{SQT} Halloween and 40th Birthdays



Join Kelly for more better quick takes.

It’s been busy for everyone. I know. I KNOW. I still have to comment on it because I didn’t earn these adult stripes so I could sit back and not complain about things having been better in my day and the swift passage of time. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to since the last time I posted.

  1. Punkin carving! Thanks to some good friends, we carved the punkins and had a grand time doing it. However, I must say that I truly hate punkin guts. Like a lot.

  2. Of course, punkin carving means Halloween was right around the corner and we had a scary group of vampires and one (Teen Wolf-looking, though not inspired) werewolf.IMG_4305
  3. Halloween was quickly followed by All Saints Day at the kids’ school. Being Eastern, we celebrate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost, complete with costumes and prizes. But, the kids go to a Catholic school, so they have All Saints on November 1 as well. My hippy was looking pretty episcopal if I do say so myself.


  4. My best friend turned 40, so we had a bash for her. It was so fun to see people from all of her circles. We had dinner at a pub followed by swing dancing at a studio that we rented out. We arranged for some dancers to teach an initial lesson/refresher to get everyone into the…wait for it…SWING of things. It was a ton of fun.IMG_4368
  5. Reflecting on my friend growing older (I long ago decided to just remain 29 forever), I was struck by the love that surrounds me. I have often reflected that God’s major way of “intervention” in human affairs is through love. As I remember the night I met my dear friend, I see nothing but miraculous intervention. So, allow me a momentary detour down memory lane…
  6. I really met my friend one night at a young adults group (just a few years ago, because I’m 29, remember?). I’d actually been introduced to her at a Theology on Tap several weeks prior and I remembered her because she’s from the town I was born in. We were two twenty-somethings (29 still seemed like a far ways off…it still does), newly married, and I was expecting my first baby. I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed. She was so enthusiastic and wanting to talk and talk. My husband is like that, so there I was, stuck outside after the doors had been locked for the night, standing under a street lamp, listening to the most enthusiastic Texan I’d met in a while, and wondering when, for the love of God, I was going to get to go home.DCF 1.0
  7. To say that I hit it off with her right away would be a lie. She became a friend of necessity on both sides. She’d left the workforce when she and her husband moved to our town because they were planning to start a family. I had just moved back after a year in Maryland and was expecting to start my career as a SAHM with my first baby. We had no other unemployed friends. We hung out with each other because there wasn’t anyone else. But we grew to love each other as people do when they have no choice but to rely on each other. She saw me through that baby’s death. I was with her when she gave birth the first time. She and her husband came to my house following the ultrasound that confirmed the death of their first son. We’ve attended the funerals of each others children, vacationed together, fought through sleep deprivation together, been angry at our husbands together, learned to love and accept our husbands, seen lean times and times of plenty, been swept along on this breathless adventure together where we ended up in states of life that we did not previously anticipate, laughed, cried, and lived. This is love. We couldn’t have known what we were choosing so many few (cuz 29! forever!) years ago when we chose to accept the gift of friendship the Lord so generously offered to us. We couldn’t have known how generous the offer was. But I can truly say that my life, my soul, has been profoundly changed because of it and that is no small miracle.

    Our kids have formed friendships out of our friendship. These two were the first. They’re big, old kids now – another miracle.

Guest Blogger – 4 Reasons Why

I assigned my son an essay on obedience because I read a parenting blog. What follows is his response. I’m not really sure that this is what the parenting expert had in mind…

4 Reasons Why: Why I Should Obey My Mother

By The Scholar

This new entry in Four Reasons Why features why you should obey mother. The first reason is that she’s the one who is married to your father and she will use him as a weapon against you. The second reason is she is the one who brought you to this world and you should respect her. The third reason is mothers are like cats, they will shed very few tears over your punishment and if you hate the punishment she will use it as her first resort. Fourth reason, she knows every embarrassing thing that has happened to you and she will share it.

The first reason is that she will use your father against you. What this means is that your father doesn’t know what to do nine out of ten times and when he hears, “Brook!” he awaits orders and those orders consist mostly of, “ Beat that child!” Second reason is  you should respect her. Your mother gave birth to you (and may I note with much pain did she do this,) and she feels that she should have a nice, respectful child. The third reason is that she will not only laugh at you while you hopelessly perform burpies she will use them more often. Fourth reason is that she will share every embarrassing thing that happened to you during her women’s book club. My mother personally does this every time I’ve been a bad boy, she always has a new, humiliating story to share. If you like this blog, try some other 4 Reasons Why.

He hasn’t written any more 4 Reasons Why, but I’ll post them if he does.


7QT – School Days, New Year, Hurricanes

Thanks to Kelly for hosting the link up. It’s been a while since I posted.


  1. Part of the reason I haven’t posted is because we’ve been so busy. September 1 is the beginning of the Byzantine New Year (Julian Calendar) and it is followed by some big feasts in quick succession. Why do the Byzantine Catholics start the new liturgical year in September instead of the first Sunday of Advent as the Romans?From the Eparchy of Phoenix:

    The first day of the Church New Year is also called the beginning of the Indiction. The term Indiction comes from a Latin word meaning, “to impose.” It was originally applied to the imposition of taxes in Egypt. The first worldwide Indiction was in 312 when the Emperor Constantine (May 21) saw a miraculous vision of the Cross in the sky. Before the introduction of the Julian calendar, Rome began the New Year on September 1. According to Holy Tradition, Christ entered the synagogue on September 1 to announce His mission to mankind (Luke 4:16-22). Quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, the Savior proclaimed, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim release to captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” This scene is depicted in a Vatican manuscript (Vatican, Biblioteca. Cod. Gr. 1613, p.1). Tradition says that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land in September. According to Holy Tradition, Christ entered the synagogue on September 1 to announce His mission to mankind (Luke 4:16-22). Quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, the Savior proclaimed, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim release to captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” This scene is depicted in a Vatican manuscript (Vatican, Biblioteca. Cod. Gr. 1613, p.1).Tradition says that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land in September.

  2. The feast days for us mean that we go to a long liturgy the night before the feast (vespers with Divine Liturgy) because we can’t go during the day on the day of the feast due to school and work. There’s the Nativity of the Theotokos on September 8 and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14. While the Exaltation of the Cross is commemorated with a strict fast, we enjoyed feasting for the Theotokos including a MEAT Friday. I made lemon pie for her birthday and it was delicious.


  3. The boys both developed bronchitis, so that also added to the craziness. They’ve coughed until I cannot think anymore. Thankfully, antibiotics and the nebulizer have helped to heal them and we look to be over the worst of it. I am so glad that no one else got sick!
  4. My brother and his wife came to visit us for a couple of weeks while they fled the hurricane. They have the cutest boys in the world! We really didn’t think we’d see my brother and sister-in-law until next summer, so Irma gave us a sweet treat. It was such a relief when they made it out of town. They left before the hurricane changed projected course and went right through their town.


  5. School is in full swing, the sick days both boys took notwithstanding. I love listening to my kids talk about their school experiences. The other day both boys had one-liners that cracked me up.

  6. Instacart! I had my Costco order delivered again today and I just cannot rave about this service enough. It revolutionizes my Saturdays. I made pancakes this morning and realized I was at the end of my of maple syrup, so I added it to my list and it was delivered just a couple of hours later. If you have it in your area, check it out!
  7. Our refugees leave this week and we will miss them so much. I love babies and these babies are some of my favorites. I’m so thankful that they were safe from the storm, but there were many who were not spared. Please keep those who are recovering and rebuilding in your prayers. Also, consider participating in the USCCB’s special collection this weekend.


The Forerunner

In what way, then, was this just man harmed by this demise, this violent death, these chains, this imprisonment? Who are those he did not set back on their feet – provided they had a penitent disposition – because of what he suffered, because of what he still proclaims today – the same message he preached while he was living. Therefore, do not say: “Why was John allowed to die?” For what occurred was not a death but a crown, not an end but the beginning of a greater life. Learn to think and live like a Christian. You not only will remain unharmed by these events, but will reap the greatest benefits. – St. John Chrysostom.


We attended the vesperal divine liturgy last night for the feast of the Forerunner, Baptizer, and Prophet John. Tonight, we went rock climbing and ate shrimp boil without plates or knives in commemoration of his death. No globe-shaped foods were used in the making of this feast day.


The glorious beheading of the Forerunner was part of God’s saving plan that the coming of the Savior might be announced even to those in Hades. Let Herodias mourn for she sought a lawless murder because she loved neither the Law of God nor eternal life, but only this false and fleeting life. – Kontakion of the Feast.

Happy feast day!


SQT – Vegas, Babies, and Rock Climbing


It’s been full swing at school and work, so I’ve had a hard time finding time to blog. I still need to finish posting about my trip to the middle east, but in the meantime I’ll join the other bloggers at Kelly’s for some SQTs.

1. Last week I joined a couple of my siblings in Vegas for my cousin’s wedding. I’d had to go to Phoenix, AZ for a deposition, so it was just a quick flight up to Vegas after I finished with work. My brother arrived in Vegas just a little before me, so he met me at my gate with a drink. Hey, what happens…

2. My cousin is in the midst of graduate education and had to fit the wedding in this summer. I can’t imagine being in Vegas in August during any point of pregnancy, but she pulled it off beautifully. See those flowers, they are palm leaves bent and twisted into shape by guys on the street. I’m going to have to up my Palm Sunday game. Congratulations, sweet people! You are so cute!

Collage credit goes to a relative of the groom. She did a fantastic job of capturing stills from a live stream.

3. When I wasn’t at the wedding, I was at the pool, eating from the room service menu, or otherwise enjoying my super fun siblings. We also went to Cher. Cher’s show can be summed up in her own words, “I turned 71 this year and surprised even myself by doing a 5 minute plank last week. So, I just want you to ask yourself, what is your granny doing tonight?!” She was amazing.

4. My babies are getting bigger all the time, as you could see in my back to school post. But, it wasn’t so long ago that they were babies and my FB feed reminds me of how wonderful those days were.


Agh! My heart! Where did the time go?!

5. We joined a rock climbing gym and today we bought our harnesses so we’re, like, real rock climbers now. #notreally


6. We actually have really enjoyed the family time together. The kids and I are able to go fairly often, so it’s become my new exercise. That means, gasp, I quit crossfit. It was bound to be. My younger sister stopped doing crossfit in favor of more rock climbing and I do whatever she does.

7. Tonight we watched an old movie. I love that my kids will do that with me. Raise your hands if you love The Trouble with Angels.


Party on, fiesta people!


How they are now….


The Scholar started middle school. He has a locker. He changes classes 7 times a day. He’s SO big. I love him. He’s the best kid. He is very easy going and takes our parenting foibles in stride. I thanked him for dealing with my parenting awkward the other day and he told me that it’s part of his role as the eldest. All. The. Feels.

The Hippy is in fourth grade. He has made so much progress in school during the last two years. It is really incredible. He is still the hardest working of the three. He spent the summer organizing our closets and reading. He has decided on parkour as his extracurricular this year. He is also taking piano lessons with me. I love him so much. If a mother can be indulged a favorite…well, I mean, he cleans closets. Amiright?

The Princess is in second grade. She is a smart little fireball. She alternates between pure rage and cuddly baby-ness. She has been described as having a will of granite…by strangers. She certainly makes an impact in our family. She really is a little love, though. We enjoy her so much. She is very aware of everyone’s feelings and goes out of her way to express love. I so enjoy snuggling her because she is still little enough to curl up in my arms. She is so strong, too. She rocked parkour, but has decided to just rock climb with me. She is also taking piano with me.


The husband and I are doing well, too. We celebrated 14 years of wedded bliss. Well, okay, marriage is not easy. It’s about growing and preparing to be united to God. As such, it’s pretty much not about me or him being blissful. That said, I’d say that our marriage gets sweeter every year. This guy and I started dating 20 years ago and I can say I don’t regret a minute of it.


7QT – Staycation and Apple Butter

Thanks to Kelly for hosting the weekly link-up.


So as I stated last week, we have been staycationing this week. I made a commitment of not checking my work email until after 2pm and I almost made it. Good job, me!

mediocrity1. As for the rest of the staycation…we did pick apples, but we didn’t get them blessed. I found some almost withered plums in the back of the fridge and took them in for the blessing because I will not be defeated. Isn’t there a story somewhere about offering lesser fruit?


2. We also made apple butter. I used my Instant Pot to pressure and the slow cook the apples and it was wonderful. I have major heart eyes for the Instant Pot. I originally bought an extra inner pot and then told myself that I didn’t need it. Well, fellas, I needed it. I had the Instant Pot going at the same time as the extra inner pot on the stove. Can you believe it? I just put that bad boy on a diffuser and was able to have two full 8qt pots going at the same time. I may become one of those crazies with two, TWO, Instant Pots. Time will tell.

3. We also finished the school projects. And by we, I mean me. Look guys, I don’t think that these projects really teach anything. I think they are parent torture activities and I hate them. That said, look how good I did! I are smart and crafty.

My cousins and husband made Broke Back jokes about the pair on the horse. People! Clearly this is a loving rescue of a baby horse by a brave brother-sister team.

4. We celebrated Taco Tuesday with taco donuts from this really awesome local donut shop. Rebel Donuts for the win. And they have fantastic gluten free donuts for moi!

5. We’ve been swimming and rock climbing. We also tried out parkour and had a lot of fun. Disclaimer: I am really as good as the video because I are also much athleticism.

6. We had the orientation mass at the kids’ school, so I naturally did not take a first day of school picture. I DID get all the school supplies delivered. Whew!

7. I also got my cabinets reloaded with all of our junk. I paid a guy to paint our 70s style dark wood cabinets and I am so happy with the result. He painted the insides and put on new hardware. I’ll post an after picture so that you won’t have the befores for comparison. I really rock this blogging gig.

School is back in session on Monday and staycation ends as well. Likely this also means that my spurt of blogging activity will also end, but who knows. After all….



Holy Thursday – In the Garden with Jesus

Well, now, I’m just tearing through our trip with two, whole posts in one week. Check out parts 123456, and 7.

We’d just finished Holy Thursday Mass at the Notre Dame Visitor’s Center. Our kids were really starting to tire. So, we found a place to have our own last supper before we carted the younger kids off to bed. IMG_2701

We decided that our very best bet would be to put the younger kids to bed and go to the Garden of Gethsemane in shifts. My sister, oldest boy, and I took the first shift and headed over to the Garden and the Basilica of the Agony.

This was by far my favorite church. It is gorgeous and covered in mosaics. It is the Bible alive in color and movement. The whole history of salvation places out from the altar to the ceiling to the floor. It was incredible. It was also very crowded. We did not find room inside the church, so we sat by the gated Garden. We all agreed that this was the best part of the visit.

Strangely, the green lights did not detract from the feeling that you were there. It was dark, these olive trees are free from the otherwise centuries of building and “preserving” that have happened at the other sights. You could image Jesus in sorrow and the sleepiness of the disciples.


An interesting fact about the Garden of Gethsemane that I was not previously aware of: these are the oldest known olive trees in scientific literature. They were carbon dated to 1092 to 1198. Moreover, they are all genetically related, having been planted from the very same parent plant. It is speculated that people in the 1000s took steps to preserve the Garden and the original trees. I will say it again – these are the oldest recorded olive trees ever and they are in very healthy condition.

We prayed by the Garden until around midnight when we returned and let my dad and husband take the night shift. They went in the procession to the upper room and the cell where Jesus was held overnight after his encounter with the Sanhedrin.

Before we left, we visited the grounds of the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, which is also called the Church of the Assumption even though it should probably be called the Church of the Dormition, but it can’t be since that title is taken, ironically enough, by the Benedictines. At any rate, it is a lovely tradition to think of the Theotokos heading out from Ephasus to live her last days out near the Garden of Gethsemane and after having been there, I think it’s where I’d go, too.

Good Friday or Great and Holy Friday is coming up!

Israel At Last

The continuing the saga of our trip can be found in parts 123456, and 8.

We hit Amman at rush hour…just kidding. Every hour is rush hour in Amman. Thankfully we had my dad who took to this insanity like a fish in water.

Actual picture of traffic in Amman.

We only got lost a few times before we finally found a Burger King with wi-fi where we had a nice, American lunch and got “directions” from our phones. The directions got us within a few blocks of the hotel that we used for returning the rental van – dent and all. The concierge was very helpful and called a car to take us to the border office even though we weren’t guests of the hotel. I think he just wanted us and our baggage out of the breezeway. We were looking a little rough after our hike through Petra.

There are some disputes (understatement) about whether the border at the Allenby Crossing / King Hussein Bridge is an official border because the land on the Israel side is actually occupied Palestine. I decided against taking photos because there was a lot of checking for bombs and generally high security. Also, there are a lot of signs telling you not to take photos. The curtains are actually pulled once you get on the bus to go through no man’s land.

Notable things about this crossing: 1. We had a very stern-looking guard checking everyone on the Jordan side. I’d learned that our girl with the Arabic name and the super blonde hair was able to generate celebrity status just about everywhere, so I put her passport on top. The guard burst into a grin when he saw her name and became very accommodating, making our crossing super smooth. 2. When you do get to Israel, you have to take a cab to Jerusalem. I thought I was being very clever by just taking a cab when we got there….I was not. I should have just hired a driver. It’s a 30 to 45 min drive into Jerusalem from the Israeli terminal and, surprisingly, no one is willing to negotiate the cost of the cab. If you are alone or in a small group, you could split the cost with others and that might be cheaper. However, if you travel in a group of 7, like we did, just hire the car.

We got into Jerusalem and checked into our hotel. Joy of joys! You can drink tap water in Jerusalem. I had no idea how much I’d missed tap water. I just stood in the bathroom gulping water and reveling in yet another privilege that we Americans enjoy.

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast and headed out to enjoy the city. We had to stay in the new city because we had security clearances and whatnot to keep uncompromised, but we were just a couple of minutes from the old city. Jerusalem is beautiful with many lovely parks. The kids had a great time tramping around in the nearby parks while we waited for the other half of our group to wake, eat, and be ready to explore the old city.

We wondered around the old city and it was just overwhelming to be there. The history of this city and its persistence…to think that people have crowded these tiny streets, selling wares for thousands of years. You really get the sense of antiquity.

My dad was over the moon about being in Jerusalem. We saw very little of him because he was out prowling from early morning to late at night. It’s really cool to be a pilgrim in Jerusalem during Holy Week.

We did find him for lunch. My son loved being at the Western Wall and wore his complimentary yamaka for the rest of the day.

This was Holy Thursday, so we headed to mass at the Notre Dame Visitor’s Center. The Center is lovely and you run into some great people there.

That’s all for now. I will come back to tell you all about our favorite parts of the trip, including visiting the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night.


SQT – Staycation Aspirations

Oh, hello Seven Quick Takes, it’s only been a year or so since the last time I joined in Friday Fun with Kelly.


School’s almost back in!!!!! Errrmergerhd Erm So Errxcited. (Showing my age a bit.) I really am. Summer is always such a…chore. I thrive on order and routine. Summer is very disorderly and lacks routine, so I’m totally over it by August. Since I didn’t leave the country this year, I have enough vacation to take a staycation with the kids for the final week of summer…which means that today is:
praising-squirrel-1-workday-til-staycationSo, seven staycation aspirations? Are you in?

  1. I’m kind of a workaholic and won’t actually not work at all for a week. It’s just not in the nature of my person or my job. I already have one very early deposition on Monday morning that I’m telling myself is okay because it’ll be over before the kids even wake up for the day. And on Tuesday I’m going to move a bunch of settlements through a rolling docket. However, I expect to be finished fairly early. That means I can set the goal of no email for half of Tuesday, all of Wednesday and a good deal of Friday? This is cheating, right? Fine. Let’s set the goal of no checking work email until after 2pm Monday-Friday. Yes! I can do this! No phone calls either! ¡Si, Se Puede!
    Microsoft Word - Document1
  2. Day tripper, one way ticket, yeah! We’ve never been out to the Quarai Ruins. We love ruins and audiobooks, so I think this will be a great day trip for us. We’ll take a picnic and then find some little cafe/road stand to supplement our lunch.Unknown
  3. Making apple butter/pie filling. My boss has an apple tree that is dying and he’s looking to unload some apples post haste. This weekend just happens to be the Feast of the Transfiguration, so we can get our free apples blessed and then put them up together.

    21, Modern 1, Icon of Transfiguration, by Alexander Ainetdinov
    Icon of the Transfiguration – You can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure Elijah (on Jesus’ left) has a box of apple butter. #liturgicalliving
  4. Just keep swimming. My kids love to swim and I like it pretty well, too. We’ll hit up some pool, somewhere, someday…this coming week.

    I’m simultaneously grossing myself out and cracking myself up.
  5. Museum and Coffee Day. I was downtown this week and was surprised to find a museum I’d never heard of: The Telephone Museum. I think we’ll hit up that one and a couple of the on-campus museums that are FREE! Then we’ll go get espresso at one of my favorite cafes.
  6. Movies and Food Downtown. Our city has some really great summertime activities. We’ve missed all the Shakespeare plays, but we can still catch The Little Mermaid, live music, and terrific food trucks. We’ll hit this up for sure.

    Me, after a week of staycation. Did you know that doing nothing leads to a trim waistline? Srsly.
  7. Did I mention I’m a workaholic? Instead of thinking up another fun thing to do, I’ll make this one a chore. We have to finish the summer math/reading projects and buy a couple of backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil pouches, water bottles, and one belt. The kids will hate it, but I’ll be able to check things off my to do list.

Come at me, people. What do you do on staycation?