30 July 2013

Spoiled Milk

Well, I had a long post all written out about our incredibly exciting morning removing Little Bear's first splinter and trying to keep a bandaid on the offending finger (oh horrors!), wearing a bandaid clearly being the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to him in his entire life and I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call someone to make sure everything was okay, with all of the hysterics... But the Internet ate my post, and I don't feel like rehashing the drama again. So lucky you; here's a recipe instead:

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and 1 cup sugar. Beat in egg. Slowly add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Beat in milk until smooth. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Pour 1/3 of batter into greased loaf pan; sprinkle 1/3 of cinnamon sugar on top. Repeat twice, ending with sugar on top. Bake for 50 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

This may be my new favorite quickbread, y'all. It is so easy, and so delicious, and such a perfect texture, and it's a convenient way to use up the milk that didn't all get used before the expiration date... really, what more could you ask for? 

I'm making another loaf today to stick in the freezer; it's that good. If you want to try it but don't have any buttermilk or expired milk (am I the only one who winds up with that problem?), just use regular milk and add a couple of drops of white vinegar or lemon juice -- that works just fine.

28 July 2013

What I Wore Sunday {24}

Linking up a little late with the fabulous ladies of Fine Linen and Purple!

This morning we had a substitute priest at our parish; this is his third year spending about a month in Alaska giving our pastor a hand, and we are grateful for his sacrifice coming here and helping our pastor out! As I understand it, each will be saying two weekend Masses (different schedule each week) and they will trade off during the weekdays. I am sure that it is helpful for our pastor to get a bit of a break; we are the largest parish in the diocese, and he generally has to handle everything liturgical himself since our diocese simply doesn't have enough priests.

Which is why I feel so guilty about my reaction upon finding out that our pastor was not the celebrant of the Mass we attended this morning. We were able to attend Mass; there was a priest; he didn't change the words of the consecration or anything like that; I have absolutely 100% no right whatsoever to complain. But I looked at my husband, sighed, and maybe even rolled my eyes a little bit, because both of us are bothered by his delivery of his homilies. And yes, he did swear in his homily today like we remembered from last year. But he did have a good message, and it's uncommon these days to hear about the redemptive nature of suffering from the pulpit, and I realize that it was not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. Totally not justification for being annoyed and allowing myself to be distracted from what I should have been focusing on. Mea culpa.

Would it be wrong, or rude, or in poor taste for us to attend a different parish for the next few weeks? Does the intention behind the act matter? We could say that we were doing it because we really do like the priest at the university parish and don't get to hear his homilies very often... or because we wanted to save some gas money by going to a parish that isn't 20 miles away... or because Little Bear has been unusually fussy with new teeth coming in lately... And all of those excuses would be true, but they would still be excuses. Is it enough of a reason that we don't want our (preverbal) son to hear a priest swearing? That we don't want to hear that? I don't know.

Anyway! What you're really here for:

Grey cable-knit sweater: thrifted ages ago
Scarf that used to be on my head: garage sale
Green microsuede skirt: Sears
Shoes: hand-me-ups from my little sister
Disaster of a hairdo: scarf + child
The little man is all in hand-me-down Old Navy.

It has been chilly! The high today was theoretically 72, but I don't think we ever got there. I definitely wasn't overwarm in the crowded church in this sweater/scarf/heavy skirt combination, and Little Bear didn't complain once about wearing flannel. Is it really still July? It feels like September!

I hope that you are enjoying more seasonable weather. Have a lovely week!

27 July 2013

7P7D: Yay, Linguistics

I wasn't planning to post anything for NFP Awareness Week because, well, just because. But then I read this article last night, and everyone needs to go read it. Really, go.

When there's a contradiction between Translation X of an encyclical and the Vatican's translation, the Vatican is right. Period, end of story. There are quite a few Catholics opposing NFP on the interwebs that need to get off their high horses and stop worshiping the phrase "grave reason," because them just ain't the right words, y'all. And yammering on about the majority of NFP-users going to hell, based on your favorite inaccurate translation of Humanae Vitae, just isn't good evangelization.

If you didn't go read the whole thing, do it! But here's a quick recap:

- There are several English translations of Humanae Vitae available, but the Pauline Edition is the most widely circulated.

- The Pauline Edition is a transliteration from the Italian and is published by the Daughters of St Paul; the Vatican Edition was translated from the official Latin and is put forth by (surprise!) the Vatican.

- The two editions have, shall we say, "grave" differences which can substantially affect the meaning of certain passages.

- Such differences occur in paragraph 10 and paragraph 16, the paragraphs most commonly used to support the claims of those suspicious of or objecting to NFP use.

- If you didn't actively seek out the Vatican Edition when you read Humanae Vitae (or looked for the Church's teachings on NFP), you probably read the Pauline Edition instead... and you should go read the Vatican Edition, because it doesn't say the same thing. And the version from the Vatican is the correct version, because it's the Vatican.

Really, go read it. If you're Catholic, even if you aren't married, this is an area of Church teaching that is in the forefront of many people's minds with the ongoing HHS Mandate kerfuffle, and it's important for all Catholics to be able to clearly articulate what the Church actually teaches.

26 July 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 41

Lining up with Jen of Conversion Diary for the usual Friday party!

So far, so good on the 7 posts in 7 days challenge, although last night was close. I've learned a few things this week: I reallyd do have time to blog on the days that Little Bear naps on my lap, it's hard to force myself to come up with something to write about every single day, and linkups are definitely not "cheating" posts!

I also learned, on a completely different note, why it is a bad idea to walk a couple of miles in flip flops. Yes, I always knew in my head that it wasn't a great idea, but I didn't have any practical knowledge of why until yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, and Little Bear was resisting a nap at the top of his lungs, so I drove to campus earlier than I needed to pick Matt up, put Little Bear in the ergo, and took the longest route possible to walk to his office building. It didn't connect that I was wearing flip flops until I was almost half a mile from the parking lot, and being a stubborn woman, especially since the child had finally fallen asleep, I just kept going. By the time we met Matt and walked back down to the car, I had large blisters on both feet and the skin was cracking and starting to bleed. No more flip flops for me for a while!

It should be okay to keep going for walks, though, right? As long as I wear socks and proper shoes? I've gotten out for at least one walk every day this week, and already agreed to another this afternoon, and I really don't want to skip it. Getting motivated was hard at first, but right now I know how good I'll feel afterwards and how much Little Bear and I will both enjoy being outside, so I don't want to lose that momentum. Winter is coming fast enough, and it will be much harder to want to get exercise when it is cold.

Posting every day definitely has the downside of using up the things I would normally save up for Fridays... I have nothing here.

The children's room at our public library has a large, whimsical mural covering one wall: a parade of fairy-tale figures wends from a timber-framed castle toward the woods, where Alaskan animals and fanciful creatures alike look on. We sat in front of it reading stories the other day, and I was struck by the incredible details I'd never been close enough to notice before: in a fairy house high up in a spruce tree, a daddy stands on the balcony holding a baby no bigger than Little Bear's thumbnail. Farther down the tree, the mom looks up at them, and you can pick out every teeny flower embroidered on her apron. A gypsy in the far-away procession shakes a tambourine, and you can just see each of the bells. It's incredible! Little Bear was too wrapped up in staring at the paper stars hanging from the ceiling to pay much attention to the mural, but that'll come as he gets older.

We did a bit of saint-day feasting this week: for St Mary Magdalene on Monday, I made a nice moose roast; for St Bridget of Sweden on Tuesday, we had Swedish meatballs; and yesterday, for St James, my mother made a lovely plum tart. Today we celebrate Sts Joachim and Anne, parents of Our Lady, but I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing for it.

Little Bear is using words to communicate more and more: The other day he saw me standing in the kitchen eating a scone. He crawled over and pulled himself up, saying "Mama! Mama!" When I picked him up, he pointed to my scone and exclaimed, "Dat!" He grinned and bounced when I gave him a bite, and when he finished it he pointed to my scone and said "Dat!" again. It is so much fun to be a part of him learning new things every day!

Have a lovely weekend!

25 July 2013

7P7D: Bedtime for Nazgul

How is it late o'clock already? Jen's 7 posts in 7 days challenge is harder to keep up with than it sounded...

All during the day, from before he wakes up until we carry him into the bedroom in the evening, Little Bear is Little Bear. When his pajamas go on, though, it's like Cinderella's stroke of midnight: he transforms into Little Nazgul. 

He has perfected the ear-piercing shriek, and performs it for us frequently as we go through the process of putting him to bed. They aren't unhappy cries -- he thinks it's fun. I have no idea why this noise only comes out at bedtime, but it's sure better than hearing it all day long. His ear-splitting pre-sleep play is usually narrated in a dry voice by whichever parent isn't currently being attacked:

Little Nazgul: (bites Daddy's nose and shrieks)
Mama: Nazgul is hungry.

Little Nazgul: (blows raspberry on Mama and shrieks)
Daddy: Nazgul is playing.

Little Nazgul: (pounces onto Daddy and shrieks)
Mama: Nazgul is hunting.

Little Nazgul: (shrieks)
Daddy: Nazgul is angry... because I am tickling him.

Neither of us would go so far as to say that we enjoy being the Nazgul's victim, but it's a lot of fun to be a part of his play and know that he is happy. If only he was willing to do this before late o'clock at night!

24 July 2013

7P7D: Fruit-full Thoughts

Last night I stood at the kitchen counter, cleaning berries and listening to the wild laughter coming from the living room as Matt and Little Bear played together. Sticky orange juice trickled down my hands as I closed my eyes and breathed in, savoring the wild medley of scents in front of me: sweet, pungent salmon berry juice, earthy blueberries, sharp, spicy Labrador tea leaves. It smelled of home, of summer, of who I am. The Pandora station shifted into one of the themes for the The Lord of the Rings, and suddenly I was blinking back tears. "Please, can we skip this one tonight? I'm sorry," I called to my confused husband. "I just can't..."

Looking at photos I brought back from a summer hiking trip in the mountains, a college friend once exclaimed, "You don't live in Alaska, you live in Middle Earth!" And it's true. Up in the mountains, the plants are too green, the water too clear, the sky too vast to be real. From the first time I heard Howard Shore's soundtrack, I have associated it with my favorite -- to my mind, the most beautiful -- part of the state: a region of the Alaska Range, mostly above treeline and dotted with mountain lakes. If the homesteading act was ever renewed, I would build a cabin there in a heartbeat.

Hiking and camping in those mountains every year from when I was very young is one of the best memories I have, and if you asked me suddenly to picture a time or place when I was very happy, I would probably see myself high on a ridge, looking out across a lake. I would feel the wind in my hair, smell the tundra and the sunshine and my liberally-applied perfume of DEET, taste the frigid stream water and tart berry juice, hear loons calling, beavers slapping, ground squirrels chattering. I've always intended to share this area, my favorite place, with whomever I married... And now we have been married two years, nearly, and haven't been able to do any camping at all.

I understand; you grow up, and real life gets in the way, and you can't do the fun things that you thought would come with growing up when you were younger. Children happen, medical problems, tight work schedules. I do understand, really. But being out berry picking yesterday, with the sudden onslaught of the sights, and smells, and sounds, and sensations of all of those happy times growing up, brought home to me how very, very much I missed all of that. How long it had been, and how nothing else could really take its place. 

That's when the tears came. The m-word (moving) has come up many times recently, between frustration with the work situation and the long, cold winters and the astronomically high cost of living, and I have to admit that for many reasons it is the logical decision. But emotionally, it feels like pretty much the worst idea ever, and the idea of leaving is tearing me up. Nothing will be the same, and I'll be leaving behind so much that I love. There aren't any definite plans yet, but we both know that it will probably happen, maybe even within the next year. And last night, I realized that that meant that I might never see my mountains again.

So like the mature adult that I am, I sat down with my husband to explain why making a trip there was important to me and discuss whether we could find a way to make camping with the child work, right? Ha. Well, that did eventually happen, after an hour or two of him being confused because I was sad but wouldn't say why and just apologized for being selfish when he asked... But because he is wonderful, y'all, he did get me to talk about it and was totally open to the idea, pointing out several logistical problems we will have to try to work around but being willing to help me find solutions, like finding out whether Little Bear will sleep in a tent before we drive five hours away from home, and looking for ways to keep him happy in the car on such a long drive, and working around his office's very, very busy schedule in August and September. I am so blessed to have such a husband.

There's no guarantee it will happen this summer, but we will try. And if it doesn't work, letting him know how much I miss being out in the mountains means that we will at least get some more hiking in; we've been uneasy doing much of that on our own without bear protection, but since we're collectively getting just that for our anniversary, that's no longer a concern! I'm so grateful to him, and so excited to spend more time outdoors.

Salmon berry, AK blueberry, store-bought blueberry 

23 July 2013

7P7D: Berrying

July, usually mid-July, marks the beginning of our berry season. Blueberries, then salmon berries, cranberries, cloudberries... We are so blessed to live somewhere with such natural bounty, and where we can just drive ten minutes out of town, hike into the woods, and pick! I haven't been able to go berrying for several years, having a brand-new baby last berry season and being busy with work and wedding preparation the previous year, so being able to get out this year has been so enjoyable; kneeling amid the boggy tussocks, smelling the trees and the plants and the sodden ground, reveling in the wide-open space with no other human in sight or earshot... If we ever move away, well, I'm sure I would be happy anywhere as long as I had my husband and my son... but the outdoors of Alaska is like a part of me, being out in those woods is as instinctive as breathing, and leaving it behind would be painful.

Little Bear and I met my mom and a few of the kids to pick blueberries this morning. We tromped through the tussocks for maybe a quarter of a mile to find a patch they had noticed when they were out Sunday afternoon. Blue everywhere! I love looking ahead through the trees and seeing a bush that is more blue than green... and we found plenty of those today! Little Bear had fun for a while sitting on a blanket, watching my little sisters and trying to dump their buckets, while I picked almost a half-gallon of blueberries and an overflowing pint of salmon berries. We have to go back; there were still so many out there, and I would love to have a freezer full! Fresh fruit is ridiculously expensive here even in the summers; it is important for us to preserve as much as we can to eat during the winter.

I didn't go out looking for salmon berries today, but they were ripe and beautiful and everywhere and I just couldn't resist. I think I have enough for two small jars of jam; I'll probably wind up picking more, though. The blueberries will just be frozen in quart bags after I finish cleaning them, to go in pancakes and muffins and smoothies and such. 

Our picking time was cut short today because someone didn't take a nap this morning, and was all done being awake but couldn't bring himself to lay down and go to sleep. He got a good nap this afternoon, though, so maybe we will even go back out with Daddy once he gets off work? We shall see.

22 July 2013

7P7D: My Love-Hate Affair With Cry Rooms

Today is the first day of Jen Fulwiler's epic blogging challenge, 7 posts in 7 days. You can link up at Conversion Diary to join the fun! I wasn't initially going to participate; "I only get a couple of posts up a week because I just don't have time," I tell myself. But honestly? It's because I'm too much of a perfectionist. I don't have enough to say on that subject, don't have the perfect words for it, that photo isn't good enough, nobody really cares anyway... I talk myself out of so many posts. So here we go: a whole week where I have to get something published every single day even if it isn't perfect.

This weekend, Kendra at Catholic All Year shared an upsetting exchange with a priest over whether children belonged in church, and asked for thoughts on cry rooms. (She wants them all filled with cement.) I dislike them, use them anyway, have seen good ones and bad ones, and think that the problem isn't really about cry rooms at all.

As she and many others have said, cry rooms tend to be loud and wild places where children can do whatever they want while the parents chat and totally ignore the fact that they are in Mass. I hate it. If we wanted Little Bear to learn how to behave in that sort of environment, we would take him to the McDonald's play place. It frustrates both him and me to be in a cry room like that: him because he sees other kids laughing and running and at one year old is incapable of understanding why I keep hushing him and restraining him on my lap, me because, well, it's wrong and disrespectful and distracting and just reinforces the prejudices of those members of the congregation who don't want kids in Mass. Closing the door keeps the noise level down, but I've never seen a cry room that was actually sound proof. 

If cry rooms bother me so much, why do I wind up in one at least once almost every time we go to Mass? Because the idea of cry rooms is good; you is could even make the argument that it is necessary. A place for the parent of a crying baby or small child to take the young'un to calm them down and help them get back to a state where they can return to Mass with the rest of the congregation, instead of struggling to control a tantrum in the pew and bothering everyone else or just flat-out leaving. Having a place dedicated to this is a good thing, particularly when it's situated so they can still see and participate in the Mass. When Little Bear becomes fussy and simple quieting efforts don't work, I quickly move him to the cry room until I can get him quiet or until the next hymn, when he will be happy and distracted from whatever is bothering him by looking at everyone else singing.

Or, I try to. If the cry room is full of laughing, playing children and chatting adults, or all of the seats are taken because whole families with older children decided to sit there (why do people do that??? It's a cry room. Some people actually need to use it; your four elementary- and middle-school kids probably don't), I wind up out on the front steps or down in the basement, anywhere I can find a seat far enough away to keep my child's wailing from upsetting others.

The problem isn't cry rooms; it's the adults who abuse cry rooms. Sitting in the cry room should be a therapeutic measure, not a preventative one! And maybe I'm a terrible person, but I do not feel guilty for tapping a woman on the shoulder as she's chatting about milestones with another parent, pointing to her children shrieking and wrestling on the floor, and suggesting--in a whisper--that she do something about it. I would never, ever do that to a parent who was making even a token effort to control her kids, but for those who seem to have forgotten that they are at Mass or that they have offspring, a quiet reminder and offer of assistance (I'm sorry; your child just hit that girl. Can I do anything to help you?) can be an act of charity. 

The pastor can be a very important part of how people see, and to some extent use, cry rooms. I've noted before that our pastor is just excellent on this front; he reminds the congregation at least once a year that the many young children in our parish are a blessing, that they belong in Mass, and that the cry rooms are only there as a place for parents to temporarily bring children until they are able to rejoin the congregation. Does everyone listen to him? Of course not. But it helps; it helps tremendously.

In a case where the pastor is less enthusiastic about children at Mass, or less vocal and refrains from curtailing negativity from congregants, it's hard to say exactly what the right response would be; going to a more family-friendly parish is an appealing option, but isn't always possible. Getting to know like-minded parents and making an effort to "take back" the cry rooms may work in some places. Maybe the parish religious education director would have ideas of ways to catechize parents on the importance of teaching their children from the very beginning about proper, reverent Mass behavior. Offering quiet, gentle reminders to other parents can also be surprisingly effective, and may not make people as huffy as you expect.

Dealing with the circuses that many of our cry rooms seem to devolve into is not fun, and can be terribly frustrating when you just want to pray and keep your own child(ren) in check, but take heart! The cry room can be a good thing if used properly, and the first step to turning a wild cry room into a proper one may be in your hands.

19 July 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 40

Linking up with Jen for another round of (very) quick takes!

Having the dryer running in the background is a huge help in putting Little Bear down for a nap, but he always wakes up when it ends because the buzzer is so loud. I know, first world problems.

Could I ask for prayers for Matt's aunt? She is hospitalized and suffering from several serious conditions right now, and the doctors don't sound terribly encouraging. 

Has anyone else experienced night terrors with one-year-olds? It happened again last night, and it's so hard to hold him as he screams and sobs and refuses to wake up so I can comfort him. I asked the nurse about it the other week, and she was surprised -- I guess it's not normal to start before age 3.

More rain for the firefighters this week; no torrential downpours, but we've had something fall from the sky every day this week. Wednesday afternoon was gorgeous, though, and I took Little Bear for a walk all the way to Matt's office. It's close to four miles, and I was a little disappointed that it took me a whole hour, but I enjoyed the walk and it was fun to surprise him by showing up as he finished up for the day.

My mother was cleaning out her files of old school papers the other day, and when I stopped by yesterday, she had the folder of all of my tests/papers/report cards set out for me to look through. As I flipped through it, my sophomore year PE log caught my eye: log hauling - 3 hrs; splitting wood - 2 hrs; shoveling - 2 hrs; skiing - 2.5 hrs, etc. Oh, homeschooling.

I'm looking for some nice, neutral tones of fast-drying nail polish... Any suggestions? And do they make any that are non-toxic, so that I can stop worrying when Little Bear sneaks up on me and bites my toes?

I made bread pudding on Monday, and it turned out so well that I have to share the recipe; I found it in one of this past winter's issues of Ruralite magazine, but failed pretty badly at following the actual recipe so I'll note my changes:

2 cups half-and-half (or if you can read as well as I can, 2.25 cups heavy cream)
1 egg, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon (or tablespoon) vanilla extract
Half a loaf of French bread (or Irish soda bread)
4 tablespoons of butter

Cut the bread into half-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine all other ingredients except butter (I melted the butter and added it at this step, because I'm so good at following directions). Dump in bread and stir, making sure it is thoroughly wet. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour into greased 8x8 baking dish. If you didn't already add the butter, cut it into little pats and scatter them across the top. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes.

The recipe called for topping it with a white chocolate sauce; caramel would also be good, or fruit of some variety. We used the leftover blueberry pie filling I made last week, and that was very good. Little Bear sure like it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

17 July 2013

Falling by the Wayside

I'm 0 for 2 so far this week on celebrating feast days... Thankfully today is a feria! The closest I got to doing anything for St Bonaventure on Monday was trying to convince myself that eating stale bread for dinner was in keeping with the spirit of the early Franciscans; I may have lost points for drowning it in cream and eggs and making bread pudding out of it, though. Probably. Yesterday, I had the best of intentions: for Our Lady of Carmel, we were going to read about the brown scapular after dinner while eating caramel ice cream sundaes. Except Matt doesn't like caramel. And I forgot to buy any, anyway.  And Little Bear shoveled applesauce into his mouth too quickly and gagged, and no one ate dessert last night because we were too busy cleaning up and bathing him...

Why is it so difficult to stay on top of things like this? It shouldn't be difficult to look ahead to the coming week's observances and work some little thing into our schedule or menu for feast days and memorials. It shouldn't. How hard would it have been to actually write the words "caramel sauce" on last week's grocery list? Would it have been so very taxing to use the brown sackcloth table runner on Monday? To read aloud one paragraph related to the day, or find one related prayer to say before bedtime?

Fostering a Catholic environment within our family is important to me, and I don't understand why I'm having so much trouble. I only have one kid, and he is becoming more independent and happy to play on his own for short periods of time, so that's no excuse. I dislike blaming him, anyway, because he really isn't a difficult child and I know that my lot is pretty easy. So why can't I find a few minutes to do this?


Rosalie: ...She's passionate about it, and that's good; she just needs to learn that sometimes there are better ways to reach people than with a 2x4.

Matt: Yeah, like a 2x6... those are much better. Or even a 4x4! You've seen those, right? They're great! You can reach really far with them...

14 July 2013

What I Wore Sunday {23}

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday!

Today's Gospel reading was one that you hear so often that, for me at least, it sort of slides into the platitude category; yeah, we know, treat everyone else the way we want to be treated, we've heard that a thousand times before. But in his homily today, our pastor drew out the fact that we sort of slide past the meat of this message because it does, and should, make us uncomfortable. Like the scribe to whom the parable was addressed, we don't have trouble recognizing that the Samaritan's actions are those of a "neighbor". What we do have trouble with is making excuses to justify our not helping those in need.

In Jesus' time, traveling alone between Jerusalem and Jericho was phenomenally stupid. The road winds through mountains filled with ravines, where many cutthroats and brigands hid and preyed on travelers. When Christ began his parable by describing the lone traveler's mugging, many of his listeners were probably thinking, "Well, of course he got robbed! What was he thinking, traveling that road alone?" But Christ didn't tell them to let the man suffer the consequences of his own poor choice; he commended the man who went out of his way to help the unfortunate.

That strikes closer to home. Our city has a huge chronic inebriate problem, and driving around, you frequently see intoxicated homeless people begging on street corners. My reaction has usually been, "Of course I'm not going to give him money; he made his choices and is dealing with the consequences, and I don't want to support his alcoholism." But that's not the response Christ is asking of me, is it?

I'm fortunate that the cry room has speakers, or I would have missed out on that homily which I clearly needed to hear. Little Bear has been a very unhappy child off and on for the past few days, and Matt and I traded off taking care of him in the cry room for most of Mass. I think he's teething again; his sixth tooth broke through last week, and there's a white nub where another is trying to come in. The only times he was quiet while out in the main church were while leaning over my shoulder to stare at the adorable one-month-old behind us who slept in his mother's arms all through Mass. Oh, I miss that stage! So small and sweet and quiet...

The outfit:
Blouse: Van Heusen, thrifted
Skirt: Faded Glory, thrifted
Shoes: Self Esteem, Fred Meyer 

Today's outfit was basically recycled from our date last night, the first time Matt and I'd had a solid hour and a half to ourselves in quite a while. It's funny how something so casual can feel so special -- we picked up burgers from A&W and sat on a park bench by the river talking, then stopped by a restaurant with a nice bar and each had a drink while sitting on their deck, watching boats go past on the river. As we were getting ready to go pick up Little Bear, a mama duck with seven ducklings came onto the deck and ran around, quacking and eating bits of bread thrown to them by other diners. It was so funny!

While grocery shopping the other week, I noticed that the shoe department was having a sale -- 50% off the lowest-marked clearance price. I told myself I was just going to look... but when I found these for less than $15, I was hooked! I've been seeing this style everywhere and wishing for a pair, so when these fit... They're a bit higher than I'm supposed to wear, but they are so much fun!

Have a lovely week!

12 July 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 39

Linking up with Jen & Co., because it's Friday.

I've been a lousy blogger this week, I apologize... Someone has been having trouble sleeping, which means Mama isn't sleeping either. So my brain is all fuzzy during the day and putting together a post sounds about as complicated as planning an Everest expedition, but less fun. Hopefully I'll get more sleep this weekend and we'll fix that. I'm grateful for regular linkups, because they give me that extra push to get words down on the page on weeks when blogging seems like too much work.

Our little man is a very adventurous eater--I'm so glad. I wouldn't know how to deal with a kid who only wanted to eat a few particular foods... picky eating was never an issue in our house growing up, so I don't have a good concept of how I'd combat it. Little Bear is good about trying anything we put in front of him, though: this week's new foods included grilled zucchini, buffalo steak, and cherry-rhubarb crumble. He was very helpful the other night when I made pizza; the crusts were too hard and pokey for me to eat, but he stole the crust off my plate and happily ate it all up!

We just signed the lease for a third year in our apartment. It's weird what kinds of clauses end up in leases; the first two years, the lease said that we could only have one child and that child had to be under 2. This year they changed the paperwork so we can stay until Little Bear is 5... if we don't have a second child before then. It was nice of them to let us know they aren't planning on kicking us out next June if we are still happy here, but signing a legally binding document effectively agreeing to be kicked out if we have another child still doesn't sit well with me. Why would they put in a clause like that? It's a two-bedroom apartment; there is far and away enough room for a second child.

Is anyone familiar with any good, solidly Catholic RCIA/RCIC curriculums? A good friend just became a DRE, and is looking to replace the curriculum she found at the parish. I looked at it with her, and we were both shocked--well, disappointed--to see that the lesson on being pro-life never even mentioned contraception or the Church's position on abortion, instead describing the main pro-life issues as poverty, racism, and capital punishment. Which are all life issues, but you can't leave out the brutally-murdering-innocent-people "issue" in a presentation on the Church's teachings and the right to life.

Today is just gorgeous: there's not a cloud to be seen in the blue sky, so bright that I can hardly bear looking at it. Little Bear and I are planning to meet a friend and her kids at a nearby playground and go for a walk this evening. I'm looking forward to it! We had clouds and rain pretty much every day this week leading up to today, so we haven't been getting any walks in beyond the daily trip to the mailbox. Yes, they do sell umbrellas in Alaska, but in my defense I was told not to do any serious exercising for a couple of weeks after surgery... and yes, I know that I'm just making excuses. But we're getting out and getting exercise tonight!

Ever since the last week of June, Matt and I have been trying to find an opportunity to go out just the two of us to celebrate his finishing a major, months-long certification process for some of the more advanced video conferencing equipment his department has started working with. He passed the test on the first try with one of the highest scores anyone in his office had earned, and I am so proud of all of the hard work he put into it! One thing after another had gotten in the way, but I think we are finally going to make it happen this weekend. Little Bear will go play with his aunts and uncles at my parents' house for a couple of hours, and we will be able to sit down and have an adult conversation for a whole meal! And I can dress up without having to plan for feeding the small human! What fun.


Story time with Daddy -- one of Little Bear's favorite things.

Have a lovely weekend!

07 July 2013

What I Wore Sunday {22}

Sunday again! Time to link up with Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday.

This morning was surprisingly restful. After two difficult nights, Little Bear decided that he was sleeping in today, and we certainly weren't going to disagree! We had a quiet morning, reading and relaxing until he woke up at quarter to 10. By that point there were only a few options left for Masses, and we decided to visit the university parish -- it's the closest to us, not even ten minutes away, and has Mass at 10:30.

They don't have a church building of their own; they have a small chapel, but construction around the university campus has cut off road access for the summer. Fortunately I get their bulletins emailed to me, so we knew that they were meeting in the upper room of the cafeteria today. It was good to see their priest and the parishioners we know, since we hadn't been there in several months.

Have you read any of Pope Francis' encyclical, Lumen fides, yet? It is so good! I haven't finished yet, I'm only able to grab a few minutes at a time, but it has that wonderful quality of being accessible in small chunks of time like that. I don't like to say that it is written "simply," because I don't want to give the impression that it isn't profound and full of meaning and ideas and ways of seeing faith that I'd never thought of before, but somehow it is all of that and still clear and simple to understand even for a busy mom. Like Chesterton. It's like Chesterton, if that means anything to you.

Little Bear exhibited his classic "new place quietness" today: he sat perfectly still and silent, looking at the people around us, all the way up until halfway through the consecration, when he squirmed away to sit on the floor quietly patting the folding chair in front of us. Sitting in the back row directly in front of the choir helped a lot; as long as he could see them, he was happy! He did decide that he absolutely could not stay in Matt's arms as we prepared to receive Communion, arching his back and saying "mama mama mama" until I took him, but that was really all the noise out of him. Mass grade: A

I prefer to wear a skirt to Mass, but not knowing what the setup would be today, I decided to go with these capris. I think I was still dressy enough for Mass...?

Blouse: Van Heusen (thrifted)
Capris: Cabelas
Sandals: Payless Shoes

Have a beautiful Sunday afternoon!

05 July 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 38

Linking up with Jen on this beautiful Independence Day weekend!

Today is Little Bear's first birthday! It's crazy; there's no way he has been here for a whole year already. We are celebrating by going to the doctor and getting shots (aren't I a fun mom?), having his aunt over for dinner, and possibly being joined by the rest of my family for dessert and presents if they get back into town early enough. I have a cake in the oven, and am prepping peach-strawberry ice cream for the ice cream maker. Mmm...

Pope Francis' first encyclical was released today! Lumen fidei, The Light of Faith. You can download it in .pdf from the Vatican website, or I believe that Brandon Vogt has it in an ebook format. I haven't managed to read much yet, what with birthday preparations and general taking care of the house, but I'm looking forward to it!

I grew up with big Independence Day celebrations: 30+ people over, a big cookout, lots of pie and fireworks and games. Most of my family is down at the lake this year, though, so we had a quiet celebration with my one sister who is in town. She made pie and yogurt-filled strawberries, I made burgers, and Matt manned the grill while Little Bear crawled around having fun and getting under everyone's feet. We had planned to grill ears of corn, but when I husked them, big sections were mealy and rotting. That was a disappointment! 

A disappointment for Mel and Matt, at least--I hadn't been planning on eating corn anyway. See, I've accidentally hit upon the most effective diet ever: having your wisdom teeth out. Because my oral surgeon's office closed for the entire week of the 4th, the nurse did an excellent job of scaring me into not eating anything that could possibly irritate or get stuck in my incisions. In the past week, I've really only eaten very small bites of soft foods... And since it takes so much longer to eat something when you are taking baby-sized bites, I just haven't been eating a lot quantity-wise; I think I've finally managed to stop losing weight as of this morning, but I dropped 10 pounds in less than a week and am lighter than I was when we got married!

And yes, I know that isn't healthy, especially while I'm still nursing Little Bear. It wasn't intentional, believe me. However, if I can maintain the weight I am now, eating well and exercising more,  I would be thrilled. I'm still having trouble eating normal adult-sized quantities of food, though; any suggestions for nutrient- and calorie-dense soft foods?

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I rely on my rss reader too much. Feedly encountered some kind of problem when Google Reader was retired July 1, which only affected people who logged out and tried to log back in... But I finally got around to installing an update on July 2, and it logged me out of Feedly. The developers immediately fixed the problem when it was reported and submitted an update to the iOS App Store, but Apple still hasn't approved it because it's Independence Day weekend. When Matt came home from work the other day and asked if I'd heard about some current events, I petulantly replied that I didn't know anything because my rss reader was broken... and I definitely deserved it when he rolled his eyes and laughed.

Where did the giant toddler sprawled across my lap come from? Has he really gone from this 

to this

in only a year?

Have a wonderful weekend!

04 July 2013

A Year Ago

A year ago, I lay here grumbling about how I couldn't sleep. Too hot, too cold, too soft, too hard, too uncomfortable. Little contractions, not worth paying attention to, just enough to bother me. I finally took pity on my husband and went out to the living room to walk the contractions away. Walking made Braxton-Hicks stop, right? I walked in circles, grumbling, for an hour. Little contractions, just enough to be annoying and keep me from sleeping, and they wouldn't go away and let me sleep. After an hour, I dug around and found a stopwatch--I may as well be clocking how much exercise I'm getting, right? But the timer was broken, or I was counting wrong, or something. The contractions, little insignificant contractions that were only annoying, not painful, were a minute long and a minute apart. I was counting wrong; those numbers belong in transition, and transition hurts, so this wasn't transition. I walked for another half hour, counting. The numbers didn't change. I woke Matt up. Should I call the midwife? I think I'm counting wrong, but... I called the midwife. I'll meet you at the hospital, she said.

A year ago, we walked into the E.R., the only door of the hospital open in the middle of the night, and sat down amid the people who had been too enthusiastic in their celebration of Independence Day. A man nearby bragged about the bar fight he'd taken part in.  I still think I'm counting wrong, I whispered to Matt. The nurses are going to laugh at the first-time mom who panicked and came in with Braxton-Hicks. We should go home. He shook his head, no, as a nurse from the Women's Center came out and said my name. She smiled, walking quickly, leading us upstairs. See, she doesn't think I need to be here. She could walk a little slower, though.

A year ago, a nurse, many years' veteran of the Women's Center, stared at me. Honey, you should have been here hours ago. How was I almost done with transition? Those little contractions couldn't have done this. It didn't make sense. Nurses ran around, preparing for the birth, while I stood in the shower, letting the hot water hit my lower back and ease through the last centimeter of dilation. It was distinctly uncomfortable now, occasionally painful. But not terrible. Wasn't transition supposed to be terrible? Was something wrong with me? Was something wrong with the baby?

A year ago, the midwife smiled and handed me a slippery, screaming baby. Come in earlier next time, okay? Big blue eyes stared up at Matt and I, a little pink nose wrinkling above the perfect little mouth. And so much dark hair!

How in the world has it been a year? A whole year, and only a year? It cannot have been that long... and at the same time, a year couldn't be long enough to transform that perfect, tiny baby into the playful little boy who spent hours playing tag and building towers with his daddy today. What happened?

We love you so much, Little Bear, and are so incredibly blessed to be your parents! Happy first birthday, little one.