Friday, March 27, 2015

sixteen months

dear sweetpea,

your vocabulary has exploded this month! it's so much fun (and a little bit scary) to find out how much you absorb. and you get so tickled by the fact that you can communicate with us. you're a woman on a mission to understand the world, pointing to objects and squealing "zat?! zat?!" ("what's that?"). sometimes you try to repeat their names, but often you just move on to the next item in your line of sight. 

you now say thank you ("day doo"), cuckoo ("tu-tu"), cookie ("goo-kee"), star ("stawww"), milk ("mee"), shoe ("soo"), and sock ("saw"). and you still love to talk on the phone. you mimic our facial expressions and inflections while you talk. and you've started shaking your finger and telling Kaiser "no, no, no!". can't imagine where you've seen that before...

you love finger-painting and playing with water. and you still love to color in your coloring books and your little spiralbound notebook. you bring home lots of art projects from daycare -- sponge painting, using stickers, gluing scraps of paper, even painting with toothbrushes for dental health week! 

your upper molars popped through this month, so you're able to eat almost everything we do. favourite snacks include string cheese, goldfish crackers, and sliced grapes. and you're still my banana queen. the only thing you repeatedly refuse is peanutbutter. i don't know if it's the taste or the texture (or maybe both), but you're just not a fan. 

you brighten our days with your excitement about life's little joys -- like the 99 cent balloons in the Giant Eagle checkout line, and kisses from your puppy, and the robins hopping around the backyard that you can see from your perch on the chair by the piano. you love to help by picking up crumbs off the floor and bringing them to me. and you can follow directions like "go get your book" or "find your seahorse". even though you're walking steadily by yourself now, you still love to push your new (and unused!) potty chair around the perimeter of the family room and down the hall way, shrieking with laughter the whole time. 

oh, baby girl, we love you with everything we have!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

St. Joseph - March 19

photo credit from Catholic Tradition

the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, Saint Joseph is also the Patron of the Universal Church. his feast day is celebrated by the Church as a Solemnity (an honor shared only by St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John the Baptist). and on a more personal note, my own husband, Nicholas Joseph, celebrates one of his name-days on March 19. 

The reasons why St. Joseph must be considered the special patron of the Church, and the Church in turn draws exceeding hope from his care and patronage, chiefly arise from his having been the husband of Mary and the presumed father of Jesus..., Joseph was in his day the lawful and natural guardian, head and defender of the Holy Family.... It is thus fitting and most worthy of Joseph's dignity that, in the same way that he once kept unceasing holy watch over the family of Nazareth, so now does he protect and defend with his heavenly patronage the Church of Christ. 
(from Quamquam Pluries - On Devotion to St. Joseph, by Pope Leo XIII)

i'm so grateful for Nick's unceasing dedication to our family. he's my best friend, our spiritual leader, and an involved father who delights in loving Greta. in lieu of the traditional St. Joseph's Day altar (a spread of pastries, breads, and cakes), we celebrated with one of Nick's favourite dishes: spaghetti carbonara.

Spaghetti Carbonara
serves 4

8 oz spaghetti
8 slices bacon
2/3 c. chopped green onion
4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
6 oz (1 1/2 c.) finely shredded cheddar cheese
Pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove from pan and coarsely crumble, reserving 3 TSBP drippings in skillet.
2. Saute green onions and mushrooms in drippings in skillet over medium heat - 2 minutes. Drain pasta. Place in serving bowl. Immediately stir egg yolks into hot pasta. Stir in remaining ingredients and toss before serving. 

photo credit from Catholic Culture

Collect for the Day:

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph's intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick - March 17

we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a potluck brunch for our church moms group. we had a great time visiting together, and the kids played for a few hours while we talked. most of our kids are toddler-age, so maybe next year we'll attempt some crafts or themed activities! we kept it simple this time with green decorations and beaded necklaces. and we feasted on corned beef hash, sausage breakfast strata, green blueberry muffins, fruit salad, Irish soda bread muffins, maple bacon pancake bites, and shamrock cookies! 

Irish Soda Bread Muffins - recipe from Taste of Home

Sausage Breakfast Casserole - recipe from Cooking on the Side

Deluxe Corned Beef Hash - recipe from All

Collect for the Day:
O God, who chose the Bishop Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the peoples of Ireland, grant, through his merits and intercession, that those who glory in the name of Christian may never cease to proclaim your wondrous deeds to all. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Patrick, pray for us!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

St. Katharine Drexel - March 3

i wasn't actually named for St. Katharine Drexel, so it may be going out on a limb to claim her feastday as a nameday. but nameday or not, March 3 gave us a great opportunity to remember this devoted American saint, who faithfully used her wealth, skills, and personal connections to serve others. born in 1858 into one of Philadelphia's most affluent families, she took a special interest in Native Americans. her life was profoundly changed in 1887 when she met Pope Leo XIII and suggested that he send more missionaries to minister to the Native American tribes. he replied by challenging her to take up missionary work herself. 

photo credit New York Public Library

she took his words to heart, and joined the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh (who founded the hospital where i work today!). a few years after taking her vows, she formed a new religious order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. the Sisters founded dozens of schools and mission centers, focusing on providing services to Native American and African American children. in 1915, she founded a secondary school for African Americans in Louisiana, which would later become Xavier University. throughout her life, she was mentored by Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, who incidentally is the saint i chose to focus on this year. 

after retiring at age 77, St. Katharine Drexel devoted her time and energy to prayer and religious writing. she died on March 3, 1955, at the age of 96. 

Image of St. Katharine Drexel
photo credit Catholic Online

Collect for the Day: 
God of love, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Native American and African American peoples; by her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and the oppressed, and keep us undivided in love in the Eucharistic community of your Church. Through our Lord jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. 

[biographical information from Catholic Culture and]

we celebrated with a modern-day Native American feast: sausage & spinach-stuffed acorn squash, Grands buttermilk biscuits (because i'm classy), and blueberry cobbler. i made the cobbler for the first time from a recipe in Taste of Home's Every Slow Cooker and One Dish Recipes 2010 cookbook, and it's a keeper! the original recipe suggests making it in a 1 1/2 quart slow cooker. i used my 5 quart slow cooker and adjusted the amount of butter, and it turned out just fine. 

Blueberry Cobbler

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Makes: 6 servings

1 - 21 oz can blueberry pie filling
1 - 9 oz package yellow cake mix
1/4 c. chopped pecans (optional - I left them out)
1/4 c. butter, melted (or 1/2 c. if using a larger slow cooker)
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving

Place pie filling in greased slow cooker. Sprinkle with cake mix and pecans if desired. Drizzle with butter. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. 

St. Katharine Drexel, pray for us!