Wednesday, February 15, 2017

In Memory of my Grandfather

SSG Michael Linley, WWII
    My grandpa passed away yesterday morning.    I'm 35 years old, and as unbelievable as this may seem, I've never had to say goodbye to a grandparent before. (I never met my maternal grandfather, as he died the year before I was born). My grandpa Mike had been in poor health for a while now, so this wasn't a huge surprise. He was part of "the greatest generation;" born in 1925, one of many siblings in a large Irish-American Catholic family. He lived through the Great Depression. He fought in WWII, as a soldier in General Patton's 3rd Army, at the Battle of the Bulge. He married my grandma Betty in 1952, and they enjoyed over 60 years of marriage. He went on to have a career as a math teacher at the high school in Marinette, WI, and he and my grandma had four children (my dad being the oldest).    I was the first grandchild, and I loved spending time with Grandpa, learning how to cast a reel, hearing (many times 😉) about the time he and some fellow soldiers were on a scouting mission in France, only realizing they had gotten lost and wandered around in a huge circle when they asked a farmer for directions in French, and he responded in German. 
Out on the boat, 1984
Grandpa, my dad and Uncle Tim, late 1950's
Visiting The Domes in Milwaukee with Grandma and Grandpa
  Please join me in saying a prayer for the man who loved his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, his Catholic faith, and his country. Rest in peace, Grandpa. I love you.       

Saturday, January 28, 2017

10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

  Well, it's officially been 2017 for the past 28 days, and I'm making an effort to update the blog at least twice a month. Blog topics are in short supply, due to our cross country PCS, Will starting a new job, Tony switching schools in the new get the idea. Naturally, I searched Pinterest for ideas, and came up with a few blog topic posts to hold me over until I get back in the game. Admittedly, this one isn't very creative, but it was fun to write. So, without further ado...
  1. When I was 3, I was in the living room watching Sesame Street. Itzhak Perlman (a very famous violinist) was a guest on the show. At one point, a little boy ran up on the stage with a violin, and played something that sounded truly hideous. Moments later, Perlman limped up on the stage with his crutches (he had polio as a child), and sat down on a chair. He lifted his bow, and played a beautiful melody on his violin. I was absolutely mesmerized. When Perlman was finished, he turned to the little boy and said, "some things are easy for you and hard for me. Some things are easy for me, and hard for you." I immediately knew I wanted to play the violin, and I begged my parents to let me take lessons. They-understandably-thought I was too young, but after 3 more years of begging, they let me start taking lessons the summer after kindergarten. I eventually joined the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, was a member of chamber ensembles and quartets, and went on to major in music (and English) at Lawrence University. Music has, and always will be, a huge part of my life. 
  2. I used to be a REALLY bad cook. The first time I tried to cook dinner for Will when I was in college, the chicken was so raw I thought it was going to jump off the plate and run away.
  3. I've always had the travel bug. While the Army can annoy me to no end, I will be forever grateful to Uncle Sam for sending us to Europe for 5 years. During our time overseas, we traveled to Belgium, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Spain, Austria, and the Netherlands. 
  4. I inherited my dad's pasty white Irish skin. Put me out in the sun for 30 minutes without sunblock, and I turn into a lobster.
  5. I used to be painfully shy, especially in middle school and high school. I was teased a lot, and the thought of fighting back and standing up for myself terrified me beyond belief. no longer a problem. Lol.
  6. I love reading historical fiction. I'm fascinated by the Renaissance and the Tudor period.
  7. I would love to go back to school, but I have no idea what I want to study. Current career aspirations include certified nurse midwife, pastry chef, biblical scholar, and author. Nope. No indecisiveness here.
  8. While I certainly don't consider myself a doomsday prepper, a survivalist nutjob, or a "the Rapture is coming and we're all doomed!!!!!" (one of the benefits of being Catholic, amiright? 😉), I do believe preparing for a natural disaster, economic collapse, what have you. I have a small stockpile in our pantry, and I add to it monthly. 
  9. I am a snob about children's books. I love reading to my kids, love taking them to the library, and love collecting books. Seriously, we've filled up 2 bookshelves with children's books, and I was thinking about running to the IKEA in Atlanta to buy another bookshelf. Buy ALL the books!
  10. I'm also a major coffee snob. I scoff at your Mr. Coffee machines and Keurigs. If my morning coffee isn't strong enough to make me feel like I can run a marathon (lol for days...I'm not a runner) or hot enough to burn the roof of my mouth, I want nothing to do with it. Give me strong percolated coffee or give me death.
Until next time! Happy weekend, everyone! 
Your daily dose of cuteness.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

12 from 2016

  It's been...quite a year. For me, for my family, for our country. I won't lie, I'm not sad to see 2016 end. I'm looking forward to our new adventures at Fort Benning, a new job for Will, a new school for Tony (though we were thrilled with his parish school in Colorado Springs), and hopefully health changes for me. That being said, I was so excited when I saw that Dwija posted this New Year's linkup on her blog. I know I've been saying this for...ahem, far too long, but one of my goals for 2017 is to update my blog on the regular. Complete with a blog post schedule. But, without further ado, I bring you Team Tenney's 2016 in pictures.












Happy New Years to you and yours. May you be abundantly blessed in 2017!!! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Birth Story of Carmine Michael

Born October 24, 2016
  So, you want to know what this birth was like? Just watch!        The whole month of October, it seemed as though everyone who saw me said, "Wow, this is going to be the one baby of yours that will arrive early, or at least on time! You're carrying SO low!" Naturally, I had a good laugh at their expense, because as I've said many times, my body thinks it's absolutely hilarious to torment me and draw out my pregnancies as long as possible. I had zero (and I mean ZERO) hopes of my last baby arriving anywhere near my due date, which was October 25th. Nonetheless, I secretly hoped that everyone was right. I was in an unbearable amount of pain, due to a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease. Throughout my pregnancy, I had gone to physical therapy twice a week, and had to rely on pain medication to even get out of bed in the morning. It was awful, I felt horribly guilty for taking a narcotic, and I was absolutely terrified for our baby's health. I spent a lot of time in prayer, voiced my fears overandoverandover again to Will and my midwives, and tried to avoid that article that everyone was passing around on Facebook about taking acetaminophen while pregnant.  On Saturday, October 22nd, our good friend Thomas (who was staying with us for awhile) insisted Will and I go out for a date. We didn't fight him too hard on that, since it had been over a year and a half since our last night out, and we didn't even get to spend our 10-year anniversary together. Thomas stayed with Tony, Alessandra and Gianna while Will and I had a delicious dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse in Denver. At one point during dinner, I stood up to go to the restroom, and a particularly strong contraction had me doubling over at the table. Will came around to help me, and graciously pointed out that I was "making every single man in the restaurant incredibly nervous." Thanks, babe! On the drive home, my back started spasming. I don't know why, or what happened, but I was trying not to cry, trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable in the passenger seat, and wishing I could just go into labor already, since we had to pass the hospital on our way back to the house. Clearly, that wasn't in the cards, but the back pain had only grown stronger by Sunday morning. I was unable to sleep all night, since even changing positions in our bed was excruciating. Will was becoming increasingly concerned, so he called the on-call number for my midwives, and spoke to Tara. She told Will to bring me in to the hospital to get monitored, in case the pain was pregnancy related. Will brought me in, baby and I were monitored, and Tara came in to speak to me. She said that fortunately, baby was doing just fine, but my back had reached the critical point, and she didn't really see the benefit of me remaining pregnant any longer than necessary. She asked me how I felt about being induced the following day...and to my surprise, I agreed.      I had been induced once before, during my first pregnancy with Tony. It was an extremely long, unpleasant experience, and I swore I would never put myself through that again unless it was absolutely necessary. However, both Tara and Megan assured me that since this was my fourth pregnancy, my body would respond much differently to an induction, they would use Cytotec instead of Pitocin, I would be free to labor in any position I wanted with a hep lock, rather than an IV, etc. I wasn't 100% crazy about the idea, but I had to admit that going through another week or two of pregnancy wouldn't be good for me. Tara stripped my membranes (both of us were hoping that a membrane strip alone would spur me into labor, like it did with Alessandra and Gianna), and sent me home with instructions to return at 6:30 the following morning. Will brought me home, I packed my hospital bag with last-minute essentials, gave my doula a heads-up, and went to bed on the early side.      The next morning, I ate a light breakfast, and Will took me to the hospital. I sent him back home so he could get Tony off to school, and brief Thomas on the girls' morning routine, and he promised to come back as soon as possible. I got myself checked in, got settled in the labor and delivery room, and cursed my miserable, crappy disappearing veins, as it took the nurses FOUR TRIES to get an IV in. Megan was on-call that day, and she came into the room to place the Cytotec, and rub an awesome essential oil mixture on my lower back to help with the pain. She told me I would need to be on the IV and fetal monitor for an hour while the Cytotec kicked in, but then I was free to get in the tub, use the birth ball, birth stool, whatever I wanted. That first hour was completely chill; I texted family members, went on Facebook and Instagram, and played Candy Crush (don't judge me). However, after about 30 minutes, I could feel some pretty intense contractions. I called Will and Madison (my doula) and told them things were picking up pretty quickly, and the sooner they could get there, the better.      At 9am, I paged a nurse and asked if I could have the monitor and the IV removed. It had been an hour, and I desperately felt like I needed to get off the bed and MOVE, so she agreed. Sweet, sweet relief. The contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, and 30 seconds long, and I suspected it wouldn't be too long before I was in transition. I just walked around the room, moaning and breathing my way through the contractions, and doing the belly dance moves I learned in our Hypnobirthing class, way back when I was pregnant with Tony. Will ran into the room about 20 minutes later, and I was already starting to feel like I was in "the zone." I was sitting on the birth ball, rocking back and forth, not really paying attention to anything around me. Will started doing the light touch massage on my neck, shoulders and back, and it was so calming and relaxing. Madi came in a few minutes later, and at that point I said I wanted to get in the tub. Will got the tub ready for me, and Madi got me settled. I was really hoping that the water would provide a lot of pain relief for me (I knew I couldn't have another water birth, like I did with Alessandra, but I was desperately hoping for the "aquadural" effect). Will adjusted the water temp for me, while Madi poured cups of warm water over my belly, but I just couldn't get comfortable. The contractions were getting stronger and stronger, and coming closer together, and I was starting to get upset. Madi suggested I get on my hands and knees in the tub, and I did while she applied counter pressure to my back. That didn't help me too much, either, and I said, "I just need to get out, I need to get out of this tub! I need Megan!" Madi helped me out of the tub while Will called for the nurse, and asked if Megan could come to the room. She arrived a few minutes later, to find me moaning and swaying once again on the birth ball. She asked if I wanted to try the injections of sterile water in my back to deaden the nerves and help with the pain, and I said yes (she's one of the few midwives who is trained in this practice, and even though I wasn't experiencing back labor this time, my back pain was once again giving me trouble). Megan told me it was going to hurt, and I should brace myself against Will...holy cow. She wasn't kidding. Had I known how MUCH those injections were going to hurt, I probably wouldn't have asked for them. I actually started screaming when she injected the needle into my back, and when she was done, I started to cry and said, "I can't do this anymore! I can't do this!"      Megan, Will and Madi immediately recognized that I was in transition (or as I call it, the laboring mama's battle cry), and Megan asked me to get on the bed so she could check me. She said I was almost at 8cm, and it wouldn't be much longer. I no longer felt like I had control over my body, and I kept saying, "I can't do this anymore, I can't, I need help." Madi reminded me that I WAS doing it, and women all over the world had been giving birth like this since the beginning of time, and if they could do it, so could I. By then, I had reached the point in my labor that every woman faces; it hurts too much to push, but not pushing and dealing with the one-on-top-of-the-other contractions hurts just as much. I couldn't talk anymore, all I could do was focus on the pain, squeeze Will's hand, and bear down. I have a vague memory of Will shooting a frantic glance at the nurse, and saying, "that's the sound she makes when she's pushing..." (apparently after three children, I've developed somewhat of a predictable pattern), and then I felt this unbearable pressure. I pushed as hard as I could, and literally felt an explosion. Will and Madi looked at each other in complete shock (that explosion? It was my bag of waters, bursting all over the bed and the floor), and once again, I felt the need to bear down. I pushed as hard as I could, saw Megan lunge towards me on the bed, heard Will say "Oh my God!!!"...and then this precious gift was placed in my arms. 
I don't even care that I look like I've been run over by a Mack truck
    Since Will and I choose not to find out the sex of our babies during my pregnancies, it's always the most exciting thing in the world when Will makes the announcement after birth. When he said, "It's a boy!!" I just burst into tears. And laughter, because-brace yourselves, everyone-I was wrong again. Only this time, Will was wrong with me. Both of us were convinced I was having a girl, and I almost didn't pack boy going home clothes in my hospital bag, because I was so sure I didn't need them. But we were so, so happy...two boys and two girls. Tony was so excited at the thought of having a baby brother, and Will and I couldn't have been more thrilled to have two of each. I just held him in my arms, trying to catch my breath after what was surely the fastest labor ever, and he laid there quietly, sucking his fist and basking in those beautiful skin-to-skin moments after birth. I was just in awe of our perfect baby boy, our little Carmine Michael (named after my great-great nonno and my father), kissing him over and over. 
Tiniest baby yet; 7lbs, 15oz, 20 inches
Alessandra and Gianna meeting their baby brother
Shocker-another hairy baby!
    I'm still kind of reeling from the whole experience, and so humbled and grateful that God has blessed us with yet another healthy, beautiful baby (not to mention the easiest labor in the world!). I broke down in tears when the hospital's lactation consultant came to see Carmine and I, and she spoke to me (in a completely non-judgmental way) about the meds I had to take during pregnancy. All the stress, all the anxiety, and all the guilt I had felt for the last nine months just came pouring out of me, and I sat on the hospital bed and sobbed. She hugged me, told me to put all of that behind me, and she commented on the medallion I always wear, the one of Our Lady of Guadalupe that my parents gave me on my 31st birthday. She told me that she's a Catholic as well, and she asked if she could pray with me. I said of course, and after praying together, talking about the meds I was on, how breastfeeding was going so far, I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off of me. Carmine wasn't experiencing any kind of withdrawal, he had an excellent latch, and my milk came in later that evening. We ended up staying in the hospital for an extra day so he could be monitored, and I was more than ready to go home by the third day. Tony and Alessandra were absolutely enamored with baby Carmine, and Gianna was suspicious at first-not to mention very unhappy with me!-but she slowly but surely got used to having a baby around the house, and now she gives Carmine pets and kisses whenever she sees him.      Being a mother of four has definitely had its challenges so far, but every time I hold Carmine close, kiss his face, snuggle with him after a feeding...I can't get over the wonder of it all. Even though he was unexpected and unplanned, we know without a doubt this sweet little boy was meant to be here, and we couldn't be more honored to be his parents. We love you with all our hearts, Carmine Michael. Welcome to the world. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lean Mean Budget Queen, Part II

  A few years ago, when we were a family of four, I wrote THIS blog post. I wrote it mainly out of a desire to help a few of my friends, who had privately approached me about financial concerns and wanted advice on budgeting as a single income family (more on that in a minute). It wasn't written in response to anything in particular, but out of a sincere desire to give hope to some of my friends who found themselves struggling with debt, budgeting, and financial stress. I certainly don't hold myself up as any kind of financial guru, and I'm sure there are several experts out there who would cringe at our lifestyle and financial choices. However, even as a child (my parents can attest to this), I've always been somewhat financially savvy and budget-conscious, and my attitude of "if I can't afford it, I can't buy it" has admittedly served me well in my adult years.

  Although my previous post wasn't necessarily written in response to any particular critique, I'll go ahead and admit that this post is. Specifically, critiques of military wives. For those of you who are married to someone in the service, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Simply Google "military spouses" or "military dependents" and let the fun begin. Didn't you know we're all about a bunch of fat, lazy, uneducated leeches who let our children run wild all over housing, while we sit on the couch, stuffing our faces full of Doritos and watching reality TV all day? And let's not forget that we spend our husband's (!!!!) entire paycheck on a Michael Kors purse and wallet set at the PX first chance we get. Our homes are disasters, our children are feral, we neglected our appearances long ago, we're always broke and trying to find ways to hang on until next payday, and we have at least one repo under our belts. After all, we aren't referred to as a "dependapotamus" for nothing.

  In case you're wondering, no, I'm not exaggerating. These are the stereotypes military spouses (mainly wives) have to deal with on a daily basis. We hear it from soldiers, government employees, and surprisingly (or not surprisingly, depending on how you look at it) other wives. It's disgusting, it VERY RARELY paints an accurate picture of military spouses, but the stereotype simply won't die. As if that weren't bad enough, I see posts on social media all the time scorning one-income families, insinuating that women who stay at home are a drain on their family's finances, and a major source of stress to our husbands. Now, I'm not here to defend my decision to be a stay at home mother. As far as I'm concerned, that's between my husband and I, and if someone has a problem with that, they can go kick rocks. Nor am I here to slam working mothers, because I don't think there's anything TO slam. Some women couldn't imagine being out of the workforce for years, and giving up their careers. I get that. If I hadn't gotten married shortly after graduating college, and had a career of my own (rather than jobs wherever we were stationed), I'm sure I would have a hard time giving up my career, too. I also completely understand that many women may not want to work, but they have to, either for insurance or financial reasons (or both). Again, I completely understand, and I'm not setting out to make anyone feel like they have to justify their choice.

  What I DO intend to do is squash the notion that one-income families are drowning in debt, or barely hanging on by a thread while our husbands (because let's be honest, most of the time if there's a stay at home parent, it's the mother) work themselves to the bone. Without getting too personal-in other words, I won't be posting our monthly salary-I'll show that we not only survive, but thrive on one income. We're not wanting for anything. Our kids do not go without. We may not have the latest and greatest technological toys, but that was never anything that was important to Will and I, even when we were DINKS. So, let's get the details out of the way right now. 

  We do not have any credit card debt. None at all. Nor do we have any kind of store credit debt. We paid off our student loans years ago (Will had a relatively small loan of $2500, and mine was over $16, 000). Seeing as how the Army chooses to move us every two years, we never bought a home, as that wouldn't make a whole lot of financial sense for us. So, we don't have a mortgage. What we do have, slightly to my dismay, is two car loans. This is fairly recent; as of last Saturday, we have a new (to us; it's a CPO) minivan. That wasn't technically in financial plans, but neither was a fourth child fourteen months after I delivered the last one. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. But in any case, for the first time in our lives, we have two car loans. I'll admit I'm slightly uncomfortable with this, and I've been going over our budget with a fine-tooth comb, and making plans to pay off our SUV within the next year. But in the grand scheme of's not the end of the world. We sleep easy at night knowing that we're in a position where we can afford two car payments at once, and both of us drive safe, reliable vehicles that won't die on us next month. But the question can we afford this type of luxury on one income? 

  The first step for Will and I was learning to distinguish between "need" versus "want." When we were living overseas and both of us were working full-time, we got in the habit of going out to dinner and bars with our friends at least once a week, going on fabulous European vacations, dropping $200 on a whim to stock up our wine rack, and generally just buying whatever we wanted, when we wanted. Now, we still managed to contribute a good amount of money to our retirement and savings accounts during that time, so I'm hesitant to refer to that period in our lives as "irresponsible." But things definitely changed when I got pregnant and we moved back to the States, and we worked very hard over the years to change the spending habits that had become familiar to us. What were the most significant changes we made to our lifestyle? 

  1. Budget, budget, budget. 

  Sounds incredibly simple, doesn't it? You would be surprised at how many people I know who cringe at the thought of putting down their income and expenses on paper. Why, I'm really not sure. Perhaps they see it as restrictive? It's really not; if anything, it's freeing. You know exactly where your money is going every pay period, where you can cut back, how much you have left over to add to the "fun money" category, etc. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to money saving tips, and I saved quite a few pins with free budget printables that I use every month. Give it a try!

2. Meal plan

  We rarely eat out anymore. Firstly, I don't particularly enjoy dining out with small children. I'm not going to bring my "age six and under" crew to a fancy restaurant, so on the rare occasions when we DO bring them out to eat, it's at a kid-friendly restaurant. The food is rarely anything to write home about, and we're lucky if our kids take more than three bites out of their $8 meals. If we're going to spend money on dining out, Will and I want to go to a quiet, slightly upscale restaurant that both of us would enjoy, and not have to worry about our kids crushing soda crackers on the floor. So yes, we eat the majority of our meals at home. I'm fortunate in that I enjoy cooking, my family likes my cooking, and I have perfected the art of making enough food the night before so Will can bring leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Cooking at home is cheaper, healthier, and in my humble opinion, tastier than most of the food you would buy at a restaurant. Which leads me to my next piece of advice...

3. Make meals from scratch

  A rule that I adopted over the past few years is, "if I can make it myself, I can't buy it at the store." You would think this would be complicated and time consuming, but it really isn't. I never purchase the following things from grocery stores anymore (some of which I never did in the first place):
Marinara sauce (or "gravy," depending on where you live).
Any kind of bread. I make it all; sandwich bread, garlic bread, rolls, etc. 
Broth. Broth is ridiculously easy to make, and the homemade versions are so.much.better than their store-bought counterparts.
Desserts. If I'm craving cookies, pies, cupcakes, what have you, I have to make them myself. This is a practical deterrent if I'm craving sugar but don't want to put forth the effort to make it myself. The exception I have to this rule is Italian pastries. I'm not going to spend hours perfecting the art of cannoli shells. 
Salad dressing. Not only is it ridiculously easy to make, but I loathe store bought dressing. It's chock full of preservatives and nasty ingredients, and the homemade versions are SO much healthier. I honestly can't remember the last time I bought salad dressing from the store. 

4. The best things in life are free

  Well, maybe not everything, but with little kids? They don't need to spend every weekend at a museum where tickets are thirty bucks a pop, or amusement parks, or take part in every single enrichment activity. Are those things fun to do every once in a while? Absolutely! But trust me, it's very easy to entertain small children for free, or at least for a very low price. We spend a lot of time at libraries, parks, splash pads in the summer, play dates with friends, or even something out of the ordinary at home. You'd be amazed at how giddy my kids get over "movie Friday," when I allow them to choose a kids movie on Netflix and microwave a bowl of popcorn for them. If it's a deviation from our normal routine, they see it as the coolest thing ever. I'm not saying that children aren't expensive (hello, we already have one in Catholic school!), but you don't need to break the bank to provide them with fun, educational, and social opportunities. 

5. Need vs. Want

  As I mentioned before, this will be one of the biggest changes you may have to make, but it's also the one where you will see the fastest results. Will and I have taken a good, long look at our expenses over the past few years, and we made some pretty significant changes to our lifestyle. We decided that paying upwards of $150/month for cable was ridiculous (especially considering there were only a few channels we watched regularly), so we cut cable, switched to a basic but reliable internet package, and stuck with Netflix and Amazon Prime for entertainment. If there's a book we want to read, we check it out from the library, instead of purchasing it immediately from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. We don't go crazy during the holidays, and we don't do over-the-top birthdays for our kids (and please believe me when I say, our children aren't missing out. There are many ways to make the holidays and birthdays special without dropping hundreds-or thousands-of dollars. Again, Pinterest to the rescue!!). Also, and most importantly, we cut out impulse buying. Every pay period, after writing out our bi-monthly budget and paying bills, I designate "fun money" for both Will and I. We can use it however we want, but when it's gone, it's gone. 

  It's taken us a while to get used to a budget-conscious way of life, but it's more freeing than I ever thought it would be. Because we put a good chunk of money into our savings account every month, we don't freak out when the unexpected happens. (And trust me, it will. Just as soon as you think you're getting your financial act together, your washer/dryer set will break down. Or you'll need a major car repair. Or your water heater will blow. Or *cough cough* you'll face an unexpected pregnancy. Can you say "Murphy's Law?"). I'm glad that we can teach our children that "frugal" isn't a bad word, and they will grow up in a home that doesn't embrace our country's throw-away culture. If our kids choose not to take care of their things, they don't get replaced. It's as simple as that. 

  I can't stress this enough; this post isn't meant to start a debate between the working parent vs the stay at home parent, or to parade the choices we've made as the superior option. We've made our mistakes, just like everyone else on the planet, and some were easier to overcome than others. What I do hope to show is that living on a single income isn't impossible, or unattainable, if that's what you feel would work best for your family. I'm always happy to answer any budget questions you may have, even if they're somewhat personal. :) 
                  A typical Tenney Christmas. Chaos with a lot of love. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

All Kinds of Random

  This is officially a post about everything and nothing. It was kind of getting to the point where I had a ridiculous amount of blog ideas swimming around in my head, but rather than actually, you know, sit down and write, I let them gather in the far recesses of my mind and stay there. And I haven't updated my blog in a month, so, yeah. I'm attempting to banish "Lame Marisa" to the corner for now, and bring "Somewhat Together Marisa" back for the time being. Think of this post as another 7 Quick Takes, only more than 7 bullet points, no link up, and no real purpose. I'll get back to writing real posts next week, I promise. 

1. So, first and foremost, I have a kindergartner. An adorable kindergartner in the most adorable school uniform EVER (and I take back everything disparaging I ever said about uniforms as a small child. Uniforms are my jam. No fights over school or weather appropriate clothes in the morning. Easy laundry. I'm totally sold). 
  I didn't get emotional on the first day...maybe I'm just not that sentimental of a parent, or maybe I just knew how good kindergarten was going to be for Tony. He was definitely ready for the next step (and not gonna lie, I was too. Something about the end of summer makes my children act like raging lunatics, and I for one was thrilled to have a bit of order and routine in our lives once again). Tony is happy and excited to leave for school every morning, and he's always in a good mood when I pick him up every day. Plus, his teacher has already won me over, after sending this home with the children on their first day. 
  I That's a special person right there. 

2. I am very big, very pregnant, very slow moving. I'll be 32 weeks tomorrow and I'm This little stinker whom I'm gestating is currently transverse (sort of...head on the right, leg in the crotch, another leg to my left), and posterior. Really, little one? I'm seeing a chiropractor trained in the Webster technique in hopes of flipping this baby before resorting to an ECV or major abdominal surgery, doing a ton of exercises from the Spinning Babies website (which, to be honest, never really seemed to work for me), rubbing peppermint essential oil on my belly every night, and praying. I would really prefer to avoid a c-section, since I can't imagine trying to recover from a surgery like that with four little kids and a husband with a demanding military job, not to mention I'm worried that it could cause extra issues with my already excruciating back pain. So, prayers are welcome and much appreciated. 

3. In other pregnancy news, Will said it looks like I have a marijuana leaf on my belly. Well, we DO live in Colorado. Thanks, honey! Love you too! 
Yep. Right above my belly button. If that isn't a reason to avoid piercing your belly button at the age of 19, I don't know what is. 

4. Despite the fact that I have a blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts, I kind of suck at using social media to my advantage. The other day, I saw that one of my favorite bloggers opened up a Q&A on her Instagram account, with plans to answer all questions later that day on her blog. I thought, "hey, that sounds like a great idea." I have a lot of friends I've made online over the years, through blogging, mom groups, what have you, and I love learning more about them. I thought a Q&A on my own blog would be a great idea, so I posted the same concept to both my Instagram and Facebook accounts. No one bit! I was a little bummed out, until I remembered I posted the picture/idea at 4:30am. Reality check, Marisa. Normal people do not browse social media in the wee hours of the morning whilst battling pregnancy insomnia, back pain, and a teething baby. Duly noted. So. Anyone up for a Q&A? Any questions for me, regarding our family, military life, religion, education, social media, budgeting? Ask away in the comments section, and I'll see about getting a post up relatively soon. As in, not a month from now. Promise.

5. Despite feeling run-down and just generally exhausted yesterday, Will and I rounded up the crew and made a very necessary Costco run, only to return home and realize we forgot to purchase toilet paper, personal wipes, soap, Popsicles, and frozen chicken breasts. In other words, pretty much everything that makes sense for us to buy at a big warehouse store. I'm blaming pregnancy brain. I can only use that excuse for another eight weeks or so, and damn it I'm going to make the most of it. 

6. We've been doing pretty well sticking to a healthy Mediterranean diet for the past month or so (more on that in another blog post), and when I brought up the idea of a Greek chicken skillet with cherry tomatoes, chopped spinach, red onion, garlic, and feta cheese with Greek seasoned potatoes served on the side, Will said, "hey! Fried chicken sounds like a great idea for dinner! It's in my head and I can't get it out. I'm going to the store for buttermilk!" Well, I suppose exceptions have to be made and all that. 

7. Confession: I never really had "proper" fried chicken until I started dating a Southern guy. We never had it growing up. Ever. My mom made roast chicken frequently, and I loved it, and it never occurred to me to try anything else. My Louisiana husband grew up on it, and he introduced me to the deliciousness that is Popeye's Chicken (something I've never seen in my home state of Wisconsin). I usually have a craving for it once a year, much to Will's chagrin. As he put it today, "I can eat myself sick on fried chicken." 

  Okay, technically I lied. I'm ending this post after seven blurbs, because Gianna is feverish, teething and miserable, it's 2:45pm and I'm still in my pajamas, and I have a sinking suspicion that Will is blowing up my kitchen in an attempt to prepare fried chicken for tonight's dinner. I'll be back later this week with a post on one of the following topics (please cast your vote if there's something you really want to read):

Our family's health and the Mediterranean diet
Pregnancy update, or What I'm Stressing About This Month
How I Put My Pride Aside and Learned to Accept Help

Friday, July 22, 2016


1. So, an almost two month blogging break isn't bad by my standards, right? I have a bunch of posts (in my head, naturally) that I'm planning on writing, including but not limited to the start of the school year, budgeting, the Mediterranean diet and how our family eats, and for a brief moment I considered touching on politics, but nah. That would just make me ragey, and put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day, and give everyone else a headache. So I'm going to veto that plan for now (see what I did there?). Rather than write an actual blog post, I'll just share some pictures and brief accounts of our recent trip to the glorious Midwest this past month and a half. Beginning with..

Gianna's first haircut, by Miss Benay (who cut my hair as a baby, and my brother's hair, and Tony's hair...what can I say. An Italian woman's dedication to a hairdresser is a powerful thing). As you can see, Gianna was unimpressed by the whole experience. 

Playtime with Uncle Mark on our first Saturday morning back in Wisconsin. I'm pretty sure I've scared my little brother away from parenthood, at least for the time being. Sorry, Mark!

4. There was a lot of this:
First time in the neighbor's pool. She loved it. ❤️ 
And this:
If there was ever a picture that captured Alessandra's personality...

4. Some quality time at the Jelly Belly factory with my bestie and two older children:
Tony: "I shall dominate the world! With or without my shoes on the correct feet!" 

5. Merry-go-rounds in the village.
"My horse is SO much better than yours."
"Nuh uh!" 

6. Meeting cousin Hugo for the first time (he and Gianna were born 10 days apart!):

7. Aaaaannnnnnd returning home, to immediately get back in the groove of trashing the house.
It's a talent, really.

Will is still on leave for another glorious week, so I'm enjoying a whole lot of lazing around, organizing things for our upcoming move in January (Lord Jesus don't get me started on this foolishness), and thinking about baking. And blogging. And cleaning. Maybe one of these days, I'll follow through.

Happy weekend!