22 April 2014

Easter Joy

Yesterday certainly felt like a continuation of our Easter! I'm pretty sure I can't think of a better way to have spent Easter Monday morning than visiting the midwife and having breakfast out at our favorite diner.

Matt took a half-day, and came with Little Bear and me to my first prenatal appointment for Squirrel. Nothing says "celebrating Easter" like being hopeful and excited about new life! Little Bear was good, Matt was able to get a feel for the practice I'm working with this time, and we got to tour their new birth center! It a beautiful, comfortable, state-of-the-art facility, and as long as this remains a low-risk pregnancy, I'd love to seriously consider having Squirrel there instead of in the hospital. Not something we have to decide for quite a while, obviously, but I'm really happy to know that it's an option.

Squirrel isn't quite big enough yet for the midwife to find a heartbeat with the Doppler, which was disappointing, but I kind of already knew that going in. Since my cycle dates were very irregular--a normal thing for nursing, but not super helpful for setting an estimated due date--I'm going back on Thursday for an ultrasound to confirm just how far along I am. I'm looking forward to seeing Squirrel moving around! Getting blood drawn wasn't exactly the highlight of my day, but everyone at the practice is so nice; I don't think I've ever had such a pleasant, cheerful phlebotomist! And having five vials of blood drawn was the perfect excuse to go have a high-protein breakfast afterward.

Celebrating Easter--and making up for my bloodwork--and taking advantage of Matt's time off, we had a delicious late breakfast on the way home: omelets with reindeer sausage and hash browns for both of us, Matt's with sourdough toast, mine with sourdough pancakes. Little Bear happily put away a slice of buttered toast and quite a bit of my omelet!

Yesterday we were talking about finding ways to try to keep celebrating this Easter season all the way up through Pentecost. We are so conditioned, culturally, to "put away" one holiday as soon as the day ends and start looking forward to and preparing for another; it feels so strange to consider leaving a basket of pysanki or the Resurrection icon on the kitchen table into June! I heard someone suggest having dessert every night all through the Easter season, which sounds delicious, but probably is not the best idea for my pregnancy sugar levels. And we really need to get Little Bear to stop running around asking for (jelly) beans every five minutes. He's not getting them anywhere near that frequently! But he becomes very unhappy every time I try to redirect him, and it's getting old fast.

Praying the Regina Coeli is a simple, obvious way to celebrate Easter: from Holy Saturday through the Saturday after Pentecost, the Regina Coeli is said in place of the Angelus. I don't manage to say the Angelus every single day, but I do whenever I happen to notice that it's roughly noon; I'm going to try to say the Regina Coeli as many days as I can! If you, like me, forget how it goes over the course of the year, here are the words in English or Latin:

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia,
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia,
For The Lord is truly risen, alleluia!

Let us pray: O God, who through the resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ gave joy to the world, grant we pray, that through His mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joy of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Regina Coeli laetare, alleluia,
Quia quem mueristi portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia,
Quis surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!

Oremus: Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Jesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es, praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Gentricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Ha! God just makes things work out perfectly sometimes: I was just reading over my draft, getting ready to post, and my eyes happened to drift to the clock right as I reached the first words of the Regina Coeli... And of course, it was exactly noon!

How do you plan to carry the joy of Easter through the next 50 days?

20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christos voskrese!

I hope you are having a wonderful, beautiful, and very blessed Easter! Our day has been just about perfect so far, and after Little Bear's nap we are looking forward to dinner and the kids' egg hunt at my family's house. 

We sat in the third pew from the front this morning, close enough that Little Bear was quiet and still, staring at everything, for most of Mass. The church was packed, standing room only, so I'm glad we got there a half hour early! With all of those people and no air conditioning, it got hot; I had to run outside and sit on the front steps for ten minutes by the beginning of the Our Father because I was feeling faint. Squirrel and I had a discussion about not making Mama faint during Mass, and we made it through the rest okay.

How about an Easter (and Easter-prep) photo dump?

Decorating Easter egg cookies with Grandma

Dyeing eggs

Dyeing eggs with onion skins

Baking the Easter bread Holy Saturday evening. Those are raw eggs, dyed in red cabbage (blue), radish (purple), and annatto (orange)

Hands down, his favorite thing in the basket was Go Dog Go. "Beans!" were popular as well

Egg! Egg, Mama! He was so excited to see them poking out of the bread

My first attempt at my mom's Italian Easter bread was a success! 

What I Wore Easter Sunday with Fine Linen and Purple:
Cardigan borrowed from my sister
Dress from Motherhood Maternity
Pumps from Payless
Definitely starting to show at 9 weeks pregnant with Squirrel!

And Kendra's Answer Me This has an Easter theme this week:

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?
Well, mine is right up there because I was silly and didn't look at these questions before I started, and Little Bear is napping and Matt already took his tie off, so it's kind of too late to get a family Easter photo. They both wore khakis and dress shirts, though--Little Bear a blue, pink, white and mint check, Matt a pale blue--and Matt wore a fun yellow and blue artsy tie.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?
I don't have anything in particular against the Easter bunny, and we are definitely planning for years of egg hunts and basket-hiding, but we don't plan on saying the Easter Bunny is real... I guess we don't really plan on saying anything about the Easter Bunny at all. Maybe it's a bigger deal other places? People don't really talk about the Easter Bunny much here.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?
Growing up, we always celebrated holidays at our house; we had people over on most holidays, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 people, but we were always the hosts. It made sense, because we don't have any relatives within thousands of miles, and we were a big enough family that inviting us over probably intimidated most people, and we had a big yard for all of the kids to run around.

So being married, having our own home and growing our own family, and going over to my family's house for holidays now, it feels weird. There's a voice in the back of my mind telling me that we aren't really being adults because we aren't "doing holidays" at our own house. Which is absurd, because I certainly don't think that everyone who came to my family's holiday parties all those years weren't being adults! But I do look forward to some day having a home conducive to entertaining, and not being in the first trimester, and hosting a holiday on our own.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?
Chocolate. Smooth dark chocolate from Dove. But dark chocolate can have a lot of caffeine in it, and I'm allergic to caffeine, which is very sad. I eat it anyway, of course! But only a very little bit at a time. Peanut butter-filled chocolate, like the Reese's Pieces eggs I discovered this year, are also very good.

5. Do you like video games?
I have a funny vision problem called binocular instability, meaning that my eyes are constantly trying to focus individually rather than cooperatively, and it causes headaches particularly when I look at moving objects on screens. So video games are pretty much out.

With any media, there's plenty of trashy options to weed out, especially when it comes to deciding what kids should be allowed to play. Little Bear won't be old enough for that to even come into discussion here for years and years. I think video games can be a great tool for education and mentally-engaging entertainment, though; certainly they require more thought than staring passively at a television program! The opportunities for cooperative, interactive gameplay, too, are a definite bonus that other types of media do not offer.

6. Can you speak another language?
I can read Latin passably, although after not really using it for so long it's slipping. That knowledge lets me puzzle out the occasional Spanish, French or Italian phrase in older books where the authors simply assume that readers are literate in several languages. I can't really speak any other language, though. Although since today is Easter, I actually know a fair bit of pertinent Church Slavonic and have been singing it off and on all day!

Enjoy your Easter Sunday, and the coming octave week of celebration!

Christ is risen from the dead
By death He trampled death
And to those in the tombs
He granted life!

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.