This Road

This past week has been all a-bustle with preparations for the opening of the Atrium at my parish next weekend. In truth, the bustling isn’t finished yet. There’s a lot more bustle waiting for me this week.

It’s a tough road when you’re running a program based on where the Spirit is leading…I definitely feel the paradox of trusting that God has this and yet doubting whether it will happen. It’s a stressful mystery because on one side, certain things need to happen (like police checks, enough volunteers, materials actually being ready to use) and there’s a hectic panic about these items when something doesn’t fall into place when it seems like it should. On the other hand, if God isn’t leading this program then what on earth am I doing here anyway? Haha, literally and symbolically, it would seem. I crack myself up sometimes. Anyway. This program wouldn’t be happening had it not been for some divine interventions, so clearly God has a desire to see this happen.

I’m feeling time is unsatisfactorily being stretched between trying to get this Atrium off the ground and making sure we also are doing our homeschool. They both seem like impossible goals right now. Add in the few writing gigs I’m doing and the thrill of playing StarCraft on the occasional evening with Andy & Fr. Darryl and it all adds up to … well … I’m not exactly sure what it adds up to. I’m sure it adds up to a lot. It does feels like it, at any rate. I mean, I’m tired all day, right?

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This road. It’s tiring. I’m so thankful for the Eucharist. And in my mind, I see that sentence and laugh, cause it in truth says, ‘I’m so thankful for the thanksgiving.’ Am I just that tired? It’s probable. But I am thankful. When I’m shouting at my kids for spending 15 minutes playing around in their room instead of getting changed for bed, the thankfulness feels much much less, though I ought to be remembering it more. When the repetitive babble babble babble babble of the 2 year old just won’t stop I ought to be remembering this thanksgiving more. Here’s the thing: I often don’t.

This thankfulness is a really hard thing to do in everyday life. I’m not thankful that my son just slapped me with his shirt in anger. I’m not thankful that the youngest thinks pulling out her sister’s hair from her head in handfuls is the bees knees. I am very thankful for these children, but definitely not all their choices.

So it’s tiring. There is joy in this journey (much, in fact), but it’s always amidst this ongoing tiredness. Tired of the fighting, tired of fighting, tired of hearing ‘But I don’t wanna…’ and tired of the whining. All. Day. Long.

I expect it to remain this way, perhaps in a different form, all through their youth. It’s not that I’m expecting anything out of the ordinary. I’m more just commenting on discovering how it just goes on and on, and how deep this tiredness can sometimes become. I’ve found a similarity between this tiredness in parenting and how my faith life seems to go. There is joy in it (much, in fact), but it’s not always roses and lilies. A lot of it is trudging on, much like we trudge on in parenting. Christ in the Eucharist gives me hope beyond my experiences, and I’m thankful I’ve expanded my time at Eucharist this year as I’ve been taking Spencer once a week (in addition to Sunday!) as a part of his preparation for Confirmation and First Eucharist (properly in that order!).

I really enjoy having just one child with me for Mass, it makes such a difference! I’d love to take each child by themselves on a different day, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I find it a treat to be able to listen to the readings (and even the homily), and I enjoy spending that time with Spencer. Eucharist brings me joy and hope, that’s much to be thankful for. Christ truly does give us all that he is, everything, present for us in the form of humble bread and wine. 2016-09-15-16-50-01-edit

This road. It’s a tiring one, but I’m thankful Christ is with me giving reason to hope. These little ones are causes for joy and sorrow; navigating through that path takes a lot of prayer and reliance on God. As a favourite saint used to say, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

So here’s to praying and hoping that I don’t worry!

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The Cross and The One Ring

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Day 175…One Ring by bandita (2008) via Flickr, CC.

Today we celebrate a Feast of one of the most unlikely events in history. Perhaps not even an event in itself, but a symbol of the event: the Cross. Today is the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. Isn’t it like glorifying the One Ring from the Lord of the Rings?

And yet, as Christians, we exult the cross. How weird. And even…grotesque?

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Sauron (The Lord Of The Rings) by Hersson Piratoba (2013) via Flickr, CC.

As a symbol of that which meant death – gruesome agonizing death – we take the symbol of the cross and mark it everywhere. We place it in churches, we wear it as jewelry, we take the holy name of our God in three persons and apply those names to our body in the shape of it (the sign of the cross). We anoint ourselves continually with this symbol of pain and agony.

All About Perspective

The twist is that it does not actually only symbolize death and agony, but victory over death and agony. Victory over that which is defeat. Just like the One Ring symbolized death and destruction to the world of Middle Earth, once the third age had passed it took on a new symbol – that of triumph over evil and separation from all that is good. As Christians we take that symbolism further – it means our eternal salvation.

Through the cross, Jesus became our sin and fell. To the people around him, he was a disappointment. A disgrace. For how could God’s anointed one die in such a shameful way? God could never stand for such shame. His followers were fools. We are fools. Who places such faith in humans? It is ridiculous.

Jesus died, fully and humanly on the cross. That is to say, he died scared, exploited, and vulnerable, as any of us would be hanging on that wood. He did not grasp at his divinity on the cross (Philippians 2: 6-11, today’s second reading) – he did not know how things would be worked out, but he trusted his God. He trusted that his faith was not misplaced and that God is faithful. This is how Jesus died: shamed, exploited and vulnerable, still trusting that God would be faithful.

And God did not disappoint. Jesus the Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God through the Holy Spirit on Easter morning.

Why We Celebrate

The cross should be shameful. It should be a disgrace. The strength of God’s love has added a new dimension to this – despite that which the symbol typically represents, God has given us hope and salvation through the cross. It no longer means just shame and failure, but hope, love, and that our faith is God is never misplaced.

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Jesus on a Cross, Plate 2 by Thomas Hawk (2009) via Flickr, CC.

When we place ourselves in vulnerability, when we, like a hobbit, feel insignificant in our tasks and too small to make a difference, when we accept humiliation on behalf of Christ, we are not weak, we are strong. We are strong because it is only God who can take immense weakness and completely change it. Only God who can take our shame and bring his glory out of it. Only God who can take the cross and bring eternal salvation out of it.

Today is the feast of the Exultation of the Cross. Today we celebrate our weakness made strong through Christ because Christ has truly risen. The One Ring has indeed been destroyed.

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The End of Gardening

Well, folks, tonight the forecast is for -2 Celsius, and for us who have gardens, it means the total and nearly complete end to the gardening of food for the season. I just spent an hour in my garden harvesting everything I possibly could so that the frost doesn’t damage the foods.

And I was pretty impressed with the final bounty.

2016-09-12-16-15-01-editAnd I also have some questions, like, what do you do with minuscule leeks? I forgot to get around to thinning them and then my mini-dahlia plant became a medium-sized one and I didn’t want to reach past it to thin them…

2016-09-12-16-16-11-edit Lots of tomatoes, mostly green at this point. Beans! Humongous amount of beans from my bush beans! The climbing beans did horribly this year and my peas didn’t produce at all, so those were quite disappointing, but these dingy bush beans (they have, like, 4-6 leaves and typically 10-20 beans per plant every week; so odd and efficient) more than made up for it.

And we had a lovely cherry pepper plant that produced some spicy peppers for us and a few cucumbers that will likely be used mostly for seeds.

2016-09-12-16-15-48-editTons of swiss chard (top left)! and some lettuce greens (top right) and a million leaves of sage. I’m not kidding on that. Anyone have some good sage recipes?

And finally, though it’s not producing any fruit right now, we also have this in our back corner, and it scares me…

2016-09-12-16-29-26-editSo that’s what the garden’s like in autumn. Gardening is mostly done done done. Over this next week we will be pulling out the rest of the frosted green things and composting them, then amending the soil in the beds so that they’re ready to go next year. What joy! Spencer saw the bags of manure and asked Andy, ‘Daddy, is that sheep poop?’ Why yes, son, it is sheep poop. Thanks for putting it in a way that makes it much worse.

Anyone else pulling up their garden?

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School and Home

It’s that time of year again when everything starts anew. Or at least educationally.

2016.17 School Collage - smallerWe started on Monday; we are using the All About Reading curriculum this year, Cassia (who is so so so excited to be doing school) is doing the pre-reading level and Spencer is doing Level 1. So far I have to say things are going pretty well. Cassia would do several lessons a day if I had the time and energy, I think. Spencer is pretty happy just doing one lesson per day.

I’ve also sacrificed food for 3 weeks and went ahead and purchased Math-U-See for Spencer this year’s school. We will be starting it once I read the instructions and do some learning myself. Hopefully it will be worth 3 weeks of groceries and be a great experience for him and for the other two when they get to use it. *nervous smile*

2016-08-29 13.24.52 edit smallerKiwi Crate had a sale on a few days ago for their science boxes, so I purchased one each for Spencer and Cassia; I haven’t told them cause they are sure to talk about it non-stop until the boxes arrive in the mail and ask every hour whether they are here yet and if they could please just check the mail one more time and could we just email them to ask whether they’re here yet cause they’re just soooo excited for their boxes. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. Hence why I’m not telling them. Yet. Spencer absolutely love, love, loved his kiwi crate we got in January and still enjoys playing with the claw he made (think arcade game claw to grab a stuffy). These will be a part of our sciences for school.

Other very awesome things: Spencer is enrolled in martial arts as part of a homeschool group, and he’s quite excited! I couldn’t get him into swim lessons – his level, at least, seems to fill up exceptionally quick and they never seem to add classes. But our community association is offering rhythmic gymnastics, so I’m considering that.

I’m also organising to have one of the Tornado Hunters do a presentation on … tornado hunting! I’m so excited about this, as I follow them on social media and love both the pictures they share and the warnings they give, usually before any other news is talking about it. This will fit in perfectly with our sciences this year, where we will be covering the natural world, specifically going through natural disasters. We will be finishing this science year up with an awesome trip to Yellowstone (yay volcano?) and to watch the solar eclipse. Very much looking forward to this year!

Cassia is doing swim lessons and is looking forward to them, and both she and Spencer will be taking part in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which I am running at my parish this year.

In other news

Cassia determined she would be a gymnast while we watched Olympics and set up obstacle courses (essentially) and ran over or through them. But the kicker is, whenever she gets ready to do a serious run, she now spits in her hands and rubs them together. Like, whaaaa? I asked social media and someone suggested maybe the vault? Do gymnasts do that with vault? I dunno, but it’s ridiculous.

Felicity showed great interest in pursuing synchronized swimming.

We are looking forward to a very full school year with many adventures! Oh, and I decided today that Fridays are to be school-free days, barring not getting lessons done during the week. We will have more stress and need more dedicated time as Spencer gets into the older grades later, so we are enjoying Fridays for what they are – awesome days of fun and creativity, especially while we have the free time.

2016-09-02 13.31.45 - editAnd in our most recent news (read: today) Cassia managed to both step on a nail (it was a bleeder) and stick her finger in the big fan. All within 3 hours of each other. Yay. Hopefully it’s not a prediction of how our long weekend will be! (She’s fine, if you’re wondering)

Happy weekending!

 

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Potter and the Cursed Story?

2016-08-12 12.06.47 - editWell, this post is assuming you’ve read the new Potter book or are never planning to read it. If you’re looking to avoid spoilers, this is the post to avoid.

So. Let’s start with the title, officially christened, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” This story takes place at the epilogue of the seventh book, 19 years after they defeat Voldy (aka Voldemort for all you punks).

Right after acquiring our copy at the release party

Right after acquiring our copy at the release party

The style of the book is a script for a play, therefore, there is hardly any narration. Obviously in an actual play the visual direction of each scene would (I would hope) fill in for the lack of narration in this book; however, that is not an option for a script. Knowing what is happening in the character’s minds is crucial for me and is just not an option in a script form, so I critique releasing this as a book for that purpose. So I realise my expectation is beyond the limitations of the medium of the story, but it lead to a very disconnected experience, where I did not feel any real attachment to the ideas presented or the characters, especially the main character, Albus Severus Potter.

MOVING ON.

Potter has some kids. Hermione and Ron have kids but they hardly play any role in the story. The trio does make a comeback but the best part of it by far is that Hermione is Minster for Magic. Love. It.

So, the Potter’s famously-named offspring, Albus Severus, is on his first trip to Hogwarts and becomes fast friends with the progeny of Draco Malfoy who is aptly named ‘Scorpius,’ in line with his heritage. Their friendship is mildly forbidden, as Harry is apparently not over Draco and his role in his school years, despite what we are lead to believe in the seventh book. Plus Albus breaks the Potter and Weasley family traditions and is in Slytherin House. And again, despite what Harry says in the seventh book (that Slytherin would be gaining a great wizard), he certainly doesn’t seem to believe that they deserve that honour.

Once again we find that Harry Potter has some unresolved conflict within him. At least there is nothing new in that respect. The difference is that his son gets part of his anguish now.

Midnight reading after the release.

Midnight reading after the release.

 

Speaking of which, Albus hates his father’s reputation and dislikes that he has been named after Harry Potter‘s epic adventure. He feels he is in his shadow and can’t live up to anything or make a name for himself in anything. He finds solace in his friendship with Scorpius, which is unconventional and not expected.

Things go awry when Albus overhears his father lying to late-Cedric’s elderly father. Cedric’s father wants Harry to go back in time to bring back his son to life, and believes he can do so with a recently-found Time Turner. However, knowledge abou this Time Turner is meant to be hush-hush so Harry denies they have one. Albus, in all his righteousness, believes he can aid the old and ailing Mr. Diggory and bring his son Cedric back through using the time turner. Scorpio happens to have nearly the exact same nerdy personality as Hermione, minus the arrogance, and so he hatches a plan to steal the Time Turner with Albus, and Mr. Diggory has charged his niece to accompany them on the journey.

Needless to say, Pandora’s Box is opened as they try and retry to save Cedric from dying, only to find out in each scenario how crucial it was to their future that he died. In their last foray back in time, they have unearthed (or rather Scorpius has, as Albus was completely oblivious to there being anything wrong with the situation) that Mr. Diggory’s niece is a farce played by a mysterious new and sinister character. It turns out, you see, that Voldemort had a daughter. And her name is Delphi. I admit, that was definitely a surprise.

It is here, my friends, is where my lingering hope for the story faded. Voldemort have a child? He that made horcruxes so that he would live forever?  Who was so confident in them that he had no other back up plan?

Not only that, but Bellatrix is Delphi’s (his daughter) mother. Now, I have no problems seeing Bellatrix desiring such an outcome, but as a friend pointed out to me, she would have been shouting it from the rooftops that she was bearing his child. She is, after all, deranged in many many many ways. I doubt anyone could have kept her from sharing that little bit of information that would have made her extremely proud and more narcissistic. She would have been lording it over everyone. Oh! and she was kept a complete secret up until this moment.

However, even more deeper than that, I can’t see Voldemort desiring a child – essentially the child would be someone who would compete with him for power and that, we know, he would never allow. I have a very very hard time buying all this, given the depth of knowledge of these characters Ms. Rowling shared with us over seven books. Am I wrong here?

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Not. Buying. It.

 

 

It turns out that Delphi wants to bring about a world in which Harry, the trio, and Neville do not defeat Voldemort. She wants Voldemort to reign, and if Cedric lives then the current reality will completely dissipate.

The trio and Draco meanwhile figure some things out and eventually save the day again. Draco, in this script, is a completely admirable and mature character. Harry is a disappointing character – he hardly seems to have matured much beyond his seventh “year at Hogwarts” (which he did not actually do, come to think of it).

So my last two critiques are regarding Voldemort having a child and Harry’s immaturity. Ron and Hermione don’t play an extremely huge role in the development of the story (Ron is really just a token character), so it’s hard to know how well they seemed to relate to their character at the end of the seventh book.

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More like Harry Potter and the Cursed Story.

And that’s it – the kids go on this adventure that is all about them ‘making things right’ cause no one else is paying attention (hello, HP series, have we not covered this?), go back in time thrice to ‘fix’ every mistake, make it back, and everything is back to normal, nothing really changed except that Albus and Scorpius know that messing with time shouldn’t happen again.

It hardly felt worth it. And as it’s a screen play, there was hardly any character development, so I have no attachment to any of them. I find it a disappointing read and don’t even want to reread it right now. Unless someone wants to pick it apart further with me (cause picking the Potter series apart was a specialty for me).

Did you read it? What did you think of it?

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Happiness is… (vol 28)

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Photo courtesy of James Gorman, another devoted Potterhead in addition to Jacqui and I.

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Post-Potter book read. Approximately 3:45am.

Going to a Harry Potter release party after 9 years since the last one. Have you no doubt: geek am I. But only in regards to dearest Harry, and some LOTR, but that’s another story. Will be posting thoughts on the book in a little while; I figure I should let you few people have a chance at reading it before throwing spoilers at the internet.

The party was fun, they had several game-type things going (Quidditch, card-reading, Hat-Sorting, Crafting (aka Transfiguring). It was quite enjoyable and I even bought myself a Ravenclaw infinity scarf and toque out of it. Gullible I am. Or devoted. Both apply, I think.

Have you the Harry book? Are you finished it?

In other news, my garden is exploding with happy unicorns and rainbows. I did not expect the yields I’m getting and it’s quite delightful.

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Look at the size of this beet! It’s monstrous! All the golden beets were huge!

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Clockwise: sage, beans and a garlic head; basil and raspberries, swiss chard.

We are thoroughly enjoying all the produce and I’m looking forward to enjoying all the beans in the winter when the garden produce has died away.

We are eating basil regularly and it’s still hard to keep up with it. I need to make some pesto. But mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwiches are simply amazing and currently regularly on the menu. The joys of a garden!

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Happiness is… (vol 27)

2016-07-29 20.05.14 - editA summer thunderstorm with loud thunder clapping, all whilst the sun shines and sets beautifully framed by the rain.

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