4 years ago

7 Quick Ones

Woah, hi there. It’s Friday.  Friday means nothing to a stay at home mom, so. It’s just Friday. Dinner rush and ankle biting as usual.


Fist area of business: Wrenn Jewelry is giving away 50 buckaroos to shop her sparklies right here. The giveaway ends tomorrow at 3pm est.  Alissa, the designer, keeps coming up with delicious pieces every few weeks and each one is better than the next.  Whomever wins, I envy you, because her new pink peony druzys are the apple of my eye right now. Get thee!


Okay so last winter, Emmett was diagnosed with Autism a mere 13 days before his 3rd birthday.  After the strange (just strange) emotions we (and maybe I should just say I because I’m the one who broke down in tears for no reason) encountered and facing the reality of his diagnosis, and that this is a life-long challenge, Craig and I have been slowly learning ways to help Emmett communicate with us.  Emmett has never spontaneously uttered the words “mommy” or “daddy”, whether in want of something, or frustration, or sadness, or fear, or just as a hello.  He only ever repeats.  Even after asking him to say something, often times, Emmett does not.  So during the moments when Emmett actually says words, whether it be in parroting a movie or a song, we pounce on that and use it.

My mom found a laminator and we’ve been able to use it to create letter cards for Emmett.  See, he loves letters, words, and numbers.  His memory of words he sees is amazing.  I looked down a few weeks ago and noticed for the very first time a group of letters which made sense!
It was eerie to look down and realize no one else but your 3 year old is in the room to have spelled out the word FROZEN across the floor. Frozen is one of his favorite Disney’s at the moment (what Disney-watching child’s isn’t?).

Since then, we’ve worked with Emmett to recognize words which he can use to tell us his wants and emotions.

Mainly, they help during sensory overload situations to calm him down before his thrashing becomes all-out tasmanian devil.  If you’re following me on Instagram, you probably saw some of the pages I was working on to create his word book.  It’s been a life saver. Especially during Mass.



But for the very first time this week, Emmett brought me some of his cards as if to communicate with me.

For the very first time, my three year old told me he loved me. 

property of C. Svellinger
The first thing he brought me in the morning was ” I love you” and next, “Mommy”

I’d resigned myself to accept that while Emmett might never look me in the eyes and say, “I love you, Mom” that he definitely shows me.  And he does. It’s clear he delights in and adores Craig, and it’s clear that he feels most at rest with the both of us close to him.  But I’d given up hoping to be literally, voluntarily given those words.

So, one might imagine how that felt.


Today, Emmett ran up to me, holding up a card and smiling with wide eyes in recognition of something new.

The card which reads MOMMY, he held next to my face.

It seems like it’s likely a part of something a parent of young children with Autism definitely knows painfully well: to wonder, does he even know I’m his mommy?  Does it even matter to him who’s there to feed him and clean him up during the day? Who does he see?

With your typical child who is not autistic, it’s always quite clear they seek out comfort and respite from Mom or Dad. But with Emmett, I am simply a pair of hands which “DO.”  Hands give and take and wipe and clean (I’m stating this as a matter of fact, not to complain.  This is simply how it’s been.). Emmett’s whole 2nd year of life, it was like he did not have the ability to look at the person beyond the hands.

But little by little, it’s as if Craig and I have come into focus for Emmett.

I have to say, it is rewarding.


You’ve told me all along, having multiple children does get better. But when one of them is thrashing upon the floor screeching like a banshee, while the other is attached to the boob, and the third is waiting for his bum to be wiped from the bathroom upstairs, while the bacon is burning in the oven and you step in a unidentified puddle of fluid on your way to crawl in a hole and die, ’tis but a dream.

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But it’s true.  New challenges (“challenges” HA.) replace the old, of course, but it makes it INFINITELY much better when you can bark at your 5 year old to bring you an extra diaper, fill his brother’s juice cups, and put some shorts on everyone (whether those shorts are three sizes too small or large, or match in anyway whatsoever, at this point, mother dearest doesn’t care).

Even Collin, who will turn 2 this Autumn, is now helping break put the dishes away and clear the dinner table.  He and Lexington often fight over who gets to vacuum.  I’m going to laugh at that one forever and use it as proper leverage when they’re teens.  They’re simple tasks, but my ankle biters are becoming the extra hands I’ve longed for since day one. BANGARANG.


So I’m just kicking back and the house is sparkly white, right? …r i g h t.  That’s what the exposure adjustment is for.

emmet sleep floor


I’m working on my second crochet blanket for our boys, and the place I’m at right now took me literally 6 months to achieve with the first blanket.  I’ve been at this one for 2 weeks. whizzbang.

Property of C. Svellinger


Does anyone here weave??? Like with a loom? I’m really interested in jimmy-rigging a cardboard thing like Pinterest says and giving it a go.  I really want to try a kitchen rug with strips from old clothes that are just too embarrassing to give to Goodwill. Anyone have good tips?  I’m all eyes.


Many moons ago, I wrote about a natural deodorant I liked.  Well, it wasn’t too long before I realized I did not, in fact, like it at all.  It was greasy and left an un-washable fily oil stain on my shirts, and after a day at Bumpy Bridge, where the power is known to go out with a slight breeze of the wind and often times, the AC just flat stopped working, the Bee Oh wafted prodigiously. Lurvely.

My friend, Ashley, shared Prima Pit Paste with me and after using it for a full month, I can truly say I’ll never love another. My husband can vouch for it too. Big fan, that stinky man– though stinky not so much anymore.  I’m in such a love with Primal Pit Paste (it’s really fun to say it like a toothless moonshiner from the hollers of Kentucky) that I’m going to bug them for a review and hopefully do a giveaway, and you’ll love it too.  Stay tuned!


Have a great weekend, youse guys!  Thanks, Jen, for another week of 7QT.

4 years ago

Intense Parenting Seasons! How do you handle them?


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How do you mothers pull through intense parenting seasons?

Me? Generally, I don’t.  I flee to small quarters and lock the door.  Many times, though, I have to temporarily give up something I love doing.  Halting the over-share à la Sveller-elle is the choice I’ve made these last few weeks.
I chose to shortly abstain from blogging because my other options are as follows: ex-naying doodling, reading, coffee, or baking sugary goods.

I have to doodle, there’s no question about that.

Property of C. Svellinger at Svellerella.com
the Y and the S are doin their own thang… I know. Practice, practice!


I HAD to read this:

property of C. Svellinger
It was great and good.

I will die without coffee. Just die.  And there’s never ever a reason for me to give up drinking coffee.  It’s like wearing underwear.  No question, you must have it.  I don’t know why eliminating it came to mind at all. hm. Self-sabotage! I shake my fist at ye!

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Big fat one for Momma’s day, you betchyer boots.


I’d be a very sad person without sugar with my tea.  So yes, I make time to bake:

Via Pinterest

Old Fashioned HIPSTER Iced Oatmeal Cookies


Everyone has been sick, on the mend, and then sick again for the last 2 months. It feels like it’s been 2 months anyway.  Who knows what the real timeframe is.  …probably 2 days.  I still have the most annoying linger of a cough- what is this? Why are you still here?

Collin is entering into my favorite stage of Terrible Two-dom, and he’s poised to perfect the art by his second birthday in a few months.  Perfect it.  His favorite word is “no.” and he uses all 8 octaves to communicate it.  You think it’s not humanly possible.  Then you have children.

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Counter Climber Pro

He’s also experiencing a lil’ thing I’ve never encountered before: Eczema.
We rushed him to the doctor last month after waking: his face and arms covered and swollen with red blotchiness.

Doc said, “Eh. No big deal.  Bring him back if it flares up and causes alarm.”

This, says el doctoro, after we waited an hour and a half to see the professional. I’m convinced they make the parents wait so long in order to disorient and dull their thoughts by causing irritated-and-now-hungry children to commandeer the investigative conversation the parents had initially geared up for. But that’s just conspiracy-theory me, and those people are nuts.

Fast-forward to this weekend.  We’d been slathering Aquaphor all over the poor boy, as I watch him gouge his skin until it bleeds.  We woke up Monday to behold a baby’s face so red and so swollen, his right eye remained closed.

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This actually looks tamed here.

*waits 45 minutes in mostly empty waiting room*
Doc says, “Eh. I’ve seen 10 times worse. Slop some steroid cream on that.”  *Issues Rx.*

I’m sorry. I may, in fact, be the lemming parent which many doctors shuffle through their doors, patting them on their bums on the way out, but I don’t think that slopping steroidal ointment all over the earth is going to tackle the underlying cause of what’s making my son’s EYES SWELL SHUT.

But I’m not the doctor here, so I’ll just blog it out.

How’s that for some over-share? I think it’ll suffice for now.  I promise it’s not solely Collin.  Lexington and Emmett are collaborating brilliantly as well.  Never fear.  I’m just picking on CJP today.

SO. Where else can you find me, if you’re having some Svell withdrawals?  I’m all over Instagram sharing all the colors of the wind. Come visit.

Property of C. Svellinger


4 years ago

Catholicism for Grown Ups: Shaking Off My Inner Little ...


So there I was, all revved up to have a life-changing Lent.

And you know how perfectly that went for me, because the only thing I’m good at being consistent with is Instagramming.

Property of C. Svellinger

Each Sunday of Lent, Mass with our children became sweatier and thrashier.

Then Lent was basically over and Holy Week had begun.  All in all, I counted “make it to confession” my one and only success for Lent 2014.
Holy Week is my favorite –my most favorite!- week of the year.  I was looking forward to fully immersing my emotions and thoughts into Christ’s Passion, to feeling the sorrow of His crucifixion, to feeling Jesus’s pain, His sorrow, the weight of the Cross, in order that I would more deeply appreciate the joyous Easter vigil celebration.  I couldn’t wait to be lost in prayer as I inhaled the incense, and the sounds of piano, flute, and trumpets echoed through my ears.

None of that happened.  Absolutely none of that happened.

The last two weeks of Lent undid me to a tangle of nerves rubbed raw, zapped of energy and time.
My prayer life resembled weak whimpers, dry emptiness and exhaustion.
Aside from some personal matters that I won’t blog here (sorry guys! Really, I would spill my guts out, but I gotta draw a line somewhere.), anything that required my attention suddenly suffocated me. And oh, indeed I was required every waking-and-sleeping minute, which I admit is the stuff of parenthood, but for many reasons it was more intense than usual.

Why I didn’t take this as a hint that attending Easter Vigil might not be the best idea, I can only attribute to sheer derangement. Cutting out a thrilling tale which involves my husband’s sudden manspiration in the middle of the day to begin a carpentry project, we fine-dined on ye olde Mickey D’s in the Wendy’s parking lot and found ourselves amply on time for the Vigil Mass, to my disbelief. I might go as far as saying we were early.

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Boy, oh, boy. High on the punctual train.

And that was the high-point.

From the moment we shuffled through the church doors (I was shufflin’, because my tights somehow made my feet extra slippery, which caused my flats to flip off at my heels with each step, which is, you know, just superb when carrying a child), it was whine city.

We wisely chose to sit in the transept, behind the choir, underneath speakers which hang from the ceiling.  I looked up as Collin was shaking my poorly thought-out choice of a necklace like a maraca, and wondered how acutely those little puppies pick up noise from above. SHAKESHAKESHAKESHAKE …  mmm-hm.

Property of C. Svellinger
Just trying to add that pop o’ color to my otherwise funeral-themed garb. I promise no premeditated percussion intentions were had by me.


Mass began, and I was so excited to be there aaaand commence trip number 1 of 1,000 to the bathroom with Drink Guzzler Number One (pictured above). Then back out again to the foyer with Sir Collin, loudly asking to “NURRRRH?” while shoving his entire arm (to his armpit) down the top of my dress, while playing the maraca necklace salsa with his free hand. Then it was Craig to the foyer with Emmett who’d escalated his babbling to a distracting level.  Then switcheroo who gets to rest and hold the sleeping child. Then the other calls “mommieeeeeee” loudly until he gets his turn back.

Before I knew it, we were preparing to receive the Eucharist and I hadn’t had a single chance to participate in the celebration at all.

I half-knelt in the pew (Wait, how did I get back to my seat? Good timing, though.) blindly looking up to the ceiling, with Collin balanced in my lap: batting my necklace, climbing over my shoulder, pulling my hair at my temples (the best place for hair-pulling, let all mothers everywhere tell you), and I whimpered in prayer “God, this is awful.  This is just awful.”

And the words “…do this in memory of me.” rushed to my ears as I glanced down and saw Father hold high the Eucharist.

“How great it is to be Catholic” were my next thoughts, in spite of the simultaneous temple-hair-pulling:

It doesn’t matter how empty my spiritual life might feel.  It doesn’t matter how much I’m struggling to concentrate.  It doesn’t matter that the choir didn’t sing my favorite song (seriously, why not!?).  It doesn’t matter that I barely got a chance to meditate on Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice and really feel all the feels.  None of these things matter, because no matter how spiritually dry I might feel, the Mass is always here.

Jesus knew He needed to leave something for us, after He’d been resurrected.  He knew we’d still need Him to sustain us, before He comes again.

And I stood up as Collin lurched backward in frustration of his limited access to nursing zone, readjusted him on my hip, looked at Craig who had a babbling Emmett on his, and a fidgety Lexington at his heels, and we walked up to receive Jesus in the flesh.


End of Part one.  Go get a glass of water.  Bathroom break if you need.
Are we good now? Okay.  Part Two is quicker. Promise.

We attempted the after-Mass-partay, cause that’s what all the cool Caths do.  This is where I remembered something else kind of important:  Emmett has Autism.

We found ourselves in a crowded cafeteria, no place to sit down, full plates in our hands, and Emmett, his little face contorted in pain: in pain of being suddenly overwhelmed with an ocean of voices he didn’t recognize, of faces he did not know.  His only way to communicate this to us was to scream and kick and arch out of my Dad’s arms, who was trying to lead him to a seat at the time. I felt eyes on Emmett, felt eyes on me.  I felt all the shame of a parent who clearly can’t control her own child.  I pushed the shame away, and strode toward Emmett so that he could see a face he knew.

We left.
Not out of embarrassment, but because it’s the only way to help Emmett.

Property of C. Svellinger
Clearly overcooked, too, was Collin.

Emmett was socially overcooked by Monday morning after such an Easter Vigil combined with a very active Easter Sunday with our families. Yet, I made a rookie mistake that morning, thinking we might enjoy a leisurely stroll through the toy aisles of Target as I nursed my socializing hangover with a Venti Pikes Place + caramel flavaflave.

Screams at every turn, as I grab random toys off the shelf in vain to pacify Emmett in the shopping cart, while Collin and Lexington voice their own concerns over the toys, or spills of juice, or dropping various items. Sweating, prickly red mother bolts out of Target and drops precious pink cake pop on her way out.

And back in the SUV we were, with the car running idle in the parking lot. Me belting out tunes along to the Frozen soundtrack (I’M SUCH A FOOL I CAN’T BE FREE, NO ESCAPE FROM THE STORM INSIDE OF MEEEEE! *sobs*), in between mindlessly horking down my dirty cake pop, and scalding, harried slurps of my coffee, in attempts to calm the nerves and the body exhaustion, interiorly crying “God, will we ever be able to just go somewhere and have a normal time, ever again? It’s never going to be normal ever again, is it?”

Property of C. Svellinger
Yup, Carolyn. It’s a hard knock life for you in your little flowery scarf and coffee. Sure is. (this selfie was taken post singing Elsa’s part)

Later that day, I was standing in my kitchen, rehashing to my mom how difficult it’s been with the boys in these recent weeks (Oh, okay. I promise you, I completely understand that every other mother has it so much harder, but please humor me and go along with the verbose mommy woe.  Lemme roll in the deep.).

I told her of my mini epiphany during Mass, but still I was frustrated that there seems to be no end.

As Mom spoke her next words, I broke into a maniacal laughing-cry as I processed a well-known fact about Christianity, which my mom reminded me:

“If Christianity was all warm and cozy, and happy, and clappy all the time,
A. We’d be in Heaven already, and
B. Everyone would be Christian.”

This is the stuff saints are made of.

It’s the saints who felt  years of silence from God, yet sought Him out still. (Mother Teresa, St. Thérèse of Lisieux)

It’s the saints who, like Jesus, embraced their cross, their pain, their suffering, their loss, their emptiness, their illness, and thanked God for it.  How does that make any sense? 

It doesn’t,  it’s ludicrous.  It is a narrow way, and the suffering endured makes absolutely no sense until we look upon the Cross and see our God there, crucified: hands, feet,  and side pierced, wearing a crown. Of thorns. How could we rationally expect to live life on earth in a warm fuzzball of spiritual euphoria and perfect happiness, when Jesus Christ did not?

This is where my Easter Vigil epiphany came full circle:

It’s hard to persist in loving Christ when you’re not feeling any sort of consolation for your suffering, no matter what kind of suffering, especially when rough days are dragging on and on, and you see no end to it.  It’s easier to be angry with God and demand to know how He could allow pain and suffering to happen to His children, especially if He sent His son to die to save the world.

The suffering we do on earth is holy work, if for Christ.  It is the embodiment of God’s love for you and I: pain and suffering, and spiritual darkness.

It’s difficult to grasp. It’s not comforting to hear. By choosing Jesus, nailed to the Cross, in spite of our yearning for rest, we grow holy by having faith that God will grant us eternal rest, especially when we aren’t getting any respite here. And Heaven is that eternal life we are promised beyond the reaches of this world.

As much as I’d like to tell you how excellent that is, my piddly little cross certainly doesn’t feel holy, or noble, or valiant.  It feels a lot more like coffee grounds mixed in diaper ointment, mixed in my mascara, and smeared on my purse straps (Happened. Easter morning. Coffee grounds. Coffee grounds everywhere.) with sides of Autistic tantrums, hospital bills, and bloodshot, baggy eyes.

These are the trenches my husband and I face of late (and shallow are they, when we look upon the Crucifix!).  Jesus knew that even His death and resurrection would still leave me feeling spiritually dry and desperate at times, perhaps years (Please no.), so he left us the Mass and the Eucharist to fuel our faith weekly, and daily, if we wish, to armor us.  It’s the one Constant in this world that remains, regardless of the people or places or events surrounding which leave us crying out “WHY, God?!”.
“Do this in memory of me.”

Isn’t that great?  Isn’t it such a privilege to know it and participate in it?

So I cry and I laugh in delirium because this hurts like Heaven.

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mt 28:20




Okay, quit trippin’, my Coldplay people.  I know.

4 years ago

{7QT} Day 5 of 7 Posts in 7 Days: This really doesnR...


Technically, this is day 5 of only 3 successful posts for the Svells.

It was a fun notion: me making time to write a fresh post errday this week. Just a notion, though.

Because in the case of these particular seven days, the word making would be defined as: kicking small human bodies off of my legs.
So, I chose not to make time for the sakes of three small human bodies.
Craig’s work load has been extra heavy this week and when he isn’t getting home til I’ve found myself pinned under a mercifully sleeping crabyearold, blog I cannot do.  Wrench my eyelids open, I cannot do either.


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I posted what might be interpreted as a sad photograph of my little Emmett on the Insta-G a few days ago, noting that he naps not.  It’s true, maybe once every week and a half – 2 weeks, he will lay his sweet head down for a heavy 2-3 hour nap, and I frolic about the house excited to do all the things I could otherwise not do, and in that excitement I spread myself too thin and nothing gets done anyway.   But that’s about it.

Yesterday was one of those days, and I was blessed with the chance to either blog, or bathe myself. The only reason I chose to bathe was because we were out of bread and other staples of the food sorts, and I’d feel bad for the grocer-goers who’d have to walk in my wake as I carefully selected eggs (it’s an art); or who’d have to stifle their own breath as they sidled by me as I found myself standing in a daze in the middle of the canned beans aisle.

GLORY TO GOD, my mother came to watch the boys for an hour so I could mumble to myself about the cost difference between organic and not at the fruit section. I chose poisonous strawberries and healthy bananas.


So that was great.

But then bedtime came and Sir Heavy Napper chose to sing loudly to himself til nearly midnight.

–aaand my point that I’ve lost on youse all by now is that I’ve been dying to photograph this part of the house at that time of the day, and while Emmett was, in fact, not napping, he was happy. And I was happy too, because I had him all to myself to photograph, which is a rare thing.

property of Carolyn Svellinger
happy as a clam.

Otherwise, who am I supposed to photograph?

property of Carolyn Svellinger


My sister’s mom-in-law shared with us a cheddar, spinach, bacon quiche recipe and the whole family will eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Except Lexington.

“What’s a KEESH, Mom?”
“It’s like a pie, with eggsspinachcheese and bacon in it!”
“…I think you should just make it taste like a pie.”


I had grand plans to make said delicious quiche for breakfast this morning, but when I came to the kitchen to assess Collin’s refrigerator pillaging, I didn’t notice that he’d managed to turn the entire thing OFF until an hour later while I was pulling out lukewarm cheese.

Which is fine.

I suppose we’ll be investing in a temporary child lock this weekend –and I suppose I could have sought one out yesterday at the grocery store, but see, it wasn’t ON THE LIST.


Quiche completion: 1pm.  Which is fine.

property of Carolyn Svellinger


So now we come to the point where we’re all going, I just read this entire thing and she really didn’t say anything. Why am I still here?
I don’t know, but I sure thank you for visiting, commenting, and letting me know this is all very normal and I’m really kind of a wimp.  If you were here, I’d share with you a large piece of quiche and a quawfee or a tea, or byob, and we could join my boys in throwing the laundry about the house.