Monday, June 28, 2010

Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

James and I went camping at Linville Gorge this past weekend with my parents. It was a brief trip, just two nights, but it was a nice chance to get away. Usually the area is pretty cool during the summer, but we had highs in the lower 80s all weekend. We did some day hiking on Sunday and the view was simply breathtaking. So anyway, here are some pictures.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Church Customs Every Episcopalian Ought to Know

The following is a pamphlet published by the Forward Movement.

Entering an Episcopal church for the first time can be daunting. Episcopalians do things that can seem odd to those familiar with other churches or no church. Why all these changes of posture, gestures, and moving about the room?

Perplexing as these customs may be at first, there are reasons for them. Some customs are matters of courtesy. Others are outward expressions of spiritual truths. A few simply enhance the beauty and reverence of Episcopal worship. Customs vary from place to place, but here are some church customs observed in many Episcopal churches.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The One Year Apron!

It only took me fifteen months, but I finally finished my first apron project! For those of you who don't know (or don't remember), I embarked on my apron-making experiments last year while James was deployed. After about twelve hours of hard labor, I had to give up on my original apron project and settle for a half-apron instead. I had never worked with a pattern before and I made the mistake of picking one with rounded edges and a gathered ruffle. Anyway, I stuffed the finished but unattached top-half of the apron in a drawer, vowing to one day to back and put the damn thing together. Since then, I've been using the bottom as a half-apron and that's worked pretty well. Today I felt inspired to finally put the two pieces together once and for all. Here are the results:
Hooray for being finished and being able to check something off my pre-moving to do list! 

The Wrist Rosary Project

During Lent this year, I took up reading the Daily Office (morning, noon, evening, and end-of-day prayers). Since Holy Week I have completely lost all the discipline I built up during Lent and it makes me very disappointed in myself. Why should I only observe this practice of daily prayer for 40 days out of the year? I recently discovered The Daily Office online and signed up for morning and evening prayer to be sent to my email every day. It simplified the process for me by putting together the daily Psalms, lessons, and prayers as given in the lectionary. I've been faithfully reading morning and evening prayer for a week or so now (I did it sporadically for about two weeks before I got my act together). I also bought a copy of The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version so I could better understand the context of my daily readings, and I've enjoyed that.

In addition to daily readings, I really wanted to get into the habit of daily prayer. We say a blessing before we sit down to dinner, but we don't always remember to say one before breakfast or lunch. Some days, after I've read morning prayer, I sit on the couch with my cup of coffee and pray a rosary. I always keep a couple rosaries in my purse (you never know when you might need to whip one out), but they've fallen into the trap of out-of-sight-out-of-mind. So I decided to start making wrist rosaries (a single decade) that I could wear on a daily basis to remind me pray. So much of my time is spent just sitting around waiting for something, when I could be praying instead.

So my new craft project is to make wrist rosaries. LOTS of them. Enough in different sizes, colors, and designs that I can wear one with every outfit and not have an excuse to leave it behind. I might even make a few five-decade wrist rosaries to resemble multi-strand bracelets. Here are some photos of the one I made just this afternoon. The Our Father and Hail Mary beads are Chinese Jasper and the spacers are glass beads I bought in a multi-pack from Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New June Adoption Update

Today was a bad day. I spoke to our agency this afternoon about our upcoming move and all the ridiculousness surrounded by it. In short, we're moving to a new state in roughly two and a half weeks. When we move, our current home study will expire. We can't officially start our next home study until we have a place of residence because we have to be assigned a social worker. Social workers are assigned by proximity. The home study agency can't pick which social worker is going to be closest to us because we don't have a place to live yet. No home study and no home study in progress means that our agency can no longer present us to potential birthmothers. That means, basically, that we're going to have to put the whole adoption process on hold until our house sells. Our only other alternative would be to move into a small apartment until we sell the house and can move into a new one. The problem with that is how do we afford it? We're a single income household. And although we don't live paycheck-to-paycheck right now, we don't really have enough money to pay for both a mortgage and an apartment either. Because we have a (ginormous) dog, getting an apartment is going to be more expensive than if it were just the two of us. And there's no way we could leave Piper behind with my parents. She gets separation anxiety when we go away for a week. Leaving her for a month or two (or more) would be too traumatic. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to put our file on hold because I'm afraid we'll miss out on a match opportunity. But I don't want to bankrupt us for the sake of starting the new home study because then we won't be able to afford the legal fees for the adoption, let alone offer any financial support to a birthmother. I feel like no matter what decision I make, it's going to be the wrong one. I feel like nothing is going right, like nothing is ever going to be right, and like there's nothing I can do about it. I am a proactive person. It's not in my nature to just sit by and let the sugar hit the fan. But I feel so helpless right now. Everywhere I turn there's just more trouble coming my way.

The Bikram Yoga Experiment

Bikram Yoga, also called hot yoga, is a style of yoga practice developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha yoga. It uses a specific sequence of twenty six asanas (postures) practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees, thus the nickname of hot yoga. I'd never tried it before today because Bikram isn't offered at the fitness center on base, where all group fitness classes are free, and I just can't justify paying for yoga classes at a studio when I can take them for free on base or at home with DVDs. But I have to admit that I was a little curious after spending the weekend with all my cousins at the lake, two of whom have done Bikram yoga for a while and absolutely swear by it.

So I decided to conduct a little experiment today. I don't have access to a Bikram studio, but I do have the internet and YouTube. I don't have access to a special room heated to 104 degrees, but it's June and hot as hell outside. I spent the morning doing some research online as to what the twenty six asanas are, what the two pranayama techniques are, and just generally how to practice the sequence. My plan was to wait until the hottest part of the day (which today was only about 85), take my yoga mat onto the back porch (which is both shaded to protect my fair-skinned self from sunburn and screened to keep away the insects), and try my hand at a self-guided Bikram yoga practice armed with only a water bottle and a print-out chart of the twenty six asanas.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June Adoption Update

I sent in the paperwork for our new home study today, all 45 pages. Most of those pages were a copy of our previous home study, but it was still a pretty thick packet. I also have to mail a new request for FBI fingerprint clearances. Thankfully, though, we had an extra copy of our fingerprints from last year so all I have to do is sign the request forms and put the whole thing in the mail.

The man from the home study agency said it usually takes 4-6 weeks to complete a home study in our new state. We still have three weeks before our move, but we don't have a new house yet. We haven't even sold our current home, so I'm a little anxious about how they're going to finish a home study if we don't actually have a home! We may end up renting a small apartment while we wait for our house to sell, but I don't know what effect that will have on the home study. There's just so much to worry about.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Countdown to Crazy Horse: 19 Weeks Left

I meant to post this last week, but we were super busy over the weekend and we were out-of-town at the beginning of this week. So last week I went on three runs with James and Piper.

5 miles, 10:45 pace
Monday it was POURING down raining. It rained all day, but had started to slow by the late afternoon. So I figured we could just run in the drizzle and it would keep me cool. Well, it was okay for a little while... then the skies just opened up. By the time we got back to the car we were COMPLETELY soaked. Completely. It was okay, though. The car seats were wet and gross for a say or two, but I did stay nice and cool.

6 miles, 11:33 pace
Wednesday's run included some pretty serious hills (which I hate). My legs felt a little stiff and heavy, probably from Monday's run. Jumping from last week's mileage to this week's mileage was probably a bit ambitious. But I did okay.

8 miles, 11:59 pace
Notice how much slower I'm getting as the week progresses? The fatigue of the week was definitely starting to get to me. We brought some carbohydrate gels for this run and that made all the difference for me during the last few miles. I think I'm going to take them anytime I run longer than an hour.

Weekly total: 19 miles
Monthly total: 26.8 miles
Yearly total: 139.3 miles