Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Books Making Me Cry These Days - Library Love

First, thank you to all who left messages and sent notes of congrats about our new little one! It means so much to Paul and I to read your good wishes and encouragement. The first trimester was definitely a struggle, and I often told people during that time that I relied on their excitement about the pregnancy because I was feeling so yucky myself that I found it hard to muster up any feelings other than self-pity.

But of course, now I'm pregnant and feeling ALL the feels. This was made especially clear to me while at the library picking out stories and Maisy books to leave at the library bring home. The little dude brought me a book to read and the last page brought me to tears - and of course, brought him much confusion. So we've had the conversation, more than twice now, that "sometimes Mommy cries tears of joy." The wee girl is quite entertained by it all and tries to make the waterworks come on by demand: "Mommy, read this book now!" But you know, that's the lovely thing about hormones - you hardly get to control when/how they will effect you. So she doesn't often get her wish. (Ha ha, little one.) OK, on to the books!

Is Mommy?

This is the one that got me crying in the library. It's a simple book, asking children questions about their mommies: "Is Mommy tall or short?" And of course the children, being children, answer with all the least flattering choices. "Short!" "Boring!" "Old!"  But do you love your mommy? Resounding YES!! (Cue the tears.) The little dude loves this one for the audience participation.

The Baby Sister

So, you know who's on the shelf below Maisy? Tomie dePaola! I credit Read Aloud Revival to turning me onto him - or maybe reintroducing me to him, as I definitely remember reading some of his books when I was a kid. In any case, while the wee girl is perusing her selection of Maisy books, I glance through the TdP ones, and of course, this one caught my eye. It's an autobiographical story of Tomie welcoming his baby sister Maureen home, and the ending line could not be sweeter: "And Tommie was the happiest boy in the world." I love this one because it presents the arrival of a new sibling with joy and anticipation, rather than with trepidation of how things will change. Not that I don't think those stories have their place, but this one is just so comforting and feel good that both kids love it and will ask me to read it over and over.

Hello In There!

I picked this book up when I was pregnant with the little dude, so of course, as I read it to him I get all misty-eyed remembering how I used to read it to his sister when she was just about the same age. The illustrations show a little girl waiting and wondering about her new baby sibling, while her mother's tummy gets bigger and bigger with every turn of the page. But what makes it especially fun are the little flaps on the mommy's tummy that open to reveal the baby inside. It works great for the 2-4 year old range for that reason.


OK, when I cried at the end of this one we were all baffled. It's a story about a pig! And has nothing to with expecting a baby sibling! Clearly, this was all hormones. But the energetic piglet just captured my heart, and her "I love you anyway too," hit me in just the same spot as all the kids loving their mommy in "Is Mommy?" (I guess that part of my heart must be especially tender from the repeated readings of that book.) Worth a checkout, especially if you have an energetic little who can "really wear people out."

It's been rather therapeutic to read so many books that let the "tears of joy" flow... so what books make you cry? Or what books might you recommend reading to little ones expecting a new sibling?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Easter and NEW Life - My Sunday Best - 03

There were so many reasons I was looking forward to Easter this year - and (rather amazingly) they weren't all related to ending the Lenten fast! Actually, I think what brought me the most joy this year was related to the almsgiving part of Lent. Because of the plan for giving that I had made*, I was able to give freely and generously to the people and causes near and dear to my heart. The "free" part was what brought the most joy. I didn't even have to think twice about giving - I could just do it. So I'll definitely be thinking about how to somehow continue that through the year.

But mostly, I was looking forward to Easter to celebrate and share the New Life God brings...

Bump as of 13 weeks... or 14 depending on who you consult ;)

Here's announcing Baby #3, due to arrive end of October! Like with the wee girl - who was also due end of October - I am still hoping this one will *not* be a Halloween baby, but an All Saints baby would be cool.

(Oh, and to make this officially a MSB - the maternity skirt is compliments of my younger sister and the top is from Kohl's.)

At first, we were planning on surprising my husband's father with the news... we're seeing him in June and I thought the sight of me waddling off the plane would be a fun "Surprise! You have a new grandbaby on the way!" But then I found that trying to keep this information off the internet was even more of a mortification than the fast from my morning "cuppa". So after sharing the news with him yesterday, I gave my hubby a high five and got to work on this post. ;)

So I hope, now that I've shared this, I can get back to writing a little bit more. There were so many things I wanted to share during Lent - but because almost all of them had to do with being pregnant and since we were trying to keep that a surprise - I felt stymied. I suppose though, that it was probably for the best that I didn't post much anyway... the first trimester for me is pretty miserable and I'm sure most of the posts would have been just a outlet for complaining. And that ain't encouraging for anyone to read!

Oddly enough, Rosie's got a "new family member" announcement on her blog too - do stop by and congratulate her as well!

*For the curious, I did a "reverse" tithe with the money I make from tutoring students in math: giving away 90% and keeping 10%. While not as stringent as A Gentle Mother's Buy Nothing Lent, it did kinda end up taking on that flavor, as I realized that's what most of my income goes towards. And of course, I won't take credit for coming up with this plan - I really feel God led me to it.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

4 Weeks Down... 2 to Go!

So, guess what? We are more-than-officially past the halfway point in Lent! Can I get a "Woohoo!" I don't think I have ever been so relieved to see the finish line on the horizon before. This has been just such a "Lent-y" Lent. Translation: I have never felt so physically run down, while simultaneously denying myself the usual comfort measures (caffeine, some kind of baked good, etc...) So, does this mean that my Lenten practices are being effective at helping "mortify the flesh?" Or is it not doing anything mortifying in the least, since all I can focus on is the "mortifying" part and not so much the "spiritual closeness" part? (The jury is still out on this one.)

In any case, I'm taking today to remind myself that even though I'm not quite meeting all the plans I had for myself (like those Friday-Stations of the Cross-picnics? Hasn't happened yet.) this doesn't mean that I'm a failure - and it CERTAINLY doesn't mean that God loves me any less. (And we of course, also know the flipside would be true too: if I *was* meeting all my plans for myself, God wouldn't love me anymore for it either).

It's kind of like an incident that happened at Mass today. After the presentation of the gifts, Father was trying to open the decanter and he just couldn't. He started like normal...
"Blessed are you..."
*yanks harder*
*starts to chuckle*
"OK, I'm having a hard time here..."

He was just about to give up, when the altar server got up and pulled the stopper out for him.
(Girl altar server, FTW!)

We were all laughing at that point. It was just too good. Of course, with the decanter freed, we continued on as normal - til the end of Mass, when Father had another surprise for us:

A post shared by Sara Rooney (@rooney.sara) on

Gotta love our church. Even Father said it (and I'm paraphrasing here), "You know, I could try and keep things serious here, but that just isn't Holy Spirit parish."  Which is true. I mean, we're Catholic - beautiful liturgy, statues, holy water and all. But we also have pink flamingos in the pond next to our meditation garden. *shrug* What ya gonna do? I guess, we just can't be bothered to take ourselves too seriously.

So that's where I'm at, at this point in Lent. Still fasting, praying and giving - but not beating myself up for all the other ways of fasting/praying/giving that I'm not getting done. Lord willing, I'll attempt them before the season is up but regardless, I will rest in the love that He has for me. I hope and pray that will be the "better choice."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Lint-y Lent - My Sunday Best - 02

Has this happened to you? I was listening to a podcast earlier this week and I almost had to stop it midway because I was going crazy hearing the podcaster say "Lent". Not because she was overusing the word (I mean, it was an episode about Lent after all) but because she was saying it like "lint."

"Lint is coming!"

Well, turns out the joke is on me because MSB left me absolutely covered in the stuff - so really the podcaster was right after all. I should have listened (and been prepared with a roller/brush).

Poncho: from my mom, Jeans: from Target

In other Mass-related news, today's kid antics were sufficiently blush-inducing. I had almost hoped that having my parents in town would help make mass attendance better, but I quickly learned after Ash Wednesday's service that having Grammy and Poppy next to my children doesn't help them behave much better at all. Alas. So anyway, I went into Mass today with normal expectations. And things were going normally until the little dude started his requests for "boo time" (nursing time). He's not asked for this for a LOOOONG time, but he did it on Wednesday and it made Poppy laugh, so I think he was trying it again for the reaction. But when it didn't work, he went over to my husband, climbed up into his lap and then told the people behind us, "Mommy has boobies and I have boobies!"

Oh child. Glad you're learning anatomy.

Not to be outdone, the wee girl also wanted her chance in the spotlight and she timed it for Communion.

"Mommy, I want one of the breads that's round and has a cross in it that Fr. Ron gives."
"Oh, yes, you want that? It is very special. That's the bread that Fr Ron asks God to change into the Body of Christ. You need to prepare yourself for that, and we prepare ourselves by taking a class. So once you take the class you can have Communion with us. But until then, remember, Fr. Ron also gives you special blessed bread after Communion."
"But Mommy I want the round one with the cross on it."
"Honey, it's special and you have to prepare yourself. Come on. It's time to go up."

So of course, she goes up and receives a blessing from Father but then when I turned to go, I didn't notice that she stayed in front of him. Waiting for the bread. That, of course, he wasn't going to give her. So I grabbed her hand and pulled her away at which point she threw herself down on the floor and started crying.

Oh my sweet girl. Bless your heart (really. Not like in that patronizing way.)

Friends, what would you have said in that situation? Anything you would add? (Or not say? I need that too). I don't know that she fully understands what's going on, but she obviously is paying attention and since this is actually the second week that she has said this, I don't think it's an issue that's going to go away - not that I really want it to, but I do at least want to help her understand better.

In any case, all was made right when she got both a mini-bagel and a pizza from our favorite fast food place afterwards. (It doesn't take much when you're a 4-year old I guess.)

Sharing a strawberry milkshake with Dad probably helps too.

There's more good stuff happening over at Rosie's! And if you got any pointers for next week, lemme know!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Get Ready for Lent, cuz Surprise! It's here!

I'm approaching Lent with a strange mixture of (happy) anticipation and dread this year. I think it might be because last year's Lent, even though it was the first time I had really ever observed it, seemed to go so well. Now that we're doing this a second time around, I wonder if I'll be able to rise to the occasion.

Ha ha. Pride. You nasty bugger you. Well, at least now we know one thing I'll need to be confessing this year...

(This was going to be a post for JEI, but since it looks like that may not be happening anymore, will you consider saying a prayer for Alicia and her family? This post is offered for her.)

What has worked for you or your family to make Lent meaningful?

Last year, on each Friday of Lent I packed a picnic lunch and took the kids to our church to do our own little Stations of the Cross. We would look at the picture for each station, I would explain what was going on/say a prayer to go with the station and then move on. By the end the wee girl was able to identify almost all the people in the pictures, so I think that was meaningful? I certainly gained an appreciation/awe for all that Jesus endured out of love for us. I'm going to try and do it again, but since this year the little dude is well...2 instead of 1 and *far* more mobile, I'm wondering how it might go down. Ah well, it's church right? He couldn't get into that much trouble could he? #famouslastwords

This year we're also going to try Nancy's Jesus Tree. The little girl is *still* talking about how she misses her Jesse tree - though I'm quite sure that's just because she misses the lights - so we'll see how this one goes over. (And if you read my last post - we're doing the paper one people! Definitely not the felt one. Though if anyone wants to go ahead and make me a set of those I would totally be on board with accepting it. :) )

What’s your go-to meatless meal?

Honestly? Taco night with refried beans instead of meat (we love these (not an affiliate link. Just FYI)) and then fish nuggets with broccoli. But I do have a few other easy meals, like this Sweet Potatoes with Beans and Greens or the Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Spinach below (it's easy! Promise! The ingredients list just looks long because of all the spices.)  Should you be interested, you can also find a list of all my "Friday Abstaining" meals here.

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Wild Rice Bowl with Red Lentil-Coconut Curry and Spinach

  • 1 cup wild rice (or brown, I use brown)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or butter or coconut oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (or a 1/4 tsp dried ginger, if using add with other spices)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste (like this one)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 3 12 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves tightly packed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 12 cup Greek yogurt
  • 14 cup cilantro leaves (lightly packed) to garnish
  1. Prepare the wild rice according to the package instructions. Most wild rice takes about 45 minutes to become tender; you can also make it a few days ahead so it's ready when you need it.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat the ghee in a large saucepan with tall sides over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly golden and soft. Add in the minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the red lentils, red curry paste, tomato paste, and spices, and cook until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the lentils and broth reach a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Before serving, fold in the fresh spinach leaves, and pour in the coconut milk. At this point, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning according to your liking; add more salt or cayenne, if needed.
  4. To serve, divide the wild rice equally into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with the curry, a dollop of yogurt, and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.

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Do you count Sundays as being part of Lent?

I'll have to defer to Kendra of Catholic All Year for this one, as I had no idea this was even a question! I just figured that your fast continued on Sunday because, well, it's still Lent. But nope. Read all about it here. (Really! It's quite informative)

What will you be doing for Lent this year?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

(Only a little) Library Love

Our days at the library have been a bit like (an unnamed toddler's) use of the potty... regular, but a little too quick to accomplish much good, or in fact, leave the place "better than we found it" *AHEM*.

Sorry. Was that TMI?

Nevertheless, despite our quick in and outs we have managed to score some really good deals*! You may notice a bit of a love theme, so feel free to tag this post for February 14th next year (sorry I couldn't help you out for this year).

Mama Loves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
This one was so sweet! I loved how the rhymes all began with "Mama loves..." and ended with  "and ___ with me!" It was actually a book that I could see a homeschooling mom appreciate in particular, since it seemed that the mama in this book is doing a lot of homeschool-y things. But there was one scene of the mama going to a coffee shop - and at least *that* one fit me pretty well.

Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda
Picked this one up on a recommendation from Carrots for Michaelmas - loved the artwork and the story. But the kids just couldn't/wouldn't get into it. Shelve it for next year I guess.

The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh
A sweet tale of a hedgehog who mishears some animals say "[A] Friend ship is out there. You just have to look!" and then goes on a voyage to find the mythical friend ship. The ending makes me LOL and I'm not sure the wee girl understands why, but she still likes the story a lot. The little dude seems to like it too.

My Dad by Charles Fuge
This one... what can I say? I swear the pictures were originally of gorillas and then at the last minute edited to be bears. And it (inexplicably) takes place in a tropical jungle/woodland forest that grows both bananas and carrots (or maybe they're parsnips?) Is that even possible? I don't think so.
Clearly I'm far too picky. Because the story completely appeals to the little dude, and he loves to have it read to him at nap. And it is a cute little book. So... good for 2 year olds, but bad for picky mamas who would like their picture books to have some accurate details in them.

The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner
Ok, not exactly part of the love theme (but maybe we can construe it to be?) This is my current read and I can say it's much better than the author's "Geography of Bliss". I picked it up because of the author's stated intention for why he would go on a search for the world's most creative places:
"Am I hoping that some of the genius I encounter will rub off on me? Sure, but I am middle-aged, and any hopes of my becoming the next Einstein or Leonardo have long since disappeared, along with my hair. But my daughter--nine years old and brimming with brightness and infinite possibility--is another story. There is still hope for her and what parent doesn't secretly wish that his or her child might become the next Darwin or Marie Curie? ...Family has variously been called a clan, a tribe... but it is also a microculture, one that we shape more directly, and profoundly, than any other. Like all cultures, family can either cultivate creativity or squelch it. This is a big responsibility if you think about it, which is precisely why, up until now, I've avoided thinking about it. But that is about to change. Creativity, like charity, begins at home."
See? There's the tie-in to love. *wink* I'm not saying I'm trying to raise the next Marie Curie over here, but cultivating a love of learning has been on my mind a lot and I just wonder if this book might have any take-aways. I'll let you know. (If you remind to. I'm notorious about forgetting to write down insights and such.)

*And now for our super sweet deal that we got from the library! Over on IG I posted a pic about all the things I found while looking for the lost CD part of a book/CD combo:
Not a bad stash. But missing CD it is not.
So I sucked it up and went in to ask how much to pay for the missing CD, and the result? They marked the whole combo as lost, so I could keep the book for $5! I'm still holding out hope that the CD will show up, because if not my "awesome" deal will actually have cost me $1.05 more than if I just bought the book on Amazon. OK kids... time to find the CD...

What did you check out this week? Feel free to share here, or over with the Mighty Miss Alicia at Sweeping Up Joy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On Falling Behind...

Am I the only one who feels like I'm not doing enough of the right things?

I cook. I clean. I shuttle the wee girl to preschool. I try to get us out of the house in the morning. We have a weekly date with the library. I do the grocery shopping and help make/keep the budget.


I fear the kids aren't eating enough any vegetables. I fear the wee girl is having too much screen time. I worry I'm not providing a rich learning/playing environment for the wee ones (read "Crafts? What crafts?") I mean, I freaking gave my boy a full cup of tea this morning. (Oh the look I got from my husband when he found out... not pleased, he was. Not. Pleased.)

How does a mom cope with all these things? I mean, really? I'm trying to figure out what to be concerned about and what to let go. But it honestly feels like everything is important and I'm stuck. I don't know what to change, much less how to change.

Lest you (or I) think that's it's all doom and gloom over here, I do like to look at these pictures and remind myself that we all are still growing with and loving each other.

Having fun at the children's museum!

Somehow got color-coordinated for Mass! #mysundaybest

Still nervous to take it out on the *real* street, but I'm learning!

I hope that counts for something? Gotta admit I feel like Kathleen Kelly and "just want to send this cosmic question out into the void," but I'll go ahead and ask:

How do you handle the doubts and struggles of being a parent?