End of Summer Quick Takes

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Wow, I really lost my blogging mojo for, oh, about a month there. Oops! In my defense, that month contained:

  • Tom’s last week of the grad school semester
  • Our 4th anniversary
  • A big road trip up to Vermont with my parents and the girls, for a week-long Smith fam reunion
  • Recovery from said trip
  • A crazy hot heat wave
  • Potty training Lucy
  • Somewhat-sleep training Maeve
  • Selling our Pilot, buying an Odyssey
  • Staycation adventures with Tom during his time before school starts
  • Home projects, trying to keep the house clean, actual cooking now that my sous-chef/child-wrangler is home in the evenings again!

So not much time left for tapping out updates or thoughts or book reviews or anything of that sort. But a good, full, stretching-ourselves-in-a-good-way type of busy!

 

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Fuzzy, cheese-y mornings #allthejammies #allthechins

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I’m starting to plan out what I hope our fall “routines” and daily “schedule” will look like (fully realizing that both terms are used very loosely!). But Lucy definitely needs a little more structure to her day to avoid boredom and serious acting out/torturing sisters/destroying property. I realize now why people send off 3-5 year olds to preschools. So we’re just going to improvise here at home.

She loves all kinds of fine-motor and crafty type activities, so I just got  this book for us, and will eventually stock up on the very basics: glue, safety scissors, good quality watercolors, finger paints, homemade play dough, etc, to make it happen. I am woefully un-crafty, but I think I can handle this level, where the kids don’t really care what it is, so much that it is. Art/fine-motor– check!

This adorable book will be fun to go through with the girls, and Tom takes them to local nature centers several times a month. Nature study/science– check!

Lucy also really likes alphabet-related activities so I may start doing some of these with her. Pre-reading/religion– check!

We dug up some old-school Wee Sing books from my parents’ (i.e. from my childhood) and Lena and Lucy both LOVE going through and singing the songs and doing the finger plays. We’re compiling a classical faves playlist and Lucy likes to listen to it for the approx 3 minutes she lays on the couch for quiet time, if she isn’t listening to audio books.  Music– check!

Any ideas for good quality children’s lives of the saints and Bible stories? I’m looking for something with good prose and beautiful illustrations to read aloud to the girls every day (no dumbed down text and no ugly cartoons!). Help!

We’ll continue, as always, to read a plethora of books, and Lucy will probably be happy to take on some more memory work from Children’s Garden of Verses (we have this one, and it’s beautiful), Mother Goose (we have this one which I loved as a kid), and The Harp and Laurel Wreath.

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Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic, but starting Sunday we’re going through 30 Days Grain Free.  I did a zero-grain protocol for about 3 months 5 years ago, and it did wonders for my health, so I’m hoping for similar results, as well as building better snacking habits. Tom’s also going to be starting this, kind of in tandem, so…yeah…pray for us!

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I just signed up for the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Women’s Blogging Network Conference. I loved it last year, and can’t wait to get out to beautiful Front Royal for this year’s! Definitely check it out if you’re a local blogger.

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Links!

The Weeds and Wheat in Children’s Literature

Yes, yes, yes! I always hated hearing, “But at least they’re reading!” as a teacher when the content was absolute drivel!!

I instantly knew which school the author here was referring to– my dear husband’s alma mater! He always lamented about the phenomenon she’s talking about, and it happened with fair regularity at my alma mater as well.

I’m curious about whether or not the upcoming Netflix original about the current royal family, The Crown, will be any good. I like Clare Foy from Little Dorrit and several other BBC things, so we shall see!

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Photos!

 

 

Lena's baptism day celebration

Lena’s baptism day celebration

A series of selfies and shots that the girls are constantly taking on my pilfered phone…

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And this cutie just turned SIX MONTHS … and is CRAWLING all over!

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Have a fun weekend and stay cool!

Linking up with Kelly!

Magdalena is Two!

Well, over a week ago, but who’s counting? This girl was all about birthday time, and has been asking about it for oh, about a month.

ZeroTWOTWO (1)All her wishes came true, though, in the form of cupcakes (her ONLY answer to “What do you want for your birthday?”), a helium balloon, and lots of people singing to her.

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At two, Lena loves:

Food, sleep, her beloved and very dilapidated stuffed cat, Snowflake (who was actually my sister’s originally, so she’s about 20 years old), and being held by Mom, only Mom, and Mom all the time.

Favorite activities include singing all day long (she has excellent pitch, and will match if I jump up or down an octave)…favorites include Wheels on the Bus, Oo-De-Lally from Robin Hood, Twinkle Twinkle, and more; cooking up all sorts of tasty things in her play kitchen; smothering Maeve with “love;”and generally whatever Lucy’s doing.

Her favorite foods are sausage, mac n cheese, and basically anything carb-y or sugary. But, still, she eats all sorts of fish, chicken, and most vegetables, and generally eats a pretty big plate (a lot more than Lucy most nights).

Says:

“You happy, Mommy? [or Daddy, Lucy, whoever she is worried may be even slightly irritated with her or life]”

“Thas eh-SITING!” –about so many things

“You’re my best fwend, [insert name of person of that 5 minute period of glory]!”

And so, so many other things varying from hilarious to not-so-cute and rather screamy. She is ultra-sanguine, going from monster-level tantrums to happy smiles and joy in about .5 seconds. It’s a little exhausting for my choleric-melancholic self, but Tom definitely “gets” her. We are so excited to see what this year brings her, and we are so grateful for our super affectionate, (mostly) happy and cheerful little firecracker! Happy birthday, Lena!

Weekend Links/SQT

Well, happy weekend! I need to express that it’s been absurdly hot and humid and at this moment a really intense cloudburst is dumping sheets of rain, while the sky just a few houses over is bright and blue. Summer weather at its weirdest. However, 3 out of the 5 family members are napping (two of whom are Lucy! and Maeve!) so Lena is staring at the rain/trying to catch a dying fly on the window, so it’s a good time to do a really quick Quick Takes post.

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You watch the Great British Bake Off (or Great British Baking Show for us Americans), right?! WHO KNEW that a show about amateur bakers could be so fascinating? But between the pastel baking stations, the British flag bunting adorning the white competition tent, and the little black lambs bleating in the scene transitions, it’s beautiful. Then, there are the contestants, whom you grow to know and root for (or against) as the season goes on,  the quirky hosts, and the wonderfully British judges who provide the most quotable food critiques imaginable. It’s just pure fun. Plus, of course, the “bakes” all look amazing. This article at The Kitchn is helpful to understand some of the baking terms that are just so foreign to us, though it doesn’t explain the obscure British  cultural references that we have to look up throughout watching (like “Tatty byes!“). Tom and I love to watch this at the end of stressful, busy days when drama/anything heavy is just too much.

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I was inspired by Deirdre to actually address my rather persistent diastasis recti since the whole doing-nothing-about-it approach was proving futile. I bought the Mutu System this week on the day it was 45% off, which makes it cheaper than a pair of new running shoes or high-end yoga pants (so definitely worth it, for the ease of having it totally guided). I’m looking forward to actually starting it…probably next week? We’ll see. The nice thing is that I now have permanent access to the program and can start it when Tom’s schedule is a little lighter.

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My parents saved my childhood dollhouse, and we’ve talked about sprucing it up in time to give it to the girls at Christmas. I may be slightly optimistic, but how fun and beautiful is this dollhouse remodel?!

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One of the (ongoing) travails of my daily life is Maeve+sleeping. As in, there’s not much of it and it’s hard-won. Por ejemplo, last night, she woke at 9:30 for what I thought would be a typical “first wake” of the night from which she’d nurse quickly back to sleep (as she usually does). But this time, she did not. She did not want to nurse, at all, ever, no, no, no. Didn’t want to be rocked. Didn’t want to cry herself to sleep. I’m still not sure what it was she needed/wanted, other than to be UP and AWAKE and SOCIAL! So finally, when the crying herself to sleep was also a bust and keeping us from sleep too, she acquiesced to nursing in a rocking chair and passed out. At 12:30 AM. Yeah.

Now I’m thinking we’ll have to really buckle down and help her learn to fall asleep on her own, especially for naps, because I just won’t have another Lucy-type sleeper!! Hannah mentioned this site and I’m really finding it helpful since she takes all the baby sleep research and books and distills it into short, practical, helpful posts. So we’ve dug up the infant swing and trying to get her to fall asleep in it, since the other day she ended up finally falling asleep at my mom’s in the outdoor baby swing (granted it was 103º out and crazy humid) when nothing else had worked. So far, she has fallen asleep for two naps today in her swing with just minor struggle, but it’s a little battery-operated one so she wakes up as soon as it stops swinging. Ha, well, it’s a start.

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I’ve been really into gazing at Carl Larsson’s paintings lately. He and his wife Karin, were both artists and raised 8 children together in this totally idyllic and beautiful Norwegian country cottage. I want all their textiles, art, furniture, etc!! Here are paintings of his lovely, cozy bedrooms.

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And some photos from Tom’s phone, from the last few weeks months! (He often forgets to open his Amazon Prime Photo app, and thus I never see the treasure trove of snaps from his perspective).

Such as...this one from Mother's Day!

Such as…this one from Mother’s Day!

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Girls in Rompers

Me in a pic?! Wonder of wonders.

Me in a pic?! Wonder of wonders.

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Father-Daughter Selfie time at the winery

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Tom took the girls to the hardware store and Lena freaked herself out when she almost knocked some screens over.Tears.

Tom took the girls to the hardware store and Lena freaked herself out when she almost knocked some screens over. Tears.

Big sis entertainment to the rescue!

Big sis entertainment to the rescue!

Lucy's baptism day celebration on the Nativity of John the Baptist, with the traditional pazookie + baptismal candle

Lucy’s baptism day celebration on the Nativity of John the Baptist, with the traditional pazookie + baptismal candle

Morning, sunshine!

Morning, sunshine!

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That’s all I got. Go see Kelly for more Quick Takes!

 

It’s July?!

Do you know what’s so funny– I thought that since Tom is going to be gone late into the night so much this summer because of grad school, I’d have so.much. time to blog! And here we are, almost halfway through the program and … yep. Hardly a peep. I will leave it to your capable imaginations to figure out why that may be.

But still, we are alive and mostly well, if exhausted and run a little ragged most days. Lucy’s currently fighting a fever/summer cold which has her parked on the couch (SO unlike her normal self) and even taking naps (REALLY unlike her normal self) but I’m hoping a couple more days of rest and more naps will do the trick.

We’ve also had some pretty jam-packed weekends to take advantage of Tom being around during the daylight hours…a (long) trip to the beautiful Shenandoah area to visit a very dear friend, go to a winery, and drive up a mountain to dine in her parents’ magazine-worthy home…

 

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I was having so much fun that I literally only got this picture while changing Maeve…oops!

 

Father’s Day BBQ…

 

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Maeve contemplates the greatness of her dad on Father’s Day

 

…and then my 10-year high school reunion last weekend! Maeve came with us to the evening events, and my parents very kindly watched the girls (and hosted us overnight during the weekend too). It was really, really fun to see old faces and friends and meet new spouses and kids.

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Then this weekend it was the library, catching up on tons of cleaning and chores, after-dinner ice cream and walk around town, some pre-4th of July festivities with family, and then cancelled day-of plans, due to Sick Lucy. But whew. The multiple nights of keeping the girls up past bedtimes have been taking their toll, mostly in deteriorating behavior and screaming sessions from the adults toddlers.

I’m hoping July will be a little calmer, a little less jam-packed and give us a little more time to rest and enjoy each other. I have to make a real, conscious effort throughout the days to enjoy the girls rather than merely see all their needs (and there are MANY), get fed up with their whining and crying and screaming, and lose my patience with their willfulness and lack of anything resembling cooperation or obedience.

This is why, even though it ends up being a lot of work and prep and cleanup, I tell myself to just do it: set up the pool for them, let them dig in the sandbox or make mud pies, “help” me bake or cook in the kitchen, eat popsicles, schlep all of us and our lunches to a park or play date.

It’s a hard summer, this one, and we need all the smiles and good memories we can get! I think things have gone pretty well when we make it to the end of another day and we are mostly in one piece and have had something substantial for dinner (thankful for a bunch of frozen slow cooker meals, batch cooking, and yes, plenty of frozen pizza/nuggets and mac n cheese. Survival!).

And when they’re all finally asleep, I can begin to sort through the tornado of sorts they’ve left in their wake before I collapse with a good show (just finished Home Fires and really enjoyed it! And now am going through Rebellion, which is maybe a bit too intense, but compelling, and when Tom’s home we absolutely love watching The Great British Baking Show. Who knew that could be so addicting?!) or sometimes a good book, if I have the mental capacity (almost finished with Room With a View, which we’re discussing at book club tomorrow night, and am supposedly still reading/listening to Brothers K, but let’s be real– my real life is crazy enough without reading about the Karamazovs every day too).

Here’s to a few more weeks of craziness before a vacation and having Daddy back at home!

 

Babies in the Garden {p,h,f,r}

Leila Lawler is suggesting showing shots of our gardens-in-progress for today’s link-up, and so that’s what I’m gonna do! I also feel that I need to capture the garden in its as-yet still untouched growing glory– I know the deer are watching and waiting to devour and ruin our work. They’ve lobbed off at least 5 beautiful little bush bean tops, but some of them have bravely started re-growing. And then my dad lent us some super-smelly anti-deer spray, and (fingers crossed) it is working (so far).

Let’s start with the front bed, right below our dining room windows:

What you see is a TON of lettuce, that we originally planted WAY long ago (I think like early March!) as a cold-weather crop. It survived the randomly super cold spring, and we have much more lettuce than we can eat at this point. The empty spot at the end is where we planted our butterfly/bird flower garden (a mix that will hopefully attract lovely things like hummingbirds, finches, butterflies, etc.). There’s a dahlia at the end that our neighbor gave us, but those buds never seem to want to actually bloom into flowers. Maybe it gets too much sun??  Then an absurdly tall stalk of cilantro that requires assiduous pruning since it keeps wanting to bolt and seed. But at least we have fresh cilantro this year!! We also got two pink hydrangeas from Aldi’s for $10 each, which was a steal, and one of these days we (meaning Tom) will have a few seconds to dig up the clay-ey soil right in front of the bed, and plant those and mulch around it. So far, they’ve seemed pretty happy  in their pots though, and have bloomed considerably since we bought them.

Next, the raised beds:

 

Oh look, a TON of weeds, 3 squash (of the 8, I think, Tom planted) and then 3 volunteer tomatoes! Hooray for volunteers! We will put actual tomato seedlings in the empty (well, except for all the dang weeds) space in the back, and maybe some heat-tolerant spinach underneath, shaded by the tomatoes. We’ll see.

The next bed has bush beans, 2 rows of them, and you can see in the close-up that they will be multi-colored, some purple, some green, which will be really fun! Then a bunch of carrots, which may or may not survive being consistently pulled up by Lucy before they’re ready.

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The last little bed is just cucumbers, and hopefully, they don’t get demolished by deer like last time. (Also, what the weeds! We reallyyyyy need to weed. And we really do not have time! All that rain has made our lawn/weeds/invasive crazy vines just take over our yard and gardens).

And of course, we’re still growing these:

(I can’t believe how much Maeve has started resembling Tom of late. Is that not his face, right there, in miniature (and on a girl baby?))

I tried setting up the sprinkler for the girls last week when it was blazing hot and thought that this year they’d both finally be into it (Lucy was a little timid last year, while Lena put her face right in it and loved it). Surprisingly, Lena was TERRIFIED of the spray of water and screamed, “IT’S WET!!!” in the most surprised, injured tones every time the water touched her.

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Preparing for the sprinkler to pass over…

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…andddd reaction. Lucy smartly turns head away, while Lena screams right through it.

So, I guess we’ll have to dig out the kiddie pool.

Hopefully, I will be back soon with something other than pictures and captions. This week has been particularly cuh-razy as Tom is both wrapping up his school year/grades/summer camp prep AND starting grad school that is over an hour away, four days a week. The kids haven’t seen him very much this week, nor have I really, but next week he should be home more in the mornings and early afternoons, and (please, dear God!) I’m hoping Maeve will start napping better (or at all, really) during the day too. Feel free to send up any prayers you want to for us during the late afternoon or early evening witching hour/dinner/bedtime…doing it solo with all three is no joke! However, I really can’t complain, as military and medical residents’ wives have it so much harder. Teach me your ways, brave women! (Seriously. Leave me advice if you are one!).

Hope you have a wonderful, non-humid weekend!

 

Cute and Not-So-Cute Toddler Antics {p,h,f,r}

My mom pretty much supplies any of the matching clothing the girls wear and it’s always fun to dress them in those outfits. But it’s pretty difficult to actually get a decent shot of them together with Lucy not screaming, “CHEESE!!!” and causing Lena to look in her direction…so here’s what we got:

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Lucy loves saying, “We need to take a picher of this!” whenever she is doing something she thinks is cute. Holding her baby dolls was one such occasion.

 

Well, I’m stealing this from Instagram, but I mean, it’s too good. This is what happens when you’re nursing the baby and the toddlers are on the other side of the car, where they know you can’t see them, and where the ever-tempting garden beds lie. “We’re pouring dirt on each other’s heads!!!” they called with glee. Let’s just say the showers we had to give them afterward were not well-received.

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Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter! 

Maeve Cecilia: 3 months

I’m not doing so hot with Maeve’s virtual baby book, but I am determined to get something down, before all the little things she does become distant, forgotten artifacts in my mushy mom-brain.

So, maybe just a wee bit of catch-up on her milestones (AKA the things only a mom could possibly ever want or need to record and remember, solely so she can compare/contrast all her babies’ milestones…):

Lifted her head up from lying down: 2/3 weeks (fuzzy already, see?! Should have written it down before!)

Rolled from tummy to back: 4 weeks! Earliest one so far!

Started scooching backward: right around 8 weeks. And I mean, she can scooch! She pretty much has near-suicide attempts during every diaper change as she blasts herself backward towards the edge of the table.  She also can now turn herself about 180º on a flat surface just from scooting with her heels.

Grabbed/batted at hanging toys: 2.5 months. She’s really into her play gym these days and will concentrate on grabbing the toys and rings for a pretty good chunk of time.

At 3 months, Maeve…

Loves to watch the family as we do anything and everything around her. She basically cannot nurse when anyone else is in the room because she has major FOMO.

Is the smiliest baby! If you merely catch her eye she breaks into a huge, wide-mouth grin and will often gurgle with joy at being noticed (third-child syndrome?)

Is extremely talkative! She loves to coo, gurgle, and basically chat with anyone who will give her attention. So cute.

Loves getting changed, probably because it combines two of her favorite pastimes: scooching backward and smiling/talking to someone.

Does not nap very well (FOMO, see above).

Is about to grow out of all her 3-month clothing and size 2 diapers.

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Constantly in motion…

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She got sprayed with milk but slept right through it!

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We love you, little smiley face!