'Muff'in Dome

Team Girl, Team Boy…or Team Green?

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There was no question when I was pregnant with Evelyn that we would find out whether we were having a boy or girl. Especially with our first, we wanted to plan out a nursery and pick out clothes based on the sex. I mean, we could have gone with yellow ducks and all, but it just wasn’t as exciting to me as picking out a closet full of smocked dresses or tiny suits with bowties.

When I was pregnant with Lucie, I thought about waiting until birth for a split second but the planner in me overcame it. And, well, what if we had a boy? I would need a whole new wardrobe! {Turns out I did anyway as they were born in opposite seasons so hardly anything that fit Evey when she was the same age is appropriate for Lucie now. With big ticket items, like high chairs and bouncer seats, we tried to go gender-neutral in the event someday we would welcome a boy to our family.} Steve was in favor of finding out too.

Our brother-in-law made a keen observation when, one day, we were talking about discovering the baby’s sex at the ultrasound. He mentioned that either way it was going to be a surprise — either at the ultrasound or when the baby was born. {I had the thought — well, maybe both because sometimes the tech gets it wrong! ;)} That kind of confirmed what we had chosen.

But, then, I was talking to a friend the other day on the phone who has chosen to wait until birth and she made a good argument for being more patient. She said that not knowing helps keep her focus on pushing as efficiently as she can while in labor because she JUST. CAN’T. WAIT. to find out! That’s a valid point too. If we’re blessed with other children, I might be persuaded to wait based on that reason.

 

What did you and your spouse decide? Why? Would you do it differently next time?

Lucie at 4 Months

holding my Lucie

Hanging out at the park with Lucie’s godbrother.

And just like that, she’s another month older.

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We went in for Lucie’s 4-month check-up yesterday that included those nasty immunizations. To be honest, I was more worried about Evelyn freaking out than Lucie. Evey cares deeply about her sister and gets very concerned when she is upset. The nurse and I did our best to distract Evey, telling her that Lucie was receiving medicine {which was easy to buy as the first was a liquid she had to swallow}. There was a little toddler chair in the corner, perfect for Evey to hang out, and she did well sitting there. When the pokes came, Lucie got upset, but only momentarily. She’s one tough cookie!! When she gets hurt, she typically is more angry about the situation than anything. She makes this little angry yell, letting you know she is displeased. It’s actually rather cute. ;) The nurse quickly whipped out a sticker for Evey and she hardly noticed her sister being upset. Good deal for her: a visit to the doctor without having to be seen and getting a sticker without suffering any injury herself.

L immunizations

Lucie is now a healthy 15 lbs 6 oz. I forgot to ask what her height was, although the nurse noted that she was in the 88 percentile. She’s already moving out of the 6 month clothes with that long torso!

hi!

She’s improving her grasp each day. She especially loves her Sophie giraffe and crinkly butterfly toys. The bouncy chair with the hanging animals is also a huge hit with her. I can usually distract her long enough to cook dinner with that arrangement.

L bouncer

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The girls are becoming fast friends. Evelyn loves to get Lucie to giggle at her and it isn’t hard to do. Lucie loves the attention from her older sister.

pumpkin heads

playing together

Lucie’s biggest grins she still reserves for Daddy. When she spots him after walking in from work in the evening, she always grins from ear to ear. I know it makes his day after a long workday. :)

smile!

{I know this is with me, but this is normally what is reserved for daddy. I just happened to capture it on film here. :)}

Currently, we are working on our roll-overs, tummy time push-ups and sitting up. {Lots to do!} She’s much more laid back about these things than Evey was. {For Evey, it was more like a race to the finish line!}

L sitting

Lucie is very affectionate. She gives hugs when you pull her up to your shoulder and loves to burying her face into your neck. And to hug her little Bunny. <3

sleepy head

I think she might be a thumb-sucker. She likes to gnaw on it when it finds its way into her mouth. She’ll often comfort herself, too, by inserting as many fingers as she can get into her mouth. {Which sometimes becomes hazardous, as she chokes herself, pushing them too far in!}

with Pooh

We’re looking forward to celebrating Lucie’s first holidays these next few months. First Christmases are especially memorable!

Apple Hill is for Apple-Lovers

An autumn is never complete in Northern California without a trip to Apple Hill.

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We kept busy last weekend, filling Sunday with a trip up to this delightful town dotted with a copious number of apple orchards and other wonderful farms.

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Much to the delight of the men of the family, we made our first stop at Jack Russell Brewery {where, ironically, we spotted a lot of dogs, but not a Jack Russell in sight}. We feasted on chicken apple sausages with unique mustards, apple coleslaw and fresh apple cider, milled on the spot. Expecting mediocre hot dogs, sides and condiments, we were pleasantly surprised by the delicious food grilled and served there. The biggest hit, though, was the pumpkin spice beer which was brewed to autumnal perfection. Most of us agreed that the majority of pumpkin ales leave something to be desired, but this one hit the spot. It was a wonderful blend of spice, pumpkin and hops. {With a decent alcohol content. ;)}

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Just down the road, we stopped at Rainbow Orchards for the NUMBER ONE apple treat(!) apple donuts. We waited in line for about half an hour, admiring all the pumpkins and squash on display. Evey picked out one. more. pumpkin to display on the shelf in her room. {We’re thinking of painting them tomorrow.}

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The donuts were good, but we’re in agreement that the best are still at High Hill Ranch. {We opted out of driving there as the traffic on the road there was barely crawling for several miles.} High Hill adds the wonderful touch of chopped up apples instead of merely including apple cider in the recipe. It makes all. the. difference.

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I couldn’t pass up the caramel apples. Probably my favorite tasty morsel each year.

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Rainbow Orchards did win a few points with their live bluegrass music that we boogied to on the way back and forth to the apple barn. We grabbed a family photo on the John Deere tractor parked in the orchard before heading back to the car.

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Saying goodbye to Gram, Pumpkin, Steve and Cheryl, we met up with my mom and two of my brothers who had just arrived in the area at Larsen Apple Barn. Growing up, this was the spot where we picnicked and played Scramball and soccer before engorging ourselves on apple treats. I think they still have some of the cheapest apples on the Hill. I picked up a box in the barn — 40 lbs. for $15! They were seconds but most of them will be made into applesauce or apple butter so they will do just fine.

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I’ll take the best apple of the bunch home with me! ;)

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Pumpkin Train

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I’m sure I’ve already mentioned Evelyn’s obsession with trains and pumpkins. And it has not died down one bit. Recently, we discovered a privately owned train in West Sac that during the month of October gives rides to a pumpkin farm. We could not pass up that opportunity!

out the train

This past Saturday, we joined Steve’s parents, his sister and her husband and kids, and Steve’s Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl for a little ride alongside the river to Uncle Ray’s Pumpkin Farm.

Evey on train

We dressed Evey appropriately for the occasion in her pink conductor hat which she loves to wear gangsta-style. She was beaming ear-to-ear the second we pulled up to load onto the train and didn’t stop the whole day.

Lucie wore her pumpkin beanie to ward off the chilly breeze as we rode along on the open-air train.

mama and L

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Along the way, we were serenaded by a gentleman from Nebraska who sang us train-related songs, like “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. There may have been a little Jonny Cash thrown in there at times too.

music on the train

clap!

A crew of friendly scarecrows sang along and, at one point, took all the kids to one of the train cars for a fun story time. Evelyn gave it her all learning each of the hand motions they taught the kids to go along with the stories.

E and L

Eventually, we disembarked at the pumpkin patch, each in search of the perfect pumpkin.

pumpkins!

got one!

The hay ride there also was a hit, as well as a little straw maze for the kids to make their way through. We opted out of the corn maze for fear of getting lost inside and missing our train ride back.

D in the maze

yay for large pumpkins

Our sack lunches hit the spot, especially Aunt Nancy’s tasty pumpkin bars, a perfect treat for the occasion. Afterwards, we jumped back on the train for the ride back, kicking back as we listened to more tunes by our guitar-strummer and felt the cool breeze off the river nearby.

E and the train

Loading back into our cars, we were surprised only half the day had passed as the activities felt as if they filled a entire day. Time for naps!

Time for a Hearty Stew!

We’re finally feeling some fall weather around here. This afternoon, the clouds rolled in and we are enjoying listening to the rain outside the window.

In honor of the glorious rain, I have a delicious crockpot beef stew for you over on the food blog. Check it out!

Kid approved!! {She ate every last drop…and then some!}

beef stew kid

Around the Web ~ 10.19.14

pumpkinsWe spent this weekend soaking up the season with trips to pick pumpkins and gather apples. I’ll fill you in more later this week, but for now enjoy a few links from this past week around the web.

 

We are always on the lookout for good quick breakfast recipes. I think these Carrot and Bran Muffins just might fit the bill.

If you are on Instagram, this is one to follow: 5ftinf  Composition, color,…everything about each of the posts is beautiful. {via Modern Mrs. Darcy}

Some thoughts on keeping organized. I like things to be organized. I can’t function well in my home when things are in complete disarray. I think I am more efficient in my work when things have a proper place. So sometimes getting things cleaned up requires a proper organization system first.

We’ve only had one child so far who is eating solids so our experience with this is limited, but we certainly agree that exposing your children to a myriad of food choices from a young age {not treating certain foods as ‘adult’ and others as ‘kid food’} help to eliminate unnecessary dislikes. Evelyn tries everything once and, usually, each time it is made. It is amazing how many times she didn’t like it the first…or fiftieth…but that fifty-first time it became her favorite food. {Lord, help me if I ever have a picky eater, though!}

Olivia hits the nail on the head — A Call to End the Mommy Wars. We have got to stop judging one another and start building each other up. We’re in the trenches together.

Staging Your Home for Living — Why we shouldn’t be staging our home only when we are preparing to leave it and how to do so.

Love these tips for capturing who your kids are. I’m definitely going to attempt implementing more of these in my day-to-day photography.

This is definitely on my mind a lot. I’m nervous about raising children in this technologically-filled age. I don’t want them to lose their sense of wonder at God’s creation or miss out on truly having meaningful relationships with others, things I fear might happen with too much media “noise.”

Why getting our children into the best college should not really be the goal.

Loving these thoughts on Why Beauty Matters.

 

Have a great week, my friends!

Remembering the Little Ones Lost

pregnancy-infant-loss-remembrance-dayThis is strongly on my heart today.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

I have not lost one of my own children, but I do have two siblings in heaven whom I have never met — one who would be two years older than me and my brother, Seth’s, twin. Just writing that down brings tears to my eyes. I miss them although I have never seen them. My heart aches for their loss.

My heart is also aching for all my mommy friends who have lost a little one through a miscarriage, still birth or infancy death. I know too many. I am thinking of each one of you and praying for you today. Know that your little one is loved and remembered. He or she is your little saint in Heaven watching down on your family. I’m lighting a candle this evening in their memory.

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If you would like to leave your child’s in the comments, I will pray for him or her by name.

Applesauce Pork Chops

applesauce pork chops

Are you pumpkin-ed out yet? I can’t say that we are, but we also don’t want to miss out on apple season which feels like it is drawing to a close before it has even begun. {This may be true, in part, because of the horrible drought this year.}

Hop on over to the food blog for a delicious dinner of applesauce pork chops that comes together in 20 minutes!

Around the Web ~ 10.12.14

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A few interesting articles for your coffee table perusal this morning:

 

An interesting look at wedding financials and how it might affect the longevity of marriages — ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales

A fun idea to do with your toddler on a rainy day.

These lost photos from the 50s and 60s — a glimpse into every day motherhood. Timeless.

If you haven’t had enough of pumpkin things yet, Joy the Baker has a delicious looking Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk recipe. I’ve always wanted to make my own almond milk. Now, I have a really good reason too.

A San Francisco-based restaurant is playing hard ball with Yelp after it started deleting good reviews for the restaurant when they refused to pay extra to the company for advertising. They are asking for your worst reviews to make it to the top WORST restaurant on Yelp. Some of these are just hilarious.

Let’s Stop Judging Kate Middleton and Women With Multiple Kids via Verily.

The devil works his nasty tricks once again. How we are being duped into thinking the ‘real’ danger lies elsewhere than where it truly does.

This is such a beautiful post written by Hayley over at Carrots for Michelmas regarding self body image in little girls. It is just so heart-breaking that the thought is even crossing their minds at such a young age. I do hope that I can instill in my girls a sense of self-worth that transcends outward appearances. I feel it is going to be so difficult in this materialistic world we live in.

And don’t miss the giveaway over at Cedars and Tiny Flowers for your babes — your choice of one of Freshly Picked‘s adorable moccasins! I’m pretty sure I want one in every color for my little love. <3

 

Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Focusing In

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Loving these prompts from In the Heart of My Home, Elizabeth Foss’ blog. I need a little help organizing my thoughts here this morning. It’s been a doozy of a week.



 

Outside My Window ~ Sunshine. In the 90s again today. Where is autumn? Cleaner air than yesterday but still smoke-ridden. It hurts my baby’s eyes. :( Another fire was started very near here a few days ago. One of Steve’s commuting companions lost his house in the fire. Very sad.

Listening To ~ Good ol’ bluegrass. Enjoying a compilation of hits. Turned it on to distract Evelyn from something she shouldn’t be doing, but we all don’t mind the distraction.

Clothing Myself In ~ Pajamas still. Getting dressed doesn’t usually happen here until the afternoon unless we are going somewhere, mostly because I like to spend the morning hours doing chores.

Reading My Children These Books ~ We’re still big on trains here. We’ve been enjoying The Last Train and The Little Train the past few weeks. Also, enjoying books of the season on apples and pumpkins, especially Pumpkin Jack, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night, The Apple Pie Tree, and Apples. And this fantastic interactive book — Press Here. We like to take full advantage of all our library has to offer.

Reading On My Own ~ I just started Boys in the Boat and I’m really enjoying it. Daniel James Brown is a great storyteller who hooks you on these interweaving lives of the crewsmen and their coaches during the World War II era. Definitely a good read for history buffs. And it’s making me recount my days in the sculls.

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Pondering ~ What we have going on these next few months. I think fall and winter are always the busiest for us. Starting in November, we have Evey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, three birthdays in January, four birthdays in February, and our anniversary in early February. Lots to plan for!

Quotable ~ When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson It’s been feeling like that often around here lately.

Cultivating Rhythm ~ Trying to regain some semblance of a daily rhythm after having it upended while we were trying to escape the smoke from the fire. Also, we’re living with one car right now which means an early wake up most mornings so we can take Steve to the train station if we want to have a vehicle during the day. So regular naps and early bedtimes are important here right now to ensure enough sleep.

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Creating By Hand ~ I’ve started my Christmas gifts early this year in the hopes I’ll actually have something to show for it come December. I can’t say much about it right now, except that I’m really enjoying getting into learning different knitting techniques and my stitches are getting better by the day. My tension is definitely improving.

Learning Lessons In ~ What I can handle and what I can’t. I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, but I’m learning what I’m capable of each day and to say ‘no’ to the things I really don’t want to be involved in.

Encouraging Lessons In ~ Responsible independence. Evey has been wondering off when we’re at the park without saying a word, giving this mama a heart attack. Trying to figure out how to teach her communication about what she wants and where she is going.

playing houseAbout 5 seconds before I turned around to check on Lucie in the stroller, and about 20 seconds before she was halfway across the plaza without a word.

Begging Prayers For ~ Those suffering from the nearby fire. For students in the midst of mid-terms.

Keeping House ~ Attempting to do a major cleaning after a much-neglected house the past month or so. Got the floors vacuumed yesterday and already it feels much better.

Crafting In the Kitchen ~ Enjoying some autumnal meals despite the fact it still feels like summer. {We’ll just crank the AC and pretend.} Made this chicken pot pie dish in the crock pot last night and enjoyed some baked pumpkin spice donuts last weekend for our Saturday brunch.

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Keeping Fit ~ Not keeping fit…yet. Picked up some 3 lbs. dumbbells at Target earlier in the week. I’m joining some friends starting Monday for a daily exercise routine for which we are going to keep all accountable. Hopefully. ;)

Giving Thanks ~ For my amazing husband, who has been working so hard, at both school and work, yet always making us his priority. He is such a great and loving father. I love watching him with our girls. <3

Steve and the girls

Loving the Moments ~ We wait for daddy to arrive on the train most evenings at the station. It elates Evelyn’s heart to no end to see the train pull up, her daddy step off, to brush her fingers against the train, to say ‘good night’ to the choo-choo.

Living the Liturgy ~ I’m following the devotions from Blessed is She daily. I’m really loving being to able to read the daily Mass readings along with a short meditation on them. Check it out if you haven’t yet! It’s especially great for those longing to go to Mass more often. Helps you keep up a little with the Church’s seasons.

Planning for the Week Ahead ~ Next week will be one of more major cleaning, thinking/planning Evelyn’s birthday party next month, and planning for next weekend’s adventures with family — looking forward to visiting with Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl driving out from Texas. :)  Also, getting our yard cleaned up for the winter. I think it might be too late for our fall garden.