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!)

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!)

What We’re Reading

I used to be an insanely avid reader. Then, I grew up and things called “responsibilities” butted their aggravating heads into my reading time. Probably sometime in college, I made the subtle switch from reading for the sake of pleasure to reading because it was assigned, or reading something that was going to augment what I was learning, researching, or whatnot. I realized that was a sad shift, and have been consciously trying to read more in the first category. Tom and I like to keep at least one novel going, and sometimes also another non-fiction. Here’s what we have going right now, as well as my own individual list!

Out loud/Together:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

We loved Kristin and wanted more Undset, so we started this a few months ago. St. Catherine’s story is very Italian– dramatic, intense, over-the-top. She’s equal parts inspiring and non-relatable. I’m hoping we can finish this during Lent.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

This was recommended to us based on our love of Austen. Trollope is quite funny, and we’ve enjoyed this one, though I don’t think it quite stands up to Austen.

Me:

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

This one I just finished reading on Kindle from the library e-book system. I had heard it raved about and I loved his Freddy and Fredericka, so I was eager to see how this one is. Basic conclusion: WTF. And, put more elegantly… seriously, what is this tripe? It’s fantasy masquerading as pseudo-historical fiction but it’s mostly just utterly ridiculous. I mean, the totally unrelated 20-100 page (NOT exaggerating) tangents and descriptive narratives aside, the book just has no coherency.  The theme… is there one? I seriously couldn’t figure it out; the most obvious thing seemed to be the author screaming, “Oh look! I know words! Big words! I can make crazy, convoluted, un-readable metaphors and sentences and call it a story!” Oh, and the ending is a pick-your-own-adventure, too. I feel like I wasted several weeks of my life reading this over 700 page tome of tawdry writing. Don’t do the same! Also, I looked up review on Good Reads, just to be sure I wasn’t crazy and totally missing something, and man, some of the reviews had me cracking up! (And no, I wasn’t crazy). Here’s an excerpt of my favorite:

“In a certain now-distant era in the vestibules of verbiage, a diamond-dusted nor’easter came brightly brushing, softly sifting, sewing the perspectives, peripheries and promenades … with perilously prolix page-counts .. that persisted then, all along the gridded avenues of the grandest city that Time had surely ever decreed.

It was the City Of Books, and this was the kind of book, nay, the Very Kind and most-principal example, that was written then, and by rights most highly regarded by the Reading Citizenry to deck the halls and paper the walls.” 

So, basically, I wish I’d never read it and that Helprin confined himself to what he does well: humor.

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

The Pope’s fave book. More Italian drama/romance/adventure/intrigue– and so far it is awesome!

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

I like that I can pick this up and read a chapter here and there. Which is to say, I started it last May, and just now got back to it. 🙂

What are you reading? I’m always, always looking for good recommendations, particularly for fiction!