Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cute Things

Yesterday was a hard day, so I'm writing about all the adorable things my babies are doing lately.

When Linus wakes up in the middle of the night needing to nurse and have his diaper changed, he grins at me.  I cannot tell you how much it helps to see that little smiling face when I stagger out of my nice warm bed to go tend to his needs.  His sister never did any such thing -- she woke up screaming.

Speaking of screaming ... the other day while I was fixing dinner, Linus was in his little infant seat on the floor and Lucy saw him there.  Lucy was delighted to see her little brother within reach and gave an excited little Kamikaze yell as she ran toward him.  Linus was understandably frightened, and started screaming in terror, which scared Lucy and made her cry as well.  Daddy and I had a really good laugh as we comforted them.

And that's all I have time for right now, because Lucy just woke up from her nap.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Outside my window...
a beautiful , sunny day. The weather is getting nicer out there as the Louisiana summer heat finally begins to loosen its hold. I think we even had a couple days last week that the air conditioner didn't run!

I am thinking...
about Christmas: making gifts, planning gifts, trying to be done before Advent.
I'm also thinking about the upcoming feast of All Saints.

I am thankful...for a soft, warm, snugly, smiley, cooing, sweet-smelling baby boy.

In the kitchen...we had lasagna the other night.  I realized a couple weeks ago that a recipe for a 9" by 13" pan could be split in half and put in two 8" square pans instead, which suits our needs much better.  When I made lasagna, I cooked one pan and froze the other, and a couple days ago I enjoyed the benefits of my cleverness:  dinner (which got rave reviews from my husband and daughter) with almost no effort!

I am creating...
an autumn wardrobe for Lucy.  This is mostly in the planning stages, but I'm almost ready to buy some things and start sewing the garments I intend to make.

I am going...
mostly to my mother-in-law's house these days.  They are replacing the roof of our apartment building, and the noise is driving the babies crazy, so we go someplace quiet in the interest of trying to get some naptime in.  It's really wonderful to have family close by so that we have somewhere to go when there is some problem at our place (air-conditioning not working, water turned off, roofers making noise ... I wonder what's next?).  My in-laws are very generous about that.

I am reading...
not much besides magazines and blogs at the moment.  I finished the book I was reading and I haven't picked out another just yet.

I am hoping...
that the roofers will be done with the section of the roof directly over us in the next day or so, and then the noise won't be as bad.

I am looking forward to...
All Saint's Day!  It's one of my favorite feasts.

Around the house...sweeping up plaster debris that falls down from the ceiling because of the men tramping around on the roof.

One of my favorite things...Mass at a convent nearby on the third anniversary of our engagement yesterday.  It's wonderful to be able to get to a Latin Mass on a weekday occasionally.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
the walk to Emmaus.  We still need to hang this one up in our new place.  I kind of miss it.

From the Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, October 21, 2011


On the day one leaves his mother's womb, he is born into the world. On the day one is baptized, he is born into the Church. And on the day of one's death, if one is a saint, he is born into eternal life in Heaven.  Thus it is that the Roman Martyrology speaks of the "birthdays" of the saints and martyrs who are listed for the day.

It is inspiring to read the accounts of those who have been born into eternal life, and the reading always ends "and elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors and holy virgins."  These are Christian heroes, marked by heroic virtue and holiness of life (at least at the end of their lives), and they are many.  In a couple weeks we will be celebrating all of them:  the ones whose names we don't know, as well as those listed in the Martyrology.  May the upcoming feast remind us to follow their example and ask for their intercession so that we may celebrate with them our own "birthday" into eternal life with God.

Beginning on Sunday, October 23, I will be praying the Litany of the Saints as a novena of sorts leading up to the feast.
This video has a pleasant recording of the Latin chant. I may be using it as an aid to prayer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

I made that little skirt a couple weeks ago and ...

Lucy was absolutely delighted with it.  She insisted on wearing it as soon as it was finished.

The way her toddler belly makes the skirt hang down lower in the front than in the back cracks me up.

The poor little girl is working on four molars at once, and is rather miserable.  I think she's also as sleep deprived as I am.  Poor thing.  Anyone know of a patron saint for teething?

Find more lovely pictures at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yarn Along

My tunisian crochet blanket is progressing rather slowly.  I'd better pick up the pace if I'm going to finish by Christmas.  In fact, I'd really like to have it done by the beginning of Advent, so that I can spend Advent thinking about Advent rather than worrying about Christmas.  That's the goal this year; we'll see how it goes.

I've been really enjoying Voices from an Early American Convent.  The main body of the book is a set of letters from a group of Ursuline nuns who came to New Orleans to found a convent here.  While Ursulines are generally teachers, they were originally brought to the area to run a hospital, and ended up working with orphans and "loose women" as well.  Their convent still stands and is generally accepted to be the oldest building in the Mississippi valley.  Their schools are still operating in the city, although they are no longer staffed by nuns.  It's been interesting to read about the founders of a convent not far from where we live, and of which my husband's aunt was a member.  I highly recommend the book (which is available from Amazon here).  Although the editorial remarks take an annoyingly feminist perspective, the words of these brave missionary nuns are edifying.  I'm rather in awe of these women;  if I were a French Ursuline nun, I would have stayed in France.

See more books and yarn at small things

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blog Names

Referring to my children by their ages and genders has become cumbersome, so I have decided to give them blog names.  Unfortunately, I can't stand nicknames and can't bring myself to give them to my children, so I will be using real names, just not their real names.  My little girl, who is a little over a year old right now, will be known here as Lucy (a Roman martyr mentioned in the canon of the Mass), and my baby boy will be known as Linus (the second pope).

Proof of Original Sin

My toddler (who largely communicates by pointing and grunting, with a few words thrown in here and there just for cuteness) can apparently both tell "stories" and make excuses.

She was sitting on her daddy's lap getting ready to go to sleep, and she pointed across the room, seeming to indicate that she wanted one of the toys or (more likely) books over in that general vicinity.  So her daddy let her get down to go get what she wanted, and she immediately turned the opposite direction and went right out the door!  She then let out a little cackle and toddled the length of the house as fast as her little legs would carry her and appeared in our bedroom, where I was changing the baby's diaper.  When her daddy caught up with her he related all this to me, and the toddler turned, spotted a book on the floor and picked it up.  She then held to book out to her daddy as if to say, "See, I really was looking for a book!"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Playing Ball

One of the things that my toddler daughter doesn't do yet is play ball (as in rolling it back and forth) because, well, until a couple days ago, we'd never tried.  I started out rolling a ball back and forth in front of me.  She got interested and came over to see what I was doing.  I rolled the ball to her.  She rolled it about ninety degrees from my general direction.  I reached over and caught the ball and rolled it back to her.  This continued for a few minutes and then somehow it became apparent that she was much more interested in chasing the ball than in a nice controlled game of roll the ball back and forth.  So after a few minutes the game looked like this:  mama rolling the ball across the room, little girl toddling after it, picking up the ball and carrying it back to mama.  Repeat.

I had a nearly overwhelming urge to say "Go fetch!" after I rolled that ball.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Small Successes

This seems like a good way to jump back in to blogging after several weeks of being mostly absent.  I'm still figuring out how to keep everybody happy and the household running (forget smoothly) with a newborn baby and a 1-year-old, but I no longer feel the need to sleep every instant that the babies are both asleep.  So ... my successes:

1.  I'm not sure I can claim credit for this, but my little baby has adopted my bigger baby's naptime.  I am able, on most days, to give the toddler her snack, then nurse the newborn and put him to sleep, and then put the toddler to sleep (and then sometimes a few minutes later put the newborn back to sleep), and everybody sleeps for two or three hours.  I've been working to encourage this convenient arrangement, but I suspect it has more to do with Divine Providence than my efforts.  Deo gratias.

2.  I tried a new recipe last night, and it turned out really tasty.  I had been in a pattern of making the same meals every week for several weeks and I think we were all getting tired of the same old thing, so it was nice to have something different to eat.

3.  Everybody has clean clothes to wear, and there are clean dishes in the cabinets to eat from.  With a new baby in the house, this is an accomplishment.

4.  Oh.  And I wrote a blog post!

Go visit Chocolate for your Brain for more small successes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life with a toddler and a newborn

My 14-month-old little girl is adjusting to life with her new little brother.

She recognizes the blanket we wrapped him in when we came home from the hospital.  When he fusses, she goes and finds the blanket and brings it to him.  She also sometimes cries when he cries and imitates his squeaks.  She's going to be a good big sister.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yarn Along

 So I finished the hat I was working on last week, and, as I thought I might, found that it was too big for a newborn.  In fact, I found it was wide enough (although not long enough) for my one-year-old with a giant head.
 So I crocheted a border on it to make it a little longer.  I think it came out nicely, don't you?  It will be a Christmas present for an older baby.

And then I knitted a smaller hat for the originally intended recipient.

I've been reading a book from the library to find out what Montessori education is all about.  I'm finding that I agree with a lot of principles, but not with certain features of the application.  I have a lot more reading to do to get a complete picture, though.

Be sure to stop by small things for more knitting and reading.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Week

Theme:  Trying to get a theme going hasn't really been working for us, so I'm going to discontinue this for a while.

Monday -- out
Tuesday -- spaghetti and meatsauce, spinach with red wine vinegar
Wednesday -- Indonesian chicken, yellow rice, peanut sauce, broccoli
Thursday -- scrambled eggs, bran muffins, apples
Friday -- Black bean and rice salad
Saturday -- Fajita chicken and leftover salad.
Dessert -- Double Chocolate Chip Cake

Getting out of the house:
Monday -- Groceries
Tuesday -- Story time at the library
Wednesday -- Shopping
Thursday -- Doctor's appointment
Friday -- Walk around the mall
Saturday -- Library

Books for reading aloud:

I Took the Moon for a Walk
The Carrot Seed
Gossie and Gertie
I Know a Rhino

Coloring with crayons

Have tea parties
Play with bubbles
Water play on the balcony

Little Bo-Peep

Little Boy Blue

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This Week

Theme:  Ducks

Monday -- out
Tuesday -- black bean and rice salad
Wednesday -- spaghetti and meatsauce, spinach with red wine vinegar
Thursday -- scrambled eggs, bran muffins, apples
Friday -- tuna salad sandwiches, stir-fry veggies
Saturday -- Indonesian chicken, yellow rice, peanut sauce, broccoli
Dessert -- Double Chocolate Chip Cake

Getting out of the house:
Monday -- Groceries
Tuesday -- Story time at the library
Wednesday -- Old Ursuline Convent
Thursday -- Lafreniere Park
Friday -- Walk around the mall
Saturday -- Library

Books for reading aloud:
Follow Me
Gossie and Gertie
The Story about Ping
Make Way for Ducklings

Coloring with crayons
Play with rubber ducks
Play with bubbles
Look at the ducks at the park

Six Little Ducks

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tea for Two

This afternoon my little girl and I had "tea" on the kitchen floor.  We spread out a clean dish towel and got out her toy tea set.  I filled the teapot with water and the little sugar bowl with crushed ice.  We poured "tea," and added "sugar" and drank from the little cups.  Much of the water ended up on the floor, but then all that was needed was to wipe up the water with the towel and hang it up to dry and then go into the laundry.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yarn Along

I finished the washcloth I was working on last week.  I was using this pattern, for those who wondered.  I started a baby hat because my sister-in-law will have a baby girl in a few weeks.  I think the hat may turn out a bit too big (because I knit really loosely, apparently), but it will still fill a spot on my Christmas list, and I should have plenty of time to knit one smaller.

The book pictured is the baby's current favorite, which, I am sad to discover, does not seem to be currently in print.  It would be easier to just let her  play with it, knowing I can easily get a replacement copy, but I feel like it needs to be a read together only book for right now, since we really don't know how to handle books with paper pages yet.

Go visit Ginny for more knitting and reading.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Humility is truth, both good and bad.

Humility is acknowledging that I am not perfect, that I am a sinner and I must ask for forgiveness, that without the grace of God at every step along the way I will not make it to heaven.  I do not have an angelic understanding, so I must submit my intellect to the revelation of God through the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and Sacred Scripture.

Humility is accepting that as a fallen human being I must suffer.  This is the penance sent to me by almighty God for the good of my soul.  I should accept the dawn and midnight rocking sessions with a baby who woke too early as the gift they are and offer them back to God.

At the same time, a "humility" that denies the truth of my skills and talents is false.  It would be false, and therefore not humble, to deny that I am a skilled pianist, that I have a good singing voice, that I am academically talented.  These things are all gifts from God, and it would be wrong to deny them.  It is an aspect of humility to accept compliments simply, with a smile and a "thank you."

I think true humility leads to joy and contentment, and I strive for these things.

Monday, July 4, 2011

This Week

Theme:  Colors

Monday -- Out
Tuesday -- Breakfast casserole, strawberries
Wednesday -- Leftover breakfast casserole, apples
Thursday -- scrambled eggs, bran muffins, apples
Friday -- black bean and rice salad
Saturday -- grilled fajita chicken, leftover black bean salad or mashed potatoes and veggies
Quick Alternate -- tuna salad sandwiches, stir-fry veggies

Getting out of the house:
Monday -- Groceries and visit cousins
Tuesday -- Walgreens for washable crayons (and a couple other things)
Wednesday -- Thrift store or fabric store
Thursday -- Lafreniere Park
Friday -- Walk around the mall
Saturday -- Library

Books for reading aloud:
Follow Me
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Poky Little Puppy
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

Try coloring with crayons
Play with colored stacking rings
Play with brightly colored blocks

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Child-Friendly Home

Ginny over at small things has some great ideas that I want to remember for when my children get a little older.  I am particularly fond of the enamelware mugs (I hate plastic cups!).

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feast of the Sacred Heart

A plenary indulgence is available tomorrow if the Act of Reparation is recited publicly (with the usual conditions of sacramental Confession and Holy Communion).  A partial indulgence is available to those who recite it privately.

Tomorrow would be a good day to to make an extra-special effort to go to daily Mass if you are able.

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

A pretty new hat for her first birthday.
This is one happy baby with the funny Scottish fuzzy cow that her grandma sent for her birthday.  She's absolutely delighted with it.
I think my baby has learned to play dress-up.  She puts a scarf around her shoulders and crawls around the house like that.

I'm not sure what the attraction is, but this is the book that my little girl gets in trouble most often for pulling off the shelf to play with (she's awfully hard on books, especially those with paper pages).  Maybe it's the bright blue cover.
This is mama's attempt at re-direction.  It works ... sometimes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yarn Along

I've been knitting a green dishcloth this week.  It seems to come out much better with smaller, bamboo needles.  I think I must knit very loosely.  As you can see, I haven't made a whole lot of progress knitting this week, probably because I have been reading this book.  The Blue Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang, is a collection of classic versions of fairy tales from all over the world.  These are non-Disney-fied versions were the evil characters (and occasionally the good characters) sometimes come to very sticky ends.  I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and I may have to explore some of the other books in this series.

Be sure to head over to small things for more knitting and reading.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blessing Before Childbirth

I had the privilege yesterday to receive the "Blessing of a pregnant woman in danger of childbirth" according to the old Rituale Romanum. The prayer asks specifically that the "child live to be reborn in holy baptism, and continuing always in your service, be found worthy of attaining everlasting life."  It's a wonderful blessing.  Here's the Blessing of an Expectant Mother (in English) and the Benedictio Mulieris Praegnantis in periculis partus (Latin text on p. 349-350).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm beginning to see ...

that sometimes the things I consider a cross are really a blessing.

A couple weeks ago, my baby abruptly stopped sleeping through the night.  It seems she's teething.  Every night I hope that this will be the night she will go back to sleeping ten or eleven hours at a stretch.  Every night I am disappointed.  Last night, I was still wide awake, tossing and turning (and probably driving my poor husband crazy) when she woke up.  I could tell that state of affairs could have gone on for several more hours.  By rocking my baby to sleep, I effectively rocked my self to sleep as well.  After I put her back in her crib, I went back to bed and fell asleep immediately.

This morning, when I woke feeling relatively rested, I thanked my guardian angel for the help.

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

My wonderful husband decided that I needed a lamp on the new piano.  Doesn't it look inviting?  I think it's just perfect!
The swaddling blankets for my baby boy are finished.  I'm starting to feel like I might be ready for him to arrive.
When I cut open an apple at lunch, one of the seeds had sprouted.
Lunch for my little girl involves a lot of chopping:   in this case, apples and cheese.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yarn Along

I'm still working on the same book as last week, and I don't really have anything further to say about it.  I'm working on another strip of the same blanket in Tunisian crochet, and in between strips I crocheted a washcloth using the same technique.  I'm really happy with the way the washcloth turned out; I will probably be doing more like this.  My baby surprise jacket just needs a few finishing touches: seams, buttons, and weaving in ends.

Be sure to visit small things for more knitting, crocheting and reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Word

Yesterday my baby girl uttered her first word.  There have been some sounds that seemed to make sense in context, but we weren't quite sure whether she was really using them as words, or just coincidentally babbling that particular sound at that moment.  This time was abundantly clear.  I asked, "Would you like another bite of <whatever it was I was feeding her -- I don't remember>?" and she responded with a hand pushing the spoon away, "NO NO NO."  Her daddy and I cracked up, which made her angry.  Poor baby.  You said "NO," and your mommy and daddy laughed.

A few minutes later, her daddy left the room for a moment (to get something for her, no less) and she wailed, "aaAA- DA-DA-DA!"  He is, at the moment, the preferred parent.  He denies this, but it's true.  And it's okay.  It's good for daddy to get to be a superhero.

"Mamama" has seen some somewhat ambiguous use, and "Nanana" is a sort of universal complaint.

To be fair, I've been trying to supply the word "No" along with the gesture when she refuses something, and that is clearly what she means.  I guess it worked.

But still.  My baby's first word was "No."

Friday, June 17, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 14)

1.  I read an article in the local newspaper sometime in the last few weeks about "math anxiety."  It talked about people who label themselves as bad at math, the social acceptability of that label, and the fact that anxiety very effectively shuts off the parts of the brain needed to do math.  This article had several interesting points, but one in particular resurfaced the other day when I read another article in Parents Magazine.  According to the article in the newspaper the foundational skill that people with math anxiety struggle with is quickly identifying which number is greater than the other.  According to the article in Parents, the game UNO reinforces this concept, and children who play UNO do better in math than those who don't.  (Now I'm thinking about the rules of the game and wondering how exactly it does this ...?)

2.  Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter has been posting about teaching reading.  One of the things she emphasizes is the use of good books and high quality literature.  This reminds me of my experience learning music.  I started with Suzuki piano, which uses real classical music from the best composers right from the beginning.  I find the "music" offered in most method books repulsive, similar to reading exercises in many beginning readers.  There was a valuable link to turn of the century children's literature in the comments of this post.

3.  A recipe for an apple dessert that I must try:  Scalloped Apples Dessert in the Slow Cooker.  This looks really tasty, and really easy.

4.  I stumbled upon a fantastic list of lunch ideas at Charming the Birds from the Trees.  I'll have to try some of these.

5.  One of the things I've been pondering in the last few weeks is what, beyond political activism, does it mean to be pro-life?  I've come to a few conclusions.  Does anyone else have thoughts on the subject?

6.  I've also been considering the relationship between generosity and gentleness.

7.  Have a great weekend, everyone.  Be sure to visit Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes posts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

{Pretty} and {Funny}
Pretty, because I really like this picture (I only wish I could show you how wonderful those stir-fried veggies smelled!) and funny, because, well, I took a picture of my lunch!
I have really missed having a piano in the house to play, and we were recently able to purchase an electronic piano.  Usually I am an acoustic snob, but with this instrument I can play after the baby has gone to bed or while she is napping. She also like to hear me play, which also makes me very happy.
Soft flannel is sitting on my sewing desk ready to be hemmed.  I'm making swaddling blankets for the baby boy who is due in a few more weeks, because I discovered with my first baby that it is nearly impossible to buy blankets that are suitable for swaddling (they're either too small or not square).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yarn Along

My baby surprise jacket is finally back in the works, and looking at my pattern, I realized today that it's nearly finished.  While I have been gathering up the courage to pick up the necessary stitches on the baby sweater, I have been working on a many-years-old UFO (unfinished object, since I know one or two of my readers won't understand that abbreviation).  It's a blanket in Tunisian crochet.  I've been working it in strips, which I will sew together when they are all done, before working a border.  There are four strips there (they're wrapped like that because they want to curl up the other direction when first finished; storing them like this seems to help them relax) and I have several more to go.

Finally, this is a book that caught my eye sitting on a shelf.  The title intrigued me, so I'm reading it.  It's pretty slow going, as it is very dense reading.  I can't tell you much else just yet because I've only just started.

Go read about some more knitting and reading over at small things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


All the virtues build on each other, so I've been pondering gentleness from that angle.  What are the vices that might keep me from being gentle?  What does it take to be gentle?

The first vice that comes to mind as being opposed to gentleness is selfishness.  If I am thinking of myself and what I want, then I will be harsh and impatient when interrupted.  If, on the other hand, I am thinking of how I may serve others, then I will be quick and cheerful in meeting their needs.  After dinner I usually clean up the kitchen.  If, while I'm doing that, I'm thinking of myself  (I'm tired.  I want to go to bed.  I want to sit down.), then I will leave the job half-done, doing just enough to keep the dirty dishes from taking over, and I'll take twice as long as I need to accomplish it.  If I'm interrupted in such a frame of mind, I'm likely to delay and frown as I respond to whoever needs my attention.  If, however, I'm thinking of others (If I set the timer on the coffee maker, then my husband will have an easier time getting up in the morning.  I should sweep the floor, so that the baby won't try to put anything yucky in her mouth tomorrow morning.), then I move more quickly, do the job more thoroughly, and if interrupted, will respond more promptly and cheerfully.

Similarly, pride will prevent me from being gentle.  If I am proud when I encounter an inconvenience (like the person in the parking garage driving really slowly ... he'll make me late for my appointment!  How dare he!) then I will be incensed because of the infringement upon my "rights."  I may speak harshly either to the offender, if he is available, or to everyone else around me if he is not.  If I am humble then I realize that the big bad world doesn't owe me a thing (and if I'm late for my appointment, then I should accounted for unexpected delays and left the house earlier) and I will remain calm.

In order to acquire the habit of always being gentle I should learn to keep my thoughts in a generous, humble vein.  When I start to feel impatient, I should respond by thinking of the needs of others (remembering, of course, that I also have a duty to meet my own needs; I am unlikely to be gentle to anyone if I am exhausted and cross.)

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Thine.  Amen.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 13)

I'm a little late posting this, and even later posting several other things, so here are all the things I meant to write about this week.

1.  Yarn Along.
Since my baby surprise jacket is stalled for the moment, I've been working on a crocheted blanket that I started several years ago and never finished.  The baby surprise jacket promises to be back in the works very soon, so I will post pictures of both on Wednesday.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}
2. If I had brought my camera with me to Mass on Ascension Thursday, I would have taken a picture of the {pretty} new floor of the sanctuary of the Dominican Nuns' chapel in Lockport, LA.  The last time I was there it was still a work in progress, and now it is all finished and everything is back in its place.  It looks wonderful.

3.  Speaking of which, I was really {happy} that we managed to find a place to assist at Ascension Thursday Mass on Ascension Thursday (as opposed to Ascension Thursday Sunday, which is what it will be tomorrow at our usual parish church).  Deo gratias.

4.  {Funny}  My baby has recently taken to clapping her hands when we say grace before and after meals (her father and I put our hands together).  That's almost the idea, my girl!

5.  {Real} (but also happy!)  My little girl can now walk if I hold only one of her hands.  She will be walking on her own any day now!

6.  One thing I actually did manage to write a post about was being pro-life.  You all might be interested.

7.  I also had a few things to say about chapel veils.  In case you didn't know, women were required by canon law to cover their heads in church (not just during Mass, but anytime they entered a church) from the time of Pope Linus (the second pope) up until the new Code of Canon Law in 1983.  It is a truly ancient custom, and one shared by our Eastern brethren.  Perhaps we are impoverished by its loss.  Perhaps it should be recovered.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to stop by Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes posts.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wearing a Chapel Veil

Fr. Z has an interesting post about wearing chapel veils in a place where other women don't do so.  I think he gives excellent advice (the comments, as is to be expected on such a topic, range from very helpful to downright crazy).  I have a few points to add to the mix.

I wear a chapel veil (a large, black, lace triangle kept in my purse) every time I set foot in a church.  I am a convert, and in the place where I converted it was customary for women to cover their heads every time they stepped into the church.  I have adopted this custom.

At first I was self-conscious about wearing a veil in churches where I would be the only woman doing so.  I was afraid of being chastised by the parish priest.  I found over time that I was even more uncomfortable with not wearing a veil.  I have, on various occasions, worn a hat, shawl, or scarf instead.  I recommend this option if you are concerned about drawing attention to yourself or appearing overly pious.  This was recommended several times in the comments over at Fr. Z's blog, and it is a good solution.

I find that a veil does indeed help immensely with distractions (on of the reasons the questioner gave for wanting to wear a veil).  I think this is partially because of the reduction in peripheral vision, partially because it is a reminder to myself that I am in church and I ought to at least try to focus, and partially because it tends to discourage people who might otherwise want to strike up a conversation with me.

It is unfortunately easy to start thinking badly of anyone who doesn't do the same optional pious practices that I do.  There are plenty of pious practices that I don't do and can't do to keep me humble, but I recognize the temptation.  If wearing a veil would add fuel to the fire, it would probably be better not to do so.  That said, I wouldn't worry too much if the concern is that other people will think that you think that you're better than they are.  As long as you don't actually think that, those opinions are irrelevant.

At this point, wearing a veil has become a non-issue for me; it's simply what I do.  I no longer worry about what other people think, or what other people might think I think.  I do find it refreshing on the rare occasion that I find myself in a place where the majority of the women are wearing veils.  I feel at home, as I do in places where people are quiet before and after Mass and many stay for a few minutes to pray after Mass has ended.

Okay, I'm done.  Soapbox over.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being Pro-Life

I've been thinking lately about what  it means to be pro-life.  Right now things like political activism and prayer vigils outside abortion mills are not in the cards for me.  As my mother-in-law and husband often say: duty before devotion.  I have duties that preclude doing such things.

So what does being pro-life mean in my life, right now? 

It means not complaining about being pregnant.  Being pregnant is not that bad, certainly not nearly as bad as some women make it out to be.  Yes, I'm uncomfortable.  Yes, my ankles are swelling.  Yes, it's May in Louisiana and I'm hot.  Yes, I'm tired.  But ... I'm healthy and my baby is healthy and I can do everything I need to do.  Pregnancy is not a huge inconvenience, so I'm not going to complain about it.  Honestly, it's not half as bad as I thought it would be based on the whining I heard as a young single woman (and I had major surgery mid-way through my first pregnancy.

Being pro-life also means being positive about my 11-month-old.  I don't consider her an inconvenience, and I want people to see that she doesn't inconvenience me.  She sweet and good-tempered.  I can take her to the store and she behaves beautifully.  I can take her out to dinner, and in most restaurants I can find something for her to eat.  The other day, we took her to a social event at a museum.  She looked at the paintings and she smiled at people and she didn't fuss at all.  Being six months pregnant while caring for a child under a year old is not a nightmare scenario (many people would consider it so).  I want people to see from my appearance, demeanor, and conversation (and the appearance and behavior of my children) that children are a blessing, not a burden.

People are tempted to prevent the conception or birth of children because they consider children a burden.  We can do things to change this perception.  We can start by speaking well of our children, just as we ought to do for our spouse.  In churches and other public places where we have influence, take measures to make them baby-friendly.  For example:  make sure there are changing tables in restrooms, and make sure nursing mothers of newborns have a relatively comfortable, private place where they can take their babies to nurse (this means making it clear to fathers of toddlers that it is not a space to take a misbehaving older child).

For me, being pro-life means showing the world how wonderful my children are.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cooperating with Grace: Thanksgiving after Communion

I talked the other day about preparing for Holy Communion in order to be receptive to grace, but cooperating with the grace that God is waiting to give to the soul in Holy Communion doesn't stop there.  It is also important to be attentive during Mass.  For me, at the moment, the best I can do is prepare, try, and realize that if I am distracted by meeting the needs of a wiggly baby then there is merit in that also.

That brings me to the practice of making a thanksgiving after Communion.  If a beloved and awaited guest arrived at your house, would you say, "Hi.  Sorry.  I'm really busy today.  I have to run.  See you later!" and go on about your business?  Certainly not!  You would sit down, spend time with your guest, chat, catch up, offer a drink, etc.  You would put aside other things and spend time with your guest.  How much more then, should we put aside other affairs and spend a few minutes in prayer with our Lord after receiving Him in Holy Communion?

This is challenging for me for several reasons.  When Mass ends, I still have the baby.  Sometimes she has fallen asleep, but more often she is awake and, having reached the end of her attention span, needs something new to do or look at.  Where we go to Mass there is also the commotion of people leaving the church, chatting (sometimes while still inside the church), and sometimes wanting to strike up a conversation with me (I am holding a baby, after all -- the ultimate conversation starter).

Because it is no longer necessary to be absolutely silent (the church is not silent anyway), I solve the problem of a fidgety little girl by talking to her.  I simply include her in my conversation with our Lord.  I explain what we're doing and pray with her.  We make a simple act of Faith and adoration, thank our Lord for the privilege of assisting at Mass and coming to me in Holy Communion, and make whatever petitions seem appropriate.  If, for whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be working, I go out of the church and wait for my husband to be ready to go, and then go back into the church for a few minutes while he entertains our little girl.

I think the effort to spend at least a little time in thanksgiving for Mass and Communion (incidentally, I would make a thanksgiving for Mass even if I didn't receive Communion) is more important than the form.  It is fitting that it should take place immediately (after all, you wouldn't receive a guest into your house and then abandon him to his own devices for a couple hours without a very pressing reason).  If your situation allows for such helps as holy cards and printed prayers, there is another excellent prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas that matches the one I suggested for preparation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.

I made curtain tie-backs for my kitchen window and a fabric bin to contain kitchen laundry.    I'm really pleased with the way both turned out.
I'm knitting along making a Baby Surprise Jacket.  It's my very first sweater, and I'm excited about it.  Here I've just started.

And here is my current progress.  This picture is a much better representation of the color of the yarn.
And then there were eleven.  This mug is another casualty of my pregnancy hands.  Does anyone else find that they extra clumsy in the third trimester?  The mug slipped out of my hand as I was loading the dishwasher, and chipped exactly where everyone around here would drink from it, since we're all right-handed.  Funny in an ironic sort of way.

In the midst of moving the lampshade broke away from the metal frame that holds it on the lamp.  After trying unsuccessfully to replace the shade (we couldn't find anything of the right type in an appropriate size)  I glued it back together.  So here it is, sitting upside down on waxed paper, waiting for the glue to dry.  It worked beautifully, by the way.

round button chicken

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yarn Along

I'm knitting along, making a Baby Surprise Jacket.  It's my very first sweater, and so far I'm enjoying it.  I've been reading the rest of The Opinionated Knitter as well, and I think it's a book I will really enjoy.  I already have plans to use some of the other patterns.

Go visit small things to see what other people have been knitting and crocheting this week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cooperating with Grace: Preparing for Holy Communion

Christ the King
a detail from the Ghent Altarpice by Jan van Eyck.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
The world is full of sources of grace.  God pours out grace in abundance, but we receive grace only to the extent to which we cooperate.  There is limitless grace to be found in Holy Communion, but one who receives it without being properly disposed, without attention, and without gratitude will gain no benefit.

The first part of being properly disposed is to be in the state of grace.  It is, of course, best to live so as to be as nearly as possible always in the state of grace.  If you become aware that you are in the state of mortal sin, hasten to receive the Sacrament of Confession.  But then, if you are interested in grace, you know all that.

The next thing is to keep the Communion fast.  This is now a fairly light requirement:  we are to abstain from food and drink for one hour before receiving Holy Communion (water and necessary medicine do not violate the fast).    But again, you know all that.

Here's where I fall short.  If I were receiving an important guest into my home, I'd want it to be clean and uncluttered.  I would spend time planning and preparing special meals to entertain my guest.  I would put away partially finished projects, pick up the baby's toys, and put everything in its place.  In short, I would put quite a lot of time and effort into preparing to welcome a human guest into my home.  How much effort to I put into preparing to welcome the King of Heaven into my soul?  Sometimes I skate into church the moment before (or after) Mass begins, having given no thought at all to Mass, Holy Communion, and Our Lord other than to get us up and dressed and out the door in time to get there.

I think for me preparation needs to happen the day before.  I'll look at the readings and prayers ahead of time in order to help me be attentive during Mass.  Then I'll recite this prayer, and those will be a couple of small steps in the right direction.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yarn Along

I knit two more pairs of mittens this week.  I like them.  They're fun.  These are my very first stripes.  I finally discovered that it's really quite easy to change colors of yarn while knitting.  I think I'll probably take a break from mittens for a little while, but I definitely plan to come back to them; they will make good Christmas presents, and I have several more pairs already planned.

As for reading, I finally finished A Mother's Rule of Life.  I found it generally an interesting and inspiring read.  It presents some interesting ideas, not all of which are applicable at this season of my life, and not all of which will ever be useful to me, but some will.  I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

We got the curtains and tie-back up in the nursery in our new place.  I think they're pretty.

I managed to get enough boxes unpacked to clear off the top of this bookshelf.

It now houses some of our most-used books.  It makes me happy every time I look at it.
Once upon a time there was a kit to make a gingerbread train.  The gingerbread train was supposed to entertain some children who didn't come to the party at Christmas.  It was sent home with me to entertain some other children instead.  It was then forgotten.  We moved, and the train resurfaced.  I decided we should eat the cookies, so I decorated them in a springy sort of way.  I am choosing to think of this as funny rather than pathetic.
Baby likes to play with the washcloth after I wipe her face and hands after meals.  She like to chew on it, and, as you see here, she likes to test gravity with it ... as many times as Mama will pick it up and give it back to her.

round button chicken