Advent, so far!

It’s hard to believe we are already in the third week of Advent. It always does fly by. Our approach to celebrating Advent this year has been to slowly and incrementally add decorations around the house (Nativity sets and Advent wreath one week, stockings and door wreath the next, Christmas tree and ornaments the next, etc), which has had the added benefit of not overwhelming the kids or boring them too quickly. The nightly Advent wreath lighting is still super exciting and the girls kinda-sorta sit through one decade of the Rosary, and then run off while Tom and I indulge in our deep love for Advent hymns, and sing them until the girls fall apart. I also wrapped up all our Christmas/Advent books and got a ton from the library, so we can unwrap one each night when we can get to it. The excitement of unwrapping a book you already own or don’t own at all is real when you’re a toddler– we will be capitalizing on this fact for as long as possible.

It’s been fun and simple, as it should be with a 2.5 and 17 month old. They still ohh and ahh every time we turn on the Christmas tree lights, and they adore their Playmobil 123 Nativity set (it only has like 6 total pieces, which is key in our house, where pieces of toy sets end up everywhere). They also love the Fontanini one, and thank goodness those things are nearly indestructible as well as beautiful (though note: if used as weapons against siblings, they do hurt).

And my two favorite Advent feast days, St. Nicholas and St. Lucy, were especially fun this year:

 

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This girl would not be parted from her “pop” and screamed for quite a while when I took away the second one that was in her shoe (rookie mistake)

 

St. Lucy’s Morning

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The Lady of the Day eats cinnamon buns (not homemade this year because…Sunday morning) in her new St. Lucy jammies

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I made a new Lucia Crown for Lucy but she would not stand still for a picture

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Lena inherits the old crown, and looks appropriately Swedish in it, no? Note the beloved Playmobil Mary in hand

And just for fun, here’s our St. Lucia the last three years:

Now I’m off to vacuum pine needles of the carpet yet again and figure out where the girls have stashed all the accessible (read: non-breakable and therefore within reach) ornaments. Happy Advent!

Living with Toddlers: The Best and Worst of Times

Living with Toddlers

Mothering toddlers is, for me, a study in paradox: one minute, I’m losing my mind over the hitting, jumping on tables, spilling drinks, kicking, etc. The next minute I’m desperately clutching their still-tiny bodies and kissing their soft, curly heads. It’s a classic best-of-times/worst-of-times scenario.

I know I’ll live through this time period of early wake-up calls, multiple dirty diaper changes, nap fiascos, tantrums, defiance, and what feels like eons to get everyone shod, jacketed, and buckled into car seats. It’s just life, and it’s normal, and we’re exceedingly lucky to have the means to do and deal with all those things.

I also know I’ll miss certain things. None of the above, obviously, but things like the way Lena clutches my cheeks and strokes them, crooning, “Mama, Mama…” before she lays her head on my shoulder. Just to remind me she’s there and I’m holding her (as if I could forget. I’m starting to run out of room!). The way Lucy cherishes and insists on reading stacks of books with us in our bed, asking us to “close our arm” so that she’s snuggled under it next to us. And probably the most fleeting of all things is their speech, and the hilarious and cute things they say at this point (though Lucy is a great little parrot and often makes me wince as I hear myself coming out of her piping toddler voice when she is admonishing her sister).

I mean, look, this is one year ago this week…

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This is TWO years ago this week…

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And here’s this week…

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So this motherhood thing is good for someone like me, who’s largely un-sentimental and prone to extreme pragmatism. These little people, with their not-so-little needs, simultaneously show me the humbling depths of my selfishness and lack of patience, and rend my heart with their existence. Every child I read or hear about who is suffering, ill, or has died, is my child. Inexplicably, the only faces I can see are theirs. It’s both terrible and wonderful at the same time, in another set of paradoxes. I could never have felt such empathy or compassion for the suffering of the world before I really knew what it felt like to have something beyond measurable worth.

Hopefully, I can remember this the next time a tantrum comes roaring into my tired face, or a recalcitrant toddler refuses to listen, or a gargantuan mess of clutter taunts my expanding midsection and tired muscles. It only seems like the worst of times, but the fact that I even have these messes and inconveniences means it’s really the best of times too– I have precious lives growing and thriving right before my eyes.

 

Currently, Vol. 7

Listening:

To the rare sound of silence as both girls are simultaneously napping. Rare, as of the last week or so. You see, our dear resident 2.5 year old has been throwing some crazy curve-balls into her normally completely predictable and beautiful napping routine. This is the baby who never napped, then finally learned to sleep on her own at about a year, and from then on took about 2 two-hour naps daily until 16 months, after which time she has slept nearly 3 hours every afternoon, not just willingly but joyfully, often requesting nap time.

Until last Sunday. In the last 7 days, she took 3 total naps. Ensue hand-wringing, apocalypse-is-nigh texts to Tom every sleepless afternoon, and a general feeling that my world was crashing down. It’s safe to say my sanity rests heavily on my children’s sleep patterns.

I guess that all of the sudden she’s just an older toddler, and for some reason, her normal 12:45- 3:45 nap time of bliss isn’t working anymore (sob). The extreme and sudden sleep loss made her exceedingly peevish the last week, which meant a vicious cycle of wanting to “sleep” around 10:30 am (really just an excuse to liaison with her beloved paci [only allowed in her bed] while she fooled around in her room), scream and whine and refuse lunch, sort of agree to lay down around 1, and then never fall asleep. The handful of times she has napped, it has been much later than her previous naptime, so I’m trying to really keep her occupied with playing and activities until about 1:45 so she won’t fight her nap for hours. All I know is, she’s way too young to drop a nap altogether, and as previously mentioned, my sanity depends on it.

Eating:

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Lucy’s undying love for chicken soup, documented in this photo she asked me to take.

Lots of soups. I make a chicken soup about every other week, which both girls (but especially Lucy) really, really love. Then I use the broth to make another soup, a risotto, or whatever.

I made this Homemade Instant Noodle Bowl for lunch (with rice) and it was awesome. We also make this frequently and this too (add cheddar cheese!).

I’d like to start making more of our snacks as opposed to buying them but…y’know. Ideal vs. reality and all that.

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We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

We did finally bake the requisite fall pumpkin muffins

Planning:

September and October have officially been the craziest, busiest months for us, with every weekend booked. That is typical I guess, with the new school year for Tom and the thousands of extra tasks it entails for him (multiple back-to-school nights, tons of parent meetings, tons of student advisory meetings, first progress reports and the inevitable insane parent fall-out…ahem…concern, Open House, etc). Glad to be done with these months. Also glad to see a much emptier November calendar so far.

But we still try to sneak in small family "adventures" and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

But we still try to sneak in small family “adventures” and outings, like this pre-grocery shopping visit to the newly opened gluten-free bakery down the street.

Gestating:

A 24 week baby. About to buy this. Thinking about investing time in doing yoga stretches. Avoiding bending over as much as possible, which isn’t really realistic with two toddlers who leave a trail of clutter behind them at all times.  Finding that napping is pretty much never an option since they girls now are back on opposite sleeping schedules for the most part and I just can’t do a 15 minute nap (it would take me at least that long to even fall asleep). Feeling lots of kicks and rolls and the occasional weird elbow scraping (it is such a weird feeling. And uncomfortable. Lena was the queen of doing that in utero).

Clicking:

Before You Even Ask from Barista Mommy. Couldn’t have said it better!

And a sweet gum ad (I know, but just watch), which reminded me I’m pregnant, as it made me tear up.

And that’s all I’ve got time for, since it’s now two days after I started this, and Lena is waking up from her nap. I’ll leave you with a very mild example of Lena’s new favorite skill: self-feeding-whether-you-like-it-or-not-Mom!

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Love That Grows: How Kids Change Marriage

A Love that Grows

Like most almost-married women, I was hyper-focused on my wedding in the months and weeks leading up to the Big Day. The dress, the details of our nuptial Mass, the centerpieces, the photo shoot, all of it. And of course, more importantly, I was all about the man I was head-over-heels for and with whom I absolutely could not wait to begin life.  I had also read the best Catholic literature to prepare myself for the vocation, so in an intellectual way, I knew– married life is about merging two totally different individuals and learning to live as one, and then eventually giving of yourselves to the children you bring forth together. Bam. We were going to do this!

But, oh boy, were the ideas and the reality two very different things! We got pregnant right away, and so fairly quickly, we have seen all these truths play out in our marriage. The cranky babies, the (many) sleepless nights, the multiple little tasks that take up the days and weekends. It became our new reality. I would look at our beautiful wedding photos and think, “Wow, look at us! So unaware of how much life was about to change!”

Sometimes it seems like a bitter pill to swallow. What happened to the spontaneity of our dating and engaged days? The times when we could just decide in the morning to make a day trip, returning late at night? When we could just sleep in on the weekends to make up for all the late nights and busy days at work? Now, if we stay up too late, we sure pay for it the next day, and sleeping in is never an option with a baby and a toddler around. We have to plan our outings and adventures around nap and meal times, or risk the Over-tired and Hungry Toddler Monsters (and don’t even talk to me about road trips!). I look at our married friends without kids and am tempted to think they have it easier. I almost want to tell our engaged friends to have fun while they can, because marriage and kids change your lives so radically.

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Those may be true statements, but they aren’t the whole picture. Despite the hard work and the bone-tiredness that comes with parenting, I would argue that more is gained than is lost. Yes, my husband and I had fun in the time before kids, but the good times didn’t just stop when the babies came around. Every day, if we decide to see it, we have proof of our love running around the house. They’re funny and adorable and utterly unique. Because they’re human, they can also be exasperating and flummoxing and try our very souls. They have stretched us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. They have made us laugh together, countless times, and caught us totally unawares with the beauty of their innocence.

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I know I loved my husband before we were married, and more so after we said our vows. But after pregnancies, childbirths, and then the day-to-day craziness of raising children together, I can definitely say I love him even more. He takes the kids on weekend mornings so I can catch a few more minutes of sleep. He works long hours, picks up extra jobs, so I can stay home and we can live in comfort. He gets down on the floor to play with our girls, reads book after book, and wants to know all the details of what they did during the day when he’s at work. I could go on and on. Our marriage has changed since children, and it will continue to do so, but I’m beginning to realize what a privilege it is to make your husband a father. These many sacrifices inherent in the early years of raising babies are paving the road of our marriage together. By making me a mother, he’s helping make me a much better person, as all my multitude of selfishness is being chipped at, day by day (and night by night).

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I could never have imagined on our wedding day and the days that followed what our life together would become. But I do know that saying a whole-hearted, reckless, come-what-may “yes” to having children has been integral to the growth of our love. We have learned to trust each other more, and to lean on each other, hard, when times get rough. We have learned to ask for help and to accept the help lovingly offered. We have learned, and are still learning, to find more ways to die to ourselves so that our other half might have it just a little easier. And we’ve come to realize, in a way we never could have before kids, how precious and refreshing time alone together is. So maybe instead of feeling a twinge of envy at our childless and engaged friends I can tell them with total honesty not to be afraid of having kids; if you let it, it could be the best thing that happens to your marriage.

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Babymooning Like Pros

We snuck away last weekend for a little 24 hour babymoon. If you can, you should really always try to do a little getaway without kids, before the next is born. It’s so refreshing to get ready in the morning without worrying about diapers and strapping little shoes. It’s also nice to drive around (or even get lost) without risking the wrath of car-seat-bound toddlers. We’re now pros at babymooning. The first time was a 2-day whirlwind NYC trip, from which we returned to no kids, so the whole idea is laughable, now. The second time was a countryside wine/B&B escape, pretty much the epitome of relaxation.

For this auspicious third baby, we chose to explore Baltimore, which is only about an hour away, and filled with numerous free places and activities. We were planning to come home late and spend the night at home, but then my sister-in-law’s very generous parents gave us a free hotel night on their points. Soooo nice. And in case you ever find yourself in Charm City, here’s what we did in roughly 24 hours:

  • We intended to spend about 2 hours in the Walters Art Museum, which has one of the biggest Ancient artifacts exhibit in the country, BUT it was closed just for that day for a gala set-up. Of course. We were pretty bummed, but I guess it gave us more time to see other things slowly. So we visited the first Cathedral in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is filled with early Catholic American historical significance. And it was beautifully remodeled on its 200th anniversary a few years ago.

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  • Explored the downtown area of Baltimore, where the annual half/full marathon was going on, the very one I ran five years ago. I was definitely glad to be on the other side of the sidewalk, especially since just walking for long periods made my round ligaments ache like craaaaazy. We did walk about 8 miles over the course of the day to my credit, which is about 7 miles more than my daily quota.
  • Got lunch at Lexington Market, which was interesting, crowded, and infernally hot. Tom kept grabbing my arm, because he was afraid I was going to get mugged or something. Once we got out and stopped sweating, we ate gyros (made by Koreans), and watched the runners go by. The people of Baltimore sure know how to encourage a runner (I loved having them cheer us on when I ran, and pretty much was equally entertained watching them this time around). Then we got some really delicious and expensive lattes at Dooby’s, where I rested my ligaments for a while, and we steeped in the hipster ambience.

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  • Tried to park near Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site, but it was a zoo. Ended up driving around the same three blocks, three times, over 45 minutes. We’re really good at directions. We both laughed at how much that would’ve bothered us while we were dating/engaged, but how now it was no biggie at all, since there were no screaming banshees sweet girls in the car.
  • Finally drove down to Little Italy, where we got pretty amazing “chip n dip” cannoli at the famed Vaccaro’s pastry cafe. It’s basically a container of broken cannoli shells and a big scoop of cannoli filling to dip them into. Perfect afternoon snack, worth the long wait in line.
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Image via vacarrospastry.com

  • Lazed around the hotel room and rested the ole ligaments some more.
  • Walked around the beautiful Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point before our dinner at Mezze Cafe, where we ordered far too many tapas plates. I wish we had come to Fell’s Point earlier in the day (before sunset) so we could’ve had more time to explore. The cobblestone streets and historic town homes were gorgeous.

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And then collapsed early in the huge bed to watch some Harry Potter and read from our current read-aloud. We finished up our babymoon the next morning with perfectly light and chewy Belgian waffles at Miss Shirley’s and Mass in Little Italy. Then sped off to pick up our little munchkins from my parents’, where we found that they hadn’t missed us for one second and would rather stay with Nana and Papa, thank you very much.

And that’s that– an amazing 24 hours of good food, uninterrupted conversation, and more exercise than I’ll get the rest of the pregnancy (kidding! Maybe…)

Five Favorite Books and Apps for Praying (when you’re short on time)

Time in adoration or silent prayer is definitely a luxury in this stage of life. It was always so easy to just stop by an adoration chapel after work or schedule a weekly holy hour when I was single and before the kids were born. Now, it’s a pretty heroic effort to even bring the girls to a daily mass on my own (my general strategy is: camp out in the back, because that is where you’ll end up in .2 seconds anyway, and decide who needs to be chased after most immediately. Then thank the Lord that daily mass is 25 minutes long and wish that Sunday mass could be the same!). Still, there are a couple of tools that I really like for fitting in prayers on a (mostly) daily basis, more than just the usual desperate cries to heaven for divine assistance to get through the dayFive Favorite Books and Appsfor Praying(Photo Credit: Inside St Francis Xavier Cathedral via photopin (license))

Blessed is She

This is a wonderful email ministry that sends you the daily readings, accompanied by a short reflection. It’s the easiest way to get in the daily readings.

Small Steps for Catholic Moms by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss

Each day’s short saint quote, reflection, and call to action take about 3 minutes to read. A great little shot of inspiration to the day!

Magnificat App (and the printed version, too)

I’ve had a subscription to the monthly missal on and off in the past, and I really love it. Daily readings, reflection, morning and night prayer, saints. The app is great too, and if one of you has the print subscription, you can use their email/account on multiple devices. It’s also a very visually beautiful app, much like the print version.

Handbook of Prayers ed. by James Socias

This is a really great prayer book that has all the basics, the parts of the Mass, a ton of different devotions, novenas, etc, etc!  I have not yet plumbed its depths. But what I do love are the two pages that have the morning offering and about 5 other really short prayers that are perfect for starting the day. A bonus is that many of the prayers are also in Latin across from the English.

Catholic Short Prayers app

I just downloaded the Lite version, which is limited, obviously, but still has quite a number of old-school short aspirations, or really quick little prayers to say (and I do mean quick, like, “Jesus, save!” or “Come, Holy Spirit.” and a few other slightly longer ones). The full version also allows you to set reminders and alarms to say prayers.

What are your favorite books, apps, etc, for quick prayers or meditations?

Linking up at Jenna’s for Five Favorites!

Affiliate Disclosure: The Amazon links are affiliate, meaning I get a tiny percentage if you click through my link and then buy something on Amazon. Our savings account thanks you!

Currently, Vol. 6

Pounding this out as quick as I can, since the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and I’ve got some restless natives on my hands!

01. Celebrating: 

We found out the gender of the new baby on Saturday! And also bestowed a name upon him/her, so that Lucy’s mind can be put to rest. It was fun to bring home cake pops of the appropriate color to surprise the girls and Tom (who sadly had to stay home with them, and thus miss the gender-reveal sono for the first time). If you want to know, just shoot me an email! It’ll be mum on the blog for all the relatives who want to be surprised!

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Tom tries to decipher the gender based on the picture alone…hence the confusion…

We also had a great little Michaelmas feast last week, with a roast chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and a dragon cake! Followed two days later by a French-ish celebration for St. Therese (crepes with sausage, spinach, cream cheese and Rosé for the adults). Lots of great October feast days to celebrate!

02. Watching:

Arthur and George on PBS. If you don’t necessarily love mystery (ahem) but you do love literary characters in movies with a dash of mystery thrown in, this will be up your alley. It’s about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his foray into real-life detective work.

Downtown Abbey: Final Season! I can’t wait to see how they wrap up the show. Perhaps I will go back to Season 1 (the best, best, best) during the long winter/post-partum phase of life.

I’ve also been craving a complete re-watch of Harry Potter from the beginning. There’s something very autumnal about the movies, and pumpkin pasties+butterbeer whilst watching curled on the couch in blankets sounds delightful.

03. Reading:

Ida Elisabeth by Sigrid Undset. Obscure book by the famed novelist. I just started it for my book club, and already love it. That woman could write! It’s also her only novel NOT set in the medieval period (it takes place in the 1930s) which is different and interesting.

04. Wearing:

Well, apparently the hurricane for us meant that we skipped the normal fall temperatures and went straight to winter last week. We’ve been wearing long-sleeves, sweaters, slippers, fuzzy footed jammies (well, the girls) and rain coats.

Since I’m now dressing me plus the bump, I’m loving these maternity jeans from Gap (which actually came in petite! Glory! And were on super sale), some awesome leggings from my last Stitch Fix (again, actually short enough for me), and lots of tunics and ruched tees.

(We’ve also had to turn the heat on, which seems absurd for the first few days of October, but it has been chilly...)

05. Praying for:

Our little cousin Liam is undergoing radiation right now. Keep him in your prayers! The great and wonderful news that I forgot to share last month, is that his tumor is completely gone now! We are so thankful and continue to pray for him!

06. Clicking:

I was so excited to see this article and will definitely be bringing it with me to my (upcoming, not-yet-scheduled, why-is-October-so-crazy) hair appointment!

This is from last month, but is such a great article, about the difficult and trying side of practicing NFP when it involves prolonged abstinence. I’m really glad this aspect of NFP is getting some attention! Everyone who is faithfully committed to practicing NFP would love to have a little more support and less sugar-coating, I think.

I’m re-reading this article by a Jewish Rabbi, the transcript of a talk he gave last year at the marriage colloquium in Rome.

07. Planning for:

Much like September, October is shaping up to be an insanely busy month, with every weekend booked: birthday parties, a babymoon(!), dinner dates, and a wedding! We were really hoping to take the girls to a pumpkin patch and apple picking, but I’m not sure when we’ll fit that in, especially if the weather keeps up the chill and rain. Here’s hoping for sunnier fall days!

Linking up with Kelly for her Link-toberfest! Here’s the link to my very first quick takes post, from July 2013 while we were in Rome!

Pregnancy Q&A’s

Whew. Well now that this is finally out there on the internets…I can finally talk about it!

For Want of Wonder

(I’d also like to give props to our mossy, moldy, uneven bricks for lending some artsy photo cred to this shot…)

This feels like the longest time to hold back the news from the internet, since we have known from the very, very beginning (unlike, ahem, with Magdalena), but man it’s hard to think of creative ways to announce your third pregnancy in three years.

And every single time I tried to take a selfie with the girls in it for something sisterly and sibling-ish, it just…never worked:

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Outtake 1

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…and 2…

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…and you get the idea.

It’s great to see all the congratulations from everyone, and I so appreciate all of the good wishes! Still, inquiring minds want to know, so I’m going to preemptively answer all the questions you may have (many of which I’ve already gotten in real life):

Was this planned? Are you surprised?

As planned as these things can be! And no. Not surprised in the least.

How far apart are Lena and the baby going to be?

19 months, pretty much exactly. (Lucy and Lena are 15 months apart).

Don’t you hope it’s a boy?

Yeah, sure, if just to use some of the awesome male names we’ve accrued over the years! And out of curiosity as to what our boys will look like. But if not, we know we at least make pretty dang cute little girls!

Are you finding out the sex?

Yep, we are. We are, thus far, just finder-outers. I keep saying, “When we have both girls and boy(s)…” but I think in reality I just really like knowing.  It helps my overly-logical personality connect to the baby as more of a person and less of a project. I like the sense of order and control (knowing we have the right color and type of clothing, blankets, etc), and narrowing down and trying out the names. And this time around, Lucy desperately wants to know, “What’s the baby named??” so we will most likely name him or her so that Lucy (and Lena) can really get used to this new little person who’ll be joining the family.

Are you ready?

Ha, well, let’s see. Physically, sort of.  (If it’s a boy, he doesn’t have a stitch of gender-appropriate clothing, and he will probably be swaddled in floral and heart-printed blankets. Also, we’re going to need a new place for the baby to sleep since Magdalena effectively broke our co-sleeper last year).

Mentally, are you ever? Lucy will be about to turn 3, and Lena will be just over 1.5, so I’m sure it will be crazy town for several months (or years). My potty-training efforts with Lucy are s l o w going, so I am resigning myself to the three-in-diapers fate for a while. And cloth at that, after the first month.

But, the girls are starting to sort of play together in less aggressive ways, and I’m confident that Lena will have amassed a vocabulary beyond her current 10 words by then, so perhaps her screaming quota will go way down? I’m also really hoping that Lucy will finally decide to drink milk from a sippy cup or regular cup so that we can get rid of her bottles (ironically, she’s the one with the paci obsession and drinking milk from a bottle, neither of which her younger sister does). I’m not even going to attempt to break her of the paci habit, since she really loves it to unwind/fall asleep, and she knows she is only allowed to use it in her room.

Really though, those things are kind of not huge deals so I figure we’ll take everything as it comes, and pray for a lot of grace.

 

Are you tired?

Very. Thankfully Lena started sleeping through the night (with forced night-weaning. Had to do it.) when I was about 8 weeks along and at the worst part of the 1st trimester, so that’s helped. I’m also the smallest I’ve been in any pregnancy so if nothing else that is testimony to the energy I burn chasing toddlers and eating on the fly. As usual, not really working out (though I keep resolving to!) and eating snacks every 2-3 hours, and trying hard to remember my prenatal vitamin more than once/week. So I’m aiming to be better at getting to bed at a decent time, and if someone can have a heart-to-heart with Lena about waking up after the sun’s risen and/or after 7:00 AM, that’d be great.

All things considered, we’re very blessed and excited. Also, tiny baby kicks just never get old!

 

 

Ready for Fall (goodbye September!)

What’s up, world? We’re just over here, doing our usual, and getting a little a lot excited for fall’s recent tip-toe into our neighborhood. (Does anyone else get inordinately pumped about switching out most of the summer wardrobe for fall’s?? Or is that just me?).

I feel that over the last couple weeks, we’ve finally reached the point where our daily lives have some semblance of a predictable rhythm. Since Lena has officially and forevermore dropped her morning nap (for better or worse), it means we can actually have a bit of a schedule.

It’s nice to know we wake up at roughly the same time every morning, give or take 15-20 minutes, have the whole morning for breakfast, clean-up, second breakfast (Lena), and outside time or a short outing somewhere before the lunch/nap flurry. And since Lena’s only napping once, the girls’ naps overlap almost all the time now, which is the game-changer. I think the hardest thing about two little ones is having one go down to nap and the other one wake up 20 minutes later, leaving you in a deeply desperate place of no time alone whatsoever. So this is nice. And then the afternoons are good for walks, more outside play, or whatever the girls like to do in terms of destroying playing inside. I won’t go into the Witching Hour that follows, but I’m happy to emerge every evening with (most of) my sanity intact and something edible to serve for dinner.

For the end of our summer, before Tom had to return to work and the craziness that is September for teachers, we did a few fun summery family things like…

A humid afternoon in Georgetown, where we took the girls to the park where we got engaged

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Still got the fat rolls on her thighs. Love it! And check out what the humidity does to those curls!

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Not sure Lucy understood our explanation of, ‘This is the gazebo where Daddy asked Mommy to marry him…” etc.

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What a difference 3.5 years makes!

A couple of local nature centers, replete with as many turtles, frogs, snakes and even OWLS a toddler could possibly want:

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A lot of popsicles and outside play:

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Her favorite spot: INSIDE the flower bed…

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And some sisterly bonding over breakfast:

For Want of Wonder

Curls+jammies+love

And after tragically/stupidly forgetting to reserve some sourdough starter a few weeks ago before making my loaves, we went a few weeks with no homemade bread. The stuff is so, so delicious, and I’d managed to keep my starter alive and thriving for over 1.5 years. Thankfully, I’d given a stranger in my farm coop some extra a few months ago, and she paid it forward/back by giving me back some of her extra. All is now right with the kitchen again.

For Want of Wonder

What I’m Reading

It’s been awhile since my last quick review of recent reads…oops. Let’s hope I can remember what I read/what they were about/who I liked ’em…

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I’ve gotta say first off that I only had to wait a couple weeks on the wait list at our small, local (city) library. I’m currently still about #180 (not kidding!) on our county system.

Anyway, it’s the worth the wait, because this book is fascinating and absolutely gripping. Sounds weird, when it’s an annotated biography of a girl growing up in the late 1800s midwest, but it just is. If I could always learn about history like this, I’m convinced I’d remember 95% more of it than I normally do. I actually haven’t read The Little House series in oh, about 18 years, but remember enough of the series for this to be even more interesting, since there are many aspects in the novel that are based on real events, but fictionalized, either lightly or heavily. This is the real story, and who doesn’t love getting that? The footnotes are right on the page, and are extensive, which normally I find irritating, but these were so useful and helpful in fleshing out the historical context for Laura’s narrative.

Highly recommend for lovers of American history, and The Little House series.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This one’s been on my To-Read List for ages. I’m so glad I finally had the chance to read it. It is beautifully written, and Berry does a masterful job taking on the character and voice of a woman, reminiscing about her entire life in her old age. There were many passages that actually reminded me of The Little House on the Prairie, since Hannah was growing up on a farm, and she and her family had to work really hard to make their living on the land. The book explores relationships, loss, the ties of family and place, living and working the land, and growing up in a rapidly changing world.

Highly recommend if you love The Little House series, Willa Cather novels, Kristin Lavransdatter, and American history.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer

Just a little fun reading to prep for homeschooling in about 2.5 years…ha! This is a hefty tome, and a great resource. I read most of the beginning chapters which focus on what classical education is, as well the first couple chapters on teaching the early years. This will be a one I’m sure I will buy aw we really start planning in earnest. There are good book-lists, and tons and tons of resources listed as well.

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock

I borrowed this as an e-book and read it in about 45 minutes, so it’s not a heavyweight, and it is slightly dated. But there were some good ideas and step-by-step guides for doing Montessori-esque activities with your preschooler at home. There are also some pages in the back that you can copy and use to make worksheets, activities, etc. It’s a good book if you want to add a little low-key structure to your preschooler’s day without going crazy (many of the activities center around normal, day-to-day household chores and activities).

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden

I guess I was on a Godden kick this summer. This novel wasn’t nearly as good as all her others I’ve read, and I definitely didn’t fly through it. It’s a coming-of-age story (never my favorite genre) of a young English girl, who is spending the summer in a French seaside hotel. I didn’t really like any of the characters, the ending was extremely dissatisfying, and there were copious passages of untranslated French dialogue that were tough even to figure out via context. Annoying.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading, or if you’ve ready any of the books here!