7 Quick Takes Friday: (Please No) Having a Baby in a Blizzard Edition (Vol. 39)

Seven Quick Takes Friday


This week’s 7 Quick Takes starts just like last week’s: Tired mama falls asleep on the sofa at a ridiculously early hour, wakes near midnight, and promptly experiences a burst of energy that she feels she should take advantage of.

So here we are. One o’clock AM blogging, it’s nice to see you again.

[Random note: I just sneezed and I think it scared the (still in utero) baby. She seemed to jump and stretch there for a second. I wonder if she did that funny little startle reflex thing?]


Apparently this has been 2016’s Week of Freaking Out in Anticipation of Snow. My region – the Mid-Atlantic – seems to have one of these every few years. This edition has us preparing to be snowed in against the wilds of a 36-hour snowstorm/blizzard that could bring 20-30 inches of accumulation, 40-50 mph winds, white-out conditions, widespread power outages, and… thundersnow. (Yes, thundersnow.)

Sounds like fun, hm?


Normally, I’m that damned-by-others sort who stands in the face of such dangers and says, “Bring it on!” But this year I happen to be approaching my 39th week of pregnancy. So I’m a little nervous.

I’m not super nervous: I’ve never fully gone into labor on my own. My first and third children were induced and I required Pitocin to get contractions going with my second. So it’s not like I have some history of sudden, fast, or early labors.

But this is my fourth baby. And we do live 45 minutes from the hospital in ideal conditions, up a long, steep driveway that we’ve gotten stuck on more times than I can count.

And there was that second labor, when my water broke ten days before my due date. Ten days before this baby’s due date… was yesterday.


I’ve been voicing my fears about this blizzard/baby combo on social media, but of course. And it was funny to see yesterday that I was quoted, via one of my blog-page Facebook posts, in a Reuters article on women who are worried about giving birth during the blizzard. Here’s the post that the reporter took notice of:

It’s 11 days shy of my due date with baby #4, 1 day shy of the earliest I’ve ever gone into labor, 15 days shy of the latest I’ve ever been induced, and 2 days before we’re supposed to get a potentially record-breaking blizzard.

I’m vascillating between thinking this is no big deal and freaking out because GOOD LORD, WHAT WILL I DO IF I GO INTO LABOR IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLIZZARD?!


I’m a little less nervous about that happening than I was, because we’re actually pretty well prepared at this point: We have plenty of food (so much that I plan to spend part of the weekend preparing meals to freeze for after the baby comes). My husband is taking off work today to (among other things) get the snow thrower all gassed up and ready. Our neighbors (who have some large snow-removal equipment) are prepared to help us keep our driveway clear. A friend who regularly drives emergency personnel in snowstorms has offered to drive me to the hospital if need be. And – here’s the kicker – my parents are coming to get snowed in with us. (They’re even bringing salt for the driveway, a 4-wheel-drive truck, and maybe a generator!)

As one of my girlfriends pointed out to me, there’s no way I’ll go into labor when I have my parents here to help.


I had another ob appointment and sono this week, and I thought the reactions to my “Hey, I’m a little nervous about having the baby in this snowstorm” concern were pretty funny.

On Tuesday, my obstetrician was clueless: “Oh, is it supposed to snow?” (Wouldn’t you think that folks in her line of work would need to be a little more aware of such things?!)

On Wednesday, the nurses in the sono department seemed to think the whole situation was pretty funny: “And Saturday is a full moon!” they laughed. “Once we had a woman who the ambulance hadn’t been able to reach because her street wasn’t plowed, so her neighbors put her on a sled and pulled her down to the main road!”

It’s good to receive such sympathetic responses from medical professionals.


To give you a sense of what we have to work with at our house, here are a couple of pics from the winter of 2013-14, when we had several “big” snows (but nothing like what we’re expecting this weekend).

Here is the upper part of our driveway – the part that’s all gravel, and mostly flat.

These Walls - 7QT39 - 1

And here’s part of the lower, steeper part of our driveway – the part that’s paved, but which we get stuck on all the time. (Yes, the van + Christmas tree are stuck in this photo.)

These Walls - 7QT39 - 2

Also, for good measure, here’s a snowy view off our front porch.

These Walls - 7QT39 - 2

People keep asking me how I feel about all of it. Physically, I feel pretty well. Though I continue to have lots of little contractions all the time, that’s not unusual for me, and I’m nowhere near as uncomfortable as I was at the end of some of my other pregnancies. So I really don’t think I’ll be going into labor this weekend. In all likelihood, this whole thing is No Big Deal. It’s just that if I do go into labor, it suddenly becomes a Very, Very Big Deal.

This is going to be fun! (I’ll keep you posted.)


Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Stop over there to check out the rest!

Thanksgiving Eve

This morning I sit surrounded by unexpected, soft quiet. From the corner of my eye, I see our first snow of the season. It falls fast and thick. My boys are entranced, and so am I.



How soothing that this lovely blanket has come to fall upon us, covering our unraked leaves and the toys my boys leave scattered behind our house. It smoothes our roughness, disguises our messes. It insulates us. And when we glance at our windows and see only a mottled span of white and gray, somehow the space inside our home seems softer and smoother too.


Of course, we don’t have to drive in it. We’re snug indoors, ready to commence the prepping and the baking for tomorrow. Butternut squash, onions, cranberries, cherries, and chocolate – they all lie in wait.

But I have a few minutes to think and pray on the things and people for whom I am grateful – and I’ll take them. I know how blessed I’ve been.

I have a lively, loving, little family and a big, beautiful home. I have an extended family who support and love and even entertain. I have layer upon layer of good, smart, interesting friends: The few I’ve known since childhood; those I acquired in high school and college, in Washington and Annapolis; those I’ve worked with and prayed with; those alongside whom I’m raising my children. I even have some I’ve never met in person: lovely, kind women I know through blogging and long, thoughtful emails.


We have sufficient heating oil and plentiful food. We have electricity and too many clothes. We have peace in our home and our community.

Layer upon layer of goodness.

And I know, of course, that there are far too many people who do not have these particular blessings. Loneliness, hunger, cold, unrest and violence visit too, too many. So alongside my gratitude, I think of and pray for them. For those who long for families of their own, who struggle to provide for the families they have, who suffer violence, who live in fear.

If you’re among them, know that you’re in my prayers.

And whether you are among them or you’re not, I hope that you too get a few soft, quiet moments in which to sit. I hope that this Thanksgiving, you feel the weight of your own particular blessings. And I hope that your blessings do nothing but increase in the coming seasons of Advent and Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, from me and mine.


Let’s Just Pretend…

Let’s just pretend, shall we, that the week ahead will not look like this:



Rather, let’s imagine that March actually means Spring, and that the following will be waiting for us tomorrow when we open our doors:











I can almost feel it, smell it, hear it, can’t you? Open windows, warm breezes… shoots breaking through the dirt… blossoms on the trees… hyacinth, tulips, lilacs… the smell of new, damp grass… the sound of little children laughing outside (as in, NOT cooped up indoors)…

It’s it amazing?

Let’s just hold on to those images for a bit. Maybe they’ll help keep us warm.


This is post six of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge at Conversion Diary. Stop there to check out the hundreds of other bloggers who are also participating.

Greetings From the Land of Nod… Nod… Nodding Off

Hello, friends – I’ve been meaning to write. Actually, I have been writing. Every day. For, like, a solid five minutes at a time before my vision blurs and my eyelids droop. For weeks now, my evening writing sessions have looked something like this:

Julie, sitting at the kitchen table: Ugh. My hips hurt. My old, pregnant body can’t sit on this hard chair much longer. I’d better go sit on the sofa.

Julie, sitting on the sofa: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

Other than my evening sleepiness, I was doing rather well with this third-trimester-of-my-third-pregnancy, until a week ago. Monday the 10th, I was feeling decently energetic and healthy. I was beginning to feel that I’d gotten really lucky this time around, because I was far more perky than I remembered being in either of my two previous pregnancies.

Needless to say, that feeling came to an abrupt end on Tuesday the 11th. Come midday, I was pretty much useless. I think I spent most of the afternoon on the sofa with the boys, watching Cars and Planes and dozing off and on until the boys finally pestered me enough to get me into the kitchen to make them dinner.

Thus has the pattern been ever since: Julie has a modest amount of energy in the mornings. Julie crashes hard after lunch. Julie just about blacks out come 6pm.

I'm really very lucky that my boys don't yet know how to operate a camera.

I’m really very lucky that my boys don’t yet know how to operate a camera.

But, my dear blog, how I’ve missed you. Through the haze of third-trimester fatigue, I’ve sincerely tried to write something comprehensible. Unfortunately, my scattered thoughts and weak attempts at writing have felt much like trying to put together a 500-piece puzzle by pouring the pieces into a pile on the floor.

So, photos. I think I can manage some photos. And updates: I’ve got two blogging-related updates to share. Two is do-able, right?

If you can stay awake for it, Julie.

If you can stay awake for it, Julie.

First, I’m going to The Edel Gathering! It’s a weekend conference/get-away aimed at Catholic mothers. Edel, which is being organized by Jen Fulwiler and Hallie Lord (the bloggers at Conversion Diary and Moxie Wife, respectively) will be held in Austin, Texas in late July. (Yes, I realize that the weather will be HOT.) It looks like most of my favorite bloggers will be there, along with lots of other terrific ladies. I am very, very much looking forward to it. (!!!) Are you going? If so, please let me know!

By late July, of course, I will have a bouncing three-month-old baby boy needing my constant attention, so he’ll be coming along for the ride. (Thank goodness for event organizers who take nursing babies’ needs into account.) I think having baby in tow at Edel itself will be fine, but I admit to some nerves regarding getting there and back. Do you have any tips for flying solo with an infant? Really, the things I’m thinking about most are (1) whether to bring a stroller through the airport (con: wrangling a large piece of equipment onto and off of the plane; pro: having somewhere to put the baby when I need to use the restroom) and (2) the restroom thing. Seriously, if you don’t bring a stroller with you, what are you supposed to do with baby while you use the restroom? I might feel comfortable enough to leave my baby with a fellow passenger while we’re in the air, but almost certainly would not in an airport.

The last time I flew with a little one.

The last time I flew with a little one.

I’ve never had to do it alone, though.

Second, just as she did last summer, Jen Fulwiler is hosting another Epic Blogging Challenge. It’s scheduled to run from next Monday the 24th through Sunday, March the 2nd. Despite nearly every word in this post, I’m going to give it a try. I certainly have lots of ideas running through my tired brain – now to figure out which are simple enough to pound out before I pass out.

You know, like this.

You know, like this.

I think it’s time for the obligatory snow photos. We did, after all, get a whopping 18 inches last Thursday.






And now for our decadent Valentine’s Day breakfast, courtesy of a care package from Grandma: red velvet pancakes with vanilla/cream cheese icing. I added the sprinkles for extra festivity, even if I only had blue to offer.






Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to lounge on the sofa for another viewing of Cars.

Sorry -- I have hundreds of these.

Sorry — I have hundreds of these.

{phfr} In One Snowy Shot: {pretty, happy, funny, real} Vol. 9

We’re in the thick of it here. We woke to about a foot of fresh snow, with expectations that the storm will keep it up through the rest of the day. Every window we look out of, we see one breath-taking view after another.

I declare the following snowy scene to be {pretty, happy, funny, real}, all in one shot.



This one hardly needs an explanation, does it? It’s just… pretty.


We have two small boys who are going to be beyond happy to play in all this fluffy whiteness today — if they can lift their little legs high enough to walk through it.

Also, there’s just something happy about being hunkered down during a big snowstorm, isn’t there? The outside world expects nothing from you, so you can just tend to your own home, your family, perhaps some delicious baking or a project you’ve set aside… And everyone’s home! (Because they hardly have another option, do they?)


You can barely discern it in this picture, but we have a six-foot drop off the patio in front of this porch. From our upstairs windows, I couldn’t see it at all. I find it so funny that this feature, which is normally so glaringly obvious, is almost totally obscured by something as simple as snow.

There’s also a yellow bucket obscured by the snow somewhere out there (with another in the back yard). They’re remnants of the boys’ play last time it snowed. Perhaps we’ll find them sometime this spring!

Also, yes, that’s our Moravian star still up. All of our Christmas decorations (including our crispy, crunchy, saggy tree!) are still up. Perhaps I should make THAT task my project for today…


As happy as I am (and really, as thrilled as the boys will be) to have my husband home with us today, his presence is increasingly ‘real’ with every snow day that passes. We’re to have a baby in just under two months and paid leave doesn’t just grow on trees, you know? So, winter, could you please get it all out of your system with today’s fabulous snow storm? Drop feet of the white stuff, kick up the wind… I don’t care. Just let this one be the last one. I’d kind of like my hubby home with us when baby boy #3 makes his appearance. Thanks. — Me

pretty happy funny real[1]

Stop on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to take a look at more {pretty, happy, funny, real} this week. And enjoy the snow!

Five Favorites (Vol. 4): ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas


We’ve now officially got LESS THAN ONE WEEK before Christmas. And (don’t let the caps lock fool you), I’m actually not sweating it.

Sure, I’ve still got half of my shopping left to do, all of my wrapping, my tree to finish decorating, all of my other Christmas decorating to do, my cards to send out (once they arrive, that is!), my food contributions to our family parties to figure out, my own Christmas meals to plan, a snack for my son’s school party to make… and a pedicure to fit in before my gift certificate (last year’s Christmas present) expires.

So, I should totally be sweating it. (Except for the pedicure part.)

But I’m not! This year, I am – and I can’t believe I can say this without rolling my eyes – actually enjoying the run-up to Christmas and even feeling peaceful about it. Thank the Lord! (Seriously – thank you, Lord.) I definitely feel like my lack of anxiety this season has been a blessing from above and has had very little to do with my own actions. It certainly has nothing to do with my level of preparation.

Rather, I have a feeling that the following simple favorites from this week have contributed to my Christmasy peace and joy:




We’re not used to getting December snow in this part of the country, so the whole “White Christmas” thing is usually just a fantasy. (Come Christmas Day, it likely will be again: after getting up to a balmy 66 degrees on Sunday, we should enjoy a nice, cool 40 degrees on Christmas.) However, we’ve had snow covering the ground here for a week-and-a-half, and it’s done so much to put me in the Christmas mindset. It’s just so easy to get excited about Christmas when you’ve got snow-covered evergreens and hollies to look at every day.



Breakfast with Santa

On Saturday, Brennan and I took the boys to our parish’s Breakfast with Santa. It was our little family’s first and I think I might have been more excited for it than the boys were. It’s yet another one of those things that makes me pinch myself: Do I really have my own little family now? Are my boys really big enough to understand and enjoy such things? It was such a joy. The parish put on a lovely breakfast, Mrs. Claus read stories to the children, there was a craft center, they circulated a Happy Birthday to Jesus card for the kids to sign, there were some child-sized cardboard nativity figures for little ones to check out, and of course there was The Man himself. My 3-year-old happily sat on Santa’s lap, but was a little quiet and shy about telling him what he’s really hoping for (a guitar). And of course, the 2-year-old wanted nothing to do with Santa.



Our Christmas Tree

As long as it takes me to decorate a large Christmas tree, I just love doing it. There are few things that relax me as much as, one by one, unwrapping years’ worth of Christmas ornaments and finding the perfect spots for them on our tree. The memories, the lights, the smell, the (if I’m lucky) Christmas music in the background… it’s dreamy. And I have to admit, I’m a little greedy about it. I’ve been doing the whole tree by myself since I was a teenager. I don’t like to be rushed through it, so if people are just willing to leave me be, we’re all happy campers. Over the past couple of years I’ve acquired a bunch of child-friendly (mostly fabric) ornaments. This year I set them aside and let the boys go to town placing them (and removing them… and replacing them…) on the lowest branches. I expect the year will come when they’ll want to (and be able to) do more, but for now, this is the perfect arrangement for us.


Driving Around to Look at Christmas Lights

Monday night, I fed the boys their dinner at a decent hour, Brennan came home from work a little early, we got the boys suited up in their pajamas, and we all loaded into the car. We spent an hour driving around, looking at Christmas lights. It. Was. Lovely. Peering out on the ice and snow from our warm car, looking at the thousands of lights in all their joyful/beautiful/tacky glory, hearing the boys’ “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” and cries of “My side!” or “My hide!” as they spotted one decked-out house after another… It was priceless. Too often, my husband and I tend to focus on productivity in our “free” time (we’re the getting-stuff-done type on the weekends, not the doing-fun-stuff type). It was so nice to take a little break, get out of the house for an hour, and just enjoy being together.



Everyone wants to be really, really close to Baby Jesus.

Nativity Play

The other day, our sister-in-law sent a lovely little set of nativity figurines for the boys to play with. As I took them out of the box, I explained to the boys the meaning of each piece and its place in the nativity story. I moved the figures around to act out the story and I reviewed with the boys who each figure represented. They got a real kick out of it. They already had the Little People set and enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’d ever physically acted out the story with them. Now, I keep finding them playing with their nativity figurines and – maybe I’m imagining it, but – there seems to be more meaning to that play than there was before. It’s a real delight to witness.


Enjoy this last week of Advent, everyone. Good luck with your Christmas preparations and don’t forget to do a little “soaking up” of the beauty in this season. (Also, stop on over to Hallie’s for more Five Favorites!)

{pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 6): Snow, (Non) Advent, and Christmas-a-Coming

With Advent upon us and Christmas coming and unseasonably early snowy weather here in the Mid-Atlantic, it seems that this week I have an inordinate number of things to file under {real}. But I’m sure I can dig up some {pretty, happy, and funny} too.

And with a half-dozen half-finished posts open on my computer right now, another that would have been finished if I hadn’t fallen asleep with the thing on my lap last night, and this one written during my new favorite (4am) mid-sleep wakeful hour, I have few words to give to this {pretty, happy, funny, real}. Which is just as well.









My oh my, does he LOVE the snow!


This little guy, however, prefers to be warm and dry.



Yes, I made the boys a flying race car. I have my moments.



Apologies to all you mommas with children who don’t sleep. Mine seem to be perpetually stuck in the “sleep anywhere” phase. I’m sure I have hundreds of sleeping-in-places-other-than-their-beds photos. But even this, THIS was a first — sleeping on your brother. The little one awoke with an “Off me!”


As I mentioned the other day, we picked up our Christmas tree in the middle of our first snowfall Sunday morning. Consequently, we were in a real rush to get it tied to the roof of the van. And since we knew we were looking for a large tree and very few large ones were left, we snapped one up without getting a good look at it.

After mass

After mass

We got stuck coming up the driveway after mass.


And when we finally got the snow cleared off the tree and the tree into the house, we discovered that it was… umm… a good bit bigger than we expected. I think the thing is 12 feet tall and 8 feet across. No wonder it took us 2 hours to get it in and up. I can’t believe my husband did all that work (pretty much) by himself. Pregnant wife wasn’t much good.




Nevermind all the work you put into getting me dressed, Mommy. I don’t LIKE this stuff!

And — still on {real} here — how do I show you a picture of an Advent that has not been observed? Or a picture of Christmas shopping that has barely been started? Or a (tasteful) picture of a whole household with a cold?

I’ve been hopelessly behind with Advent and Christmas preparations before, but then I had decent excuses: a busy month at work, gearing up for far-away Christmas travel, a new baby, a new home, an awful coughing thing that laid me up for weeks and damaged my vocal chords… This time, I’ve got nothing. And the whole thing is starting to get me down.

So today, a to-do list. This week (because there’s no other time!) I’ll get it all done. I’ll just plug away, no fuss, no stress; I’ll work hard until we’re there.

Also for this week: some last-ditch preparation of my soul for Christ’s coming. A few stories for my boys. I think I’ll feel better if I set aside all the other “plans” I had for this year’s Advent; they were hanging me up. I’ll dust them off next year.

So, there’s my {real} right now. The contentment isn’t in the things themselves (or rather, the lack of things), but in the peace I nonetheless feel about it all. If one thing has gone right for me this December, it’s been a feeling of peace. I have had no part in the frenzy of pre-Christmas stress, and for that I am grateful.


I hope you all have a beautiful end to your week. Be sure to stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

pretty happy funny real[1]

Monday Morning Miscellany (Vol. 8): St. Nicholas Day, Toilet Hate, and SNOW


I started writing this post as a 7 Quick Takes Friday, so I was all set to open with a “Happy St. Nicholas Day!” but, um… see numbers two and three. The day was fun, but it pretty much sucked the life out of me.

Anyway, it took my boys a few minutes to remember/discover their goodie-filled shoes Friday morning, but when they did, their delight was, well, delightful. The little one ran up to me with a look of glee and a shout of “Wa-pop!” and the big one with a “Wook what Nickwas bwingt!” Totally worth the effort it took to remember the whole deal.



We celebrated the good saint’s feast by hosting a little St. Nicholas Day party for friends. Except it didn’t end up being so “little” after all: we had 18 kiddos (two four-year-olds and SIXTEEN three-and-under’s), plus nine adults. I meant for the party to actually be St. Nicholas-focused: I bought materials to make these cute little St. Nicholas ornaments, I thought I’d do some sort of reading or lesson on who St. Nicholas was, and I planned to print off some St. Nicholas coloring pages for the kiddies to work on.

Also, my friends and I had decided to make the party a cookie swap.

But… did I fulfill those expectations? No way. Neither the ornaments nor the cookies were made, the lesson was not planned, and the coloring pages were not printed. One friend did bring this cute St. Nicholas book, which I read aloud to the swarming mass of children. But, you know: 18 children. Surrounded by toys. And each other. Very little attention was paid to me and my feeble narration, I assure you.

Whatever. For once I was dressed and made-up before my guests arrived. The house was clean-ish and arranged for the party before it even started. And I actually had the food ready (pretty much) on time. Also, we had no injuries, no broken toys, no spills, and no major fights. So the party totally goes down as a win in my book.


The only real hitch was this little guy:


He’s been like a big, flashing neon sign of hyped-up emotions lately. When our guests arrived, he was so EXCITED he ran around the house screaming and roaring, throwing himself on the floor once per lap to flail his limbs and scream some more.

When things didn’t go his way, he was so DISTRAUGHT he sobbed and carried on like he was experiencing an actual trauma. Not like his mother had just told him that no, he couldn’t go outside to play while he had dozens of guests in the house. Especially since it was raining.

Then of course when people started to leave, he became HYSTERICAL. He screamed and sobbed and sniveled, wet-faced and shaking, begging for hugs and kisses from the departing children. Those poor kids. No one wants to hug and kiss someone who looks like that. Still, a few of the kind souls obliged him.

After everyone left, my little guy calmed down considerably. He was really quite lovely. For about five hours. Then it was back to the grind.


Speaking of the grind, I have a potty training question for you experienced parents out there. Or, maybe it’s not so much a potty training question, because (other than nighttime) my three-year-old son is already potty trained. It’s just that he hates going to the bathroom if it’s not his idea. With a passion.

The child actually potty trained pretty easily. (I attribute this to waiting so long – more than 2.5 years – to work on it. By that time he was just really, really ready and it wasn’t that big of a deal.) He gets through most nights dry and he hasn’t had a true potty accident in weeks. And it’s common for him to just announce that he has to go and go ahead and go like it’s no big deal.

But. Almost every single time that we ask him to try to use the restroom, he fights us on it. (We ask him to go at pretty reasonable times, I promise you: when he first wakes up, when we’re about to leave the house, when it’s time for him to go to bed, or when we’ve noticed that it’s been hours since he’s gone.) We tell him that it’s okay if he doesn’t actually go, but that he has to at least try.)

Once he hears our request, he loses it: He claims he doesn’t have to go, he cries, he runs away, sometimes he throws himself on the floor. It’s lovely. But once we get him in the bathroom (sometimes we pick him up and bring him in there, sometimes he comes under threat of a time-out), he goes! He used to stop crying immediately, brighten up, and say (unprompted), “Oh, I did have to go potty! I’m sowwy, Mommy and Daddy!” But increasingly he continues to cry and claim he doesn’t have to go potty while he is actually going.

Any ideas as to what this is about or how to address it? We’re several months into this issue and it has gotten very, very old.


On to happier things. Yesterday we had our first snow of the season. (The first snow, a real snow, in a part of the country that’s not accustomed to getting much of the white stuff. So yes, this snow qualifies as happy!)

The morning was something of an adventure for us. We had planned to make the 9am mass and then head straight to a Christmas tree farm afterward to select our big, honkin’ tree. I’d packed sandwiches and snacks and everything. But as usual, we were running late. We were in the car and ready, but would have been embarrassingly late to mass, so we decided to switch the two agenda items. We went straight to the tree farm instead.


We selected one of the few remaining big ‘uns (12 feet!) as the snow began to fall at 9:30. By the time we were on our slow way 45 minutes later, the tree tied precariously to the roof of our minivan, everything was white. My Minnesota-born hubby, who is normally more than a little impatient with the local slow-snow drivers, was thankful for them this time, because of our Christmasy cargo. We munched sandwiches as we trudged through the snow, listening to Christmas music on the radio. It was really all very happy and festive.

Before mass

Before mass

We made it safely to our (rural) church and waited in the parking lot until it was almost time for the 11:30 mass. The church, which is usually filled to the gills with hundreds of people, had no more than 30 that morning. So intimate! And so revealing of wiggly, whispering, wanting-to-play-in-the-snow toddlers!

Really, it was fine. I was happy to have my whole family together at mass. (We spent most of September/October keeping one or both of the boys home because they had a series of awful colds and are too little to know how not to cough all over strangers. November was challenging because I had to cantor/sing in the choir a few weekends and Brennan doesn’t feel comfortable monitoring the boys by himself during mass.) And anyway, it was so lovely to watch that snow fall outside those tall church windows.

After mass

After mass

Still happily under the romantic spell of the swiftly-falling snow, my daring, brave Minnesotan chose to take the (unplowed?) curvy, hilly back roads home. The trip was a little stressful at times (like when we couldn’t see anything but white out the windshield), but we made it home safely. If only it hadn’t ended up taking Brennan five hours of shoveling, scraping, and snow-blowing to get the van all the way up our long, steep driveway.



While poor Brennan worked on the driveway, I took the boys out to play in the snow. Last winter was mild, so this was our two-year-old’s first opportunity. It was only the second or third for our three-year-old. Naturally, they were captivated.







So was I.





Have a great week everyone! Stay warm!