Seven Quick Takes:Friday, August 21

1. This has been a great month for meeting up with internet peoples. A couple weeks ago, Nell (who lives a few miles from us) hosted Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas and some other awesome friends Jacqui, Laura, Anna, Nancy, and more at her house for a ladies evening. I haven’t had that much fun hanging out with ladies in a long time. T and I stayed out past my bedtime, and even then I did not really want to leave. But responsibility and limited time to sleep at night finally called me home.

2. Tomorrow, sweet Nell is hosting people again. (She is very generous with her awesome house.) The Blessed is She Minnesota brunch is tomorrow morning! There are supposed to be over 50 ladies coming! We are going to be doing small group discussion, and apparently I get to be a leader…so, hopefully I can pull that one off. I have not had to be a small group leader since college, but I was just telling M that one of these days someone is going to discover that I used to lead all sorts of things (like in college) and make me do it again…I am very excited for the brunch, especially since I am bringing watermelon, which I don’t eat very much since G is allergic.

3. It would not be a summer quick takes without a discussion of the garden. I made my first roasted tomato sauce. Turning these: 

Into this:

It was delicious. And in case you were wondering. Three pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes makes about a three and a half cups of sauce.

4. I was so excited about this sauce that I impulse bought a 25 lb box of Roma tomatoes at the farmer’s market last Friday and turned it all into roasted tomato sauce. We have 27 cups of sauce for the winter in our freezer. And my advice to you is, make sure you have some ventilation besides the A/C running if you are going to run both gas ovens for 2.5 hours on a hot summer morning. Otherwise you might set off your carbon monoxide detectors…

5. Speaking of freezer, we finally got around to buying that deep freeze. You may remember my photo of the packed freezer from before T was born. This was our normal upper freezer above our refrigerator. And it was packed full of freezer meals.

As we ate the meals, I started adding fresh summer fruit, and with the decision to buy a 1/4 cow this Fall, we knew it was time to get a deep freeze. Plus, we just had a boy and one day he will be a teenager and eat lots and lots.

 Lots of frozen fruit, and still room for the cow! Hooray!

6. There is a legend on my father’s side about two of my aunts. First, I have to provide a bit of background. On my father’s side there is Lebanese ancestry and Irish and Scots ancestry (and a number of others), so of him and his 6 siblings, 3 of them ended up looking more Lebanese and the other 4 had a more Irish/Scots look. Well legend has it on one day when one of his sisters was sick another one went to get her work for her, and the teacher was in complete disbelief that they were actually sisters because their complexions and hair color were so radically different. Well, I think the same thing might happen to these two:

She has all the Greek and Lebanese, and he has all the Scots/Irish/English. Those eyes of his are so light, but I am not sure they will stay blue.

7. We are doing a three day school week starting Monday, but are also in the midst of three weekends in a row of visiting family. This weekend is my father’s sister and her husband. Next weekend is my sister, her husband, and her three girls plus one boy. Labor day weekend brings in my in-laws. This will make up for the lack of road trip this summer! And then it will be school full time until Christmas (school full time means 2 hours a day…)…

That’s it for this week! Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

This Season in Girls (for the last time)

I was going to write this post the day that T was born. I said to M the night before, if I am not in labor by naptime tomorrow, I am going to write my last “This Season in Girls.” My memories of the girls right before T was born are not as fresh now, so I will go through what I can remember and talk about them as big sisters.

My big six year old G. I have heard that seven is a super helpful age, and that ten is the best, but six is better and more capable than four or five for sure. You do things like unload everything at your level from the dishwasher, undiaper and dress your two year old sister, clear the table after meals, clean up the mess after play dough. While official school time is not your favorite, you love to learn by talking casually about subjects. You remember things that you hear. You are reading more and more without being asked, but don’t like to read out loud to your sisters where we can hear you. One day you will get the hang of your two-wheeler bike, and when you try without help, you succeed! We are discovering that you prefer to learn on your own. The baby is interesting to you sometimes, but mostly you want to play with your sisters. Your favorite things to to these days are play princess and fairy games with the play scarves, dance to the Sound of Music soundtrack, and look at books. Some days you want to be a mom when you grow up, but other days you tell us that you feel like you are supposed to be a nun.

4.5 year old L, you are the only one unfazed by a new baby in the house. The middle child is overlooked anyway, right? You have continued to sing to him the lullabies you would sing to my growing belly. You have your big sister G and your little sister F to keep you happy, and when they are busy, you happily get out paper, glue, and scissors and make dolls (though cleaning it all up is a different story). You probably have it in you to be a gymnast or dancer or perhaps a monkey. You will climb any and everything, but we would really prefer if you don’t dare your sister to walk across the top of the swing set or attempt it yourself in the style of Anne of Green Gables on the kitchen roof. You also love the Sound of Music soundtrack, and have been asking to have The Chronicles of Naria reread to you. You switch between wanting to be an artist and to join the Pink Sisters in St. Louis (because they get to wear pink EVERYDAY).

2.5 year old F, who is this baby that has supplanted you? The only real perk to it all is that Mom sits for a lot of the day and is available to read picture book upon picture book to you. You finally transitioned to sleeping in your sisters’ bedroom, but since your brother came you are having trouble falling asleep again. One day this will all be normal for you, I promise. Being the third girl with a little brother is actually a lot of fun (I know from experience!). You are growing and talking so much. If we are not specific in what we tell you, you get anxious. You don’t just want to be told to wait, you want to know when your waiting will end. You want to be called by the correct first name, not your sisters. And you have that two year old habit of contradicting. You are happy to play with your sisters when they include you in their games, but also want to follow Mom around. We are thankful your potty training has not been set back by the baby, but it is more urgent to help you on the potty than changing a diaper would have been, which makes things tricky sometimes. You are sweet with the baby when you pay attention to him, and like to walk around with your “baby” in your fist and buckle him into various baby seats. Your favorite game is “Go to Target, Go to Aldi, Go to Sam’s Club.” You will be more settled once our daily routine is reestablished… routine is your thing.

And now I need a new title for this style post for next time. 🙂

It’s a BOY!

In case you have not heard, the baby is here!

Labor began at 7am on Thursday morning, and our little T was born just before 4pm.
He weighed in at 10lbs 3oz, is 20 3/4 inches long, and has a rather large 15 inch head.  All my other babies came out easily after the head was through, T not so much. He has the biggest birthweight by almost 2 lbs!
We are doing great, just taking it easy, and sleeping as much as we are able. When I am more recovered, I will get to writing up the birth story. And while it may look like we barely made it to the hospital, since I am no wearing a gown, the truth is that we were there for nearly 3 hours before he came. I just can’t stand those gowns. (If you want to know, I tied the gown into a skirt around my hips, and wore my own top.)

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, March 13

1. I have been pregnant with and/or nursing my babies for just over 3 months shy of seven years.  Since my first was born six years ago, I have had a three month, four month, and am in the middle of a seven month gap of not nursing anyone. Well, mothers of young children will know that it is not really possible to get nights away from exclusively nursing babies, so when they are weaned and there is no other baby out of the womb, there is a window of opportunity. For what, you ask? For a SILENT RETREAT. I am departing this afternoon for 48 hours of prayer and reflection without my family. This is the first time since I have been married that I will be away from all the members of my family for even one night. Further, I have not been on a longer than three hour retreat since my last semester of college seven years ago. That being said, please pray for me this weekend, because I am not sure I can really handle uninterrupted, prayerful silence for more than about 20 minutes. Yeah…

2. Not only am I abandoning my family for a weekend, but I am doing it on their birthdays. M has to celebrate his birthday (and real Pi day 3.1415) without me. I am sure he will have a lovely time with the girls. And let us not forget about the Ides of March, and the change it brought in our lives… I will be back for dinner for G’s birthday. And being the awesome person that she is with amazing taste in food, she has chosen this pie for her cake:

Which means I can take on some good old fashioned third-trimester laziness, and just eat peanut butter, chocolate filled pie goodness. Also, pizza pie for dinner. Is it okay to honor Pi day on the Ides?

3. In other news, where did all the snow go? It has been so warm here, that we have been grilling. M had an early birthday/traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas dinner last Saturday. We splurged on shrimp (which I cannot even smell comfortably while pregnant), and M grilled it along with vegetables and threw it all on pasta Alfredo.

It is in the 30s, so why not grill? I was told that I will not have to cook dinner again until the Fall if I just keep a steady supply of charcoal and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on hand…

4. And here is my almost six year old looking like a reader. She says that she was “just looking at the pictures,” but it gave me a glimpse of a girl who might, like her parents, spend hours every day, curled up with a book. She has been doing really well with her reading lately, and I do not think this possibility is too far into the future.

5. If your mom is not big on doing crafts, you make your own:

G (6ish) and L (4) have been cutting out and gluing together surprisingly recognizable paper dolls, and other creatures. It is pretty fun to see them create. F (2) has been sucking on capped glue sticks while wearing socks on her hands. That is called being 2.

6. My basil seeds have sprouted, but only one has made leaves. I might have to do a redo with the other seeds. But since we started the plants so early, I do not mind:

7. Hello, third trimester! My earliest baby was born at 38 weeks… that is ten weeks away… yikes!

I think I finally have leveled out in size compared to week of pregnancy…

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

Nearly Everything My Two Year Old Said Last Wednesday

in the potty
in the potty
sit on bench
sit on bench

teething necklace
across the table
orange juice

I like my coat
I wear my coat
I no wear snow pants today

that’s my church book
my book
what is that?
what is that talking sound?

G is wearing star shirt
L is wearing polka dots

I walk
I walk
I a fish

I go potty
go potty

take off veil
get veil off
all done veil 

on this foot
do it again

peanut butter on a spoon
peanut butter
I got a cup

all done
all done
I flash potty

I no like butterfly hairband

no mommy
you do it

L has my hairband
my teething necklace
I want tea
orange juice
I no like my pretzels

light blinking
I’m in pew, too

I go potty
that’s a book
this book
shut door
uh oh
bear in bed
bear in the bath

all done
I on potty, L
shut door
wash my hands, mommy

pretzels on plate
dry my face
this is my plate
no no nooooooooo

I go potty again
go potty again
book again
shut door
sit on bath tub

I no like that book
fell on floor
mommy fix it

bunny in garden
drink book
all done

der dats a glass
here’s a glass
I go potty
I go potty

cloth napkin

no go potty
I go pee
all done

my bookie
where my book?
that’s not my book
my book
I need pencil
where’s my sharpener?

where’s my stroller?
it’s downstairs
no no
leave alone, G
pink party

I love JESUS

angels sing

dust room
my duster

be happy

I find my shovel
I need my bow
all done potty
where’s my cuppy go?
that’s not my cup

my belly hurts
my belly is moving

I have pink, too
I want chocolate cup again
peanut butter cup
peanut butter cup
L, I have peanut butter cup

Mine is kitty cat

G’s is dog

want to see, too
want to see
don’t fall down, G
peanut butter cup
no wipe me
saints go marching in

that’s my bracelet
that’s my bracelet
that’s my bracelet 

L knocked me down
kiss me
right there

I see
dert time
I want orange

Here daddy
brush hair
brush brushh

shall be my strength
pray for us
pray for us
pray for us

I’m a dog
doggy stay here

my shovel
shovel grass
shovel fork for grass
two roosters

two candles shining

This Season in Girls: Winter 2015

 I realize that I should do these more often, but I guess that is part of the season of life. I also am neglecting to photograph my children. I should get the camera out once a week, probably, even if we are just at home.

My only photo of all three since the New Year… L, G, and F

G: You are turning six next month, and are thrilled to tell everyone about the Ides of March. You are more and more capable everyday and can even put a pair of tights on alone (trust me, this is an impressive feat). You are finally happy to do reading with me now that we have finished our 100 “EASY” lessons, and have moved on to library readers. We finished a rag doll together that we made with our Little Flowers group, and I think that you really like having a doll that you made. You ask probing questions, like “What happens to someone’s guardian angel who goes to Hell?” and what song lyrics mean. You try so hard to be helpful, even if your impatience to play instead sometimes gets the best of you. I felt like a real grown up when you lost your first tooth, and you have been waiting so patiently for the current loose one to fall out. You are growing into a sweet and intelligent girl, and I look forward to seeing you grow more!

L: Let’s just say that four years of age is interesting.
Mood swings seem to be a key part of it, but generally you are happy and playing nicely. You and G like to play Legos in your room for long stretches of time (without your little sister), but then other times you and F play happily together doing who knows what while G and I work on school. I think that you are content to be the middle child, taking joy in and loving both of your sisters. You are by far the most interested in the new baby, happy to talk to my belly and sing little songs. Pre-school “work” is not your thing these days, but you are full of imaginative pre-school play. You opted to write out all of your valentines rather than trace letters like you used to. You ask to wear a bun most days and look very cute in it. You would rather not take out toys at all then have to clean them up at the end of the day.

F: Oh, age two. Your potty training seems to have taken, though accidents are not a thing of the past. So, we use two diapers a day (nap and bedtime), and that is about it. You love your baby dolls these days and just about anything you can push around in your stroller as you fluctuate between screaming to be with me and playing happily without me. You surprise me with such grown up sounding phrases like, “Oh, I see!” And strongly dislike when we cannot understand what you are trying to say. You still love your crib and have not attempted to get out of it during nap time or bedtime, which means the transition to the toddler bed will wait. You love listening to music and request your favorite songs whenever you think of it, and then you sing along. You draw a lot of phrases from lyrics like when you said that G was wearing her “stars in the sky” shirt. It has been nice to discover that a lot of two year old traits are actually just “two year old things” and not “being supplanted by the new baby things.” I wonder what the new baby things will be…

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, January 16

I finally found a use for the hooks between those partitions…

 1. Happy Season After Epiphany! We like to celebrate Christmas until Candlemas (February 2) in our home, so I spent the 3 days after our three weeks of out of town visiting with family unpacking our suitcases and getting up the last of our decorations. This meant putting Christmasy things on the front door wreath, changing the Advent candles for red ones, and hanging the Christmas cards up for display. It just feels more right to me to have the tree up for all of January rather than in the middle of Advent. I have been playing the Christmas music still as well. Being raised an Advent purist, it is nice to listen to Christmas music well after Christmas day without guilt!

2. We started the “spring” semester at the Awesome School this week. This meant that we attempted some of our normal school things everyday, but did not cry if we only got to one or two subjects. I feel pretty accomplished considering that G was recovering from a touch of the flu she had on Saturday. L (4) has decided that she wants to start Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and my goodness, there is huge difference between my children and how easy they are to teach…

3. I am hoping that we stay healthy, since we have not really seen anybody since we got back to town. It will be nice to get back into the routine of play dates, mom’s group at church, and our home school co-op. So far G is the only one who had any symptoms of the flu and it has been almost a week since she got sick. Maybe it helped that she quarantined herself in her room for three days with the Chronicles of Narnia radio plays.

4. We are starting potty training on Monday with F (26 months). She has been interested for months. Since we told her that we are going to start training her on Monday, she is obsessed with the bathroom and talks fairly continually about it whenever anyone uses it. It would be nice to have diapers used only during nap and bedtime… plus our toddler size prefolds are pretty useless at this point. They are more like rags than diapers.

5. I made an attempt at movie reviewing on Truth and Charity this week. M and I went to Exodus: Gods and Kings on our date last week in Michigan, and while we had lots of commentary on the movie, I limited myself to one theme in my review.

6. Gee, it is nice to be in the rhythm of writing again. Vacation always takes from my writing time which is generally nap time or in the evenings. I was pretty wiped out every afternoon, which I attributed to being pregnant, but also may have been from a lingering cough/sinus infection which I finally got treatment for this week. I hope to be more on the blog than I have been and maybe on some other sites soon.

7. In your charity, please remember in your prayers our elderly next door neighbor who is on hospice and dying of cancer. He does not have much time left. Please also pray for his wife and children. While we have only lived here a year and a half, they have been very helpful and kind neighbors.

Linking up with the lovely new host of Seven Quick Takes, Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

A Cookie Kind of Day

The kids have a cold over here, and as a result they have all been a little bit more cranky and screamy than normal. It has been pretty rough on all of us. I know it is just a cold. I do wish we could just have the sick people lay in bed for the duration like they did back in the day, but that does not normally work with little kids and why don’t we do that anymore?

Anyway, when I managed to get my pregnant self out of bed this morning to see M off to his last day at work for the semester, tried to sneak in coffee and breakfast before the kids woke up, and failed at that, I decided it was time to sit on the couch and look at the lit Christmas tree in the dark of the morning. So, G, L, and I put on some Nat King Cole, snuggled together and did just that. F somehow slept through it, so, she missed out.

Then I decided to do minimal school: G read us her reader from the library (Fred and Ted Go Camping), and then we had breakfast, and spent the rest of the morning making Christmas cookies.

Before cookie girls.

I don’t know if you have ever made cookies with a 5, 4, and 2 year old all wanting to help, but it is certainly interesting and a test of patience. This is actually an area I could do better as a mom. I would much rather do it all myself than have to guide children through “helping” me. I prefer not to do the activities that take a lot of time or make a huge mess, but I also realize that those are the kind of activities that they love. They are the ones that make me grow in patience, and they are the kind of ones that the kids will remember.

They will remember that I let them use crazy amounts of sprinkles on their Christmas cookies, even if I sent them out of the kitchen so I could sweep.

G will remember that I let her stand at the stove and melt chocolate in the double boiler, and L will remember that I let me form her own peanut buttery filling balls all by herself.

That is the recycling bin, not the trash can, I promise.

I write about these things because it reminds me that I need to do this more. Sometimes we just need to skip the mom’s group at church, stay home with our colds, and make cookies, no matter how big the mess. And the best part? When we were done making the cookies, the children played happily until lunchtime, without fighting, and giggled the whole way through lunch over silly things little girls say and think.

Bonus Baby Bump picture (for my sister who asked):

16 weeks along.

I think I must be growing.

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: