2016 Recap - Top 10 Posts

Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrapping up my 2016 Recap a bit late due to some fun times doing a road trip to the Gulf Coast of Texas so my kids could see their great-grandparents. You can see what happened there on Instagram.

Catch up on what's been brewing on Under Thy Roof - these are the Top 10 posts, by popularity, from 2016!


All of the NFP stories from NFP Awareness Week topped my list of most read posts. For the sake of keeping this interesting, I'm just going to link them all here.

Josh and Amanda's story is Unequally Yoked - NFP in a Mixed Marriage


In which I finally confess where I stand on breastfeeding.


Everything I wanted to say when I was fighting to study Catholic women and not talk about women's ordination. So I'll be a Catholic woman, educated at a women's college with a minor in Women's Studies, willing to tell you why I don't support women's ordination.


It seems to have been part of my 2016 M.O. to start letting y'all into some of the rough parts of my experience. I've finally healed enough from the suffering of PPD, and successfully prevented it with my second pregnancy, so I wrote up my top 7 recommendations for moms hoping to hold off PPD.


Remember the Love Your Spouse challenge that was going around Facebook? You're supposed to post pictures of you and your spouse for five days and tag other couples to "keep the celebration of love going".
Well someone tagged my friend Jacob Boddicker, S.J. He's a Jesuit Scholastic who will be ordained to the priesthood this June.  Instead of ignoring the tag, he wrote a five part vocation story and love letter to the church. It's beautiful! I asked him if I could republish the series as blog posts. Here they are!


I finally worked up to writing anything, at all, about fashion(A whole series on it y'all!) to do Pants-Free July with Rosie at A Blog for my Mom. Smack in the middle was our 2nd honeymoon trip to Ireland, so a good run of picture are me, wearing skirts, in gorgeous places. Or rain. Both happened.


Therese's 2nd birthday party write up was weirdly popular. Yes, I really did make a whole party just about cakes. Every time I asked Therese what kind of party she wanted to have she would only reply with "cake". So that's what I did!
I essentially made every cake-ish dish that had peaked my interest in the past year, and made it! 


This summer I was attending a friend's wedding back in Texas and was going to miss Father's Day AND my husband's birthday in one fell swoop. So I wrote a surprise post in his honor! 
I gave him the impression I was writing a post about the crazy things I find on the side of the road (I'll tell you more about "hippy Christmas" later), and set this to post on the blog and Facebook while I was still in the air.

Hehehehehe, sneaky wife surprises!


The top 7 crunchy things I do now that I would never have pictured myself doing before/didn't even know existed.


Pop over to the link up on Revolution of Love to see the rest of the 2016 Recaps!

Did any of your favorites make the cut? Who should *I* start reading in the new year?

My Top 5 Favorite Media of the Year {2016 Recap}

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ok y'all, this is the part where I confess I'm *really* behind on media. 
Current media that is. If you wanted to talk medieval Europe or Ancient Greece I'd be your girl.

So while some of the other bloggers are writing their top fives for books, and another list for movies, and another for TV shows, I'm just going to give you my top 5 of everything.

Because I could only come up with 5 current year media things I honestly enjoyed.

So here are my top 5 media favorites from 2016!

Love and Friendship

If you have any taste at all for Jane Austin or costume dramas WATCH THIS! It's so funny! Witty, smart, and pokes fun at the ridiculous in Austin's world.

I was lucky enough to see this one in theaters, but you can now catch it on Netflix.


I only just saw this movie over the Christmas break, but I am so impressed!
I still have lots of thoughts about this movie, and writing reviews with spoilers is hard, but I will say that I think it is one of the most pro-life movies to come out this year.

Not scary, just smart sci-fi. 

The Summer Before the War

Moving onto books!
This is the only book that came out this year that I actually read. It's that good!

Don't be scared off my it's size, I inhaled this over a plane ride.
It focuses on the countryside of England right before, and during, World War I. It touches on treating refugees with dignity, what it means for your world to be turned upside down, and finding humanity within it all - without feeling preachy. And, ya know, pretty British costume drama and mannerisms!

(I might have a bias there.)

The Kettering Incident

Best underappreciated show from 2016!

Picture a cross between Stranger Things and Twin Peaks but set in Tasmania. The cinematography is fantastic, the setting is gorgeous, and has plenty of plot twists I didn't immediately see coming.

The Crown

The Crown has to be on here (I think I've established my MO above), but I must confess I've barely gotten into it. What I've seen has been striking. I think they did a great job casting. It's my current favorite for accent study for Earnest.

Head over to Revolution of Love to read this other posts in the link up!
What were your favorite media from 2016?

And because I've been loving on Instagram way more in 2016 than any other prior year, here's my #2016BestNine! You can get yours here.

2016 Recap - Year in Pictures

Monday, December 26, 2016

It's been a packed year, and I'm linking up with Bobbi from Revolution of Love to do a series of 2016 Recap posts!


It was last January when I finally decided to take the plunge back into auditioning and performing!


On last Valentine's weekend, we put on our first Young Adults Swing Dance with this rockin' core team! It was so much fun, and we put on another swing dance this past Fall. I have aspirations of doing Line Dancing next. :)


We had our third Easter and Holy Week in this parish. I can't believe Therese still was crawling in this picture!


"I gotta walk with Therese, momma. Keep her safe. That's my job." #siblinglove#littlekidsholdinghandsarethebest
And she finally walked on April 4th! In the words of our pastor, "Look out world, the Scooch Princess is *really* mobile now!"


Favorite dance picture of me to date.

I had my first post-babies Ballet performance last May for the Berkeley Ballet Theater Adult Showcase. So good to be back!
We also kicked off our summer of birthdays with an early beach bonfire party for me and a Construction Party take 2 for John's 4th birthday at the end of the month.


Father and Son waiting for the ferry. You know you live in the Bay Area when you have to wear a fleece in June....and short sleeves by noon.

We had lots of little travels in June (Matt for work in Minnesota, me for a wedding in Texas), but we made sure to have some family adventures with the kids. Angel Island (which also happened to be during their Civil War Days) and the Country Fair with Joe Nichols concert probably topped out that list!


My birder husband glimpsing a Puffin colony off the Cliffs of Moher, positively in his element.

Matt and I had our 2nd Honeymoon/first 5 year trip to Ireland! The kids got to stay in Texas at "Camp Grandma". Our goal is to do a big couple trip like this every 5 years (especially since half the fun is being in cahoots and planning and dreaming up the trip.) Can't wait to see where we go next!


I danced my first adult summer Ballet intensive! It was a week of dancing about 6 hours every day. This photo was taken by Matt during the last choreography class of the week. Family and friends were invited to observe the last class and see our studio performance. John and Therese got to come too.


And then John started Ballet!
He's in the pre-ballet division at my studio, and is rocking being the only boy in class (so far).
We also started homeschooling slightly more seriously this year (you can read more about our homeschooling plan here). I'm just a little bit in shock that he'll be in Kindergarten in the Fall!

I also took a quick solo weekend trip to Altadena to hang out with a bunch of awesome Catholic women at the Setting the World on Fire Conference. It was lovely meeting some of y'all in person!


These men finally got ordained! They are all now Jesuit deacons, and two of the three will be ordained to the priesthood this June. 
The one in the middle is also my swing dance partner. Yeah, we're that cool.


November was the month that I finally got cast in a theater production! We took a big hike with friends for #OptOutside on Black Friday, then used the amazing-I-don't-understand-how-we-were-lucky-enough-to-get-them season tickets to see The King and I in San Francisco.

Get this kids, season tickets means TICKETS TO HAMILTON! So. Excited.


We got everyone in one picture! And looking at the camera! Mostly!

We're currently in Texas for a big visit with my side of the family. So far there's been a backyard bonfire, a freak heat wave, singing and dancing, and mass attending. 
Sounds about normal.

Hop over to Revolution of Love to see the other participating blogs!

Day in A Life - December 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

The last time I wrote a Day in a Life post it was last April, I was largely focused on Ballet, and the kids were 3 years and not quite 2 years. My seasons of life change quickly, so I wanted to capture another Monday that is fairly typical of how our life rolls right now.

The kids are now 4.5 and 2 years old. I'm working on a play in addition to Ballet. When I captured this day, the kids were doing a winter camp at the rec center which will be over before Christmas. Still homeschooling, and apparently doing chores at breakneck speed. 

Here we go!

6:45  Wake up when Matt hands me the thermometer. #NFPlife

6:50  Have breakfast with the kids while Matt gets ready for work. Matt made awesome food and Irish breakfast has been the go to lately for me. (Thanks honey!)

7:00  Matt's out the door to work. Gotta have an early start if he wants a morning run.

7:15  Finish up breakfast and clear the table.

7:20  Get the kids dressed

7:30  Get myself dressed while the kids have free play until lessons

7:35  Put two loads of laundry into the washer. Therese insists on coming down to help. By which she means sweep.

7:45  Empty the dishwasher, and remind everyone what time it is.

7:55  Five minute pick up of toys and books

8:00  Lesson time. Today we're doing our Family Formation Little Lambs lesson on Latin prayers. Take away: while Therese might slur her English, her Latin is crystal clear. I'll roll with it.

We're working on how to properly hold a pen and write on paper. Therese is mostly just trying not to stab holes into the table. #HulkBabyProblems
8:15  15 minutes is about has much attention as I can expect for table work. John was interested in what Rome was when we were talking about Latin. I decide to let him watch something age-appropriate and related to Rome. A quick search of my super-duper helpful Homeschooling with Netflix facebook group and came across a recommendation for an episode from Torchlighters about St. Perpetua. We have a winner!

The activity involved making a paper doll with movable joints that allowed the kids to make their doll do the Sign of the Cross while we were learning it in Latin.

8:20  Taking advantage of John being occupied, quick run down to the laundry room to swap into the dryer. I take out the diaper covers to air dry, and do a fast round of bed making.

8:25  I start writing up the Dicken's Fair adventures from yesterday.

9:00  Finished the Dicken's Fair blog post right when the kid's show ended. Score!

9:05   Grabbed laundry out of the dryer with mini-helper Therese. She's in solid toddler helper phase, so she gets to carry her rug back upstairs. She was so happy about it! Yup, this phase is awesome.

9:10  Folding time, kids have free play.

9:20  Done folding and the kids come to put away their clothes. I know it won't stay nicely folded but the habit is what's important. At least that's what I tell myself.

9:25  Quick make up for me while the kids get their shoes on. I let them try first then help or coach as needed. Therese is so close!

9:30  Out the door for morning walk! After many days of rain, we finally have a nice sunny morning.

10:00  Drop the kids off at winter camp at the rec center around the corner.

John started instructing Therese in the "right" way to play with these toys. Therese proceeded to do whatever she was going to do anyway. #BusinessAsUsual
10:06  Back home. Put the kettle on to boil and turn on the new diffuser.

My husband won the diffuser and a bunch of oils at his office Christmas party. I'm having a fun time playing with them. I think I want to make a foot scrub or soak with this one!

10:20  Done with Matins, now to make tea before continuing onto Lauds.

10:30  Finished with Lauds. Tea time! Catching up with some of my favorite ballet vloggers while I have my tea and cheese.

If I pray on the floor I find it easier to focus and not have my mind wander.
10:45  Goodbye vloggers, it's workout time! I've been feeling like I'm losing a lot of strength since I can only sporadically attend ballet class with my current rehearsal schedule. Today I'll be focusing on legs and core.

Yoga mat + Theraband is about all I ever use. Sometimes the back of a chair as a makeshift barre. Keeping it simple.

11:15  Finished workout. Now to stretch and go over lines for rehearsal tonight. I find stretching at the same time helps with memorization.
           Also playing the Giselle soundtrack. Because I'm covering the creation of Giselle in my ballet history book right now. #UnitStudyForGrownUps

11:50  Time to go pick up the kids from camp!

12:15  Back home with the kids. Make lunch and my next batch of herb tea.

Today's menu: leftover spaghetti and meatballs with a green salad.
Pretty much all of our lunches are comprised of leftovers.

12:35  Because spaghetti + toddler = super messy, we have serious post-lunch wash up time.

12:40 Done with lunch. Reading time! Magic School Bus anything and Little House in the Big Woods are John's current loves.

1:00  Naptime! I've been making it a point to really relax for the first hour of nap so I'm going to go have some Netflix/Youtube veg time.

          Apparently I missed a Doctor Who Christmas Special!

          Verdict: It was kind of weird - even for Doctor Who. Now we know.

2:00  Ok I'm back. Typed up the morning of this post, and start on my email and social media updates.

2:45 Kids are up from nap!

3:00  Snack time for the kids. I do a quick tidy.

3:15  Just realized I've had my dress on inside out ALL DAY! I would be shocked no one said anything, but then again I walked around doing errands in full Victorian get up before Dicken's Fair yesterday and no one found that worthy of comment either. Oh Berkeley...

3:20  The kids have decided they want to play dress up in their room and will have a fashion show for me later. I guess I'll load the dishwasher then....

3:25  Ok dishes didn't take long. Make coffee!

         New Project! Overnight Lussekatter (aka. St. Lucia Buns) for St. Lucia Day tomorrow!

3:45  Therese decides she is done with John's plan and joins in the baking adventures from my back in the Ergo.

4:00  Matt's home! He stopped by the stores to get the last ingredients for dinner. It's Stromboli making time!

Whenever I make pizza dough, I make a double batch and then freeze half. Love having quick homemade stuff ready to go!
4:15  Stromboli in the oven!

4:20  John insists on finishing our chapter from Little House in the Big Woods. Cuddle time!

4:30  When your evenings are working time, late afternoon becomes your evening. Wine, coffee, and chatting with the husband while dinner bakes. #LifeisGood

5:00  Dinner time!

5:30  Dinner over. Matt helps me run lines while the kids "read" (i.e. make a giant mess with books.)

6:00  Monday Night Football for Matt so I go off to our room to say Vespers.

6:10  Vespers done. Now to read a little Homer before I leave for rehearsal. I'm currently working on the Iliad as part of my poetry study. I suspect I will be for a long while...

6:30  In Uber for the ride across town to the rehearsal space.

6:40 Quicker than usual to get here! Which means mattress moving duty. (We rehearse in a mattress store. There's a story.)

7:00  Rehearsal starts

8:05 First scene done

8:45  Second scene done. I'm not in the next scene so I have some study time. Probably should have thought to bring Homer. I make a note to remember to bring it tomorrow.

9:15  Break! Lounge on mattresses time!

The view from my mattress lounge spot.

9:20  Next scene which comes with a set change. We're covering more material than what we were originally called for now. Yea progress!

10:04  Rehearsal over. Time to move the mattresses back.

10:10  Heading out. So grateful I have a cast member who lives so close to me. Yea carpool!

10:20  Back home, with a little time to hang out with the husband.

11:30  All showered and ready for bed. Goodnight!

I won't have the winter camp child care break past the beginning of this week (and probably not that since they're both coming down with a cold), but for the past month-ish this is a pretty typical Monday. I do a lot, but I feel like I have a good balance of mothering time, prayer time, work time, down time, and time with my husband.

In order to write these posts I carry around a notebook and pen all day and jot down what I do and when. I would recommend it to Stay At Home Moms, especially those convinced they don't do much in a day. You're probably doing more than you think.

How Ballet Has Made Me a Better Catholic

Friday, December 16, 2016

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

When I'm in seasons like this one where I'm going to a different rehearsal every night and wearing my many hats, the lines between my little life categories start to blur. I start dancing in my theater rehearsal, praying while I sew ballet costumes, and slipping into my British accent for this play while in mass. 

I believe I haven't been as successful compartmentalizing my life as I wanted to believe. Things have been bleeding into each other, and that's actually a good thing. In particular, I think dancing Ballet over the past year has actually made me a better Catholic. Here's why.


Always Returning to Basics

Something I think a lot of cradle Catholics struggle with is forcing ourselves to re-approach things we think of as Catholic basics. There's an, perhaps unconscious, assumption that we have concepts like the Trinity down since "we covered that in 3rd Grade CCD, right?"

In Ballet, no matter if you're a 4-year old pre-ballet student or a seasoned Principal dancer, we all take class and we all start that class with plies. Yes, they will be harder and longer combinations the more experienced you are, but the basic bones are always there, no matter how long you've been dancing.

The basics aren't basic because they're easy but because they're fundamental. Everything else will not make sense without them. While Catholic theology might not be the kind of physical impossible that a Ballet would be without a firm grasp of tendu and plie, you are probably making logically impossible leaps by not dealing with those basics. 


Respect for Tradition

Here's something crazy about Ballet - we have no standard notation system. There is no universal method for writing down ballets. What you see performed on stage has largely been memorized by the dancers and taught to them by a ballet master who in turn memorized the ballet from their ballet master. This means dancers have a deep respect for that linage of teachers who have carried down ballets, many over centuries.

It suddenly becomes so much easier to accept the teaching of the Magisterium when you at least have access to documents of councils and the homilies of the Church fathers. 


Identities are Information Not Predestination 

When dancing with others, as you're likely to do, at some point you get to know them better. You might find out more about their past, political leanings, preferences, and quirks. In ballet, that is at most just information about your fellow dancers - not a determination of their limits.

I've seen so much unfortunate pigeonholing of fellow Catholics merely because they're not exactly what you expected them to be. Ballet has been a great practice in seeing people for who they are, but for also expecting them to grow and develop - what we're supposed to be doing as Catholics anyway.


Daily Leaps of Faith

There are things in Catholicism and Ballet that can only be prepared for and controlled up to a certain point. This was really hard for me. I'm very Type A and I like to know how things are going to turn out. 

Even the best dancers can only control certain turns so far. There is a point where you just have to go for it. I don't have complete control over things like the results of discernment, but I have to get better at rolling with what comes out of prayer.


You Need a Mix of Old and New

We are no longer in a world where the different schools of Ballet are developing in isolation from each other. The internet has been a boon to Ballet students who can now take advantage of the wisdom of professional dancers via Youtube and seek inspiration via Instagram. This also means that the traditions of each style are often getting mixed with the training in other forms of ballet and other forms of dance.

Catholicism is experiencing something similar. It's far easier to be exposed to the traditions of other Catholic rites now more than ever. We have blogs where families are allowing intimate views of how these traditions play out, Youtube channels of musicians letting their faith shape their music in beautiful ways, Etsy shops where creative Catholics make the fruits of their labor available to others.

None of these developments mean we are abandoning the traditions of the past - we're finding ways to integrate the tradition into the world we have now, while remaining distinctively who we are.


No One Else is Just Like You

Yes it's totally a cheesy Disney movie line, but it's true. It's truth shines out when you start dancing something as technically demanding as ballet. 

Most of us have really weird body things going on. Fact. 
For me it's *very* hyper extended legs, double jointed all over the place, and very flexible feet. I'm like a rubber man toy. This is not from training, I seem to have just been born this way. It gives me unique challenges (like closing my legs in fifth position. Like, ever.), but it also gives me the ability to create some really beautiful lines.

The same holds true for Catholicism. My mind and spirit have their own quirks. I love practices like Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, and living the liturgical year. I struggle with silent adoration. Turning my mind off is a massive act of will for me, but I have friends who find this to be the most effective way for them to pray. That's ok, we have different paths but the same goal of heaven.


Never Done

Do you know what the best dancers do every day? Practice. Ballet can always move forward, steps can get cleaner, deeper, more extended. Every time a ballet is danced it will be a little different, connections between partners can always become deeper, and artistry grow ever more embodied.

Same with your faith. We call the mysteries of the rosary mysteries not because they are ungraspable, but because they can always go deeper and lead us in ever stronger relationship to God.

How To Cheat Fancy Food + Holiday Recipe Exchange

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

With the holidays here, lots of people are hosting more parties and get togethers than they normally would. For Catholics, this is also a time when it feels like the Church decided to squeeze as many big feasts in as possible! So you want to make things special but have it be quick and simple? Here's how I cheat make fancy food.

Have a "fancy" condiment or sauce

Easiest way to swanky-up a dish is to tie it together with a condiment or sauce that seems fancy, but is actually very quick and easy to put together.
My favorites are:
  • Siracha Mayo
  • Dill Tarter Sauce
  • Tabasco Ketchup
Two of those things are literally two other prepared condiments you probably have in your kitchen mixed together!
But it's a two part name thus fancy.

My Dill Tarter Sauce is:
2 part Mayo
1 part Relish
1 part Lemon Juice
Half part Dried Dill

Stir and serve! The flavor will grow a little stronger if you let it sit for an hour+ in the fridge.

Use some restaurant plating tricks

If you're hosting a dinner party, you can take your dinner plates up a notch by doing the finishing touches with a few restaurant plating tips.

If you have chives, paprika, cinnamon or anything else that requires sprinkling on top at the end, wait until you've plated the food then sprinkle on top by putting the ingredient in a regular spoon and distribute by tapping your hand instead of shaking the spoon. You'll get a much more even distribution, and it will instantly look more professional.

I don't have one at home yet, but loading olive oil or whatever sauce or dressing you are using in a plastic squeeze bottle and drizzling with that looks amazing.

Make a Fun Drink

Did you know it's actually really easy to make your own mulled wine, spiced apple cider, or Chai tea?
The secret to making them "fancy" is to use whole spices. It also makes them easier to make. 

I think the mulled wine and the spiced apple cider have the plus of being made in a slow cooker and thus will make your home smell AMAZING when people walk in.

If you know you will be making a lot of such things, I'd recommend buying in bulk either online or in store. I've used My Spice Sage before for things like Star Anise and Smoked Paprika and had a good experience. 

If you're into cocktails, my current favorite trick is adding in a burnt orange garnish.
Peel off a little bit (thumb length) of orange zest. Twist it to release some of the orange oil. Swill the zest on the rim of the glass to add a little pop of flavor. Then, my favorite part, light it on fire for about 2-3 seconds then drop it in the drink.
It gives it a smoky citrus flavor. I love to do this with Manhattans, Old Fashions, certain Gin Martinis would probably be good with it too.
Adding the burnt orange also lets you add onto the drink name (i.e. Burnt Orange Manhattan).
Like I said above, multi-part name = fancy!


Want some easy recipes to try out this holiday season?
Here are two of my favorites, free as a thank you to you!
Click to open downloadable/printable versions.

Visit the other members of The Zelie Group bloggers to get their recipes in our virtual holiday recipe exchange!

Anni at A Beautiful, Camouflaged, Mess of A Life
Brittany at Everyday Thoughts
Chiara at Catholic Pearl
Ginny at Not So Formulaic
Jessica at Pinot Noir and Prayers
Kerry at Fishbowl Fortune

St. Lucia Day 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy St. Lucia Day everyone!

This year we're having a very Swedish inspired St. Lucia day. Since I had Ballet commitments in the morning, and Theater in the evening, everything had to be relatively simple and easy. Here's the plan!

Saffron Buns!

This is probably the only recipe I do all year that uses Saffron, but it's worth it. I used this recipe this year. It has you grind the saffron in a mortar and pestle first and have it sit in the hot milk for 15 minutes. I think this really helped bump up the yellow color in the buns, which helps make it fun and different for the kids.


Since John has been so very into chapter books lately, we're doing a longer book today. It's a blast from my past doing Kirsten's Surprise: A Christmas Story.

It covers the Swedish traditions associated with St. Lucia, while still being in the same vain as the Little House books that John currently loves so much.

We're also doing the story of the real St. Lucy from this book.

St. Lucia Wreath and Procession

I got my wreath from American Girl when I was a kid (because I was just a little bit obsessed with Kirsten). It has fake holly leaves and electric candles so we can safely process around the house with little people leading the way. John's head is finally big enough for it!

This year I'm trying to teach them the Santa Lucia song since Therese loves songs so much. If that doesn't work, I'll just play this while we have a little procession around the house with the wreath and saffron buns:

What does St. Lucia Day look like in your home?

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