Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

On the Last Day of Christmas…
January 5, 2012, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Children, Christmas, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , ,

(Lucy’s Christmas shoes and special Christmas china from Daniel’s mom)

We are:

Listening to Christmas Music

Drinking Hot Chocolate (miraculously, Benjamin hasn’t spilled it yet)

And, by Benjamin’s request, watching the Nutcracker

This little Christmas elf is enjoying the last day of Christmastide.

I think this little man is going to miss the Christmas season. Or perhaps I should say, I think this little man is going to miss candy canes.

I love being their mama.

Our Year in Pictures: 2011!
December 30, 2011, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Advent, Birth, Children, Christmas, Easter, Motherhood, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , ,

I think Daniel and I both agree that 2011 was our best year to date. Here’s some highlights (which turned out to become a monstrously long post with mostly pregnancy pics, oh well).


Daniel got a new job and we hoped to get pregnant again. Benjamin continued to amaze us with the joy he brought to our world.


In February we celebrated Benjamin’s 2nd Birthday (A Farm Birthday Party) and two days later found out I was pregnant.


Our garden produced some great food and Benjamin loved “helping” Daddy tend to it. I was really, really, sick for the whole month with 24-hour morning sickness. Daniel and my mom picked up all the slack for me. Don’t know what I would do without them. Look how tired I look, holy cow:


Our first Easter back in Tallahassee and the anniversary of our Confirmation. Benjamin made a little best friend named Ulee from library storytime. His mom, Zemi, and I hit it off and the boys enjoyed playing at the Jr.Museum (Tallahassee Museum) together.

I started looking really pregnant and the nausea started to get a little bit better, although I was exhausted from growing Ms. Lucy.


A busy month of leading company rehearsals for the Spring ballet and getting my little students ready for their recital dances. Benjamin and I started doing summery things like going to the pool and Daniel and I celebrated our 5th anniversary by a weekend away at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we spent our honeymoon. Why we didn’t take one picture…I don’t know.


We took Benjamin blueberry picking and we fell into a wonderful routine of morning outings for the summer: park, pool, jr. museum, pool, brogan museum. Such a happy time! And I got bigger:

At the end of June we had the best family vacation ever: a trip to North Carolina for my wonderful friend Jane’s wedding and then a week split between resting and reading at my grandparents mountain home and visiting my wonderful cousins, aunt, and uncle, in SC.


We returned from vacation just before the 4th of July and I was suddenly hugely pregnant. My good friend, Beca, was in town for the summer and kept me company. We also said farewell to the Harry Potter film series with a party and a midnight movie. That wouldn’t be a major milestone of most people’s year, but…well, you know how we feel about Harry Potter.


August was pretty miserably hot, although nothing near the infernal summer they had in Texas this year. I was getting SO BIG and so excited about our baby girl. Our dear friends, Brian and Lois, moved into our third bedroom while raising support for their mission work in Nepal. We also started to get really plugged in at our parish and starting making some wonderful Catholic friends, something we’d never had before, including my friend Colleen who has been such an encouragement to me this year.


I turned 26 this month and started to have Braxton-Hicks contractions all the time. My due date was October 13th but we were sure she wouldn’t wait so long to come since I was already dilated…we ended up waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. I did some pretty nutty nesting to get ready for our sweet girl and we rearranged the house to prepare for her arrival. My friend Erin was visiting for a couple of weeks and kept me distracted with Downton Abbey.


We had a scare when Benjamin caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease (a mild illness for toddler but dangerous for newborn if the mother has been exposed). He had to be quarantined away from me at Marmee’s house for over a week. Thankfully, I didn’t catch it and neither did Lucy when she FINALLY arrived almost two weeks past her due date and met her incredibly proud big brother:

I love this picture so much, despite the fact that I’m still so puffy from late pregnancy and labor. I think Benjamin’s expression is precious and he’s been just as sweet and gentle with his sister each day since.

And SHE. Well…we’re so in love her. From day one she has been the most precious and sweet of babies. She’s so easy, so adorable. So happy and smiley and SLEEPY. Praise God.


We started learning how to live life as a four-person family. Sleep-deprived and full of joy, we celebrated Lucy’s baptism and the anniversary of Benjamin’s baptism.

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house with Daniel’s folks, my folks and brother, and some dear friends.


In late November and December we were all pretty miserably ill with colds and sinus/throat/ear/eye infections. Even sweet Lucygirl. But it’s still been a wonderful Advent and Christmas. Having two precious babes is a gift I am thankful for every minute.

Can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store…Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Ero Cras
December 24, 2011, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Advent, Children, Christmas | Tags: , , , , ,








ERO CRAS: I will be there tomorrow.

I love a good old timey Latin Advent acrostic!

We are having a relaxing Christmas Eve day before going to my folks house for Christmas Eve dinner.

Our sweet boy has been dying to put the ornaments on the tree for weeks and will be so excited for the chance to decorate it tonight. Tomorrow we will eat cinnamon rolls, light the Christ Candle in the center of our Advent wreath, go to Christmas Mass, and then spend the afternoon with food and presents at Daniel’s parents house. I’m so grateful we’re not traveling one bit!

I’m so excited for Lucy’s first Christmas! She is the happiest and sweetest of babies and I can’t get enough of her precious baby scent and amazingly goofy smiles. I cover her little face with kisses all day and night.

She’s getting nice and chubby!

“Every baby is the sweetest and the best.” Name that quote.


Advent/Christmas Books and Music
December 14, 2011, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Advent, Books, Christmas

Since Benjamin was born I’ve tried to collect books and music that are special for Advent and Christmas. My mom was always very intentional about Advent even though my parents are Protestant and we always listened to special music and had an Advent wreath. Here are some of our favorites:


Handel’s Messiah: This is the music that I remember listening to the most during Advent and Christmas as a child. I think we even had a record of it before the digital age. Since I was 8 years old, my mom and I would always attend try to the Tallahassee Messiah Sing, a December tradition at a local church where the attendees are the impromptu chorus (we’re always in the Alto section). I’m 26 now so that’s a lot of Messiah Sing-Alongs. I missed a few years but…still…we can Hallelujah Chorus with the best of ’em. This is really a MUST HAVE Advent and Christmas album. The music is simply incredible and the biblical readings used as the lyrics are so beautifully woven together. I also love that it includes songs about the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Advent is, after all, a little Lent. And the Incarnation and the Crucifixion/Resurrection are parts of one story.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: I just discovered this one this year when Daniel and I took Lucy to see this performed a few weeks ago when we needed to get out of the house after some new baby cabin fever. Sweet girl slept through the whole thing and we loved it. It’s made of six cantatas that were performed beginning on Christmas Day up to Epiphany. It’s really great. I do love me some Bach.

photo by Denny Renshaw from

Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas: A compilation of EPs of Christmas songs Sufjan recorded as Christmas presents for his friends. I first heard one of these amazing tunes in 2003(?) and then listened to them nonstop when they were released five or six years ago. There are some beautiful versions of some of my favorites: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” as well as some of Sufjan’s original Christmas songs (some of which are amazing and some are…eh.) I start listening to this album as soon as it’s Advent because I can’t make myself wait until Christmas and rationalize it because there are a couple of Advent songs.


The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola: I love Tomie dePaola and I love this Old English Christmas carol. Daniel’s mom got us this for Christmas two years ago and it’s still one of Benjamin’s very favorite books. The illustrations are gorgeous and now we’ve all memorized the song which Benjamin frequently requests at bedtime.

George Balanchine’s The Nutracker: I love the beautiful photographs and Benjamin is a little bit obsessed with Drosselmeier. “Isn’t Drosselmeier WEIRD?!” he’ll ask/tell me.

The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma: Daniel and Benjamin brought this one home from the library the other day and I think it’s absolutely precious. It’s about a little girl’s first year in a ballet company and her first Nutcracker

A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder: A collection of Christmas stories from the Little House books. Benjamin isn’t quite ready for this one yet but I can’t wait til he is. Because I love Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger: I don’t own this one yet but I need to add it to my wishlist. My friend Marianna showed this one to me when I was pregnant with Benjamin and I’ve meant to find a copy ever since. It’s about the donkey that carries the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bethlehem. It’s so lovely.

Jingle, the Christmas Clown by Tomie dePaola: Another Tomie dePaola. This one’s about a little clown in an Italian circus. It’s precious and there’s a recipe for special Christmas cookies in the back that I plan on making this year with Benjamin.

The Mitten by Jan Brett: I love Jan Brett’s illustrations so much. This one isn’t really about Christmas, just winter. We actually need to buy a new copy of this one because when Benjamin was a baby he drooled over this one so much that it completely fell apart.

Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett: Same story with this one. Not a Christmas tale but lots of snow.

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson: This was Benjamin’s favorite favorite book for the longest time. And I still like it after reading it a million billion gazillion times. Like the Brett books I mentioned, it’s just a winter book.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson: A new one that some sweet friends gave Benjamin at Thanksgiving. I really like it and so does he.

What is your favorite music for Advent? For Christmas? What books do you like to read? Which ones do you read to your kids? We want to know!

The 12 Days of Christmas
December 10, 2011, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Christmas

As part of our attempt to make Advent and Christmas distinct seasons in our household, we want to celebrate each of the 12 days of Christmas and save fun holiday traditions until then. But I need your help because I’m having trouble coming up with TWELVE things to do.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Christmas Eve: Decorate the tree! (We have lights on the tree now but haven’t put any ornaments on. Benjamin is very excited about the idea of making popcorn garlands and putting candy canes on the tree. I think this is mostly because he wants to eat them.) Also, have special dinner at my parents’ house.

Day 1: Christmas Morning: Presents at Daniel’s parents’ house and then Mass (not sure which we’ll do first, depends on the Mass schedule).

Day 2: Make a Gingerbread House. (Probably a simple Graham Cracker one this year like this one.)

Day 3: Make Snowflakes out of paper to decorate or paper stars like this one.

Day 4: Go to Oven Park to see the Christmas lights.

Day 5: Go to LeMoyne Art Gallery (all decorated for Christmas.)

Day 6: Make Christmas cookies.

Day 7: Watch The Grinch or another toddler friendly Christmas movie. Maybe Benjamin would be up for Elf? I guess we could watch Elf another night if we run out of holiday fun ideas.

Day 8-11? Gimme some ideas!

Day 12: Make a King Cake and celebrate Epiphany!

And here’s some pictures of sweet Lucy from last weekend when we took her to her first Christmas party:

That little smile just slays me! She is doing so well and being so sweet. What a little darling we’ve been given. She still vomits constantly but she doesn’t seem remotely upset by it and she’s gaining weight at an alarming rate (probably because she nurses constantly). Her cradle cap is getting out of control though. I’m trying to put olive oil on it and gently scrub her scalp with a soft toothbrush. Any other advice, mamas?