My Old Lady Lent and Italian Easter

Happy Easter! I hope everyone had a penitential 40 days and is reveling in the Easter octave (every day this week is a first class feast)! After a Lent sans sweets, meat, dairy, wine, olive oil, and the ever popular fish with backbones my digestive system is in an uproar with the introduction of so. much. cheese.

Several things of note happened since my last post. The biggest was my trip to Kansas City, MO and Des Moines, IA to speak. (For the record, since I knew my hosts would be treating me to some lunches and dinners, I did not strictly follow my Lenten fast. But if anyone wants to know a good place to get a tofu teriyaki bowl in Overland Park, KS I can hook you up.) I flew into Kansas City on Monday, March 6 and was immediately confused because the city’s new airport had just opened up that week and I had no idea where I was meeting my Uber. I kept walking through the terminal thinking, “I don’t remember any of this at all!”, but thankfully my Uber driver messaged me where I needed to go, and explained that, no I wasn’t crazy. The old airport (which I immediately recognized as we drove past) was over there, and I was indeed in somewhere completely new.

I have a cousin in Kansas City, and I was able to meet up with him and his family for dinner which was nice. I also had some down time to finish working on my talks for the week. Fulton’s nurse had COVID the week before I left, so all the time I assumed I’d have to work on things evaporated as I focused on his schoolwork during the day (since there’s no replacement nurses and he can’t go to school without a nurse). My first talk was Tuesday evening for special needs parents (after being treated to a dinner of Kansas City BBQ). It was such a great experience (the speaking and meal). I really enjoy connecting with other parents. Wednesday morning I spoke to students at an all girls Catholic high school about abelism and inspiration porn. It was my first time doing a classroom presentation (with Powerpoint slides!) and I was nervous, and of course there were technical issues (“Our school’s smart-boards don’t work with Macs.”) but we had some great discussions and I really appreciated the feedback from the students. I would happily give the talk again. After that I drove to Des Moines and met with the event organizers for dinner Wednesday evening. A snow storm moved through the area on Thursday, so my morning presentation was moved online. I went to the diocesan offices downtown and gave a talk to catechists via Zoom about how to work with special needs parents to create more inclusive parishes and religious education programs. We did break out session with questions and I learned so much from the catechists. It was a great back and forth exchange of information. Thursday evening, I spoke at a parish to another group of parents, both in-person and online. Despite the weather, there was a good turnout of parents, and again, it was such a grace filled experience. I sold and signed books, and was always flattered when someone had already purchased and read my book and had kind words to say about it. My book will never be a best seller, but its already done so much more than I could ever have hoped; I’m so glad I sent it out into the world. Now, if everyone could please stop asking me when I’m going to write another one…

I came home hoping to catch up, which is sort of comical because I don’t think I’ve ever been “caught up” in my life. A monkey wrench was thrown in our family plans when the wheelchair lift on our van broke, and took three weeks to get fixed. Then a week after we got it back, our drive train broke on our way home from the movies (the same problem that stranded us on our return from FL.) Once again we were reminded why the location of our new home is so ideal. We were able to walk to Mass every Sunday, and the boys didn’t need to miss any appointments at CHOP because we could walk to the train station and take it into Philadelphia. Everything is working now, and hopefully continues to do so. Our goal is to try to make the van last another year before purchasing a replacement.

Our magnolia tree in bloom. Spring is here!

As for Lent, the Orthodox style fast went better than expected. I found it easier to adhere to then a Whole 30, and it was even easier than a traditional Roman Catholic fast. When I can eat meat for only one meal a day, it means I need to plan meatless lunches and often, dinner leftovers go to waste. But eating the same foods all Lent meant we could eat dinner leftovers at lunch and I didn’t need to plan anything additional. I think also in the past, I tried to use Lent as a way to EAT ALL THE VEGETABLES, which usually just meant lots of salads. But salads aren’t very filling. Using the Fasting as a Family Cookbook, I created filling meals based on grains, beans, and lentils that stuck to my ribs and helped me refrain from snacking. Everything we made in that book turned out much better than I expected. But that doesn’t mean I want to go vegan or anything. While the food was good, there were many times that, while I was full, I wasn’t satisfied. My lentil taco was tasty, but, I really wanted one with ground beef. The cashew cheese sauce went really well on noodles, but I missed the cheese. So, eating this way was still a sacrifice, even if it wasn’t quite the struggle I anticipated.

However, God has a way of “customizing” your Lent for you. I went into this year, and this Lent, wanting to focus on my spiritual health, and try to view any eating habits in terms of how they could benefit me spiritually, where as previously, it’s been easy for me to focus solely on the health or weight loss benefits, evening during Lent. However, I had some “older woman’s issues” pop up unexpectedly that caused me to focus on my physical body more than I intended. I reached a point where I had to consider whether it was healthy for me to keep the fast. I felt bloated and nauseous and had to force myself to eat anything. I was unable to stick to my usual exercise routine due to fatigue and discomfort. I spent lots of time worrying, and also realizing I *am* getting older and accepting the changes that come with that. It was/ is a small cross to bear in the grand scheme of things, but it was not on my radar at all when Lent started. I think having a better prayer life in place has helped me remember to offer it all up and not be caught up in things as much as I might have been otherwise.

You’re never too old to decorate Easter eggs.
Buona Pasqua!

We had a nice Easter. Addie was not able to come home for spring break or Easter, but we’ve done video calls and I look forward to having her home for the summer. Byron was home, and I planned and Italian inspired Easter feast, which wasn’t too different from what we’ve done previously, except I had more pasta, a savory Easter pie, and roasted artichokes (which were a big hit), in addition to our usual lamb, mashed potatoes, lamb gravy with brandy, fruit salad, homemade cannolis, and Colomba cake. My friend joined us again this year, but we didn’t have any other family with us. I was glad our van was fixed so we could attend Easter mass at our parish.

Here’s our family photo! Since Addie couldn’t be with us, we left a spot open, and then I seamlessly added her to the shot with my professional quality photo editing skillz.

That’s probably enough of an update for now! Hopefully the weather is as beautiful where you are, as it is here in NJ! A trip to Ocean City is in the works for tomorrow, and the windows are open in the house! I finally got a lounge chair for our patio and I’m like a cat in the sun every afternoon waiting for the boys’ bus to get home (plus, it’s the perfect place to say a rosary).


  1. Loved the “seamlessly added shot with my professional quality photo editing skillz”…
    You did great. 😉
    Seriously though, what a beautiful family and I’m so glad you all had a happy and blessed Easter. Thanks for all you do to inspire special needs parents. I listened to a podcast you were on recently and felt so much better about my crazy insane life.

  2. Also, why does no one talk about “older woman issues?” This is worse than breastfeeding, which I also assumed would go seamlessly and not really be an issue because women have been doing it since the dawn of time and no one had ever told me otherwise.

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