what i want to remember from right now

  • Ice skating with Evangeline for the first time. The tiny skates! She loved getting pushed around in that little green thing, as fast as we could go.
  • Evange learning to hold up two fingers by herself. And just randomly I find her holding two fingers, like she’s always practicing. She says, “Zelie is going to be one years old and I’m two years old!” So proud of herself. And very excited for Zelie’s birthday party. I hope I can make it live up to the hype.
  • Zelie crawling – determined, head down, super fast. flopping down onto the couch or pillows like a little bug. putting every dang little scrap of paper/anything she’s not supposed to eat into her mouth ALL THE TIME. (And she’s sleeping terribly. But maybe I want to forget that.)
  • Zelie making friends all the time. Getting to be pretty interactive – grabbing faces and hair and just so smiley. Kids love her.
  • The girls starting to play with each other.

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  • Evange on a The Polar Express KICK, in March. Grandma and Grandpa visited and she made Grandma read it to her at least 10 times. And she needs to wear her “Santa Claw” hat while she reads. Love this girl.

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  • Our little apartment at University Village. We’re moving to our first house soon and leaving apartment life, especially in the Village, is bittersweet.

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what we’ve been eating: lenten edition

I feel like I’ve been on a good vegetarian kick lately, which feels funny to say because I was a vegetarian for six years, until Zelie’s pregnancy ended it. But it feels (all the feels, sorry) like adulting to learn to cook meat, and we still don’t eat much of it and I’m trying to buy local meat when I do, blah blah blah all that to say, Lent has been a good excuse to get back to my vegetarian “roots.” (My dad is from Argentina, my “roots” are not actually vegetarian at all). Anyway, here’s what we’ve been eating the last few weeks.

  • ALL DA SOUPS.  This vegan cookbook (the only cookbook I own!) that I got from my lovely SIL is where I get all my soup recipes. I can throw in whatever vegetables I have lying around, it makes the apartment smell great, and nothing says YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS ETERNAL WINTER like some hearty, yummy soup. I make tortilla soup, peanut stew, lentil-cauliflower soup, 10 spice vegetable soup, and red lentil-kale soup on the regular.
  • BREAD. I just made bread this past week (to go with soup for dinner) using Sarah’s Rustic No-Knead Bread recipe and it was BOMB. Definitely my new go-to. It was so easy! No mixer! I made it the night before because in the past, dough hasn’t risen for me and I wanted to give it more time, but this doubled its size in two hours like it was supposed to! So I put it in the fridge overnight, let it sit out for an hour the next day before baking, and it turned out super delish. I was v pleasantly surprised. Thanks, Sarah!

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  • BLACK BEAN BURGERS.  I don’t really like hamburgers anymore, but I love me a good veggie burger. Maya made these for me after Evange was born and I finally tried my hand at them. They were easier than I expected and had really good flavor! Chris humors me (he doesn’t think they count as burgers) but on a no meat Friday, they are a winner.
  • HOMEMADE PIZZA. I used the Rushed Pizza Dough and Margherita Pizza recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, but this recipe from her blog is close. This was a fun attempt. My first round, I did half whole wheat flour and I think not enough water and it turned out super crumbly, but then tasted okay/not the greatest when baked. I made two more rounds with all white flour and the third was the best – it actually felt like pizza dough lol. The pressure was on to get it right because we had guests over, but pizza is pizza and it was all good.

Any vegetarian fave recipes to share? I need help transitioning my cooking away from hearty soups when spring/summer/warm weather ever arrives.

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and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

oh crap! potty training. my thoughts exactly.

No one prepared me for potty training!! I mean, I don’t know what preparation would have looked like exactly, but man, it was a PROCESS. Any new milestone that I approach with Evangeline (eating solids, sleep training, climbing out of the crib, etc) I go through this angst (CHANGE!). And potty training was no different.

In July, I made a friend who has a girl Evangeline’s age, like week apart. I noticed her taking Coral to the potty one day and was like WHAT! She’s POTTY TRAINED?! I didn’t know we could do that yet! And my friend said, yep, I trained her at 19 months.

MIND BLOWN.

She told me that she read this book and followed that method. I was intrigued because approaching any big change, a book is comforting. So I thought about it a lot, thought about how much it would suck to have to take the time to train Evangeline when right now it was just so easy to let her pee and poop in a diaper. And how would car trips work? How would I go anywhere? 

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But then I started listening to the book and was won over by the author pretty quickly. She’s funny and she frames it as a really cool milestone and “your first glimpse into how your child learns.” And I’m all about that. And then she started going through the steps and I was like wait, wait, slow down and Amazon Primed that book ASAP. Help me. 

Her intro and first couple chapters made me realize, Evangeline is totally ready to learn this. I am the limiting factor. So I braced myself, marked the start day on the calendar (September 1, just to give us a few days to calm down after her birthday, and nice clean start date) and cleared our schedule. Honestly, our schedule is going to the library, etc, little fun morning outings, but even letting go of this was hard. Totally home bound for several days? Yikes. 

A couple things were working in my favor with this venture.

1. Our 500 sq foot apartment set to be demolished in June. There’s always a potty within reach! There’s already years and years of pee soaked into this carpet and it’s going to be destroyed soon anyway!

2. Summertime. When I couldn’t keep her inside anymore, I let her go out to the playground with no pants on and brought a potty along. There were many accidents out there, and it was possibly a questionable parenting choice, but other moms were sympathetic.

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But still, the first week was SO HARD. Like, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Similar to childbirth, I think there is necessary amnesia associated with potty training. 6 months later, I’ve already forgotten some of how exhausting it was to strike the balance between complete focus and total casualness. I’m watching you super carefully to learn your pee pee dance, but it’s no big deal to me if you pee on the floor, you do you, gf, this is not a power struggle. But I do remember thinking at some point towards the end of that first week – Shoot, if I have more babies, I have to potty train them too. (I did not have that thought after giving birth, btw.)

One of our first trips out, on Day 9, was a walk to campus for a ND football tailgate with seminarians. Got one pee in the potty and one pair of wet pants. I called it a win.

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My friend also recommended this portable seat to make big toilets accessible and it was CLUTCH. Basically, all credit goes to Katherine. 🙂

Overall, I recommend Jamie’s method. It’s super intense, but it works. Potty training was all I thought about and talked about for 2 weeks, and then it got more normal. There were (and still are) accidents here and there, but I really liked not having to change her diapers anymore (just down to one baby) and not buying them (!) and throwing them into landfill any longer. After Christmas, when Evangeline had a total regression at Grandma’s house (my fault), we got home and got right back to it and she picked up again in no time.

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tricycle for her bday. a much less messy milestone.

turn it into love

Every kind of work can become prayer.

– St. Josemaria Escriva

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One of my spiritual practices now is offering up the work I do as prayer. File this one under Things I Love Now That I’m Catholic But Had No Idea About Before. (Confession, saints, Natural Family Planning, relics, and feast days are just a few others in that category). I’m still learning about this practice, but as a way of understanding work and prayer, it has formed a new way for me to relate to God. Similar to the monastic bell idea, and this is kind of a part two to that post. After Evange was born, I was added to a Facebook group of moms in the campus ministry organization I worked for. I remember different threads popping up around the question – As a mom with a newborn, I can’t find space have a quiet time anymore. What do your prayer lives look like with babies? At the same time, I joined a Catholic mom Facebook group focused on Advent reflections. Through that (and this blog that I’d been following for a while because she’s also a convert, and loves Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter – the best!) I started to see that Catholics seemed to have an understanding of prayer that extended beyond the “quiet time” in a very helpful way for a sleep deprived new mom.

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I’m a big fangirl of this lady, and she wrote a reflection that stuck with me. She was talking about this idea of offering up the small, every day tasks. That we have the choice to whine or complain about the little things that just need to get done, every day – feeding our bodies and others’, cleaning up after feeding those bodies, cleaning the mess of non-toilet trained others – or, we can offer up those tasks as prayers. From what I gather (again, baby Catholic here) there are formal prayers, like the Morning Offering, to offer up the day ahead, all the work, prayers, joys, and sufferings, that will come, to Jesus, for however He wants to use them. But I think you can also just pray throughout the day. When I hit the end of my energy or patience, I try to quickly, mentally, pray – Help me do this well, as a prayer for ___. (Quick side note – I usually like to pray for the pregnant women in my life, but right now there are SO MANY I can’t keep track of them all. We’re definitely not in the Bay Area anymore).

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I don’t know if that’s really what offering it up is, but that’s what I do. This understanding of prayer is also deeply linked to a Catholic understanding of suffering – that we can link our suffering to Jesus’s. I think I first heard about this in relation to labor pains – that women would ask for prayer requests before labor, and offer those intentions up. Zelie’s due date was Good Friday and I was excited about the idea of being in labor on that day – Dang! I’ll be suffering as Jesus is dying! How cool is that?? But then I had to ask Chris, “So, how does offering up someone or something in prayer work, exactly? Do I have to keep them in mind while I’m in labor? Cuz that is not happening.” And he said no, I can pray before labor, to offer up my suffering as a prayer, for whatever. And I was like, ok cool. But she was born four days early. And I got an epidural because I didn’t want another 50 hour labor. So, obviously not ready for Good Friday levels of suffering over here. But everything can become prayer, and that’s something I wish I had known sooner and want to keep leaning into.

Turn it into love, my friend. Turn it into love. 

-Blythe Fike