7 Quick Takes (vol. 6)

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My Lenten sacrifice already needs a jumpstart.  And this is where I get to brag about my awesome husband: who forced encouraged me to snag a morning workout for the last two days, even though it cuts into his work day and doesn’t fit perfectly in my “ideal” schedule.  Which still isn’t written on paper yet…  I’m getting to that!

Interesting historical fact - the term "jumpstart" comes from having to literally jump while cranking this style of car

Interesting fact – the term “jumpstart” comes from having to literally jump while turning the car’s crank

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Michael has been chatting non-stop about his favorite videos and games this week.  Currently on his favorites list are Angry Birds Star WarsPudding Monsters and Yoda.  It’s so cute how he explains the games and the movie story lines.  We can’t seem to catch his best moments on film though.  If I can manage to get a cute video out of him, I’ll make sure to post it for your viewing pleasure.

Yoda

Watch your back, Count Dooku

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I realized why Michael is so drawn to the Yoda character.  It’s because he is currently in the developmental phase that delights in small things wielding great power.  My Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes keep reiterating this concept for children aged three to six.  That is why so many of the works focus on smallness and God using weak/insignificant subjects to highlight great truths.  Last week Michael’s class learned the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  What is a better example of God’s power than the smallest seed growing in the largest of plants?  Now I am seeing Michael’s natural inclination toward the small manifesting in other ordinary situations – like playing Star Wars with Daddy.  I find it fascinating to watch intellectual concepts play out in real life.

Did you know a Jerusalem mustard seed is significantly smaller than our American mustard seeds?

Did you know a Jerusalem mustard seed is significantly smaller than our American mustard seeds?

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Michael and I had the most amazing Pazcki (Polish Fat Tuesday dessert).  The dough was moist and chewy.  The powdered sugar so light and airy, with just a hint of sweet.  And the custard inside… to die for!  I’m still dreaming about it three days later.Pazcki

Pazcki

The child is pleased

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There was a lot of Valentine’s love going around yesterday.  Ryan bought me beautiful roses.  Then Michael and I decided to make Valentines for his friends and family.  (What else am I going to do with 32 wallet photos from his four year portraits?)  We also ate (more) doughnuts.  Who could ask for anything more?

Valentine's Day

Nothing says “love” like pink heart stickers

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Speaking of love, my sister is engaged!!!  Isn’t her ring totally sweet?!

Holly's ring

Holly's ring

Not sure what is that crazy thing behind her hand…

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My poor husband is nearly finished with stressful work week (not including weekend duty hours in the dorm).  Say a prayer for this hardworking guy!

Frazzled husband

Yes, he said I could post this pic

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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7 Quick Takes (vol. 3)

It’s been a hectic week around here.  Thought I’d share some of the fun we’ve been having.

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Saturday was devoted to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training.  This month’s class was focused on presenting The Prophecies during Advent season.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel. – Micah 5:1

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. – Numbers 24:17

We spent nearly five hours pondering these three verses, attempting to describe the exact moments of presentation – not to mention determine our direct and indirect aims for the children who will receive them.

A particular pattern has arisen during my monthly catechetical training.  At first, I find the required level of detail tedious during our discussions.  Just go ahead and tell me the exact words you want on the album page!  However, my brain eventually rises from the fog of everyday life and snaps to attention.  And I have suddenly returned to my undergrad theology shoes.  Diving into the underlying Montessori philosophy and psychology stirs up a desire to know more.  I always thought a bachelor’s degree was the end of my education, but now I am not so sure.

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Recipe for a relaxing Sunday: chocolate, babies and rest.  With Ryan working on another app deadline, Michael and I took the opportunity to snuggle our favorite baby friends and indulge in my most-favorite brand of dark chocolate.  It is an amazing conglomeration of cocoa products, cane sugar and vanilla.  Apparently I didn’t just stop at the good stuff though.  My food journal (more on that another day) holds me accountable for cookie dough, pudding and milkshake consumption as well.  Which leads me to the next point…

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As of Monday, I am back on the healthy-eating wagon.  An appropriately-timed appointment led to my healthy lifestyle “prescription.”  Remember that wonderful doctor I’ve mentioned before?  He also happens to own a holistic practice that heavily encourages good diet and stress-free lifestyles.  His philosophy is not to require perfection, but to encourage following a reasonable baseline.  Basically, what is the least amount of effort one can commit to that continuously yields results?

It was quite humbling to sit before this man and admit that my will-power is basically non-existant.  I keep making excuses for my bad eating habits, justifying myself the pleasure because I have suffered so much in other ways.  And yet, my unhealthy habits directly correlate with the cause of my suffering.  Endometriosis causes fertility issues – and endometriosis worsens when eating sugar, grains and alcohol.  I can’t afford to eat these products, but I haven’t trained myself to say no to them either.  So, we made a plan of attack I will actually commit to following (pitiful though the effort may seem to my perfectionist eyes).  In two weeks, reevaluation of progress occurs.  Here’s to crossing my fingers and hoping the least painful option works!

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We checked out a ton of new library books on Tuesday.  This one is Michael’s favorite over the last couple of days.  Doesn’t everyone love a good high-diving horse story?  One of my favorite childhood movies featured a girl determined to soar through the sky on her trusty stead.  Reading about Atlantic City also saddened me to think about hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the historic town, especially the boardwalk.  A piece of history is no longer with us.  My heart aches to think of the loss.

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Inspiration took over on Wednesday, and I’ve been cooking up a storm ever since.  For some reason, knowing that I can have one utterly unhealthy dessert each day gives me the motivation to cook Paleo for the rest of my meals.  I also really, really wanted to make strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  So yummy!  Thus far we have been partaking in recipes such as:

  • Cajun sweet potato fries
  • Turkey meatloaf
  • Strawberry shortcakes
  • Tomato basil soup
  • Cauliflower pizza crust

My go-to cookbook has been Make It Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason.  Every recipe includes a gorgeous photo (hence my inspiration) and tastes awesome.  The authors also strove to keep their recipes simple with minimal ingredients – which means I tend to have most items already stocked.  The only challenge for me is time management.  Late dinners have been butting up against Michael’s bedtime, and that makes for a slap-happy child at the dinner table.  He seems to enjoy the food as much as his parents, between all the wiggling.

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Thursdays are gymnastics days!  A friend of mine hooked us up with the local gymnastics club this fall, and it’s one of the best activities we have invested in for Michael.  He’s definitely not on par with the gal in the above photo – but he learned how to “stick the landing” today.  It was exciting.  The kid has been doing great, especially since I threw him in the four-year-old class with no previous experience.

Week 1 was all about balance beams.  Michael had an intense expression of concentration that first day.  He had never touched a balance beam in his life, but he jumped right in, wobbles and all.  I couldn’t tell if he was having fun until his eye accidentally caught mine and a huge grin invaded his face.  “This is so fun!” he exclaimed before resuming his serious attitude.

Week 2 focused on bars.  I couldn’t believe how brave my little boy can be.  One of the stations required him to jump from a three-foot high mat and grab onto a bar located higher than his head.  It was like an extra-long monkey bar, with his feet dangling above the ground.  After initial help from his coach, he didn’t even hesitate to jump alone on the second round.

This week introduced trampolines.  Few things are sweeter than watching a child bounce with total abandon.  They are so joyful.  Michael is not coordinated enough to do more than travel up and down, but I can envision his potential.  The poise gymnastics naturally facilitates will help him in future athletic endeavors.

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Thanksgiving approaches, so I share with you Michael’s thoughts on the subject.  My favorite is his gratitude for dinner every night.  I’ve been working hard to provide good meals this week (and wash all the dishes by hand, as we have no dishwasher in our tiny apartment).  It’s really nice to be appreciated.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes: Family Edition

As this is my first every Quick Takes (and a brand new blog), I thought it might be fun to introduce my family. Here goes!

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Our wedding was June 10, 2006.  It was the most wonderful, joyful day of my life when I married my best friend, Ryan.  You see, the two of us grew up together in the same small town, same Catholic church, and same group of family friends.  However, Ryan and I didn’t really become close until high school.  He was my best guy friend, the one who listened to all my teenagery woes – until he wasn’t just my best friend anymore.  We survived five years of dating, a year apart in college and 20 months of engagement before this happy day could occur.

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Ryan is a man of many hats.  Six years ago he started out in grad school.  I, the ever dutiful wife, followed him into student housing and bided my time until we were blessed with a child.  Four years ago Ryan applied for a hall director job at a nearby college.  We have been living in a dorm apartment ever since! (It was a step up from the student housing, let me tell you.)  Two years ago the stars aligned and Ryan began an app development company with two buddies.  Last January he decided that it was time to walk away from grad school and dive into his quickly expanding company.  Between his jobs as hall director, app developer and computer consultant on the side, my husband spends his remaining free time in husband and daddy mode.

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The second most amazing day of my life occurred when Michael entered the world, December 19, 2008.  I spent his first few weeks just holding him, staring at his darling face and wondering where in the world did he come from?  Michael was a super chill baby who I carted around everywhere with me.  He was an instant favorite with the college kids, grandparents and aunties alike (not terribly difficult when you are the only baby on both sides of the family).  I also noticed rather quickly that he tended toward a flair for the dramatic.  After nearly four years, that personality trait still holds strong.  So does his love of companionship…

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What do I do with all of my free time?  Ha!  When you are a stay-at-home momma for a quality-time child, there really isn’t a lot of time to spare.  I keep busy with the general household duties, pathetic attempts at homeschooling and a couple of ministries around campus.  I am also training as a catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  It’s so exciting to watch Michael experience the atrium while I am simultaneously learning the ropes as a future catechist.

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What is the most awesome part about living in a dorm, you ask?  Well, free rent and utilities definitely top the list.  Oh, and free babysitters – college girls love kids!  And there tends to be a lot of free food as well.  Free stuff.  That’s great.  Plus, if I want to get all serious on you, it’s so good to have easy access to daily mass and weekly Adoration.

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Since this is the family edition, I have to give shout-outs to our extended family too.  We are blessed to have a lot of our family living nearby.  Michael’s grandparents are all within an hour’s drive of our home – which means we get to see them a lot.  One of his aunties practically lives down the street (two more aunties did live across the street, but have since graduated from college and moved on).  Having extended family in town was a dream for me as a kid (everyone lived five hours away), and I am so pleased to make it a reality for Michael.

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Finally, our most recent family photo:

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