Friday, March 27, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 27

1. Do you ever feel like your child does not really have a birthday unless you tell the whole internet world? G turned six nearly two weeks ago, and I am finally sharing her birthday cake photo with you. It is not even a real birthday cake. It is a peanut-butter-chocolate-creamy-delicious pie that we bought from a family restaurant, because I was on my retreat until 5:35 PM the day of her birthday. But don't worry, she had a wonderful birthday week complete with presents, her grandparents visiting, planning a pink party, and having seven little girls over for a pink cupcake and pink lemonade party. So, really it was a great birthday for a sixth year old.

2. Does my description of my week after my retreat give me a valid reason for not blogging for two weeks? I am going to say yes. And I promise that I have been writing, just not for the blog. I was doing things like getting my devotions for Blessed is She finished and working on a project reviewing some films (which is coming soon and should be great!). At any rate, life has been busy and being in the third trimester means that it takes more effort to think clearly.

3.When my parents came for the birthday girl they also brought me my dried bouquet from my wedding, which my long suffering sister has had in her bedroom (the one we shared) for nearly seven years. I am thinking that I should really spray it with something to preserve it better. The mantilla/scarf is on from Segovia, Spain where my friend C and I were coerced by street merchants into purchasing one each and the from whom the rest of our group escaped from down a cliff side. I have had it stored away for years, but it seemed like an appropriate item to display with the bouquet.

4. My Christmas gift from M arrived just in time for the Annunciation. It is the original memoir of Laura Ingalls Wilder written previous to her publication of the children's novels. The reason it cams so late is that the small publishing house that produced it has had to do several printings to keep up with the demand. It is heavily annotated (I am only to her life at age 4), and it is interesting to see the historical facts along side what she fictionalized for the sake of make good novels. Also, it is a beautiful, very nice book, and very large as the cover is about 10x10 inches. It will hopefully provide a nice diversion for a month or so as we wait and prepare for baby.

5. Look, it snowed again. I believe the label for this is "spring snow." I knew that highs in the 60s were too good to be true for mid-March in Minnesota. I told the kids that it would snow again. They stopped believing me, and then along came an Alberta Clipper on Sunday night with 3 inches of snow. The children were not entirely happy about it. They refused to play in it, except to search the yard for a rock for a project we made on Monday. However, it is still getting above freezing everyday, so I will take that.

6. On Monday, we made a Calvary and tomb centerpiece, and I really hope that the grass seed (which has been sitting in the garage for a year) will germinate and give us some pretty, green grass by Easter. Otherwise, we are going to have to get fresh grass seed for next year and try again then... The large rock to the right is blocking the entrance to the tomb.

All of the rooms at the retreat center were named after different titles of Our Lady. This was mine... yep... awesome.
7. The last quick takes I wrote were right before a 48 hour silent retreat I took run by the priests of Miles Christi based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It was extremely intense, but also worth it. I highly recommend taking a retreat if you can with them (you can see where they offer them at this link). While they think it would be a good idea to go annually, I am thinking that it is going to have to be a "whenever the baby is weaned" sort of thing for me. And if you cannot afford it, put ten dollars in a jar every month for two years (or 2.50 a week) and then take the plunge. Seriously, guys and gals, it is worth it.

As always, I am linking up with Kelly who hosts Seven Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blessed is She: Go, and Do Not Sin Again

I am over at Blessed it She today:
In case you were wondering, I was named for the Susanna in the chapter 8 of Saint Luke’s Gospel, but from my earliest consciousness of the book of Daniel, I felt drawn to this story of the Old Testament Susanna. I was drawn in by her innocence before her accusers and her people and her plea to God. She, of the house of Judah, being very beautiful, became victim to a wicked plot of two old men who “suppressed their consciences.” These men first tried to satisfy their lusts with her, and when she proved uncooperative and virtuous, they accused her openly of committing adultery. As she is being taken to be executed, God stirs the young boy Daniel who, on separating the elders from each other and them naming two very different species of trees, proves her innocence. She trusted in God, He saved her, the old men were punished, and her good name was preserved...

Read the rest of my devotion for today at Blessed is She!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 13

1. I have been pregnant with and/or nursing my babies for just over 3 months shy of seven years.  Since my first was born six years ago, I have had a three month, four month, and am in the middle of a seven month gap of not nursing anyone. Well, mothers of young children will know that it is not really possible to get nights away from exclusively nursing babies, so when they are weaned and there is no other baby out of the womb, there is a window of opportunity. For what, you ask? For a SILENT RETREAT. I am departing this afternoon for 48 hours of prayer and reflection without my family. This is the first time since I have been married that I will be away from all the members of my family for even one night. Further, I have not been on a longer than three hour retreat since my last semester of college seven years ago. That being said, please pray for me this weekend, because I am not sure I can really handle uninterrupted, prayerful silence for more than about 20 minutes. Yeah...

2. Not only am I abandoning my family for a weekend, but I am doing it on their birthdays. M has to celebrate his birthday (and real Pi day 3.1415) without me. I am sure he will have a lovely time with the girls. And let us not forget about the Ides of March, and the change it brought in our lives... I will be back for dinner for G's birthday. And being the awesome person that she is with amazing taste in food, she has chosen this pie for her cake:
Which means I can take on some good old fashioned third-trimester laziness, and just eat peanut butter, chocolate filled pie goodness. Also, pizza pie for dinner. Is it okay to honor Pi day on the Ides?

3. In other news, where did all the snow go? It has been so warm here, that we have been grilling. M had an early birthday/traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas dinner last Saturday. We splurged on shrimp (which I cannot even smell comfortably while pregnant), and M grilled it along with vegetables and threw it all on pasta Alfredo.
It is in the 30s, so why not grill? I was told that I will not have to cook dinner again until the Fall if I just keep a steady supply of charcoal and Bell's Two Hearted Ale on hand...

4. And here is my almost six year old looking like a reader. She says that she was "just looking at the pictures," but it gave me a glimpse of a girl who might, like her parents, spend hours every day, curled up with a book. She has been doing really well with her reading lately, and I do not think this possibility is too far into the future.

5. If your mom is not big on doing crafts, you make your own:

G (6ish) and L (4) have been cutting out and gluing together surprisingly recognizable paper dolls, and other creatures. It is pretty fun to see them create. F (2) has been sucking on capped glue sticks while wearing socks on her hands. That is called being 2.

6. My basil seeds have sprouted, but only one has made leaves. I might have to do a redo with the other seeds. But since we started the plants so early, I do not mind:

7. Hello, third trimester! My earliest baby was born at 38 weeks... that is ten weeks away... yikes!

I think I finally have leveled out in size compared to week of pregnancy...

Linking up once again with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recipe: Easy, Delicious Tahini-less Hummus

I love hummus, and I love saving money. I set out to find a recipe for hummus without the added most expensive ingredient of tahini. (I think that maybe I am allowed to do this, since I am 1/8 Lebonese--I mean it is in my blood!)

After a couple of years of toying with the recipe, I finally have something I am willing to share with the world. I love having lemony flavor in my hummus, so I go heavier on that. I also love the garlic standing out, so I put in three cloves. The lemon juice and garlic make up for the lack of flavor resulting from the missing tahini. Processing it for a long time makes it extra fluffy.

Easy Tahini-Less Hummus

2 15 oz cans of drained and rinsed chic peas/garbanzo beans
(or 2/3 cup dried, soaked and cooked beans)
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
3 TB Olive Oil
3/8 cup (6 TB) of water
3 whole, peeled garlic cloves
1/2 tspn salt (or to taste)*
1/4 tspn pepper (or to taste)
*I really like having suggestions on what is a good amount "to taste". To taste leaves me with no idea how much is enough for good flavor...

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 5 minutes straight. Scrape the sides down if needed. Add water or more seasoning depending on your texture and seasoning preference.

Enjoy! We really like eating our hummus on tortillas with vegetables (like cucumber, sweet pepper, and spinach) and some sort of cheese. It makes a great Lenten lunch or dinner.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nearly Everything My Two Year Old Said Last Wednesday

in the potty
in the potty
sit on bench
sit on bench

teething necklace
across the table
orange juice

I like my coat
I wear my coat
I no wear snow pants today

that's my church book
my book
what is that?
what is that talking sound?

G is wearing star shirt
L is wearing polka dots

I walk
I walk
I a fish

I go potty
go potty

take off veil
get veil off
all done veil 

on this foot
do it again

peanut butter on a spoon
peanut butter
I got a cup

all done
all done
I flash potty

I no like butterfly hairband
no mommy
you do it

L has my hairband
my teething necklace
I want tea
orange juice
I no like my pretzels

light blinking
I'm in pew, too

I go potty
that's a book
this book
shut door
uh oh
bear in bed
bear in the bath

all done
I on potty, L
shut door
wash my hands, mommy

pretzels on plate
dry my face
this is my plate
no no nooooooooo

I go potty again
go potty again
book again
shut door
sit on bath tub

I no like that book
fell on floor
mommy fix it

bunny in garden
drink book
all done

der dats a glass
here's a glass
I go potty
I go potty

cloth napkin
no go potty
I go pee
all done

my bookie
where my book?
that's not my book
my book
I need pencil
where's my sharpener?

where's my stroller?
it's downstairs
no no
leave alone, G
pink party

I love JESUS

angels sing

dust room
my duster

be happy

I find my shovel
I need my bow
all done potty
where's my cuppy go?
that's not my cup

my belly hurts
my belly is moving

I have pink, too
I want chocolate cup again
peanut butter cup
peanut butter cup
L, I have peanut butter cup

Mine is kitty cat
G's is dog

want to see, too
want to see
don't fall down, G
peanut butter cup
no wipe me
saints go marching in

that's my bracelet
that's my bracelet
that's my bracelet 

L knocked me down
kiss me
right there

I see
dert time
I want orange

Here daddy
brush hair
brush brushh

shall be my strength
pray for us
pray for us
pray for us

I'm a dog
doggy stay here

my shovel
shovel grass
shovel fork for grass
two roosters

two candles shining

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ten Things We felt Guilty about Buying when my Husband was in Graduate school

A recent online discussion among friends in my husbands philosophy department made me remember something that I have known for years. We were discussing the unjustly low average salary of professors in the colleges of arts and science, and while it would be really nice if it was higher, it really is enough. In fact, it is much more than what we lived on for the first four years of our married life.

We got married in 2008, three months before the famous economy collapse, and as Sam Rocha wrote in his album Late to Love in the song Always Already Blues, "they say the economy is bad and things ain't going like they should, don't ask me, I wouldn't know, you see I was broke when times was good..." We were already planning on living on a tiny income anyway (graduate student stipend plus whatever income I could earn until we had our first child). 

So, we survived all four years of graduate school, M was one of the lucky philosophy PhDs to get a job, and we moved on to a salaried lifestyle. Now between a higher cost of living in general in the Twin cities (as opposed to Buffalo, NY) and higher insurance premiums, the money did not seem to go as far as we would have liked, but still, it is enough.

We have enough for a nice house in a nice neighborhood. We have enough to insure and maintain two cars. We have enough to eat healthy and diverse foods. We have enough to replace clothes that are worn out. We have enough to pay our heating bill. We have enough to keep our home nice. We have enough to have a garden. We have enough for fun presents for our children. We have enough to afford the medical expenses of a growing family. We have enough to feed four or more children. We have enough.

I knew when I married M that philosophy professors don't get rich, but I also knew that we would make a single income work for however many children we were blessed with. I knew that we would have to be frugal. I knew that we would make some sacrifices.

But we really have it much better than we did before, and so I present to you ten seemingly trivial things we felt guilty about buying while my husband was in graduate school:

Everyone thinks I am a boy in my green and yellow. Oh, the shame.

1) $5 pink hats and an Easter dress after my first daughter was born. We did not find out her gender until the moment after her birth, so her wardrobe was largely yellow and green. I felt extremely guilty spending a few dollars to buy her a pink hat so that everyone would know that she was, in fact, a girl. We had plenty of other gender neutral hats for the end of winter in Buffalo, and so I felt guilty. I also felt the need to dress her up at 4 weeks for her first Easter.

Easter 2012: I bought this $12 dress for a wedding with the gift card bought sweater to match. L's dress is handmade and G is in hand-me-downs.
2) Clothing. I felt we really had no money to spare on extraneous clothing, and so felt guilty whenever I wanted to buy a few new clothing items. When I did, I made sure I had just redeemed cash on my credit card (we did not carry a balance, it was for building credit and getting the cash) or had Christmas gifts to cover the cost. I would never spend more than $10 on an item for myself and preferred if I could get it for even less. I still feel guilty for spending more than $10 on items for myself. Frugality becomes a habit... and don't even ask me how much I have to spend on nursing friendly undergarments.

3) Yogurt in a large tub after I learned to make my own in the crockpot. You would think that buying not single size yogurt would be frugal enough, but no, I discovered I could cut the cost in half by making my own.

4) Pregnancy cravings. In early pregnancy I always have trouble eating, so I largely eat what I know I can stomach and what I crave. But a whole lot of guilt went into buying the foods I could eat, like Cheetos, pickles, ramen noodles, breakfast sandwiches at McDonalds (we saved a lot of money my second pregnancy because I could not go through the drive through with a window that would not role down. I also felt guilty buying the relatively healthy things I could stomach. They all cost more than our normal diet.

Books, books, books!
5) Books. My husband loves books, and buying books has been part of normal life for him since he was a child. But when we had libraries to go to, spending money on books seemed like a guilty pleasure. So, we often limited book buying to when we had gift cards or as Christmas or birthday presents.

6) Ordering Out Food. Sometimes it is nice to not worry about cooking or cleaning. We gave ourselves a reasonable for our income recreation budget, but it was still hard to stomach the expenditure and not mentally compare the cost it to me preparing the same food at home.

This bottle we got from M's parents. They had owned it for 20+ years.
7) Alcohol. I spent a lot of the time in graduate school pregnant, but when we could we liked to enjoy a bottle of wine or a beer. This too seemed like an unnecessary extra when money was already tight. When we did buy it, we made sure the cost fit within the limit of our allotted recreation budget.

8) Internet Service.
We actually lived without this at home for a year. I would use the internet at work or at the library and M had access on campus. But after the birth of our first, I asked if we could pay for internet access. I always felt guilty paying so much for it, but the life of a stay at home mom of a newborn gets lonely without the instant socializing the internet provides.
Craigslist crib, super on sale rocker, M's college trunk, and fleece curtains.
9) Home Decor. We decorated our home with things we already owned in our first apartment. When we moved into a two bedroom, I very guiltily upgrades to bedroom curtains from our fleece blanket curtains we had in our first bedroom. We also hated to buy any new furniture, and if we did we had to find it at the lowest price possible.

Wegmans was better in most areas, but Tops French Roast blend had better flavor and a better price tag when there was a sale.
10) Groceries and Tolietries not at the lowest price. I price checked everything. I knew where every item cost the least, and I would only buy it there. Also, most store brands are just as good as the name brand. (I still shop like this, but get over the guilt a little bit faster if I have to buy it somewhere else).

Even with more financial freedom, we still try to remember to limit our expenditures. It is good for our souls to live simply, and to remember the lessons we learned about prudent spending habits when we had so little. But really, we have always had enough, and I would say we have flourished.

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