'Muff'in Dome

End of a Season and Beginning a New ~ {7QT}

running

One) Revelling in what seems to be the first and last bits of Fall we’ll see here in Northern Cali this year. It went straight from warm to cold. I keep raking up those leaves but they keep coming down. I went to New Hampshire once in November and we’ve got nothing on their autumn, but I like to think we have something going for us with a few golden and amber trees.

photo 3(11)

fall backyard

Two) And related…I’m eking out the last of the apple season here. I made a quick trip with my friend, Meghan, and her son earlier in the week up to Apple Hill to enjoy the final fruits of the season. We snacked on apple donuts and I brought home my favorite — a caramel apple. (Still need to find two minutes to eat it.) I have about half a 40 lbs. box still waiting in the garage to be turned into apple butter. Better get on that before they are (non-edible) apple mush.

picnic

Apple Hill

Apple Hill 2

Three) Pondering and planning our Advent this year. I want to be more intentional about it this year as I feel it has slipped by the past few years. {A post about our plans coming next week!} To start with, I got myself an Advent journal filled with Scripture to meditate upon while spending some time in conversation with Jesus. It is produced by Blessed is She — a lovely community of women I’ve recently joined as a writer who bring the daily readings and a devotion to your inbox daily. It has been incredibly spiritually-nourishing for my soul. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this journal to help keep you focused on The Reason for the season. {Only 51 copies left as of this writing and Advent begins next Sunday!} All proceeds go towards keeping the site up and running and getting those emails out to you. Writers produce out of the goodness of their own hearts! :)

BIS journal

Four) I think we might have an engineer on our hands. Within hours of receiving lego duplos for her birthday, Evelyn had brought me a giraffe she had made out of them. And it looks like a giraffe. No assistance or suggestions to her. She’s been loading up the train with all the cargo and driving it around the living room  Have I mentioned she’s only two? ;)

giraffe

duplo train

Five) We’ve been checking out winter/Christmas books at the library over the past few weeks to get a good collection here to read before they all disappear. {If you wait until the beginning of December, they are already picked over.} We picked up The Snowman, a wonderful wordless story about a little boy’s adventure with a snowman. Spoiler alert: The snowman melts at the end. Evelyn is just devastated about this. I’m pretty sure she’s been having nightmares about it. She didn’t seem as disturbed about the pumpkins that rotted — perhaps because the book resolved it with them coming back the life the following year by planting its seeds. I’ve got to figure out a way to show her that the snowman can come back to life with a new snow because right now it’s pretty much ruining her life.

snowman book

Six) Meal planning and execution has been really on track lately thanks to Nell. She’s been hosting a weekly link up on Saturdays where we post our plans for the week along with links {if they are available} so we can benefit from each other’s recipes. Mix it up a bit, ya know? Well, we’ve enjoyed some new recipes and having a set plan for the week. It is nice when I look over the plans for the day and know what I’ll be doing for dinner. I can plan the afternoon accordingly for what I will need to do to prep. {Or get things going early.} Tomorrow’s will feature people’s plans for Thanksgiving. Check it out for some great ideas if you are in a rut or need to get those creative juices flowing!

weekly eats

Seven) Praying for All Souls this November. The girls and I picked up my mom the other day and we met my grandmother at the cemetery to remember and pray my grandfather who died 27 years ago this month. My grandfather was an obstetrician so he’s buried nearby all the babies. I wish my Evey could have known him. He loved trains. One of his favorite things was keeping his model train set. I still have memories of it although I was only 3 when he passed away. Evey assisted my mom with placing the flowers at his gravesite. {And then attempted to place leaves in all the other graves’ flower holders. She didn’t want them to miss out. ;)}

great grandpa's grave

with great grandma AM

 

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

Choo Choo! : 5 Tips for Cross Country Train Travel with Your Baby {Guest Post}

Please welcome my dear friend, Meghan, today as she gives us some excellent pointers on traveling by train across country with her infant son! {Such a cute, little guy!!} Welcome, Meg! :)
baby train travel
Traveling across country for a friend’s wedding this past summer was a journey my husband and I will not forget. I agreed to be my high school friend’s bridesmaid last fall, knowing I would have a six month old along with us for the ride.  In my husband’s frugal and adventurous spirit, we booked a train to get from Sacramento to Nebraska — a grand total of 40 hours!  Granted the train’s top speed is 79 miles per hour and often it goes much slower.  So after spending 80 hours on a train in one weeks time here are some tips for your next ride by train or plane with a little one.

baby train station

 

5 Tips for Traveling Across Country with Your Baby:

  1. Keep the routine (as best you can!)  Think about how your child usually spends their days- their nap times, quiet times, active times, meal times.  We found that keeping our son’s usual routine in mind helped us and him!
  2. Bring layers. Trains (and planes) love to keep the air cold.  We did not regret bringing our son’s winter clothes with us (and a warm hat too!).
  3. Bring your own blankets. They always over charge for their paper thin blankets.  We were thankful for our son’s blankets because they also kept us warm!
  4. Bring the baby carrier.  Whatever says “home” to your child is definitely an essential! While we didn’t use it that much on the train, it was invaluable during our trip because our son slept in it so well.  While we were busy with wedding festivities, the Ergo was our best friend.
  5. Bring something new! Babies love novelty…so bring something new for them to play with and explore.
Hope this helps you to have happy travels with your little one!

Museum Exploration with Young Children

painting details

Visiting museums with young ones can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and prepping, the visit can go well and you might actually enjoy yourself too!

legion of honor painting

A couple weeks ago, we accompanied Steve on the train down to Sacramento for the day, so that we could visit the Crocker Art Museum downtown. {Stay tuned tomorrow for a special guest post from a friend of mine on how to travel by train with young children!}

on train with daddy

with mommy on train

I had done my research and discovered that they do a special, hands-on toddler art class called Artful Tot {and others different days for older kids} on the first Tuesday of every month. Evelyn is beginning to enjoy the crafting process so I signed us up to go.

out the window

We arrived about an hour early in order to explore the artwork before class started. We meandered through the galleries taking time to stop at a few favorites along the way and discuss what we were seeing. Evelyn talked to me about what colors she predominately saw in certain paintings and what objects were depicted in statues.

look!

so many colors

She even took a few moments while I stopped to nurse Lucie to discuss with Pooh Bear the finer points of art viewing. ;)

Pooh museum tour

The toddler art class was fantastic! They had five different projects going at once which the kids could switch between at their own speed. Evelyn’s favorites were rolling and stamping playdough with various stamps and painting with a large dot brush.

dot art

stamping playdough

spilling the beans

We also encountered glue for the first time, and she was confused as to why it didn’t work like stickers after it dried {i.e. you couldn’t replace it once you removed it}.

gluing

We stopped in the courtyard for a snack after class before making the trek to Steve’s workplace to meet him for lunch. All in all, I believe we spent about two hours at the museum, a sufficient amount of time to explore much but not get overwhelmed.

 

baby and art

To recap, some quick tips to help you enjoy a museum visit with your young children:

  • Spend some time beforehand doing research on what to expect when you’re there. Grab a map at the front to figure out where bathroom and rest stops can occur. Tickets are often free or deeply discounted for young children.
  • Take advantage of children’s programs at the museum. This includes literature. They had a great pamphlet at the Crocker that explained how to enjoy the artwork with children as young as Lucie’s age!
  • Bring snacks and take frequent breaks so children (and you!) don’t overtire. Make sure to do it in an area designated for food, though, if you’ll be eating and/or drinking. {They frown upon that in the galleries.}
  • Discuss what you are seeing with your child. Engage them in the works. Don’t do this with every one or you will burn out quickly, but stop when they show some interest or point out something in one that you know will be of interest to them.
  • Bring a stroller, if they are allowed {check because sometimes they’re not} or a baby carrier or wrap. You can’t back carry with little ones for fear they might damage paintings inadvertently, but you can do front carrys. I swapped the girls back and forth between a stroller and Ergo. {I explored the Getty Museum with Evey when she was about two months old for half a day, carrying her in the Ergo, and it went splendidly.}
  • But most of all…ENJOY! :)

painting

Around the Web ~ 11.16.14

leafscatterings

Anyone else thinking about what will be on their Thanksgiving table in less than two weeks? (!!!) The Vintage Mixer together with some other food bloggers hosted a virtual Thanksgiving meal to bring us some great options for the feast! Also, The Kitchn has some lovely options too, based on a harvest-inspired menu.

Another thing well on its way is Advent season (starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving). Elizabeth Foss has a great collection of Advent books to read with your kids through the season. Already putting in requests from the library.

This is wonderful little list of daily affirmations for wives that will help us in living our our vocations all the better.

Is There a Catholic Way to Eat? Daniel Rabourdin of EWTN‘s ‘Theology of the Table’ seems to think so and I’m inclined to agree with him. {Plus, it’s infused with French-ness and we all know I will be happy to get on board with that! ;)}

Have you heard of the fallacy of relative privation? It essentially claims that trivial difficulties in our lives shouldn’t be of concern to us because there are bigger problems in the world like world hunger. This post, ‘On Whataboutery,’ explains why these things do matter and are worthy of our attention and prayer.

The Hard and the Holy — a beautiful reflection on how what is difficult in life can also be our means of holiness.

 

Have a lovely week!

Finding Time For Prayer as a Mother

I tend to be a fan of structure. Not quite Type-A level, but I like when things are organized and when there is a plan. However, since having children, I have been learning the difficult {on occasion} lesson of being more flexible with my time and expectations.

{This is not to say all has gone by the wayside. A certain structure to the day is essential (and necessary) with little people. Even if it is crashing down around you from one minute to the next.}

As a single person, with only my own needs to attend to, I tended to more strict with times for prayer scattered throughout my day. In an effort to not leave my relationship with Our Lord merely in the margins now as a married person with children, I still need intentional places and times of prayer in my day. But these often have to be more flexible, as my saying a Morning Offering upon rising is difficult when rising might happen several times throughout the wee hours of the morning.

Here are five times in my day that connect me back to Our Creator and help me to continue to build my relationship with Him.

1) At meal times // We pray together as a family at each meal whoever is at home {or if we are out — awesome method of evangelization!}. It is also a great way to teach my daughters to be thankful for the gifts we are given. {Evelyn loves to say, “Thank you, Jesus…AMEN!”} We spend the time before dinner taking turns with intentions for those who have asked our prayers throughout the day.

2) While nursing the baby // I tend to have my cell phone with me while I nurse my little one. At least one nursing session is spent reading these daily devotions from Blessed is She. Through them, I am able to participate in the Church calendar by reading the readings of the day from Mass {going to daily Mass is just too much for us right now} and spending some time with a short meditation which accompanies and is based upon the readings.

3) In the car // I don’t know if it is just me or if drivers are becoming more hostile lately. I spend quite a bit of time praying for the people I encounter on the road who either must be having a bad day or need prayers for a change of heart in their attitude about the way the drive, endangering their life and the lives of others.

4) When I awake in the night // This is almost guaranteed with my little one still nursing through the night. I pray for my husband who is sleeping by my side, for his protection, and that God will be His strength the trials of the following day.

5) While putting the children to sleep // I love these quiet moments as they are drifting off to sleep to remember to pray for their little souls. I offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition for these sweet ones entrusted to my care that they may grow up to be good girls and that I may follow the Spirit’s prompting in how to guide them.

 

When do you pray?

Butternut Squash Orecchiette with Ricotta

butternut squash orecchiette

Nell is keeping me on track food-wise with her Saturday Weekly Eats link-up. We’ve been busting out the meal plan AND new recipes to boot!

Check out our newest with delectable autumn squash — a butternut squash pasta with ricotta and sage. SOOOO good!

Around the Web ~ 11.9.14

artful tot

You’re in for a doozy today because I have about 3 weeks worth of links waiting in the wings. Pour a cup of coffee {or tea}, find a cozy place, and kick back for some good reads.

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When you choose to do something outside of the norm in your family {or even just any big thing, really}, it is easy to lose heart. “[W]hen you’re filled with doubt, remember your reasons why.”

The importance of teaching ‘patience’ to our students {children}.

Blessed is She has had some great reflections over the past week. This one entitled “The Household of God” was superb. I’m still reflecting on it.

“I think we need to take the time to tell ourselves we are good people.  Good mothers.  Good wives and friends and women.” A little encouragement and a good, simple reminder.

And another great reminder to not lose heart when it feels like you are failing at building your cathedral. The love of God is present in our lives even when we feel like He is distant. He is guiding us in our construction.

Why I am crazy enough to go a year without the internet

Do you consider yourself highly sensitive? If so, these are great helps to aid you in maintaining your sanity. Self care for the highly sensitive parent.

Practicing gratitude in this month of Thanksgiving {especially for mothers}.

Just because you aren’t able to maintain a scheduled prayer life while maintaining a household does not prevent you from being close to God. Find Him in the every day.

5 Cheap Ways to Spruce Up Your Gathering

The Kitchn’s Cooking School. I want to go through each day and perfect or learn the techniques they are instructing us in. We should all know these.

A really great gift guide of wonderful etsy shops for Catholic children.

My Baby is 2

E the pooh

Happy Birthday, my dear, sweet Evelyn!

My precious girl — now 2!

polka dot princess

green team

Always striving for the next big thing. You couldn’t wait to stand. From the day you were born, trying in your isolette while the nurse was attempting to measure you. Now, you run, chassé, jump, spin like you were born for such movement. I suppose you were.

in bucket

building blocks

You made me a mama (mimi). I will never forget that day. Ready to spring right into this world!

sleepymomandevey-300x224

Your sweet sass delights us all. I am so proud of the little lady you are becoming. You know how to make us laugh…and just at that moment when you know we will explode. We melt.

at CalSTRS

pillow flops

with Gram

photo 2(11)

You are a great big sister. I have never seen anyone with such a big heart. You care greatly for your sister. You can’t stand to see her upset. You rush to her side to make it all better.

photo

hanging out

I couldn’t imagine all of these wonderful adventures I’ve had with you and I can’t imagine the ones to come. I so look forward to these moments I have with you.

on my back

photo 3(9)

You are my little Love Bug.

 

Much Love,

mimi

 

***Several of these photos courtesy of Gram.***

Halloween Toddler Play

E the Pooh

Is a week too long to wait to share with you our Halloween? I don’t think so, and I couldn’t resist filling your feed with at least a few photos of Evelyn{Winnie} the Pooh Bear and her sidekick, Tigger.  ;)

L the Tigger

 

We went to the Fall Fest at the school where I used to work the night before Halloween. Evelyn had a blast (albeit a tad overwhelmed) participating in all the carnival games and activities. They chose an Alice in Wonderland theme that was equally cute//creepy. Part of their display includes a well-thought out and executed haunted house. Let’s just say, I never thought of flowers as nightmarish before.

Pooh and Tigger with daddy

face painting

We tried out the “toss the ping pong ball into the teacup” game. Evelyn thought she was supposed to play fetch with the teachers across the room attempting to catch the errant balls. {Sorry, ladies, that my daughter was your means of exercise for the evening.} Steve wanted to know why the cups weren’t filled with beer. I think it would be a good suggestion for next year for all the parents who make it through the exercise.

tea cup ping pong

 

chalk painting

Her favorite activity of the evening was the cake walk. And it wasn’t because of the cake reward. For some reason, this girl really likes to walk in circles. There is an activity at her dance class where the teacher puts dots down onto the floor in a circle and the kids are supposed to walk, run, etc. on them while a song plays. Well, Evey attempts to re-create this scene daily with her books, down to the “stay there, dot” mantra that her teacher says while placing each one down in an attempt to keep the kids from running off with them. The cake walk was a souped-up version of this. We skipped, hopped, ran, twirled for half an hour, round and round, and when her card was drawn, she did not care. She just wanted to keep walking. Her cousin, Owen, knew what was up — he ate all the frosting off his cake and left the rest for his dad.

 

Panda and Pooh

Halloween night was cold and rainy. We haven’t seen cold weather in these parts for months and, of course, it arrives with a vengeance on Halloween night. We managed to find a break in the rain and scurried around the neighborhood with a bucket that was about half Evelyn’s size.

rainy Halloween

trick or treat Pooh

Despite offers to assist her with it, she carried it the whole way. She did an excellent job with her “trick-or-treats” and “thank yous,” especially for someone who is not quite two. Although, we did try to go into a few peoples houses with hostesses we liked.

with daddy on Halloween

sugared Pooh

Her favorite thing, though, was handing out the candy at our door to the flood of trick-or-treaters who came by. (They really upped their game this year.) She was at the door before they rang the bell and carefully dropped a treat into each person’s bag. {One thing I have to highly recommend: get some treats for young children. I picked up a box of Goldfish crackers and I had several people thank me for having something that their toddlers could eat. You could do fruit snacks too.}

the gang with mama

daddy and L

Lucie just enjoyed being outside, wrapped snuggly against mama, and looking at the trees. Or chilling with daddy on the couch. :)

Beef-Stuffed Acorn Squash

stuffed acorn squash

Getting creative in the kitchen this week with different squash. Often the star of the side dish, we’re bringing it front and center today. This stuffed acorn squash dish will please even the youngest in your family! Head on over to the food blog for the recipe!

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