Friday, June 23, 2017

At the NCRegister: "La La Land" and the Liberating of Traditions

“La La Land” is the only recent movie I have seen to which I can relate to so completely. My husband and I finally got around to it the other night on our anniversary. We had gone out for a nice Italian dinner, perused a used bookstore, came home to kids ready for bed (thank you, babysitter), put them to bed, and streamed the movie on my husband’s laptop—the strange mix of modern times and traditional ways did not strike us as funny at all. Of course we would stream a movie on our date night since we do not have a television. Of course we would first take time to Instagram a picture of the gorgeous 90-year-old 31-volume set of Robert Louis Stevenson we had found at the bookstore lamenting, yet thankful, that the books had been passed over so many times to have been marked down three times. We felt that we had to liberate them from the dusty top shelf and bring them to a place where they would be truly appreciated.

I wondered as we drove home what our society had come to that it did not see the value in so brilliant a writer as Stevenson or even the set of Charles Dickens that we left waiting for another sympathetic buyer. And then we turned on “La La Land”—a film about people of my generation seeking their dreams and discovering that they cannot perhaps have it all after all, a film indicative of our generation discovering that all the liberation that happened in the sixties and seventies did not give us anything solid to stand on. In fact the film downright promotes all that my adult life has been focused on—discovering the beauty of our past traditions and bringing them back as fully as possible into our modern lives. I am fully aware that we cannot have the fifties again—nor do I want the fifties again. We can’t go back, but we can recover the beauty that was lost, because the artifacts of it are still there to be found...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nine Years Ago...

I married him nine years ago on a hot, sunny, June day in St. Louis. We were surrounded by our family and friends who traveled from across the country to witness our Sacrament together. I did this walk down memory lane two years ago in which I highlighted our first seven years of marriage. So, I am going to go ahead and just cover the last two years.
On the way to Idaho.
Year Eight: Our eighth year of marriage began shortly after the birth of T, who turned out to be the most difficult infant of our marriage in that he is still a light sleeper and cut eight teeth between the age of 3 and 8 months. There were so many sleepless nights. During the day though, he was pretty happy. We took a trip to Idaho with newborn T for a philosophy conference--I read Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope and the professor discussed the interim state. In the school year, I still managed to teach first grade to G and keep the other kids happy. I think that we started to find a good rhythm. The professor still thrived as a young professor. In the Spring I was asked to start blogging at the National Catholic Register, which has been a blessing and honor to be able to do. The Spring also brought my most tragical (I spelled that this way on purpose) fall down the basement stairs and a three month concussion recovery. G made her first Reconciliation and First Communion.
Photo by G--the other girls were not impressed with Steubenville's campus.
Year Nine: This last year has been wonderful. Perhaps it has been because our oldest has reached the magic age of seven. We are only 6 months from having another child older than seven. It also could be because T finally reached the age of one--that second year is one of my favorite for babies. We set a goal of no ER visits this year, and we have made it. Hopefully we can go another year sans the ER (though we almost went a couple of weeks ago when I had two kids with fevers at 104°F). We had a fun trip in the summer with our closest college friends and all of our children, including a brief stop at Steubenville. The professor and I explored a variety of new cocktails together, and started a new project of watching all of Shakespeare's plays (we are doing this mostly in one hour segments with BBC Television Shakespeare which is available streaming through the professor's university library). This has been quite fun. The professor is getting geared up for his tenure review, gave his first key-note talk at a conference, and is planning a book. I have been reading the Summa Theologiae, writing, theological editing for Blessed is She, and hope to throw together a written Bible study in my spare time. The rest of my time has been spent home schooling second grade, kindergarten, and pre-K, and discovering the joys of having a toddler boy. Our lives our full, and I think we are growing in love and devotion to God daily.

I am learning daily about how raising children and living in marriage is a vocation because it is leading to my sanctification, that of my husband's, and for the sake of my children to become holy as well. That is what this life is about; that is the end for which we are created. This sacrament of matrimony is about being called to holiness and loving God through our sacrifices and acts of love for each other. That is what we are striving to do, calling each other out in, and falling on God's mercy and grace time after time, because try as we might, we cannot do this without Him. I can't believe we are just one year shy of a decade... but here we are living on a prayer under the mercy.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

New York, New York...

One of my best friends from college has been living in New York City for about as long as we have been living in Minnesota. She had a stint in the Midwest and another in the South during our years in Buffalo, New York--which is not anywhere near NYC for those of you unsure of your New York geography. Buffalo is on Lake Erie over eight hours driving from NYC (which takes another eight hours to get across by bus, but the train is faster, and if traffic is good, take an Uber... right?). Well, my friend Claire grew up in Jersey, so NYC is much more her native environment than it could ever be for me.
A few weekends ago, Claire welcomed our mutual friend Tina and myself to her tiny flat in Queens for a Moms' get away weekend. We lived like we were single, but mostly talked about our kids and Claire, being the awesome single lady and friend that she is, enjoyed every single story. And we being on break from our home lives, ate out more times (without kids) in three days than we have in the past several years. I used to say that I did not really feel like an adult yet, but since I had my fourth child and we bought a house, I have been feeling more and more of adulthood. This solo trip to NY showed me even more how I am a grown up... (oh the plight of us Millenials...)

The weekend was quite memorable, full of more stories than you might care to hear. My visit started with an early 4:30am wake up, and somehow no coffee until I was through security and walking to my gate. It was a direct flight, and somehow I ended up talking to my seatmate--a single bearded man a year younger than me--the whole flight. We started on something about the flight, snow driving in Minnesota, Iowa cops (his home state) and speed traps, my kids, home schooling, Catholicism, sacramental theology, science and the Bible, why he stopped going to church, how he wants to raise kids Catholic if he ever gets married, Kant, Shakespeare, my parish's Sunday orchestral Mass, photons, where we were on 9-11 (as we flew by the Freedom tower), and ended on craft beer. It was quite fun; and I hope that he goes to the orchestral Mass someday.
Yes, that is a stained glass window with Aristotle...his halo is blue as opposed to yellow. From St. Vincent Ferrars,
After I landed in NY, I am quite proud of myself for making my way to the bus stop and managing to acquire and load a metro card, getting on the right bus, and getting off at the right stop. It helped that Queens has numbered streets, so I could count down as we went along. My awkwardness of riding a bus pressed into strangers all ignoring me completely dissipated by the end of the weekend.

Claire brought us into Manhattan for all sorts of interesting things every day of the visit. We went to a giant spice store, ate amazing mac and cheese (mine was provolone and Gruyere with bacon, spinach, and roasted tomatoes...I need to recreate it...), went to a secret play (where you had to have your name on the list) at St. Michael's church at a back entrance, laughed way too loud on the train, hailed a taxi, slept in to go to a noon Sunday Mass at St. Vincent Ferrars, spent the afternoon at the MET, bought art from a street vendor, walked through central park, bought a new dress and hat, went to the NY Frassati dinner and praise and worship holy hour, went out for fancy cocktails at Seamstress, Ubered our way home, stayed up until 2am, woke up at 10am, walked around in the pouring rain, sent Tina off to her flight, only bought three books at Strand books, prayed at the old St. Patrick's, went down to Chinatown, ate soup dumplings and funny ice cream, and talked and talked and talked and talked. Then I woke up bright and early to fly home...coming home to everyone who missed me.
And, yes, the weekend was a fun as it sounded, but the whole time, I was thinking, NYC is fun and all, but boy do I love living in the Midwest. The beauty out here in flyover country is incredible. Upstate New York is pretty gorgeous itself, but there is nothing quite like the middle of America. I also realized how people have so much time to spend online. When you commute for an hour on a train, of course you have time to check the internet a billion times, have twitter battles, Instagram random things, read blogs, send emails and so on. Being a stay at home mom means that my sitting down alone time consists of the snatched minutes I have in the bathroom with an iPad.

Yet, the whole point of the weekend, which is what I said from the planning stages was to catch up with old friends. We opted on one morning to skip all the plans and just hang out together. How many times in my life will I get to do another ladies weekend like this, with friends who have known me for so long, who knew me in my most vulnerable times in college? These are the ladies who helped me learn a deeper love of God, who prayed over me countless times, who still know me so well. And that was the reason for the weekend of fun and rest and friendship.

(And if you are wondering the professor fared quite well alone with the kids... he even beer battered and fried his own cheese curds...)

Friday, June 2, 2017

NCRegister: Learning to Live the Messages of Fatima

It was sweltering in the train compartment I shared with my travel companions the night 12 years ago that we traveled into Fatima, Portugal, and every stop ended my feeble attempts at sleep because, as far as I could tell, people don’t sleep at night in Spain. What was supposed to be 40 hours straight on trains from Gaming, Austria to Fatima had turned into three nights on trains interrupted by a day sightseeing in Paris and a day on the beach in San Sebastian, Spain. And while the unexpected breaks from travel were fun, the fact that I could not sleep on trains was a problem. So, by the time I got to Fatima, I was exhausted...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

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