Last weeks in California!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!


This is our last full week in our apartment! Next week the movers come and we move out to a hotel until we fly out to our new digs in Minnesota!
I feel like both my time for blogging, and need to write, have gone way down in all the moving hustle so here's some thoughts on the past weeks and moving.

1

We had our last Dominican Easter! 

I sang A LOT. I logged about 15 hours of singing last week. Consider it my goodbye gift to the parish. Making it to Easter brunch felt like crossing the finish line.

I am crazy proud of all of our RCIA attendees who received their sacraments this year!


It was a rainy Easter here but there was enough of a break in the rain to do a (very quick) confetti egg hunt and fight in the park.

Part of the joy of Easter is smashing the egg shells from the confetti eggs.
2

Overall, I am not sad to be leaving California.
Things feel like they came/are coming to a natural conclusion point here. I am very happy with what we have been able to do in our time here in Berkeley. I will miss some people and places, but it does feel nicely closed. I know there will not be enough time to say goodbye to everyone, for one reason or another, but we are giving it our best shot!

3

The movers come next week!
Because this is a company move we have to have the moving company pack us, but we can prepare by getting rid of anything we can not/do not want to take with us.



My Lenten 40 Bags in 40 Days project was a success. Not all of my "bags" were physical bags. Taking the time to transfer medical records, set up plans for the coming year, clean out my email files, etc. counted as some of the bags. We still have some remaining food items, art supplies, cleaners, etc. to get rid of in the next week, but I think we're in very good shape for the movers!

4

My husband just completed his last business trip out to the Twin Cities without us!
(Yea for less solo parenting in my future!)

Speaking of solo parenting, congratulations to reader Lissa who won the pocket rosary from Rosaries by Allison! I hope you enjoy it!

5

The bump is finally showing!


I'm 18 weeks along this week, and per what seems to be my usual it just seemed to pop almost overnight. Since this is my 3rd pregnancy to come this far along, we can be pretty sure this is just how I roll.

6

Doing Ballet while showing is not nearly as challenging as I thought it would be. I can still jump and move as well as ever. The challenge is re-negotiating what centered and balanced feels like each week. Turning is a little more difficult, but I think that has more to do with re-learning how to get on my leg each class (aka. centered! It's the never ending dancer struggle.)
Hopefully I have one more class before we move, then I will probably switch to training at home for a while until after this little one is born.

I have been surprised by how many people expect pregnant women to "stay active" yet there does not seem to be much actual moving that they approve of pregnant women performing. Listen to your body obviously, but pregnancy is just not as fragile of a state as it gets made out to be. In fact this is prime time to get moving. How can we expect women to do the marathon that is birth without any physical training?
Someday I'll write a whole post on Ballet and continuing movement while pregnant. 

7


During all of Matt's business trips to our new home state, he has made it his job to investigate all of the arts, food, and natural sites as he can. He's making it very hard not to look forward to living there!



7 Things They Might Not Tell You in RCIA

Monday, April 10, 2017


We're on the edge of Holy Week y'all! 
This year I have been helping out with our parish RCIA program. RCIA is near and dear to my heart. My mom is a convert and so are some of my best friends. Hanging out with people who genuinely want to learn more about the Catholic faith and are seeking understanding is a great experience for re-lighting your own faith fire!
But there are a lot of little things involved in Catholic practice that might not get communicated in RCIA classes.



1

Crossing Yourself When Passing a Catholic Church

My husband did not grow up with this tradition and he took him months to finally ask me why I was always making the Sign of the Cross when we passed a Catholic church (on public transit, making the Sign of the Cross at odd moments gets you a couple stares.)

We do this in acknowledgement that we are passing the real Presence that is truly residing in that place. It's a pause of reverence. It doesn't take very long but it is an easy way to remind yourself of why that building is different from any other building.

2

Praying a Hail Mary When You Hear an Ambulance Siren

There are lots of variations on this one, but I grew up with saying a Hail Mary when you heard an ambulance siren. It is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead. I don't need to know the specifics of the situation to know that that sound means that someone is in great need of help. I'm praying both for the person in need of care and for the emergency workers who now bear a responsibility for life saving measures. The prayer acknowledges that this need is happening in my community, is something I should care about, and offers the only help I am able to give at that moment.

3

All the Extra Prayers at the End of the Rosary

Hopefully, you covered what the rosary is and generally how to pray it in RCIA class. 
Then you get to your first time saying the rosary in a group. Maybe it's the night before a funeral, a post-mass rosary, or with a parish rosary group. You get through that last standard prayer, Hail, Holy Queen, and then everyone around you JUST KEEPS GOING. From memory. 

It's not just you, most rosary pamphlets don't include those additional prayers. However, there are some basic patterns!
The typical additional prayers are: The Memorare, St. Michael Prayer, Prayer for Vocations.
Prayer for Vocations has a lot of local variations, but the first two are fairly standard. There might be other additions, especially litany prayers but most of those are easy responded to with a "Pray for Us" at the end of each name. 
If you experience this in a rosary group or other regularly meeting group, ask the leader if they would not mind writing down the list of prayers they do at the end. Most are happy to help and you will be better able to participate!

4

Huge Variations in Fasting Rules

One would think that being required to fast and abstain from meat on the same days as all other Catholics in the world would mean that there were identical rules all over the world. 
But no. 
There are large cultural, local, and national variations in what constitutes appropriate fasting and abstinence.
Best rule of thumb is to look up the requirements in our country and diocese and start with those. If you feel called to a stricter practice, run it by a priest or trusted Catholic friend. Don't be intimidated by people who give up red meat or animal products for all of Lent or also abstain from water. Those are extra and you're not doing it wrong if you are following your country and diocesan guidelines.

5

Genuflecting

You might notice people bending down on one knee before going into the pews on Sunday. They also seem to have other pauses and bends at other times. I don't think I got clear on when to genuflect/bow/kneel until I was an altar server growing up. Here are the basic rules:

* Genuflect with your right knee touching the ground (Fun Fact: This position is reserved for reverence to God so go down on your left knee to propose fellas!)

* Genuflecting is preferred but a bow at the waist or head is appropriate in situations when genuflection is physically difficult (say when super pregnant, arthritic, or holding crying baby.)

*Genuflect or bow when: entering the pew, crossing the alter or tabernacle, before receiving the Eucharist (Side Note: we don't genuflect when returning to the pew after receiving communion because your body is at that moment a living tabernacle. Whoa!)

Again, there will be local variations but these are good general rules.

6

Home Holy Water Fonts and Other Practices

Catholics are big on the domestic church concept, but the options can seem overwhelming. Know that beyond basic praying and teaching of the faith within the family none of this is required. But it's fun!

For most brand new Catholics, I recommend just starting with observing the major Solemnities and seasons in the Church calendar and Holy Days of Obligation in the home. Eventually you will develop your own traditions - maybe around the saint you chose as your patron at Confirmation or the date of the Easter Vigil you entered the Church (Easter will not always be the same calendar day!)

For this first Holy Week, maybe set aside a little table, or top of a desk or dresser, to place your blessed palm from Palm Sunday, your Baptismal candle, etc. 

7

What To Do If Your RCIA Class Missed Some Big Stuff

Don't panic! Your RCIA class is not meant to be completely comprehensive of everything there is to know about Catholicism. I've been Catholic since birth and I'm still not out of things to learn.

But what if you think you missed something really big and important?

When I asked women in some Catholic facebook groups I participate in what they felt they missed in RCIA, hot topics came up frequently as untouched in RCIA. Top among those was Church teaching on Natural Family Planning. Thankfully, most dioceses should have a coordinator for family life that should be able to direct you to NFP instruction in your diocese. There are also lots of awesome organizations and helpful facebook groups to help answer your questions.

Don't be afraid to talk to your pastor if you truly feel like big topics are missing in your program. Everyone wants to make sure you are as prepared as possible for this next step!

*************
The pocket rosary giveaway with Rosaries by Allison ends this Friday! If you have not entered yet, head over to do that on this post.



**************
Did you go through RCIA? What things surprised you about Catholicism? What got missed in RCIA class?
Also, early welcome to the Church to all of the Catecumens and Candidates reading this!


Five Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood

Monday, April 3, 2017

I got tagged to participate in the Rocking Motherhood Challenge back in February by Lovely Little Lives. It sounded so cool and I was so ready to write my take on it....and then I completely forgot about it. But my memory was jogged when Sweeping Up Joy wrote her list of ways she's rocking motherhood, so I'm going to hop back on this bandwagon!




We Explore

At the beginning of our school year we committed to doing at least one field trip or excursion each month. I am one of those people that may or may not be able to rally the troops for a spontaneous adventure, but I will fulfill plans on the calendar like it's the law.



Top picks from this year have been: California Academy of Sciences (think natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium all rolled into one), Hoes Down Festival at our CSA farm, and Angel Island excursion that also turned into Civil War re-enactment adventure.



I Foster Reasonable Independence

One of my goals as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I want to raise my kids to accept the responsibilities they can reasonably take on, and to be able to make good choices without my constant vigilance. 
That means, as soon as I can, I am working with them on scaffolding physical, social, and emotional skills. This ranges from working on specific fine motor abilities so they can learn to dress themselves to going over how to answer adult's questions and what to do when another kid tries to take your toy.

Yes, it means basic things like getting ready in the morning will take a little longer for a bit, but the payoff of not having to hover and do everything for multiple little people is worth it! The kids are always *so proud* once they have mastered a new skill, and getting to be there when that light bulb moment happens is one of my greatest rewards in parenting.

We're Adventurous Eaters

My husband works in the food industry and we both enjoy cooking and trying new foods - cooking together was a central part of our dating and engagement years. 
Encouraging the kids to try bites of foods that have a new taste or texture has become important to our family culture. Part of why that works is mom and dad are trying new things too. Not everything is a hit. Sometimes experiments fail and the kids get to see how we handle failure and work towards preventing food waste even when the initial attempt was less than tasty.




This process has resulted in some odd favorite foods with my kids. Their top picks are: sushi, miso, nori, swanky cheeses, spinach pancakes, green salads, brothy soups, and most raw veggies.

I'm Not Isolated

One of my most important discoveries as a new mom with my first baby was I do absolutely terribly when isolated alone in my house. I know other women can experience that alone time as a calming and centering choice, but I positively wither. I need other people and interaction on at least a semi-regular basis.

Interacting with others has been so important for continuing to grow, both intellectually and in my relationships. Humans need other humans. 
I need someone to bring me back to the ground sometimes. 
I need encouragement.
I need to care about people who are not in my same phase of life.
I need to be willing to broaden my world.

If I only interact with moms, my world shrinks. I owe my kids the minimal effort it takes to reach out of our little world and allow the Holy Spirit to act in our lives.

I'm Committed to Growing My Own Talents

Back in the day I was very involved in dance and theater. I kept saying I would get back to them "someday". "Someday" has a funny way of getting pushed further and further into the future - especially with little kids in the picture. (You can read more about the story of coming back into dance and theater in my #LoveRebelMom post over at the Koala Mom.)



I cannot allow myself to make excuses to avoid the good. Accepting my talents, and weaknesses, and working with that reality is a big part of honoring who I am. Allowing my motherhood to inform my experience, and not hinder it, has made me a better dancer and actor. Allowing myself the space to grow my talents has made me a better mother.  

Tag, You're Up!

These are the other mom bloggers (or bloggers who happen to be moms?) I'm tagging to tell us how they are rocking motherhood!


Kaitlyn at Tea with Tolkien

Christina at A Gentle Mother

Allison at Reconciled to You


#Rocking Motherhood Tag Rules



1. Thank the blogger who tagged you and link to their blog. 
2. List 5-10 things you believe make you a good mother. 
3. Tag some bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag. 
4. Grab the #RockingMotherhood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.

How are you rocking motherhood? (BTW, I want to hear from my godmothers, grandmothers, and spiritual mothers too!)

I Survived Two Weeks of Solo Parenting + A Giveaway!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

Today is the last day of the longest stent of solo parenting I have had to do to date (yea!!) The past two weeks have been testing, clarifying, and surprisingly fruitful. Here are some things I was immensely grateful for during this trip.



1

Crockpots

I learned a few trips ago that continuing to eat our regular style of meal, even when I'm the only pair of hands for the shopping, prep, cooking, and clean up, makes me feel loads better.
But I'm still only one person, so the crockpot has been amazing!
And I'm talking easy, toss it in, crockpot meal. None of this browning, saute, do-75%-of-the-recipe-before-it-goes-in-the-crockpot business. Top winners have been Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Pho.

2

Movie Nights

By that token, having a movie night series post dinner has been great! Since there is normally only an hour or less until bath time once dinner is over, it takes us a 2-3 nights to finish a movie.
We're on a musicals and British children's movie kick. Meet Me in St. Louis and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. Have been big hits.

3

Blog Community

When my husband is traveling it can feel like I haven't had a real conversation with anyone all day. Thanks to my ladies of Everyday Ediths and Young & Wild Catholic Mamas who have been great for encouragement, prayers, and interaction!
Also a huge thank you to Allison Gingras for having me on A Seeking Heart radio show last week! It was lovely chatting with you! If you missed the show, you can listen to it here.

4

Self-care Strategies

Not every day is sunshine and roses, and it gets hard when you realize that it's just you on deck. I have taken advantage of all of these self-care strategies this past week, and they have made all the difference for me!



5

Babysitters Who Got This

We were able to set up sitters for the Mondays and Fridays of this trip so I would be able to have one night at the Ballet studio and one leading the Endow group and Adoration at our parish. It was so nice to have that time and know my kids were going to be fine.

6

Prayer

I lean heavily on prayer, especially the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours, when Matt is traveling. My greatest struggle with prayer is just starting. I like to say the Office of the Readings and Morning Prayer together after breakfast, Evening Prayer after putting the kids down, and Night Prayer before bed. Those time triggers make all the difference for making my prayer time happen!

I have heard a few priests refer to the rosary as "Mary's Rocking Chair". and I totally get it now. No matter how stressed or overwhelmed I get, saying the rosary is like climbing onto your moms lap and just being held for a while.

7

Speaking of rosaries, I have a giveaway for you all!

In celebration of this little blog getting to 200 Facebook page likes. I'm giving away a pocket rosary from Rosaries by Allison! Thanks for visiting this little corner of internet and being awesome everybody!



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Reset Tools - For When Your Day Has Derailed

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ever have one of those days where it feels like the entire day just got off the rails? Life starts to feel out of control. While your rational brain knows these are all little insignificant things happening, the impact has worn on you and you just want a reset button.

We had one of those mornings today. 
A bad night of sleep, while already sleep deprived, plus early rising toddler and misbehaving preschooler.

I was emotionally done with today before 8am.

Since I, clearly, cannot actually check out of the day before it's really began, I started my bad day reset tools. These are the things I use to get in a better mood, clear my head, and mother in a less irritated fashion. I start with whatever sounds good at the moment, or just pick one at random.



Drink Water and Have a Snack - When I'm having a bad day, I stop taking care of my own needs because I'm going into crisis mode. Taking 5 minutes to have a snack (preferably with protein in it) and a big glass of water helps me start the train of properly taking care of myself again.

Get Outside - This instantly gives both me and the kids some breathing room. Get some Vitamin D and go slow. You don't even have to go anywhere. Some of our best walks have been going very slowly around the block inspecting all the bugs, flowers, and other critters we find.

Hot Beverage - Something about warm drinks makes me instantly feel cozy. Coffee is my go to, but you could also go for the soothing chamomile tea option.

Aromatherapy - My husband won a bunch of essential oils and a diffuser at his company Christmas party and I have been making excellent use of them! Lavender is an obvious go to when stressed out, but I find mixing it up with other scents helps me snap out of my mental funk. My favorites right now are the Uplift, Fresh, and Focus blends from Everyone.

Pamper Time - If I can take a break (maybe during naptime, have the kids play outside, or have a movie afternoon) I like to do some pamper time things. I make a DIY foot soak with epsom salt, baking soda, and some essential oils. Use a rice sock. Give myself a hand massage with yummy smelling lotion. Sometimes my muscles need a little reminder to stop holding all the tension.

Get Moving - Once the kids are in a more cooperative mood (or at least occupied) I get moving! Turn on some music that makes you happy and have a dance party. Stretching is super great for getting me in a better mood. I will often do my Pilates/stretching rosary to get me reset both physically and spiritually.

Call on Helpers - When  it feels like the above tools are not working (which happens sometimes) I call in reinforcements! I might call my husband just to commiserate. Text with a friend. Go to the park and introduce myself to someone new. The goal is to get me out of my mental rut and get re-grounded in reality. 

What are some of your bad day reset tools? Do you do something totally different?

Solo Style - My Sunday Best

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Linking up with A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best!

We're midway through my husband's long business trip, which meant today was a solo parenting mass day with the 4.5 year old and 2.5 year old.

Today is Laetare Sunday, so I sent the kids off in search of something pink to wear that would fit our mass clothing requirements.

Guess who got a chocolate donut today....
John normally wears his black loafers as his "church shoes" - AKA. shoes least likely to be covered in mud. Khaki pants, and a shirt that has some sort of collar.


Therese has a few dresses that are officially "church dresses". Since her favorite color is pink, she had no problem finding some pink options in the closet.

She was tickled pink that all the Fathers were wearing her favorite color. She may have thought it was just for her, and I may have let her carry on with that notion.


Dress: Kohl's?
Scarf: Charity Wrap
Shoes and Bag: Target
Not pictured - Ivory Chapel Cap from Veils by Lily

I own exactly one pink clothing item, so I'm pretty proud of myself for remembering to wear it!

Mass was definitely on the aerobic side for me, but we made it through with enough good behavior to join in coffee and donuts downstairs.

We're officially in second trimester with this baby, but I still don't feel like I look any different. Eventually we'll earn a bump age in these pictures once there's a bump to speak of. 14 weeks as of yesterday!

My husband is in Minnesota for job training, but has gotten to take the time to find us a family car (first car ever for us!), blinds and some furniture for the new house. Today he tried out Sunday mass at our new parish. He reports lots of young families in the pews - an encouraging sign!

How was mass for you today? Did you remember to wear pink?

A Good Confession

Tuesday, March 21, 2017



When I was preparing to make my first Confession, back in 3rd Grade CCD, my pastor told us a story about his first confession as a little boy. He wanted to make a really GOOD confession, so he wanted to have a really good sin to tell.
He decided to confess to the priest that he had killed his mother.

The priest, rightly, suspected this might not be the case and inquired a little more into why this 7 year old thought he killed his mother. The story of desiring to have a really good first confession came out, and the priest gave him a little talk about the importance of saying sins you actually committed.

I gleaned from this that a good confession did not necessarily entail having a big mortal sin to confess, but I was still confused about what makes a good confession. I always seemed to be confessing the same things every time, which, when the goal is never to commit those sins again, seemed to be the spiritual equivalent to spinning my wheels.

I was not just trying and failing to do better - I did not fully understand why these sins were a continual struggle or how to start stepping towards defeating those perpetual spiritual struggles.

It was not until going to a talk given by one of my favorite Dominican priests on the 7 Deadly Sins that I started to understand how to make a good confession. That talk gave me the words to name the root causes of my little spiritual struggles.

The one that blew my mind the most was Acedia. I had never heard the term before. Acedia has to do with sadness at a spiritual good. This is when you will do ANYTHING besides pray, go to mass, or pursue other spiritual goods. The very thought of going to confession or praying fills you with sadness and restlessness. Suddenly all those times I convinced myself I had "just gotten too busy" to pray seemed less innocent.

Having a name for root sins was a game changer for me. I could tell the priest specifically what I was struggling with and get much more fine tuned advice that addressed the root issue - not just my venial sin symptoms.

The beauty of examining your sins to find that root pattern is that each of the deadly sins is countered with a virtue. There is a practicality in the teaching that forces us to see ourselves as we really are, but also gives us the virtue road map to lead us out of those sinful patterns. It allows us the brutal honesty necessary to make a good confession, and the fighting chance to really mean it when we say "I firmly resolve with the help of your Grace to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasions of sin."

This post is part of the monthly CWBN Blog Hop. Check out other responses to "my true feelings about Confession" over at Reconciled to You.



There Be Changes Underfoot - 7QT

Friday, March 17, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!



1

40 Bags in 40 Days is going well! I think was the right choice for Lent this year.
I have deviated from my original plan. I assumed I would rather focus on a particular type of clutter at a time, but in reality I work better focusing on one room or spot at a time. 
The end result will be the same, just a different road. I'm still glad I made the chart so I can look at the list and remember a spot that bugs me. Then I can go and handle it!

2

The kids room was the greatest emotional payoff.


The kids were required to be hands on helpers for sorting and making decisions about what to toss and what to keep. They turned out to be more ruthless than I.
It did not make for a quick clean, but when it was done they were SO PROUD of their room and the work they put into it.

3


Sorting through their clothes had to be a whole separate day. We ended up with a bag and a half of donation clothes, and another bag of ripped/stained/full of holes clothes.

But now we have the sweet sweet freedom of everything they put on is appropriate to wear outside the house!
I won't guarantee it's on the right way or matches (since my kids dress themselves), but it's a shirt and pants that are the right size and clean.

4

In case you missed it, I was over on The Koala Mom with Bonnie for her #LoveRebelMom series.



"I had clung to a number of ideas that made it nearly impossible to purse larger goals. I felt guilty about leaving the kids with my husband too much. I was dismissive that I had any talents worth pursuing. Even if I did, I had no business trying while my kids where still little.

Getting rid of untrue fears and thoughts like those meant my whole world opened up. I was free to pursue talents and hobbies I would almost certainly not have had time for if I was not a stay-at-home mom by day. "


5



The Zelie Group has become Everyday Ediths to embrace more women as Catholic women, wives, and mothers. I am excited to continue working with fellow Everyday Ediths writers:
Alicia at Sweeping Up Joy
Christina at Psalms of My Life

6


Finally saw a staged version of Into the Woods last night and...I don't love it. It had nothing at all to do with the actors or the staging (they were great), but the show itself. Y'all, it's a weird show, and full of contradictions. Some of the song lyrics don't even make sense for the characters to be saying. Maybe if it had ended at Act I it would have been ok, I don't know.
So sorry all of my rabid Into the Woods fans. This one is going to go on the "seen it once and I'm good" list.

7

Save the date for next Wednesday!


I'm going to be live with Allison Gingras on her radio show A Seeking Heart at 10am Eastern.
First radio show and I'm excited!


Ember Days - The Best Part of the Liturgical Year You Never Knew Existed

Friday, March 10, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

Happy Ember Friday! Have you never heard of Ember Days? You are in good company. They are not a part of Catholic culture that is in widespread usage. But they could be and I think they should be! 
Here's the low down on Ember Days and why they are the best part of the liturgical year you never knew existed.



1
What are Ember Days?

Essentially, they are 3 days, toward the beginning of each liturgical season, set aside for fasting and prayer and to "to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy" (New Advent). 
They are very ancient practice in the Catholic Church and established somewhere between the Apostolic age and the 5th Century.

2

When are Ember Days?

They are the Wednesday, Friday, Saturday following:
Ash Wednesday
Pentecost
Feast of the Holy Cross
St. Lucia Day

That roughly works out to a set of Ember Days in each Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
So why are they awesome?

3

They are a Liturgical Reset Button

Each of those days are timed toward the beginning of a season, but are typically within the second or third week of a new season. That means they come right at the point when all of your lofty ideals have come tumbling down.
Maybe you are already overwhelmed by all of the prayer options for Lent. 
Maybe you really wanted to focus more on family this Advent but family time has yet to happen.
Maybe you are in a September spiritual slump.

Each of those Ember Days come at a time when you could probably do with slowing down, re-focusing, and re-evaluating.

4

They are the Main Reason I Have a Clean House

Lemme tell y'all a secret....I don't clean all that often. I tidy. I pick up. I wipe down the kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces (or as I call them the "high consequence areas"). 
But stuff like scouring the bathtub, dusting, sweeping into corners? Yeah....that happens about four times a year for sure. Ember Days!

When the Ember Days roll around, I make sure I set aside time to hit all of those tasks. It makes sense to me to clean out my physical house while I am cleaning spiritual house. 
Because the Ember Days come around just before the part of that liturgical season that involves hosting parities, the house is then cleaned and ready for festivities! So much to love!

5

They are a Reminder To Pray While We Work

Because I am normally cleaning during my Ember Days, I have to pray while working by necessity if the prayer part is going to happen. 
I have found that to be a huge blessing! Doing the externals of making myself do the tasks I do not enjoy doing, while holding mental intentions and prayers for other people is very humbling. It is an excellent reminder that my work is not about me.

6

They Are Something The Kids Can Understand

Ember Days are very much an external practice that has a big internal effect. The whole experience is full of stuff the kids can latch onto: praying for people they care about, helping clean out under their beds, making decisions about what clothes don't fit them anymore, etc.

I find that the Ember Days happen often enough for even my little kids to remember the last time they came around. That means they are a convenient way to jump start a family culture centered around the liturgical year.

7

That Thursday Rest Day is Genius

At first I thought it was odd to schedule the days Wednesday then Friday and Saturday. Why not just go full steam ahead? But I have decided that the Church was wise to make it that way.
Because that Wednesday is probably going to be a little rough as I make myself get moving and get my family back on board.
Because there might be other weekday stuff that, by necessity, should get done.
Because having one of the days fall on the weekend greatly increases the likelihood this might be a whole family endeavor.

Are you observing the Ember Days? Is this the first time you have heard of  them? Going to give it a shot?

That Time I Cried In Church - How Parishes Can Be More Family Friendly

Monday, March 6, 2017



Yesterday was the first time in a long time, perhaps the first time at this parish, that I had a run in with one of the church ladies of internet mom lore.
The ones who make it clear that they are tolerating your kids in mass, but that only extends as long as perfect silence reigns.
One wrong sound and the glares start.
Two and the snippy flares up.

We have been attending the 8am mass at our parish for a few years now. We are, typically, the only family with young kids at that mass.
That has been far and away a positive experience. Therese will pop across the aisle to sit with her "Grandma Helen" - the sweetest old lady you will ever meet who has adopted Therese as a spiritual granddaughter of sorts. I'm pretty sure there are two sprinkle doughnuts saved specifically for the kids at the social after mass, and people have gone out of their way to smile and be encouraging about bringing the kids to mass.

But then there is an event like yesterday, and I end up crying silent tears in the pew.

To get settled in the pew, I paired off with 2 year old Therese and my husband, Matt, got 4 year old John. Everyone was in good spirits and even doing better than usual. Therese was talking about her "singing book" (the hymnal) and looking to find the first song to sing. John found the kid page in the bulletin and was coloring in page.

The problem came when the woman I'm going to refer to as "church lady" came in late and slid into the pew directly in front of us.

John dropped one of the fliers from the bulletin, and Therese retrieved it from under the pew for him. *Glance back from church lady.*

Therese came back to me to start looking at the hymnal again.
*Second glance back from church lady.*

Therese went down the pew to Matt to ask for water.
Church lady turns around, gives me a look, and says, "Can you do something about your child?"

Can I DO SOMETHING about my child? Like what?
Gag her? Tie her to the pew? Make sure she is something adults never have to hear or see? She's asking for WATER (ya know, that human necessity) not having a screaming fit.

I just stared at church lady for a good minute, unable to say all of the things that were popping into my head. Things like, "Can you DO something about your lack of human charity?", "I'm sorry, this is not your private mass.", and, "You're welcome to find a different seat."

Instead I held my two year in my lap, and cried big silent tears.

Because I'm pregnant and hormonal.

Because I had never before felt un-welcomed and unwanted in that mass before.

Because attending mass with little kids, much akin to flying with little kids, is HARD. It feels like a full contact sport some days, and I will spend most of mass working my butt off so to minimize sound or distraction for anyone else - often at the expense of getting to participate much myself. To have someone suggest I'm not even trying hit deep.

Then my little community went to work.

A lady a pew ahead of church lady invited her up to her pew, I'm guessing to prevent church lady from doing any more damage.

Grandma Helen got Therese to come over and sit with her a good portion of mass.

At the Sign of Peace, I turned around to find two guys I know had been sitting behind us the whole time. My first thought was, "Great, more people who know me just saw me cry in church. Fan-freakin-tastic." Then one told me not to worry about it, and I teared up again. Because hormonal, but also just so relieved to hear something encouraging.

I saw the woman who invited church lady up to her pew giving church lady a talkin'-to after mass. She also made a point to come up and tell me I had a beautiful family.

To all of y'all who helped yesterday, thanks for not leaving us to deal with that on our own.
Thanks for saying something and doing what you could.

No parish can prevent bad experiences from happening, but the little things matter to parents. Things that show us you think little kids might show up to mass at your parish.

I love that our parish has started having a kids page in the bulletin. They even provide little crayon packs to use.

I love that all of our concerts at the parish, including the ones with extremely good musicians, are free for all kids 18 and younger, and that kids are actively encouraged to come.

I love that we have a changing station in the bathroom. It sounds so simple, but I have been hard pressed to find one in most restaurants here.

I love that we have whole parish events that include kid specific activities, like the St. Patrick's Day party and parish BBQs.

I love that the priests make a point to say hi to the kids as they come in.

Those little signs add up to give parents the hope to keep coming, even when bad experiences happen. We can always keep improving and be better at serving the families who are raising our future priests, nuns, and parishioners, but I hope parishes don't neglect to make small changes. Just because they are small does not make them without impact to a family searching for a place to make their faith home.

House Finding, Snowshoes, and Lent

Friday, March 3, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.



It's been pretty blogging lite around here with all the new developments. Here's what's been happening!

1

News #1: We found a place to live!

Yes, this is February in Minnesota while we were there. It's a weird weird weather year,
It's beautiful and awesome. Matt will have a 5 minute commute to work, and he could even bike like he does now. We're in walking distance of multiple parks.

But I'm most excited about...GAS STOVE! And my very own (at least for my very own use) washer and dryer! If it breaks it's just my problem and it won't be made harder by other people's bad choices. #ApartmentLife

2

The house finding trip was a solo trip since the company includes a weekend nanny as part of our relocation package, so we treated it like our babymoon for this little one too!

Ended up crashing the Hedwig party also happening in the same arts center. Always an adventure here.

Matt is a master of planning for travel and we had a marvelous time trying out restaurant, touring neighborhoods, and catching a show in St. Paul.

3

Speaking of this little one, we got a midwife figured out while we were in town. Knowing we have a plan for the birth rolling, and a place to live means my stress level is much better on that front.
First home birth without neighbors who share walls with us! What luxury!

4

There is still a bunch of planning to do before the move. I'm working on my 40 bags in 40 days plan to get rid of the junk and clutter before moving.
I fell behind on Ash Wednesday, so I played catch up a bit with the rest of the week.

5


Matt's men's group decided to do a trip to the mountains together so we spent last weekend on Lake Tahoe! It was Therese's first time seeing snow. Her reaction: "I yike 'now. Wanna play in the 'now."

Actual first-time-touching-real-snow picture.


6

She was not as much of a fan of snowshoes. I grant her it is hard enough to walk in a snowsuit when you're only two.


John did fabulously. I knew he had good stamina for walking, but little dude walked four miles in the snow! Towards the end he was saying, "my legs are getting a *little* tired."
I think they're going to be fine in Minnesota winter.

7

Lent is off and running!


We did Fat Tuesday with my homemade Kings Cake and Shrimp Etoufee. I learned school masses are the long mass option on Ash Wednesday, but we made it through and the kids got their ashes.


Therese proceeded to ask everyone on the street if they were going to get their "assshhhies". Evangelization starts young I guess.

How's your Lent going? 

Cleaning Out to Be a Better Disciple - The Lent Plan 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hello everybody! We just got back Sunday night from a whirlwind house finding trip in Minneapolis and I think we found a house! More on that later as we make our housing decisions official.

Since we're planning on moving right after Easter, I'm working the moving preparations into my Lent. I started doing that because that was a logistical reality of our moving timing, but I like how the mindset that we need to be ready to go where ever we are called has changed how I'm approaching this Lent.

I am still doing the three prong take on, give up, and pray on focuses that I have used in past years, but I feel like this year has become a little more disciple-like - preparing myself, body and soul, to pick up and go.

Here's the plan!



Take On and Give Up

These two things go together this year. I'm taking on the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge and giving up all of the clutter I have been holding onto. Some of those are sentimental things that I cannot justify holding onto, cleaners I have been saving just in case I need them, craft supplies I have never used after storing them for nearly a decade, etc.

I made a very structured plan for myself to keep myself on track. You can check out my themed, color coded, display-of-type-A-gone-crazy plan on this post.

The 40 Bags idea is not just about physical clutter, but also has to do with digital, emotional, and spiritual clutter. Having a focused time on addressing that ignored baggage sounds like just the ticket for preparing to start anew.

I will be taking off Sundays and other feast days that would normally be exempted from the Lenten fast. The feasts make the fasts all the more meaningful!

Pray On

Since there is so much going on, and lots and lots of life changing decisions to make in the coming months, I am going to be focused on discernment this Lent. Setting aside particular time for 10 minute listening, 10 minute free write, and a dedicated rosary everyday.

When I know I have logistical discernment to do, I like to include the writing aspect so I can see how my thinking changes and what ideas and thoughts popped up.

Endow


I decided to run one last Endow study at my parish before we move. We will be working through the Aquinas Part 2 study that focuses on understanding the theological and moral virtues and applying them to our own lives as women in the world.

Because we are meeting most of the Fridays of Lent, I wanted to make this session a little more retreat-like. We are lucky enough to be able to use the former parish convent space which contains a BEAUTIFUL chapel. Our deacon has agreed to expose the Eucharist for us during the half hour prior to the meeting. So we get a half hour of adoration, a great study to feed our intellect and grow our understanding of faith, and some tea and fellowship time with other Catholic women every Friday for the 8 week session.

We start next week! There are still a few slots - if you are in the Berkeley, CA area, send me an email if you wish to join us.


This post is part of the CWBN Blog Hop with #HowILent theme! Check out the hop to reader how other Catholic women are doing Lent this year.




How are you planning your Lent this year? Do you do take on, give up, pray on?

40 Bags in 40 Days Plan - AKA. Time to Get Ready for Moving!

Monday, February 6, 2017



Even before I knew we would be moving so soon after Easter, I had planned to participate (for the first time!) in 40 Bags in 40 Days with White House Black Shutters.

I normally do some deep cleaning during the Ember Days but this year more purging of stuff felt needed. Now that we are likely moving shortly after Easter, I'm taking the 40 Bags project even more seriously.

Because I'm still my Type A self, I made a color coded themed chart with specific topics for every 7 days of work! I do intend to take Sundays and feast days off. I tried to vary the themes to have some more physical weeks and weeks that were lighter. It's a marathon not a sprint here.




Paper clutter tops my list of things to clean out since it is probably the largest problem to tackle. I think it will have the largest visual impact too. I'm hoping that helps give me the inertia to keep going on the things I REALLY don't want to do....namely cleaning out the kitchen stuff....

Anyone else participating this year? What's the biggest area you want to tackle? What have you been avoiding at all costs?

Car-Free with Little Kids

Friday, February 3, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!


We have been very blessed to live in an area where having a car is not necessary. I have not personally driven in almost eight years, and we have never owned a car. Many family and friends assumed we would need a car after our first child was born, but I especially love being car-less with kids. They develop a lot of walking stamina and leaving the house is as simple as putting on shoes, and maybe strapping on the Ergo, and LEAVING.

It's not possible in every area, but, if you want to give the car-less life a shot, here's how we make it work.

1

Budget lots of travel time

Little legs have a max speed, so it normally takes me a good 20-30 minutes to get somewhere that's a mile away. I've found it's worth it to take a more pleasant route that is a few minutes longer, than the quickest, but less beautiful, path. 

2

Practice different terrain and going longer distances

We live in a very hilly area so my early walkers all get lessons in how to go up and down hills. (It's more complicated than you think.) We also ease in to longer longer (and hillier) distances bit by bit with the toddlers to build up stamina. The goal is to get my 3 year olds comfortably walking a mile.

3

Backup Babywearing

Just in case the toddler is less ready, or just less cooperative today, than I had hoped - I bring a backup Ergo in my tote bag. It beats carrying a deadweight toddler (or worse, a squirming toddler) in arms until you get to your destination.

4

Cut down on what you need to bring when out and about

Space is at a premium when you have to carry anything you might need while out. I have a zippered tote bag of sand toys that comes along to the park, and I bring water bottles for everyone, but that's mostly it. I don't carry snacks, backup clothing for the potty trained, or toys and books. Therese is most of the way to potty training so I don't need a diaper bag (or bottle bag) right now.

Figuring out what you really need and use is important to achieve feeling less like a pack mule.
5

Get a transit card

We have these lovely transit cards in my area that are loaded with funds that are applied when you touch the card to a reader before boarding a bus, train, or trolley. There are often discounts for using the cards (instead of buying a pass every morning), and it's phenomenally faster with kids.

6

Join a carshare

Eventually there comes a need to go further than your legs, or the bus lines, will allow. For things like hikes and Thanksgiving visits, we use a car from our local carshare. There are cars located all over the city and you check it out for a period of time. All of the carshare companies have their own rules and rates so shop around. (For weekend trips, it's often cheaper to rent a car from a traditional car rental. Again, shop around.)

Additional note: invest in a carseat that is lightweight and easy to install. Those bases are not helpful when they don't stay in a car.

7

Make use of delivery services and DIY

We live very close to a grocery store, but carrying bulky or heavy things home is still a challenge. I've made use of the Grove Collective, Amazon Prime, and Diapers.com for bulk wipes, cleaning supplies, formula, etc. 
I also DIY a much of things that I just didn't want to carry home anymore - bone stock and hand soap are my biggest ones. Now they're cheaper and better than what I was buying at the store AND I don't have to carry them home. - win!

What questions do you have about being car-less with kids? What did I leave out? Share your tips too!

How We Met

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When Alicia, from Sweeping Up Joy, put up the questions for this edition of JEI (Just Enough Info) I realized that I have not told the story of how we met!


1. How did you meet your spouse?

We're one of those Catholic dating site success stories. We met on catholicsingles.com!

Back then it was free if you were college aged. I had made an account over the summer with my Mom thinking we would get to the end and would have to pay - which would be the end of that. But it was free so it stayed up. Matt was brand new to the area, he had just moved here to start grad school at UC Berkeley, and in a moment of extroversion he had made one to meet more people.

I was a sophomore in college then, so I was a little younger than he was originally looking for, but he says he "made an exception for me".

We met in person at a local coffee shop, escorted by my college hallmate (because meeting-a-guy-from-online! We'd seen the movies.) We decided to head to mass at the Newman center afterwards and our first dinner was the student dinner in the Newman center hall following mass.

Now it was a longstanding debate about whether or not that meeting was classified as a "first date". I said yes, but Matt always referred to it as "zeroth date". I conceded the argument as his Valentine's present.....eventually....

My hallmate decided he was safe for us to have an actual date on our own, so we had our real first date the next week making an Apple Pie at his place.

The actual pie that started it all.
Cooking, namely cooking our way through each issue of Cooks Illustrated, was a central part of our dating time.

2. What’s your ideal date? or What’s your funniest dating story?

I have to admit I'm not a fan of the traditional dinner and a movie date. It seems to use a lot of time that doesn't involve real interaction.

I far prefer things like hiking or exploring somewhere new.

This first, ever, photo that Matt took of me on a hike in the Marin Headlands with some of my friends from college.
Now that we have kids, we've become pretty good at stay-at-home dates. My favorite involves bringing drinks to the rooftop of our building after the kids are down for the night, and hanging out there watching the lights across the Bay.

If we get to go out for an evening, I like trying new restaurants with my husband. He's very much a foodie and has a talent for knowing where the new cool spots are in the area. I know by the time we leave for the date he has scoped out the menu, the ingredients, reviews, the chef, and things in the vicinity. It's like having your own private food expert!

3. What couple from literature, TV, or the movies best mirrors you and your spouse?

Gosh this is hard.

The closest thing I can think of is Jim and Pam from The Office, but that's largely because I thought Matt looked a bit like Jim while we were dating.

See what I mean?
I've honestly never seen or read about a relationship and thought "oh-em-gee-it's-US!" Just hasn't happened yet. I'll get back you if I do!

I'd love to hear your answers to this week's questions in the comments!
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