Friday, November 27, 2015

Oh, Internet... {82}

Well, we survived Thanksgiving.  *phew*  So now it's time to get ready for Advent!

The ladies at Catholic Sistas are hosting an Advent Instagram challenge, and I plan to play along!  You should join in, too!

Here's some other awesome things happening on the internet this week:

Shayla at Northern Exposure celebrated her little girl's second birthday with a beautiful reflection on the past two years.

I love every way Jamie at Petite Panoply styled this awesome burgundy faux leather jacket- probably because it's such an amazing color with her hair.

"I firmly believe that a troubled world is all the more reason to keep having babies. They bring our family so much joy."  Catholic All Year shared her thoughts on having children in a scary, chaotic world.

The "war" we should be concerned about during the holiday season is the one on Advent- it's not Christmas yet!!  Read more on The Huff Post Blog.

The Whitford Life shared this really helpful guide to Advent for beginners.

Mary at Better Than Eden shared a free printable Catholic New Year's Resolutions guide that I'm definitely going to use!  (Also- I can't believe it's almost 2016!!)

What awesomeness is happening on your internet?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Holidays

cranberry sauce from last Thanksgiving // *personal photo*
If you wish me a "happy holidays" today, I won't be offended.  It's the day before Thanksgiving today, but Thanksgiving is really only celebrated on the one day, not an entire liturgical season, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "happy Thanksgiving" today.

Advent starts on Sunday, but there's not really a common joyful greeting for the Advent season.  I guess you could say "blessed Advent," though it doesn't quite roll off the tongue, and that would be an appropriate, specific greeting starting on Sunday, but not today, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "blessed Advent" today.

The Christmas season starts on December 25 and lasts clear on through the end of January, during which I will greet everyone I meet with a "Merry Christmas!" I don't say this to try to force my religion on you or because I'm making an assumption about which deity you do or do not worship, but rather because for me, it's the Christmas season, and I'm feeling merry, and I want you to feel merry, too.  I could say "Merry Wednesday" to you today because it's Wednesday, whether you recognize it as such or not, and I'd like you to have a merry day.  If you're Jewish, and you choose to wish me a "Happy Hannukah!" during that season, I won't assume you're trying to force your Jewishness on me or suggest that Judaism is the only acceptable holiday.  Rather, I'll take the greeting for what it is- an expression of the joy you feel at that time and your wish for me to feel that joy, too.  But regardless of what the department stores and radio stations want us to think, today, the day before Thanksgiving, is not Christmas.  Christmas doesn't start until, well, Christmas, so I can see why you wouldn't want to wish me a "Merry Christmas" today.

The end of the calendar year- from the beginning of November through early January- is generally recognized as "the holiday season" in America because there are an awful lot of holidays that fall during that time.  Rather than worry about what specific holiday falls on any given day, it's become common to greet each other wish "happy holidays" to convey the general joyfulness felt when the weather starts to get cold and families get back together again to eat ridiculously large meals.  And yes, there are some people who do not celebrate any of the religious holidays this time of year, but they still recognize that this is a season of holidays that gives even their cold little atheist hearts a warm feeling, so they default to "happy holidays" as a way of wishing others well.  It's not meant to be offensive, it's not meant to suggest that whatever specific holiday you are celebrating is less important than any of the others- on the contrary, this greeting recognizes that there are holy days even if they themselves don't feel that way.

So here's the deal- if you're happy today, and if today happens to fall during a specific season, and you want to offer me that seasonally appropriate greeting- I won't be offended!  And I'll respond in kind with my seasonally appropriate greeting (which, today, would probably just be "happy holidays" if we're being honest here.). And if you're happy today and you do not greet me with "Merry Christmas," I will not assume that you are trying to offend me or subvert my religious beliefs- because you know what?  It's not even Christmas yet.  And if it's December 23rd I probably won't say Merry Christmas to you quite yet- because it's not Christmas yet then, either.  But even if, on December 25th, you choose to say "happy holidays" to me, I will smile and be thankful for the greeting, because that is indeed a happy day, and a holy day, too, so you've gotten it right, whether you meant to or not, and I'll respond with "Merry Christmas" because it's Christmas, even if you don't celebrate it, and I want to spread some merriment back to you in return.

Is there a real threat to religious liberty in this country at this time? Yes, there is.  But red cups and department store cashier greetings are not the battlegrounds worth dying on, because the people offering them to you are not the ones fighting you.  So let's all do our part to spread joy this Christmas season- when the season actually starts- by not pitching fits about things that don't matter.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bookish Adventures: The Martian

*personal photo*
I'm sure you've all seen the movie by now- we haven't, because babysitters are expensive and difficult to come by- and even if you have, you should totally read this book.

The Martian is so incredibly real that there's basically no need to suspend disbelief at all (although apparently the storm that starts the whole adventure is impossible) because Andy Weir really, really did his homework.  But it's not just the fact that this book is more science than fiction that makes it so gripping- our protagonist, Mark Watney, is so well-developed and so gosh-darn likeable that you desperately want to see him succeed, and you're on the edge of your seat the entire time, feverishly biting your nails as if there really were an American astronaut stranded on Mars that we're all trying to rescue.

Some have complained that it's difficult to dive in to the story because there is too much science, but I don't think that's a valid complaint.  No, Mark is writing his log entries with the knowledge that regular people will read it one day- people who are not rocket scientists- so he clearly and patiently describes the reasons behind the pieces of his plan without actually busting out the equations.  If there's anything that might make this book difficult to get into, it might be those log entries themselves- initially, the narration is entirely first person in the form of the mission log Watney is using to record what happened, how he survived, and how he plans to get back home.  These log entries are how we get to know him, and he becomes an incredibly well-developed character who is charming, obviously incredibly intelligent, and a master of dark humor- the quality that keeps his spirit alive against the odds.  But I did worry that this would be the entire book, and that these log entries would get a little old; I didn't want to end up resenting this character I'd fallen in love with because I was tired of being stuck in his head.  Never fear- the narrative style changes before you get a chance to get bored with it, as third person narration and actual dialogue intersperse themselves among the log entries.  In retrospect, that long, unbroken stretch  of log entries is incredibly important to set the tone and create the initial suspense- it's just you and Watney, thus reinforcing that our stranded astronaut is utterly and completely alone, with no other characters in sight, not even a disembodied narrator.  It's incredibly effective from both a character-building and plot-driving standpoint.

All in all, I'm glad I had a chance to read the book first, though I'm sure the movie is just as incredible as the critics have said.  If you're looking for a book to keep you company on your holiday vacation, The Martian is a good one!  (It's especially poignant for Thanksgiving- you'll certainly feel thankful to be surrounded by friends and loved ones, and for a meal consisting of more than just potatoes and protein packs!)

Have you read The Martian?  What did you think?  What books have you read lately that you'd recommend?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Oh, Internet... {81}

Today I get to indulge in one of my favorite activities: packing for a road trip.

Because tomorrow- we road trip!

Well, tomorrow night.  Really late tomorrow night.  We're going to put on jammies, stay up past bedtime, and then get in the car and drive and drive and drive (and hopefully someone will sleep and sleep and sleep for a good percentage of it).

So while I pack, you should read!  Specifically, read these awesome things:

Breenah at By Breenah wants to take Jim Gaffigan out to dinner.  (Me too!)

What It's Like to Play for Legendary Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer- we're gonna miss you, Frank.

"You don't want him using you as a pacifier, do you?  Well, yeah.  Kinda I do."  Check out this beautiful reflection on Better than Eden.

Catholic All Year shared How to Advent.  We're working hard to make sure Advent and Christmas are two distinct seasons in our house.

What awesomeness happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Last Thankgsiving

first birthday party, thanksgiving 2014 // *personal photo*
Last Thanksgiving, we hosted aaaaaaaaaaall of our family here for a big party for this little goober's first birthday.  This year, we will again be surrounded by the beach!  We're so excited :)

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Oh, Internet... {80}

I realize it's been a while since I did an Oh, Internet... so it's time to rectify that!  Here are some of the most awesome things happening on the internet lately:

Make it and Love it shared a roundup of handmade Christmas gift ideas- time to get started!

Miss Emma at A Pinch of Pixie Dust had the most perfect Hallowe'en costume this year (as always)!

Kendra at Catholic All Year wrote about praying for the dead with children- and how we shouldn't shy away from the topic of death with little ones.

Sterling Jaquith shared five ways to be the peace center of your home- a very timely read for me this week.

Allie at Everyday Adventures shared a beautiful reflection on savoring the simple moments together.

Do you remember the exact moment you discovered you were pregnant?  Daja at The Provision Room does!

Ashley at Between the Linens shared 7 books to read aloud with your spouse.

I'm really getting tired of "the mommy wars".  There's a lot of effort being made to make sure we moms don't feel bad about ourselves if we don't live up to our Pinterest expectations, but now, apparently, it's cool to vilify those moms who are, in fact, mistresses of the domestic arts.  Amy at Motherhood and Miscellany thinks that's ridiculous (and so do I).

Jessica at Little Fiat speculated about why Sherlock Holmes is having a moment right now in pop culture.

What awesomeness happened on your internet the past few weeks?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Currently, Chief is... {2 years}

Two years old.  She's not a baby anymore!  Let's take a look at the past 6 months...

Watching Elmo at 19 months old
Growing at a slower rate now, but she's sooooo tall!  Up until 18 months, she was tracking pretty exactly with the clothing sizes (ie from ages 6-9 months, she was wearing 6-9 month sized clothing) but then by the end of June, she shot up to 2T, and before summer was officially over, she started wearing 3T!  We now have clothing for every season in this size, so hopefully she's still wearing it by the time spring rolls back around!

Swinging at 20 months old
Eating healthy food, thankfully, though if we only ate what she requested, she'd live on a diet of burgers, pizza, and "Chinese food" (which mostly just means rice).  She's not really a picky eater, though on any given day she'll prefer certain things on her plate over others.  When she is acting picky, she's the world's weirdest picky eater- she'll eat all her carrots, for example, and beg for more, and leave the fried chicken untouched.  (Not that I'm complaining- I'm just saying, she's an odd one.)  She knows where the applesauce pouches are stored in the pantry and she can open the door to get to them, so now, before school in the morning, she can bring one to me and ask me to open it.  She's pretty much mastered the use of utensils, though sometimes she gets impatient and digs in with her fingers instead.  She's also mostly mastered drinking from a cup without a lid, but we still encourage the use of straws whenever possible.

Looking at fishies with Nana at 21 months old
Talking pretty much in complete sentences now, and her pronunciation has greatly improved.  She's finally corrected the way she pronounces her own name, and she's slowly starting to get away from speaking in the third person.  She can mostly articulate wants and needs, and while we're not quite at the WHY stage, we are very much at the WHAT stage (though she'll just point and say "That?" to ask what something is).  We're definitely thankful for her ability to communicate, because at least for now, tantrums are few and far between.  (Though we have experienced them, and they are usually caused by being "hangry".)

Learning about airplanes with Daddy at 22 months old
Making facial expressions that look like miniature versions of each of us.  When she smiles, she looks just like me, and when she's concentrating on something or when she's frustrated about something, she looks exactly like her Daddy.

Trick-or-treating at 23 months old
Listening to Elmo, Elmo, and more Elmo.  She'll sing the goofy songs she hears on Sesame Street, whether they're about letters or numbers or the word of the day.  She also sings her nursery rhymes, and she'll try her best to sing the hymns at church (though mostly she'll just sing nonsense words along to the same tune).

Playing in the leaves this weekend
Sleeping all night long, and one nap during the day.  Lately, when she starts to get tired, she'll announce, "No go night-night," before we even have a chance to mention anything.  But bedtime isn't really much of a fight.  She may sit up and play with her stuffed animals for a bit after we put her down, but she'll fall asleep without fussing.  Last night, we gave her a big-girl bed for her birthday.  It's low to the ground and has railings on half of each side, and it still uses her crib mattress.  She was excited about the fact that she could climb in and out on her own, but when it was time to actually go to bed, I think the new-and-different-ness scared her a little bit.  I sat with her and rubbed her back until she decided to lie down, and she slept just fine- and she napped just fine in it this afternoon, too.

cupcakes for the birthday party at daycare
Loving Elmo; books; animals; helping- particularly with housework (though it's debatable how much actual "help" she provides); shopping for shoes (even if she only gets to try them on and we're not buying any that day); babies; hugs; her best friends at school; Elmo; Legos (Mega Bloks and Duplo); pickles; Disney movies featuring one or more animals; Elmo; doing things by herself; carrots; milk; Elmo; counting; identifying numbers on the signs at the store; Elmo; also, Elmo.

Hating standing or sitting still for any reason; the suggestion that it might be bedtime soon; not being allowed to live on a diet of yogurt and applesauce exclusively; not being allowed to talk; turning off Elmo.

And now she's 2!  I can't believe she's so big!

What is your toddler currently in to?

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Mother's Day 2015 // *personal photo*
We have a two-year-old now.

She's so smart- smarter than us, even, at times.  And she's so goofy- she might have my smile, but when she wrinkles up her nose and does a silly voice, she's 100% your daughter.  And she's so loving and affectionate- she'll wave at strangers and hug her best friend at the end of the day and kiss pictures of puppies on the computer screen.  And she's so, so beautiful.  This will all be a lethal combination when she's a teenager, I'm sure.  Let's not think about that.

This year was fun.  I've lost track of how many zoos and aquariums we've been to as a family now, each more exciting than the last, and the countless hours we've spent talking about fish and turtles.  And we've watched her learn how to walk and then immediately start running around the house, around the playground, around the grocery store.  We've ridden on airplanes, looked at spaceships, built block towers taller than she was, and watched all the Disney animated classics- with all the excitement and enthusiasm as if we were experiencing them for the first time, because it was her first time.

This year was hard, too.  We had to make difficult decisions.  We've each had to put the family before our individual selves.  We've had to put some dreams on hold.  We've had to bust our respective butts, and we've gotten very little sleep- and not because of the toddler.

But when I look back on this year, what I remember most is the fun.

When I look back on this year, I notice something else, too.

I got really good at being a mom this year, but I didn't necessarily get any better at being a wife.  You've been amazing at both parenthood and marriage this year- you've handled public meltdowns like a champ, you've sat through countless hours of Elmo, you continue to buy me flowers for no reason, you do an unfairly large share of the housework, and you drop whatever it is that you're doing to let me vent to you when I've had an awful day at work (which is all the time).

So here's the deal: for year 4, I promise to step up my game.  Remember how we used to gross out my sisters with the hand-holding and forehead-kissing and sitting-in-laps?  Let's go back to that.  And I should shut up every now and then and let you vent about your day (or, you know, play some Halo as that helps you unwind better than talking about your feelings). And maybe- just maybe- I'll do the dishes more often, too.  I mean, I'm not a miracle worker, so that last one might be pushing it, but I sure can try.

Here's to another super fun year.  I'm sure there will be hard times, we'll probably have to survive more tantrums (the 2-year-old might even be responsible for some), but if you hold my hand the whole time, we can keep laughing through it.

I love you, I love being married to you, I love being a parent with you.  Let's keep learning and growing and getting better at this, together.

photo via One Photo Gallery

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Playing the Villain

*personal photo*

Our Hallowe'en was so much fun.  How about yours?

Much love,
The Geeks