Friday, January 20, 2017

7 quick takes vol. 30


We are sick. Again. We have all had terrible colds for over a week now and last night Johnny threw up. Earlier that evening he, Trixie and I had all been drinking from the same cup, so I'm bracing myself, waiting for the rest of us to get hit with whatever it is he's got. We have been sick SO MUCH this year.  In fact, I cannot remember the last time that all four of us were healthy at the same time. I know it doesn't help that Johnny is in preschool. And it also doesn't help that Alex is in rotations and around sick people all day. But it seems like we just can't get on top of it.  How do other people with kids in school manage to stay healthy despite them constantly bringing germs home?


Alex and I got to go to the wedding of one of his classmates a couple weekends ago. It was super fun. We don't go to many weddings anymore, and when we do we usually have our kids with us. It was a treat to dress up, go out, and leave the kids with the grandparents. I wore a dress that is NOT a nursing dress, something I haven't done in almost 4 years. Although, I definitely can still nurse in it. I know this because Trixie was awake when we got home and started crying and signing for milk the moment she saw me come in. There was no way she would have let me go change, so I quickly discovered the dress is stretchy enough for quick and easy access. Joy!


Lent starts on March first, which means two things. One: I better make sure I've got the last of the Christmas decorations put away by then and two: I better order my Blessed is She Lenten Journal. The title of this year's journal is Put on Love, and it is written by Elizabeth Foss.  If you did the Advent journal you know what a talented writer she is, and you experienced how the Holy Spirit uses her words to minister to others. 

I got to help edit the Lenten journal. Spoiler: It's going to be awesome! My editing time was spent crying through a box of Kleenexes and left me feeling like I had just been in spiritual direction. You can order your copy now at an early bird discounted price. There's also other fun Lenten goodies, beautiful Stations of the Cross cards. the Put on love mug and print. Oh! And the tote bag! I cannot get over the tote bag! Go check it all out in the Blessed is She Shop. Get something for your Easter basket. 


I have sworn off starting any new knitting projects until I finish my Caramel Sweater, because I want to be able to actually wear it this winter. I decided to work on the sleeves before I finish the body, partly because sleeves are the worst and I have knitting them, and also because I need to make sure I allocate my yarn properly. The bottom third of the sleeves and body are going to be a mustard yellow. I love this color, but it doesn't really work with my skin, so I'm putting it far away from my face. I only have two skeins of it, so I have to plan carefully.

Or I could leave it like this. A one armed sweater, that might catch on, right?


I didn't really make a New Year's resolution this year, but one thing I know I'd like to work on in twenty seventeen is to read more. I have been a lousy reader since finishing college, getting through just one or two books a year. I'm trying to do a little bit of reading every day, replacing time that I would normally look at my phone with a book, and that's been working really well.

Alex got me a Kindle for my birthday nearly 6 months ago and I'm just using it for the first time now! Not because I haven't been reading, I just had a few hard copies of some books I wanted to finish before downloading anything to my Kindle. But I made it through Gilead (so good, much crying) and now I am reading Brideshead Revisited on my Kindle! And you know what? I really like it! The book yes, but I'm talking about the Kindle. I love the romance of reading a paper version of a book, but a Kindle is really convenient, easy to hold with one hand (essential for nursing a baby) and I love being able to look up words so easily. I can just feel myself getting smarter.


It's time for a little "What We Are Watching" update. 

We are re-watching Parks and Recreation. It's been a couple of years and I either forgot how funny that show is, or I am more easily amused than I used to be. I have been laughing to the point of tears in almost every episode. I also have been getting very weepy at all the sweet moments. I've always been an easy crier, but motherhood has made me an absolute water works. Everything makes me cry, even Parks and Rec. We actually never finished that series so maybe we will get all the way to the end this time. 

We're also watching the current season Madame Secretary, which I love. It has for me all the positive idealism, humor, and feel good moments of the West Wing, the show by which I judge all other shows. I also love the wardrobes. 

Speaking of the West Wing, I have gotten all caught up on The West Wing Weekly podcast, so now I have wait each week for new episodes to come out. I know I am revealing how easy my life is when I say that it has been torturous. But, I have a new episode waiting for me that I intend to listen to this weekend while working on the second sleeve of my sweater. 

What are you all watching, or what podcasts are you loving right now? Anything I should be aware of?


Both of my little cherubs have woken up from a much needed (and much deserved on my end) 2.5 hour nap. I have four baskets of clean laundry sitting on the floor, and as the piles grows it becomes more difficult to ignore. And Johnny is now attempting to change Trixie diaper. "Trixie, diaper, lay down. Lay down Trixie. Lay down please." So I better sign off and tend to my home-fires. 

Go to Kelly's for more quick takes. And have an awesome weekend, friends!


disclaimer: some links are affiliate, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leaning Into Winter

It's been a cold winter here in Minnesota. The other day Trixie and I were on our way to pick Johnny up from school and I heard on the radio that it was zero degrees outside. Zero, as in nothing. And my first thought was "at least it's not in the negatives."

Sub-zero, unfortunately, is pretty common for this part of the world during this time of the year. You can either fight, or work with it. I've decided to work with it. I'm taking the lemons and making some frozen lemonade. I'm taking these frigid temperatures as a sign that we are supposed to stay home, hunker down, and enjoy each other's company. Make hot chocolate, or maybe something stronger. Read good books under thick throw blankets. Shuffle around in slippers. Knit. Winter is such a great time for knitting. 

It's taken me 30 years of living in Minnesota, but I'm finally learning how to survive these cold dark months. 

First and foremost, you've gotta get the right gear. For me the big three are wool socks, wool sweaters, and down jackets. 

I had spent the majority of my adult life wearing really cute pea coats and freezing my tail off. Then a few years ago I got a down jacket for Christmas, a knee length down jacket with a hood and fur trim. It's long enough that I sit on in when I'm in the car. I zip it all the way up to trap my body heat in. I put on my fur trimmed hood, often over another hat. The finishing touch is a pair of homemade wool mittens and I can go outside in sub-zero temperatures and not be miserable. I can't believe I ever survived without this jacket! 

Now that I've gotten Trixie a down snowsuit (so much easier than her coat was for bundling up and loading into the car seat) we've got the whole family outfitted in down. 

Wool sweaters get a bad rap for being itchy, and some of them really are. So you need to be careful about what kind of a wool sweater you buy. If the tag of your sweater just says "wool" it's probably going to be itchy. The key word when it comes to wool is merino. Example: this one from the GAP that I've been wearing over and over this winter. Merino wool is soft and, in my opinion, not itchy at all. I even put it on my babies' skin. 

Wool can also be intimidating because of special washing instructions and the possibility of shrinking. Most wool sweaters out there can be machine-washed on cold/gentle, and then laid flat to dry. I have a couple of hand-wash-only wool sweaters, which can be a little time consuming to deal with.  But the great thing about wool is that it actually doesn't need to be washed that often. Wool is naturally anti-microbial. So a 100% wool sweater won't get stinky as quickly as a cotton or acrylic sweater might. I go quite a while between washes for my wool, unless someone has pooped or vomited on me.  

One of the keys to staying warm is to keep your feet warm. Enter wool socks. I have six pairs of wool socks, and they are the only socks I wear. Remember how I said wool doesn't get stinky as quickly as other materials? Right. So, I wear my wool socks two days in a row, thus making them last between laundry days (yeah, I'm not great about doing laundry). When I was a kid my mom would get us socks for Christmas and I would be really disappointed. Not anymore. This year my mom got me a pair of SmartWools for Christmas and I literally squealed for joy. I, and my feet, will always be happy with the gift of wool socks. 

Other good options for wool socks include these and these. 

Other winter must-haves include fleece lined leggings and blanket scarves

And this cocoa recipe

Now that we've covered the gear, we can talk about what to do while wearing the gear. We try to keep our outdoor goals realistic. Our kids are still pretty little and don't last long outside in the cold. Let's be honest here, neither do I. We'll do a quick walk to our park, or a few times down the sledding hill by grandma and grandpa's house, but that's about it. Going to the conservatory is one of my favorite things to do during the winter. It's like a mini vacation to a warm tropical place. 

But sometimes it's so cold that I don't even want to take my kids out to the car. My rule is, when it hurts your face to go outside, then stay inside!  Winter can be a great time to take care of some indoor projects. We bake things, we organize closets, we read more, we catch up on our favorite TV shows, and I do as much knitting as I can get my hands on. It could seem isolating to be stuck at home because of the cold, but I actually enjoy the feeling of having no obligations or demands outside of my home and family. 

But what about being stuck inside with kids? 

There are even fun inside things to do with kids. Alex made luminaries for our New Years Eve party this year and Johnny had a lot of fun helping him. Johnny is old enough to enjoy helping with baking projects. Trixie enjoys taking all the Tupperware out of the cupboard, and sometimes she enjoys putting it back in. They like to sit and color at the white board easel together, play with play dough, or run around the circle created by our lower level floor plan, trailing home-made streamer wands behind them. 

Oh, you're interested in the homemade streamer wands? Here's a tutorial for you:

Take some streamers, and tape them to a straw. Voila! 

Ok, so maybe there's not a ton of fun indoor stuff to do with kids. But when forced to be creative we always figure something out. We're usually so busy and constantly on the go, so sometimes it feels good to get snowed in and have some family time. 

What kinds of things do you like to do during the cold dark months? And if you live in a warm climate, are you taking house guests?

disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate, meaning if you follow a link and make a purchase I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Tale of Teething and the Best Baby Carriers. And A Giveaway!

You love hearing about baby teething woes, right? Good! Because I love talking about those woes.

Trixie used to be such an easy baby. She took great naps, she slept on her own (through the night, I might add) and she let anyone hold her and put her down for her naps. You could plop her down in the middle of some toys and she would be happy for an hour, leaving me ample time to get all the things done. And then she started teething.

She was a pretty late teether, so we had about 10 months of happy Trixie. But since she got her first tooth in September they have been coming in rapid succession (13 teeth in 4 months) and they have been making her pretty miserable. Obviously this has some major disadvantages during the night, like we are very sleep deprived, crabby, etc. But there are also many day time challenges, like my once happy baby is now clingy and needs to be held all the time. That means something as easy as doing a load of laundry becomes almost impossible, unloading the dishwasher takes forever, and trying to make dinner?  Please don't make me! As much as I'd like an excuse to ignore the laundry and order takeout for dinner, the solution that's better for everyone in my family is to wear that crabby baby. It's the only way to get things done. I know there's probably a thousand beautiful attachment parenting reasons wht you should wear your baby, and they're all great. But in this household, it's just a necessity.  

If you're going to be baby-wearing, it's important to get the scoop on  the best baby carriers out there. I have used a variety of baby carriers over the years, and different carriers have worked better during different baby phases. Here are the ones that I have loved. 

Moby Wrap: This was the first carrier I ever used. Johnny took his first walk in it when he was just two weeks old. He was a baby who always wanted to be held so baby-wearing was something I picked up pretty early on. The Moby Wrap was great for a newborn because it was snug and gave lots of support for baby's head, leaving me totally hands free. The fabric is very stretchy, and as Johnny got heavier we graduated to carriers with less stretch to help support all his baby chub. 

Ring Slings: If you been following me on instagram over the years you know that I love my Sakurabloom ring sling. This was probably the hardest baby carrier to learn how to use. I had to watch many tutorial videos and get help from other baby-wearing friends. But practice makes perfect and that adage is as true for baby-wearing as it is for anything else. It took me and my babies a little while to get used to the ring sling, but now we're all big fans. One of my favorite things about my ring slings is their compactness. They're very easy to roll up into a little ball, so that's what usually comes along on the diaper bag. 

Ergo 360: My structured carrier is the one I have been using the most lately. It's very supportive and can hold a lot of weight. And Trixie is a hefty baby. Have you seen her baby thighs? It's also very easy to wear her on my back with an Ergo, which, when I'm trying to get stuff done, is the best place for her to go. Johnny finds it very amusing when I put Trixie in my "backpack." So not only am I getting stuff done while comforting my baby, I'm also providing entertainment for my three-year-old. Win, win, win.

Speaking of winning. You have a chance to win a $50 gift card to Diapers .com to use towards your own baby carrier. To enter leave your email address with Rafflecopter and then leave a comment with your favorite type of baby carrier, or if you don't have one, the kind you would most like to try! 

Disclosure: this post is sponsored in partnership with Nakturnal. I am being compensated for my time and so are you if you win the $50 gift card! 

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in 12 Photos

Thanks to Bobbi for hosting this link up.  

This is one of my favorite posts to do each year. It's always so hard to pick just one photo from each month, but it's a challenge I love. Looking through all my photos from the last year reminds me that no matter how crazy and hectic and difficult life may seem, it's also incredibly beautiful, and I have so much to be thankful for. 

So here's our Year In Review. 

JANUARY: Getting Johnny's ear tubes in and some of his hearing issues resolved was a big part of January. I also decided to do the 52 project, which, if you are a regular reader, you may have noticed I failed woefully at. We spent a lot of time staying cozy inside, and Johnny's love for trains began. 

FEBRUARY: With Lent comes Lenten resolutions. I got bangs again! We started Johnny with a new speech therapist, and it was really awesome to see his vocabulary expand. 

MARCH: We kept plugging away though Lent. I was adding names to the list of women I pray for. The end of winter gets so hard, so we tried to find fun things to do, like ride the train into downtown. I did some thinking about what it means to have spring come back, in nature and in my own soul.  And I got really good at building wooden train tracks. We had a lovely Easter...followed by a terrible stomach bug. Welcome spring! 

APRIL: So many long days with my babies that I know are turning into short years. Finally warm enough to be outside. And my little sister got married!!

MAY: BIG changes as Johnny started preschool a lot sooner than we had originally planned, which stirred up all kinds of motherly feelings in me. Lots of time out side, bubble blowing. And Johnny turned three

JUNE: I took the summer off from teaching and just focused on family and rest. We celebrated the anniversary of Johnny's baptism, and we had our first round of family vacation.  

JULY: Alex finished up his summer semester and we went on our second family vacation of the summer to Alex's family's farm.

AUGUST: We made it home from our family farm vacation. And then we went on our annual pilgrimage with our good friends. I turned 30! And we cranked out a few house projects before school started up again.

SEPTEMBER:  Johnny started school again, Alex started school again, and I started teaching again. All the busyness definitely left me feeling wornout and in over my head. I refocused my perspective on being a stay-at-home mom.  A big highlight was meeting many of the other Blessed is She writers and creatives at our first ever BIS Team Retreat. 

OCTOBER: Trixie turned one, and Alex and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Alex started rotations, and I wrote this Mother's Act of Contrition because, you know, there's always room for improvement in world of motherhood.

NOVEMBER: We got sick, multiple times actually, and really just tried to keep up with everything.

DECEMBER: Lots of Christmas happenings, family time, and learning to navigate the season with small children. 

It's been a great, crazy, challenging, enjoyable, memory-filled year. We're going to soak up our last few days of Christmas break and then roll up our sleeves to greet 2017. Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful new year! 
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