DIY: a baby’s book of faces

Alright, the “DIY”  in the title is a bit of a misnomer. This is more of a simple idea than a do-it-yourself situation.

Like most babies her age, Philomena absolutely loves faces. Whenever one shows up in  her chew toys board books she smiles, touches it, and often yelps a little in glee. Also, I’ve heard that developmentally this is a good time to start pointing out “eyes,” “noses,” etc.

So, at first I had the idea to cut out a bunch of faces from magazines and somehow put them together in a book for her. However, then I thought that it would make much more sense to have a collection of faces that feature people close to her.

I recruited my husband to take good facial shots of everyone in our family (her grandparents, great-grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins). Then, I used my BFF, pixlr express, to overlay everyone’s names on the pictures.

I found a cheapo photo album from Target (silver glitter, no less!)…and voila! Philomena’s “Face Book.” [Please excuse this terrible, horrendous pun of a title.]

Mena seriously loves it. She touches the faces and ”talks” to them. It’s superbly cute. I also thought this book would be cool to use during family prayer time when she gets older to point out everyone for whom we’re praying.

The book:

Some sample pages:

Philomena enjoying it:

But then she noticed the camera:

[Can you tell I’m into collages lately?]


weekend wrap-up: otherwise known as the four days we ate way too much food

So, I’ve been working on an extremely long, overly ramble-y post, filled with details important to no one. I’m going to attempt to edit it down to the highlights [using my ever-cheating method of bullet points] before I am interrupted by a baby crawling to the power cord to chew on it … or to a little piece of paper to chew on it … or to her dirty diaper to chew on it. Mena is very creative in her endeavors.

– Ryan’s birthday “weekend” [aka four days of shameless borderline-gluttony] began on Thursday when we celebrated with my family and his parents. I made this lasagna that Erika recommended. It was seriously delicious. The only step I’d add is to drain the meat/veggie mixture before adding the wine, water, and tomato paste. My sister suggested I do this, but I ignored her and insisted the grease would evaporate away with the water. It didn’t. Unless you like sopping up grease with garlic bread [um, okay, admittedly that was pretty awesome], don’t be prideful like me and listen to your wiser older sister.

The star of the meal, however, happened at the end. Ryan requested my father make his famous “Irish coffee.” This treat is usually reserved for St. Patrick’s Day, but well, my parents love Ryan and are happy he became my husband over some of the hoodlums I dated in my 20s [“hoodlum” in this case is defined as anyone not living in Kansas], so they happily obliged. My family is pretty big on rituals and tradition, and this is no exception. My parents have these special glasses that are only used for this process. [In fact, the first anniversary gift my mom gave my dad when they were young and poor was two of these glasses. They have added onto the collection over the years.] First, my dad swipes the rim with a lime and sugar. Then, he pours in a shot-ish of Irish whiskey. After that, he heats the glass over a flame and actually lights the whiskey on fire. It’s pretty awesome. The picture below doesn’t do it justice. Then, my mom asks “regular or decaf?” and pours in the coffee. She tops it with homemade whipped cream and crème de menthe and hands it to you with a cloth napkin, lest you hurt your hand on the heat.

My sister and I both remember our first “real” Irish coffee after we turned 21. As kids, we were only allowed a mug of decaf coffee with the whipped cream and crème de menthe. And so, the first true Irish coffee experience was a rite of passage, undoubtedly. And Ryan definitely felt “officially” part of the family when he had his first one. Sometimes I wonder what “rituals” Ryan and I will pass onto our kids. [I hope they involve alcohol and flames.] We both firmly embrace the worldview of the sacramentality of life, in that the physical, tangible realities here on earth can image and point to higher, ethereal truths. And rituals, even the most mundane, are all part of this vision of life.


– Why have I not been making zucchini fries for all of my life? Do it. Recipe inspiration here.

– Ryan and I tried to get into “Once Upon a Time,” but I think it should be re-named “Once Upon a Boring.” Blah. Does anyone out there watch this series? Does it get better after the first two episodes?

– We also checked out “White Collar” (available on Netflix streaming). Not bad. Although, I am embarrassed to like a USA Network original series. Maybe I shouldn’t have included this bullet point.

– Picture taken on the morning of Ryan’s day-of-30. As you can tell, they both look thrilled with my “smile for the phone!”

– This immodestly naked picture was taken after a total-body diaper blow-out. Like, the number 2 variety was from toes-to-head. We had to deal with this situation in the Target parking lot. Joy. [Say what you will about cloth diapers, but we’ve never had a blow-out with them. She happened to be wearing a disposable with this particular incident.]

– As expected, Ryan chose the grossest of gross, yet amazingest of amazing Chinese food for his actual-birthday dinner. We made it classy by downing this extraordinary wine. It was *so good* (thank you, in-laws!). We channeled our inner 14-year-olds and viewed The Hunger Games. In fact, it was released on Ryan’s actual day, so he stayed up until midnight the night before to ensure a Redbox reservation for said movie. I absolutely loved it, but my husband did not think it lived up to the highly nuanced literary genius of Suzanne Collins.

– On Sunday, Ryan’s parents had us over to celebrate. More delicious food. Lots of overly-hoppy beers. I made these strawberry lemonade bars for the second time. New favorite go-to summer dessert. (Thank you, Elizabeth, for the recipe!) Ready to go over to Grammie Kamie’s and Grandpa Gary’s:

– Sunday night, Ryan and I spent some quality time out on our “stoop.” We reminisced and got all deep about our lives, while he enjoyed a nice cigar. Our idyllic moment was only interrupted by our neighbor’s tearing apart a couch. Yup. There have been these three sofas sitting in their driveway for weeks now. We couldn’t figure out why, until last week when their teen-age-ish sons began loudly destroying them one-by-one. Of course, they choose to do this late at night, near the window where our baby sleeps. My smarty-pants husband said it reminds him of Graham Greene’s short story, “The Destructors.” Oh, did I mention in a week we close on our house far, far away from these neighbors? Evidence of destruction (the morning after):

– With all this food and literary talk I forgot to mention that Philomena actually clapped (instead of just hitting her stomach in glee) for the first time Thursday night and pretty much hasn’t stopped yet. Although she’s been army crawling for quite some time now, and she likes to go up on her hands and tip-toes, she actually did the “official” crawling thing for the first time on Friday. Very exciting stuff.

– I returned to once-a-week teaching. Ryan now has Mondays off of work, so he gets some quality alone time with our Little Lady, which is delightful for both of them, I’m sure. Some of you told me that you thought this recent ramble-y post meant that I wasn’t teaching on Mondays anymore. I apologize for the confusion. Yes, I am still working for part of a day, once a week. However, since it accounts for such a small percentage of my week, and actually I usually go home between classes, I still perceive myself as “at home” pretty much full-time…for better or for worse. I am really blessed that my former employer allows this unique set-up. Teaching and catechesis is such an integral part of who I am.

So, apparently I’m a crappy editor. I’m sorry for this verbose mess. Philomena is chewing on my purse at this moment, which I’ll take as a sign to stop typing.

meal plan: week of August 20

Monday- Asian stir-fry with the random Asian greens from the CSA; topped with chicken and served over brown rice

Tuesday- some sort of pasta with chickpeas and kale; cucumber soup on side

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- pizza night! I’ll do one BBQ chicken and another with veggies. I am still in love with this pizza crust recipe.

Friday- quiche with whatever left-over veggies I can scrounge up; waffles or pancakes or scones

Saturday- TBD, but probably something I can muster from the pantry and freezer


I thought I’d interrupt my non-blogging streak to wish my equally non-blogging husband a happy entrance into the third decade. His cougar wife is happy to have him the same age as herself for the next 26 days.

I was quite sappy about his amazingness on Father’s Day, and all those things are still true. For his gift, I am going to take a break from my usual “Ma-ma, ma-ma. ma-ma” brainwashing of our daughter and switch it up to “Da-da” a couple times. I am so generous and thoughtful.

I really wanted to get some cute pictures of Philomena sporting a Ryan-appropriate outfit for her Daddy. During his shower this morning, I hastily dressed her, but she was in a “mood,” and the lighting was terrible. I even bribed her with the forbidden lens cap, but alas this is the best I could get.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. We love you.

[Yeah, I probably should figure out how to crop photos, eh?]

meal plan: week of August 13

A few things:

1. I am a blogging slacker. I have no good excuse for this. However, I am using the home-buying process as my excuse for pretty much everything these days (overall crankiness, junk food binges, wine intake increase). We have a house under contract, but we’re still trying to negotiate some finer points. This is stressful. And takes a lot of time.

2. I would like you to note that I am doing my weekly meal “plan” after 5:00 on Monday evening. Apparently, I’m a domestic slacker too.

3. To be honest, I’d be happy merely eating Totino’s pizza all week, but like all things processed with unpronounceable ingredients, I’d probably end up sick. Aaaaand I have a refrigerator overflowing with produce from our CSA share.

So, here you go.

Monday- stuffed summer squash (based on this recipe)

Tuesday- roast chicken with carrots and parsnips. I’m going to veer from my tried-and-true recipe to attempt this one. Sauteed zucchini on the side.

Wednesday- big Asian salad with leftover chicken. It’s a major feast day, so I hope to do a nice dessert too. [Or maybe I’ll just buy some wine.]

Thursday- we’re celebrating Ryan’s birthday with my family and his parents. My mom is doing all the sides and dessert, but I am a sucker for overly complicated recipes, so I am trying this mammoth undertaking of a lasagna.

Friday- gazpacho…again (recipe inspiration here); bean burritos

Saturday- it’s Ryan’s birthday, so he gets to choose whatever restaurant food he wants. My bets are on MSG-laden Chinese.