Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes, Confiscated Pillowcases, and Twin Transgressions {7QT}

--1--

I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time this week. Not by choice, but because Elizabeth decided to pick a rather large one, attempt several bites, and then discard it in the grass.

I was NOT pleased. But I sliced it up, sprinkled with salt & pepper, and fried it in some olive oil with panko bread crumbs. Surprisingly tasty!

Meanwhile, the twins also decided to pick about a dozen green cherry tomatoes, burying them in the garden because "We're gwowing da tomatoes!!!"

Some people plant extra crops in order to make up for natural loss due to animals. I planted extra to make up for loss due to toddlers.

So now I'm picking them as soon as they start ripening, in the hopes that I'll save more from the twins that way!


--2--


And speaking of the twins, you'll be shocked to hear that they're still crazy indoors, too!

After putting them on time out in their room for one transgression, I went to get dressed and returned to find that they had removed every item from their dresser and then climbed onto it to remove everything from their closet bar. Oh, and they took their pillowcases off their pillows.

So now their dresser is no longer in their room AND they're not allowed to have pillowcases. The punishment fits the crime, but I still feel ridiculous... "NO! You're not allowed to have a pillowcase anymore!"

--3--

Why do I even try?


They *wanted* me to take their picture! And yet... The expressions. Kills me!

--4--

Apologies for not rotating this picture but... I've been working on these quick takes for more than a day, so I just don't care!

John Paul sorted through one of those coupon mailers we get in the mail every few weeks, setting aside the ones he wanted. My personal favorites?

"I saved this garage door one, because we don't have a garage!"

and

"I saved this cell phone one because I really want a cell phone!"


So thoughtful, that kid.

--5--

Blueberry season is here! Andrew's mom is going to be visiting at the end of the week and we don't have room in the car for everybody to go blueberry picking, so I get to stay home with Peter while they labor in the fields!


And then we'll enjoy our waffles on Waffle Wednesday with fresh blueberries! Those holes are just perfect blueberry spots!

--6--


Peter's still bellyflop-crawling and it's SO funny to watch but kid can move! Nothing is safe anymore, and he's also trying (unsuccessfully, so there's that) to pull up on tables and chairs and all sorts of things. I'm considering removing the little table from the playroom until he's figured it out, solely because there's too much potential for head bumping and I can't spot him 24/7!

--7--

On the plus side, "crawling" means he's a little more content to be put down for more than 4 seconds at a time. Favorite toys? Obviously Legos! Actually, he tends to go for cars, trucks, balls, trains... Very typical "boy" things which is interesting to me because John Paul was not at ALL that way, so it'll be fun to see what he ends up liking!


In anticipation of him actually liking cars (and because Elizabeth always really likes this toy at other people's houses), we found this toy for $6 at a consignment store and bought it for him for his birthday... Which is in November. I've been socking away rather a lot of birthday & Christmas presents for all the kids and need to remind myself to STOP because then we'll end up with mountains and mountains of presents come birthday season, which is just ridiculous because we don't need *all the things* at all! 

Cutting myself off. No more toys. I hope.

Linking up with Kelly for some Saturday Quick Takes! Hope you have a beautiful weekend! We'll be celebrating our 7th anniversary early tonight (it's tomorrow) because my awesome sister is babysitting!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Music Education... At Home?

I have to admit, one of my major objections to homeschooling is that there's just no way to offer the same music experience at home that kids can get in a classroom environment. Whether it's through regular elementary general music, band/choir/orchestra ensembles, or good old recorder playing, there's no way to completely replicate the experience kids get in a music classroom.

This is a major interest of mine, guys. Because I majored in music education and then went and taught choir, guitar, keyboard, and general music for several years. It's important. But I think there are a lot of ways you can do it at home, and even though it won't be the same, in some ways it will be better!



Here's the big term I'm going to throw out at you:

Developmental Music Aptitude.

What is it? Basically, it's the capacity for musical thinking that your child has, and it can change up until about the age of 9. Which means it is within your control to give your child the best possible start, because musical aptitude is not solely determined by genetics, and musical achievement correlates strongly with aptitude! Here's a quick summary for you if you're interested in a little more detail.

That's not to say that every child should become a world-class classical guitarist, or that you need to raise a bunch of tiny little Mozarts. But I think our culture as a whole would benefit greatly from a generation of children who know how to sing, who love music for what it is rather than how it might increase their scores on a standardized test, and who value creativity in the artists who are composing and performing new music.

And, as a Catholic, I think it's important for parishioners to be able to sing in church!

In short, the way to increase your child's musical aptitude (up until around age 9, at which point it becomes static), is to provide frequent and varied experiences with music. Listen to a wide variety of good music, discuss it when the opportunity arises, sing a variety of songs at home (even if you aren't a good singer!), and try your hand at playing whatever instruments you can get your hands on!

Full disclosure: We are a family of music nerds.

THIS IS NOT SOMETHING TO FREAK OUT ABOUT! You are not "ruining" your child simply because you couldn't sign up for those "Baby Music" classes starting at 3 months and didn't pipe classical music into your womb from the moment of conception. But there's a lot of fun you can have with this at home that will (I hope!) teach you something, teaching your kids something, and provide your whole family with a love of music that will bring you together for years!



I'm planning on giving you some recommendations for music you can listen to, inexpensive instruments (that are still a good quality) you can start collecting, song books worth looking at, and maybe even some lesson plans to have fun with! We'll see how much I have to say on the matter, but I hope I can pop in here at least a couple times a month to share some music with you.

What about you, experienced homeschoolers? How do you do music at home? Or are you a newbie like me who's trying to figure out how to work this in without getting stressed about it?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Perfect Sandals and Baby Updates {WIWS}


This morning was one of those don't-have-time-to-iron-throw-something-on Sunday mornings. Jersey dress to the rescue! Cecilia did NOT wear that to Mass, but she found it afterwards in a bag of consignment store finds, and HAD to change her outfit into this "nightgown dress."

Those sandals are new though; after MONTHS of scouring the internet for a new pair of sandals (and I pretty much just wanted the exact same pair I had before because they were so comfortable), I searched on Amazon and found...

The exact same pair.

In multiple colors.

And way cheaper than I expected.

So I clickety-clicked and $30 and two days later, my new mint sandals arrived!

Seriously, if you need the perfect sandal, these hold up REALLY well, are incredibly comfortable, and come in a million colors and sizes!


This adorable guy has his two bottom teeth! They were hard-won, with many weeks of inexplicable fussiness before they finally broke through (I'm pretty good at babies, but I can NEVER tell when they're teething - he was drooly for MONTHS and those gums look exactly the same to me until the first tooth actually breaks...).

Of course, he's still rather fussy now that the teeth are in. And still won't sleep unless he's nursing and/or wedged in my armpit or Andrew's.

It's funny because he's rather high-maintenance but still gives HUGE smiles to anyone he sees even if he's in a miserable mood, so he seems like a happy, cheerful baby! At least there's only one of him.

He's making forward progress with his crawling/scooting, but only if he REALLY wants something - generally a ball or a shoe (proving my hypothesis that babies are essentially puppies).

He *can* sit up but would much rather try to crawl because sitting is boring.

His hair seems to be staying reddish!


And he's so spoiled by his older siblings, who just want to play with him ALL the time (and snatch his toys, unfortunately...).

Happy Father's Day to all of you & your families!

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday.

Monday, June 15, 2015

50 More Reasons My Toddler(s) Won't Nap


She took her dress off
She got one arm out of her sleeve and can't get it back in
She took off her diaper, changed into underwear, and now she needs to pee
She has peed in her second diaper, removed it, and peed all over her pillow, sheet, and a book. (But she mopped it up with a wipe...)



She threw her dress out of her crib and wants it back
She pooped
She pooped again
She NEEDS TO POOP!!!


She can't throw Mario out of her crib
Mario is out of her crib but he needs to be out of the ROOM
She threw EVERYTHING out of her crib and wants it back
There's a fluff on her finger
There's a fluff on the floor that looks like a bug
There's a hair in her mouth and she can't get it out
She CAN'T FIND HER BOW!!!
She needs her bow back in her hair
She took her bow out again
She's scared of the curtain


The noise machine stopped (because she unplugged it)
The sound on the noise machine is wrong (because she pressed a button to change it)
It's playtime!
Her toe is hurting
It's BLEEDIN!!! (it's not.)
She needs "something" What? "Um, somethin'"
Her dress is on backwards
She's "NEK-kid!!!"


She needs to practice galloping
A truck drove by and it's COMIN!!!
Something is on the ceiling (light. from the window.)
She needs a hug and a kiss.
No, a BIG kiss!!!
On the OTHER cheek!
And a hug!!!
AND A KISS!!!


She needs a book
She ripped up her book and needs it to be thrown away
She needs another book
She found a scrap of paper and it needs to be thrown away RIGHT NOW!
Her pillowcase is full of the pieces of ripped up book that she tried to hide and now she can't sleep.
She needs to hug and kiss the baby.
Her pillow is wet. Because she was sucking on it.
She needs her fingernails clipped NOW!!!
She can't reach something. What? SOMETHING!!!


SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!
There's a book stuck between her crib and the wall.
Last week she had a pink barrette and she wants it back. NOW.
She needs socks so she can go ice skating.
She took her socks off and she needs them back on NOW.
She needs her milk that she refused to drink during lunch.
Actually, she would like to finish her lunch also.



Remember when nap time was a quiet time during the day when you could recharge while your kids slept or played quietly?

Yeah. Me neither.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Answer Me This & What We Wore - June 14th

It's the most wonderful time of the summer! Well, it's not actually summer yet, but it sure feels like it here in Virginia!

1. Any big plans for the summer?

Not so far, and I'm glad! We're planning on playing tourist on our own town (the DC area) and using Andrew's vacation days to take a bunch of day trips to the local attractions - the zoo, the museums, hiking, blueberry/peach/apple picking, etc. I'm really looking forward to a relaxed summer!

Throwback to 1-year-old John Paul picking peaches!

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

Oh, I've got a couple of doozies... 

First, I was pretty sure that praying was the same thing as wishing. So I would take my Delia*s catalog and circle everything I liked, and the proper colors and sizes. Then I would pray that God would give me all the clothes I wanted, in the right colors and sizes. For some reason it never worked...

Second, remember the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta? Well, our air conditioning broke that summer so we kids all slept in the basement because it was a lot cooler there. Except instead of sleeping, we stayed up late watching the Olympics since the TV was down there (our parents MUST have known and just turned a blind eye because it was summer and who cares?). 

Anyway, do you remember the VERY tense Women's Gymnastics Finals? And the whole Kerri Strugg thing? Well, I was pretty sure that I could communicate telepathically with all the US gymnasts. Because I would tell them things like, "Come on, Dominique! You can stick this landing!!!" and then SHE WOULD!

So basically, I was convinced that I won the gold medal for the US by using telepathy.

Yup.

I'm pretty sure this is me in 1996... And no, I wasn't going for telepathy there, I thought it was supposed to be the silly picture so I made a face.

I thought most pictures were supposed to be the silly picture...
3. What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride)

Do the misters count? The ones in the middle of the walkways that just get you nice and cool? I'm not a big rides fan... Too old, and everything makes me sick! Mostly I just like eating the amusement park food.

4. What's on your summer reading list?

Well, I'm reading Flannery O'Connor with the Stella Maris Book Club. And by reading I mean listening to the library recording, which is cheating but there's no way I'd get through it otherwise. I'm also listening to The Penderwicks with the kids, and reading The Moffat Museum with them (I do NOT like the new illustrations, fyi. How horrible!). I think we might read The Tale of Despereaux next? We need some fantasy! Other than that, no plans, but I know I *should* read a lot!

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

I'm pretty sure I fell asleep in an airport in high school, on the way back from our choir trip to Florida. Either that or I thought it would be funny to pretend to fall asleep... But I think I pretended to fall asleep and then really DID fall asleep. We were waiting a LONG time for our bags...

Throwback to me in high school! Or you could look at the awkward pictures here

6. What is your favorite smell?

Right now? Honeysuckle. It varies by season though - in the fall I'm going to love the smell of apple cider, and in the winter it's going to be our Christmas candles that smell like incense.

And here's what we wore to Mass today:


Well, some of us anyway... Personal highlight? When John Paul fell prostrate on the floor in front of a woman with a cane after Communion, and I had to try to drag him down the aisle to get out of the way.

Thankfully Father has a sense of humor and told John Paul he assumed he was in a state of spiritual rapture.

On the plus side, he didn't throw a screaming fit when I told him he wouldn't be getting a treat after Mass!

Go check out more answers at Catholic All Year! And check out more Sunday outfits at Fine Linen & Purple!

P.S. Next Sunday is Father's Day! If you're looking for gift ideas, I've got some good ones here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stitch Fix #2 - June 2015 {7QT}

--1--

I'll say this right now: 

Getting a Stitch Fix box is like Christmas.


I got my fix on Wednesday and was pretty excited to try things out during nap time! The black skirt was perfect to fill in a gap in my wardrobe, the blue skirt is adorable with the crochet detail, and I was reserving judgment on the others.

--2--


This Loveappella Elise Crochet Detailed Swing Skirt (S, $58) was SO cute, but in order to wear it at my natural waist, it was just too short for me.


And pulling it down lower (elastic waist, yay!) didn't help - just made an awkward muffin top!

Verdict: No.

--3--


This Mavi Rue Denim Dress (S, $54) was tempting - I would have styled it with a belt and it's a really versatile piece, but I already have a denim shirt dress. This dress is also Mavi and looks exactly the same, but is $98 on Amazon, which I thought was interesting. Looks like Stitch Fix cuts you a deal sometimes!

Verdict: No.

--4--


The Skies are Blue Barnet Button Down Top (S, $44) was... Odd.

Good, in theory. But just looked bad bad bad on me.

Verdict: No.

--5--


In the picture above and in this picture, I'm wearing the Pixley Blakely Cargo Skirt (S, $68). I was excited about this because it looked like a really convenient basic skirt, but the waist was small enough that I had to wear it at my natural waist and then it was too short. I considered exchanging it for a larger size, but for $68 it was an insubstantial enough fabric that I didn't think it was worth it.

Verdict: No.

--6--


My absolute favorite item in the fix was the Pixley Digby Embroidered Halter Top (S, $58). The drape was perfect and while I don't normally go for a boho look, I really liked the embroidery. But... 

Hand wash only. (Okay yes I know, you all wash it on delicate and it's fine. But that's STILL a lot of work for me for something so much more expensive than anything I ever buy!)

And the neckline was such that even wearing a racerback bra didn't guarantee my straps wouldn't show. 

The clincher here for me was when Abbey reminded me that Peter would suck on the tassels and then they'd leave drool marks all over my shirt...

Verdict: No.

So I sadly sent this one back also, and went hunting online for a suitable replacement and found some good ones:

I'm leaning towards the top left - never thought I'd like this sort of top because I'm so NOT boho, but it's perfect for summer!

--7--

So maybe Stitch Fix isn't for me? I left very detailed notes (well, as detailed as possible - they cut you off after a certain number of characters) about why things didn't work, and I emailed their customer service about the whole hand wash issue - I know a lot of moms who've had the same issue, way too many "hand wash only" or "dry clean only" items in their fixes and ain't nobody got time for that!

I'm going to try it one more time (because I have a little bit of credit from a really nice person who clicked through my referral link, thank you!!!) and see if we can make it work. I want to - I think it's a really fun way to get exposed to trends that I wouldn't otherwise have tried.

Want to try your own fix? I'd love it if you click through my referral link! I get a little credit towards getting another fix to blog about :)

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum, right at midnight because THIS BABY WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Father's Day Gift Ideas {Five Favorites}

Father's Day is in a week and a half! What are YOU getting your guy this year?


1. Rustic Bottle Opener with cap catcher - perfect for mounting right near his favorite spot to pop open a cold one!
2. Dadasaurus-Babysaurus Shirts - comes in different colors and sizes, too!
3. Father-Son Nerd Shirts - because seriously. Amazing (sizes baby through big kids!)
4. St. Joseph Icon - because who would be a better role model?
5. Reef Bottle Opener Sandal - there's a bottle opener on the bottom. Always be prepared.

So what did I *actually* get Andrew? Well, I'll tell you right now because he already knows... This book just came in the mail and I'm planning on letting him pick out some cocktails for us to make together soon!

Linking up with the lovely Jenna for Five Favorites.

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Spring & Summer Style Essentials {WIWS}

I've been promising a spring & summer style post for a while - here's some of what I've been wearing a lot lately:

1. Maxi skirts and denim jackets


I've blogged about this maxi skirt before (currently 30% off!) - it's one of the most versatile pieces in my closet! I've had it for 2 years and it fit all through my pregnancy (even though it's not maternity) and is a great post partum piece as well. I can't even emphasize how worth the price it is! 

I think a denim jacket is a must-have as well - it might be too warm for one where you are right now, but it'll serve you well in the fall. The one I'm wearing isn't available anymore, but this one is similar and also 30% off.

2. T-shirts and breathable skirts


This outfit isn't my favorite actually, but it's so comfortable... The shirt is from a couple of years ago, and isn't really the fit I'd prefer anymore, plus the neck is getting stretched out from constant grabbing... Might be time to turn it into a skirt for the girls! I ordered a few of these t-shirts from J.Crew Factory and am hopeful that they'll serve me well - their fabrics really do last forever, so I've got high hopes.


I looooove this shirt - one of my favorite spring finds from ThredUP (which has REALLY been improving lately - I might actually like it better than Twice now...) and have been pairing it with a lot of different bottoms.


This dress is a super-fun find, and only $15 right now! Nursing-friendly (it doesn't look it, but the top is really stretchy), and perfect paired with a t-shirt for layering or a denim jacket), but on the short side - I'm 5'2" and it hits me at the knee, so order in tall if you're not a shortie like me!


This skirt is a really nice summer maxi - slits up the sides and linen so it breathes well, but it doesn't get super-wrinkly in the dryer so you don't really need to iron it! 


Cecilia tells me it looks like one of our towels. She's right. But I still like it!


And here's how I blurrily styled it for Mass yesterday with this shirt (I won't go into how Mass went, because it was probably the worst behavior we've ever dealt with... My mom was visiting and we decided to take both twins and that was a BIG MISTAKE. I just kept reminding myself that Mass is Mass is Mass, and we're all getting graces just from being there, regardless of how much time we spend in the narthex.).

I'm waiting for my next Stitch Fix and am hoping for a couple sleeveless tops to round out my summer wardrobe, and I might try sewing another skirt or two, also - Molly's inspiring me with her adorable creations!

What are you wearing this summer? Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday

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Friday, June 5, 2015

What It's Like Having Toddler Twins: 7QT

"I always wanted twins!"

"It must be so FUN to have twins!"

Yes.

It's fun.

It is, it really is. So I just smile and nod.

It's fun, but would you also like to know what it's *really* like?

--1--

Let's say I take a few minutes to try to eat my breakfast in peace, or get dressed without the twins in the room with me pointing out Mom's wrinkly tummy, or make snack for the kids without somebody reaching up for the knife I'm using to cut cheese into cubes (because I've found cubes are more likely to be eaten than slices right now, but that will change tomorrow)...


This is what happens. A brand new roll of toilet paper in the sink, completely sodden, while they shriek gleefully, "ONCE UPON A TIME DERE WAS A TOILET PAPER!!!" all the while cramming wet toilet paper into their mouths and gagging on it.

--2--

They carry their blankets and pillows all around the house making "beds" and "nests" and pretending to nap or have sleepover parties. But come naptime? NOOOOOOOO!!!


They jump in their cribs (in SEPARATE ROOMS because they couldn't nap together anymore), they scream various prayers to each other through closed doors, they take their noise machines, unplug them, and throw them on the floor.

All that playtime devoted to naps, and they refuse to practice what they preach during *actual* naptime.

--3--

In the event that you ever have twins, or think you might some day have twins, I suggest throwing away every writing implement in the house NOW. Or install a shelf suspended from the ceiling that can only be reached by VERY tall people, and put all the pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and sharpies up there. Because you know what will happen otherwise:

"I was dwawin' a stwaight yine!"

Clearly.

I'm STILL finding new places where Mary Claire explored with the Sharpie.
They told me they were painting their nails.

And yes, it's still all over her legs and toes.

Cecilia drew this, and I can't help but agree with the sentiment. Yes.

--4--

Somebody is probably laughing. Or is that crying? Or is it both? Probably both.


Sometimes you're just GWUMPY!


However, they're probably arguing about which twins is grumpy. And crying about it. While they're arguing, they'll also argue about which one of them is a kid and which is a toddler. And who's big and who's little. And whose birthday it REALLY is (spoiler alert: you're twins. You don't get your own birthday.).

--5--

Somebody is probably wearing dress-up clothes. In fact, everybody usually is:


And with all the outfit changes, later on somebody else will probably only be wearing underwear. Hopefully there's at least underwear involved.


--6--

There are peaceful moments sometimes though, I promise!


Like when they ACTUALLY whisper the entire time at the library!



Or when they really sweetly read to each other in the bed they shouldn't be in.




Or try to help each other get their big sister's shoes on when they inevitably fall off.

--7--

Yup, it's insane. And fun, and sweet, and frustrating. Want to come babysit?

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes - Happy Friday, and I hope your week was better than mine!

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