7 Quick Takes, Middle of Lent Edition

Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

How is your Lent progressing? We hit the midway mark this week, and it culminates with Laetare Sunday! Rejoice! We are almost there!

1) I’ve got a new post at Catholic Culture: Understanding Our Family’s High Feasts. I’m probably in a small minority, but I find the twists and turns of the Liturgical Year fascinating, and I always want to learn more. So my post is not talking about anything particularly edifying and spiritual; it’s just about understanding the Church calendar better to fall in love deeper with Christ and His Church! There is such wisdom and planning behind the Liturgical Year!

2) I have found it interesting that while less screen time for me was not an outright resolution for Lent, it has happened that way. I have had loads of ideas for posts and lots of computer things to do, but no time to get to the computer. This is obviously the positive/negative effect from resolving to get back into the school groove, be present for my boys, and enjoy family time. There is just no time to check my email or write a post if I’m playing Qwirkle (BTW, Best game ever, even for non-readers!), reading with my son who is newly reading, or coloring or painting or writing together. And we haven’t even added outdoor time because the weather has been so changing.

3) Plus, I’m tired and my brain is in a fog, and even worse by evening, the time I could write. And lots of headaches. And really problems with waking up in the morning. None of this is conducive for clear thinking. Is that a detox brain for Lent? Or still post-anesthesia effect? Is it allergies? Or is it just me? I don’t know. I’m just trying to be patient and offer it to God. I keep thinking more fresh air and exercise will help.

4) It’s interesting to realize that while I had some HUGE health issue that has mostly been resolved by open heart surgery, it’s not my only problem. There are other nagging problems that are rearing their ugly heads. It’s time for a chiropractor for one problem. If I don’t, then no exercise, and no exercise means no improvement.

4) Don’t judge me, but when my husband had dinner with a friend this week, I bought a rotisserie chicken for the dinner for the boys and me. They love it, and especially love eating the drumsticks. My young son thought of a perfect solution to the problem of only 2 legs per chicken. “What if the chicken was a centipede chicken?”

5) My youngest sister (and goddaughter) is expecting number 5! Fuzzy helped fill in with updates here while I was in the hospital. I’m so excited for her! But keep her in your prayers, as she has really rough, high-risk pregnancies.

6) She gave me a replacement Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker for my birthday. I use this all the time to cook my chicken. I have two, but one had multiple hairline fractures. She was very concerned that it would break, hence the generous gift. But the timing couldn’t be better. I discovered the older one officially cracked up (safely in the cabinet) and no longer usable on Wednesday, and she gave the new one to me on Thursday!

7) I’m really excited about a new book my husband bought for me! It’s by George Weigel, called Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches. There was a nice writeup in the WSJ a few weeks ago. My husband and I love the Station Churches of Lent. I hope to write more, but this book is amazing, and it can be used as a daily devotional in Lent, because there is a station church for each day of Lent. Fantastic! It has photos done by his son Stephen, some are color, some are black and white. The art and architectural history is written by Elizabeth Levy. I just realized she writes occasionally for the Magnificat in the back section that features the art. It is a very big book, but SOOOO good!

Keeping it simple and posting early. Amazing!

Join Jen for other 7 Quick Takes!

7 Quick Takes, Sunday Edition

Joining Jen for 7 Quick Takes.

I followed her lead and acted like an adult and didn’t blog this until Sunday. I’m still dragging from the time change.

1. I have a new post on the The Annunciation: Celebrating New Life at Catholic Culture. We are keeping the Solemnity low key. We will attempt morning Mass, of course there will be dessert, but no homemade delicious delicacies. I have coloring pages, and previous posts of ideas here and here. For singing, I love to use Story of Redemption in Chant for Children, a free .pdf to download. (I have the original which is in color that I keep meaning to scan!) The Annunciation is sung to Creator Alme Siderum, a very simple chant to sing.

Dr. Jeff Mirus also posted An Open Letter to All Users. If you have room in your almsgiving budget, please consider Catholic Culture!

2. March 25 also marks the end of wearing my event monitor. I will be so relieved. I have such a rash from the electrodes.

3. Our local homeschool group held a yard sale of used family items. We decided to give away all our baby items and clothes. My maternity clothes will go next. I know there is a huge chance of Murphy’s Law coming into effect, but if I do suddenly become pregnant this close to 50, then I will deserve to have all new items. How’s that for a good attitude?

4. I’m behind on updating that my son received Superior for his piano festival. The notes from the judges were positive and helpful. They complimented his smile, his preparedness, and most importantly, that he seemed like he really enjoys playing the piano. They nailed that observation. It’s so pleasing to see him enjoy the piano.

5. We started baseball practice this week. The season opens April 5. Only our oldest will be playing this season. His former team was disbanded so we are with another coach. I’m a little apprehensive as his style is quite different. My husband is helping, but he’s not an official assistant this year. He has reassured me that I can set my pace, and it’s not necessary to attend everything, which is a relief. He’s helping, but not an official assistant, so that will also ease our stress.

For me, the biggest stress of baseball season is meals. Evening practice and games means better planning and early dinners. But I’m up for it — as long as no one complains about our quick dinner choices.

6. This week was also an opportunity for my son to attend a 4 day retreat at the local Catholic Montessori school where he attend atrium. The days were long for him, but it was such a wonderful experience for him that he truly enjoyed.

It freed up my week a bit to clean out the closets and work a bit more closely with my younger son. He is learning to read, but hasn’t had that “aha” moment when he realizes he can do most of this on his own. We are snuggling on the couch and reading daily.

7. Ever feel like you were Rip Van Winkle who just woke up and everything is different? One of my birthday gifts was to get some new clothes. I’m in need of a head-to-toe makeover, but I was just starting with slacks. The whole family went to the mall for a very disappointing shopping trip. I didn’t buy a thing. What happened to women’s clothing? The fashions today for women are not feminine. They don’t highlight feminine curves, but instead look more manly or genderless. My figure has never been without curves, so pants below the waist never work for me. But I do not consider it necessary to add elastic to the waistline. I think LLBean has the options I need for slacks. I hate not being able to try on before buying though, because my fit is so particular. I foresee several return packages, but maybe I’ll have better luck.

Bonus QT. While shopping I stopped in the Apple store. I’m in need of a new computer, and contemplating switching from PC to Mac. There are several things that scare me:

  1. cost of upgrading computer, software and making the right choices
  2. cost of upgrading the printer and scanner
  3. I was hoping for a keyboard with a numeric keypad, but apparently Apple doesn’t give choices. No such thing as a backspace key, either.
  4. But buying a PC also overwhelms me. I look at all the options for either Mac or PC and I’m like a deer in the headlights.

So how do I solve this problem? I don’t do anything. I’m afraid of change and commitment, so I hold back on pulling the trigger. I just hope my computer doesn’t crash before I finally make the purchase.

I have lots more to share, but I’ll stop now! See Jen for other Quick Takes!

Solemnity of St. Joseph

My birthday weekend was wonderful. Thank you all for the happy wishes and prayers. I have so much to be grateful this birthday, and I truly pray that this year will be uneventful, but full of growth and happiness and normality.

“God’s ways are not our ways”…but I can hope a little

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. This is a busy week for us, so I haven’t had much time or energy to do extra celebratory foods. I’m not apologizing — I am keeping things simple while I recover.

I did write a little post on Catholic Culture: Solemnity of St. Joseph: A Family Celebration.

And I finally uploading a 2014 supplement for the Lent for Children Daily Display. This contains only the Solemnities of St. Joseph and the Annunciation. Lent for Children Daily Display 2014 supplement

 

7 Quick Takes, Flying Solo Edition

Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

1) I have a new post at Catholic Culture: Feastday Highlights: St. Patrick and the Paschal Feast. I cannot think of St. Patrick without thinking of the Easter Vigil. I was hoping to finish my post on St. Joseph today…maybe by tomorrow.

2) I shared a couple of articles in my last two posts, Technology in the Home and Caffeine. My husband and I have had some good conversations about these.

3) I know all across America there has been such crazy weather this week. Almost 70 one day, howling winds and freezing temperatures the next. It makes it hard to set up a walking schedule…I don’t like getting blown around! That saying “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb” is very true so far! Tune in Sunday…where we get the next front with snow.

4) Speaking of lions, my boys have been creating out of cardboard boxes. I don’t have pictures of their little houses, but this one was the first creation by my youngest:

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Aslan with the animal kingdom. Plus the Nittany Lions all over the table keeps it in the same theme.

5) This was a week of firsts. I made it past my 3 month surgery anniversary this week. My husband is back on his work routine, so I was flying solo. Despite the Daylights Savings Time change (which makes me miserable), I survived. I shopped for the first time at Trader Joe’s since before my surgery. I still don’t have the upper chest strength, so I really had difficulty pushing my cart and lifting groceries. I think I might have to just do small errands or shop with my husband for the heavy stuff for a bit longer. I also vacuumed for the first time in just one room. I was a bit sore, but it wasn’t too bad. But I also cooked all the meals and slowly chipping away at the clutter. I’d say I’m at 80% physically. I still get tired and sore when I do too much, and the doctor says it’s to be expected.

6) And schoolwork is finally happening on a more routine basis. We’re getting into a rhythm of working with both sons, alternating quiet work for each. This was a huge obstacle before, but it’s starting to fall into place.

Am I at max level yet? No, I’m still in recovery mode, so we are adding back slowly. My main objective is to cover basics and establish some routine and self-discipline, which is probably the main area where we have suffered over the years.

I said it before, but it bears repeating just because *I* need to hear it often. I had a wonderful Monday afternoon with another mom and her children who live around the corner. She also is going through recovery from a high risk pregnancy and then premature baby in the NICU. We were comparing notes. We were in crisis mode and now we are in recovery mode. It may look the same for a while, but there is a difference. We are digging out and have a better attitude, because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

7) Happy birthday to me this Sunday. Dh is treating me to dinner tomorrow, and I can’t wait. I’m going to admit that I look forward to these little respites during Lent: my birthday, St. Joseph’s Day and the Annunciation. But it is always harder to get back on track with my diet.

See Jen for other 7 Quick Takes.

Caffeine

A little over 2 years ago I gave up Diet Coke. I talked about it here and here.. Can you tell it was a big addiction?

It took some time to get to the point where I didn’t even want it anymore. I haven’t had a soda in years. I do at times want a little carbonation, so I will drink Pellegrino with lemon or some other fizzy water. That satisfies my taste buds.

Removing the Diet Coke from my diet really improved my blood sugar levels. I was having such a difficult time dealing with lows and highs. It also increased my appetite for sugar, and made me retain weight. Besides all that, I could think clearly. I no longer had my daily headaches and fuzzy thinking. It was really a night and day difference.

At first, I turned to coffee for the caffeine replacement. But I am really sensitive to caffeine, so I found I was reducing the amount of scoops of caffeine to decaffeinated to reduce the jitters and irritation. A few months before my surgery I was down to 1/2 scoop caffeine to 5 1/2 scoops decaf. Then I decided even 1 scoop was too much, especially post-surgery I didn’t want to have to deal with withdrawal symptoms. So I went caffeine free. And since surgery, I’ve kept off the caffeine.

So while I drink and enjoy coffee, it has to be caffeine free.

Please don’t throw your coffee mugs at me. I enjoy the coffee taste, but I’m rather glad to not have the ups and downs of needing that pick-me-up in the morning and afternoon. I know it’s not a real drug addiction, but at times it seemed like it. I *needed* that cup of coffee to get me going. I found my car pointed in the direction of Starbucks to get that pick-me-up.

This week my husband sent me this article: Generation jitters: are we addicted to caffeine?

I could never handle larger amounts of caffeine, as it made me so jittery I couldn’t concentrate, defeating the purpose. But this is an article that has made my husband and I ponder caffeine in our life. (He’s going through some of the withdrawal effects from early Lent.) How did a small little cup of coffee turn into these megasized cups? Do we like what caffeine does to us? Do we want to be beholden to something physical to get us going?

And we would really like to get a caffeine tester. Wouldn’t that be a cool science fair project?

Technology in our Homes

Don’t miss Housewife Spice’s post Technology and Teens. My oldest is almost to teen age, and my husband and I have been discussing these at length. She has some great points and food for thought.

The same day, my husband sent me this article from this article about Parents not giving enough eye contact because of their phone addiction:

Parents are constantly being told to restrict the amount of time their children spend using phones and other gadgets – but their own technology habits could be equally as damaging.
Researchers from Boston Medical Centre studied a total of 55 caregivers, predominantly parents, while they ate in a fast food restaurant with their children.
They found that one in three parents used their phones almost continuously during the meals – and previous research has found a lack of eye contact and interaction with children can reduce the bond with that child.

Researchers also found that when parents spent a long time looking at their phones, their children had a tendency to play up and seek attention.

‘Caregivers who were highly absorbed in their devices seemed to have more negative or less engaged interactions with children,’ said behavioural paediatrics expert Dr Jenny Radesky.

However, this was not always the case, and in some instances the children were able to amuse themselves.

Dr Radesky and her team observed these interactions secretly, in order to see them in what they called a ‘real-life setting.’

There were 55 interactions and each interaction involved a child under the age of 10.
They observed five different behaviours ranging from parents who didn’t use their phones at all during the meal, parents who put their phone on the table but didn’t use it, parents who used their phone intermittently, parents who used their phone at the end of the meal, and those who used their phones throughout

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of the adults used their phone at least once during each meal.
More than 15 per cent used their phones towards the end of the meal, while the children were still eating, and continued to use it until they left the restaurant.

As well as playing up, a number of children became distracted when their parents were distracted and wanted to know why the parents were using their phones.

The findings will be published in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.
This is the first study to examine how children behave when their adults are using their phones.
Previous studies have found that young children, especially newborns, use eye contact with their parents, in part, to form a bond and learn about the world. Language is also developed in a similar way.

Limiting this face-to-face contact could cause problems with development and reduce the level of bond between a parent and a child – however, the researchers from Boston claim this study is just the beginning and more work needs to be done to make any conclusions about tech use in parents and child behaviour.

I admit I’m guilty of this at times. So both of these articles have been food for thought for my husband and me. Lent is a good time to focus on this, right? That phone or tablet can be off and away from me. Time to enjoy my children.

Working It Out

Every time I think of exercise, a.k.a. “working out” I think of a song from a Broadway musical, They’re Playing Our Song. My dad saw it live on Broadway, bought the record, and we enjoyed that as a family (minus a few things). We washed so many dishes to that record! “Working It Out” was one of the songs from the score.

And I am thinking about working it out — my body, that is. I haven’t been able to exercise well for several years. I’m glad to know there was a physical reason why (my heart), and it wasn’t just that I was out of shape. But as I get stronger every day, I need to really try to reintroduce exercise.

First off, I’m adding walking to our routine as the days get warmer, which I couldn’t even do since last summer.

I mentioned how my Valentine’s gift was a Fitbit. Unfortunately, I had to put the Fitbit on hold while I’m wearing this heart event monitor. Only a few more weeks until I’m done. And then I can track how much walking I’m actually doing.

And then there’s clothing. I’m not one to buy a new wardrobe just because I’m doing something new, but this is necessary if you saw what I have. What to wear?

I’m in dire need of new shoes…and I still call them “tennis shoes”! Showing my age! Have you seen the funky colors lately? We were in a sporting goods store and the wall for women’s shoes looked like a candy advertisement. Who knew that just desiring white shoes was so passé‎?

All the workout clothes are made for women who have already been working out and have a shape. There is no consideration for a woman who wants to get into shape, but her current shape isn’t something to show off. (I’m not even talking about modesty.)

And what about workout pants? I’m 5’2″ so I understand I need to hem or wear capris, but that’s the least of my problems. Apparently a simple unlined warm-up pant is no longer made. The shape of all the pants are tight, low-waisted, and tight. Did I mention they were tight? I can’t stand most of the materials, either. I like cotton. I want something breathable. The new fabrics are just new ways to use polyester. (I feel like I’m back in the 70s — the great manmade material! How I hate thee!) The polyester clings, becomes full of static and is not breathable. Yes, it’s supposed to “wick away” but folks, that is not the same thing as “breathable”.

Apparently in-shape women have no hips or stomachs. So if I find pants to accommodate my hips (which has always been wide, even without padding), the waist is way too big. And a big waist is a problem because the waist is low already, and falling down further will provide further exposure. I found a pair of capris that were a little looser and could tie in the waist. They are not great, but will work for now. My main objection is that they are polyester and I hate the way they feel and cling.

A few weeks ago I came across articles that were touting two women who are new designers of sports pants made for women. I checked them out — it’s the same old, same old. If I had the time I’d love to design workout clothing for REAL women.

I’m in big need of shirts. I wanted something that is a little v-neck, not too low to expose cleavage or bare my scar and cotton. I have some t-shirts that I just love. So I checked out several stores and scoured online stores, and here’s the fashion memo, ladies. COTTON IS OUT!!! All t-shirts come in this new wicking fabulous material that costs an arm and a leg.

But this weekend I hit the jackpot:

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$7 t-shirts by Champion. I bought 5. Now I’m thinking I should have bought 2 in every color, knowing they are such dinosaurs. The material isn’t as thick as I like, but they are the old-fashioned cotton workout shirts.

My birthday is Sunday, and I will be closer to 50 than 40. I didn’t think of myself as “old” until I went shopping for workout clothes. It’s a little bit of a twilight zone…everything has changed. If you have any preferences like me, take my advice. If you find something that you like, buy two of each color. You might need them for the next few decades.

St. Joseph’s Novena Starts Today

josephToday (March 10) begins the novena to St. Joseph, whose Solemnity we celebrate on March 19.

There are a variety of choices of novenas to pray, but my favorite is this Traditional Prayer:

Oh Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son, all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.

Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

I don’t think I’m up to doing a St. Joseph Altar this year, as I’m still on the road of recovery from my open heart surgery. My past posts on St. Joseph are here.

Do visit the FABULOUS Virtual St. Joseph Altar by Evann.

7 Quick Takes — Beginning of Lent Edition

Joining Jen for 7 Quick Takes.

1) I have a new post at Catholic Culture: Lenten Wake-Up Call. If you haven’t read Pope Francis’ sermon from Ash Wednesday, do take a minute to do so! One word, Wow!

2) I shared Lenten Meal Prayers in the post above. I am creating a a poster similar to what we use in Advent, but I can’t share it until Sunday.

3) How is your Lent beginning? Like I mentioned before, I admit to being the Prodigal Son already too many times to count. This is going to be a very long 40 days. And folks, I already have a really hard time getting up in the morning and getting into a good routine. Sunday being the beginning of Daylight Savings Time is just going to kill me.

And do you find that God always sends His personalized Lenten penance for you? Yeah, it’s always a doozy, custom fitted and tough penance. Considering it all joy!

4) I had a great honor this week. The National Director of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd shared my post on Lenten Contemplation in her Lenten message to all the members.

5) We enjoyed family movie night with my MIL watching “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye. Even though I have seen this movie dozens of times it still makes me laugh out loud. The script is so clever! Why don’t they make movies like this anymore? And there is no one like Danny Kaye.

6) For Christmas I requested a popcorn maker to get my family off microwave popcorn. (This article includes the reasons.) My husband was dubious, so he went with the less expensive option, West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. We use tasteless Spectrum coconut oil, as we can’t use butter because of food allergies. This has been the most popular gift of Christmas, and the gift that keeps giving. My husband is firmly convinced. We will never go back to microwave, and he thinks it is even easier to use than those bags.

The irony is I don’t even like popcorn! I rarely eat it.

7) I ordered some new items to refresh our pysanky supplies. My husband and sons are itching to start again. I’m eager, too. Next week will be more outdoor walking to enjoy the warmer weather, and pysanky for quiet work.

See Jen for other 7 Quick Takes.