Friday, August 30, 2013

Really Truly Quick Takes

1.

The other day I came upstairs to find this sign on the boys' door as all four (Luke included) were "having a secret meeting."  Brian and I had a moment where the reality of how blessed we are sunk in a bit.  I'm also pleased that our conspirators at least have some manners about them.

2.
Today was a fun mail day.  First this happened:

I won't bore you with the details but a big thank you JCPenney for resurrecting their coupons and giving me free stuff again.  Two shirts for one dollar shipped right to my home.  

3.
And underneath that was this:

A few months ago our family became patrons for the Love Good Music campaign.  Any time one of their artists comes out with an album, we'll get one mailed to us plus we're sponsoring the creation of real art that draws us to the true, good, and beautiful.  There is so much to love about the campaign.  Check it out.

4.
OCTOBER 11.
is going to be HERE.

I think I may camp out.  And I don't even know if I'm joking or not.

5.
The Run for the Little Flowers Virtual 5K is taking registrations now!  REGISTER HERE!  Our family is doing it and we're getting a local group together.  How about you?  Can you think of a better cause to support than helping orphans in China?
Katie also has a bunch of great giveaways for those who are entered!
And it's virtual!  That means you can do it anywhere.
I fully plan on being the one crawling pathetically in the back so don't worry about embarrassing yourself.  I got that covered.

6.
Click-worthy links to share:






7.
Huh.  Quick Quick Takes.  Who'da thought I could actually pull it off?




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pear Canning for the Rest of Us


So many pears.  I'm not kidding when I say we've had thousands of pears on the trees and there are still plenty left for the picking.  I said the other day that we have fourteen trees.  We don't.  We have eleven.  I don't even know how many trees are in our yard.  Anyway, we've had several families over to take totes and we've given away bags and bags full.  The boys even tried to sell some at the road but apparently roadside pears are not really a thing and there wasn't much interest.  As of today I have canned 43 quarts of sliced pears and 14 quarts of sauce.  The sliced pears will be used for lunches and I plan to use much of the sauce as an oil substitute when baking.  I can't even tell you what a blessing that is.  That will provide us with a source of fruit for most, if not all, of the winter.  I'm sure there will be times of being sick to death of pears but what a relief for our grocery budget to not have to buy so much fruit all winter!  God is so so good.  It's hard and tedious work but it is so worth it to be able to do this whole one income thing.  God provides.  

Below are some notes on this year's canning mostly for my own future reference but perhaps it'll help someone else out as well...

{pretty}


Some shadow action for Cari


I'm pretty sure a vintage apron from Ebay is a necessary part of the canning experience.  Also helpful is a passel of boys who can pick the pears for you.


I did EVERYTHING with skins on this year!  I was nervous but opting not to peel them cut about half the time off the whole process (it takes forever) and I figured it was worth a shot.  I'm hoping the skins which are a little tough will soften while they sit but even if not, they're still edible and the kids likely won't care.  It does add a gritty texture to the sauce which I chose to puree with the immersion blender but it's not bothersome enough to merit spending hours upon hours of time I currently don't have peeling, you know?  Doing it this way I was able to can probably double what I would have had I chosen to peel them all.  Besides, skins on has to be healthier, right?

When it comes to prepping the pears so many sources tell you to use some lemon juice in the water to cut down on browning.  You know what?  The first batch I did with the juice came out browner than the ones I just did in fresh cold water.  So there.  I think the acid in the juice also softened the pears too much.  Leave out the lemon juice and just prep one batch at a time and they'll be fine.  While that batch is cooking, you can start the next one.  If the toddler lets you.  

{happy}


The boys got a kick out of making flowers using the slicer.  When the skins are left on, they stay together and just need to be pulled apart before putting them in the cold water bath.  All the cores and nasty pears go to the hens who have had so many they are starting to turn their noses up at them.  In fact, one day we dumped a few wheelbarrows full of soft pears that had fallen from the tree into their pen which was not at all a wise idea.  Now they are fermenting, our yard smells like vinegar, and I'm pretty sure our chickens are getting drunk.  I'm also anticipating some pear flavored eggs in the coming weeks.


If you are canning slices, use pears that are a few days under ripe.  The cooking process does soften them and if you use pears that are at the at perfect stage of biting (at least for me...the boys like the harder ones), they'll get too soft in the canner.  This is nice because it gives you some leeway when you have so many pears and are afraid they'll all be ready at once.  As you prep them and slice them, throw the ones that slice softly and easily into the crock for sauce.  The firmer ones go in the water bath.

I use the dishwasher to sterilize the jars and lids.  It's a bit tricky to time everything.  (Note to others:  when you are shopping appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, don't forget to check how long the cycles are!  Our dishwasher takes almost TWO HOURS for a normal cycle and our washing machine one hour.  And stuff still doesn't come out all that clean.  It is such a pain.)  If I don't feel like waiting I will stick them in the boiling water in the canner for a few minutes.  

I've never done them in a simple syrup.  I feel like it's a waste when the pears are so sweet and I don't want my kids drinking that much sugar anyway.  This time I tried a batch with a bit of honey in the water and the rest I did with about 1/2 cup of sugar in about one or two gallons of water.  Next time I'll probably just do plain water.  For some reason I was nervous to do completely eliminate the sugar this time.  I think I read somewhere that the sugar helps with preserving so that was in my head but then I read that you really don't need it at all.


I always forget to check for air bubbles and release them to the top.  It's sort of important and the first few batches I didn't.  But I figure everything was boiled long enough (25 minutes for quarts and 20 for pints) that hopefully anything harmful is killed.  It's honestly not something I worry too much about.  If something has gone bad usually you can see or smell it when you open the jar later.  If in a few months I come down with listeria (botulism?  I can't remember.) you will all now know why and realize that I totally deserved it.  I don't even have the two inches of water over the top of them when they are boiling since the pot isn't tall enough.  I'm like the honey badger of canning, you guys.  I don't even care.  I just make sure the water covers the lids and the pot lid stays on so it doesn't evaporate much.  


I do a very simple crockpot sauce.  I throw the soft pears in there on high until they are tender and then puree.  No added ingredients.  In the past when I've peeled, I've hand mashed them since I like the lumps but with the peels on it makes more sense to puree them.  When the sauce is ready, it's also processed in the canner.  I did most of the sauce in pint jars since you're not really going to use more than 2 cups at a time, right?


Canning sounds so intimidating and it sometimes feels that way but once you are all set up, it's not that difficult.  You just need the chunks of time and the necessary pots to be able to do it.  Most of mine are garage sale finds.  I don't even have a real canner.  I just use a giant pot and put them right in without a rack because I'm a crazy rebel like that.  It won't hurt anything and you don't need to spend lots of money on all the special equipment.  


But buy the jar tongs.  Because, you know, scalding boiling water and all.

{funny}


The first few days there was a lot of pear pilfering.  I think the novelty has worn off a bit as the week has gone on...


Even the Luke babe can help.  Sort of.
(Ooh.  See that flower box in the background?  The boys made that together for my birthday!  Sweetest.)

I also just learned that the rings aren't supposed to stay on the jars after they're processed!  Who knew? They're just meant to hold the lid on during the canning and then be removed after they are completely cool.  Otherwise, they get rusty (which mine did) and that makes the lids rusty and you have to keep buying more.  Lids are supposed be used brand new but I make a (maybe probably not that really) prudent decision and inspect them carefully.  If the rubber seal is still fresh and intact without any scrapes or marring, I reuse them.  Like I said.  Rebel.

{real}


Blessed.  So so blessed.  It's a little sad that the pear skins don't stay their vibrant green and red in the canner and instead turn a less pleasant shade of yellow.  But we'll take it for a winter's worth of organic fruit at the ready.  Those brown sticks in some are cinnamon sticks that have been in my spice cabinet literally for years.  I felt fancy.


I mean, really.  Look at this.
(See their ringless selves?  Don't they look naked?)  

I haven't even had a chance to do any baking or fun things with the fresh pears yet but now that the canning is d.o.n.e. maybe I'll muster up the energy to do a pie or crisp.  We'll see.


Linking again with Like Mother, Like Daugher for {pretty, happy, funny, real}
and Cari at Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Why I Love the Necessary Cesarean

It was thirty three years ago.  A woman of thirty was going about her chores heavily pregnant with her fifth child.  The days were long and it was humid and hot, a typical late August evening in Buffalo.  She scrubbed dishes in the kitchen of her house in the city while trying to herd the older children in from the pool in the backyard.  It was then that she heard a sound.  An alarming pop and then felt the gush warm down her leg and heard it hitting the floor with a splash.  Looking down perhaps she expected to see the pure clear glisten of amniotic fluid.  Instead, she saw red.  Bright red and lots of it.  She knew this wasn't normal, after all this was her fifth time around and she'd worked for years caring for women in labor and delivery.  It wasn't good.

She sent her oldest daughter to grab the next door neighbor.  Grandma came to watch the kids.  Her husband arrived home from work in time to rush her to the hospital.  The doctor finally arrived and told her the baby needs to come out NOW.  It was a case of a placental abruption.  For some unknown reason the baby's source of food, nutrients, and most importantly, oxygen was pulling away from her uterus.  They could try to birth naturally but there wasn't time.  In the doctor's words at best the baby would be brain damaged, at worst the baby would be dead.  They had to go in immediately if the baby was to have any chance at life.   They did.  She was knocked out and with a vertical slash down her womb, they sliced her open and scooped out the infant, who thanks be to God and the doctors in the room took her first breath and cried.  Mom woke up later confused but begging for her baby.  She nursed and held and thanked God for the gift of her child.

That baby was me.

I think sometimes people think that because I am such a proponent of natural birth that I am somehow against surgical birth.  I'm not.  I likely wouldn't be here were it not for the skill of doctors who were trained in surgical birth.  I am grateful for a mother who allowed herself to be cut open so that I could live.  I am grateful for a hospital near enough to their home and doctors who were trained for this emergency.  So grateful.  What I am against is unnecessary cesarean.  Anyone who has been through a cesarean birth knows how difficult it is.  Not that a natural birth is any picnic either, but you get all the endorphins and the high and if you take care of yourself and don't have any major complications, you can feel mostly recovered in a few weeks or even days.  Not so with major surgery.  Currently the cesarean rate in this country is around 33%.  One third of American babies are being born surgically.  It is recommended by the World Health Organization that a nation's cesarean rate is safest at around 10% of births, when it is determined that a situation is such that the benefits of a cesarean outweigh the risks.  It means that half to two thirds of surgical births are medically unnecessary and since we know that cesarean has much more serious risks than natural birth it means that we are putting mothers and babies in unnecessary danger.  It's not cool.  It's anti a culture of life to put babies and moms at risk because of convenience or fear of litigation or even sincere concern but one that is premised on bad science.  Women and babies deserve better than to be put at risk by a system that is broken.

I could go on for pages about the ways that our country's unnecessary cesarean rate is dangerous for mothers and babies.  How our country has one of the highest maternal and neonatal death rates in the industrialized world.  I could tell you about the tears in the eyes of the women I have talked to when they describe their unnecessary surgery, some of them left with lifelong complications and the inability to carry future babies safely.  Or the other mom who wasn't able to get out of bed to answer her baby's cries and how that ripped her apart and triggered postpartum depression.  I could tell you of the others who were talked into a cesarean because of a breech baby, a previous cesarean, an unnecessary induction, "failure to progress," twins, an estimated big baby, post due dates, "small hips," or their doctor's golf plans and now know after the fact that they had other options.
But today, today I am just grateful.  I am grateful for my life, a life that is no less worthy and in fact wouldn't be here if it weren't for a surgical birth.  Grateful for a mother who had to endure two more surgical births after me as well as one heck of a battle scar because of her sacrifice for my life.  I'm grateful for God giving us doctors with a skill that when used prudently and correctly can save lives.

If you are a mom who has had a surgical birth, necessary or otherwise, I salute you.  I don't know what it's like to go through that and I'd love to hear your story.  Please know if you are a mom that may have a cesarean in the future that you have options and that you still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect before, during and after the birth and so does your baby.  There are simple ways to limit the trauma and risk of a cesarean and you have a right to know them.  While we work to make sure that the unnecessary cesarean rate drops, we can also make sure that when they are prudently performed they are done so well and that the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of both mom and baby are addressed.  Birth is important.  YOUR birth, whether in the past or future, is important.  You are allowed to believe that and you are allowed to mourn a birth that didn't happen as you hoped while still celebrating the beautiful child you brought into the world.  Your baby is blessed to have a mom that loves them so much and who has sacrificed so much for them.  And so am I.

(This is where you get to pretend this is a picture of me but it's really Luke.)




Friday, August 23, 2013

Seven Quick Takes - So Many Good and Random Things

1.
I've stepped back a LOT from Facebook recently.  And it has been sooooo good.  I've gone back and forth with the whole FB and obviously it has some blessedly wonderful things about it and is a great tool.  It's unmatched in it's ability to easily organize events and groups and man, it is a great way to spread good things and share info.  But I just ain't got the time anymore and the background noise in my head was killing me.  A friend described it as a constant static and I agree.  Maybe it's a temperament thing.  Some of us need more quiet and I feel like Facebook is like constantly being at a huge party.  It's good and fun and I love hanging out and chatting with people but it's draining.  And sometimes you remember that you're supposed to be a wife and mom first and if you're being drained or your peace is robbed by some virtual computer party than it needs to be reigned in.  There's just too many better (for me) things to be doing.

So that means I'll still have an account and I've been checking in once a day to make sure I don't have any messages (for some reason I only sometimes get a notification when I have a message...it's weird) but I don't let myself scroll through or I will get sucked right in.  And I jump on to post blog updates on my very lame and unattended Facebook page for those who don't use a feed reader and like to get my posts that way.  It stinks to not be in the loop on everything but the benefits are worth it.  I just can't do all the things.  And sometimes I realize that maybe not everyone needs to hear my opinion on everything in all the places and that my children need me fully present to them and not distracted by a recent Facebook post going on in my head or answering a question with my face buried in a screen.  

All that to say that I apologize if you've gotten married, had a baby, announced some other life-changing news, showed me your recent amazing meal, or shared a hilarious kid quote and were offended at my lack of a like or comment.  Nothing personal.  I've just got this one chance to live this life and this vocation and I need to get better at doing it the way I deep down want to do it.  And there's only so much time to go around.  But I'm happy/sad/mad/excited/disappointed/praying for you still.  

2.
I discovered some unfortunate news.  When I exercise my back pain gets a little better.  Which is actually really great and really fortunate but it means I have no excuse for feeling sorry for myself.  And it means I have to make time to do it even though there are so many more fun or "productive" things I could be doing with my time.  I was recommended this postpartum workout DVD geared towards a post birth body mainly because it helps address the whole ripped apart and never going back together abdominal muscles (i.e. diastasis recti) which exacerbates the back pain.  There may be better ones out there, I don't know, but I just needed to get something that had a good recommendation and start.  It's good, straightforward, and it works but oh my, does anyone not feel like a complete nerd when doing an exercise video in their living room?

3.
Last week we had an afternoon at a nearby creek with a group of friends.  Evidence:






And I'll graciously ease up on my usual rule of not posting pictures of people without their permission on the blog in order to treat you to a rousing game of Find the Blogger:


Answer Key:


Tricky, right?  Nella from Is There McDonald's in Heaven?, Theresa from Ordinary Lovely, and Heather (before The Incident of the mud slipping and the falling and the baby saving and the heart racing and the breath catching) of Mama H fame all happened to be there making it an impromptu local blogger meet up!  Fun!
But this is the best picture I could get what with all the preventing toddlers from drowning and trying not to be pulled into the treacherous muds of slippery death and whatnot.
  
4.
The president was in our city yesterday and while no one else probably heard about it, it was all the news here.  He spoke at the university about education and I made the foolish foolish foolish decision of listening on the radio.  Foolish.  Really, that man.  I don't even know where to begin.  It just became so so clear to me how diametrically different people's worldviews are.  I don't think people are guaranteed success or are unable to make an informed decision when they choose a college and don't get me started on the tired (and elitist) old line of the only way to achieve anything in this country is to have a college education.  And he does.  I also think colleges SHOULD be picky and that part of figuring out who is suited for what is weeding out those who can't hack it rather than ensuring that colleges are rated by how many are graduating like he proposed.  Scratch that.  I want them rated but the ones with better ratings would be the ones who do end up with a small graduating class.  I'd prefer my surgeon be the one who made it when a whole lot of other ones didn't and I'd like to pass on someone who was ushered through a system and graduated so that the university could keep their government rating up.  I'm silly like that.  And let's be sure to leave out the part about WHY college tuitions have soared in the last few decades.  We wouldn't want to get to make people think critically and get to the root of the problem or anything.

5.
This:


A few weeks ago we went to a game for our local team.  I'm especially proud of our fancy restaurant dinner beforehand that cost a total of...wait for it...$3.  Remember that restaurant gift card I got from opining about talk radio at that focus group?  The restaurant was right down the street from here.  With deliberate menu choices and meal sharing, our family of 6 ate for $3 plus a good tip.  Oh, and the game was fun, too.

6.
I wanted to do an Assumption post but I never got around to it since it was the same day we went to the creek.  But I did make these blueberry mini pies and brought them on our picnic dinner:


which looked much better in person than in this photograph, I think.  They were super good.

7.
SUPER click-worthy links for you!  Read em:

One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say  (Chatting at the Sky) Applicable to anyone and so thought provoking.  


World's First Orangutan Birth Captured Live  (Durell)  Warning, this may gross some people out but I find it fascinating.  I only wish they had just left the camera running at the start of labor and let us see the whole thing.

Doctors Discover "Super Honey" with Amazing Power to Treat Soldier's Wounds and Kill Superbug Infections  (Daily Mail)  I love when they pretend they've discovered something new and prove that the crazy natural people aren't all that crazy after all ;)


The Problem with Youth Ministry (Bad Catholic)  A truth I learned in my brief stint as youth minister.  I felt it was necessary medicine for a much deeper problem.

CDC:  Newborn Circumcision on the Decline in the U.S.  (CBS)  Pretty much makes the whole silly locker room argument moot.


That's it.  It's almost the weekend, beautiful people!  Make it a good one.

Click it on over to Jen's for more!



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eleven Years at the Beach

Last Friday Brian and I celebrated our ELEVENTH anniversary.  Which is right down crazy, if you ask me.  That pretty much makes us adults, I think.  We batted around a lot of ideas but in the end decided to take a simple family trip to the beach.  We timed it so that we could visit a priest friend of ours who had been moved out by the bishop to the very very edge of the diocese (but also happens to be ten minutes from a great beach) and we were able to go to Mass beforehand.  It was such a blessing to be able to go AND unbeknown to us they had their children's Adoration scheduled for right after Mass.  Seriously, children's Adoration once a month.  Isn't that the best?  Father gave them a mini lesson, helped them pray two decades of the Rosary and then led them in SILENT prayer for ten minutes.  And it was beautiful.  Even David knelt there the whole time.  The other mothers and I brought the toddlers into the cry room for that part or else there probably wouldn't have been anything silent about it.  As we were leaving he gave us a beautiful anniversary blessing.  I remember part of it being about leading each other to heaven which was such a great reminder of what this whole thing really is all about.

The beach was beautiful.  I think it's neat to celebrate our anniversary with the kids.  I mean, it's awesome, too, to be able to go out for a romantic dinner or get away for a night or whatever (anyone want to come babysit?), but this day is about them, too, so we like to include them in at least part of it.  The day two became one...so much so that our oneness eventually ended up needing a name five times over.  That love becomes embodied in real little adorable PEOPLE.  We are so blessed and God is so amazing.

{pretty}

This beach is about an hour from us but it's worth the drive.  The closer ones are pretty gross and this one is never that crowded and is relatively family friendly.


My view from the chair where I got to sit and read a book and be altogether useless.  At least for a few minutes.



{happy}







{funny}

Poor John Paul.  His mother never remembers that he has no water shoes that fit him so he ends up having to wear his mother's twelve year old pink ones.  No one is jealous of the first who usually gets the new clothes if the eldest child also has to wait until mom can get her act together to have clothes and shoes that actually fit.  See, it's all about fostering brotherhood and them learning to grow in detachment and humility.  Or something.


{real}

Food.  Oh my, God has blessed our pear harvest abundantly this year!  Last year we got one tiny little pear out of our fourteen trees due to the late surprise frost.  This year this tote was not even half of one of our trees.  The boys have been munching on them nonstop and I've started the dreaded canning.  I've got 14 quarts of sliced pears and 4 quarts of sauce done as well as about 4 more quarts of sauce in the slow cookers right now.  And the tote is not even empty yet.  We will be well fed with pears this winter which I think is really rad and we will have plenty to share with friends.  More on that next week, I think. (Linking up with Cari for today's theme of food!)

And I was right about those blueberry coconut dreamsicles I made.  Incredibly underwhelming and pretty bland.  The only ones who would eat them were Luke and David but they enjoyed theirs (and everyone else's) immensely so I suppose I can still claim it as a win.

Hope you all are having a happy feast day!  We were able to get to Mass again this morning which was lovely and later on we'll be treating ourselves to our Coronation parfaits.  The boys will also be tasked with fashioning a crown for Our Lady and I think I overheard them discussing some pretty specific and elaborate ideas for some original headwear for the Queen.  We'll see.

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {phfr}!



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blueberry Peach Parfaits for the Coronation


I put together a super simple dessert for tomorrow's feast day of the Crowning of the Blessed Virgin and thought I'd share it with y'all in case you were wanting a jumping off point for your own festivities.


The great thing about parfaits and trifles (because you can totally simplify even more and just put this in a big dish rather than individual glasses) is that there are no rules and they are so versatile and yet still look fancy.  This is what I put together from what I had but use what you have and make it work!

The blueberries represent Mary and the peach her golden crown.  The whipped cream symbolizes the heavenly clouds and I suppose you could even have the cake represent that she is fully human and still intercedes for us here on earth below.  

Ingredients:
Yellow Cake (I happened to have this left over in the freezer, I think from extra batter from Michael's birthday cake and it was the perfect chance to be able to use it.  Other possibilities:  Nilla wafers, brownies, cookies, graham crackers, or just omit it altogether.)
Blueberries (about 2 cups)
Peach (Or how about mango or pineapple?)
Whipped Cream (I used about 3-4 cups.  Other possibilities:  Vanilla ice cream or pudding)


Assemble your fancy glasses (these are actually shrimp cocktail glasses I inherited from my grandfather!) or just use regular glasses or a trifle dish.


Peel your peach and slice thinly.  Cube up your cake into bite size pieces.  Then just layer it all together:  cake, whipped cream, blueberries, whipped cream, and use several slices of your peach for Mary's crown.  Simple, simple.


I experimented with several crownesque shapes...



and also a just throw it all in abstract version.  No rules, remember?

Enjoy!

"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars."  Revelation 12:1

Mary, you who are mother of our King and queen of heaven, pray for us!



Sunday, August 18, 2013

This Month in Boys - August 2013

John Paul

-has composed four songs on the piano.  Titles include "Where the Red Rose Grows," "Where the Gate of Evil Lies," and "Marching."  They're all very...powerful sounding.
-has made up games for the boys to play which include "Money Fun" and "Strategy."
-has the sweetest talking to Luke voice.
-scared us with a nasty fall from a tree last week bruising his back but thankfully that was the worst of it.
-stayed home and "watched" his brothers (who were sleeping) for the first time while Mama and Papa were next door at the neighbors'.
-still has elaborate plans for the "army" that he's been developing the last few years.  He recently insisted that he must buy fabric to sew the uniforms and has conscripted many of his friends into service, each with specific assigned roles.
-is loving reading The Fellowship of the Ring with Papa and considers Aragorn his favorite.
-is 50 inches tall.


Michael

- was overheard sharing that "When I sing at church I can feel my heart beating really fast."
-has his first wiggly tooth!
-didn't flinch a centimeter when getting his blood drawn at the doctor and was quite proud when the technician told him that he did better than most teenagers.
-recently prayed during his special intentions, "that I can get to know You more."
-is doing a wonderful job on his memory work and is about to start level II of the CHC readers.
-loves "Hobbit Time" with Papa.  John Paul has been telling him a bit about The Lord of the Rings which has made him enamored with Gimli.  He gets to carry an axe, you know.
-is 42 pounds and 44 inches tall.


David

-has a face that lights up like the sun when playing with Papa.
-knows the "Caterpillar" poem and his lisped recitation might just be the cutest thing ever.
-wants to go outside almost every morning and ride his bike.
-frequently asks to help with whatever Mama is doing in the kitchen.
-asks every day if Papa while he is at work can find a "worker" who will build him a tractor.
-wants to be Legolas because, of course,  then he gets a bow and arrow.
-is 30 pounds and 36 inches tall.


Luke

-is sleeping. through. the. NIGHT!!!  (Well, mostly.) 
-delights in the Itsy Bitsy Spider.
-is a big fan of the brushing of the teeth (and will test out everyone else's brush given the opportunity).
-has taken to waving bye whenever we're leaving (or he's going upstairs to bed) and saying "bye-bye" over and over.
-must have any hurt or even slightly offended body part kissed before going back to whatever he was doing.
-and yet he, too, didn't even bat an eye when getting his blood drawn at the doctor office.
-still plays his own version of baseball constantly, smacking a stuffed egg with a block (or other makeshift bat) and running around his bases.  His very intentional batting stance is too too much.
-is 28 pounds and 33 inches tall.




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