T Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 t salt and pepper (each)

1 t paprika

1/4 cup flour

1 bay leaf

Put meat and dry ingredients in pot, stir until coated. Add vegetables and liquid. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, perform quick release. Serve with crusty bread.