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Thursday, January 29, 2009

California!

It's official--I'm going to California in February! I get to accompany my folks to the annual religious education congress in Los Angeles. Should be lots of fun--I went with them every year when I was in high school.  Ah... walks down memory lane. And maybe I can find some candle holders for our wedding candles in the "den of booths"  :)
which candles, in this picture, are laying down. Poor candles :(

On the Brink

For several months (days? years?) I've been feeling "on the brink" of.. something.  I don't know if it's at the end of a cliff and I will fall off or fly off.  I don't know if it's at the foot of a mountain I must climb or circumambulate.  I can't tell if I'm perched on the proverbial fence and will fall or tumble or jump and run on one side or the other.  Change is in the air.  And regardless of how it may seem at the time, I have faith that it will be for the better. 
But.. isn't most of life like this?  Aren't we always on the edge of something in one sense or another?  Why am I getting this feeling so specifically at this point?  Will the change be dramatic?  It could be any number of things I anticipate, or it could be something completely unexpected.  Only time will tell, I suppose... 
.....
Well, whatever I'm on the brink of, I also get the feeling Taylor will be there with me. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Husband, the Non-Blogger

So. 
Most of you know that T keeps a blog, too: http://cupertino1985.blogspot.com/
However, as you will note if you visit his blog, he doesn't update it very often.  His last post was from November and it was a (great, by the way) poem that he really enjoyed. [That he posts seldom and rarely posts his own thoughts/happenings is not a bad thing. It's just not his style to blog, I think.]
In conclusion, I'd like to announce Taylor's discovery of the perfect medium for online expression. Facebook is too distracting. Blogging is too demanding. But Twitter... well, Twitter is short, sweet, and easy to update. He can be poetic and artistic; or droll and witty; or get-down-to-business; or chatty and responsive.  In short (and in haiku form, as he is fond of posting in this manner on Twitter): 
Taylor on Twitter
means you'll hear about him more
Hooray for Twitter
:) 

Ok, Kayleen, 20 Things

My friend, Kayleen, is going a bit stir-crazy waiting for Louisa her Lovely to arrive ex-utero... so here are 20 random things about myself at her request (and to have an extra laugh, go check out hers to see how I'm teasing her a bit). 
  1. I do not like microwaves. If I can avoid using them, I do. Even if I have to wash an extra pan. 
  2. I do not even have a microwave :)
  3. I sometimes wish I had straight hair (only sometimes!) so I could just brush it out and have done with it.
  4. I have had the baby bug since my nephew was born almost 12 years ago.
  5. I wish I could harmonize like my in-laws...  though I suppose every good harmony needs a melody first, right? 
  6. The only exciting thing that ever happens on my birthday is election day. 
  7. I love wearing socks! In fact, for the longest time, my sister Summer would get me fun and outrageous socks just for the fun of it! But I do have sweaty feet, so my shoes get stinky too :)
  8. When I listen to a CD I don't skip any songs (usually).  Unlike a certain man in my life who puts a CD in, skips to the two or three songs he likes, then puts in a new CD and does the same thing. His brother is the same way.
  9. I went to Canada for World Youth Day in 2002 :) with a group of GU students I didn't even know! (That was a long time ago, Mike, remember?). It was great.
  10. I have OCD with organizing things, too. It's just so satisfying to have a neat and organized shelf, drawer, cupboard, closet--anything! 
  11. I love driving stick shifts, too! My favorite one is my brother's subaru.. Someday I'll have one like that, too :D
  12. I don't like red cars. At all. 
  13. I pop my fingers all the time, too! And my toes. Taylor thinks it's so weird!
  14. I've never thought about a space between someone's front teeth being attractive or not. That's a pretty random fact, Kayleen :)
  15. Most of my current good friends I have known less than 8 years. 
  16. I have very vivid dreams, too. And my husband talks in his sleep. He's hilarious!
  17. I used to bite my fingernails OFF all the time. Then I went up to CO to help my sister  get the house ready her wedding the week before the festivities began. I was, literally, so busy that I did not have time to bite my nails. So I don't bite my nails off anymore, but I do chew on them all the time. 
  18. I never understood minesweeper either, but my brother was always really good at it. Then I found that the internet, in all its glory, is a much easier waste.. er.. way to uh... pass the time :D
  19. I want to have a Hobbit farm and grow flowers under my round windows :)
  20. I want to have cute little Hobbit children (like these, but probably with curly hair) and dress them in green and yellow. 
So there you are, Kayleen. Twenty random things about myself that sort-of correspond to your twenty random things :) Hope Little LuLu comes soon! (And by the way, I have something I need to mail to you guys!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Under the Hood

It was cold today. And windy.  
Luckily, I finished the hood for my coat last night! I made it detachable with buttons and elastic (because who wants a bulky hood hangning around your shoulders when you don't need it?) and I added a string to cinch it up around my face. The hood is big enough to fit over all my floofy hair, even when it's up in chopsticks!  
And all that sewing while Taylor was wonderfully reading to me from the Lord of the Rings. Gollum just fell off the cliff in Mount Doom and Frodo and Sam were waiting outside on the side of the mountain.  Such a good story :) "The beauty of it smote his heart..." 
What do you think? 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Holy Sex!

My brother and his wife, for Christmas this year, sent us the book Holy  Sex! by Gregory Popcak.  I've only gotten a few chapters in, but I am enjoying it so far.  If you're Catholic (heck, even if you're not and you're interested in sexuality) and haven't heard of John Paull II's theology of the body, I highly recommend checking out this book or some of the others listed at the end of this post. It's truly a powerful message of hope and love and grace! Be not afraid! 
I'm posting today because Holy Sex! is the book of the month on the USCCB's website: 
Here is the review in total, just in case the link above doesn't work: 

Book of the Month --January 2009

Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving

By Gregory K. Popcak Crossroad Publishing Co., Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., 2008; $14.95.

(Reviewed by Mary Ann Paulukonis, an artist, writer and consultant for marriage and family ministry.)

If this book does not contain everything you want to know about sex, it tries to come close. Underlying all the information and advice is the principle that proper use of sexuality is holy and makes a person holy.

You read that right: Sex contributes to sanctity! This book might even persuade you that the converse is true -- to have good sex you must be striving equally as much for holiness.

Popcak is by his own definition a “talk radio psychotherapist” who writes about theology and sexuality in popular language. He makes Catholic teaching about sex and Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body easily comprehensible.

The author’s breezy tone and earthy sense of humor (a bit rough in a few places) encourage the reader to relax with the material. He maintains engagement by illustrating with anecdotes about couples he has counseled.

Using a framework of human sexual evolutionary stages, the first part of the book reviews Catholic teaching on sexuality and debunks inaccurate perceptions. Popcak calls the fifth stage “Holy Sex” or “Infallible Loving” and devotes the second part of the book to the “Five Great Powers of Holy Sex.”

These five powers are pathways to an intimacy that Popcak expands upon in separate chapters: (1) the power to make the common holy; (2) sacramental and redemptive power; (3) power to be a physical sign of God’s passion for us; (4) power to unite; and (5) power to create.

Any person who tries to read the book alone may soon try to draw his or her spouse into at least the quizzes and exercises, which are designed to provoke discussion. Popcak recommends that couples use the book together since “the sexual relationship is only as good as both partners think it is.”

Readers who skip over some parts of the book to get to the tips and techniques or the last part’s practical treatment of questions and problems still cannot avoid the message that eroticism is no substitute for a soulful love life.

-----

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The World Is Passing Away

(or, Car Batteries, Orfeo, and Hot Chocolate)
Today, T and I went to St. Columbkille's again :) After a nice breakfast we drove to Mass (we drove this time because we were going to pick up our share of meat from a co-op).  Mass, as usual, was lovely and it seemed to me that the theme for today was that of the Second reading: the world in its present form is passing away.  We heard the reading of Jonah and his unlikely success in preaching repentance to Nineveh.  We heard how the lives of the fishermen from Galilee were changed forever by Jesus' call.  "Teach me your ways, O Lord" said the Psalmist, for He guides the humble to justice. 
But after Mass our car wouldn't start! Maybe it was just too cold for our poor little Toyota--a "real feel" of 5 degrees? So T ended up running to the meat pick-up place  (which, incidentally, was out of meat! They'll deliver it later this week, but it's still kinda lame...) while I waited for AAA. The tow-man was able to jump-start the engine, and I drove home, hurried down to the C-line and met T at the symphony so we could attend Haydn's Orfeo.  Maybe the world of our car is passing away, too? That would be fine with T, though--I don't think he wants a car much anymore :) 
Once warmly inside Symphony Hall, we sat down to enjoy the (comparatively) short opera, which was very good.  The soprano was very good and it was a nice relaxing performance.  It made me want to read more ancient mythology--I loved it when I was a kid and majored in Classics in undergrad. Fun guys, those ancients! 
And even here, there was the "passing away" of the world. Poor Orpheus--he lost the love of his life twice and then he was poisoned by the Bacchantes, who were then torn to bits by the furies. I'd say that's a passing away, right? Spouses do pass away. As Christians we believe [hope] we will see them again, but it can seem like the whole world has left with her. 
Since it was so cold afterwards, we decided to stop by Trident cafe and have a cup of hot chocolate before getting on the T. I got white hot chocolate and T got a Chocolatino--like a mocha but with chocolate milk and drip coffee instead of milk, chocolate syrup, and espresso. We sat and chatted for a bit, enjoyed the ambiance of the cafe and watched the people going by. 
And I realized that the world "in its present form" is always passing away in one way or another.  But for us, for now, we don't know what will be passing away and what will stay. We've only heard back from half of the law schools T applied to, so we really have no idea where we'll be in the fall. But that's all ok, isn't it? "I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction."  And the Lord will take care of us, even if the world should pass away :) 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Christmas Thank You

Well, here are my Christmas thank you notes :) (almost a full month after Christmas!>:[ Bad Annie!). Since we only emailed our Christmas letter this year (I know--lame), I didn't feel overwhelmed crafting homemade thank you cards for the gifts we received. These were mailed out today, so you should get them soon enough.
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Dance, Ballerina, Dance!

This is Giulia, one of my sweet little nieces. I knitted her some legwarmers for her birthday this year while I was in CA. "I want pink. Pink is my favorite color" (be sure to anunciate EVERY syllable of "favorite"). It seems that she likes them!
(And they're machine washable and dryable, just so you know, Summer!)
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snow Ice Cream

Snow ice cream was a very rare and exciting treat for me when I was a little girl.  Since it only snowed in the desert once every 10 years, we made snow ice cream as often as nature allowed. We collected our snow from the roof of the car in the driveway (since there was rarely enough to collect it from the yard without getting grass mixed in!). Ours always turned out rather soupy, though.. I wonder if we got a little carried away with the maple syrup? :) Here's the recipe I came up with this time 'round. 
1) Set a bowl out in the snow while it is snowing (or go out and collect good clean snow in a bowl) until you have about 12 cups of (NOT packed) snow. Leave the bowl outside until you've completed step 2.  2) Mix 1 c whole milk with 1/3 c cream and then add maple syrup to taste (but not too much--you don't want soupy snow ice cream) and vanilla extract 3) Pour the milk mixture over the snow in the bowl and stir well. 4) Serve. 5) Serve again. 6) Enjoy :)
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Springerle

One of the many reasons I love Springerle cookies--absolutely no re-rolling or leftover cookie dough :) You can bake every piece. And then you get to eat the "ugly" pieces fresh from the oven--warm Springerle is the best! They're also great with a nice hot cup of tea.
I'm making these (my seventh batch of the season) for House Blessing, whenever that ends up being. Should be fun!
Happy Baking, everyone!
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Sunday in the Snow

Our Lady of the Snow :: my Man of the Snow :)
T and I walked to Mass this morning. It had already snowed 6 inches, so we didn't want to drive or go downtown. Our walk to St. Columbkille's parish was nice and relatively clean (not too much mucky car-snow). Mass was great, too :) Praise God for good things, like walks and snow and the Eucharist!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dear Mum,

Thanks for the toys! We love them :)
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Nerf Wars!

A [not so] long time ago, in an apartment [not terribly] far, far away...
*Star Wars intro music, please*
The Blacks were invited over to attend a birthday party.  Unbeknownst to them (but knownst to the inviters), it was actually a plot to engage the worthy Taylor in a nerf gun war! 
And of course, lots of fun was had :)
It started off pretty casual: 
video
Then it escalated to full-scale war! :) Shields, helmets, everything! 
video

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Power of Prayer

They say that Joy and Sorrow are sisters--and it seems both have visited this family en force recently. Please keep them in your prayers: 
Jack was born by c-section several months before the due date because of complications during pregnancy. Overall, I think he is improving, but even little setbacks at this point can be major issues.  Needless to say, this delicate time of intensive, gentle care for the little guy has been stressful on his parents.  May God watch over them and keep them close to His heart. 
You're in our thoughts and prayers, Fannings!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dear Dave, Mandy, and Madelyn,

Hope you are enjoying California! We miss you :) a view of our frozen window and the house across the street
Love, The (freezing) Blacks 
:)
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

To Jordan's Waters...

Christ comes to be baptized! 
John the forerunner now humbly steps aside. 
Christ the Lord is baptized, 
Salvation is now realized. 
Skies of heaven open, God the Father spoken. 
O'er the Jordan a dove, Holy Spirit of Love, 
Revelation from above. 
Ahh, house blessing season :)  Following the feast of Theophany (Christ's baptism in the Jordan, where God is revealed as Trinity), in the Byzantine church, the tradition is to have the priest bless each household in the parish. This year, we were lucky enough to spend Theophany with T's folks and it was a blast! We prepared all sorts of yummy dishes, cleaned the house like mad (from the corners of the ceilings to the top of the baseboards!), and even managed to install the late-in-arriving dishwasher before Fr. Joseph arrived.  Props to the guys on this one
I love the ritual of house blessing.  While the priest goes around the house (led by the head of the household) blessing each room, the families sing the above song.  Having been raised Roman Catholic, I would tease Taylor (when we first started dating) saying, "Well, Roman house blessings last longer--we only need to do it once and it stays."  :)  But I really do like the idea of blessing your house every year. Most people give their house a good thorough cleaning every year--why not bless it, too? There's no such thing as being too blessed. 
Besides, it gives you an opportunity to open your home to several other families/households in the parish and for the priest to see your home and your domestic altar.  It provides an opportunity to welcome the faith community into your own little domestic church.  I always loved it when my parish priest back home came to Momma's New Years Eve open house--being able to sit in a more comfortable environment with the priest, I think, is very important. Mass (or Liturgy) and confession and marriage preparation and lectures and classes are all very important and good.  But it's also very important to get to know the priest as himself.  
Mum and Fr. Joseph talked about bee hives after the blessing, while Father sipped burbon.  It was good :) 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Elevenses?

8 inches of snow overnight! And still we made it out to the Clayton's for breakfast. Good thing, too, because it was yummy.  Sausage gravy and biscuits, mimosas, eggs, and tea! 
It was just fantastic to spend time with you and your family, Andrew and Renee! Here are some pictures from our over-too-soon visit :)
Grandma and Kristiana
Where are your sugars?
Hobbitses!
We miss you all! We're still hoping for that farm in 5-10 years. Hope we're closer soon :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

All You Who Have Been Baptized into Christ

...have put on Christ! Alleluia! 
Today, the Sunday before the feast of Theophany (Christ's baptism in the Jordan--and the revelation of God as Trinity), Kristiana Noelle Clayton joined the Christian family through the holy mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist. 
It was a beautiful Liturgy, and it was so good to be back at Ss. Cyril and Methodius. I forget how beautiful that church it. It's much more plain than St. John's in Seattle, but still quite lovely.  Kristiana was a delight to behold! She was only a little squirmy for the "churching" and if she cried very much during the baptism or Liturgy, I have forgotten about it--they would have been very little cries anyway, since she's still such a little person. Alexander, too, was pretty good. For a recently de-throned toddler, he was exceptional, actually. He even posed for some pictures with T and me after Liturgy! What a handsome little boy! 
It was great to see Fr. Bill again, and catch up, albeit briefly, with the other members of the parish we haven't seen since we moved. After chatting for a while, T and I headed to Rockwood Bakery with Liz--one of the neatest women ever! Although we've talked to her frequently since we left Spokane, we hadn't actually seen her since then. And Rockwood Bakery is a fabulous place to spend time with good friends--more good food :) The two go so well together! 
This evening we drove north through snowy streets to The Grandparents Clayton's house :) for an open house, where (naturally) we saw MORE people we haven't seen in a while. Cute babies, happy smiling people, good food, cool toys... what a wonderful world. I had a lot of fun following Alexander around and playing with him :) He's a really cute kid. Someday I hope the Clayton's and the Black's can live closer.  (I also hope we have kids for their kids to play with, too.) Fortunately for us, we get to see the Clayton family again tomorrow for breakfast!  
And.. to conclude a lovely (lovely!) day, T and I went to David's pizza for dinner! What a treat :) 
Then T was good enough to take me on another walk through GU. On our first walk, we didn't get all the way to campus, so tonight we walked around all our old "haunts" again. We love that campus. If Taylor ended up teaching there and we got a farm 45 minutes out of the city, I could deal with that. And before we ended our walk, it started to snow. It hasn't stopped yet. I hope we're not snowed in tomorrow! (And, in a way, I wouldn't mind being "stuck" in Spokane for another day or two or three) 
And life is good. Praise God! 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's Been A Long, Long Time!

Spokane! I never knew, when I came to Gonzaga 7 years ago, that I would miss it so much! Even when we left in the summer fo 2007, I didn't know that I would miss it so much. I didn't know, really, until we came back to visit :)  It's still a little funny to me, to miss a place, when so many of the people you met and loved there are no longer there. But I suppose coming back to a place like Spokane, for T and me, is like seeing an old friend again--we learned so much about the city and each other all together! 
When we arrived this evening we met up with Dr. Stebbins and his wife for dinner at Catacombs, which was just lovely. Good food, good atmosphere, good friends, and nice leisurely conversation.  We were a little worried about finding parking "downtown" on a Saturday evening, but HA! it was just Spokane and we parked at a meter a mere two blocks from the restaurant. I handed T a quarter for the half-hour left of metered parking time and he said, "A whole quarter? That would buy a week's worth of parking time in Spokane!" Can you tell we've been spoiled out here and are just a bit frustrated on the east coast? :)  Oh well...
After dinner we drove back to the GU area. We are staying in an empty room of the house where T's brother is living this year for school. It's also the house we lived in for two weeks when we were first married :) How's that for memories?!  So we brought in our sleeping bags and futons and our suitcase and promptly set out for a short walk around the neighborhood. More memories! When T and I were dating we took many (many) walks around the GU area and the Logan neighborhood... it was simply enchanting and somewhat fairy-like to wander around and remember; hearing the snow crunch and holding hands as we walked from street to street, recalling the names and people who lived at such-and-such house.  Mmm... sweet life! 
Tomorrow is Kristiana's baptism! We will go to Ss. Cyril and Methodius (our first parish!) for Liturgy and we are so excited to see the Claytons :D 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Travel on New Years Day...

We arrived safe and sound in Seattle yesterday. In the evening we opened Christmas presents (so much fun!) and had a nice dinner. Today we're visiting with Brother Corwin, a family friend of many years. He is a Dominican in northern CA now, enjoying the life of a monastic. It was a lovely relaxed day. We went for a walk around the lake, had nice meals together, and got to chat quite a bit. It's nice to be on this half of our vacation--though of course it means we're that much closer to going back to Boston :( which means we'll be missing family again.
But, in the mean time, we're happy to be home in WA. (And just in case you're wondering, yes, we did miss all the snow. We're going to Spokane tomorrow, though, so we'll see what we get there!)