7 quick takes Friday (Vol. 4)

— 1 —
Two years ago today we were matched with our younger son—and saw pictures of him for the first time. In one photo he was shaking a plastic clapper toy and laughing. You could practically hear the belly laugh coming from this little boy who was thousands of miles away. John and I looked at the pictures over and over and over again with Leo and talked about “your little brother in China.”
Then one day when we were looking at the pictures, Leo was holding his stuffed Cat in the Hat on his lap. And the Cat in the Hat said in his high-pitched voice, “But Mama, I don’t remember him.”
Oops. It was then that I realized that with all of talk about Leo’s baby brother, we had neglected to mention one very important fact: This little boy was new to us and we were new to him. Leo thought he had met this child before and just couldn’t remember him.
Two years later we can’t remember a time when we didn’t know this bundle of energy and personality.
Have you ever fallen in love with a photo? I describe the day we were matched with Daniel here and the day we were matched with Leo here.
— 2 —

Our daffodils are blooming!
We took a few to the boys’ teachers this morning since I’m not sure the flowers will survive the wintry mix we’re expecting over the weekend.
The best part, though, is that Leo is calling them “daffi-daisies.” I love when the boys unintentionally create their own words.
— 3 —
Is anyone else saying “Extra omnes!” around the house? When I showed Leo this video of the election of Pope Francis, he was fascinated.
His favorite part was when the man said, “Extra omnes,” and the Sistine Chapel doors closed.
“He said, ‘Everybody get out!’” Leo said. He laughed and laughed.
“Extra omnes” is such a classy way to say that, though. I’ve been trying to use it when a child follows me into the bathroom or when I’m trying to keep people out of the kitchen. So far it’s not working as well for me as it did in the Sistine Chapel.
— 4 —
When people said, “They grow so fast,” why did I think they meant someone else’s children?
This week I had a “Puff the Magic Dragon” moment when we were driving home and saw a fire engine. I was excited and said to Daniel, “Look! A fire engine! Just what you like!” Our 3-year-old said—in a bored voice—“I don’t like fire engines anymore.”
“Oh,” I said, deflated. “Um…what do you like now?”
“Trains,” he said. Well, at least it’s still a vehicle.
Even Leo, who’s 5, is starting to seem so grown-up. The other evening his father got called away from the dinner table to handle some urgent request from Daniel, and I said, “Oh, dear,” knowing John would never get to come back and finish his spaghetti.
Leo walked over to me and said, “Mama, I am concerned that you are so sad.”
It caught me off-guard. I forget how perceptive children can be. He gave me a big hug and was especially affectionate to everyone in the family the rest of the evening. Even his little brother got a hug that wasn’t a poorly disguised attempt to wrestle him to the floor.
— 5 —
The other night Daniel and I had just finished reading his bedtime books when he turned to me and said very seriously, “Mama, I don’t like you anymore. You are getting too old.”
I am not sure how a mother is supposed to respond when her 3-year-old says this to her.
Maybe you are supposed to explore why he’s feeling this, or reflect back his emotions.
Maybe you’re supposed to ask questions or sit quietly and wait for him to elaborate.
Maybe you should start guessing where he might have heard such a thing.
Whatever you’re supposed to do, I’m sure I handled it wrong. I burst out laughing so hard I could barely breathe.
— 6 —
Last night the boys and I drove past the Mary Sue Easter Egg bunny on our way home. It’s not on our way at all, but John was working late, and we were on our own. So we drove down the Jones Falls Expressway and waved to the large inflated pink bunny sitting on top of the candy factory.
John and I have tried to sing the Mary Sue Easter Egg theme song for our boys, but we can only come up with two verses. And this is one of those rare moments when YouTube is failing us.
I’m starting to think that the secular-religious Easter combo is almost more confusing than the one you encounter at Christmas.
The other day Leo asked, “Mama, why do we dye eggs for Easter?” and I wasn’t sure how to answer. I said something about new beginnings and spring and Jesus rising from the dead. But, as far as I can tell, there’s not much of a link. I was happy when Leo said a few days later, “Easter is about Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead.”
“It is!” I said. “How do you know that? Did you talk about it at school?”
“Mama,” he said, sounding exasperated, “I know because you told me.”
Ah, if I weren’t getting too old, as his little brother pointed out, maybe I would have remembered that. I’d probably remember the Mary Sue Easter Egg song, too.
Photo by George Matysek, who was stuck in traffic at the time.
— 7 —
Running low on meatless Friday dinner ideas? This is my favorite meatless dish I’ve come up with during Lent. It’s very simple and not particularly original, but I like how quickly it comes together. Speed is essential for dinnertime here.
I apologize that there are no measurements, but I really don’t think you can go wrong as long as you cook enough pasta for the people you’re feeding. Actually, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with shrimp and pasta.

Shrimp and Pasta Sauté
Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Set aside. (I cook it while I do everything else.)
Over medium heat sauté in a generous amount of olive oil one chopped onion and whatever dried herbs you like—I love rosemary, but I have also made it with parsley and Old Bay.
Add garlic and ground black pepper and sauté briefly.
Add vegetables of your choice and peeled shrimp. (I use whatever frozen vegetables we have on hand—the boys like peas and corn—but you could use fresh vegetables. I also use frozen shrimp because if we have shrimp on hand, it’s frozen. And we tend to buy peeled shrimp because the boys aren’t good at peeling cooked shrimp.)
When the shrimp is cooked through, add the cooked pasta and stir.
Remove from heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese to taste. I tend to be overly generous with Parmesan cheese.
Do you have a favorite meatless Friday recipe to share? I’d love to try it! Please send it to me at openwindowcr@gmail.com.

Read more quick takes at Jen’s blog, Conversion Diary.

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