Seven Quick Takes: Cake, Planners, and Flowers

I am linking up, yet again, with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes.

1. We celebrated the Nativity of Our Lady yesterday, and the girls wanted me to make all of ours favorite cake. It was inspired by the peanut-butter cup cream pie I always order for my birthday. It is chocolate cake, frosted in chocolate with peanut butter frosting decorations and chopped Reese’s cups on top and on the side, and the middle layer consists of a thick layer of peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting, and more chopped peanut butter cups. It is sooooo good. We figured if Our Lady was having cake with us for her birthday, this is the one she would want.

2. The girls devised a new way to elect a president while I was working on the cake.

The girls:
“We should have whoever can make the best cake be the next president!”
“Yeah, that would be awesome!”
“Mom makes the best cakes.”
“Mom, do you want to be the next president?”

Me:
“Not really, but I bet I can make a better cake then the people running…”

It might be time for the 28th amendment, but I hope someone else can make a better cake than I do.

3. I featured our house growing morning glories a month or so ago, but we also planted them all along the fence adjacent to the driveway. They are pretty stunning these days.

4. We also have some blue ones on the house, which are our particular favorite.

5. We sent the professor off to his first day of school this semester, and because we had already started school a month ago, I did not mind as much the fussing of a certain toddler-baby. He had been so cheerful all of August that I knew it was just him feeling unwell. The school week went fine after that, and we are peacefully anticipating the weekend!

6. Blessed is She made a liturgical planner for the school year, and I have been using it and loving it. It makes my life feel so much more ordered.

For some reason it is helping to have my day written down, instead of scheduled in my head. It is not that I am doing things any differently than I was before; I am just writing it in the planner. It is absolutely lovely as well, with a full two page calendar every month, notes for planning things at the beginning of each week, and hourly slots for each day.

So, so, nice. They are taking preorders right now for one for the 2017 Calendar year. Don’t miss out if you are interested!

My friend Anna is doing a giveaway of the 2017 one. So, you could take your chances over there.

7. Speaking of Anna, and our friend Jacqui, all of us were featured together in an article in The Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesan newspaper for the Twin Cities. Check it out, mom-bloggers are so interesting… 😉

Seven Quick Takes, Friday Oct, 2–Baby (not)Sleep(ing) Edition

1. In honor of seven years of the seven quick takes link up, I am spending naptime writing them. Kelly, the current quick take host, is asking a question each week in October to be answered each week. I like this a lot, because it is like a free quick take that I do not have to think up, and thinking has not been my strength this week because I have not really been sleeping much.

This week’s question: When did you post your first Seven Quick Takes?

Answer: Friday, August 24, 2012. But I did not link up that time…my first link up was October 26.

2. So, I have been thinking about blogs and blogging and the wide variety of blogs that there are and stating the obvious. But I realized something important for me about my blog. I love to read blogs that give 7 helpful tips or ways to do such and such in your life, especially from other Catholic bloggers, but my blog is more for me. I am happy to share ideas, but my primary reason for writing is to do something I enjoy. So, welcome to my blog where I talk about things in my life… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

3. I wanted to post it on Facebook when it happened,
but I figured if I did all the kids would wake up. So, will post it now:

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that I, Susanna Spencer, put ALL FOUR KIDS to bed BY MYSELF not one night but TWO NIGHTS in a row.

First night, we did a movie night and stayed up for the Super Blood Moon, and I got T to bed by 8:15pm, F to bed by 8:45, T resettled by 9:15, and then L, G, and I looked at the moon and I put them to bed.

Second night, all the bigger kids to bed by 7:45pm, T to bed by 8:30 (meaning I left the room then).

4. On top of that T has been pushing for an earlier bedtime for a few weeks now. Wednesday night he got really cranky at 6:30 pm. And we were like, really, you want to go to bed already? I was hesitant to do it so early. So, instead I put him in the stroller and let his sister push him around the backyard part of the driveway. And by 7, he was sound asleep. And we were like, um, let’s just put him in the room and see what happens. So, he slept until 7:45pm, at which time, I went in, put him in an overnight diaper, and spent 50 minutes getting him back to sleep. But he stayed asleep until midnightish at which time we got him back to sleep, soooo… Thursday he was ready to go to sleep by 7pm, and I got him down by 7:40pm, but he had to be resettled 10 minutes later by M after which he slept 4 hours straight… It was really strange to have NO KIDS AWAKE from 8pm on…

5. I think I am going to name this “baby sleep edition”
, because, that is all I am talking about. T is my first baby who will not nurse right back to sleep everytime. In fact, a lot of the times he wakes, I am not convinced that he actually wants to nurse. Let me backtrack a minute. Until last week, most nights he would sleep nice long stretches of 4-5 hours and wake up once, nurse back down immediately. But on nights he does not sleep 4-5 hour stretches, like, wakes every 1-2 hours, he won’t nurse back down. So, it turns into M rocking and bouncing and soothing him back to sleep.

The last week of nights has been the more frequent wake ups. I blame stomach upsetting antibiotics, two teeth still not coming in, and a lingering cold with congestion. This means we are getting even less sleep than usual. So, now that he is almost 4 months, seems inclined to an earlier bedtime, I am going to sleep train. I am so ready for this. Pray for us. Sleep training here is along the lines of the No Cry Sleep Solution and if that does not work we’ll step it up.

6. Are we the only parents who measure how settled a baby is in Hail Marys?
When M resettles T we speak in terms of decades of the rosary. “How many decades did you bounce him for?” “I bounced him a whole decade, and then laid him down and patted him a whole decade. He was still the whole time.” Or yesterday I told my mom, “I patted him for three Hail Marys and he stayed stopped fussing and went right back to sleep.” It is not just a time measure, it is a patience builder, and a prayer that the baby will stay asleep.

7. Finally, check out this carrot we grew. It was supposed to be all white, but half of it grew above ground level and ended up green:

She would not get in the photo below due to a tantrum…

http://thisaintthelyceum.org/sqt-link-toberfest/

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

I Miss Myself: Why I Need to Write

We started first grade two weeks ago, G and I. We are doing it together. Me the teacher; she the student. Gone are the leisurely mornings of kindergarten where we dabbled in letters, and reading, and numbers. Now are the days of making sure we get it all done.

In my perfect little schedule, we fit it into a two hour window. The baby takes his nap. The other two do a bit of coloring, a bit of letters, and play nicely besides.

But in reality, some days it is less than two hours. She is interested in her work and does it quickly. Other days she is Anne of Green Gables, with her head in the clouds, preferring her books to school which she can grasp so easily but prefers not to do. And school takes FOREVER.

I try to rush her, with my to-do list in my head. I get annoyed at the baby for not napping, even though he is happy on his play mat. I snap at the other two for playing too loudly and for G for paying more attention to their game than her work.

I complain to my husband, and he reminds me that this is why we are home schooling, so the kids can take the time the need or go as quickly as they wish. And I realize that this schooling is again a loss of myself and my desires.

Every new stage, every new baby has stripped me of time to do what I want, but I also have realized that I do need to do the things that I love. I need to things for myself in the cracks of time I have.

I am working on making time for what I love so that I am a fulfilled person. Motherhood is about losing myself, but it is also about being who I am meant to be, it is about being my full self. My motherhood is part of my vocation, but so is my writing. When I write, I am doing something that I am called to do. 
But the problem is, I don’t always take time to write. Before T was born I had a set writing time: afternoon quiet times when M worked on campus. Days he works at home I exercise during quiet time.  Since T was born, I have not reestablished my writing habit very well. I am not taking the time I need for writing.

I am finding the time now. I am nursing T to sleep, the girls are having “recess”, and one handed iPad blogging it is. My plan is to write everyday while nursing. So maybe I will be rambling half the time, maybe I will just tell you about my day. But I think the writing time as opposed to the thousandth daily perusal of my Facebook feed and Instagram feed will make me happier. 
It will make me more me. If the daily grind of homeschooling a first grader while three younger children make a ruckus in the background is really right for our family, then giving myself the writing outlet is what I need. 
And if my writing does not show up here, that means that I am writing elsewhere and will let you know.

Hopefully the last bump shot…and other thoughts

We made it to May 31, and this baby still is not ready to be born. With the due date only 2 days away, I might actually make it to the due date this time. I have not done that since G was 8 days late six years ago!

It looks like I am all set to share my birthday month with this newest little Spencer (but definitely not birthday, since we are over three weeks from my birthday). I suppose we have a few hours left for this baby to come in May, but that would be a quick labor for me… My shortest is 12 hours.

Will this be my last Sunday in this dress?

I asked M to take a photo of me before I changed into “play” clothes for our Sunday morning romp in the park. It is nice to have the whole morning for the family after 7:30 am Mass.

And then I couldn’t resist a few pictures of the kids before they changed as well.

Finally, in case you missed them, I wrote for both ChurchPOP and Blessed is She this weekend.

5 Tips for Praying at Mass While Taking Care of a Toddler

For Trinity Sunday: Participating in the Life of the Trinity

The toddlers at Mass post reminds me of L on Easter two years ago…

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, May 1

1. I have really been off the blogging train these days, except for random updates about traveling. But I have some quick takes today, and I did have a devotion on Blessed is She last Friday (which I failed to share online because last Friday was packed with things to do). I also have been working on the next Vatican Film List article for ChurchPOP, so that should be coming soon. I hope no one has missed me too much, or maybe you have missed my blogging a lot. If I get my nesting done by 37 weeks pregnant and don’t have the baby until the due date, you might hear a lot from me on the blog…

2. Speaking of nesting, can you say freezer meals?

I got 15 in the freezer last week, and have four in the fridge ready to freeze. Last week was my chicken week, and this next week will be beef. They are all stacked in the front of the freezer to stay flat, but I have plenty of room to rearrange and move them to the back.

3. Other nesting feats include: purchasing camisoles to do this with, ordering new diaper paraphernalia and other baby items that need to be replaced, getting drawers at Ikea to free up the changing table baskets for baby clothes (a potty trained two year old does not really need a changing table anymore), final seasonal and size up sorting for the children’s clothes, washing winter coats and gloves, and realizing that this bump of mine would be so much nicer with the baby on the outside.

The crabapple is budding.

4. It really is Spring in Minnesota. I am banking on having had the last frost as my sugar snap pea plants are already two inches tall and would not tolerate a frost very well. We covered the outside seedlings a few nights last week, but this week has been low 40s with the highs near 70. I am really enjoying gardening again this year, though I wish that I could do weeding without bending over. In other garden news, I repotted my 3-4 inch tall tomato plants and I am not sure they all survived the transfer.

I have been accused of growing an indoor garden. And yes, we grew butterflies as well.

Some seem to be reviving their leaves, but they looked so much better before I repotted them.

5. I am always surprised when plants grow the way they are supposed to. I had no experience with gardening before we bought this house two years ago, so all of it is so new. I have plans for growing flowers this year, and my tulips that I planted last Autumn came up beautifully.

I did the weeding this week as well, and I plan to put in some annuals and mulch in the next couple of weeks when the tulips are finished blooming. Flowers make a yard so cheery.

6. In case you were wondering, low 50s and cloudy is the perfect weather in which to go barefoot. 

Also, to paint yourselves in mud, but I took no pictures of that. These girls are turning into real Minnesotans I think.

7. So, that is about it for me this week. I have been extremely practical, but in case you are worried that I am doing too much, be assured that I have been taking some time to stare blankly at what the internet has to offer and am reading another Dostoyevsky novel, The Idiot. I am finding it easier to read than Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov, but M promises me that it will get heavier.

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

http://thisaintthelyceum.org/sainthoodcrowdsourcing/

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 27

1. Do you ever feel like your child does not really have a birthday unless you tell the whole internet world? G turned six nearly two weeks ago, and I am finally sharing her birthday cake photo with you. It is not even a real birthday cake. It is a peanut-butter-chocolate-creamy-delicious pie that we bought from a family restaurant, because I was on my retreat until 5:35 PM the day of her birthday. But don’t worry, she had a wonderful birthday week complete with presents, her grandparents visiting, planning a pink party, and having seven little girls over for a pink cupcake and pink lemonade party. So, really it was a great birthday for a sixth year old.

 
2. Does my description of my week after my retreat give me a valid reason for not blogging for two weeks? I am going to say yes. And I promise that I have been writing, just not for the blog. I was doing things like getting my devotions for Blessed is She finished and working on a project reviewing some films (which is coming soon and should be great!). At any rate, life has been busy and being in the third trimester means that it takes more effort to think clearly.

3.When my parents came for the birthday girl they also brought me my dried bouquet from my wedding, which my long suffering sister has had in her bedroom (the one we shared) for nearly seven years. I am thinking that I should really spray it with something to preserve it better. The mantilla/scarf is on from Segovia, Spain where my friend C and I were coerced by street merchants into purchasing one each and the from whom the rest of our group escaped from down a cliff side. I have had it stored away for years, but it seemed like an appropriate item to display with the bouquet.

4. My Christmas gift from M arrived just in time for the Annunciation. It is the original memoir of Laura Ingalls Wilder written previous to her publication of the children’s novels. The reason it cams so late is that the small publishing house that produced it has had to do several printings to keep up with the demand. It is heavily annotated (I am only to her life at age 4), and it is interesting to see the historical facts along side what she fictionalized for the sake of make good novels. Also, it is a beautiful, very nice book, and very large as the cover is about 10×10 inches. It will hopefully provide a nice diversion for a month or so as we wait and prepare for baby.

5. Look, it snowed again. I believe the label for this is “spring snow.” I knew that highs in the 60s were too good to be true for mid-March in Minnesota. I told the kids that it would snow again. They stopped believing me, and then along came an Alberta Clipper on Sunday night with 3 inches of snow. The children were not entirely happy about it. They refused to play in it, except to search the yard for a rock for a project we made on Monday. However, it is still getting above freezing everyday, so I will take that.


6. On Monday, we made a Calvary and tomb centerpiece, and I really hope that the grass seed (which has been sitting in the garage for a year) will germinate and give us some pretty, green grass by Easter. Otherwise, we are going to have to get fresh grass seed for next year and try again then… The large rock to the right is blocking the entrance to the tomb.

All of the rooms at the retreat center were named after different titles of Our Lady. This was mine… yep… awesome.

7. The last quick takes I wrote were right before a 48 hour silent retreat I took run by the priests of Miles Christi based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It was extremely intense, but also worth it. I highly recommend taking a retreat if you can with them (you can see where they offer them at this link). While they think it would be a good idea to go annually, I am thinking that it is going to have to be a “whenever the baby is weaned” sort of thing for me. And if you cannot afford it, put ten dollars in a jar every month for two years (or 2.50 a week) and then take the plunge. Seriously, guys and gals, it is worth it.

As always, I am linking up with Kelly who hosts Seven Quick Takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

http://thisaintthelyceum.org/sqt-thanks-and-cake-on-friday/

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, December 12

1. This is my first time linking up with the new hostess of the Seven Quick Takes, Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Last week quick takes did not happen, but I was on writing and publishing overload. I posted most things to my blog Facebook page, but in case you missed them, I will go ahead and link things here.

At Church POP:
10 Reasons Some Women are Wearing Veils in Church Again
12 Secular Christmas Songs that are Actually About Advent
The 20 Best Religious Advent Songs

At Crisis:
Popularity of the Latin Liturgy is Not Unfortunate

2. The reason I have not been writing this week is largely due to Jane Austen. I am using the pregnancy excuse to read all afternoon while the kids rest…

I always come back to Jane Austen and St. Francis de Sales. Pure insight into humanity.

3. I can’t believe we did this, and I promise I am not an Advent sell out. My only defense is that it was St. Nicholas day, a party at M’s work, and the kids wanted to see the “man dressed like St. Nicholas.”

4. Someone turned four two weeks ago.

L had the time of her life at the crazy, bounce house filled, Christmas party last weekend. She may have also had a major emotional crash later that day… She also had a nice birthday after Thanksgiving with breakfast with Daddy, the science museum, and grandparents and an aunt visiting.

5. Here is a math problem for you: What do you get when you mix together 42 packets of Kool-Aid and 15 white silk scarves?

15 colorful play scarves! And if you want to know how I did this: I bought the scarves here, and used this and this tutorial. I managed to make them for 1/3 the cost of buying pre dyed play scarves. It took about 3 hours to do the whole thing: two evenings of dying and one of ironing.

6. Today is M’s last day of classes for the semester, and finals are next week. While this means a lot of grading, it also means that his 6 week winter break has almost arrived! We will do the normal tour of the Midwest to see family, a lot of staying at home, home schooling, and M will do research, writing, and class prep.

7. Oh, Jane Austen is calling my name, do I have anything else to say?
Only that we have discovered a new to-us band. Gungor. We like their album Ghosts Upon the Earth the best and only a few songs from the other albums. This has been my favorite lately:

Baseball and Writing

It dawned on me yesterday, as I reflected on the Cardinals being tied 1-1 with the Dodgers in the NLDS that, while I loved writing beforehand, when I read the daily column of the sports columnist Bernie Mikalsz in high school, I first had the desire to become a sports journalist. The practicability of doing this was definitely an issue for me since I knew it would involve mush travel and I was hoping then to have a family. Further, I was not really interested in writing about sports beyond baseball.

That dream was not meant to be, but it does not take away from the effect that Mikalsz’s writing has had on me. It is articles like the one he wrote in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning that increase my love of baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals:

“This is what the Cardinals take pride in. No matter how many times the power goes out, and this erratic offense crashes, the relentlessly upbeat manager and his bullheaded players still maintain hope. They keep yapping about stringing together quality at-bats and sticking with the process until success eventually clicks in. Game 1 was only the latest example.
“The guys stuck with it,” manager Mike Matheny said. “They believed in themselves, and each other. And even up until that seventh inning, you could still feel that guys were fighting.”
And on Friday night, the result was a berserk uprising that no one outside of the St. Louis dugout saw coming.
By the seventh inning the sun was fading, and the sky turned into an orange-pink canopy. With darkness on the edge of town, the Cardinals began lining base hits all over the yard, putting divots in the immaculate grass at Dodger Stadium, and trying to put a few more dents in Kershaw’s postseason rep. This was almost surreal.”

I mean, how could you not love the Cardinals or baseball when you read writing like that? Well, I suppose it is not the same for everyone. Mikalsz is clearly writing from his love of the team and sport, and has been doing so for years. He also freely criticizes the team and the managerial decisions when needed, which seems to be a couple of times a week.

I think a lot of my style comes from his style, but maybe that is just my imagining?

And if you have made it this far in my little Ode to Mikalsz, I definitely credit him as part of my inspiration in my latest reprint on Church POP, The Beautiful Liturgy of Baseball.

As for this week, I am going to listen on edge to the next two games of the NLDS. My traditionalism also permeates my baseball fandom. I much prefer the radio play by play to the televised game. I think it is a more beautiful art form to describe every detail of the game to the waiting imaginations than to comment on the outfit of whatever fan the camera man has picked out. Seriously, what a difference.  One thing that helps me stand true to these values is the lack of television in my house.

Anyway that is enough about baseball.

Here is a photo I once took of the Old Busch Stadium from the top of the Arch.

Interview at Whole Parenting Family!

Welcome to any new readers visiting from Whole Parenting Family! Please take a look around and subscribe by email, in your RSS feeds, or “like” my blog on Facebook if you like what you see!
—————
My friend Nell, who goes to St. Agnes with me and blogs at Whole Parenting Family, sweetly asked me a couple of weeks ago me to allow her to feature my blog on her blog as a blog of faith with two other mom bloggers. (How many times can one fit ‘blog’ in one sentence?)

The interview questions and my answers are up on her blog today! It was a neat to think about why I blog and look back at the beginning of the blog and see how it has evolved. So, check out the interview and check out the other featured blogs!

Have a lovely day!