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!)

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Cute and Not-So-Cute Toddler Antics {p,h,f,r}

My mom pretty much supplies any of the matching clothing the girls wear and it’s always fun to dress them in those outfits. But it’s pretty difficult to actually get a decent shot of them together with Lucy not screaming, “CHEESE!!!” and causing Lena to look in her direction…so here’s what we got:

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Lucy loves saying, “We need to take a picher of this!” whenever she is doing something she thinks is cute. Holding her baby dolls was one such occasion.

 

Well, I’m stealing this from Instagram, but I mean, it’s too good. This is what happens when you’re nursing the baby and the toddlers are on the other side of the car, where they know you can’t see them, and where the ever-tempting garden beds lie. “We’re pouring dirt on each other’s heads!!!” they called with glee. Let’s just say the showers we had to give them afterward were not well-received.

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Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter! 

RIP, Paci

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In what has turned out to be the soggiest, dreariest spring in my memory, we’ve had nearly 16 days of straight rain so far. This has come in conjunction with a never-ending Cold Virus from Hell, which reminded me why mothers of little ones should never, ever, ever get sick. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. It’s also coincided with Lucy’s spontaneous giving up of her paci, one random night three weeks ago. She’d been really mad because her teeth made little lacerations in the paci and she could “hear a sound” (the air whistling through it), and after a few days of tantruming about it, she just looked at and said, “Maybe I just don’t need to use a paci anymore!” And that was that. Talk about cold turkey.

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In memory of Paci, here’s a little trip down memory lane…

Unintentional paci-selfies

Unintentional paci-selfies

Pro tip: always keep one in your mouth and another close by, juuuust in case

Pro tip: always keep one in your mouth and another close by, juuuust in case

Ohhh, fancy focus there, Luce

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As glorious a milestone as that is, it has meant (as I predicted to myself) that her sleeping has gone way, way south. Like perhaps as far as Hell, south. We find ourselves back at Square One of Sleep Training (which took us a year the first time!), and she has either screamed, cried, or whined herself to sleep most nights, after being forced back into bed multiple times. Also, no more naps. I have no idea how she can wake up at 6:15 AM, not actually fall asleep until about 7:30 or even 8 on terrible nights, and not nap all day. Is this even normal? Ugh. And she absolutely refuses to even do “quiet time” (it very quickly turns into screech-like-a-banshee time, forcing my hand to let her out of her room so she doesn’t end up waking up her sisters). We may have to move Lena to the Pack-n-Play in the other room for night time as well as naps, because Lucy loves nothing more than to entertain/terrorize Lena when they’re supposed to be going to sleep at night. If anyone has any advice/insight we’d love to hear it! It’s killing me.

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I don’t have anything profound to say since my brain’s been pretty mushy over the last week or so. I’m just praying that the sun and warm weather returns sometime SOON (especially because I’d already switched out most of our wardrobe, and have been digging back into the boxes waiting to go into storage), and that one of these days I can wake up feeling normal-ish and not go through an entire tissue box throughout the day.

Enough of the boring/depressing/mundane details of our glamorous life. Onto some better content…

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We really enjoyed this post from a father of 13 on how they’ve been able to save money and plan for retirement despite the financial burden of a big family. It’s fascinating and flies in the face of what society tells us is possible, financially speaking.

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This is probably one of the best articles on baby sleep I’ve read to date. I found myself nodding along to so much of what she was saying. I only wish that I had read this when it came out, right before Maeve was born…I can already tell I’ve created some sleep crutches for Maeve and they’re really hard to break! But in an ideal world, this is how I’d do it.

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And here’s a really great article that Tom wrote for a Catholic men’s blog about how he reorganized his schedule with a time-tracking app. I will admit that I teased him at first for timing and recording every little thing he did all day but it gave him some great insights and was well worth it.

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That’s all I’ve got, as Lucy has literally JUST started her daily afternoon scream-time AND WOKEN UP LENA. (Deep breaths, deeeeeeeep breaths…..)

Check out more quick takes at Kelly’s

At least we’re getting some good stories out of it!

I keep thinking how nice it would be to have a second or three to blog, because I want to talk about the books I’ve read recently, post about Maeve’s baptism and Easter and all that. BUT, I’ve got myself an 8 week old who is really starting to wake up to the world and needs a whole lot of soothing to get down for naps and sleep and gets ANGRY if I miss the window. [I had to go back and reread relevant parts of the baby sleep book and remind myself that at this age babies are just going to start fighting sleep and they can really only sustain themselves awake for two hours at the max. You’d think I would really have all this newborn stuff down by now, but nope.]

So instead, maybe I will just regale you with recent tales of life around here, such as the time where I unknowingly washed AND DRIED a peed-in diaper of Maeve’s, and was perplexed when the whole load came out covered in tiny white balls that clung to every surface. Then I found the culprit in the bottom of the dryer. Or how about the time when I thought it would be a good idea to resume potty training Lucy by putting her in undies and trying to have her sit on the potty randomly throughout the day (read: frantically set alarms and try to get her on there before an accident, while toting the poor newborn)? That was pretty dumb and now I’m once again waiting until … some unknown time in future when she’ll magically “be ready” as everyone keeps saying.

My favorite moment, though, has to be one last week that was the crowning glory on a string of particularly brutal days. The girls had just come in and were covered in a thick layer of sandbox sand. I was wearing a finally-sleeping Maeve in the Ergo. Lucy was in her undies and I had forgotten to have her sit on the potty in a while (probably because each potty-sit was completely fruitless). Lucy went into the bathroom to wash the sand off her hands while Lena bee-lined for the stairs. Lena tripped, and landed with the side of her face into the bottom stair. So of course, she started to scream, right into the baby’s face in my Ergo, who then answered back with screams of her own. About two seconds later, Lucy emerged from the bathroom and laughed nervously while looking very sheepishly at me. It soon became clear that her hand-washing had elicited the potty response, right as she stood on her stool in her undies and pants. So, holding a sobbing, injured toddler on my hip, with an angry baby in the Ergo, I led a wet toddler by the hand upstairs. Administered arnica to Lena (still screaming), cleaned up pee on the floor and got Lucy into dry clothes, and meanwhile tried not to let Maeve’s (still screaming) head dangle out the Ergo as I was bending over. It was all pretty hilarious really, and I somehow managed to realize that and laugh (a nervous, maniacal cackle, probs, but laughter nonetheless).

Three kids three and under is kicking my butt (if only that were considered valid exercise!). And yet, here I am living to tell (and mostly enjoy) the tales.

(But this pretty accurately sums up how I feel by about noon most days!)

Living with Toddlers: The Best and Worst of Times

Living with Toddlers

Mothering toddlers is, for me, a study in paradox: one minute, I’m losing my mind over the hitting, jumping on tables, spilling drinks, kicking, etc. The next minute I’m desperately clutching their still-tiny bodies and kissing their soft, curly heads. It’s a classic best-of-times/worst-of-times scenario.

I know I’ll live through this time period of early wake-up calls, multiple dirty diaper changes, nap fiascos, tantrums, defiance, and what feels like eons to get everyone shod, jacketed, and buckled into car seats. It’s just life, and it’s normal, and we’re exceedingly lucky to have the means to do and deal with all those things.

I also know I’ll miss certain things. None of the above, obviously, but things like the way Lena clutches my cheeks and strokes them, crooning, “Mama, Mama…” before she lays her head on my shoulder. Just to remind me she’s there and I’m holding her (as if I could forget. I’m starting to run out of room!). The way Lucy cherishes and insists on reading stacks of books with us in our bed, asking us to “close our arm” so that she’s snuggled under it next to us. And probably the most fleeting of all things is their speech, and the hilarious and cute things they say at this point (though Lucy is a great little parrot and often makes me wince as I hear myself coming out of her piping toddler voice when she is admonishing her sister).

I mean, look, this is one year ago this week…

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This is TWO years ago this week…

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And here’s this week…

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So this motherhood thing is good for someone like me, who’s largely un-sentimental and prone to extreme pragmatism. These little people, with their not-so-little needs, simultaneously show me the humbling depths of my selfishness and lack of patience, and rend my heart with their existence. Every child I read or hear about who is suffering, ill, or has died, is my child. Inexplicably, the only faces I can see are theirs. It’s both terrible and wonderful at the same time, in another set of paradoxes. I could never have felt such empathy or compassion for the suffering of the world before I really knew what it felt like to have something beyond measurable worth.

Hopefully, I can remember this the next time a tantrum comes roaring into my tired face, or a recalcitrant toddler refuses to listen, or a gargantuan mess of clutter taunts my expanding midsection and tired muscles. It only seems like the worst of times, but the fact that I even have these messes and inconveniences means it’s really the best of times too– I have precious lives growing and thriving right before my eyes.

 

Just your usual cabin-fever delirium…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a small human being during the winter months will go progressively crazier and ruin the house.

I give you Exhibit A, A Cup of Rice:

 

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Or how about Exhibit B? Everyone’s favorite, Toddler Wall Art (and floor, chair, book, even laptop art):

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Exhibits not pictured, as the photographer was too busy screaming and desperately trying to resolve the disaster:

– An entire stick of Kerrygold butter (solid GOLD, I tell you), smeared all over the counter, Learning Tower, and the remaining half stick thrown on the kitchen floor.

– Half the bottle of Murphy’s Oil Floor Cleaner squirted all over the freshly washed dining room floor/toddler hands/shirt.

– And by far the weirdest, her very own blood smeared along the wall, all over the crib rails, and her sheets, from a small cut to her foot she somehow got during her nap, while surrounded by entirely soft objects (I checked multiple times for any hidden sharp objects. Nothing. No idea how she cut her foot, and no idea how a tiny cut could bleed SO MUCH).

Sigh. Poor Lucy hasn’t been out of the house since an hour in Church last Sunday. She, and now Lena, have had a bad cold, so that plus the arctic weather here have kept us quite housebound and stir crazy. At least it’s Lent!

But, her cute moments outweigh her mischievous ones:

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This one’s pretty cute, too:

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IMG_0677 IMG_0676Stay warm and sane, people!