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.



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!

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.


{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!