It’s July?!

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

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

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

 

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

 

Father’s Day BBQ…

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Babies in the Garden {p,h,f,r}

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

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

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

Next, the raised beds:

 

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

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

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

And of course, we’re still growing these:

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

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

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Preparing for the sprinkler to pass over…

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

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

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

Hope you have a wonderful, non-humid weekend!

 

Thawing Out, Stockpiling, and Getting Organized for Baby! (SQT)

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After an epic trip to BJs on Monday, where we discovered that a plow had dug out a lane and a half and zero parking spaces, and almost two hours and two cart-loads of groceries later, we are more or less ready and stocked up for the next month or so and the arrival of baby. It looks like the weather for the next two weeks is going to be a bit warmer and less dramatic, though the actual due date is the only one calling for the possibility of snow. Go figure. I’m hoping we’ll go just slightly earlier than DD, though. Lucy was born at just shy of 38 weeks, which is tomorrow for me so we’ll see what happens!

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For my birthday, Tom got me this e-course to help us both organize and streamline our mornings, since that time of day seems to be the most intense/chaotic. Neither one of us is a morning person and struggles with the whole waking up process while both offspring have so many needs (all of which seem to be direly urgent) immediately upon waking.

 

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An atypical morning moment!

 

So it’s been a helpful tool for us to figure out what we can do the night before, or just ahead of time, in general, to make it less crazy, and prioritize important tasks. For me, that’s basically get the girls fed (which is always such a long and often tear-filled process), hopefully, get me fed and eventually caffeinated mid-morning, and get the girls changed and dressed. Since our mornings revolve around food, I’ve been attempting to make pre-made breakfasts that take a really short amount of time to actually toss at the ravenous beasts serve in the mornings:

Now we’ll just see what happens when we throw a little newborn nursling into the mix! Either way, getting more intentional and organized can’t hurt.

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Part of getting ourselves more organized and on the same page has been using a handy little list-making app called Todoist. The free version is awesome and allows Tom and me to share chore lists, shopping lists, home projects, and various and sundry little things we need to get done. I like that you can make everyday tasks recurring and it feels really good to be able to swipe away the tasks as you complete them, even if you are doing a variation of the same dang things every day. It also eliminates the need to remind/nag each other to do certain things around the house, since you can assign tasks to each other and the app reminds for you!  Highly recommend if you are list-loving choleric.

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We just finished Poldark and enjoyed it, despite its tendency to the unbelievable and dramatic plot-lines. But the scenery was stunning and the acting and dialogue pretty good. What can we binge on next? I need some ideas for the stuck-on-the-couch/bed and up-at-crazy-hours postpartum phase!

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Experience is the best teacher ever, especially when it comes to birth, breastfeeding, and what stuff I really need postpartum. I still cringe a little inside when I remember how terrible breastfeeding Lucy was and how ill-prepared we were for just everything.  

My plan this time is to stay in bed for a week while Tom is off, so that when he goes back I’ll be as rested and recovered as possible. This will be very, very hard for me as I hate sitting still and letting people take care of me, and will want to “just” throw in a load of laundry or help with “little things” here and there. All I am letting myself do is nurse, drink copious fluids, read/watch Netflix, change diapers, and… at least, I can fold all the clothes sitting in bed! To this end, we’re about to fill all the landfills as we only eat off of paper/plastic, our floors might not get swept or vacuumed, and the clutter might get overwhelming. But, at least, we’re mentally and (mostly) physically prepared this time, so it’s gonna be ok! (This article, while a little off the crunchy deep-end even for me, made some great points and suggestions).

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Links!

“12 Things St. Zelie Martin Taught Me About Sainthood as a Mother”

My sister-in-law/mom-in-the-trenches with me sent me this great article highlighting St. Zelie Martin’s path to sainthood through her motherhood. I guarantee you it will make you breathe a sigh of relief as you realize saints had crazy days and toddlers who threw themselves on the floor and screamed repeatedly.

Farmer Boy and the Value of Handing Down Stories

S0 important for us to hear about the past and how our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, grew up! My Nonna will tell you stories of her childhood in Italy and her early years as an immigrant mom in the US until she’s blue in the face. It’s so good. We recently read an interview with a woman who’s almost 100, who basically came to our neighborhood when it was first built in the 1940s. My word, it was fascinating to read about how very, very different life was such a short time ago and how the neighborhood has changed immensely! I wish they’d bring back the neighborhood groceries, the milk-man, and the drive-in movie theatre just down the street!! Anyway, the collective memory is important to preserve. I would have known nothing of our local history before reading her interview.

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Photos!

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With her beloved paci, may it rest in peace. She bit the top of the nipple clean off. She’s now borrowing the Wubbanub set aside for the baby until we can get to Target. Her love for paci is a force to be reckoned with.

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Snow day fun with all the cousins (so far!)

 

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Unintentional Montessori win. She spent a good 25 minutes scrubbing down her little table and chairs to get the stamp-pad ink off, and loved it so much that I had her get all the coffee splatters off the cabinets. Next up, tile grout.

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes!

 

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:

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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.

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Currently, Vol. 5

Recovering: from a lovely mini beach vacation earlier this week, and the three days before that in which everyone but me was sick with nasty summer head colds. The beach did seem to be a great antidote though (those Brits were onto something when they “went to the shore for their health”).

With that in mind, I’m just here to drop a few pictures (half of which were taken by my much more on-top-of-it sister-in-law/her dad…

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Someone super excited to start the road trip…

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…and some great links that I’ve been saving to share. Some of these things are probably old at this point, but still worth sharing I think!

4 Reasons Midwives Are a Superb Women’s Healthcare Solution

This is an excellent and informative article by our friend Joy. I can firmly attest to the truth of all the facts she mentions here, and I think it’s worth a read even if you love your epidural (which is totally fine, btw) and/or think midwives are illiterate backcountry women asking you to go boil some water (they’re not). Particularly in light of the recent Planned Parenthood scandals and discussion about women’s healthcare. The only thing I’d add here, is that if you are someone who really needs or wants the hospital setting/drugs, you can still use a midwife! Many midwives only practice in hospital in conjunction with an OB system, so that is a very common option for anyone not ready to go 100% natty.

Our Marriage is Stronger Because My Husband Isn’t My Best Friend

Another article by a friend, Julie (we have a lot of talented writer friends!). This one sparked a lot of interesting controversy amongst the comments, but I totally understand where she is coming from. Tom and I had only known each other for a short while before starting to date, and then got engaged less than 6 months later, so I would never say we were some kind of life-long besties or anything. Many people missed her main point though (probably because of the click-baity title) that while a spouse can be a best friend, he or she is actually much more than merely that.

To the Gentleman in the Target Parking Lot

I already shared this on Facebook, but it’s just so good. It’s hard to imagine fielding such vitriol but apparently lots of adults have little self-control. Anyway, if you see a mom of multiple little ones trying to navigate any place in the public sphere, just a) offer to help or b) smile and say something positive (and no, “You’ve got your hands full!” does NOT count).

Hope you’re week is full of joy and cheese!

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Pulse Check (we are alive!)

Wow, it’s been a long blog silence this time around. Thank goodness I finally got a minute to do my book review for the Kalpakgians’ book, which gave me a little kick in the pants to get back on here. It’s not that there hasn’t been anything about which to write, it’s just that my brain has melted into an incoherent puddle of mush every night, and every afternoon that the girls are simultaneously napping, leaving only enough energy to lie on the couch and scroll through Facebook feeds filled with all the depressing news. If only my housework were less neglected than the blog, but alas…

Anyway, some of the reasons for this recent lethargy are starting to lift, like the fact that Lena now sleeps through the night. Her definition of night, however, is of the non-conformist variety (7:30 PM- 5:15/20 AM. No one else here has the desire to get up any earlier than say, 7). She’s the hangriest person I think I have ever met…her new nickname is Low-Blood-Sugar Lena. I mean seriously, she wakes up screaming, and won’t stop till she has downed a small bowl of blueberries, two sausage patties, and either a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. And that’s just First Breakfast for our little hobbit.

Here I had to bring her booster chair into the kitchen with me and feed her part of the dinner while I finished the rest. She's reaching for more, of course.

Here I had to bring her booster chair into the kitchen with me and feed her part of the dinner while I finished the rest. She’s reaching for more, of course.

Eating bean burritos is serious business.

Eating bean burritos is serious business.

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At dinner, she often out-eats even Tom and I (and always Lucy). The girl is crazy. But you know what, at least she’s sleeping all night. Only took a few screaming episodes (and honestly, she would scream even if we were holding/rocking/nursing her, so it was just the way she needed to learn to fall asleep. In case any attachment parenting police stumble upon this blog and felt a little queasy reading that sentence). And the upside to her early as heck rising? She now takes her morning nap and a good afternoon one too. Cue angels singing.

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Oh, right, we have another kid too. I better include a picture of her!

Oh, right, we have another kid too. I better include a picture of her!

Tom is also now finally, finally on vacation, as of the last week of July. It’s been so spoiling to have an extra adult in the house all the time, because I can take NAPS, and he’s getting tons of house projects done that he never has time for during the school year. We’re scheduling the re-painting of our dining room and our master BR at long last, and we finally, finally got NEW CURTAINS for both rooms. Do you remember the paint colors and the “custom” curtains, both hideous and heinous? Here:

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This is my only “before” picture, which is actually a “during”…see Tom’s elbow right there……….^ He was hanging our new curtains. Anyway. Those who-knows-what-color curtains, with a papyrus-y texture are finally gone. Their counter parts in our bedroom will be shortly, and I will post the official after pictures here after we’ve got the new paint. But here are the colors we chose, just to give you a little taste:

Not our dining room…but the same paint– Wythe Blue by Benjamin Moore.

And one more. We kind of love it and can’t wait to have it up.

The bedroom will be Pale Smoke by Benjamin Moore. (Our room will have a lot more color than this one and so things won’t look quite so washed-out)

So, a great improvement, no?
We also celebrated our 3rd anniversary with a really nice afternoon and evening out. We ended it by stopping by for a quick visit to the church where we got married, and it turned out they had Mass starting in 5 minutes, so that was a serendipitous moment.
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How beautiful is this church?!! We do miss being parishioners so.
Hopefully, I will be back soon with more of our recent pictures, news, stories, links to share, etc. Now I need to go make more coffee (by the by, we got an Aeropress after some intense debate on Facebook re: the best method for brewing single-cup coffee. I’m reallllllly loving the Aeropress, and it also means we’re steaming our milk every time. We’re so fancy).
Ciao!

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.