Friday, December 5, 2014

7qt: Mama Ain't Got No Instagram

A colleague sent this to DH for Christmas. Six pounds. They are going to have to roll us out the door before we're through this.
Made it to Ikea over Thanksgiving. All our tall books have a home now!
My Christmas Tree Assembly Assistant. Only took us four hours to figure out we had part of it upside down. Also, I'm missing a wrench.
Fake trees go against everything I stand for, but you can pack a lot of lights on them.
Jesse Tree Ornaments here.
Fruit cakes ready to go in the oven, only about a month late. Maybe they'll just "be thirsty" (Bean's words) every day, instead of every other.
Bean found butterfly wings. Now I just need to find my sweater...
Who needs a playpen? "Oh, I'm just in da tent wif my brudder!"
Find other Quick Takes at the linkup!

Friday, November 21, 2014

7qt: Edel or Bust!

After seeing the price, I was on the fence about going to Edel, but my wonderful husband talked me into pulling the trigger. I must really look like I need to get away...

Bean turned four this past week, which was great fun, as I think it was the first birthday that he really got the concept of it being his birthday, rather than just knowing there was some sort of ado. All he asked for was a balloon, some licorice (one of his recent stories mentioned licorice), and a bag of marshmallows to share with his friends (whom we saw that day, thanks to a trip to South Bend). He did get a few more things (or more than a few, thanks to being one of only two grandchildren so far).

I was so enamored by his lack of materialism that I refused to let DH rush him through present opening. Which meant it took us approximately two-and-a-half hours. I may rethink that strategy in the future...

I started this sweater in July. July 2009, that is. And even after the knitting was finished, it languished for a year, for lack of buttons and the dread of weaving in all those ends. But I finally finished it, and I love it, though I think I was a size smaller back when I started...


You may have heard once or twice that Advent is coming! If you're looking for something to do, you might have a look at the Jesse Tree Ornaments over at the Church Ladies'. You can get fancy with them, or you can literally send them to Kinko's (or whatever it is these days), cut them out, and be done. This reminds me that I need to shellac ours before we start using them this year, as Peanut has a penchant for putting whatever he finds straight in his mouth...

There are also some great Advent playlists and other devotionals over there; have a look!

So, a few days after the birthday festivities, both boys woke up with a fever. The night before that, I had uncharacteristically found myself in bed before 10, so I was sure I was coming down with it, too. I made sure get off to bed early the next night, too. I successfully evaded the bug only to, irony of ironies, give myself an I-will-hurl-if-I-stand-up migraine from messing with my sleep schedule.

We're headed 600 miles away in a couple of days, and of course have zero things packed (except the snacks! Priorities!) due to the sick days. I'm also supposed to bring something for a baby shower, and at this point, my best bet for a side dish is a pineapple. I'm thinking maybe Costco will save my butt this time...

I'm out of timely ideas, so instead here's a Halloween costume pic!
Those cobwebs are decorations. Decorations, you hear me?
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 31, 2014

7qt: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

A choice selection of profound thoughts and complete time-wasters for your weekend. (Find more Quick Takes at the linkup!)

1) Exclusivity and Isolation in Parish Ministries

When I read this article, I wanted to cheer, and then I wanted to start day-drinking, because it really is kind of a depressing situation for anyone who doesn't fit one of the pre-assigned Demographics to Which we are Catering. I think the real examination of conscience (for all parishioners, but especially those very involved ones) comes in this paragraph:
At best, these manufactured groups can forge tenuous bonds between people that have the potential to be nurtured into genuine friendships. At worst, they can devolve into cliques comprised of a set of previous friends who make an effort to be welcoming to strangers, but who just can’t help but fall back into the familiarity of their organic friendship, leaving newcomers feeling ostracized and superfluous until they gradually drift away.

2) Why the Church Needs Bad Catholics

...the disappearance of the bad Catholic impoverishes the Church theologically. It is not a sign that Catholics are holier than they used to be. It is a sign that today’s Church is less capable of creating a space in which the individual can experience the reality of the human condition: that is, the frightening gap between the Command of God the Lawgiver and the deeds of a human life. And yet, the creation of such a space is essential to the Church’s mission. Without it, true conversion of heart cannot take place.
Before your hackles go up, he's not talking about dissenting Catholics, just those whose sins are of a more obvious nature than those of us who like to hide ours. And if your hackles are still up, I sentence you to go read The Power and the Glory before you decide that we don't need their kind 'round these parts.

3) Women Having a Terrible Time at Parties in Art

Anna, he’s going to start reading poetry at us
what do we do
play dead?
no that’s bears
Maybe it means I've been to one too many terrible parties, but I laughed so hard at this. (language alert)

4) Forgotify

In case "before they were cool" isn't hipster enough for you, listen to something that literally no one else has ever played on Spotify. I've caught some neat stuff and some terrible stuff on here, most of it not in English. If you feel like you're in a music rut, it's worth a try.

It's a Spirograph, for your computer! Oh, the nostalgia. The Bean was pretty impressed by gears that can draw pictures, too.

6) This comic

Which reminded me of so many of my college friends. Cheers, guys! I'll see you at Fiddler's!

7) That's all for now, folks! Have a great Halloween/All Saints/All Souls!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Learning Notes: Weeks of 9/29 and 10/6

This post has been kicking around my draft folder 90% finished for way too long, so I'm just going to send it out into the world whether I'm satisfied or not. Find the first Learning Notes here, and be sure to see the other posts at the linkup to find out what everyone else has been learning!

The constant question around here has been "What is for ___?" As in what letter. The idea that letters make words that make stories has clicked around here, and we're suddenly kind of interested in this whole spelling thing.

Grandma sent these Montessori-style sea creature cards, along with a toy to match for each one! Perfect timing for some new entertainment, since Dad was on a business trip for one of these weeks.

We discovered "Peg + Cat" this week, since dad being gone means a little TV is my only shot at a break. His favorite was the pizza episode, so we made pizza and talked about half and whole.

I also figured out that I can overcome his perfectionist streak (in this case, refusing to trace numbers because he won't do it as well as Mama could), by slapping a picture of Peg's pizza delivery craft in the margin.

Mama got a new toy for her birthday. In addition to figuring out how all the screws and levers worked, we talked about things that start with "tri-"
(-angles, -cycles,...) , and what that means.
Also triptychs. This one is from his Family Formation lesson.

Space Stuff

Space exploration, as usual, was a big theme of our learning here, not least of which because there was an eclipse to watch!
Going, going ...
It's awfully cold at 6am!
I was impressed that he stayed outside (he definitely wanted to be out, and not watching through the window) for the whole thing, even though it's not exactly a short attention-span activity. I guess the novelty of being gotten out of bed for a show was pretty intriguing. We also got a really great look at some constellations that we can't usually see this time of year. We could see the Pleiades very clearly, and could pick out the Orion nebula, too!

We also signed up to send his name to Mars on the Orion mission (it's open till the end of the month), and clicked around this Google Map view of Endeavor at the Kennedy Space Center.

If you pay attention to such things, you'll know there's a solar eclipse tomorrow. Not sure if we'll be able to see much this far east, but be sure to try to catch it if you can!

That's all for this post, except that Peanut would like you to know that he learned something new, too!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Learning Notes: Week of 9/22

This is my first post for the linkup (note: Oops! That linkup closed while I was typing. Hopefully, the "Guilt-free" part includes getting notes in late!), and I'm really excited to have this little push to blog what we've learned for the week! I think a few of these might be from the week before, but I'll keep better track now that I have a reason to.

A bit about us: since The Bean is just going-on-four, our learning is still pretty informal, but this fall I've been trying to move our learning in a slightly more intentional direction. Peanut is just 9 months, and a lot more adventurous than his brother, so the emphasis is on "slightly" for the moment.

On to the notes:

After Dad got home, it became a train derrick.
I finally canned something this summer, for the first time since learning that you no longer have to simmer the lids before you use them. Which means you don't have to fish them out of hot water, which means that the magnetic wand I used to use to do so got bequeathed to Bean. He was excited to have the chance to do a real, live "'speriment," as we gathered together all sorts of things to see if they were magnetic or not. Bean's spoon: yes. Mama's spoons: nope. Gave a preschool version of the scientific method.

Also in science, DH had to drive some people around for work, and thus cleaned out his car for the first time in ... a while, and we found a pair of binoculars in there. Great excitement. Talked about lenses and telescopes and such. For the moment, he prefers to use them backwards to make things small.

He was demanding I read "The Ink Garden" to him at least once a day, so I dug up an illuminated letter online (now linked in my review) and he watercolored away, "painting letters just like da Deeaphane!" He also traced the lines on this constellation sheet, while we talked about the names of the constellations (Note to self: Pull out D'Aulaires' and read some of the stories behind those names).

Tuesday was his onomastico, so his dad got him a book about the popes. Definitely recommended, though I wonder if it's more intended for kids who can read it to themselves than as a read-aloud. The sentences are just a tad stilted at times, so I find myself editing on the fly for a better flow. He really wanted to color "pope stuff" after several read-throughs. So, I put this and this on one page in Publisher and let him have at it. It's all red now, of course, because that's the only color. (PS - I just ran across this very nice Sts. Peter and Paul page, too.)

Wednesday was a bit of a loss. I ran off this number-tracing worksheet (registration required) but his inner perfectionist kicked in and he went on strike unless "Mama can help" (i.e., hold his hand and do it for him). Since he's done similar sheets successfully in the past, I respectfully declined, and it went undone. I did occupy him for a while by getting him sorting tiny pompoms onto these color cards. With tongs from his kitchen toys, even, so it took up a decent amount of time (yay!)

 Thursday: Our very sad garden actually produced something! So, we harvested broccoli and talked about different parts of the plant and what kinds of food come from each. None of this persuaded him to actually eat the broccoli, alas. Food-related learning was not a total loss, though, as he did show us over dessert that he's paying attention to a geography:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seven Quick Takes


 Peanut's been working on a front tooth for a while now. I keep swearing it'll be in by the next day, obnoxiously poking around to see if it's there; nope. Meanwhile, I can't be the only one who thinks teething rings are kind of lame these days. Didn't you used to be able to put them in the freezer?
Even little peanuts know that a one that is not cold is scarcely a one at all.

It's taking so long that one of the side teeth got a jump on it while I wasn't looking, leaving him looking kind of snaggly (in a cute way).


The crankies haven't stopped him from doing things like this:
At left: Peanut protests his entirely just imprisonment.
At right: "Um, Mama needs to sweep."

As soon as my cherry tomato finally curls up and dies (can you tell I've had a great relationship with my garden this summer?), I'm commandeering that much-less-tippy pot for this plant. Also because this plant is literally trying to escape:
"Heeelp meee. Heeeeelp mee!"


Eye of the Tiber: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Asks To Be Reinstated As Pope
"once we asked him where he was going, he simply said, ‘I’m back,’ then proceeded to put his sunglasses on even though we were inside.”


I was poking around Amazon for Notre Dame stuff, and ran across this shirt:
 Is there any better way to say, "Yep, that's a place, all right."? But hey, it has great features like, "Never Worn" and "Awesome Shirt!" I'm thinking this would be a perfect gift for some of my SB friends about February or so. Right when they can't remember there was ever anything before the Permacloud.


Speaking of South Bend, Knute Rockne's house is up for sale. In case you have $500K and massive piles of football nostalgia lying around.


I'll end with an admonition: PEOPLE. Buy books. Otherwise publishers start getting desperate, and then this happens:

Catch other quick takes at the linkup!

Monday, September 22, 2014

WIWS: Pancake Breakfast Edition

 Bean's Mass attendance grade was probably a C- today, which is pretty good considering we spent Saturday at a raucous get-together with eleven under six. And considering that he spent Sunday morning insisting that "We will not go to reg'lar church! We will go to parachute church and guys will jump out of planes!" (Cowboy churches: consider this a challenge.)

Though of course (of course), on the once-in-a-blue moon that we got a stewardship homily, he decided not to put his coins in the basket and instead insist (audibly to at least the next pew over) "No! No, put them back in the purse!" He also, I found out after Mass, decided to rescind his Sign of Peace to the lady behind us at the last second. Hmm... maybe we'll make that a D...

Anyway, he was not-terrible enough that we decided to go to the pancake breakfast in the gym after Mass. The kids ate four pancakes between them, so I'd say they got our money's worth for us, considering they were both free.  One of the Knights asked Peanut if he wanted to join them, but another insisted he was probably more pure-of-heart than their usual applicant. I think he'd still be up for it as long as they kept feeding him pancakes, though.

Anyway, on to the clothes.
Top: VanHeusen Outlet
Skirt: upcycled
Belt: Kohl's
Shoes: Steve Madden (these, in red)

I bought these shoes way back before I was married, which 4" heels were still doable for a day that involved walking. Now they mostly keep their appearances to brief Sunday morning forays.

The skirt was some sort of hand-me-down that was both too big and kind of a dumpy length, so I took it in up top to make it high-waisted and my size. I might do a little more tweaking, as it's a tad lumpy in spots, but the fabric is of the sort that you can throw it in the corner for weeks and it will be magically unwrinkled when you pick it up, so I think it's worth salvaging.

Oh, the best part of my Sunday? DH had to clean out his car because he's doing airport runs for a conference, and Bean insisted on helping, lest he miss out on any treasures, so I got a virtually uninterrupted afternoon for myself while Peanut napped. I may just have napped, too.

Find other "What I Wore Sunday" posts at the linkup.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WIWS: Game night edition

The "S" is for Saturday this time. Notre Dame was playing a night game, so, since we were already going to be up a little late, we decided to make a date of it (Netflixing "Ghostbusters," because we're hopelessly romantic sorts), and sleep way, way in on Sunday.
With apologies for the awkward angle. My camera holder was busy, so I tried to go it on my own.
Dress: Anthropologie (pretty sure I acutally paid the $19.95 that's listed)
Cardigan: me
Shoes: Kohl's (a little gold to go with my blue)

On a fashion note, I'm pretty sure everyone should have one pair of satin flats in a bright color. Wear them on your slobbiest day and you'll still get compliments.

The kids were both good at Mass (good enough that I tossed that box of pumpkin Krispy Kremes in my cart at the post-Mass grocery run, anyway), and Mass was a little higher than usual for the feast day. The Bean got to hear his name in the Roman Canon, and I actually didn't have any complaints about the music. There was even a bit of Latin!  Tack on an Irish victory and a Sunday morning that actually was easy, and it was about as good as a weekend gets.

Read about everyone else's Sundays at the WIWS linkup.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

Is there such a thing as reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder? Because if there is, I haz it. With this cold snap, my brain and my motivation seem to be returning, finally. So let's ease back into things with a children's book review, shall we?

Out of all the books at the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference this year, The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane caught my eye with the unique style of its cover illustration (the artist uses a combination of papercutting, printing, and watercolor).

The story is one that any lover of the Middle Ages, bright colors, daydreaming, or inventiveness will assuredly delight in. Brother Theophane is an Irish monk who loves God, but gets rather bored with his work in the (monochromatic) scriptorium. He gazes out the window and doodles little verses on the edges of his work (the poems in the book are taken from actual medieval marginalia. Finally, his exasperated prior sends him to work outside.

In the woods, he again gets distracted by a particularly tempting patch of berries, which gives him a brilliant idea, and the monk's manuscripts are never the same again.

I could hardly love this book more. The Celtic details throughout the book, along with the little poems of the monks and the story itself combine to create an atmosphere that captures the not-at-all-dark exuberance and humor of the Middle Ages.

The story is fun enough to be appreciated by preschoolers, but would (along with the notes and bibliography) also be a great jumping-off point to study the art and history of period with older children. Whomever you're reading it with, I recommend having on hand one of the many Dover coloring books based upon manucript art, because you'll likely be inspired to add some color of your own. (UPDATE: Here are two pages that have some colorable versions of illuminated manuscripts.)