Monday, December 30, 2013

What I *Mostly* Read in 2013


I didn't do a very good job at keeping track of what I read towards the end of this I'm pretty sure this is not an all encompassing list and although it's numbered, the second half is really in no particular order at all.........

I know, I know, you can hardly stand the suspense. Here is the list of *most* of what I read this year:
  1. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by La Leche League International
  2. The Blue Castle, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  3. 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help, by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D.
  4. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, by Dr. Laura Markham
  5. Lark Rise to Candleford, by Flora Thompson
  6. From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy, by Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara
  7. Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home, by Susan Hill
  8. The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald
  9. All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew
  10. Month-By-Month Gardening in Florida, by Tom MacCubbin
  11. Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, by Ginny Stibolt and Melissa Contreras
  12. The Flying Inn, by GK Chesterton
  13. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
  14. The Three R's, by Ruth Beechick
  15. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
  16. David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  17. What's Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Childhood Ailments, by Kelly Dorfman
  18. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  19. Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
  20. Manalive, by G.K. Chesterton
  21. What Are People For?, by Wendell Berry
  22. Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir, by Agatha Christie
  23. The Catholic Guide to Depression, Aaron Kheriaty
  24. The Light of Faith: Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis
  25. The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry
  26. The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton
  27. Crooked House, by Agatha Christie
  28. Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, by Elizabeth Scalia
  29. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, by Toni Weschler
  30. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, by Neil Postman
  31. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck
  32. The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey
  33. The Seven Dials Mystery, by Agatha Christie
  34. Postern of Fate, by Agatha Christie
  35. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
  36. Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly, by Susan V. Vogt
  37. The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, Ph.D.

Also here are our Grown Up Read Alouds (aka what my husband read to me before/while I fell asleep):

  1. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth, by Ralph C. Wood
  2. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

I would recommend all of these books--I suppose with the exception of Code Name Verity which I read for a book club and didn't care for.  I just couldn't get past the whole WWII female pilot/spy no one batting an eye part and I really disliked the fact that no one questioned the choices made in the end. 

I don't think I could pick one favorite non-fiction book this year, but at the top list would be Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, and Neil Postman and I'm certain I'll be reading more of them all in 2014.    

If I had to pick a favorite work of fiction I think I'd go with David Copperfield although I've developed an Agatha Christie habit that is beginning to get out of control as can be seen by my favorite Christmas present.......

I feel as though I should make a public apology to Dame Christie--I never wanted to read her work because somewhere along the way I likened Agatha Christie mysteries to those of Mary Higgins Clark and completely dismissed them (I guess because they were both women and they both wrote mysteries?).  Then I watched an episode of Poirot....then I watched every episode of Poirot, and when I ran out of those I watched every Miss Marple episode and movie I could find......and then (it's actually really embarrassing how long this whole process took) I thought to myself "if I think these are all amazing surely the books must be even better?"  So finally, I went on a quest for a good mystery and grabbed a book at random at our used book store and brought it home.  It was Come, Tell Me How You Live, which--in case you are as deficient as I in Agatha Christie knowledge--is not a mystery at all but a memoir of a trip to the Middle East.  After I got over my initial confusion I loved it and I guess it should be in my top non-fiction list too :)  Also, I think I should add early twentieth century travel journals to my list of things to read more of in 2014.....does anyone have any suggestions?  I would especially like it if they involved long train rides across Europe and lots of tea drinking in the dining cars.....copious amounts of knitting optional.   

PS This post includes affiliate links :)

PPS In case you've read this far and are severely disappointed in the lack of pictures of adorable children here you go.......

The boys have been playing "book seller" with the baby's new wagon which is............precious :)

Pop over to Carrots for Michaelmas to check out more book lists!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Merry Blurry Christmas

As per usual, almost the entirety of my pictures of Christmas morning came out my defense those boys of mine are on hyper light speed when it comes time to open presents.....and they get up before the sunrise so it's super dark.  Maybe this year will be the year of mastering my camera in less than ideal light situations.  I did manage to get some pictures of things that were standing still though :)

The first thing Henry said upon seeing the stockings this morning was, "Do you think Santa brought me more chocolate coins?!?"  Why yes, Henry, I think he just may have......Really all Henry wants out of Christmas is candy and a couple of books.  David on the other hand, well David wants presents, lots and lots of presents :)

I painted a canvas car mat of our neighborhood for the boys and it turned out really well.  Currently it can't compete` with the three new boxes of legos but I'm pretty sure it's going to hold its own once the excitement of getting ALLTHETOYS wears off ;)

John Michael loves pushing around his walker wagon, and it took the big boys about ten seconds to realize that they could push John Michael in it as well for double the walker wagon fun.

Henry has restocked his arsenal and was running around all morning with a sword in one hand and a cap gun in the other fighting every invisible bad guy in sight.

While David was mostly just a blur running through the pictures on his way to the next present......

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On Christmas Eve

Right now Chris is at midnight mass or I guess more accurately eight o'clock mass and I am home with the two children who would not have made it through.  Santa can't come yet since little Henry may arrive home awake, as unlikely as that is so I thought I'd share pictures of our Christmas Eve so far :)

Christmas cookies were made with this amazing sugar cookie recipe and this icing.  They turned out really well considering the helpfulness level of the boys and the fact that Henry felt the need to nibble off various parts of every cookie he decorated......

We had some friends over for dinner and then the plan was for us all to head over to mass together in our coordinating outfits and come back to our house afterwards to celebrate.  About halfway through dinner I realized that our plan was going to fail miserably....or rather, I was going to be miserable wrangling my minions through what promised to be a very long I made the executive decision to stay home with the boys while Chris went on ahead.  Henry insisted that he really wanted to go to mass with daddy though so...I guess we'll see how that went when he gets home :)

I did get some  lovely photos before things really got crazy here.......

Chris calls this look "business on the top, party on the bottom."  I'm pretty sure he got two weeks of convalescence leave simply because it will take two weeks to be able to wear his uniform pants again.  His incision corresponds almost exactly to the placement his waistband....Don't worry, he did put on pants to go to mass--they're unbuttoned and held up loosely with a belt and a prayer.

Well, as you can see, there's at least one person around these parts who is beside himself with excitement that Christmas is finally here, even if he couldn't join the menfolk at church :)

Merry Christmas to you all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Post Op

Well Chris' surgery went well and now he's convalescing quietly in our room.  And by convalescing I mean napping and watching movies by himself on his iphone that he isn't allowed to watch in our living room with me because they are of a disturbing and/or action/adventure nature.  

My biggest advice for taking your husband in for a hernia operation would have to be to not bring your baby along.  Trust me, he will not be amused.  

He may however really scare some ICU nurses when he plays his favorite game of try to run as fast as you can to get through the automatic doors before they close and then proceeds to scream, cry and bang on the doors when he doesn't make it......again (because he was just so sure that this time was going to be the time and he would finally make it to that unknown paradise that lay just beyond those irksome doors).  The nurses might come running to the door horrified, knowing that the only thing that would make a child screech at that particular decibel would be that his precious little hands had been completely crushed.  "No, no," they would need to be reassured through the glass, "he's just really angry........"

It was a rough morning filled with no naps and thwarted dreams of climbing into elevators and playing in biohazard containers.

Poor little dear.

Now we get to move on to Chris' recovery which includes not lifting anything over twenty pounds for the next six weeks--which happens to be the magic number that excludes him from lifting any of our current children.  And probably the trash can.

This should be fun.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Preparations

Every Advent I tell myself that this year I'm not going to go crazy with the Christmas decorations until closer to Christmas, you know, building up the anticipation and all.  I have this dream of trimming the tree on Christmas Eve while the children are sleeping so that when they wake up on Christmas morning they have that Yours, Mine and Ours moment of peeping over the banister (in my dream, along with more holiday patience we also have a second floor with a very grand staircase), seeing the tree all decked out and yelling "he's been here, he's been here, Santa Clause has been here!" while waking up the rest of the house to join in on all the merrymaking.

We'd also all sing carols around the piano but that's a whole other dream involving actually owning a piano, knowing how to play it, and to sing. 

Well, this is not the year for my holiday dreams to come true.  I mostly blame Pinterest. And the fact that I really like our tree and all of our special ornaments......

We've been adding a family picture ornament each year and it's really fun to look at them all and wonder how we were ever so young...... in old are we here--fifteen?  Just look at my husband's baby face!

We really don't have much in the way of other decorations.  I've been paring them down to things that have some actual sentimental value and are worth moving every two years and also we don't have a ton of extra space for display.  Really though, no matter where you are in our house you are only three steps away from being able to see the Christmas tree, so the other rooms don't need decorating, right?  :)

I did get a little fancy with my cardboard though, and a bunch of scrap tree branches we picked up when we bought our tree.

I think I'm most excited with the jingle bell garland I made a la Pottery Barn.  Since we don't have a mantle, I strung it across the window, as per usual.  One perk to waiting to decorate is that you find crazy deals on Christmas decorations at all the stores--my jingle bells and ribbon were already on clearance two weeks before Christmas.  At those prices, I let the boys each pick out an ornament too and I also may have grabbed a little raccoon ornament to which Chris replied, upon seeing it on the tree, "I'm never going to live it down and I?"  No, no sweetheart, you're not :)

In other Christmas news, I attempted a second photo shoot of the boys for this year's ornament (the first shoot for our Christmas cards did not yield any pictures of all three children looking pleasantly in the same general direction--so if you're on our Christmas card list be on the look out for another awkward Reintjes' family photo--you. are. welcome.)

This time this was the winner:

I'll just let you imagine what the rest must have looked least  no one was crying this year!

For some reason this one just won't sit still to have his picture taken.

And in other, even more exciting Christmas news, grandma Reintjes shamed Chris into putting up our Christmas lights even though he didn't want to because this year the base is charging us for electricity if we use more of it than four of our neighbors do (don't ask, it's complicated--and also annoying).  On the positive side, once our neighbors saw that we put up our lights, they all put theirs up too--probably because they know their energy usage will most definitely be safely below ours.  Oh well, it's almost Christmas and the house is most definitely cheerful, if not super Advent-y!

Don't the icicle lights really set off our palm tree?

Now, I really need to go work on addressing those cards....and guarding the tree from the baby......and maybe next year I'll have that staircase and piano and all my Christmas dreams will finally come true......

And on a completely different note, Chris is going in for surgery this Thursday to repair a hernia so please send your prayers our way!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chairs are for Toppling........

It appears that nothing is safe.  Now along with constant worries of surprise Christmas tree attacks, I also have to worry about every stool and low lying piece of furniture......

Aunt Kate's predictions have come true.  He's a climber.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

We almost missed it, but daddy remembered at the last minute and the children awoke to shoes filled with chocolate coins and candy canes as well as a fairly random assortment of new Christmas books that St. Nicholas may or may not have picked up at the library seconds sale........

I've been praying the St. Andrew novena this Advent and if you haven't started it you should really jump on in!  Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things perfectly sums up everything you need to know, she says:
You know, I never pray the novena perfectly. Every year I miss days. I fall asleep. I forget. I'm human, after all, and so are you.
It's easy to slip into superstitious thinking, but we are Christians- we are not superstitious people. Chanting a prayer fifteen times a day for four weeks does not unlock some secret power or cause God to change His will.
Prayer doesn't change God at all. It changes us.
I've found this to be perfectly true already.  I began the novena fervently praying for my own intentions and now already my intentions don't seem as important as they did last week.  The prayer has become a meditation preparing my heart for Christmas and heaven knows I needed that.
Steeping ourselves in the Christmas novena helps us remember to trust that He is who He says He is. When we quiet our hearts and our worries long enough to ponder the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold, we are made ready for the miracle of Christmas.
Go read the whole thing!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Candles are for Rolling

We are a little off our Advent game this year with Thanksgiving and the first day of Advent being so close together (although I probably shouldn't be complaining knowing what those of you celebrating Thanksgivukkah had to accomplish).

We did manage to get our Advent wreath up and running in time for the second day of Advent though and I pulled out the nativities and Christmas books, so even if we don't accomplish anything else this season I can still feel pretty good :)

I ended up buying this Advent candle making kit and the boys loved it.  Well, David loved it.  Henry said he wanted to make the pink candle and when it was time for him to do it he said he wanted to play with the nativity angels instead.

I asked him if he was sure.

He assured me that he was.

I asked him if David could make his candle instead.

He said that yes, David should make his candle.

After David finished rolling the candle and we assembled the wreath Henry burst into an hysterical crying fit sobbing, that he thought he might have "told a lie" and that he really did want to make a candle.  It didn't end well, but I assured him that if we needed to make another candle before Advent was over he could roll that one.  It looks like the kit has enough to get through two and a half Advents or so, factoring in the occasional need to replace that first purple candle that burns the longest so I'm sure he'll get his chance--whether he takes it or not is another story......

In other really exciting and interesting news, I went to a cookie exchange this weekend and I won the prize for "most tasty" cookies--well I suppose great grandma Haigh's easy and delicious raspberry thumbprint recipe had more to do with it than my baking skills, but the prize was a new apron and I am in love with it! I pretty much snatched it out of our lovely hostess's hands before the other winner could choose it as her prize because I am gracious like that.

These were all that was left of the cookies the next morning.  You'll notice I did not win any prizes for prettiest cookie........

And in case you are interested, but mostly because I already typed it up for the party anyway........

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies:                                                                      Glaze:

2/3 cup sugar                                                               1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter                                                  1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. vanilla                                                                2-3 tsp. water
2 cups flour
½ cup raspberry jam


Combine sugar, butter, vanilla and beat at medium speed until creamy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour until mixed well. 

Cover and chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Shape into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Make an indentation with your thumb in the center of each cookie and fill with ½ tsp. of raspberry jam. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350˚ (don’t over bake!).  Cool for one minute on the pan and remove to cooling rack. 

Once cool, make the glaze by mixing powdered sugar, vanilla and water and drizzle it over the cookies.

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