Day of Prayer 2011

St. John's Abbey, originally uploaded by AirXHockey

Matins - Just like last year, I set my alarm for 4:30 the night before my Day of Prayer. Unlike last year I packed early (no forgetting my wallet this year), woke up naturally at 4:28, and had a relaxed drive to St. John's. This set the tenor for the entire trip. Whereas last year the abbey was mysterious and even slightly ominous, this year it felt familiar and welcoming.

Prime - A beautiful, big, full moon lit up the drive. Since it was still early when I arrived, I parked and spent some time alone in one of the side chapels. The 7:00 prayers were refreshing. It was wonderful to be relaxed and comfortable this time around.

Terce - Last time there were five participants, which is a small, but typical group. This year we had twelve including Steve, who visits the abbey each month, and three women. After breakfast, Fr. Simeon Thole guided us through a discussion on Discernment of Spirits. Then we did lectio divina and split out for solitary prayer time. I had thought I might go for a run, but temperatures in the teens and bitterly cold wind discouraged that idea.

Sext - Midday prayer was another nourishing experience with the community. Lunch was excellent. Both years the food has been better than expected and the fresh-baked cookies in particular were heavenly. We did another group lectio--which Fr. Thole jokingly reminded us could also be "naptio" time--followed by one more hour of private reflection.

None - I lit a candle in front of the Mabon Madonna and did actually take a few quick naps while sitting there with my head bowed. Luckily I woke up in time to get back to the guesthouse for our closing group session at 3:00. Overall, another great day.

Born to run

It's been three weeks now since I began training seriously, and a little longer since deciding to run a half-marathon in the first place. So far it's going awesome! Every week I run a few more minutes than the last, and I'm feeling great; physically strong and mentally focused.

I don't tend to think of myself as an athlete. Then again I spent four months in Japan walking everywhere, and I did ride my bike to work one year with a 25 mile round-trip commute, so the potential is certainly there. Besides, both my brothers did track and field in high school, and my dad used to run 5- and 10Ks all the time. So you could say that running is in my blood.

I started a new page dedicated to running stuff. For the morbidly curious, I detail my exercise regimen, upcoming races, and some books I've been reading. That should help keep the main blog from becoming totally running-centric.

Daily Cross Hatch Guest Post

I tell you what webcomics to read in today's "lunch break" feature at The Daily Cross Hatch.

A chronological history of our houses

Plymouth Oaks, Plymouth
I moved to an apartment unit at Plymouth Oaks in 2004. Jenna joined me when we were married a few months later. We adopted Lola while we lived there too, so this first home was shared by all three of us. We escaped just in time: after we moved out, it was on the news several times for large, destructive fires.

Dayton's Bluff neighborhood, St. Paul
In 2005 we rented the ground floor of this Victorian home in St. Paul's east side. Living near the city was convenient but the neighborhood was, frankly, pretty sketchy. A dude tried to knock me off my bicycle two blocks away from here. But we mostly had the place to ourselves, and the empty lot next door for Lola to run around in. So overall, a step up from the suburban firetrap apartment.

Cathedral Hill neighborhood, St. Paul
The next year we signed a mortgage on a house in the opposite side of town. It was a nice little place on a busy corner in a decent-enough area. And it was Natalie's first home, so (even though she won't remember) it will always have a special place in our hearts. But, after a couple of years of living here, I was ready to throw in the towel and admit that I'd had enough of city life.

Krueger Historic Farmhouse, Carver
Which brings us up to the present. Last year we moved to our little slice of land in the country and not once have I regretted or second-guessed that decision. We are happy here. And if this is the last entry in the list, I will be satisfied.

V.D. Weekend

I don't know if it's the recent warm snap or what, but we are making a lot of food lately. My coworker gave me a bag of lemons last week. There's only one thing to do when that happens: make lemonade! Natalie helped juice and stir. I made some sourdough bread all by myself. The recipe works great, except that it's completely tasteless; maybe add some seasoning next time.

My parents took us out to dinner at The Marsh on Saturday night. I took Jenna to the spa there during our honeymoon so it was fun to go back. On Sunday after church I stuck around for the new members class. We've been attending the same church (warning! website makes noises) for a few months now and it might be time to make it official.

Monday was my 30th birthday. I went out to lunch with my coworkers at Matt's Bar for my first Jucy Lucy, a quintessential Twin Cities culinary experience. On my way home I picked up a bouquet and balloon for my girls. They both enjoyed their gifts (Natalie loves balloons almost as much as she loves cake). Jenna made stuffed noodles and tiramisu for dinner. It was a wonderful birthday weekend!

Stupor Bowl Weekend

I baked a pie. Jenna was gone shopping with her mom on Saturday morning and it struck me as a fun daddy-daughter activity. Neither of us had ever made a pie before, so it was a fun learning experience for both of us! Natalie helped me add ingredients, mix things up, and throw flour all over the kitchen. It turned out pretty well for a first-try pie, if I do say so myself.

We watched the first half of the Super Bowl together as a family. Whenever the Packers scored a touchdown I lifted up Natalie and swung her around in celebration. She enjoyed this thoroughly. Then it was bath time. Thanks to the magic of DVR I was able to put Natalie to bed, watch the entire game by skipping past all the commercials, and still enjoy the final decisive minutes in realtime with the rest of America.

p.s. go Pack go, Super Bowl champions, etc.

Chinese New Year

Natalie absolutely loves Ni Hao Kai-Lan, so there was no question we had to do something to celebrate Chinese New Year. I stopped at China Pagoda on my way home from work to pick up fried rice and cream cheese wontons. Yes yes, authentic Chinese cuisine.

Natalie decorated red construction paper with stickers and marker drawings. Then I folded, cut, and stapled them to make lanterns. Natalie helped fold. Jenna strung them along a ribbon. When we were finished, I hung them above the playroom door.

Happy year of the rabbit, everyone! Wikipedia says, "The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone." So, in the spirit of that Wikipedia page, may you go in peace.