Almost Christmas Combo (7QT) {phfr}

Is it blasphemy to combine these two great link-ups?  I guess I’ll find out!



1. We got our tree last Saturday so we’ve been enjoying our Christmas tree honeymoon.  We made the switch from colored to white light lights, and I have to admit I’ve been loving every minute of it!


2. We always go to the same little farm to get our tree, Pakeen Farm. It’s a sweet, family run place, and they have the most delicious hot mini cider donuts and hot cocoa! Sara had fun running around all the trees, saying hi to the light up Santa and (not pictured) partaking in her most recent favorite pastime (and my least favorite of all time) of checking out the bathroom!


We bought this on Sara Kate's first Christmas and now she finally gets it!

3. We bought this on Sara Kate’s first Christmas and now she finally gets it!

Every day they grow to be better buddies!

4. Every day they grow to be better buddies!


5. Poor SK.  She dropped an unopened Costco jar of peanut butter on her toe yesterday.  We ended up at the doctor’s office because they wanted to check and see if it was broken.  So it was a day of some firsts for SK: first real bloody incident (she didn’t know it was called blood so she kept on saying “It’s red Mommy! There’s more red!”) and first x-ray (calling it a silly robot taking pictures of her foot seemed to make it less scary).  But in the end, it was not broken and she got a special viewing of Frosty the Snowman when she got home, so not too shabby!


Can’t…stop…eating…muddy buddies…

6.  I’ve started the Christmas baking and treat making over here. It’s great, and I’m excited to deliver plates and tins of goodies to my neighbors and friends, and I love sneaking bites here and there and freezing some for us for later… but I’m really trying personally not to overdo it this year because I’ve made a New Year resolution.  Well, a first 20ish days of January resolution.  I’m going to do a sugar detox before my 30th birthday at the end of January.  Sugar and I, we’re tight.  Too tight.  Its time for me to grow up a put a little space between me and this toxic friend.  We’ll reunite for my birthday, but I want to have a healthy reunion.  I want to be able to have my slice of birthday cake and enjoy it and not feel controlled by it. Anyhoo, that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it works out in real life!

7.  I’m sure everyone has plans for a busy weekend, huh? I think we’re doing the customary running hither and thither pulling together all the lose ends.  We’ll be staying here for Christmas and we have a wedding to attend on New Years Eve, where we’ll see some of my family members as well.  I hope you all have a blessed 4th week of Advent and joyous Christmas feast!

~Linking up with Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes and Like Mother Like Daughter for Pretty Happy Funny Real.~

Advent Update

If you feel bad about how holy your Advent isn’t, you’ve come to the right place.  Let me make you feel better.  We went to a fun event put on by our town rotary club tonight called Supper with Santa.  This was Sara’s first interaction with the big guy, and she nailed it.FullSizeRender

No, no SK! You need to smile for Instagram!IMG_3477Hmmm, what else?  Well, we were visited by St. Nick/Santa two nights ago and he left us Reeses and the kids’ Christmas jammies.  I let him know a couple of weeks back that 5 month old Gus was wearing 9 month stuff now and he delivered.  But that kid!  That kid looked like a sausage bursting out of it’s casing! It’s getting a little embarrassing.

Also! Good ol’ St. Nick pulled a fast one on me and switched my shoes with Hunter boots!  Unfortunately though, Mommy’s legs kinda did the same thing that Gus’ body did with his 9 month jammies.  Remember folks?  I have athletic legs.  Anyway, thanks to Fran’s post a couple of weeks ago, I was able to clue St. Nick into the fact that I probably need the Hunter’s with the adjustable backs. Whew. Thanks Fran.

Ellen! For shame! All talk of Santa and candy and boots!  It’s Advent!

I know yous guys, I know. We haven’t even gotten our Christmas tree yet! And see? We have a wreath and we’ve been faithfully lighting it every night at dinner time and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”IMG_3457SK is entranced by the song and yesterday she sang it for Dave in the car when they took their weekly Saturday trip to Lowes.  When she got to the refrain she belted out:

“Free toys! Free toys! Emmanuel!”

Pat yourselves on the back, friends.  I’m sure you’re all doing a much better job at Advent than we are.


1. Today we’re having a lazy, at-home day after a couple days of crazy.

2. Today Gus is back to his old self after a scary high fever on Wednesday that sent us to the doctor.  We went to the doctor again yesterday because it was his 4 month check-up anyway.  Gus is off the charts for height, having grown 4 inches since September.  And he weighs a whopping 17 pounds 9 ounces!IMG_3400

3. Today SK and I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  So far so great!IMG_3393

4. Today SK has been in and out, helping me with the cookies and going out to enjoy the fall snow.IMG_3394

5. Today I’m still in my workout clothes and unshowered.  I foresee a naptime shower and maybe(!) a very much needed pedicure afterwards. Fingers crossed!

6. Today I’m angsting as I tend to do, this time about the future.  I love these at-home days.  I love that Sara can play outside or inside independently, just being creative and no one rushing her.  I’m worried that when school starts in a few years, life is going to be crazy and these peaceful days will be no more.  I wonder whether I should homeschool, but then I worry that my tendency to be laid back would get the better of me.  Either option requires a lot of growth and discipline from me, and honestly, that’s probably where most of this anxiety is coming from. I fear that I don’t have it in me to have school-aged children.

There’s no right answer, I just have to keep praying about it and be open to all the options.  Good thing I have a few years!

7. Today, obviously, I’m blogging!  This is sounds so smugly cliche (much like the whole”today”theme of this post), but life is just really full lately.  I’m not over-committed, but I just feel like I have my hands full with the house and our activities and these two.  I don’t want to give up on the blog all together, but I clearly can’t keep up. I guess I’ll just pop in from time to time when I have some time and some working brain cells.

And look! Seven things!  Linking up with Jen  Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 quick takes today. :)

It’s October?

I don’t really know where September went.  Preschool and dancing started and my kids got their first colds of the season (first cold of little Gus’ life!) and more recently I spent the last week freaking the freak out about my dentist appointment today.  I haven’t been in almost 4 years and I was convinced that I had several large cavities and the dentist was going to yell at me and tell me I’m a terrible person who takes terrible care of her teeth. But instead of being scolded, I was praised for how clean my teeth and healthy my gums are and I did not have any cavities!  It was hands down the best experience I’ve ever had at the dentist.  Can you believe it, Mom?

I guess I should talk about how I did with my September goals… Meh.  I think I got to my dishes goal maybe 15 out of 30 days. If I can get those dishes put away before I start making dinner, I consider it a success. But making my bed?  Why is this such a hard thing for me to do every day?  I’m determined to make it a habit though.  It makes me so happy when my bed is made and my room looks pretty.  I think I’ll just stick with those two goals going into this month, though.  Life is still pretty unpredictable with these munchkins.  Last night Gus only woke up to eat once, so I think that was the most I’ve slept since the night before he was born. So I feel pretty good today, but overall, September was a month of tired, stressed Ellen.  I’m still plugging away at it though.

That brings me to today.  Today is the feast of St. Therese, and it’s also the anniversary of my friend Sara’s passing.   SK and I are wearing daisies (her favorite flower) and we went to Mass this morning to pray for her.  It’s always been comforting to me that Sara died on the feast of St. Therese.  Not only did Sara have a special devotion to her, but in retrospect there are similarities between the two women that I just can’t ignore: the flowers, childlike faith, great physical suffering and dying young.  I’ve always experienced St. Therese as being one of those saints who pursues you and I feel like she really pursued Sara and was with her at the end.  So today I miss my friend, but I also feel especially thankful for the communion of saints.  Photo on 10-1-14 at 4.09 PM #2

So.  Blogging.  I’ll try to do a little more of that in October.  No promises though. ;)

7 Things that happened while the husband had the week off

1.  Dave may or may not have gone to Costco all by his lonesome and came back with gallons of booze and 72 Eggo Waffles.  Breakfast &/or Happy Hour at the Johnson house!


3.  Our bathroom finally got a fan. Dave just decided on Wednesday that it was going to happen so he started to cut holes in the bathroom ceiling and in the exterior of the house. No really, that’s how these projects start. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dave’s git er done personality, but I don’t like the 150 year old horsehair plaster all over the place.IMG_3088 IMG_3090

4.  Dave has let me sleep in every day for the past 7 days.  I might have a nervous breakdown come Monday morning.

5. He finally convinced me to watch Breaking Bad with him (this is his second time around). I’m mostly disturbed but a little bit hooked.

6. We finally got to the beach! In September! On the hottest day ever! Dave captured my resting witch face when I asked him to get a picture. IMG_3117 IMG_3118 He got a better one after that, though.

[We took Sara to the beach for the first time when she was 4 months old and we both remember it being SO STRESSFUL. Clearly, this time around we’re pros.  Gus basically sat around in his diaper and got really sandy and we all had a great time.]

7. As if it wasn’t already established, Dave has firmly cemented his status as everyone’s favorite parent and spouse. He needs to take weeks off more often. ;)



For more quick takes, clicky-click back to Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!

PS Dave also worked on the comments issues we’ve been having here on McSisters and we think it’s all fixed now.  Please let us know if there continues to be more issues!

September Goals

I probably shouldn’t be making lofty goals for myself right now, considering life with a 2 month old and a 2 year old. There’s a lot of stuff I need/would like to get done around here and it’s just not going to happen any time soon. Like, I never got to purging and organizing my attic. Like my washing machine needs a washing.  Apparently, that’s a thing. More urgently, my floors need mopping, our children’s book situation is out of control and these kids are growing out of all their clothes! The thing is, I can’t even get to the more urgent needs because the daily, basic needs are the most important and I’m just starting to stay on top of those.

I was thinking of all this today and mildly stressing about how much is not getting done around here as I unloaded last night’s dishes while making dinner.  And then it hit me!  Why don’t I just aim to do a couple of simple things every day. Simple things that might help me to get to the bigger things? So here they are, my two housekeeping goals for September:

1. Make our bed first thing in the morning.

2. Unload the dishwasher before I pour my morning coffee.

If I can manage to do these two simple things every day, it could open up a world of opportunities for tackling more to-do’s.  Or, more likely, it’ll just be 2 things I get to that I haven’t been good about in a long time.  But by the end of the month, I will have worked on these 2 simple goals and hopefully they will become habits.  And hopefully I will be able to make a couple of new goals next month. :)

Do any of you have any goals that you’re working on?

7QT: Mostly Clothes, a little Montessori

Linking up with Jen Fulwiler again for 7 quick takes Friday on Saturday!

1. It’s the weekend again, I can’t believe it!  That old cliche about the days being long is so so true, but the weeks, not even years are flying by for me right now!  Gus turned 2 months old on Wednesday and last night he only woke up twice to eat.  Granted he woke up an hour after his last feeding because he was very anxiously working on a poo and needed some comfort. This guy gets so bent out of shape when he’s got a poo coming!

TMI Mom.

TMI Mom.

2.  Thanks to all you ladies who helped me with my mom jean dilemma! After much deliberation and a solo return trip to le Gap to try on the online pair and other pairs back to back, I decided to keep the online pair! I’m still a little weirded out by how high they come up, but holy comfortable!

3. Along with the new jeans, I’ve added a few more items to my momdrobe recently to help usher in the fall.  I got this pair of crops from Old Navy and I’m very pleased with how they fit and look.  I really really really wanted them in the Go Pinot Go color (a burgundy color) but they sold out like hotcakes.  The navy ones I got are really cute though and go with a lot of my neutral wardrobe.

4. Also,

awkward head tilt

awkward head tilt

this tee shirt was $8 at Old Navy. For some reason I’m JUST catching on to the fact that cranberry (especially heathered cranberry like this tee) works really well with my complexion.  And, it goes with pretty much all of the main colors in my wardrobe: navy, white, gray, khaki/beige.  You know, neutrals.  Woot!

5. I also picked up that sweater I tried on with the jeans at Gap.  I ended up getting it in gray because, NEUTRALS. I ordered it online because they had a 45% off online sale this past week, but also because I can get talls online.  This has been a new, awesome discovery of mine: ordering talls.  I’m not technically a tall person, and tall pants would look ridonkulous on me, but tall tops usually look pretty good on me because they hit my hips at that flattering spot.  And, if they shrink a bit in the wash, it doesn’t ruin the fit as drastically.  I also reordered a pair of shorts in tall this summer because the regulars were just too short.  Talls were an inch longer and it made a big difference!

6.  Now, I need your help again friends.  I’m looking for a good pair of cognac leather flats. Have you seen that blog Franish?  I love love love her style and it helps that I’m basically her SAHM doppelganger. Anyway, she’s turned me on to cognac accessories and I’m on the hunt for a pair of flats like her Banana Republic pair, but cheaper.  It seems as though I should be in luck though because cognac flats are everywhere this fall.  But!  I have this little problem of my feet being newly stretched from this past pregnancy.  I already had big size 10 feet.  Now they’re size 10 wide (a difficult size to find!) or just huge old size 11. [ I should take up swimming again.  With these new and improved flippers, I could totally take on Michael Phelps.]

I already tried these:


So cute! So tight!

Then I tried these on in the store and they’re just not comfortable for big wide feet.  Gap sells these but they show a lot of toe cleavage and I’m not a fan.   So, does anyone have any suggestion for wide footed gals?  I really want a pair of simple flats, preferably with a classic little bow like Fran’s.

7.  Confession: I’ve been a bit of a Montessori hater for a few years now.  I learned about Montessori a little in college while working on my Early Childhood Education degree.  All it was presented as was a teaching style.  I didn’t have an issue with any of the methodology I learned then, but since becoming a mom, I’ve realized how much of a thing it is.  I hate things.  I really hate trendy parenting and education practices because people get so bent out of shape when things aren’t perfectly “Montessori!” or “Attachment parenting!” The thing is, I know there is good in these camps, you just have to pick out what works for you and not be bullied into doing things all the way if you don’t agree with everything.  Case in point: apparently something that is considered to be a Montessori practice is giving your 9 month old a glass tumbler for drinking water.  That strikes me as crazy cakes.  But I shouldn’t write off everything Montessori because some things aren’t my cup of tea.  Or glass tumbler of water. ;)

Anyway, where am I going with this?  Now that I’m embarking on this preschool co-op with friends, I’ve wanted to research Montessori more.  I’m still skeptical, but I’m trying to be pragmatic here and do my research.  I know there’s a lot of good in the Montessori method, especially when it comes to implementing things in a home setting.  Whether we decided to homeschool our kids or send them to school, I’ll always be an educator at heart along with being the first and most important teacher to my kids.  That said, I have a desire to continue to learn and develop my personal education philosophy.  Researching and being open to different methods is part of this process.  I’m reading this book now as part of my research. Do any of you have other book recommendations?

Have a great holiday weekend, friends! :)

The Great Mom Jean Search

I finally waved the white flag of defeat over my attempts to wear my regular jeans.  Just because pants zip does not mean that they fit! So to the internet I went to do some shopping because that’s how I’m getting things done these days.  Before I get into the nitty gritty and you all wonder why I only shop at the Gap, let me explain why I only shop there (and Old Navy).  [I know I could find better jeans at nicer establishments, but I’m not willing to pay a lot for (hopefully!) transitional jeans!]  When I was first working and living at home (so that I could save money! Funny!) I gave into my darkest materialistic impulses and got myself a Gap credit card.  It was silly then and it’s silly now, EXCEPT, it’s actually been a really good thing in the long run.  All those insane sales that both Gap and Old Navy run on the regular, well they’re even more insane for cardholders.  And I get lots of cash back, so it’s more money I can put back into my… closet.  And Dave’s and SK’s and Gus’ closets! Anyway, I don’t recommend getting store credit cards willy-nilly, but I’ve been faithful to Gap and to paying my bills and they’ve treated me good in return so it’s all worked out.  Right? Right.

So! Online shopping!  I ordered this pair of jeans last week when they were having a 40% off deal.  They had really good reviews and, of course, they look really great in the picture so I figured I’d give em’ a shot.  Here’s what they look like on me:Photo on 8-25-14 at 9.52 AM #3 Photo on 8-25-14 at 9.52 AM #5Not bad!  But here’s the kicker: they’re really high waisted.  That was on-purpose; I need help in that wiggly-jiggly area.  Plus, high-waisted is in now, right?

Photo on 8-25-14 at 9.52 AM #6

17 year old Ellen is screaming in horror.  Look at how long that zip-fly is! All I wanted back then was for Mom to let me wear low-cut jeans like EVERYBODY ELSE!

The thing is, these jeans feel amazing.  Everything is tucked in just so.  But between the wash and thickness of these jeans and how high they come up, I’m getting a big mom jeans vibe.  Physically, I feel great in them.  But emotionally, I feel like I’ve given up. But the saga doesn’t end there…

It’s Monday, so I had a bit of a death wish anyway.  I decided to pack up the kids and the double stroller AND the Bjorn and go shopping.  I wanted to see what else they had in the store that could help me feel tucked in but not geriatric. I apologize for the fuzzy pictures.  I was trying to be quick for the kiddos’ sake.

Ok from the side...

Ok from the side…

Ahhhh!! So awful!

Ahhhh!! So awful!

I have moral reservations about buying pre-ripped jeans.  And this pair had the same crotch situation as the last pair so, no.

I have moral reservations about buying pre-ripped jeans. And this pair had the same crotch situation as the last pair so, no.


Gus likes them!

Getting warmer? These were really similar to the pair I bought online, but the waist is a little lower. Eh?

Getting warmer? These were really similar to the pair I bought online, but the waist is a little lower.


This was the best pair, I think.  They're the same as the last one except lighter/more washed out.  I think that makes them look a little more young, don't you think?  And lets talk about that sweater.  It's the same as the gray one but a size larger.  I like the color, but is it too large?

This was the best in-store pair, I think. They’re the same as the last one except lighter/more washed out. I think that makes them look a little more young, don’t you think? And lets talk about that sweater. It’s the same as the gray one but a size larger. I like the color, but is it too large? Does the gray look better? Incidentally, these jeans are the sexy boyfriend jeans that Blythe and Grace both praised to high heaven. Maybe they are magic for all postpartum bodies after all?

I need you, fashionable, lovely internet friends and family!  Should I go with the online purchase or the last pair I tried on in the store?  Please Pretty Please weigh in and tell me your opinions!



7 Quick Reasons to Smile

I’m pushing against this postpartum quicksand feeling today and actually getting a post up, by golly! I thought I’d do a combination of a Quick Takes post and a reasons to smile post, which is a happy challenge posed by my friend Annemarie earlier this week.  So, here goes!

1. Our garden is in full harvest mode, and it’s helping us to be not so unhealthy in this survival season of life.  So, while we’ve been eating a lot of freezer food lately, we have fresh tomatoes, green beans and squash to go along with it.

Tried out and loved the tomato zucchini gratin recipe found here. :)

Tried out and loved the tomato zucchini gratin recipe found here. :)

Our carrot harvest back in July was piddling, but SK was impressed nonetheless.

Our carrot harvest back in July was piddling, but SK was impressed nonetheless.

2. And speaking of farmer Dave, not only has he been busy growing veggies and helping me stay sane in the evenings and on weekends, but he also landed an awesome new job this summer.   I’m so proud of him and grateful for all his hard work for our family.  Also, on the days when I get around to pumping, he takes the first feeding at night.  What would I do without this man?

3.This little girl is growing in leaps and bounds every day.

IMG_2956 She has so much to say lately, and it’s so adorable.  The other day, SK woke up from her nap in a grumpy mood so we cuddled on the couch with some milk and some Curious George.  Gus woke up a little while later and he was in a bad mood too, and Sara said “It’s sad, Mommy! Why Baby Gus sad?” and I said he was just grumpy after nap and sometimes she feels grumpy after nap too, right?  Sara looked at me solemnly and said “No, I just happy atter nap.” IMG_2978

SK found a faint sliver of the moon outside and said “Wook ower dere! It’s da moon! It wook wike a bana (banana), yum!”

4. And this guy.  IMG_2961He has his moments after nap and his little tummy does NOT like it when I eat Mexican food (sad day!) but otherwise he is such a happy fella.  He’s much more smiley than SK was.

5. My friends and I are doing a preschool co-op this year, and we just had a planning meeting last night.  Part of me is a little stressed because I’m the teacher. But I think I’m stressed because my experience with teaching preschool was in a professional setting.  This is just friends, and we’re all there to help one another.  There are no parent teacher conferences or difficult bosses to please, just a bunch of moms dipping our toes into cooperative at-home learning.  I am enjoying flexing my preschool muscles again.  It’s going to be a good year!

6. And speaking of muscles, I’ve started exercising again!  I started doing my maternity barre dvd again and I’ve gotten out of the house for a few jogs since last week.  I really missed running.  My first run went well and I felt like a rockstar, but I’m pretty sure there was a lot of this going on:

Basically, my baby pooch kinda irritated my incision scar; I was wishing the whole time that my compression leggings had more compression!  So on my second run, I wore spanx.  (Underneath my running clothes, sheesh!) So. Much. Better. That’s right, folks, I run in spanx and I ain’t ashamed.

7. And this definitely random crazy and weird, but it’s been making me chuckle all week. O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics.

Postpartum pieces and bits

Life is really real with a toddler and a newborn.  I hope this transition to 2 is my hardest and 3 is easier.  Jinx! IMG_2895

I’m not good at doing things when I’m lacking sleep.  I know, you’re thinking “doing things” is a very broad statement.  What do I mean?  Just that folks. I mean just that.  Doing things, doing anything!  We’ll start with talking.  Words are escaping me right now in an alarming way. I’ll be telling Dave something and I’ll trail off and then completely blank and then literally bite my tongue.

Work it.

Work it.

Speaking of sleep affecting my cognitive powers, this past weekend during Gus’ baptism party I was talking to Rose and some of my girlfriends about Gus’ mysterious 3 am gas attacks.  Someone suggested that maybe I’d had some cabbage, maybe a spring roll?  Yes that was it! Then I realized, no, I was just thinking of that NBC reality show Food Fighters and how they had made spring rolls in the last episode.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And speaking of Gus’ baptism, it was so lovely and we had such a great party afterwards.  It was not Martha Stewart worthy in it’s presentation or quality of food (hello Stop and Shop deli platter!) but we had so many family and friends come and the weather held out so it was such a nice time relax and be with all the people we love.  Oh, there I go again with my brain! My sweet friends here did generously bring some food to add to the mix that was delicious and beautiful so take that Martha!

Gus and his Godmommy Jane.  I think he likes her. :)

Gus and his Godmommy Jane. I think he likes her. :)

People are so sweet and generous.  I’ve only just started being responsible for cooking dinner at night again, my friends and family are that amazing!

Probably 5 out of the past 7 days, I’ve discovered around 2 in the afternoon that I forgot to brush my teeth.  This never used to be a problem!

Baby boy poopy bums are much harder to clean than baby girl poopy bums.


Backyard pool time means no bathing suit necessary. #lowstandards

Daniel Tiger’s insistence on teaching emotional language is going to be the death of me and my attempts to raise a decent toddler.  “I’m so FWUSTWATED!”

Gus is not only a Mama’s boy, but he’s also literally clingy.  He grabs onto my hair or my necklace with such a death grip and if I try to pry his fingers open, he starts hysterically crying!IMG_2905

Can a person have a love language that comes and goes?  I am most decidedly not a physical touch person with my kids lately.  SK has always been a very independent kid, but ever since Gus came home, she’s been extremely needy, especially physically needy, especially right when the baby is nursing after keeping me up all night nursing.  I’m just a leeettle touched out.  But on the flip side, one hug or a shoulder rub from Dave makes me melt into a puddle of mush, so I guess I still do like physical affection.

When SK wants me to do something with her but I can’t because I’m holding/nursing the baby she says “Put it down! Put the baby Gus down, Mommy!”


I’m not going to lie, these first few weeks have been tough.  But even in my exhausted stupor, I find myself at least once every day marveling over the fact that I have 2 kids. I feel so unworthy and so overwhelmed (in a mostly good way!) by my blessings especially after last week.  I’m sure you’ve all heard about Sarah Harkins and how she and her unborn daughter Cecilia passed away last week.  Sarah was in my household, although she graduated my freshman year so we didn’t really know one another.  I remember her from alumni visits, though, especially how stunningly beautiful she was and her fun sense of humor.  It’s just been so devastating, I don’t know what to say or write.  Others have written some beautiful things about her though, so I wanted to share their thoughts:

Jenny’s post Sarah and the Saints

My friend Annemarie wrote 3 posts here, here and here

The Washington Post even had a touching piece on Sarah’s life.

That’s all I’ve got folks, nap time’s over.  Happy Hump day y’all.