Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sometimes I stand in another room and listen. It's like eavesdropping on heaven, listening to that sweet Angel laughter. My whole heart swells with indescribable joy at the squeals of happiness emanating from the hidden picture of childhood bliss.

Sometimes I peek through the crack in the door and watch. From my hiding place I witness small acts with great love. I am privy to the secret world of gentleness and kindness. Virtue in its purest form.

You do not need to remind me that it does not last. Please don't jar me back to the harsher side of life with multiple children. I am not so naive as to believe that this is the full truth. I know that any moment this serenity will be shattered and my intervention will once more be required to maintain health and well-being. For right now, though, in this moment, I am simply breathing in the glory of heaven, the very peace of God.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Kitchen with Kate

Bring your fire extinguisher. Haha, just kidding, I haven't set anything on fire since I ignited a microwave trying to pop popcorn as a college student. Ironic, huh? Oh wait, there was the time my brother made it clear I was the only person he knew who could ruin a grilled cheese. And... oh, never mind. I'd like to think I've come a long way since Ramen! In fact, I can boil water for pasta with the pros! :)

Which is what I was thinking about the other night - pasta. YUM. We eat a lot of it around here; it's cheap, easy, healthy, easy, flavorful, easy... are you noting the theme here? The point is that Italian cooking is a dream for the inept chef like myself. Italians have it all right when it comes to food - they emphasize fresh ingredients and then use a few simple ones that come together with the passion of a hot summer night. MMMmmmm.... okay, back to the kitchen.

1) I love my garden. As I mentioned in the last post, I have not exactly been super attentive to my tomato plants this year. I can only worry about so many living things and the two-legged kind have to come first, even if they are more demanding and exhausting. But God is good to me, either that or He has a funny sense of humor because we are overflowing from the bounty of a rich harvest... jungle-style. SO, the FRESH ingredients make the world, or at least the kitchen, a better place. Oh sure, it's a heck of a lot of work cutting up all those ^$*&# Roma tomatoes, but OH the flavor with which they come packin'! We also have fresh Basil, Thyme, Parsley, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers (because you know I like it spicy!) and apparently zucchini. The latter is totally a spite plant, having been planted by my husband late in the season to unprepared soil and I declared I was not going to have anything to do with it. Of course. Anyways, my point is having a few fresh ingredients on hand makes cooking more pleasurable and the result tastier.

2) Prepping those fresh ingredients takes a little time, so I recommend you start now. You will have everything set and ready for a nice home cooked meal right before you send the kids off the college. Planning earlier in the day, during their naps for example, can really help too, but removes the excitement of having toddler hands helping you. Do you know what you're missing if you're not cleaning your hands every 45 seconds to fish something else out of the baby's mouth or redirect the toddler away from the knife?

3) Speaking of kids, I LOVE letting Bella watch me. I pull the step stool over to the counter and let her watch the process. I tell her that next year it will be her job, and she's young enough to like the idea. She's fascinated with the process and we have lots of talking time while I work. Plus, I at least know where she is.

4) Shapes are not just for toddlers. The shape of the pasta is responsible for how well the sauce adheres, and therefore how much goodness you can get in one bite. If there's a particular shape recommended for a dish, it's probably with good reason. Of course, I have my own preferences and I definitely vary depending on what I have on hand, but we stay pretty well-stocked on penne, rotini, and spaghetti/capellini. Also, "rigate" means "with little ridges" which also grabs hold of more sauce. Think similar concepts if you change it up. Kids might love bowtie (farfalle) but it just won't hold that bacon, onion, and tomato sauce. ( Amattriciana)

5) If you've passed first grade, read the whole way through the recipe before you start. Now, this might not be a big deal for the majority of the adult population who have been cooking from recipes since they were old enough to be trusted around a stove, but as I mentioned that happened a lot later for me. After a few times of not starting the pasta water boiling or using all the oil at the beginning and ending up with a slippery mess I figured it out. I might be a slow learner, but I am still hoping to spare another my husband's fate.

6) Oh, another note about the cooking of the pasta - don't add oil to the water! A touch of salt, YES (it's about osmosis and pulling water into the starch) but NO OIL. Stir your pasta to keep it from sticking. If you add oil the pasta will soak it up like sunbathers catching the rays, preventing it from soaking up the good stuff at the end. It can only hold so much, and you want it to marry the sauce over which you are laboring. "And the two shall become one." Definitely God's design, here.

Anything else? Probably. I am a simple cook, who likes a variety of flavors and LOVES simplicity. If anyone is interested I'll even share a few standard recipes we have a lot around here. But trust me, they're worth it. Oh, and take down the smoke detectors, I'm about to brown chicken.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Man, look at the size of that zucchini!!!

Brought to you by My Garden. Proof that God can bring forth food from the earth despite my neglect.

So, not totally Wordless... you can forgive me, right?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Takes


Anastasia had her 9 month check-up today, and our Happy Little Hippo, the Chubby Cherub, is actually .... not all that heavy! Weighing in at 18lbs 3 ozs puts her in the 30th % !!! Her length is still 40th %, and her head circumference... well, that's the 95th %. Okay, so she has a fat head. But she is growing well, and is pretty much right on par for a healthy 9 month old, every parent's hope. She is clapping her hands a lot, which is SO cute - Bella loves to make her so happy that she'll clap, or sing a song that provokes it. All through the day the strains of "If you're happy and you know it" and "patty-cake, patty-cake" can be heard setting the soundtrack of my life.


I actually followed a menu plan for 2 weeks in a row! Can you believe it? I can't. I spaced out cooking a few meals, used left-overs wisely, and only bought pizza on Monday because the Raven's played well enough to get us free yummy toppings. Does your Papa John's have a football deal? It's such a fun, affordable treat; it might be the only reason I really care about pro-football.


Potty-Training is moving along quite well. We have fewer and fewer accidents, and greater milestone successes. Take early n the week when Bella insisted on wearing panties to the park. Yeah, you know, that big activity crazy place that causes kids' awareness to be limited solely to what they can climb and slide down or how fast they can run and NOT at all the normal bodily functions or the sound of Mama's voice? Not to mention the only potty was the portable type that's 1/4 mile away. Well, I figured that if she had an accident I had wipes and diapers and she would simply change; however, she stayed dry the WHOLE time including on the ride home! She did great. Let's follow up that story with a confirmation of my own brilliance the day that I put her to bed for her nap so quickly that I forgot she was wearing panties...


My my mother-in-law is coming in less than 3 weeks! I am so excited, I LOVE her visits. I think one of my favorite aspects of her visits is how easy it is to make daily Mass. When I have someone helping me get the kids dressed and fed and then someone to help hold/corral during Mass, it makes it a snap. I rely heavily upon others' help when it comes to Mass, although the more we go the better Bella behaves, and recently she's been really good and quiet. Any tips for teaching a 2 year old? We talk ahead of time about sitting quietly and whispering, and how we only talk to Jesus during Mass and how happy it makes Him to see us there. Sometimes she gets treats afterward, but not often enough for her to expect it. She recently learned to genuflect! Between that, and loudly announcing "bye-bye Jesus" as we leave, well, she's about as cute as can be.


My hubby just installed a setup that plays music from my computer through a tuner connected to actual speakers. Crazy - it's like having a, what was that thing called, a stereo??? He explained this way I could load all my CDs, one by one, on to my computer and that all my music would be stored here and I would never have to go looking for a CD again. One at a time. ... The other problem is I still take them for car rides in his car with its CD player so I'll still have to have them stored somewhere within reach. Here's the thing, though - he showed me a website, called that's an online radio almost like satellite with variety you make up entirely yourself with suggestions from them based on the type of songs/artists you have selected. Sounds complicated, but it really isn't. The HUGE benefit is that I'm listening to great music, mostly hand-picked by me! I've been belting out Broadway, crooning to country, and serenading with Sinatra. Of course, there is the little detail of the ginormous speakers now a fixture in my living room... hey, the price of entertainment!


That same thoughtful, caring hubby just brought both girls for a walk, letting me have a few minutes to write the blog post in peace and quiet. Or with the music in the background...


I'm grasping at straws trying to come up with the last Quick Take. With so much to talk about I simply can't come up with anything right now. I'm tired, it's been a very long and emotionally exhausting week, and I'm going to climb into my PJs and watch a movie with my hubby. And that's it. Here's wishing you all a great weekend, and pray that the weekend brings more energy and patience. Maybe my sense of humor might even return. :)

Visit JEN @ Conversion Diary for more (and much funnier) Quick Takes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, September 14, 2009

Triumph of the Cross

"...with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died."

~from today's first reading, Numbers 21:4-9

Seriously, remind me to stop complaining! It's too risky.

Visitors, Anyone?

I was absentmindedly walking through the kitchen just now when I spotted it: a solitary piece of sweet potato, undoubtedly dropped by Anastasia during lunch. What had one time been a source of nutritious yumminess had morphed into a wriggling mass of scurrying black dots. My nemeses the ants were in full force thanks to the coordination of a brand-new self-feeder. I do not understand their role in this world(the ants, that is, not the self-feeder) - I'm sure someone on the food chain is thankful for his daily bread, but as for me... I mean, if St. Francis lived in modern suburbia his Canticle would surely say something like "Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Bastard Ant"... right? Sorry St. Francis, no offense meant.

So anyways, in a moment I transformed from your average housewife left to her own devices for 10 minutes alone to a maniacal deranged ant-killing machine. My favorite home remedy is plain old soapy water - it kills them on impact and is of course totally kid friendly, which is especially beneficial since the baby likes to eat whatever is dropped there for round 2 of each meal. I poured a glass of soapy water under the table and immediately discovered an important fact: one does NOT need as much soap as I used. Oh sure the ants were obliterated on impact, but my kitchen floor turned into a skating rink, as I discovered when my knees slid across the floor without the rest of me. Once that mess was cleaned up I realized, "hey! So this is what a really clean kitchen floor looks like!" And to think, it was easy (minus the hyper-extended knees). So I found myself extending my scrub area further and further and... well, before you know it I was scraping spots off the floor with my thumbnail and scrubbing the whole darn floor with hot soapy water. Out Out Damn Spots... and bacteria, and ants, and everything else!

There really was no point to this story, except that if you are considering visiting us I would recommend now - the kitchen floor is immaculate and I would hate for you to miss it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

Irving Berlin wrote this song for Kate Smith in 1938. This video clip is from its theatrical debut, "This is the Army"

Still gives me goosebumps. Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and bring comfort and peace to those left behind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And Life Is Never the Same

This is parenthood, now isn't it - one minute I'm sitting here, minding my own business, basking in the delight that is a calm rhythm of life, and the next minute I look up and WHAT ARE YOU DOING ANASTASIA??? SIT DOWN. Who told that child I was ready for her to become mobile? Because they lied. I am NOT ready for her to be cruising along furniture and stretching out to transfer that little body on its toes from one object to another. I know what happens after this and I'm telling you I'm not ready.

Don't misread this and think she's on the verge of walking tomorrow; she isn't. But first you blink and think "Awww, that's cute that she's crawling a little bit and can now chase her toys. She's so happy to be able to do that, and it's nice and SLOW . Yup, that's really cute to watch." Then suddenly one day you're loading the dishwasher, or even better you're *ahem* indisposed and you hear a crash from the other room and the toddler says "No Anastasia!" and so you defy nature and stop what you're doing to run into the room and THE BABY ISN'T IN VIEW. And you look around the toy stroller... and under the table... and the potty seat... and under the laundry basket... Just as you see the open gate at the top of the stairs and your heart is starting to stammer you find the Baby behind the front door. WHAT??? BEHIND the DOOR? It takes only a quick glance at the toddler to realize that this is not, in fact, her fault. And that stammering heart just stops and your chin hits the floor because that means she maneuvered her way around enough obstacles to qualify for military training, including climbing over a box and under a chair and has pulled the door open, blocking her face which then peeks out because she knows she has just played the greatest game of peek-a-boo ever.

Sign me up for the funny farm now.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Bella was singing (surprise, surprise) while playing, engaged in a lively rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle." She stops suddenly, and places her pointer finger to her chin for a moment. Then she turns to me with that same little finger and says very thoughtfully, "Mommy, YOU sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and I will sing 'ABCs'." (Go ahead, sing them both to yourself - they're the same tune!) She recognized the tune, although she was not able to actually sing a different song at the same time. Very cute, though!

While driving down one of our normal back roads we went over a hill at a speed that produces that free-fall feeling in the pit of your stomach. Apparently Bella does not like that feeling.
Bella: "Too high, Mama!"
It took me a moment to figure out she meant "too fast!"
Me: "ok, sweetie, I slowed down. We'll go gently over the hills."
Now, whenever we are on that road my backseat driver calls out loudly, "SLOW DOWN, MOMMY!" (why yes, Officer, my 2-year-old just told me the same thing...) (just kidding)

Usual Morning around here: "Mama, drink your coffee. It make you feel better."