Seven Quick Takes – Early Fall

1) Everybody says pushing through the little years really pays off when your older kids are big enough to babysit. They are so right! Off to dinner and a movie. Don’t let the baby stay up late or watch TV, ok kids?…….maybe not….



Did I mention she’s eating well? Really well? Look at that juicy baby!

2) This will be the twins’ first year trick-or-treating. This will also be the first year we hand out ethically-sourced candies for Halloween. Previously, I’ve always bought the “normal” chocolates such as mini snickers. I saw posts and even videos about child slavery on cocoa farms and either ignored them or rolled my eyes. “It’s normal for young kids to work ‘over there'”, “the ‘fancy’ chocolates are too expensive”, and other excuses rolled off my lips. Perhaps it’s having kids of my own that changed my mind. How could it possibly be acceptable for us to support child slavery? If a treat is only “affordable” if produced by forced child labor, our household should forego it altogether. If my kids were the ones being sold into hazardous conditions with no access to education, I would hope a mother in Africa would refuse to demand their servitude so she could buy cheap treats. We’ll be handing out these mini chocolates (on sale, and quite affordable if you search google for their 10% off + free shipping coupon code) and these bulk lollipops because they had the best price per piece I could find. Tsh Oxenreider has an excellent summary of this issue and alternative sweet options for Halloween on her blog. We probably won’t win any “best candy on the block” awards from the brand-loyal neighborhood kids, but I’m okay with that. Besides, I’ll never beat my Great Grandmother on that count. She used to hand out full-sized candy bars. Decades later, strangers in her town would hear our last name and go starry-eyed over sugary childhood memories of her.

My family stopped celebrating Halloween when I was about eight. My parents had excellent reasons, and I respect their choice and appreciate their thoughtful approach to parenting. However, because the Man and I both loved Halloween as kids in a very innocent way – making costumes, running around the neighborhood after dark with other kids, knocking at doors for candy – we’ve decided to let our kids dress up and trick or treat unless we notice problems beginning to develop. Our church has a Reformation Day celebration as a Halloween alternative, but it’s the one day of the year our normally sane and welcoming brethren get a little carried away with the anti-Catholic rhetoric so my (Catholic) husband and I skip the party to avoid any awkwardness.

3) The new baby. She’s still cute. I’m having an embarrassingly hard time picking a blog name for her – I only like a small handful of girls’ names, and want to save them for future kids. It works well for many people, but personally I find it distracting when bloggers use unusual nicknames or abbreviations for their kids: “so then RainbowToes said to DS3…” feels awkward. Meanwhile, around our house the baby is affectionately known as Winston. Our chubby-cheeked pouting infant and the chubby-cheeked pouting former Prime Minister Churchill have a lot in common. See?

IMG_6157.JPG4) While it’s wonderful to prep meals in advance, sometimes meats cooked in a slow cooker develop an odd texture. Also, many slow cooker recipes call for shortcuts and additives that aren’t particularly fresh or nutritious – packets of fake flavor, pre-canned soups, etc. In our current life Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of Slow Cooking is a life saver. I bought it after checking it out from the library repeatedly. The recipes are all made-from-scratch dishes, impeccably tested, with really fantastic flavors. Each recipe has instructions for making the dish two ways – using the stove/oven or using a slow cooker. If I’m home for the day I usually prefer the oven option, but for a busy day out and about (or if your small children think the oven is fascinating), the crock pot option is handy. Because these are all dishes that need long low cooking times,they generally use less expensive meats. These meals are perfect because I can start them during nap time and not worry about any last minute prep during the daily pre-dinner triple meltdown. Last night’s barbecue-style brisket was the best thing I’ve cooked in months. The Man put one bite in his mouth, stopped, and moaned “Wow”. The toddlers and I agreed. The baby doesn’t get a vote.

5) What else have we been up to? Hiking:


IMG_5805 IMG_5795







Visiting the farm with family:






6) Lauren sewed this gorgeous quilt for the baby. Part of her post-NICU therapy involves lots of tummy time with distracting objects for her to look at while stretching her stiff neck muscles . I think this fits the bill! Apparently it’s soft and comfy, too:


7) I leave you with Super Dad. And no, he’s not wearing a dress. This baby is a spitter (though not as bad as Jack, mercifully). We have to change clothes less frequently if we cover up with a beach towel during feedings.

IMG_5998.JPGFor more Seven Quick Takes please visit Jen at Conversion Diary.


8 thoughts on “Seven Quick Takes – Early Fall

  1. Blog names..tricky! I can’t quite believe people use their children’s actual names online. You may notice we have a Beatrix Potter theme…Ginger has actually always felt less stilted than Tom Kitten, maybe I should shorten it to Tom. Never forget the reader who left a comment that they really liked Ginger’s name…and I was so puzzled that anyone could have actually assumed it was her real name. Though, subsequent to that I have met a child in real life named ‘Rocket’ so I guess anything goes these days!

    Interesting with your decision about Halloween; as somewhat difficult balancing act as a Christian. It was not much celebrated here in the past (though is gaining a foothold as we become more Americanised – the latest Aldi catalogue was devoted to it) but my Mum has always been vehemently opposed its celebration, even telling the 6 year olds in her class (Catholic School) that if they had been out for Halloween she didn’t want to know about it! My husband, however, has fond memories of getting dressed up and going out when he lived in Texas as a child.

    Regards the fair trade chocolate I remember a news story here from Easter where the Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane decided not to hand out eggs at all because they couldn’t ethically source them.

    • Oh goodness – Rocket? One does sometimes wonder what parents were thinking… We had to eliminate some of our favorite name choices when we thought about the maltreatment they might receive at the hands of future classmates. For example, we loved Paul and a few other “P” names, but eventually realized they would leave our poor kids with the initials P.P. They’d never survive elementary school! I do actually know a couple of Gingers – both use it as a casual form of their given name, Virginia, and I think both use it to distinguish themselves from older relatives who are their namesakes. Maybe it’s an American thing? I like the blog nicknames you’ve picked for your kids – both read smoothly. I think my differentiator for awkard or not is whether something sounds like a nickname a family might call a child in real life. I can imagine a mother affectionately calling her toddler son Tom Kitten, but just can’t hear myself calling “DS3, come to dinner! Twinkletoes, do your homework!”

      Parenting is so full of “gray area” decisions, isn’t it? People celebrate Halloween in such different ways – some as an anticipatory celebration of All Saints Day and Christ’s victory over darkness, some as a simple Fall festival, and some as a truly dark and awful orgy. I think my parents ended up cutting off our celebrations because of the latter – we’d always had a fun fall celebration with friends bobbing for apples, playing games, and wearing costumes before trick or treating, but some older kids and families in the neighborhood began turning it into a darker night that my parents felt was inappropriate for children, and unwholesome for people in general – macabre displays, gory and frightening masks, etc, plus the historic origins of the date. I’m never quite sure how to deal with history and the way holidays morph over time, given that Christmas, too, was coopted from an ancient pagan feast.

  2. I LOVE this post! I read it right away; sorry I did not respond sooner. (Not like you are waiting around for me or anything… 😉 ) Anyhow…. first, Annie looks SO big in that picture of her on the slide. Love it. Love the husband’s “dress”, too. Very funny. I love your speaking out about Halloween candy and ethically sourced chocolate. I recently read an article about this issue and have been so disgusted over it. Thanks for helping to solidify the problem in my mind and heart.

    What about “Susan” for a blog name? Just a thought. Though I do giggle so much at the thought of you using “Winston.”

    Lastly, thanks for sharing pictures of the quilt! She is just so precious.

    • I know – they say your kids look older when you bring home a baby, and they weren’t kidding. Who told the twins they were ready for college? I’ll let you know if our house gets egged for boring chocolate on Halloween :). I do like living in a neighborhood that gets trick or treaters so I get to see all the cute little kids. For some reason nobody went door to door in our apartment complex in Texas, and nobody comes to my parents’ farm because it’s hidden behind trees up a gravel road. Everyone drives to the nice compact subdivisions.

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