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Category Archives: Family

A Golden Birthday for a Three Year Old

When your soon-to-be three year old says that all she wants to do for her birthday is walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, what do you do? Well, you walk that bridge!

She began requesting it in earnest as her birthday “party” after this trip, and only increased her pleadings with gusto, so we loaded up the car on her birthday weekend and made the drive down to the Bay area.

We stayed overnight in San Rafael on Sunday evening {so much more affordable than SF!} and drove down towards the City after the commuter traffic had subsided. It was a smart move driving in right as the parking lots opened at 10 as they quickly filled up within minutes of our arrival. It was also a wise decision to circumvent the weekend traffic — causes a lot less congestion headache!

Lucie jumped from the car, eager to begin the trek! {That pose is all her own.}

Her interest in bridges {and lighthouses} piqued by this book, after being introduced to it over a year ago, has not abated. She still squeals with delight each time she spies one as we pass by. This one is no different and now holds an even more special place in her heart as she walked across it!

We love making these memories with our girls.

And we couldn’t finish off the day without a sweet birthday treat. That banana split was a huge hit! What a goof.

Marin Headlands Adventure

After a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, we landed in the Marin Headlands. We had booked a night at the Hi Marin Hostel in one of their private rooms. It was a great fit for our family, with two bunks, one of which had a double on the bottom. The sheets and towels were provided so no extra packing {or laundry}! The annexed house had a communal kitchen, several bathrooms, a dining area, and sitting room, all of which made it feel like a home away from home. Sure, it wasn’t as luxurious as a hotel in the City, but it did the trick wonderfully for us.

We packed in our own meals {which was necessary given the nearest places to grab a bite were in Sausalito, about a 15-20 minute drive away}. I brought along leftovers from the previous night so preparation was super simple. It was very convenient to warm up our meal and eat right away after a long day of travel.

The girls were enamored with the beautiful sunset from our bedroom window as we wound down to go to bed that night. We had a positive experience with the other house guests honoring the quiet hours, and all was settled by 10pm.

Next morning, found us up early and eager to explore after a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola. Rodeo Beach on the Headlands was walkable from the hostel, but we chose to drive over so short legs could save up energy for other exploring that day.

It was a beautiful, peaceful morning with very few others out so early. We discovered a couple mussel shells washed up on the beach and attempted to hear the ocean by placing them to our ears.

Mid-morning found our stomachs grumbling for more grub, so we packed up our things and headed over to Sausalito. A little chocolate shop served coffee and buttery croissants, which was a perfect match for us. We sipped and munched on those, then enjoyed making daisy crowns and slingshots, and running around in the sun.

Lucie was being her usual, goofy self, making all sorts of her signature faces.

sisters in the flowers

We meandered a bit more around town to find a few additions to our lunch spread, including making a stop by the water to look out at the City across the Bay. Evelyn was practicing her photography skills every chance she got. A seagull, surprisingly, posed for her to take some shots.

Our final stop of the day was the Point Bonita Lighthouse. We picked up a Lighthouse Passport back in January when we went to the lighthouse in Pacific Grove. {The girls developed a great interest and love for lighthouses after reading this book.} This one proved a little trickier to grab a stamp for, and it was more harrowing to get to as well. The hours for this particular one are short–just a few, three days a week. We had to stand in line for about 20 minutes for a chance to walk across the narrow suspension bridge and explore. Certainly worth it!

Bye, bye, San Francisco Bay! Until next time!

Monet at the Legion of Honor

A few weeks ago, we headed down to San Francisco for a long weekend to see the special Claude Monet exhibit at the Legion of Honor museum. It was a collection of his early works–many of which I have not seen–so for this Impressionist aficionado, I was over the moon to view them.

The girls enjoyed seeing the collection too, and it was just the right length for shorter attention spans. {Although, Lucie slept through the first half in the Ergo with Steve carrying her. It was a pleasant surprise that she still fit inside!}

We read a bit about Monet together before visiting from one of my favorite childhood books, Linnea in Monet’s Garden. I’m pleased to say that the girls took to Linnea and her adventures in the garden just as I did when I was young.

There was another traveling exhibition that involved random pieces of artwork(?) plopped down in random place inside and outside the museum. That’s Evelyn sitting next to one right out front. She was very entertained by the sculpture pieces, and confused {as we were} about the randomosity of the ones we saw inside. Her questions increased tenfold and my inability to answer did the same.

We ran into our wedding photographer in front of the museum where she was shooting a couples’ engagement photos. We hadn’t seen her since she took our maternity photos when I was pregnant with Evelyn. She does such beautiful work, I wish she lived closer to us so we could have family photos done by her again.

Our trip to SF also included a wonderful picnic on the bleachers that overlook the Bay, and a quick run through Ghirardelli Square with chocolate samples, of course!

One of the little shops on the Square had this tic-tac-toe game created with rocks and washi tape. The girls were in love. We’re searching for suitable flat rocks to make some of our own.

We crossed over the Golden Gate towards the end of the day for more adventures which I’ll share in my next post….

Friday Frivolity {7QT}

So much to share, so little time. Luckily, it’s Friday — time for Seven Quick Takes! Hold onto your seats!

1) Diving into the garden season with a lot of weed pulling and a lot of seed planting. I’m trying my hand at a cut flower plot this year. There will be cosmos, zinnias, celosia, bachelor’s buttons, amaranth, and black-eyed susans {hopefully!}. I’m excited but feel a bit daunted by the task. I haven’t had much luck with growing flowers from seed in the past. I purchased Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden a few months ago, and I’m trying to follow Erin’s advice to a ‘T’ {with a little prayer of hope thrown into the mix!}. We’ll have some veggies and, of course, the strawberry patch too!

2) Last weekend, we attended a local(ish) Scottish Highland Games. The Celtic blood runs deep on both sides of the family, so the girls have taken a natural liking to the heritage both of their parents love. {Evey often asks to learn Irish dancing. One of these days, we’ll find a good group in the area for her take lessons.} We saw a group of harpists that renewed my great desire to own a harp of my own. There was even one for sale! — but, alas, out of our price range currently. We marched in the parade with the Cochrane clan, a surname on Steve’s paternal line.

3) Stephen and I got out for a wonderful date night in March that included a concert and surprise! Eucharistic adoration and Confession. A fellow Christendom alum, Marie Miller, was performing the opening act for Five for Fighting, so we grabbed some of the last seats in the house, up in the nosebleeds, but had the best time anyway. Marie did an amazing job, and we were equally delighted with the the lyrical genius that is Five for Fighting. I don’t own any of his albums, but I certainly want one now.

We also stumbled upon a Lenten night of Eucharistic adoration taking place at the cathedral that was such a blessing for both of us. Not only did we get to spend some quiet moments with the Lord, but we also were able to partake of the sacrament of Confession.

4) After much deliberation, we’ve decided to start Evelyn in some more formal schooling this fall. We worked through the early set of Explode the Code this year. She’s certainly excelled in learning her letters and their sounds, and is SO ready to learn how to read. {We may just dive into this early during the summer months!} The Charlotte Mason method has been a natural fit for our family so we’ll be following along with their curriculum, particularly that of Mater Amabilis with a few additions/revisions from Ambleside. {I may do a more thorough explanation of our preschool curriculum from this year. Would anyone be interested in hearing more about it?}

5) We instituted “popcorn and poetry” afternoons which we’ve enjoyed several of this month. It’s an alternative to an afternoon tea which will be coming back around when we start school in the fall. Not sure who enjoys it more — the adults or children.

6) Steve began a new job at the beginning of April which required a bit of travel at the beginning for training. Some of it allowed for our family to stay at my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains which are still thoroughly covered with snow…and much was still coming down during the month of April! The girls loved the extra snow play and we made it cozy with hot chocolate treats and many snuggly reading times {with a side of knitting for mama}.

7) I purchased for myself today this lovely new tank for the summer that Blessed is She just released. It will be a constant companion during the summer months in the garden, by the pool…whenever the temp reaches the triple digits, to be sure! The one with the Teresas has me all “heart-eyes” too.

I’m also looking forward to my new copy of the academic Blessed is She planner {if you’re awaiting the calendar year version, it releases in October}.

I might also have to pick one of these prayer posters for our large living room wall. A good {and helpful} reminder to say our prayers!

 

{Linking up with the fabulous Kelly on this lovely Friday afternoon for 7QT.}

The Beauty of Being At Home in the World

Sitting in the square shadowed by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, I raised my head from jotting down some notes in my journal to watch a young girl, probably around three years old, spinning in her dress, her shoes clacking along the cobblestones as she spun. With wobbly legs, she fell into the arms of her father, laughing, enjoying this moment together. Her joyous words in fragmented Italian sentences, much like the ones that would issue from my mouth, echoed across the plaza. The timelessness of the moment striking me as I watched this family interact in such a grand space that could have been any place in the world.

********

Standing in the cavernous space, lifting my head up to see the vast walls rising above my head, I felt all at once the grandiosity that the cathedral sought to evoke of such a limitless God, but also my own, specific place in the Church of millions upon billions of persons through the overarching years. It was a place for my unique person; it was a place for the grand choir of saints in chorus.

********

 

These snippets from my travels are memories that I carry, brought back to life again after reading Tsh Oxendreider’s latest work, At Home in the WorldThe wanderlust that is never sated; the homebodiness that aches as one wanders about. This seeming dichotomy which may, in fact, be simply hewn from the same stone.

“Sometimes, even when I’m standing on a remarkable slice of terra firma, I’m besotted with wanderlust, my heart thumping for the next unknown place and my mind wondering what’s next. But right now, in this rain forest, floating crystal waters after a walk on ancient, sacred soil with my flesh and blood, I want to be nowhere else. Nowhere. This, right now, is home. I can hear God through the rustling of the prehistoric fan-shaped leaves, the scurry of alien insects on the bark, the familiar laughter of my children slipping on stones in the water. Everything here is unfamiliar, but it’s familiar. We are transient, vagabonds, and yet we’re tethered.”

I know this of which she speaks. With the birth of my children, it seems even more acute. I sense these moments where time nearly stands still, while, at the same time, it rushes past.

The connectedness of it all. The same two feet can bypass the crosswalk of a busy, Parisian intersection while cars whiz past or walk across the ice-kissed grass in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a frosty morning. Both instances I walk to class, I study French. The same, yet different.

“The earth’s surface is over 70 percent covered in water, and sometimes I wonder about a drop of water resting on my shoulder, whether it’s been to Antarctica or the South China Sea, or perhaps, miraculously, even out of my childhood kitchen sink.”

Living in Rome for a semester, we consume pasta like our grades depend upon it. I would never complain about the copious amounts of ravioli and penne that we eat as it is and will always be one of my favorite foods. But there are days here and there I long for the comforts of American food. It isn’t necessarily the food itself I miss, but the comfort of home it evokes. On several occasions, my friends and I steal away to the local Hard Rock Cafe to enjoy a burger and fries. Burgers are rarely the food I search for when faced with an extensive menu, but that juicy, red meat holds a place of home for me that nothing else there provides, and I could choose no other.

We want to explore Fez, but we want to see old friends more, and so, today we do what old friends do: we drink coffee, we drink gin and tonics, we order pizza, we watch questionably downloaded American television, we bake cookies, and we talk.”

A delicious ice cream bar–a dark chocolate Magnum, to be precise–held out like an unspoken language when the words fail to connect us. My friend’s grandmother gives it as a peace offering to two kids, fumbling around in a sea of foreign words and culture. We understand chocolate and cold ice cream. We accept with gracious smiles. When there is no other way to associate, there is always chocolate ice cream bars.

‘We toast to friendship that spans miles, languages, and our different lots in life. We are mothers; we belong to each other. This coffee brings us together.’

In my tiniest of apartments, after climbing eight flights of stairs to my floor and enjoying a view of the sparkling Eiffel Tower on every landing, I flop down on my bed exhausted by the day’s exertion. I reach for the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a familiar author, a familiar pastime, to delight in at the end of a hard day. Funnily, I am taken back to many of those places I have seen throughout the day, I revisit them over a century ago, just as I did hours ago. When done, I reach for my journal and pen, in an attempt to unpack all the thoughts swirling from these intersecting pieces of my day.

‘I feel at home in the world, and I feel like Alice falling down a rabbit hole.’

My body and soul long to return to many of the places I have visited over the years. Their streets, their landmarks, somehow familiar although never quite “home”. I ache to take my husband, my children, to see with their own eyes these sites that are “my own” to make them theirs too.

“[T]he aftermath and beauty of dividing your heart and leaving it in infinite places.” 

This is the beauty of being #athomeintheworld. 

I challenge you to take a peek into Tsh Oxenreider’s At Home in the World and not find yourself transported to another place while you find yourself tucked into the warm blankets on your bed, sprawled out on the warm grass in the sunshine, or speeding along on the musty metro to your job. It will incite wanderlust, either sparking movement to research flight information to that next city on your bucket list, or take you within the realm of your imagination, compelling you to revisit some of those seemingly far off places you’ve travelled once before that, in truth, aren’t all that far off. It’s an adventure to read. And its a compelling inspiration to find adventure of your own, personally or with your favorite travel companions.

 

{All quotes taken from Tsh’s book, At Home in the World. Also! For a further sneak peek into her book, Tsh offers a chapter from the audio version of her book on her podcast. Links within this post are affiliate links. By clicking through, I get a tiny portion of the proceeds–thank you!}

 

Never a Waste

 

I found myself earlier in the week running around, completing some last minute tasks for the upcoming holiday this weekend, as I’m wont to do as one approaches.

I had pulled together a few things here and there that I wanted to send to my brother in Michigan who lives there during law school, and won’t be with us to celebrate Easter on Sunday. I filled a little bag to carry the things with me to the post office, with the intention of picking out a flat rate priority mail box upon arrival to package the items in.

We had received something earlier in the week from a family member in such a box that looked like it would be an appropriate size for my things, so I went in search of this item when we arrived. Lo and behold, no such thing existed, at least not in our little town post office. There were only three choices: the first was about as small as a regular-sized novel, so way too thin for my purposes; the second, about the size of two large shoe boxes put together, about twice as big as I needed; and never mind the third.

Since I had no other packaging options with me other than what was available to me at the post office, and my children were already entering into the noontime melt-down stage, I hurriedly looked at the boxes available for sale. The smallest was still too large, but, at least, this one could be altered.

I went to work loading the box, then cut the sides down so that it would fit nicely against the objects in the box as I had nothing to fill in the empty space with. A slice here, a bend there, I finagled the edges down to close the box. I taped it shut, placed my label on top {again, searching to the bottom of my purse for a suitable scrap of paper to write on as these provided nothing for addressing}, and shuffled the children along with me to get in line.

When it was our turn, I informed the post man I would need to pay for the box too, in addition to postage. He paused for about five seconds, looking at the box puzzled, then remarked that he didn’t recognize the box, at first, as something they sold for I had cut it down.

He then asked, “Do you stay at home with your children? Are you a housewife?”

“Yes?” It was now my turn to be puzzled.

“Well, that certainly is a waste! Look at what you’ve done here! So smart!”

I was a bit taken aback by the remark, so I gave an awkward chuckle, paid for my things, and moved on.

But his remark stuck with me as I drove home. I ruminated on it and after a few minutes realized just how mistaken his comment had been.

*******

Being a mother and housewife, gives me ample opportunity to practice these very skills he was so impressed by. Sure, they could come in handy aiding in professional work, but they are no less useful at home taking care of my family. I’m content to be resourceful. I’m happy to find suitable substitutions when exactly what I need is not available. I’m glad to be able to adjust mathematical proportions when they are not satisfactory for the task at hand.

And why should I not employ some of my best skills at the service of my family that I love dearly?

It is unfortunate that caring for others, especially those most helpless in society, is seen as a profitless endeavor. The eyes of the world mistake what in life is really most important. The raising and nurturing of souls entrusted to my care is the most important work of my life. I want to give the best of myself right here.

I would not walk away from this interaction discouraged, however. Instead, it gave me great resolve to continue bettering my skills, my intellect, to more excellently serve my family at home.

*******

Today, I finished a book about Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha {Patsy} Jefferson Randolph, called America’s First Daughter. Although a work of fiction, it gave some excellent historical insight into the influence of this grand woman on her father’s legacy. As her mother died when Patsy was young, she took on the matriarchal role of the family, including serving as Jefferson’s “First Daughter” when he was serving in public office positions, at home and abroad. Her father supported her education, in both homemaking and intellectual pursuits, which left her with quite a useful set of skills in managing a household while educating and raising her own children. She was never employed in a profession, but her concealed work within the heart of the family, the influence of which sometimes stretched out into public affairs, had a huge impact on the work and authority of Mr. Jefferson. {And did I mention she raised twelve children, many of which went on to live illustrious lives?}

This book reminded me that an education is never “wasted” even if you are not employing what you have learned outside the home. A family, a household is the basic cell of society. What is happening within it has a greater influence, ultimately, on society at large than any work that is happening in a professional environment. My mind, my skills are not “wasted” on the concerns of my family and home.

Homemaking and raising children may not be acknowledged as professional endeavors but it is some of the most important work that I, or anyone, will ever engage in. Let’s not demean it, nor shame the women and men who undertake this often hidden and thankless task with great enthusiasm, giving much of their best in domestic tasks to those who need them most.

 

Year in Review – 2016

My blogging has been sporadic and sparse this year. Much happening with my family and not a whole lot of time to sit down and type out words, even though I have many bouncing around in my head to share.

So, although, I had planned on this being a ’12 in 12 photos’ post, it has turned into more. A quick recap of the year in photos and a few words.

Here’s to 2016. You were good to us.

January

Carmel beach - Jan 2016

Carmel Mission - Jan 2016

wall of water - Jan 2016

jelly fish - Jan 2016

walk for life - Jan 2016

ferry building SF - Jan 2016

We took our annual trip to Carmel and Monterey to visit the Aquarium for Homeschool Days. End of the month had us traveling down to San Francisco for the Walk for Life and a quick weekend getaway in the city.

 

February

Valentine kisses - Feb 2016

top of the Space Needle - Feb 2016

dsc00593

tea in Victoria - Feb 2016

tiny photographer Victoria - Feb 2016

Princess Evey - Feb 2016

We attended a Valentine’s party at a friend’s house where she had a great photo prop wall set up — Lucie was hamming it up! We went to Seattle {part one and part two} and Victoria, BC as a family, where Steve was quietly taking the Washington State Bar Exam {he passed!}. We loved the Pacific Northwest and hope to travel there again soon. The girls’ cousin, Rosie, celebrated her birthday with a tea party towards the end of the month, and the girls loved dressing up for the occasion.

 

March

exploring water - March 2016

Blessed is She retreat - March 2016

Candy Land - March 2016

Easter - March 2016

petting baby chicks - May 2016

The Fountains - March 2016

Post rain walks were a huge hit this month for watching leaves and sticks float down the runoff. I went to a Blessed is She retreat in Phoenix — my first time away from the girls for a weekend — and had wonderful, much-needed quiet time with the Lord and good friends. Evey learned her first board game, Candyland, on my childhood game board. Easter was a beautiful day with family {and chickens!}. And there was twinning at the Fountains.

 

April

bouquets to art - April 2016

tea at the palm court SF - April 2016

garden helper - April 2016

morning popsicles - April 2016

first time bowling - April 2016

swearing into the Bar - May 2016

I went with a mom and friend to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, followed by high tea at the Palace Hotel. My little helpers got us going on our garden. It was hot enough to eat popsicles for morning snack by the end of the month. The girls had a blast during their first bowling trip. And the greatest highlight of the month was watching Steve get sworn into the Washington Bar at my parents’ house by a good friend of my mother.

 

May

 

capital crew - May 2016

pencil behind ear - May 2016

family photo - May 2016

eating strawberries from the patch - May 2016

riding with lettuce - May 2016

Evey's tomato plant - May 2016

dancing for great grandma - May 2016

May snow play - May 2016

I watched my brother, Raphael, in the Southwest Junior Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma. Morning cutie with a pencil in her ear. A gathering at my parents’ house had everyone in attendance. More gardening {lots of strawberries and lettuce!}.  Evelyn enjoyed working with her tomato plant housed in it’s own special red cage. We celebrated Great-Grandma, AM’s “39th” birthday again. It was still cold enough for some snow to be on the ground at the cabin!

 

June

water play - June 2016

holding a ladybug - June 2016

running together - June 2016

hula hooping - June 2016

Golden Gate Bridge SF - June 2016

playing xylophone - June 2016

hiding in a tree SF - June 2016

at the beach in Santa Cruz - June 2016

Santa Cruz beach - June 2016

chillin in the sand chair - June 2016

daddy's day - June 2016

carrots and chard from our garden - June 2016

corn tassels - June 2016

strawberries from the garden - June 2016

birthday girl - June 2016

Water play began this month and we spent a large part of the summer splashing in that little pool. A trip to the cabin involved a little hike where Lucie found her favorite–a ladybug–and Evey enjoyed running with Jed. I took the girls to Children’s Discovery Museum in Sausalito and we had a blast exploring all day. Father’s Day weekend found us in Santa Cruz, spending ample time at the beach and checking out the “little red lighthouse” {a great discovery due to this book}. Wonderful summer produce from our garden! And a little someone celebrated her second birthday at the end of the month.

 

July

examining flowers - July 2016

all american - July 2016

parade time - July 2016

pretend photos - July 2016

sitting on the dock - July 2016

hammock time with daddy - July 2016

swinging fun - July 2016

Serene Lakes parade - July 2016

first fish! - July 2016

blowing seeds to the wind - July 2016

flower child - July 2016

camping hike - July 2016

Evey photog - July 2016

first ferris wheel ride - July 2016

A busy, wonderful month full of much exploration! We spent a week at the cabin to celebrate the 4th of July — lots of fun with family! Then, we hopped over to the coast to spend the following weekend at Gerstle Cove State Park to camp with our dear friends, Evelyn’s godparents. And finally closed off the month with a trip to the California State Fair where Evelyn got to go on her first ferris wheel ride {worth the hour+ standing in the blazing sun!}.

 

August

blowing bubbles - Aug 2016

fishing together - Aug 2016

our sunflowers - Aug 2016

SLO beach - Aug 2016

catching seeds - Aug 2016

hanging with my girls - Aug 2016

Winding down the summer with one more trip to the cabin for bubble blowing and fishing. We grew some beautiful multi-colored sunflowers in our garden which often graced my kitchen window. I ran away to SLO with my sis-in-laws for a weekend away complete with a requisite trip to the beach. Evelyn loved pulling the seeds from the cornflower seed pods to store away for next year. Hamming it up as we say goodbye to summer!

 

September

playing in the yard - Sept 2016

BIS retreat - Sept 2016

knit hat - Sept 2016

cheers in Sac! - Sept 2016

camping dirt play - Sept 2016

large painting - Sept 2016

play dough play - Sept 2016

writing her name - Sept 2016

going up the slide - Sept 2016

Dwindling summer evenings at the Labor Day BBQ. I went on retreat with my Blessed is She writer team in Minnesota/Wisconsin for a weekend–so wonderful to meet many bright faces I had only interacted with online before. Knit up this lovely hat for myself with Ginny’s yarn and my first pattern from Making Magazine.  Happy Hour during an overnight in Sacramento. Off to our last camping trip of the summer at the Calaveras Big Trees with Gram and Pumpkin where Lucie got as dirty as she possible could. Many great activities from our Homegrown Preschooler curriculum this autumn, including BIG painting, homemade play dough, and writing our name! We took Daddy with us to explore Fairy Tale Town on a rare day off.

 

October

Seattle date - Oct 2016

Multnomah Falls - Oct 2016

rain play - Oct 2016

playing in the rain - Oct 2016

first fair isle - Oct 2016

circus - Oct 2016

pumpkin patch - Oct 2016

explode the code - Oct 2016

Apple Hill - Oct 2016

apple picking - Oct 2016

Halloween - Oct 2016

Steve and I got away for a long weekend to Portland, a place neither of us had been before. {Our first weekend away since having the girls!} Much needed rain for California didn’t stop us from going outside–a different kind of water play from the summer, but so fun! I finished my first Fair Isle hat–a sweet little cap for Evelyn–with my favorite new yarn from Quince & Co. that I picked up in Portland. Evey’s wish came true and we went to the circus after I won tickets to a show! A pumpkin patch, of course! Evelyn completed her first school workbook. Fall just wouldn’t be fall without a trip Apple Hill, enjoying the colors of the season, as well as apple picking {and eating} in our nearby orchard. And rounded out the month with Halloween and a reappearance of Anna and Elsa.

 

November

hiking with uncles - Nov 2016

Veterans day parade - Nov 2016

backyard bonfire - Nov 2016

train museum - Nov 2016

turning 4! - Nov 2016

cousins holding cousins - Nov 2016

crazy faces - Nov 2016

digging out - Nov 2016

building a snowman - Nov 2016

cracking eggs - Nov 2016

building together - Nov 2016

knitting - Nov 2016

thanksgiving tree - Nov 2016

Thanksgiving - Nov 2016

A final trip of the season with uncles to Apple Hill. Joining in the local Veterans’ Day parade. A backyard bonfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. A trip to the train museum in Sacramento to celebrate Evelyn turning 4. Lucie enjoyed holding her newest cousin, Zachary. Headed up to the cabin for the first big snowfall of the season. Steve did an excellent job digging us out. And we made a fantastic snowman. Our resident egg cracker. A moment of working together that doesn’t happen too often. Lots of Christmas gift knitting. Our family thanksgiving tree. And Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

 

December

Advent candles - Dec 2016

counting gingerbread buttons - Dec 2016

Advent calendar - Dec 2016

Christmas crackers - Dec 2016

mama quiet time - Dec 2016

SF store windows at Christmas - Dec 2016

decorating Christmas cookies - Dec 2016

cutting out gingerbread - Dec 2016

decorating cookies - Dec 2016

fallen Christmas tree - Dec 2016

fancy dinner - Dec 2016

Nutcracker - Dec 2016

first quilt

snuggling with Gram - Dec 2016

sledding with Pumpkin - Dec 2016

Evey skiing - Dec 2016

Christmas chaos - Dec 2016

dad's new hat - Dec 2016

Christmas morning donuts - Dec 2016

Christmas breakfast - Dec 2016

doll house play - Dec 2016

Christmas girls - Dec 2016

Christmas napping - Dec 2016

Lot’s of great things this month! We dove into Advent with gusto, but fell off a bit when I got sick. The girls enjoyed the Advent calendars and a look at celebrations from places around the world, while I got to dive in deeply with BiS’s Advent journal. We took a trip to San Francisco to take a peek at the magical displays in the storefront windows. Many cookies were made and decorated. Our tree fell over {but we repositioned the bottom to stay in the stand better and had no further accidents}. On the eve of Christmas Eve we went out for a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and to the Nutcracker at the Sacramento Ballet. I completed my first quilt, a gift for my brother, Dominic. We had a Christmas weekend at the cabin, complete with lots of snow fun! And a Christmas celebration at my parents’ that involved deep sea diving in wrapping paper by the young ones. My dad sporting his newly knit hat! Christmas morning was quiet and wonderful. And Lucie snuck in plenty of naps during the holidays!

 

Wishing one and all a Happy New Year 2017!

Thanks for taking this look back with me!

A Slew of Random Thoughts to End the Week

Quick post to end a long week.

1. We finally have RAIN here. Its been coming off and on all week and we’re due for more into the weekend. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal to most but this drought here in California has us so parched. We appreciate every drop that falls.

skipping in the gutter

2. I’m planning and scheming for Christmas, full-steam ahead. Partly, this was inspired by the fact I like to craft some gifts for Christmas and it takes time to make them, but I’m also eager to get all my shopping done before Advent starts. It always seems to sneak up on me. We’ve purchased big gift for the girls, and I’m eager to see their faces Christmas morning. {That is one downside to shopping so early — I have to wait soooo long to gift them! And I’m more excited about the gift-giving than receiving.}

crockpot apple butter

3. My eldest is all-in with learning to use scissors. Although, her idea of using scissors is cutting up paper into the tiniest, little scraps so that it looks like a confetti party has happened in my kitchen. I’m trying to go with the flow, but it has me wigging out some days when I’m trying to get dinner on the table in the midst of a confetti mountain.

playing in the leaves

4. This autumn season has been full of squash recipes. This one and one from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More {it involves sriracha and pesto so it is automatically my husband’s favorite} have been on repeat. {You guys, if you want more inspiration in the vegetable cooking department, either this one or his first–Plenty–are absolute necessities on your cookbook shelf.}

stuffed honeynut squash

5. Poor Lulu has had a cold for about a week now that is persisting on staying in her head. I so wish I could pull out the Sudafed for her. We’ve been attempting treatments with the humidifier during rest time and nighttime, and Vick’s on her chest too. We had one evening of croup cough and it was excruciating to hear her suffering so. I hope it lifts soon.

sleeping Lulu

6. Halloween is on the horizon. Evelyn is planning on dressing in Elsa costume that I made her last year. We were thinking Lucie would wear what she calls her “ladybug dress” {it’s red with black polka dots}, but now she’s expressing interest in wearing her Anna costume again too. We’ll just go with flow. In the interest of keeping too much candy out of our house, I purchased Goldfish snacks to hand out to our trick-or-treaters. For two reasons: they were a HUGE hit last year with the neighborhood and if we’re stuck with extras, I’d rather be able to give whatever it is to the girls as a snack, not have to throw it in the trash.

fall dinner

7. Evelyn’s birthday is coming up in about two weeks. Her birthday party is next weekend. She chose a Paddington Bear theme, but it has been nearly impossible to find Paddington things in the United States. There is no way I’m paying $20 in shipping from the UK to have paper plates and cups for the party. I found some cute Paddington fabric so I’ll be making some bunting with it. I’ve ordered a couple Paddingtons on ebay to use. If anyone has any other ideas, besides just using blue, red, and yellow colored things to decorate, I’m all ears. We will be doing a luncheon tea.

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Have a great weekend!

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Apples to Apples

Outside my window: Saturated earth. Such a blessing here in this parched land. Over the past three days, we’ve had about 5 inches of rain come down and the earth hardly knows what do with it.

looking outside

Listening To: Finally a little bit of quiet after struggling for over an hour with getting the girls settled for their naps. They haven’t been good about going down lately, but the rainy days over the weekend made a change in that. The sun is back out today, though, and so are their indefatigable dispositions.

Clothing Myself In: I’m wrapped in one of my favorite sweaters I picked up at Anthropologie last year. {Don’t they have just the best sweaters??} It’s a sage color, knit all around and felted on the torso. It swings across and clasps at the shoulder. I made the extra effort of getting everyone dressed before lunch today. Quite the accomplishment, I tell you! 😉

Talking With My Children About These Books: So many great books to read this time of year! I’ll try to keep it short….

  • Lucie especially loves this book filled with poetic prose and beautiful pictures of this adventurous scarecrow.
  • This one hasn’t lost his fascination over the past few years and has been a great way to teach the lifecycle of the pumpkin so there are no hard feelings {at least in theory} when our jack o lanterns die at the end of the season.
  • This fairly new release we found at the library has the cutest illustrations and has been a hit for our highly imaginative, little one.
  • This sweet, sentimental story may have had me in tears at the end.
  • A great one to garner excitement for apple picking {although, that wasn’t necessary here}.

In My Own Reading: I recently finished A Gentleman in Moscow which I wrote a bit about here. I also quickly read through The Awakening of Miss Prim. It is next up to be discussed over at the Fountains of Carrots podcast — any day! — so get to reading before the spoilers come out! Just released today!

My knitting has been a distraction lately, so I haven’t picked anything up in about a week. But I’m about to commence reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven. It was recommended to me by my fellow historical fiction fan friend, Megan. She never steers me wrong. I’ve partly held off on starting it because it will mean having my nose stuck in a book for hours on end. I always get caught up deeply in those types of reads.

Thinking and Thinking: About the cooler weather and all the wonderful autumn and winter activities ahead of us. I definitely should search out one of those printable Fall activities you can find on Pinterest to keep us inspired. The girls are already begging to go up to the dusting of snow in the mountains. Pumpkin carving is happening this weekend.

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picking apples with daddy

Pondering:

St. Teresa of Avila’s feast day was this past Saturday. Funnily, I kept running across quotes of hers all day {and not in the expected places, like social media}. This prayer/poem of hers really touched me and is one I want to keep close.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: It’s hit or miss but we’re trying to get a routine to our mornings of “schoolwork” and chores, followed by a more relaxing afternoon. {Although, the afternoons have been anything but relaxing lately as my children are heavily protesting nap time…but need it.} We need a better wind-down routine in the evenings for everyone. Working on it.

sticker work

Creating By Hand: My knitting has really taken off. I’m enjoying trying different weight fibers, stretching myself with increasingly more difficult patterns. I’m working on my first adult socks. The pattern I chose was a bit more challenging than I probably should have with my first pair, but I’m getting through it. I’m about to the toe bed. I love the colors of the yarn.

sock knitting

Stephen and I took a trip {just the two of us — oh, the novelty!!} to Portland a little over a week ago. There was a yarn shop about two blocks from the place we were staying. Let’s just say, that was a huge danger for our bank account. I’ve been eyeing Quince and Co.‘s yarn online ever since I was introduced to it through Making Magazine a few months ago, and was pleasantly surprised to find they carried it at the shop in Portland. I came home with a huge bag of it.

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Evelyn already has a hat knit from their Lark line in Clay and Egret, which I started and finished in an evening. It was my first foray into Fair Isle and I’m very happy with the result. I’m about to start another for Steve in Quince’s Osprey. I also went out on a limb and purchased myself enough to make my first sweater from Chickadee in Malbec. I’m anxious to get it cast on.

Learning Lessons In: Making boundaries…and keeping them in charity.

Encouraging Learning In: All things apples. We travelled to Apple Hill during the week last week before the rain hit. We feasted on caramel apples, baked goods filled with apples and toted home 40 lbs of apples to make pies, applesauce, apple butter, and who knows what else. On Saturday morning, just as the drenching began, we took the girls to an orchard just a short way from our home so they could pick apples from the tree. This was Evelyn’s one wish for the apple season. Glad to see it fulfilled. Lucie enjoyed it just as much, and they were adorable munching those juicy orbs straight from the tree in the drizzling rainfall.

high hill ranch apple hill

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Today, we were working on patterns with some apple stickers. Later in the week, we’ll be stamping with apple halves, learning about the life cycle of apples, taste testing apples to choose our favorites, and there will certainly be some baking!

Crafting in the Kitchen: I spent about an hour this morning chopping up about 10 lbs of apples to make apple butter in the crockpot. I plan on canning most of it. There is another 40 lbs waiting by my front door to be turned into some sort of appley goodness over the next few weeks. Ideas anyone?

eating apples

To Be Fit and Happy: I really need to work on this. I begin something for a few days and quickly fall off. I’m just not motivated. I can’t find my groove. I’m thinking of signing on for Barre3 again and alternating that with my rowing machine for cardio. I really want to run, but it is so difficult to coordinate with Steve’s schedule going into the fall and winter months.

Loving the Moments: I’m really enjoying the curriculum that I’m working through with the girls. Yesterday, we did some apple graphing. There was also a trip to Apple Hill and Machado’s Orchards, near our house, last week for apple sweets and apple picking. We have some other apple activities this week, including stamping, pie baking, and taste testing different varieties for our favorites.

picking apples

Living the Liturgy: Looking forward to the feast of St. Pope John Paul II this Saturday. He’s one of my favorites, so we’ll be sure to celebrate him in style. Something with apples? 😉

I would really like to do something special for the Feast of All Saints this year, but also don’t quite have that figured out. Need some time to plan.

I’m greatly looking forward to Advent this year and trying really hard not to let it sneak up on me. I’m especially excited to work along with Blessed is She’s Advent journal this year and use the Jesse Tree cards once again.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Steve is switching to a new job mid-week, back to his longer commute, so we are gearing up for that change which affects the whole family dynamic. Hoping for a smooth transition and still plenty of time to enjoy together.

taking a leap

 

Also, linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along this week!

#write31days ~ day 7: our favorite autumn activities {7QT}

1. baking
It probably comes as no surprise that my favorite autumn activity is baking. In my food blogging days, I think my greatest collection of recipes was during the fall months. The spices used, the warm foods with the onset of cooler weather, the delight of turning the oven on when the house isn’t already a toasty 85 degrees.

rolling out dough

Here is a collection of some of my favorite autumn baking recipes:

pumpkin pecan scones
chai spiced granola
pumpkin gingerbread cookies
soft ginger cookies
mendicino pumpkin muffins
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies 
pumpkin crunch granola
coconut chai coffee cake
pumpkin protein bars
apple cider donuts
pumpkin spice donuts

2. Apple Hill
If you are not in close proximity to Apple Hill {or a place like it}, I’m sorry. There is nothing quite like this location of all-things-apple that affords you the ability to go apple picking, munch apple donuts dunked in a cup of warm, fresh cider, pull apart a gooey apple cinnamon roll or fritter, or sip a glass of cool, crisp cider {of the alcoholic variety}.

apple hill treats

It is an annual tradition we’ve been doing since I was a tot with my grandparents and are now passing on to the next generation.

{I’ve got a great collection of apple recipes for you here if you like that kind of thing. ;)}

apple picking

3. breaking out the warm drinks : alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike

I drink tea year-round, but the delight factor is turned up a notch of that first cup in the morning when you wake up to the chill of an autumn morning. The chai comes out more often too.

cloves

oranges and cloves

My husband has a knack for making some wonderful libations in the fall/winter months as well. He’s especially good with glühwein {mulled wine}, which we like to fill our thermos with and take on a walk through the golden, rouge leaves falling. 

In preparation for the holidays, we begin testing out our eggnog making skills. We can never get enough of this smooth drink.

4. pumpkin picking at a farm {or enjoying our homegrown ones!}
Of course, the fall wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a pumpkin patch or two! We like to visit Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in our area. There are so many great activities for the kids, including a trampoline covered in hay, a petting zoo, and a train that takes you on a tour around the farm. The hay ride out to the patch and back for your pumpkins is a huge highlight of the day.

pumpkin picking

This year, we grew some of our own pumpkins too which we are very excited to finally display {they’ve been chilling in the linen cupboard since early August due to mama’s too-early plantings}. We just took them out yesterday to add to the fall decor on our porch. It’s so much fun for the girls to see the pumpkins they grew from seed. They are very proud!

5. decorating
On a related vein, I can’t wait for the opportunity to pull out all the warm colored decor to sprinkle all over the house. Our resident porch scarecrow is a favorite, and we enjoy picking out various squash, gourds, and Indian corn for a natural display at home.

porch scarecrow with pumpkins

6. hiking
We are fortunate to live in an area with hiking trails aplenty. Fall is my favorite time of the year to go meandering through the hills, observing the changes of the season.

hiking on the trail

taking a walk

7. watching fall sports : futbol and football

Both Steve and I were soccer players growing and intend to introduce our daughters to league play when they are old enough. {If they decide to take it to the next level will be determined by their interest.} The family enjoys going out to watch other family members play. This year our nephew is playing and being coached by his dad and uncle. We watched his first game a few weeks ago.

We are fortunate to have FC that started her a few years ago, the Sacramento Republic FC. Steve went with a few of my brothers to watch one of their first games, and we’re hoping to go together soon on a date night.

College football viewing runs deep on both sides of the family, with the biggest rooting happening behind USC, Stanford, and Notre Dame. It makes for some exciting Saturdays during these fall months.

playing in the leaves

 

What are some of your favorite autumn activities? 

{Linking up with Kelly this week over at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Go there for more of 7QT!}

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