Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dance updates and happenings, and has spring abandoned us?

Happy mid-May everybody! Usually, by this time of year, spring has sprung, but not this year. Weather here in WNY (and I think this is somewhat prevalent throughout the east coast and midwest this year) has been on average 15 degrees below normal, and this is the most rain we've had in a number of years. It has been a bit of a downer, if I'm being honest. You all know that I don't mind winter the way many of my compatriots do, but even I'm sick of it at this point. I love having 4 distinct seasons, I just wish they would all stay in their assigned months, kwim?

Fall: September/October/November (granted, a transition month, we can all live with this)
Winter: December/January/February
Spring: March (another transition month)/April/May
Summer: June/July/August

Is that too much to ask? Instead, the past several years, it's 85 degrees until late October, and winter starts in late January and goes through April. White Christmas? Who ever heard of such a notion. White Easter is the new thing. 😬

I enjoy each of the seasons, but it seems like summer and winter have been overstaying their welcome, while fall and spring have become nearly nonexistent. Yes, even summer can last too long. I don't want to be sweating while we're picking pumpkins.

So, at any rate, there's been some seasonal affective sluggishness around here. The diocesan track meet that Henry is participating in has gotten moved due to rain (you know, AGAIN), and my friends with kids playing softball have gotten nary a practice or game in due to either rain or sloppy field conditions. Nobody can wear sandals with bare legs yet, and everybody seems to be walking around in a confused and dazed state. :-0

But we're getting there. The kids' school year is winding down (they go until late June around here), and we're making summer plans. I've resumed dancing, following the calf injury I reported a few weeks ago. It's going well, the leg has continued to improve, but I'm very aware of the fact that it's not 100%, and it won't be, for probably 4-6 more weeks. I struggle with this, to be sure. I'm able to take my dance and Piyo classes (though I've skipped my Zumba dance fitness class for the past 2 weeks because I'm afraid all the twisting and hopping could potentially re-injure it), and I can pretty much do any movement I'd like now, but I have to be very careful. When I'm practicing everything is generally great, but attempting a full out rehearsal for the project I'm working on, with performance level energy, resulted in my leg reminding me that it's not 100% yet, which got me down a bit. I applied some ice last night, and am going to take it easy for a few days. I've been stretching daily, and using my foam roller on it, and I know that this is all I can do aside wait for the full 6 weeks for it to heal. I'm hating it. :(

But it's a reminder that we are not in control of everything, and that sometimes we have to be patient. This patience can even result in new opportunities, but it's so hard to let go. Today, I'm going to work on my upper body from a seated position, and this is an excellent little secret tip for dancers: When you're not thinking about what your legs and feet need to be doing, it's amazing how much you can train your torso, upper chest, hands, arms and face to do that you wouldn't ordinarily focus on. And I rarely take the time to do this, so this is the perfect opportunity to rest my leg and do it. It isn't easy to not be able to do everything that I want to, physically, but I'm doing my best to make the most of it.

So that's how it's going over here. How is spring in your part of the world? Donna, how is that snake bite coming along?! 😬

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Catholic Librarian family update :)

Hello all, and I hope that your May is starting off well! It certainly is over here, though we are quite busy, but in the best possible way. Life is full and good. :)

Mike is in a community theater production of "Dial M for Murder" this month, and so with his rehearsals in the evenings, plus my dance classes and events, plus kid activities...it's been busy! But as I've always told the kids: everybody should have a hobby that they love and are passionate about. Ideally, one should balance a single commitment-heavy hobby at a time, because otherwise family dinners go by the wayside and a person can hardly catch their breath for the crazy evenings. But all of us (especially this introverted family!) having one hobby that we love is a good, good thing.

Our big star of late has been Henry ;-) who had his moving up day at school and is in full-on high school prep mode. HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?! Everybody tells you that this will happen, that the years when your kids are growing up will fly by in the blink of an eye, but you do not believe them until it actually happens to you.

😭

Henry has been much more into sports this year, and we're very proud of the effort and patient dedication he has been putting into practicing and playing. In the fall, he played on the school basketball team, which is definitely his favorite sport. Once basketball season wrapped up, he expressed interest in playing volleyball (this is my most hated sport from school gym nightmares of old :0, but I have to say that the games are very fun to watch!) and has been doing that for about a month now.

Next year, he will be going to a Catholic boys high school that is within walking distance of our house, and he is SO excited about it. We are very excited for him, although not for our checkbook, eeks! :0 But I do think that the school will be a good fit for him, and that he will thrive there. Happily, most of his friends are going there as well. He has physically grown in an *exponential* fashion this school year. I will create a little collage of his first day/last day of school picture, the difference is that distinctive!

As for our little Anne, she is wrapping up second grade. She got her ears pierced this spring, and is also looking more and more big kid-like. 😭She comes up to my chest now in terms of height. 😬 Anne is the most social member of our family. She's an introvert as well, but she easily enjoys socializing with her peers in a very non-awkward fashion that the rest of us envy quite a bit. :0 Her birthday is coming up, and she will be 8. My baby! She's participated in Girl Scouts this year, and has absolutely loved it. They had a horseback riding gathering this past weekend, and their end-of-year meeting is right around the corner. She wants to participate again next year, and I think she's making great friends, and learning heartwarming and useful new things. It's a keeper! She'll be in third grade next year, and will continue on at the Catholic K-8 school she and Henry have been at for many years now.

As the school year wraps up, Mike and I are in awe of where are kids are in terms of their growth, physically and emotionally. When you have kids, you tend to think of just the little years, and don't think ahead to when they start becoming independent young men and women. Henry has definitely started that phase, and it doesn't seem like that long until Anne will approaching that same point anymore. It's emotional, for sure.

At Henry's moving up dinner, a number of parents put together a tribute to one of the school administrators, who started at our school the year that this current graduating 8th grade class was in Pre-K. Henry wasn't there until first grade, but I found the entire thing very touching. By the time it was over, there weren't too many dry eyes out in the audience. When the kids are little, it's a bit exhausting, because their physical needs are so vast, and they have zero emotional maturity, which makes for quite a loud and chaotic experience for a number of years. And it seems like those days, when you're going through them, will never end. But then they do, and you find a whole host of new things to worry about, and then suddenly WHAM! They're a budding small adult person, and you're like "what the heck happened here?!" I quite literally can't believe it. And I hope we're doing a good job, because there is a lot at stake. I may start to cry again.

😭

It's a time of a lot of transitions in our family, due to the kids growing and becoming interested in new things and experiences. We're hanging in there, but I'm weeping buckets of tears along the way.

So.many.tears.

What is going on with you this May? How do you handle big transitions with kids, or in other arenas of your life? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A spiritual take on performing and making ourselves vulnerable...

It's hard to believe that Lent is over, and we're all settling into the Easter season already. I've been so focused on Lenten reading and other Holy Week related stuff on here, that I haven't talked about lifey things in quite a while, and that's what is inspiring me this week. So settle in for our wine time. :)


I've been dancing a LOT lately. As in, way more than I ever have before. I'm not performing any more than usual, that has remained about the same, but I'm working on my dancing a lot more on my own and through additional training with my 2 fabulous instructors. Dancing is the hobby I'm most passionate about, and life is short, you know? :-) I've actually been working on my own choreography for something, which is *very* rare for me, as I'm an improvisational dancer. But it's for a special project, more details to come as events unfold. ;-) I've been working on that since January, and also working on improving technique, and I have found myself practicing for a short bit every single day. I've also been watching videos while I eat lunch at work of dancers that I admire, and they have been inspiring me to keep working at what I love to do. It all started rather quietly, but I have come to treasure my daily dance fix.

This brings us up to this past weekend, which included our twice annual studio show. I was dancing with my troupe as well as dancing solo, and so in the week leading up, I broke off from practicing the other choreography I had been working on and devoted the time to the group dances and getting to know the music that I would be soloing to, as I would be improvising. My secret is that I film myself a lot when I practice (I have grown in clinical detachment over the months, and this does not make me cringe anymore :0) and thus work to eliminate any funky things I may be unknowingly doing with my arms, hands or face. Awkward transitions and their ilk are removed with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, I take this all very seriously. ;-)

And so I was all ready on Sunday afternoon for the show. I had 2 group pieces in the first set, those went great. Then I had my solo and a group number in the second set, and one final group dance in the third and final set.

I sailed out for my solo to music that I absolutely LOVE, was dancing my heart out, and everything was going grand. Until about 3/4 of the way through the song when I did something that caused an immediate, and sickeningly familiar, pain in my left leg: I had strained my calf muscle, right then and there, and this is a frustrating injury that I have been struggling with for years now. I did my best to keep my face from showing it, and kept dancing, because you all know me by now, and thus know that I don't give up on things very easily. :0 Luckily, the song was almost over, and while I had been debating doing a fast turn sequence at the end, the decision was made for me that there would be the MUCH MORE SUBDUED TURN SEQUENCE put into play instead. I was pleased with how the piece went, but I was worried about my leg, because I had a group number to perform next with just a single dance during which to change, and then in the third set a Saidi piece, which is an Egyptian folkloric dance with lots of hopping.

Hopping 😭

I changed my costume quick like a bunny and headed out for the next dance, trying not to limp. I made it, but there were lots of painful twinges while I danced, letting me know that all was not well in Left Calf Land.

Then I had to dress and prepare for the Saidi. Remember the hopping?

Hopping 😭

This time I chose the route of mental and emotional denial preparation, as I had much more time before that number was up in the queue:

Me: "All right Leg, the Saidi is up! You're strong and you feel fine. We're doing this!"

Leg: "You're not very bright are you?"

😳

It was the last piece of the show, and I was determined that I would dance it. And I did, hopping and all. Thankfully, the worst of the hopping was on the right leg, but the left still had a cross to bear.

When the show ended and I had made it through despite the injury, I felt relieved and happy. Everything had gone beautifully. I figured that I would rest it up for the remainder of the day, take a nice hot shower, and lay on the couch a lot with it elevated. Based on previous experience, I knew that it would take about 6 weeks to fully heal, but I would likely feel mostly back to normal in 1-2 weeks if I took it easy. Well.

I woke up Monday morning and I COULD NOT WALK.

😭😭😭

I stupidly had not applied any ice to it on Sunday, and after sleeping on it, it tightened up like nobody's business. I could put zero weight on my left leg, and I didn't take it so well. In tears, I consulted Dr. Google, and got my ice pack out. I stayed home from work (because there was no way I could even make it from the parking lot into the library), parked my butt on the couch, and applied ice for 20-30 minutes every hour. By the second application, I could already feel a difference. Although it wasn't pretty, I could use my left leg again. I did that all day long until the evening, when I applied heat to relax it a bit.

Tuesday morning it was still sore, but a lot better. I applied more ice in the morning, and went into work. As of today, Thursday, I'm walking completely normally and only have minimal soreness when I first wake up. I'm well on my way back to my happy dance routine, but this taught me an important lesson, and not just about the importance of ice application to inflamed tissue. :0

Sometimes we take things for granted, and we should not. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience joy, and never forget that it could be gone tomorrow. Depressing in a sense, but also very freeing. Everything that we have God gifted us with. We obviously have to also work hard to hone the gifts that He gives us, but we should not take for granted that they will always be there. They won't. As my dance teacher always says to encourage us before we perform: "What are you saving it for? Give everything you have, right in this moment!" I suppose that's how I injured my calf to begin with right in the middle of a performance :0 and it actually makes me happy to think of it this way: that it happened because I was truly giving everything of myself in that moment, and in that performance. It's a whole new perspective on performing, putting yourself out there, and making yourself vulnerable in front of others, I think.

I knew how meaningful dance is to me, but having it taken away from me this week has given me a new appreciation for how much it forms my happiness and identity. I hope to always be able to do what I love, but it's possible that at some point I may not be able to anymore. In the meantime, I'm going to give it everything that I have, and not take it for granted. I'm also going to adopt a regular calf stretching regime, especially before I perform, eek!

What brings you joy in your life that don't want to ever take for granted? :) Feel free to chat with me, and the community, in the comments!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An Easter full of blessings...

My mini-me!
Happy Easter everyone!

🐇

I had my usual exciting Triduum plans this year, with my children along for the ride, and thought I would report in on that! 😃

So, Holy Thursday and Good Friday came round and...neither child wanted to come with me. 😂 I wasn't exactly surprised, and it *is* a lot of church in a 3 day period, so I didn't twist their arms. So I attended those liturgies by myself, and as ever, they are SO WORTH the trip. Holy Thursday is the one that is newest to my repertoire, and it has quickly become a favorite. This year, our pastor created an altar of repose in our new parish center, and we all processed in there at the conclusion of the liturgy behind the Blessed Sacrament. SO LOVELY. And hearing the bells rung during the Gloria, the first time we've heard either since Lent began, never fails to touch me. This liturgy also had very good attendance for our smaller parish!

Good Friday packs a wallop for me every single year. Our parish always holds a 3 pm scripture service with communion, and attending this has become my tradition. The bare altar and absence of the Eucharist makes quite an impression, to be sure. The veneration of the cross makes me tear up every time. And then came the Easter vigil.

Happily, for this liturgy I had 2 captives with me. ;-) Henry volunteered to serve at this mass, and Anne attended for the very first time. I let her bring some coloring along because I knew we would be there for awhile, especially since we had to arrive early in order for Henry to help set up. And it went marvelously.

I find the beginning of this liturgy, the Lucernarium, to be most poignant. After Father started and blessed the fire, and the church became totally dark...I could tell Anne was hooked. She even asked if she could volunteer to serve at this mass when she's old enough to be an altar server! As everyone lit their taper candle and the Exultet was sung, I marveled at this, my favorite liturgical moment of the entire year. I always cry, even I don't know anybody who is entering the Church that year! The darkness, the chanting, the palpable sense of communion with the global Church...it's just magnificent. Anne loved it so much that she didn't want to blow out her candle when it was time for the readings. 😂 She did GREAT. Stayed awake and alert for the duration, though granted our Easter vigil is shorter than most. We didn't have anybody receiving the sacraments this year, plus our pastor chooses less than the 7 possible Old Testament readings, so our mass was just over 90 minutes. The contemporary ensemble did an amazing job with the responsorial Psalms, and the great Alleluia was particularly spectacular.

It's a special liturgy, and I would never miss it. Easter Sunday was relaxing and lovely, and concluded with a delicious family dinner and great fellowship and conversation. Life just doesn't get any better than this. 😊

How was your Easter weekend, friends?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week musings...

"Easter Vigil Mass" by Prayitno licensed under CC by 2.0
Every Holy Week is different, just as every Lent is unique from one to the next. Last year Lent was quite terrible for me, by which I mean it was full of sadness and pain. I suppose that could be looked at as a good Lent. ;-) I have also had Lents that don't feel like Lent at all, that fly by to Easter with only fish fry on Fridays to mark that the season is different in any way. I have had spiritually dry Lents that eek themselves out, I have had confusing Lents, and I have had Lents that bring a lot of spiritual consolation and clarity. This Lent has felt like it has righted my path, like I have found a piece of myself that that I have been looking for since last year. It's a good feeling.

I have to admit, though, that the fire on Monday of this Holy Week at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris really shook me up. I have no connection to France: I have never been there, nor did I study French in school (I'm a Spanish gal ;-)). I don't anticipate that I'll ever travel there, to be honest. But I feel a connection to all houses of worship that are a part of our global Church. These places house the body of Christ, both literally and figuratively, in the Eucharist and in the community that worships there. This particular cathedral also housed relics that physically connect us to our brothers and sisters in the faith who have gone before us into the great cloud of witnesses, as well as beautiful and historic works of art that raise our hearts and minds to the Almighty. These things cannot be replaced.

And so since Monday afternoon, I have been riveted to the news awaiting new word of what was happening. The timing seemed surreal, that a devastating fire in a church with this magnitude of historical significance would occur during Holy Week. It occurred to me that something good would come out of this, but the initial scene was excruciating to behold. I have been heartened by the news of the stricken crowd praying and singing together, honoring their Lady of France. And although the damage will obviously take many, many years to fully repair, the fact that the structure, and a least a majority of the relics and artwork, survived the blaze is nothing short of remarkable.

I think that God is speaking to us this Holy Week, and that there are people deeply feeling the message this year who may not normally be paying attention to the ebbs and flows of the liturgical calendar. I really feel God's hand over us this year, and that everything will be all right.

I wish you all a very blessed and beautiful Triduum, and Easter morning. May the joy of Easter follow us through the rest of this year and beyond! *heart* I will be attending the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, my parish's Good Friday service at 3 pm on that holy day, and the Easter vigil Mass with both of my kids for the very first time this year. I'm really looking forward to it, and I feel humbled by all of my blessings this year. God bless you all, and talk to you next week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Final push for Easter basket preparations!

As we head towards Holy Week, I am SO EXCITED for all of the upcoming liturgies! My CatholicMom piece for this month touches on this issue, and it has me all re-inspired and re-invigorated for the Triduum. 🤗

The other thing that gets on my mind at this time of the season is Easter baskets. I have always used Easter baskets as an opportunity for (in addition to the inevitable onslaught of chocolate) small, thoughtful gifts, often of a religious nature. That's getting harder with Henry, who is 13, and requested a new skin and screen protector for his Nintendo Switch for his Easter basket. 🙄 But I'll think of something!

Anne is still into cute Easter basket ideas (although, at nearly 8, I'm certain she's going to know that there's no way the Easter bunny came up with these ideas that sound *just like* the things she and mom like to look at together) and I thought I'd share them with you if you're still needing basket ideas with enough time for things to ship and arrive before Easter morning!

(1) Shining Light Dolls - I just love these things, AND they're having a sale from today through Friday April 12th. Use code EASTERJOY19 for 20% off your order! In addition to the dolls, they now have saint charms to clip onto bags or backpacks, Easter egg wraps, and flower seeds for your garden based on a Marian theme!

#forthewin

(2) Tiny Hands Food Jewelry - One of my favorite handmade sellers is Mei from Tiny Hands. She makes scented food necklaces and earrings, and they are DARLING! She has a scented chocolate bunny necklace that is PERFECT FOR EASTER. I ordered one for Anne! You need to get your order in by Saturday April 13th in order for it to arrive in time for Easter! I've tried her Necklace of the Month club in the past, and I absolutely loved it, I'm tempted to re-subscribe.

(3) Rosaries by Allison - My kids both love rosaries, and like their mom, never think that you can have too many. ;-) Allison is having a sale this month, 20% off, and her rosaries are perfect for Easter, First Communion OR Mother's Day! My current 2 favorites are the crystal copper cube bead rosary, and the light golden glow Holy Face rosary!

(4) Sweet Clementine Soaps - This is another favorite of mine in terms of homemade products, I order from her all the time. The Lush Succulent Soap Bar is perfect for Easter, and she had a bunny one that appears to be temporarily sold out. She always features seasonal scents, and makes bar soap, whipped soap, other bath and shower products, lotion, fragrance spray, lip balm, you name it. I ordered some soap for my kids, and a fragrance spray for Anne.

(5) Lenny the Lamb Scentsy Buddy - You all know how I am about Scentsy. ;-) And Lenny the Lamb is a perfect Easter basket addition if you're looking for a stuffed toy. He comes with a Scent Pak that you zip inside of him, in your choice of scent! I do have one tucked away for Anne. 😎

Those are my ideas! What do you usually do for Easter baskets! Any Easter morning traditions you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Holy Week prep edition...

As we near Holy Week, I was looking back through some old posts for ideas for my upcoming April piece for CatholicMom.com. I found a post that I had written just after I took Henry to an Easter vigil Mass for the very first time, the same year that he received his First Communion. It was so endearing, that I keep thinking about it, even several days later. I thought it would make a cute re-post as we inch closer to Holy Week 2019. And so here we have it, originally posted April 22, 2014...

__________________________


Hello all! I'm very glad to be back and blogging with you. It's kind of rainy and dreary here today, but Easter weekend was sublime. Let us chronicle...

*makes tea*

I had a super long day last Thursday, working the evening reference shift, and thus was extra thankful that I had taken Good Friday off. I got to sleep in and relax in the morning, and pray with my Magnificat magazine. Despite my resolution to pray Morning and Evening prayer for all of Lent, that hadn't gone very well :0 until Holy Week. Everything just really gelled for me Holy Week, and that continued during the Triduum. My Magnificat had absolutely fascinating details about all of the Triduum liturgies that I pored over. How could I have been a Catholic my whole life without knowing all of this *fantastic* information?!

Due to work, I missed the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, but I was rearing to go on Good Friday afternoon. I almost didn't make it to the Celebration of the Passion liturgy, held at 3 pm at my parish, because Anne had a bad nap wake up and pitched a fit that could be heard for miles before we left the house, but I persevered. She had thankfully calmed down by the time we arrived, and was an excellent girl for the entire service. The only thing is (a) we were a few minutes late due to aforementioned fit pitching, and (b) the instant our butts touch the pew, she announces that she has to go to the bathroom. But we made it, and so I'll take it.

The entire liturgy lasted just over an hour. During the veneration of the cross, Anne was wide eyed as she watched everyone take their turn going forward, from little kids to elderly people needing help walking up. I could tell that that made quite an impression on her. I plan to make the Good Friday service an absolute must attend event each year, WOW does it pack a wallop. From the reading of the Passion in St. John's gospel, to the bare altar & empty tabernacle, I leave in tears every time.

As soon as Anne and I were heading out to the car, I was thinking about completing the Triduum with the Easter Vigil. We usually attend Mass on Easter morning, I'd only been to the Easter vigil twice in my entire life. Once before I realized how different the liturgy was on that day from every other vigil of the year, and once in 2011 when one of my best friends was baptized and confirmed and I was her Godmother.

*beams*

That was a very special Easter, obviously. After a spiritually dry year so far this year, I was loving my fruitful Holy Week and felt very inspired for the vigil Mass. So I made plans. This involved:

(a) staying awake, since the vigil starts at 8 pm and I'm usually ready for bed by 9:30. *snorts*

and,

(b) talking Henry into going with me. I thought it would be a special thing given that his First Communion is coming up in two weeks.

"It involves FIRE, Hank! But it *is* longer, so you have to be patient."

"Longer?! I don't think so, Mommy."

"But...FIRE!"

Let's just say that I prevailed.

At 8 pm Saturday evening, Henry and I were sitting in the darkened church, craning our necks to see the fire getting started outside. As our deacon processed into the dark church with the lit Easter candle, intoning "Behold, the light of Christ!" I thought to myself how very grateful I am to be Catholic. Our faith is truly a treasure.

I was teary as Hank and I had our candles lit, feeling so thankful that God is always there, even in our spiritual darkness. When the lights were flipped on dramatically as the cantor sang the Easter Proclamation, I could tell Hank was impressed. This indeed was different than any Mass he had ever seen.

Following the Blessing of Fire and Procession of the Candle, we moved to the Liturgy of the Word. This is the tough part with the Easter Vigil. :) There are 7 readings at this liturgy, each with their own Psalm and prayer, and Henry's agonized face as he flipped through his missal said it all. If I have a missal with which to follow along, *I'm* fine with that many readings, but feeling Henry's misery oozing from every pore was raining on my Easter parade a bit.

Well, at the pastor's discretion, the initial 7 readings can be pared down, and our parish ended up reading 3 of those, plus then the Pauline epistle and the Gospel, so 5 readings in total rather than 9. I thought that was an excellent compromise, and it soothed Henry quite a bit to see the readings dwindling. 

Following the homily comes the third part of this Mass, which is the baptismal liturgy. Sublime! The litany of the saints, oh!

*ANGELS WERE LITERALLY SINGING*

It was so beautiful. We had 2 catechumens (receiving baptism, confirmation and Eucharist) and 2 candidates (receiving confirmation and Eucharist). One of the catechumens was a much older man, probably approaching 90 years old! I teared up during the baptisms, and then when the congregation renewed our own baptismal promises, it was just... Only when my good friend Irena was baptized, and when I got married, have I ever been that emotional at a Mass before. 

When we moved on to the final part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I could feel Hank relax. He knew exactly how long we now had to go, and so he was cool with that. I think he just likes to know what to expect, and we just didn't know exactly how long we would be there. In total, our Easter Vigil was just under 2 hours, to my mind, an ideal length. When I returned from receiving communion, he leaned over to remind me that there was only one more Mass to go before *he* could receive communion, which made me smile.

When we got home, it was just after 10 pm. Although he was impatient at the beginning of Mass, I thought Henry did a great job overall, and I'm so glad he came with me. Next year, my goal is the entire Triduum, I don't want to miss Holy Thursday again!

I'm still smiling, two days into the Easter Octave. He is truly risen! How was your Easter? Leave me a comment!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 Week 4 - Hope, love & Molly Weasley...

Happy third week of Lent, everybody, and welcome back to this year's installment of the Lenten Book Club! This year we are reading The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, and I hope you're enjoying the book as much as I am. :-)

Our 3 chapters this week focused on:


  1. Marital intimacy
  2. Living like Molly Weasley
  3. Hope in today's world
It's our last week for this book club, and I can hardly believe it! Let's dive in!

So the first of our three chapters for this week dealt with Natural Family Planning, openness to life and intimacy within marriage, and I have to admit I wasn't expecting this topic to be covered in this book, for whatever reason. It makes sense in terms of the book's overall theme of eschewing the throwaway culture, but I was thinking all of the chapters would concern relationships within society rather than personal relationships, does that even make sense, lol?! It totally fits, I was just surprised to happen upon it. This is a topic that I am well versed in, and first learned about in my young adult years (which was some time ago ;-)), so it's old hat to me, but I know for a lot of people this is a surprising realization about our Catholic faith. I think it's important to note, as Haley does, that this particular lifestyle does not necessarily translate to having a lot of children in your family, although sometimes it does. Being open to life looks different and has different results for every individual couple, it's the outlook and the practice that are the key. It's certainly something that can be a conversation starter if somebody finds this out about you, as I well know :0, and expressed in a knowledgeable and compassionate manner, can be a true tool of learning and love for all.

I'm sure you will not be surprised to learn that I loved the Molly Weasley chapter, hee! Since reading/watching the Harry Potter series a few years ago, I have felt close to the characters, and Ron's adorable family always struck me as Catholic. ;-) Well, it seems to me that all of the main characters embody Catholic values, the Weasleys are just easiest to pinpoint. I very much enjoyed Haley's discussion of Molly, the harried nature of her life with her big family and other responsibilities that she takes on in service to others, yet she always is so friendly. And her motto is to keep things simple - despite how much she has going on, she does not seek fancy solutions to everyday problems. I found this chapter very charming.

To wrap things up, Haley addresses hope. It's easy to get down about the dark things that happen in our world, and the attitudes that we see around us. But our faith has a foundation in hope of a new tomorrow, and we must cling to that. Everyday we can aim for joy in our vocations and in the situations that we find ourselves in. And when the challenging ones arise, we always have hope that God will bring out the good in everything.

What did you think of the final 3 chapters in the book?

This read-along just flew by, didn't it?! We still have several weeks left in Lent, and this gives us time to prepare for Holy Week and Easter. I'll be back next week with a lifey post, and in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 Week 3 - Hospitality, community and whether or not the Internet is our friend...

Happy second week of Lent, everybody, and welcome back to this year's installment of the Lenten Book Club! This year we are reading The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, and I hope you're enjoying the book as much as I am. :-)

Our 3 chapters this week focused on:


  1. Hospitality
  2. The importance of Community
  3. Internet - friend or foe?


I mentioned last week that a few of the chapters we're covering this week would be tougher ones for introverts to tackle. ;-) And it's true, right? Reaching out to people, TALKING to them, making conversation and invitations, is difficult when you are a bit socially awkward, as introverts are prone to be. But it's to our benefit, as well as the person we're reaching out to, for us to challenge ourselves in this way and go outside of our comfort zone.

I love how Haley mentions that we should not stress about having our house be perfectly clean before we'll have anybody over to share a meal or fellowship. I try very hard to follow this advice, because I longed for this approach so much when I was growing up. I completely understand the insecurity about the state of one's home prior to visitors, I truly do! But we miss out on so much enjoyable time with our family and friends if we let this hold us back. Have your friends over for tea, even if there are toys on the floor and the bathroom hasn't been cleaned!

Obviously, this ties right in to how much we need community around us, even if we are introverts. Haley makes an excellent point about how people don't sit out on their porches as much anymore, and it's funny because we DO do this, and it's for the exact reason she mentions - we do not have central air conditioning! Living where we do in WNY, we literally do not see our neighbors from after Halloween until May. And our neighbors are very nice! When Anne started going outside to play with their dog I fretted about her bothering them and then me having to go out there to make small talk. But you know what? It's great. We've had great conversations about Catholic high schools in the area and other neighborhood news. Last year, while we were out there talking, a woman and her grandson came walking along with him in his stroller, and he requested a stop to also pet the dog. She lives a few blocks over, and we had a *wonderful* conversation with her. She cared for her grandson quite a bit, and it was obvious that she was extremely happy to have found a bit of adult conversation and entertainment for both of them out in the fresh air. The kids were taking turns throwing the ball for the dog to fetch as I reflected on what a lovely and unexpected interlude this had been. This summer, I am resolving that we will continue to be more neighborly.

The Internet chapter was pretty much exactly as I expected, and it's information that I definitely needed to hear. Online community can be a beautiful thing, especially for people who are more housebound based on their state of life or physical needs. And it can be a beautiful source of friendship and fellowship for all of us. But it doesn't take the place of communicating with people who are right in front of you. We shouldn't become so absorbed into our screens that we neglect actual conversation and experiences in real time.

I got a lot out of these chapters. Next week, we're somehow already wrapping up our Lenten Book Club and discussing the final 3 chapters! Looks like we'll be addressing intimacy, living out the Gospel in our world, and choosing hope. I'll see you then, but in the meantime, leave your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Tale of Two Toothbrushes - a study in marital trust...

Last night in the home of the Catholic Librarian...

*brushes teeth*

*pops cute purple toothbrush back into holder. Notes that there are suddenly 2 identical blue toothbrushes also present*

*retreats back to bedroom*

"Honey, didn't you notice that you and Henry both picked the exact same blue toothbrush when you replaced yours recently?"

This toothbrush coloration issue has been vexing us for quite some time. When we're at the dentist every 6 months, she gives us each a free toothbrush. And for literally years, they have all been exactly alike and exactly the same color - blue. When I inquired about this once, she apologetically told me that she had called the company that provides the toothbrushes to ask about this very issue - didn't they make other colors anymore? Because if you live in a dwelling with at least one other person, you want to be able to distinguish between your brushes. And the company had replied something about trying to be more consistent in their color choice? This doesn't really make any sense to me when we're talking about toothbrushes? :-0 You don't want toothbrushes to be consistent, you want them to be different! And I realize that we should be supplementing the free toothbrush supply with toothbrushes that we buy in other colors, but we don't remember to do this all that often, and so it's a constant balancing act with assuring that everyone has a unique toothbrush from what is available in our supply cabinet at any one time. I had only gotten my purple one by begging the dentist to prowl through through the toothbrush drawer in a desperate hunt for something that wasn't blue.

Anyway, back to the quandary of Mike and Henry having identical toothbrushes.

"So one of you is going to have to put tape on yours or something."

"My toothbrush isn't blue. I've been using the same purple toothbrush for the past few months."

😱😱😱

I tried to keep the horror I was feeling out of my expression as I replied: "But MY toothbrush is purple. I've been using a purple toothbrush for the past few months. In fact, it's been such an amount of time that I was thinking it was time to replace it."

I look at him with my nostrils flared, and he looks back at me impassively. He doesn't seem nearly as bothered by this disturbing discovery as I am.

So here's the thing: obviously, I...SHARE THINGS with my husband. You know. THOSE THINGS. I also kiss him on the lips all the time. So why should using the same toothbrush as him be something that causes me to recoil in alarm? I don't know, but there you have it.

"Well, I don't know, but I've definitely been using a purple toothbrush since January. The two blue ones must be the kids'."

I worked to steady my breathing as I made my way back to the bathroom. I flicked on the light and braced myself to confirm the truth. There were the two blue brushes. There was my adorable dark purple number. And there...was a white toothbrush with a lavender stripe. The sigh of relief that I let out left me weak in the knees.

"Honey, we're good." I was breathless from my exciting revelation and jog back from the bathroom. "Your toothbrush is white and just has a light purple middle, whereas mine is all purple. We haven't been using the same one."

He looked confused as to how these both weren't just "purple," and also bemused that this had caused me so much stress.

We can go on being happily married once again. We are using separate toothbrushes. That was a close one.

:-0

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 Week 2 - Family dinners and the importance of beauty

Happy first full week of Lent, everybody, and welcome back to this year's installment of the Lenten Book Club! This year we are reading The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, and I hope you're enjoying the book as much as I am. :-)

Our 3 chapters this week focused on:


  1. Beauty
  2. Making home a priority
  3. Family dinners


I'm loving the gentle storytelling involved in this book. I feel so connected to the experiences Haley shares with us, and I'm so happy to feel a part of their journey. One of the topics she addresses this week is the importance of beauty in our life, and as someone who thrives in the performing arts, this is so special to me. I'm a very practical-minded person, but there is a very real need for all of us to have a measure of beautiful things to enrich our lives. On difficult and/or chaotic days, we can choose to focus on those things to bring our spirits back to peace. At times, prevailing opinion may cause us to feel guilty for seeking out beauty in our world, because these things "do not have a monetary value" to some. But the Church has never seen it this way, and neither should we. Beauty helps our minds to transcend the everyday routines and contemplate the divine. This adds to the strength of our faith and our relationships.

The latter two chapters are related, in my mind. And in a sense, it's related to beauty as well. We shouldn't be afraid to "waste time" with our kids, just hanging around the house and enjoying time together. This is crucial to the emotional and mental well-being of our children. We don't need to be productive in the monetary or task/cleaning-focused sense all of the time. There is value to down time, especially when it is spent with our family, developing and reinforcing the importance of those relationships. Meal times, of course, are a crucial part of this. Mike and I have always insisted on the four of us eating together, at the dinner table, with few exceptions. Occasionally, there is an evening where one person has another commitment out of the house, or we as a family decide to do something different and eat our pizza in the living room while watching the end of an important football game. The kids know that this is not the normal course of things, and so they see it as an adventure when we do this. It's not always easy, especially when your kids are often picky and don't want to eat very much of what we cook. This causes me more frustration than I'd like to admit. But we keep trying.  I dislike it when the dinner table becomes a battle zone: "you don't like this food EITHER?" But we haven't given up on family dinners, and we're certainly not going to do so now. That time to connect each day, and share with each other, is vital to staying attuned to each other as a family.

What did you think of these 3 chapters? Next week we're reading chapters 7-9, and we'll be looking at hospitality (introverts, gird your loins!), the importance of community, and the role of the internet in both of these things. Great fodder!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 Week 1 - Simplicity & turning away from the throwaway culture...

Happy beginning of Lent, everybody, and welcome to this year's installment of the Lenten Book Club! This year we are reading The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart. Let's dive in!

I was very excited to start this book this past weekend, and had a feeling that despite being nonfiction, it would flow very quickly. I was right! I devoured the Introduction and first three chapters in just a few days, which for me and my limited reading time these days, is very, very fast!

As we begin the book, we have the following themes:

An Introduction to the modern "everything is disposable" throwaway culture;

Chapter 1 on this family's dramatic back story, and how they left behind the security of being near extended family and a dependable desk job to chase their dream of farming, and have more family time together;

Chapter 2 on simplicity and winnowing down your physical possessions. What do you actually *need* rather than storing things that you think you want;

Chapter 3 on love of the land and ethical treatment of animals.

I was so captured by this story. I absolutely love memoirs and life stories that involve courageous choices from the norm of everyday routine. Routine is great, don't get me wrong, but every once in awhile you need to make bold choices when the timing is right, and it's just plain the right thing to do. And so I was completely taken in by Haley's story of her young marriage, and her being at home with 3 small children, homeschooling, and her husband trundling off each day to work long hours in front of a screen. None of them were satisfied with their lack of family time, or with their overall suburban situation, but they felt stuck financially. Then came the inspiration to live in Texas for a year, near their old college alma mater, and live/work on a sustainable farm for a year via an internship program. They made the decision to sell their house in Florida, move to Texas, and pack the 5 of them into a small apartment for a year with no flushing toilets.

Bold. Yes, very bold. :0

Love, love, love this story. Despite the obvious challenges, this had the benefit of them all being able to be together during the day and evenings, and fitting in with homeschooling perfectly. Haley and her husband had satisfying work that they had always wanted to do, and the kids were able to play outdoors and experience real opportunities to learn and grow in nature.

One of the things Haley mentioned that I really related to was reducing clutter and overall looking at your possessions and releasing things that you no longer need or use. Sometimes we have emotional attachments to things, and granted, things with strong sentimental value can still be quite important to hold on to. But ALL of the things that we are reluctant to part with because of guilt or some other such emotion? It can be so freeing to give that stuff away or have a big garage sale. Not having so much stuff means less to clean, less to store, but more free space to live in. We try to go through our basement and storage room regularly, but sometimes we let it go far too long, and lately that has been the case. Release the guilt!

Haley makes a point of saying that not everyone is called to do what her family did. There is nothing wrong with living in the suburbs, sending your kids to a brick and mortar school, and working at an office job. The key is: where do you need to be, and what do you need to be doing, to fully live out what God is asking of you? At your job and at home, are you able to live out your faith, and spend quality time with your family? That's all that is important. You may be called to share your faith in unexpected ways in your workplace, and for your kids to do the same at their school. You may be able to happily weave together faith and family life in satisfying ways right where you're at now. But reading inspiring stories such as this one helps us to stay vigilant, to be always searching and aware of what God is asking us to do on any given day. He may be asking us to reduce clutter to create a more freeing prayer and study space for ourselves and our kids, to take walks outside with our family when the weather is right, to treasure those special moments. The implementation will be different for each of us, but the message is the same. GOOD STUFF.

What did you all think of the introduction and first 3 chapters?! We'll cover Chapters 4, 5 and 6 next Thursday!

Monday, March 4, 2019

"So. Your new Fitbit. Didn't you hear it last night?!" A story of false accusation :0

Several nights ago in the home of the Catholic Librarian:

*happily sports new Fitbit Alta HR to bed to track my sleep*

"You love that new Fitbit, don't you?"

"Yes. Her name is Francine."

😇

That night I had a dream that Mike was trying to wake me up, telling me that my Fitbit was beeping incessantly.

Next morning...

"Sweetie, didn't you hear your Fitbit last night?! It was beeping nonstop, it must have an alarm set or something. It was right around midnight."

Oops. I guess that wasn't a dream. 😬

"No, sorry, darling. You know what a deep sleeper I am."

😬😬😬

I spend the next day Googling "phantom Fitbit alarm" and mentally sending sympathy vibes to people in the Fitbit forums reporting that they are in tears over their devices waking them up every single night (and it's ALWAYS overnight, right?! Just like the low battery indicator in your smoke detector?!) despite there being no alarms set. Several odd solutions are offered, all of which I employ. I reset the device, I change the timezone, sync, and change it back. I set an alarm, sync, then cancel the alarm and re-sync. The next night, I am sweating it out a bit that any of these shenanigans actually worked, and hide Francine in the linen closet under a stack of towels.

😀

As would be expected, we hear nothing. The next night, I was too tired to make the trek to the linen closet after getting into bed, so I shove Francine under our mattress. That night at midnight:

I sit bolt upright.

"Why am I awake?"

Mike is snoozing happily beside me as I hear a faint beeping coming from my side of the room.

Well, crap. I lay back down and pray that it doesn't wake Mike. It doesn't, and eventually I drift back to sleep. The next morning, Mike seems to delight in the fact that it woke ME up this time, and not him.

*glares*

At this point, I am mad. I've had kids and suffered through YEARS of sleep deprivation. Now that I am past that, I do not want a freaking rogue fitness tracker waking me up at midnight every night.

I do more online research, and reset Francine yet again. I resolve to keep the Fitbit out in plain sight over the weekend, when the disturbed sleep isn't as catastrophic, so that we know for sure exactly what is going on before calling Fitbit customer support. Otherwise, Francine is going to meet an untimely end.

Snort.

Saturday night, we are at a party until about 11 pm, thus when 11:55 rolls around, we're just getting into bed. Perfect. Midnight strikes.

I look expectantly at my arm. Nothing is happening.

"Look honey! It's midnight, and the Fitbit is quiet. I must have fixed it!"

Then I notice something. There is muffled beeping, but it is clearly NOT coming from Francine. Mike still tries to blame her. 😑I leap out of bed, determined to find the nefarious source of our nighttime trauma.

It seems to be on my side of the room, and I follow it all the way to our door. As I open our bedroom door, the beeping is clearly much louder, and originating on the main floor of our house. I descend the stairs in a run, determined that I will ferret this little *&@!'er out before it stops and we are left in mystery for yet another night. As I get downstairs, the noise becomes downright ear splitting.

I first check the alarm clock in the guest room, because our children seem to delight in setting alarms on that thing for no discernible reason. Nope. I go out into the living room and snap on the light. Could it somehow be the landline phone? Henry's Nintendo Switch? Is one of the remote controls losing it's mind?! I cannot figure out the source of the noise that is now imprinting itself permanently on my brain when I notice something flashing on our fireplace mantle. You know what it was?

Mike's weather station.

!!!

I felt a deep sense of satisfaction as I ripped the batteries out of the weather station and placed it in a heap back onto the mantle. I went upstairs and reported the news to Mike, who was just about to fall asleep in our bed.

😇

"It's your weather station, my love."

He looked dutifully both confused and horrified, as we've had that weather station for years, and never even known that it had an alarm function. I'm certain one of the children was involved in this plot to destroy our lives, but we'll never know for sure.

I've been sleeping like a rock ever since.

*righteous sniff*

Are you reading your Lenten Book Club book?! First post coming on Thursday!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lenten Book Club 2019 - official schedule!

Hi all! We're exactly a week out from Ash Wednesday, and as usual, the Catholic Nerd is all excited! :-0 I have a prayer plan in place, devotionals are all ordered, and so it's time to solidify our Lenten Book Club for 2019. This year we're going to be reading The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture, by Haley Stewart.

I'm *very* excited about embarking on this reading journey along with all of you! This book was recommended to me by my sister, who loved it, and told me that she devoured it quite quickly because she was so into it. Therefore, what I'm thinking is that we will start reading this weekend, have our first post next week just as Lent is beginning, and wrap up prior to the season finishing, I figure that we might as well ride the wave of a quick and interesting read, and give ourselves a few weeks at the end of Lent to focus on Holy Week and preparation for that. And there are only 12 chapters, 192 total print pages, so this definitely shouldn't take us long to get through.

Thus, my proposed schedule would essentially just commit us for the month of March, and looks like this:

Thurs. 3/7 - Introduction and Chapters 1-3
Thurs. 3/14 - Chapters 4-6
Thurs. 3/21 - Chapters 7-9
Thurs. 3/28 - Chapters 10-12 and Conclusion

This would leave us with a week afterward to prepare for Holy Week, and then Holy Week itself. I'll plan special posts for those weeks after the book club wraps up. 🤗

What do you all think? Are you all as excited as I am?! Let's get our copies secured (mine is already on my Kindle!) and get reading this weekend! We'll chat on the Thursday following Ash Wednesday. If you're going to be participating, please let us know in the comments!


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Conference blessings, and a spiritual reading list for 2019...

Hello all, and happy late February to you! I had just such an inspiring time this past weekend at the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference, and couldn't wait to share it all with you!

🤗


It's hard to full articulate what the weekend meant to me, but it meant a LOT. The fellowship, the palpable sense of faith and hope surrounding me, the presence of the Lord at the Masses, the adventure of manning a vendor booth for the very first time selling my own book (I even got to sign some for people :-0)... it was just balm to my soul. It was so, so needed, and it was such a blessing!

Here I am at my post :-0
I loved it. I loved being near the spiritual books and helping others to select just the right ones. Check out this ADORABLE Stations of the Cross book for kids, perfect for Lent! I eyed that one up right away. :-)

I was so inspired that I decided to create a spiritual reading list for the rest of the year. Interested in joining me? Here are the titles I selected, some of which are new, some of which were lurking on my Kindle, and I placed them all into their own special folder on my ereader!

Spiritual Reading List 2019


Do you ever feel caught in an endless cycle of working harder and longer to get more while enjoying life less? The Stewart family did—and they decided to make a radical change. Popular Catholic blogger and podcaster Haley Stewart explains how a year-long internship on a sustainable farm changed her family’s life for the better, allowing them to live gospel values more intentionally. 
When Haley Stewart married her bee-keeping sweetheart, Daniel, they dreamed of a life centered on home and family. But as the children arrived and Daniel was forced to work longer hours at a job he liked less and less, they dared to break free from the unending cycle of getting more yet feeling unfufilled. They sold their Florida home and retreated to Texas to live on a farm with a compost toilet and 650 square feet of space for a family of five. Surprisingly, they found that they had never been happier.
In The Grace of Enough, Stewart shares essential elements of intentional Christian living that her family discovered during that extraordinary year on the farm and that they continue to practice today. You, too, will be inspired to: 
  • live simply
  • offer hospitality
  • revive food culture and the family table
  • reconnect with the land
  • nurture community
  • prioritize beauty
  • develop a sense of wonder
  • be intentional about technology
  • seek authentic intimacy
  • center life around home, family, and relationships
Drawing from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Stewart identifies elements of Catholic social teaching that will enhance your life and create a ripple effect of grace to help you overcome the effects of today’s “throwaway” culture and experience a deeper satisfaction and stronger faith.

This book is our Lenten Book Club for this year,  and I hope that you join in with us! I hear that this is an engaging and quick read, on a fascinating topic within our spirituality! I'll be posting our reading schedule for this book next week, so look for that post next Wednesday or Thursday, as we'll be just one week out from Lent at that point!

From Fire, by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith, by Sohrab Ahmari

Sohrab Ahmari was a teenager living under the Iranian ayatollahs when he decided that there is no God. Nearly two decades later, he would be received into the Roman Catholic Church.In From Fire, by Water, he recounts this unlikely passage, from the strident Marxism and atheism of a youth misspent on both sides of the Atlantic to a moral and spiritual awakening prompted by the Mass. At once a young intellectual's finely crafted self-portrait and a life story at the intersection of the great ideas and events of our time, the book marks the debut of a compelling new Catholic voice.
I heard about this book at the conference, and you all know that I am very drawn to conversion stories and memoirs! I pounced on this one right away; it's new, just came out last month!


Holy Days: Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and Other Solemnities of the Church, by Pope Benedict XVI


According to Pope Benedict XVI, "the liturgical year is a great voyage of faith on which the Church sets us out." The feast days in the Church's liturgical calendar follow the major events of Jesus' life as recounted in the Gospels. This cycle gives a rhythm to the life of the Church and helps Christians better understand the divine mystery. Especially in our secularized society, liturgical practices guide and deepen our path, centering our focus on Christ and teaching us how to live.

Beginning with Advent and concluding with the feast of Christ the King, Pope Benedict's Holy Days presents excerpts from selected homilies that he has given over the course of the liturgical year in Rome. The book is organized by season and feast days, with brief introductions. This short devotional volume will be a welcome resource for priests and parishioners seeking to focus their minds in preparation for worship.

I received this book as a gift from Sam last year, and have been meaning to get to it. I also adore the liturgical year, and can't wait to dive into this one!



Eight hundred years ago, Albert of Jerusalem gave the hermit-penitents of Mount Carmel a way of life to follow. Since then, this rule has inspired and formed mystics and scholars, men and women, lay and ordained to seek the living God. In The Carmelite Tradition Steven Payne, OCD, brings together representative voices to demonstrate the richness and depth of Carmelite spirituality. As he writes, Carmelite spirituality seeks nothing more nor less than to 'stand before the face of the living God' and prophesy with Elijah, to 'hear the word of God and keep it' with Mary, to grow in friendship with God through unceasing prayer with Teresa, to 'become by participation what Christ is by nature' as John of the Cross puts it, and thereby to be made, like Therase of Lisieux, into instruments of God's transforming merciful love in the church and society."
The lives and writings in The Carmelite Tradition invite readers to stand with these holy men and women and seek God in the hermitage of the heart.
I've been feeling a definitely Carmelite vibe these days, and this one somehow jumped onto my Kindle. ;-) I'm thinking it will be fantastic fodder for meditation and quiet contemplation, especially this summer near the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

A Prairie Girl's Faith: The Spiritual Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Stephanie Hines

A Prairie Girl's Faith provides the first extended, in depth discussion of the Christian faith of one of America's most beloved pioneer women--Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although the faith of the Ingalls' family pervades books in the Little House series, the more specific details of Laura's faith have never been fully explored. It took extraordinary pluck for anyone to survive the harshness of frontier life--from the heartbreak of sudden crop losses to murderous storms to unrelenting loneliness. This book reveals how in surviving, the brave Laura drew not just on her character, but found encouragement, strength, and hope in her relationship with God.
Although not Catholic based, I'm fascinated by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and have read the Little House series several times. I thought this looked like a great title about faith and spirituality during tough times. A nice American literature crossover title, if you will. :-)

Thoughts? Do you have a spiritual reading list for this year? I would absolutely LOVE to hear about it if you do! Or have you done this in the past? Ditto! Look for the Lenten Book Club schedule to be out mid to late next week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A little Lenten planning, because the weather is so frightful, there aren't a lot of other options... :-0

My February piece over at CatholicMom.com is devoted to OL Lourdes! 
Hello all! It's a busy week over here in my little corner of Western New York. We've had some pretty intense winter weather every single week lately, and it's made commutes and such difficult, but we're hanging in there. Speaking of traveling by car, I'm going to the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference on Friday! It's looking like the weather will be OK for me to drive, it's about 5 hours away. I'm a little nervous about it, BUT I will get to see my beloved Allison Gingras for the first time since 2015, and I'm ever so excited about that! I'm sure I'll be tweeting and posting in our Facebook group for those who partake in those communities. I'll keep you all in the know! I think it'll be a lovely way for me to prepare for Lent.

And speaking of Lent! I'm all excited. :-0 #CatholicNerd My goal this Lent is to keep up with my new subscription to Living Faith, and my first print issue should arrive anytime now. As well, I'm planning to download the Blessed Is She Lent Devotional for 2019, which is called To The End. I absolutely love their devotional journals, and although the digital download makes it harder to fill in the questions, I find that I am more apt to use it in digital form.

As well, I'm contemplating a Lenten Book Club for the blog with this book:


Thoughts?! My sister Shauna'h mentioned this book to me, so I popped over to Amazon to check out the description, and got all excited.
Do you ever feel caught in an endless cycle of working harder and longer to get more while enjoying life less? The Stewart family did—and they decided to make a radical change. Popular Catholic blogger and podcaster Haley Stewart explains how a year-long internship on a sustainable farm changed her family’s life for the better, allowing them to live gospel values more intentionally. 
When Haley Stewart married her bee-keeping sweetheart, Daniel, they dreamed of a life centered on home and family. But as the children arrived and Daniel was forced to work longer hours at a job he liked less and less, they dared to break free from the unending cycle of getting more yet feeling unfufilled. They sold their Florida home and retreated to Texas to live on a farm with a compost toilet and 650 square feet of space for a family of five. Surprisingly, they found that they had never been happier. 
In The Grace of Enough, Stewart shares essential elements of intentional Christian living that her family discovered during that extraordinary year on the farm and that they continue to practice today.  
You, too, will be inspired to:

  • live simply
  • offer hospitality
  • revive food culture and the family table
  • reconnect with the land
  • nurture community
  • prioritize beauty
  • develop a sense of wonder
  • be intentional about technology
  • seek authentic intimacy
  • center life around home, family, and relationships

Drawing from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Stewart identifies elements of Catholic social teaching that will enhance your life and create a ripple effect of grace to help you overcome the effects of today’s “throwaway” culture and experience a deeper satisfaction and stronger faith.

*squeals*

What do you think? Shauna'h said that it is a *really* fast read, and that she just devoured it. I would download for Kindle, but it's available in print too, and your library may have it! I would love to hear your vote in the comments. :)