Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cece says (vol. 8)

 somehow i feel like i'll be writing these posts for the next ten years -- i'm obviously biased, as her mother, but Cecilia is just such a hilarious little person and i love these insights into how her brain works! 

the girls have been playing with a cane and crutches we have down in the basement. one day, Cecilia carefully examined the cane (which has a large foam grip on the handle), and announced: "a cane is like a unicycle without pedals!" (she's not wrong!)

displaying the anklet she made (one of the amazing doctors in my practice
gave the girls this jewelry kit!)

"Mom! i can say the Plegible Legiance!"

"Mommy, i'm the grown up and you're the kid, so you have to listen to what i say. and what i say is that we have to get ice cream."

the girls working together to build a blanket fort, following specific
instructions from their Auntie Krista (to help with one of her college assignments!)

smelling a candle that had been in a box in the basement: "this smells like grape cobwebs!"

while helping me fold laundry, she laid out Nick's socks flat in a row. "Mommy, these look like black bacon strips!" 

catching flies
(don't mind the destroyed lampshade in the background - the girls "painted" it with 
green concealer and it's permanently stained, but i haven't managed to replace it yet...)

Monday, March 15, 2021

words of the week

 i just love words. big ones, small ones, long ones, short ones; words that sound like what they mean and ones that sound exactly opposite (like pulchritude). i especially love words that succinctly describe a complex concept. for years, i've jotted down words that struck my fancy, and thanks to the magic of Canva's free design software, i bring you the first batch of words to enrich your day! 

Caravaggio's brush deftly portrays the glaucous grapes and shiny apples.

With an avuncular grin, he produced a quarter from behind her ear. 

Their bibulous laughter floated down from the rooftop bar.

The fricative sound of the sprinkler, gentle song of the windchimes, and occasional
whine of a mosquito lulled her into a summer afternoon trance.

That otiose tradition tradition dates back to the fifteenth century.

The panegyric strained the limits of the audience's attention. 

The stern faces of the caryatids gazed out over the piazza.

linking up with Rosie here

Monday, March 8, 2021

february reads

 a book i own

Every Note Played, by Lisa Genova. oh my goodness -- this is going on my Favourite Books list for sure (and the fact that my Favourite Books list happens to be about fifty books long doesn't diminish its importance!). Mom gifted me this book a few months ago and i can't believe i didn't pick it up sooner. a heartbreaking, yet heartwarming, story of a classical pianist who is diagnosed with ALS. the book alternates between his point of view and his estranged wife's perspective, and all interspersed with details of piano repertoire and the physical experience of playing piano. 10/5. 

a classic

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. there were parts of this book i loved (the flowery turns of phrase and Gothic drama) and parts i hated (the servant's indecipherable dialect and the slow-moving plot). i was by turns annoyed by it and also felt convicted that maybe my modern mind needs to slow down and not demand bright and shiny instant gratification! so, all in all, 4/5. 

spiritual reading 

well, i haven't finished it yet, but i'm about one third of the way through Pope Benedict XVI's book, A School of Prayer: The Saints Show Us How to Pray. so far, it's phenomenal (as anything written by this great theologian is). i'll type up a more thorough review once i'm finished. 


The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. a fascinating and well-written tale of twin sisters who grow up in a town of predominantly light-skinned African Americans (which is a story in its own right). when they leave town, they also leave each other and create completely different lives, with one sister "passing" as a white woman and the other continuing to identify as black. a powerful story of culture, family, and identity. 5/5. 

Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training, by Hal Higdon. since i recently began training for my second half marathon using Hal's Half Marathon 3 training plan (available free online), i thought it would be good to read through his whole training philosophy. this book would be very helpful for a beginning runner planning to tackle a half marathon for the first time. i gleaned some good insights from it as well, but ultimately most of the information is available on his website so i was glad i just borrowed it from the library instead of purchasing it. 4/5. 

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. there's a lot to unpack in this meticulously researched book! the novel brings colonial America to life, from the political intrigue to the daily realities of wartime. much as i enjoyed the book, towards the end it began to feel like a bit of a slog. again, this begs the question: should the editor have been a bit more heavy-handed, or is my brain just out of shape? overall, 4/5.  

happy reading, everyone! 

linking up with Rosie here

Monday, February 22, 2021

Cece says (vol. 7)

(for posterity's sake, Cecilia is 4 years and 3 months old.)

while walking out to the car: "Spiderwebs can't hurt you! They don't have any arms!"

she grew tired of playing by the rules and
decided to play school with the pawns instead

after going through the McDonald's drive-thru: "Ahhh! The fresh chicken nugget air!"

"Sometimes we cry when we're so happy that we can't even hold the happiness anymore."

one of many treasured self-portraits i discover on my phone

"Mommy! We have arms so we can move our hands! If we didn't have arms, we just couldn't move our hands!"

very excited about the girls' new matching comforters from Nana!

this last exchange tells you everything you need to know about her glass-half-full philosophy. while racing toy cars with me, she announced: "I win!"

me: "I lose."

Cece: "No, you just won second, Mommy!"

(linking up with Rosie here!) 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

january reads

 i crashed and burned a bit with my reading goal for 2020 - 62 books read out of 75. i read 85 books in 2019 so 75 seemed like a realistic goal, but i guess i didn't count on the realities of returning to work part time halfway through the year! so this year i'm setting my sights a little lower with 50 books pledged to read by the end of 2021. i'm also committing to reading a book in each of three categories every month (plus hopefully a few bonus books). 

a book i own

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. i've been wanting to read this for years, and Nick thoughtfully gave it to me for Christmas! it's a quick but deep read, an honest reckoning of the economic forces and cultural precedents that have impoverished Appalachian America. i'm letting it settle in my brain and heart a little more before watching the Netflix version. 5/5. 

Edge of Eternity (The Century Trilogy, #3), by Ken Follett. this monstrous book actually moved faster for me than the preceding two, since it covers the second half of the twentieth century and involves politicians and cultural leaders with whom i am more familiar. i did wonder how much creative liberty Follett took with various storylines, but still it was an interesting read, and also felt very satisfying to close the cover after reading all 1136 pages! 5/5. 

a classic 

The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis. (this counts as classic, right?! even though it's more modern than what i would typically consider classic literature, it certainly expresses universal truth in an undeniably beautiful way.) anyway, despite reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia series multiple times as a child, i didn't remember much of this story. it was delightful to experience it almost for the first time again while reading aloud to the girls. the passage where Aslan sings Narnia into existence gave me actual goosebumps. 

spiritual reading

Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body, by Scott Hahn and Emily Stimpson Chapman (a dynamic duo of Catholic writers, if ever there was one!). this also happens to fall into the category of Books I Own, which is good because i was compelled to underline multiple passages and write in the margins. as a convert to Catholicism, i never quite understood the church's directive against cremation (or exactly how strong of a directive it was, for that matter). while meaty, this book is relatively short and easy to read, the sort of book you could read in a day but whose content is rich enough to distill over weeks. highly recommend as a Lenten read! 5/5. 


Empty, by Susan Burton. this book details (and i do mean details) the author's journey with disordered eating. i always feel like a terrible person criticizing a memoir, especially one about such a sensitive topic, but it just seemed to drag on and on and on. she does do an excellent job of describing how her perspective on food shifted and warped over time, and she's honest about her own vulnerability (which again, makes me feel awful for wishing her editor had chopped about 1/3 of the words). 4/5. 

All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven. oh, this book. yes, it's young adult fiction and yes, everyone should read it. i think we all know a teenager like Theodore Finch (oscillating between zany outbursts and clinical depression) and Violet Markey (grieving the death of her sister), or perhaps we were them. i was a bit skeptical of the book going into it but the characters continued to grow in complexity and the ending hit me like a punch in the gut. 5/5. 

linking up with Rosie

Friday, November 27, 2020

greta is 7!

dear sweet pea, 

you have grown up so much this year! when i look back at pictures and videos from last November, it's hard to believe that was only twelve months ago. and yet, at your core, you are still the same observant, thoughtful, creative, sensitive, dubious person you've been since birth. 

"what the heck is going on?!"

as expected, you've had lots of mixed emotions about our return to Pittsburgh from Rome. mostly, you're happy to be back in our house, with our big backyard and the new swingset Daddy built, and your bike (you and your best friends Maeve and Shayden learned to ride two-wheelers within days of each other this summer!). you've spent a few glorious weekends at Nana and Pappy's house, and i can still hear your shrieks of joy when you discovered your beloved friend Yaya was also at the "summer camp" daycare program at ABCs. but of course you miss your friends in Rome, especially Qing Qing, Louise, and Polly. we found out recently that Qing Qing's family has also left Rome now, and you were very quiet for a moment and then asked, "but someday can we go to China to see her?" someday, kiddo, someday!! 

Maria Vittoria, Greta, and Qing Qing on Carnevale

Candlemas at the NAC

sharing their drawings of rainbows with their Italian friends
during our 14-day quarantine after returning from Rome

your biggest transition this year was starting first grade at St. Philip School. you love your teacher, Miss Rodgers, and i've been very impressed with all the measures the school has taken to allow for in-person learning. you started off the year feeling pretty discouraged about reading -- you had spent so many hours learning Italian phonetics and pronunciation over the past two years that the rules in English were understandably baffling! but things are really starting to click for you now, and you've built a lot of confidence and reading fluency by reading Mo Willems' books, with their repetition, hilarious illustrations, and heartwarming storylines.  

you love to play teacher, and i often find your stuffed animals and dolls lined up on the couch or on the bed as you essentially recreate your school day for them (including the weekly school mass). for better or for worse, you also love to make your own videos based on makeup tutorials or prank videos you've seen on YouTube. (i guess it's the 2020 version of the cassette tapes i used to create using my little Fisher Price tape recorder!) one thing is for sure: your selfie game is stronger than mine! 

this fall marked your first foray into school sports. originally, you thought you might want to join the cross-country team, so we met up with the kids for a free run one August evening. but at the end of the run, i could see your glare from all the way down the trail as you stomped back and told me, "i didn't know we were going to be running the whole time!" instead, you decided to join the soccer team. it was a great learning experience for you to do something completely new, and to stick with it even when you recognized that the other kids had all been playing soccer for at least a year. you started ballet at a new studio this year, and we were so impressed with your performance at the little in-studio show your class put on last week. you've asked about starting gymnastics too -- maybe we'll try that in the summer! 

for posterity, here are a few of your favourite things:

  • TV show: Bunk'd on Netflix
  • food: spaghetti and meatballs, cheese pizza, frozen green beans, black raspberry ice cream
  • book: The Chronicles of Narnia series (we just started reading these aloud this year!), the Junie B. Jones books, and The Book with No Pictures
  • hobbies: making up your own ballet dances, playing with your Barbies, recording videos, making rainbow loom bracelets (and shh! you're getting your own kit for your birthday this year!)

in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

in Ocean City, MD, with Nana and Aunt Becca!

we love you so much, Margaret Kathleen! happy seventh birthday!!