Miriam is walking

On May 14th Miriam took her first real steps outside on the back patio at just under thirteen months. Before this she would do some lunging steps but nothing with any control. Over last weekend she practiced falling and getting up again; after a long raining Monday stuck inside the house she perfected her stride and walking is now her preferred mode of transportation. She loves picking up shoes, books, and other surprisingly large items and carries them around the house. Other new developments include her love of climbing—the coffee table, chairs, benches, anything available—Miriam wants to get up on top of it. Also with her ever improving coordination she seems to enjoy jumping around the bath. She loves taking a bath of any sort but if we fill our jacuzzi tub just enough that she can still catch herself with her hands, she seems to leap across the tub. She is also agile enough to try to get away when we come after her with a towel to end bathtime.

Miriam loves music and bops her head to anything from Gregorian chant to techno. Hopefully these skills will come in handy next weekend at her uncle’s wedding, where he has already claimed most of Miriam’s dance card.

Included in the new pictures are videos of the first few steps.

Miriam is one year old

Miriam turned one on Monday, April 19th.Over the course of two days many people helped Miriam celebrate her birthday. On Sunday several candidates were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at St Thomas More so we had a large party at our house for them and to start out the celebration of Miriam’s birthday. Over the course of the afternoon many people stopped by to congratulate the newly confirmed and the birthday girl. At one point there were five other babies under 18 months all playing with the Miram, each at a different stage of running, walking, standing, and crawling. Later in the day some cherry cupcakes arrived so we have some good pictures of the explosion that followed. Andy grilled chicken for the party, but Miriam probably enjoyed that more than any of her presents at this point – we have a seriously carnivorous daughter (this can be seen in the gallery as well)!

On Monday we continued the celebration at Maple View Farm, a dairy a couple miles from our house with a country store selling awesome ice cream on a porch with rocking chairs overlooking the fields. We invited friends to meet us there and everyone including Miriam enjoyed several ice cream cones.

In the last few months Miriam has grown and changed quite a bit. She had her checkup last week and registered the following: head 46cm weight 8.9kg height 75cm. She is doing well and has been given clearance for several foods that we have waited until after one year to give her, such as honey, nuts, and cow’s milk. Miriam has been eating many things these days and her favorites also include pear slices, and diced carrots. She will eat cheese and bread, but prefers the two to be melted together.
Miriam still relies on crawling to get around but she is an expert cruiser and pulls up everywhere to walk around. This weekend Miriam stood on her own for the first time and in the last few days she has gotten even more stable. For the last few weeks she has been pushing around a walker which has allowed her to get more steady on her feet and build some speed at times. She can let go of the coffee table or whatever item she has pulled up on or she can let go of our hands when we stand her up. Another favorite activity is to climb up into her small chair and then stand up against the back of the chair, making me quite nervous.
Because of the spring weather Miriam has had the opportunity to crawl around on the new grass in the pasture. She seems to enjoy watching us do our chores outside, especially watching the chickens around the yard.

Miriam becomes more vocal each day, and she enjoys reading herself books. She clearly says several words, including daddy, keekee (kitty), chk chk (chicken) and baby. Daddy usually means both daddy and mommy, and keekee means dog or cat, but chk chk is accurate at describing both our chickens running around in the yard and her favorite meat to eat. For the last few months Miriam has been more willing to sit still to listen to a whole book being read, but lately she has actually put a book into our lap or hands, which we assume is a hint for us to read it to her. By far her favorite story is still Sheep in a Jeep. Miriam has also started mimicking things we do, especially laughing when we laugh. She also has learned to say “oooooh” at everything she sees.

A View from the Upper Room

Easter fire, built and lit by Lee Casadthey entered the city, went to the upper room where they were staying…[and] devoted themselves with one accord to prayer (Acts 1:13, 14). This year I was able to convince my parents to spend Easter with us which was of course a great opportunity for them to spend time with their granddaughter but also gave us all the chance to devote ourselves to the prayer of the Church for the whole Triduum. Last year Frances spent Easter with us and so we continue the trend of gathering our dispersed families together for this central celebration of the entire liturgical year. Holy Week once again went beautifully at St Thomas More thanks to the efforts of the many prayerful and detailed people with whom I am blessed to work. We once again were moved from the intimacy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday through the pain of the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday to the brilliant new light and resplendent joy of the Mass of the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil. Three new Christians were baptized that evening which was the best birthday present a pastoral liturgist could ever desire. In addition, my Aunt MaryAnn and cousin joined us for this liturgy which I deeply appreciated.

LinusEaster itself was tinged with more than a little pain for Michelle and me due to the death of Linus, our beagle who had been our companion since we adopted him in 2005. For several months Linus had been dying of a throat cancer. We kept him comfortable during the weeks as he prepared for eternal rest although his breathing began to be quite labored by Good Friday. He was quite restless the night of Holy Saturday and so, having returned from the church around 2:30AM, Linus and I curled up on the back porch through the night with me fully expecting him not to see the night through. No more than a couple hours after I returned from the church Easter Sunday morning Linus peacefully died on the floor of our bathroom. Michelle and I buried him atop a hill overlooking our pond on the very day we celebrate the resurrection of the body with the hope that indeed all creation is groaning for liberation from suffering, fragility, and mortality (Romans 8:22).

Once again this year I lead the neophytes and other members of the parish in Going an Octave Deeper, an eight-day mystagogical catechesis during the Octave of Easter. Each evening of the Octave of Easter, beginning on Easter Sunday itself, we celebrated Evening Prayer (Vespers) which was followed by about an hour-long discussion of one of the symbols of the Paschal Triduum. Mystagogy is primarily the honeymoon for those baptized at the Easter Vigil but is a valuable opportunity for all the faithful to remember and unpack what we celebrated in the three days. The idea struck me when trying to figure out how to invite those baptized to share their stories of faith, to come to know the community more fully, and to deepen the experience of the liturgy for all. Based on the kind of mystagogical catechesis written by the Church Fathers and included as the second reading in the Office of Readings for the Octave of Easter I paired up the symbols; I continue to find it a rich opportunity for faith sharing during this eight-day retreat. This year our celebration of Evening Prayer was all the richer due to the cantors and instrumentalists from the St Thomas More choirs who lead us in song which made for fuller participation and each evening brought us right back to the Easter Vigil in sight, sound, and smell. For Michelle and me this celebration of the Octave of Easter is of particular importance not only for remembering the Paschal Mystery and our participation therein but also because last year it was during the second-to-last evening that Michelle went into labor.

Miriam with Dorothy WhelanDuring this week we spent a morning with Dorothy Whelan and her two daughters, Sheana and Kathy. Kathy and my mom were best friends growing up in Escondido and one another’s maid-of-honor, Dorothy and my maternal grandmother played cards together for decades, my parents had their wedding reception at the Whelan’s, and Dorothy and her late husband, ✝Ed, are my sister’s godparents. Sheana and Kathy now live in Chapel Hill and Virginia, respectively, with Dorothy moving between them, so it was something of a great four-generation family reunion. Later that day we attended the doctoral thesis defense of our friend, now Dr. Anne White, PhD. It was great to see her hard work pay off and certainly gave Michelle hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A colleague of Anne’s, Sabrina Anderson, who also recently completed her doctorate, came and set up two bee hives on our property to take advantage of the white clover coming up strong on the pasture. Sabrina had completed a bee-keeping program and had all the equipment but was looking for a place to locate the hives when, thankfully, Anne connected us. Throughout the rest of the week amid the enjoyable annual spring visits from friends and planning for pasture fencing my dad and I managed to completely disassemble and rebuild our chicken coop, which I am now calling an armored poultry vehicle due to the massively reinforced protection it will afford the chicks that will be arriving next week. Miriam also had an adventurous week that included her one year checkup, bouncing on inflatables at Duke’s grad parents’ event, and another go at the infant cognition lab.

ice-cream covered Miriam kissing her grandmaWe wrapped up the week with an enjoyable Second Sunday of Easter dinner at my cousin’s home in Linden, NC which included visiting the neighbor’s Belgian draft horses while on an off-road Jeep ride that also landed my second cousin and I stuck in a ditch. Before heading home my parents took Miriam and us to Maple View for her first ice cream in anticipation of her first birthday (post forthcoming) being celebrated this Sunday in conjunction with a party for those being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Nine Months

Michelle reading to MiriamLast year we spent so much time counting down nine months that it now seems strange that Miriam is nine months old. She had her nine month pediatric check-up today and now weighs over 18 pounds (8.27kg) and measures over 28 inches long (72cm), keeping with her trend along the 50th percentile for weight and 90th percentile for height and thus further confirming her likelihood for a propensity toward basketball sandwiched, as she is, between Duke and UNC. Since her last check-up Miriam has grown quite a head of hair and added two bottom teeth to her appearance. She eats most everything we have given her thus far. Her favorites include banana, pear, cheerios, and teething cookies. The last few weeks she has revolted against being fed from a spoon, so we have allowed her to feed herself cooked potatoes and carrots in diced form rather than mashed and she seems to get most of it in her stomach. She and Linus have seemed to have formed the bond which we predicted with Linus hovering under the highchair at all times awaiting Miriam’s casting down food from on high once she gets bored. Linus seems to especially appreciate that Miriam is now a carnivore and enjoys eating chicken. We finally have given her bread this last week which has proven to be a useful ability while out at friends’ houses or restaurants as we ordered a “side of toast” for her while out to lunch last Sunday that occupied her while we enjoyed our own sandwiches.

Michelle reading to MiriamMiriam’s mobility is ever increasing. She crawls at amazing speeds now and she pulls up everywhere possible including couches, chairs, coffee tables, and our legs. She even grabbed Linus’ collar and pulled up on him once while Linus was in a particularly clingy mood and wasn’t desperate to run away. She is just beginning to lean and step while up so walking probably will not be too far off. Going up steps is a new activity and just today she made it all the way to the second floor of our house unassisted but under very close, in fact coaxed, supervision. We haven’t worked on getting down steps quite yet. Miriam is beginning the transition from just eating books to actually reading them. She will often play with a book, turning the pages for quite some time. In addition she will actually sit still while we read a book to her although it still helps if we point to things on the page as we read, a technique we regularly use to successfully gets us through all three homiletic points during Mass.

Miriam is also becoming more vocal and expressive: her first syllables were da-da and joo-joo, but she utters ma occasionally and tees-tees. She has a sing-songy expression while she is playing and she still reserves her most excited shrieks for when the cats, dog, or rooster walk by.

Miriam has also been participating in a study at Duke’s Infant Cognition Center where she has spent much less time in front of the screens than I now have as they are also gathering data on parental numeric recognition.

As always we hope you continue to enjoy the constant stream of new photos of Miriam we post.

Christmas 2009

Miriam’s first Christmas with us and with her Aunt Anita began with our attending the Christmas Eve Mass at which Michelle played the handbells. Although only the first of five Masses in which I participated, the crowded liturgy went very well and Father Scott McCue’s homily offered great interaction for the children in attendance and spiritual insight for their parents as well. One of the great gifts of this Christmas was the welcome addition of a dismissal catechesis for the catechumens at the subsequent vigil Mass. Our pastor, Father John Durbin, also took the opportunity to explain the significance of the catechumenate to the whole assembly, his experience of spending time with these men and women the week before, and inviting catechumens from other parishes who might have been visiting Saint Thomas More to join with us in breaking open the word and reflecting on the Incarnation. The folks among whom I am blessed to minister deepened my experience of Christ making his dwelling among us through the faith stories they shared and I know the enrichment was mutual as I helped them to see their experiences as part of the whole Paschal Mystery that began with the birth of Jesus. I pray that many more at that Mass and even more at other celebrations throughout the world will open their hearts to recognize the longing in their hearts that is only fulfilled by resting in God.

When I finally made it home for the intermission before the Midnight Mass the Ghanaian feasting began! As mentioned previously, Anita arrived on December 11 and had been spending the last couple of weeks with us. As many of you may also know, Anita spent much of last year in Ghana with EAP—one of the great treasures of the UC. Anita had been commenting on the difficulty of finding West African cuisine since being back in the US and so I suggested that there must be somewhere in the Triangle that would suffice. After some internet hunting and a drive around Raleigh we located Afrika Exotik, a small grocery squished in the armpit of a strip mall between a night club and a panaderia that smelled more like fish than bread. Run by a Gambian family who stocked all the West African comestibles Anita had been craving as well as VCDs of Ghanaian, Senegalese, and Nigerian films Anita instantly felt right at home. Miriam and I perused the shelves as Anita bounced with delight filling her basket with cocoyam (taro) flour, palm oil, egusi seeds, and mysterious pepper all while texting her friends back in San Diego for their requests. The result was our consuming nearly a litre of palm oil over the course of the holiday as this thick red oil was used in the excellent groundnut soup served over fufu (sans the okra on the side) we had on Christmas Eve as well as the light soup we had the night before and the fried plantains and red red topped with gari served for Christmas dinner. Miriam too had a few little bites of plain fufu.

While Miriam of course did not understand the Christmas festivities she certainly did enjoy thrashing open some presents, hunting the cats when they attempted to hide from her under the Christmas tree, and playing with some fun new toys she received especially Hide ‘n Squeak Eggs, a bear that reads ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, a bouncy ball, and—what we hope to be a good omen—bedtime Curious George. Michelle and I were most excited about the new clothes for Miriam who grows ever taller and larger every day although our own presents of an equally practical nature were welcome indeed.

Though the sun has set on Christmas day as quickly (and early) as it arose the delight we had in a prayerful, tasty, and joyful Christmas still fills our hearts and has filled our albums with many pictures of this first Christmas with Miriam. Hodie Christus natus est, Alleluia! Hodie salvator apparuit, Alleluia!.

Advent 2009

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!

O Wisdom…teach us your ways

Miriam is bornAs we enter this last week of preparation for Christmas, the Advent hymn “O come, O come, Emmanuel” provides a great way for us to focus our hearts on the coming of God among all people. Each of the verses of “O come, O come, Emmanuel” echoes one of the early Christian “O” Antiphons sung for centuries at Evening Prayer (Vespers) on seven successive days beginning December 17 and leading right to the threshold of Christmas. When we join our voices with the anonymous monk who composed these “O” Antiphons and the countless men and women who in the midst of this darkest season have similarly expressed their longing for God to abide in their hearts we too have faith that Christ has shown us the path beyond death, is continuing to enlighten and sweetly reorder the world, and ultimately will establish his dwelling among us in lasting peace.

Throughout 2009 our life has been filled with countless opportunities to experience God of which the most profound has most certainly been the birth of our daughter, Miriam Eileen Casad, whom we welcomed on April 19. She has filled our life and our home with joy. While the headlines announce times of scarcity and rationing, Miriam has helped us to see with the eyes of faith that God has abundantly blessed all of us and that we, in turn, need to give as freely of ourselves as God has graciously given everything to us, including his Son.

O Lord and giver of the law…redeem us

Miriam in her baptismal gownThe names we have and the names we give are of great importance, indicating the fullness into which we are called to grow. It is our hope that Miriam, like her namesake the prophetess of the Exodus as a type of Mary, the Mother of God, will likewise lead the people of God in singing, dancing, and rejoicing in the wondrous deeds of the one who liberates us from slavery. The joy Miriam brought into our life on the day of her birth made concrete the Lord’s favor, as our daughter’s very presence echoes the joy that flows as a blessing from God to his people!

Surrounded by our parish community and many other friends we celebrated Miriam’s baptism on Ascension (May 25); our immediate families came from all over the US to take part in the joyous occasion as well. Miriam was reborn in Christ and subsequently clothed in a white baptismal gown which was also worn by Michelle, all three of her siblings, and Michelle’s mother and her siblings. She was covered in a bonnet made by Andrew’s great-great-grandmother Mottier in 1893; and swaddled in a new linen cloth beautifully edged and embroidered by a friend of ours as all assembled prayed that Miriam “See in her white garment the outward sign of her Christian dignity to be brought unstained into the everlasting life of heaven by the help of her family and friends’ word and example.”

O Root of Jesse…come and deliver us

Miriam delighting in LinusApart from the enormous changes in our lives as Miriam has blossomed much else that has rooted us here in North Carolina remains the same.

Michelle is finishing up her PhD in Cell Biology at Duke University. After a seven week maternity leave she has returned to the lab nearly full time. Michelle continues to play with the Saint Thomas More Handbell choir, including playing for Mass for her first Mothers’ Day a few weeks after Miriam’s birth. On a much sadder note, Michelle’s grandmother, †Ione Pellegrini, was born to eternal life on April 7. Though Miriam and Ione never met one another in this life, no doubt there was dancing in heaven when Miriam was born, fulfilling grandma’s constant asking for a great-grandchild.

Andrew is entering his fifth year as Director of Liturgy and Catechumenate at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church where he continues to orchestrate the worship life of the parish and oversee the process for those becoming Catholic–even in the midst of the expansive construction project currently underway. The position continues to allow him to further his education at professional conferences as well as to contribute to the ongoing formation of other parishes throughout the Diocese of Raleigh. In addition, he continues to teach online courses through the University of Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program.

O Key of David…open wide heaven’s gate

Miriam with Nonna and Grandpa Jim at the Durham Bulls baseball gameWe were expecting Miriam to be born sometime very close to Easter and Andrew kept having nightmares wherein he was standing at the baptismal font during the Easter Vigil just as we were blessing the new waters at the same moment Michelle’s water broke! Thankfully such anxious premonitions did not happen and Miriam was born on the last day of the Octave of Easter just as Andrew was finishing up with a final evening of reflection. The labor was, as Michelle puts it, fast and furious. Everything happened as planned and six hours later Michelle and Miriam were healthy, happy, and nursing.

In these first eight months of Miriam’s life she has had many key first moments. Of course Michelle and I took great delight in the first time Miriam smiled, sat up, rolled over, pulled up on the coffee table, crawled after Linus the beagle and our cats, started new syllables, and ate solid foods, the latter coming with increasing frequency given her very recent addition of a tooth. She enjoys being outside and watching the chicken and sheep.

We have also enjoyed introducing her to some our favorite events. While my parents and sister were visiting we all went to the Duke Lemur Center. Miriam was taken to her first baseball game by her Nonna and Grandpa Jim at the the Durham Bulls stadium. Miriam also accompanied Michelle to a Duke football game but was not a fan of the big plays and even bigger crowd reactions. She seemed to like swimming with her daddy in Hyco Lake during the annual Rockman Lab Lake Day. And of course Andrew took great pride in donning Miriam in her first Clan Buchanan mini-kilt from her Grandma Sue to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in the Appalachian highlands of western North Carolina. Thanks to an unseasonably warm Halloween, Miriam dressed as a cow and was able to participate in Chapel Hill’s (in)famous Halloween festivities.

Miriam is becoming a greeter at church where she has many avid followers of her development who seem to delight in the squeals and smiles she makes as everyone enters the church. No doubt she will continue in this role for some time, bringing joy to others even amid difficult times.

O Morning Star…enlighten those in darkness

Miriam in her Halloween dressHere in the darkest season of the year we are reminded that the Light of Christ pierces the darkness not only of the winter but also of our hearts, enlightening us with the hope by which we we are saved. Summarizing the Benedictus (Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79) sung each morning, this fifth “O” antiphon extols the “tender mercy of our God, the daybreak from on high to visit us.” The Lord’s coming is as certain as the rising sun at dawn, piercing the darkness and anxiety of all that holds us captive. Like Oriens, the Morning Star, Christ “guides our feet into the way of peace.”

Not merely a story that happened over 2,000 years ago, the infancy narrative of Jesus is a drama in which we are meant to see ourselves as players. At times we are John the Baptist, heralds of glad tidings, announcing by our words and actions the kingdom of God. At times we are Mary, the first Christian, who in humble obedience said “Yes” to the will of God for her life and in so doing became handmaiden to God’s reordering of the world. In all roles we begin by becoming a child in God’s care.

We, like John the Baptist, are a “little child…prophet of the Most High, sent before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation.” Michelle and I have come to experience deeply the monastic insight that comes from seeing the soul as the little child within each of us that must be similarly cared for as a newborn baby through our experience of giving Miriam a home, nourishing and nurturing her. As that which is similarly most precious and delicate our soul depends on the Lord to be fed and to be at rest, to be clothed and cleansed, and ultimately to find our purpose: “Like a small child against its mother, like a small child is my soul within me” (Ps 131).

We are invited in Advent to become like children, dependent on God alone by humbly recognizing our fragility and, emptied of our own ambitions, placing our soul at rest in God. We “pass from self to God by humility and the awareness of our smallness” and so are taken up into the infinite goodness of a God who goes to great lengths to reach out to us. As we invite the Morning Star to enlighten our hearts may we pray also that our hearts become a fitting home prepared to welcome the Lord to be born within us.

O King of nations…save all you have made

Andy with little lamb ram, SimeonAdvent further invites us to remember “that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Romans 8:22) awaiting the fulfillment of that which God intended from the beginning. The Lord who fashioned us from the earth has made us stewards of creation. Advent helps us see the connection between how we choose to govern our lives and the impact this has on the gift of creation which God has bestowed on all generations of humans throughout the world. As Pope Benedict has succinctly stated, “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation” (Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2010).

In Michelle and my continued commitment to simpler and more sustainable living–mindful of our role as stewards of the land–we have continued to build up our little farm. Our flock of Jacob Sheep continue to thrive: new lambs secure not only the protection of this heritage breed but also a plethora of cute photographs and plenty of wool for our use. We recently completed a pasture for rotational grazing of the sheep and as forage for future hives of honey bees. We may even add a milk cow! Our flock of free-range chickens gave us an abundance of eggs throughout the spring which was a welcome contribution to feeding our many guests. By next spring we hope to be harvesting fish from the earth pond we constructed about two years ago.

Although the rampant deer population and our overcommitted schedule have prevented us from planting our planned biointensive garden and fruit orchard, we continue to be involved with local sustainable agricultural endeavors through our CSA subscription, workshops Andrew attends, and sharing our insights through the ministry of the Environmental Stewardship Committee at Saint Thomas More. Rounding out the self-sufficiency project thus far, Andrew continues to brew his specialty mead as well as an occasional beer.

There is certainly much more we can do to care for the environment with which we’ve been entrusted and hope daily scrutiny furnishes more ideas and banishes any complacency. All of these help us to take time to bless the Lord, the God of all creation through whose goodness we have such fruits of the earth and by whose grace we can offer thanks for the work of our human hands.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,

the hope of nations and our Savior:

come and save us, O Lord our God!

Miriam at the Twelve Days of Christmas at the Carolina Inn ringing handbells with the Chelsea ChimesThe forthcoming joy of God making his dwelling among us, dispelling the darkness of sin and death, and giving us hope by which we live anew is doubtless the dominant theme of Advent. But it is no mere coincidence that “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” comes in a minor key. While the reign of God is inaugurated by the Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas, we do not have to look very far to see that the world is hardly perfect. Like an expectant mother awaiting the birth of her child, we can experience in the present moment the real joy for which we have been yearning and yet we are anxious for the day when the fullness of the Lord‘s plan will be realized, restless about the trials that lay ahead, and knowing there is more out there.

We see every day in our lives that the world needs redeeming. We know that we need saving from that which blocks us from growing into our full potential. With Christmas the sure and certain hope of salvation is what is born among and within us. Let us rejoice in that hope, take courage, and strive to be worthy stewards in that kingdom that is being raised up in our midst!

Bringing Miriam home was just the beginning of a lifetime commitment to accompany her on the journey that has been set before her. Many trials will cross her path and ours but we are confident that she will conquer those challenges. Each Advent we are reminded that our lives are no different than Miriam’s. We are just beginning to crawl in the way of faith. Each set back, each tumble that leaves us crying, becomes an invitation to find both consolation and encouragement in the loving arms of a God who has entrusted us with the stewardship of his kingdom, to ensure not only that it does not die but also that it continues to blossom, shine forth, and grow in our hearts and the hearts of all.

Miriam, Michelle, and Andrew at Hyco Lake Miriam climbing the stairs Miriam practicing harmonica with her daddy
Miriam in the highchair with lobster Miriam with her Grandma and Grandpa Casad before her baptism Miriam in her Clan Buchanan kilt at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

"Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!"

Miriam riding MichelleZephaniah’s announcement proclaimed this Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, takes on extra special meaning this year:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
   Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
   O daughter Jerusalem!

Miriam is now eight months old and, though not yet singing, certainly does her fair share of joyful shouting.

Miriam riding MichelleSince our last update Miriam has begun uttering syllables, enjoys pulling up on furniture, and has started cutting some teeth. She is rapidly crawling everywhere and has begun trying to climb stairs. She delights in these ventures most especially when chasing Linus and the cats that results in some of those aforementioned shrieks of joy. In the past month her firsts have included playing Cranium on Thanksgiving, being transfixed by Aztec dancers for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and accompanying me to a harmonica lesson. We spent Thanksgiving with my Aunt MaryAnn, cousins, and their children. Michelle’s sister, Anita, arrived this weekend and will be spending Miriam’s first Christmas with us. With the many Masses Miriam and I have been attending during these holidays I have found that Miriam indeed joyfully sings as one at festivals particularly when entering the church, seemingly greeting everyone else entering. For those keeping track, Miriam weighs in at precisely 18 pounds which will no doubt continue to increase as she is now willingly eating many fruits and vegetables.