Wednesday, December 30, 2015

*The* Word for 2016

I think it was a few years back I started hearing about peoples' "words" for the new year. Some folks would unveil their word on Facebook using that quiz-style thing that takes in your name and Magically! spits out your word for the new year. Others would be a little more thoughtful (one can only guess) and just share their word without the graphics and the invitation to "Find Your Own Word for 2016!"

Then (as now) the thought of a guiding word intrigued me. What would it be like to have a word that guided my thoughts and decisions for a whole year? Where would I be in 365 days? What would be different?

It seemed like a *very important thing to do* and so I didn't want to leave this word to chance. I wanted to think. Pray. Meditate. Spend due diligence in figuring this word out. And so, of course, I forgot to do it and thus a couple years have gone by without me participating.

But not this year! This year will be different because after seeing this picture on Instagram:

Simplicity. That's my word for 2016. Yours? #dishesatthelodge #pitcherfromchildhood #wholeparentinglodge

A photo posted by Nell 💙 (@whole_parenting) on

I decided I needed to find my word.

It actually didn't take very long, even thought I didn't really know how to go about it. It was after reading this article on making resolutions using the word as a theme, and another article (that I can't find right now. Drat) that was about making resolutions based on how you want to *feel* in the next year (rather than specific *things* you want to accomplish), that I sat down and came up with a few words. And from that list, only one really jumped out at me: LEARN.
There's quite a few things I would like to learn - about blogging, tutoring, parenting, etc... - but there's also the attitude that I want to take in this next year. Is there something ahead of me that I don't know how to do? Well, rather than ignore or avoid it, squarely look at it and decide to LEARN. I feel this encompasses both actual goals I have and the "softer" attitude/mindset that I want to adopt.  As a former pastor once said, "Do you want to be the same person next year that you are today?" It's only living things that grow and change - therefore, I want to live... and learn! (No dead quitty fishes here.)

So what's your word for 2016?

Friday, December 25, 2015

The 7 Best Gifts I Gave Myself in 2015

This afternoon, I was reading Christie's latest post on Liturgical Living. It's a beautiful little vignette of their last days of Advent - but it was this last line at the end that got me thinking:
And for those who are interested, my Christmas Eve dinner menu:
Chinese takeout
That must have been a lovely gift to herself! (We all know what Christmas eve can be like, even without the dinner prep. Amirite?) So that made me start to think - what were the best gifts that I gave myself this year? Gifts that refueled me, or freed me, or just otherwise were a true grace received so that I could give grace to others? In the spirit of 7QT, I offer you these - with the wish that you receive some of these yourself next year!

A Professional Housecleaning. I've never had this done before - and truth be told, it wasn't a full housecleaning (we couldn't afford that!) - but that didn't seem to faze the cleaners. They just walked in and got right to work. Two hours later, I returned to a home that smelled of PineSol... and to this mama who hadn't been able to mop the floors since the little dude was born, it was the most lovely thing!

Ah... that *all* nap times were this peaceful...
Nap time. One might say "Why didn't you mop when the children were sleeping?" Well, I have a couple answers to this: #1 - Little dude. #2 - the Spitfire. Neither of my children will sleep through me running the vacuum or bumping things around with a mop in the kitchen. In a house less than 1000 sq ft, I don't exactly blame them. So once the children were down, if I was tired, I took a nap. Or, if I had too many things to do and needed the nap time to get them done, then I at least gave myself a 20-minute meditation break using this app. I was often surprised at how rejuvenated I felt after these 20 minutes!


Books. Since making a commitment to own less "stuff" I've been doing my best to make the library my first stop book shop. And I've actually found some great titles there that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Of course, ebooks don't take up any space on my bookshelf! And this year I splurged on a few. There's a couple I have yet to read (my reading goals and accomplishment thereof was similar to Haley's and Kelly's). But the thought that I have these lovely reads waiting for me in 2016 makes them the gift that keeps on giving.


Hot cocoa. This was my go-to after the littles were down for the night (or at least the next 2-3 hours). Sometimes a little adult mix-in was added (my favorites: Frangelico or peppermint schnapps) and sometimes it was just taken as is. But the warm cup and the cuddle on the couch were always the comfort that I needed after a long day of work.

This Thing. I may have mentioned that our house is small... yes? I did? Did I mention also how the little dude is still sleeping in our office because he can't be moved in with his sister due to his waking every 3-4 hours at night? Oh, well. Yeah... I had figured that by the time he was 5 or 6 months old he would be able to be moved in with his sister; but here he is, nearly a year old and still calling our office his bedroom.  Which, really, is for the best. But it does get a little frustrating for this aspiring blogger when she can't use the office computer because it's... well... in the office and the baby is sleeping. But with this lovely wireless keyboard, I can use our tablet and the Blogger app, and get to work! I can't emphasize how important it has been to me this year to use my mind muscles in non-mom ways. It's keeping me real and keeping me sane. (And keeping me really sane. Ha!) :)


Kid free time. This also has helped keep me sane. Whether it was with the hubby or not, anytime that I gave myself to be free of the littles was soooo welcome. And savored. I kinda don't think I gave myself enough of it this year. So, add this one to my list of resolutions for 2016.

Winner winner, taco dinner.
This Guy. For all I have written above about how tired, brain dead, or just scattered I have been because of being a mom to two littles - it still does not compare to the absolute JOY I have found in helping bring this little dude Earth-side this year. Whether it's the quiet moments, or the laugh-filled "wrestling", or watching him play with his sister... it is has been an incredibly grace filled year with him in it. Love. Love. Love.

What were some of your best gifts to yourself this year? Thanks to Kelly for offering this Link Up on Christmas day (of all days)!

Merry Christmas to you! And may you know the best gift of all - Jesus Christ - positively and personally.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Little Dude's Birth Story

The dude abides
I'm sitting at my mother's computer. The little dude went to sleep an hour ago and the husband just finished reading stories to the Spitfire. I can hear my niece watching Cars on our tablet and the dishwasher whirring in the background. My teacup is empty and I finished reading another blogger's latest post about her birth story, when I realize: my little dude is almost 11 months old and I've not written down his birth story yet! (Not surprising, as I also forgot to take his 9 month and 10 month old pictures with those cute little stickers I bought off of Etsy...)

Clearly, I'm not winning any blogging mom awards over here tonight. ;)

So, 11 months down the line, what do I remember? Let's see...

Little John was due February 6th - a date that I was happy for him to have as his birthday... a date that I was fully expecting him to have as his birthday. So much so, that at his baby shower - the weekend before he was born - I was still half-joking/half-fretting about how much I still needed to do to prepare for his arrival. (Like wash his clothes, make his bed, put his clothes somewhere, pack the bag for the birth center, buy personal supplies for myself, etc...) I was fully aware that second children often come earlier and faster than firstborns - but since our first was born exactly 2 weeks past her due date - I figured him coming "earlier" just meant that he would be on-time. Ho ho. Hee hee. I was counting on this a little too much.

So two days before he was born, when I started to have the mucous-y signs that labor was coming, I completely panicked. I called one of my friends in tears and sobbed about how I didn't even have diapers for the baby and could she take care of little girl while I went to Target and do a load of laundry? She graciously agreed and I threw the Spitfire in the back of the car and drove straight to my friend's house pronto. I dropped her off and then spent a mad half-hour (or so) buying all the disposable products that I could buy: nursing pads, newborn diapers, um... other pads *ahem*, Q-tips, kleenex... I joked later that I had something for pretty much any hole that I could possibly leak out of.

And if that's not TMI for you - then you *must* be a birth story junkie. (Welcome!! It gets worse better!)

Thankfully, the contractions I felt that day remained in the realm of Braxton-Hicks and never progressed. I was able to get little dude's clothes washed, folded and put away (if a Rubbermaid tub in our bedroom counts as "put away") and our bag got packed. God and little dude mercifully were giving me a big fat kick in the pants to get things ready, I guess. Because the next day, things started to change.

The morning started off normal but I was feeling like things could change as the day went on, so I put my husband and sister on stand-by - telling them to go to work, but to keep their phones close. That they did and the wee girl and I got on with our day too. After breakfast, I decided to take her to the park - a normal activity - but as we walked there I started to feel some pressure. We were only at the park for 15 minutes or so when I called it quits and loaded her back into the stroller to bring her home. Once there, I called the hubs and asked if he could come home early, and blessedly, he said he could. Contractions were about 7-10 minutes apart, and all I could think was, "Great. This is exactly like the little girl's labor." I gave my doula a call as well and she said she would come and visit after dinner. She and I went for a walk in the evening and the contractions stayed constant - and we both agreed that this labor was shaping up to be a lot like my first one. This was not exactly what I wanted to hear - as my labor with her was almost 2 days long - but if that's what it was going to be, then at least I knew what I could do that night: have a glass of wine and a long shower! And now this is where my memory fails me... I don't think I did either. But at 3 in the morning I did email the high school students that I was tutoring, to cancel my sessions with them and send their monthly bill! I felt proud of myself to tie up those loose ends. :)

The next morning, I was mentally preparing myself for a long day because if it was going to go down anything like the first time, then I was still going to have nearly 20 more hours of labor ahead of me. But my doula had a different plan: she made the observation that the last time we had tried all sorts of things to make labor progress and it didn't really seem to do much. She even thought that it may have irritated things and interfered with my body's processes. So this time around she recommended that I rest as much as possible. We both thought that resting may not work so well with a toddler running around, so I asked my husband if he could stay home from work again and he agreed. I then plonked myself down on the couch and let the contractions continue to wash over me as they had all night long. But somewhere around 10 or 11 I noticed they were coming faster and that, to cope, I was using my heel to dig out the cushion of the sofa. I texted the change to my doula. And then I began to fixate on my daughter's nap time: once she goes down for a nap, I'll get to work I kept thinking. My doula said she would come over then too.

Before she arrived though, I needed to move myself to the back room. I didn't feel I could hold it together in the front room anymore and I wanted to seclude myself. I started making some "working noises" and felt like the only place where I could work and feel comfortable was practically hiding behind the bed. Writing these things down now, I see that I really should have put it together that things were *not* going the way they did the first time around, but my mind was just totally stuck on the thought that they were.

When my doula arrived, I was starting to lose the ability to stay on top of my contractions. I'd have a few that I could work through, and then one would come that would just knock me off my "pedestal" (if you will). She suggested I move to the bathroom and it took a lot of mental energy to get myself there. I was now making a lot of "working noises" and if my daughter wasn't already awake, then I'm sure I woke her up from her nap. Either way, once she was up, I knew I couldn't stay. I just couldn't work with her in the house. I had to get away. So I asked my husband to get my sister to come and watch the wee girl, so we could head to the birth center.

Unbeknownst to us, my doula was beginning to think that we wouldn't make it to the birth center, but she wisely let us keep on our path...

My sister was at Costco when she received the call from my husband. And in his typical, uber-considerate fashion, he told her to just come as soon as she was done... but thankfully she heard something in my doula's voice in the background that made her drop all her shopping and high-tail it to our house. Thank goodness for womanly intuition!

I was now working completely on holding it together, so we could get to the birth center. Somehow in the midst of contractions that were totally rocking me, I managed to give a kiss to my daughter and go get in the car. The whole way there I was praying that I would be far enough along to be admitted, because I was still thinking things were going like "last time". Hee hee. Ho ho. When we got to the birth center and the midwife checked me I was 9 cm. Fully dilated.  We all cheered! And then I doubled-over with another contraction.

One might think that at this point, things should have gone pretty quickly. And I guess they did... but it was still another 3 hours before John was born. In that time everyone was so wonderful and doing their best to make me comfortable, but I was not to be comforted. I was hot - they turned on a fan - I snapped at them to turn it off. I needed to hang on my husband, I needed him to absolutely not touch me. I needed to stand. I needed to sit. I needed to be on all fours. I needed to lie down. And then... in one fell swoop, as I was lying on my side, the whopper of all contractions smashed into me and I vomited and contracted with such force that my water broke... and shot all the way across the room, hitting the wall opposite the bed. This may be a sick wish, but I really do wish we could have videotaped the birth, just so I could have seen what that looked like! My midwife was totally awesome and just commented, "The water is clear - just what we want to see." What. A. Boss.

After that I tried using the birthing stool - which was Great. I FINALLY felt like I was doing something good! But the midwife didn't want me to give birth there, so with great reluctance and many tears, I moved to the bed. But true to her word, not ten minutes later, John was born into the world at 7:37 pm with much shouts and rejoicing!

Holding him, all I could say was, "I love you John. Mommy loves you!" over and over again. And I did! (And I do) The aftermath of his birth was much quieter than his sister's - which was a nice counterpoint to the excitement just prior to his arrival. We were the only couple in the center that night, so there was no rushing about, or nurses coming in and out of our room. They just quietly cleaned me up while I held my little boy. At 7 lbs 8 oz, he was actually smaller than his sister - which surprised me, given the pain I felt on his exit! But in an odd twist, even though the pain I felt was considerably more intense than what I felt with his sister, I didn't tear nearly as much. Also, because he came quicker than his sister, I was able to order dinner! Veggie korma with rice and naan... so much yum. I ate. I napped. And sometime after midnight we were discharged and sent home. Our little girl went to bed an only child, and woke up a big sister!

We've been in love ever since.

Monday, December 14, 2015

All the Pretty Lights - St Lucy's day - December 13

Happy (belated) Santa Lucia day!
I was introduced to Sankta Lucia (Swedish for Saint Lucy) when I went to college. Our college is descended from Swedish Lutheran missionaries to the United States, so some Swedish customs still have a strong hold on the denomination.  Celebrating St Lucy's day is one of them - and while I was there, I absolutely loved the whole spectacle. Each year the choir would participate in the Santa Lucia festival with the girls dressed in white gowns (with tinsel - the red sash and wreath is only for Santa Lucia) and the men processing in holding stars from a pole. The whole concert would be done by candlelight and most years there was snow outside the chapel where it was held, so it was all very lovely.
Don't get your tinsel in a tangle (1998)
So because of these prior experiences, Santa Lucia's feast day was one that I really wanted to celebrate this year. However, I was feeling quite bummed that I wasn't going to able to make it work (at least not in traditional Scandinavian fashion) since the hubby was going to be out of town for the whole first half of December. (Translation: I wouldn't have his help corralling the littles while I went nuts trying to find a white nightgown with a red sash and candlelit wreath to wear on my head, while baking Lucia buns and making coffee that no one in my house will eat or drink).  But in yet another serendipitous coincidence, I unwittingly scheduled our annual "Cookies, Cocoa and Christmas lights" party on St Lucy's feast day. And once I realized that I had done that I had a mini-revelation: our annual party is celebrated quite similarly to the Scandinavian one! We have our baked goods... our hot drinks... and then we enjoy beautiful Christmas lights in the dark of night.  We just happen to have our party at night instead of in the morning. Nevertheless, I think the Swedish Lucy would still approve. At least, I hope so, because this is how we'll celebrate her day from now on. (But maybe I'll still have a Lucia bun and coffee for myself... because that's what *I* like to do!) God Jul, everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What I Would Share on FB if I was on FB

Happy 2nd Week of Advent!

To... whoever you are who may be reading this. :)

I signed off of Facebook this Advent in the hopes of spiritually preparing myself for Christmas, but unfortunately, and all too predictably, I'm only finding out how much I *loved* to surf the Facebooks in my down moments. Today has been particularly hard, hence why I'm writing this blog post. ;)

So what have I been doing/reading since I'm not on FB? Well, let me play a little show and tell...


Expecting During Advent: The Tender and Terrifying Truth

This post by Laura is lovely. It closes with some words by Madeleine L'Engle that I found particularly challenging: "Yet Love still takes the risk of birth." Such a good meditation on the darker side of Advent.


I Don't Care How You Advent

Bonnie's post was the first I saw that touched on the theme of "You Don't Have To Do It All" and I liked how she said it. But apparently it didn't sink in because I still needed to read


Baby Steps to Living Liturgically

Kelly's post. It was almost like she stepped into my head:
"Okay, you’re married, have a young family and after stumbling across some Catholic mommy blogs you want to celebrate the liturgical year like Kool and the Gang. You’ve bought some Tomie dePaola books, downloaded coloring pages, and attempted a new recipe but thus far your efforts only lead to tears of frustration and feelings of being the worst Catholic in the world..."
So where we differ here is that I haven't bought any Tomie dePaola books. I've bought this one though.  And this one. And this one. But not any of Tomie's... yet. So the paragraph above doesn't describe me at all. Except that it does. So that's why I read it two times over and encourage you to do the same.


Finally: The Story of Jake the Dog

This lady cracks me up. NFP dog!! HA!!


How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings

One of these links is not like the others... Seriously, though. We gotta do something about this.


If I Believe in Water But Will Not Drink...

I think what I liked about this one was that I was 1) surprised by who wrote it (it just didn't sound like her at all) and 2) I was challenged (again) to make use of the sacraments. Confession: I need to go to Confession. I don't know how to make it work with my two littles, but if I can wrangle them to Mass by myself then I can (and should) find a way.



Well, I have to get my social media fix somehow! (sigh.) ;)

Thanks to Kelly for hosting SQT yet again and letting me tag my little blog along too...

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Things That Have Been Taking Up Brain Space...

(if there's 7 of 'em, we'll make it a 7QT - and that's a big IF. So we'll see...)

I just took a moment to reread my last post about how we're making our Catholic family more... um, Catholic-ey (Catholickey? Catholocist-like?). And I had to chuckle because just last night I was lamenting to my husband that I didn't think I was doing a good enough job. Re-reading the post, though, encouraged me that we *are* working on it and I must remember that if I'm seeking perfection then I'm entirely off-base.
Any advice you might have wanted to give me about learning to do something new has now
been usurped by this card. Sorry. (This woman gets me.)

Jesse Tree Update! Things are progressing along nicely I think!
I actually have more than just these 5 done... but the other pictures are hiding somewhere on my phone. These ones look the best though.

Just one piece of advice... do not craft, drink wine and listen to podcasts at the same time. Or *this* might happen:
Add this to my "Hall of Shame"

Where (contrary to what -1- says) I am failing as a Catholic: The Spiritual Works of Mercy
While a lot of these need work, it's that last one - praying for the dead that I've really been thinking about. The Catholic church specifically sets aside the month of November to pray for the dead - for which many of my friends will probably ask, "Why?" And to be honest, my friends, I was right there with you. And kinda still am... but kinda am not.
It has to do with that subject that I feel no one I know wants to talk about: purgatory (and on a related note, indulgences). Purgatory is the place where saved souls "go" before they are accepted into the presence of God. (This is not the same as Limbo - something which the Church has never taught as official doctrine - and for which I would encourage you to read this post (especially the quote at the end from St Bernard))
James Martin, SJ helped me understand the purpose of purgatory a little bit better when he posted on Facebook:
"Purgatory is a time of preparation for entrance into heaven. It comes from the same root as the word for "purgation," and in this case is a kind of ridding ourselves of our sinfulness. To put it in the most homey way, which of us here, should we, say suddenly get hit by a bus after coming from a daily Mass, feel completely ready to meet God? On the other hand, exiting church and going immediately to heaven is probably not such a bad way of presenting yourself to God! You say, “Hey look, I just came from Mass!”
But the point is that most of us are probably not completely prepared to meet our Creator, even after many years of prayer, penance and preparation. And for those of us who are guilty of great sins, and who have turned away from God in a serious way, the process of purgatory is probably even longer, or, to put more accurately--since there's no time in heaven--more complete. Sin is a complete turning away from God, and it may take some time for people who have lived sinful lives a while before they can admit their sinfulness, and accept God's forgiveness"
And this is why we pray for the dead: we all need grace to accept God's mercy. It's something I have heard in almost every bible study I've ever done (and something my experience bears witness to) God's mercy is radical and oftentimes hard to accept. We need His grace to accept his Gift. All of us, dead and alive. I'll be honest. It's still an odd thought to me. But if there's something I can do about it, then I want to do it.

Which brings me to the indulgences part. The week following All Souls Day (not to be confused with All Saints day) the Church grants special indulgences for those who specifically commit themselves to praying for All The Souls by going to a cemetery and praying for the departed.

This was a big "Woah. Woah WOAH. Hold up." moment for me. I had thought indulgences had been reformed out with the Reformation. But, to my surprise, they have not. They are still very much a part of church teaching (and not of the part that I can choose whether I want to believe it or not - cause guess what? There are actually some church teachings that the church says "You can believe this if you want to, but if you don't want to, no biggie."  Like you, I'm doubly surprised.)

But unlike purgatory, indulgences baffle me. Because I can't just say the prayer and call it good. There are stipulations before the indulgence can be granted (by who? and how? and for what, again? So many questions.) So I'm still doing my research. Really, I'm only bringing it up because the title of this post was "Things that have been taking up brain space" and this ranks right up there.

So, uhm... yeah. I'm just going to leave this right.... here.

My little ones are growing up right before my eyes. This week, both of my chilluns made huge (in my mind) milestones. First, the spitfire went to the doctor's office for her yearly checkup and she cooperated with the nurse and didn't cry! (Well, until she got her flu shot, but that's to be expected.) I was stunned, but was doing my absolute best to remain and cool and confident on the outside while inside I was jumping all around wanting to celebrate how my little girl was being so brave. We talked it up all the way home and to everyone we met that day though. I'm so proud of her.

And then a couple days later the little dude started for-reals-crawling! He's been army crawling since he was 6 months, but on Wednesday night he army crawled into his sister's room and then when I called for him, he right on proper crawled his way out. It was truly like a switch had flipped. Yet it didn't happen over night - it happened in a post-nap-pre-dinner moment. My eyes still bug out at the thought of it.

Facebook. It's been taking up far too much brain space. I turned off notifications on my phone for it, which helped a little, but still it's too big of a time sink.  I think I might need an intervention or something. Any help here friends?

Ok, I just gotta pull a 7th one out here because, I'm sooo close! Think think think! What else has been taking up space in my brain?

Oh... I know. *insert sly smile here*

And no, it's nothing like that! (Shame on you.)

It's just simply the best Chicken Pot Pie ever. Really. Fall's here everyone, so go ahead and give this one a try. You will love it. (and yes, it's 2 teaspoons sherry. and yes, it's completely necessary.)

Print Recipe

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

Course: Main Course
Serves: 6


  • For the filling
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek chopped
  • 1 cup onions chopped into small dice
  • 1 cup carrots chopped into small dice
  • 1 12 cups green beans cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 12 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock hot
  • 1 cup whole milk warmed
  • 2 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups shredded chicken
  • 3 hard boiled eggs peeled and sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For the topping
  • 1 12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 12 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 12 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted
  • 12 cup whole milk or 2%


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. For the filling, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot on medium heat. Add the leeks, onions, and carrots and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the green beans in a pot of salted boiling water until tender and bright green, about 5-7 minutes (see note). Drain the beans and set aside.Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the same bowl as the green beans, season with salt, and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until a thick paste forms. Continue stirring for a minute or so. Add the chicken stock and milk and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the sherry, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the vegetables and cooked chicken into the cream sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Seriously, don't go light on the salt here, but taste as you go.) Pour the filling into a 2- to 3-quart greased casserole dish. Arrange the boiled egg slices over the top.
  4. For the topping, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and melted butter, and whisk until combined. (Just a warning, the batter will seem fairly runny. That's okay.) Pour the batter evenly over the casserole dish.
  5. Bake the pot pie for 45 minutes, until the biscuit topping is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Notes:
  7. • I poached 4 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs with aromatics--carrots, celery, onions--until cooked through. I shredded the chicken and used the stock for the pot pie. (I also added the remaining bones and extra chicken back to the pot with more water to make additional stock for using later.)
  8. • For extra flavor, blanch the green beans in the reserved stock from poaching the chicken instead of boiling water.

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So there it is! 7 Quick Takes. Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum has more (and probably better ones) to read, so share the click-thru-love.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How We're Making a Catholic Family (in 7 Quick Takes)

Sometimes I feel more like a convert to this faith than a revert. Case in point, I said my *first* Rosary last night. First! I mean, I've had the Hail Mary memorized for a long time and all the other prayers too, but I've never strung them together while contemplating the appropriate mysteries... ever. It was eye-opening. (And I've never been so aware of my pride as when doing so: "Oh wow! Look I'm doing this! I'm actually doing this!" "I'll totally have to write a post about that insight I just had." Et cetera et cetera et cetera...)
But my point was/is... the Catholic tradition is DEEP and there is so much that I've either never heard of, or only ever just touched on. So when the husband and I decided to come back to the church, we started looking at how we were going raise our family Catholic. So far this is what we've come up with:
- 1 -

Weekly Mass. At least this one was a no-brainer. However, that doesn't mean it's been easy. How can it be with a 3 year old and a 9 month old? But to make it work, we bring lots of snacks for the 3 year old, a couple books, and every once in a while, the 8 year old cousin. The cousin is especially good at getting the 3 y.o. to go to the children's liturgy. (Which can we take a moment to appreciate the children's liturgy?! Neither my husband nor I ever had that growing up, and I think it's just so neat. To me it's the best of both worlds: the children are with us for the majority of the Mass, but we also get a wee break to actually hear the Word and homily. Now to just get the Spitfire to attend it more... ;) )

- 2 -

Catholic media. Books, radio, web, podcasts... you name it, I've been on it. This is where I definitely feel like more of a convert. Truly, it's like a whole new world has been opened to me. Who knew Catholics write their own books/blogs/news? *winky smiley* It seems a little silly to say that now, but prior to this year the only (and I mean only) Catholic writer that I knew of was Fr James Martin, SJ (and not a bad one to start with, if you're like me and don't really know any). On the flipside, I feel I could provide you with at least a soundbite opinion for every Christian (non-Catholic) writer out there. Probably the inevitable result of spending one's childhood in the Family Christian Bookstore, but I digress.
It's been through Catholic creators (my catch-all term) like Matthew Kelly, Scott Hahn, Kendra Tierney, Bonnie Engstrom, Heather Renshaw that we are starting to find our family's place in this Catholic world.  So for them, I am grateful.

- 3 -

Catholic art. "Why should this even be a thing?" you may ask. And to be honest, this is really a work in progress still, as decorating anything (cakes, cards, walls) is not my strong suit. But I think what you hang on your wall shows people what you value most. Is it pictures of family? Places you've been? Beautiful landscapes? Fine art? Plus, you only put the things you enjoy looking at on your wall. So, decor not only communicates something about you to others, but it also adds a positive note to your life and day by looking at it. Our first piece of Catholic wall art was my great aunt's crucifix (or maybe cross?) that we hung up in our office (now make-shift baby room). When she died it was one of the few things that went unclaimed... not that I blame anyone in my family for that. It is, shall we say, different? When I look at it, I imagine her praying beneath it. So I couldn't bare the thought of it going to Goodwill, or worse, the dump.  So I brought it home with me and now it watches over the little dude while he (sometimes) sleeps.
Next came this print from Audrey Eclectic that I love. And most recently, I won another print from her as well of Saint Therese of Liseaux! I don't know where to hang that one though... maybe in the wee girl's room?
My hope, though, is that we will eventually have a space dedicated to displaying art that lifts our hearts and minds to Jesus... a little altar or oratory, if you will. It's on the to-do list.

- 4 -

Celebrating the Liturgical Year. Another work in progress (I was going to include a link here, but um, this is exactly what my blog is all about... so feel free to click around and see what we've done!) Already I know more about some saints than just their names as a result of trying to celebrate their feast days. For this, I rely heavily on the Carrots for Michaelmas and Catholic All Year blogs for inspriation/direction. Right now, we're really just doing what they do. But I think that as we continue to do this, we will find saints that we have a particular affinity to, and ways to celebrate that work for us.
Of course, the next big season coming up is Advent and for that a friend and I have a Jesse Tree project in the works. (Sure hope I'll be able to get my part done before Advent begins! November 29th if you're curious)

- 5 -

Catholic Prayer. Hmm.... this really should have been #2 after going to Mass, huh? Because prayer is important! But as I mentioned before, Catholic prayers (like the Rosary) are still pretty new to me. Words like "Morning Offering" and "Divine Chaplet" are still just that... words signifying things I know nothing about. Yet. Again, file this under "Working On It."  One thing that I have done though is join a prayer group called  Right now we're doing the Novena to St Jude (the saint of "lost causes") and it's been such a consolation. Also, I think I'm beginning to see answers to the prayers I've made during this novena; and when you see answered prayer, it's such a faith builder! (Which is probably the point?)
Also, since October is the month devoted to the Rosary, I feel like I should give a shout out to the app that helped me pray the Rosary for the first time: Touch Rosary. A quality app that is free! Amazing to think someone put all that time into making this app and is not asking for any money from it. (And I'm not being paid to say that either.)

- 6 -

Family Traditions. We have two small traditions: prayer before meals and also lighting a candle at dinner time to pray for our friends and family. I love how my daughter gets excited about lighting the candle and saying who we're praying for. She will even remind us to pray for certain friends if it looks like we're forgetting! She also gets very excited about blowing the candle out at the end of dinner - for which we keep reminding her that *everyone* needs to be finished with dinner before we do that (and everyone includes her!).
A note about the picture above: the block on top of the napkins is actually a prayer cube from the Iona Community. It's one of our favorite things to offer children when they eat with us ("Here, you can pick the prayer we will say for grace today.") This was something the hubs picked up on our adventure there, and I'm so glad he did.

- 7 -

Your thoughts? I'm sure there are myriads of other things out there that we can (and maybe should) do. What do you think we've missed? Or what are some things that you do with your family? I would love to hear them. And thank you in advance for your comment!

From our family to yours: thanks for reading! :)
This was my Seven Quick Takes for the week. Kelly is still running her Link-tober fest, so hop on over there to see more. And to answer her bonus question: last week's 7QT looks to be the most popular with a whopping 151 views (as of today... and truly, that number is staggering and proves that it's not just my mother who is reading this blog. Cool. Thanks again.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Seven Quick Takes on Timing - 7th anniversary edition

Seven years today... I love this man!

We're talking about God's timing this week over at Blessed is She and today is my 7-year anniversary with the hubs... just in time for a Seven Quick Takes. The timing (heh heh) of these couldn't be better, as my original plan for the 7QT wouldn't have been long enough and my one thought on God's timing wouldn't have warranted a blog post of its own either. But, *together*... well, we'll see!

- 1 -

Is there one word that can describe God's timing? I believe yes, there is. If our God knows the beginning from the end and everything inbetween, then I have to believe that God's timing is Perfect.  But when job offers don't come when needed, or when babies arrive "early", or when Mr. Right still seems way way off, or even just while waiting for the tea to steep, knowing that God's timing is perfect is hard to remember when it's not my timing. So after reading an article on creating computer passwords to change your life - I decided to use the fact that God's timing is Perfect as the mantra I would repeat to myself every day when I switched on my computer. (That's not exactly my pass phrase by the way... wouldn't want you to go logging into Amazon on a spending spree, now would I? ;) )  And I will testify: typing this phrase nearly every day for the past seven years has changed me. Knowing that God's timing is Perfect has sunk into my very being - so much so that I'm much more at peace when things aren't working on my time table. And when I'm not at peace... well, then I'm no more than 24 hours away from a typed reminder to myself that God's got it all under control.

- 2 -

About that timing thing... back in 2002, I spent a summer in Scotland working for a tech company. I met many lovely people, went to a few concerts, traveled the country. But (contrary to some of my friends' predictions) I didn't meet my husband. Though I could have! He worked at that same company, on the same floor as me, with the same people I worked with. In fact, he had to pass my desk every day to get to his own desk! Yeah... no. I didn't meet him until he moved to California 5 years later. So I guess I will always wonder: were we supposed to meet in Scotland but we messed it up and then God had to make it happen again in California? Or... oh. wait. I think I answered my own question already (see #1).

- 3 -
Our little home... back when it had a lawn... and a tree... and a black car...
Things I love about God's timing: it's perfect. Like when we were in the market for a house... I saw a little gem of a home over the internet while we were away visiting family. It was in quite a state and clearly needed work, but the location was perfect, the size was perfect and the price was in our budget. I immediately started planning all the renovations and decorating we would do. But (and this is a big one) we couldn't do anything about it because we were out of the country. So we saved it in our list of favorites and hoped it would still be there when we got back. It wasn't. I was heartbroken. The next few months after that were pretty bleak in the house hunting - we kept getting beat out and out bid. Just when I was getting ready to throw in the towel, what should appear on Redfin but that house again! All spiffied, and reno'd and beautiful like! The people who had bought it were house-flippers and they did a great job. So we jumped on it and amazingly, for the first time in nearly a year of house hunting, we were the first ones to make an offer and (more importantly) it was accepted! Funny how things work out...

- 3 -

Lest you begin to think my life is all charmed... Timing: 2 minutes. This was how long I could take a shower in our new home before we would run out of hot water. Even though we clearly had a 30-gallon hot water heater sitting in our home, what we couldn't see was that it was nearly 100% full of silt and mineral deposits. Thus, not even one month after moving into our first home we had to buy and install a new hot water heater... and then redo the plumbing... and then the electrics... and then the insulation... and then the sewer lines... OY. Home ownership is expensive y'all.

- 4 -

Best example of God using time to perfect a married couple: Back in college, one of my professors shared his and his wife's secret to solving problems in their marriage. Whenever they disagreed on an issue and couldn't seem to talk it through, they would choose a time period (like a week) where they would each pray about the situation and intentionally listen for God's heart on the subject. During the week they would not allow themselves to talk about that issue at all (except with God in prayer). Then after that week they would write down what they heard and come back together to share. If what they shared didn't match, then they repeated the process until it did.  So even if they both flip-flopped on the issue, each taking the other person's side, that didn't count. They both had to come to the same conclusion, separately, before they could move forward. I thought then that it was a beautiful problem solving strategy. Still do.

- 5 -

Something I've always known, but learned again this week: when choosing bake times for brownies, always choose the smaller amount and, if baking with whole grains, subtract a minute. Nobody likes an overcooked brownie. Nobody.

- 6 -

Babies have a timing all of their own, don't they? I'm still amazed with Little Dude's mobility - especially when compared to his sister. She stood up for the first time at 10 months and didn't (wouldn't?) start walking until 13 months. This guy is 8 months and getting ready to start cruising on the furniture.
Oh hey mom... just standing here beside the coffee table...
On the other hand, when it comes to food, Little Dude couldn't care less about solids. He is *all* about the booby. Contrast that with his older sister who was (at this age) happily eating mashed up ratatouille.

Ah well. Take them as they come, right?

- 7 -

This week the bonus question is "Who is your favorite blogger that you discovered through 7QT?" And this one is kinda hard to answer, because the TIMING of when I found all these blogs is so jumbled. (See what I did there?) I feel like all of my favorite blogs have mentioned 7QT at some point, but whether I found them through 7QT or found them in some other way and then read one of their 7QT posts... it's hard to remember. But I will say that the day I figured out what 7QT was and, relatedly, what in the world a "link up" was and (also related) who the mysterious "Kelly" was... well, that was a happy moment indeed. As my daughter's 2nd favorite cartoon character might say, "Turkey shout, I figured it out!!"
Fig the Fox likes "This Ain't the Lyceum" Head there for more 7QT!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Domestic life in Seven Quick Takes

Can you post your 7 Quick Takes a day after the fact? We shall find out...

- 1 -
Today (as in coming up in the next 2 hours) the spitfire will be taking her first ever Swim Class! I'm not going to lie.. I'm a little bit nervous about how it's going to go. She has spent pretty much her whole life avoiding water... bathtimes (up until only very recently) were torturous for all involved. But her auntie said that *she* would take the little one into the pool, so I was all up for that - except today Auntie is off celebrating her wedding anniversary. Pfft. Whatever, Auntie. Go party while we go scream in the pool. Oh. Wait. I mean Swim. Swim in the pool. (Prayers please)

- 2 -
Shh, kitty... I have 20 minutes before the husband expects me home...
Does anyone else feel like they have to "steal" time to themselves? Yesterday's tutoring session ended a half-hour early, so instead of heading home I sneakily (gleefully) headed off to the local coffee shop and indulged in my new favorite drink: the iced matcha latte. I love the green color. (And, if I'm being honest, I kinda like the looks I get when I pick up my drink... most people's faces seem to be saying "What the what? Why is your drink GREEN?" Their faces may or may not also be saying, "Don't you know this is a Coffee Drinking Establishment?" To which I mentally reply that it's really more a Caffeine Drinking Establishment and I like my caffeine green as the leaf it came from. Thank you very much. *SLURP*)

- 3 -
According to all the signs outside said Coffee Drinking Establishments, it is (apparently) Fall! And if the coffee shops weren't telling me as much, then the Trader Joe's flyer was. I counted at least 4 full pages of pumpkin-laced products (including Pumpkin Trader Joe's O's???) in their latest flyer! I like my pumpkin, but maybe we're going a bit too far?  Personally I'd like to see the persimmon make some headway into the Fall Foodie Fray. I saw a recipe for chocolate persimmon muffins that sounds pretty glorious to me...

- 4 -
The little dude is 8 months old and pulling himself to standing!! I can't handle this. The spitfire didn't even attempt this til 10 months and then it was another 3 before she started walking (and she never did the "cruising" thing). This guy is out to blow all her records away and walk himself right off a cliff (ahem... I mean the front steps, which may as well be a cliff considering what it does to my heart when I think about it.) (More prayers please)

- 5 -
While we're talking about the little dude... we just applied for his UK passport and this was the picture we sent in...

Isn't he the cutest? And for fun here's his sister when she received her passport...

(Also, notice how she's *sitting*... gosh that was a beautiful thing. A baby. SITTING. Little dude doesn't know the meaning of these words)

- 6 -
I don't usually keep 2 books going at once, but in addition to the book I mentioned last week, I am also reading Wearing God by Lauren Winner. I just finished the chapter on our "God who smells" and it is truly fascinating. Winner goes through the Old and New Testaments gleaning out all the references to smells and smelling and explores what it means to say that we have a God who smells (both the action of smelling and also the act of emitting a smell).  I fell in love with this author when she released her first book "Girl Meets God" where she chronicled her experience of converting to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism. She is a Biblical scholar in the best way because of her life-journey and so I highly recommend any of her books to you.

- 7 -
Well, I'm running out of time... gotta go put the little dude down for his nap and the spitfire into a swimsuit. But before I go, the bonus question this week was/is, "How many 7QTs have you posted?" So, counting this one that would make.... 2! (Rawkin' it :) ) Weekend domestic life at its best. Head on over to This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7QT!

Friday, October 2, 2015

2 Feasts in 5 Days = ...7QT?

When did you post your first "Seven Quick Takes"?

Answer: right NOW. (Cue the dramatic news music score. Or something.)

- 1 -

What a long week, I tell ya. I think a picture of the front room from today will speak the 1000 words on this topic:

Yes. It's been that kind of day/week.

- 2 -

But tonight is girls' night, and I am soo looking forward to that! The restaurant that we're going to has the most amazing spare ribs on a salad that I think even the most die-hard carnivore would love. Plus they have a whole *wall* of dessert options - to which I say, "Thank you Jesus for breastfeeding!" (The little dude will love this tonight).

- 3 -

We had Carrots for Michaelmas and it was Knot bad! Thank you to Haley and Bonnie for giving poor-planning me a heads up about Michaelmas this week. And they were right: the whiskey glazed carrots are truly yummy. The spitfire even ate one before she realized it was a carrot. And as it just so happened, we had 2 pounds of carrots that needed to be used pronto, plus a couple bottles of whiskey leftover from the FIL's last visit... so truly, providence at its finest!

And then, just to warm this mama's heart, we had our first real family prayer before the meal! (Well, that is, since becoming a family of 4 eight months ago.) Yup, even the little dude held hands and *stayed still and silent* for the whole prayer. Un-be-lieve-able. If I could have taken a picture, I would have! (But I was praying. We all were :) )

- 4 -

I feel I may be the last one to this... but have any of y'all heard of Scott Hahn? (OK. Yes. I know I'm the last one to this... anyway!) I'm reading his book Lord, Have Mercy and I'm getting a little blown away. It's a little like the feeling I had back in high school calculus when everything just *clicked* and I finally figured out "why we had to do all those things we had to do". It was a turning point for me and my relationship with math, much like I think this book will be for me and my relationship with the Church. But since I'm not done with it yet, I think I shall have to save any more thoughts about it for another post.

- 5 -

"Gosh, I love the French!"

This was my exclamation after my daughter ate her "Croque Monsieur" with NO pushback whatsoever (weird name, white sauce and all). This time, thanks to Kendra for her menu idea to celebrate St Therese's feast day. We ate it with sweet potato fries - which I don't think you'll ever find happening in France - much to their loss. It was delicious.

- 6 -

Uh oh. I'm running out of things to talk about. Quick! A cat! from 1986!

Really? They make calendars out of this stuff now?

- 7 -

I actually made it to the craft store this week to price out the supplies needed for making a Jesse Tree. I don't know... this is looking far too crafty for the likes of me. Maybe I'll just buy myself one of these kits. Except that I don't like that it only comes with 25 ornaments.  I would really like it to follow the actual Advent season.  So... maybe someone out there can give me some pointers?!

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for her Link-tober Fest!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Francis - my thoughts

Pope Francis waves to the crowd at the end of Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Catholic Guy said "What you take away from this week with the Pope says more about you than it does about Pope Francis."

Well, if that's true, then I'm not sure what to think about myself exactly.

First of all, I really wanted to pay attention more this past week. I wanted to listen to the mass where Father Junipero Serra (now St Junipero Serra) was canonized. But I missed it.

I really wanted to hear his address to congress. But I only read it online.

I didn't even know he was addressing the United Nations!

And I only just caught the end of his homily at his last mass, as well as his final blessing, before leaving the United States.

Put all that together, and the phrase that comes to mind is the one about "good intentions".  (And a road. That doesn't go anywhere particularly nice.) Maybe that's why I have been close to tears all day.

It started this morning in mass. The "spitfire" was actually doing quite well - she sat with us (mostly) and minded us (mostly). But during the "Our Father" both her and her brother started acting up: he, by pulling on my earrings and trying to make out with my chin (The slobber!!); she, with the incessant coughing and dropping her Duplo blocks on the tile floor. (Note to self: Even 4 Duplo blocks are too many for a toddler in a church with tile floors.) We got to the part about forgiving trespasses and I just about lost it laughing. We had to look ridiculous - what with me getting my ear yanked off, and the husband reaching down four times in a row to confiscate each noisy block that had "fallen". I giggled the rest of the way through the prayer (my saving grace being that we were singing the prayer today so no one could me).

But then, during the celebration of the Eucharist, we sang a song that brought me to tears. I had never heard it before yet the melody so perfectly fit the words, that I had it in my heart for the rest of the day: "I know there will be a day of peace... for this, let us all work and pray." It was this thought of working and praying for the day of peace that we know will come... it so beautifully evoked the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus spoke about as both "present" and "not yet". As I held my little girl, my heart was filled with longing for this day to be realized for her sake. The song became my prayer and my tears (I hope) baptized it.

I think it fit in well with Pope Francis' message while he was here. It seemed that with every speech and action, he communicated volumes on the dignity and worthiness of each human life. Every baby kissed, inmate spoken with, political figure greeted, 'common joe' waved at - it all said the same thing: "I see you! I *want* to see you! We only have a moment... may we bless each other in it!" I have no doubt that his care and smiles and blessings and exhortations were genuine. This, I believe, is what moved me to tears as he pronouced his final blessing at the mass yesterday- I felt loved and humbled and encouraged to love better.

And then, he was gone! Well, from American soil that is. And that was when I nearly cried again. This time I was on my way to the grocery store and listening to "Pope Radio's" sign off (Sirius XM's Catholic Channel coverage of His Holiness's week in the US). One of the hosts, Jennifer Fulwiler, shared that she was also teary eyed at that moment, so I felt in good company. But I was surprised at myself. Like I said, I didn't pay attention to his visit nearly as much as I had intended (or, one could argue, barely at all) - so why I should have felt so much emotion at his departure baffled me at first.  But now, after a bit of processing, I can see that it's love. I love this man of God who has such a heart of compassion! I'm so grateful that he came to the U.S. and said the things he said, and did the things he did. He has blessed us and exhorted us to continue in the work that he is also doing: to love all, especially the poor, and to work for that "day of peace". I think that is good and true and right and I hope I will be able to live into that example that he left.

And... Lord willing, I also hope to see him in Dublin in 2018!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Blessings - Edible and Otherwise

You may have noticed I've alluded a couple times now to my husband having a surgery earlier in the summer - but out of respect for him, I've never gone into any detail about it. And.... I still won't. (ha! This must definitely be breaking a blogger rule somewhere. "Don't bring it up if you don't want to talk about it." Or something like that.)

But suffice it to say his surgery kept him out of commission for quite a while, and during that time wrangling the 2 kiddos became my 24/7 responsibility. I was so nervous about this that prior to the surgery that I solicted anyone and everyone's prayers: for my hubby's recovery and adjustment, for my wee ones to have extra grace with Daddy, and strength, endurance and *joy* for me.

One of the first places I took these requests was to my friends and family. (OK, I first took them to God... but after that, then I took them to friends and family). I was so humbled to immediately receive those prayers and then some! (More on that in a minute).

But I also did something I never had before - I shared them with folks on a website: Right before his surgery, the folks at PrayMoreNovenas announced that their next novena would be to St. Anne - the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. She is often asked (by single women) for help in finding a spouse, but she has also been known to intercede for people in need of healing.  In addition to this, the novena was perfectly (miraculously?) timed to go for the 9 days prior to my husband's surgery. Well, this sounded like more than just a coincidence to me so I logged on and typed in my prayer requests, and hit "Publish".

I have to admit: praying novenas, especially to saints, is still very new to me. Because it's so new, my senses are heightened and I'm paying close attention to everything I say and do. Well, come to find out I have some phrases that I use in prayer that come out, just on auto-pilot, that are really not appropriate in a prayer to a saint (like St Anne for instance).  Like, I say "Lord". A. Lot. If anyone else were to be listening to me pray they would think that I have either forgotten who I was talking to, or that I think Jesus has nodded off and needs to be snapped back to attention. It's bad.  So I learned I have to really pay attention to what I'm saying.

In any case, praying this novena to St. Anne was a great consolation to me. As was having my friends pray for us as well! They loved on us with prayers and food - and I can say with certainty - our bodies and souls were blessed. My husband especially loved our friend Monica's chicken bites that he had to have the recipe - which he doesn't often say things like that! So you can trust that this one is a keeper.
Print Recipe

Monica's Breaded Chicken Bites

Course: Main Course
Serves: 4


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 24 Ritz crackers (Original, whole wheat or a combination)
  • 12 cup grated parmesan
  • 12 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp thyme scant
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 12 cup butter melted (or avocado oil or EVOO)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put crackers, salt, thyme and basil into a gallon ziploc bag. Close bag and crush crackers into crumbs.
  3. Add parmesan to bag and mix thoroughly.
  4. Cut chicken into strips and coat in butter (or oil).
  5. Toss 5-6 strips into the bag and shake to coat. Remove and place on baking sheet.
  6. Repeat till all strips of chicken are used.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is done.

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Oh, and the best part? Our prayers were answered!! Praise be to our Lord and Savior for hearing the prayers of His saints.

Monday, September 7, 2015

All the things.

So many times over this last month I have thought to myself, "I should write a post about that...." But of course, as so often is the case with me, I find other things to do (or they find me - ahem, I'm looking at you little ones)
Who... us??
So here, in the order that they are coming out of my head (not necessarily in any particular order) are those things:

1. Blessed Brunch - Bezerkley style

...which means no brunch - just afternoon coffee break. :) However there was some super delicious quiche that I should have either gone back for seconds of, or asked the recipe for, but I digress.
I had emailed the BIS-folks back in July about hosting a brunch up here in Northern California - however, once my hubs scheduled his surgery, that went out the window. Blessedly (for reals) another lovely lady stepped up - 2 actually! - and I was so glad to go to her house on Saturday 8/8. I really didn't know what to expect, but since starting this blog and (before then) returning to the Catholic church, I was so hungry to get to know other women who really take this faith seriously. (Translation: I don't know what I'm doing, and really need some mentors/role models!*)

It did not disappoint.

We prayed, we ate, we introduced ourselves, we shared... really, for a bunch of women who for the most part, only met through a Catholic devotional on the internet, I could not have asked for a more beautiful time with such lovely people. And yes, I did learn some things! For instance, there's a Montessori-style bible study for kids - I just love this. And I remember a lot of the women saying they prayed (or at least wanted to pray) the Liturgy of the Hours. Maybe I will too, someday...

2. Our Littles were Baptized!

I mentioned earlier how I'm not always aware of appropriate behavior in church, so as the date for the wee ones baptism approached, I got more and more worried that I wouldn't be doing it right. In fact, it was only 1 week before the baptism that I learned the chilluns should be dressed in white. (Seeing all of Kendra's pictures obviously didn't teach me anything.) Ack! Where do I find white baptism outfits that aren't going to cost me an arm and leg in less than 7 days? to the rescue!!
Not bad, eh? :)
Both children did much better than I expected them to - our little guy only cried a tiny bit and even "the spitfire" cried up until the water hit her head and then she stopped. (Given her lifelong dislike of the water, I did not see that coming!) I was touched by all the parts of the ceremony - and the smell of the chrism lived up to the hype. But it was the prayers for the mother and father that got me crying. I don't even know if I can say what exactly it was that made me tear up.  I just felt so blessed and grateful - and hopeful! So much grace was poured out on them, and me, that I am sure we will be changed for the good because of it.

The baptism was followed by some family pictures - which was really just a front for getting my sister to her 40th birthday surprise.
It worked spectacularly :)
I don't want to make this post toooo long, so more to come soon...!

*This needing a mentor even extends into my French baking attempts... I tried making madeleines for the Blessed Coffee Break and well... um...
Madeleines these are not. We shall call them "madel-ain'ts!"
At least they were delicious!