Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 21

Linking up with Jenny (who's filling in for the lovely Hallie this week).

1. Home Sweet Home -- We're not in Kansas anymore!! We did the drive -- we've turned into quite the road warriors! -- and made it home at the perfect time to drive into the Valley watching a gorgeous Arizona sunset. It is so good to be home, and to know that we get to stay here for awhile. We appreciate home (and all that comes with it) so much and are really hoping to not take it for granted for a long, long time.


2. Naps -- Everyone knows that afternoon naps are what allow mom-blogging to happen (for lots of us at least). I had something brilliant to add here, but I don't remember what it was and want to hit publish before the blessed sleep window ends.

3. Munchkin Movement -- In the last week, Lil Bean's movement has gone from the occasion "maybe?" to daily kicks and squirms, especially when I'm relaxed (read: early in the morning and after Clare goes to bed). We even had a little punching match yesterday morning. Bliss.

4. Frozen cookie dough -- Cookies are one thing that I never, ever, ever buy. I love to bake them (and then eat the fruits of my labor). I can't wait until Clare (and sibling) can participate in the cookie-making antics. As an added bonus, I never have to worry about eggs in food I bake myself. Anyway, since no one needs as many cookies as most recipes make, I usually freeze some portion of the dough, unless I have a victim friend who needs a little cookie in their lives. I write the directions right on the freezer bag, defrost in the fridge and bake! Voila!!

5. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies -- I use this recipe from All Recipes several times per fall. I love that it is already egg-free so I don't have to use a substitute. I am partial to mini-chips, but you could certainly use regular or even chunks if you prefer. There is still a month of pumpkin decadence (Thanksgiving -- hello!!) to enjoy an easy-peasy pumpkin treat! I divided the dough into 1/4ths and froze 3 bags, baking the rest right away. One bag made a dozen cookies this afternoon. Perfecto.

Have a great one!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pack 'em Up and Move 'em Out

It is packing week!

That brings good news and bad news.

The good news is that sometime in the late hours of Saturday, we'll be home! In Phoenix! And we'll stay there (well, minus a ton of interview travel -- mostly Charles -- and normal things like visiting family for a long weekend or whatever) until after Charles' graduation in June! Our own beds, kitchens, closets (I'm seriously itching to do a big, fat purge).

That bad news is that this week is going to be insane. Repacking all of our stuff (for the last time!). Cleaning. Cleaning. More cleaning.

On top of it, Charles has an interview with the program here on Thursday, plus a pre-interview dinner Wednesday night. That, of course, brings with it interview stress and nerves and thinking such pleasant thoughts as, "What is my biggest failure? How did I learn from it?"

Then we get to drive umpteen million miles home. Avec baby and pregnant lady. Always fun.  To get to a place with decidedly higher temperatures. Boo!

All of which means, I probably won't touch the blog again until next Monday.  But don't worry. I'll be back. (Pretend I said that Arnold-style.)

One cute baby for the road.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 40

Linking up with Jen. And her flock of lovely, loyal Quick Takers.

1. I cut my thumb making dinner Wednesday night. It wasn't bad or deep or anything. But it is tender, and it is on the very top of my right thumb. The top of your right (or dominant) thumb is one of those corners of your body that you don't really realize how often you use until it's sore and covered in a band-aid. Fun.

2. Clare has two obsessions of the week. Both thanks to Fisher Price's Little People. The first is Let's Go to the Zoo. The second is Noah from Noah's Ark. She like the animals and all, but Noah seems like he has gone everywhere with us for the last 2 days. And the book -- well, it's a parent's worst nightmare when it comes to reading, but read it we do. It goes a little something like this:

Clare toddles over and shoves book in my face. Okay, we can read the Zoo book! We read one page (2 sentences) and start lifting the flaps and talking about the animals. She decides to stare obsessively at the snakes. We talk about the snakes saying "hiss" and I zone out for a second, because I've been talking about animal sounds for 5 minutes and can only say "hiss" so many times. I'm smacked out of it by the book being shoved back into my face. Oops! Yes, look at the monkeys! What do the monkeys say?

All day. Every day. At least it feels like it.


3. I'm delightfully entering the era of "only Mom can tell what Junior is saying." The other night, I was trying to convince Charles that there is, in fact, a difference between "Noah" and "giraffe" or "Nooooowuh" "guuuuwuh," as the case may be.

Snacks with Noooowah

4. Um, one week left in Wichita? How can that be?!? It's been a good 3 weeks. Maybe I'll have more reflections this time next week.

5. 16-weeks!! How can that be?!? I was terribly inconsistent about taking bump pics with Clare. I can't imagine I'll be any better this time around, but I'm currently convinced I'm going to look about the same for another 10 weeks (Ha!) while by baby catches up with the bloat, so I'm giving it a shot.

Bathroom shot, editing fail, and middle finger. The trifecta. And 15w6d, but close enough.

6. 16 weeks means baby is the size of an avocado. Maybe. Depending on who you ask. I enjoy the fruit/veggie comparisons while the baby is tiny and I find myself in awe at God's handiwork. You know, "Ohemgee! There is a really, little tiny person in there!!" Then, sometime around week 20, the comparisons get weird and/or confusing. Meanwhile, baby starts transforming from miracle to ninja. Which is a better game, Little One? Kick Mama in the Ribs or Use her Bladder as a Trampoline? At least that was my experience with Clare; we'll see what the coming months mean for the Bean. My guess is more of the same. :)

7. This happened. I wasn't planning on it, so I didn't have a comb. But my Mom-heart is happy.


Uh oh! is right!!

Have a lovely Friday!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hail Mary

Hail, Mary, full of grace . . . 

It is a habit that I formed when I taught a troubled and troubling group of eighth graders. When I was about to lose it, I didn't count to 10. I said a Hail Mary. Time-wise, it's similar to counting to 20, but it did more than calm me, settle my nerves; it reminded me that God is bigger than all of us. It gave me a moment to turn to Him, and seek the intercession of His mother.

The Lord is with thee . . .

There is a painting I first encountered in a college art appreciation class called "Madonna del Prato" or "Madonna of the Meadow," by Raphael, that depicts the Virgin Mary in a meadow surrounded by frolicking, sweet toddler Jesus and John the Baptist. I have often pondered that scene, but find my mind returning to it more and more as I embark on this new challenge of parenting a toddler. What was that (hypothetical and anachronistically depicted) moment like? Were these boys humanly toddler? Or were they, (by divine birth for one, and God's grace for the other) obedient?

Blessed art thou amongst women . . .

I'm sure every Catholic mother, and many a Christian one of other persuasions, has had this thought in one form or another: Mary, did Jesus, in his humanity, ever throw His peas all over the floor? Did you sigh? Again?!? Or did you merely ponder this in your heart, too?

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus . . .

I find myself turning back to the Hail Mary as my "10 count" in these days of toddler parenting. Perhaps not as often or as quickly as I need to, but I'm learning to be patient with my strong-willed girl. I have a long way to go.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners . . . 

A few days ago, Clare was having an extreme anti-diaper change day. She was generally having a clingy, needing Mama kind of day, but diapers were particularly challenging. *Twist.* I'm doing this because I love you. *Squirm.* Believe me. *Kick. Kick. Kick.* Please. *Scream.*

In desperation, I began to pray.

I was given a moment of grace, and a reminder that what my girl needed was Mama's love. I leaned over and held her in a hug, and Clare calmed immediately. I found myself looking at my girl, at a face I've gazed upon countless thousands of times, from a funny angle. It was a perspective I had never had. And for a passing moment, I saw it. I saw the same, tiny profile captured in a sonogram so many months ago.

I saw her, in that moment, not an angry, frustrated toddler or a sweet little baby or a precocious girl in the making. I saw all of her. I saw her how God must see her. I saw an innocent child of God. I saw love.

Now, and at the hour of our death.

"Hail Mary, full of grace . . ." So often, I find myself distracted. "Mother Mary, help me to be full of grace, full of patience, to survive this moment." I find myself relying on grace and patience I don't have to get through. That's not to say I don't have my moments of frustration, anger, impatience, intolerance (shall I go on?), but that with God's grace, there are fewer of them. That, in God, there is infinite grace to live the vocation to motherhood that He has called me to. I just have to ask.


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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 20

Linking up for 5 Favorites with the lovely Hallie.

1. Fall. Yeah, I know that loving fall has become totally cliche. Yes, I have discussed fall at length myself. Buuuuuut, people, I haven't had a good, old-fashioned, real fall (vs. we call it "fall" because the weather dips below 100, and maybe even 90) in a lot of years, and it feels good. So good. Plus, boots. I broke 'em out. Yes, maybe it made me look like a Patton (if you discount the brown locks and lack of Hunters, bien sur), because no one else thinks it's particularly cool. But I'm a happity, happy camper.

Baby in autumn, with stick.

2. Babies -- Maybe I've said it a million times, but I don't care. I love 'em. And with so many on the way in my real life and BlogLand, I'm in swoony baby land.

Yes, they turn into toddlers. Don't rain on my parade. Via

3. Lovely Loss Tributes -- It isn't a favorite that so many have experienced the pain of miscarriage, infertility, and infant loss, but it was a joy to see so many lovely tributes to those babies in Heaven yesterday. While I only have siblings in Heaven, I have no idea what the future may hold. I pray with and for all of you.


4. Quiet Mornings of Solitude -- Clare has been sleeping late (for a baby!) while we've been here, and Charles has to be at the hospital early. It leaves me with these lovely mornings of quiet that really refresh me. I've not been as productive as perhaps I should be. I use the time to drink a quiet cup of coffee and peruse the internet at leisure. Maybe tap out a blog post or email, like I'm doing now. But the time, cool and dark, is refreshing to me.


5. Coffee -- I can happily report that my taste for coffee is now fully restored. I still try to limit my caffeine intake and up my water intake (read: drink less coffee/day) during pregnancy. But beautiful, tasty, wonderful coffee is back, just in time for the holidays! Wahoo!!


Happy Wednesday!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

When the Lights Went Out

Yesterday had all the makings of an idyllic Sunday. We slept late (for parents -- after 7) and decided that, if we hurried, we could make 9am Mass. And did it with time to have our choice of seats. After Mass, we headed to breakfast. Yum!

The afternoon was quiet: nap/quiet/down time for everyone before we decided to run a couple of errands and hit the playground. Done and done.

It was the first time Clare really "got" the playground equipment. She figured out how to scramble up the toddler play structure and go down the slide (with some launching help from Daddy). She called it "whee" probably because I say it every.time. she goes down. Over and over and over, scampering by another little boy every.single.time. His dad even commented that she was "a woman on a mission," which gave me a good chuckle.

Before she figured it out herself.

I've said 1,000 times and I'll say it a million more. The best part of parenting -- for me -- is watching my child(ren) "figure it out." Every time Clare learns a new trick, masters a new skill, or surprises me with what she can do, my heart beats proudly and I smile. What a joy! What a miracle!

Finally, we dragged our tired, sandy daughter away. She had to be carried, but not without seeing a "puppy" pass by and adorably, frantically trying to find the lost puppy. "Puppy. Puppy. Puppy . . . puppy?!?"

We headed home to make tacos and have a quiet evening at home. It wasn't meant to be.

When we got home, the comedy of errors began. The garage door wouldn't work. And of course, we didn't bring the keys (stupidly, admittedly). New battery? No go. So we checked all the doors we had carefully locked. Nada. And tried the key pad for the garage. No such luck. As we were calling our "backup" in hopes that he had a key (thank God, he did!!), our neighbor stopped by to say hi and ask if our power was out, too.

Oooooooooooh! That explains everything now, doesn't it?!?

So, we drove to pick up our miracle key. Drove home to make sure it worked. Yay! Found the power was still out. Grabbed keys and disengaged the garage door. Headed out to pick up dinner, exhausted, and not wanting to mess with powerless dinner in a home that is only very temporarily ours.

Of course, the power was still out when we got home, so we fumbled around to find a flashlight, and pour all three of us into bed.

Clare was asleep pretty much before we got out of her room. I don't think either of us slept well before the power came back on at about 11, and morning came too soon, especially for Charles who had to be at the hospital at 6. But, we survived the crazy!

Our take-aways for the day:
  • Take the keys with you, dodo-brains.
  • Put a flashlight and extra batteries in my emergency car kit.
  • If we're ever staying somewhere that's not our own, especially if our hosts aren't present, we should identify the locations of things like candles, flashlights, matches, fire extinguishers, etc. before we need them.
  • Clare on the playground is about the best thing in the world.
I mean, how can you resist?

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Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 39

It's Friday, what did you expect?!? Linking up with Jen.

1. I can't believe we're basically half-way through with our time in Wichita. The time so far has flown. It has been a great experience so far, and I have high hopes for these next two weeks.

More patio cuteness.

2. As we inch further and further into fall, I return to my annual perplexed state. When did Halloween turn into such a thing? I feel like there are two Halloween camps. The first loves Halloween as much, or more, than any other holiday ev-er. Decor pins on Pinterest. Food pins. And on and on. The second eschews Halloween as evil. Huh? I feel like the only person in the world (or at least access to Target) that has a wholly moderate view of the whole thing. I enjoy it for a day. I take cute pictures of my kid dressed up. Trick or treat or whatever. Move on with my life. Done, done, and done.

3. And when did Hocus Pocus become the it movie?!? I mean, I've seen it. Once. But I missed the memo on being obsessed with it. #outoftheloop

4. On the other hand, I am a big, fat, huge, massive fan of harvest fall. I'm a gigantic Thanksgiving geek. I am totally fine with pumpkins and gourds and Pilgrims and corn stalks. Team Turkey, fo' so'.

5. Speaking of holidays, Clare is going through her obsession with Mardi Gras beads phase, which she found in the play cabinet here. I guess I'm glad that it's now and not in college. Right?!?

Hard to see in the blur, but she's holding her beads and grinning.

6. Night-shift 2/2 for the rotation. Same dealio as last week: Project Runway in real time and the second half of my sorbet. Loverly.

7. I made these cake mix cookies this afternoon. I want to be anti-boxed cake mix, but the semi-homemade-ness of the recipe walked the line between my desire to bake and my limited supplies on the road. I used chocolate cake mix and chocolate chips. Charles thought they were a fantastic cookie-brownie hybrid. I thought they would have been better with peanut butter chips. Taste is subjective, I guess. *bigwink*

A small sampling

Have a lovely weekend!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 19

Joining Hallie and the Favoriteers for five of my favorites this week. Which, again, are all about food.

1. Winter squash. I've mentioned before that I am a great devotee of the gourd family. I love summer squash, especially zucchini, but I also love, love, love winter squash. Butternut. Acorn. Spaghetti. Even trendy ol' pumpkin.


2. Soup. I love it. I always have, though my tastes have diversified over the years. Plus, it's a fantastic, easy, tasty way to add veggies to your diet. I particularly love homemade soup -- more flavor, less sodium -- though there are a few varieties I'm still working to perfect (cream of broccoli, I'm looking at you). But with fall and winter coming on, it has me thinking soup, even more than usual.


3. What is the perfect way to combine #1 and #2? Butternut squash soup, of course. Preferably made by roasting my own squash with plenty of garlic and using my own, frozen chicken broth. Add some apples and onions and seasonings. Blend. Enjoy with bread. The fresher and hotter the better. So much yum!!


4. While I'm talking obsessively about food, I must mention the Food Network. It's my favorite background noise, but I prefer the TV off or being actively watched when the baby is up, so I really enjoy and savor it when I do have a few minutes to drool/question the hosts' choices/pick up an idea or technique or two.


5. Something not food related . . . oh, who am I kidding?!? I'm pregnant and have reached my "lumberjack appetite" phase. Food is on my mind, and one odd-for-me craving lately has been baked potatoes. Loaded, if possible. Thanks.


Visit Hallie for more, less caloric, favorites. :)

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Monday, October 7, 2013

The New Unknown -- Medical Monday

Sometimes, I really wonder how this whole residency thing is going to go.

Residency has always loomed in some distant, misty future. It's a cross we took up willingly. Charles when he accepted his acceptance to med school. Me when I said, "Yes," and later, "I do," to a guy in med school. But now . . . now **** is getting real. Applications have turned into interview offers and appointments. Residency, God (and the Match) willing, is looming.

I've given up on the frustration of not knowing where we're going to end up. I pray and trust that we will be guided to the right place, even if it ends up being a blessing in disguise. I know that, as a family, together, we'll make it work wherever we land.

Now, I just wonder about the day-to-day. The survival.

There are some days when Clare's classically toddler whining, antics, and emotional outbursts leave me clock watching, waiting for the sweet relief of an extra pair of hands. Days when I wonder how I will survive the longer, less predictable hours of residency with a second little person depending on me for everything.

Oatmeal . . . everywhere

Then there are days like Thursday. Days when, somehow, I think, "I got this," in spite of a 14 month old who woke up at 4:30  and took an hour to put back down. In spite of an all-day lingering headache. In spite of said toddler's ups and downs. In spite of a looming, dreaded night shift. In spite of all the junk life throws at you. I got it.

Sweet strawberry face . . . nothing better

I want to be a strong, brave person who can do hard things (thanks LDW). I don't have delusions of being Super Mom or Super Wife or Super Residency Spouse. But I do believe I have it in me to be a strong, loving, supportive presence in the lives of my family members. I believe I can grow and be all the better for doing it. I believe I can and will survive.

I got this. (I just have to remind myself from time to time.)

{Linking up for Medical Mondays with Your Doctor's Wife, From a Doctor's Wife, and Life of the Ray Doc's Wife.}

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Friday, October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 38

Joining Jen and friends for 7QTs.

1. People love to ask how things are going in _________. The thing though, is that (aside from my whining) life is life wherever we are. What we see outside the windows may change. The rooms may change. The number of people we know in an x-mile radius may change, but we don't change. One thing that has really helped Clare is keeping her routine. Meaning we still eat breakfast and lunch and dinner. We still get dressed and ready. We still play and read. Charles goes to "work" and comes home from work. The sun goes up. The sun goes down. Another day.

2. The real first-world-problem drag about this rotation is that I've hit that awkward point in pregnancy when my normal clothes are getting too tight and my maternity stuff is still too big. Packing was a drag (most forgiving items from both wardrobes ended up in the suitcase), and my wardrobe would be much more flexible at home. Like I say, total first-world-problem.

3. I swore way back when that on night that Charles can't be home for dinner I would at least occasionally indulge and make a real dinner that he wouldn't eat anyway. Don't get me wrong. I'm not above macaroni, hot dogs or grilled cheese. I'm sure those will be in heavy use on future night float rotations. But last night, I made a semi-homemade chicken potpie.I was inordinately proud of myself until I teeny bit of juice overflowed (and of course I didn't have a pan under the pie plate. Bad, Ash!!), and the drippings must have smoked enough to set the super sensitive (??) smoke alarm off. Thankfully, turning on the vent fixed it rapidamente, but there were a couple of highly frustrated minutes there.

Pre-baked beauty. Store bought crust. Someday, I'll master the real deal.

4. I'm excited for cool weather this weekend. I know, I know. No one cares about the weather. Especially normal fall weather. But oh my gosh!! I am so excited!!

5. Too much rambling about nothing? Photo break!!

Loving the yard!

6. Part II of surviving Night 1 of 2 (that ain't nothin'!!) of night shifts while we're here?!? Project Runway (in real time, what?!?) and mango sorbet. Yep. Wild. And. Crazy. But PR is making me think of this pretty green butterfly we see in the yard that is so beautifully camouflage with the plants. Train of thought? Time to put this post to a merciful end.

7. I'm just ready for the weeeeeeeeeeeekend. I love these glorious weekends on the road when Charles is off and we both feel able to take advantage and appreciate the time as a family fully. Contentment. Joy. Bliss.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roots and Wings

It has been said that the job of a parent is to give their child roots and wings. This is increasingly difficult, I think, in our anti-family, helicopter, disjointed, uprooted culture. Yet, somehow, it struck me that, as a parent, this is exactly my philosophy. And the only parenting philosophy that I adhere to.


I strive to give my children:

Roots: grounded deeply in the Faith. We belong to a universal Church, one where we can find a home anywhere in the world and where the prayer of the Church, the comfort of the Mass, and the strength of the Eucharist are equally true in any city, any nation, any language.

Roots: bound up in the love of family, trusting that Mama and Daddy will always be there when they are needed. Knowledge that our love is unconditional. That we are a safe haven to which our children may always return.

Roots: that come from knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what your real purpose in this life is.

Wings: to be unafraid of being who they are, and standing up for what they believe, even when it is unpopular.

Wings: with a sense of independence and adventure.

Wings: to pursue truth, beauty, life, and God, wherever they may lead. Especially God.

I hope, when I look back, I have raised children with wings to fly, and roots to lead them home. 

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