january round up

 

  • Running! Chris and I are training for the Holy Half on April 4. Chris schedules everything he does and we switch off with the girls and it has been so fun for me to be serious about running again! My goal is 3 runs/week and I’m up to 6 miles and it feels good to be out in the cold and getting stronger. I’m super hungry all the time, and more tired, but endorphins!
  • Decluttering and cleaning. Over Christmas I made a list of places in the house I wanted to reorganize, and I hit the ground running when we got back home. Basement, pantry, girls’ clothes bins, both hall closets – woot! Linen closet is next on the list. It feels like something I can control as we await news about Chris’s PhD applications and is weirdly energizing. I asked my friend Annie for help with organizing/house stuff and she gave me a tip that keeping cleaning supplies in each bathroom makes it easier to just do a little bit of cleaning whenever you have a moment. And she also pointed out that our downstairs bathroom is used by all visitors, but has no storage space and therefore is hard to keep clean. So I got this, and Chris mounted it and here’s to keeping this bathroom a bit cleaner for the sake of hospitality!
  • Feedback. That interaction reminded me how hard it is to get feedback, lol. Chris read a book for a class last semester called Thanks for the Feedback and he told me about a part that has been helpful. The idea is that when you receive critical feedback, you can be emotionally triggered in one of three areas – truth, relationship, and identity. This observation from Annie touched on my identity as someone who tries to be hospitable and to create a beautiful space to welcome people into. Because I never once thought about the fact that it’s my guests who use that bathroom the most! Eek. It also made me reflect on how often I used to receive critical feedback in my previous job and how the work of sorting through the emotions and responding well was probably the source of a lot of my stress. Phew! (Love you, Annie.)
  • Books. I finished The Overstory and Commonwealth over Christmas and read This Must Be The Place at the recommendation of my MIL. All very good. The Overstory made me sad about deforestation and the dire situation of the planet, but in a very compelling, well-written way. I recommend. Then I read Circe and loved it. Felt like my third grade Greek mythology-loving self again. Just finished The Dutch House and now reading A Gentleman in Moscow while I await other holds to come in. (Waking up to nurse 2-3 times a night is infinitely more bearable when I have a good book to read.)
  • Big girl Zelie. On impulse, I decided it was time to graduate Zelie from the pack n play and set her up with a “big girl bed,” aka the crib mattress on the ground in her closet. But it turned out to be a great move (go me) because 1) she’s sleeping with a comforter now and 2) she (mostly) stays in bed until the alarm clock turns green! She does wake up at 5:45 still, but she lies in bed singing and talking until 6:15 and it doesn’t alwaaaays wake up Evange. Progress! In my search for a toddler size duvet for her I discovered Kidizen and found a great deal on an IKEA bedding set – score. I also started having her do a 30 minute morning quiet time when we get back from dropping E off at preschool. So far, it’s going pretty well! IMG-2130
  • Prayer. I gave a reflection at our parish’s mom’s group this month and really enjoyed the process of praying and thinking about what to share. It was sort of about Mary as Theotokos – because I was asked to do it right after that solemnity – but more so about finding freedom from things that hold us back from seeing ourselves as God sees us, and being a God-bearer, like Mary. As I was thinking about this, my friend Adrianna shared an article with me and I really loved this quote from it. “The longer I walk under [Jesus’s] gaze, the more even all the wounds I have, my littleness, my sorrows, the things I do not understand about myself, the fears, the pettiness, and the sins, become dear to me. I know that they are my only opportunity to intercept the Lord passing by, because they leave me disarmed, needy and small. I am amazed how I no longer want to censor anything about myself; on the contrary, I stubbornly want to look at everything, down to the bottom. My humanity is only dear to me because it is embraced by the Lord who comes.”
  • Lions. We’ve watched The Lion King a few times now, and Zelie will tell anyone that it’s the best and her favorite. It’s also meant a lot of roaring at each other and endless questions, mostly about Scar. Evange and I also just finished The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe and immediately started rereading it. I’ve been getting a lot of questions like, “Why does Scar want to be king?” and “Why isn’t the Witch the true Queen of Narnia?” that have made me reflect on the parallels between these stories. Good times. IMG-2150
  • Outside time. We had a great two hours at a county park last week and it reminded me that we never go outside anymore, and we should. I feel like we live in the backyard all summer, and then I hibernate all winter. But the girls played together so well and were loving it! And I love watching them explore. So, going to try to start a weekly park play date with a friend and maybe even track our outside hours to stay motivated! Here’s to a mild February!

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!