Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Whole New Year for Grace

Today is the start of Advent, the Christian new year. It is St. Andrew's feast day (join me for the novena! starts today!), and it is Grace Harriet's one year anniversary of her baptism!


Grace was baptized at Our Lord Christ the King Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio - the parish I received three of my four sacraments. She was baptized by our parish priest, who married Will and I just shy of a year earlier.

The quest of Christian parents is to raise their children in the faith- but what did that mean for us? Will and I have explored different avenues, especially where a baby - who is definitely not at the age of reason - is concerned. We want her to be exposed to the Christian life and community, so that she may come to know Christ personally and see him in all around her when she is old enough to comprehend and be able to accept Catholicism with reason.

Tonight, we are going to light her baptismal candle and say the following with/for her:
V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do. 
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do. 
V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
R. Amen. 
We guide Grace to teach her about God, so that she may see truth through example and learning. Her father and I are still on our own spiritual journeys - and with Grace, we are given further incentive to seek goodness and God.

Happy new year in Christ, little daughter. May God continue to pour his blessings and mercy upon you!

Do you celebrate baptisms in your family? Or did you celebrate growing up? This is a new tradition we are starting in our family, and I am excited to see how the children like it as well in the years to come!




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Family and Food Link-Up: November Edition



Last year, we were living in New Orleans. I had the task of feeding our family while taking care of a new baby and satisfying two sets of taste buds. I often found myself trying new recipes to stretch our food budget. I like to try new recipes while Will often prefer the tried-and-true recipes.

It's not that my husband is a picky eater as much as he is a particular eater; and I knew I made a bad dish when he would only eat a small helping and declare himself full. Please. You are a human garbage disposal for carbs and chicken.

I discovered skillet meals in November of 2013 - how delightful! Throw in food; it cooks. Stir in more food. Leave it to simmer. A few more ingredients and a few more minutes later, and within 30 minutes, a warm and filling meal that would last us many days. {Fortunately, we both like leftovers!}

This is a personal favorite of us Baldwins - Skillet Chili Mac

Ingredients:
  • 1 T safflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz/ 2 cups+ dry small pasta
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2+ cups sharp cheddar shredded cheese
Tools:
  • 12" skillet pan
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Can opener
  • Measuring cup + spoons
  • Wooden spatula
  • Serving spoon
Directions:

1. Oil in pan; skillet on stove (medium-high heat to start)
2. Cut up onions. Try not to cry.
3. Cry. Onions are the worst. Mince garlic, if you can even see what you are doing. {Don't mince garlic and cry. You might cut your finger, like someone I know.} Or open up that jar of minced garlic!
4. Mm, saute away, onions. Add in ground beef. Break it up as it cooks. Stir in chili powder and salt.
5. Once cooked, drain any excess fat/ grease.
6. Back to the pan! Stir in garlic and brown sugar until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
7. Now, the real skill: opening cans. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water and small pasta (I like shells)... I often put in more pasta than 2 cups - adjust your water, if need be. Just know what your pan can handle!
8. Cover and cook, stirring often at a steady simmer (12-15 minutes).
9. Stir in rinsed beans (if canned), frozen corn, 1 cup of cheese; you can also add in 3T of flour if the sauce needs to thicken.
10. Turn off heat - sprinkle 1+ cup of cheese on top and replace lid (2-4 minutes).

This meal re-heats well, and is a very happy meal! Enjoy with avocado slices and your favorite green vegetable (we like green beans with this dish - aesthetically, and taste-wise!).




Bon appetit!

Back from Iraq: Religious Persecution in the War Zone - Jillian Kay Melchior Speaks

Jillian and I went to college together; we took writing classes together in the journalism program. She is a year ahead of me, and we continue to be on friendly terms. I love hearing her updates and am excited to share this speech her gave at our alma mater about her work in Iraq.

(She went to China for a year too - such an amazing journalist!).


Follow her on Twitter!

Monday, November 17, 2014

St. Elizabeth of Hungary and Me

Happy feast day to my patron saint, whose name I took at Confirmation - St. Elizabeth of Hungary!


'St. Elizabeth of Hungary Spinning for the Poor' (1895) by Marianne Stokes

I wrote on her choosing me - "Saint of Hungary and the Homeless" - may she continue to intercede in my life!

Do you have a patron saint? How did he or she choose you?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Wrote and The Writ

"The Wrote and The Writ" by Johnny Flynn

They're taking pictures of the man from God
I hope his cassock's clean
The burden of being our holy fellas
Your halo'd better gleam, better gleam

What of all those wayward priests?
The ones who like to drink
Do you suppose they'd swap their blood for wine
Like you swapped yours for ink, for ink

You wrote me, oh so many letters
And all of them seemed true
Promises look good on paper
Especially from you, from you

The weight of all those willing words
I carried all alone
You wouldn't put your pen to bed
When we hadn't found our own, our own

Your sentences rose high at night
And circled round my head
The circle's since been broken
Like the priest before me is breaking bread

I'm being asked to drink the blood of Christ
And soon I'll eat his flesh
I'm alone again before the altar
Shedding all my old regrets

The last of which I'll tell you now
As it flies down the sink
I never knew a part of you
You didn't set in ink, in ink

The letters that you left behind
No longer shall I read
Your blood's between the pages
And I can't stand to see you bleed

And I'll soon forget what was never there
Your words are ash and dust
All that's left is the song I've sung
The breath I've taken and the one I must

If you're born with a love for the wrote and the writ
People of letters your warning stands clear
Pay heed to your heart and not to your wit
Don't say in a letter what you can't in my ear



{{Music as poetry}}


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#5Faves: Snack Attacks

I am a snacker. I am all about the mini-meals! If I don't eat every few hours, my low blood sugar kicks in, and either I become Sleeping Beauty or the Monster from the Black Lagoon. So what are my five go-to snacks? Glad you asked.

{one}
 For protein, I love apple slices, a colby jack cheese stick and Almond Nut-Thins (Hint of Sea Salt).


If you're looking for a new apple to try, I bought SnapDragon apples this week - new from New York, recently "bred" at Cornell University! Wonderful crunch, sweet and firm texture. Related to the Honeycrisp (delicious), and quite a worthy cousin.

{two}
For salty + sweet, I love a toasted english muffin topped with peanut butter, with a side of banana or apple slices.

{three}
For sweet, Chobaini greek yogurt - easy add ons include fruit (if not already on bottom), flax seeds, chia seeds. If you're extra decadent, I like a handful of Raisinets on the side too. The greek yogurt has protein in it too! {Plain greek yogurt is one of the few foods I can stomach during bad nausea.}



{four}
For a crunch, carrot sticks, celery sticks and hummus. Popcorn is a fun crunch too!

Source


{five}
For texture, cut up tomatoes with mini (fresh!) mozzarella balls. Olive oil + vinegar optional; sometimes, I add avocado slices as well for more color.

Source

What do you like to eat? Are you a snacker or do you only eat three squares a day?

Linking up with Jenna @ Call Her Happy!


Monday, November 10, 2014

I Am What I Repeatedly Do: Why I Blog

I don't remember reading about this ring in Purgatory, but reading students' papers must be penance for all the bad papers I've written in my life.

I remember, freshman year, I wrote a bad paper. More accurately, a poorly edited paper. Ug, to think of it now! I just ran out of time! Time management has never been my strong suit. My professor asked me to stop by his office and told me that he's read my other papers, and he's read my articles in the school papers I wrote for - and I can do better. I have a way with words, and this paper was not up to par with my abilities.

Ouch, is all I remember. Oh, the shame. The shame. I needed that dose of reality. Hillsdale College gave me repeated doses of reality, all four years, and I became a better student because of them.

Now, I'm teaching writing to those young students of history. I'm teaching them the five paragraph format, thesis, body, analysis, and an original conclusion. It's made me think a lot about writing and my own journey.

The essay is, arguably, my favorite type of writing. It is also one of the hardest, due to its style and length. Which brings me to blogging.

I'll never understand all the existential crises I've had in regards to my blog. The WHY DO I BLOG misgivings and continuing the write here years after the willy-nilly start of this blog during college: the pull is still strong. I wrote through a Washington, D.C. internship, senior year of college, my first three jobs, friendships, and my entire relationship with my husband.

Sometimes, my blogging is about what I omit too - I've never wrote about the depth of my spiritual battles in college, heartaches again and again, the loneliness and hurt that cut deeper when you live in a snow globe, or dyslexia suspicions. But writing my blog - writing about my small victories, what I'm reading, what I'm trying, and what I love - gives me courage to write more publicly about the harder subjects, the ones I keep much closer to my shy heart.

When I was in college, I wrote letters to a few friends regularly. Most didn't reply back often in letter (gchat or a a text confirmed they were appreciated and read), but forging our friendship deeper helped me open up myself as an acceptable voice worth listening to. I loved writing letters in college, and today, as I struggle to finish Grace's birthday Thank You notes still, this blog is my new way of writing letters to friends I know are still reading.

I do write letters - I'm still pen-pals with a former professor of mine, a high school friend of mine, and a few college friends, including a sister-in-formation. I love the postcards that arrive in the mail now from travels; the baby announcements; and soon, the Christmas cards. For now, however, the blog reigns as my short essay; a kind of memoir, maybe, and a place where I can always publish, and even when I don't - where I can always write and don't have to worry about finding a stamp.

writing/ studying on the drive up to Michigan with our family pup
I never grappled with the term "writer" - I am one, ever since I was in the third grade and decided what I wanted to be while writing about Leprechauns. I do grapple with the word "blogger" though because, eh, it seems so informal. It brings out my worst fear that I am "wasting my talents" {unquote} and that what I write is unimportant... which brings me to you, dear readers: thanks for all the feedback.

Your feedback really brings out my Winston Churchill side to never, never, never, never give up writing. Some days, I'm too anxious to post -- what am I writing about?! For all the struggles and woe writing can bring, it is words that soothe the mind and warm the heart. Blogging gives that to me, and it gives back to those who needed to hear those words - it is too often to be a coincidence that I write substance people need to hear. This blog has the Holy Spirit racing through, and I feel it. My blog is beginning to feel like a mission, a purposeful outlet.

Then again, this is exactly what I try to capture in writing my blog - the extraordinary of the ordinary. The blog is such a normal medium, and my life isn't so special - except that it's mine. And as the leading lady of my own life, I have that responsibility to enjoy it.

And that is why I blog: I enjoy it. I don't blog for the numbers; I blog for the community that has grown around me and The Corner with a View. I don't always blog my best work; my best work comes out because of the writing I publish on this blog. I blog for the love of it, and that is really the only way to pursue passions. People are attracted to the genuine, to the beautiful and to love, and that is what I hope to give to my readers here.


Do you blog? Or why do you read blogs? What are your Aristotelian pursuits of the day?



Happy Monday! Thanks for reading, as my younger set like to write upon the conclusion of their essays... {We're working on that!}

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

My View (vol. 26)

What I am reading: all essays, all the time. It's the end of quarter and I am swamped. Hence my brevity during this post.


Does anyone here teach younger students and know of books/ resources to help with their essay writing journey?

What I am eating: scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese; pb&jam + apples

Meal planning: My big meal of the week chili - I went grocery shopping after lunch, and I'll start cooking it tomorrow morning (but start soaking the beans tonight). The recipe is from Chow; I am not including the green chiles or jalapeƱos. It looks meaty and delicious, and I bought cheddar cheese and sour cream. Fingers crossed that Grace likes too!



Otherwise, baked chicken, tilapia, rice cooked in stock, steamed broccoli reigns here - and chili on noodles, potatoes and with corn bread muffins! All to keep us warm and full in this "it's going to get worse" weather. We're adding hot chocolate mix to our coffee too, and it is a happy time.

{linking with Nell for more ideas - though pregnancy and budget keeps it basic}

This week in history: I am very pleased to announce that not only has Grace completed her two short term goals for PT in three months, but she has exceeded expectations on two of her long term goals and partially met her third goal! Here's to new goals and another three months of learning, growing and victory!

She also now crawls on all surfaces...

Boring week for the parents: Dad is learning ultrasound, Mom is teaching/ prepping/ grading. Buuuut after a super nausea-filled start to the week, I'm feeling much-much better, thanks. I had my 24 (?!?) week appointment on Monday and it went very well. Bebe Deux continues to be a rock star growing machine.

Prayers: Will's family dog Abby passed away this week, quite suddenly. She was such a loving dog, always full of fun. She loved being outside. Last Christmas, she was quite confused by Grace being given toys that look like dog toys. Please pray for all who grieve her passing!

Abby and Will (July 2011) - my first fishing trip with the Baldwins

One of my favorite Abby stories happened one weekend I was visiting the Baldwins when we were dating. Will was trying to study for his Step 1 exam and Abby would just not stop making noise. I decided to take her on a walk while Will studied, and it was a very nice walk until I let my guard down. The Baldwins usually let Abby off her leash near home {they live in a more secluded neighborhood}, so I decided to do the same. Instead of running up the hill to the house, she ran down the hill towards the lake. I yelled "Abby, come!!!" repeatedly, and when she reached the lake, she stopped, looked right at me, and jumped in.



Needless to say, I wrestled her upstairs for a bath after that, and with Will's help. I'm not sure I took her walking alone after that!

For all private intentions.

Next week I am going to: get busy. I can't even type everything out here, it would only depress my spirits! Anyone else feel that way? I am trying to do "15 minute challenges" to get things done; it helps break up the monotony of my forever-list.

Stay warm! Wearing my thick socks everywhere. 

Grace's new winter coat!

Happy Sunday! May your week be blessed and bright.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#5Faves: Mystery Shows

My favorite shows are mysteries - when in doubt, I love these shows. I've watched them all on Netflix at some period of time, and just as Netflix giveth, Netflix taketh away. We've given up Netflix for a while, but when we get it back (postpartum), I am hoping to have a few of these to watch!

{one}
Rosemary and Thyme


A plant pathologist and a former constable team up as landscapers, friends, and crime solvers! If you love gardening, the English, and the chance for murder to be solved via natural clues... this show is for you. Simply delightful!

{two}
Poirot


David Suchet plays Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's Belgium detective, to perfection. Add in the BBC budget, his friend/ sidekick Arthur Hastings, and a murder (or two!), and watch the brilliant intellect (I mean, little gray cells...) at work.

{three}
Monk


Years after his wife was murdered, the already OCD/ neurotic detective Adrian Monk is brought back to the San Francisco detective force as a consultant, accompanied by his assistant(s). Clever, witty, and extremely well-done.

This is one of our favorite episodes:



{four}
Psych

My roomie-bestie Heather and I watched this together during college, and we never tire of the one-liners, nicknames, pineapple sightings, failures and triumphs of the best-best friends every written for screen, Shawn and Gus. Shawn is the master observer-detective who convinced the Santa Barbara police department that he is psychic to avoid jail time, and lands himself a job. Gus is his best friend and partner (not sidekick), who is also a pharmaceutical salesman. The show is fun on the surface, and dives deeper with each season. Pair them with a solid co-cast, and you've got yourself a crime show!


{five}
Bones
(no longer the correct viewing time, fyi)

An anthropologist and an FBI agent solve crimes through high intellect, extreme logic and a lot of action. I'm not sure if this show counts as a mystery, actually... but I love the philosophical debates between the two main characters (a highly intelligent, rationalist atheist and a passionate not-as-well-versed Catholic), and their drive to find out the truth of what happened to their victims when all they usually have to go on are their bones. {still in seasons!}

And a shout-out to Castle!

Thank you Jenna @ Call Her Happy for hosting!! Back to reading Richard Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition before class...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My View (vol. 25)

What I am reading: a lot of essays by students (end of quarter approaches!!); Sharing the Faith with Your Child (from birth to age six): A Handbook for Catholic Parents by Phyllis Chandler with Joan Burney
Last Sunday... just the Baldwin babes!

What I am eating: Boosken cookies my mama sent me. The taste of home is so sweet!


Meal Planning: Last week was mostly chicken and sweet potatoes/spaghetti and meatballs/ sides of  steamed green beans and broccoli/ eating fruit + cool whip for dessert. Grace enjoyed her first mandarin orange last night! She definitely preferred the cool whip. (And the Busken cookies that arrived yesterday!)

But this week!!! I am fixing lentil soup (plus ham for Will) of dinner tonight and tomorrow. We'll have spaghetti and meatballs again because Grace will eat meatballs (yay! more solids!), lots of tilapia, cornbread muffins, rice and/or potatoes, and I'll more than likely buy chicken drumsticks for Will. Vegetables too!

Breakfast usually looks like a scrambled egg with cheddar cheese and an english muffin or a bowl of cereal if it is an early therapy morning, plus milk and coffee. Grace always eats oatmeal, yogurt, milk and almost-always a scrambled egg + cheese. Lunch is a smorgasbord of leftovers, yogurt, and lately, pb&jam. Gracie is still into Earth's Best baby food, a colby jack cheese stick, a few slices of my daily apple and milk.

Not totally convinced over the meatball...
{This just in! I read Nell at Whole Parenting, and she is doing a link-up for meal planning! In case any of you need more recipes... because around here, y'all I'm all about the bass- the bass- the basics. My family recipes include: Put rice and water in rice cooker; press "on". Put chicken on tray; bake for 45 min-1 hour at 375 degrees. Cut up broccoli and put into bowl + 2-3 Tb of water - place plate on top and microwave for 3-4 minutes ... yeah: boss.}

A lot of grading to complete this week (my 6-8 graders are turning in their War of 1812 essays on Monday, just in time for me to finish grading their Bill of Rights essay); simple meals, simply delicious!

This week in history: We had visitors!

Trista and Bryan stopped by after a wedding for lunch! Such good conversation - AND they are moving closer to us in the next few months!! {Under 2 hours counts, right??}

Julie, Trista, Bryan
Trista has one of the most beautiful hearts! So blessed in her friendship

My wonderful college friend Tom, his wife Nicole and their sweet daughters stopped by one afternoon on their way home from New York!

The girls were not into more pictures, but we loved it!

My MIL and SIL Ellen were here of course, which was beyond delightful.

Snuggles!
Ellen and I got to consignment shop, and my MIL helped take me care of everything - from putting plastic on the windows to help keep the chill out of our rental, getting rid of meal moths who came to stay last week, taking care of poor Will (who got sick, again - fortunately just for the weekend!) - and still creaming us all in Hearts. Ellen also finished painting Grace's dresser! Isn't just divine?!



Will finished out his last week of OB/GYN on night shift and delivering a couple more babies. I continue to prep for class, nap when Grace naps, grade, try to write, teach presidents three through seven (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, Jackson) and keeping the house clean-er. Failed on finishing thank you notes but... I napped and had minimal nausea (taking more medicine these days).

Grace started drawing/ coloring too!



My favorite day of the week was Halloween - Will woke up after his night shift, we dressed Grace up like a pumpkin, ordered pizza, watched Harry Potter (cleaned the house, la la la), and enjoyed spending more than 45 minutes a day with each other!


Getting ready to watch Harry Potter!

Daddy snuggles are the best
Prayers:  My parents flew to Italy yesterday! Prayers for their safe travels over the next two weeks. Prayers for the lonely and broken-hearted; prayers for the financially stressed; prayers for the faith seekers; prayers for the persecuted.

Special prayers for a few pieces I am writing, specifically on children with special needs. It's easy to say, "Grace is going to do great!" (and I firmly believe that- every day, she just wows us with her awesomeness!), but the attitude towards any type of disability is just so disheartening for me.

Especially being pregnant again and now being a high-risk pregnancy because my first pregnancy included a stroke - it is just a different world, and if you ever wanted to really freak a non-educated mom out about her fetus, talk to her as a high-risk patient. My frustration level brings me to tears some days, and as much as I love feeling my baby move inside me, I dread going to the OB office more and more. I have no health problems, I exercise, I eat well, I sleep, I drink water, I take my prenatal vitamins every day and I feel completely patronized every time I go into the office. I am not sure what to do; I've already talked to the office manager.

Next week I am going to: Get my grading done. Not miss my OB appointment. Take an actual belly bump picture!

I hope you're all having a good weekend! I see it is snowing back home... just rainy and cold here! Entertaining ourselves, nonetheless...

Oh, just playing with Dad's phone instead my toys...
Happy Saturday! Happy All Saints' Day today, and All Souls' Day tomorrow! We're going to the cemetery once it warms up to pray for the deceased.