seven quick takes.


  1. In years past, I’ve done lots of canning and preserving at the end of the summer.  This year, I’m trying not to expect too much of myself in that department, so I’ve really only gotten around to the essentials: applesauce and giardinara. Those are the two things that we not only enjoy the most, but they’re also the ones that I’ve found are worth it to can yourself instead of just buying them.  NOTHING beats homemade applesauce, and I get super annoyed that it’s basically impossible to find store-bought giardinara without food coloring in it.  Seriously. Annoying.  Canning with a newborn is a tricky proposition, so I’m going to go ahead and call it a win for this year and moving on. I also made this apple cake, which is a whole lot easier and it’s cake, so it’s better than anything I could possibly can.
  2. Do you guys read Lori Harris’ blog?  Everything she writes has me nodding and muttering emphatic YESes at my computer screen, and this piece that she wrote on mercy was really amazing, I thought.  I put this one in my “Re-read often” folder.rectangle-upside-down-podcast-words_1_orig
  3. Speaking of Lori, she and four other women (including my sweet friend Shannon Evans), have started a podcast that’s pretty flippin’ fantastic.  It’s call Upside Down and it’s worth a listen.  They deal honestly and lovingly with tough issues that come with being Christ-followers.  It’s inspiring, funny, and real all at the same time.  If you’re into podcasts (or even if you’re not), put this one on your list.
  4. Where are you on the whole “leggings as pants” spectrum? I’m vaguely on the anti-leggings-as-pants side, but not so much that I couldn’t be convinced with a decent argument.  However, I’ve extremely pro-leggings when it comes to turning summer dresses into fall and winter attire, or with tunics or long sweaters and stuff like that.  Since the weather has turned colder, a closer examination of my closet has revealed that almost all of my leggings are, indeed, maternity leggings.  Yeesh.  So I decided to try my luck and order a couple pairs from Pact.  I was nervous to order online because I’m realllll picky about leggings.  They have to be on the thicker side, but not so thick that they don’t bunch up behind the knees.  Smooth so they don’t bunch whatever top or dress I’m wearing, but not nylon shiny like tights.  Snug enough that they smooth everything out, but stretchy enough that I can wear them comfortably after I eat an entire burrito. And never, ever see-through.  But I was pleasantly surprised by these- they fit all my qualifications, PLUS they’re made from organic cotton, PLUS they’re ethically produced, PLUS they weren’t super expensive.  If you’re in the market for leggings, these are worth your time.
  5. My hubby was super sweet and went out and bought me Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new book, The Magnolia Story. It’s sweet because we loved watching all the Fixer Upper episodes together on Netflix, and he heard about their book on the radio and went out and got it.  This might not sound like a big deal, but he’d be the first one to admit, he’s not got the best track-record at gift-giving.  But that may be a different post.  Anywho, the book is sweet and fun to read, and I think my hubs is going to read it, too so we can talk about it.  How fun is that?
  6. In a true show of Grace-ness, Grace told me she wanted to be a duck for Halloween… literally an hour after I completed her black cat costume.  So I totally mean-mommed it and told her she had to be a black cat.  Do you think she’ll live? Too soon to tell. I’ll update you next week.img_9483{This was Grace last year. At least she’s consistent.}
  7. We’re going to see Apparition Hill on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it.  Partly because I’ve heard it’s excellent (there’s even Oscar talk!) and partly because I think it’ll be the first time in almost 4 years that I’ve seen a movie in an actual theater.  Living the life here, guys.  But don’t worry, the babe will be with us, so it’s not tooooo  crazy.fullsizeoutput_c3

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum… head over and check out what everyone else is up to!*

library haul 10/18

Hey all!  Did you get to the library this week? We sure did, and got a TON of books.  But here are a few of the highlights:dsc_0199Teaching from Rest – I might be the last homeschooler/homeschooling wannabe in the world to read this book, but what can I say?  I’m not great at keeping up with the Joneses.  But I can tell you that all those people who said this book was a really great resource and encouragement for homeschoolers were right on.  I can see revisiting this one again and again.  Awesome, helpful read. Continue reading

instagram, social media, and keepin’ it real

If you’ve been around here long at all, you know I love Instagram.  I love the glimpses into people’s lives, I love the little snippets of what they have to say, I love the lack of links to political opinion pieces.

img_3930{these were really good, but that powdered sugar was everywhere about 20 seconds later}

But there’s kind of a weirdness going on with Instagram (and pretty much all social media) right now. There’s a definite tension between “keeping it real” and “keeping it pretty”.  A common complaint I hear over and over is that when we only see snippets of people’s day-to-day, or the “highlights”, our lives seem pretty lame by comparison. I know some people have sworn off the platform entirely because they can’t handle being confronted with other people’s “perfect” lives. Continue reading

library haul 10/11

Another week, another trip to the library.  Working on nap time beast mode, so here’s the best of what we grabbed this week, lickety split:


  1. The River Cottage Bread Handbook – I grabbed this on a whim off a display, basically because it’s a bread book I haven’t taken out from the library yet.  But I was pleasantly surprised because there were a lot of recipes in there for sourdough without added commercial yeast! (This is really kind of hard to find in cookbooks!  And yes! I’m a dork and very few people would be excited about that.) Anyway, after flipping through, I think this would be a great one for inspiration, and I’m going to try some of the sourdough recipes the lack of weight measures (only volume measures) and even amounts like “a ladleful of sourdough starter” kind of trouble me. For a beginner who doesn’t know how a dough is supposed to feel and isn’t as able to make adjustments, it would make it hard to have such imprecise measurements.  But I’ll report back after I try a few recipe and give you guys an update.  dsc_0190
  2. Julia, Child – I wasn’t sure about this one, since I kind of suspected it might be one I enjoy more than the kiddos, but I was wrong.  My kids love it and have asked to read it several child.  It’s a fun, sweet little story about a a girl named Julia and her friend Simca, who work to create recipes that bring back the joy and fun to grown-ups.  Pretty adorable, no?dsc_0199
  3. Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? – Joey picked this one out and we are all loving it.  It’s silly, but incorporates fun facts about penguins by asking what would happen if they were put in every day human situations.  Lots of giggles, lots of fun, but some good learning happening, too.  We’ll be checking out a few others in the series next time, for sure!dsc_0180
  4. Puzzles! – Yep, I threw a non-book thing in there!  Tricky, huh?  We LOVE getting puzzles from the library.  The thing about puzzles is, once you’ve done them a few times, you’re kind of over it.  So that’s why it makes so much more sense to borrow them from the library rather than buy them.  We take out a few puzzles every week to work on a few times before we swap them out for different ones.  Dinos were obviously a big hit.dsc_0189
  5. The Big Book of Slumber – My kids were strangely enamored of this book.  Usually, anything that’s too obvious about trying to get them ready for sleep is quickly dismissed.  But this one was really lovely.  It reads like a poem, with beautiful illustrations and just the right amount of silly.  I could see this standing in for your usual bedtime classics, and being a nice change of pace. I’m tempted to go ahead and buy this one.  Maybe a Christmas present for somebody?  I’m also definitely keeping this on the list of books to give people at baby showers.

Continue reading

yes. and thank you.

img_3910I’ve often felt that modern motherhood can be pretty isolating. Talk to any woman and she’ll tell you that it can be a lonely road, and a challenge to make friends in the beginning of the journey.  People often muse that we’ve lost the “village”- the female friends and relatives that live in close proximity and are constantly ready to pitch in to help.  And this is probably partially true.  But sometimes I wonder. Continue reading

library haul link-up

I mentioned in my last post that I kind of dig the idea of sharing our library hauls each week, so I decided to give it a shot this week.

I love libraries.  I spent a lot of time at the library as a kid (thanks, Mom!), I worked at a library in college, and now as a Mom, I take my kids to the library at least once a week, often to find books, but more often to get them out of the house and save my sanity.  The library has somehow become like a tantrum-free demilitarized zone.  My kids are happy, I’m happy, it’s all good.  And we always leave with a heavy, full-to-bursting bag of books.  I could go on and on about how great I think libraries are and all the reasons I think they’re so important, but I’ll leave that for another time.  For now, I’ll just show you some of my favorite things from this week’s haul. (I picked all kids’ books this week, but I’d love to include all kinds of books in the future!)img_3891

  1. I’m a Duck!  Even if your kid isn’t as obsessed with ducks as mine is, this is a really cute one.  Not HALF as annoying as other duck books out there.  And trust me, I really know a lot about duck books.  Not by choice.img_3892
  2. Let The Whole Earth Sing Praise  As if Tomie dePaola could produce anything less than a delightful, wonderful, amazing children’s book.  This is such a treasure- and I was actually surprised by how much my kids loved it, even though there is no “story”.  This one might go on the “to-buy” wish list.img_3893
  3. My Village, Rhymes From Around the World Well, it’s no secret that we like poems around here a whole lot.  So I’m not surprised we love this one. But I think this book would be really great to have around if you’re doing some geography or studying other countries… a fun way to bring some poetry to lessons about other places.img_3898
  4. The Artist and Me This is a sweet story about Van Gogh and a little boy who gets to know him.  Not only is it a great way to expose your kids to some tidbits about the artist, but it also has a great anti-bullying message and talks about seeing things from other perspectives.  I loved this one.img_3899
  5. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes  I grabbed this one because I recognized the author as someone whose books we’ve enjoyed.  Nicola Davies also wrote this little treasure that we read from almost every morning during our circle time.  Joey found this one fascinating, and Davies has a way of explaining scientific concepts in a way that’s story-like and engaging.  The illustrations in this one rock, too.

So tell me, what did you pick up at your local library this week?  Tell me in the comments, or better yet, write a whole blog post about it and link up below.

*Another note: I’ve linked each booked through Amazon Associates, but the whole point is that these are LIBRARY finds, so head to your library and find them there!*

we’re all alive (and 7 other things)

Well, I’ve kept all the children alive for another full week.  Yay for me! Here are 7 other notable things going on lately:

  1. Joey and I started back up with our reading lessons.  We took a break after we reached a point at the beginning of the summer where Joe was saying it was too hard and he was NOT wanting to do it anymore.  So we’re slowing down, doing only a half lesson a day, and it seems to be going much better again and he’s excited about reading again.  I was worried he would completely forget everything we’d done up to this point, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We’re doing some review, yes, but I’m pretty surprised at how much he’s picking right back up.  So I’m happy about that!
  2. One thing I’m not happy about: everyone touching me all the time.  There are people who love to be touched and hugged and snuggled and those that aren’t super into it.  I’m staunchly in the latter category.  Sure, I love a good snuggle from one of my kids, but I need my alone time, too.  Like, more often than not. The problem?  Turns out that when you have more than two kids (more than one kid? any kids at all?), someone is literally touching you 100% of your waking hours!  Just kidding… 100% of ALL your hours, because if you think you get to sleep alone, you’re mistaken. ALL KIDS TOUCHING, ALL THE TIME.  And all of a sudden, both of my big kids want my attention 24/7, too.  While they’re touching me.  Over and over, all day, my brain keeps replaying this:  tumblr_mw6nk6svnb1t0j0mdo1_500
  3. Am I the last person on earth to read Room on the Broom?  A friend of my mom’s came over the other day and brought my kids all kinds of sweet books that my kids are loving, but I’m really enjoying reading this cute little book over and over.  It’s got all the makings of a favorite here- kind, inclusive storyline, melodic rhyming, and fun illustrations.  We’re digging it and my kids are really loving Halloween stuff right now. She also brought them a new Little Blue Truck (a Halloween, lift-the-flap version- Grace is PLEASED).
  4. Speaking of books, after a great library haul yesterday, I’m thinking it would be kind of fun to do a series of posts about great library finds, for kids or otherwise.  Maybe even a linkup? What say you, internet?
  5. I just discovered Dwell + Slumber via Instagram and I’m wondering where these dresses have been all my life.  Think stretchy, comfy flowy dresses that are designed to be worn to sleep AND during the day.  LIKE OUT IN PUBLIC.  I finally found my perfect wardrobe.  Like, they look even comfier than yoga pants, guys.  And the prints are adorable.  I’m only mad because I didn’t discover these while I was pregnant.  I think I would have bought one in every color.  I’m waiting for a restock to order one, so I’ll report back.  But I expect to be in love.
  6. I read this article this morning, and then proceeded to be inspired to give away/throw away/otherwise purge so many of my kids toys and my own clutter.  Now, I think the article miiiiight over-promise a little bit when it comes to the effect of de-cluttering, but I do totally agree that a cleared space makes me feel more sane, and thus (probably) a better mom. I think it’s worth a read, if only to motivate you to clean out the junk drawer.
  7. Miriam continues to slay at being an adorable, chill baby.  She’s pretty much just soaking it all in, trying not to look too horrified at her lot in life.  We’re a motley crew, but we love her a whole lot, so I hope she realizes it’s not all bad.img_3661

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT. Head over and check it out… she’s got a hilarious solution to our election woes today!*

why i let my kids fight (CAPC series)

img_4445*For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to an amazing site, Catholic Attatchment Parenting Corner. (What can I say, I’ve really got a thing for niche-writing, yeah?) Due to all kinds of life circumstances, the site won’t be live for much longer, and the editor and creator of that site will be focusing solely on her other (wonderful) endeavor, Intentional Catholic Parenting.  So I decided to run a few of my old articles as a little mini-series, so they can find a new forever home here. Some of them are recent, and some of them were from a few years ago, but I hope they all speak to the experiences of different stages and moments in motherhood. *

Why I Let My Kids Fight

And no, it’s not because I’m starting a baby fight club. Or because I’m lazy. Or because I think I need to “toughen them up.”

This title might surprise those of you who know me. I’m a pretty gentle parent. I take my kids’ feelings and thoughts seriously. I strive for kindness and peace in my relationship with them and try to foster that in their relationship with each other. So why do I let them whale on each other sometimes? It’s all about forgiveness, baby.

I kind of came upon this concept accidentally. I had a quick, important phone call to make, and left the kids peacefully playing Legos in the living room while I stepped into the bathroom. (What, isn’t this where you go to make important phone calls?) Obviously, as soon as I began this important conversation, I heard shrieks coming from the living room. Yelling. Screaming. Your average toddler and preschooler brawl over the Lego they both want. But I was somewhat stuck — I had to finish this phone call and hope that when I emerged, things would still be salvageable. A minute later, my call ended and I unlocked the bathroom, ready to admonish someone (whoever looked guiltier? whoever wasn’t bleeding?) for being unkind and kiss any booboos, emotional or physical, of the innocent party. But what I saw when I opened the door stopped me in my tracks.img_3638_2

My 4 year old was kneeling on the ground, hugging his little sister, saying in a soothing, quiet voice, “I’m sorry, baby. I know you wanted that Lego. I’m sorry I hit you.” And to my surprise, she replied, “I fine. I fine.” As they sensed my presence, they both turned and looked at me like nothing had transpired. They returned to playing happily until the next argument broke out, as they inevitably do.

But it got me thinking. As a parent, I am constantly putting myself in the position of referee. The moment I hear someone cry, I spring to attention and ask, maybe for the 20th time that day, “WHAT happened?!” I then try to figure out who did what to whom (not an easy task), tend to the victim, chastise the aggressor, and basically, in the end, everyone is angry and crying. But what I witnessed that day gave me an alternate view of how it could be. When I don’t jump in to punish (or even gently admonish them to “be kind”), it takes away the immediate defensiveness of the one committing the error. It leaves room for genuine regret that they hurt and upset someone they love. It gives them an opportunity to make it right of their own accord. It allows them the chance to take responsibility for their actions, without me having to guess exactly what those actions were and respond accordingly.img_3128

And maybe most importantly, it gives the one who’s been hurt a chance to forgive. Because when I step in and deal with the aggressor in these fights, I rob both kids of the chance to be the forgiver and the forgiven. I insert myself in the middle and act as both. And that’s not fair. Because it’s not nice to fight, but there is joy in being merciful and showing mercy. This might seem like a stretch when talking about toddlers and pre-schoolers, but so often, when given the chance, our kids will surprise us when given the opportunity to forgo parental justice in favor of sibling forbearance. And doesn’t it follow that if we give our kids practice in being merciful that they will grow up to appreciate mercy as a very real and vital virtue?

Since I had this epiphany, I’ve tested this theory many times, and the results have been pretty consistent: my kids want to forgive each other. They want to make it right. And I can’t help but notice the other effects it has on them. When they are playing together and my little one gets hurt, instead of immediately turning to me, she will often cry her brother’s name and turn to him for a consoling hug before quickly getting back to their game. Sure, I still kiss my fair share of booboos and break up some fights before they get ugly. Some days it feels like that’s all I do. But giving my kids some space in their arguments and disagreements has been fruitful in a surprisingly real and glorious way. No referee whistle necessary.