Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A New Home and a Home Altar

So, you remember when we moved half-way across the country and into a tiny duplex a scant two months ago? Well, we intended on renting for a while but then we started "casually" looking--just for fun, you know.

It's all fun and games until you come across THE perfect house in THE perfect neighborhood--then you have to scramble to get approved for a loan before someone else snatches your dream home (4 beds, 2.5 baths, 1st floor laundry, and a screened-porch. Our wish-list verbatim). So yeah, it's been busy. And it's going to get even busier, because after we close next week we are planning on doing some minor renovations (painting, possibly flooring) before we move in. Fun stuff!

Soon this glitzy chandelier will be all mine.

But before all THAT happened I did this little project! And I'm just getting around to posting it.

I borrowed/stole this print (a detail of Raphael's Sistine Madonna) from my dad when I moved into my "own" place when I was nineteen. She's been with me in every place I've lived ever since! It's much prettier in person.

I had been meaning to put together a home altar for a while, and after a few garage sales I could finally get to work.

I gave everything a few coats of an antique white spray paint--more carefully than I usually do because I didn't want to paint the landlord's grass. I don't much care about my own grass, though.

I replaced the Madonna, put a piece of pretty pink scrapbook paper behind the glass in the smaller frame, gathered what few religious items I could find in our recently-moved mess and...boom.

That is two years worth of palms there, because we never remember to burn them. I'm very glad that they all have a home again--they had been rattling around on my dashboard ever since the big move.

The smaller frame became a makeshift whiteboard. Most--ok, some--days after breakfast CJ helps me come up with a prayer intention list. When he asks for us to pray for Princess Anna I usually substitute a general "people who are lonely".

Sometimes we make it through TEN WHOLE Hail Marys after that:) 

This crucifix has been with me since I was a kid. It is originally from the convent associated with the Parish I grew up in. When the convent closed they held a sale of all it's contents and my dad brought this home for me. 

It ain't much, but it sure makes me happy! Maybe after we move AGAIN I will be able to find my prayer cards and such to add to the shelf. One can hope!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

That Small Catholic Family

This one's going to get a little Catholic, folks, so BUCKLE UP. Or, you know, click away. No hard feelings.

Lately, Cari Donaldson, one of my favorite Catholic bloggers has published two pieces about family size in the Catholic community, specifically how we in the pro-life culture have a tendency to objectify children and glorify the larger-than-average family. This not only alienates those in the community who don't have the revered "big Catholic family", but is also completely the opposite of what the pro-life culture stands for.

To Cari I say, YES. And thank you. I am so so glad that these posts are out there. They bear a very important message that I hope many people will take to heart.

Lately I have been struggling with some of my own issues related to the "bigger is better" mentality. 

When I was new to the NFP world I was (silently) a little judgey of the young married couples without children. Then, just as all of my friends and peers were starting their families, I was suffering from sub-fertility and multiple miscarriages. I learned the unspeakably hard way that lack of children doesn't always mean a lack of desire for children.

But that isn't the only reason that we need to tone down the baby-worshiping.

I've wanted to mother a large family for as long as I can remember. I came from a large family, and when I was an adult I came to admire the  wonderful Catholic bloggers out there, many of which run a 6+ child household with grace and poise. Some of the best Catholics I know run large families, and that fed into the whole misconception that in order to be a good married Catholic, one must have more than 2.1 children.

Then I got postpartum depression. It wasn't that I felt a little sad or a little worried; I went completely batshit crazy and had to be hospitalized for a week.

I struggled with a lot of things that week (and for innumerable weeks afterward), but what bothered me the most was that my dream of having a large family was dead. Something that had been so close to my heart for so long was abruptly and painfully torn away.

Not only had I lost my desire for more children, but simply seeing stroller on the street or a onesie set at the mall sent me into a full-blown anxiety attack. If ever the thought of another pregnancy entered my mind, my next thought was of throwing myself out a window. That's how bad it was. I made Nemo promise that we would never try for another, which calmed me somewhat--but I was terrified that stopping my child-bearing career at "only" two would label me a Bad Catholic.

Then some time passed, I did a lot of research, and I finally concluded that due to my specific circumstances, I was perfectly justified in practicing NFP to avoid having more children. The lack of desire for more children is not a sin.

Yay! Not a Bad Catholic.

Then more time passed. I've spent over a year reflecting on this issue, and I have come to a conclusion: I don't want my small family size to be "justified". I shouldn't have to defend myself, or feel the need to explain the absence of several more children given my relatively young age and my husband's gainful employment. I want my family, regardless of our numbers, to be loved and cherished by our Catholic community, end of story.

There are many factors that influence a particular Catholic family's size,  and it doesn't have to be something tragic or life threatening in order for it to be "ok". One of the most important things I have learned in the last year is that preferring a small family doesn't make me any less of a person, a mother, or a Catholic. It simply means that I respect the personality God has given me and recognize that it isn't a flaw that must be overcome. Maybe I can't handle more children; that doesn't make me less than a woman who can.

Sometimes it really is God's plan for a family to remain small. But for people like me, it is also necessary to leave our hearts open so we know when the plan has changed. In the past year I went from terrified, to the point of despair, of having another baby to quietly hopeful that we might someday welcome another baby into our home. My heart has truly been changed, and so dramatically that it can be nothing short of a miracle.

But even if we remain "just four", we are more than "ok". We are more than "justified". We are a family. And all families, whether large, small, or childless, are beautiful. Just love them, support them, celebrate them, and pray for them--no matter their numbers.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Potty Training! TP Unravelling! And more. {7QTs}

Linking without thinking over at Jen's.


Because I believe in keeping things real on the internet, here is a picture of what our living area looks like rightthisminute.

We do have furniture now, so, yay!  But due to the new place being roughly half the size of the new one, we are having issues finding places for all of our stuff. I always thought I was a minimalist, but this move has taught me differently.

 While the house leaves something to be desired, the neighborhood is awesome (which is why we picked it). It is very peaceful and the weather has been so great lately that I have been making a habit of going out for a solo walk after we get the kids in bed. Last night the views were particularly nice.

 A neighbor's back yard. Tres jealous.

What you can't see in the picture is that for the last few days the lovely neighborhood has been smelling spectacularly of horseshit.

My theory is that some local green thumb got a delivery of manure for their garden beds, which is great, but boy does it stank.

So, six or seven years ago my bike was stolen right off our then-apartment's porch. We lived a block away from a high school that could be politely described as "INTENSE", and stolen bikes were the least of the police department's worries. Anyway. I never bothered to buy a new one so I haven't biked in over half a decade.

Now, I know many super-cool people that are avid bikers, so when I saw there was a cycling class at my new gym I thought, hey, I'll be super cool too!


broke my tailbone about three years ago, and it still bothers me quite a bit. Somehow I managed to forget that when I was signing up for a class that would require an hour of contact between said tailbone and a narrow seat evidently made out of concrete.
I made it through the class and it really was a great workout, but I just can't bring myself to go back next week. Guess I can't be super cool after all.

Speaking of CJ, I intended on starting to potty train him this weekend due to the impending start of preschool...then I remembered that I don't have a washing machine.

One is supposed to be installed before August 1, so I guess all potty training plans are on hold until then. Thank goodness. I hate changing diapers, but I am really not looking forward to the whole transition.

Speaking of CJ and transitions (poor kid is having a lot of them lately and he is holding up admirably under the pressure), we changed him over from a crib to a toddler bed when we moved. It has been going rather well, other than some early morning wake-ups to explore the new house when we first arrived. We nipped that in the bud and it hadn't been a problem for a while. Then at 4:40-something last night (I don't consider that to be morning and neither should you) he was stomping around the house looking for "Mommmeeeeeeeeee!" and he got very upset when Daddy tried to put him back to bed. Then when I put him back to bed he pretty much zonked right away. I'm thinking sleep walking, and I really hope he doesn't make a habit of it.

The kids don't often disturb my sleep these days, which is good because I do a fine job of disturbing my own sleep. Really really hoping that he doesn't make a habit of it...


Someone unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper all over the powder room and kitchen today. Surprisingly for a household with two toddlers and two cats, this has never happened before. That was super annoying.

Ya'll should know that Brother Francis has a new dvd available over at Herald Entertainment.  If you like to catechize your kids but don't have a lot of time or brain cells, Brother Francis is the guy for you!
That's the news for now. Later gators.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Humblebees Go Glamping


[mass noun] British informal
A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.

Last Monday the movers packed up most of our stuff and took it away, and we made the move to Wisconsin with only what we could pack in the minivan--which turned out to be quite a lot, actually.

Not even the half of it.
How did we manage to make a 600-mile trip with all this stuff, plus the kids and the cats?

It was a tight fit.

When we were packing our "necessities" for the 10-day gap between when the movers packed up our stuff and when they will deliver it, we seem to have given precedence to Legos and puzzles and and completely forgot about practical things like a cooking pot or silverware. When we got to our new apartment we realized that it didn't have a microwave, and I only just rectified the situation yesterday. My kingdom for the means to make dinner!

Oh! And our apartment is currently devoid of a washer/dryer and it will take the landlord another week to get them installed. I just haven't had the energy to take the kids to a laundromat so...boy do we stink.

The first night without our furniture we discovered that our trusty air mattress had a leak--we noticed this when we woke up at 2am on the floor--which prompted us to go to Target and spring for the mack daddy of air mattresses, plus a memory foam topper. It is very comfortable, as air mattresses go, but I am dying to sleep in my own bed. 

I know it's not exactly like camping, but gosh it is really starting to feel like it.

Thank goodness the movers are scheduled to come first thing tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Interview with a Toddler on the Eve of his Third Birthday

Exactly three years ago I was a full day in to an epic back labor that wouldn't end for another six hours. Fun. Times. But look what I got for my trouble at 3:04 in the A.M. the next day!

Interview with a Toddler

E: Ok CJ, since tomorrow is your birthday I'm going to ask you some very important questions. Are you ready?

C: Yes.

E: Ok, first question. How old are you?

C: I'm freeeeeeee!

E: You're three today? Are you sure? How old are you right now?

C: One

E: Come on, how old are you?

C: I'm twoooo!

E: And how old will be be tomorrow?

C: *Gasps* My happy birrrrthday!

E: Yes, but how old will you be on your happy birthday?

C: Eighty-two!

E: Um, no, you're not eighty-two. Who is eighty two?

C: *grins* Gigi! (My maternal grandmother, who did indeed celebrate her 82nd birthday this month).

E: CJ, where do you live?

C: In mine house. It's yellow and brown.

E: And what is your favorite thing to do?

C: I don't know...that says "do". (I gave him  his own copy of the questions and he was busy trying to read it and thus not very focused on the task at hand).

E: What makes you happy?

C: Mommy! (Awwww...)

E: And what makes you sad?

C: I don't know. I just....1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.....(reading the questionnaire again). 

E: Ok fine. What makes you scared?

C: Chick-fil-a. (He climbed way up in the play structure there a few weeks ago and was too scared to come down.)

E: what is your favorite book?

C: Old McDonald book

E: Which one is that? (we don't own such a book).

C: I don't know.

E: Ok, which story do you want me to read at bedtime tonight?

C: Two stories.

E: But which ones??? Do you want me to read you "War and Peace"?

C: Yeah.

E: Who do you love, CJ?

C: Mommy! (Awwww!!!)1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . .

E., what do you want to do for work when you grow up?

C: Be math teacher!!! (ya think???)

E: What does Daddy do for work?

C: She do math. He do math. (We're working on his pronoun confusion. He used to call everyone "she" since he spends all the time with me and Noni, but he's starting to correct himself now.)

E: What does Mommy do for work?

C: She do math!!!

E: Nooo...what does Mommy do all day?

C: I don't know. I'm going to be math teacher.

E:  And what does Noni like to do?

C: Math.

E: But what does she like to play with?

C: I don't know, I'm writing right now. (Sure 'nuff)

E. Ok, tell me this. What is the meaning of life?

C: I don't know. That says "who".

E: But what is the meaning of life?

And then we went off on a really wild tangent and never got back to the meaning of life. I was kinda disappointed that he didn't say "math".
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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, June 20, 2014


My battle cry these days.

Apartment hunting sure is a lot more complicated than I remember. I guess not being anywhere CLOSE to the city we are hunting in is one of the main complicating factors. As is moving to a place that is actually experiencing economic growth (that's a new one for me) and thus has a competitive rental market.

When we visited a few weeks back on an apartment hunting mission, by some miracle we found a three-bedroom that wasn't icky and was available when we needed it. We were thisclose to signing the lease and I had announced the happy news on Facebook, then I got cold feet at the last minute because

a) No garage. Which I hate.

b) Only one bathroom. Hello, IBS.

c) On the second floor, no elevator

d) Only 1000 square feet, which wouldn't leave much space for my sewing stuff

All first-world problems, I'll grant you.

It wouldn't matter so much but for the fact that Nemo's new job requires longer hours and more travel than we are used to. It's going to be a huge lifestyle change from home at 4:30pm every day and having summers off. Plus it's in WISCONSIN, where I hear the winters are not so fun. The thought of being cooped up in a tiny second floor apartment with a new threenager and the Queen of Sass herself, neither of whom are good at climbing lots of stairs and are even less good at helping clear mountains of snow off the car, with no Nemo to rescue me at the end of the day was really more than I could bear.

As I try to write this.

So back to the drawing board we went.

I've been glued to Craigslist for the last two weeks. We lost out on a great opportunity last week and everything else we've found is SUPER expensive. Like three times what we spend on our house now.

Have I mentioned that the movers are picking up our stuff on June 30? Ha ha ha ha. Oh. Crimeny. We're doomed.
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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Projects Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Stress, thy name is relocation. Nemo recently decided to accept a job offer in Wisconsin, over 600 miles from the area we've called home for the last eight years. So for the next month we'll be extremely busy orchestrating the move.

Our house went up on the market on Friday, and we've had several showings so far with positive feedback. Although our agent reported that someone loved everything about the house, but hated the outbuilding. Me too, sister. Me too.

Prayers are appreciated for a quick sale.

We still have to find a place to live in our new city and we'll probably be making a trip out there in the next few weeks to scout out real estate, but realistically we'll be renting for a while before we buy.

Anyway, on to the project. With house showings on the horizon I had my eye out for a twin bed frame. We've had a twin mattress on the floor of my attic sewing room for two years, which doesn't exactly scream class.

A week or so ago I was out thrifting with my MIL (I'll miss our outings so much when we move!) and I came across a cute vintage metal bed frame. It was very dusty and cobwebby, but other than that it was in great shape.

The foot board of said bed.
One afternoon when Noni was sleeping Professor Nonappington and I sanded and washed it down.

 A bucket of water and a paint brush kept him occupied for SO LONG. It was incredible.

Then I dragged everything to my weed patch for many many layers of this blue spray paint (which looks oddly light in this picture.) The paint I used was Krylon ColorMaster from Walmart in Oxford Blue. In my opinion, it should be marketed under the name "TARDIS blue".

It took three cans of spray paint to get it completely and evenly coated, and this is the final result!

Here's the pic of the sewing room that appears in our listing.

 If we were staying in this house, I would have no worries about where to put any more kids we might have. One can easily fit 4 stinky teenagers in that room. It's huge!

The quilt is by my lovely, talented, and very busy grandmother. I love the colors! I hope to put this on Noni's big girl bed in about 6.7 years when she is ready to vacate the portacrib.

It is just too stinkin' cute. I can't even stand it. Can you?

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Going Off

I owe my recovery from severe postpartum depression and anxiety to many different things. Loving care from my family, regular exercise, taking "introvert time", and perusing my passions all played a pivotal role in bringing me back from the brink.

As important as those things were, I absolutely would not be here today if it wasn't for medication. That sounds alarming, but it's true. Looking back on it now, I can see how close I was to tragedy.

That has been very hard for me to admit. For the first six months I was on Zoloft, all I could think about was how to convince my doctor to let me stop taking it. At the time I subscribed to a commonly held misconception that taking antidepressants made me weak, that that taking a pill every day somehow made me less of a person. I've always had an internal drive that makes me want to do things on my own--or not at all.

During my second six months on Zoloft, something changed. I was stable enough to look back on my life up until that point and realize that I hadn't really been living. My depression and anxiety didn't start when Noni was born; it was something I had been suffering from since early adolescence. I was just so accustomed to it that I didn't even realize that being afraid to leave the house, to be a passenger in a car, and to call people on the phone, is not normal. Having an hours-long debriefings with myself after any kind of social interaction to identify everything I did wrong, is not normal.

Zoloft introduced to me the concept of a semi-normal life, and how awesome that can feel. After half a year of blissful normality, I began to question my belief that I could think my way out of mental illness, that I could overcome it if I simply tried hard enough.

When my one-year Zoloftaversary was approaching a few weeks ago (the time at which my psychiatrist said he would feel comfortable letting me wean off my wonder drug) I found that I wasn't sure if I was ready to give it up.

I've heard it said that medication is a crutch. Well, there are lots of kinds of crutches. Sometimes you use a crutch because you have a relatively minor injury and you're too lazy to go to physical therapy.

And sometimes you need a crutch because your left leg has been blown off.

(Ok, I guess one could use a prosthetic in a situation like that, but it ruins my metaphor. Stay with me here.)

I have considerable momentum built up after a year of remission. I have a whole bag of (mostly healthy) coping mechanisms that I know how to use when the going gets tough. I now know to make eating right, exercising, and nurturing my interests a priority. I've discovered how to share my feeeeelings. I've learned to ask for help.

I was worried that it wouldn't be enough. As much as I thought about it, I couldn't tell if I was using my crutch out of convenience or necessity. I guess it's something you can't really know until you throw it aside (Gradually! And under a physician's guidance!) and try to walk.

I made the decision like I do most big decisions. I closed my eyes, held my breath, and jumped. With the caveat that at the first sign of trouble, I will accept the fact that I need help. And that it's totally ok if the help I need is an (FDA-approved, of course) chemical.

My dose is currently half of what it was two weeks ago, and as I suspected it hasn't been an easy transition. Of course I decided to do this during a particularly stressful juncture in our lives (possible employment and housing changes, hooray!) and it's hard to tell if I'm obsessing because I'm without my Vitamin Z or if my life right now would make the most stable person in the world obsess about things they can't control.

Besides the emotional stuff I'm going through a little bit of  physical withdrawal, which is pretty common even when gradually lowering the dose. Oddly, it seems very like my experience getting adjusted to being on Zoloft in the first place, albeit MUCH more mild. But I've got tremors, tingling extremities, ringing in my ears, and "brain zaps", which feel a little like a bolt of lightning ricocheting around inside my skull. Fun. Times. Can't wait until this part is over!

I'm at peace with however this little experiment turns out. If I can be this lovely Normal Eva without it, then great. But if being on Zoloft long-term is what it takes to maintain my mental health, then that is what I'll do. No guilt, no second guessing myself, no self-loathing. Just moving forward.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Accessorizing the Boodwah {Project}

I tend to get a little hyper when I'm stressed out, and ZOMG YOU GUYS, the stress right now. You don't even know. Possible job changes and possible moves hundreds of miles away...stress. Hence all the project posts.

I've been harnessing my seemingly unlimited nervous energy to tackle all the little projects that have been crowded together on my back burner.

It's a three-parter today, folks!

Part I:

I picked up this lovely painting at the St. Vincent de Paul store for one dollah.

But I didn't buy it for the painting. Sorry, Martin Johnson Jr. I took your painting out of the frame and it pretty much disintegrated, so into the trash it went.

The frame had some nice details, which got a thorough scrubbing with some Murphy's Oil Soap and a toothbrush.

Then a few coats of spray paint. 

Same blue as my new lamp!

Then I got a scrap of perforated metal sheeting that was left over from another project and cut it down to size to fit the frame, then glued it in place. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Part II:
 We didn't have a mirror in the master bedroom for the longest time. Then I finally bought an appropriately sized one at a thrift store for $8, but it was kind of ugly and I never got around to hanging it, so it was just leaning against the wall for the last six months or so. No time like the present, Eva!

It got a light sanding by the helpfullest toddler around. 

 Then it too got a few coats of the blue spray paint. I painted the stripe by hand with a 1" foam brush and a paint sample I had in my stash.

Part III:

Lastly I spray painted a scrap of wood I found in the basement and screwed some brass hooks into it and...

Look how organized my jewelry is!

Note the bored toddler reflection in the mirror. She's clearing asking herself why her mother is taking pictures of the wall and also why said mother isn't fetching her some goldfish crackers.

Never again do I have to hunt for a matching pair in the jumble that was my jewelry box.


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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lamp Deconstruction {Project}

I've done a lot of DIY projects in my life, but I've never messed around with lighting. I didn't even realize that an Average Jill like me could work with wires and electricity and stuff.

But the lovely Sheena, the lighting ingenue who blogs over at Bean in Love, made me think that me + lamp repair might not = unmitigated disaster.

There was a beaten-up vintage glass lamp with a nice marble base at the thrift store for many, many weeks in a row. I always feel a little sorry for things like that, and eventually I couldn't stand it any more and paid the $3 adoption fee.

I SWEAR I took an official before picture, but I can't find it anywhere. 

**UPDATE** I finally found the "before" picture. It was in the completely wrong folder.

There's my little diamond in the rough.

The "remember how all the pieces go back together" picture.

Taking it apart was a leaning adventure.I forgot to take step-by-step pictures of the process but there's a very good tutorial here.
I had picked out a nice light blue color of spray paint at Lowe's, but when I got it home I realized that it had a flat finish, which didn't jive with my plan.

So I grabbed the only can of spray paint I had in my stash that had a satin finish and went with it.

All the metal pieces got a few coats of paint, the glass pieces got cleaned, and then I got back to work putting it all back together. Despite the "remember how everything goes back together" picture, I had a very hard time turning it into a functioning lamp again. My spacial reasoning skills aren't tip-top at the moment. Or ever.

Then once I finally got it assembled I decided that I hated the color, no matter how shiny it was, so I took it all apart and repainted the metal pieces with the original color I had chosen.

I added a $5 shade from the Dollar General, and BAM! My first lighting project was complete.

Fancy, no?

All in all I spent $13 on this project. I couldn't be happier with the results!

My masterpieces lives in the guest room now, so if you ever to meet it in person all you have to do is come visit us!

Love that retro plug.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.