Dec 31, 2017

Christmas 2017

It has been a full December! We didn't do several things I had mentally planned (Living Nativity, free train show, Lessons & Carols) but I need to keep reminding myself that the girls are still young and there are (hopefully) many years ahead to enjoy those things. And thankfully we didn't have as much sickness as we had last December! There was a lot of oil diffusing, chest rubbing, and handing out of probiotics and vitamins at our place- anything to help keep sickness at bay!

Tim did take three of the girls to Breakfast with Santa one Saturday, while I stayed home with a sick Audrey. Evie and Audrey also went to a Bethlehem Walk at a local parish with their aunt, uncle, cousins, and my mom, and we made it to both of Evie and Audrey's school Christmas programs, which were on the same day. Audrey was Mary in her pre-k pageant and Evie sang with her class in the older grade program.
Tim also took the older three to the dollar store on Christmas Adam to pick out gifts for each other, which I'm sure was a hoot; I don't think anything was a surprise. ;) On Christmas Eve we went to my parent's house for an appetizer dinner and enjoyed our neighborhood's farolitas on the way home!

We went to our usual Sunday mass time for Christmas morning mass; I do LOVE mass on Christmas Eve but after years of trying different parishes and finding packed to the GILLS (our parish had six masses just on the Eve!), plus combating post-nap grumpiness and dinner time, we found going in the morning works well for us.

On Christmas morning I had to wake up Cora and Heidi, and when I brought Heidi down she looked at the tree and presents and then turned to me and said, "Mom! We got you chocolates!". Such a sweet girl!
 We enjoyed opening some presents, threw some food in front of the girls and headed out the door-
And that's when our Christmas morning became eventful.

The mini van battery was dead ("as dead as a doornail"). After several minutes of doing the things that help re-charge it with no success, Tim told me to go ahead and take Evie and Cora to mass in his car. 
Very thankfully mass wasn't crowded at all, we sat with my parents and brother, and Tim, Audrey, and Heidi made it to mass by the readings (Christmas miracle!).

We were having my family over for Christmas brunch right after mass, and my sister had texted me they would be at our place before we got back from mass (as far as I knew, they had no way to get in).
 Well, when I pulled up to our house I took one look at the place and was certain we had been burglarized (burgled?). I saw my sister's van, but the garage and front door were wide open, and one of the front windows had been jimmied up. We have ancient storm windows without screens and they are such a pain to open that we never open them. (Also, it was super cold and windy.)

Then my brother-in-law came out and told me that Tim had left a door open for them, and they had gone ahead and started a fire in the fireplace but the flue wasn't open, so the house filled with smoke. Haha, something we've definitely done before! NBD.

This stinker is continually snatching Mary from the Nativity scene and keeping an iron clasp on her
After the chilly start to the brunch the rest of the day was relaxing. :)
Evie took it upon herself to tape up some self-made decorations, adding a bit of cheer to our walls. ;)

Cora's favorite presents were her baby doll and a ball one of her sister's picked for her- I love how little it takes to please youngin's!
[Somehow Cora chipped her front teeth in November, and days before Christmas Evie got glasses. It was heart-wrenching to see her try them on and watch her face as she realized how much better she could now see. Poor thing!]
After naps we went over to my parent's again for a Christmas feast (and some eye-gouging, in Tim's case).

I have seriously done nothing productive this past week and am a teensy bit dreading when the to-dos of next week hit me in the face, but first ringing in the New Year.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dec 12, 2017

Some Things to Tell You About

Just blaring a quick PSA of a few random gift ideas!📣

This isn't really a thought-out list but more a handful of old and new-found favorites.  :)

First, I've mentioned before about the hair clips in this shop that we love, but she makes beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe dresses too! Evie has one and it is such a lovely and well-made dress.

Along that vein, how cute is this Guadalupe board book?? (Amazon Prime!)

My friend's mom has an Etsy shop with Montessori-style aprons, the most adorable felt food, and hand-held marble mazes. I've never seen anything like the mazes before; my mom bought one for Heidi for Christmas and I'm so excited for her to use it! I love that it doesn't have any pieces to loose, which also makes it great for keeping little hands busy in the car or waiting in line. 

We've gone through a few reading lights in Evie and Audrey's room over the last couple of years and are pretty pleased with this one (so far!). You can switch between yellow or white light, and there's a dimming option too.

Ashley mentioned this hand held nightlight a while back, which we bought for Heidi. It's just enough light to look at books by but nothing too bright. We've had the same batteries in it for a good length of time, too, which is paramount for me when battery changing involves finding a screwdriver. ;)

So, not really a gift but used FOR gifts- 50 kraft paper bags for $14. (The price has gone up bit, no doubt due to that time of year, but still a good price!) I have a stash of "real" gift bags but having a large stash of non-occasion-specific bags comes in so handy! They can be used for goody bags, drawn on, or dressed up with fancy tissue paper.

Finally, this spiced nut recipe is SO good and would be an easy edible gift. I ate the vast majority of my first batch before the week was over and am very proud that it wasn't something chocolate.

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Dec 11, 2017

Glimmers of Good

photo by Aaron Riddle
I once had a co-worker who had been raised Catholic but was no longer practicing. I'm not sure what his story was; he was adamant about celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, though. :)
One night at work we received news that an outside agency was coming in to assess the need for personnel on each unit- meaning seniority based downsizing and I was the newest hire for our shift, so I would be the first to go. The enormity of what I was facing got the better of me and I couldn't keep the tears back. I'll never forget what happened next: that co-worker whom I mentioned above leaned in and asked if I wanted to go down to the chapel. It was a Catholic hospital and we were blessed with Christ's true presence always being present in the tabernacle. My co-workers covered my patients for me while I went down for a break, and I was able to seek solace there. While the assessment didn't end up affecting my job, I'll never forget his offer, and that while he wasn't even a practicing Catholic, he understood how important a visit to the chapel was for me in that moment.

At the Edel Conference in 2015, Audrey Assad mentioned she listened to a CD of the Stations of the Cross during her labor...narrated by Liam Neeson (for reals.). Apparently he was moved by the work of the Redemptorist order who produced it, so he offered his talents to make the CD. I know he was the voice of Aslan in the new Narnia movies, but to take the initiative to let that order know he valued their work is a pretty cool thing.

Several months ago our pastor told a story about the wife of Leonid Brezhnev, communist, atheist, leader of the Soviet Union from 1964-1982. Father said at Brezhnev's funeral, which then VP George H.W. was present at (again, in an atheist nation), just before the lid of the coffin was shut, Mrs. Brezhnev reached over and quickly traced the sign of the cross on her husband's body, in front of everyone present. (This blog tells the story 100 times better and in much greater detail)

I know these are kind of random examples, but stories like these just get to me. (A related aside- the book Deathbed Conversions, which I've mentioned before, is one of my *favorite* books.) There's something so stirring about someone who doesn't share the faith who can appreciate or has respect for some aspect of it, or a shock of light amidst so much darkness.

There's hope that God's grace is there in those moments.

Dec 6, 2017

Life Lately {November}

I don't know if it was because Advent didn't start until December, but November seemed long for me (in a good way!). 
We attended the Veteran's Day parade in our city, which we had never been to. The length was just right and the weather wasn't too cold, which (almost) made up for the fact that we weren't able to go to the big Christmas parade last weekend. 

In mid-November I found out from my mom that my, and some of my siblings', 1st grade teacher passed away on All Souls' Day. She was a wonderful lady and one of my favorite teachers. She used to give us gummy bears as treats, and I remember when she "introduced" our class to Mother Teresa. One of my older brothers accidentally broke her statue of Mary twice, so she finally gave it to him, all glued together. :) 
I am amazed that we even found out about her passing- My mom was in adoration when a former teacher at that school, who she just happens to be in touch with, saw her, told her the news and then passed along her obituary.
 God is merciful. 

On Thanksgiving morning we went to mass and then drove straight to my sister's house nearby for donuts, coffee, outdoor fire pit, and football with our family and her in-laws. The football was serious business, so it was mostly the men folk and kids that played. :)
Our Thanksgiving meal was at my parents' that evening and we. ate. well.

We re-arranged the furniture in our living room, splitting the room into two sides, which I think works a lot better for us. I also found super inexpensive drapes for our family room and chair pads for our kitchen at an a bargain/outlet store. We bought a screen for our family room fire place and I love seeing how all those little touches make a difference aesthetically!

Tim and I finished the last season of Longmire on Netflix and I was (mostly) happy with how it ended. I definitely appreciated that it didn't feel like a last-ditch, just-wrap-it-up-however-because-it's-ending season. 
We also started The Vietnam War documentary and Stranger Things. The former I'm finding really interesting (especially because I know next to nothing about it!) and the latter is good and super intriguing BUT I keep dreaming about it and it sticks with me in a creepy way if we watch too many episodes in a row, so I'm not sure if I can continue.
I AM looking forward to the next season of The Crown coming on Friday!

Nov 26, 2017

My Sunday Best {11}

Happy Feast of Christ the King! I don't know about you but I'm glad that Advent won't start for another week (same as the year Audrey was born!). I like having space after Thanksgiving to prepare (...for the season of preparation).

Today I was SO excited to find battery operated candlesticks at Aldi for our windows. My mom gave me some a couple of years ago that were amazing- they lasted for months on the same set of batteries and once you turn them on they stay on for eight hours and will turn on the same time every evening. I needed a couple more and the ones at Aldi seem to be very similar and were only $4 for two! Woot! Our outdoor decorating for Christmas is "minimalist-lazy", so window candles really fit the bill.

Linking up with Rosie; here's what I wore to mass:

Pardon the dirty mirror- Cora loves to scamper into my closet and smear her hands all over it, so cleaning is futile.

The shoes and cardigan are both years-old from Gap & Loft and the dress is this one I mentioned I recently ordered from Amazon. It comes with a wide sash/ belt of the same material that buttons in the back but we were pressed for time so I left it off today. I also ordered a petticoat to wear underneath for dressier occasions. :)

Hope you had a restful Thanksgiving break!

Nov 21, 2017

Toddlers: A Mother's Helper

If anyone needs accountability when it comes to cleaning up the table after meals, might I suggest soliciting the help of a toddler? They often volunteer without asking and as an added bonus they will *not* utter a nagging word.

 Quietly and courteously they will show you the work you've left undone, by un-grudgingly licking that deserted dessert plate or making sure every spoonful of the leftover bowl of yogurt longer in the bowl. (They might even endearingly use their yogurt covered hands to grab the kitchen towel and smear/wipe their mouth- how helpful! You've probably been meaning to wash it, anyway.)

Soon enough you will shoot out of your chair like a rocket to clear every last remaining item on the table and your days of post-meal clean-up procrastination will be over. 

Next order of business: the toddler will help remind you to always keep the bathroom door shut and your beauty products our of reach.

Nov 6, 2017

My Getting Dressed Two Pence

Almost Nine years ago I flew from California to Virginia for my Grandpa's funeral. It was January so I brought along my coat I had bought the previous year- it was a lovely long, off-white, belted coat that I had shelled out $$$ for because disposable income and because I wanted something of good quality.


The morning of the funeral I suddenly felt that I probably shouldn't wear that coat. I thought it wasn't respectful look for attending a funeral (never mind that I was wearing a black dress + shoes, and a dark cardi, and were he alive my Grandpa would not have cared in the least!), and I didn't want to feel like I was standing out. We were in a rush so I went to my parent's coat closet and grabbed my old navy blue pea coat from high school. Once we were in the car I realized it had a large amount of mud rubbed on it and the lining inside was torn. Suffice it to say I did not feel great wearing that at all.  

To think I thought my white coat was not subdued enough, so instead I wore a muddy, torn coat to my Grandpa's funeral. I chose poorly.

I probably could go on and on about times in my life I haven't felt great about what I was wearing in situations where I had complete control over how I dressed and what items of clothing I placed in my closet!

I think I can pin my sartorial issues down to this:

And something I know a lot of people voice, which is: impulse buying/ not putting enough thought into what your wardrobe needs. 

Incidentally, two books I've read recently (this and this) and this Verily article all highly encourage dressing well in your own personal style. A much needed boost for me!

The past several months I've really been trying to only buy clothing I REALLY like- that has always been an ongoing process but I think I'm getting better at it! It finally dawned on me that I won't be "saving" outfits if everything in my closet is something I want to wear. 
Along with that, if I need something, like a white top, I try to think about what exactly I want that top to be (more fitted, loose, v-neck, collared, etc.) and then be super picky when I'm searching for it. It's not always easy to say no over and over but the final outcome is better that way, I think. Praying has been fruitful too- asking God for help finding "x" for myself or the girls on the cheap, and so often He has provided. Often there's a wait but waiting helps me determine how much I like the idea of what I'm looking for- if that makes sense.

I'm not sure if it's information overload or what but power-house, fashion-minded blogs I used to regularly follow aren't my thing any more. I reached a point where hearing about the latest clothing trends and where to buy them from multiple different sources felt overwhelming. I've decided I like what I like! :) (There's still a handful of fashion-y blogs that I follow whose content I really enjoy reading and whose lives I like to hear about.)

Since we have two family weddings coming up in the new year I've been looking for a LBD and just bought this one (less than $20! and also comes in a million other colors and prints). The fit is great and I'm hoping to get lots of use out of it.

 A funny aside- Tim commented on the middle cardigan above when I was last wearing it and I told him I found it at a Goodwill.
Tim: "It looks kinda clean for Goodwill..."
Haha, Goodwills are definitely some of the cleaner thrift shops I've been in!

Here's to getting dressed on insignificant days. :)

Nov 4, 2017


Last Saturday we attended the annual kids' Halloween party the Knights at our parish host.

The girls enjoyed the crafts and games and did most of them themselves! I feel like we've turned an autonomy corner for events like these; sitting and watching was a nice change of pace. :)

We had a fairy, Cinderella, and Belle, and Evie decided to go dressed as a mom. :) I think my favorite part about her ensemble was the "mom" items she put in her wallet: library card, chapstick, and money. 

 At one point Cora wandered off and I eyed her standing in front of several of the Knights, staring at them as they talked to her. #toddlerlyfe

On Halloween we had dinner at my parents' and went trick-or-treating with cousins.

 Elena of Avalor, Elsa, an artic girl, a bunny, pumpkin, and Princess Anna (not pictured: Princess Isabel)

It was a fun evening with lots of good sugary loot! The girls don't get out much after dark, so they kept commenting on the moon and stars, which gave me a chuckle.

The next day Evie had a saint project due for which she chose St. John the Evangelist. They made the "saints" out of paper towel rolls, and then had to bring in small artifacts that represented parts of their story to present to the class- I thought that was a cute idea!

On All Souls' Day Audrey mentioned a few times how excited she was to go to the cemetery. I eventually asked her what she remembered being so exciting to which she replied, "hide-and-go-seek and things". I had to burst her bubble that that was not going to be on our agenda while praying for the Poor Souls...

And on a completely unrelated note: I have found my very favorite La Croix flavor to date- Blackberry Cucumber!

Hope the rest of your weekend is swell!

Oct 20, 2017

Heidi Jo Turns Three

At the end of September Heidi turned three. Save for some bumpy stages two was a cute age on her. :) There are a few things I want to remember:

When we're praying saint litanies she often pipes up with, "Saint Is-is-dore the Farmer"

For some reason a while back Tim and I started rhyming things we'd say to her- like "Here's your cup, Mrs. Bup" or "Get your shoes on, Mrs. Blues-on". Not long after we began she started declaring, "I not a bup... (and then proudly) I'm Heidi Jos-fina!".

She has her little posse of dollies that she sleeps with and carries around, all of them sans clothing.
A while back she was very big on having them all around her at nap and bedtime. Sometimes when she'd go to lie down the dolls would be taking up all her pillow real estate and she'd cry out, "Heeyy, there's no room for me!"- as if nothing could possibly be done about it. 😁

She loves to wear bracelets (when they can be found!) and I'm so glad I snapped a photo of the one day where she accessorized to the max:

She loves to do whatever her big sisters are doing and often quietly follows along. Recently we were at an Oktoberfest celebration where older kids were involved in a game that required the participants to be blindfolded as they crawled on the floor banging a soup ladle (grown-ups yelling out "hot" or "cold") until they hit the big soup pot- candy underneath for a prize. Evie and Audrey eventually had their turns and as the game was wrapping up Heidi turned to Tim and asked, "Can I be older?". The organizers let her have a go at it, as Evie and Audrey eagerly aided her along. I couldn't help being surprised that she just went for it with no trepidation- blindfold and all.

On her actual birthday we had her favorite dinner and opened some presents. In an effort to do something "exciting" I made one of those large cookies for dessert which worked out perrrfectly, since there weren't enough chocolate chips to make a batch of cookies (my initial plan).

That weekend we celebrated with my family. The weather was nice, so the kids were able to play outside in between food and cake.
In the months leading up to her birthday whenever I would ask Heidi what she wanted she'd tell me, "Chocolate cake! With a number 3 candle!". I love the sweet simplicity of the younger ages!

She is such a pleasant little soul and we're so lucky to have her in our family!
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