Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"We've done it the same way for 40 years." Adventures with the Worship Committee :0


Happy Tuesday of Holy Week everyone! I wanted to share my experience on my parish's new Worship Committee, since I'm very excited about it. As decor is one of the items that is on our list to discuss, to the left is another photo of our altar on Palm Sunday, and yes, on the far end of that shot there is Anne, in motion, moments before I grabbed her and hauled her to my side. Such is my lot in life at Mass these days. ;-)

At any rate, I arrived last Thursday with my liturgy Sourcebook, a pen, and a notepad, a full five minutes early, like a true nerd. There was a decent crowd there, just over a dozen people in all, and I recognized most of them from either the music ministry or from Mass generally. Turns out a large contingent of them were from the parish Ladies Sodality. I can never attend the Ladies Sodality, because their meetings are on a night that Mike teaches. Mike has also wondered whether or not I'd be the youngest person there by...quite a lot. :)

I don't think he's wrong, but that wouldn't discourage me. :) At any rate, since I can't attend that group, it's especially nice that I'm able to be involved in this way. So, we get started, and this was really just a meet-and-greet type of session. For the rest of the liturgical year, Fr. Joe is planning to not make any sweeping changes and just see how things go, since he's so new. Beginning in October, our group will start to meet regularly to plan for the new liturgical year. And he gave us a schedule.

*angels sing!*

I love schedules. :0 In October, we'll meet to discuss the feast of All Saints/All Souls, and plan for a Memorial Mass to pray for those who died over the course of the year. We'll also discuss the feast of Christ the King. In November we'll meet to discuss Advent and order Christmas flowers. In December we'll meet to discuss Christmas. And so on.

So for each of these items, we'll discuss the options within the liturgical norms. We'll discuss decorations, if applicable, and scheduling. So, Mass times, in the future, will be on the table. This is where a bit of resistance came in. :) Some members of the Ladies Sodality DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE THE MASS TIMES. They feel very strongly about this. :0 Fr. Joe acknowledged that changing Mass times is no easy feat, and he does not take the task lightly. And so perhaps they will stay the same. But it only makes sense to evaluate the number and timing of weekend Masses to assess whether or not a different schedule would be more practical and appropriate. There were some frowns over this, but we were able to move on. ;-) The scheduling of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion was also a bit of a controversy, who knew? There were a number of people present who feel like more stations for reception of the Eucharist need to be set up. I'm not certain that I agree with that, so here's to exploring this more in the future. :)

And so next year, we will all be able to discuss Lent and the Holy Week liturgies. I received a few comments about what I noted for our upcoming Holy Thursday liturgy, and I appreciate them, truly. In all honesty, this is what I suspected anyway. To put it in a nutshell, my feeling on this issue is that I am no liturgical expert right now. I'm going to let that be worked out on its own, by the proper authorities. I'm just along for the ride and to learn this year. Next year, as a member of this committee, I will have a say in things, and yes, I am very much a fan of more traditional interpretations. :) Ironic, coming from "the young one."

"Father, isn't it so nice to see *such young people* like Tiffany involved in the parish?"

Who is this lady, I love her?!?!! She's my new best friend at Mass.

*beams*

How is your Holy Week proceeding, dear reader?

Monday, March 30, 2015

"OW! ANNE!! Be careful with your palm!!" Adventures with my young at Palm Sunday Mass...

AAANNNDDD so began our Palm Sunday Mass experience in a way that I can only characterize as *completely expected.* ;-) But let's rewind back to the very early morning...

I have been looking forward to Holy Week for months and months. And Palm Sunday, being the first liturgy, has a special place in my heart. :) I woke up with an actual excited feeling in my stomach that Holy Week was beginning. I got out my phone and used the Divine Office app to pray Morning Prayer. It was all so glorious I could hardly stand it. Breakfast went well, and then we did our usual morning chores and then getting ready for Mass routine. I wore red, just so that I could match the liturgical color of the day. :0 Then...

Super cute, dramatic offender #1, pictured here in the forefront...
 The children started fighting, which 100% of the time translates to Henry being bored and thus filling his time doing things he knows will annoy Anne, and Anne screaming at him. I was doing my best to retain my serenity and refereed them as best I could *halo*, but right before we left some act of annoyance transpired which left Anne is a huge sulk. Anne, at nearly 4 years old, has the *dramatic pout* expression and countenance down to a science. She resisted putting on her shoes and coat, and went limp when I intervened. Joy.

I got her stuffed into her car seat, Henry smirking all the way because he knew that his efforts at Extreme Sister Annoyance had borne fruit. My serene outlook was already in danger, but it all flew out the window when a disturbance in the back seat, followed by me looking in the rear view mirror, resulted in me catching Henry pulling Anne's hair, followed by Anne walloping Henry with her Olaf purse.

"I thought I told you two TO IGNORE EACH OTHER!"

*cacophony of objections from the back seat*

"She hit me again!!"

"ANNE! Stop that! DON'T EVEN LOOK AT EACH OTHER."

:0

Ugh. We weren't off to a good start, but I will say that things improved greatly. We arrived to find our church decked out in all it's Palm Sunday glory:


We immediately fetched palms, which Anne commandeered forthwith and nearly took my eye out.

"Honey, you cannot wave the palms around, you could hurt somebody."

"But I love the palms, Mommy."

"I know, and you can hold them, but you have to keep them down."

*pointedly ignores me*

It was a challenge. :0 Anne got back from Children's Liturgy of the Word to announce:

"Mommy. There was a little boy back there, and he hit me with his palm RIGHT IN THE FACE."

"I'm sure it was an accident, Honey. That's why you can't wave them around."

*mutinous look*

But we all persevered, me carefully managing Anne's palm use. This was the first weekend that the statues were veiled at our parish. In the past, we've done it halfway through Lent, and next year this will be something the Worship Committee decides on. But for now, Fr. Joe is just trying to keep up with things as best he can. I do love the symbolism of the veiled statues, makes everything look all the fresher at Easter, and we can appreciate them anew.

Henry looked aggrieved by the length of the Passion narrative, but he quickly got into it. The schedule for Holy Week was in our bulletin and I happily took note of everything during the Offertory. I wish I could go to the Chrism Mass tomorrow at our cathedral, but I have a conflict. Everything else I can attend, and plan to. *beams*

As ever, the Palm Sunday liturgy was beautiful, and it really put me in a happily contemplative place for Holy Week. We chatted with our new parish friends afterward about plans for Easter Mass, I'm just so, so pleased about our new sense of community. And the rest of the day improved as well. The children seemed contrite and stopped arguing, and Mike's NCAA Tournament bracket took a turn for the better. Hey, if he wins, I consider that a victory, given that we share the same pot of money. ;-) I also worked on some craft projects, I'll have to devote a whole post to that coming up, maybe next week? Some good, some bad. Some REALLY BAD. :0 It's all part of the adventure.

How was your Palm Sunday, dear reader?

Friday, March 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 75) Holy Week edition!


OOhhhhh, I have so much fun stuff to report! I had Worship Committee last night, and I want to devote a whole post to that :) so look for that next Tuesday. First, I wanted to spend an entire 7 Quick Takes on Holy Week, as it deserves it, don't you think? I'm in a pretty good mood on this Lenten Friday. Fish fry at our parish tonight, I mean, !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good stuff, right there. OK, so a parish report-in next week, but right now, Holy Week. What am I going to be up to? And what are YOU going to be up to? I want to know. :)

-1- Hope springs eternal...

I love the Liturgy of the Hours, I really do. You'd think this meant that I pray them every day, but, well... I don't. :) I have the app and everything, but fitting it into my schedule is always a challenge. I pray Morning and Evening Prayer sporadically, when I can, and I do use the app when I do that. I knew better than to make this a Lenten goal, because I was setting myself up to fail. ;-) So, what I decided to do is try to pray Morning and Evening Prayer for all of Holy Week. I'm off for part of Holy Week anyway, so I think it may actually be manageable. My plan is to start with evening prayer tomorrow, since that is the vigil of Palm Sunday, and I am SO EXCITED for Palm Sunday. We'll see how this goes. :) But speaking of Palm Sunday...

-2- Mini palm trees from Home Depot? Sounds good to me.

Our new pastor is just darling, I really like him. And for two weeks now, the sacristy has been bursting at the seams with these palmy bushes that he plans to use as decor for Palm Sunday. I can tell that he's trying not to rock the boat by making sweeping changes, but he wants to put his own stamp on things and mix things up from the way we always do things. Because...we have sorta done things exactly the same way every year for the past 10 years. ;-) So he has this new altar decor planned for Palm Sunday, and I'm curious to see how it turns out, and how open people are to it. Based upon the Worship Committee meeting last night (again, details next week) there is some definite resistance to change, so we'll see how this goes.

For my part, I'm looking forward to Palm Sunday, and the kids and I can't wait to get our palms. And the beginning of Holy Week! *swoons* So much liturgical goodness to come. Starting with...

-3- Washing of the hands? Sounds a bit like a ritual I force upon my children :)

Holy Thursday! One little tidbit that came out of our meeting is the plans for Holy Thursday. Now, I've never been to the Mass of the Lord's Supper (scandalous!) and this year, I'm going for sure, so I'm all excited. But even I know that on Holy Thursday, there is a washing of the feet ceremony. With our new pastor still just getting to know everyone, he decided to to substitute finding 12 male volunteers for this shindig in favor of a hand washing ceremony in which the entire congregation comes forward. Interesting? Yes, I suppose. Somewhat untraditional, but what do I know? :)

-4- Good old fashioned Good Friday solemnness...

I've been to the Good Friday liturgy for the past two years, and now I won't miss it. There is a Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross. Anne has gone with me the past two years, and I plan to bring her again. I'm hoping Henry will come to Holy Thursday, I'll have to find an incentive to coax him into this. :) But on Good Friday we'll be at the service at 3 pm, and then having a simple meatless dinner later. I will try to pray the Stations of the Cross with Henry before bed.

-5- Divine Mercy novena!

Good Friday is also the start date for the Divine Mercy novena, and I've created a special page with all the details! I pray this novena every year and just love it. Consider joining in! Pray More Novenas is involved this year, meaning that you can sign up to get the prayers and a reminder right in your email inbox. I'm doing that! Join me. :)

-6- A light in the darkness.

In all of my years of being Catholic, I never had ANY idea of the hidden jewel that is the Easter Vigil until a handful of years ago. Now, I will grant: the Easter Vigil can be LONG. There are nine readings, though some parishes choose not to do all of them. The shortest Easter Vigil I've ever been to was an hour and a half. Not bad at all, but I was at one that was three hours. :0 But it's SO WORTH IT. Seeing people receive the sacraments and come into the Church...I cry, even if they're strangers to me! And the fire outside that begins the liturgy? I mean, that's a real crowd pleaser. :) And having the Eucharist in the Tabernacle again after it being missing since the conclusion of Holy Thursday? That's packs a wallop, right there. Hearing the Gloria sung again for the first time since before Ash Wednesday? Oh! It's so wonderful. I can't wait to go.

-7- And finally, we eat chocolate.

Easter Sunday I'm planning for the entire family to attend morning Mass (either 8 or 10 am, that is still under negotiation :)) and we're hosting Easter dinner for our parents. Ham and chocolate for everybody! We have Easter chocolate from Henry's school sale tucked into our cupboard, and I haven't let anybody eat it, which Henry thinks is a human rights violation. But soon! I have other special treats planned for the kids' Easter baskets as well.

What are your Holy Week plans, dear reader? Do let me know! And don't forget to check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum! Talk to you on Monday!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Have you gotten to Confession for Lent? :) and Worship Committee meeting tonight!

Morning all! It's a pretty rainy one here in WNY. Hey, maybe it'll melt more of the snow.

#win

BUT I have my first Worship Committee meeting tonight at 7 pm, and I'm super excited. I really don't know anything about this little endeavor, but that has deterred me not one bit. Ever since I discontinued as a catechist for the Children's Liturgy of the Word program (schedule conflict), I have been chomping at the bit for another opportunity to become involved at my parish. Lectoring really isn't an option with the kids, and religious education has the schedule concern, so I was really hoping for parish council or a committee or some sort. I work in academia, I am a pro at committee meetings. ;-)

In my six years at our parish, I have never once seen anything about an official council. I believe there is a finance committee, but...no thanks. :) Somebody's got to do it, to be sure, and I'm grateful for those who do, but that's not really an interest of mine. Liturgy? Yes, here we go.

So, we'll see how this works out. We have these books we're going to use that discuss every single Sunday and holy day of obligation within the liturgical year, and that's all I know. But books, Mass, liturgical year?! Those words make my heart sing. I'll report back in.

In other Lenten news, we are on the very heels of Easter at this point. How has it been going for you? For me, this has been a quietly lovely Lent. No grand visions, but on the other hand, no spiritual dryness. I have special plans for Holy Week, which I'll talk about tomorrow in 7 Quick Takes, Holy Week edition :), but in terms of the goals I made for this Lent, I'd say things went decently well. Rosary, Magnificat Lenten Companion, all good. Fasting from dessert, not TERRIBLE. I have not been perfect, but I have done a lot better with this than I ever have in previous Lents.

I did want to get to Confession this Lent, and on Tuesday I was able to cross that off my list, score! I don't know about you, but availing myself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation makes me very anxious. I know that that's silly, that this is a very freeing sacrament, and indeed, I feel that freedom the instant I leave the confessional, but still. I fret the entire time I examine my conscience, drive to the church, and wait in line. And the parish where I attend Confession (the one affiliated with Henry's school, the weekday afternoon timeslot just works better for me than the Saturday one offered at my own parish) *always* has a line. :0 Penitents just flock to this Confession session, for whatever reason. So then I'm standing around waiting and letting my anxiety marinate. I wouldn't say that I'm scrupulous, but I really beat myself up over things. And because of my inherently private nature, it's hard for me to share such details with another person, but I think this is a common struggle others have with Confession as well. So there you have it, but I went, and it was marvelous. And during Lent? It just feels even better than usual. So have you gone?! You should. :) You'll feel great afterward, and with Holy Week just days away, the graces of the sacrament couldn't come at a better time.

So. Lenten update. It's your turn now. :0 How's it going?!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Catholic Book Club: Trusting God with St. Therese

Happy Catholic Book Club Wednesday everyone! I'm a little tired following a long night with a coughing Anne (poor wee babe), but I'm in good spirits. Despite a cold sweeping through the household (Henry has it too), spring is here, the snow is melting, and I'm all atwitter about Holy Week and upcoming exciting summer plans.

*angels sing!*

And today is book club day, which is always fun. :) This month, I read Trusting God with St. Therese, by Connie Rossini. Have any of you read it? If you haven't, I absolutely recommend it, and it's only $4.99 for Kindle. Worth it! Let's describe, shall we?

What I really enjoyed about this book are two things: (1) the creative structure, which I'll describe in a moment, and (2) the personal nature of the narrative. The way that the author organizes the book is both chronological and thematic. All of the themes tie-in to trust in God's plan for our lives, but it's broken down a bit. For example, there's a chapter addressing anger and other negative emotions, and one that deals with spiritual dryness and darkness. We start with St. Therese's infancy and work our way through to her death at age 24. Each chapter begins with a scene from Therese's life, and it's written in a very down to earth, relatable style. I've read The Story of a Soul, but I still felt like I was getting an insider's view into St. Therese's life, along with new information, just based upon the way the author presented the material. Following that, the author discusses the theme for a bit, relating it to Scripture or other Church teaching, and then moves into an applicable anecdote from her own life. We also move chronologically with our author, so as the book progresses, we learn about her childhood charismatic Catholic faith, the early death of her own sister, her deep desire to be married and having a difficult time waiting to meet Mr. Right, her struggle with new parenthood, and a painful encounter with her local Secular Carmelite community. Each chapter ends with us going back to the life of St. Therese briefly, to wrap up the theme. As well, each chapter includes two reflection questions and a handful of practical suggestions to grow in your own spiritual life based upon the content.

You all know how I sometimes struggle with non-fiction - I have a short attention span, and anything short of personal memoirs or biographies usually don't grab me. This book isn't a memoir per se, but it has a very personal style and includes many personal anecdotes from both St. Therese and the author. I found it very pleasing and engaging to read, and I truly enjoyed it. I looked forward to pulling out my Kindle each evening, which is always the sign of a book that I like. If something is taking me a long time to read because I don't excitedly bring out my Kindle out here and there, well...that's a bad sign. :) I read this book quickly due to my enjoyment of it.

If you've read this, please leave a comment with your thoughts! For the next few months we have some religious fiction on our list, which is always fun. April heralds Vow of Evil (A Sister Joan Mystery), by Veronica Black. I hope you'll read and join in!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Church Triumphant: Spotlight on St. Isidore the Farmer

Happy Tuesday everyone, and welcome to the March edition of The Church Triumphant! Today, in perfect timing, Cristina is writing about tomorrow's Feast of the Annunciation (exciting!) which is also the date that she will complete her Marian consecration, so do head over to read all about it! For my part, I looked at my handy dandy saints calendar that Cristina sweetly gave me for my birthday, to garner an idea, and noticed St. Isidore the Farmer on March 22nd. I perked right up. Interestingly, his memorial is celebrated on May 15th, but apparently in the older 1962 calendar (which is used when the Traditional Latin Mass is offered) his feast was celebrated on March 22nd, hence his indication on my all- inclusive calendar. I love fascinating little facts such as these. ;-)

St. Isidore captured my attention because I've written about him before. He is a favorite saint of my Henry, and isn't it just so precious when children take a shine to a particular saint? St. Isidore's story is a simple one in many ways, and that's part of why Henry is drawn to it, I think. St. Isidore was just a guy who was a hard worker, but he loved to attend daily Mass, and that's where the story gets interesting...

St. Isidore was born in the late 11th century in Madrid. He later married, and he and his wife lost a son in infancy. Following that tragedy, he and his wife discerned that they would dedicate the remainder of their lives to God, and they chose to live as brother and sister. During the course of his daily labors, Isidore wanted to make his work sacred by prayer and attending Mass. His fellow workers felt that he was being lazy by slipping off to attend Mass and, in their opinion, sticking them with extra work, so they informed their boss of his actions. When his boss came to check on the situation, he found angels plowing the field in Isidore's stead. I love that that image always appears in St. Isidore's iconography, as you can see above. And in fact, that's Henry's favorite part of the story, the angels. Maybe he's hoping that they'll come do his chores for him sometime? ;-)

There are a few saints that Henry is always interested in when we flip open his saint books each evening: St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Dominic Savio, and St. Isidore the Farmer. For Christmas, I bought him a St. Isidore wooden saint figurine:

As soon as Henry pulled St. Isidore out of his Christmas stocking, he recognized him. :) I love the sweetness that comes from a child's devotion to a saint, and thus I have a fondness for St. Isidore as well. In fact, a few years ago he was patron saint of this blog, and that came from the random saint name generator, so obviously God has deigned him as special for me as well. :)

I very much relate to St. Isidore's desire to sanctify his work. Ever since my early 20's, I have longed for a job that was more religious in nature, but that was not to be. And so within my secular jobs, small reminders to offer things up, pray an Angelus at noon or Morning Prayer during a quiet reference shift, or attend daily Mass at lunchtime take on greater significance. Our secular work still has deeper meaning for our souls, for the souls of others, and for our relationship with God. St. Isidore is the perfect example of that.

As I was researching this post, I found that there are official prayers for a novena to St. Isidore. Score! Traditionally, his novena is prayed from May 7th to his feast day of May 15th. Maybe we should do this this year? Think about it. :) Perhaps I'll pray this with Henry this year. I'm going to write myself a little reminder in my planner...done!

Does anybody else have a devotion to St. Isidore the Farmer? Do leave a comment. And don't forget to head over to Cristina's place to read more about the Annunciation!

Monday, March 23, 2015

People at our parish like us, I think they actually like us!! on the 5th Sunday of Lent...

Snazzy outfit and Frozen shoes, check!
Happy Monday everyone! Though admittedly, I'm not feeling exactly enthusiastic about being back at work, I did have a fun, jam-packed weekend. So let's discuss, shall we?

Before we get to Catholic stuff, I wanted to briefly mention two shows that I saw this weekend. On Saturday, I took Anne to see the new Cinderella adaptation. I was planning to take Henry as well (he was in it for the popcorn) but in the end, he decided to stay home with Mike and they watched a super hero movie together that they procured from Redbox. Apparently, they felt very manly and bonded while they did this. ;-)

But Anne and I headed to the movie theater, and well...BEAUTIFUL. I mean really, this is a beautiful movie. The pairing with the Frozen Fever short certainly sweetened the pot for Anne, she loved that. But we *both* loved Cinderella. The cinematography and costuming is just breathtaking, and this movie just had a "feel" about it that swept you into a magical place. And can I just say, I WANT HER DRESS. I'm not usually a princessy type of gal; in fact, when I married Mike, the one quality I was looking for in a dress was that it was NOT a ball gown. But her blue gown? *swoons*


It's just swirly and magical and feminine and wonderful. And her wedding dress at the end, in the same style, was also stunning. Gorgeous! I loved the movie, it was terribly sweet and endearing, perfect for little girls. As the final scene faded, with Cinderella and her groom on the balcony in their wedding attire, the theater burst into spontaneous applause. Just lovely.

And yesterday, my mom and I went to see the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, which is here for about two weeks at a beautiful historic theater downtown. I've seen this show before, but not for many years, and they're redesigned it since then. I had a wonderful time. The new set is amazing, truly, and I just love the music. Afterward, my mom and I went out to dinner to arguably the nicest steakhouse in Buffalo, and I'd never been there before. Travesty! I rarely get to share a meal with just me and my mom, no kids along. It was really, really nice. A wonderful way to end an otherwise depressing weekend of basketball. ;-)

*sound of Tiffany discreetly slipping her bracket into the trash can*

But Catholic stuff! Yes, lots of that. This was the final Sunday of Lent prior to Palm Sunday and Holy Week, and I am nearly bursting with excitement. But before we get to that, we have this week, including the first Worship Committee meeting this Thursday. I will be reporting in on that, to be sure. :) But I'm just feeling so warm toward my parish these days. After 6 years, I finally feel like I'm getting to know some people. Anne has made a friend in a college-aged girl who usually sits near us with her mom. We chat with her every week now after Mass, and this week Anne ran to her with an enthusiastic "HI KENDRA!" when we first spotted her in the parking lot. Anne even brought her back a handout from her Children's Liturgy of the Word session. *heart* Adorable.

As we were chatting following Mass, Fr. Joe came over to greet us all, and a few other people stopped to say hello to Kendra, who introduced them to us...and I just got such a happy feeling from all of it. I've always liked and gotten a positive vibe from our parish, that's why I've stayed there rather than transferring over to the parish affiliated with Henry's school. But now I feel integrated, like people notice that we're regulars and want to get to know us. I'm loving. :)

So, an exciting week ahead. I'm very curious to see who else volunteered for the Worship Committee and what kind of role I can play there. I have my Sourcebook and pen all ready to go.

#nerd

How was your weekend, dear reader?

Friday, March 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 74} Exciting spring developments (books! dance! beer!) edition

I know I've been harping on this spring thing lately, but I can't help it. :0 In all of my years of living in WNY, I can never remember feeling this way following a winter. I actually feel my mood lift when I see the sun out these days, and the piles of snow diminishing.

#glorious

So on my mind today are a motley assortment of things, but all have a common root in that they are taking place during spring and bring me joy. So here we go!

-1- A new book in the "I Am Margaret" series means a very quick-like download

Corinna Turner's "I Am Margaret" has quickly become my very favorite fiction series (reviews of previous books here and here). I have read the first two books (devoured is the more appropriate term) and the third book just came out this week. Let's cue the angels singing, shall we?


Liberation is available for just $3.90 for Kindle, and I had that baby downloaded to my precious Patrick in record time. I'm finishing up what I'm reading now *halo* but then I'm giving myself permission to dive right into book 3. Speaking of what I'm reading right now...

-2- Catholic Book Club, and can I say how much I adore that precious St. Therese?

I'm finishing up Trusting God With St. Therese by Connie Rossini in preparation for my Catholic Book Club post on Wednesday:


I am *really* enjoying this book, and gosh, that St. Therese! So cute! So charming! I think that St. Therese is one of those people that on the surface seem hard to relate to (entering Carmel at age 15 and having such a childlike faith; my sheer volume of sins crush hers, I am certain :0) but on the other hand, she has this quality... people love and relate to her. She was given a special gift and charism by God, and we are all just drawn to her innate sweetness and trust in God's plan for her life. I have been thinking about her a lot during the day, and it's all because of this book. I hope that you're reading it too! It's a $4.99 download for Kindle. Come back on Wednesday to read more!

-3- This time, with flare!

My dance troupe is ordering new costumes, beledi style gowns that we can wear for certain pieces. We chose a standardized fabric (lime and blue paisley, we're never one for boring colors :0) and then we can each customize the gown as we'd like, since they are custom made for size anyway. So sleeves, slits, all that jazz, are totally up to the individual dancer. I chose the halter neckline (we're going to be wearing these outside in the summer, and I worry about sweat. Just one of the many, many things I worry about ;-)) and the "flared" skirt, which means that it'll be super twirly, like a trumpet skirt. No slits, for maximum twirly effect. :) I'm very excited! Each dress will be a little different, I can't wait to see them all. We'll debut them at the hafla on May 2nd, and then wear them for all of our summer festivals.

#fun!

-4- *bites nails*

 Speaking of dance, I have chosen solo music for the hafla. For someone as hyper organized as I am, this is no small feat. I go through my playlists of Middle Eastern music (sub-organized by style, of course), I go though iTunes for new ideas, I watch YouTube videos to see if anything inspires me...It takes a long time for me to pick the perfect piece of music. I want something that is different from the last solo piece I did, that really resonates with me, that is an ideal length (because Audacity and I do NOT get along when it comes to cutting music), and generally speaks to me, saying "dance with me, we'll be fabulous together!" I get nervous dancing solo, but it's like eating vegetables: it's good for me. It helps me to learn and grow as a dancer and performer. This long explanation is all to say that I picked something, and I love it. :) It's an instrumental Baladi piece, so it has both slow and fast segments, and nice opportunities for drum accents. I'm going to be improvising, so I've just been listening to it a lot and getting an idea for which types of segments go where. It should be interesting, I'll report back in. :)

-5- I have playlists organized by season. Because I am a nerd.

And on the music theme, I have moved to my official spring/summer playlist for background while I work. Yes, I have seasonal playlists. :) The music is upbeat and would go well with an outdoor barbecue, those are my criteria. I'm enjoying the change over my winter of listening to the scores from Fargo and Frozen. #GodIsGood

-6- The one time of year that I watch basketball...

Yes, the NCAA Tournament. I do love it this time of year, though I do not normally watch basketball of any kind. Mike runs a pool amongst our family and friends, and it's really fun. So like a dutiful wife, I filled out my bracket. Then Thursday morning I second guessed some of my picks (Duke - you can never be trusted!) so I changed them. And... *groans*

Iowa State, what were you thinking?! Frankly, I'm blaming Duke again, simply because they're also in that bracket, so why not blame them? I had Iowa State in my FINAL FOUR. And they LOST THEIR VERY FIRST GAME. I will say, this is the beauty of the Tournament. Even smaller schools that make it in: if you win your conference, you're in and you get to contend for the title. So Iowa State was seeded 3rd in their bracket, I believe? And they were beaten (by a single point *grieves*) by a team seeded 14th. Very, very exciting. And speaking of the Tournament...

-7- Ending with beer, because why not?

 I'm taking the afternoon off to watch basketball with Mike. And we got a special growler of beer just for the occasion: a Brown Ale with chocolate tones, yuummmmm. The University at Buffalo Bulls are playing this afternoon, and I picked them to go to the Sweet Sixteen, so let's go Bulls! We need something cheery around here after the winter we had.

All right, have a fantastic weekend everyone! I have a busy one ahead. I'm taking the kids to see Cinderella tomorrow, and on Sunday my mom and I are going to see The Phantom of the Opera, which on tour here locally. I'll talk to you all on Monday! And check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Adventures with butter on the Feast of St. Joseph...

Good day to you all, and happy feast of St. Joseph! This feast day is very popular here in WNY, likely because of the strong Italian ancestry in this area. I always see advertisements for traditional St. Joseph's Tables beginning in early March, and this year was no exception. In fact, Henry's class (well, the 4th and 5th grade classes combined) are hosting a St. Joseph's Table and we received a note last week about sending items in for it if we would like.

I like!

So, a St. Joseph's Table involves a buffet of food that tradition holds we offer to the less fortunate. There are traditional dishes and decorations, but the way that we honor this feast today is simply to have a large buffet of food in celebration of St. Joseph's feast. Henry's class was in need of fruit, cheese, crackers, desserts, paper plates, napkins, and statuary for the altar. I noted that I would send in chocolate chip cookies, and Henry excitedly gathered his statues of St. Michael, St. Patrick, and St. George to bring in.

Now, chocolate chip cookies. I should bake them, right? But you all know what my baking skills are like. Unfortunately, my half Italian heritage has not translated to anything remotely resembling otherworldly baking skills. Every time my very Italian grandmother brings her infamous chocolate ball cookies to Christmas Eve dinner I eye them enviously before consuming a half dozen of them. But at any rate, I'm a decent cook, but baker? Not so much. I'm not too proud to buy store-bought baked goods (and everyone in my family breathes a collective sigh of relief) but I refuse to do that before I even TRY. See, I *wait* for the smoking cupcakes to come out of the oven before heading to Wegman's. So here we have Baking Attempt #367:

"Does this butter look '*just* colder than room temperature'? Maybe I should try putting my thumb print on it to test it like Betty Crocker says."

*Mike eyes me uneasily*

"I don't think we need to touch the butter. It's been sitting out for a short bit, I think it looks fine."

"Ok. Would you cream it while I mix up the dry ingredients?"

"What does it mean to cream it?"

"I have no idea, I was hoping you knew."

:0

This is what we're dealing with here, people. Our Italian mothers would disown us if they overhead this conversation.

I will say that the cookies turned out pretty well. I mixed and creamed everything per instructions, and even chilled the batter before putting it on the cookie sheets per a tip in the recipe. I made the cookies small since I wanted the batter to go as far as possible given the number of kids, and I took them out of the oven a hair *before* my instinct, meaning they didn't burn.

#winning

The kids (and Mike ;-))were bummed that I didn't let them eat any of them last night, since I wanted to send as many in to school as possible. But I had them all tucked into a Ziploc container and ready to go this morning, all perfect-like. I'm looking forward to hearing how everything goes. I received an email from Henry's teacher thanking those that sent in food and noting how excited the kids were. I'm excited too. :)

Also, the NCAA Tournament begins today! I studiously have my bracket completed, though I'm sure I'll lose, like usual. :0 Regardless, I will say that it is very fun to have a bracket and root for specific teams. Go Bulls!

How are you all spending the feast of St. Joseph?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Holy reminders this Lent- what are yours?

Morning all! It's good to be back with you. *heart* It's become somewhat rare for me to skip a weekday of blogging, but sometimes life happens. Yesterday I had a curriculum committee meeting that lasted all morning, and so imagine, I had to be a responsible adult and attend and pay attention. :0 Then I had just a few quick hours before I had to leave to get Henry to the allergist. Busy day! So no time to blog.

But here I am, back again. It's a beautiful spring day (more melting! *trumpets blare!*) and I was thinking this morning as I drove onto campus how close we are to Holy Week now. Lent has been ongoing for about a month... How has your Lent been going, dear reader?

Mine has been going pretty well. I remember feeling very spiritually dry last Lent (aside from Holy Week, which was transformative), but this Lent has been different. I wouldn't say that it's been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been very aware of my Lenten promises and doing my best to keep at them, and get back to them if I slip up (which I do :)). I'm scheduled to head to Reconciliation next Tuesday, just before Holy Week, and I'm really looking forward to that.

But it struck me this morning that a big part of keeping Lenten promises, or any prayer routine really, is the reminders that we set up for ourselves. I remember seeing Mother Anglica on the EWTN Religious Catalogue show refer to sacramentals and other religious articles as "holy reminders," and I've always loved that characterization. Do you have any small items that you set out to remind yourself to pray? Catholic tchotchkes anyone? ;-)

My very favorite sacramentals are rosaries. The way that I corral mine are mostly in two locations: in my car, and in my purse. I do keep one next to my bed for nighttime praying if I wish. But otherwise, I keep one or two tucked into my purse (along with a slew of chaplets) so that I always have a few with me, and a huge pile in a nook on the driver's side door of my car. :0 I pray the rosary a lot when I drive, and I like to have a large assortment to choose from depending on what I'm feeling on any given commute. We've got Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Francis, Pope St. John Paul II, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, the Divine Mercy, Bl. Mother Teresa, St. Kateri Tekakwitha...Well, you can see that I have a bit of a rosary habit. ;-) But each morning, I love pulling out the rosary I feel compelled to pray with that day. This morning, I was praying along with Pope Francis, but I've been favoring a blue and silver Our Lady of Lourdes rosary all winter. I pray with St. Kateri a lot when I go to Adoration. I'm planning to pray with St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy image throughout Easter. Love.

On my desk at work, I keep a small wooden statue of Our Lady Star of the Sea, which may be my very favorite Marian title, along with a matching rosary. She soothes me as I work, and is a good reminder to keep at the things I'm working on spiritually. I also have a fairly large collection of holy cards that I maintain for this same purpose. I'm working on getting them all displayed on a French style memo board.

In a very adorable aside, this Lent Anne has fallen in love with her Bible story book and with a small rosary prayer book that I gave her. I have had a bunch of those little rosary books through the years, and she has really taken a shine to her copy. She takes it to bed with her and prays a Hail Mary for each page in the book. I mean...it's ADORABLE. The cover is about to come off, it's so tattered. I recently discovered an expanded version of that rosary booklet, and I now keep that tucked into my purse, I love it. I don't always use it when I pray the rosary, because you know, driving. ;-) But if I'm at Adoration, it's ideal. That little blue book has always been my favorite if I do use an aid as I pray. I like seeing it in my purse when I reach in there for something, along with a Divine Mercy pamphlet that I keep in there as well.

What are your holy reminders this Lent? Do share in the comments. :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Worship committee assignments & Divine Mercy excitement on Laetare Sunday...

For a Monday morning, I'm in a really good mood. Most of it relates to Catholic stuff, which I'll get to in a moment, but I'll admit that part of it is the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and the beer Mike and I will be consuming Friday afternoon. :0 Every year, Mike hosts a March Madness pool, which is great fun though we don't watch basketball the remainder of the year. So I'm always a good sport and fill out a bracket. ;-) And this year, for the first time in the history of the Tournament, the University at Buffalo Bulls are making an appearance! They won the MAC, which is an automatic bid, and they're seeded 12th, slated to play West Virginia Friday at 2 pm. I'm taking the afternoon off, and much beer consumption and revelry will ensue. Looking forward. It's just a nice little pick-me-up for the spring.

But yesterday! So lovely. Laetare Sunday, halfway through Lent! No rose vestments at our parish this year, sadly. We do have a new priest, but I assumed vestments stayed with a parish, though perhaps I am wrong about that. Our previous priest had rose vestments that he wore on Gaudate and Laetare Sunday each year. Our new priest was wearing violet yesterday, which is the main liturgical color for Lent and the other option for Laetare Sunday in the absence of rose. Mass was absolutely beautiful, and when the kids and I went back to the sacristy afterward we saw Palm Sunday paraphernalia piling up back there. Oh!

SO EXCITED.

But back to the sacristy. There was a reason I was in there. Fr. Joe made an announcement about the Worship Committee and the upcoming first meeting. He asked those who had expressed an interest in volunteering to pick up a Sourcebook after Mass. Being the Type A eager beaver that I am, I discreetly stalked him after the closing hymn as the kids and I chatted with some of our new friends from the parish. When he paused near us to talk to the head of the music ministry about upcoming liturgies, I sensed my opportunity to pounce. As soon as he was done, he turned and found my smiling face. :0

He was pleased by my interest and went right back to get my book for me. A liturgy book, homework, I LOVE THIS STUFF!! The meeting is next week and I couldn't be more nerdily pleased.

In other exciting news, Pope Francis announced on Friday an upcoming extraordinary Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy. I live for this stuff, people. Holy Doors being opened, special THEMES, I mean. :0 This special year will begin on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, and run through the feast of Christ the King in late November, 2016. I was so happy to read about this, since I have a devotion to St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. And with Divine Mercy Sunday quickly approaching, I had ordered a corresponding rosary to pray the novena with, since that starts each year on Good Friday. I mean, could the timing be more perfect? It arrived Saturday. Da da DA!

Rosaries by Allison

I'm dying to pray with it, but am saving it for the Divine Mercy novena. Which I'll post more about as Holy Week draws closer, so consider joining in! Lots to look forward to, to be sure.

How was your Laetare Sunday, dear reader?

Friday, March 13, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 73} Things that show the approach of spring, edition...

We are really thinking SPRING around here, people!! It's been around 40 degrees each day this week, and we've seen significant reduction in the snow pack. We can finally back out of the driveway without risking our lives!

#booyah!

So what are 7 things ruminating in my little head this pre-spring Friday?

-1- Laetare Sunday!

The 4th Sunday of Lent means that we are officially halfway through, and it is Laetare Sunday (rose vestments!) which I wrote about last year in the Catholic Nook.

Easter feels *closeish* now, yes? Just two weeks and it'll be Holy Week! I am beyond excited.

-2- Fun spring feast days

We all know that St. Patrick's day is coming on March 17th, but the feast of St. Joseph is March 19th along with his traditional St. Joseph's Table. This tradition is big around here in WNY, and Henry's class is having one. We're all pitching in food items, so the kids and I are slated to bake some cookies next week to send in on the feast day. The class will have a spread of fruit and pastries, and are welcomed to bring in saint statues to add to the classroom altar for the day. I knew that I loved his school.

-3- My baby! *sniffle*

Although this is still a few months off, spring makes me think ahead to Anne's birthday in May.

"I want an Elsa cake!"

See, I'm not the only one thinking about Anne's birthday. :0 She's going to be 4, as unfathomable as that is. Remembering back to this time in 2011, I loved being pregnant in the spring. I noticed the other little baby animals being born, and felt a kinship. :) In fact, I seem to remember some birds' nests in unwanted places near our house, as if they sensed a sympathetic breeding female nearby... Naturally, we let them stay, I wouldn't have it any other way. ;-)

-4- A very exciting shoe order

I'm not really what you would call a "shoe person." Shoes are mostly functional to me, although I do like them to be cute. But I don't buy them all that often, just when a current pair needs replacing. With the weather finally thawing, I thought it was the right time to look for open toe summer shoes and sandals for Anne and I, since ours from last year either don't fit (in her case) or were thrown out due to ugly wear marks (mine). One pair of sandals, and one pair of dressier open toes, for each of us, now on their way to us! I'm very excited about this, because I do have a few trips planned this summer, and I will definitely need the shoes for those, such as...

-5- I have CNMC reservations!

It's official! I am registered for the Catholic New Media Conference in Atlanta on June 7th, and I have flight and hotel reservations. I.am.so.EXCITED. :0 I know of a group of people also going from Twitter, but if you're reading this and you're going (and I haven't chatted with you on Twitter) please comment to let me know! I'll be there Saturday around noon until Monday morning, so let's plan lots of socializing time. :)

-6- Dance performance gigs are lining up

The spring and summer is our busy time in my dance troupe, and I'm looking forward to getting back into performing. We're having a hafla on May 2nd (working on a solo now *bites nails*) and we have several festivals in July and August that we're now booked at. Super, duper FUN. I adore those girls. We've been working on revamping the tray/wings number, the new (and distressingly complicated) veil choreography, finishing the Shaabi piece, and keeping the newer drum solo in our repertoire. Lots to remember, right there. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

-7- March book club coming up!

This March, I'm reading Trusting God With St. Therese by Connie Rossini:

I started it this week, and I am *really* impressed. Sometimes nonfiction is too dry for me, but not this book. I love it's structure, very personal, with stories from the lives of both the author and St. Therese. If you're reading along, I'd love to hear your thoughts! We'll be discussing this book on Wednesday March 25th.

All right everyone, have a beautiful weekend! With Mike's play all wrapped up, I'm looking forward to having the entire family home and all to myself all weekend long. :) Talk to you on Monday! And don't forget to head to This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In the home of the Catholic Librarian at 4 am...

*blissful blackness*

"Mommy!" *loud crying*

Huh, that's weird. Apparently I'm having a dream, and there is a crying child in it. Oh wait. That's not a dream, that's my life.

*Mike mumbles in his sleep and rolls over*

Looks like I'm getting up.

I stumble out of bed and into Anne's room.

"Hi Honey, what's wrong?"

"Mommy, can you stay in here for a very long time?"

*saucer eyes*

"Well Sweetheart, we really should all be sleeping. Is something wrong?"

"No, I just want you to read me a book."

"Wellllll, why don't we just go back to sleep, Sweetheart? It'll be time to get up in just a few hours, and then we can have our bowl of cereal together. Won't that be nice?"

My answer is a dubious expression.

"Mommy, can you bring me something from your room to hold?"

Her bed already has more dolls and stuffed animals in it than it can comfortably accommodate, but this bothers her not one bit.

"Do you want me to bring Tennis Baby back to you?"

She had loaned me "Tennis Baby" (not sure how the doll received this name, exactly) to care for overnight while she slumbered with her larger doll, Bernadette.

"Ok. Wait. No, it's all right, Mommy. I'll be all right here with Bernadette."

*curls up on her side*

Awwwwwwwww. I re-covered her and rubbed her back for a minute before swooping in for lots of kisses and heading back to my own bed. SO.SWEET. It made me think back to when she was a newborn and not nearly so reasonable to deal with in the middle of the night. :0 I went back to sleep pretty quickly too, so all was well. I love precious moments such as these.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nearly halfway though Lent? We need to discuss Easter basket ideas :)

With the more seasonal air around here (our driveway is showing PAVEMENT, this is *epic*) and the 4th Sunday of Lent approaching, my thoughts have turned to Easter baskets for the kids. I absolutely adore Easter crafts. I do this every year. I start buying all sorts of pastel-hued yarn and ribbon, and crocheting eggs, and all sorts of kooky stuff. And I truly love assembling Easter baskets. The colors and the season just speak to me.

Of course, I buy Easter chocolate. That is a non-negotiable. :) Henry sells it from a local chocolate company as a fundraiser for his school, so we always buy a bunch from there and I use it for their baskets. I also like to craft things, like I mentioned. I've crocheted animals for both kids in the past at Easter, like this chick I made for Anne two years ago:

Pattern is "Cute Chick" by Teri Crews, and is available for free!
This year, she has asked for a penguin. Not exactly a seasonal animal in this part of the world, but hey. Penguins are cute. And she asked for one, so that's what I'm making. She picked out this pattern of a baby Emperor penguin:

Cute, yes? His name is Waddles. :0 This pattern is from a really cute amigurumi collection called Crocheted Softies: 18 Adorable Animals From Around the World:


Doesn't that moose just slay you?! His name is Maple, and I simply *must* make him for myself. But at any rate, one penguin coming up. Also on Anne's list is a pair of shoes from the Payless Frozen collection, she caught a glimpse of an ad they sent yesterday. She's got her eye on the blue slip ons:

Planning an order for later today, since I need summer sandals anyway (hope springs eternal...).

For both kids, I'll get them a book or two, and for Henry a movie, since he's a huge fan of those. He loved Paddington this year, but I don't believe that will be out on DVD prior to Easter, so I'll have to come up with another idea. Henry also loves board games, so one of those is on his list. Some fun Amazon shopping coming my way.

For the crafty ones out there, I have a few other pattern ideas. I knit this lamb for a friend a few years ago:


His name is "Mittens" and this is also a free pattern by Barbara Prime. One of my very favorite knitting pattern books for this time of year is Easter Knits by Arne & Carlos:


Knit Picks has this book packaged as a kit right now with some sport weight yarn in Easter colors, so if you're tempted by such things (welcome to the club! ;-)) go check that out. 

For crocheters, Teri Crews is my very favorite designer of toys, and she has an adorable "Huggable Bunny" pattern for sale. Although I have purchased the pattern, I haven't had a chance to make the bunny yet, but this is the sample:


She also has this available in lovey/blankie form for an infant, so adorable!

So what are your ideas?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A new electronic member of the family...

After an obsessive two days of tracking, my new Kindle arrived on Saturday, and I've been dying to review him on here. I've christened him "Patrick." ;-) That's Mike's middle name, it's just sentimental and cute for me. But let's start with a little history, shall we? Settle in with your tea or coffee...

My very first foray into an e-ink reader was in March 2012, with the 4th Generation Kindle, the model with the small 5-way controller at the bottom:

I loved her from the first moment. :) I assumed that maybe I'd read 50/50 ebooks vs. traditional print books, but I was wrong. Very quickly, I was reading about 90% on my Kindle. It is incredibly convenient - no paperbacks taking over my bookcase that I'm unlikely to reread, so easy to hold and read in bed or while eating, no worries about procuring new books since I just snap them up when they're heavily discounted (which happens a LOT with Kindle books), complete instant gratification, and when you travel, you just bring one device rather than multiple books. This Kindle always worked great for me and is one of my top purchases of all time. Love it.

Since Christmas, I'd noticed that occasionally the device wouldn't turn off, and I'd have to do a hard restart to get everything working again. That always worked, but it was a sign to me that this beloved Kindle was showing her age a bit. Plus, the newer models all have touchscreens, and I have to admit, the 5-way controller is a pain in the backside. It was fine when that was the only option, but now? Better options available for the same price.

So, I started looking. The newest basic Kindle went on sale (regular price is $79), and the rest is history. :0 $59?! I swooped in. New Kindle now in my hot little hands, my older model currently residing with Henry. So here we have Patrick:

Notice how I already have collections set up on him (Catholic Fiction, Amish Fiction, Suspense, etc. Total librarian nerd over here, unashamedly), and the touchscreen is a breeze. Everything is SO much easier on this device in comparison to what I was used to. Set up was a breeze, downloading all of the unread books from my cloud a total dream. Although, can I say how humbling it was to realize that I had 86 unread ebooks waiting for me? :0 Need to read what I have for a time, that's for sure.

I got the home screen set up the way I like with all of my book collections, and lovingly got Patrick settled into his case:

ADORE. It automatically puts the device to sleep and wakes it up just by closing/opening the cover, no need to ever touch the power button. Brilliant. The device itself does feel, I don't want to say "cheap," but this is clearly the low end model. It's a little blocky, has a clear plastic feel, but for the price? Can't beat it.  It feels sturdy, and it does what it does very well. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive e-reader.

One thing that this model lacks is a light. For that, you need the middle model Kindle Paperwhite. From the reviews I watched (very enjoyable lunch hour spent on YouTube right there) the software on the Paperwhite and this basic model are identical. But the Paperwhite is made of more rounded, smoother material, and has a built in, adjustable light so that you can read in the dark. I believe there are also some hardware differences, and the resolution is crisper on the Paperwhite. I'm thinking of a Paperwhite for Henry for Christmas, since he has been asking for more light to read by in his room. But for me, the basic model is perfect.

I've been happily reading with Patrick since Saturday night and couldn't be more pleased. I have no desire to read on my phone or on a tablet in terms of books. I absolutely adore the e-ink devices as a standalone for pure reading enjoyment. Anybody else have one and want to give us your device's story? :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring thaw (!) and loving my parish, on the 3rd Sunday of Lent...

Morning all, and can I just say THE SUN IS OUT!! I may have Anne dress up like the sun this week to herald it's return to our lives, that's how major this is. The air is decidedly non-arctic all of a sudden, and the temperature is staying *just* above freezing. This week it will actually get up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is good, because we don't want the snow and ice to melt to quickly and cause flooding. So...BOOYAH! This is exciting. Our driveway is slowly losing it's power to kill us, and the streets are widening. Life is grand.

I had a really, really nice weekend, let's see...Friday I had dance rehearsal, and we suddenly we realized that it's March. Not like this is a huge shock or anything, but we've been frozen into place at the studio for the past month, and we're finally snapping out of it since our spring hafla is less than two months away. We've begun rehearsing ALL of our choreographies again, not just the new one, which certainly keeps things interesting.

Saturday, we had a surprise party at the studio for Claire, who had a milestone birthday. *Extremely* fun! She was genuinely surprised, we fooled her well and good. :) I was doing the math on Saturday, and I've been learning Middle Eastern dance with Claire now for just over 7 years. She is so much more than just my dance instructor - she's a beloved friend, and I appreciate her more than I can express. Her classes have enriched my life so abundantly. It was splendid that we could all get together to show her how much she means to all of us. Her daughters found zebra print balloons and lanterns to decorate the studio with, which just really fit her personality :) and a great time was had by all.

Also happening this weekend were more performances of The Mousetrap for Mike. This was the second and final weekend of shows, and I attended the cast party with him yesterday. I find my husband so incredibly adorable in his actor role. :) He is SO talented, and I absolutely love seeing him find his creative niche. He is definitely well-regarded within the theater group, and is already being sought after to audition for upcoming shows in the fall and next year. I loved being his date at the party yesterday. ;-)

So, fun abounded. Of course, the kids and I also went to our very favorite 10 am Mass yesterday, made more of a challenge this weekend due to Daylight Saving Time. It certainly would have helped if I had gone to bed earlier, but I *didn't*, so it's nobody's fault but my own. Thus, I was somewhat rushed Sunday morning and blearily got the kids ready. The worst part of the morning Mass routine is actually getting them bundled and into the car:

"STOP DOING THAT! MOM! Henry threw my coat!"

"NO I didn't! I just...*put* it next to her."

"Stop it HENRY! MOM! Henry pulled my hair!"

"I didn't do anything!! I mean it, I didn't do anything!!"

Let's all heave a long suffering sigh together, shall we?

But once we got to the church, everything was fine. Anne was so preoccupied with the actual Mass that there was no bathroom request for the second time in recent history *does dance* and Henry had a halo perched upon his head the entire time. Suddenly, we're nearly halfway through Lent! I am *super* excited for Holy Week this year, I'll talk about that more as it approaches. But I finally did take a step to try and be more involved in my parish by calling to volunteer for the new Worship Committee our priest is trying to assemble. I haven't gotten a call back yet with any information, and I feel like I'm waiting for a date that I like to call to ask me to go out again:

"It's been 5 days. Is that too long? Did I misread the situation?!"

So hopefully I'll hear something soon, because I'm really excited by this prospect. :)

How was your weekend, dear reader?

Friday, March 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 72} A Lenten update, and a new gadget! edition...


It's nearing the end of the second week of Lent already, holy smokes! Everything is happening so quickly. Hence, I thought I'd write about that a bit, and see how Lenten things are going with you. :) Plus there's a few other new tidbits going on with me right now, including an exciting electronics purchase! Do read on, dear ones!

-1- "Wait. Was that water dripping?!" *rampant paranoia*

As I mentioned earlier in the week, our Lent has been full of ice damming, roof leaks, and ceiling damage. The roofing company did come and remove ice from our roof yesterday, so we're hoping we're going to be all set for the thaw that is to come. Of course, we're also worried about our basement flooding, but one can only worry about so many things, yes? I'm dying for the snow to melt, but at the same time, whenever I hear water dripping I panic, thinking it's bad, insidious water, out to destroy our home. Doing my best not to fret. ;-)

-2- Daily rosary, going pretty well, mostly because of the sheer volume of rosaries that I own...

One of my Lenten goals was to pray a full rosary each day, and so far that's going really well. My weak day seems to be Saturday. I pray in the car on my commute during the week, and on Sundays I squeeze it in on my way to and from Mass, and while I pray after Communion, but Saturdays slip my mind a lot. I do love praying the rosary though, and I like having the goal of getting through an entire set of mysteries before I fall asleep at night. This one is a win.

-3- That little Magnificat Lenten Companion? So adorable.

And the Lenten Companion? Could this thing be any cuter? I am really enjoying it this year, especially the daily prayers based upon the reflection, and the suggested penance each day. I'm not always able to follow through with the penances (usually for logistical/scheduling reasons) but every day they challenge me to think of small things I can do to grow in my faith. I have it by my bedside and read the day's selection upon waking each day. Fab.

-4- Fasting? Well, partial credit counts, right?

And here we get to the not so fabulous. :) At the start of Lent, I was doing *really* well, fasting from food between meals, especially a sweet after lunch, which is a huge source of joy for me. I tried giving that up, and it worked great. For a week.

Then this roofing crisis hit, and well... Having a piece of chocolate after lunch soothes my frayed nerves. :0 I'm trying to get back into it, but some days just go better than others. But I'm trying! And I'm very aware of why I'm trying to do this and the benefits it has. I'm taking that as a positive.

-5- Marian consecration delayed due to lapse in brain cells #adventuresinaging

As is so often the case an embarrassing amount of the time, I FORGOT. I was supposed to start the daily readings and prayers on February 20th, and right out of my mind that little thought flew. Instead of trying to play catch up, I decided to start on the next cycle, which falls during the Easter season this year. I thought that would be lovely, since I have other things I'm doing for Lent anyway. So, the new start date is Friday April 10th, with a consecration date of May 13th, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. If you'd like to join in, please let me know! It's always nice to know that someone is praying along with me. The book I use is 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Fr. Michael Gaitley (available both as a print and ebook):


-6- Fun Lenten reading

Being the Catholic librarian nerd that I am, I am of course reading a Lenten murder mystery. :0 That would be Up From the Grave: A Berdie Elliott Lenten Mystery, by Marilyn Leach:

I read the first book in the series, set during Advent, several months back, and then I discovered this one. I immediately downloaded it (only 99 cents, scoop it up!) and queued it up to read during Lent. The time is nigh! This is a lovely light read, set in an English village featuring a vicar and his mystery-solving wife. I just started, and it seems we're gearing up for a new church garden at the parish, and something mysterious is about to be discovered during the sod turning ceremony. Love. The third book is set during the feast of the Ascension, and is my book club selection for May!

-7- New Lenten device to read on! *heart*

My beloved Kindle, at several years old, is finally starting to act a bit glitchy. I just love her to pieces though, this was my very first ereader, and I will never forget her! She introduced me to the wonderful world of ebooks, and I can never go back. This Kindle is the old 5-way controller style. I never minded that, though it was a bit awkward to search for books in the Kindle store (to put it mildly). But I usually just purchase books from my computer or phone and simply send them to the device, easy peasy.

Well, earlier this year, when Kindle started refusing to turn off sometimes, and I'd have to do a hard restart, I thought I should keep my eye open for an upgrade. I'm not really interested in the very popular Kindle Paperwhite, because I don't need the back lighting. When I read in bed, I use my bedside lamp, which doesn't bother Mike's sleep at all. So when the basic Kindle model, now equipped with a handy touch screen and other improvements, went on sale this week, well. :)

My new Kindle is now on his way to me, and I am simmering with excitement. I keep tracking him and anticipating his arrival. It's this model here (cutie, yes?!), and like I mentioned, is on sale until tomorrow night for $59 (!) in honor of National Reading Month. If you end up getting one too, leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts. :) I'll review it here next week.

*beams*

Well, that's my Lent so far. How is yours going, dear reader? Do check in with us in the comments, and take a look at other 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Scenes from our perch in the igloo of America...

This morning, in the home of the Catholic Librarian...

"Honey, I'm so glad that you slept better last night."

You know, because he wasn't emptying bowls of water all night.

"Yeah, I did. I feel like a new person."

*beams*

"Did you come up with a plan for dinner?"

Oh. Right, I was supposed to do that.

"No, I forgot. But we have that chicken thawed in the refrigerator..."

Ugh. Please don't mention the word "thaw" to me right now, it's a sore subject. :0

"I know!" *feels proud of self*  "We can make that smothered chicken recipe, the one in the skillet with cheese and bell peppers? Do we have any bell peppers from the garden in the freezer?"

"I think so."

"Grand! We'll just need a side dish."

"Maybe I can come up with something. Do you have any ideas?"

"Something ricey."

"Ricey?"

"You know, not just *rice*, but something in the ricey family. You know, with beans, or chiles, or something funner than just rice."       

Funner. I make these things up as I go along.

"Ooooooo.K." *Mike makes amused eyebrow arch* "I'll have to see what's in the pantry, but I'll do my best. I have an exam to give today, so I'll be home early."

Which means he can start dinner. Win!

This is all assuming we can both make it up the Driveway of Death, but other than that, we're surviving quite nicely. ;-)  The ceiling has stopped leaking, that would also be a WIN. The roofing company is coming today to remove ice from that part of the house. Although that costs money, I'm still seeing it as a win. We're in for warmer temperatures this weekend and next week (and by "warmer," I mean 40 degrees Fahrenheit, heat wave baby!) so we should see significant reduction in the snow pack and I think we're all seriously ready for that. Can I hear an Amen?

All this, AND I'm thinking of upgrading my Kindle, which I am utterly excited about. Do any of you have a newer 7th generation Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite? Let's discuss. :)  I need something to brighten these winter days!        

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adventures in leaky roofs - part of my Lenten penance?!

As I was looking for labels to tag with this post, I came across "house disasters" and thought:

"PERFECT!"

We've been here before, to be sure. And look, I found that post all easy-like by using that label as a guide. ;-)

Uuuuuggggghhhh. But this problem isn't nearly so bad as others, so I can't complain. It's a stressor, to be sure, but a minor one in the grand scheme of things. Let's chronicle.

Last night Mike was at rehearsal, and I put both kids to bed. Just before 9, I was happily listening to a podcast while I crocheted. After about 10 minutes, I took my ear buds out so that I could turn on "19 Kids and Counting." I take a delightful sip of my drink.

Hark. What is that I hear? Sounds like water running. Henry and I had both taken showers, so I assumed that the shower head just wasn't completely turned off. I head to the bathroom, and it quickly becomes apparent that the water noise is not originating from the shower. A beat goes by. Oh. This is bad.

We had rain earlier in the day and the temperature finally above freezing for any stretch of time, and all of this after record ice accumulation and jamming in the region as a whole. Uh oh.

*cue the ominous music*

I follow the sound to our guest room/office. Water is not dripping. It is *pouring* from a few spots in the center of the ceiling down onto the area rug. I run for a receptacle and hustle it into place, along with a towel to mop up the water that already fell. Wait...

I hear more water. I look up.

*little creature bearing a forked tail and horns flies by*

There are no fewer than a dozen beads of water scattered in different places throughout the ceiling. It seems to me that they all glare at me, and then begin dripping simultaneously. As I dash for containers to catch the steadily increasing drips, it becomes apparent that they are breeding and multiplying at an alarming rate, and they aren't always close together. All the Tupperware in the WORLD isn't going to catch all of them. I find a big plastic sheet and some additional towels to handle spots that weren't dripping as rapidly and were the furthest away from their evil minion friends.

When I stopped to take a breath, I realized that the scattered nature of the water was a really, really bad sign. This means that water is pooled up above the ceiling and is just looking for any little crack in the plaster to work it's way through.

Around this time, Mike gets home. He takes one look at my face when I green him at the door and says: "What's wrong?"

"We have a crisis."

Now we both go into the guest room and he scares up some more containers to catch the water. He also has an idea of where the water must be coming in.

"I need to check the crawl space behind Anne's closet. We'll have to wake her."

Fabulous.

Into Anne's room we go, and Mike accesses the crawl space. Yep, rushing water, check. The space is so small he can't get a large container in there to catch everything, so he gets what he can in the area and empties it every few minutes. Meanwhile, Anne has woken up and thinks this is the funnest adventure EVER. She bounces around a lot, asking questions a mile a minute.

Ultimately, Mike gets the water collection system down to a science, which means he'll be up most of the night. :( I take Anne into our room to sleep. And predictably:

"Why did you bring my pillow and quilt in here, Mommy?"

"Because you're going to sleep in here with Mommy, won't that be fun?"

"NO."

"It'll be like a girls' slumber party!"

"NO."

It took quite a bit of convincing to get her to go to sleep, including letting her take over Mike's side of the bed.

"Are you going to turn the light off, Mommy?"

"Yes Honey, after I read for a few minutes."

*3 seconds elapse*

"Are you done yet, Mommy?"

*long suffering sigh*

Somewhere around midnight I'm awoken by Mike trying to clear ice off the roof, and tiny feet kicking, kicking, kicking!

"Mommy! What's that?!"

"My kidney."

"Oh."

*more kicking*

Oh right, this is what it's like to be pregnant. There are some things about it that I really don't miss.

When we awoke this morning, we found the guest room looking a bit more innocent:

The water had stopped leaking down, and apparently everything re-froze around 2 am and stopped coming into the house. Mike was able to sleep following that, after dealing with just one more issue involving a backed up gutter and water coming in via the front door. Oh sigh.

So, calls are in this morning to the roofing guys and the insurance company. We're not the only ones. Leaky roofs are rampant in WNY this winter. It's a bummer, but we'll get through this.

Conditions were treacherous this morning from the freezing rain, thus the driveway continued to build up evil intent against us, in a clear plan to just kill us and be done with it. Anne has been SUCH a good girl, praying for Mike when his car got stuck this morning trying to get Henry to school. So adorable. We're just taking things one step at a time and I've been pulling out my rosary quite a bit. I think springtime and Easter will be even more welcome than usual this year. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"No you may NOT drink the holy water!" - An evening with my Catholic children...

I was home with Anne yesterday, and sometime in the late morning I saw her setting up a station of some kind in the dining room. There were wooden cupcakes and pieces from her Melissa & Doug pizza set, a small box, an (unlit) tealight candle, and a few prayer books. When I asked her what it was, she said:

"A stable. Baby Jesus is in here, sshhhhhh Mommy! YOU DON'T WANT TO WAKE HIM UP."

*serious face*

Ah. Baby Jesus was sleeping, and apparently, like toddlers everywhere, he wishes to eat nothing but frosted cupcakes and pepperoni. She begged me for an actual baby Jesus to put "into the fresh straw" (the straw being the small box, she explained) so I allowed her to raid her packed away nativity set for baby Jesus. She was quite happy after that, and placed him adoringly atop her small purple box.

And I think all of this stemmed from our newly embarked upon venture into the Bible storybook that she received from her Godmother (my older sister) back at her baptism. I had tucked it away because it's not a board book, and I didn't want her to destroy the pages when she was smaller. But I came across it the other day and popped it onto her book shelf, since she is now very good with taking care of books. She discovered it literally minutes later ("Look Mommy, a new book!!") and we've been reading it before naps and bed. I have to say, I love this particular Bible storybook. If you're wondering, it is Catholic Bible Stories for Children, put out by Our Sunday Visitor press:


We've owned Bible story books that skip *the Crucifixion* and I'm certain it's because the publisher didn't want the material to be upsetting for children, but really. This book tells the whole story, tough parts in the Old and New Testaments alike, but does it in a gentle and understandable way for children. I give it a thumbs up.

At any rate, Anne really took to the story of the nativity, and hence the stable that now exists in our dining room. Later in the day, I had a spark of inspiration, and asked Anne if she wanted to wear a veil, like Mary. Well, as you can imagine, that went over pretty big:


I mean, did you ever? SO PRECIOUS. I figured all of this pious reenacting would make it a good night to do the house blessing that I keep forgetting to do. At first, Anne was more interested in her Frozen puzzle than in participating, but once she saw Henry wielding the holy water bottle, she quickly took notice:

"Ok, let's move into the living room. Henry, do you have...no! You are not supposed to DRINK the holy water!"

*Henry looks sheepish*

"Holy water?! I WANT TO SQUIRT THE HOLY WATER!"

So now we have little Mary on the scene, demanding to be a part of things, and I will say that she did not attempt to drink the water. She did, however, squirt out enough in small puddles in each room that our socks were wet for the rest of the night. You can't have everything, I suppose. :0 

How are you today, dear reader? :)