Sunday, February 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes--#4 (aka Better Late than Never)

--- 1 ---

I have to say that I am OH-SO happy that I know HTML. I just saw an error in the second entry on this page, that was probably created long ago (I copied and pasted the code for Quick Takes from Jen's blog) and it was bugging me, so I looked at the "edit HTML" version here and figured out what was wrong and voila! Fixed!

--- 2 ---

I do not like it when people use voila incorrectly. It's VOILA. Not wah-la, viola (that's an instrument), etc.

--- 3 ---

Yes, I can be a snob about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax. I firmly believe that Oxford commas are still needed.

--- 4 ---

I wonder how many people actually know what an Oxford comma is, and why it is needed. Here's a funny picture to explain:

There's a hilarious one out there involving now-dead world leaders and some "adult entertainers," but that's not exactly family friendly and might be NSFW. If you want to see it, click here:

--- 5 ---

Back to more serious topics, I haven't really been keeping up with my blogging. Ugh, you know, things like WORK and life get in the way. I really want to write about some meaty issues, a few being: why I don't fit in with the majority of the Catholic blogosphere, being a future working mom, how I feel like our wedding prep was a joke, why I'm not a good Catholic, among my usual rambles.

--- 6 ---

So here's a question for you...whoever you are out there? What topics would you like to see me write about more? It could be something you saw in a past post and thought I'd write more about, it could be something you want me to write about because you want to see my pull my hair out in frustration, whatever.

--- 7 ---

Lastly, since I've been making more "blogging and Twitter friends," is there anything you all would like to know about me? Feel free to ask anything you want--be anonymous if that makes you feel better (for the regulars). I will try to answer all of them, even if they make me slightly uncomfortable.

One more thing, before I go, I am on Twitter: @jentoinfinity. And if you want to email me anything: rabbitturtle29 at g m a i l DOT c o m

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lent is here

Today is the beginning of Lent, for us Byz Caths, as I wrote last week

I also happen to be off work today, since it's Presidents' Day, and I'd rather do some things around the house versus sit in front of a computer like I usually do Monday through Friday. I'm happy I already wrote my Lent post. Yay planning ahead!

If you'd like to see what some other bloggers are doing for Lent, check out The Alluring World's link up!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

7 Quick Takes--#3

--- 1 ---

This week is going to be dedicated to my work, as a meme. I'm sure you've seen the memes going around about various jobs. In fact, yesterday I posted one about being Greek Catholic. I work in publishing, in the marketing department, actually, doing marketing (obviously) but a lot of social media too. Not many people really get what I do. And since I'm not very graphically inclined, I can't make a real contribution to the meme following. (and by the way, the Christmas tree is down and back in the basement for another year)

--- 2 ---
What my friends think I do:

--- 3 ---

What my husband thinks I do:

--- 4 ---

What society thinks I do:

--- 5 ---

What authors think I do:

--- 6 ---

What I think I do:

--- 7 ---
What I really do:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Funny

AHA! This is better!!!! And now, I know how to resize photos.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lent is coming: East vs. West

Next Monday, actually.

Reminder, we're Byzantine Catholic; our Lent doesn't start on Ash Wednesday. Nor do we "celebrate" Ash Wednesday.

I was looking for a short blurb on the fasting rules that we observe, and I found this article from Catholic Online. It's called "For Byzantine Catholics, Lent is stricter."

Is it, really? Or is it just different? Someone like myself might find it harder, as I didn't grow up observing Lent in this way. But would cradle Byz Caths find it harder? No, not if they've never known anything different.

Why would it be seen as harder?

"Oh no, you guys start on MONDAY!!! That's two more days!!!!" 
Um, so? I think it makes a little more sense to start something big on a Monday, at the beginning of the week, but my very organized mind might be to blame.

"You can't eat any animal products except on the first day OR on Good Friday!"
Ehh, you deal. Besides, when the fasting rules were made, no one gave much thought to all of the junk food that would be invented. Hello chips and salsa. Hummus and crackers. You get my point. Besides, shrimp scampi made with only olive oil instead of oil and butter is still delicious.

"You don't eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays!!!"
Well, if you're Roman Catholic you aren't supposed to be eating meat on Fridays during Lent either. So what, we have one more day? The majority of people in the world don't eat meat every day. There's a trend going around called Meatless Monday. Is it more because it's forbidden on a certain day and you have to plan around it? Yeah, I can see how that would be a pain. It's annoying when you make something with meat in it on Saturday and you have to make sure the leftovers are either all gone by Sunday night or are the type that can last until Tuesday, because you don't want to waste food.

Side note: when Chris was younger, he and his brother would stay up really late on Fridays. Around 11:45 they would drive to a local Subway and order meaty sandwiches and drive home, just around the time the clock struck 12. It was officially Saturday at that point.

The other big difference is that there is no celebration of the Eucharist during the week. It is only on Sunday. For most people, this wouldn't matter since they only go to church on Sunday.

"What are YOU giving up???"
There isn't so much focus on what you're giving up and honestly, it shouldn't be a focus really no matter what denomination you are; it's more about what sacrifices you'll make for yourself and for others to be a better Christian. As St. Basil the Great said of Lent, "Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, suppressing evil desires and avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things – herein lies the true value of the fast."  I think we could ALL work on those wicked things, year round. ;-)

This Lent, I am going to focus on getting myself even healthier than I have been. This will involve the usual: eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, but it will also involve me looking into alternatives for my medical issues. There's no guarantee that I'll be able to find something, but it's worth investigating. There is a spirit of...conversion (if you will) that's been coming on me over the past few months and very recently, I've been getting even stronger messages in the right direction.

How will you participate in Lent?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shopping Saturday

Went shopping last night, not this morning and spent...

Are you ready?

It might be scary...

$169.94 on food.


I did not go for two weeks, so maybe it's not so bad. I didn't buy any cold cuts (I know they're a rip off, but Chris likes sandwiches). The most expensive thing was a 5 pound bag of frozen meatballs for $8. Those will last us awhile, and with Lent coming, we have to plot out our meat meals even more, since we go meatless on Wednesdays and Fridays. I did buy chicken, since it was a good deal and shoved it in our big freezer.

I'm making an Asian coconut cabbage soup later on; recipe is from Rae at There is No Wealth But Life. I had so much cabbage leftover from making minestrone soup two weeks ago, this is the perfect way to use it up. Here's the recipe: 

It's meatless. Chris is getting a little curious about why I'm making meatless food. HELLO, it's cheaper. Usually.  I'm playing dumb and telling him "getting ready for Lent."

I'll report back on how it is. It looks delicious.

7 Quick Takes--NUMBER TWO!!

--- 1 ---

Hopefully my title this week doesn't gross anyone out because I didn't mean it in that way. I'm just psyched I got my butt back here to do it again. Sadly, I didn't get to read too many other Quick Takes last week. Does that make me a bad Quick Taker? :-P

--- 2 ---

GUESS WHAT??? The Christmas tree is STILL up. But no longer fully decorated. Last weekend, while C was at work, I stripped it of the ornaments, then spent a few hours putting them back in their little boxes, then packing those into a big plastic tub. The other decorations have also been packed back into their tubs and boxes. However, the big boxes are still in the TV room in a big pile. This is fun for the cats, but makes me feel like such a slacker. This afternoon, I ventured outside where I was amazed to see that it wasn't frigid; thus I took down the outside lights. That is a mess, and now I need to figure out how to make them tidy for storage so that next year we can just unravel, hang, and go! While I'm infamous for procrastination, THIS IS RIDICULOUS. But I'm not beating myself up. Just not allowing anyone into the house ;-)

--- 3 ---

Also related to procrastination, I've been spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME at work reading other blogs. All of a sudden I have discovered some other really great blogs, many written by younger Catholic women like myself, who might not be totally 100% perfect either! I hope I don't get into trouble; can I claim religious discrimination on that one? Tee hee. Oh and Twitter has been CRAZY with all sorts of stupid Santorum nonsense (GAH, I cannot STAND him, even though I used him as an example in an earlier post), and the whole HHS/birth control thing. I am really thankful for "meeting" a few bloggers in particular, when I did. I've had some thoughts about something rather personal/health-related, but I was afraid to speak out. These women have been a major help and great support in just a few days. And no one judged! (I don't want to get too mystical, but awhile ago, I asked for help and for an answer. I think someone bigger is working here, and I'm at the very first steps of what could be a long journey.)

--- 4 ---

Mr. Christopher has been sick for weeks now. Not consistently, which is good, but jeez, it's hard. I hate that I can't do anything to help him feel better, and it makes me sad/depressed a bit to see him not himself. This is partly to blame for my procrastination in the home. First it was a really bad stomach bug, now his anxiety/PTSD is flaring up. We were supposed to go out to the movies, then church, then dinner this afternoon, but he wasn't up for the movie. Hopefully we'll get to Mass (yup RC again) because we haven't been in a few weeks due to the illnesses, plus a snow storm thrown in. BUT the good news is that the doctor gave him something for his stomach when it really starts bothering him (he always has issues with it, as a result from his accident). It's something that IBS sufferers take, to stop the extreme spasms and cramping. We're not sure if he has IBS too, but he DOES get horrible spasms and cramping in his abdomen, especially after eating large meals. And, guess what flares up when he's anxious??? Bingo. I am PRAYING that this is something that can help him, because his quality of life is affected so much. I was starting to wonder if this would preclude us from having kids--I can't do it alone. (not that it all weighs on him, I have my stuff too)

--- 5 ---

I'm getting the itch to start looking for another job again. I think I have more confidence now, than ever. BUT. I just got promoted in January. I don't know if I should be up front with my title change on my resume or not mention it, since it might look funny: "why are you looking for a job if you just got promoted?" I can't be honest and say "because I'm unhappy, I need a more family-friendly environment, oh yeah, and my boss is a passive-aggressive insecure moron." My duties haven't changed much, it's more of a retroactive title change. Hmm.

--- 6 ---

People have been RSVPing for my dad's party, which is good. They all want to know what they can get him. 1) You've been friends with him for how long? Can't you think of something? 2) When we say "no gifts, please" why can't you accept that?!?! Seriously, my dad is the most simple guy EVER. All he wants is zero aggravation from his brother (they run a business together), time with my mom, and time to do woodworking (note to self: have him build your end tables and a kitchen bookcase) and to work on his tractors. Since most people can't afford to buy out my uncle, haha, and no one can make more time, then just come to the party ready to have FUN!

--- 7 ---

Speaking of fun, I have this sudden desire to go away somewhere. Usually I'm a homebody, but Chris was watching a fishing show this morning and they were in Isla Morada. He's mentioned wanting to go there, to fish, and I was always like "yeah yeah, OK, sure," because I don't fish that much. It's OK, but I'm more of a  one-day girl and he could go forever. Buuut, there was this really nice resort place down there....and I think I could occupy myself with a lazy river and a private beach. "Have fun, honey! Wear sunscreen and see you for dinner!" while I just sit and read :-D We had thrown around a 5th anniversary vacation, especially because we figured we'd be closer to TTC around that maybe that will all be coming to reality. Wow, five years in September. Time has flown!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We weren't always Byzantine Catholic, part 4

Missed the earlier pieces of this story? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

While we were planning our wedding, C had said that he'd deal with changing his rite later. It was very important to him to make that part of what he thought was his identity, officially his. He understood where Fr. G was coming from, asking him to wait until after we were married.

In the meantime, however, Fr. G left the priesthood and soon after, married one of his parishioners. The parish was without a pastor, and was subject to pinch-hitters from other states and even other rites. I have to say, the Ukrainian guy we had was pretty good! Eventually one priest (Fr. H) was selected to be the temporary full-time priest, just to keep the parish (as a business) running. After a few weeks of him working at St. J's, C decided to discuss the matter with him. It did NOT go well.

Fr. H didn't understand what C was trying to say. He didn't want to listen to C and dismissed him pretty quickly. This happened even after C brought up Canon Law. We found out much later that he thought C was some new guy who was entranced with the "smells and bells" of the rite and wanted to just switch rites like changing shoes. He didn't realize that C had been attending St. J's his entire life, that his family had been there for 3 generations, and that there was an error made long ago that needed correcting. His bad.

At this time, C was in the midst of his first lay off and had a lot of time on his hands. He did some research and ended up calling the office of the bishop of our Eparchy (diocese). Now, if he'd called the Roman archbishop, he'd NEVER have gotten through. It's probably similar to trying to call the Pope. But he did, because Byzantine Eparchies are small. He explained his situation to the woman who answered the phone, and she said someone would call him back.

He later heard from Bishop H (not the MAIN bishop, Bishop S) who is an expert in Canon Law. In fact, he might be a lawyer, I can't remember. C was shocked to hear from A bishop. Anyway, he understood C's situation, since he had heard stories like this before, and told C what to do. C needed to write a letter to Bishop S, petitioning to change his rite. Bishop H also said that he would have a little chat with Fr. H, since he needed to assist C in this endeavor as his parish priest and write his own letter.

After liturgy the next weekend, Fr. H caught us and wanted to speak with C. He said he had heard from Bishop H, who apparently gave him a talking to about the law, and wanted to apologize for his dismissal of C's needs. He said that he would write a letter to Bishop S on C's behalf, to support his petition. We ended up having to meet with Fr. H, I think just as a formality and also so he could fully understand the situation for the purpose of writing his letter. When C had written his letter, they would put them together and mail them off to Bishop S in New Jersey.

This is the body of the letter that C wrote:
Your Excellency:

I am petitioning to transfer canonical enrollment from the Latin Church sui iuris to the Byzantine Metropolitan Church sui iuris of Pittsburgh, USA (Constantinopolitan Ruthenian Rite) and become a subject of the Eparchy of Passaic.

Although baptized and chrismated according to the rites and ceremonies of the Constantinopolitan Ruthenian Rite, my father was then and remains today a canonical member of the Latin Church sui iuris (although he does not attend a Roman Catholic church, in fact, he attends a Byzantine Catholic church). My mother has since passed on, but remained a devout Byzantine Catholic until her death. Regardless of the place of baptism, I was canonically enrolled in the Rite of my father according to the law in force at the time. My correct canonical enrollment was brought to my attention prior to the celebration of my wedding.

It came as a shock to me, my father, and even my grandmother, that around the time of my wedding, I was found to be officially Roman Catholic according to canon law. My grandmother still can’t understand it, and I’ve given up trying to explain.  

The only contact I  had with the Roman Catholic church was in school, from grades 1-4. My mother then transferred me to the public school system and enrolled me in catechism at St. J Byzantine Catholic Church (where I was baptized and chrismated, and where my mother attended for many years since emigrating from Czechoslovakia). I have been a ‘regular’ in the pews of that church for approximately thirty years. I was told by my priest to go ahead with a Roman Catholic wedding (my wife is Roman Catholic) and to later petition for a change of Rite. In my case, this petition is about preserving my current spiritual and liturgical life by lawfully letting me become a part of the Byzantine Catholic Church that has become a part of me, and I, a part of it. 

Furthermore, I have the support of my wife. After I was discovered to be Roman Catholic, we discussed this possibility and agreed that my change in Rite would be in both our best interests. In the case of children coming along, we would also like to avoid any confusion as to what Rite they would be since I attend a Byzantine Catholic church and do not see this changing. My wife also agrees that if we should be blessed with children, they should be exposed to the Eastern Church, and this transfer would foster that exposure. 
I respectfully present this petition for your consideration and the opinion of the Latin Rite bishop of the place of my residence. My church information is St. J Byzantine Catholic Church, 100 Church Street, Town, ST 00000, (999) 555-0000. The current pastor’s name is H U. A letter from Father U accompanies my petition, attesting to my sincerity and the merit of my request.

We submitted the information in October 2008, then waited. The church is no different from any other agency, it was just like getting a passport. We had to wait for C's information to be validated, for the Bishops in each rite to discuss his "case." Also around this time, Fr. F, a priest fresh out of seminary, had been assigned to C's parish to be the permanent pastor. Fr. H was going to return to his home parish. The official word had not yet come, and C was a little nervous that something would happen because of the shift in leadership. Poor Fr. F! It was his first Liturgy at St. J, and afterward, there was C, pulling both men aside so that they could discuss his situation. I thought maybe he should have let the guy catch his breath, and not be one of "those people," but it was a good thing that he spoke up. A few weeks later, the transferal was granted to C, and needed to be signed by C, two witnesses, and the parish priest. The Eparchy had typed in Fr. H's name below where he would sign; with Fr. F knowing this, he just signed his own name and wrote it next to Fr. H's. I was one witness and C's dad was the other. The document was copied, one for us and one for the parish records, and the original was mailed back to New Jersey. That was it. No big ceremony, no "smells and bells" as Fr. H called them.

As Fr. G had said, it was really all about numbers and who was where. While technically I am still Roman rite, the tradition is that women go with their husbands to their rites, but upon C's death, I am free to go "back to Rome" which is quite silly, in my opinion. Someone telling me where I can and cannot worship! It has to do with protection of the minority rite from the "big bad" Romans (sarcasm). On the other hand, I see why they tend to be defensive: so many people move away from the Eastern rites (geographically) and have to go Roman. Or they marry someone in Roman rite and attend those services. It's not easy to be a Byzantine Catholic, I've learned in my eight years of knowing C. Stay tuned, I plan on writing more about that in the future.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sorry folks...

...for my absence. It's been a rough time in our house, lately. Chris has been really sick, on and off, the past few weeks, which means I've been working late to cover the time off I've had to take. Then when I'm actually home in the evenings, it's been spent cooking bland foods, taking care of him, trying to take care of myself, cleaning ALL THE THINGS!, etc.

Lately, certain things in the media have caught my attention, as have topics that I've encountered in my life but have been hesitant to speak out on them. I have had a lot of time to think (and to read other blogs/news articles at work during the day) and I have a LOT of thoughts for future posts swirling around. That's great, except...I need to plan out how to cover them all! I want to write succinctly, and fairly (because some could be "controversial"), so I need time to process.

I hope to work on them in the next month or so--I might have to write them ALL out and then schedule them. I did that with the rest of our "we weren't always Byzantine Catholic" story--parts 3 & 4 were written back to back, but then scheduled for the appropriate Thursdays.

In some good news, I went back to WW last weekend for a weigh in (my first since just after Christmas) and I was down a little over 5 lbs according to their records, 2 of them being just in the last week. Although, this week's eating hasn't been I won't be too surprised to see a gain on Saturday. Oh, and we haven't gone grocery shopping in almost 2 weeks, so who knows what the food money totals for February will be like. January's was way too high, but a lot of stuff is frozen for later in the year. Our Lent starts on February 20, and for us that means two meatless days a week. I am hoping to try out a lot of new truly vegetarian recipes, instead of just defaulting to shrimp and fish, both of which can be pricey. (And that doesn't mean pizza all week!)

Looking forward to writing more very soon--stay tuned! :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes--the first official one

--- 1 ---

Yeah, this is the first time I'm actually linking in. It's easier for me to do this since it's just WORDS and I am pretty good at that. While I love Like Mother Like Daughter's Pretty Happy Funny Real, I'm not around a camera a lot and honestly it's more work for me. So this is partly lazy, partly doing what you're good at.

--- 2 ---

We still have our Christmas tree up. Fully decorated. It's been a crazy January, between Chris' work schedule, him getting sick, me being busy with work...yeah. We hope to start taking it down tomorrow. All of the other decorations have been down for awhile now, but are tossed all over the dining room table.

--- 3 ---

I can't understand why it's easier for me to get up later and work later than it is to get up earlier and leave work earlier. You'd think I'd like having more time to myself at home. Maybe someday I'll figure this out.

--- 4 ---

I'm always full of randomness, yet today I'm having trouble coming up with seven things to say. This does not bode well for future participation here.

--- 5 ---

I'm trying to be more like Mother Teresa, but it's hard when people are rude and don't say thank you or inquire as to your well-being. Trying to be "good" but I don't want to be a doormat, either.

--- 6 ---

I need to get cracking on invites for my dad's 60th birthday party. It's a surprise party and I think my mom is nervous since I haven't printed them or mailed them. This weekend. I promise. I can't believe my dad is going to be 60. I'll be 32. When I'm 60, my kids will be in their 20s. THIS IS SCARY but also THIS IS REALITY. I can't change the past. I can't make myself have a 6 year old now. Although, that would be quite helpful, skipping teething, potty training, and the like, but I'd miss out on first smiles, first steps, and all that other fun stuff.

--- 7 ---

My father in law will be 70 in a few weeks, and I think that's a bit scarier. It's making Chris feel VERY old.  It is what it is. Luckily, his dad is in good shape and doesn't act his age. He's super busy and active for a retired guy. And on Chris' mom's side, his grandmother is in her early 80s and still lives on her own, drives, mows her lawn, shovels her snow. I think he had good genes, in any case.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We weren't always Byzantine Catholic, part 3

Back on track with part 3 of the story. If you missed the earlier parts, here you go: Part 1. Part 2.

We left Fr G's office at the rectory on a mission to find the answers about C's rite. We started with his dad. We were not sure how much he'd know or remember, since moms are usually the keepers of that sort of information. Since C's mom passed away right before we met, we had to go on what my father in law knew. And it wasn't much.

All he knew was that he never did anything to change his rite, and that there was nothing mentioned when C was a baby and my in laws took him to be baptized. That was the other thing. Fr. G wasn't sure if Chris was just baptized or if he had received other sacraments at the same time; he wasn't the parish priest when C was a baby, and the church records were not clear. C remembers receiving first communion when he was in second grade, while attending a Catholic school (Roman) but he wasn't sure if he was just doing it to follow the class or if he really never got it the first time around.

[In the Byzantine Rite, babies receive all three sacraments of initiation at once: baptism, first communion, and confirmation. However, in 1976, when C was born, some priests were not giving infants first communion, and were having ceremonies for it later, around seven, as is typical in the Roman Rite. This practice lasted for a long time, but since has reverted back to all three at once.]

The church records appeared as if C was baptized and chrismated (confirmed), but nothing about first communion. We needed proof of all three to show my parish priest, so we could have a wedding Mass. C called the parish that was connected to the school he attended and inquired about his records. They did have record of him making his first communion; he was able to get a copy to show the priest who would be marrying us.

In the meantime, his grandmother found out about this...discovery, and was extremely upset. Her English is fairly limited when it comes to speaking, but she understands a lot, even though she was not well-educated. While she came to this country when she was 20, her schooling stopped in elementary school. She learned English as she went, from people at her work and in the community; she never took formal classes. To this day, she needs a cheat sheet with numbers spelled out to help her pay her bills. She's a very smart lady, though, and very tough.

"What you mean, you not Greek Catholic????" she yelled over the phone, in her thick accent, loud enough that I could hear through the receiver. "I was there!!!!!! I see you baptized!!!! You mother Greek Catholic!!!! She good woman!!!" (If you read that and thought Borat, it's OK, because when I try to talk like her, I sound like him too. Great success. Not.)

[Greek Catholic is another way to say Byzantine Catholic, but since people get confused and think Greek Orthodox, it's not used as much anymore. It's more...old school.]

C shook his head. "GRANDMA," he shouted. "Please, just stop. I'll explain."

He explained. And explained some more, but she didn't get it. I don't think she still does, but I've since convinced C to stop arguing with her and just let it go. She's a stubborn old bird; I see where C gets it from. :-)

So, now we had tentative proof that C wasn't really Byzantine Catholic. We would get married at my parish and deal with it later, just to make things less confusing. We were married in September of 2007 in a Roman Rite ceremony that was not that great. Someday I'll write more about how I felt really underwhelmed by my marriage ceremony. To this day, I feel as if it was a joke; something not very important. C says it's because we got married in the Roman church; he's a funny one.

To be continued...