The seventh anniversary of 7 Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes is the linkup that begat all Catholic blogging linkups. When I first started reading blogs, I read Notre Dame football blogs, the blogs of friends, and blogs that participated in 7QT. 7QT has seen me through the second half of college, my Americorps year in Atlanta, newlyweddedness in Michigan, grad school, Mary’s birth, our 8 months in Louisville, and now Daniel’s birth and our new house. Come baby poop or high water, I always know that Fridays will bring new content from some of my favorite bloggers.

I haven’t participated too often myself (story of my blog, that sentence). The first time I wrote a 7QT post, I was pregnant with Mary and stressed about grad school. Mom-of-2 Laura wants to pat grad-school Laura on the head. You think you’re stressed? You get to start AND finish a task without having to wipe anyone’s bum. You sometimes sleep in so late you never even see the morning. You have grownup, educated conversations with OTHER grownups DAILY. Child, you do not know stressed. But stress is relative, as I repeat to myself like a mantra when my 3 year old is having an emotional reaction out of proportion to the situation at hand. I’m sure that someday future Laura will think Mom-of-2 Laura is silly too. It’s the way of things.

Regardless, I love 7QT, and I’m excited to participate today with 7 of my favorite Maryisms of late. She’s a comic genius, that one, except she isn’t trying to be funny ;-)


Mary upon seeing a large bee: “Oh, look! A bat!”


Me: “Jesus is in your heart.”

Mary: “Little Jesus is so full of love in my heart! Little baby Jesus is in my tummy right here! My little baby named Jesus popped out of my tummy! She’s a little girl named Jesus!”

That escalated quickly.


“Uh, hold on, I just need to rest my toe for a minute.”


“When I grow up into a woman, I’m going to drink coffee and a beer.” #lifegoals


Waking up in her first day of preschool: “Today I’m going to high school!”


“What animal gets pork out of its body? Maybe…. an ox!”


Mary speaks French: “Bone apple Pete!”

Me: “Mary, what does that mean?”

Mary: “Spanish!”

Now go visit Kelly to find the rest of the quick-take-rs. She’s got a sweet megagiveaway going on this month too. Dontcha love October?

#5faves go-to simple recipes

Linking up with Jenna and Dwija today to share five of our favorite crowd-pleasing recipes! Hop on over to check out lots more favorites and easy meals.


Favorite feed-guests-cheaply and take-food-to-others meal: Salsa chicken by Budget Bytes. SUPER easy to make (ingredients are combined in the pan, even, so very little cleanup) and stretches meat to feed more people. I’ve got a casserole dish cooking away in the oven right now for a family with a new baby.


Favorite please-the-minion meal: Brats cooked on the stovetop. Mary’s favorite meat is sausage, and when it’s been awhile since she last consumed non-dairy protein, I make these in a flash and serve with microwaved steamed veggies and microwaved sweet potatoes. She gobbles it right down and I’m grateful that they taste nearly as good as grilled brats. To cook, just brown brats in a big pot on medium-high heat, flipping regularly, until well browned. Add 1/2 c water, cover, simmer 12ish minutes on low heat until they reach an internal temp of 165. Done and done.


This Honey Sesame Chicken recipe is awesome for when I’m craving Chinese takeout. I love serving it over white rice with steamed sugar snap peas on the side.


This week I made chicken cooked in white wine and mushrooms based on a recipe from my hometown church cookbook (St. Pius, holla!). It was delicious over rice with steamed veggies on the side (are you sensing a theme here?) but would be tasty over noodles too. Cut up a chicken breast into bite sized pieces (I’ve discovered kitchen shears are awesome for this), put in a baggie with 1/3 c Italian bread crumbs, and shake to coat chicken pieces. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a pan, add breaded chicken and 4oz sliced fresh mushrooms, and stir together until lightly browned on all sides. Add 1/3 c white wine (or marsala? mm) and 1/2 c chicken broth. Simmer on low 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Yum.


Last one, real fast: This fruit cobbler is my new favorite summer dessert. Whips up in a jiffy, you still get the satisfaction of baking from scratch, tastes a little like dump cake from Scouting days of yore- what’s not to love? And if you use a small berry for your filling, you don’t even have to chop up fruit. Blueberry cobbler for life (at least until Matt comes around to liking peaches in desserts). Ok, this isn’t technically a meal, but if you serve it with a scoop of ice cream, that’s grains, fruit, and protein in one bowl, amiright? No judgement zone.

Ok, your turn. Favorite easy dinners? I’m always adding new recipes to my virtual Evernote cookbook and can’t wait to hear about your go-to meals!

#5faves: murder mysteries, salad and monthly shipments of drum heads

Every Wednesday my gorgeous and kind friend Jenna hosts Five Favorites at her blog. I glean recipes, craft ideas, and product finds from this linkup every week, so it’s about time I gave back! And whooo’s excited for the easy recipe linkup next week at Dwija’s? If I can get my act together I’ll join in, but I’m looking forward to adding lots of new recipes to our rotation regardless. You could totally share five favorite easy recipes, as Dwija brilliantly suggests, and cover both linkups with one stone. Kill all your bases?


I made this salmon, avocado, strawberry and spinach salad tonight and I loved it. Matt also proclaimed it tasty, Daniel wolfed down his mushed avocado and strawberry bits and Mary actually ate several mouthfuls of the meal (primarily strawberries). In our house, that’s a hit. It has so many of my favorite summery foods, how could it go wrong? I bet it would be even better with grilled salmon though. Guess we’ll have to make it again sometime…


Baby led weaning is when you give your baby bits of real-people food, right? Because that’s totally the approach we’re taking this time around (with the permission of Daniel’s pediatrician). With Mary I carefully prepared gourmet baby purees, freezing batches in darling little cubes and gently building acceptance of one food before moving on to another. Sorry second child- ain’t no one got time for that. Daniel, for his part, has rejected purees anyway and is mostly interested in what’s on his sister’s plate, so feeding him bits of our food is win-win. It’s so nice when the lazier easier approach is also what your baby wants and your pediatrician allows.


Amazon subscribe and save. You guys have heard of this wondrous invention, yes? You add items that you regularly purchase to your subscription list, you get them cheaper than you would find them at a store, and they arrive cheerfully at your front door on a regular schedule. We love it for diapers, wipes, and some special food items our family can’t get enough of (KIND bars and cheddar bunnies 4evah).  If you have 5 subscriptions in your monthly box, you get an extra discount, so the other night I was looking through the most popular subscribe and save items to see what we might need. I thought about doing a whole #5faves just of the items I found, but I have too many things I want to share with you, so here’s an abbreviated list… don’t you wish you could get a delivery of these items every month??


Murder mysteries. There’s something about murder mysteries in the summer. Such a guilty pleasure, I’m the first to admit. I most recently devoured Gone Girl (fascinating story, frustrating ending) and The Girl on the Train (not as gripping for me, but the end was SO worth it). Read anything good lately?


I read “On Being Hidey” by Beth Woolsey today and it immediately struck me as truth.

“When I get hidey, I usually want to stay hidey. It’s like an ever-increasing cycle of hidey-ness. I hide; therefore, I want to keep hiding.”

I’ve been feeling rather hidey myself lately- not depressed, necessarily (I don’t think, I’m keeping an eye on it and Matt is too) but just kind of withdrawn. Missing people (especially my people who moved recently) but not ready to be with people much. It’s not a great cycle to be in, and at least for me, getting out of it requires a conscious decision. And action. So one of the Things I’m Doing is going to the Blessed is She brunch in my area next month. There are a bunch of them happening all over the country, including one hosted by my sweet friend Tara in Wisconsin. Check out the list– maybe there’s one happening close to you? We could all use a wider and stronger community in our lives. I can’t wait to see how the fantastic online community of Blessed Is She translates into real life friendships. The Holy Spirit is a-movin here. And if I’ve canceled plans with you recently, or you just haven’t heard from me much- sorry, again. I’m feeling hidey. I’m working on it.

Enough from me. What’s your favorite this week?

when she was good, she was very good indeed…

…but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Maybe horrid is a little strong. Nonetheless, sometimes Matt and I look at each other at the end of the day and admit, “This kid is driving us crazy.” Mary can be willful, stubborn, impish, and infuriatingly irrational. Something that was fine yesterday might be a no-go today. We might discover her doing something ridiculously against the rules, like licking the carpet or standing on her headboard, just because the idea of the forbidden intrigues her. She scowls, she glares, she comes up with her own gestures of discontent (current favorite: index finger curled slightly, pirate style). We get into power struggles over ev.ery.thing. from trying a bite of dinner to putting on her clothes to standing still in church. She goes from zero to screaming in frustration; she has no fuse. She accepts consequences and time-outs without batting an eye, then goes right back to whining and screaming. Sometimes I have to work very, very hard to keep my temper in check with her, and sometimes I don’t succeed. Three years old is no joke.


Playing her "violin"

Playing her “violin”

Sometimes she is an angel of a child. She has a tremendously powerful imagination and she can exist in her own world, amusing herself with her made-up stories and songs. She was the flower girl in her Aunt Dill’s wedding a few weeks back. After a long day of being told where to stand and what to do, wearing a fancy dress, and smiling on command for photos, I thought she might lose it at the reception. But she happily sat at the head table and played with three little duck toys for the entire dinner and toasting process. Some of Dill’s relatives came up to me later and confessed that their table had spent the evening watching Mary, amazed that she was still quiet and calm with just those three small toys. flower girl

She often gets anxious when I ask her to do something that makes her uncomfortable (latest nemesis: public toilets). Last week a new swim instructor, a man she’d never seen before, told her to jump off the side of the pool into his arms. To put it in context: Mary flips her lid when I try to rinse off her hair in the bath because there’s a chance that some water might splash on her face. She had never jumped into a pool before, but she did it right away, missing his arms completely and plunging totally underwater. She came up sputtering and scared, but after calming down for a couple minutes, she jumped in to him again. I watched from across the pool, jaw hanging open.

At her heart, Mary is a people pleaser, and if she thinks that she can make a grown up happy, she’ll do whatever it takes, even jumping into a pool. But maybe she feels safe enough with me that she can protest when I ask her to do something uncomfortable? Maybe she knows I love her no matter what? The alternative is she’s screwing with me in her diabolical three-nager way, so let’s go with love.siblings

She can also be wonderful even without an adoring public. When the stars align and she’s gotten enough food, sleep, and attention from Mom and Dad, she can be so much fun, enthusiastically spinning from one activity to the next, amazed by the world. Those times just seem to be less frequent than when she was younger. It’s like walking around with a time bomb- which Mary will we get today? This hour? The calm one or the crazy one? I’ve backed out of plans more than once for fear of dealing with misbehavior in public, but then we all get squirrelly stuck inside the house and that doesn’t help either. No one ever said parenting would be easy, I suppose.

Let’s end on a humorous note. Maryisms lately:

  • “I can’t eat that, I’m French.”
  • While eating a carrot: “I’m a bat wearing a bunny costume!”
  • “I have ashes on my eyes!!!” (she meant eyelashes)
  • “I’m going to sing a camping out birthday song for Jesus!”

I don’t even know, you guys. I don’t even know.

when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you

As usual, I have neglected writing because the time never feels right. I don’t have the words to say what I want to say, to record these moments accurately, so why bother? But some record is better than none at all. With so much left unsaid, I don’t know how to write except to start.

Here I am, typing again, trying to capture some shadow of my children’s beauty. I want to bottle them up and keep them this way forever, even as I daily urge them forward to new and grander heights. Their achievements are spectacular, but what really takes my breath away is their joy.

cow babes

If I could, I would preserve for eternity the deep bloom of gratitude I feel when Daniel smiles his wide-mouthed baby smile. His hands bat at my face and clutch fistfuls of anything they can find- folds of shirt, strands of hair, the skin of my neck and arms. He bleats a greeting and tries to climb me, toes digging in for a foothold. He’s intense and determined and stubborn and strong, so like his daddy. He drags his body across the room as if his life depended upon it, pushing with his forearms and toes. When the nurse gave him his rotavirus oral vaccine today, he grabbed her fingers with two strong hands and propelled the tube of liquid into his mouth furiously, startling her and making me giggle. That’s how every experience of feeding him solid foods has gone- more, more, more, faster, faster, until we give up because he’s too impatient to swallow. Some of my favorite moments of the day are when he’s nursing before sleep and he finally stops arching his back and bracing his feet against the arm of the chair. The tension goes out of his body and he relaxes into me. For a moment, it’s like I can stop time and keep him a little baby- as long as he still rests on me, I can pretend he’s brand new.

standing Daniel

Obviously, I’m over the moon smitten with him. I can’t imagine a more adorable, darling baby. I’m so in love that I find myself grieving for time I lost when Mary was this age. The first year of her life was joyous at times but also a jumble of anxiety, loneliness, and guilt over going to class and leaving her in daycare. I longed for breaks from her even though it felt like I was never with her. The pumping, the endless pumping! I don’t miss that one bit. I was playing with Daniel on the floor recently and it occurred to me I was never comfortable playing with Mary at this age. I was too worried about the “right” way to play or how to best foster her brain development. I knew I needed to relax, but I didn’t know how. Mary taught me how to mother a new baby so that with Daniel, I could savor the experience. My sweet little guinea pig.

My heart breaks at how these moments fly away, never to return. Surely Mary patted my cheek in just this way? But I can’t feel her hand in my memory. What sounds was Mary making at six months? I’m not sure. Why do the details fade away so quickly? Maybe in Heaven I will meet Mary as a baby again and take back these lost memories. Daniel too. Already his newbornhood is slipping from my mind. It’s hard for me to picture him as a helpless infant, unable to roll over or lift his head, much less propel himself around the room.



I wrote the preceding paragraphs yesterday. Reading back over them makes me wince a little- wow, the hormones were strong yesterday, huh? But I’m hitting publish anyway because it’s authentic to my postpartum mood most of the time: smitten, proud, amazed, a bit guilt-ridden, and frantic that I can’t hold on to this time and keep it forever. This post is becoming a novella so I’ll stop now and write about Mary next.

SQT: The winter that won’t end, toddler masterpieces, sleep training and a feast

— 1 —

Back in the day when I used to blog semi-regularly (i.e., before children, typically when I was avoiding writing a paper) I loved participating in Seven Quick Takes. Unrelated ramblings from all my favorite bloggers every Friday? Please and thank you. I love having a home for my hodgepodge of mom-brain thoughts.

— 2 —

We’ve had a banner week in these parts. After Daniel’s hospital visit last week, Mary took her turn with the mystery fever, except she accessorized with a cough and sore throat. The end of winter is just ridiculous, you guys. Go home, winter, you’re drunk. It seems like everyone I know is sick or has a sick child. Plus it’s SNOWING right now. The injustice of it all.

— 3 —

It was bound to happen eventually. I discovered this masterpiece during naptime yesterday. I guess this is what happens when Mom is busy changing baby brother’s diapers upstairs.


Anyone have any tips for getting magic marker off a matte painted wall?


The real scary part. We’ve had twenty discussions about not touching outlets if we’ve had one, and up to this point Mary’s never shown a smidgen of interest in them. We’ll be replacing THOSE with tamper-proof outlets, stat. The mom guilt on this one… it’s intense. What if she’d gotten hurt?

— 4 —

As long as we’re talking mom guilt, let’s talk sleep training. At Daniel’s 2 month check up, I mentioned how he’ll only sleep in the car seat, and the pediatrician (who isn’t our usual doctor) told me to put him in his room, in his crib, and let him cry until he falls asleep. By night three, the doctor promised me, he’ll sleep without a struggle. “He’s twelve pounds now, he can sleep twelve hours at once.” I immediately rebelled against the idea and might have been a little harsh with the doctor. Sleep training at 2 months? Are you out of your mind? This is my BABY we’re talking about. Apparently he’s not the only doctor recommending early sleep training, though. After a couple weeks of rough nights, I’m not entirely against the idea anymore. I honestly don’t know. Could it work? Could I handle the hours of crying for two-three nights? Could Mary, with her bedroom across the hall? Would we all be happier in the end? No idea.

— 5 —


Retreating to safer waters, now… Obviously I’m no food blogger, but let it be known that in a fit of Sunday tunnel-vision productivity I finally produced a St. Patrick’s feast for my family. (Matt had a GI bug on the actual day of St. Pat’s so we skipped the hearty meal that night.) I made Catholic Cuisine’s Irish Beef and Guinness Stew (above) and this Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake (not pictured because I was too busy shoveling it into my mouth). Sometimes it feels good to go all out, you know? Even if your feverish toddler takes a look at the stew and decides to go to bed without dinner instead.

— 6 —

Dear Mellow Mushroom: Open a location in Michigan as soon as possible, please. Matt has been jonesing for some Shroom in a big way. Every weekend he mentions casually, “We could drive to Cleveland and get some Shroom…” You guys, Cleveland is three hours away. I enjoy a good pizza as much as the next person, but not enough to drive six hours with a toddler and an infant. Nope. Not gonna happen. So clearly the only answer to my struggle is for some enterprising soul to open a location here. Our family will keep you in business all on our own, I promise.

Throwback to last year in Louisville, when we had multiple Mellow Mushrooms to choose from.

Throwback to last year in Louisville, when we had multiple Mellow Mushrooms to choose from.

— 7 —

Have a good weekend, y’all. I’m kicking things off a little early with an epic afternoon coffee pour:

IMG_20150327_165620167May your coffee be hot, your children nap well, and your skies produce sunshine instead of snow flurries. Amen.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

A letter to my son on the occasion of his first visit to the ER

Dear Daniel,
Yesterday afternoon we took you to the children’s ER because you were running a fever of 100.4. That may not sound very high, but you’re so little that the pediatrician’s procedure is to send you straight to the ER, do not pass GO. The words the nurse used on the phone were, “Young babies can turn septic so quickly…” Just what your mama’s ears needed to hear.

Now that the experience is behind us and we are back home safe and sound, your temperature back to normal as you snooze comfortably in my arms, I can see the blessings in the midst of the frightening.


On the way to the hospital, while I was internally lamenting not building our house on the hospital’s roof for quick and easy access, your sister and I prayed a decade of the Rosary. Then a Memorare. Then a Hail Holy Queen. Then a litany of every saint I could think of (including your sister’s requests for the mommy saints, the daddy saints, the big sister saints, and the baby saints). Outside of Mass, I’m not sure I’ve ever said so many prayers with your sister. I have no idea why not. The peace in the car was almost palpable.

Your daddy left work right away to come join us at the hospital. He called Uncle Joe to let him know what was happening, and without being asked Joe immediately said he would meet us there. At the hospital, as we waited for the doctor, I posted on social media about what was going on. Right away the offers to help flooded in from our friends. Uncle Joe eventually took your sister home and cared for her through the evening. We are so blessed to have such a loving community here.

After you had some Tylenol in you and you got some rest, you smiled and gurgled at the nurses and doctors, melting their hearts instantly. YOU were a blessing to them, even as they blessed us with their skilled and careful work. Who knows what they had witnessed that day in the course of their shifts? The scariest part for me wasn’t when your temperature hit 101.5 or when they put an IV in your tiny hand. No, the scary part was watching terribly sick children parade by our door on hospital beds. Those nurses and doctors see so much suffering. You lightened their load.

Finally, last night reminded me once again that you are not mine. You have just been entrusted to me for a time. I am not in control. God loves you more than I ever could, sweetheart, and yet it’s so hard for me to trust Him with you. Baby steps. Let it be done to us according to His will.

I love you. I’m so glad you are safe,

A whole lot of real, which will hopefully be funny and make you happy?

I WAS hoping to link up with Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real this week, the always-entertaining linkup from Like Mother, Like Daughter in which bloggers share one photo or thought in each category. For example, a blogger who has is it all together might post a pretty photo of her carefully curated and liturgically appropriate prayer corner, a happy photo of her clean and laughing children, a funny anecdote from a child’s creative imaginative play, and a real photo of a baby covered in smushed bananas, because babies will be babies.

Well. Friends, we just moved into a new house right after the baby was born and my husband is working 70 hour weeks. Ain’t nobody got time for making things around here pretty. We aim for functional and mostly sanitary. I’m just proud when I manage to get the laundry and dishes into the correct magic cleaning machines (what did moms do before machines?!) and a mostly-homemade dinner on the table by the crack of 8pm.

Social interaction is pretty rare since my toddler won’t wake up until 11am (due to a combination of the baby waking her up at night, daylight savings and her just plain taking for-ev-er to fall asleep at night). All toddler activities and playgroups take place at 9 or 10 am. It’s an unwritten law. Not that I want to take her out anyway since her behavior has been so bad the last week. To be fair, she’s a really good kid and I know the screaming and crying could be much worse- it’s just that I also know she can do so much better! Gah! We ventured out to the mall last week for a couple unavoidable errands and her SCREAMING- oh my word- I am still cringing. We might never go to the mall again.

On the plus side, we managed to hold our first gathering at the new house. It happened quite by accident- Matt wanted to grill out for lunch in our lovely springish weather, so he invited his brother over, except his brother had friends over at his house already, so the whole gang came over to our place for the afternoon. There was some frantic tossing of dirty dishes into the sink and some speedy removal of empty cardboard boxes from the family room, but oh well. If I wait for my house to be clean to invite people over, I’ll never invite people over, and I want our home to be a gathering place.

Mary loved having so many grownups at her house since she thinks every grownup is a new playmate. She roped everyone into playing with her.
imageNow Matt has a stomach bug/ food poisoning/ plague and it must be horribly awful because he actually stayed home from work today and hasn’t tried to get out of bed. I’m just hoping and praying that none of the rest of us get it, because of the four of us, he is easily the least whiny. Sorry, hon. Thanks for taking one for the team.

I’m off to deal with the very real toddler screaming in her crib because she doesn’t want to nap and I should probably check on my long-suffering patient upstairs. Happy Monday!


The brilliant Glennon Melton writes often about remembering to wear her perspectacles. In other words, reframe the situation and look for the positive angle. Knowing today was going to be tough, I made a concerted effort to follow her advice. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Baby sleep is the worst. Daniel is a good sleeper by the standards of his age, but holy cow I miss uninterrupted sleep. Reframe: We have a new BABY, you guys!Daniel
  2. Both kids woke up with poop-related difficulties. Scrubbing poop off of bums before I’ve had my coffee ranks pretty high on my list of ways to get a day off on the wrong foot. Reframe: my children have healthy little bodies that make healthy amounts of poop.
  3. Thanks to the time change, Mary is sleeping in even later than usual these days. I had to choose between waking her for playgroup or letting her sleep. I let her sleep, but I’m bummed because I missed a chance to see my friends, including Jenna and her new little squishy baby. Reframe: My kid got the rest she needs because we don’t have to keep to a rigorous school or work schedule yet. That’s pretty awesome. Also, I can connect with friends online if I’m more intentional about commenting and interacting instead of just consuming social media. I’ve been trying to use my phone less this Lent, but going along with what Kendra wrote about adjusting Lenten disciplines as necessary, I’m allowing myself to connect when I need to for my own sanity.
  4. Mary is exceptionally grumpy today because her grandparents’ visit ended yesterday. It’s tough to adjust to less attention and fewer playmates. Reframe: we’re so blessed that Matt’s parents can visit so often. It’s hard when they leave, but my parents hardly ever get to visit and that’s hard in a whole different kind of way.
  5. I had to reheat my coffee three times today before I finally got a chance to drink it, while bouncing a baby and listening to Curious George. Reframe: Thank God for coffee.
  6. When asked why she was screaming, Mary replied, “Because everything hurts in my life!” She’s in SUCH a dramatic stage right now. Reframe: Dramatic toddlers are actually hilarious once the heat of the moment has passed.dramatic
  7. I can’t write a sentence in this blog post without mentally scratching it out and criticizing it as trite or lame or uninteresting. Reframe: practice makes perfect, and maybe it’s time to start practicing my writing skills again. :-)

Five Fallish Favorites

Five Favorites is now being hosted by my sweet friend Jenna at Call Her Happy, and even though I never blog anymore and there are maybe a trillion more important things I could share that have happened since my last update (low estimate), I just couldn’t resist joining in!



october 15 five favorites

1) Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Lip Balm: Fall for me means chapped lips. It’s a problem. This is hands-down my favorite lip balm as the weather turns cooler. I love how it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave my lips feeling all balm-y for long. I’ve also used it on a ridiculous patch of dry skin on my chin (oh pregnancy and your odd side effects!) and it’s been very effective. You might get weird side-eyes from people for putting lip balm on your chin while idling at a stoplight. Full disclosure.

2) Homemade fall-themed play dough recipe from Wildflower Ramblings: This is first homemade play dough recipe I’ve ever tried, but I see no reason to ever try another. It’s the best! Soft and long-lasting and cleans up well. Might use all the salt in your house, so watch out for that one ;-). I’ve been watching some kiddos on Monday afternoons so their moms can teach catechism classes at our church and we have to hang out in the school library. Grade school books = not appropriate toddler toys. I’ve brought this play dough along the last couple weeks, along with a few cafeteria-style trays to contain the mess, and the kids have been happy little campers.

3) Trader Joe’s mixes OMG (image source): I’ve been doing lots of playgroup type things this fall because Mary is an extremely social creature and we are being intentional about forming friendships in our home-for-the-rest-of-our-lives state. I try to bring along a little snack for the kids and moms when I can, but I’m lazy. Solution: trader joe’s mixes. SO tasty, SO easy. Our favorites lately are the multiberry scone mix, the cinnamon coffee cake mix, and the pumpkin bread mix. Yum. Bonus: It looks like I actually tried ;-)

4) Can we all just take a moment and acknowledge how awesome public libraries are (image source)?? I have been on an absolute reading RAMPAGE lately because all my holds at the library came up at once and because soon a little bundle of joy and tyranny will keep me from doing much reading. As I was returning a book yesterday, I sighed a deep happy sigh and thanked my lucky stars that I have access to so many books for FREE. Well, we pay taxes, but you know. At least they’re using the money for awesome things like libraries. The library is one of Mary’s favorite places too and we happily escape there for hours at a time. P.S. Beth over at Five Kids Is a Lot of Kids is reflecting about books this month at her blog and inviting you to participate in the A Girl With A Book campaign. Click on over! Everyone should have the kind of access to books that we so often take for granted.

5 and a bonus) Uncharacteristically for him, at the beginning of fall Matt mentioned that it might be nice to have some fall decor around the apartment. He had to explain to me what “decor” meant, but after he filled me in on the particulars, I was totally on board! We now have harvest-themed place mats, dish cloths, and window decals. Even more adorably, we have these two sweet etsy finds on display: Thanksgiving Leaves Garland by HeyLittleSister and Knitted Pumpkins by Hawthorne Hill. They are both really well made and I hope they adorn our house for many fall seasons to come. The garland hangs above our dining table and proclaims look! We decorated for fall! The pumpkins are new favorite toys of Mary’s and they hold up to her abuse well. When they’re not being pulled around in a toy shopping cart or thrown in a game of catch, they live on the entertainment center. Yay fall!

That’s all from me for now. I’m going to go rescue Mary from her cage crib where she is grumpily not-napping. Happy favoriting, favoriteers!


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