Break

Keep calm and wait … what?

If you hadn’t noticed, things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t plan to take a break from blogging, but it happened anyway.

And that’s okay.

We need breaks from time to time. We need to relax, to take some deep breaths, and to recharge. We need to try new things, and experience new experiences.

Above all, we need to live.

It’s so easy to get lock into writing. To focus on word counts and deadlines. It’a even easier to get caught up in the business of writing. To spend more time on social media trying to be heard above the din of voices.

We spend so much time on output, we forget about input. Reading a book, taking a walk, singing, or  playing a musical instrument. Talking to our friends, engaging with our partners, or playing with our kids. And then we wonder why the output stops.

No input, no output.

No living, no life.

That’s why we have to take breaks, and that’s why the blog has slowed down and why it will pick up again once I am filled.

Five Minute Friday

And this week, a two-for one (to catch up with both online communities):

Cheerleaders of Faith

Advent is Here

Advent candle

Tonight, we’ll resume our yearly Advent tradition and light the first candle on our family Advent Wreath. Anna has asked to help lead the prayers this year, and I think she’s ready.

I will begin as always by saying my favorite Advent candle-lighting prayer, which is also the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent in the Episcopal Church (my former church) …

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Then we’ll light the first candle, and she’ll read the prayer for the First Sunday of Advent …

All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the Kingdom of Heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever. Amen.

Some of you may recognize this as the old translation of the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, that was superseded by an updated translation in 2011. While the new version is more accurate, and at times more eloquent, this is the one from my copy of A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions that we’ve used since Anna was a baby. It will also be easier for her to read.

Then we’ll read the Gospel for this Sunday, and say the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary to conclude our prayers.

Where I Belong

Heceta Head lighthouse and cove

Photo: Anna Ozab

When I’m on the Oregon Coast, I feel like I belong there.

I love the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean. I love the beautiful rock formations, the stunning cliffs, and the cold wind. I love the wildness of the beaches, so untamed compared to the tidy and overcrowded stretches of hot sand in Southern California.

I love the lighthouses. I’ve visited all eight on the Oregon coast, and several in Washington as far north as Puget Sound. I own a collection of lighthouse figurines made by a regional artist—one for every beacon I’ve visited.

I love the coast and I got to spend the last four days there. Now that I’m home, I miss it but I realize that I don’t belong there.

I belong here, in Eugene, with the fans running throughout our apartment to keep cool as the temperature climbs closer to 90°. I belong here at my laptop typing these words. I belong here, with the laundry laid out on the bed waiting to be put away.

Why? Not because of Eugene, with all it’s quirky charms, or because of the heat that I’d rather do without, or because of laptop that I barely opened in the last week, or the laundry that I’ll put away eventually.

I belong here because Julia and Anna are here. We were together on the coast and now we’re together at home.

And wherever they are, that’s where I belong.

Five Minute Friday

Bloggerhood Etc. 6/9/14

DDAY/

Photo: Reuters

Last week marked the 70th Anniversary of D Day. This means that the Second World War is as distant an event to my daughter as the Civil War was to my parents. That’s kind of mind-blowing, isn’t it?

On to the best of the week …

Best Photoblog.D-Day Landing Sites Then and Now” by Charlotte Meridith and Elliot Wagland at Huff Post UK.

Best Dad Post.That Telling Moment” by Bill Peebles at ihopeiwinatoaster.

Best Hack.LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders” by Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker.

Most Truthful.If Strangers Talked to Everybody Like They Talked to Writers” by Lincoln Michel at Electric Lit.

Most Inspiring.Every Brave Breath” by Randi Bjornstad in The Eugene Register Guard.

Most Thought Provoking.What Both Sides Completely Miss in the Abortion Discussion” by Benjamin L. Corey at Formerly Fundie.

Best Dystopia.All is Lost: In the Season Finale of of NBA Y2K We Bear Witness to the Slow, Miserable Death of Basketball” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Best Special Needs Post.Special Needs School of Life—Just Keep Going” by Gillian Marchenko at Not Alone.

Best Parenting Post.30 Things I’ve Learned in 18 Years of Parenting Boys” by Alexandra Rosas at Scary Mommy.

Best Poem. Dolorosa” by Boze Herrington at Sketches by Boze.

Most Heartbreaking.Empty” by Alise Chaffins at Knitting Soul.

Most Informative.Your Family Tree Explained” by CGP Grey (via You Tube).

Which makes everybody my cousin? That was easy!

I am Grateful

Julia and I kiss Anna after her first communion.

Photo: Olga Burgess

It’s been a very busy and very emotional week, and as it comes to a close I have a lot to be grateful for.

I am grateful that Anna received the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I am grateful that Anna’s Godparents could make the drive up from Sacramento for her First Communion Mass on Saturday, and that we got to spend the day with them.

I am grateful that Julia’s “medical procedure” was successful, and that—following her recovery—she will free from the chronic pain that she has suffered with for the last year or so. (Out of respect for her privacy, that’s all I am saying.)

I am grateful for all those who have prayed for her and continue to pray for her recovery.

I am grateful that the dark cloud that has hung over my own head for the last year may finally be receding. I am grateful for those who have helped. (Out of respect for my own privacy, that’s all I am saying.)

I am grateful that we have people to turn to when we are in need.

I am grateful that Julia’s mom is close by and always willing to help.

I am grateful that Anna is happy at school, and she has a teacher who cares enough to both challenge and support her.

I am grateful to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country—even when it rains.

I am grateful to God for every blessing in my life.

Five Minute Friday

Cheetah Cubs, One Year Later

Sleepy Cheetah Cub (Photo: Julia M. Ozab)

Photo: Julia Ozab (May 5, 2012)

We saw them last year as cubs during our visit to Wildlife Safari. Now they’re almost full-grown and we got to see them again at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon as part of last Saturday’s animal-themed Family Day.

Cheetah on a bench

Photo: Julia Ozab (May 18, 2013)

Julia took the pictures on our iPhone through a window while it was raining. Not the best circumstances, but you can see how big they’ve gotten.

Cheetah closeup.

Photo: Julia Ozab (May 18, 2013)

We hope to see them at again at the Safari soon. In the meantime, here’s the three-part travel post I wrote about the park last year.

Plus galleries by Julia and Anna.

What’s in a Name?

Anna's Christmas stocking (closeup)

Photo: Julia Ozab

In the case of our daughter, Anna, quite a bit.

We named Anna after her great grandmother. It was a name that Julia had always liked: it was her confirmation name and was always in the back of her mind as a name to use when she had a daughter of her own.

Julia has big family and every time a new niece was born she feared the name Anna would be claimed, but it wasn’t. And so after we were married and got around to the subject of baby names, she had a girl name already picked out: Anna Marie.

Not only was her grandmother named Anna Marie, her mom is Kathleen Marie, and she is Julia Marie. When our Anna first found out she shared a middle name with her mom and grandma she figured that everyone in the family had the middle name Marie:

“So Anna,” Julia asked. “What’s your dad’s name?”

“David Marie?”

“No,” I said laughing. “My middle name is Grandpa Lloyd’s first name.”

“David Grandpa?” She laughed too. She knew I meant “Lloyd,” but she’s always had a silly sense of humor.

The name Anna Marie had associations for me too. Both Ann and Mary are common names in my family: my mom’s mother was named Mary, as was her oldest sister, and she also had a sister and a niece named Ann. She liked the names so much that she named our cat Maryann in their honor.

And there’s the Virgin Mary and her mother St. Anne (Hannah in Hebrew, and Anna in both Greek and Latin). Both saints figure significantly in Christian salvation story (particularly for Catholics) and having them paired as a first and middle name inspired a baptismal gift for my daughter: the icon of Saint Anna and the Theotokos (the Mother of God) that now hangs in her bedroom, along with an icon of the Guardian Angel and a crucifix.

The same crucifix that was placed on Great Grandma Anna’s casket at her funeral mass, and that we’ve now passed on to her great granddaughter.

Along with her name: Anna Marie.

Today, the Western Church celebrates the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne. Catholics call it the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, while Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics call it The Conception of the Theotokos (or The Maternity of Holy Anna), and celebrate it one day later. The feast inspired both the above post and the musical selection for today:

December 8

 Advent calendar graphics by Oh My Gluestick. They are intended for personal use only and may not be used commercially.