Apizza Pie

New Haven is known for its pizza, or “apizza” as its signature thin crust and just-the-right-amount of char has come to be known. I always try to imitate the Italian pizza chef on The Simpsons who only speaks, uh, how you say? Broken English! when pronouncing apizza. I think it captures the spirit.

While we love a good pepperoni from Pepe’s or Modern, Chris has perfected the art of homemade pizza and it has earned its place among the best pies in New Haven. Continue reading

Mooney-Polese Heritage Week

Last week was a welcome relief from Lent with St. Patrick’s Day, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and Laetare Sunday, which was overshadowed by the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at our parish. St. Paddy’s is an octave, didn’t you know?

It also presents a fun opportunity to celebrate our heritage as a family. The Mooneys are more Irish than most leprechauns and I’m half-Italian and even if my family would joke that we’re mere “Olive Garden Italians,” that part of my identity still means a lot to me. On Tuesday, I dyed our scrambled eggs green and made bacon for a “green eggs and ham” breakfast.

green eggs and pork product

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I see a mommy looking at me!


The books used to be on the top shelf, out of reach from little buddies. As Christopher grew more and more fond of flipping through Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? until he got to the page with the children and zooming through Goodnight Moon faster than the old lady could whisper “hush,” Chris decided to make a quick switcheroo: the books are his and should be buddy-accessible. Now he sits in his little reading corner next to his clean diapers and flips, flips, flips until he’s decided he can flip no more. It’s one of the great joys of my life right now to watch his little furrowed brow try to make sense of all the pictures or to hear his small excited squeak at a favorite page like he’s discovered it for the first time again.

I hope he always loves books this much. I daydream about reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to him for the first time or discovering him playing Treasure Island. Maybe one day he’ll read Confessions and Augustine’s quest for truth, goodness, and beauty will have the same effect on him as it had on his father and he’ll understand his middle name a little more.

There’s a whole literary future ahead of you, little buddy. It only gets better.

7QT: When life gives you salad spinners…


I never really got Pinterest. Wedding planning was a chore (putting it nicely) for me and my younger sister got the fashion gene that allows her to take inspiration from fashion boards and look put together all the time.

But then I discovered the world of Montessori baby activities.

A lot of them give me a little bit of Pinterest Inferiority Complex (but even I want to do this geography lesson) and/or “I don’t want to vacuum all that rice” thoughts and I’m not sure about the theory behind some of the projects (“Kitchen Treasure Basket” – I just let my baby raid the cabinets and we come out even), but man, somehow an upswing of energy this week met “sensory play activities” and I’ve been buzzing with ideas and pinning, pinning, pinning crafts that most likely will never come to fruition. That afternoon, I gave Christopher a bunch of cotton balls to play with and take in and out of a toilet paper roll that I stapled at one end. #craftsuperstar

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I got the idea for a discovery bottle for Mass using rice, an empty chili powder container we had lying around, and some of the saint medals we have already collected in our mere four months as Catholics and I think it turned out OK, even if Christopher just uses it as a rattle instead of ~discovering~ all of the little trinkets I hid inside of it. I’ll might make a post about it next week so I can deceive Pinterest as to my crafting abilities. Or not.


An upside of this whole “tot school” browsing thing is discovering all the hoarded stuff we have in the apartment can be used for gross motor development or whatever! Behold, when life gives you salad spinners…

…make baby toys.


On the Lenten front, I had an “eh” week. I’m remembering why I chose the penances I did and how much happier I am when I stick to the no-social-media-when-Christopher-is-awake rule. It’s been really fun to play with him and see how much he’s changed in the little interactions we have throughout the day. I also did a whole mountain of laundry today. But it’s still hard to stick with it in the moment. The TV fast has been way easier than I expected, although I’m pretty excited to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt come Easter.

I went to Confession last Friday. I’m still new at Confession since we only entered the Church in October and I still get very nervous before going even though each time it has been so worth it. There is no better feeling than God’s forgiveness and it still amazes me how the sacrament communicates that grace in a very real and tangible way. I’m very good at feeling vaguely guilty about sins I’m sure I’ve committed but don’t really want to look in the face, even if it brings forgiveness. Speaking my sins aloud, bringing them into the light by naming them specifically, and then hearing the priest say the words of absolution make God’s forgiveness very present and real. It’s overwhelming. I often think of Eustace’s unfortunate turn as the dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Aslan’s remedy when it comes to Confession:eustace-as-dragon

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”


Chris has two weeks of Spring Break (*Kitty from Arrested Development voice* WOOOOO) and we’ve been living it up. We went to go visit his parents for a night in rural Connecticut. They literally live in Gilmore Girls/Tocqueville country. It’s what New England looks like on postcards. I’m also still amazed at how varied Connecticut is. There’s NYC-suburban-ritzy Connecticut, horse country Connecticut, shoreline Connecticut. We live in scary/Ivy League Connecticut.


I am coveting this print of sentence diagrams of famous opening lines from notable novels. I could probably capitalize on this crafting frenzy and just make my own and avoid any Humbert Humbert adorning my walls. I was thinking of a triptych for above Christopher’s changing table of the “hearts are restless” quotation from Confessions with the Fra Angelico “Conversion of St. Augustine” and a diagram of the quotation. It was relevant to the current chapters we are going over in my grammar class since it is a compound-complex sentence, so I had my students do it for a warm-up on Monday. This was the answer:

I think it’s a pretty diagram. (Nerd alert.)


While looking at birthday gifts that I can’t afford on Amazon for Christopher, I found this little number:

which is sure to haunt your dreams tonight. YOU’RE SO WELCOME. This is a costume for a grown man. It looks like it’s mostly used for productions of Peter Pan, but I like to think it has aided many ill-thought-out dad pranks that come up in therapy sessions down the road.


I’ve watched this clip from SNL so many times and I laugh every. single. time.

Go check out more quick takes over at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Christopher: 11 Months

My little buddy is becoming a bigger buddy every day. A wise friend at our parish said that babies have moods, but toddlers have preferences. We are entering toddler territory, a land filled with lots of toothy grins but also lots of changing table meltdowns. Good with the bad and all that.

The big happening is that he took his first steps on Tuesday!!! It was just three little toddles but he was very proud of himself and clapped after he saw our excited expressions. Oh man. It begins.

Now get ready for some minutia only a mother (and maybe, maybe some grandparents could love):

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The Couponing Pirates

A frequent conversation in our house on the weekends:

Chris: “What do you want to do today?”

Me, in a sheepish sing-song voice: “I dunno!”

Yesterday was one of those “I dunno” days as our Sabbath usually is. As we digested our not-very-Lenten lunch (this, modified to include pepperoni, sauce, and even more sausage; it’s called pizza roll and it is delicious), I checked the mail and browsed through the week’s Sunday circulars.

Christopher even got in on the action.


Soon Chris started tapping away on his phone and I heard an Australian lady talking about how to make a paper hat that would be perfect for a pirate pah-ty or even a sailor party (Yes, even a sailor party! What a thought!). Continue reading

7QT: Strugglebus Edition

The Strugglebus is caught in a snowdrift here at the Mooney household, but it’s still more comfortable than the Megabus, amiright? I’ll be here all week. Because of the snow.


Singing this song with the rest of the Northeast.

Will it ever not be Winter again? Can we just have Christmas 2: the Christmasing instead if St. Patrick’s Day to make this snow worth it?


My Lenten resolutions are getting harder and I’ve cheated a few times. Those were my worst days at home and I can’t tell if they were the worst because I spent time on the computer, which made Christopher seem clingy or Christopher was clingy so I tried to escape into social media. It doesn’t really matter. I’m thankful His mercies are new every morning.


Speaking of mornings, we’ve seen a lot of them lately. Christopher has decided that the 5:30-6:15 range is a great time to start the day. I know it could be worse and I’m thankful for my parents’ Christmas gift, good ol’ Mr. Coffee, but it’s wreaking havoc with his nap situation. The baby who must be Ergo’d or nursed to sleep fell asleep on Chris, Sophie in his clutches, while I was teaching on Wednesday and it was just adorable.

But still. I miss waking up after dawn. And not falling asleep while I’m reading at 9:00pm.


My students and I had a little too much fun in class on Monday and made a class “flag” with what I deemed our motto.

Me: We should put “Now is the time to make mistakes” on the flag since that’s our motto!

Student: That’s our motto?

Me: I say that all the time!

Student: You do?

They clearly listen very closely to their teacher. Here is our masterpiece.

I just hope the sentence diagram is correct or I’ll feel like a dope.

Also, I know I’ve reached peak nerd because I keep getting distracted while reading wondering how I would diagram each sentence. Just call me Poindexter.


Good reads this week:

The lonely mission of motherhood at Mama Needs Coffee // I want Jenny to write the Motherhood Manifesto. “Mothers of the world, unite!”

The latest Fountains of Carrots podcast with Tyler Blanski was super great. I also enjoyed Tyler’s conversion story.

This photo album full of 1950s interiors is amazing.


I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate all of the Fisher-Price songs etched into our subconscious into our classical education. Clearly, at ten months old, Christopher is still at the memorization heavy Grammar stage of his education. We know at least three versions of the ABC’s, so that’s a start. The song about bugs, bees, butterflies, bird, frog, crickets his little house sings will help us on our nature walks when the world, thaws, right? Does Charlotte Mason have a chapter on obnoxious jingles? Is there a Fisher-Price: Latin Declensions line? We already have blocks with the Greek alphabet so something’s got to be out there that will help aid Christopher’s translations of Cicero.


A bonus video of our favorite baby trick:

Head on over to Kelly’s for more quick takes.

WWRW: Brede and Other Books

Linking up with Housewifespice for the March edition of What We’re Reading Wednesday!

I’ve read some great books since last month’s post. The best one was absolutely In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden, bredewhich seems to be having a moment around the Catholic blogosphere. I loved the style of the prose, the reported speech and the “If Sister X had heard this, she would have said”‘s. These little asides added a unique insight into the nuns’ interior lives without requiring a totally omniscient narrator. By exploring the nuns’ interior lives in this way, Godden also made the point that their enclosure does not make for a stagnant or automatically holy life; rather, their concerns, both prosaic and sacred, continue to school them in love. I liked that she didn’t make this point with ham-handed moralism, but let the story speak for itself.

I also loved all of the characters’ complexity. No character was all good or all bad. I thought Dame Veronica the least sympathetic character and her simpering devotion to the former Abbess the most annoying but she still showed a desire for repentance. I got rather attached to Philippa Talbot, the late vocation who leaves her high position in the Civil Service to join the convent. We open on her farewells to her employees:

Penny looked up and saw that Mrs Talbot was laughing at her, gently laughing. ‘Do you think it will be the end of me?’ Penny emphatically did but, ‘I hope it will be the beginning,’ said Mrs Talbot.

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From a lovely morning off

Her quiet transformation showed the many ways God teaches love. She was widowed already and then had lost a young son in a horrific accident (sobbing, so much sobbing), so she had had that experience of love but had reacted to losing her family by closing herself to everyone around her. After her conversion and even after entering the convent, she just wanted to keep to herself and work on her own holiness, but God uses the skills she developed for her own prosperity on the outside to serve the order over and over again, showing the unexpected way her vocation was both the beginning and end of her.

Abbess Catherine ended up a favorite as well. She exemplified what a mother is and what a mother should be. Her worry about the sisters, her occasional anger, but most of all care for the flock showed the joys and challenges of motherhood in the context of her vocation. There’s more to be said about motherhood and Brede, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Anyway, I think everyone should read it. It’s not sentimental or schlocky and really even-handed on the hot button political issues that come with a Catholic novel set during Vatican II.

Other books:

aramenI got to read an advance copy of Leah Libresco‘s new book Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers Even I Can Offer and reviewed it on Goodreads. A taste of a particularly lovely passage:

In Confession, God mends to wound of my sin with his grace, and the resulting scar can be beautiful. The shining brand that remains is a gift; a reminder that I depend on God’s mercy, and that his mercy is free for the asking. This kind of healing means that I can’t think of my original sin in isolation from the forgiveness that was offered to me. The vein of Christ’s love twines through my regret and penitence, keeping them from sliding into despair.

If you liked Jennifer Fulweiler’s Something Other Than God, you’ll like Leah’s book too. You can pre-order it now on Amazon and I think you should!station eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel // Like Hansel, this is so hot right now and I think for good reason. I’m a sucker both for post-apocalyptic tales (my husband and I both get giddy about The Walking Dead) and for plots with characters with intersecting lives, which is why I love David Mitchell. My major complaint about the book is that I can’t decide if the ending was a cop-out or a reflection of the instability of an apocalyptic wasteland, but no spoilers here. Even so, it didn’t make me regret reading the rest of it.

excellentwomenExcellent Women by Barbara Pym // Fare Forward editor/Middlemarch-pusher, BD McClay, assigned this comedy of manners for her “Lenten homework” and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It epitomizes a particular British melancholic humor. I knew I would like the main character when she explains: “Let me hasten to add that I am not at all like Jane Eyre, who must have given hope to so many plain women who tell their stories in the first person, nor have I ever thought of myself as being like her” and then worries about the toilet paper situation sharing a bathroom with the couple who moves in downstairs. “Mr. Napier was called Rockingham! How the bearer of such a name would hate sharing a bathroom!”

I’m currently reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which started super slow, but I suppose that makes sense for the ruminations of an aging butler.

I’m also still working my way through Edith Stein’s letters in the mornings. I’ll finish off this post with this excerpt:

“I would like to break a lance for the angels. They do not stand like a barrier between us and God. The ray of illumination that (according to Dionysius) descends on us after having passed through all nine Choirs [of angels] connects the entire grace-inundated spirit world; the Trinity is personally present on every level; even in the lowest choir of angels it is he himself whom we meet. It is not his unapproachable majesty that God communicates to us through his messengers but rather his overflowing love. It is their bliss, just as it will be ours (and already is to some extent), to be allowed to cooperate in God’s dispensing of graces. Consider yourself fortunate indeed if these hunters have picked up your scent, and allow them to drive you into the arms of the Spirit of love and of truth.” (From Letter 267)

What have you been reading? Any recommendations? I love new Goodreads friends!

Tweetie Twister

“Offspring convert us; they force us to become different beings. There is no way to prepare for them completely. They crash into our lives, they soil their diapers, they upset all our comfortable arrangements, and nobody knows how they will turn out. Willy-nilly, they knock is out of our complacent habits and force us to live outside ourselves; they are the necessary and natural continuation of that shock to our egotism which is initiated by marriage itself. To receive this great blessing requires courage. But any so-called intimacy which is deliberately closed to new life becomes a mere collaboration in selfishness.” – J. Budzizewski, from What We Can’t Not Know