And thank you God for rectangles

Sunday, September 30, 2012
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  
~G.K. Chesterton

For the last several months Hannah has begun to pray along with us during grace. Now before you are overly impressed, she only knows a few of the words. But she is participating, or at least trying to. I appreciate her attempts at piety, I'm sure God does even more so.

Usually after we've said the "official" prayer, we thank God for a few specific things like the food, something fun that happened that day, you get the idea.
Hannah has been very enthusiastic about this aspect of the prayer. She has thanked God for lollipops and for cookies and for her new rainboots.

The other night she thanked God for "rectangles." At first we had to stifle a laugh. Rectangles? My first instinct was to silently ridicule her. Silly child, thanking God for rectangles. But then I started thinking, well actually, yes, thank God for rectangles! Imagine a world without rectangles. How crazy would that be?

Chesterton hit the nail on the head when he said "gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." That has never been more evident than in the prayers of my toddler.

Weekly Field Trip

This week our "field trip" was a trip to Target and going out to lunch. I know, I know, kind of lame, but we had fun nonetheless. We went to this new local cafe that serves "handcrafted comfort food with seasonal ingredients." This place is delicious, oh my goodness.

Hannah and Abby shared the PB&J (made with homemade jam) and I had the pesto, mozzarella and grilled peppers sandwich. We all shared a root beer and sat outside enjoying the warm fall weather.

Thinking About Christmas

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Since Abby is having her surgery at the end of October, she will most likely spend most or all of November and December recuperating. Needless to say, we will be spending a lot of time inside, on the couch, watching a lot of movies. So much for the "30 minutes of TV per day rule," which let's be honest, I've never adhered to anyways.  

With that in mind, I've tried to get a jump start on Christmas planning and shopping. I've found that budgeting for Christmas across several months is a lot easier than jamming everything into December. Plus, I love any excuse to start thinking about September. 

Anyways, I'm pretty anti-giving-kids-lots of Christmas presents. I like the idea that some families have to give each child three gifts, like the three gifts the wisemen brought to Baby Jesus. Three gifts is manageable. 

So here are some of the gift ideas I have for the girls. I'm so excited to give these to them! I think I get more excited for Christmas than the kids. In fact, I know I do.

Hannah is really into dolls lately. Some of the little girls we know have little doll strollers they push around. Hannah loves playing with them (the strollers- not necessary the girls). She's seriously enraptured with them. Enraptured, I tell you. So Hannah will be getting a little doll stroller. 
How nice is this doll stroller? Seriously.
 Those of  you with little girls might like these saint dolls by Handmade by Meg. I'm dying with how cute they are. Dying. I think I'm going to get Abby the St. Philomena doll.
Mother Teresa.

St. Philomena
I also would like to get the girls some dress up clothes and perhaps some silk play scarves.

  But I think I might try to make the play scarves. How hard can they be? (Famous last words.)

Finally, to make our house a little more boy-friendly, I'm getting them a little wooden train set. Ten bucks from Ikea. Not bad.   
Train Set. 

I think that's about it. What do you think? Any gift suggestions?

Thank you Catholic Company Catalogue

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
...for keeping my daughter entertained for a good 40 minutes. 
"Wook, Mama, wook! May-bae and Jo-so and Jesus!"

She was so excited and wanted me to sit with her and look at all the beautiful pictures of the Holy Family and the countless religious items for sale. Which then, of course, made me want to buy them all. 

Spending money doesn't count if you're spending it on religious things, right?

Penniman Hill Farm

Friday, September 21, 2012
Thursdays are field trip days. Last week we went to a nature reserve that housed a whole host of animals, including an otter. It was awesome, especially considering it was free.

This week we went to a local farm/petting zoo. The girls liked the animals, from a distance. After the farm we enjoyed a hot chocolate and shortbread cookie at Starbucks. Another successful field trip!
Checking out the pumpkins.

Surveying the donkeys.

At first, this was as close as Hannah would get. Haha.
The goats were a little aggressive.
Don't mind my eyebrows. I'm getting them waxed soon.
This girl loves dirt.

Simple Woman's Daybook: September 20, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Outside my window...the air is crisp, leaves are falling, fall is here!

I am thinking ...about the book I've been reading, Survival Mom and whether we are prepared for any sort of disaster. I'm thinking no.

I am thankful for ...friendships, those both near and far. I have been so, so blessed by the friendships in my life.

From the kitchen ...chocolate chip cookies that were supposedly the Mrs. Fields recipe. They don't taste like Mrs. Fields, but they're still pretty good. Dinner will be chicken, risotto and butternut squash. Yum.

I am creating ...well, hopefully a Mother's Rosary/Prayer Group at my parish. I've spoken with the priest and he's going to find a time when we can use the lower church. Hopefully we can nail down a time soon.

I am going ...well, we just got back from our weekly "field trip." Today we went to a petting zoo/pumpkin farm. The girls enjoyed the fresh air and the sheep, goats and donkeys. Best part, it was free.

I am wearing...jeans, gray tank top and my trusty favorite yellow sweater. Matthew calls it my Dwight Schrute sweater because it's a mustard yellow, but I love it. 

I am reading ...Strategic Relocation. It's about the best places to relocate in order to survive natural disasters, economic collapse or nuclear war. It's a tad paranoid for my liking, but it's definitely something worth thinking about.

I am hoping ...we can all kick this little cold we seem to have.

I am hearing ...the dishwasher and Downton Abbey. The girls are the same time! Hallelujah!

Around the house ...I put up our fall decorations, all two of them.

A few plans for the rest of the week ..the week's almost over, but tomorrow morning Abby has a check-up with her ophthalmologist during which we will hopefully set up a surgical plan for her eyes. St. Matthew's Feast Day. Saturday morning teaching for me.

Beach Trip

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
We've been trying to get out and about as much as possible the last few weeks. Not only has the weather been beautiful, but we know we may not be able to get outside as much after Abby's surgery, so we're trying to soak up the great outdoors as much as we can now.

A few weekends ago we took a trip to Hull, a nearby beach town. It reminded us a little of Santa Cruz. It was actually the town where Matthew's grandparents were married (it was considered the Irish riviera of its day), isn't that neat? We had a really great time enjoying the sunshine, building sandcastles (actually I think I had the most fun building the sandcastles) and splashing in the waves.

Me and my girls.
Abby loved it: the sand, the water, everything.
Hannah did not like the sand on her feet at first.

Building sandcastles.
Surveying her work.

My pretty girl.
A great time had by all.


Monday, September 17, 2012
I recently read the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums  and Raise a Patient, Respectful and Cooperative One-to-Four-Year-Old by Dr. Harvey Karp. Talk about a run-on title. Anyways, you may have heard of him, he wrote the wildly popular Happiest Baby book. 

The book is pretty amusing in its premise, but I think the good doctor is on to something. He argues that toddlers are basically little cave-people and their brains process language and emotions the way in which a neanderthal would. In order to get through to them, especially in the midst of a full-blown temper tantrum, you have to speak to them in their native Toddler-Tarzan language. 

Naturally after reading the book, I've been testing his theory. A conversation involving toddler-ese sounds a little like this:

Hannah stomping foot/growling/crying.

Me: Hannah mad! Hannah want cookie now! Hannah say 'Mama, give cookie!' But nooo, Hannah no have cookie now. No cookie. Hannah eat apple. 
My little cavegirl.
I feel like a complete fool and it's really, really hard not to laugh, but you know what, it stops her antics. I don't know if she stops because I'm speaking her language or if she's wondering why I sound like a complete moron, but nonetheless, it does stop the tantrum. 

The book stresses the importance of making the child feel heard in their wants and demands. So by repeating back to them in toddler-ese what it is that they want, they feel heard. I don't know. The Tarzan speak does seem to work, so I'll keep it up for now.

The book also mentions that if speaking like a caveman isn't working to try growling and clapping your hands. I tried that once with Hannah and she stopped doing whatever it was that she was doing and then we both burst out laughing.

Obviously, the main goal with tantrums is to cut them off before they start. Dr. Karp believes that making positive love "deposits" in the toddler's heart throughout the day will help stave off tantrums. It's the idea of keeping a child's love tank full (from The Five Love Languages). If a child feels loved they have less reason to act out. We have found this to be true too. And it makes perfect sense.  

These little ones just want to be loved by those they admire most
Dressing like Mama.

Sister Mary Benedicta

Friday, September 14, 2012
My good friend Elizabeth (Sister Mary Benedicta), whom many of  you know, just received her next assignment. She's going to...Rome!!! Oh my goodness, I am so, so jealous! She'll be in Rome for the next four years with the purposes of studying to become a Canon lawyer. How cool is that? Seriously. I am beyond excited for her.
Sr. Mary Benedicta, bottom left.
The only sad part about her being in Rome is that we won't be able to see each other for the next four years. At least, it's highly unlikely that we will. Actually she believes she will  potentially be in Rome for the next decade. However, she will be returning to the States in September 2016 to take her final vows as a Religious Sister of Mercy. And I and my little family plan to be there.

"Wook Mama, I'm Cleebing."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
 “The child can develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences work.”
~Maria Montessori

  “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”
 The girl loves to "cleenb." We won't mention that it is she who draws the marker on the chair in the first place and then proceeds to wash it off.

Fall Planning

 Now that we have an official date for Abby’s surgery I have started to plan and organize our fall schedule. We are hoping to make the most of our time before the surgery because we will most likely not be doing much after it. 

Last night we sat down with the calendar and mapped out our plans. Some of our ideas include the Wellfleet Oyster Fest (we’ve gone each year for the past several years and we love it), a trip to Maine, and a couple overnight trips to Cape Cod. I am so excited!

Along with our “big” trips, I am hoping to do some smaller day-trips with the girls. Nothing big, but fun nonetheless. In fact, I've designated Thursdays as our "field trip" day. This week we're headed to a local trail-side museum which apparently houses some owls, snakes, foxes as well as some otters too (random).

Actually, my OCD seems to have kicked into full gear and I have planned a particular activity or event for both the morning and afternoon of every day. Here's what our weekly routine will look like:

Monday: Park in the morning, baking with Hannah in the afternoon. The fall season is my favorite time to bake and I'm looking forward to making all sorts of pies, breads and cookies. Yum!

Tuesday: Trip to the library, finger painting in the afternoon. (Truth be told, we'll have to see about the finger painting thing. I really, really hate messy activities.)

Wednesday: Nature walk in the morning. (We basically go to a nearby field and I let the girls run wild.) Grocery shopping in the afternoon.

Thursday: Field trip in the morning. Neighborhood walk in the afternoon. 

Friday: Mass in the early morning for me then friends over mid-morning. Afternoon movie matinee with popcorn. 

I'm not big on schedules because I think with young children you must, must allow for some surprises, but I am big on routines. I think little ones thrive on routines, I do too. 

I told Matthew there are two things I want to do for myself this fall. One is I want to start running again. I pretty much took the summer off and I think for my sanity, I need to start exercising again. And two, I want to learn to crochet. I've tried a million times to try to teach myself how to knit or crochet with videos and books and it hasn't worked. I know myself and I know I need a teacher who will go over it again and again with me until I get it. I was thinking of asking our elderly neighbor who knows how if she'll sit down with me once a week. Hopefully, she will take pity on me and help me. 

So there you have it, the rough outline of what our fall will hopefully look like. Any suggestions? What do your plans look like?

We Have a Surgery Date

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Monday, October 22nd is the date set for Abby's cranial-orbital reconstruction! It's a little bit later than everyone would have liked (doctors included), but since two surgeons schedules had to be accounted for, it was the soonest date possible.  But regardless, we are just relieved that we now have a date and can start planning accordingly. 

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Monday, September 10, 2012
We’re still waiting to hear on the surgery date, but I will certainly let everyone know as soon as we do.  We were hoping to hear on Friday, but unfortunately/fortunately God is giving us this opportunity to practice patience. 

Waiting is the hardest part. It’s exhausting. 

As soon as we know the surgery date we can start planning accordingly. Since Abby will most likely be recuperating for at least a month following her surgery, we are also having to wait on making any decisions on going anywhere or planning anything for our Fall. 

In times like these when I feel as if I am able to control very little, I morph into my robot cleaning mode. Lately, I have been a cleaning machine. This morning I cleaned my baseboards, for goodness sakes. Never done that before. I had to actually google “how to clean baseboards.” 

I've scrubbed the bathroom, organized the bookcase and cabinets, caught up on laundry and dusted anything worth dusting. I’ve been sewing and crafting a lot too, however I use the term “crafting” quite loosely. I recovered two pillows. Although, the green pillow kinda reminds me of a mullet, "business in the front, party in the back." Oh well, hopefully people won't look too closely at it.
 I sewed a blanket for Abby to bring to the hospital. And I completed the finishing touches on my little prayer intentions tree. Like it? Cute, right?
 I made an apple pie from scratch.    

And tonight I'm making my grandmother's famous Chicken Cacciatore. Yum! I can't wait. 

But mostly, I've just been cuddling and loving on these two girls and thanking God that they are happy and (mostly) healthy and mine. 
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