11.07.2017

Hallowtide

I saw Jim Gaffigan say somewhere, "When did October 31st become the last day of Halloween?" So true! On the Friday before, I took Maggie and Betsy to a little preschool Halloween carnival at our town's community center. Claire's school had a Trunk or Treat event after her last soccer game that evening. 

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We spent the weekend jumping in leaves and carving pumpkins. Never again will we let each child pick out a pumpkin to carve! Well, at least not until they're old enough to actually help. Claire and Maggie kept talking about getting Halloween decorations, but thankfully were content with one $3 package of fake spider webs this year. 

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On the actual holiday, Claire got to wear her costume to school for the kindergarten Halloween party, while Betsy and Maggie were invited to wear theirs to music class. 

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We had our second annual "spooky dinner" before trick-or-treating. The mummy hot dogs and skeleton veggie tray were a big hit. 

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But the mummy apple slices could use a bit of work. Trying a different fruit idea next year! I also branched out by making these jack-o-lantern smoothies, which will not be appearing on the menu again. Way too labor intensive (I used melted chocolate to paint the jack-o-lantern faces on each cup) and, of course, my kids barely drank any (they were orange banana flavored). 

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Claire and Maggie rejected all of my family costume ideas (Peter Pan, Charlotte's Web, the Ingalls family) because they really wanted to dress up as Skye and Everest, the two girls dogs on Paw Patrol. I wasn't quite willing to let the themed costume tradition die yet though, so we rolled with it. Betsy was a member of the kitty catastrophe crew, perfect for our mischievous toddler. Apparently there's an episode in which the Paw Patrol save a walrus and his pregnant wife, the inspiration for the adult costumes. We found the walrus hats on Etsy and the girls' outfits at Target. 

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We trick or treated at about a dozen houses and then the girls were happy to pass out candy at home for a little bit before bed. A successful Halloween in the books! Although, if you're Catholic, you've still got two special days to celebrate. We all went to the School Mass first thing Wednesday morning for All Saints Day. That evening, we gathered all of our saint icons and statues onto our prayer table and sang a litany of saints. We went to Mass again on All Souls Day and got a beautiful candle blessed. That evening, we looked at pictures of our relatives who've passed away and prayed for the repose of their souls. I like to think the fact that our kids are named after saints and relatives help make these two holy days more meaningful for them at such a young age. 

11.05.2017

Loving Lately

Favorite Podcasts

Podcasts. I never miss an episode of Young House Love Has A Podcast, Happier With Gretchen Rubin, Fountains of Carrots, and Messy Parenting. My favorites probably being the last two. I love Fountains of Carrots' book club episodes - The Blue Castle was such a charming story! And I feel like their episode discussing The Crown vs. Victoria was pretty much made just for me. Messy Parenting is hosted by a Catholic couple with ten children. They share SO much wisdom in every episode! Podcasts make cleaning bathrooms and doing dishes infinitely more enjoyable. 

Take Up And Read. It will come to an end once we have a baby in our room again, but I've actually established a pretty good habit of waking up before our kids for some quiet prayer time. Claire's hiking accident inspired me to make this a much bigger priority. Being quite pregnant helps too, because when my alarm goes off in the morning I usually have to use the bathroom very badly or I'm just so uncomfortable that I spring out of bed quickly. I have been absolutely loving the Take Up and Read Catholic bible journals, written by Elizabeth Foss and a whole team of wonderful ladies.

Well Read Mom. A lovely friend started a Well Read Mom's group at our parish this fall. It is such a fantastic program! I'm a decent reader (usually averaging two months a book) but it's so nice to have a book club dedicated to reading more high-brow literature than I would usually choose for myself. The first selection was Gilead and the second is O Pioneers! which is actually free to download via Kindle. I fit most of my reading in at the gym, although in the bath (with lavender epsom salts) is my very favorite and occasionally I can sneak a few pages in the late afternoons while my kids are happily occupied (always accompanied by some chai tea.)

Read Aloud Revival. Their themed monthly picture book lists are the best! At the beginning of each month, I sit down and request them all from the library (checking the comments too for even more ideas). Then we have quality picture books waiting for us when we visit each week, simple as that. They also have some great chapter book suggestions, but I've found more recommendations from Everyday Reading (her mom's blog is great too!), from browsing homeschooling curriculum, and from awesome friends like Rosie and Bethany.

Funny TV Shows. We watch a lot of sitcoms - The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Last Man on Earth, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, American Housewife, Speechless. That really does sound like a lot, but since we watch them all on Hulu without commercials, it's only about 3.5 hours of television a week. Laughing together is such a great way to end the day! We do make an exception for one drama, Madam Secretary. We enjoy it so much we even watch with commercials on the CBS website. Out of all of these, we would most recommend The Good Place. One of the main characters actually reminds us a lot of our pastor, which makes it even more humorous. The first season is on Netflix if you'd like to catch up!

British Period Pieces. Well, you can probably guess that I'm super, super excited for the second seasons of The Crown and Victoria this winter. Somehow I haven't gotten into Poldark though. I'm very intrigued by Outlander, especially since I've read several of the books, but I've heard it's almost as graphic as Game of Thrones. I'm really looking forward to seeing these four films, all being released this fall - Viceroy's House, Victoria and Abdul, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and Breathe - although I'm betting I'll have to wait for them to come out on video. 

11.03.2017

Maggie's Fourth Birthday

Our daughters seemed to have a great time at Claire's simple fifth birthday party at home, because Maggie requested the exact same thing. But after her "simple" party was more stress and expense than we thought and realizing I would be 38 weeks pregnant when Maggie turned four, we looked for birthday party deals in our parish school's auction last spring. We ended up scoring a party package at a local gymnastics place for $40.

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We scheduled the party a week before her actual birthday, so I would be slightly less pregnant. Our daughters and ten little friends had a great time jumping on the trampoline, going down the giant inflatable slide, and running around the obstacle course for the first hour of the party.

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They moved up to the "party room" for the last forty-five minutes, which is really just the upstairs parents' waiting area. Maggie had requested a Paw Patrol theme, so we did our best to simply incorporate that into the snack table.

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The favors were little Paw Patrol puzzles from the dollar store with Maggie's favorite candy, Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

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She planned a menu of cheese sticks, pretzels, and apples with cookie butter for the snack.

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Maggie and Claire helped me bake the birthday girl's requested chocolate cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

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We sang happy birthday, devoured cupcakes, passed out favors and we were done! Much easier and actually cheaper than Claire's party at home. I'm not sure I would have paid full price for this party package, but for $40 it was a no-brainer. 


My parents came to visit the weekend of her party. Despite the girls' expressions in this photo (we were rushing out the door for Mass) we all had a great time. They also got to watch Claire's CYO soccer game and go out on the town to see Aladdin with us. 

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The following Saturday was Maggie's real birthday. Adam took Claire and Maggie to see the Seattle Symphony children's performance of the Firebird. They met up with the girls' good friend, Paige, and her dad, Jon, for a fun daddy-daughter outing. The show is aimed at children from five to twelve, but at age four Maggie and Paige had no problems making it through the forty-five minute performance. It was supposed to be their Halloween show, so kids were invited to wear their costumes. That night, we had Maggie's friend, Theresa, and her family over for dinner, since they were out of town for her party. We had Maggie's favorite meal, pizza, with ice cream cake, and forced them to watch her birthday slideshow.

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One of our presents to Maggie was that I would take her to a painting place to make her own coin bank, something we'd done with Claire a few years ago. We did that the last Saturday morning of October. It was really fun to have some one-on-one time with my middle girl and my mini-me! 

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I took Claire to the same painting place that afternoon for a kindergarten friend's party - she spotted Maggie's fox bank on the drying rack and pointed it out to all of her classmates. I loved that she was proud of her little sister's handiwork. 

10.22.2017

Happy Birthday, Maggie!

(The password is TheBurchBook)

We love you!

10.20.2017

September and October Happenings

We've spent a lot of our time lately preparing for George's arrival. Of course, our biggest task was moving all three big sisters into the same bedroom. It's going surprising well at bedtime, but everyone keeps waking up ridiculously early. I'm typing this at 5:50 am and already two of our children are awake, which is highly unusual for them. Hopefully they'll quickly learn to sleep a little more deeply. It's been fun to redecorate the two kids' rooms. I really want to post pictures soon! My dear friend, Bethany, kindly threw a baby shower to celebrate our little guy in early September - now his dresser is stocked with the softest blankets, cutest sleepers, and most darling tiny button-down shirts. 

Adam and I have gotten to enjoy three date nights this fall. Last winter, we put the Christmas money from our parents towards a Broadway Across America subscription, so that we could see Hamilton when it comes to town in February 2018. For much less than the cost of tickets in New York City, we also get to see several other musicals. And the two that didn't really strike our fancy can be donated to the school auction. In September, we went to the first show of the season, which was almost as exciting as Hamilton for me, The Sound of Music. It was so thrilling to see my favorite movie brought to life on stage. 

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A couple weeks later, my parents drove in for the weekend just to watch our girls overnight. Adam and I spent a fantastic twenty-four hours in downtown Seattle. On Saturday, we did some fabric shopping for George's monthly photos/birthday quilt, had dinner at Le Pichet, our favorite French restaurant, and went to see Jim Gaffigan. (I gave Adam tickets for his birthday back in the spring.) On Sunday, we enjoyed a very peaceful Mass in which we didn't have to wrangle any small children and actually got to sit next to each other. We had brunch at a new-to-us French restaurant because apparently we like to pretend like we're in Paris and then walked around Pike Place Market before heading home. We had an amazing time and are so grateful to my parents for making it happen!

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So, when they came to visit again for Maggie's birthday party last weekend, we jumped at the opportunity to take them out on the town! We bought two more tickets to Aladdin, the next show on the docket for our musical subscription, and had a great time spending the evening with them. Aladdin was such a fun, colorful show with some really neat special effects, especially the classic magic carpet scene. It was very different from The Sound of Music, which was not flashy at all, but just as enjoyable to watch.

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Even after five years, we're still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin patch here in Seattle (Pittsburgh had some really great ones!). This fall, we tried out Bob's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm with our friends and fellow former Pittsburgh residents, the Clarks. It was a delightful morning, but I don't think we're ready to end our search just yet.

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Because I somehow didn't get a solo picture of Maggie at the pumpkin patch, I'll include this one from her birthday invitation. She planned every detail of this photo meticulously.

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She's just so adorable and we are very excited to celebrate her fourth birthday tomorrow!