Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away







Come again in a few weeks once I've got the garden planted.

Thanks to unseasonable cold streaks and days of rain I haven't gotten a single thing in the ground.
How about you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle for a Working Mom!

I was very excited when Haley told me about the bundle that "Feast" was going to be featured in.  It seemed like a great deal just on it's own and then I got the details and couldn't believe it.  So much information for such a small price. 


 So why is an employed mother trying to sell you a "homemaking bundle"?  Because ladies, it doesn't matter where are days are spent, we're all homemakers.  We all can use some advice and helpful resources to make our homes run a little smoother.  I actually consider myself a homemaker at heart, because that's where my focus is and that's one of the ways my family wins.

 These are a few of the sections, as an employed Mom, that I'm really looking forward to:

 



*I am an affiliate for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and will make a portion of the sales that my particular affiliate link makes.  However, I do not blog purely for profit and do not promote anything I do no personal use or support.  I do think this is an amazing resource for any family*

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Motto of the Working Mother

 Today I'm guesting posting over at Carrots for Michaelmas about the big secret of staying family focused as a working mother.

"A perfect little house with just enough space to be comfortable and cozy.  A yard big enough for adventures and exploration.  A gaggle of smiling children.  The ability to put real, wholesome food on the table for every meal.  Hours spent living and growing in our lives together.  A comfortable existence where every need is provided for and wants are never indulged too much.   I see myself as the matriarch of this little dreamland; with enough hours in the days and no outside commitments except those we make as a family.  These are the little things I daydream about and  what my life does not look like.

In reality I am a working mother; or as I prefer an “employed” mother.  I am not a woman who finds part of her vocation in a career or path that requires paid work outside the home, but just another woman trying to do right by her family.  I am thankful for the job I have with its great benefits, understanding supervisors and non-standard schedule, but I’d rather be at home.  My heart resides in my home, where my true vocation is, no matter where I spend my time.  My focus is always on my family."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Easter Edition



Dyeing eggs the old fashioned way - Paas tablets from the grocery store.



Which apparently make pretty decent watercolors

Which, as it turns out, are a good way to distract your family while you set up the Resurrection Rolls (which failed rather spectacularly).

So instead of yummy rolls, you get instant Easter decorations.

That don't look too shabby.

Now for something completely different - a little linking up with Kendra-

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

Here's H. and I.  Daddy didn't have the day off.

That's no camera trick.  I really am that short and my 3 year old is that tall.


We were *that* family who sat in the front row only to have a child have an epic meltdown right before the consecration.  It was, well, epic.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

We do Santa and the Easter Bunny.  Plain and simple.  I don't think I'm "lying" to my kids anymore by playing along with these fantasy creatures than I do on a semi-regular basis about if there are any cookies in the house.  I think make believe is good for the mind, and we make sure that these gift-givers are closely tied into the real reason we celebrate the holidays.

In our house these are the kind of things the Easter bunny brings - religious books, wooden farm animals, outside toys and some candy.


The Easter Bunny brings fun things and hides eggs in our house and is never seen.  He does not lurk around in malls.  No creepy mall Bunny here.


3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?

If we had a big enough house to comfortably host everyone I like having people over, but we don't so they're usually at someone else's house.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?
Like Kendra, Reese Peanut Butter Cups

5. Do you like video games?
I get bored with them easily.  I don't really see the draw to spending long amounts of time on something that doesn't really have anything to show for it.

6. Do you speak another language?
I know a little Spanish, but nothing close to fluency. 

We might have told H. that dinosaurs were going to hatch out of the broken ones....
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

{Postcards} Good Friday



Hot Cross Buns after dinner.
From the store, not worth getting again.  Maybe homemade next year.
Introduction to the whole story.  (Thank you Bonnie and Kendra)

First impression:
"Jesus needs some band-aids."

Lord, send your abundant blessing upon you people
who devoutly recall the death of your Son
in the sure hope of the Resurrection.
Grant us pardon; bring us comfort.
May our faith grow stronger
and our eternal salvation be assured."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I "Love Good Music": 5 Favorites and a Special Offer!

I love finding new music, but recently have had trouble finding music that suits my tastes, but is good enough in the right ways to listen to with the whole family in the car.  I was thrilled to learn about the "Love Good Music" project.  It's a great way to support emerging artists and get a monthly dose of new, good music.

For $15 a month I get a free digital download and a hardcopy of a new artist to keep or share.  It's a great deal and something I feel good supporting.  And speaking of supporting, they're trying to grow their company right now and I get to offer you a sweet deal.  You'll find more about at the bottom of this post!

A little bit about LGM in their own words:
Love Good Music is a community of music lovers who believe that good music can change the world. Our ongoing crowd-funding helps artists we believe in release new music we can live by. In exchange for our patronage, we receive a brand new album every month featuring the best new music across genres.
The vision is far-reaching and hopes to bring art and beauty back into the forefront of the music industry and the culture at large. Most of the artists associated with Love Good Music have had considerable success funding new projects through Kickstarter and other crowd-funding resources. Many of these projects have gone on to sell tens of thousands of copies in countries all over the world, and we realize more than ever that there are countless people out their who believe in good music and are willing to support this growing community of artists and their new projects from start to finish.
Patronage is not a new concept. It's as old as western civilization. We hope to bring it back as the primary source of funding for new records so artists have the space to be free and creative in their craft and not tied down to Billboard charts and Clear Channel markets.

**********

So today I'm going to share with you my favorite finds from the Love Good Music project.

1.
"Alanna-Marie Boudreau is one of those rare singer/songwriters whose music makes you smile just as easily as her vulnerability stirs your heart. This collection of seven songs comprises her debut EP, Hands in the Land. Deeply poetic and often playful, Alanna-Marie explores the depths of her own humanity throughout this project - asking the difficult questions of love, friendship, family, and forgiveness."

Favorite Song:
Boy on a Bicycle

2.
"You will not be disappointed by the latest offering from the very talented indie/jazz/pop/folk artist Colleen Nixon. You probably know her best as the voice of Marian Grace, where she has collaborated with Jimmy Mitchell to breathe new life into ancient hymns and sold thousands of albums across the world. You may even be familiar with her EP entitled Love Is In The Details that released in 2009 under her maiden name, Colleen McCarron. You now have the opportunity to own the very best in original songs from one of the finest up-and-coming indie artists on the scene with her full-length debut album."

Favorite Song:
"Body & Soul"

3.
"At times, a sleight, speckled songbird leading you through a dream you barely knew you were having; at others, Rebecca Roubion presents as a barely-hinged crooner, desperate to share the truths she’s tried and tested in the trenches of life and love. Raised in the Heart of Dixie and a Nashville transplant, Roubion is more than a pretty face with a song" 

Favorite Song:
"Vacherie Girl"

4.
 "In early 2011 after finishing touring behind O Tall Tree, Roman Candle began writing ideas for a new record. Skip and Timshel packed their family (with their three little boys) into a tour van and drove across the country to work on lyrics and play house concerts.  Working around day jobs, new marriages, and family life, most recording sessions began around 9 pm. Children slept on pallets on the floor of a sound proof booth. Friends and family came and went for meals and collaboration. Over a series of collected nights throughout the next several months, the 11 songs of Debris became a record. "

Favorite Song:
"Every Time"

5.
"After marrying in 2012, Greg & Lizzy naturally began writing and sharing songs from the heart of their relationship, offering healthy doses of humor and joy, along with fears, trials, and the ultimate triumph of authentic love. To the Dust is a collection of 13 original songs inspired by their own experiences of love, faith, and marriage. Expressed via sincere artistry and lyrical depth, which is never forced and often surprising, the entire album is infused with poetic insights born from Blessed John Paul II's teachings on authentic love."

Favorite Song:
"You Make Me Happy" 


Go HERE to check out all their good works!
Check them out on Facebook, too. 
Do you Love Good Music? Become a Patron today!
 We are a community of music lovers who believe that good music can change the world. Our ongoing crowd-funding helps artists we believe in release a new album every month!
 
If you'd like to become a patron you can use the coupon code:
MOLLYWALTER
to receive $5 off your subscription and it's SO worth it!
This coupon code is for $5 off indeffinitely, so if you become a $15 patron, you'll only pay $10.  Always.
Support good musicians with good messages today!  
If you "LOVE GOOD MUSIC"  you'll love this.


*The opinions expressed here are purely my own personal enthusiams.  I have not be reimbursed in any way to share this. HOWEVER, LGM is currently hosting a contest.  The person with the most new subscribers under their coupon code can win some awesome prizes, including a trip to Nashville or a concert in their town among others and OF COURSE I want to win!"

Linking up with Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites.

Monday, April 14, 2014

All Laid Out: A Cross Section of an Employed Mother

I’m getting ready to write a guest post for Haley about being a working mother, or as I prefer it an "employed mother", and realized that I don’t think many of your know the why’s and how’s of my daily life.  To be honest, and this is what I’ll be writing about for Haley, my job is not my priority so I try my best not to even think about it when I’m not there.  However, it is a very real part of my life and one that I don’t always handle with perfect grace.  I grumble, lament and curse the necessity of my outside job, a lot.  It is something I’d leave behind me in a heartbeat, but for now it is a very real part of my life.


The Whys -


The long and short of it is that before my first child was born my husband and I changed our lives 180 degrees - we left jobs that didn’t allow for family time, required long commutes or high levels of stress and started over just months before our first son arrived.  With this change came the dreaded pay cut, which just over three years later we are fully recovered from.  We could have tried being a single income family, but my battle with ante-partum depression and severe anxiety during these life changes showed us clearly, through the Grace of God, that what we needed was something resembling financial stability.  My anxiety is triggered strongly by financial problems, and though I often forget I do know that I’m a happier, more carefree mother by not having the constant stress of insufficient finances to deal with.  

*My heartfelt and sincere appreciation to all those families who are able to thrive on smaller incomes than I feel comfortable with.  You are amazing people and have my utmost respect for the sacrifices you make and work you put into run comfortable, stable and loving homes on your budgets.*


The How -


So we took jobs, just regular jobs - he at a call center for a major Insurance company and I as a Pharmacy Tech for a local hospital - that gave us what we needed to move on from such a drastic upheaval.  We use our schedules to keep our son at home with one or both parents, or a visiting family member about twenty-four days a month or more while both of us work full time.  The jobs are not flashy or really that important in the grand scheme of things, but the unique, flexible schedules, benefits and moderate incomes have been the gift we needed to grow as a family.  We are more open to life, charitable, healthier and happier than we ever were in our previous careers, but our jobs are not our lives.  They are things we do to support the life we want; at the heart of the matter we are family focused parents to the core.


The Details -


My husband and I make just over our ages followed by three zero’s.  Together our incomes mean we’re comfortable and after the last years raises we’re once again making a dent in debt payoff and savings.  My husband’s income is enough to cover our bills - student loans, housing, utilities, etc.  My income provides our budget for food, necessary childcare, other necessities and a buffer for carefully budgeted wants.  My job also provides our insurance which, thanks to my wonderful employer, costs us nothing monthly and we have had few to none out of pocket expenses (even after my two surgeries this last year).  We both receive other insurances and retirement contributions as part of our comprehensive package.  Despite our additional income we still budget carefully, and focus on spending wisely - we do not have smart phones, cable, new cars, fantastic vacations or anything of those things a dual income family is thought to have.


The Schedule -
To get a good feel for our lives you have to look at it in two week periods, because that’s how my schedule rotates.  (Note - I also work a 7 - 3:30 shift, but 6:30 is my main start time)

H= husband's schedule M= Molly's schedule


Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8: 30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



The kiddo goes to grandma’s every other Sunday and day care most Tuesdays and then every other Wednesdays.  Henry’s great-grandparents love to come visit and try to plan their trips with our daycare needs.  In a great month he only goes to daycare twice. The rest of the days are with me or Daddy.  On all of my days off the husband works a 12 hour shift except for the two Saturdays every month together, all day.  We have a lunch date tradition where the husband and H. come to my work every Friday and H. and I try to be home during daddy's lunch break on his work days as often as we can.  An average day starts around 5:30 a.m. and ends around 11 p.m. and somewhere in between all that is what you see on this blog.


The How’s -


I look at my life in “work days” and “ home days” and there are particular things I do on one that I don’t do on the other.



Work Days
Home Days
Things I Do
Full job requirements, commute, pick up from daycare, make dinner, bathe child, read books with kiddo, take a bath while kiddo and daddy are playing and basic family oriented activities like taking a walk together or taking dinner to the park, Mass when applicable.
Laundry and house cleaning (though I’m rarely on top of this), run most errands (major grocery trips, bank, post office, doctor’s appointments, etc.), trips to the library, storytimes, pool, park, etc., learning or art activities, make dinner, bath kiddo and Mass when applicable, most of my blogging.
Things I Might Do
Quick run into a grocery store or Target for an absolute necessity, a load or two of laundry, dishes, put away laundry, a trip to the park (usually as a family activity), Mass on the big days, time with extended family, occasional blog work.
Deep cleaning (usually tackled with husband on rare days home together), date nights, extended family time, socialize with friends.

Things I Don’t Do
Most housecleaning, run most errands, socialize with friends, educational/art activities with the kiddo, date nights.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Think about my outside job - I just switch it off.  


The Master Plan -


Looking at this all laid out I feel exhausted and I know, truly, that I keep all this up because we don’t have any outside time commitments like sports, clubs or lessons for H.  I know how hard it was for my working parents to get all that done and work a full day, it was rough and they had to say “no” to a lot of my requests because of this.   And while I don’t believe in packing our schedules like a sardine can I want us to be to able to do these things with a little more ease.  


So right now my main goal is to be part time by the time Henry enters the 1st grade in 4 years (yay for late birthdays).  This is the age when he can really start to be a part of most sports and clubs in our area and about the time my skills a music instructor might be surpassed.  We’re working hard to finish paying the remainder of our student loans in that time, which is achievable, so we can add this flexibility to our lives.  


Will I ever be a full-time SAHM?  After a long reflection, no I probably won’t.  Currently my jobs benefits are worth part time work (I still receive my benefits if party time) and there is work outside of the home I still feel called to do - perhaps getting back to my theatre degree or completing my MLS, and I’m okay with that.


The Final Word -

Whatever you’re thinking as you read this, stop.  I don’t do it all and what I do accomplish is aided greatly by having only one young child, an awesome husband and family near by.  I do not keep a spotless house nor do I put elaborate meals on the table every night.  I really don’t do craft projects with my kid all that often, maybe one or two a month at most, and it takes me a long, long time to complete a fun project of my own.  The main reason I finish books is thanks to the 20 minutes I spend on a bus each work day and my lunch break I take by myself.  I am not superwoman, nor am I trying to be.  I don’t think it’s possible to “have it all” and I’m not remotely trying to.  As my tag line says I’m “Making the life I want.  Loving the Life I Have.”;  I make do with what I have to make a life I’m proud of.

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about this part of our lives, so please do ask.  I think this is a great moment for us all to understand each other a little better and I'll see you soon over at Haley's to share my thoughts on keeping "family first" as employed mother.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Answer Me This #1

1. What time to you prefer to go to Mass?
  • I actually like late afternoon/evening Mass, but that might be out of necessity because my rarely allows for anything different.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

  • Cold!  Bring on the layers.  Once it gets above 75 degrees I'm uncomfortable and grouchy.

3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?


  • None, I'm a spoiled, selfish, self-centered only child.  I only had one first cousin too, who rarely lived near me.  I ruled my family with an iron fist!  Except for the fact that since there were few to no children to mind my family events were mainly "grown up stuff" i.e. lots of sitting around and talking while I found something to entertain myself with alone.  
  •  
  • Seriously folks, being an only is lonely.

4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?


  • Probably a snake attacking me while I fell off a really tall rollercoster into really deep water all the while telling me all the ways I'll never be as good or successful as my friends.
  •  


Sweet dreams. 

Thanks Kendra....

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?


  •  I had a few, I survived with a relatively secure sense of body image.  I wasn't really a doll kid, and mainly had them so I had something to take over to my friends house.  I like that there are more realistic dolls on the market now a days and would have killed for an American Girl doll when I was younger.
  • Sadly Barbie is now the better alternative to these
  • And we thought Barbies career choices were limited...

So thumbs, meh?

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?


  • "These are the answers to the next 10 questions you will ask yourself:"
  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Purple
  4. Sideways
  5. All the time
  6. Knock three times
  7. It's not your fault
  8. 37
  9.  A papaya
  10. Do the dishes
Linking up with Kendra @ Catholic All Year

  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Holy Week Plans

It's that time of year again.  You know the time, when I completely loose track of how quickly a holiday is approach and scramble last minute to get things done in a meaningful way.

This year I've been working cut back on my holiday obsession and focusing more on letting our holiday traditions evolve naturally.  I don't want to end up doing something "just because it was on Pinterest"; rather I want to focus on doing exactly what speaks to our hearts and a big part of this is not trying to do everything.

Luckily Holy Week falls on my "light week" rotation for work, so I have this weekend, Monday AND Wednesday off to fit things in and get things prepared.

Things I want to accomplish over the next week:
  • Get a few religious Easter books from the library to read through and cover the basics of the story.    I'm still not ready to divulge the full Stations of the Cross to my 3 year old and am content with him knowing the basics of the story right now.  It just doesn't feel right for us and I'm going with that. Our Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories seems just at our level this year and we have The Tale of Three Trees to read too.
  • Get a few fun and silly Easter books, too.
  • Challenge myself to "Holy Week Housecleaning"on Monday and Tuesday
  • Make Hot Cross Buns on Friday. 
  •  Keeping quiet on Friday afternoon - a challenge because I work that day so I'm thinking a little post work adoration might be in order.
  • Make Resurrection Rolls and dye Easter Eggs Saturday night.
  • Take down the Lenten Candles (we got through the book and he really liked doing it!) and hang up some type of craft in the big window on Saturday.
  • Confession.
  • Going to Mass on Palm Sunday (Saturday for us), Maudy Thursday and Easter Sunday.
Next year feels right to tackle the bigger parts of the story - I'm thinking resurrection eggs and maybe this or this will be a new part of our traditions next year.
Part of last years Easter Basket
How about you?  What are your plans next week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wedding Song Dance Along

Grace is doing a "wedding song dance along".  So here you go....  yep most of our dancing pictures include the unimpressed guy in the "snack shop" and the foozeball table.  But, hey ... we had a FOOZEBALL table at our wedding reception!  (Not really on purpose, but we had a small budget and the only room we could afford was definitely "low key".  We also only had sandwich fixings, pasta salads and fruit for our dinner.  Rocking the best wedding ever starving artist style.)**



And we danced to "Everything Else Disappears" by Sister Hazel




 ** We found out later that we had a few friends and family members who were gluten sensitive and this was the first wedding they'd ever been able to eat their fill at because we did a make your own sandwich line.  So go us and our "we can't afford a proper sit down dinner"-ness.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dear Kiddo, I Love You, But I'm Not Your Best Friend

Dear Kiddo,

I love you, but I'm not here to be your best friend. 

Don't get me wrong I want us to be friends, the best of friends.  I want you to confide in me when you get older.  I want you to play with me until my withered old imagination gives out.  I want us to do things together and make special memories.  I want us to laugh and have inside jokes.  I'm even down for a secret handshake or special code. 

But, I'm still not here to be your best friend.  At least not right now.

I see this attitude to expressed in so many ways.  Parents wanting to be the cool parent.  There's one who takes them to risque or violent movies.  There's the one who invites your underage friends over to drink or smoke.  There's the parent who encourages co-ed sleepovers, the one who hosts the parties, the one who lets your eat anything you want, the one who lets you swear up a storm or provides you with all the things that will declare them the "cool parents".

I'm not that parent.

I'm going to make you eat your vegetables, do your chores and have a bedtime.  I'm going to say, "no" to certain events and activities.  I'm probably even going to say, "no" to certain friends.  You're going to have expectations and responsibilities and there will be consequences to your actions.  You're probably going to get pretty mad at me and it will be hard to understand why you have a parent that is different from the rest.

However, right now I'm not here to be your best friend.  It's not my job to be cool or turn my back so you can be like the other kids because I don't want you to be like the other kids.  I think you're capable of so much more.  I am here to guide you and shape you; to give you the knowledge, the faith and the tools you need to navigate a world that much too hung up on "cool".

And one day, when you're a little older and wiser, you will realize that your best friends weren't the ones daring you to be reckless and careless.  Your best friends were the ones helping you become the best version of yourself and when you realize this, I hope you will know that I was actually your best friend all along.

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, April 6, 2014

When Kendra Tags You in a Chain Letter.... You Do the Chain Letter

Kendra over at Catholic All Year tagged me in one of the infamous "Leibster Awards" and well, when a set a time traveling magic quadruplets tells you to answer random questions about yourself, you do what they say.



1. Where do you live? And why do you live there?
  • I live in Coralville, Iowa about a dozen houses down from my parents house.  We moved back here from Ashland, Oregon when we found out we were expecting our first child because the majority of our family lives in Iowa and try as I might I couldn't find a super villain willing to relocate the entire state of Iowa to the wasteland that is Northern Nevada.
Seriously, what is the point?

2. What are you currently watching and/or reading?
  • I've been trying to catch up on my superhero movies recently in preparation for all the Avengers goodness coming to the screen this year.
  • Reading "Mother of the Little Flower".  I have so much to say about finding a kindred spirit in Zelie Martin, but more on that later.
3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?)
  •  I'm a convert. I entered into the Church last Easter after being married to a cradle Catholic for almost 5 years.

 4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)
  • I slowly discovered that my line of thinking was more Catholic than Protestant.  A red flag really should have been when I was 14 and the only one in my confirmation class that sided with "Faith AND Works" because it was OBVIOUSLY the right answer.

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
  • Approximately this many... most of them dusty.

3 of these pairs of shoes are almost five years ago, 2 other pairs are over 6 year old.  And those fuzzy boots in the bottom left back?  Those are the boots my mother picked up on a research trip for her Masters Degree..... I followed these shoes nine months later.
6. Are you a good dancer?
  • I excel at the lawnmower, the shopping cart and the "what's that over there".  I also believe I helped invent the "riding lawnmower" in high school.
7. Who usually drives, you or your husband?
  • Me, for the sake of our marriage.
8. What's your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?
  • I do love the Christmas season, but have come to love celebrating Michaelmas over the last couple of years.  I'm still trying to figure out celebrating Easter in an authentic and meaningful way.
9. Which is correct? Left or right?




What no passive aggressive "roll left on the sink counter" option?

10. Do you have any scars?
  • My biggest is my c-section scar, which actually healed quiet nicely.  I have a few from having the chicken pox and a fire ant attack one of my years in Texas (note to everyone:  Water balloon fights in the dark in Texas piss off fire ants).
11. What's the most famous thing you've ever done? 
  • Probably my years working for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  If I had been successful in my bid to transfer the state of Iowa to Northern Nevada (see above) I would still love to be working for them.    
Next I'm supposed to tag people so how about Elizabeth, Cristina, Francine, and Christie.
And anyone else who wants to join in! 
There's a link up back at Kendra's for this important award!
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