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!”

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

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adorable cake made by my sister

adorable cake made by my sister

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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.

Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas!

This week have you been inundated enough on Facebook, Instagram, and blogs with pictures of cute, matching children, donned in red and black sitting in front of a Christmas tree? Of snow and fires and poinsettias and lights? No? You want more “Christmas re-caps”?

I shall oblige.

We were far from “perfect” about it [who is?], but Ryan and I reeaaaallly tried to observe Advent this year. Okay, so that devotional book was only read the first week, and maybe I didn’t get the wreath out until almost the second week, but we did slow down and tried to embrace the liturgical season for what it is. By the fourth week, Philomena would point to the Advent candles and exclaim, “Ree-jeece! Ree-jeece! Man-u-el!” So, we consider that a win. [Okay, okay…she would also intermittently point at the wreath and say, “Happy Bir-day to youuuu!” The candle situation is confusing.] 

Anyway, I am all about creating these new family traditions, that “we will do every year for the rest of our lives!” [Over-reaching much?] This year I declared that every Christmas Eve morning we would indulge in a special breakfast, then listen to Christmas music for the first time for the year while decorating the tree.

I really had this morning built up in my head. For many days leading up to the 24th, poor Ryan had to hear my commentary about choosing the perfect breakfast treat, the perfect Pandora station for non-obnoxious Christmas music…you get the picture. Basically, I was just setting myself up for a let-down.

And yet, the converse happened. Christmas Eve morning was probably one of the best times I’ve had in months.

First, I went against every instinct of my domestic-self and didn’t make my tried-and-true Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. Instead, I took Ana‘s advice and paired PW’s icing [nothing could EVER top it] with this cinnamon roll recipe. Dang. It was a simpler process, and the dough was infinitely easier to manipulate. And the finished product even tasted better. I feel blasphemous saying that, but it is true. Forgive me, Ree.

Also, we had a fantastic time decorating the tree. Philomena knew the day was “special.” She was completely wired- in a good way- and felt like such a big girl handing us ornaments.

christmas collage 2

christmas collage 1

There was this moment as we were just sitting on the couch watching her toddle around the tree that I said to Ryan, “I just feel so full right now…so blessed.” Blah, it sounds so corny now, but in that moment it was incredibly sincere. This past year has had some low moments, so it was beautiful to be in a place of such thankfulness.

Christmas Eve is always a special celebration on my side of the family. We went to Christmas Eve Mass, and then went over to my parents’ for dinner and presents. I look forward to this evening all year, and this one did not disappoint.

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Christmas morning was beautiful too. We had some quiet time with just our little family. We gave Philomena quite a few Christmas books that we have been enjoying this past week. It was also technically her 2nd birthday [!!!I], so even though we weren’t celebrating for a few more days, we still let her blow out some candles on a leftover cinnamon roll.


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Then, we went back to my parents’ for a brunch, then back to our house to relax and nap.

Finally, we went to Ryan’s parents’ house Christmas night. We had a delightful time- lots of good food, even better company…you get the picture.

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Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us not fear this. Let us not fear that our hearts be moved. We need this! Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God’s caresses do not harm us. They give us peace and strength. We need his caresses. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.” Pope Francis’ Christmas Address