Highs and Lows

I want to be all happy-clappy about our Sheenazing Nomination (!!!!!!!) because let’s be honest, a nomination = winning for us small fries.  Really, it makes me feel like this inside:

But I’m just so heartsick for the Coakley family.  I’m sure you’ve all heard and been praying for Paul amid his swift, brutal fight with cancer that began just before Christmas.  Just a little while ago, word broke that he passed away.  Please continue to pray for his family, his pregnant wife, their children and his extended family and friends. Here’s a link to a fundraiser for his family. I didn’t know him in life, but it sounds like he was a wonderful, larger-than-life kind of guy.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Rest in peace, Paul.

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.

He’s here!

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Just wanted to jump on the ol’ blog to let Ellen’s faithful readers know that they can release the breath they’ve been holding all weekend — Gus has arrived!

How cute is that little face? His full name is Augustine Anthony and he was 8lbs 12oz, which is nothing compared to his big sister’s birth weight (and yes, compared to any of Claire’s kids) but I still think it’s pretty good. Mom and baby are doing well and SK is hanging with Mimi and Aunt Joanie for the week. I’m sure Ellen will be back with more details soon!

{phfr} Progress

Linking up with my favorite Like Mother Like Daughter on this beautiful Thursday in May.  Why can’t it just be May all year round? It’s so easy to come up with pretty, happy, funny, real things in May!

{pretty}

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The best time of year is when the yard looks pretty with little to no effort on our part.

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I had to put this picture of SK’s morning hair up.  The volume! Oh the volume!  I’m sure it will be annoying to her one day, but her Mom will always be jealous of it!

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We finally tackled the big bedroom move upstairs.  Now Dave and I are in the front bedroom (that used to be our crap room) and SK is in her new big girl bed in our old room.

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I don’t know if it’s technically feng shui (and I’m not going for that anyway) but having the bed fit between two windows makes me a very happy lady.  I love all the natural light in this room and it inspires me to keep it cleaned and keep the bed made.

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Our last bedroom had two windows and this one has three, but instead of buying a whole new pair of navy blue blackout curtains (because Dave demands NO light for optimal sleeping conditions), I got a pair of lacy curtains from Ikea ($10!) to go with one blackout panel on these flanking windows.  The full pair of blackout curtains that remains goes on the third window in the corner.  It works out really well because the lacy curtains really emphasize all the natural light during the day, and at night the mini blinds and one blackout panel completely block out the light.

I think I’m finally embracing the fact that I like pretty things.  I’m not super trendy when it comes to home decor and for a while I was self-conscious about that fact.  But you know what? Lace curtains make me happy.  Chevron stresses me out.  There, I said it.

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SK’s big girl room so far.  As you can see, it’s nothing special.  I’m going to make simple curtains and move some of her art and wall decor from her nursery, but other than that I think I’m going to keep this room simple and strictly functional.

{funny}

Before I share my funny pictures, I have to explain that I do not live in the “ghetto”.  It makes me mad when my side of town is referred to as such.  No, it’s not the expensive pretty side of town, but our community has a rich history.  Basically, it’s one of the oldest working-class neighborhoods in the country and I’m proud to live here!

(Stepping off my soapbox…)

We have a little pocket of helpful businesses in our neighborhood that are a quick walk (and even quicker drive) from our house.  Some of  our most frequented establishments are the CVS, a little hidden post office (it’s a gem, I tell you), the obligatory Dunkin Donuts, a liquor store and the Family Dollar.  The Family Dollar is a hoot.  It’s like a mini-Walmart; it’s got a little bit of everything, and it’s all pretty cheap and not very classy.  But, it’s a very useful place to have right down the road!  Need a can of tomato paste last minute?  The Dollar probably has it.  Need bread?  Well, you’re probably outta luck there.  They sell out of bread pretty early in the day. But, do you need underwear?

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They’ve got ya covered.  And they have lots of options.

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How about a huge neon colored teeshirt with a pro-marriage message?

{real}

While we made progress in the getting ready for baby department last weekend, we still have lots on our to-do list.  Plus, the kitchen reno is still in the early stages, and we’d really like to have it done before himself comes along.  Behold, projects and players who are waiting on deck for their at bat:

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The nursery (gah!) is a hot mess.

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A thing of beauty.  My dishwasher waiting for cabinets to be removed and plumbers to pull permits.  Soon my pretty.  Soon.

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Fabric for SK’s curtains and for little fella’s curtains and crib skirt.  Can you tell which is for whom?

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And, oh yeah, baby boy sitting large and in charge at 34 weeks.  We can’t wait to meet him!

For more {phfr} click on back to Like Mother Like Daughter!  Oh, and do pick up a copy of The Little Oratory; I’m hogging my mom’s copy at the moment and I can’t get enough of it!  

Liebster Love

Sweet Kate tagged me for a Liebster Award (which apparently isn’t an award, but a chain letter of sorts?) and I’m all kinds of flattered and excited to play along.  So! I will answer Kate’s questions for me and then I’ll tag a few of my blogging friends to answer questions of my own making for them, and the fun continues!

1.  Where are you from, where did you go to college and where are you now?

I was born in Albany NY and grew up in Schoharie NY, which is a really pretty, really cuuuuntry little corner of the world.  The majority of my childhood was spent on top of Terrace Mountain in Schoharie, picking crabapples and chasing our dog Abby when someone accidentally left the door ajar and she would bolt out into the wilderness.  We also had a garden for a bit and chickens for a long time, so while I wouldn’t say we had a completely country-hick upbringing, I was definitely no city kid.

This is my oldest nephew Jack chasing our chickens right before my parents moved off the mountains and to the suburbs in 2007.  Not to get all hipster on you, but the McFamily did the whole free range chicken thing before it was cool.

This is my oldest nephew Jack chasing our chickens right before my parents moved off the mountain and to the suburbs in 2007. Not to get all hipster on you, but the McFamily did the whole free range chicken thing before it was cool.

I went to Franciscan University of Steubenville from ’03-’07.  Holy good times!  Haha, really, it was a great college experience.  It was so nice to go to college where the majority of the student body was on the same page morally speaking.  It was so easy to make friends and find your niche.  And it was refreshing to meet so many other homeschoolers and realize that a. “Homeschooler” was not, in fact, tattooed prominently on my forehead and b. it was a totally normal and acceptable background to come from.  I was an early childhood education major and I loved moving through the levels of that program, completing all of the tutoring, early experience and eventually student teaching in the local schools.  The best thing to come out of that experience, though, was meeting my good friend Therese, whose cousin would be the future source of so much joy in my life.  Even though we were both at Franciscan at the same time (he was a year ahead of me) and we had many of the same friends, Dave and I didn’t meet and start dating until right after I graduated.  God’s plans are so much better than ours!

Whew, that leads us to now!  Dave and I spent our first two years of married life in Albany where he finished up his PhD at the State University.  Then he got a job out here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts and we live just outside the city limits of Boston.  We’ve lived in the same 3 bedroom duplex for the past three years and we were extremely lucky to be able to buy the house this past fall, so we’re happy homeowners and landlords!

2.  What song has been getting stuck in your head lately or have you been listening to on repeat?

Gosh, I don’t get to listen to “me” music much anymore.  I guess the only thing I listen to frequently is Laurie Berkner music in the car for SK.  She loves Laurie!  When we first started listening to music in the car, SK couldn’t say the word “music” to save herself.  For a while it was “fickis” and then something finally clicked and it morphed into “newsic” which is what it is today.  Every time when get in the car she swings her legs and says “Neeeeewsic Mommy!!!!” and I remind her to be polite and she says “Newsic, Mommy, Peese.”

3.  If you could live anywhere and do anything, what would it be?

Honestly, I love where we are now.  I would love if our families lived closer (like in our town) but other than that, I’m completely happy where we live.  We have a really solid Catholic community here and a plethora of parishes within a 5 mile radius, so it’s really easy to get to daily mass, confession and adoration.  Boston is also really stable economically speaking, so we felt very comfortable buying a home here, especially a multi-family home.  I’m always very impressed with how well maintained everything is in this area.  Upstate New York where I grew up (and where I’ll always feel at home) has been kind of depressed for a while, and everyone knows Steubenville is in bad shape (although, I love that dingy little town so much). But Boston, while a very confusing place to navigate, is a really clean, pretty city and there’s lots to do and see.  Not to mention all the fun Boston quirks!  The locals here are nuts and I love it!

The Boston Public Garden in the fall.  And baby Sara - sob!

The Boston Public Garden in the fall. And baby Sara – sob!

I guess if I could change one thing about this area, I wish it was more affordable for a one income family to buy a decent family house!  A 4 bedroom single family house in a decent neighborhood in our town is VERY expensive.  Hopefully we can afford one of those one day, God willing.

And as for do? Well, I already was a teacher for 4 years and I loved it.  I would love to get back into teaching one day, maybe Pre-K again, maybe Kindergarten, but for now I love being at home.  I know I’m really lucky to be able to stay home and I don’t take it for granted.  I’ve also taught CCD for 5 years now, and I love doing that as well.  I’ve thought it might be fun to be a DRE one day (or that might be a really crazy idea!) but we’ll see.  Right now my husband, babies and house are my priority.

4.  What are you Easter plans?

We’re going to visit my family in New York!  I’m super excited, as we haven’t been able to visit since January and this will be the last trip I take before our little guy arrives in June.

Ok, my turn to ask zee questions and tag zee friends!  I tag:

Annemarie 

Francine

Christy

Maia 

And I want to know…

Where is the farthest you have ever traveled?

Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win?

Who is your favorite saint and why?

What is the most dominant color in your wardrobe?

What has made you crack a smile today?

Random Randomness

Look here, people. The other sisters have weighed in this week on important topics. Ellen covered birth; Rose covered entertainment and Aristotelian thought; Jane talked about living thousands of miles from loved ones.

Here’s the thing. I don’t have much of anything important to say. Well, it is important but frankly I’m so convinced I’m right about everything, I’ve little time or incentive to formulate cohesive arguments about anything.

For example, if you asked me “Claire, the world wants to know if you would give birth at home. If not, why?”

My first response to this question would be to snort at the outrageousness of it. Give birth at home? Anyone who has seen what happens during childbirth should be against this sort of thing. Birth should only happen in a place with medical-grade cleaning products readily available.

Also, safety and blah, blah, blah.

Other examples:

What did you think of the 2014 Winter Olympics?

I loved the Bruno Mars half-time show!

What is your favorite album of all time?

Bill Cosby comedy albums.  Seriously, all my internal conversations with the Almighty sound a lot like Bill Cosby’s imagined conversation between Noah and God: lots of protesting about how good I’ve been followed by arguments about how hard I’ve been working.

I hear you’re taking physiology. Why?

It’s awesome to be able to tell my kids “I can’t play with you right now, I have to study the cardiac pump.” This is so much better than “I can’t play with you right now, I have to, um, check my blogs?!?”

You’re constantly working on your house. What’s your latest project?

Hanging this sign above the kitchen sink (it was required by New York State’s Health and Safety laws):

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Are your children healthy?

Mentally or physically? This question is too complicated.

How are your children?

Prime examples of awesomeness. See below:

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We don’t own a cat and Jude has never displayed a particular desire for one.

Let's be honest: All of us thank God for fruit snacks (and PBS children's television)

Let’s be honest: All of us thank God for fruit snacks (and PBS children’s television)

And, no picture of this, but Carmela took the initiative this morning to open the freezer and help herself to a chocolate-covered banana.

 Cheers, people of the internets!

The Power of a Panera Date

20 weeks down, 20 weeks to go.  It feels like I’ve been pregnant forever and 20 more weeks seems like an eternity. And winter is. not. helping. God is good though, and today I was given the grace of viewing this wait in a different way: I only have 20 weeks left of Sara Kate being my one and only little baby.

We escaped the house this morning to visit my favorite consignment store and see what they had in the infant boy department.  They didn’t have much for baby brother (this kid is just going to live in onsies for the first few months anyway #secondchild) but I did pick up a pair of little diva sunglasses for SK for the car.  She HATES the winter sun in her eyes when we drive.IMG_2175

Afterwards I remembered that I had a Panera gift card from Jane burning a hole in my purse so we headed there for lunch.  Sara and I never eat out for lunch so this was a huge treat for both of us.  And you know what?  It was awesome.  You know how a long overdue date with your husband is so rejuvenating to your relationship?  This was a rejuvenating and healing lunch for me.  Lately it’s been feeling like the walls of our house are closing in on us during the day.  Sara is such a good little girl.  Amazingly, she is happy to do the same things every day, ad nauseam; same breakfast and lunch, same shows, same books, same games, same trek upstairs to dress and jump on Mom and Dad’s bed, same annoying peek on Mom while she showers, etc. etc. etc. I’m the one who gets worn down by the monotony! It was so refreshing to break the cycle and eat a yummy lunch that I didn’t prepare, and to not worry about cleaning it up afterwards.  Most of all, though, it was amazing to just look at my big little girl sitting in that booth eating her mac and cheese, enjoying the different lunch and the interesting sights and sounds of Panera.  I’m ashamed to say I don’t really watch her like this often.  When she’s eating lunch at home, I’m usually making my lunch or cleaning up or poring over facebook.  It was then that I realized that her days as my baby are numbered, and I need to cherish them.  IMG_2182

All that from lunch at Panera!  I clearly don’t lead a very exciting life.  (And Jane, consider this your thank-you-note 😉 )

Inappropriate

Checking in for the first time in months (sorry Ellen!) with nothing new to report, really.  Life is very busy here between school and basketball and indoor soccer and baseball and all those things that come with having four older kids.  Then, while those children are in school I’ve been babysitting four days a week for several different families, for children ranging in age from 3 months to not quite 2 years.  See?  No time to blog.

I don’t mind being busy, but it is hard at times to find joy amid multiple diaper changes, dishes, and carpooling.  Enter Lucy, whose personality and sense of humor makes me laugh every day.  She’s the first child to wake up in the morning and, if it’s before 6:15, I’m also woken up by her stage whisper of, “I’m all done!” coming from the bathroom.  Translation:  “Good morning, Mom.  Rise and give God glory for the new day!  Oh, and wipe my bottom while you’re at it.”  Then I have to get her her bowl of cereal and juice box and deny her first request for candy that day.   As soon as she wakes up, she is “on” and likes to talk with me about all her favorite movies, books, songs, etc.  The other day she asked me, “Mom?  Are you single?”  I had no idea where that came from until Jack told me it was from “Despicable Me 2.”  That movie and its prequel is FULL of inappropriate jokes, mainly of the bathroom humor variety, which is Lucy and every 4 year-olds favorite genre.  (So I shouldn’t let her watch them — but once was enough for her to memorize every bad joke!)  Her favorite scene that she quotes to everyone who listens is when Gru meets Mr. Ramsbottom, whom he calls “Mr. Sheepsbutt.”  Then there’s the Minions response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSKfC1E3vc4

Last night at dinner, she sang “Little Bunny Foo Foo” to us while we ate.  The song and accompanying hand gestures were so cute that I started laughing, so she stopped mid-verse, glared at me, and said, “Mama, do not laugh at Little Bunny Foo Foo.  He is ruuuuuuddddddeeeee.”  So sorry.

Lucy’s favorite person on earth is Brandon, and every morning she has to give him multiple “huggies and kissies” before he leaves.  This morning he left with Theresa to take her to school, which we usually do.  When she realized that she missed her chance to give Theresa her own share of “huggies and kissies,” she turned to me with her huge bottom lip sticking out and said, “Oh, poop nuts.”  That’s my new favorite curse.

"No more juice boxes?  Oh, poop nuts."

“No more juice boxes? Oh, poop nuts.”

On a completely different note, Jack’s current obsession is horses.  I don’t know why.  The other day we were talking about where they would like to live one day, and three out of the four of them said New York.  Jack wants to live on a horse farm in NY.  He’ll have two horses, one for him to ride and one for me to ride when I come visit.  Theresa was the only one who decided to stay with me.  She’s going to live in the house across the street from us “just like Aunt Claire”  because, she reluctantly stated, our 92 year-old neighbor will likely have died by then.  Anyway, back to Jack — as part of his new fascination, he’s been sketching horses on every available sheet of paper.  His latest picture is copied from an illustration in “The Magician’s Nephew.”  I thought it was really good!

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7 Quick Takes: Doldrums

Time for some Quick Takes courtesy of Jen at Conversion Diary.

1. Oh man we are cooped up! Between the snow and the intense cold, SK and I have been homebound since Monday! We finally got out this morning for the sole purpose of picking up little things here and there for indoor activities.  I called my friend Annemarie yesterday for advice, since she is a more seasoned Mom of 3 in the midst of surviving her second winter in Wisconsin.  So out we went today to get a plastic strainer and pipe cleaners, pom-poms and a used little sit-on lion car thing from Savers for SK to scoot around on in the basement. Thanks for the tips, Am!

2. Doldrums: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about doldrums.  Needless to say, we’re all in the middle of winter doldrums, but I’ve also been experiencing pregnancy doldrums basically since finding out I was pregnant. Does anyone else get a little down during pregnancy? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy and grateful to be pregnant, I’m pretty sure it’s been some sort of hormonal something that’s put me in a slump.  My mood has been better this month, but I’ve still been feeling kind of stuck in the mud in every other way, and the weather certainly isn’t helping.  I’m counting down the days to Tuesday February 4th when we find out what we’re having.  I’ve been thinking of that day as my mid-pregnancy pick-me-up; hopefully the natural turning point of my doldrums.  It really helps me to know a little bit more about who we’re getting ready to meet. 🙂  Anyway, sorry this is such a downer of a take.  I’d really like to know if anyone else gets this way during pregnancy? I didn’t last time, so it’s been surprising to experience it this time.

3.  Confession:  My last semester in college during the winter doldrums, I took up the bad habit of going to the tanning salon semi-frequently.  I know I know… It was so super cheap in Steubenville, like, dirt cheap, emphasis on the dirt.  Gah, I also smoked, ok?? I realize this basically makes me Snooki. Anyway, lately I’ve been longing to pick up that bad habit again (not the smoking!) because it was so warm in the tanning booth and I had such nice color.  My skin is so pale right now it’s almost gray!  Too bad there’s this thing called cancer.

4.  Lets switch gears to pretty things, shall we?  The non-maternity clothes daydreams have already begun around here.  Have you guys seen the new stuff at Loft lately?  I haven’t been a fan of Loft for a while but they’re changing my mind big time with this collection.  Here are a few of my favorites:

5. SK is really killing me with her toddlerisms these days, but mostly in a good way.  She’s definitely asserting her independence when it comes to doing things all by herself if you please!! Apart from that, she does really cute things too, like when we tuck her into bed, she cuddles with lambie and bunny and says “Cozy!” Or how she rubs things to help her fall asleep, like the aforementioned bunny and lambie and her blankets.  Lately, I’ve noticed that when I hold her, she likes to rub my hair between her fingers in the same way.  Also, she frequently asks to “Hogew?” (hold you?) with big sappy eyes.  I just can’t resist.  She won’t be the baby for much longer so I can’t help but indulge a little.

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An indulgent gram of her cuteness.

6. The nominees for the Sheenazing blog awards are up over at A Knotted Life.  Surprise, surprise! The McSisters have flown under the radar again. 😉 But! Many of my personal favorites including blogging and real life friends were nominated so I’m more than happy to root for them!  Make sure to check out and vote for:

Christy of Fountains of Home

Like Mother Like Daughter

Laura of This Felicitous Life

Colleen of Martin Family Moments

Kate of Be Merry Kate 

Erika of Stethoscopes Style and Grace

Ashley of The Big White Farmhouse

Francine of Bella Vita Dolce

Annemarie of A.Thimons

There are soooooooo many good blogs on the nominee list so just take a leaf outta my book and waste several hours this weekend just checking out new blogs and revisiting old favorites.  Bonnie at A Knotted Life (who is excellent and a favorite blogger of mine as well) goes though a lot of work to put these awards together and this year she did so despite some intense family health struggles.  Please make sure to check out her blog and leave her a thanks and keep her little James in your prayers.

7. Finally, a happy birthday (tomorrow) to our Rose.  Here’s our post from her birthday last year, and if you really want to be impressed and/or feel bad about your lack of creativity, just check out her post from earlier this week.  For reals, people.  She really spends her days wrangling two little girls, nursing her wudgie baby boy, painting, Irish dancing and restoring a doll house.  While I was visiting her a couple of weeks ago, she did all that AND she made homemade soup for dinner!  I had to go take a nap after witnessing it all.  Happy Birthday, Rose!  We love you despite all your accomplishments! 😉

Also?  She's gorgeous.

Also? She’s gorgeous.

Well, those weren’t very quick takes were they? Ooops.