29 August 2014

SQTF 100: Celebrating August saints, Cinderella, and fall

I
This month I did a better job of planning meals to help us remember and celebrate the saints' feast days. Planning being the operative word; sometimes we wound up skipping those meals, or they got shuffled to other days. But at least we're taking steps in that direction! We did manage to make a few of the planned meals, and those nights we definitely did take note of the saint whose day we were celebrating, so I'm hoping I'll do a better job of actually making these meals happen in September!

(Today being the commemoration of the beheading of St John the Baptist, I'm slightly afraid to do a Google search for other people's meal ideas. Thankfully I'm off the hook for dinner prep at all tonight, because Matt is working late!)

II


August 14: St Maximillian Kolbe. 

The plan was to have polska kielbasa and pierogi, but as I went to put the sausages in the pan, I discovered that I'd thawed bratwurst instead. Close enough!

III
August 23: St Rose of Lima.

For my nameday, Matt grilled chicken breasts stuffed with Swiss cheese and coarsely-diced garlic. He added hickory chips to the coals to give the chicken a smoky flavor, and it was amazing! Not exactly Peruvian, but making a nice dinner on a day of the week that we normally don't put that much effort into cooking certainly helped to make the day special.

IV

August 26: Our Lady of Częstochowa.

This has always been one of my favorite images and stories of Our Lady: the miraculous image received the two scars on her cheek when Hussites tried to steal the icon in the 1400s, and she saved the Jasna Góra monestary from invading Swedes in the 1600s. We did manage to thaw the Polish sausage this time, and enjoyed it with some Bavarian sauerkraut because I'm apparently incapable of keeping German food out of my Polish menus.

V
I've been away from the Lower 48 for long enough that it's surreal to talk to my siblings at college in Ohio and hear about their weather. August is the hottest month there, and they are complaining about 80s and high humidity while in the same breath being grateful that it's not over 100 F. It's so weird; I was wearing a sweater yesterday. There is a frost warning for the next couple of nights, and  we aren't really expecting to see the thermometer hit 60 degrees (above zero, at least!) for the next eight or nine months. I love these cool, crisp days we've been having, light rain, actual wind, the birches outside our bedroom window turning golden leaf by leaf. Maybe—okay, most likely—I'll be missing Ohio in October or November when they have cool weather and pretty trees, but right now I'm sure glad to be here instead!

VI
What is your favorite fall drink? We have been enjoying the apple cider Matt accidentally brought home last week instead of apple juice! I picked up a small tin of hot cocoa mix at the grocery store earlier this week, too, but haven't made any yet for Little Bear.

VII

Behold, Cinderella in athletic socks. Good to know my fun shoes see the light of day every once and a while...

Have a good weekend! Stop by Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

28 August 2014

The excitement never ends

There doesn't seem to be a Theme Thursday post up yet at Clan Donaldson, so maybe I'll be posting again later, but I've been putting off posting all week so I had better write something today! Bear with me; it's going to be a jumble, because my mind's going in a million different directions this morning.

Little Bear's recent "thing" has been answering his own questions when he knows he isn't going to like our answer: "Light on? Fan on? Okay, okay!" Or this morning, making breakfast:

Mama: Do you want oatmeal or yogurt?
Little Bear: Ice cream? Okay!

He's (slowly!) learning to at least acknowledge when he's done something wrong; it's pretty much impossible to make him say "sorry," but this morning after he pulled the oatmeal box out of the trash can, making a mess of cucumber seeds and peels all over the floor, after I had scolded him and was cleaning up the floor he came up behind me and gave me a tight hug. "Hug! Love you," he whispered.

Today is laundry day, and he was in his last clean pair of jeans when he decided to pour the (cold) tea kettle into his lap while sitting on the counter watching me make quinoa. What is it about little boys and messes?

We only have one vehicle and live out in the woods, six and a half miles from Matt's work, maybe another mile or two farther to the grocery store, etc. Too far to walk with Little Bear, and there's no public transportation this far out of town, so whenever I need to go to town I drop Matt off in the morning and pick him up in the evening. It's not a long drive, and traffic is never bad, so it shouldn't be a big deal. It isn't. But it's enough of a drive that in order to save gas, I really try to do errands right after dropping him off instead of going back home for a while. 

The problem? Other than the grocery stores and some hardward stores, none of the places I ever want/need to go open before 9 or 10 am.  I've had the jeep three days this week, and both Tuesday and Wednesday I had to try to invent errands to keep me in town long enough to stop at places that didn't open until 9. Yesterday I gave up after stopping at both of the craft stores in town for a zipper pull and finding neither open; Little Bear and I just spent a half hour at a park.


I'm conflicted: I like being able to get out of the house and not go crazy, but having the car means disruptions to our daily structure, often long ones if I have to wait around for something to open. Parks won't be an option in another month and a half: there'll be snow on the ground. Doing errands in the afternoon before picking Matt up isn't optimal either; traffic is worse then, winter roads can be slicker in the afternoons, and I'd lose my supper prep time. I don't think there's really any perfect solution.

At least for now, all of the parks are empty in the mornings because most kids are in school! 

This week I tried to correlate meals with feast days, but things haven't worked out the way I planned. We were supposed to have smoked Polish sausage with sauerkraut on Tuesday for Our Lady of Czestochowa, but we wound up getting home late and just had quick hamburgers. Now that the sausage is thawed, we're cooking it tonight instead of the Mediterranean food I'd planned—happy feast of Saint Augustine! I still made the quinoa-cucumber-feta salad that was on today's menu this morning, though, so Matt can have something meatless to take for lunch tomorrow.

Quinoa-eaters, I need help: what is the trick to getting rid of the aftertaste? This morning I rinsed a half cup of quinoa in cold running water for four minutes, stirring it constantly; it's better than it has been in the past, but it's definitely still there! I've had quinoa cooked by other people that didn't even have a trace of the acrid residual taste, so there has to be something I'm doing wrong.

Enough random for one day? Yes, I think so too. (I guess I know which parent Little Bear gets the "answering his own questions" from!)

24 August 2014

The last Answer Me This?

Oh, no; Kendra is thinking of discontinuing Answer Me This! I hope she keeps it around at least as a once-a-month thing—I've really enjoyed participating!


1. What is your favorite picture book?
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey. 

2. Are you a boycotter?
There are a few things I don't buy, like Starbucks and Girl Scout cookies, because of the direct nature of their support for inappropriate behaviors. But when it's more a question of "the CEO of X Corp supports Y," no. I don't keep up on the list of all of the companies that have ever given to Komen, etc. It's hard enough to keep a budget and shop for a single-income family in a high cost-of-living state without ruling out companies like Amazon and Walmart.

3. How do you feel about cheese?
Cheese is a gift from God to humanity. I don't think I've ever encountered a cheese I genuinely disliked. 

4. How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?
One, of the cheap plastic variety. I just know that if I ever get a nice pair, I'll lose or break them.

5. How long has it been since you went to the dentist?
Just a couple of months; I think it was late May or early June.

6. If you could visit any religious site in the world, where would you go?
Traveling honestly holds so little appeal for me... Visiting new places and religious sites sounds, no, I can't even say that. I want to say that it sounds nice in theory, but it doesn't, really. It sounds like something that other people do, something that I'm sure they enjoy, and I'm glad they get to go, and I love seeing their photos. But I'm not even the tiniest bit jealous, because the idea of me doing so is overwhelming. Even traveling to see family in the contiguous United States involves a 12- to 24-hour plane trip, usually with several hours attempting to sleep on an airport floor in the middle of the night, before we even get into a rental car and start driving; going anywhere else would be even farther away, even more insane of a trip. 

Oh! Okay, I have it: the California Missions. Only about eight hours of plane trip away, no passports, no language barrier; I loved seeing the Carmel Mission before Little Bear was born, and I think we would all enjoy visiting again.

22 August 2014

Seven Quick Zzzzs

There's no way I'm going to make it through seven today, but I have to break out of this "if I don't have the time and energy to write a really great post I'm just not going to write at all" mindset, so look, words on a page!

I
Last night... may have been the worst night I've had since Little Bear was born. I think we even got more sleep the time Little Bear was in the hospital at 6 months old. Getting his two-year molars in continues to be awful: He dozed fitfully, waking up and crying every 20 minutes or so, from the time he went to bed until 3:00 am. Then he was just up, crying and miserable, until I finally let him wander out to the living room around 5:00. I lay on the couch pretending to sleep and hissing "sh! whisper!" every other minute while he built a tower, played with toys, and brought me stories. When he finally started yawning during Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, I carried him back to bed. He fell asleep a little before 6:00, and didn't wake up again until 8:30, thank heaven!

II
He also has a runny nose for the first time in a long while today, and a low fever (from the cold or his teething or both... who knows?) so it's been another super-unproductive Friday of reading stories, cleaning up the duplos only to have them immediately dumped across the floor again, and glancing wistfully at my to-do list from across the room while the poor munchkin lays on me and whines. He's had a couple of happy moments, usually stemming from him throwing the nasal aspirator behind the couch and then giggling as I try to fish it out again.

III 
A happy moment from earlier this week: Little Bear was listening as I looked through the phone book for a number, and he walked up behind me and happily recited, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, seven, ten!" I was so surprised! He's doing a great job with his numbers.

IV
Two cords of wood have shown up at our house this week, and we're expecting a third tomorrow. We have two pallets end-to-end alongside the driveway waiting for us to stack the wood; hopefully we will finish this weekend. A cord is 4'x4'x8', and the two pallets we have total 22' in length, so we have to decide whether to look for a little 4' square pallet to finish it off or just stack the extra 32 cubic feet of wood on top of the rest. Gosh, that sounds like a lot when you multiply it out! I'd been thinking "the pallets are only shy two feet, that's not a whole lot of wood left over," but it really is. Maybe we should have a small 4'x4'x2' pile under the eaves near the front door, so that when we have to bring in wood in the middle of winter it won't be as far away and the logs won't have snow on them.

V
...that's all I've got. Little Bear is finally napping, and I definitely need to get some sleep myself in case we have a repeat of last night tonight. (Please, please, no!)

Have a good weekend! Stop by Conversion Diary for some real 7QT.

21 August 2014

Theme Thursday: Google Image Search edition

I've been doing a pretty awful job of getting back into a regular posting cycle, I admit. Can we just blame summer? Not that I actually think I'm slacking on account of summer, but it seems like a convenient excuse... Okay, never mind.

I've seen other people linking up for "Theme Thursdays" for quite a while, and since a) I'm better about posting when there's a link-up involved, and b) I'm an expert in never ever ever taking photos and I keep meaning to change that, I figured that a weekly themed photography challenge might help on both counts. So it was equal parts funny and frustrating to discover this morning that I really truly couldn't fulfill today's prompt.

Hostess Cari Donaldson gave everyone an easy slacker prompt today, saying, "Just type your name into Google images, and take the first picture that shows up.  Slap that on your post for today, and link up." But when I Googled my name, this is what I got:



A bunch of photos from stuff I've pinned to my Pinterest account, plus my silhouette. Pretty girl with the braids that's the first result? Definitely not me. I don't even think that came from my Pinterest, so I have no clue what she's doing there. The silhouette is the only photo that's actually directly related to me; it was taken last summer after Mass one Sunday.

I guess it's nice to realize that my Facebook and Google privacy settings are working!

17 August 2014

Answer Me This with a couch

I am being sneaky this week and killing two birds with one photo: my answer for the first Answer Me This question today features our new-from-Craigslist couch and my outfit for What I Wore Sunday!

Little Bear was still and quiet for most of Mass—sitting in the second row from the front, right behind some older, well-behaved kids probably had a lot to do with that. I love that we're starting to feel like we belong in this community: there are several families with kids close in age to Little Bear, and others whom we genuinely look forward to seeing every week. After Mass today we stopped at my parents' house on our way home to say goodbye to my brother, who heads back to college this evening. While we were there Matt got a text back from a guy he'd contacted last night about a couch on Craigslist: if we could come get it now, we could have it for a very good price. Good thing we were with my brother, who has a pickup truck! We are now the happy owners of a big puffy beige couch and four turquoise pillows (which they threw in for free!)

As far as WIWS, I'm being lazy today; I have no idea what any of the brands are, top and skirt are both old and thrifted, but the shoes have a story behind them: Matt was in a friend's wedding in Ohio when Little Bear was three months old, and I found out five minutes into the wedding that the only pair of dress shoes I'd brought with us from Alaska were absolutely too small for my recently-swollen-from-pregnancy feet. Never pack heels without trying them on when you're traveling across the country! I made it through Mass, and then there was a several-hour break before the reception so the wedding party could take photos, so one of Matt's other household brothers took me to a shoe store and watched Little Bear so that I could find some new shoes and my feet wouldn't be killing me for the rest of the night!

1. What is your favorite room in the house?
It's a toss-up between our kitchen and our living room; the kitchen is huge compared to any of the other places we've rented, and has a ton of storage, and it's bright and pretty. But the living room is where we spend most of our time as a family, and I like how open it is—especially with windows cut into the kitchen—and that we have a fireplace, a bunch of south-facing windows, and now a very nice couch:


2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?
We do: there's Catholic Digest, which I honestly couldn't stand before but have loved since Danielle Bean was put in charge and they updated their design; we've been getting it pretty much since her tenure began and I don't remember ever encountering a theologically- or morally-questionable article, which is more than I can say for some of the issues I remember from when I was in middle or high school. We also get Food Network Magazine, which has so many fun recipes. Oh, and it's not a subscription but I do enjoy reading the quarterly alumni magazine Franciscan Way from our alma mater.

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?
Overdone, I suppose; I think the best and most charitable word might be "distracting." The Consecration just happened; Christ is literally right there on the altar in front of us, and having the church erupt into boisterous chatter is horribly jarring. I certainly wouldn't say that this is always the case, but I've seen too many instances of people becoming overly enthusiastic to the point of pretty clearly forgetting that they're in the immediate presence of God. I'm so grateful that the Holy See has formally urged bishops to reign in excesses and help people remember to be decorous in sharing the sign of peace.

4. What is your least favorite sound?
Any kid-related noise other than breathing that happens between 1 and 5 am. :-P Okay, honestly? A child crying in pain. It's so awful knowing they're hurting, but being unable to take the pain away. 

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?
As a kid, I loved the Wishbone series about the dog who was so well-versed in classic literature; in fact, I'd probably go so far as to say that watching Wishbone in elementary school is one of the main reasons I love reading so much today.

I also have fond memories of Magic Schoolbus, Reading Rainbow, Kratts' Creatures (their original one), and the Red Green Show. Hmm... one of these things is not like the others. Also, I definitely never realized as a kid that I was pretty much only watching "educational television."

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?
I don't really watch TV anymore... I just don't have time, and in the few spare minutes I do find myself sitting still with nothing to do, I'd rather pick up a book or blog. I have enjoyed watching the occasional episode of Doctor Who with Matt over the past few years, though. And we badly need to catch up on Sherlock; we've only seen through the first episode of the second season, even though we both thought it was great—we really just don't have time.

16 August 2014

Seven Late Takes about two-isms and Saturdays

I
Little Bear doesn't have a problem knowing how letters are supposed to be pronounced; he just pronounces them however he wants anyway. This became more apparent the other day when he brought me the book Blueberries for Sal and asked to sit on my lap and hear it: "Sal! Wop." Really, child? "Wop"? Don't try to tell me that you can't pronounce l's and a's, because you just said "Sal" perfectly.

II
This week, I finally stopped saying the sign of the cross for him while I moved his hands and instead asked him to say the words himself, and he knew them all with very little prompting. I start him with "In the name of the..." and he fills in "fawa, hon, howa piwit, Amen!" with a huge smile on his face. Yesterday at the end of Mass we found ourselves in the vestibule while they droned through unnecessary announcements, and Little Bear was very happy to keep dipping his finger in the holy water font and making the sign of the cross over and over.

III 
My favorite of his mispronunciations, though, has to be thermometer: he calls it a "wampa," pronounced exactly like the Star Wars snow monster. It's just too funny to hear myself slipping into his pronunciation and saying things like "Sit still so I can put the wampa on your head," or "No, we can't play with the wampa; it's bed time."

IV
Thursday night when we were trying to put him to bed, Little Bear decided that it was the perfect time to practice counting. "One car, two car. One bus, two bus. One car, two car, three car, four car, five car, ten car!" Kind of like counting sheep? Maybe. It took quite a while for me to get him quiet enough to fall asleep, but it worked for somebody: Matt fell asleep while Little Bear was still counting. 

V
Matt's been home from work recovering since his oral surgery on Wednesday, and at this point I well and truly don't know what day it is. Wednesday felt like Saturday, because he was home. Thursday felt like Saturday again. Friday felt like Sunday, because we went to Mass midday. And now today's Saturday again? My internal calendar is so confused, especially because Matt was gone when Little Bear and I got up this morning. He and my brother left at 6:00 am to go grouse hunting again, so when I woke up at 7:30 and he was gone, I initially assumed that today was Monday. Long weekends sound so nice in theory, but before they're over I always find myself wishing for the stability and rhythm of a normal week.

VI
What is your Saturday philosophy? Every Friday night or Saturday morning, I write out a list of everything that needs to be done over the weekend, and I try to cross everything off of the list on Saturday—preferably, Saturday morning. And every weekend, Matt sees my list and groans because to him, the weekend is for relaxing, and a few things will get done but they should be spread out over the weekend so overall it's still relaxed. I can understand his perspective; he went to work all week, and played with Little Bear or helped in the kitchen when he got home each night, and now he wants a break. And he knows that I work around the house all week while he's gone, so he wants me to take a break too; he's not just expecting me to work on Saturdays so he can rest. 

But if there are things to be done, I can't just sit down and relax. That's not how I'm made; I can't relax when my house is a mess and I'm aware of chores waiting for me. And so I feel guilty for having so much to do on the weekends, but it's hard for me to express to someone who hasn't experienced it just how difficult it is to accomplish actual housework during the week when every ten minutes there's another mess to clean up, or stinky diaper to change, or toddler hanging on my knees and whining because he wants to flick the light switch on and off. I don't think it's actually possible to keep the house perfect and take care of a toddler all day by yourself. So there's always a pile of chores left over by Friday night.

VII
And to me, cleaning the house and doing chores that could have been accomplished on Saturday isn't Sunday-day-of-rest behavior. Just because I've already dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, taken out the trash, etc., by midday Saturday doesn't mean that I should just put off whatever else is on the list until Sunday when I could do it Saturday afternoon. To my mind, at least. Growing up, my siblings and I had a strong sense of Sundays as being different, a day of rest, because we had Saturdays as an immediate comparison: Saturdays were for working. Housework in the morning, yard work in the afternoon, or in the evening once we were in high school and had jobs Saturday afternoons. Sundays were for Mass, family time, reading and relaxing and getting out in the woods and doing enjoyable things. And that's a distinction I'd really like Little Bear to have as he grows up, too.

Have a good weekend! For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!