Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 12 (returning at last)

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JMJ1

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Friday, December 7th, 2018 A.D.; First Friday; Vigil of the Immaculate Conception; feast of St. Ambrose (Bishop, Confessor & Doctor).

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My youngest sister is an expert on beautifully playing with hair . . .

Outside the window . . .

Gray, cold, a little bit foreboding . . . tomorrow, we’re supposed to have drearily cold temps and a downpour of rain. But nothing can dampen the cheer of Our Lady’s feast day and The Dash and I’s 15-month anniversary, of course ❀

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The Dash and I went to a campus event last week — we saw Jon McLaughlin in concert! He was fantastic!!

Sounds throughout the house . . .

My brother whistling “Let it Snow” while he does school; Lena‘s keyboard clattering away in the next room.

Wearing . . .

Sweats . . . (embarrassed face) . . . I’ll shower later and get dressed properly for tonight’s Mass πŸ˜‰

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Well . . . yes, I suppose there was Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚ My poor grandmother was sick and wasn’t able to join us; it was the first Thanksgiving ever where we cooked every dish, so Wednesday and Thursday cumulatively gave our single oven an incredible workout — but it was a success! Best of all, it was The Dash and I’s first Thanksgiving Day actually spent together, since my family and I traveled out of town last year. It’s very easy to feel especially grateful when my amazing guy is around πŸ˜‰

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My apple pies . . . (after having made them 11 years straight, these were an epic case of smoke and spilling juices, let me tell you . . .)

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Our annual cranberry bread and beloved book, which I brought and read to my co-op kids a few weeks ago πŸ˜‰

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I made a quadruple batch of jambalaya the other day . . . it turned out pretty good, and I must say it’s a fun thing to make because, for my memory, it’s tied in with The Dash and I’s early days of getting to know one another. For some reason, our early encounters were all marked by jambalaya!

With it being this time of the year, it’s been admittedly difficult to eat as anti-inflammatory as I’d been hoping. But although I did cheat a little here and there, with it being Thanksgiving, I was still overall eating more cleanly than I had in months, and yet I had a pretty rough case of symptoms two Sundays ago and was left wondering how much of this I can control with food 😦 I hate to sound discouraged but am just trying to put everything in God’s hands and surrender to His Will in this.

Lena has been doing lovely culinary things lately, and I have to brag on her . . . pumpkin pie from scratch, lemon icebox pie from scratch, and of course, with yesterday being St. Nicholas’ feast, she made our annual St. Nicholas cookies (need I say from scratch?), expertly frosted to look just like him πŸ˜‰

A note on projects . . .

Our last co-op class for the year was on Tuesday . . . although I’ll be physically happy for the break, I’m sure going to miss all the little guys! The Tuesday prior to that, we had our Advent presentations, and I am so very proud of how well all my kids did with performing the songs!

On another note, in my spare time, I’ve been listening quite a lot to the soundtrack for The Village and rewriting my childhood fantasy epic, thanks in great part to The Dash playing up my story to a dear lady who elicited a promise from me that I would have chapters for her by the time he graduates next Saturday. Thus, I’ve been writing (I can’t break a promise!!!), and enjoying it in a way I truthfully haven’t experienced in years.

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Hopefully The Dash won’t kill me for sharing this picture . . . we have been keeping our ballroom dancing skills in shape, although we definitely amend the tango because some of it is just not kosher for courting couples πŸ˜‰

In choir we are churning full-steam ahead in preparation for High Mass on the 16th, which is also our parish’s day for Confirmations — 36 Confirmandi! That’s a huge day coming up. And then High Mass on Christmas Eve . . . needless to say, we are wading through a lot of beautiful and challenging music.

And then, of course, it’s only a few weeks until Christmas, which means projects of that sort are demanding to be launched . . . I’m getting there, but this is the busiest December in my memory and so consequently I feel a teensy bit behind πŸ˜‰

I’ve got cleaning/sanitizing to do, as my poor youngest sister is sick again and the rest of us are trying to stay well 😦

Reading . . .

Conversation with Christ and Introduction to the Devout Life, when I can.

Contemplating . . .

I can’t sugar-coat it . . . there is so much going on this month. My grandmother is going to be moving in less than a week, God-willing, and we’re helping her; The Dash has finals, then graduates in seven days and starts working full time immediately after; babysitting; family is traveling into town; we have High Masses and Christmas; then we have a big family wedding 10 hours away, which Lena and I are planning to sing for . . .

On top of that, I came into December burdened by really unusual fatigue. I wanted to leap into Advent and immerse myself in silence and better prayer routine, as well get on top of things quickly for logistical Christmas planning. Instead, I found myself worn thin and exhausted for days, fighting a headache and struggling to get the most basic things accomplished. It was really humbling and very difficult to not succumb to discouragement over (ahem) my plans and expectations for my energy level being “thwarted.”

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(My brother snapped this pic from the backseat when The Dash and I were out recently πŸ˜‰ )

Thankfully, I’m feeling more energized now and am trying to simply give God whatever I have, be it a lot, a little, or seemingly nothing at all, and asking Him to help me have radical humility in the face of my pride, expectations and plans this Advent.

On living the Faith . . .

Making a stubborn, imperfect effort to incorporate mental prayer on a daily basis. Everyone needs to read Conversation with Christ, a compendium of sorts of St. Teresa of Avila’s doctrine on prayer.

Prayerfully . . .

Praying for aid, clarity and strength on multiple fronts. Don’t forget about the St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

Sig

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7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 18 :: All sorts of things

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Explore previous rambling installments here πŸ™‚

1.

Some Monday mornings are more welcome than others; this one was definitely more than welcome! Getting up around 6:45 gave me over half an hour of spiritual reading after morning prayers/chores, before breakfast. The quiet, rainy atmosphere made it so calm and peaceful. Just recently, The Dash bought a used copy of St. Francis de Sales’ An Introduction to the Devout Life, and when he was over here on Saturday for a football game, supper, a little dancing practice (in which we finally got to try out the moves from his dance class I’d visited last Wednesday!), and haircuts, he brought it and kindly let me start reading it first. (One of the endless perks of courtship! The sharing of books!) I’m trying to take it slowly and absorb it little by little . . . I have so much to learn.

Providentially, the book came with an old miniature prayer pamphlet for the Holy Souls tucked inside; it was printed back in the ’50s, with a prayer for each day of the week for certain souls in Purgatory, such as “the soul most destitute of spiritual aid” and “the soul nearest to entering Heaven.” Beautiful and so timely, it being November and all! I’ll try and share them on this blog somehow . . .

On a similar note, this morning I also had time to read a little bit of Hungry Souls.

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2.

After breakfast, I folded some towels, but found myself strangely compelled to grab my long-neglected camera, tiptoe outside in the 40-degree rain and take some pictures from our back deck (see my previous post), although they’ll never do justice to what it was actually like . . . something about this morning was enchantingly beautiful! (I gracefully planted the arm of my sweatshirt in a puddle of water when crouching on my stomach for one shot, but oh, well . . .)

3.

Over the past hour, I’ve been be planning for my co-op class; tomorrow is our last class before we break for Thanksgiving week, and after that, I only have two more classes before we break for the rest of the year. How has it gone by so fast?!

Our chorus is doing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and “Beyond the Moon and Stars” for the upcoming Advent presentations. My own little class is doing an Advent song from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, “Sitting with My Brothers”; and they are just impossibly cute when they sing it!

Also, I just realized that today is six weeks until Christmas Eve! I’m already looking forward to Advent and Christmas so much, and can hardly fathom that it’s been a whole year since last Advent! πŸ˜‰

4.

Other plans for today are laundry, cleaning up the girl’s bathroom, catching up on emails (a constant process with me), reading, and whatever else it is I realize I’ve been forgetting to do. I keep having to re-calculate, but I believe today is 33 days until The Dash’s graduation! It’s getting so close now!!! I’m so proud of him and prayerfully excited for him to be able to finally transition into working full-time and having a more normalized schedule.

Speaking of The Dash (my favorite thing to do!) . . . I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here, but he and I have a daily tradition, sometimes forgotten but eventually resumed, of always making it a point to ask one another, “What were your highs and lows today?”

It’s just a small thing, and yet it really facilitates our being able to talk about the things that made us happiest that day, alongside the things that were hardest, no matter insignificant the reasons might seem.

Personally, it can be hard for me to spontaneously divulge (without prompting) if I’ve had a hard spot in the day. A more general question, such as, “So, how was your day?” makes me just want to share the good parts in cheerful sanguine fashion and smooth over the trying parts.

However, having The Dash ask me, “What were your highs and your lows today?” specifically asks me to share the best and hardest parts with him, talking about the reasons why, and visa versa. On a smaller scale, I think it’s been a hugely useful key in growing our communication skills and keeping them honest, healthy and intimate.

5.

A random fact: I realized the other day that Benedic has over 200 posts now, has been around for two years, and has received just over 25,000 visits. That is definitely a testament to the good-will of people who visit and aren’t driven away by my incessant ramblings! God is good!

6.

A pictorial demonstration of my Sunday outfit: it was the first time I’d worn the jacket and boots either separately or together, and they’re the sharpest clothes I own, apparently . . . πŸ˜‰

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7.

A quote I read recently that made me smile:

Now I’m not saying all women must marry and all women must have children. God’s plans, and the working of natural laws, not to speak of social influences by the dozen, make marriage and children just “out” for many women. But I do emphatically say: We must acknowledge and teach others to acknowledge that home-making should be considered woman’s most important job.

-from Reverend Hugh Calkins, O.S.M.’s The Woman in the Home

Sig

We’re speaking different languages

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Have you ever read about the five love languages? When I was in my first courtship, I purchased the bestselling book and tried reading it . . . and I was totally not impressed. Granted, even now that I can see that the concept is an important one, this theory still can’t be the sole saving grace of a relationship (especially in the context of marriage), since a successful and holy marriage has to be built on even more than simply keeping one’s emotional or “love tank” full. It can’t always be about preserving happy feelings, which is (if my memory is correct) the predominate focus of the book. (But hey, in today’s dysfunctional culture, you’ve got to start somewhere . . .)

But at nineteen years old, I didn’t like the book at all. It didn’t seem to relate to me and my ongoing experiences, and I was confused and suspicious. All of these “languages” are important to me. I’m supposed to have one I “speak”?

In retrospect, I lacked self-knowledge, and had a pile of growing and learning to wade through before I could come to a place where I was better equipped for a relationship. God, of course, allowed that all to happen in His own good time. Over the upcoming few years, I learned about the four temperaments from the Catholic perspective (a vastly important key, thanks in good part to The Dash <3) and, eventually, I mentally revisited the concept of the five love languages.

Ahh . . . this is starting to make more sense to me now.

Since the basic information is readily available in other places, I’m not going to dive into explaining Dr. Gary Chapman’s theories, but rather, I want to ramble about how important my own self-knowledge of the way love is (emotionally speaking) most effectively communicated to me became, and how this works in The Dash and I’s courtship.

* * *

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Two weeks ago, on my baptism anniversary πŸ˜‰

Yesterday, The Dash and I celebrated 14 months of courtship . . . and in the grand scope of our beautiful courtship, we’ve talked many times about how our love languages match and contrast. We’ve gradually become more aware of instances where one of us is trying to show affection in the way most natural to us . . . and yet it doesn’t quite cause the heartmelting reaction we would desire. We’ve learned how, if we rely solely on our natural inclinations of how to express affection, we’re speaking different languages. We have a long way left to go–but we’re learning!

Just for fun, I took the official love languages “quiz” (you can find it here) yesterday, and it entirely confirmed everything I’ve suspected about myself for a year or two. At the highest level, I am a “words of affirmation” person. Reading the site’s description makes me grin: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward . . . Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”

That is completely me! And my next-highest languages are a tie between “physical touch” and “quality time,” which I already knew . . .

However . . . I’ve very slowly learned that The Dash has a different highest love language. In the past, when I’ve really wanted to show him how much I love him, I was most inclined to write a suuuuper long letter/email/text, thinking of all the words of affirmation possible that might boost his spirits, as his words of affirmation invariably boost mine. (Because a few loving words from him transform my whole day!) But over time, I’ve learned that, to The Dash, words aren’t his thing.

(I’m thinking . . . How is that possible?! How could he NOT want words of affirmation?! A long letter?! Me telling him how amazing he is?! Isn’t that just what he wants?!) Noooo, dear blind Mary . . . it isn’t . . .

This reality has taken quite a long time for me to ingest, and even now, fourteen months in, I feel as though I’m at the very beginning of learning how to channel my desire to show him affection into one of his predominate love languages, “acts of service,” or just being helpful in some way. Hilariously enough, “acts of service” are towards the bottom of my natural emotional register when it comes to love languages (although, of course, I’m not blind to them and I truly think they’re sweet!). And yet those are things that, emotionally, speak to his heart, and they are what he naturally defaults to in an effort to express his commitment and love. (By the way, he is such a serving person . . . that was evident from the very, very beginning, but it continues to blow me away now. I just had to brag.)

Learning these truths about one another, and making an effort to turn my expressions of love away from my default, towards things that make him happier (which is harder), has been such a beautiful thing for me. Inherently, it is a practice of selflessness, and what better soil for love to grow in? And it has also been an opportunity for me to mentally translate actions that I might have not initially realized were loving ones.

Thankfully, we do share similar languages that both rank high on our emotional registers, so we aren’t entirely polar opposites! However, our strongest shared love language is probably physical touch, which at this point in our courtship is kept to bare minimum and lies dormant for now. I consider this a blessing in disguise; Our Lord arranged things to where we’re having to spend our courtship learning how to give of ourselves and speak only in the languages morally allowed to us . . . in which we find ourselves quite different!

Again, I see myself only at the very beginning of this journey in learning how to love The Dash selflessly and well; to be intuitive to his heart and to be able to mature into actions and ways of loving that bring him joy. I know it will be a process involving time, patience, and learning curves, but I’m praying for the grace to grow in that process a little every day!

Sig

 

{Today} 11.7.18

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JMJ1

A quickly written post to capture raw memories of the day . . .

Today, I got up at 5am, showered, left home shortly after 6, had my two sisters to the orthodontist-carpool-rendezvous point before 7 (our orthodontist is an hour away, so the families involved take turns driving), and then I went to meet The Dash at Chick-fil-A for breakfast at 7:20 ❀

Recently, due to lack of chaperone availability, our courtship’s ongoing principles have allowed for us to be out in public places without my siblings, as long as I keep in good touch with my parents, which is something of a new dynamic . . . Let’s just say this was the best chicken biscuit date anyone ever had πŸ˜‰

We both had breakfast as we woke up together (I was groggy!); he showed me some of his mobile development project on my phone, we talked about how our morning had gone thus far, and then we stepped back out into the beautiful November sunshine and returned to our cars. Yes, I was following him to campus because I had time to kill, which meant I could sneak into his classes for the first time ever . . .

Software Engineering was at 8am. We scurried up three flights of stairs (I always take stairs two at a time, possibly due to combined impatience and a sense of fun . . . this makes The Dash laugh, but this time we had to do it together) because traffic had made us a little late. We arrived at the right hallway and it clearly dawned on me that I was about to walk into a college class for the first time ever, without the professor knowing I was coming; so I lagged behind The Dash’s quick footsteps with some trepidation.

“Just play it cool,” he instructed me.

“Do you want me to wait outside the room?”

“No, just come in! It’s fine!”

I put my eyes on the floor and followed him with the loyal obedience that comes from sheer love. The professor was engrossed, and The Dash and I sat down in the second row, and I got a free class without a problem.

I loved it! Not that I’m at all fluent with the syntax of things–most of it was over my head–but I got little bits of it here and there. Plus, I’d heard about this professor from The Dash and so was delighted to see his personality in person! He loves what he does. There weren’t too many students, so the atmosphere was laid-back and fairly quiet, and I loved the experience of listening to the lecture and the students’ occasional questions/interjections, and absorbing that this was and had been a sliver of The Dash’s reality for these past semesters. To step inside his world for a morning was such a gift to me!

Class wrapped up just after 9; now we really had to run, because the next was across campus and The Dash has a ten-minute window. We moved our cars and I was forced to reluctantly inch into one of the only free visitor parking places on that side of campus. (I hate parking. It is the bane of my existence.) It was not a job well done, which would be proved to me later. We half-ran towards the gym, The Dash carrying his shoes (this class was Social Dance, from which I’ve vicariously learned so much!).

I perched on the bleacher and watched The Dash and his classmates learn a sequence of steps for the tango, plus a cha-cha review. Of course, he was the best dancer there, but it was no surprise to me. The instructor was very kind to let me sit in and watch!

We returned to our cars, I narrowly pulled out of my dreadful parking job, and we both began driving towards a nearby Perpetual Adoration chapel, hoping for a few minutes of prayer together before I had to pick up my sisters again. That’s when I saw it; the dreaded slip of paper tucked under my windshield wipers, fluttering in the wind . . .

We got to the chapel and I stepped out of the car. “What is that?” I moaned to The Dash, gesturing in despair. He squinted, searched, pulled it out.

“Are you serious?” he says in that perfectly mastered tone of, My girlfriend never does anything wrong! But yes, it was a $15 parking citation 😦 He bundled it into his pocket, said he would take it to the office, and that I shouldn’t worry about it. Being that we only had about five minutes to spare, we hurried into the chapel and I put it from my mind for the moment.

Beautiful silence. The Presence of Our Lord. Inestimable treasures in five short minutes.

We walked back out again, and with The Dash so gallantly leading the way for me again (I’ve never driven in that part of town, and while I had written down some form of directions, he’s just awesome and selfless that way, as well as being committed to always driving the most efficient route . . . which I hadn’t written down . . .), we drove to where my sisters were waiting to be picked up.

At that point, when he and I and I were saying goodbye, the sky was appropriately overcast and ominous, and I reluctantly approached the topic of the citation again. I’ve never gotten a citation in my life and, due to my ignorance on the matter, was fretting about insurance impact, possible stress or trouble for my parent’s (it’s their car) . . . The Dash was reassuring and said he would find out more about it, and it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, but I just felt so bad about the whole thing and that I’d made it happen when my parents had let me use their car. Feminine emotions can blow things somewhat out of proportion (ahem) and I, for one, have a tendency to take things like this too much to heart behind my brave-ish face . . .

I drove the girls home through a mournful downpour of rain and, ridiculously, I was blinking away tears the whole time, not really from frustration or even embarrassment as much as anxiety and regret. We three Donellan girls arrived back to our homestead and piled upstairs, back to our welcoming family . . . my sisters described their ortho appointments while I nervously waited for an opportunity to bring the citation up . . . that opportunity not being immediately forthcoming, I finally followed Dad back to the master bedroom, tried telling him that I got a citation, and after I got out the wobbly initial explanation of my awful parking job, I started crying like a fourteen-year-old (well, really, a twenty-two-year-old who’s just gotten her first citation) and telling him I was sorry.

However, all this did was give my sweet father a burst of paternal joy, and he laughed and hugged me and told me I was being silly and that there was nothing more serious about it than the fact that I was out $15. Hugs from Dad cannot be replaced or outgrown ❀

The above picture was taken by my brother (who somehow is ingenious at locating and using my phone) while I lay tiredly but contentedly on Mom and Dad’s bed, after having cried my eyes out for two minutes over my first citation, and feeling much more rational and calm about the whole business.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful day. Spending time with The Dash is worth all the parking citations in the world ❀

Sig