It's Going to Get Easier, and SOON: 20+ Household Tasks for the Under-Five Crowd

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I've had this draft in the works for a while and keep being reminded of it with posts like Jenna's and Bonnie's!  Thank goodness for internet fellowship, am I right?  

You know the kind of blog post I love to read?  When moms of older kids remind us that being in the trenches is HARD, and that it will get easier.  But the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away when you're told it gets easier when the oldest is 10 or 12 or 8 or whatever the magic number is...

"Oh great, only 6 more years!" I think.  At which point I may very well have 6 more children than I have now...  This tunnel seems so very long.

I have no doubt that things will get significantly easier when we reach that point, but in the past year I've noticed that it's getting easier even though my oldest is only 4!

It's the little things, you know?  Things like:

- Brushing their own teeth (with "silly brushing" a few times a week by parents to make sure they're being thorough - thanks for the idea, Micaela!)

- Choosing and putting on their own clothes in the morning (and putting jammies on at night)

And who doesn't love the outfits they pick?

- Putting away their own laundry

- Buckling and unbuckling their own car seats


- Washing their own hands thoroughly (a little too thoroughly sometimes...)

- Making lunch and snacks for themselves and their younger siblings

Maybe don't give them an entire Costco-sized container of oregano for their pizzas, though...

- Refilling sippy cups and fetching drinks for themselves

- Cleaning off the floor after meals, particularly when the babies drop a ton of food

- Watering plants in the garden (and being "hose boy" and "hose girl" and scrambling behind the bush to turn the hose on and off for me when I'm doing the heavy watering)

- Fetching herbs from the herb garden and washing and prepping the herbs for dinner

- Making side dishes for dinner - get them a crinkle cutter and the right ingredients and your kids can make veggie plates and caprese salad, no sweat!

- Collecting renegade shoes from around the house

- Recycling all the paper scraps from their self-guided "art projects"

- Wiping down tables and baseboards

Even the under-2 crowd can help with this one!

- Vacuuming up the messes that they (and their younger siblings) make (LOVE our cordless hand vacuum for this!)

- Sweeping the floor and vacuuming up the pile of dust and crumbs

- Fetching diapers and wipes for the babies

- Taking wet diapers to the wet bag

- Choosing clothes for the babies to wear in the mornings

- Putting on their own shoes, buttoning and zipping their own coats, packing the diaper bag, etc. before leaving the house

- Folding washcloths, towels, napkins, diapers, and stacking cloth wipes

The face says it all.
- "Supervising" the babies while watching TV so Mom can cook dinner in relative peace

- Loading and unloading the dishwasher (I only let them do silverware and their plastic dishes because our everyday dishes are VERY heavy and have been broken by over-zealous helpers)

My oldest will be 5 in July and does all of this.  The next is 3-and-a-quarter (and SUPER-mature) and does all of these things except buckle and unbuckle her own car seat, and that's just because the buckle is tricky even for ME.  And I don't *always* trust her to wipe herself...  Girls are a little trickier in that area!

Bonus: Eventually they'll be big enough to hold a baby with them on the swing!
It's not everything.  It's not even anything particularly huge, but when you look at how all these little things add up?  IT IS BIG. 

And when you're in the trenches with your 2-under-2 or 3-under-3 or 4-under-4, it seems like it will never get easier because they're all so helpless and really just do nothing for themselves except make messes.  But cultivating a general desire for order, and a general desire to "be a helper" is so huge in lightening your load, even just a little bit.

Life is still crazy, no doubt about it.  But I promise you, there will come a day in the near(ish) future when your 3-year-old keeps begging for more "tasks in the house" and you look in the kitchen to realize that your 4-year-old has laid out all the snacks and served all the children because he happened to be hungry in that moment...  And you didn't have to do anything!

Moms in the trenches and experienced moms - what are some ways your kids help out, even when they're not very old yet?

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What They Said, Volume 10

Sunday, April 27, 2014

John Paul:  "M" drawings are my favorite kind of letter picture!
Me:  Why?
John Paul:  Because "M" is for "Mom" and I love you!!!

Some day he'll ask me to delete this picture from the internet...

John Paul, putting on my sunglasses: This filter is early bird!

Someone is a little too obsessed with instagram...

Cecilia:  Mom, I dwew Jesus' cwoss!  And I dwew a hat on da cwoss!  And I dwew a cwown of thorns on da cwoss!  And I dwew eggs!

Liturgical artist, coming right up.

JP: What if I went to the middle east and I went to the holy land and I visited there???

Photo: A very enthusiastic reenactment of the Annunciation, as you can tell...

JP: We need to go to the middle east so that we can really act out the annunciation. To Mary's house!

Cecilia: 'Member when I saw a jawa with a star in my room?
Me: When you pretended there was one?
Cecilia: A dead jawa.
Me: When was this?
Cecilia: When I was under my sheet.

Mystery solved?  I don't think she even knows what a jawa is...

Cecilia: We want to have a moonbounce in the backyard and dat will be heaven.

Pretty much.

Me:  John Paul, who is your favorite person?
JP:  Grandpa!
Me:  And Cecilia, who is YOUR favorite person?
Cecilia:  TOE!!!
JP:  Toe is not a person!!!
Cecilia:  If my toe turns wed, we can put a band-aid on it, and dwaw a face on it, and it will be a person!!!

Brilliant, that child...

Photo: "Um, when we eat raw lentils, we don't even die!!!"

Cecilia:  Um, when we eat raw lentils, we don't even die!!!

Photo: "John Paul, ask me ' Do you like leggings or skirts brr?'"
"D' you like leggings or skirts better?"
"Skirts! Because they're better for twirling!"

Cecilia:  John Paul, ask me 'Do you like leggings or skirts better?'
JP:  D'you like leggings or skirts better?
Cecilia:  Skirts!  Because dey're better for twirling!!!

In a tender mood...

Cecilia: Mom, I love you...  All da time!
I love you in a rainbow...  
I love you in da sun...  
I love you in a...  ANTHILL!  
I love you in a...  BEEHIVE!!!!!!!!!

Yup, we've got the next Raffi here, folks!

Add your links below - I love reading all your posts :)

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Easter Edition

Thursday, April 24, 2014


We tried dying eggs for the first time ever this year (well, first time ever with the kids.  Duh.  I did not lead a deprived childhood, I dyed plenty of Easter eggs.), and I was really curious about natural dyes, solely because it looks so cool!!!

So we made some solutions of our own (and made it into a mildly educational experience, and John Paul was fascinated and so into it!):

And put the eggs in for about 6 hours (we tried brown and white, just to see the difference):

How lovely are those blueberry and cabbage eggs?  Love the purple and blue!


We've had at least one Easter egg hunt per day since Sunday (pet peeve here - what is with the hunts on Holy Saturday?  Jesus is in the tomb, people!!!), and the kids are hilarious every time with their wild excitement!

Socks with sandals.  Absolutely my most fashionable child.  Today he wore plaid shorts, a blue polo shirt, a green argyle sweater vest, and a plaid tie.  I should have taken a picture...

Surprisingly, she and John Paul are pretty evenly matched when it comes to finding eggs, and they're always excited to eat the little animal crackers inside!


Her little poses here crack me up...  She wanted to wear her Easter dress again on Monday, and since I hadn't gotten many pictures, I asked her to pose for some more:

The crossed ankles!  The lean!  I love it :)

Then we had to adjust the sweater...

And she wanted to show me how she prays!


I still haven't gotten good pictures of the twins in their dresses, but I'm thinking they'll be able to wear them next year, too...

Those sashes!

Seriously, do you see how long?  And this was AFTER I took it up another 3 inches or so...

I used this free pattern and had a LOT of help from my mom.  And I'm thankful that the Christmas fabric I got on clearance will be a lot easier to work with...  Smocked on top so all I have to do is add straps and hem (and maybe add sashes), instead of the pattern pieces and the lining and the everything and seersucker is HARD to work with, especially when you're just learning to sew!  

Check out more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Idol Worship, and other etceteras

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The other day John Paul got in serious trouble for idol worship.

That's right.

Idol worship.

We were reading all about Elijah vs. Ahab in proving that Baal was a false god, and John Paul started arguing, "No!  Baal is a true god!  Baal is the one true god!"

So the story ended and he criiiiiiied and cried and cried and argued and finally sat down, sniffling, and said, "Baal is not a true god.  Could we please finish the story?"

I don't think people believe me when I say he may be the most argumentative child ever.  But seriously.  Idol worship.  And let's not mention the fact that he has been crafting various "idols" out of silverware lately.  Oh wait, I just mentioned it.

And this is the kid that people say, "Oh yeah, he wants his first communion so badly so clearly he understands it enough to start receiving!"

This is why he is not ready.

Idol worship.


Did you see this post about 50 Ways to Celebrate Easter?  It's awesome, and not just because my sister wrote it!  I totally laid the smackdown on an 8th grade boy who was saying Easter is over today...  I was like, "NO!  Easter is NOT over, there are EIGHT DAYS and then the season is FIFTY DAYS LONG!"

Too bad I don't teach in a Catholic school...

But seriously, go eat a lot of meat this Friday!  It's so rare that Fridays end up being solemnities, so grab a burger, would you?


Have I mentioned that Elizabeth loves accessories?  Because she loves accessories.

I'm pretty sure she's imagining herself in an old-fashioned convertible, wind blowing through her hairs.

Seriously, how is she the happiest child?  She had a runny nose for about a week and then Andrew stuck his finger in her mouth and felt that all four molars had broken without us even noticing!  I figured she was teething, but she only had four teeth total, so I was waiting for the usual progression.


Mary Claire is not teething nearly as gracefully.  Drool everywhere, CRAZY emotional displays (I'm talking throwing herself on the floor sobbing any time anything doesn't go EXACTLY the way she wants it), and still no canines to show for the trouble.

But she still manages to pull out some cuteness:

She usually says the Hail Mary better without an elephant in her mouth ;)  (Elizabeth was trying to help, but she doesn't have the whole thing down quite yet)


Cecilia tells us she has her own garden.  It's a dirt patch in the front yard that seems to grow the tallest dandelions and she is SO pleased with it!

Striped dress.  Mom's chevron scarf.  Argyle sweater.  Fashion.

And those curls!  She wanted Princess Leia buns before bed to make John Paul laugh, and then she kept them in all night and woke up with Shirley Temple ringlets!  Too adorable.


I've been collecting quotes and am totally going to do an April "What They Said" link-up -  who's in?  Monday the 28th?  Volume 10!

Answer Me This: What We Wore Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Alleluia!!!  He is risen!!!

And now to hammer out a super-quick post so my sister doesn't shoot me for not having posted since Monday...

Doubling my link-up fun today with Kendra's Answer Me This and Fine Linen & Purple's What I Wore Sunday (Easter edition!):

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

I need to get better pictures of the dresses - my mom and I were up waaaaaaaaaaay too late last night finishing them up (thank goodness she's an expert because I am still VERY much learning to sew...) and wow are the girls ever adorable!

John Paul's wearing a vest I made him but I couldn't figure out that darned buttonhole foot soooo we decided it's a "loose, swingy vest" that's meant to hang open :P  

Andrew's suit is the same one he wears every year, and isn't it fabulous?  Every time he leaves for court in that thing, I love to imagine the looks on people's faces when he walks into the room :)

And my dress is eShakti from a while back - I've worn it here once, but not for a while because buttons keep falling off and I forget to sew them back on (frustrating!).  The cropped cardigan is oooooold H&M I think, at least from college.  The hat is the one I wear every year, and the hair is in serious need of a chop.  A BIG chop.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs down, mostly - I think it's a weird, weird tradition and would rather keep standards low and let the kids know that what they get comes from Mom and Dad.  Heck, they filled their own eggs AND hid them for their egg hunt this morning...  But it's not a moral or religious thing really, it's just that we don't really do Santa or the Tooth Fairy or any of that, although they do firmly believe in many, many imaginary things (including Santa...), so I think their childhood is still plenty magical :)

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?

Our house!  I like to be the one in charge of the food, plus it's a lot of work to coordinate naptimes and not worry too much about the kids trashing someone else's house.  John Paul has an inner compass that points him to all things electronic, so he tends to reprogram DVRs, set every timer he can find, change the temperature on someone else's refrigerator, etc...  And the babies eat everything they can find.  Cecilia sits and reads quietly.  Sigh.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

For Easter?  Starburst jellybeans, no question.  Really at all times I love those.  I REALLY love candy.  A lot.  Also the Ferrero Rocher hazelnut truffles.  And Cadbury mini-eggs (not the ACTUAL eggs, those are nasty...).  And Heath Bars.  I'm just going to stop now, because all we ended up getting was a bag of regular jelly beans and we're planning on hitting up the post-Easter sales to get the rest of our candy fix.

5. Do you like video games?

I do, but I don't really have time to play - I kind of love all the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones and all of those types of games.  I used to play The Sims a lot in high school and college.  But I stopped playing a while back because there was no time and it just felt like there were much more productive things I could do.  We'll see if the kids get much exposure - right now they like to watch Andrew play Mario every once in a while, but that's about it.

6. Do you speak another language? 

Not really - I took yeeeeeeears and years of French, but have forgotten most of it.

Here!  Some more pictures to make my sister happy!

Mouths full of animal crackers, Elizabeth holding 3 of the 4 weird Easter bunnies that the kids got in their baskets...

Not impressed by Grandma's silly face (I LOVE her expression here!).

And the baby "Easter egg hunt" indoors before naps...

I'll do Holy Week & Easter recap posts soon, I hope - I've got tons of pictures but have been spending all my free time sewing and cooking!  

ALLELUIA!!!  He is risen!  Go eat some bacon!!!

Blog Harassment & Another Liebster?

Monday, April 14, 2014

I've been skimping on the link-ups lately, according to my sister...  So in reparation for not getting a picture of yesterday's attire, here's a post with all the things for you!

She brings me hair ties ALL the time and begs me to put them in her hair.  Smocked dress + tiny fountain = 1 million times the cuteness!

See that adorable little sunburn?  We went hiking on Saturday and it didn't even occur to any of us that it might end up being sunny enough to need sunscreen...  Well, we all got plenty of vitamin D and the kids are adorably pink without being painful.  We generally just stay out of the sun during peak hours, rather than deal with all the chemicals in sunscreen (or buy the RIDICULOUSLY expensive "safe" sunscreen).

John Paul wanted to be in the picture so I told him to jump and dance with Elizabeth.  Which he took to mean pick her up and jump her in the air!  She thought it was hilarious, and it was absolutely adorable :)

Mary Claire is a terror lately.  First she figured out how to climb onto the ottoman that was blocking the fireplace, so I had to move that and fill the fireplace with toy bins to "block it" (so far, so good).  Then she figured out how to climb onto the bench and get onto the BIG table, which was great when I found her very casually dipping her fingers into Cecilia's cup of milk and then using her wet hand to pick up Rice Krispies.  But this?  She took a stool over to the futon and has figured out how to scale it to try to climb through the random window between the playroom and the dining room.

Yeah, she was about to topple through.  Although not quite, which is why I took pictures instead of moving her.

"What?  It wouldn't be THAT far a drop onto my head!"

Photo: Sweet girl has been picking flowers for Mary all week and was so excited to take some to her before Mass :)

And because Cecilia needs to be in this post somewhere...  Every time she does outside she spends most of her time searching for wildflowers and picks as many as she can to "take to Mary next time we go to church!"  So before Mass on Sunday (sans John Paul, who was being punished for ATROCIOUS behavior the past two Sundays), I took her outside and let her pick daffodils for Mary.  She was SO happy and knelt in front of the Mary statue at church to pray her Hail Mary on the way into Mass and out of Mass.  Can't beat a 3-year-old in a chapel veil, can you?

And speaking of John Paul not getting to go to Mass, last night our prayer intention from our Lenten prayer chain was "For all fallen-away Catholics."  He asked what a "fallen-away Catholic" is and we told him that it's someone who's Catholic who doesn't go to Mass anymore.

"OH!" He exclaimed, distraught, "I didn't go to Mass today!!!"

At which point we reminded him that he hasn't received any of his sacraments besides baptism, and that even if he HAD and he hadn't gone to Mass, he could go to confession and it would be okay.  But how sweet is that?

Oh and Abbey at Surviving Our Blessings tagged me for a Liebster, so I'm going to play along however I want and not bother tagging anyone becaaaaaaause I don't feel like it?

Her questions:

  • What is the best meal you've ever eaten (where, with whom, relevant details...)?
  • Anything at The Melting Pot or Texas de Brazil.  Ohhhh man everything is so delicious there and I'm always hungry ALL the time so it satisfies my insatiable appetite with delicious delicious delicious food!  And I pretty much always go with Andrew, because those are expensive, fancy places.  Mmmmm meat...  And cheese...  Now you're making me hungry!
  • If you could only have 3 books to read/reread for the rest of your life, which 3 would you choose?
  • I should probably pick The Bible.  And it's been a while since I last read it, but I used to read Gone With the Wind at least once a year, so probably that.  Then can I cheat and have all of Orson Scott Card's books piled into one volume?  Because I love pretty much all of them (except Songmaster, that one gives me nightmares for a looooong time every time I read it so I just got rid of it!).
  • What one habit or trait would you erase from your life?
  • I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I'm pretty darned lazy and wish I weren't so!  Motherhood has forced me to be more of a grown-up, but I'd really like to just lie in bed reading all day, every day if I could.
  • What is your favorite day of the week and why?
  • Saturday!  No obligations, no work, family time all day long!
  • What's your favorite quotation?
  • Pass.  Too hard.  Can't think of one!
  • Do you wear shoes in the house?
  • Slippers when it's cold, otherwise no.  Gotta set a good example for the kids, who are well-trained and won't even walk all the way into the house without taking off their shoes (which is fun when I'm right behind them carrying groceries and two babies...)!
  • What's your favorite chore and why?
  • Does cooking count?  Because I looooove to cook!
  • What one song would you like to never hear again?
  • Ugh this "King of the Bongo Bong" song from one of the kids' cds...  It gets stuck in your head for weeks and it's not even REMOTELY good!
  • What one word are you most likely to misspell?
  • Broccoli.  Well, not anymore, I think I have that one down.  Foccacia I spelled wrong the other day.  Focaccia?  Foccaccia?  I think Focaccia...  I'm not going to look it up.  Too lazy to open another tab.
  • If you could close your eyes and be any place in time or space when you opened them, where would you be?
  • Asleep in my bed?  Um, probably not a good answer.  I don't know, this time and space is really good for me - maybe yesterday when the weather was perfect and everyone was outside and it was just wonderful and fun?  
  • If you had to rename yourself, what name would you choose?
  • When I was 7 or so, I desperately wanted to be named Tiffany or Theresa.  DESPERATELY.  I'm good with my name now :)

  • So there you have it - long enough post for you?  I'll be surprised if you made it to the end and you aren't my mom or sister!

    7 Quick Takes: Chunky Legs, Awkward Dance Moves, and Epic Meltdowns

    Friday, April 11, 2014


    Can we just appreciate how absolutely adorable a toddler is, even from behind?  The chunky legs, the poofy skirt (puffed up more by a cloth diaper), wispy hair...  I'm so spoiled to have two of them at once!


    And it's a good thing, because Cecilia is distinctly NOT a toddler anymore... 

    She wanted me to take pictures of her dancing, and I'm just really confused by the hands behind the head...

    She was trying so hard to do her "ballet" but it just doesn't work up on a bookshelf...  And makes it look like the hip pop is a little too purposeful!

    Of course, this one was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself!


    And no, those shorts in the picture above are not shorts that can be classified as "clothing" - they're intended to be layered under a skirt or dress so that she can flip or somersault to her heart's content without flashing everyone...  But she's convinced that if she pairs them with a similar t-shirt, it makes the outfit into a romper.  As long as she doesn't leave the house, I'm not arguing - I pick my battles.

    And I really pick my battles these days, because this girl for whom 2 was a breeze is making up for it in spades now that she's 3...

    "DAD, YOU DIMWIT!!!"

    Not once has she thrown one of her epic tantrums over something that matters - she just seems to arbitrarily choose to be the grumpiest child on the planet and take it out on everybody...  But oh, her threats are so hilarious that I can't help but enjoy the tantrums, which I probably shouldn't do!


    Despite the tantrums, most of the time she's lovely - we're getting close to the end of our Lenten prayer chain and she and John Paul have started leading the prayers which is adooooooorable!  They're still pretty formulaic, but last night she was praying, "God, please bless Father Andrew with...  Please help him be a good pwiest for his people, and...  Please help him be healthy and...  Please...  Help him be healthy...  And please bless him wif love.  And John Paul, what do you want God to bless him wif?"

    Adorable.  I about died at that last line, where she just parroted what Andrew and I say during these prayers!


    John Paul found Andrew's Jerome Biblical Commentary today (an old hardcover, not the edition in the Amazon link) and just about died of excitement...  A BIG book!  Maps!  All the facts!

    He's just. So. Strange.  Whenever Kelly gets around to writing her list of:


    Well, I can tell you one 4-year-old who will ABSOLUTELY choose those books over video games.


    Big nerd.

    But you knew that.


    This week's posts:

    Growing Up (my kids are weird...  REALLY weird...)

    Is that it?  Well, I got the skirts on the Easter dresses sewn AND the bodices are halfway done...  Productivity and blogging don't exactly go hand-in-hand!


    Not all the daffodils have been picked by the kids...  They've actually been doing a halfway decent job leaving them alone, and Cecilia knows she's allowed to pick any and all dandelions and wildflowers she sees growing, so she usually comes in every afternoon with a handful of wildflowers clutched in her chubby little grip so that she can give them to Mary whenever we go to church next.  Maybe this will be the year we get an outdoor statue and plant our own Mary garden?  I know Cecilia would love love LOVE it...  Any suggestions for statues?  

    Today I let her pick ONE daffodil.  She took that to mean 4.  Close enough.

    Check out more Quick Takes at Jen's (and convince her to make my house a stop on her DC tour)!

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