17 April 2014

Blessed Triduum!

Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday are definitely "Martha" days for me, running around the apartment cleaning and baking and preparing all the things. Hopefully I have all of the chores sorted well enough that Good Friday, at least, can be quiet and prayerful.

This morning my housecleaning was accompanied by the rich, deep tones of the Great Litany rolling forth in Slavonic from the stereo... definitely a good way to begin the Triduum! All clutter is gone from every flat surface in the living room/dining room/office/kitchen, and the table is bare except for a strip of purple-edged burlap under an icon of the Way of the Cross and the Crucifixion. The rest of today is spoken for in finishing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, baking hot cross buns and preparing a nicer supper in commemoration of the Last Supper: a small roast, mashed sweet potatoes, a spinach salad, and applesauce.

I'm taking a few days' break from the blog, to focus on preparations, family, and the events of the next few days. Have a blessed Triduum!

16 April 2014

Jidáše for Spy Wednesday

I know, I know. I said that I wouldn't add anything else to this year's list of things to make and do for Holy Week and Easter, that I'd keep things simple and manageable and strive for peace over doing all the things.

But it's Spy Wednesday. We can't just not do anything! So this crazy lady is making Jidáše, Judas rolls, to go with supper tonight.

What is Spy Wednesday? Well, it's not an official or liturgical term, but today, the day before Holy Thursday, is traditionally held to be the day that Judas Iscariot met with the chief priests and arranged to hand Christ over for 30 pieces of silver; we hear this story in today's Gospel reading (Mt 26: 14-25). Emphasizing Judas' duplicity, today's Gospel concludes with Judas' query, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" as the disciples discuss the revelation that the betrayer sits among them, and Christ's response of "You have said so." As Matthew records it, Judas is the only one whom Christ answers individually; was He offering Judas one more opportunity to change his mind and act according to his professed wish not to be the betrayer? I wonder.

But Judas didn't repent before handing Christ over, and when he did finally realize what he'd done, he fell into despair and hanged himself. 

Eastern European Christians serve Jidáše (yi-dah-shey), rolls twisted in the shape of a rope like the one Judas hanged himself with, either today or tomorrow. Here is the recipe I'm using, adapted from Catholic Cuisine:

1 cup milk
2 1/4 Tablespooons yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk beaten with a little water for an egg wash
Honey thinned with water for a glaze

Warm the milk; add yeast and sugar and allow to proof. In mixing bowl blend butter, egg and honey. Add flour and milk mixture, then lemon juice and salt. Cover and let rise one hour. Roll dough into ropes and shape in knots or nooses. Arrange on greased baking sheet and let rise while oven preheats to 375 F. Brush with egg wash and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Glaze with thinned honey while still hot.

Update: Matt says the nooses almost look more like money bags, which is even more appropriate to today's Gospel! So there's an alternate explanation to give your kids, if you'd rather not have hangman's-nooses at the dinner table. :-)

14 April 2014

Answer Me This

Answer Me This is a new linkup hosted by Kendra at Catholic All Year! If this first round of questions is any indication, they'll be a fun way to get to know other bloggers. Let's see if I can remember to join up every week... I totally forgot yesterday until after my WIWS post was up, but it's open until Wednesday, so I haven't missed it yet!

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?
Mornings, certainly, but a specific time? I'm not sure. We have been going to 10:30 am recently, but that's later than I like; ideally I'd say 8:30 or 9, I guess, but our parish doesn't offer any Masses that early. We used to go to 9 am at the parish in the next town over, but Little Bear is not at all a fan of the half hour drive. 

I grew up waking up early and going to 7:30 am Mass, and I do like that Mass at my parents' parish, but Sunday mornings are rushed and stressful when we try to be up and dressed and out the door that early. Matt's love of quiet, slow, peaceful Sunday mornings has certainly grown on me since we've been married, but I still with we could find an earlier Mass than we currently attend, so that Little Bear wasn't in almost-naptime-meltdown-mode by the end of Mass.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
Too cold! You can always put on another layer, but it doesn't work the other way... The one summer I spent in Ohio in college (in an attic room without air conditioning) was miserable!

3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?
I have six: four sisters and two brothers, all younger than me. My youngest sister is only four years older than Little Bear, and he loves going over to play with his aunts and uncles!

4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?
Probably a poisonous insect or snake... We don't have any in Alaska, and having to watch out for them (especially with kids!) has always been one of the things that terrifies me most about ever living somewhere else.

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?
Thumbs... up, I guess? We don't have any girls yet, so I haven't given it much thought. I played with them when I was younger, and I turned out fine. They were never my favorite toy, but I do remember my sister and I coercing our brother's muscleman action figures into marrying our Barbies.

All of the tiny plastic accessories that get lost and buried in the carpet were really annoying, now that I think about it. And stepping on the tiny high heels in the middle of the night because your sister left them in the middle of the floor? That hurt almost as much as stepping on Legos. But we certainly aren't banning Legos. Tastefully-dressed Barbies with minimal accessories will probably be allowed if we ever have girls, but I think I'd likely encourage other toys instead. The movies, though; while I haven't seen them, I've heard a great deal of unpleasant things about them, and there are certainly plenty of better things I can give the kids to watch.

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?
Anyone anyone? That's hard! To a new mom or soon-to-be mom, I know what I'd say:

When you go to the grocery store with a baby, you think that you want the closest parking spot to the door. But unless you're only getting one bag of groceries, you actually want the parking spot closest to the cart return!

13 April 2014

WIWS: 8 Weeks

Palm Sunday. The beginning of Holy Week. The last, most important stretch of Lent.

Kids just know, don't they? That you want so badly to have a good, peaceful, prayerful end of Lent. That these days are really important, and there are a ton of things to do. That you just went to confession, and don't want to yell anymore before Easter. 

That's why they turn into little monsters this week.

Little Bear spent the whole long Gospel kicking and screaming and sobbing out in the foyer. It has taken hours, literally, to put him to sleep at nap time and bed time. Yesterday evening, he poured goldfish all over the kitchen floor and went around the room methodically stomping on every. single. one.

It's Palm Sunday! I don't want to be sitting here frustrated to tears, angry with the boy, and my husband, and God for giving me kids and still expecting me to be a good Catholic. Putting Little Bear to sleep shouldn't leave me feeling like confession yesterday was pointless. How am I supposed to be a good parent, and a good wife, and a good Catholic, when one small boy can so easily make me so frustrated? After two hours of fighting with Little Bear about going down for a nap, I don't care what he wants to happily chatter to me about; I just want him to close his eyes and go to sleep and be a good obedient child already! And the twenty-seventh time his eyes pop open and he starts grinning and telling me about caterpillars, it's just too hard to hold my tongue and not yell at him to go to sleep.

And he stops, and stares at me. And then he closes his eyes, turns his head away, and falls asleep. It worked; I got what I wanted. And I feel so horrible.

I'll try to start over again and do better when he wakes up. And probably again ten minutes later, after he comes up with some new way of getting in trouble. And again, and again, and again for the rest of the week. "Peaceful" and "prayerful" are probably impossible goals for Holy Week at this stage in our lives, but I can keep trying for "not super frustrated all the time..."

Shirt: Style&co, thrifted
Skirt: Faded Glory, thrifted
Tights: not maternity... need to find some!
Boots: Canyon River Blues, Sears
Jacket: Cabelas
Necklace: gift from my mom
Earrings: made by my sister

Not exactly the same colors, but the greens, browns, and golds fit well with the rest of the outfit! It's been so long since I've actually worn jewelry; I'd forgotten how easy it was to feel dressed up in a less-fancy outfit with just a little bit of sparkle.

The skirt... It's getting retired until next spring. Thanks to Squirrel it's riding high enough that opaque tights are non-negotiable, and high enough that I don't have any slips short enough to keep it from sticking.

Have a nice Sunday, hopefully more peaceful than ours, and a blessed Holy Week. Don't forget to visit Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday!

11 April 2014

SQTF 85: Please Let it be Spring Soon?

Little Bear is definitely a member of my younger siblings' "as long a winter as possible" club, and he sure didn't learn that from either of his parents! We got another couple inches of snow earlier this week and have had below-0 mornings since Monday, and he has been so ridiculously happy to have his snow boots, heavy winter coat, and warm hat and mittens back out of the closet. Seriously, he brings me his wool hat at least once a day and asks to wear it, just while running around the house. If I take him somewhere in the afternoon when it's warmed up above freezing and try to put his breakup boots and lighter jacket on him, he freaks out, flings the jacket away, and runs to bring me the "right" boots. 

Yesterday's nap was cut short by the landlady vacuuming the hard floors right above us--why do people vacuum bathroom/kitchen floors?? why not just sweep them quietly??--and we really need a good nap today: Little Bear woke up with wet bedsheets at 1:30 this morning, I couldn't go back to sleep and finally took a shower at 2:45, and Little Bear was up again from 3:45 to nearly 5. Then he slept quietly until almost 6:30, when he got up for the day, wide awake and happy, prompting us to stick him on the floor with books and hide under our pillows for as long as he let us...

Usually by mid-April, it is still dipping below freezing at night, but the days are warm and sunny and the snow is melting. If the weather forecast can be trusted--and it's been depressingly accurate recently--we can look for high 40s to low 50s by Sunday and into the coming week! I am so happy; Little Bear may be sad to see his snow boots packed away again, but I'm very ready for winter to be over. Yesterday I took him by the migratory bird refuge, which usually by now would have lots of geese, maybe even swans, and it was completely silent and snowy and frozen over. We did have fun taking a short walk down the still-snowpacked trail, but really, it's time to be able to go outside and take part in spring activities.

We brought home Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar from the library yesterday. Little Bear likes looking at the caterpillar, likes counting the fruits, likes saying "ca-pillah," but for some reason he insists that we skip the page about Saturday when the caterpillar eats all of the random junk food. It's so strange.

We also borrowed two Robert McCloskey books: Make Way for Ducklings and One Morning in Maine. The second was more for me, since I hadn't seen it before, but Make Way for Ducklings should be popular after a few readings. He loves McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal, and Ducklings seemed like a good one now that we are hoping and pretending it's springtime.

It's so much fun to hear him learning to use words in new contexts! "Problem" has always been a clothing-associated word for him: his socks sliding down, his boots falling off, his pants coming unsnapped have all been "pobom"s. This morning, though, when Matt and I finally gave up on sleep and ganged up to tickle the little boy who made us wake up early, he would laugh and yell "pobom!" whenever we were both tickling him at the same time. Problem, Daddy! Problem! Too much tickling! :-)

I may have been a little premature in declaring myself to be doing a good job of making real suppers every night this week... Wednesday was a cheating night, because we went over to my parents' house, and yesterday I felt awful and Matt wound up making egg sandwiches for himself and Little Bear because I didn't want to move, let along look at food. I'll try again tonight... My weekly menu says noodles and broccoli with peanut sauce, but the last time I opened the peanut butter jar to give Little Bear some, the scent was way too much for me... Maybe I'll try to think of something less adventurous for tonight.

Somebody keeps adjusting the filters on my phone's camera, and my recent photos have all come out grainy. I really liked this one anyway, though; every time I see it, I remember that parenthood may cause us lots of frustration and lost sleep, but the joy so much more than balances all that out!

Have a great weekend! Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

10 April 2014

Easter Traditions

This is our... third?... Easter married--yes, I had to count; I'm pregnant, blame the baby--and so far, we haven't really done anything of our own to mark the holiday. We are still planning to spend this Easter with my family, but now that Little Bear is 21 months and definitely aware of and interested in everything going on around him, we figure it's time to start building some of our own family traditions as well. Talking about some of the things we grew up doing and wanted to continue was fun--we even went through the different types of candy that appeared in our baskets every year!

Here's the plan for Passiontide and Easter 2014:

Passion Sunday: veil the statues around the house

Palm Sunday: ice cream! A little Sunday fast-breaking to celebrate the triumphant entry into Jerusalem 

Holy Thursday: baking hot cross buns for the next morning, Holy Thursday Mass

Good Friday: eating hot cross buns, hard-boiling lots of eggs, potato soup for supper, stations of the cross and beginning the divine mercy novena, Good Friday evening liturgy

Holy Saturday: dyeing eggs, baking Italian Easter bread, filling Easter baskets in the evening and "hiding" them somewhere Little Bear can't possibly miss them the next morning

Easter Sunday: Mass, Easter bread and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and going over to my parents' house for the kids' egg hunt and dinner

There's a part of me that feels like we "aren't doing enough," but that part needs to go sit in the corner and be quiet. I'm pregnant. I have a teething toddler. I only have two hands! Baking hot cross buns and Easter bread, dying eggs, and filling baskets are certainly enough traditions to start with... and I'm certain I'll wind up making a few things to bring to dinner as well.

I've made the hot cross buns the last two years, though I think both times I forgot until Good Friday itself so we ate them on Holy Saturday instead. And I'm excited to try making my mom's Italian Easter bread this year; I've watched in the past, but she's always the one who makes it. I'm well aware that dyeing eggs makes moms crazy, but it was something I looked forward to every year as a kid... we will spread newspaper everywhere, and try to keep Little Bear out of the dye! I'd really like to make the traditional red-dyed eggs with onion skins, but I might not be quite crazy enough to attempt it this year. We will see.

Yesterday afternoon, Little Bear and I went to Michaels to find Easter baskets and Easter grass (the paper stuff, not the shimmery plastic awfulness that you find yourself picking out of the carpet a month later!). We had fun! He definitely had opinions on which baskets Mama and Daddy should have. I tried to pick small ones, and two even have handles that fold down, but I still have no idea where we are going to store this sudden multiplication of Easter things... It would be so much fun to be able to decorate for every holiday, but I have to remember that we just don't have the space right now! I can probably find room for three baskets in the top of the closet, though.

I know, of course, that the extra trappings and special foods aren't the main point of Holy Week and Easter. Planning all these ways to make our observance tangible for Little Bear, though, is really helping me look forward to the coming celebration with more excitement than the past few years!

09 April 2014

Back on the Horse

With the kiddo getting incisors (finally!) as well as top molars to match his extant bottom ones, and all of us not-sleeping accordingly... and waking up with a migraine the other day... and being super nauseous frequently... and Little Bear's completely unacceptable decision to take barely-one-hour naps these days... I've been slipping on keeping up with the blog. I know, some weeks are just going to be like that... I'm definitely counting down weeks until I'm out of the first trimester and will hopefully be done with the nausea, though!

I haven't entirely decided whether it's better to have the bulk of my nausea in the morning or afternoon--not that I have any control over that, obviously! Just in theoretical terms. So far, like with Little Bear, I've usually been better in the morning than the evening. It's helpful that I'm usually a functional human earlier in the day when Matt isn't around to help me wrangle Little Bear! By the time 5 pm rolls around, though, looking at food and making supper is pretty much the last thing I want to do. I know, use the slow cooker; but that entails remembering to thaw the meat ahead of time.... and that doesn't happen very often.

But! Thanks to Matt helping with the strong-smelling parts, I've managed to put decent suppers on the table two out of two days so far this week. Chicken Parmesan with pasta and cheesy garlic bread (for the boys; plain buttered toast for me) on Monday, and steak fajitas with corn on Tuesday. This baby has an odd fondness for strongly-flavored food: yesterday's steak in anything blander would have been unpalatable, but with enough chili powder, it was really good! I guess Little Bear likes his food spicy, too, so maybe they'll continue to have similar tastes as they get bigger?

The nausea held off a little longer than usual this morning, so we had a nice time in town after dropping Matt off at work: met my family after Mass and had breakfast, browsed the thrift store with the girls, and had many extra hands to help at the grocery store. All dresses were 40% off today, so we couldn't pass that up... I found one that'll look good with leggings in a few months, once I'm obviously pregnant and not just getting slightly rounder. My mom found a gorgeous mint green lace top in my size, which will definitely be making a What I Wore Sunday appearance as soon as spring comes back. And the highlight of the trip? A brand-new christening gown! Tags still on, with a bonnet, beautiful smocking and white-on-white embroidery and eyelet lace, for only $7! We borrowed my family's when Little Bear was baptized, but I've wanted to have one of our own.

I had extra help with shopping because my mom sent my three youngest sisters with me while she went to pick out Easter candy. I was shocked at how quickly we got through the store when I could send other people to go get things for me--a normal trip for Little Bear and I can take the better part of an hour. Then while Mom checked out, the girls kept Little Bear occupied at the front of the store looking at breakup boots so I could run through the Easter candy aisle myself. Not that I think he'd remember watching me pick it out, or even have any idea what it is; it was just much easier to not have to worry about him trying to open candy.

And so far this afternoon, Little Bear has had an hour and a half of nap, and is still snoring, and I'm only mildly nauseous... Hopefully the rest of the day stays this good!