Friday, January 29, 2010

Cold Today

It's.... COLD in Boston today.  I'm not complaining (having been raised in a desert, it's strangely exciting to live in a place where it regularly gets below 0.. don't ask me why), but it is pretty cold today.  I know Boston doesn't rival temperatures in ND, but it's cold enough to want to wear several layers and gloves and earmuffs and a big coat and warm socks and big clunky shoes and a thick scarf.. or to just stay inside :)

So today, even though I had to venture out into the cold (in my coat, which has kept me nice and warm. Only my face was cold walking to the office this morning), I was able to spend some time browsing around Smitten Kitchen, a food blog my friend shared with me last night (after an oh-so-tasty dinner at her house!). I have found a perfect cold-outside-cozy-inside activity for three grown-ups sharing one-bedroom apartment:

Making Popcorn!

I love popcorn to begin with (ask anyone who's ever watched a movie with me). Sometimes, I'll even settle for the popcorn at the movies, even though it's not nearly as tasty as home-made stuff, just because I want that salty crunch as I watch the screen flicker with the movie of choice.

Now, you may think "popcorn isn't very cozy on a freezing afternoon."  But this popcorn, I assure you, will be :)

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Missing You

north cascades
Originally uploaded by Seattle Miles

Dear Pacific Northwest:

I miss you and you're beautiful! I hope to see you soon...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Remember that list I wrote out last year for all the projects I was working on?  Should I decipher the code? Do you want to know how the gifts turned out?



1.  4 of these
nursing covers ordered by Mum for some of her friends at church. Complete with matching bags

2.  5 of these
Calendars (via Shutterfly!) for T's family.

3.  5 of these
Irish cable-knit hats for T and his brothers. I actually  made 6, with one green one for Conrad, but I didn't get a picture of him in it (Nina--wanna do me the favor?). I made T's orange one in November, to see how the pattern turned out.

4.  5 of these
Purses for all the girls in T's family! Nina really liked the pink/jean one I made a while back, so I gave her that one. I made a red one for Mum, a green one for Abby, and "mini" purses (I shrunk the pattern a bit) for Lydia and Caellainne. They've been big hits, so far as I know :)  

5.  3 of these  
Lace-knit cowls for some women I know. Let's just say this project didn't make the holiday deadline. I have only gotten half way on the first one. Maybe lace knitting isn't my thing..
6.  1 set of these:  Partner mittens for our good friends in PA.  *aHEM* I still haven't gotten a picture of them in use (Paul?).  BC colors, of course :)

7.  1 of these
scarf for the office "Yankee Swap"

8.  mail this
my favorite Christmas CD (Holly Cole, of course) for our best friends!  Andrew really likes Diana Krall's voice and I told his wife: "If he likes Diana, he'll LOVE Holly."  No complaints so far ;)

9.  Order these 
family picture prints (taken by Mandy) for my Daddy and siblings. I know you haven't received them yet.. but they've been ordered!

10.  2 of these
was going to do hats for two little girls I know... didn't make the holiday deadline either.  They're flower hats, though, so I suppose there's always Easter :)

And want to know what else I did? 

I made Giulia a purse for her birthday

I made T a yoga mat bag for Christmas

...and a pair of hand warmers for New Years/Spring 2010

I made stars for two nativity sets that didn't have them

and (while I had the clay out) I made some magnets

and an ornament for a good friend :)

I finished Bethany's long-awaited mei tai (remember those?)

I made Lorna's Christmas stocking

and some ornaments for Christmas at Daddy's house

I also made 4 "bitty bags"
to go with the purses I made for T's family

WHEW!  No wonder I haven't done anything crafty since I got back to Boston.

We Took A Walk

While T and I were in Seattle for New Years, the whole family (remarkable, isn't it? The WHOLE family was home) went for a walk in the park near a lake. It was drizzly, a little windy, and rather chilly--a perfect Seattle winter day :)

Lydia and the three younger boys brought their scooters. Caellainne brought her pink umbrella.  As you can see from the pictures, we had a lot of fun!

A Walk in the Park

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tut-Tut, It Looks Like Rain

Yep.. lots and lots of rain. It was barely misting when I walked across campus to work today.  But I wore my heavy-duty snow boots 'cuz I knew the ground would be slushy and awkward, as the rain mixed with the icy snow on the ground.

And I'm very glad I did.  By the time I got off work, it was raining. Really raining.  And it was windy. Which means my pants got quite damp from the thighs (where my rain coat covers) down to the cuffs (which were soaked). And because of the wind and the wet and the why-did-i-go-to-work-today, it was rather cold, too.

Definitely a stay-inside day...

the kind of day when cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate would just about hit the spot.

So I better get to that :)

Exciting :)

Parenting is a scary thing. Not because it's impossible, but simply because it's challenging.  Also, (and more importantly) I think it's because there is so much Love involved.  It's hard to love someone as much as a parent loves her child.  That is, the natural, over-flowing, unconditional Love that a parent has for her child makes her vulnerable to all the ups and downs in that child's life and in their relationship as parent-child.

There are many other fears that come with parenting, too.  There are so many unknowns, so many things you have to "discover for yourself."  What parent hasn't called his own parent at 3 in the morning, exhausted, saying: "I don't know what to do"? These fears are not prohibitive, of course, but they loom on the horizon of any expectant parent.

So, thinking about adoption is a little scary, too.  Not because I think I can't be a parent, but because all my parenting knowledge up to this point has been from biological parents who raised biological children.  I'm not saying this is an "easier" or "better" way, it's just that I have little experience with parenting a non-biological child.  I've done my fair share of babysitting of course (nieces and nephews, siblings-in-law, high school babysitting jobs), and as much as I love the kids, it's not parenting.  I mean, you can always give that kid back when the 'rents come home, right? :)

I confess one of my fears when we were first thinking about adoption was "What about breastfeeding?"  Breastfeeding has been shown to provide far more than merely nourishment for infants--there is an irreplaceable bond between the mother and child who breastfeed.  I recall those moments when the screaming (but not hungry) baby can't be comforted by anyone but its mother (who can only comfort him by nursing).

But guess what!  I just discovered that women who have never been pregnant (i.e., me) can induce lactation by natural (i.e. no hormonal supplementing) means!  I may not be able to produce a full supply of milk, but any breast milk for baby is better than none, and the bond would still be there. And there are ways of "breastfeeding" using formula (or donated breast milk).  Possibilities abound.

One of the things I think of most, when imagining motherhood, is holding my baby close to my chest, watching him nurse, feeling our skin touch and knowing the closeness that comes with such contact.  I think about him looking up at me and smiling, and about those quiet moments in the morning, or the middle of the night, as I pull him close to me and sooth him to sleep. I think about being that one person who can comfort him when no one else can.

And it's beautiful :)

More info, if you're curious:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Announcement

After several divine "nudges" in this direction, Taylor and I want to let you all know we are going to start the adoption process.

One nudge was BC introducing an adoption benefits plan right when I started working here.

One was a dear friend asking us "why the heck not!?" and sending us the Adoption for Dummies book :)

One nudge was being asked by a close friend to consider adopting a newly conceived baby. For a whole week, T and I prayed about what we should do... We did say that, if the mother was considering abortion, we would take the baby unconditionally, absolutely.  For a whole week, I thought about that little child.  I thought about welcoming it into my home in June. For a whole week, I felt a little (tiny) bit like an expectant mother.  Sadly, and tragically, the young mother decided to abort her baby.  I think the baby was a girl, and I have named her. Our first little saint.

We don't know very many specifics at this point. We don't know what agency we'll use or what "preferences" we'll end up writing down for our child.  We don't know if we'll adopt a waiting child, an orphan, a new baby, a toddler, girl or boy, domestically or internationally.

But we're beginning!  There are so many unknowns!  It is exciting and somewhat frightening all at the same time. Prayers are invaluable. Advice is welcome.

Do you know of any babies who could grow up with somewhat crazy parents? :)  Let us know! We won't take their ice cream cones...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh Christmas

Christmas Eve was a busy day.  This year, Viv and I learned, in a very hands-on way, how hard Momma worked to make Christmas each year for us.  I know she was there with us this year, helping to make our Christmas wonderful too.

She'd spend hours and hours for weeks before Christmas baking and prepping and decorating and shopping.  We'd easily have 10 different kinds of cookies, several flavors of biscotti, various other homemade cakes and candies, and all manner of candy from the store (yes, it was very easy to gain weight over the holidays at Momma's house) :)  It was glorious!

Every time she'd go out shopping (all through the year, probably), she'd be thinking about Christmas. She'd pick out "something here" "something there" and little tiskets and taskets for our Christmas piles and baskets.  For several years, I helped her wrap presents on Christmas Eve.  She would make the Kringle, and I would wrap--and wrap and wrap, curling ribbon, labeling gift tags, sticking bows on--for hours. The present pile would grow in heaps around me--on the floor, on chairs, on the table--and on my parents bed seemed to remain an un-shrinking pile of more presents to wrap.  Of course, I never wrapped any of my own presents. Viv did that :)

Momma would always oversee the decorating (which, in many ways, was an ongoing process throughout December), telling us where to put each nativity set, and reminding us where certain decorations always went (the twangy Jingle Bell music box always hung between the kitchen and the living room; the Santa music box on the wall next to the mirror).

Dinner on Christmas Eve was either all-you-can-eat fried shrimp or (in the "good ol' days") hamburgers while driving around the neighborhood viewing Christmas lights.  I remember talking to Momma when I was older, noting that so many families had big Christmas Eve dinners, rivaling Thanksgiving Feasts.  She told me she was always too tired to make a "big fancy dinner" on Christmas eve. Last year our Byzantine Holy Supper was definitely a collaborative effort.  It was great, but it was a lot of work!

And then at night, after dinner, even when we were old enough to help her with presents and last minute details, she'd send us to bed long before she went herself. She would stay up, cleaning the kitchen, or wrapping the few gifts she had to find herself in her closet, or putting the finishing touches on the last of the cookies she was baking for us to eat the next day.

So naturally, this Christmas Eve, Viv and I had our hands full. We had done some shopping the day before, for stocking-stuffers.  I couldn't find ornaments I liked (Momma got us each an ornament every year), so I painted some ceramic trinkets from the "leftovers" in the ceramic cupboard.  I sealed them on Christmas Eve, ready to be hung on the stockings. I was even doing some sewing that morning, finishing a gift for Taylor... Momma was looking over my shoulder, I'm sure.

Christmas Eve Mass with Bethany + kids in the evening.

It was so cute to see Michael and Rachel dressed up as a Ram and a Ewe (respectively)--cotton ball t-shirts, of course!  Then Daddy, Viv, T and I came home or Christmas dinner.  I had initially thought (ambitiously) that we could do another Holy Supper.  But (surprise?) when we got home, I was too tired!  I asked everyone if they minded just a shrimp dinner :) and they said it was alright. So that's what we did.  I think we even watched a movie while eating.  Momma was probably chuckling at us :)

I had Viv wrap the stocking presents for Taylor, Daddy, and me.  I had T wrap Viv's stocking presents.  I made the Kringle. Viv cleaned up the kitchen and baked Crispy Chocolate Chip cookies for Daddy.  Daddy looked through the closet for more presents we could wrap.. presents Momma had bought earlier in the year, intending them for various people at Christmas.  Even there, she was with us.

I think Taylor went to bed first (he was still recovering from law school finals!), and Daddy went to bed next, once he was convinced there were no more presents in the closet, and once he had sampled the cookies Viv and I were working on :)

I sent Viv to bed around 2, after we had stuffed the stockings together and the kitchen was mostly clean. I stuffed Taylor's and Vivian's stocking. She stuffed Daddy's and mine.  I had to stay up for just a bit longer for the Kringle.

The house was quiet.

Christmas was ready.

I thought of Momma, laying out all our Santa presents in our respective piles (sometimes we would even pick out which chair we wanted our presents left on, informing her of our choices) :)

I thought of Momma, gingerly placing the baked Kringle on pretty platters on the pretty table, draped with a clean Christmas tablecloth, with the Winter Tea set ready for Christmas morning breakfast.  I thought of her going from room to room, checking on her sleeping children and children-in-law, blessing us as she went.

As I turned out the lights in the kitchen and walked through the softly glowing dining room, past the luminous (if Tiny) Christmas Tree, I whispered my prayers of Thanks for a wonderful evening spent in a House filled with Love.

As I climbed in to bed and snuggled up to my husband, I thought of Momma and Daddy, and how nothing in my life would be as Good as it is if it weren't for the deep Love they shared with each other and the Love and Grace they accepted from Christ throughout the years of their marriage, and even now.  And I'm sure I fell asleep with Momma all around me, around her family, and her desert house, as she whispered her own prayers and blessings for us early on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Welcome to Boston

We're happy to have you with us, Viv :)


an investment.

You may remember that our teapot broke last year. So we got a new one.

Then that one broke last fall.  And we got another new one.

So when I came home on Monday to find that teapot broken on a hot burner, we decided to make a change.

We did some research and found the perfect solution.

First, we didn't want a metal teakettle because of the way it reacts with the water.  That meant we needed glass or ceramic, and we clearly can't handle the ceramic right now :)  We found this glass one, but we figured we would probably have the same problem with it as the ceramic one.  And shattered glass is much more dangerous than broken ceramic.

Second, we needed some auto-shut off mechanism to counter our forgetful tendencies... so an electric kettle seemed to be the way to go.  But many electric kettles are plastic and heat the water way too fast and then we'd have to wait for the water to cool down (we're picky about water temperature) :)

And then, we found this beautiful little kettle.

Glass, with minimal stainless steel in the pot
Temperature gauge for different beverages
And.... auto shut-off when temperature is reached :)
Problem: solved!

So... welcome to our little family, Kettle. It's good to have you with us :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Take-Out on Kutani

T and I arrived in CA late on the 21st.  Vivian picked us up from the airport, we ate at In-n-Out (oooh, the beautiful wonders of great burgers!), and drove the three hours up to Daddy's house. That is, Viv drove, and Taylor talked to her.. I was konked in the back seat after finishing a blue Christmas present (aHEM, Garrett).

We were greeted when we drove up to the house by cheery Christmas lights hanging on the pergola. Thanks, Daddy :) It was good to come home to that, late at night, with the stars out and the air crisp and cool--it made it feel more like Christmas (you may remember I was having a hard time getting in the Christmas groove).  We brought our bags in and said goodnight to Daddy and went to bed.

But Tuesday was Vivian's birthday, and there was work to do!  Daddy went to work, and Taylor went for a run. So Viv and I tidied up the house and got out the Christmas decorations box (y'know those huge dishpack boxes that movers use?).  Daddy had purchased a 3-food tree at a garage sale this winter (the flocked tree Momma got last year decided it was done (flockin' tree)), so Viv and I put the Small Tree up with Daddy's Santa ornaments on it, and Momma's wax angel from Germany.  We also put lights around the window behind the tree. A very Christmasy room was the result.

Throughout the day we spent a lot of phone calls trying to figure out what we wanted to do for Viv's birthday dinner. We didn't really want to go out to eat, but we weren't really set up for cooking a big dinner at home (at Daddy's or Bethany's).  So the verdict:  sushi take-out!

Actually, it turned out pretty spectacular.  We warmed up some leftover rice, and Bethany came out with her three sweetie-kids. Daddy picked up our sushi order on his way home from work.  None of us felt bad for having take-out for dinner since none of us know how to make sushi better than a restaurant.  But not to be outdone (what would Momma have said if we ate out of styrofoam on a birthday?!), we pulled out Momma's kutani china, which looks beautiful under any kind of tasty food, and served the sushi on that.

And it was delicious! And so filling! And so blessedly easy :)

After dinner, we all sat down to chat and had a good evening. I gave Bethany (and Lorna) an early Christmas present, which they seem to be enjoying :)

And we made silly faces together.

Taylor and Michael wrestled.

Wednesday, the eve of Christmas Eve, we all (everyone) went shopping. It was then that I began to realize, in practical application, how hard Momma worked for Christmas every year.  Granted, she was shopping for Christmas every time she was at the store throughout the year (how's that for foresight, eh?), but even so, it was just hard to find little things here and there that people would enjoy.  But we had a good day spending time together.

I think T and Daddy had a better time once they freed themselves from the women and children, though.
Understandably. We're pretty silly :)

Blogger's Block!

I haven't blogged in a while.

A long while.

Not because I didn't have things to write about, but because I didn't have time to write about them.

And I'm lazy.

I didn't even do a lot of blog-reading over break... so I had a long list of catch-up posts to read (which were great) :)

But now that I have (a little more) time to blog, I can't decide where to begin.

Should I start from where I am right now? Should I tell you about our Christmas and New Year break? Should I share with you all the (hundreds) of pictures I took over break? Something in between?

So I'm stuck in blog-writer's block.

I should have blogged over break. I should have made the time to at least say hello and post a picture or two.  It's not like I couldn't have made the time.

New Years Resolution #1: 
blog regularly, regardless

So... what does that mean? It has to be more than a monthly thing, because I'm almost always able to post 10 blogs a month, but I want it more regular than that.  If I say three times a week, that would be 12 blogs a month. Not enough. Four times a week? Do you think I can do that consistently? That's a blog every other day, or so.  I think I can do that...

But the first week of 2010 is already shot. I suppose I could try to do 8 posts this week... haha! I'm counting this as number one.