Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 73

This week, I actually kept a running list of ideas and pictures that don't warrant their own posts, but that I would like to share anyway! Joining Jen with my 7 actually quick takes.

1. On Saturday, Clare and I (well, Peter too) drove through Starbucks on the way home from running errands. They poured her milk into a hot drink cup instead of a cold drink cup, so she was excited to have her first coffee "like Mama." I might have been more excited! ;-)

2. If this face doesn't make you smile, I don't know what's wrong with you. I love this little man so much -- he is so quick to grin or laugh, he brightens my day over and over again. It's just hard to stay down when you're surrounded by that kind of joie de vivre.

3. I was talking to my sister the other day about how, even a couple of years into parenting, and a couple of months into parenting a boy, I can already see the differences between raising boys and raising girls. I thought this little collage pretty much summed it up.
Boy + Ball; Girl + Fairy Wings

4. I saw these college football rankings for the week on Monday and immediately thought that if this kind of stuff keeps up, the Territorial Cup (Arizona v. Arizona State) football game might be meaningful this year. Since we're a house divided, we're getting excited. I mean we already know who's tops in basketball (preseason #1, holla!), so a competitive football game is always fun!

5. Yesterday, we finally got a chance to carve a Jack-o-lantern. I'm a skilled and creative carving-artist (or, you know, not), and did the very original "smiley face." Clare didn't really understand what was happening while we were carving, but she loved seeing it lit up -- and played carve a pumpkin the rest of the evening, so win.

6. Clare is fighting a terrible case of the sniffles and has reached the age where I can't get her to smile for the camera. As a result, we have a lot of artistic "looking lovingly at the pumpkin/brother/wall" shots . . . and a lot of shots with her with her tongue out to "moisturize" her chapped upper lip. I am trying to keep lip balm/Aquaphor/whatever on it, but you know how it is when your nose is runny. Poor kiddo.

7. A preview of tonight: my little ballerina and Superman. We'll see how things this evening. We're expecting a good, Midwestern Halloween (read: cold), but it should be dry, so we're going to try to take the kids out for a bit when Charles gets home. 

Have a lovely weekend! Happy (and safe and warm) Halloween today and Happy All Saints tomorrow!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oh, Kansas!

I should have known that Kansas had a place in my life. That I would end up here in some way or another. The evidence:
  • My dad spent a year at Kansas State University, before transferring home to the better Wildcats (University of Arizona).
  • I was obsessed with all things Oz at a little kid.
  • Over the years, I've had not one, but three, friends with deep Kansas connections. Two who moved from Kansas in junior high. One who moved to Kansas in junior high -- her mom was from here and moved home after a divorce.
  • Just after Clare was born, my dad started dating a very nice lady who was originally from Kansas. He ended up marrying that Kansas girl. (Love you, Rhonda!!)
  • We have friends -- the ones whose advice led us here in the first place -- from Kansas. Even knowing them is a long series of coincidences. 
  • Heck, even the Bishop of Phoenix is from Kansas! And since we've had the distinct privilege of meeting him on several occasions, I say it counts!
I think about all those things frequently. It's funny to feel so connected to a place that, until last summer, I had never even passed through. It's funny that our residency p is a place that never crossed my mind, but has always been in my heart.

I am, by no means, a providentialist, but I feel that God has, in some way, been priming and guiding my heart for this time in our lives. It was, after all, foreknown by the Almighty. I am always awed, looking back on things like this, at His hand at work. I feel humbled. I feel called to the kind of radical trust that I cannot muster when I look forward. Yet, I pray that I might.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Currently . . . 10.27.14

Joining Hannah at Joyful Life for another go 'round.

Thinking about Christmas. I know, I know. It's not even Halloween yet, but there's a method to my thinking ahead. Mostly that I try to do as much shopping and such before Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas as I can. That way, I can spend my time enjoying December instead of stressing over it. It's also going to be a different kind of holiday season around here, for lots of reasons, so I'm trying to wrap my mind around it in advance. Expectations are everything to me, so I need to get mine fixed appropriately.

Dreaming of a big, open kitchen full of people. Yeah, that's related to my Christmas musings, but I'm, for whatever reason, doing a ton of soul-searching and growth in the self-awareness realm lately, and it just seems like a big, bustling kitchen full of food and love and life and people is pretty much my love language. I've mentioned before that our kitchen has some shortcomings by way of space, but the biggest is that it doesn't have a warm and inviting feel. Someday, I hope, that will no longer be the case.

Organizing the clutter. Kinda. We are facing a constant battle against the clutter. Toys make their way upstairs and overcome the living room. Stuff comes home and gets dropped on the table. Stuff. Piles. We're constantly working on finding new homes for things, so that we can put them away, but it's a war we're fighting!

Laughing at my kids. They do the silliest things. I don't have the art of the tell, so I usually don't try to post silly stories; they fall flat in my writing style. I can't help but laugh at Peter Army-crawling after Clare's toys, followed by her outraged, "NO, PETER!!!!! That is MY _______________!!!!!" I can't help but laugh when Peter smiles and giggles. I can't help but laugh when Clare "finds" something lost right in front of her face. Especially when she announces proudly that, "I found it!"

Reading Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy. It's the current read for Michaela's Stella Maris Book Club. I'll (hopefully) have a fuller report down the road.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nice Job -- Theme Thursday

Since getting a new camera for my birthday, I've decided to start playing along with Theme Thursday. I might not be using a fancy-looking DSLR, but I've got a good point and shoot -- and frankly, I'm still in auto shooting mode anyway. ;-) (But of course, we're still working through the issue of my camera and computer not liking each other, so I'm having to route through my iPhone to post. Hence the cropping issues. Boo!)

I interpreted the theme a bit differently, mostly because I'm squealing, "Good job, Buddy!" 4396 times daily. There is something about my kids learning to crawls that gets me all worked up. I think because there are so many little steps they go through in the process. And I celebrate all of them. Also why I talk about it pretty incessantly. He'll eventually crawl and I'll start talking about something else.

None of which matters, since there are no rules for this. But there's a reason Wordless Wednesday doesn't work for me. ;)

Without further ado, I present "The Inchworm: A Photo Series." (As I've been typing, he's worked his way to the toddler toys. Waiting for Clare to freak out in 3...2..1...)

Visit Cari at Clan Donaldson for prettier, more artistic photos. ;-)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In the Kitchen with Clare

It was a rare, lazy Sunday morning, thanks to the Saturday Vigil Mass and Charles' scheduled Sunday shift. There were two well-overripe bananas (or "mananas" if you're Clare) itching to be mushed. So what did we do?

No, we did not make banana bread.

We made banana muffins to indulge in a little streusel topping. Yes, the recipe calls for nuts, but nuts in baked goods = wrong.

Clare still doesn't quite get the measuring or the waiting patiently and cleaning the kitchen while in the oven parts of baking, but she loves the mixing and "helping" prepare for the oven (scooping into muffin tins, shaping cookies, etc.) parts of baking. As a result, I normally get everything ready to go (do my mise en place, if you will) and call her in to help bring it all together. Then I distract her while I clean up, so she stops asking for a whatever it was we made while I tell her over and over that is has ___ more minutes in the oven.

On Sunday, since the muffins are a spoon batter instead of a stand mixer deal, she was an extra good helper:


Licking the spoon



I'm really starting to enjoy our little kitchen adventures together, and I know she does, too.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Currently . . . (10.20.14)

Joining Hannah at Joyful Life for Currently.

Doing the hospital hang out. Yesterday, while Charles was working a slower shift, we paid our first visit to the hospital. We got a tour and had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Believe me, nothing says "resident life" more than visiting Dr. Daddy at the hospital. In spite of nap time meltdowns at lunch, it was a fun visit.

Hospital chapel

Praying in the chapel
Cafeteria feast

Planning for a couple of rough days. Clare has a couple of doctor's appointments in the coming weeks -- nothing major, just follow-ups from the stuff last spring, but it is new doctors and new environments. And Clare is always challenging at doctor's appointments. Fortunately (?), she's getting more bribe-able, so there may be treats for good behavior happening. Even so, prayers would be appreciated, please and thank you. :-)

Remembering my mom. Today would have been her 64th birthday! Happy Birthday, Mommy! I love you always.

With Baby Me--just like she's always remembered, laughing and wearing red lipstick.

Wishing my allergies away. I have had a couple of rough days of allergy action, and managed to lose my voice over the weekend. Mostly, the histamine overload is expected, but when it gets going like that, I can't help but want to scream NOOOOOOOOOO!

Loving autumn. It is our first real fall in a long time, and the first I've really appreciated. The weather is perfect right now. Cool in the mornings and evenings. Perfect in the afternoon. The light is that shady, shadowy, slanted light of fall, but hasn't faded into the grey of winter. The leaves are starting to turn, but haven't fallen yet, so the light dances through them.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014


In quick summary, Charles has 2 kinds of rotation: on service and off. Off service, he works a pretty regular-day sort of schedule, for the most part. On service, well let's just say that the hours are not short. He is coming up on an on service month for the next four weeks.

We've already learned that these months are good for stretching us, both as individuals and as a couple. They are also good for leaving us both exhausted in every way.

In an effort to try and keep my game-face on in the next month, I've set myself up with a few little projects and personal goals that will help provide me with a little personal fulfillment beyond keeping everyone alive. Not that that isn't a worthy goal, I just need a little more if I can eek it out.

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I'm writing them down.

Hopefully, I'll be able to look back in 4 weeks and have some good reflections on the experience. :-)

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Friday, October 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 72

Joining Jen and her Merry Band of Bloggers.

1. Haven't done much blogging this week, but I anticipate that that's about to change. Charles has a tough rotation coming up, which means I expect plenty of time to pound out some ideas. Famous last words. ;-)

2. On Tuesday, we went to the pumpkin patch with our play group. Clare had a blast! Peter was less than impressed by the wind. Next year, hopefully, he'll feel differently.

Choo choo!

Over the bridge, headed to fun!

Riding the bus

Delighted by the animals, and saying, "hello."

Why do I have to stop for a picture?

This is his "unimpressed" face.

3. Then we came home, and I made the kids participate in a little photo shoot. Bonus neighborhood glimpses for curious family members. I'll do a home tour one of these days.

Front yard

Front porch (via Instagram)

4. Photo dump skip. #youarewelcome

5. Look at how high Peter is lifting himself up in those pictures. We're anticipating him being on the move soon. Kid is so eager to crawl, it is pathetic. I'm torn between excited for him and dreading the soon-to-follow into-everything phase. Enjoying the (relative) quiet while I can!

6. Good things come in 3s: 1) Real Top Chef is ba-ack!! 2) Date night this weekend! 3) Feeling good about our new parish -- thank you God for putting us here! That's a lot of yay!

7. Oh, and a bonus that, as soon as we move to Kansas, the Kansas City Royals are everyone's favorite Cinderella story. We believe!

That's all for today. Have a lovely weekend!

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reflections from Bath Time

The other day, after Peter's bath, I wrapped him up in his Elmo towel and carried him out to visit with Charles and Clare.

Unrelated. Already on Instagram and FB.

There is nothing I love more than snuggling my freshly bathed and not-yet-pajama'd babies. I had never quite put my finger on why. It isn't the lingering smell of Aveeno, though that's not bad. It could be simple pleasure in knowing that I wasn't likely to be smeared in jelly or sweet potatoes. But for the first time, it really dawned on me. Holding my wet, squirmy babies takes me back in some small way, to the moment when they were each placed on my chest, wet, squirmy and freshly born. There is something primal and beautiful there. Something sweet and special and sacred.

I was standing there, basking in the joy of my not-so-tiny, clean and squirmy baby, when Clare came over to tickle his feet. There were my babies, playing together, laughing. Charles was there, and we were grinning stupidly at each other, overjoyed by the moment of affection. I knew I had the most beautiful family. I knew that I was blessed.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Peter -- 6 months

That's half a year, people. Mr. Torpedo Man had his half-birthday yesterday, and to celebrate he got . . . baby oatmeal and sweet potatoes. Nothing says "Party like it's your (half) birthday!" like being spoon-fed unseasoned purees. Yum!

Mr. tall-and-skinny had gotten too long for 6 month sleepers, so we've moved up. The rest of his wardrobe rotation is a mix of 6 and 9 month items.

Meanwhile, he continues to be the happiest baby. Everyone who meets him comments on it. He just can't stop smiling.

He still likes to babble and coo. And try to eat his hand. He tries to be dainty and go a finger or two at a time. Then he gets frustrated, throws in the towel, and goes for the whole fist at once.

He is sitting up independently, but generally doesn't try very hard to keep at it. He'd much, much, much rather flop onto his belly and try desperately (and I do mean desperately) to move forward. He is successful at about 6 inches an hour. He wants to go faster. He's getting some good cross-body motion, but hasn't figured out how to get his knees under him yet. He tries to army crawl, but ends up spinning. After a few minutes of all of this, he gets tired and frustrated and cries. Poor guy.

Most of all, though, he loves to stand. He loves to stand on laps, stand being held on the floor, stand holding onto the coffee table or couch. Stand, stand, stand. Do not make me sit Mama. Do not. I think someone wants to keep up with big sister!

He is far too easy to get pictures of! With Clare, I had to get her dressed and ready, sit her in the chair, and go through 20+ shots and 20+ minutes to get a decent picture. Yesterday, I got his smiley mug in about 5 minutes. :-)
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Currently . . . October 6

It's been awhile. Joining Joyful Life for another round of Currently. Thank you, Hannah, for taking the reigns.

Thinking about: My thoughts wander. Home. Fall. Weather. Sleep. Love. How stinking adorable my kids are. Finding my niche. Dinner. Dessert. TV. God. The spiritual life. Contentment. Heaven. Food again. Changes. Family. Friends. Lots of thinking, but not a lot of answers.

Making: baby food! Peter is juuuuuuuuust getting started in the world of real food, but I'm super excited. I make our own baby food. Yes. I'm that mom when it comes to baby food. But you know what? I love it. I find it fun to roast and puree and freeze.

Getting too big

Watching: Parenthood. From the beginning. I've never watched it, but have heard rave reviews. Charles has another tough rotation coming up in a couple of weeks, so I anticipate extra time for solo-TV. Thank you, Netflix.

Loving: Clare is all about -- no, obsessed -- with her ABCs. She finds them everywhere, and loves to read off the letters for the words she finds. A recent gem (while looking at a container of milk): "O-R-G-A-N-I-C spells cow!" Moo!

C-L-A-R-E spells Clare (with assistance)
Thankful for: Saturday morning, as I was pouring my morning coffee on the first truly chilly morning of the year, I felt that giddy rush of warmth that only comes from this time of year. That feeling of savoring the warmth and the chill all at once -- it makes me thankful for all that I have and for having all that I need.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doing Little Things With Great Love

Yesterday, of course, was the feast of St. Therese, who happens to be my Confirmation patron. To celebrate, I made and ate Mexican food -- my day, my choice, 'cause that's how we roll 'round here. I miss Mexican food, but I digress.

More importantly, as I was getting ready yesterday morning, I was pondering the Little Way of St. Therese, which, boiled down, is all about doing "little things," the everyday tasks of her life, with great love. (Mother Theresa was well inspired, wasn't she?!?)

Ha! Easy! Pat yourself on the back, Mama! You got this! Motherhood is the perfect vocation for this path to holiness. Make sandwiches with great love? Yep. Fold laundry with great love? Sure. Change diapers with great love? Got it. Do dishes? Clean bathrooms? Run errands? Check. Check. Check.

But -- there's always a "but" when assessing the spiritual life, isn't there? -- but then, I started thinking about my morning. How many truly little things had I not done with great love? How many little tiny tasks had I done without any love at all?

Yesterday, Clare was obsessed with wearing her new hat and mittens. Never mind the 90* temperatures and broken (now fixed) a/c, the real problem with mittens is that your fine motor skills are greatly inhibited while wearing them. So they came off just as frequently as they went on. Believe me, I was not joyful in my vocation as I put those mittens on the first time. Never mind the 1 millionth. Then, I thought about how, day in and day out, I face a billion pairs of mittens, masquerading, of course, as Legos and puzzle pieces and shoes and snacks and the various and sundry effects of childhood. I sank as I realize how far I still have to go.

But I was right in one respect. Motherhood is the perfect vocation for seeking holiness via St. Therese's Little Way. Every day, we encounter a million opportunities to serve, to love as Jesus loved, and to do those little things with great love.

St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us, as I learn to do just that.

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