Friday, December 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Leaving Home

On a practical level, moving vast distances with children in tow has never in the history of humanity been easier. I am well aware of the fact that as I pack up my first-world toddlers to cross the pond to greener pastures vineyards, more than 2,000 years ago the Holy Family was preparing a road trip to Egypt. And I'm pretty sure that donkey was not the first-century version of business select.

But, but ... holy crap there's a lot to do. We sent Dave's parents and siblings out the door at 3:30 this a.m. and fell to the task of caring for two ear infected small ones. Naturally, daddy woke up with a stomach bug, so we're operating at approximately 25% capacity. Here is what remains, not that you are in any way interested:

1. Visas. Dave's is allegedly en route from the Italian consulate in Chicago. It better be, because they took his passport a month ago to begin the process, and we kinda can't fly without it. The boys and I are banking on God's good graces and a connection at the Vatican which will, in theory, allow us to pursue our family visa from Italian soil, rather than trying to finish the process from the U.S. (which we've been told is impossible in our time frame.)

2. More documents than you have ever seen in your life, copied in triplicate and 'apostilled,' a weird legal notorization which grants validity to U.S. legal documents outside the States. Oh, and translations of each in Italian. Think birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, etc. Fun and expensive, the perfect late December combo.

3. Purge and pack the remainder of our belongings. I've laid out 8 suitcases in the basement and while it looks like a hell of a lot to carry through the airport, it doesn't look nearly spacious enough to encapsulate the 'downsized' wardrobes, books, toys, toiletries and home goods I've been culling for the past 6 weeks. Goodwill, it's time for me to return the favor: 2 metric tons of crap coming your way.

4. Learn Italian. So probably stop using the Rosetta Stone box as a place to rest open beer bottles on. Or at least pop the CD in while drinking the next beer. Plus, that air-traffic controller headset it came with is stone cold awesome.

5. Probably stop drinking 800 of my 2,400 daily calories. (Or at least cut back on the solid ones. Cutting out smoking has already jeopardized my legitimacy in Italian mommy circles. I'd better not risk things by lowering my tolerance, too.)

6. Set up my awesome!brand new!amazing! stroller that came today. Convince children it is a worthy trade off for having sold all their books, toys, car seats, and grandparents.

7. Say goodby to all the beautiful friends we've made here. I'm not going to lie, I got a leetle bit choked up after reading this piece written by a dear friend of ours. It's hard to believe that in less than two weeks, we're leaving for who knows how long, and we won't be seeing our children grow up together. This crazy journey we're embarking on is beautiful and exciting, but it isn't easy.

For more or less random, go get your takes on with Jen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I Wore Sunday: Christmas Adam

Afternoon readers,

Tis the night before the night before Christmas, and we are gearing up to get down at Casa Uebbing.

In preparation for the holy feast to come, we have been scrubbing, cleaning, and fluffing all throughout the house, all while wrangling two sick sickies with an ear infection and a cold from hades, respectively. I would take the time to mention who has what, except that at Dave's insistence, we buzzed both boy's heads last night and now my (sob) baby looks identical to my (gulp) toddler. Soooooo, basically can't tell them apart from a distance. 7 lbs separates JP from world domination, and by that I mean being able to defend his floppy self when Joey drops an elbow on him and starts pummeling.

All in good fun.

Without further ado, I bring to you what you've all come here to see: mah church threads.

Today's post is sponsored by holyfreakingamazingbesthusbandever. And you'll soon see why...

Gaze into Christmas future

Now contemplate how many calories are in that little red cup, and my ever-widening mommy flanks

But from this angle? Nailed it!

'Take your shades off, darling. Let them see how well we slept last night...

'Did you think I would still be making us take selfies once we were married?'

The good stuff:

Dress: Banana Republic outlet
Necklace: Lia Sophia, gifted
Earrings: Targay
Boots: Frye(!) 30th birthday present which will never, ever leave my feet.
Shades: Van Huesen outlet
Starbucks: making your holidays merry and gay

Happy FLAP-ing, ladies!

Rejoice, He's coming...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Adam

It's not too late, you know, to close Advent out right.

But it's a little too early to start decorating for Christmas, at least in my house. Which is a pity, because the tree is already dead. I blame the altitude.

The truth? Well, the tree is definitely dead. But we watered it semi faithfully, so I don't rather makes me feel like the 5 lb discrepancy between pregnancies did: #1 - ice cream binges and little to no exercise: 55 lbs; #2 - gym 6 days a week and a food journal: 50 lbs. Screw it.

Next year, that sucker can wither and die on its own accord. No coffee pots filled with tap water for you, Mr. $50 fir tree.

Anyway, back to the truth. The truth is, I've been so scattered and stressed and idiotically fixated on minute packing details like having!enough!3Mcommandstrips! (What? Seriously what the hell?) that I haven't gotten around to much hall-decking this Advent.

Which is Advent-ageous in keeping with the liturgical spirit of the season, wouldn't you agree?

So bad. So, so bad.

But it is kinda cool that Christmas is 5 days away and I haven't decorated my house yet. Meaning, this final Sunday of Advent when my in-laws arrive, they will see nary a sprig of mistletoe or a carefully hung stocking. But that's okay, we all know they're coming for the grandkids, anyway.

But here's anooooooother cool thing. Actually it's a really weird thing. In my family of origin, Clan Senour, we called the day before Christmas Eve 'Christmas Adam.' Get it?

You should see us at a wedding together. Or anywhere they serve alcohol, really.

Christmas Adam is the most wonderful day of the year. Why, you ask? Because it's entirely contrived! Free from commercialism, sentimentalism, or any outside pressure to deliver. It Plus, aaaaaaall your last minute shopping needs can be addressed on this most secular of days.

So I invite you, dear readers, to embrace Christmas Adam this year. Last minute suicide mission to the mall? Christmas Adam. Bare halls beckoning you to deck them? Christmas Adam. Need a half case of wine from your local Costco liquor store? Christmas Adam.

I'd like to consider this my act of charity for the day, but this is really a far more worthy cause.

All my love and procrastination,

Santa's medium sized helper.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Everything I Needed to Know About Motherhood

I was the most obnoxiously over-read and over-studied mother to be in the history of the world.

Shocking, I know.

I remember sitting at my desk in my office job (where nobody! ever! stopped me! from going to the bathroom!) and reading through birth and pregnancy sites online and making elaborate plans about labor and delivery and vaguely percolating on breastfeeding and vaccines and actually making judgements on other women's parenting styles - especially regarding sleep - while I was still pregnant.

Reach back in time and slap me.

I think I actually (vom) chimed in on somebody's facebook something or other about how we were planning on doing a brilliant hybrid of Babywise and the Baby Whisperer with our baby. Who was still in utero. Giving me exactly zero experience or credibility. But did that stop my from commenting? nooooooooo, of course not.

Slap me again.

Fast forward 2.5 years and behold one tired and mildly chagrined recovering baby expert.

I was such a good parent before I had these kids.

Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I've done something I swore I'd never do as a mom, or for every time I have miserably and gloriously deviated from the birthing/parenting/organizing/whatever-ing plan of my dreams...well damn, I'd have like 20 dollars in mah pocket...

Case in point: breastfeeding. If you had told me I would have nursed wolverine number one until the ripe old age of 13 months even!though!he!bit! I would have tut tutted and patted your simple head.

Conversely, if you'd told me that, in the midst of crushing post partum depression, I would fixate on formula feeding as some kind of bizarre symbol of personal failure, vowing to never give a drop of it to either of my children, I would have laughed in your face.

Oh, the glorious hindsight of the overweight, overworked, and chronically sleep-deprived parent.

Speaking of sleep deprivation, I seem to recall also having very definite thoughts about what was or wasn't an appropriate way to respond to children after hours. CIO was to be my banner, and I would ride forth into battle with a heart of stone.

I failed to take into account the uniquely potent chemical cocktail of mommy hormones which flood mah brain whenever one of the little pups so much as whimpers in the night. Hence, minutes feeling like hours of painful, painful screamfests leading to nearly inevitable resolve crumblings and midnight retrievals from the enemy camp.

Also on my 'never will I ever list:'

Junk food. Oh, I'm sorry, was that cheetoh not organic? Did I seriously just dump a handful of cinnamon sugar sparkle Chex on the 7 month old's high chair tray? Wait, is his tray even attached, or is he just shoved up against the filthy kitchen table top in such a way that his chubby buns cannot disengage from his seat?

Jammies in public. Oh the humanity. Costco, church, the gym, the dr's office, the Secretary of State's office (don't ask, don't tell); you name it, we've been there in footies.

Unbuckled car riding (am I in danger of getting arrested for admitting this? Whatever, we're leaving the country). I vividly recall shrieking at my mother for pulling out of a parking space before I was done buckling my precious firstborn into his seat; I must now confess that I have nursed on the fly with little brother. At least twice. It's almost like we were made to dwell in the land of babies on laps in taxi cabs...

Vaccinations. No vaccinations! Yes vaccinations! Every third vaccination, but skip the fourth dose of each alternating month if the moon is waxing! Still bleeping trying to figure this one out!

Swimming lessons. Babies could naturally swim, right? I watched videos of it on Youtube. It was real. Then I had a real one. Turns out I didn't want to drop him in the deep end to see what would happen 'by instinct.'

Bradley method natural childbirth. Ahem. See references here and here.

In rambling sum, I knew basically nothing before I became a mother, and I know even less now, if possible.

I don't know why I needed to spill these beans, except that turning 30 at the end of this week is making me feel equal parts wise, melancholic, and laughably inexperienced to be entering the land of legitimate adults.

And with that, I bid you all a very fine evening. I'll be up feeding my 8 month old newborn shortly, so I'd best turn in. He's totally sleeping through the night, thanks to my stellar sleep training methodology. Well, except on nights that end in 'Y.'

Go Back to Sleep Now, My Darling

Holding all the mamas and daddies in my heart and before the Sacred Heart of Jesus this week, and especially during the coming Christmas season. I like to think that each of those little ones who entered into Paradise last week were greeted by the Holy Trinity with this lullaby.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I Wore Sunday: Jingle Jam

Hail from the gloriously high and dry elevation of 7,800 feet. Monument, Colorado...almost heaven.

But anyway, the husband and I slipped out for Mass alone this morning - alone I tell you - and it.was.awesome. Homily? I heard it. Eucharist? I got it. Both readings and the responsorial Psalm? Yep, listened to those order.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of Broncos football, children napping on a separate floor from me, and plenty o' aunts, uncles and grandparents to hold them allllllll day long.

Then, I conscripted this lovely lady into snapping my weekly selfies:

Behold, the youngest Senour sister. Ain't she purdy? 

She obliged, willingly. Let the all-humiliation hour commence.

Oh, Christmas tree...

How lovely are your branches. I just have to touch them.

Gaudete Sunday. Nothing says rejoice like a head wreathed in evergreen. 
Outfitted by a thrifty triple threat. I am on fire:

Top: Banana Republic, thrifted
Skirt: Tag ripped out but prooooobably Target, thrifted
Shoes: Nine West, thrifted

Leading me to this little gem, as introduced to mi familia by our recently returned collegiate crew. Warning: F bombs. Like, several. But apt anthem for my awesome.

Forgive my blurry cell phone pix?

Happy Sunday, off to FLAP you go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Say 'Ahhhh'

Yesterday was an auspicious day in the Uebbing household, and by that I mean every member of the adult team got a shower.

Also, we went for a dental triple threat mid-workday, in which 3/4 of our members climbed into the 'ol saddle for a scraping/buffing/flossing with piano wire session to the very reasonable tune of $340 bones.

Feeling stupidly optimistic and even a teensy bit excited about 'getting away from it all' at the spa waiting room complete with current editions of US Weekly and BHG and a Keurig and refrigerated bottled water and a clean, non-germ infested kiddy corner, I packed up both kids and swooped by the office to pick up Daddy for a real family outing. Because the family that x-rays together, stays together. Because they've seen all eachother's secrets...

But I digress.

No sooner had I settled in for a comfortable catch up session on Jessica Simpson's latest pregnancy and Selena and Bieber's latest reconciliation than Dave decided to excuse himself to the restroom sans kiddo.


25 seconds later, JP and Joey were vying heroically to capture my undivided attention, one via frantic nursing and the other via squatting into business position and screaming 'clean and dry Mommy!' causing the receptionist's face to melt into a mask of anticipatory horror. I believe I fed her fears by asking Joey if he needed to use the potty, thus confirming her suspicions that he was indeed potty training and might not have been wearing the appropriate undergarments for hazard control purposes. (He was. We're not sadists.)

Nevertheless, I sprang into action, not wanting to alarm the receptionist further. Most likely flashing her with a stray boob shot, I scooped up the offending squatter and made for the door to the lobby elevator, where another bathroom awaited us. Joey screamed pleasantly about wanting to push the buttons, and I ignored him as we sprinted from the elevator towards the bathroom.

The thing is, he just isn't turning in the 100 meter times we'd like to see from him these days, in spite of his high carbohydrate and chocolate coconut milk diet. So I ought not have been surprised when I turned to usher him in the bathroom door and instead saw the elevator doors closing in front of his horrified face.



Joey? Joey!! Joey don't touch any of the buttons. (Frantically hitting the up button trying to call the elevator back)

Beep beep beeeeeeeeep. Hello, Denver county 911, what is your emergency, elevator occupants?


As Joey wailed his woes into the listening ear of an unsuspecting emergency operator, I sprinted upstairs to catch the elevator on its return trip. Except it had gone to the basement.

Joey, get off when the elevator opens again! Can you hear me?

Mommeeeeeeeeeeeee, are you?! Mommy? 

Does anyone need emergency assistance at this location? I repeat, does anyone need emergency...

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of blonde hair in the open stairwell 3 floors below me. Tucking the large baby into a football hold, I sprinted down to subground level and scooped up one very naughty toddler into my free arm for a Heisman dash back to the foyer.

Hello? Does anybody need assistance?

Where was the damn elevator? It was still somewhere between floors, but the operator's increasingly concerned voice was ringing out for all office dwelling inhabitants to hear.

Crouching low next to the closed elevator doors, a baby under each arm, I whispered furtively that we were fine, that everyone was fine, before slinking back into the dentist's waiting room. Dave was looking at me quizzically, no doubt impressed at the sweat I'd managed to break in under 3 minutes.

Just squeezing in some cardio, dear, I snarled at him, tossing both kids his way before enthusiastically volunteering to go first.

The rest of the appointment went swimmingly, filled with blood curdling screams, awkward discussions of Italian real estate and gas prices with a gloved fist in my mouth, and snippets of truly enjoyable QT with my youngest, who perched disarmingly on my stomach while Dr. Cheerful scraped away and regailled me with tales of moms who had breastfed in the chair before, don't you worry about a thing.


Naturally, Joey let exactly no one near his mouth, screamed like a wounded animal when deposited into the chair, and earned himself a super bouncy ball, a new toothbrush, and a gentle pat pat on the head and an invitation to come back and try again in a year or 6.

We'll almost definitely be back never.
On our merry way out, he called the bleeping fire department again.

Don't worry, I made Dave answer this time. I'm sure they didn't know it was the same negligent parent-offspring duo.

I'm sure.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What I Wore Sunday: Advent Cheer Edition

Awkward pregnant/Napoleon hand. Neither is relevant, promise.

Trying my bestest to look like everyone's drunk Irish uncle. Succeeding wildly.

Generationally awkward. I promise, Joey was striking this same pose seconds before.

2/3 of these things are not as brooding as the other...

The skinny:

Dress: off-brand, thrifted
Jacket: Talbot's (don't judge me): thrifted
Shoes: JCrew, thrifted
Necklace: Target
Bracelet: Helzberg
Children: shared a (bleepity bleep bleep bleep) room last night! Maybe some of us slept, maybe not. But they had eachother to torment. Revenge is mine, sayeth the mom.

Happiest 2nd Sunday of Advent. Hope yours is spent drinking seasonal beer, watching the snow fly, and checking facebook for nothing new.

Off to the link up you go.

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes: 'Pull the Curtain Back' Edition

I was reading a newly discovered blog gem earlier this week and I experienced a pang of annoyance that I could not ascertain an 'about me' section about the author anywhere on the page. Feeling momentarily frustrated, I decided to search for post tags with a similar title, but was thwarted anew. 'What's this?' I asked myself, indignantly (for I am 9 times out of 10 indignant in my internal monologues) 'Don't I deserve more information about this author/her background/her academic pedigree/her favorite time of day to go to Target?'

Um, no. No I don't. But the entire experience caused me to look in my blogging mirror, see my coal-black kettle reflection staring at me accusingly, and decide to offer you fine people some kind of autobiographical nonsense about myself.

Since I am only moderately technologically literate, I have yet to discover how to make separate 'pages' on my blog, so you won't find those handy little tabs up top. Grace could probably tutor me, but then again, she is possibly busy training for a marathon while cooking a 3rd trimester turkey and peeling one toddler off another well-dressed mini model, so I won't impose.

Without further mind-numbing explanation or detail, I present to you:

7 fun facts about Jenny @ Mama Needs Coffee
1. I do, in fact, need coffee. Every morning, regardless of season, gestational state, or geographic location. When Dave and I got married, we blew most of our wedding budget on a 12 day honeymoon on the Big Island of Hawaii (highly recommend. My mom has almost forgotten about the plastic cutlery at our tables, but our luau memories are firmly intact).
Although I was more relaxed and happy than I have ever been in my life, I still needed at least 12 ounces of the black magic to get my day started. And please, within one hour of waking. Lest the migraine sets in. One year I gave it up for lent, and it was .... okay, it will never happen again. The end.

2. I am a Catholic 're-vert' ... sort of. The oldest of 7 kids, I was born and raised in a good Catholic family, but I did attend public school. This + an insatiable desire to date football players led me to flout my parent's wishes and attend CU Boulder as an undergrad. I followed a shoulderpad-clad linebacker up to the People's Republic and stayed for 4 sad years, the large part of which were spent smoking, binge drinking, eating Chipotle, and skipping classes. Oh, and skipping Masses.
Thanks to the tireless prayers of my faithful mother, the loving pursuit of a FOCUS missionary, and the timely wager of my holier-than-me little sister, I came to myself sometime in the spring of my Senior year and made the life-altering decision to transfer to Franciscan University of Steubenville, where I did one victory lap of undergraduate studies and then a couple years of MA work in theology and, appropriately enough, counseling. I thank God every day (or at least on the days I remember to) for the second chance, and for the beautiful family He has given me.

3.  Pope John Paul II was - and continues to be - instrumental in my conversion and my ongoing pursuit of God's will for my life. On the day he died, I spent the morning glued to my tv, missing all my morning classes and almost missing work. At a certain point, I couldn't take the talking heads any longer, and I wandered a few blocks to the nearest Catholic parish where I found an image of him displayed in the front of the church, accompanied by flowers and candles.
I sat dazedly in the pew, tears streaming inexplicably down my face, for I don't know how long. It was me and a little old lady alone in the church for at least an hour, but at some point a journalist from the Denver Post happened upon me, snapped a photo of me kneeling before the late pontiff's image, and asked if he could conduct a brief interview for their special coverage section. Long story short: I have a picture and accompanying quote of myself in the paper on the day my conversion began in earnest.

4.  I still love to drink. Like, love me a glass of wine or a beer (or two). I take the illustrious GK Chesterton as my model of authentic Christian living, recalling his admonition to 'let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair' and taking to heart his declaration that 'in Catholicism, the pipe, the pint, and the Cross can all fit together.' Amen.

 5. I have an unshakable love for cats. I know, I know...I missed my true calling to be a chubby spinster in a velour jogging suit surrounded by four-legged friends eating from glass dishes of fancy feast...but it's true: I've never met a cat I didn't at least sort of like.
 Case in point: approximately once a year, I petition my husband in earnest to relent his 'no pets' standard and allow a feline into our house. He then informs me that 'my fertility is probably returning' (we've been pregnant or nursing for our entire marriage thus far), and I pout, decide he is right, and go back to tempting neighborhood strays into our yard with dishes of 1% milk. They never stay. Needless to say, I am tres excited for our Roman relocation for, among other things, the opportunity to befriend literally thousands of stray cats that populate the city.

6. I love to run. I try to log 5-10 miles a week these days, because I'm mostly running indoors and treadmills are boooooooring. But the childcare at my gym is stellar, so what can I do? I have run 5 half marathons in my former life, and I hope to run another...someday. As of now, I'm still 20 lbs overweight with baby fluff and mah feet hurt after an hour of Zumba, so suffice it to say, I'm not in 13.1 shape. But someday...

7. Despite being raised in an awesomely large family, and being the oldest of said brood, I've never wanted a large family of my own. What I mean is, I've never dreamed  of having my own baseball team or fantasized about a 15-passenger van full of people who look like me. Now, we practice NFP, so every month or so we have the 'is this a good time to be open to another member of this family' conversation. And so far, we've said 'yep' twice.
Being a faithful, NFP-practicing Catholic does not, contrary to popular misconception, mean having as many kids as physically possible. It does mean being open to God's will for your family - for your entire married life. So the reality is, we might end up with a large family in the end, if we determine that to be God's will for our marriage. The cool thing is, it's an ongoing conversation. So while today doesn't feel like the day where I can confidently say 'Yeah, 6 kids would be great!' I might feel differently 7 years or 7 weeks from now. And that's cool.

 So there you have it, folks. 7 things about me you didn't know you didn't need to know...

Happy Friday! To Jen's you go.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ode to Advent

Twas the night before this one, and all through this house,

There is crap piled in corners and boxes throughout,

Though our Christmas tree's heavenly scent fills the air,

All the toilets are dirty, the sinks filled with hair;

So what to my aching mom eyes should appear,

But the glistening chance to do Advent 'right' this year.

No music of Christmas, no garlands of lights,

Just 4 simple candles, which we light every night.

Though the Christmas tree stands, its branches are bare,

And I pretend piety - not sloth - got us there.

While my dishes are soiled and the laundry piles higher up,

I sit on the floor while Joey wheels me his fire truck;

Which is captained by Mary and St. Joseph dolls,

Though not baby Jesus, he's hiding from all

Until Christmas morning when we will awake,

And rush to the kitchen, mimosas to make;

And while I sigh and I survey the squalor around me,

I marvel at His love - in chaos, He found me

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Worth a re-post of its own

Found this little gem while hopping around from blog to blog following last Sunday's link up, and it is one of the most concise and well-researched cases for the problem with hormonal contraceptives that I've seen.

Please read, please share with your friends and family, and please keep the conversation going. It's 2012 - women shouldn't be dying from medical ignorance.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let Me Be Clear

(shudder) Can anyone utter or even think that phrase without hearing president smugbama sneering in their cranium?

Moving on.

When I said a social media fast was upon this house as Christmas time draws near, I guess I wasn't counting on the, um, reality that blogs are somewhat social and media related. But rest assured, dear readers...I couldn't go 23 days without blogging unless I were 9.25 months pregnant or severely and recently postpartum. You can check my archives, those are both conditions which must present in order for me to shut the front door and leave your eyes in peace.

For me, blogging is less social media and more cathartic, semi-rewarding use of the intellect. So basically the exact opposite of facebook, et al.

And who knows? Maybe with all my newfound free time away from PinFaceGram and the barrage of hopelessly unrealistic images of beauty, style, and hardwood floors sans old black beans and rice cereal fossils, I will engage in some deep, meaningful and non-political reflections on truth, goodness, and the meaning of life.


At any rate, rest assured you will be kept abreast of our ongoing saga to unload our worldly possessions, the infernal process of obtaining Italian visas, and the antics of a certain potty-resistant 2 year old and his chunky, immobile sidekick, JP the mellow. Who is just happy to be here. And is perhaps my favorite child. Shhhh...

Oh, and lots more pictures of me dressed in grown up clothes. At least one time per week.You are most welcome, in advance.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple again, even though Mass was an abysmal C- for one naughty 2 year old, and I didn't actually get photographed in my church clothes.

Moving on. All fancy photos courtesy of my handsome husband who encouraged me to frolic on the front lawn while our mysterious neighbor's roommate's wife (does that make sense? Me neither.) smoked sullenly against the side of her Chevy Fiesta and eyed our crazy up and down.

Casual hair tuck.

Not a Honda commercial. (Okay, maybe a little bit. 2003 Honda Accord LX, anyone? Our buyer fell through today.)

The decidedly-casual-not-for-Mass outfit details:
Top: Old Navy (thrifted)
Necklace: Target
Jeans: Express. Full price. Because of this.
Shoes: Blowfish (thrifted)
Tank: Kirkland's Best (because I'm worth it.)

Onward and upward to Advent.

I'll be off facebook, instacrack and all other non-work related forms of social media for the 'little Lent' of Advent, and boy oh boy do I need it. I have been a festering ball of stress and emotional instability all week long, culminating in a voluntary 4 am wake-up yesterday in anticipation of our somewhat underwhelming 'indoor garage sale,' in which we sold approximately 1/3 of our earthly possessions, which is 2/3 less than we needed to.

Trying so hard not to freak out every hour, on the hour, about what needs to get done, and instead focus on what is being done for us, i.e. by God, Who is actually in control of this and all situations.

Also trying verrrrry hard not to think about the 2/3 of a pack of Camel Lights resting somewhere in the bottom of my trash can. Stress habit or not, it was becoming something of a hindrance to my mile time and to my ability to smell not awful when Dave gets home from work.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

...Are often laid to waste by croupy babies, shrieking toddlers, and a house so filthy it can barely be recognized as 'indoors' as opposed to, I don't know, the back alley behind a dry cleaner's and a deli.
There are boxes of c-r-a-p everywhere. Someone came by and bought all our dressers on Monday night, so there are piles of clothes all over the place, too. I meant to do something about it during naptime yesterday, but instead I crouched in my disheveled bed amidst a pile of (clean? dirty?) laundry and watched the latest episode of Parenthood.

And it was good. Dammit, Grace, it was good. You were spot on. And I don't have time for that right now. 

I have like a million billion pages of lists for world domination that are scattered about the shanty, but most days all I manage to do is keep the children alive, (yesterday, just barely though. Never, ever take a toddler to have their blood drawn. Insist upon leeches or some other more civilized means of extraction.) get dinner made ordered, and whale around on the treadmill or rowing machine while I sweat bullets over the looming specter of no gym (read: no kid's club.)

We need visas. We need a plane ticket for my little sister, aka our temporary nanny for the first two months. We need longer term housing in Rome. We need like, 7 large suitcases and many, many more Tide To Go pens to fill them with. We need 6 months worth of prescriptions, another suit for Dave, piles of linens and towels to be vacuum sealed and magically shrunken down for easy transport. We need to sell the entire rest of our house and then, somehow, still live in it for another 5 weeks.

And my in-laws are coming for Christmas. And bringing the college kids. Indoor family camping trip, anyone?

I know this sounds like the worst kind of entitled whining, and I don't mean for it to. I am just fricking freaking out a teeny bit, and wondering how this is all going to come together. Plus, I normally garner a lot of peace and confidence from having an orderly, comfortable home to dwell in. When the outside of my world looks like chaos, the inside feels about the same.

So I guess the lesson in all this is, drink more wine, watch more reality tv, spend more time in prayer. Because while I feel completely out of control these days, the only thing that has really changed is the illusion of control. I no longer gotz it.

Game on, Advent. We're ready for you.

And as an added bonus, this year we will be celebrating Christmas in an actual stable.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

'What's that dear? Look drunk and pregnant? We'll try our best.'
How about a careless 80's pose against a timeless corrugated steel-garage-door-backdrop? 

Lifetouch portraits called, the want to know if we're available to do 5th grade class portraits for Miss Schroeder's class next week.
Okay, now put the jacket on and let the baby Mike Tyson your ear candy.

And a sassy hip pop.


'There, there, mom. Don't worry about that muffin top, all eyes are on me anyway.'
The lowdown:
Jacket: American Eagle, thrifted
Top: Apartment 9, thrifted
Skirt: Ralph Lauren (now I see why it was at el outlet mall)
Boots: Madden Girl (think Steve's bratty little sister)

Angry toddler: a scowl and Children's Place, head-to-StrideRight-toes, thrifted
Happy baby: Izod, Children's Place and Pediped, you guessed it, thrifted.

What do you mean there's no Goodwill in Italy?

Hold me.

(And a big thanks to the ladies of Fine Linen and Purple for getting us to Mass on time for the first Sunday in, oh, I don't know...ever?)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Balls to the Walls*

What I mean is, it's hall-decking time in the (formerly known as) Senour house! And in the immortal words of my sweet godson, Mikey:

"Balls to the walls, Grandad?"

"Yes Mikey, that's what they tell me."

Confused? You ought to be. (Lizzie just texted me that I basically got everything about this story wrong. Including this crucial ditty. Caution: f-bombs. Times a million.)

But the punchline is this: my Advent-loving, liturgically accurate husband has agreed to lift our perennial ban on early Christmas decor since we are leaving ze country shortly after Epiphany this year, which means I get to bust out my box of Dollar Store delights about 3.5 weeks early.

Game on, Denver.

This year, we'll be entertaining 75% of my extended family for Christmas week in our humble abode, which is rapidly emptying of any and all furniture and decor. To compensate, I plan to string party lights from every available surface and compensate for an appalling lack of pillows and mattresses with plenty of gluvine and trays of mini quiches from Costco.

Let the games begin.

*p.s. My dad had a really unfortunate verbal misstep about 3 Christmases ago that my sweet nephew kindly repeated to the rest of us. Every year henceforth, when mom and dad bust out the over-sized glass and plastic ornaments that are (inexplicably) tacked to every wall and dangled from every light fixture in the home, well...the rest is history.)

p.p.s. Some encouragement and edification in the midst of my almost entirely frivolous postings for the past, oh, month or so. And we're not pregnant.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I Wore (to drive) to Thanksgiving Dinner

Holler at me Grace.

Coming to you fresh from the Rocky Mountains...

Not a drop of alcohol has been consumed yet.

But the promise is there.

Top: White House Black Market (thrifted)
Necklace: Lia Sophia (gifted)
Skirt: Target (exclusive boutique in my hood ... sorry if you've never heard of it.)
Shoes: Blowfish (thrifted)

Side view. You're welcome.
(Want guns like that? Dream on. I have good genes and hours at le gym to thank. Ever female in my immediate family has a pair. My dad refers to them as the 'Senour Baby Cranes' ... you know, for lifting babies. You can see why my parents have enjoyed the long, happy marriage they have.)

Gratuitous family shot. Only missing like 65% of our members.

The happy couple.
In real life, I'm not this fat, and he's not this tired.
Okay, yes we are.

 Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Packing, Selling, Shopping, and Smoking

Oh. So much to do.

And yet...I've been spending hours just reading blogs, obsessively cleaning the bathroom (a losing battle with a potty-training male), wandering out back to smoke furtive Camel Lights during naptime (judging me yet?), and staring vacantly at my rapidly emptying house, rendered increasingly barren by the generous shopping habits of friends and acquaintances. Did you know you can sell pretty much anything on Facebook? Apparently.

I can't believe we're doing this. And yet, if feels so much like a direct invitation from the Lord, that we barely hesitated to give our affirmative answer.

Which was comforting when I was wiring $400 via Paypal to an old man named Giuseppe over lunch today, crossing my fingers that 33 days in an internet vacation rental would be sufficient time to find a 'real' apartment when we get there in January.

So here we sit, 1 day till Thanksgiving, 30 days till my 30th birthday, 34 days until Christmas, and 42 days until we leave the country...for good. For a while, at least. Oh, it's also our 3rd wedding anniversary. Today. I should totally cook dinner tonight to commemorate it.

Pardon me, I have to step outside for a moment. Ahem.

Did I mention that it is 67 degrees here in Denver on this Thanksgiving Eve? And that 'Thanksgiving Eve' is now apparently a thing? And that Costco was off the hizzy this morning and people already had that crazed, 'gotta snap up that last faux-cashmere bathmat' gleam in their eyes while wielding their semi-carts?


I should also mention that I saw an Obama logo on a car today - no words, just the weird sun rising symbol thing - and thought to myself 'that looks like the Eye of Sauron.' Then I called my sister to tell her about it, and she said 'are you going to write a blog post about it?'


Or maybe not. Sorry for the hot mess that this is. You should see my kitchen right now. You should see my stretched out, stained and ill-fitting maternity spanx-y cami right now. You should see the new James Bond movie this weekend, I've heard. You should send a babysitter over our way so I can see it, too.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to be cheersing it up in about 9 minutes, when it will officially be 5'clock on the East Coast. Anyone care to join me for a virtual IPA and a beleaguered sigh over long-fought naptime battles?

I'll be back tomorrow with fewer words, more pictures, and lots of thrift store treasures on dem hips so Grace can see me in big girl clothes for the festive occasion. You're welcome, in advance.


Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes: All My Fears on (Virtual) Paper

1. We're moving to Italy, y'all. It feels much more real to be able to share it with you on the internets now that all the financial questions have been settled and the tickets are being booked. But I repeat, we're moving to Italy. With 2 babies. And we're moving to one of the oldest, most expensive, and most chaotic and beautiful cities on the planet. Also, there are no screens on the windows. And we will likely be living on the 3rd or 4th floor of some ancient marble-ensconced apartment building.

2. With 2 baby boys. If the (slightly) smaller one is anything like his big brother, I expect to never sleep again, as I will be forced to maintain nocturnal vigilance over all the windows in the joint, lest someone escape and jump out.  Because if they do, how do I call 911? And how do we get to the ER? And how will I know what to google to ask the doctors?

3. I really don't love pasta. It's a nice occasional treat, but not something I care to eat on a daily or even weekly basis. Refried beans, on the other hand...well, you know what to send in care packages. How about we strike a deal: send flats of beans via flatrate shipping boxes, and I will return said boxes stuffed with gorgeous scarves, jars of authentic nutella and bottles of limoncello. K?

4. I don't speak Italiano. I mean, I can order my espresso and my vino and gelati, and I can sweet talk my way past a Vatican guard or police officer, but I can't do much in the way of conversation. Should be an interesting time at mom's group...

5. Speaking of mom's groups....Can I be frank here? I am terrified of being friendless in a foreign city. I am a rare breed of choleric introvert, and while I get lonely after too many days of only cray cray toddlers to opine to, I kind of hate making new friends, too. It's equal parts sad and pathetic, I know. So pray I meet some brilliant Italian women who speak fluent English, or that the entirely of the Christendom Rome program wants to come over and babysit my progeny while I blow all my euros buying up the entire XL rack at H&M. (Because we all know it will be full and heavily discounted, wink wink.)

6. Where are we going to live, you ask? That's a great question. Italians do things somewhat differently in the housing department, and by that I mean it's a complete clusterfunk of bureaucracy and nepotism. Don't bother with Craigslist, you foolish expat. Romans are expected to wine and dine their prospective landlords, then sign a kind of housing pre-nup, then court for an appointed period while meeting eachother's families, etc., and finally, a spit and a handshake seals the strange, strange deal. Bottom line: we are moving over there homeless, essentially, and will be living in a vacation rental of some sort until we can enter into a serious relationship with our new place, wherever that may be.

7. Grocery shopping. But wait, isn't it romantic that Romans shop every day, or every other day at the least? Fresh produce markets, fresh bread at the bakery, wine at the wine shop, meat at the butcher's, you get the picture...there are, of course, American style 'supermarkets' of sorts, about the size and selection you'd find at a Walgreens, but here's the thing: no car, no massive stock-up trips. Shopping every day is not only romantic, it's brutally necessary when you're a pedestrian pushing a double stroller filled with human life and only one small basket to receive dry goods. One of my girlfriends suggested replacing one meal per day with a small, compact Cliff bar, and it's not a half bad suggestion.

So those are the fears, kinda silly now that they're splashed in digital ink on the electronic page. I am sure the joys will multiply and outnumber them, but they're real enough, for now. As for all you fine people, I can't thank you enough for all you kind words via email, comments, and FB.

Go see Jen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

But I Don't Like Pasta

Remember my sneaky sotto voce aside about discernment and being bad at it?

Well, the time for pondering has come and gone. Decisions have been made, authorities have been notified, and the grandparents have been traumatized. In less than 2 months, we are packing up our worldly possessions and moving these bello bambinos of ours to the eternal city for a crash course in Italian immersion.

That's right folks, we're that crazy, and we're moving to Rome.

Dave was presented with a career opportunity we simply couldn't refuse, and so after much prayer, conversation and weekday drinking (which was really just practice for our new lifestyle) we've decided to pull the trigger.

Are we excited? Um, yes, a little bit.


Yes, that too.

We have one gluten free family member and one lactard in our ranks, so the land flowing with cheese and pasta is going to be culinarily...challenging.

I also have a rather virulent aversion to heat, so summers should be fun.

But I digress.

We're moving to Italy, people! With babies! And we don't speak Italian! We're crazy!

And now, I must be tending to the somewhat daunting task of liquidating the entirety of our worldly possessions, minus a few outfits and our digital camera.

Which brings me to one final piece of information: anyone in the Denver area wishing to buy an entire houseful of furniture, $2,000 + worth of baby gear and a sensible Honda Accord in dark gray, call me, maybe?

Until next time friends, Arrivederci.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For My Mama

My mom is amazing.

So far, she has raised and successfully launched (so far) 5 little birds from the nest. 2 remain at home though, and for the first time in 20-something years (a lady never tells), my parents actually have a bedroom/bathroom to offspring ration that approaches something like the American average.

Not that it's something they - or any of the seven of us - would have traded, but I'm sure they are glorying in the space they have now. At least until the next holiday break rolls around and the college kids return to raid the fridge.

They redid their kitchen when I left for college, and that has remained the gorgeous heart of our home. Their master bedroom and bath is also in pretty good shape, thanks to my dad's rocking handyman skills.

There is a sore spot though, a sadly abused and neglected room that my mother has probably spent more collective hours in than any other in the house. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of it, but suffice it to say it is not overly attractive, but it does get the job done.

You guessed it folks: it's the laundry room.

Being the good little technology literate offspring that I am, I painstakingly collected and emailed images of drool-worthy shelving, storage, and washer/dryer arrangements to mom this morning, only to be rebuffed by a mutual confusion over file transfers. 

So without further ado, I give you (mostly you, mom) the inspiration board for the Senour laundry room renovation of 2012. Because I can't figure out an easier way to show this to you, Mom, and since you're my most faithful reader and approximately 10% of my regular viewing audience, I thought you deserved your very own post.



(Dad, see me for pricing and shopping tips) ;)

(all images linked to original sources)

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Pics

1. Because I got nothing this week. Nada. Jen may or may be puking on a plane right now, so maybe she can entertain you more effectively.

2. Emotional hangovers be damned.

3. Still, if you're looking for encouragement, you could always read this or maybe this.

4. Or think budgetarily inappropriate thoughts while admiring these.

5. Or you could listen to this 1 or 20 times on Youtube. Not that I haven't. (Okay, 21. Thanks Dwija.)

6. But I digress. Without further ado, I give you a tale of two brothers, in still life:

One's a pleaser...
(Aw shucks, mom.)
And one's a streaker.

Sippy cup + naked toddler + leather couch = all around winning combo

Buns in the air. We just don't care.
 7. The end. Why won't they nap?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Same Sex 'Marriage' And The Trouble With Words

Here's the thing about redefining marriage to suit cultural trends; it's never going to stop.

What I mean by that is not necessarily that in the year 2045 people will be wedding their golden retrievers, (though they may be, in Boulder) but that in seeking to redefine a traditional (aka long-held) understanding of what something is, we unhinge our little corner of existence from the rest of human history and push off for some unknown shore, secure in our chronological snobbery that we have at last 'gotten it right' where thousands of years and millions of minds of human history have failed.

Because that's realistic, right? To believe that here, today, we are somehow smarter/faster/stronger/more moral/more enlightened than the entire mass of humanity upon whose bones we stand.

I beg to differ.

Redefining marriage as something other than 'one man, one woman, one lifetime' is to attempt fundamentally alter the very thing which we collectively understand and recognize marriage to be.

Proponents of gay 'marriage' and the like will argue that it is precisely a poverty of understanding which prevents people from being 'open minded' enough to recognize marriages between two members of the same sex. But they fail to recognize that fundamental truths are not arrived at by unanimous consensus. Rather, the consensus follows the recognition of reality.

It's like this. Even if some state or country or local municipality unanimously votes to change the tiresome name of the color 'red' to the more pleasing moniker 'dusty granola shimmer,' that doesn't mean folks pulling up at stoplights will begin to see 'dusty granola shimmer' and hit the brakes. It may over time start to be called another thing, but its essential redness remains intact. It is red in its essence, and we can re-name it and re-title it a thousand times, but it won't change the way light hits the retina and reflects a message of fiery brightness to the brain.

Maybe that analogy was terrible, but so is the logic behind the effort to 'redefine' marriage as some kind of lifelong slumber party with health benefits.

I don't mean to be flippant here. I know there are people who struggle with same sex attraction, who don't struggle with same sex attraction and believe with every fiber of their being that they are gay and were made to be in relationship with a person of their same sex. But that individual belief, that personal experience should not - does not - have the power to alter reality.

For decades, the culture at large has been desperately trying to alter and ignore this reality. The reality that men and women are made to be in relation with one another, to bring forth life together, and to parent and educate that life into adulthood. Enter contraception, abortion, broken and abandoned families and no fault divorce, and is it any wonder that the very mention of the 'sanctity' of marriage in a culture such as ours is greeted with guffaws and incredulous laughter.

Are all these things linked?  Maybe it isn't apparent. But it seems to me that when the majority of a culture rejects the divinely inspired and ordained order and meaning of a thing, namely, marriage, then those who would defend it from subsequent attacks have little left to stand on.

Why shouldn't gay people have the right to sign a contract, throw a party, and pledge their lives to another person and call it marriage? Will their union ever be capable of producing love so incarnate it needs to be named 9 months later?

Well, no.

But there are so many sterilized 'straight' marriages out there now that the argument falls on deaf ears.

Why wouldn't a person vote to allow two people who love each other to call one another 'spouse' on legal documents and hospital paperwork? If spousal love is no longer understood to be a reflection of the life-giving, self-immolating and re-creating fire of the Trinity, then why not let everyone with the inclination claim it as such?

They're just words, aren't they?

Or are we defending something more than words here...are we defending reality itself from the decline and decay of a language - and with it, a civilization?

Just some food for thought on this Election Day.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make myself a big plate of nachos dripping in cheese and call it a salad. Because that feels right to me, and very true. No matter what the scale tells me tomorrow morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Women, Know Your Limits

Emily Stimpson once again knocks it out of the evidenced by the borderline satanic feedback in her combox below the original piece. Read on, be inspired, and go VOTE.

"Optimism has never been my thing. I blame it on the rather high percentage of Irish blood I have in this body of mine. We Irish hold our traditions of pessimism dear, and if I am any kind of woman, I am a traditional one.
Nevertheless, as the election grows closer, I’m having an awfully hard time remaining true to type. There’s this strange feeling growing inside me that can only be described as hope. I am increasingly hopeful, with the occasional moment of confidence, that Mitt Romney will take Ohio and the presidency next Tuesday.
I’m also increasingly hopeful that this election cycle will deal a serious wound, if not the ultimate deathblow, to the whole idea of “women’s issues.” Or at least to the idea of women’s issues as politically conceived.
I don’t want to let my hopes get too high on that count, but with Romney’s campaign finally closing the gender gap, I can’t help but dream of a day when certain politicians don’t think that the fastest way to secure a woman’s vote is to promise to be her substitute father, husband, lover, doctor, teacher, and friend (ala The Life of Julia).
Nor can I stop dreaming of a day when those same candidates don’t assume that all women are keen on having the right to kill their unborn children, and recognize that, in fact, more women identify themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”
Try as I might to stop it, my mind continues to wander to a halcyon future when liberal politicians acknowledge that women own small businesses, have investments, and worry about pesky things like job creation, debt, and runaway entitlement spending.
In that future, they also recognize that women are rational creatures, with thoughts on war and peace, education and energy policy, trial lawyers and unions. In other words, they recognize that there’s a veritable laundry list of issues we consider more important than government-sponsored birth control.
Heck, since we’re dreaming, let’s just go for it and imagine a day where all politicians show some real concern for women’s health by pledging to put some of those government research dollars to work studying the many links between birth control and cancer.
Baseline minimum, I’m hoping for a future where presidents of the United States don’t think it’s anything other than nauseating to equate the act of voting with losing one’s virginity…where fathers of two young girls don’t have campaign ads mocking abstinence…and where those entrusted with safeguarding the Constitution realize that women might—just might—be more worried about the government violating the First Amendment and depriving Christians of their right to live their beliefs than they are about seeing Big Bird lose his government paycheck.
Okay, okay, maybe I’m getting a little out of control here. I should probably reign the fantasizing back in. It will take more than one electoral defeat to send the message to liberal politicians of Obama’s ilk that women are reasonable, intelligent creatures, who use our pretty little heads to think about more than sex and shopping. Indeed, that we think all sorts of thoughts and that those thoughts aren’t the same as every other woman’s.
Which I suppose, even more than the assumptions underlying President Obama’s particular approach to the politicking of women, is what really bothers me about the idea of “women’s issues.”
You see, just like men, women are capable of caring about a world that’s bigger than our own. Just like men, we work, pay bills, and worry about our children’s (or potential children’s) future. Just like men, we read and think and observe the world around us, then make decisions based on what we read and think and observe. And we do it all as individuals, not as a sex. Again, just like men.
But despite the fact that both women and men do all those things, no politician ever insinuates that men base their vote on their gender or their sex lives. They don’t cater exclusively to men’s self-interest, nor do they pander to men as a political monolith. They respect men as individuals, capable of independent thought and action. They acknowledge the differences in the opinions men hold.
That same respect isn’t given to women, not by President Obama and not by countless other politicians. Which is why the whole concept of “women’s issues” is laden with sexism from the start.
And yes, I know, there are bigger problems in the world than a president who puts his stamp of approval on raunchy, demeaning political ads. But ideas, as they say, have consequences, and in this administration, the persistent sexism of our president has had more than a few of those. The most serious infringement of religious liberty by the national government in our history is one of them. Christina Hoff Sommers uber-ably pointed out many others in an essay that ran earlier this week for National Review.
What concerns me most, however, are the numbers of otherwise intelligent women who still don’t have a problem with this administration’s conception of women. Who, in fact, seem to share it, and in doing so, are failing to grasp the deepest truths of their own dignity and worth.
What, I wonder, will it take for them to see beyond President Obama’s talk of being “pro-woman” and see the sexism underlying his every word?
What will it take for them to realize that if you strip away the Hollywood Starlets and armband tattoos, this video…Says pretty much the same thing as this video.
That’s Obama’s message to us lady folk in a nutshell: “Women, know your limits.”
Hasn’t the time come for us to say the same thing to him and the whole idea of “women’s issues”?
This Tuesday, we’ll get our chance.  Here’s hoping we take it."

Keep it up, Miss Stimpson. You're pissing off the Devil just like a good Catholic girl should.