Monday, February 28, 2011


My tea clock, which I received as a bridesmaid gift from a friend years ago

I've enjoyed drinking tea since I was young (always, always, though, with milk and sugar added!). But since I was eighteen, with a developed adult palate, I've usually tended to go for tea's much more intense counterpart, coffee. It just has a stronger flavor and delivers that caffeine blast so much more efficiently than tea. But I still go through an occasional "tea phase" when I just savor the more subtle and delicate flavor of tea. And I've been in rather a tea-drinking mood lately.

I love the whole "tea culture." I think - and not to insult any of the many tea-drinking men out there - there's just something so charming and feminine about it.

As a testament to my love for tea-related objects, behold my teacup collection!

(except the bottom shelf which is so tiny that it can only hold Tom's shot glasses, miniature statues of St. Therese and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and a bunny figurine that looks like it's carved from a carrot!)

My collection used to be larger, but when I moved into this house, I forced myself to cull it down to only what would fit on this shelf ( just a couple others, kept in the kitchen cabinet for daily use.) I've picked these up over the past seven years or so.

I'm pretty picky about the teacups that I get - I have to really LOVE them to let myself buy them. I like them to have bright colors or lots of things going on in the design. Almost half of my teacups were purchased new, from the store Anthropologie (which has the most beautiful things, but at which I can only afford the less-expensive items like dishes!). The rest were thrift store finds (unfortunately, antique stores tend to charge way too much for teacups, so I rarely buy them there). Also, I really strive to only get ones that have a matching saucer.

All of these from Anthro

All from Anthro

Orange one from Anthro, blue from thrift store.

Various thrift/antique stores. Dark blue/white one is from IKEA. (the cup on the right had no matching saucer, but I found that blue-striped one a couple years later, and paired them together)

Thrift store

My lovely antique cow creamer! Tom gave me this for Christmas.

Thrift store

Thrift. The cup and saucers on the left were bought almost a year apart, but match almost perfectly!

This one, believe it or not, was one that Tom brought into the marriage! It's an antique from WWII Britain. When he was a kid, he loved planes, and some (female) relative gave this to him.

I stash all my tea in the back of a drawer, behind the batteries and the catnip. It's the perfect size for tea boxes!

I really dislike ALL herbal teas, green tea, and white tea. Only black tea for me. And no Earl Grey! Chai is my all-time favorite, which is why I have three boxes of that.

My trusty tea kettle, which used to belong to my parents. It doesn't have a whistle on it, which is somewhat regrettable. But it looks pretty on my stove, and boils water just fine!

Lipton's Chai is probably one of the best I've found. And it's great, because they sell it everywhere. Drinking out of a huge latte mug today.

One of my favorite teas of all time, Twinning's Four Red Fruits Black Tea. They stopped making this about two years ago, and it makes me very sad. This is my last box, and I've been saving it, and drinking it only very very occasionally. Once it's gone, it's gone forever! Oh, and picture here are the three large teacups that I keep in the cabinet (also from Anthropologie).

So, readers: What types of teas do you prefer? Any interesting tea-drinking habits to share?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Needing Thanks

I read a post recently at Catholicmom that has put me in a reflective, examination-of-conscience sort of mood. The author writes about how when she became a wife, taking care of her house, she found herself constantly reporting every detail of her work back to her husband, looking for thanks.

"....when I grew up..., got married and began to keep a home for the first time..., something strange happened: I quickly developed a powerful need to make sure that [my husband] knew about each and every thing I had done in and for our home each day. Heaven forbid Michael would think I had not used every second of my day before and after work productively.

Through directly telling him or making little side comments, I had to make sure he was told about every grocery run, how many loads of laundry I managed to get through, how many times I unloaded the dishwasher; if I wiped off the counters in the bathroom, and if organized the bookshelf that day. And it really used to crush me when he forgot to thank me frequently enough (in my mind) for everything I did."

This really struck a chord with me. I think - very slowly - I'm starting to do less of this, but I know I'm guilty of it myself. The fact that there's such a temptation to account for how I spend all my time during the day probably stems from two selfish sources : 1. the desire of being recognized for all I do, and 2. the fear that I'm not actually doing as much as I should, and thus a need to justify all the "breaks" I get to take. My husband works eight-hour days, five days a week at a job where I know he's not slacking off...and he brings home a paycheck as proof of his accomplishments each week. I certainly do my share of work around the house, take care of the baby all day, manage the finances and run errands. But it's less obvious. A housewife's work often goes unnoticed. And that's how it's supposed to be - it's a great opportunity for formation in humility and selflessness. Really, if done in the proper spirit, it can help you live that "hidden life" of hidden sacrifices that I mentioned aspiring to in my very first post.

The author later quotes, of course, that most appropriate Bible passage - the one that sprang to my mind as soon as I had read her admission, and realized that I'm much the same way.

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” – Matthew 6:1-4

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Studying For My Tutoring Session...

One of my students is in AP Bio, which means I need to brush up on the finer details of each chapter before we meet. Studying is always better when done with Nutella-dipped animal crackers, and a cold glass of milk! :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oven Fries Recipe

So I want to share one of my favorite recipes ever. These fries are easy to throw together for an unplanned side dish (though, admittedly, take more time and work than popping in some Ore-Ida frozen fries. Of course, they taste much better too). They pair wonderfully with hamburgers, steak, or other summery grilled foods, but we like them year-round. This is one of those recipes where I've made it so often, that I don't bother to measure anything or be precise about my methods. Every time we eat them, they taste slightly different, but always excellent.

So here's what you do:

1. Preheat oven to...about 350° or 400° (again, I just kinda make it up)

2. Use one large baking potato per person (and this will make a LOT of fries. If you're not as fry-crazy as Tom and I are, maybe do less). Slice into thin wedges. I usually cut the tater lengthwise, and then wedge it from there. The thinner you go, the crispier they will be. But don't make them paper-thin, or else they'll just be pure crunch. Ideal width is about 3 millimeters (haha - I just eyeballed that on my ruler, and that's about how thick I make them).

3. Gather the following ingredients: cooking oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin.

Pour a generous amount of oil onto a small plate, and then sprinkle generous amounts of each spice into the oil.

4. Dip each potato slice into oil and spices. Cover completely, then arrange on baking tray. After they're on the tray, I go over them again with the paprika and cumin. And maybe salt too.

Notice that we needed to use two whole trays just for two potatoes.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Pull out the trays, and flip all the slices over. You probably also need to pour off excess oil now. Then put back in the oven for another 15 minutes (or more, if they aren't getting crispy on the outside yet).

6. When they're done, serve hot and enjoy! I love to eat them with even more salt added, and dipped in ketchup.

If anyone decides to give these a try, I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just a Few Quick Updates

1. Tom's back home now. Sly was very happy to see him again, and has been laughing up a storm at all of Daddy's funny faces and noises (dads always seem better at that!). And he brought me a present! I lost my winter hat a couple weeks ago at the library. So he bought me a new one. And this one has cat ears!

He knows me well!

2. We spent the first half of Saturday bouncing around to some different stores and such. We checked out an antique show, the dollar store, a book shop, and Papermart (we needed Mardi Gras supplies for a party we're having soon). It was a pleasant day - it's always nice to have the feeling of having no where in particular you need to be, and to just let your whims carry you...

3. Found a GREAT website: This is just a very small sampling of the hilarious offerings you can find...

The customer gave the bakery an image of his boss on his thumb drive, which was supposed to be printed onto the cake. Instead, he got a picture of the thumb drive itself!

Sometimes people really amaze me by how obtuse they can be!

4. Sly is officially sitting now! He can stay up for a really long time, but we still surround him with a protective ring of pillows - just in case.

Now we just need to work on rolling over. I think babies tend to start rolling front-to-back around four months. Sly is almost six months and still can't do it! Well, he's rolled a couple times. But it was definitely accidental, and he definitely didn't enjoy it.

5. As Sly has started to outgrow his bouncer chair, someone knew has started to claim it as his own.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts on the Permanence of Marriage

Leighton , The Painter's Honeymoon

This is the last day that Tom will be away! He should be getting back home pretty late tonight. I did miss him, and I'll certainly be happy to have him back. But the separation was not as difficult as I expected. The first night he was away, it took me longer than usual to fall asleep. I wasn't used to having an empty spot next to me in the bed. But by the second night, I was really starting to enjoy having the entire bed to myself, and being able to sprawl luxuriously across it! And the first night, I was the one to call him in the evening, and to protest when he said he needed to get off the phone and get to bed. But after a couple days, I was no longer watching the clock anxiously for the appointed time of his call, and I was the one to call an end to the conversation with, "okay, well....I should probably get going..."

This is such a change from the way I used to be. When Tom and I were dating, I couldn't stand being apart from him even for one day. I wanted to be with him every moment that I could. And if we couldn't see each other in person, I expected at least an hour-long phone call that night. It used to frustrate him sometimes that I was so suffocatingly attached like that. And it's only in retrospect that I can understand why!

Back then, I would look at the way married couples interacted, and I was sure that would never be us. How could I ever get "comfortable" enough around the love of my life that I could sit on the couch with him to watch a movie and not be snuggled right against him? Or be happy to sit at separate ends of the table when out with friends? Or just spend an evening at home, each of us engaged in separate pasttimes and not even be having much in the way of conversation?!

One time, Tom was telling me a story about how he and his younger sister set up a tent in their backyard when they were kids. They wanted to sleep out there for the night, but were too scared to do it alone. So Tom's dad joined them in the tent. And when I heard that story - this was while we were engaged, I think - my very first thought was, "oh man - how could his mom bear to have his dad sleeping apart from her for the whole night?!"

Haha - oh how silly that sounds now!

No matter how well you prepare for marriage, there are just so many little changes that will happen - slowly, and subtly - that you could never expect them, or even notice them while they're happening. I'd say one of the most profound changes - but one it took us a while to be aware of - was just a small shift in the way we understood our relationship. It was a small realization, but it changed so much about how we relate to one another. And it is this: Marriage is permanent. And I don't think the truth of that really sinks in until you are married.

One day, a few months into our marriage, Tom and I realized that we never got into those stupid fights anymore about all the unimportant things that used to incite arguments all the time while we were dating. And it's not necessarily that those things that had been problems just went away as soon as we were wed. It's that we were then able to put them into perspective. Once it sinks in that you are going to spend the rest of your lives married - no matter what happens, no matter how much love you "feel" for one another - you want your relationship to be as strong as possible. I think the first few years of marriage are probably the most crucial, too, for setting an example for yourselves of how your married life will be...which things should be hashed out, and which ones just "let go." To lay a solid foundation now, before unforeseen future trials. If you can learn how to love for real (sacrificially) now, when the force of newly-wedded bliss is helping you out, then you will be better prepared for the day when it's not quite as easy to call up those tender feelings.

This is just one of the many beautiful things about being Catholic. With the knowledge that marriage is forever, and nothing (except death) that we do could ever end it, we are encouraged to put as much of ourselves into it as we can. There's no escape option. "So let's make the best of this we can," you say. I sincerely believe that if Tom and I accepted divorce as an option - even if we never sought such a thing - our marriage would be innately weaker.

So Tom's been gone since Sunday. Did I miss him? Yes. But it was certainly bearable. Because I had the sure knowledge that not only was he coming back to me, but that I would have him with me - with only occasional, small separations like this - for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Three of My Husband Being Out of Town

Valentine's cookies I baked several years ago

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. For some, that's a romantic day spent with their honey. For me, it was a very uneventful day holed up in the house with my almost 6-month old little man, and our two cats. The two of us only got out of the house for about a half hour, total. I decided that I needed to take a walk - just to get out of the house - and Sly rode in his Baby Bjorn. The temperature was more pleasant than it's been recently (maybe about 40°?), but it was raining on and off throughout the day. And it was the rain and wind that drove us back home shortly after we'd started.

I found myself wishing Sly was a bit older, so we could make a cute Valentine's Day craft together. I considered baking some sort of heart-shaped or red-colored treats, but I realized that without Tom home all week, I would end up eating Myself. Bad idea.

For dinner, I cooked myself a "romantic dinner for one". It was a slapped-together-from-what's-in-the-fridge version of "Chicken Parmesan". I used generic-brand frozen chicken patties, and grated some Swiss cheese on top (since that's all we had). I cooked up some farfalle to eat on the side. We didn't have any wine. ha.

Tom called me at night. But instead of cheerful "Happy Valentines Day, my love, my life, my wife" mushy sorta of sentiments, it was mostly tired sighs. Turns out, he had come down with a fever a few hours before, and was feeling awful. So our conversation was really not that enjoyable anyways. I had to make him promise me that he would ask the hotel for some medicine before he went to sleep (which, based on how poorly he was paying attention to the conversation, was probably minutes away), and we said goodnight.

I'm glad I don't put too much stock in this holiday to begin with, because this Valentine's Day was pretty lame. Ah, well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Know Whether Or Not You Are Ready To Be a Mother

From the Krogh Biology textbook. I used this pic in a powerpoint on sexual reproduction. Notice the exhausted parents in the background.

While I was still pregnant, I found this in a joke section of a newspaper, ripped it out, and stuck it on the fridge. I noticed it there today while I made my coffee, and read it over again, now in the light of actually being a mother.

How To Know Whether Or Not You Are Ready To Be a Mother
Mess Test: Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.
Toy Test: Obtain a 55 gallon drum of LEGOs (if LEGOs are not available, you may substitute roofing tacks). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream (this could wake a child at night).
Grocery Store Test: Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.
Dressing Test: Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus (they turn bright red when they are unhappy). Stuff into a small net bag, making sure that all arms stay inside.
Feeding Test: Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal (such as Fruit Loops or Cheerios) into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.
Night Test: Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bad and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00 p.m., begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 p.m. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 p.m. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00 a.m. Set alarm for 5:00 a.m. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for five years. Look cheerful.
Physical Test: Obtain a large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove ten of the beans.
Final Assignment: Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

I know the intent of this was to be humorous. And I do think it's amusing. But it did get me thinking about how you hear a lot of jokes or groans from parents about how difficult it is to have children. And I can't help but think that that mindset must be self-defeating sometimes. Or, even worse, give a skewed impression to those who don't yet have children, and make them even more wary of parenthood.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecc. 3). For many people, there is a time for being a child, and a time for being a parent. So many these days seem to seek perpetual childhood or adolescence. Wanting the freedom to do what they like, and have only themselves to care for. No one is supposed to live this way forever. And to think that you are entitled to the same freedoms as a parent that you enjoyed before will only sow bitterness towards parenthood, or even the children themselves.

Children are painted too often as burdens. As a source of grief and trouble. And the truth is - yes, it turns your whole world upside down sometimes. You are no longer the priority - your child is. Maybe you have to give up a career you enjoyed, stop going out at night, find yourself with little time to exercise/craft/read/etc.. Maybe you barely have time for a shower, even, and never get a full night of sleep again.

But the joys of it all are innumerable. And I think if people can "survive" the crazy ride of parenthood without going too crazy themselves, and without grumbling too much, they will come out on the other end better people, holier people.

No one is ever "ready" to be a mother. There's so much more to it than just the day-to-day care that the above joke has you "testing" for. I think most of the time, you just kind of stumble through it, try things out, make it up as you go along. But the happy news is that God is continually pouring out His graces to assist you the whole way.

Besides, all of us had parents of our own, and they went through this. They put up with years of our poopy diapers, our temper tantrums, our messes and mistakes and disobedience. And do we ever stop to think about that? I never understood HOW MUCH my parents loved me until I had my own child. How much of themselves they have given me, and continue to give. I was given so much, and it would be selfish to just keep it all for myself. It's time to share that with others.

Children are not burdens. In giving them to us, God entrusts us with a huge responsibility. We should feel only extreme gratitude for the trust He puts in us - the great opportunity He has given us. An opportunity not only to educate and enjoy our children, but to attain holiness ourselves. And of course, this doesn't come easily. But nothing worthwhile ever does. Parenting is a great privilege - to have an instrumental role in helping to form a person. In having chief responsibility for caring for one of God's beloved - body and soul. You get to help make that child who he is - to raise him on the good foods of virtue, obedience, faith, love. To help him build memories and knowledge of what is good and true.

It's okay - and I'd guess completely natural - to feel a little scared about the great responsibility laid before you as a parent. But it's wrong to feel scared because of the thought of what you will have to give up, and all the ways your life will change. Wrong to doubt God's plans, and the sweetness of his graces.

It's so amazing to watch my baby growing and learning. That is a gift greater than any I could hope for. Just last night, he was able to sit up all by himself for an extended period, without falling. Such a simple, natural thing. Something he would have learned eventually, with or without me. But I got to witness it. I knew what an accomplishment it was for him. And he made me so overwhelmingly PROUD.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day One of My Husband Being Out of Town

I drove Tom to the airport today at 2:00. It was strange not having him home on a Sunday afternoon, which is usually a nice time for us to relax together and enjoy the baby. Thankfully, my dad invited me over for dinner, so we (Sly and myself) had something to get us out of the house. No big plans for the night - just going to try to put in a couple hours of work for my cyber school job, now that Sly's asleep.

And on an unrelated note, check out this great post from BadCatholic.

Friday, February 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 1)

1. On Tuesday, I woke up at 8:30am, managed to get myself and the baby ready, and actually made it to the 10:00 morning Mass! I was hoping that Sly would continue sleeping until his usual late hour so I could be more productive, but alas - as soon as I woke up, he did too. So that slowed me down a bit, but we still made it! The priest is one whom I met a couple weeks ago at a Mom's Group meeting. I don't even remember introducing myself or the baby to him formally, but I guess I must have, since after Mass he came right up to us and said, "hello, little Sylvester!".

2. I was hoping to make at least one more morning Mass this week, but that plan was foiled by an unfortunate case of car trouble. The car was making a terrible grinding sound as I drove home from tutoring on Tuesday, and I was told I should get it to a mechanic right away. Seems that we had ill-fitting break pads, which has worn down to the metal. This in turn caused the destruction of several other parts. The car's been in the shop since Tuesday evening. It's ready to pick up, but I still haven't gotten a ride there. And it's going to cost us. As I said to Tom, though, at least God let our car troubles wait until we had a little more money in the bank to afford them!

3. I finally purchased my bridesmaid (or perhaps I should say I'm a "bridesmatron"?) dress for my friend's wedding. It's going to need to be taken in a bit at the shoulders, so I'm hoping I can find someone I know to do it cheap, instead of paying the ridiculous prices they charge for alterations at the store.

4. While my mom and I were out shopping on Wednesday (for the dress, and a few other things), Sly made himself a big mess, as babies are wont to do. Not only did his bib become totally saturated with drool and spit-up, but his diaper wicked a little onto his clothes. It's my fault for forgetting to pack a change of clothes. But we were still only halfway through with our shopping, and didn't want to let him stay wet and gross. One store was having a good sale on baby outfits, and my mom offered to just buy him a new one so we could just change him right then. I decided it would be fun to let Sly pick out his own outfit, for once (since all the ones we own were given as gifts or hand-me-downs). So I carried him along the clothes racks to see which one he would grab for. And here's the one he chose.

Tom was quite proud of his son's good taste (since his favorite colors are brown and green). And every time I see him in it, I think it's just the cutest thing ever that he "picked it" himself!

5. When I'm taking a shower, lately I've been propping Sly into a sitting position on the bathroom floor and giving him several toys to amuse him. He still loves to "talk" and "sing" very loudly every time the shower's running. Thursday morning, he was chattering away as always. But after a few minutes, it suddenly got quiet. I waited about a minute, listening, and he still wasn't talking. Instead, I kept hearing a small thumping sort of sound. I peeked out the curtain to see what he was up to, and saw that he was grabbing the waste basket, and drumming the bottom of it up and down on the floor. Based on the position of it, I figured he couldn't really spill it over, so just decided to let him have his fun. When I'd finished my shower, though, and opened the curtain, I was surprised to see that he had pulled the entire trash bag out of the can, and was inspecting it in his lap. I think I caught him before anything nasty wound up in his mouth. I let out a little gasp, which made him just give me a huge smile. That little rascal!

6. It's moments like those that make me realize, with shock, that my baby isn't just a "baby." He is a little boy. And as he gets older, he's going to be the same little destructive, toy-throwing, jumping, kicking, tearing-around-the-house ball of energy that most little boys are at some time or another. Little boys cause mischief.

7. Tom is going away on a business trip soon. He has to fly out on Sunday after Mass (they wanted him to leave Sunday morning, but he asked if he could have a few hours in the morning), and he won't get back until late on Friday! It's a long time to be away, and I know me and the babe are going to miss him pretty hard.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reuben Dip Recipe

Sorry, I didn't take a picture. It mostly looks like a bowl of slop anyways. But oh-so-tasty!

Reuben Dip
1/2 lb. diced corned beef
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1 c. sauerkraut, drained well
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. ketchup
2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
Rye crackers or rye bread

~ Heat oven to 350°. Grease 1-qt. casserole dish.
~ In a medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients. Spoon into casserole dish.
~ Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve warm with crackers or bread.

Note: We could not find rye crackers or rye bread (except pre-sliced sandwich bread) at the store! Instead, we bought some multi-grain crackers, and little "cocktail sliced" pumpernickel bread squares. Both seemed to be well-received.

Why I Love My Husband #2

He insisted that we set up and maintain a small home altar in the living room, even though I didn't like the "look" of it.

Sometimes for fun, he takes random bits and pieces of metal and fashions them together to make me jewelry (like my skeleton key necklace, or the "artistic" just-screams-Catholic necklace filled with dangling holy medals, broken sections of Rosary beads, and crucifixes).

He always wants to be the one to hold Sly when we're out in public, because he just loves to show him off to all the little old ladies who come up to see him.

He rubs my feet for me sometimes, even though he really doesn't like to ;-)

Now that I don't have the time to read the newspaper every day, he makes sure to fill me in on the interesting major stories and local news.

He can talk to anyone, and make friends with anyone. He's genuinely interested in learning more about everyone he meets.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Musings, February 7th

Right's 10:20. I actually got up around 9:30 this morning, which is better than I've been doing lately (see last post), but I need to start shifting that earlier! Also, I think the only reason I woke up that early today is because Tom called from work, asking for permission to agree to a 5-day business trip they had offered him (I said yes, only because it's a good opportunity. But I'm not looking forward to those five days.)

This weekend...was low-key, but mostly nice. On Saturday, Sly took an amazing hours-long nap, so Tom and I both used the opportunity to do work on our computers (he was just given a company laptop, so now he can do all his overtime work from home instead of having to go in to the office!). In the evening, we were both in need of just getting out of the house. As a default, we headed to a local thrift store to browse their wares. It was largely a bust in terms of clothes and household items, but we did pick up a few good kids books. I also found a partial set of the Little House books (5 of them). They were very nice printings of the books, paperback, but they all had the FRONT COVERS RIPPED OFF!!! Tom says they have to do that for some legal reason, when selling "new" books at a thrift store which never got sold at the original store. It makes me so upset that they ruined perfectly good books! I bought them anyways, and Tom and I are going to try to device a way to make some sort of cover for them... While at the store, we got a call from some friends, also bored for the evening. So we all got together, and cooked a simple but tasty pasta dinner, and just spent the rest of the night hanging out.

Sunday morning, instead of going to our usual Mass, we decided to attend a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. It had been a while since we'd been to one (since at least before Sly was born). As always, it was very beautiful and edifying. I think it's a little sad that the Byzantine churches (at least around here) tend to have what seems like only ten regular members each. And most of them are "getting up there" in years. That said, those few faithful tend to be some of the most welcoming and most "Christian" people you'll ever meet. They seem to be more salt-of-the-earth types than the people you usually encounter at a Roman Rite church, and more humble and genuine than some of the Trad Catholics I regularly run into at our Latin Mass. I wonder if it comes from centuries of being sorta pushed aside, and considered almost second-rate Catholics? Anyways, the little old ladies all got a kick out of Sly. Everyone was chatting with us happily after the Liturgy (where they had coffee! and Steelers cake!). So many of them said things like, "well, we'll see you next week." And it made me feel sad, because I'm almost sure they won't. I do love the Byzantine Liturgy, but the Roman Liturgy is my home. I mean, it's in my blood.

In the evening, we went to a Super Bowl party, and watched our Steelers lose. It was a bit disappointing, but a matter as unimportant as who wins a football game can't really bring me down in spirits that much. Tom and I finally made a recipe that I've had in my recipe binder, on standby, for years now. It was a reuben dip. It tasted exactly like a Reuben sandwich (which is: corned beef, saurkraut, Thousand Island dressing...other stuff I can't remember...all on rye bread)! Perhaps I'll post the recipe soon.

Some plans for the week: We still need to get together some sort of anniversary gift for Tom's parents, who visit next weekend! I have the usual tutoring to do, and I'm hoping to get my mom to come out with me one day so I can buy a bridesmaid dress for a friend's wedding (my mom would be with me to occupy the baby. And also to give womanly advice on how a the dress looks on me).

If I finds some time for myself, I would like on the enormous cross-stitch sampler than I've been crawling along with.

Prayer intentions for the week: For Tom's parents, as they approach 30 years of marriage. And prayers that I have the strength to get myself on a more sane sleep schedule, and make it to daily Mass at least a couple times a week.

Something that makes me smile: This crazy picture my husband took. Our cat Lance[lot] is in the foreground, sulking because the baby has taken his once-uncontested spot in our hearts (and on our laps); I'm on the phone and wearing a big smile because my best friend is telling me the story of how she got engaged two days before; and Sly is just staring out in baby-like wonder.

Monday Musings hosted at Patch O'Dirt Farm.

Friday, February 4, 2011

In a Funk

The past few weeks have really dragged on. Sly and I are stuck inside most of the day, and are getting major cabin fever. The weather's just too cold most days to take him outside. Tom keeps insisting that there is plenty we could do. He's always telling me to go to the mall. First of all, going to stores gets boring real fast if you know you can't buy anything anyways. Plus, all the effort involved in going out of the house and lugging around a fussing baby all afternoon is something I try to do only when necessary!

I don't know too many other stay-at-home moms to hang out with, and I don't want to intrude too often on the ones I do. I am involved in a Catholic Moms Group which is actually really great and plans frequent activities and outings. But most of them are for older kids....or they start too early for us. That's another thing that's been making the days a drag. Sly and I don't wake up until 10:00 most mornings. By the time I've been able to shower, dry my hair, change myself, change the baby, feed myself, feed the's already noon! I hate that feeling of the day being half over by the time you're even ready for it! And yet I feel so tired in the morning that I can't imagine pulling myself out of bed any earlier (seriously, does nursing tire you out? I feel like ever since Sly was born, I've needed major amounts of sleep). I think both of us need an earlier bedtime. Sly goes to sleep at 10pm, and me....1:30am. When the heck did this new pattern get established? And why? It's just been these past couple of weeks.

And to add to all this, Tom has been putting in major amounts of overtime at work. It's nice, because he's getting paid for it. But it's hard not having him home until late every day. Dinner gets pushed until 8:00 or later, and I don't like eating that late. And when Tom does get home, he's mentally exhausted from his job, and doesn't even really want to have a conversation. I feel like I'm not getting the adult interaction that I need. I spend most of the day alone with Sly, trying to figure out new ways to entertain him that are at least not mind-numbingly boring or repetitive for myself. We both just really need a change of scenery. Or company.

Don't let anyone tell you that being a stay-at-home mom is an easy thing. I definitely would never trade it for going back to work or school. And I do feel very grateful for having the ability to be home for my son, and so that I can take care of the house. But wintertime can make you feel tethered down sometimes.

My goal is going to be to start getting to bed earlier, and to try to make morning Mass at least a couple times a week. That will not only help provide a needed spiritual refreshment, but will also get us out of the house, and give us a welcome change in our routine :-)

Ugh. Sorry this whole post was mostly one big long complaint. But yay for Punxsutawny Phil predicting an early Spring this year, huh?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Day at the Aviary

Last Saturday, we went to the National Aviary with some friends. We thought Sly might enjoy watching the birds. In reality, he usually seemed not even to notice that there were big colorful creatures flying around near him. But from time to time, they did capture his notice, and we got a few good pictures when they did.

Sly watching a bird in the Wetlands room. He was so unfazed by people that he actually went over and sat right next to people on a bench a little later.

Watching some birds fly around overhead during the bird feeding show.

Some cute little guys walking on a rail.

A weird picture of the three of us.


Having a close penguin encounter.

These birds looked unreal. As if they were just paintings of birds. I think they are Pied Imperial Pigeons.

This guy was really cool, and pretty huge (hard to get a feel for his size in the photo). We tried forever to get a good picture of him, but this was the best we got. It's a Victoria Crowned Pigeon.

I think this guy is called a Blue-bellied Roller. SO puffy and cute!!

Standing in the rainforest room.

The crowned pigeon again. A fearless bird. We watched him chase a little girl in circles until she cried. And I admit...I laughed (quietly, so the girl and her mom wouldn't hear).

The Rainbow Lorikeets. Gorgeous birds! We took too many pictures of these guys.

While the aviary wasn't as big as I was expecting, there's a lot to see if you are patient. Overall, a nice afternoon activity. I think Sly will enjoy it more in another year or so.