Yarn Along: All the Blankets We Cannot See

Just a quick post after a long break to mark the finish of the first baby blanket of the summer, made for the first nephew/niece of the summer.  The tradition of making a blanket for each new baby in the family was a much better idea before we had three babies due within a month of each other, but I’m actually making surprisingly good progress (despite or because of the fact that the last baby is mine, which is causing a lot of couch time lately).

I’m excited to finally share pictures of one secret project; the pattern and yarn were both really nice to work with, and it was a fun project.  I took a break for about 15 minutes, and then cast on the next project, a blanket for Baby 2.

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Modeled by Maddy, who was very much in love with the finished product but happy to mail it off with a kiss.

 

 

I’ve also been reading a lot, thanks to four library requests that all came in at once.  I prioritized them according to the length of the wait list, and managed to finish All the Light We Cannot See on time.  Given how popular it is, I feel like an outlier saying that I wasn’t that crazy about it.  The story was compelling enough, but it’s certainly not going to stick with me long after I finished it.  I’ve moved on to Brooklyn, since I enjoyed the movie so much.  The novel is enjoyable too, but so close to the plot of the movie that I’m getting a little bored, knowing exactly what scene is coming next.

 

Ravelry Notes

Book notes

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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.

Maddy’s First Birthday!

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We did it!  A whole year of living for Maddy and parenthood for us.  I may have missed the last several months of updates about her, but darn it, I can snap my 3-month non-blogging streak long enough to commemorate her birthday in the correct month.

We had a pretty low-key dinner celebration (our family and Johnny’s), and then cake and gifts.  Maddy “helped” me “decorate” her cake (see above), which was just banana bread with frosting.  The adult cake was a flourless chocolate cake that was absolutely fantastic on it’s own, with the added bonus of being gluten-free (important for one or two of us).

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Maddy was pretty much totally uninterested in the candle or singing, but fascinated by Daddy holding the video camera.  Here’s the other angle of this photo.

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Cake eating montage:
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Yes, I did get all the chocolate out of her tutu.  Thanks, Zout!

We had have a few decorations up at our house still: a banner of monthly photos – which is a project I’m sure I’ll never do for any subsequent birthdays – and a sign, courtesy of Maddy’s cousins.

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Maddy is running headlong into her second year of life.  In the space of an hour earlier this week, she learned how to open the container of wipes and scatter them, pop the lid off a full cup of milk, smash a plate against the tile floor, and say, “NOT DIS!”

On the other hand, she’s also figuring out how to go play by herself, reading board books voraciously, and adding new words to her vocabulary every day (“breakfast” and “outside” are the ones I’m most impressed with).  She greets everyone with either a high-pitched “HIIIIIIIII!” or a very solemn “Hewwo.”  Her favorite things include string cheese, Daddy, and the stand mixer.

Happy birthday, Maddy C!  We think you’re pretty great.

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Yes…she got a ball pit for her birthday. What else are bachelor “uncles” for?

7 Quick Takes: Linkin’ Around

Linking up with Kelly et al. to share a few things that are catching my attention or coming to mind (aka, clearing out the tabs I’ve got open on my browser).

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This new photo (and video) of the moon passing over the earth is incredible. I love seeing their scale and movement.

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Apparently it’s World Breastfeeding Week, and that’s great, but how about no one goes crazy? Here’s my photo contribution to the week, but no worries, skittish ones – we’re all covered up.

 

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I’m rereading some Harry Potter lately, and every time I come back to it, I’m surprised at just how much I enjoy it (even book #5, which is by far my least favorite). With that in mind, I’ve been pondering Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter, and on a lighter note, 8 Reasons Molly Weasley Is a Great Literary Mama (both via Carrots for Michaelmas)

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I know this is an advertising campaign, but darnit, handwriting is awesome (science agrees). Unsurprisingly, back to school ads are making me nostalgic for the days when I had an excuse to buy new pens and paper every semester.

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In what is possibly the most spot-on targeted advertising I’ve ever seen, Facebook “suggested” the following ad for me:

I’m not endorsing this company, because this was the first I’d ever heard of them. $8 is just a leetle steep for a onesie, but I am partial to the idea of baby clothes without logos or phrases. Maybe when Miss Maddy slows down her growing a little bit, I’ll give them a try. If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

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Rosie linked to this article about buying maternity clothes, and it had me in stitches. I’d call it a must-read for anyone who’s experienced the indignity of maternity shopping. When I went to buy jeans while pregnant, the tag helpfully advised me to “Buy the same size you would normally choose (XS, S, M, L, XL).” Ah yes, because my normal jeans come in lettered sizes. Never again, Motherhood!

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I’ve got a few sewing patterns on my wishful list right now, including the Geranium dress for Maddy. It looks simple and versatile enough that I could sew it over and over again. For myself, I think this sundress pattern – in the right fabric – could be made nursing-friendly. I’m doubtful that I’ll get one made up while it’s still sundress weather, but hope springs eternal (as does, well, spring).


It’s Friday! Yay! Visit the happenest place on the internet for more takes.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Summer Travel, Gardening, and Reading

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Well, I’m back home after a last-minute roadtrip/vacation to Minnesota and parts beyond. Two flights to Minnesota, a roadtrip to Kentucky and back, and then a week in MN was precisely what the doctor ordered (not literally) for Maddy and me. She was a real champ on the planes, we got to go to the ordination and first Mass of a good friend, and then we spent lots of time with family.
Thanks to another family that preferred to cram into one row together, Maddy and I ended up with three seats to ourselves.  Super Tripper slept for all but ten minutes of our return flights, which meant that I got to watch most of the Captain America sequel.  US Air, you may not provide snacks, but a choice of free movies is good consolation.

Also, TSA Precheck? A godsend for parents travelling solo. I didn’t have to take my shoes or belt off, my liquids got to stay stowed, and we were able to skip past an insane holiday weekend line at the airport.

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I thought it would be a lot longer before my large “Too Small for Madeleine” box filled up with clothes. At this rate, she’s going to get a storage unit for her first birthday.

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This year’s attempt at a garden is making good progress. I decided to drastically lower my expectations from where they were last year, and only planted herbs and flowers, no vegetables. I didn’t get around to doing anything with it until after Mother’s Day, when I went to Home Depot, picked up some promising seeds, and planted them somewhat randomly. It’s possible that the “drought-loving” California Poppies shouldn’t have gone in with the basil. We’ll see how that ends up. The planter that looks thought-out and well cared for was a birthday present from my sister, who took the time to make sure everything was alive and thriving before she gave it to me. The red geraniums were a Mother’s Day gift from Maddy, and I love them. (No kidding, though – bright red is an impossible color to photograph well. Leave those scarlet dresses on the rack at David’s, bridesmaids.)

My gardening buddy is certainly enjoying her time outside, too.

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Anyone who’s seen me in the last few weeks has had the privilege of hearing me rave about our new diaper covers, but in case you missed out, here it is:

Our size one Thirsties covers were too small, so I ordered new covers from Assunta Store. They only come in one size (with extra snaps to make them really adjustable), they cost half of what we had been paying, and they’re extremely well constructed and durable. Already, they’ve contained several hazardous waste situations. The best part of all is that they’re made in China…by Little Flower Projects, a group that provides care to medically challenging orphans. It’s an organization that we’ve supported for the last couple years, and I’m thrilled to be able to support them in this way as well. Cloth diaper users, this is the best there is.

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I finished a book! Deadlines + library due dates have not worked in my favor lately, but I was bound and determined to finish this one. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and have read the Little House series more times than I can count. I currently have three full sets of the books at home. I’ve been to nearly all of the historical sites associated with the series (Lake Pepin, Walnut Grove, De Smet, Mansfield…what am I missing?). To say that the books played a part in my childhood would be an understatement.

When I first heard about the publication of Pioneer Girl, Laura’s briefer and more accurate memoir, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. Sure, I knew that she had omitted some things from the Little House books, but I didn’t know if I wanted my Little bubble burst. I had lots of time to think about it, anyway, because when I requested the book from the library in November, I was 113th on the wait list. It showed up a few weeks ago, and I jumped in.

In the end, I do highly recommend it. There are lots of interesting stories that didn’t make it into the series (usually for obvious reasons: violent drinkers, serial killers, and some stories with questionable morals would’ve been out of place). The character development and backstory about the publication were fascinating as well. Now that I’ve finished the true version, I’m putting the whole series on my list for a reread.

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Enough said.

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Here’s the Weekly Maddy. She really wants to be crawling, but given her total inability to lift her gut off the ground, I’m guessing we’ve got quite a while. She does pivot pretty effectively, anyway. In the meantime, I don’t mind looking at the dimple of concentration.

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