Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adventures in leaky roofs - part of my Lenten penance?!

As I was looking for labels to tag with this post, I came across "house disasters" and thought:

"PERFECT!"

We've been here before, to be sure. And look, I found that post all easy-like by using that label as a guide. ;-)

Uuuuuggggghhhh. But this problem isn't nearly so bad as others, so I can't complain. It's a stressor, to be sure, but a minor one in the grand scheme of things. Let's chronicle.

Last night Mike was at rehearsal, and I put both kids to bed. Just before 9, I was happily listening to a podcast while I crocheted. After about 10 minutes, I took my ear buds out so that I could turn on "19 Kids and Counting." I take a delightful sip of my drink.

Hark. What is that I hear? Sounds like water running. Henry and I had both taken showers, so I assumed that the shower head just wasn't completely turned off. I head to the bathroom, and it quickly becomes apparent that the water noise is not originating from the shower. A beat goes by. Oh. This is bad.

We had rain earlier in the day and the temperature finally above freezing for any stretch of time, and all of this after record ice accumulation and jamming in the region as a whole. Uh oh.

*cue the ominous music*

I follow the sound to our guest room/office. Water is not dripping. It is *pouring* from a few spots in the center of the ceiling down onto the area rug. I run for a receptacle and hustle it into place, along with a towel to mop up the water that already fell. Wait...

I hear more water. I look up.

*little creature bearing a forked tail and horns flies by*

There are no fewer than a dozen beads of water scattered in different places throughout the ceiling. It seems to me that they all glare at me, and then begin dripping simultaneously. As I dash for containers to catch the steadily increasing drips, it becomes apparent that they are breeding and multiplying at an alarming rate, and they aren't always close together. All the Tupperware in the WORLD isn't going to catch all of them. I find a big plastic sheet and some additional towels to handle spots that weren't dripping as rapidly and were the furthest away from their evil minion friends.

When I stopped to take a breath, I realized that the scattered nature of the water was a really, really bad sign. This means that water is pooled up above the ceiling and is just looking for any little crack in the plaster to work it's way through.

Around this time, Mike gets home. He takes one look at my face when I green him at the door and says: "What's wrong?"

"We have a crisis."

Now we both go into the guest room and he scares up some more containers to catch the water. He also has an idea of where the water must be coming in.

"I need to check the crawl space behind Anne's closet. We'll have to wake her."

Fabulous.

Into Anne's room we go, and Mike accesses the crawl space. Yep, rushing water, check. The space is so small he can't get a large container in there to catch everything, so he gets what he can in the area and empties it every few minutes. Meanwhile, Anne has woken up and thinks this is the funnest adventure EVER. She bounces around a lot, asking questions a mile a minute.

Ultimately, Mike gets the water collection system down to a science, which means he'll be up most of the night. :( I take Anne into our room to sleep. And predictably:

"Why did you bring my pillow and quilt in here, Mommy?"

"Because you're going to sleep in here with Mommy, won't that be fun?"

"NO."

"It'll be like a girls' slumber party!"

"NO."

It took quite a bit of convincing to get her to go to sleep, including letting her take over Mike's side of the bed.

"Are you going to turn the light off, Mommy?"

"Yes Honey, after I read for a few minutes."

*3 seconds elapse*

"Are you done yet, Mommy?"

*long suffering sigh*

Somewhere around midnight I'm awoken by Mike trying to clear ice off the roof, and tiny feet kicking, kicking, kicking!

"Mommy! What's that?!"

"My kidney."

"Oh."

*more kicking*

Oh right, this is what it's like to be pregnant. There are some things about it that I really don't miss.

When we awoke this morning, we found the guest room looking a bit more innocent:

The water had stopped leaking down, and apparently everything re-froze around 2 am and stopped coming into the house. Mike was able to sleep following that, after dealing with just one more issue involving a backed up gutter and water coming in via the front door. Oh sigh.

So, calls are in this morning to the roofing guys and the insurance company. We're not the only ones. Leaky roofs are rampant in WNY this winter. It's a bummer, but we'll get through this.

Conditions were treacherous this morning from the freezing rain, thus the driveway continued to build up evil intent against us, in a clear plan to just kill us and be done with it. Anne has been SUCH a good girl, praying for Mike when his car got stuck this morning trying to get Henry to school. So adorable. We're just taking things one step at a time and I've been pulling out my rosary quite a bit. I think springtime and Easter will be even more welcome than usual this year. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"No you may NOT drink the holy water!" - An evening with my Catholic children...

I was home with Anne yesterday, and sometime in the late morning I saw her setting up a station of some kind in the dining room. There were wooden cupcakes and pieces from her Melissa & Doug pizza set, a small box, an (unlit) tealight candle, and a few prayer books. When I asked her what it was, she said:

"A stable. Baby Jesus is in here, sshhhhhh Mommy! YOU DON'T WANT TO WAKE HIM UP."

*serious face*

Ah. Baby Jesus was sleeping, and apparently, like toddlers everywhere, he wishes to eat nothing but frosted cupcakes and pepperoni. She begged me for an actual baby Jesus to put "into the fresh straw" (the straw being the small box, she explained) so I allowed her to raid her packed away nativity set for baby Jesus. She was quite happy after that, and placed him adoringly atop her small purple box.

And I think all of this stemmed from our newly embarked upon venture into the Bible storybook that she received from her Godmother (my older sister) back at her baptism. I had tucked it away because it's not a board book, and I didn't want her to destroy the pages when she was smaller. But I came across it the other day and popped it onto her book shelf, since she is now very good with taking care of books. She discovered it literally minutes later ("Look Mommy, a new book!!") and we've been reading it before naps and bed. I have to say, I love this particular Bible storybook. If you're wondering, it is Catholic Bible Stories for Children, put out by Our Sunday Visitor press:


We've owned Bible story books that skip *the Crucifixion* and I'm certain it's because the publisher didn't want the material to be upsetting for children, but really. This book tells the whole story, tough parts in the Old and New Testaments alike, but does it in a gentle and understandable way for children. I give it a thumbs up.

At any rate, Anne really took to the story of the nativity, and hence the stable that now exists in our dining room. Later in the day, I had a spark of inspiration, and asked Anne if she wanted to wear a veil, like Mary. Well, as you can imagine, that went over pretty big:


I mean, did you ever? SO PRECIOUS. I figured all of this pious reenacting would make it a good night to do the house blessing that I keep forgetting to do. At first, Anne was more interested in her Frozen puzzle than in participating, but once she saw Henry wielding the holy water bottle, she quickly took notice:

"Ok, let's move into the living room. Henry, do you have...no! You are not supposed to DRINK the holy water!"

*Henry looks sheepish*

"Holy water?! I WANT TO SQUIRT THE HOLY WATER!"

So now we have little Mary on the scene, demanding to be a part of things, and I will say that she did not attempt to drink the water. She did, however, squirt out enough in small puddles in each room that our socks were wet for the rest of the night. You can't have everything, I suppose. :0 

How are you today, dear reader? :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting involved in parish life & pushing cars up snowy driveways, on the 2nd Sunday of Lent


Morning all! I don't have a lot of time today, so this will be a brief check in, but I wanted to chat with you all as I do every Monday. :) We had a jam packed weekend for the second Sunday of Lent, so let's get started!

This was opening weekend for Mike's community theater group, putting on a production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. Henry and I went to the Sunday matinee, and oh! It was wonderful. :) Mike plays Detective Sargeant Trotter, and he was just marvelous. I was very nervous for him, because he had a lot of lines to memorize this time, but he did great. I absolutely love seeing him up on stage. Makes me feel all proud. :)

Afterward, we went out for a bite to eat, and then got home to..a mess. It was snowing, you know, AGAIN. :0 And our driveway, already not in great shape due to the narrowness of space between our house and our neighbor, and the fact that we have had zero melting because of continual freezing temperatures, was a disaster. I did my very best to gun it up the driveway, but to no avail. My little Honda was stuck. And by stuck, I mean STUCK. It took 30 minutes plus three people, two physically pushing the car, to get it out. It struck me as we finally got the car free by rocking it back and forth a bit, that pushing a car out of thick, heavy snow is rather like giving birth. :0

*represses a few memories*

Neither very pleasant, to be sure, but a satisfying result. I'm not going to comment further on the snow situation here, because I'll just work myself up again, it's so endlessly frustrating. February was the coldest month in WNY history, EVER. I know other places get colder, but we've had so much snow and we're just stuck with it because it piles up and will not melt. It's not an easy combination, and we're all dying for a little let up. But that's that.

In happier news, Mass for smashing, as usual. I actually got a reprieve from bathroom trips this week, Anne was happily distracted by Children's Liturgy of the Word. Our new priest was there again, and announced that he wants to start a Worship Committee, and is looking for volunteers.

:0

I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for years. There are other volunteer opportunities at our parish, but they're just not a fit for me based upon scheduling or lack of talent on my part (music ministry). ;-) But committees? I'm good at those! And assumedly they meet once a month or so, and I can commit to that. So, interested people were asked to call and leave their name with the parish office, which I did this morning. I'm excited to see where this goes! Hopefully it'll be a good experience, I will keep you all informed.

How was your 2nd Sunday of Lent, dear reader? I'll talk about Lent again this week, since we're well into it now, and detail how it's going over here. Talk to you tomorrow!

Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 71} 7 things I remember from growing up Catholic, edition...


Morning all! I'm feeling a bit better today, though still on the mend. My nose seems to not be trying to kill me anymore, so I'll take it.  In thinking about what to write today, my mind drifted back to Lent. Catholic stuff, hum... It's Friday of the first week of Lent, and we're all very heavily immersed in our Lenten promises and meat-free meals. I have a completely different perspective on all things Catholic as an adult than I did as a child. I *love* hearing conversion stories, and I think it's because I'm not a convert. I was raised Catholic, so it's fascinating for me to read about what causes a person to choose to be Catholic. Now, in a sense, I chose it too, but let's circle back to that. I'll tell you a little about my story and you can leave yours in the comments. :) So. What are 7 things I remember from my cradle Catholic childhood?

-1- Mass is boring :0

Oh baby. :) Other cradle Catholics out there, you felt this way too, right? When you're raised as part of something, it takes on a feeling of being pretty ordinary, yes? I did not enjoy going to Mass as a child, and the reason is that I did not understand exactly what was going on there, and why we were doing this. I felt like I was forced to go by my mom, and I'm certain that Henry feels this exact same way about his current situation. :) I did not understand that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, and that the liturgy is taken from Scripture and has eternal meaning. I just knew that we had to go silently sit on these uncomfortable pews for 45 minutes and I did not like it. When we got to the Our Father, I'd get all excited because I knew that meant that we were about 75% of the way through. I had it calculated. :0

-2- But religious education classes? WORSE

Lord, *help*, but those classes were painful. I remember tromping there every Tuesday afternoon, jealous of my classmates who simply got to go home an hour early from school. Yes, I grew up in Niagara Falls, a very Catholic city, and the public schools actually dismissed early on Tuesdays so that the Catholic children could attend religious education. Odd, but true. I never enjoyed those classes, because I didn't understand why I had to go. We didn't go to Mass every Sunday, so why the emphasis on these classes and making the sacraments? At this point in time, my dad wasn't Catholic, so that was certainly a factor in the mix. The classes seemed trite and unimportant to me. I didn't connect them to any larger moral and religious worldview.

-3- God though? Always there

Although I didn't really understand my Catholic identity very well, I was raised with a firm belief in God, and that has never failed me. I remember being about 4 years old and "seeing" Jesus one night when I was alone in my room and frightened about something. I don't know if that was simply a dream or not, but I don't consider that detail all that important. The important thing was that my belief in Him comforted and soothed me, and I never doubted His presence and love for me.

-4- First Communion is such a fond milestone of Catholic childhood

Even though I didn't understand the Eucharist until I was an adult (I'm certain I was told about it, in those much maligned religious education classes :) but I was never paying attention; I am the QUEEN of mind wandering) I remember being excited about making my First Communion. In fact, I remember the morning quite vividly, and given how long ago that was (doing public math, hum... just over 30 years ago; great, now I feel old) it's fairly significant that it still stands out in my mind. It was a beautiful spring day, with a cloudless blue sky, and I remember putting on my dress and veil and being SO EXCITED to process into the church with my class. I kind of wish I had a photo to share, but, nah. It was the early 80's, let's not go back there, shall we? I'm pretty sure my dress had puffy sleeves and *pleats*.

:0

-5- Confirmation? At least it's cool to pick a new name

Yes, the ambivalence continued, I'm afraid. In our diocese, Confirmation takes place in 10th grade, and at that point I felt no connection to my faith whatsoever. I chose St. Cecilia as my patron simply because I liked her name. I remember being annoyed that the girl ahead of me in the line up to the bishop had also chosen Cecilia as her name, which makes no sense, but there you have it. After that, I thought no more of Confirmation other than that it meant that I no longer had to go to religious education classes. Victory!

-6- But those graces? They're sneaky :)

Well hello there, college. Despite you being of the Catholic persuasion, you're not exactly a hotbed of devout activity. But...

By now, my dad was Catholic. And I had been attending a Marian prayer group with my mom for several years, at first simply because they served snacks. :) But I kept going because of the fellowship, and all that praying, as well as accumulated sacramental graces, had a lasting impact. There was a beautiful chapel on campus, and one day in my freshman year I had a bunch of time between classes, so I stopped in. Daily Mass was ongoing, and what's this?

Once you go to daily Mass, you're done. That is the sign of imminent conversion of heart. I went as often as I could throughout college, though that waned a bit more towards the end of my time there.

-7- Ultimately, I become a "vert"

I remember reading once that there are three ways that Catholics can describe themselves:

(1) A convert - came into the Church from a different faith, or no faith at all;

(2) A revert - raised Catholic, actively left the Church, and formally returned; or

(3) A "vert" - never left the Church, but didn't form a full Catholic identity until sometime past early childhood, when the person embraces their faith by taking the time to truly understand it.

Granted, baptism makes a person Catholic, even if they receive it as an infant, as I did. But ultimately, you do have to choose to be Catholic if you're going to continue your faith as an adult. Otherwise, the seed will wither and not take root. Although I went through some bad times after college, during which I stopped going to Mass and made some terrible choices, my heart was once again moved to seek Him out (lurking sacramental graces once again saving my undeserving self). And when I went back to daily Mass? Boom, I was done. :) Haven't looked back since.

I enjoyed this little trip down memory lane! Maybe next week I'll write about the things that really changed my heart about my faith once I studied and examined them during graduate school. But I digress. What is your story? Do tell me all about it, I love faith stories! And don't forget to check out other 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum. :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Still sickly, but who can sleep? Hence, lots of knitting and reading going on...

This will be a shorter post today since I feel like a stiff breeze could blow me right over. :) I just have a cold, it's not the end of the world, but MAN is it hanging on. My energy is just depleted, and I feel like all I want to do is curl up in bed. In fact, I did just that yesterday afternoon, which is always the true sign of me feeling poorly. I took the day off yesterday to attend Mass at Henry's school since the bishop was coming, but it ended up turning into a sick day of sorts (though I did attend the Mass, and it was smashing). While Anne napped, I ended up in bed doing that thing that parents do during the day when they are exhausted/sick which resembles sleeping, but is not *actual* sleeping. While I lay there with the covers pulled up over my head, people peek their heads in and out of the bedroom, what sounds like a herd of elephants go up and down the stairs, doors slam, restroom facilities are used without the door being shut (that would be Henry, ironic, isn't it? since he slams every other door), loud arguments break out...ah, Anne is up!

But I did lay down, which should have made me feel better, except it made me feel worse, and I got out of bed cold, somewhat crabby and even more tired than when I got in it. Joy.

But in the mean time, Mike is in final rehearsals for his play, which opens this weekend. Can I just interject how absolutely adorable my husband is in actor mode? I mean, he's cute all the time, but this just heightens his attractive qualities. I've been helping him memorize his lines, so that has been a pleasant interlude in my sickly-ness.

Otherwise, I've been reading a lot to pass the time while I lie around feeling listless. My current read is a light inspirational romance from the Love Inspired line, Hometown Valentine by Lissa Manley. Seasonal and sweet, we have an uncle suddenly left with his infant niece when his sister passes away unexpectedly, and a local woman coming to his aid who is hoping to break out of her small town by scoring a slot on a fashion-centered reality TV show. I'm enjoying it.

And I've been knitting! I finished my Downton Abbey mystery shawl, ta DA!

I love the lace, even though I swore at it while I was knitting it. :0 Since I finished that, I've been working on a gray cardigan, (the drabbest color in the history of the universe, which I'm choosing to call "smoky sunset" in an effort to make it more appealing) and my crocheted forest-themed afghan. So far so good!

How is everyone's Lent going so far?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Catholic Book Club: The Three Most Wanted

Happy Catholic Book Club Wednesday everyone! I am *very* excited about February's selection, which is book 2 in the I Am Margaret series by Corinna Turner, this installment titled The Three Most Wanted. If you haven't delved into this series yet (and this is for adults and young adults alike, I would say high school age and up) I would encourage you to read my review of book 1 to get a sense of the dystopian foundation for the series.

Did you go back and read it? :0 It's important, since otherwise the description of the second book will be confusing. But heck, never mind my review, read the book if you can! I cannot say *enough* about how much I am enjoying this series. Importantly, this review will contain spoilers of how the last book ended, so if you're committed to reading the series, go ahead and pause here.You can come back to read the review and leave your comments after you're done with book 1. :)

But here is the description from Amazon for The Three Most Wanted:
"2,000 KILOMETRES – 3 NEW ADULTS – A BLOC-WIDE MANHUNT
SAFE? NOT EVEN COMPARATIVELY.
“Bane? Take Margo and go. You’ve done everything you can. Just leave me here, I’ll be fine.”
“No, you won’t,” said Bane.
“Fine. I won’t. Doesn’t make any difference now. Go.”

Margo, Bane and Jon are posing as just three more summer backpackers... but they have two thousand kilometres to go and the EuroGov’s hunt is closing in. They’re not the only ones in trouble. Major Everington is on trial for his life. And all those who help and betray them have problems of their own – the EuroGov has a lot to answer for. Even if they make it – just how safe is the long-besieged Free State?"
So we have our three endearing main characters from book 1, Margaret, Bane and Jon, and they are trying to walk to the Vatican, which is a Free State within this evil EuroGov empire. Annnnddddd, they have quite a lot of ground to cover. :) Margaret and Jon are Catholic, which is fiercely forbidden within this government-controlled territory. They forged a friendship while imprisoned together in the last book, after they failed their Sorting. Meaning that they are detained until the government decides to kill them for use of their body parts. Bane helped them escape, and he and Margaret are in love. Bane isn't a believer, but is sympathetic to the cause. These three, after freeing an entire facility of detainees, are very much wanted by the government. They desperately need to get to Rome before anybody recognizes them, so that they can seek asylum.

Along the way, as one would expect, they encounter a whole lot of challenges. Food is a huge issue, and Jon is injured. But Bane and Margaret will not leave him behind. It's all of them or none of them. They unwittingly run into different people who act as though they will help them, but...can they be trusted? The penalty for helping fugitives is high, but pretty much everyone in this universe has something to gain (or at least the hope of a gain) by trading information to the government in exchange for a detained loved one.

And this author expresses all of this SO WELL. I can literally *feel* the desperation in this book. Young people whose sweetheart was taken, or parents with children in a facility (or worse). It's heartbreaking, and people are in palpable emotional pain over it. And Margaret, Bane and Jon's feverish attempt to survive, their instinct to preserve their own life and the lives of those they love, is also palpable. I felt like I was right along with them as they traveled.

These books have a solid Catholic pro-life worldview that is espoused by our heroes and heroine, and the story as it unfolds will grip your imagination and make you appreciate your faith anew. I LOVE books like this, that are thrilling page turners, and that I identify with in terms of both the characters and the faith/morals presented. Once again, I found myself bringing my Kindle in with me to work so that I could read over lunchtime. That, in and of itself, is a testament to the power of a book.

As you would imagine, there are things that transpire in this book that are HARD. There was one particular scene that made me tear up over breakfast, and that was the first day of the lunchtime Kindle habit since I simply *had* to find out what happened next. I've spoken in other posts about having a difficult time reading about torturous, evil things, in one instance discontinuing my reading of the book. Although things that are unspeakably awful happen in these books, I did not have the same reaction to them at all.  The author handles it so adeptly, letting us see how our Catholic heroine applies her faith to deal with the events. The reactions of the characters are so genuine, so true to how the author has developed them, it all just *fit.* An evil empire is going to do evil things, but with our faith to sustain and guide us, we are strengthened and soothed. I was so inspired by the example of these characters.

So, if it wasn't already obvious, I HIGHLY recommend this book, as I did book 1 in the series. The instant my Kindle got to 100%, I was tweeting Corinna asking her about book 3 and I HAVE GOOD NEWS: it is coming out March 15th!

*angels!*

I can.not.wait. CANNOT WAIT! I am completely hooked on these books. They are all $3.88 for Kindle, and seriously: that is the bargain of the year!! We need to support creative and talented Catholic authors like Corinna. So if dystopian fiction is your thing, give these books a whirl. I really think you will love them.

Is anybody else reading this series? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bravely battling my cold, & a touching experience at Confession...

Good day to you all. *weak smile* I appear to be in the full throes of this cold, but I'm focusing on the fact that I am super grateful to not have the flu. I'm feeling very run down and stuffy, and my voice is taking on that husky quality that my husband finds very appealing (*snorts*), so I'm hoping to make it thorough my work day unscathed, especially since I had to teach this morning. That went well, but I am DRAGGING. I had to turn my Introvert Who Needs To Act Like An Extrovert Energy Meter over to "Mega Watt!" so that I wouldn't wilt mid-class. It worked, but I'm feeling the aftereffects. Thankfully, my adorable Mike made dinner before he went to teach, so all I have to do is pop it into the oven when I get home. 

But today is Tuesday, which is the day that Confession is held at one of the parishes near our house, the parish affiliated with Henry's school, actually. And when I go to Confession, this is usually the session that I stop in for. At our home parish, Confession is offered on Saturdays and it just rarely works with whatever we have going on that day. Tuesday afternoon I can stop on my way home from work. And it's Lent. So I have confession on my mind.

Thus, I was thinking about the last time I stopped off for Confession, I think it was in December. I really wish my little Confession app kept track of the last date I attended, I don't think it does that?! IT NEEDS TO DO THAT. But I may be doing something wrong, wouldn't be the first time. ;-)

At any rate, I step into the church, dip my fingers into the holy water font, and as I go to cross myself...I see a large line positively *snaking* back from the confessional. And I, in selfish fashion, heave a long suffering sigh. I'm feeling rushy because I want to get home to Mike and the kids and was hoping for no line. But the last time I had tried to go to confession it had been cancelled, and so I really wanted to get in before Advent was over. So I tiptoed my way to the back of the line.

And there I waited. :) I waited so long that I actually started a rosary to use up some of the time. A few people ahead of me was an older man. When he came out of the confessional, hope sprung in my heart because then I was only a few spots away from having it be my turn. He made his way slightly behind where I was standing and knelt in a pew. Suddenly...

I could hear him talking. To God. :) And I hope that he doesn't mind me reproducing this here, but since he is a total stranger to me, and I don't even remember what he looks like, he couldn't possibly be more anonymous, so I think he would be OK with it. :) I wasn't eavesdropping; he was speaking audibly, and what I heard touched me so deeply:

"Lord, I'm trying not to sin. But please take the temptation away, Lord. You know I don't want to sin, but it's so difficult when I'm tempted."

I don't know (thankfully, because that's just between him and God) what exactly he was referring to, but it matters not. It could apply to pretty much anything, and let's just be honest: any one of us could be having this exact same discussion with God about a sin that we struggle with. I was just so moved by the honesty and vulnerability in his approach to prayer.

And thus I felt quite humbled when it was my turn to go into the confessional. Why was I in such a rush?  My focus was all wrong. Indeed, as my Confession experience was wrapping up, the priest reminded me to share my struggles with God and to just "talk to Him sometimes, like you would a friend." I thought of that older man again, and I have kept his example in my heart since that day.

I don't know that I'm going to end up stopping off at Confession again today (feeling pretty run down) but I will one Tuesday prior to Holy Week, for certain. And I'll think about my fellow penitent each time I go.

Have you ever felt particularly moved at Confession? Do share (with however much or little detail you feel comfortable with, of course) in the comments. :)

It's book club day tomorrow! The post won't be out until the afternoon since I'll be home with Anne and I need to blog when she naps. But I'm so excited to talk about this month's book!

Monday, February 23, 2015

So much snow and an insidious cold, but the warmth of community, on the 1st Sunday of Lent...

"You kind of set off an eternal winter, everywhere!"

Yes, that would be my family standing on the snow beside our driveway, and that thing behind their heads is our ROOF. That pretty much sums up the state of things over here in WNY right now. I usually enjoy winter, but this year has me very weary. And now I have caught Anne's cold, so you can just imagine the level of crankiness I bring with me this morning. Aren't you delighted to be here? ;-)

So I'm feeling all stuffy and weak, and I'm not happy about this at ALL. I just brewed some tea, so hopefully that will help. But anyway, you're not here to dwell in cold misery with me, let's focus on the positive, shall we?

As I mentioned on Ash Wednesday, our parish has a new pastor. There was a retirement elsewhere in the diocese, and thus some subsequent priest shuffling to accommodate for that. The kids and I really liked our first impression of the new guy, Fr. Joe, on Wednesday, so I was excited to see how he handled his first Sunday Mass with us. After all, that would be the first time many parishoners saw him.

I know that I remarked on Wednesday that he was a good homilist, and he only reinforced that yesterday. As we all sat down following the reading of the Gospel, he paused, then said:

"I've been thinking about what I'd say to you all right now...for the past two months."

Immediately, we were all rapt with attention. :) He talked about how happy he was to be with us, and how he wanted to get to know us all. He said that he loves sports and if we let him know when the kids had games, he would come watch. He wove in humorous anecdotes from his own life to let us know how he planned to structure his homilies for the foreseeable future, and how we can try and grow in holiness together throughout Lent and thereafter. He made some jokes and mentioned that his favorite drink is a Manhattan. I love this guy! He was done about 5-7 minutes later, and here's the thing - he didn't need to go on for any longer. What he said resonated with the group, and everyone was hanging on every word. It was a very effective and engaging use of time. When he stepped down from the lectern, there was the slightest pause of surprised silence before the congregation gave him a round of spontaneous and hearty applause. I'm not normally a fan of clapping in Mass, but this time it fit. He made us feel wanted and special, and we wanted him to feel appreciated and welcome. It was lovely.

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist I just felt all warm and glowy. I was worshipping with my family in faith, and I'm very excited about where we are headed together. And we have two people from our parish receiving the sacraments this Easter Vigil and coming into the Church! *tears!* We did a little send off for the Rite of Election as part of the liturgy.

I could hear people talking about Fr. Joe as we all exited the church following Mass, and everyone seemed pretty chirpy and happy about the whole thing. We paused to talk to a sweet teenage girl who has taken a shine to Anne, and to our favorite usher, and I really feel like we're becoming a part of the community. I will grant, we've been members of this parish for about 7 years, but when you're an introvert, these things take time. ;-)

I feel very blessed this Lent. How was your first Sunday of the season, dear reader?

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 70} Lenten Friday stresses & wild goose chases, but also birthday week continues! edition

What's going on in my part of the tundra on this Friday after Ash Wednesday? Do read on!

-1- Worried about my little button!

I'm worried about Anne. :-\ I noticed when I checked on her last night prior to heading to bed that she was snoring and seemed restless and congested. Sure enough, she woke several times last night, seeming stuffy, uncomfortable and out of sorts. This morning she was a bit chilled. :( :( :( My babe! I'm very worried that she picked up whatever awfulness Mike had last week. I'm praying that it's simply a cold.

-2- "Please call me back. I'm looking for the following minutia about a person whose name I don't even know..."

And that's not really that much of an exaggeration.

I.Tell.You. *long suffering sigh*

I got on the reference desk this morning already preoccupied about Anne, and the angry red voicemail light was on the telephone. I glared at it, but that decided did NOT make it go away. So I retrieved the message, and it was one of our rather infamous patrons. That is to say, a person not affiliated with the university who regularly calls the reference desk asking odd questions that require the librarian to go on a bit of a wild goose chase. I'm not saying these are simply challenging research questions, because of course that is our job. Without going into detail, I'm saying these are eccentric questions, requiring lengthy and frustrating time spent in answering them, asked by an eccentric individual. I'm certain my fellow librarians know exactly what I am talking about. :)

So it was one of those, and I then had to spend the requisite lengthy and frustrating time so that I could get back to her.

#offeringitup

#martyr!

;-)

-3- Wine and Vegetable Pho are a *very* good combination...

But in happier news, I am milking this birthday week thing for all it's worth. I got together last night with some girlfriends from college for an evening of fun conversation, wine and Vietnamese food. And thinking ahead, this Catholic girl ordered a meat-free dinner so that I could eat the leftovers for lunch today. I am SO looking forward to that after this seemingly endless reference shift is over. The only downside to the whole affair was the fact that we had to go outside after we finished dinner to drive back home. Nothing like blowing and drifting snow blown right into YOUR FACE and negative temperatures to suck the joy out of you. But we persevere.

-4- More wine, but only *after* we're done balancing things on our heads while we dance...

Tonight after dance rehearsal my troupe is getting together at the studio for wine and dance talk. We've been wanting to do this for some time, and this is just the date that worked for all of us, it actually has nothing to do with my birthday. But I'm counting it as part of my birthday week anyway. :) We'll also be shoring up our somewhat staggering repertoire of dances, which while intimidating, is also fun, because they're all so different from each other. Never a boring Friday night, that's for sure! And we're still working on that crazy giant veil choreography, so I'm sure I'll have amusing details to report next week. :0

-5- Romantic dinners are bliss

Mike and I LOVE going out to dinner together (without the kids :) although we like going to dinner the 4 of us as well), and every nice occasion we have we plan a dinner for it. Birthdays, wedding anniversary, dating anniversary (we added that one in just for the fun of it), holidays = dinner. My birthday dinner is scheduled for this Saturday and I am SO looking forward to it. It's still Lent, but it'll be Saturday, so meat is an option. Happy!

-6- Busily doing our Lenten reading...

But back to Lent. If you're following along in the Magnificat Lenten Companion are you partaking in today's suggested penance of skipping part of a meal? Well, the text actually said "skip a meal or part of one." I have to be honest and say that I don't think it's healthy to skip meals, so I'm not choosing to do that, but "part of a meal" I can get behind. So I have my leftovers for lunch, but no supplemental side or sweet bite for afterwards. I'm enjoying these suggested penances, it's really causing me to put a lot more thought into Lent this year.

-7- Catholic Book Club Wednesday approaches!

Are you reading the second book in the I Am Margaret series by Corinna Turner, The Three Most Wanted?

!

I cannot reiterate enough how much I am enjoying these books, and how talented this author is. I have a lot to say about this installment in the series, and I hope that you consider reading these books along with me! Each of the books is less than $4 for Kindle, and so.worth.it. My review of book 1 is here, and look for my review of book two on Wednesday, February 25th!

All right, I have to jet, but I look forward to talking to you all again on Monday! Check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Catholic Nook: Chaplet of St. Dymphna

Good day to you all, and I hope that your Thursday after Ash Wednesday is off to a good start. :) I've been happily reading along with my Magnificat Lenten Companion, do you have your copy? If not, you can download the Kindle version for 99 cents. I'm loving mine. Today's suggested penance is to offer up your day for someone, and keep that person in mind all day. I love that! I have my person all tucked in my brain, and am offering away. :)

And with Lent turning all of our minds to prayer, I thought I'd pen a Catholic Nook post today. These posts tend to favor a discussion of chaplets, because I love them so much. :) And here we have another one!

Allison made this chaplet for me, that is in fact my St. Dymphna chaplet posing in the photo for this post. She almost always has a St. Dymphna chaplet in her Etsy store (like this one), or you can ask her to custom make one for you.

St. Dymphna is the patron saint for those suffering from mental illness. She has a rather sad story, involving her father trying to attack her, and ultimately killing her. The mental illness patronage comes into play since what father not afflicted by mental illness in some way would treat his daughter like this? St. Dymphna forgave and prayed for him, and now we can ask her intercession for matters involving mental health. For me, I've struggled with postpartum depression in the past, and so I'm very sensitive to this issue. I find this chaplet soothing to pray if I'm feeling anxious or down about something.

The traditional colors of a St. Dymphna chaplet are red (symbolizing martyrdom), white (symbolizing virginity), and green (representing mental illness). To pray with this chaplet:
  • On the St. Dymphna medal, ask for her intercession and lay out your intention.
  • On the two "drop" beads, pray 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary.
  • Then, on the other beads, pray the Glory Be 15 times, in honor of the 15 years of St. Dymphna's life.
Simple and fast, and very comforting.  Has anybody else prayed this chaplet before?