What to Wear: Fall Mom Style

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ah, fall. I'm not like some people who have been wishing for it since July... In fact, pumpkin spice anything makes me a little queasy (not pregnant, just REALLY don't like pumpkin). But like it or not (usually I'm happy about fall, I think I just didn't get enough summer this year!), temperatures are down and cooler weather is here to stay!

Which means I'm getting my cool-weather clothes out and noticing what's wearing out and what gaps I need to fill. I got a few nice wardrobe staples when Twice liquidated their stock, but I've still got some holes I need to fill in my wardrobe.

When it comes down to it, I have a couple basic outfits that make up the majority of my wardrobe in the fall:

1. Dress/long tunic + leggings + scarf + boots

2. Sweater/button-down + straight skirt + boots

And really, those are pretty much the formulas I stick to. I got a couple pairs of jeans (again, Twice!) in anticipation of doing hardcore farm work, and I know I'll be wearing them when we plant our fruit trees and do *hard* work like that, but mostly after wearing them I realize how much I still hate wearing pants. So yeah, those aren't coming back into the regular wardrobe rotation.

I'd go take a picture of all my clothes and make one of those really nice "capsule wardrobe" posts that all the cool bloggers do but... I blog when the kids are asleep. And the baby sleeps in my room. So that's probably never gonna happen.

Instead, I'll give you a basic list of things that are currently building up my wardrobe (or things I *would* buy this season if we weren't currently paying two mortgages... So thanks for clicking through my affiliate links, because that's the only way I have money to buy new things!):


Leggings. Leggings, leggings, leggings. I don't think you can HAVE too many pairs of leggings, and I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair for ages. I don't wear them as pants - the booty must be covered, and really I'm more comfortable having a dress/tunic that comes at least to mid-thigh when I'm wearing leggings. But I don't think you can have too many pairs.

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I've been pretty happy with these J.Crew Factory leggings - wide waistband, decent material, doesn't fall down. But I wouldn't mind something a little more substantial, like these Loft ponte leggings or seamed ponte pants. I had a pair of maternity ponte pants for a couple of pregnancies and they were amaaaaazing, so with the sale at Loft right now they might be worth the investment.

Tank tops. I have a million. Some cheap Forever 21 ones, quite a few Target nursing tanks, but when I actually want to look decent I wear my Undercover Mama tanks with a *real* bra. Well, a *real* nursing bra... This Cake bra, to be exact, because it's pretty and has held up to pretty heavy use over the past many months. Good coverage, actually easy to hook & unhook - really, if you're looking for a good nursing bra, this is my favorite I've ever had!

Tights. I need new ones. Mine are all full of holes.


I loooove this mixed stitch sweater from Loft. Lower in the back means more coverage, and it looks like the perfect amount of slouch. Plus 40% off!

If I order one thing, it'll be this J.Crew Factory embroidered t-shirt - I love a little bit of detail and it gets great reviews!

This popover tunic looks long enough to work as a dress, and would certainly give plenty of coverage with nice thick leggings.

I'm still looking for the perfect t-shirt, but this relaxed dolman tee from Loft comes in great colors, and I'm a sucker for dolman sleeves. This Madewell v-neck has also been open in a browser tab for ages... But do I really want to spend $25 on a t-shirt? It gets great reviews, though! Good thing I don't actually have money for it, so the decision is made!

I got this eyelet-front sweater from Gap over the summer and looooove it - I don't like super-thick sweaters, and it's so soft and has been washing well. Definitely recommend!


I blogged a bunch of nursing-friendly dresses last year, but here are some current options that I like:

Gap sheath shirt-dress (similar to above)

Mosaic pintucked shirt-dress (similar to above, LOVE this one!)

And... That's all I've got for you right now! I've ordered a couple things from ThredUp thanks to some credit I got from selling old clothes (and here's $10 credit for you if you haven't tried it yet!), and can hopefully save up some more from taking online surveys... I'm easing my way into fall - what are you most excited to start wearing now that the weather's cooled down?

The Baby Who Doesn't Sleep

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why isn't there a Patron Saint for parents whose kids refuse to sleep?

There's gotta be one, right? I find myself invoking St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Monica, St. Gianna, really any saint I can think of who's ever had kids. Mine are not children who fall asleep easily.

Sometimes I wonder if it's because God knows I *need* that downtime to be forced into silent prayer, to meditate on my day and my needs and my gratitude even though those prayers very often degenerate into "Thank you Jesus for our home and after I finally get this baby to sleep I need to run that load in the dishwasher and switch the laundry to the dryer and then John Paul seems to have disappeared and hasn't done any of his schoolwork for the day and I wonder when we'll be able to cut that board to make shelving for the kitchen..."

Meanwhile the baby is nursing and his eyelids are fluttering but somehow after 5 children the slooooow slipping away and rolling off the bed eludes me some days, for who knows what reason. I pull away and his head pops up and I sigh and get back to nursing him, hoping that the twins don't manage to find that purple Sharpie *again* and mark up the white cabinets in the kitchen.

And even the prospect of getting him down for a nap away from me is a new one - nursing naps on the couch have been the norm for months, so there I sat glued to the cushions, halfheartedly parenting from my perch but mostly just perfecting my angry voice without waking the baby. His sweaty head nestled in my elbow, cheeks pink, chubby thighs thanks to that extra serving of ice cream (HIS chubby thighs, not mine...) - there's nothing like it, but what I wouldn't give to put him down for half a second so I can pee.

But goodness, when he *does* fall asleep?

Well, I've become one of those parents who stares creepily at their sleeping children. And takes pictures. Because that rumpled bedhead, those fat little feet, that belly peeking out of the sweatsuit...

He's inconvenient, this baby. But he's also immeasurably precious. And after all that hard work it takes to finally get him to sleep, the reward is so much greater to hear those tiny snores, the deep breaths, to see the stretched out tiny body that manages to take up 3/4 of a king-sized bed.

I swore off co-sleeping this time around (I think I do every time - it's NICE having a big old bed with nobody in it but your husband!), and he's still in our bed all night long. The crib isn't even set up. John Paul was like this too, and I know it doesn't last forever... But I wouldn't mind having the bed to ourselves again. 

Someday he'll sleep. For now I'll give him the extra snuggles and hold him close and try to pray my imperfect, distracted prayers with this reminder to be still.

Our Little Taste of Paradise

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A short walk from our back door is our very own pond, filled with turtles and who knows what else.

We've taken to walking there after dinner many nights, often with twins in the wagon and Peter on a back.

The path down the hill is lined with wildflowers.

And adorned with goldenrod.

Attention spans are short, especially when there's nowhere for the turtles to sun themselves so they're mostly just shadows in the murky water, occasionally surfacing for air.

So back up the hill we go, Andrew pulling the wagon full of (more often than not) tearful twins.

Although John Paul will usually disappear up the hill on a new path of his choosing, amidst new pine trees and tall grasses.

Disappearing into the sunset, imagining who knows what.

And planning new adventures for tomorrow.

This beauty that is creation won't get old, I can tell.

Local Wildlife, Cooking Lessons, and Brunch Plans {7QT}

Friday, September 18, 2015


It's been over a month here and the kids (mostly Elizabeth...) are STILL excited that there are cows across the road.

And I realized that I don't think they'd ever actually heard a real cow moo... You know how sweet a toddler's moo is before they've heard a real cow? Really sweet. Now that they've heard a *real* cow, their moo's are MUCH louder, more nasal, and more likely to startle me. 


In other easily-amused news, I'm still pretty excited that Andrew and John Paul found a turtle shell when they were walking in our woods a few weeks ago.

Granted, we have a million turtles in our pond, so I suppose it makes sense that they found at least one shell near the creek... But still, this is more nature than we were used to finding back in the suburbs!

Cecilia made a body for it out of construction paper and insisted in inserting it inside. Now it lives on the homeschool bookshelf, paper head and all.

But I got them to journal about it! This was before we abandoned our nature notebooks, since Cecilia's had been turned into a "flower and fairy" notebook and John Paul decided it was too much writing. Maybe next year.


If it were a Calvin & Hobbes journal, he probably would have kept with it.

Oh, Calvin & Hobbes.

I remember reading them and thinking they were really funny. I never thought it would be a good idea to try the things Calvin does. John Paul, on the other hand...

Well, let's just say I'm glad that at least he hasn't tried the trick where Calvin shaves off the front of his hair to glue onto his lip as a mustache. But he's done plenty of Calvin's other tricks... There's a reason these books keep getting hidden!


I know, I know, more wildlife!

I found this turtle when I was weeding the overgrown garden beds a couple weeks ago (got them weeded! Planted herbs! Still haven't managed to find mint anywhere, but at least the sage is established and looking good, oregano will probably do okay, rosemary will probably die in the winter, and we'll see about the peppermint and thyme). I'm glad I didn't take it to the pond because apparently it's a box turtle and doesn't swim! I haven't seen it since I weeded, though... Apparently I messed with its home!

Conveniently, right after we had our box turtle adventure, I found this book about box turtles at the library - Jan Brett, so it's beautiful and the kids (mostly Elizabeth) LOVE it! I tell you, I would read anything and everything Jan Brett has ever written. Or at least look at the pictures. 


I think we're improving on the whole naughtiness issues from a couple weeks ago!

Well, *were* improving. 

Actually thought, they didn't make a mess at all! And didn't scream when I made them get off the counter! They were just eating their pretend chocolate chips and talking about the cookies they would be eating for dessert.

There were two cookies on the counter. And they did not eat them because they were saving them for dessert.

I just... They're not even 3. I think this bodes well for self-control in the future, right? Right???


This week's cooking lesson was making scrambled eggs (okay, I think we might do more than one cooking lesson per week, because he's actually getting pretty good at cracking eggs!). Before he was ready to do it, he told me what he thought the instructions would be:

1. Take a pan and put it on the stove.
2. Turn the heat to, like, 8.
3. Crack an egg in it and just... Pile it into a lump?

I gave him slightly more detailed instructions. And everybody loved the eggs! Success :)


This last take was going to be all about homesteading plans. Then I realized that needs WAY more than one take.

See our future chicken coop? It's red, and many more experienced ladies assure me it's going to work great as a coop!

It even has a vanity and a record player so the chickens can stay pretty and do a little dancing!

Actually though, that barn is part of where we'll be hosting a Blessed Brunch! If you're in the Front Royal, Virginia area you should come - it's for all women, single and married, for some good old Catholic fellowship! We'd love to have you! October 10, and you can sign up to bring something here.

And I promise there won't be any chickens - we're not getting any until the spring!

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum - Happy Friday!

Well... We Tried? {WIWS}

Monday, September 14, 2015

Our Mass routine was down to an art back before we moved - I'd take John Paul, Cecilia, and one of the twins to the 8:30 at our local parish every week, and they had gotten to the point where everybody's behavior was pretty good. And never so bad that anybody had to be taken out of church. So I figured that with my mom coming along with us, bringing all 5 kids shouldn't be too big a deal, right?


I suppose you can see where this is going.

Our new parish is beautiful, but a smaller building and a different architectural style. Which means that we have to enter the pew from the *side* instead of the center, since now it's inevitable that I'll have to take Peter out at least once during Mass. Which also means that John Paul has to throw a fit because he wants to enter the pew from the center even though it means I'll be crazy-exposed as the only parent of a young child who isn't already just camping out in the narthex in anticipation of bad behavior, since my mom and I had to take turns taking the three youngest out more times than I could count during Mass the first weekend at our parish.

It took three weeks for me to realize that we needed to be entering from the side, rather than the center, so we employed our new strategy when I took the older three to a weekday Mass with a special blessing for schoolchildren. But of course, John Paul was not a fan of the new routine, and kept arguing with me and trying to refuse to go into the pew. Which bled over into arguing with Father during the homily (not loud enough for Father to hear, but loud enough for everybody around us to hear that he doesn't want to abstain from meat on Fridays, and when he is a grown up, he will eat whatever he wants on Fridays), at which point he started plugging his ears and trying to get away from my scolding him. I picked him up and carried him out of the church screaming (like, ALL THE WAY outside), then had to run back inside for Elizabeth, who a nice old lady was helping out of the church because she started crying and trying to follow us, THEN had to go BACK in for Cecilia and my purse so that we could just leave because John Paul was having a meltdown outside and there was no redeeming the situation (although a very sweet lady asked if we needed any help when I was escorting the last child out of the building - at that point we were all a lost cause!).

Needless to say, I think it was a great way to introduce ourselves to the local homeschooling community! And yeah, I was too embarrassed by our showing to try to go to the local park meetup later that day (and also it was a million degrees out...).

The usual culprits... Can't imagine why they wouldn't be behaved perfectly!

What exactly is the point of this entire post? Well, just to officially confess that yes, we'll be tag-teaming Mass again even though I have another adult to help out. Maybe we just need more time for the kids to get comfortable with the church so they don't freak out if/when I have to take Peter out? Maybe we just need the twins to be mature enough that they don't spend the entirety of Mass fighting over who gets to sit on my lap? I don't know. But for now, I'll see you at the 7 AM, perhaps alone!

And now I present to you... What I Wore Sunday! I'm pretty sure you've seen this outfit before, but it's one of the dresses that I got to wear post-partum with Peter and it still fits great! Button-down, easy to add shape with a belt, and chilly enough (50!) yesterday morning to wear boots and a scarf!

This is the back entrance to our house - you can see the possible location for our Mary garden on the left side, the car seat we need to install in the car, and also some random tomato plants on the right! We know how to decorate, that's for sure ;)

Oh, two more things before I go for who knows how long without blogging (actually maybe not long because I have a couple of drafts almost finished!):

1. Our old house is on the market! We're taking offers until 5 today, so if you're looking for a GREAT home for kids inside the beltway in Northern Virginia (which happens to have a strawberry patch in the back yard, a swing set, and is within walking distance to a frozen yogurt place), check it out! (Or if you're just nosy and love looking at pictures of other people's houses - I totally get it, I'm the same way!)

Edit: Sold! Hooray! 

2. We're participating as a family in a fundraiser for the local pregnancy center - if you're looking for a cause to give money to, this is a great one! Our goal is $400 but if we raise over $1000 the girls and I will all walk in princess dresses :) Click over! And thank you for your support!


This. I love Virginia :)

Happy Monday! Time to go find the older kids and get John Paul back to work!

That First Homeschool Day

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A few weeks ago John Paul told me he wanted to start school. Tomorrow. Two weeks earlier than I was planning on starting.

So, by golly, we started. And that first day?

Well, let's just say it's not exactly one that'll be looked back on as "the best day ever" by anyone...

There was tearing apart of brand new crayon boxes, yelling, demands to do a *different* handwriting page (first grader), requests to do *more* handwriting pages (preschooler), and many, many disappearances from the table by the only child in the family who *must* be schooled right now.

Crumpled cornflowers from our nature walk littered the table...

And my plans, which seemed so simple, turned out to be unachievable. Art? Who am I kidding?

Library, though... That one I think we can manage every week - we have a *really* good library with a *really* good children's section that Peter particularly loves, which means it's an hour a week that I don't have to be holding him...

This was the only day that Cecilia had a list of things to do. She filled up almost her entire nature journal with drawings of fairies and princesses. John Paul cut out a page to make a pretend cell phone and has since decided that he'd rather not do a nature notebook this year. Too much writing.

And that cooking lesson? It was the whole reason he wanted to start school early, but he kept refusing to do any work, so he didn't get it until the next day!

(Providentially, Dwija wrote all about using a checklist instead of a schedule right after our fiasco, so checklist + loop "scheduling" has made for a much calmer day!)

A wise woman told me that if you're doing homeschooling right, your house will probably be a wreck by the end of the day. Well, I'm not sure things went "right" but by golly, the house was a wreck! Beginning your first official year of homeschooling less than 2 weeks after moving will do that to you... 

We *did* end up doing a couple things that weren't on the schedule - IHOP was having $1 short stacks and I *really* wanted pancakes, so we took my mom and after cajoling John Paul into finishing *something* we managed to get a very healthy lunch of pancakes for everybody and iced coffee (free refills, thank you!) for me. And balloons!

And, living within minutes of the most beautiful park on free park admission day, we took advantage.

Because really, we would have been stupid not to!

My expectations for order are nonexistent. This'll be kind of like a practice year, I think - a year where I'm basically training John Paul to develop good work habits, since he's got the academics down.

Maybe a year in which everybody starts putting their shoes away? Probably not, though.

He's got this, though.

And maybe St. Clare will be our patroness? (We could clearly use St. Zita's help, too...)

But really, this is why we're doing this - because if I can't find the kids after I finish nursing the baby, they're probably out in the yard soaking each other with the hose, or off picking berries off the bushes, or chasing the cat around the yard, or climbing the apple tree, or at my mom's house reading with her...

And while we may be going through rather a lot of outfits these days, we're making memories. 

And... Learning fine motor skills?

And science. We'll call it science.

But who really cares? Their childhood just got a million times better.

And maybe, somewhere in there, we'll actually get a little homeschooling in.

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