29 November 2013

SQTF 58: Thanksgiving Weekend

It's funny to even think about pairing the words "quiet" and "Thanksgiving," but it really was this year. In defiance of all tradition and logic, all three of us slept in past 9 am. We woke up to a happy child--happy and healthy for the first time in too long--trying to climb over us onto the floor, took leisurely showers, and nibbled muffins while making a broccoli-wild rice casserole to bring to dinner at my family's house. Dinner was quieter than usual, with only a small crowd, and we left much earlier than usual to come home for nap time. And the rest of the day was just... quiet. Peaceful. It was nice, but so weird.

Today made up for the quiet. Okay, we slept in again, but Little Bear and I wolfed down muffins and were out the door heading over to pick up two of my sisters 20 minutes after waking up. We had an impressive list of stores we wanted to visit, but after spending more than an hour at Fred Meyers, we decided to skip most of the others! Fred's was crazy, but JoAnn Fabrics... I'm so glad that my sister decided to just pick up some remnants, because the line for the cutting tables wound through half the store! We were in and out of Once Upon a Child quickly, because they only had pink boots in the size Little Bear needs.

I kind of miss the once-a-year craziness of Black Friday shopping with friends when I was in college... Staying up all night, waiting in line out in the cold, getting breakfast at Eat'n'park after a couple hours of being slightly irresponsible with money but having oh so much fun. Today I bought socks, and blanket sleepers, and wrapping paper, and cheese. Practical? Yes. Responsible? Yes. Boring? Oh, yes. 

Why do we waste all of those years wishing we were grown up?

Fortunately we wore Little Bear out, so he is taking a good nap today; yesterday, after getting sleepy and angry and making us head home early, he refused to actually nap until nearly 5pm. I felt so badly waking him up a little while later, but we couldn't let him sleep so long that he wouldn't go to bed... Today, after helping to push the shopping cart all over the place and running around at my mom's house, he fell asleep shortly after we got home.

Little Bear is truly his father's son: for supper last night, since it was a holiday, I decided to be "fun mom" and let him have a piece of pumpkin pie... And he refused to have anything to do with it, eagerly sharing his dad's pasta with pesto and Parmesan instead! Not that I'm complaining, because that meant, of course, that had to eat the little piece of pumpkin pie off his tray in addition to my slice of pecan, because we wouldn't want pie to go to waste...

I'm out of thoughts, so how about some recipes? I'll try to throw some photos up with these if I can find any...

Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole
1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup uncooked white rice
7 cups chicken broth
3 crowns broccoli
1 pound white button mushrooms
1 onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Bring the wild rice (in 2 1/2 cups chicken broth) to a boil over medium heat uncovered; turn to low and cook, covered, 35-40 minutes. Set aside.

Bring the white rice (in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth) to a boil over medium heat uncovered; turn to low and cook, covered, 25 minutes. Set aside.

While cooking the rices, draft your husband into finely dicing the mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery while you cut the broccoli into florets and blanch it in boiling water for 2 minutes. Plunge broccoli into bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In a broad saucepan, sauté the mushrooms and onion in olive oil for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add carrots and celery and cook another 4 minutes, until the mixture begins to darken. Thoroughly stir in flour, then add remaining 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken, about three minutes. Stir in cream, salt, and pepper and cook until thickened.

Mix everything together in your slow cooker and heat on low until ready to serve. (At least one hour if you carried it out into a -12 F car!) 

Butternut Squash Surprise Muffins
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup cooked butternut squash
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. Don't let your toddler run off with one muffin pan full of batter while you're filling the other one. Bake 25-30 minutes. Makes too much for 12 muffin cups; I filled a mini loaf pan as well.

Have a wonderful, hopefully restful, Thanksgiving weekend! Don't forget to check out more Thanksgiving takes at Conversion Diary.

27 November 2013

Waking Up to Snow

The last seven days kind of run together in my mind--just a mess of feverish kiddo and doctor visits and spots and screaming and not sleeping.  It's getting better, though: the fever hasn't put in an appearance since Monday morning, the spots are fading, and I decided not to go back to the doctor today--the pediatrician ordered bloodwork, but told me not to worry about getting it done as long as Little Bear continued to improve. Little Bear seemed much more like himself by yesterday evening, and more so today.

A very angry version of himself, because there are at least two teeth trying to break through. But still, it's so good to see him running around and showing interest in toys and books again!

Thanks to the teething, he spent a several-hour block of last night waking up screaming every twenty minutes until we finally got up and turned lights on at 3am, changed him, checked to make sure the fever hadn't come back, and gave him another dose of Tylenol for his teeth. Today is following a similar pattern; periods of happy play and reading stories interspersed with angry screaming and refusing to be anywhere not in my arms. I'm so glad we aren't hosting Thanksgiving this year! Nothing has gotten done this week, and I don't think today will be much of an exception.

But I'm not complaining, really, because having a healthy toddler screaming at the top of his lungs because his teeth hurt is much, much better than having a sick toddler sprawled limply on my lap whimpering because he doesn't have the energy to do anything else.

And because this is already about as disorganized as my brain is right now, I have to say that temporal artery thermometers (the ones you swipe across the forehead) are the most wonderful things ever. Ever. The axillary thermometer we had been using for Little Bear since he was born regularly took up to five minutes to take his temperature, and we would be sitting there trying to pin his arm down, keep his other hand from grabbing the thermometer, rocking, singing, trying to calm him down so he didn't throw up, while he screamed and writhed and the stupid thermometer sat there taking its sweet time. We definitely didn't take his temperature unless we absolutely had to.

A few days into this latest bout of fever and screaming, Matt swung by the store and picked up a forehead thermometer. It took a couple of tries to figure out exactly where to scan, and we had to make a game out of it to get him to let us try it on him, but now Little Bear will sit perfectly still and scrunch up his nose while we slide the thermometer across his forehead, then exclaim "Ding!" when it beeps--in a matter of seconds, not minutes! I was a little taken aback when I saw the receipt (okay, "shocked speechless" might be more accurate; maybe "almost died"), but it's honestly worth it.

Now that he's on the mend and active and doing things like bringing me his boots to ask if he can go play outside, I'm noticing an unfortunate trend so far this winter. Snow took a long time to get here, but when it finally arrived, Little Bear got one day of playing in it before he got a bad cold and had to stay inside. By the time he got better, the temperature had plummeted far below 0 and he had to stay inside. Then it warmed up, and he got sick again. Now he is finally getting better, and it's only 0 out today but they are calling for temperatures to drop again. We have a winter storm watch in effect right now, mainly for snow accumulation; I'd better bundle him up well and take him out to play in it for a little bit this afternoon, or we will wind up having spent the entire month of November inside!

25 November 2013

There and Back Again

To the doctor's office, that is. 

We went in on Friday because Little Bear had a fever and there was concern that his ear infection hadn't actually gone away. His ears looked great, but if the fever stuck around until Monday we needed to bring him back in, the pediatrician said.

Then he got spots, little red spots singly and in clusters all over his body. The fevers didn't go away, and didn't even really come down all that much with Tylenol. He cried and cried and coughed and threw up throughout the weekend, so Monday morning I cancelled our car appointment (because of course everything goes wrong at the same time) and took him back to the doctor.

His ears still looked great. The spots could be anything; lots of kids get rashes with fevers, especially kids with eczema. The fever disappeared, at least temporarily, between the house and the doctor's office... so I felt a little silly. The pediatrician was having trouble hearing his lungs, though, and was concerned about the combination of that plus fever plus throwing up while he nursed, and sent us downstairs to radiology for a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia.

Heavens, toddlers and X-rays are an unhappy combination.

Little Bear was so distraught, seeing Mama in the funny green apron, being stuck in another doctor's office with funny machines, having to sit on a table instead of on Mama's lap... I did my best to comfort him without being able to give him what he wanted, but he got himself too worked up and threw up all over the radiologist's table. It took two radiologists plus me to get the two images they needed, and I had a time of it calming him down afterward.

The X-rays came back perfectly normal, thank goodness! We are keeping an eye on his temperature, hoping that the fever is really gone, and have another follow-up tomorrow in case the fever shows up again. Such fun. Praying that everything gets better quickly and we can be all done at the doctor's office for a while!

22 November 2013

SQTF 57: Doctors, Mechanics, and Firemen

Our check engine light started flashing again yesterday, so per the mechanic's instructions, Little Bear and I brought it in right after dropping Matt off this morning. They scanned the code, and in addition to the "multiple cylinder misfires," "cylinder three misfire," etc we were expecting, there's apparently also something wrong with the ignition circuit... because why not? So we made an appointment for Monday, and hopefully it gets done in one day because it's our only vehicle. Otherwise... I don't know. I'd see if I could borrow my brother's truck, but a tree fell on it in the windstorm last week... I suppose I should be grateful that our jeep only has comparatively insignificant problems.

After visiting the mechanic and getting groceries, I decided to reward the mostly-patient toddler by stopping at Barnes & Noble since we had some time to kill. He was very excited to sit on a big chair and share a scone with Mama! He also had too much fun squishing blueberries between his fingers, which meant there were funny purple splotches on his hands that required explaining when...

...we got to the doctor's office. Another day, another fever... that's not how it's supposed to go, is it? Little Bear spiked a fever yesterday and his ears were red, and since we just got over an ear infection, the nurse recommended that I bring him in. He still had a fever, a higher one, this morning so in we went. Fortunately it's not another ear infection; he doesn't have any other cold symptoms, but the doctor thinks it's just a run of the mill viral infection. If he still has a high fever like this on Monday, though, I'm supposed to bring him in for some bloodwork. Oh joy. And I won't have the jeep on Monday, so this little boy needs to get better quick!

Toward the end of the appointment, while there was a tongue depressor in Little Bear's mouth and he was trying to get rid of it by sheer force of volume, a white light started flashing. When he quieted down enough, we realized that the fire alarm was going off. Now, it's nearly 50 degrees warmer today than it was yesterday, but 10 F is still nowhere near warm enough to carry the kid outside in only a diaper. I had to quickly, quickly stuff the still-screaming toddler into clothes and carry him down three flights of stairs and out of the building, where he gaped--silent!--as the fire trucks pulled in. We sat in the front seat of the car so that he could watch the flashing lights, and he was so happy.

Thanks to the trauma of the doctor visit, he fell asleep in the car on the way home, so I was able to leave the heat going and run a load of groceries in before carrying him into the apartment. Anything that could safely be left outside will come in after we pick Matt up this evening; I only grabbed things that really shouldn't freeze, like produce and dairy. Unloading groceries with a toddler without a garage in the winter is so very not fun... I'm so grateful that he slept and let me take care of the important ones! An attached garage is definitely one of my few "musts" whenever we wind up buying a house.

I came around the corner yesterday and surprised Little Bear poking at the screen of my phone. It was still locked, so I didn't think anything of it; just set it higher out of reach and distracted him by building a blanket fort and playing polar bears. When I went to take a photo today, the little camera roll thumbnail of my most recent photo didn't look familiar... It turns out that Little Bear took twenty-eight self portraits and photos of the ceiling yesterday!

And... I have nothing. One more weekend before Thanksgiving? I'm so glad that Matt gets a four day weekend; we are both looking forward to it so much. 

Have a great weekend! Don't forget to visit ConversionDiary.com for more Quick Takes.

21 November 2013

Kitchen Science

Since it is freakishly cold outside-- -35 F first thing this morning --Little Bear and I have not ventured out of the house at all since late Sunday morning. It's fortunate that he's still a little toddler, and an only toddler, or I'm sure we'd be even more stir-crazy than we are! After reading every storybook in the house this morning, some of them twice, I brought him into the kitchen and let him sit on the counter while I made bread.

He promptly set to discovering centrifugal force, spinning the spice rack quickly enough that the little jars started to come flying out of it. I thought they were at an angle precisely so that couldn't happen?

So I rescued the oregano from the bowl of batter, and contemplated which spices did belong with butternut squash to make it taste like pumpkin bread. Probably just a little more than usual of the ones I would put with pumpkin, right? I hope so. We haven't tried it yet, and my menfolk are starting to tire of the "surprise, it's squash!" routine. I have a bunch to use up, though, so...

Double the baking powder, because it's getting old... Check for spice jars before starting the mixer... How many times do you grate a nutmeg to get a teaspoon? In my kitchen, baking is kind of like doing chemistry, but with more uncertainty and fewer explosions.

We have been doing a lot of it recently (baking, not exploding things, although that might help too) in an effort to warm up the apartment. Our oven doesn't hold heat very well, which is frustrating in that everything takes longer to bake, but when it is this cold it certainly makes the kitchen the most welcoming room in the house! It's probably the most effective way I have to keep our kitchen pipes from freezing, too: our kitchen and living room are over an unheated, poorly insulated crawlspace, and if our floor is this cold, I can only imagine how cold the pipes down in the crawlspace are getting. Our landlords suggest leaving the cabinet doors under the sink open to let warm air circulate when it is this cold, but I don't want Little Bear getting into the trash can and cleaning supplies... Hopefully, heating up the oven regularly will be enough to keep the pipes warm.

The bread did turn out well, so if you're looking for a new way to use squash, give it a try!

Butternut Squash Bread

1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine, then add:

2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup butternut squash, mashed 

Mix well. Bake at 350 F for at least an hour; mine took an hour and twenty-five minutes before it tested done, but our oven doesn't hold heat well.

19 November 2013

Not the Break I Was Looking For

It's been almost a year, so I suppose I don't have all that much right to be surprised. I haven't made it a full twelve months without breaking or dislocating something since my freshman year of college. Eventually, my household sisters' response to seeing me in some kind of brace switched from "Oh no!" to "Now what?"

So, now what? I've broken another toe. The toe right next to the one I broke last February, actually. About a week and a half ago, Little Bear was helping me make supper when he decided to push something heavy off the edge of the counter -- and down onto my toes. Ouch. 

It's been sore and discolored, and I've been doing my best to convince myself that I just bruised it; ignore the problem and it'll go away, right? It hasn't improved at all, though, and it has the same unique bruise pattern--a solid, dark line-- that the last broken toe sported, so I have to admit that it's probably more than just bruised and should maybe be buddy-taped for a while. At the very least, I'll stay in flat boots and shoes for a couple of weeks. Heels shouldn't be much of a temptation for a bit anyway; we are supposed to get down to -20 tomorrow.

Fortunately it's a toe, and not something that actually deserves a trip to the doctor! Also fortunately, Little Bear isn't constantly trying to bite my toes this time around like he was last time this happened.

17 November 2013

What I Wore Sunday {36}

Back on the WIWS bandwagon with Fine Linen and Purple after last weekend's plague.

This weekend has felt all jumbled. Yesterday we were going in all directions at once, running to a bazaar, the sporting goods store, the grocery store, back to the sporting goods store (they finally have ammo back in stock; it's been nearly a year since they had more than an endcap which would be sold out the day after the shipment arrived). We were really only home barely long enough to give Little Bear a nap before getting dressed up nicely and running out the door for confession and Mass. Confession at one parish, Mass at another, a stop at the ice cream shop on the way home in defiance of the nearly-negative temperature... 

Little Bear eats the oddest things for a toddler: the other day it was a sundried tomato basil bagel, yesterday he was eating my lemon-cheesecake ice cream so eagerly I could hardly get a bite myself... and it was very lemony.

Anyway. We woke up leisurely this morning, and Matt read Little Bear stories while I got dolled up because we had unusual plans: Little Bear got to go play with his aunts and uncle while we went out to brunch! Roads are still snowy and icy, and we wound up creeping along at 5 mph behind some graders for part of the drive, but it was a beautiful, sunny day for admiring the snowy woods so that wasn't too bad. Even if it was -7 F.

Because it was so cold, I wound up wearing pants instead of a skirt this morning (we forgot to get a photo of what I wore to Mass last night, so instead I have a photo of what I wore this morning):

Coral blazer: Forever 21, thrifted
Grey cable knit short-sleeved sweater: Merona, thrifted
Khakis: American Eagle, thrifted
Fancy hairdo: a very enthusiastic child when we picked him up from Grandma's

Worn with my scruffy boots, because my feet were cold, so... that definitely dressed me down even more. There's no such thing as "dress code" here, though; even though we were at one of the nicest restaurants in town, more people were in jeans or carharts than anything else. There are times when it would be nice--would feel special, I guess--to go to a restaurant and have everyone there be dressed up. Most of the time, though, I really appreciate the laid-back attitude of this town: no one will look at you funny no matter what you're wearing.

15 November 2013

SQTF 56: So Much Crazy

Stop by Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

The last two days were a crazy whirl of ice storm, blizzard, and power outages, none of which are at all typical for our winters. Snow, and only snow falls straight downward, and is so light and fluffy it can pile five inches thick on a power line before gravity takes hold of it... That's what a snowstorm usually means. The past few days, though, have been filled with wildly-flying slush. Yuck. It's been nice and warm--in the upper 30s and 40s--and I haven't even set foot outside because the storming is so nasty. Power went out twice yesterday and once this morning, but was fortunately only out for an hour or shorter each time. I wasn't sure how I was going to feed Matt and Little Bear supper last night if the power didn't come back on!

We all came down with a cold more than a week ago, Little Bear, then Matt, then me. Little Bear is getting close to being over it, I hope? He's still sniffly, but we haven't had an hour of coughing in the middle of the night since Sunday or Monday. He developed an ear infection on top of it and the pediatrician gave us amoxicillin, which it turns out he loves the taste of... it's certainly no struggle to get him to take it! She warned us that it could cause diarrhea, but no one said anything about it dying the mess orange-red; that was a shock. I guess I'm supposed to be intelligent enough to figure out that he's ingesting pink dye twice a day... But really, why do that to a mom who's probably sleep-deprived given that she has a sick kid?

The word of the week is "Ding!" Every time anything in the apartment makes a chiming, ringing, buzzing, etc sound (dishwasher, dryer, microwave, phone...) Little Bear looks up from whatever he's doing, turns back and forth until he figures out what it was, then runs over to the device shouting "Ding! Ding!" I think this is the first onomatopoeia he's learned on his own? He knows animal sounds, but that's from Matt and I reading him books... And we also taught him the "vroom" for trucks, "boom" for things falling, etc. It's exciting to hear him picking things up for himself.

Since, goodness, as long as he's been able to sit up, Little Bear has liked to sit on the bathroom counter while we brush our teeth. (Yes, we keep a hand on him, or at least stand right behind him now that he's bigger.) For a while now he's known how to work the faucet, and will happily turn it on and off, on and off. I'm grateful that he finally seems to have gotten tired of sticking his socks in it. But so this morning, as I set him on the counter while I got his amoxicillin ready, it didn't register that he was holding his stuffed polar bear. Until the water was running and the bear was in the sink, filling the sink basin, taking a bath and splashing water everywhere. Oh child.

For some reason, Dave Ramsey has been all over my feed reader this week. I know a lot of people have been helped to get out of debt by his techniques, and I'm sure his money management methods work for many people. His 'credit cards are evil' philosophy irks me, though, severely. Ramsey says, on his website: "Responsible credit card use does not exist. There is no positive side to credit card use." I'm sorry, but that's just not true, and it really seems to deny the existence of free will. Now I do understand that he is talking to people who are largely trying to get out of debt, and so he is taking an approach similar to AA: vilifying the object of the addiction/problem. I remember a conversation with my sister after she attended some AA meetings for a nursing class, where she was struggling to understand how good adults she respected could ever have even one drink if alcohol was such an evil thing. Alcohol is like credit cards: inanimate matter, which people can use well or poorly. The "vilify the object" approach may work, may even be good, in helping addicts overcome a problem, but just because some people are incapable (for whatever reason) of using an object rightly, that does not mean that everyone is incapable of doing so.

Obviously, we have a credit card. We also follow a pretty strict budget, eat "mystery surprise casserole" at the end of the month if another shopping trip would put us over budget, and pay our balance in full every month. We certainly could use cash for all of our purchases the way Ramsey recommends, but we don't, for two reasons. First, contrary to Ramsey's claim that "when you pay cash, you can 'feel' the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards," both Matt and I find that spending cash thoughtlessly or frivolously is much, much easier than doing so with plastic, because with the card, we can see the numbers in our budgeting software. Cash purchases simply "don't exist" in our minds; once the cash is withdrawn from the bank, it's out of the system and not accountable-for. And secondly, we live in Alaska. Traveling anywhere out-of-state is obscenely expensive, and flights all the way out East to see his family run easily $1200 per person. Spending an entire month's pay on a trip, even as important a trip as visiting family, sure doesn't sound like good financial stewardship to me! By using the Alaska Airlines Visa card, though, and using it for pretty much everything, we are able to earn free tickets. As long as we pay in full each month, and we do, we believe that we are indeed using our card responsibly.

Sorry for the rant... No more finances for a good long time, promise! It's just been eating at me for a while. I should probably follow the kid's example and go to sleep... Have a lovely weekend! We are hoping (okay, maybe not Matt) to hit at least one of the Christmas bazaars around town tomorrow and finish up Christmas shopping so that I can get out-of-state gifts sent out in the next week or two; all of the mail in and out of Alaska bottlenecks through one post office in Anchorage, and it's generally accepted that anything shipped out of Alaska after December 2 won't get where it's headed until after Christmas. (So I'm not just being absurdly organized, it's actually important.)

12 November 2013

Finding Order

What with the bedroom ceiling leaking, the car suddenly needing to go in to the shop, the cold/ear infection/stomach plague descending on our house and other fun happenings, I'd been in something of a snit the past couple of days. Why does it all have to happen at once? And why isn't there anything I can do to make any of it go away?  My eternally-patient husband, bless him, has had a grumpy wife.

Fortunately for all of us, I talked with a friend yesterday afternoon who remarked on her own grumpiness recently, recognizing that it wasn't a productive attitude and she should do something about it. I was ashamed to realize that she has so much more a reason to be unhappy than I do--all of my current problems are going away, largely without all that much effort on my part, even if it's not happening according to my ideal snap-my-fingers-poof timeline--and yet she was responding much more gracefully than I.

But thankfully, there's such a thing as grace. And second, twenty-second, and seven-hundred-forty-second chances. After that conversation and a good nap, Little Bear and I were able to greet Matt after work yesterday with a mostly-tidy house. The plumber came and fixed the leaky pipe. The mechanic couldn't duplicate the problem in the car, declared it a computer glitch, and didn't charge us anything. And dinner turned out particularly awfully, but we were able to laugh at ourselves for not having learned our lesson the last time we put pumpkin and pasta together.

It sounds so easy to just "ask for grace when you need it," but it's not. Is that due more to pride, wanting to do it all myself, or is it just hard for my frazzled, exhausted brain to form coherent thoughts beyond the concrete tasks and problems in front of me? Probably a bit of both. But Little Bear had an excellent night last night--I don't recall him waking up even once--so we both came into today better prepared to make it a good one. 

Snow drifting silently past the window ever since we woke up has given the day a peaceful tone, at least for those of us who don't have to leave the house; they are calling for freezing rain tonight, but hopefully that won't start before Matt is safely home. The well-rested child, still nursing a cold but acting much less sick, was happy to play and participate in chores all morning. We dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, built and knocked down towers, washed a load of towels, read book after book after book... After inhaling half of my lunch, the boy was happy to go down for a nap. 

Watching him sleep, looking around the mostly-tidy apartment, mentally walking through dinner plans, I feel more at peace than I have for a while. Everything is falling back into place; life is becoming orderly again. More than anything, I think my earlier grumpiness can be attributed to the loss of order: schedules were thrown off by the illness, budgets were threatened by unexpected repairs, the usual flow of life was turned all inside out and order was supplanted by uncertainty.

Maybe that uncertainty was a chance to develop a deeper trust in God instead of trying to find our own path in the chaos. If so, I kind of missed it, didn't I? At least I got it right by the end. And since God is Order, the fulfillment and perfection of order, I guess I was seeking Him even when I didn't realize it. 

Baby steps.

10 November 2013

Day of Rest

At quarter to 11 last night, our poor teething toddler with both an ear infection and a cold finally stopped coughing and fell asleep. As I lay there, staring up at the ceiling and trying to fall asleep myself, I noticed a dark spot just off my side of the bed. 

No. Please no. No no no no no, the ceiling was NOT leaking again. 

I lay there for five minutes, trying to convince myself that it was an old water spot and I always saw it there every night. Finally I gave in, and carefully, carefully, not waking the barely-sleeping child next to me, knelt on the edge of the bed and reached up to touch the spot. Wet.

I poked Matt. Should I call the landlady? It's 11 o'clock at night. But there's water seeping through the ceiling. But the child needs this sleep so badly. But water. But it's not really over any furniture... I squinted at it a moment longer. No, it might overlap the edge of the bed if it spreads any further. Will you help me move the solid wood bedframe in the dark without waking the toddler sleeping on it?

Ladies and gentlemen, my husband is amazing. The bed was moved soundlessly; the toddler did not stir. Matt went back to sleep while I broke the news to our landlords, reassured them that we would be happy to just stick something under it until morning, and layered the side of the bed and the floor with towels.


Can we please have another weekend to recover from this weekend? It's just been one thing after another since Matt left work early Friday afternoon to bring me the car so that I could take Little Bear to the doctor and get a prescription for his ear infection. Matt and I have both come down with Little Bear's cold; the doctor gave us amoxicillin, which I'm allergic to, so Matt has to help every time Little Bear needs it; he spent the 3 am hour last night coughing and crying; we woke up to a foot of heavy wet snow outside, and apparently not even the freeways had been plowed when my parents drove to 7:30 Mass this morning. 

Sick toddler coughing all over the place, sick sleep-deprived parents, snowed-in culdesac; we didn't make it to Mass this morning. We are both pretty sure that we are still in the contagious stage of this bug, and Little Bear isn't up for leaving the house--he threw up from coughing so hard last night, and again today. And with the reports of scattered freezing rain throughout the valley, on top of this huge snow dump... staying indoors, away from other people, seemed like the most prudent choice. It's disappointing, but we read the Mass readings and added some extra prayers to our usual ones. 

Our landlord came down midmorning, and he and Matt poked around in the ceiling and discovered that an elbow in the pipe draining from their bathtub had split open along its seam (no idea if that explanation makes sense; I know nothing about plumbing). Since it's stopped actively dripping, they decided to wait until tomorrow to call out a plumber... I understand wanting to avoid weekend emergency charges, but the room smells so musty and icky with the tile left open overnight. It doesn't seem to bother Matt or Little Bear; I guess my nose just isn't stuffy enough.

Thanks to the latest throwing-up episode, which took place ten minutes after he finally went down for a nap, a) we are aaaaaall out of laundry soap, and b) he thinks he took a nap and is all done sleeping until bedtime. I'm so grateful that Matt is here to take turns reading stories over and over to the child.

We all need sleep so badly... is it bad that I'm half hoping that Matt is still sick and unable to go in to work tomorrow?

08 November 2013

SQTF 55: Winter and All That Comes With It

Linking up as usual with Jen and all!

The snow is still here, predictably. I won't keep saying that every week from now through May, I promise. Okay, I'll probably start complaining about it in April again. But this week, there was always a chance... a super faint chance... that a warm front would move in and melt away this first real snowfall. No dice, though; we are stuck with it. The city didn't even bother to send out the snowplows, because it's already November and everyone with sense had their snow tires on a month ago, and it's really a given that we have a layer of hardpack on the roads by this point. Thankful for a 4WD vehicle! I wouldn't feel safe, or like a responsible driver/parent/etc, in anything less in our winters.

The first cold of winter synchronized perfectly with the arrival of the snow: poor Little Bear hasn't been able to go out and play in it again since the first day it fell because he's been cooped up inside with a nasty head cold. He's doing his level best to share it with both parents, but we haven't quite succumbed yet... We shall see. I feel so badly for the poor child; he isn't old enough to have any idea why his nose is doing this to him--he just knows that he's miserable.

Oddly enough, having a sick little boy sleeping between us has translated to the best sleep any of us have gotten in months. Maybe he just doesn't have the energy to flail around like he usually does? Whatever the reason, it's been marvelous, even if he is snoring louder than his father.

This morning it was only 0 F when I woke up--brrr! It's still better than yesterday, though, which had only warmed up to 2 F by 5 pm. We were sorry to finally put away the fall jackets and hang the bigger leather and wool coats by the door. Time to switch to heavy gloves, start thinking about wearing hats, stock the back of the car with emergency winter gear. Little Bear has been none too happy about wearing winter boots in the car! Every time we have driven somewhere this week, he has complained about them.

Yesterday evening, Little Bear and I bundled up and drove across town to pick up a new plug end for our car timer. With the temperature falling below 0 at night, it's time to start plugging in the engine block heater, oil pan heater, etc. so that the vehicle will start in the mornings. (Yesterday morning, Matt tried to take his department's van to fix an offsite problem and it refused to start.) To avoid leaving our car plugged in and drawing current all night long, we plug the extension cord into a timer, which is plugged into the wall. 

Our first winter, we bought a plastic timer because that was all they sold anywhere in town. The first time it hit -50, the plastic shattered. We just plugged it in to the wall all night for the rest of the winter . Our second winter, we looked everywhere for an old-fashioned metal timer, and eventually learned that no one even makes them anymore. Not wanting to wake up to a frozen engine block again, we decided to skip buying another plastic timer and plug in to the wall all winter. The electric bills were awful. This past summer, we found an old metal timer at a garage sale. The ground was broken off, so it needed a new plug, but the $20 total investment should be quickly made up for in savings on our electric bill!

Our light is fading quickly, along with our warmth; when I got into the car at 4 pm yesterday, the sunset was a narrow orange band across the horizon and the moon was very visible above it. Soon enough, we will be able to see the moon 24 hours a day. Having snow down helps tremendously, though: the white layer everywhere catches and reflects the light we do get, making this past week seem substantially brighter than the previous week, at least during the middle of the day.

05 November 2013

Snow Day

Snow back in mid-September was unacceptable, but on November 5, it is beautiful and much looked-for. I cannot recall a year that winter has waited so late to settle in. The whiteness is finally here, though; here until April or May, most likely. Snow has been falling since we woke up this morning, making Matt's commute exciting, I'm sure. Little Bear noticed it as soon as we walked into the living room, and ran over to the window, pointing. 

"Snow is falling, see?" I told him. "O! Boom!" he answered. Falling, boom... it made me laugh that he made that connection, although the tiny flakes aren't exactly going "boom." 

It looks like November outside. For such small flakes, it's piling up surprisingly quickly: Only a few tufts of grass poke up through the white blanketing the yard; each fence post wears a small white cap. There is a good inch of fluffy, feather-light powder along the deck railing, and Little Bear's nap was (unnecessarily, in my opinion) cut short by a perhaps over-eager landlord snowblowing the walk.

I've been away from Lower 48 autumns for too many years now; is it really so odd to be pleased by snow taking up a semi-permanent residence in my yard in early November? It's hard for me to even imagine not having snow on the ground for the next five months, at least. Matt sent me a photo he saw online yesterday of the Pennsylvanian Appalachians right about now, but as he mourned the fact that we didn't have Novembers like that, I looked at it in some confusion. Why are there still leaves on the trees? Those poor people--without snow, how can they enjoy the coziness of the Thanksgiving-Advent-Christmas season we are so quickly approaching?

After the mail was delivered, Little Bear and I bundled up and ran out to play in the snow on our way to the mailbox. He is walking so much better now than he was when we got that ridiculously early snow in September; then he didn't even try to move when I carried him outside in his snow gear, but today he was running around in his snow boots, laughing and trying to grab hold of the snow.

03 November 2013

What I Wore Sunday {35}

Little Bear is still trying to cut the incisors he's been working on for two weeks, y'all. I'm tired. So hopefully my total lack of brain this morning can be excused... 

I woke up to Little Bear fussing and looking for food, but that made sense because the clock said 8:00. That's really weird, I thought. Were we all so tired that my alarm didn't wake any of us? It was already too late for us to make it to North Pole in any semblance of calm and orderliness, though, so I shrugged and laid back down to let the child nurse. I guess we're going to Mass on campus again. A half hour later, my alarm went off. We were supposed to change the clocks last night! Thank heaven for cell phones that update automatically.

In my defense, last night was not a normal evening. Matt was out watching a movie with a coworker until 9, and Little Bear--who was nearly asleep--perked right up and dove off the bed to go find Daddy as soon as the front door opened. He enthusiastically ran around in circles with his stuffed bear while Matt got ready for bed and told me about his evening, and it took quite a while to get him back down! 

Because it'd been a late night, and we were both tired, and Little Bear seemed inclined to continue his pattern of nursing for ten minutes, sleeping for fifteen, repeat, Matt and I decided to take advantage of the time change and wake up slowly, going to the later Mass on campus after all. 

The university parish doesn't have a church building; they have a small crypt chapel in their Catholic Student Association building (an old house that served as administrative housing fifty years ago), but it only holds 20 or so people, so for years they've held Sunday Mass in a large auditorium. And walking in, there's no escaping the fact that you're in an auditorium; even set up for Mass, it's hard to see it as church. This fall, a brand-new building was completed for the biology department, and the parish was offered use of the gorgeous new auditorium. Today was the first Sunday in the new space, and wow. The seats are at a much less steep angle, there are no stairs, there is room for communicants to not have to walk behind the altar after receiving... It's so much nicer! The auditorium is also set up for video conferencing, and Father is hopeful that they will be able to live stream the Mass out to the remote villages that don't see a priest for a month or longer at a time. Matt works in the university's video conferencing department, so all the way home he was talking through ways they could make that work; ministry to the villages is so badly needed, I really hope they are able to make it happen!

Blue sweater: hand-me-down
Brown eyelet skirt: thrifted
Chocolate pumps: garage sale

The little bear is sporting a blue striped turtleneck from his Grandmom and a pair of hand-me-down brown fleece overalls. I didn't intend for us to match, but it's always fun when that happens. Even Matt fit the color scheme this week, with dark khakis and a tan-brown-blue argyle sweater!

Join us over at Fine Linen and Purple for more!

01 November 2013

7QTF 54: All Saints Day

Happy Solemnity of All Saints! Joining the party at Conversion Diary.

We are officially slacking at our parental role of photographing every aspect of our firstborn's life to pieces. Yesterday was Halloween, and we dressed him up and ran all over the place--played with friends at the ice rink, had supper with my family, visited our landlords--and we did not take a single photo of our little construction worker.

We're really just fortunate that he had a costume at all, because somehow Halloween snuck up on me this year. He received a bright orange vest as a gift a few weeks ago, and several days later I was walking through Michaels and stumbled upon a bright yellow foam hard hat. Voila, Bob the Builder! Matt outgrew dressing up at least a decade ago; I still enjoy it, and am convinced that having a little one makes that acceptable, but this year I didn't come up with anything. Maybe next year, when he's old enough to trick-or-treat.

Fortunately for my didn't-plan-well self, Little Bear's construction costume transitioned easily to a saint costume for today: take normally dressed child with vest and hard hat, discard vest, add head lamp to hat. St Parin, patron of tin miners. Parin wasn't technically a miner himself, but he did legendarily discover veins of tin in the bedrock of Cornwall, so I thought the miner getup was okay.

It was a good bet that there would be other adults in saintly attire at the homeschoolers' All Saints party after Mass today, but I didn't really have the time or inclination to put a lot of effort into a costume (plus I wanted to look normal for Mass), so I spent spare moments this morning browsing Wikipedia articles on 20th century female saints. Gianna Molla is the obvious choice, but it was too obvious--plus, my sister did a much better job than I ever could last night, wearing scrubs and a lab coat. I'm glad I kept reading, because I came across a married couple I'd never heard of before: Blessed Luigi Quattrocchi and Blessed Maria Corsini. 

The Quattrocchis were the first married couple ever to be beatified together! They had four kids, and lived in Italy in the late 1800s to mid-1900s. When they were beatified, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints described them as truly living the domestic church, being open to life, to solidarity with the poor, to reaching out to others through friendship... I'm paraphrasing badly here. But they sound like great role models for married couples, and I definitely need to go read more about them. For today, I didn't exactly have a closet full of turn-of-the-(last)-century Italian high fashion (Maria was Florentine nobility), so I just went with a sweater and conservative skirt in a cut hopefully reminiscent of the latter years of Marie's life.

Matt usually doesn't get lunch until after 1pm, and has had to work late all week, so we weren't sure how he was going to make it to Mass for the holy day. I know, the Church doesn't oblige us to do what's impossible, but it's still important to make our best effort! One of his coworkers was willing to switch lunches with him today, so Little Bear and I met him for the noon Mass at the chapel on campus. I'm glad we were able to go together! Little Bear behaved very well, much better than he would have if I was trying to wrangle him on my own.

I had a lovely dinner planned for tonight to celebrate the solemnity, but just now, I'm starting to wonder if we won't just be celebrating with a frozen pizza. World's greatest housewife I'm not. Since it's finally (finally!!!) November, I rounded up all of our groceries this morning before Mass... except for diapers. Little Bear is consistently...overfilling...his diapers at night, but he's too small for the next size up. I've been having to wake him up in the middle of the night each night to change him in order to avoid wet sheets. My sister-in-law suggested I look for overnight diapers, and I've been counting days until the new budget-month so I could get them! So this morning I went to pick some up, and they were out. I popped into the store across the street, and they were out too. After the All Saints party at my parents' parish I hauled the sleepy little man over to Walmart... and they were out too! Little Bear refused to go back in his car seat without eating, and fell asleep nursing. First real nap of the day at 3pm? I couldn't bring myself to wake him by sticking him in the car seat. I have to pick Matt up from work across town in about a half hour; what are the chances Little Bear will wake up in time for us to try another store on our way to the university?

Have a blessed All Souls Day tomorrow! I always forget, so remember: even if attending Mass isn't an option (there won't even be any Masses celebrated for All Souls here that I know of), stopping in to a church on All Souls Day and praying for the souls in purgatory can merit an indulgence for them! Little Bear probably won't be quiet long, but if I can find an unlocked church in town I'm hoping to stop in briefly.