Thursday, December 3, 2015
Making a funny face.
Hannah is at such a fun age. She says something every day that makes me laugh out loud. I want to remember a few Hannah moments from late:

The other night when she was supposed to be in bed, she was bouncing a ball on the floor. "Hannah!" Matthew yelled. But she bounced it again. I went in there and gave her my Kindle. "Why don't you read some books in bed?"
"Oh good," she said, "this will keep me out of trouble."

Yesterday we were talking and I was telling her, "well, you could do this." She replied, "well, on the better hand, I could do that."

We were lying in bed late one night (I let her sleep with me) and  she was chatting away. I kept encouraging her to go to sleep and she kept talking. Finally, she was quiet for a bit, she sighed and whispered, "I love talking." I burst out laughing. She is such a little sanguine. 

Bringing me a bottle of medicine. "Now, how much do I give to Abby?" 

To the lady at Trader Joe's who said hello to her, "wait, I want to show you how pretty I look" and she proceeded to take off her winter jacket and hat to show the lady her dress. 

When discussing the Santa at the mall. "Well, I know that's not the real Santa." 
"How do you know that?"
"Well, the North Pole is far away and I learned it from Elf. The Santas at the mall smell like cheese."  

Watching the end of Sleeping Beauty, she smiled and twirled around, "I just love happy endings!"

A Time of Advent

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
So...last we spoke, I was stressing about our move. Since then, the sellers backed out at the last minute (WTH?) and lo and behold, we are not moving, at least not yet. I am trying very hard to be patient, but I'll admit, I've cried many frustrated, sad, angry tears.

Yet, the more I reflect upon it, the more I realize how appropriate it is that we are being made to wait for a house during this season of Advent. As the whole world anxiously awaits the birth of the Son of God, we are asked to be a little more patient in finding a home. It kind of puts things in perspective. Regardless, waiting is so very hard, especially when we know there is a great good at the end of the waiting. But wait we must and we must try to do so with grace.

I'll admit, I am not entirely sure what we are supposed to be learning with all these moving false starts. I can reason that God is good and that ultimately, He has our best interests at heart. But it doesn't always feel that way. I also know that God's plans for us might not necessarily mean getting an amazing house at a deal of a price. It might simply mean that through this whole ordeal, we grow in holiness. And although not as visible as a home, holiness is ultimately in our best interest.  

One positive thing about not yet having our own house is that I am reminded of our relative wealth. We have a home, a roof over our heads and food for our family. So many people and families throughout the world do not. And I am incredibly grateful to have what we do. It feels almost greedy to wish for more. 

It is a good lesson for me to not always get what I want. It reminds me that this world is not my home. I will never be truly satisfied here. If all my wants and desires were already met, I would have no need to anxiously await the birth of a Savior. St. Augustine said it best, "Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in thee."

This period of waiting will not last forever, this much I know. Eventually, we will have a house and eventually it will be Christmas. However, I want to remember what this feels like, if only to appreciate what is to come and to grow in compassion for others. 

Plus, it's hard to be too depressed when I am surrounded by these guys all the time. I mean, seriously.
Is it just me, or does Olivia have a far off look of contemplation? I swear that child is a genius.

A Few Happenings This Week

Monday, November 23, 2015
A few happenings around here this week, or subtitled, a few reasons why I'm stressing out this week. 

1) We are moving! Woo hoo! Finally! We are moving to a great little town that we believe will be a wonderful place for our family. I cannot wait. We have been preparing to move for the last two years and ready to move for the last six months. There have definitely been some unexpected twists and turns along the way, but we really believe God has been at the helm the entire time. 

As excited as we all are to move and to have a new home, the actual moving part is starting to stress me out. Although we probably own a lot less stuff than the average family of six, we still have a bunch of things that needs to get from point A to point B. It's a bit overwhelming. Matthew is more the "it will all work out" type and I'm more the "let's make lists and lists of exactly how we're going to make it all work out." I'm sure I'm really fun to be married to.

2) Matthew has been really busy with work lately, which is a good thing, but it also means longer hours for me. I've given up drinking wine during the week in an attempt to lose weight, so yeah, the longer days have been rough. 

3) The story Matthew has been working on has been really all-consuming, for lack of a better description. I suppose I can't really say more than that, but it's been emotionally draining for both of us. But interesting!

4) It's Thanksgiving this week! I love this time of year. We usually reserve a turkey from a local organic farm, but this year, between the move and the new baby, we've decided to resort to good old Whole Foods. We'll be picking up our turkey and I'll be cooking our usual Thanksgiving feast that only Matthew and I will end up eating. Although, Hannah assures me she will definitely be eating turkey and cranberry sauce this year too. We'll see.

We have a little tradition where after our Thanksgiving dinner we watch the movie Elf and eat pumpkin pie. Last year was the first year where the girls watched with us and they really enjoyed the movie. I'm looking forward to doing it again this year.

5) Olivia is being baptized on Sunday after Mass. I'm so excited. I feel so anxious to just have her baptized already. She is actually going to be baptized in the extraordinary form. We have a new priest at our parish who is trained in the Latin Mass and all things old school. He was talking with our Moms' group and mentioned how he recently performed a traditional Latin baptism. I mentioned that Olivia was scheduled to be baptized soon and would he mind performing the rite? He was more than willing, so it's scheduled for Sunday. I'm not entirely sure how the baptism will be different than our other children's, so I've been reading up on the Shower of Roses blog on what to expect. I believe all her children were baptized in the extraordinary form. You can read about it here

6) Amidst all the goings-on, the children still need to be fed, laundry still needs to get done, and life continues on. It's been a busy year for us and I'm looking forward to simply getting settled into our new home and enjoying all of our many blessings, namely this little love. 

Abby's Art

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
It was only a few short months ago that Abby refused to color or draw any pictures. We would try to encourage her with new coloring books and pleas for homemade art, but she always refused. We weren't sure if it was because she didn't think she could draw as well as Hannah or because she simply did not want to draw if she could not do it well. (She is, surprisingly, somewhat of a perfectionist.)

Then Olivia was born and suddenly Abby had her muse. She wanted to color. She started taking sheets of blank white paper and coloring them all one color. She would work so hard on filling every inch of the white with color. At first, when we asked what she was making she would say a "monster." Fair enough. But then the monsters evolved into "magic carpets." Pretty clever, if you ask me. They do kinda look like magic carpets. She made magic carpets for everyone, but mostly for the baby. Matthew framed one. 
A magic carpet. I don't know why this one has purple and orange, usually they're all one color. I think the orange bled through from another picture.
Slowly, the magic carpets have faded away and Abby has started drawing real pictures. Many of the pictures are of various animals, but mostly of our family. I love her drawings. I know how much time and effort she puts into these and it reminds me of what a sweet little girl she is. It also reminds me of how fleeting her childhood is. Eventually, the magic carpets and stick figures will become a thing of the past, so I want to cherish these while I can.
I think this is me.
Hannah, Abby and me with a dog.
This might be my favorite. It's a ladybug. Is this not the cutest ladybug you have ever seen?
Besides loving all her new artwork, I have been so impressed with how much Abby has grown over these last few months. She has gone from refusing to draw or write anything to this and she can write her name really well too. Her fine motor skills have improved tremendously and she actually enjoys practicing her handwriting. She can be so self-conscious and critical of herself that we try to praise her work as much as we can. (In the ladybug picture she was so upset with how poorly she was writing her name, but honestly, it looks good to me.)  She is growing by leaps and bounds and I can't wait to see what the next few months bring.

I just love this kid.
She wanted a picture of her new shiny shoes.

This Baby

Saturday, November 14, 2015
This child has been such a blessing to me and to our family. She has such a gentle spirit and easy-going demeanor.

I am so grateful to God for the gift of her life. So many families don't get to have a fourth child. They don't get to have an Olivia. We are so lucky!

Thoughts on Having Four Kids

I've been thinking a lot lately about how having four kids is different than having three. The one obvious and main difference is that there is one additional and entirely new person in our family. But there have been a million minute ways in which being a mother to four children has affected me in ways unforeseen.

One noticeable change is that we get a lot more attention when we're out in public. People want to talk to us. There is something about children that draws people in. Even though I don't think four kids is all that many, I have to remind myself it's not the norm. I think we also attract more attention because all my kids are fairly little. I see people quietly counting them when we're at the park or in a store. "Wait, you have four?" 
"Yes, I do," I say proudly. And I am proud.

The transition from three to four kids has actually been much easier for me than the transition from two to three. Having a third child was hard, having a fourth, not so much. Part of that is due to Olivia, who is a dream baby. Part of that is because we're starting to become experts in the just-had-a-baby time of life. We know to expect craziness and chaos for a little while and more importantly, to be okay with it. We know that eventually we will find a new routine and a better balance, but that it is also something that can't be rushed, it takes time. I have learned to be okay with the "taking time" part.

I've also noticed I have a new relaxed approach to this postpartum time. Maybe relaxed is not the right word, gentler is probably a better one. After Lucas I just wanted everything to return to normal as quickly as possible. I wanted to be out and about, going places and doing things. I wanted to prove that I could do this mom-of-three thing no problem, even if it was in fact, a major struggle for me. I wanted to look like it was easy and that I had it all together. I cared so much about what I and my children looked like.

At the time, I believed that this need for keeping up appearances was because I wanted to promote a positive image of family life. I wanted other moms to think "if she can do it, so can I." But now I realize there is little encouragement in false perfection. Now, when other moms see me in my yoga pants, still 25lbs overweight and with my eyebrows a mess, I hope they think "geesh," but also, "if she can survive another baby, perhaps I can too."

Because I am often wearing yoga pants and sometimes a bit disheveled, I have realized that this post-partum time has been a much needed dose of humility for my pride. I gain a lot of weight when I am pregnant. I've tried various ways to remedy this, it doesn't matter. My body gains 45-55lbs regardless of what I do. This is very hard for me. Yadda, yadda, gaining weight for anyone is difficult, I know. But being trim and healthy has always been an important part of how I see myself. So obviously, by having my body react to pregnancy by packing on the pounds, God is doing a number on my vanity. This is a good thing, a very good thing. By being open to God's plan for me and my family size, I am benefiting in more ways than I can count. 

Since this is my fourth time around having a newborn, I am acutely more aware of how quickly the time goes. In fact, my newborn is no longer a newborn, she's a full-fledged baby. Before I know it, she will be toddling around with the rest of them. So even in those moments of feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself that my children will only be small for a little while. I don't take this time for granted. Hannah is almost six, practically an adult

But the overarching thought that swirls around in my head most days is how incredibly blessed I am. Our life may be chaotic and a bit crazy, but it is full of love and God's grace and I am truly overwhelmed with how blessed we are. God is good. 


Plimoth Plantation

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The kids and I took a little field trip to the Plimoth Plantation yesterday. The Plimoth Plantation is a re-creation of 17th century Pilgrim and Wompatuk villages, complete with actors who play the part. Awesome.

We've been reading a bunch of books about pilgrims and Indians lately to prepare for our field trip. It's so great that we live close enough to visit this historic place. After our trip, Matthew was asking if I felt rather patriotic visiting our nation's beginnings. Patriotic? No. Homeschooly? Yes.

The kids were able to see pilgrim and Wompatuk homes, watch the pilgrims and Indians prepare food and various chores. It was such a great hands-on and interactive learning experience. 
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 Outside a Wompatuk home.
Inside a canoe. The girls were able to watch an Indian making a canoe. They burn out the interior of a large log. The sap from the tree branches seals the canoe, making it waterproof. Interesting, right?

 This Indian was preparing a real turkey for dinner. He showed the kids the turkey's lungs.
 The inside of a Wompatuk hut.

 The girls gave themselves Indian names. We're all about political correctness around these parts. Hey, if Elizabeth Warren can call herself an Indian, my kids can too. Although, Matthew's great-grandmother was supposedly a Cree Indian, so I suppose we're more legit than she is. 

Anyways, Hannah is "running deer" and Abby is "swishing fox." At one point I made the mistake of calling Abigail's name. "Actually, you mean swishing fox, Mom." My bad. I gave Lucas the name "squawking bird" (it fits) and Olivia was/is "cutie cub" and I am "Mama Bear," (not terribly original). I would tell Hannah, "running deer, run ahead and check out what is up ahead." She would run as fast as she could. Later, she told me running deer's legs were tired from all the running. Swishing Fox was tired too. She kept wanting to sit and rest.
 Swishing Fox and Running Deer.
Grinding corn inside a pilgrim home. 
 "Wouldn't it be so cool to live in one of these homes, Mom? I wish we could." 
No honey, no it would not be cool to live in one of these homes. Check out the dirt floor and mud walls. I am so grateful to be living where and when we do.

 They were asking her what she was doing. (Mending clothes). All of the actors spoke with English accents, which surprised me. I mean obviously that's how the Pilgrims would have sounded, so I don't know why it caught me off guard, but it did.
 The girls were introducing themselves. The men were making fence posts. I was really proud of how the girls were unafraid to ask questions.
 Lucas enjoyed picking up rocks and throwing them. So, yeah, very educational for him.

Pretending to chop wood. 
We had such a great time. We'll be back next year!

Halloween, All Saints and a Birthday, Oh My!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
What a fun and busy past couple of days we have had! We went to a Latin Mass (the whole fam!) on Friday night, more about that later. Saturday was Halloween, Sunday was All Saints Day and then Lucas turned two yesterday. Phew.

Our Halloween (and All Saints Day) costumes were a bit thrown together this year. Most of the kids' costumes were recycled from last year. The only thing I actually bought this year was Hannah's Captain Barnacles mask. 

Hannah was an octonaut. Abby originally wanted to be a ballerina, but changed her mind at the last minute. She ended up being the Virgin Mary. Lucas was a knight and a happy one at that. Look at that kid's smile! And sweet Olivia was dressed as a little cat/newborn baby. 

Sweet baby girl all bundled up for trick-or-treating. 
For All Saints Day, Abby was once again the Virgin Mary. Although, she wasn't so good about taking care of poor baby Jesus. I think he ended up underneath the stroller once she got tired of carrying him. 

Hannah was St. Clare. I put a white sweater around her head and pinned some black fabric to the sweater to make a little habit. Eh, it served it's purpose. I cut out the monstrance from gold poster board. I explained to the girls that the gold monstrance was where the Eucharist, the bread/body of Jesus was kept. Abby kept calling the monstrance the "beer and wine." "We can't forget the beer and wine!" So true, Abigail, so true. 

Not pictured- St. George. Little St. George slept through Sunday's Mass and procession of saints. He was dressed in his knight costume once again and I taped a paper dragon to his sword. Like I said, minimal effort on the costume front this year. But the kids looked cute and they certainly had fun, so I'll call it a success.

My sweet boy turned two yesterday. I know this is where a lot of moms would say how time flies and I can't believe he's already two, but honestly, I can't believe he's only two. I feel like he's been around forever and should be turning four or five. 

He had a fun day. We mostly just played at the park all day. I took the kids for ice cream in the afternoon and then we had pizza and cake and ice cream (again) at home. No such thing as too much ice cream on your birthday. He loved it, especially blowing out his candles.  

The cute part of Lucas's birthday was how excited the girls were about it. They were thrilled and at the end of the day Hannah said it was the "best birthday celebration ever." I love that our kids are so easy to please.

Opening presents.
Notice all the cars on the table with him?

Playing in his Thomas tent from Aunt Libby. He and the girls love this thing.

Pumpkin Patch

Thursday, October 29, 2015
The kids and I went to the pumpkin patch last Friday. We went to the same farm last year and the girls remembered it when we drove up. I love that they're getting old enough to remember our little family traditions. 

Along with a pumpkin patch, the farm has a few animals, a playground and tractor hayrides. We would have stayed longer, but if you can't tell from the pictures, it was freezing. I left little Olivia sleeping in the car. We brought home a giant pumpkin.  We're calling it our "one ton pumpkin" (a curious George reference). We plan to carve it within the next couple days. I can't believe Halloween is this weekend already.

Hannah was so confused by this height chart. "But I'm 5 years old, not almost 4."

Naturally, Lucas would not stand still.

Ago Quod Agis

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Some days I feel like I have this mom-of-four thing down and other days I feel like I'm just failing at everything. Most days, it's a struggle to keep it all together. I'm a big lover of to-do lists, for better or for worse, and usually, the lists help keep me organized, but lately even the lists have been stressing me out. So much to do!
The other night I was reading through the book Momnipotent (I would definitely recommend it, I read through it in one night!), and I came upon a phrase in Latin: Ago Quod Agis. It means "do what you are doing." It's a simple sentiment, focus on the task at hand, keep your hand to the plow. I also interpreted as "don't try to do too much at once." 

When I am tempted to try to multi-task like crazy- nurse the baby, check my email, make a phone call, look up recipes, I repeat Ago Quod Agis to myself. It helps to center me. I close my computer, hang up my phone and simply focus on and enjoy nursing my sweet little one. This simple little approach to do one thing at a time has given me great peace. 

Sometimes I think, as mothers, we are tempted to do all the things at once. Women are really good at multi-tasking and I think sometimes we (me especially) can let this ability run rampant. Doing is so much easier than being. But I am learning to just be, to enjoy this time while my children are little. I keep telling myself, this time is fleeting, they will be grown before I know it, enjoy their littleness. The to-do lists can wait.

Apple Picking

Saturday, October 24, 2015
One thing I really wanted to make sure we did this fall was to go pick apples. I've tried to keep my fall activity list short and reasonable considering we have a brand new baby. I figured apple picking would be doable with our crew.

We picked a warm day and ventured out to our favorite you-pick- Sweet Berry Farm in Rhode Island. It's just outside Newport, so if you live near there or are ever in the area, I strongly recommend checking it out. 

The girls love picking fruit. Abby makes up a song each time we go. "Strawberry pickin'" was her first single and "apple pickin'" was eerily similar. Although, she has a great time picking the fruit, we can never actually convince Abby to try eating it. Hannah and Lucas love fruit, so they enjoyed the apples. Lucas loved the running room and took off exploring the orchard. 

The weather was so nice, we ended up at the Newport beach and played there for a while. The kids loved it and it was one of those days where all is right in the world. 

I just love this picture of Lucas.

My little family.

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