Philomena: 2 years, 22 months

[Fair warning, this is merely a doting-ish, overly sentimental musing on my daughter's current state.]

Philomena is at *such* a great age. I know I have probably said this about every stage, but well, so be it. Sometimes I just want to bottle up her two-almost-three-year-old-ness and keep it forever in my heart.

I can’t do that, so a blog post will have to do.

- Mena is still introverted and shy, but I find that very sweet. And she is definitely becoming more and more sensitive. Philomena is starting to feel emotions more deeply, but she also gets over them quickly too. And yet, her attention span is seriously longer than mine.

- Contrary to what you might think and much to my dismay, she is really into bugs and all things creepy-crawly. [Except bees. She's dramatically afraid of them. Thank you, Winnie the Pooh.] Nothing excites her more than holding a caterpillar or digging for “wormies.” And this is awful for me, because I have to pretend not to be totally freaked out.  I am terrible at pretending.

not a bug, just an acorn

- She’s kind of klutzy like her Mommy. Like, she can’t catch a ball for the life of her. She just kind of hold her hands there, and when the ball inevitably falls to the ground, she gleefully picks it off the ground and throws it back. [Yes, I realize this is a pretty important gross motor skill. We're working on it. I promise!]

- One of Philomena’s most beautiful traits that I pray she never loses is her extraordinary empathy. I was in the hospital for three weeks [Long blog post to come! Sorry! However, I'm almost all better now.], so Mena’s world was completely turned upside down. Instead of tantrums or defiance, she faced this awful situation with mind-boggling flexibility and compassion. Every time she visited the hospital, she would give me so many “gentle pats,” because she knew I couldn’t hug. If I ever winced in pain (which was a lot), she would exclaim, “I love you sooooo much, Mommy!” Without anyone telling her to do so, she began “helping” me get out of bed, go the bathroom, etc. She would refuse to let anyone else bring me my slippers or water. The sweet nurses began referring to her as “Nurse Philomena,” a reality with which she was quite proud. She would often remind me, “I make you so happy, Mommy.” Indeed.

- About six months ago I remember complaining quite a bit about how she wouldn’t play independently for very long. Oh, how times have changed. Now she is a classic only child who will play by herself in her own little world for significant periods of time. She creates these weird and convoluted scenarios with whatever toys are in front of her. She talks and talks, but usually we have no idea what’s going on in her mind. She pretends certain people are with her (like friends or cousins), and they take trips to the zoo or Aldi or to church to pray for Mommy [we live such an exotic life].


- Since every Mommy blog must have some words about potty training [wink!], I suppose I should mention that Philomena is about 85% potty trained. She still wears a diaper during nap and bedtime, and we don’t plan on changing that anytime soon [sleep is just too precious for that kind of work]. Other than that, accidents are rare nowadays. The credit for this endeavor goes completely to my Mom. We kinda-sorta potty trained all summer, but three weeks with Grandma and bam! that’s it. [I am in denial about how much sugar was used for this feat.]

- I don’t want to pretend it’s all champagne and roses around here. [Is that the right expression?] I mean, Mena’s a toddler, so things have to be *just so* or she gets very upset. Like most toddlers, routine and method are so important to her. It’s infuriating at times, but it also is interesting to see her develop her own little world of logic and rules. And when her expectations *are* interrupted, she usually gets over her dismay very quickly. She outwardly reassures herself with such self-directed promises as, “SOMEDAY I will get to watch Curious George. Maybe after naptime.” Or, “SOMEDAY I will get some candy. Maybe tomorrow.” I refrain from pointing out that “someday” rarely comes about. That life lesson is for another day.

IMG_0016People often say [by "people" I mean random strangers], “oh, she’s sweet now, but just wait until she’s THREE! Three is so much worse than two.” Maybe they’re right, maybe not. Regardless, Ryan and I still are struck almost-daily by just how madly in love we are with this special girl. Our gratitude runs so deep for the gift of her life.

End gushing.

[Unless you want some more. Philomena at two years, 19 months, 16 months, one year.]

meal plan: week of March 9

Sunday- chicken-fried-steak-ish (I am going to attempt arrowroot flour instead of wheat flour) with mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus

Monday- vegetable fried rice (inspiration here), I MAY try to make mine with cauliflower “rice

Tuesday- lettuce wraps (highly adapted from this recipe) with carrot soup

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- black bean and sweet potato burritos (inspiration here) with some veggie side

Friday- soup supper at church

Saturday- hamburgers with oven fries

wake-up call

As I have mentioned before, mornings are my nemesis. I know everyone says they don’t like getting up in the morning, but I really really really really do not.

Philomena still wakes up ridiculously happy. For a few minutes she will leave me alone and usually play by herself or gaze out the window whilst defecating her diaper.

However, an arbitrary moment comes in which Mommy must be out of bed. I don’t know what spurs the thought, but once it is there, she is relentless in her pursuit of this goal.

She employs many methods to accomplish her solemn mission. As she has gotten older, the tactics have become more extreme.

A couple months ago, it was pretty mild. She would walk up to my bed and say, “eat! Eat! Oatmeal! Eggs! Mena eeeeeeeaaaat!” [She knows breakfast is one of the first things we do in the morning, so she tugs at my don't-want-to-deprive-my-child-of-basic-necessities heart strings, so then I would eventually oblige. Of course, when we get downstairs, she refuses to even enter the kitchen and begs for books.]

Then, those pleas were accompanied by throwing my glasses from the nightstand at my face, “sack-es! sack-es!” [translation: glasses]

This process then evolved into sitting on my head, complete with her urine-drenched diaper. Sometimes she even adds a little bounce for greater effect.

She upped her antics again a few weeks ago, when she started yelling, “Sarah! Saaaarah! Saaaarah! Mommy-Sarah! Sarah, UP!”

Aaaaand the culmination of her efforts has become getting out of her pajamas, taking off her soiled diaper, and screaming in my ear (while totally naked), “poopy poopy poopy!!”


I recruited Ryan to document some of this morning’s events.

wake up call 1 wake up call 2 wake up call 3 wake up call 4

[channeling my inner-Mary with the most awkward picture of me ever]

meal plan: week of Feb 3-9

If it was up to me, the menu this week would be soup, soup, soup, soup…but I aim to please the two others in the house, who prefer a little variety.
Monday- lentil soup and roasted broccoli
Tuesday- quinoa Mexican skillet [I add more seasonings and a can of black beans to this recipe] with a salad
Wednesday- ham and beans with roasted brussel sprouts (I think I am also going to try this bread.)
Thursday- family dinner
Friday- breakfast burritos (Ryan and Philomena will have normal tortillas, and I am going to *try* these. We’ll see…)
Saturday- we have family plans
Sunday- eggs and pancakes for breakfast (this or this recipe); something from the freezer for dinner

meal plan: weeks of Jan 5-12; Jan 13-19

Hi! I haven’t done one of these in awhile, but I know I am going to need a little organizational push to get me back into gear once Ryan returns to work tomorrow. :(

I am even doing two weeks worth! A domestic goddess, I am.

Sunday- hummus, falafel, quinoa tabbouleh 

Monday- left-overs

Tuesday- meatloaf and sweet potato fries [note: I am going to attempt replacing the bread in the meatloaf with almond meal. I will let you know how it turns out.]

Wednesday- family plans [I think! If not, a soup from the freezer]

Thursday- family plans…we are celebrating Epiphany with my family, albeit a few days late

Friday- black bean soup and salad

Saturday- chana masala


Sunday- cheeseburger soup from the freezer

Monday- cabbage rolls

Tuesday- crockpot Asian beef with broccoli on the side

Wednesday- Family Dinner

Thursday- crockpot baked potato soup


a morning at the art museum

art 13

Today is the feast day of my patron saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. We like to do something special to celebrate on our feast days, so when Ryan asked a couple days ago what I wanted to do on Saturday, without missing a beat, I exclaimed, “the art museum!”

Since the Wichita Art Museum is free on Saturday, we’ve been meaning to go for months, but something else always seems to come up. This place holds some dear memories for us, because it was the location of our first not-just-hanging-out-as friends, “real” date. We awkwardly held sweaty hands and everything.

Anyway, we’ve been thinking that Philomena might be old enough to enjoy it, and we were right. She was delighted by the random items she was able to identify in the paintings, “horse!” “church!” “grapes!” We even by-passed the admittedly very cool kids area [Mommy and Daddy are paranoid about germs this time of year. I know. Worst parents ever.] If you’ve ever been to the WAM, then you can probably guess her favorite part: walking on the “floor” of beautiful blown-glass. Mena seriously couldn’t get enough.

Their current featured traveling exhibit “Vital Signs” was awful, but everything else made up for it. They even have a “Downton Abbey”-inspired exhibit, the idea of which made me gag and dramatically roll my eyes. But! I actually liked their selections for the exhibition, so I excused the corny concept.

I’d thought I’d share a few pictures, but I don’t have much to say beyond that [and really, let's be honest, pictures are the best part of blogs].

Happy Saturday.

art 2art 1art 3art 4art 5art 6art 9art 7art 10art 14art 11

art 15


two 1

Our Philomena Rose is now TWO.

Last year I was a bit pig-headed and was determined to have her birthday party with our family on the actual day, which is Christmas Day…so, that was a tad overwhelming. Thankfully, this year I lowered my standards a bit, and we celebrated a few days later. This was undoubtedly the better option. It spread out the presents and celebrations, plus I wasn’t stressed Christmas morning trying to get a brunch together.

We served our family an Italian feast, complete with an antipasto spread, lasagna, homemade tiramisu [!!!], and limoncello.

Philomena walked around all day saying, “Paaar-dy! Bir-day paaar-dy! Cake! Happy Bir-day to Meeena!”

2 birthday 1

It was a delightful celebration. We truly are blessed to have such amazing family near us.

birthday collage 2

adorable cake made by my sister

adorable cake made by my sister

birthday collage 3



I wish I was more systematic with my Philomena updates like Elizabeth is with sweet Evie, but alas I am far from methodical. Nevertheless, I will try anyway [complete with pictures that have nothing to do with the text around them].

My daughter, we are enthralled watching you grow and learn. You have such a gentle heart. You are so affectionate with us and with other loved ones. You are quite nurturing with your baby dolls. You constantly wrap them in blankets, sing to them, rock them, and put them down for “night-night.”

You are almost-definitely an introvert. You are not scared of new situations, but you are definitely hesitant and quiet; it takes you quite a while to warm up to people. You are still very even-keeled, a quality you definitely did NOT get from your Mommy. You still haven’t thrown a “major” temper-tantrum, although you are starting to become much more strong-willed. However- at least for now- you actually listen to reason and can be talked down pretty quickly.


You finally got your “word explosion” these past couple months. You are putting together sooooo many three-word and four-word phrases together. I can’t believe I used to worry you would never do so. [Your daddy is always reminding mommy of this important parenting technique.]


Your favorite activity in the whole world is reading books. And your attention span for them is l-o-n-g. Like, longer than your Mommy’s. Every book I think might be “too long” for you, you prove me wrong by sitting attentively through all of it, and then asking for it again!


A close second favorite would be dancing. We have at least four or five dance parties every day. [See the end of this post for a "Philomena Playlist."]

You are counting fairly well, but you always, always, always skip the number 7. Every. Time. And you can recognize and identify probably two-thirds of the alphabet. And you know all of your basic colors.

You have an analytical mind. We just love watching you try to figure out puzzles and other spatially-manipulative toys. It’s as if we can see the wheels turning in that head. Also, you are going through this weird phase in which you are obsessed with circles. You find them all over the house, talk to them, and draw them. Circles weirdly have become your friends. [Maybe you need a tad more socialization? ;)]


You are finally figuring out that food is awesome. You have gained about two pounds in the past three months alone. Now, you are up to the 15th percentile in weight. Wahoo!
Most of the time you still need to be rocked to sleep, but are getting a liiiiittttle better about falling asleep on your own. The reality is that rocking you and cuddling you before nap and bedtime is our favorite moment of the day, so we want to keep doing it at least a little while longer.
Oh, Philomena, you are certainly the light of our lives. We love watching you grow and can’t wait to see the woman you will become, but for now, we are relishing the little girl who you are.
p.s. For P’s birthday party, I made a playlist of all her favorite songs from this year. Most of them are just fun songs to which she had a particular affinity for dancing purposes. A few are songs we started singing to her at night, for whatever weird reason ["I Need My Girl" (Ryan) and, embarrassingly, Lisa Loeb's "Stay" (me).] And a couple are just ones she was drawn to for no apparent reason ["Jolene" anyone?]. Be warned that there are a few obnoxious toddler songs that we just couldn’t avoid. 
Disclaimer: I don’t *think* any of these songs have bad words, but I haven’t read all the lyrcis, so listen at your own risk. Also, you need Spotify to listen, but it’s free and a great program. So there.
p.p.s. Here is her one year reflection, in case you have forgotten.