Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Lord Will Provide - My Sunday Best - 08

I'm sitting here on my bed typing this up, listening to my little dude pound the wall with his... feet? Head? Hands? I'm not sure, but whatever he's using he's doing so with great force and gusto. Much like in this picture below:
So please forgive me if, at the moment, my only thought is "Lord, please provide at least an hour's nap so we may all have an enjoyable evening."


Skirt: it was a maxi skirt that I picked up at Costco... seems to get shorter every week
Shirt: Old Navy Maternity
Shoes: just some flats from Target
Bump: 29 weeks

We had a guest priest from India today, here to do an appeal for the missions work that he's a part of back in Calcutta. We also brought our lovely niece with us to Mass too, and at one point she looked at me and asked (in hushed tones) "Auntie, what language is he speaking?" (Me: LOL!) His accent was a little thick, but I think the novelty of it helped keep the kiddos quiet (well, it was that or the extra coloring materials their cousin brought with her) because I was actually able to listen to most of the homily today!

The Gospel was the story of the Caannanite woman, who's persistance and iconic line about even dogs getting the scraps from their master's table, made Jesus exclaim "O woman, great is your faith!" Father used this line as the jumping off point for talking about other people with great faith - notably St Theresa of Calcutta and also Abraham. The story that stuck with me was Abraham's. In Father's retelling of Abraham obeying God's command and offering Isaac as a sacrifice, he said that Abraham's only prayer through the whole ordeal was what he also told Isaac, "The Lord will provide." Abraham didn't tell Isaac, "God has asked me to kill you and I'm just not going to do it." Nor did he say, "Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. And right now, even though I love you greatly, I'm going to offer you as a sacrifice because I love and fear God more." He only said, "The Lord will provide," and continued forward with the plan.

Who can say what was really going through Abraham's head? The writer of Hebrews posits that Abraham must have believed that even if he killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead (Heb 11:17-19). But I wonder. If it's true, what Father said, that the only prayer on Abraham's lips for the 3 days he journeyed to Moriah was "The Lord will provide," well then, that sounds far more like a desprate cry of the heart to me. And in those moments of desparation - where all I can do is say the same prayer over and over again - you can be sure I'm not using my spiritual imagination to think up ways that God can answer my prayer. I'm just hoping beyond hope that He *will* answer my prayer before it's too late.

The closest I've ever come to that kind of desparation was when I was in labor with the little drummer above. It was a natural, unmedicated labor that was becoming far more intense (for me) than the labor that I experienced with his sister. Close to the end, I had what I can only describe as an epiphany, "We're not both going to make it through this. One of us is going to die."

(I will pause here to mention that midwives are very familiar with this kind of talk from laboring women - and in fact, they take it as a very good sign that labor will actually be over very soon. So everyone present was prepared and ready to go for that last important push.)

But back to me. In that moment, I knew I had to choose: either I give up and my baby would die, or I push through and I die. To me, there was no third way. And I remember (wildly, desparately) thinking "God I hope your offer of eternal life is true... because I so want to see this baby grow up."

Father's encouragement was that when we make that sacrifice, God will meet us there and say to us what he said to the Caannanite woman: "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." (Matt 15:28)

I don't think Father meant for this to be some version of a prosperity gospel - where you can "sacrifice" something in order to gain something better from God - as his examples of Abraham and St Theresa were profound enough to (hopefully) discourage that kind of thinking. Rather I think he was acknowledging the spiritual reality that God meets us in our moments of desparation and confirms what we madly hope in faith to be true: that God does actually love each one of us and desires life - real life - for us all. We may not know what that's going to look like, but if we can trust Him, we know it will be good.

Join Rosie over at her place - she's canning and freezing and basically making hay while the sun shines - oh, and she's the one who hosts My Sunday Best too. It'd be good to say hi. :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A New Library (to) Love

I feel like a bit of a cheat to say this, but...

...I think I found my new favorite library. The outside is nothing spectacular, but of course, like all the good things, it's on the inside. When you walk in the "New Arrivals" are well presented, front and center. The kids' area has a wee... dome? rotunda? with a fresco painted in it of literary characters and a little stage for putting on puppet shows. I love that. There's even a book "store" (a room of used books for sale).

It's just too bad it's in the next town over. (And yes, I *can* hear the snickers of all you folks around me who think that driving to Rohnert Park is an issue. Let's just say, "Different strokes..." mmm, kay?)

In any case, we loved taking the little field trip this past weekend to a different library - and as a result, I picked up a few books worth sharing:

The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends
So, around here, we are not above the occasional bribe to get behavior we want - i.e. would you just stand still and let me brush your hair, please?! On one such occasion I found a video combining two of the wee girl's favorite things - Lego and ocean-stuff - and it was just the right length for getting her hair brushed and in a pony tail. (If you've got 7 minutes, it's fun and worth a watch.) This was how she learned about The Kraken - so when I saw this book in the library, I knew we had to check it out.

It's definitely quirky, and some of the Shark's rules (yeah, it's actually the Great White who makes the rules) rub me the wrong way - but the overall message "Be the friend that you want to have" and the illustrations, and of course The Kraken, have made this a winner here.

Pancakes, Pancakes!
It was the wee girl who had a very valid insight about this one: "Why is it called PancakeS? There's only one!" Which is true. But it's a great story about how one *really* makes pancakes (you gotta thresh wheat to get the grain, and feed chickens to get eggs and milk cows to get milk, etc...) AND it's illustrated by the beloved Eric Carle (substitute "iconic" if he's not beloved at your house). Even though I find this to be a bit on the long-side for a 2.5 year old, it's actually been the 2.5 year old who has requested this book every day since we brought it home. He likes it a lot (and I do too)!

Today Is Monday
Another Eric Carle one. There's only a few words - but one of them is "ZOOOOUP!" so it's a hit at our house. Apparently, the text is from a song, and the sheet music is included at the back. I have yet to fire up the keyboard and plunk out the tune, but it looks catchy. :)

Songs and Story: Cars
A friend introduced this Disney/Pixar CD series to me. Each CD has a few songs from the movie and then a dramatized (and much abbreviated) narration of the story afterwards. This is the only other audiobook that I've been able to get both kids (but mainly the wee girl) to listen to - and I can't tell if that's because she's familiar with the story, or if the character's voices are included, or what. In any case, when she turns it on I have at least 20 minutes of "quiet time" to myself, so I'm not complaining! It's well done too, so I'll be looking into the others in the series.

That's the best of the best here! What have you been picking up at your library (or the next town over's library)?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Little Bit of Community - My Sunday Best - 07

Just barefoot and pregnant - though my husband
insisted that I not (also) be standing in the kitchen
for this picture ;)
Hey look! I found something new to wear to Mass! Thanks, Mom! :)
Top: H&M  Skirt: Old Navy  Bump: 22 weeks

We made it back home! It really was so nice to be back in our home parish - seeing familiar faces, singing songs also so familiar I don't need to hold the book for them (a definite plus when those hands are needed to pull wandering boys back into the pew *ahem*). I think the kiddos also appreciated being back on home territory - if nothing else, they were back where they get their own special bread after communion! And they were pretty well behaved (knock on wood?) so I even got to hear some of the readings and homily.

Today's first reading gave me a lot to think about today - most all of it pretty superficial, I have to admit. (Sorry.) First of all, the Shunammite woman: she decides she wants to build Elisha a room, and one sentence later, BOOM. It's built and Elisha's moved in.  Clearly, this is a "woman of influence"! We started our own building project last year, and have yet to even break ground on the project, much less furnish it with a "bed, table, chair and lamp."  Though it's not for a lack of trying! (What do we gotta do to find a contractor around here??)

But really, it was her hospitality that struck me. Hospitality is truly a gift from God - when done right, people open right up and community is forged. I'm always awed by it when I'm on the receiving end, or even when I just witness it for someone else.  That's why I was so grateful to meet a few ladies after church today for a little park picnic. We had "met" through Blessed Is She's regional group on Facebook and decided to get together IRL this afternoon. Our kids ranged in age from 2 to 14, but they all seemed to get along great and us moms got a chance to introduce ourselves and learn a little bit about each other. It really was a lovely afternoon and we ended with plans to get together again next month - so I think, "Success!" But as always, glory to God - because it had very little to do with me and a lot more to do with Him (and the mom who brought the package of cookies to share)! What's been your best experience of hospitality (giving or receiving)?

Rosie, her sister and I are (apparently) barefoot buddies this week... head over there for more MSB community!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Do Not Be Afraid - My Sunday Best - 06

I should be packing things up right now, but the lure of blogging is stronger than my desire to be responsible. This is always the hardest part of any trip for me. Well, to be honest, packing *for* the trip is harder than just packing back up to go home, but either way the act of packing reminds my body that change is on the way. And *that* is the hard part: forcing my body to change its environment and routine. (And again, let's be honest, forcing my body to get on a plane. I haven't quite reached the point where drugs are necessary to get me through a plane trip - and I hope I never reach that point! - but we've considered it more times than I care to admit.)

Just me in my pregnancy-standard Mass outfit, Saint Margaret
 of Scotland and a wee little photo-bomber.
Which is why, upon reflection, today's Gospel and homily were more timely than I first considered. " not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matt 10:31) God cares for us more than we let ourselves believe sometimes - and Jesus reminds me of this often.  Because of God's love my fear is truly unfounded. But what I find odd though, is that in this gospel reading he basically says, "Look. If you *are* going to be scared, at least be scared of the right thing. Let's get our priorities straight here. Don't fear people who can just kill your body. Fear the one who can kill your body AND soul." I need this no holds barred kind of talk sometimes (especially when I'm about to get on a plane.) And just in case I missed it in the gospel and the homily, the priest also said it as his parting remark as I was shaking his hand and leaving. "Do not be afraid!" All I could say in response, was "Yes, Father!" But Father was African, and I think the way they say it around here is more entertaining/endearing:

The Scottish equivalent of "Keep Calm and Carry On"?
So yes, we're getting ready to go home... I'm sure you won't mind then letting me take this opportunity to dump some photos of our trip on you (and should you want to skip this part and head back to Rosie's for her My Sunday Best, then go ahead and click away. I won't hold it against you ;) )

See you back State-side!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

(not exactly) Library (but still a whole lotta) Love - UK Edition!

Do you have a particular topic of conversation that, no matter how many times it comes up, you always seem to bumble through it? I always feel like a bit of a dope when I talk to people about my husband because usually at some point in the conversation, I have to share that he's Scottish (cause otherwise the next part of the story won't make sense or something like that). And 90% of the time, that piece of news is met with "Oh yeah! I've got some Scottish in me too." To which I then need to clarify, "No I mean he's really Scottish. Like from the UK." It seems such a simple clarification to make, and I don't know why, but after nearly 9 years of marriage I still flub it by saying weird/awkward things like "Yeah, fresh off the boat!" as if he were a catch of Atlantic salmon or something. (When will I be able to figure this out?)

But speaking of flubbing things - how's that for an intro? Uh... yeah! We are currently in Scotland visiting my in-laws, and for the first time we planned it so that we would be in one spot for the whole of our visit (rather than hopping on to a new place every 4-5 days). I was really hoping this would pan out into a trip to ye olde local library, but so far that hasn't happened and probably won't. Fortunately, my in-laws are library loving folks just like us, so we haven't been at a loss for books to read! These have been our favorites this time around:

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy
This one is the little dude's favorite (and it really is more appropriate for the birth to 3 years crowd). Simple rhymes, cute dogs and one "terrible tom" who's caterwaul requires some theatrics from mom to pull off all make for a sweet little read before bed.

There's a Bear on My Chair
Another one for the 0-3 year olds, though saying that, the wee girl enjoyed this one too. Maybe because the mouse's tantrum throwing at the end was very "pigeon-esque"? Or maybe it's because she's really understanding the concept of rhyming words now... or maybe it's the bear? (Or maybe it's just a well written, well-illustrated children's book Sara. Hence the award stickers on the front cover.)

Mr Tickle and the Dragon
You can't come to the UK and not see the Mr. Men and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves. They're ubiquitous, and for a while I wondered why - after all, one of my favorite books (on cassette tape!) was Mr Tickle - but then of course, it dawned on me: he's British (Hargreaves that is. Not Mr. Tickle.) Normally I'm not a fan of series that have become so commercialized that even after the author has died, new books keep coming out - but this story is decent and it fits in with the bit of a dragon kick that the wee girl has been on lately. Sooo... keeper.

Sugarlump and the Unicorn, and Fox's Socks
What's a trip to the UK without finding a new book by Julia Donaldson? Her rhymes and stories are just the best. Sugarlump is a story about a rocking horse who wishes he were somewhere else, and eventually learns the old "be careful what you wish for" lesson - but don't worry, it's still a happy ending for him. Fox's Socks is a simple rhyming book, either good for beginning readers or good for the 0-3 crowd (my brother-in-law has an adorable 11 month old, hence all the books for that age range).

I feel slightly bummed that I haven't come across a knock-out hit this time around, but nonetheless these have proved a strong showing. So, like the weather as of late, I really can't complain. ;)

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, June 19, 2017

What's That Bright Thing In The Sky? - My Sunday Best - 05

Three years ago, when we took my sister and brother-in-law to Scotland for their very first trip to the UK ever, we had the most gorgeous weather... beautiful blue skies with white fluffy clouds, and hardly a drop of water to be seen (unless of course, you were looking at a river or loch). It made for dramatic landscapes and was truly stunning. So much so that my husband and I commented on it nearly every day, "You guys are getting the *best* weather here! Truly!"  After we got home, we continued to talk about it. It was that remarkable.

Fast forward three years... and last week, we arrived here with my parents for *their* first ever trip to the UK and... alas. The weather has not been as "show-offy."

In a much more typical Scottish fashion, it has rained nearly every day we have been here - sometimes all day, sometimes just on and off - but regardless, gray and cloudy 24/7. Really, the kind of weather one is much more likely to expect in Scotland. So I'm not complaining, I'm just sharing all this as a preface for my MSB picture:

Same-o same-o skirt and top. Bump: 20 weeks

Pardon the grimace, but it's bright out! Sun! Yay!! (Ouch!!)

A Blessed Corpus Christi to you! In a funny coincidence, we celebrated Mass at a church with the same name as our home parish: Holy Spirit. Half-way around the world and same name. What are the odds of that?

On our way to church, I told the wee girl that while the name of the church would be the same as our church there were probably going to be some things that were different too. So she suggested that we play a game: she would look for all the things that were the same, and I would look for all the things that were different. Honestly, I would have been more interested to hear about all the things that she noticed that were different - especially since the only thing that she said was the same were the "colors". (The colors where, honey? The ones the priest wore? The flowers? She wouldn't elaborate, so I guess we'll never know...).

So, would she have noticed the priest was African? That the music was accompanied by organ?  That we spent time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and chanted in Latin? Or that the walls were decorated with mosaics? There were so many things that struck me as different, especially when I tried to imagine the view from her perspective and experience.

It was a good game to play I think. It got me thinking about the things I still need (and want) to learn (the Latin prayers being first and foremost), and about the things that I want to teach the kiddos. The amount of "material" (for lack of a better word) that is part of our faith really is overwhelming. I hope the kids and I always find that to be a source of inspiration rather than a cause for despair.  At the very least, I know that when things get to be "too much" I can always fall back on the Eucharist - the real and true presence of our Lord - always present to us and helping us to get home. Corpus Christi is a good day to celebrate indeed.

My MSB is a day late and a dollar short, but that just means you all can see everyone else's posts over at Rosie's! Do stop by and share the love. :)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Little Gems - Library Love

I almost didn't think it would be worth it to do a Library Love today, except that as I was collecting books to return to said library I realized that - quite by accident or luck - we had a few real gems worth mentioning.

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
I can't remember if I've shared this one before (and clearly I'm too lazy to go check the archives) but what I love about this is the artwork that shows what the cat looks like to each observer: to the young boy the cat looks like, well, a sweet fluffy cat; but to the dog, the cat looks skinny and rat-like with an overly large bell around its scrawny neck. And of course, to the flea the cat looks mostly like a forest of fur with the cat's head as a mountain waayy in the distance. This book was voted as a "Mock Caldecott" finalist by our local library. So how's that for a recommendation?

Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman
This book is a Caldecott finalist. And for good reason! I won't give the story away, but will share that it's about the first "manned" hot air balloon flight that took place in Versailles, France on September 19, 1783. Again the illustrations win out (along with the story). I had to pick this one up when I saw it because the wee girl just loves seeing hot air balloons (and we've been seeing quite a few these past couple weeks on our way to preschool - it must be ballooning weather here!)

Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake by Thomas Taylor
This falls under the "Last but not Least" category. I had asked the little dude what kind of book he wanted at the library and all he said was, "Chocolate chips!!" So I figured, what the heck? I'll ask the librarian for a picture book about chocolate chips. And this was the result. I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed with the cover, but I felt like I had to take it home because it was pretty much the only book the librarian could find.
But I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much both children loved this book! It includes a nice lesson on sharing, and the picture of the mouse eating the cupcake at the end genuinely makes the little dude laugh. So thumbs up to our librarian for suggesting it!

What little (or big) gems have you found lately?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Living in Bodies and a My Sunday Best

I guess when you think about it - our bodies are really important.

Get used to that outfit folks. I'm currently 17 weeks preggo
and it's just about the only Mass-worthy outfit I gots, so
you're going to be seeing a lot of it

Earlier this week, I picked up my copy of The Catholic Catalogue (my first actual, physical, non-internet reference for how to live like a Catholic), with the intention of reading up on the Ascension which we celebrated today.

Instead, I found myself in the beginning of the book reading about the sign of the cross. You know, that quintessential hand movement that makes Catholics stick out like sore thumbs at any ecumenical prayer meeting or that football players sometimes make after a touchdown? It seems so basic to Catholicism. So fundamental. And yet...

Can I share this in my most quiet, private voice?

I've always had such trouble with it. Not inside the church, of course. It's quite easy to make the sign of the cross when you're standing with a hundred or so others who are making it with you. But outside. With others. Certainly with non-Catholics, but oftentimes with Catholics as well. Heck, we don't even make it at dinner before we say grace. (Which, as you can guess, will now change as a result of this post.)

"But why?" you may ask. "Aren't you, sort of, a cradle Catholic?" Well, yeah. Sort of. I've spent more time in a Catholic church than any other. But you know what the real deal is?

(Lean in close please... cause I'm not really wanting to say this out loud.)

It makes me feel like a fake.

It's a pious action, and I fear it makes me look more pious than I am. It feels like a "holier-than-thou" motion when in the company of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

So this was my frame of mind when I ran across this passage in The Catholic Catalogue:

"I remember as a teenager sometimes wishing for a disincarnate, less bodily Christianity. I wanted to belong to a church that was less ancient, more modern, less strange. I worried when my parents made the sign of the cross in mixed company that people would think they were superstitious, or uneducated fools. I wanted God to be a private matter. I wanted him to live in my heart, not on my head. Being Catholic was embarrassingly bodily, and I knew that public expressions of religion, like the sign of the cross, were considered poor taste." (emphasis mine)

This woman got me! She might be coming at it from a slightly different place, but she nailed it for me: being Catholic is embarrassingly bodily. From making the sign of the cross, to fasting from meat on Fridays; from using rosary beads while praying, all the way to practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP) instead of using contraception - the Catholic church insists that we are not to ignore how our bodies play into our spirituality (and more than that, it provides guidance on what a holy use of our bodies looks like).

To be honest, this was one of the aspects of Catholicism that drew me back to the Church - it forced me to get out of my head. When I have to physically go somewhere and talk to someone to confess and repent, then forgiveness no longer feels like a mind game. (And, on a related note - it then also happens! Prior to returning to the Catholic church I hardly ever thought about confessing my sins - because, honestly, who ever wants to think about that? - and so, I didn't.)

But this is also the aspect of Catholicism that is the most uncomfortable - because when I use my body to, say, make the sign of the cross, I am immediately communicating to others that I'm playing by different rules. My whole self shrinks back from sticking out like this. I'd like to call it "being sensitive to others" or even "showing by example how to not let ritual get in the way of authentic prayer" - but we all know it's fear. So maybe, maybe, if I remember that the sign of the cross *is* a prayer in of itself; maybe if I remember that "to make the sign of the cross is to say yes to God, yes to the Blessed Trinity, yes to the passion of Christ and the forgiveness of sin" then maybe I can put this fear aside, and step into this reality of new life and being clothed with Christ. Because that is what I really want - from the top of my head, to the tips of my toes.

Brownie points to you for reading to the end - if for no other reason than to find out why in the world I considered this a "My Sunday Best" post... well, isn't it obvious? Bodies, clothes, Catholicism... it's all related, right? Right? Well, should you disagree, head over to Rosie's to see what a real MSB looks like. And thanks for letting me ramble.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Books Making Me Cry These Days - Library Love

First, thank you to all who left messages and sent notes of congrats about our new little one! It means so much to Paul and I to read your good wishes and encouragement. The first trimester was definitely a struggle, and I often told people during that time that I relied on their excitement about the pregnancy because I was feeling so yucky myself that I found it hard to muster up any feelings other than self-pity.

But of course, now I'm pregnant and feeling ALL the feels. This was made especially clear to me while at the library picking out stories and Maisy books to leave at the library bring home. The little dude brought me a book to read and the last page brought me to tears - and of course, brought him much confusion. So we've had the conversation, more than twice now, that "sometimes Mommy cries tears of joy." The wee girl is quite entertained by it all and tries to make the waterworks come on by demand: "Mommy, read this book now!" But you know, that's the lovely thing about hormones - you hardly get to control when/how they will effect you. So she doesn't often get her wish. (Ha ha, little one.) OK, on to the books!

Is Mommy?

This is the one that got me crying in the library. It's a simple book, asking children questions about their mommies: "Is Mommy tall or short?" And of course the children, being children, answer with all the least flattering choices. "Short!" "Boring!" "Old!"  But do you love your mommy? Resounding YES!! (Cue the tears.) The little dude loves this one for the audience participation.

The Baby Sister

So, you know who's on the shelf below Maisy? Tomie dePaola! I credit Read Aloud Revival to turning me onto him - or maybe reintroducing me to him, as I definitely remember reading some of his books when I was a kid. In any case, while the wee girl is perusing her selection of Maisy books, I glance through the TdP ones, and of course, this one caught my eye. It's an autobiographical story of Tomie welcoming his baby sister Maureen home, and the ending line could not be sweeter: "And Tommie was the happiest boy in the world." I love this one because it presents the arrival of a new sibling with joy and anticipation, rather than with trepidation of how things will change. Not that I don't think those stories have their place, but this one is just so comforting and feel good that both kids love it and will ask me to read it over and over.

Hello In There!

I picked this book up when I was pregnant with the little dude, so of course, as I read it to him I get all misty-eyed remembering how I used to read it to his sister when she was just about the same age. The illustrations show a little girl waiting and wondering about her new baby sibling, while her mother's tummy gets bigger and bigger with every turn of the page. But what makes it especially fun are the little flaps on the mommy's tummy that open to reveal the baby inside. It works great for the 2-4 year old range for that reason.


OK, when I cried at the end of this one we were all baffled. It's a story about a pig! And has nothing to with expecting a baby sibling! Clearly, this was all hormones. But the energetic piglet just captured my heart, and her "I love you anyway too," hit me in just the same spot as all the kids loving their mommy in "Is Mommy?" (I guess that part of my heart must be especially tender from the repeated readings of that book.) Worth a checkout, especially if you have an energetic little who can "really wear people out."

It's been rather therapeutic to read so many books that let the "tears of joy" flow... so what books make you cry? Or what books might you recommend reading to little ones expecting a new sibling?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Easter and NEW Life - My Sunday Best - 03

There were so many reasons I was looking forward to Easter this year - and (rather amazingly) they weren't all related to ending the Lenten fast! Actually, I think what brought me the most joy this year was related to the almsgiving part of Lent. Because of the plan for giving that I had made*, I was able to give freely and generously to the people and causes near and dear to my heart. The "free" part was what brought the most joy. I didn't even have to think twice about giving - I could just do it. So I'll definitely be thinking about how to somehow continue that through the year.

But mostly, I was looking forward to Easter to celebrate and share the New Life God brings...

Bump as of 13 weeks... or 14 depending on who you consult ;)

Here's announcing Baby #3, due to arrive end of October! Like with the wee girl - who was also due end of October - I am still hoping this one will *not* be a Halloween baby, but an All Saints baby would be cool.

(Oh, and to make this officially a MSB - the maternity skirt is compliments of my younger sister and the top is from Kohl's.)

At first, we were planning on surprising my husband's father with the news... we're seeing him in June and I thought the sight of me waddling off the plane would be a fun "Surprise! You have a new grandbaby on the way!" But then I found that trying to keep this information off the internet was even more of a mortification than the fast from my morning "cuppa". So after sharing the news with him yesterday, I gave my hubby a high five and got to work on this post. ;)

So I hope, now that I've shared this, I can get back to writing a little bit more. There were so many things I wanted to share during Lent - but because almost all of them had to do with being pregnant and since we were trying to keep that a surprise - I felt stymied. I suppose though, that it was probably for the best that I didn't post much anyway... the first trimester for me is pretty miserable and I'm sure most of the posts would have been just a outlet for complaining. And that ain't encouraging for anyone to read!

Oddly enough, Rosie's got a "new family member" announcement on her blog too - do stop by and congratulate her as well!

*For the curious, I did a "reverse" tithe with the money I make from tutoring students in math: giving away 90% and keeping 10%. While not as stringent as A Gentle Mother's Buy Nothing Lent, it did kinda end up taking on that flavor, as I realized that's what most of my income goes towards. And of course, I won't take credit for coming up with this plan - I really feel God led me to it.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

4 Weeks Down... 2 to Go!

So, guess what? We are more-than-officially past the halfway point in Lent! Can I get a "Woohoo!" I don't think I have ever been so relieved to see the finish line on the horizon before. This has been just such a "Lent-y" Lent. Translation: I have never felt so physically run down, while simultaneously denying myself the usual comfort measures (caffeine, some kind of baked good, etc...) So, does this mean that my Lenten practices are being effective at helping "mortify the flesh?" Or is it not doing anything mortifying in the least, since all I can focus on is the "mortifying" part and not so much the "spiritual closeness" part? (The jury is still out on this one.)

In any case, I'm taking today to remind myself that even though I'm not quite meeting all the plans I had for myself (like those Friday-Stations of the Cross-picnics? Hasn't happened yet.) this doesn't mean that I'm a failure - and it CERTAINLY doesn't mean that God loves me any less. (And we of course, also know the flipside would be true too: if I *was* meeting all my plans for myself, God wouldn't love me anymore for it either).

It's kind of like an incident that happened at Mass today. After the presentation of the gifts, Father was trying to open the decanter and he just couldn't. He started like normal...
"Blessed are you..."
*yanks harder*
*starts to chuckle*
"OK, I'm having a hard time here..."

He was just about to give up, when the altar server got up and pulled the stopper out for him.
(Girl altar server, FTW!)

We were all laughing at that point. It was just too good. Of course, with the decanter freed, we continued on as normal - til the end of Mass, when Father had another surprise for us:

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Gotta love our church. Even Father said it (and I'm paraphrasing here), "You know, I could try and keep things serious here, but that just isn't Holy Spirit parish."  Which is true. I mean, we're Catholic - beautiful liturgy, statues, holy water and all. But we also have pink flamingos in the pond next to our meditation garden. *shrug* What ya gonna do? I guess, we just can't be bothered to take ourselves too seriously.

So that's where I'm at, at this point in Lent. Still fasting, praying and giving - but not beating myself up for all the other ways of fasting/praying/giving that I'm not getting done. Lord willing, I'll attempt them before the season is up but regardless, I will rest in the love that He has for me. I hope and pray that will be the "better choice."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Lint-y Lent - My Sunday Best - 02

Has this happened to you? I was listening to a podcast earlier this week and I almost had to stop it midway because I was going crazy hearing the podcaster say "Lent". Not because she was overusing the word (I mean, it was an episode about Lent after all) but because she was saying it like "lint."

"Lint is coming!"

Well, turns out the joke is on me because MSB left me absolutely covered in the stuff - so really the podcaster was right after all. I should have listened (and been prepared with a roller/brush).

Poncho: from my mom, Jeans: from Target

In other Mass-related news, today's kid antics were sufficiently blush-inducing. I had almost hoped that having my parents in town would help make mass attendance better, but I quickly learned after Ash Wednesday's service that having Grammy and Poppy next to my children doesn't help them behave much better at all. Alas. So anyway, I went into Mass today with normal expectations. And things were going normally until the little dude started his requests for "boo time" (nursing time). He's not asked for this for a LOOOONG time, but he did it on Wednesday and it made Poppy laugh, so I think he was trying it again for the reaction. But when it didn't work, he went over to my husband, climbed up into his lap and then told the people behind us, "Mommy has boobies and I have boobies!"

Oh child. Glad you're learning anatomy.

Not to be outdone, the wee girl also wanted her chance in the spotlight and she timed it for Communion.

"Mommy, I want one of the breads that's round and has a cross in it that Fr. Ron gives."
"Oh, yes, you want that? It is very special. That's the bread that Fr Ron asks God to change into the Body of Christ. You need to prepare yourself for that, and we prepare ourselves by taking a class. So once you take the class you can have Communion with us. But until then, remember, Fr. Ron also gives you special blessed bread after Communion."
"But Mommy I want the round one with the cross on it."
"Honey, it's special and you have to prepare yourself. Come on. It's time to go up."

So of course, she goes up and receives a blessing from Father but then when I turned to go, I didn't notice that she stayed in front of him. Waiting for the bread. That, of course, he wasn't going to give her. So I grabbed her hand and pulled her away at which point she threw herself down on the floor and started crying.

Oh my sweet girl. Bless your heart (really. Not like in that patronizing way.)

Friends, what would you have said in that situation? Anything you would add? (Or not say? I need that too). I don't know that she fully understands what's going on, but she obviously is paying attention and since this is actually the second week that she has said this, I don't think it's an issue that's going to go away - not that I really want it to, but I do at least want to help her understand better.

In any case, all was made right when she got both a mini-bagel and a pizza from our favorite fast food place afterwards. (It doesn't take much when you're a 4-year old I guess.)

Sharing a strawberry milkshake with Dad probably helps too.

There's more good stuff happening over at Rosie's! And if you got any pointers for next week, lemme know!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Get Ready for Lent, cuz Surprise! It's here!

I'm approaching Lent with a strange mixture of (happy) anticipation and dread this year. I think it might be because last year's Lent, even though it was the first time I had really ever observed it, seemed to go so well. Now that we're doing this a second time around, I wonder if I'll be able to rise to the occasion.

Ha ha. Pride. You nasty bugger you. Well, at least now we know one thing I'll need to be confessing this year...

(This was going to be a post for JEI, but since it looks like that may not be happening anymore, will you consider saying a prayer for Alicia and her family? This post is offered for her.)

What has worked for you or your family to make Lent meaningful?

Last year, on each Friday of Lent I packed a picnic lunch and took the kids to our church to do our own little Stations of the Cross. We would look at the picture for each station, I would explain what was going on/say a prayer to go with the station and then move on. By the end the wee girl was able to identify almost all the people in the pictures, so I think that was meaningful? I certainly gained an appreciation/awe for all that Jesus endured out of love for us. I'm going to try and do it again, but since this year the little dude is well...2 instead of 1 and *far* more mobile, I'm wondering how it might go down. Ah well, it's church right? He couldn't get into that much trouble could he? #famouslastwords

This year we're also going to try Nancy's Jesus Tree. The little girl is *still* talking about how she misses her Jesse tree - though I'm quite sure that's just because she misses the lights - so we'll see how this one goes over. (And if you read my last post - we're doing the paper one people! Definitely not the felt one. Though if anyone wants to go ahead and make me a set of those I would totally be on board with accepting it. :) )

What’s your go-to meatless meal?

Honestly? Taco night with refried beans instead of meat (we love these (not an affiliate link. Just FYI)) and then fish nuggets with broccoli. But I do have a few other easy meals, like this Sweet Potatoes with Beans and Greens or the Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Spinach below (it's easy! Promise! The ingredients list just looks long because of all the spices.)  Should you be interested, you can also find a list of all my "Friday Abstaining" meals here.

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Wild Rice Bowl with Red Lentil-Coconut Curry and Spinach

  • 1 cup wild rice (or brown, I use brown)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or butter or coconut oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (or a 1/4 tsp dried ginger, if using add with other spices)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste (like this one)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 3 12 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves tightly packed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 12 cup Greek yogurt
  • 14 cup cilantro leaves (lightly packed) to garnish
  1. Prepare the wild rice according to the package instructions. Most wild rice takes about 45 minutes to become tender; you can also make it a few days ahead so it's ready when you need it.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat the ghee in a large saucepan with tall sides over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly golden and soft. Add in the minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the red lentils, red curry paste, tomato paste, and spices, and cook until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the lentils and broth reach a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Before serving, fold in the fresh spinach leaves, and pour in the coconut milk. At this point, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning according to your liking; add more salt or cayenne, if needed.
  4. To serve, divide the wild rice equally into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with the curry, a dollop of yogurt, and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.

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Do you count Sundays as being part of Lent?

I'll have to defer to Kendra of Catholic All Year for this one, as I had no idea this was even a question! I just figured that your fast continued on Sunday because, well, it's still Lent. But nope. Read all about it here. (Really! It's quite informative)

What will you be doing for Lent this year?