Mid-summer Feast

Merry Christmas! I know it’s not December, but June 24, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, is often referred to as “Summer Christmas” because it is exactly six months from Christmas.

The cult of St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ is very ancient, which makes this such a multi-faceted feast both in the liturgy and traditions connected to the feast. To touch on a few highlights:

A Birthday Celebration

The only other births that are celebrated in the Church's Liturgical Calendar are the birth of Jesus on Christmas, and the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th. Jesus is the Son of God, so He is always without sin. Mary was immaculately conceived, having no original sin and staying sinless throughout her life. Church tradition states that while in St. Elizabeth's womb, upon hearing Mary's voice, John the Baptist's soul was cleansed of original sin as he leapt for joy. The Church celebrates St. John’s birth and death, but usually saints' feast days are celebrating the day of their death, marking their birthday into heaven — the first day of their eternal reward.

….Read the entire article at Catholic Culture….

7 Quick Takes — Gardening, Piano, and Heart Edition

Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes:

Seems I can never make that Friday posting!

1) Tomorrow is Pentecost! I have a new posting at Catholic Culture on this feast day. I had such distractions this week it was hard to overcome the writer’s block. I touched on how this feast is connected with Easter and how you can find the four classic elements within the feast: earth, wind, fire and water. I have my fruit and red tablecloths ready.

My boys think it’s so neat that I have a website and that I write. I now tell them when I’m working on an article. They ask about it and contribute suggestions. With my husband and boys providing the support and time to write, I can see how I could make time to work on a larger project, like a book.

2) I did a little catch-up post this week, When Life Gets Busy. We’ve had baseball, Memorial day visits with Nana, and just life in general. Baseball update: We won the last game, and are in first place. Our next game is Saturday, and if we win, championship game is the next Thursday. And baseball camp begins that same week of the end of the tournament.

What I didn’t mention in my last post is that our garden is finally planted…except some final seeds. It was too soon after my heart surgery to start seeds for our garden this year, so my husband and I agreed we would just buy plants this year. The plan is mainly tomatoes and herbs, with a few jalapenos, eggplant and okra, with lettuce planted at various times. I was really pleased that a local nursery, Merrifield Garden Center, had such a great selection of organic and heirloom seedlings.

IMG_1738 IMG_1744 IMG_1739 IMG_1741 IMG_1742 IMG_1743We have 5 boxes, following the Square Foot Gardening method. We replaced one, but next year we will replace the rest, as they are starting to look shabby. I usually keep one boxes for cut flowers, and some spots in other boxes for more flowers. I admit, right now the garden looks a little bare. I’m excited because I have the tomatoes already staked and we replaced our little fences. They are shorter and easier for me to access the garden. We will see if they will keep the rabbits from nibbling.

3) Today was our oldest son’s end of year piano recital. This was his first year playing. All I have is video, but he did really well. Our youngest son will begin lessons in the fall. Before today, he was hesitant, but he now is ready and willing to begin. It was inspiring for the boys to see other students who belong to our homeschool group and also attend the atrium.

There was a reception afterwards, and everyone was asked to bring a little something to share. I always try to bring something safe to eat for our son who has allergies to eggs, wheat and milk. I baked cupcakes, but I learned a long time ago to put some aside at home and serve a plate very early in the reception so he can have his own safe food. Even if I label the food as “gluten and dairy free” kids will be attracted to the cupcakes with icing (or brownies, or anything sweet). Today was vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting with sprinkles — a child’s delight! They were gone in 5 minutes.

This is the main reason why I rarely do potlucks. We don’t eat much of what other people bring, and I hate fighting off other people to make sure we get enough of our “safe” foods. I know, I’m an old curmudgeon, but it’s hard for me and for my son to always have to think about what can we eat that’s safe.

4) I mentioned that I had a cardiologist appointment last week. I’m not going to let myself worry until next month. The symptoms aren’t debilitating, just concerning. And it might not be anything and I’ll get reassurance that I’m on the right track.

But I’m dealing with other melancholic thoughts. While we were in the waiting room on Wednesday, surrounded by many older people dealing with heart problems, I realized that I will be dealing with cardiac problems the rest of my life. I’m one of those people who will always been needing a cardiologist, and, unless something else crops up, this is what will bring me to my grave.

5) On a positive note, my medical appointments have been a blessing for our marriage. With my high-risk pregnancies, heart issues and other medical issues, my husband has tried to come with me for most appointments. So these times become our “doctor dates” — time in the car to talk, and if our sitter is willing, we get to have lunch together, too. It is time to process together and just time to be together. My husband has been such a source of comfort and strength and support through this all. I am completely blessed!

6) My oldest son is extremely sensitive to my heart issues. He worries. He doesn’t talk about it much, but we have had a few instances where he has shown that it is on his mind. I have to be careful what we say around him. He asked me a few times what did the doctor say. For now, it’s nothing to worry about, so that’s what I tell him. My prognosis is good for now.

Both our boys need to be checked and monitored for possibly inheriting this condition of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I’d rather it just be me, than have to worry about my boys.

7) It seems that I’m gaining weight post-surgery. When you’re petite like me, even though it’s a few pounds, it shows immediately. I need to lose weight anyway, so adding even just a few more makes it worse. I know my age and major trauma to my body makes it harder to lose weight. Regardless of the reason or amount, it is so depressing! I’m working out more now…walking, jumping on the mini-tramp and lots of T-Tapp. I used to do T-Tapp more often, and it’s nice getting back into the habit. Tonight was the Step Away the Inches and lots of Hoedowns. My Fitbit is helping me keep to my goals. I also am amending my diet, also. I think eliminating dairy will help kick start. But progress is painstaking slow…and just so depressing when it’s swimsuit season.

Join Jen for other 7 Quick Takes.

When Life Gets Busy

A little post of updates, photo heavy.

1) Blog updates: How long has it been that I made the announcement that I’m updating my blog? Too long. I’m working on moving to a WordPress.org site. It’s taking longer than I planned, as the transfer didn’t got as smoothly as I hoped. I’m not even to the design stage. This is an opportunity to clean up my categories and posts and photos and it all takes time. I’m in no rush. It’s a learning experience, but it’s also a wonderful feeling to “clean up” the place. My computer doesn’t cooperate, so it all takes longer than I planned.

I’ve been “hitting the books” from the library to get some extra help with WordPress. How pitiful is that? It would be nice to have the extra cash to pay someone to do this, but I’m happy to learn something new.
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Time for Podcasts?

I know podcasts and webinars are not recent technology, but there seems to be quite a bit of expansion in this area in the Catholic and homeschool world.

Now, I’m the first one to admit that when I do listen to podcasts or webinars I have gained and learned so much. They are a blessing.

The problem is, I rarely listen to them. I do not have that extra alone time that allows me to listen to long recordings. And if I find the time, I prefer the silence. I need times of silence.

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The Feast of the Visitation

Our parish just added a new mosaic portraying the Visitation. You can see pictures and a video at our diocesan paper. It’s exciting to have a visual for the feast we celebrate tomorrow.

I wrote some thoughts regarding this feast at Catholic Culture:

The Church closes the month dedicated to Our Lady with the Feast of the Visitation falling on the last day of May. This feast celebrates the events described in Luke 1:39-56, with the Blessed Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation. The feast arose from medieval times, with St. Bonaventure introducing the feast to the Franciscan order in 1263 and it being extended to the universal Church and added to the General Roman Calendar in 1389. Originally the feast was celebrated on July 2, but with the 1969 Calendar Reform the feast was moved between the feasts of the Annunciation (March 25) and the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24).

While the Visitation has great spiritual depths and truths, there is the human and familial element that easily identified by all, especially children. This is not a feast that has many traditions or customs attached, rather it inspires prayer and contemplation on the spiritual and prayer elements, the pro-life and familial aspects, and the role of charity in our lives. Go to Catholic Culture to read the rest….

Solemnity of the Ascension: The Feast Who Was Thursday

The sixth week of Easter and the Seventh Sunday of Easter is a liturgical time with a bit of an identity crisis. This week was often referred to as Rogation Week before the revision of the calendar in 1969, and the Solemnity of the Ascension is traditionally celebrated on Thursday. But much of that has changed, or varies depending on where one lives.

Monday through Wednesday before Ascension Thursday marked the traditional minor Rogation days. As I mentioned last week the current General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar which revised the Liturgical Calendar in 1969 did not abandon this liturgical tradition, but dates and celebration of Rogation Days is now determined on the local ordinary or authority.

Thursday will mark forty (40) days after the Resurrection. Depending where you live will determine whether you will celebrate Ascension Thursday or Ascension Sunday. In the United States, only the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia continue observing Ascension Thursday as a holy day of obligation. Ecclesiastical provinces usually follow state lines, but some provinces cover more than one state. So 1/5 of the states celebrate Ascension Thursday: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.

I’m not writing to question the pastoral reasons for moving the solemnity to Sunday and removing the obligation, but making the case that if we follow the liturgy of the Church, even if the Ascension is moved to Sunday, we need to observe the Ascension on Thursday in small ways……Read the rest at Catholic Culture….

7 Quick Takes — Reading, calligraphy, health and SOTG Review edition

Joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

I just couldn’t make this post happen before Saturday. Fridays always seem to be the worst at finding computer time.

1) Reading — We are a reading family. Reading is happening CONSTANTLY by all members. We get two newspapers a day and then there are the books,  streaming in and out. My 10-year-old son is reading all things by Jules Verne, on his third story now.
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I’m So Grateful

Tuesday is one of our busiest days, with art class, piano lesson, atrium, confession, and usually the library after atrium. To add the hectic schedule, our son had baseball practice, meaning an early dinner.

The day suddenly changed after I dropped off my nephew and son at art class. On my way home, the low oil pressure gauge started blinking.

I know little to nothing about cars, except if any warning lights go off on the car, it’s a warning to heed immediately. That light means pull over.

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7 Quick Takes — Allergy, Gardens, Calligraphy, Websites and Dead Fish

Joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

1) Did this week go quickly for you? I don’t have much physical to show for it. The last two weeks have really been perfect for pollen. My allergies are bad this season, but manifesting in different ways. I got over the ear infection and the allergy medicines are helping prevent the sinus headaches, but the downside with the medicines is they are drying. I already have chronic dry eyes, but this tipped the scale. I had such itchy painful eyes and headaches that I had to see the eye doctor. Good news that even though the symptoms were horrible, my eyes aren’t  too bad a shape. I have some eye drops to help, and I might be able to try contacts again at the end of the summer. Bad news is the eye drops are VERY expensive, even with insurance.

My eyes are feeling a bit better…if I stay indoors. As soon as I go outside, the pain and itchiness and headache returns.

2) I did write a few articles at Catholic Culture. Two book reviews and something on one of my favorite saints:

I’m working on a big post for my own blog…it’s been 5 months since my heart surgery and it’s really been on my mind lately.

3. Our vegetable garden is not in yet…but probably will finish in a few days — still trying to get it done around St. Isidore’s feast. I did get some of the front garden weeded and trimmed and planted a few petunias. We did fix our garden boxes, although we are short on our soil mix…so two boxes didn’t have enough soil. Apparently my math skills are not returning since my surgery.

4. Today was my dear nephew’s First Holy Communion — my youngest brother’s oldest child. He’s such a sweet boy, I shed many tears today seeing his beautiful innocence.

DSC_0662webI did some calligraphy for his gift:

FHC calligraphy webMy SIL and her sister think I need to open up a shop on Etsy, which was a sweet response! It’s nice to make gifts, but would a person be willing to pay for handwritten and painted work?

I also finished something for my sister’s in-laws:

50yearsweb(Photos courtesy my sister Fuzzy.)

I will keep plugging away at the calligraphy…these things take time, but my husband agrees that I need to start selling. I don’t have my shingle out yet on the web, but if you’re interested, contact me.

5. Our little goldfish died, 2 weeks after winning him from our parish festival. The irony was it died right in the middle of us watching Finding Nemo for family movie night. Oh, and by the way, fish do not always float on top when they are dead. Ours went belly-up but was lying on the bottom.

6. I’ve been avoiding drinks with caffeine for over 8 months. Friday night my husband and I enjoyed an evening cup of coffee. It wasn’t until this morning that we realized that it was fully caffeinated. That would explain the TERRIBLE night’s sleep last night. I kept trying to figure out what was keeping me awake, as I didn’t think I was worried about anything. What a relief to know it wasn’t me…and also a reminder that avoiding caffeine is the best for me.

7. I’m almost there to transferring my blog to my own domain. I am hitting the books for some WordPress information, and there are many files that need to be updated by hand. I’m excited to make the switch…and plan on having some giveaways when I unveil.

Working on my website really exacerbates my current computer woes. I haven’t made the plunge to by my new computer but it’s soon. I’m just slow to make big purchases, and the change to Apple makes me really nervous.

Bonus 8. SOTG launch party is over. I entered quite a few…but kept asking myself why would I because I never win anything!!!!! But I would have bought her book, given it as gifts and reviewed it anyway because it really is so awesome!

See the Other 7 Quick Takes.