Walk for Life SF, Dance, Lent, and an Exorcist!

Friday, January 29, 2016

It's Friday! Which means it's time to link up with with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!


Walk for Life West Coast happened this past weekend!

A little more intense on the counter-protesting than usual. As in more of them, and more aggressive.
So whenever it started to feel tense, I played meet a new person!
Normally a religious. Because when else are you going to be around more priests/brothers/nuns/sisters than Walk for Life?


That night was Catholic Underground!

For those who have never been, it's part Eucharistic Adoration (with evening prayer and Benediction) part concert and social.

We normally spotlight Jesus. Quite literally - with a spotlight.

This time I was in charge of the spotlight. Not a big deal. I turn it on, make it get bigger as needed during Benediction, and turn it off at the end.

But the stand broke. In the beginning of adoration.
So I spent my adoration hour trying my best to hold the spotlight steady, and hoping we would sing a good praise song to distract myself from my achy achy arms.

Offer it up, right?


But the concert was cool!

Here's one of the songs Alanna-Marie Boudreau sang for us.


With the results of last week's audition, I'm working extra hard on dance. 
My new leotard came this week! And convertible tights! And split sole shoes!

This one but turquoise.

This is a very exciting thing for me right now, ok.


Yesterday we celebrated the dumb ox's feast day with Oxtail Soup!

I made up a recipe, because I didn't like the ones I found, and it turned out great!
I should write it up soon so I don't need to reinvent the wheel next year.


On Sunday I get to go to this really cool event, An Exorcist Speaks, at Star of the Sea in SF.
 Fr. Gary Thomas, the subject of a book and film titled "The RIte" starring Anthony Hopkins, is giving it. He will speak on his healing ministry as an Exorcist.
It should be really interesting!


I already wrote up what I'm doing, so what are you planning?

Preparing for Lent

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today is officially two weeks until the beginning of Lent everybody!!

I could feel the anxiety level rise from here.

But it's going to be ok!

I promise.

The two week marker is where I get serious about planning out my goals for this Lent: discerning what I need to work on within myself, and how I can incorporate my family into those decisions.

I like to do a three part version of doing Lent: take on, give up, and prayer focus.

1. Take On

I take on a particular devotion or discipline for the duration of Lent. In past years I've done: daily rosary, lauds and vespers from the Liturgy of the Hours, or tackled longer spiritual books (like City of God).

This is a great opportunity to try out a devotion that is new to you, or something you've been meaning to get around to learning but have not yet done so.
Ideally, this is something that can become a regular part of your life even after Easter.

This year I'm doing something pretty different. My take on is going to be following the Love Dare.

It's a 40 day challenge to better love your spouse.

It is not explicitly Catholic, but it is very much Christian and brings in a lot of biblical readings. I like that it has a journaling component so that at the end of the 40 days I can look back and see what worked and what did not.

I also like that it is not necessary that your spouse do the love dare at the same time. This is about getting better at loving your spouse as you are meant to do, not expecting something out of them on your own timeline.

Obviously, I won't be doing the love dare itself post-Easter, but I can use what I learn to be a better spouse to Matt post-Easter.

2. Give Up

This is the part of Lent practices most people are familiar with. The time when it becomes a minefield of temporary avoidances and conflicts when trying to host events.

I have done the typical give up sweets, coffee, meat, alcohol, etc. but I found that I just lost my craving for those things. (Excepting coffee, ok everyone. Just so we're clear, me and coffee are still besties.)

One of my rules for what I give up is that my mortification should not mortify others. It should not be difficult to accommodate or place restrictions on other members of my family.

Last year I gave up technology during naptime. I had to plan ahead to have books ready, sewing projects, and any computer work done before naptime began. I had to get used to doing things without Pandora going in the background.

It was hard! Harder than I expected, but I also realized how much time I was wasting checking email, facebook, and pinterest during naptime. Without doing that I could read so much! And sew so much! And really journal everyday!

I am going to do it again this year. It was a good practice in becoming conscious of how I use my free time, and I could always use a little of that!

3. Prayer Focus

This is the first year I am explicitly adding this to my Lent planning. I have found myself, in past years, naturally having something that would keep coming up in my prayers during Lent.

Sometimes I was pregnant and it had to do with preparing for the birth and welcoming that baby.
Sometimes it had to do with discerning what I was called to be doing in my life in the coming year.
Sometimes it was reflecting on particular virtues and striving to live those out in a better way.

Once I pick the thing I add it whenever there is opportunity: as a rosary intention, at the end of my intentions during morning and evening prayer, and during the intentions at mass.

I try not to tell people what my prayer focus will be until Lent is over. It helps keep the focus on listening to God and cuts down on the noise.

But what about the kids?

As much as possible, I have the kids participate in Lent with us. They also give up meat on Fridays, I try to have some extra church trips with them during the week, and we talk about what we are doing and why.

I start that right off the bat. I figure it's easier to start a habit early than to learn a discipline later.
That means no pepperoni for the one year old either.

I'm home with the kids all day, so I try to keep up a mix of solo prayer and prayer with kids. Using naptimes is great for a solo prayer time that has a starting trigger. Mealtimes are excellent opportunities for sneaking in a bible story or short life of a saint.

Experiment a little and be enthusiastic - the kids will probably follow your lead. 

How NOT To Do An Audition

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Last week I had my first ever real musical theater audition!

It went.....


I was terrible.

The kind of terrible where I left the theater laughing a bit because it really was just that ludicrously bad.

So, what exactly happened?

Kicker: I stopped and asked to start again.
Instead of just making do with what happened, my brain switched into rehearsal mode and got all perfectionist on me.

But theater people are (almost disconcertedly) nice.

The whole audition panel is like:

That was nice, but definitely not enough to convince my voice to get un-nervoused after that fiasco.

So needless to say, that's not going to be happening.

Brightside: found out the rehearsal schedule would almost certainly have conflicted with dance rehearsals for the May performance. So, in the end, probably a good thing it's not going forward.

I learned a lot from this.
I want to do a lot more training, and figure out a way to get reliable rehearsals pre-audition.

A lot of this is happening. 

Barre is great for distraction and for being able to make discernible improvement on my own.

Walk for Life Week!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy Walk for Life Week Everybody!

This week is beginning to feel like a Catholic young adult extravaganza.
We are lucky enough to have the Sisters of Life and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in town for Walk for Life West Coast!

Yesterday was the Berkeley Catholic Day Out which involved meals with the religious, playing games on the lawn in the middle of UC Berkeley campus, talks, adoration, and social time!

I had the kids with me for the games and I wish I had gotten a picture of the sight. So many people stopped and stared at the religious running, in full habit, to catch a frisbee.

Bringing babies to a college campus is always an interesting experience. There is typically one of three reactions: the students ignore the babies like their lives depend on it, the students notice the children but treat them more like wild animals who might nip at any moment, or they go completely goo-goo ga-ga over the babies! This time we added habited religious going goo-goo ga-ga over the babies.

As last night was Men's Night at my house, I got to go back and attend some of the talks, holy hour, and social!
I'm a total sucker for vocation stories. I think I might like them more than the "how I met my spouse" stories. Religious vocation stories have more twists and turns and "no way" moments!

Sisters of Life are generally a young order, both since it's founding and in the average age of its members. Many have a vocation story that involves World Youth Day in some form or fashion. It's great to hang out with religious who look like me. We're close to the same age and care about the same things.

Lots of bonding around the fire! Gatherings with fire are always better.

If you would like to join us this weekend, please do so! You can follow the Walk on facebook to keep up with event news.

Join us afterwards for Catholic Underground!

Goodbye to Dawson's Creek Hair and Some Audition Excitement

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's time for another 7 Quick Takes with This Ain't the Lyceum!


For a good bit of time John had been rocking "Dawson's Creek Hair".


But on a 3 year old.

As cute as this was, it was still time for a haircut.

He doesn't stay as still for mommy haircuts as he used to so John got his first professional haircut this week!

He was super still and amazingly well behaved the whole time.

He just kept making this face.


Any place that has something to play with while waiting gets so many extra brownie points with me!


We started the slow process of taking all of the Christmas things down last week, but I'm dragging my feet on taking down the Christmas cards because....I haven't sent out my own yet.

This is not actually my fault, so I shouldn't feel guilty, but I do.

We thought it would be smart to use our photos from the parish directory shoot and just order Christmas cards then. Not having to dress up the kids for a photoshoot twice sounded like a good idea.

Nope, never doing that again. The cards have still not arrived.

They are now free, but still.

So sorry to everyone on my Christmas card list! I have not forgotten about you, I just have nothing to send you!


I started reading A Mother's Rule of Life.

So far it sounds very similar to the type of system I have fallen into, but I'm curious to see if there is something I can add or smooth out to my own day.


On Thursday, I get to audition in this theater!

It's the oldest operating theater in San Francisco!

This is mostly just for fun. It would be good to get audition practice.
I have never gone out for a musical before!


I'm singing a (strict 32 bars) of this song.


In other fun news - I'll be dancing on a real stage in May!

More details on that to come. 
It will be Mother's Day weekend at the Regents' Theater at Holy Names University!

Rehearsals start in February!

How We Homeschool Right Now - featuring Letter L!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We're back to homeschool preschool time!

It's so nice to be back on a routine that forces us to really get something DONE during the day. Here is what the schooling system is looking like right now.

Monday: Library trip to get as many of the books on the book list as they have at my local branch. (I found requesting books meant that things got there at odd times, and it just wasn't working for the homeschool stuff.)

Tuesday: Make the letter of the week out of manipulatives that start with that letter. Read some of the books.
Matt has started doing our Little Lambs lesson with John on Tuesday evenings. Yea active Dads!

Wednesday: Do one or two of the activities. I aim for one that is "seat work" and a more active one. Read more of the books.

Thursday: One activity and aim to have read all of the books we got from the library at least once by now.

Friday: The catch up day! This holds true for catching up on any chores or errands that didn't get done this week. It's also the day we would do any Little Lambs activities Matt didn't get around to on Tuesday night, and review that lesson.

Here's how that went down with Letter L!

We found a decent number of the books this week! I'm averaging 4-5 from the actual book list plus some from the science section that I skim looking for the appropriate letter.

John's favorite this week was surprising.

Titled The Lion's Share: A Tale of Halving Cake and Eating It, Too, it's essentially a math storybook. Like most of it is about doubling and halving with a moral story about the importance of good manners.
John LOVED it. It might have to go on his birthday list.

Our other big hit this week was this letter matching game. I wrote all of the letters A-L, both upper and lower cases, on notecards and cut those up into little cards.

Come to find out, there are quite a few possible sorts and matching versions one can do with these cards. We sorted all the uppercase and lowercase letters into piles, We matched the letters, we put them in alphabetical order in all sorts of directions. We sang the alphabet song about a million times.

John ate it up. I give up on being able to predict the things he will love.

We did a leaf scavenger hunt and went to town with leaf crafts! Leaf rubbings, and sorting by size, shape, color, and softness. 
Therese made us some leaf confetti. It was so nice of her....

Letter L made out of leaves might have survived better had we used something besides craft glue and magnolia leaves. Whoops. That'll probably be a re-do later activity.

Those are the highlights! We're onto letter M this week!

Aaaannnndddd....We're Back!

Friday, January 8, 2016

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

After a Texas vacation and the fun of the Christmas season is coming to a close, we got back to business as usual around here.


That includes getting back to homeschooling!

Sneak peek of letter L week.


You might have noticed that we haven't had a homeschool post on here in awhile. That's because our midway two week break became more like a two month-ish break because.......I lost the book.

I know that sounds like the teacher version of "the dog ate my homework", but I swear that's what happened!
Could not find the curriculum book anywhere in our (rather small) house. 
Finally gave up and ordered a new one on Amazon, and I found the book the day before it arrived in the mail.

Thanks St. Anthony. A little slow, but you got there.


This little one turned 16 months old last month. She's still not walking independently (she does use chairs and other objects as walking props.) 

Therefore, no rainy patio time for the scooter baby.
More incentive for walking time!


Finally had my act together enough to do the Epiphany house blessing this year!

Now to convince John that I still mean what I say about not drawing on the walls.


This is the first year John really started "getting" all the different seasons and the changes. 

He gave me this awesome little speech the other day: "I'm so sorry momma, but we have to take down these decorations. There no more parties. No more Christmas. Even no more Christmas EVE."

I've convinced him to hold off until Sunday, but he's really not sure about this plan.


Tomorrow is our young adult's group Epiphany White Elephant Exchange!

It's a great way to regift things that are nice and sweet, but maybe not the best choice for you.
Case in point: last year one of  Matt's co-workers made these really cute DIY coasters out of heavy duty tiles. 
Awesome gift! Not awesome with tiny kids.

A 2 year old boy sees that and starts a "throwing challenge" in two seconds flat.
White elephant that gift and everyone is happy!


Finally, the young adults are hosting what I think is the most awesome Valentine's event ever.


So if you're a young adult in the SF Bay Area, come dance with us!

A Christmas and New Years Eve Recap!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Whew this has been a whirlwind Christmas! Here's a little recap.

We flew out to Texas very early in the morning, and like people who have done this before (which we are) we set our phone alarms for dark and early. Well, bless my optimistic heart, that just never seems to work when it's important.

The only reason we were close to being ready for the airport shuttle on time was this little guy.

Thanks for being too excited to sleep through the night buddy. For once, I really appreciated it.

We stopped by my Dad's warehouse on the way to the house, and John got to have all his greatest dreams come true.

He got to control the forklift himself too. Just the up and down part, not the driving part. 
I'm not crazy- we'll be waiting until he's AT LEAST five.

The faces of suspicion when we actually turned it on were pretty great.
Since the weather report said rain for days, we had our bonfire early.

My Ponca father lit it with the traditional...propane torch...
We're totally in touch with our heritage.

John turned out to be a champion marshmallow roaster. Kid has a scary amount of concentration when sugar is involved.

Remember that rain I mentioned. Yeah, well that was more like TEXAS WEATHER IS ABOUT TO GO BANANAS!


That tornado watch section? That's where we were.
Except that watch became a tornado warning which became all the sirens going off.

So I calmly gathered up a bunch of pillows, blankets, and towels during the warning, and stuck the kids in the bathtub during the sirens. A lifetime of doing this for the win!

Being released from the bathtub!
In case you were concerned, we survived the tornado with no damage, but a lot of other people didn't. The Red Cross is on that if you want to help out.

The kids had a good Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Real quote from one of my sisters: "Can we take him to church like this?!" ....No....
Got to take the kids to my home parish, St. Thomas Aquinas in Dallas for Sunday mass, but we did the Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Christmas Day mass. 

There was a bunch of hanging out and exploring Dallas after that, but I didn't take a lot of pictures. So I'm just going to jump to: we flew home on New Years Eve! 
And hosted the Young Adults group New Years Eve Party that evening.
Because there's no way that could have gone wrong.

But it didn't! It was awesome!

Downton Abbey inspired dress and jewlery. It's *technically* for a wedding, but I thought it would be fun for NYE too.
Matt made about 5 amazing appetizers, people came, lots of fun times.
The kids zonked out right on time. Being jetlagged is hard on little bodies. When I told Therese it was time for bed, she actually said "Yea, yea!!"

We had our champagne toast on the roof of our building while watching the fireworks across the Bay.

Not bad, not bad at all.
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