Today is my one year blog-iversary! I started this blog one year ago today, with this post about Siena’s six month birthday. I’ve really enjoyed looking back at old posts, and hope to keep my good momentum going that I’ve had since taking a break. I also plan to figure out the other features of a blog, such as those tabs on the left that currently don’t take you anywhere! I want one tab to include a bunch of links to videos of our little one, and one to be galleries of photos.

new_mother_750Since today marks 18 months since Siena was born, please click here to read the post HawkInWinter wrote about the day she was born and here to read a letter I wrote her when she was one week old. Both include thumbnail pictures you can click to see bigger, with captions.

Then come back here in the next few days to see pictures from her first birthday!

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Nature’s Greatest Gift


The image above is appearing on city busses in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and LA. Click here to see a short video of the reaction people have to these Earth Day bus ads in Chicago.

The rest of my post is copied from here. Go ahead and click on over and see the comments people are leaving in response, if you’re so moved. I found them interesting.

Celebrate Nature’s Greatest Gift: Life!
by Joshua Mercer

CHICAGO – says it’s time to use Earth Day to celebrate nature’s greatest gift – human life.

With bus ads starting today in Chicago and next week in San Francisco and Seattle, is encouraging Americans to rethink how they celebrate Earth Day, and how we to go about building a culture that respects the environment.

“Our goal is to use Earth Day to get Americans to think more deeply about what it means to truly respect the Earth and creation. Prevailing environmental attitudes too often view humans as the enemy of nature. We believe the human person is God’s greatest creation, and the Earth’s greatest resource. Building up a culture of life is the single most important way to build a culture that respects the environment,” said Brian Burch, President of Education Fund.

“The members of wanted to bring this balanced Catholic view of the environment to the streets,” said Burch, “and that’s why we’ve advertising on over 50 buses in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.”

“Respect for the God’s creation has a long history in Catholic teaching, long before it became popular with our secular culture,” said Burch.

Pope Benedict XVI has been very vocal in support of proper stewardship of the natural resources that all people share together. Newsweek even dubbed him “the green pope.”

Earlier this year, in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict said: “If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn?”

The Pope has repeatedly emphasized that respect for the environment must be tied to a larger framework that understands that nature includes a plan of love and truth that comes from God. And the heart of God’s plan for creation is the human person.

In his recent encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves.”

The bus ads, which can be downloaded at, will run for four weeks. This April 22nd will mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Education Fund is a project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

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Catherine Creek

HawkInWinter has some great pictures up from our short hike on Sunday. Click here to go see! Once you get to his blog, click his first image to make it bigger, read the caption, and scroll through the rest by clicking Next.


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Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

As for me, I did NOT find a (very clean) unopened ketchup packet while unloading the dishwasher.

I did NOT make a mistake while dialing a business number, and end up calling a very naughty number instead. I did not hang up at lightning speed and sit there blushing like crazy in a room all by myself.

I did NOT scandalize my sister by giving my child – not one – but *two* suckers during her haircut to try and get her to stay in the cute airplane chair long enough for the trim and for pictures. The suckers did not get hairy. (They were probably on the counter to be used as rewards AFTER the haircut, for that very reason?)

I did NOT clean solid drips of yogurt off the outside of the toilet while getting ready for company. I don’t even know what else to say about that.

I have NOT had a melted shot glass on my counter ever since this incident, just waiting to be photographed before moving to the trash, so I could update the above post. I did NOT give my husband a “photography assignment” when he had the good camera out from our hike yesterday. If I had, that would explain why he chose to include the flower bauble to “make it more artistic” for me. But none of that happened, so nevermind.

So how about it, what hasn’t happened in your household? It’s really not fair if only some of us get to benefit from this method of therapy you know. It’s easy to add a comment and get it off your chest! Who’s first?

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Cute Baby


My mom clipped and brought this comic strip with her when she visited our house last. I have it up on our fridge because it is SO Siena!

We get comments every time we take her out in public, because she charms peoples’ socks off. She cheerfully says, “Hi!” to just about everybody she encounters, and if people don’t notice her right away she really turns up the charm until they have no choice but to acknowledge her. We’ve had lots of strangers tell us about their grandbabies, or how Siena compares to their memory of their children at her age.

We’ve even had a lady happily hand over her package of soup crackers at a cafe, when Siena was eyeing them and saying “Mmmm!” (We drew the line when she was hinting that she’d love the lady’s roll, as well, even though the lady was happy to offer that, too.)

She has no problem gaining the adoration of women and the shy grins of children, but men seem to be her biggest challenge…and biggest prizes. She’s flirted with truckers, men sleeping on benches, apathetic teenagers, bookworms trying to read in peace…and with enough coy persistence she’s befriended them all.

We’re a bit worried what this all will look like in 15 years, but for now it’s cute and sweet that she’s so gregarious and trusting. Her world is full of friends and admirers she hasn’t met yet, and she just knows they’ll all love her once they’ve met her. And so far, she seems to be right. We don’t know where her extroversion comes from, but surely her cuteness comes from within.

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Not Me! Monday

I haven’t posted a Not Me! Monday in a while, so the confessions have been building up. This blog carnival was started by MckMama over at My Charming Kids. You can click here to go check her out.

As for me, do you remember the whipped cream from my key lime pie? I used some on our first strawberries of the season, then threw it away to avoid further temptation. Before tossing it, I did NOT spray some directly into Siena’s mouth just to get her reaction. That would have been childish and unsanitary, not to mention setting a bad example for an impressionable young toddler. Not me!

When playing with bubbles, I’ll admit it was amusing that Siena blew a bubble with her mouth when she said “bubble!” after pressing the bubble wand up to her lips. What I won’t admit to though, is trying to re-create that amusing occurrence with my own lips. I’m sure I would have failed anyway, and tasted some nasty bubble solution in the process. So, I didn’t even try. Not me!

We take bedtime prayers very seriously. There’s no way my husband would have added a loud HONK to the middle of a Hail Mary when Siena poked his nose. Not my husband!

Along those lines, if our family were in the cry room in the back of church (a place we never go, since Siena is an angel during Mass) and she looked particularly cute camped out in a kneeler, there’s no way I’d nudge my husband to grab a picture of her with his phone. Not me! And not my husband, either, for that matter!

We don’t have a Chipotle in our town, and really miss it. So most of the time when I’m headed home from visiting my parents, I’ll stop in at Chipotle and bring a burrito home to HawkInWinter. It can be a difficult stop to take Siena out of her seat so soon after strapping her in, hold her in line, hold her as I walk along the sneeze guard requesting ingredients, hold her as I pay and as I carry her out to the car again. This most recent time, when I snagged a spot right in front of the Chipotle with its big windows, the thought never crossed my mind to leave her in the car. I didn’t leave her there as I walked up to see how long the line was, and then come back to get her. No, as soon as I parked, I got her out of her carseat and took her inside. If I *had* had a moment of hesitation though, I would have been quite thankful my conscience won out once I saw a team of firefighters park right next to my car!

I did not use the word “dependation” when discussing the independent and dependent variables in linear algebra. Even if it was well past bedtime, that strange word would not have come out of my mouth.

Siena did not learn the words “Cheeto” or “candy” this week. Nothing like that ever enters our house. Similarly, she did not learn to say “naughty” because there’s never any occasion to use that word around her. She never hits, and never throws spoons, bowls, or cups off her tray, for example.

She has started saying “diaper” and “stinky”, which makes sense because of the huge number we’ve been changing these last 9 days. While packing some away-from-home food for her babysitter, I did NOT grab the container of strained prunes in a moment of obliviousness, only to realize too late that they were the complete opposite of what I should have been feeding her if I wanted to combat her digestive problems. Sigh.

When sitting on the toilet, Siena is never unsupervised. I never step out to change a load of laundry or put clothes away in her room next to the bathroom. That’s precisely why there’s no way I discovered her, sitting on the toilet, with a pile of unravelled toilet paper almost high enough to touch her dangling feet, proud as punch that she’d unwrapped a hidden “doot-do-doo”, or toilet paper tube. (Named for the sound one makes into it, of course.)

How about you? What have you NOT been up to lately?

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Wordless Wednesday – Climbing Collection


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Lent and Holy Week

The Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday – comes between Lent and Easter. We didn’t have much luck getting to Mass this year for the optional Lenten feasts, and even missed Palm Sunday due to illness. I think Siena really would have enjoyed some of the sacramentals this year, had things worked out better. Here are some phone pics from last year on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.

(Oh, and I’m having the pictures post as thumbnails since there are so many, but you can always click on them to see a larger version.)

We did manage to participate in the parish’s Lenten Soup Suppers both last year and this year. Both years she happily went to various kind women who offered to hold her so we could eat. This year she actually got to eat some soup too!

Here’s the story of our Triduum. I just learned about the Holy Week tradition of Easter cleaning, but I think we’ll add that next year.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday was one of my favorite days of the liturgical calendar when I was growing up. I loved the foot washing services held at church or school, I loved the Sedar meal our parish put on each year, and I loved the Communion bread and grape juice our family shared at dinner. I loved the symbolism, the tradition, and the history behind it all.

Last year the parish deacon asked our family to be among the twelve parishioners whose feet he and the priest would wash during the Mass. Twelve parishioners represented the twelve apostles, although Siena threw off the count because he told us to take her shoe and sock off too, for good measure. We were seated at the edge of the altar in chairs facing the congregation, and the priest and deacon came around with a bowl, a pitcher, and a towel, and rinsed and dried one foot for each of us.  It’s always a humbling experience that brings the Gospel stories to life for me.  Siena loved it…and the rest of the congregation loved watching her. That girl knew how to work an audience even at five months old!

Our old car insurance ran out Wednesday, our new company started Friday tomorrow, and we’re still getting back on our feet from the weekend’s illnesses. HawkInWinter was able to work from home Thursday and we decided to lay low one more day instead of drive to Mass uninsured.

So we had our own little Holy Thursday and broke bread together. Then topped it off with some butter and agave nectar. Totally how they did it at the Last Supper, right?

Here’s the recipe I grew up with:
1 c Wheat Flour
1 c bisquick
1/3 c honey
1/3 c water

Mix until gooey.
Pat into a greased pie pan.
Bake at 350
20-30 minutes until firm but soft
or microwave 4 minutes and add one minute at a time until not gooey, and cooked in the center

Good Friday

We attended the Good Friday service to mourn Jesus’ death on the cross.  Each parish or Campus Ministry team at the different places I’ve attended  Good Friday services has its own way of  making this unique service dramatic, but they all include minimal decorations. Our altar looked so dark and barren without candles, cloths, banners, statues, flowers, or the tabernacle. The crucifix was covered in a red cloth that matched the priests’ garments.  Often if Siena gets restless in Mass I can point out the flowers, the candles, or Baby Jesus and his Momma and Daddy. She did get pretty restless through the long readings and intercessions, and I wished I had brought more distractions for her than just her new purse and her Nemo Easter Egg. We spent some time in the back on the stairs leading up to the choir loft. Any suggestions for shaping appropriate toddler church behavior are quite welcome! Siena came up with me to venerate the cross, thinking it was pretty silly that we were all giving it a kiss, but happy to play along.

Holy Saturday


Holy Saturday
is a day of waiting, remembering Jesus in the tomb, and preparing for the biggest feast day of the year.  We prepared our home, prepared our Easter clothes, prepared some activities for tomorrow, and dyed eggs. We also attended an Easter Egg hunt with some Mormon friends. I’ll need a day or two to get those pictures uploaded since we used the good camera, but these are some I grabbed with the point and shoot as we dyed eggs. As they went into the dye she labelled them eggs, but when they came out colored she considered them balls. Once she figured out that colored eggs are still eggs, she wanted to eat one. She clearly paid attention to my tapping the egg to crack the shell, because she spent a while very seriously tapping her peeled egg on her tray.

In the evening we attended the Easter Vigil, and this time I had a collection of distractions prepared for Siena. There were also plenty of things to point out in our surroundings, and we do that whenever we can so we save the food and toys for when we need them.  I think this is the first year I didn’t attend my home parish for Easter Vigil, so it’s always a bit sad when you’re expecting one thing and get another.  Every other reading was in Spanish, for example, as were most of the songs, the Lord’s Prayer, and every other sentence of the homily.  Mariachi music doesn’t have the same exultant feeling to me as hymns like Roll Away The Stone. Still, the fundamentals were there.

img_9541-lrimg_9547-lrWe started off outside with the fire to light the Easter candle, Siena watching from her Daddy’s shoulders, adding her own commentary. Candle. Baby. Dog! (when a neighborhood dog barked) Car. Muah! (blowing kisses from her high perch) We (well, those of us without babies, that is) processed into the dark church with  taper candles lit from the Easter Candle, which held her attention fairly well for the first readings and songs, until it was time to blow them out and the familiar lights turned back on. When Father walked down the aisle sprinkling us with Holy Water, she found that rather entertaining too. During the Liturgy of Baptism, Siena heard running water and wanted to stand on my lap to get a better view. She was at the end of her patience by the time we went up for Communion.  In between all those natural distractions, HawkInWinter and I took turns keeping her quiet with a book, her stuffed dog, water bottle, Rice Chex, Gerber yogurt melts, an empty plastic Easter egg, and stickers and paper. We were asking an awful lot of her by taking her to a two hour Mass and putting her to bed three hours late.  She is now sleeping soundly, likely with no idea what joy tomorrow holds.

Next year we’ll do some simple teaching about the meaning behind the different things we do during Lent and Holy Week, but last year and this year it’s been fun simply to expose her to these aspects of our Catholic culture. For now, I’m off to hide some eggs with my husband!

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Back to School

My student planner tells me today starts Community College Month, so I’ll “celebrate” by sharing with you some pictures from my first day of school yesterday. Yup, Momma’s going back to school!

I was sick on Monday so I missed the first day of classes, making Wednesday my first day. I’m taking courses each quarter of this coming year to fulfill eight prerequisites I have left before applying to Ultrasound Technology Schools. If accepted, I will start in September 2011 and graduate in August 2013. Then Siena will be almost five, with another year left before kindergarten. I should be able to work two or three days a week as an Ultrasound Technician and make about what I was making as a teacher. I will be able to leave work at work though, not take home hours of paperwork that would keep me from my family.

The first step down that long path is across the threshold of the local community college, and that’s where I went on Wednesday. Later that evening, lucky wife that I am, my husband cooked dinner! That will be our plan for Mondays and Wednesdays the next 10 weeks.

Here’s my blog version of his recipe that yielded such delicious results:

Stir fry yellow onions and bean sprouts in sesame oil.
Use a combination of teriyaki sauce and soy sauce to fry up extra firm tofu, baby shrimp, canned bean sprouts, baby corn, scrambled egg, and mushrooms.
Mix into steamed rice, fold in some cold cucumbers and tomatoes.

If you want to do it exactly like HawkInWinter, be sure to use three frying pans, two casserole dishes, a bowl, cutting board, knife, spatula, and a rice cooker. They will pretty much fill a dishwasher.

So what do you think, does it make you want to go back to school too?

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