31 March 2015

Menu planning: Holy Week

It's certainly possible that I'm nuts, but I'd like to think that I can manage to make just one trip to the grocery store this week. Despite and because of it being Holy Week.

Sitting down surrounded by cookbooks ("Why are there three hot cross bun recipes? Which one do I usually follow???"), I realized this afternoon that making one shopping list for now through Easter was going to take rather more preparation than most weeks' lists. Easter baking is wonderful and rich and full of dairy... how much butter do I actually need for all of the coming baking? Surely one gallon of milk will be plenty. Thank goodness I had the sense to buy eggs when they were on sale last week! Good heavens, how much flour am I going to go through? 24 cups?!? That math has to be wrong. (It's not.)

The grocery list I wound up with was reasonably short, considering. It helps that most baked goods have pretty similar ingredients! We were in and out of the store in just 45 minutes; with how slowly I've been walking these days, the past several weeks' trips have all taken an hour or longer. So that was good.

So far I've only thought oh no, I meant to put that on the list! about one thing, and it's not something we can't live without until next week. Maybe I really will be able to have a pretty quiet-at-home Holy Week this year. Okay, "quiet" is stretching things. And Holy Thursday afternoon is looking pretty crazy. But still.

Our schedules have been all weird so far this week, with Matt getting up at 5 to go in very early to work for a training being video conferenced in from somewhere in Central time. I'm so glad it doesn't run the whole week long! 

What's happening in my kitchen this week:

Palm Sunday: the psari plaki, Greek baked fish, turned out so well! We served it over long grain brown rice with green salads.

Monday: I baked soft pretzels to have around this week, and tried to explain to Little Bear their symbolism as "praying arms/hands," but it was the stickiest awfullest dough ever so they didn't really look right.

Tuesday: the big shopping trip happened today, and I made a pepperoni pizza and raw veggie tray for supper. Totally forgot about making something meatless to have leftovers for Matt's lunch tomorrow... There are two hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, so I'll make a little egg salad tonight.

Spy Wednesday: baking Jidáše (Judas rolls) to go with supper—a spinach-Swiss crustless quiche and a salad of strawberries and pineapple in a poppy seed yogurt dressing. I also need to make applesauce, because my slow cooker is already spoken for on Thursday.

Holy Thursday: a caribou roast in the slow cooker, spinach salad, baked sweet potatoes, and applesauce for supper. That afternoon will be super busy (chiropractor, midwife, etc), so I'll most likely wind up making the Hot Cross Buns (Good Friday's breakfast) after supper.

Good Friday: hopefully not very much! There's a little prep for the following day, hard-boiling eggs and making crescent roll dough. I really want to be able to have a quiet afternoon, though, so for supper I'm just mixing together pasta, a container of pasta sauce from the freezer, and some mozzarella and throwing it in the oven. I have a couple kinds of vegetables in the freezer, so we'll have something healthy on the side.

Holy Saturday: dyeing eggs, baking Italian Easter Bread, and making these spinach artichoke bites to bring to dinner on Easter! If supper winds up being an organized affair and not merely a case of "what random leftovers are in the fridge?", it certainly won't be anything more complicated than an egg bake or turkey-rice casserole. Actually, that's a good idea; I should sat aside some of the leftover turkey currently sitting in the fridge so that it's still around by Saturday.

...Aaand, nope. Going back to the store tomorrow, because Little Bear spiked a fever tonight and we have hardly any little kid ibuprofen in the house. It's Holy Week, can you tell? All the things happen at once to try to keep you from having a prayerful week. Would you mind saying a quick prayer for the sad little boy? 

I'm not sure how much I'll be on between now and Easter, so have a blessed week!

27 March 2015

Seven Quick Takes

"Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and [she] conceived of Holy Spirit!"

Not the answer I was expecting when I asked Little Bear if he remembered what we were celebrating on the solemnity of the Annunciation! I'm glad he's been paying attention when we say the Angelus.

How was your Annunciation Day? We had a... I don't even remember. This pregnancy, I tell you. I think it was a good day overall? Lemon-blueberry sweet rolls for breakfast, a visit to the chiropractor, having time to stop at the thrift store and find a new jacket, making Swedish pancakes for supper... I was pretty worn out by the evening and wound up not making it to RCIA class that night, spending most of the evening flat on the couch, but it was still a good day. I've enjoyed explaining the recent solemnities in toddler-language (Me: "The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would be the Mother of God (insert the first part of the Hail Mary), and Mary said 'be it done unto me as you have said,' and then Jesus became a baby in Mary's tummy." Little Bear: "Just like the baby in Mama's tummy!"). What about Palm Sunday? There aren't prayers he hears every day directly related to the story; any suggestions for how I can help him understand it?

I found myself jacket-hunting on Wednesday after the zipper failed on the only jacket that still fit me... fortunately, the thrift store had a bunch of spring-weight jackets. I just picked up an extra large fleece jacket that'll continue to be able to zip over baby for the next month or so until it's warm enough that I won't need it. I suppose this could possibly change some day if I ever have a winter baby, but I don't believe in maternity coats. They want such a ridiculous amount of money for them, and there's no guarantee that they will even continue fitting as long as you need them to. My mom never had a maternity coat and she had several mid-winter babies, and I'll likely just continue wearing big bulky coats as well. It's not as fashionable as having a coat tailored for a pregnant belly, but there's really not much (sanely priced) overlap between "being fashionable" and "staying warm" in the winters here anyway.

We planned to attend our parish's weekly meatless potluck and Stations of the Cross this evening for the first time this Lent. After spending the last few nights stuck on the couch, I'm not quite sure why I thought this was a good idea... it was probably more that I'm so sick of not being able to do anything, and I miss participating in parish activities outside of Mass. My youngest sister came over this afternoon to play with Little Bear, and while they definitely made exponentially bigger messes than he's ever made on his own, it was helpful having him happily entertained by someone other than me so that I could peel five pounds of potatoes and make a big pot of potato soup for the potluck. And she helped him clean up all of the messes! That was wonderful. We did make it to the potluck, but I wound up needing to go home and lay down instead of joining everyone else for Stations afterward.

Photo by Artem Zhdanov
Matt's good friend from work is a great photographer, and last Friday afternoon he came out to take some shots of Matt "in his natural environment": splitting logs. He got some wonderful photos (the above is my favorite), and Matt got another week or two's worth of wood split.

Baby has decided that she likes ice cream. Now I'm all in favor of her getting over her ridiculous "I'm going to make you crave cookies, and then make you feel sick right after you finish them" thing against sugar, but it's sure inconvenient when I'm actually trying to be good! Last night I tried eating an apple to appease her, and the visions of ice cream did not go away. Same with tonight's extra bowl of soup. Why can't you want healthy food when I'm trying to be healthy, child? We finally compromised on whole grain cornbread (cornmeal, wheat, rye, flax, oats, spelt, wheat germ...) topped with stewed rhubarb. I'm thinking I'll try to convince her that yogurt is an acceptable alternative tomorrow.

I've spent weeks trying to find an Easter dress--my one maternity dress, a solid black maxi, was so very dark and not-cheerful-looking for Easter--and I finally gave in and admitted that I'd have to buy one new instead of from a thrift store or consignment shop. I hate doing that; new clothes are so ridiculously expensive! But there really wasn't anything in town, and I do not have the physical or mental energy to sew a dress before Easter, and we were running out of time to get something shipped. So on Sunday night I ordered this dress in the "deep wisteria" color that sure looks blue on our computer. When it arrived, surprise! it was very, very purple. If it had occurred to me to Google the color name, it would have showed me swatch after swatch of purple, which means that there's a problem with their particular photo and not with my computer's color display... but it's not the end of the world. I do like the dress anyway, as does Matt. The interwoven style of the bodice is so pretty!

Have a good weekend! Don't forget to stop by This Ain't the Lyceum for more quick takes!

24 March 2015

Tuna'n'egg salad

Growing up I loved tuna salad, but pretty strongly disliked egg salad until after we were married and I started making my own. I don't dislike it anymore, but it's less an "I want to make egg salad!" food and more a "well, it's Friday, what can I make for lunch?" food. I've heard people mention tuna-egg salad several times in the past year or so, and always thought "Um... no. Tuna salad is clearly superior to egg salad; why would I contaminate my tuna with eggs?"

I was wrong, y'all. Wrong.

I don't even know how it made its way onto the menu for tonight. Somehow it came up while I was sketching out the week, and Matt thought it sounded good. I kind of glanced at a few recipes on Pinterest this evening for quantities, but ultimately just threw in whatever I wanted to. And it was so good. Baby-who-always-wants-protein very much approved, Little Bear ate his entire sandwich, and I (thanks to baby) had to pack up the leftovers immediately so I didn't eat it all before Matt could have some when he got home from class.

Good, easy, and Lenten. The perfect food.

Tuna'n'egg salad

3 hardboiled eggs, peeled
1 can (5 oz) tuna, drained
1 tablespoon mayonnaise 
3 baby dill pickles, diced
Pepper to taste

Mash up eggs, then add everything else and mix together. 

Makes enough for 3-4 sandwiches, depending on the appetite of the people.

I served it on sandwich buns with lettuce and a slice of cheddar, but it would also be good on lettuce as a salad, or on crackers. Or just out of the bowl with a spoon...

23 March 2015

Menu planning for Monday

This afternoon Little Bear, who had been very very sure midday that he didn't need a nap, crawled into my lap and laid his head down. "I'm sleepy, Mommy..." Not five minutes later, he was sound asleep.

I couldn't let him have more than a half hour, else bedtime would have been awful, but thankfully he woke up happy. I love the happy-just-waking-up stage in little kids! He was awake-ish but keeping his eyes closed as he responded to me, so I started teasing him, trying to encourage him to continue waking up:

"Let's get something to eat. How does that sound?"

"Okay." (Eyes still closed, not moving)

"Would you like a hard-boiled egg?"


"Oh, I see. Then you must want... socks?"

The eyes stayed closed, but lazy grin crept over his face. "I don't eat socks, Mama!"

"That's probably a good idea. How about... pickles and peanut butter?"

"Apples and peanut butter?" His eyes popped open. "Okay!"

Planning this week's menu was at least as convoluted as finding Little Bear a snack; today, I believe, is the only day all workweek that we don't have anything marked on the calendar for the evening. Matt's class Tuesday, RCIA Wednesday, the Chrism Mass Thursday, and my RCIA class is leading the Stations of the Cross Friday. And then Wednesday is a solemnity--the Annunciation--so it's not supposed to be meatless. And Friday I only need to make a lot of one meal element to bring to the meatless potluck before Stations. And Sunday is Palm Sunday already!

Then there's the "waffles for the Annunciation" thing. Matt and I had never heard of this, but apparently it's a common thing to eat waffles on the solemnity of the Annunciation, because... why? Failing to come up with any remotely reasonable theological explanation, we looked it up. It turns out that this is one of those "too funny not to continue" bits of lower case tradition:

In much of Europe, the Annunciation is referred to as Lady Day. In Swedish, that translates to Vårfrudagen. Which apparently sounds, in some dialects, nearly identical to Våffeldagen: waffle day. No, seriously, that's the reason.

My "breakfast for supper is weird" husband thought this was funny enough that we definitely had to put waffles on the menu for Wednesday. So the plan for the week looks like this:

Passion Sunday: chicken enchilada skillet with black beans and corn

Monday: supper with my family

Tuesday: tuna-n-egg salad sandwiches, raw vegetables and dip

Wednesday (Annunciation): ham-broccoli egg bake, Swedish waffles with whipped cream and jam

Thursday: caribou chili, corn bread and green salad

Friday: potato soup in the slow cooker

Saturday: caribou steaks (on the grill!), steamed broccoli/carrots/cauliflower, potato salad

Palm Sunday: Psari plaki (Greek baked halibut), soft pretzels, green salad, ice cream sundaes

What are your plans for the Annunciation? And if you're making waffles, how did that become a tradition for your family? Did you grow up doing it, or hear about it somewhere? I'd never heard anything about it before this past weekend, and am really curious now about how it became so widespread.

21 March 2015

Making the master list

Sometimes, it works out perfectly to look at the calendar in the morning and realize that it's a particular feast day, and decide on the spot to do something to celebrate. But not very often, at least for me.

Usually, looking at the calendar while I plan out the week's menu on Saturday or Sunday gives me plenty of notice to make sure any holy days or feasts that are important to our family get covered. I'm still only cooking for three, and so far we haven't really extended our liturgical year celebrations beyond our immediate family, so there's not a whole lot of extra planning most weeks.

Not these next two weeks, though. It's time to sit down and make this year's edition of The List.

Last year, Matt and I talked through Holy Week and Easter and agreed on what we wanted to start doing to build traditions for our family for this liturgical season. We looked back at last year's list at the beginning of Lent this year, discussed what worked, what didn't, what we might want to change... and then I lost the notebook where I'd written it all down. Literally lost it; I left it in my cart at the grocery store the following week. I'm fairly confident that I remember what's different this year, though, so this morning I sat down with last year's list, my liturgical year cookbooks, and last year's blog posts from the time right around Holy Week and came up with the leading-up-to-Easter plan for 2015.

Day before Passion Sunday (today): track down purple fabric; order anything still needed for Easter baskets; Easter haircuts for Matt and Little Bear

Passion Sunday (March 22): veiling all of the crucifixes and statues of saints around the house (ideally with purple fabric)

Solemnity of the Annunciation (March 25): lemon-blueberry sweet rolls; Annunciation icon as the centerpiece

Palm Sunday (March 29): Greek baked fish (psari plaki, p.186 in A Continual Feast) for supper; ice cream sundaes to celebrate Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem; incorporate green/greenery/palms into centerpiece

Spy Wednesday (April 1): bake Jidáše (Judas buns); make Pascha (Easter cheese, p.205 in ACF)

Holy Thursday (April 2): all flat surfaces cleared of clutter; bake hot cross buns; a nicer meal observing the Last Supper (small roast, baked sweet potatoes p.203 ACF, spinach salad, applesauce); Way of the Cross icon on burlap centerpiece

Good Friday (April 3): hot cross buns for breakfast; potato or lentil soup with bread for supper; hard-boil eggs; stations of the cross; begin the Divine Mercy novena

Holy Saturday (April 4): dye hardboiled eggs (plus 3 raw); bake Italian Easter Bread; make whatever I'm bringing for dinner the next day; after Little Bear goes to bed unveil statues, replace purple/brown with white/gold, Resurrection icon out, Easter picture books out, fill baskets, replace black beans in sacrifice jar with jelly beans

Easter Sunday (April 5): Italian Easter Bread and hardboiled eggs for breakfast; convince Little Bear to wear bow tie; dinner and little kids' egg hunt at my family's house

How are you preparing for Holy Week and Easter with your family? I'd love to hear about your family's traditions. This is such a liturgically-rich season; there are so many possibilities!

20 March 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Joining the fun over at This Ain't the Lyceum! I have cooking on the brain today, so pardon all of the talk about food on a Lenten Friday...

For the solemnity of St Joseph yesterday, Little Bear and I made a "chocolate chocolate cake": a chocolate-buttermilk sheet cake topped with ganache. So very delicious, so very not Lenten. Matt put the uneaten remainder out on the enclosed porch this morning so that we wouldn't be (as) tempted to eat it today. We didn't give up sweets for Lent, but it still doesn't seem right to have a rich, chocolate cake on a Friday in Lent...

I'm having the hardest time remembering that it is Friday today, because Matt is at home—the university gives staff the last day of spring break off. Which is really nice, especially after Little Bear got up for the day at 5:45 this morning. We made him stay in bed until 7, because there is no way we're letting him learn that that's a remotely acceptable time to wake up, but we're all tired and less functional today. He's good with numbers, so we're going to try putting a digital clock in his room and telling him that he can get up when the first number is a 7... Hopefully that works!

Tonight's supper is definitely of the Friday-in-Lent variety, and working on it throughout the day is probably the main thing keeping me aware that it's not actually Saturday; homemade pita came out of the oven just before lunchtime, vegan and non-vegan versions of tzatziki are underway (we aren't omitting dairy, but an Orthodox friend is joining us for supper), and Matt's promised to help me with the falafel patties as we get closer to supper time. I haven't quite figured out how we're going to grind up three cans of chickpeas when our little tiny food processor isn't even big enough to handle one can... Someday we'll eventually get a reasonably sized one. Not this coming Mothers Day, but possibly next year. I wonder if the blender would be a terrible idea for grinding the chickpeas?

They call March 21 the first day of spring; that doesn't really mean much here, because it's a given that we'll still have snow on the ground until late April at least, more likely early-mid May. Yes, we have roughly 12 hours of daylight today, it being the spring equinox, but that doesn't feel like a remarkable amount when we're on our way to nearly 24 hours! It sure does feel like spring outside, though: 55 degrees, snow melting and dripping off the eaves, puddles in the parking lots in town, sun blazing in through all the windows. Between the sun, the fire Matt built this morning, and the fact that I had the oven at 500 F for the pita, our house feels like more like summer than spring!

On Wednesday, I made these black bean enchiladas for supper. Well, mostly; we used cheddar instead of jack, and salsa instead of enchilada sauce. They were very good fresh, and reheated well in the microwave today. I think they would probably freeze well, too, but you'd want to freeze them before baking. Little Bear wasn't much of a fan, unfortunately, but I'm going to keep them in mind as a possibility for at-home date nights on meatless days.

Little Bear, from the kitchen: "(Gasp) Oh no! So much water!"
Me: ...
Little Bear: "Where a towel?"

He'd put the stopper in one sink basin, which had completely filled and was overflowing into the other side. Somebody thinks he's ready to take over dish washing duties... No water wound up out of the sink, though!

After-supper notes: Our food processor is capable of handling exactly two handfuls of chickpeas at once, and I don't mean large manly handfuls. The cilantro that comes in a tube works really well. Vegan almond-milk yogurt makes an odd-smelling tzatziki (I didn't taste it, letting baby take responsibility for my lack of adventurousness). The pita, falafel and regular tzatziki all turned out so well; we'll likely be making them again before the end of Lent. Don't cut homemade pita if you aren't ready to fill them, though; the few left over were not nearly as pliable when I was packing them up after supper.

Have a great weekend!

18 March 2015

St Joseph and looking ahead

Two solemnities, Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter.

There's a lot happening in the next 18 days.

Tomorrow (March 19) we have the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Christ. (Solemnity = really big deal, the Gloria and Creed at Mass, sumptuous food even though it's Lent, meat for supper even on a Friday, etc.)

St Joseph is, among many things, the patron of husbands, fathers, and workers. And also Sicilians, which made no sense to me so I had to look it up; apparently Sicily was suffering from a terrible drought in the Middle Ages and the Sicilians prayed to St Joseph for rain, and the drought ended and their crops were saved. But anyway, husbands, fathers, workers, Sicilians... all categories that Matt falls under. So after celebrating a portion of my heritage yesterday (and I was very proud when Little Bear excitedly explained to his dad that we were having shepherds pie "because St Patrick was a shepherd!"), we're making sure to celebrate Matt tomorrow. Both the Sicilian aspect and otherwise—St Joseph's feast is basically the Catholic version of Fathers' Day.

Somewhere, hopefully in the drawer with our other holy cards, there's a picture of St Joseph and the young Christ Child playing and laughing together; it's one of my favorite images of him, and if I can find it I'll set it out tomorrow. It has a prayer for fathers on the back, if I'm not mistaken. I'll try to share it tomorrow! 

Food-wise, I'm sending minestrone with sausage in Matt's lunch tomorrow, and for supper we're planning to attempt chicken piccata with capers alongside an as-yet-undetermined pasta dish and broccoli. I was thinking about a very small cheesecake but forgot to pick up any cream cheese or ricotta, but we'll come up with something good.

Also: I still haven't figured out the "why?" on this one, but a couple of websites said it's traditional in Sicily to wear red for St Joseph's day; glad I learned that tonight! (If anyone knows why red, please enlighten the rest of us!) I should still have something red that fits, maybe? There's always scarves again if not, although it was 51 F here today so it's not really scarf weather anymore! Matt and Little Bear are set, though.

Tomorrow or the next day I'm hoping to find the time to sit down with my calendar and some cookbooks and plan out the coming two and a half weeks of liturgical busyness in the Shifflerhaus, and to share our plans with you. If I'm not online tomorrow, happy solemnity of St Joseph!

17 March 2015

A little bit Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I may be no more than a wee bit Irish, but St. Patrick's Day is always a day for celebrating in our house.

The math is a little bit fuzzy: my mom is a quarter Irish, and there's a possibility that my dad is also but no one really knows for sure; his last name most likely comes from somewhere in Britain or Ireland, but so far none of the family has managed to definitively trace it back across the Atlantic. I'm at least an eighth Irish, though, so I got to explain to Little Bear this morning that Saint Patrick is one of our patron saints, too. I try to make a point of celebrating all of the different cultures in our kids' very muddled heritage, and St Patrick's Day is sure a fun way to do that!

Everyone is in at least a little bit of green today; Matt found a shirt with some green pinstripes, and Little Bear turned down a properly green shirt for a striped one like Daddy's. To my disappointment, I don't have any green maternity clothes, but I do have a nice green scarf and some slightly-too-warm-for-today green wool socks.

I know it's Lent, but feast days are still meant for feasting; I'm not planning anything terribly over-the-top today, but we did take advantage of the day's festive nature to enjoy cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and later this morning Little Bear and I talked about Saint Patrick while we put a batch of applesauce into the slow cooker. Tonight we'll be having shepherd's pie, Irish soda bread and fresh applesauce: mmmmm.

Over lunch, we read about Saint Patrick in two books of saints, and I drew a three-leafed clover for Little Bear and explained that Saint Patrick used it to teach the Irish people about God the Fathsr, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Simple explanations for little people. :-) Little Bear was all excited to learn that Saint Patrick taught people about God and Jesus, "just like Mama teach people how to be Catholic at the church, and Little Bear and Daddy stay home and eat supper!" (RCIA)

We have a cluttered afternoon, several errands where the timing doesn't quite fit together, but I'm hoping we'll have time to be still again at some point and I can give Little Bear a coloring page—I loved this one, and it's free to print! Catholic Icing also has a great Pinterest board full of crafts and fun food ideas for St Patrick's Day; I'm going to have to try to remember to check it a few days ahead of time next year!

What are you doing to celebrate today?

14 March 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Friday was the only day this week that we didn't have at least one medical appointment, and I still wound up making three trips to town. I'm sure glad it's finally the weekend! Monday I was supposed to have fasting bloodwork done, but my midwife hadn't informed me she'd ordered the three-hour glucose tolerance test instead of the normal one-hour screening; the three-hour test is supposed to be for those who fail the first one (or are at a high risk of gestational diabetes, which I did not believe was true of me). I had Little Bear with me, and said "no thank you" and left. Okay, I probably didn't say the "thank you" part.

Tuesday I had to pick Matt up and bring him to the clinic midmorning for an EKG to check into an irregular heartbeat. The doctor thought everything was probably fine, but to be sure he had us come back Wednesday to get him fitted with a heart monitor for 24 hours, and then again Thursday to have it removed. We should hear back on that Monday afternoon. Also on Thursday, I went in and did the one-hour glucose test, and in the afternoon went to the chiropractor.

We really should have waited until summer to replace the windshield. Thursday we got a second chip, in just the one week since getting the new windshield! Little Bear and I took it in Friday to get the chips repaired; they weren't able to get us in until 11, which worked out perfectly because then we were in town for noon Mass. 

This pregnancy is killing me by inches, y'all. Sciatica. Round ligaments. Hips, pelvic bones and vertebrae constantly coming out of place. Thursday we added a new one: Diastasis recti. If I actually "listened to my body," I'd be spending at least half of every day laying down. But on the very positive other hand, I found out Friday morning that I passed my glucose screening test with flying colors: my blood sugar was only 103 mg/dL one hour after drinking the glucola. The "you have to take the longer test" cutoff is 140 mg/dL (130 mg/dL in some practices). No gestational diabetes.

The maternity support belt I'd been waiting for finally arrived Wednesday... and it didn't work. So Thursday afternoon, I went to the local mom & baby boutique to look for one. They had one that fits perfectly now, and still has some room to expand; it would have been better if they'd had a size larger, but it's already helping and I'm hopeful that it'll keep fitting most of the rest of the way through this pregnancy.

The inclination to relativism starts young...

Me: You can choose not to believe me, but I'm right.
Little Bear: Oh, you're right?
Me: Yep.
Little Bear: Hmm... okay. I'm right, too.

Did you get a chance to watch any of the talks from the Catholic Conferencs 4 Moms last weekend? I didn't have time for more than one each day, but I particularly appreciated Stephanie Wood Weinart's talk, The Culprits that Steal a Mom's Joy and How to Avoid Them. Comparison, she reminded us, robs us of the confidence that God chose us as the right parents for the children He gave us. How easy is it to feel judged and become defensive, or be judgemental ourselves, when we see another mom making different decisions than we are? It's such a temptation, especially when we feel that our identity and in some way our value as a person is tied up in our parenting. 

And how could I resist a title like Jeff Young's How You and your Family Can Eat Your Way to Salvation: A Foodie's Guide? I've been meaning to check out his blog, The Catholic Foodie, ever since but haven't yet had time. He also came out with a cookbook recently about Middle Eastern cuisine.

Thinking about baby and the end of this pregnancy coming eventually, I loved Simcha Fisher's post yesterday about 12 gifts that new moms want the most. There are maybe a couple of actual "baby things" that we're going to need for when Kit arrives, though I can really only think of one; we saved all of Little Bear's baby clothes/blankets/books/toys/etc, and we honestly don't have space for much more. I remember meals and gift cards being incredibly helpful after Little Bear was born, though, and they'll be even more so this time because Little Bear needs supper now too; Matt and I can't just decide that we're okay with cold cereal and carrot sticks for the night. :-) And if I'm in this condition for the next three months, there will definitely not be any meals prepped and in the freezer ahead of time.

I'm looking for a good crescent roll recipe. There are several recipes that either we've tried and like or else want to try that call for the tubes of refrigerated crescent roll dough, and I just can't make myself buy it... but I really want to make these snacks. So if you have a reliable recipe for crescent roll dough, please share! All-white-flour recipes are fine.

Have a good weekend! Wherever you are, it'll probably be warmer than ours; we're likely to see -20 F tomorrow again. Enough already, March; we're ready to see the last of the negative temps! For more Quick Takes, head over to This Ain't the Lyceum.

06 March 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Tonight the menu says we're having falafel with homemade pita and tzatziki, but I forgot to make more yogurt yesterday and it takes at least 12 hours, so that's not happening tonight. Matt and Little Bear both had pasta for lunch, so that's out too. Right now, bean and rice burritos or bean and cheese enchiladas are sounding like a good option.

Meals built around canned beans are so convenient; there's no "oh, I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer and now there's only three hours until supper, it'll never thaw in time..."

The temperature has stayed pleasant (highs in the upper 20s to mid 30s, and slowly but undeniably warming), and is expected to remain so indefinitely—I'm hoping for "into October"—but we've seen a clear difference between the winter cold being over and the winter itself taking its leave: yesterday we got close to three inches of snow, and tomorrow we're supposed to get another four to eight inches, heaviest up in the hills by us. I don't mind the snow, since I don't have to shovel it. :-) And Little Bear is loving it. Matt told him that they could go make snowballs tomorrow, and he got so excited. This has been a fairly low snow year here, so hopefully all of this snow now will be enough to thoroughly soak the ground when it melts, so that we don't have an early start to fire season.

It's frustrating, but even more so it's reassuring to have my chiropractor shake her head and say that I'm having way too much pain and trouble staying 'put together' for only being 25 weeks. Frustrating, because I hate that I'm having so much difficulty getting even the bare minimum done around the house on bad days, let alone never ever being up for trying to do fun or social things. But reassuring, because on the bad days I feel so inadequate: the little voice in the back of my mind tells me that I'm just a wimp, that millions and millions of women throughout history have gone through pregnancy after pregnancy without complaining about the things that I do... that my mom and her friends have so many kids, and they all kept up with all of their families' needs through their pregnancies and I have no excuse for not doing as much when this is only my third pregnancy, only the second to make it this far... There have been so many hard days recently, days when I physically can't walk, and trying to keep up with a busy little boy and the housework and the cooking and everything is just overwhelming, and I feel so, so inadequate compared to all of the other moms I know. So... useless. Having someone who works with pregnant women every day look at me and say, "This isn't normal. It isn't supposed to be like this," I felt like I was given permission, at least for a moment, to acknowledge that this is really hard without feeling guilty for saying so.

Ha, as if it's possible for me to not feel guilty for saying that. I've had so much help: Matt giving Little Bear the wild playtime he wants, putting him to bed, taking over the kitchen on nights when he can tell I just can't manage it; us living so close to my family, being able to bring Little Bear over there to play with my youngest siblings so I can run errands on my own or even just sit down with my feet up for an hour; being able to see a chiropractor every week so that I usually have several consecutive days of doing pretty well. The post office seems to keep pushing back the ETA, but I'm sure the maternity support belt I ordered will eventually show up and hopefully that will be really helpful too. This morning my chiropractor, half laughing, said that she wished she could just use super glue or something to hold me together—we're hoping the support belt will do a decent job of that.

Yesterday was Matt's birthday! We didn't do much out of the ordinary, but we did have a nice evening, and I made him a pan of brownies with chocolate hazelnut buttercream frosting. Mmmm. I think he's asked for a dessert other than cake on his birthday every year since we've been married. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure Little Bear is the only one in our family that I've ever made proper birthday cakes for. Little Bear enjoyed helping Matt open presents, and explained the picture he'd colored in great detail ("A yellow sun, yellow sand, a yellow W, yellow Daddy...")

Not even 25 hours after getting our windshield replaced, a tow truck in the next lane kicked up some loose gravel in our direction as I was driving home from the chiropractor this morning... I can't believe we already have a chip in the glass. Fortunately, the auto glass place said they'd fix any chips we get in the first 12 months for free; I guess I'm going back in on Monday morning. Hopefully the chip doesn't start splitting and become irreparable before then!

Matt is such a wonderful dad and husband. I came out of Little Bear's room so frustrated this evening, unable to keep sitting on the floor or standing propped against the wall while the he rolled back and forth in bed, popping up every time my hand touched the doorknob to demand "Mama stay here!" I really intended to just sprawl on the couch for a few minutes until I could handle being upright again, but Matt went in without me even asking and had Little Bear asleep in less than five minutes. And yesterday, on his birthday no less, when Little Bear decided that it was morning at early o'clock and we really desperately wanted another hour of sleep, Matt got up before I could roll out of bed and put Little Bear back to sleep for me.

Today is the first day of the Catholic Conference 4 Moms! I saw the email this morning at early o'clock — Matt had to be at work by 7:15, and I needed the car, so we all got up early in order to get everyone out the door on time. By the time I got home from dropping him off, I'd completely forgotten, and I just now remembered. If I only have time to listen to one of today's presentations before they disappear tonight, it's going to be Stephanie Wood Weinart on "The Culprits that Steal a Mom's Joy and How to Avoid Them"... I think I need to hear that one right now. I'm hoping to also have time for Celeste Behe's talk: Gathering Your Family Around the Lenten Table. Liturgical living! If you aren't registered yet, you can still get in on the rest of the conference: just sign up here (it's free!) and you'll get the next day's link emailed to you. The conference runs through Monday, and different talks are available each day.

Have a good weekend! For more Quick Takes, stop by This Ain't the Lyceum.

01 March 2015

How be Catholic

This morning I got Little Bear dressed, then sent him in to see his dad while I got myself ready. I came in to find him happily bouncing on our bed, shouting something that sounded like "happy Catholic." They'd been talking about me teaching RCIA, Matt explained, and Little Bear was excited about me teaching people "how be Catholic."

Not five minutes later we got a good reminder of how much work we have to go, teaching that to our own munchkins: Little Bear, still bouncing, was talking excitedly about going to church to see Father. "And see Jesus, right?" I reminded him. 
"In tabernacle!" he exclaimed. "Jesus is in all the tabernacles."
"That's right! Very good."
"And all the bathrooms, and all the toilets!"

Two-year-old boys. What can you do with them? :-)  As Matt pointed out when we finally got over our smothered laughter, we have been trying to teach him that God is everywhere...

Last night's storm wasn't bad; we got about four inches of snow, which was packed down pretty well by the time we headed in to Mass this morning. Yesterday evening the roads were a little bit exciting in a couple of spots, but nothing too bad. I'm glad we didn't put off our date night: the restaurant was nice and quiet because not everyone wanted to be out on the roads, by the time we finished dinner the snow had stopped falling and we had a good view of the stars and northern lights, and best of all, we realized shortly before leaving the house that yesterday was exactly five years after our first date!

This morning, between a short homily and the promise of a chocolate doughnut, Little Bear was pretty quiet and well behaved in Mass. There were a couple of audible "All done now!"s while the deacon was reading a letter from the bishop right before the final blessing, but I can't entirely fault him for that; he knows the order of the Mass and when everything ought to be finished, and it was a fairly long letter that really could have been stuck into the bulletins instead... He did get his doughnut.

And as we finished eating brunch at home after Mass, Little Bear turned to me with a big smile and said, "Thank you go to church!" I'm so glad he's happy to be there!

Shirt: Cocomo, thrifted
Skirt: street fair find years ago

We're supposed to have highs in the upper 20s to mid-30s all week... It's crazy to see this so early, but we're having trouble honestly believing that we will get any more real cold this winter. It was only 8 F when we got up this morning, though, so I figured I'd better wear my long purple skirt in case it got too warm to wear it later this Lent. Baby has this non-maternity shirt about as stretched out as it can get, and while I do have plenty of maternity tops, they all really only work with pants or very straight skirts. I'm going to have to find a couple of maternity dresses, and some more closely-fitted tops to wear with skirts... I'm only 24 weeks! We still have a ways to go.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! To see more What I Wore Sunday posts, hop over to Fine Linen and Purple.