06 June 2016


There's something weighing pretty heavily on me right now, and it's completely blocking up my creative process. I can't write about it because I don't want to use this space to air dirty laundry, especially about family. But in the meantime, it's in the way. I wouldn't turn down your prayers for family harmony and healing.

So! Picture post! In order:


The Mr. and I got a babysitter -- like, an actual babysitter who was recommended by my sister-in-law and regrettably lives so far from us, because otherwise this could have been a seriously mutually-beneficial situation! -- so we could enjoy my cousin's wedding. It was beautiful, even if the weather was uncooperative, and my sweet cousin Taryn and her new husband looked so happy.

Then we went to my parents' house at the beach for Memorial Day weekend. The above is a little cousin love. These boys are fourteen months apart, almost the same size, and mostly very sweet together. Maybe a little wrestling, but isn't that what boys do? (I don't really know. Boys are somewhat of a novelty in my parents' house, since they only had one son out of seven children, and while they're only one up in granddaughters -- five granddaughters, four grandsons -- the boys are 5, 2, 1 and 9 months so we haven't really gotten into full-bore boy behavior yet.)

No trip to Sea Isle City is complete without one trip to Marita's for ice cream. After this super-sweet picture was taken, Declan got his first haircut. I resisted for a long time; as you can see he was overdue. But as I suspected, now those sweet baby curls are gone and a young man was left in my baby's place. 😢

When we got home from the long weekend, we had no food in the house so we went to the local diner for dinner, where they were doing Kids' Night! As you can see, Keira didn't enjoy having her arm painted at all. 😉

So hopefully soon I'll be ready to write something of substance?

13 May 2016

Kid stuff

Things Declan will say before he will say "Mama":

"Subu" - our nanny's kid-friendly nickname (short for Subhadra)
"Babu" - Subu's son
"Ra-ra" - his name for his sister
"Hiiiii, Jesus!" - this one I don't complain about
"Go Jordan" - as in Spieth, as in Daddy's favorite golfer

But not "Mama." Never Mama.

Also, earlier this evening I was the Mama who had a bare-bottomed toddler on her front stoop. Just... Why, Keira? I mean, I appreciate that she mentioned her need to use the bathroom before we went on a walk, for once, but I just wish she hadn't readied herself by removing her bottoms outside.

Kids sure have a way of humbling you, huh?

05 May 2016

One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice

Things around here have gotten... Heavy, recently.

So! Here's a nice fluffy post to lighten the mood!

My youngest came home from daycare yesterday with a fever and promptly threw up on his high chair tray. I simultaneously threw my plans for today out the window. Our new plan was for Michael to take Keira to daycare, leaving sickie Declan and I to sleep in a little. And that was it: that was the whole plan.

Even that much didn't work out.

Declan was up at FOUR. FORTY. FIVE. Michael changed his diaper and gave him some milk in hopes that he'd go back to sleep, but it was not to be. So instead we all got up at normal time and Keira and Daddy left, earlier than usual, even. I took Declan down to our basement, where most of the toys are, but he didn't want to leave my lap. I had Jurassic World on the DVR and I turned it on because he's too young to get anything about it but I thought he'd like the dinosaurs, and he did. He sat on my lap with his head on my shoulder and my Miraculous Medal clenched in his fist -- for a sixteen-month-old, he sure has a devotion to Our Lady! -- and growled at the dinosaurs. And then he went to sleep. So at 7:05, he went down for his first nap.

The rest of our day proceeded thusly -- sleep, sit on Mommy and cry, sleep some more -- with the exception of one little venture out of the house: Trader Joe's. Where I saw these cute little cans of green chiles, which inspired our Cinco de Mayo dinner, One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice! (It may need a shorter name.)

It is so good, you guys. Like Chipotle, but without the e. coli! One simple warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT A PROPER MISE EN PLACE. You will be sorry, like I was the first time I made this.

Not shown: cubed chicken

One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1 T. oil (I like avocado oil, but you do you)
Salt and pepper
4 green onions, chopped and separated (whites from greens)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
Zest and juice from one lime
14.5 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups Minute rice (must be Minute and not some longer-cooking kind!)
Cilantro, chopped, optional and to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cubed chicken, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through. Add the green onion whites and the garlic for the last minute or so. Stir in the broth, the greens of the green onions, the green chiles, the lime zest and lime juice, and the black beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the rice, stirring in to immerse it as much as possible. Allow to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and put a lid on the skillet. Allow it to steam until the rice is soft; in my experience it takes about 6-10 minutes. (If the rice is still too al dente, turn it back on medium heat for 2-3 minutes and stir it to help the liquid absorb.) Then fluff it, add the cilantro, and serve.

It's a little monochrome -- trichrome? -- for my tastes, so I serve it with a big dollop of salsa on top. Maybe some sour cream? Avocado or guacamole? Cheese and lettuce, Chipotle-style? Again: you do you. And then come back and tell me how much you loved this. 😉

Updated to add: Trader Joe's Quick Cooking Brown Basmati rice is not the same as Minute rice. #askmehowiknow #crunchyrice #stilltasty

03 May 2016

Goodbye, Target.

Well, I bit the bullet. I canceled my Target card.

I had been waffling over this decision for days. I am angry enough at Target -- for putting empty political sentiment over public safety -- that I knew I wouldn't shop there. The issue wasn't whether Target was going to get any more of my money; they weren't. So the question of the card itself remained: would Target reverse itself, thereby making it a hassle to reestablish the card? Would it hurt my credit to close it, especially if I turned around and opened it again? If I stopped spending money at Target but kept the card open, would Target even notice?

But the more I thought about it, the angrier I got at Target: for making this decision in the first place; for making me feel like a crazy person because no one else seems to see that for the vast majority of the boycotters, this isn't about bigotry but about safety, and the refusal to participate in a political agenda that is empirically bananas; for making me devote so much mental real estate to this.

I came to the conclusion that Target made their very public stand, and there's no way they will have the intestinal fortitude to reverse themselves. The LGBTQ+-whatever lobby is too loud and vindictive, and Target has a long history of pandering to it. Unless scores of little girls are sexually assaulted inside Target store bathrooms, they will stand by their bad move, even in the face of falling share value and millions of lost customers.

So I was 75% of the way to the decision to close it when something else occurred to me: elsewhere in the world, even today, Christians martyrs are being beheaded for their refusal to back down from their faith. And here I am, worrying about the inconvenience of closing this credit card.

Decision made.

While I was making dinner for my family last night, I called customer service and got a supervisor on the phone. I told her I wanted to close my account. This conversation (more or less verbatim), ensued:

CSR: I see you've been a cardholder for over three years. Can I ask you why you're closing your account now?
Me: I think your bathroom policy stinks. [SO ELOQUENT, Colleen. 🙄]
CSR: Okay. Just a second while I make a note of your concerns.

She sounded like a) she'd been hearing that a lot recently -- although possibly most people put it better? -- and b) she'd secretly like to agree.

So it's done. I am no longer a Target customer.

Goodbye, Dollar Spot. I think I'll miss you the most.

20 April 2016

You guys, what are we going to do?

I live in Virginia, where it is now been determined by a federal court that rules requiring schoolchildren to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex are discriminatory. This is bound to go nationwide, and fast.

Also this week, Target has released a statement that customers can now use whichever bathroom they please, as well. Because, as the statement says, "Everyone deserves to feel like they belong."

... Except for me, Target, and the millions of people like me. We get to feel uncomfortable in the bathroom because there's a dude in there. And he doesn't have to look like a lady, he just has to tell security, should anyone have the cojones to alert security, that he feels like a lady. Because as we also know, no pervert would ever take advantage of the culture of fear surrounding this issue and follow a little girl into a public restroom. Perverts have the utmost respect for the transgendered and would never appropriate their gender dysphoria for their own nefarious purposes. That's a thing that we know... Right?

I do whatever is humanly possible to avoid public restrooms already, but this is enough to make me hibernate in my own home. I don't even have a high school-aged girl (yet), but the idea that high school-aged boys would be able to use her bathroom and locker room is horrifying to me. If my plan weren't already to home-school, it would have to be now.

I have quite a bit of sympathy for the mentally ill -- and make no mistake, the "transgendered" are absolutely mentally ill -- but this is not the way to help them. When schools provide single-occupant restrooms for the use of the mentally ill, gender non-conforming student, the student inevitably throws around words like "stigmatizing" and "otherizing." (Never mind that if I had been offered a single-occupancy restroom option in high school, I'd have been thrilled.) The most helpful thing we can do for these people is to tell them that they are not above the rules that everyone has lived by since the dawn of public restrooms.

Strike that: the most helpful thing we could do is to get these people some real psychological care. A refusal to treat mental illness as something to be celebrated is a close second.

We are enabling a vanishingly small and deeply confused super-minority to dictate the safety of every little girl in this country. And I'm not sorry about my feeling that I would rather see every single transgendered individual in this country get his feelings hurt than see even one little girl get raped by a pervert who takes advantage of this madness and follows her into a restroom in full view of people who would stop him but are scared to be called a bigot.

12 April 2016

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary #NeverGettingOutOfThisOne

I never want to live through a presidential primary like this one ever again.

I've written before about Trump and the horror he instills in me. I think he's a moral black hole and one of the worst things ever to come out of American politics. I will never, ever vote for him. And that makes me different than many other conservatives (and Catholics) who, while opposed to Trump, will still vote for the man over Hillary.

I. Just. Can't.

Three peas in a pod, and Melania.

Let's start with some comparisons:
  • Hillary Clinton is a brazen, habitual liar. Donald Trump is also a brazen, habitual liar. {Do I need to post links for these things? 'Cause I could, but I don't really think these assertions are in question.}
  • Hillary Clinton surrounds herself with thugs and bullies. Donald Trump also surrounds himself with thugs and bullies.
  • Hillary Clinton is a rabid pro-abortion advocate. Trump claims to be pro-life, awfully recently and with nothing but lip service; but he still praises Planned Parenthood, says he'd appoint his radically pro-abortion sister to the Supreme Court, and did irreparable damage to the pro-life image just last week by advocating for the punishment of women who have abortions (he's since equally-ineptly walked it back, but I'm pretty sure we've all gotten a peek behind the curtain and seen that, once again, the Trump has no well-thought-out positions).
So we've covered the areas where I think they're essentially the same. When it comes down to morality, they're both... Simply without any. That is a horrible turn of events for this nation. The idea that we can't put up a candidate with a stronger moral compass than Hillary Clinton (and when we started with the strongest Republican field in my lifetime) is enough to make me want to sit in the corner and cry indefinitely, but that's where we seem to be.

But what about things like international relations?

I was less-than-impressed with Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. She laundered bribes from unfriendly countries through the Clinton Foundation, she abandoned our people in Benghazi when they were under attack and then lied to the families about what happened and why. She set up a sketchy home-brew email server in her bathroom which was vulnerable to hacking and ought to have been federally indicted long ago. She was basically a disaster.

Here's the thing, though: I'm still pretty sure that Donald Trump, Most Powerful Man in the World, has the potential to be significantly worse.

Leave aside for the moment that he insisted from the debate stage that we intended to order the military to commit war crimes by targeting the innocent family members of terrorists. Leave aside his thinnest-ever skin. He's also dangerously susceptible to flattery, as proven by his little mutual-admiration society with Vladimir Putin. He says whatever flits through his head, with a special emphasis on being insulting and gauche. Diplomacy is not likely to be his strong suit, by which I mean: I give his hypothetical presidency three months before we're teetering on the brink of WWIII.

"Nuclear armageddon" is worse than "disaster."

He continually claims that he'll make up for the areas where he is weak -- insofar as he admits that he's less than outstanding at anything -- by "hiring the best people." Have we seen any evidence that he knows what "the best people" look like? His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has been recently arrested for assault on a reporter. His campaign in Colorado was so disorganized that they failed to win a single delegate and are reduced -- "reduced" -- to trying to make hay out of voter suppression, when in fact there was none.

Let's stop trying to place the blame for Trump's ascension on the "establishment," or on the media, or anywhere else it doesn't belong. Trump voters are grown adults with agency, and moral culpability. Voting for a deeply flawed candidate (which is the kindest description I can muster) as a stand-in for waving a middle finger in the face of the GOP, writ large, is childish, morally bankrupt and dangerous.

There's nothing I can do about this but pray. If your state has already voted, there's nothing you can do about this but pray. If your state hasn't yet voted, please don't sit home and hope someone else will get us out of this. I'm not sure if a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary (although I strongly suspect as much), but either way it is a vote for depravity.

29 March 2016

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter!

Miracle of miracles, I actually managed to get a picture of my family on Easter Sunday for possibly the first time ever.

And, mostly by accident, we were coordinated in our dress.

(I'm not happy about my hair -- I was putting on Keira's shoes for picture-taking and she grabbed the top of my head for balance and I thought I fixed it -- or my makeup. Because we can't have everything.)

Also, I'm just not sure when Keira got so darn tall. Her legs are so long all of a sudden! I guess I knew that, as I've been buying her size 5 pants, she's a bit leggier than your typical three-year-old, but it took me by surprise on Easter.

I hope you had a beautiful day, too.

{I'm reprieving you on the post about Trump vs. Hillary and why I'm despondent until Eastertide is over.}

21 March 2016

Hey, guess what!

Less than a month ago, I wrote about how night training Keira was going badly.

Kids love to make a liar out of you, huh?

Since that day, girlfriend night trained herself. I made 0% effort. I was perfectly happy to wait a while before we took the diapers away overnight, but then she woke up every morning for over a week with a perfectly dry diaper on. And she had no accidents while napping. It took us two nights to talk her into giving up her diaper overnight (maybe I was a little too vocally pessimistic about this? ...oops), but she's been totally, 100%, completely-and-utterly diaper free for a week now.

I am so proud of my big girl.

16 March 2016

On the Morality of Debt

This isn't a post on whether it's moral to have debt. I commend people who are able to Dave Ramsey their lives, but I think most people have debt, and it's not always harmful. Buuuuuut I just saw something that made me feel a little bit ill: a write-up of a video by a former hedge fund manager, advocating that people ought to just not pay their credit card debt. The reasoning is that your credit score is easy to fix, and anyway credit card companies expect that some people will default, and his own experience having a low credit rating wasn't catastrophic.

There are so many problems with this, I'm not sure where to start.

Oh! I know, let's start with the title of this post: morality.


Deciding to default on your credit card debt is stealing.

We are commanded by God -- maybe you've heard of Him? -- not to steal. But running up debt, and then choosing to walk away from it is not strategic, it's immoral. Every time you make a purchase on a credit card and sign that slip, you're promising to pay the credit card company for that purchase.

{Before I go on, let me just include a disclaimer: I understand that catastrophes happen, and good people sometimes have no choice but to default on debt that they had every intention of repaying. I am not addressing people in dire straits.}

The same goes for your mortgage, student debt and car loan. If you signed on a dotted line saying that in return for a sum of money upfront, you would make payments with interest, you have a moral obligation to make those payments.

My husband and I have been making payments for over four years on the mortgage for a condo we sold in early 2012. The mortgage crisis of 2008 hit us hard. HARD. We could have defaulted on the mortgage and gotten on with the business of rebuilding our credit, but instead we scraped together the funds from our savings, healthy at the time, and from our retirement accounts to buy it out. It's meant that we haven't been able to build our savings back up, basically at all, for the last four years; we've been paying the equivalent of the mortgage on the condo I owned when we married, just in loan-repayment, on top of our other bills. It has kept us from buying a home of our own, and we have instead been paying the outlandish rents in Northern Virginia. But we strongly felt we had a moral obligation to pay the loan if we could -- and by the grace of God, we could -- and that was the right thing to do. I've hated it, but I would do it again.

I'm not trying to hold us up as paragons of fiscal virtue, but I feel strongly enough about this to have moved four times in seven years from rental to rental, including leaving each home I brought my babies home from the hospital to, until this burden is paid off (at the end of this year, finally!) and we can move forward.

The next point that I want to make is that this man wonders: if everyone followed this advice, would it collapse the banking industry? I'm starting to see why he's a former hedge fund manager: he wasn't very good at his job. The mortgage collapse of 2008 happened because of bad legislation that allowed under-qualified people to purchase mortgages they couldn't afford; when they walked away en masse it almost took the entire country down. The banking industry functions on trust, to a large extent, and maintaining your credit score is really the only way to prove you're trustworthy.

Finally, where is the wisdom in taking advice from a money manager who admits that he couldn't maintain his own credit rating? Red flag, much?

Please, don't follow this terrible advice. Don't let your children follow this terrible advice. It wouldn't be good for their souls, and it wouldn't be good for our economy.

03 March 2016

Donald Trump: Front-Runner

I started to write a whole post about screen time and how we handle it, but then I realized that a) it was boring, b) we don't do anything revolutionary (basically we're too loose about it until we realize everyone's miserable, and then we clamp down), and c) what I really needed to get off my chest was Trump.

Actually I'd like to get his giant, lying, wannabe-dictatorial, buffoon butt off American's chest.

In case you need that translated for you: I'm not a fan.

In fact, his entire candidacy is one of those phenomena where I get to wondering if there are a bunch of mentally ill people running around. That sounds overly harsh, I know, but do you know what I mean? Sometimes you look at a set of facts, and come to what seems to you to be an unassailable conclusion; and then you talk to someone who's looked at the exact same set of facts and come to the opposite conclusion, and you can't even understand them. This isn't a common turn of events for me; I usually can see both sides of an argument, even if I think the people on the other side are wrong. There are issues on which intelligent people can disagree, obviously.

Take, for instance, abortion. I am unequivocally 100% against it. Nonetheless, I understand that there exist such justifications that people can support abortion rights and still think they're doing God's work -- people who can't bring themselves to "condemn" some poor girl to a life of parenting before she's ready, and adoption is so hard, or maybe the baby has a profound disability and so abortion is sometimes the least-bad option. They're wrong, of course. This is false compassion which leads to tragic outcomes. But I understand how someone could come to that wrong conclusion.

But I genuinely cannot see how anyone who calls himself a conservative can look at Donald Trump and think, "He's the one!"

He's a lifelong Democrat (which wouldn't be disqualifying, necessarily, if he had a plausible conversion story -- he doesn't beyond "donating tons of money to Democrats was good for business"), a serial adulterer, a misogynist, a thin-skinned bully. He brags that he would sleep with his daughter if she weren't his daughter, which is by any measure gross. He has stated that he would appoint his radically pro-abortion sister to the Supreme Court.

The main thing I can see to commend him to the electorate is his claim that he's a brilliant businessman. But he inherited his money from his father (again, not disqualifying, but it flies in the face of his implication that he's a self-made man), and went on to bankrupt his businesses over and over again through shady and irresponsible borrowing practices. You know the old adage about gambling, "The house always wins"? Well, not if the house is run by Donald Trump. He is lying for no good reason about self-funding his campaign, which he is not.

He waffled on distancing himself from David Duke and the KKK. He makes fun of the disabled.

I could go on (and on and on and on). These are literally only the objections that presented themselves to me off the top of my head. I'm sure if I thought for ten minutes more, I could write the longest blog post in the world about all the reasons that Donald Trump is unfit to be the dogcatcher in a small town, let alone the President of the United States of America.

A lot of people seem to dislike Ted Cruz for reasons I can't quite fathom. He doesn't seem like the type of guy you'd necessarily like to go drinking with, but is that what we need in a president? A lot of other people object to Marco Rubio as "too establishment" -- whatever that means -- and unreliable on immigration. But the truth is I would crawl over broken glass to vote for either man over The Donald, to say nothing of Hillary or Bernie.

If Trump gets the nomination, I will sit this one out. I have never skipped an election before, even when I wasn't happy about my options, but there is no lever I could pull on that day that wouldn't leave me feeling filthy. I won't do it.

At this point, it's looking unlikely that anyone can beat him. All we can do is pray. Please, please pray for the faithful of America, those who haven't yet had a chance to vote, to stand up and do what's right. (I did see something hopeful on that score -- "Regular, weekly church attendance...predicted a statistically significant and substantive opposition to Trump" -- but it's clearly not enough yet.)

Pray on your knees.

22 February 2016

Time to get moving.

I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I was never shaped like a teenager, either. The juniors' department was not my friend; I had curves from the very onset of puberty. I also have dense, heavy bones.

Shortly before my wedding, when I was the slimmest I had ever been in my adult life, and slimmer than I ever reasonably expect to be again -- nothing like an upcoming wedding to serve as motivation! It also helps that the wedding dress I fell in love with topped out a size 12, which in "wedding dress sizes" is actually a 10 -- I had just fallen from "obese" to "overweight" on the BMI chart. I'm 5'8" and, as I said, curvy, so at a 10 I look pretty good. And I'm fine with the fact that I'm unlikely to ever be quote-thin-unquote.

After two babies, I had reached my highest weight ever, and I can't blame the pregnancies themselves. During both pregnancies, I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum and actually lost a significant amount of weight. Breastfeeding, though -- that is the culprit for me. I have some supply issues so I don't burn the same calories that most nursing mothers burn, but I'm just as hungry as the typical nursing mother, which is to say: ravenous.

So twice, I've gotten pregnant, had the baby, left the hospital around 25 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, and then gained 35 pounds while nursing.


Shortly after Declan weaned, I went back on Weight Watchers for the first time since before our wedding. It's been a little over three months -- this morning was my 14th weigh-in -- and I've lost 29.5 pounds. I was wearing an 18, and I'm somewhere between a 14 and a 16 now. And I still have a ways to go.

So we've got the diet part more or less down. My stomach is mostly adjusted. We're eating fewer carbs and more vegetables. So now it's time to add in exercise to speed this along, because I know my body: a plateau approacheth.

Last week I started going on long walks when the weather is nice. I was using the Runkeeper app on my phone, but I recently got an Apple Watch (it's an early Mother's Day present from my family!) and I'm finding it to be so motivating!

That's my progress as of 1:15pm today. I've burned my goal number of calories already -- the pink circle -- and exceeded my exercise goal -- the green circle. The blue circle is my daily standing goal -- my watch reminds me to stand for at least one minute every hour of the day. It also counts my steps as long as I have it on.

I find it so satisfying to see those rings close. We have to have an orientation at our neighborhood gym before we can use it, but we'll be getting that done this week. Hopefully by the time summer rolls around I'll be happier with my size and more fit. I can't wait to get out more with the kids when the weather warms up some in the evenings. I can't wait to actually want to get in pictures with my kids without being embarrassed by my size.

In the meantime, please pray for me! I've been seeing results which is helping me stay on track but if I plateau I know I'll lose focus. Your prayers will certainly help. I'm going to need God's help for sure!

21 February 2016

When you have a tough parenting day...

... How do you handle it?

Nap time to nearly-bedtime has been a bear. Without going into soggy details, sleep-potty-training the three-year-old is just not even progressing. She's doing great with the potty when awake, but she doesn't seem to wake up until it's too late, and as a result she still wears a diaper for overnight. Naps are the testing ground and today she woke up wet and mad about it. She wailed and wailed and didn't want to put on dry clothes and didn't want to get up and didn't want to go back to sleep and didn't want her sheets changed and didn't want them left on the bed and didn't want these Sofia panties and didn't want the Sofia panties she picked out herself and didn't want to put on the shirt I picked out and didn't want to stop making an unholy racket and she couldn't take a deep breath and so she wailed some more. Obviously she woke up her brother from his nap, pushing him halfway down the road to Meltdownville, population: 2.

Eventually I left her in her room with instructions that she could let me know when she was ready to be happy. Twenty minutes or so later, she got ahold of herself and we went on with her day, but she's been on a hair-trigger -- the second anything doesn't go her way she tantrums in a way that's really not like her. We've been giving her directions and she does the opposite.

I don't have a problem with my temper, honestly. I'm a pretty patient person, and I always try to keep in mind that three-year-olds are creatures of impulse and factor that into my reactions. But today...

Today, my patience is worn so thin. I am not an easily frazzled person, and I am frazzled to bits. She's about to go to bed and I'm dreading trying to get her to clean up her mess before we say prayers. I'm dreading prayers themselves because when she's feeling defiant, it's a war getting her to even say them.

At this point I'm going to have to start fresh tomorrow and hope Little Miss Oppositional-Defiant wakes up on the right side of her mood.

Unless anyone has any rockstar tips?

20 February 2016

A tantalizing taste of spring!

This was an unbelievably beautiful day in northern Virginia.

Her look of utter glee, exchanged with her little brother, at having the windows "on" -- a.k.a. open -- when it was 20 degrees yesterday.

The temperature was in the mid-sixties and it was sunny, so we spent all day... Inside.


We try to spend one day a weekend with Michael's parents when everyone's in town. We hadn't been down to their house in a couple of weeks because of various trips and their coming here once or twice, so after Declan's morning nap we all hopped in the car to drive 25 minutes or so to Bella and Poppy's.

My in-laws had a huge plumbing flood at their house two Thanksgivings ago. They spent months and months living in a hotel, and the house is still not 100% put back together, so when we got there we played in their extremely toy-filled playroom for a bit, then had lunch, then when the kiddos took afternoon naps we helped move furniture around and hang a whole bunch of artwork and curtains.

(Including a new-to-their-home Madonna and child print that made me all ::heart-eyes emoji:: that I was tempted to sneak out in my diaper bag... If not for the inherent contradiction that is stealing religious artwork.)

The kids napped long and hard, we were finishing up hanging stuff, and then all of a sudden it was time to go home and it turned out we had never made it to the park.

On a day in the mid-sixties.

In February.

Well, crud.

Keira was actually sweet about it, even though she had been expecting to go to the "red park" all day. We hadn't even made it off their street, though, before I was overcome with my own disappointment that we had missed this whole glorious day (even if it was for a good cause in helping my in-laws get some normalcy back), and so we swung into the parking lot of the playground and got those kids some fresh air. They had a ball! Then since it was already the time we usually eat dinner, we were 25 minutes from home, and I had nothing on hand for a quick dinner -- plenty of stuff for dinner that takes a bit, but nothing quick -- we swung by Chick-fil-a for nuggets for the kids.

We fed the kids, enjoyed some family time, put the kidlets to bed and then had the ultimate rarity: a just-the-two-of-us dinner at home. (Pan-seared scallops and sautéed green beans, if you were wondering.)

Just... A really good day, even if I didn't get a chance to work on my tan.

19 February 2016

Catholics and Yoga

The area immediately around my home has everything: shopping, restaurants, multiple choices of movie theatre... And no yoga studios. I've been looking for low-impact fitness classes, and yoga seems like a good place to start. But there's nowhere to do it, and in this famously traffic-clogged area of the country, even a studio that's "15 minutes away" is a time commitment because 15 minutes is never 15 minutes.


I mentioned to my sister that I was frustrated by my lack of access to yoga and she said that a priest at her parish gave a whole homily about how yoga is problematic and indeed prohibited for Catholics.

::Needle scratch::


I was familiar with a prohibition against Eastern mystic meditation, obviously. My sister clarified that her priest said that the motions themselves are dangerous because they pay homage to dieties in whom we do not believe.


There is no way -- no logical way -- to make the case that the position of your body, bending and stretching into child's pose or downward-facing dog, is anything but morally neutral (not that there's no way to put your body into a morally questionable position, but that's another conversation).

Chanting "om" and clearing your mind, or meditating on your oneness with the universe, on the other hand: not morally neutral. Seeking Hindu enlightenment is self-evidently not Catholic. Don't do those things.

Intention matters and as always, one must know oneself. Are you the type to get caught up and lose yourself, to the point where you might find yourself chanting in an unknown language and emptying your mind in a quest for enlightenment? Danger, Will Robinson. If you are sure that you can treat it as pure exercise, and ignore all the mysticism, then go for it. We are called to be good stewards of our bodies and our souls.

For myself, I expect to have no difficulty whatsoever ignoring any calls to engage in mysticism. I'm going to be too busy either berating myself for wasting my time or rueing the day I chose to exercise at all, depending on the difficulty level. But I will be on the lookout for danger signs, because I just found out that I can take yoga at the community center in our neighborhood.

16 February 2016

A weekend away!

Forgive the silence, mes amis.

We spent President's Day weekend at my parents' beach house, which means basically no Internet access. I could have blogged on my phone, but I stink at blogging on my phone. So I didn't.

No one got enough sleep and we were crammed in like sardines, and we had a great time. There were seven kids under 5, cousins who don't see enough of each other and love to have a couple of days together. I didn't get many pictures (bad blogger), but here's Grandad reading a picture book with Keira:

And here's Declan and his sweet cousin Avery, four months apart in age but massively different in size, getting acquainted because this was their first time together where they were really aware of each other.


So now I have ten million things to do, as per uszh. (Pronounced sorta like a Trumpian "yuuuuge.") And I cannot focus on anything, because I'm basically a whole night short on sleep. Send help.

09 February 2016

The easiest way to cook a whole chicken, plus broth!

I am a soup lover. My husband always claims not to like soup, but that's not really true. (What he doesn't like is plain broth. Can't really blame him there!) My toddler loves soup as much as I do, and in fact that's our primary vegetable-delivery system for her.

So once or twice a week I make a big pot of soup. Currently we're alternating between chicken noodle and sausage with orzo (recipe in a later post!), because they're jam-packed with veggies and they're light for our lifestyle change. I love, love a good cream of potato, but that isn't as diet-friendly so I haven't been making it. And soup is also great for Lent!

I also feel like I'm single-handedly keeping Swanson in business buying boxes of chicken broth. I never had boxed or canned broth in my life before the last couple of years, because my mom always, always made her own. I have done it a few times, but until recently we've been severely restricted in our storage capacity, living with a series of apartment-sized freezers, so it was easier to buy boxed broth when I needed it. But now we're in a bigger house with a bigger freezer, plus we have a chest freezer in the garage for overflow storage. It's amazing.

I made broth recently but wasn't happy with the way it came out -- I think my water-to-chicken-carcass ratio was off. But then I saw a couple of tutorials for cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot and then turning the bones into broth... And THEN I saw that Perdue Oven Stuffer roasters were on sale at my grocery store.

It. Was. Time. At this very moment, my rich bone stock is cooling in God's refrigerator (a.k.a. my back deck). When it's cool, I'll skim the fat and then portion and freeze it for next week's soup!

And here's how you can do it yourself!

1. Roughly chop vegetables and put them in the base of the slow cooker. I used a large onion, three carrots and the core of a bunch of celery. You could also use balls of aluminum foil if you don't want to use or don't have the veggies -- the point is to elevate the chicken so it's not sitting in its juices the whole time it's cooking.

2. Remove any innards from the cavity of the chicken (save these!), then rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the skin however you wish -- I used salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika, massaging it in.

3. Nestle the chicken in the slow cooker. I happened to have fresh rosemary so I threw some on top for extra deliciousness. My large chicken (nearly 10 lbs!) overwhelmed my large Crock-Pot, by which I mean the lid didn't close all the way. It worked out anyway so don't panic if it happens to you.

Then I turned the slow cooker on low and set the timer for 9 hours.

This is what mine looked like after about seven hours, when the chicken had cooked down some and the lid finally closed. At this point I turned the slow cooker up to high because my chicken was so big and had been cooking with the lid vented the whole time. About an hour later, I checked it with my instant read thermometer, removed it from the slow cooker, covered it with aluminum foil, and let it rest while I made the sides for dinner. Then I carved the chicken -- one breast of this monster was enough for the four of us!

After dinner, I picked the chicken clean of edible chicken -- best to do this while it's still warm -- and dumped the carcass back into the slow cooker along with the veggies, still in the bottom with the chicken's juices, a bunch of parsley I had lying around (optional!), and filled the Crock-Pot to the top with water. Then I just turned it on low and left it overnight.

This morning the whole house smelled like chicken deliciousness. I strained the stock into a big pot, put it outside to cool, and discarded the carcass and vegetables in the garbage, because after cooking for 24 hours they are good for nothing.

I have a couple of rotisserie chicken carcasses and leftover herbs and vegetables stored in my freezer -- which is where I put the innards from this chicken, to use next time -- and I think I'll be using the slow cooker to make that too instead of putting it on the stove. So easy!

06 February 2016

Did you know...

... That if you go to smile.amazon.com instead of just going to amazon.com, you can set it up so that your every Amazon purchase results in a donation to the charity of your choice? I set mine to Catholic Relief Services and as long as I start from smile.amazon.com -- which is proving a challenge to remember! -- then 0.5% of my purchase price will automatically get donated to CRS.

Awesome, AmazonSmile.

04 February 2016

Consider yourself referred:

I started to write a whole post about the CDC's newest recommendation that women of childbearing age should never ever ever drink ever because pregnancies just drop out of the sky and you don't have any agency over your body and you are way too stupid and female to make informed decisions about your drinking vis-à-vis sexual activity.

But as usual, Simcha Fischer and Jenny Uebbing did it better. So go read them.

03 February 2016

Daleiden vs. Planned Parenthood: Who's the criminal?

I'm over on Catholic Mommy Blogs today, talking about Lenten fasting. Check it out!

This news is over a week old, but David Daleiden -- the activist behind the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood's grisly practices of selling aborted baby parts -- has been indicted by Harris County, TX on multiple charges, including a felony charge of tampering with governmental records, and a misdemeanor charge of buying human tissue.

{Note: according to this indictment, it's possible to criminally buy human tissue, while the seller on the other end of the transaction is judged to have done nothing wrong. Seems legit.}

It's long been known that some counties, even in Texas, would indict a ham sandwich, so long as said ham sandwich happened to be conservative (see: Travis County's politically-motivated indictment of Rick Perry over a veto threat). In this instance, one of the prosecutors is a Planned Parenthood board member.

Nothing about this passes the most cursory of sniff tests.

Here's the thing: David Daleiden may have done something criminal in the course of his investigation. I'm not sure one way or the other. If he did, I would bet he did so in the full knowledge that he may have to pay a price in the service of getting this information into the public consciousness.

We are not the ones occupying the "end justifies the means" side of this cultural divide, and as such I think that if there have been laws broken, then Daleiden should get his day in court. But let's be serious: it's not possible that Daleiden broke the law by buying the fetal issue if Planned Parenthood simultaneously did nothing wrong -- legally wrong, that is, because there's really no question whether Planned Parenthood's every action and instinct is morally wrong.

So! To that end, please consider signing this petition, which has over 108,000 signatures already, asking Harris County to reconsider their nakedly political witch hunt, and instead focus their investigative and prosecutorial efforts where they belong: on the ghouls of Planned Parenthood.

31 January 2016

During a medical emergency, might it actually be better to panic a little?

Have you ever gotten a frantic call from your childcare provider? On Friday morning, I got that call.

I had literally just stepped out of the shower when I got a phone call from our nanny's daughter. Our nanny is Nepalese, and her English is pretty good but she's not that comfortable on the phone. Her high-school-aged, totally-Americanized daughter was home as schools here had been closed all week after we got 30+ inches of snow last weekend, and so she made the call for her mom.

"Declan's having a hard time breathing. Should we call 9-1-1?"

He had been fine in the morning. It was less than five hours since I'd seen him. These things ran through my head, along with "no family history of asthma," and so I said, "Please take him outside in the cold air and I will be there in fifteen minutes or less. If you think he needs help faster, go ahead and call an ambulance." I threw on clothes and left my house within two minutes, with soaking wet hair. I left the house completely insecure because our front steps never got shoveled from the huge snowfall, and my husband had taken our only one garage door remote with him and I had no way to close it behind myself.

When I got to my nanny's house, she was standing on her front step, in short sleeves, even though it had started to snow again. Declan was in her arms, gulping shallow breaths. I put him right in the car and called the pediatrician, already driving in that direction. The flurries that had been falling had metastasized into legitimate driving snow by now. Declan fell asleep before I was out of my nanny's neighborhood, but he was still breathing shallowly and periodically coughing. 

It took almost 20 minutes to get to the pediatrician's office, because the driving snow and the poorly plowed roads slowed everything to a crawl. By the time I carried him inside he was loudly wheezing. The doctor -- the only doctor in our one-man-show of a pediatrician's practice -- was in with us within two minutes. 

We opened up Declan's clothes and his sides were heaving as he struggled to take in enough air. Our doctor listened to his chest and told me he had bronchiolitis and would need to be given a nebulizer treatment immediately. After the treatment, the wheezing had mostly stopped and I left with my son, calm now, plus a prescription for an inhaler and a warning that whenever my son gets a cough or cold from now on, my first thought should be "albuterol." 

So we have a family history of asthma, now, for all practical purposes. 

He's doing really well. He's fairly cooperative taking inhaler doses, especially for a typically-frantic medicine refusenik, and we haven't heard any wheezing since early yesterday. The doctor said to listen to his breathing, but ultimately it's just a cold and we should treat him normally. I think he took five years off his nanny's life.

I can't decide, though, if I reacted correctly. I am, by nature, Not A Worrier. I'm a consummate coper and I try not to borrow trouble (which presents an interesting contrast -- and eternal source of conflict if we're not careful -- with my worrywart husband). Even though it worked out that he's fine, part of me wonders if I was arrogant not to have the nanny call 9-1-1. The loudest part of me just refused to think it was very serious. But a one-year-old struggling to breathe is serious, especially when I couldn't evaluate him myself over the phone. Once I saw him myself, I could see that he needed medical attention, but his need wasn't so acute that I couldn't drive past the nearest emergency room to our own doctor, which is what I did. Should I have been more worried? Slightly panicked? 

I'm going to be kicking this one around for a while. I don't know the right answer.

13 January 2016

It's Ordinary time now, so how about a Christmas card?

I am unbelievably busy and tired this week.

Declan has been sick almost at all times since we moved in the first third of December. I am down to almost no sick leave at work (although it continues to accrue at all times, just not quickly). The house is not complete -- we're waiting endlessly for the new furniture to arrive, and there is almost no art on the walls -- because of the aforementioned sick-at-all-times baby.

Well, one-year-old.


Just how.

And he's been sleeping like garbage, so we're all sleeping like garbage. And we're finally having some success potty training the three-year-old, which is awesome but involves way more pee on Mommy's hands than I was expecting -- naive? You betcha.

Anyway, all this to say: I've been meaning to share our Christmas card with you for ages, so naturally I waited until the Christmas season was officially over to get my shizzzzz together. Also I mailed them before I moved because sometimes I'm no dummy, and sure enough I couldn't find the extras until yesterday.


Merry Christmas-is-over 2015! Catch you in ten months when we start doing it again!