Emily M. DeArdo

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Seven Quick Takes--Writing Updates, Birthdays, A Wedding....

7 Quick Takes, family, writing, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
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Linking up with Kelly!

-I-

If you missed it, my sister got married last week!

It was a beautiful day! I’ll have more about travel logistics up soon, as well as the second part of my April trip…..bad me, I know! I’m being a slacker blogger!



-II-

But I have a reason to be slacker blogger—it’s time for edits! Which means:


I got edits up to Chapter 11 (there are 15 main chapters, plus the prayer section, and the intro and preface, so 17 chapters and prayers) from my editor yesterday, so now it’s time to DIVE IN. So if it’s quiet around here, that’s why. Amuse yourselves by looking through the archives!

(Or buy Catholic 101! $5!)

-III-

So yes, I’ll be in the office, by Corgi corner, writing. :)

What is Corgi Corner?

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This. :)

It’s a Corgi Calendar that my friend Sarah sent me for my birthday, a card with a leaping corgi on the cover, and my Susan Branch Royal Corgi mug, because hello it’s THE BEST.

I fill the mug with tea, and I write. Corgi corner keeps me going!


-IV-

Happy First Day of Summer! It’s been so rainy here that when the sun is out I feel like Gollum:

It’s only going to be 75 today so not quite warm enough to swim, but warm enough to get outside and squint at the bright thing in the sky!

-v-

We’re hitting the big Birthday Stride in our family: Dad’s birthday was on Wednesday, my new brother in law’s is today, my mom’s is tomorrow, mom and dad’s anniversary (their fortieth!) is on the 30th, and that’s also my grandma’s 89th birthday.

WHEW!

-VI-

The trip to CO was our big trip of the summer so the rest of the summer is delightfully free. Of course I’m working on edits because they’re due before the Fourth of July, but after that, who knows what’s going to happen? Well, other than clinic in July—the big yearly testing date, with CTs and bone density scans—and then my fourteenth transplant anniversary on the 11th!

-VII-

I also need to update you about books I’m reading but we’ll do that later…..I’ll add it to my blog list. In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading! I’m always looking for new titles to pick up!

A Wedding In the Mountains: Melanie and Jason

essays, family, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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(Photos by Mel’s photographer, not me! :) )

My sister got married last week, and I have a new brother!

We’re excited about this. :)


The wedding was on June 13 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

This is a beautiful church! Pope St. John Paul II visited it during World Youth Day in Denver in 1993.

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The church was stunning……so here are pictures (especially for family members who couldn’t come, but really, for everyone, because we all need beauty!)

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

View from the doors

View from the doors


It’s a really gorgeous church, with a statue of the Sacred Heart, a St. Michael window in the choir loft, and last but not least, a really amazing priest! He gave a beautiful homily on how marriage is about joy and sorrow, how marriage really begins the time you have your first fight (basically) or have a bad/sad moment, and how marriage is about being selfless, instead of selfish, because you’re one now. You’re not two. It was appropriate he spoke about joy, because that’s my sister’s middle name! I wish I had a copy of the homily, it was so inspiring.

The reception was intimate, held at a local steakhouse. But there was still cake (well, cupcake) smashing….

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And a first dance….



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I was a bridesmaid, so I was busy throughout the day and didn’t have time to take a ton of pictures, but that’s what I have. :)

We stayed at The Stanley Hotel (AKA, where Stephen King got the inspiration for The Shining) and my room had a great view:

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So, that’s all I have right now, in terms of photos, but it was a lovely, intimate wedding in a gorgeous place, and I’m so happy for my sister and my new brother in law! :)


JACKETS!

family, hockeyEmily DeArdoComment

I was lucky enough to be at the Columbus Blue Jackets playoff game last Sunday! (They ended up sweeping Tampa Bay last night!) So I thought I’d share some of the photos I took. If you’re not into hockey, read something else. :)

Heading into the arena.

Heading into the arena.

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(That’s dad. :) )

We had some time before the game—well, a lot of time. We got there around 3:45 and puck drop was at 7, and we had dinner reservations at 4:15 at Buca di Beppo. So we went into the Blue Line (the Blue Jackets’ shop) before the game to check out what was for sale.

After that, we headed to Buca:

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And had a great dinner:

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Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Buca always has great decorations, and pictures of cute things, like babies covered in spaghetti:

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After dinner—TIME TO PARTY!

Heading in to the arena

Heading in to the arena

Pregame show in the concourse

Pregame show in the concourse

One of my friends on FB asked what happens to the hats tossed to the rink when a hat trick happens. At NA, some of them go here:




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Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

The game itself was OBVIOUSLY intense, with the Jackets winning 3-1, and the place exploded. It was so loud in there. I tried to get some video of that but it’s blurry, so I won’t share.

But it was a fabulous experience. I’ve always wanted to go to a playoff hockey game, so I can cross it off the bucket list.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas....

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

It’s STILL CHRISTMAS! Do not take down the tree! RESIST! (Unless you have a real one, which has become a fire hazard. Then, of course, get rid of it. But there are advantages to having a fake one, like my $20 Target tree….)

The ninth day of Christmas was always my favorite as a kid, because in the song it’s “Nine ladies dancing” and that just gave me a nice image. Also, my mom’s Christmas china has the twelve days of Christmas illustrated on the dessert plates, and “Nine Ladies Dancing” is the prettiest, so I always wanted that one. My mom, being a piper (she played bagpipes in high school!), is partial to the 11 pipers piping, obviously.

(I need to take pictures of the plates so you can see them! They really are gorgeous. I have 12 days of Christmas ornaments, but not the whole set yet—Hallmark is releasing them one a year, and they’re only up to ‘8 maids a-milking’.)

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Anyway, how is your Christmas season going? Did you do anything fun? Are you enjoying wallowing in the Christmas books you got, like me? :) (Seriously, SO MANY this year, it’s an overflow of riches.)

Coming up here on the blog is a yarn along post about blocking (I know that thrills the non yarn people among you, but guys, it makes a HUGE difference, so it’s for the fabric-oriented), goals for 2019, and some writing updates…..but I just wanted to pop in and say hi with this entry.

And share this little guy’s picture, because he’s adorable. Did you have breakfast with Cookie Monster last week?

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Burdens

essays, family, life issuesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum wrote a great piece about how everyone is a burden to someone at some point in her life. It’s not just people who are disabled, or poor, or old, or whatever. ALL of us were, or will be, a “burden” to someone.

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One of the things you hear when people talk about assisted suicide is that they don’t “want to be a burden” to their loved ones. But think about it. Babies are inherently a burden to their parents. They can’t do anything for themselves. We all started there, and we’ll probably all go back there as we get older.

This touched me specially because I had a call with a “disability caseworker” last week, and I’m working through the SSDI application process. This entire process is dehumanizing and humiliating. It boils down to what you can do, and strips away anything else. So at the end of this call, which involved both my parents, I burst into tears.


“Why are you crying?!” My parents asked.

“Because these things are so humiliating. I feel like such a burden to everyone, I can’t do anything, you guys are just stuck with me forever! No one wants me!”

“We want you,” my parents said.

And then they reminded me that they really did want me. This wasn’t just parents saying what they’re supposed to say (like when you ask your boyfriend if a dress makes you look fat. There’s a right answer to that question.).

My parents really wanted me. They prayed hard for me. They got married in 1979 and I didn’t appear until 1982. My mom always wanted to be a mother. They prayed hard for me, and, in an example of God taking people seriously, Mom had said in her prayers that she would take a baby who needed extra care, because she knew she could love and take care of that baby.

And believe me, she has. The things my parents have done for me would take a really long time to explain, but here’s just a bit of it:

  • Many, many, MANY ER runs (One during the Super Bowl, when the Steelers were playing. My parents are huge Steeler fans.)

  • Monthly blood draws when I was a toddler.

  • Driving to Cleveland in a snowstorm for an appointment.

  • Many many many overnight hospital stays

  • Learning how to reconstitute medicines and give them via an IV, even 8 or twelve hours—yeah, that means middle of the night stuff. WHEEEE!

  • Beating on my chest twice a day, every day, as part of daily CF therapy (now that’s not really needed, there are inventions that take care of it, but back then, not so much).

  • Many insurance phone calls

  • Learning how to dress a third degree burn, and then doing the dressing at the kitchen table, which was just par for the course at our house.


It’s a lot. And I’d be lying if I said I never felt like a burden to them, because I do. Our society makes it clear of what it thinks about “people like me”. I’ve had people tell me, to my face, that I shouldn’t exist. That’s sort of hard to deal with. And as I get older, I get increasingly sadder about this fact that I’m not married, so my parents have to handle everything for me, because I don’t have a husband to help out. (Not that every husband would help out….)

But really, Kelly’s right—we’re all burdens. We just are, it’s part of being human. We depend on each other. Think about it. Even a “normal” kid needs mom and dad’s helps. Even “normal” adults need help every once in awhile. We can’t do everything ourselves, it’s just not possible.

But we see this as being wrong, and as something that needs eliminated. Sure, we all want to be independent. I am very glad, for example, that I can use the bathroom by myself, because having gone through periods of my life where I’ve had to wait for a bedpan or three nurses to help me, I do not take that ability for granted. But you know, there are times when I haven’t been able to do that, when mom has had to wash my hair, or Dad has had to call AAA because I can’t call them.

It can be a lot. It can be humiliating, and it can be depressing. As a society, we need to really focus on the person, because we are all God’s chosen people, in that, God willed us into existence. This is my existence.

I’m glad that I am independent, in some ways. I’m glad that I don’t need to rely on my parents for everything. But at the same time, I know that even when I have needed that, they’ve answered. And I know some parents don’t—I don’t know them personally, but I’ve seen them, I’ve heard the horror stories. I’m lucky.

People are people to be loved, not to be called burdens or dismissed because of it. Really, we could all be burdens to God. Think about how slow we are. I mean, doesn’t he ever sit up there and just facepalm? Seriously, humanity?! WE COVERED THIS!!!!!

But God made us anyway. People love us anyway. Our worth isn’t about what we can do or what job we have or anything external. Worth is internal.




#16 Grandma

journal, familyEmily DeArdoComment

(This is the post for Saturday—there will be a Sunday post later!)


My grandma is down here with my aunts, spending time on a girls’ weekend together at Easton (A shopping/entertainment district near where I live). I didn’t know grandma was in town, so I was really pleasantly surprised to see her at Mass last night!

Grandma is 88 and she’s the last grandparent I have. The older I get, the more conscious I am of that, and I treasure getting to spend time with her. Even if it’s just an hour at Mass. :)

At Bryan and Sarah’s wedding in May

At Bryan and Sarah’s wedding in May


#7 Fajitas with Mel (and Ember Days start tomorrow!)

Catholicism, family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

My sister lives in Colorado, so I don’t get to see her that much, which is sad. She’s an RN at Colorado Children’s, the only children’s hospital in the entire state. She’s also getting married in June!

Tonight she called me and we cooked together. I love FaceTime. She was making a cake while I made fajitas for dinner, and we talked about wedding plans and our brother and what we like to cook and how she was eating all the cake batter. :-P And I got to say hi to Bella, her cat. We also decided that I’d look up a place for the rehearsal dinner, because I really do love reading Yelp reviews and I want to help her out. :)

Sadly I didn’t take a shot of her on the phone—she was having an AMAZING hair day. She has thick blonde hair I envy. Mine is not thick.

But I did take a photo of the fajitas.

Homemade salsa in there, too!

Homemade salsa in there, too!


And—a few dioceses around the country, and many individuals, are re-instating the practice of Ember Days in their spiritual lives. What are ember days? They’re days that the Church used to use for prayers—blessings on the natural world, on crops, on the people who live in the area, etc. They happen four times a year, and the Michaelmas (fall) ones are tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. They’re days for fasting and more prayer.

If you want to know more, check out this great article. I am terrible at fasting. But I will abstain from meat. Here’s a specific link on the fall Embertide. (The other ones fall after Pentecost, St. Lucy’s Day [Dec. 13] and after Ash Wednesday.)

(If you’re a blog subscriber, you’re getting this W morning….but you can still fast or do things on the Friday and Saturday! Not too late!)

Thirteen

CF, family, essays, organ donation, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

The annual transplant anniversary post tends to change, in form and shape, every year. This year, a lot has happened: 

Catholic 101 was published in November (buy it here--on sale until Friday!) 

My brother got married

(c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

(c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

 

My sister got engaged

Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

I saw the Stanley Cup with my parents

I went back to Williamsburg and Duck 

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I started writing and editing for Take Up & Read. 

I celebrated my grandma's 88th birthday with my family

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I knit my first shawl. 

 

None of these things would've happened without my donor. 

It can be tempting to look at life in terms of productivity, what we do,  and I'm not trying to list my productivity. Look at what I've done! Rather, it's more like, these are things I never would've done, enjoyed, even conceived of, thirteen years ago. These are things that never would've happened. 

I would've missed my brother's wedding. 

I never would've met my new future brother-in-law and sister-in-law. 

13 birthdays, Christmases, holidays....all those things would've passed without me. 

In general, women post-transplant don't do as well as men. There isn't a lot of data, period, on women who have survived a transplant longer than 10 years. I'm in new territory here. 

I try not to think about that. 

Instead, these things I get to do are gifts, even when life is sort of sucky, because life is never totally perfect. I mean, things are overcome, yes--but just because something is overcome doesn't mean that everything is suddenly perfect. It doesn't work that way. 

Someone said, life is full of suffering, but it is also full of the overcoming of it. 

And that about sums it up. 

Thirteen years of overcoming is pretty good. 

With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

To be an organ donor, go to donatelife.net/register

A Wedding

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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He's married. And so is she! I have a new sister! 

My brother's wedding was lovely, and glorious, and so much fun. Everything about it spoke to the personalities of the two people involved, and the love that God has given them. The Mass homily was especially great; the deacon, who had prepared them for marriage, spoke about the graces we all received just by attending the Mass, and the graces God gives us all for our state in life. 

 

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The joy really did overflow. It was a great party. The rain was spotty, and then gone, so we were able to take photos in the garden of the reception location, and also bring the party onto the deck that came off of the main room. Seeing so many family members and friends made it even better, especially friends of my parents that I haven't seen in ages. 

In Gone With the Wind, Melanie Wilkes says that the happiest days are when babies come. I think the second happiest days have to be when two people who are clearly so well-suited for each other get married. 

Bubby

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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My brother was the sibling that made me a big sister. 


I remember the day he was born very clearly. Mom and Dad bundled me off to Laurie's house (a friend of theirs) in my Grover nightgown, and I slept in one of the boys' beds (they have three boys), until Laurie and Barry (her husband) woke me up the next morning. 


"You have a baby brother!" They told me. 


I stood in their bedroom, rubbing my eyes in the morning sunlight and sort of grumpy.

 
"I wanted a sister," I grumped. 


Well, I got my sister four years later. And I was glad to get her. But I've really, really enjoyed having a brother like Bryan, who is unfailingly upbeat, friendly (EVERYONE seems to know him), supportive, totally giving of his time, great with kids, a sports fanatic (which has served him in good stead), and one of the most cooly collected people I will ever meet, which definitely serves him well, and which I envy. And he's just adorable and sweet. Which I probably shouldn't say because it's not "manly", but it's true, and it's a great thing, in my opinion. He's incredibly creative, with a great sense of humor. And he's strong--which is great to have in a brother, because you can use him for heavy lifting (kidding, sort of)--but also mentally, which serves him in good stead as a runner. (I like to brag about his marathon-running. Kid's run Boston and New York (twice).) 

We weren't always this close. In fact, when we were kids, we were downright feral towards each other, pulling hair and scratching and generally fighting a lot. It really wasn't until I went to college that we became good friends, and I'm glad we did, eventually, because I just love him to bits. (So, parents reading this--if your kids fight when they're little, that doesn't preclude them being close as adults!) 


And he's getting married. Isn't he still five? Wasn't I just reading Go Dog Go! to him?

Apparently not. 

I'm so proud of you, Bubby. You're going to be a great husband. And I love the woman you've picked to be your wife. I'm so glad Sarah is joining the family!

(Yes, we call him "Bubby." I have no idea why. It's the shortening of a VERY long nickname we came up with for him when he was a toddler. That's a family secret. ;-) ) 

Thirty-six

family, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I love birthdays. 

I especially love birthdays you weren't supposed to have. Seriously. Thirteen extra birthdays since my transplant! Yayyyy!!!

Thirty-six sounds sort of old. It's not, really. But it sounds that way. I did like being thirty-five. That, and seventeen, were always ages that sounded good to me. (Do you have ages like that?) 

So, my birthday was sort of low-key. My parents took me to Chuy's, and we did a little bit of shopping. I got a Manduka PRO mat for my yoga practice, and I love it. So worth the money (and yay REI member coupons!). I think it's really helping my practice so far. We also went to David's Tea and I got some yummy tea goodness, including my "cake"--their birthday cake tea infused chocolate bar, which I shared with my parents. It was yummy! (I adore their birthday cake tea as well) I also went to Kendra Scott and picked out earrings to wear to my brother's wedding next month. And of course, there were books: Force of Nature * and Unmasked*, because I love Andrew Lloyd Webber with all my theater-loving heart, and I'd been wanting to read Force of Nature for MONTHS. 

My brother took me to dinner (Red Robin, free burger on your birthday!), which was delightful. 
So it was a good day, a good week. (Birthday flowers unexpectedly arriving make any week a good week!) 

Later this week I'll be talking about Ponder *, which is available on Amazon and is SO GORGEOUS. I have two essays in the book (The Preaching of the Kingdom and The Agony in the Garden), so of course that makes it really special for me, but it's gorgeous in every way. So I'll share more with you about that later this week! 

 

*=affiliate link

Weekend in the Burgh

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

It was a good weekend in the 'Burgh.

Normally, any weekend I get to spend with my extended family is a good one. But when it's a chance to celebrate my youngest cousin's first communion (he's the little guy in the above photo), and the Penguins win their fifth Stanley Cup? It's a great weekend. 

I've been a hockey fan since I was about seven years old, and saw my first Penguins game at the old Civic Arena against a team that doesn't even exist anymore--the Hartford Whalers. So I've been alive for every Penguins Cup victory, which is special in and of itself, but watching them win is just tremendous. I was so happy, especially since the game was so crappy for the most part (Nashville, learn to make better ice! Come on!). 

And seeing my grandma is always great. I love her house and getting to spend time with her, probably because I'm aware that she's 87 and not going to be around forever, and partially because I just adore her house. She's my only grandparent left, so that makes every visit with her even more important/special. 

Justin is my youngest cousin and he is hysterical. He's eight, he wants to be a librarian when he grows up, he keeps itemized shopping lists (labeled "Toys R Us", "Dick's", and "Amazon) and is a YouTube video master. He also has some sweet dance moves. It's always fun to spend time with him and his older siblings. (Sorry, Paige, for having a party at your house that went until almost 1 AM the night before your finals week started.......) 

We usually get up to Pittsburgh to visit once or twice each summer. I hope we go back again, because I have to go to Kennywood, as is tradition. 

A day trip to Waynesville, Ohio

family, travel, ohio, journalEmily DeArdoComment

So, two weeks ago was my cousin's first communion day. My parents and I were planning on going to Pittsburgh to celebrate, like we do for every first communion, but since this was the last of the grandbabies, it was going to be sort of bittersweet. 30 some years of first communion parties, over! 

The day of the party, my mom got a call from my uncle--my aunt was sick, so the party was cancelled. :( But we were all up anyway, and dressed, and it wasn't even ten o'clock, so....we decided to take a road trip down to Waynesville, Ohio, a little village in the southwest corner of our state. 

First order of business: Food. 

 

The food at Cobblestone cafe was amazing, guys. You even get complimentary chai tea lattes at the end of the meal! They're tiny and adorable! The cafe is also a shop, so you get two great things in one place. Mom, Dad, and I are hard-pressed to find a place that all of us like equally when it comes to eating, and Cobblestone fit the bill with their amazing menu. And dessert. Can we talk about dessert? Holy moly, it was good.  Key lime pie! Pina Colada sundae! (Or was it a cake thing? I can't remember. It was good.) 

I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 

I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 

 

I had way too much fun shopping, and so did my mom--and even my dad. (He is a licorice connoisseur and he found homemade licorice that apparently passed His Testing at Cheap John's.) 

The town is full of craft and antique shops, and I found a yarn store (of course), where the excellent proprietor gave me a free (?!) yarn book and even gave me some advice on the knitting project I was shopping for (it's this one--it won't be made for awhile yet, but I was glad to get advice and find the yarn I needed for this project!).  She had recently worked on the project with another customer, so she gave me needle and gauge advice! Win! 

Waynesville isn't far off I-71, so you're close to King's Island in Mason, and also Cincinnati proper, so, in theory, you could probably stay at a Waynesville B&B and visit these places from there--or visit Waynesville during a Cincinnati trip. It's only a little over an hour from Columbus. Perfect day trip distance.

Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 

Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 

 

It almost felt like a movie set, it was that cute. I think all of us want to go back soon, and since it's so close, we can definitely make that happen. Besides, Dad wants more licorice! 

 

Daybook No. 122: Christmastide

Daybook, books, family, holidaysEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: 

It's cloudy and almost sixty degrees. Merry Christmas to us? :) My sister arrives today from Houston so maybe she brought the weather with her! 

Wearing::

My pajamas, because it's the day after Christmas and I am reading books on the couch once I finish writing this. Eventually, yes, I do have to get dressed because I want to see my sister. But not for a bit!

Reading::

Oh, the treasure trove of Christmas books! I received Three Sisters, Three Queens yesterday and I read that. I'm still reading Silence. I also got Cooking for Jeffrey and I read that several times yesterday. I know a few of those recipes are going to feature in the menu for my Christmas dinner this week. I also still have Frog Music and the Hamilton bio to start. So the cup runneth over (And when parents give you an Amazon gift card, what do you get? MORE BOOKS. I'm basically Cookie Monster, except...with books.)

Christmas notes::

I saw a tree by the dumpster today and it made me sad. Christmas is at least 12 days, guys! We get to celebrate for days and days! Eat the figgy pudding! (Whatever that is.) I can understand if you have a live tree and it's....dead. Then, yeah, you probably want to take it down. But Christmas isn't just one day. 

My brother had to work yesterday (he's a Steelers sportswriter for 24/7 sports) but fortunately the Steelers won in a Christmas miracle of an ending, so that makes it better. It was almost 50 degrees yesterday, too, so that was unseasonal. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

We go to the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve, also called the "Children's Mass". The children's choir sings and the nativity scene is blessed (that's what the book in the front is: it's the Book of Blessings. It's like Fiddler on the Roof: "There is a blessing for everything, my son!"). The church is always decorated to perfection. 

The altar, and yes, we USE those communion rails! The kneeler pads were embroidered by members of the altar guild, I believe. The stained glass window you can see is of St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. 

The altar, and yes, we USE those communion rails! The kneeler pads were embroidered by members of the altar guild, I believe. The stained glass window you can see is of St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. 

The Mass ends a little after five, and then we went home for dinner: 

There was also Peppermint Stick Ice Cream which is just the best. Seriously. The best. Mom made it part of a dessert with a sugar cookie bottom. Yum. 

Christmas Eve is pretty low key around the house. We watched Christmas Vacation because Bryan's girlfriend had never seen it--Bryan and I exchanged gifts, and his girlfriend and I did too. They left around 11:30 ish. 

Christmas Morning my brother came over around 9:30. We did the gifts, we did late brunch, and then we just hung out. It was lovely. 

Today Melanie comes in and will be here until the 31st, so there will be appropriate partying and other things. I think Bryan, Dad, and I are seeing the new Star Wars movie tomorrow. Maybe. 

Around the House::

Gotta get it ready for the Christmas dinner I'm having this week but the kitchen is in pretty good shape, so winning there. 

Living the Liturgy::

We're entering a pretty big swath of saints here. So it's not just the Octave of Christmas, it's also a lot of Feast Days. Yay! 

Quotable::

Christmas must mean more to us every year, and we must not be afraid of immersing ourselves in its joy."

--Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Come, Lord Jesus

 

Go immerse yourself in some joy today. :) 

 

 

Houston Postcard Part II

travel, familyEmily DeArdoComment

It's time for Part Two of my Houston postcards! This is rapidly becoming a series!

In October I went to visit my sister for her birthday, and we had so much fun. We also ate really well and had fun browsing in FOUR bookshops. That's right: FOUR, people. 

So I'm here to share more Houston goodness with you!

(Here's the first postcard)

Food: 

This is up first because we had a lot of foodie fun. :) 

The thing you need to know is that the portions will, most likely, be LARGE. Just plan on that. 

Torchy's Tacos: various locations. Ours was the Rice Village one, 2400 Times Blvd. Mel said to me that they had big portions, but I thought two tacos wouldn't be that big, right? WRONG. They were big. And delicious. I had to admit defeat. The fact that they also sell spicy, amazing queso makes it even harder to stop yourself. They have Mexican sodas, but do not fear! The diet tastes a lot like Diet Coke to me, so I was fine. There's also lemonade and water. Fantastic eats. Yes, the location is small and it's loud, but hey, it's great food. 

Goode Co. Barbecue5109 Kirby Drive (basically, Kirby has a LOT of good food on it. Drive down this street and find good eats.) Texas does barbecue so well, and Goode's does it especially well. We both ordered the two meat platter and got the Czech sausage and the brisket. I have no idea what is in Czech sausage, but whatever it is, it is DELICIOUSNESS. The jalapeño cornbread was a revelation. Excellent good eats. They have a small dining room and a much larger covered patio outside. 

Down House:  1801 Yale Street. This place is cool and serves excellent food. This is where Mel's friends met her for lunch to celebrate her birthday. Mimosas were had (not by me), and there was a cheeseboard. 

The shrimp and grits were exquisite. I could eat here every day. We had a great waiter, and we could eat leisurely and enjoy ourselves, which is always a plus. 

El Tiempo: multiple locations, and I'm honestly not sure which one was ours! We ate here for dinner with Mel and Diane, who were both celebrating birthdays. This is more Tex-Mex than actual authentic Mexican, but it's very good. I had a platter and Mel and her boyfriend shared a fajita plate. 

Grace's 3111 Kirby Drive Mel and I had the best dinner here. (I know I keep saying that, but it's true!) This is owned and run by the people who run Carrabas (there's actually one of them across the street), and it's dedicated to the owner's grandmother, Grace. The restaurant is decorated like someone's house. It's dark and elegant. Me and I shared the beet salad and we both had burgers, because they were Waygu beef burgers, people. Delicious. Very classy place, and it's where Mel takes our parents when they come to town. We saw couples, people on business dinners, families--diverse clientele. Also had a lovely patio! 

The Chocolate Bar2521 University Blvd. (Rice Village) (there's another location in River Oaks, at 1835 W. Alabama) I wanted dessert at Grace's, but Mel said, no. We have to go here. 

THAT is Aunt Etta's cake. That is pure deliciousness. That is something you stomach NEEDS. Mel got the European hot chocolate and a slice of truffle cake. 

I did not eat all of this. But man, it's delicious. You must go to the Chocolate Bar. 

Sweet Paris 2420 Rice Blvd. (three locations) We went here for lunch. They have sweet and savory crepes, as well as waffles, and (my dad says ) Amazing Coffee. It's very cute, very Parisian, and very yummy. 

 

Bookstores

Brazos2421 Bissonnett St. Of course I had to return and bring Mel! A good time was had by all. 

B&N (We don't need to review this, do we? Just know they have them. :-D)

Murder By the Book2342 Bissonnet St. (Yes, it's right down the street from Brazos. This is an excellent street.) I had some reservations about this one, because I'm not a big mystery reader. Man, I was wrong. This place is great! They have more than mysteries (fantasy, thrillers, etc. are included in their sphere), and I picked up books, a journal, and tea! Loved this bookstore. 

 

Galveston

The Spot3204 Seawall Blvd., Galveston. This place has a great view of the Gulf and includes indoor and outdoor seating. I had the Gulf shrimp, because seriously, how much more local can you get? They have a big menu and it's a very relaxed atmosphere--we came here straight from the beach! Parking can be a little tricky. 

Galveston Bookshop:  A used/new book store in the "historic district" of Galveston. The website gives you directions, since it's sort of hard to find. It has a great selection of books about Galveston and Texas in general. (There is also a bookstore cat.) We didn't buy anything, but it looked like a good place to browse for hard to find books. 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 127

7 Quick Takes, drawing, family, travel, Jeopardy, hearing lossEmily DeArdo3 Comments

I.

In case you missed it: Thirty Days of Beauty continued this week. It was really all I wrote this week, since I was in Houston visiting my sister, and didn't bring the laptop with me. So go enjoy those posts. :) 

I will be updating my Houston Postcard next week with the places I did this trip, so it will be more Comprehensive for all you Houston-bound people!

II.

When I was in Houston I did a lot of sketching, including making a point of taking my supplies to the beach at Galveston. I knew that the paint would dry faster in the heat, but I wasn't prepared for how much faster. Still, I'm pretty happy with what I managed to get. 

III. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you are aware that my sister has a cat. Bella is a pretty sweet kitty, who flicks her tail whenever you say her name, and likes to try to get extra kibble out of the automatic feeder. (My sister is a nurse who works night shift, so automatic feeding for Bella is a good thing!) She discovered that by moving her paw under the slot, she could get extra kibble to drop down. Sometimes. Never having lived with a cat, I was hugely amused by her behavior. 

IV. 

There were FOUR bookstores visited on this trip, guys. FOUR. One of them, yes, was a Barnes and Noble, and I wasn't there for very long, but still. FOUR! 

Brazos, of course. I introduced Melanie to its beautiful-ness. Small but mighty. 

We checked out Galveston Bookshop--didn't buy anything, though. It looked like it might be a decent place to prowl around and look for books. It's mostly used books, with some new, and they have an excellent collection of books about Galveston and Texas, if that's your thing. They also have a shop cat!

IMG_4074.JPG

The last shop we visited was Murder By the Book, which was excellent. It's a lot more than mystery novels (at first I was like, mystery novels are not my thing), but I had a lot of fun here. More about this guy later. 

V. 

This chocolate cake, people. THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE: 

Does it remind you of this scene in Matilda, or what?!

It reminded me of that. :) And Mel and I love Matilda. So extra bonus points. 

And no. I did not eat that entire piece. Do I look crazy? But it was magically delicious. 

VI.

One of the things that I'm terrible at vis-a-vis traveling is unpacking. My suitcase sits in the main room and is gradually unpacked over a series of days. The longer the trip, the longer it takes to sort everything out! 

VII. 

And finally....

 I wrote a piece for the Cochlear Website about my Jeopardy! experience. You can read it here

It went up on Tuesday when I was in Texas so I didn't have time to write about it. :) But here you go! 

Seven Quick Takes No. 126

7 Quick Takes, family, travelEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Until the election, I'm doing 30 Days of Beauty. It's a series where I post images, book and movie recommendations, and music to serve as a bit of peace and loveliness in the crazy. They're not very long, but hopefully you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed putting them together!

II. 

Makeup recommendation time (this is where all the guys scroll down!): Best mascara I've ever tried is Maybelline's Last Stiletto. Seriously. Try it. Works just as well as Lancome's Definicils and better than any Bobbi Brown I've tried. Needed to share this with y'all. 

III. 

I am going to Houston on Sunday! My sister's birthday is on Monday and she wanted me to come visit her, so I am complying. I'll be there for a few days. 

The extra-fun part is that my sister shares a birthday with two of our cousins, one of which also lives in Houston. So it's gonna be one big party. Yay!

(I do love birthdays. So much.)

IV. 

On Tuesday we're going to the beach. Here's how that conversation went:
Mel: So we'll go to the beach on Tuesday.
Me: Guess I won't need to pack my sweater, then....

It's going to 90 when I'm there. The beach in October? That just seems wrong. 

Oh well! Better than not being on the beach, right? 

V. 

I haven't been to Houston in about five years, so I'm excited to go back. I also get to meet my sister's boyfriend, whom I haven't met yet. Hopefully I don't scare him away. :-P 

VI. 

The TSA agents really do not help women. I mean, seriously. ONE little bag to carry on of toiletries? This, and my meds, is why I have to check baggage. Seriously. I need more than one little baggie, TSA people. 

(First world problem, I know. At least I'm flying Southwest and my checked bag is free.) 

VII. 

Hockey season has begun and my heart is happy. Hockey season always makes me happy. Except when/if my teams are tanking. I don't want that to happen. That's not happy. 

 

You Get What You Get

health, essays, familyEmily DeArdo2 Comments

or: why I wouldn't do genetic testing on my future spouse

"You get what you get and you don't get upset." I remember hearing that as a kid, and it's a pretty good philosophy when it comes to babies. It annoys me when people say that all they want is a "healthy" baby. So, if the baby is unhealthy, they don't want it anymore? Huh? 

Genetics are a tricky thing. For example, take a look at my family. If genetic worked the way it was supposed to, my siblings and I would be dark haired, dark eyed, and sort of olive complected. This is because we have a father who is 100% Italian. 

Instead: 

Two blondes, one redhead. Two blue-eyed girls, one hazel-eyed boy. 

Yeah. 

Genetics don't always work the way the Punnet Squares say, y'all. 

In a very large family, there was no history of CF. No history of babies or kids dying early from unexplained causes. Nothing that would lead to any sort of hint that I would have CF. And in the 80s, you didn't really do prenatal testing, especially in 1981, when my mom was pregnant with me. 

But now, there are more and more people with CF saying, get your spouse tested. In fact, do IVF, so that you can only "choose" embryos that don't have CF. Because, you know, why have a kid with CF? 

Um.....because that's what you get? 

Put in anything genetic. Put in Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Put in hemophilia. Whatever. Take your pick. But just because your genetic tests show that you're not a carrier for one thing, doesn't mean your kid won't have something else. 

Why do we want to eliminate people because they're not perfect? Why are we so afraid of having children that might not be perfect? 

I don't understand it. 

We have no idea if my siblings are carriers for CF. They would have to marry another carrier to have any risk of having a kid with CF (real quick lesson: two CF carriers have a kid--the kid has a 25% chance of having CF, 50% chance of being a carrier, and 25% chance of having nothing to do with CF, genetically, at all.). I don't know if my siblings want to know. But I would hope that they wouldn't be worried about this. 

Take what you get. Take any kids you may be blessed with as the gifts from God they are. Take them as they come. And be happy that you have that child. God works in mysterious ways. Maybe your imperfect child is supposed to make you holier. Maybe he's supposed to teach you something. Or maybe God just knows that you're the right parent for this kid, even if you're afraid to be. 

Be not afraid. Take what you get. And give thanks. 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 119: 23 Rules for Sane Eating, and Dragons!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, family, foodEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

The weekly recap: 

Intro to the Sacraments

Seeking Motivation

II. 

Last weekend, I visited my grandma with my parents. My grandma is 86 years old, and she's my last remaining grandparent--and I love her to bits. She raised eight kids on a music teacher's salary, and all 8 kids are married (STILL married! Not divorced!--several of them in the 30+ years category of marriage), and all have had children. There are 25 of us grandkids, and 9 great-grandchildren. Grandma gave me my lifelong love of piano. (And listened to me play even when it was more like....random noise.....than music.) 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

 

Anyway, Grandma's house always has good reading. I was reading her back issues of Catholic Digest, and found some food columns written by Emily Stimpson, whom I love to read. And then I remembered that Emily had a blog about Catholic food and friendship and entertaining called The Catholic Table

So I went home and read through her archives, where I found this gem: 

23 Rules for Sane Eating. 

Really, don't we need these? Eating, one of our most basic tasks, has become so complicated, hasn't it? It was so refreshing to find Emily's level-headed advice, here. 

And I am definitely going to start entertaining people again. I love dinner parties, and though my place is small, I love having people over to eat. 

III. 

Today is the Feast of St. Martha. DRAGONS, people. DRAGONS. (Click the link for Dragons!) 

Seriously, I love St. Martha. She gets such a bad wrap for the "Martha, Martha" story. But geez. She is really a pretty awesome lady. 

Some musical inspiration, as well: 

IV. 

This week I've been crazy into my painting and sketching. I'm working on adding some SoCal trip pages to my "big" sketchbook . Here's some of this week's work: 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

I'm trying to work with my watercolors and brushes, to get to know them a little better, and see what they can do. But I really had fun with the charcoal pencils. 

V.

I'm on snapchat now as emdeardo, if you're in to Snapchat. I think I have the hang of it. Maybe? Not sure. But I do see how it can be fun. I haven't used any of the silly filters yet. :-p 

VI. 

One of my favorite Columbus Summer things is next weekend--the Dublin Irish Festival! And thank goodness, it looks like decent temps for the day I want to go. I love going and hearing the Irish bands, eating the good food, and it's a great time for sketching. I brought my sketchbook for the first time last year and I had a lot of fun with it. I can't wait to sketch some more this year! One of my favorite bands is Cassie and Maggie, sisters from Nova Scotia. They don't just sing and play; they dance, too. Seriously. They are fantastic!

VII. 

Does anyone else really like the month of August? I like June because it's like the unfolding of spring and summer. It's full of possibility. July, I don't really like. I don't know why. And this has even been a particularly good July, with all sorts of fun things happening. 

But August just seems like such a lovely month. A slow month, a month to sort of enjoy the summer and prepare for fall. I remember when I was going back to school and I was always ready for school to start come August. August is like that slow transition from summer to the demands of fall. (But I do love fall.) 

Seven Quick Takes No. 87: Happy birthday, Bryan!

7 Quick Takes, familyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I. 

Today, my brother turns 30! So in his honor, he's getting my 7QT this week. 

II. 

80s stripes, y'all! 

80s stripes, y'all! 

Bryan is what teachers call a "good kid." He isn't mean or snappy, he gets along well with just about anyone, and can make friends anywhere. I remember when he was in high school, and my family and I were in line at Tim Horton's. A girl came up to us and said, "Excuse me, but are you Bryan's family?" She sounded like she was talking about the Pope, and then proceeded to talk about how great my brother was. We probably all looked at her a bit askance--it's not that Bryan wasn't great, but that we had no idea who this person was. This happens a lot. Bryan's very friendly, and going places with him can be like going places with a mayor. There's always someone who knows him. 

III. 

Halloween in the 90s. 

Halloween in the 90s. 

III. 

Bryan loves sports, but especially football, which makes sense, since he's now a Steelers sportswriter. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when our dad despaired of him ever liking football. Ha. Ha. Those days are gone. Bryan can tell you everything about every single Super Bowl, including the weather at kickoff. He once explained to me football defensive schemes at a restaurant using napkins and peanuts. And his knowledge isn't just about football--he can speak, intelligently, about baseball, hockey, basketball (he does love some Cavaliers basketball), and other sports.

He cut his journalistic teeth on our high school paper and at OSU, writing for the Lantern, and covering the football Buckeyes for the college sports radio network. He also used to dress like Jim Tressel, with a sweater vest, when he went to the press conferences or covered games. It was great.  

IV. 

He doesn't just talk about sports; he plays them. In his life he's played football and soccer, and ran cross country in both high school and college. He loves to run, which, I'm going to tell you, I don't understand, but he's good at it. He's run in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, New York (including the one that was cancelled because of Sandy), and Boston Marathons. I think he could've gone to the Olympics, but he disagrees with me, and I guess he'd know--but I think he could have. He's a coach for our high school's cross country team now. 

V. 

Yeah, that's Bryan bawling his head off.....

Yeah, that's Bryan bawling his head off.....

He's great with kids--kids love him, and he loves them. He was a substitute teacher for awhile, and the kids just loved his classes, but he's also great with babies, toddlers, and small fry. 

VI. 

VII.

In addition to all that, he's a great brother. He's a good listener, an excellent clothes shopper (really, he likes to go shopping!), and has given me IV meds a time or two, which is also awesome. The day he was born, I said I wanted a sister, and I got one a few years later--but I'm really glad I have my brother.