A November to Remember

Apart from the political angst that dominated this month (all the angst!!), there were and are some things about this November 2016 that I want to remember.

First of all, the weather has been spectacular! I know that’s such a mundane thing to record, but the thing is, I can’t remember a nicer November.  It’s been sunny and mild, most days in the 50’s-60’s, so cold enough for a jacket and some layering, but not the puffy coats and all the wintery accoutrements.  And the foliage has been so beautiful and long lasting!  I wanted to record this fact especially, since there were dire predictions made in early September that the foliage would not be spectacular this year due to the drought.  I see it as a lesson to debbie-downer Ellen to not always take dire predictions seriously!

Usually after daylight savings ends, the kids and I are inside in the afternoons since naptime used to end around when it started getting dark. But this fall, since Sara doesn’t take naps any more and Gus needs his naps cut short so he sleeps better at night, we’ve been outside  in the afternoons for a good chunk of time, raking leaves and enjoying the beautiful pink sunsets and giant moon.img_6414

I don’t know what it is, (probably nesting?) but I have been loving raking the leaves this year.  It’s been quite therapeutic mentally, and the exercise feels so good!  Dave prefers to blow as many leaves as he can into the tree line and then mow/mulch the rest, but I’ve been making bags and bags and bags, just for the heck of it.  We finished off the last of it today, which has turned out to be our first borderline bitter day of the month.  But the kids still enjoy being outside despite the cold!


I really want to remember what a sweet stage Gus is at now.  He’s talking so much more these days, and while he has his 2 year old moments, he’s much easier to deal with now than he was 6 or 8 months ago.  On Friday, Sara had lunch bunch at her preschool, which is when they can pack a lunch and stay for an extra hour to eat with their friends.  Lunch bunch days are hard for me and Gus because Gus usually needs and demands his nap right around noon.  So, in an effort to distract both of us, we went to Panera for a “special lunch.” It really wasn’t all that special; he spilled his go-gurt pouch all over the booth, gobbled down his mac and cheese in a flash, told me “all done” and tried to leave while I was still eating.  But! Later that evening when we were saying prayers and sharing what we were thankful for, Gus wanted to go first and he said he was thankful for “special wunch.”  How sweet is that?


Sara is on an intense creative kick right now.  From the moment she wakes up in the morning to the last minutes before bed, she’s at her little ikea table, coloring, writing, cutting, glueing, basically making a huge mess! But she’s so determined and she’s so intent on her work.  We went to two kindergarten open houses this week, one option being more practical in every way considering (God willing) there will be a new baby in the family next year. But the other option is a really good classical Catholic school which I think would be the perfect fit for her academically next year.  But it’s not in town like the other school! Gus and his little brother and I would spend lots of time in the car to make that school happen.  Dave and I have some discerning to do. #firstworldproblems

Anyway, life is good.



Tenacious Pink Eye & Other Happenings

Don’t worry, you can’t catch pink eye from reading a blog post…

or can you???

As the title suggests, we have a particularly stubborn case of pink eye going through our family at the moment.  It all started last month when we stayed at Claire’s house over Christmas and Jackie came down with pink eye. Well, Gus brought it home and it’s been through almost every member of both of our families since then.  Claire texted me a goopy-eyed selfie this morning to alert me of it’s new victim, but I’m a nice sister so I won’t share that with you.  Dave is the last man standing in our house, and he is literally quaking in his boots with apprehension.


How to pink eye like a boss: wear shades everywhere. No, actually, just stay home.

But on a happier note, today is Rose’s birthday!  Happy birthday to our high-achiever of a sister who is an artist, dance master, wife and mother extraordinaire.  She’s currently putting the finishing touches on her fourth grand masterpiece, so please keep her in your prayers as she approaches her due date on Valentine’s Day!

And in related news, our oldest sister Jane is expecting her 5th this June, and we just found out she’s having a boy! Rose doesn’t know the gender of her little one yet, but if she has a boy the grandkid gender scale will be even at 7 boys and 7 girls!

This is from the last time Jane and Rose were pregnant at the same time, in 2009!

This is from the last time Jane and Rose were pregnant at the same time, in 2009! 

Last and least, I’m just finishing up Secrets From The Eating Lab by Traci Mann.  I ordered it from the library after reading Modern Mrs. Darcy’s take, and I breezed through it this weekend.  It’s very interesting! Before reading, I was gearing up to do a Whole 30 during Lent this year but now I’m on the fence.  I know I’m the last person in the world to try a Whole 30, so those of you who have done it, what are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear!

Gotta go while it’s still naptime!


7QT: Library Finds and Thanksgiving Pics

Linking up with Kelly today to share some randoms, like I do.  🙂

  1. This really needs to be quick because I should be working on Gus’ stocking.  I wish I could say it’s a labor of love…  It’s a doozy!
  2. It’s been really mild here, considering it’s the first week of December!  Ordinarily I would be a little sad about this, wishing for a white Christmas and all.  But no, this year I’m dreaming of a balmy Christmas and a mild winter, just like the one before Sara was born.  I’m totally suffering from ptsd after last winter!
  3. Apart from worries about our roof and gutters surviving another winter like last year’s, I’m worried about the winter because we’ve discovered that outside time is vital for Gus’ happiness. Gus is like a little puppy; his daily needs are cuddles and attention, chow time, and outside time.  He is the best version of himself when he’s outside throwing and kicking and hitting things with sticks.  But when he’s been stuck inside too much, watch out!

    Just going a liiiiitle crazy.

    Just going a liiiiitle crazy.

  4. Does anyone else find Trader Joe’s Holiday Fearless Flyer to be a near occasion of gluttony?  Just me?  I just need to give TJ’s all my money, that’s what this is coming to. My recent favorite purchases have been gingerbread coffee and their sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds.

    Yes, that is me holding the flyer over my garbage can.  It eventually went in after some drool inducing reading.

    Yes, that is me holding the flyer over my garbage can. It eventually went in after some drool inducing reading.

  5. I picked up some great Christmas books at the library yesterday!  One I ordered specially, Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Barbara Cooney.  I LOVE Barbara Cooney’s illustrations, and sadly this version of the book with Cooney illustrations is out of print, so I was happy to find it in the library system!  I also picked up a sweet book about St. Nicholas, since St. Nicholas day is coming up.  It’s called The Gift of St. Nicholas by Dorothea Lachner.
  6. I’m planning on doing a little purging this weekend to make room for presents and such. (When am I not planning on purging? Sigh…)  Still, this Verily article hit a nerve.  I always feel a little guilty when I purge, especially my wardrobe.  I know it’s a luxury to be able to part with excess and/or replace something I don’t really like.  I need to be a better steward of the things I already have and think twice before buying frivolously.
  7. Oh! And Thanksgiving! It happened, and it was lovely! We went to my mom’s house as usual and it was lovely as usual.  She’s been hosting Thanksgiving for the extended family every year (with a break for the year Jim was born) since 1987? 88? One of those late 80s.  That’s a long time! She’s a pro! Of course I took almost no pictures, but here are some random pictures that kind of give you a taste of McFamily-ness.
    Carmela and Sara prancing down the road to Gigi's house.

    Carmela and Sara prancing down the road to Gigi’s house.

    Sara convinced a reluctant "Uncle Chim" to dance with her.

    Sara convinced a reluctant “Uncle Chim” to dance with her.

    Baba on tv telling us all why the $15 minimum wage is a terrible idea.

    Baba on tv telling us all why the $15 minimum wage is a terrible idea.

    Happy weekend, everyone!

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. 😉

Mom Pictures

(or, I’m ready for my closeup!)

“Hey Dave, can you take a decent picture of me with the kiddos since we’re having such a nice time at the farm?”


Never mind.

(And yes, we’re crouching next to a cow’s buttocks.  The picture was doomed from the get-go.)

A Happy Easter & Birthday

Happy Easter, everybody!

We ended up staying home for Easter instead of traveling to New York to see the McFamily to avoid getting a stomach bug from certain cousins. I’m sure their Mommy will tell the harrowing tale of their Easter on the blog soon. 😉 And speaking of this here blog, it got a bit of a facelift over Easter.  Looking good, huh? Rose painted the header and Dave did the computer stuff.  We’re still working on a new About Us page, but otherwise it’s done.  What do you think?

We were so disappointed to miss out on family time, but we used the long weekend at home to get started on the garden.  I can hardly believe that the snow is mostly gone.  I thought the winter would never end!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADave tilled up our plot and we picked 12309234987983458938457 rocks out of it and then Dave added his compost that he’s been working on since last year.  Hopes are high for the harvest this year!

On Easter Sunday we went to the 7 am Mass (!!!!!!) so that Gus could get his morning nap before we joined our friends for brunch.  Nothing beats holidays with family, but this came very close!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yesterday the fun continued with our Sara Kate’s birthday.  Our sweet girl had a sweet day that started with balloons and pancakes…

IMG_4082 IMG_4087 IMG_4089(Sara loves Minnie Mouse, can you tell?)

The birthday girl requested a rainbow cake.  I briefly toyed with the idea of making one of those multi-layer cakes with each layer being another color of the rainbow, but then I came to my senses and decided to get one of those tie-dye cake mixes and just make a rainbow on the top.  It turned out really cute!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t believe she’s 3.  I really try to avoid over-the-top mommy gushing about my kids, but since it’s her birthday I guess it’s okay, right? I never imagined in a million years that I would have such a sweet heart of a little girl.  She’s such a joy in our lives; we’re so grateful for our girlie!

And just like that, we’re back to normal around here.  Except that it’s still Easter!  We certainly have enough sugar around this house to keep up the celebrating. Happy Easter week to all of you, friends!


12 in 2014

Here we are on the cusp of a new year, and according to my “Last 12 Months” folder in iphoto, I took well over 1400 photos last year! Yikes.  Most of them are junk and not very good, but I am attached to all of them.  It’s been a great year filled with undeserved blessings.  And lousy photos. I’m linking up with Dwija to share 12 of them. 🙂


We visited my family in January when Dave was in the UK for work.  This was back when Sara called Carmela “Lalela.” After that it morphed into “Calela” and finally to what it is now, “Camela.” On the blog, I pledged my fidelity to full-panel pregnancy pants.


I forced a bunch of bulbs last winter.  Sounds like a euphemism right?  I guess it is euphemistic for the winter we had.  It was cold, snowy and dark and SK and I didn’t leave the house much.  I was also in the dumps hormonally with Gus’ pregnancy.  But!  I forced it.  I really worked hard to get through that winter and brighten my mood.  It helped when we found out Gus was Gus!  Also, we (meaning, not just me!) blogged every day for a week at the end of February.  Rose shared her controversial opinion of Downton Abbey; worth a re-read especially before we all fall back under its’ spell soon!


It finally started to thaw in March!  We saw a lamb birthing!


SK turned 2 in April and Dave made her this awesome kitchen!


Also in the category of things Dave did: the kitchen, in May (no kitchen post yet, because I’m the worst blogger ever).  I helped a little, but I was also growing a person! I did a little whining on Mother’s Day.


June 27th: Happy Birthday to our Gus! July was a blur.


All the cousins came for Gus’ baptism!


Standards were shockingly low, even for me.  On a related note, I got me some mom jeans.  Update: they are now way too big for me. Woot!


By September, Gus was the happiest baby on the planet and finally sleeping a little more at night. So I tried, but didn’t really succeed in getting back on the housekeeping ball.


In October, I completely fell off the blogging ball.  But behold! Sibling interaction!


We had a white Thanksgiving with my folks in New York.


And a mild Christmas at home!  Happy New Year, everyone!

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!

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.