Friday, April 14, 2017

ChurchPOP: Your Definitive Triduum Chant Playlist

The three liturgies of the Paschal Triduum are full of beautiful, theologically rich chants most of which we only get to hear once a year in the context of the liturgy.

If you are like me, you never get to savor the depths of them while you are actually at Church. Even if I were not reminding that child to be quiet and this child to be still or wrestling with my toddler in back, the chants go by before I can plunge their depths.

Because of this I started listening to the chants for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday at home. Doing this helps me prepare my heart for the Triduum liturgies and give my children something to notice and enter into during the long days of the Triduum where the liturgical year slows down to the pace of the actual events of Christ’s life. They keep our home prayerful and peaceful during the busy Easter preparations.

So, without further ado, I present you chants and hymns from the Triduum...

Head on over to ChurchPOP for the list!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

My 7 Rules for Myself for Outings with the Kids

 I have a good friend who goes on what it seems like four outings a day with her kids ranging from play dates, to grocery shopping, to a museum, and finishing it off with the arboretum or zoo. We have her over for a morning play date and she has been somewhere already. She heads out for a big grocery shopping trip when she leaves our house. And she seems to draw energy from this--it is fun for her!

I think I must be her opposite. One outing, about 90 minutes long is fun for me, any longer than that, and things start to fall apart. But as it happens the outing are always longer than 90 minutes. Most place we go to it takes a full 30 minutes to get from the driveway, park the car, and get into the door of whatever place (unless it is the grocery store...). Yet, I have learned over the years, if I am going to take four kids on a long outing parenting solo, be it a friend's house, museum, zoo, home school co-op, orchestra, well-visit with the pediatrician, OB visit (when I am pregnant) etc. I have to do several things to keep myself sane.

Here are my seven rules for myself when I go on outings with kids, and I am linking them up with Kelly's seven quick takes!

1. The outing is the only special thing we do that day. The rest of the day is normal life. We get up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, do our outing, come home fed or before lunch, I coerce the people into their naps and quiet times, and then just savor the afternoon quiet...and then start dinner too late because I am wiped.

2. Bring the right stroller or baby carrier. The doctor's office requires an umbrella stroller for strapping the toddler into when necessary. The zoo requires the double stroller so that the toddler can't get away and for a tired kid to ride when necessary. The art museum does best with a single jogger because they won't let us wear backpack diaper bags on our backs and it is easy to maneuver. The wrong stroller ruins the outing. Orchestra is no stroller, just baby in a carrier as there is no room for strollers.

3. Make them eat a snack in the car on the way and bring water bottles. Full bellies=happy kids. Having kids fed before going out solves about 90% of mood problems (I may have just made up that stat). Plus, the other day we went to the zoo, and it was a lot easier to breeze by the refreshment stand with kids who had just had snacks and had full water bottles that way. Not that we ever buy concession food anyway, but they always want to ask.

4. Pack a lunch that they can eat in the car or before we go home. If I know we are going to get home after 12pm, a packed lunch is a necessity. I was not sure if the lunch on our zoo outing was going to be eaten at the zoo or in the care on the way home, but I knew that when we got home, there would be no need to feed anyone. We ended up eating at the zoo. We ate it walking from one exhibit to another, and the four year old and toddler ate in the stroller. You know that a stroller is basically meant to be a high chair with wheels, right?

5. Plan ahead and meet a friend there. My real pleasure in outings, besides going places with my perfectly mannered children (ha!), is hanging out with another mom and family that we love. That way the kids get to see friends (home school problems) and I get to see one as well. It is also helpful if the little people need help in the bathroom. We can tag-team guarding strollers or help reign in a wandering child. The other day at the zoo, I lost a child and my friend stayed with the other ones while I found my lost, sobbing child. It is all about the solidarity.

6. Do not push myself or the kids by staying too long and get home by quiet time. When I was leaving my weekend long silent retreat a last month, I called the professor to let him know I was on my way home. He mentioned that the toddler had only been napping about an hour; it was five o'clock. Then he explained that their outing had gone from about 11am-3:30pm, and I was like, "Are you insane?!" My day revolves around my 2-4pm quiet time, and I do not miss it except for very few reasons. He, however, seemed to enjoy breaking all of my rules while I was away. I, on the other hand, need the afternoon quiet to recharge for the rest of the day. I often get home later than I plan too, but we always make sure there is some time for rest.

The other factor here is the kids. People at certain ages and with certain introverted personalities tend to completely lose it after a certain amount of time out of the house, whether or not his or her stomach is full. We call it "turning into a pumpkin." Pumpkins tend to lose the ability to control emotions as they have no reason, and they don't listen to anything you say as they have no ears. I try to avoid my kids turning into pumpkins. The other day it happened because a pumpkin fell while running. It was all chaos with her after that...

7. Plan an easy dinner for that night. Who wants to cook an elaborate meal after being out and about all morning? Dinner has to be quick, and I will probably not start cooking it until 4:30pm, which is the time my conscience really makes me get off the computer or stop reading and get going on feeding people...

Note: The library is an automatic free outing for which I break all of these rules for. 1) It is like 5 minutes away. 2) We do it in like 30 minutes, and the toddler always comes home soaked because someone thought it would be a good idea to put a toddler height water fountain in the kids section of the library... why??!?!?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

NCRegister: We Veil Our Statues and Unveil Our Hearts at Passiontide

Traditionally known as Passiontide, the last fortnight of Lent is the time we are called to greater devotion and mortification. Now is the time to meditate even more deeply on Christ’s Passion. This is the time that the Church traditionally covers the crucifix and statues imitating Jesus at the end of the Gospel for Passion Sunday in the Extraordinary Form: “Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.” Many parishes have kept up or brought back the tradition of veiling holy images during Passiontide. In my home, we also cover our religious images and crucifixes with the traditional purple colored cloth to keep the Passion of Our Lord in the front of our minds throughout the day. Not only are we mortifying our bodies through our Lenten penances, but we now mortifying our sight. The veiled crucifix reminds us of how our sins divide us from Jesus; we cannot see him or be guided by him when sin rules our hearts...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

CWBN Conference Midwest: Writers Gotta Write


Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
 A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege to help organize the Midwest conference of the Catholic Women's Blogging Network. Nearly 40 women from across the Midwest gathered at a beautiful mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota to talk about blogging, network with each other, and support each other as Catholic bloggers. I also discovered that my mostly introverted self needed over a week to recover from the non-stop fun of the weekend.

When Anna and Jacqui asked me last summer to help them plan the conference, I was not really sure what it would all entail except that it would be fun. The work was definitely worth it, even if I was just on the back end of the planning. My co-planners had a vision for this conference, and I was happy to support that vision and help them plan. Which was probably a good choice since I have a lot of things on my plate these days. We managed to pull things together fairly smoothly, even with our last-minute location change. I had the pleasure of cooking way too much cabbage, chick pea, and wild rice soup for our Saturday lunch, and sending jars of it home with several people.
Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
The conference began with breakfast and short introductions. Then my sweet friend Nell gave a talk on networking, branding, social media use, and things along those lines. She was awesome as always. And her blog really shows her ability to do the things necessary to be authentic and network on her blog. Laura followed her up with a talk about writing--how and when to write. She gave great tips on how to plan writing, and how to actually do it.
Photo Credit: Katzie Truso
After lunch we had technical and writing workshops where our bloggers were ask questions about their own blogs and writing. Then Haley gave a talk about her own blogging journey through the forming of a mastermind group and how she manages and runs her blog. Last on the blogging agenda was a question and answer time with our three speakers.

Then everyone went to Mass, but I stayed back to rest... plus, we always go as a family early Sunday morning and the professor had been parenting solo for nearly 36 hours by the time I got home Saturday night...

Dinner from Gardens of Solanica was amazing; really I was just thrilled to be eating delicious meat...

If you want to hear more on the conference, head over to the link up at Jacqui's blog!

We ended the night with giveaways from all of our sponsors!

Some of the donated swag came from: Lily Jade, Nena & Co, Kiki Koyote, Hatch Prints, Brass & Mint Co, Mata Traders, Pink Salt Riot, and Magnificat.

Thanks to all of our sponsors for making this day so wonderful!

Also, thank you to our awesome ladies who helped in the kitchen all day: Amy, Kelly, and Cara!

Photo Credit: Katize Truso
Katzie took beautiful headshots of all of us bloggers. Check out her other work at her website.
My personal take away from this day is that I am doing the right thing for me in terms of the blogging and writing. After T was born (nearly two years ago?!??! what???!?!), it dawned on me that being a writer is not just something I do on the side, but it is important for me to do as part of my vocation. I am a wife and mother, teacher to my home-schoolers, and also a free lance writer. It is weird to say that "out-loud," but I have found writing to be part of my calling, something that God wants me to do. And when I do it well, on top of all the other parts of my vocation, I find a fulfillment in serving God.

My main goal for myself after this conference is to make sure I am writing something everyday--not necessarily something I publish--but putting words on the screen or on paper. Practice makes perfect, right? The other goal is to post more of #theprofessorsdinner on Instagram, and prove that I do not make extensive, complex meals every night...sometimes I make things out of a can...


Thursday, March 23, 2017

NCRegister: 10 Delicious and Simple Lenten Dinners for Fridays

Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens with Ezekiel Bread
 After eight and a half years straight of have a child dependent on me for nutrition through pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, I have window of time where I can practice a stricter form of fasting. I am learning firsthand how my soul is affected by my voluntary bodily Lenten practices so much so that I related to the collect in the Extraordinary Form Mass for Monday of the Third Week in Lent:

Pour Forth in Thy Mercy, O Lord,
we beseech Thee, Thy grace into our hearts:
that as we abstain from bodily food,
so we may also restrain our senses from hurtful excesses.

Scripture tells us that our fasting should be accompanied by an increase in almsgiving, but also that the discipline of our bodies, so inclined to concupiscence, leads to greater discipline in our souls. In the same way bodily excesses make it harder for us to live a life of virtue...

Read the rest at the NCRegister...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

BIS Devotion: The Struggle in Our Hearts

 I am over at Blessed is She today with today's devotion:

https://blessedisshe.net/devotion/the-struggle-in-our-hearts/?mc_cid=e2615a3f01&mc_eid=e8f0452374

I have a time-wasting problem. One that I have confessed again and again for years, and I know that to remedy the problem I simply have to use my time well. I use a planner, allocating time for each thing. It goes well in the morning, but then I get to the afternoon.

My children are napping or resting, and I waste that time. I scroll through the social media, justifying it to myself. Then I see the late hour, and I scramble to do the things I meant to do. I usually end up irritable with my children, and take out my impatience with myself on them. I start dinner late, we eat late, the kids are in bed late, and then my husband and I still have to clean the kitchen instead of having a nice evening. What seems like a simple moment to relax actually has an ill effect on my whole family...

Read the rest and today's daily Mass readings at Blessed is She...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Christ Did Not Say this Call was Easy...(BIS and NCRegister Posts)

Today is my devotion day over at Blessed is She. When I wrote this devotion about making sacrifices and the challenge of living out the Gospel in our daily lives, I did not know that would have also written about a very challenging application of it in loving our enemy and those in need at the Register this week.

I am seeing that what it comes down to is radical love and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Here are the posts and links to them:
----
The Temple of God

Every moment of even the slightest suffering that we bear, we can unite to His One Sacrifice. We can choose in our daily lives to habitually participate in Christ’s One Sacrifice, and through His suffering our suffering can bring grace into our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. For we are temples of God, and as temples, we are a place of sacrifice.

In the Gospel today Christ asks of us some very hard things: turn the other cheek, give away your cloak, go the extra mile, give to the one who asks of you, and love your enemies. These decisions are sacrifices. These choices unite us to Christ...

https://blessedisshe.net/the-temple-of-god/?mc_cid=8f13b8ffd9&mc_eid=e8f0452374&v=7516fd43adaa

I think about the kind of nation I would want my children to live in, and while I would love for them to have peace and prosperity, I worry more about their immortal souls than whether or not they will be persecuted. I know that they will be. There is no denying that. Christ told us so: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Christian has always been persecuted. The model of radical love is one that I want them to follow rather than that of cowering in fear behind the secure borders of our country.

It is time to overcome our fears and meet those different from us with radical charity, so that we might hope to be among the righteous.

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:37-40)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How I Find Time to Exercise as a Mom


6 week old G napping in the jogger at Delaware Park in Buffalo, NY.
Yesterday, for the first time since something like 2011, I ran 3 miles straight. The last time was between babies number 2 and 3. I had trained for a 5k mud-run, and it was quite fun. I have been running regularly whenever my childbearing has allowed me to, but I have never extended my mileage up to three miles again until now. So, I had to blog about it. Because it is very exciting for me to hit a "mile"stone like that. I would have gotten here sooner had it not been for my concussion last February which set me back to zero miles.

I am what I call an extremely casual runner. I am not fast (11 minute miles give or take), and I run about three times a week on a limited amount of time. I have to fit my exercise and shower into about 90 minutes, so I only have so long to run for. Actually, I am a little obsessive about running at least three times a week (and showering three times a week accordingly).

I became a runner in college after three things happened: my asthma was properly diagnosed, I had good orthotics for my flat feet, and my sister who was in physical therapy school at the time trained me how to run "correctly". All of the factors explained why I hated sports like soccer when I was in elementary school or "the mile" we ran each school year. It was torture on my feet and ankles. Yet, I persisted to learn how to run, mostly for the sake of being healthy.

I like running as exercise because it requires very little equipment, I can do it alone, I don't have to go to a gym, I can fit it into my daily life, and it helps my postpartum body discover its former shape (in as much as it is able).

I also dislike running. It is a struggle to get through my runs, one could say it is a mortification. I count down the minutes and count up the miles throughout it. I find it pleasurable during the first four minutes or so, and awful after that. Though sometimes I get to the end of my planned running time and feel good enough to go an extra minute or two, so I do. And that is how I increase my miles. But I always feel good after I have done it, so I continue to push myself to do it.

I started to fit regular exercise into my life at the end of high school and during the beginning of college. I decided on how many times a week I was going to do it, planned when I was going to do it and stuck to it. In college I often would wake up for 6:30am Mass, exercise, shower, and then go to breakfast. That routine worked really well for sticking with it. Once I became a mother, I had to adjust things.

After G (my first) was born, since I already had a habit of regular exercise, I got back into it at about 6 weeks postpartum. I had a jogging stroller and that was one of regular activities together. Having two babies through a wrench in my system. I did not want to jog with two, so the professor and I created a system of me going out for runs during the kids afternoon nap time. And we have had they system ever since. Nap times for all but the baby are nonexistent, but the older ones take a quiet time during the baby's nap. So, with the professor available, on days he does not work on campus, for all of the children's urgent needs, I can take 90 minutes in the afternoon to run and shower. They play and he works. That has been our system for 6 years now, and a very good one I might add. 

The main thing that has kept me exercising has been to make a plan and stick with it, and not checking the internet when I am supposed to be exercising. Every semester, the professor and I talk over his schedule. He tells me what days that he will be on campus, and then we plan when I am going to exercise. Some semesters I run on Mon, Wed, Fri. In others it is Tues, Thurs, and Sat. With my three times a week schedule, I also have plenty of physical energy for whatever outings, walks, and games the kids want to play as well.

And now for my confession: two things that keep me motivated to run are 1) my treadmill and 2) audiobooks. I used to run outside all types of weather, but I hated planning my routes and running in public. I am more introverted than extroverted, so I like to just go and run and be alone. The treadmill solves that problem. I will run outside in a pinch, and I do enjoy it when I do, but it is often easier for us, for me just to run at home... plus, hot Minnesota summers and cold Minnesota winters make it easier to stay inside. I love our local library's subscription to an audiobook app. I can borrow audiobooks through the free app and listen to novel after novel while I run. I "read" Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles last year, and am currently on a George Elliot kick. It is a great break for me to run and read at the same time. My mother used to demand I stop reading to play outside in the summer, and now I read and get my exercise at the same time!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Blogger Conference, Gluten, and more Gluten

1. In case you have not heard, or just forgot, or are still thinking about it, registration for the Midwest Catholic Women's Blogger Network conference is still open until March 11. The conference is in St. Paul, MN on March 25 with awesome bloggers speaking, such as Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas, Nell Alt of Whole Parenting Family, and Laura Kelly Fanucci, published author and blogger at Mothering Spirit. The link will take you to the conference Facebook page, on which you can find information about registration!


2. It has been a couple of months since I wrote quick takes. The family has all been well, just living life, enjoying an extended Christmas season. We make a point to celebrate all the way until Candlemas/The Presentation of Our Lord. This year I have really been able to relax with the season, as I wrote about for the Register yesterday. We *only* traveled to see family for 12 days over Christmas this year, and it was just the right amount of time to visit with family and friends back at our homes and not go too crazy being on the road. Because of that we had over three full weeks to get back into the swing of things before the professor started the spring semester. We also managed to get our winter stomach flu after the New Year instead of before Christmas this year, which was kind of the flu if one can call the flu kind.
3. One of my Christmas gifts this year was a pasta roller from my mother-in-law. At the beginning o my marriage, when I was homesick for St. Louis, I endeavored to make homemade toasted ravioli, and it took FOREVER to roll out that pasta dough. Now, it is easy peasy. We have been having a lot of homemade pasta. I really need to not push myself, and be okay with using the dried store-bought stuff when time is tight or it is supposed to be a "quick" dinner prep. Anyway, the fresh pasta is really good. The professor gave me the best compliment the day after my first attempt saying, "It is just like eating leftover restaurant pasta!"
4. We have been joking lately that we are anti-trendy-diets, because last weekend we actually bought GLUTEN by itself. We made our first attempt at Ezekiel Bread, and one of the ingredients was plain old gluten. The reason for needing it was that whole wheat flour has a low gluten content, so you have to ADD SOME to help the bread hold itself together. Plus, for those of us who can eat gluten, it really tastes incredible when prepared well. I have gluten-ridden pizza dough rising right now as I type.
wheat, barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt in a single vessel...
5. Ezekiel Bread is based on the bread that God had the prophet Ezekiel make and eat in the Old Testament:
And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt, and put them into a single vessel, and make bread of them. During the number of days that you lie upon your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it.-Ezekiel 4:9

We went for the first time to our local co-op grocery (we take awhile to try new things) with all of the kids, and found all of our grains and the gluten in the bulk section. The professor and I worked on the bread all day, though most of it was waiting for things to rise and what not. This was my second attempt at homemade (not bread-machine) sandwhich bread. While it was really delicious, I think that I did not let it rise enough in the pans, because my bread was not nearly as tall as that of the blogger's whose recipe I used.  So, we are going to try it again.  

6. I have a really picky eater in the house these days. Mr. T will only eat what he likes and will gag if you put anything he does not want to eat into his mouth. But he also likes the strangest things. His current obsession is with GrapeNuts. He eats (small) two bowls for breakfast everyday, and sometimes again after nap. However, since that cereal is packed with gluten and vitamins, I feel quite happy to give him however much he wants.
7. I leave you with a book recommendation: Silas Marner by George Eliot. I have read her Middlemarch and quite liked it, but I really loved Silas Marner. Maybe I just liked the simplicity of the main character, but I also really liked how Eliot demonstrated through her characters how to love one really is to will and act for their good. It is short as far as novels go. So, check it out, if you like a good novel. *links are Amazon affiliate links*

I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

NCRegister: How to Post-Chrismas Like a Boss with the Blessed Mother

The expression “to post-partum like a boss” is used a lot in the Catholic mom blogging sphere, and is used to emphasize the importance of a mother giving herself time to rest and recover from delivering a baby. The physical recovery after birthing a baby is long, lasting many weeks and, for some women, months. When a mom is able to post-partum like a boss, she can take time to recover while caring for her baby. She spends her days and nights sleeping, eating, feeding, changing diapers, and soaking that newborn in. This time does not suddenly come to an end, but she eases slowly from her life of complete devotion to that baby back into the daily routine required of her full vocation. But the initial couple of weeks ideally give her time to recover and fall in love with her new baby.

One of the things I love about the old, traditional liturgical calendar is the season after Epiphany. Instead of jumping back into Ordinary Time two weeks after Christmas, it gives one a longer time to linger with the Mother and Child...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

NCRegister: Taking Care of My Little Sin

Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, and year out...Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. ‘Poor Julia,’ they say, ‘she can’t go out. She’s got to take care of her little sin. A pity it ever lived. (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Book II, Chapter 3)

I was recently asked by a secular publication about my thoughts on Pope Francis extending the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion indefinitely to all priests (who have the faculties to hear confessions). What struck me as I read his Apostolic Letter from the end of the Year of Mercy was how the women he presented from Scripture were all living sinful lives, but also how Christ extended mercy to all of these women. The women caught in adultery has always been a penetrating example for me of his great mercy and my inability to judge others, for how can I claim to be without sin and cast the first stone? Yet, he who is without sin will not cast one at the sorrowful women.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BIS Devotion: Discerning God's Will Everyday

I am over at Blessed is She writing today's devotion:

-----

I spent the entire semester I was abroad in Europe during college trying to surrender my will to God’s will about a particular man in my life. He very clearly liked, almost loved, me, but he was conflicted about his vocation. I tried desperately to not interfere in his discernment, but also to accept God’s will, come what may. The hardest thing for me was figuring out for what exactly I should be praying for this dear man. I wanted him to choose God’s will for his life, but I also felt that my own destiny was already tied up in this man’s destiny. In my very depths I felt that we were meant to be with each other, but I had to wait for God’s will to be made clear to him. The only prayer I could pray with any peace was this: for this man to discern God’s will for him. That letting go and letting God was one of the hardest things I have done in my life...

Read the rest at Blessed is She...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

NCRegister: How Father Michael Scanlon Changed my Life

When I first started at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2004, Father Michael Scanlan was already a walking legend on campus. He had retired from his role as president just four years previously and spent his days as the chancellor of the college visiting with students, saying Mass, and hearing confessions. When I heard the news this weekend of Father Scanlan’s death, I was reminded of how the course of my life would have been completely different had it not been for Father Scanlan turning around the failing College of Steubenville and transforming it into the vibrant, community centered, academically focused institution it is today. His life and work, open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, obedient to the requests of his superiors, has been formative in so many lives of Catholics, especially those of us who have been able to attend Franciscan University.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In the traditional Roman Catholic calendar (the one they used before the implementation of the new Mass after Vatican II), the Christmas season goes until Candlemas, February 2, which is the Purification of Our Lady. (In Jewish law a newly delivered mother had to wait 40 days after birth in order to be purified. Our Lady, being Immaculately conceived, did not need to be purified, but she followed the law nonetheless.)

That being said, I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year!

Photo taken by Mathew Lu.
This is the family photo we sent out with our Christmas cards. My New Years resolution is to not end up in the ER this year/not fall down the stairs again/not get a concussion/or anything else...
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