Garden, Summer Cocktails, and Chores (SQT)

Just catching my breath between the craziness of May and the end of the school year (when one is married to a teacher; we don’t even have any kids IN school. Can’t imagine that combo!) and the start of Grad School Year 2…tomorrow!

  1. The weather here has finally gotten really hot and humid and summery. I suddenly got the burning desire to grow beautiful flowers in our gardens, which have been hit-or-miss as far as veggies the last 2 years. My dream is one of those magical English cottage gardens, you know, like so… (never mind we’re minus the actual thatched cottage part…)

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A girl can dream, right?! Anyway, we did order a bunch of old-fashioned heirloom flowers in that style, planted them yesterday and are hoping for the best! In the meantime we do have a couple squashes and cilantro in front doing well, beans coming up, a volunteer cucumber (so random!), reliable zinnias and cosmos about to bloom, the hilltop hydrangea bursting forth, and we’re harvesting our cauliflower (they are disgustingly FILLED with these tiny slimy caterpillars…does anyone have any tips for preventing/cleaning them?!).

It’s hard to take the yard/garden little by little when we have all.the.plans! to fix it at once. But, since we have neither the time nor the funds to do it that way, little by little it is. A hill weed-whacked there, a section of vine-and-weed-covered undergrowth pulled up here, and eventually, we’ll have a yard we actually like to look at/be in. We still need some ideas for shade-loving or tolerant bushes and ground cover (other than hostas and ferns!) so we’re all ears if you have recommendations!

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2. I took the girls to a local meadow/botanical garden (well, it’s over 90 acres, so “garden” seems a paltry term), on an absolutely beautiful day this week, and got a lot of inspiration (and a lot of exercise!)

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3. It struck me a few weeks ago that we absolutely MUST have a go-to summer cocktail recipe in the house. I’m all about drinking wine 90% of the time, but something about the temperature rising just makes a chilled cocktail sound way more inviting. I did a lot of (obviously very important!) research on just such a go-to easy cocktail recipe, with my main criteria being ease of prep (no shaking, straining, etc), and all ingredients we’d pretty much keep on hand (so no special syrups, mixers, or impossible to pronounce liquers). I didn’t really find much, to be honest, but then I got some little lime-flavored tonic waters at TJs and when mixed with a shot of vodka and fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice, it is the very thing I was hoping for. Super refreshing, citrusy, and so easy! But, still open to any other summer cocktail recipes!

4. In an effort to a) make our house slightly less ruled by crumb and clutter and b) build responsibility and good habits, I’m starting to hand off some of my annoying little tasks that are coincidentally things they can definitely manage, at 4 and a month shy of 3, respectively. (Maeve is actually capable of tiny things too, like putting her dirty clothes in the hamper and picking up toys with us, which is an enthusiastic and often less-than-helpful endeavor). Not surprisingly, children are capable of much more than we either think they are or are willing to ask of them. So, the older two got colorful little laundry baskets (thanks, Dollar Tree!) and they are completely in charge of putting away all their clean laundry. They both do that well and usually get all the clothes in the right drawers, and I am not held hostage by clean, folded, not-yet-put-away laundry. Lucy either mini-vacs or does a little sweeping after breakfast and Lena clears all the dishes from the table. Eventually, they will do those jobs after dinner, too, but we’re starting small. Either way, it helps me move on to finishing the breakfast dishes so that the whole lower level doesn’t look like a disaster the next time we walk downstairs. Also gets me excited for completely handing over cleaning the kitchen over by the time they’re 8 or 9….I hope!

5. Up till this week, the weather’s been pretty good to us: park and ice cream dates with cousins, a trip to the park in Georgetown where Mommy and Daddy got engaged (with an obligatory and cranky shot in “the spot”), and tons and tons of outdoor play.

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6. Speaking of getting out of the house with these kids, I have literally gotten comments from strangers every.single.time. I am thinking of making a little drinking game which I play after I get home, of course. A drink for every time I hear any of the following:

“Are they all yours?!” (the most popular one by far lately!)

“Are they twins?”

“You didn’t get a boy?”

“…how close in age/what’s the age difference/BUT THEY’RE SO CLOSE IN AGE!”

“Wow, you have your hands full!”

Heh, I don’t know if it’s just because I’m just more able to get us out of the house a lot more often this year or because of the very different hair colors, but wow, it’s so funny (and getting really old and predictable!)

7. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and is gearing up for a fun summer!

(Linking up these seven random thoughts way late with Kelly!)

Seven Recent Reads/Shows

It’s Friday!! And I’m gearing up for a solo weekend with the girls while Tom flies to his younger brother’s graduation. I will readily admit how wimpy I am about solo parenting, but, armed with a lot of coffee and a bottle of wine, I should be just fine, and I will choose not to care about the state I’m sure the house will be in by the time Tom returns. Also, perspective is everything, right– all I need to do is think about this mom of QUAD babies (!) and/or watch an episode of Victorian Slum House when things are getting bad and life will suddenly seem rosy!

Like I said the other day, one of the best parts about less social media has been a lot more reading. It actually is the perfect antidote to all the crazed distraction that smartphone use breeds: you have to sit in one spot while you read, you have to actually focus on ALL the words on the page if you actually want to follow the story or the thought, there are no distracting images (well, beautiful picture books excepted), and you have no chance of clicking over to an entire other story/post/whatever and thus losing the original story thread you picked up.

So I thought I’d tap out a few highlights of what I/we have read in the last 7 months or are currently reading, but also some good stuff we’ve watched. (Is it just me, or are the streaming options lately just abysmal?!?).

Books (links are affiliate!)

1.Till We Have Faces– C.S. Lewis

This was a reread for me for book club, but it is a story that is so well-crafted and sticks with you.

2. The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

I could not believe Tom hadn’t read this yet, so I made him read it with me over the winter. I consider it required reading for 21st century Catholics. Greene pretty much mastered the portrayal of the struggling sinner who is nonetheless called to do something beyond himself. If you like Brideshead Revisited, you must read this!!

3. Consider This by Karen Glass

This is a really wonderfully written and accessible book explaining how Charlotte Mason fits into the sphere of classical education. (I told you I’ve been totally geeking out on education lately!). Even if you have no interest in Charlotte Mason or classical education (though I strongly recommend you look into her work if you’re in the education/homeschool world), this will be very inspiring just on teaching, learning, and education in general.

Shows

4. A Serious of Unfortunate Events (Netflix). This goes under Funny, Well-Acted, Well-Produced. It was just really fun to watch, the cast is perfect, and we are really looking forward to the next season.

5. To Walk Invisible (PBS). We were reading Wuthering Heights together when we watched this, so it was apropos. It was hard to understand, what with the accents, but was fascinating (and depressing in some ways) to see how the Bronte sisters developed into the most famous sisterly band of writers.

6. The Crown (Netflix). We watched this when it came out, just like every other person, I’m sure. We enjoyed it overall though. Claire Foy was literally perfect as the Queen, and the story seemed to be presented accurately.

7. We have sort of started this Turkish period drama, Kurt Seyit and Sura (Netflix), but we’ll see how long we stick with it (maybe it will pick up in future episodes).

Well, that brings me to 7, and so I’ll just link-up with Kelly and the Quick-Takers here, and call it a night.

As always, tell me what you’re reading or watching (and hopefully save us some time scanning Netflix/Prim to try and find something decent!)

Coming Out of Hibernation

I guess you could say my mama bear instincts kicked up in the late fall, around which time I started realizing that far too many minutes of my time were being poured into big or little screens, scrolling through other people’s lives. So I essentially went into a social media hibernation, deleting all social media from my phone and winnowing down the blogs I read to a handful, which I subscribed to by email (is that old school now?) and deleted my blog reader app, which had essentially become another iteration of Infinite Scroll. That also meant that this space went into a deep hibernation, too, and I pretty much have zero regrets.

It’s been a really good, stretching time for me. The self-knowledge that the internet is way, way too distracting and that the temptation to escape the trials of the day is strong, was hugely valuable. I needed to declutter my mind and soul (well, still do). I really think moms living in our technological age actually have a much more difficult time being present to our families than in past generations, while at the same time being more isolated at home. Texting and commenting on Instagram are not the backbone of real friendships! While it is nice to know you can be connected to friends who don’t live close by, there’s a real temptation (especially for introverts with a passel of tiny people who can’t put on their shoes or buckle themselves in the car) to just keep it all there and not actually, you know, ever see anyone else outside your four walls.

And beyond connecting with other people, the most disheartening realization was that I was wasting away valuable and precious time with these children, while the time of their childhood races by. I intend NOT to miss it, and thus, the major step back from technology (Jenny is being way more hard-core about it and I think she is awesome!! I definitely have a long way to go still).

It turns out that real life gives you plenty to do, particularly when the baby grows into a 9-month-old who starts walking and then climbing stairs and then proceeding to become our most destruction-prone toddler yet, leaving a trail of terror crazy messes in her wake. (The list of behaviors we haven’t had to deal with till Maeve and temporary solutions to them is getting longer each day: extra gates for stairs, magnetic locks for all the cupboards, wishing there were lock solutions for all dresser drawers, moving all accessible books off of our already maxed-out bookshelf [the 3 now-empty shelves are such a sad waste!], looking into a toilet lock, looking into a freezer door lock, and considering ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones :P). Whew!

Messes by Maeve^^ (that last one she was able to enact in about 35 seconds!)

But life here isn’t all damage control, all the time (despite what it feels like to us!). I’ve found it really encouraging to notice how my taste and desire to read more has actually increased dramatically when I started taking social media (and screen time in general) off the table more. This, coupled with a really lovely arrangement we began at the beginning of the new year in which Tom insists* that I take the first half hour or so when all the kids are asleep to sit on the couch and finally pray/read/recharge, is for sure making me a better, more sane, more human person. (And in addition to reading, I’ve been loving listening to anything read by Karen Savage on Librivox (well, specifically her L.M. Montgomery and Austen collections– I got through Anne’s House of Dreams and Kilmeny of the Orchard in record time, and Mansfield Park, and currently Persuasion.).

 *This is something I think he’s been trying to have me do for…a long time. I’m just really stubborn and decided to wait till my sanity was nearly expended before realizing he was obviously right and graciously accepting his amazing offer of cleaning the kitchen whilst I pursued leisure. Pro tip: marry up!

And when I do take to the Internet, I’m trying to be a bit more careful about what I am taking in, things that will be nourishing and inspiring in my state of life, and not so much the kinds of things that just make me anxious or angry. There’s a time and place for debate and healthy disagreement (and depressing news), but the Internet just really makes a person wade through sooo much muck before getting to anything good.  So the last couple months I’ve been diving into all things education. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me; I was a teacher all the years before having kids (indeed, up to less than 24 hours before Lucy was born!). I love teaching, and education, and exploring what it means and why it matters to learn. Both the practical and the philosophical aspects. We are planning to homeschool the girls (and I say “we” purposefully because these girls happened to get two teachers for parents! Either blessed or cursed, time will tell! ;)) It’s been a real joy and hugely interesting for me, though not without plenty of, “GAHHH why was NONE of this extremely valuable information made available to me when I was going through ‘teacher education’ in college?!” moments. I’ll find myself nodding and agreeing to what I read or hear and then think about all the ways these principles or practices could have been used in my classrooms with my students.  I’m just really glad I am finding out these things now before we actually begin “formal” schooling with the girls (and much to my delight, it’s becoming very clear that we really do not need to begin anything formal until Lucy is six, so we’ve got plenty of time to let them be little!). More on all this later, I’m sure.

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I look like these days…(minus the peaceful gaze)



Motherhood
 Mary Stevenson Cassatt

(Mary Cassatt, normalizing breastfeeding before that was a hashtag!)

But for real, here we are in our yearly Fancy Garb. 

Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with normal updates of what we’re doing, reading, watching, and all that. No guarantees that it will be anything like regular posting, but for now, it’s nice to be back at long last!

Life, Sleep, and the Lack Thereof! (Catching Up!)

This is about the 7th nap failure in the past 3 days, so I’m sitting here typing on my phone while rocking the baby, who’s “nursing” in her sleep, the only way , evidently, that she will sleep these days.

But today is Sunday, and Tom is grading papers in his workshop while Lucy builds nests on the driveway (piles of leaves, branches, berries, acorns, etc) and Lena naps. On a weekday, I would have to take the crying baby, who’s woken up the second I lay her in her crib, and make sure that the toddlers aren’t getting into any mischief. I’m fairly desperate to have this baby sleep, hoping to catch her up on a really bad sleep deficit, so  I’m taking advantage of the second parent being around and letting her nap in my arms.

(Yeah, sleep regressions are terrible but I’ve come to expect them with each child and try to take the long view that she’ll soon be a normal, sleeping, older baby. And frankly when compared to the rest of the horrifying political/social/etc. events going on in the outside world, I’ll take it).

At any rate, Maeve is growing like a weed, crawling on actual hands-and-knees, and pulling up to stand, often one-handed, any chance she can. SLOW DOWN, baby, slowwww down. She has two bottom teeth and there are two more about to pop on either side [and the baby sleep experts try to tell me that teething doesn’t affect sleep….rolling eyes emoji forever]. She’s pretty fat, wearing 9-month and a lot of 12-month clothes,  waves, and of course says “Da-Da” all the livelong day. But, to be clear, only Mama will do, all the livelong day (and night).

As for the rest of us, the past six weeks have been full to bursting. Tom’s school load and schedule are the worst in September and most of October so he’s been pulling crazy long days. And then doing stuff like this on his “days off”:

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His parents came out to visit for a fun-filled and week at the beginning of the month; it was their first visit since Lucy was 2 months, and the first time the older two had seen them since Christmas 2014. Tom and his Dad did a TON of house/fixer-upper projects, not least of which is that really, really lovely light fixture in our dining room. Love it so much. Also got a new, functioning, front doorknob and a handrail going up the stairs!

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I failed epically at getting good pictures with the grandparents! But they loved walking to the park with Grandma and Grandpa!

And in the midst of the busy-ness and to-dos, we’ve been trying move onward and upwards from survival mode to thriving, to maximize our efficiency, winnow out time-sinks and bad habits and anything that isn’t enriching our lives, really. We’ve reorganized all the closets in the house, made the nursery into an actual nursery for Maeve, gotten rid of a lot of toys and baby clothes, and even my entire dresser (I can fit my wardrobe in the closet either hanging from hangers or in two sets of these shelves bolted into my closet, with a bit of overflow in my nightstand drawers).  I’ve been trying to figure out better rhythms for our days at home, what kinds of activities will both keep Lucy busy and yet not destroy our house if I need to leave her alone to try to get Maeve to sleep for the billionth time.

What I’ve been realizing increasingly over the past few weeks is that this task of mothering and running the household takes immense self-discipline on my part (yes, sheer genius, I know!). I’m the arbiter of the daily schedule, my mood sets the tone for our day, for better or for worse. If I give in to laziness or dawdling or multiple distractions, the kids act out. The baby’s nap gets ruined (ok, she also ruins it all on her own lots of the time too). The house still has massive piles of clutter and dirty floors. Every day is a struggle to determine the right balance between making our house a clean, happy place, and not stressing if the kids’ needs literally leave no time for me to shower, let alone clean the bathroom. Between industry and rest, between working on habit formation and just enjoying the littleness of the children.

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There are little things I can do to make very quotidian tasks easier and even somewhat enjoyable: pre-sort the laundry (and teach the toddlers to separate their darks and lights), insist on all the toys or previous activity to be completely put away before moving on, bake with the older girls just for fun. And then little things that make me happy and also make more sense economically and health-wise; I’ve finally started making our yogurt, since we plow through it each week, and it’s beyond easy and foolproof.  I spent a good deal of time researching ways to improve my sourdough bread baking so that I could make our bread again, without getting frustrated. Yes, they take a little more forethought in my already busy life, but they’re things I’ve decided are worth it, and worth prioritizing over others, (such as dusting more often) because for me, the process is rejuvenating and enjoyable AND the results are delicious and give something tangible for my family to enjoy.

We are all looking forward to enjoying as much of this amazing fall weather as we can, spending tons of time outdoors without getting eaten alive or sweating to death. It’s a glorious season, and it’s really amazing to have these sweet, innocent children who just enjoy things so freely, with no concept of how utterly crazy things are in the world right now. They’re the perfect antidote, really, and they teach me a lot about living in the present moment. Sleeplessness and all, we’re a lucky bunch!

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7 Books I’ve Read in the Past 7 Months

Despite the fact that I haven’t written about books since before Maeve was born, I have been reading since then! There was that lovely period of time right after she was born when I stayed in bed for awhile and Tom was home, so I got to read a lot while nursing/holding a sleepy newborn. Then followed some stretches of fussy baby waking up to the world, and far less reading, and then a bit of a crazy spring /summer, during which I was supposed to read Brothers K for book club (still working on it- halfway there!). But I’m confident that I’ll finally be able to get a lot more reading in, primarily because we moved Maeve’s crib into the nursery. So no more tiptoeing in the dark to get ready for bed, and worrying that every whisper and creak will wake her up, much less turning on a light.

Anyway, of the books I read, there were some hidden gems, some that were just ok, and a couple I won’t be rereading!

(All links are Amazon affiliate!)

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The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Where has this hidden gem been all my L.M.M.-obssessed girlhood??! This is a such a different story! Her heroine starts off as just the most awful, pitiful, mousy character, and her transformation is glorious. L.M. Montgomery shines, as she always does, in painting vivid characters, hysterical caricatures, fun plot twists, and glowing descriptions of a place that sounds heavenly. I started this shortly before having Maeve and finished it the night we brought her home. I highly recommend it, especially if you were a fangirl of Anne, Emily, Jane, Pat, and any other L.M. Montgomery series. Since the main character is just a bit older (late 20s) than most of Montgomery’s female protagonists, it especially makes great reading for a grown-up Anne fan.

Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

Willa Cather strikes again! This book is long-ish, but I had a lot of nursing sessions in late February through March! 😉 I particularly found it interesting because the main character is a plucky young girl from middle-of-nowhere Colorado who has an extraordinary singing voice and sets off to conquer the world of opera. Cather evidently did a lot of research for this one into the world of music, vocal performance, opera, etc. I really enjoyed the character development and Cather’s gift of making the settings come to life.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

I read this towards the end of college, and I remember being really struck and impressed by it and wanting Tom to read it as well. So Tom and I picked it up as our next read aloud during the winter and early spring. As you might guess from the title, it’s about an adulterous affair that has recently ended. The narrator is the man who carries on the affair, and the book moves back and forth between his memories/retelling of the entire affair; his present day depression since his lover, Sarah, has died; and Sarah’s journals that he is reading.

Let me just say that I had forgotten the intensity of this story! It explores deep and heavy issues, but it’s ultimately the story of Sarah’s response to a Greater Love than what she thinks she has with Maurice. That said, it was a much more difficult read as a married person and Greene does have some rather explicit descriptions of the affair. So it’s gritty at times, but Greene also does a really amazing job of diving into the emotions and thought processes of people who are hurting, searching, and ultimately seeking fulfillment in God. I still highly recommend it, though it isn’t exactly light and uplifting!

(Also, quick caveat: NEVER EVER watch the movie with Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. It is complete trash and misses the entire point of the book. Ugh).

Helena by Evelyn Waugh

Ah, Waugh. Such a funny, witty, smart, and engaging writer. This is a short little novel, following St. Helen’s life and journey to find the Cross of Christ. He really does such a fun job showcasing the absurdity of so many key players and events in the Roman Empire at the time with lots of tongue-in-cheek dialogue, in a really British way. Also, he wrote that this book was his own favorite of all his works, so if you love Brideshead, you need to read this one.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

This one I actually read in like, 9th grade, and promptly forgot it in its entirety. Upon re-reading it for summer book club, I’m not at all surprised. I mean, it’s Hardy. So yeah. It still was a bit ponderous to get through, even now. It was pretty good, though, once I got through all the sheep-herding explanations and demonstrations. I’m not a huge Hardy fan, but this is definitely better than his others. And then we watched the recent film adaptation with Carey Mulligan, and it was really well done: super faithful to the book, beautifully shot, and superbly acted. Bottom line: just watch it. You’ll get the story and skip all his Victorian rambling.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I never would’ve picked this up had it not been for book club. I’m really, really not a fan of Romantic writers. This story was just so not my thing, and the writing style irked the heck out of me: framing devices within framing devices within framing devices (yeah, you’re confused, right?!), overly flowery language, moralizing, etc. No thanks! That’s about all I’ve got for this one, sorry…

A Room With a View by E.M Forster

I’m no great Forster fan either but this was for summer book club. It was ok, but Forster is clearly trying to push his ideology of progress and Romanticism: good! and tradition and moral values: bad! So that was annoying. But his characters were really funny and well done, and the lush Florentine backdrop is a pleasure to take in.

Whew, well, that’s that for the late winter/spring/summer! I’ve got some good stuff waiting in the wings, but would love any additional recommendations you can throw my way!

Linking up with Queen Kelly for Seven Quick Takes!

Reclaiming Our Real Lives from Social Media: Thoughts from the CWBN Conference

If there is one insight I gained from this past summer of intensely long days and solo parenting, it is that I can easily and constantly lose myself in the distraction of two extreme opposites: a flurry of busy work or mindless consumption of social media.

They’re polar opposites at first glance, one producing the desirable (and always necessary) results of crumb-free floors, clean counters, food, folded laundry, etc, and the other of…well, nothing, really, save for seeing what other people are doing or what may be going on outside our four walls.

img_1426Dear Lucy, thanks for the stealth photography of all this in action.

Yet both of these activities offer something in common— a sense of escape, distraction, and the chance to turn, if only momentarily, from the stresses of the day, the clamor of three needy offspring, and the general malaise that comes from a chaotic or disordered environment. And both, usually, shut out the little people from my brain-space. Again, momentarily, but the more I try to distract myself from the craziness at hand, the more annoyed I get when my children (loudly) call me back to reality or interrupt whatever chore I’m working on.

Technology (especially ye olde i-devices) makes this especially tricky. I may want to “just quickly” look up my recipe/track my package/find out the outside weather, and then find myself sucked into a 15-minute hole of Instagram scrolling, blog-reading, or clicking through a rabbit trail of something or other. The lost time then only causes more anxiety as I rush back to whatever task I was trying to get done, only to have someone need something urgently! and immediately! … and then the needs, or even the little people themselves, seem to be in the way of whatever else I wanted or needed to do (rather than the other way around).

Over Labor Day weekend, I had the chance to drive out into the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for the Catholic Women’s Blogging Network Mid-Atlantic Conference. We were given a gorgeous early-Fall day, and Maeve slept perfectly on the long drive there and back. It was great to meet with like-minded women for fellowship, sharing ideas, and hearing some amazing talks about various aspects of writing and blogging. Not surprisingly, I was deeply impressed by Elizabeth Foss’s keynote talk, a woman I’ve been following in print in our local Catholic paper since I was little, and then on her blog in more recent years.

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Her main point was that, in order to write or blog well, we need to step back and start actually living our own real lives. She gently suggested pulling back from so much social media consumption, both to protect ourselves from comparison and envy, as well as to protect our children from a mother who’s living virtually in a scrolling feed— Instagramming all the moments she wants to display and then losing sight of the actual moment, happening right there.

It was so good. And really exactly what I needed to hear. I always know that I feel more at peace and just like a generally better human being when I practice self-discipline with the phone, computer, laptop, or iPad. But hearing why it was so important was a great reminder. Nobody wants to be the mom who’s glued to her phone and the virtual world, ad the expense of her children’s reality (well, I don’t anyway).`

As I’ve thought over all of this, and talked about with Tom, I realize that part of what makes this so hard, aside from ubiquitous technology, is that my day (and the days of countless other stay-at-home moms of only tiny kids and babies) has almost no real breaks in it, during which I could leisurely check- in to social media, write, check email, and otherwise connect with the outside world. To shower, I almost always have to have the baby napping and the girls watching a show. To eat a full meal, all the children have to be fully occupied with some activity or game or whatever. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc, also have to take place when everyone’s involved in something, or the baby’s sleeping and both girls are interested in doing those things with me. And the main kicker is that suddenly, I have a toddler /preschooler (depending on the moment!) who no longer naps, 95% of the time. So, my precious little slice of alone time, to do ALL THE THINGS, or even nap, is gone. Gone, gone, gone (sob).

So I can see how it was easy and almost natural for me to fall into compulsively escaping into the world on my phone, or into a flurry of housework—it’s not like there is any other time to do those things, so I may as well do it while all my kids are awake, I guess was my unconscious reasoning. I’m glad Elizabeth’s talk brought all this into my conscious thought, and I’m all ears for how other moms make or find time to do any of the things they need and want to do.

And if you have the chance to attend a CWBN Conference in your area, I highly recommend it! Thanks to Rosie for hosting on her beautiful homestead, Mary, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Ginny for their inspiring words, and the hilarious Kelly for emceeing.

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All the adorable and well-behaved babies of the conference! Lisa and I laughed at the fact that we each showed up with a totally different baby this year. 😉 Thanks to the talented Rachel Cupps for taking our head shots and these group photos.

 

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!