Sunday, January 31, 2010


I've been having shopping envy lately, and purse shopping envy in particular. Sometimes I forget that we live in a newfangled age where window-shopping online is an option, and then when I do remember...IT'S MAGICAL.

Shop with me, will you? I went to Etsy, because duh. Thousands of gorgeous, handmade options at my fingertips. And here are some of the things I would have drooled over if I'd been able to caress them in person:

I think this one called out to me with promises of spring. That sweet little birdy is singing to me. Can you hear that?

Robin Black Birdy by Ikabags

I love the pleats and sunset-y prints splashed across this one. They're simple but noticeable.Mimosa Khaki by Ikabags

And I ADORE the details on this gray linen one. The lime accents? So cute.

French Linen by Ikabags

I must just be in a bright, colorful mindset right now to detract from winter's never ending cold. But if I had this gorgeous orange'd be like summer all year long.

And when I'm not in a summery mood, I've been fluctuating to cozy, flirty moods. It is almost Valentine's Day. Doesn't that holiday deserve a purse of its own?

But then my practical side reasserts itself...this black and white floral purse would be a nice compliment to so many of my neutral shirts. Neutral is my friend. At least when paired with a funky, patterned bag.

I do love this bold purple, too. Such a pretty little color. Not loud, but still eye-catching.

Here we are again with bright, springy, hopeful colors and patterns. This green purse looks positively energetic. My eyes just gravitate towards this stuff right now, as opposed to the gray and frozen view outside my windows.

Now these little beauties are quite a bit smaller and I love their colorful fabrics. This one just looks happy, don't you think?

Another sweet and romantic purse for a possible Valentine's Day date. Perhaps I should go on lots of V-day dates... are so close, yet so far. This purse reminds me of you, my pretty, blossoming season.

And OK. This one initially caught my eye with its sweet bow and wide panel at the top. Then on closer inspection, the pattern is bicycles. I couldn't decide whether or not I really liked them, but you know who would? My husband, the avid cyclist. He'd go gaga for the bikes. He'd be out of his mind with excitement that I was joining him in his love for bicycles.

Bike Ride by Katie Gariepy

And if he's out of his mind, he's more likely to overlook the handful of other purses I got at the same time. Bikes trump all.

Do you like any of these purses better than the others? I have trouble picking one favorite. Which is why I'm a terrible shopper.

Which one is your favorite? Or where do you shop when you need a good, adorable purse?

Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, #48

1. Apparently, I have a problem with music. I can't seem to listen to it lately without causing either myself or my family some sort of harm or confusion. Last week, there was the run in with nasty lyrics, and this week...well this week's offense was a little different.

Justin had just gotten home from work while I finished making dinner. We had some children's music on Pandora (thanks to Gail for the recommendation!) and I was dancing around the kitchen to some funky alphabet song. (Actually it could have been a bird song, for all I remember. The beat was funky, that's all I recall. What happened next has blurred the exact details in my memory; a case of my brain trying to erase the deed from ever happening.)

Bumping and shaking my rear end to the beat, I felt a tap behind me. Knowing the husband was in that general area, I assumed it was him smacking me as he walked past. I, of course, swung my back side into the tap, trying to play along with his flirtation. Except, it wasn't him.

"Sarah!" he blurted. "You just knocked Lauren over!"

Confused, I swiveled around and sure enough: Lauren was sprawled on the floor, staring up at me with worry.

That's right. I'd slammed my hiney into my toddler's head, throwing her to the ground. All for the love of a funky beat.

2. Due to the quickly browning and nearly festering bananas on my counter yesterday, Mia and I made banana bread. (Boy. If that doesn't make you want to be invited over for a fresh, warm slice of bread, nothing will.) But I was puzzled by the recommendation I'd never noticed before at the end of the recipe: Cool and wrap tightly overnight; wait until the next morning to slice the bread. So puzzled was I, that I went ahead and tried a slice to see what the heck they were talking about. It was perfectly delicious. 3 sweet slices later, I'd gathered enough evidence to decide that the recipe was a scam. Nobody should postpone the consumption of warm banana bread.

3. Sunday night, my eyes were so, so ready to be closed for bedtime and Justin was still flipping through our 6 channels. I'd gotten ready for bed and come back to the living room to say goodnight when I saw what he'd clicked to: Masterpiece Theater...Emma...The newest version...One I'd never seen! I was so excited! This one looked really good, with modern production and wonderful actors. But, it was 11:00 at night. I was way past tired: I was dead on my feet. Still, I couldn't tear myself away. Justin went to bed with a promise from me that I'd be right behind him. I kept telling myself I'd stop once I'd seen Emma befriend Harriet. Once I'd seen Mr. Knightly get upset with Emma for meddling in Harriet's proposal. Once Mr. Elton tried to propose in the carriage. Once I'd seen Jane Fairfax. Frank Churchill! Augusta Elton!

I finally gave up after Frank Churchill. Knowing the girls would be awake early tomorrow morning no matter how late I stayed up, I went to bed an hour and a half after I'd intended to. So sad that I'd not been able to watch more.

To my great (disproportionate, astounding) joy, Betty Duffy posted yesterday that the first installment of the movie is available on the PBS website! And I somehow managed to restrain myself until bedtime to finish watching it. So wonderful. Really, I think this newest adaptation is my favorite one yet.

Notwithstanding Clueless, of course. That one is too perfect to be improved upon.

4. This weekend is supposed to be a wonderful one. Tomorrow we've planned to take Mia to the 'bouncy slides!' place as a reward for enough chores and good deeds accumulated on her sticker chart over the last few weeks. (She's been really receptive to the whole sticker chart thing, which I keep meaning to tell you guys more about. Are you interested in hearing more? Or will it bore your retinas off?) Also, we're getting together with a group of several of my high school BFF's and their husbands/babies for a long-time-no-see gathering. I'm so looking forward to this! The only thing is...

Our weather forecast looks like this:

Right above that big '6', covered by the big blue blob, is my house. And scattered within the blue blob's expanse are the houses of all my friends, and the bounce house. Wish us luck. If the party with friends falls through, I'll be sad. But if the bounce house visit falls through, Mia's disappointment will be heard far and wide. Even the silence of newfallen snow won't muffle her sobs.

5. My parents have a dog named Copper. A sweet, loyal dog who thinks he's a strapping, young boy. I went with my dad on an errand last weekend, and the strapping, young boy-dog hopped right into his normal backseat spot. He travels often, too attached to leave my dad's side for long. While my dad ran into a store, Copper and I sat in the truck waiting.

I tried to make conversation. I told him he was handsome. But he studiously avoided me, like he thought I was going to try to kidnap him or something. Never to reunite him with his daddy ever again.

"Copper," I sang. He ignored me.

"Copper!" I demanded. He merely glanced at me from the corner of his disdainful eye.

"Copper, over here buddy," I cajoled. He might as well have put his paw in my face, talk-to-the-hand style. He just wasn't going to acknowledge my presence.

"Copper, why are you so snobby?!" I couldn't believe he was ignoring me!. Then came the ultimate insult:

I'm thinking he doesn't like me.

6. Which brings me to this: I'm not really much of a dog-lover. Copper is sweet (if a bit suspicious) and a really good-natured, smart dog, but I'm always happy to come home to my dogless house. And it's strange because I always had and loved dogs as a child. I think I'm just too unwilling to let an animal take up my ever-decreasing time, and I've never met a dog who wasn't high maintenance. Or maybe it's me who's a high-maintenance pet owner. Whatever the case, I'm happy with our (outdoor, for the love of pete) cat.

What do you find yourself liking more...cats or dogs? And why, pray tell?

7. Mia has this habit of walking through the door and stopping in her tracks to throw off her coat and shoes. Then they're left in a heap right where the rest of us need to walk. I finally got some sort of brain in my head and realized I could just tell her not to do that instead of wait for it to happen and get frustrated about it.

So that's what I did. When you get inside, Mia, please put your coat on the chair and your shoes someplace out of the middle of the floor so we don't trip over them.

She listened.

It might not be exactly what I had in mind, but it's a step in the right direction.

Thanks for shootin' the breeze with me today, and have a gorgeous weekend! Stop over at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hide And Seek

She doesn't really know how to play the game yet.

Sparkling with giddy excitement and just a touch of fearsome nerve, she darts through the house, hiding in secret spots while her daddy counts to ten. He's a good sport about it -- the conspicuous hiding places and predictable routines of this repeated game. Winking over at me while counting in his most ominous tone, I think he's the most gorgeous man alive.

From a back room she squeals with laughter, signaling her readiness to be found. Her willing seeker sets off, pretending to wonder where on earth she could be hiding. Knowing without a doubt that she's squatting -- yet again --behind the pink recliner in her sister's room, but still putting up a big wondering fuss over her elusive whereabouts. He pulls open the closet door with an impressive amount of confidence that he will find her...but to no avail. He appears comically confused. Next, the bed is peered under, blankets are ruffled, toys are tossed aside. Through nervous peals of laughter, she suddenly yells, I'm behind the chair! She jumps out, proud of her ability to stump her daddy again. He shows appropriately gushing admiration for her stealth and ingenuity, and switches gears. It's his turn to hide.

She orders him to run and hide right here! But, not willing to be beaten again, he refuses to follow her guidelines. She gives begrudging approval of his idea to hide in a place un-dictated by herself, and turns her face to a wall to count. Sometimes her one through ten goes by in a flash...sped up by excitement...and sometimes it drags on as she savors the anticipation of the hunt. Ready or not! Here I come! Where are you daddy?! Hugging a teddy bear in the crook of her arm, she moves through the house with stiffened, nervous legs. She knows it'll give her a fright when she actually finds him, but oh! the happy torture it is to wonder when, and where.

From behind a door, he jumps out as she peeks around it and they both scream their greetings. Their noise dissolves into laughter and giggles, and the game repeats.

I watch, entranced, while she practices the art of hide and seek. I can't imagine what the next several years will bring. My sweet girl -- shouting out her exact location, willing to be found in the same place time after time -- is growing into her secret self.

How much longer will she announce her hiding places? How much longer will she want to search for us knowing she's nervous to actually find us?

In that sense, is it wrong to hope she never really knows how to play the game?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The temptation is just too hard to resist...

Leaving an impatient toddler with a bitter mouthful instead of a sweet treat.

I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Swappin' Stuff

I have the most awesome women in my family. They plan things like Broadway Skits, Birthday Carnivals, and most recently, a Stuff Swap. Have you heard of these before? The idea is for each guest (in our case: ladies only, friends and family) to bring 10 items, more or less, they want to get rid of. Nice things like books, sweaters, paintings, shelves. Shampoo, wine glasses, towels, picture frames.

Then, each guest draws a number and takes a turn picking out one item from the pile of offerings to take home again. Stuff...being swapped.

When your number is up, you get to peruse the stuff and take the coolest thing you can find. It's like going shopping, but for free. We went through the list of 15 numbers six or eight times (who can remember?!) before deciding the rest should be donated away. There was haggling, name calling, and bargaining scattered all over the evening; it was terrific. Add some of this:

And you might end up with a little bit of this:

Scores were celebrated:

Competition was trash-talked:

Amazing discoveries were made:

Yes, those are my shy little tootsies sporting some new red stretch faux-snakeskin knee-high boots. I think the boots need a name. Suggestions?

More importantly, I need to now come up with an occasion on which to actually wear them. You know, without my face turning a matching shade of mortified. They are super cute...but...

You all know my boot difficulties.

Monday, January 25, 2010

While I Hum A Merry Tune

Sometimes at the end of the day, bathtime is the least appealing thing to be faced with. Yes, my girls are adorable all lathered up and splashing (and I'm thankful that we have warm water in which to splash, agreed), but...ugh. It's probably been a long day by that point and I'm ready for the handsome husband to take over while I do something else. Something quiet and alone. Every so often I'd rather be cleaning up the dinner mess, folding laundry, staring at the sunset, anything but another minute of chattering noise and attention.

This is selfish of me, yes.

But it is true.

One night last week, Justin read my open book of a face and said some magical words which I vow never to forget:

Why don't you vacuum while I take care of bathtime?

I looked at him with adoration and a slightly weepy countenance. Right now? I asked. You want me to...skip I can vacuum?

He nodded in encouragement, and I planted a kiss square on his lips. My hero.

A few months ago, I would have been as equally averse to both bathtime and vacuuming at the end of tiring day. But one of my best Christmas gifts changed all of that:

Now I am a card-carrying, sonnet-singing, machinery-praising Dyson owner, thanks to Justin's mom. It's so powerful. And light. And efficient. And gorgeous. I turn it on and transform into a graceful dancer; the Dyson follows my confident lead, and together -- a perfect team -- we clean house.

The magnificent purple ball (the engine, I believe) rolls over our old, worn-out carpet, seeking hidden dust and crumbs, sweeping away the evidence of toddlers. I push my lovely Dyson one handed, gracefully moving around furniture and marveling at the swirling nastiness encapsulated within its canister. I sigh. I smile. The fact that I'm doing this while bathtime is underway is just too perfect for words. It's just me and the vacuum. Dancing all over the house.

Plus, there's the added benefit of getting to peer into the canister and squeal with disgusted glee over the sheer volume of junk that gets trapped in our carpet. Justin has been angling for months to put in wood laminate flooring to alleviate the feeling of dust-infested carpet underfoot. But now? No sir. I want carpet. I need carpet. My Dyson and I MUST HAVE CARPET to dance upon. We need carpet to further the time we have to get to know one another, and we're only getting started. I only know that I love it.

Our old vacuum took all of my (limited, but feisty) muscle power to monster its way around the house. It was stunningly loud -- the girls would cower together on a bed, behind a closed door, until the terrifying creature was finished roaring. The Dyson, not so much. I can hold a conversation with a brave little girl who watches from the couch as the box of cereal she upturned in the living room is being swept away. I can hear myself composing love poems to the beautiful appliance. I can hear my adorable woodland creature friends chirping and ooh-ing and ahh-ing and coo-ing at the efficiency and speed with which my household chores are completed.

Fine. That last part was clearly stolen from a fairy tale.

My household chores are never completed with efficient speed, though my woodland friends are supportive of my efforts. Even a Dyson can't fix lazy.

But it's sure doing a good job convincing me of its loveliness in the meantime. Especially when that convincing begins at precisely the same hour as bathtime.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Snippets

Mia is sitting in Lauren's room -- door closed -- singing and humming to her baby doll.

Mama: OK, Mia. It's time to get dressed, let's go pick something to wear!
Mia: Shhh. (Hushed) My baby was scared, so I'm singing love to her.
Mama: *whispering* What a sweet mommy you are! Do you like it when mama sings love to you, too?
Mia: *dismissive* No. I'm the only one who sings love.


Around the kitchen table, Justin and Mia are squabbling about the correct way to sing a certain tune. I suspect they're both imagining a different tune in their heads, so will never agree. I bust out in a singing/dancing routine, complete with dishtowel flourishes and sweeping gestures to distract them.

Family: *stunned into silence*
Mama: Oh, come on! I can't even believe I knew all of those words!
Justin: Yeah, can you imagine if you'd forgotten them? You might've looked dumb.


Laying Mia down for naptime, we have one of our usual dialogues: The "I love you more than.." contest.

Mama: I love you...brighter than the twinkling stars.
Mia: I love you...colder than snow!
Mama: Oooh! I love you...deeper than the ocean.
Mia: I love you...sweeter than sugar!
Mama: Yum! That's really sweet! Okay, babe. It's time for sleep now.
Mia: No, wait -- can I have one last question?
Mama: Alright, but then it's time for sleep. Your last question is...Do you love me...higher than a mountain?
Mia: *giggling* No, mom! Not higher than that!
Mama: *feigning horror*
Mia: It's OK, mom. Maybe higher than a really small mountain.

I'm just hoping some of you had a weekend filled with love and respect, 'cause I got nothin'. There are a few hours left, though...

Friday, January 22, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, #47

1. My girls were given the sweetest new shirts for Christmas, and I've been meaning to show them to you. However, on the first day the shirts were worn, they got good and stained and it's taken me this long to return them to wearability.

Cute, no? Even better is that they were gifts from my incredibly sweet and far-too-busy-to-be-making-gifts-for-her-blog-buddy friend, Lenae. Are you impressed with her craftiness and thoughtfulness?! I absolutely was. Thank you again, Lenae. I'd take you out for a milkshake and chat if I could.

2. Earlier this week, we were driving with the windows rolled down and the radio blasting the Beastie Boys. I sang (shouted?) along loudly, dancing the bucket-seat-dance while Justin eyed me suspiciously and the girls laughed from the backseat. We were fighting for our right to Paaaaaartay. Toss you outta this house if that's the clothes you're gonna WAY-er! I'll kick you outta my house if you don't CUT THAT HAIR! The lyrics are goofy and not something I really want my kids to listen to, but in the moment, we were rocking out and I had no worries. It had been years since I'd heard that song, but I was sure there weren't any bad words in it.

All was going well until... Man, livin at home is such a drag. Now your mom threw away your best p*rno mag!

Yikes! About the time they sang mom threw away, I remembered what came next. In my befuddled maternal way, I reached for somebody's mouth to cover up so the words couldn't be said, but...whose mouth can you cover when you're listening to the radio? Nobody's. I threw my hand out and waved it in front of the dashboard frantically, singing LALALALA! until the bad part was over.

Leave it to me in my panic to forget about turning the volume down, or better yet, pushing the OFF button. Sigh. Thankfully, my LALALALA's were distracting enough that the word wasn't heard by my innocent babies. Who won't be innocent for long if mama insists on rocking out in the car.

Do you have a guilty music-pleasure?

3. Do you remember when I canned my own tomatoes? It was quite the ordeal -- for me, anyway. I worked so hard and sweated and fussed....and only got 6 jars of garden tomatoes out of the deal. But man, was I proud. I stowed them in my pantry, vowing not to use them until the dead of winter was upon us and I'd be desperate for a taste of summertime freshness.

Now -- it's the dead of winter. But I'd been putting off using the tomatoes because...what if they were terrible? What if I worked so hard and it hadn't been successful in the end? What if they were poisoned by my lack of knowledge in canning, and would sicken us all?

Knowing deep down that the tomatoes would probably be fine, I gathered my courage and used a jar for a recipe last week. Or, I tried to. It took me a sweet eternity to figure out how to open the jar. First of all, the screw lid was, like, melded to the jar. I used elbow grease, jar grippers, core muscles, and entreaties to heaven, but the jars were NOT coming open. Eventually, I remembered an old-fashioned contraption stuck to the side of my fridge. Yep -- you guessed it -- the can opener. I stuck the pointy end under the lid and pried it all the way around the edge until the lid finally relinquished its grasp. It was off! Hooray! Next problem? The sealed inner lid. Before remembering the can opener again, I nearly flipped all of my nails backwards trying to peel off the lid. I'd never seen this done before! How was I to know!? (If you say common sense, I'll be mighty upset. You would, of course, be right. But still.)

Eventually, the jar was open, the contents were sniffed, the tomatoes were poured into the minestrone soup, the spoonful was carefully tasted (with eyes squinched shut), and the tomatoes were deemed...delicious.

And now I'm armed with another life lesson: How To Open A Home-Canned Jar Of Tomatoes. Be very, very proud.

4. I have an announcement to make: MY BROTHER STARTED HIS VERY OWN BLOG! He's the super talented and creative sort, and he's been working with leather and other materials to make custom knife sheaths. I know all of you lovely ladies probably won't be too interested in sheaths, but what about the men in your lives? My brother would love to make a custom knife sheath for them if they like that sort of thing, so send them over to take a look. And check it out yourselves to leave him some comment-encouragement!

5. Yesterday was a dull and dreary day at Heavenly House, and I had alot running through my head when I should have been paying attention to the kids in their after-lunch/pre-nap play time. To relieve the doldrums, I followed Lucy The Valiant's advice and Googled 'find Chuck Norris' (the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' way). It was so entertaining that I just stared at the screen and giggled for far too long. So long, in fact, that it took me a few minutes to realize the house was silent. Here's what happened while I Googled Chuck:

Marker up the nose. Sweet.

I'm blaming this on Lucy.

6. My Quick Takes have been so un-quick this week that I'm leaving number 6 with nothing. You're welcome.

7. And for the end, here's a sweet reminder to keep looking up:

Life is better when you're smiling.

Have a smile-filled weekend, friends, and stop by Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What We Found At The Library, #9

Simple, repetitive, quick, rhyming, colorful, and interactive -- each are wonderful qualities for a toddler's book, and this one has them all. Sheep of all colors, shapes, and personalities are described in this cute book, but always with the underlying question, Where is the green sheep? It was a perfect opportunity for Lauren to focus on a question while disguising it as a rhyming adventure. And each page is full of comparisons: scared sheep, brave sheep; hot sheep, cold sheep; up sheep, down sheep. There was a lot of really good (fun) information for a toddler to absorb in this little book, and absorb it, she did. We must have read this book fifty times during the two weeks we had it. And I only started to get sick of it around day 10 -- impressive.

Lauren's Other Favorite: The Odd Egg, by Emily Gravett

It was such a toss-up between Green Sheep and Odd Egg for Lauren's favorite this time, that I decided to include them both. This book (by the same author as Orange Pear Apple Bear) is really wonderful, allowing the reader to explore suspense, humor, and a little bit of danger without being truly scared. The main character (besides the giant, spotted egg) is Duck. All of Duck's friends -- Owl, Flamingo, Parrot, Chicken -- are waiting for their eggs to hatch, but Duck alone is eggless. In one of my favorite illustrations, Duck stares pointedly between his outstretched legs where his egg should be safely nestled, while the other birds warm their eggs. Desperate, Duck finds a rather interesting egg to call his own, though it's clearly not a duck's egg. Duck knits booties and a scarf anyway. He patiently perches atop his speckled egg and waits to meet his baby. While each egg creak, cracks open to reveal a newborn bird, their parents all watch closely to see what will happen when the enormous 'duck' egg cracks open. Another of my favorite illustrations shows the wise owls shying away, suspicious of what will emerge. And they were right to do so...because out of the egg snaps a huge open-jawed crocodile, threatening to gobble up every last one of those snooty, proud birds. On the back inside cover, the author has drawn the crocodile dressed in his booties and scarf, happily following his 'mama' duck. We all loved this funny, wonderfully drawn book, and snapped threateningly at each other for days after returning it to the library. It comes highly recommended from my crocodile-loving baby girls.

In this imaginative book, a little girl is so smitten with her pink cupcakes that she eats...and eats...until she turns pink as well. While she's thrilled with the change -- She's Pinkerbelle! She's Pinkerella! -- her parents are downright horrified. They cart her to the doctor who prescribes a diet of green things and absolutely NO more pink cupcakes. Not worried in the slightest, Pinkalicious goes about her ways until she goes just one cupcake too far...and turns red. Finally worried about her atrocious red hue (and I can totally relate here...), she subjects herself to everything green in the house. Pickles, brussels sprouts, lima beans, whatever is green is consumed. And lo - her red and pink skin fades back to a perfect child-colored tone. Mia loved this book for one basic reason: Pink. Okay, two reasons: Pink and Cupcakes. The story was cute and outrageous, perfect for a creative preschooler with imagination to spare.

A boy and his handmade boat are inseparable in the beginning of this gorgeous book. Held tight by a string in the grip of the boy, the toy boat vaguely wonders what it would be like to sail free with the big boats he sees across the water. When a storm passes through and wrenches the string from the boy's grip, the boat finally gets his chance. But being so tiny in the wake of such huge boats is terrifying, and the toy boat struggles to stay afloat. Each boat he encounters has a menacing face and its own scary personality on the waves, making the innocent toy boat wonder if he'll ever see the kind face of his owner again. The illustrations in this book are lovely -- bright and realistic, thoughtful and intense, detailed and gorgeous. The story itself is full of hope and hard lessons learned about both independence and self-reliance. I really liked this book, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I was the only member of my family who did. Justin thought it was boring, Mia endured it a few times, and Lauren didn't give it the time of day. I'd love to find a kindred Toy Boat spirit out there, though...any takers?

Your turn! What did you all find at the library (or bookstore!) that you've been enjoying lately?

PS - I decided this week to discontinue the Mr. Linky list because the old ones get deleted with each new list that gets added. So I won't be able to go back and find your links as time goes on. If you don't mind, please just leave your link in the comments (copy and paste, or make it an actual link) so I'll always have proof of your participation. You can't hide, now...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Come On Over!

It's time again, my friends, for another visit to the bookshelves! Tomorrow is What We Found At The Library day, and I know you all have some good books to share with the masses. (The masses being anyone who reads This Heavenly Life. And masses may be an overstatement. But still.)

So come back tomorrow with your most recent library finds (or bookstore finds, if you so wish), and we'll discuss them over tea and scones.

Coffee and muffins.

Water and bread.

Slushies and Snickers.

Basically, whatever's on hand in your corner of the world.

I'll see you tomorrow, book list in hand!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Can Quit Any Time I Want

We had just a few minutes yesterday between washing up from our afternoon walk and piling into the car to head out for a quick dinner. And when any spare moment presents itself, I'm usually doing one of two things: Checking my blog for comments or sneaking a bite of baked goods. Since dinner was imminent, I opted for the former. Also, I was fresh out of baked goods.

I bent down to the screen and logged on to my computer for a quick check, but nothing happened. The internet wasn't working. I tried to reconnect, tried to wither its tenacity with harsh touchpad taps, but it wasn't happening. We left for dinner. I was only slightly peeved. I had faith in the internet -- the perfect, glorious, friendly internet -- to be there for me when I got home.

One greasy, delicious, frozen-custard-topped dinner later, and we were home again. The girls were running around with pre-bedtime/post-sugar energy to burn, so I oozed over to the computer, fully expecting to log on with nary a problem.


A network cable is unplugged. Uhm...but...I have...wireless...though...

This computer has limited or no connectivity. What the heck is connectivity? Like, cords? BUT WE'RE WIRELESS.

Would you like Windows to search for a solution to this problem? Well, duh. I obviously have no idea what to do. Also, hurry up!

I clicked the buttons to begin the solve, and went about the business of getting the girls ready for bathtime. I was suddenly convinced that I'd missed tons of comments by this point, waiting to be approved by a connectivity-challenged blog owner. I was being rude! People would be trying to contact me and feel like I was ignoring them! Plus, I had two posts in mind that I needed to write down before they dissolved into forgotten bits of idea. This just wouldn't do.

I picked up my smaller laptop and carried it to our bedroom, closer to the modem and router. I say that like I know what it means. I don't; I was just following the instructions on the screen, and hoping for a sudden burst of network connection. But I guess a computer isn't like a cell phone, where sometimes waving it in the air will pick up a better signal...which I only tried a few times...because nothing was boosting my internet access.

I began to really worry. It had become such a necessary part of my day...making contact with people through my blog, through Facebook, through email...that I was uncertain how to proceed without it. I'd have to find some other way to contact people. I'd have to go to my brother's house, or the library, or Starbuck's. I'd have to put a disclaimer on my blog apologizing for the lack of posting because I was stuck in the dark ages with no internet. I'd have to disable comment moderation so the comments wouldn't be stuck in my dashboard for days at a time while I searched for ways to find a blessed connection.

On the other hand, I could read a book during naps and all evening without interruption. I could get the house super clean. I could go to bed early.

But what about my friends? What would I be missing out on while their blogs and Facebook statuses kept moving forward and I remained behind?! And by this time, hours had passed with no ability to check for comments on my latest post. I was sure I'd have a long list of thoughtful comments to approve...I NEEDED MY INTERNET!

I gave up hope of ever figuring out the problem on my own and began whining to Justin about the dismal state of our internet connection. He stopped what he was doing to look at the computer, and I tried to find joy in picking out pajamas and filling the bathtub.

No sooner than I'd gotten the girls undressed and into the bathroom, Justin peeked his head around the door. "You owe me one," he smirked.

"YOU FIXED IT?!?!?" I rushed to the nearest computer, and behold: Yahoo was greeting me with such fascinating topics as Sharapova's recent fashion blunder in Australia, and a discovery about a new species of warbler. I logged onto Blogger with relief, knowing I'd be swamped with comments to be moderated. My poor, loyal readers. They'd probably thought I'd deleted their comments by now! I'm coming! I thought, Never fear!

My beloved dashboard popped up, and there...

1 comment is awaiting moderation.

Okay. So I wasn't hurting tons of people's feelings with my hours of disappearance. And that one comment was so sweet, it made me immediately happy. Like a shot of some addictive drug, right to my ego.

Ahhh, the internet. It's a beautiful, ugly thing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Is Just A Test

My hand was weak. I dragged the pen across the page with more effort than it should have taken to lift such a light object. I worked at it, though, forcing myself to concentrate because I knew it had to be done. I wrote out the words my family would need to hear.


On the first sheet of paper, my handwriting had started out smooth and easy, flowing from smooth and easy thoughts, illuminating the words I wouldn't be able to speak. I wrote about how much I loved my daughters. I wrote to Mia about things she would face in life that would be difficult -- painful -- but that would eventually help her grow into a strong and capable young woman. I explained how deeply I loved her, how desperately I wanted -- right then -- to see each expression on her face and feel each bone in her body to prove to myself that she'd been real and perfect. Not just a figment of my exhausted brain's imagination. I wrote about how blessed I felt for being allowed the privilege of learning to be her mother. My throat constricted when I imagined her without me, but I would not cry. It would tire me out too much to cry.

The words took up so much space on the page that they became cramped and contorted towards the bottom. The effort drained me. Shuffling around for a second sheet of paper, I thought to take a break for regain my strength. But I knew that if I paused, my chance would be over, my time would be up, and the ones I loved most wouldn't have any piece of me left to hold on to.

I wrote on, this time to Lauren. I tried to explain how lovely she was and how fully I'd adored her. Her being the younger one, I was terrified that she'd grow up not remembering how much love I showered upon her precious head, every moment of the day. I needed her to understand how much I'd cherished her, and how I'd planned years and years for us to get to know each other. I wrote to her about the way she buried her head in my neck when she was nervous or sick, and how much I loved the way her hair felt against my cheek. I wrote about the lullabies she requested night after night, spelling out the words so she'd maybe maybe be able to hear my voice in them. Even if the words were more and more scribbled, less and less legible, I wanted her to have them.

And my husband. I searched for a third sheet of paper. Not only were my hands worn out now, but my arms as well. The desire to just...sleep...washed over me in dusky, quiet waves. My head searched for a place to lay, but it was as if my hands were in control now. With heavy eyes and slow breath, I moved the pen across the paper, barely knowing what was being written. I hoped it was something wonderful. Something magical that Justin could look at and know what I was writing. Although my love was pouring over the blank sheet, I could no longer move it into a recognizable form. But I kept going. It was important that he see my passion. I knew he would understand. I knew he would cherish it.

The muscles that had been controlling my body stopped working. The pen was perched in my loosening grip, its ink still ready, still available. But my words were over. With the weight of my children fresh in my mind -- their silky hair...their round cheeks...their warm arms -- and the memory of my husband's breath on my neck, I closed my eyes. I rested. I was gone.

And then...

Music tumbled from my alarm clock.

I woke up with tears in my eyes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, #46

A few weeks ago, Young Mom did her Quick Takes in a 'Random Facts About Me' style, and I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd borrow her idea. Thanks, Young Mom!

1. I have to sleep with my feet covered, even in the warmest weather. They can't be hanging off the edge of the bed or peeking out from any blankets -- they must be safely tucked under covers. But not with socks on. I cannot sleep with socks on.

2. In fact, I'd rather be barefoot all the time.

3. I would probably enjoy shellfish if it weren't for the texture. There's something... bouncy... about it, on my teeth. Do you know what I mean?

4. For some inexplicable reason, I've grown indifferent to ice cream in my old age. It's too sweet, too rich, and too cold. But do people really not like ice cream? Is this a phase I'll outgrow?

5. I don't care how awful and terrible it may actually be, Dirty Dancing is still one of my very favorite movies. Sadly, I've still not been successful in convincing Justin to watch it with me. 10 years, and he still won't budge.

6. I truly love watching a lawn being mowed. The tall grass being tucked up under the mower and emerging short and even, the neat rows left behind, the cut grass piling's soothing somehow. And now, in the middle of winter, I'm almost fantasizing about watching a green lawn being mowed.

7. Before I began blogging, I read all the 'big' mom-bloggers. The famous ones like Dooce and Finslippy and Chris Jordan. Mom-101. Pioneer Woman. But since beginning my own blog, I've all but stopped visiting their sites. The only one I still visit from time to time is Pioneer Woman, and that's for her cooking. I realized that if I left a comment on any of those places, the writer would probably never notice it, and what I was truly looking for in blogging were connections. I wanted to make friends and share experiences. I wanted to write and read, but do it with friends. And now, I've realized something else -- the bloggers I've come to be friends with are more interesting and funny and engaging than any of the big-timers. Maybe it's because I feel connected with you all. Never's probably because you guys just rock.

Now it's your turn...tell me a random fact about yourself! And head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes to start off your weekend right!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

For Your Soul

Thank you to everyone who made my mouth water with recipes for The Great Heavenly Soup Swap of 2010! I can't wait to try some of them out. I think I'll need to load up on potatoes, because it seems like you all love potato soup. Which means, you are a smart bunch.

I got a few requests for my Chicken Noodle Soup/Chicken & Dumplings recipe, and I DO apologize for taking so long. It's just that...I don't really have a recipe for those things. Not in their entirety, anyway. I have too much of my mom in me, and we don't like to follow recipes once we know what we're doing. And sometimes even when we have no clue, we still fly by the seats of our pants. But for you, FOR YOU, I'm writing down a recipe...more like a method, really. It's neither fancy nor special, just simple and delicious.

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 cups Chicken Broth (Homemade, all the way. I use a variation of Pioneer Woman's recipe.*)
1/4 onion, finely diced **
2 cloves garlic, super-finely diced**
1 Tbsp butter
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 Tbsp (more or less to taste) chicken base***
2 cups cooked chicken, pulled into bite-sized pieces
Salt & Pepper to taste
Your favorite egg noodles (I love the homemade kind, but if I can't manage, I buy frozen. And I usually can't manage. Dried noodles from the pasta aisle are perfect too. Whatever you prefer.)

* For the broth and cooked chicken, I only stray from PW's recipe slightly. I add 3 or so cloves of garlic, whole, and skip the seasoning salts. Sometimes I leave out the celery and carrots, too, since I always add them in my soup later anyway.

** My lactation consultant once told me, during a particularly awful wintertime bug, that the best thing I could do for relief was to eat homemade chicken noodle soup -- with LOTS of onions and garlic. They boost your immune system and the steamy soup just feels good going down. So, for any nursing moms who can't take decongestants, load up on the soup. It's not just a cliche!

*** Do you use Chicken base? It's like bouillon, but in a paste form. I don't know a thing about it, other than (a) Both my local small-town grocery store and Wal-mart carry it and (b) It's transformed my chicken soup. LOVE IT. You could substitute regular bouillon, but...I would furrow my brows and be sad for your soup.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Set aside until the rest of the soup is ready.

In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add celery, carrots, broth, and chicken base. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, until veggies are tender. Taste the broth, and add salt & pepper as desired. If it's too rich (or salty), add as much water as needed to tame it down. If it's too bland, add more chicken base. Turn the heat down to low, and add the chicken pieces to be warmed. This can stay on low for awhile, or be eaten immediately with the addition of the cooked noodles.

See? Lauren loves it. She ate 3 bowls last night. Minus the bright, obvious carrots, of course.

Now. For Chicken and Dumplings, I start out the exact same way, omitting the noodles. You could put noodles in and then top it all with dumplings, but that seems awfully carb-alicious, no? Not that I have any thing against carbs. Au contraire. Carbs love me I and love Carbs. I've just never tried noodles and dumplings before. Anybody care to experiment and let me know how it goes?

Chicken and Dumplings

Basic Chicken Soup (same as above, minus noodles)
1/2 cup broth (skimmed from soup)
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Bisquick (or other baking mix)
2 cups Bisquick (or other baking mix)
2/3 cup milk

When soup is well-seasoned and perfect, steal 1/2 cup broth from it into a small bowl. Add 1 Tbsp butter and stir until melted. Add 1/2 cup baking mix (making a cheap roux, I think) and stir until smooth. Pour this into the waiting soup (which should be on low), thickening and smoothing it into a more stew-like mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups baking mix and 2/3 cup milk just until combined to form a wet dough. Think: drop biscuits, but wetter. Scoop spoonfuls (maybe 1/4 cup per scoop?) of the dough directly on top of the (still simmering) chicken soup, dotting the entire surface. The dough will sink slightly into the soup, but not be completely submerged. Turn heat up just a tiny bit to medium-low, and let soup & dumplings cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Then cover, turn heat back down to low, and cook for 10 more minutes.

When time's up, the dumplings will still look a tiny bit moist on the tops, but should be completely cooked through -- soft and steamy -- on the inside. You can tear the top off of one if you're doubtful, but 10 minutes uncovered, followed by 10 minutes covered, should be perfect.

If you don't have baking mix, you could just substitute a few tablespoons of plain flour to the 1/2 cup broth and butter to make the thickener. I imagine it would work perfectly. And for the dumplings, I found this recipe (which I've never used, but I think looks easy enough):

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, combine milk and oil. Add wet to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened, forming a wet dough. Drop by spoonfuls onto soup mixture (same as above) and cook (same as above.)

Whew! Do you see why I'm not a food blogger? I can't shut up long enough to let you go cook anything.

Nevertheless, I am finally finished.

Enjoy your soup!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Particular Torture

Tucking Mia into bed last night, I knew that this morning was going to be a rough one.

"Mom, I'm NOT going to go to school tomorrow, OK?" she demanded. "If I say I'm not, you just say 'Oh, alright', OK? And I'll just stay home, OK?" Her eyes were stubborn, but veiled with worry.

Not wanting to immediately squash her trust, I hedged around a direct answer. "Why not, sweetie? Why don't you want to go to school?"

"I just don't....I don' it anymore." she said. "So don't take me, OK?"

"Honey," I placated, "I'm sorry you don't want to go, but we have to. Besides, all your friends will be there waiting for you. You might get to do Play-doh, and..."


I tried to end the conversation as smoothly as possible, without it disintegrating into an outright argument. She accepted the end of the discussion and went to sleep, peacefully. I, on the other hand, did not. I worried and wondered and thought long into the night about what might be causing her to suddenly not like school anymore. Nothing came to mind, but that didn't turn off my worry switch, either.

This morning was a repeat of the night before, but more adamantly.

Don't pack my lunch, mama, I WON'T go to school.

I'll put my shoes on, but I'm just staying home today, OK?

If you try to leave me there, I'll just run after you. I WON'T let you go.

I'm NOT getting in the car!

You can take Lauren inside, Mom, but not me. I'm just NOT going to school.

Until finally, after forcibly removing her from her carseat in the school parking lot, she buried her face in my neck as I walked her into the classroom. No longer protesting, just blindly hoping that by clinging to me, she'd be able to keep me. Attached to my chest like a baby gorilla, she held on tight while I put away her backpack and lunchbox. She held on tight when I pulled out a chair for her to sit at the table. She held on tighter when I tried to sit her down, and I caught a glimpse of her face, fighting back tears. Seeing her eyes that were trying so hard not to cry just about broke me. Her situation-avoiding silence turned to pleading whines. With tears coming then to my own eyes, I almost stood up and walked her back to the car, back to the house where we could spend the morning together. But knowing that wasn't the right thing to do today, I began disentangling myself from her grip, promising to be back very soon. She used all her strength to keep herself in my arms, until I had to drag myself down and out of her tiny grasp to leave the room. Then, the whining and fussing turned to sobs.

"I want my maaaaamaaaa!" she screamed. Her teacher picked her up and Mia clung just as tightly to her, still sobbing and crying for me as I walked down the hall. I plastered myself against a wall, waiting to see if she'd stop crying, but not knowing what I'd do if she didn't -- I couldn't waste all the hard work of leaving her by going to comfort her again. I felt my face get hot as I tried in vain to stop myself from crying with her.

My big girl...I'd thought she was past this. She's gone so long without any hiccup that I'd assumed she would be fine from here on out. But, I'd forgotten the lesson we'd begun to learn together in babyhood: don't get too comfortable (or too worried, for that matter), because this season will change. This phase will pass. Another will emerge, shredding the routine or confidence you thought would last forever.

Why would I believe that raising a child would be any different than any other aspect of life? Everything in life is a toss-up. Nothing is always certain. To assume upon completing a specific task or phase in parenting my children that it was taken care of forever, is just foolish . But knowing that doesn't change the torture of listening to my daughter cry out for me after being left at school. Knowing she'll settle into the day and have fun doesn't change the fact that I felt I'd abandoned her and broken her trust. Knowing I can't let her demands override the fact that school is a must doesn't erase the memory of her fingers scrabbling for a grip on my retreating body.

And it opens my decisions up to questioning: Is preschool really a must? Why? Why isn't her trust in me more important than her getting to play with other kids at this young age? School will happen for so many years...why does it have to begin so soon? When she's still clinging to her mother?

I'll just do my best to remember: This is a phase that will pass. Stopping myself from wondering, but what will it leave in it's wake?, will be the more difficult part.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Perfectly Poetical Tuesday (Epic)

Since I wasn't hip to PerPoTues when the Epic poem was assigned, I thought I'd give it my best shot. And it turns out, my best shot isn't really an Epic at all -- just a tale about a harrowing and dangerous adventure: the shaving of legs in the winter. Egad.

Here now, is my Epic. Heavenly style. Good luck to you all.

Listen, ye friends, to the tale
Of the lazy lady in winter.
Of how her excuses grew frail,
when her legs could give off a splinter.

An average lady she was,
Neither terribly dull nor fancy.
But the one area that could give pause,
Was the state of her legs a-prancing.

She'd neglected to shave her lovely limbs
For too many cold winter mornings.
And when the prickles were noticed by him,
Her husband began with the scorning.

Said he:
My lady, My love, My Heavenly girl,
I don't believe I can bear it!
Where once as perfect and smooth as a pearl,
Your legs have grown rough like a ferret!

Please, my darling, please!
You must now tame this thicket!
Here, I've gathered your things:
See?! Your razor, your loofah, your spigot.

Said she:
Goodness, My love, My handsome one,
How have I come to this place?
With terrible speed will I hastily run
To remedy my winter-time laze.

So she uncurled herself from her blankets,
realizing her husband was right.
Her legs gave off sparks like a musket,
Electric static brightened the night.

Upon hopping into the shower,
She quickly became quite stumped.
For there, causing her to cower,
Were a million teensy goosebumps.

She gasped! She sobbed! She whimpered!
She couldn't begin this endeavor!
For, to shave on top of the goose-pimples
Would leave a burning disaster!

Her nimble mind raced, her heartbeat quickened,
she glanced wildly at the door.
But during her pause the soap had thickened,
and she nearly fell to the floor.

"Honey?" she heard down the hall,
"Is everything coming along smoothly?"
"Yes!" she replied, mid-sprawl,
Thinking: I may need your muscle to move me.

Warmed by the near-embarrassment
She resolved to endure the plague.
The blade left a path, like an astringent,
burning her shivering legs.

Is this what it takes? she wondered.
Is this really the thing to be done?
She didn't want to make a blunder,
But almost couldn't bear to go on.

She dug down deep in her coffers;
Her leg hair needed to be shorn.
And eventually she finished, but butchered;
Her poor legs were tortured and torn.

The bathroom air felt Nova Scotian --
she took a moment to regain her composure --
then slathered on a layer of lotion
hoping to assuage the pain with moisture.

Once re-heated by warm woolen clothing,
She managed to ward off the shivers.
Pride had replaced her shave-loathing,
Her curiosity poured forth like a river.

Slowly up-rolling her pant leg,
This newly shaved lady was ready.
Would her skin be as smooth as a goose egg?
Could the pain be redeemed by the shedding?

Before her very eyes she watched
As a bare leg became exposed,
Each pore opened up -- debauched --
And new hairs immediately did grow.

"NO!" she shouted, defeated.
"All my efforts are lost!
If by this frozen air I am greeted,
My follicles will remain star-crossed!"

She doubled up on her resolve
to outlast this wretched cold weather.
Her husband's ideas must simply evolve;
Even if he must cover his own legs in leather.

And so my dear friends, remember
the tale of the wintertime woman:
Her courage, her bravery, her valor,
Her wisdom -- and how it was proven.

For after trying to soften her legs,
She instead made a gentler choice:
To bundle up until winter reneges.
To become hair-free in spring, then rejoice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Great Heavenly Soup Swap Of 2010

It seems like now, in the deep of winter, I've gotten myself into a sort of dinner-cooking tedium. A tedium I'm mostly pleased with. My most recent 14 day menu plan includes at least 8 soups, stews, and chilis: bowl food to warm my frozen soul. This works well for me, saving time while ensuring a comforting meal, and I love the feel of the house when there's a quiet pot of soup simmering on the stove.

I make chicken noodle soup at least twice a month through the winter, loading up on onions and garlic to combat the various colds that wish to assail our house; adding dumplings makes it super-filling and comforting. Classic, meaty chili becomes a staple for its ease and versatility, and the addition of corn chips make it seem party-worthy in my children's eyes. Pots of beans and lentils provide a simple meal whose leftovers can be used days later as the base for yet another bowl of soup. Fresh vegetables, rich broth, tomato juice, small bits of pasta...and a savory minestrone soup is born, begging for parmesan cheese on top. And heaven help me when this is paired with a loaf of fresh, crusty bread straight from the oven.

But...what next? Even adding a few new recipes to my list -- white chicken chili, barley and cannelini beans in a flavorful vegetable broth -- doesn't seem to deviate too far from my usual path. I just...want soup. I need soup. I need new soup.

So, I need your help. Share your favorite soup recipe with me, your favorite bowl-filling meal. Something worthy of winter, that might hopefully become a family favorite as well. If your kids like it, I'm hoping mine will too. Leave it in a comment, write a post and send me the link, drop by my house with a big pot of the stuff (recipe attached...?). Any way you care to share. Spread the word, too! The more recipes, the happier we'll all be, right?

And in return, I'll post my recipe for...what? What sort of soup that I've listed would you like to know more about? White Chicken Chili? My favorite Minestrone? Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup?

What do you say?

Soup swap, anyone?

...Or Be Square

Don't forget to join in Perfectly Poetical Tuesday tomorrow at The Little Stuff of Life!

This month's poetry style be determined by you! You can pick whatever poetry style you'd like, whether it's from the styles Stephanie's already showcased, or otherwise.

Here are some of the styles she's used before, just to get your ideas flowing:

Dr. Seuss
Edgar Allen Poe

I know you'll all impress Steph with your poetic prowess, so get to it -- write that poem! You can leave a poem in the comments here, or better yet, stop by Stephanie's place and enter your link on her list. I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Happy creating!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I'd like to rewind this day.

Rewind through hiking back and forth from the church to the snow and ice covered parking lot because I'd forgotten my purse -- with the car keys inside -- in my pew.

Rewind through hauling a fit-throwing toddler -- potato sack style -- out of the sanctuary after church while trying to gather our things to head home.

Rewind through marching myself and my daughters late into church in the first place. Rewind through Lauren's roly-poly squirming in my down-coated arms making me slip in my high-heeled boots in the icy snow, nearly falling. Rewind through Mia's frozen whines about why we had to walk through so much snow, around to one of the only church doors that wasn't locked for construction.

Rewind through being pulled over by a police officer. Rewind through being told of my broken tail-light and expired tags. Rewind through the girls in the backseat wondering -- loudly -- why we weren't going. Rewind through realizing that my newly issued current insurance ID card is sitting at home on the counter, waiting to be placed in my vehicle. Rewind through calling my husband to bring me the card -- home's just few minutes away and he's getting ready to head to mass -- and having the nice officer wait patiently. Rewind through Mia suddenly needing to poop rightnow while we were waiting on the side of the road. Rewind through Justin bringing the only insurance card he could find in our disorganized home: an old expired one. Rewind through the ticket being written and the required court appearance being explained.

Rewind through Mia walking -- leaning -- along the side of the snow-dirtied car in her clean church clothes and coat.

Rewind through the last minute poopy-diaper change that set us back a good 5 minutes on our way out the door.

Rewind through wasting time on the internet and a cinnamon apple muffin when I should have been making sure the girls were ready, instead of being surprised when I looked at the clock and there were only 10 minutes left until church began.

Rewind through struggling to keep my up-too-late-last-night eyes open during the RCIA students' dismissal at early mass.

Rewind through waking up late after the alarm clock didn't go off -- because I forgot to set it -- and rushing through showering and dressing. Rewind through leaving the house on a 12 degree morning with still-wet hair, in pants that should have been recycled 10 pounds ago, without my trusty scarf.

Rewind all the way back to when my cool pillow and warm blankets were cocooned around me. Rewind to when my legs were tangled up with my sleepy husband's, and I was dreaming of saving the world.

Then, the perfect day was still waiting to be touched by an imperfect me.

When an imperfect me was still dreaming of a perfect day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday, #45

1. While watching a preview for a romantic comedy the other night, we heard an attractive male voice say an attractively romantic line. Justin turned to me and repeated the line, foreign accent and all. Wow! I said. You're really good at the Australian accent, babe. Justin looked greatly offended before replying, That was IRISH.

2. In the car this week, Mia began asking a stream of questions, while Justin and I tried to field them:

Mia: Why is the snow not melted yet?
Mama: Because it's still too cold outside to melt the snow.
Mia: Why is it still too cold outside?
Daddy: Because we're in the Northern Hemisphere and the earth is tilted on its axis away from the sun in the winter, the top of the earth is farther away from the sun and therefore it doesn't get as warm. The Southern Hemisphere, though, is warm right now.

3. Justin got to take Mia to her first dentist appointment last July, so I was excited to witness the action for myself this week.

She did so well, loving each new step in the process right up until the end: the fluoride treatment. She was supposed to hold a tray in her mouth for a full minute, but it was so awkward and the flavor was apparently too sour so she spit it out about halfway through.

I had my appointment right after hers, and she crawled all over me in the chair in between dancing around and pretending to be a dentist. All I could think about was...last time I was in this chair (way too long ago), I was a few months pregnant with this little girl. THIS crazy, funny, smart, sweet, independent girl. It's weird how the dentist's chair always makes me remember pregnancy.

4. This week I hosted another edition of my book swap carnival, What We Found At The Library. I've been so encouraged by the wonderful input from you all -- Thank You! I just want to remind anyone who's interested, you can participate by writing a post about ANY book you or your family has recently enjoyed. Whether it's from the library, a book store, borrowed from a friend, or stolen from your mom (not that I do that), you can tell us what it's about and why you'd recommend it (or not recommend it, for that matter). I just love getting inspiration for our next trip to the library by knowing what other people are reading.

Please join us for the next go-round on January 21st!

5. Lauren was sick, sick, sick for all of last week -- Monday to Monday, she was puny. A doctor's appointment revealed a double ear infection, and a prescription was written for antibiotics. After waiting in line at the pharmacy, the total -- for a half teaspoon, daily, for 10 days -- was over $50. FIFTY dollars. That was after insurance paid half on the generic brand. A generic antibiotic was over a HUNDRED dollars?! The pharmacist told me that the name brand would have been around FOUR HUNDRED dollars. I was speechless. I bobbed my head and blinked, I think, before the pharmacist saw the shock in my eyes and offered to call the doctor's office for an alternative. One was granted.

The total? Eight dollars.

What the heck?

6. As I'm writing this (Thursday night), it's 3 whole degrees outside. Negative 12 wind chill. The cat is hunkered down in the garage, litter box nearby -- I've learned my lesson.

But, for a reminder of why cats aren't the only bad guys when it comes to household disruptions, go read Queen Lucy's latest pet disaster. It's terribly awful. My cat looks angelic in comparison.

7. This day -- January 8th -- is a very important day. It's the day my funny, stylish, handsome, creative, strange, and OLDer brother was born. OLD.

Eric? Happy Birthday, Brother! Last year I said you look like a monkey. This year you still do --I just can't prove it. But I'm working on it. In the meantime, I'm dedicating my next haiku to your honor:

Dude, you are so old.
Your coolness is way unfair
Given your old age.

And wait...wait...yep...I feel a cinquain coming on too...

Born first
But not best
Because sister was next

Aaaaah, that's better. You're welcome. And have a Super Tootie-tastic day!

That goes for you all too -- Have a Super Tootie-tastic day (don't worry -- it's a good thing, I think), and thank you for stopping by! Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What We Found At The Library, #8

First, one GIGANTIC THANK YOU to Lenae for designing this awesome button! I am amazed and proud and excited to be the recipient of such a thoughtful gift. Let's spread its HTML beauty -- or whatever it is that makes up such a thing -- across the interwebs ! Thank you again, Lenae. You're awesome, and for more reasons than this sweet button.

For this week's show and tell, I'm posting about some of our favorite books we got as Christmas gifts, but still within the children's books theme. Justin and I both got some books we're excited about -- Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, and Andre Agassi's autobiography -- but haven't gotten to read them yet. I'll keep you updated, though.

Lauren's Favorite: Madeline Says Merci, by John Bemelmans Marciano

Although Lauren is too small to sit through an entire Madeline book, she quickly grew attached to this one. Written by Ludwig Bemelmans' grandson, this story is a review of simple good manners. From treating pets with kindness to admitting mistakes, it covers everything a Madeline lover needs to know about being polite and kind. And while Lauren hasn't yet paid attention to its lessons, she still loves it. The book is shorter in stature, perfect for cradling in a tiny toddler's lap, and filled with simple artwork in the trademark Bemelmans style. She'll sit with it propped between her hands, turning pages and babbling recognizable phrases: "Twewf yiddle guls in two stwait yines..." We are definitely a household smitten with Madeline, and this gift from our Nana was a welcome addition to our bookshelf.

Another gift from Nana, Belinda the Ballerina is a new favorite of Mia's. We already had one book in this series, and were excited to have discovered this as well. Belinda is a light-footed -- and large footed -- girl who loves to dance. She practices hard to audition for a big ballet recital, but is thwarted by three rude judges who can't see past the size of her feet. Saddened, Belinda quits dancing and fills her time waiting tables in a restaurant. But her graceful dancing feet can't stay still for long, and soon, Belinda's dancing is attracting tables full of customers who love to see the dancing waitress. This is such a sweetly uplifting story, combining lessons about following your heart and having self confidence without being too serious or deep for my tender-hearted Mia; the focus is on comically large feet, not weight or beauty or snobbery -- things Mia doesn't yet need to be concerned with. I feel good about helping her understand that if you love doing something, and follow your heart, the naysayers' opinions just don't matter. As Belinda says, when it came to those discouraging judges, 'she didn't care a fig.'

One of my favorite children's authors is Eileen Spinelli, so I was happy to have found this book to give the girls for Christmas. It's about a mouse family who is supposed to be making vital preparations for the coming winter, but little Moses is always playing instead. He collects pebbles, listens to the wind, and dances with the leaves. His family reminds him, in simple, repetitive verses, that he must make preparations instead of dawdling. It soon gets to be too late, though, and when snow finally starts falling, he worries that he won't have anything useful to contribute to the family's winter supplies. However, it's Moses' playful additions that end up making the long, dull season bearable. Justin especially admired the detailed artwork and the idea that a joyful, playful spirit is as welcome as any pile of provisions -- a sentiment I can heartily agree with.

One of our favorites from a few months ago, Delicious:A Pumpkin Soup Story, inspired me to add this book to our Christmas stack. The adorable trio -- Cat, Squirrel, and Duck -- head to the big city for just a pipkin of salt to complete their delicious pumpkin soup. Poor, distractable Duck wanders away to the pepper shop with visions of all the pipkins of pepper he might be able to find as well, but gets lost in all the bustling city traffic. A search ensues, with Cat and Squirrel trying anxiously to find their lost friend. The whole neighborhood, citizens and police dogs alike, join a teary-eyed Duck in searching for his friends. I love the illustrations, the outlandish story, and the happy ending, but most of all, I love finding serial favorites our whole family will enjoy.

What books did YOUR family find over the Christmas break? Share your recommendations, so we can pillage the libraries (and bookstores) soon with lists full of tried-and-true favorites!