Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

Our House, Part IV: The Library
October 29, 2010, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Books, Our Home

We’re book people and we need lots of shelf space for all our books.

We have only just now begun to use our third bedroom. When we moved in it became apparent that the resident of this bedroom had been a smoker and the room just reeked of cigarettes. We painted and cleaned but the smell was still overwhelming. My dad looked into the matter and painted everything with a special paint that completely seals in the smoke and nicotine. Special paint. That’s the technical term. He and Daniel painted the walls and ceiling and took apart all the built-ins to clean and paint them as well. So now the stench is pretty much completely gone and we started unpacking our books. When it’s completely finished, the room will serve as our library/study/office/movie room until the other bedrooms are overflowing with babies. At that point we plan to make the library our bedroom and turn the bedroom into a baby room.

Check out these built-ins! All the open shelves used to be covered with doors like a closet and painted the color of vomit. I think a wall of books is so pretty.

Here’s the view into the hallway. And yeah, we haven’t put the plate back on the light switch. Get over it.

Currently our only place to sit in the room is this rocker. Gonna try to remedy that soon so that we can have people over to watch movies and actually offer them a place to sit. Also note that the walls aren’t orangey like they appear in this picture. It’s just the lighting.

This side of the room obviously needs some work. We’re going to paint that bookshelf, probably white. I’d like to have a curtain or something to cover up the TV when we’re not using it. Maybe someday we’ll even go so far as to unpack our boxes of office stuff.

Daniel and my Dad put pretty touches on the edges of the shelves. Can you see it in this picture?

And just one more picture of those beautiful built-ins. Thank you Dad and Daniel for putting so much time into getting it livable!

The Burrow
October 29, 2010, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Green Living

My dream house looks something like this low impact woodland home.

Or The Burrow from Harry Potter shown here:

picture from Harry Potter Film Wizardry featured at Mugglenet


Potty Training?
October 27, 2010, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Children, Motherhood

Can some other mamas help me out with the next step of potty training? If potty training doesn’t interest you, don’t bother reading this.

So we’ve started potty training Little Bear, or rather, he’s decided he wants to start potty training. I was going to wait til he turned two, but he just really wants to use the potty. A couple weeks ago he started wanting to sit on the potty before bathtime and consistently would pee. Last week he started asking to sit on the potty more often and would go pee or poop. Today he’s been all about going number one and number two in the potty and hasn’t gone in his diaper once yet (it’s almost noon). I’ve been rewarding him with a butterscotch chip every time he goes which has got him super motivated and he wants to pee at least every hour. Was it a mistake to reward him with treats? How do I phase that out? And what’s the next step? Phase out diapers? And should I buy a little potty? I’ve just been setting him on the big potty but I feel like I need to supervise him every second so he doesn’t fall in. Is it worth it to buy a toddler seat? What are my options?

Farm Tour
October 26, 2010, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Children, Farm Life

Benjamin’s Uncle Garrett and I took him to the Farm Tour this weekend to see Orchard Pond Organics where we have our CSA share.

Look at how beautiful these chickens are! We eat their eggs so I’m glad to know that they’re such good looking creatures.

They have a pretty awesome chicken tractor, too.

There were some good lookin’ cows in this field (behind Garrett and Little Bear) but you can’t really see them in this picture.

And yes, that’s a chicken feather that Benjamin’s holding. Is it gross that I let him play with it?

And since the only reason you’re reading this is to see pictures of Little Bear, here’s a couple from our playdate at the park yesterday:

This is face he makes when I say "smile."

Eating by Season: Why I Like Having a CSA Share
October 25, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Books, Community, Farm Life, Green Living, Seasons

I’ve had a few people ask about the CSA we have a share in, so I thought I’d post about it with some background on eating seasonal foods. In the past couple of years I’ve gained great appreciation for the rhythms of the Christian Year and the way that by observing it, the story of the Gospel unfolds. One way to participate in the Christian Year is to feast and fast according to the traditions of the Church which, obviously, involves food. Sharing food with family and friends should ideally be a daily reminder of sacred things: The Last Supper, the Holy Eucharist, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (all connected, of course). If we consider the partaking of food not as a mundane event but as a sacred rite, then what we eat, where it came from, and who grew it becomes important. Something we are trying to add to the rhythm of our lives is the practice of eating seasonal food. It seems elementary to eat according to what’s in season but I for one was completely unaware of when foods were in season–they’re available at the grocery store all year round!

A few books have been really helped me understand some of these food issues.

Wendell Berry’s collection of agrarian essays: The Art of the Commonplace has been changing my life. Please read ASAP.

Barbara Kingsolver’s farm memoir: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful introduction to eating local and seasonal foods. I don’t agree with every little thing she says but it’s a delightful read and will make you want to plant a garden immediately.

I’ve also got some cookbooks that are divided by season that have helped me start to get the hang of seasonal foods.

One is Simply in Season, in the same line as More with Less. Not all the recipes are great (some are a little bit bland), but it’s still incredibly helpful for foundational ideas for cooking with seasonal fruits and veggies.

And I adore Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila Latourrette’s cookbooks which I think I’ve raved about before.

Our friend Marianna gave us Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and I ordered and love Sacred Feasts. I want to get From a Monastery Kitchen and some of his other books. I have never made a recipe from “the monk” as Little Bear calls him that didn’t turn out delicious. These cookbooks join the efforts of observing the Christian Year and eating according to seasonal rhythms because the author cooks frugally with the contents of a monastery garden for monks who are observing the Christian Year.

Having local seasonal foods available through our own vegetable garden and a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) also has really forced me to eat according to season.

Benjamin loves harvesting okra.

We’re still eating okra from our prolific plants in our front yard and our fall/winter garden of greens, leeks, herbs, carrots, etc, is coming in nicely. We divide a full share (enough veggies for four people) from Orchard Pond Organics with my parents and pick it up once a week. This is what our half looked like last week:

We got Spinach, Bok Choy, Bell Peppers, Butternut Squash, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Radishes, Cucumbers, fresh Basil and Eggs. I’m starting to lose hope that we’ll be able to eat it all before Wednesday when we get our next share. My plan is to try to use up everything but the butternut since they will last a good while.

My brother and I took Benjamin to the farm tour this weekend to see Orchard Pond. He loved seeing the chickens that lay our eggs. I took some pics with Garrett’s phone but I’m not sure if we got any good ones. I’ll post them later.

My Sweet Little Bear and Autumnal Fun
October 20, 2010, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Children

We took a trip to the Pumpkin Patch with my mom and her goddaughter, Maddy.

Benjamin was quite thrilled to be carted around by Maddy.

He picked out this knobbliest of pumpkins. I don’t know why it looks like he has dirt on his nose.

A few new things:

Bear has started sleeping later. (Praise the Lord!) For the first year he wouldn’t sleep later than 5:30 and for the past six months he’s been ready to start the day anytime between 5:45 and 6:30. But in the past couple of weeks we’ve had several mornings of 6:45, a couple of 7:00 mornings, and even a 8:00! It’s a whole new world. I think the change is partly due to his switch to one nap. He’s doing great with naps and will actually ask for his “rest and read time” because “Benjamin so sleepy” sometime between 11 and 1.

Beauty and the Beast has become his favorite movie. He likes to pretend he’s Gaston and flip through books saying, “no pictures! no pictures!”

He is practically potty training himself. He’ll ask to go in the potty a couple of times a day and if he’s successful, I’ll give him a treat. I don’t wait to pressure him because he’s still young to be potty trained so we’re taking it easy. Diapers may be disappearing in the near future, though.

He has also gotten really affectionate lately and says things that warms my heart. He gave me a big snuggle today and said, “Love Mama. Love Mama sooooo much.”

He is a giant. Seriously. He had his well-child check up today and is in the 75th percentile for weight and the 95th for height. What? Daniel and I are both shortish and smallish? How did I produce giant offspring?

I’ve been meaning to do a post about our fall/winter garden, our third bedroom that’s now a study, and our CSA. Things have been busy so there hasn’t been any real feasting since Michaelmas but we’re thinking about planning for All Saint’s Day on November 1st.

A Trip to the Country
October 11, 2010, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Tallahassee Places to Go/See/Eat | Tags:

Due partly to the beautiful weather that begs for fun excursions and partly to an undeniable craving for Bradley’s Sausage we took a trip up Centerville Road to Bradley’s Country Store on Saturday with Thomas and Kellie.

For those of you so unfortunate to have never experienced Bradley’s Country Store, please remedy this at once. It’s an old-timey general store about 20 minutes outside of Tallahassee. They’ve got all kinds of stuff, but their specialty is sausage.

This is Daniel, Kellie, and Thomas enjoying our treats on the front porch. Note the sign:

To make it a truly southern experience, we paired IBC Cream Soda with our sausage dogs and Kellie insisted on following it up with Moon Pies. We all decided that we draw the line at Moon Pies. Except for Kellie, she’s still all about Moon Pies.

Our porch sitting included discussions on politics and religion. We really made this authentic.

Do people who don’t grow up in Florida think that Spanish moss is pretty? Because I sure do.


October: The Rosary
October 11, 2010, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Books, Prayers, Rosary

Each month of the year has a special emphasis in the Church Calendar and October is dedicated to the Rosary.  Growing up Protestant, I was taught to be concerned by ‘rote’ prayers which lead to spiritual dryness and to instead use my own words in order to be more ‘authentic’ and ‘genuine.’ Yet, as I have been exposed to ancient prayers, I have found them not rote, but rhythmic, and not dry, but life-giving. I find great freedom in praying the words of the saints prayed by the faithful for centuries instead of making up my own words spontaneously. This is partly due to my lack of creativity when praying. If I depend on my own words, they usually are exactly the same as the last time, but they aren’t as rich or beautiful as more ancient prayers like the Rosary.

While praying each decade of the Rosary (a decade is an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and a Glory Be) you are to meditate on one of the Holy Mysteries, such as the Annunciation or the Visitation. Familiarity with the prayers allows you to move beyond the words you are praying to scenes in the life of Christ and of his Mother, Mary. It becomes like a stained-glass window illuminating a scene from the Gospel as you view it. The more I pray the Rosary, the more layers I see unfolding. It is a rich prayer that never grows dull.

An excellent introduction to the Rosary is by Karen Edmisten, also a Catholic convert, called The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary.  It discusses theological and devotional aspects as well as practical methods of incorporating the Rosary into busy modern life.

Being unfamiliar with the Hail Mary until a couple of years ago, I was unaware that the first three lines are actually Scripture (the Gospel of Luke). The last two lines are a request for prayer. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Hail Mary is that the name of Our Lord Jesus is at the very center of the prayer:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;

blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

Pope Benedict XVI has said of the Rosary:

Together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can “water” society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each “Hail Mary”.

I’m trying to make the Rosary part of our daily routine, particularly during this month of October, but am more often than not failing to make it happen. Whenever we do incorporate it into our day (usually evening when Daddy is home) it is centering and a rich blessing.

Benjamin calls it a “reereeree.” I’d like to start praying a decade with him everyday. Right now we pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be just before bed but I think he might be ready to lengthen that prayer time little by little.