the good list

Quick takes on what’s working well around here lately and the little moments I’m holding onto each day that are just good.

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1. Tidy time. I borrowed this idea from my friend while Chris was in London. After dinner, Evange (and Zelie, somewhat) tidies up all the toys around the house and then she gets to watch a 20 minute show. She is SO MOTIVATED. She will ask me, before we’ve even had dinner, “Is it tidy time??” If Zelie helps, or it’s early enough, she gets to watch, and if I’m doing bedtime solo I will put her to bed while Evange finishes the episode. And I love coming downstairs to a clean playroom in the morning. Win win. (I know I just wrote a post about living more Montessori at home and yet I do daily screen time. I contain multitudes.) 

2. Ice cream cones. This feels like a life hack that I know will not last forever but am savoring now. I have a hard time with endless afternoons if we don’t have something scheduled to go and do, but this has been great to help us transition from naps to playing outside. We make a smoothie together, put it in a waffle cone (left over from Evange’s 3rd birthday party) and they have to eat it outside. And then we’re out there for an hour or more, usually.

3. Warm afternoons. Once we’re outside, Evange and Zelie have started playing “Mama” together. Zelie runs around yelling, “Mama!” and I yell, “What?” and she says, “Not you! I’m talking to Evange!” Perfect. I sit with Chiara and drink tea and read while they play and even if nap times didn’t align, I’m still so grateful that it’s warm and sunny and we are all outside. Even when they end up naked and covered in smoothie. (Because winter is coming…)

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4. Mornings with the littles. We’ve found a weekly rhythm with a balance of playdates and time at home. Zelie plays fairly independently and it’s been fun to show her the Montessori activities on the shelves, and then just watch her get absorbed in lining up all her little Play Mobil peeps in different configurations. She also gets to go to her “preschool time,” which is an hour of coloring, songs, snacks, and playtime with three other 2 year old girls on our street. So cute. I’m so grateful for that.

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our Thursday mornings. this time was playing in the lobby of Evange’s school while Bernadette’s mom helped in the Atrium

5. Tomatoes, basil, and zinnias. The only parts of our jungle garden that are still going strong, but it’s perfect. I ask Evange to pick more tomatoes whenever we’re outside, and to pick me a new bouquet every few days. Soaking up all the color because, again, I’m already dreading winter.

6. Our Bosch. Our dishwasher stopped working in January after the Polar Vortex and even though multiple dishwasher repairmen have told me that was just a coincidence, I’m not wholly convinced. My dad gave me money for a new one after his recent visit, there was a Labor Day sale still going strong, and I did the thing. I had forgotten how amazing it is to have a dishwasher. All the praise hands. Thanks, Dad!

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7. Elementary. Another gift from my dad’s visit – Chris and I once again have access to our favorite TV show from when we were dating that we never finished. Nostalgia. 

the grace to live grace

I recently read a biography of Chiara Corbella Petrillo’s life, A Witness to Joy, (shout out to Adrianna for telling me about her and Grace for the book!) and a phrase that she and her husband said has stayed with me in these long, slow summer days we’re living right now.

As they faced two terminal pregnancies and then Chiara’s battle with cancer, the Petrillos prayed for the grace to live grace.

For me, that’s meant being present to what is before me and choosing to be grateful. Ignoring the laundry that always needs to be folded, the crumbs all over the kitchen floor, and focusing instead on the little moments that surprise me with their sweetness – if I am paying attention.

Evange picking bouquets of flowers from the backyard.

This baby growing more alert, her big blue eyes. Naps with her.

The couple of dates Chris and I have snuck out to when family has been here or a friend offers to watch the girls.

Berry picking with friends and other summer outings with the girls, where, even if Zelie pees her pants, we’re all happy to be outside in the sunshine.

Time together in our backyard (Evange took this pic 😂) and the garden growing. So many tomatoes! And Chris playing catch with the girls.

Friends visiting us! (the girls are getting a lot of screen time too but I’m trying to not feel guilty about that).

Beach time!

Friends bringing us meals. Just feeling so cared for. there’s really nothing like a fresh baby. ❤️

end of september quick takes

Well, it’s fall now and if I seem obsessed with seasons it’s because summer in South Bend is HOT, fall is crisp and gorgeous but FLEETING, and winter is grey and freezing and ETERNAL. And I don’t do well with change. But before September is gone I wanted to reflect on how back to school went and other random thoughts/things.

1)  Evangeline starts her fifth week of school this week and it’s going really well. She’s made friends, likes her teachers, and loves the playground and snack time (of course). I spend the five minute drive home peppering her with questions about the “works” she did, but she rarely is able to tell me much about those. Understandable. She was exhausted after school for the first week or so but has adjusted and now she’s her normal three year old self the rest of the day. I try to make sure she gets a car nap once or twice a week because she needs it every so often, but girlfriend will not nap in her bed anymore.

2) Evange in school means mornings look different for me now. If she’s not up, I get her up by 7:20 and get her dressed and do her hair so we’re eating breakfast by 7:30 and she has plenty of time to eat before hopping in the car at 8, to get to school before 8:15. We have not been late yet! Woot! Zelie is along for the ride but by the time we get back she’s nearly ready for her morning nap. (She’s been waking up at 5am… blerg.) But I’m so glad she still takes two naps, because I get to finish my tea with a book on the deck and it has been glorious. I usually have time to shower, too, and get some things done around the house. I sometimes feel like I should do more with that time, but I got a part time job that will start soon, so I’m just enjoying the freedom for now.

3) Which leads me to books! I finished Crazy Rich Asians (I dropped my library copy in the bathtub – oops), read six or so essays from Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners (highly enjoyable), and now I find myself working through three non-fiction books, which never happens. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset (really enjoying as spiritual reading), The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart (reminding me I want to go further with gardening next summer, and also maybe be open to backyard chickens again), and No- Drama Discipline (which I’m reading v v slowly but is good). Oh and I’m on Harry Potter #5 audiobook for those car naps.

4) Fall! We went apple picking, the weather was perfect, I was so happy.

5) We’ve lived in our house for six months now and I feel pretty settled here. I found this bench at a rummage sale and decided to give it a chance and I’m pleased with the results. My favorite part of the house is the backyard, though, so I want to get more use out of the fire pit and just soak it all up before it’s covered in snow (gahhhh). I had the chance to host a group of mom friends for a prayer and playdate time twice this month and both mornings were warm so we were outside. I really enjoy being able to practice hospitality and get more use out of all this space. Different note – we’re renting out the house for a few football weekends and that made us decide to buy a TV. I am equal parts horrified that we own one, proud of myself for navigating Best Buy and setting up Chrome Cast, and guilty that our house feels too luxurious now. But it has been nice for college football viewing. (And Evange got some Silly Songs With Larry when she succumbed to the miserable cold we’ve all been fighting this week).

6) Speaking of the house, life with a housemate has been swell. He’s super busy so he’s not around often, but when he’s home he is great with the girls and they love him. And if he’s around for dinner and Chris is still at class, he does the dishes while I put the girls to bed and it is the best thing ever. Highly recommend.

7) I’ll end with a little pat on my back because this month marked one year of cloth diapering, and I’m still going strong. Well, actually, several of the hand-me-down diapers with velcro fastens need the velcro replaced, which has made me use more disposables in between washings, but once I get that sorted it’ll be smooth sailing. I even took them traveling – to NJ for Christmas and to RI this summer – because we drove and would be in a house with washer/dryer so why not? I’m still finding satisfaction in the re-usable-ness of them and I don’t mind the work involved, so we’ll see how long it goes.

Anyway, Happy Monday! Any good fiction recs? I’ll take em!

 

summer to do list

This time last year we had a two month old and were gearing up for a cross country move and road trip with two babies under two. This summer is about chilling hard. Chris is taking Latin and we are home until a little road trip vacation to Rhode Island the first two weeks of August, before his fall semester starts. I want to keep things simple and enjoy this season, but also have some things to point back to and say, I did this, I had a good summer. So this is my super easy to do list for summer 2018.

  • read books (including fave summer re-reads – we’re on HP #3 audio and I’m reading Anne of the Island)
  • Frequent trips to the library to beat the heat and summer reading program 😍
  • keep the garden going
  • try not to kill all the houseplants
  • get Zelie sleeping through the night
  • move the girls into one room
  • get to the beach sometimes weekly
  • get to the nearby convent to pray sometimes weekly
  • exercise in the humidity somehow
  • learn to make margaritas and keep trying new recipes from the amazingly huge Cook’s Illustrated cookbook that Maya gave me 🙌🏼
  • go see a few movies by myself (Oceans 8 is the only one on my list. what other movies are coming out this summer? I live under a rock.)

That’s it!

What’s on your list for the summer?

ridin solo

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It’s like S-O-L-O. Okay, I still have two days left of this so I’m really tempting the crazy toddler fates by blogging now, but this past week with Chris away has gone wildly better than I feared, and this is why. I know you are dying to know.

The interwebs. FaceTime and WhatsApp are amazing. What an age we live in. And Evange has only cried for Daddy once so far.

A potty miracle. Evangeline is back to normal in this arena. I know on an intellectual level that my mood shouldn’t be affected by my toddler’s behavior, but try telling me that when she is constantly doing little poops in her underwear all day. However, that has not been the case (I have received this as a wondrous gift) and she’s woken up in the mornings in a great mood and it’s set the tone for the day. Wooooooo hoooooo!

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Amazing family and friends. My mom arrived the day Chris left and stayed for three and a half days. It was so fun to have her here! Once she left, I received a barrage of kindness in the form of babysitting, meals provided, meal invitations extended, playdates, and a second trip up to South Haven to play all day with my sister’s in-laws who adore the girls. So grateful. (They even watched the girls so I could get to a Saturday vigil mass, thereby avoiding doing zone defense on Sunday morning.)

Summertime exploring. I’ve remembered that (when I have no other choice) I really love finding free events to take the girls to. We hit up South Bend’s Best. Week. Ever/First Friday and it was great. Evange loved the different concerts (including Dan the Music Man, hilarious) and walking across the overpass over the St. Joseph River that runs through downtown. She tried really hard to get a dance party started but no one else was feeling it. Today we drove up to a bluegrass festival along the river front of Niles, MI. Another free event with music and a river, another win.

Relaxing the screen time rules. AKA giving into Evangeline’s demands for movies more often than normal and telling myself not to feel guilty about it.

Introverting hard. Without Chris around, I’ve been reading a lot after bedtime. I finished Someone by Alice McDermott (I think I’ll keep going backward chronologically and read all her novels), One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler (finished this one super fast, 10/10 recommend), and now I’m working on Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. It’s my first time reading anything by him and I’m loving it so far. Not sure exactly why I started with this one, but I want to read his poems and essays too.

Sleep. The girls are sleeping well. Zelie went three nights in a row with no night feedings, which was a first. Another unexpected grace.

And that’s it! This is the longest I’ve been apart from Chris, and it’s weird. It’s given me new empathy for parents who have spouses who are deployed, or travel often for work, or are incarcerated. I’ve been trying to offer up the hard moments for them.

school’s out

One. Chris finished finals and we did our 2018 inaugural beach trip! Grandma got the girls super cute suits. We found a playground and had a chill time. Evangeline had fun running in and out of the very cold water until she fell over and got soaked and that was the end of that. Zelie was content climbing on Chris and eating sticks and being just way too stinking cute.

Two. Chris’s roommate and best man from Stanford has been staying with us for the last week and a half. For Chris, it’s meant a buddy to watch the playoffs with. For me, it’s been a taste of living in community and I’m reminded that I like it. It’s nice having someone else with us for dinner and to play with the girls (and Kevin does the dishes while we do bedtime – praise!) We’re planning to rent a room to one of Chris’s fellow M.Div’s next year and I’m looking forward to that more now.

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Three. Kevin got us tickets to Hamilton! I think as a thank you for letting him stay? Setting the bar high for future guests! JK, JK. JOKES. But it was awesome. Even the phenomenon that is Hamilton aside, I was struck by how amazing live performances are. We were asked (ushers yelled at people during the first song) to put our phones away and just sit and enjoy being present to these men and women who are brilliant at their craft. Refreshing. And a treat for me to be away from the girls and in Chicago for a day. I’m super grateful to my friends who watched them – when Kevin first told us he wanted to buy tix I thought, there’s no way we can go, but I asked anyway and ROSE AND KATHERINE ARE THE BOMB. #FRIENDSHIP

Four. I’m reading this and I see a lot of my own conversion story in his, and he reminds me of a lot of my friends. It got me working on a post on my conversion, which is fun to write, but still in my drafts.

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Five. My friend Julia requested that our local library buy this new book that we both want to read (didn’t know you could do that!) and I’m next in line when she’s done. I spent some time journaling through a free ebook of Jennifer Fulwiler’s called A Guide to Your Gifts and it was so great. Her new book is about pursuing your passions while having a family and I was like, hm, I love the sound of that, but … what are my passions again? (Classic Enneagram 9, lol). So, this ebook was great for that and it got me all fired up. I have passions to pursue! I want to write a book! I want to get better at handlettering! I want to change the world! And then I felt like I kind of hit a wall. (I want to learn how to edit photos of my handlettering, but Photoshop/Illustrator/Whatever is so expensive! If you know how to do this for free, can you tell me how?) But I took a small step and committed to write each day for one week, not blogging, but seeing what came out (it was mostly poems). I missed some days and don’t know if I even made it a whole week, but it was something! Finding community with writing is something I would really love … waiting for that.

Six. One of the questions in that ebook was, “who are you jealous of?” Because we’re often jealous of people we see fully living out their gifts. And it got me thinking, man, IG often feeds my jealously/envy. And envy is the least fun sin. If you have any tips on combatting that, please share. I usually want to throw my phone away until I have a cute pic to post, which is terrible.

 

Seven. Inspired by Sarah and also Julia telling me that they can survive the winter here, I think I’m thinking about backyard chickens?? Part of me is like, ugh, chickens are gross. And the other part is like, we have this giant backyard, why not jump on that homesteading bandwagon and learn a lot and get some eggs out of it?  #LAURAINGALLSWILDER4EVA #livingthedream

But, we shall see. Maybe I’ll wait til next spring. Oh and the seeds in our garden are growing!! So cool.

Happy Weekend!

Linking up with This Ain’t The Lyceum.

what i want to remember from right now

  • Ice skating with Evangeline for the first time. The tiny skates! She loved getting pushed around in that little green thing, as fast as we could go.
  • Evange learning to hold up two fingers by herself. And just randomly I find her holding two fingers, like she’s always practicing. She says, “Zelie is going to be one years old and I’m two years old!” So proud of herself. And very excited for Zelie’s birthday party. I hope I can make it live up to the hype.
  • Zelie crawling – determined, head down, super fast. flopping down onto the couch or pillows like a little bug. putting every dang little scrap of paper/anything she’s not supposed to eat into her mouth ALL THE TIME. (And she’s sleeping terribly. But maybe I want to forget that.)
  • Zelie making friends all the time. Getting to be pretty interactive – grabbing faces and hair and just so smiley. Kids love her.
  • The girls starting to play with each other.

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  • Evange on a The Polar Express KICK, in March. Grandma and Grandpa visited and she made Grandma read it to her at least 10 times. And she needs to wear her “Santa Claw” hat while she reads. Love this girl.

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  • Our little apartment at University Village. We’re moving to our first house soon and leaving apartment life, especially in the Village, is bittersweet.

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