4 posts categorized "Religion"

May 06, 2010

First Communion and a little surprise...

After close to 9 months of preparation, Kelsey made her First Communion on Saturday.  The parent meetings, retreats, the Reconciliation, family lessons at home, the hunt for the dress, rehearsal, and many random discussions led up to the ceremony on Saturday afternoon.  Despite my fears something (anything) would go awry, the day seemed to flow smoothly from one event to the next.

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In atypical Jen fashion, I actually thought ahead and not only had Kelsey's hair appointment (for a cut) early in the week, but planned to have her hair done at the salon the morning of the First Communion. We need only show up with the dress in hand (the veil was already there) and Kelsey relaxed while Daniella worked her magic. I was able to relax, take photos, and not stress out over the fact that I was not able to get every hair perfectly in place.  Much more fun for all involved!

Once Kelsey's hair was finished, she donned her dress and tights, and slipped into her shoes.  Daniella's next client oohed and aahed over her as we exited the salon, and we hurried home so that I could get into my Sunday best.

We had a small window of time before we needed to be at the church, so Kelsey, in all of her finery, and Nicholas were able  to Skype with Grandpa and Nonni Dinoia while I got ready.  Grandpa Kirk, who had flown in from Tennessee (and missed the terrible rains and flooding throughout the state), picked up a last minute necessity for Kelsey, and we headed to the church.  Since there were so many First Communicants, there were 7 ceremonies spread out over three weekends. Not only did this prevent overcrowding, but gave each family had their own pew at the ceremony, and views were rarely obstructed.

IMG_3373 IMG_3376 We arrived in a timely manner, took a few photographs, dropped off Kelsey in the bride's room, and waited for it to begin.  And?

It was beautiful and touching.  We had thought during rehearsal that the directions were a bit much, but all of the rehearsing paid off and there was nary a hitch.  Despite the many directives the children had to learn in a short time, the mass seemed to flow smoothly.  We were lucky enough to have the Children's Choir singing for the ceremony (not all will have the choir present) and the special surprise?

IMG_3386 Caitlin and her friend were cantors for the ceremony.

The Children's Choir director had written to me a few weeks before to ask if Cait might be able to cantor for two of the three ceremonies on Saturday.  I gave permission, but realized that Cait might balk if her nerves got the best of her.  I was so grateful that she not only didn't hesitate, but embraced the challenge, and sang with all of her heart on Saturday.  I had so hoped that somehow Cait would be able to contribute to the ceremony, but had never imagined that sort of participation.  

IMG_3413 It was truly a family event, as unlike my First Communion, or Cait's, for that matter, both parents accompanied the child to the altar.  When it was time for the children to receive the bread for the first time, all of the communicants and parents were on the altar together, forming a giant horseshoe (photo ops were minimal at best).  We received communion together, listened to the children sing as a group, and then were dismissed after a hearty congratulations.

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We were lucky that not only were two of Kelsey's friends (and their families) were able to attend, but that she was in the same ceremony (and across from) another schoolmate/CCD friend, Anna.  We ended up merging our post-ceremony celebrations in quiet alcove at a local restaurant, and the girls were thrilled to have so many friends with whom they could share their day.  Considering how our next few weeks may be a bit hectic, it was quite a relief to spend the afternoon enjoying a leisurely dinner with friends and family.

May 02, 2010

Lunch with Guy

Guy is Grandpa, at least for the moment in this house.  Grandpa arrived Thursday afternoon in order to attend Kelsey's First Communion, and Nicholas immediately dubbed him, "Guy."  Guy is quite the term of endearment, used for the person who drives his toy trucks, for Kelsey's swimming teacher (real name: Brian), for the garbage man (on a pedestal in Nicholas's eyes), and the person who steers the fire truck that seems to whizz past us almost daily.  It's quite the catchall term, and apparently much easier to say than Grandpa.

While much of our work for this special weekend was completed early on, I had a terrible time deciding on a gift.  Once I figured out something meaningful, but not overwhelming, I needed to find a store that might offer such an item.  I was really hoping to find an independently owned shop that might have a larger selection of unique jewelry or books that might not be highlighted in larger bookstores.  Nothing off the wall, but I love supporting local businesses, and an extra bonus if they are remotely free-trade and/or eco-friendly. 

I heard of a local store, Sagrada, in Oakland, and could tell from their web-site that they had a large religious/spiritual selection.   Having not been to Oakland too frequently (other than the zoo, science center and airport), I figured a trip to the store would give me a chance to explore a bit more.  We decided to go Friday morning, and headed west on a gorgeously clear and sunny day.  Ideally, we would have taken the Bart, but opted to drive as we had to be at school for pick-up by 2:30 p.m.

IMG_3318 IMG_3320 IMG_3323 The shop is located on Telegraph in the Temescal/Telegraph neighborhood.  Parking was a bit tricky, but we found a spot and walked half a block to the store.  It was everything I had hoped for and more...spiritual, but in many directions.  While they had a healthy section for the celebration of First Communions, it could be said there was something for everyone no matter what their belief.  I found the key gift for Kelsey and a few cards for other cousins also making their First Communion.  Dad and Nicholas also explored, finding a crayon table (key for the younger set) in their small, but well-stocked children's section, and a water-go (in this case, a fountain).

IMG_1820 IMG_1814 Dad made a few purchases, and we realized we had just enough time for a sit-down lunch.  Our only problem was deciding where to go. Everything along the block whet our appetites, and after a bit of discussion, we settled on Ethiopian at Asmara.  It was a simple, but charming restaurant.  We were promptly seated and took entirely too long to decide on a meal.  We ended up sharing a beef entree and vegetarian combo of red lentils, yellow lentils, mustard greens and veggies.  It was served with generous amounts of injera bread and salad. 

IMG_3328 IMG_3329 The lentils were smooth, but flavorful and the mustard greens were finely chopped and just a bit spicy.  I also opted for steamed milk with honey, the perfect accompaniment for my meal.  Nicholas asked for a fork at first, but once we explained that they weren't necessary, he dove in and alternated between eating with his fingers and utilizing the bread.  Dad also got into the spirit of things, and we before long the tray was nearly empty.

We couldn't stay for dessert, as the school day was almost over, and we still had rummage sale stuff drop-off (a whole car load!), choir practice (and extra practice for Cait), as well as our first cook-out of the year on the to do list.  I really wished we had more time to explore, though, as it was a neighborhood full of unique shops and eateries that I now regret not finding sooner.

February 03, 2010

Nicholas and I are watching the same TV shows...

and I'm liking them*.  No, I am not crazy, just a bit weary with the single-parenting gig.  No worries, nothing major, just still have to work on that whole 'finding time to sleep' business.

I have been a bit preoccupied with, well, everything these last few weeks and somehow completely ignored upcoming celebrations for the kids that need attention. Let me rephrase that:  not ignored, just didn't give as much focus to the planning of the events as I should have.

Scan0006Kelsey's Reconciliation is next Thursday, February 11, and guess what I just remembered?  Her Love Bag.  Yes, Love Bag, hold the chuckle, I am utterly serious.  Rather than try to send an email and worry about leaving someone out, I have uploaded a photo that describes the Love Bag and what is needed.

You can read through, but it is to be a simple gift bag filled with loving notes for the child receiving the sacrament.  No toys or games, but obviously religious objects (small, it's the size of a lunch bag) are fine.  Everything you need to know should be in the letter and I know Peter will love reading about this (hi, sweetie!) since I haven't even remembered to tell him about it (the bag, not the event), much less forward the information (here you go, honey!).

So aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors (current/former from 2 states and 3 countries..), "sends" (Remember those?  No, that's not a tear...), you are all welcome to send something.  Of course nothing is required, and it will not be empty if you don't participate...but if you know Kelsey...you know she will really, truly, deeply appreciate anything you have to say.  

In case you are wondering, she does not read the blog, and is more likely to figure it out if I forget to stash everything away..  However, any questions should probably be directed to one of us, if need be.  Or maybe just Peter...my mind is a bit weary...3 days, 23 hours, and two minutes til we have our family back together.  Not a moment too soon in any of our opinions.

*Come on Shannon, don't let me down!

November 05, 2009

First Communion

It seems like Caitlin just had her ceremony, and already Kelsey has begun preparations for her special celebration in the spring.  Of course, prior to the First Communion, is the Rite of Reconciliation, which already seems to be more of an undertaking than with Caitlin.  I am not sure why, but it is much more of a process here than it was in Iceland.

IMG_1286 IMG_1285 Perhaps it is the change in the scenarios:  when Caitlin made her First Communion, we attended the church on base in Keflavik.  Nearly all of the preparations were made during the CCD classes.   The teacher sent home a packet of prayers (oh, the nights of Caitlin nervously working on them...), but no hand-outs for the parents, no workbooks tailored to Reconciliation itself, and no retreat.  Tuesday evening, at the first parent meeting, I received not only a 3 page hand-out regarding the entire process, but a book for the children, and a periodical for our use. I have to say that I feel more confident having the extra information and material to work with, but  I don't remember going through any of the same when I was a child.  Perhaps it is timing, and not the church or program?

There were also many other differences, the primary one being the distance to the church.  Here we can swing by at a moment's notice, whereas even CCD at St. Michael's required a 1.5 hour round-trip. More importantly, we had to build in extra time for Cait, given that the motion sickness was far more prevalent then (and she was NOT reading in the car all of the time back then).  Even on the cold, dark Icelandic winter mornings, the poor thing was ill for at least half of the trips out there and back home.  I am pretty sure only a nap staved away sickness, and that could not be counted on most times.

2006-119Considering that we have weekly CCD lessons, church, parent meetings, workbooks, and two separate retreats (one for Reconciliation, one for First Communion), I must admit I am quite glad we could walk to church if necessary.  I am also quite happy to announce that I may have (at long last) found a regular babysitter that will not break my wallet.  Given that it appears I will be doing all of the Reconciliation work with Kelsey by myself, I think that is going to be a lifesaver.

As it turns out, Peter will miss everything that has anything to do with the process.  He missed Tuesday night's informational meeting (no big deal), but will likely be away for any other meetings, the retreat, and Reconciliation itself (kind of a bigger deal).  The bright spot?  He will definitely be there for First Communion, which is right now slated for either May 1 or May 8. Supposedly one gets to choose which date, but that remains to be seen.

The reason for two days of ceremonies?  The sheer number of children making their First Communion.  Not only are there two separate days, but there are three separate ceremonies on each day!  I remember having a big First Communion, but this just seems overwhelming.  Cait's entire CCD class had maybe 12 children.  The ceremony itself was intimate yet, having followed a brunch that morning for all of the First Communicants and their families.  Given there are several CCD classes per grade here, well, a bit of a shock to the system. I have a feeling if there is a brunch, it will be a cozy family event we have at home.

 I haven't mentioned as of yet, but of course, we will welcome any family and friends who want to visit.  Especially given that we are not going to be in the California area much after that, a good time to stop by if you haven't already.  Where to next, you ask?  Still working on that one, *sigh*.