7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 10 :: Back to Work

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂

1.

Another Monday, already here! Happy feast of Ss. Vincent and Anastasius, Martyrs!

I am typing to some cheery Frank Sinatra at the moment 🙂 But to elaborate on the post title: I termed this a “back to work” edition because I’m, well, getting back to work (or trying to). Back to the heroic minute, back to a pretty rigorous schedule in which I am committing to not wasting my time and to reclaiming a diligence and perseverance of spirit.

Tutoring is only a small sliver of this “work,” actually. Tomorrow’s class is all prepared for 🙂 Really, what I’m referring to is a lot of writing I could be doing (more off Benedic than on it), that I’ve been shying away from for months . . . but yesterday I took the time to examine my current state of life and found more areas for work than I’d been conscious of.

Employing my time, submitting myself to a schedule, endeavoring to exercise a talent, to create things reflective of truth and beauty, especially when I don’t feel it (the plague of all artists, I suppose)–that concretely builds virtues of diligence, industry and perseverance, and pleases God. And anything else is possibly wasteful, with where I am in life.

So yesterday, after Mass and potluck, I came home, did a huge load of dishes (that will be explained in a moment), then went out onto the back deck (finally, there were temperatures not so oppressively freezing!), and wrote both a journal entry and a reasonable daily schedule. Every day from 6am -3:30pm now has constructive slots of work, study and prayer. Tuesdays are my only “off” day, in general, due to tutoring. The Dash is back to classes today and Our Lord mercifully used that to galvanize my soul towards more concrete work, as well, at home 😉

Today, so far, has been a blessing!

2.

Lena wrote about today far more eloquently than I could. So I’m simply going the Prayer of St. Augustine I prayed this morning, one that seemed all too appropriate in contemplating the tragedy of abortion:

Lord, before Thine eyes we bring our sins, and with them we compare the stripes which we have received.
When we think of the evil we have done, little is that which we suffer, great that which we deserve.
Heaviest are our offences, lightest our burden.
We are afflicted by the punishment of our sin, yet we avoid not the obstinate desire of sinning.
The weakness of our flesh faints under Thy scourges, yet is not our iniquity changed.
The sick soul is sore tormented, yet is not the neck bent.
In pain our life sighs heavily; yet are its deeds in no wise amended.
If Thou waitest for us, we are not corrected; if Thou takest vengeance, we bear it not.
When we are corrected, we confess our shortcomings; after Thou hast visited us, we forget that which we bewailed.
If Thou stretchest forth Thy hand, we promise what we will do; if Thou delayest to draw Thy sword, we perform not our promises.
If Thou strikest us, we cry unto Thee to spare; if Thou sparest, we provoke Thee again to strike.
Lord, hear the confession of Thy guilty people; for we know well that unless Thou shouldest pardon, Thou dost righteously consume us.
Almighty Father, grant us that which though we pray we do not deserve to obtain; Thou who didst create men of nothing, that they might pray to Thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

   Amen.

3.

Oh, yes! The huge load of dishes. Due to a damaged pipe, we were without water over the weekend, but fortunately all was restored yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, we couldn’t wash dishes, couldn’t wash clothes . . . I sighed very deep sighs of satisfaction yesterday afternoon as I helped the kitchen regain its former shine. But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Paper plates, water bottles, and we had jugs of water to help the toilets flush. Lena even managed to back molasses cookies on Saturday evening, and white bean turkey chili (for Sunday potluck), when we had The Dash over and watched the VHS of my parents’ wedding day!

For us kids, it was the first time and to say we enjoyed it is the understatement of the century 😉 They were adorable and many moments of the day were equally touching and hilarious!

4.

Lately, I’ve been reading and contemplating the topic of modesty and feminine dress over at The Catholic Lady. An enjoyable and thought-provoking collection of posts and photos! I love the idea of photo-documenting modest outfits you wear . . . I’m going to try and do it on an irregular basis . . .

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My Sunday outfit . . . picture courtesy of my brother 😉

5.

For a bit of news, I’ve just put up the beginnings to my “Daily Dedications” section, and posted several prayers and devotions for Monday, to the Holy Ghost! I hope to build up the rest over the next few days . . . for now, check it out here.

6.

Sushi! I tried my first-ever sushi last Friday. California rolls, and also salmon. Amazing. 21.5 years of waiting, and it did not disappoint. Worthy of documentation . . . The Dash’s lovely sister got it on video, but as I stuffed the slightly over-large roll in my mouth all in one bite (using chopsticks, I proudly add), I’m not sure how pretty it looked, especially as I tried to chew the enormous amount of food and began dying with laughter, along with everyone else.

7.

I was blessed with several hours’ worth of Eucharistic Adoration over the past week and a half. Much of it was with The Dash. During one such Holy Hour last Monday, I had given him my little book about St. Raphael to read, and towards the end of our time there, he (silently) led me in the Litany of St. Raphael, guiding me with his finger.

To have daily prayed the “Angel of Happy Meetings” prayer for what seemed like such a long time last year . . .

Dear St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead me by the hand towards those I am waiting for, and those who are waiting for me. May all my movements, all their movements be guided by thy light and transfigured by thy joy. Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request I now address to thee at the feet of Him on Whose unveiled Face thou art privileged to gaze. (Mention your request.) Lonely and weary, deeply grieved by the separation and sorrows of earth, I feel the need of calling out to thee and of pleading for the protection of thy wings so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy.

Remember the weak, thou who art strong, whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

. . . and to then be praying in front of the Eucharist, and watch The Dash’s hand underline the words, “St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, pray for us,” was a moment beyond words–a moment for me to be overawed at the goodness of God as showered upon me through the intercession of this holy Archangel.

The Angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them: O taste and see that the Lord is sweet!

-Offertory from the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

God bless you! 🙂

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Let us Pray

On this day of prayer and penance for the end of abortion, I wanted to re-blog Lena’s lovely post. Miserere nobis!

Ut Cum Electis Videamus

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Praised be Jesus Christ!

If you haven’t already been notified by The Missive (as I have!), today is an annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, called for by our bishops.

In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.
-General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 373

In thinking about how overwhelmingly heartbreaking the reality of abortion is to anyone who understands the truth of the matter, how horrible this complete shattering of maternal love is to those who recognize the sacredness and beauty of the family, and how astutely the warped lies of the Adversary have infiltrated our society, I cannot imagine what pain…

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Sanctifying the Day

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Lena and I have been “at Fribourg” nearly exclusively these days! And yesterday, she made an excellent point, one that illuminated why I think we’re so drawn to this particular offering of LiveMass. (The fact that it streams later in the morning and that we possess faulty human nature has nothing to do with it. Of course.)

Apart from the aesthetic beauty of the place, there is also something about the fact that Fribourg is so far away, so linguistically and culturally removed from our daily experience, that the presence of the Latin Mass there impresses us more strongly with its sacredness and reminds us of its universality. Above is a screenshot I took directly after today’s Low Mass . . . as soon as I took it, the cassocked FSSP priest emerged and began expertly ordering the sanctuary and the sacred vessels 🙂

Lena and I have also fallen into a new prayer pattern . . . and it started on this past First Friday. Back at Sarasota, after First Friday Mass, the priest and congregation would always recite the Litany of the Sacred Heart, as well as the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which begins on page 1788 of the Missal.

Well, once she and I had gotten into the habit of “going to Fribourg,” we missed these extra devotions on First Fridays and decided to pray them ourselves, after the Mass finished streaming. (We also wound up adding the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.)

And then we decided we should be doing it every Friday!

And then we decided . . . why not offer some traditional devotion/prayer, oriented towards each day’s dedication? (I know . . . so young and so eager 🙂 )

Most likely, I’ve posted here in the past about the traditional dedications for each weekday. Sunday is dedicated to the Holy Trinity; Monday to the Holy Ghost (and the Holy Souls in Purgatory); Tuesday to the Holy Angels; Wednesday to St. Joseph; Thursday to the Blessed Sacrament; Friday to the Sacred Heart (and to the Passion); Saturday to Our Blessed Mother.

So Lena I began hopping around through our Missals and With God, locating litanies or prayers that honored the dedication for the day of the week. It is so much fun . . . and so enriching.

Needless to say, the prayers we’ve chosen work well for Lena and I, due to our current states in life as single women at home. For people who are busier than ourselves, shorter prayers directed towards these dedications might be far more prudent and uplifting! 🙂

Since I’ve been so horrible about posting recently, I thought I would share what we are currently doing . . . by the way, all of these prayers will soon be linked to separate pages on Benedic so you can read them . . . just as soon as I can get my act together!

Sunday: The Most Holy Trinity

Currently, this means (usually) going to Confession, praying the Rosary, assisting at Mass (of course), receiving the Eucharist, as well as “visiting the statues” after Mass for our collection of private devotions 🙂

Monday: The Holy Ghost

The Litany of the Holy Ghost (this is a litany for private recitation, found in With God)

Tuesday: The Holy Angels

Prayer to St. Michael (found in the Missal on page 1795)

Wednesday: St. Joseph

Litany of St. Joseph (approved for public recitation, found in the Missal on page 55)

Thursday: The Blessed Sacrament

Litany of the Blessed Sacrament (for private recitation, found in With God)

Friday: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Litany of the Sacred Heart (approved for public recitation, found in the Missal on page 31); Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart (pg. 1788); Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (pg. 1790)

Saturday: The Blessed Virgin Mary

Litany of Loreto (approved for public recitation, found in the Missal on page 53); St. Louis de Montfort’s Prayer to Mary (found in True Devotion to Mary)

Have a blessed and lovely day! (I realize this is a rather abrupt end for a post, but I just realized I haven’t eaten lunch yet, am accordingly starving, and that I have other things to do . . . like tutoring my brother 😉 )

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Shots of My Thursday Morning

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I’m currently at my desk, and I’ve been spending the past five or ten minutes contemplating the best way to collect my random thoughts into a brief (ha ha) and interesting blog post. After all, today’s the first day this week where I have more freedom and less tasks–but this week’s tasks have all gone so well! My first day of tutoring the co-op class on Tuesday was just delightful; I loved every minute and it went by so quickly!

The only hairy moments were when I drained every grain of sand in the hourglass in getting there thanks to a wreck and a horribly backed-up interstate. Fortunately, a hero helped me to re-route and get there on time 🙂 Slightly stressful, but good life experience. (Oh, and the other hairy moment was when I was asked by one girl, on lunch-break, if I believed in Santa. I gaped at her for ten seconds and then whipped together a safe reply about St. Nicholas and slippers. I might have to ask for a pay raise if this keeps up.)

Once I got back home in the afternoon, the rest of Tuesday involved an eye appointment (in which I discovered my nearsightedness has remained the same, but my astigmatism has moved) and a music rehearsal. Needless to say . . . I was exhausted by the end of it all! I slept in until 8:30 on Wednesday morning.

Thus refreshed, I spent yesterday cleaning and getting things in order. Planning for class had taken up most of my brain cells,  to where I kept pushing back nagging domestic qualms such as, How much longer are you going to wait to scrub the shower floor? and That’s the thirty-fifth speck on the bedroom carpet. Vacuum, anyone? Yesterday, I shook, wiped, scrubbed, dusted and vacuumed all those qualms away. Again, I was slightly exhausted by the end of it, but it was nothing that a baked sweet potato and a few episodes of Little Men couldn’t cure. (We Donellan ladies have discovered Little Men on Amazon prime, and it’s become our latest “girls’ night” treat. It’s honestly quite good, especially the middle episodes of Season One. I was really impressed by “Emancipation”!)

But anyway . . . now to today. I hooked up my webcam, turned it around, and snapped some candid (by which I mean grainy and badly lit) shots of the current state of my desk and bedroom surroundings.

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Pictured above are the items currently spread on my desk. A calendar, my phone (with its cracked and perpetually smudged screen), a notepad on which I’ve just copied the Latin lyrics to “Silent Night,” a yellow sticky note pad in which I’d written alternate lyrics of the same hymn yesterday, one of my beloved colored Sharpie pens, and the wrapper for the yarn I got for Christmas.

By the way . . . “Silent Night” in Latin is my new love. (I found it on this site.)

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This is the view directly above my computer screen. A conglomeration of items . . . books, statues, pencils, etc.. The two holy cards you see were both secret Kris Kringle gifts (from Lena).

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And here are the top-shelf books. Lots of good things. But you know what I would love to add to this collection one day? Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I haven’t read those books in so long! I rummaged just now and found an excerpt I’d typed up from Perelandra almost two years ago.

{The Green Lady}: “‘And this, O Piebald, is the glory and wonder you have made me see; that it is I, I myself, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not; which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good.’

“‘I don’t see the wonder and the glory of it,’ said Ransom.

“. . . ‘I thought’ she said, ‘that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming . . . How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing?’

I would feel better about ordering the trilogy from the library if I didn’t have a stalled stack of books on the living room fireplace right now. Sigh.

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Here is my bed and nightstand, with a brief look at my youngest sister’s half of the room. On my bedspread is my newest crocheting project (a baby blanket), which I started yesterday. So far, I’ve been using double crochet and cluster stitches. Yeah . . . I’m not nearly so savvy as to actually be able to read a pattern. I just rather make them up as I go along. However, this project occasioned me to sit down this morning and search Most economical crochet stitch on the internet. I was helpfully informed that larger stitches with more “air” use less yarn. (Somehow I was expecting the reverse.) Ah-ha! So I might be incorporating some even larger stitches later on. Also on the bed are a few of my Christmas letters, which I was reading through last night for the pleasure of it 🙂

On my nightstand, one can spy the hot pink “Girl Power” alarm clock I’ve had since I was 7 or 8 years old (it’s mildly embarrassing if I actually stop to think about it [which is never], but why spend money on a new one if it still works?), a telephone, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and some prayer books, including my Bible and Missal.

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Here’s the wall to the right of my desk. There’s the painting of St. Faustina I received the night of my Confirmation from dear friends; the top of my high school diploma; and my two wall calendars (FSSP and Beach Theme).

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And a little Christmas cheer, tied to the doorknob. 🙂

By the way, my hope is to get some pictures of our Christmas decorations posted before Christmastide is ended. They are so lovely (probably so lovely that pictures won’t do them justice)! I need to go and grab hold of the DSLR and see what happens . . .

But that’s for another time! For now, have a very blessed Thursday, which happens to be the feast of St. Hyginus, Pope and Martyr!

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7 (Very) Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 9 :: Christmas, Epiphany, Back to School, and Catching Up

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂

My goodness, what a packed couple of weeks these have been! I feel like a stranger to my own blog!!! 😉

I’ve just finished catching up on some vital things (it was a super-productive Monday!) and am now currently pinching myself. Blogging? Am I actually blogging? Really? Is it possible?

There’s very little hope that I’ll do an adequate job of catching up on such an enormous amount of events in one post, but if any post series could come close, it’s 7 Rambling Takes . . .

Where to even begin, though?!? Christmas? All right, Christmas!

1. Christmas Eve

The week before Christmas, we decked our halls (while keeping the beloved Christmas lights unplugged). I tried my first true eggnog (that is, with the Something Extra in it), and after the first sip decided that it tasted like Tamiflu. Ugh. Three sips later, and I willingly sacrificed it to my parents and The Dash. For the first time since we’ve lived in this house, we decorated the area above our kitchen cabinets with garland, lights, red ribbon and our nutcracker collection (we’ve accumulated more than a dozen over the years). And then there was the tree, the Creche, the mantle, the banisters for our stairwell, and the other little odds and ends that are part of Christmas in our household.

A few days before Christmas, right after a wonderful, full day of learning how to make tamales from The Dash’s family, I came down with a cold . . . and felt awful, in more than one way. Physical awfulness doesn’t approach I-might-not-be-well-enough-for-High-Mass-choir awfulness. That is mental torture!

It was as if last year (back when “last year” was 2016 . . .) were happening all over again: the cold and the croakiness. I was having visions of becoming The Frog once more. I bore down on essential oils, some other medicinal remedies, and rest, diffusing and applying and swallowing . . . hoping and praying that my voice would be saved even as I moaned and sniffled in the middle of my vast throne of tissues, reading my favorite parts of The Fool of New York City. When I had the energy, I wrapped presents and made cards, these endeavors punctuated by frequent nose-blowing and coughing.

How many times, on this blog, had I mentioned choir work for the approaching Christmas Eve High Mass? Well, more than once, anyway! The music was so beautiful. I was beyond excited. We were practicing every week . . . and Lena and I would have impromptu practices with our friends in choir every time we saw them (which was often). The plaintive 15th-century chant, “Angelorum Gloriae;” the sublime, “Dies es Laetitia;” the playful, haunting, beautiful, “Personent Hodie;” and so much more.

Well . . . the eve of Christmas Eve came. And I felt precisely the same as I had on the eve of Christmas Eve 2016. My voice was as wobbly and as sputtering as a drunken propeller plane (not that I have experience with drunken planes . . . it just seems an apt analogy.) I flung myself onto my bed (sort of) and cried for a little while out of stubborn human resentment, and, sniffling, poured out my woes to the very sympathetic Dash. And then I resolved, as best I could and in order to not try Our Lord’s infinite patience any longer, to cheerfully and humbly accept my fate as to my upcoming role (or lack thereof) in choir for Christmas Eve. I ate countless spoonfuls of horseradish in order to relieve my congested sinuses. It did help some to release those excoriating fireballs into my skull. Agh. But I digress.

Christmas Eve dawned. I woke up achy and sweating, and running a low-grade fever (was an overdose of horseradish to blame?). I took a shower, dressed, and eventually felt somewhat more human. By that point, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to sing at all during the morning’s choir practice (how wonderful to have to go to Mass twice in a day! I wish it happened more often!), if I were going to have any hope of singing anything that night. So I sat quietly through the practice (that is, whenever I wasn’t in the back of rectory, blowing my nose).

Once we got home from the morning’s Mass, I changed into the most comfortable clothes I owned, ate something, began coughing more and more . . . and The Croaks set in by mid-afternoon, despite all the remedies I tried.

And so it was with an air of subdued acceptance that, as the time for High Mass approached, I dressed in last year’s Christmas Eve outfit. Black blouse, cherry-blossom skirt, black flats. I even recreated the same hairstyle I’d done. It prevented me from having too think too hard about what I was wearing, and instead think about How much am I going to be able to sing?

We arrived at our parish with time to spare. It was freezing. The Dash made it at the same time we did, however, which improved my spirits by 200%. Inside, the choir loft, nave, narthex and sanctuary were decorated so beautifully. Lights, garland, trees, ribbons, poinsettias, a glowing Creche scene.

I knew I was going to have to sit out (like last year) from the pre-Mass carols, except for “Verbum Caro Factum Est: Y La Virgen Le Decia,” since it was a two-part piece (all of which pieces I’d committed to at least trying to sing). However, right when they were about to begin the carols, Our Lady (no doubt) sent me the most wonderful grace of deciding that, if I couldn’t sing the carols, I would lip-sing them with a big grin on my face. And so Lena and I stood together, using the same hymnal; she sang like a bird while I cheerfully mouthed the words. And, how that brought on a holy Christmas joy in my heart!

I wobbled softly through “Verbum Caro” with the rest of the choir, and then High Mass began. My younger brother was one of the acolytes–his second time to serve as a High Mass acolyte since Easter–and I was swelling with pride just at the sight of him processing in with his brothers. The Mass was beautiful beyond description. Even if I had to go down to the bathroom and blow my nose several times during it.

Surely Christ’s gift to me this Christmas Eve was humility (which I, erm, prayed for throughout all of Advent . . . sigh, must prayers be answered? 😉 ), joy, and an opportunity to participate more interiorly in the High Mass. It was really hard not to be able to sing the glorious Mass IV (its soaring Sanctus and Agnus!) and most of the other hymns; however, I was able to sing “Personent Hodie” without absolutely crashing, and that was also a gift, since it was my cherished favorite of all the two-parters! Everything else, however, I wound up having to stay silent on . . . but I lip-sang and smiled while holding Lena’s hymnal, and the special sisterly joy we shared over the Nativity of Christ was something I’ll always remember, particularly in light of how it might have been Lena’s last Christmas with our family, depending on what God has in store for her this year.

Mass ended. The Dash and I went and prayed in front of the Creche, St. Joseph’s altar and Our Lady’s altar. We all attempted a few brave minutes out in the freezing night air to wish all our dear friends a Merry Christmas . . . but then we had to scoot. We all drove home and, at long last, ignited the Christmas lights and enjoyed some snacks and the simple joy of all being together, before putting our stocking stuffers in one another’s stockings and heading off (exhausted) to bed around midnight.

2. Christmas Day

Christmas morning, I was the first one awake, probably from excitement. I prayed in the quiet and sat waiting for my youngest sister to wake up and spread her ebullience through our room and, eventually, the house. After a while she woke up and we chattered until it seemed a decent time to rouse everyone else. We went downstairs and I did dishes (insatiable domestic . . . but they did need to be done!) while the coffee brewed and everyone else slowly woke.

At last, we gathered in the living room, offered a few morning prayers (I think . . .), and sang “Happy Birthday” to the Christ Child, like we’ve done since time immemorial. My ambitious Latin-geek self daydreams of how my future kids might sing “Adeste Fidelis” (in Latin) to the Christ Child on Christmas morning, but we’ll see 😉 We did stockings first, and we all took turns: my youngest sister, my brother, Lena, myself, The Dash (his stocking was hanging from the shotgun barrel, my Dad’s idea, quite naturally 😛 ), Mom and then Dad. For my part in the stocking stuffers, I’d enrolled everyone in the FSSP Christmas Novena and given them their own cards (my siblings and The Dash got holy cards, too), and I also took advantage of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society and enrolled some of our deceased friends and family members, especially as a gift to Lena, Mom and Dad. But in everyone’s stockings were fun treats (like chocolate and fig bars) and thoughtful, useful little gifts (including my brother’s annual gift of new wall calendars)!

Once stockings were done, we ambled into the kitchen and cooked breakfast: a friend had given us homemade cinnamon rolls which simply needed to be warmed up; we also had eggs and sausage and put together a few things for the Christmas lunch we’d be having at my grandmother’s. It was all incredible (if something of a sugar overload.) And after eating, it was time for presents!

My youngest sister had drawn me this year 🙂 She got me a beautiful, feminine floral wallet, with all sorts of convenient pockets and zippers and cardholders. I would never have thought how much I would enjoy a new wallet until I had one!!! She also got me a new makeup pouch/small bathroom travel case, which is already coming in so handy. From Dad came a concealed carry purse. It is brilliant. I’ve had my license for a few years and have been making do with other purses. This one, however, is perfect, with a built-in holster and a zippered side pouch . . . the works. It’s also much roomier than my former purse (which was a great thrift-store find, even if not perfect), and this fact alone is destined to make a girl happy. From Mom came a stun gun (a total surprise!). I feel I am surely one of the most ultra-protected females alive.

From The Dash came particularly amazing dark chocolate (all of it has been gone for some time 😉 ), a (very appropriate to our relationship) Frank Sinatra Christmas CD, and–most amazing of all–a letter from himself to me, for each of the twelve days of Christmas. This particular gift left my sanguine self absolutely wordless and speechless. A more unexpected, touching and beautiful gift couldn’t have been contrived. Just when I thought traditional Catholic courtship couldn’t get any better (and when I thought The Dash couldn’t get any better) . . . it did (and he did).

I would love to go through everyone’s presents, but just realized am only on #2 and am already at nearly 2000 words! (Gasp!) Once all the presents were opened, we got ourselves ready and went to my grandmother’s house for lunch and her gifts to us. She has such a generous heart and always showers us at Christmas. This year, we siblings gave her three gift ideas for each sibling. Accordingly, I received a new copy of my beloved Sophia House (which I’d owned at one time but gave away to a friend 🙂 ); an FSSP 2018 calendar; and some new crocheting yarn which I am going to make into a baby blanket for a pregnancy center, hopefully starting this week. My grandmother also gave me some precious pictures from when I was younger, as well as a knife that belonged to my late grandfather. It was all so special.

After visiting with her, The Dash took my brother and I to his family’s house for a few hours . . . I was so very touched they had a stocking for me, too! It was full of some delicious treats and beautiful things like holy water, a rosary, and a homemade necklace . . . as well as an awesome collection of brightly colored Sharpies! It may sound a little silly to be so excited over colored Sharpies. However it was a perfect gift and something I would never think to ask for. They have been so useful, especially as I get ready to start tutoring my Grammar class tomorrow and I’ve been prepping some last-minute displays. I get excited just looking at them 🙂

The three of us arrived back home after dark (having to listened to some of our favorite songs on Spotify) to roast beef poboys and Christmas cake. We settled in to watch Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn . . . and that was our Christmas! The loveliest, best and most blessed one yet!

3. Octave of Christmas

I spent the Octave of Christmas getting well rather slowly. We all really just rested for the first few days, padding around and eating and reading things (and I got to read a new letter from The Dash each morning, which was indescribably wonderful!); but then things started picking up because a family we knew was putting on a formal Christmas Ball on the 29th, and had kindly invited us! So Mom hemmed our dresses and was, in many senses, our angel for a few days 🙂 I had been on the fence about what to wear.

An ivory-colored dress my mom had worn at 17 fit me perfectly, but a little too perfectly and was rather cumbersome (including puffed sleeves . . . ), and while I really loved the nostalgia of it, after some deliberation it was decided that it wouldn’t be the best thing to wear. So we’d gone to the thrift store, where we found my youngest sister a perfect formal copper-colored dress with a sheer black sweater (she was so lovely!), and a long, simple, shimmery navy-blue dress for me. That was what I wound up wearing, and it was honestly perfect in terms of comfort, dance-able-ness, and just feminine prettiness.

The ball was lovely, beautifully decorated and with delicious food that our hostess had made, and we all had a wonderful time . . . so many dances including plenty of waltzing, a Virginia Reel, and music to dance the Laendler to. My youngest sister and I were ecstatic to be able to dance what we’d learned of the Laendler together! And, of course, I got to dance quite a lot with a certain someone, which made for such a lovely evening 🙂

The next day we had The Dash’s family over for a laid-back Christmas celebration. We sang Christmas carols, talked and enjoyed one another, and I got to snuggle my Godson (I was finally well enough!!!); I’m pretty sure that his all coos indicated that he wanted to take me to the next Christmas Ball and have me on his arm. I happily complied.

4. Epiphany

New Years’ found us all home, as it’s been absolutely frigid (in the teens and twenties) for most of last week, with it only now starting to warm up, and as some of us were still sick in varying degrees and it wasn’t a Holy Day of Obligation (something I only realized on New Year’s Eve!), we felt it would be prudent to stay indoors. The rest of the week was pretty quiet, but Saturday was Epiphany! The Dash, Lena, youngest sister and I went to Confession and Mass early that morning, followed by choir. We are learning the Psalms for Holy Thursday Mass . . . sublime.

We came home, had lunch, and revealed our secret Kris Kringle roles. Lena had drawn me (which I had guessed, since I was being peppered with holy cards 🙂 ) and I had drawn Mom. It is so hard to do secret things for one’s mother! I wish I could have done more! But she was so sweet and very appreciate of the meager things I’d actually been able to do.

I placed my Magi with the rest of my small German Nativity set (which I’ve had for, goodness, several years now) up on my prayer altar . . . they had been “journeying” on my desk ever since I set up the scene to begin with, which was (shamefully) a day or two after Christmas . . .

Later that day, The Dash, Lena and I went out bowling with our good friends to celebrate Epiphany and the end of college break for the two oldest, and we had a fantastic time! I came in last place, as is my bowling tradition . . . cest le vie. However mildly embarrassing this may be, I am deeply happy to be that person who prevents everyone else from coming in last place. Leave it to a sanguine to not minding being the source of good-natured laughter 😉

We all groaned at the ghastly music (ghastly) and laughed at how much we wound up needing the bumpers. Afterwards we had supper together and played Scattergories and Taboo while listening to Hans Zimmer on Spotify. A wonderful time of celebrating our friendships in Christ!

5. Tutoring

I begin tutoring my Grammar-level class of ten girls at the Catholic co-op tomorrow! It’s a paid position, and as I’m picking up in the middle of the year, I only have two semesters and so it stretches through May. I’m so excited! I spent most of today getting the last bits of curriculum in order and organizing all my notes and moving parts . . . while I’m, naturally, a little nervous since this is rather brand-new to me, I’m more eager than anything to bond with the girls and enjoy helping them to learn (and learning with them)! It helped that I was blessed with such a productive day. Feeling more prepared equates with slightly less nerves 😉

But if anything would reassure me that this is part of God’s Will for my present life, then it would be the fact that the first bit of Latin I’ll be teaching them are the words, Benedic, Domine, Nos. I was floored when I realized it was part of the Week 13 curriculum! Isn’t that amazing!

6. Back to School

At home, my younger brother and sister started back school today, so it was back to English and literature with my brother this afternoon! Back to 180 Daily Teaching Lessons, back to memorizing the Last Gospel. Being finished, our beloved Men of Iron is now replaced with Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery. I received permission from my brother to attempt English accents . . . no German accents, though. Alas.

Even though it’s challenging for everyone, it is so good and rejuvenating to be back on routine. Something clicks and the day whirls by before we know it. Prayer and work! (We are back to Sarasota’s 8am Mass as well, which was so delightful. Their chapel is beautifully decorated for Christmas!)

I am so thankful for the blessing of a homeschooling environment, and especially for the blessing of being able to live in it past my high school graduation! I am just itching to help create my own homeschool one day 🙂 I feel this tutoring experience will be wonderful practice and a perfect opportunity for me to grow!

7. Four Months

And finally, today marks four months of courtship! I am so grateful to God for all the blessings and graces he’s showered upon The Dash and I’s relationship, especially through Our Lady. May God’s holy Will be done in all things!

Have a blessed remainder of your Christmas season! It’s lovely to be back 🙂 (And congratulations: if you’re reading this, you’ve survived a 3200 word post.)

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