A mammoth October daybook in which I catch up on things at great length (Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 7)

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JMJ1

Read previous installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Monday, October 1st, 2018 A.D. Commemoration of St. Remigius, Bishop and Confessor. From Butler’s Lives of the Saints: “At the age of twenty-two, in spite of the canons and of his own reluctance, he was acclaimed Archbishop of Rheims. He was unusually tall, his face impressed with blended majesty and serenity, his bearing gentle, humble and retiring. He was learned and eloquent, and had the gift of miracles. His pity and charity were boundless, and in toil he knew no weariness . . . The South of France was in the hands of Arians, and the pagan Franks were wresting the North from the Romans. St. Remigius confronted Clovis, their king, and converted him and baptized him at Christmas, in 496. With him he gained the whole Frank nation. He threw down the idol altars, built churches and appointed bishops. He withstood and silenced the Arians, and converted so many that he left France a Catholic kingdom . . . He died in 533, after an episcopate of seventy-four years.”

St. Remigius, pray for us; pray that God would send us good and holy bishops!

It’s also the eighth day of the St. Therese novena (if one is leading up to her Old Calendar feast on the 3rd), and the twenty-eighth day of my renewal of Total Consecration . . . which I’ve been very imperfect in doing, honestly, but am trying to press forward with better commitment.

Outside my window . . .

Somewhat overcast. We had beautiful blue skies yesterday, perfect for Sunday, following a week of torrential rain. Today isn’t quite so blue . . . but no rain, at least!

The leaves are slooowly being convinced to abandon green. The temperature is not yet convinced to drop, alas . . .

Also . . . this is such a girlish thing, but The Dash and I have not gone out for any intentional couple photos since March of this year. March! It’s killing me!! Those were our six-month photos, but it’s just been too hot and unappealing to have another round since then. As soon as things turn blissfully autumnal, I am intent on spending a day getting pictures with him somewhere picturesque and romantic ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sounds throughout the house . . .

Right now, I’m listening to the soundtrack for North & South by Martin Phipps. I love its wistfulness and romance!

Through the walls, I hear my brother playing guitar; lunch break has just settled in here ๐Ÿ™‚

The air conditioner running. When will my disconsolate spirits be eased by the coming of cold temperatures? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Time has passed since I started this post, and now I hear my brother’s and mother’s quiet voices . . . more school. This school year has entailed a pretty hefty load for the last two students left in our family!

Cabinets being shut, dishes clattering . . . not sure why . . .

Upon a quick venture downstairs, I’ve discovered Lena and our youngest sister are making apple muffins. I approve of that ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am wearing . . .

A light-gray top (cap sleeves, with a cute kind of miniature turtleneck), the softest blue denim capris I’ve ever worn (they’re like butter!), a black ponytail on my wrist, light makeup.

Oh, and speaking of makeup . . . recently I did something that probably no one else notices, but I’ve really enjoyed; that is, I stopped wearing eyeliner 99% of the time. It wasn’t that I was wearing an inordinate amount (it was pencil and a charcoal/gray/blue color, so not even very dark, and I wore it to just enhance) but I came to a crossroads of being just tired of putting it on, and wanting to lean towards a more natural look for most occasions. I kind of wanted to follow the muse, What am I realistically going to wear as a wife and mom?

makeup

Honestly, I’ve loved not putting it on and having a slightly fresher look for my face, while still feeling put-together and dressed in the way a small amount of makeup does for me.

I think I would still wear a little eyeliner for special pictures or really dressy occasions, but most of the time now, it’s off.

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Well, Saturday I made cornbread muffins from scratch! I don’t recall having done that before. We were having a potluck dinner dance that night at our parish, so I pulled an apron on over my dance attire (it was a Southern barn dance theme, so yellow plaid for me) and threw together a recipe Mom had found. I was hot, but it was fun, and I was proud in that classic girl-who’s-just-made-muffins way.

A note on projects . . .

So, the Rooted & Grounded in Charity post series has finally wrapped up! Honestly, I hadn’t intended for that to be my last post, but I ran out of September and so therefore, the last post it became ๐Ÿ˜‰ I thoroughly enjoyed it, but find myself excited to return to normal blogging, too. There are so many random little things I can post about now . . . although, of course, courtship inspiration material is never-ending, and may appear here at any time . . .

Teaching at co-op is going well so far this year! I adore the kids (they are so precious, and to have some of them recognize me and come up to me outside of co-op just melts my heart!), and as any sanguine would, I enjoy getting out and seeing so many families; even the 70-mile round trip of driving is fun (especially when every song that’s special to The Dash and I’s relationship is streaming through Bluetooth on an intentionally crafted Spotify playlist . . .). Granted, being the homebody that I am, I’m more than happy with the fact it’s just once a week . . . but it’s still delightful. I finished planning for tomorrow’s class a few hours ago. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will end the first quarter! Quarter 2 will involve a lot of preparations for Advent presentations, which I’m thrilled about โค

I’ve been journaling almost every day for the past few weeks. I haven’t done this consistently for what feels like so long, but I’ve made it part of my morning routine as a way of putting down everything on my mind . . . it’s so beneficial. Also, I journal in pencil . . . it takes some sort of mental pressure for perfection off of me, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

In any event, it’s easy to journal when you have something so lovely like this hardbound piece of feminine perfection (subjectively speaking) which was discovered at Wal-Mart for $5:

journal

I recently cleaned out my inbox (that short phrase contains a gargantuan amount of inferred work), reorganized my folders, and caught up on at least 90% of my sadly neglected correspondence. That was so gratifying to get done!

In an attempt to not waste nearly all of my teenaged years, I’m attempting to re-write an old story . . . or, really, to just delve into it again and let it surprise me. Again, it’s in pencil. I was able to work on it both Friday and Saturday and am determined to keep at it, if only to email scenes to an interested cousin to whom I’ve promised installments at some point. The things we do for cousins.

Also, I rearranged my desk last week, putting my monitor on the left side and freeing up the right-hand desk space for writing (like it’s supposed to be, but occasionally I’ve changed it up for variety’s sake). It feels like a new work space and I love it!

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I am reading . . .

Ah! Last month, I read Crime & Punishment.

On a whim, I checked it out (on The Dash’s card . . ) when he, Lena and I were at a library one afternoon in August. It amazed me. The psychological depth of Raskolnikov, in particular, was beyond compelling, and the ending genuinely surprised me. It was pitiful, engrossing, morally instructive in a masterfully artful way. I’ve never read anything like it but would absolutely read it again, simply because the characters “lived” inside my mind in a way I haven’t experienced in a while.

Also, at the end of August I read By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand – a birthday present. I devoured it in two or three days and I love it to pieces. I highlighted a passage from nearly every letter, and I think it would be a wonderful thing if every young woman hoping for marriage were able to read and absorb it. It edified me in so many small ways, and confirmed me in the joy and worth of the state of life I’m anticipating so eagerly.

“Union necessitates that the two persons remain fully themselves, clearly separate – yet bound to each other by “the golden chords of love.” A husband and wife who love each other become one, but in so doing, they don’t cease to remain fully themselves, two clearly distinct individuals. In fact, mysteriously, through loving union with each other they each find themselves and their own unique individuality in a new and deeper way.”

But currently, I’m still reading Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture by Michael D. O’Brien (deep and rich) and The Privilege of Being a Woman by von Hildebrand (also deep and rich). The Dash and I are reading the Book of Tobit (RSV) together. I’d love another novel, though . . . hmm, what about North and South?

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

From The Privilege of Being a Woman:

The female psyche is more responsive to the personal than the impersonal. Women respond thus intuitively, without much deliberation, because they “feel” that persons rank infinitely higher than nonpersonal things . . . Edith Stein further claims that women are more interested in wholes than parts. Their minds do not dissect an object; they grasp it in totality . . . Because their minds and their hearts are closely related (their minds work best when animated by their hearts), their grasp of persons and objects does not fall into the traps which threaten specialists, who no longer see the forest because of the trees . . . {John Bartlett} expressed: “Woman are wiser than men because they know less but understand more.”

Courtship is such a tremendous blessing, and The Dash and I are unified on the path and timeline we believe God is asking of us, but it doesn’t make it always easy, or doesn’t prevent some weeks from feeling long and mundane . . . the past few weeks have had some great moments, but on the whole have been rather hard. That’s just part of life and is sanctifying if I approach it with the right disposition!

But it’s also thought-provoking . . .

Waiting to meet someone is incredibly hard, and I empathize so much with girls who are waiting to meet their future husband; I’m also learning that waiting to be able to move forward to betrothal and marriage (and all those large and small joys that come alongside them) with the person God has sent you is its own kind of Cross. This is when heroic love in little things is called for; St. Therese’s Little Way!

Things are rather intense on both sides of our courtship. The Dash has just a little over 2 months left until he graduates college (hallelujah!) and a huge slew of obligations containing, but not limited to, work and school and everything. My side is certainly less busy than his, although I’ve got duties and tasks of my own with teaching and family, helping out, writing . . . however, as a woman, my heart is operating under theย  consciousness of everything that is challenging, hard, worrisome or time-consuming for myself and The Dash, at the same time.

Like the quote above expresses, I find myself instinctively grasping things in totality. The totality of The Dash and I’s current spot in our relationship; the totality of how this is an intensely demanding season of life for him and my wishing I could help somehow, even in ways that I can’t; the totality of feeling and caring and thinking about it and all of its tangents . . .

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One night, my youngest sister was trying to instruct me on how to take a “natural” selfie. We figured out that I just needed to open my mouth, since apparently I talk enough to render that my “natural” look . . .

Right now, some things are really hard; some things are simply part of the daily grind; some things bring joy; some things require perseverance. As a woman, I sense and feel and carry these things in a very distinct way; one that God intended from the beginning of time. Courtship awakened this deep aspect of femininity in my heart in a way I hadn’t experienced until now. And that’s what I would want to try and find the words for, for any lovely and faithful young woman who’s waiting to meet the man she will love and is struggling to remain brave. Her womanhood is going to make love a beautiful cross. Her love, her courtship, is going to start asking her to become an adult, a woman. Instinctively, her heart is going to carry the totality of things without much compartmentalization . . . which is a dazzling gift, and yet can be very heavy.

It’s a lot sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚ But . . . it’s the privilege of being a woman. And I am so very grateful.

On living the Faith . . .

Daily Mass stream; fighting the daily interior battle for faithful prayer; coming close to completing my yearly renewal of Total Consecration, but having been totally humbled by how patchy my efforts have been; picking up Lives of the Saints for today’s post and knowing I should read from it daily; trying to live virtuously and humbly rely on God for the strength to do anything virtuous at all. Sometimes it is so hard to do the smallest things well. Often, it is so easy for me to be lazy about praying. But we can only begin again today.

Our parish is going to start offering an evening Low Mass on First Fridays; I am so excited to have the opportunity to be able to attend First Friday and First Saturday Masses, back-to-back, at “home”!

Yesterday’s Mass was That Mass at which all the littles in the congregation had their turn for a meltdown, with that muffled chorus of outraged screams emanating from the narthex that doubles as a cry room. Although their dear parents might have found it a tad stressful, I couldn’t stop smiling at the sounds of our community: a community bursting at the seams with new life and lovingly accepting the noisy, messy beauty of its youngest generation. If I’m blessed with children one day, I have no doubt they’ll join the ranks of screamers (on occasion).

Prayerfully . . .

So many things on my heart to pray for, but especially for a friend who very recently suffered a tragic loss. Your prayers for the repose of a certain soul and the comfort of a family would be so appreciated.

And we are embarking on the month of the most holy Rosary! It seems the perfect time to post a prayer, long ago prescribed by Pope Leo XIII for the month of October, after the recitation of the Rosary:

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength.

Most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.

Sig

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July is (random observations) . . .

July4

. . . hot!!!

As in “put my hair into a bun every day” hot.

I snapped the above picture after a (hot) day of cleaning, laundry, and canning pears on Monday (although I was one of the much lesser contributors to the whole canning enterprise. I was cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes after the canning, etc…) Lena is in the background, her hair also in a bun. We Donellan women are putting our hair up, people. In the words of The Dash, “Look out.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

July3

A delightfully clean bathroom. Unfortunately, I am too proud to show the “before” picture. I did send the “before” photo to The Dash, so you can rest assured that however proud I am, I’m not that proud.

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At one point during the canning process, they called me downstairs to factor an accurate(ish) ratio of pectin to pears, based off an online ratio table, which was oriented around 7 cups of pears per batch. We eventually discovered we were dealing with 12 cups per batch. So how much pectin would that be?? (13.5 tablespoons, more or less.)

July1

We have been canning fruit practically ever since we moved to our current home (seven years ago, this September). The builders/previous owners of this home planted blueberry bushes, horse apple trees, pear trees, and a fig tree. We were thrown into “Canning 101” when we wound up with more fruit than we could consume in cobblers. (Although we can consume a lot of cobblers, I assure you.)

Monday, Mom, Lena and youngest sister made jar after jar of Holiday Spice Pear Preserves (or pancake syrup, depending on how much pectin was used per batch; either way, a success!) . . . which are, frankly, sumptuous. Cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg heaven.

July6

Here is banana pudding, replete with milk and preservatives and rich deliciousness: once-a-year dessert finery. We always make it for one of the summer American holidays (4th of July, or Memorial Day, or Mother’s Day . . .). I’ve had the honor of making it the past couple of years. So far, it has survived me mixing the wrong ingredients together and mildly scorching the pudding. That’s what strainers are for.

However, right now *sigh* I’m done with sugar . . . I know it’s been affecting, at least somewhat, my hormonal health (or, really, lack thereof) and how I’ve been able to deal with stress. Taking it away won’t fix everything, but it will certainly improve the landscape a little!

July2

Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night โค For the curious-eyed, The Dash is wearing an apron I received for my eighteenth birthday, bearing a picture of Johnny Gage and the phrase, “Genius at Work” (a reference to theย Emergency!ย episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth ๐Ÿ™‚

July9
Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re only a few days away from our 10-month courting anniversary! Each new month is a blessing. Tuesday night, my family and I showed The Dash a treasured secret of our secluded mountain road: a fantastic yearly fireworks show on top of a nearby hill. We pull off onto the side of the road, arrange ourselves on the grass with the help of some lawn chairs, and soak in the display like villagers watching castle parties from afar. At first, we thought They (The Party People) would be setting off the fireworks last Saturday night, but after pulling off the side of the road and listening to the frogs croak for an hour with nary an explosion, The Dash was (understandably) rather skeptical of their existence (the fireworks, that is–not the frogs). Fortunately we were able to regain his faith ๐Ÿ˜‰

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There is a beautiful (if intense) 54-day novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii that fell into my lap only a few days ago, thanks to a friend emailing me this homily.ย It is challenging, consoling and uplifting–and, as with all things under God’s Providence, perfectly timely. The whole text is here.

Yesterday I took some time to read a little of the story of the origins of devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii, along with the story of Blessed Bartolo Longo,ย as well as prepare a long list of intentions for this novena. Something that’s dawned on me is that, the greater your intentions, the greater your suffering or anxiety or desires . . . the greater your prayers should often be. Prayer is our most powerful recourse, and it should grow in proportion to our needs.

July11

And finally, a walk this morning! Much-needed and very brisk. I somehow managed to walk to the cadence of two poems the entire time, mumbling them under my breath . . . hopefully I didn’t look too insane . . .

July8

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now, far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.

July10

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .

A blessed feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to you all, and happy Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig

7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 15 :: Photo journal edition

MondayTakes

Enjoy previous rambling installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

JMJ1

1.

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Today has been fairly busy . . . I got up, somehow managed to wash all my laundry by 10am or so, dusted and vacuumed the bedroom, cleaned the girl’s bathroom (and finally scrubbed the shower! Ugh!), ran errands with my brother, talked with The Dash on his lunch hour ( โค ) and then settled in for an afternoon of catching up on multiple correspondences (which I’ve neglected pretty badly, and I’m still not caught up all the way . . .). I also continued work on a project due next month . . . and I played around with *guilty cough* an iPhone that was generously given to me by my aunt (Mom and Dad were also given ones).

Currently I can use it for anything other than calling or texting, as Tracfone is still engrossed in transferring my phone information to the new SIM card. (Earlier, I actually did my first online chat with a worker, trying to troubleshoot . . . a new experience! And now I am doing it again. First it was Genevieve, now it is Rick. It is much better than being on the phone . . . sanguine though I am, I’m still too shy for that!)

However, right now I can use the phone to take pictures! (And eventually text them!) I find this rather ridiculously exciting, as this has been something I’ve been unable to do previously.

But anyway. I’m rambling way too much, even for aย Rambling Takesย post. I took this picture while taking a quick rest on my bed. Over the past few days, The Dash and I have had conversations about courage and St. George: how, in a certain sense, courage isn’t something you receive that then enables you do something you’re afraid of, but is rather something you gain after acting while afraid.

Last Advent, Lena was my Kris Kringle, and she secretly left me this beautiful holy card of one of most well-known and best-loved of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Just simply looking at this image inspires me with the courage that comes from Christ; the courage St. George exemplified by his holy martyrdom: the courage I need today and always!

2.

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There were lots of thunderstorms today . . . but now we have a lovely, tranquil summer evening! It reminds me of the prayer of Sarah out of the book of Tobit: the prayer I prayed so many times while waiting to meet The Dash, and the prayer we have started praying together recently:

For Thy counsel is not in man’s power. But this every man is sure of that worships Thee; that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to Thy mercy. For Thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm Thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping Thou pourest in joyfulness. Be Thy name, O God of Israel, blessed forever!

It is a prayer of beautiful trust in the midst of any difficulty.

3.

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A goofy picture, taken by my (obviously taller-than-me) brother while I was cooking supper.

My hair: as of a few days ago, I’ve been trying to wash it less. For years upon years, I’ve been in the habit of washing it every day (which, of course, makes it produce an insane amount of oil after just one day sans washing). I know that if you go a little longer and only wash it a few times a week, it helps your hair grow healthier by improving and regulating oil production. In fact, I’ve recently really enjoyed showering right before bed, pulling my hair back, and letting it air-dry overnight. I wake up and the curls are softer and bouncier and easier to style.

In this picture, however I’d done neither of those things ๐Ÿ˜‰ A mid-morning shower and a blow-dryer. Such is life.

4.

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Ahh, our blueberries. I have literally been having homemade oatmeal (with almond milk), a little granola, and blueberries almost every morning. They are too good. Thank heavens the couple who owned our house before us had the inspiration to plant numerous blueberry bushes. If we’re blessed with a good year, we get gallons and gallons of them.

Needless to say, this is a good year!

5.

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This was my aftermath of prepping chicken strips to go into the oven. (I am notorious for cleaning as I go [and annoyingly cleaning up after people when they aren’t], but this was one process in which I couldn’t…)

It took longer than I thought it would . . . but it’s a good recipe. For us, we cut three chicken breasts into strips, then season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Dredge the strips in a little flour, dip them in 2 eggs beaten together with a splash of milk, and then dredge again in breadcrumbs. We bake them on 375 degrees for 25 minutes or so, on cooling racks placed over our cookie sheets (which are covered with aluminum foil) and are sprayed thoroughly with nonstick spray. (Although I never seem to spray thoroughly enough. I’ve had a rash of things sticking lately . . .) We also spray the chicken with the nonstick spray. It may seem weird, but it does help it get crispy.

I couldn’t seem to decide if using my hands or metal tongs was the slower method of doing all the dry-to-wet dredging . . . either way was messy . . . but delightfully domestic. It’s the third meal in a row I’ve cooked (Lena and I went in together Friday night, though). My siblings are being heroic in enduring my “it’s-not-quite-Mom’s-cooking.”

6.

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However, the chicken strips turned out pretty good! We cut them up and ate them on salad with homemade chipotle sauce . . . long ago, my uncle let us in on the secret that you can replicate it wonderfully by mixing Ranch dressing with Louisiana hot sauce.

They stuck to the racks, though. And I won’t entertain you with the Story of the Homemade Fries I Baked On Aluminum Foil On Friday Night, Thinking Olive Oil Was Enough to Keep Them From Sticking.

7.

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The Dash bought me some dark chocolate the other day . . .”Just because I love you.” โค He couldn’t be more wonderful, I know.

The funny thing about these chocolates: they have “inspirational sayings” printed on the underside of each foil wrapper. I am tickled by them (and their relative, well, lameness). In fact, yesterday after Mass, I was so tickled by one that I had to text The Dash while sitting at the kitchen table and snickering at the little foil wrapper. Our paraphrased-from-memory exchange was as follows:

Me: My Dove Chocolate of the Day states: “If life isn’t going right, go left.” I knew you couldn’t live without that priceless gem of wisdom.

Dash: So your chocolate is telling you to become a leftist?!?

Me: I presume so . . . or at least a terrible relativist.

Dash: I don’t think this chocolate is a good influence on you.

Me: I know. But what’s the alternative? Give this bag full of bad advice to (younger sister)? I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience.

Dash: It seems the only clear way to preserve the minds of your loved ones is to ensure you’re the only one influenced. You’ll have to sacrifice and eat all the chocolate yourself.

Me: That’s what I was thinking. Since I’ll be acting in the face of fear, I’ll expect that with each chocolate I eat, I’ll receive the courage to eat another one. By the bottom of the bag, I’ll be super brave.

Dash: . . . or, if not, we’ll try again with another bag.

This guy knows what he’s doing ๐Ÿ˜‰

A blessed feast of St. William to you all!

Sig

 

 

Beginning with Slippers . . .

St. Nicholas, by TintorettoYes. Yesterday, I did have plans to write up a post on how our Feast of St. Nicholas had transpired. Even now, with no technical “littles” in the home, it’s remained a special, tradition-and-nostalgia-studded day for us in our Ecclesia domestica. In fact, I’ll go further and admit that I tend to forget just how much I dote on the Feast of St. Nicholas until it arrives . . . and then I Dote on it and, throughout the day, constantly reflect with a litany of blissful smiles on how I can’t wait to carry it over into my future one-day home.

But of course, I find myself here, on the 7th, typing about it belatedly while still in my pajamas (the reasons for which I will explain shortly). However, better late than never! So, onward with my descriptions of our Feast of St. Nicholas!

The Slippers

We don’t have sacred “St. Nicholas Day” slippers, per se, but only a jumbled, furry pile or two, in our respective closets, of slippers we hardly ever wear. We’re not frequent slipper-wearers, I suppose. But these piles get dutifully raided for the Feast of St. Nicholas.

However, itย is a sacred custom for us to mutter repeatedly throughout the day on the 5th, “Don’t forget to put out the slippers before bed,” and then subsequently forget. Consequently, on Tuesday night, our parents were asleep and all of us kids had already traipsed up to bed before we remembered Gasp! The slippers! So, hoping I’d find enough pairs, I dove into the closet, then trotted down in the dark with my arms full of fur to line up the slippers on our brick fireplace, next to our small wood stack and homemade Jesse Tree (we are four days behind on our daily ornaments, however . . . just to paint a prosaic picture of normal Catholic family life).

I came down the next morning for my morning tidy-and-pray routine. The master bedroom door opened. Mom: “Mary, you know what we forgot!!!”

“The slippers,” I replied dutifully.

“Can you go get them?”

“They’re already here,” I replied, even more dutifully.

Mom scurried back into the room and eventually emerged with The Grocery Bag containing the magic contents. Taking the cue, I exited the room. By the time the rest of the siblings trundled downstairs, St. Nicholas had graced our slippers with chocolate and peppermint, and our fireplace with our old St. Nicholas picture books.

The Books

As usual, we set out several St. Nicholas picture books, but we’ve agreed a few of them are a little hit-and-miss. One historical version we have was, most likely, written by a good-willed Protestant who calls St. Nicholas “Pastor Nicholas.” Erm. Initially, we took a pen to the book and wrote-over “Pastor” with “Bishop,” just to help things out. All in all, it’s an all-right book, but we wound up just leaving it out for display this year. It has a nice cover!

Instead, Mom read aloud The Baker’s Dozen, which is my personal favorite, playing less with the actual historical life of St. Nicholas and more with the celebration of St. Nicholas’ feast day itself, weaving a charming “legend” with the theme of holy generosity. This tale will definitely be the one I turn to with my own future kids snuggled about me on St. Nicholas’ morning.

There is nothing that captures nostalgia and helps everything fall still like a picture book being read aloud. You are never too old for it!

The Cookies

Cookie

And, to make The Baker’s Dozen even more delightful, it included a recipe. Lena (whom we also call Martha the Baker . . . she is an insatiable baker. Insatiable.) was delighted. She and our youngest sister joined forces and baked the most charming (and delicious) St. Nicholas cookies, shaped like a bishop with crosier and miter, iced with white and red. I think we’ve baked cookies in the past for St. Nicholas’ Day, but never something so home-liturgically perfect as these. They will definitely become a tradition!

The Mass

At 11:30, Lena and I prayed along with the Mass at Fribourg,ย and discovered that St. Nicholas’ feast was a significant celebration for this particular FSSP parish in Switzerland.

It seemed they possess a relic of St. Nicholas, which the good priest brought forward for veneration immediately following Mass and the “Alma Redemptoris Mater” (he had a beautiful voice for chant, by the way), which made sense since the Credo was offered during the Mass, though St. Nicholas is usually only a third-class feast in the Old Calendar. It all was beautiful. The Mass included a homily in French; I squinted and nodded knowingly throughout it.

Collect from the Mass:

O God, Who didst adorn the blessed Bishop Nicholas with countless miracles: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the flames of hell.

Meanwhile . . .

It’s kind of a shame that St. Nicholas isn’t the Patron Saint of Unusually Vigorous Household Cleaning. The night of the 5th, on my self-made dry-erase calendar, I wrote “Cleaning” in big purple letters for Wednesday the 6th. The first few days of the week had been too busy for me to get down to my weekly chores, so I knew Wednesday needed to be the day in which I went through the usual rounds of cleaning and disinfecting the girls’ bathroom and dusting/vacuuming the bedroom, etc. So I embarked on the first stages of cleaning after we read aloudย The Baker’s Dozen. However, I got bitten by some foreign insect that injects passion for cleaning into one’s very blood, and it took hours to work out of my system.

It all started with the shower. Our shower has been the bane of my existence for some time now. It’s a white shower/bathtub combo with sliding glass doors and eighty thousand places in which icky things can build up. The shower floor was remaining a perpetual gray no matter how much I martyred myself over it. There is nothing so disillusioning for a young (appearances-oriented sanguine) homemaker-in-training than to clean something that refuses to look clean.

However . . . my beloved mother bought some fiber scrubbing pads for me last week, and my whole world changed. I will forever remember December 6th, 2017 as the day in which I actually started laughing with delight when I scrubbed and the grayness on the shower floor obediently vanished. Poof. So I went a little crazy and spent the next forty minutes cleaning every aspect of that shower that I possibly could. And the rest of the bathroom . . . but the shower was the biggest treat.

And then, after recovering with some water, a salad, and chocolate (because salad and chocolate invariably cancel each other out), I thought I would do a quick dusting, since I’d already worked hard.

However, I wound up dumping out and cleaning my desk drawer (innocent on the outside, notorious for clutter within), my nightstand, under my bed. I threw piles of things away, organized and rearranged the rest, dusted and vacuumed nearly everything in site . . . even the ceiling fan blades and the prayer altar. I rearranged my desk and shelved more books. For most of the afternoon, I was a crazy-haired dust bunny in sweats and tennis shoes, and a shower was most welcome by the end of it all. But it was so worth it. One arrives at the point where surface cleaning no longer suffices, and the results of a deep-clean are immensely rewarding. That was my day.

The Remains

Dad had to be out for the evening, so we sent some of our St. Nicholas cookies with him to give to friends, and then Mom and I cooked chicken fajitas for everyone else. After dinner, continuing our newly established Advent wreath tradition, we lit the first candle of the Advent wreath, prayed the Collect from the First Sunday of Advent, and softly sang “Creator of the Stars of Night” from that Sunday’s Vespers. (By “newly established tradition” I mean that, while our family has always had our Advent wreath and special songs and prayers for Advent since time immemorial, there were a lot of little songs and customs that have been gradually laid aside as our youngest have grown older and we come to be more inspired by the traditional liturgical beauties of the Faith!)

The Collect:

Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

After loading the dishwasher and hand-washing the dishes that wouldn’t fit, I had one more spurt of the cleaning frenzy and dispersed all the clutter from our kitchen island. And then . . . I was done. I ambled into the living room and joined the siblings in a drawing/guessing game we’d learned over Thanksgiving with our cousins: so hilarious (thanks to our collective lack of artistic ability) that we laughed till we cried.

Eventually we settled down and prayed our family Rosary; Lena suggested we make a small detour from the traditional Glorious for Wednesday and instead offer the Joyful Mysteries, honoring in a small way the First Wednesday Devotion to St. Joseph. (While this link to Catholic Tradition doesn’t specifically mention the Joyful Mysteries in connection with this devotion, a newsletter from the Benedictines at Ephesus did, and Lena is an expert on their newsletter contents ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

And then it was my turn to pick out a movie. After some deliberation, I realized I’d been wanting to watch The Fellowship of the Ring for quite some time, and promptly stuck it in the DVD player. (Perhaps Gandalf arose in my subconscious after thinking so much about St. Nicholas. Who knows.) We made it until Caradhras before surrendering and going to bed.

These movies are so wonderful and nostalgic, but at the same time they make me crave to read the books again . . . there is so much more to Tolkien’s story and his characters than what’s feasible to portray in film. I may just start doing that soon; I had resolved, back in September, to commence a re-read, but never found time . . . of course. (Also, after breakfast this morning, Lena and I have decided that, as much as we appreciate Viggo Mortenson, the late Alan Rickman would have made a truly amazing Aragorn Elessar. But the intricacies of Aragorn are better left for another post.)

I pray your feast of St. Nicholas was blessed! And, of course, a very happy feast of St. Ambrose today!

P.S. The reason I’m in pajamas? I slept in after all that hard work yesterday ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 5 (On the Feast of St. Andrew)

Daybook

Read more installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, and the beginning of the St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

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Hail, precious cross, receive the disciple of Him Who hung upon thee, even my Master Christ. * The blessed Andrew prayed saying: O Lord, King of eternal glory, receive me hanging on this gibbet. * Andrew was the servant of Christ, a worthy Apostle of God, the brother of Peter, and likened to him in his martyrdom. * Christ’s dear handmaid, Maximilla, took away the body of the Apostle, and buried it with spices in an honorable place.

Antiphons at Vespers

Outside my window . . .

A late-November downpour: a misty, gray wetness clinging to the nearly-bare trees; red leaves shivering under the rain. For over a week, the weather here has been almost unfailingly bright and beautiful. This sudden change has a stark beauty in its own right, though, and also reminds me of what Strider and the hobbits might have traveled through after leaving Bree; cloaked and sodden, trudging quietly on with their heads tucked down against the miserable weather.

Sounds throughout the house . . .

Rainfall on the roof; Lena giving our younger brother and sister a lesson in Bible History downstairs. Accompanying chatter. Pippin (the washing machine . . .) chugging away from the laundry room, full of my youngest sister’s clothes, as it’s her washing day. The printer clicking and whirring in the study.

I am wearing . . .

Yet another football shirt (strangely, I always seem to be wearing these on Daybook day, which provides an embarrassing lack of variety . . . I do wear other things, you know), casual, gray drawstring pants with a yellow and white stripe running down either side, tennis shoes, Miraculous Medal, hair in a loose bun against my neck.

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

An innocent parody of Mother Teresa seems appropriate here: Thanksgiving is gone; Christmas has not yet come; we have only today; let us begin dieting!ย Finally, the all the lovely delectations are out of the house and my digestive tract is beginning to awaken and thank me for no longer dumping Thanksgiving-sized amounts of sugar and starch into it.

Last night, the guys were gone yet again, which provided yet another opportunity for culinary experimentation. Mom came up with a delicious ground-turkey, onion, green bell pepper, chili powder, parsley, salt, pepper olive oil, garlic, russet and sweet potato hash, all done in a cast-iron skillet. Ahh, it was amazing. This Irish girl could live solely off potatoes. And I kid you not as to the euphoria I experience when I remember I’m having it for lunch in a few hours ๐Ÿ˜‰

A note on projects . . .

Yesterday, after about a week of slow consideration, list-making, budgeting and brainstorming, I balanced my checkbook and accomplished some early online Christmas shopping. I haven’t done everything, but it’s a pleasant feeling to at least have finished Round One ๐Ÿ™‚

But ah, yes; it’s time for a miniature reveal. I have hinted at an ongoing project here–one for my mother’s birthday–numerous times without offering any details. However, as I can safely talk about it now, here goes!

It’s a daily planner, centered around the liturgical year and based upon the Old (Extraordinary Form) Calendar/1962 Missal. It begins in Advent of this year and ends on the Last Week after Pentecost in November 2018. I had the idea around half a year ago, spent weeks designing it, but my creative wheels ceased to turn as I grew unsure of what to actually do with it. However, a few weeks ago my mother asked for one for her birthday, so I picked up the reins I’d dropped and put it through a re-design.

She has her copy in now and, like the best of mothers, has both loved it and offered helpful critique, so I’ve been busy making tweaks here and there in my editable documents. I’m not sure what the future holds in terms of designing more planners, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it (even with the eye strain) and would love to share a peek with any interested readers! So I compiled my monthly “at-a-glance” pages, which are included in the planner, into one document and uploaded it to the blog for free download and printing. If you’d like, check it out here ๐Ÿ™‚ Below is a snapshot:

Calendar_Dec

I am reading . . .

Continuing to read, as and when I can, Raise Happy Children . . . Teach Them Virtues! I have not picked up War and Peace for a little while, but not for lack of interest . . . probably just lack of time. I remember precisely where I am, though. Pierre’s father is in the last stages of his illness, and Pierre (bewildered as ever) is being ushered into the house (through the back way) by the quite capable (to put it mildly) Anna, even as within the house others are plotting to keep the inheritance away from him.

For a prayer group, Lena and I are both reading A Map of Life (and for me, it’s a re-read), and once again I am in awe of the contents of this book. Every paragraph contains enough truth, clarity, and profoundly simple insight to, physically, give me chill bumps. We’ve been reading it aloud to one another, which in my opinion is the best way to share an excellent book ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially an excellent book I only had to pay 99 cents for . . .

Freedom is usually defined as the power to do what one likes. Accepting the definition, one sees instantly that the power to do what one likes may be the goal, but doing what one likes is not necessarily the road to the goal. In the bodily order, eating what one likes, for instance, may very well be the very solidest hindrance to doing what one likes, and a certain prelude to suffering what one very much dislikes. It is only by doing as one ought, that one attains a condition in which one has true physical freedom, the uttermost freedom possible to the body. And the same truth applies exactly to the soul. Freedom, then, is not to be attained by doing what we like unless by chance we like what we ought: which brings us back to the true purpose of our being and the laws by which our being may progress towards it. Apart from that is only loss.

F. J. Sheed. A Map Of Life (Kindle Locations 201-207). Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

I just now came across this old quote I’d saved, years ago . . .

โ€œOur old analogy of the fire remains the most workable one. The fire need not blaze like electricity, nor boil like boiling water; its point is that it blazes more than water and warms more than light. The wife is like the fireโ€”or to put things in their proper proportion, the fire is like the wife. Like the fire, the woman is expected to cook, not to excel in cooking, but to cook; to cook better than her husband who is earning the cook by lecturing on botany or breaking stones. Like the fire, the woman is expected to tell tales to the children, not original and artistic tales, but tales, better tales than would probably be told by a first-class cook . . .”

-G. K. Chesterton, The Emancipation of Domesticity

Yesterday afternoon, my parents and I fell into conversation about my father’s workplace that day, and about the stress a woman was going through due to her daughter having broken her arm at school. The scenario reminded me strongly of how motherhood is, truly, a full-time job. I can’t begin to imagine the stress of trying to sustain two full-time jobs; something, surely, has to give. To me, in the futuristic sense, nothing would ever be worth bartering away my place at home with my children . . . that sacred place, full of hours unnoticed by the world, in which I can be content to be a fire that blazes more than water and warms more than light.

On living the Faith . . .

Preparing for Advent . . . which means, I suppose, preparing for preparation ๐Ÿ˜‰

Prayerfully . . .

It’s the last day of the Month of the Holy Souls! Let’s all make special offerings of prayers and sacrifices for their relief and release today. Be mindful, O Lord, of those Thou hast redeemed by the shedding of Thy Most Precious Blood.

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Collect of St. Andrew:

We humbly entreat Thy majesty, O Lord: that as the blessed Apostle Andrew was once a teacher and ruler of Thy Church: so he may be a constant advocate for us before Thee.

Antiphon at the Magnificat for Vespers:

When the blessed Andrew had come to the place where the cross was prepared, he cried out and said: O good Cross, so long desired, and now made ready for my longing soul! I come unto thee with confidence and joy; do thou also joyfully receive me, the disciple of Him Who hung upon thee.

Let’s also pray to have this heroic courage and fidelity of St. Andrew!

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