Martha’s Summer Picnic Extravaganaza

Guys, I recently worked my way through the June issue of Martha Stewart Living and apparently all Martha does all summer is plan extravagant picnics for her nearest and dearest and presumably the people she hates and wants to impress.


I mean, those are the people I’d throw picnics for. But sometimes I’m not such a nice person. I’m working on it. Maybe Martha is further along in her Christ-like journey.

(HEY. It could happen.)

Anyway, June at the farm with Martha! Such a busy time.


Because I’m sure Martha herself is covering those garden paths with salt hay. She probably had to go buy it herself too. Suuure.


Ditto with mowing the fields. Give it up Martha.


Father’s Day, horseback ride. MARTHA DOESN’T NEED NO MAN.

I’m jealous of her workout schedule. Because she’s a lady in her 60s and I’m 29 and have had a load of laundry in the dryer for three days because it’s alllll the way down those steps ugh.


I understand…one or two of these words.


“The busier I am, the more creative I become.” Same, Martha! I say that all the time!

Oh wait, I say “The busier I am the more times I serve my children Aldi pizza or macaroni and cheese in a cup for dinner.”

That’s what I say. Right.


Yeah. Do this. So they can toss everything else and keep the gift card. So please for the love of God DON’T FORGET THE GIFT CARD.

(No one buys me gifts as a homeschooling teacher. I think we should change this.)


Maybe that’s why I have so much trouble getting my five a day- I completely forget my reusable mesh produce bags in my purse!


What if you’re lying on your bed on your stomach while your children are yelling in the bathtub? What exercises should I do then?


7 am roll out of bed hahhahahahahahhah. Sorry. I’m married to an engineer. It’s more like 5.


7 pm dinner? Hahahahahahah what is this Europe?

(Oh wow. It’s official. I’ve become a crazy suburban mom.)


An abomination. That’s what it is.


One is used to murder someone by decapitation and the other using blunt force trauma.

What. I watch a lot of CSI.


Ooh this was also in a CSI episode!


Yep. That’s what I need to do- make more pea-centered daily meal plans. My kids will LOVE THAT!


Hot and annoying.That’s what it would be like.


I went to a picnic last week. I ordered Noodles and just carried it in the bag from my car. Hashtag smarterthanmartha.


Guys guys guys! Know what is always in season??? Chocolate. And whipped cream.


Oh man this guy is gonna be so embarrassed when he hears about this little new company called Crayola.


That looks like a lot of work. Use a test strip? The only strips I use are for seeing if I ovulated and can start having sex again and I’d hate to mix those up with my kids’ paints. Awkward amiright?


And finally, a collection of ugly vases. With…is that celery? Go home, Martha, you’re drunk.

 

 

Magnolia Dreaming

Guys. I am a Fixer Upper fiend. I mean, not actual fixing up. I don’t like to really do things and I really don’t like for things to be left undone so I just kind of…leave them. If I have a project I need done I’ll usually ask my dad. Because for some reason he never says no to me, even though he should have started about fifteen years ago.

No I mean the HGTV show starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love Chip and Joanna. They are amazing. I want to be their friend. I want to be them. I contemplated moving to Waco so I could buy a crappy house and they could hang out with me for six weeks.

I think it’s a testament to the resiliency of the American spirit that when people in my generation hear “Waco” they think not of Branch Davidians and gun battles with the military and, you know, death, but rather PAINT SWATCHES! And OVERPRICED HOME GOODS! And CUPCAKES!

(I’m not kidding. They have a bakery.)

Or maybe not so much a resilient spirit but rather our collective stupidity.

(Either way, when my sister said she was going to Waco a few months ago I was all “WHHAAAA TRY TO STEAL SOME OF JOANNA’S HAIR FOR ME.” And I have an MA in history.)

Anyway.

I love them. I love their show. I watch it sometimes at my mom’s on mute and it’s like Chip and Joanna are telling me it’s going to be okay, and it’s totally fine that my children are running around like crazy people and for some reason always need to be touching each other and yet hate being touched by the other one at the same time. Chip’s eye wrinkles and Joanna’s amazing hair understand.

So when I found out that they had started a magazine, I was like shut up and take my money already.

And it’s here! The little preview issue is finally here!


It’s so gorgeous. There’s high quality photography and cute little conceptual drawings and sweet homey columns from Chip and Joanna and yeah, okay, it’s kind of apparent that they don’t really have enough to say to fill an entire magazine but it’s okay! Because the homespun wisdom! And the adorableness! Just sooo cute!

Look! There’s a whole article about them making smores with their kids. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT????

And Chip’s Corner? At the back? Where he talks about manly things like getting up at 4am because his grandpa taught him that cows are nicer then and he will always know the value of hard work because of his grandpa? I’m not crying. You’re crying. Ahhh America.


I have very little use for this magazine. Like, for serious. I live in the suburbs. I have a normal sized house and despite the fact that I would clean their bathrooms for them, I don’t actually like a lot of the stuff they do design wise. (I’m not an exposed beam kind of girl.) On the first page, which in my fashion magazines is usually taken up by a list of the ways in which I am inferior to other, more attractive women and how to change that so someone might love me some day, there is a step by step guide to growing olive trees in your house. OLIVE TREES. IN YOUR HOUSE. That’s not me.

There’s an entire section on pies and chocolate is not mentioned once. Just a bunch of fruit. Yeesh.

But you know what? I still love it.

It’s so nice and wholesome and just…nice! In the letter from the editor, instead of some scary thin woman harping about how she stopped checking emails in the cab on the way home at 10pm so she could be present when she kissed her kids goodnight, Joanna signs off with “bless your home.” I try to, Joanna! All the time! They are committed to family time. And campfires! And dressing adorably coordinated but not weirdly matchy. Joanna writes about how she feels better with a clean house, and you get the feeling it’s not like the way that there are constant lists of “How to Get Your Home Clutter Free!” in every other magazine, it’s because she’s intentional about it and thinks about how she likes her mind to be free to love her family and not be obsessed with stuff.

And yeah I know I don’t have a guest room and ever if I did I would never be able to get it together to have a lighted candle for them and a bar of dark chocolate because I care “about them…and their health!” but I love reading about people that do!


It’s so nice. It’s sweet. It’s wholesome. There’s so much that isn’t wholesome in the media and world and coming at me and my kids like 24/7. I have to work constantly to combat that, and it’s really hard sometimes. It’s really nice to take an hour every few months and look at a delightful representation of a sweet, homey family.

(And no, I’m not stupid. I know that they probably have their issues. Just like we all do. But THIS MAGAZINE YOU GUYS. SO SWEET.)

You can subscribe at their website- magnoliamarket.com. (And no, I got nothing for writing this. I JUST LOVE THEM LIKE WHOA.)

 

The Way We Were

Guys. I am informed by Facebook’s On This Day feature (which is where I get all my information like kids’ birthdays and my engagement and other crap I’ve lost track of) that six years ago Buzz and I had our second date, when he invited me over to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.

So many warm fuzzy memories of that day- I got to meet my daughter for real, and she handed me Big Baby and gave me a hug goodnight and Buzz sang her Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and  I fell TOTALLY in love with her (and her father but I didn’t want to seem creepy.) Buzz had prepared lemon bars for us to snack on when we went downstairs to watch the movie after Squeaks was asleep. We had Maker’s Mark that he had made a “rum” label for to match the theme of the evening. He sat chastely on his side of the couch, but kept scootching over and then did the stretch and arm around the shoulder thing and I…sat there and did nothing because okay it wasn’t all fuzzy memories a lot of it was stomach churning nausea like when is he going to inquire about my I9 form? Am I a babysitter? Does he make lemon bars for a lot of women? Is the crying normal? WHAT IS THIS ARM THING I AM NOT EXPERIENCED AT THIS DATING AN ACTUAL ADULT MAN GAAAAHHHHH.

So yeah, we were mostly just confused that night. But still! We made an effort. I wore cute clothes (that were in a super cute size.) He baked for me and did the cute rum thing. Both of us had so much fun just sitting next to each other that we watched the whole first POTC movie. And…then the second one. Which sucked more than I remember. And the third one…which really sucked totally bad. And then I finally drove home at crack thirty in the morning happy and confused and just…happy.

We had a date night on the same night last week and things were…a little different.

First we only went out because we had a gift card. Sexy, am I right?

We argued about whether to get a reservation. I said no because we literally have never needed one before. He said yes to be safe. We had to wait twenty minutes. Score one for Buzz.

I wore my very nicest leggings. And shoes with toes and a heel. So that’s pretty enticing, am I right? Buzz put on cologne and changed his t-shirt. ROMANCE GUYS.

We had an awesome dinner where no one tried to impress the other with how little/healthy they ate, and instead we split mozzarella sticks and had burgers and it was glorious and very oniony.

We talked about work and the kids and how I’m excited about my writing future and how Squeaks wants to wear a scapular now. I asked him if he thought I was boring because I have literally nothing to talk about except other people’s excrement and how I write kind of funny things that my mom reads semi-regularly. He looked genuinely surprised and assured me that no, he finds me totally interesting and that my life is what he really cares about- it’s the kids, and me, and our family. That’s the important part.

That made me feel good.

We paid and headed home one drink and 55 minutes after we arrived. We thought about running some errands but we were too tired and the thought of going home to some free wine was more enticing.

Once at home, the grandparents were still around to play with the kids so I was able to take off my leggings and shoes and put on pajama pants. Ahhh. So much better. I had a ton of work to do organizing something for our parish, and he had some work to do…well, providing for us. So we sat on the couch and worked on our laptops on opposite ends. No one scootched. No one really felt the need to.

Slightly different than that day six years ago, Matt did not cuddle and coo and sing Squeaks to sleep. Instead we all yelled at each other (she started it) until she finally went to sleep. Ahhh.

I ate a cookie I found in the fridge from Mother’s Day. I offered one to Buzz, but he just said that horrible things were happening to him because of all the onions so he’d better not. I agreed, based on the smell.

The grandparents left and we continued with our work on the couch for a little bit. Then we said our daily rosary together, and watched an episode of Night Court before collapsing into bed.

That’s a lie. First I washed my face with super expensive old-lady soap. Then I lubed myself up with various moisturizers that are probably the same thing but whatever, they might be different for my neck skin vs my lip wrinkles. Buzz put in his mouth guard. I knocked out 50 pages of my book club book and he read his encyclopedia of oddities, occasionally commenting on one that was super interesting.

All of this was around 10 pm.

It was about as far from six years ago as you could get.

There was no impressing each other. There was no cutesy theme. No one baked for anyone else. We weren’t awkwardly trying to be close to one another. Buzz didn’t smell where my hair had rested on the back of the couch afterwards because he loved the way it smelled.

It was way, way better than that.

We aren’t unsure of each other anymore. We love each other and have yoked our entire lives and salvation to one another. We don’t need to pretend to be super crafty or baking or skinny or whatever. We’re just us. And we love each other.

We got to talk about our babies. We have babies (plural.) The fact of Buddy’s existence never ceases to amaze us and make us so thankful for each other. We had seven-year-old problems with our seven-year-old daughter. That’s awesome. She’s amazing and I’m so unbelievably lucky that I got to stick around after that day to raise her, not just think she was a pretty cute kid I met this one time. We talked about what we do to run our lives, and how wonderful (albeit pedestrian and boring) it is. We enjoyed a night to ourselves.

We worked side by side, just enjoying being with each other. We prayed together, something I never thought I’d do with my husband because it always seemed suuuuper lame, amiright? But now I can’t imagine my life without it. We relaxed and watched a stupid show that we both love and then fell asleep in our bed because we’re married and we have a life and a home together and that’s so much more exciting than first date jitters.

Romance is good. It’s wonderful. You need it in your relationship. It just sometimes looks different than it used to.



 

Things I Learned This Year

  • I can go for 38 weeks and then I am finished. Fi. Nished.
  • My daughter can go for 38 weeks and then she is equally sick of a regular schedule.
  • I am really pretty good at teaching elementary school math and English.
  • I am really pretty bad at faking interest in stupid supplemental books on subjects in which I have advanced degrees.
  • I am a bad mother on days when I wear my pajamas. On those days, I just need to give up and be nice to my kids and accept that nothing is going to get accomplished.
  • Taking care of myself spiritually is the biggest change we made this year, and it’s been the best thing.
  • Similarly, living according to the liturgical year has been a blessing to our whole family.
  • Ditto for going to weekday Mass occasionally.
  • At least, I think it is. They’re still horribly behaved in Mass.
  • I need chunks of time off after holidays to recover.
  • I need chunks of wine after the holidays to recover. (Sorry, wrong list.)
  • I really really dislike most American history books.
  • I really really love hearing my babies say prayers in Latin.
  • I can convince a seven-year-old that flash cards are a game. ???
  • Cuddles in the morning before our day begins? Best thing ever.

A Buddy Tale, Part 2

So some of my friends suggested websites to track down an original Super Why cereal box to hide the FAKE AND DISGUSTING cereal in it. I had thought of this but didn’t realize there were still any places to get such a thing.

So! $12 later, I had a dented box of cereal with the Super Why guy on it (does he have a name? I don’t know.) from Amazon and an evil plan in my head.

First, Buddy refused to eat even the real Super Why cereal, having been burned by my attempts to keep him nourished before. 

After I convinced him that this was the good stuff, he devoured the box. 

Now. The moment of truth. I switched the bags. Would he believe it was the same if he could see the box? We all know the the did not appreciate being given the cereal with the offending box hidden in the cabinet. 

I poured the bowl in front of him. He eagerly picked up his spoon. 

And froze.

“Mommy, did not super why cereal.”

“No buddy! It is! See????”

“*sobs brokenly* No! It’s not! Will you turn it back to normal please???”

So. That went well. 

A Buddy Tale

So Buddy loves this one kind of cereal. And by loves, I mean to the exclusion of all other cereals. One morning when we ran out he literally had a bowl of milk for breakfast.

Like a cat.

(Not my proudest moment, but meh. Whatever. He’s alive and milk is healthy. I think that’s a win.)

The cereal is AlphaBits with the Super Why guy on the box. It is only sold at select Targets, and on target.com. I am trying to avoid Target because it turns out I’m literally just a mom blog post come to life and I can’t leave without a throw pillow or something and I’m trying really hard to stick to a budget because my husband is so much better with money than I am and I already feel badly because I don’t bring anything in and I literally just spend everything because I’m in charge of the household and…whoa. That got real.

ANYWAY.

I buy them online every few months, in packages of ten boxes. Then shipping is free and we avoid any other embarrassing cat-like moments.

So imagine my horror when my most recent order arrived on my doorstep. I opened the box. And…where the f&*( is Super Why??? Who are these pirate people. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING. They changed sponsors. Oh. Oh no.

Oh. This is not going to be good.

I quickly hid the boxes. The cereal looks almost exactly the same, a little bit bigger perhaps. It tastes the same. (Saccharine and annoying.) It’s okay. I can just serve it to him in a bowl and he’ll never notice.

First meal with new “Super Why” AlphaBits. I slide the bowl in front of Buddy and he eagerly picks up his spoon…

…and stops dead in his tracks. He stares at the bowl. He stares at me. He picks up a a letter and smells it. (I KNOW OKAY. BUT I CANNOT DEAL WITH ANY MORE THERAPY RIGHT NOW.)

He takes several deep whiffs. He places it on his lips. (Not his tongue.) He puts it back in the bowl and glares at me accusingly.

“Mommy. Dis not SuperWhy cereal.”

Head, meet desk.

“Buddy! It is! It’s SuperWhy cereal! See! It’s all your letters!’

“No. Dis not SuperWhy cereal. I have milk in a bowl?”

So excuse me while I got research Target’s return policy for TEN BOXES OF ALPHABITS.

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Joiner

For only sharing half of their genetic makeup, my children are remarkably similar. They look the same, especially as babies. They react in much the same way to frustrations. They both have picked up my facial expressions, which is hilarious and horrifying. They both ate anything in a soy sauce marinade before any other adult flavor. They have the oddest sense of fashion I have ever encountered. 

They’re both, of course, perfect. 

There is one way in which the genetics totally tells, though. My daughter is brilliant, outgoing, and would join a hiking group through the Himalayas because she just loves to be with people all the time! Doing things! 

My son is brilliant, outgoing, and would be content cuddling with me on the couch doing nothing with no one for the next thirty years.

My daughter resembles all the stories I’ve heard about her biological mother- fun and people-loving and always interested in a fun activity.

My son resembles me, who sometimes thinks about when I used to think I was going to die alone and wonders what was so bad about that?

I really, really don’t like doing things. I love my friends. I love getting together with them. I really do. But if you ask me for an example of a perfect day, it will involve my book and my coffee and maaaaybe my husband but that is definitely it. I’m totally happy being by myself and doing things at home.

I was like that as a kid too. I really loved things I could do myself- horseback riding and gymnastics and reading. I really hated things I had to do in a group- 4H and Girl Scouts and…conventional education.

Buddy is a lot like that. For instance, we’ve gone to a few homeschooling groups. Squeaks runs away from me to join the crowd and learn stuff and make glittery crap I’m going to have to throw away after she goes to bed.

Buddy is either flat on the floor in political prisoner mode refusing to move, or throwing the biggest most embarrassing fit ever. 

(Have you ever seen a group of homeschoolers? THEY’RE PERFECTLY BEHAVED.) 

It’s gotten to a point where I’ve had to stop threatening him with going home when he’s misbehaving because he immediately beams and says, “OKAY!” 

So I signed him up for toddler gymnastics with some trepidation. I figured it would be 30 minutes of me cajoling him into the gym, assuring him that running around like a crazy person was in fact a super fun way to spend the afternoon, and then barricading the door so he couldn’t get out and run for home.

We got there yesterday a few minutes early. I watched him carefully for signs of clinginess, half wanting them, figuring at least then I could go home and get dinner going. (I’m still not a joiner.) 

Instead he puffed up his chest and said, “Me not scared. Me brave.” Okay then.


And then he proceeded to run after the teacher and do everything he was supposed to and generally act like a normal kid who was happy to be doing something other than watching Pocoyo while sitting on my head to get as close to me as possible.


Maybe he is a joiner a little bit too. 

What even am I?

I’ve spent a lot of this last academic year changing my mind and figuring out what I think about things. A lot has changed in the last year- in the world, in the church, in my family, and even in my children.

We’re in a…precarious position in the United States. We’re in a…precarious position as traditional Catholics. Seven and four is way different than six and three for kids in terms of needing explanations for things.

So it make sense that this blog, which has always been an opportunity for me to vomit on the computer screen whatever it is I’m thinking of or worrying about make it remotely funny, has been changing a little bit this year too. I finally made my mind up that I would post regularly on Tuesday and Thursday, mostly because I love a schedule. But I dabbled in makeup and stuff and…meh.

I’m not a beauty blogger. I won’t ever be a real beauty blogger. I realized I just don’t care enough. It’s not my passion. I love makeup. It’s super fun. I’m still going to write about fun new makeup I get and stuff if it makes sense to, but I realized that I’m not a beauty blogger.

I feel like we hit our stride with homeschooling this year. Last year was such a mess with me being…a mess, and Squeaks being…a mess, and just…well, mess. This year though, we’ve been great. I’ve made an effort to take care of myself spiritually too, which has completely changed the way I relate to my kids and their education.

I love homeschooling. I’m super happy homeschooling. I love writing about how it impacts our family, and the changes it has led to in our family.

I love exploring my faith and growing even deeper in my knowledge of the Church. So long I was focused on academic understanding, and that’s great. It has helped me so much to understand the history of the Church. But in the last year I’ve begun to experience it more fully and I love that. I love writing about that.

I have an opportunity to start writing for a Catholic blog, and I’m super excited to begin that.

It won’t change anything here- I’m still going to post twice a week with ridiculous things that cross my mind. But it did make me realize that this is who I am. I’m a homeschooling mom who loves the Catholic Church who swears sometimes. And also likes a good long-wearing eyeliner.

And I’m fine with that. I don’t need a YouTube channel and a go pro and followers. I love just writing about what is really important to me right now at this season of my life.

It's a good thing. 

Guys it’s time for my favorite part of the month! Reading Martha Stewart Living and hating myself!

I like to think of myself as a Martha Stewart girl. I genuinely love entertaining. I love pretty things. I can organize the heck out of just about anything. I use washi tape in my planner. I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO MARTHA. MAKE ME YOUR SERVANT.

But then the actual reality of my life does not always (i.e., never) actually match up with the story in my head. My kids eat almost exclusively Super Why cereal. I love to entertain but it’s super hard to find babysitters. Most of my pretty things have had to be moved away from little grubby hands. I can organize tons of crap, but only because if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t even be able to put pants on most days.

I only use washi tape in my planner because I so frequently write things down incorrectly.

Tonight might be a new low, though. I’m reading this while eating cold pizza on a kids plate I pulled out of the (maybe clean?) dishwasher. And it’s the March issue. It’s the end of April. Like, the last day of April. Oh well.


Anyway! Let’s begin shall we???


Letter from the Editor- always a good start. The pretty bland lady clad entirely in white and leaning against a chair or something has words of wisdom JUST FOR ME, right? I’m sure she does. Oh, this month it’s about how she had to stop emailing people back all day long and enjoy her meals.

Um, okay. I’ll get on that as soon as someone other than Amazon emails me and I’m past the eating-cold-kid-leftovers season of my life.


Oh! Here’s a story on entertaining! Martha created a space-themed birthday party bonanza for her grandkids. For my children, I stuck a Curious George figure on a cake, bought a bunch of the really big bottles of wine, uncorked them, let 30 people allegedly related to me into my house, and sat outside drinking with my mom.

Funny, no one took pictures.

Nope. This will not be cute. This will look like you’re putting cheap mirrors on a pizza cutting board. Even I, in my pajamas and cold pizza, think that’s ridiculous.


YAAAAS MARTHA. Here  is a trend I can get behind. Peel off wallpaper. I’m still scarred from scraping wallpaper off of EVERY WALL IN THIS HOUSE with a screwdriver. A SCREWDRIVER. YES. YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

So hey. I am all behind peel off wallpaper. Sign me up, Martha.

I mean, not me. Because right now I have pizza grease on my hands. But still.


Probs not very, Martha. Did you read the beginning of the post?


I want to be in the season of my life where I can spend $104 on a pen to make grocery lists. I’m still using the $10.99 pack I got for a baby shower a few years ago.


Easy. Don’t get cats. They’re Satan’s minions.


For even easier grating, buy a bag of grated cheese.


I don’t know, I always thought that I was pretty boring and white bread, but maybe I’m more on the edge than I thought. Because I have never felt like breakfast for dinner was rebellious.


Ooh! Yes! I want a vegetable garden! I have super fun images of myself wandering my gorgeous backyard in capris and cute flats with a hoe or something. Gathering my zucchini, etc, etc, etc. Imma read this.


Oh. Looks like a lot of steps. there’s like a whole part about figuring out where to put it. You don’t just buy containers and seeds and go to town?


Oh wow a building project too. Nope.


Oh, you’ve got to like plan it. Huh. That seems like a lot of work.  Also, last frost date? Bahahahha I live in the frozen tundra, bitch. I’ll let you know what weekend in June our last frost is.


I like how they combine all the actual work (or what I thought was the actual work) into one step right at the end. JUST TAKE CARE OF THEM AND GATHER THEM UP AND MAKE DINNER. IT’S FINE. IT’S JUST ONE STEP. YOU CAN DO IT.

You know what, maybe I’m not at the vegetable-garden season of my life either.


You know, I’ve always wanted a family friendly safari. For when I REALLY can’t stand my kids and want them to be eaten by lions. 

Oooh the last page is always collections. Or, as I like to call it- Shit Your Grandkids Are Going to Throw Away When You Die. While peeling your wallpaper off. This month- Little Crappy Boxes that You Can’t Fit Anything In But For Some Reason Even I have Like Ten of Them.


Also a turtle.