Pilgrimage Day 53: St. Agnes, Pray for us!

January 21, 2014: the feast of St. Agnes.

File:St Agnese in Agone Rome interior 02.jpg

Way back in 1984 or so, I chose St. Agnes as my Confirmation saint (or did she choose me?). I had read about her in a book in my school’s library, and was struck by her courage, and her love for God. I wanted to be like her!

Here is the Antiphon from today’s Vespers:

The blessed Agnes stood in the midst of the fire * and stretched forth her hands unto the Lord, and prayed, saying O Thou Who Alone art Almighty! Who Alone art to be adored! Who Alone art to be worshiped! Who Alone art to be feared! I bless thee, and glorify thy Name for ever and ever!

I STILL want to be like her!!

Product Review:

For Christmas, my Mother-In-Law gave me a 5-Mile Walk at Home DVD with a set of hand-weights, which I have been using when the weather does not permit me to go outside for a walk. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to do the 5-Mile Advanced Walk workout on the video. It keeps my heart rate close to where I want it to be during the workout, so I am really training my heart and burning the fat.

Stay tuned for some exciting news!


Pilgrimage Day 39: How are the New Year’s Resolutions Coming?

I just re-read my New Year’s Resolution post from a week ago. I had already forgotten some of them! The dangers of putting promises on public display!

Well, resolutions do me no good without frequent review, so let’s get to it:

1. Save money monthly for Chartres. CHECK. I have a certain amount I am saving each month, but I really don’t know how much I will need. I’ll just keep saving until I figure out all the expenses I am likely to incur.

2. Set monthly goals: endurance while walking, weight loss, diet adjustments to level of activity. CHECK. My personal Trainer gave me a little device called a Fitbit last week. It is amazing. It links to an online account, which helps you keep track of goals, caloric intake and burning, number of steps taken, intensity of activity, etc. If you have a heart rate monitor, you can enter that info here too, to keep all your motivators in one place. I just received my first weekly report in an email, which gives best days, worst days, and averages for all this stuff. By the way, I have lost 6 lbs. since I first logged in last Thursday. Yay!

3. Learn to use the heart rate monitor Ian gave me! No, I have not done this. I have it right here, and I downloaded the owner’s manual, though. Counts for something, right?

4. Set goals and start training with a friend who has agreed to be my personal trainer. See number 2 above. Today I took my walk (70 minutes at a brisk pace. It was supposed to be at 50 – 60% of my maximum heartrate, but since I have not done #3, I do not know if I reached this.) My Trainer wants me to get to the point where I can run a marathon at abut 5 mph. I am not there yet.

5. Stay accountable with my “loser buddy.” I sent her a note today, telling her what I am doing. 

6. Walk or exercise every day. Set a specific time for this. I do not have a specific time. I am not sure I can do this yet, since the weather and temperature fluctuate so much this time of year. As the weather warms, I can set it for the same time every morning, but for now it will depend on whether my breath freezes and falls to the ground as soon as it comes out of my nose, or whether there is a blizzard going on. I have thought about walking at the mall, but that would require at least one and a half hours of driving to get there and back, and would only give me level pavement to train on. Out here, I have gravel, mud, snow, ice, hills… and my Mother-In-Law gave me a DVD and a set of wrist weights for walking at home! I will use that during bad weather.

7. Drink enough water every day. I can make this part of a daily check list on my phone. I have not been drinking enough water, and I have not put it as a reminder on my phone. 

8. Learn more about how to exercise effectively and safely. I am doing this little by little. I am glad I have the running shoes I do. They are incredibly comfortable and supportive while I walk. Today while walking, since I did not know how much my heart was working, I wondered if I should jog. But because I was alone on a country road, I thought I had better not until Ian can make sure I don’t sprain my ankle and have to lie in the gutter until someone passes by.

9. Find out about pool membership and swim regularly if not cost-prohibitive. I did find out about this, and I think we might do it closer to summer if we go with the outdoor pool, or sooner if we go with the indoor pool with the possibility of swimming lessons for the kids.

10. Schedule time to spend one-on-one with each of the kids, especially the girls! I have some Girls’ Night In/Out activities on the calendar for my daughters. The next one is this Saturday: home manicures and pedicures! I took them the other day to pick out some nail polish.

11. Make time to go to the museum with our new family membership which we received for Christmas. Have not done this yet.

12. Try to minimize or consolidate doctor and dentist appointments so I have more time at home. Well, the appointments have slowed down a bit. At least for now.

13. Dedicate a specific time to grading school papers. I am trying to do this while the kids are doing their school work, but I frequently have to stop to teach a lesson or explain something, or even to stop a fight between the younger kids or lie down with a little one so he’ll take a nap.

14. Schedule Confession for the kids and take them. Have not done this officially, but some of them have gone recently. Some have not and need to.

15. Blog every day, or at least once a week, on the Liturgical Year/Feast Days, Family, and/or Pilgrimage Prep. Set specific time to blog. Obviously I have not done this since January 1. 

16. Set specific times for prayer (Divine Office and Rosary), spiritual reading, examination of conscience, and Scripture daily. Keep prayer area clear of distractions.  I have specific times I am supposed to do the Divine Office, but I do not always follow the schedule. The rosary I pray while on my walk and in the evening with the kids. I have not been diligent about the rest, and my prayer area is a mess. I’ll clean it up this week and try to get into a better routine. Also, at my last confession, the priest suggested I add the Angelus three times a day. I already do it at noon, but he said I should pray it at 6 AM and 6 PM also, to help structure the day.

17. Schedule regular Spiritual Direction and Confession. I went to confession last night, and have put it on the calendar for every two weeks, ,which my Spiritual Director recommended. As for having regular Spiritual Direction, he is a busy man and I take what I can get. Every 2 – 3 weeks would be ideal, but not possible.

18. Find a quiet place for a desk that is just for correspondence and bills. Keep it clean. Nope. Maybe once we move.

19. Save up for a Breviary since I had to return the one I borrowed from Fr. O’Neill. Or at least get a good app for my phone. Ian found an app that might work on my phone, but we have not gotten it yet. I have not started saving for a set of books, although this is something I really would like. I will have to look at the budget.

20. Read the Etsy-preneurship book Ian gave me, and refurbish my shop. Make more dolls and things to sell. Enlist the older kids to make things as well! Schedule time for reading, making, and doing. I have not done this.

21. Set regular time aside to sew the kids’ Christmas stockings. Goal: have Susan’s, Peter’s, Maria’s and Nana’s done by Thanksgiving! That means finish Susan’s in January, and then have a stocking completely done every 3 months. Enlist the help of the older kids. I have not done this either! And I am adding more to it: I want to learn how to crochet lace, and how to play the harp if my brother makes me a harp! Oh! and I want to have a flower garden.

22. Save up for a new Bosch motor so we can make bread regularly again. I have not budgeted this in either, but it needs to take priority over the Breviary set.

I guess that’s not too bad, but I need to crack out that calendar and start doing some of this stuff! The year is 7 days old already!

Pilgrimage: Day 7: St. Nicholas!

I woke up (maybe) early this morning while it was still dark, and was glad I did not have to go anywhere today. Now that the sun is up at 7:30 AM, it is  -18 degrees outside, with a windchill factor of -35!! I love my husband more than ever for braving these temperatures every day to go to work to support the family. Ian, you are my hero and my king!

I let the kids sleep in since most of them have finished their school work for the week, and I thought they would wake up on their own, knowing Who had come last night to fill their Christmas stockings!  The boys were up by 6, and by 6:45 they were chomping at the bit, so I let them go wake their sisters.

They each got a couple of clementine oranges, a candy cane, some chocolate coins, a small Italian torrone candy, and some peanut brittle. The baby got 2 clementines and 2 graham crackers, which made her extremely happy! Her sister peeled one of the oranges for her, and she ate the other one, peel and all!

Now Lucy is making French toast for breakfast, which we will eat with grapefruit halves. Yum.

Today’s walk, which will be inside again: 15-30 minutes. I think I will just do three 8-minute workout videos, since walking briskly is rather difficult inside the house! I must remember to drink plenty of water. Besides there being hardy any humidity outside, the heater is drying the air more inside the house. Thank you, Lord, for working furnaces!

Now, I can’t have a post about St. Nicholas Day without mentioning this great saint! There are so many wonderful stories about this beloved bishop. Among our favorites are the story of how he saved 3 girls from slavery by throwing bags of coins into their house at night, thus providing them with dowries, and the one of how he saved 3 boys from death (a wicked butcher had killed them and put them into a pickling barrel). But I cannot express the reality that is St. Nicholas in a more beautiful way than Leane did at her blog Finer Femininity, so go over there and read her post!

Pilgrimage: Day 6

Day 6: Thursday, December 5, 2013: St. Sabbas, pray for us!

Outside the world is quiet, cold, and white. The air sparkles with tiny bits of ice mimicking the stars that shine sharply against the deep velvet sky, and not even the many rabbits that live on our land dare to disturb the silence and the smooth surface of the snow covering the ground (and a multitude of sins, like the child’s wagon not put away before the storm). Ian has driven away, after coaxing the minivan into life, screaming and complaining (the van, not Ian).

Today I will exercise inside the house again; the high temperatures outside promising a meager 12 degrees at the summit of today’s heat. Right now it is negative 4 and feels like it. The sun is starting his ascent, turning the sky into an immense opal before  he sets it on frozen fire.

The kitchen is starting to warm up with oatmeal and cinnamon on the stove, and little feet are starting to pitter-patter around the house. Today is St. Nicholas Eve. Today is a school day. If the kids and I finish today’s work, we will have tomorrow off to bake Nativity cookies!

Today’s walk: 15 to 30 minutes.

Baking for Christmas

Starting in September, we have made some cookies to give as gifts for Christmas.

First, we made Gingersnaps from Faith & Family magazine’s November/December 2007 issue. We did not burn them this time.

We made Gingerbread Men (and Women, and Snowmen and Stars) from a recipe I found years ago in one of those “Holiday Baking” mini-magazines you find at the grocery store checkout.

We also made Springerle, lemon-anise flavored HARD cookies for dunking in coffee, tea or cocoa. I think I used the recipe in Joy of Cooking. My mom especially likes these, so I make them primarily for her, and also giv ehtem to other coffee-drinkers in the family.

Next, we will be making Pine Bark, also from the F & F Nov./Dec. ’07 issue, and bourbon balls (or rum balls, depending on what I find in the seldom-visited liquor cabinet), from a family recipe.

On Christmas Eve we’ll make Christmas Eve Mice, from the F & F issue cited above. The recipe pages in this particular issue are destined to be well-worn soon. I was hoping this year’s November/December issue would have more good cookie recipes, but it just has ideas for dressing up store-bought refrigerator cookie dough, which is fine if you are in a hurry and don’t mind the too-sweet taste or hazardous ingredients. But since we usually make our cookies in September & October and freeze them, we want them to be worth the wait until Christmas! We’ll stick with from-scratch for now.