Obligatory Update

Well, it’s been a few weeks since the last post so you know what that means: some sort of vague update is in store!  This time it’s a daybook of sorts.

Reading: Too many things, I’m a little over my head in the book department to be honest!  I’m working on The Importance of Being Little which I am enjoying, but it’s also rather damning in regards to some of my beloved preschool routines and activities.  I’m attempting to keep an open mind.  I also have Acedia and Me, which I am a little scared of starting because I know that acedia is my number one vice.  Hence, why I ordered the book!  I also have The Nesting Place waiting for me at the library, so yeah, lots of things to read!  I’m also dying to reread an old favorite, Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher. Does anyone else experience this, like a craving for a favorite food, but it’s a book?

Watching:  Downton.  Duh!  (Spoilers ahead) So, I’ve been very “meh” about Downton for the past few years because it was just getting so ridiculous, but this last season has been ah-maz-ing!  But!  Why oh why did Lady Mary get her happy ending before Edith?  I mean, Edith called it like it is.  Mary is a B.

Thinking: Stewing is more like it.  Has anyone else read this article?  I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to nurse my two, but I also know so many women who greatly struggle for various reasons and eventually need to switch to formula.  I hate these types of articles that impose moral guilt on mothers! [Update: Simcha Fisher responds! Thank goodness!  “Women are more than the milk they can make.” Love her.]

Praying:  For sick relatives, for one pregnant sister and her upcoming move and the other formerly pregnant sister and her new baby girl!  Maura Rose was born on February 8th! I can’t wait to hold her little self!

Eating:  (I feel like the following is a bit misleading because I’m not really a crunchy health nut, but it is Lent and I’m trying to stay away from sweets, so I’ve been focusing more on eating healthfully… believe me, I’d rather be baking chocolate chip cookies…and eating the dough…)  I made these homemade apple pie lara bars to snack on and today I made a big batch of quinoa and roasted veggies so I could have veggie bowls for lunch this week.  Oh!  And I made this spinach bacon chicken risotto for dinner last week like a boss! It was so good and so easy, you have to try it!

Playing: Outside!  This weekend was very mild, which was nuts because last weekend it was in the subzero temps!  It’s such a blessing to have these mild days in the middle of winter.  We also went to the indoor trampoline park this morning.  The kids didn’t like it at all.  😉IMG_5534IMG_5541

Wearing:  Too many stripes, probably.  I’m afraid we’re all going to look back on ourselves 10 years from now and shake our heads at all the horizontal stripes.  But I can’t help myself!  And I feel like it must be classy, right?

I mean.      Image

Thankful: As always, for my Dave.  I was able to get away for most of the day Saturday to view several of the Catholic Conference 4 Moms videos with some fellow Catholic moms at a nearby parish.  I came back so refreshed with my extrovert cup filled, and the kids had a great time with Dad of course.  Whenever Gus has too much alone time with Dave, he starts calling me Daddy.  Funny, he doesn’t call Dave Mommy despite me being home with him all the time.  Dad’s just a special guy. 🙂

Looking Forward:  Spring!  I can’t wait to see if the bulbs come up that I frantically planted in November. We also have a lot of house projects on the horizon.  A new roof, new paint job, maybe new paving, and hopefully a nice facelift to our living room too.  We bit the bullet and ordered a new slip cover for our couch because it’s really been looking shabby lately.  We ordered it in a dusky shade of blue instead of the parchment shade of off-white we have already and I’m so excited!  With a new couch (color) and fresh paint on the walls, it will be like a whole new room!

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!

Our Current 5 Favorites

It’s been way too long since I did a 5 favorite’s post.  So long, in fact, that it has a new hostess, the awesome Jenna of Call Her Happy, who has excellent taste in names for her kids, if I do say so myself… Anywho, here are Sara Kate’s and my current 5 favorite things:

1. Charley Harper Memory Game

Sara’s Godmother got her this memory game way back when she was a baby and I remember thinking it was going to be a loooong time before she would be ready to play it.  And then I blinked and here we are.  Sara loves playing memory, and I love the gorgeous, retro-y illustrations, so it’s a win-win.  And since this is the first formal game we’ve ever played with SK, we’ve discovered that she’s not competitive in the slightest.  Whenever Dave and I get matches she claps and squeals for us! We’ll see if she stays that way or she realizes that the goal is to win. 😉

2. Goat Cheese Toast with Honey and Walnuts (and apparently Thyme)

It’s with great shock that I can report to you that it’s January 21st and my (mostly) No Sugar January goal has been largely successful.  Really, I’m amazed, and it’s been relatively easy so far.  That said, it’s probably gone so well because I haven’t cut down on my overall food intake, and I’ve allowed myself to have natural forms of sugar, like fruit, honey and real maple syrup. [I’m planning on doing a recap of my no-sugar month with my take-aways, but in the meantime, check out this relevant NPR story I heard just the other day!] A good friend of mine shared this pin with me because she knows I love goat cheese on anything, and it’s been my go-to afternoon snack with a cup of tea (with cream & no sugar!)  The only thing is, I don’t put thyme on my toast (I could, but I always forget!) and I don’t drench my toast in honey like in the picture, just a little drizzle.  Yum.

3. Beatrix Potter

Jemima was a simpleton.

We have a little set of Beatrix Potter books that SK has just recently become interested in. Isn’t it great when the the books your toddler wants to read over and over are books that you really enjoy reading over and over? Her favorite is Jemima Puddle Duck.  I think she initially preferred it because the cover is pink, but she really got into the story too!  I’ve had to explain some things because my 21st century kid does not get the inferences about foxes being bad and why the shed full of feathers was a bad thing.  I mean, no amount of explaining is going to help her understand the part where Jemima complains about the “superfluous hen”, but one day she’ll get it and she’ll chuckle.  And meanwhile, I chuckle!

4. N is for Nuns!

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How cute is this craft we made at our preschool co-op yesterday?  I can take no credit for it, it was the creation of my friend’s imagination.  I just think it’s so stinking cute!  Last week, we had a little field trip to visit the convent of a newer order of sisters, The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.  So, as a follow up in class this week, we talked about nuns and vocations in general, and tied it in with our letter of the week.

5. Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlanteIMG_3616

I am enjoying this book so much!  It’s the story of the relationship between Louisa May Alcott (the author of Little Women) and her mother Abigail May Alcott. This is the definition of my ideal read; familiar-ish story and characters (since much of Little Women is based on Louisa’s life) and set all around where I live, but 200 years ago, with the unexpected twist of the mind-blowing revelation that Louisa’s father/Abigail’s husband, Bronson Alcott, is pretty much the worst. It’s fascinating!  I’m hoping to write a little review of it when I’m done, but I might want to re-read Little Women before I commit my thoughts to a blog post.  Book reviews are not my forte, but I love this book so much I might give it a shot.

Don’t forget to check out the other 5 Favs back at Call Her Happy!

7QT: Home Improvement Dreams & Big Bébés

Linking up today with Jen at Conversion Diary to share my (never) Quick Takes about our week.

1. This past week has been pretty exciting for us because our new tenants moved in!  It’s been weird hearing people next door because it’s been over a year since anyone has lived there.  The most alarming thing about it for me has been smelling their food! I would occasionally get a whiff of what was cooking next door when Mr. and Mrs. A lived there, but only when I was in the basement doing laundry.  This week, I could smell their dinner one night it in our house.  Dave said it was my crazy pregnancy smelling powers and he couldn’t smell anything. It didn’t smell bad, just a little onion heavy.  Ah well, I don’t care, they pay to live here and they could do more annoying things, right?

2. Now that we have tenants, we can finally tackle things on our side of the house.  We have daydreamed about home improvement projects forever and it’s so exciting that we can finally undertake some of them!  The first thing we have to do is get a new boiler for our side; necessary, expensive, and not very exciting.  But after that we are going to do little upgrades in the kitchen.  Nothing super dramatic or high end, just little improvements that will make a big difference in the quality of our  my life.  We’re going to put down new linoleum in the kitchen because the current linoleum has got to be at least 20 years old.  It’s nasty and it never looks clean and it’s basically the bane of my homemaking existence.  I can’t wait to have a floor that doesn’t look dingy and gross all the time!  We’re also going to paint all the dark paneling and molding in the kitchen and install wainscoting on the bottom half below the existing chair rail (using this method).  Our cabinets are outdated shiny oak, but we’re going to keep them wood and just change the hardware.  I think painted cabinets look nice but I’ve heard that long term they don’t really hold up that well, so we’ll keep them wood for the time being.  Finally, what I’m really looking forward to is installing a dish washer!  It’ll take up a good amount of our limited cabinet space, but I’m determined to figure out different ways to organize everything to make this happen. Wow, I don’t think I’ve adequately conveyed my excitement about these potential improvements so I’ll let Lucille Bluth help me out.

3. Oh, and one more little thing.  Young House Love inspired me this week when they put their microwave in the pantry.

We’re totally doing that too.  I’ve been following that blog ever since we got married and while I find most of  their posts to be helpful and inspiring, I’m not always on board with their design choices.  But lately I’ve been loving a lot of their improvements.  The nursery they’re setting up for their little boy who’s due this spring is really cute!

 4. Speaking of baby boys, I got to see mine again this week and I got a picture of his sweet face this time!  IMG_2220It’s a long story about why I had another ultrasound so soon after the last one but blessedly everything is fine and dandy.  He’s measuring right on time except he has a big barrel chest, just like SK did.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a big baby just like his sister was (she was 9 pounds 8 ounces), and really, it’s freeing to just acknowledge this fact and not stress over it.  I think I just make big babies!

5. After the ultrasound, SK and I popped into a nearby mall and had some fun.  IMG_2211You can see in this picture how big Sara is!  That outfit is 2T and her arms and legs are way too long for it.  I’ve had to start transitioning her to 3T clothing and she’s not even two yet!

6. I’m almost done with that infamous book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman and I have to say I really liked it.  Sure, there’s the obligatory eye roll over the idea of French women doing everything better than us AND remaining skinny.  But, on a practical level, I thought there was a lot of good in the book.  Whether the author writes about French women being unapologetic about their epidurals or unflinchingly firm with their nons (saying no), I got the impression that French women are just a little bit more grown up in general than American women.  It made me think of that old post from Like Mother Like Daughter called Having a Baby and the Culture of Freaking Out.  Ironically, the LMLD post focuses a lot on not worrying about your weight after giving birth as well as the dangers of overmedicalized birth, while Bringing Up Bébé describes French women as being on the opposite side of that ideological fence.  But where they intersect is on the idea that mothers ought to be adults.  We American women have grown up in a culture where we easily “freak out” over everything and use shopping or binging on Oreos as self-medication for life’s ups and downs.  Movies, especially romantic comedies, capitalize on the charm of the frazzled neurotic female. Think Meg Ryan in, well, anything! But French women, according to this book, seem to have an innate sense of self-control and confidence that translates in motherhood to a natural authority and firm boundaries with their children. Again, it brings to mind the last line in that LMLD post: “Be the person with common sense. Become a mother.”

Anyway, it’s an interesting read, I definitely recommend it along with that post (or any post) at Like Mother Like Daughter!

7. Spring is coming!

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That is all!

Misty Moisty Morning

I love September mornings — cool and misty, with the sound of school buses in the distance.
I do not love getting up at 5:30 on a September morning when it’s still dark out because one little girl is teething again and the other is pretending to be a baby again and demanding a pacifier. This is after waking up at 1:30 and 3:30 respectively for the same reasons. So now it’s 7:40 and we’ve all been up for over two hours and I’m feeling a bit more awake and able to reassemble the post I tried to write last night, about books.
I think it’s safe to say that all the McSisters are readers, having come from a house full of books and reading, and we have similar tastes, especially when it comes to perennial favorites and what I call “comfort reads.”
To me, a comfort read is a novel written by a middle-aged British woman and set between London and Scotland, or perhaps Cornwall, which features lots of cozy cottages, open fires, gardening, loyal dogs, and tea in large kitchens at scrubbed tables next to a toasty Aga. The action revolves around a wise, tweedy older woman and some sort of property inheritance, with a side story of young love. My favorite author of such works is Rosamunde Pilcher (and Coming Home is my favorite of her books) but Marcia Willett is a good substitute in a pinch, and many Maeve Binchy books serve a similar purpose, if you can ignore certain attitudes towards the Church.
Two stand-alone novels that I’ve read in the past few years (and re-read, which is the true test!) have proved worthy of the British Comfort Books category. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, is a wonderful epistolary novel set in the Guernsey Islands after WWII; and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson, is a unlikely love story between a stodgy old British gent and an Indian woman (or maybe Pakistani). I know Mimi has enjoyed these two as well, and if you’re a fan of British Comfort I highly recommend checking them out!

Of course this list could be a lot longer, and accompanied by a list of good BBC dramas, but you get the gist, and maybe some of my McSisters can fill in the blanks while I figure out why my youngest is now naked. Happy Wednesday!