Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Cookies and Kittens and Other Cute Stuff

Hi all. We’ve been busy around here the past week or so.

First before I do anything else, here is Agnes’ grave marker! It was installed in time for us to visit on Memorial Day. It is so pretty. We are very happy with it.

10418322_10203182051448795_7103262694341153966_n

 

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Okay. Since I made those cute lamb cookies for the Holy Ghost parish Easter dinner, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make more cute cutout cookies. Finally this week I found an excuse: the celebration of Stephen’s baptism day! He was baptized on May 28, 2011 when he was just barely three weeks old. We want to celebrate these sacramental anniversaries in our family, so we took the opportunity to throw a little party, complete with cute animal cutout cookies. I wanted to do octopuses and sharks because those cutters appealed to me this time. If you are interested, the set of cutters I bought is this one from Wilton. It has any animal you could ever want. Any. Animal. The cookie recipe I use now for these cutouts is the “Glazed Butter Cookie” recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t talked about those guys for a while, but I want you all to know that they are still a big part of my life. Especially now that I can’t live without these cookies. I like this recipe because the dough is easy to work with, you don’t have to chill it for hours before you roll it out for cutting, plus the directions say to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment which is pure genius. Nothing sticks to anything and the dough rolls out perfectly even with very few tears. That’s “tears” rhymes with “pears” not rhymes with “beers,” though this recipe certainly cuts down on that kind of “tears” as well.

Nap time

Nap time

Also this past weekend we went to visit my Aunt and the new kittens one of her cats recently birthed. There were four kittens in the litter and we wanted to adopt one of them! It was a fun trip. Stephen enjoyed playing with all four kittens, who were all energetic and very adorable. We decided relatively quickly that we wanted to take the fluffy one, the only kitten that has long fur. We had been discussing potential kitten names for a while so it was pretty easy to decide on a name. At this point in the story I would like to stop the narrative in order to fill you in on a bit of history. As you know, we already have a cat named Sashimi. We adopted Sashimi a few years ago when we lived in Billings, MT, and we thought it was funny to name him after the Japanese raw-fish appetizer “sashimi.” Ha ha. Aren’t we funny and so witty. Anyway so. We wanted to continue the ethnic food theme with our new cat as well. We tossed around some ideas like Pakora, which is a chickpea flour fritter from the East Indian culinary tradition. We considered Cannoli. Taquito. Nori. Ramen. As you can imagine it gets ridiculous very quickly. Frijoles Refritos, “Frito” for short. Combo Plate #2. Gravlax. Wonton. I refer you back a few lines [ha ha aren’t we funny and so witty]. We named the fluffy kitten Pakora and vowed to bring her home with us.

Oh, but all the other kittens are so cute and look at that one, he really gets along well with Pakora and my Aunt says he’s even more snuggly and I really wanted to get another snuggly kitty. But then, if we get another kitten, what should we name it? Gravlax? Jeremy said no way. I quote directly from Jeremy’s mouth: “That is the worst name for a cat ever.”

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Guess what we ended up naming the kitten? Gravlax! I’m so happy we did because every time anyone says the name Gravlax everyone in the room kind of titters. It’s hilarious. Also, it’s very much in keeping with Sashimi’s name, since Gravlax is a fermented fish that is also eaten raw. I think the name is awesome. Pakora and Gravlax. It rolls off the tongue so well. And they really do get along well with each other. Sashimi did take a few days to get used to the idea of two new kittens, but I think they have already worked out their differences. They have all played together a few times, and they can all eat in the same room without a throw-down occurring.

stephen and iconsFinally, we hung up our icons in our new house. It took awhile to get around to it, but I’m so happy we finally did it. It looks great! There is plenty of room to continue adding icons as our collection grows. So long as add to it symmetrically! We plan to have icons for each of our children’s patron saints, as many as that may be, plus whatever else we decide to add. I’m excited for the possibilities.Gravlax likes Mary!

Advertisements
1 Comment »

Face to Face

I realized today that one of the main reasons I’ve been quiet on the blog recently is not because my life is so busy. No. It’s not because nothing meaningful is happening around here, that’s not it either. I think the big reason I’m not posting on the blog is because Jeremy and I are participating in grief counseling. I am able to take the inner conversations that I used to hash out on the interwebs, and I hash them out with our counselor. This activity is exceedingly important and beneficial, and I didn’t fully realize how beneficial the counseling is until I made the connection to my silence on the blog.

We’ve been meeting with the grief counselor for about six weeks, and that pretty much lines up with blog silence. It’s really funny to me that I find myself appreciating the experience so much, since Jeremy all but dragged my the hair into the first meeting. *Sighhhhh* “Okay, honey, if it’s that important to you, we can go…”

The first few weeks of meetings, we just got to know our counselor (we have the same lady every time), and we told her the background of us and Agnes’ story, and what happened when she died. Then we worked on a list of goals so we know what we are working on, and so we can know when we are done. That was hard. How will we be able to know when we are healed enough that we don’t need grief counseling anymore? We had to list specific, concrete markers like: right now I cry at trigger moments twice a day; I’ll know I am “done” when I cry at trigger moments only once a week. For example. We have to learn how to recognize a trigger moment is about to happen so we can redirect ourselves or prepare, and thus manage our emotions. That is a big one. For me, trigger moments happen all the freaking time. If you ever see me weeping in the grocery store parking lot or sniffling during choir practice, now you know why. Trigger moment. I keep saying that like you already know what it means. You can probably guess, but the trigger moment is something that makes me think of Agnes, or something that makes me feel sad, or something that pushes me close to the edge of tears. So basically, anything.

The other thing we’ve been doing with our counselor is, she wanted a list of names of all the people whose lives were enriched or touched by Agnes in any way. That would be a completely separate post. I think I will do it; the list is very impressive. And our counselor wants us to think about all the positive things that are coming of our experience. She told us that even though we feel like it is impossible to even get up in the morning and do our stuff, people look at us and are filled with hope because, if we can overcome the monumental loss of our baby enough so that we are even able to drag our butts out of the house, then they can surely overcome whatever trials they have in their lives. So, we’re supposed to think about things like that. Hope. Inspiration. Are we inspiring? I don’t know. I don’t feel that inspiring.

Anyway, it’s very good that we are meeting with a grief counselor and having these conversations face to face. She is trained to ask the right questions and draw out what we really need to say. She is encouraging and receptive, affirms our feelings and tells us we are totally and completely normal for feeling the way we do. She helps us to see all the sides and she helps us draw comfort from our memories rather than pain. Face to face. A living, feeling person is far superior for this sort of thing than a glowing screen bearing a vague promise that someone might connect.

On a slightly related note, I just want to mention that we are pretty excited because the monument company called us this week to say Agnes’ burial marker is finished; the cemetery will install it soon. This is huge because every time we go visit Agnes’ grave site we’re like, “….I think this is it…maybe…or over here?…This looks right with that tree there….I think I remember these other names being near her…” It’s a nightmare! When I say a prayer over the place where Agnes is buried, I want to be darn sure she is where I think she is! Plus, we’re excited because her stone is really pretty. We’ll definitely take a picture once it’s installed and I’ll put it up here. No worries.

100_1811

An old picture of Agnes I wanted to share again. Because she’s cute!

3 Comments »

Stephen is Three!

100_2123This weekend we celebrated Stephen’s third birthday by throwing a little party. We were kind of organized about it, and put together a few casual activities like blowing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and bowling with the plastic kid bowling set on the front patio. We made a table full of treats, and Stephen got to eat cake, and open presents, and play with his little friends. I would say the party was a success, though a more closely-structured activity may have been better for the group of kids we had. A more structured activity may have averted the inevitable three-year-old conflict. Oh well. Overall, I would say the party went well.

When we bought our house, the oven in the kitchen didn’t work, so we’ve been doing everything on the stovetop or in the little toaster oven. We were waiting for our tax refund to arrive before we bought a new oven. Well, we were able to get our new oven delivered and installed on Friday evening, so I was able to bake Stephen’s cake at home! It was the very first thing (and so far, only) I made in the new oven. Sniff, how sweet! I had fully intended to buy a nice-looking cake from the grocery store bakery, but when I went to the store for party shopping, I noticed the box mixes and cans of frosting were all $1.00 each. I know, I know, box cake mix. But Stephen doesn’t care if I baked his birthday cake from scratch and frankly, I had a number of other things to do, so I made him a cake for $2.00 and decorated it with candy I already had. You can’t beat that. And of course, he loved it! Blowing out the candle did take two tries because one of his little friends ran up and blew it out the first time. We relit the candle and Stephen had a turn. He blows like he’s saying “ffff” which isn’t very effective at creating a breeze, so I helped. He’s a hoot.

100_2125Stephen was looking forward to his birthday for at least a week, and he would show anyone who asked how old he was going to be. Three fingers. The morning of his party he asked to eat cake for breakfast. He knows that’s ridiculous, too, because he asks very quietly and looks embarrassed when we ask him to repeat the request because we didn’t hear it. He’s very cute. Even today as we eat the leftover party treats, he holds up the grape or the strawberry or the piece of cheese and says, “this was for my birfday!” He is still talking about his party and how he had a “birfday.” Our friends and family gave Stephen some very thoughtful gifts for his special day. Jeremy’s parents shipped him one of those bikes with no pedals, and the kid is supposed to push it along with his feet. Stephen is kind of nervous to ride it, so we don’t have any documentation of his bike enjoyment yet, but we’re hoping he gains confidence quickly. The little boy who lives next door jumped right on and rode around, so we’re thinking of inviting him back to show Stephen how to do it!

100_2130I can’t believe Stephen is already three years old. When I think back to what my life was like when he was born, it seems like a life that belonged to a different person! So much has happened since then. We’ve moved twice to two different states. I quit working full time, then quit working part time. We had a miscarriage, then another baby, then that baby died. Jeremy changed careers. We have a new house. We’ve become Byzantine Catholic after a life of Roman Catholicism. So much has happened since Stephen was born, and he’s rolled with it the whole way. He is so good-natured and easy-going. Of course he has unreasonable toddler moments, but we are so blessed to have such a wonderful little guy in our lives. He is smart and funny and helpful, he does cute stuff and has interesting ideas, he makes me smile and cry.

Happy birthday, Stephen. Mommy and Daddy love you! And your baby sister Agnes loves you! And all your grandparents love you! And everyone else…you know how you feel about my kiddo.

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: