01 February 2015

Hello, February....

Remember once upon a time last month when I said I was going to use creative outlets more, including blogging? And then remember how I did all kinds of blogging in the last month to show how legit those plans were? You don't remember that second one? Huh. Must've only done the first one. But I'm not really going to pressure myself about it.

Here we are at the start of February and I have to admit I'm feeling pretty good about it. You can't really go wrong when you begin February with Septuagesima Sunday. I am also really liking the fact that the whole month, as it begins on a Sunday, fits all 28 days nicely and neatly into full weeks. The little things.

Here's what's been going on as of late:



I had a work meeting this last week which was held on the 28th floor of a hotel. During a break time, I was able to treat myself to this snazzy view featuring the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul (left) and City Hall (right). The world looks so much cooler from way up high.


I moved recently (so happy about that) and one of the benefits was this new guy as a roommate. He is just like my old pitbull in that he thinks your food is actually his. No, dude. No carrots for you.


No matter how stressful my day can get, however annoyed I get with busy life or noisy people, I am always reminded that being in a city has its perks. In particular, visiting the new and eclectic or returning to the old and familiar. Moriarty's is kind of a mix of both for C and I.


College boys give you $100 as a tip? Treat yo self! Capogiro gelato is the best. Yes, that's avocado and cactus pear on the bottom row.

What to do while you're waiting for your pizza to finish cooking? Cross the street and have a cider. I know hard ciders are probably considered wimpy in the world of alcoholic beverages, but I like them and I'm not apologizing.

Mass this noon at Holy Trinity. This church is gorgeous. I love the windows...


And of course, where would I be in writing this post without a cuppa? Recently purchased Lady Grey, Peppermint and Irish Breakfast from Twinings. Ohhhh yes I did.

Off to work now. Happy happy Sunday!

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05 January 2015

Home for Christmas, the New Year and Other Musings

She's been absent without excuse for several months and she just jumps in with link ups and nostalgia instead of an explanation? Yes, yes, that's what I'm doing. Enjoy!

I was fortunate enough to be able to go home for a week at Christmas and it was exactly what I needed. I've been living in Philadelphia (probably more on that in a future post) and the combination of city life, a new workplace, lackluster social skills and a bit of aimlessness left me feeling less than enthusiastic. Since I'm the kind of person who more easily sees downsides, difficulty or my own inadequacies, this all added up to a very negative general outlook. This is not to say that my life as of late has been horrible; rather, "the real world" hit me harder than I expected, both because that's how the real world works and because I didn't prepare myself for it. Mea culpa, of course, every day, always. I'm a work in progress here. Aren't we all?

Let's be honest: Philly isn't all that bad.

Anyway, let's give this post a more positive turn.


Going home was like all the nostalgic metaphors blended together. Breathing in warm, kitchen scents that smell like home should; wrapping in cozy blankets, well-worn from several Winters' use; family members' smiles somehow forgotten, now brilliantly remembered, making you believe you'd never left, making you wonder how you stayed away so long. There were all the old things: the dryer rumbling with my step-father's work clothes, the cold air and tiles in the morning made bearable by the sound and smell of dripping coffee, the evenings spent sinking into my sister's impossibly soft bed (probably just lumpy, though, and sometimes impossibly difficult from which to emerge) ready for conversation and jokes, the feeling of my sister's hands going through my hair as she styled it, the angles of my mother's shoulders when we hugged too few times, the gruffness of my step-father's voice and facial hair communicating love in the way he usually does (calling me "kiddo").

Then there were all the new things I didn't expect: a new sign in the kitchen as well as kitchen gadgets we didn't have before (sifters are easily some of the coolest tools in the world, by the way), the confusion I had in half walking to the pantry and half walking to the lazy Susan when I couldn't remember where certain baking ingredients were kept, the confounding size and skills of my baby cousin who was only three months old when I left and had somehow learned to walk with only some assistance in my absence. Stop it, girl. Just stop. But don't actually stop. Keep going because you're awesome.

Each day wasn't enough. Though I tried to schedule anything and everything I could into each day--baking, movie watching, meeting with friends and family--some of the best moments were the unscheduled ones where I fell into something that felt like incredibly comfortable normalcy, something I hadn't felt in a long time. All the old traditions of poking my sister to wake her up, making graham cracker houses and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on a mattress in the living room Christmas Eve were woven together with all the new bits made new by C's presence: my sister asking him when he was going to wake up (which became a daily question partly caused by his sleeping schedule being different and partly because she wondered when he was going to join in our activities), him designing his first graham cracker house and constructing a floor (a fact the rest of us found hilarious), him opening a stocking he hadn't expected to receive which my mother put together.

I'm a graham cracker house building professional.
The week spent at home was like stealing time from the past. I knew it couldn't last, but that was one of the best parts of the week: I never thought about it ending. I never counted down the days or realized when the half point was, as I often do with trips I am so excited about, only to look with sadness at the remaining days. I never thought about coming back or about work or about anything that had bothered me over the last several months. I used my vacation as an actual vacation and didn't spend half of the time worrying. I know this must seem a very obvious thing, but I never was good at focusing only on the good.

I have since returned to Philadelphia and what a welcoming return it was (hint: seven shifts in six days). Nonetheless, I realized there were things I missed about the city without realizing it. One of my favorite things to do here is walk. I could pretty much walk in any environment, but give me headphones, city blocks, a cloudy day and some coffee and I'm all set for having a wander around. I did miss the autonomy, the anonymity, the abundance of activity. None of it truly beats the comfort of home, but it is good and worth noting as good, if not only so as not to be discouraged. Despite myself, I even missed work. Keeping busy is necessary for me, otherwise I grow restless, but each interaction since I came back has seemed easier. I think that this is because, as I am not especially good with social interactions and do not have a personality which meshes with many of my coworkers' personalities, any interactions I had in December were just stress built upon stress. Back and fresh from a break, I feel like I can look on further interactions with a greater deal of patience for myself and others.

[How asocial does that sound? As if I can hardly bear to be around people... (So what if it's sometimes true?)]
One of the best days of Autumn. Is it because I'm by myself? Let's not answer that.

Really, though, I think that the break and the whole new year business (you know, "new year, new me" and all that) has helped me to create a more positive perspective. I have plans, though they haven't been written down (they ought to be; let's write some now).

1. Take advantage of new beginnings. I ought to thank Haley for a good deal of my inspiration, as her recent podcast with Christy called Fountains of Carrots and the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle (of which her book, Feast!, is part) have both encouraged me to make 2015 a better year than 2014 was. Playlists--full of encouraging lines instead of depressing groans--are always helpful, which can often be found on the sidebar if you are interested in taking a listen.

2. Find inspiration and, if necessary, create it. I have decided to collect good quotations, lyrics, whathaveyou and make them into art. Yes, how very Pinterest of me. I have done similarly in the past, including prayers and religious art, which I may do as well. In sight, in mind. I need all the inspiration I can get.

3. Let go of things that hurt me. Partially inspired by the following:



Life is too short and too easy to mess up in regard to what happens after (four last things, anyone?) for me to waste my time in this way. Why put up with people who hurt me, including myself? Why repeat the same behaviors when I already know the poor outcome? Why remain upset when I can do something to change my attitude instead?

4. Tell the people I love that I love them. Not only with a verbal "I love you," which I should do more of anyway, but with actions as well. Send messages. Call people on the phone instead of texting. Hand-write letters if necessary. Naturally this applies to the aforementioned family I waxed poetic about for the first half of the post, but I also need to work on seeing the good--even the Christ--in people I'm not familiarly obliged toward. I believe it is easy for me to be judgmental or wary of others because I seldom welcome the opportunity to meet them on a human level because I am too cautious and protective of my selfish desire to keep to myself. Sure, opening up to people opens up your chance to be hurt by them, but isn't that the point of love? People are going to let you down or talk behind your back or fail to understand you. My goal is to keep trying anyway.

5. Find creative outlets. I have a variety pack of sharpies and I'm not afraid to use them. This connects well with the plan I have to collect inspirational words, but I would like other medias as well. Blog more (hello). Maybe start vlogging (as requested by a friend, Y)? Read when I really want to escape. Now what I really need to do is figure out how to transport my piano... 

And now for some love:


These two.

Dear Grace writes over at Even the Wilderness. In her recent posts, she has been direct, open and honest in ways few people are and she has inspired me in writing this post. [I postponed writing for so long because I felt either 1) there was nothing good to say or 2) the garbage I did write would fall like an unexpected flat note in an otherwise major-tuned collection of posts. It is too much to expect that we always be on top of things and the only way I can turn things around is to admit that things can be crap at times, but they don't have to be crap always. I know, major epiphany there. Oh hey, Epiphany's tomorrow! Anyway.] I always stumble upon a post of hers at the exact right moment. She's been really spot on lately, so go check her out, leave a comment, tell her she's awesome, etc. Maybe include a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch. She'll dig it. Promise.

Hannah blogs, makes videos on YouTube and steals the hearts of many with her adorable son Grayson (he's one this week!). Her weekly vlogs have been scheduled into my routine and C enjoys watching their family adventures as well. Because of her vlogs I wish I lived in London, find good new music and get bit by the baby bug yet again. Oof.

And another Hannah! Hannah was one of the first people who started following my blog (and leaving comments! which means those viewing numbers are from real people! thank you!) and we've bonded in our convert boat. She is sweet and I so often find myself nodding along when I'm reading one of her posts. I was super excited when she announced that she and her husband Daniel are expecting!


Welcome, 2015. You're looking good.

01 October 2014

Ma Joie!


I want to live for a long time still,
Lord, if this be Your desire.
I would like to follow You in heaven,
If this would please you.
Love, that fire of our Fatherland,
Never ceases to consume me.
What matters life or death to me?
My sole happiness is to love You only.


Longtemps encore, je veux bien vivre,
Seigneur, si c'est la ton desir.
Dans le Ciel, je voudrais te suivre,
si cela te faisait plaisir.
L'Amour, ce fue de la Patrie,
Ne cesse de me consumer
Que fait la mort ou la vie?
Mon seul bonheur, c'est de t'aimer.


"Ma Joie!
" A poem by St. Therese


Happy Feast of St. Therese!


13 August 2014

Story of a Rosary

On the 30th of March 2013, I was gifted my Rosary. Anyone who has been around this blog for a while or who is exceptionally good with dates will know that was the day before Easter. Later that evening at the Vigil, I would be confirmed. Those three hourswhile many lament such a duration for Masswould be some of the best three hours of my life.

Before the Vigil, some family and friends joined me at dinner. Less than a year prior, I would have been surprised that anyone wanted to be at the Vigil with me. Sitting at a table surrounded by people who had so influenced my life and faith was gift enough. Still, some brought gifts for me. My aunt gave me a box with a card attached. I opened the box to see...



This Rosary, my aunt explained to me, was made by a woman who crafted and gave away Rosaries for free. As I lifted the Rosary from the box, my aunt continued, telling me she had the Rosary blessed. To anyone else raised in the Church and celebrating their Confirmation, such a gift would be normal, perhaps expected. It was so unexpected that anyone in the family would give me something quite obviously Catholic that I couldn't find any words which seemed proper. "Thank you" tumbled out at some point as I turned beads over in my hand.

I remember the first time I said a Rosary (or at least five decades worth). C and I walked around my campus at night, me trailing behind in the prayers, ruffling through a booklet's pages for the next mystery in streetlamp light. I remember the street corners we turned and the spot where I finally had the Fatima prayer down. After that night I said the Rosary daily. I know it didn't last for any grand stretch of time consistently, but I returned to it in early mornings, fell asleep to it at night or began reciting Hail Marys when faced with some anxious or nervous situation.

The cross of the Rosary surprised me, as it wasn't the usual crucifix. Instead, flowers cover the surface, which remind me of my Confirmation saint, St. Thérèse, who is associated with flowers (Little Flower, anyone?) and especially roses. It also reminds me of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who graces my Rosary with her presence on the centerpiece. In this depiction she is not crowned Queen of Heaven, not stricken with sorrow; rather she looks young, as if at the Annunciation when she says yes, where she obeys God and Christ is made Incarnate. She is ever faithful and abundantly feminine.

On the opposite side is carved Jesus Christ. Again I think of the Incarnation: Christ is made from Mary. On this side, it looks like love shines from His Sacred Heart. Still other times I look at it and I can see Christ instituting the Eucharist: instead of his heart, he holds the chalice. I'm guessing it isn't supposed to be both images, but I think arguments can be made either way from the picture.

As beautiful as the Rosary is, I was surprised to receive it, even on superficial bases. Red isn't really my color, yet burgundy beads abound. The crucifix was absent, which was strange since I had such fascination and adoration for the crucifix at Mass. As time went on, and especially this Summer, I realized how fitting each detail is to my life, not much more than a year later.

When I see the flower-covered cross, I remember St. Thérèse, my dear sister in Heaven whose intercession I rely upon. When I see Mary on the centerpiece, I want to become more like her in every possible way. When I see Christ, Sacred Heart version, I remember the great suffering He endures for us because He loves us, and I long to become holier, to ease His suffering, if only by a small amount. When I see Christ, Institution of the Eucharist version, I pray for priests: for their faith and love of God to increase, for valid Masses to be said, for an increase in the number of priests throughout the world, to one day have a son to give to God in the priesthood. I pray that all Catholics will truly, firmly believe in the Real Presence. I pray that we always reverently receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. When I see each red bead, I remember Christ's blood shed on the cross, wine changed into His blood and martyrdom (which each day seems more probable).

Perhaps it is advisable to have only a couple devotions, tops. It makes sense: you have to sacrifice the breadth of possibilities for the depth of understanding which can only be had in a few. Still, there are so many good values I should imitate. There are so many important truths which demand attention. There are so many valuable people who need love and prayers.


When I see my Rosary, I see the person I want to be, the realities I cannot deny and the men who make living as a Catholic possible. A Rosary is not just a collection of beads. It is a story of Christ and His Mother, of redemption, of love without bounds. It is patience and obedience, charity and good will, perseverance and suffering. It is my story linked together with that of Christ.

Already parts of the Rosary are showing signs of use, but I hope this Rosary is part of my life for a long time.

08 July 2014

The Thing No One Talks About

It was on an evening of the second week of Totus Tuus that one of the girls, N, I roomed with told me: "H is thinking about quitting."

"What?" I responded, "Why?"

H is a seminarian in our group. From what I could tell, he was a rather optimistic and excitable person, very good with the kids, super energetic... Basically all the things I feel I have deficiencies in. I didn't know him well, but I knew him enough to be surprised that he would think of leaving Totus Tuus.

N proceeded to tell me that H had been feeling really down, filled with a negative attitude about the program. He wanted to be there, but something was wrong. As she explained, I recalled what I had felt only a few days previous. Each Saturday we travel to the next parish to attend Vigil Mass and meet our host families. When we arrived at our second week location, it seemed as if I had some mental and emotional block put up. As our group heard Mass, I felt very distracted and had to continually remind myself to refocus. I could not engage in the homily given and struggled through the prayers. I understood rationally that I wanted to be there: there is no better place to be than at Mass. But emotionally, it just wasn't working.

As we exited the cathedral and the girls met with our host family, I felt...less than enthused. I wasn't excited about the new parish. I wasn't excited about the new family. I did not want to be there and only barely attempted small talk as we drove down the street. I would even have struggled to say that I cared. It was like I was completely checked out except for the times I forced myself to try to get back into the real world. It was as if something gloomy and dark was resting upon me.

That is when I realized, as I told N and Y (the other girl we roomed with), that I'm fairly certain the struggle I had had was inspired by Satan.

Okay, watch now as everyone has some sort of "That's a bit far, don't you think?" comment. No. Not at all. As the title of this post suggests, this is the thing no one talks about: the fact that the devil is prowling like a lion seeking to devour us. That imagery makes it seem as if the devil is obvious in his work, but he isn't. He, being an angel, knows far more than a man knows. What's more: he knows man's weaknesses. He knows which buttons to push and when to do so.

I can sometimes be an emotional person, which does not mean that I cry constantly, but I understand and experience some things best through emotions or feelings. While I strive to be rational (since emotions can waver), emotions do play a good part in how I experience things like Mass. That does not mean that if I don't feel blown away, I'll think it was a bad Mass. Of course not. Instead, if I feel as if I cannot connectif my mind strays, if my heart doesn't seem to be in it, and so onit is actually much more difficult for me to hear Mass as I am supposed to do. That is exactly what happened to me on Saturday.

It makes sense of course. Our Totus Tuus team is educating children, teaching them about the faith from very basic concepts to very intellectual reaches. We work constantly to inform, inspire and correct these students we have been allowed an amazing opportunity with. The opportunity is worth it, as I remind myself every day, but it is still a lot of work to do. Of course Satan would encourage us to quit, to turn us away from an opportunity to really open up someone's eyes about the faith.

Now that N had told me about H's doubts, I saw how Satan was working. I've even seen since then (this now being more than two weeks later) that when our team becomes stressed, Satan plays upon those chords to make our exhausted, scatterbrained selves even more stressed. He wants us to notice how little sleep we got the previous night. He wants us to replay in our minds the disagreeable conversation we had with someone. He wants us to question how worth it this job is.

So how do you respond when you feel as if Satan is bearing down on you?

Pray. Our group prays a lot. We pray Morning, Evening and Night prayer. We pray the Rosary. We pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. A team member is praying during every class period. We pray at the opening and closing of each day, before meals and during class with the students. We ask for prayers and pray for each other. We have a huge support system at the parishes. We have daily Mass: the ultimate prayer.


Prayer is so important in the Christian life, but I fear we do not pray as often as we should. Do not be discouraged! It is so easy to add prayer into your life to make it a regular thing. If you pray before bed but always fall asleep, pray when you first wake up instead. Pray at set times by starting up the Liturgy of Hours. Pray with your friends and family. Pray as you commute to work or school. Pray the Rosary every day, even if only one decade. Prayer is not only a conversation with God; it is both our sword and shield.

It is a constant battle, or maybe it is battle after battle. Satan doesn't want to give up. But as Y told me earlier today: we may lose a battle, but I want to win the war.


Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against
the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into Hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

28 June 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Pan Dulce, Tennis, Ice Cream, Misspellings

I have become so busy that these {phfr} posts are the only ones I'm consistently doing! I do have other post ideas, but I'll have to get to those later. Here's my week and all its lovely moments...

{pretty}

The third week of Totus Tuus brought us to a new location. I was the only girl on the four-person team this week, so I was on my own at my host family's place. It felt pretty lonely at first without the girls to hang out with, but the kindness of my host family really made up for the change. The Vs are an older Mexican couple, whose kids have all moved out (though, most of them live nearby on the land the family bought years ago). Both retired, they spend their days hosting family, watching movies, working in the garden and enjoying life simply. The woman is chatty, joking and feeds me like I am her granddaughter. "Did you have enough?" she always asks. The husband is much quieter but chimes in with his own humorous anecdotes, and he and his wife go back and forth talking about their life together. It is a charming but realistic picture of marriage painted before me.

About  mid-week when I returned to the house after the teenage session, the wife invited me to the table where a plate of these beauties lay. Her friend had brought over pan dulce, sweet bread, earlier in the day. Some had apple filling, others were like cinnamon rolls. My favorite is the pink one in the lower left. They are perhaps the simplest, but I think they're so pretty...



After a very crazy week last week (with over one hundred kids), this week was relaxed in terms of attendance. Each day we had between fifteen and twenty kids. I did almost every class with the younger ages (first through fourth grade). Each day we teach one of the Luminous Mysteries and, after all of the material has been covered for the first period, free time is spent coloring images of the particular Mystery of the day. T also taught the younger kids a lot and would tell the kids to make it a contest where he would pick the winner. I think he may have picked himself every time, though, because he would say, "Ooh. This is the best picture I've ever done. It is so prrrreeeeetty." The kids would reply that he had said the same thing the day before, which was true. The image below was from the Transfiguration (the fourth Mystery). T made it especially colorful and I couldn't deny it: it was prrrreeeeetty.



{happy}

Stress relief activity spotted throughout the week is always necessary. I certainly never thought this job was going to be very easy. Honestly, teaching is probably the easiest part. Corralling dozens of excitable kids for Mass where you're meant to be quiet and still? Much more difficult for me than teaching. I am learning valuable lessons in patience, that is for sure.

Anyway, having fun during the week needs to happen in order to give us the energy to tackle another day. One day, we walked over to the nearby school tennis courts and played for a bit. I wasn't wearing the proper attire for tennis (hello, dress which is super affected by the wind and jumping) so I spent some time just taking pictures of the sport. I actually used to be the sports editor of my high school yearbook and was thinking of the two top rules of sports photography: 1) get the whole body of the athlete in the picture and 2) get the ball of the sport in the picture. This one is my favorite of the bunch I took.


{funny}

One of the best parts about being in this town this week was Father F. He and C went to the same seminary, though the were at different levels when they were there together. He is the reason C and I are working with Totus Tuus, because he asked us if we were interested. Father F could probably be best described as eccentric, but in a way that I find funny. I can't think of any concrete, easily explainable examples, which I know is suuuuuuper annoying and unhelpful. Anyway. One night he had the team members and one of the families of the church over for dinner. His home is filled with the usual suspectsheavy Missals, religious art and two rambunctious dogsbut he also has a small pipe collection. I know nothing of pipes, but they do have a coolness factor.


T loves Father F because the latter is well-aware of the former's ice cream addiction and actively supports it. That is, buys several gallons of ice cream throughout the week supports it. T could not be happier, and the rest of us are quite fine with it as well. The thing is, a bowl isn't enough for T. When he isn't finishing off a carton with a spoon, he's loading up a plate with cream and sugar. Twice. I honestly can't take him seriouslythough he isn't a very serious person to begin with. At such times, T loves Father (but not when Father is dumping two liters of soda poison down the sink; at those times, T runs through the hall proclaiming, "I have to save the sodas!"). A very happy trio:


{real}

Last night (Friday) my host family invited the boys over for dinner. I sometimes forget that Mexican food exists because I eat it so rarely. It isn't really worth it if it isn't going to be good, right? I ate everything on this plate, plus another two enchiladas, the beans C didn't want and some of the enchilada he also slid onto my plate because it had beans touching it. I guess I know what not to cook for him in the future....


I was super full from dinner, but that didn't stop C and I from going out. We hardly have time with just the two of us since we are constantly working in a group or, when not in a group, we have to sleep. He wanted to go for a movie, but I wasn't interested in anything showing, so we went to Starbucks where I redeemed my free drink (but gave it to him, since I didn't want something as big and heavy as a frappuccino after eating so much) and he bought me a tea. Free drinks are always nice. Spelling my name incorrectly, on the other hand, isn't my most favorite thing in the world. I have the simplest possible spelling! I don't get it. 


We now have a week off from Totus Tuus, which I am definitely going to enjoy. C and I plan to spend a couple days with the family we were with the first week, then we're going down to New Orleans for a few days, then heading up to our next week's assignment. We never stop.

22 June 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Onward...

Volume 3 up in here! Have a look at my week...

{pretty}

Before we (me, C and another team member N; our other team member T stayed in and got much needed sleep) left our first week's location, we went down to the boardwalk (which had no boards and was more like a promenade). All the lights along the river cast a beautiful rainbow along the water's surface.


I tried a new hairstyle later in the week. I french braided all my hair, then gathered the length of the braid into a bun. I twisted back a small piece of hair I had left out and pinned it with this pretty pin C got for me when he went to Vienna last March.

{happy}

As the weeks go on, I am thankful that I said yes to this opportunity. The days are long and draining mentally and physically, but it truly is worth it to be able to teach about the Catholic faith. I feel like I am learning right along with the kids. After all the hard work, fun time is definitely a necessity. Here I am with C by the river. With everything that changes each weekthe town, the parish, the people, the scheduleit is so nice to have him as a constant.



This week, two groups of four became one group of eight for a larger parish assignment. While this move was practically important because of the larger size of this parish, it was also important in keeping me sane. I stayed with two other girls (the aforementioned N and a new girl Y) at our new host family's home. One night we painted our nails the same color. If anyone noticed, they probably thought we were silly, but it was a nice, small bonding experience. This week without them, I feel much more alone. Still, I'm thankful we had our week together with much needed girl talk.



{funny}

Every Friday for Totus Tuus, there is a water balloon fight (assuming the kids get a score of 10 for Mass behavior and participation). This week, the kids were very near to missing out. We told them they'd received a 9.5 and, after silence fell over the room, C announced that, since they had sung very well, we'd actually decided to give them a 10. The cheers were quite loud enough for this quiet person, so I retreated to our supplies room where I had some work to do. Not long after, these three hooligans (T, H and C) came in, readying themselves with war paint and water guns. Really, these guys are no different from the young boys when it comes to the water fight...



{real}

On a trip to get Mr. C here a water gun. This picture is a fair snapshot of our typical expressions: me happy, he serious. I guess water guns are more serious than I thought...



One afternoon, the large group of us returned to the girls' host family's house. Within twenty minutes of eating dinner, three boys were passed out all around the living room. Totus Tuus is honestly one of the most tiring things I've ever done. While we do have breaks in the afternoon, those are usually filled with cleaning up after the day session, eating dinner and planning for the next day. We start at 7AM (or later, for when we've woken up late) and don't really settle down until 10PM. When we can get in the sneaky nap or two, we take advantage of it. B doesn't look very comfortable here, though, does he?


Now we've all moved on in two groups of four to our next towns. I am with C, H and T, which means I am the only girl. This also means I am housed by myself, separate from the boys and separate from the other girls who are now about two hours away from me. It is weird to be alone, but this family is nice and I know I won't be alone for long, because we have far too much work to do together.

I am going to Mass in a couple of hours (Extraordinary Form!!) and then a few hours after that, our first teenager session begins. I am sure that when this week ends, I will be looking forward to our week off very much. :)