Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the Bookshelf: Learning about Jewish Mothers

What does one think of upon hearing the words, “Jewish mother”? Personally, an image of
Golde, from Fiddler on the Roof, enters my mind. Various negative words associate themselves with this picture—overbearing, coddling, and helicopter parent—and I would love to see a more positive image cast on Jewish mothers. So, when I noticed Marjorie Ingall’s book, Mamaleh Knows Best, I knew that I simply needed to read it. In this book, Ingall seeks to demolish the stereotypical “Jewish mother” image, and provides principles for parenting that people of any faith background can easily imitate. Ingall begins each chapter with a quotation from a Jewish person or written source, and intertwines stories from her own life, modern culture, and the history of the Jewish people. Some of the parenting principles were expected (“Tell Stories”), and some took me by surprise (“Encourage Geekiness”). At the end of each chapter, the “Mamaleh Methodology” section summarizes the basic ideas and how they can be implemented.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Musings about Thanksgiving, Anne of Green Gables, & Running

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm currently avoiding my housework, my bullet journal's To Do list, and savoring the peace and quiet of naptime, so I decided that I'd pop in for a moment about the random thoughts swirling around in my mind.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fabulous Ways to Celebrate Advent

It's almost the new liturgical year, because Advent is just around the corner! The season of Advent (from Latin, it means "coming") has existed for several centuries. St. Gregory of Tours, who lived in the 6th century, wrote about this practice in the Church, which had been going on for several years-there just wasn't one standardized length for this time of preparation before Christmas. Over time, things got standardized in the West and now we celebrate Advent beginning "with evening prayer I of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November.

Advent is an amazing season in which we can prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. As the Congregation for Divine Worship states,

"Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation." 
There are so many rich, epic traditions and practices which we can celebrate during Advent, so let's talk about a few of them! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Simple Ways to Celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King

When I was little, I always thought it sounded so neat that different Asian cultures celebrated their own special year-long cycles: "Year of the Snake," "Year of the Rooster," or "Year of the Monkey." I would look over pictures of lavish celebrations, amazing food, and colorful displays in awe. I don't do anything that cool, I would think with a dramatic sigh (I was quite dramatic as an eight-year-old, and I still am, to an extent).

As I grew older, I learned about the liturgical year that we celebrate as Catholics-and I discovered how amazing it is. In America, we unfortunately don't throw the lavish, public celebrations that they do in other countries, but the feasts are still pretty fabulous-and I want to get better at celebrating them with fun and splendor.

This Sunday, we celebrate the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Not only that, but it's the Solemnity of Christ the King. Hence, there is every reason to celebrate with joy! However, each year, I am so focused on preparing for Advent (or being oblivious of the calendar altogether) that I neglect to really celebrate this solemnity in style. So, I decided to put together some simple ways in which we can all celebrate this glorious feast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Every Walmart Worker Has a Soul

Frantically, I sped through the aisles of Walmart. My eyes looked over lemonade, soft drinks, snacks, but none of this satisfied me. Seeing an employee nearby, I rushed over. 

"Excuse me, sir. I was wondering where the wine is?"

In a thick accent, he began explaining the laws in Oklahoma, and that wine could not be sold in a grocery store. I thanked him for helping me, and explained that I was new to the area, having just moved from Ohio. And so, our conversation began. 

There are times when we can feel entitled and privileged. Times when we focus so much on what we think we need that we have no thought or concern for others. Times when we look down on Walmart workers and McDonald's employees, thinking that they are failures, or that because "they're getting paid to do their jobs," we can treat them however we want. But as I stood there in Walmart speaking with this man, I realized in a whole new way that each of these people has a soul, has a life, has a story. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Liturgical Year is Epic

As the liturgical year winds down, I thought it'd be appropriate to briefly talk about it. After all, the liturgical year is epic. In trying to live the liturgical year, I recognize that Christianity isn't just something to be practiced once or twice a week in a church building. Rather, we are supposed to be modeling our whole lives to Christ, working towards being fully united with God for all eternity.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Election-Free 7 Quick Takes!

Happy Feast of St. Martin of Tours, everyone! No matter what your week was like, I hope that you're getting a chance today to pause and enjoy God's goodness. I'm joining Kelly & Friends with some quick takes, and I'm going to try and avoid talking about the election, so we'll see how this goes! ;) 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Now?

With my baby strapped to my chest, I walked down the sidewalk, breathing in the slightly chilled air. Whispering Ave Marias under my breath, I thought of the Third Glorious Mystery-The Descent of the Holy Spirit. I stepped in the direction of my apartment, eager to eat some lunch and try to put Peter down for a nap. Ahead, I could see one of my neighbors standing alone. Hunched over on his patio, glumly looking at his phone. 

He's a nice man, but at the moment, I didn't want to stop for a long chat-I wanted food! Oh wait, he's turning to walk inside, so he may not even be there when I walk by his patio to the building's door. But, just then, my  baby spontaneously squealed. My neighbor looked back at us, a big smile covering his face as he walked back to the patio so he could talk with us. 

It's okay. Lunch can wait. I think I need to talk with him.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What happens when an Extrovert's husband leaves for the weekend?

On Friday evening, my husband left with some friends for the weekend. And, with a freezer full of ice cream, baby carrots and cookie dough in the fridge, and the BBC miniseries Emma lined up on the Amazon Prime queue, I faced my first weekend of solo parenting since Peter was born nearly five months ago.

In general, Friday was a very exhausting day (sleep regression is happening over here, housework and other projects are piling up) so after I bid my husband farewell, Peter and I spent the rest of the evening watching Emma (I made sure to tell him, periodically, "Remember: Don't be a Frank Churchill. Be like Mr. Knightley.") and playing before he finally drifted off to sleep. I also arranged my schedule for Saturday, so that we'd be able to dash away on epic adventures.

See, as an extrovert, I become energized by going places and meeting people. So, whenever my husband makes weekend plans out of town, knowing that I won't have another adult to interact with at home, I immediately try to find events and places I can travel to. That way, I can enjoy spending time with people, and discover new places and events to share with my husband later on.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Kitchen Adventures with Japanese Cookbooks

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that for much of my life, I lumped everything from crab rangoon to sushi and from miso soup to fried rice in the vague category of "Asian." I knew that there was some overlap between cuisines in that part of the world, and, in my ignorance, I figured that everything was interchangeable-that Japanese food was the same as Chinese food, for example. Thankfully, my husband corrected me :) 

Recently, I read some Japanese cookbooks, and saw that yes, as my husband told me long ago, Japanese cuisine-while it shares some similar dishes with other countries-is its own unique cuisine. Since I love taking a hands-on approach to learning, and really wanted to try out some new foods, I created many of the recipes that I found. As I did this, I discovered that while I love the meat, potatoes, and thick gravies often found in "good American home cookin'," I really love the light, filling, rice-based approach that many of the Japanese recipes involved. I learned to put less focus on meat, and more focus on the balance of a dish as a whole. I learned to involve a large variety of vegetables and colors. I cooked with tofu for the first time, and I discovered that I like rice even more than I thought I did! I really enjoyed trying out new recipes, and I'm excited to try out more in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Befriending the Saints in my Childhood

Happy Solemnity of All Saints Day!!!! 

This week has been so full already, with little time for blogging, but I cannot let this gorgeous day pass by without dropping a note about the saints. The saints in general (all those who have made it to Heaven) and the Saints (those who have been attributed with specific miracles and are celebrated in the Liturgy). They show us how to live for God while here on Earth, persevering through difficulties and trials. They remind us that in all walks of life, we can achieve sanctity. And, as Pope Francis pointed out in his homily today, we see that “If there is one thing typical of the saints, it is that they are genuinely happy."

As is the case with many people, while I love all the saints, I have greater devotion to some saints in particular-those men and women whose example I look to more often, and who I specifically ask to pray for me most frequently. Those friends who I have gotten to know in various parts of my life for different reasons, and who will always hold a special place in my heart. Among these Favorite Saints (let's be real, I have so many "favorites"), there are a handful in particular who stand out from my younger years of childhood.