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

Red Curry Squash Curry
December 31, 2011, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Feasting, Husband

Benjamin had a sleepover at Daniel’s folks house last night so Daniel and I had a date night in and he cooked delicious Indian food and we drank some ice riesling, the kind of wine we had when he proposed. Liz and Sara requested the recipe for the curry and for poori so here ’tis.

Daniel’s Red Curry Squash Curry

1 red curry squash

2 cloves garlic

1 can coconut milk

2 carrots

green onion


½ lime

1 tbsp red curry paste

salt and pepper to taste


Chop red churry squash after seeding.  Chop carrots.

Fry diced garlic in oil with TBSP red curry paste. Mix together. Add coconut milk and mix. Add chopped vegetables, cook until veggies are done. Add lime juice, some cilantro, and green onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for one minute. Serve over rice or couscous or eat with poori.



1 and ½ cup whole wheat flour

1 and ½ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 TBSP shortening or butter

1 cup milk

Mix flour and salt. Mix in or cut in shortening or butter. Add milk and mix together.  Knead together on floured surface. Separate into 20 pieces and roll each into a thin 4 inch circle. Heat oil in sauce pan on high. Drop each rolled circle into the oil. Turn it over when it begins to puff up. Remove from oil to paper towel to drain, add salt on top.

The red curry squash curry was fantastic and we added mussels to make it extra yummy. The poori recipe was super easy but they didn’t puff up very well so I wasn’t crazy about it. Anyhow, Sara, it’ll do in a pinch.



Birthday and Settling on a Baby Name!
September 8, 2011, 8:24 am
Filed under: Books, Husband, Our Lady, Pregnancy

I’m awake at 4am with a little pregnancy insomnia, that pregnancy refluxy feeling, and after being awakened by what sounds like a crazy party at our backyard neighbors house (3:30 am…on a THURSDAY morning, people?!). But it’s my birthday! 26! AND I get to share it with Our Lady because September 8th is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.

Last night Daniel’s family completely spoiled me with an amazing dinner at Bella Bella followed by Au Peche Mignon’s White Forest Cake (same cake Daniel and I had as our wedding cake! so good!) and some amazing presents. Including…

Eek! The stunning cloth-bound Penguin Classics I’ve been wanting for almost two years. I’m in love…

My sweet husband says he’s going to build a special shelf to display them. Aren’t they gorgeous!?

I started Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford tonight which is already a treat. I’ve wanted to read something of hers ever since I saw the miniseries of Wives and Daughters over three years ago.

I had a good appointment with my second-favorite midwife yesterday morning (my favorite is still on maternity leave but should be back in time for Lucy’s arrival). Everything still looks good. I’ve been worried that Baby Girl is already dropping and might arrive too early, but my midwife assured me that it’s normal to feel more pelvic pressure the second time around and that she certainly hasn’t dropped yet. So maybe she’ll hang out until her due date afterall.

I think her arrival is feeling closer and more real for Daniel because all of a sudden he is tackling tons of baby projects. He rearranged all the furniture in our bedroom to make room for a bassinet and changing table. He made a BEAUTIFUL changing table out of a small old desk that was given to us. I’ll post pictures once it’s all set up in our room. It’s LOVELY. And now he’s sewing a stuffed animal (a bantha, he’s trying to introduce her to the world of Star Wars a little early) and making a baby hat for her. Isn’t he the best?!

And I think we’ve found a middle name we both love: Elanor. It’s been a frontrunner for a first name and we thought about saving it in case we get to have more girls but…who knows if we’ll have more girls? What if we have boys from here on out? And it’s really the first middle name idea that we both feel sure about. And there’s a saint Eleanor and my best friend in Waco is Eleanor. We’re doing a slightly different spelling and I’m not going to tell you why because you’ll immediately stop following this blog due to excessive nerdiness…

Well, I guess I have to tell you now, right? Elanor is Rosie Cotton and Samwise Gamgee’s daughter and the name of a flower in Middle-earth. Yes, we’re naming our child after a fictional character’s daughter. Deal with it.

So, Lucy Elanor Stewart. So she shall be.

Now back to bed…or…a late night/early morning slice of birthday cake?

My Happiest Memory
August 29, 2011, 7:29 am
Filed under: Children, Husband, Motherhood

 Last week at prenatal yoga, we did a pose for an extended period of time and our instructor asked us to think of our happiest memory. “What IS my happiest memory?” I thought. Nothing immediately jumped out at me. I considered the usual: wedding day, engagement, Benjamin’s birth, all days filled with joy, but none of them seemed as if they were hands down the happiest so I kept thinking.

Then a series of images filled my head…simple ones. I thought of Saturday mornings when Benjamin races into our room on his little toddler feet to snuggle in our bed, saying something adorable or singing a little song to himself. Moments when Daniel and I look at him and then look at each other, silently communicating….isn’t this wonderful?! I remembered the evening after we found out we were pregnant with Benjamin, lying next to each other in bed in quiet wonder at the miracle that life is…the gift that had been bestowed on us. I thought of an evening a couple of weeks ago when Daniel and I had a date night: we went to evening Mass, went out to dinner, then came home and prayed the Rosary together. Afterward I looked at him and told him how grateful I am that we are sharing this life of faith together and he held my hand and brought it to his lips. I felt so loved, so safe, so overjoyed to be at his side learning to love God together. Yesterday, Benjamin was playing with his crane truck, narrating his own little story as he manipulated blocks in the claw, pretending to drop them in a dump truck, his precious voice prattling on, interjected with “see me, mama!” “watch this!” as I sat cross-legged on the floor with him. Daniel held my hand as we relaxed in the afternoon light and our baby girl kicked and punched and rolled in my womb. Overwhelming gratitude and perfect contentment rushed over me and my eyes filled with tears: THIS! I thought. This is my happiest memory. My precious little family, our love, the gifts of God filling our home and hearts. Does it get better than this?

My Unplanned Pregnancy, Or Why We Stopped Using Birth Control—For Good
July 30, 2011, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Children, Husband, Pregnancy


Right now the result of our unplanned pregnancy is snoozing in his beloved “big boy bed.” As I check on him and watch his chest rise and fall, it hits me once again: here he is, the best gift of my life. My unplanned son and I spent the morning at the pool and I watched him shriek with joy as he went down the water slide, splashed in the water, and giggled after accidentally ducking his head under the water. “That was CRAZY!” he told me as his head popped up out of the pool. When I think that the joy he brings me, his very existence, would never have been mine to know if I hadn’t stopped taking birth control, I feel slightly ill. What if I had missed out on this? What if our plan to start a family after we achieved “financial stability,” “career goals,” “world travel” and had “figured out all the answers” had really come to pass? I thank God everyday for turning our plans upside down.

After two years of marriage, we were definitely in one of the “lows” rather than the “highs” of our relationship.  We were both full-time students (I was graduating, Daniel had a year and a half to go) so we obviously had nothing in the way of financial stability. We were in the midst of some major changes in worldview—particularly in our movement towards Catholicism. Should we convert? Should we wait? What do we think about the big issues? I still had vestiges of pink dye in my hair from when I dyed it tomato red and it quickly faded to Nymphadora Tonks pink. Daniel was wearing moccasins exclusively in those days. My main concerns (other than hearing back from job interviews for work to put Daniel through his last few semesters, yes, I was not COMPLETELY irresponsible) were throwing a really epic graduation party and going to see Radiohead in Dallas the following day. An objective observer would not have tagged us with a “ready for parenthood!” flag anytime soon. And parenthood certainly wasn’t on our radar AT ALL. We went on a 2nd anniversary trip to Disney and discussed having a baby in about…..four to five years. A couple of weeks later, and to our great surprise, we found out that during our future planning anniversary chats, a little soul was already growing in my womb: we were pregnant.

To explain just how NOT ON OUR RADAR this was, I was probably already 7 weeks pregnant before taking a pregnancy test.  Pregnancy hadn’t even crossed my mind and my housemate Courtney (girls in the same house notice these things) had to ask me….um…are you really really late this month? Eh, I shrugged. Thesis and Graduation pressure messing with my hormones! Besides, I can feel cramps coming on right now…not pregnant.

I was really, really late. And those cramps? Yeah, a little human embryo implanting itself in my womb. But I was oblivious. Courtney pointed out, “You’ve seemed a little tired lately…and a little hungry?” “What, just because I sleep all the time and ate breakfast twice today? Chill out!” But inside I was thinking…”hmmm, I have been feeling a little emotional…there was that time the other day when Daniel asked if I could run to the grocery store for something and I started crying hysterically and saying accusatorily: you know I HATE going to the grocery store. How can you even ask me to do that?” Courtney finally just put me in the car and drove me to the drugstore to get a pregnancy test.

After taking a pack of pregnancy tests (the two lines if you’re preganant, one line if you’re not kind) I was still unconvinced (even after making a friend be the control group and seeing that her results looked totally different from mine) and went back to the drugstore for a test that would blink “PREGNANT” or “NOT PREGNANT.” Until the moment I was waiting for the results, I did not want to be pregnant. I had just told Daniel a month before that I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet because I was still too selfish and enjoying being so. But as I waited, I suddenly WANTED to be pregnant, in fact, I’d never wanted anything so much in my whole life. My heart started to race and when the result blinked “PREGNANT” at me, I was filled with unexpected joy. I called Daniel who was at the grocery store (the poor man probably remembered the last time he asked me to go and went himself to avoid a similar uproar) and said…”I think I’m pregnant.”

His response was…”OK…I’ll come straight home.”

When he got home he said calmly, “I’m excited. We can grow carrots in the garden and mash them up for baby food. Maybe Reid can help me build a crib.” I’ve never been so glad of my husband’s cool and collected personality.

We had no idea exactly what we were going to do. I had just accepted a full-time position at Baylor University and Daniel had 3 semesters of full-time school to finish his BA. Who was going to watch this baby while I was at work? How were we going to pay for this baby? We don’t know the first thing about raising babies! These things crossed my mind. But mostly I felt an overwhelming peace and gratitude. I felt overcome with the knowledge that I didn’t even know I wanted this greatest of gifts and God had blessed us anyway. I knew I didn’t deserve the precious gift inside me and the grace of this blessing was so generous that I could almost not bear the thought.

How did we get ourselves into this predicament, you might ask? Six months previously, I had gone off The Pill, which I had been on for our first year and a half of marriage. Our reasoning for this change was two-fold. A primary motivation was that The Pill made me feel AWFUL. I was on a very low dose and it still gave me terrible nausea, unbearable headaches, and wretched mood swings. I was constantly emotional and overreacting. And why is it a good idea to put hormones in my body that I don’t need? But apart from the physical misery, as Daniel and I moved towards the Catholic Church we started to realize that artificial birth control didn’t fit into our mindset of marriage, sex, and family at all. So we decided I should stop taking it. It was one of the best decisions of our lives.

It wasn’t until after I stopped taking The Pill that I started to read about how it can have abortive effects. Due to the low levels of hormones in prescriptions such as the one I was on, it is possible for an egg to get fertilized. Due to The Pill, however, the fertilized egg will not be able to implant and the body expels it. Although I asked my doctor when she prescribed the Pill if it could be considered abortive in any way, she did not inform me of this possibility. This may have been because she did not know—it is not highly publicized. Knowing that this might have happened during the 18 months I was on the Pill grieves me. I’m not haunted or wracked with guilt, partly due to the fact that I was ignorant of this while we were using artificial birth control. But, I now look back on those 18 months with regret. I wish someone had told me there was a better way. I wish someone had told me that natural family planning was an option. I wish I had offered the gift of my fertility back to God, leaving him in control. Once we hesitantly moved in that direction, we were blessed with the best gift of our lives.

I have always liked to be in control (don’t we all?). The idea of giving up control of such a monumental thing is scary. Yet, I am learning over and over again that my plans and desires, if fulfilled, would lead to my ruin and that turning control over to God is an opening to God’s grace. God has been very good to us. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college (ok, the day after graduation) that we got pregnant. In some ways, perfect timing. And with baby #2, we were able to space our kids out by 2 and ½ years without me being on birth control. I know that next time the spacing might be smaller and our lives might get increasingly chaotic, but having to trust God has been for us so liberating.

Benjamin’s birth brought so many good things. He transformed Daniel and I and brought us closer together. We have become more like the people we were created to be. I shudder to think of the person I would be without the entrance of our son in our lives. I would not be half the woman I am.

And the joy he brings hasn’t been limited to us. Watching his grandparents enjoy him has been one of the greatest pleasures. When he was four or five months old, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The existence of her precious grandbaby gave her strength and motivation to complete the grueling journey of chemotherapy.

Unplanned pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me. In fact, of my closest 6 friends with babies, 5 were quite unexpected and all are desperately loved.  Now you’ll have to excuse me, my unplanned son has just woken up for some snuggles.

June 19, 2011, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Husband

Happy Father’s Day to the best daddy!


Benjamin and Baby Girl are lucky to have such a wonderful man as their papa. And Daniel and I are lucky to have wonderful fathers in our lives, too!

Calm Before the Storm
June 2, 2011, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Children, Husband, Pregnancy

We had the best anniversary weekend. Benjamin had a sleepover at Daniel’s parents house on Friday and we went to dinner at Cypress (where we went on a special date in high school) followed by a stroll at Oven Park. On Saturday morning we walked to morning Mass and then enjoyed breakfast at Uptown Cafe before it got too hot to enjoy being outside. After a nap, I got to go read at RedEye Coffee and finish two of the books I’ve been reading: Glittering Vices and 10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. We had a relaxing Sunday and on Memorial Day my sweet friend Elizabeth Joy gave me a great haircut, added some more red highlights, and shampooed, conditioned, blow dried, and straightened it for me. I felt so pampered! That afternoon/evening we had some friends over to grill out. Altogether lovely!

Here’s a pic Beca took of our sweet boy and me with my 21 week belly:

And here’s one of Benjamin jamming on Daniel’s delicious grilled corn with chimichurri sauce:

But I think I needed all of that relaxing and pampering to make it through this week! It’s theatre week for our Spring Ballet and I’ve been in Thomasville at the auditorium all afternoon and evening each day. I’ve been getting home a little after 10 each night which is already past my pregnancy bedtime. And it won’t ease up until Sunday after the last performance (we’ve got four performances). Whew! But last night was the dress rehearsal for one of my favorite classes of 7-year-olds and they looked so precious! Very rewarding. I was so proud of them and they were so proud of themselves. I’m gonna be breathing a sigh of relief after the Sunday matinee and then I’ve just got some teaching workshops and a week of morning dance camp before we go on our family vacation to the North Carolina mountains! Can’t wait for the mountain weather! It’s all of a sudden dreadfully hot.

Our Love Story: Part III
May 28, 2011, 11:19 am
Filed under: Husband

This is Part III. You can read Part I and Part II to catch up.

At the airport Daniel gave me a mix cd to listen to on the plane. It was beautiful. As I flew back to Texas I knew I would give him another chance but I needed a little bit of time and a little bit of convincing that I wouldn’t get my heart broken again.

We talked on the phone almost every day and Daniel sent me letters at least once a week. In late January, Daniel met me and a couple of my friends from college in New Orleans which is close to half-way between Waco and Tallahassee. I said we weren’t officially back together but…we did hold hands all over Jackson Square. And it was a frigid weekend so Daniel HAD to put his arm around me most of the time, just to keep me warm, right?

A few weeks later he drove to Waco to visit me during his college Spring Break. Before he left, he had lunch with my Dad. After getting to know Daniel for a couple of years, my parents adored him and were rooting for us to be together. Daniel explained that he wasn’t sure he was going to make the trip in two 8 hour days of driving or just drive the whole way in one long day. He knew my Dad was in his corner when he said, “Just drive all day and get there. That’s what I would have done to see Margo.” Daniel made the 15.5 hour trip in about 13 hours. I guess he really liked me.

I can remember my excitement as I waited all day for him to arrive and even exactly what I was wearing as I raced out of my dorm to meet him in the parking lot. He had driven to Texas to see me. I was convinced he was in it for the long haul. He told me later that when he told some folks at church that he was driving to Texas to visit a girl, they said, “Must be some girl!” It seems he agreed.

After my mid-terms were over, we drove back to Florida so I could spend my Spring Break there. Daniel told me that he planned to move to Waco in the Fall after he completed his Associate of Arts that Spring. If anything would have convinced me of his commitment to me, it was this. If he was willing to move to a small town in the middle of Texas away from all his family and friends where he didn’t know a soul except for me, he was serious.

When I moved back home for the summer, Daniel and his sister, Vanessa, were in Europe. When he returned, Daniel didn’t propose yet. But, he told me that he wanted to marry me and he didn’t want to wait until we finished school. He moved into a dark and dank tiny apartment down the road from my dorm and worked at a sandwich shop that whole next year. When we came home for Christmas, he told my Dad his intention to marry me and asked for his blessing.

I was pretty sure that he was going to propose during that Christmas break but I didn’t know when. We had plans to meet Daniel’s parents for dinner one rainy December night. Daniel picked me up from my parents house and we drove over to the Stewarts’ to meet up with them. When we arrived, no one was home and Daniel said they must have gone to pick up his Grandma and were on their way back. There was a fire in the fireplace which I should have realized was odd, but I wasn’t thinking about it. A few minutes later, our friend Tom walked in the front door with a blanket and said, “It’s a cold night! Y’all might need a nice blanket,” which he left us with and then walked out the door. A minute later, our friend Brian entered carrying two mugs of hot chocolate. Other friends and my brother arrived bearing my favorite foods, pomegranates, cinnamon covered pecans, and various other treats and would leave as soon as they delivered their cargo. Last, Daniel’s sister came in with a bottle of wine.

Daniel poured the wine and told me that it was ice wine he brought back from Europe the previous summer and that he had bought for this occasion. He gave me a white gold band asked me to be his wife. I don’t remember what words he used when he proposed, but I do remember how happy I was.

We were married the following May in Tallahassee, five years ago today.

During those five years we’ve had ups and downs. Good times and difficult, painful ones. By God’s grace we have made it this far. As we begin our sixth year of marriage, it is far better than we ever imagined. We are more in love than the day we made our vows. I simply can’t WAIT to see him when he gets home from work each day. He is my best and dearest friend. As I look around at our life together: our home, our garden, our faith, our son and our baby girl on the way, I look at my husband and say, “You have made me the happiest of women.” And he has.