Palm Sunday Style

Monday, March 30, 2015

I'm gonna hammer out this post real quick just because I have the pictures and otherwise I'll never post it...

Red. Palm Sunday. Exhausted. SO MUCH HAIR!!! If I'm on the ball, I'll get it chopped off this week - remind me to call for an appointment, would you?

Out of focus. But I'm posting it anyway because Cecilia. This is the face she is ALWAYS making at Peter and he adores her SO much.

Good face, Mary Claire.

Anyway, I left the twins at home because I knew trying to get them to sit through the entire Passion with palms to rip apart was NOT going to go well. John Paul and Cecilia did great, although John Paul got a liiiittle too enthusiastic with the whole "PROPHESY!!!" part...  

They very excitedly showed Father their palm crosses after Mass. "I hope you didn't make those during the homily!" He said.

Guilty. But in my defense, that's when they started poking each other in the face with them, so I took them and made crosses for each real quick and they were good as gold the rest of Mass!

In other news, Holy Week might be a good time to declutter this here Little Oratory, eh?

Plaid pants. This is why little boys are the best :) Peter has several seersucker outfits from which to choose for Easter Sunday (how did we accumulate so many??? I blame the whole first time parent thing...), the girls have matching dresses, John Paul is in need of something spiffy ("Oh, I'll just wear my Christmas bow tie!!!") because he's wearing the same suit he wore for Christmas...  I purchased fabric for a skirt but we'll see if I get it made! 

I'm just really, really excited for Easter. We all are, I think. It's been a really good Lent, although I remembered the other day that the reason I didn't give up TV for Lent last year (and I gave it up this year) was that I didn't get any chores done the last time I did that - the only way I can convince myself to do all the dishes or fold all the laundry is if I have something to watch... And when I give up TV, I read a LOT of books, which means no multitasking. So next year, remind me not to give up TV again!

One more thing before I sign off for Holy Week - a friend suggested this devotion in particular for parents of small children who aren't able to attend Triduum liturgies (I know I can never go to much of anything because of constant nursing babies, and because Andrew's always doing music stuff so we can't even switch off!). It goes from 6 PM Holy Thursday to 6 PM Good Friday, and has Scripture verses and prayers for every hour (including overnight). 

I'm thinking I'll probably do it for as much of the overnight hours as I can - sleep deprivation is making me a terribly horribly grumpy and mean person these days, so I can't make my family suffer by adding extra night wakings to my schedule! But in case you're in the same boat as me, I think this would be a great way to take something extra on :)

Okay, I've already written for longer than I meant to tonight... See you on Easter!

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

Baby Conducting, Haircuts, and Homeschool Wins {7QT}

Friday, March 27, 2015


I glanced over at Andrew while he was going over his music for Sunday and saw that Peter was conducting along. Adorable much?

Wrong hand, though.  But he's got time to learn ;)


The other day the twins were in the playroom and I heard them talking about hair cuts... At which point I ran in to check on them because I was pretty sure that meant they had found scissors and were cutting each others hair...

But no!!!  They were making pretend scissors using the craft sticks with velcro that we use to make various shapes (easiest ever - jumbo craft sticks + adhesive velcro on each end = less than $10!):

Mary Claire LOVES pretending to have her hair cut. Which is good, because she desperately needs a REAL hair cut and we've been practicing a lot...

Then they wanted to "cut" MY hair. And I was being nice and let them... Which basically means the hook part of the velcro kept getting caught in my hair and pulling it out.

So, you know, I've done my "good mom" duty for the week.


We have this Encyclopedia of Music (which is GREAT if you happen to have a kid who likes big books with lots of information) and John Paul's been reading it a lot lately.  Which leads to random pretend play in which he's Bach and the girls all call him Johann and it's hilarious.

And then he'll just leave random stuff like this on the chalkboard:

Or on the whiteboard:

(Yes I know, PEMDAS. I didn't have the heart to correct him when it is not at all necessary that he know algebra at the age of 5. Or division, for that matter...)
Part of me wishes I could give him access to a computer so that he could explore all these composers to his heart's content.  The other part of me knows that he would just go to the PBS website and play Curious George games if he were allowed on the computer...


He's also been reading Leviticus aloud to me. 

Me: Don't you want to go play outside? Him: Well, I'm just reading from Leviticus...
Needless to say, I'm learning a lot.

(Oh! My sister even did a podcast Bible study with him and Cecilia - you can check it out here if you want to hear them talk about saints! And we did one together too but John Paul & Cecilia are probably more interesting than me...)


Meanwhile, Cecilia is trying hard to learn how to read and write, and I'm trying to decide how much to help her...  We did like, the first 9 lessons of 100 Easy Lessons, but it was soooo boring and she already knew all her letters and the sounds they make, so I was cutting a bunch out anyway. And she just wanted to get to the parts in the book with pictures! So at this point she can pretty much sound out 3 & 4-letter words, and can often sound out longer words with context clues. And she's trying to figure out how to spell, which is hilarious, and a stage I kind of wish John Paul had gone through, since he's hard wired to spell everything correctly and we never had any hilarious errors!

This is a picture of a hospital, spelled "LODI HOSB" (or HOSBIDOL if you can tell what she's going for) - she ran out of space in the middle, so she kept going on the other side, but in mirror image. I will treasure it forever!

Anyway, she's enjoying herself so much and figuring things out on her own and asking for help when she needs it, so I'm thinking I need to go against my instinct to teach all the things and...  Just let her be. Because she's 4.


It's been a couple weeks since I did Quick Takes! If you only stop by here via Kelly's blog, here's what I've posted since the last time I linked up with her:

Candlelit Prayer Card (we're making these today!)
What Your Kids REALLY Need (In Their Easter Baskets) - Glory Stories review with a coupon for a free product!
Spring Style Roundup (in case you need ideas!)


I was tempted to do a house tour like Jenny, only to make YOU feel better about YOUR house, because I have zero eye for decor and the only things we have hanging on the walls are there because the nails were already in when they staged the house...

Then I realized I'd have to make sure things were actually clean to take pictures.

So no, not gonna happen. Although my strategy of sending the kids outdoors for hours at a time is actually keeping things MUCH tidier! Yay, spring!

But just in case you wish you could see it, the theme of our home is "Things we bought in college or got at IKEA" so you can probably guess what everything looks like :)


I'll just leave you with one last picture of the baby, because he's the cutest!

Check out more Quick Takes at Kelly's!

Spring Style Roundup

Thursday, March 26, 2015

This started out as an Easter Outfit Roundup. 

Two weeks ago.

Life, you know? 

So, while it's not too late to get *some* of these things in time for Easter, it's probably too late to get most of it. And if you're like me and tend to get paralyzed with indecision and do ALL the research when it comes time to buy new clothing? Well, I've done your research for you!

At least, I've done your research if you're looking for somewhat preppy, full-skirted, fairly practical, nursing-friendly (with the right shirt, if you're going with a skirt) clothes!

What can I say, I'm kind of a niche blogger.

Anyway, I was looking back at old Easter pictures for ideas on what to wear.  Andrew wears the same seersucker suit every year, so our style kind of revolves around that. 

Banana Republic dress that requires rather a lot of uncomfortable maneuvering to be nursing-friendly, but Cecilia was 14 months at this point so she wasn't nursing all that often.
Shabby Apple shirt dress - perfect for nursing!

eShakti button-down dress with cropped sweater - also works great for nursing!

The girls and John Paul are already covered because I bought them wedding clothes over the summer that I knew would still fit by Easter. And I may very well just end up wearing the same thing as last year, but...  If I had my pick? Here's what I love:

This post contains affiliate links:

If I had unlimited funds, I would snap up that Boden shirt dress in a second! As it is though, the price is a little steep and I'm hoping for a sale. The Mille Skirt is my absolute favorite but I think I already have too many skirts in that color to justify a purchase...  And I actually ordered that Polka Dot Swing Dress (in navy) and it was perfect for hiding a tummy and the neckline is nice and stretchy for easy nursing. But I've got kind of meaty arms, and the elastic on the sleeves was just too tight for me. 

What I'm really tempted to do is get some fabric and try my hand at making this skirt but I just don't know if I'll have time... Decisions, decisions! 

What are you looking forward to wearing this spring? I'm excited to break out some of my favorites soon!

What Your Kids REALLY Need (in their Easter Baskets)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

About a year ago the kids were introduced to the Holy Heroes CDs for the first time, through a CD with the stories of Blessed Imelda Lambertini and St. Juan Diego.  That CD has been seriously loved in our house, especially by Cecilia, who was 3 at the time. 

The weekend after she heard the story, she whispered to me at Mass, "Mom...  I want to be like Blessed Imelda."

"Okay honey...  You want to be a saint?"

"No, I want to receive my first communion like her!"

"Well, you'll have to wait until you're older..."


Her latest work - she's still got a serious devotion!
The kids kept asking when we could get more Holy Heroes CDs but I just couldn't pick what to get next... So when Jenny from Holy Heroes asked if we'd be interested in reviewing the CDs? We were ALL excited!

Cecilia took ownership of the Stations of the Cross coloring book (and immediately started coloring every picture of Simon of Cyrene with blonde hair and a brown beard. I don't even know...) and John Paul has been cheating and working ahead in his Lenten Adventure Activity Book (which doesn't start until Palm Sunday!).

But their ABSOLUTE favorite thing in the package? The Holy Heroes Matching Game! I wish you could hear Cecilia's gasp when she saw the picture of Blessed Imelda! They've been playing it like Go Fish, which is pretty adorable to hear - "Do you have any Holy Families?"

John Paul chose the story of Blessed Miguel Pro, and we've listened to it a few times already - I think that one in particular is a good one for adults, because there's a little mini-lecture by Patrick Madrid at the end.

And he very carefully wrote a thank you note on a post-it and closed it inside the laptop in order to email it...

A few days later I put in the Stations of the Cross CD for us to pray together - I left it to load, changed Peter's diaper, and came back to sweet Cecilia on her knees praying!

This girl... She and the others have been planning out which CDs we need to get next - they're SO excited! And I have every intention of collecting them all (which is why I signed up for the affiliate program - I'm totally spending any percentage I get from your purchases on more CDs and coloring books for us!).

Of course, they may also have been interested in the random graphics the computer was displaying along with the CD...  But Mary Claire was praying along with us by the end!

The CDs are dramatic representations of the lives of the saints (they also have the Stations of the Cross, Mysteries of the Rosary, and other prayers) - they're vivid, exciting, and completely hold the older kids' attention! The twins are getting there, but they're two... I love that I can send them to the basement while I'm cooking dinner and they're perfectly happy to listen to Glory Stories instead of watching TV! I'm planning on letting the kids listen in the car too, which would be an especially great idea if you drive a lot.

I'm so excited to share these awesome products with you - if you make any purchase from their website before Easter, you can get your own Matching Game for free using the coupon code m4tch4m0m (perfect for Easter baskets!). And the Lenten Adventure Activity Book is 50% off right now as well!

For more information, go check out the Holy Heroes blog and their website.  Thank you so much for any purchases you make through my affiliate link - Cecilia especially will be ecstatic when she gets her Blessed Imelda coloring book in her Easter basket, and John Paul's hoping we can get the St. Faustina CD in time for Divine Mercy Sunday :)

I received complimentary products in exchange for my honest review, but all opinions are my own. I wouldn't have agreed to review these if I didn't already know we'd love them!

Decorate an Alleluia Banner With Your Kids {Guest Post}

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good morning! Today Tacy from Picture a Skyline is guest posting with a craft to help prepare your kids for Easter! I love how simple this is, and I know all my kids will really enjoy making this one. 

You could customize it easily by letting them paint the flowers (which would be beautiful and is NOT what we're going to do because I know my limits) or color with crayons or colored pencils. Then hide it away and bring it out again for Easter morning!

Tacy is a wife and mom of three little girls and one boy, with another baby due in September! She blogs at Picture a Skyline, and also writes for Real Housekeeping, an online magazine.

This year, the most fun craft we did during Lent was actually more like a Preparing-for-Easter type thing.  I'm on the fence as to how to categorize it, but we're going with Lent, since that's when we made and decorated our Alleluia banner. However, this will make a nice decoration on our pantry door all through Eastertide!

This particular craft was fun because it was good for all of my girls ages 2, 4, and 6, but, as you may have guessed, my one-year-old boy didn't take much interest in it, if any.

First, I made the Alleluia letters in text edit (on a Mac), using the "Zapfino" 72 pt. font. Each letter took up its own line, so it took about 3-4 sheets of paper to print.  I then cut out the letters, and attached them to the gray card stock paper. We used two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper. For the printing, you could also use Google Drive.

I found some pretty, free printable flowers from I printed those out on white card stock paper, and let my girls take turns coloring them with markers. I was so impressed at how they took their time and did their best with coloring the flowers.

I made the border using a collage of cut-outs from an LL Bean magazine. I used a ruler to mark off a border on the gray cardstock first, then filled it in with cut-outs from said magazine. My oldest helped a little, but the little girls just had fun using kid scissors to cut pieces of magazine into little, tiny pieces that didn't end up making it to the border! They mostly ended up on the floor. I also had an exclamation point, but that went the way of little hands holding kid scissors! Haha, oh well! They all helped with cutting out the flowers, but again, my littlest ones mostly cut the leftover paper just for fun!

We attached the flowers with clear, heavy tape. And again, we used card stock for the base, and for printing out the flowers. I think the success of your project really depends on using card stock for this. I highly recommend it for coloring with markers and cutting practice for little hands!

To make your own:
1. Print out the word Alleluia using text edit, or Google Drive, or a word processor of your choice.
2. Then, print these flowers out:
3. Cut out the letters for Alleluia.
4. Color and then cut out your flowers.
5. Attach to card stock color of choice.
6. Add a collage border using magazine of choice.
7. If desired, add an exclamation point at the end!
8. There you are! All done! :-)

I really hope you try this with your kids. We had a lot of fun making our Alleluia Banner.

Thanks so much for the great craft, Tacy! I'll definitely be making this with my kids - they'll love it!

You can visit Tacy at Picture a Skyline - go check out her blog!

Want to check out more?  Here's a sensory bin you could create, a prayer chain, a free printable coloring book, a lacing cross, or a candlelit prayer card.

WIWS: It's Passiontide!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Where are my boots?  Seriously, where did they go?  I got out the camera to take these pictures and couldn't find either pair ANYWHERE.  So, here are some blurry pictures of me in my socks - I would have skipped it but do you SEE Peter's face? Adorable. He's a little bit obsessed with Cecilia.

Argyle socks.  It's the only way.

Incidentally, it's almost the same outfit that I wore about a year ago in this post: Fashion in the First Trimester and the Fourth. Yes, I'm out of the fourth trimester and yes, I still have about that much belly...  So, you know, still following my rules about fashion!

In other news, it's Passion Sunday! What does that mean?  I thought this was a good explanation. You probably noticed that your church veiled all the statues, artwork, and crucifixes today - we're in the home stretch of Lent! We started doing this at home a couple of years back, too - Elizabeth was absolutely HEARTBROKEN when she saw it this morning and kept asking us to "uncrucifix da cwoss," but now she's okay with it and keeps talking about all the things in the house that AREN'T shrouded (such as her cheese, her apple, etc...).

It's SUPER easy to do - just run to a fabric store and grab a couple yards of purple fabric (something nice and drapey that won't fray easily), and cut it into pieces to cover any crucifixes, statues, icons, etc. in your house.  Then on Easter morning it's all uncovered!  The kids ADORE this and are already looking forward to it so much.  

I was pretty proud of Cecilia when she told me, "And on Easter, Jesus will be risen! And all the statues and pictures will be uncovered! AND we'll go on an Easter Egg hunt!!!"

YES! In that order - good girl :)

Mary Claire was the twin who got to go to Mass with us this morning, and I'm hoping her behavior was a sign that she's turned a corner - surprisingly quiet, and she's finally figuring out how to whisper! Having older siblings as a good example REALLY does help, thank goodness.

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday - what are YOU wearing?

What to Say Besides "Your Hands Are Full"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A few weeks ago I got it into my head that it was time to attempt the grocery store with all 5 kids in tow.  After all, most of the snow on the ground had melted, everyone had been reasonably well-behaved lately, and I had promised John Paul we could make subs for dinner one night rather than spend a heck of a lot more money going to that fast food establishment.

This is what they look like when I don't get them dressed myself...
Of course, by the time I actually had everyone up from naps, diapered, dressed in clean clothing, and shod?  Well, it was 4 o'clock.  But by golly, we were GOING!

Mistake #1: Assuming the sunny sky indicated warm temperatures and that I could ditch the leggings under my dress.

This mistake was made abundantly clear in the parking lot as I wore the baby on my chest, held a twin's hand in each of mine, and had older siblings clinging to the straps of my purse.  The gusty winds of which I had been unaware made their presence known by attempting to blow up my light dress repeatedly, as I staggered to the front of the grocery store while clutching my arms to my sides and encouraging the kids to walk faster!!!

HA is right - why would anyone walk faster when instead you could carefully use the crosswalk as a pretend balance beam and attempt to trip all your siblings in the process?

Mistake #2: Attempting to buckle toddlers into the cart before being well inside the store.

The wind continued its frigid gusting as I attempted the straps on one of those massive megacarts.  Meanwhile John Paul and Cecilia were already in the store and had discovered the bane of every parent's existence: little carts.

I pushed the cart inside the automatic door, only to get rather stuck in the cart corral - I tried to buckle the twins quickly but that darned automatic door kept opening and blowing icy winds at us, eliciting more and more cries of "COLD!!!  I'm COLD!!!" from both twins.

By the time everybody was in seats and the big kids were reminded of proper "little cart" etiquette (Stay right behind Mom, do not push your cart into Mom, stay where I can see you.), we had attracted quite an audience.

Is there a BABY in there???

You know, the typical "You've got your hands full!" and "Are they all yours?" and the always hesitant "...Twins?" comments.  Even one rather funny, "Wow!  That's not something you see every day - I wish I could take a picture!"  Truly, they don't bother me anymore because really, my hands are full!

Although I've still never gotten the famous "Are your twins natural?" comment and I want someone to ask me that because I'm going to look at them with a straight face and just say, "Nope. Robots." and walk away.

Anyway, they were all very well-intentioned comments, and more than anything else I was just amused by how very many of the same comment we managed to attract in just one shopping trip!  Probably more than any other shopping trip I've ever taken with kids in tow, combined...

We made our way to the deli counter for the very, very big treat of freshly sliced meat.  And the very kind man at the counter made his share of the exact same comment every other shopper had treated us to, with the addition of "What does your husband do?"

That one is probably the only one that comes close to bothering me, because everybody always gets much kinder when they find out that he's a lawyer, and they can assume we're "rich enough" to afford all these kids (never mind the fact that being a lawyer does not guarantee a high salary - what if he were a public defender?).

He also called over another worker to come look at the spectacle we are, which I thought was REALLY funny.  And then he gave the kids all giant samples of the deli meat we were getting, so all was forgiven ;)

All things said and done, we got through our trip relatively unscathed, which was shocking to me. But I suppose it's to be expected that by the time any mom has 5 kids, she has to have gotten halfway decent at getting out of the house!

So why do you never actually see any parents with large families out in public?  I'd say that one of the number one things I hear about large families is that they don't exist anymore, because people just never see them.  Which makes sense to a point - when you have more than a few kids, it just becomes easier to save grocery outings for after the kids are in bed.  Or the older kids are in school (or *gasp* even old enough to stay home/watch some of the younger kids!), so you don't see the entire family at once. But they do exist, I promise!

We just go into hibernation in the winter...

And the fact that I never ever see other big(ish) families when we're out makes me think...  Maybe it would be a good idea to get out more often and be that witness to the world that these mythical big families do exist? And maybe if we get out, I should put forth that extra effort to make sure that faces are clean and hair is combed so we're not presenting ourselves as that slovenly, silly family where the mom can't possibly keep her kids looking presentable...

To a point - kids have minds of their own, and I did let Elizabeth leave the house in a tutu and a cupcake hat today because I pick my battles.

But if I make an effort to get out in public and be that witness more often, I promise that if you see me I don't need a pat on the back for it, because all my brood proves is that I'm rather fertile and we probably need cheese sticks. And you probably can also skip the "Gee, your hands sure are full!" comment because, while I don't mind, we've all heard it before.

I know we're under more scrutiny than most, because our life choices fall outside the norm. And I won't be offended if you stick your foot in your mouth.

But all you really need to do is smile and say, "What a beautiful family! Why don't I buy you a bottle of wine, Mom!"

And we will be best friends forever.

Candlelit Prayer Card {Guest Post}

Monday, March 16, 2015

Good morning!  Can you believe we only have a few more weeks left until Easter?  Our prayer chain is getting shorter and shorter, and we're finally in the home stretch, it seems!  I love the craft that Amanda is posting about today, and am planning on doing it as soon as possible with all of the kids (even the two-year-olds!).

Amanda is a mom of 2 sweet boys who blogs about faith, food, photography, and motherhood at Erring on the Side of Love.  She's also one of the absolute sweetest ladies in the Catholic blogging world - I think you'll really enjoy getting to know her!

Lent is such a beautiful time to slow down, be more intentional, fast so that you can be emptied and then filled back up again with more of Him, and to pray more. Our liturgical rhythm is such a good one and I know I am forever thankful for the way it draws me in, every. single. year!

For this craft, I was thinking about prayer meanwhile mentally sifting through all the leftover random craft supplies we had at home. When we craft around here it's usually with what we have already. It's just kind of how we do.

While I was doing my mental sift, I remembered these little cards for Priesthood Sunday that the boys had such a fun time making. I got to thinking more about prayer and cards and glue sticks and torn paper and easy and...Voila! I present to you Candle Lit Prayer Cards for friends and family.

My boys love all things tearing and glue sticks and scissors as can be found visible in the photo above.

I drew some quick and painless candles to give them some borders and let them get to tearing.

The boys picked who they wanted to light a prayer candle for. These same persons are the ones receiving these lovely little cards.

My oldest picked a friend of his, my youngest picked his Uncle (my brother), and I picked my Grandma (Mama joined craft time too.). We lit a candle at the table, said a prayer for all of them, and then got back to crafting.

My oldest one wanted to use scissors to cut the paper which was fine by me.

Here they are all cut, glued, and crafted together. I added some text on the outside and some on the inside as well explaining that we lit a candle in prayer for each them.

I also let the boys sign their names and add whatever personal touches they wanted to add on the inside.

My two year old is really into drawing circles and random shapes right now.

I let the little guys put on the stamps...

and walk the cards out to the mailbox.

Full disclosure: we only had one bout of tears because glue stick on anything within reach is not okay.

But at the end of it all, I could tell they really loved making the Candle Lit Prayer Cards! They loved lighting the candles and saying a prayer for the people that we all chose to pray for and just seemed really proud of their work. Walking it out to the mailbox was also delighted in.

My oldest has even asked when we can pray for more people so that we can make them cards and light candles for them. I love seeing prayer and love encouraged in these little guys and love even more when it's the little simple things that so easily nourish it!

Thank you, Rosie for having me over at your amazing space! Hope you all enjoyed this little bit of easy crafting and pray your littles get to enjoy it as much as mine did!

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Amanda!  I'm excited to do this with the kids - what an awesome idea!  

You can visit Amanda at Erring on the Side of Love - go check her blog out!

Want to check out more?  Here's a sensory bin you could create, a prayer chain, a free printable coloring book, or a lacing cross.
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