7 Quick Takes about adjusting routines and two year old destruction

— 1 —

Alisdair has always been resourceful when it comes to figuring out ways to avoid sleeping. We’ve got a nighttime routine pretty well nailed down, now: bath, PJs, banana, brush teeth, potty, book, prayers, and then sleep, armed with exactly one cup of water, a book until his room is too dark, and his “loveys” consisting of a stuffed cow and soft baby doll (I asked over a year ago what their names were, and Alisdair looked at me like I was a total idiot before telling me, “Cow and Doll.”)

Sometimes he will come out and go to the bathroom, which doesn’t bother me as long as he goes by himself (which he can! The first night that happened I was ready to throw a party in the living room!) The past few nights, though, he’s developed a new strategy: about ten minutes after getting in bed, he will proudly come out to me, holding out his finger and saying, “Look, Mommy, I have a boogie!”

So I guess the “nightly nose blow before bed” is now going to be a thing.

— 2 —

Ian has told me stories about piranhas in the Mon River (though actually I thought it was longer ago, and that video was only three years ago. Yikes.). There’s now a suspected alligator in the Allegheny River.

I don’t think there are many of us, but I am one of those Americans who is quite content with cool, even cold weather, and snow. I do not wish to live in the Everglades. I do not do large, poisonous and/or vicious animals and/or bugs – and they do seem to multiply as one travels closer to the equator. Even though we have yet to go, I have had nightmares about visiting Ian’s parents at their new condo in the Carolinas, because there is an alligator in a nearby pond that I am convinced is going to kill my children.

I do not need this in Pennsylvania. I am going to add this to my list of, “Reasons we need to move north yesterday” (other entries include, “it doesn’t count as snow unless it lasts more than a day,” and “temperatures in 90s plus high humidity.”) Now, we did have a solid winter and reasonably cool summer, so I have not been as convincing as of late, but I think the alligator is definitely a point in my favor.

— 3 —

As part of week 3 with 5 kiddos here during the day, I’ve learned that necessity is the mother of invention. Our playroom was very well designed for Alisdair and Éamon. Things are accessible but not always out, and every toy has a spot. But when you add 2 year olds to the mix, a few things had to change. I had forgotten that two year olds tend to dump. Alisdair will dump out one of our small bins, too, but only in pursuit of a particular item, that he will then play with. The twins will dump out everything, then look at it all over the floor, and become so overwhelmed that they just scream, or throw it, or head toward other cleaner areas of the house to find new things to dump out all over the place.

IMG_0829 (this took about two minutes)

So even though I thought I had it down, I’ve had to figure out a few things to ensure that Alisdair (and the other three year old I watch) can access things they want to play with, while limiting the twins’ destructive power. My favorite innovation was rubber bands. I tend to save the rubber bands from produce, because hey, they’re perfectly good and don’t take up much room, but I don’t use rubber bands too often – mostly to help keep things closed while transporting them. But after cleaning up puzzles that the twins have no interest in actually attempting for the billionth time this week, I decided to wrap each box with rubber bands. The three year olds can get them off if they wish, but it’s (so far) an effective deterrent for the younger kids.

I also need to figure out a way to block them from the TV and associated devices, while still keeping them accessible for Ian and me. I’m thinking about maybe some kind of plastic/plexiglass/etc covering that can be removed/lifted by an adult, but not by a kid. I have no idea if that is workable, or if that is going to be too much cost or hassle because I am working on getting them to not touch that stuff, anyway. But in the meantime I’d rather nothing get absolutely destroyed.

— 4 —

Ian found a list of the RADical Days activities and I was happy to add a bunch to our calendar.

— 5 —

It may just be that I’m getting more discriminating, but I feel like the couponing has not been as good for the past month or so. I do know coupons tend to run in cycles, and that sales tend to as well – the trick to couponing well is that you hit the best coupons with the best sales. But I feel like as summer has ended, there haven’t been as many. I did great stocking up on toiletries and other bathroom stuff in the spring and early summer, and every now and then I get a great deal on something unexpected, but the list of “best deals” on couponing websites seem pretty “meh” to me at the moment. All stuff I would never buy in a million years, or I think the price is too high. For non-food items, my cut-off is basically $1 for everything except body wash, which seems to be really, really expensive for some reason (at least in comparison to other toiletries.) The cheapest I’ve been able to get it is $1.50/bottle.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much because I’m now stocked up on those items for probably the next two years, but it would be nice to get that thrill more often for groceries. My “stock up price” is usually “Does this beat Aldi?” But that’s a hard price to match, even when Giant Eagle doubles coupons.

So now my “leftover” grocery money goes toward stocking up on canned and dry goods, or meat for the freezer.

— 6 —

I have really enjoyed having a set three week meal rotation. It takes a lot of the hassle out of planning and cooking dinner. I’ve found that snacktime and lunchtime for the kids is a good time to get some of the prep work done – for example, today during morning snack I chopped and sautéed mushrooms and onions and took out some frozen spinach to thaw, and then during their lunch I mixed up the vegetables with the rest of the filling stuff for these lasagna rolls.

I’m thinking as we hit fall that I might want to change it up and do some new recipes. I have found that I really enjoy pumpkin in things besides pie, so I’m thinking it might show up somehow. Maybe this chicken and pumpkin soup?

— 7 —

I have almost all of the ivy out of our front yard (yahoo!) and I’m ready to get rid of the rest tomorrow!

Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Talking with Tots


We found this statue last week on our trip to Harrisburg. Alisdair sat down next to it and said, “Mommy, take a picture of me being part of the statue.”

Driving home from church:

Alisdair: Mommy, can we take out the “batibity” (Nativity)? It’s cold outside so that means it’s Christmas.

(I told him that usually it snows around Christmastime, and the leaves have to change colors and fall off the trees. So now in the mornings, he looks out the window and says, “Oh Mommy, it’s going to snow today!”)


Éamon has been adding lots of words to his repertoire. He has been big into clothing this week. He’s refined his pronunciation of “shoes,” and has added “shir” (shirt), “pan” (pants), and “shak” (socks). He is fascinated by his socks and will point them out repeatedly to anyone who is willing (and sometimes not willing) to have his foot shoved in his (or her) face. Any mention of a diaper, however, is met with “Noooooooo!”

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7 Quick Takes after a crazy week

— 1 —

Ian had a conference in Harrisburg this week. Since the hotel room and gas money to get there was covered, we decided we’d tag along too.

We left a little bit before dinner and rolled into the hotel parking lot right around 10pm. The bad part was that the hotel room needed to be thoroughly explored before anyone was willing to sleep. The good part was that both boys slept in Wednesday morning and that Alisdair absolutely loves sleeping in his sleeping bag, which will come in handy for our trips in October and November.

— 2 —

I decided to take advantage of the “fitness center” in the hotel to get a run in, which was my first run on a treadmill. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I loved that I went a lot faster than my usual pace (10 minutes instead of 12), but hated that my view was the same the whole time, and that the view was me getting progressively more sweaty in three angles thanks to the mirror positioning.

I do not understand the excessive use of mirrors in gyms.

— 3 —


While there were a lot of things we could have done, Ian was supposed to be done in the early afternoon so I decided to drive around and find a park to play in once the boys were over the excitement of the hotel room. We found a pretty nice one with a great view of the Susquehanna River (which Alisdair refused to believe; he thinks there are only three rivers – can you guess which ones?) that also had a decent trail so we went for a walk, too. I’ll admit that part of my goal was to make sure the boys were exhausted when it came time for the return trip (it worked!)

— 4 —

The one downside is that Alisdair recognizes McDonald’s, where we stopped for lunch because I had a coupon (of course). After he woke up from his nap in the car on the way home, he was delighted to tell us whenever we passed one.

(There are a LOT of them. I always knew that, but it never really stuck for me until I had a three year old decide it was his mission to point out every. single. one.)

— 5 —

Éamon discovered that he thoroughly loves sandboxes. I discovered that no matter how thoroughly you brush a child off, you still get sand all over your car.


— 6 —

It has been a crazy week. In addition to our trip, Ian had two late night meetings, and we have been adjusting to our house with 2 year old twins in it. I’ve determined that I need to replace the broken lock on our toilet seat ASAP, and that I need a few more cabinet locks, too.

I’ve also had to work very hard with Alisdair and our other three-year-old that although the younger three kids don’t understand yet, they are still very much expected to put away what they are playing with when they decide they’re done, before they take out the next thing (which they’ve actually been pretty good about, until they were outnumbered by younger kids that need a bit more leniency).

It’s kind of been a crazy free-for-all, especially when a couple days have been too wet to play outside.

— 7 —

The change in weather, plus the disruption in routine, seems to have brought on Éamon’s first-ever cold, which isn’t too bad considering he’s almost 16 months old. Luckily, apart from a hoarse-ish voice and being a little extra sleepy, he’s still pretty much his cheerful self.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Talking with Tots Tuesday

He doesn’t know what it means, but he does know it irritates the heck out of his older brother:

Éamon: “Share! Share! Share!”
Alisdair: “Nooooooo!”


On the entertainment value of football:
Alisdair: “Maybe while the people are running, some elephants will come and chase them.”


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7 Quick Takes Friday – All of the Things

— 1 —

Well, I kind of disappeared there, didn’t I? Let’s hit some of the highlights from my absence:

— 2 —

I did my first race! So cross that off the 2014 goal list. My time was 36:29 for 5K, or about 11:45/mile. Even though it was hot and humid, that is a pace record (or PR if you’re into the running lingo) for me. I think it helped that I picked a group of runners to stay near who were faster than me, and that the course was less hilly than when I run at home.

Unfortunately, the only race photos of me are a huge sweaty mess (I guess I should have taken the “smile!” warning signs seriously, because I looked AWFUL – even though I felt great!), so, if you want to see me with a race bib on, you’ll get your next chance at the 6.6K for the Mario Lemieux Foundation. I would like to get under an 11 minutes pace, but I have no idea if that is realistic if I’m also increasing distance by about a mile. Oh well, never hurts to try!

Also, if someone had told me that running races means you get pizza and ice cream after them, I would have totally started years ago.

— 3 —

My mom also came out for a visit and stayed with us about five days (there was a trip to her sister’s and her mom’s/my grandma’s in there). She helped me weed out some really disastrous areas in the front yard and was quite content to let Alisdair badger her with endless questions (telling me at one point, “Wow, he really never stops thinking, does he?”)


(a rare still moment)

She also charged the battery for the boys’ ride-in Mustang, which was a present from my dad (who loves Mustangs). Sadly, we found out that Alisdair is definitely not ready to drive it yet.

— 4 —

Starting this week I also have two more kids that I am babysitting. The five year old I began watching earlier this spring is now in kindergarten, so it’s me and five boys three and under during the day – two 3-year-olds, two 2-year-olds (the newbies, identical twin boys), and one 1-year-old.

I am pretty sure this is the definition of insanity, but so far, everything is going well. I’ll know the twins feel at home when they feel like they can start misbehaving.

— 5 —

I also, very, very carefully, did some discerning and decided to sign up for one hour of Adoration every week at our parish. If previous experience is any indication, something crazy will happen in a month and I’ll have to quit, but I do think this will be different. For one, instead of feeling guilty that I wasn’t “doing all the things” and signing up impulsively for something with a huge time commitment, I decided to pray for a long time and accept that there are just some things in this season of my life that I cannot do, even if there are other moms/people who are in similar situations who seem to manage just fine.

But a dedicated hour with Jesus every week? I am really looking forward to it.

(eating hot dog buns with forks at our annual parish picnic. I have classy sons.)

— 6 —

Tonight Ian and I have a special date night without the kids (we’re doing a gallery crawl, which for us is very different!). It’ll be our first night without any kids since before Éamon was born (though Alisdair has spent a few nights with the grandparents). I am really, really, REALLY looking forward to being able to sleep in tomorrow morning.

— 7 —

We won’t be sleeping in too late, though, because we are doing a tour of the new building for Ian’s high school, then it’s off to visit the boys before I head off to a bridal shower. I still have to wrap my gift, but I have to find it first…

Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Talking with Tots

So it’s Wednesday instead of Tuesday, but I’m still committing to blogging about the fun things my children say (because it’s both of them now!)

Here are some highlights:

Me: Alisdair, what would you like for lunch?
Alisdair: A turkey sandwich
Me: Okay, do you want it as a roll-up or on bread?
Alisdair: On bread. With the turkey on the side. And peanut butter and jelly on the bread.

Alisdair: Was that thunder? I love the booms. They are loud.

Alisdair: When we get home, I want to wear pants. Not shorts. I don’t love shorts. I love pants. They make me feel better.

Éamon is not quite so verbose, but he’s picked up a couple things over the past few weeks that are adorable (of course, I am his mother so I might be a little biased.)

At every vehicle that drives down our street: Car! Car! Caaaaaaaar!

At every four-legged animal he sees: Pig! (anything with wings is “bird”)


Anyone who wants to join the fun is free to and add your link in the comments! Thinking this week I’ll work on some kind of logo and figure out how to do a legit link-up. :) Any number of things by any number of the kids in your life (if they’re not yours, I’d recommend getting permission from the parents or keeping them anonymous).

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Answer Me This – Periodicals and Bad TV

Answer Me This3

1. What is your favorite room in the house?

I really like our bedroom. It’s a good size, I like our furniture, it’s usually a pretty reasonable temperature (we have hot and cold spots elsewhere), and the lighting situation is about what it needs to be. It just needs a coat of paint and new window treatments and I’d be happy. Mental note: add to 2015 goals.

2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?

The kids have a gift subscription to the National Geographic magazine for preschoolers. It is a favorite for in the car and on the potty.

Ian gave me a subscription to Magnificat last year for Christmas and I read it pretty much every day.

We have a few other subscriptions too, but they were all free. I think right now I get Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, Taste of Home, and Better Homes and Gardens. I only pull them out to put new reading material in the bathroom if we are having guests. My original plan when I got them was to have material for the boys to cut up, but that’s going to have to wait until at least fall since we spend so much time playing outside at the moment!

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?

At our parish it’s done (IMO) just exactly right. You shake hands with the people immediately around you, hug your family members, and maybe wave to a few people if you catch their eye a few pews away. 30 seconds max, then moving on. I don’t like it when we’ve visited parishes and everybody decides they need to hug everyone else in the building, including the priest. To me, that is a huge distraction.

The sign of peace is actually optional, and I wouldn’t mind it if it was omitted, but I do think that would be interpreted badly by Catholics and non-Catholics who aren’t familiar with why Mass is the way it is. Catholics have the unfortunate reputation in the US of being unfriendly, which I think is mostly a lack of understanding of the type of worship that Mass is (different from the fellowship-style worship that characterizes the practice of other Christians). Catholics can have that kind of worship too, but the Mass is the major expression of our faith and we do it a very specific way for a reason. But not everybody knows that.

4. What is your least favorite sound?

No contest: The high pitched whine of a child who refuses to understand that the noise he is making is having the opposite effect he intended. Luckily, due to relentless consistency, it doesn’t take long for the offending child to remember that honey catches more flies than vinegar.

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?

Wow, I watched so much crud growing up I don’t even know what to tell you. Seems like the TV was ALWAYS on. I remember I liked Eureka’s Castle as a kid. I remember nothing about what was on it, just that I liked it. I also really liked this low-budget Canadian TV show called PJ Katie’s Farm. It was the best. There was this woman who made these farm animals out of modeling clay and just moved them around and played pretend like a kid, but it was on camera.

I remember watching Home Improvement with my mom and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?

I guess I still watch some crud. American Ninja Warrior has me fascinated this season, to the point that I really think I want to try rock climbing. I also watch The Amazing Race (Ian and I like the idea, but we just know if we ever got picked to be on it we’d be that bickering couple everybody hates.)

I also really like Downton Abbey, Mad Men (most of the time), and Call the Midwife (most of the time.) When it’s obvious they’ve stepped out of the time period and are either lecturing us about the now (Call the Midwife) or just appealing to “hey, guess what we’re allowed to show on TV now” (Mad Men), I like them less. Parks and Rec is also hilarious, though sometimes it cuts a little close to home for Ian, whose job bears some striking similarities to those depicted on the show.

For More Answer Me This head on over to Catholic All Year!

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