Planes, Ballet, and Texas Party! - 7QT

Friday, February 26, 2016

7 Quick Takes time with Kelley at This Ain't the Lyceum!

1

This past weekend I had my first solo trip since babies! It was to Houston for a friend's wedding.

I really did miss everyone terribly.

Facetime is great, but I don't think Therese understood I could see her. She seemed to think it was just a picture of me. Oh well.

2

Hit the ground running hard from the trip.

Monday's are now my late ballet days. The kind where we're scheduled until 10pm.

But it's worth it!

This is the song we are currently using to choreograph a duet.


3

I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Aquinas lecture at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology this week.

The talk was titled Life, Language and Christ: A Thomistic Approach. You can watch the archived livestream here.

4

Our young adult group is hosting the parish Lenten Friday Stations and Soup Supper tonight!

Being the little nerds we are, we are also following it up with a game night.

John has been very into playing the game Trouble.


I'm just waiting to see how many of the brothers/priests he can convince to play with him.
He can be very persuasive, and quite skilled at using his strangely precocious vocabulary.

5

We also have a baby baptism today!

This will be the first one my kids have been able to attend (besides their own), so we're going to wrap up our letter R week by going over the Rite of Infant Baptism!

I see some water play with "baby dolls" in our future.
(But really plastic bowling pins so I don't have to worry about mildewing toys.)

6

My friend, Sean Salai SJ, wrote a book titled What Would Pope Francis Do?


If you are in the area, you are welcome to join us!

7

In the category of "holidays you never knew you needed", next week is Texas Independence Day!

March 2 is the day Texas declared independence from Mexico and became it's own country, the Republic of Texas, from 1836-46.

It's like Cinco de Mayo is to Mexico. No one really celebrates Texas Independence Day in Texas, but take a critical mass of Texans in California and you get a Texas Independence Day extravaganza! 

We fly our Texan flags, grill everything, add salsa to most things, drink Shiner, and hang out outside.

I also got these.

Texas. Ice. Cubes.
Aren't they perfect?!

When Mom Goes on Vacation

Monday, February 22, 2016

This weekend I crossed one of those really big mom milestones - I went on a trip ALONE.


Dun, dun, DUN!
Sitting in the window seat in an exit row! Oh the luxuries I didn't know I missed while traveling with kids!
But really, that's what seemed to be playing in every stranger's head while I answered the "where are you traveling to?" question. 
Their eyes get big when they figure out I have kids (their faces on my lock screen is a pretty dead giveaway.)
Landed in Texas to rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds and birds singing. Seriously. Can't make this stuff up.

"But what are the kids going to do?!"

The hotel with inside the Houston Galleria. It's a lot bigger and swankier than I recall.
Well I'm told they: went to the park, the farmers market, the store, for walks. They helped make pesto, fennel onion jam, and chocolate macaroons. They had their naps, meals, playtime, and snuggles with Daddy.
I am ready for Texas Independence Day! TexIce FTW!

I came home to sleeping babies, a clean house, food in the fridge, and less laundry than after a normal weekend.
Hubby done good!

This is JoAnn. We have a crazy number of similarities, and a shared love for our friend Mary, so we were wedding buddies! 
But, really, what needs to happen before we can stop our societal wide assumption that Dads are, by nature, incompetent to solo parent and keep a house running? It's not like I was born knowing how to do it either.

My beautiful little Mary is all grown up and happily married! *tears*
 Like any role in life, there was a learning curve. 
I generally work on the assumption that people are capable of learning, and I certainly want to give my spouse the assumption of competence. It just seems like the loving thing to do.

Semi-traditional pre-wedding Sidecar. It's a thing.

Caribbean station food! The wedding was travel themed, and all of the food stations were foods from places the bride and groom had traveled together. 
Of course it makes sense to set your spouse up for success.
I made some soup to have in the fridge so he wouldn't have to scramble to make a meatless dinner his first solo day. I made sure to tell him about how our day routine has been going recently.

I did not expect him to be telepathic and "just know" how to do things. 

The women of the "Mary's friends" table.
I am most proud of him for taking both kids to the Saturday evening mass. Entirely on his own.

Walked over to this church for the 7:30 mass. Yea for churches near hotels!
There was one bathroom break, but that was it. 
No one needed to be taken out for being loud or out of control.

They were a very sweet parish. If you were a visitor who needed a ride back to your hotel, you were encouraged to stop by the welcome table for a ride. Oh Southern hospitality how I missed thee!
 Well so much for needing Mom because I have never successfully pulled that kind of solo mass experience with the kids.

Connected through Vegas. It's an odd airport. Lots of neon lighting, slot machines everywhere, and special room where you can smoke inside. So. Weird.
 As nice as it was to have a break, I really did miss everyone.

How John narrates his entire life. When he wasn't there to be SUPER EXCITED about any little thing I found. How Therese "hugs" by throwing herself into your lap and you just have to surrender to all the baby love. How Matt would have danced with me and made funny faces the whole time.

I got back pretty late last night so I didn't get to see the kids until this morning. Here is my favorite John quote:

"First we gonna get dressed, then I gonna hug momma. Then we gonna SNUGGLE! Then we gotta eat our breakfast. Eat it up - mmm, mmm, good! - grow BBBBIIIIGGGG and STR-WRONG!"

Ahhh, home.

A Swingin' Swing Dance!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Last weekend we hosted a swing dance via our young adult group!

We had close to 100 people show up throughout the night - so I'm calling that a success!

The Decorations

The church already had a lot of the lights already strung up from the school auction so we made use of the existing infrastructure and just added a bit to it.


We used plain burlap and red ribbon as table runners.

There are also tea light candles in holders alternating on and off small mirrors along the center of the side tables.

We found this cute red polka dot printed burlap at Joann's and hot glued printed letters onto it. I discovered that my duct tape made a perfect stencil for that!

We added in a light from IKEA over the food table so people could actually tell what they were eating.


This is the true story of how we got that light up there.


Jesuit stacking!
I will note that they thought of this idea themselves and we did not have access to a ladder.

Food and Drink

Erin and Alex were our amazing caterers!


They really do know how to feed a crowd!
We had a pretty impressive array of food: homemade chex mix, cheese plate, dips, etc.

We were able to have a cash bar that would not have had nearly as much variety if it were not for Erin and Alex's catering skills: an assortment of beers, wines, alcoholic and non-alcoholic punches, and water for all!


They also worked the welcome table doing important stuff like collecting admission donations, checking IDs, and passing out wristbands.

 The Dancing!

RJ, one of the Jesuit Scholastics who is studying in Berkeley, is a former swing dance instructor and graciously agreed to teach us some East Coast swing - for free! :)

He's also a former football coach, and he got to put his "coach voice" to use to teach a class of close to 70 newbie dancers. 

All lined up.

Finding a partner.


Hey, it's me!
I got to be the girl/follow role demonstrator. It was awesome.

Trying it out.





Many people who came had experience with other forms of dance and swing dance so there were a lot of little break out teaching happening for Lindy, jitterbug, swing aerials, even a little ballet.



I don't believe we got any pictures of it (because we were too busy dancing) but some line dancing happened! I had thrown in a variety of genres on the playlist, just to see what people would do with it. Well people seem to really like line dancing and salsa. Those might have to be our next styles to try!




Dancing with the husband.
 We got a sitter for the kids and called this our big Valentine's date.  

We even took mock-prom photos!
We made this quick little backdrop (so photos could happen somewhere that was not a beige wall) and used it as a photo booth.



 Want a fun playlist that works for swing (and other dance forms)? Got you covered!
Here is the playlist we used that night. Enjoy!


Children's Books! - Letters M-P

Monday, February 15, 2016

Homeschooling in the past weeks has been heavily focused on reading. Mostly because that's all John wants to do when he gets one-on-one time with me - read. 

Thankfully, the 26 Letters to Heaven book had pretty substantial booklists for the letters we have been on and things have been available at the library.

Here have been John's picks!


Letter M

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton


I knew John was going to be up for reading this one (it's about a digger after all), but this book is WORDY. We now own the board book version, which seems a bit abbreviated, but the original is not afraid of repeats and word play.
That didn't seem like a turn off for John - if anything he enjoyed the cadence and rhythm this book has going on.

Letter N

With letter N I forgot to bring the curriculum book to the library with me. We had done enough of the book lists at that point that I had learned which authors to be looking for (Arnosky, Brett, Wise Brown, Carle, dePola, Lionni - to name a few). I just browsed around, my admittedly small, children's picture book section at my local branch looking for the letter N. 

These were the winners according to John! 

A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston


Double the N's and lots of pretty pictures!

This covered way most variety of nest builders (not just birds) than I anticipated and John LOVED it.
This is also pretty satisfying just to look at, and Therese preferred this one for browsing while I read aloud with John.

On Noah's Ark by Jan Brett


I've been trying to include bible stories in our reading to get John familiar with the names and events. That is a bit easier said than done with our library selection, but Old Testament is more likely than New Testament (or saints) to be found in our library system.

The kids had received the Fisher Price toy Noah's Ark for Christmas from Therese's godfather (thanks Craig!), and it became a very popular toy after reading this book.

Letter O

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel


This is a compilation of short little stories about Owl. Owl does things like invite winter into his house, try to be both upstairs and downstairs at the same time, and make friends with the moon.

I think John identified with Owl's various conundrums because he would bring them up in conversation, on walks, and picked this one as his "before nap" book every day that week.

Letter P


The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack


This is another old school book that is on the long side, and John LOVED it.
I'm starting to think he has a thing for vintage kids books. Or maybe these just have great staying power. I'm not a children's lit expert (yet) but I'll figure this out yet.

Ping is a duck in a BIG family. He likes living with this big family, but does not like being the last duck back on the boat because the last duck gets whacked with a stick. One night he knew he was going to be last so he hid and got left behind. 

In the end, Ping decides that it's better to suffer the temporary whack than to be separated and alone from his family.
Big fan of picture books that emphasise even unpleasant things are better faced than run away from.



This is a book I had, and loved, growing up. It wasn't on the 26 Letters list, but I added it.

It covers animal metamorphosis which is a magical crazy process to explain to little kids. The book also touches on being happy as you are, how it's better to be humble, and the idea of becoming something new and bigger as you grow up. 


And a bonus book that is not 26 Letters to Heaven but John is obsessed with is....

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
This is another very wordy, kind of vintage, book. I like the Frances books for the same reason I like the Angus books - the main characters articulate the concerns, views, and thoughts of young children very well.

This one deals with picky eating. 
Frances loves bread and jam. She would eat bread and jam at every meal. But when that becomes the default (in a brilliant moment of parenting by a fictional character) Frances realizes that it's not so great to only eat the same thing at every meal. 
It also shows the social aspect of eating. Joining in with others and sharing a meal is an important part of family in this book.
It ends with the sentiment that "eating is nice" - an end, and a good, in of itself. 


We're ending our letter P week today on President's Day. Mostly because the libraries are closed today and I can't get the letter Q books until tomorrow. 

Beginning of Lent Happenings and a Photo Challenge!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Another Friday, another link up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

1


John had his first ever dental cleaning this week!
He was super pumped until he had to actually get in the dentist's chair - then he had a minor breakdown. Held a toothbrush, and everything was better!

Once they got going, he was way more amenable to all of the cleaning than I thought he would be. Even the suction, polishing, and spraying.

Also, he really liked the Sports Illustrated in the waiting room.
That's all Matt there.

2


John was a sick chicken on Ash Wednesday.
Thankfully (and knocking on all the wood) Therese seems to have dodged the bullet on this one.

I kept both kids home from Ash Wednesday mass. Especially because I really wasn't sure what kind of sick this was going to be. Matt and I switched off masses instead.

I did miss getting to have a kids with ashes picture to use with an #ashtag.

3


This kid is amazing me with the leaps and bounds of growing up she is doing.
For some reason, being able to put duplo together caused a bigger emotional reaction than starting to crawl for me.
Stop growing up so fast baby!

4


Super Bowl was a fun event!

Just part of the food enjoyed. 
John had been talking about "Super Ball" for weeks. Even telling his stuff animals, "Today is not Super Ball. We have to wait. Maybe Tuesday."


After all the weeks of talking about it, John spent most of the game playing with the little girl from next door.
Priorities. We got 'em.

5


As in last week's 7QT we did most of our Fat Tuesday celebrating on Saturday in combination with donut party.

I will only make King's Cake once a year. Those puppies are all of the work of a bread, a cake, and a pastry combined.
Instead we had a fajita feast, and drank up all the wine, and ate up all the leftover cupcakes and King's Cake. 
Those last two were really just me.
Can't go wasting wine and cake before Lent, can we?

6

So far giving up extra tech during naptimes has been interesting.
I've realized that I need to be able to use it a bit in order to access my dance workouts.
So I've narrowed it by not allowing any tech that is just ambling around or because I want background noise.

So far: I've done our taxes (filed and accepted!), lots of dance, planned more travel, read books, and prayed more.

7


I'm participating in a photo project! And you can too!

Abbey, at Surviving Our Blessings, made this fun Lenten photo challenge to see the sacred in the everyday.

Here are the first week's prompts.


You can participate on Instagram with #holylens or via facebook by posting with the hashtag on your page or on the project's community page.
Blessed Is She people can also use #projectblessed.


Hope your Lent is off to a prayerful start!
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