Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Finds and Clothing Budget Questions

We got a Lands' End catalog in the mail the other day and I took a second to flip through it during lunch and WOW, when did it stop being old lady clothes there?  Or am I just gravitating to old lady stuff now?

Anyway, tons of beautiful prints and lots that looks super post-partum friendly because it's not so fitted that I'd avoid it because of a lingering belly.  How beautiful are these tops?

Floral Boatneck Tee

Button Boatneck Top

Art Print Tee (on SUPER sale right now!)

Lace Front Top
I'm contemplating ordering a couple of these t-shirts for John Paul (Mars and T-Rex - he'd DIE of excitement!) and leggings for Cecilia, since we need sturdy girl leggings to last through the three of ours!  Any experience with Lands' End kids stuff?  Is it worth the price?

Their friends & family discount (25% off) ends today (and an extra 3% cash back through ebates), but they run sales so frequently that I'm not worried about missing out if I decide to get something.  And I know that long-sleeved tops are lacking in my wardrobe, and I'll need some in the winter & spring, it's just so hard to actually buy new stuff for myself when I feel like the money should be spent elsewhere!

What do you do when it comes to budgeting for clothing for yourself?  I feel like a lot of moms just...  Don't buy any clothes.  And I know I did that for quite a while, but I've been fortunate enough to get credit to Twice and ThredUP that I've been able to grow my wardrobe without spending much at all.  But eventually the credit runs out - how do you justify buying stuff for yourselves when the money needs to be spent so many other ways?

I'd love to hear your wisdom, and what you do in this situation - I know we really need to sit down and work out a *real* budget, but it's just never the most attractive use of our time once the kids are in bed!

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Cosmas and Damian, Grocery Shopping, and Cheesesteaks

--1--

Did you know today is the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian?

Did you even know who they were?  I mean, you hear their names during the Canon of the Mass (John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian), but did you know that they were twins?

Saints Cosmas and Damian
Wouldn't you want to be forever memorialized holding a bottle of urine?
Anyway, this feast day holds particular significance to us because it was on this day exactly 2 years ago that we found out we were having twins.  And we were ALL SET to name them Cosmas and Damian but then they were girls, and we weren't about to saddle them with feminizations of those names.

--2--

Speaking of twins, Cecilia gave birth to twins yesterday.  And then they grew up and she had another baby.  She works even faster than me, apparently...

I've been compiling some of her latest parenting wisdom and went back to find good pictures of her with babies and there are some SERIOUS gems in the archives!  Need a laugh?

The Art of Raising a Baby: A How-To Guide by a 3-Year-Old

Infant massage?
--3--

But her parenting advice has gotten me all introspective and thinking about how this all went down last time - I told a friend last night that I keep feeling like it's gonna be no problem adding another baby into the mix because we already kind of have to keep things so low-key around here that adding a nursing baby into things feels like NOTHING!

And then I think, "Well, maybe this baby will throw us for a loop!  Maybe there will be health problems, or maybe we'll have a colicky baby, or maybe..."

And then I remember that life doesn't necessarily work like that...  Just because we've been fortunate health-wise doesn't mean we're "due" for some sort of misfortune!

--4--

And while we're talking babies (I know, I know, ALL the pregnancy talk), I'm having to pay a lot more attention to what my body's telling me these days.  I don't know if it's a 4th pregnancy thing, or a being pregnant while staying at home with four little kids thing, or a getting older thing, or what, but I'm feeling the need to slow down a LOT more than I did at this point with John Paul and Cecilia.  Honestly, it's on par with the twin pregnancy right now, which is really frustrating because I still want to DO ALL THE THINGS!

But yeah, once dinner hits all I can really do is eat my food and then lie on the couch trying not to have contractions because my body is DONE.  Almost 34 weeks!  I don't think we're in danger of any preterm labor or anything, but it's annoying!

Moms of many - does it just get harder as you get older? Is it just because I have to spend so much time picking up the twins still and I'm overdoing it?

--5--

We ran out of milk yesterday morning and Andrew forgot to stop at the store on his way home from rehearsal, so I had the brilliant idea that I would just take all the kids to Trader Joe's by myself!  It was going to be so easy!

And then I realized that since I can't really babywear anymore, the only way to do this would be to push one cart and pull another with one twin in each, all while trying to police John Paul and Cecilia pushing their kiddie carts...

And then I would have to load all the groceries into the car AND carry them into the house (including 4 gallons of milk...).

So yeah, I realized that was maybe my worst idea ever, so I texted Andrew and we picked him up from work and he came with us and I AM SO GLAD because it was a serious zoo in there.  At 11 AM on a Friday?  Why are these people not at work???  It would have been a total disaster going without another adult.


--6--

Normally one of us goes after the kids are in bed, and it's glorious and wonderfully empty and I adooooore it, although I'm too exhausted these days so Andrew goes pretty much every time.  But every time I go with the kids I'm reminded of how much easier it was to go before the kids started talking and REMEMBERING everything!

"MOM!  What's that you just put in the cart?  Is that for US to eat???" As I try to hide the tasty coffee truffles I just put in the cart.

"Are we going to get the fruit bars this time as a treat because we did such a good job???"  No, grab a free lollipop from the front of the store and leave me alone!

There is no buying of contraband items while the kids can see, because they always expect me to share.  Sigh.

--7--

I fought through the exhaustion and made a dozen cheesesteak wraps for dinner last night and froze 7 of them for after the baby's born!  I felt a little selfish because I loaded them all with onions and peppers and I'm the only one in the house who will eat those (everyone else just gets straight meat and cheese with raw peppers on the side), buuuut then I remembered that I'm going to be starving all the time while nursing a newborn, and I might as well have some yummy lunches in the fridge for myself!


I'll get a recipe post together for you soon because they're reeeeeeeally delicious and way less messy to eat than a regular cheesesteak!

And I'll stop there because I think I've hit 7!  Go say hi to Jen and other Quick Takers at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Art of Raising a Baby: A How-To Guide by a 3-Year-Old

This morning Cecilia has gotten a lot done.  She gave birth to twins, named them (Tinkerbell and Tinkerbell), helped them grow up so that she could have another baby (Claire), changed her twins' names (Sam and Alice), and "washed" Mary Claire and Elizabeth's hair multiple times in the play kitchen.

She's considering the vocations of princess, mermaid, and nun.  Not motherhood?

She's basically perfected the art of staying at home, which is good because I could use a helper once this baby is born in November.

See how much she loves babies?

Here are some of her nuggets of parenting wisdom:

Sleep Training:

Cecilia: When da new baby is born, I will hold him forever and maybe he will even SLEEP IN MY ARMS!!!

With this look on her face all the time, no doubt - baby heaven!
 Cecilia: Mom, sometimes, when da new baby is ready to go to sleep, I'll rock him until he falls asleep.



Me: What if you keep rocking him and he doesn't fall asleep?



Cecilia: Den I'll just put him in da crib and he can sleep dere.  You need to build me a ladder to get him into da crib.

Yes, because that's how it works - just put a newborn down and he'll fall asleep on his own...

So. Happy.

Feeding:



Cecilia: Mom, when da new baby is born I'll hold him while he's nursing so he doesn't fall on da floor.

Good thing, because I was planning on latching him and then dropping him immediately?

Bathing:

Cecilia: Mom, when da new baby is born, probably he'll need to take a bath in a bowl because da bathtub is too big and full of water and he might drown.

And I explained the concept of baby bathtubs and sinks to her...  And the fact that he's not gonna get bathed that often because, hello, fifth child...

Entertaining:

Surprisingly, a wipe is an amusing plaything for a young baby...

Cecilia: Mom, I'm gonna write da new baby a story - it's about an eyelash trying to get in a dinosaur's mouth.

Sounds promising...

Babies are tasty, did you know?

Fashion:

Clothing optional?
Cecilia, wearing her apron: I have dis on because I have babies and dey have snot on dem and a lot of blood on dem, so dis keeps me clean.

Changing into a bathrobe...

Cecilia: And now it's nighttime, so I have to put on my bathrobe because I just wear my apron during the day.

What can I say, she learns from the best?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Books for Fall (and Other Seasons)

We're getting back into the swing of things around here, which for me means lots of books about fall!  We're gearing up to go apple picking, getting ready for our favorite fall festival, and getting as much done as possible before Mr. Baby decides to make his appearance in November.

I may have gone overboard on the books though - need some ideas to pick up from the library?  Here are some of our favorites!




Mr. Murry and Thumbkin

From the author of Bear Snores On (another one of our favorites), this one isn't just a fall tale, but the presence of a pumpkin throughout the book makes it fall-ish to me.  I love how fun it is to read (Karma Wilson is one of those children's authors whose books actually rhyme and scan in a satisfying way, which is refreshing!), and how both mice learn something by the end of the story.


Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love

We got this from the library last year and everybody loved it - it's short and sweet, and the pictures are beautiful!  The recipe at the end of the book is decent, and the kids adored making it together last year and are excited to make it again this year.



Secrets of the Seasons

Not strictly about fall, and a little on the nerdy side, but this explains the hows and whys behind why seasons change - John Paul LOVES it, and the other three really love the chickens throughout the book who explain everything.  I'd say this is more for the 5-and-up crowd.



Over and Over

This is one that you really should own.  One of my all-time favorites from childhood, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful and it goes through the year through the eyes of a child, in an abstract but chronological sense.  Again, not strictly a fall book, because it has its place throughout the whole year.



Tap the Magic Tree

Caitlin recommended this one and I knew the kids would adore it from her description!  It's an interactive book that takes a tree through the seasons, and the kids all absolutely love feeling like they're in control of the leaves changing, flowers growing, etc. Lovely pictures, simple to read, and easy for them to "read" to themselves when they're ready!



Leaf Man

I found this one so fun!  The kids asked to read it again 3 or 4 times immediately after we read it the first time, so I'd say it's a hit with them, too.  The illustrations are all made out of actual leaves, and it's neat to figure out what everything represents.  Everybody was out in the yard looking for their own leaf man this afternoon after we read the book several times, and I have a feeling we'll be doing a lot of "projects" making leaves into various creations thanks to this book.


Apple Farmer Annie

Everybody loved this one as well - simple illustrations, simple story, with some recipes at the end that I promised the kids we'll be trying.  Elizabeth especially loves that there are so many puppies and kitties in the book!



Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic

I love the pictures in this one, although it was a little long for the littles...  Definitely for the 5-and-up crowd.  John Paul enjoyed it more than the girls, and I expect we'll be doing our own acrostic poems soon because he got a kick out of them.



Fall Mixed Up

I thought this one was silly, but it was a little over the kids' heads.  Probably more for the 6-and-up crowd? I had to explain a lot of what was funny, but they keep asking for it again so they certainly like the pictures.  A little bit of "Halloweeny" stuff that we don't really get into (vampires, ghosts), so I know there are some readers who would want to steer clear.



The Little Yellow Leaf

So pretty!  Short and sweet, with illustrations I could look at all day.  Really soothing, and a fun story for all ages.



Mouse's First Fall

Short, cute, the toddlers ADORE it.  One of those books that's easy enough to memorize so that you barely need to look at it when you're reading it for the 20th time...



Fandex Family Field Guides: Trees

If you're like me and couldn't identify a leaf if your life depended on it, this is a kind of awesome field guide to own - John Paul has memorized so many different types of trees and is better at identification than I am now!  And it's nice to have something concrete to be able to take on hikes so that I don't hear "Mom, could you look it up on your phone?" all the time...

What am I missing?  I feel like there must be so many more awesome Fall books out there - what are your favorites?



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