5 months ago

OBX 2017 (Svell Vacay #2) 

Just a few pics, a few too many words.

  Vacation this year was a funny trade off. First, we went to OBX.  Last year was PCB. We found a rental that had not yet been built and was literally finished the week before we arrived- so $ wise it was good. 

But man, if I had to be a privileged white girl and complain about my vacation right off the bat and send my readers to the X tab while rolling their eyes,  I’d whine about the unfriendly and chilly Atlantic waters.  We hardly spent any time on the beach because it just wasn’t enjoyable.  Windy, chilly, unsafe for small kids. The whole family concurs that Gulf of Mexico is where the party at. BUT! I won’t complain. It was vacation, and we spent an entire week with people we love, in a really nice house, eating DONUTS and ACAI BOWLS.

Only Carolyn-when-pregnant would ever consider the Maple Bacon donut, and consider it she did, the entire thing.

This year was much better as far as Emmett and Collin being older.  There were no pee-in-the-car-in-a-cup events. Emmett was officially potty efficient by September of last year, AND he’s warmed up to using public restrooms, AND he thinks doing a “standing pee” is super convenient when you’re in an unfamiliar and loud restroom (I. DO. TOO.) You win, there, males. 

BUT. Emmett is even more aware than ever about where exactly we are driving, which road we are traveling on, if we are supposed to turn left or right, and which state we are in.  He loves states, maps, directions, signs– all that stuff.  And he was extremely delighted to read the WELCOME TO VIRGINIA, then WEST VIRGINIA, and finally NORTH CAROLINA as we passed them. And he remembered exactly how we were supposed to drive back home.  So, when we had to detour, or stop for a break… there was screaming and outrage. Which, all things considered, was fine. And his end-goal was the same as ours:

We decided to minimize Emmett’s stress and frustration (and that of the whole house) by not allowing any iPad/iPhone device playing by any of the boys. Not during the 11 hour drive, not in a restaurant, not when it rained for two days.  The problem when Emmett plays is not that he doesn’t choose an educational app– he does. He really uses an iPad or iPhone way better as far as educational purposes goes than any child I’ve ever seen. But when it’s time to turn it off, say to eat, go potty, or sleep, he absolutely WILL NOT. He literally won’t stop to eat or pee.  So when we have to physically take it away, the meltdown is enormous and earsplitting.  And it’s not over quickly, and it then becomes an obsession which he repeatedly asks for, cries over, and hunts for– for the next 3-5 days ALL DAY until it fizzles out. 

It worked out so, so, so well. Except for once when he snuck and found my phone charging in our room, and took what is probably the best photographical representation of our vacation out of all the Instagrammy pics I took:

Willy-Nilly Soggy Laundry : A vacation story.

Anyway. Nice week, a little more exhausting than I’d hoped. And boy, a pregnant Carolyn can’t tolerate too much sunshine– sitting out for longer than 20 minutes made me feel sick and headachy.  I’ve read there’s a bio-med reason for this to do with adrenals, thyroid, and low sodium levels… but it was just an internet whisper so I …am not, in fact, a tan pregnant goddess this summer, and ye olde melasma will probably be forthcoming as the summer wears on. Proof in the fam pics. 

BUT! The trade off is that opposite from exactly a year ago, I had full, painless, mobility –like a normal Carolyn, only a little pregnant! And the boys had a blast. AND my sister in law, “sis” as the boys lovingly call her, was able to join us this year. She is simply a wonderful woman, she delights in the boys, and is one of the literal 5 (or less) people Craig and I can fully trust with our boys. A Carolyn at her age wanted nothing to do with children, so, she’s a wonder to me. When she’s there, everything is just better.

Craig and Christy (or Sis, as the boys call her)

My fave pic of the trip, taken by Sis.
I taught Lexington everything he knows. ūüė¨
Until next time, you guys!  I hope you’re having a beautiful summer so far. :)

2 years ago

Mothering Highs, Lows, + Elderberry Syrup Recipe.

I know this should be broken into two posts but look at all my cares. Here I go.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
When even Mom and Dad can’t get it together, family photos make for far and few.


Easter Triduum this year went remarkably better than the last¬†6 years worth of Triduums. ¬†I attribute it to creating some form of routine- and I say that with a great gagging because ridiculous things like “consistency” and “scheduling” give me rage. But it turns out, I do these things whether I like it or not and if I can trick myself into thinking I’m not creating a rigid schedule and locking myself into The Prison of Plan-Making, we end up finding ourselves actually doing an at-home Stations of the Cross, and praying a Rosary all in the same day.

Also: Lexington is 6, Emmett (albeit special needs) is 5, and Collin is 3 and will mostly tolerate the activity if his brothers are on board.

Easter Sunday Mass? Compared to last week’s Palm Sunday performance¬†(in short there was repeated, guttural bellowing of “CRUCIFY HIM” followed by maniacal cackling), it was a breath of fresh air:

Emmett¬†–if you’re new here (hi!), it’s important to know he is Autistic, mostly nonverbal, but has hyperlexia, which is defined as self-teaching how to read at an early age (We think Emmett started as early as 2, but finally showed us at 3 years old), obsession with letters or numbers, while also having difficulty understanding and communicating verbal language.
So there we were,¬†Easter Sunday, singing the closing song at my childhood parish and I hear Emmett muttering…
“Push in, and pull down!” I hear his little voice ring out like bell.

I turn around just in time to catch his hand grasping the pull handle of the FIRE ALARM, and I had to stand firmly rooted in front of it until the end of the song, because Emmett saw letters and they were telling him what to do, and why wasn’t anyone else taking care of this “push-in-and-pull-down” situation so clearly articulated and within reach? –at least, that’s what I imagine Emmett thought.

Kind of like Alice in Wonderland’s “Eat me” cookie.¬†Well if no one else will, give it here.

I don’t mean to turn this into an Emmett post but seeing him interact with the world around him is frustrating, wonderful, and hilarious. Bringing him to family events is always kind of an area of stress for Craig and I, because of Emmett’s known flight-risk, and because he screams a lot when he’s frustrated. Get a bunch of people together (even the ones you love most) who aren’t used to dealing with a kid with special needs, and he starts screaming his head off about the movie selection, or the way a toy will or won’t work, and it’s hard to calm him down, and a parent senses the anxiety spike in the room and that makes it all worse.
But Emmett is getting older and while he has new challenges, Craig and I can pretty much anticipate his frustrations and act accordingly.

What touched both Craig and I yesterday was watching Emmett happily interact with different family members in a way that we’ve not yet observed.
Roses and thorns, that’s Autism. That’s everyone, really.

Also of note! Our experimental homeschool Kindergarten year is coming to a close and while Lexington still might stare off into a daze if you ask him the purpose of Lent, I have to say: He’s finally gotten down the reason for Easter.

Craig took the boys to a Panera lunch on Saturday and the cheerful cashier used her most excited-talking-to-little-people-voice and asked them if they were going on an Easter Egg hunt that day, to which Lexington replied, “I think you mean tomorrow. It’s not Easter yet.”
and then she chipperly persisted, asking if they were SO EXCITED FOR THE EASTER BUNNY?! to which Lexington answered, “Ehh… you know what’s even better than that? ¬†Jesus opening the gates of Heaven.”
Lady didn’t say much else.


I really, really, really don’t want to be smug here because I’m really good at ending up with my foot in my own mouth but…. my work is done here. *wipes dust from hands*

Foot, I’ll taste you soon, old friend. wink.

Elderberry Syrup!
Want to make some?
I did!  (pretty much anything I do everyone else can do, and do much better, so that means this is grade K easy.)

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

It was easy, with the help of Amazon Prime. (not sponsored, but the links imma give you below ARE affiliate, just so you know.)
I made Elderberry Syrup¬†to help get us through a wave of colds the house of Svell endured a few weeks ago. I was better in 4-5 days, and it usually drags on for a few weeks. Now we are into¬†spring allergies and I found myself hitting up the syrup again this morning, so I figured I’d share the Pinterest recipe from which I adapted my own concoction:

Elderberry Syrup

  • 2/3 cup dried elderberries -can buy here
  • 3 1/2 cups of filtered water (mineral is best if possible)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup raw honey –can buy here.


Fill a medium pot with the water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
-Bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until you’ve boiled the mixture down to about half of what you started with. (Should be 45 minutes)
Enjoy the Elderberry/clove/cinnamon aroma. yum-o.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Strain Elderberry mixture into size-appropriate bowl.
-Making sure that the syrup is no longer hot, mix in honey (if the temperature of the syrup is hot, you will lose the medicinal properties of the raw honey).
Store in a glass jar, and keep refrigerated.
-Use clean spoons or droppers to administer the syrup, never contaminating it by “double dipping”.

Kids: 1/2 – 1 Tsp
Adults: 1/2 – 1 TBSP
*Once / day*
If cold or flu is present: take every 2-3 hours.

***I’m not a doctor. Talk to your doctor to make sure this is okay for you and your family. Definitely don’t give this to a child under 1 year old as it contains raw honey***
My people approve. I hope you enjoy!
Happy Elderberry. Happy Easter – He is Risen.

2 years ago

Just dropping by to share my warm fuzzies

P A L M  S U N D A Y.
Worst Mass performance by the children Svellinger thus far.

Let me build it up first before rolling around in the mud that was yesterday’s folly.
Mass with our 4 boys usually consists of:

-one trip to the potty
-one trip to nurse Jude
-3 or 4 face slaps or hair-pulls from Jude.
-frequently reminding Collin to sit/stand/kneel
-shuffling the missal/chorus books around so each child has ONE JUST ONE! or none at all if I sense page-tearing is on the agenda.
-on the rare occasion, asking Lexington to stop undulating his head like a banshee.

Of course, Emmett brings a different level of young-child-at-Mass challenge: he has Autism. He frequently quotes movie lines which are mostly inappropriate for the occasion.  But we only watch G-PG Disney’s so the worst you’ll hear from him is “GET OUT AND STAY OUT!” (Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas) …and on the super rare occasion, Emmett might remember that one time Craig was playing with the Dubsmash App and Emmett overheard a “HELL YEEEYAHHH!”

Sometimes, sometimes things work out perfectly and Collin sits still, and Jude doesn’t even need to nurse, and Lexington actually pays attention, and Emmett sings out “Ave, ave, ave Maria. Ave, ave, ave Ma-ri-ri-ah.” during the Consecration and oh, my goodness do Craig and I feel so fuzzy and full of proudness and zest and sprinkles from the twisty soft serve waffle cone ice cream. Yes we do, man, life is good.

But yesterday.

Okay, so we arrived 20 minutes late, the Gospel was already being read.
I was really excited, knowing it was a long read, the Palm Sunday Gospel (LK 22:14‚ÄĒ23:56) and Emmett, who loves to read along would enjoy this.
So we shuffled into a pew -a FRONT ROW pew- situated in the in the middle of the entire place.
As it happened, the spot that Emmett and I were standing was directly under a light– basically a spotlight, for the events that were about to blunder onward.
Emmett sat, and even though we were supposed to be standing, forcing Emmett never works out in the favor of silence, so I sat with him while the others stood.

I opened up the Missal, caught up to the right spot, and pointed at the words so Emmett could follow along. He was delighted.
He was even more excited when he discovered the entire congregation was required to speak parts of the reading, in unison.

This is going good. We are doing good. And right as I thought that, we came upon the part when “the crowd” cries out:


Well. Emmett thought that was funny. Hilarious, in fact.
So he starts giggling. I can handle giggling.  I ask emmett to “turn the volume down”. This is how he understands that he’s too loud, but it works 50/50.
Still, giggling is okay, there are wors–


Emmett was now using a guttural, throaty voice and bellowing those lines repeatedly, cackling in between.

So there we were, me and my possessed child, sitting under a harsh ceiling spotlight, for everyone to make note of.

So I’m scrambling to point Emmett’s finger to the bottom of the next paragraph, where everyone else had carried onto, looking forward to the next crowd response, hoping Emmett will latch onto whatever’s next, but he waves my hand away, cackling, with eyes only for CRUCIFY HIM.
I glanced up at Craig, who was now being repeatedly head-butted by Jude.

My armpits were sweating, and my head felt the heat from those ridiculously focused ceiling lights, and I prepared to excuse Emmett and myself, but I looked down and was relieved to see he’d flipped to an entirely different page and was reading quietly to himself.

I stood up, wishing I could evaporate into nothing at will, and finished following the Gospel reading.

Really, aside from Collin loudly whimpering, flailing as I picked his person up from the church floor, and completely going noodle-body multiple times as both Craig and I tried to correct him; aside from Lexington’s sudden intense thirst for water “MOM! I AM REALLY REALLY REEEEEALLY THIRSTY” He scream whispered multiple times with big doe eyes, and Emmett delving back into his loud-voiced mutterings…
…that was the worst part.

A kind gentleman passed us his oragami’d Palm-into-a-Cross after Mass and told us we had good boys.
I will leave you here to imagine my inner facial expression.   


2 years ago

The merciful grace in my child’s question.

Yeah, hi February. ¬†I started this year doing something I’ve never done before: I chose 3 words to live by:

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


Except, as usual with me, things have beelined the opposite. I’m trying to deal with strange chronic pain that seems to have popped up out of the blue over the last few months. ¬†When you try to do your daily things- you know, like balancing 4 children on one finger, but it hurts to lift that finger -things just suck, and those words you were pumped up to live out are staring at you and they just suck.
And so January flies by and one day you’re standing in the kitchen peeling a tangerine for your 3 year old, who is perfectly able to peel it on his own but insists that you do it at the pain of falling to the floor in devastation per usual 3 year old style. ¬†And you flop the first half of that tangerine into a bowl and hand it to your child, who at his age, is best known for demanding things from you instead of engaging in genuine conversation, but he stops you with an unusual question:

“Mom, do you want to smell my orangie?”

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

And in my grey state, I consider distractedly saying, “No, just eat your orange.” mentally adding “and leave me alone for 10 minutes together.”


But instead, I chose the opposite. And let me tell you, it was an effort to muster, “Yes, I do, honey.” and it was an effort to bend down and actually sniff the thing. My body resisted leaning forward, and putting my nose on that piece of fruit.

One sniff was all it took to drop me into a California orange grove.  I stood there and felt the warm western sun. I inhaled the vibrant greens and the clear sky.  I felt my skin open and accept vitamin D. The tension in my neck, legs, and spine relaxed.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

And then I exhaled, landing back in the kitchen where bare brown trees stood dully, staring at me through the window with long Ohio faces.

I looked down at Collin and smiled.

property of Carolyn Svellinger

In one simple question from my child, I was given the decision to choose all three of my words this year. I took it.

Thanks, C. That’s all I needed.