28 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday {12}

Joining the lovely ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for another round!

Some days, Little Bear is so well-behaved at mass: sitting quietly, watching Father, chewing on holy cards. Maybe slipping out once, conveniently timed during the collection or a hymn, to change a diaper or feed him quickly. It's so nice to be able to enter prayerfully into the mass, and to enjoy having our little boy there with us. Today was not one of those days.

Today Little Bear yelled and whined and squirmed and kicked and bit his way through mass, taking several trips outside, refusing to eat or be calmed down in any other way I could think of. I think he's cutting another tooth, but we had even thought ahead and given him preemptive Tylenol before leaving the house! I was so thankful for the mom sitting next to me in the pew, her adorable five-month-old sitting silently in his carseat all the way through mass (how did they teach him that???), who picked Little Bear up for me as another meltdown was threatening, bouncing him and making faces until he cheered up.

It hasn't been a good weekend for taking him out of the house... Friday evening, we went to the kickoff for a new Catholic radio station which was held at one of the fanciest hotels in town. They said it was a family-friendly event in all of the advertising, but he was by far the youngest there... As the first speaker was opening the event, and I was wondering how long Little Bear would behave, he grabbed my mother's coffee and pulled it over on top of himself, knocking over two other water glasses with it. Of course he yelled--from surprise, not because he was hurt--and we took him out of the room quickly to clean him up. Thankfully the coffee was already lukewarm, and further diluted by the two glasses of icewater! He was perfectly fine, and he and I had fun wandering the second floor of the hotel lobby for the next hour. I'm sorry to have missed the main speaker; we kept walking past the open doorway, and from what I heard, he was just excellent! Not the type of speaker we get frequently enough here, unfortunately: I will feel badly for the radio station folks if the fact that their speaker called a spade a spade lost them donations, but it was so refreshing to hear someone say that using birth control is evil, and to do so in a manner assumptive of the fact that everyone there was a good Catholic and therefore agreed!

Yesterday Little Bear was introduced to a key part of Alaskan manhood: the gun show. The university basketball court was filled with purveyors of new and used guns, knives, and assorted paraphernalia, as well as a few antiques and jewelry sellers catering to the wives and sisters who invariably get dragged along to these events. Matt, my father, and another friend met up and talked guns for a while, Little Bear happily adding his voice to the din in the gym. The three of them are all looking for the same gun, so it was funny to watch them split up at the door and each canvass a different section of the gym, hoping to find it before the others. None of them found what they were looking for, at least at a reasonable price; I hear that if Matt had been the lucky one, it would have wound up being my Mother's Day present. :-)

It appears that Little Bear is learning what it means when someone puts shoes on... Last night he noticed his daddy getting ready to leave the house to spend a few hours with friends at a beer tasting sponsored by local microbreweries. Little Bear dropped his toys and began crawling as quickly as he could over to where Matt stood by the door, reaching upwards for a hug. He joined me at the front window to wave bye-bye, and became sad once Daddy was gone... Not having Daddy to play with in the evening did have one perk, though, in that Little Bear was asleep for the night an hour earlier than he has been recently! I may have regretted that decision when he was awake an hour earlier than usual this morning, but it did give us enough time to get up leisurely instead of throwing things on in a mad rush to make it to mass on time.

Today's mass attire:

Blouse: thrifted
Skirt: thrifted
Little Bear's clothes are all hand-me-downs--we've been so blessed with generous friends!

(Kindly ignore the scarf Little Bear was unraveling for me just before this picture was taken--no wonder he looks happy here; he was getting into mischief!)

26 April 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 27

A few weeks ago, I was complaining to Matt that I never get out of the house and do anything with people anymore; that I go grocery shopping and take the kid to the doctor and go to mass on Sundays, and that's all, ever ever ever. I am sooooooooo sorry to whoever heard me complaining and decided to teach me a lesson, pleasemakeitstopI'llnevercomplainagainIpromise. Since Wednesday, there has been at least one event on our schedule every single day through next weekend. And half of them interrupt nap time. I am so sorry for complaining. Not that I'm unhappy about any of the individual events, but good heavens, we are all going to go crazy.

It's been a while since we've had a photo of the little guy, hasn't it? Hard to believe he is only nine and a half months! He looks and acts older... Here he is eating a cookie at bedtime because his mom looked outside instead of at the clock and said "it can't be later than 6:30."

Does anyone else find denim skirts with slits up to the knees to be controversial articles of clothing? It seems that, here, wearing one makes pretty much everyone look at you like you're a terrible person: the conservative folks think you're dressing like a hooker, and the unconservative like you're an oppressed woman in a burka.

Speaking of clothing, I found the most gorgeous dress at the thrift store the other day! They had a rack of fancy dresses over by the dressing rooms, and I wasn't even going to look... Matt received this text when I got out to the car:
Your crazy wife tried on twenty skirts to find two that fit, then on her way to the register succumbed to marketing and bought a fancy party dress without even trying it on.
It was a Coldwater Creek, for $14. I couldn't help it. Sigh. I guess I have next year's Christmas dress taken care of!

We are beginning to consider how we will go about transitioning Little Bear from sleeping in our bed to his own. There's no firm deadline, but it would be nice to eventually go a night without being kicked in the face. :-) Since he's approaching ten months and is "sleeping through the night" (why do they define that as five hours? I think that's stupid--through the night should mean all night long), it seems like we might see success if we start trying soon. I picked up The No-Cry Sleep Solution and have appreciated Elizabeth Pantley's approach so far; I've read a lot of recent research indicating that crying it out can have negative effects on children, and we just can't put Little Bear (or ourselves!) through that.

If you haven't seen this yet, enjoy: a different sandwich for each day of the month.

So many kids are getting ready to receive their First Eucharist or Confirmation this time of year; don't forget to keep them and their families in your prayers!

So glad that our host, Jen, is back and she and her newest little one are doing well! Stop over to see her and the rear of the Quick Takers at ConversionDiary.com.

25 April 2013

Slowly But Surely

Summer is coming.

To be perfectly honest, there are days I don't believe that. Days when we wake up to more cold and snow and grey skies, and I just want to groan and pull the covers back up over my head. Days when nothing can convince me that the driveway will eventually be free of ice, that the drifts of snow will melt, that my little strip of entryway will not be cluttered up with hulking, dripping boots. We will never see summer again. Why can't they be right about global warming?

But summer is coming. And even now, today, as last night's snowfall melts away, it is rushing closer. The sun is blazing down from a brilliant blue sky, while songbirds chase each other through the chokecherries and chilly-fingered breezes tousle the windchimes outside our bedroom window. The snow banks are melting, slowly, making great lakes of the neighborhood streets: Matt says he feels like a true jeep owner, splashing through the foot-deep, twenty-yard-long puddles on his way home from work. The thermometer is slowly rising, two steps forward, one step back. Every day may not be warmer than the last, but each week is, at least a bit.

And the pretty days, when we have them, are beautiful. Tuesday afternoon Little Bear and I went for a walk with a friend, drinking in the sunshine as we splashed our way around a three-mile loop. Such sun we have here! We are well on our way to 'round-the-clock sunshine, with light streaming in the windows from the time we wake up until long past Little Bear's bedtime. What do I have to complain about?

The waiting, I suppose. Winter seems to stretch on forever, some days, and I just don't like to wait. I don't mean to say that this excuses my impatience, but I am human. Perhaps that means these never-ending winters are good for me... The culture of instant gratification teaches us that we can have--should have--everything we want right now, and Alaskan winters are a stark reminder that it simply isn't true. That some things, good things, only come with time. And they are worth waiting for. And maybe, even, that waiting itself is a good thing.

Summer will come, eventually. Winter will slowly give up its grip on the northlands, receding back to its glacial fastnesses among the highest mountains. And when it does, I, being a perverse human being, will want to chase after it up those selfsame mountain slopes and revel in the presence of sparkling snowfields on a sweltering summer day. Not out of impatience for winter's return, but of joy in the glorious paradox of summer in Alaska. Blazing sun at midnight. The barren tundra carpeted in flowers. Exploring ancient, unmelting ice without becoming cold. Our summers are wonderful, beautiful, good, but you cannot have an Alaskan summer without first waiting through the long, dark night of winter. The waiting is difficult, but every year, we remember that the summer is worth the wait.

But what about now, this season others know as "spring" and we as "breakup"? It is a necessary part of the waiting-for-summer, but sometimes the slow progress or backsliding toward winter can make the season more a frustration than anything. For me, this year, I've found that whether these days are frustrating is really up to me. When I begin my morning by giving thanks for the sunshine and make a point of focusing on the little signs that we are truly getting closer to summer, breakup seems like a positive time; when I don't put in that effort, well, it can seem like winter will stretch on for eternity.

It takes practice to turn waiting from something frustrating to something productive. The Church knows this: every year, we spend four weeks waiting for Christmas and six for Easter. I guess that means our extra-long winter and slow breakup this year are a blessing, inasmuch as they are giving us more time to hone our skills.

21 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday {11}

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple again today for their weekly celebration of dressing our best for Sunday Mass!

Last week didn't happen because we forgot to take a photo before getting changed, so this morning, Matt snapped one on our way out the door. This did not make us late... It may have slightly contributed to the rushed feeling as we were running out to the car, though. A rushed feeling made significantly worse by hearing the "low fuel" chime as we pulled out of the driveway with exactly enough time to make it to Mass.

I probably would have headed off to North Pole anyway and worried about the gas tank after Mass, but my husband remembered that the light had actually been on last night too, and decided not to risk running out of gas halfway down the highway. It was a wise move--when he finished filling the tank, we realized that it really had been very nearly empty. Unfortunately, by that point it was definitely too late to reach our parish before Mass started, so since we were already in town anyway we wound up going to the cathedral. As long as the words of consecration are correct Mass is Mass, even when some aspects make you want to tear your hair out, and that's all I'm going to say about the experience.

Anyway! What you're really here for: the clothes!

Blouse: Sears
Skirt: thrifted
Boots: same old winter boots

If nothing else, this linkup is definitely shattering any remaining delusions I may have had about my ability to ever look good again post-pregnancy... ugh. I'm not really the only one who fails this badly at coming up with semi-flattering outfits nine months postpartum, am I? I kind of really want to throw things at the people who go about blithely informing expectant moms that nursing will melt that weight right off, because it just. isn't. true.

19 April 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 27

It's been a light blogging week here... There have been so many tragedies recently, I've struggled to find meaningful words. Our prayers continue to go out to all those who are suffering so much.

The househunting continues: we saw a cute little place last Saturday with a lot of very nice built-in storage, a fun tiled backsplash in the kitchen, and a nice yard with a garden and fire pit. Unfortunately, the neighborhood just didn't feel safe: one adjacent lot held an abandoned, derelict garage, and several others had the stereotypical "old alaskana" collection of rusting pickup trucks in the front yard. I know that many people up here like that, and that's totally their choice, but I just...don't.

Spring is back! I'm starting to feel a little silly, as we go back and forth between proclaiming it winter and spring, but this time I have a bit more confidence that the warmth is here to stay. The sun is shining all the time now, from before we get up until after Little Bear goes to bed, and the average temperature definitely rose this past week: it was already pushing 30 degrees by 9:30 this morning; by mid-afternoon, it could easily be 40! Don't laugh, that's practically tropical!

Watching Little Bear dream has become so much more entertaining as he's gotten older: his eyes dart back and forth, lashes flutter, fists flail, mouth twists into adorable grins and pouts. The other day I was startled by a sleepy "mama" as he--still dozing--looked for food. There are days when I wish he would nap in his crib instead of on my lap, but how could I complain about this?

What does "giving the baby solids" mean in your house? Our pediatrician was surprised, though not unsupportive, when he heard that most of Little Bear's solid food isn't delivered on a spoon, but I know other moms who have gotten an earful for that... Little Bear likes food that is big enough to hold and chew on: slices of fruit (peaches, pears, apples), adult-sized pieces of green beans and broccoli, whole crackers/baby cookies... I was a little surprised when he grabbed a muffin off the counter this morning, but he had great fun gnawing on it while I ate breakfast. The only foods he eats with a spoon are yogurt, applesauce, and oatmeal (real oatmeal, not baby cereal).

Spring cleaning fever has hit me hard again this year, but for the second time in a row, I can't give in to the urge to scrub everything ever within an inch of its figurative life: Last year I was pregnant and couldn't handle the smell of the cleaning agents, and this year there's Little Bear. As soon as it's warm enough to throw open the windows! I thought, but that will only work if its warm enough BUT the trees haven't yet begun releasing pollen, because of Matt's allergies. If I can wait until after the pollen subsides, though, my wonderful husband has promised to take Little Bear for some nice long walks on evenings or weekends to that I can clean.

For any local readers, I want to encourage you to consider attending the kickoff party for KQHE 92.7 FM, the first Catholic radio station in Fairbanks, next Friday! Bishop Kettler, Little Flower Ministries, and the general manager for EWTN radio will all be there to share information about the station, which should be on air in a couple months. Bring the kids and join us at the Princess Riverside Lodge from 7 to 8:30 pm, next Friday (April 26)!

Thanks to Grace from Camp Patton for hosting again this week, and congratulations to our regular host, Jen, who was able to bring her new little one home from the hospital today!

16 April 2013


What can you even say in the face of so much death, so much sorrow these past few days? I have no words.

Our prayers and tears are with the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and their families, all those affected by the many bombings across Iraq on Monday, and the family from our city whose little boy fell into a glacial crevasse and died Saturday.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and Thy perpetual light shine upon them, and may they rest in peace. Amen.

12 April 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 26

Mobility, here we come! In the past 48 hours Little Bear has begun crawling forward AND "cruising" along furniture. Goodbye, days of setting him in one spot and expecting him to stay there... on the up side, he's much happier about being set down while I work, probably because he knows he can go get into trouble.

We need to babyproof the house. This weekend. No more procrastinating. Any suggestions for things I might not think of?

Our landlords are seriously awesome. I called them on Wednesday to let them know our dishwasher was leaking, and within a half hour he'd come by to check on it. He determined that it wasn't repairable, and I resigned myself to a few days without a dishwasher... I know, I know, end of the world... and then I got a call that evening that he'd picked up a new one and could he install it Thursday morning?

Today is sunny and beautiful, nearly 32 degrees, so I'm going to refrain from complaining about the four inches of snow we got this week and the ridiculous below-zero April we've had so far. Hopefully spring will stay this time!
One perk of living in a northern desert-class biome is that spring is not a rainy season: once winter finally gives up, we can expect weeks straight of nearly uninterrupted sunshine.

Wednesday saw my first-ever attempt to cook a whole chicken... The experiment could have gone worse. Dinner was fine, the bird cooked well but was still moist; I could probably have managed to save more meat bits from it than I did, and if I was really a good housewife I would have saved the carcass to make stock, but it didn't happen, because of all the nasty things you encounter in the kitchen chicken is undoubtedly one of the ones I despise most. And I was all done touching that thing.
Sigh. I think part of the problem was that the whole reason I cooked a whole bird--knowing that I was going to passionately detest the entire process--was that thought: if I was really a good housewife, I'd.... Why can't I be happy with myself for being "a good housewife" in other ways, instead of adding on all sorts of criteria?

Matt certainly didn't think that I had to cook a whole chicken to be a good wife! As he (taking pity on his clueless wife) was carving the chicken for dinner, he informed Little Bear that "real chicken comes in pieces."

I can give eyewitness testimony that the sun is truly back to its absurd summer hours here: at what should have been oh-dark-hundred hours this morning, Little Bear woke us by sitting up, patting Matt's face until he opened his eyes, and then bouncing and trying to climb over me to get to the window, where sunshine was pouring in. Time for blackout curtains.

Say a prayer for our usual host, Jen, and her new little one who is in the NICU with breathing trouble! Thanks to Grace of Camp Patton for hosting this week.

10 April 2013

Liebster Award

It always startles me to realize that people actually bother reading the things I post here. I certainly had one of those moments a few days ago: many thanks to Liz, of The Trenchcoat Introspective, who nominated me for a Liebster Award! I'm so grateful for her kind words, and honored that someone who writes so well and knows so much about Catholicism thought I was worthy of passing the award on to.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award was designed as a way to recognize and increase the readership of smaller blogs (when it was created, this was under 3,000 followers, but now this has been lowered to no more than 200 followers). It also gives old readers a chance to learn something new about the blogger who receives it.


The Official Rules as of 2013

The requirements for accepting this award are:

  • Post the Liebster award graphic on your site.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated the blog for a Liebster Award and link back to their blog.
  • Write 11 facts about yourself so people who discover your blog through the Liebster post will learn more about you.
  • Answer the 11 questions from the post of the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 9 other blogs with 200 or fewer followers for a Liebster award by posting a comment on their blog and linking back to the Liebster post.
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer in their Liebster post.

11 Random Facts about Me

1. My feet are always cold... really, really cold. On particularly warm summer days, I've been known to remark in surprise that "my feet aren't purple today!" Despite this, I really only put socks on when I have to leave the house; I prefer bare feet.

2. Between high school and college, I took five years of Latin. I think it's a beautiful language, and I use it pretty regularly: I have a copy of Hobbitus Ille on the coffee table right now for reading while the baby naps. Whenever I hear something that sounds odd in an English translation of the Bible, I still turn to my Vulgate to figure out why.

3. If you ever tried on my glasses, the visual distortion would seem different than that from most other glasses. My prescription is only for a (different) prism in each lens; there's no magnification at all.

4. We refer to the baby as "Little Bear" on the blog because that's what we called him before he was born, even before we found out that he was probably a boy. We were trying for something gender-neutral, because we didn't want to grow accustomed to saying "he" for nine months and then have a girl, but we were both so sure that we were having a boy, "Little Bear" started sounded masculine to us a few weeks after we started using it. We did a fairly good job of avoiding pronouns, just saying "the baby" or "Little Bear," for most of the pregnancy though.

5. I almost never ate 100% white-flour bread growing up, to the point that when I went away to college and ate baked goods I became sick. My mother ground her own flour from wheat berries, spelt berries, and a seven-grain mix. Since moving back to Alaska and getting married, I've tried to make everything I bake at least partially wheat or spelt flour.

6. Having a messy house makes me crazy. I'm not OCD--nothing is ever quite perfect, and that doesn't bug me too much--but one thing I really appreciate about being home with Little Bear all day is having the time to keep each room neat and orderly. As Little Bear is becoming more mobile and learning the joys of pulling things off shelves and throwing them on the floor, I'm anticipating having a lot more straightening up to do!

7. My mom put years of effort into teaching us girls to cook before we left the house; she is known as a very good cook, so I'm always flattered if someone compares me to her! She was pretty thorough, but I was more than a bit of a tomboy and was always palming my cooking nights off on my sisters so I could go work in my dad's shop, so there are some regrettable holes in my cookery training. Like tonight's dinner: I'm roasting a chicken for the first time. Guess who I'll be calling for advice?

8. While I've had a devotion to the Divine Mercy for many years, and helped to found a household dedicated to the Divine Mercy in college, when I first encountered the chaplet I hated it. Not just "meh, not my kind of thing;" hearing it made me angry, and I refused to join in praying it. Looking back, it doesn't make a lot of sense... it wasn't a rational thing, but an emotional response: the chaplet made me feel guilty for sin, more so than anything else I'd encountered, and I guess I was lashing out in typical young-teenager fashion at something I didn't like and didn't understand.

9. I've tried and failed to learn to knit several times, but I really enjoy crocheting. While I was pregnant, I made baby blankets for five friends who were also expecting. I also made one for our little guy, which I put off until last because I didn't want to be unable to finish anyone else's... Because he was earlier than we expected, it was only finished a few days before we went to the hospital.

10. All of my sisters have loooooong hair, but since chopping mine short early in my college years, I haven't had the patience to grow it longer than my shoulderblades. When I get too bored or frustrated with it, out come the scissors. It's always stayed longer than my jaw line, though.

11. Even before Little Bear came along, thanks to having many spread out younger siblings, I could recite many children's books from memory. My repertoire has only increased as he's gotten bigger!

Questions from the Trenchcoat Introspective:

Why are you Catholic?
The easy answer would be that I grew up that way, but there has to be more to it or it wouldn't really be my own faith. To put it simply, I believe that the Church contains the fullness of Truth. I've never really doubted that the Catholic Church is truly the church founded by Christ, and that all of her teachings are true. I may not understand them fully, like the mystery of the Trinity, or I may grow frustrated with some of them, even if I understand that they are for the good of my soul, but I believe that they are true. And knowing that they are true, how could I be anything else?

Who is your favorite author and why?
I'm going to have to go with GKC. Chesterton was so vibrant, so nuanced, so prolific a writer: no matter where I am, I can find something he's written that speaks to the situation. And no matter how many times I read something from him--novel, mystery, essay, poem--I always walk away with something new to ponder. One of the formative books of my highschool years was a slim volume by Chesterton entitled The Napoleon of Notting Hill. To this day, the principles espoused by the varying characters fire my imagination and prompt me to reflect on the state of our civilizations.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Time manipulation sounds good; slowing things down, speeding things up. "Think you're only napping for 20 minutes, child? Think again." "The chicken is still frozen and needs to go in the oven soon? No problem!" The ability to sit for hours rocking a peacefully sleeping baby, without cutting into the time I really have to spend cooking and taking care of the house, would be lovely.

Imagine you could travel to any time period without consequences. Where would you go, and what would you do there?
So many tempting options! 1901 for the premiere of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto; 1054 to get a first-hand account of the Great Schism; the first century B.C. to explore the Library of Alexandria... Who am I kidding? Of course I'd travel to 2062 to test drive an aerocar.

What is your idea of a perfect burger?
Start with a homemade roll, either whole wheat or spelt flour. Spread a thin layer of honey-mustard on both sides. Add a quarter-pound moose patty; if you can't get moose, buffalo or elk would work. Pile on lettuce and slices of onion, tomato, and dill pickles. Enjoy with sweet potato fries, pickled beets, and a cold ale!

Why do you blog?
I started this blog for two reasons: as a way to fill time toward the end of pregnancy while I was home all day and often stuck on the couch with dislocating joints, and to keep writing. I really enjoy writing--my thoughts flow best on paper, it seems. My degree is in communications with a concentration in journalism, and I worked for my school's public relations department as a student and have continued to freelance for them occasionally since graduation. Between jobs, and especially while the baby was smaller and sleeping frequently and not really... interactive, blogging gave me an outlet for communication. It still does, although I spend a lot more time playing with blocks and reading board books these days, and I appreciate having a reason to "put pen to paper" at least once or twice a week.

What's your favorite mythological creature and why?
Right now it might be the cinnibird, a giant bird which built its nests out of cinnamon sticks high up on cliffs or tall trees in Arabia. I know, it sounds like a brightly-colored children's storybook, but Herodotus and Aristotle both wrote about it! Pliny the Elder took a more cynical view of the cinnibird, suggesting that the Arabians had invented it as an excuse to raise the price of cinnamon.

What are your thoughts on angels?
Well, I believe they exist, of course... and I know that some people interact with their guardian angels, and I tend to ask our guardian angels to protect us when we travel... Other than that, I don't know much. I've really enjoyed the recent posts about angels at The Trenchcoat Introspective, though!

What was your very first blog post (on your first blog) about? How do you feel about that post now?
I honestly don't remember... It was about eight years ago, and that account has been gone far too long for me to be able to look it up.

What is your dream job?
This probably sounds like a total cop-out, but it's exactly what I'm doing now: being a stay-at-home mom and taking freelance projects in my spare time. I get to spend every day with our son, take care of the housekeeping and cooking for my husband, and still know that I'm contributing to our savings. I wouldn't give this up for any salary or career!

If you were canonized, what would you want to be the patron saint of?
Since patronage is often assigned based on elements of a saint's life, in the unlikely event that I was ever canonized, perhaps "joint problems" would be reasonable: for years, I've had trouble with my shoulders, hips and knees popping out of place.

I think I'll use my Liebster Award nominations to encourage the writers of some blogs I enjoy reading even though they don't get updated as frequently as some of the bigger ones (no pressure, really!):

Megan of Clearing the Sill of the World, who shares life as a young wife and adorable pictures of her little siblings.

Claire, of In Te Speravi, who is so knowledgeable about the Church, and manages to infuse her writing with her amazing personality.

Liz, of Quick-eyed Love, a mom of two whose writing inspires me and makes me laugh.

Alice, of Granola Stilettos, whose blog title kind of says it all... Crunchy, spirited, well-articulated motherhood.

Jamie, of Regarding Beauty, whose blog is only beginning but has a beautiful way with words!

Megan, of The Martha and Mary Project, who ponders the life God is calling us to through a scriptural lens.

Andy, of The Player's Side of the Screen, who probably won't repost this but will be very proud of me for having done the paltry amount of HTML in this post from memory.

Yvonne, of Beyond the Sea, who (like me) started blogging to keep up her writing, with reflections and the occasional book review.

Questions for my nominees:

1. What one experience has done the most to shape the way you view the world?
2. How did you learn to cook? Do you have a favorite dish to make?
3. What is one thing you are glad that you knew when you were 20?
4. Name the most important piece of furniture in your home. Why?
5. If you have kids, what part of being a parent do you most enjoy? If not, what do you think would be the best part?
6. What song or piece of music did you listen to most recently? What do you think of it?
7. Do you believe it is possible that there are life forms on other planets?
8. Of the places you've never been, where would you most like to travel?
9. You're holding a sleeping baby, dinner needs to go in the oven, and you don't have time-manipulative superpowers. What do you do?
10. When was the last time you danced?
11. Do you have, or would you want, any pets?

Enjoy! Thank you again to Liz for nominating me--I had fun.

07 April 2013

What I Wore Sunday {10}

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

What a beautiful concept--our God is truly a just judge, but at the same time, His heart overflows with loving mercy for us. As the novena prayers say, all we need do is ask and we will be "immersed in the abyss of [His] mercy." Matt and I managed to pray the novena prayers and chaplet together all through the novena, despite the fact that we always forgot until the last minute. I'm so glad: we've prayed the novena together four years now, and it would have been a shame to be unable to do so this time. I think it was the first prayer we said together; I have fond memories of our last spring semester in college, saying the chaplet together as Matt walked me back to my dorm in the evenings.

Not everyone includes it, but I really like this prayer for after the chaplet is completed:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself. Amen.

When I worked in the college's public relations office, every afternoon at 3 pm someone would ring a bell and everyone who was able to break away would gather in the conference room--outside in nice weather--and we would pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, concluding with this prayer.

Today, in honor of the feast day, I had a fun supper of strawberry-rhubarb stuffed French toast planned; the jam and whipped cream cheese were going to look like the divine mercy rays. But then we got home and realized that we were out of bread and yeast. Sigh. I'll try to come up with something else.

I did manage to wear red and blue today, though! Looking at the photos, I'm having a hard time understanding why I thought this was a good outfit... it was another five-minute Sunday morning. But really, trust me when I say it looked better in person. Also with boots on.

Chocolate microsuede skirt: Sears
Red tank: thrifted
Cropped jacket: old! belongs with a non-nursing-friendly dress... I think the dress/jacket have been closet staples since early high school.
Hair clip: A Girl and Her Bow.

Charlotte of Chartreuth hosted a giveaway a couple weeks ago featuring this fun hair clip from her sister's Etsy shop, A Girl and Her Bow, and I won! She has a variety of cute and whimsical clips and classic bowties, with some great summer fabrics. They're very reasonably priced, too!
I'm trying (unsuccessfully, but I'm optimistic) to convince Matt that he and Little Bear want matching bowties, and may wind up getting some more hair clips to give as gifts.

For more fun outfits as we move into spring (did I mention it's been snowing since we woke up?), hop over to Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday linkup!

05 April 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 25

Little Bear's two front bottom teeth are both coming through. There is much unhappiness in our house these days.

Of course there is also much joy, because it's the octave of Easter! And Matt wound up having a three-day workweek (because he was sick Monday-Tuesday, but we're focusing on the positive here), and it is warm (30s!) and sunny outside, and despite the teething Little Bear still does have plenty of sweet, happy, adorable moments. He's getting so good at pulling himself up on furniture, and laughs and claps his hands when he succeeds. So cute.

The technical term for spring in Interior Alaska is "breakup." The hardpack on the roads is breaking up, the daily runoff freezes, cracks, and thaws again the next morning, and the lake and river ice is shifting, preparing to break up and head downstream. Because of this, we do not wear "rain boots." We don't wear "puddle boots." We don't wear "mud boots," "rubber boots," or "wellies." Interior Alaskans wear "breakup boots."

This term made my then-fiancé crazy when he first got here two years ago, but I think he's finally resigned himself to it.

The first Canada geese have returned from overwintering in more southerly parts, which is one of the first concrete signs that breakup is upon us. (Aside from the warmer weather and melting snow, of course.) I'd been halfheartedly hunting for a pair of breakup boots for a while, but when I heard that the geese had arrived earlier this week, finding boots suddenly became a top priority. Plenty of stores here carry breakup boots of varying qualities, but unfortunately, not just any boot would do... because real Alaskans wear Xtratufs.

The Xtratuf is synonymous with Alaskan footwear for any time of year that it isn't below 0 and snowing, and wearing any other type of rubber boot is to clearly label yourself a city-dweller, tourist, or Outsider. (In Alaska, Outside refers to anywhere not in Alaska, but also specifically to the rest of the U.S.) They are known for exceptional quality and durability, lasting 15 years or more in day in-day out work under all conditions. Having been born and raised here, the idea of buying anything else was abhorrent, but you do pay for what you get: they aren't cheap. Fortunately for our checkbook, I found a pair this morning that, through a combination of sale prices, coupons, and rebates, was almost 50% off! What luck!

Enough about boots and crazy Alaskans... Yesterday, Matt, Little Bear and I joined the Catholic Student Association on campus for mass and a birthday dinner for the priest who works with the students, whom we've known since he was a seminarian. Fr. Sean is such a great priest; he reaches out to all of the students who pass through, Catholic and non-Catholic, and really works to meet kids where they are while at the same time challenging them to keep growing and living their faith more fully. We really appreciate his willingness to speak the Truth, even when it's not the most comfortable thing to hear. God grant him many more years of ministry!

So far my theory that screaming babies get you faster service is holding up: Little Bear and his unhappy teeth came to the DMV with me to renew our registration, and I didn't even have time to sit down and start filling out the paperwork before they called us up to the counter! So far we had only tested the theory with convoluted phone trees, so it was good to chalk up another success for it on our first in-person attempt. For our next test, I think we will visit the post office...

That's all I've got! Don't forget to visit Jen at ConversionDiary.com for more quick takes, and have a great weekend!

02 April 2013


Happy Easter! He is risen, Alleluia! I'm so glad that as Catholics, our Easter isn't just over in one day; the whole octave of Easter is a time of celebration, and we continue to carry that joy and wonder of the Resurrection with us for the fifty days culminating with Pentecost!

Maybe next year we will make it to mass for Easter Vigil... Our pastor strongly encouraged folks with babies (there are a lot in our parish) to spare the wee ones the agony of a four-hour mass, because he planned to pull out all the stops. That's fair; we decided to just go Easter morning. Then Matt had to work all Saturday afternoon and into the evening, and by the time Little Bear and I picked him up, families were arriving for the university parish's vigil mass, which was being held in the auditorium in the same building as Matt works. If we had been dressed for mass, we definitely would have stayed.

Little Bear woke us up early Easter morning, but somehow we didn't make it out of the house any earlier than usual. Any other Sunday that wouldn't have been a problem, but on Easter... we wound up parking at the laundromat down the street from our parish, and were fortunate to find chairs in the atrium! Little Bear was loud and squirmy, and Matt wound up walking with him for the latter half of mass.

We spent the middle of the day at my family's house. Holidays are usually a party there; we had 26 people this year, which is actually pretty low for them! Little Bear, the youngest person in attendance, was very popular once he woke up. Mercifully, he slept for the first two hours we were there! (A tooth was slowly emerging, and he spent the better part of our morning car rides screaming.) Everyone else wanted to play with him, which meant that Matt and I were able to sit and talk with friends and the priests who joined us. Of course we love the baby, but it was so nice to talk with other adults without having to entertain him!

It was funny to realize later that, of the seven? eight? priests in our city, three of them were there celebrating Easter with us! I love that so many of our priests consider my family as their family; the chaplain of the university parish described them all as "honorary Doudnas." I would be so happy if we could be known for the same kind of hospitality some day! Hopefully when we have our own home.

To my utter embarrassment, I can't link up with Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday this week... because despite it being Little Bear's first Easter, and despite the glorious sunshine we were blessed with, and despite my frazzled running around all Holy Week trying to put together outfits... I didn't manage to take any pictures. Not one.

How is that possible? I don't know.

Yes, I'm properly ashamed of myself.

Maybe we will just have to pose one.

There. Easter photo. Two days late. But hey, it's still Easter until Pentecost!

The outfits:
Mommy - all thrifted and lacking tags, except the bangle bracelets which came from the grocery store and were *supposed* to keep Little Bear quiet during mass
Little Bear - shirt is Old Navy, thrifted; pants are hand-me-downs
Daddy - shirt is Van Heusen; pants are from Sportsman's Warehouse (don't worry, he wore good khakis for Easter); tie is from college days; hair and beard are classic Alaska!

I think this is the first time Matt's joined me in a WIWS post... kudos to him for being a good sport about staging a family Easter photo this evening!

Matt and I were talking last night about "Christmas and Easter Catholics." The crowds of people who aren't there most Sundays can be frustrating for regular mass-goers who can't find seats, especially when adults are filling the cry rooms so parents can't use them for unruly or hungry babies. Our pastor approached it from a different perspective, though, saying that he wished we had to bring out the folding chairs every Sunday! It brought to mind the parable of the prodigal son: When we hear that story, it is easy to cast ourselves as the younger son. But the Lord was also speaking to us when he showed the elder son's error. We ought to be happy to see people joining us and participating in the sacramental life of the church, instead of begrudging them those graces (and our seats). Which is more likely to bring someone back to the Church, judgement and irritation that they are there, or welcome and joy at their presence? We have about nine months now to prepare our minds and hearts for the Christmas crowds... Hopefully by that time I'll be able to do a better job of praying for their hearts to be opened to returning to fuller participation in the church, instead of rolling my eyes at them. Mea culpa.

I read a few commentaries over the past couple days which reminded readers that many people travel to visit family for Easter, so some of the unfamiliar faces are likely to be regular mass-goers who are just visiting from out of town. That's another good thing to remember before making snap judgements about people, but I'd be surprised if many folks would voluntarily visit Alaska in March! In other places, though, I'm sure it's much more common.

Enjoy your octave of Easter! Christos voskrese! Christ is risen!