It's the Dicken's!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Over the weekend we got to go to the Dicken's Fair!

For five weeks every year the San Francisco Cow Palace is transformed into the streets of Victorian London. There are hundreds of costumed characters wandering around and the visitors often dress up too.

How often is it socially encouraged to dress as Victorian?!

I did not have a chance to get to a costume rental store, and Victorian outfits are very expensive off the rack. I used this post for inspiration and put together this here costume with things I had around the house!

I used the petticoat and underthings from my wedding dress (finally got another use out of those!) with my longest/fullest skirt over the petticoat. I had a shirt that had some nice lace detail on the back so I wore that backwards. Add the belt to pull it together, and voila! 

I also put my hair up in a sock bun because I chose sewing over curling my hair during nap time.

I feel like achieving the Victorian silhouette is a lot easier for men than for women. Here is Matt, looking very dapper, with a tweed jacket, bow tie, and scarf. 
He eventually added a baby in an Ergo. 

We did not really dress up the kids. We had already put them through the photo session for the parish directory/Christmas cards that morning. I have a one dress up event a day policy with littles - it's a better deal for all of us. 

While it's not, explicitly, a children's event, the Dicken's Fair was amazing for little kids! All of the people watching, dancing performances, shops to look at, plays, food, games.

John liked the carousel they have which are all safari animals instead of horses. I loved how the man running the carousel was in character yet calling out information about how the Victorians cared for exotic animals. 
Things like the elephants were very prone to colds in the English climate, so the Victorians would give them a substantial amount of wine every day "to keep the trunks clear". Victorian elephants had shortened, and very drunken, lives.

My favorite part of the fair was the Ceili! 

One of our local pubs has a ceili every Monday night, so I had learned some of the dances beforehand. 

John did not want to dance with me while the musicians were there or if anyone else was watching, but he must have been watching the dance very closely. When he finally danced with me during a break in the dancing, he started imitating the footwork and calling the steps.

We might have a little dancer on our hands!

We could easily have spent many more hours, and there are so many more things to see and do! The fair will be running every weekend through December 20th. If you are in the San Francisco bay area, it is well worth the side trip!

A Bittersweet Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Thanksgiving is really bittersweet. We heard yesterday that a dear friend to many, Justin Schaefer, collapsed on his run and died on Sunday. He was 26, and an absolutely beautiful soul. 

A strong Catholic man and complete geology nerd (with the degree to prove it.)  
I'm glad to have known him for a brief time. 
I'm glad that we shared such similar taste in pizza toppings he stole my pizza out of the oven. 
I wish we had gotten that coffee.

A friend posted this poem that Justin wrote with the note that it was more appropriate than anything he could think of to say. I think he's right.

Faith Tectonics

Give me faith to move mountains,
I gave fire to move mountains.
Give me wisdom to straighten the path.
I gave water to carve out the path.
Give me love that erupts into the earth.
I gave volcanoes to transform the world.

A voice cries out the wilderness:
_____Make low the mountains;
__________I will erode injustices.
_____Make full the valleys;
 __________I will deposit compassion.

O Divine Dynamo, the mover of movers.
I have mapped my faults.
Shear them together,
That I may know perseverance.

Subduct my soul, you who are beyond all things,
As I dive into this baptism of fire and water,
Let me be transformed.
Give me a heart of stone,
Not of the cold, dead, static, stone;
But of the warm, dynamic, life bearing earth.
The rock on which you will build your Church.

For the repose of the soul of Justin Schaefer. May God grant him eternal rest, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

When A Jesuit and a Franciscan Walk Into a Dominican School...

Friday, November 20, 2015

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

Someday, I really will write the rest of that joke in the title. Read on to find out the inspiration!


In our whole preparing for Advent post, I completely forgot about including that I finally bought the indestructible by toddlers nativity set! Little People to the rescue! 

The kids were, unfortunately, very awake from nap when the box arrived. I'm making them wait until the first Sunday of Advent to open them.
The suspense was killing them a little too much, so the boxes are safely hidden away now.


I recently became the wife of a runner!
Well, he was really a runner before I met him, but Matt has recently resumed the runner identity. 
He will be running the Berkeley Half Marathon this Sunday!


And I might be that wife who is a little worried every time my husband goes out for a run that something terrible is going to happen. Races are a new kind of stress.

The organizers seem to know this, and have made an app for that!

Thank you technology!


Last Tuesday I have the honor of attending the opening lecture for the Dominion Jubilee year (800th is doing well, I think.) It was really interesting, and you can watch the livestream!

I was sitting a little close to the camera, so hopefully you can't my (very occasional) comments. *Fingers Crossed*


Photo credit: DSPT
Hey, I ended up in an official photo!

I'm that person who is always taking side notes through every lecture. 

Bringing the sole Jesuit to a Dominican event, that is being photographed by a Franciscan, makes for some funny material though. Lots of jibes. From the priest giving the lecture. It was hilarious.


Shout out to Sean, who should be receiving the results of her California Bar Exam today!

I'm sure she would appreciate any prayers you can send her way, and I took the liberty of finding the patron saint of test takers: St. Joseph of Cupertino.

Prayers for you today Sean!


Another shout out, this time for my Dad! Tomorrow is his birthday, and while I can't be there in person, I can still embarrass him on the internet. :)

My Dad is a man of many talents, and one of them is being ridiculously good at making/fixing stuff. He made that little chair John is sitting on! It is his Little Chief chair, so he can do some porch sittin' with his Big Chief.

A Little Way for Unconditional Love

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood this morning!

Lately, the afternoons, the part after nap time, just seems to stretch forever
We're in a serious funk at that point in the day. The kids are both in growth spurts that mean sleeping is either very little or a lot (but not in tandem with each other), and the need for mom's direct attention is high.

Then a miracle happened yesterday: it was quiet for a blessed 10 minutes. 

While everyone was awake! 

But that should have been wildly suspicious. 

I realized I had gotten too productive and should probably go see why that was the case. 
I found this:

Here is what John had to say about it:

Me: "John, where did your bubbles go?"
John: "I cooked with them. Made shampoo. Got Therese's hair aaallll cleaned up!"

*face palm*

He truly thought he was being helpful. He really was trying to be good. But it was just...not.

And I love him for it.

It is my tiny, miniscule, infinitely inadequate, glimpse at what loving us might be like for God. Even the saints may have tried so hard on earth to get things right, and just....didn't.

So I did what Jesus would do: I took the messy little baby and made her clean again. I talked with the big brother, who made the mess, about how I knew he was trying to be good but here are some better choices for next time. He said he would not do it again, and meant it sincerely (as far as I can tell.)

And we resumed being close with each other. We read many books, made dinner together, and played dance party.

We practiced a little unconditional love, in our little way, because these are the little lessons that build to the big lessons.

Someday my rambunctious little three year old will be old enough to go into a confessional himself, and he will get to experience the unconditional love of the Father.

He will have learned what a little taste of that unconditional love is like from his earthly mother.
At least I can try.

Advent - The Mini-Lent

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Advent is only two weeks away!

I was bemoaning to a friend a few weeks ago that I wished it was Lent instead of Advent just around the corner.
Sometimes you could just use a good Lent, ya know?
She pointed out that there was no reason I couldn't make this Advent a mini-Lent: take on a mortification, be more conscientious in my prayers, celebrate the feasts but observe the fasts.

So here is what we have planned for this mini-Lent of an Advent!

This is the dinner after making Advent wreaths with friends last Advent. I just can't get over how much bigger Therese is now! Look at that teething- yet still toothless - baby!

Jesse Tree

This is actually a normal Advent thing, but it is new for our family! Our faith program, Little Lambs, sent us a full set of Jesse Tree ornaments already printed onto cardstock (yea outsourcing creativity!). We're planning on cutting those out, coloring them, and making it part of our evening ritual as a family.

Check out etsy if you would like someone else to get crafty for you! 

Wood burned! So pretty! From etsy shop LazerHouse33

Liturgy of the Hours

I go through waves of being better about remembering to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and others where I feel like a success for remembering to say an extra Hail Mary and grace before meals.

Not perfect here.

But during this Advent I want to be more intentional and connected to the universal church in this time of preparation for the arrival of baby Jesus. Therefore, I will be committing to saying morning and evening prayer.

And not by using the super short one in Magnificat like I sometimes like to do.

My parents got me the four volume set many Christmases ago (thanks Mom and Dad!) so I will be using the Advent/Christmas Season book from that.

This is possible to do even without the books, through sites like, but I like the tactile nature of praying with a physical book. I'm old fashioned that way.

Fasting/Abstaining on Fridays

This is looking more like Lent now, isn't it?

I am planning on fasting and abstaining from meat on all of the Fridays of Advent. 

But I also subscribe to the notion that your mortification should not mortify others. Therefore, this is only in effect as long as it does not create a situation where it would be rude to refuse food, or avoiding normal social situations.

I will let you know how this works out. First time over here too!

Celebrating the Feasts!

If you have ever met me in person, you might have caught on that I enjoy most excuses to celebrate. If it can be themed it probably will be.

There are a few big feasts that we normally celebrate during Advent: St. Nicholas, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and St. Lucia.

St. Nicholas

We hang up stockings during all of Advent, and on St. Nicholas Day morning there is a small surprise to be found inside!

Last year was the first one we celebrated this aspect of St. Nicholas Day with John. He is now under the impression that St. Nicholas only brings trains.
According to his single data point, he's not wrong.

I am still working on building my CCC movie library, but I really enjoyed watching the St. Nicholas CCC movie on this day growing up.

Immaculate Conception

On this day we do a Mary themed craft of some sort, have all white food at dinner, and go to evening mass.

This a holy day of obligation, so that last part is not really optional y'all.

St. Lucia

If you were a girl in the 90's you might have come across the American Girl books. 
I was really into Kirstin. In one book Kirstin celebrates St. Lucia Day. It's a big deal in Sweden, where Kirstin is from, and it involves the oldest girl getting to dress up and wake everyone else up in the house. 
As the oldest of five girls, I was obviously all over that.

Last year, my mom sent me the St. Lucia crown that has electric candles that I ordered as a kid. (Probably safer than my other plans.) We tried it on John, but it might be a while until my kids are big enough for that sucker.

I like to make overnight cinnamon rolls to have that morning. Learning I could just make the dough in my bread machine was a life changing discovery.

I have not decided what else I'm going to add onto this celebration this year, but I see some swedish meatballs happening...

So how are you celebrating Advent this year?

When It's Time to Dance

Friday, November 13, 2015

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

Once upon a time I did a lot of dance. I started when I was four. I quit my dance school before I entered high school, but I promptly joined up on the ballet-modern team once I got there.

I took one dance class in college, but have really let it slide since.

Up until this summer, I had not danced in public since our wedding. OUR WEDDING. We're not talking performance here, we are talking simple freestyle dancing.

Back in 2011, when I led a guy around the dance floor.

So I got brave and found a studio, ordered dance stuff from the old reliable Discount Dance Supply, and showed up at my first class.


When you dance ballet as a kid, and even as a teenager, there are strict rules about what you can wear in class. Ours was: black leotard, pink tights, pink shoes, MAYBE a black dance skirt (but it was very specific about which one. No fun flourishes allowed.)


In my act of adult rebellion, I ordered a PURPLE leotard and grey skirt (gasp!) I still couldn't let go of the pink tights and pink shoes thing. 
Can't get too crazy now.
Definitely not me! But this is the stock photo so you can see the color on this thing.


The one big rule that we even have to follow in the laid back adult classes is the one about hair. 
Up and back! If it can be in a bun, than it should be.

But I have rather rebellious hair.

It took: 10 hair pins, 9 bobby pins, 1 hair elastic, 1 hair net, and a lot of hair spray.

To achieve a bun that would not fall out. The struggles of thick hair!


Suddenly, we're ready! I can't tell you how surreal it was to be in a dance dressing room again.


This studio is in the annex of a theater built c.1910. Which means ceilings are on the low side, the wood is dark, and the floors are creaky.

It was awesome.


I had some clear problem areas, and I knew I would after a break like that. 
My ankles are weak, turnout is pretty sad, I need to refresh my ballet vocab, and holy cow did I lose leg strength! 

I can say that I did not do a single combination perfectly. Not. A. Single. One.
But I went for every one of them. Even going in the first group across the floor over and over. Because I'm tenacious like that.


I have had some nice dance teachers in the past, but I think this one might win the award for nice, welcoming, and yet challenging. Looking forward to working with her more!

The other students were very sweet. This is the first time I have been able to blend into a class and not immediately see the cliques and competition. Perhaps they are there, or maybe they show up closer to showcase time, but right now they all seem like they are here because they genuinely love dance and don't want to stop just because they did not become professionals.

I get that.

Remembrance: Go and Be in Peace

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood today to talk about Remembrance.

This week has had quite the emotional highs and lows. Saturday is going to be a little of both. Saturday we say the Office of the Dead, in remembrance of our little one, and the Blessing of Parents After a Miscarriage or Stillbirth.

I want it. I don't want it.

It offers closure, yet it rips open that wound and shines a light on it (with an audience.)

I want to be held, and I want to be alone.

I want to grieve and I want to move on, and I want them both at the same time. Preferably right now.

But I do know that I need this. We need this. Everyone involved needs this.

The thing about remembrance is that we do not get to pick what touched us about that person. All of the ways they changed our lives, and how we are different because of their life. 
Remembering them means remembering the loss of our previous self - the self that existed before they drifted into our lives and  dealing with the self that is now that they have drifted out. 

Previous me knew about the possibility of a loss this close was a possibility. Previous me was naive enough to think it was probably not going to happen. 

Previous me did not have a clue how strong friendships could be in the face of loss. Previous me did not know that someone would show up at my door with food. Previous me had no idea what it was like to be prayed for by so many people, and some of them true strangers.

Remembering Mary means remembering how different I am now. How raw her loss remains, but also how we are feeling our way towards peace.

So be in peace little Mary. Mom is waiting on you.
To read more stories about miscarriage, check out Remembering the Littlest of Lives link up with Sweeping Up Joy.

It's a Week!

Friday, November 6, 2015

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

Welcome to a week of truly all over the place thoughts! It's how my brain is working today.


Happy Post-Halloween time everybody! It felt necessary to post baby Dobby again.

So. Stinkin. Cute.

In case you missed it, Harry Potter party was awesome.


Our neighborhood hosts a Dia de los Muertos celebration every year mostly around All Souls. 
It's the most Catholic thing to happen in public all year.

Except, Berkeley.

This is a memorial altar to dead trees. 
Not people, trees.

Yet, covered in paper. Kind of in bad taste, don't you think Berkeley?


Saturday is Catholic Underground!

It's part adoration, part concert. It's probably the coolest adoration I've ever attended. 
We put a spotlight on Jesus. 
Like a literal spotlight, on Jesus.


This song has been stuck in my head for over a week! Clearly, the solution is to share it with more people.


I've been reading this book lately. Thanks for the recommendation/book loan Steven!

I'll let you know about what I think about this when I see how my questions are handled. This is one of those books where I think I know what is going on and then I am proved wrong. So no reviewing until reading is completed.

It's probably a good rule regardless.


Sometimes Therese is up before John from nap.
I have been trying to get a video of how she wakes him up. It normally goes something like this:

Therese: *giving hugs and gurgles*
John: *very groggy* Hi Therese. Love you Therese. Don't touch me Therese.
Therese: *give kisses too!*

John has decided that he wants to skip this super fun routine.

This is how Therese feels about that.


Finally, thank you to everyone who has messaged, commented, emailed, called, and showed up over the past few weeks! Your prayers and kindness means more than you know.

A Tarnished Gem in the Crown of Creation

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Linking up with Blessed Is She and #BISsisterhood to talk about Crown of Creation.

I love Pope St. John Paul II, but that guy really made it very hard to ignore that the position of women in the church is simultaneously an honor and a huge weight of  responsibility. 

 He uses words, like "crown of creation" and "feminine genius", to describe the unique gifts women are in this world. 

Frankly, it's a lot of pressure to be a crown, and a jewel in the crown at that. Women are offered a share in creation through our ability to give and sustain life, and that is both awesome and terrifying.

Through our spiritual motherhood, women can play an important role in creating a more just and beautiful world. Through our physical motherhood, women are integral in the forming of brand new humans - new soul-bodies. 

But sometimes I tarnish creation. Sometimes I say exactly the wrong thing and lead someone else into error or pain. 
Sometimes I can't save everyone. Sometimes I feel I have nothing left to give.

Yet, I am not off the hook.

Even in my, significant, failings I do not get demoted from the role of jewel in the crown. 
Because this is who we are, not just something we are choosing to be.

So this little jewel might need a little, or a lot, of polishing, but I still get to be in the crown and so do you.

Harry Potter Halloween!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy All Souls everybody! We had our Harry Potter Halloween party this past Saturday, and had a blast.

It's baby Dobby! I know you were just dying to see this cuteness.

John also had a mace. That proved to be a very difficult aspect of his Halloween costume around babies.

Honeydukes! There was more candy later. I either made up names or used names of actual candy reference in the books to label the jars.
Colorful little jars in front are real herbs and spices I have that I thought would look cool.

The only food out was pumpkin seeds when I was going around and taking pictures.
Food was Chicken Tortilla Soup, with homemade tortilla chips, and crispy Mac and Cheese.

We ended up with many leftover wands. I think I overestimated how many of them would break/get slobbered to death by the baby.

How did I not get a non-blurry picture of this?!
 My favorite DIY, the thing I really wanted to happen, was the floating candles. They took about four engineering attempts before we had a successful design.

And I didn't get a single non-blurry picture.

It's a cactus! Holding Dobby. With unnamed Hogworts student.

Lesson: fully chill jello brain before dumping. Still yummy!
And Butterbeer is delicious! Especially when mixed with mead.

Our fierce Bellatrix Lestrange

It's Teddy, Lupin, and Tonks! Tell me how your heart isn't melting right now?!

Men in White

This party probably wins as the one I spent the most time DIYing things for, but it was also a lot of fun. I like for crafts to have a purpose and a party is a good purpose in my book.

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