Friday, October 26, 2012

Quicktakes for Friday, October 26

1. 38 weeks and still pregnant.

2. My nesting energy is completely gone today. Is this a sign of labor? ;)

3. I was thinking about revamping a paper I wrote in grad school about liturgy, but I think that much better thought and research will be found here. This is written by one of my dear college friends, who received her masters in liturgy and has all the right views about liturgy so please read what she has to say and follow her posts. I am eager to read them myself!

4. I finally used my birthday gift card to Barnes and Nobles today (I received it in June). I wanted some good pre/post baby reading now that most of the baby prep is done. I chose Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, My Life in France by Julia Child, and A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. I am excited for Undset because her novel Kristen Lavrensdatter was amazing, Catholic, and inspired me in my motherhood. I think the book about Julia Child should be fairly light compared to other books I have been reading lately. I have been using recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking on occasion and Julia Child seems like a fairly interesting person. And Dickens is an author I always enjoy and for some reason I have never read A Tale of Two Cities. I think I will blame my educators...

5. Fall is turning into Winterish weather here in Minnesota. I am prepared to sit inside and nurse my baby until after our Christmas travels, and then I will have to brave going out places in the long winter or go insane with my three, three and under. :)

6. We had a fun incident with the car battery dying this Monday. That is of our new (used) van. Fortunately, AAA's roadside assistance includes in the garage assistance. It was simply a matter of lights being left on inside the car. So it is all take care of now.

7. Sunday was our parish Fall Festival and we won a few prizes, G won a couple of toys and candy, M won a bottle of wine, and we all won $20 of meat at a local butcher. We also ate the world famous Booya, which is a turkey and other meats stew with vegetables, rice, and potatoes. It was actually good. I was concerned my fickle pregnant stomach would not handle it, but it did.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Young Married Woman's Thoughts on Vocational Discernment

It is Autumn again. This time of year always reminds me of the semester I spent in Austria. The campus is in a small little town in the smaller mountains of Austria. It was a beautiful fall with great friends and a retreat from the real world as we knew it. Though I suppose all of college is like that, especially at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

That fall semester in Austria was crucial to my relationship with M. I have been thinking about what it was like that semester not knowing what was going to happen with him. We had met the year before within the first weeks of college, and for me there was a pretty early attraction. There was also the complication of him planning on being a priest. The idea of marriage for him had never really entered his mind, and everyone expected him to be a priest. People still asked his mother a couple of years after our marriage if he was a priest yet, having not heard the other developments of marriage and children in his life.

By the Spring semester of our freshmen year, our mutual attraction was pretty clear. We were in the same group of friends which spent a lot of time together, eating meals, having prayer meetings, watching movies, and even doing homework. When things finally got to the point of needing to be discussed, it was all clear to everyone that there was something going on between us. The only catch was that he was in the pre-theologate program, which was for men discerning the priesthood. Coincidentally things came to a head on the Feast of St. Valentine. We discussed our mutual attraction and decided to put some space between us in our relationship, which meant that within our group of friends we tried to not talk to each other and pray about our friendship. He was the one who had to decide the most. I was not dating other men and was feeling ready to have a discerning relationship with M as long as he was ready himself. He, on the other hand, would have to make the major decision of leaving his priestly formation program to discern if we were meant to be together. He ended up leaving the program a week later and then we started dating the next day, both at the young age of 18.

Looking back I can see how we rushed into the relationship, but it seemed the right thing to do at the time. When the summer break came, however, M was not so sure anymore if our relationship was the right thing for him. He felt the need to really make a decision about his call to the priesthood, or at least be at peace with not pursuing the priesthood so that we could pursue a possible future together. When he broke up with me that summer, I decided to pray again about being a religious sister.

I had thought about it on and off for all of high school and throughout my first year of college until I began dating M. Being the bride of Christ is an attractive vocation for a young woman seeking to live a holy life, but it never seemed quite right for me. Further, there was not one order in particular that I wanted to look into, which is essential for becoming a sister. There were some really great sisters that I know in high school, and it was to one of them that I talked about the vocation to religious life. I remember the conversation I had with her, while my heart was aching for M, about what being a sister entailed. As we spoke I realized in my heart that I could not let go of hope that M would decide to date me again. It was not some great revelation from God that I should not be a sister, it was the person of M, whom I cared for and felt drawn to that made me realize that I could not pursue the vocation of religious life.

Then we both went to Austria. We had three day weekends for traveling, and being in the same group of friends, we often were in the same traveling group. The campus was so small and the classes so limited that we had most of our classes together. M and I could not avoid each other very easily, and honestly we did not want to. He spent most of the semester trying to decide if he should date me again or not. When you expect to become a priest and everyone else you know has been expecting it for years, it is hard to decide otherwise. He prayed a lot; I prayed a lot. I spent the whole semester trying to give him the space he needed in such tight quarters as that small Austrian campus. His parents came to visit during that semester and he opened up to them about his discernment. He now describes his discernment that semester as realizing that vocation is more specific than one call or another, but it is to a specific person or in the case of religious life to a particular diocese or order. He could not know that he was called to be married until the person he was to marry was before him, discerning with him.

In the fall semester in Austria there was a Thanksgiving "Ball" where everyone dressed up in traditional Austrian clothes and learned the traditional dances. M asked me to go with him, and for the first time it felt like we had chosen something right for our relationship. He had come to the point of being ready to pursue our relationship further. He felt a freedom he had not felt before to discern our future together, and he realized deep down inside that if we did date again that we were going to get married. The ball was a lot of fun, though nothing became official that evening. We were still "just friends." Two days later he asked me to take a walk with him after noon Mass and on that walk he asked me to date him again.

A year later we decided to get married, and 18 months after our engagement began we were married 10 days before my 22nd birthday.

I know that this story may not seem relevant to those discerning vocation who are older and not in college anymore, but I think what M and I discovered about our own vocations can be helpful for those thinking about their own. Whatever God has in store for you, He will be specific about it eventually. We are not called to broad sweeping ideas or vocations, we are called to do specific things. We are called to relationships with specific people, to specific groups of people, in specific places. And that is what we should discern when we discern our vocation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three Year Old Theology: Food in Heaven

At dinner the other night G announced: "I wish we could eat macaroni and cheese for dinner every night until we get to Heaven!" (We were not even eating macaroni and cheese. It was leftover night which may have inspired the thought).

M asked her, "What will we eat for dinner in Heaven?"

She responded, "Bread. Jesus' body."

Monday, October 22, 2012

When there is no more room in the freezer...

can some peaches.

One of the best things I have learned from my husband and his mother is how to can fruit. Home canned apple sauce and peaches are two of my favorite ways to eat fruit. I am eager to try other fruits in the future. (We missed strawberry jam this year because of traveling, though my mother-in-law gave us a whole bunch of hers!) Home canned (jarred) fruits are so much better than store bought! I need to thank Trader Joe's for stocking peaches one last time this year. Next year I hope to can some Minnesota peaches.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Quicktakes, Saturday Oct. 13 Naptime Edition

1. Today we went to IKEA for the first time:

2. It was a pretty interesting place. We got some drawers for baby clothes that fit perfectly under the changing table, which will soon have shelves stocked with two sizes of cloth diapers and drawers full of tiny newborn size clothes.

3. They also have some pretty sweet bunk beds. We are planning on one for the girls once they are older. What is a safe age for a kid on the top bunk? This one is about 5 feet off the ground and has a railing. It seems fairly safe. The lower bunk is not that much higher than a toddler bed. I would be cool with it for L's first non-crib if I thought G would be okay on top. We shall see...

4. The St. Louis Cardinals are at it again. Bernie Miklasz is still my favorite St. Louis sports writer. 

5. We are pondering the possibility of a Tigers vs. Cardinals World Series in this house. I am not sure if I could handle it this year. Probably I would go into labor during game 7 and not get to do any of my Bradley relaxing during contractions because I would be caught up in wanting to follow the game. And then my husband from MI and I would be on opposing sides.

6. G has already decided that she wants the Tigers to beat the Cardinals if this happens. I asked her, "If the Cardinals and the Tigers play against each other, who would you want to win?" Immediatley M intervened, "If the Tigers, GRRRRRR!!! and the Cardinals play each other, who would you want to win." Her response was "TIGERS!!! GRRRRR!!!!" Then they went on to discuss how tigers can eat cardinals. I admit, tigers are cooler animals than cardinals from the perspective of a three year old.

7. Well, the kids are up from nap. Time to cook dinner...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blue Hubbard "Pumpkin" Pie

 As promised here are the results of my blue hubbard experiment. Blue hubbard makes pie that tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. It is pretty delicious. I followed the directions given here. I know nothing about the blog I just linked except that they have a great pie recipe.

The rinsed blue hubbard awaits its cleaving.

The knife has entered its side! It took a good 10 minutes to wedge this big guy open. This is my large chopping knife.

The inside looks like a squash to me!

Artsy shot.

Pulpy, seedy insides.

Further chopping. This photo was take by G.

One half of the hubbard ready to roast for 45 minutes (right), while the other half awaits its fate (left).


After both halves were roasted and cooled. I spooned/scraped out as much of the insides as would come out and then pureed in my blender about 1/3 cup at a time. I ended up with 6 lbs of puree. Each pie takes 15 oz. of puree. That means I can make 6 pies out of this monster, or 12 loaves of "pumpkin" bread, or some of each... TIP: If you are going to try this at home, a food processor would handle the hubbard flesh much more easily than the blender. When I made the pie, I re-pureed the squash with the eggs for the pie. It came out super smooth.

My two homemade pie crusts awaiting filling. I use the recipe in the Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition.

The small mortar and pestle from the set of three given to me by my sweet husband for my birthday. This was the first time I got to use it.

Once I needed whole cloves and ground cloves, so I just bought whole and decided to grind my own cloves. Here are cloves awaiting grinding.


The pies ready to bake.

Delicious pie and a three year olds' hair.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Quicktakes, Oct. 4

1. This may be the last First Friday before the baby is here. Then again we could have one more. :)

2. Today G went over to the calendar on the wall, counted the pages she could reach that were hanging down, came over to me using two hands to get her left hand to show three fingers and said, "There are this many pages left of the calendar." I explained to her that that means there are three months left of the year. She responded, "Then there are no more years after that?"
"No," I told her, "that means we will get a new calendar for next year." She then asked for a new calendar for herself to have also. I guess we are old fashioned with our paper calendars and all, but whatever, at least we know that the end of the calendar does not mean the end of time.

3. M and I are leaning more and more towards a house with land. He told me that his dream house is a combination of the earthship houses,

Frank Lloyd Wright style (particularly the Falling Water house),

the hobbit-like house we saw on our honeymoon,

and Pemberly (as represented in the 2005 BBC Pride and Prejudice).
 You only wish your husband had the same architectural taste as mine.

4. I have 22 prepped/cooked meals in the freezer for post-baby. Many thanks to a friend from high school who also lives in Minnesota for her help last weekend getting a number of the meals finalized. It was really nice to catch up. :)

5. Getting ready for baby list is getting shorter. I stocked up on a lot of necessary household items so we don't have to worry about those for a while. Last night as we were in discussing things about baby prep, we realized that we could not remember where the infant carseat was or if we had moved it to our home here from Buffalo. We were already in bed and not willing to search the basement for it. I found it first thing this morning. It "expires" 6 years from the manufacture date which is a year before we had G (Is the manufacture date visible before buying a carseat? Because I want one that is made the day before the kid is born so we can get our full six years out of it) . This baby will get 17 months to use it and then, as the manual says, we have to discard it and make it unusable for any dumpster divers out there. I can imagine a lot of fun ways to destroy an old carseat.

6. My husband shared these links on Facebook: From a Catholic Worker: An Open Letter to Paul Ryan ( and an Open Letter to Joe Biden (, the two Catholics running for VP. Both Catholic candidates for VP do not fully integrate Church teaching into their political views and actions. I know there are issues that are seen as more important when it comes to voting for a candidate (specifically in focus life issues, marriage issues), but it is important to remember that the poor do need help and the government is not letting them help themselves. Anyway, read the letters, he explains it better. And if you want to know about real conservatism and the roots of it read Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind.

7. The Cardinals are playing a one game play-off today against the Braves for the Wild Card spot in the division series. The traditionalist in me thinks we should go back to two divisions in each league and just the pennant and the series. Others I know think they should just have the series. I do not claim to be a sports expert, but I like to have an opinion to share. Also, I will root, root, root for the Cardinals no matter what the play-off arrangement.

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