End of Summer Quick Takes

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Wow, I really lost my blogging mojo for, oh, about a month there. Oops! In my defense, that month contained:

  • Tom’s last week of the grad school semester
  • Our 4th anniversary
  • A big road trip up to Vermont with my parents and the girls, for a week-long Smith fam reunion
  • Recovery from said trip
  • A crazy hot heat wave
  • Potty training Lucy
  • Somewhat-sleep training Maeve
  • Selling our Pilot, buying an Odyssey
  • Staycation adventures with Tom during his time before school starts
  • Home projects, trying to keep the house clean, actual cooking now that my sous-chef/child-wrangler is home in the evenings again!

So not much time left for tapping out updates or thoughts or book reviews or anything of that sort. But a good, full, stretching-ourselves-in-a-good-way type of busy!

 

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Fuzzy, cheese-y mornings #allthejammies #allthechins

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I’m starting to plan out what I hope our fall “routines” and daily “schedule” will look like (fully realizing that both terms are used very loosely!). But Lucy definitely needs a little more structure to her day to avoid boredom and serious acting out/torturing sisters/destroying property. I realize now why people send off 3-5 year olds to preschools. So we’re just going to improvise here at home.

She loves all kinds of fine-motor and crafty type activities, so I just got  this book for us, and will eventually stock up on the very basics: glue, safety scissors, good quality watercolors, finger paints, homemade play dough, etc, to make it happen. I am woefully un-crafty, but I think I can handle this level, where the kids don’t really care what it is, so much that it is. Art/fine-motor– check!

This adorable book will be fun to go through with the girls, and Tom takes them to local nature centers several times a month. Nature study/science– check!

Lucy also really likes alphabet-related activities so I may start doing some of these with her. Pre-reading/religion– check!

We dug up some old-school Wee Sing books from my parents’ (i.e. from my childhood) and Lena and Lucy both LOVE going through and singing the songs and doing the finger plays. We’re compiling a classical faves playlist and Lucy likes to listen to it for the approx 3 minutes she lays on the couch for quiet time, if she isn’t listening to audio books.  Music– check!

Any ideas for good quality children’s lives of the saints and Bible stories? I’m looking for something with good prose and beautiful illustrations to read aloud to the girls every day (no dumbed down text and no ugly cartoons!). Help!

We’ll continue, as always, to read a plethora of books, and Lucy will probably be happy to take on some more memory work from Children’s Garden of Verses (we have this one, and it’s beautiful), Mother Goose (we have this one which I loved as a kid), and The Harp and Laurel Wreath.

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Perhaps we’re being overly optimistic, but starting Sunday we’re going through 30 Days Grain Free.  I did a zero-grain protocol for about 3 months 5 years ago, and it did wonders for my health, so I’m hoping for similar results, as well as building better snacking habits. Tom’s also going to be starting this, kind of in tandem, so…yeah…pray for us!

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I just signed up for the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Women’s Blogging Network Conference. I loved it last year, and can’t wait to get out to beautiful Front Royal for this year’s! Definitely check it out if you’re a local blogger.

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Links!

The Weeds and Wheat in Children’s Literature

Yes, yes, yes! I always hated hearing, “But at least they’re reading!” as a teacher when the content was absolute drivel!!

I instantly knew which school the author here was referring to– my dear husband’s alma mater! He always lamented about the phenomenon she’s talking about, and it happened with fair regularity at my alma mater as well.

I’m curious about whether or not the upcoming Netflix original about the current royal family, The Crown, will be any good. I like Clare Foy from Little Dorrit and several other BBC things, so we shall see!

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Photos!

 

 

Lena's baptism day celebration

Lena’s baptism day celebration

A series of selfies and shots that the girls are constantly taking on my pilfered phone…

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And this cutie just turned SIX MONTHS … and is CRAWLING all over!

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Have a fun weekend and stay cool!

Linking up with Kelly!

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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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pretty, happy, funny, real: Vol. 2

Pretty

We got a piano! It was free + cost of getting it moved here (which is to say, it was only $300, which is still a steal). We have been moving things around to accommodate it, but it’s fun to plunk around on and pull out our old music from college and pre-college days.

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Hooray! And the pretty botanical prints above it are an early Mother’s Day gift from Tom!

Happy

Last Saturday, I spent the day (with my trusty side-kick, Lena) at the Catholic Women’s Blogging Network Mid-Atlantic Conference. It was so much fun. I loved getting to meet so many other Catholic bloggers, a few of whom live close enough that we can actually hang out. I absolutely loved my small group conversation, and you can read Abbey’s recap of it, because she perfectly articulated what I thought about it all, too. It was an awesome day, and I’m so happy to have met so many lovely new online/real life friends. Lena enjoyed all the babies and the freedom to roam in Julie’s beautiful home!

Lots o' babies!

Lots o’ babies! Photo cred to Rosie!  

Lucy and Tom spent the day at his fellow teacher’s country place just down the road from the Conference. Lucy got to play with kids, ducks, chickens, dogs, and a handmade rocking horse:

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Funny

Lena is adorable, in my humble opinion, but she looks hilariously nothing like me…blue eyes, blond, curly hair…love her. One day, she may prove to share my DNA but for now, she’s 100% Cox.

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Real

Tomorrow, we’re driving up to Steubenville, Ohio– Anna’s graduating!! We’re excited to see her and our best friends up there, buuuut can’t say we’re looking forward to the 5+ hour road trip. It’s only the second major road trip with both girls. I’m mentally preparing myself as well as going to the library later to rent a bunch of Curious George DVDs for Lucy. She’ll be enjoying her on-board entertainment courtesy of a mini portable DVD player, circa 2005. Magdalena will be bribed with finger foods for as long as possible. And that’s all I got. Hit me with all your road trip advice for 2 year olds and 10 month olds. And obviously, no picture for this… yet!

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Countdown to Baby To-Do List

I realized the other day that I have given so very little blog time to the smallest member of our family. Maybe it’s the fate of the second child, but I do feel bad that I haven’t posted more updates or thoughts about this pregnancy. Of course, since it all started off so inconspicuously, I suppose it just continued on that way, mentally. Physically, I’m quite aware of the presence of this little person. I’m getting quite round at 26.5 weeks, and baby is rolling and kicking a lot more these days. I still don’t think he/she is quite as active as Lucy was, but then again, I was hyper-sensitive to everything during that pregnancy. Lucy accompanied me to my last midwife appointment, and got to sit up on the bed with me to listen to baby’s heartbeat. Then she screamed when we had to take the belly measuring tape away from her. She’s still very sweet and motherly with her dolls (as well as anything soft, including pillows, stuffed animals, a pile of clothes, etc…she’s not overly discerning), and she loves to see pictures of babies. So that’s reassuring.

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A favorite activity-- carrying baby dolls in her doll carrier

A favorite activity– carrying baby dolls in her doll carrier

Last night, Tom and I were scrolling through his iPhone pictures and we went all the way back to a year ago when Lucy was born. We couldn’t believe how wrinkled and tiny and puffy she was! And before we know it, we’ll have another wrinkled puffball in our arms. I have lots to do before the end of June or early July (I’m voting for end of June, thank you very much).

* First, there’s the business of figuring out what area we need to move to, and find an apartment. This is made extra complicated by the fact that I REFUSE to be more than 20-30 minutes away from the birth center, and that we will be back to one car in about a month. 😦

*I need to fully master driving the stick shift. That way, if and when I do have the car, I can confidently drive without putting myself and two babies in imminent danger. So that’s a little stressful. Tom’s a super patient instructor, but time is not on our side, which is why I’ve had exactly 3 driving lessons between August and November and then none after that.

*I need to have a very organized system in place before the baby arrives, regarding Lucy and cooking. Lucy requires a lot of attention, so I’ll need to make sure I have plenty of stimulating activities set up for her. Also, lots of ready to eat snacks and meals for when I’m one-handed again. If we do move out before the baby comes, I need to cook and freeze some meals and bread.

*Lucy (are you listening?) needs to not wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and require nursing to go back to sleep. We’re going to work on this one over spring break when Tom’s home. Yeah, his break sounds amazing; try not to be jealous. Considering she screams like someone is pouring boiling water over her if she is not allowed to nurse, well, we’ll see. I’m hoping she can get used to Daddy putting her back to sleep if she doesn’t even see me in the bed as an option. She’s ok with napping but I still need her to put herself to sleep at naptime without needing to be rocked, because I won’t have arms for that in three months!

*Then there’s all the regular getting ready for newborn stuff that will happen in May and June, like packing birth center bags, setting up the co-sleeper and converting my dresser to a changing table, etc. I’m the least concerned about that stuff, especially since we really have everything already. All of that seemed like a big deal with Lucy, but looking at my list above, well, it’s not.

So that’s our rather impossible sounding list as of now, but I’m sure everything will be fine and work out according to God’s plan. Now I’m off to pack for our little trip this weekend– we’re going to Franciscan for a reunion with my household! I haven’t been back to campus since graduation day in 2010…eek, worst alum ever! And Tom’s never seen the school, so he’ s in for a real treat in the form of Steubenville, Ohio! 🙂