But within the chaos, there’s such beauty. We held a private baptism for our little Joan this past Sunday the thirteenth of August surrounded by many of our nearest and dearest. It was such a beautiful, real moment in the messiness of life. It was small. The toddler had one little meltdown. We didn’t really know the logistics until last minute. But the grace of the sacrament was present, the toddler stopped freaking out the moment that the deacon began praying a blessing and the baby was brought into the church. It was such a special moment.
As I grew up, I watched my mother expertly find wonderful bargains on second hand clothing for five children. We never lacked the clothing needed to get us through the hundreds of growth spurts, ripped knee holes, fancy events, and hot summers. It was through watching my mother that I learned to look for a bargain. We continued to thrift throughout my teen years. Some of us children became thrifters and some refused as we came into adulthood. I was a child who loved the thrill of the hunt and as an adult, I grew to love thrifting for other purposes besides clothing.
Since I got married when I was only nineteen and went straight from my father’s house to the home I made with my husband, I learned a lot of thrifty tricks, and they do come in handy with my own children too! It’s how I managed to furnish our home and clothe all of my little family! I’ve always loved seeing the things that other people score at the thrift store, so I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite non-clothing items that I’ve thrifted over the years.
First, I know I blogged about it at the time, but I bought this fabulous little rocking horse for Eliot when he was only a year old. It moves its head and neighs and Eliot dubbed him “Rocky.” He’s been a friendly and fun addition to our days.
Just recently, I discovered a thrift store that had a lot of handmade blankets! We bought 3 for around five dollars each! Life has never been so cozy or cute! Once we get to wintertime, I know we will be so glad of these when the three of us that use big blankets start fighting over them.
Glider and ottoman? I’ve got two! I bought one and my mom bought the other. We use and love both of them. This nice cushy one was only thirty-five!
Today’s find includes some extra train tracks for Eliot’s trains for only a few dollars. He’s already in love because I found a train tunnel!
What kinds of things do you look for if you thrift?
I only have sixteen summers left with my firstborn.
Sure that’s a stereotype and overgeneralization of the time it takes to parent. It could be less. It could be more. We don’t know anything about the time each of us has for anything, much less life in general. It’s a speculation.
I guess I’m realizing how “up close” the perspective and lens to view the world seems to be in parenting. We don’t linger long on the big picture. It’s too easy to get caught up in the part of the frame where the toddler whines a lot and has an excessive amount of needs. Or the part where there’s no time for adult conversation and connection with the spouse. Or maybe the part where the daily grind consists of coffee, diapers, nap, peanut butter scraping, bedtime, repeat. All of that sounds so bleak. There are so many bright moments too! But it’s hard to see those moments unless you widen your perspective and try to see more of the picture.
For instance, the toddler whining has a much less powerful influence on my mood when I take into account that it comes with complex concepts that he is learning and a huge amount of information he is taking into his overtired brain and emotional being. He can count to ten, knows our Christian names, understands the days of the week, prays his own prayers, and recognizes the subtle difference of emotion in someone else. The whining seems small in comparison to the amazing stuff I get to witness in addition. The witnessing of formation of a little soul and citizen brings a lot of joy to balance out the frustration of our close lens.
And as things form and fuse together, a sense of permanency arises with it. My firstborn has a wonderful sense of empathy. It is one of the factors that contributes to how sensitive he is and why he feels such strong emotions. That is probably not going to change, so rather than wishing away the moments and hours of frustration, I need to help him cultivate this gift and navigate the negative emotion that comes with it. After all, sixteen years is not a long time in that big picture. I don’t want to miss out on the wonder of this boy before he becomes a man.
He needs me now. He won’t always need me. He needs an extra sippy of milk, an extra story at bedtime, and an extra set of minutes to snuggle alone. He needs patience when he can’t understand and guidance when he faces a problem for the hundredth time that day. If he does not get these things, he will find a cruel world awaiting him that he will form and fuse himself to and that little flame of empathy will be put out. It will be replaced by cold, unfeeling, cynicism and desensitization. He will have much work to undo in his behavior if he even makes the realization that there is work to undo as he becomes a man and a citizen.
He will struggle to find joy unless I can find it first. This up close view is so important and I can only react properly if I take a step back and fit it all into the frame.
That is how we laugh at the ridiculous, cry at the sorrowful, and love when it’s hard. That is how we see the joy when it’s difficult to find.
Give a little more, fight less battles, spend more time taking a step back to look and listen, and ultimately, be a joyful mom. Life is too precious to waste it without true joy in each day with whatever we have been given.
Now that it’s practically mid July, I suppose I should toss a very unorganized, newborn-in-the-house-brained post on up in here and leave my worries of tidy-wrapped-in-a-bow blogging behind! See, look how awful that was… but hey, somebody else is wearing all the bows in the house right now so let me just stop caring completely!
First weeks are hard, but we made it through and are well on our way to two weeks! Time is flying and dragging and our days are filled to capacity with diapers, hotdogs, and laundry. It’s so good though. Today, I think I changed about ten dirty diapers and I’m STILL smiling. It’s hard to be upset about the amount of (I’m going to go ahead and be honest here) poop in the house when there is also an over abundance of cuddles, snuggles, “I love yous,” handshakes accompanied by “pleased to meet yous,” smiles, and giggles. But objectively, there are a LOT of diapers going on in this house–look out!
Eliot is in a terrible, horrible, most awful sleep regression of them all. We make a step forward and then seem to take two steps back. I’ll never forget what my priest (a convert with his own kids in diapers now too) said; either your kid is a good sleeper or he’s not. Optimistic, new mother Hannah felt sad at the slight tone of bitterness and exhaustion heard in his tone, because surely if you worked hard enough, you could make that kid sleep well!! Many sleep methods later, older, wiser Hannah now features that same exhausted and honest tone and tries to keep a good nature about it. Daniel has the worst of it–he takes care of the toddler at night and I take care of the infant. One day, maybe when he’s eighteen, Eliot will sleep like a baby and we won’t be traipsing about all night to and from his room. The good news is, Joan is a wonder at the nursing and the sleeping (further proving father’s statement). I’m enjoying this newborn time way more with such an easy baby.
In addition to the regression, Eliot talks up a storm now. He’s currently yelling, “oh no, it crashed!” while holding tightly onto his favorite hotwheel car. He says, “I’m sorry Ma!” And “I wanna pull!” when he wants us to get up and follow him somewhere (this is accompanied by grabbing our hands). He also says, “it’s okay baby jo” when she fusses for diaper changes. He doesn’t sing often but when he does, it’s the cleanup song from Daniel Tiger. Cutest thing ever. “Clean-up E-ver-y-DAY!”
I’ve managed to crochet a baptismal gown for Joan but I need to add notions to it. A few buttons and some pretty ribbon will finish it off! I attempted to buy one on Offer Up but the guy wouldn’t keep up communication and we were left hanging one too many times. The same thing is happening with some woman and a Mei Tai baby wrap this week which frustrates me to no end. Such is buying second hand. I guess you pay for the no-hassle when you buy retail.
Daniel and I started watching Downton Abbey this week after many failed attempts of mine to try to get into it. I’m enjoying it more now for some reason. Maybe it’s the newborn I get to cuddle and the few tiny adult moments I get to share with my spouse in this busy time more than the show… Daniel is desperately trying to get Eliot to call it “down town abbey” to annoy me…
I’m starting to realize why schedules are so important now that we are a family of four! There’s so much to do with one extra person in our home and less brain power to remember things. I really do feel like I run on coffee. It’s not just a cute, trendy thing to say.
It’s a good life. Stress or chaos will always be around. But I don’t let it bother me nearly as much anymore, and I’m finding myself contented to watch babies all day and greet my hubby in the evening. This staying at home mom business definitely suits me, and I really feel like it’s the environment that allows me to thrive. I’m so thankful to get to stay at home with my babes.
Joan Cecilia Anno.
Born on June 28th – 7 lbs 4 oz -19 1/2 inches
She is named after one of my favorite saints who exhibited such courage and piety. A woman who feared the Lord and looked pretty ridiculous while doing it. She was made fun of, told she was crazy and was hearing voices (when she was being ministered to by other Saints), and was martyred. Joan of Arc had such purity and light in a time of darkness, and she was a F I E R C E leader. That is definitely what I hope for with little Joan.
The third part of her name, Anno, was a woman clothed in so much grace and humility. As well as humor! My grandmother. After multiple health problems and strokes, she was left half paralyzed in a wheelchair, but she never let it get her down. She taught me so much about aging gracefully, compassion, and joy. I miss her dearly and I hope that Joan gets her gleeful spirit and gentle kindness.
June has been the month of birthdays! Between friends and family and extended family, there have been more birthdays than ever, so we have all eaten a LOT of cake and I’m pretty sure the last few pregnancy pounds of mine are solidly Birthday cake…
We hosted a sweet Daniel Tiger birthday party for our crazy, newly minted two year old and it was such a hit! I think think the parents had fun too although we all sweated like crazy and I wished I had not worn makeup by the end of the day. All in all, it’s one of my favorite memories so far, and I can’t wait for more birthdays for this little man. Each one will be so special!
And then, along came my birthday and it was the best birthday that I’ve had in YEARS. We celebrated small but joyfully. Daniel bought me a cake from a bakery, dropped me off and picked me up from mass, and when I got into the car, Eliot was holding a big bouquet of flowers for me. They wrote cards that house the cutest signatures from them and then we hung out for the rest of the day with some of our closest friends who drove 4 hours to see us on my birthday!!
And finally, we had Eliot’s official birthdate in which we woke him up, told him it was his birthday (he was getting quite familiar with the word birthday by this point) and laughed when his first response was “we eat cake?” We then took him for a drive an hour outside of the city to a free petting zoo where he enjoyed many goats and laughed really hard at “birdzilla” and her gobbles (a turkey). Daniel took him for ice cream that night while I got to enjoy a bit of alone time after the month’s craziness. Now I’m ready to have another birthday in June if this baby ever wants to come out…
You know that moment when you’re so pregnant that your belly sticks out below your maternity shirts and the only thing that feels remotely comfortable is your husband’s old t-shirt? And then do you know the moment that follows your putting on the shirt to discover this CLEAN garment smells like wet dog? That’s this moment. Seriously… I thought it was a fluke the first time I wore it and daniel agreed that it had a weird smell, but this is the second time, a different wash, and it smells like wet dog! I use dryer sheets with a pleasant smell that usually makes our clothes smell heavenly… tell me your laundry secrets! What detergent do you use? Are you a dryer sheet or fabric softener person? In the mean time, I’ll be over here smelling like wet dog because I’m so pregnant I’d rather smell terrible than give up the freedom of breathing, and not itching. I’m sure I’ll be panting soon anyway…
Eliot got to have a visit from grandparents and has been doing puzzles non stop since they left (this is a photo of grandma and her bday gift to him). He also has been begging for horsey rides on my knee and some old nursery rhyme that my mom taught him, but I don’t know it so he always finishes the ride slightly disappointed…
In preparation for his “tiger-tastic” birthday party, we have been baking up a storm! This was his first experience baking cake. He’s almost not scared of the mixer now, but still requests to be held while it runs.
He got his first taste of buttercream icing on his first beater to lick sweet stuff off of, and I think it was a huge success! It was 15 minutes of peace and quiet while he carefully cleaned the beater of all its icing!
We are hosting a small daniel tiger themed party with a piñata, pool time, and his best little buddies, so I drew a big mural on the wall of our courtyard which he adores already. “TROLLEY! DAN TIGAAA!” The party is tomorrow and I’m pretty excited for him.
We finally got our fence fixed so the neighbors dog cannot climb the tree and present herself in our yard! And she can’t gnaw the boards down anymore either. It’s been so nice to have an accessible backyard again! Don’t mind the dirty windows. I always wash windows when hardcore nesting before giving birth. The living room ones are done now and I’m sure these will get washed in a day or two. Daniel and I joke that this is catholic housecleaning. Two years ago, I washed windows, nesting. Here I am two years later doing it again. 😉