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Yes, already, don’t tell me it’s autumn (my favorite season because of apples, not pumpkins) because in Minnesota it is a quick downward spiral to below zero temps. So yes, while I’m trying to soak up the beautiful leaves changing and the puffy vests, I know what’s coming.

Combine that knowledge with the fact that it gets increasingly difficult for my big belly to crawl into the attic to get winter stuff out (and baby girl–did I tell you we found out it’s a girl! And we named her so the kids will definitely blurt it out if they see you in person), and I’m prepping for winter.

First, I did my least favorite chore: sorted the kids summerish-don’t-fit-anymore clothing and made a stack of things to store upstairs. SuperBoy is only six but he’s a seven in length and a five in waist so that makes clothing . . . interesting. Thank goodness for those internal elastic button things and for uniform pants. SweetPea is still very petite but now tall-ish so we have the waist of 2-3T and the length of 4T. Again, grateful that I can and have made a ton of leggings for her lanky skinny bum. MonsterTot is a typical 2T so his sizing is easier.

Second, I took stock in what I have for the toddler–many of my favorite winter items were used by both kids and therefore pretty demolished (wool sweaters, wool socks, etc) and the state of hand-me-downs for the older two. My very generous cousin and a few friends have given us entire wardrobes!!

Thirdly, I started online thrifting and deal hunting for the things I know we need.

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V E S T S

The kids love these ones and SweetPea has a horse one from an older collection I found on eBay. It is still a little big on her and will probably last another year or two. We’re set for this year, but the boys will need to size-up in the spring, probably.

 

L O N G  U N D E R W E A R

Go with merino wool! We have loads of it and it is so perfect for layering as they never sweat in it. It also is great for pjs. I have to store ours in a cedar chest during the spring and summer or the moths get their little teeth into them. So annoying.

 

S W E A T E R S

Just got this and told MonsterTot it was a hockey jersey. He now loves it. And someone put it in the dryer and it’s still fine and didn’t shrink. Amazing for wool!

I’m kinda obsessed with this, too. I’ve written about their work before but it’s promoting small business and self-sufficiency for African moms and I love the sweaters we have from them.

And because dinosaurs.

 

F E E T

Maybe these TOMS with faux shearling lining.

I bought a pair of these real sheepskin booties for SweetPea last winter and they’re still in great shape. #shopsmall

MonsterTot needs new sneakers so I snagged these.

If you don’t have Bogs for the winter for your kids, you’re missing out. They also double as rain boots.

 

W I N T E R // G E A R

I’m a real loyal fan of Polarn O Pyret the swedish company, but lots of other brands are sturdy and hold up for lots of wear and washing in the winter. Smart wool, Land’s End, REI, etc.

If you buy nothing else, get these mitten clips.

Hats//Neck

Go with merino wool. It is waterproof and breathes. Poly blends just get wet. I know. I lived many years skiing as a kid with a wet neck warmer that was fleece. For wee babes, I like a balaclava. Not to be confused with baklava.

Mittens

Wool is great for tiny kids but for anyone making snowballs, I prefer something like this (on major sale right now).

Coats//Pants

Baby snowsuit (on sale right now)

I do separate snow pants & coats for the older kids and buy them in the spring when they’re on sale for the following winter. I just get colors for SuperBoy I know SweetPea will like or at least not loathe. So far, so good. I buy the costly ones but they hold up and the kids can play in subzero temps and not get cold. For real.

Boots we do Bogs from about now til May.

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*amazon links mean I get a few cents if you shop through so thanks!

 

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Hi friends! Linking up with Kelly & crew. I feel like I’ve been so absent from my lil blog lately and it’s mostly been because of the wonderful weekend retreat we hosted for the Blessed is She team, but also a little because getting into the groove of having a first grader and part-time preschooler means I’m living in my car.

People always talked about being a mom meant living in your car.

I had no idea what they meant.

1//

My car has bug spray, raisins, wipes, water bottles, a variety of Jim Weiss cds, and a handful of changes of clothing. And these are the items I actually have planned to have in there. Remnants of all of them are scattered and dug into the upholstery. First grade is awesome! SuperBoy loves it so much. I’m getting accustomed to not worrying about what he’s doing and just cherish that he is enjoying himself, learning, and making new friends.

A handful of hours a week of nature prek has been a dream for our lil SweetPea! I was (of course, really? yes, of course) more nervous than she was as she watched her big bro go through it all last year. She never says goodbye, she tells me to leave her at the classroom door, and she can’t contain her joy when we pick her up because she got really, really muddy. She’s doing Catechesis too and her favorite part? Playing with lentils because “they’re like dog food.” There you go. Real holy roller.

The MonsterTot (formerly BabyLoves? How does one re-nickname a cute toddler who still bites?) and I nap. And that’s our life between driving around.

2//

BiS

The Blessed is She retreat was amazing! Jenna Guizar has founded an incredible movement. We had over 20 women fly in from around the country that are writers and creatives, and then the nine amazing local gals here drove them all from the airport to our house. We kinda played grown-up camp and spent Friday gabbing, with some ladies exploring Saint Paul, and others just nestling into the house and the fudge my mom made. We zipped out to the Lodge Friday night in one long line of cars and made a bonfire (well, one of us is a girl scout so she made it and we cheered), roasted smores (it had been a decade or two for me), prayed a Rosary, and generally got to go deep fast in conversations.

Saturday was a handful of workshops & business talks with ample opportunities for milling about (or resting for the introverts), a hike on the property, and small group discussion. My amazing mom, sister, and dear friend Shea worked tirelessly to prep our meals and clean up after us. I even had an hour nap in! Spoiled!

We did haul all of our butts + 6 babies to the little country night mass Saturday night only to discover VIA A NOTE ON THE DOOR that Mass time had changed to an hour earlier in a neighboring small town. Really? REALLY?? But it meant we got to snuggle in the dark woods of the night (inside, though, because: bugs) with our vino, array of desserts, and hear a spiritual visionary talk by one of our writers. She leads retreats and you can tell. The candles all lit provided the perfect ambiance for it and so really, really, it was okay that night mass was cancelled.

Sunday was a day for quiche, leftovers, Mass (six pews filled by us!), and trips to the airport. Some ladies got to go back to the cities to attend Erica’s art workshop (look for one in your city!), and others got to help me move the 10 mattresses we had hauled out there onto the porch. Yes, it was a lot of floor beds and some ladies even slept in large closets (true troopers).

I hated to watch them file out of the door. I just wanted for all of us to stay frozen in that moment in time, together, able to hug and comfort and encourage each other. It felt very nostalgic while taking place, which is a real juxtaposition. Follow #bisteamretreat if you want to see our social media pics!

Back to normal life, but I feel very fortified by the prayers & love & community we’re building with Blessed is She. If you aren’t a (free) subscriber to the daily devotional emails, you should be. And we’re having a Blessed Brunch west of the Cities this Saturday! And Susanna runs a Blessed is She small group in Saint Paul! So many ways to connect.

3//

Probably due to the joy and not sleeping because I stayed up late talking talking talking, my hyperemesis which had felt under control with medication and watching my exertion has flared up again. This morning while leaning over a bucket while on the toilet I thought, why do my kids wait until this moment to start hitting each other? as the shrieks shook the bathroom door. Why do I even bother closing the door? Closed door = bad behavior. I guess I was trying to spare them any trauma of watching me be sick? Seems like they’re not that bothered by it–except as an incentive to whack each other with any available tools/weapons.

I’m 27 1/2 weeks. This little girl will come soon enough and then I’ll have new challenges and throwing up will be behind me. I’m just reminding myself this is one particular physical challenge. But hey, none of my kids are doing drugs or experiencing psychotic breaks or need extended hospital stays. So really? This part of parenting and growing a baby is hard but it’s not as bad as parenting gets. Not by a long shot.

4//

I made these pumpkin bars for the retreat. And then I ate a ton of them. Probably not smart. BUT SO GOOD.

5//

Today is my last day for Whole Parenting Goods baby leggings pre-sale! I’ll be spending the next two weeks sewing up all your orders so I had to have a cutoff at some point. Although I actually only have a lil fabric left in the more dainty of fabrics! If you want to snag some, use code {shippingfree} and get ’em while you can.

Next I’m finishing up my winter blankets & gift sets. Then probably taking a longish break after this Christmas baby girl arrives. I’ll miss it. I love working with textiles so very, very much.

6//

Hallie’s book  . . . can’t wait to read it. Jenna’s new book . . . coming out soon and I loved her other one so this one will be great! Cristina’s shop is open and I love all of her work . . . .Rakhi’s prints are so so beautiful . . . I love watching talented friends do such beautiful things with their talents!

7//

Finding a routine for a prayer life has been really hard. So has finding a routine for anything, everything (working out? meal planning? errand running?). I am frustrated with myself for not being out of survival mode yet, and entering my third trimester still feeling like each day is an avalanche. I know this is how pregnancy is for me, but it’s very humbling.

I have found solace in my husband’s running. His marathon is in two weeks and somehow him having a regularity (he trains 7 days a week in the very early hours) has given me something to cling to that is of certainty. AA will run and be happier as a result so even if the house is wreck and I have unintended dreds, again, it’s okay.

If anyone has finding-a-routine-while-feeling-sick tips, tell me! I don’t have a ton of energy but I really aspire to get out of this rut. If possible. I’m also feeling larger than a house so I might actually be stuck, physically, in the rut.

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It’s not the screaming. It’s not the tantruming. It’s not even the incessant stream of fights that break out only when I’m in the bathroom. Or the sticky mashup of oats & bananas that turns to concrete under their chairs.

It’s the household. Instead of having a job with measured successes and failures, my experience as an at-home mom is that now my measurable success or failure is my house. How clean is it? How tidy? How organized? How decorated? How cluttered? How beautiful?

Now I’m not even talking about what other people think. I’m sure people come into our home and think beautiful 100 year old architecture with 100 year old cobwebs, too? It’s never super clean unless we’re having an actual party (sorry friends who come by! I will not dust most likely. I may run a vacuum.). It’s usually semi-tidy with great efforts on everyone’s behalf. But the reason why it feels like a mirror to my internal success as an at-home parent is because it is where I am and what I do all day long.

To me, it feels cluttered even if I just purged and cleaned. To me, it feels like the kitchen floor is goopy again even if I just mopped yesterday. To me, the inability to stay on top of every load of laundry feels like epic failure, akin to not turning in a legal brief before the court’s deadline. To me, the stack of dishes in the sink that may not get washed before my husband gets home feels like I’m slacking on the job. To me, my home feels a reflection of my competence in my “job.”

Social media doesn’t help, but for me, doesn’t hinder that much. Sure, that one lady whose photos all have the same hue & filter, and whose open cabinets in her kitchen look pristine despite three kids makes my messy kitchen look askance. But truly, if anything, I’m inspired by the women who are dedicated to the repeat and mundane inexhaustible work of keeping a house looking and functioning nicely.

When I step back and remember that I am not my dirty house, and my mothering is not my dirty house, and my children are not my dirty house, I can once again believe that the real work I’m doing here is forming and shaping and loving and enduring little lives.

Yes, their environment is important. No, it’s not more important to have a perfect home than books that are well-read, couches that have deep dips from long snuggles, and toys that are so loved they’re strewn about for arm’s reach at any given time. (You might rock both–not knocking you–I just can’t do environment + child rearing simultaneously well.)

I refuse today, and moving forward, to let my anxiety and stress levels adhere themselves to the barometer of how clean my house is in this moment. Yeah, I have to work at tidying every day and cleaning more than once a month. My house is here to serve our needs as a family, not as a museum for our family to worship in. I’m a steward of it, not a slave to it.

That’s a jumble of metaphors for you.

If your efforts at minimalism and insta-perfect living are driving you crazy, I hope you can let it go, too. Not to be a complete sloth, but to be a person whose priorities are properly aligned: relationships first, possessions way down on the list.

Also, if you have the inclination and joyful ability to have a stellar home and small kids, I give you massive praise. This isn’t me. I’d rather be sewing. A few of my fall leggings left!

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