Quality Over Quantity

What up Almost-December???

Time is flying by, and I’m getting all “Doesn’t it seem like the year JUST started???” in my grocery store conversations like the old lady I am!

Between eating all the Thanksgiving things and decorating all the Christmas things, rolling around in all the germ things and washing all the clothes things, I got lots of things happening, as I’m sure you do.

I remember being in college and skipping an Educational Statistics Class (bleh! I threw up in my mouth a little just typing it) when there was a Dirty Jobs marathon on Discovery or if my roommate, Erin, felt like we needed to visit World Market for imported chocolate.  The few (maybe more) times I decided not to show, I made sure to make mental notes about being at a THAT place in my life; to be thankful I was able to do nothing for a bit.  I told myself I was going to remember as much as I could about those adventures or couch sessions and shouldn’t forget how great it felt, since you know, adulting and stuff was right around the corner.emanderin1.jpg

Who even has time to hang out in tiled waiting rooms for pedicures in airports now?  Sure as heck ain’t me!

This season in my life has me shuffling through those good memories pretty often since I can’t do stuff as reckless as waste time.  That go, go, go, got me like “MEH!!! I JUST WANT TO BINGE WATCH THE CROWN” and sometimes I think “WHY CAN’T I JUST EAT A PACK OF LIPTON BUTTER NOODLES AND EVERYTHING BE GOOD IN THE WORLD???” when I’m having to make 3 separate dishes for dinner time.

But the chaos and lack of down time has made me hyper aware of how intentional Pat and I are in our parenting.  We’re really starting to notice how the choices we’ve made in how we spend our time with our children is affecting them.

Listen, I’m working on my segues, but until then, just go with it.

I think we’re a little old fashioned with how we raise our flock.  We don’t waste much time around them unless it’s reading Chronicles of Narnia together or watching some of our favorite family YouTubers before bed.  Pat is constantly explaining how things work for Hank.  I’m constantly trying not to pull my hair out over the latest Marnana Disciplinary Committee Advisory Board Meeting (that’s “you bout to get a whippin’ “for short).  Amos is always watching what the others are doing, sometimes picking up the bad habits, and other times making us laugh.  And sweet Porter?  I’m at the best possible point in my mama life to enjoy every second of him because I know how fast it ends.

We’re all about quality over here, not just quantity with our time with them.  And that philosophy is spilling over into all parts of Ferrell life.20161107_192150.jpg

Hank and MH have tablets but I’m so strict with when they get to play with them that it doesn’t really count. I have first hand experience from the daycare and classroom of what too much screen time looks like, and I want to protect my bunch for as long as possible. No one is ever allowed to play with our phones unless it’s to use the app SoundTouch (if you have kids, it’s totally worth the money!) when we’re reaching meltdown levels in public or to reward somebody.  And I just finished the biggest toy and clothing purge of my life that I feel like even that lady that started the capsule wardrobe movement would be proud.

Some of that purge has to do with making room for the LuLaRoe my good friend, Lauren Elizabeth, and I have started selling.  But the rest of it was because our lives had become so cluttered with STUFF that we were forgetting to enjoy each other.

The TV we watch is void of commercials, so they don’t know about what toys they should be demanding for Christmas.  We encourage them to dig and run and explore, unless it’s through the Tupperware cabinet, then I’m liable to lose my mind with them.  There’s a steady stream of cardboard coming through our house, so somebody is always coloring a masterpiece or building tunnels. And Pat has enough sawdust on the floor of his shop to ensure HOURS of scattering, sweeping, and “sandprints.”

With all the good stuff going on in our parenting lives, this weird sense of depravity grabs hold of me from time to time when I look at these awesome tiny people.  Like, am I doing them a disservice by not giving them all the things?  Hank has no clue what a Hatchimal is, and I’m ok with it, but that also means he hasn’t asked for anything for Christmas besides another pack of nerf bullets.  Margaret Hannah has no interest in dolls, apart from the 2 she’s had for years, but also zero knowledge of the American Girl franchise.  Is she going to feel isolated and left out when the girls club comes back to daycare in a few weeks telling all about who they got and what she was wearing?  I feel like that’s a strong no, but I seem to be the one having the trouble with her being left out.

It sounds so petty, I know.

I worry that Hank isn’t wearing the same stuff as other kids at school.  I fret over Amos being in hand-me-down shoes.  Porter wears pajamas a good friend gave me when I was pregnant with Hank.

None of this matters, because my pack is mostly happy, well fed-ish, and have good manners.  They know how to have conversations with adults and typically behave.  But that doesn’t always keep me from thinking they’re missing out on  STUFF.

Having to constantly stay on top of 4 revolving wardrobes makes me want to scream, “I’m never buying anyone ANY clothes EVER.AGAIN!”  Living in a 3 bedroom house makes me want to scream, “NO! You cannot save another chicken feather/trophy/rock you found in the parkinglot!”  Trying to keep the toys from multiplying during the night makes me want to scream, “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” when there’s a reason to give somebody a gift.

And all of that is why Pat and I have been trying to be really specific with what we give everyone.  Especially this Christmas. We want to be sure that if it’s time, or objects, or services they’re getting, it’s quality time, objects, and service.  That occasionally leaves me at a loss for what to tell someone who asks what they might like for Christmas, or make me stutter when someone asks what do they play with.  For two seconds I panic that they don’t have enough stuff in their little lives, and then I think back not on those times of sitting around doing nothing in college, but on those times I had to change out shorts for pants in everyone’s dressers.  That’s when I remember that for as long as they’re happy being with each other, I’m going to encourage and embrace it instead of compare our lives and playroom to someone else’s.  I know we may have some people beat in quantity of children, but if we’re talking quality, this bunch we’ve got can’t be beat.20161113_153825.jpg


Things I Want to Remember: Pregnancy

Title should have been warning enough, but if you need me to type it out, I’ll be keeping up with all the stuff I want to remember about this chapter in my life.  If that’s not something you want to read about, I’ll see you in Thursday’s post.

I’m nearing the end, 3-ish weeks left to go with this, and I don’t want to forget any part of it!

Except the varicose veins.  Imma be real ready to see them go on about their way.

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(Those 1st 3 pictures are while I was in labor with the 1st 3 children.  The last one was after Amos puked all over me a few weeks ago.)

I thought I’d start with a  little 1st pregnancy vs 4th pregnancy list for fun.  If your idea of fun is birth and babies and the such.

1st- I read What to Expect religiously.  4th- I think it might be in a box in our junk room with some picture frames and pile of old cell phones I haven’t bothered to unpack since we moved.

1st- I avoided caffeine like the plague.  No coke for about 7 months.  4th-I drink boxed ice coffee when I can remember to buy it at the grocery store like my life depends on it, and since I’m not a drinker or smoker, I take cokes to work a few times a week to deal with all the snot and poop and having to teach toddlers how to use scissors.  Don’t judge.

1st- We bought so much baby paraphernalia everyone told us we HAD to have.  Crib, matching dresser & changing table (which is currently covered with all the clothes from winter that need to be put up or gotten rid of),  swings, bouncy seats, floor mats, ALL the stuff.  4th-His carseat is clean, he has exactly 4 new outfits no one else wore before him, & I’m not even about to get up in the night to go to another room to pick him up out of any type of bedding to bring him back to my bed to feed.  Co-sleeping for the win. (FYI I don’t need any commentary.  I got it handled.)

1st-The baby book!  I couldn’t wait to fill that thing in!  And I kept up with EVERYTHING!  MH has one that I managed to hit the highlights in, Amos’s is a steno pad I occasionally wrote things on to remember, & Porter doesn’t have one.  I’ll catch him up on the important things when he starts asking.

1st-Bottles!  I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I still bought and washed bottles because I thought that’s what I had to do.  4th- I sterilized the 2 that came with the pump for those “just in case” times.  That should be MORE than enough.

1st- I packed matching robe & pajamas for the hospital, with nursing cover and swaddle blankets that coordinated with baby’s first outfits.  4th-I managed to find a pair of yoga pants that don’t have holes in them, threw in a few t-shirts, and grabbed some of the cleaner looking sleepers for the baby.  Also, if you’re planning on visiting, knock first.  I’m not even going to pretend like I care about a nursing cover at this point.  I know what it takes to make nursing a priority and that may not fit well with visiting hours.

I could go on and on with this, but the biggest point to this post is for me to be able to remember the good, bad, ugly, and weird that’s come along with growing all these babies inside my body.

  • I eat a lot of cereal.  Like a lot a lot.
  • Feeling a baby move in your belly is the strangest and most comforting thing in the world
  • I’ve grown 5 hearts inside my body, including my own
  • Raw meat aversion in the first few months means lots of eating out, but that’s kinda always how it goes when I’m over cooking
  • Exhaustion like you’ve never experienced
  • I own stock in Tums for indigestion. It might even be safe to say I’m addicted to them
  • My hair grows ridiculously well
  • Then it all falls out about a month after I give birth
  • Weird dark patches all over my body that MH tells me is playground dirt
  • My belly button has never poked out all cute like some of you other girls, it just looks like it’s had a stroke
  • Do not wait to go pee.  Especially in a 4th pregnancy
  • I have an unbelievable ability to find other mamas through the internet who are experiencing terrible heartache or hard trials when I’m pregnant
  • Watching birth videos makes me so proud.  Like, mama!  You did it and you are amazing!!!
  • My nesting only ever involves the need to move furniture.  I don’t care about everyone having clean clothes (duh!) or mopped floors, I’d just like to rearrange all the furniture everywhere
  • I’ve caught a stomach flu with all 4.  Bonus is it seemed to throw off my weight gain enough to make me not feel bad about it
  • Hearing people drink makes me want to throat punch them (hearing them eat bothers me no matter what’s going on in life)
  • I can get so caught up in the MIND BLOWING facts about growing humans inside your body that it makes it hard to function.  That mainly happens around 3 AM after I’ve just had to pee
  • Diatasis recti, or ab separation, happened after Hank, so I have the gross ability to flex my stomach a certain way and make the weirdest looking cone head belly you ever did see
  • I’m allergic to my wedding band and engagement ring only when pregnant.  That’s how I’ve known I was pregnant with the last 2
  • Hand swelling is yuck
  • I would like to eat scrambled egg sandwiches every day
  • I like my pregnant body a heck of a lot more than my normal one, even with all the stretch marks
  • Total strangers who touch my belly need throat punches (If I know you, we’re good.  If I don’t, back up off me)
  • When I get asked how much longer, I usually say “Any day now,” but in Family Dollar yesterday I said “I feel like it’ll probably happen while I’m standing in this line,” and it was very satisfying
  • I read in a book once about a woman in her fifties who still felt “the echo of her babies” every now and then.  In between pregnancies, I’ve felt strange flutters and the like that reminded me of when I had a full womb.  I for sure hope I’m always able to feel those “echos!”

This list could keep growing, but I’ll save it for another time.

I do want to say that I am more than aware of what a blessing it is and has been to experience all of these things.  For those of you who have struggled or are currently going through things, please know I pray for you regularly.  Because infertility wasn’t an issue for Pat and me, it never really crossed my mind until people very close to us spoke up about their trials.  My  eyes and heart were opened in a way I didn’t know they could be, and you mamas and daddys are always on my mind.

In the mean time, Pat and I have been blessed greatly with our family.  Despite how much I’ve complained during the last 37 weeks about veins, full bladders, or a hairy belly.  I’d do it all again in a second.  Heck, we may even change our minds about stopping at 4.  What’s the big deal at this point?  We’re already outnumbered!

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We can’t wait to add Porter’s first #ferrellfamilyphotoclub picture to this bunch!



Cousins Easter

I have a lot of cousins.  Most of them are older, and more my moms age, but there’s a cool handful who are in the child rearing phase of life, too.  It seems like we’ve been trying to do something all together for eleventeen years but couldn’t ever make it work.

We finally made it happen with our 1st Annual Cousins Easter (hopefully to be followed up with a few other Cousin Holidays from now on) this past Sunday.  And aside from an overwhelming whiff of cow poop, it was quiet an enjoyable afternoon.

It really weirded Pat out that the big cousins were the adults at this function.  I don’t know when you actually start feeling like an an adult.  I mean, we have life insurance, and a mortgage, and cancer policies, but I still feel very much like I’m stuck in 2007.  So participating in an event where it was us, my cousin, Anthony & his wife Andrea, and our other cousin Robbie, and his wife Amber, and the 6 children (with 2 on the way) between us still didn’t make Pat feel like a grownup.

We’ve had a group text going for a while during the planning phase, and everyone’s so indecisive it makes me want to throat punch them *cough* Anthony. First it was supposed to be burgers and such, but that had to be changed because the griller of those foods sustained a very adult injury.  Joker threw out his back and couldn’t stand in front of his grill for very long.

Pizza is a great 2nd choice.  We all agreed.

But then it was “what kind of pizza,” “what do you want on them,” “how many should we get?”  And I was all MAKE A DECISION.  WE ARE THE ADULTS IN CHARGE.

It all worked out. Amos refused his slice of pizza, and instead wiped his Dorito hands all over my white shirt, Hank savored every last drop of his 2 baby cokes Anthony got just for him, and MH licked up her chip dip.  I even saw Grady pick all the cheese off his pizza and move it around on his plate.  Baby Abram eyeballed the pizza over his baby food, and Kylee was the only member of the clean plate club, I’m pretty sure.  I’m not the only one winning at feeding my children.

Before we left that morning, this conversation took place:

Hank: So Grady, & Kylee, & Abram are our cousins, Marnana, & you can’t act weird around them
MH: I know Grady has yer same birthday of Knockedover 7
Hank: It’s call Octover!
MH: I know! I said this
Me: Can we just promise we aren’t going to be fussing as much as you did this morning?
MH: No. That’s too much to promise from the little kids.

Nobody was weird and fussing was limited to the car ride.

Amber and I are hoping for a repeat of a same day delivery with these babies we’re cooking right now.  Surely, May won’t be as hard of a month to say for my kids as October is.

When it was finally time to hide eggs, the Dads took off for the front yard, and the kids couldn’t handle the excitement.

The Browns did not disappoint with the amount of eggs with money in them.  Of course, Amos discovered the ones with chocolate and that was the end of his hunting.


They were VERY serious about seeing all their loot.

12801460_10101166736373202_2112861359653553617_n.jpgAnd what qualifies any get together as a legit ADULT gathering?  Lining your kids up for a family picture, that’s what!  2nd and 3rd Brown cousins all around!

Hank whined, MH wanted to take the picture in the tire swing, Amos kept letting us know there were dogs barking, Kylee was in charge of keeping the swing steady, baby Abram was over seeing the grass, and Grady was the ONLY ONE to offer a real smile for this.

Yep.  We’re adults, with kids.  Just doing adult stuff like getting together to talk about when we were younger, and complain about jobs.  Total adults.

Happy 1st Cousins Easter for sure!