Prioritizing is not my strong suit, otherwise I’d be doing something else instead of writing a blog post as midnight approaches. My choices in no particular order:

  • sleeping
  • creating & printing Valentines for my customers who will attend my 8:30am Jazzercise class tomorrow morning (I should really be sleeping now!)
  • create a “LOVE” themed, pulse-pounding, hip-swiveling class for tomorrow which won’t involve learning any new routines
  • clean the kitchen (because I did not do the dishes after last night’s meal)
  • night-time face & teeth cleaning routine, jammies, prayers
  • start a load of laundry (I should’ve done this two days ago!)
  • scoop the cat litter
  • knit one more row (current row is at 280 stitches)
  • race 25 times on my iPad game “Cars: Fast as Lightning”
  • tidy the living room
  • drink a glass of water
  • read a chapter of ANY book on my Kindle
  • see what’s new on my Facebook wall… well, better not…
  • check my e-mail to see if any urgent messages need a response before tomorrow
  • review my bookkeeping records to be sure everything is ready for tomorrow’s appointment with our tax accountant

It’s now 12:05am, and my next move is to put a LOVE set together for class while drinking water, make Valentines, get ready for bed, and set my alarm for 7am and go to bed.

I have plenty of clean dishes in the dishwasher, the cat litter can wait one more day, and I’ll just wear capris instead of long pants in the morning even though the temperature is expected to be in the mid-thirties.  Hey, this is sunny Florida!

Good night and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is having all the pieces in place!

Love is having all the pieces in place!

7QT: SOTG, leftover leftovers, ants, sandbox fun, thrifty finds, letting go and knitting

— 1 — wirelessly delivered Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, “Something Other Than God,” to my Kindle Fire on Tuesday. By Thursday morning, I’d finished the book. Then I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture of myself reading it in an amazing place! I’ll be re-reading it SOON, so I have time to plan an fun photo in hopes of winning one of Jennifer’s contests.

It was definitely an unusual experience to read a memoir/conversion story of someone I feel I know through her blog writing. To learn intimate details of her life before blogging, especially before she blogged about ‘scorpion infestations,’ kinda threw me off kilter. Jennifer is an amazing woman. Grab her book (hardback or Kindle edition). It’s a great read!

Here’s me posing with my Kindle Fire and my blog post rough draft late at night. Think it’s goofy enough to win a prize?

Au natural

Au natural

— 2 —

This past week was the worst cooking week of my entire married life, I’m sure. How many times can a person eat leftover leftover chicken? Or leftover leftover Sausage, Sauerkraut and Dumplings? And now, leftover leftover Tacos. How can this be? (That’s right… leftover TWICE. I may instigate a new kitchen rule. After ONE leftover opportunity, the food goes in the trash or I schlep it over to my mom’s house. (She’s been schlepping her leftovers to ME–thank you Mom!–for a decade.) Is anyone else experiencing a cooking slump?

— 3 —

There are only two things guaranteed to make me swear. One is when my knitting goes horribly bad, and the other is ANTS in my kitchen. I haven’t knitted for a month, so this pretty much means that I gear up for war upon entering my kitchen. It’s been a week since the damn little piss-ants have been drunkenly carousing all over my counter, back splash and sink, and I’m sick of it. I half-drained a can of RAID around my windowsill (inside AND outside), even sprayed the countertop, and those damn ants just keep marching on, and on, driving me INSANE. Me, a grown woman, will stand at the counter for five or ten minutes staring at the wall, the counter, the windowsill, trying my damnedest to find their starting point. They just APPEAR! How can ants do that??? I think I saw some come out from behind a receptacle cover. Are they inside my WALLS??? Augh! Now I have to scrub and sterilize my sink and counters or risk poisoning my family in my quest to be rid of this scourge. Does anyone have a remedy for/against these teeny tiny itty bitty ants?

— 4 —

My husband is pretty handy and capable with DIY projects. He built a sandbox for our grandson two weeks ago. (He proudly tells me it’s all notch construction–no screws or nails!) It’s huge by anyone’s “sandbox standards.” Our daughter’s first reaction when she brought her son to us for a day of playtime was “Hey! The sandbox you made for Chris and me wasn’t that big!”

Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys

Our response: “He’s our Grandson… he deserves a Grand Sandbox!” It’s so big, we need another load of sand to fill it up. The sand is clean Florida sand from a local nursery named “Growing Crazy.” The sand has no rocks, but it does contain clay. It holds moisture really well and is easy to mold and make tunnels that don’t collapse. Now I need to find a laundry detergent capable of removing stains similar to those incurred when a baseball player slides into 2nd base. Any suggestions?

— 5 —

I had a strong urge to visit thrift stores last week. I found great deals on several good quality, gently used, children’s toys and books. For a fraction of retail, I scored some like-new wooden puzzles and some blocks that look like huge Lego’s (no, not Duplo). So far, G-man has ignored the puzzles, but he went nuts for the blocks. Of course, I’d built a castle and he was all about KNOCKING IT DOWN. (He’s not even two years old yet.)

The mother lode of thrift store gems was discovered at Goodwill … a wooden childrens’ easel (chalkboard on one side, wipe-off board on the other) for only $10. An Aurora Hobby Horse (retails for $34) for only $1.99, but the best of the whole lot was the Little Tikes Vacuum Cleaner for only $1.49. For those not in-the-know, G-man is very enamored of my Simplicity upright vacuum, especially the wand with the floor attachment. I taught him to “push and pull” months ago. He’ll use bats, sticks, wooden spoons, etc. as a vacuum at home, at the park, at friends’ homes… so when I found this child-size play vacuum I KNEW it would be a hit. It was and is, despite his obvious distraction by the song “Let It Go” in the movie, FROZEN. (Note: you may want to click this link… it’s the Disney link with lyrics and a bouncing snowflake to follow along. It’s pretty cool.)

Distracted by "Let It Go" song in FROZEN movie.

Distracted by “Let It Go” song in FROZEN movie.

Okay, I forgot to leave room for this gem I found on GodTube, but it’ll fit (for obvious reasons you’ll realize after watching five grown men act out a Bible story as told (literally) by 5 kids. Enjoy!

On a serious note, I respectfully request Little Tikes or the Dustbuster folks get real about making children’s vacuums REAL. G-man play-vacuumed my entire living room, hallway, his bedroom, and half the kitchen. It really stinks that I have to do it AGAIN with the REAL vacuum this weekend.

— 6 —

There’s only 52 weeks in the year, so I suppose it’s inevitable that the week my daughter’s second baby is due is also the week I’m scheduled to teach ten Jazzercise classes because my associate will be enjoying a well-deserved vacation. I’m not worried about teaching ten classes in six days, but the two 5:45 a.m. classes will be a challenge! I trust in God to get me through difficult times as well as little things in life. A Jazzercise instructor for 20 years, I am blessed to have fun and flexibility built in to my daily life and am enthusiastic to share the joy of dance & fitness with others!


— 7 —

My Jazzercise associate will teach ten classes when I’m on vacation in Daytona Beach. I’ll enjoy quiet time while sitting poolside (or beachside). It’s only an hour from home, but a great way to get a vacation, ya know? I have BIG plans, one of which may include some swearing, if I’m honest. If you read post #3, you may have guessed that it will involve knitting. I’ve got to fix a knitting mistake before the weather cools down. I was doing GREAT with the new baby blanket for grandson #2 until I started a new skein in the MIDDLE OF A ROW near the end of the blanket. What was I thinking??? It’s best to end and begin skeins at the BEGINNING of a row, and weave in the ends. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of yarn! Let me show you what happened when I had a lapse in judgment… uh, I may have a MAJOR PROBLEM… where the hell did I put the new blanket??? All I wanted to do was take a picture to post, but the blanket is not where I thought it was. I haven’t seen the blanket for weeks! Excuse me while I have a minor panic attack…

Okay. That’s done. Now I’ll just say a prayer to St. Anthony…

Hi Saint Anthony! It’s me again. I’d be ever so grateful if you could point me in the right direction to help me find that darling blue baby blanket I’ve spent the last four or five months knitting. It has an adorable “baby block pattern.” I ask for your intercession with love and gratitude! Your sister in Christ, Monica. Amen.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. FOUND IT! YEA!

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Hi Saint Anthony! Me again. THANK YOU SO MUCH for planting the idea it could be in my bedroom. I also received the suggestion that I clean my room soon. De-cluttering is an excellent strategy for loss prevention. Your intercessions are never taken for granted, and I know and rejoice that all glory and honor belong to Jesus Christ, our Lord!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Death and Taxes

— 1 —

I was deathly ill for 36 hours. I’m still confused about what happened, and why I’m still alive to write this 7QT post. We ate at a local franchise restaurant Wednesday evening that I will not name because despite my initial suspicion of food poisoning, ten hours later I was betting on influenza. Every bone in my body was under fire, and felt as if the bones were flaking apart inside my body as a dry desert wind would blow pain this way, then that way. I was unable to do anything more than sleep, dream, roll over, moan, and sleep, continuously for 30 hours. My husband brought me a cup of chicken broth sometime Thursday night, and I remember trying to take a few sips of water, but sleep is what ruled my world. Thursday, April 10, came and went without me. I woke Friday morning to the realization that I’d missed an important deadline… and it cost me $50. What the heck happened to me Wednesday night?  Was it food poisoning? Was it a 24-hour bug that decided to stay a few extra hours? A “viral syndrome” is what WebMD came up with after I listed my symptoms… in addition to several types of cancers and diseases. I’ll take curtain #1 for Viral Syndrome. It’s Friday night and the pain is nearly gone except for a twinge in my lower back. I wasn’t sleep deprived. I’ve gotten plenty of sleep this week. I was so sick I even prepared myself to die in bed. I prayed the “Act of Contrition” and was ready to leave my aching, pain-wracked body.  I’m still here, thank you, Jesus!  I’ll get to meet my 2nd grandson in two months, God-willing.

— 2 —

Near-death and taxes.  My husband would have been really mad at me if I’d died before getting our taxes done on Saturday.

— 3 —

Easter dinner. I’ve committed myself to having guests for Easter dinner. How much of the house REALLY needs to be clean?  Bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room.  Is it okay to keep bedroom doors closed to keep guests out?  Or is that just rude?  How much is expected of someone who knocked on death’s door a week before Easter?

— 4 —

My old XP computer was one of my favorite computers. I pulled the (Internet) plug on it today in an effort to keep it from being attacked by those nameless, faceless, evil hackers who make life hell for normal folks who just want to play a game of solitaire now and then between checking eBay and posting pictures of their food on Facebook.

— 5 —

My 19-month-old grandson’s new favorite movie (after a solid YEAR of watching “Cars” daily) is “Frozen.” At any time of the day you can say “Do you wanna build a SNOWman?” and he’ll smile and his eyes will light up with joy. It’s the darnedest thing to see! Here’s what he looks like while actually watching that scene…

— 6 —

Vice and Virtue. This was the title of one of the nightly presentations given by Fathers of Mercy missionary priest Father Wade Menezes last week at our church’s parish mission “Work Out Your Salvation.” I bring it up now because I still haven’t made a commitment on which to focus my prayer and energy. I’m sure procrastination is on the vice side, so the corresponding virtue would be… what? Punctuality?  After my mysterious illness, I’d better start getting my virtues in tip-top shape!

— 7 —

Look at the time! It’s 3:24 a.m. and I’m late for bed by anyone’s standards. I’ll need to start being punctual tomorrow. But who can blame me?  I slept for over 30 hours yesterday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

When Holy Days Become Holidays, My Faith Suffers

I love holidays for the promise they hold within the folds of their tablecloths and traditions, but for the most part they do little to bolster or energize my spiritual nature. It’s all come down to a formula, the same frantic pace to “set the stage” for each holiday. There’s a playbook, and everyone has a copy.

Any errors are mine… I wrote this post when I should have been sleeping…

Although not a Holy Day, I think this was one of the “fire-starter” events that led to the secularization of Christmas. Take the traditional Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green-bean casserole, dinner rolls, candied yams, salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, whipped cream — and the assorted side dishes peculiar to your geographic location or culture. Overload. Make people think they have to do it all, and they will die trying to keep up with the neighbors (or those fanciful TV commercials).

Women, especially, feel the disconnect, as we’re the main providers of this fantastic meal. A meal that takes 20 minutes to eat, but 20 hours to prepare. (And a minimum of 2 hours to clean up if you wrangle some help.)  This doesn’t take into account the time needed to clean the house, decorate, and invite family/friends, then wait for the RSVP that folks don’t feel they need to provide a hostess any longer…. So we’ll say that generally as soon as Halloween is unplugged and the last bag of candy eaten, the holiday planning for Thanksgiving gets put in motion… with Christmas on its heels.

How many people know that most churches offer a “Thanksgiving Day” Mass or service? Do you give the excuse that you can’t attend because you’re cooking?  Perhaps this is what it sounds like to God…

Pastor: We hope you can join us in prayer Thanksgiving morning, to thank God for the blessings in our lives and home.

Us: Sorry, can’t make it this year. (As if next year will be better?) I’ve got to put the turkey in the oven and baste it every 30 minutes. There’s just too much to do to leave in the middle to go pray.

God: It would be good to see you relax in prayerful meditation. I don’t need to hear your appreciation for all the blessings I’ve bestowed on you, but it would be so good for YOU  to acknowledgement what you’ve received. I miss my  Children; it fills me with joy when they spend time with me!

ChristmasChristmas is a Holy Day. It is the day the Catholic Church established as a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Of course it’s not the exact day in space and time. That’s beside the point. Christ’s Mass — whether it’s the Shepherd’s Mass, Midnight Mass, Sunrise Mass, is to celebrate the coming of our Savior and to wait in joyful hope for His Second Coming. Advent is the four weeks PRECEDING Christmas.  We prepare our homes and ourselves, our spiritual selves, for the second coming of the Messiah. Or at least, we’re supposed to do that. I try and I plan to pray, but life seems to get in the way and the O Antiphon prayers go unsaid each night… the Advent Candles unlit.

Marketers, corporations and businesses have shrink-wrapped Advent and Christmas into one long gooey mess between Halloween and December 24. Because the Christmas craziness starts early, by the time December 25 actually rolls around, people are taking down their tree and turning off their outside lights. Then it’s off to the next prescribed holiday, New Year’s Eve.  Hah! That’s what’s incredible. The Holy day is actually New Year’s Day, and it is called Feast of the Holy Family. But liquor companies own the New Year’s Eve mystique, so folks feel as if they need to party and drink all night long. A lot of Catholics miss this Mass because they partied too hardy the night before.

Remember the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas?” It’s rich with symbolism. It may or may not have been used in the 1300’s, but it is still a valuable lesson. The Catholic Christmas is an OCTAVE.  That’s EIGHT days. Then there’s a few more days to Epiphany, the Feast of the Magi. This is the day to disassemble the Christmas props (lights, tree, stockings, ornaments, etc), but some folks are already preparing for the next pseudo-holiday, Valentine’s Day, which USED to be called Saint Valentine’s Day. It was a day for exchanging greeting cards with loved ones.  Candy and gifts are new requirements, and the jewelry stores are on a no-holds barred campaign to sell you expensive jewelry, so watch out!

ASH WEDNESDAY isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, but the previous night’s Mardi Gras celebrations have eclipsed the first day of Lent and its’ meaning “Man, you were created from dust and to dust you shall return.”  “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday” and got that name from over-indulging in activities which are considered sinful, such as overeating (Greed and Avarice). Folks wear a disguise on Mardi Gras to sin in secret, so as not to be recognized by Satan and the other evil spirits who wander the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Lent begins, and I try to take control of my prayer life and whip it into shape. Stations of the Cross were doable last year, and I hope to continue this wonderful prayer again this year.

MON.pieta_-150x150The 3 days of the Easter Triduum (also known as the Passion of the Christ) are the MOST HOLY DAYS OF THE ENTIRE YEAR FOR CATHOLICS, and yet there are Catholics who are not aware of this fact. More Catholics go to Mass on Ash Wednesday (NOT a holy day of obligation) and will find any reason not to attend Mass on Holy Thursday.  Good Friday is the ONLY day of the year the priest does not offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. The photo (above) is from the new movie, Mary of Nazareth.

People are basically good, but they also want to be noticed.  What better way to be noticed than by having black ashes drawn as a cross on your forehead for everyone to see? All day. All night. If ashes were distributed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I bet attendance would pick up.

EasterWhen I was a young girl, Easter was magical. We became a new creation. My sister and I wore new dresses, and also wore white gloves, carried white patent-leather purses which matched our new white patent-leather shoes. Going to Easter morning Mass was special. The music, the liturgy, the priest, the people! Afterwards we’d enjoy a fun Easter Egg Hunt before being called in for a scrumptious dinner.

The more secularized the holy day, the greater the disconnect. People choose the televised football game over attending Mass. They choose dinner at home with family they won’t get along with over the Eucharist–Jesus Christ–who died on the Cross to free them from the slavery of sin.

file5811249333571This all is nothing new, but it needs to be said every few years. I’ve got an idea I want to implement next year. I want to throw a “New Year’s Party” on the Saturday night before the first Sunday of Advent, which is the first day of the liturgical year, so it makes sense to me.  Hopefully it will encourage Catholics to return to a true celebration of Advent (waiting) in order to put all the other holy days back into perspective. Also, this is one event I doubt the world will blindly embrace or try to hijack.

No flat surface left uncovered in this house…

Through the years, my husband would often complain that if there was a flat surface in our house, I would find something to put on it.  Well, I’ve tried to keep that quirk to a minimum (truly, I’ve tried) but 2013 has been a year of failure on this front.

I know where everything is (for the most part) but that actually doesn’t help. The only flat surface not currently obscured with clutter or “stuff” is the dining room table, and that’s only because I’m planning to wash the tablecloth.  In order to avoid IRONING the 102″ long tablecloth, I’ll need to wash, dry and immediately replace it on the table. So no clutter is allowed on it until that’s accomplished.  If I delay much longer, we’ll be celebrating the holidays and the dining room will be decorated!

Which brings me to the “question of the day” posted for November 5… What is the condition of the writing space where I blog… or something to that effect.  Gee. I have to go with cluttered and stacked. My wrists rest on my iPad mini (waiting to charge through iTunes), a pad of paper, a few Rolodex cards, 2 postcards (they need stamps affixed before I can mail them), a gasoline receipt, and a few loose notes (from the aforementioned pad of paper). This is only the stuff UNDER my wrists.

To my right is the telephone/answering machine–which I sometimes answer because I start thinking it might be someone other than a salesman, politician or a police/fire foundation who wants money because I was so generous five years ago (I gave them $10. If I’d know what a PITA this would become, I would NOT have donated $10).  I am always disappointed when I answer the house phone, but I grew up answering the phone. “It might be important!” Also to the right is an empty water bottle (and now I’m thirsty), a pen, TWO pairs of earrings, more receipts, a stack of blank index cards, the mouse and mousepad, and the Rolodex.

The Florida Catholic newspaper

The Florida Catholic newspaper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To my left is a miracle of balance and symmetry. In no particular order is a small cutting board and a paring knife (I think I had a wine and cheese party one night while reading email), a discarded bra (it was tight and I wanted to get comfortable), a suede photo album with nearly 100 4×6 prints of my grandson celebrating his ONE-YEAR-OLDness….

Peeking around the edges of this stack, I can see my Certificate of Insurance forms for 2013 and another for 2014. Perhaps an issue or two of the Florida Catholic newspaper, some accounting forms, attendance pages from my Jazzercise class (oh, that’s where the August pages are!) and stuff I can’t identify because I’d have to adjust the delicate balance of the stuff on top.  I do know that there’s nothing time-sensitive in that pile.  It’s on the LEFT side of the desk.  I’m RIGHT-HANDED.  Simple logic.

I know a picture is worth a thousand words. That may be so, but my iPhoto app on my iMac computer is still INOPERABLE.  If it were paper, it would be located on the RIGHT-HAND side of my desk, which is where things get taken care of sooner (rather than later).  

English: Apple iMac aluminium

English: Apple iMac aluminium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now that this description is posted, I will endeavor to CLEAN MY DESK at the first opportunity. Then I’ll find some way to take and post a picture. I suppose I can E-MAIL it to myself since neither my iPhone nor my iPad mini are able to upload photos to my iMac.