Fighting off Advent Apprehension

Can I tell you something? This used to be my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, I looked forward to this time of year all year long. But now I kind of dread it.  And not because I’m a mom and I have more to do this time of year.  It’s because there seems to be so much pressure these days, especially on Catholic moms, to “get it right.”  To do Advent right and Christmas right.  The questions and blog posts have already started.

Do you do Santa?

When do you set up the tree?

Are you successful at keeping Advent sacred and unsullied by Christmas revelry until midnight of Christmas Eve?

Maybe it’s just my easy-going personality, but I think my McFamily did things pretty well.  We were always very aware of and into the Advent season. We had our Advent wreath and usually a paper Advent calendar and we could take turns opening the door for the day. Later in my childhood my mom found this Advent read-aloud called Jotham’s Journey that we all really enjoyed.  But, we also got our Christmas tree usually half way through the month and we decorated it right away, while listening to Christmas music. We believed in Santa Clause, but we would also get a present from Baby Jesus on Christmas morning. Some years we went to the Christmas Eve Mass and but later on we mostly went to Mass on Christmas morning, some years before opening presents if I remember correctly! My point is, I think my parents did a good job of teaching us about the true meaning of Christmas.  We knew Advent was a season of preparation, but we also were excited about Christmas coming and enjoyed the magic of the decorations, the music, the special movies and treats.

I understand the intent behind this “keep Advent sacred” movement.  We live in a world where the Halloween candy appears at stores in July and Santa shows up in September.  I get it, we all need to reel it in and recognize that Christmas is on December 25th and the season of Advent comes before so that we can prayerfully prepare our hearts and our homes.  But, maybe it’s because I’m not much a disciplined, austere person myself that I don’t see the harm in a decorated tree on December 12th and Christmas songs playing while making dinner in December.  As an adult, and especially since becoming a Mom, the darkness descending outside at 4:30pm makes the rest of life feel dark, but that month-6 weeks that we have the tree up and the other seasonal comforts really helps everyone’s moods.  Furthermore, it helps me keep my focus on Christ and embrace and share the joy of the season.

I’m not trying to poo-poo anyone who works really hard at not mixing Advent and Christmas, I’m just saying I don’t think it ruins Advent when we slowly add in merriment as we build towards the Christmas feast.

We’re all journeying to the same place, but we all have different paths.  I might change my mind, or gradually become more strict about Advent and Christmas.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit will move my husband and me to try new things as we build our family traditions and strive to grow in holiness.  It’s happened before! I just don’t like this idea that if you do certain things at Christmastime, participate in certain more secular activities and traditions, that you are doing it wrong, and you’re damaging your kids.  There’s so much real darkness and evil in the world, why are we giving our neighbors a hard time about how they celebrate Christmas and the holidays?  We are each responsible for our own families, for our children and their moral growth, and nobody else’s and we should have faith that the Lord is working in other people’s hearts and families, just like ours.

Anyway, I’m going to try not to let this apprehension about Advent take me over.  Sometime in the next few days, I need to make sure I pick up new Advent candles.  I’m going to try to finish up Christmas shopping so I have time to do Christmas cards and Gus’ stocking in December. I’m going to pull out our Christmas books and make sure we start reading about the Nativity so it’s all fresh in Sara’s mind.  I have it on good authority that St. Nicholas is bringing Sara and Gus their own Nativity scene on December 6th.  [Although, as an aside, I’m getting the feeling that some people think that the Fisher Price Little-People Nativity is not authentic or beautiful enough? No, it’s not Fontanini, but it is toddler proof. I love Melissa and Doug and all things classy and wood like any other middle class American mom, but I do get so weary of the war against plastic toys.]

I think our world is desperate for the peace and joy of Christ, don’t you? That’s what I’m going to try to focus on this Advent and Christmas.


7QT: Frivolous Minutiae

  1. Christy pulled on my heartstrings yesterday with her “I miss blogs” post.  I really miss them too. Needless to say, our little sisters blog here has never and will never be big.  My older sisters have always struggled to find time to blog with their growing families and I’ve been struggling with that too.  More than that, though, I’ve been struggling with what the point is.  I’m not click-baity, I don’t have a major theme or area of expertise, and  I’m also not terribly deep or inspirational. Honestly, I try to keep it light and even frivolous.  But is that okay? Is that allowed? It’s strange how the internet and blogs started out as this place where there were no rules and you could just do your thing, but now it seems like there are rules and you have to play the game right.  I’m not on board with that at all.  Anyway, I’m going to still plug away when I can with my bits and pieces of frivolity. And I hope, if you have a little corner of the internet, that you will keep at it too. :)
  2.  I shared on Instagram a while back that I’ve been making this certain dish for lunch for myself.
    Brussles sprouts and onions sauteed in butter with soft boiled eggs on top. Salt 'n peppa!

    Brussles sprouts and onions sauteed in butter with soft boiled eggs on top. Salt ‘n peppa

    I usually aim to eat my lunch after the kiddos are down for a nap (for obvious reasons) but today I made lunch while they were eating and sat down to eat when they were done and supposed to be playing.

  3. Gus is an Oliver type of kid, minus the starving orphan part.  Just the “Please sir, I want some more”, minus the please part.  He most certainly won’t eat my brussles sprouts and eggs, though.  I give him a bite to show him.  But he still won’t stop bothering me and climbing all over the table.


    I don’t know that that is, but I want it, Mommy.

  4. Then Sara walks by and says “I fink Gussie has a poopy.” Sure enough, it was a 6 alarm situation in his diaper.  And meanwhile, my beautiful, delicious lunch grew cold on the table.  Lesson learned: no deviating from naptime lunches!
  5. Childbearing ladies of the interwebs, I had to share this recent purchase of mine with you: 

Loft Mosaic Pintucked Shirtdress

I’m super stoked about this dress because not only is it flattering on me now (not pregnant), but it also has room for a first-second trimester bump and it buttons in the front so it’s perfect for nursing.  I consider that a sound investment! Loft is having a 40% sale right now (like always), but maybe if you hold off they’ll have one of their flash sales and it’ll be even cheaper.

6.  I’ve been planning on trying out Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue because it’s name alone sounds like it would help my adolescent skin issues, and also Fran recommends it and she is my fashion and beauty guru.  However, after doing a little research (*cough* googling good BB cream for oily skin *cough*) I stumbled upon Dr. Jart Dis-A-Pore beauty balm and this stuff sounds like magic! Plus it has Dr. in the name, so it will cure my acne, right? Right? Anybody else tried it/heard about it?  I’m waiting to get some Amazon points before I pull the trigger.

7. And, just to make sure this a completely random post, you all really need to make this crockpot soup ASAP.  It’s been a favorite of ours all this fall.

Alrighty, that’s quite enough of my random ramblings.  Check out the other quick takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

How To: Sara’s Light-Up Play Kitchen

Dave typed this up for me a loooong time ago and I’ve dragged my feet about posting it.  Why?  I have no idea!  Maybe because he totally shows me up in the awesome, DIY post department!  Haha! No, really, he AMAZES me.  Anyway, in case any of you out there are handy and itching to undertake a project for your kiddos for Christmas, this post is for you! 

Sara’s 3rd birthday was [6 months ago]. Time sure flies! Last year I built Sara a light-up play kitchen for her 2nd birthday. At the time, I promised Ellen I would write up a post detailing how I put it together. Well, it only took me a year to finish writing it up, but here it is! For those of you that missed it, here’s the final product:


The Inspiration

It was Ellen’s idea to build a kitchen for Sara in the first place. There are countless blog posts on the Internet about repurposing old cabinets into a play kitchen, but we didn’t have any old cabinets lying around, and I really wanted to build something from scratch.

So we started looking around online for inspiration. Ellen was really taken with this one by Nikole, which is where a lot of the design idea came from. I also drew from this post for construction ideas and appropriate dimensions.

But being a huge nerd, I wanted a kitchen that would light up! Again, I looked around online for what people had done already for light-up kitchens. This one using rope LEDs was pretty cool. So was this one that used Christmas lights. And this one, as the title correctly states, is a masterpiece. The woodwork is stunning, but I didn’t like how the LED neon looks. I ended up figuring out a much better solution using orange side-emitting LED bars I found here.

The Plan

Now that I had figured out what I wanted the kitchen to look like, I set about making plans. I originally sketched this up on paper, but I made a nifty diagram for this post.

colors with

(Here’s the source SVG in case you want to modify it.)

Most of the plan is dictated by the dimensions of lumber I was able to find at our nearby Lowe’s and the approximate size of a 2-year-old. I used four dimensions of lumber, as indicated by the different colors. (A detailed list of materials and tools are at the end of the post.) Since I don’t own a table saw, I tried to minimize the number of cuts to simplify the work.

The primary material is 21/32” x 16” x 8′ furniture boards. It comes is two grades: paint-grade and stain-grade. The paint-grade, as the name implies, is composed of a bunch of small pieces of wood glued together in a way that really makes it only suitable for painting. The stain-grade is made of much larger boards so you can stain it, but it’s more expensive. I opted for the cheaper paint-grade wood, but I regret the decision. It’s fine now that it’s put together, but the boards were just really poor quality. They took a lot of wood filler to fix flaws and the glued joints even came apart a couple times. Nothing a little wood glue couldn’t fix, but it was annoying.

The 21/32” thickness of the furniture boards is a goofy dimension that makes some of the other dimensions seem a little strange. I wouldn’t actually recommend that you try to cut everything to the precise dimensions listed ahead of time. I waited to cut the boards until I needed to and cut multiple boards at once (clamped together) to guarantee they were the right fit.

I also put together a wiring diragram. (SVG here.)

The orange lines are 2 LED bars (one is cut in half for each burner). The brown lines are 18/2 thermostat wire I found at Lowes. The boxes are 3 LED dimmers I found on Amazon. Make sure you connect the red and black wires exactly as shown in the diagram! The voltage is low so it’s not really dangerous, but you could break the electrical components.


  • 2 – 21/32” x 16” x 8′ furniture boards – Lowe’s
  • 1/2” x 4′ x 4′ sanded plywood – Lowe’s
  • 1/2” x 4” x 3′ pine board (for shelf) – Lowe’s
  • 1 1/8” x 8” pine board (at least 16” long) – Lowe’s
  • 1” x 3” pine board (at least 4′ long) – Lowe’s
  • 10” x 8” x 0.093” clear plexiglass (for oven window) – Lowe’s
  • Wirenuts (for joining wires) – Lowe’s
  • Magnetic cabinet catch – Lowe’s
  • Painters’ tape – Lowe’s
  • 18/2 thermostat wire – Lowe’s
  • #8 0.625” Black screws (for fixing plexiglass to bottom of oven) – Lowe’s
  • Quart of light green semigloss paint (for back panel) – Lowe’s
  • Quart of dark, dark grey semigloss paint (for inside of oven) – Lowe’s
  • Quart of white semigloss paint (for shelf and outside of cabinet) – Lowe’s
  • Assorted hooks – Lowe’s
  • 12V 4W LED spotlight (for oven light) – Amazon
  • 12V 30W LED power supply – Amazon
  • Gas range knobs – Amazon
  • Rocker switch – Amazon
  • 3 – 12V LED dimmers – Amazon
  • Kreg 1 1/4” fine pocket screws – Amazon
  • 12” continuous hinge – Amazon
  • Bar sink – Amazon
  • 4 qt stainless steel bowl – Amazon
  • 16 1/2” x 12 3/4” baking rack – Amazon
  • 16” tension rod – Amazon
  • 2 – Orange LED light bars – Super Bright LEDs
  • 2 – 1/8″ x 15.875″ x 15.875″ smoked tinted plexiglass (12% transmittance) – eBay. This guy sells lots of sizes. Just browse to find a matching auction. Make sure to request one be cut to 15” x 15.875” and the other to 12” x 14”.
    12 5/8” bar pull (for oven door) –
  • Wood glue – Lowe’s
  • 5 minute epoxy – Lowe’s
  • Wood filler – Lowe’s


  • Drill with 1/4”, 3/4”, 1”, 1 3/4” drill bits and a countersink bit
  • Saw (I used a handheld circular saw)
  • Jigsaw
  • Router with 1/4” straight bit, 1/2” straight bit, and 3/8” corner round bit
  • Electric sander
  • Soldering iron (or electrical tape)
  • Saw horses
  • Kreg mini pocket screw jig kit – Amazon
  • Clamps for jig
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Printer (to print templates)
  • Razor blade
  • Carpenter’s square

The Burners

The first thing I built was the top burners. I cut one LED bar in half to use one half for each burner. The LED bar has special cut lines marked where you are able to cut. You can also cut exactly in the middle where you see a soldered spot. The LED bars come with wire leads on each end so you can light them up independently. Be really careful and use a sharp pair of scissors. If you get too close to one of the LEDs on either side, you might break it.

I made a spiral template in Inkscape and printed it out. (Here’s the SVG.) I then cut a 16” length of the 1 1/8” x 1” board. I marked a spot 5” from each end of the board, directly in the middle where each spiral burner will be centered. I poked holes along the pattern and placed it centered on the first spot. I pushed a pencil in the template holes to transfer the pattern. Then I removed the template, connected the dots, and repeated for the other burner. Finally, I laid the LED bar along to pattern and marked the spot where it ended.


I drilled a 1/4” hole in the very center of each spiral. Then I put a 1/4” straight bit in a fixed base router. (Actually a slightly larger bit would’ve worked better since the LED bar is a bit wider than 1/4” but that’s what I had.) I adjusted the router depth to about 2/3” and followed the spiral from the center carving a channel in the wood. The channel is what will be lit up by the LEDs. I went back along the channel to widen enough for the LED bar, then sanded and blew out dust.


I threaded the LED bar’s wire leads through the center hole and pressed the LED bar into the channel, starting at the center. Be very careful! The LED connections are very fragile. (I actually broke one bar by being too rough, but Sara really liked the stickers that SuperBrightLEDs sends with each package.)


Now if you were to just place the black plexiglass on top, it would still just look like a string of LEDs. The trick is to put in a layer of tissue paper to diffuse the light. I used gift bag tissue paper we had lying around.


The Top

To make the top, I placed one whole furniture board up on saw horses. I marked where the vertical furniture boards would sit underneath. Then I marked the openings for the cooktop and sink.

In the left 16” bay, we’ll put the cook top. Trace a square 13 1/4” wide and 11 1/4” deep, 2” from the front of the board, centered in the 16” bay. At each corner, mark 1/2” in from both sides. Then I drilled a 1” whole at these marks leaving a hole that touches the edge at each corner.

Then I cut out the rest of the rectangle with a jigsaw. (This rectangle is saved for use by the bottom oven element.) I first made a rough cut by cutting from one hole to the next. Then I clamped a board along each line with room for the jigsaw and cut along it. This will give you nice sharp lines.


I used the router with a 3/8” corner round bit to round the cut edge and give it a nice curve. While I was at it, I rounded the front of the board as well.

I flipped the board over, centered the smaller black plexiglass over the cut out and traced around it with a pencil. Then I removed the plexiglass and carved out the wood at a depth slightly less than the depth of the plexiglass with a 1/2” straight bit.


Next I did the sink. I centered the bowl in the right bay, upside-down, 2” from the front and traced an outline with a pencil. Then I trace a line about 1/8-1/4” inside of the other line. This inner line is what I cut so the bowl can rest on its lip. Then I made two marks 4” apart, 2 1/4” from the back of the board and 6” from either side of the bay. I drill a 1” whole at each of these marks and another at some point inside sink line. Starting from the hole you I drilled inside the sink line, I used a jigsaw to cut along the entire inner sink line. Then I sanded smooth and tested the fit.


The Bottom

I placed the other furniture board on the saw horses and marked off where the center board will go (16” from the end of the board). I centered this template (SVG here), and transferred with pencil just like the burners. I place the 2nd light bar on the pencil line starting at the center and marked the ends. I drilled a 1/4” at one end and used the 1/4” router bit to carve out a channel. This time, however, the channel was carved all the way through the wood. After I made sure the LEDs fit easily, I glued and screwed the rectangle from the cook top underneath the channel. I drilled a 1/4” hole at one end for the wire to pass through, and I clipped the wires off the other end of the LED bar since they aren’t needed.


Front Knobs

The LED dimmers function as the knobs for the burners and the oven element. I used razor blade to cut off the white pointer on the top of the knob so the surface was flat. Then I glued the range knobs on top with epoxy. (My knobs had a metal ring with labels on top. I removed it. It also included a black spacer which I needed.)


I cut a 16” length of the 1” x 3” board and drilled 3 – 3/4” holes at 4” intervals where the burner knobs. I also drilled a 3/4” hole at 1 1/2” from the left side for the oven switch. Unfortunately, the board was too thick for the space between the dimmer and the knob. So I used a 1/2” straight bit in my router to thin the back of the board where the dimmers would sit by about 1/4”.

Cutting and Assembling

I laid the top and bottom furniture boards on top of each other, used two scraps of the furniture board to offset the edge of the bottom, clamped together, and cut. That guaranteed they will be a good fit. Out of the remainders, I cut the 2 side boards, the center board, the over door and the board that fits underneath the burners. In this last board I drilled a 1 3/4” hole in the center for the overhead light. Finally, I cut a 1” x 3” board to fit the bottom front of the cabinet.

To make the oven door, I cut a 7 3/8” x 9 3/8” rectangle out of the door piece using the same rounded corner trick from the stove top. I did not round the edges with my router, but I did smooth the edges with a sander. I centered the 8” x 10” clear plexiglass on the back side of the door and traced with a pencil. I used my router with a straight bit to carve out the traced line so the plexiglass would be recessed.

I used the Kreg pocket screw jig to drill holes underneath the bottom and top boards to join the wood. Then I screwed everything together (except the door), using a carpenter’s square.


After it was put together I used my router to carve a channel both sides of the oven for rack to slide in from the back. I didn’t go all the way to the front so the rack is not removable once the back is in place.

For the back panel, I wanted a curved top. I took a length of string from the center of the bottom to 34” on one side. Then keeping it at the same length, I used it to trace an arc from one side of the board to the other with a pencil. I cut along this line with a jigsaw and rounded it with my router. Since the plywood edges were rough, I filled them with wood filler and sanded smooth.

Next I made the shelf. I cut the 1/2” x 4” to an inch shorter than the back panel. I used the string again to trace a quarter circle on either side and cut with a jigsaw. I rounded the top outside edge with my router.

Now came painting. First I removed the bottom stove panel. Using painter’s tape, I painted the inside of the oven dark gray and the outside white. I painted the bottom stove panel and over door to match. I painted the shelf white. I painted the back panel green at the top, black behind the over and white behind the sink cabinet. I used two coats of paint on everything.



Once the paint dried, I flipped the cabinet over. I wired lengths of wire to each dimmer and screwed in place with some drywall screws that happened to be the right size. I drilled holes in the four corners of each piece of plexiglass just wider than the width of the screws then screwed in place with clear silicone caulk. The larger black piece is just wide enough to fit on top of the oven element and leaves enough room in the front for the door hinge. Then I screwed the burner board in place.

Next, I put everything together except the panel underneath the stove top. To attach the back panel I used wood screws buried with a countersink bit. I drilled a small hole in the back of the top cabinet to pass wire though to the underside of the cabinet and wired everything together with wire nuts. The power supply screwed to the bottom of cabinet. The overhead light I bought wasn’t really meant to be wired up this way. I used a soldering iron to attach wires to the leads. I pressed the bulb into the hole I cut, wired it in, and screwed the panel in place.


I installed the sink and screwed in a bunch of hooks under the shelf and on the side. I attached the oven door with a hinge, added the handle, and screwed in the magnetic catch.

As a finishing touch, Ellen sewed a curtain from some strawberry patterned fabric. I hung it with a tension rod in the space under the sink. And that’s that!


{phfr} Apple Picking

Today is a perfect crisp fall day and we had absolutely nothing planned so I decided apple picking was the plan.  But I’ll be honest, my main goal wasn’t to pick apples.  In order of importance, my goals were to:
1. Inhale a cider donut.

2. Repeat 1.  Maybe share with the kids… maybe save some to bring home for Dave.  Maybe.

3. Use the real camera for the first time in months!

4. Enjoy the fall day with the kiddos.

5. Pick apples.

Herein lies my {real (disappointing)}.  There were no cider donuts!!!  They promised me cider donuts and there were no cider donuts!  Harumph!


See? I told you it is the perfect fall day!

See? I told you it is the perfect fall day!

I can't get over this perfect fashion blogger pose. Ha!

I can’t get over this perfect fashion blogger pose. Ha!

{happy}IMG_5032 IMG_5034

This place had a fun train ride out to the apples and to a play place for the kids.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sara picked apples off the trees and Gus picked apples off the ground and threw them, because that’s what he does.



Sara in the car cracks me up.

Sara in the car cracks me up.

Linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter for {phfr}. Go check them out and have a wonderful fall day, wherever you are!

Highs and Lows

Welp, it’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve blogged. And I’ll just put it out there for the 3 of you who aren’t members of my family and have been wondering where I’ve been: I’m not pregnant! That’s right, my 3 month blogging hiatus is not due to exhaustion and morning sickness. I’m just lazy. But we all knew that!

Now that that’s out of the way, I thought I’d use a certain, unoriginal, tried and true method of blogging to jot down a little bit about our summer and early fall: the highs and lows post.

July Highs:
Dave and I escaped and went out on a fancy, long date to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and then dinner for our anniversary.IMG_4572

The kids and I spent a week in New York while Jane was in town and all the sibs briefly got together (to take a picture).



None that I can think of… Well, July might have been the month that we let our tenant get a dog. Sigh…

August Highs:
The garden was in high gear giving us more produce than we could handle, especially tomatoes! I actually froze a ton of them this year and we’ve been using them in soups and chili. It makes me feel very Ma Ingalls-ish. Except she didn’t have a freezer.IMG_4779

My friend Annemarie hosted a FUS reunion that we made it to and that was a blast! It was nice to catch up with old friends and see our kids play together.

Sara got a tummy bug at the tail end of the month and it was so sad.IMG_4771

September Highs:
We took an epic trip down to Raleigh to visit some of Dave’s family and then to Virginia Beach to soak up the last bit of the summer. And I was able to reconnect with a dear college friend while in Virginia Beach! We went on a sushi date and it was glorious!IMG_4854

When we got back, our preschool co-op started back up, and Sara LOVES it. Her pre-literacy skills are just exploding. My former preschool teacher self is totally geeking out over her academic growth.

GUS FINALLY STARTED WALKING! Listen, people. The kid is 27 pounds. It was time he started pulling his own weight around here.IMG_4927

Everyone (except me!) came down with a stomach bug while we were on our epic trip. So. much. puke. And Sara had only gotten over her other stomach bug a couple of weeks before this one! I’m really trying not to let that whole ordeal color my impression of the entire trip but I’m not succeeding.IMG_4840

With the cold setting in at the end of September, some little furry friends decided to move on into our cozy house. We’ve had mice here and there over the last 4 years that we’ve lived here, but this is the first time that we’ve had some in the attic (how did they get up there????) as well as in our kitchen and bathroom. Any recommendations for your best traps would be appreciated! I’m really trying to fake it till I make it, because I know it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but! ! ! They’re gross.

Well, that kind of covers it I guess! I’m not going to make grand promises of more consistent blogging, but I don’t intend to shut it all down or anything.  So if anyone is still reading, thank you. :) You’re a very patient and charitable person, and I like you.



7QT: Whaddup wid us

Linking up with Bonnie today for 7 quick takes.  Make sure to click back there and congratulate her on her big news!

1. Worst mommy (blogger) ever over here.  Gus’ birthday was 2(?) weeks ago and I still can’t believe the dude is one.  Except I can, because he’s the size of a 2 year old.  He is bigger than Sara was when she was 2, and she’s no peanut!  He needs to walk soon for my lower back and left hip’s sake.  My left arm, however, is looking quite svelte! IMG_4566

2.  He is such a jolly fellow, though.  He says Momma, Dadda, thank you and happy, and sometimes “puhboo” for peekaboo.  He’s only nursing once a day now so he’s been taking little milk bottles during the day and he’s OBSESSED with them.  And he finally popped his top front teeth and it seems like the side ones on the top and bottom are close too.IMG_4480

3.  Oh! And most importantly, he sleeps!  I thought he never would sleep through the night, but at the beginning of June Dave finally had it with the night wakings and subsequent grumpy wife the next day, so he took it upon himself to deal with Gus’ wakings in order to break the night nursing.  And it worked!  I’m wondering why we didn’t night wean sooner.  Now I know for next time.  Life is so much better with sleep, ya’ll.

4.  Sara is loving summer time in her backyard and her swimming lessons.  Swimming lessons are her first “little thing” that she’s done. This fall, she’ll be doing Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at a nearby parish and I’m so excited for her to experience that, not only for the catechesis, but also for the independent learning experience with her friends. My friends and I are also doing the co-op again, and this coming year Sara will be in the classroom with me.  She’s VERY excited about that and I’m excited to see how much she grows in the next year.  3/4/5 year olds were my specialty back in my teaching days, so I’m looking forward to experiencing that age group again with my own kids.IMG_4428

5.  Life has been humming along at a good pace.  I feel like we’ve finally made our backyard a comfortable place to hang out,  so we’ve been doing a lot of that lately.  Dave made us a huge picnic table which we christened on the Fourth of July when we had some friends over, and since then we’ve been trying to have dinner out there when the weather allows.


6.  The garden is doing pretty well now!  We were worried it was all going to be a wash in June when our backyard groundhog decided that it was his garden, not ours.  We weren’t able to harvest much broccoli and no snap peas at all because of his pilfering, but since we put out a trap, he’s stayed away.  He’s a pretty old guy (or gal?) and I wonder if he knows what the deal is with the trap and he’s keeping his distance?  Anyway, we haven’t had an issue since.  We did have an issue with squash root borers in one of our zucchini plants, but the rest seem unaffected.  We have more yellow squash than we know what to do with! I’m thinking of trying to make these soon.


Carrots too!

7.  Tomorrow we’re going on a date for our anniversary (which was on the fourth of July)!  We’re finally going to check out the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and then get dinner in the city somewhere.  This is a big deal for us homebodies!

Happy weekend, everyone! I’ll be following along with all you Edel ladies on Instagram, trying not to be too jelly. 😉

7QT: Homeowner Headaches

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum to share this week’s dramatic novella. Seems like Kelly has had an eventful week too!

1. This week has been one of those homeowner headache weeks.  Last weekend, it seemed like our washing machine, which we bought used and refurbished 4 years ago, had finally kicked the can, because every time I did a wash, the floor in front of the washer and dryer was a big puddle.  We played around with it a bit; Dave made sure the washing machine was level, since the floor is very much not, but that didn’t seem to help.  Every time we went downstairs there was more water. We were pretty sure it was the washing machine’s fault.  We looked behind the machines to try to find the leak and while there was some water on the walls, it was mostly on the floor.  We pulled the machine out a bit and from how much it sloshed when we did that we concluded it must be the machine.

2.  By Monday, we decided that it must be broken, so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new washer and a dryer while we were at it since it was only a matter of time before the dryer went too, right?  That’s when we discovered that there’s no middle of the line when it comes to washers and dryers.  There’s bottom of the line and top of the line; bottom of the line is expensive and top of the line is outrageous.  We ordered this bottom-ish washer and the dryer that goes with it, but it was only after we ordered it that I read the reviews.  “Do not buy this washing machine!” “This machine doesn’t get your clothes clean.” Blerg.

3. Immediately, I had buyers remorse and told Dave we should probably cancel the order and do more research.  Dave just wanted to fix the problem and was irritated by the fact that he apparently made another problem by buying new machines.  My sister Jane talked me off the ledge by telling me that all these new energy efficient washers do a crappy job washing because they don’t use enough water.  Ordinarily, I’m 100% on board with new shiny things, but now I was mourning the loss of my ancient Whirlpool with the old fashioned agitator and inefficient water usage.  At least my clothes were always clean!

4. On Tuesday, I wanted to use the treadmill which is right next to the washer and dryer.  I texted Dave at work and asked him if it was dangerous to use the treadmill what with the puddles always seeping out.  He said no as long as there wasn’t water near the treadmill plug.


Never mind.

5. Wednesday: it’s still leaking and I’m still second guessing our washer and dryer order.  And I’m freaking the freak out.  Mystery leaks make me paranoid and panicy.  I blame Dave for making me watch Holmes on Homes with him.

6.  Yesterday I went downstairs to find this.


I don’t know why this picture is coming out sideways in the final post. I guess it figures though, right?

Oh come on! It can’t be the washing machine, I haven’t used it since last weekend!  Last night we pulled it all the way out and mopped up all the water and then waited.  We came back down a couple hours later and there was more water where the washing machine used to be, but where was it coming from?  Dave tried turning the valve off that goes to our hose outside, and then we went to bed.  We woke up this morning and it’s dry.

7. I’m still skeptical.  But at least this means our washing machine is off the hook and we don’t have to spend an outrageous amount of money for crappy new machines.  Is the saga of the mystery leak over?  Let’s hope so, but I’m not counting on it!

WIWS & Flag Day

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday.

Hellooooo What I wore Sunday! I’ve missed you.

Dress: Gap Shoes: Famous Footwear Belt: Super old H&M

Dress: Gap
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Belt: Super old H&M

If I could only wear navy and cognac for the rest of my life, I would do so happily.  I’m just a big fan of that combo, and I think it looks good no matter what the season.

This dress is pretty much perfect in every way.  The material is light but not see-through, and the waist is gathered and elasticized in a flattering way and the length is just below the knee.  And it has pockets!  I don’t know why pockets make a dress, but they just do.

And my shoes are also a recent purchase and I’m so in love with them.  Remember in the fall when I said I was on the hunt for cognac flats?  Well I never found them and I eventually gave up the hunt because winter descended and I lived in boots for several months.  I pinned these almost identical Frye flats sometime over the winter, but I never thought I’d find something similar that would fit my big wide feet comfortably. When I found these at Famous Footwear, for a fraction of the price of the Fryes but still decent quality and so comfortable, I pounced.

.        .        .       .       .       .       .

So! Did you know that today is Flag Day? If you live in my town you do because my town takes Flag Day very seriously.

We have a parade.

Sara has always loved the parade because she loves vehicles, and she loves waving to people.  This year it was even more exciting because we let her eat the candy that they threw from the floats.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


This is Gus’ first ex-utero flag day parade.  Last year his view was a little obstructed.


Whew! What a difference a year makes!


7QT: Terrorists, Dentists and Better Homes and Gardens

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum and Clan Donaldson so I can dump all my thoughts and fears and pictures into one big post. You’re welcome!

1.  It’s been a crazy week.  I’m generally a pretty upbeat person, but everything going on in the world lately has me feeling a little depressed.  The Duggars (I liked Laura’s take that whole thing), Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, and then to top it all off, on Tuesday morning, the Boston police along with the FBI killed a terrorist wielding a giant knife which he was intending to use to behead someone, 2 miles from my house.  That last one literally hit too close to home for me.  Pray, pray, pray.

2. I’ve also been in the process of getting a crown. 

This actually has not been as traumatic as I thought it would be.  I’ve needed this crown for years, but I’ve been putting it off because $$$ and *scared*.  But now it seems like it’s the perfect time for me to get extensive dental work done.  For starters, after having 2 kids nothing much scares me anymore when it comes to medical things (famous last words).  But also, it’s been really nice to have little breaks from the kids.  My babysitter is back from college and Sara has been loving having her over to play.  It’s a win-win. And I get a crown. 😉

3.  Poor Gus has been having teeth issues too, so we’ve not been getting much sleep lately.  At 11 months, he still only has his bottom two teeth and from the way he’s been carrying on, you’d think he was about to pop another 10 teeth any minute.  I hope that’s what happens!  But in reality, it’ll probably be a couple more weeks of misery and then he’ll pop one measly tooth.  Gah!  I feel for the dude, I really do.

4.  I really shouldn’t be complaining because Dave and I both had a nice little break from the monsters this past Sunday.  Our wonderful babysitter came over mid-morning and we got to go out for brunch (best meal of the day!) and then we did the historical homes tour in our town.  More like, Better Homes and Gardens tour!  These houses were amazing! I guess I was expecting historical homes, you know, old and charming, but with sloping floors and maybe a little chipping paint? No, these houses were magazine perfect.  Every inch of each of the 5 houses was flawlessly updated and their yards and gardens were meticulous.  It was really fun, albeit a little overwhelming.  We felt like such schlumps! If only these people knew what part of town we live in!IMG_4348 IMG_4350

5. I didn’t take too many pictures because I thought that would be a little creepy, but one of the houses is for sale, in case you’re in the market and have 1.8 million dollars burning a hole in your pocket.

6. But wait, do you want lots of pictures? I thought since Cari started a link-up, I’d share some pictures of our garden so far.  We are the worst at weeding, which is why we mulch like crazy, but there’s still grass and weeds poking up.  Just keepin’ it real. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe big net thing in the back is our trellis for the cantaloup, cucumbers and green beans.  Hopefully it holds up! We have two rows of broccoli there on the left side of the garden.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s squash in the middle there, and under the mesh canopy, there are peppers and basil.  Every year our basil and peppers are eaten by beetles in July, so Dave got this canopy.  But, we’re thinking we need to take it off soon so the peppers can be pollinated.  We’ll see what happens with this set-up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are two tomato plants in the back there and then rows of onions, carrots and lettuce.  Clearly we need to be eating more salads!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the far right side of the garden is our strawberry patch.  We have them covered with netting and that seems to be keeping many of the pests away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey’re doing really well so far! We’ve been getting about 5-10 strawberries a day since Monday.  Sara loves it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, we have these monster snap peas in the front.  They’ve grown way taller than the fence but they’re finally started blossoming, so peas should come soon!

7.  We have a fun weekend ahead of us! My sisters Mary and Joanie are coming in tomorrow and on Sunday, Mary and I are running a 5K.  And guys! It’s Donut Day, so when Gus wakes up from his morning nap, we’re walking to the neighborhood Dunkies for our free donuts. If you walk there and back, the calories don’t count, right? Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Almost to the Finish Line

I’ve run across several good blog posts lately about nursing (this one from Like Mother Like Daughter and this one from Call Her Happy are at the top of my head right now) that have helped me reflect now that I’m nearing the finish line with Gus.  He’s 11 months old today, and things seem to be winding down a bit in the nursing department.  I’m sure we have a few more months to go, but we’re close enough to the end that I think I can finally see the forest for the trees. 


No breastmilk for you, baby birds.

I am so grateful to my mom and my older sisters for being my “collective memory” as Auntie Leila puts it, and for making nursing normal to me.  I think that, more than anything else, was the driving force behind my sticking it out with SK.  I struggled so much with nursing her.  After experiencing a long, painful labor ending in a c-section (and then some other very trying times right after she was born) I ended up being totally dependent on a nipple shield that a helpful nurse at the hospital provided us with.  And I was so humiliated! I already felt like such a failure after having that first c-section, and then to be dependent on the shield was such a blow.  I tried to get her off of it but eventually I just let go and accepted the fact everything was working fine with the darn thing.  Now looking back, I can see that the shield really wasn’t a big deal.

The bigger deal for me with nursing was being blindsided by the all-consuming nature of it. I had just finished 9 plus months of being pregnant and then a traumatic birth, and now I was supposed to somehow recover mentally and physically whilst still being attached to this needy little baby 24-7?  I was not prepared for that.  I was not prepared for the fact that you are on call all the time, there are no subs, baby wants and needs you! And then to add insult to injury, you lose half your hair! That motherhood 101 course… it’s a doozy.

So, this time around with Gus, I was more prepared in some ways.  I was determined to do things without a shield this time, and I succeeded! … after 2 and a half painful months.  Gus has a bit of a tongue tie, which we had checked out by the pediatrician and a specialist who both told us that it was minor enough that he would grow out of it.  And they were right, he has, but those first couple of months were incredibly painful.  Between that and the fact that he would nurse every 2 hours on the nose, all through the night for the first couple of months, Dave was ready to hop in the car and buy some formula.  I was a mess.

Nursing can be so tough! I have friends who don’t struggle much with it at all, and I have friends who struggle greatly and are not able to nurse for long, if at all.  I try to be encouraging to women who are nursing because it’s so worth it, it’s worth a try, it’s worth the pain and the sleepless nights.  Like Rosie said in her post this morning, just wait a few weeks and things will be better.  But also, it’s okay to get help.  It’s okay to use a nipple shield, or a pacifier, or to pump or to supplement.  These aren’t moral issues; you have to figure out how to make it work for you.

Now here I am almost to the finish line of my second nursing marathon.  This is my sweet spot emotionally and physically with nursing.  He’s not nursing a ton anymore, so I can get out for hours at a time without him, but we still have our sweet moments together after naps and at night.  I don’t take for granted the fact that Dave and I will have more kids; Gus might be my last baby, so I’m soaking up his babyhood.  But at the same time, I’m ready and I’m grateful for the break coming soon.  And he’s getting ready to take off on those chubby legs of his!

I wish I could tell myself back in those stressful early nursing days with Sara, “Nursing is hard but you’ll come to like it one day. And the best part is, it doesn’t last forever!”

[A certain fluffy towhead interrupted the writing of this post to, you guessed it, nurse.]