Friday, July 31, 2020

Some musings as Anne makes her First Communion...

Hello all, and happy end of July!

*virtual hug*

July is my least favorite month of the year in terms of the heat, so I'm rather looking forward to August. What I'm *not* looking forward to in August is the school re-opening plan nightmare that is already unfolding and that is making me super anxious. But that is a worry for another day. :-0

I'll have another crafty post next week (with some exciting updates; 2nd completed doily and thread size comparison! Completed Steelers socks!) but this week I have 1st Communion on the brain, and thought I would wax reflective a bit. :)

Anne is my baby, and it's hard to believe that this will be my last child with whom to share this sacrament. I can't help but feel chagrined that it's happening during this terrible year that is 2020. There was no mommy and me retreat, no May Crowning at the school afterwards, no rehearsal at the church with the banner displayed that we made together, not even a completion to her preparation alongside her classmates. Even though I know that these things are not more important than receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, I can't help but mourn them. I won't have another opportunity to share any of those things with my own child. This has been a year of emotional losses such as these, and while there are other losses that are much, much worse, these still do incite a sense of sadness.

But I'm grateful that the school found a way, within the current public health mandates, to still offer the mass and sacrament, and to do so relatively quickly. I was fearful that the kids would have to wait until the fall, or perhaps into the next calendar year, before they would be able to receive. And we will have the opportunity for beautiful photographs, and to have Anne's grandparents all there. She'll be attired in her spectacular lace dress and veil, and she picked out sparkly rose gold sandals (there's a definite St. Therese vibe to the get up ;-)). We'll be able to celebrate with our small family group back at our home afterwards, and that is bringing me a lot of comfort. So I'm focusing on those things.

Anne is at an age where "church is boring," and I'm hopeful that receiving the Eucharist will begin to turn her heart towards a more mature (relatively speaking) form of faith. I'm praying about this non-stop, and her recent feast day makes me feel that God will answer this prayer. If you would all pray for her too, especially at noon EDT this Sunday, I would be so obliged!

I'll let you know how it goes next week! Until then, let's move forward into August with hopeful spirits. I'm also going to be penning a Catholic Mom article next week. You have any topics you'd like to see me write about? Chime in in the comments!

Friday, July 24, 2020

The kids gain a small sense of normalcy, and summertime crafting continues...

Hello all and I hope that your week has gone well! Ours here actually gained back a bit of a sense of normalcy with the kids having actual activities to do, yay! Henry has been working at his Catholic high school to earn money towards his tuition, and Anne has had Girl Scout camp, both virtual and one day of in-person. She's also back to her martial arts classes, in-person, and this is all helping her so much, as she was struggling with everything just being online. It's been more running around, ferrying the two of them places, but it has felt SO GOOD for them to have real socializing with their peers, and to see more smiles on their faces this week.

In other good news, twin baby robins have hatched in our backyard! We've been having such a wonderful time watching them grow. No pictures, as Mama Robin is very protective and is never far from the nest. Anytime we're back there, she's giving us the hairy eyeball from a perch atop the power lines. 😂 She and Father Robin also "escort" any other bird or squirrel out of the yard that happen to wander in. :-0 It's provided hours of entertainment out our back window, to be sure.

I've also been continuing my crafting quests, and made great progress this week. My mother-in-law's summer top is coming along beautifully:

I kind of want to keep it for myself, but I'll try and restrain. ;-) I'm on the second of Mike's Steelers socks:

And Dianne asked about how my crochet thread was working out, and so I rembered to post a photo of my very first doily!

Pattern is Simple Beginner's Doily, and is available for free!
I'm very pleased with how this came out! I did use one of the skeins that is size #3 thread (thicker than the others are at size #10), sort of a training wheels approach, if you will. Now I'm going to make one with the thinner thread. But this looks great on our table! Really brightens things up. I've never been particularly into doilies, they seemed lacking in purpose to me or something like that :-0, but I appreciate how they cheer up a surface. I think we could all use a little cheer this summer, yes?
I'm plotting lots of these for gifts, and also some cotton dishtowels and cloths. I'll post pictures as I make things!

In Catholic news, I'm currently finishing up the St. Anne novena, and my Anne makes her first communion next weekend! What I ended up doing last weekend was taking just Henry to Mass, and this weekend I'll take Anne. It's definitely an easing in process with the kids, after them being away from Mass for so long. But we're getting there. I tried to use the car ride to talk to Henry about faith stuff, and I'll do the same with Anne this Saturday. In this way I can single the kids out a bit for individual faith attention. Pray for me! :-0

How is your week going, dear reader? Chat with you soon!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Crafty summertime continues, and getting the kids back to mass...

Hello all!

*group hug*

I hope that your week went well. Things are good here, with the heat dying down, and everyone enmeshed in a new summer routine. It's been so hard on the kids being isolated for these months, and happily, each are starting to have more and more things to do. Henry has a summer reading list for school that he's working through, and he's signed up to do some work study at his Catholic high school next week, plus some service hours in early August. Anne has been attending the summer tutoring that her school is providing, and she has Girl Scout camp next week (mostly virtual, but with 1 day of distanced in-person archery, seems pretty natural in that environment, hee!). We also booked a family road trip in August that we're all excited about. It's still within our state, so not too far, but would provide an opportunity for hiking and some other historic site seeing in a place we've never been to before. We're also looking into a fall foliage getaway in the fall, which I have *always* wanted to do, and never have. It's SO NICE to have things to look forward to again!

I did go back to mass again last weekend. Father was away, and so it was a Communion service led by our deacon. There were more people there, up to just over 40 from 26 the week before, and while it all still feels pretty awkward, I can feel it getting a little better each week. I long for the day that we no longer have to do these things, and that the virus is no longer causing sickness and death, but in the meantime, I'm happy we're able to go back to doing the things that we love in some form. And my new missal is still totally rocking my world. :-0

This weekend, I plan to take the kids back with me. 😬 It's been awhile, and I know I'm going to encounter resistance and some sassiness, but it needs to be done. Please pray for us, and that the children long to receive Jesus in the Eucharist! Anne, in particular, needs to prepare to receive her 1st communion in a few weeks. I may take 1 kid this weekend, and 1 the next, so that we can chat and have some one-on-one time that may make for better catechesis as well as more willingness on their part.

In other news, my crafting fever continues unabated, and it has brought me so much comfort over the course of this lockdown. I think I mentioned that I finished my Journey shawl, but I finally wove in all the ends and blocked it:

SUPER pleased with how it turned out! And I finished a pair of socks for myself in a colorway modeled after BB8:

Pattern is Vanilla Latte Socks, available for free!

Cute, yes? I LOVE handknit socks. Granted, I don't really get to wear them in the summer, but come fall, my feet will be comfy and toasty! In the spirit of gifting, I cast on a pair for Mike in Pittsburgh Steelers colors:

they double as bublebee socks ;-)
I'm hoping that we still get NFL football this fall, but as with all things right now, we'll have to wait and see. My big project for holiday gifting, I have determined, is to make items out of crochet thread. I have never used crochet thread before, and have been bitten by the doily bug. :-0 So I'm thinking yes, doilies, but also coasters, placemats, other types of kitcheny items. I'm participating in a crochet -along for crochet thread, and as you can see, it has me all inexplicably excited. Who gets excited about crochet thread and doilies? Well, now you know. 😂

And so, armed with a coupon code and a gift card, I placed a small order for crochet thread:

Knit Picks Curio #10
OK, you know me by this point, so you are not surprised that I don't do things that I'm excited about in a small way, yes? :-0 I was overwhelmed by all of the gorgeous colors, it's not my fault! Holiday colors, check, but also autumnal colors, because OF COURSE, and then needed neutrals, and then colors that match kitchens...and well, you might as well just order the value pack at that point and call it a day, which is exactly what I did. The value pack was 20% off, and combined with the coupon code and the gift card, I paid $2, SCORE! This was the most fun I had opening a package in a long, long time. I also got some badly needed new sock needles, a tiny stuffed alpaca for Anne, and a few other skeins of sock yarn in wintry tweed colors that I had been eyeing. It was a good, good day.

Maybe I'll do a doily update post next week, because I have so many fun ideas for those, and there are tons of good free patterns out there! I know you're as excited about this post as I am. ;-)

That's how I've been keeping busy this July, how about you? Also, the St. Anne novena starts today if you'd like to join in! Feel free to leave prayer intentions in the comments. Mine is for my Anne's upcoming 1st Communion, please and thank you!

*another hug*

Friday, July 10, 2020

Returning to mass, and navigating a heat wave...

Hello all and happy Friday! I've had a week full of actual STUFF, shocking, I know. :-0 And I thought I would fill you in. Grab your coffee!

Yes, I'm still drinking coffee despite it being a thousand degrees here for the past week. OK, maybe not *quite* that hot, but it feels quite close to that. I live in a mostly cold weather climate, and thus a lot of people here do not have centrally air conditioned homes, including us. So heat is very unpleasant. And this week, we've set a record: 7 days in a row so far (today projected to be the 8th) of temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Farenheit, with yesterday topping out the week at 98. Around here, that might as well be the Surface of the Sun. 😂 We are blessed to have window a/c units for our bedrooms, though not for the rest of the house. Taking my dance and fitnes classes in our home office has been occasion of melting for me this week. It's kept things interesting, to be sure. We've actually fared pretty well until yesterday, when everyone just felt lethargic and vaugely ill all day. We've taken the kids out to places that do have a/c: the public library, local coffee shop, and also on a wooded hike to look for birds. It's actually been quite lovely in it's own way. A summer family adventure!

In other big news, I went back to mass for the first time since the pandemic started (nearly 4 months)! I went to the vigil mass, figuring it would be a pretty small turnout to test the waters, and I was right: even counting Father, 2 ushers and the music minister, there were 26 people present. And our church is HUGE. The restrictions were pretty much what I expected, and I think all are prudent at this time. In my personal opinion, I would rather have less tape on the floor and pews (I can ascertain how to stay physically distant from others without it) but I suppose I can see the other side of this, that the parish wants to assure they are doing absolutely everything they can. Everyone was wearing a mask, which is the proper course of things right now, and very doable for an hour.

After I sat down, I excitedly paged through my new missal and got the ribbons all situated. I had heard that some churches were not letting you bring in your own missal (and the paper missalettes are all removed from the pews, I think this is pretty standard everywhere right now), and I was going to be sad if that was the case for me, because I thrive in being able to follow along visually with the readings and prayers. Happily, bringing your own missal was not an issue at my parish.

Isn't it beautiful?! I set up my ribbons for the prayers of the liturgy and the readings of the day, one just to keep track of those wily Prefaces, one for the calendar, and the last one for the Proper of Saints. I was IN LOVE. I've subscribed to magazines like Magnificat and Living with Christ for as long as I can remember, or I've had the small annual St. Joseph's Sunday missal. This is my first daily missal, and it's sheer heft excites me. 😁

So, mass started, and while everything feels a bit awkward with the necessary restrictions, it was very, very beautiful. Receiving the Eucharist again for the first time in nearly 100 days was...emotional. I haven't gone without receiving for that long since I fell away from my faith in graduate school (and that was 2 decades ago!). The only part I didn't love was that we were rushed out of our pews to comply with the one-way markings for dismissal. When it was your pew's turn to leave, you literally had to leave, no lingering to pray for a few extra minutes. :-0 I could have lived without that, but nothing is perfect, and the parish is just doing the best they can to hold public masses while complying with necessary public health precautions.

I didn't bring the kids. I wanted to scope things out a bit on my own so that I can tell them what to expect. I'm also going to be honest and say that it's not going to be easy to drag them back to mass after not going for all of these months. They are at ages where "church is boring," and I get it, as that's exactly how I felt, too, when I was their age. So I'm working on that. I'm undecided as to whether I'll bring them this Saturday, or wait until next weekend. But we *finally* got word about First Communion, and Anne will be making hers on August 2nd!! I'm SO EXCITED, and so is she. I'm planning to use the weeks leading up to this to share tidbits with her about receiving to try and stoke her hunger to receive Jesus, and hopefully this will lead to a softening about attending mass again.

I've also been trying to keep my spiritual spirits up by delighting in my new St. Dymphna rosary!

Rosaries by Allison on Etsy
Isn't it beautiful? St. Dymphna is the patron saint of those suffering from anxiety and depression. St. Dymphna, please pray for us! In your charity, please keep my kids in your prayers that the Lord will light a fire in their hearts for their faith. Thank you!

Have you returned to in-person mass? If not, how is your experience going with the streaming mass options? How are you holding up in the July heat? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Christmas in July crafting begins, and preparation for the changes at mass...

Happy July everyone, and I hope that the new month is starting off well for you! Given our current situation, I see the start of a new month as an opportunity for a fresh beginning, and for new hope. It will also herald the return to mass for our family, which I'll circle back to.

Late June/early July always means that I start to think about crafting holiday gifts, and this year is no exception. If anything, being home more amidst the pandemic means that I'm thinking about crafting even more than usual! :-0 My current goal is to finish things that I have in progress so that I can begin working on a gift list. That means the Journey shawl that I've mentioned here a few times. And it is nearly done, save for a few ends to weave in, and blocking!

Pattern is The Journey via Expression Fiber Arts, yarn is the Journey Hues kit in Alpaca Silk DK  

Very pleased with this! I used nearly all of my yarn, so just fyi to make sure you get gauge if you decide to make this. ;-) It's *very* warm, a definite late fall/winter wear in terms of use. But so soft and cuddly to wrap in. As I was binding off, I was marveling at how large it was once it was freed from the needles!

I'm also finishing up a pair of socks for myself, and as soon as I finsh those, I plan to cast on for these:

Custom dyed NFL themed yarn in Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills colors for Mike, Henry and my dad. And so the gift knitting will begin!

Thus, we have socks. Those are on the gift list. Also, my mother-in-law asked for a cotton top that I have the yarn for and will cast on soon. I have a cabled cardigan for Mike that is partially complete and has been in my in-progress pile for something like 5 years. 😂 It's just a big undertaking, I tell you! And I'd like to make a few cowls for my grandmother and aunts that see on Christmas eve each year. So that's...3 pairs of socks. 1 top. 1 complicated cardigan. :-0 And 3 cowls. That's mangeable. I think? I'll post updates throughout the summer and fall!

One thing that made me smile this week:

I saw this series of seasonal songbird quilted totes in Anne's monthly issue of Birds & Blooms magazine. Yes, my 9 year old has a print magazine subscription, her mother is a librarian, after all. She and I absolutely love birds. So I went to the Bradford Exchange website and signed up to recive all 4. The first one came this week, and I have to say that I love it, and the quality is high. It's well made and thick, has a zip top and interior pockets, and has a detachable bird house charm. Only problem is that the price I thought was for the entire series of 4, is for a single bag. 😂 I could just keep this one and cancel the subscription for the rest, but to be honest, I think I'm going to keep the subscription. I need more smiles these days, and the size is perfect to tote my kntting and/or work supplies around in. So I can look forward to receiving a new bag every 2 months! The one above is the spring edition, and I'll receive summer in late August. :)

And so the other thing on my mind these days is returning to mass. I'll be honest, I'm trepidatious, because the sheer volume of restrictions and full on prohibition on socializing and interacting while at the church really depresses me. I understand, mostly, it seems to me that a lot of this is common sense, and as adults that have been living through this the past 3.5 months, we could be trusted to do the right thing without quite so much structure, but it is what it is. I did wonder if I should wait a few weeks before going back (the dispensation is in place for the indefinite future) just to give things time to settle in a bit, as I'm sure the first few weeks will be the most awkward with everyone getting used to it. But then I reflected on the fact that I haven't received the sacraments since mid-March, and told myself to stop being so stubborn. :-0 So, as requested by the parish, I emailed in my intention to attend the vigil mass, and we'll see how it goes! I'm sure it will be fine. Jesus is there, after all, and that's all that matters.

*group hug*

And I'm so excited to bust out my new missal!

St. Paul Daily Missal

How are you all doing this early July weekend? We started chatting last week about returning to mass, which I really enjoyed. If anyone has updates about their parish, I'd love to hear about it!