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Category Archives: Parenting

A Special Breakfast

For quite some time, Evelyn has had an interest in making food. Her mama has done a great job including her when time and complexity of the meals allow. If she ends up being able to cook half as good as Laurel, my prospects of keeping off the weight I just lost is slim to none (sorry, bad pun).

As you can see, Evelyn has baked muffins:

And pizza:

However, now, it’s my turn! I often make breakfast for everyone on the weekends when I’m home from work. Recently, Evelyn has asked to participate. Now we’ve done it together enough that she knows the routine. In fact, she’s ready for her own cooking show. Well, that gave me an idea!

 

Gathering My Thoughts : {Summer Play}

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strawberries

Outside my window: Plants to be watered. I’m procrastinating a bit this morning on getting outside and watering my garden but I’ll regret it if I do for too long. It’s going to be a hot one.

Listening To: Good ol’ Bebo. He’s one of our go-tos for inspirational music and a good jam.

Clothing Myself In: Comfy clothes. I slept about 4 hours last night and I have no desire to get out of clothes that I would happily fall back asleep in. Hoping for simultaneous naps this afternoon….a great joy of motherhood.

abacus fun

building blocks

fun with daddy

Talking With My Children About These Books: We have an annual favorite we get every summer: Elisha Cooper’s Beach. The beautiful watercolor pictures and descriptions of a day at the beach help relieve that itch when you can’t visit.

In My Own Reading: Just finished Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Still processing but hoping to get a post up soon on my thoughts regarding vulnerability and shame {the topic of her book}. Next up on the book shelf: The Man of Villa Tevere by Pilar Urbano and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Steve just finished the former. It’s a biography about St. Josemaria Escriva. He said it was one of the best books he’s read in a while so it’s made its way to the top of my stack of to-reads. The latter is Rubin’s latest about developing good habits in our lives and how to do that well. I’ve enjoyed her books, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She has some great insight into having a positive outlook on life and living one’s life intentionally. Stay tuned for a review of her latest.

Thinking and Thinking: About how quickly this summer is passing us by!

Pondering: 

“Anyone who can casually discuss tearing children to shreds while having lunch and a good cabernet is a victim of the father of lies. Anyone who thinks that divvying up murdered bodies does “a little bit of extra good” is a captive subject of the dictatorship of relativism. This video reminds me that anyone who traffics in abortion loses a vital and beautiful spark of humanity. Evil coarsens us and deadens us—robs us of the freedom life offers.”

“This week’s video put a human face on the power of the culture of death. Let us pray for those who promote and support the abortion industry. Let us pray that they might experience conversion. Let us pray that they might know mercy and freedom. Let us pray that through Jesus Christ, who came to the world as an unborn child, every abortionist might rediscover the dignity, the joy, and the beauty of humanity.”

Great thoughts by Bishop James Conley reminding us of the power and importance of prayer for those who are ensnared by the Culture of Death so prevalent in our society. Let us pray for their release from the darkness.

bubble

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: The warm days have us running outside first thing in the morning for some fresh air. There is a slowness to the mornings which I’m really savoring. I usually try to get a few things done in the garden while they bike and dig in the dirt. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk usually make an appearance too.

Creating By Hand: I bought some yarn for a project that will be a gift this Fall. I haven’t done any knitting projects since last winter. It’s kind of a seasonal habit for me. Time to start thinking of warmer clothes and cooler seasons.

leaf

Learning Lessons In: Parenting an extrovert. Until our sweet Lucie came along, we were a family of introverts. 😉 She has such a strong need for interaction with others that goes beyond my comfort zone, BUT is so good for me. There are so many people we end up chatting with that we otherwise would probably have walked past because she reaches out to all that pass her by. Her need for exploration is strong, so I have to be extra vigilant about dangers to her, but I love watching her venture out. Her exuberance is a delight…and a challenge all in one! 🙂

Encouraging Learning In: Puzzle making–Evey’s absolute favorite pastime. We’ve graduated to 24 piece puzzles without a guide board and she’s fantastic at them. These petit puzzles by Petit Collage are her favorites. {And at $5 each, the price is right!} We also enjoy their floor puzzles and colorful alphabet flash cards.

farmers market haul

Crafting in the Kitchen: Weekly trips to the Farmers’ Market has yielded us an array of fresh produce to work with in the kitchen. I love supporting local farmers and enjoying such rich, flavorful food. We’re in peach and nectarine season currently. It’s been difficult holding onto enough for a pie or cobbler as the girls and I just want to munch them all up at lunchtime every day. Salads have been frequent here too as the warm weather is a strong deterrent for turning on any heat source in the kitchen. Our neighbor produces a wonderfully peppery arugula we purchase frequently.

To Be Fit and Happy: I managed two days of Barre3 last week. Hoping for three this week. There is a noticeable improvement to my energy and mental clarity on the days I dust off the cobwebs and get moving for even just 15 minutes. Gotta stay motivated.

fort!

Loving the Moments: Family time on the weekends. Our ability to indulge in time together has increased tenfold since Steve completed his Masters program, and I couldn’t be more grateful. {Love language–quality time–may have something to do with this.} This past weekend, Steve and I spent Saturday morning working on a project for a new business endeavor he’s attempting. Then, the afternoon with Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy swimming and enjoying dinner together. {So fun to have them closer now!} Sunday morning, we went to the State Fair in Sacramento. We enjoyed taking in a few exhibits before the sun began scorching us. Steve got a perfect hat for the hot weather that he’s been searching for for some time now. Evey and Lucie enjoyed visiting Smokey’s Safety area and learning all about fire safety. The rabbit, guinea pig, and fowl exhibit was a huge hit and we made it out without any fingers getting munched. And the kids’ play area with larger-than-life blocks was hard to pull them away from. Steve and I each enjoyed a beer at the craft brewery pavilion and meandered through the county exhibits while the girls slept in the stroller, gaining new ideas for places to explore nearby. Church and Sunday dinner together were a perfect ending to the {too short} weekend.

smokey the bear

smokey the bear

Evey fire truck

 

naptime explorations

Living the Liturgy: We are currently celebrating “Ordinary Time” in the Church’s calendar. I love this post by Laura Fanucci on 3 simple ways to celebrate Ordinary Time. Celebrating the hidden holiness of daily life. Summertime is a great time to just relax into the every day. Love it.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Cleaning and errands are the biggest things on the to-do list this week. {And that’s plenty!} We’re hoping to hit up Wee One Wednesdays in Roseville tomorrow. Storytime, art projects, and splash pad fun — all great things for some mid-week fun!

 

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Folding Napkins

Evelyn loves ‘helping’ me fold the laundry. She’s been at it since before she could walk.

Just recently, she’s actually been able to help me. 🙂 She’s responsible for folding the cloth napkins. She takes her job very seriously and works hard to fold each one just right. {Often, this also means keeping little sis from making a mess of her pile.} I am grateful for her help!

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

folding-napkins

Caring for Oneself

reading

I get the impression that moms are feeling a bit burnt out right now. Perhaps its the school year coming to a close and the prospect of the summer in front of them. Perhaps its arriving at the mid-point of the year and looking at all they’ve accomplished {or haven’t}.

Or nothing remotely related.

I’m feeling it. The overwhelm has been washing over me much too frequently these past few weeks. I’d like to blame it all on the hormones, but I think that is giving more credit than is due to those finicky things.

What it often comes down to, and what the conversation has been about on the Net this past week or so, is self-care.

Do you take enough time for it? What does finding time for self-care mean to you? I’ve been pondering these questions, trying to find solutions to the wave of overwhelm inundating my life lately.

 



exercising with a baby

The means of self-care is personal to each. As Jenny touched on here, an introvert’s version of self-care is going to look different from an extrovert’s version.

What works for other more extroverted moms, like my little sister and some of my best friends, doesn’t actually revitalize me. And just as I need to be sensitive to the fact that my sister dearest could literally interact with another human being endlessly, for all 24 hour in a day, and nearly die of happiness for it, I also need to acknowledge that I need a good 1-2 hours of silence every night after bedtime just to feel like I’m no longer suffocating.

Summer is a great time for renewing this endeavor. With freedom from some of the normal daily tasks, there is more of an opportunity to set aside time in the day for oneself. Elizabeth delves into that more deeply here.

Sometimes, I have to be reminded that not every need must be filled by me. The bone-tired feeling? That soul-crushing fatigue? Usually they are the symptoms of self-reliance. They mean I’ve tried to save the world instead of trusting that God can accomplish His will in my life and the lives of the people I love. I take on every need as my personal mission, and I neglect to seek God’s wisdom and direction in filling the needs around me. I am certain His plan is more prudent than the full-throttle assault that is my default.

 

We need to lower our standards when they are too high to achieve any margin in our lives for rest for ourselves. Colleen writes about that here.

I think it’s OK to do any of the following if I’m feeling so overburdened by life, I’m are not quite sure how to get out of bed: 

  • put the television on for the kids so I can drink a cup of coffee or run on the treadmill in peace,
  • let the house get messy so I can read a book or engage in another pleasant activity, 
  • or scrap all the housework and put the kids in the car so I can go visit with a friend!

There are some days where it is just impossible. Sometimes we need to “fake it to make it” as Nell hints at here.

I’m not at my best. I look in the mirror and see the little kisses under my eyes called cosleepernumber3 and guiltily gave up sugar again as I was abusing it//turning to it for an afternoon pick up instead of a healthy snack//my clothing doesn’t fit like I’d like it to. But I can’t wait around for life to suddenly hand me a week of full-nights sleep, a personal trainer, and a chef. Instead, I’m determined to feel my best that I can be right now. 



There are ways to find time for ourselves. It is necessary for our well being and, dare I say, the well being of those in our charge. A burnt out mama makes for a burnt out family for a mother is truly the heart of the home.

As mothers, it’s easy to play the martyr sometimes. We tell ourselves that our children need us. We must be everything to everyone. But this is just not sustainable. We are not God. We must not play Him. {And, hey, even He rested on the seventh day.}

There are other wonderful people in our children’s lives and we must give them the opportunity to love on them as well. An engaging activity that distracts the kids while you compose yourself with a warm cup of tea and a chapter or two of a good novel is a good alternative too.

knitting and tea

Sometimes we need to step away so that we can be a better caregiver and nurturer when we are on duty  for them.



I’m working to take all of this to heart myself. I like to care for others — but I’m not good at being the one taken care of. Really, though, isn’t this selfish? How are others to practice charity if another does not accept their charity when it is given?

I maintained the unhealthy thought for a while that I could just keep pressing forward no matter how I was feeling. Always. If I was tired, I just needed to suck it up. Someone else’s need surpassed my need to rest. If I felt touched out, too bad, that little person needed to be held by me. If I was hungry, I could wait…and wait…and wait. Until I was so hungry, I was bursting at the smallest thing.

My patience for anything and everything just starts to go right out the window when I fail to take time for myself. I am learning this.

And I am learning how to make it happen.

Is making time for self-care difficult for you? How can you make it better happen in your life? I’d like to continue this conversation so I’ll be writing a follow up post soon about how we can. 

Moments ~ {Vol. 8}

outdoor play

Lots of time outside during these beautiful Spring days. Evelyn draws, Lucie observes.

rosebuds

We have a single rosebush on our backyard fence. It is very stingy with the roses. It produced twice as much this year and this is half of them.

static hair on the slide

Her hair is the perfect length for the static look after coming down the twirly slide at the park. 😉

coldstone

Summer-like weather one day had us out searching for the biggest ice cream treat. Success.

picnic lunch

Picnic weather!

strawberries!

Need to work on that “talking with our mouth full of food” thing…. 😉

whipped cream!

My daughter possibly loves strawberries more than I do. Is that even possible?!?!

inspecting her hands

“What is this strange stuff on my hands??”

stamping

Fantastic thrift store find. She’s all about stamps right now.

winnie the pooh puzzle

And puzzles. She sits for hours most days working on them.

new york puzzle

Her taxi one we picked up in New York. So proud!

watching the rowers

My youngest brother participated in the Southwest Regional Rowing Championships this past weekend. We enjoyed watching and wading in the warm water.

beach babe

Those rocks were great for sifting through her fingers. Over and over and over….

bean bag love

She had never encountered a bean bag chair before but we happened upon this one at the used kids’ clothing store in town. She carried it over to me and said, “There’s something in here, mom,” very concerned look on her face. I had to explain that it was like a big pillow and it was filled with things to make it soft for sitting on. Next thing I know, I come around the corner and find her like this. She understood. 🙂
fun with friends

We celebrated a good friend’s birthday this week with a gathering of wonderful faces that we love to see.

 

 

happy birthday matt

His wife made a delicious ice cream cake with funfetti cake and butterfinger ice cream per his request. It was a great combo!

 

blowing out the candles

Happy birthday, Matt!

They Are People Too

traveling by plane

Traveling across country with two children this past weekend was an eye-opening experience. Not because of the difficulties inherent in the process {we were anticipating those}, but because of the imposed stigma of society as we dared to travel with our young children.

Apparently, it’s not something our culture really approves of.

An article published this morning by Verily addresses this issue of the disgust many in society aim at parents and their progeny as they integrate themselves in the normal routines of daily life.

“Simple things like parents with young children being allowed to board a plane first so that their babies don’t have meltdowns in long queues are not signs that society is valuing parents more highly than anyone else, it’s just an acknowledgment that parents have different needs and that children are worthy of participating in society.”

We actually weren’t allowed to board first. We asked; it didn’t happen. Those needs weren’t acknowledged, or at best, were brushed aside. The elderly and handicapped were allowed to board first, but then those who had paid extra {about half the plane} were allowed on before we could go through the gate.

It seems common sense to me to let young children and their guardians board early as it takes more time for us to move through the process. Isn’t that why they allow elderly and handicapped through first too? Truly, I’m expecting them to be brushed aside as well.

Making money will become the ultimate motivator, not quality service for those they serve. Not seeing to the best for every customer based on his or her individual needs. That will be subsumed by the wants of the whole and only be allowed if they agree to it. Those who will be first will be the ones who paid for it because money can buy happiness if it comes in the form of boarding a plane five minutes earlier than everyone else.

I won’t even go into the sideways glances we received while attempting to bring babies onto the plane. The How dare you impose your child’s noise on me? looks. I’m sorry, I don’t appreciate your loud snoring as you rest either but that doesn’t disqualify you from riding on a plane.

There were also many sideways glances as we walked down busy city streets. Many comments that implied, Why would you subject yourselves to such an endeavor? 

Perhaps because we are hoping to instill a love of travel in them just as we do. Perhaps because we love to spend time with them and want to do so whenever possible. Perhaps because we want them to be able to delight in the joy of meeting new people, adventuring in new places.

The baby spent most awake moments in her stroller squealing with delight as we passed people on the sidewalk, trying to capture their attention. She likes people. She likes to be outside. Sure, walking is slower with a stroller. It takes longer to get places. It is often more cumbersome. But should I deprive them of the joy of the journey because it is more difficult?

The toddler was beside herself meeting the REAL Winnie the Pooh, her favorite character on the planet. She beamed from ear-to-ear as her daddy held her and read her whatever books she chose off the seemingly endless rows of books in the massive library collection. {MUCH larger than anything we have at home.}

We couldn’t make it to as many things as we would have on our own but we delighted in the few things that we could.

 

The reason we were traveling was to attend the wedding of friends. I arrived early with the girls to find a good spot near the side toward the back so I could make a quick getaway to the vestibule if needed. But as we were sitting there, the priest officiating came up to me and said, “Babies cry. Don’t feel ashamed if your baby is crying. You don’t need to leave.” He joked, too, saying, “Please do find out what is wrong if the baby is crying because that is why the child cries is to let you know something is wrong. But don’t ever feel ashamed that your child is crying because that is what babies do.”

And you know what? Despite my littlest trying to sing along every time the choir broke into song, I didn’t feel the need to leave because he made me feel like my child being there was just as important as every person there.

I pray the tides turn and more people come to realize that our little persons are important people too.

Lucie at 8 months ~ Evelyn at 2 years, 4 months

smiles

We’ve had a wonderfully, adventurous month with Lucie.

in a basket

She’s in that stage of exploring EVERYTHING. Nothing is safe!

rollin' rollin'

I think I missed a 7 month update, but she’s been crawling for about a month now. Faster every day. She started moving across the floor with a quick roll-over trick, rivaling that of her Uncle Ethan who did the same, moved to a modified army crawl, then up onto the hands and knees over the course of several weeks. She definitely wants to keep up with her older sister.

pulling up

Oh, and did I mention she’s pulling up on things? That didn’t take long.

Her favorite place to get up is on the edge of Evelyn’s bed. It’s the perfect height for her to stand.

gleeLucie joins a family of music-lovers. One of her favorite activities is bobbing her head along to the tune. Up and down, side-to-side…against a wall. Yeah, we’re trying to stop that one.

doorstop music

She’s a music-maker herself, having found the delightful instrument, otherwise known as the doorstop. Evelyn likes to participate in this too. I’m not sure whether I prefer this or loud banging on the same note of the xylophone repeatedly. Too soon for piano lessons?

Lucie is a bit of a thumb-chewer. Although, not to comfort herself to sleep, much to my chagrin. She also likes to pinch those cheerios and get them into our mouth. Peas too. She’s looking to be a lefty like her daddy.

toy in the mouth

We joke that she’s our puppy because she likes to lick toes and legs, chew on furniture and the carpet, grab with both her hands and legs when she’s on her back, carry around toys in her mouth, and likes a good tummy rub. That’s good because I don’t have the stamina to deal with a pet right now too. 😉

She’s inherited the tall genes in the family. Already in 12 months clothes and moving swiftly to the next. I’m never sure what size to get her for the following season!

yummy yogurt

We finally got a hang of eating solids. She was having difficulty swallowing — kept pushing food back out with her tongue. But the night she did, it was like a lightbulb moment, and she wanted to eat ALL OF THE YOGURT in the house. It has made a small change for the good in her sleeping abilities. She’s been easier to get down at night. Although, she is still waking up multiple times throughout the night, but now we’ve got more teeth coming in so that is likely the culprit.


 

Evelyn

Evelyn is both very serious and a complete jokester. She hangs onto bad things that have happened to her and revisits them frequently. We try to reassure her that she’s okay and the event is done, but she still wants to talk about it. She’s convinced that any noise outside is “people on the roof” but she’s quick to be reassured that it is just a car door slamming or someone driving by with loud music. It’s slightly funny.

On the other hand, she loves to play tricks on us when we least expect it! And laughs and laughs! She likes to pretend she’s going to hand you something and as soon as you go to grab it, she pulls it away. And if anyone is changing or lacking a piece of clothing, that bare skin deserves a tickling which she takes care of promptly with a little devilish squeal of glee.

love to laugh!She’s the sweetest girl. She’s constantly telling us that she loves us, which just about melts my mama heart. She wraps her little arms around my neck and gives me squeezes, softly saying it into my ear.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.58.23 AM

Ever by her side: her good friend, Winnie the Pooh.

reading with Meg

She loves to “read” and be read to. She’ll sit for an hour or more, pouring through books.

E painting She’s also really into coloring pictures and painting. We keep her activity table covered with a piece of butcher paper that she can draw on at any time.

creating

I love to see what combo of colors and shapes she comes up with. She’s beginning to pretend that she’s writing ABCs with little squiggles. Too cute! I love to see her creativity.

forts

She’s a big fan of forts. Making them with Daddy is the best! She tries to make them with Lucie by throwing a blanket over their heads, which Lucie puts up with for about 3.4 seconds and then is off again.

choo choo rides

Her obsession with trains is still going strong. Her favorite mornings are ones where we take Daddy to the choo-choo. {Never mind that we have to be up by 5:45 to do so!} Real, live ones are the best! When we pick him up in the evening, she’ll talk about how the train has to put on his jammies, brush his teeth, and get into bed. Anthropomorphism in trains may have come watching a few too many episodes of Chuggington. 😉

with daddy

One of her favorite moments of the day is when Daddy comes home and she gets to sit on his tummy and “talk.” She tells him all about her day. It’s fun to see what she considers highlights of her day. It usually involves trains and treats, and the fact that “Jesus loves me”. <3

gardening

She loves to help out at the grocery, loading the cart with me and handing the checker as many items as she can out of it. She also loves to “garden”. She digs and digs, planting “corn” {sometimes with “sparkles”} while I’m outside working. She’s become rather angry with me f0r pulling out weeds at times, as she believes it is her “corn.”

jump!

She really loves to jump. That includes off of dangerous, unstable surfaces — upturned baskets, her rocking horse, piles of pillows. Her bed is probably the safest spot for her, but not so for her sister who is usually sitting or standing right at the bottom. #sisterproblems

twirling

Ballet classes are still a highlight of the week for her. She’s got most of the basic moves down pat so we might be moving onto more structured lessons soon. It’s been wonderful to see her blossom into more of a leader in the class over the past month or so. We practice all the dances frequently at home. 🙂


 

photo 5 (7)

I love watching these two grow together. They love each other dearly.

swinging sisters

We caught Lucie feeding Evey Cheerios at breakfast this morning, and it was just about the sweetest thing to witness.

hugs

They giggle and wrestle together all the time.

drumming together

Evelyn seems to read her sister’s cries better than I can, and Lucie cheers Evey when she’s having a rough time. I hope they stay best friends for life.

Books I Read in 2014 and Books to Read in 2015

readtilyoudrop

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

Read ’til you drop. That’s my motto and, apparently, I’ve  instilled it well in my daughter too. When I went in search of the books I had read this year to write this post, I was rather surprised at the number I got through. Then, I realized that most were read while I was sitting hugely pregnant with my second and I haven’t read much since then. So we’ll see how many I can actually get through this year. I have high hopes.

Read in 2014:

Novels

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – I picked this up because What Alice Forgot wasn’t available yet at the library. A quick read and definitely justifies why it vitally important that one is open and honest with one’s spouse.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – An interesting, quick-read novel about a woman who wakes up having forgotten the past 10 years of her life. Makes you think: Would you go back and do it differently?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – The topic of assisted suicide has been greatly discussed this year with Brittany Maynard’s social media presence about her decision to end her life. This novel addresses that topic on the side of pro.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – I loved her book, The Secret Life of Bees, so picked this up to read. I didn’t realize until later that this is work of historical fiction based on the life of Sarah Grimke. Interweaving the lives of a slave girl and her owner, it addresses the struggle for the ending of slavery and the abolition movement. Still not sure if I liked this one or her previous one better.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – This may be a young adult book but it was one of the best I read all year. Dealing with those facing serious illness as young people, it emphasizes the hope and joy that can still be found in this life even when you know your time {or the time of one you love} is short.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls – I, honestly, had to peek at the plot again as I couldn’t quite remember what this one was about. {Although, I think I read it in January so it’s been a while.} It’s a story of overcoming adversity and understanding how to cope and thrive despite the shortcomings of others in your life that negatively affect you. It was good, but not a favorite.

Historical

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert – This is a beautiful reflection on the life of our late and great pope. It is incredible all he did and the influence he had the years God gave him on this earth. Definitely recommend.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – A fantastic telling of this amazing crew from Washington. Historical tales can be dry but this one certainly wasn’t. Particularly good for those who have done crew themselves.

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd – This book was fun for this Francophile. It tells the story of fictional characters in the settings of historical events that happened in Paris over the years. Well-woven tale by the author.

Parenting/Education

Don’t Move the Muffin Tins: A Hands-Off Guide to Art for the Young Child by Bev Bos – Great ideas for hands-on projects with young children using things you probably already have in your home.

1,2,3…The Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers by Irene Van Der Zande – Picked this up after having it recommended for dealing with toddler independence but didn’t find it particularly helpful.

Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin – Read this before giving birth to my second and I am convinced it drastically helped me get through labor with its pain management recommendations. Highly recommended especially if you are aiming to achieve a medicine-free birth.

Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen – This was helpful for gathering ideas in how to educate without being didactic. I love Montesorri’s method and am hoping to incorporate it into our home education.

The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by Leila Lawler and David Clayton – Although I haven’t done much to implement what I’ve learned {that comes in 2015!}, this book has been revolutionary for me in considering how to bring Christ more into my home and life. Check out Leila’s blog with her daughters for more practical tips on running a Christ-centered home.

Self/Home/Family Improvement

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith – This isn’t exactly a didactic how to make your nest, but more a philosophy behind how to make your house a home even if you don’t have much money to make it happen. The author has mostly lived in rentals and has moved often so it was great to hear how and why it’s important even if it isn’t your place and you won’t be residing there for long.

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin – Another fun one by the author of The Happiness Project. She gives a lot of insight in ways to better improve your quality of life just by slight changes in attitude and habits.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Discovered this one through Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy and loved it. The book describes so well how habits are formed and how forming habits as a leader in those we lead can have great {or disastrous} consequences.

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider – I love Tsh’s blog so this was a must-read. Her experiences attempting to live simply in an ever-increasing complex world are both refreshing and inspiring.

Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage by Greg and Lisa Popcak – I read this first on my own and then Steve and I were working through it together. Really helpful in cementing your relationship on a firm foundation in the first few years. {And a good refresher later on.}

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell – I love Gladwell’s books and this one was no different. This book addresses how the sufferings and obstacles in this life can ultimately be great blessings when faced properly.

Memoirs

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen – Middle-aged memoir of the author. Probably more appropriate for someone in that age group, but good to read of things she would have done differently as a young woman.

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Nequist – Food memoirs are my favorite. So many special moments happen gathered around the table. The author shares some of her family’s memories connected to food and a collection of great recipes. For every woman who loves to love her family with food.

Cookbooks

One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot and More by Editors of Martha Stewart Living – We’re all about efficiency around here most days getting meals on the table so this book which tells how to get it all into one pot was a must. I’ve only done one recipe {and loved it} but I have quite a few others dog-eared for later.

Whole Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon – With several {maybe all} suffering from hypoglycemia in this household, having breakfast meals that have long staying power are essential. This has been a great resource for adding new recipes to the morning {and evening because who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?}. The author has a great blog too.

 

Hoping To Read in 2015:

Novels

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Historical

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

Parenting/Education

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen

The Temperament God Gave Your Kids by Art Bennett

A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting by Laura Kelly Fanucci

The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live by Kathy H. Lee

Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids by Gregory K. Popcak and Lisa Popcak

Self/Home/Family Improvement

Small Victories: Spotting Improbably Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

Open Heart, Open Home: The Hospitable Way to Make Others Feel Welcome and Wanted by Karen Burton Mains

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Memoirs

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulweiler

Cookbooks

Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson {Joy the Baker}

Delancey by Molly Wizenburg

Make It Ahead by Ina Garten

Date Night In: More Than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship by Ashley Rodriguez

The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens and Tips to Inspire Your Cooking by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand

Creativity

Hand-Lettering Ledger: A Practical Guide to Creating Serif, Script, Illustrated, Ornate and Other Totally Original Hand-Drawn Styles by Mary Kate McDevitt

Weekend Sewing: More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching by Heather Ross

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit and Crochet by Mags Kandis

What to Knit When You are Expecting by Nikki Van De Car

 

What’s on your list for the coming year? I would love your recommendations!

 

 

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I Ain’t No Monkey

Lucie had her first taste of food a few nights ago. Everyone is supposed to like bananas as their first food, right?

bananas first food

Well, Lucie thought, perhaps, we were serving her poison on a spoon. Not a fan.

bananas first food

bananas first food

Maybe if I feed it to myself?

bananas first food

Nope.

bananas first food

Toddler-Friendly Gingerbread House Alternative : Christmas Tree Cones

We enjoyed some quiet time this morning constructing cone Christmas trees. This is a fabulous way to do holiday frosting and sprinkles with toddlers. Because unless you have a gingerbread house that is as sturdy as bricks, I can see it becoming very frustrating for little hands. Those things make me frustrated, for heaven sakes.

cone tree decor

detail cone tree

I won’t include a tutorial on these because that would be silly. I will, however, suggest that you place a small amount of sprinkles in a separate container from what they came in if you don’t want the entire thing on the tree {or floor}. A small muffin tin worked perfectly for this.

muffin tin use!

cone trees

I don’t think she enjoyed herself one bit. 😉

cheesey!

Ever since her daddy told her that choo-choo was inside her birthday hat, anything that is conical has the potential for becoming a train tunnel. This was no exception.

choo choo cone

She’s telling me there’s a ‘choo-choo!’ here. 🙂

choo choo

Finished it off with a little gingerbread star that she happily decorated and munched on for her morning snack.

cookie decorating

gingerbread star

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