12 November 2014

Much Rejoicing

I've been trying to find the time to write for days and days and days, and it just never happens, and now I'm exhausted after a ridiculously long day (in town 7:45 am to 2:45 pm and again 4:45 pm to 9:20 pm). But I have to at least throw a quick excited post up here because...

...we have a new bishop! After more than a year of waiting for a new ordinary, we found out Friday that next month we'll finally get to celebrate the ordination of Bishop-elect Chad Zielinski. He's currently an active duty chaplain stationed at the local Air Force base, and has served several tours overseas. I haven't met him yet, but have heard wonderful things from others who have.

...and Little Bear slept five straight hours in his own bed the other night, which was seriously a minor miracle after the awful nights we'd been having. He hasn't repeated the feat yet, but at least he's regularly giving us until 1 am or later before climbing in with us.

...AND today I had an ultrasound, and got to see baby Kit and hear the heartbeat! I've been so stressed all week, half convinced that the ultrasound was going to show that I'd lost another baby. I was so relieved, so happy, to hear Kit's heartbeat and see a tiny arm waving!

07 November 2014

Seven Quick Takes

Linking up while it's still Friday this week!

"Mama, go 'way! Want Daddy!" Somebody took a while to go to sleep tonight... After getting a scant half hour of nap total today, I was really hoping for an easy bedtime, but we must have let him slip from "tired" into "overtired." Praying that he stays asleep in his own bed for hours and hours now!

I lit a fire this morning, tended it carefully, and it burned for hours but was unable to get the house even up to 70. Matt lit a fire after supper this evening, haphazardly tended it while we did a million other things, and now the house is 86 and I can't bear to sit within 10 feet of the fireplace. Does fire-building prowess come with the Y chromosome?

This morning I needed to spend a lot of time sitting still on the couch. It was a challenge to keep Little Bear happy without getting up, but we read stories and played red light green light for a while—he has loved pointing out stoplights for practically as long as he's been able to talk, and he discovered the game all by himself one day while he was helping me push the grocery cart. It's a good thing we usually go shopping in the morning so the aisles aren't crowded! He also built towers for me and knocked them over with stuffed animals. We definitely need to work on the concept of putting toys away! He'll happily help me straighten up, but pretends he doesn't understand what I'm saying if I ask him to do it by himself.

Eventually he got fussy and I gave in and told him we could watch something... but Mama got to choose. Did you know that the first episode of Ree Drummond's Food Network show is on Netflix now? I've enjoyed her blog for several years, but had never seen the show. Well, I'm not sure whether Little Bear or I enjoyed it most! It was hilarious to watch him watching "the cooking lady." He was glued to her every move, narrating her actions, repeating her instructions:

"Butter in pan. Garlic pan. Oil! Oh, wow!"

"Mix mix round-a round-a, all done."

"Dump! Red wine vinegar. Mix pan, oh wow!"

There were many "oh, wow!"s. The cows and horses on the ranch were also pretty exciting.

I am so impatiently looking forward to this coming Wednesday morning: my first official appointment with the midwife. Hopefully with an in-office ultrasound to see the heartbeat. I know it's on the early side for the initial appointment, but we're right at the point where we lost Alex last time, and I think it would help my peace of mind to hear that everything is going okay so far. We're coming up on Alex's due date soon, and it seems like being able to have some confidence that Kit is okay will help me handle Nov 23 better.

Speaking of Kit, this baby needs to get the memo that he or she is Catholic, and stop making me crave meat on Fridays! Every Friday for the past month, I haven't been able to shake the mental image of a thick, juicy burger with sweet potato fries. And only on Fridays; the thought never occurs to me any other day of the week. I tried to compromise with the baby tonight by having salmon burgers with sweet potato fries, and baby did approve of supper, but the image of a half-pound elk burger with onions and blue cheese is still lingering in the back of my mind...

Wednesday's appointment will be with a midwife I've never met before, but have heard good things about. She had the licensure for home births before getting her CNM, so while she now does deliveries at the hospital, it seems likely that her philosophy toward unnecessary interventions will be similar to mine. But how do you find out whether a midwife or doctor is the right one for you? It doesn't really seem possible to know how they will be at the birth until you get there; with Little Bear, I liked the midwife I was working with pretty well up until we got to the hospital, and then I... really didn't. She moved, I found a new midwife I liked, but then she moved right around the time that we lost Alex and I was transferred to the care of an OB, who was okay until recently and now I'm not comfortable working with him. So I'm a little nervous about finding someone who I'll actually be okay working with all the way through this pregnancy. Are there any questions you would ask a new-to-you doctor? Is it okay for me to tell her briefly about Little Bear's birth and what was particularly hard for me, as long as I don't say anything negative about the midwife I was seeing at that time?

06 November 2014

Theme Thursday: Brick

Oops; I almost missed Theme Thursday! It's still Thursday in my time zone, though it's probably not (at least for too much longer) elsewhere. 

A fun evening with a friend wound up resulting in a pushed-back bedtime for Little Bear, and then he sure took his sweet time falling asleep... so I'm off to bed as well. Fortunately, I already have a pretty good photo for this week's theme of "brick":

Ta-da! The lovely brick fireplace that's keeping us warm this winter, and our pregnancy announcement photo that I think I forgot to post here earlier! 

Check out more Theme Thursday snapshots at Clan Donaldson!

04 November 2014

Drunken Noodles

My favorite Thai dish. The "drunken" part supposedly refers to how much you have to drink to cancel out the spiciness; there's no alcohol in it! I prefer it not-so-spicy, though, so it's a little of a misnomer...

Matt and a friend from work have been taking that Gourmet Asian Cooking class together, and last week their focus was on Thailand. They didn't make this particular dish in class, but because they've been talking about bringing home their Asian cooking skills and making something for me to try for a while now, and we were all thinking about Thai food after their class, they decided to try making a batch for us all for supper. Since Little Bear would be eating too, and Baby Kit hasn't been a big fan of spicy food so far, they left out the actual chilis that the original recipe called for and used sweet chili sauce instead. It was a great idea: we got all of the flavor without the heat.

2 14oz packages 1/4"-wide flat rice noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 small garlic cloves, diced
3 to 4 chicken breasts, diced 
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup light/golden soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 12oz packages frozen mixed broccoli/carrots/cauliflower, thawed 
6 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring often. Drain.

When the noodles go in, start heating oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add chicken, fish sauce, both soy sauces, and sugar and saute until chicken is cooked through.

Add chili sauce, vegetables, and noodles. After combining thoroughly, add more chili sauce if desired.

Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and scatter with the basil. Serve immediately.

(The menfolk ate the leftovers for lunch on Monday, including Little Bear, and unanimously declared it to be even better after the flavors had a chance to meld overnight. So don't be afraid to make the full recipe! It looked like a lot, but it sure disappeared quickly.)

Okay, Little Bear wasn't that sophisticated in his praise of it. But he very happily ate it all up, pointing out the different elements as he stabbed them with his fork: "Carrot, noodle, broccoli, LEAF!!!" The basil made quite the impression!

01 November 2014

Seven Quick Takes: All Hallows' Weekend

Little Bear is down for an early nap after last night's bedtime fiasco, and there's a whole list of things I should be doing with this block of time before we leave in an hour (or less) for the All Saints party. Working on the freelance project due Monday. Working on the other freelance project due Friday. Sewing the second horn onto Little Bear's blue ox hat. Taking a nap of my own. Getting changed and brushing my hair.

Instead, I'm sitting here eating crackers, trying to convince myself that going to the party and doing errands afterwards is a good idea even though I feel the sickest I ever have in all three pregnancies so far. "You can stay home and feel sick and have to deal with Little Bear alone," my rational brain argues, "or you can go and hope that the cold air outside helps, and even if it doesn't and you still feel sick, you can sit in the corner with your eyes closed while other people keep an eye on Little Bear."

I'm pretty sure the rational side will eventually win, because the only argument the rest of me can muster is "But I feel siiiiiick..."

I've gotten the house up to 80 F every time I've built a fire this week! The thermostat is set at 60, so mornings can feel chilly if I banked the fire down by 8 the night before. One (of the many) advantages of the nights when Matt doesn't work late or have class is that he keeps the house at 80 until 10pm, and then it's still at least 65 when we get up the next morning. It's like there's an invisible thermal barrier in the hallway, though; even with the living room at 80, take three steps past the fireplace down the hall and the temperature tumbles drastically. We've finally decided to get an electric heater, and run it in Little Bear's room for an hour or so before he goes to bed. We wouldn't leave it running in his room while he was in there, but we need to do something about how cold his room gets -- most nights my nose is pretty cold by the time I'm done putting him to sleep!

Did anyone else actually hear and announcement last weekend at Mass, or see something in a bulletin, saying that the Solemnity of All Saints has been abrogated as a holy day of obligation this year? It seems like here, they just assumed that if they didn't explicitly say that it WAS a holy day of obligation, nobody would even think of the possibility of going to Mass on November 1. It confused me to no end this week: One parish in the next town over announced their Masses for All Saints and All Souls on Facebook, and so I thought perhaps it hadn't been abrogated, but our parish isn't offering Mass for All Saints at all; the Saturday vigil will be All Souls, because that's Sunday's Mass. I'm so disappointed that we can't realistically make it to Mass for All Saints; the one parish that is offering Mass is probably close to 50 minutes away from where we live now, and it's at 9am. Between Matt and Little Bear, and the ridiculously small amount of sleep I got last night, it's probably not possible for us to make it.

...And now it's Saturday night. Happy nearly-belated solemnity! Little Bear was so wound up last night, bedtime took forever and then some, and the one morning Mass in the next town over did indeed prove unattainable. We did sing "For All the Saints" with Little Bear several times—he was quite excited about the "church song"—and talked about saints with him and read his book of saints. I'd intended to make a nice meal for the solemnity, but the baby nixed that plan... Supper was a somewhat cobbled-together affair, but Little Bear and I did make chocolate pudding for dessert. (Instant pudding, and the 2-year-old honestly did more of the work than I did. First trimester is so much fun.)

I wish I had photos from the All Saints party yesterday afternoon! Little Bear was very proud of his St Romanos the Hymnographer getup; okay, he didn't know who he was supposed to be, but he did know that it was a costume and costumes are exciting. Going to a party with a bunch of big kids was also exciting; by the time it was over, he'd given up the "pick you up, Mama" refrain and was following his youngest aunt around on his own without too much trouble. The doctor didn't say to keep him off of his leg, just that he'd likely want to stay off it for a couple of days, so we figured he was probably fine.

And I did finally finish his other costume in time for trick-or-treating last night:

Such an exciting hat.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox had great fun during our first foray into trick-or-treating! Matt and I drove Little Bear and my youngest siblings around my parents' neighborhood. We were the only ones that stopped by most of the houses, and people were so happy to see the kids. I noticed halfway through that they'd unintentionally put together a "frontier" theme: we had Paul Bunyan and Babe, Daniel Boone, Laura from Little House on the Prairie, and a gold miner.

One last photo, and I'll post before I'm two days late again. After building this morning's fire, we were all out of kindling and down to the last row of wood in the deck wood rack, so Matt spent two hours out splitting wood this afternoon and refilled the rack and kindling buckets. Little Bear had fun helping him stack the wood for a little while:

Stop by Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

30 October 2014

Theme Thursday: Crack

You can't see it, but it's there...

So today's been interesting.

Last night, Little Bear tripped on the bottom step of the staircase as he was walking downstairs. He cried a little at the time, but was easily comforted and soon he was playing happily again. A little bit later, he got up to walk over to me and he was upset, favoring his right foot, asking me to kiss it (because it hurt). Since then, he has been unhappy about being asked to walk; he can, and it doesn't hurt enough that he cries, but he looks unhappy and asks "Mama pick you up!" So of course I've just been carrying him everywhere.

After talking with other moms and then the pediatric nurse this morning, I brought Little Bear in to his doctor's office. The pediatrician wound up not ordering X-rays, instead sending us over to an orthopedic surgeon so the expert could make that call. 

After doing a physical exam, the orthopedic surgeon was pretty sure that Little Bear does have a tiny fracture somewhere in his foot/ankle/leg, but because he didn't complain at all during the exam, the doctor believes that the fracture is very very very small and not a big deal. Because Little Bear is so young and it's clearly not painful to the touch, he said, a) it's not going to show up on an X-ray, and b) the best course of action is to just let him be and it'll heal on its own. If he still isn't willing to walk on it by next Wednesday I'm to bring him back in, but it sounds like we just have a few days of him laying around or being carried ahead of us. I'm glad that it doesn't look serious!

We didn't get out of the orthopedic surgeon's office until after 2pm, and this morning had been crazy enough that I didn't really eat breakfast, so we were all hungry. Because he'd been such a good boy through two doctor visits and allowed both doctors to do the exams they needed to, I decided that he deserved a reward and took him to Pizza Hut on our way home. Tummy full of pizza, he fell asleep for the nap I'd kind of decided we were skipping today just a few blocks down the road.

...And now I'm regretting letting him, because predictably, it's 11:45 pm and I've finally gotten him to sleep and successfully escaped without him waking back up, and I don't know that I expect it to last...

For more "Theme Thursday"s that are probably much more in line with today's theme than mine actually was, hop on over to Clan Donaldson.

28 October 2014


Halloween. Every year, I encounter more Catholic and Christian moms who are emphatic that Halloween is objectively evil and their family will not be participating in any way: no costumes, no going door-to-door for candy, no handing out candy from their door. And every year, I kind of scratch my head and give them a puzzled look, then go on with my own business and throw together a costume for Little Bear at the last minute out of ephemera from the sock drawer and the sewing closet.

A part of it must come back, as so many things seem to, to the fact that I grew up in a fairly rural part of Alaska. This morning it was -2 F (negative, as in below 0) as I drove Matt to work. We aren't going to be seeing anyone trick-or-treating in miniskirts here. I grew up in a neighborhood with few kids, and we never really encountered any overly gory costumes. Most people don't do creepy (or any) exterior decorating here, because what's the point if it's all just going to get covered in snow? We and our neighbors did carve pumpkins, but setting out your jack-o'lanterns for longer than a few hours on Halloween night was inviting disaster: I can't tell you how many years we woke up to the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP of moose rolling our pumpkins off the front porch to eat them.

No, really. My brother probably still holds a grudge that I set his favorite cap on a jack-o'lantern one night, and we found it the next morning covered in frozen moose slobber amid the remains of a pumpkin.

Where we live, houses are far enough apart that--especially with our typical late-October weather--kids don't wander door-to-door on their own: mom or dad drives around the neighborhood with a passel of kids in the car, and at least at our house, Mom was always done after maybe two streets of houses and that's just how it was. We all dumped our haul in the middle of the living room floor, bargaining with each other for our favorites, and then squirreled our candy away in the hopes that Dad wouldn't find it and it'd have a chance of lasting until Christmas.

(We also had a rule, as long as I can remember, that we only ever ate candy on holidays and Saturdays. So we could have a piece of candy on Halloween night, and then it got hidden in the antique coffee pots above the kitchen cabinets until the next Saturday, when we'd hem and haw for easily 15 minutes over which one piece we wanted to have that day. My younger siblings are pretty darn good at both hiding their candy from Dad/each other, and at making it last; I don't think that any of them have ever run out of candy between Halloween and Christmas, and Lent definitely helps stretch their Christmas candy until Easter. Rather than being an occasion of sugar overload and gluttony, Halloween was really an exercise in resource management.)

So, evil? I just don't see it. My experience of Halloween has always been lighthearted fun, and since we now live in the same environment in which I had that experience growing up, I don't have any qualms about introducing Little Bear to the celebration of Halloween I knew as a kid.

I'm sure it's different in other places. When we lived in town the first few years of our marriage, there were certainly a few houses in our neighborhood that went overboard on the creepy decorating; we usually went over to my parents' house on Halloween night, so I don't know what the ratio of fine-to-objectionable costumes might have been (we were in a suburban neighborhood just a couple of blocks from an elementary school, and there were a lot of kids in the area). But does the fact that some people try to make Halloween exclusively about horror mean that Catholics should refrain from celebrating Halloween?

This bit from an interview with Fr. Steve Grunow from Word on Fire Ministries jumped out at me:
What do you think of the trend of parents boycotting Halloween on account of it being evil? What would you say to them if they told you such? Not safety or healthy concerns keeping kids indoors, but abject opposition to something believed to be satanic or terrorizing?
Fr. Steve: There is a lot that is unsavory about the contemporary celebration of Halloween. What does the singular focus on violence, horror and death have to say about our culture? The traditional, Catholic Halloween placed these realities within the context of Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil. The current secularized version of the festival has no salvific content and has been loosed from its theological moorings. It looks very much like a festival of death for a culture of death and for that reason I can see why parents might be concerned.
But what is the proper response to a culture of death? To lock the Church behind closed doors or to let her out into the world? I think it is time for Catholics to accept the religious liberties that this culture claims to afford them and go public with their own festivals- and to do so dramatically and with a great deal of public fervor. What is holding us back? What are we afraid will happen? The reticence and fear that characterizes Catholics is costing the Church its unique culture and it is allowing the culture of death to flourish.  Halloween should not be a day when our churches go dark and Christians retreat into the shadows, but when we fill the darkness with Christ's light and go out into the culture, inviting everyone to the prepare for the festival of the Saints with all the joy we can muster.
You can find the whole interview here: It's Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween

"The reticence and fear that characterizes Catholics..."  Ouch. Fr. Grunow isn't saying here that Catholics have to be actively engaged in every aspect of modern Halloween celebrations, certainly. But he is challenging parents to "reclaim" the Catholic roots of today's Halloween observances, reconnecting them to the context of Christ's victory over evil.

What does your family do on Halloween?

Here are some more Catholic perspectives on Halloween I appreciated:

Halloween: The Real Story

How to think about Halloween as a Catholic

On Halloween

Don't Bubble-Wrap Your Kids