7 Quick Takes…and Centenary Post

Hello, there. Linking up with Jen once again.

1. WordPress has informed me that this is my 100th blog post. You are free to celebrate with me by sending me some red wine, dark chocolate, or sweet potato fries. Thank you in advance.

2. A few weeks ago, Philomena and I braved the plane and flew to Canada for my good friend, Kathryn’s, wedding. [Well, we actually flew within America, and then drove over the border, because it’s cheaper that way.] I fretted for months about her airplane behavior, but like most of my anxieties, it was all for naught. She was seriously amazing. Her mother, on the other hand, maybe cried and had a bit of a tantrum when we missed our connecting flight on the way there. However, an impromptu visit from a friend [hi, Molly!] and a glass of Malbec made the unanticipated layover totally worth it.

anticipation

excited

I title this "stoned." Alternatively, "worst selfie EVER?"

I title this “stoned.” Alternatively, “worst selfie EVER?”

My few days in the land of maple syrup, hockey, poutine, and Tim Hortons [okay, I only partook of the last on that list] was honestly the best time I’ve had in a long while. I stayed with Kathryn’s family, and they were unbelievably hospitable and loving. And Mena warmed up to Kathryn, her brother Fr. Mark, and our other friend Amy soooo much that it just delighted me.

She insisted Kathryn read to her, NOT her Mommy.

She insisted Kathryn (NOT her Mommy) read to her.

And the wedding was seriously beautiful. Kathryn is just one of those friends, you know? One of those people who is just so amazing, so giving, so beautiful that you want her happiness even over your own. I know this sounds sappy, but it’s true. It meant the world to be able to see her walk down that aisle. And she was hands-down the most stunning bride I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous brides. But, sorry everyone else [including myself], she wins.

A horrible ipod picture:

kathryn and us

Btw, Amy came 36! weeks! pregnant. She basically had to sneak on the plane.

On our way back to the airport the next day, we stopped at Niagra Falls. The morning light was beautiful, but horrendous for taking pictures, but this one turned out well, didn’t it?

(not.)

(not.)

And some more gems:

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[Alright #2 wasn’t very quick, so I’ll make up for it with the rest of these.]

3. Lately, I’ve been trying not to drink coffee [I KNOW…]. To assuage this terror, I’ve been switching to a cup of tea in the afternoon. The other day I was craving something a little more of a treat, so I tried this iced chai recipe. It was faaaaaantastic.

4. Philomena’s vocabulary is definitely expanding. And as any parent-of-a-toddler knows, some of her words don’t sound exactly like the correct origins of said words. The funniest, however, is that Philomena very consistently calls herself, “p-sss.” [Actually, it sounds like “piss,” but I thought that might be crude to type.] We don’t know exactly from where that came [it’s the same word she uses for “peas”- so maybe “P is for Philomena?”], but it is awesome nonetheless. I hope she calls herself piss for the rest of her life. Ha, not really.

5. Lest you think we’re all about base humor here, Mena has also taken up an affection for the rosary. It really warms my heart. She knows where we keep them, and she gives “Da Da” his, and “Ma Ma” hers, and “Psss” hers. Then, she goes and sits on the couch where we pray sometimes and insists that we sit next to her. We basically make it through about a decade, but it has been good for me to stop throughout my day and pray with her, especially at her initiative.

6. I could write an entire blog post on cleaning products [hey! maybe I will! Is that lame?], BUT one major issue I’ve always had is with the bathroom. In general, I tend toward more natural products, but the vinegar, baking soda, and/or BioKleen just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I broke down and bought some conventional cleaners, but the chemical smell would just make me so sick, and I could smell it for days.

So, I submitted to the years-long Pinterest trend of half vinegar/half blue Dawn in a spray bottle. And dang, those pins weren’t lying. It wasn’t magic necessarily, but it was the best solution I’ve found thus far. Before you remind me- yes, yes Dawn has copious amounts of chemicals in it, but! it doesn’t smell like chemicals, so we’ll just let this one slide, yes?

7. Philomena is 20 months old and JUST today I finally organized all of her clothes. Previously, my fancy method had been taking the items she outgrew, putting them in bags, and taking them over to my parent’s house. [Why clutter my own home when I can clutter someone else’s?] However, I brought them all back over, and my mom gave me a bunch of bins, and they are thus organized.

bins

As I was doing all of this, all I could think about was how much I wanted to able to pull out these clothes again someday.  Well, here’s to hope and ardent prayer that this some day will arrive soon.

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7 Quick Takes and Goodbye for Now (Again)

I have a major deadline approaching, and I am in serious crunch-mode, so I thought it a good idea to take an official break from the ‘ol blog again.

But, before I leave you, here are some seven tidbits for this Friday:

1. This article made me feel less terrible that I’ve wasted so much time in the evenings watching Arrested Development lately (re-watching the oldies; indulging in the new season). I know the article was only semi-serious…but really, Uncle Oscar as Father Zosima?! However, G.O.B. as Dmitry is quite spot-on.

2. My mom makes the. best. homemade doughnuts you will ever taste. They are seriously amazing. I doubt fried unicorn could taste better than these.

I’ve really been trying hard to cut out all processed sugar and to be moderate in our consumption of grains, especially wheat…but…sometimes there needs to be exceptions.

And this was a major exception. I paid for said exception with a stomachache later, but it was worth all of the caloric glory in the moment:

donuts 1

donuts 2

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3. I have been on a quest for a leak-free sippy cup, preferably stainless steel. I bought  one [over-priced!!] a few months ago, but for some reason Philomena couldn’t drink out of it well. Plus, it still leaked a little.

But, this Kleen Kanteen sippy…. Look!

kleen kanteen sippy

[That bottle is full of water! No drips!]

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. And if this bottle lasts for a few years, they have all sorts of replacement nozzles for different ages and needs. I am sold. So sold.

4. Sam Adams does their seasonal brews well. And I would like to give my stamp of approval for Porch Rocker. It is lemon-y, without being too sweet. Ryan thought it a bit too fruity for his hop-obsessed palate, but I thought it was perfect for outside summer drinking [which, incidentally, is the best kind]. So there.

5. Like I said, we have been working hard to stay on the somewhat-whole-foods bandwagon lately. However, I definitely have a sweet tooth. So, we’ve been experimenting with all sorts of frozen treats that use fresh ingredients and natural sweeteners.

Chocolate mint ice cream! Strawberry frozen yogurt! Chocolate peanut butter ice cream!

Some day I hope to compile some of these recipes for you in a somewhat-coherent manner. For now, you will just have to trust me that homemade, natural ice cream can be just as good [better???] than the frozen aisle of the grocery store.

6. My husband [who needs to blog again!] is the best spouse and daddy in the entire universe. Don’t even try to argue with this fact, because you will lose.

He is going to roll his eyes and shake his head at this, but I don’t care.

I have been absolutely on high-stress mode lately. With the major deadline to fulfill in just a few weeks, almost every second he is home, I escape behind the closed door of our office/laundry room or to a frigidly-air-conditioned coffeeshop.

Ryan has been truly heroic [no exaggeration] in taking on many of the duties of home life– cooking, cleaning, laundry, toddler entertaining. And he hasn’t complained. Not once. Not even a little under-the-breath muttering [as his wife is so inclined to do on occasion all the time.]

I remember when we were pregnant, Ryan talked about how he didn’t want to be an “assistant mom” [sadly, a role in which many men are relegated], but rather a father. And unlike all of my lofty parenting goals I set during pregnancy, he has fulfilled his masterfully.

Every morning, Philomena takes my hand as we walk around the house looking for “Da Da!” We both tear up a little on the weekdays when she realizes he is nowhere to be found.

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7. Like Ryan, my mom, my sister, and my mother-in-law have really been picking up the slack for me lately. Almost daily someone watches Philomena for at least a few hours, so I can get some work done.

And Mena is in heaven. She loves her cousins and her grandmothers fiercely. I actually think she’ll be a little disappointed when our days don’t involve a trip over to someone else’s house. Just boring Mommy.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you sometime in late July. [Hopefully.]

Go to CD for more quick takes.

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7 takes in 10 min

Alright, I’m giving myself a 10 minute break from working to do these takes. And the countdown starts now. (Go to Jen for more quick takes.)

1. Blogging has taken a backseat to “life” This is definitely a good thing, because life has been crazy. But blessed. I realized I haven’t even been posting meal plans. I keep forgetting to do it on Mondays, and then Tuesday just seems tooooooo late in the week for it. I apologize to the two of you who read them.

2. I made these chocolate chip cookies the other day (grain free/gluten free/low sugar). Ryan is a passionate cookie-lover, and he actually said they were decent. I dared him to guess the main ingredient…

Avocado! [No.]

Flax seed! [No.]

I guess you’ll just have to click on the link to see for yourself. I *will* be making these again.

3. I have tried more recipes for granola bars than any sane person should. However, they’re always too crunchy or too crumbly or not sweet enough…

…until now.

A mom in my playgroup brought these granola bars the other week [ironically titled “playgroup granola bars.”] I was astounded by their chewiness. Perfect texture. Perfect level of sweetness.

I tried them for myself, but made some substitutions [of course]- white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose; 1/2 cup of sucanat sugar instead of the 3/4 brown sugar; dried blueberries [overpriced!!] instead of raisins. The perfection of texture was not compromised at all.

Oh! And I froze some of them, and they are still chewy after thawing. WIN.

4. I went to bed last night at 9:15. That was the earliest I’ve been to sleep in months…maybe years?

5. #4 was the best decision I’ve made in a looooooooong time. Friday Morning Sarah was eternally grateful to Thursday Night Sarah’s wisdom.

6. Philomena’s hair fits into pigtails now! Prepare to go, “awwwww…”:

pig tails

7. I know everyone has probably seen these articles already, but regardless both of these made me pause and are worth your consideration:

How I Almost Became the Smug Mom” by Haley – Mena sounds like her little girl…and yes, it is easy to think it is something “we did,” but really, I know she was just born with a laid-back temperament. No smugness here.

The Important Thing about Yelling” – I know probably 100 of your Facebook friends linked to this article yesterday, but if for some reason you missed it or were too lazy to click on it yesterday, I really encourage you to take the time to ponder it today. A lot of her comments really hit home for me. Maybe I’ll get deeper about that when I have more time.

Blah! It’s been 15 minutes. How did that happen?

Happy Weekend.

7 Quick (?) Takes

I am in major procrastination mode…so, I want to take a long time with today’s post, but I probably shouldn’t…We’ll see which side of me wins.

1. It might be a sign of my immaturity, but for some reason this made me laugh a lot. [Stars are just like us!]

2. As did this. [You know I love me some Les Mis, but I chuckled nonetheless.]

3. Someone on Facebook pointed out that we graduated from college on this day 10 years ago (!!!!!!!). My immediate reaction was to feel old. Very old.

However, upon further reflection I was able to think about just all the amazing experiences God brought into my life in this time. A year of missionary work in Belize. Six years of teaching in Atlanta. Graduate school in both England and Denver. An epic walk across Spain.

And yet, He brought me back to where I started. To marry I man I kinda-knew. To have a baby. To buy a house 3.3 miles from the one where I grew up [no, I didn’t know that mileage off the top of my head. Thank you, Google Maps].

It has been a truly tremendous 10 years.

But, I still feel old.

4. As I [not dramatically at all] announced on Facebook, I decided not to return to my one-day-a-week teaching next year. Really, it was only half a day, so it’s not as if my weeks will change that drastically. I suppose what struck me most was the fact that I’ve been at the front of the classroom in some way or another for 10 years…so, the symbolism of not identifying myself as a “teacher” (in the strict sense) really hit me. Oh, I am sure I will return some day, somehow. And I’m still in the field of education and catechesis with my work I do from home [and I should be doing now, in fact].

Yet, it feels like an end of an era.

5. Not to get even more deep on y’all, but… As we all know, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. Remember to keep in your prayers all those women out there who struggle with infertility, who would so desperately want to celebrate this day. These couples have been on my heart so strongly these past couple years (especially in the months after our loss). I can’t say that I totally understand how their cross, but I can certainly offer my prayers and love.

6. Aaaaaand since we’re on the topic, let’s also keep in mind those singletons, who desire so fervently a family of their own, but for whatever reasons haven’t been able to find the right person. I was there for many years, so I can empathize. And it sucks. But, it’s also a time in which God can do great things (see #3 above).

7. Here is my fav picture from Instagram this week. Combining her two great loves: outside and books.

Mena porch swing

Go to CD for more quick takes.

the return of the 7 Quick Takes

I haven’t done one of these in a while.

As usual, there is no theme and very little coherence.

1. Philomena had a runny nose on Wednesday, and I had a slight tickle in my throat last night…but I woke up this morning feeling as though I had been run over by a bus [and not a lame school bus, but rather a full-fledged city public transportation bus]. I am definitely a pathetic, dramatic sick person: any graces that come from bearing my cross silently and “offering it up” are completely missed.

So, I called my mom. Obviously.

2. The living saint that she is, Grandma was at my doorstep in less than 15 minutes to pick up Mena. This allowed me to take a two! and-a-half! hour! nap! It was glorious, absolutely brilliant. I seriously cannot think of the last time I took a nap that long. I woke up not feeling great, but at least I was functional.

My mom brought Philomena back right before her naptime, which lasted three! hours! Thus, I was actually even able to get some work done today.

3. The events of today just reaffirmed how incredibly blessed I am to have so much family nearby. Both my and Ryan’s entire immediate family lives within 20 minutes of us. And each one of them is so extremely generous with their time and love for us.

I know this sounds a little cheesy, but well, it’s true. Amidst my morning of self-pity, I was able to say a few prayers for those parents with young children who do not have close family nearby. I honestly don’t know how you do it!

4. Alright, enough deep thoughts for today…

Like I mentioned previously, I am working on getting some more order in my life. We do a fairly good job of keeping the majority of the house tidy on a day-to-day basis.

However, there are those certain areas [which happen to coincide with the places no one else usually sees] that I let get reeeaaaalllly out of control.

For example, my closet:

before

[only my side is pictured…but, trust me, Ryan’s side is immaculate in comparison.]

This was so embarrassing, that I *almost* lied and said “I forgot to take a picture of the ‘before,’ so you’ll just have to trust that it was bad!”

Anyway, last week I spent countless hours purging and organizing. The result:

after

[not pictured: two FULL trash bags of clothes to give away!]

5. Philomena’s newest “thing” is pointing at the computer and saying “ho! ho! ho!” And no, she is not asking to see the fictional man in red from the North Pole. Instead, she is a latecomer to the music trend of 2012, and is obsessed with this song.

If I try to be sly and play something else (even from the same band), she’ll give me a confused look and say, “ho? ay?”

6. She figured out that my iphone ipod plays “ho ho” too. I can’t do anything with it without her wanting to grab it to hear the song. This afternoon I was trying to get a video of her rocking her dolly (so cute!), and instead this happened. [Although I am a terrible videographer, in this case the shaky footage is because she was trying to grab the device the entire time.]

7. Philomena also spends an oddly significant amount of the day bent over to see the world upside-down. We’ve been trying to get a picture of this, and Ryan was successful the other day:

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You’re welcome.

Enjoy your weekend! If Kansas weather doesn’t go all bi-polar on us again, hopefully there are some walks and parks in our near future. Or maybe we’ll build a snowman.

See Jen for more takes.

7 Quick Takes: Newly Discovered Treasures and Tricks

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First, thank you for all your kind words and prayers regarding our loss. We have been overwhelmed by so many sincere emails, FB messages, comments. Seriously. You all have such lovely hearts. It gives me hope. Praise Him.

And now it’s time to be superficial for a little bit. ;) Here are some (very trivial) things I’ve been loving lately.

1. It’s rare that I am “inspired” by style blogs. Usually I just enjoy looking at pretty things and cool styles that I could never afford or would never look good on me. However, for some reason ANMJ’s style resolutions really spoke to me. #3 especially: “…will figure out footwear that doesn’t involve tall boots.” I know I am 100% guilty of falling into the jeans-with-tall-boots rut to look polished. And quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I took her nudging and got a pair of ankle boots from Forever 21. I was *so proud* of my $10 find, and was psyched to share it here, but of course, Grace beat me to the punch with the same boots. Meh, that’s okay. Here they are in their glory:

Why is the picture not of me *wearing* the boots? Well, I tried, but I had some issues with the camera timer. And it’s always a little embarrassing to approach Ryan, “ummm…could you take a picture of my shoes?” I can’t wait for Philomena to be old enough to be my very own personal photographer.

2. #6 on the same list was “…will wear bold makeup like it’s no big thing.” I will never ever be daring enough for turquoise eyeshadow and the like. And I have tried and tried and tried bold lipsticks, but I always end up feeling clownish. I was excited to stumble upon Cover Girl’s “Everlasting”– a plumish red. I wore it for the first time a few weeks ago, when Ryan and I had a “date night” [more like “date 45 minutes.”] I felt very proud of myself, and I could just *sense* people in the restaurant checking me out as if I was a daring, cosmopolitan lady. However….the next day in the daylight I tried it again, and I looked a little less classy, and a lot more, um, “lady of the night.” But, that didn’t stop me from trying to be bold, so I mixed it with my old standby (via PW), Maybelline’s “Autumn Rush.” I really like the result:

lipstick

[I can’t believe I took a cellphone self-portrait of myself *in the bathroom*. Everyone say together, “blogging cliche!”…. Cringe.]

3. This salsa was on sale the other day at Target (Archer Farms Mango Peach Salsa). My, oh, my, it is fantastic. And this is coming from a connoisseur of all things chips and salsa. IMG_6254

4. For Christmas my mom said she would buy me a pair of jeans- even more, she would watch the baby whilst I shopped (!). After coming up dry on skinny jeans that weren’t too skinny and that held their structure and didn’t produce a plumber’s crack, I asked the Facebook world for recommendations. I got some interesting responses, and a friend from high school suggested the Gap’s “Always Skinny.”

I was immediately skeptical, because as many others have noted, over the past 5 or 6 years, the Gap has been *so* disappointing. The prices have gone up, and the quality has gone down, down, down. Nevertheless, since they were on clearance, I decided to give them a shot.

Wow! I am seriously pleased with the jeans. They are exactly what I was wanting. They are stretchy, but don’t stretch OUT, even after wearing them for a couple days. I actually went online and ordered another pair in a different wash. My only complaint is that (as far as I can tell) don’t offer this particular style in a “short” inseam. Soooo, that means I have to cuff them a bit, which I’ve decided looks fine [please don’t tell me otherwise].

I tried to take a picture of myself wearing them, but again, I have issues with both non-awkwardly posing and using the timer on the camera. I’ll be humble and show you the pics anyway, but for a much more flattering depiction, look here. [It seems as though the sizes are limited now. Sorry.]

jeans

5. Yesterday I put a few drops of lavender essential oil in the dryer with some towels and sheets. It produced a subtle, yet lovely effect.

6. Mena’s fake-Robeez shoes attract dirt and black marks at a remarkable rate. The other day, I tried rubbing alcohol to clean them. The results weren’t perfect, but it was a definitive improvement. The one on the left has been cleaned.

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As I exclaimed to Ryan, “I didn’t even see this on Pinterest! It’s my own idea!” It’s the small things, people.

7. I have *ridiculously* dry and sensitive skin, so the winter months are pretty much torture on my face. I’ve tried so many different lotions, but for the longest time I used pure coconut oil, which really worked. And yet, for some reason, it just doesn’t do the trick anymore. A couple months ago, Real Simple did a feature on the best facial moisturizers. This one by Burt’s Bees was recommended for dry skin. [It’s a tad pricey for such a small bottle- I’m a cheapo- but, I was able to use an Ulta coupon for it. And it seems like it’ll last awhile.] I have been using it for about a month now, and I am sincerely impressed. My skin is still dry, but MUCH less flaky. And I love that it’s kinda-natural (at least compared to many lotions out there), and it’s completely non-greasy. 

I just realized I’m at the end of the takes, and I haven’t included any gratuitous baby pics yet. Shameful. Here is one from Sunday, when it was amazingly warm and we went to see the ducks [still pronounced hilariously]. As always, go see Jen for more takes.

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7 Quick Takes from the Laziest Blogger in the History of the World

[And she’s also a bit hyperbolic.]

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1. I haven’t done any blogging in quite awhile. Not even the easy of the easiest meal plans. Basically, I fall into this rut: “oh, I have this idea for a post!” Immediately followed by thoughts like: “ooooooor I could watch some White Collar [shameful, I know] on Netflix….or take a nap….or just zone out looking at clothes and shoes online.”

2. Zoning out for the win every. time.

3. Last week Ryan got pretty sick. Like, he even missed a few days of work. Thankfully, Philomena and I have been spared. I think this is primarily due to nursing [for her] and copious amounts of fruits and vegetables and vitamin C [for me]. I have been obsessively taking our temperatures throughout the day, because I am so paranoid of being “that mom” who infects everyone else, so if either of us even get close to 99.1, our already homebody lifestyle will become downright hermit.

4. My first Monday of teaching this semester I was pulled over and issued a $175 (!!!!!) ticket for “failure to maintain lanes” [I was doing my make-up and veered a bit onto the shoulder], then this Monday I was rear-ended in the Starbucks drive-through lane. This is why I rarely leave the house.

5. Ryan and I make great efforts not to watch TV around Philomena, so as not to encourage her to model our own predilection for such base forms of entertainment. Nevertheless, yesterday was just a rough day AND I discovered I was three episodes behind on Parenthood [how how how did this happen??] AND she took a very insufficient nap. Thus, I broke down and shamefully indulged myself for 42 minutes. However, our little lady is seriously obsessed with banging the keys on the computer [I wonder where she sees this all time time?], so no matter where I held/set the laptop, her sticky little phalanges would find their way to the keys. Finally, I came up with this solution:

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Did it work? Nope. She still got to the laptop, but at least each time it would take her awhile, so I was able to keep up with the Bravermans in spurts.

6. Apparently my previous 7 Quick Takes had a misleading title, because many of you commented [mostly to my face, although a few of you bravely “really” commented] that you thought I was going to include a picture of my middle-school self. Oops. Sorry.

7. Never one to disappoint my loyals, you’re welcome:

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I’m the hottie on the right. It really is shocking that I was never one of the cool kids.

And here is the requisite link to Jen.