Monday, December 31, 2012

Sadie's Take on Santa...

Sadie's 1st visit with Santa
Last year I wrote about how we "do" (or perhaps to be more accurate don't do) Santa Claus (standard Santa disclaimer: this isn't meant as a judgement on how other people "do" the whole Santa thing, just an update on how our decision to handle the matter is going for us!).  And this year, with Sadie's interest in all things saint related, it was easy to continue the conversation when she asked questions.  I've found that saying "let's pretend" to a four year old doesn't make things less magical than acting as if what we're pretending is an actual fact.  I've also realized that in Sadie's mind the truth when discussing these people who practiced heroic virtue often seems to be even more enchanting than anything we could dream up for her to play at.

Sadie knows who Saint Nicholas is, and she knows that that's who Santa Claus is based on.  She knows that the jolly man in the red suit at the store is "just pretending" but as many of us may remember from our own childhoods, pretending can be pretty awesome.

The second year it didn't go quite so well...
Since she talked about Santa and his reindeer so much while she was playing I figured that I didn't have to worry too much about her spilling the beans to other kids.  After all, she giggles and pretends he's real at home, with a silly little look on her face.  Why would it be any different when we're out and about?

Yet a conversation she had yesterday gave me pause.  One of Paul's friends asked if Santa came to our house.  And instead of launching into her regular "pretend" version she said:

"No.  Saint Nicholas was a real person who really lived and he died and went to be in heaven with Jesus, forever and ever."

I think my mouth might have dropped open a little because I was so surprised after weeks of hearing about reindeer and present delivery (we've read a lot of The Night Before Christmas in our house).

I guess the upside is it's unlikely that another kid her age would understand that she'd basically just said "Santa isn't real" by her wordy little answer.

And I'm just happy that after reading and talking about saints and having our hearts set on heaven for four years, she thinks that being a saint is the most wonderful thing of all (at least most of the time!  After all, she is four!)!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Car Seat Rearrangements and Sadie's Suspicion...

The Christmas season has arrived and all this talk of a baby in a manger has inspired my girls towards baby-craziness once more.

We rearranged the car earlier in the week, before our road trip east to Massachusetts, which inspired another round of conversation about Sadie's longed for brothers and sisters.  We removed one of the captain seats in the middle and moved Mae back onto the bench seat in the back on the opposite side from Sadie.  Patrick is in the other middle seat, with a large space next to him, which makes loading and unloading the girls easier, and gave me a place to sit when we park after going through a drive through on the road so that I can make sure that Mae isn't throwing a hamburger patty across the car, or stuffing chicken nuggets into any of the spaces in bottom part of her car seat.

Sadie, however, suspected another reason for the rearrangement and let us know on the way to Church last Sunday.  You see, with the new arrangement it became clear that there's actually room for five car seats in our car, since the space between Sadie and Mae is quite spacious.

Sadie looked up hopefully and said:

"Are we making room for James because he's going to be coming home soon?"

James is Paul's second favorite boy name, which has come up since Sadie has been asking if Mary Therese is in Mommy's tummy yet pretty much since Patrick came home from the hospital, restarting the play-debate that she has with her father about the gender of any future children.  It goes something like this:  she'll look at him and say "Mary" and he now replies "James" (he used to say "Patrick!") and they go round and round and round over it.  Sadie, however, is now quite taken with the idea of a brother named James, since that's the name of the little prince in the new Disney series, which I'm guessing is why she said James in her question.

I explained that chances are if we're blessed with another baby it will likely be when Patrick is Mae Bae's age, which caused looks of disappointment all around, because apparently Patrick isn't as tiny and enchanting as he was a few weeks ago, and the girls seem to enjoy monitoring the progress of my baby bump when there is a baby on board.

Of course non of these explanations have stopped Mae Bae from patting my tummy or running up and kissing it with a big goofy smile on her face.  When I explained again that Patrick was out and that there isn't a new baby in my tummy she gave me a look like I really didn't know what I was talking about (I think she actually might have pulled of condescending) and patted my stomach a second time to ensure that I knew that she doesn't actually believe what I'm saying.

So Mae Bae has jumped on the baby band wagon... and apparently already sees her baby brother as a middle child...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes Saturday Night

--- 1 ---

We made it!  After approximately 16 hours of driving we arrived in Paul's hometown in Massachusetts, for the first time in three and a half years.

Is it weird that I really enjoy long road trips, even with three little ones in the car?

The fact that we've crossed the country so many times and spent so many days in the car means that they're used to long stretches of time in their car seats and hysterical giggling was the sound that came from the back seat more often than whining.

We would have made it yesterday (at about 1 am), except that our windshield wipers gave out halfway between Buffalo and Syracuse and with the mud and salt and ice and glare from headlights our only option was to take the next exit and hope that the storm was over in the morning (it was snowing when we stopped, although the snow wasn't the visibility problem).   This morning it was nice and we made a mad dash towards Boston and beat out the storm that we've heard is barreling down on us.

We're very thankful to be here, safe and sound.

--- 2 ---

15 hours into the drive Mae started very dramatically letting us know she was ready to be at Grandma's house (and we were so close that we didn't want to stop!).  I couldn't do much from my position in the front passenger's seat while we were on the turnpike, so I tossed a pack of fruit snacks back to her.  It landed in the crook of her right elbow.  She then "attempted" to pick up the fruit snacks with her right hand.

Now have you ever tried to touch your right elbow with your right hand?  It just can't be done.  Very over the top fussing ensued.  I turned around and refused to watch the antics (after saying "Mae Bae, use your other hand!  I can't come back there!  We're driving!") and when I looked back again the fruit snacks had magically disappeared.

--- 3 ---

The first one and a half quick takes were written yesterday... but as I fell asleep a couple times while typing them up (at 9 pm), so they've now become 7 Quick Takes Saturday night (this time at right around 10pm).  The question is, can I keep my eyes open tonight for long enough to finish them?

--- 4 ---

Paul just said:  "Oh look, Patrick's sleeping with his eyes open!  He must get that from you.  You sleep with your eyes open sometimes."

What?  Really?

How'd that not get mentioned sometime in the past six plus years of marriage?

--- 5 ---

In the past three days I've had incredibly bad sewing luck that involved several sewing needles and my thumbs.  And I can now safely say that if you're ever having an unlucky day involving sewing needles do not offer to peel an orange for a young child in your care.  It is a terrible, horrible idea.

--- 6 ---

Mae Bae was having a tough day today.  Her tough day meant I ended up carrying her and her brother around several times... which is pretty much just barely something that I can do.  Paul snapped a picture while I was toting both of them around:

--- 7 ---

And then of course there's this picture... where I'm trying to stand in a natural-ish position while holding around 50 lbs of baby, only to realize upon seeing the resulting photo that that just isn't possible for me:

Now to quickly post this and get some sleep... my eyes are already starting to close again...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Dash away, dash away, dash away all...
Today is going to be a little bit crazy.

I have 10 snoods to sew and quite a few more to package and ship.  And Sadie and I are going ice skating, which will make it my first time ice skating in... oh... I don't know... 18 years.

I'm wading through the pile of laundry that I ignored during finals week (and the weeks before finals week), when I was washing clothes, and piling them on the table waiting for a spare minute to fold and put away, only half realizing that that spare moment wasn't going to come until after finals were over and I was busily working on Christmas presents, which take priority over laundry.

The high today is 30, which makes it quite different from last Christmas where the high was something like 81.  The security system, which gives little weather reports on its screen around the clock, says "Snow" instead of "Chance of snow showers" as if the storm is already here, so I guess we're supposed to be getting more snow today.  I don't think I could have appreciated the snow and the cold as much as I do if we hadn't had our nearly-tropical year in Naples.  Any time I start to feel cold I just think that it could be 90 degrees and humid and being cold suddenly seems wonderful.  I'm not sure how long that will last (will I still appreciate the cold in February?), but for the moment I'm appreciating the winter weather!

Now to get to work!  We're have a long drive ahead of us and we're going to need to be on the road bright and early!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you're having a wonderful day!  I just had to post my pictures, so that all our relatives who live in various parts of the country could see the little ones enjoying their Christmas morning!  Here they are:

The girls raced down stairs this morning to see the decorations and presents that had appeared overnight...

Sadie went straight to the Princess Sofia doll Nani and Grumpa gave her and then to the dress.  And her beautiful happy smile turned into a "fake" camera smile every time I took a picture...

I was really excited to see how well it fit, considering I made up the pattern and hadn't tried it on her once!

A Christmas morning snuggle with Daddy.  After a late night and an early morning, they're both a little sleepy.

Mae discovers candy in her stocking... 
Sadie and her doll compare dresses.  Thankfully I found some little white flowers, so her dress passed muster.

Patrick squeezed into his Christmas outfit and then snuggled under his new robot blanket.

I love this quilt that Patrick received!  It's so cute!!!

Mae tries on a snuggly hat!

Then she discovers the two boxes of blocks that Grumpa made for them... and tries to run off with them...

Mae plays with her Dora dolls in her Dora dress after we get home from Mass.

The girls move their dolls into the doll house (look, there's even hot pink carpet!  The non-pink dolls had to hang out in the attic with the blue floor.).

Sadie plays with the doll house.

Mae plays on the doll house... and amazingly (since I built it and the primary "holding parts together" component is white glue...) it holds her weight.

I took about a dozen pictures of Mae this morning blinking (the little red light lets her now when to close her eyes).  Here's the best "almost blinking" shot.

Sadie models Mae Bae's headband from Auntie Jen (and this is Sadie's pose when I ask her to "look up" and show me the headband).  Auntie Jen knows little girls and got them matching princess slippers and beautiful sparkly headbands!  Sadie is on cloud nine!

I was so excited when I saw the box from the store that makes these little pendants.  Nani and Grumpa have given me one with each of our babies names and birth dates on them and this morning I received Patrick's name and birth stone.  I love wearing this around my neck.

Four special days.

Christmas Eve!

Tonight started out dramatically when, after finishing the doll house I realized that the box marked "Christmas" actually contained non-maternity clothes and not ornaments and stockings.  I took a deep breath and checked the labels on my carefully labeled boxes and found... no ornaments.  Apparently one of the boxes, which just happens to be the box containing ornaments and stockings, is mislabeled.  

After more searching I went upstairs to search for the back up stocking I'd bought a while back, because they were cute and 50% off, and maybe someday we'd need them... and they were not in the place I'd been tripping over them for the past four months.  

Cue nervous breakdown.

Just kidding.  

I did manage to find two of the good stockings, which thankfully had somehow been packed with my sewing supplies and thus are not safely tucked in a box in the basement.  And I had five ornaments that we'd bought earlier in the year to add to the ornament collection this year.  And before bedtime, after the tree was up we found another small-ish box of ornaments, although definitely not the main Christmas box, which should be sitting near to a box with a six foot tree (which leads me to ask:  How on earth did we lose a six foot tree down there?!?!).

The babies have been thoroughly spoiled this year by our friends and family!  I made the girls each a dress, a chaplet and a blanket and I made Patrick bunting, a hat and a blanket (oh and the doll house which was a very girly "family present").  All the presents around the dollhouse came in the mail this past week!  I was amazed as we unpacked them all tonight!  I'm so thankful!  And the girls are going to be thrilled when they see.  

Here are a few pictures I snapped tonight!  Have a Merry Christmas!

Tonight we replaced the purple and pink advent candles with white... which was good, because these had just about had it. We did manage to light them every night during advent!

The tree. We went with the little one this year since Mae is a climber. And a seek and destroyer. And we didn't think a big tree (or our ornaments) could handle that.

The angel I made by needle felting while driving through west Texas this summer. I finished it as we were pulling into El Paso.

The presents. 
I made three presents for each little bunny this year. So they definitely have been spoiled by friends and family this year! They're going to be so excited when they see these!

I sewed the white flowers Sadie was hoping for on her dress.

The living room.

I finished the doll house tonight, complete with hot pink carpeting and layers and layers of pink sparkle glitter paint.  It took a grand total of four days.  The painting was tedious but the building part was fun!

I made a peg doll for each of our babies including a little saint doll for Christian.

The new candles! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sadie's Take on Justice and The Christmas Story

Last night after taking his first bath that was not filled with screaming, Patrick tried on a six month cotton sleeper (that hadn't yet been washed, which means it's going to get even smaller!) and it fit.  This makes me a little nervous about him fitting into the 3 month Christmas sleeper that the girls and I picked out for him when we were in Montana back in September, which I had planned on him wearing tonight and tomorrow morning.  I think he'll fit in fine weight wise... but his incredibly long legs just keep growing and Paul frowns on making him bend them to button the buttons on a sleeper, regardless of how cute said sleeper is.   

Baby legs are bendy, I tell him.  They were like that for months in my tummy.

But he mutters something (okay, he doesn't mutter... he says it flat out while looking at me like I'm crazy for caring so much about a sleeper) about "stunting his growth" as if I'm suggesting foot binding instead of squeezing into a just-too-small sleeper.

Here's the latest picture of Patrick in his six month sleeper... at one and a half months old, insisting on taking after Daddy:  

In totally unrelated news, Sadie has the same problem with the Christmas story that she had with the Easter story.

When Sadie heard the Easter story she immediately asked what happened to the people who crucified Jesus with a tone that suggested that she thought fire and brimstone raining down from the sky was the only appropriate response.  "No, he rose from the dead to offer forgiveness and salvation" just doesn't have the fairy tale justice that she was hoping for.

So when she hears the Christmas story what detail does she latch onto and begin peppering me with questions about?  Herod.  And the fact that he wanted to kill baby Jesus and that they had to flee to Egypt.

"I wish God would kill Herod."  She says shaking her head because this isn't the dramatic, dragon being slain with a sword type of ending she's longing for.
"When people are bad we don't want them to be killed."  I say, trying to think of a way to explain this.  "We hope that they realize what they've done is wrong and love God and repent, so that they can go to heaven too."
"Mommy, why would you want bad people to be saints and go to heaven?"  She says this as she fiddles with her little toy castle on a shelf, shaking her head as if I've completely lost it.
"Because it makes God sad when people are bad.  He wants us all to be good and love him so that we can live with him forever in heaven."

I don't go into praying that they repent for their own sake, because at the moment I think that might go over like a sack of bricks.  We'll build up to that.  She's already expressed disappointment that "Jesus doesn't have a sword and armor like Saint Michael" and explaining that he doesn't need a sword and armor isn't a popular idea with the four year old fairy tale loving crowd in this house.

Then again, she also warned me this morning that bunnies are "very dangerous" and "wild."

I can't wait to see what she comes up with before the day is done.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On Fear and Guilt, Joy and Love

When I was in college my friends and I used to joke about a not uncommon emotion that we encountered frequently on our college campus:  Catholic Guilt.

Oddly enough, it was an emotion that seemed to strike more of the boys that I knew than girls, and usually took the form of talking about feeling bad about doing something, but continuing to do it anyways.  For girls guilt seemed less common (or less talked about) maybe because we'd become so "empowered" with talk of "we can do anything they can do" that our consciences were burnt to a crisp.

We said the words laughingly, rolling our eyes, and I honestly thought that constant guilt and shame and fear were clearly just part of being Catholic.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

In our culture guilt and shame aren't exactly seen as positives.  It's more like: you're okay, I'm okay, we're all okay and none of us should make any efforts at being anything other than who we.  We wouldn't want to damage our self esteem or infringe upon any of our natural awesomeness.

But that misses the point of these particular emotions.  Feelings of guilt are, at a basic level, the warning system of the soul.  They tell us that something is wrong, that we need to stop or repent, that we need to turn back to God confident in his love and sacrifice.  Sure in our tangled, confused world, our consciences can be twisted and warped until the response is muted and dull, overactive, or simply out of whack. That is exactly why we need the leadership of the Church and solid spiritual guidance to help us stay on track.  Our consciences and the resulting feelings of guilt when we do something wrong, have a purpose.

Something that might have surprised my college self, however, is that guilt and shame haven't been overarching themes in my life since my conversion.  Do I feel the sting of guilt when I do something wrong?  Absolutely.  But that guilt is almost immediately overridden by the knowledge that there's a sacrament that will instantly alleviate any worries or concerns about the offending action.  And any remnants of that guilt are erased altogether once the sacrament has been received and I exit the confessional with the squeaky clean feeling of having been made new once more.

In yesterday's post I quoted Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians when he said:  "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation."

Does this mean that we live in constant fear?  No.  Fear, like guilt, hasn't been an overarching emotion during my journey as a Catholic, because, while I may not know the future, I have hope given by him that created me.  Fear is not my main motivator.  Love is.  As we say in our act of contrition:  "I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my god, who are all good and deserving of all my love."  We may start with fear, but ultimately, it's our love of God that motivates us.  Fear can only take us so far in inspiring good behavior.  Love carries us much farther.

Some people don't believe in Hell.  I would love not to believe in Hell... however, I don't think that the gospels have really left us with that option.  You see, God doesn't force his presence upon us.  Our lives are full of choices.  We've been given free will.  And every day we choose again and again to turn towards or away from God.  If we knowingly consent to committing a serious sin we are, in effect, severing ourselves from him.

If we end up in Hell it's not because God was "mean."  It's because we chose and God respects our choices and lets us make them.  However there are consequences for those choices.

God offers us ample graces if we're willing to rely on them.  He carries us along if we but ask him to, and picks us up and dusts us off over and over again if we simply repent.  But we must repent with our whole selves, with our hearts and minds, our words and actions.  If we simply needed to say certain words and could then go on, doing whatever we wanted, then he wouldn't have described the road as narrow or hard.

The existence of God's grace doesn't mean that we can stop trying.  It simply makes what would be impossible on our own, possible.

And so the words "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner" aren't a sign of unhappiness or pain.  They are words spoken in joy as we choose love over the alternative and set our sights on heaven and an eternity with the God who made us, the God for whom our souls long.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Falling Short of Sainthood...

Earlier this week someone expressed concern over some words that I had written and that conversation inspired this post.  The words I wrote were these: "I know that I fall far short of sainthood..."

I think that the fracture in understanding came because these words were believed to be spoken in a proud, bragging manner, which wasn't how I intended them at all.  I was told that I needed to take a good hard look at my life if I could say such a thing.

Yet those words are the result of taking a good hard look at my life, on a regular basis.  By taking a critical look at my life I can see the cracks and crevices and rough spots in my own character that make daily or weekly appearances, and in retrospect, generally cause me to wince.

When I first converted, giving up sins seemed far easier than it does now.  The sins that had infested my life were of the big, ugly mortal variety.  I could see them coming from a mile away.  With the help of the sacraments and daily prayer I found that things that had seemed perfectly acceptable pre-conversion were suddenly disgusting.  I was repelled and wanted no part in what had seemed: "fun" a short while before.

That, strangely enough, was the easy part.

However getting rid of those major lifestyle sins, uncovered all the "little" sins that I hadn't thought about before.  The ones that aren't quite as easy to give up.

I'd say these days my major temptations would fall under anger, sloth and gluttony when I compare my life to the seven deadly sins and look for pitfalls (talk about putting myself out there!).

They're usually things that seem small : losing my temper and saying something that I absolutely shouldn't have.  Seeing something that needs to be done, that's a part of my vocation, and putting it off indefinitely, because it just feels so much better not to get up off the couch right now.  And the junk food that still temps me even after cooking three dozen eggs last week in an attempt to battle the hunger pangs.

These are sins a confessor would usually say are venial and yet, as I've battled the same ones for years now, I've come to realize that they're still dangerous.  They're easier to justify and thus let slip by.  And the fact that I'm still struggling with them can make me feel like I slogging on slowly, making little progress, asking for forgiveness and then falling face down in the mud again.

So no, I don't say that I feel that I'm far from sainthood in a way that's filled with pride as if that's some sort of achievement.  I do believe that the greatest tragedy in this life is to not be a saint.  I do believe that I'm called to raise saints and grow with my husband in our married vocation towards sainthood.  But even on good days when I feel at peace I can't help but remember Saint Paul's words to the Philippians (2:12):
"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation."
and then Jesus own words in Saint Luke's Gospel, which also kept coming to mind as I thought about the conversation:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I  am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican.  I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.  I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted."  
No, I don't admit that I fall short of sainthood as if that is somehow a good thing... but I do believe it is good to know when we fall short.  It's only by realizing our shortcomings that we can pray and throw ourselves on God's mercy, and pray that he help us overcome them.

After all, if God could show Saint Teresa of Avila a room in Hell that the devil had prepared for her, I'm entirely certain I have a long ways to go and will require some serious purification before I've been made fit to stand before our  heavenly father.

And that is why, every night, our family ends the rosary with the same prayer, repeated, over and over again:  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner..."

I'm thankful for my readers' concern, but I think it would damage me far more to be wrongly confident in my virtues, as if I have already attained sainthood here on earth.  It is through evaluating our lives that we find we fall short and need God's grace, so that when we fall, we might pick ourselves back up, receive the forgiveness that he offers us through the sacrament of penance, and continue on again, firmly resolving to do better the next time.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner...

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Sadie Edition

Yesterday, while the snow was falling down, Sadie looked out the window and gasped dramatically.  This is roughly, the conversation that followed:

Sadie:  "Oh Mommy!  There's a bad man outside!  He's doing something bad!"
Me:  "What's he doing?"
Sadie:  "He has a shovel!"  At this point the horribleness of it all is too overwhelming and she can hardly go on.  "And he's... and he's... and he's..."
Me:  "Shoveling the sidewalk?"
Sadie:  "Yes!  He's taking the snow away!!!!"

Yup.  There are few things that she can imagine at the moment that are worse than "taking the snow away."

The Missing Post

After following yesterday's blogosphere drama today and reading all the comments and all the things various bloggers said in comboxes I had to take down yesterdays post.  I hope no one gets fired but the whole thing is just out of hand.  I'm not sure why people think that personal attacks and a level of rudeness they'd never use in real life are okay in comment boxes.  The whole thing gives me an icky feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Cuddle Bug Cuteness

Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---

I took heed of the ample good advice that I received after yesterday's post, and the subsequent conversation in the comment box, and returned it draft form.  The main reason was that I thought of my non-Catholic friends and family members out there who read this blog, and I didn't think it was a positive or accurate picture of Catholicism.  And leaving another inaccurate caricature of our what people imagine our faith to be like, is the last thing I want to do.

I'm not quite to the point where I'm blocking anyone yet, because I believe that the comments I received yesterday were meant to be helpful, even if they were quite convoluted and involved a twisting of my words and actions.  But I'm not going to publish any more comments on this topic from that particular source, because I do believe it could be a) a near occasion of sin for other readers and b) isn't reflective of the love or charitable kindness that I've found in the Church that leads us to strive to be better than we are.

And that's all I'm going to say about that!  Moving on...

--- 2 ---

An Actual Conversation that took place in our mini van:

Me:  "Look at that squirrel Paul!  I mean look at it!  It's huge!  I mean, it can hardly run.  Look!  No seriously look!  Did you see it?"
Paul:  "Honestly, I don't care about the squirrels.  They're evil, but really I don't care about how fat they are.  Why don't you go home and write a blog about it and then you can find someone who cares about squirrels." (Can you tell, this was during finals week?  Although his tone did have me laughing hysterically for about a minute...)

Eye roll.  It might be one of those conversations you had to be there for.  But...

I have never seen squirrels like the squirrels here in Michigan (and not just because one broke into our house three months ago).  They have definitely been putting on the pounds for winter.  I've seen two squirrels this week that were so fat they could hardly walk.  They waddled, slowly, down the sidewalk in front of me.

I have no idea how they're not getting picked off by predators.  Or maybe they are and there's just so many of them that it doesn't matter...

The only picture of a squirrel on my computer...  A California baby squirrel...
Imagine this squirrel with 20x more fat and you can imagine the squirrels I have lounging in the backyard.

--- 3 ---

It's finally snowing here!

When we moved to Michigan we expected a long cold winter.  And while it's been fairly cold, and we've regularly had "high of 34 low of 24" days, it definitely hasn't been, "Oh my goodness, I can't survive here" cold.

I was pretty jealous when I heard that my friends and family in California got a foot of snow yesterday (actually, that reminds me, Maria took pictures of the town in California that I grew up in, while driving north on interstate 5, and posted them on her blog!  I haven't been back in around 4 years, so I really loved looking at them!).  So I was thrilled when I woke up to a winter wonderland.

Which is why I need to speed up my typing because Sadie is downstairs impatient to go out and play.

I do have to say that this snow is different than the snow back home.  When the snow back home would slide off the roof it would be in giant, dangerous, fast moving masses.  The snow that's been falling this morning is light and fluffy and actually blows upward in the wind.  I've never seen snow this fluffy!

I'm hoping we get at least a few more inches for the girls to play in!
--- 4 ---

Sadie has been waiting for this day all week... the 21st of December... and not because of the Mayan Calendar (Oh look!  We're all still here!).  Today she is officially 4 and a half, which she will tell you basically means that she is five.

I cannot believe that in six months my baby will be five!

Oh the silliness that makes getting a good picture nearly impossible!
--- 5 ---

I'm one of those parents.  You know the ones.  The ones that keep their sweet, innocent children on a leash when they're out walking... like a dog.

I believe that the people who make rude comments comparing your child to a dog in the grocery store and berating your parenting choices, have likely never had a runner.

You might recognize this term if you've ever had a runner.  It's the child that takes off at a sprint, giggling, knowing you're hot on their trail.  They're the child that doesn't even look back to be sure that you're chasing after them, and even if they did and saw that you hadn't noticed yet, they'd keep going because they're confident you'd figure it out eventually.

Mae Bae has been blessed with a double dose of toddler-ness, in that she's both a runner and a climber.

And the leash?  She actually loves it.  Because it means she can be two feet away from me and not holding my hand every second when we go on walks.  It also means that she's not locked down in a stroller.

--- 6 ---

Yesterday we trekked across town to Target and I purchased a new camera.  It's been a long time coming as our camera has been dying a slow death, taking poorer and poorer quality pictures.  Thankfully I'd received a Target gift card and that, combined with the camera sale that they were having, bought me the camera I'd been hoping for.  Kind of.

We arrived and the sleek silver model was gone.  But they did have... hot pink.

I said I was okay with pink and ohhed and ahhed over how teeny tiny it is (it's so tiny it doesn't have a memory card, although it's internal memory is more than the memory card in my former cameras).  Paul paid the $8 for the insurance plan after watching how Mae started cooing and pointing and trying to grab the camera the second she saw it.

And now I don't have to worry about having horrible pictures for etsy, or having to redo photo shoots with the same snoods over and over again.  This should make running my businesses quite a bit easier!
Photo from
--- 7 ---

Cuddling with Patrick!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!