27 April 2014


Baby Alexandra Reese Shiffler, whom I've referred to the past two months as Squirrel, was born into eternity on April 26, 2014. We hope to have her funeral early this week. Please keep our family in your prayers.

I'm grateful for the timing, having such a direct reminder of God's love and mercy in today's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. Remembering to trust in the mercy of God, and entrusting my Alex to the care of her patron saint, St Alexandra of Rome, have been such a help these past few days. Likewise Little Bear's favorite Bible story which he asks to hear multiple times a day, where Christ says, "Let the children come to me. Do not stop them."

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly on 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.

24 April 2014

Italian Easter Bread

It's been a busy week, but I feel like I've accomplished nothing and have nothing to say... so rather than bore you with all of my anxieties as I'm waiting to go in for the ultrasound this afternoon, here is the recipe and instructions for my mom's Italian Easter Bread. I know I'll lose it between now and next year if I don't write it out here!

3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3-5 dyed raw eggs

In mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour,  sugar, yeast and salt. Add warmed milk and butter. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs (not the dyed ones) and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in fruit, nuts and extract. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 

Punch dough down, divide in half and roll each to a 24" rope. Loosely twist ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet and form into a ring, pinching ends together. Tuck dyed eggs into spaces between the ropes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes and cool on a wire rack. If desired, decorate with a powdered sugar icing.

The instructions for making the dough sort of assume that the baker has the sense to read ahead and start the dough in a stand mixer so she doesn't have to beat a sticky mess by hand at high speed for two minutes... but let me assure you, in case you're as bad at reading ahead as I am, that it does turn out perfectly fine if you do it by hand!

One other thought: it says 24", and I rolled my ropes to 24", but if you want to use more than three eggs you definitely need to make the ropes longer. My mom used five eggs this year in hers, and I noticed that her ring was significantly wider and her ropes significantly thinner than mine.

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.

10 April 2014

Easter Traditions

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

Here's the plan for Passiontide and Easter 2014:

Passion Sunday: veil the statues around the house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

09 April 2014

Back on the Horse

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 April 2014

WIWS: 7 Weeks

Go away, winter! We want spring back. It's been snowing for more than a day and a half non-stop now. 

One of the wonderful Polish priests on loan to our diocese said Mass at our parish yesterday, and his homily was so good! Also short-ish, thankfully, after how long the Gospel was... Little Bear was completely done being good and quiet! He behaved better after that, though, and we didn't have to take him out from the offeratory through the end of Mass.

We found out after Mass that his tardy incisors are finally starting to come through; his inability to be quiet and still makes sense now! Even after Tylenol when we got home, it still took an hour of fussing to get him down for a nap.

Oh! Since yesterday was Passion Sunday, the week before Palm Sunday, traditionally all statues would be covered from now through Easter Vigil. Does your parish veil statues this week? Next week? I think that here I've seen it done more often for Holy Week than the two weeks leading up to Easter. What about at home? Last year I veiled our statue of Mary; I can't remember what I did with the swath of purple fabric, though, so we will see when I manage to find it this year.

Teal tee: craft store
Cardigan: GNW, thrifted
Skirt: Old Navy, thrifted

Little Bear's wearing hand-me-down pants, a Carter's polo from Grandmom, and a huge grin because he got the phone while Mama wasn't looking!

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple again! Stop over for more What I Wore Sunday fun.

04 April 2014

SQTF 84: Linguistics, Lassitude, and Little Ones

This week, I learned the word "eggcorn." From Wikipedia,
An eggcorn is idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the context, such as "old-timer's disease" for "Alzheimer's disease."

I was reminded of the term yesterday, when Little Bear and I went for a walk with my mom and youngest sister. Little Bear kept trying to run back the way we'd come, and my mom asked my sister to let him hold one of her plastic dinosaurs as a distraction. "Do you want one of the dinos?" she asked, waving an ankylosaur in his face. He took it, looked at it curiously, and tapped it against his nose. "My-nose?" he asked. He looked at it again, and tapped his nose with the tail. "My-nose, my-nose?" We finally figured out that he was trying to make sense of the word "dinos"!

This week has largely been a series of long, unproductive days spent curled up on the couch trying not to get sick, fending off the toddler's wrath over my refusal to feed him tuna (or any other strong-smelling foods), and hiding everything capable of making noise. I cannot remember ever being this nauseous or prone to awful headaches while I was pregnant with Little Bear! I know I shouldn't complain, because many women's pregnancy-sickness makes them actually throw up and mine hasn't (yet!), but it's hard to choose to see something positive in feeling like this all the time.

I'm a language nerd; I will admit that I read multiple linguistics articles just now to make sure that my use of "nauseous" instead of "nauseated" was acceptable in the previous take. As recently as ten years ago it could have been considered incorrect, but not anymore. Evolution of language is so fun to study! I know, I know, I'm weird.

Maybe not linguistically yet, but Little Bear certainly shares some of our personality traits that we never expected to see in a toddler, like a love for strongly-flavored and spicy foods: every time he manages to sneak past me into the fridge, he goes straight for the bottles of Chipotle Tabasco sauce and Sriracha! And when Matt brought a dish of salsa to the table the other day to go with breakfast... Little Bear promptly forgot about his yogurt and dove right in.

No, we don't let him have any of the Sriracha, and we've started buying mild salsa since he seems to want to eat so much of it. But really, he'll eat anything as long as it has some sort of kick to it; we had Thai for supper the other night (Squirrel insisted), and Little Bear ate so much of my Pad Kee Mao!

Looking for a photo to post today, I deleted another 100+ self-portraits of Little Bear's nose and eyebrow. This kid loves the camera, and because it's accessible even when my phone is locked, if I forget and leave it in his reach I'm sure to come back to more goofy photos. He's even figured out how to switch filters on me! Occasionally, he winds up with something approaching startlingly decent composition, too:

Little Bear went down for a very early nap this morning, after being up for several-hour stretches the past two nights. But it's a good thing, really--yep, still trying to convince myself--because I'm supposed to be at a meeting at 12:45, and this way he will be awake and happy and I can hand him off to my mom and let him play with the other Catholic homeschoolers who are getting together after noon Mass for their Third Friday potluck. And I can be... foggy and nauseous and trying to look like a coherent adult at my meeting? At least there won't be a grumpy toddler on my lap disrupting everyone, though.

The weather outside is beautiful, and Little Bear would love to spend hours out playing in puddles, but the ones right near our house have mostly dried up. I took him for a walk the other day to find more puddles, and there are a great many just a little farther down, but it wasn't worth the trek: our roads are horrendous. Three- to five-inch-deep icy troughs surround most of the puddles, and there's a smooth, slick layer of ice hidden beneath the mucky water. Between the troughs it's practically sheet ice. In his breakup boots, Little Bear can't get any traction; I found myself slipping, too! It doesn't make any sense that they haven't graded our neighborhood yet; we are blocks from an elementary school, and if our jeep is having this much trouble with the deep ice ruts, I can't imagine the school busses and all of the parents with little cars are fairing much better!

Have a lovely, warm spring weekend! Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

01 April 2014

Happy April!

A favorite escape from the house this winter has been grocery-store therapy: walking slowly around the grocery store with Little Bear, "window-shopping" past the fancy cheeses and fun meats, thinking about trying out foods we've never tried before, and ultimately making it to the checkout with just a couple of items I needed anyway, and maybe one thing I didn't. Yes, I know I'm weird! But it's kept me from going crazy this long winter, and is definitely cheaper than pretty much anything else we could be doing around town while it's cold and snowy out. The free cookies from the bakery as bribes for Little Bear's good behavior don't hurt either!

Imagine, then, my dismay when I walked into the store this morning for a few essentials and discovered that my super-pregnancy-sense-of-smell has kicked in, and everything we walked past--produce, meat, dairy--made me instantly nauseous. Ugh. If it had to happen, couldn't it have waited until the snow and ice were gone so that I could take Little Bear to the park instead?

Hello, April. I have very high expectations of you in the getting-warm-and-melting-all-the-snow department.

It is warming up, though, and the snow is melting. There's just so much of it, it'll take a while to disappear. Five months' accumulation isn't going to melt in a week! As the snowdrifts slowly shrink, though, Little Bear constantly begs to go play in puddles and I try to come up with new indoor diversions. Yesterday's two bowls, dry beans, and a measuring cup kept him happy for more than a half hour, and he kept going back to it throughout the day!

(Which I suppose you could interpret as, the tired pregnant lady didn't bother picking up all the beans off the kitchen floor until supper time, but I think it sounds better the first way. And he really didn't spill all that many beans on the floor until the very end of the day.)

Yesterday Matt took Little Bear puddle-stomping when he got home from work, giving me a wonderful fifteen minutes of silence to clean up the kitchen and start supper. I don't know why, but somehow the 5-6 pm period, right when I need to be making supper, is when Little Bear schedules the bulk of his Mama-Mama-hold-me-Mama-up-Mama-Mama whining time, so sending him outside at 5:20 was so helpful. And it's so great to see them having fun together now as Little Bear is getting bigger! Hopefully we will be able to make that happen more often as it's getting warmer; tonight Matt works late, unfortunately, so Little Bear and I will be on our own. Slow cooker to the rescue! 

As Mom, the beginning of April is reminding me that it's really time to start planning and preparing for Easter. I know it's not quite as close as it seems--since we don't have a bishop right now, the archbishop of Anchorage is coming up to celebrate the Chrism Mass tonight instead of next week, and that's throwing me off--but I don't even know what needs to be done, and it's stressing me. This will be our first Easter, really our first holiday, with a kid old enough to enjoy and participate in traditions... It's going to be fun, I'm sure, but I definitely need to start making lists and figuring things out!