Laughing, Weeping, Living

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

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.

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What I Wore Sunday: June 2 Happy Birthday!

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday.

 

Today is my birthday! Yay! So far to celebrate my birthday, in no particular order:

1) I finished the Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake and ate a slice. Mmmmm. So delicious.

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2) Stephen escaped the house two times through the back door. He opens the real door, opens the screen door, climbs the steps up into the garage, opens the back door that goes to the back yard, runs around the garage and into the front yard, where Jeremy saw him through the window on the first occasion. Then we decided to keep the door locked. But. On the second occasion, it took a while for me to notice the lack of baby sounds and start looking. I saw him through the window standing in the street with the neighbor lady from across the street. So now I have an escape artist baby and neighbors who think I’m an irresponsible mother. Anyway, I do feel like an irresponsible mother. It could have turned out so much worse and I’m still recovering from the horror.

3) Jeremy bought me the Pioneer Woman‘s second cookbook. Yay! What you may not know is that I read cookbooks cover to cover like novels. The Pioneer Woman cookbook is like a novel with pictures. She does beautiful step-by-step photos of every recipe. I’m excited to have this on my shelf. And my mom bought me a big billowy dress that is exactly what I need for these hot summer days being extremely pregnant.

4) We went to church at Holy Ghost. This is what I wore:

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This maybe should have been first on my list, but important things first. Cake. First. Always.

Here’s that dress from Walmart again. I do really like it. And a short sleeved sweater to cover the shoulders, which I bought several years ago at Target. and my black head scarf again. I do want to chat with Fr. Sal about the practice of women covering their heads and whether that’s a common thing in the Eastern church or not. I do like to do it, but no one else at Holy Ghost does. That doesn’t necessarily mean no Eastern Catholics do, but I’m not sure! Do any of my lovely readers know about the practice of women veiling in the Byzantine traditions?

I’m also wearing my pink shoes with the flowers on the toes, but you can’t really see them through the grass. I bought those at Target, too, which is apparently the only place I seem to buy new clothing…

Look, there’s Stephen in the background trying to run away.

 

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7 Quick Takes: June 1

Once again, I am doing the Friday Quick Takes link up with Conversion Diary on a Saturday. Because I am totally in control of my own life. Ha. Ha ha.

1. I didn’t do a blog post yesterday because we were really busy getting today’s garage sale together. We spent a large portion of the day rooting through the basement for boxes of shtuff, organizing said shtuff in the garage, setting up tables, drawing signs and figuring out prices, going to the bank to change $20’s for dollar bills and quarter rolls. Oh, wait, the bank doesn’t have rolls of quarters today? Well…uhh…I really kind of needed the quarters…fine just give me more ones. Grr.

2. At least our lack of quarters wasn’t a big deal, because we had a total of maybe twelve customers all day. We made $54 in profits. That includes the sale of a $20 sofa. What a bust. I think it was a combination of factors, not least of which is the more-or-less country location of my parent’s neighborhood. Another factor was probably that we didn’t put an ad in the local paper, relying instead on a Craigslist ad and street signs. Another factor was probably that we were trying to sell a ton of junk. But it wasn’t a wasted effort because that stuff needed to leave the house anyway. We were prepared to just donate it all to the Goodwill in the first place, so any money we make selling items really is a bonus. We are just thrilled someone bought that sofa. That in itself was totally worth all the effort we put into the garage sale project.

3. I’m still pregnant! This is a big deal for me because I’ve already been mentally and emotionally prepared to give birth on three separate occasions. Hopefully Agnes can hang on for another week or two. On the other hand, I had no idea how exhausting it would be for me to live like this, thinking I can be sent to labor and delivery at any moment. I almost want to just get it over with already; at least that we can be finished with the not-knowing-what-to-expect part and move on to the finding-out-answers-and-dealing-with-things part of raising a baby with medical problems.

4. Speaking of still being pregnant, I just have to share this even though I risk veering into the TMI department. Two nights ago I woke up at 1:20am like “Oh my gosh, Jeremy wake up. I think my water just broke.” I was not thrilled to say the least. So I grabbed some fresh p.j.’s and hobbled down the hall to the bathroom, and it turns out my only issue was related to that huge glass of water I drank right before going to bed, if you catch my meaning. I stood around and walked a bit just to make sure I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid after all, then I went back to bed. So on the one hand, super glad we didn’t have to book it to the hospital in the middle of the night again (like with Stephen’s birth). But on the other hand, embarrassed about reliving early childhood night time bladder problems. I know these things happen when you’re pregnant, especially when you already have an adorable tot to thank for even weaker bladder control. But. Still. Embarrassed.

5. I’ve been baking like a fiend again. I usually do this when I’m feeling stressed about life. I finally baked those peanut butter bars I posted about last week, I did chocolate gelato earlier this week, and I made scones for breakfast yesterday. Tonight still I’m going to bake a pound cake. I don’t necessarily see this habit of mine as a bad thing, but it does tend to fill up the kitchen with more bakery than I should really be eating. It’s a good thing I’m “eating for two” and that I live with my parents, and Jeremy, and a toddler whose fledgling vocabulary does include the remarkably well-pronounced “coo-kie” and “cake.”

6. I’m baking the pound cake for myself because tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 29. Both Jeremy and my mom have said, “Don’t you want someone to make something for you on your birthday? Why are you baking your own cake?” I am baking my own cake because then I can pick what flavor I want, and I know it will taste awesome. Because I bake a mean cake. My family can cook dinner for me or something on my birthday, but I want to do my own cake. It’s going to be Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake with a Lemon Syrup brushed on the cake to soak in. My birthday is going to be amazing.

7. Jeremy and I met with Fr. Sal about Agnes’ baptism, which I am really excited about. The Eastern Catholics do baptism, chrismation, and holy communion all at once for babies, so Agnes will be able to receive Eucharist at Divine Liturgy! The theology behind this practice is we know Eucharist is wonderful and good for people to have. We don’t want to withhold that goodness from children. It’s like a mother feeding her newborn; the newborn doesn’t have to understand how and why her mother is feeding her in order to benefit and grow and be nourished. It’s the same with us and the Eucharist. It is a holy mystery and even adults can’t fully understand the miracle. The Eastern Catholic tradition emphasizes a child’s first confession as the milestone sacrament, whereas the Latin Rite emphasizes first holy communion. It’s a difference, and one that I am excited about embracing. Since babies do receive all three sacraments in one shot, so to speak, there is the possibility we can get Stephen caught up as well! Fr. Sal is going to check for us what we would have to do or if Stephen can even go ahead and receive chrismation and start receiving communion. He’s right on the edge, though, and he might be old enough now that he would have to wait until “age of reason,” but I don’t know what the custom is for Eastern Catholic. I’m anxious to hear what Fr. Sal finds out!

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Stephen Meets His Brobee Cake

Here are the pictures I promised yesterday.

There is an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba where it’s Brobee’s birthday and all the other characters throw a surprise party for him. The “cool tricks” segment even features a chef who bakes a cake that looks like Brobee. It’s pretty much life-size because I guess monster puppet people eat a lot of cake. Anyway, at the party, the cake walks in [walks in!] and says, “Hi, I’m Brobee Cake. Do you want a piece of me?” It was hilarious and a little creepy and that is all that I could think about the entire time I was baking Stephen’s cake, decorating it, and each time I eat a slice. [“Do you want a piece of me?”]

"I think I know that guy."

“I think I know that guy.”

"It's Boy-ee." [Brobee]

“It’s Boy-ee.” [Brobee]

It's delicious. See what a dainty eater I am.

It’s delicious. See what a dainty eater I am.

 

 

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My Baby Boy

Today my baby boy turned two years old! Now we can officially stop counting his age in months. “Oh, how old is your little boy?” people would say. “Um, well…he’s…[counts in head] 22 months,” we would awkwardly respond. Or we would just say, “He’s almost two.” And now we can simply say he’s two. What a relief!

To celebrate his birthday, I baked a cake. We have been running non-stop getting ourselves settled, so in my exhaustion I only managed to put together a sheet cake from a box mix. I figure it’s good enough for a toddler. I did make the frosting from scratch though, because I wanted to do at least a little something special for my big boy’s second birthday. He really loves the Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba, and the character Brobee in particular. He even says “Brobee” [“boy-ee”] as one of his choice dozen words that he regularly uses. So I managed to decorate his birthday cake with Brobee:

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I used Stephen’s Brobee toy as a model. I whipped up the frosting and tinted some of it green with food coloring, then I bought a can of red frosting and some black writing gel. The last time I tried to tint frosting red at home, it just got pinker and pinker and never went toward red. So I cheated this time. I used dark green sugar sprinkles to make the stripes. Stephen liked the cake. He definitely recognized the picture and of course he tore into his piece with gusto. I did get pictures of Stephen with his cake, but the cable I need to upload pics from the camera is upstairs and I’m feeling way to lazy to go get it. I will post them soon, I promise. For presents, Stephen got a card full of money from Uncle David, which we took to the toy store and used to buy a fancy toy. I’ll post a picture of that soon, too. We haven’t unwrapped the new toy yet since Stephen needed to be thrown in the bath right away and giving him a new toy right before bath time ranks right up there with Really Bad Ideas.

Stephen is really enjoying hanging out in our new home. He gets to play with two kitties [“Ki-ki”] and Quinn the Dog [“Wouf-wouf”]. He gets to run around in the large yard and feel the grass tickle his ankles. He gets to sprint up and down the driveway and get boo-boos on his chin from tripping and falling. He gets to see Grandma and Grandpa every day and then be very heartbroken when they leave for work in the morning without him.

We are trying to establish a new routine. I do apologize for not keeping up my posting schedule, but it’s being hard enough for me to remember to take my medicine every day and make time in the morning for our family rosary, much less remember to write a blog post in the evening. We have been super productive around the house since the last time I posted, though:

We’ve nearly finished painting our room. All that’s left is the final coat on one of the window frames and the other half of the closet door.

We rehung the closet bar and brought our clothes dressers up to the room. We filled the closet with our clothes, so now we don’t have to live out of suitcases and wear the same outfit three times in one week! Woo-hoo!

We cleaned out Stephen’s room and assembled his crib. We assembled our bed. We laid out area rugs in both our bedrooms.

We unloaded two of our four U-boxes and started replacing the contents with items my parents have consented to sell at a yard sale. Jeremy and I hope to hold the sale Saturday May 18. Sorry, no antiques, just old stuff.

We are well on our way, working furiously. Hopefully after the next couple days we can slow down a little, because, man am I tired!

 

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Cake Research During National Bake Week

Yesterday was the kick off day for National Bake Week! In honor of that festive occasion, I started doing some research into what kind of cake I want to bake for my husband’s birthday next week. His only request is that the cake be sheathed in chocolate frosting. So many possibilities! Of course I could do chocolate cake, or yellow cake, but what about the less common choices like peanut butter cake, coffee-flavored cake, some sort of cake with fruit filling, pudding filling, different kinds of cake together in one cake, GAAAH! The possibilities are endless! How about you tell me your suggestions in the comments, and I can go from there!

As you may already know, I get a big kick out of National food days. Who even decides these things? There’s at least one commemoration for every day of the month. Here are the food days I plan to celebrate in April.

First Week of April: Bake Week

April 1: Sourdough Bread Day (we bought a loaf since I never started my sourdough culture again when we moved)

April 7: Coffee Cake Day (we just had coffee cake for Easter…but I must do another one!)

April 8: Empanada Day

April 10: Cinnamon Crescent Day (may be trumped by birthday cake)

April 12: Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

April 16: Eggs Benedict Day

April 18: Animal Crackers Birthday (woohoo! throw a party for the cracker!)

April 20: Lima Bean Respect Day (I hope we don’t have to actually eat a lima bean, just demonstrate respect…)

April 23: Cherry Cheesecake Day

April 28: Blueberry Pie Day

I really like the baking ones, apparently. I wasn’t too attracted to things like Day of the Mushroom (April 16) or National Prime Rib Day (April 27) but maybe you want to celebrate some different days from me! I hope I get to do those days at the end of the month. Our official move-out date is April 22, so we’ll have to celebrate Cherry Cheesecake and Blueberry Pie on the road!

100_1483Finally I want to share these cute Stephen pictures. He’s like a cat or something: when the window is open, he perches there and just hangs out, looking and sniffing the air or something. This morning they were actually sharing the perch. As you can imagine, that didn’t really last long enough to get a picture. Here Stephen has his sippy cup in the first photo, but it looks like he’s holding up some binoculars! Cute.100_1484

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