Caili is Practically CCD Class, Y'all

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We have an awesome place in Berkeley called the Starry Plough. It's an Irish pub that has hosted a ceili every Monday night for the last 40 years.

It's also a hotbed of practical Catholic theology.

Not by design mind you, this is Berkeley after all, but it accomplishes it regardless.

Ceili is a social dance. In order to learn the dance one must first learn how to move as an individual. It is important to learn what to do with your feet, and how to keep time with the music.

But one can't stop there, otherwise it's not ceili, one must also have a partner.

This partner is complementary to you, ideally in male/female pairs. You typically come back to this partner and you help each other throughout the dance.
It is up to the two of you to figure out how to make the dance work. You might be very dissimilar in height, ability, and experience, but your job as a partner is to get the other where they need to go.

But it is not enough to have a partner. The partners must also meet each other in groups - small groups or the whole room together, depending on the specific dance.
This makes the dance into a living organism of sorts, while still maintaining the integrity of the relationships of the partners and individuals within it.

I contend that the ceili lets us practice in an evening what we are meant to be doing in the larger world - working on getting our individual game together, interacting in a mutually beneficial way with a partner, and relating all of that to the wider community.

It also teaches a very important, but practical, lesson: how to physically relate in a respectful manner with someone of the opposite sex you have just met.
The dances are riddled with bows, courtesy turns, and rules about exactly what to do with your hands.

It's awesome.

You know what would have made middle school and high school dances a lot less awkward?
Knowing what to do with your hands!

Structured social dances, like ceili, teach us about physical boundaries and communication in a quick and fun way. It teaches respect for the bodies of others, awareness of space, and forces us out of our own heads.

It's Theology of the Body in an evening. No thick volumes of words required.

In Which I Show the End of Our Advent in Berkeley!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Whew did things get away from me this week! Hence the bloggy silence.

So I'm going to link up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for a catch up 7QT!

We will fly to Texas next week to spend Christmas, so here is the last bit of our Advent in Berkeley!


St. Lucia Day happened!

We made these Saffron Cardamom Buns.


That same, very rainy, morning we went to see the opening of the Holy Door for our diocese!

It was cool, I'm glad we went.

But it would have been nice to know ahead of time that this would run more the length of an Easter Vigil! 

There are no photos of this event due to the stress of trying to keep two littles quiet and not-too-destructive for two hours. 
When the rector decided to deliver essentially a second homily it was very hard to think charitable thoughts.


What I did document was cookie exchange!

So much goodness!

We brought out the bourbon to spike the delicious cider, and that was an excellent choice.


Things my 3 year old said in church on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

Very pregnant woman walks in and John, in the silent church mind you, whisper shouts, "Mom! She's got a baby under her shirt?!" 

"Mom, see that guy? That guy is my best friend." 
He was lined up with the pastor, a seminarian, and the tabernacle. Not bad choices.


We have a wedding this weekend! A lovely friend is getting married!
I'm one of the singers for the wedding. We had our music rehearsal during the day on Monday. 
John got my phone and took about 40 pictures of this:

Eventually, he moved out to get another 30 of this:

Sweet sleepy baby!


Attending this wedding is really exciting for us because it will be the first wedding we have attended since our own (in the same church!) 4.5 years ago.

Which also means I have not danced in public with my husband in 4.5 years.

Time to remedy that!


Finally, I get to do this tonight.

Basically, we're going caroling with Jedi!

If you're in the area, you can come too!

Peace in the Land of Littles

Thursday, December 10, 2015

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

Yesterday I decided to just dive right into doing all of the prayer things I wish I had been doing more consistently: praying the liturgy of the hours, saying the rosary as a family, and writing in my prayer journal. 

I have been making a mistake that I feel is very tempting for many people: putting off good things until the timing is perfect. 
If I knew that I could not consistently have a family rosary, I put it off to try another day. But "another day" has a habit of never showing up, and that family rosary just never got said.

Yesterday I had the day off from cooking dinner and choir rehearsal. It was practically a vacation. 
It left us with an open afternoon on a rainy weekday.

Years ago my mom had sent me the bin of all of the giveaway rosaries my sisters and I have received over the years. There are dozens of plastic, glow in the dark, corded rosaries. 
I had the kids each pick a rosary out of the bin, sat on the floor with them, and announced we were going to do a rosary now.

They were pretty amenable to that idea. They looked at blocks, fiddled with the rosaries, and squirmed around while I said the prayers. 

After completing the rosary, we hung the rosaries up on the hooks with their stockings and went about our day. But the day was so much better!
It was not that anything went more smoothly really: we got rained out of the park, there was a spaghetti explosion while I was making dinner, and a generalized child meltdown during clean up time. 

Yet I felt peace.

It was like having a stress-resistant coating over my whole being. I was aware of less than ideal things happening all around me, but they were not able to get under my skin. 

Making the decision to pray with my kids, despite the likelihood of meltdown, gave me the peace to be a better mother yesterday. It is an addictive feeling. I find myself looking forward to doing it again today. 

Today is busy. I have a lot to do, and not much time to get it all done. Today I have responsibilities in the afternoon, but I want to try out our little family rosary again. That experience of peace is something I want to invite into our lives over and over again.

It might go badly, but I suspect peace will still come in a door held open a crack.

Anne, Did You Know?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Today, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I find myself wondering about the whole cast of characters who, while very important in the life of Mary herself, don't get much of a spotlight in the gospels.

People like her mother, and my baptismal patron, St. Anne. Anne is not even mentioned in the canonical Gospels, yet she was tasked with carrying and raising the first person ever to be conceived without sin. Her daughter would grow up to be the most influential woman in the world.

I complain a lot about the song "Mary Did You Know" every Advent. Because duh guys, duh she knew.

Meme version. You're welcome.
But did Anne know? St. Anne did not have the help of an angelic annunciation, or a pre-redemption from sin, yet she was carrying a first ever kind of person in her womb.

Anne had to form Mary to be ready to say yes when that angel appeared, and she had to do it as a regular human mother - failings, struggles, and all.

It's a struggle every mother faces: how do we form and prepare our children for a world that does not yet exist and problems we cannot even imagine?

I don't have the answer to that one (or I would be writing about it, trust me), but today my prayer is: if the impossible were to happen in my life, that I would have an outcome as good as St. Anne.


On that note: today is a solemnity. As in, celebrating is mandatory. Catholic Culture as a bunch of ideas for food and fun today.

It's also a Holy Day of Obligation!

Life in Our Plywood Cave - 7QT!

Friday, December 4, 2015

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

Happy first week of Advent everybody! Here's how it looked around these parts.


The baby and I both came down with colds this week! That put a significant damper on many of the Advent plans. Mostly those that involved walking, or standing, or listening to noises.


But my Mom is an awesome Grandma and she sent this!

I loved movies as a kid, and John seemed to agree with little Kirby about how awesome they are.
We have probably watched it seven times since it arrived.


And a big reason we have watched a movie so often is this lovely little change.

Closing it up...

And we're sealed!

We lost our doors!

For good reason, they found some sort of fungus growing underneath them which was probably compromising safety.
But not being able to access the outside patio (and kick the kids outside so I can make dinner) is really putting a damper on the mood around here.


This has led to some very creative play around here.

Brother the Sled Dog was a big hit.

And creative crafting!

He liked putting on puppet shows for us, but they were very abstract. No plot or characters, just ACTION!

You *can* make cute cut out puppets OR you can have the 3 year old glue a single googly eye on a stick and call it a minion!
Smartest mom crafting move I have ever made.


I have been (mostly) successful at keeping up with the Morning and Evening prayer with this one!
I also added the Office of Readings. Odd things sound like fabulous ideas to sick Kirby, but reading homilies of St. Augustine while sick was one of my favorite experiences from this week.


In case you are following along, here is the progress on that crazy complicated what-were-you-thinking-picking-this-pattern stocking I'm making for my darling husband.

The cross stitching part is done! I had to squint at shades of green at Joann's to have enough thread to do it, but that is a great part to have completed!

Now for ALL of the back stitching. And beading. And embroidering his name on top.

I don't think that St. Nicholas Day deadline is going to happen.
But it WILL be done by Christmas!
(I'm just going to be stubborn about that.)


I'll leave you on a cute note, so here is a picture of Therese and I after we got caught in a downpour yesterday.

She has discovered tongues lately, and they are the most fascinating thing in the entire world!
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