Wednesday, November 25, 2015

{This and That}

Happy Early Thanksgiving!  I meant to pop in earlier this week to share What We're Reading, but recovery is going a little slower than expected, so that will have to wait until Monday.  In the meantime, I have been spending hours and hours trapped under this guy:

Not a bad problem to have!  But it has been a long past week.  (And I'm feeling really grateful that we're not traveling this weekend!)

It's been a long week for Justin too--he has developed a mean case of baby acne, and as you can see from his furrowed brow, he is none too happy about it! ;)

Seriously, he has a furrowed brow in just about every non-sleeping picture these days.  He is a very serious guy.


This week marks not just Thanksgiving but also the beginning of Advent.  I wanted to direct you to some favorite resources for celebrating both in your homes:

A few of my past posts:
Thanksgiving - Cooking Up a Thanksgiving "Feast"
Advent - A Time to Prepare and An Advent Morning Basket
This is one of those years when we're sticking with the tried-and-true and not adding anything new to our seasonal line-up.  One of the lovely things about children getting a bit older is that the traditions I spent so much time building when they were all bitty are now second nature, and we can celebrate without my having to do much intentional planning.


As you'll see in my Advent posts above, we do always do seasonal memory work, which then forms a Christmas program that the kids put on for our extended family.  (This is a tradition on my side of the family going back to when my mom was little!)

This Advent, the children are learning the following:

Grahame's "Christmas Carol"
"Long, Long Ago" from Favorite Poems Old and New
Luke 2:1-20 (we got through verse 14 last year and will continue from there)
in English - "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" and "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"
in Latin - "Veni, Veni Emmanuel"
and in Italian - "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night"

Those selections plus piano pieces by my three oldest are going to make for a full, fun performance on Christmas Eve.  I am already looking forward to it!


My older three are humming along on schoolwork thanks to our Babymoon Checklist, which has been working pretty flawlessly.  The more challenging part of these last couple weeks has been wrangling my preschoolers, who are taking the opportunity of my being fairly confined to the sofa to  let their big imaginations run wild.  They love playing together...and they also love causing mischief together.

I know, it's hard to believe. I mean, don't these three look angelic?

Alone they are indeed sweet and calm, but together (and with toddler brother along for the ride!) they keep me on my toes!

I have been trying to keep them out of trouble and contained happily occupied by saying yes to pretty much every non-destructive activity they ask to do.  Xavier spent a calm hour yesterday building "Pooh Corner" out of scratch paper:

...and the neighbor's gardener bought me fifteen calm minutes this morning!

They have been doing tons of drawing, which I highly encourage not only because it's quiet and productive but also because of all the adorable "gifts" they present me with every day:

From 5yo Xavier -

From 4yo Bridget -

From 3yo Clara -

The very top picture of Xavier's is a jockey riding his horse, and that's Clara doing a cartwheel at the top of that last one.

love little kid drawings.


And a couple quick reminders:

It's that time again: Kimberlee has all the details up for the For All The Saints ATC swap!  We will definitely be participating; the kids are busy choosing which saints they'll commemorate.  Head over for the details soon, because cards are due on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Keeping Company has some lovely entries up this month--go take a peek.  I'll be posting the invitation for December's link-up next week.  That gives you two weeks to add your posts to the November collection!

I'll be back soon to talk about books and lots more.  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!


  1. Wow love all the drawings!! They draw so well for being so young. And the calm moments!! And the little serious man is adorable!!

    1. Thank you! I love the different stages kids go through in their drawing--SO fun to watch!

    2. Also, your need for some toddler to-dos.....
      1. Pinterest!!!
      2. (I did this last week with my twin 6 year olds, 4 year old, 18 month old).) Play doh Creations. followed by Saint Coloring Pages (I found some great free ones from Catholic Playground). The good thing was it involved lots of saint trivia, discussion and q & a. Which invited the 9 year old over to join in the activities. All I did was sit and make sure the 18 month old did not eat crayons or play doh! (Of course I made verbal corrections often).
      3. Not sure if you already do this, but included in daily school checklist I have all of my older kids (ages 9-14) spend 20 minutes with each younger sibling. It does wonders to freeing my time! And make it a little less hectic for me in the afternoons. :)
      4. And of course, picture books, babywearing, audio books..... You probably know the routine by now.
      God bless! Happy Advent! And can't wait for the reading updates! :)

    3. Thank you! Yes, playdoh is always a huge hit here, and I do have my Big Kids rotating time with my Middles each day--that's a lifesaver. Love all the ideas!

  2. Aww. Your baby dear and wild toddlers are equally cute! :) Happy Thanksgiving! :)

    1. Ha, they are equally cute, aren't they? :) Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  3. Such beautiful children, Celeste! And maybe the box I am sending will help occupy them as you recover. :)

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa--I am SURE it will! :) This is the longest stretch my kids have had without a proper nature study outing in *years* and they are getting pretty stir-crazy with our suburban backyard. (And I am too!)

  4. Hi Celeste, I hope you'll be up and about again soon! And I hear you on the Advent thing - we have some great traditions and it is so nice to have the kids excited about them and to know what I'm doing already. I remember the beginning of Advent being so stressful not that long ago as I tried to figure all that out... but now that we do it is a welcome time, rather than a stressful one.

    I loved all the pictures and the artwork, thanks for sharing them!

    1. Having those traditions already in place really does make a big difference in how I approach the season. I do have new observances that I want to add in the future, but what we're doing is good enough for now. One of these years, I'd love to finally start a Jesse Tree, for example, but this is not that year. ;)

      Wishing your family a blessed start to Advent, Amber!

    2. My oldest is almost 18, I've been meaning to do a Jesse tree with my kids since she was 5. 10 kids later, it has yet to happen. Oh well!

    3. The Jesse Tree is a favorite of mine - my first Advent tradition I began in my family back when I was pregnant with our second child and about two years before I entered the Catholic Church. It was a wonderful practice for me, coming from a completely non-Christian background, to help me learn the Old Testament stories and how the Old leads to the New. We still do it every year, using some felt ornaments I made in a burst of energy when my third was a few months old. I am so thankful for them every year when I pull them out... And amazed I was able to make them given how crazy my life was then! The Jess Tree probably isn't as meaningful for my kids as was for me since they are so much more steeped in these stories, but we still do it and look forward to it.

      I'm sure there are things we could be adding, but I feel like we are at a good place now. Which is a really great feeling!

    4. That is how I feel about the O Antiphons and the St. Andrew novena--my two favorite devotions of the whole year, I think, because of how different they are from what I grew up with. It's funny to me how my kids' understanding of Advent, with the fullness of Catholic symbolism and liturgy, is so different from what mine was growing up in a Bible-heavy but anti-liturgical background!

    5. I have just been introduced to the Saint Andrew Novena just this year (not sure how I didn't earlier, I have been Catholic All my life & LOVE learning new things about the Faith!). It is such a rich and precious prayer, I absolutely love it! Although the 15 times a day thing is iffy I'm loving the prayer. A quick shout out to yourself and a bunch of other websites that introduced me to this great devotion. Thank You!

    6. My husband is a cradle Catholic and didn't know anything of the devotion until after we got married either. I'm glad you found it now! :) Hope you're having a blessed Advent so far!

  5. Congratulations on the birth of your little one!
    I recently discovered your blog, about a month or two ago, and have found it immensely helpful. Thank you so very much for everything you share, it's been inspirational. I have been digging through all your achieves and have gained so much.

    I am also Catholic home educator. I live in England and have a 7yr old, 4yr old and newborn. We have been following AO for the last 3 years but really starting to get our teeth in this academic year. Oh, and my mother is Italian, so we are learning Italian too!
    Thanks again
    best wises

    1. Antonia, so nice to "meet" you! Sounds like we have quite a lot in common. :) Thank you so much for your kind comment and for stopping by my little space here. And if you have any favorite resources for Italian learning, please do let me know! ;)

  6. Your kids are ADORABLE. And that BABY! *swoon*

    I love your children's drawings! I keep a lot of my kids' pictures. They are just so sweet. :) Do you keep many of them? I'd also love to hear about how you keep your home organized. (I'm assuming you *do* based on what I've seen on your blog. ;o)

    1. Thanks, Catie! Babies always make me swoon too. ;)

      I do not keep THAT many drawings, but I do keep...I'd say a dozen a year each? I have a file in our filing cabinet for each of the kids. At the end of each term, I go through all the papers I've collected over the past months and select a few to add to the file. (This is separate from their school stuff--just random drawings and whatnot.) A big pile of what's left over I give back to the kids to add to the "picture sales" they do for grandma and grandpa--they charge a few pennies each for their works of art and my parents "shop" their stash. Everything usually ends up getting purchased. ;) That's a win-win-win because the grandparents get LOTS of drawings, the kids get a couple dollars, and I get paper clutter moved out of the house. The rest goes in the recycle.

      I am always playing catch-up on organization just like everyone else, BUT I will say that organizing is one of my (few) gifts! :) My main tips are to have a place for everything, to have a routine for straightening the home a few times a day so that the task is never overwhelming, to streamline those routines as much as possible so that we're set up for success, and to have regular scheduled times for going through the built-up bits and culling/purging. (For me, that's spring cleaning, end of school year, and end of calendar year.)

      Oh, and to have a lot of kids! ;) Actually, I am only half kidding. More kids means more stuff in some ways, but it also means more helpers. My personal rule of thumb is that if a kid CAN do it, a kid SHOULD do it. That means that any organization tasks that can be done by a kid get assigned to one of them--because there are so many tasks that cannot, and those are by default mine. :) More kids also means that I have a lot of nesting opportunities! So every year or so the house gets a very thorough sorting-through. ;)

      Hope that gives you some ideas, Catie! And I hope I don't sound like I think myself a guru. We are always tackling clean-up and clutter here just like every other family! I imagine heaven to be quite orderly. ;)

  7. Oh, Celeste, my second had awful baby-acne, too. It looked SO painful. We discovered pretty quickly that he was sensitive to wheat - once I cut it out, his skin recovered pretty quickly. And now, he can tolerate it again (several years later). I hope you can find a solution quickly, poor dear! Thanks for sharing what life looks like right now! Even in the midst of being couch ridden with that sweet bundle, it looks pretty smooth and organized from here - even with paper pooh-corners and all. I am so thankful for doctors and nurses who can handle dealing with trauma, etc., because I sure can't - and for people like you who are so organized and willing to share their methods and offer hope to those of us who may be... less so. :o) My December baby was such a sweet reminder of the Birth we celebrate this time each year & how amazing it truly was. I hope Justin is the same for you!

    1. Yes, I just love being pregnant or having a newborn at Christmas. So magical. :)

      Thankfully Justin's acne is pretty much all cleared up now! About half of mine have had pretty bad-looking acne for a couple weeks around the two-week mark and it has gone away on its own, thank goodness! We actually had to take my oldest daughter's passport photo when she was two weeks old, and she had the WORST acne right then. The pictures are horrific and hilarious! LOL But of course she's adorable now. ;)

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, Jessie. :)