Rambling Is Better Than Silence

April 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

The WBS Penguins won their first round series against Hershey on Saturday night.  The arena was raucous and it was awesome to beat Hershey.  I’m looking forward to the second round matchup against St. John’s.  I wish we could road trip to St. John’s but Mapquest says it’s a 36 hour trip.  Not only would that cost a lot in gas but my mother would insist on listening to the “Spa” station on my XM the whole trip.  I can only handle so much gentle percussion music at one time.  Songs like “Rustling Breeze in the Tops of Trees” and “Autumn’s Chilly Fingers” should be taken in moderation. 

I wish I had some breakfast.  I’m never hungry right away in the mornings, but then by 9 AM my stomach is growling and I’m ravenous.  This means either I bring something in from home to eat or I go spend money at Dunkin Donuts (haven’t been going to Starbucks lately since their corporation’s political agenda doesn’t jive with mine).  I don’t want to spend two dollars a day at Dunkin.   That little kid in “Better Off Dead” was right, two dollars is a BIG DEAL.  (Eventually.  When you add all those two dollars up.)  But when I wake up in the morning, nothing looks good to me to bring in.  Ugh.  I don’t even like to look at food until after 8 AM.  Bleh.  I don’t know what to do about this breakfast dilemma.  I mean, obviously the best thing to do is to go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of yogurts and granola bars and whatnot, and keep them at work.  But somehow I just never get around to doing it.  I don’t go to the grocery store a lot because I still live at home and Mom does that.  (Thanks, Mom!)  And when I do go, it’s because I’m baking a pie or something and I just get specific pie-related items and get out of there.  Obviously, I am lazy.  And I am 26.  Wow.  I’m really learning a lot about myself right now.  I’m glad I decided to start writing about my breakfast issues.  There’s just something about typing that makes the truth come out. 

This is all nonsense I am contemplating in order to ignore the incredibly large dark cloud of gloom that has been hanging over me since Saturday night. 

It is not working.

I am not even excited for softball right now.

UPDATE:  I am feeling better now.  I have worked out my argument with the person with whom I argued and suddenly I am aware that I am NOT a lazy person.  Also, the sun is shining!  Yay!  Softball!

Birthdays, Blog Updates, and Baking

April 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

Two birthdays occurred recently that I want to make note of.  First, Pope Benedict XVI turned 85 on Monday!  There were a bunch of awesome blogs and articles floating around the Catholic blogosphere about Papa B’s birthday, and this one by The Anchoress was my favorite: 

Even before he was Benedict, back when he was Joseph Ratzinger, I loved his humility; he has always struck me as the shy old uncle who — once drawn out — keeps you enthralled with the openness, depth and breadth of his intellect, which is never pedantic, and always accessible.

That has its drawbacks, of course, particularly in terms of perception. Benedict is an introvert, content with solitude; he allows himself to be subsumed by his servant’s office in a way that is so paradoxical that some do not understand it.”

I love Pope Benedict; he was, and still is, the face I see when I think of my re-commitment to the faith, the revitalization of my soul.  His words, whether teaching or praying, have always struck a chord in my heart.  The Anchoress is right when she says “never pedantic”.  I never understood why people said he was harsh or strict or anything like that.  I didn’t see it, I never have.  (To be perfectly honest, I’ve kinda always just wanted to give him a hug!)  I pray for him every day and hope that we are blessed with more years of his inspiring leadership.

– The second birthday was Genevieve’s, on Wednesday!  She is 11 now, which is crazy to me.  The night she was born, the WBS Penguins were in a playoff series with the Syracuse Crunch.  I went to the hockey game with Jaci and her mom.  Right before the game started, my Dad called and said he was taking Mom to the hospital because she was having contractions.  I asked him if I needed to come home and he said no, to stay and enjoy the game.  The game ended up going into playoff overtime, and didn’t end until pretty late at night.  Jaci’s mom drove us over to Nesbitt Hospital afterwards and we quietly found our way to Mom’s room.  She was in there with the cutest, plumpest little newborn girl.  Baby Gen had a red face and scrunched-up eyes, and she felt warm in my arms.  I hoped that the hockey jersey I was wearing wouldn’t be too scratchy for her soft baby skin.  After I gave the baby back to Mom, she told me that all the rest of my brothers and sisters would be coming tomorrow morning and I’d get to see her again then.  And that is how I got to hold my baby sister before any of my other siblings.  Ha! 

Blog Updates:  You may have noticed I made some small changes to the blog.  There are now 2 new menus on the sidebar.  Baking in a Tiny Kitchen is where I will link to all my posts that detail my dessert-baking processes.  Those posts are always some of my most popular ones and I hope having them in an easy format will bring in some more hits.  As a matter of fact, I have the pictures ready and waiting to create a new baking post, from when I made margarita pie the other night. 

I have also made a new menu for Genevieve’s Guest Posts.  These are very popular and now you can read what Gen has to say any time, very easily, with this new navigation!  If you haven’t read her posts, you should.  She’s grown up a lot since that night 11 years ago in Nesbitt Hospital.  Her face only gets red now when she’s angry and she’s lost her baby plumpness and become skinny like all the Babetskis.  

Playoff hockey starts tonight in Wilkes-Barre!! GO PENS!! 

Hockey: It’s a Family Thing

April 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

This post is a study in sorrow, an ill-fated, misbegotten letter of woe that even now causes me to cry at the sight of it.

Basically, what happened was I tried to write an essay for Discover Card’s Win A Day With The Stanley Cup sweepstakes, because I love writing and I love hockey.  I slaved over this 1000 word essay about my love for hockey and was (reasonably) proud and confident in my efforts.  Then I discovered I’d read the rules wrong and it had to be under 1000 CHARACTERS.  Including spaces and punctuation.

Absurdities.  So, because I have a blog, and because the internet is a large enough place for my sorrow, here in its entirety is my unusable essay on why I deserve a Day With The Stanley Cup, a.k.a. TWO HOURS with the Cup and you aren’t even allowed to TOUCH the dang thing.  (I read the rest of the rules very carefully.)

Hockey: It’s A Family Thing

“The hockey world is like a big family.”

An NHL radio announcer, whose name I have forgotten, made that statement over ten years ago, when I was first discovering a love for the sport of ice hockey.  I smiled at his words, because if there was anything I had experience with, it was big families.  I have seven siblings, and we all love the world of hockey.  Even our mother and father have grown to love the sport.  You’d think we would be united in our passionate support, but we aren’t. 

United?  Far from it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are the most loved team in my family.  We live in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and have been watching the AHL Penguins play since they arrived here in the 1999-2000 season.  It seemed natural to become Pittsburgh fans then, and continue cheering for the players as they made their way up in the system.  I am a Penguins fan, as are my brothers Greg (age 19), Pete (13), and my sisters Angela (22), Cathy (16), and Genevieve (10).  My oldest brother Dan is 27, and an Ottawa Senators fan.  (When I began to write this, I actually couldn’t remember what in the world caused a guy from Northeastern PA to become a Sens fan.  I texted Dan and he told me, simply and succinctly, that he wanted to cheer for a team that no one else in this area liked.)  My other sister, Juliana, is 24 and lives out in Michigan with her husband and baby boy.  My brother-in-law is, unfortunately, a Red Wings fan, having lived near Hockeytown his entire life.  When I realized that my sweet little nephew Leo was going to be raised as a Wings fan, I almost wept.  Then I started planning.  Just wait until he hits those rebellious teenage years.  I can’t think of a better way to rebel than to switch from being a Detroit fan to a Pittsburgh fan, and I’ll be sure to encourage him every step of the way.  With the way our family goes, though, he’ll probably rebel his way right into being a fan of the LA Kings or somewhere completely random like that.

Rounding out the odd conglomeration of teams we support are my father and mother, who proudly (and lately, not so proudly) represent the Toronto Maple Leafs.  This strange love came about when my dad discovered years ago that he could get the Leafs AM radio station on his shortwave radio.  They began listening to the Leafs games and Leaf Talk afterwards and have been avid followers ever since.  Such is their great devotion to the team that, in 2004, my father actually went to a Leafs/Flyers playoff game.  In Philadelphia.  He came home unharmed, except for the laryngitis.  He wouldn’t tell my mother what he’d been yelling at the Flyers fans.

Despite this peculiar assortment of NHL teams, we are all united in our simple love for the game.  We are a family that loves winter, and hockey is winter’s sport.  From the freshly groomed ice and flashing skate blades of warm-ups to the sound of the final horn and leaving the arena only to find an inch of snow on our cars, the game is like no other.   There is nothing like the scrape of skates on ice.  Pucks thudding against the dasher.  Boards rattling.  Hockey has it all.  The strength, in the leveling hits and the fights, combined with the grace of the skaters who can stop, reverse, turn, spin, glide on their blades, knifing across the ice.  The puck caroming off the boards, skidding into the net or into the goalies, who’re sprawled on their backs, stomach, knees, throwing each and every limb out any which way just to make the save.  The smack of a slapshot, or the littlest flick of the wrister; a backdoor pass through the crease.  The clank of the puck off the crossbar.  The drop pass in the slot.  Splitting the defenders.  No look passing. (I do not suggest that.)  Overtime goals.  Double overtime in and of itself.   “The name on the front of the jersey”.  Tic-tac-toe plays.  The after-goal hug.  The smell of ice.  At 26, I’ve been a hockey fan for years and years now and there is still nothing like watching that player on your team slam the puck straight into the back of the net.  The red light flares.  Goal horn blares.  Fist pump.  Grin.

When I look back over the years at all the hockey my family has enjoyed together, I always remember the words of that announcer.  Hockey is a family sport and mine just happens to have some differences in opinion on who is the best.  Despite all the passionate debates and hard-fought fantasy seasons, all the taunting and insults and, in my mother’s case, comforting the younger kids when their team lost, we can always agree on two simple things:  Hockey is the greatest sport on earth.  And we all hate the Flyers.

The Basis, The Gateway, The Door

April 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

26 years ago today, I was baptized into the Catholic Church.  I’d love to tell you all about it, the flowing white christening gown I wore, the flame of the baptismal candle burning bright and steady, the coldness of water on my forehead… But I can’t.  I just don’t remember much from when I was 1 and a half months old.  I’m sure my dress was pretty and that the candle did burn brightly, though!  Oh man, I bet that’s where my appreciation for gently glowing candlelight in church started!  And that’s probably where I got my love for fancy, lacy, white dresses too!   (Oh my gosh you guys the liberal media is right I WAS indoctrinated GASP!!!)  Since there is a video of my baptism, and plenty of people around who were there, I do know a few things about it and there are two rather cool coincidences occurring today that I want to share with you.  

First:

The Catechism of the Church says that “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.” (CCC 1213)  Even though I was reading that at 7 AM before I even had coffee or anything, the statement really jumped out at me for this reason: Tonight, I will be attending the first evening of a Life in the Spirit Seminar.  See that?  See what happened there?  26 years to the day when I received the sacrament which allowed me to even attempt to have a life in the Spirit, I am going to a meeting where the whole point is to strengthen my life in the Spirit!  

Ohh yeah.  That’s right.  Pretty darn cool.

That’s also a lot of repetition of the phrase “life in the Spirit”.  What does it even mean?  I am no theological expert here, guys, just an FYI.  (I wish I were, I really do, because I cannot count the number of times people have questioned me about my faith like I’m supposed to just spout off 2000 [that is a large amount] years worth of teaching and tradition like it’s ABC123.)  But my (very) short take on the life in the Spirit is simply living out my vocation to God and to humanity.  The Holy Spirit is our guide, our courage, the One who reveals God to us.  So the goal of my ‘life in the Spirit’ is to unite myself with Christ through the Spirit and thus to live in Him.  The logical next step that occurs to me is: how?  I think this next step is often forgotten by those to whom we look for instruction.  It is all well and good to tell me what I need to do and learn, but I’d like to know HOW.  Again, I am no theologian, but my answer is simple.  How do I unite myself with Christ through the Holy Spirit?  Prayer.  The sacraments.  Scripture reading.  Fasting or other sacrifices.    

Prayer, because you cannot have a relationship without communication.  The sacraments, because we receive Christ Himself at Mass, and about a million graces through Confession.  Reading the Bible, because if you want to get to know someone, read what they have said.  (I think anyone who reads my blog knows me really well, even if they’ve never met me.)  Sacrifices like fasting, because if offering yourself up is the essence of love, then what better little ways to improve your ability to love?  A final thing to note about the ‘life in the Spirit’ is something my dad told me when I emailed him about this post.  He said that part of it is “understanding which gifts of the Spirit you have received or will receive, and how you have a responsibility to use these gifts for the upbuilding of the Church.”  Thanks, Dad!

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways and reasons and thoughts, but this explanation of my life in the Spirit is already getting longer than I wanted it to be.  I recommend just coming to the seminar with me if you want to learn more!  (Or read the Catechism.  Your pick!) Info on the seminar can be found right here.  And do go check that site out, it’s a blog written by some cool dudes… spike their stats!!

Second cool coincidence:  Father Leo is the priest who baptized me 26 years ago today.  And guess which priest who is having Mass for us tonight, and whose parish is hosting this seminar?  Father Leo!!  I can’t wait to tell him about it.  Although it might make him feel old.  Sorry, Father.

One final note, although it is not a coincidence, just a memory.  We always celebrated our baptismal days in my house.  Growing up, we didn’t have big birthday parties or get presents on our birthdays.  It was our baptism days when the fun stuff happened.  I remember we had a special plate that had a big smiley face on it, and pink trim. It was only ever used for dinner on your baptism day.  It was always the BEST.MOMENT.EVER when Mom set that plate down on the table in front of you.  You were special.  You were the baptism day girl.  And we’d pull out our baptismal candles and light them.  And later there would be a cake from the bakery in Nanticoke, one that you personally went and picked out with Mom.  I always got chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing.  Or sometimes the chocolate torte cake, because it was bigger.  Gosh I loved those celebrations. 

“Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift….We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.”  – St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Don’t Give Up On Me

April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

The title of this post is quite appropriate.  I am not only listening to a song right now with that lyric in it, but I am also asking it of my readers.  I didn’t mean to stop blogging for a week.  I just got really busy with Holy Week and Easter celebrations and other things.  Plus lately, things have been happening in my life that I don’t want to blog about.  Not bad things!  Just private things I don’t want to describe for the entire universe.  Take, for example, my Holy Week experiences.  I can’t write about them.  It would be way too hard.  But I had a wonderful Easter Triduum and completely loved my first experience with Tenebrae.  I think I can write about that. 

Tenebrae is Latin for darkness, or shadows.  Here is a good explanation of it and here are my brief recollections.  Paul and I drove up to Father Langan’s parish in Honesdale on Good Friday evening to attend.  The church is made out of stone and sits on the side of a steep hill.  We chanted the Divine Office, but only the Psalms, lessons, and mourning chants: the lamentations of Jeremiah.  Cries for help against enemies.  Questions of doubt and sorrow and abandonment.  The church was dimly lit, with a tall triangle of candles flickering on the altar.  Two altar boys took turns extinguishing a single candle after each chant.  The sweet smell of myrrh filled the air when Father anointed our foreheads with it.  The simplicity of the chant, a stark melody, struck me as fitting for Good Friday.  The wood of the cross was cold under my hand as I knelt in front to venerate it. 

I didn’t want to leave at the end.  It was beautiful.  Moving. Solemn.  Sorrowful.  All those words that describe but don’t, really.

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is one of the best parts of Holy Week, and my absolute favorite liturgical hymn:

English Translation of Pange Lingua:

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
Amen. Alleluia.

A Rat’s Home Is His Castle

April 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

Let me give you a little background on the reason I am writing this post, because there is a specific reason.  Back in the summer of 2010, Danny decided to get rats, in what I am positive was a move made simply to irritate me.  It wasn’t like he knew anyone else with pet rats and was familiar with them.  Also, he already had a dog, Abby, so he wasn’t suffering from a lack of furry beasts in his life.  But decide to get rats is what he did, and when he saw that I found the idea of rats repellent, he kept on it.  “Rats!” He’d text me.  “Let’s get a rat!”  I’d get an email randomly: “I want a pet rat to sit on my shoulder!”   “Gross,” I would reply.  “You are disgusting.  Stop it.  I’m not holding a rat.  Ever.”

Famous last words.  One fateful day, we went to PetSmart to get Abby’s food and Danny dragged me over to the small animal cages and showed me the two rats.  They were sneakingly cute, I had to admit.  They sat up and stared at us through the glass, whiskers twitching.  I liked their tiny pink paws.  I did not like their tails.  But still, I guessed they weren’t as bad as I’d thought.  That day started me thinking about rats as pets, and so of course, I turned to Google.  I started reading online about pet rats, their good qualities and bad, their diet, maintenance, health, everything.  I saw the crazy cages that some rat owners built and I found pictures of the cutest, fuzziest, most adorable baby rats.  Every site I went to said one thing in common: Once you have pet rats, you fall in love.

In the middle of November 2010, I made up my mind.  I was going to buy Danny rats for Christmas.  Of course, there was the small problem of trying to keep him from buying them himself before Christmas.  I kept pretending like I didn’t really think it was a good idea, and threw out tons of lame excuses and reasons not to get them.  The whole time, I was shopping online for a cage and buying food and toys and bedding.  Suffice it to say that I did manage to keep him from purchasing rats (he loves to pretend he is the boss in our relationship but he totally isn’t).  And on the day after Christmas, we went to PetSmart and purchased our first rat: Robert.

Well, this turned into a longer explanation than I thought, but in case you haven’t noticed, I like to write.  My reason for this post is to put up pictures of our rat cage and explain how we set it up.  When I was looking into rats, I searched for stuff on cages ALL the time.  The rats spend most of their time in the cage and I wanted it to be the best for them.  Hopefully some new rat owner will research cages and land on my page and be helped by all the info and pictures.  With all that being said, here is our rat cage, right after I cleaned it:

I purchased this cage on Amazon and would recommend it highly.  It was easy to assemble, the bottom is deep and comes off for very easy cleaning, and it’s tall enough that the rats can climb all over it.  Rats love to climb and so getting a high cage was very important to me.  I also liked how the shelves were solid plastic, not wires, so that the rats’ feet wouldn’t get caught at all.  The cage came with the three blue shelves and two white ramps (you can see one behind the hammock, I only have the one in there right now).  The shelves clasp and unclasp easily, but are also strong enough that they don’t slide around when the rats are jumping.  Another good thing about this cage is that it has two doors, upper and lower.  I like having the additional access to all areas of the cage without having to contort my arm.

 

This is the bottom right of the cage.  Just a little plastic sleep hut for them to curl up in.

This is the bottom left of the cage.  I have two water bottles because we have 4 rats and they like to cluster at the bottles and try to drink at the same time.  Also, there is a small cardboard box for them to sleep in and a Lava Ledge to climb up to.  Freddy loves to perch on the ledge when I’m giving them treats through the bars.  You can also see the wooden ladder we put in there for them.

This is the top left of the rat cage.  You can see the ladder comes up right underneath the hole where you can put a food bowl.  I don’t use it, so it makes a convenient place for the rats to climb through.  The ladder was actually marketed as a pet bird toy, but our rats love it.  Oh, and that is a wine cork wedged in there, yes.  Freddy loves to gnaw on it.

This is the middle of the upper level, with the hammock and the white ramp that leads into the towel tunnel that Danny made.    

Here is a better picture of the towel tunnel.  This was all Danny’s idea and the rats love it!  He used clothespins to pin the towel into place on the wires, going around the corner of the cage.  The white ramp leads from the shelf down into the towel.  Our rat Robert loves to eat in there, where no one can see him! 

This is looking down into the towel.  You can see where one of the rats chewed the towel a little and it has holes in it now!

This is a view of the right-hand side of the upper level.  I use little tissue boxes for the rats because they LOVE to curl up inside them.  Also, the cardboard absorbs ‘liquids’, and once they get too yucky, you just toss them in the trash.  (The boxes, not the rats.)

So there you have it.  Our rat palace.  I hope this helps any new (or expert) rat owners out there!

I showed you pictures of Freddy and Robert above… I can’t leave out our other two rats!  Here is Mervy:

And Willie.  Poor Willie.  He is an albino rat with red eyes, so he always looks slightly evil in pictures.  :/  He is still handsome to me though!

 

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