Hello, I'm an Adult.

Family Photos, November 2011

It's pretty amazing, isn't it? This whole growing up thing, even when you're already grown. It's weird to me to be 30. And a wife. And a mother. And to be walking around this little town with my friends and our strollers and our hot drinks in our hands and I think holy, holy, holy shit. How did I get here? It's a question I wonder about a lot. Lately I've been having all of these moments where I'm smacked right in the face with YOU'RE AN ADULT, DANIELLE! And it's weird because it's not like I don't know this and it's not like these moments are really monumental. It's the simple, everyday things that floor me, and really, I've been living on my own since I went away to college. This age didn't just sneak up on me. Hello, I'm closer to 40 than I am to being a kid- I've had some time to think about it.

But sometimes, like this morning, I'll be doing something, like ordering a bagel and cream cheese to split with Henry. And we'll go sit and I'll break it into two and I'll have that same odd realization that I'm doing the same things my mother did. Like somehow buying that bagel and splitting that bagel is so bizarrely parental and adult it is mind blowing. It's the simple things, grocery shopping and looking at the labels on this or that, sticking stamps on bills, or talking to a friend on the phone, Henry balanced on my hip as I glide around the kitchen multi-tasking. Or this past weekend when Hank and I went on a date. We had a babysitter come over to be there while Henry was asleep, and to me, THAT is adult. That's what my parents would do. They would call Karen Kowalski and she would come over, we'd get our snacks and open her backpack of crafts, and that was just how some of our Friday nights were. But now we're doing that? What?

I wonder then if this is just how it feels for some people. If maybe this is a part of growing up, the disbelief that we are in fact growing up. I think ahead to 40 and 50, wondering if I'll still feel the same way I did at 20 and 30, "how did this all happen so quickly?" in the front of my mind as I look back and all around at my life. Will I be sitting at the table on my 80th birthday, eyes crinkling into a deep smile, feeling 30 still and thinking about how fast the time went and how on earth is it even possible that I'm 80?! I wonder...

As we drove home from our date that night we cracked the windows just a bit to let in some of the cool Fall air. We turned up the stereo and sang along to Broadway Calls as we drove, the moon lit up like a Chinese lantern bobbing among the stars as we dipped up and down through the hills. We talked about all of it; about being parents and about having babies, about how weird it is to be talking about being parents and how weird it is to be talking about having more babies. We were 16, we were 25, we were just what we are, a Mom and a Dad driving home to tuck their little one back into bed at the end of the night. It all goes by so quickly doesn't it? I think the key is to just try and grab hold of anything you can, and tuck it away in a safe place, to pull out and remember when you need it. And I think it's okay to wonder where the time went, to feel strange at how you were there and now you're suddenly here, and to think holy, holy, holy shit- how did this happen? And I think if we still feel this way when we're 80, still feeling like we're so young and wondering how this wonderful life happened to us, I will look back on all of it and feel like we did it just right.

Pumpkin Festival 2012

Halloween Festival 2012

Another year, another pumpkin festival! One of the things I really love about our town is the constant stream of things to do with little ones, especially during the holidays. Every year we have a Halloween Festival downtown, the weekend before Halloween. There's trick-or-treating, games, a costume contest, and tons of activities for kids. Last year we kept talking about how excited we were for the next year, when Henry was sure to enjoy it a lot more. And he definitely did! His favorite part were probably either the bounce houses or the pumpkin patch. He was also really excited to meet Darth Vader and practiced saying "Hi, Vaaader!" a million times...but then got scared when it was his turn. It was a wonderful afternoon though and I'm so happy my parents and Lauren could come up for the day. Henry dressed up like a shark, although his actual Halloween costume is something totally different.

Do you have any fun traditions in your town? Where we live now is super similar to the town I grew up in on the East Coast so it's fun that we're able to keep some of my childhood traditions going here, even though we're across the country! I'm looking forward to making this Festival a yearly event for us.

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Weekend Links

Playing trains on the bridge. So thankful for this beautiful Fall day!
from our afternoon in Sedona today- more on this later next week :)

Happy Sunday evening! It's actually 11:47pm Arizona time and I'm just sneaking this "weekend links" post in before the weekend is over! This week I decided to include a few links from the tweets and FB comments I received- so a huge thank you to all of you who participated! You sent so many links in that I couldn't share them all (and I feel terrible about that), so I chose a few randomly to be fair. If I didn't include your link this time be sure to let me know you submitted this time when I do it again- I really would love to include everyone!

Enjoy and have a wonderful new week.

10 images of inspiration: Halloween edition!

Another great article on Tiny Buddha- this one's about judging the person you used to be.

How fun does this Halloween-themed dinner party look?

You might be sick of pumpkin pictures, but even if you are, take a look at this!

Homemade Rolos: vegan, GF and only 5 ingredients.

Golden Hour in Central Park. Self-explanatory.

A look back at Karolina's first year of parenting, and thoughts on motherhood from Kara. Both great reads.

DYING over this post on Lydia Mag about how to throw a fabulous fall party. Those invites!

Such a lovely wedding. I love the Biltmore! So much history and beauty.

Great photos of Vanessa and her fam at the Genoa Candy Dance.

Do you have any fun traditions you do with your friends? Love this idea of a Food Club.

And speaking of free, this post about "public bookshelves" is pretty awesome. What a neat concept!

See you tomorrow for a ton of photos from our weekend! xoxo

Called by God

“Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” Today we celebrate Priesthood Sunday. This is a special day the Church has set aside to honor the Priesthood.  Initially this celebration can sound a bit self-serving, until you look more closely to what the Church hopes to accomplish with this day.  

Today isn’t a priest-appreciation day; it isn’t a day about individual priests, but rather it is about the institution of the Priesthood and how central the priesthood is to our life of faith and how important the priesthood is to all Catholics. It is a day to remind all of us of our need to honor Christ as Priest. We who are priests merely serve under Christ, the one true priest. 

Think for just a moment: where would we be as faithful people without the priesthood? As Catholics, our spiritual lives are built upon the incredible, real encounters with God that we experience in the Sacraments. Jesus purposely left us these Sacraments and the priesthood so that we can know him, that we can follow Him, that we can experience Him until His return in glory. He left us priests to be the instruments that mediate those incredible, real moments with Him. We only have access to this Sacramental life – to these real encounters with God - through those God has called to be priests. 

So, why do we need to have a day in honor of the institution of the priesthood? Well, that should be obvious. Throughout the scandals of the last decade, the priesthood has suffered greatly. Now, please don’t misunderstand me – when priests or bishops, or anyone for that matter do things that are wrong, immoral and even illegal – they must be held accountable for those activities; they must pay the appropriate price for their wrong, but that’s not what I’m speaking of. 

We all know that in the last several years, instead of focusing on individual priests who have done these horrible things, too often we have blamed the institution of the priesthood itself. Throughout the scandal, the media have asked repeated uninformed questions suggesting that the scandal is somehow related to the very nature of the priesthood. Most often attacked is the priestly commitment to celibacy. All this despite the fact that even under the worst-case abuse scenario, you can be certain that more than 97% of priests have been faithful to their vows and their call. Add to this, vocations to priestly life have been on the decline for a few decades now. We may be approaching a time where even a weekly celebration of the Eucharist may not be possible in every parish. We need to be reminded of the importance of and need for priests in our parishes.

The question that I often am stuck with when thinking about the lack of priestly vocations is what can we do? Many of you know that, especially now as vocation director, it is my personal contention that there is no vocation crisis. Instead, the lack of priestly vocations is due to a few things. First, family size has greatly decreased over the last few decades. In 1960, the average Catholic family had three or more children. Today, the average Catholic family has one child. This means, simply, fewer people to become priests. 

And secondly, there is a crisis, but it is a crisis of vocation awareness.  We know that God is calling people to serve His Church as priests. God always calls more than enough for His people. So, the crisis we have is one of awareness. God is calling, but are people listening to that call, are they aware of God’s call in their life? Or are the other voices in the world drowning out that voice of God calling in the depths of their hearts?

We all have a role to play in this regard. It is the job of every Catholic to pray for and encourage vocations to the ordained life.  I’m sure we pray, but how often do we encourage?  Think in your own experience; have you ever said to a young person, “I think you’d make a good priest,” or, “I’m praying for your vocation,” or “Have you ever considered the ordained life?” More often, if someone expresses a desire to pursue a vocation, people are likely to say, “Why would you want to do that?” How will we have priests if we don’t teach our youth that this is a valuable way of life?  Just think of this small neighborhood alone.  The North End used to be a vocation factory.  Just think of the dozens upon dozens of priests that came out of this single neighborhood entering the Franciscans, the Scalabrinis, the Jesuits and the Diocesan priesthood.  This single neighborhood.

If we value the Eucharist; if we value the grace of forgiveness through Confession; if we value having someone at our bedside when we are near death to usher us into Heaven; if we value these and so many things – we need priests.  We all need priests.  Who will be the priests that bring us Jesus into the next generation?

I can tell you that there is nothing quite as incredible as being a priest – if it is what God is calling you to. Through this ministry, God gives you the chance to reconcile people, offer healing, preach His word, bring forth the Body and Blood of His Son. Each and every day of my priestly life is nothing short of miraculous - and most certainly not because of my actions, but because of Christ's actions through me as His priest. I am daily humbled by the way that God allows me – a weak, sinful man – to be in His presence as He mediates His grace to His people through my ministry. My brothers and sisters, think of the people in your life. Is there a young man you think would make a good priest? Pray for him. And just as importantly tell him.

St. Francis of Assisi provides us with an excellent example. In his day was also faced with scandal in the Church. But in the face of sinful individual priests, Francis encouraged everyone to never lose sight of the uniqueness of the priesthood itself, and its importance to every believer; and he encouraged priests to live up to their call. He wrote, “See your dignity, my brother priests, and be holy, because He himself is Holy. And just as above all others on account of this ministry the Lord God has honored you, in this manner also love, revere, and honor Him above all others…Let the whole man tremble with fear, let the whole world begin to completely quake, and let heaven exult, when upon the altar in the hand of the priest is Christ, the Son of the living God!”

My brothers and sisters, I want you to know how much I treasure the priesthood, not only because of the great blessings God has bestowed on me in my life through my own ministry as priest, but because as a fellow Christian, I need priests too – I need someone to reconcile me when I sin, to speak God’s words to me so that I may grow in faith, to heal me, to welcome me, to help me on my journey to Christ. We all need this.

Today, I thank each and every one of you for the honor of serving you as a priest and ask that we all, this day and every day, pray for priests, pray for the institution of the priesthood, pray that God will continue to call workers into his field.

May God give you peace.

Happy Saturday!

The aforementioned crumb cake donut.

Happy Saturday! Last night Hank and I went on a double date with Veronica and Trevor to watch Ghost Talks at the Prescott Center for the Arts. It's such a fun, spooky event the Arts Association has put on for the past five years and we had a great time. The theater is in a 1800s church and it's known to be haunted itself! The steeple of the church was actually struck by lightning twice and never rebuilt, and it was neat to hear about its history last night too. To appreciate the real beauty of the building though you have to go inside- it's gorgeous. I love seeing plays and shows there and last night was especially fun as we learned all about Prescott's ghost and legends, sipped hot apple cider, and enjoyed great company. Afterward we walked over to Prescott Station to grab something to eat. Hank and I ordered a few of their bite-sized desserts so split, included a chocolate chili brownie and a lemon tart. Delicious!

This morning we woke up a little earlier than usual to pick up donuts at our favorite local spot (see their world-famous crumb cake donut above) and get ready for my parents and sister to arrive. Once they get here we'll be heading downtown for our town's annual pumpkin festival.

Today's such a good day already- I'm loving October, and loving that there are so many fun things to do. I'm hoping we can squeeze in a little Hocus Pocus watching tonight before bed too Besides Rosemary's Baby, it's probably my favorite Halloween-time movie to watch.

This is a tiny post, but I just wanted to pop in quickly and say hello, and see what you all are up to! Do you have any fun plans this weekend? I'll be back tomorrow with some links to enjoy. xoxo

Literate & Stylish: Elisabeth of Manic Mrs. Stone

The premise of Literate & Stylish is simple, and the post is short but sweet- every Thursday I'll be showcasing a lovely lady and her favorite book. She'll share a few pretty photos showing off her personal style, along with her book of choice, and tell us why she loves it. 

from Elisabeth of Manic Mrs. Stone

Diet For a New America by John Robbins

Diet for a New America is the book that made me fall for one of the leaders of the food revolution - John Robbins (yes… I have a crush on a 64 year-old).  It became my favorite book almost immediately upon reading it.

John Robbins is the only son of Irv Robbins.  You know, of the Baskin-Robbins empire?  He grew up with the luxury of a huge home, an ice-cream cone shaped swimming pool, enough wealth to live however he pleased, and the promise of this entire empire that would be put in his name when the time came. But he left all this wealth to go out in search for his true and passionate purpose in life.  He believed strongly that food had a huge impact on health and couldn’t be a part of an industry with good intentions, but bad results.  That in itself is pretty much…wow.  I can’t help but admire a person like that.  

Diet for a New America was his first in a series of amazing and influential books.  It is a pro-vegan book that exposes the corporate takeover and corruption of the food industry as well as the pain and inhumanity we unknowingly inflict of other beings of this earth all while inspiring the reader to take more positive and healthful actions for themselves and their planet. There was very little I actually knew about these topics before reading this.  But this well-researched, passionate and revealing book has changed my perspective and my life.  I can’t help but feel inspired and motivated. 

Diet for a New America has been the spark that lit my passion for food revolution and activism.  John Robbins has a beautiful and powerful way of inspiring and encouraging a thoughtful way of living.  Even someone that has no interest in veganism or changing their current lifestyle would benefit from reading this (or watching the documentary made from the book…shhh).

see previous Literate & Stylish posts here. 
I used Amazon Affiliate linking in this post. To visit Amazon without my link, click here.  

How to Get to Sesame Street...

Growing up we didn't have cable. We didn't have Nickelodeon or MTV, HBO or the like. We did have those few basic channels though, which were just enough for my parents to always catch Seinfeld, fuel our TGIF Friday nights, entertain us with Saturday morning cartoons when Saturday morning cartoons were still awesome, and then of course supply us with PBS for all of our favorite shows.

My earliest television memories are a mix of Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, Mister Roger's Neighborhood, and 3-2-1 Contact. LeVar Burton and all of those amazing books were my world. I lived for the different stories I'd hear every time Reading Rainbow came on, my "to-read" list a mile long. I learned my ABCs from my parents and pre-school, but Sesame Street helped to reenforce all of those lessons every single morning. Mister Rogers and his always changing shoes and cardigan, Big Bird and his songs, the science projects on 3-2-1 Contact...these were all a huge part of my childhood.

It was a time when I'd measure time by my favorite shows. My "how long until we leave, Mom?" answered back with a variation of "one Sesame Street and one Mister Rogers honey." It was when I'd try and recite "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter" to myself to see if I could remember it too. It was Telly Monster and Grover, Oscar the Grouch and Kermit. It was the age of Lady Elaine and Daniel Tiger, of hearing that 3-2-1 Contact theme music and knowing I was about to learn something neat. It was seeing books come alive on Reading Rainbow and singing along while imagining that cartoon butterfly turning a scene out of my book into reality too. It's all of that and so, so much more.

So when I heard Mitt Romney say he wanted to cut funding for PBS, it upset me. While watching the debate I even stopped to rewind it, having a bit of a "say whaaat?!" moment. Let it be known that I am firmly in the Obama camp, but even so, after hearing this I knew I had to do some research before I totally and fully started disliking Romney more than I did. So I followed up, I watched him on The Situation Room, I realized that he meant exactly what he said. To be fair, I can understand where he's coming from, and I get the want (need) to cut the spending and borrowing. But it's beyond that.

Cutting PBS funding goes way past just taking away Big Bird. We all know Big Bird will be fine on his own. It's about taking opportunities away from areas that NEED that programming more than most of us can even comprehend. It's about taking that programming from rural areas where children may not get the same educational opportunities that kids in larger areas get. It's about taking that programming from kids who may not get to go to preschool, where the only "schooling" they might get as a toddler is in fact Sesame Street, or one of the other educational programs PBS offers. Yes, PBS will probably be fine if there was a cut in their funding. But things would absolutely change in how their service is provided, and I'd say it's safe to say that PBS would not be available to everyone if it was no longer a public access channel, as cutting funding directly affects those stations (some big, some small) that provide PBS to viewers.

I can't imagine a world without PBS and all of the wonderful people and things that were such a large part of my own development and growth. I think of Henry and our mornings- sitting around in our pajamas, eating breakfast while we watch Sesame Street. I think about the other day in the bathtub when out of nowhere he began singing a song about boats he had heard Grover singing that morning. And I think about watching Gordon talk to Elmo about how it's okay for boys to play with dolls- and watching them discuss gender roles and how it's okay to like what you like, regardless if it's a "boy" or "girl" thing. PBS is important. Education is important. And PBS is education for so many children. And although this may be a smaller issue than equal pay for women, a woman's rights to her own body, or marriage equality, in a way it could be just as big when you think about the ripple effect. Every action yields a reaction and quite simply, this will affect our children...and affect our children and you affect our future.

It's scary, really. I think about the bigger picture and it frightens me to imagine the loss of such a huge influence in so many kids' lives. I wholeheartedly hope PBS is always around and available to everyone, and I hope that every single child has the opportunity to visit the magical world of Sesame Street sometime in their lifetime too.

How about you? Did you grow up with Sesame Street and PBS? Did you have a reaction to Romney's statements? Or maybe you're on the opposite end of the spectrum- I'd love to hear from you too!

Our Sunday: Flagstaff, Trains, and Autumn Leaves

For the past week or so it's been all about trains in our house. Henry has been loving Thomas the Train and all things train-related, so Hank and I decided to take a little roadtrip up to Flagstaff to watch "Thomas and Friends" go by.

Whether you're a parent or not, I'm sure you can relate to having an expectation about how you want something to go, especially with little ones. In this case, I had this wonderful vision in my mind of sitting at the train station with Hank and Henry, sipping on a hot drink, and enjoying the rush and sounds of the trains going by. So much of that depended on so much; the weather, Henry's mood, and most of all, if and when trains were running. But I am so happy (and feeling so lucky) to miraculously report that my hopes for the day totally matched up to its reality. It was really a perfect afternoon, and Henry had the best time. We were able to sit outside the station for awhile and watch freight trains go by every 15 minutes or so. One of my most favorite parenting moments ever has to be watching Henry's face light up as he yelled "THOMASSSSSS!" as loud as he could when he first spotted it coming down the tracks. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that.

The rest of the day was filled with collecting leaves and rocks in the various spots we stopped to hang out, eating our favorite vegan treats and my favorite breakfast sandwich from Macy's, perusing a couple shops, and really just soaking up the beautiful weather. It was a wonderful Sunday full of family and fun, and we're already counting down to the Polar Express train ride in December.

Here are some photos from our day:

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