Blizzard Survival

It’s finally done blizzard-ing here, so after about 32 straight hours of snow from Friday through Saturday, we’re starting to get sort of dug out. We haven’t lost power (yet…) so we’ve had lots of time to read…

and play, and fort-build…

And read about what to do should I go into labor while we have 2 feet of snow on the roads and more like 4 in the drifts around the curbs and streets.  I hit 37 weeks today, so I think we’re in pretty good shape…just praying that baby comes in between snow storms.

We’re also running out of groceries, so…we’ll be sending Daddy out and hope he can make it out of the neighborhood roads (which are apparently still in bad shape).

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The walls of snow at the bottom of the driveway are even higher…

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Hope anyone in the wake of Jonas is doing well and if you’re in a different climate, then, we wish we were there!!

What I Read in 2015

What I Read in 2015

One thing I measurably improved upon this past year was starting and finishing more books. The key, for me, was balancing non-fiction with fiction: too much non-fiction, and I’d never finish what I started, leading to a pile of good but not necessarily page-turning works. Great fiction, though, helps me relax, escape life a bit (which is always nice at this stage of things!) and actually finish something for once. Oh, and joining an amazing book club has been immensely helpful, too!

Here’s what I read over the year, and my favorites are below! Many of the books I reviewed in more detail in previous posts here. 

Fiction:

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

China Court by Rumer Godden

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

The Greengage Summer by Rummer Godden

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather

Ida Elisabeth by Sigrid Undset

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather

Ward No. 6 by Anton Chekhov

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

In This House of Brede (read-aloud with Tom, third re-read for me) by Rumer Godden

Anne of the Island (multiple re-read aka comfort food) by L.M. Montgomery

Non-Fiction:

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

Stars, Stripes, and Edelweiss by Mark and Niki Kalpakgian

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

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina (still unfinished)

Catherine of Siena (read-aloud with Tom, still unfinished) by Sigrid Undset

Holiness for Housewives by Hubert van Zeller

My Top Picks:

This is tough. I can easily spot the clear and absolute losers (ahem, Winter’s Tale, ughhhh– full scathing review here). Since Tom and I just wrapped up Brede together, it’s fresh in my mind, and my word, it is so, so good (Tom fully agrees). This is my third time through it, but I haven’t read it since early college, so it was both a comfort read as well as having all sorts of surprising things jump out at me this time around. Godden is just such a fantastic fiction writer, and clearly when I like an author I tend to go on a bit of spree!

My other top fiction would probably be Hannah Coulter (see here), Shadows on the Rock, and China Court (see here).

For non-fiction, I tore through Pioneer Girl and highly recommend (here). Holiness for Housewives was excellent spiritual refreshment, and while the name sounds kind of stodgy and old-school, I think it’s actually sound advice for absolutely anyone (man or woman) who lives an active life (i.e. not living in a monastery or cloister with the job of praying all day). I’ll be re-reading it this Lent and hopefully putting it more into practice!

 I’m planning to put up my list of books to be read in 2016…a little scary since I don’t like to fail publicly, and I may not have quite as much reading time/ability to stay awake with 3 babies, but still! I love to see other people’s lists so I will get mine up soon!

(Disclosure: the links here are affiliate, meaning if you click through them and purchase anything on Amazon, I will get a couple cents at no charge to you!)

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!

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!

Rome reminiscing, Stitch Fix success, and partial unplugging (SQT)

Another long week is over. Commence lame, sleep-deprived recap…

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Right after I published all about Lena’s sleep craziness/general craziness, she took it up a notch by coming down with a weird, random, nasty-sounding cough and runny nose. Commence even worse sleeping. Poor babe, I think she’s on the mend, and I’m hoping that means she’ll stop waking up every 1-2 hours at night. Hoping hard.

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I got my third Stitch Fix last Friday and loved everything so much that I actually kept the whole box (locking in the hefty discount for doing so). The second box was an utter failure, which resulted in me angrily emailing customer service, since my stylist had put in not a single item that I had specifically asked for, nothing was weather-appropriate, and every single item was hand-wash or dry clean only, agh! Thankfully, customer service was outstanding and addressed my concerns right away, waiving the stylist fee. And then the next Fix was awesome, including a couple casual/dress-up-able shirts, shorts, the comfiest cropped pants, and a maxi skirt. If you want other people to do all your shopping and have it show up at your door, you should try it out!

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Two years ago this week, we flew to Rome with baby Lucy for a month!!

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And started this blog to document it all! I can’t believe that was two years ago. Here are some of my favorite posts from our time there:

Churches, churches, everywhere, yet not a Mass to find…

Not just a fail-blog

The cucina’s open!

Getting to Know Her

Weekend Trek

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A table for three

A table for three

Sigh. What a good time. I’m also really glad we got the chance to do that with just one, very portable, baby.

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This is not a new link, but this mash-up video of famous dance scenes from movies is super fun!

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If you are an Arrested Development fan, you will die checking this site out! 

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Tom and I are trying something new in an attempt to enforce some order into our lives. We tend to, uh, linger in the evenings instead of getting to bed when we should, and the number one distraction is, of course, the world wide web. There’s just always one more article, one more blog, one more cute picture on Facebook, ya know? So here’s the genius and complicated plan Tom thought up to solve our problem:

Flip the switch at 9 PM. Literally. Our router’s plugged into a socket connected to a light switch, so at 9 the plan is to just turn it off. And then I turn it back on in the morning when Tom leaves for work, so he’s not tempted to check school email before he even gets to school.

It’s pretty freeing actually, and shows how pathetically plugged-in we are. Hopefully this means we’ll also read more and watch less.

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Happy Fourth of July!

Cutest fan

Lucy circa July 2014 (Lena now wears this outfit!)

Linking up at Kelly’s!

 

Currently, Vol. 4

Happy Friday!

(1) Celebrating:

The birth of our new nephew, Leo!! We cannot wait to meet him this weekend.

The end of the school year for Tom! Well, sort of. It’s the end of classes and his daily shirt/tie uniform, but he’ll be going to school with basically the same hours as he preps and runs his summer camps. Then come August he’ll be done done. 🙂

(2) Watching:

People, Gran Hotel is back! We have been showing great restraint by only watching 2 episodes at a time. It’s terribly over-the-top at times, and unfortunately there seem to be a few more racy scenes than previous seasons, but it’s still so well done. And there are some great face slaps, por supuesto. 

We have the final episode tonight and then after that, we’ll be searching for something good to start. If you have any suggestions from Netflix or Amazon Prime, let us know!

(3) Doing:

Well, not much, unfortunately, because it has been raining NON-STOP the last four days and has also been really chilly! Ugh. I will take the humidity over the perma-cloud any day. It’s giving Lucy a bit of cabin-fever driven naughtiness, and I can’t say I blame her. I, too, would want to sprinkle cinnamon all over the counter/floors if I couldn’t play outside for days, or tip over my humidifier and soak my freshly vacuumed carpet.

(4) Gardening:

Ok, at least our newly planted gardens are enjoying all this rain. We took an entire Saturday three weeks ago and dug out the three raised beds in the front yard and the brick garden box in front of the kitchen window (and when I say we, I mean Tom did 98% of the work. I sowed the seeds and watered, and generally kept the children fed and watered.).

Sadly, the stupid deer or rabbits or squirrels have already taken the opportunity to eat off, entirely, two of our four cucumber sprouts, bits of our tomato plants, and large chunks of the squash sprouts. SO annoying. I’m thinking we’ll have to net them in. So far, the basil, parsley, and rosemary seedlings are doing great in the window-front bed. I see lots of pesto in our future…

(5) Praying for:

Continuing to pray for little Liam, who has had 3 surgeries so far. Please join us in praying he will receive the right treatment and get better!

Praying for (and SO excited for!) Anna and Angela, whose Lourdes trip is just around the corner!!

(6) Clicking:

Our friend Hannah’s gorgeous photos and posts from France…it really helps when everything is looking so icky around here…

I really enjoyed reading this essay about Brideshead Revisited in the print magazine. Makes me want to re-read it!

And I’ve now listened to this at least thrice, because I find it so fascinating!  A Quick Lesson on Southern Linguistics

(7) And now for some (unrelated) recent baby pics!

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During sunnier times...

During sunnier times…

And that’s seven…linking up at This Ain’t the Lyceum for SQT.

Currently, Vol. 3

Praying For:

We are storming heaven for my dear cousin’s little baby. He is a few weeks older than Magdalena and was just diagnosed last week with a large brain tumor. My heart hurts incredibly when I think of my cousin and her husband, watching their tiny boy go into surgery (twice now) and all the uncertainty and fear in this situation. I just cannot imagine. Please, please, please join us in praying for little Liam.

Celebrating:

My sister graduated from college! We journeyed out to my alma mater two weekends ago to witness the event (over a tv screen in the adjoining student center). I can’t believe she’s already done.

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Nappers gonna nap when graduation is during nap time.

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Magdalena entertains herself as we wait to watch Anna get her diploma on the screen

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The lovely grad and silly niece

Was it five years ago that I was in her (smaller sized) shoes? Anyway, she’s about to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes with our cousin, Angela. If you can, please consider making a donation to facilitate their trip with the medical pilgrimage team. She’s also leaving next week to begin a two year missionary teaching/grad program in Memphis in an inner-city Catholic school. We will miss her but are so proud! She will be an amazing middle school teacher.

We also celebrated Tom’s birthday last Friday with dinner at our favorite pizza place down the road and had their home-made lemon doughnuts with Nutella whipped cream, instead of cake. And then none of his presents had arrived yet (they finally did yesterday. Let it be known that he ordered them himself and took a looong time deciding…) BUT my first Stitch Fix had, so we had fun opening the box and seeing what clothes worked. I highly recommend trying it out if you need new clothes but hate going out shopping. It was painless to fill out the style profile and the stylist did a fantastic job catering to my tastes and needs. Price and sizing were the only issues. We kept 2 out of the 5 items and have another one scheduled to come next month. (The link above is my referral link which gives me a $25 credit if anyone orders through it, fyi).

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Playing:

It’s HOT here. Humid, upper 80s/90s, how-can-this-be-May, hot. But we still try to get outside as much as we (I) can stand it. A baby pool will be making its way to our front yard ASAP.

The girls are both also really enjoying some new-to-us outside play stuff, donated by a family moving away. It does kind of make our front patio/yard look a bit like an ongoing yard sale, but we’re not in the running for Best Lawn anyway, so who cares. (Oh, probably our elderly neighbors with the all-seeing eyes who have noted every move of our existence in this house since the day we moved in and are currently calculating the dip in their property value due to our plastic kid toys and non-uniform grass). But the kids are having fun!

See?!

See?! Lucy ecstatically rides in the see-saw “hairplane” on my parents’ deck before we transported it to our yard

Clicking:

This is just the coolest video. The makeup artistry is unbelievable. And how crazy/fun would it be to see what your spouse or future spouse will look like wayyyy down the road?!

How to Drink Like a Saint— great thoughts!

Eating:

I’ve been using Pinterest a lot for recipe ideas. Here are a few of my recent favorites, in case you’re anything like me and your brain turns to mush the minute you sit down to meal plan:

One Pot Cheesy Chicken Taco Rice (subbed in ground beef from our freezer stock)

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Baked Honey Garlic Chicken

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

(Anything that is one-pot or slow cooker is highly preferable to me these days).

Considering:

A “No Soliciting” sign for the door, since I was just rudely interrupted by a knock on the door. We get sooo many people knocking on the door offering free estimates for every possible type of home repair, financial planning, yard work, etc. They are exceedingly pushy.

This sign spells it out a bit and is basically how we feel, especially during a) nap time (there are the aforementioned toys/trikes/balls in the yard. It’s the early afternoon. Are you daft?) or b) dinnertime. We need all hands on deck to feed our small pack of hungry wolf cubs, let alone ourselves. Ain’t nobody got time to answer the front door and listen to your spiel.

So go away.

Hope you are having a lovely and less-humid week.