Tuesday, November 27, 2018

As the Year Winds Down

We're here, friends. The final days of the liturgical year are upon us, and I have very mixed feelings about all this. The past liturgical year was full of joys, blessings, struggles, growth, and fun, and I'm a bit sad to see it all slip further into the past. At the same time, though, I'm really excited for Advent. I'm pulling together simple preparations for our Advent Tea (you can read about last year's tea here), and I'm in the process of tidying the house so that I can pull out our boxes of Advent and Christmas supplies. But we'll talk about Advent later. For now, I think it'd be fun to let y'all know what I've been up to this past month. 

My toddler is really into the flamingoes, so we always stop 
by to watch them. 
We started off the month with All Saint's Day, followed closely by All Soul's Day. Our celebration of All Saint's Day wasn't that crazy or memorable this year, but I really wanted to do some exciting stuff the next day; specifically to pray at a cemetery. And, because I'm insane and like to do way too many things, we made a full day out of it. After dropping my husband off at work, we went to the zoo, then we drove to the other side of the OKC metro area for Mass, then we spontaneously had lunch with some friends who were on retreat, then we went to the cemetery with our friends to pray, then we stopped at a gas station and got a donut (hey, it's basically a "soul cake," right?), and finally we went home for about 30 minutes before leaving again to pick up my husband from work. It was a ton of fun, but taking a two-year-old and a two-month-old all around town on multiple adventures made for one exhausting day! 

My sister-in-law, her husband, and their son visited, and we had a really relaxing few days with them, eating Korean BBQ takeout, playing Dokopon Kingdom, and watching our kids interact. After they left, I decided that I needed to liven up life somehow, so I decided to make dairy-free ice cream for the first time. It definitely didn't taste the same as a carton of actual ice cream, but it was delicious! And since the only ingredients were coconut milk, cocoa powder, pure maple syrup and vanilla, it felt a tiny bit healthy, too ;) 

The weather decided to behave like winter, so I finally got around to making my baby a winter hat. Since my husband regularly participates in Pokémon races (and my toddler is obsessed with Pikachu), I naturally had to make a Pikachu hat. It came together fairly quickly, and while I made some mistakes and it's a little on the big size, it's pretty cute. The hardest part of creating the hat was the way that my toddler would routinely come over and try to grab it from me, while delightedly exclaiming "It's the Pikachu hat!!!!!!!!!"

I'm trying to do better about cooking seasonally (I still have a long way to go, though!) and I was ecstatic to see the huge displays of squash at the store recently. I do not know why I have never really made spaghetti squash before! I love this stuff. We've made Italian spaghetti squash bowls a couple times, and we've also made Mediterranean-inspired spaghetti squash bowls, too (in fact, we're having those for dinner this week because we liked them so much). 

I also made this tuna casserole, and it was really good. My husband noted that it's just not the same as a carb-loaded tuna casserole), but I loved the flavor, and I also loved the way that it didn't feel like a rock in my stomach. Also on the topic of food, I recently made this salad for dinner, and it was AWESOME. So fresh, full of protein from the chicken, and the recipe made a big batch so we ate it for about three meals. I definitely will be making this again. 

I don't know how the picture managed to capture the one moment when I had
a weird expression on my face, but there you have it. 
 We visited my family in Kansas for Thanksgiving, and while there, we took a trip to a local park. This park had a wheelchair-accessible maze, which I though was awesome (and which my toddler thoroughly enjoyed running through), and it also had the coolest baby swing ever (which I sadly didn't get a picture of). Basically, picture the typical baby swing. Now attached to that swing is an adult swing seat, so that instead of standing and pushing the kid in the swing, the parent can sit, face his or her child, and swing to propel both of them through the air! Such a cool idea. Also, some random guy came up and asked me if I play Pokémon Go, and when I told him "no," he then asked if I had seen anyone playing Pokémon Go. My husband didn't seem to think this was strange, but I thought it was really weird and random. I may have made my baby a Pokémon hat, but I actually am not a Pokémon enthusiast myself! 

Marriage has changed me in so many ways, and here is photographic evidence. Single AnneMarie would have pushed this plate far away. Single AnneMarie might have tried the squid (pictured on the far left), but she never would have even thought about consuming a grilled baby octopus or jellyfish (yes, that little pile on the right is JELLYFISH). But thankfully, I got married, and my husband has helped me to expand my mind and my palate. While my parents watched out toddler, we scurried off to a sushi restaurant for a date, and while we sipped sparkling sake, we enjoyed this seafood platter before our sushi came out. The grilled baby octopus (octopi?) was tasty, but it took forever to chew and swallow; the squid salad was pretty good, and the jellyfish was pretty weird. It was long and slippery (making me think of Chinese noodles), but it was also crunchy. I'm glad that I tried it, and it was decent, but I don't think I'll need to eat jellyfish again in the near future. 

On our drive back, we stopped at this gas station that had a restaurant with a pirate ship play area! I thought it was a really fun and creative way for kids to unleash their energy. We spent quite a bit of time at that pirate ship before hitting the road again. 

I've been following Haley Stewart's blog for quite a while, and I was really excited to hear that she wrote a book. I was even more excited when our local library system ordered a copy! I think it's so cool that a public library would order such a thoroughly religious book, and I hope that lots of people-Catholic and non-Catholic-encounter it as they browse the shelves. It's a lovely book, and I'll write more about it for my next literature post. 

I say this every month, but honestly-the month flew by. It's crazy that November is almost gone! There was some really good stuff that happened this month, though there were also some big challenges/struggles that came up which I can't get into here. Overall, though, I'm really grateful for all of these good memories and the way that God showers his love down upon us in hard times and fun times. I'm exhausted (both by the month of November and by the fact that it is way past my bedtime!), but happy, and I'm very excited to see how God works in the coming year! 


  1. Ok, this might be a weird thing to say, but I SO wish we could sit down together over coffee and talk theology. You and I agree on so much, but you are Catholic and I am not, and I have so many questions about Catholicism. Not in the I-want-to-be-Catholic sense, but just because I want to better understand the liturgy and traditions and compare it to my protestant faith. Does that make sense? Ha! You are someone who seems to love theology as much as I do and i have no doubt we would have an awesome discussion.

  2. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Haley's book. I found it really interesting and thought-provoking

    1. It's awesome that you got to read it! I will get a more extensive review up within the next week or so :)