Summer Miscellany

Where has June gone??! I have no idea how the weeks pass so swiftly, even while they feel long at some points during the day (cough, *witching hour*, cough). Brain and photo dump beginning now!

-Maeve-

This girl is giving us a run for our money in terms or her (lack of) sleeping habits, VOLUME, energy, etc. I’m thinking she may be 100% choleric, although she does have high highs and low lows, so maybe some sanguine (but she’s extremely difficult to distract, so I don’t know).

I’m trying to gradually wean her, since she is….well, a bit demanding. I gave her a bottle of cow’s milk last week in desperation and she actually took to it pretty well and will accept it as a nursing substitute about half the time.

She’s learning a few more words, (the girls’ names, most notably) but still mainly gets her desires across through a bizarre mixture of screaming, signing, and gesticulating. And, given her tendency of the last 6 weeks or so of waking up at 5:20ish and only napping an hour and 10 minutes a day, there’s been a lot of almost falling or totally falling asleep wherever she’s sitting.

 

 

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(1000% cuter when asleep :))

Still, she is so funny and absolutely filled to the brim with zest for life, and (when not screaming or clawing at me) she gives the absolute BEST hugs I’ve ever experienced, as she wraps her tiny arms as tightly as she can around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder.

-BREAD-

If you don’t LOVE bread (and if you don’t, you may be crazy, or you just may not have eaten GOOD bread and you need to fix that!) then this point will bore you. While I have been baking sourdough on and off and tweaking things for the past 4 years, it’s never been a super predictable rhythm, considering the care and long wait times between starter feeding and finished loaf. I recently tried this recipe from the always reliable King Arthur Flour website. It was SO easy and tasted absolutely delicious, even compared with our different iterations of sourdough loaves. We ate the first loaf in less than 24 hours, and the second in the same time frame. Then I decided to look into the baking phenomenon which inspired the recipe, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I love the health benefits and timeless nostalgia of sourdough, so I think I will try to keep my starter alive (going strong since 2014….I should probably name it!) and bake a traditional sourdough loaf a couple times a month. But, I’m very taken by the Bread in Five movement, and I’m excited to give it a try and see if it helps get us more homemade bread more easily (and the cookbook, which I got from the library has a ton of recipes I’m itching to try). Long live bread!

-In the Garden-

This is the first year we’ve ever seen bunnies in the yard/neighborhood. Our neighbors, who’ve lived here for about 60 years, tell us they never have until this year either! We are all obsessed with sighting them pretty much daily. There seem to be three, and one is a really tiny, adorable baby (well, probably more like adolescent). They love our weed-filled lawn and must live somewhere in our bushes or the neighbors.

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Garden-wise, we’re getting more cukes than we can eat, the green beans are starting to come in nicely, we have a couple heads of cauliflower left (blanching them by tying the leaves up over the heads solved the pest problem), cosmos and zinnias (but our fancy flower seeds are either struggling and/or got eaten by the birds, so sad!) and the zucchini is being really, really weird:

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It looks like a zucchini-pumpkin hybrid. And despite the nearly 6 feet of zucchini plant we have, this is the only fruit we’ve gotten! The rest of the flowers are all male, and we have no idea why it isn’t producing female flowers. Probably the lesson here is: throw your really old seeds away and use new ones, unless you want some crazy plants!

-Family Fun-

Lucy celebrated the 4th anniversary of her Baptism! Traditional celebrational skillet cookie cake.

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A visit from my very dear high school friend, Beth!

Who also tried really hard to get a family photo of all five of us! Haha!

-Reading-

Whenever I’m not dashing after Maeve as she careens into the road or down the sidewalk, I try to have a book outside with me.

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G.K. Chesterton — these are fun, short little mysteries, the perfect thing to pick up and read a mystery or two if you have to read in snatches like I do. I actually don’t usually love the mystery genre (I could never really get into Agatha Christie or the like), but these are so very Chestertonian and their brevity makes them very satisfying.

Cymbeline by Shakespeare– I basically forced Tom to take the Shakespeare course offered as an option this summer so I could read along and glean from his insights/discussions. It’s taking me way longer, of course; he’s already about to start the third play (they finished A Winter’s Tale, and will read The Tempest next). I like all the footnotes and explanations in the Oxford editions since it makes everything much more accessible to read on one’s own.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck– I just started this for our summer book club. Gripping so far, and everything about peasant life in China is very fascinating and very foreign!

33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley– Since my absolute favorite spiritual book is I Believe in Love, I figured I would like this book, and I do! It doesn’t have the same soul-feeding poetic beauty as I Believe in Love (i.e. his writing is just so-so and not all that inspiring), but the ideas, which of course are not his own, are still profound and beautiful. I recommend it if you have any devotion to St. Therese, Divine Mercy, and/or St. Faustina. (But then go read IBIL, because it’s solid gold).

-Listening-

A couple podcasts I’ve enjoyed recently:

“Enjoying Your Toddler” from Messy Parenting-– this had a lot of helpful little reminders and hints about living la vida toddler. (This podcast is one of our favorites for its Catholic marriage/parenting/family life advice!)

“Aristotle’s 3 Types of Friendship” from Pints with Aquinas— we’ve been talking about friendship lately, what it is, how to make/keep/be friends, and how friendships wane or wax through the years. This was a helpful explanation of Aristotle’s 3 levels of friendship (utility, pleasure, virtue) and it makes you think twice about the way you interact with people! (And many more of these podcasts episodes are great too; check out the archives).

Also related to friendship, specifically as a mom: “Nell on Friendship “from Just One Small Thing— all about why having other mom friends is crucial and how to make/be a good one!

-Looking Forward To…-

  • Lena’s third birthday next week! This girl has been plotting and planning her special day since about March! She has requested a chocolate, pink-frosted kitty cat cake. NO PRESSURE! I actually did find a very do-able, even for craft-allergic me, template, so let’s hope I can make her wildest dreams come true.
  • Solo trip up to Boston for my cousin’s wedding! This will be the longest I’ve ever left all 3 girls, and as Lucy would say, “Maeve is a big fan of you, Mom!” I’m just praying out of sight, out of mind will last for 36 hours. (Pray for Tom!) But, I’m really excited to a) have a quiet hour on the plane, b) sleep in a hotel, c) sleep in, and d) catch up with all my dad’s side of the family/see a dear cousin get married, at what is sure to be the swankiest wedding,!

(Linking up, late, with Kelly and the other Quick-Takers!)

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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!)

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!

 

Summer Days

It’s summer again!!

Gardens are bursting...

Gardens are making a come-back…

So is the herb bed!

And the herb bed is thriving, too.

Lucy’s been obsessed lately with “bentures” and said adventures can range anywhere from a trip to Target or the library to a walk around our cul-de-sac. She sometimes declares when we’re just hanging out inside that she is “havin’ a benture over here, and Lena’s havin’ a benture over dere,” (all fun and games till Lena wants to join Lucy’s side…).

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Her hair is getting sooo long in the front, but I don’t really want to start cutting it!

Thank goodness toddlers are so easily amused. We can literally plant the “adventure” idea in her mind to make whatever we have to do that day seem cool and exotic to her. I’ll be a sorry mom when these days are over!

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Lessons in baby-wearing

Carrying her baby

Lena is pretty hilarious at the cusp of 11 months. Her favorite (and only) word is a very enthusiastic and resounding, “YAH!” which is her stock response to everyone. Sanguine optimist, anyone? If she hears anyone say anything with a question inflection, or any phrase starting with, “Do you…” she immediately responds, “Yah! YAH!” She is practically running now, and I can’t begin to count the number of people who are dumb-founded by her walking abilities. I guess she does look pretty cute, trudging around on her chubby legs, arms often held out in front, Frankenstein-style. She’s suicidally attracted to all stairs, whether up or down, and is in the constant-supervision stage.

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We discovered a hydrangea bush on the hill on your side yard. It’s gorgeous and makes us want to plant about five more bushes around the yard…

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Ignore the weeds…the side yard needs work, but will have to wait till fall!

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