Saturday, February 9, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Infant of Prague Illustration, Crepes for Candlemas, Pickle Elevator, and Thank God for No Super Powers

Pretty,Happy, Funny, Real
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Every Thursday, over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


At my grandparent's parish church in Berlinsville, PA there's a replica statue of the Infant of Prague--a doll-like figure of a toddler Jesus, dressed in shiny robes and wearing a crown.  The statue fascinated to me as a young child (though I remember being thinking it must be Mary, since the statue was wearing a gown.)

After finishing the angels coloring book, I wanted to do another piece of child-oriented devotional art--this time something to be hung in the nursery.  Casting about for a subject, I remembered the little statue.

Traditionally, the statue is dressed in vestments according to the liturgical calendar.  In keeping with this, I've made five versions of the illustration for the the different seasons: green (ordinary time), red (feast days of Our Lord and martyrs), purple (Advent and Lent) and white/gold (Easter and Christmas), thinking that the pictures could be swapped as a new season or feast day arrives.

The images are 5" x 7" so they can easily be printed as photos.  They are available  for free download here.

The picture was fun to draw once I gave up on making a likeness of the real statue and opted for a looser representation.  It's a pencil drawing, colored in Photoshop, using the same techniques I learned working on the illustrations for Dominic's Gift.   I'd like to get away from digital and try water color in future projects.  When working with Photoshop, it's too easy to get caught up in fiddly, inconsequential changes!


The French tradition is to eat crêpes for the feast of Candlemas as well as for Mardi Gras.  I took this as an excuse to cook nothing else over the weekend.  We are sans Donnie for two weeks, and it turns out that crêpes are a nice treat for times when it's just me and the girls.  We crowd into the kitchen (there wouldn't be room for all of us with Donnie here).  I make a batch of crepes, we eat them hot off the pan, then I make some more.  The fixings are simple: ham and cheese or spinach and feta for dinner; nutella or honey for dessert; egg and cheese for breakfast.   There's no ferrying back and forth between the kitchen and our normal eating place in the living room.  It makes for a pleasant, non-migratory dining experience.

Album of Anticipatory Nostalgia
Item 1: The Pickle Elevator
Caption: The Pickle Elevator as seen on our cluttered lunchtime table.  On the bottom right hand corner you can catch a glimpse of Galaxy Girl's star leggings.

We've got six months left in France, but it isn't too soon to look forward to fondly looking back!  One thing I will fondly remember are the pickles--or cornichons.  They are very tasty--tiny and more subtly spiced than their American counterparts--but beyond their taste, the large jars come with a plastic strainer hickey that sits under the cornichons and has a handle so you can  lift the pickles out of the brine--no fishing necessary.  Very civilized.  Today Maria coined a term for it:"pickle elevator."  Apt, Maria, apt.


This has been a week when I've been grateful that Maria has no super powers.*  If she could control the weather, summon fire, or make things move with her mind, our building would be a smoldering ruin many times over.  The kid has been outdoing herself in throwing terrific, grand-mal tantrums.  

This is close on the heels of Louisa being sick with a sore throat and ear infection and deciding that every diaper and clothing change was a heinous assault on her person.  Between Maria's meltdowns and Louisa's sore throated shrieks of distress, there have been many screamy, screamy moments with some whiny, whiny ones thrown in for variety.

I was not surprised (but nonetheless upset) when our landlady and neighbor pulled me aside in the laundry room to ask me whether I'd spoken to a doctor about how much the children cry---Maria in particular. Our landlady has known many children and it's "not normal."  Perhaps it has to do with the [enormous] quantity of milk we drink.  (Brackets are mine.)

There are a number of things that may be contributing to us not being in top form:  Donnie is away.  The  girls have just begun sleeping in the same bedroom.  It's February--we're probably all suffering from vitamin D deficiency. But do these things account for it?  Maria is pale.  Her emotions are fragile.  She has a perpetually runny nose.  It seems like it has been this way for a long time.  Perhaps there is something more sinister gnawing away at my girl's health and happiness--a food sensitivity, for instance.  Poor Maria, she's my first--my burnt test crêpe.  Unlike my landlady, I don't know what's normal.

I did ask our doctor about it today--we went in because Maria now has pink eye.  Our doctor's condensed response:  "She's three.  She's in a country with a language she doesn't understand.  She is jealous of her younger sister.  It's her temperament. No need to medicalize the problem."  She followed this up with a prescription for nose drops, eye drops, throat syrup, vitamin D, and a daily vitalizing vitamin syrup.  Vive la France!

This state of things has had me feeling downhearted and fed up--fed up with my hobbling French, fed up with our cluttered, thin-walled apartment, fed up with sick, temperamental children, perhaps fed up with France, but most definitely fed up with February.

So I was grateful when this sight greeted us on our return to the flat today.

There it is, like an early Valentine from fate--a defunct bidet, symbol of all the difficulties of our life here--ripped out and ready to be taken to the curb.  If only fate had also provided a crow bar.  I might have it in me to smash the thing to bits.

Now, I'll end with this picture--because this parenting gig isn't all red eyes, screaming, and worried neighbors.
Maria and Louisa in a fond, sisterly embrace.

*Side Note:  We're pretty sure that Louisa does have a super power--a sort of water summoning ability.  She doesn't have very good control of this power yet and all she manages to do is soak her shirt several times a day. We've ruled out drool because there's just too much of it.  "Aqua Baby," we call her.  Maria is "Galaxy Girl," for no other reason than she has a pair of star-covered leggings.

For more {pretty, happy, funny, real} go visit the party at Like Mother Like Daughter.

For the story of a real adventure, very different from the domestic variety featured  here, go visit my brother Dan's  Bailure Blog.  His posts never fail to shake me up.  It's a continual source of pride and astonishment that we come from the same gene pool.


  1. Aw, February is always rough, I think. Hope those sweet girls are feeling better soon!

    1. Thanks, Rosie! Maria is in a much better state. :) So lovely to have you stop by the blog. It's wonderful to read your posts---that quilt makes me yearn for my sewing machine!