Dec 31, 2018

A Very Good December

Mostly! After Christmas three of our girls needed antibiotics, our dishwasher leaked onto the kitchen floor and ended up needing to be replaced, and our Christmas tree fell over (we had it up for only eight days!). On the bright side the sickness wasn't GI or respiratory, we have a new dishwasher that is prettier and infinitely quieter than the old one, and at least I won't be taking off the lights and ornaments come January which I always find to be glum!
This year I really relished having that week+ in between Thanksgiving and Christmas; it was so nice to put all the fall decorations away and have bare surfaces before slowly taking out things for Advent. I also felt like we had a good balance between doing seasonal things and opting out/ having free weekend days when we felt like it. This year Audrey got the Jesse tree set out (seriously probably made of the cheapest magnet material possible) and did it on her own every day. It was kind of great to just "let the chips fall where they may" on some things!

On the 1st we went to the local Christmas parade, which is something I *really* wanted to do. Every single year Tim had a work related event that always fell on the same day as the parade but since he switched jobs in August that no longer applied! It started spitting not long after the parade started, so we only stayed about an hour but all in all we were glad we went. :)

The next Saturday we went to the Knights of Columbus Christmas party for the kids, and the day after that the older girls and I attended "Madeline's Christmas" with my aunt, mom, sister, SIL, and two of the girls' cousins, afterwards going for pizza. I think that was one of my favorite outings in December! The play was really cute and it was fun to have a girls' day and to get time to eat good food and talk with everyone.

The last week of school before break Audrey and Heidi both had their school programs. Heidi was an angel in the Pre-K pageant and Audrey sang with her class in the evening program. 

Heidi is so cute in her puffy bunny slippers
On the 21st we all went to the Bethlehem Walk at a neighboring parish while my mom watched Cora. They re-create and act out what Bethlehem would have been like when Jesus was born and you walk through all the different "scenes". It was the first time Tim or I had gone and we were really impressed. I can't imagine all the time and effort that went into putting it on!

On Christmas Eve we went over to my parent's house for pizza and got a cousin picture with the girls all in their pjs. The next morning we opened some gifts, went to mass, and then hosted brunch for some of my family. It made for a nice, leisurely late morning/ early afternoon (and the mimosas didn't hurt either). After short naps we headed back over to my parent's for family dinner and a gift exchange. My sister suggested having a cookie exchange for dessert this year and it was a fun idea. Haha, Cora and her cousin twin also loved the idea, as the table was in perfect reach for them and in an area where the adults often weren't.

I'm not going to lie- I always like opening presents but I LOVE holidays with lots of good food. :)

This year one of my very favorite things was that Cora kept saying "Smis-mas" for Christmas and "tangles" for candles. 

Have a very happy holiday tomorrow and cheers to 2019!

Dec 16, 2018

Christmas 2018 Gift List

Figuring out the girls' gifts for Christmas is something I really enjoy doing. Maybe there'll come a day when I won't say that, or when I will be solely shopping from lists they've composed, but for now it's fun to do!

Here's what we'll be giving them this year:

For Evie:

She's mentioned several times that she wishes she had a bathrobe, so we got her one of these. (Anyone else almost always pick from the cheapest options for a certain item?)

After outgrowing her previous two we got her another of these dresses. (Again with the cheapest option- hoping it's a hit!)

She's also been asking for a purple suitcase "to start packing for the beach" (which is in August...). I was happy to find a purple kid size one at a thrift store for $7!

This book

A magnifying glass with compass in the handle for St. Nick's day.

For Audrey:
Poor girl has been without a reading light for a while, so I bought this one at our local hardware store (cheaper than Amazon!). My mom originally bought one for Evie's birthday; I don't even think they're marketed as reading lights, but it is so great! It charges with a cord or by solar power, has a few settings, AND (best part) the "bulb" is silicone and can be removed. Suffice it to say, it holds up well to being tossed around.

A bathrobe just like Evie's because I did not want to tempt tears from being left out.

This was kind of a late idea, but our girls enjoy puzzles and I had a promo code for Shutterfly that made this free except for shipping, so I ordered a puzzle of a picture from our Hawaii trip.

This book.

These slippers for St. Nick's day.

And for her birthday just after Christmas:
A reading pillow (still need to find!)

A darling peg doll tooth fairy box from this shop.

She loves the baby Jesus doll from this shop, that is currently in my drawer waiting for Christmas day, so I was super excited to get her one of these Guardian Angel dolls. I love how each one made is one of a kind!

For Heidi:
She loves this series, so we ordered her two more.

I've heard so many great things about Magnatiles; the reviews of this other brand were all good too, so Heidi will be the first in our family to try them out.

This brush (super exciting ;)

She loves the photo book I made for Evie's birthday a few years ago, so I made one for her with a free Shutterfly credit.

These slippers for St. Nick's Day.

For Cora:

This book

And this Nativity scene. It came in three boxes, so at least she'll have as much to open!

For St. Nick's day we gave her more of these Nativity blocks.

For all the girls I bought Mille Bornes- we used to play this in French class on special occasions and I loved it! I also got a second-hand old school Lite Bright that I think I'll wrap up for them, BUT I just found out that they make them again ($15 on Amazon!) and it's not that big boxy "screen" either. Womp, womp.


This year my brain has been completely blank with ideas for Tim. I always have a difficult time shopping for him but this year takes the cake. So far I've gotten him a book he asked for (which was actually written by one of my high school English teachers!), a veggie basket for the grill, and possibly a gift card to a local brewery. I'm praying that some last minute inspiration will hit!

Solidarity with any other women struggling with gift ideas for men in their life!

Dec 12, 2018

A Bit of Seasonal Cheer

Just thought I'd share some of my favorite seasonal things of late:

I made this recipe for spiced nuts many, many times last year and am so happy that it's that time of year again! I think they're a good alternative if you're trying to cut back on holiday cookie consumption (not that I've been scarfing a bunch down or anything...), and they'd make a nice little gift as well. 

For a hot beverage I've been enjoying making this Mayan Mocha some afternoons. (I skip the chocolate extract and add Agave to sweeten.) It's pretty quick and simple to make especially if you have instant coffee on hand. 

I read on another blog about the book Nancy & Plum being a cute read aloud for December, and it's by the same author as the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books! We started it but unfortunately it was deemed too scary (promise it really wasn't), so maybe next year we'll try it again.

I always enjoy nail polish recommendations, as colors can look different in the bottle, and really like one I read about on another blog- Sally Hansen's Rebel Red. (Definitely cheaper at Walmart!) The author mentioned that it's a good color if you're looking for a red that's not super "Christmas-y" red. I agree!

Another one I've been wearing is Sally Hansen's Golden-I (again, much cheaper at Walmart).

That's all for now.

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Dec 2, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving break was such a nice little respite. Well, I had to study for and take an exam but after that it was good.:) It's always nice when you get a little breather you didn't quite realize you needed!

On Thanksgiving morning we went to mass and then headed over to my sister's house for donuts and hot cider, flag football, and a run (I just participated in the donuts). After coming down from our sugar comas at home we went to my parents house for dinner.  I made my usual- Bourbon Sweet Potato Puree and Cran-Apple Crostatas, and on the whole dinner was amazing, as was dessert!

On Friday we hit up a local Catholic store for some shopping. Haha, thankfully Black Friday craziness doesn't make an impact there, but they do have such great inventory that it was hard to hold back. We bought gifts for the newest grandbaby in the family who was baptized that Sunday!

Just before the baptism I asked one of my brothers to snap family photos for us for our Christmas card. Getting a group photo stresses me out! I would love it if we could magically get a candid photo of our family sometime throughout the year that didn't involve gathering everyone, making sure hair is brushed, and outfits have a modicum of decency/ cohesiveness. Anyway, it actually helped that it was Sunday, so the girls were already in nice outfits with their hair did and everyone fed. My brother graciously snapped a BUNCH of photos for us but when I went to check them was blurry because I HAD THE LENS SET ON MANUAL!!! And in several of them I could tell everyone was smiling at the camera, too. So frustrating! We took another hasty photo after the baptism but by then a someone was crying in every photo.

As Tim put it, "Sorry child that's getting thrown under the bus in this year's Christmas card." C'est la vie.

Anyway, have a blessed first week of Advent!

Nov 21, 2018

Life Lately {October - November}

We had a fun family pumpkin patch outing in October! The girls especially enjoyed the playground and cow train, and Cora was enamored with all the "so big, heavy" pumpkins. We never did get around to carving our pumpkin but we made some good memories. :)

Evie had another ER visit in October for breathing issues. She's had some good weeks but more recently we've been trying to keep on top of her symptoms- prayers appreciated!


On Halloween Heidi's pre-k class had Storybook Day and she dressed as Olivia. She was a cute little pig, if I do say so myself. :)

Later that day we went to my parents' for dinner and trick-or-treating with cousins. Evie dressed as a cook (YouTube to the rescue for her hat!), the dress was a lot big on her (my oversight) but Audrey went as Alice in Wonderland, Heidi went as Princess Anna(third year running!), and Cora refused each and every costume option, so subsequently went as a two-year-old. It was a lovely, mild night, and good to see neighbors.


On All Saints' Day we attended mass at the girls' school and then went to Evie's classroom for the 2nd grade Saint presentations.
Halloween through All Souls' Day is always such a special time of year!


After a hiatus since our beach trip, Cora once again began climbing out of her crib during nap time AND climbing over the gate we put in front of her door. After a few insane days of no-napping, Tim converted her crib into a toddler bed. That ameliorated the situation for a bit but some days she still rebels when I put her down for a nap. I ordered a monkey lock, which my sister told me about, and that has helped! When I need to use it she cries for some minutes and tries to open the door but eventually falls asleep in her bed.
Crazy toddler years!

One cute thing about her bed, though, is how proud she is of it. Whenever we're in sight of it she points to it and proudly says, "SEE?".

A few weeks ago Tim and I watched the Mr. Rogers documentary.(Side note- I fondly remember watching his show on "channel two six" before PM Kindergarten when I was little.) We both really liked it a lot; there was one remark I thought was very poignant- I can't quite recall the exact words but the interviewee said something like: people feel the need to categorize others into specific categories and when someone doesn't fit in one of those we become suspect of them. 

The movie relayed how poorly some people perceived him and his work, and how it affected him. It reminded me SO much of part of a documentary about Hollywood Directors and WWII Tim and I watched that involved Frank Capra. Apparently the initial negative reception of "It's a Wonderful Life" stayed with him until his death, and that breaks my heart!
I just wish I could hug them both, tell them how much they matter, and thank them for their work!

On that note- have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nov 8, 2018

A Moment in the Life

Just gonna lay this one out there...

Things you never want to hear your toddler say when they have a stinky diaper:

"Is it, dirty fingers?"

Nov 6, 2018

Let's Talk Christmas Books!

I think my Christmas love language is picture books. I love perusing Christmas book lists and pulling out ours- sometimes bit by bit, some years all at once- when Advent arrives. A few years ago I was a library requesting fiend and used up all the hold space I had for Christmas picture books (um, starting in October). Seriously, though, the whole of December is like Black Friday lines when it comes to certain library Christmas books.
Over the years we've added to our home collection- a handful from Amazon or as gifts, but most through thrift store finds and library book sales, little by little. Another place we've struck gold (usually in the "off" season) has been a large used book store in our area with a specific Holiday section in the kids' area.
I absolutely love Barbara Cooney's illustrations and I feel like you can't go wrong with books illustrated by her. Also, Tomie dePaolo has approximately 1,000 Christmas related books- I feel like his are great for gifts or a great place to start for a home collection.

So, here are our favorites:

Board books:

The Legend of the Candy Cane (abbreviated since it's in board book form)
The Nutcracker  (the BabyLit version also looks great)
The Nutcracker (These needle-felted illustrated books are too cute)
My First Christmas Carols

Picture Books:
 The Little Drummer Boy
Christmas in the Barn (thanks to Ellen who recommended the Barbara Cooney illustrated version a while back!)
The Cobweb Curtain (just heard about this last year via Stephanie's instagram and found it for sale at our library)
The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Versions of Books:
 The Jolly Christmas Postman (haha, I found this second hand and kudos to the previous family because it had all the little inserts!)


More Tomie dePaola:

The Clown of God (can't NOT tear up every time)
The Legend of Old Befana

Saints + Traditions:

Saint Nicholas (I also love the Demi version)
Candy Canes in Bethlehem (the author was a client of Tim's so she gave us a copy!)

Aaannd that's where we are Christmas book-wise (for now). :)

Oct 12, 2018

Life Lately | Sept & Oct

I was remiss in not posting about back to school! Evie and Audrey started in August, and Heidi started pre-k in early September.
Billy Madison Adam Sandler GIF - BillyMadison AdamSandler BackToSchool GIFs 
The girls are all enjoying their classes and we're (mostly!) in our groove for getting everyone out the door on time- although admittedly early mornings are not my forte.

At the end of September Heidi turned four! We had a favorite dinner of hers, celebrating with brownies and presents on the actual day, and she was able to bring in a treat to school (Costco Rice Krispy treats ftw). 
In the days leading up whenever we asked her what she wanted for her birthday she responded, "chocolate cake!". :) I love uncomplicated four.
That weekend we gathered with family for pizza and cake and celebrated our Four Girl some more.


A Goodwill opened this past week five minutes from our house! Suffice it to say I am *quite* excited to make regular visits. While the other girls are in school Cora has been my errands and thrifting buddy.
Going out with just one kiddo in tow I'm all:

 meanwhile Cora is:
Get Me Out Of Here GIF - ViolaDavis GetMeOutOfHere Exit GIFs

so we keep our store visits short and sweet. :)

Back in August Tim and I watched the Netflix version of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". Has anyone else watched it? It's been several years since I read the book and while I liked the casting in the movie I felt without the whole letter aspect like in the book, a good bit was missing from the dialogue.

I never thought I would say this (as I love drinks from coffee shop$), but I've found a good Pumpkin Spiced Latte recipe to make at home! I use this recipe but prefer it with 1 1/2 cups of milk and add a little agave to sweeten. 
Fall in a cup!

That's all for now- have a great weekend!

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