Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Cookies and Kittens and Other Cute Stuff

Hi all. We’ve been busy around here the past week or so.

First before I do anything else, here is Agnes’ grave marker! It was installed in time for us to visit on Memorial Day. It is so pretty. We are very happy with it.

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Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Okay. Since I made those cute lamb cookies for the Holy Ghost parish Easter dinner, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make more cute cutout cookies. Finally this week I found an excuse: the celebration of Stephen’s baptism day! He was baptized on May 28, 2011 when he was just barely three weeks old. We want to celebrate these sacramental anniversaries in our family, so we took the opportunity to throw a little party, complete with cute animal cutout cookies. I wanted to do octopuses and sharks because those cutters appealed to me this time. If you are interested, the set of cutters I bought is this one from Wilton. It has any animal you could ever want. Any. Animal. The cookie recipe I use now for these cutouts is the “Glazed Butter Cookie” recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t talked about those guys for a while, but I want you all to know that they are still a big part of my life. Especially now that I can’t live without these cookies. I like this recipe because the dough is easy to work with, you don’t have to chill it for hours before you roll it out for cutting, plus the directions say to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment which is pure genius. Nothing sticks to anything and the dough rolls out perfectly even with very few tears. That’s “tears” rhymes with “pears” not rhymes with “beers,” though this recipe certainly cuts down on that kind of “tears” as well.

Nap time

Nap time

Also this past weekend we went to visit my Aunt and the new kittens one of her cats recently birthed. There were four kittens in the litter and we wanted to adopt one of them! It was a fun trip. Stephen enjoyed playing with all four kittens, who were all energetic and very adorable. We decided relatively quickly that we wanted to take the fluffy one, the only kitten that has long fur. We had been discussing potential kitten names for a while so it was pretty easy to decide on a name. At this point in the story I would like to stop the narrative in order to fill you in on a bit of history. As you know, we already have a cat named Sashimi. We adopted Sashimi a few years ago when we lived in Billings, MT, and we thought it was funny to name him after the Japanese raw-fish appetizer “sashimi.” Ha ha. Aren’t we funny and so witty. Anyway so. We wanted to continue the ethnic food theme with our new cat as well. We tossed around some ideas like Pakora, which is a chickpea flour fritter from the East Indian culinary tradition. We considered Cannoli. Taquito. Nori. Ramen. As you can imagine it gets ridiculous very quickly. Frijoles Refritos, “Frito” for short. Combo Plate #2. Gravlax. Wonton. I refer you back a few lines [ha ha aren’t we funny and so witty]. We named the fluffy kitten Pakora and vowed to bring her home with us.

Oh, but all the other kittens are so cute and look at that one, he really gets along well with Pakora and my Aunt says he’s even more snuggly and I really wanted to get another snuggly kitty. But then, if we get another kitten, what should we name it? Gravlax? Jeremy said no way. I quote directly from Jeremy’s mouth: “That is the worst name for a cat ever.”

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Guess what we ended up naming the kitten? Gravlax! I’m so happy we did because every time anyone says the name Gravlax everyone in the room kind of titters. It’s hilarious. Also, it’s very much in keeping with Sashimi’s name, since Gravlax is a fermented fish that is also eaten raw. I think the name is awesome. Pakora and Gravlax. It rolls off the tongue so well. And they really do get along well with each other. Sashimi did take a few days to get used to the idea of two new kittens, but I think they have already worked out their differences. They have all played together a few times, and they can all eat in the same room without a throw-down occurring.

stephen and iconsFinally, we hung up our icons in our new house. It took awhile to get around to it, but I’m so happy we finally did it. It looks great! There is plenty of room to continue adding icons as our collection grows. So long as add to it symmetrically! We plan to have icons for each of our children’s patron saints, as many as that may be, plus whatever else we decide to add. I’m excited for the possibilities.Gravlax likes Mary!

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Pascha Most Sacred!

“Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered. Pascha most sacred is revealed to us today; Pascha new and holy; Pascha so mystical; Pascha most ven’rable; Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer; Pascha so spotless; Pascha so very great; Pascha of the faithful; Pascha which opened for us the gates of Paradise; Pascha which sanctifies all the faithful.” (from the Paschal Hymns of Resurrection Matins)

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!

Dressed in our Easter finery.

Dressed in our Easter finery.

On Sunday my family celebrated Easter for the first time in the Byzantine tradition. It was beautiful, edifying, moving, and inspiring. I was able to attend liturgies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, and each was beautiful as part of the whole story of Great and Holy Week. On Friday, we processed around the outside of the church with a Holy Shroud, an ornately embroidered cloth with an icon of Jesus laying out as though in a tomb; the icon was made of fabric, I think. We processed then took the shroud back into the church where it was laid in a “tomb” surrounded by candles and flowers. Each parishioner then approached the shroud, crawling on our knees, to kiss the face, hands, and feet of Jesus. On Saturday, the liturgy focused on the theology of baptism as passing from death into new life. During one of the songs, the priest picked up the shroud and laid it across his shoulders. He carried it out of the “tomb” and put it on the altar where it always rests. The sacrament of Holy Eucharist takes place upon the icon of Christ at every liturgy. I never noticed that before this week.

On Sunday morning, we started with the Resurrection Matins, which are sung only on Easter morning each year. Matins begins with another procession around the outside of the church, this time with the icon of the Resurrection. During Matins we sang the refrain, “Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered Death, and to those in the grave He granted life.” When I say we sang that refrain, what I’m saying is we sang it about five million times. After Matins, we jumped right in to Divine Liturgy. It was a long morning, but so beautiful and joyful. At the end of liturgy, Fr. Sal suggested all the parishioners go out to the front steps of the church for an Easter morning group photo. All the parishioners. That is one of the wonderful things about belonging to a smaller parish.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Jeremy and I also participated in the Ukrainian traditional Easter foods. The tradition is to fill a basket with the foods you will eat after liturgy on Easter day. You bring the basket to church Saturday and the priest blesses the food. Then, you take it home and you have to eat all of it, because it’s blessed! If you don’t want to eat that last egg, you have to bury it in the ground; you can’t just throw it away! The traditional foods are ham and/or sausage, hard cooked eggs, pascha bread, butter molded into the shape of a lamb, cream cheese, and beet horseradish relish. It was not like Easter dinners I’ve eaten before, but it was delicious!

For our Easter eggs, I decided to try natural dyes. I used some of the juice from my purple sauerkraut, and turmeric. I added a bit of water and vinegar to both. The eggs turned out blue and yellow, which happen to be the national colors of Ukraine! I did not plan that at all, those were just the natural things I had around that I thought would work to dye eggs! It was really fun using the natural dyes. I would like to experiment with other things, and I don’t see why colored eggs should belong to Easter only. I’m going to do it any old time!

So, after a long break away from my blog, I am happy to be back! We moved to a new home last week, so for a few weeks we were working flat out to pack up at the old place, then we moved and didn’t have internet yet, and we were working flat out to unpack the essential items. Now things are calming as we have reached the point that whatever is in a box isn’t urgently needed, so we can work at a more reasonable pace. And we obviously have internet again!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holy day. Remember to keep the party going: Easter lasts for fifty days!

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Changing the Lights

“Do you want to help with the lights?”

That was the cryptic question posed to Jeremy this morning while we stood around in the parish hall after liturgy. He just had to ask, “What does that mean?” One young parishioner explained that it’s a tradition at Holy Ghost. Two times a year, right before Christmas and right before Easter, all the men of the parish go up to the church after coffee and climb up on a huge ladder to replace the burned out light bulbs. This young parishioner also explained that it’s kind of a rite of passage for young guys, the first time a guy gets invited to help with the lights is a Big Deal.

100_2079100_2081So Jeremy, of course, agreed to help. After all the men left, the ladies were explaining to me what all is involved in changing the lights. First of all the ladder is enormous. “How tall is the ladder?” I asked. “…uh,” each lady said. “…it’s really tall.” At least as tall as the inside of the church, however tall that is. Second, the ladder is really old, and really heavy. It takes every man in the building to help with that thing. How many church guys does it take to change a lightbulb? They all take off their suit jackets and drape the coats on church pews. Then they troop over to the rectory garage and get organized to lift the ladder down off the wall pegs, carry it over to the church, and very carefully raise it upright. They have to be very organized and focused. A mistake could send the ladder toppling down to crush guys, the icon screen, and anything else in its path. Then they position the ladder under the first burned-out light, and Michael climbs up 30, 40, 80 feet in the air. Who knows? It’s just really high. Michael stuffs the large, fragile bulbs in his shirt and climbs up while all the other guys hold the ladder steady. While Michael is at the top of the ladder stretched out to reach the light, the church is silent. All the guys stop chatting and just watch Michael switch the bulb. You can hear the scratching of the threads as Michael unscrews the bulb. He changes the bulb then climbs down, breaking the elbow brackets as he descends so the guys can fold up the ladder and move it to the next position. The guys start talking again. I asked Michael if he’s the only one who climbs the ladder and he laughed and said, “I’m taking volunteers!”

After all the burned-out bulbs were replaced and the guys had very carefully lifted the 90-foot ladder back onto its wall brackets in the garage, I told Jeremy that I think this tradition is really cool. He sat there in the car picking ladder splinters out of his dressy pants and said, “I guess so,” in a not-very-enthusiastic voice. Well, at least the pants aren’t his favorite anyway! Now we have an excuse to go shopping.

This tradition is cool because it’s unique to Holy Ghost parish and it’s part of the folklore of this community. It’s a duty the men perform ritually and at specific times of year. All the guys know about it and all the guys know how to do it. Jeremy and I, as new parishioners, had to learn about this tradition. It’s a mystery that belongs this parish. One of the ladies told me they should just get a new aluminum ladder to make the whole job easier, but the 150-foot-tall ladder is part of the story. No one needs to know how tall it is; the vagueness of the ladder’s height is part of the story. No one needs to know how old it is. This ladder has been used for this job as long as anyone can remember and that’s part of the story. There is one guy who climbs the ladder, and that’s part of the story. What if he doesn’t come to church on the weekend they want to change the lights? I don’t know. Perish the thought. I guess they would just do the lights the following week! It’s a rite of passage for young male parishioners and that’s part of the story. It’s wrapped up in the spirituality of Advent and Lent, preparing for the two high points of the liturgical year. It’s important for the holy days, yet not obvious like setting up the Christmas tree or arranging the potted lilies.

Modernizing the procedure would probably make the job easier. Aluminum ladder. Longer-lasting light bulbs. But the ritual surrounding the activity of changing the lights is important, and I think it is a blessing for the life of Holy Ghost parish.

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The Holy Things for the Holy

343_vierge_orante_large iconDuring my days as a graduate theology/liturgy student, I had the pleasure to attend a lecture by a favorite scholar of mine, and she was talking about the different elements of the Roman Catholic Mass. Her position was that when the liturgy was reformed after Vatican II, they left a dis-jointed sequence of texts leading up to communion. Her biggest beef was with the acclamation, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; only say the words and my soul shall be healed.” She didn’t like that we had this penitential prayer right before we receive communion. We are holy, she argued. We already did the breast-beating part earlier; we have witnessed the transformation of our gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ; we are now standing around his altar in praise and thanksgiving, why do we have to ruin the mood by harping on our sinfulness yet again? It’s redundant; it upsets the “flow” of the liturgy.

Now, at that particular time and place there were a number of liturgy scholars who saw the Eastern Rite as the more sophisticated and mature older sibling to the Roman Rite. These professors saw the poetry and mystery of the East and wanted some of that to imbue the rituals of the West. They loved the Roman Rite and wanted it to be the best it could be.

This scholar held a similar opinion. She had this example of “Lord, I am not worthy…” and for contrast she offered a line from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the primary liturgical celebration for Byzantine (Eastern) churches. She stood at the podium facing the audience and said that, right before communion during Divine Liturgy, the priest holds up the Body and Blood and acclaims, “The holy things for the holy.” Then the scholar demonstrated the gesture with her hands up, and moving her imaginary vessels out towards the audience. It was a powerful moment. All of us in the audience made that “ohh/mmm” sound you hear during powerful moments among a crowd. The scholar’s point was, the priest is acknowledging the holiness of the assembled people, their worthiness to now receive the Precious Body and Blood. That’s all fine; that was a nice point to make and it certainly sold her argument. I can tell you I was sold on her argument.

But now, having attended the liturgy where this moment occurs, I can say she had it completely wrong. Totally wrong. If that scholar had ever attended the Divine Liturgy she would immediately notice that priest spends the entire time standing at the altar, facing the tabernacle, so his back is to the assembled people. When he does indeed hold up the Body and Blood and acclaim, “The holy things for the holy,” he gestures toward the tabernacle–toward God–who is holy and who is receiving the holy gifts we his servants are offering to him. The priest is speaking on behalf of the people, addressing God, and offering God the holy sacrifice of the Body and Blood. This is completely the opposite from the point that scholar was making many years ago.

The other piece of that long-ago scholar’s argument was that the penitential line, “Lord, I am not worthy…” is misplaced and doesn’t belong immediately before communion. She can have that opinion, but she needs to find another counter-argument because the Divine Liturgy only offers an even more extreme act of penance immediately before communion. Again, if she had ever attended Divine Liturgy, or even read a complete liturgical text before drafting her lecture, she would have known this. During Divine Liturgy, after the priest acclaims, “the holy things for the holy,” the people pray:

I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not tell the mystery to your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief, I confess to You:
+ Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.
+ Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom.
+ Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your kingdom.
May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be unto me not for judgement or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body.
+ God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
+ God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
+ I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.

Then, in a suitably humble frame of awareness, we walk up and receive Eucharist. As an aside, I have noticed some members of my congregation actually beating their breast during those last three lines. The liturgy scholars would be horrified.

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Family Mission

First, it turns out this is my 200th post on the blog! Woohoo!

Jeremy and I were able to go on a mini retreat over the weekend. It was the annual Marriage Enrichment retreat put together by Marriages of Grace, a local organization founded by an ordinary married couple about seven or eight years ago. The retreat last weekend featured a couple keynote speakers, some smaller talks, time for each couple to be together to reflect on the content of the program, then Mass and a dinner. It was a great program and I encourage anyone in the Cleveland/Akron area to consider attending future events.

Anyway, the small talk Jeremy and I attended was all about dream building and setting personal dreams and family dreams, then figuring out what behaviors and habits are helping you to realize those dreams. That talk got us thinking about our family’s mission, which we have thought about before a few years ago. Then we forgot about it and never developed our ideas. The family mission is a great way to focus our energy and attention when it comes to philanthropy, supporting different organizations, even the activities we get involved in. For example, the couple who founded Marriages of Grace obviously support the sacrament of marriage as part of their mission. They focus a lot of energy and resources toward programs that build up married couples and help marriages flourish.

Jeremy and I thought of a few ideas. I really want hospitality to be part of our mission. I think it’s important for there to be snacks and coffee at a bible study. If you can have a lunch after a church meeting, you should. I would love to be able to spontaneously invite overnight guests to stay at our house. I want to have dinner company often, especially clergy and religious. We met the two Brothers of the Holy Spirit after Divine Liturgy on Sunday, and they confessed to us that they have started a new ministry: the ministry of eating! I want to support them in that by having them over for dinner!

Jeremy and I also want our family mission to include evangelization–Catholic in particular, and recruiting for Holy Ghost parish in particular. We love our parish family and we want the parish to succeed long term. I believe there are many people longing to experience the beauty and mystery of the Byzantine rite, but they don’t even know we are here and that they are welcome to come! It’s not widely known that Byzantine Catholic liturgies are open to Roman Catholics; Roman Catholics can receive sacraments because the Byzantine churches are in communion with Rome. They recognize the Pope as the head of the Church. The format of Divine Liturgy may seem foreign at first, compared to Mass, but it is actually similar. There is a series of petitions, then readings from scripture, then a homily, then Eucharist, then dismissal. We sing “Lord, have mercy” a lot, but other than that it is remarkably similar. I really like that Mary the Mother of God is mentioned so much in the Byzantine Liturgy. She is mentioned in nearly every long prayer the priest says, plus she gets a petition in all the litanies, plus there are at least two hymns for Mary sung during the liturgy. Roman Catholics may think they have Mary all to themselves, but I think the Byzantine liturgy texts mention her way more! So if you have a particular devotion to Mary, check out a Byzantine church! My personal, most favorite part about coming to church on Sunday is walking in amidst all the beautiful icons, gleaming gold in the lamplight, and inhaling the combined scents of incense and frying onions. It’s just perfect. It smells so holy and homey at the same time.

So, those are a couple ideas we have had about our family mission. I’m sure we will continue working out what God’s Plan is for our family. We continue to pray for inspiration and for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and hearts.

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One Month in Heaven

Today marks one month since Agnes passed from this earth into the eternal kingdom. It’s hard to believe one month has passed already; it feels like we lost her only yesterday. On the other hand, we have kept ourselves busy with guests, and home buying, and projects, and it’s hard to believe only one month has passed; it feels like a longer interval has passed.

I still miss Agnes every day. Sometimes a random little thing will remind me of her. Like yesterday at church while I was singing in the choir, I looked at one of the other singers while we were chanting and I remembered a conversation I had with that singer on the day of Agnes’ funeral. Bam. Sad about Agnes. Or walking around a department store I may happen down the aisle where baby clothes are displayed. Bam. Or driving towards downtown Akron on the road we always took to get to the hospital. Bam. Or scanning the obituary page of the newspaper and I see the name of the funeral home that handled our arrangements. Bam.

The other hard thing is not unexpected: now that I have recently lost a baby, every lady everywhere has a baby, or is about to have a baby. Many of my friends are expecting new babies. Many of my friends currently have adorable infants. Babies are everywhere, and my arms feel empty without my baby. I go back and forth between desperately wanting a replacement baby, and being terrified to ever have another baby ever again. And of course, once in a while, I am actually at peace with the current status of my children.

This is actually a "dry sink" but the plastic changing pad fits perfectly!

This is actually a “dry sink” but the plastic changing pad fits perfectly!

Jeremy and I are trying different ways to keep Agnes’ memory alive, especially for Stephen. We have photos of Agnes displayed in the house, and of course Stephen has his own little photo in his room. Plus we always mention Agnes at bedtime for him, saying that she’s with Mary and Jesus watching over Stephen and protecting him. Plus I wear my cool necklace with my three kids’ names, and I show it to Stephen when he notices it. We also felt inspired to make a donation to our church in Agnes’ memory, so we purchased a diaper changing table for the bathroom at the church. There was no convenient space for baby diaper-changing except on the floor, plus the parish is trying to find ways to attract more parishioners. Jeremy and I thought some family-friendly additions might help along those lines. So, now we can remember Agnes every time we use the bathroom! And she can help bring new young families into the parish!

It’s a daily struggle to find peace and joy, but we are doing okay. We will always be marked by this process of losing a child, but I don’t think it will take us out completely. We are carrying on with life and finding ways to fill our days.

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What I Wore Sunday: November 24 Stephen is Chrismated!

Hi, linking up with Fine Linen and Purple. This week I worn a long black dress from Liz Lange Maternity for Target; black sweater from Old Navy (it was a gift a few years ago), my Clarks boots. Sorry I don’t have a full-length photo. We were taking pictures of more important things.

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After the Liturgy.

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Stephen and his chrismation sponsors. They are Agnes’ godparents!

This Sunday was very special for our family; Stephen was fully initiated into the Catholic faith by receiving the Mystery (sacrament) of Chrismation, and Holy Eucharist. In the Eastern tradition of Catholicism, infants receive baptism, chrismation, and Eucharist at the same time, but Roman Catholic babies receive only baptism as infants. Stephen was baptized as a baby, and yesterday he received the other Mysteries. We are so happy for him! We had planned for Stephen and Agnes to do this at the same time, so Agnes’ godparents were already planning to visit for the weekend and sponsor Stephen for chrismation. When Agnes went back to the hospital, we decided to go ahead with Stephen’s chrismation. He actually had already received his “first” Holy Communion on Thursday: Fr. Sal gave communion to his own small child at Liturgy, then Stephen was next in line. Fr. Sal offered to Stephen out of habit and Stephen actually took it! So yesterday, Stephen made his “second” Holy Communion. Oh well, it worked out fine in the end!

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Stephen’s sponsors remove his footwear, and unbutton his shirt.

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Fr. Sal anoints Stephen very quickly!

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Stephen receives his “second” Holy Communion.

I don’t know if you have ever seen a two year old child receive an anointing on forehead, eyes, ears, chest, hands, and feet, but I can tell you it goes very quickly. Fr. Sal started saying “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” or whatever the exact words are, kind of hovering his hand and when he spotted an opening, he swooped in and anointed everything super fast! It was kind of funny. Stephen was in shock. He was bewildered at the speed with which his sponsors removed his shoes and socks and unbuttoned his shirt, then all of a sudden Fr. Sal was attacking him with fragrant oil. He took communion again, which I was a little nervous about because toddlers are capricious, so all in all it was a wonderful event for our family!

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Turkey cookies, idea from Pinterest.

After Liturgy, the parish hosted its annual Thanksgiving dinner complete with all the trimmings. I had asked last week if they still needed any contributions, and I was told to bring a dessert that would appeal to children because I guess kids don’t like pie. So I found a cute project on Pinterest and it actually turned out really well! That doesn’t happen so often with those cute Pinterest ideas, but this time it worked!

The special thing about this dinner was the parish donated all the proceeds from the raffle contest to Agnes! Jeremy and are so blessed by Holy Ghost, and we are overwhelmed by the generosity and caring of the parishioners. Because of the raffle money, we now have enough funds that we can go out this week or next week and buy a van for Agnes with cash. We cannot express enough how grateful we are for our parish family. It truly was the working of the Holy Spirit for us to end up at Holy Ghost.

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What I Wore Sunday: November 3

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple.

Today we got to go to church as a whole family! And we didn’t have to visit the hospital afterwards! Yay! In other awesome news, I managed to get Stephen to go upstairs to the choir loft with me, so I got to sing with the choir! Yay! And I must say we sounded pretty darn good today, too. Today we sang Tone 7, which I remember the last time we sang it, it was not so good. We all brought our “A” game today though, and we rocked Tone 7 like nobody’s business. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks, because there are several big feasts coming up, and Advent starts soon. It’s going to be fun in the choir, especially if Stephen keeps being adorable and well-mannered in the loft. Today he wasn’t so sure at first that he liked the idea of being upstairs, but I held him up to look over the railing at the people below, and we saw Jeremy and Agnes, then I held him for a while while we sang. When I put him down he stood around mostly, looking at the other people in the choir. After the homily he became comfortable enough to walk around the little area, pause to look over the railing, play with the toy he brought, come over by me for a bit, walk around some more. I did miss communion because I waited too long to go down, then I went at a toddler’s pace down the stairs. Oh well.

100_1875I’m hoping we can go to Liturgy on Friday. It’s the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Heavenly Powers, or something along those lines. Doesn’t that sound way cool? “Bodiless Heavenly Powers.” Neato.

For church today I chose my favorite skirt; I bought this at Savers in Albuquerque. I love long, full skirts. I’m also wearing a black shirt from Motherhood Maternity; it still fits me because it shrinks a tiny bit every time I launder it. Grr. Finally, I threw on that long sweater vesty thing that I like to wear during in-between seasons, plus my Clarks boots.

Today Stephen had a great time helping my dad take Quinn for a walk, and then later they raked leaves. Grandpa is pretty much awesome. Stephen also requested that grandpa do his bath tonight. It’s cute.

Today Agnes is doing pretty well; she’s been sleeping a lot. She has learned how to freak out again so that people will pick her up and hold her. I think she probably figured out in the hospital that doesn’t work too well, but at home it works every time. She sure knows what to do to get attention. I need to get her a “drama queen” shirt or something.

Tomorrow we are getting some professional photos of Agnes and Stephen! It was arranged through Palliative Care at the hospital, I think because Agnes is “special” or because she was in the NICU. Whatever, free photos of my kids. The reason doesn’t even matter!

I’m looking forward to a little more down time this week, since Agnes’ schedule isn’t so packed. The only outings we have scheduled are the photos, and hopefully church on Friday. No doctors. I’m going to go right now and start enjoying my downtime.

Head over to Fine Linen and Purple for more link ups.

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What I Wore Sunday: October 27

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple.

Today when I woke up, I stood in front of my closet for 10 minutes contemplating my choices. I had a couple shirts to choose from, a few more skirts, and a few dresses that are not quite cool-weather appropriate. It was tricky. I need to buy some more clothes. Anyway here’s what I decided to wear:

100_1850100_1849I’m wearing the skirt from last week, my trusty black Merona Target skirt I’ve had since high school. I’m also wearing a Daisy Fuentes shirt I think I got at the Goodwill in Billings, MT but I have rarely worn it. I have long thought the shiny fabric was not very flattering, but since lately I have so few choices, I’ve been wearing the shirt anyway. This morning when I got Stephen out of bed, he pointed at my shirt and said, “pwetty.” Toddler approved. I’m also wearing my new Clarks boots. My pink watch was a Christmas gift from Jeremy. It’s a Relic brand watch. It came packaged in a pretty sturdy little tin that seemed like a waste to throw away, so we kept it. We use it to store all the holy cards we have with relics. It’s our Relic reliquary. Ha!

Today the Eastern Catholic calendar celebrates Christ the King, or at least that’s what my calendar at home says. You would not have known there was a feast day from the liturgy because the music was all just from the regular Sunday rotation. I don’t quite understand the hierarchy of feast days in the Eastern calendar; in the Roman calendar, Christ the King is a really big deal with different hymns and prayers. The really big feasts in the Eastern liturgy have all kinds of special music where you change out the regular songs for the festal songs, less important feasts have some special music, and the least important feasts have maybe one special song. All the other feasts seem to be simply noted on the calendar. I’m sure I will come to understand more and more. I hope. It’s been a couple of rough weeks in the choir since the lady who leads has been on vacation. She’s coming back next week! I don’t know if I will be able to sing in the choir once we can start bringing Agnes to church; it all depends on if I can convince Stephen to come upstairs with me!

After liturgy, we went to visit Agnes at the hospital. Tomorrow she can come home! We’ve requested a morning discharge, so hopefully we won’t be stuck at the hospital all day. It will be nice to stay home and snuggle Agnes freely, and not have to go to the hospital every day. Too bad Agnes has so many doctors appointments! I think I have to take her to the pediatrician on Tuesday already! Well, we’ll get some down time at some point this week. While we were at the hospital today we watched the Disney Channel to keep Stephen occupied. We caught a few episodes of “Dog with a Blog” and it was hilarious! I wasn’t expecting to like it, but it was really funny. The premise is that the family pet can talk and only the kids know it. The dog writes about the family on his blog after they all go to sleep at night. If you ever have to watch kids television programs, I recommend that one. Stephen was actually not very interested beyond “puppy!” but Jeremy and I both enjoyed the show!

I guess that’s all we did on Sunday. You can read other bloggers at Fine Linen and Purple.

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What I Wore Sunday: October 20

Hi there. Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple.

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Stephen noticed we were taking pictures

Stephen noticed we were taking pictures

He wants to be in the picture.

He wants to be in the picture.

He wants to make sure you noticed Mommy's boots.

He wants to make sure you noticed Mommy’s boots.

My outfit today is a great example of “use what you have.”

The shirt is a Motherhood Maternity shirt I bought when pregnant with Agnes. I actually don’t recommend this shirt because the fabric is very thin, and the shirt shrank a lot in the wash. You would have to air dry, I think, because even low heat in the dryer was too much. The price was too much for that kind of shirt.

The sweater vest thingy was in a bag of free clothes someone gave me when pregnant with Stephen. I love to layer this over long sleeves in the fall and winter. It’s just enough of a layer to get through those days that aren’t quite cold, but still rather chilly.

The skirt is seriously something I have had in my closet for more than 10 years. It still fits (yay, stretchy!) and more miraculously, the elastic waistband is not trashed despite over 10 years of normal wear and wash. It is Merona from Target, so I guess I highly recommend. I believe I wore this skirt as my concert black and white in high school choir.

Also, today I got to wear my pretty new Clarks boots. Yay for fall!

Another Sunday without Agnes at church. She is doing much better the past couple days, so I did have a positive attitude when folks were like, “where’s your baby?” I also had the freedom to sing with the choir today and it was good that I was there. The lady who leads the choir is on vacation this week and next week! Anna let me start off the troparion and it went pretty well. The scary part was when one of the other ladies who kind of leads the sopranos had to run home in the middle of the liturgy! I’m still not totally comfortable with the music of the liturgy, so I was pretty nervous until she came back. We did pretty well, all things considered, and like I said it was good that I was there!

As for the rest of my day, it was pretty good. We hung out with Agnes for a while and Stephen played with all the PICU nurses. He’s a little charmer, and all the nurses and doctors think he is just adorable. Agnes’ nurse today said, “He is the cutest; I could just eat him up.” You better watch out, Stephen. I also spent a long time in the kitchen with Stephen, cooking a pot of chili for dinner with a pan of cornbread on the side. Stephen helped by standing on his little step stool and commenting that the pots are “hot.” He also stuck stickers to the kitchen floor. I asked him what he wanted for dinner because I knew he didn’t want chili, and his answer was, “macaroni.” I asked “macaroni with cheese, or with tomato sauce?” and he said, “cheese tomato sauce!” That’s just because he repeats everything. He doesn’t really understand about answering questions 100% of the time. So I assumed he meant like the blue box macaroni, and he was pretty happy to eat that for dinner. So, I cooked a pot of chili, a pan of cornbread, and a box of macaroni and cheese for myself and Stephen. Good thing we like leftovers up in here.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and if you’re in the mood for a real Agnes update, check in again tomorrow because her care is really going down tomorrow. She’s getting an echocardiogram and they may switch the ventilator to the CPAP plus pressure support setting tomorrow. Wooo. Big day. In the meantime, go here to see a great picture of me stuffed into the backseat of our tiny car with two car seats and an oxygen tank.

Check out Fine Linen and Purple for more Sunday fashions.

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