28 March 2013

Good Friday

Crucify him, we say tonight.

Crucify him.

With every sin, every lie told to make myself look a little bit better, every argument where I refuse to be the first to forgive, every petty little remark that tears another down, every silence when I'm called on to speak truth, I crucify Christ.

Do you ever think of it? If I snap at my husband right now, I am adding to the weight of the cross on Christ's shoulders. But I'm going to do it anyway. I cannot imagine how a person could think that, could picture the suffering face of our redeemer and shrug indifferently as they pile more sins upon his breaking back... and yet I daily, hourly, slip into the little, habitual sins, telling myself they aren't so bad, or just humming to drown out the whispers of conscience that might make me uncomfortable with my actions.

Meditating on the Passion and death of Christ, recognizing that I, personally, directly, contribute daily to the unspeakable agony He suffered horrifies me. How can I willingly participate, lend my strength to the hands of the soldiers flogging my God, nailing the One who heals me to the cross? And how, how can I, Christ's executioner, be worth the price of my salvation?

Lord, let me today, at least, be so mindful of your great suffering that I would rather anything than contribute to it by my own thoughts, words, deeds, or omissions. Help me to see your face before me, to recognize what I do, to see sin for what it is. My Lord, my God, save me from adding anything to your Passion today.

I invite anyone looking for a tool for meditation today or tomorrow to check out the XIV project, a set of reflections on the Stations of the Cross by fourteen Catholic musicians. Not all have been uploaded as of my writing this, but the ones I have heard have been incredibly powerful.
Also, don't forget that the Divine Mercy novena begins today!

Triduum and Easter Preparations

We left behind the Lenten season last night, moving into the most solemn season of the Church year: the Holy Triduum. Was anyone else able to make it to a Tenebrae service? Hearing the Lamentations of Jeremiah sung and experiencing the sudden, dark silence really drives home for me the message of "This is real; pay attention, be alert, immerse yourself in these last few days of prayer and penance, or you won't be ready for the Resurrection!" Unfortunately, I couldn't find any parishes in our diocese holding a Tenebrae service this Lent. Hopefully next year!

We will be joining the university parish for Holy Thursday and Good Friday this year, because they have the earliest liturgies and Matt can just walk over from his office after work. Trying to bundle a potentially angry Little Bear into the car at bedtime for an hour round trip plus mass? Not a good idea.

There is still so much to do! So many things to get in the way of spending the next few days focusing on the Passion. Easter clothes to find, wash, iron... House to clean... Food to prepare...hot cross buns and Easter bread for us, something for the college students' dinner tonight, vegetables (and a dessert??) to bring to my parents' house... And just because I need to be even more crazy, we will be dying eggs.

Growing up, every year as far back as I can remember, we dyed eggs on Holy Saturday. And every year, my mother marveled that she hadn't followed through on the previous year's resolution to do it earlier in the week. Over the years some of my siblings began making pysanki, the ornate Ukrainian dyed eggs, over the course of Lent, but everyone still participated in the Holy Saturday ritual of writing on hard boiled eggs with white wax and dunking them in mugs of dye.

Last year, six months pregnant with Little Bear, I remarked to Matt that next year we would be dying eggs ourselves, and that I was going to try to learn from my mother and have them done *before* Holy Saturday. He looked at me blankly, and I discovered, to my shock and horror (pregnant women are allowed to be melodramatic), that he has never once dyed Easter eggs. He wasn't opposed, necessarily; he just hadn't, and didn't see a reason to do it.

"But... eggs! And symbols! And life! And... prettiness!"

So this year, we will be dying Easter eggs. And we will be dying them on Holy Saturday, so that Matt can join us.

Have a blessed, crazy Triduum.

24 March 2013

What I Wore Sunday {8}

Another last-minute Sunday, going from asleep to in the car in less than 20 minutes. I wish that didn't happen so often... we do have a good long drive to prepare for mass, though, so it's not too bad. We're getting this down to a science:
Wake up at 8:10.
Matt gets dressed and starts the car while I feed Little Bear.
I get dressed and pull a brush through my hair while Matt changes and dresses Little Bear.
Coats and boots on everyone and out to the car by 8:25, in order to make it to church by 8:50 for 9:00 mass.

Father reminded us this morning that our observances on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil are really all one liturgy; he pointed out that after he greets us "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" on Thursday, he will not give the trinitarian blessing again to close the liturgy until we reach the end of the Easter Vigil. To my shame, I cannot recall ever having noticed that before! I will have to pay better attention this Triduum.

Today's liturgical color was red, for which I was thankful: I could not think of anything purple to wear. I was feeling fairly proud of having remembered to wear the appropriate color three of the Sundays this Lent... and then I realized that 3 out of 6 would be an "F" if I was getting graded on this. Oh well.

Please ignore the ridiculous look on my face. Unfortunately, this was the best of the photos Matt took when we got home this morning!

Add caption

Cableknit sweater: thrifted
Skirt: thrifted or hand-me-down
Tights: Wal-Mart
Boots: same black boots as usual

For Palm Sunday attire that wasn't thrown together while dashing out the door, check out Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday!

22 March 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 24

Man, I feel like such a lazy blogger this week... haven't posted anything since my last 7QT, and that was late! Hopefully I'll be back into a more regular schedule soon. We've been busy lately, because...

...Squishy Cheerios keep appearing all. over. my. house. On the floor. On the furniture. In the folds of Little Bear's clothes. Stuck to our socks. Everywhere. He's rather fond of them. I'm rather not.

...Someone has been trying to learn to stand up by himself. This translates to pulling himself up on a piece of furniture, letting go, grinning and clapping his hands, and falling over. Again, and again, and again. It's adorable! Except for the falling over part, of course. I usually manage to catch him, but he's lunged away from me and bonked his nose a couple of times. Poor little boy.

...After standing, story time is still his favorite activity during the day. His lineup of stories he'll happily listen to has increased to six: The Fire Engine Book, I Am A Bunny, Counting 1 to 10, Whose Baby Am I?, There's A Wocket In My Pocket, and The Little Mouse, The Red, Ripe Strawberry, And The Big Hungry Bear. We have read each one at least five times so far today.

...Matt has been working strange hours this week, generally on short notice. We found out Wednesday mid-afternoon that he had to work 11-8 on Thursday... things like that really mess with Little Bear. About 5 yesterday he started saying dadadada and looking at the door; he expected his daddy to walk in, and became progressively sadder as time went by and Matt didn't appear. Today should be normal; I haven't heard anything about him having to stay late yet.

...Google Reader is shutting down! How frustrating is that? I've put far too much time this week test driving websites and apps people have suggested as replacements, and am not happy with any of them. I really hope that some other developers take advantage of the general unhappiness about this to come up with a good alternative!

...Glasses. How do you keep them from sliding down your nose when you look down? And how do you put them back where they belong when the baby sleeping on your lap has both of your hands?

That's all I've got. I'm sure you'll find plenty of more coherent Quick Takes over at ConversionDiary.com!

17 March 2013

Seven Quick Takes, Weekend Edition

Linking up late this week! I have semi-decent excuses, though; we've been crazy busy, and I was convinced that Friday was actually Saturday (thank goodness I didn't accidentally serve meat!). I'm taking advantage of my tardiness to kill two birds with one stone, linking up with Jen at ConversionDiary.com for Seven Quick Takes along with Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday!

Because he works for a university, Matt got a three-day weekend this week for spring break! It's not quite the ten-day span of adventures we enjoyed when we were in college ourselves, but still a welcome chance to relax.

Or not relax... We actually spent our "extra Saturday" running all over the place! Little Bear and Daddy held down the fort while I ran to an early morning chiropractor appointment, and I came home for no more than a half hour to eat, feed and change the baby, and get ready to go to...drumroll...our bank to talk with a loan officer!

The househunting feels a lot more real now that we have that fancy piece of paper certifying that we are pre-qualified for a home loan. Real in a we could actually have our own house! sense, and at the same time, real in an oh my gosh that's a lot of money sense. We haven't said "we want to buy a house by [date]" yet; we like our apartment, but knowing that our landlords intend to sell next spring, we decided it made sense to start looking around to see if the right house comes along.

So far we have looked at a couple of houses, and learned some good lessons: a)If the ad only shows photos of the interior, there's probably a reason. b)A lot of the homes near us are WAY overpriced. c)Driving through and checking out the neighborhood can help you decide whether to even bother setting up an appointment to view a house. The process has been a little discouraging, comparing the price we feel comfortable paying with the quality of house around Fairbanks, but it's early in the season; we should be seeing many more homes on the market in a month or two.

Somebody discovered Cheerios today. I wish I'd gotten a photo! He was so cute. Little Bear hasn't quite mastered the pincer hold yet, so the Cheerios kept getting lost in his gummy little fist as he tried to stuff them into his mouth. It was apparently great fun, and he seems to have actually eaten two of them, because not all of the ones that started out on his tray were hiding in his seat or on the floor afterward.

In his homily today, our pastor mentioned two different theories on what Christ was writing on the ground when he told the scribes and Pharisees that the one who was without sin should cast the first stone at the woman who had committed adultery: their names, or a list of sins (anger, pride, gluttony, etc). The list of sins especially made sense to me; as Scripture says, "the wages of sin is death." By reminding them that all have sinned, Christ extended to them an opportunity to acknowledge their own sinfulness by refraining from punishing this woman just because she was caught, recognizing that their hidden sins made them just as guilty in the eyes of God.

I finally manage to wear purple on a Lenten Sunday, and two-thirds of the congregation are in green. Sigh. St Patrick's Day is being observed liturgically tomorrow, but wouldn't the proper color be red? I thought he was martyred...
UPDATED: Matt corrected me; St Patrick was not martyred. The appropriate liturgical color would be violet.

The outfit:

White button down: thrifted
Purple tee: thrifted
Black wool skirt: thrifted (back in highschool!)
Wool jacket: Sears
Boots: gift from my mom
Glasses: Flexon

Little Bear got called Cinderella by Fr Robert today after he lost his shoe in the vestibule. These shoes, specifically their laces, are apparently enthralling: he was quiet all through mass, sitting still and playing with his shoelaces!

13 March 2013

Habemus papam!

We have a pope! I can't even put into words how excited and happy I am... Deo gratia!

I got the "White smoke!" text from PopeAlarm.com as I was changing Little Bear, and as soon as he was diapered, we ran out to the living room, turned on the computer, and pulled up EWTN while texting Matt and my siblings. Of course, EWTN had just been hit by a traffic surge and wouldn't load the live stream. Frustrated, I tried CBS. They were streaming fine, but the commentary... it wasn't bad, I guess, but it wasn't Catholic. I wanted to hear from people who were happy and excited about the election of the successor of St Peter, not people who were attending another foreign political event. I decided to try EWTN again. It worked! Little Bear and I were glued to the monitor (okay, we also danced and played with toys and ate celebratory cookies) for the next hour.

Every little change moving us toward meeting our new Holy Father was so exciting: the lights are on at the balcony! The curtains are moving! Shadows behind the curtains! When Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran walked out onto the balcony and proclaimed, "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam," I could not stop smiling. I was all set to pay attention to his next words, the Latin pronouncement of the new pope's baptismal name, surname, and new papal name... and then Little Bear yelled and squirmed away from me, and I only caught bits and pieces. His first name was... somebody Maria? George Mary? Nomen imposuit Francis!

"He took the name Pope Francis," I told the friend I was chatting with. "I didn't hear anything else for sure..." As I stared at the screen wishing the commentators would just translate for us already (EWTN didn't seriously send correspondents who couldn't speak Latin to the conclave, did they?), we could hear the crowd begin to chant "Pope Francis! Pope Francis!"

So much joy just came washing over me. I grew up knowing Bl. John Paul II as pope, and remember being excited about the election of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, but this was different, more personal... The first pope for whom I've truly paid attention and prayed throughout the interregnum and conclave, the first pope our son will grow up knowing... and when Pope Francis came out onto the balcony, smiled at us, and so humbly asked the people of the world to pray for him before he gave his first papal blessing! My heart melted. What beautiful humility. What a wonderful example, a touching and inspiring first act as pontiff. Already I love this man, our new father.

10 March 2013

What I Wore Laetare Sunday!

Rejoice! Laetare is Latin for rejoice, and the Church sets aside this fourth Sunday of Lent as a day to rejoice. Doesn't sound very Lenten, does it? When we think of Lent, we think purple, ashes, fasting, sackcloth. But today, the priest wore rose-colored vestments (not pink, rose) and the prayers and readings brought together images of joy and reasons for praising God.

In the first reading, we heard about the Israelites finally finishing their 40 years in the wilderness. We are almost done with our 40 days in the Lenten wilderness, too: next Sunday is Passion Sunday, and a week later will be Palm Sunday and Holy Week! The Gospel reading showed the great joy of the father when the prodigal son returned home. As we draw closer to the end of Lent, hearing that parable was a real reminder to me to look again at my own Lenten journey and make sure I'm still on the right track, heading toward the Father and toward our paschal celebration of Easter.

I may have failed at Lenten purple so far, but this weekend I definitely remembered to break out the liturgical rose! I suggested a nice, liturgically-correct rose-colored tie to Matt, but he was not interested. In his words,

It works well for guys with a darker complexion, dark hair, not this color of beard. It's like how you can't wear pale yellow, right? Plus it would be wearing a pink tie, and, well, that's wearing a pink tie...

I was going to applaud his well thought out, fashion-conscious motivation, but I think he lost a few points there at the end. ;-) Poll time: for my married/affianced readers, does (or would) your husband wear a pink tie? Would you like it if he did?

My outfit:

Corduroy button down: Motherhood Maternity, thrifted
Tee: not sure (old)
Skirt: thrifted
Boots (not shown): same as last time

In honor of Laetare Sunday, and because I had bananas sitting on the counter going bad, we're having a dairy-free banana cake with walnut-coffee frosting tonight! I don't think I've ever baked anything dairy-free before, so hopefully it turns out!

Go visit the linkup over at Fine Linen and Purple for more!

08 March 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 22

It's SPRING!!!! Glorious, beautiful, amazing Spring! I could use up all seven "takes" today with adjectives for how happy I am... It is 40 degrees outside right now. Forty! With no "-" in front of it! Snow is melting everywhere, water is dripping off the roof, slush is getting tracked into the house and I don't even care... I was able to use the windshield wiper fluid today without creating a layer of ice! So, so wonderful.

There's nothing like spring weather to encourage a little humility lesson. Today I was so excited to finally (finally!!!) be enjoying perfect weather, while at the same time so, so frustrated to be taking the baby to the doctor again. I pulled summer clothes out of my closet, defiantly stating that I didn't CARE that there's a reason this is known as "flu weather," I was wearing a knee-length skirt and short-sleeved tee anyway. I realized, after leaving the house, that the shirt, which was on the right side of not-quite-modest pre-baby, was definitely, um, more accentuating of my postpartum figure than I consider appropriate. "Too late now," I said to my driving-down-the-highway self. "I'll just keep my jacket on."

Did I keep my jacket on? In this heatwave? Nooooooo. I did try, but by halfway through the post-doctor-visit shopping trip I was sweltering. "I'm holding the baby in front of myself; I can at least unzip the jacket." Five minutes later, who do we run into? Our pastor, whose last homily was about not cheating when we've resolved to do things. Ugh. Sorry, Fr. Robert. We'll see you at confession tomorrow.

Little Bear's cousin, when he was younger, would dump his blocks out on the floor just so he could have the pleasure of putting them away neatly again. Those genes clearly did not make it into our side of the gene pool; pulling books out of the basket and scattering them across the floor has become a favorite pastime this week, but putting them back? Not so much.

While I'm not looking forward to turning back the clocks Saturday night, it will be good to get back into a regular schedule next week. Matt was on call this week, working funny hours that never seemed to let him get home in time for dinner. His turn comes up once every five or six weeks, and since he started working at the university almost two years ago, I don't think he has managed to NOT be on call for one of our birthdays. One of these years, it would be nice to have more of a celebration together than very quietly eating cheesecake and trying not to wake the baby.

Not having a real dinner time together has meant that I don't actually have to make dinner, though, which has been nice... as long as I remember to eat. I made sure a decent dinner went with Matt each day, but Little Bear isn't sitting down and eating meals yet, so most evenings I wound up eating chips and salsa or a handful of almonds as I ran around doing other things.

With 11+ hours of daily sun and gaining, sunglasses have become a necessity again. Most years, early March finds me digging through coat pockets and purses trying desperately to find my sunglasses, but this year I was so proud: I knew exactly where they were, on the shelf next to the door where I put them in the fall. I wore them for the first time this year on Tuesday. No more than an hour after proudly walking out the door wearing the sunglasses I hadn't lost all winter long, I forgot them in the Sam's Club shopping cart, not realizing they were missing until it was too late to be worth going back. I guess I've needed several lessons in humility this week. My mom was nice enough to lend me her spares until I find a new pair, which will hopefully happen soon!

Don't forget to check out more quick takes at ConversionDiary.com!

06 March 2013


We all probably know at least one person who sees every single thing that happens as a direct sign from God. Rain, sun, mud, unicorns. Whatever. Everything means something, and they have to act on it.

Most of us don't fly into a tizzy because Oh my goodness the used-car salesman's niece is joining a religious order how did he even know we're Catholic obviously we are supposed to buy this minivan! Unless, that is, you happen to attend our alma mater, where the ohmygoshhepraystherosaryeverydaytoo, we'remeanttobemarried! stereotype is unfortunately reinforced regularly.

But for the common mortal, not blessed/afflicted with the confidence that the earthworm they just flattened is a deep metaphysical symbol, how do we discern whether we are in fact getting a nudge from the Holy Spirit?

Matt and I have been discussing homeownership for a while now, but in abstract. Yes, we like the idea. Yes, we've seen some nice houses. No, we can't believe how expensive houses are. We haven't made any concrete moves, and while we are getting tired of seeing the rent money go out the window every month, we were fairly content to keep looking on a low-key level for another year or two while we saved up for a better down payment.

Today, our landlord called. Were we planning on renewing our lease in July? Because they want to put the house on the market.


Is the timing a coincidence? Some people would say there's no such thing. Is it a sign that we are supposed to start looking more seriously at buying a place? There's nothing preventing us from renting again... I don't know. I just don't know, and it's frustrating.

I don't want to play Gideon, saying, "Look, God, I know you gave me this huge sign of what you want me to do, but d'you think you could give me a sign that that sign meant what I thought it meant?" But I don't want to be all ohmygoshhepraystherosaryeverydaytoo either...

But really... how do you know?

05 March 2013


It's so easy to get bogged down by everything that's frustrating, or out of our control, or just not quite going the way we want it to... And I'm going to take a quick break from thinking about any of that, because complaining is bad for me. Instead, here are some things that have brought a smile to my face recently:

- sunny blue skies
- snow angels
- water dripping off the roof
- a baby sleeping in my lap
- long talks with my best friend
- playing on the snow bank with Little Bear
- rhubarb kuchen
- the sacraments
- a glass of chianti with my husband
- birthdays
- sleeping in
- dinner guests
- pretty glasses
- stories of saints
- sunshine! (did I say that already?)
- baby giggles
- the bathroom scale
- brisk walks
- picking Daddy up from work
- messy diapers
- storybooks
- "only in Alaska" moments
- glowing sunsets

What's on your list?

Also, happy birthday to my wonderful husband! who doesn't want to admit to how old he is today. :-)

02 March 2013

Optometry Adventures

We all seem to have survived this morning's three-hour trip to the eye doctor... Little Bear did pretty well right up until the end, when he and Daddy went out to sit in the car while I waited in line to take care of our co-pays.

The upshot of our round of tests and exams is that one of us has perfect vision, and the other has slight astigmatism and nearsightedness. Guess which one is getting glasses?

Me. Mrs 20/16. The glasses won't help me see any more clearly; they will (hopefully) cancel out some of the effects of my binocular instability. We've known about the condition for a while, but the last eye doctor I saw said that there wasn't anything we could do to fix it. I guess we will see.

Dr Mavenkamp gave us the best description of binocular instability I've heard yet: In most people, the eyes work together to present the brain with an image of what you're seeing. My eyes are instead competing for dominance, constantly adjusting their focus, each trying to present the image on its own. The closer an object is to my eyes, the more noticeable the focus-shifting, which explains why I feel like I "can't see" things as they get close. With farther-away objects, I'm not usually affected beyond seeing a faint, offset outline.

I went the glasses route once before, but stopped because they gave me headaches; if not for Little Bear I doubt I'd be trying again, but it's so sad to not be able to look down at the sleeping baby in my arms for more than a second or two before the inability to hold the image steady forces me to look away.

Because Matt isn't bothered at all by his vision, the doctor didn't think glasses were necessary. Lucky man. ;-) Maybe some day we will both wind up wearing them.

01 March 2013

Seven Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 21

Ever had one of those trips to town that just stretches on fffooorrreeevvveeerrr because nothing lines up quite right? That's been my morning:

Drop Matt off at 8. What's on the list today? Bank, dermatologist, mass. Gee, that doesn't sound bad at all... until I realize that the appointment is at 9, the bank opens at 10, and mass is at noon. What to do?

We live just far enough from town proper that it didn't make sense to go back home and take the baby out of his snowsuit just to turn around and go right back out, so Little Bear and I hung out at a nearby coffee house for about a half hour, when he started getting excited (loud).

Arrived at the dermatologist ten minutes early to check in, only to discover that 9 had been the check in time, and the appointment wasn't until 9:20. Entertained an increasingly unhappy child in the exam room for the next forty-five minutes, because the doctor was a little behind schedule. Good news, though: she thinks he has improved, and we don't have to come back for two more months.

When we got to the car, it was 10. Good, the bank is open. Drove all the way across town; Little Bear fell asleep on the way over, so I was very thankful for their drive-through option!

An hour and a half left before mass. Easily time enough to go home, but I knew that if I did, we wouldn't be heading back in. I'd had as much crazy as I needed for one morning. It's been a while since we made it to daily mass, though. And I miss it.

So how am I killing time? Sitting in the car in the parking lot of a store which I can't name, in case Matt is reading this, because I'm hoping that Little Bear will wake up soon and we can run in and get a present for Matt's birthday. The little munchkin is snoring away in the back seat, and I'm not about to wake him; it would be wonderful if he was well-rested enough to be happy and quiet all through mass.

Because today is a First Friday, many of the local Catholic homeschooling families will be gathering for a potluck lunch and activities after mass in the parish hall, and I'm hoping to join them. We will see how Little Bear is doing!

For many sets of quick takes much more interesting than mine, go visit ConversionDiary.com!