31 May 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 33

How do you people live in hot places??? (i.e. hotter than 65F)  And don't say "air conditioning," because that's not an option here and I'm being a wimp and whining about the heat today, and I don't want to hear about magical cold-air machines that don't exist in my state. But really, 85 degrees? How do your brains not melt and run out of your ears? We, well, the baby and I have been dying of sunshine all week; even keeping all the lights off and staying in our darkish basement apartment doesn't really make it bearable. And what do you wear? I don't think I could be a functional human being anywhere that it stayed this hot or hotter all summer... Matt doesn't exactly understand, possibly because he grew up in Pennsylvania, or possibly because he is already too miserable from the clouds of birch pollen floating around. He does agree that it's hot, though... while comparing his wife's reaction to that of a beached jellyfish. :-)

I have no idea what we are eating for dinner tonight, because anything that requires turning on the stove or oven isn't happening, and anything that requires me to stand outside in the hot hot hot hot hot sunshine at the hot hot hot hot hot grill isn't happening either. And we are out of lettuce, so salad isn't an option. PB&J sandwiches? Maybe just ice cream.

I should add that, despite not understanding my heat-induced abject misery, my husband has been very kind and just has not expected too much of me as I've been hiding in the freezer this past week.

Matt was also good enough to take yesterday afternoon off work to bring me to the hospital for my MRI, and entertain the baby in the waiting room for the two hours I was in. Little Bear did pretty well, from what I hear, only getting fussy in the last fifteen minutes. My MRI went fine, I guess... I didn't expect everything to take so long, definitely didn't expect to have a three-inch-long needle stuck into me (delivering the contrast medium), but it wasn't a terrible experience. I didn't time it, but I was in the MRI machine itself for the length of one divine mercy chaplet, one rosary, and a litany of every saint I could think of... which was a lot of them. Hopefully we will have the results early next week, and it will be something easy to fix.

Is almost 11 months too young to try to give Little Bear a buzz cut? These curls have to go--he gets so hot when he naps, and people keep telling me how beautiful my little girl is. He strongly dislikes machines that make loud noises: blender, stand mixer, hair dryer... he has started chasing the vacuum, though, so maybe he's getting over it? I don't want to traumatize him by using the clippers on his hair, but I also don't want to try to get it short with scissors and wind up looking like I took a weed whacker to it...

So the plumber finally came Tuesday afternoon to look at the water coming through our ceiling (which started Friday evening), and it turned out that there was no leaking or cracked pipe after all: the seals (I think? some kind of seal or collar) of the toilets in the apartment above us had been installed incorrectly. Fortunately it was clean water coming through! The plumber fixed both of them on Tuesday, and came back Wednesday to replace the one in our bathroom just in case. We haven't seen the watermarks on the ceiling tiles spread at all since then, so hopefully that is resolved!

Remember when I picked up a copy of The No-Cry Sleep Solution back in, what, March? And I read the first chapter and was so happy with it? I haven't picked it up since (are we really surprised?), and now Matt is starting to leave out the word "soon" when he says things like "the baby needs to learn to sleep in his own bed soon." So I guess I will be trying to read some more of that this weekend, in between hiding in the freezer and trying to give my son a non-traumatizing haircut. I know, I know, I'm so ambitious.

Hope you have something more fun than that lined up for this weekend! In your down time, swing over to ConversionDiary.com for more quick takes. (But not while you're hiding in the freezer--the insulated walls are bad with wireless signal.)

29 May 2013


Mealplanning Monday on... Wednesday? Wednesday evening? Sigh...

Monday: cookout (burgers, salad, potato salad, etc)
Tuesday: chef's salads, whole grain baguettes
Wednesday: ginger chicken vegetable stirfry, rice
Thursday: pasta salad with ham and broccoli 
Friday (Visitation BVM): halibut, baked beans, potato salad, green salad
Saturday: something vaguely texmex
Sunday (Corpus Christi): not leftovers

So I'm clearly still fuzzy about what's happening this weekend, but that can be chalked up to my not having been to the grocery store in, what, a week and a half? Trying to avoid burying this month's grocery budget any deeper... I'll have a good long list by Saturday. If anyone has advice on how they stay under (a small!!) budget on groceries each month, I'm all ears; I'm already pretty good about not buying things we don't need, and we eat a lot more canned/frozen meat and produce than fresh, but it's still a rare month that doesn't see us tipping over the limit.

But that wasn't actually the "timing" I was thinking about when I sat down to write: it was today's sleep timing by my dear, adorable, super frustrating son. Oh, the plumber will be here in a half hour? I must go to sleep. On Mama, while nursing, right next to the doorbell. Daddy just got off work? Time for a nap! On Mama, right by the squeaky door. What, Mama and Daddy say it's bedtime? Naw... it's time to crawl all over the bed giggling and clapping for an hour. An hour! While being very cute and happy and all, but really, I wanted to go to sleep. Oh my child...

26 May 2013

What I Wore Sunday {16}

Happy Trinity Sunday, and Memorial Day Weekend!

It was good to see the church fairly full this morning; some years, unfortunately, it seems like many people decide that spending Memorial Day Weekend at the lake is more important than attending mass. I appreciated it last year when our pastor made a point of announcing, the Sunday before Memorial Day, that our Sunday obligation is not suspended on long weekends! His homily today was excellent, as usual. He is the chaplain for the local fire station and often covers mass at the Air Force base, so he feels strongly Memorial Day, but he wasn't about to skip preaching about the Trinity for Trinity Sunday, and he managed to tie the two together surprisingly well. After briefly recounting his class on theology of the Trinity in seminary (and how incredibly complex a mystery it is), he drew out one particular facet of the mystery for us: unselfish love. We experience the unselfish love of each Person of the Trinity differently--the Father as He creates and sustains us, the Son as He sacrifices Himself for us, the Spirit as He pours out His gifts upon us. Our men and women in uniform, Father went on to say, also show us this unselfish love in their own unique ways as they put their lives on the line for the sake of their country and for all of us. 

Little Bear is settling into an unfortunate pattern at mass: he stays quiet and well-behaved until the homily, when he starts squirming and fussing and asking to nurse. When he begins to be disruptive I take him out, to the cry room if there is room or outside if it is full, where he promptly becomes happy and denies having asked for food. If I take him back in, he gets mad again; if I don't, he tries to explore. How do you teach a nearly-11-month-old to be quiet in church? (Don't laugh; I know it's kind of an outrageous question, but I have seen other kids his size who sit quietly all the way through. What do those parents know that I don't???)

We are enjoying shockingly gorgeous weather this weekend, with high 70s and low 80s and so, so much sun! Also mosquitos, but they are the big slow ones that come out first, so they aren't too bothersome. Last night we took Little Bear to a nearby restaurant and sat out on their deck overlooking the river, enjoying the wonderful summer-ness while chatting with Matt's friend from work. 

Unfortunately, I'm realizing that my nursing-friendly wardrobe is really limited to winter colors and pieces... as you can see, I was definitely not dressed for summer sun today!

Top: thrifted
Skirt: Walmart
Shoes: Payless

Have a lovely rest of your weekend! Don't forget to stop by Fine Linen and Purple for more What I Wore Sunday. As you celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow, remember all of our servicemen and women and their families, especially those who have given their lives!

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

24 May 2013


Eight o'clock at night, and Little Bear is edging toward exhausted-meltdown mode. "Have those spots always been there?" my husband asks, looking at the bedroom ceiling. Knots form in my stomach. "No..."

Leaking pipes, water running, wet insulation, waterlogged tiles crumbling around the edges.

The landlord comes to look and calls his plumber, who is (naturally!) an hour and a half away. I juggle the fussy baby, we take turns reading to him, singing, rocking. The landlord makes more calls. They can't get a plumber for anything, not on the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend.

Two neighbors come to look, open up the drop ceiling, plaster all over the bed. Maybe it is the landlord's dishwasher? someone suggests. The baby sobs for bed as men in workboots tramp in and out.

It might be fixed, they think. If the dishwasher doesn't run. At least until Tuesday, it should be fine; here, put these towels in the ceiling. And I'm grateful, truly; praying for no leaks in the night, water dripping on the bed, but grateful for their quick response, the attempted fix.

The room smells strange, musty, but the exhausted child doesn't care: eats quickly, falling right to sleep. We lie wondering, watching dark shadowed tiles, listening for water running. Praying for a peaceful night.

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 32

Summer is very much here, despite the odd snow patches on the north side of the house. We have had high 60s or low 70s every day this week! Gorgeous, if confusing. This is my favorite temperature range; we could go maybe ten degrees warmer, but any hotter than 85F and I am one unhappy person. Is there anywhere that never drops below -20 or gets above 85? Other than heaven, I mean. Because that would be just about perfect.

I think I've talked about my chronic joint dislocation before? It's been happening for years, got worse with pregnancy, kind of got better but not really after? Yesterday I saw an orthopedic manipulator, who was thoroughly puzzled and intrigued by the "clunk" (his description) my shoulder makes when it rotates, is concerned that I could have a widespread ligament disorder, and is sending me for an MRI next week. When the radiology receptionist called to set up my appointment, she informed me that breastfeeding mothers need to refrain from nursing their babies for 24 hours after the procedure because the contrast medium they will be injecting into my shoulder is toxic. Cue me panicking. 

Little Bear refuses to drink from bottles, I'm not good at pumping, he thinks cups are for pouring down his front, he only falls asleep while nursing, I can't do this. I spent most of the afternoon alternately worrying and trying to convince myself that we could just put the MRI off until he's weaned, and then Matt got off work and reminded me that any big medical procedures have to be done before July 1, when our insurance' fiscal year starts over and we have to start paying the (high) deductible again. So no, I couldn't put it off; we would just have to manage to get through the wretched 24 hours somehow. Last night, too stressed to sleep, I went online... and found study after study cited by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and the American College of Radiology’s Committee on Drugs and Contrast Media, all unequivocally stating that there is no reason for mothers to stop breastfeeding even for a few hours following the procedure. Hurrah!

Emboldened by one relief, I went back to our dear friend Google to look up studies on general anesthesia and breastfeeding, as I'm theoretically getting all four wisdom teeth out next month and the tech there also told me that we couldn't nurse for 24 hours. Surprise, surprise... All recent studies indicate that there is no medical reason to tell mothers to do this! Less than 1% of the anesthetic will be present in my milk following the procedure, and Little Bear will absorb less than 1% of that already minuscule amount from the milk when he eats. I am so glad! I was hesitantly preparing myself to tell the oral surgeon that I didn't want general anesthesia for the procedure, just so that I wouldn't have to stop nursing, but good gracious I was scared to do that!

I know that we live in a litigious society and the techs who told their receptionists to tell me I had to stop nursing were probably just trying to protect themselves and the hospital, but really? You can't stay up to date on the current medical advice on a subject that could have a serious negative impact on the lives of your patients?

Sunshine and birdsong and pollen and mosquitos... the weather outside may be delightful, but I still can't open the windows and air out the house because we don't have our screens in to keep out the bugs yet, and the trees are in full pollen production mode. Matt has to encounter enough pollen during the day that I would feel so bad for wantonly filling the apartment with it as well. We are hoping that Little Bear didn't inherit his daddy's allergies, but the two of them have been competing to be the loudest snorer recently, and I can't tell if Little Bear has a cold or is being bothered by the pollen. How do you tell with a kid? I don't have seasonal allergies, so I don't even know what symptoms to be looking for.

To all of the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces, and to their families, thank you and God bless you for all of your sacrifices! Everyone else: in the fun of the long weekend, keep in mind the reason we observe Memorial Day, and don't forget to incorporate that into your celebrations!

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to swing by ConversionDiary.com for more quick takes!

22 May 2013

Evolution of Play

I have to admit, I came into parenthood with a fairly broad preconception of what it was like to watch kids grow up. As the oldest of seven, with pretty sizable gaps between some of the kids, I felt justified in believing that I already had a good handle on how this worked. Older siblings were the key to parental sanity: I was just going to be exhausted and unhappy for the next year or two because I didn't have another kid to help me entertain Little Bear. In the weeks and months that have passed since he was born, well-meaning people have tried to sympathize with the new mom, reassuring me that they too were shocked at how hard it was to be a parent... but that's never been a problem for me, since I expected it to be miserable. Yes, I griped about the pain, the exhaustion, the frustrations... but they definitely weren't surprises. The surprises, for me, were some of the joys: for example, play.

Most people gush about how babies are wonderful and beautiful and perfect and "bundles of joy" and all that, and the cynic in me always said, "yeah, because you get to hand him back to his mom once you've made him cry." Babies were cute, and rocking my baby sisters to sleep was great, and it was fun when they started playing with toys and becoming mobile, but you couldn't fool me--I knew that there was a lot more work involved than play. But what I didn't see before becoming a parent was that all of that work, the physical and emotional investment that we poured into caring for him, created a which affects the way we experience his growth, making it radically different than my experience of my siblings' development.

Today Little Bear had a grand total of a half hour of nap before 3 pm, and somewhere around 1 he was speeding around the apartment on his hands and knees, scattering everything everywhere. I was a few steps behind, picking one thing up as he dumped the next on the floor. Then he stopped, sat up, picked up a dump truck, and began "driving" it back and forth on the floor, saying "Vrrrr." And at that particular moment, even with the stack of magazines and the blocks and the board books that I had just picked up five minutes ago spread out all over the floor again, it was the cutest thing ever. If I had been trying to clean up after a little kid who wasn't my own, would I even have noticed that moment? I don't think so... he got bored and went right back to tearing the house apart again, and I doubt it would have registered as a New Thing and Something He's Never Done Before and So Cute.

I grew up watching and playing with babies and little kids, but Little Bear has made me aware for the first time of the cognitive side of play developing, and it's fascinating. Because I am with him all day, every day, and especially since I don't have anyone else around most of the time to take over the playing with him, I've noticed the little changes as Little Bear has become more actively and intellectually engaged in his play. Today was the first time I saw him associate a sound that he could make with a toy. A few days ago, he realized that it was funny to try to pull his colored stacking discs off their stand faster than his daddy could put them on; yesterday, he learned that he could fling several off at once. Playtime is so much more fun for all of us as he understands more about what is happening, and learns to play with others, interacting instead of just reacting. And watching that happen, noticing little steps forward in his comprehension, is so much more exciting--brings so much more joy--than I would ever have expected.

21 May 2013

Octave of Pentecost

Happy Whittuesday! You've probably heard Pentecost referred to as Whitsunday, but did you know that each day this week, since we are in the octave of Whitsunday, is also a "Whit"? This week, like the week after Easter, is a time of continuing our celebration of Pentecost and the beginning of the Church. Because the summer Ember Days fall within the octave of Pentecost, though, this week is also penitential.

Ember days, if you aren't familiar, are sets of three penitential days--Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday--which fall roughly at the beginning of each of the four seasons. They all carry the general intentions of giving thanks for God's gifts of nature and reminding mankind to use these gifts wisely and with moderation, but each set of ember days also has unique purposes: With the summer ember days, we pray for a fruitful growing season and bountiful harvest. They aren't enforced by universal Church law as days of fast and half-abstinence (meat at one meal only) anymore, but it's still not a bad idea to find some way to observe them at home; prayer, fasting, and good works certainly don't become less beneficial to our souls just because they aren't required!

I'm glad I remembered what week it was before planning out this week's menu! For the record, I actually finished this on Sunday, but somehow didn't get around to posting until today.

Pentecost Sunday: pasta amatriciana, green salad
Whitmonday: chipotle chicken soft tacos
Whittuesday: pork kebabs with grilled peppers and onions, sesame rice
Whitwednesday: Spanish shrimp and rice, green salad
Whitthursday: dinner with my family
Whitfriday: vegetable pizza
Whitsaturday: plans with friends

19 May 2013

What I Wore Sunday {15}

It's Pentecost! I saw several fun food-related ideas for celebrating today, like strawberries cut to resemble the tongues of fire that descended upon the Apostles, or serving a hodgepodge of dishes from different cultures to represent the diverse peoples who all heard and understood their preaching, or even just firing up the grill (representing, you know, fire). We will see if anything comes together... Little Bear has yet to nap well, so I may wind up dumping strawberries in a bowl and informing people that they look like flames, kinda, if you squint.

In today's homily, our pastor elaborated on the three points our bishop always makes in his Pentecost and Confirmation homilies: that the sacramental celebration calls each of us to prayer, to evangelization, and to service. It helped to be reminded, as I stood in the narthex bouncing a fussy child, that those calls are manifested differently in the lives of different people--that right now, teaching and caring for Little Bear is a large part of the service and evangelism I'm called to. 

This morning I was up early enough to remember that it was Pentecost and come up with some red that wasn't too wintery--most of my red clothes seem to be sweaters! I probably wouldn't really have regretted winding up in a sweater anyway, as it was 28F when we left to house, but I am just so sick of winter clothes! Also winter.

The sun felt very nice anyway, and it had warmed up to a pleasant 39F by the time we got home. Yes, that is snow on the ground behind me. No, I can't believe that I just called 39F warm on May 19. 

The outfit:
Red tank: Wal-mart
Lace shrug: old--I think it came with a Coldwater Creek dress?
Skirt: Once Upon a Child consignment (Motherhood Maternity--not pregnant, it's just comfortable)
Boots: Jessica Simpson

Those boots... I have loved the Old West since I was little, playing cowboys & indians with my siblings, watching John Wayne deliver justice from the barrel of his six-shooter... I've never quite outgrown it: describing a book or movie as a Western is still a surefire way to get me to try it. My last Christmas break in college, I spent about a week visiting my aunt and uncle in Houston. One evening we were walking around the mall, and I stumbled across a display of boots. Cowboy boots. Real suede cowboy boots. On clearance. Remotely authentic? Of course not... but a pair came home with me anyway. Barely a month later I dislocated my patella and spent the rest of the semester in flats and a knee brace, banned from anything with the slightest heel, while my household sisters happily babysat my new boots. Oh, well... they sure brought joy to plenty of people.

Join us for more What I Wore Sunday over at Fine Linen And Purple!

17 May 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 31

Yesterday, May 16, I saw the first robin of spring. Today, May 17, it is snowing. Again.

Matt worked four ten-hour days this week instead of five eights, so while the longer days at home alone with the fussy child were at times trying, we are sure enjoying our long weekend so far! Little Bear decided that there would be none of this sleeping in nonsense happening, so we were all up and showered and caffeinated (Matt was, at least) early enough to make a nice breakfast and plan out the next few days.

You know that you have a rare and wonderful husband when the federal tax refund comes in the mail and he says, "Well, we better go shoe shopping." We both do need new running shoes, but to hear those words come out of his mouth... priceless.

Speaking of words... I dearly wish I had a recording of the conversation the other evening when Matt was trying to wrap his mind around the idea that some women I know liked Loki (Tom Hiddleston) better than Thor (Chris Hemsworth). It went from denial: "No. No, I don't believe you. Even I can tell that he's... That... And I'm a guy!"  to incredulity: "But really? He's slimy, and, and weasely, slimy and weasely, and he stabbed an old man, and they still like him better?" to defeat: "I had such hope in humanity... My night has been ruined!" All while I lay on the floor, laughing so hard I was crying, and Little Bear crawled around staring at his strange parents.

We had planned to take Little Bear back to the park to let him play on the swings again today after noon mass, but unless the weather undergoes a serious attitude adjustment, it doesn't seem likely anymore. It's fortunate that he isn't old enough to have understood when we were making those plans! Otherwise we would have a very unhappy little boy on our hands.

There is about a month left before Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and traditionally a part of one of the hottest weeks of our summer. We aren't quite sure what that will look like this year... Is it just going to keep snowing all summer? Will we really have a year with no days in the 90s or 100s? If it snows on Solstice, would it actually be dark that night?

One of my hands-down favorite sounds is coming from the other room right now: Little Bear and Matt both shouting with laughter as they play together. I know that Matt worried about being able to interact with a child before Little Bear was born, since he hadn't had any experience with babies, but he has never had any trouble entertaining and playing with Little Bear. And Little Bear knows that Daddy is fun: When Matt gets home in the evenings, Little Bear will drop whatever he is doing and crawl for the door, laughing and shouting "Dada!"

Have a wonderful weekend, hopefully warmer than ours! Thanks to Jen at ConversionDiary.com for hosting!

15 May 2013

Potato Salad Renegged

Today was beautiful. Sunny. Warm. 46 degrees. Picnic weather. Little Bear rode in a swing at the park for the first time today. So when I looked at the peppers and potatoes sitting on the counter to be made into dinner, visions of potato salad danced through my head. It is spring, darn it, and I want picnic food!

Matt worked late, and by the time Little Bear and I came back into the kitchen to compile supper, gray clouds had replaced our sunshine, the wind had picked up, and the thermometer had fallen again. Not so much picnic weather... but I already had potatoes cubed and boiled, peppers and onions chopped, and ham diced. What to do?

Strata! Or as it's generally referred to around here, egg bake. I threw the peppers and onions in a saucepan for a few minutes to soften them up, layered everything in a pan, sprinkled on some shredded cheese, and poured eggs beaten with milk over top. 50 minutes later, dinner came out of the oven right as Matt walked in the door.

4 potatoes, cubed and boiled 
2 c ham, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 slice red onion, diced
1+ c shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs
1/2 c milk

Layer first five ingredients in 9x13 pan. Beat together milk and eggs; add salt and pepper if desired and pour over other ingredients. Bake at 325 F for 50 to 55 minutes.

13 May 2013

Motherhood and Menu Plans

With Mother's Day yesterday, I kept seeing post after post pop up from other bloggers I follow reflecting on the beauty and joy of motherhood. This would have been the weekend for that, wouldn't it? It's too bad that, when I called my mother to wish her a happy Mother's Day and she asked how we were doing, my initial response was to suggest selling her only grandson to the zoo... 

Little Bear is a good kid. He sleeps through the night, mostly. He often entertains himself while I make dinner. He only fusses when something is actually wrong, not just because he is bored. He loves his daddy and me, and is almost always happy to play with us. He greets us with "Mama" and "Dad," sings with us in the car, comes crawling down the hall or around the corner to "find" us with the biggest grin on his face... And I know all of this. But when he's teething, and biting, and whining while he tries to climb on me as I try to work on a freelance writing job, it can be too easy to forget all of the wonderful things about being named Mama and just focus on the negative. 

I don't want that. I want to be the kind of mom my mother is, patient, compassionate, prayerful, joyful, pretty much perfect. I have a long way to go, but at least I have a good example.

Thank you, Mom, for being that example to me and all of your kids. Thank you, Matt, for being patient with me and loving me even though I haven't finished growing into "the perfect wife and mother" yet. Thank you, Little Bear, for making me a mother and helping me to keep growing every day...

As part of that working toward Perfect Wife & Mother-hood (I know, I know...) I've been thinking about posting my weekly menu plans on Mondays. I am hoping this will a) motivate me to actually finish planning the week's meals by mid-Monday and b) cut down on the number of days Matt gets home from work to see his wife working on the computer with a sleeping baby across her lap and no dinner started. Life happens, and I certainly won't feel obligated to make everything in the order I write it down if something else comes up, but having some kind of structure might help.

{Week of May 13}
Monday - hot ham and cheese sandwiches, green salad
Tuesday - vegetable-chicken stir fry, rice
Wednesday - egg bake (ham, potato, tomato, bell pepper)
Thursday - chicken enchiladas, green salad
Friday - vegetable soup
Saturday - moose meatball subs, green salad
Sunday - leftover night

12 May 2013

Pretty Much the Best Dessert Ever

Not that I'm biased or anything... but really, it is something special. Blueberry-rhubarb pie filling, cream cheese, whipped cream, pecan shortbread; I don't know how it could get any better.

I made this yesterday afternoon for a cook-out hosted by one of Matt's coworkers. Little Bear had been a whiny teething monster most of the day, and by early afternoon I had pretty much accepted the fact that I was just going to have to stay home with him, again, unless he got a spectacular nap. He did not, but somehow he was a fairly happy child after the abbreviated nap so we were able to go anyway. I am so glad -- it was great to get out and enjoy good company, lovely weather, and great food!

1 c chopped pecans
1 c flour
1/2 c butter, melted
Combine and press into bottom of 8x10 pan. Bake 20 minutes at 325 F or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool completely.

Cream layer:
8 oz whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
Whip cream at high speed until soft peaks form; set aside. Beat powdered sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Fold in whipped cream.

Blueberry-rhubarb pie filling:
3 c blueberries
1 c diced rhubarb
4 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 to 1 c sugar
Stir together cornstarch and 3/4 c sugar in medium pot. Add blueberries and rhubarb and stir to coat; add water until it comes halfway to the top of the fruit. Simmer, stirring often, over medium heat until it thickens. You may wish to add more sugar according to your tastes. Cool completely.

Spread cream evenly over cooled crust. Pour cooled pie filling over cream. Chill until ready to serve. 

My recipe, thrown together years ago from goodness knows how many sources, said to make this in a 13x9. I could not make the crust fit yesterday and I didn't have any more pecans or butter to add to it, so I used the smaller dish and wound up with leftovers of the upper layers. I'll probably make a little tart for a Mothers Day dessert tonight, or pour the blueberry-rhubarb over vanilla ice cream. If you want to try it in the larger dish, maybe -not- having a crying baby on your hip would help with spreading it thinner than I could get it! Check it at 15 minutes for doneness, since it won't be as dense.

11 May 2013


Congratulations to all those graduating this weekend, especially my fabulous sister Kim whom we just watched walk via the miracle of live streaming. BSN, magna cum laude, St Catherine of Sienna Award in Nursing... you are amazing! We are all so proud of you.

[photo when I get one - I forgot to take a screen shot while she was on stage]

10 May 2013

Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 30

Since yesterday was the Solemnity of the Ascension (even though most diocese have moved the observance to this coming Sunday), today begins the novena to the Holy Spirit leading up to Pentecost! The Pentecost Novena is the first novena ever celebrated by the Church: after Christ's Ascension, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem and spent nine days in prayer before the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost. Consider joining the novena this year to pray for the gifts of the Spirit in your life!

Blessed warmth! On Wednesday, we hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time since October 4. This afternoon, we may reach 60! It is so wonderful. The snow has been disappearing so quickly: I can tell a difference in the south-facing yard's snow cover from one hour to the next. Blue skies, birds singing, sun shining... perfection.
Lots and lots of sunshine: the sun rose at 4:44 this morning, and won't set until 10:53 tonight! And by "set," we mean the bottom of the sun touching the horizon. For all practical purposes, we have pretty much achieved our 'round the clock summer sun already: our room certainly wasn't all that dark when Little Bear was rolling around at 1 am. Alaska is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun for good reason!

Fortunately for us, we aren't experiencing much of that wee-hours-of-the-morning light because Little Bear is getting so good about not waking up at night! He may roll over and eat for a few minutes once or twice, but I don't always even remember it because neither of us really has to wake up for it. Some people have expressed concern that we are letting him sleep in our bed too long and he will never learn to sleep by himself... "Never" is pure hogwash, and too long? He's only 10 months old! He will learn to sleep in his own bed soon enough; there is no way I would want to give up these easy nights where we all sleep 9 to 10 hours straight in favor of a weeks-long difficult adjustment period just for the sake of a little extra space.

The siren-song of this gorgeous weather has lured Little Bear and me out for several walks this week. The longest was 3.3 miles, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but my breakup boots took vengeance on me for putting them to so much use and left a couple of blisters on my feet. I should probably resist the call to do it again this afternoon, to give them a little longer to heal, but it's so pretty outside... We will see. I am just so happy to be able to go for walks this spring! Last year I was in the third trimester of a pregnancy that was doing terrible things to my hips, and even walking around the house was sometimes impossible, so I spent most of the spring looking longingly out the window at the sunny days I couldn't take advantage of.

Maybe the little boy and I will take a walk while the jeep is at the shop today. It goes in in about an hour, and I unfortunately allowed the boy to go down for a nap that I knew he wouldn't be able to finish before we have to leave... I fully anticipate having a screaming passenger all the way across town. If I bring the ergo, though, maybe we can walk around a few blocks and he can fall back to sleep while the mechanics assess the damage done by the lady who rear-ended the jeep when Matt stopped at a stop sign on Monday.

Walking shoes. It's still too wet/snowy/cold/mucky for taking walks in anything but breakup boots, but soon enough it will be dry, so I'm looking for suggestions. My last pair of tennis shoes were Champions, which I had heard good things about and provided fairly good support, but they fell apart quickly. I wore them last summer anyway, but they had huge holes in the sides and toes and I finally had to get rid of them. What do you use? I need good arch support, but I don't plan to do a whole lot of running so I don't need something high-end. Just comfortable, not too hard to get on while wrangling a nearly-toddler, and well-made. Any suggestions?

Almost-toddler is right: Little Bear crawls as quickly as I can, pulls himself up on everything, cruises along furniture and stands on his own for a few seconds after letting go, and learned about climbing steps yesterday. We don't have stairs in our apartment, so he had never really encountered them. Yesterday we were visiting a friend, though, and Jude saw something up two steps that he really wanted. I, secure in the knowledge that he'd never seen stairs and couldn't know how to navigate them, wasn't really paying attention until he was suddenly up one step and working to get his knee up onto the second. He sat up on top, grinned, bounced up and down, and decided to slide down on his tummy face-first... I caught him before he could, but from now on we are going to have to pay a lot more attention to anywhere we go with stairs!

Have a wonderful Mothers Day weekend! Check out ConversionDiary.com for more quick takes!

07 May 2013

Craziness and Cookies

Yesterday morning, I got a text from Matt about 20 minutes after he left for work. So it's definitely a Monday today. He stopped at the stop sign where the road coming into our subdivision joins the main road to the university, and the driver behind him somehow didn't notice that he was stopping and rolled into the back bumper. And tried to make it sound like his fault. I'm sorry, lady, did you not expect him to stop at the stop sign?

Her insurance agent contacted him a few hours later, and they will be paying for all of the repair work, thankfully! I don't know what it is with people running into our car this year... I'm taking it in to the body shop to have the damage assessed on Friday, and hopefully they will be able to get it in for the repairs soon after. From what I could tell, only plastic parts were damaged; that should be a good thing, right? I know you can pound out dents in metal bumpers and it's probably not that easy with plastic, but at least the parts should be cheap if they have to be replaced.

Today's adventure was tamer: Little Bear and I rescued our pet sourdough that was languishing in the recesses of the refrigerator and put it to good use, along with a generous dose of creativity, making cookies. Sourdough-oatmeal-raisin-spelt-molasses cookies. Because clearly I couldn't think of any more absurd combinations of ingredients.

We went from this

to this

to this!

Two dozen nutritious and oddly delicious cookies. Matt hasn't tried them yet, so I can't tell you whether normal people agree with me on the "delicious" part (he will definitely second the "odd"!). I should have taken them out of the oven a bit earlier; they are a little hard. Next time!

Sourdough-Oatmeal-Raisin-Spelt-Molasses Cookies

1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1/2 c molasses
1 egg
1/2 c sourdough starter
1 3/4 c spelt flour (or be a normal human and use regular flour)
4 c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 c raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream butter, sugar, and molasses. Add all remaining ingredients except raisins and mix well. Fold in raisins. Form into ~1/4 c balls/mounds on a greased cookie sheet and bake 13-15 minutes (my recipe said 20, but that was definitely too long.) Makes 2 dozen.

05 May 2013

What I Wore Sunday {13}

Happy Pascha to all of my Orthodox friends today! Christ is Risen!

Such beautiful sunshine we are having today! It almost makes up for the foot of snow still blanketing the yard... which is finally melting, thankfully, but can't be gone quickly enough! We are getting close to 18 hours of sun, and with the snow everywhere reflecting the light, looking out the window can be painful.

Our pastor's homily was wonderful! He talked about the Council of Jerusalem, expounded on other key councils and how we see their fruits today, and pointed out that many of the problems in the Church today are partially caused by the failure on the part of many adult Catholics to put effort into actually learning and understanding the teachings that have been passed down to us. He pointed to the hullabaloo in the media and even among some Catholics back in February and March over whether the next pope would "finally change X," saying that that mindset showed a lack of understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church, and of Truth. It was so good to hear a clear, unashamedly Catholic explanation of why the Church will never say that evils like contraception are okay.

On a different note, this morning we learned that wearing heels while wrangling a 10-month-old solo requires a more adventurous mama than I am on paltry sleep. Little Bear was very sure that it was time to get up at 6am, and Matt hadn't had much sleep at all, so baby and I got up and took ourselves to early mass to give Daddy a quiet house to sleep in. The church was unusually full, with many people (adults) sitting in both cry rooms. I know it would have been hot and squished for those who arrived late to try to sit in the pews, and I'm sure there are adults with legitimate reasons for needing to sit not with the rest of the congregation, so I try not to be frustrated. It's hard, though, when your little one is fussing and squirming and folks in the pews are giving you dirty looks, and adults have filled the room where you ought to be able to take the kid... we wound up spending most of mass on the muddy steps in the vestibule, with my attention largely focused on keeping Little Bear from eating dirt, because there was simply nowhere else to go. Should we have just gone home?

Anyway. I liked today's outfit, and am so disappointed that I couldn't get a good photo because my photographer was sleeping! My necklace, which unfortunately is mostly hidden, is a series of black chain loops punctuated by black Swarovski crystals, and was a gift to go with my dress for prom years ago.

Shirt: thrifted
Skirt: thrifted (original tags still on; Walmart brand)
Necklace: gift
Nylons: Blueberry Baby (maternity boutique)
Shoes: thrifted (not pictured - black wedge Mary Janes)

Don't forget to check out more WIWS posts, hosted today at Messy Wife, Blessed Life!

03 May 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 29

Once upon a time, when I was young and foolish and barely into elementary school, it snowed on my birthday. And I was delighted. Here, truly, was proof that God loved me: He gave me snow for my birthday. For years after I prayed for snow on my birthday, but God, Whose foolishness surpasses human wisdom, never saw fit to grant it to me... until today. Now that I am old and wise enough to fully grasp the disgustingness of snow in May, I have been blessed with fully two feet of it still in the yard and more falling. There's a lesson in this somewhere. I'm just hoping that Little Bear never prays for snow on his birthday... that would be a truly miserable July.

I just noticed that both of the past two weeks' Takes were labeled Vol. 27. I think that's happened a few times in the past, too. Take your pick: I'm getting old, I have a whiny baby who destroys my brain cells, I can't count, all of the above.

My husband has been very kind about not paying me back today for all of the age-related jokes I made on his birthday... Thank you, Matt! For his part, Little Bear has made sure to stay awake all day long to give me the pleasure of his constant company; we wouldn't want Mama to get lonely on her birthday, now would we?

Most years, I've celebrated my birthday with picnics and lemonade and hikes through our local migratory bird refuge. While the weather didn't allow that today, my mom arranged a car-picnic after mass: we parked at the refuge and watched the birds from the warmth of the car for a half hour while enjoying veggie pinwheels and apples. We spotted Canada geese, sandhill cranes, swans, and several kinds of ducks.

Does anyone have suggestions on making a May crown for a statue of Our Lady? I didn't manage to last year, and this year real flowers are obviously not an option... Do they make wire-stemmed artificial flowers that could be woven together? Does anywhere sell artificial flowers that look like real flowers and not psycho daisies dipped in kool-ade?

What is it with men and doilies? Matt and many of his friends from school had an unfathomable prejudice against them...
R: I'd really like to find a doily to put under the state of Our Lady, to protect the bookshelf from getting scratched.
M: A doily? Really?
R: It serves the same function as the cloth runners on the dresser, and you don't see anything wrong with those...
M: Right...
R: A doily is just prettier!
M: Exactly!

On Wednesday, I overcame my aversion to touching chicken enough to successfully make chicken stock for the first time. It seemed a little thin, so maybe someone can tell me what I did wrong? I had the bone/rib pieces from two chicken breasts that the meat had been cut off of, and put them in a smallish (maybe 2.5 or 3 quart?) pot, covered them with water, and let it simmer for five hours. I was quite disappointed in my cookbooks... Surely the classics--Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens, etc--should tell you how to make stock, right? Wrong. Not my editions, at least. The Good Housekeeping book even had the nerve to say that nowadays everyone just uses bouillon or boxed stock.

Have a lovely weekend, hopefully less snowy than ours, and don't forget to stop by ConversionDiary.com for more Quick Takes!

02 May 2013

Pretending that Summer is Coming

Matt has joined the ranks of people theorizing that those two 40 degree weeks we got a while back were actually our summer, and now we are moving right along back into winter. I don't want to join them, but it would sure help if the snow would ever stop falling...

In protest of the idea of no summer, and in defiance of the disgusting cloud guts that are still spewing down everywhere, I made iced tea this morning. And then I put a sweater on so I could drink it.

Doesn't anyone have some nice weather they could send our way?