Puppy Doggie

So remember about eight months ago, I shared our Healing Goodbye to our Dog?

Well, we missed her so much more than we thought we would – especially me. I had no idea just how much I had grown used to having Bella around and though I thought I’d be ok without a dog for a while, it didn’t take long before I caught “puppy fever”.

It started with “just looking” at puppy pictures…then my husband started sending me random cute puppy pictures.  And then, we found ourselves talking about it together.

One day, I came into our room and caught my husband looking at something on his phone –

Cute puppy pictures.

I laughed because I’d been doing the same thing downstairs.

Long story short, soon we were stalking our local animal shelter’s adoptable animals page on their website. One day, my scrolling eye stopped on a new photo of a sweet lab puppy with fur so light it looked white.  And then, somehow, I ended up at the animal shelter and decided to see what she was like – just out of curiosity, of course.


Well, that did it. Next thing I knew, there was a puppy in our backyard.



She was so pretty and soft – we called her Daisy.

We soon found out, however, that though she was pretty and soft and cute as can be – puppies are no easy task!

Thankfully it didn’t take too long to crate-train her so she only used the backyard as her “toilet”. But we weren’t quite prepared for the nibbling…


And the chewing…


Oh, my the chewing!!!





Everywhere!! The kids soon learned to put their outside toys away unless they wanted them to become new chew toys for Daisy.

Apparently, all that chewing is exhausting…


Cute pictures aside, it hasn’t been a walk in the park owning and caring for a puppy. One reason I didn’t share about her until now is because there were many times within the last eight months when I wasn’t sure if we would keep her.  Ask my poor patient friends who had to hear me ask for their prayers several times, always ending with, “I think this is really the end this time,” to then end up deciding to give her “one more chance”.

Luckily for Daisy, the kids loved her. One reason I decided to get another dog was for all of us to have a special companion but especially for our oldest son who struggles with anxiety/anger management – I hoped she could become a “therapy dog” of sorts for him.

At first, he wasn’t so sure about her – she was so hyper and he just didn’t know how to handle that.  Then, over the summer, something magical happened and he “discovered” her and realized – “Hey, I like this dog!”

I started sending him outside to be with Daisy when he needed a break or was on the verge of a meltdown. He’d go out there and stroke her ears, the anxiety or anger melting out of him with each stroke.  Now, the first thing he wants to do after we’re finished at school is “go see Daisy!”  so he can stroke her ears and play with her.

She still likes to nibble on me, still chews everything! (Though not quite as much), still jumps up on us when she’s excited (which is all.the.time), still ignores me as much as my kids, still drives me and my husband a little stir-crazy.  Ok, maybe a lot stir-crazy.

But, she’s also still cute, still soft, still loveable, still loves the kids (she never nibbles on them!), still wants to be with us wherever we are (she thinks she’s still a small puppy and tries sitting in my lap), and she still has a lot of growing and learning to do.

We “celebrated” her first birthday this week – I even went to the petstore and bought her some special treats. Yup, she has me. Hook, line and sinker.

And I guess we’ll keep her…for today at least. 😉




7 Quick Favorite-Takes Summer Kid & Family Activities 2

I’m going rogue and combining a “Favorites” post with a “7QT” post. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that’s probably a good thing. Ignore my blogging nerdiness and read on. And now it’s Saturday night so I’ve missed out on that link-up too. I just can’t get my blogging together these days!

Here are a few favorite simple and easy summer fun activities we’ve all enjoyed recently.

1. Gigantic Bubbles

Our friend and neighbor is doing “Summer School” activities with her kids and  I asked if maybe we could join their summer school fun. We got together last week for “Science Week”. The kids learned how to make bouncy balls and huge gigantic bubbles!

I had the kids measure the length of the bubbles and the longest measured one stretched just past 15 ft!

My friend saved a bunch of great ideas to her Pinterest “Summer School board” if you’re looking for inspiration.

2. Bubble Art

This is a fun and simple art project that combines kids’ favorites: bubbles, straws, and food coloring and/or paint. I had the kids do this in the garage while I worked on painting the door and bench for my Entry Way Bench project.

Before you think I made this up, I got this idea from a great book my genius mother-in-law gave me. 101 Kids Activities That are the Bestest Funnest Ever! by Holly Homer & Rachel Miller

It’s very easy, get some straws, a shallow dish, bubble juice and food coloring, and paper. The food coloring is the only part I might try to change to just regular washable paints next time since food coloring stains badly!

Pour the bubble juice into the dish and add the colors your kids want. Gather up a few straws together and keep them together with rubber bands. Dip the straws into the colored bubble juice and then blow through the straws over the paper.

Voila – Bubbles and Art!

Warning: Make sure your kids only blow OUT of the straws and not IN! 😉 You might just want to let your younger kids play with finger paint and blow the bubbles. I’m not an expert but I’m guessing colored bubble juice isn’t all that safe for mass consumption.

3. Exploding Pop

This was my husband’s idea that he knew about because, well he’s a boy.

All you need is Mentos and Diet Coke.

Get a cup of water and ask the kids what they think will happen when you put the mentos into the water.  (This is the “control” of the experiment in case you want to get all sciency about it.)

3 of our 4 said it would explode, 1 said it would dissolve.

Drop the mentos in the water and see who is right.

Then, ask what they think will happen when you drop the mentos in the Diet Coke.

4 of our 4 said it would explode.

Open up the unshaken bottle, drop the mentos in (or more than one) and see what happens!

We were all a little disappointed when it didn’t shoot up as high as we thought it would but it was still a neat experiment. I bought a small bottle of the Diet Coke because I’m cheap and didn’t want to waste a whole 2 L of pop just to see it explode. Though we don’t ever drink soda so I don’t know why I cared so much.

Next time, I’ll get the larger bottle and see if it makes the explosion more intense.

It could be fun to try this experiment and see which type of soda causes the greatest reaction with the mentos. That video also has a good explanation of how/why this physical reaction works.

4. Volcanoes

I also took my cue for this one from the same book as the Bubble Art.

This is very simple and the kids had a “blast” with it.

All you need is:

  • An empty plastic water bottle.
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Red Food Coloring (again, you might be able to use washable red paint to avoid the staining of food coloring. I’ll try this next time.)

Ask the younger kids to prepare a place in the dirt or a sandbox for the volcano.

Older kids stay in and help pour the baking soda into the bottle. We didn’t have too much this day so we only filled the bottle up about 1/4 full. I’d like to try it with more next time.

Add the red dye in, put the cap back on, and shake it all around….and do the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about, hey!

Sorry, I digress. Once the volcano is ready outside, have the kids put the prepared volcanic bottle in the volcano hole and cover it up so only the top is barely visible. Take the cap off, pour in the vinegar, and –


Ok, it wasn’t that big of an explosion but it was still pretty cool. The nice thing is we could do this activity again using either the same bottle or a different one. I might just have them make a few “volcanic bottles” to have ready so when my kids are “bored” and “have nothing to do”, they can go out and play explode some volcanoes in the back yard.

5.  Tape Measures

Here’s what you need: A tape measure for each child. These can be easily found at the Dollar Tree or any home improvement store.

What you do: Give them to your kids and tell them to go measure things around the house.

They’ll take it from there.

My boys have been going around the house measuring tables, couches, hallways, and of course comparing their heights to each other. I also had my boys and some of their friends lay down on the floor and make a human “totem” on the floor and then we measured how long they all were together.

Warning: I did have to remind the kids a few times that measure tape is a tool not a sword, a gun, or any other kind of weapon.

6. Cheetah and Antelopes

We discovered this gem of an outdoor “tag” game while reading about Cheetahs and Antelopes. My six-year-old son was so intrigued that he begged us to play every day for the past week until we finally played and it was a lot of fun. It’s a great way to get in a good workout too!

Here’s how you play:

It’s even more fun if, when you’re the antelopes, you pretend like you’re grazing in the grass when you suddenly look up and see a cheetah coming for you!

7. Late-Night Star and Planet Gazing and Fire-fly Catching

As many of you may know, my awesome husband has become quite the astro man and we love sharing interest and hobby with him when we can.

Since it’s summer and we don’t have to worry as much about the kids getting up early for a full day of school, it’s a little easier to let them stay up late every now and then so we can all enjoy some stargazing together.

This past Monday marked the Summer Soltice (First day of Summer) and June’s Full Moon, which unbeknownst to me at the time, is known as a Strawberrry Moon. This made June 20th, 2016 both the longest day of the year and the brightest on account of the bright full moon. This only happens once in a generation so I’m glad we got to see it! If I’d known, I would have bought strawberries for us to eat under the full moon. But then our neighbors might have thought we were wickens masquerading as Catholics by day. 😉

So we had the kids go to bed early before 8 (and I did too actually!) and then we all woke up around 10:30/11 again and laid a blanket out in our back yard. My husband brought out his telescope and we all took turns looking at the planets – which are visible during a full moon unlike most of the stars.

We spotted Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn in the night sky and then we each got a closer look at them through the scope.


The most impressive one to see in the scope is always Saturn. It’s so amazing to think that those bright dots in the sky we see are actually gigantic planets out there thousands and thousands of miles away from our world.

I thought the kids might be too tired to enjoy this, the 3 year-old basically slept on the blanket the whole time and my daughter curled up next to him but the other two boys, who always have high energy, were super charged and ran around chasing fireflies while not looking through the scope. Our poor neighbors.

Whew, well that’s all for now. What fun have your families been having this summer?

Grateful for the Fathers in our Lives

As much as I miss my own dad today, I’m filled with joyful gratitude for the fathers I do have with me [physically] in my life today. My husband, my father-in-law, brothers, uncles, cousins, all the Fr. priests in my life and all the great men and fathers we are blessed to raise our families along with.

For my husband, the best father my kids could ever have.

I love how much he loves them. I remember when our first child, our daughter, was born. We were both so overwhelmed by joy and amazement that this person could be our own child! It was terrifying and humbling. At first, parenting for both of us was like trying to learn how to drive a manual car. You know, the ones were you have a clutch you have to physically push down with your left foot while you simultaneously move your right foot off the brake and ease the gas pedal down while also using your right hand to move the gear shift and, oh remember to keep your left hand on the steering wheel so you don’t swerve into any other cars of off the road!

Yeah, that’s what first-time parenting is like. And boy did we struggle and at first our movements were rough and jerky and there was often the harsh sound of grinding gears as we figured out how to smoothly transition from one gear to another without breaking the baby.

But as our daughter grew and as we added our three sons into our lives, I saw my husband grow too – as a man and as a father. We slowly learned how to let go of ourselves so that we can fully enter into the love of our family and give of ourselves fully to our children together.

We’re still learning for sure and we have many more challenges ahead but I’m thankful today for the amazing and wonderful father my husband is.

When I’m going crazy and can’t handle all the pressure, he comes in and with one look everyone settles down and remembers they are human beings and not wild animals. When I’m all out of energy after a long day and everyone is about ready to explode, my husband diffuses the ticking time bombs with laughter while he chases, wrestles or tickles all the stress out of everyone.

There are many things a mom can do, it’s true, but there’s so much that only a father can do. Trust me, I’ve tried to sound like him and make the kids listen to me like they do to him – I may have even recorded his voice so I would sound like him when lip-sync yelling at the kids. It didn’t work. It’s gotta be him. He has this certain power…or influence over them by his mere presence that I just can’t mimic.

I see how the kids are with him, how they love to spend time with him, how they love doing the silliest and seemingly meaningless stupid stuff with him and it brings them all so much joy. I love that he teaches them all about the random trivia of life, the science of the weather and all about the mysteries of the vast space that spreads beyond our imaginations. When our kids grow up and become meteorologists, astronauts, or astrophysicists it’ll be because of all the time their daddy spent sharing the scope of his knowledge and introducing them to all the wonders of the world.

You can tell what love language our first-born son speaks. (Ahem, quality time together)

We both bring our strengths and our gifts together and I’m so thankful I have him as a partner in this whole parenting gig.

For my father-in-law, a man I respect and admire greatly.

I know some people don’t get along with their in-laws but I gotta say that my father-in-law is pretty dang awesome. I’ve always loved that we can converse together and talk about the things of the world and also about our shared Catholic faith. Over the years we’ve mulled over hard mysteries and questions about God and our unique Catholic and faith experiences.

I’m immensely grateful especially for the gift of his craftsmanship and handy man talents. He’s graciously helped me turn many ideas into physical realities and rescued and fixed many of my attempts at trying to put things together on my own. Mostly I’m humbled by how my father in law has always welcomed me into his family and treated me as his own daughter.

Lastly, but definitely not least, I’m thankful for the spiritual fathers I’ve always had with the many Catholic priests I’ve known growing up.

For all the time they give to bring Christ’s love and healing grace to me through the Sacraments or by offering patient guidance in my times of discernment.

By their physical presence they are here for me as a father In Persona Christi always reminding me and pointing me to the One Father who has, IS, and always will be my Father who loves me and is with me. He knows me and will never forget or leave me.

Though I’m missing the physical presence of my natural father today, I’m thankful for all the great men in my life who I can also look to as fathers to guide me, protect me, and love me.


My awesome husband captured this magnificent photo of an amazing lightning storm the other night. It reminds me of how we all connected by the same source of LOVE that spreads through all the veins of our human ancestry. 

7 Random Sunday Takes 8


Yes, I’m still here. Are you?

Forgive me, I got a little distracted after my Anxiety in Motherhood series with a few things going on around here.  Now is a good time for a random blog update. This was supposed to be a Seven Quick Takes Friday but since it’s now Sunday we’ll just go with 7 Random Sunday Takes.

~ My little sister graduated high school last weekend! To celebrate, all our brothers, a sweet four-year-old nephew, and our aunt and uncle (my dad‘s brother) flew in to watch the spectacular event. It was so wonderful to spend time with all of them – this time for a joyous occasion. My heart is filled with love and gratitude for my family.

~ Right before that, I decided it was time to finally renovate our Office/Homework Room/Entry Way room. Yes, that’s a lot of multi-tasking for one little room.  I’ve been sharing some of the updates on my Simplemama Instagram account. I’ll do a whole post dedicated to the room soon. It’s been a very fun project and I’m incredibly happy with how it’s looking! Of course, my favorite part was ripping out the old yucky carpet!

Being the main entry room after we come in from the garage, you can imagine how much dirt this thing collected. Yuck, yuck and yuck. So glad it’s gone!!!!

~ With that, I spent most of early May consumed by looking at obsessing over ideas for what colors to paint the walls and how to rearrange the room to make it functional as my office, a homework station, and an entry way. It’s been fun and I’ll share what I’ve done so far soon.

~ The kids’ school finished last Thursday – woo hoo! To be honest, I was feeling very anxious as the end came sooner – it can be slightly exhausting having all four kids together in one place for so long without the built-in structure of the school days. But with a little planning and prep, I’m feeling more optimistic about – maybe cautiously optimistic is a better description but at least there is more optimism than anxiety at this point.

~ Personal Fitness. A friend of mine said a few weeks ago that she thinks I’ve become addicted to going to the Y now – jokingly…I think? Well, in a way she’s kind of right. I do go a lot – 3 – 5 days/week and I am feeling really good about keeping a consistent weekly exercise routine. In April, when I returned to the Y I felt like this remember

How I felt about 5 minutes into TurboKick

Now, almost two months later, I probably still look like that but I’ve really hit a good stride. I feel stronger and I’m able to stick with the whole routine all the way through without stopping to gasp for air every 5 minutes. I even added in my own challenging work-outs. I feel excited about working out now and am pushing myself beyond what I think I can do and it’s so exhilarating!

~ On that same note, did you know there is such a thing as prescription swim goggles? Well, there are! My friend, Michelle, shared on Facebook that she had just gotten a pair so I looked it up and a whole new world opened up to me! I called up my eye doc to see if they would even be strong enough for my blindness and yes – he said said the -8.0 would be good for me…which is the very last option. I bought them and wore them to swim yesterday and it was amazing! It’s the first time in many, many years I’ve been able to see while I swim. It’s like a miracle. Thank you, Michelle for sharing about these!

~ Speaking of being able to see while wearing prescription goggles, my other friend, Mary – who you might recognize as the hilarious blogger over at (Get over there and prepare to laugh!) – jokingly suggested that I should just wear the goggles around everywhere like if they were my regular frames. I thought about it, and after serious consideration and weighing all the pro’s and con’s, she’s right! Since we’ll be swimming a lot this summer and out in the sun, I’d never have to take them off! So if you see a woman walking around in swim goggles, you’ll know it’s me.

Since Mary takes and shares pictures of herself and posts them on her public blog, I feel fairly comfortable sharing this one here –

I came up to Mary after Mass wearing my goggles just as she suggested. She was tickled pink!

Seven Simple Ways to Deal with Anxiety in Motherhood {Day Four: Time In Together}

Prayer Breathing, a Gratitude Journal, and Time Outs Aloneare all great ways to take control of Anxiety in Motherhood. Today’s Way to Deal with Anxiety in Motherhood is:

Time in Together

As great as it is to get out on your own every now and then, sometimes what we really need is to stay home for a day. Not to say that getting involved in activities is always a bad thing. In fact, it can help to get everyone out of the house at least once each day for a change of scenery and to establish reliable routines. Yet, getting over involved leads to overwhelm, more anxiety, and ends in an ugly and terrible burnout that hurts you and your family.

In fact, for me, getting too busy is one of my biggest anxiety triggers. There’s so much pressure on mothers to do everything and be everything to everyone (except ourselves) all the time and I fall into that trap time after time. I often run full speed into a brick wall before I realize that I’m trying to do too much all at the same time.

There are many good ideas for how to “be a good mother” but that doesn’t mean we have to try and live out all of those ideas all at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with just doing one thing at a time. In fact, studies and experience has shown that even while moms can multitask, it doesn’t mean we can always do it all well. Something ends up suffering – and it’s usually us which, in turn, means our family suffers right along with us.

If and when you find yourself running on fumes and feel like all you want to do is stay home under your covers all day – maybe you should. Or, at least maybe you should stay home for the day and just be a family together.

  • Make breakfast or a fun snack together – this could be as simple as spreading butter on bread so don’t over think or fantasize this!
  • Curl up on the couch, or on a blanket outside if it’s nice, and read books together, or watch a fun family movie together. (Psst, it’s ok if you fall asleep, you’re still with them.)
  • Or, give the kids a project to work on or set them loose outside while you work on catching up in the house. You’ll feel so accomplished when you finally file those papers, find your kitchen counters again, and get all the piles of laundry off the floor and in their respective closets and drawers.
  • Take time to write out all yours and your family’s commitments and activities. Pray about it and honestly decide  if you really have to do all of them right now. If not, prayerfully and honestly decide what can be paused, postponed, or cut out all together.
  • Remember, your primary responsibility is simple: Love your family. All your kids really want from you – is you. Instead of trying to do all sorts of things for them – simply be with your family more. 

What do you like to do together with your family?

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