Friday, March 13, 2015

Keeping it Quick and Random (please don't forget about me!)

Hi!  It's been a while!  It's not that I've been taking a break from blogging, it's just that I haven't been doing it so much lately.  So.... I guess that's a break?  Well, it's not an official "I'm taking a blogging break and I will announce it to the world in this blog post" break, but more of a "I have a lot of responsibilities that have been neglected lately  because I'm at the computer too much."  And I also started to notice this unfortunate trend - if I'm blogging during the kids' afternoon rest time and I'm not done by the time they get up, I'm snippy and irritated for the rest of the afternoon.  And who wants that??  And I also noticed that if I blog less, I get to read and crochet more... but not at the same time (I think that must be what Heaven is like - reading and crocheting at the same time.)  

Anyway... I'm just here for a few quick quips, mutterings, and musings so that you don't forget about me!

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Clare has started calling James "Lil BooBoo." 
Where did that come from????
That's the absolute last nickname I would ever give a child of mine.
But that's what she calls him.  It started out as a high pitched cutesy thing: she'd scrunch up her face and stick it into his face and say, "Hi there Lil BooBoo!  Hi there!" while mauling hugging him.  But now, it's just a normal part of her life and conversation.  She'll come into a room and very matter of factly address me in a perfectly normal tone of voice like there's nothing bizarre about what she's saying at all: "Mom, is Lil BooBoo still in bed?"  No cutesy, high pitched voice.  Just a brother who is now referred to by one of the most ridiculous nicknames ever.







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Lent.

It's going.  It's half way over.  

It was one of my goals this year to have the kids and I make our new Stations of the Cross before Lent started.  Sadly, that didn't happen.  I bought frames, and hopefully they'll be up this weekend so that we can squeeze in a few family Stations during the season.

Other Lenten things are going well.  The kids gave up chocolate chips in their trail mix (usually a bi-weekly morning snack) and the whole family gave up boxed cereal.  Even though we don't eat that much boxed cereal to begin with, it's really been a sacrifice for some of the kids (especially when they witness James obliviously consuming his Cheerios, because he's exempt :) )  It's been hard on Russ who would live off of raisin bran if I let him, and it's been a little tricky on me because I've had to be on top of the bulk oatmeal buying, granola making, and remembering to get an occasional pan of baked oatmeal in the oven.  But I think Easter week will be especially fun and tasty for the kids - Russ and I decided to celebrate Easter with extra special cereal the kids love, like Puffins and Kix!!!
Nothing says "He is Risen!" like overpriced packaged breakfast grains :)

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Binge watching Gran Hotel on Netflix has made me appreciate the efficacy of foreign language immersion programs.  I'm only a few episodes into Season 2 and I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility to think that I might burst out in Spanish at any given moment.  It's in my head and I can't get it out... eventually it will all come spilling out of my mouth and I will have officially learned another language via a media program that was not Rosetta Stone.  Granted, I may only be able to say things like, "The clean linens have been pressed and stacked," and "I'll take my tea in bed this afternoon," and "I know you don't love him," and "I just have to find one more clue and then I promise I'll go," and "it was the butler in the dining room with the candlestick" but you can't be too picky with these free language programs, you know ;)

I have so much more to say about Gran Hotel, but I'll spare you... for now...!





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My birthday was last week!  On days when I can remember it (or there's a calculator nearby) I'm 36!

We had lots of lovely family time to celebrate.  Russ offered to make a cake for me (as he has done a few other times) but when I mentioned that I wanted something very decadent involving chocolate and hazelnut, he wisely admitted I should probably make my own cake.  I followed this recipe to a T and ended up with a delicious dessert - every bit as decadent and chocolate-y and hazelnut-y as I had hoped for :)

Pinterest came through for me again.




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The snow is melting!  The warm weather and daylight savings time have given the kids the opportunity to play outside after dinner this past week!  That makes it feel like summer practically!

One evening they built a pretty cool sled run down our back deck...




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Not much else to write about, other than to assure you (and myself!) that I haven't given up here.  I'm just using this little down time on the blog to read to my kids, pray, do dishes, maybe start to make some Easter decorations, clean out my craft/sewing room, work on a few big crochet projects, and bake chocolate cakes from scratch :)
When I'm ready for some down time from all that, I'll be back to blogging!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Classics, I *heart* Maestro, and a New Kind of Book Basket (WWRW)

It's my first time linking up with Jessica at Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday (too bad we're not reading anything a little more riveting right now, huh?  I really know how to jump into things with not-a-bang...)  But I've always enjoyed being nosy and seeing what other people are reading and getting recommendations and adding to my inter-library loan request list which ensures that my revolving door relationship with the public library will go on ad infinitum.  So here's what we've been reading...

With the kids, I've been reading nothing that you haven't heard of before....



The girls and I are happily making our way through Little House in the Big Woods.  Last night, while eating popcorn in front of a cozy fire, we finished the maple-sugar making chapters (how quaint!  We'll be heading out to the local maple sugar shacks in the next few weeks, ourselves!  And someday when we live in the country we will attempt it ourselves!) .   We were even living some of the frontier experience as we read because our living room ceiling is leaking (darn you weeks and weeks of snow accumulation that's finally melting off of our roof and into our home...) so the drip, drip, dripping, made it feel like we were at least living in some sort of prairie sod house, if not the log cabin near Pepin.  



The boys and I finally finished The Horse and His Boy after almost nine months of slogging through it.  I hate to say it, because it is C. S. Lewis after all, but we practically had to drag ourselves through The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy.  I don't know... maybe did Clive go through a creative slump or something there??  Or maybe we're too unrefined to get the nuanced threads of genius in those two books??  I'm happy to say that we all seem to be enjoying The Magician's Nephew  more than the previous books.  It looks like we'll finish the series this year after all!  



Aaron is reading.  Let me repeat that...  Aaron is reading!!!!   For pleasure, on his own, no prompting from Mom, not for lessons.  He thinks is cool that he gets to stay up late in bed with a finger light on his thumb.  And I am spinning cartwheels in my head because it's finally happened!  As moms the world over know, it's hard finding books for boys at this stage - we're past our beloved Frog and Toad  but not quite ready for The Hardy Boys.  Your suggestions are welcome.  He's done plenty of the usual suspects - Boxcar Children, Magic Tree House, Encyclopedia Brown, My America books, the "Who Was...?" in American history series, and some illustrated classics.  He's currently working through the Tomie DePaola 26 Fairmount Avenue books.




A couple weeks ago we were on "Winter Break."  Instead of all the regular reading, writing and math, we read Betsy Maestro's Liberty or Death: The American Revolution: 1763-1783  for fun!  The boys and I (and even Ruth, sometimes) are big time Maestro fans!  Over the summer we had read her books on the discovery of the Americas, colonial America, and the French and Indian War.  Her picture books are perfect, perfect for teaching early American history in a comprehensive, interesting, and memorable way.  The artwork by her husband, Gulio, is just as wonderful - detailed, engaging, and lovely.  I can't recommend the books in their American Story series enough.  However, we've also enjoyed many of her books that aren't specifically part of this series, most notably, The Story of Money and The Story of Clocks and Calendars


I'm reading...  um, not much.   I recently got a few things out of the library for myself, but it's really hard to watch Netflix and read at the same time, and it's even harder to crochet and read at the same time.  So my books usually end up being due back before I have a chance to crack the cover.  "Required" reading for a woman's group I participate in has been Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, by Father Michael Gaitley.  It's good.  It's a retreat though, so... not riveting ;)  


Finally, I set up a new kind of book basket in our living room.  Themed books baskets are an occasional thing around here, but this one is pretty random.  I recently cleaned up and cleared out all the picture book bookshelves in the house and pulled out all the books we've never read.  They're mostly books that I picked up at library sales and put on the shelves and for some reason, no one ever pulled them off.  So they're all centrally located now and we've had some really fun evenings where the rule is "new books only for bedtime reading."  We've uncovered some good ones like The King's Day: Louis XIV of France (Aliki), A Drop of Water (Gordon Morrison), and Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man (David Adler)  (fair warning: you might tear up reading that last one.  woah.)  







So that's what we're reading.  How 'bout you?  Let's chat here, or link up your own What We're Reading Wednesday post with Jessica and check out what other bloggers are reading while you're there :)  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happiness. Lately. February 2015 (vol 9)

Happiness.  Lately.  February.  My monthly collection of "Happiness" - appreciating God's goodness in the little things and seeing his grandeur in the simplicity of my life and "Lately" - what I've been into and up to...  (wherein I reveal that much of February revolved around equal parts snow and James.)

Happiness is...

this face.  I just want to squeeze him and eat him up!!!



the things I find around the house that make me smile and say, "let me get my camera!"



lavender hot chocolate.  Ohhhhhh, this was such. a. treat.   It was rich, decadent, aromatic, and delicious... everything a gourmet hot cocoa ought to be.  And I made it myself!  





clean up time with a handmade dish cloth ;)




big brothers, little brothers...




days that are above ten degrees and Dad's snow blowed a path and Mom lets us get our bikes out??  I guess.

Ruthie was a little teary eyed because she kept falling :(

colored pencils.  And pictures of colored pencils.  I love colored pencils.



when all the neighborhood is out in the mornings.  Snow storms build camaraderie. 



a pretty cookie-making picture...




and happiness definitely is when the kids actually let me get a nice picture of them!!





Lately...


James is weaned.




and James is walking.  Yep.



And because this is my blog and he is the cutest ever and I can do whatever I want, here are even more pictures of Sweet Baby James.  Sorry. 






Dominic made his First Confession!  It truly was an answer to prayer that he was able to receive the Sacrament when he did.  We were hesitant to have him receive the Sacrament amidst all the other kids in the parish religious ed class.  We were given permission to come on the first Saturday of Lent at our parish's regular Confession time - Dominic made his first Confession with our pastor, and then Russ, Aaron and I were able to go also to kick off Lent (so to speak...)  It was just what we had prayed for. 

You can see how laden down with sin Dominic was on the way into church ; Or was that just the cold and snow?  Well, either way, he came out squeaky clean!  And then we had ice cream sundaes that night to celebrate!





We celebrated Ruth's fifth birthday!  She said she wanted a cake that was "the part of the meadow where the grass stops and the wild flowers start and it all blends into the sky. " Not like she has a flair for the dramatic or anything...



I have very limited cake decorating skills, but I think I did ok :)

Aaron built a Lego model of a cargo ship from Ancient Egypt for a special event at the study center the boys attend.  Then he had to carry it through a snow storm to the car to get it there...   February.  ugh.





We took a week off of school lessons for Winter Break.  Instead of regular old math, spelling, reading, we did chalk pastels with Nana from HodgePodge, cozy reading, playing, and art (which has been a popular thing around here lately since Ruth got some sketch pads and art supplies for her Birthday.)  We also read about the American Revolution because to me, that's fun!  It felt so awesome to take a break, but it's been hard getting back into the old routine :(







And I've still been crocheting.  It's been a nice change of pace though, as I've finished up several smaller projects and have gotten back to work on blankets for the boys I started last Spring.  I work on one for a little bit then switch to the other.  Working on a long term project gets boring for me if I don't break it up a little.  I'm not sure what happened with my measurements though...  I thought they were the same width, but it looks like Dominic's blanket (the blue/green and cream) is much wider.  Maybe that will become the length?  Not sure yet...




Also, in other over-the-top awesome crocheting news.......  I taught my sister how to crochet!!!!!!!!!!   And she loves it!  It's like all my dreams are coming true - I have someone who's similarly addicted, texts me throughout the days with her progress and latest projects, and gets it when I bemoan the fact that regular daily responsibilities really interfere with the time I'd rather be crocheting.  Housework is so inconvenient when there's yarn fun to be had!   Anyway, I've got a new Instagram hashtag if you want to stay on top of what Sarah and I are making and want to keep us posted on what you're hooking - hang out with us #dontmindmeimcrocheting :)


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Join me in looking back on February and sharing the little tings that were your happiness and some of the things that have been happening lately.
Link up your Happiness. Lately. posts for February here!  (open for a week!)



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