7 Quick Takes: Easter Octave Edition

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Happy Friday!  Here I am blogging instead of watching the just-released-for-home-viewing Star Wars movie, so…you’re welcome.  We have big plans to watch it after Maddy goes to bed tonight, so I should need to make a popcorn and wine run this afternoon.

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We had a lovely Easter.  The Triduum looks a little different when you’ve got a toddler and no really stellar Mass options, but we made it work.  There’s a Ukrainian Catholic option in town, so we went to some of their services and really enjoyed the change.  Plus, the congregation is very small (as in, under 10 most days) and child-friendly.

On Holy Thursday, every Mass option was bilingual, which meant things took about twice as long as they would have at an English Mass, but Maddy was a trooper past her bedtime.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to an authentic Spanish Mass (no, I don’t count my Midwestern university’s attempts).  The enthusiasm of the musicians was really something to see.

On Friday, we went to the Ukrainian Mass, which was celebrated for the Feast of the Annunciation.  Maddy was good for the first hour or so, and then lost interest and needed to sit in the car eating Cheerios.  She enjoyed climbing freely around the backseat.

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Happy as a clam and totally stuck.  She just politely said, “Hey, mama?”

We laid low at home on Holy Saturday; our bedtime disruption capital had all been spent on Thursday night.  On Sunday, we woke up bright and early and went to Easter Matins, again at the Ukrainian church.  There was a procession involved, and the priest’s wife gave Maddy a set of bells to ring whenever we said, “Christ is risen!”

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Hard to get a picture while carrying her and processing through the bushes, but you get the idea.

Johnny was conscripted into leading the procession, which ended with Father knocking on the closed church doors with a crucifix and announcing three times, “Christ is risen!”  It was great.

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Maddy is enamored by his hat and the bells on the thurible.  The Roman Rite is pretty dull in comparison.

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We didn’t manage to get a family photo because (ahem) someone changed out of his church clothes too early.  I may make everyone wear the same thing this weekend for a staged picture.  Pretend it’s real.

I did think to take photos of Maddy.  “We have lilies and a stuffed lamb!” I thought.  “How hard could a photo be?”

This hard.

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Fittingly for Easter week, our kitchen is full of various baked goods.  But they were all made under duress!  Really!  We couldn’t not have Easter brunch, and the pound cake was my contribution to Easter dinner.  And the cookies were because I thought Johnny was going on a business trip.  And the bread is there to go with the ham.  In short: I should’ve bought butter and flour shares.

 

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We totally skipped an Easter basket for Maddy this year, because she still thinks raisins are candy, but her grandparents and great-grandparents came to the rescue.  My mom sent her the Our Lady of Czestochowa Shining Light Doll, and she’s been carrying it around everywhere asking, “Who’sis?”  She’s currently fascinated by all depictions of Mary and Baby Jesus, so having a portable version is fun.

Johnny’s grandpa made her this rocking fish, which she likes but isn’t quite sure how to approach.  In a month or two, she’s going to be a rocking fool on it.

 

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The weather has been great this week, and Maddy has been begging to spend every moment outside.  It’s tough, because every surface is covered with pollen, and all three of us have allergies.  I’m trying to bite the bullet, though, so we’ve been to the playground a few times.

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Just practicing for Baby.  Given that she flipped it immediately after I took this photo, I think we’ll keep practicing.

 

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We have a lot of time to spend outside because she went down to one nap pretty much every day.  It’s great that we can count on her to sleep through the night now, but I’m missing the time I used to have to myself during the day.

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All I need to do is figure out how to eat in the shower while making phone calls, without anyone on the other end getting suspicious.  I can do this.

 

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We spent the last month dealing with a ridiculous car repair situation that resulted in finally getting a loaner car from the dealership for a couple weeks.  Any excitement I may have had about driving a cute Fiat was quickly squashed by the fact that it was electric and had a range of 74 miles.  Ever forget to plug your phone in at night?  Yeah, now imagine being stuck at home the next day while the car charges.  Needless to say, I’m not planning on a purchase anytime soon.  Once my car came back (two weeks later), I sent the list of repairs to my dad and asked how long it would take him.  Response: “Two hours including lunch.”  Awesome.

 

I’ve typed away a pretty fair portion of naptime, so it’s time for me to go do some adulting.  Enjoy your weekend – we’ll be going to something called Big Hat Days!

Linking up with Kelly, because of course.

Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day

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At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy.
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angel’s Ave and Consummatum est.

Excerpt from Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day
1608, John Donne

A homemaker? I should be so lucky.

My first exposure to the term “homemaker” came when I was in middle school and helping my parents with their tax returns (itemizing deductions was the perfect task for an obsessively detail-oriented kid). There was no stigma attached to it – it was just the way to describe what my mom did, and she was (and is) pretty darn good at it. Aside from a brief period of wanting to be a doctor, I’ve always aspired to the same life. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to realize that “homemaker” had negative connotations in some circles, even in the academic circles at my Catholic college (but not, thankfully, among my circle of friends). After graduation, I got an unexpectedly great job that I loved, and I began to understand how someone could really enjoy working outside the home – I was challenged, gained new skills, and got to interact with smart people on a daily basis. Meanwhile, my apartment was always just a little past messy, and I excused it with the fact that I was, after all, working full-time.

This excuse carried me through my first year and a half of marriage, and that’s how I explained the art that didn’t get hung up and the last few boxes that may or may not be untouched in our basement. When two workers come home tired at night, it’s hard for them to motivate each other to do more than the bare minimum.

Then, along came baby, and suddenly I found myself home all day, and sometimes with a spare naptime stretch of time. Spending all day in my own house has opened my eyes to how best to make it a home – the closet full of boxes, the unfolded laundry, the dirty dishes all make our apartment more like a receptacle of stuff than an inviting refuge from the long day.

Homemaking isn’t just the endless series of menial tasks that it seems to be; a truly made home is a place for the development of a family, for the nuturing of souls. Every counter cleaned and toilet scrubbed allows the tired homecomer to relax, or the weary mother a sliver of calm to enjoy (if only very, very briefly). As Pope Pius XII wrote in an address to newlyweds,

But where will you find true family life without a home, without a visible focal point to encompass, anchor and sustain this life, to deepen and develop it, to cause it to bloom? Do not say that the home exists materially from the moment the two hands are joined and the newlyweds have the same room, under the same roof, in their apartment….No, the material house is not enough for the spiritual edifice of happiness.

I’m still far, far from having succeeded in many respects of homemaking, and some days, we just shuffle from room to messy room before going to sleep in a bed that never got made. However, I’m putting forth a deliberate effort to create places of beauty in our house. Whether it’s keeping fresh flowers on the table, keeping the (non-literal) cookie jar full, or simply not complaining about daily chores, I’m trying to keep in mind that “the woman’s role encompasses those countless, ceaseless details, those imponderable daily attentions and cares which create the atmosphere of a family, and, depending on whether they are properly performed or not, make the home either healthy, attractive, and comfortable, or demoralized and unbearable.”

Instead of cursing the drudgery, I’m trying to remember that making a home is a high calling. Love is in the daily attentions and cares. My vocation is in the countless, ceaseless details.

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Go Forth and Mother

Linking up for the first time with Tuesday Talk – click over to see what others are up to!

7 Quick Takes: Summer Fashion, Sacred Heart, and Miscellany

— 1 —

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New camera (phone) alert!  I upgraded my phone, and the new camera is so much better.  Compare the old photo (left) to the new one (right).  Maybe it’s just my over-scrutinizing photographer brain talking, but they look so much better to me.  Full Instagram-Speed ahead!

— 2 —

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I recently pulled out an old unfinished knitting project, and I’ve been making steady progress on it every evening.  I’m pretty sure I bought the yarn and started working on it before I got married, so it’s been languishing in craft purgatory for a long time.  The finished product is huge, but I’m hopeful that someday I’ll get it done.  Just in time to send it to college with Maddy.

— 3 —

Netflix’s suggestions for me are usually dubious at best, but I followed their advice and watched the first episode of their original series Chef’s Table. Each episode profiles a different chef (ahem, hence the name), and the first one is about Italian chef Massimo Bottura. I thought it was fascinating from both a culinary and artistic standpoint, and his relationship with his wife was very endearing. I haven’t gotten to the other episodes yet, but I highly recommend the first one.

— 4 —

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Our balcony garden is, well, still alive, and that’s something!  The morning glories are starting to climb on the balcony and each other, making for some complex knots.
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Globe Basil, with its small leaves, is becoming my favorite variety.  They’re so small that they can be tossed into the pot without any chopping, which saves a step.  The poppies, in the same planter, are still shooting up, and since I don’t know much about flower gardening, I’ll consider that progress.garden 6-12-4 The blooming flowers are still going strong, possibly due to the fact that someone else did the hard part before entrusting them to me.  It’s nice to have such a vivid splash of color out there!garden 6-12-6

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Maddy and I had the chance to go to a new-to-us mall yesterday (the open-air kind that’s probably more common in warmer places but is a novelty around here). We’re happy to report that the summer fashions currently in stores are great. Fashion is cyclical, so I guess we’ve circled back around to a time that pleases me. Neither of us really needs anything new right now, but here are some things that caught my eye. There’s a definite theme of skirts and nursing-friendly dresses here…

Loft. I’ll be watching for this one to go on clearance.
Anthropologie ($198).  This will never go on deep enough clearance for my budget.
Loft.  Vertical stripes – yes.
JCrew.  The color is fantastic.
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H&M.  I’m not exactly sure what you’d wear under it (it’s clearly a little short as is), but it looks breezy and comfortable.
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H&M.  Something a little different from the usual t-shirt, and there were cuter colors in store.

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Sacred HeartIt’s a solemnity today!  That means our home altar is decked out, and I’m off to make (meaty) lasagna and cake for dinner.  There’s no particular tradition behind either choice, except that together, they’ll use up a whole container of ricotta.

— 7 —

This week’s MaddyCam comes courtesy of her “new” walker, which is an awesome development. It keeps her happy for long enough that I can empty the dishwasher or do some cooking, but she really loves it when one of us gets down on her level.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

7 Quick Takes: Unsolicited Relics, Sunshine, and Talking to Herself

— 1 —

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Finished! The maniturgium I blogged about last week is done, in plenty of time to put in the mail to the Father-to-be. I finished the embroidery on Wednesday night, ironed it late into the night (and ironed and ironed…), and then sewed it up. In the end, it was a fun project and I was pleased with how it turned out. It made me want to do more embroidery, once I clear some other things off my craft docket. It was also the last thing on my to-do list that had a real deadline, so now I can focus on some more open-ended projects like decluttering and a long-standing knitting project.

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— 2 —

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At least one of us needs sunglasses.

In the space of a week, the weather went from “chilly spring” to “crank the AC.” Between that and some rapid clothing-size changes for Maddy and I (in opposite directions, thankfully), we're doing a lot of wardrobe shifting. Maddy and I walked our package to the post office yesterday, and it was a warm trek. Naturally, she took a much-needed nap on the way there, so I was loath to go home and wake her up. We stopped for an iced coffee, and then continued on to the library. It was a good 2-mile stretch of the legs for me, and a good nap for her, but the heat had pretty well fused us together by the time we got home.

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IMG_1338We also walked past a rummage sale where this was for sale. Any guesses as to what it is? It was about 3-4″ high, and pretty heavy. A bookend for very small books? I didn't get it, so the question is totally theoretical.

— 4 —

Speaking of mysterious religious goods: I've gotten some unsolicited and not entirely welcome things in the mail lately. Somehow, I ended up on the mailing lists of random Catholic non-profits who fundraise by sending “gifts” in the mail. When I was a kid, they just sent things like address labels and greeting cards – things we had no qualms about throwing away. The envelope I got a few weeks ago raised the stakes: it contained a relic of Padre Pio. The letter didn't identify what class or kind of relic, so our guess is that it was once touched to something that was touched to something from Pietrelcina. Regardless, it seems highly sketchy to mail an unsolicited relic (or “relic”) to a large mailing list. We're a little stumped on what to do with it, since we can't really get rid of it but don't have a place to put it.
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— 5 —

My favorite time of the day has become the three minutes in the evening when the light comes through the windows and illuminates the Pieta on the bookshelf. It usually coincides with the evening Baby Meltdown, and it's a nice reminder to take a quiet minute to myself.
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— 6 —

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Maddy and I got outside this afternoon to do a little gardening. We planted some basil and mixed in some California Poppy seeds (“drought-resistant” means “hard to kill,” right?). We'll get some Morning Glories in the ground tomorrow. Last summer's garden suffered a mortal blow at the hands of morning sickness and exhaustion, and I'm hoping for better this year. Now that the garden is planted, it might be time to take down the Christmas lights.

— 7 —

Finally, your weekly installment of “Only a Grandmother Will Watch,” with love from Maddy.

https://vimeo.com/127290071

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum!

 

7 Quick Takes: Cocktails, Embroidery, and a Cake

Thanks to the miracles of planning ahead a little and a baby who’s happy in a bouncy chair, I actually have 7 quick takes today!

— 1 —

We bought a bag of spinach earlier this week, with this recipe in mind.  Unfortunately, we were at Costco, so the bag is big enough that Maddy could live in it (except for that whole thing about babies and plastic bags, of course).

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It was a great deal, but now there are two problems: first, we’ve got a lot of spinach to eat.  Second, I somehow got it in my head that there’s probably a giant spider hiding deep in that jungle of a bag, waiting for me to reach in up to my elbow.  Totally rational.  The options, as I see them, are to shake it out gingerly at arm’s length, or make Johnny do it when he gets home.  Or set it in the kitchen sink and light it on fire, just to be safe.

— 2 —

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I made my own birthday cake again this year, but unlike last year, it was a huge hit.  I used this Strawberry Icebox Cake recipe, which seemed too good to be true, but it did not disappoint.  I was able to do it in about 20 minutes, one-handed while holding a baby, and it still turned out well (and pretty, if I do say so).  I imagine that it’d be ridiculously easy to make gluten-free, too, for those who care about that sort of thing.

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— 3 —

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I made a baby dress earlier this week, for a grand total of 15 minutes, $1.50 for the onesie (thank you, Once Upon a Child), and a t-shirt that I was going to give to Goodwill anyway.  I was so easy, I’ll probably make many more (and I did take pictures of the process, so I’ll post a step-by-step at some point).

— 4 —

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Now that the weather is pleasant, Maddy and I have been running pretty consistently the last few weeks.  We’re on week 3 of the trusty Couch to 5K program.  I just calculated that she + stroller adds 50 pounds to my load, so I’m pretty pleased with the fact that it’s still going well.  I realized last year that running with music is less distracting than running with talking, and since being distracted is the name of the game, I’ve been loading up on the podcasts.  Between Fountains of Carrots and Stuff You Missed In History Class, I’m getting my introvert social fix, and learning obscure facts.

I’m also glad to have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the spring sights:
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— 5 —

IMG_1292 Johnny and I made it out of the house last night for our first date night sans baby (thanks, Katie, for babysitting!).  I wore a dress that wasn’t nursing-friendly, had free use of my arms for the whole time, and ordered a real cocktail (the first time I’ve done that in almost a year!).  I was going to get an Irish Coffee, but we were at a fancypants restaurant with a real cocktail menu, so I decided to step out of my usual rut and ordered a Rickson (well, I ordered the Dark and Stormy first, but they were out of ginger beer.  Outrage).  It was a little girly (see the fruit), but definitely packed a punch.  I’ll have to try to duplicate it at home, but I can’t find recipes online, so I’ll have to do it soon before I forget it.  Darn.

Also to duplicate at home: the fried Brussels Sprouts we had as an appetizer.  Mind-blowing.

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— 6 —

Instead of blogging, I should be spending all my free time working on embroidering this maniturgium for a friend’s ordination.  The due date is coming up (it’s hard to forget, since it’s literally right in front of me), but I got a late start on it due to some supply problems.  Luckily, it’s going quickly and I’m really pleased with it.  The idea of making something that his mother will take with her to heaven adds a little pressure, but I’m honored to have been asked, and I can’t wait for the finished product.

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— 7 —

And finally, because people demand it one with every post, a photo of the blue-eyed bath lover:

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For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!