Tis the Season!

Merry Christmas! We’ve had a really cozy and relaxed past 2 weeks here, which was sorely needed, since Tom’s last week of school involved mostly 16 hour work days. So it’s been a good thing he gets a long break as the girls were beginning to wonder if they had a dad anymore (Lena had sweet, heartbreaking episodes every night around 5, when she would point at the door asking, “Daddy? Daddy???”).  IMG_0154

I’ve been mostly catching up on sleep and getting super spoiled with Tom home and doing lots of the daily stuff/child-wrangling so I don’t have to.

It’s also been really fun to have our first family Christmas here, complete with a real tree (for the first time) which obviously only has decorations on the upper third, and is consistently ringed by a thick blanket of pine needles, compliments of two enthusiastic branch-shakers.


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Our weather has been absolutely wonky– almost 2 straight weeks of rain and wetness, with Christmas Eve and Day presenting themselves as sticky, humid, 70 degree days. Still had to dress the girls in their winter Christmas dresses, and Tom tried to get some decent shots of them before we headed to 5:00 Christmas Eve mass.

We went to our old parish, where we got married and Lucy was baptized and it was beautiful…and our toddlers were actually quieter than the 20-something guys behind us. We then found one of the very few restaurants open on Christmas Eve to finish up our night.

Christmas morning was slow and relaxed, thankfully, and our presents only took about 20 minutes which left us plenty of time for mimosas, bacon, and cinnamon rolls. Lucy claimed everything for herself (of course) and Lena mostly enjoyed trying to unwrap the paper and climb into the doll cradle that used to be mine, dug out of my parents’ attic for Christmas. The real party went down at my parents’ later that day, where it was all food, people, kids, and flying wrapping paper as the little ones opened enormous piles of gifts. A merry day, indeed!

On the baby front, I’m at 34 weeks now and tis the season for heating pads, restless nights, jabbing baby limbs, and me feeling like an arthritic old lady. I don’t feel like I’ll make it to 40 weeks most days, but the baby might not necessarily feel that way, so we’ll see. Part of me wants an earlier delivery, while the other half of me realizes the baby inside is way easier than outside.


My counter spread with everything to make a few slow cooker freezer meals so we don’t starve in the first couple weeks postpartum. It was a good use of a couple kid-free hours!

And, since I am now finishing this about 5 days after starting it, Happy New Year to you all! We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings us (other than a brand new family member!)!


Listening to:

The lull of two sound machines. Synchronized naps, be mine forever!!


All the glorious snacks that Costco provides: mango peach salsa, sweet and salty trek mix, Food Should Taste Good brown rice crackers, etc.

Tonight we’ll be feasting on Ziti al Forno in honor of St. Catherine.


Anne of Green Gables, in 30 or 45 minute intervals after the girls are asleep. It’s only fitting to commemorate Jonathan Crombie’s death. It is SO GOOD, and Tom has never seen it! (Thankfully, he rectified his sad situation of never having heard of/read the series shortly before we started dating. Otherwise, I would’ve gotten him on that train post-haste. AOGG is probably one of my very favorite childhoold/adolescent/adulthood series ever). Seriously, though, the acting in this mini-series is top-notch and just so enjoyable. We’ve been researching our future PEI road trip.

Who can resist Gilbert Blythe’s impish smirk?

Mostly, though, we cannot WAIT until Gran Hotel’s next season is finally released in the US! We thoroughly enjoyed the first seasons on Netflix back in February/March, and keep our eye on Netflix for the moment it arrives. C’mon, Netflix, ándale!!


Finally finished The Betrothed last week. I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood to get into a longer book with a fascinating plot and historical setting.

I just got this book, which is proving to be super interesting, and will get its own review when I finish (which, given my motherhood-induced track record, could be months).

And, since I’m on an Anne kick, I’m listening to the series, starting with the very first book, on Librivox (this is the version you want). Lucy Maud Montgomery is laugh out loud funny, and just such a darned good writer. I was captivated by her stories as a kid, but I really appreciate her humor and subtlety as an adult. I put it on while I’m getting meals prepped or cleaning, or anytime I think I’ll be able to hear the recording over the clamor and hubbub around here.


May will be busy! A blogging conference this weekend in rural Maryland, my sister’s graduation and our second big road trip with the girls, Tom’s birthday, lots of end-of-the-year school trips/stuff for Tom, my high school’s 40th anniversary Gala, and probably more that I’m forgetting!


Outside, as much as possible. It’s classic spring: rainy one day, up in the 80s the next. Lucy has discovered digging in the dirt, and her life is now complete.



Sweet little girl (most of the time...)

Sweet little girl (most of the time…)

Glorious crabapple tree outside our window.

Glorious crabapple tree outside our window.


Some good perspective on dealing with sibling rivalry (not that we have ANY of that round here…):

“Remember that in an infant’s or toddler’s eyes, older siblings are akin to movie stars.  And to think, for one moment a celebrity actually looked at me while taking that object from my hand. In was in my hand, and now it’s in her hand. Wow! She noticed me!”

Hilarious lessons to be learned from Kristin Lavransdatter!

This may make you tear up (or maybe that’s just me + hormones).

I intend to make these soon and very soon!

Just in time for swimsuit season!

Well, I hear some stirring upstairs, so free time is up!

2014: Our Year in Review

We are officially back in Virginia, after our California Christmas. Before January is over and the year still feels relatively new, I figured it would be fun to look back on the craziness of 2014 and capture our year in photos (blurry and bad, as they always are!). Here we go!


Portrait of Two Babies

Wow, January. Way to start off our year with a whole lot of crazy!! We came back from California, and about a week and a half later, we discovered that we were expecting Number Two. I’m thankful for our pediatrician who casually asked if I might be pregnant, when I told her that my milk supply for Lucy had disappeared. If not for that, I have no idea when or how I would’ve figured it out! As it was, it turned out we were already about 14-15 weeks along.

That same week, our living space started getting a little, well, unlivable. We were invaded by cockroaches, mice and scary, scary mold all over the apartment over the month. Gross.


We packed up and moved to my parents’, for what we thought would be two months. Ha! My family is very patient. We had snow days and date nights, and lots of cousin time. Thinking about Lent and pregnancy.


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More snow (and reminiscing about our honeymoon), St. Patty’s, St. Joseph’s– and writing out our love story. Lucy started walking and things thawed enough for the park and the swing and fancy clothes to the annual Heights Gala.


Lucy Agnes turned one, and I finally wrote her birth story. We went on a lovely Babymoon, and I started to get a wee bit anxious about all the things to do before Baby 2 arrived. Spring was starting to get its game on, finally, and we made it to Easter. We also officially booked our realtor and started house hunting!!


Nose:runny. Mouth: drool-y.

Things got cray for us: lots and lots of looking at houses both online and in person; Lucy being sick for over a month from her MMR vaccine, me being sick for weeks with the Sinus Infection from Hell; and Tom’s birthday thrown in there. I found a few moments between tissues and Tylenol to think some thoughts about my impending parenthood of two.


Filling up the pool

In June, things were looking better: we had closed on a house!! No more searching. I was feeling much better, and the wait for baby began. Verily published an article of mine, and we mused about disciplining toddlers. Lucy went on daily walks, splashed in the pool, and talked up a storm.


Magdalena at one week

We were very ready for baby– and then she came! Magdalena Clare was born on 7-14-14! Lucy loved her, and so did we. The siblings put on a magnificent performance of Les Miserables and we dealt with Magdalena’s awful nightly colic, which coincided with our ill-timed second anniversary date.



Tom went to Cali for five days for his brother’s wedding, and I stayed home with Fussy-Pants and thankfully my mom was there to help (my dad and brother were on a mission trip in Honduras). We all survived. Then we packed up and moved to our new house on August 9th, with a barely four-week old Magdalena and almost 16 month old Lucy. Good, crazy times. Also, Magdalena was baptized the week after we moved in, but I never blogged it because of the general chaos. For the record, she screamed the whole time, as Baptism was unfortunately scheduled during her nightly colic sesh.



The colic stopped. Our stress levels dropped by 50%. We continued to move in/unpack/set up and made our house a bit more homey. Tom started back at school, and Lucy went into full-force toddler behavior.



Fall! Lots of park and outside time, a Day in our Life, the passing of my grandpa and traveling to NY for his funeral, and Halloween.



We enjoyed the awesome weather before it got too cold, had a chill Thanksgiving, and reflected on life thus far with two under two. 


This is the most recent month, and I can barely remember it. We celebrated St. Lucia Day and St. Nicholas Day, Lucy got sick, and then got sick again and passed it to Magdalena the moment we touched down in California. We had a lovely (though very sleep-deprived) California Christmas, and then Lena passed the cold to me, and I to Tom, who is currently sleeping it off as I type.

2014 was quite the year– full of unexpected things but mostly unexpected blessings. Looking forward to what 2015 will bring!

Linking up here!

What December Has Brought (so far)

We are long overdue for a bit of an update on the poor, neglected blog! I can only say that a) Lucy sees every moment that I have either laptop or iPad as an opportunity to clamor incessantly to see pictures of herself (which means, of course, videos of herself) or watch Winnie the Pooh, so I can’t ever use the devices without a major meltdown, and b) Magdalena is no longer the easy-to-put-to-sleep baby of yore.

But here I am, and both are napping, so I will do my best to brain and photo dump a lot of what’s been happening over the past month.

Lucy keeps things fun around here with lots of chattering, running, climbing, and mischief-making. She enjoys wishing Lena a “boo-morning” anytime either one of them wakes up from a nap or otherwise enters a room for the first time in 15 minutes. She wishes Lena in her bouncy chair was more mobile, and frequently tries to play ring-around-the-rosy with her in there.


Matching jammies photo op. “Susee bibbing her kiss.”


Lucy about to eat Lena, and Lena’s (appropriate) reaction

Lucy is also really getting into the Liturgical Year happenings. She loves the Advent candles, and has almost worked up the courage to blow them out herself. She is enjoying seasonal books from the library and our home collection, and opening the chocolate Advent calendar from Nana. We have succeeded in hiding the true nature of the chocolate from her still, as she thinks it’s a little square toy that eventually melts all over her hands, at which point she cries, “Hand duh-ty!” and gives up the chocolate.

She enjoyed discovering the treats St. Nicholas brought last weekend, which included this adorable St. Nicholas doll.

Excuse the poor quality iPad photos; I discovered my camera battery was not in the camera at the unfortunate moment of her finding her shoe...

Excuse the poor quality iPad photos; I discovered my camera battery was not in the camera at the unfortunate moment of her finding her shoe…

We got it here. 

She’s been reading this lovely book about St. Lucy for the past couple weeks to prepare for her feast day, which we commemorated by making sourdough cinnamon buns and (attempting to) dress Lucy in her St. Lucia costume. Turns out a 20 month old is much harder to costume than an 8 month old.


Lucia with 2/3 of her costume on…



Last year’s rendition


And Magdalena is mostly watching all these things with glee and excitement from her favorite position– standing on someone’s lap. She blows raspberries as often as she can and chuckles loudly when Lucy talks to her. She is still unaware that the source of her painful scratches/hits/pinches is the very same person who makes her smile and laugh. She is developing FOMO much like her older sister at this age, and I’m praying she figures out how to let herself fall asleep much faster than Lucy. She’s had to cry it out a few times already, and while not pleasant at all, can be the only way to actually get her to fall asleep when she’s tired. The first year of life is so bizarre.


I’ll leave you with that cuteness, and get back to my frighteningly large laundry pile. Ciao!

Michaelmas Day!

Yesterday was the Feast Day of the Archangels, which was traditionally celebrated as Michaelmas. This day was a big deal, especially in the British Isles, where the harvest was being gathered. I wanted to start a tradition of celebrating this feast, and came across several hilarious/weird old tradition in my research, including unmarried girls digging a triangle shape out of the ground before pulling out carrots to present their beloved (Scotland), picking all the blackberries before Satan could “spit” on them (Ireland), and Queen Elizabeth allegedly proclaiming goose should be eaten on this day every year, as she was eating goose when she heard that the Spanish Armada was defeated (how this was attributed to September when the battle actually happened in July no one can account for).

Tradition calls for a roast goose, carrot and apple dishes, blackberry desserts, and whatever other fruits of harvest you have. Our gardens are going to be barren until next spring, and I’m not in the time of life where roast goose is possible, so we made do with the following:

*Apple-Mustard Chicken

*Ginger-Honey Glazed Carrots

*Homemade Sourdough

*and a Dragon Cake!

One of Tom’s college friends used to make this for them at Michaelmas, so we decided to give it a try this year. He looks a little sad…


…but so would I if the Prince of the Heavenly Host had just routed me. By the way, he tasted really delicious, as only something that is made of lots of buttery dough stuffed with sugar and dried fruit can.


Lucy with our feast, as Daddy tries unsuccessfully to get her to smile at the camera…


Magdalena is a slightly better subject


We had both soft and hard cider, so you know it was a good meal.

It was a great start to this week which is filled to the brim with great Saints’ days. We’ve got some more planned for those, so stay tuned!

Lucy holding her "Happy Michaelmas" sign...expertly decorated, obviously.

Lucy holding her “Happy Michaelmas” sign…expertly decorated, obviously.

The Sacred and Profane

The true, the good, and the beautiful. Here we go!

(A Five Favorites post).


I have been reading all the buzz around the internet about Leila Lawler’s new book, The Little Oratory. The drawings were done by her daughter and our friend Deirdre, whose husband worked at Tom’s school. We finally ordered the book a few weeks ago, and it’s lovely. It also came at the perfect time, since we are starting fresh with planning out the layout of our new home, and now we’re really excited to include our own little oratory in the family room. The authors give a good overview of the liturgical life of the Church and then break it down into practical and do-able tips for incorporating that into family life. Highly recommend!


Tom got me this book for Mother’s Day, which has been perfect for the mornings (uh..every one) when I only have a minute or two to reflect. I love the format: a quote or small meditation from a saint, a short prayer, and an idea for a concrete action for the day.


Ok, here comes the frivolity. This sea salt spray looks awesome! I’m not in love with the price tag, but still. We’ve come to the conclusion that the only possible time for me to shower this coming year is at night, so this stuff will probably help if I can spray it in at night and throw my hair up.


And for some dorky home organization: I found that by using the Preview program on the Mac, I can take the pictures of our future kitchen and pre-organize where every single thing will go. Slightly neurotic, slightly amazing. I just click a text box over the area I want to label, and voila! I now have every drawer, cabinet, and shelf space labeled so that when we move in, we (and our pack of amazing helpers, whoever they may be), will know exactly where everything goes. And then we won’t have to guess for the first 4 weeks we live there.

kitchen front

Just a peek at my craziness


I also got much of my inspiration for good kitchen flow/organization from iHeart Organizing blog, which also has tons of other home inspiration and DIY ideas.


And this one isn’t really a favorite so much as a request: what are the best (free, of course) contraction timer apps out there?? There are so many to choose from, so suggestions would be welcomed! I just want to be prepared (unlike last time, which was before I had any sort of portable smart device, and instead tried to time contractions on a website while lugging my MacBook. Guess how that went). We hit the 37 week mark yesterday, AKA: full-term, sapping energy, and tons o’ muscle aches. BUT, we’re trying to make sure baby doesn’t even think about coming until June 27, which is when Tom has two weeks off between summer camps. Timing is everything, tiny bebe, so get it right. 🙂



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yesterday, though we are only 3 days away from the beginning of spring, a good 7-10 inches of snow fell and killed whatever spring-like thoughts we were thinking:



It was, of course, wonderful to have Tom home so I can’t complain (too much). But really, we’ll all be really, really happy to bid winter goodbye ASAP.

Because everyone was off from work and school, we forgot about St. Paddy’s day until late in the morning. My dad dutifully fetched some Irish beers from the grocery store across the street. Tom enthusiastically put green dye in his first, Guinness, with the following result:

Green on top, brown on the bottom still...oh well

Green on top, brown on the bottom still…oh well

Later, he tried again with a Harp. Much better!

Kartause represent!!

Kartause represent!!

I made potato leek soup for dinner and we also had sausage and greens (um, kale, not cabbage!). Tommy’s finger is fractured so he couldn’t take up his fiddle and play Irish tunes.

In other news, watching clothes in the dryer is newly fascinating:




Today also marks 24 weeks for the Coxlet, and he/she is really starting to become a little more active, and has moved up closer to my ribs, making the kicks less fun for me! I’ve been really bad about taking belly shots, but the ol’ belly is getting pretty round, so I’ll try to get one together and up here soon. 🙂

The Pregnant Lent

For the second year in a row, I’ll be “doing” Lent while pregnant. Contrary to what any men or non-pregnant women out there may think, normal/healthy pregnancies are NOT enough sacrifice to count for the entire Lenten sacrifice and preparation. There are definite happenings that constitute an immense dying to self, I will say, and this year I obviously have the added wild card of Princess Lucia, who demands all of me and then some. And of course, pregnant and nursing moms are always exempt from fasting and abstinence. So all this leaves me pondering lately– how are pregnant mothers specifically called to observe the season of Lent? It’s tricky, but I do really want to try harder this year. Last year I think I spent a great deal of Lent suffering and recovering from strep and several head colds, as well as the general exhaustion of the late third trimester. In other words, I had the physical suffering part down pat, but certainly didn’t feel spiritually refreshed by the time we were singing Alleluia again.

In general, I’m coming to realize the great truth that motherhood is an intense form of dying to self, as any mother (or father, really) can tell you. My sleep schedule is not my own. My eating schedule is not my own. I can’t even go to the bathroom or shower without an audience or a crying soundtrack in the background. I’ve learned a great deal this year about how selfish I really am and that the dying to self thing does not come naturally. And that is precisely why I need great spiritual aid in this time of life. When I have the least time for quiet and prayer is when I need it most. There is no possibly way I can sustain my well-being, especially mental and emotional, without supernatural sustenance.

Yet most days, between Lucy’s extremely early wakings and struggle with naps, I find that the only formal prayer I may have gotten in is grace before meals and hopefully night prayers with Tom if we haven’t yet collapsed in exhaustion. This is not good for keeping my soul refreshed, renewed, strengthened, and growing in virtue. I cannot use motherhood and pregnancy as an excuse for not improving my spiritual life; it is, in fact, essential to my vocation as mother to improve my spiritual life daily. It is difficult though, especially for me, since I am not that great at multi-tasking prayer or spiritual reading while supervising Lucy or folding clothes or any of the other million tasks that need to be done. And with this second pregnancy, an afternoon nap with Lucy has become a true necessity.

I’m hoping to make small additions to my prayer life this Lent. Fasting is less about denying one’s self and more about realizing how dependent one is on God. For me, that will mean fasting from wasting my precious few free minutes of time on social media and using them for connecting with Scripture, quiet, and spiritual reading.

Simcha has a great Lenten reading list, and Elizabeth Foss gives several suggestions, with more in the comments.

Tom and I will pick up our practice of reading a chapter (or portion of a chapter) from a chosen book of the Bible during Lent. We read Isaiah during Advent and Christmas. I’m thinking the Gospels, and maybe a different prophet for Lent. Personally, I am also planning to continue plodding my way through Orthodoxy, which is amazing but I can only get about 5 pages in at a time before life calls. I also want to read Caryll Houselander’s Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross. She wrote beautiful, lucid meditations, such as the one I wrote out in this post. The important thing is, while I can’t fast from food and physical sustenance again this Lent, I do need, ever so much, to strengthen my soul with total reliance on God through increased and dedicated prayer time.

(Also, since the challenge is 7 posts in 7 days, it should totally count to do two posts in one day!)

Little St. Lucia

Poor Lucy. Today was the longest day of my life. Officially. Lucy had a terrible day which made me question why I’d thought life without infant motrin was a smart idea. But, we were prisoners of the freezing temperatures, so there was no walking to the pharmacy for us. Anyway, I’m going to pretend that the day never progressed beyond this lovely moment at 9 AM:








The Swedish have a great tradition where the eldest daughter dresses in a white robe with a crown of candles, and delivers sweet buns and coffee to the family first thing in the morning. I whipped up a ghetto felt crown late the night before, and swathed her bottom half in an old Italian linen towel…tablecloth…? Who knows. Wrapped the dollar store ribbon around her waist, and voila! Instant baby St. Lucy. She failed at the treat delivery, so we’ll work on that for future feast days. Here’s praying her patron bestows on her the miracle of sleeping through the night.


Forging Traditions

We’re back from blog-death over here. I figured the beginning of the new Liturgical Year was a good time to resurrect. Speaking of which, this is my very favorite Liturgical season. I really love Advent for the sake of Advent, not just because it heralds the coming of the Christmas Season (which is also pretty fabulous). The candles on the Advent wreath, gathering light as the weeks go by; the beautiful and haunting songs we sing; and the call to remember Who is, or ought to be, the center of the entire Liturgical Year. Love it.

As a culture at large, American Catholics do a pretty dismal job at celebrating the various feasts and fasts that make up our rich heritage. Advent seems to get lost between Thanksgiving (not a religious feast!) and Insta-Christmas, which inevitably begins on Black Friday. It’s such a shame, because so many traditions could be celebrated during those four weeks.

When I was young, my parents began to become more aware of the many ways to draw families into the Church’s calendar, incorporating the Jesse Tree into our Advent repertoire, as well as learning more hymns besides “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, and digging into some books centered on Advent. We put out our shoes for St. Nicholas Day a few years, too. We waited until Gaudete Sunday, or sometimes later, to pick out and trim our Christmas tree, and we watched the little wooden Three Magi travel from one end of the house to the hearth Nativity scene over the course of the month.  As an adult, I’ve come to discover even more feasts and ways to celebrate them, thanks to a few books and the trusty Google.

Tom and I want to be intentional, now that Lucy is here, about the traditions we begin and carry on in our life as the domestic church. I’d love it if my children grew up saying, “Oh yeah, we always do such-and-such on St. X’s day, or sing this song during Lent,” and so forth. Family traditions are the framework on which children begin to pin their ideas of time’s passage, celebration, and a season for everything. Including one that comes before Christmas.

So, we’re making an effort this month to do normal Advent things together– the candles, the hymns, and reading through the book of Isaiah. But what I’m also excited about are all the feast days tucked into this month: St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of course, the one we’re most looking forward to- St. Lucy! We’re planning our meals so that they reflect that day’s feast in some way. And I’m still trying to figure out what one stuffs into an almost-8-month-old’s tiny shoe on St. Nicholas Day??

Stay tuned for pictures of Lucy dressed as her namesake, our attempt at pfeffernüsse, and more!


{Lucy spends 90% of her day using every surface in our house to pull up on, and then tries to let go. Gravity’s got her down a few times already.}