Dec 29, 2016

2016 in 12 Photos

Here we are, the last week of December- "the days between the years"-, and a look back through the year in some photos:
So much snow! I remember calling the hospital the Monday after a crazy blizzard to make sure our ultrasound was still scheduled. Around here things can get canceled at a flake of snow.
My mom and sister planned a big celebration for my Dad's 70th birthday- friends, family, catered food and all. That was one time I looked forward to leftovers very much. ;)  That month my brother and his wife also came in town for a wedding so we all got to meet their youngest.

Signs of spring! We had a very Lenten Lent in the health department but a nice Easter to finish the month.
We laid my grandpa to rest in Arlington Cemetery at the beginning of the month.
Our first visit to a tulip and daffodil field was quite an experience. :) I could also say the same for the gestational diabetes diagnosis I got that month. :(
May was rough since it rained for 3+ weeks straight (truly awful!)- the girls' faces perfectly sum up how I felt. Also, I was 1000% pregnant. Somehow we were allowed this sunny day when Evie's preschool class had their International Day, which was great!
Oh, and I also started blogging in this new space. Good times!

We went with family to the local train festival at the beginning of the month, and rode a real, live train into the next town with appearances by Elsa and Anna. Not sure what they have to do with trains, but the girls all loved it! Then, Cora arrived! And the day after we were discharged from the hospital was our goddaughter's Baptism. And Evie attended her first Vacation Bible School that last week. It was a full month!

All I can recall about July is our family beach trip to NC at the end of the month. A good trip but logistical craziness to the max. 
Cora was baptized at a parish down there, and I got to meet up with a blogger friend!

Evie's 5th birthday and lazy summer days before the first day of Kindergarten arrived, sums up our August.
I have many great memories from attending the CWBN-MA blogging conference at the beginning of the month.
Audrey announced, "Big school kid!", to welcome her first day of preschool. And Heidi eventually perked up when her second birthday rolled around at the end of the month. ;)
My memory of October is ridiculously poor...Halloween or something?
We had *such* a warm and beautiful fall- I loved every second of it! 
Thanksgiving was a little bittersweet for me since my parents and all but two of my siblings were out of town. (What's the point of being from a big family if no one is around?? Sort of kidding. ;) We were welcomed to join my brother-in-law's family and I'm grateful for their hospitality!
Despite most of us getting sick during the month, I feel like we hit a good stride this year in terms of Advent activities and traditions. The girls' excitement and participation for all things Advent and Christmas gets better every year!

Happy (almost) New Year!

Here's a look at previous review posts:

Dec 18, 2016

My Sunday Best {7}

Today I was all set to brave the cold, with fleece-lined tights and a blanket scarf...and then found out it was 63 degrees outside.
Buffalo check skirt, blanket scarf, red and black outfit
sweater- thrifted | scarf- Nordstrom | skirt- Corilynn | wedges- Nine West

At least I wasn't wearing wool!

I really like this scarf but it's just so bulky and hard to tame! I've only worn it a few times in the last year because of that, and the fact that I have more white than cream in my closet.
We haven't been as a family to mass since the first Sunday of Advent, so it was great to go together today- and thankfully not a circus. ;) 
Our tree is up and the rest of the decorations made it out of the boxes; now I just wish those gifts would wrap themselves!

Linking up with Rosie for My Sunday Best

Dec 17, 2016

Is it possible for humans to hibernate?

We're collectively, hesitantly, heaving a sigh of relief over here that we've seen the last of an awful stomach bug that bit everyone but Cora (hopefully sweet baby will be spared!). It's been almost a week and a half of survival mode and everyone in their turn subsisting on staples of saltines and Gatorade. I feel like I'm running on fumes right now to keep up with life while taking care of things that were neglected while sick...where's the pause button?

Definitely not the Advent I was envisioning, but I've been buoyed by some bright spots.

Three of my grandparents have passed away during December; on the first anniversary of my grandpa's passing (the 1st) I came across this prayer Evie jotted down completely on her own:

"Dear God, I hope Grandpa Varney is in heaven."
 Oh, my Grinch-like heart was so moved!

We also enjoyed a nice visit from St. Nicholas
 My Grandma Varney passed away on his feast day, which I just found out was my other Grandma's birthday (the little figurine belonged to her). I read somewhere to pay attention so dates, as God loves to show us heavenly connections through them- just, so much yes to that.
We managed to decorate gingerbread houses with cousins (which Evie is claiming she's "allergic to" since she started getting sick that very night- I've yet to see that one on a medical file ;).
 Evie's taken it upon herself to read the Advent wreath prayer every night and reads the Jesse Tree verse some days. One less thing for me to do/ remember is HUGE!
 ^^^These size four diaper wearing darlings are quite a pair...and within seven pounds of each other :)
Also, Cora's chubby legs are almost too much to handle. She is just so perfectly round!
Heidi got sick the night this picture was taken. :(
Yesterday I went to bake the sugar cookie dough with Audrey and Heidi- the dough that I prepared exactly two weeks ago- and found it had a mysterious gooey substance over it. Toss!
We've been completely out of regular sugar, but somehow I remembered the easiest recipe for mints that only uses confectioner's sugar, so Audrey's "baking" request was sort of realized. I think, though,  as long as it has sugar and she gets to help and eat the final product anything is a win. :)

At the risk of severe cabin fever or death from never being alone, I went out to Walmart the other night at 9pm, where at least I could isolate myself in uncrowded aisles. It felt like a mini-vacation. I went for a bunch of essentials, including this nail polish which I am in love with! Sometimes you just *need* pretty nails.
That's all for now. We're here and we're preparing the best we can for Christ's birth. Prayers for a healthy Christmas for all!

PS- the O Antiphons start today!

Dec 5, 2016

So They Say {2}

Evie: Any number minus itself is zero.
Me: Wow, Evie, you're right...where did you learn that?
Evie: In my head. My brain gave it to me. For my birfday.

Addressing the LOUDNESS coming from Audrey's room during naptime-
Me: Honey, you really need to be quiet; I can hear you all the way downstairs.
Audrey (wearing a fake lei): Well, I'm just saving my girls because the Arabian sea has sharks.
Audrey: And I'm just tossing them onto the ship. 

Evie musing aloud in the car:
I want to go to all the places I've never been before. Gloria Days, Krispy Kreme...and, uh, Hawaii.

Observing Heidi strutting around in her diaper-
Audrey: Mom, it's not appropriate to walk around the house with just a diaper on. That's called...showing your diaper.
All you scantily clad babies, take note.
Having no luck locating her school library book-
Evie (matter-of-factly): There's just one thing to in one of my own books.

After a few minutes of trying to persuade me to get a dog (no):
Audrey: Well, I can clean up the poop with a broom and a dust pan.
And after assuring her the answer is still no-
Audrey: We can get a cat.  

In the middle of dinner a thoughtful Evie states: 
I love to eat butter. 

Evie: How old is God?
Me: He is...older than everything.
Evie: I fink he's 90 years old.

Silence at the dinner table, then-
Evie: Mom, when you're 69, what will you look like?

While visiting Cora in the hospital Audrey's first question:
Is that her container that she sleeps in?

and after giving her new sister a good long look:
I love her little feet the best of her body.

Evie (coming inside after finger-painting on the patio):
 *sigh* The mosquitoes want to drink my blood.

Evie (wailing after it was realized that Audrey accidentally left her purse at the park near the Civil War museum, where there was a soldier re-enactment that day):
Will the strange enemies take the purse?

After watching a few different musical scenes from Hello Dolly-
Audrey: Mom, why are they smiling so much? And dancing around outside?

And a parenting backfire- one day after some difficulty playing with her sisters I pulled Evie aside and tried to explain to her that Tim and I won't always be around and sisterly relationships are a gift. Well, sobbing ensued and for the rest of the afternoon Evie would intermittently tear up over the thought of Tim and I both dying. After apologizing (again) for upsetting her I asked her about being so sad.
 Evie: Because. Four girls and no parents sounds like an ugly story!

And finally...
Recently Evie proudly presented us with a card she had made (at home) for a boy in her class:
Tim: Wow, so is this you and him getting married?
Evie (quite perplexed): No- that's a picture of me marrying another man when I'm older.
Because obviously.

Nov 27, 2016

Advent Has Arrived {My Sunday Best}

Typing out a quick post to link up with Rosie for My Sunday Best!

I thrifted this dress a couple of weeks ago and was so happy it fit (thrifting gamble- not trying on in store) and was a good length (why are dresses so short?). The orange color is a bit tricky since I feel like pairing it with black would be too Halloween-y, so riding boots were the order of the day.

Yesterday I pulled out our window candles, faux greens, Advent wreath, and the toy nativity set from storage. When Audrey woke up from her nap she danced around and declared, "This is the BEST Advent evah!". Such a nice reminder that it doesn't take much to make things special for kids. :)

Hope you have a peaceful first Sunday of Advent!

Nov 21, 2016

Life Lately {November}

On Saturday the two older girls plastered Pinkalicious stickers on their bedroom wall. Tim said they had set up an entire scene but I didn't look at it because I knew I would be the opposite of gracious and merciful about the situation. I am so anti-stickers on things other than paper or clothes- they must have known. Then today Evie took scissors to some of Audrey's hair and now Audrey is sporting a random lock of very short hair on the right side. Why??

It *has* been over a year since this happened, so I guess there was pent up mischief just waiting to pour out in some form or other.

 Cora just turned five months old and I feel like she is so big already! She and Heidi wear the same diaper size now and I'm gathering the nine-month clothing to put her in.
I had to take her to see a specialist recently because our family doctor was concerned her anterior fontanelle closed prematurely. Thankfully the specialist doesn't think it's a problem and hopefully the follow-up in three months will have the same outcome. 

While I was walking around the hospital trying to find the right department, though, the muslin blanket I use for a nursing cover fell off my bag and I didn't if you're ever wondering how to get comfortable nursing in a mostly-full waiting room, that's one way to do it (although I don't recommend it!). (At the very least I had some cover with the Ergo awkwardly slung over the front.)

I'm almost finished with my Christmas shopping which I'm hoping to wrap up (ha!) before Advent starts. The thing is, I have always loved Christmas shopping and it never used to bother me when I still needed to shop for gifts even days before Christmas, so I was thinking about why it's become such a big deal to me the past several years. I've concluded that: A. I just don't have the free time to devote to it like I did before kids, B. between parenting, doing the Advent things, and Christmas prep, I have, and C. I need peace in my life.

If gift shopping needs pop up before Christmas I feel all:


Speaking of Advent, I recently found out about a version of "Gabriel's Message" sung by Sting and I completely love it (the video is kinda kooky but the song is so pretty to listen to). Hansel sums up my feelings about Sting's music well:
"Sting. Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he's making it, I respect that." 
Last week I popped in to a resale store for a quick gander and was excited to find a an inexpensive mirror that just needed some spray paint on the frame. Luckily the weather was balmy and sunny and amazing, so I was able to paint it while Cora took a short snooze. It now hangs it in Evie and Audrey's room (where it's too high for them to use- oops!):
And silly as it sounds I was so grateful for the whole "project" because things like that breathe life into my life. Some days are so filled with dishes, driving, changing diapers, meal prep, barely keeping the house out of the disaster zone, etc. and they run into more days of the same. I begin to feel like a shell of myself and I need "me" things to balance it all out.
For good measure here are some pictures from a Halloween party we went to a while back:

I just love this one :)
Happy Thanksgiving week!

Nov 8, 2016

A Couple of Songs for Election Day

Last night I got sucked into reading a lengthy comments section of a political piece written by a Catholic (I couldn't look away!), and was quite saddened when I saw two commenters write something along the lines of, "I'm not Catholic but I'll never convert after reading these comments/ if this is the way Catholics treat each other". YOWZA.

Obviously this has been a rough election season (understatement!) for all, with lots of mudslinging fests breaking out everywhere.
The song "Rise Above It" popped into my head last night and I think that's a perfect line to keep in mind today. Definitely not in a snooty, "I be totally right" way, but in a "keep praying and channeling our efforts into working for what's good and true" way. God has the victory!
So, I give you:
Because, Cool Runnings, mon.

Also, these lines from "O God Beyond All Praising" seem fitting for today:
 and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we'll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise. 

Nov 4, 2016

{7QT} Mothball Complaints, Books, and Fall TV

Linking up with Kelly

As I write this I'm inhaling the scent of mothballs with each breath and think I might die. Recently we've had mice in our cars (again!) and our car mechanic said they don't like the scent of mothballs (guess what- neither do humans), so he suggested putting some in panty hose to hang under our cars. Now, if you sit too close to the garage door you get a nose-full.
If I ever happen to park next to your car I apologize in advance for the nasal assault!

We had a really nice Halloween- joined family for pizza beforehand and then trick-or-treated in my parent's neighborhood. There's a fair amount of people from our church and school community who live there, so it's great to go to houses we know or see familiar faces when we're out begging for candy. 
Our costume theme this year was: princess dresses from the dress-up box. ;)
 Cora had a cute Halloween outfit on earlier but pooed out of it, like her sisters before her have been wont to do on holidays. C'est la vie.
Also pictured: an elephant and Owlette
Some seasonal book love:
Sleeptight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter- Such a cute book for fall and winter, and I love the illustrations.
 Christmas in Noisy Village- I borrowed this from our library since they didn't have Children of Noisy Village, and it is so delightful I can't wait to borrow it again come December. It's a picture book (not chapter like I think the first one is?) and a charming look at Old World Christmas traditions.

Set in the 1930s and about a British family who heads to Corfu for a fresh start. We've only seen the first two or three episodes but so far, so good! And that scenery!

Lately I've been thinking about what's saving my life right now à la Modern Mrs. Darcy. First up: white baby socks. All the baby socks I've ever purchased have had some sort of color on them- you know, flowers, all pink, shoe socks, etc.- so over the years we've amassed a quite a good amount of itty bitty unmatched socks. And the ease of having them all be the same color is such a glaringly obvious and simple thing I can't believe it's taken me this long to figure out.

Also *sort of* saving my life right now: organization solutions for doll clothes and shoes.
There's been really no set place for the girls' doll clothes to get put away which leads to doll clothes scattered hither, thither, and yon. All along we've had that little pink set of drawers but no set use for it use and the low bar in their closet not in use either (crossing my fingers no one decides to hang on it). One day I decided to see if the little doll-dress hangers fit on the bar and- they did! Then I realized the pink drawers were a perfect size for little clothes, so problem solved. 

Same thing for the shoes in our family room- in need of a storage solution and the basket answered.

Now if only there was a way to keep everything put away. ;)

All the fall leaves are hitting their peak right now and it is SO beautiful! I want to pull the car over every other minute to snap pictures of all the gorgeous color medleys.

Here's a laugh for your Friday:
I saw this on Instagram; I want to be friends with whoever wrote that!
Happy weekend!

Nov 2, 2016

How NOT to Take Decent Photos of Your Kids

Disclaimer: I am not a professional or even an amateur photographer and all suggestions are solely based on my experience.

Tip #1: Try to dress your kids in coordinating clothes.
Clearly the two-year-old knows that's an absurd notion and will make a stink over your chosen outfit. 
Tip #2: Suggest the nice-looking brown boots for said two-year-old's photo footwear.
Obviously the gaudy Hello Kitty boots will be a much bigger draw, resulting in tears which will then lead to socked feet in all the photos.

Tip #3: Insist on taking the photos. Keep on pushing even if you have an inkling to stop after the first power-struggle.

Tip #4: Take the photos on a beautiful, warm day with vibrant fall leaves in the background. 
Best to pick a day that's rainy and dreary as that will surely jive better with a certain child's mood.  

Tip #5: Position the chairs so there's a large gap in the middle:
Just so.
Tip #6: Ask your kids to smile.
Tip #7: Ask them to smile a normal, natural, everyday smile.
 Tip #8: Ask them to look at the camera.
Tip #9: Never learn how to shoot in manual and then pick a setting on your camera and snap away without checking how the photos are turning out.
 Tip #10: Make sure you're the only adult around so there's no help when the baby spits up.

That should do it!
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