Friday, December 27, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol. 72

Joining my sick compatriot Jen for these festive takes...


I've got few Christmas photos this year, and I forgot my camera at my mom''re welcome...

Merry Christmas to you all!
 I hope everyone is enjoying these holy days of celebration and feasting! It's 12 days of Christmas pace yourselves....

I would have wished you all a Joyeux Noel sooner but...


I got sick for Christmas! Just what everyone wants in time for the busiest days of the year, right? And I'm not talking your regular run-of-the-mill head cold. Oh no. I'm talking kicks you in the ass and leaves you a moaning carcass flu. I was so ache-y and sore I couldn't move for almost three days! It was absolutely ridiculous. And of course, hit me on Monday and has just backed off today. 


So it twas the night before Christmas and all through our house not a creature was stirring...because I had to ship all the kids to my mom's while Paul and I had a measly three hour nap in which we were practically dead to the world. We managed to make it to my mom's to watch the kids while they were fortunate enough to go to Christmas Eve Mass with Gemma. We stayed awake long enough to open Christmas jammies, throw the kids in their beds for a dreamless sleep, lay out some stockings, gather some gifts under the tree and were back in bed for the night by 9 pm. It was a happening time! 


Thank goodness we hadn't planned on going far but just to my parents for Christmas Day. My parents and siblings entertained all the kids, who were in general all feeling alright, while their poor parents lay on couches in various rooms of the house. I'm so happy the kids don't depend upon their parents for happiness because they all had a fabulous day and declared this the "Best Christmas Ever!" 

I only ate a tiny bit of turkey dinner, and only a handful of butter tarts as opposed to my usual Christmas quota.


Amazingly, though it still felt like Christmas. It still was full of happy, excited, wonderful children thrilled at every little treat they found in their stockings and each of their gifts. Everything seems so special and magical, they demand everything to be just like last year and bring so much joy to everyone around them. Even their sad, sick parents. 

It's really sad missing Christmas Eve Mass though, I may have cried sad, sickly tears over  not being able to go. I would have had to be physically restrained from going if I could have gotten up under my own power! I'm hoping we'll all be well enough to go to Mass tomorrow evening, and I fully intend to make everyone get dressed up fully in their unworn Christmas finery!


Unfortunately Nora was the worst off in the under 25 crowd with this flu. She was the first to catch it, spent three very sleepless nights sniffling, coughing, and just being generally miserable, I thought she had bounced back and kicked her fever by Tuesday, but on Christmas day she became quiet, her fever came back with a vengeance, and she just was lying around. That's the worst isn't it? When your baby is just lying there, not grumpy, not crying, just lying. So I was completely terrified and took her into the emergency room yesterday morning and she's got a wicked case of tonsillitis! My poor baby! Thankfully she's really improved since the drugs kicked in yesterday and I'm so happy to not have a  feverish baby. Her first Christmas wasn't the best introduction to what Christmas is all about, but she doesn't eat much solids yet next year will be amazing for her I'm sure! 


I know you're just blown away by these exciting glamorous tales, but wait-there's more! Tomorrow is my sweet Max's 2nd Birthday! I can't believe he's two already. These past years have definitely flown by in comparison to even Gemma's first two years. I love baby's turning two. It just opens up a little more independence, things begin to get a little easier in more ways, hopefully he'll start talking! We'll be throwing a very simple soiree for him tomorrow with more presents, candy, and less sickness! Max knows it's his birthday because the boys like to remind him of it every 10 minutes, his reaction says something like, if they're so excited about something it's got to be good! 

Hope you're all having a healthier holiday! Thanks for reading these stellar takes!

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes - An Overload of Christmas Photos edition!

Joining the lovely Jen (Pre-order her book right now!), for seven of the randomest, 'tis the season!


At least someone has their act together and is dressed for the day!

Does it never cease to amaze you too that you can be up early, have everyone else up early, breakfasted, somewhat cleaned, and think to yourself, "Wow, I'm going to get so much done today-look at me go!", only to realize its now 11 am, dishes are still piled everywhere, the house has only gotten messier, and you've spent all of your time breaking up toddler aggressions, changing bomb diapers, and trying to get the baby to nap??

ANYWAYS - nuts to all that mess and getting crap done, I might as well blog!


It's Friday everyday when you're 9 months old and sleep/wakeup whenever you want!

If there wasn't Seven Quick Take posts popping up everywhere I could have sworn it was Thursday, so that's a pleasant surprise. This week has been a flurry of Christmas around here, the kids are brimming with excitement. I feel the noise levels are rising in ratio with the excitement too. If I make it to Christmas I'll be thrilled. 

I feel ready for Christmas.  Oh, not in the I've-got-all-my-presents-wrapped/bought, house-is-clean, cookies-are-baked kinda way, but in an excited anticipatory way. I'm going to chalk this feeling up as an Advent success. I feel as if somehow I'm not even thinking about stressing out about stuff. I have no idea if gifts will be successful, or wrapped for that matter, or if every child will be perfectly happy, or if I got everything I wanted done or not, or if every obligatory Christmas activity has happened or not. I'm just leaving room for wonder and feel ready to celebrate and feast. 


We ventured out last weekend for our yearly Christmas tree hunt. Living out in the wilderness has the one advantage that finding a Christmas tree takes about five minutes. Perfect length for toddlers and small children!

I won't tell you that we just picked a tree from the side of the road that runs through my dad's property. It's a beauty this year though, nice a full, because it grew in a nice open ditch.


Then the decorating commenced! The kids have somehow developed the idea that they decorate the tree every year. I don't know where they got this idea though, because I'm pretty sure I actively discourage it every year. And it usually ends in a flurry of tears and sap-covered fingers. But we did let them decorate if only for the nice photo ops, there were four very decorated branches. 


I have a big tub of unbreakable ornaments that I store at the top of the Christmas box so I just hand it to the kids and tell them to go nuts. So far this theory has worked well and they cover the bottom half of the tree with the cheap ornaments which saves some time for me. Then they go to bed and I carefully unpack the breakables and momentos and hang them, then my OCD kicks in and I completely redistribute the ornaments the kids had previously hung. And which they'll rehang as soon as the wake up the next morning. And every morning after that.

I realized again I need to stop buying ornaments. But I cannot stop. I love all the ornaments!

I need a better picture of the finished tree but heres one shot for ya - 


Also, I started feeding the baby child her first solids the last couple weeks. I'm on the baby led feeding train and let me tell you, if you learn one thing in having five babies in six years is that feeding babies younger than 8 months is just. not. worth. it. Seriously, just wait until they actually care. Don't bother feeding them the baby crap at six months. It really doesn't matter, they make a giant mess, its a huge waste of your time and energy.

I only break down and feed baby food when the baby figures out that they could have a little variety in their diet and begin to demand it with tantrums and grumpiness. Nora's almost 9 months old, and she's starting to eat chunks of banana, pear, and apple in the mesh-teether thing which makes feeding the baby completely hands-free, which is my goal. But sometimes I still have to break down and spoon feed her. 

I think I have issues with how much I detest this aspect of babyhood. I need to get over it. 


Here's a confession for you-I don't have anything for my parents yet. They're so hard to shop for and I'm coming up completely blank. It's my biggest gift fail. I'm praying for a miracle that somehow lands me at least an idea of what I should give them by Christmas Eve...cmon miracle idea! 

Another New Year's resolution for 2014, which has been a resolution since 2012, learn how to use my ding-dong camera. I want to so badly! 

I'm dying for Christmas chocolates that I'm saving for Christmas day...I know they're in the house though...

Ok, I'm leaving now, someone stop the rambling!

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Five Favourite Classic Christmas Movies

For today's Five Favourites over at Moxie Wife I decided to share my top five favourite classic movies!

Of course, I didn't list It's a Wonderful Life because I feel that one goes without saying, but I do watch old movies all the time and have loved them forever so I thought I'd extol my other faves this holiday season so they can bring some Christmas magic your way!


Holiday Inn

Some say Holiday Inn is another version of White Christmas. And some people are just plain wrong. There are many similarities, but where White Christmas oozes sophistication, Holiday Inn is more homey and comedic - of course, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are amazing to watch together.

Fred Astaire plays a charming but entertaining jerk, and his dancing adds magic to every scene. Bing is the best and seems to have chemistry with every actor he is cast with, this movie is no exception! He croons delightfully through the different holiday songs, throws in a well timed joke, and basically makes you fall in love with him every time. The movie somehow weaves together songs from other holidays while still feeling like a "Christmas" movie. I watch it every year and it makes me happy with each viewing.

Sidenote: I think I pretended to run an Inn every Christmas as a kid...I've watched these movies A LOT.


The Bishop's Wife

A charming, romantic, tale of an angel coming to earth to help a bishop remember that love begins at home. Cary Grant is perfectly debonair as the angel of any woman's dreams who reminds Loretta Young what she loves most about her husband, played wonderfully by David Niven.

So, yes its theologically inaccurate. But just ignore the theological errors and focus on Cary Grant's awesome debounair-ness. He makes it really easy to forget theological inaccuracies, but don't tell anyone I said that! Loretta Young is so sweet, David Niven is so stuck-up, and the skating scene is one of my favourites from any movie. And the boys choir just means Christmas to me!


The Shop Around the Corner

This movie is the same basic story as You've Got Mail, BUT its still one of my favourite holiday movies, most likely because of Jimmy Stewart, but also from the quirky supporting cast. There is also the wonderful Christmas feel of a time gone by, the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas around the shop, and I love its emphsis on the community that's built from the people who work at the shop.

One of my all-time favourite movies of which I know all the songs and dialogue by heart. This is a wonderful Judy Garland musical, all the songs are a treat, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" became famous from this movie. Another great aspect of the story of Judy Garland as a teenage daughter in turn of the century St. Louis, is that it is such a great family movie that actually portrays a real family! A family who doesn't always get along, who tease each other, it even features children of a wide age difference, but who care deeply about their home and each other. Judy Garland is at her best, the costumes are a hoot, and the production is perfect. A wonderful family story perfect for Christmas. Love.


White Christmas

To me, this movie is perfect. Bing Crosby singing. Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in the best dresses by Edith Head. Danny Kaye hilarity. Gorgeous set design and the perfect mix of music and snappy dialogue. I just adore it all. I love the storyline, and its perfect mix of holiday and romance. It defines the classic movie to me. Its not Christmas till I sit down and watch this one,  pure happiness!

Now, what are your fave Christmas movies?

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Monday, December 16, 2013

A Year in Blog - The Posts with the Most

I loved Sarah's idea to have a "Most" post, a little round-up of the year's blogging accomplishments. So I actually went back and looked up my old posts which is something I never do and this is what I came up with!

I'm so appreciative of all of you lovely readers. Thank you so much for reading, or stopping by occasionally, or saying hello now and again, or for being great friends I've met through this crazy internet wonder!

It's great having this "hobby" that's can be shared. I love being able to put down some "adult" thoughts, or complain a little to compatriots in the cause of raising babies, or share frivolous ideas or random rants. I love blogging because it really does connect kindred spirits that you'd never know otherwise!

Hope you enjoy - Visit Sarah and the other fun bloggers who've joined the fun.

Post with the most clicks: 

That would be this Seven Quick Takes in which I complained about a lot of things, but mostly about how time consuming taking care of 5 kids all day is. It was linked to by Jen, my blog hero, so that explains why it's still getting hits today over seven months later. It also had some happy birthday missives, not just complaining!

Post with the most comments:

I just love all your lovely comments. They make me feel just chuffed. It's so comforting to my sanity to know someone reads what I write, even occasionally. So thanks, pour yourself a glass of eggnog on me!

The post with the most comments was also the one with the most clicks-so coming in next was Children Belong at Mass. Period., Nora's baptism, and A Day in the Life with 5 Kids post. A good range of posts I would say.

Post with the best photo:

This is a tough one, not because I take so many great photos but because I just forget which ones were alright. But I think my favourite pictures are from the post of Nora being brought home for the first time. Pretty precious. I may be tearing up looking at them again. All my darling babies together! All my babies finally birthed! I love thinking about the joy of just having given birth and no longer being pregnant-its a great thing. And Nora was a beautiful newborn if I do say so myself.

Post that was hardest to write:

Nora's birth story was hard to write because I don't want too much information to be strewn across the internet, but I wanted to capture the miracle of birth and also the excruciating pain of it. I felt I needed to write her birth story more as a topper on such a complaint-filled pregnancy. I wish I had the talent to write entertaining birth stories!

I found it really hard to express how difficult the pregnancy was for me, since it wasn't too difficult physically. I also try to be honest around here but don't want to be super negative, so I didn't know what to write during that time for the most part. It was a rough time for me, so this post on the final weeks of pregnancy was tough to write in general.

Post that was my personal favourite:

I usually am not amazingly happy with my posts. I usually hit publish without too much editing or proofreading, and often I wish I had more time to better flesh out ideas or at least communicate them in a more eloquent way, but part of the purpose of this blog is to give me a place to air my thoughts and I think its more effective to do this without spending weeks and weeks on just one post. I think it's part of God showing me to be a little happier with my imperfections and it also keeps me fairly humble. Blogging=humility.

But I found three posts of which I really am fairly proud. My posts on Marriage the Mysterious Sacrament, G.K. Chesterton on Parents and Education, and Sometimes the Sacraments Are All a Mom Has. It feels like cheating to put up three. But I think that's the best I can do!

Now I feel emotionally drained! What a year.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol. 70

Merry Advent everyone-Joining Jen for the weekly dose of random!

Be warned of completely unrelated photos!


Quick! Someone name me a profession similar to dealing with an irate, irrational, teething, non-English speaking toddler who refuses to eat protein!!

The only things I can come up with are a) UN diplomat, b) Britney Spear's personal assistant, and c) Vladimir Putin's personal assistant. Let's just say if I wanted those jobs...oh they'd be mine after this week.


Max. Every day. Screaming. Irrationally. 
I know he's teething, I know he can't communicate to me properly because I believe he's willfully withholding English verbiage on purpose, or at least in part, and I know he's not even two years old yet, but oh boy, do the mornings sure feel like long loud hours around here. This week was so brutal. There is only so much screaming I can withstand. He, of course, is tantruming over having to eat such horrible things like anything with protein and wanting to subsist solely upon apple sauce and hidden tootsie rolls he's finding in the crevices of his siblings mattresses from Halloween, all food groups that only fuel irrational tantruming. Its like a vicious circle of tantrum! 


Weather. Sucks.
Snowed in again this week, and much too cold to put the child herd outside. It's starting to feel like I may not make it through the winter. The boys are running around in circles all the time. I'm starting to feel bad for them. At least we're all getting out today for the ever-so-exciting outing of appointments at the optometrist's! Huzzah!


Another couple nights of terrible baby sleep can be added to the screaming toddler and the cooped up little people. Nora was up till 2 am screaming for what I hope was just teeth, it was a one off in the screaming department, she's definitely not sleeping through the night, but screaming for what seems like no reason is always off-putting. And sleep-depriving. 

Picture this: exhausted mom, baby who has to be held, toddler who just screams, three older kids who need to get out of the house but can't stop fighting with each other and/or asking me questions and it is past the boiling point. 


Soooo you can tell how my week has gone. My nerves be frayed my friends. And when the nerves be frayed I resort to the survival mode of more coffee, more chocolate and more frivolous tv. I've officially gotten on board the Parenthood bandwagon after being pestered by my friend forever. And I'm fully on board. We can now talk about it whenever you want, and I'll give you updates as to my opinions when they happen. I'm basically half way through the first season and what surprises me the most is how likeable Dax Shepard is! I mean, he's Veronica Mars' baby daddy so there have to be some things going for him, but I was surprised at how much I like him already. Its weird.  


Hey hey! Advent wreath link-up everyone! 
I've really liked seeing everyone's wreaths who linked up over at CatholicMom. I think we should share the pretty simplicity of advent wreaths so the ugly pinterest Advent wreaths of the world don't take over and taint Advent forever! 
Here's ours:

Pretty simple. I use a purple cloth napkin to get my liturgical colour in, and this year I just cut some evergreen branches and curled them around the cheap, fake greenery of the ring and it is such an improvement! It adds weight, height and looks so much better all around. I think someone gave us the wreath and candle holder sometime after we got married, and I have forgotten who but we're still making it work. I keep meaning to buy a white candle for the centre because I'd like to light all the candles during Christmas, so maybe I'll find on. 

We've been eating dinner without the lights on with just the candles lit and the kids think its the greatest. They have romantic tastes I guess. Max especially loves it and never lets me forget to turn the lights off. It's pretty adorable. It's also refreshing not seeing how slowly or messily the kids are eating...ignorance proves blissful once again!


And now that I'm fresh out of any new thoughts here are some links I liked this week:

How a Great Book Can Spark Creativity. Great ways of looking at how reading changes how you think.

How do you know when your eggnog has gone bad?? I put some in my coffee just now...and I'm beginning to fear its gone funky...

Happy Weekend!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday - Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson

I can't let another What We're Reading Wednesday go by without talking about how much I enjoyed Pope Awesome and Other Stories. Book love must be shared!

I know you don't need to read my review of Cari Donaldson's book to know that she's a great Catholic mom and writer. I'm sure most of us are fervent readers of her wonderful blog where she chronicles so much wonderfulness that is her life and family. It's pretty safe to say I've got a significant blog crush on Mrs. Donaldson; house full of kids, homeschooling like a champ, gorgeous hair, great sense of humor, and impeccable writing skills - could I please grow up to be that lady?? Reading her book is such a pleasure if only because of feeling you already know her with the added fun of an honest-to-goodness book in your hands.

I'm not a convert, (I know! A minority in the world of Catholic blogging, or practicing Catholics??) but I think this book is a great read for more than the conversion story itself. Cari's conversion is a beautiful testament to the sensitivity of God's love in our lives, even when we think we're doing our own thing. Cari searches for a meaningful faith through atheism to new age beliefs to investigating all faiths in between, all the while God keeps tugging her towards truth and relationship. But along with a conversion of faith comes the opening and outpouring of a life of joy and family.

It's an important thing to be reminded of how rewarding and joy-filled family life can be, especially these days when we live in a world bent on diminishing and ignoring the importance of a family. It can also be discouraging for those of us who've made Catholic family life our priority. This book is both a witness and inspiration for what Catholic family life means. The good, the bad, the natural family planning. For me I just like being reminded that this crazy way of life, i.e. having a bunch of kids, wanting to homeschool, living life by the seat of your not-knowing-how-many-kids-you-want-pants, is a life that other people have chosen and love. Sometimes it's just comforting and inspiring knowing others have gone ahead of you (even if only a few years ahead of you) and are still experiencing joy and happiness while maintaining a sense of humor.

I laughed and cried at different points in Cari's story. Her spot-on storytelling rings true to those of us living with babies and toddlers while toughing it out in the grocery store and answering the same questions of the big family gawkers. Her sense of humor brings to life the many times that following God's will can be challenging and difficult. All the while her prose is snappy yet heartfelt and a pleasure to read. I stopped every couple chapters to remind myself that she somehow wrote such a great book while living with 6 kids!

Pope Awesome and Other Stories is sure to open hearts to the Faith, but I hope that it also opens hearts and minds to how great family life can be. It's one of the most important messages we can give to our world that is suffering so sadly from the pain of destroyed families in one form or another. Cari's story is also great to support us Catholic moms in the trenches. Cari does a brilliant job in showing honestly the way God and faith change a person's life and fills it with joy, love, and grace.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes vol 69.

Joining Jen and the other better takers this week. Go visit Conversion Diary for your weekly fix!


Greetings from the coldest place on earth right now. No, I'm not even being dramatic. (Although I do want to make a dramatically big deal about it.) But Alberta really is the coldest place on earth right now, so Santa has nothing on us. Apparently it feels like -41 C out right now, but I'm not going to test that theory. I'm boycotting the outdoors until I have to leave for Mass tomorrow. I can do it! I have satellite tv and the internet!


So a happy feast of St. Nicholas to you and all your filled-shoe loving children! My kids have grabbed the St. Nicholas tradition and run with it after only two short years of practicing it and awoke this morning with squeals of glee upon finding gold chocolate coins in their snow boots, and suddenly Christmas oranges became about 100% cooler than they were yesterday for breakfast! We've read our new St. Nicolas books, topical St. Nicholas books, and now I'm exhausted and the kids are grumpy so they're watching cartoons and I'm here.

Yay, St. Nicholas!


In the Advent vein, have you noticed how quickly children grab onto tradition? "As in last year we did this for Christmas why can't we do that this year?" It always astounds me that these kids can't remember that I asked them to wash their hands after going to the bathroom 2.6 million times, but they have picture perfect recollection of each treat St. Nicholas brought them two years ago. I mean, Really?!? 


But really, I think if this basic desire for tradition comes out in toddlers pretty much without prompting that it speaks to the truth that there is something inherent in human nature that desires tradition. Of course, modern thinking thinks tradition is some crutch of the masses, but when you see it in your individual sweet babies and homes then I think that changes things. Another wonderful thing you learn in the family, that goes out to mean so much more in the world around you. Even if society tells you otherwise!


I think Advent so far has been going well. Sure, Luke asks me everyday if tomorrow is Christmas, and I say "Nope, not till all the candles are lit!" Then by dinnertime they'll want to lit all the candles so tomorrow can be Christmas. Everyday. But we've got three more weeks so surely it'll sink in right?? Right??

I've been fitting in a little more reading/quiet prayer time, by some miracle! An Advent miracle! There have also been funny little things I've been noticing. Things overheard in stores, or in line to see Santa, stuff jumping out from Gospel readings. I'm pretty sure it all links together somehow, but it's taking a while to sink into me. But I hope it is and I'm making heads or tails out of it. I like how Advent makes me watchful and a little more attentive to these little things. The Holy Spirit works in little ways more often than not I think.


Also-I'm thinking about all my pregnant friends right now! Since I've been pregnant during Advent, I know how difficult it can be to have so much to do while being in the throes of pregnancy. Its tough. With each pregnancy I've also noticed how similar that waiting of pregnancy, especially the last month or so, really relates to the waiting of Advent. Its intense, its focused, you can't avoid the fact that you're waiting for something miraculous and important. A mother nearing the end of pregnancy is someone who is intensely focused. And focused completely. I think its the best example of the type of waiting we're supposed to be experiencing during Advent. Although, harder to practice when you're not in the constant physical discomfort/anxiety/anticipating mentality that you can't avoid in pregnancy. Its hard to imitate!

Prayers for all my mother friends!


I can say I haven't made much progress towards Christmas itself this week. And I'm kinda ok with that. I've been snowed/frozen in all week, getting a bit of cabin fever, but I haven't baked anything or prepared anything really either. I haven't shopped other than a couple online things ticked off the list. I'm trying to keep that weird Christmas-anxiety of "MUST BE WRAPPING/BAKING/BUYING SOMETHING ALL THE TIME!!" at bay because its really a drag. I think today we will bake something, because its much to cold to think about going outside and those are the perfect days to bake something yummy. 

Hope you have a lovely weekend everyone - eat some gingerbread ok?

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