meal plan: week of July 30

I know I’ve been quite remiss with these the past couple weeks. Our meals have been a bit “off,” primarily because Ryan was in Mexico last week.

After a major freezer purge, I am ready to get back on the meal-planning bandwagon.

Monday- curried red lentil and swiss chard soup (I’ll add some summer squash to it, just because I have so much); green salad on the side [Yeah, yeah…I know. Soup in over-100-degree weather is not normal.]

Tuesday- gazpacho, inspired (veeeeeerrrrry loosely) by this recipe; bean and cheese quesadillas (or maybe burritos)

Wednesday- stuffed zucchini with Italian sausage, marinara, and mozzarella

Thursday- family dinner

Friday- black bean soup; zucchini fries- inspiration here and here

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defined

To warn you, this blog post may get a tad deep [for me, at least] and perhaps a little rambling. If you’re not in that kind of mood, I totally get it. Might I recommend gazing on some cute kitties in real time instead? 

The other night I was procrastinating going to bed. [Am I the only one who gets “too tired” to go to bed? My husband certainly thinks it’s a freakish anomaly of mine.] And so, I delved into the most advanced time wasting device modern man has to offer. [You may know it as “Facebook.”] For some reason, I examined my own profile, which is rare, a shocking reality in the face of the embarrassing amount of time I spend unabashedly stalking “networking” on FB.

And what did I discover upon investigating myself? I have a baby. And apparently this baby is the only thing going on in my life. Evidence: a status update about teething, a tag in a video of my daughter waking up, a picture of said baby eating a crucifix, a tag in a video of baby scooting, a ridiculous picture of the baby hanging from the pull-up bar…you get the idea.

And let’s not even talk about my instagram feed, in which truth-in-advertising would demand my user name to be “menaunfilitered.” [I have a friend who likes to remind me that when I was pregnant I said something along the lines of, “those women who post hundreds of pictures of their children are just over the top. I might share one or two every once in a while.” Ha. Hello, Over the Top, my name is Sarah. I’d like to join you.]

My first reaction to seeing my own FB page was, “maybe I should post a profound quote or Scripture verse or political news article, so people know I’m still intelligent and my brain hasn’t converted to Mommy mush.” I quickly nixed that idea, because really, it was pretty contrived and vain, even for me.

However, as I thought about the page more, for some reason I got a pit in my stomach, and I thought, “Is my very self now defined by my child?” Am I no longer “Sarah,” but rather “Mother of Philomena”? And, “Did this naturally arise from motherhood or have I forced it upon myself?”

I don’t have an answer to these questions yet, but they certainly provoked me to examine my experiences of the past seven months. At the risk of sounding corny, I can honestly say hands-down these have been the best months of my life. I’m not some kind of idealist who remembers during my day-to-day-ness the holy vocation of marriage and motherhood. Most days I’m probably complaining about teething or not being able to wear necklaces, because she chews on them. [Yes, my problems are big.] And living on one modest income is tough. Very tough. 

And yet, amidst this, I am happy. So, so, so, happy. [Imagine me saying that in sing-songy voice with a bluebird next to me.] When I was pregnant and we made the decision that I wouldn’t go back to work full-time [no, I don’t think that’s the right decision for everyone, but it’s what we discerned was the best for our family right now], I was scared, completely freaked. I spent most of my pregnancy with anxiety that I would get bored at home with a baby, that I would feel under-challenged, that I would miss full-time teaching too much. I was afraid people would judge me for not “using” my advance degrees. [By “people” I mean myself.]

Aaaaand, like most anxiety, it was all for naught. I’m afraid I’m sounding all sugary, but I truly, deeply love being a Mother. I almost feel guilty that this gets to be my job. And yet, I am grateful. Many women close to my heart long for motherhood, but lack of husband prospects or infertility stand in the way. My heart aches for them, and I desperately pray I will never take this gift for granted.

Returning to the night of the Facebook profile dilemma, I tried to remember what my page looked like a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. Even fondly reminiscing through my rose-colored glasses at my fancy-free single life, I have to acknowledge that my page probably didn’t consist of things that much more exciting than a baby learning how to crawl. Most likely, I had statuses about things like “Margarita Thursday” [truth be told, I’d love to have a mid-week night out with my Atlanta besties again] and going to see some cliche indie concert [I miss you, Joshua Radin] or my latest “Lost” theory [RIP]. And definitely there were pictures of me in significantly more fashionable clothes and accessories, no doubt. [Oh, expendable money, how I long for thee.]

As a single person, I felt very defined by the things I did– teaching, friendships, young adult groups- and most likely my online self reflected this. Single-ness in and of itself is difficult to be defined by, simply because it is by its nature a lack of something. And that’s okay. Often it is good to lack something. I know my 20s lacked a husband and baby, but they were filled with truly amazing experiences that helped form me and prepare me for my life now.

And this life is very different. I can’t do whatever I want; my life is not my own. I am Ryan’s wife. I am Philomena’s mother. And yet, in this “limiting” of self, I have actually found a freedom of identity. It’s as though I was always meant to be defined as “mother.”

But, you know, even in my unattached single days I was never my own. I was always His beloved. That is, indeed, the most defining of identities. And correspondingly, the most freeing.

This probably didn’t make much sense. And I’m fine with that. Excuse me while I go take a picture of my daughter waking up from her nap.

deeply important [not really] updates

I’ve been meaning to write about the non-stop, action-packed thrills here in the land of board books, scooting, and vegetables, so I was going to jump on the 7 Quick Takes bandwagon yesterday, but I decided to go shopping instead. This was clearly a mistake, as the picture below will show.

I actually bought that atrocity to wear to a wedding (!), but thankfully the instagram community knocked some sense into me. I shall return it today. [Actually, it will probably stay on my bedroom floor for another 3 to 4 weeks until I can muster the will to leave the house.] Do you ever have a difficult time deciding whether something is superbly cute or just plain ugly? For me, it’s actually a fine line that I traipse on a regular basis; really, I can go either way on any given day.

[UPDATE: I’m not totally crazy for buying that skirt. See here. It’s kind of the same style. Right?]

Because all of you care deeply about my life, here are some updates:

a. On the 4th of July, Philomena decided to declare her own independence by sitting up all by herself for the first time. Actually, she’s been pretty much doing it for a while now, but always required something to keep her balance, but amidst the potato salad and fireworks, she suddenly could do it on her own.

b. My sister calls this the “golden age” of babies, because they can sit up (which really is more fun- not sure why), but don’t crawl yet. However, you wouldn’t know this from her extraordinary ability to be mobile via scooting/rolling. [Excuse the heinous drool in the picture below. We are raising a Saint Bernard.]

c. To add to the facts-no-one-cares-about-but-my-mother-who-doesn’t-even-read-this-blog, Mena is obsessed with paper. She’ll have a myriad of toys and books and blankets surrounding her, but somehow she’ll see the little slip of a receipt across the room and wiggle her way to it at an oddly fast pace and will put it in her mouth, then I’ll have to fish out the little limp specs of saliva-laden grossness. [This step particularly annoys me, because I have this weird aversion to baby gums.] Her love of paper is surpassed only by her love of adult toes. [I might just get desperate enough one day to wrap my toes in paper just to see what will happen. I lead an exciting life.] The picture below shows books about to be mined for their paper resources. It also reveals our low-brow reading selections as of late, along with the fact we don’t dress our daughter all-too-often.

d. My husband is making me watch all the Batman movies since 1989, in anticipation of The Dark Knight Rises opening next Friday. The movies are all very long and full of weird people. That’s my assessment. Ryan is giving a more intelligent analysis over on his blog. Since he started this Batman “series” he has been getting all sorts of hits from the most random of countries like Algeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Netherlands, and South Africa. [I guess there are nerds all over the world.] The only foreign countries that show up for me are Canada [hi, Kathryn!] and Belize [hi, Cathleen!].

e. To assuage the pain of watching the worst movie ever made, Batman & Robin [I think even Ryan might agree with that description], I made these chocolate zucchini cookies. So. Very. Good. I used all whole wheat pastry flour and honey instead of agave nectar. [Although I love me some agave, we are currently out of it. I am eagerly awaiting the next Azure delivery.] We paired the cookies with one of the homebrews my husband and brother-in-law created- berry wheat.

f. After our highly successful first attempt at getting Philomena into the pool, I tried again this week. This time at least she didn’t scream out in fear. Score.

g. So, we finally actually contacted a real estate agent to begin this house-searching process officially. We’ve been putting it off, mostly because our rent is ridiculously cheap. Also, it’s much more fun to dream-search online, as opposed to the reality of the situation. However, with a mobile baby our teeny place is starting to feel the size of a dollhouse. Not to mention the fact I had to call 911 three times about illegal, loud, very late-night fireworks from our conscientious neighbors. [St. Joseph, pray for us.]

h. The whole time I’ve been typing this, Ryan has been trying to get a cranky Philomena to sleep. I give him sympathetic glances, but then continue to type. I’m a loving wife and mother like that.

i. Enjoy your weekends! Stay cool. Or not, if you like this heat from the pits of ghenna.

[I’m going to tag this post with “batman” to see if I can get some statistics action from the Middle East and Africa too. Our marriage really is a blog competition.]

sacrificial love

I was going to write a frivolous post today about Philomena’s new ability to sit up by herself for long periods of time, but then I was stopped dead in my tracks by this blog post.

My old friend Alison and her husband have been eagerly awaiting the birth of their adopted daughter with spina bifida. After spending one precious week with Seraphina Caritas, the birth mother decided to take her back.

I can’t even begin to imagine their heartache, but even more than the pain I feel for Alison,  I am completely, utterly moved and humbled by her witness of sacrificial love and forgiveness.

Please, please read this. And pray for Alison and her beautiful family.

meal plan: week of July 9

Monday- leftover homemade pizza (last night I made one with spinach and one with bacon and tomato)

Tuesday- gazpacho (inspiration here) with black beans and rice on the side

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- appetizer night: baba ghanoush; bruschetta; kale chips; chicken satay (lots of inspiration here, here, and here). I might try some homemade whole wheat French bread

Friday- pasta with basil pesto and sautéed zucchini

Saturday- Ryan has dinner plans (yeah, I know), so we’ll see what I end up serving myself, but it will most definitely involve yellow summer squash, because that’s the only veggie I didn’t find a way to use in this weekly plan

a week of CSA in pictures: vol. 1

One of my intentions of this blog was to do a weekly feature, in which I described how we used our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. We are very blessed this year to have amazing, organic produce from Fiat Farm, owned by friends-of-friends, and I wanted to show how we used all these yummy (yet sometimes obscure) veggies.

However, I soon realized that this brilliant plan was sneakily similar to my weekly meal plans, so I 86-ed that idea.

Anyway…I thought I’d still give you a glimpse of our produce usage through [very poorly taken] pictures.

Monday: caprese salad, featuring yellow tomatoes and a simple bean soup featuring kale, swiss chard, and onions (along with some juliet tomatoes from our garden)

Tuesday: bulgar and feta stuffed yellow summer squash with red onionsgreen beans, sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes

Friday: whole wheat spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil; sauteed zucchini and summer squash with garlic. [I took this picture halfway through the meal. We had my parents over, and when I realized I hadn’t yet captured this dinner, I shot out of my seat and proceeded to snap a picture. I tried to explain it was for my blog, but I still don’t think they understood, even though my dad has made two prominent appearances here. And I totally meant to include the lovely power cords in the background.]

Saturday: sauteed chicken breast (seasoned with a garam masala blend) with rice, topped with braised radishes. [I happen to love raw radishes, but I know they can have too strong of flavor for some people. I’d never attempted cooking them before, but wow, oh wow, these were simply delicious. The flavor had totally mellowed into something delectable.]

So, there you go. I titled this post “vol. 1” with the grand intention of doing this photo series again sometime. We’ll see if that actually happens.

crazy days (a shameless plug)

My pinterest boards really should be re-titled, “things I want my big sister to make for me.” Marie has always been the craftier of our siblingship. [Nope, I’m not jealous. Not at all.]

And thus, Hobby Lobby must have been rejoicing when I had my baby, and “the baby” turned out to be a girl, the gender much better-suited to tulle, lace, and ribbon. In fact, my sister brought a handmade headband-bow to the hospital before Philomena was even 48 hours old.

And the creativity didn’t stop there. Not by a longshot. My baby has been clad with adorable leg warmers, tutus, and other such ridiculousness throughout her six months. Her outfits prompted my friend Alison [you may know her as the twitter sensation “alisongriz] to coin the phrase (and ensuing hashtag) #hipsterbaby. Instagram-ed proof:

Everyone kept telling Marie, “you should totally sell this stuff.” She’d always humbly reply, “oh, no, I just do this for fun!” Finally, however, she jumped on the capitalism bandwagon, took the entrepreneurial crazy pills, and began her business: MollieMaes.

I know I’m a tad biased, but her products are awesome. Take a gander and see for yourselves.

If you live in Wichita, the items are featured in July at The Cottage Collective, a you-will-want-to-purchase-everything-you-see boutique, near Central and Hillside in the Green Elephant Village.

If you don’t reside in the ICT or don’t like to leave your house, ever [like me], I encourage you to check out her website, or go directly to the MollieMaes Etsy store.

My husband graciously took pictures of product for the internets. The night of the photoshoot we were chasing the delicate dusk light and furiously throwing the items around in our hasty attempt to get all the pictures shot. We were neglecting our little model, then looked over to see her covered in MollieMaes product. The result:

Ha, anyway… I’m so proud of you, Marie! I want to be just like you when I grow up. [Like that’ll ever happen.]