About Me,  Family Life,  Parenting,  pregnancy

Life lately: the state of the crew

I don’t share a ton of pictures of the kids on the blog anymore, both because they’ve gotten older and the internet has gotten weirder, but it can feel a little heavy around here sometimes, like I’m only sharing a small sliver of my life, when it reality it’s mostly toasting frozen waffles for these goobers and buying a hundred dollars worth of diapers/pullups/wipes a month. (Don’t @ me about cloth diapers. There isn’t enough tequila and Tide in the whole world. You’ll get nothing but a maniacal cackle.)

Joey, the intrepid eldest child, consummate sanguine, and dyed-in-the-wool extrovert (translation: where the beep did he come from?) turned 7 at the end of last month, and about 6 weeks out from the big day something super crazy happened: he started acting sort of reasonable. Like, obeying right away, showing true contrition for his transgressions, and just generally being awesome, funny, and helpful. He’s always been the first two but rarely the latter, so it’s been a nice surprise coming into the home stretch with bebe number 5. Like maybe I can holler for diapers and ask him to empty the dishwasher while I’m baby-bound on the couch come January.

He asked for – and received – an entire coterie of Nerf guns for his birthday, which he is almost as delighted with as two-year-old Luke is. Joey prefers to fire the darts while Luke enjoys biting off the suction-cup tops and spitting them into the carpet. Joey has taken to sleeping with his entire stockpile in his top bunk, so traumatized is he from the 40% loss of his brand new darts. (Luke is part puppy, btw.)

Now in first grade, Joey’s interests include kickball, football, basketball, soccer, comic books and, oddly enough, poetry. #oneofthesethingsisnotliketheother. Classical education for the win. His teacher this year is like a prettier and more spiritually balanced real life Miss Frizzle from the Magic Schoolbus, so he actually loves going to school in the morning, which is a small-m miracle for our pint sized party animal.

Next up in the line up is John Paul. At just 19 months younger but completely opposite on the personality inventory spectrum, JP is deeply melancholic, thoughtful, smart as hell and in possession of un uncannily deadpan delivery for a 5-year-old. He asks really weird and fascinating questions about the origin of time, recalls memories from his first and second year of life, and just generally cracks us up with being a consummate old man with a zest for art and the written word. In his spare time he enjoys full-contact wrestling, reciting poetry (again, winning with the classical schooling), riding his two wheeler (self taught and proud) and building Legos for hours. He is our snuggliest kid and demands a hearty dose of physical touch each day to keep his universe in balance. He’s also my only introvert (as yet identified) and so while I totally “get” him in a way I don’t always get the other three, he also has a knack for making me nuts. I frequently escort him into a quiet room with a stack of books and invite him to take a mental health break, and he’s catching on that it’s actually really effective. Takes one to know one, buddy.

He says he’s maybe going to be a priest when he grows up, and while he certainly has a natural piety to his nature, we’re careful not to put too much stock in it since his daddy is of a similar temperament and had loads of well-meaning adults over the years tell him what his vocation was. They were incorrect, as I can personally attest to. A religious vocation is a beautiful thing, and we pray for all our children to be open to that if God calls them (and make a point to expose them to the tons of awesome priests and religious in our social circle), but we’re careful not to push it or make any kind of prediction based on natural tendencies and personalities alone. Because super sporty sanguines make great priests, too. And the world also needs thoughtful, prayerful husbands.

Evie. Where do I even begin? All throughout this current pregnancy people have asked, upon finding out that we haven’t found out the sex, “have you ever found out?” to which I answer: once. And it was with her. And boy, was I glad to have the 5 month’s heads up on the extra estrogen joining our crew. She is a spicy meatball, this little pseudo-Italian. She can scream and gesticulate wildly with the best of the little signoras in the marketplace, and putting her to bed is a nuclear exercise in patience and precision. Don’t miss a single step or she’ll be at your bedside at 1 am, having been awakened by her searing sense of justice confirming that yes, you did in fact skimp her on 3 minutes of “tickles” and additionally, you poorly swaddled her stuffed calico cat and will now be forced to re-roll her in the dead of night by the bleary light of your alarm clock.

She is passionate, wildly imaginative, LOUD, and very, very cute. She runs this town, and I guess it couldn’t be any other way, because with 3 brothers she has to assert herself from the pack. She is intensely physical, whip smart, and really great at putting on a dramatic waterworks show at preschool drop off (and then turning on a dime, batting her still-wet lashes at her teacher, and happily asking what’s up first on the agenda for the day. As I have observed from creeping around the corner of the hallway and listening in. Dangerous little minx, that one.) She has what the big boys call her “Irish accent” which makes zero sense because it sounds nothing like a brogue, but she does have a really unique pronunciation pattern and a hilariously high pitched voice. Especially entertaining when she’s mad as hell, which is often. #shehashermamastemper

Just a Basic preschooler

Her current passions include riding her “Plasmer cawr” (there’s the accent) weaving elaborate spoken-word stories about the adventures of her “babies” (a menagerie of stuffed cats in varying hues and sizes), watching Moana, singing Moana, demanding Moana undies from the laundry pile (and none else will do) and fighting me like a wet cat when it’s time for a shampoo. She has turned suddenly and adorably maternal as of about 2 months ago, and can be found dragging around her litter of 6 and tucking them into her shirt (her “Ergo”), swaddling them in muslin blankets, changing their diapers, perching them on fake potties, and building them elaborate “cwibs” to sleep in. She saw me carrying our loaned-out Rock N Play into the house the other night after a friend had returned it and she intercepted me en route to the basement and pointed, announcing loudly “I want that.” It’s now set up at her bedside and filled with her babies, which she tucks in beside her with exacting precision and rocks intermittently throughout the night. (I may be recruiting her in about 13 weeks if she’s all that gung-ho about it.)

Living his best life

Last but not least, there’s Luke. Luke the duke. Luke the loud. He turned two at the end of August, but he talks at a rapid-fire clip like a 6-year-old. His vocabulary is out of this world, I guess because he’s never had a day of silence – either in the womb or outside of it – in his short life. He doesn’t like wearing pants but he does like “spicy water” (Mommy’s precious La Croix collection) and he will steal and consume an unattended can quicker than you can sneak away for a bathroom break. He is very, very physical and enjoys “flying” off any piece of furniture he can scale. Fingers crossed, but no ER visits to date.

His interests include food (33 whopping pounds, which is 2 more than nearly-four-year-old Genevieve), hugging, screaming in outrage if a sibling dares cross him, yelling in Mass, yelling in the car, peeing on the potty, fruit snacks, and Wild Kratts. He’s a real Renaissance Man. He’s also wicked fast on a plasma car and super coordinated athletically. He shocks strangers in Costco by chatting them up and then revealing his tender age after the fact. He is terrible to take to church and absolutely delightful to parent. Luke can translate to “light bearer” or “light bringer” and that is exactly what this little man is.

He is built like a penguin, so part of his disdain for clothing on his lower half might be because nothing but sweatpants fits him. When he’s not busy emulating Regina George he spends a lot of his day biting off the tops of those aforementioned Nerf darts, seeking and destroying Lego creations, raiding the fridge, and ripping my shirt up to “kiss my baby, mommy.” He’s going to be a great big brother.

And that leaves just leaves…Pia. Our petite little calico, adopted a year ago this month from a family in our parish. She’s the most dog-like cat who has ever lived and is utterly adapted to life in a big family. Last night one of the kids was pushing her around in a toy shopping car and she acquiesced. We joke that she’s either the most good-natured feline on earth or lacks any sense of a survival instinct. We let her keep her claws to give her a fighting chance against the kids, but really they’re all very sweet with her and she is very sweet back. She sneaks food from under the table, uses her little box fastidiously, and snuggles in onto the top bunk for a nice long nap at night.

We’ve recently started letting her explore outdoors in our new, very sleepy neighborhood and she is thrilled to have her run of the yards. My neighbor texted me a picture of her kids playing with her last week, happily they don’t mind having an occasional visitor. I was a little mortified when she let herself into their house last Saturday morning, however, which further confirms my suspicion of a limited survival instinct. And don’t worry, we bring her in before dusk to avoid coyotes, and her shots are up to date. I know she’d live longer as an indoor cat, but she’s depressed as hell when we keep her indoors, so it’s a quality over quantity situation. Plus, there are a few feline friends who prowl the hood alongside her, so it seems a relatively cat safe area.

And then there’s this little peep. I’m 27 weeks and some change, so conceivably (lol) he/she could come as soon as ten weeks from now. I tend to go early, anywhere from 37 to 38.5 weeks, but watch this bebe hang stubbornly out until January. I’m starting to slow down a bit but still sleeping great, I have no idea how much weight I’ve gained because I haven’t looked at the scale since week 7 (moral victory here), and I’m doing my best to build a cold weather maternity wardrobe out of 3 pairs of jeans and a handful of tops, vests, and cardigans. I hate maternity dresses/skirts, and they hate me back, whether because of my short torso or 5 foot 4 frame. I look like a tootsie pop if I don’t wear pretty much all black, form-fitting tops and skinny pants with an elongating layer up top, so old navy $15 vests are my bff rn.


So there you have it folks, in a long-winded nutshell: our life at the moment. I can’t wait to see who this newest little person is, and how they’ll impact the dynamic upon their arrival.  For now I’m relying on a whole lotta PBS kids, pb&j’s, and thanking the Lord for the still-temperate afternoons that mean we (they) can play outside until dinner.


  • Virginia Bonnett

    My oldest declared carbonated water Spicy Water at age two and we have called it that ever since! (That was 13 years ago… isn’t that crazy?!)
    I rarely comment, but the term spicy water needs affirming. 😉

    • Jenny Uebbing

      yaaaaaas, spicy water! Ours declared it thus while we were living in Italy and drinking lots of acqua frizzante 🙂 it’s a pretty accurate label

  • Lorna

    Yup – even across the pond my little one calls it spicy water! (I didn’t know what la croix was though)
    No bubbles for him!!

  • Amanda

    I also have a 29 lb almost 4 year old, but my newly two year old juuuuust cracked 20 lb. (we’re on the same baby schedule. 33 weeks tomorrow!)

    You can very very clearly read your phone number on that adorable kitty’s tag, if that’s a problem for you.

  • Kathleen

    I love that spicy water is a normal phrase for toddlers… I thought it was just my Linus! And can I just say the toddler talking is my favorite thing in the universe… He’s at that stage where everything that comes out of his mouth is really cute… Even his emphatic “no”! Prayers to you Jenny as you enter the 3rd trimester and as I like to say “ slowly slouch toward Bethlehem!”

  • jeanette

    Thanks for sharing about your children. The uniqueness of each child is so awe inspiring, isn’t it? Parenting is about one of the most well-positioned relationships for seeing those unique qualities, too. We are blessed.

    As for spicy water, I never heard of it, but our daughter referred to soda as “the burning stuff”… probably because anything referred to as spicy was a label meaning, “I don’t want to eat this, and since I called it “spicy”, I don’t need to eat it!” She would call pork meat “piglet” for some unknown reason. The first time we took her to a Chinese restaurant (she was around 2 1/2 or so) and ordered Mu Shu Pork, she puzzled over the nature of the pancakes that are used for it and inquired,”Do we eat the napkins?” (and it was hard not to laugh). Language acquisition is a human marvel, and watching our kids develop their understanding of how to describe the world around them is another very privileged observational place we hold in their life. All of these areas of development make parenting full of surprises and unexpected moments in the most ordinary parts of daily life.

    Treasure these days as they keep unfolding through time.

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