Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Day 2017

Did you get a snow day from this nor'easter?  How did you spend it?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos by Mr Geek*

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lent for Pre-schoolers: Almsgiving

Our three-year-old is at the age where she's paying attention to everything, learns just by watching and listening, and wants to feel like she's contributing.  So this is the perfect time for family Lenten activities that she can be involved in!

I signed us up for Ginny's weekly writing prompts over at Not So Formulaic, and for the first week's prompt she was able to draw a picture for us and then I wrote down her description on the back.  We're going to keep our family letters in a nice little binder and look back on them when she's older as a fun way of remembering how much she's grown.

But I'm also trying to get her more involved in the three tenets of the Lenten season: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  These are pretty big concepts for a pre-schooler- she only knows two prayers, she's exempt from the regular fast, and she doesn't own anything she could give away.

Still, we've come up with some ways to make this season more meaningful for her.

Every parent is familiar with the ritual post-Christmas purging of the old toys.  Every January finds our house stuffed to the brim with things she just doesn't need- it all seems to come in a rush since her birthday is in November and then Christmas comes right after.  I don't necessarily save this purging for January, either- pretty much after every gift-giving occasion I'm culling our inventory of unnecessary plastic objects.  (And since, on my side of the family, Chief is The First Grandbaby, any given Tuesday could be a gift-giving occasion.)  I've always been able to go through her things and decide what can be kept for future babies, what needs to be thrown out, and what could be given away while she's distracted by the Shiny New Thing (let's be honest- Things).

This year, though, I want things to be a little different.

For Christmas, Chief received a big, beautiful doll castle with a few dolls, and it just so happens to be a good size for a collection of little princess dolls she already had, too.  She's played with it probably every day since she opened it; it's definitely one of her favorite new toys.  For a couple of weeks, it sat on the floor next to the doll castle she'd gotten for her birthday last year.  At first, the little princesses held parties in both castles and visited each other and their new friends.  Pretty quickly, though, the princesses set up a permanent residence in the new castle.  As the old castle was kind of in the way, it was moved up on top of the toy box, where it remained, untouched and unnoticed, for about a month.

At the beginning of February, I asked Chief if she still played with her old castle.

"No, I like my new one."

I suggested that maybe, since she has a new castle for her princesses, she didn't need the old one anymore.  Maybe there were other little girls who might like to play with it.  She was initially pretty horrified at the thought and didn't want it taken away from her, so I dropped the subject.  She didn't return to playing with it, but we didn't talk about it, either.

I could have donated the castle without asking her, but she would have noticed- even though she doesn't play with it, it's huge, and had been a fixture in the playroom for just over a year.  I didn't want her to think she was being punished, or that it was being taken away from her, though.  I wanted her to come to the conclusion that she didn't need it anymore and that it could make someone else happy.  For a few weeks, I would periodically talk to her about it, probing to see if she was comfortable with the idea yet.

Finally, the day after Ash Wednesday, she told Mr Geek that she thought maybe some other little girls might like to play with that old castle.  So they gathered up its accessories and put it in his car, and drove it to the local charity thrift shop to donate.  She was really hoping to be able to see the castle's new owners immediately, but Mr Geek explained that they didn't know who was going to have it next.

She really is pretty selfless, and loves to share.  When she's playing with any of her massive collection of stuffed animals, she'll pause and say, "When the baby gets here, I'll let him play with this one."  (And it's often her most cherished toy that she's willing to share, not just the forgotten or neglected ones.)  Giving away an old dollhouse may not be the same as the old woman donating her last two coins, but it's a step towards a detachment from material goods, towards charity, towards the type of sacrifices Lent is all about.

I'm really proud of her.

What sorts of activities do you do with your little ones during Lent?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mini Babymoon Getaway

Although Mr Geek and I have taken trips away from Miss Chief individually (me for business, him for a funeral), we've never gone away together and left her with someone else.  Now that my sister lives so close- about an hour away- and now that our baby girl is three years old (and therefore not a baby anymore), we thought maybe we would risk a night away to relax and enjoy some grown up time before Peanut (my unofficial nickname for Baby Boy) arrives and all thoughts of relaxation go out the window.

Of course, we spent literally the entire time talking about our big girl, wondering if she was enjoying her "spend-the-night" (not a sleepover, a spend-the-night) with her aunt and uncle, hoping she wasn't giving them too much grief about bedtime, planning what we would spend the rest of the weekend doing with her...but still, it was nice to have some time away during which we could have theoretically discussed things other than Elmo.  (Somehow, while waiting for our fancy grownup entrees to arrive at dinner, we found ourselves discussing our favorite Sesame Street  episodes.  I think maybe we need therapy.)

I did not receive a single panicked phone call or desperate text from my amazing sister, and everyone enjoyed the special Friday night.  We were back by 10 am the next morning- turns out there is literally nothing to do in Fredericksburg on a Saturday morning- so we were only apart for just over 12 hours, but still, this was a big step for us.

We stayed at Kenmore Inn on Princess Anne St in Fredericksburg.  I had always considered staying at a bed and breakfast to be something that fancy grownups did, so I figured the weekend after St. Valentine's Day was the perfect time to pretend to be fancy grownups.  Although the Inn is but a mere 15 miles from my sister's house in Stafford, it took nearly 45 minutes to drive there on a Friday night.  We arrived after 7, giving us just enough time to check in and make ourselves look nice before our 8:00 dinner reservations at the on-site restaurant.  The food was delicious, the wine sure smelled good (I'm not gonna lie, I really miss wine, but I don't force Mr Geek to be a tea-totaler while I'm pregnant), and the ambiance was cozy- the perfect place to discuss the logistics of taking the Metro to see Disney on Ice later that weekend.  (Yes, that was another topic of conversation at our fancy grownup dinner.)  Because the restaurant is in the cellar of the b&b, guests can use the back staircase to get back to their rooms- meaning dinner was just far enough away from our room for me to regret trying to balance my big ol' preggo belly in heels.  There was a full-service breakfast the next morning in a quaint little dining room that would be perfect for hosting a small rehearsal dinner for a wedding, and then checkout was simply dropping off the key with the front desk.  (There's something so charming about actual keys, rather than key cards.)  We had planned to walk around and take in the sights, but the only things open that morning were antique stores (which Mr Geek kind of hates) and coffee shops (but we'd already had breakfast), plus we really did miss our little girl, so we made our way back to pick her up.

The Kenmore Inn sits on property originally owned by George Washington's sister's father-in-law.  (How's that for history!)  It sustained damage during the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862 but stood strong.  Throughout the years it's been a family home, a tavern, a boarding house, a coffee shop, and finally the bed and breakfast it is today.  It's really quite a charming house, and is decorated with period antiques.  We stayed in the Regal Kenmore room, with a king-sized bed and wood burning fireplace (though we opted not to have it lit as it wasn't really that cold that night).  The Inn also has a family-sized suite, so it could be a lovely alternative to a regular hotel if you find yourself needing a place to stay in Fredericksburg- it's not just for romantic getaways!

So tell me- when you're away from your kids, do you spend the whole time talking about them?  How old were your little ones before you left them with someone else overnight?  Have you ever stayed in a bed and breakfast (and did you feel like a fancy grownup)?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh, Internet... {92}

So obviously I've been away from blogging for a few months and, I'm sad to say, I've been away from reading blogs, too.  (Pregnant-Me mostly just wants to watch The Grand Tour on Amazon, shop online for baby clothes, and sleep.)  But this week I opened up my good ol' RSS feed again (how old school!) and followed my favorite bloggers this week and boy did I find some good stuff!

If you read nothing else from this list, definitely read this post from A Gentle Mother.  "...[T]here’s a big problem, for me, when it comes to balance. Namely, that’s it unachievable."  I needed this post.

Alison at Reconciled to You makes a very good point as she urges us, "Please Don't Give Up Social Media this Lent."  If digital witnesses to Christ all abandon ship during the most important season of the year, could we be missing out on opportunities to evangelize?

Katie at The Catholic Wife provided a wonderful reflection on the Fifty Shades trilogy- what are women really seeking when they read and watch these stories?

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Bloody Valentine

Although his name is one of the most well-known of all saints in the western world (other than that guy Patrick), the actual details of the life of Valentine the man are pretty hazy.  There are many different stories of why, exactly, he drew the ire of the Romans and ended up in prison- probably had something to do with converting people to Christianity (frowned upon at the time), probably had something to do with marrying couples in the Christian rite (also frowned upon, and explains the romantic love angle of his patronage).

One thing all the stories have in common?

He was martyred for the faith.  Specifically, he was beheaded.

How romantic!  Let's share a box of chocolates.

Gives a whole new meaning to "Be my Valentine," doesn't it?  "Be the guy who gets his head chopped off for me."

But you know, maybe it is kind of appropriate.  I mean, that's marriage, isn't it?

Not decapitation- our life is not that similar to Game of Thrones.

But being married means dying to one's self- putting aside all thoughts of I want and even I need and devoting time instead to what we need and what we want for our family.  Mr Geek dies to himself every day by waking up before 3am some days or not coming home until after midnight on other days working at a job that will mean good things for our family in the future.  He dies to himself by crawling on the floor and playing dolls with our daughter on evenings when he'd much rather put his feet up.  He dies to himself by running out in the middle of the night to find whatever very specific food my big pregnant self is craving.

I die to myself by...occasionally doing the dishes.  If he begs me to.  (I hate doing dishes.)

Okay so maybe I need to try a little harder at being his Valentine, since he's so good at being mine.

So tell me about your Valentine!  What sacrifices do they make for you?

Much love,
The Geeks

*These are two of my favorite engagement photos, taken FIVE YEARS AGO by the illustrious Emile Frey

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

And the baby is a...


We're having a boy!  Our little princess is getting herself a baby brother and she couldn't be happier.  She came with us to watch the ultrasound and was blown away by the idea that the weird little wand rolling through the yucky gel on Mommy's belly could actually look inside and see her baby brother.  And my was he active!  He kept rolling from side to side, making it hard for the tech to capture a picture of his head that was good enough to measure his big ol' brain.  And his little profile looks just like Chief's did, with the same little button nose.

Mr Geek and I are beyond excited about our healthy, beautiful, BIG baby boy- he's measuring a week farther a long than our due date estimation, which is not enough to actually adjust the due date but leads me to believe that he's going to be larger than his sister was.

So, moms of boys- any advice?  Moms of both- how are baby boys and baby girls different?  (Or is it more that babies are people and therefore they're all different?)  Any advice for preparing the big sister for life with a little brother?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Throwback Thursday: In Summer

Here's a little throwback to when the weather was warmer and my baby girl was, well, a baby girl.

Now this big girl is excited to find out whether she's having a brother or sister- and she'll find out next Tuesday!  We're so excited :)

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, January 30, 2017

Introducing Little Ones to the Culture of Life

Pretty much every year in high school and most of college, I went to the March for Life.  Since graduation, however, I've been less actively involved in the pro-life movement, outside of the occasional prayer vigil at an abortion clinic (though I haven't done that since before getting pregnant with Chief).  Of course, having a family and not shying away from bringing our children out in public is one way of living a witness to the culture of life, but it's high time we got active in our activism once again.

The stars happened to align such that all three (well, four) of us could attend this year's March for Life- and I think this year it was more important than ever to show up in  person and remind our elected officials that we're going to hold them accountable to the values they claim to have.  So on Friday, we bundled ourselves up and headed down to our parish to catch the bus into DC.

During the week, we prepared our three-year-old by telling her she wouldn't be going to daycare on Friday and that instead, we'd be going to church to pray and then ride on a bus.  (Buses are a big deal right now- the big kids at daycare take a bus to school and she wants to ride a school bus more than anything.)  We made it to church for the tail end of holy hour (she'd be more of a distraction than a participant in a quiet hour of prayer without the Catholic aerobics and musical interludes of Mass) where I pulled out her big wooden rosary and showed her how to use it to pray.  We loaded the stroller into the cargo compartment on the bus and boarded for the quick ride.

Before we started the (very quick) highway rosary, Chief asked us where we were going on the bus.  We told her that we were going to save the babies- we told her that some people don't know how special babies are, so we needed to tell them.  She agreed that babies are special- that she loves the baby in Mommy's belly and will take care of that baby when he or she gets here- so we asked if she could tell everybody else, and she responded with a very sincere, "Sure!"  Then she listened to the whole bus say the rosary, and participated in the Our Father every time it came around.

As to the actual March, I knew I'd be comfortable bringing her to this one as opposed to other demonstrations that go on in this town.  People defending the rights of the unborn are never crude or vulgar, and there's never rioting or violence.  The counter-protesters normally are only allowed at the end of the route and are always too small in number to hurt anybody or even be heard over all the praying.  (Although there was an interesting breed of counter-protester along the route this year- radical evangelicals who were protesting neither for or against abortion, but protesting the Catholic Church itself which seemed a little counter-productive in this context.)  Chief napped as we walked past the graphic images, thankfully- although I do believe that the best way to defeat abortion is to show the world what it actually looks like, I think three is too young to be exposed to it.

When we got back on the bus to head back to the parish, Chief looked at the people putting away their signs and climbing back on to the other buses.

"Did we save the babies?" she asked thoughtfully.

"Yes, Baby, I think we did," Mr Geek replied.

"Does everybody know that babies are special now?"

"They sure do.  You did a great job."

We teach our pro-life values by showing our daughter how to love and respect all people because everyone was created in the image and likeness of God.  But the older she gets, I think it's important to show her how to speak for those who can't speak for themselves, and to appreciate this great nation she lives in, whose laws are written and the behest of its people and not just its leader.

Have you ever been to the March for Life?  How do you talk to your kids about the sanctity of human life?

Much love,
The Geeks

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from The Geeks (...ALL of us!)

As Kendra pointed out recently, when a blogger takes an unexpected hiatus, there's really only one explanation.

Yep- after nearly a year of begging, Miss Chief is finally a big sister.  She's very excited to welcome her little brother or sister this summer (late June or early July...we don't put much stock in exact due dates around here).  Although, truth be told, she would really rather have a sister- in fact, she's already convinced it's a sister, though we won't find out until probably February.  If you ask her if maybe the baby is a boy, or if it would be okay if it's a boy, she responds with a firm "no."  (Although, last night she started telling people she has two little brothers and two little sisters...maybe that's retribution for the suggestion that she might not get the sister she's demanding.)

When my mom got pregnant with my sister, and I asked my parents how the baby got in her belly, they responded as most parents do- "We prayed, and God put the baby there."  I finally understand that this is not just some euphemism, it's not just a throwaway line to avoiding a more difficult discussion- it's true.  How did this baby get here?  We prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed, and just when I thought maybe God wasn't listening, this baby showed up in my belly.

We hope your Christmas is as joyous as ours, and that your new year is as full of just as much hope.

Merry Christmas,
The Geeks

Monday, November 14, 2016

Currently, Chief is... {3 Years}

Our marriage turned 4 on Thursday, and our daughter turned 3.  We spent all weekend with her opening presents, watching her favorite movies, Skyping with grandparents, and celebrating at Chuck E Cheese.  Here's a look at how she's grown over the past year.

baking cookies in January
Growing in sass every day ;)  She's been wearing size 4T since spring, and doesn't appear to be getting any bigger any time soon- at least I hope not, because she's got a full year-round wardrobe in this size now!

Looking fancy for Easter a toddler.  That whole being-open-to-new-foods phase was fun, but it's over now.  They say breastfed babies and babies who learn to eat through baby-led weaning won't be picky eaters...but "they" are mostly just trying to sell the parenting methods.  (Don't get me wrong, we did both of those things, and they have lots of benefits.)  My point is: kids will be kids, and this one definitely is.  If she had her way, we'd eat "burgers with cheese" for dinner every night, and eat candy every time we watched a movie.  While Mr Geek had been hopeful that she'd be a fan of spicy food, she's not nearly as adventurous anymore- and uses the word "spicy" to describe any food she doesn't particularly like.  Our biggest struggle right now is that when she does get a say in what she eats, she waffles back and forth- she'll change her mind a few times, appear to settle on something, and then once the meal is almost ready, change her mind back again.  (Which leads to frustration, and sometimes tears, but eventually she eats what's on her plate.)

surveying her new backyard this summer
Talking all the time.  Always.  Non-stop.  Except when I ask a question that she doesn't want to answer, then she's quiet as a mouse!  They are teaching her Spanish at school, so she can count to 10 and tell you most of the colors- at first that was mostly a party trick, but now she's peppering her conversations with Spanish and it's actually pretty cool.  Her favorite part of every Elmo episode is "the word on the street" vocabulary word, which she'll try to incorporate into her speech throughout the day.  And she's learning to spell!  Right now she can spell her own name, as well as Mom and Dad.  She love to recognize her name wherever it's written (her cubby at school, the artwork on her wall, even the box for a certain Disney movie for which she was named.

Meeting her idol
Making facial expressions that define the term "threenager".  I swear that girl has mastered the look- you know, the one I give Mr Geek when he's trying to make a joke to talk himself out of the hole he's dug and it ain't working- and she throws it my way if I suggests an outfit or activity that just doesn't cut it.

carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween
Listening to music on the radio and singing along!  She actually requests the alternative rock station by name when I pick her up from school.  There are a few songs she knows the lyrics to and we'll sing it together (but mostly she tells me not to sing, only her).  It's pretty awesome that our music is cool- at least for now.  (We're even considering taking her to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in the spring, but we're worried she won't want to wear ear protection.)

dressed as her favorite fairy for trick-or-treat
Sleeping...Oh sleep.  How I miss you.  She has officially abandoned naptime, except for maybe a day or two a week at school.  But at home, she's just much too busy to nap.  This usually means that, on weekends anyway, mornings are the best time of day.  Nighttime is a battle of wills.  We have a general routine, and she'll keep suggesting things she needs to do to delay the inevitable- relevant things like brushing her teeth, and not-as-relevant things like drinking more water or finding that neglected stuffed animal that she suddenly requires.  But she always seems to wake up well-rested, so I guess our long, meandering bedtime "routine" is okay.

celebrating at Chuck E Cheese
Loving Elmo; living so near to her Aunt Helen; puppies that lick her face; getting frosting on her nose; Elsa (excuse me- Queen Elsa of Arendelle); Friday night movie night; breakfast at "the coffee store" (Starbucks); grocery shopping, but only at Giant, where they have the shopping carts with the ride-in cars attached; choosing her own outfit; reading; coloring; singing; pretending to be a puppy or a monster or a cat or a frog; playing Pokemon Go.

Hating not having a say in a decision; the apparently irrational rule that shorts are not allowed when it's cold outside; for that matter, sleeves; bedtime.

And now she's 3.  My goodness, where has the time gone?

How is your little one doing lately?

Much love,
The Geeks