Friday, September 13, 2019

Adventures in new school routines and last minute restaurant dancing...

Well, it may not be pretty, but I'm makin' it. 😂 The weeks are long right now, but we're getting there. Let's settle in for a drink!


I've lived through another week, which these days, is an enormous accomplishment. I feel like this each day lately when I get up in the morning:


Life is a marathon right now, but I'm trying to sprint through each day. I'm getting there, but each evening when I am trying to keep my eyes open before collapsing into bed I am very aware that I am trying to do too much and that I cannot keep up this pace forever. But in the short term, until the competition finals are over, I'm not really sure what else to do. So I'm hanging on for dear life and doing the best I can.

Henry is loving his new high school. I'm quite shocked at how he's clearly acclimated already and thriving. We're still figuring out how we're getting him to and from school each day, since he starts and finishes at completely different times from Anne, but we'll get there. We live close enough that he always has the option to walk/bike, which is absolutely clutch. 

As for Anne, things are still a struggle. She has not acclimated to her new class, and is not thriving in any way. I'm anxious to talk to her teacher, but unfortunately, her teacher's mom passed away this week, and so there has been a substitute. Therefore (quite understandably) it's going to be awhile before I'll be able to get a sense of how she's doing when she's actually at school. I just know that at home, she's been quite unhappy and down about school. Mike and I are both, consequently, quite anxious about all of this. It's been challenging, for sure.

My car goes in to be repaired on Monday, thankfully. But my litany of other appointments remain, and I'm just balancing them all in the short term as best I can. My classes are finally all scheduled, so that's something.

In my dance world, it's been complete and total chaos. :-0 I've been preparing for the competition, and my troupe is preparing for a hafla that is coming up in just a few weeks, but everything is on hold at the studio right now because one of our instructors is getting married this weekend. And in the midst of all this, I've had several paid gigs. I hadn't had a paid gig since New Year's Eve, and now I've had 2 in the past 3 weeks. 😳 And it's great, don't get me wrong. But it's been so stressful at a time when I've had so much else going on, I can hardly think straight.

Last week, my instructor and main dancing partner in gigging situations messaged me to see if I was available to dance at the grand re-opening of a restaurant we frequently dance at on New Year's Eve. They had had a fire, and had been closed for 5 months. They wanted to hire us to dance, but the re-opening was in 3 days.

😬

Now, here's the thing: we're belly dancers. We improvise for a living. I can put together a set list and dance to it with 5 minutes of notice. But emotionally, paying gigs take a lot out of me. You're in costume and performing to the utmost of your ability for anywhere from 12-20+ minutes, and it's exhausting. Restaurant sets are usually 20 minutes for us, and we each dance 2 or 3. It takes a lot of physical stamina and emotional well being. And the emotional thing has been a bit low of late. :-0

But this is a great restaurant, a great opportunity, and great extra pay. So we agreed to do it.

That Friday found me applying stage makeup as Mike and the kids ripped up carpets in the upstairs hallway, remember that? I'm stepping over staples and disintegrated carpet pad as I frantically race around looking for my 4D mascara and extra facial glitter. Claire and I arrive at 5 pm for a 4 hour stretch of waiting amongst straw wrappers and sugar packets, interspersed with 20 minute sets of dancing. This restaurant is lovely, but their sound system is not the best, and stress abounded with getting the music to play loudly, all while people keep coming up to ask me if I can seat them at a table. :-0 It's always a little wacky at these adventures. I will also say that it adds an element of interest to improvisational dancing when you don't even remember what you put on your set list. :-0

But it went great, and I went home a limp noodle after a very long day. I don't know how much longer I can keep up this pace, but I have to until September 22nd. Then I can start worry about my crazy teaching load (5 classes that next day alone) and the hafla that I don't even know the dance for yet. 😂I don't know, I guess we'll figure it all out! But I have to admit, I don't like things to be *quite* this exciting all at the same time!

What's new with you as September reaches it's mid point?

Friday, September 6, 2019

When God tells you to slow down...

Since we last spoke, things have been a whirlwind in the world of your Catholic Librarian. And, don't get me wrong, it's not like I have it worse than anybody else. Everyone's lives are busy right now. We're all in this together. *hug*

But I've been having a hard time managing it all, both physically and emotionally. In the past week:

(1) Henry started high school, as well as the after school work study program to earn money towards his tuition, which runs every day. Our previous morning/afternoon routines are now in shambles.

(2) Anne started 3rd grade, and was decidedly NOT looking forward to going back. I think she's a little envious of Henry's exciting new situation in his new Catholic high school while she's back in the hum drum world of their K-8 school. I also think that, although she won't admit it, she misses Henry being there, and is lonely. Her class is very small this year, and although that's great for individual attention, I think she's sad about not being around more kids. She has a hang dog face each morning, and I'm a bit worried about this.

(3) My teaching schedule at work is still up in the air, despite it being the second week of the semester, and things are generally a bit chaotic right now with regards to our lesson planning. I'm stressed about it.

(4) My dance competition is in just over two weeks, and I have a pit in my stomach about it. We're also learning a new group choreography that we haven't finished yet, but need to perform with just a few weeks to practice at our next showcase. And now I'm going to be missing class this week due to a last minute restaurant booking. 😬

(5) We're getting our upstairs carpet replaced on Saturday, and the house is in complete disarray in preparation for that, with furniture moved to and fro, painting happening, and carpet being slowly pulled up from the staircase.

(6) I'm undergoing physical therapy for my recurring calf injury, and suddenly have appointments out the wazoo on my calendar intermixed with the teaching that is to come. Whenever that's finally all scheduled that is. 😓

And all week long, I've been battling what I thought were fall seasonal allergies, but I haven't been this sick with allergies in a long, long time: lethargy, congestion (both head and chest), sore throat, fever rash, the entire works. The night before last, I coughed so much I could barely sleep. When the alarm went off for the morning, I was like:

😳

I couldn't do it. I was at that point, I just couldn't do it. My mind was awhirl with my to-do list of approximately 146,783 items, but my body wouldn't let me. I was exhausted, and I physically had no energy to do any of it.

I got up, and helped the kids get ready for school. Got the lunches all set to go. Mike drove Anne to school, and I took Henry. Then I came home, called in sick, climbed back into bed, and dozed off. It's the best thing I could have done.

I had a physical therapy appointment at lunchtime, and I dragged myself to that. But otherwise, I stayed home, in my jammies, and rested up. I would get small bursts of normal feeling energy, but within the hour, my eyes were drooping closed and I'd lay down.

I'm back at work today, and the feelings of being overwhelmed are still very much present. I'm trying to manage them the best I can. But I think that yesterday, God was telling me that I had no choice, I had to rest. There was a lot that needed doing, and I couldn't do any of it. That's really hard for me to accept.

But it's life, you know? I can't always do and control everything. It's part of my personality, but I need to accept that sometimes things are going to be different and I have to accept that. I'm a work in progress on this, to be sure.

How about you? How does God get your attention when He needs to communicate an important message to you? ;-)

Friday, August 30, 2019

In dance prep mode... When I have any energy at all, that is ;-)

Welcome to the end of August at Life of a Catholic Librarian, friends, and I cannot believe how quickly this summer flew by! My kids go back to school next week after the holiday, each of them, for the first time in several years, going to a separate school building (Henry's of the high school variety), Henry has a smartphone for the first time in his entire life, and Mike and I have been back to our fall semester schedules since this past Monday. My crazy teaching load won't start up again for a few more weeks, so thank goodness for small favors.

I've been battling some anxiety about all of these changes, and I've also been battling a persistent muscle pull in my left calf. With the dance competition less than a month away, I'm pretty much freaking out. :-0 I finally took the initiative to see an orthopaedist about it, and initial diagnosis is quite good. He doesn't think it's anything more serious than a simple strained muscle, and recommended physical therapy. I start next week, and am feeling very encouraged by it. I've also been working on my own to strengthen that lower leg, since it's now somewhat weaker than the other one.

You could say that I have a lot of trepidation moving into September. I'm doing my best with it, but it's definitely been a significant challenge in my adult life.

As September 1st looms, I'm burying my head in the sand and not looking at the calendar. 😂 My dance competition finals are Saturday, September 21st. I'm telling myself that it'll just be a wonderful learning experience, I've already benefitted greatly from the preparation process, and that I'll likely not place in the top 3. And seriously, that would be fine. I'm thrilled to have been selected as a finalist, and I need to keep my expectations low. It's an international competition, that's a really big deal! If the reality exceeds them, well, that's gravy, but it probably won't.

I've been working on my piece since late January. Time limit is 3 minutes, so I had to select and cut music, and choreograph a dance. Let me tell you, it was HARD. I'm a belly dancer, and I love to improvise. That's an important part of this dance form. I found planning out a piece to be much more difficult than I anticipated! I used to choreograph solo pieces to perform at haflas when I was new to soloing, and so I thought it wouldn't be a big deal to go back to doing it just this once. Yikes! Nope, it's difficult to plan out a choreography, especially when you want to use it to show the entire range of your dancing abilities in 3 minutes.

Finally, in May, I had a version I was pretty happy with. I filmed the video, amusing anecdotes and all, and submitted it. As much as I had enjoyed the process, and working with one of my instructors who mentored me through it all, I was so glad to not have to practice that dance anymore. :-0

My reprieve lasted a month, when I found out that I had been selected as a finalist. This means that you now have to perform live in the finals. You can perform the piece you did in your video, or something else entirely, it's up to you, and it's a whole new panel of judges. With less than 3 months between then and the finals, I did NOT want to come up with entirely new material. So I'm using my video piece; however, it's been heavily modified based upon judges' feedback and my own fussiness about things I decided that I hated. 😂 It's silly, because the piece is done, it's been honed and revamped based on excellent and detailed feedback, I've been practicing it for months in terms of fine tuning my technique and other nuances, yet I still feel so unprepared.

I suppose that's how it will always be with these sorts of things. When you care about what you do, you always feel like it could be better. I also hope that, on the day of the performance, my nerves don't interfere with my ability to do my best. Tha's what everyone always worries about, yes? It's a Catch 22. You're nervous because you want to perform to your fullest potential, but your nerves interfere wtih your ability to perform to your fullest potential. Stinks, but it's part of the human condition.

So, that's that. I rehearse my piece every single day, and indeed, after the finals, I will be relieved to NEVER DANCE THAT CHOREOGRAPHY EVER AGAIN! :-0 I'm dancing at the party after the finals are over, and how I delight in being able to improvise and do whatever I want, ha ha!

I'll keep you posted, but truly, it's OK no matter what. If you don't challenge yourself, you'll never grow. You might be more comfortable (as my poor stomach can attest) but you'll be letting yourself down if you don't at least try. We'll see what happens. But no matter what, on September 22nd, I'm laying on the couch all day, drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching football. :-0

How is your August wrapping up, dear friends?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Spending a little time with the Word...

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my little blog! I can't believe that it's late August already, YIKES! My kids haven't gone back to school yet, but it's coming. We have parent orientation tonight at Henry's new high school, and I think I'm handling my interior freaking out pretty well. ;-) I'm ready for a new season, but I'm also quite nervous. It'll be OK, but there are big things in store, to be sure!

I teased today's topic in last week's post, and I'm so excited to write about this today. :-) While I was on vacation last week, my sister introduced me to these Write the Word Journals, by Cultivate What Matters. I saw her using one each morning with her Bible and was intrigued.

These are not scripture studies, or guided journaling through scripture, per se. They are different from anything I've used in the past in that each day has a passage from the Bible listed (book and verse only) and then a big space for you to write down the actual passage. So you're not reflecting on the scripture verses (although you could do that too), but you're transcribing the verses down into your journal. There's also space to write down what you're grateful for that day, a word for the day, and what's on your heart that day (which you could use for pretty much any prayer purpose you wished). What I like about this system is that:

 (a) it can help you to memorize scripture verses, and

(b) on busy mornings, no deep thought is required on your part. You can just write the verse in, and there is still a great benefit to settling into God's Word for those few minutes without having to come up with coherent thoughts of your own. ;-) Some days, no inspired/academic reflecting is coming, as I'm sure you can relate!

There are a number of these journals available from Cultivate the Word, and each is themed. So this one (which is the one that I purchased) is about renewal, but there's also faith, hope, joy, contentment, etc. Here's a peek at the interior pages:

So indeed, I ordered one of the journals to check it out. You can also get these through Amazon, which if you have Prime shipping, is a way to save a bit. That's what I did. And I've been using mine each morning for a little peaceful and happy time with my Bible and with my own thoughts.

This is a non-Catholic Christian company, so the scripture references will be from the parts of the Bible that we both share, just an FYI. But I have to say that I'm loving the set up of these. There are lots of great options out there for scripture study, to be sure, I've just taken a shine to this one as an opportunity for individual scripture study, in a format that appeals to someone with a short attention span, and with not a lot of time to spare in my morning routine. :-)

Speaking of scripture study, I have been very inspired by this of late, and so have fun plans to announce to you. :-0 I'm going to start a weekly thread with themed scripture verses for us to chat about together in the blog's Facebook group! My sister Shauna'h has agreed to lead the thread each week, and will announce the theme and a related verse for us to look up in our Bibles and write in with our thoughts if we are so inspired. This will be super low maintenance, just participate whenever you'd like and/or are able to. I even made a graphic for us and everything, horray!


Join us on Facebook for Wednesdays with the Word starting up right after Labor Day! So, our first day will be September 4th. 🤗 I can't wait for this, I'm so excited!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Unexpected blessings at Mass on the road...

Hudson River, at Corinth, NY
So I had a lovely experience this past weekend, one of those times wherein you're sort of cruising along on spiritual auto-pilot, and then something comes up and grabs your attention in a completely unexpected way, kwim? To be sure, things haven't been poor for me in the spiritual realm, but it has definitely been a bit dry of late. I think this happens to most, if not all, people, and for me it's quite cyclical. A cycle might go for a year or more in either direction. And for me, it's been "just OK" for a number of months now.

This past weekend, my entire family took a weekend trip together for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. My 2 sisters live in other states, so we all met in the middle, rented a huge house with a pool through Airbnb, and all 15 of us stayed there together for a few days. It was SOOO nice to see everyone, and to spend quality time together.

Having some time to blissfully talk to my sister Shauna'h in person, we quite naturally navigated over to spiritual topics. Catholic podcasts we both listen to, books we've read, etc. And a book she was using for her morning devotional time really struck a chord with me. In a total teaser, that is the subject of *next* week's post, so you have to wait a bit for the big reveal on this particular book. :-0 But I'm soooo excited about it, and to share it with you! At any rate, she and I were talking about this book, and about prayer routines and scripture study, and it really got the Catholic Nerd in me re-energized, big time. More on this next week. ;-)

And so on Sunday morning, I was really looking forward to going to Mass. I'm going to be honest and admit that lately, Mass is something I attend because I know it's the right thing to do, not because I feel spiritually edified when I'm there. It happens. We must soldier through, and so that's what I've been doing. I was even wondering if we were going to make it, given that many of us hadn't slept well the night before, and things at the house were moving slowly Sunday morning due to an electrical outage.

But we made it. The Google Maps lady got us there safely, and I was feeling optimistic and much more enthusiastic about attending Mass than I have in quite some time. As we were walking into the tiny church for the 10:45 am Mass (open only seasonally to accommodate tourist season in the Adirondacks), a man standing at the door greeting people stopped us and asked Henry if he could help him carry something heavy. Henry, always the first to complain about church being boring, could use a job to do to keep his mind occupied, so I encouraged him to help out. The rest of us bustled into a pew.

Next thing I know, I see the man directing Henry into retrieving the cross from up at the front of the church. In most parishes, the portable cross for processing up the aisle is made of wood, but this one appeared to be made of wrought iron. :-0 Henry got it out, no problem, and carried it to the back of the church. I was pleased to see him being so cooperative.

Within minutes, the man reappeared, and this time he was wearing priestly vestments.

😂

Who knew?! He wasn't wearing a collar before then, so I assumed he was an usher. But I should have realized that this tiny church did not need ushers. At any rate, the opening song begins, Henry and the priest proceed to the front of the church, and Henry efficiently tucks the cross into it's holder and carefully turned it so that Jesus was facing out at the congregation. As he started to walk back to our pew, the priest stopped him, and they had a quick sidebar. Apparently, Henry's deliberate pause at the altar with the cross, waiting for the priest, and then coordinating their bows, gave away his skills as an altar server. Father recruited him on the spot to serve at the Mass. Which is hilarious, because Henry was on the schedule to serve at our home parish that exact same Sunday, and had to find a sub due to our trip. Apparently, he wasn't going to get out of serving on this particular day!

The experience gave the Mass a truly serendipitous feel, like it was meant to be for us to be there for that specific Mass. I loved watching Henry pitch hit on the altar, figuring out the system at this parish as he went along. Afterwards, we chatted with Father for awhile, and it was just lovely. He was thrilled to have an altar server at Mass, as he usually doesn't have one at this particular location, and enjoyed talking to us about our story and where we were from. I left with the happiest feeling of contentment and joy in my chest.

It's little moments like this that cause me to remember that God is always looking out for us, even when we're not adept at recognizing the signs. It was a wonderful experience that has left my faith feeling rejuvenated.

Have you ever had an experience like this one? Just a small God-incident moment? Any good Mass on the road stories from Sundays of travel? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! Also, next week we'll chat about devotionals. 😀

Friday, August 9, 2019

Back-to-school prayer, and knitting as a distraction from worry...

Welcome back friends! I hope you're enjoying the fresh start to August as much as I am. I am going to freely admit that I am quite odd, and find July to be my least favorite month every single year. I like certain aspects of July, like the 4th of July holiday and swimming/picnics, festival dancing, extra socializing with friends. But the weather?

👎

It's the most humid month of the year here in WNY, and that's my least favorite weather ever. Yes, even more so than winter. So, with July done, besides panicking a bit about the approach of my dance competition finals in late September, I'm enjoying the slight turn in the weather that August brings. There are still warm and humid days ahead, don't get me wrong, but they tend not to cluster so much, and to be less oppressive than July. I'll take it.

August also heralds other changes in our lives. K-12 schools in my part of the world don't start back until after Labor Day in September, but back-to-school is IN THE AIR now, if you know what I mean. Lots of sales and pictures on Facebook of back-to-schoolers, since most other areas of the country start back before we do. This is a situation that I have tucked away firmly in my heart for daily prayer. This new school year means lots of changes for our kids: they will no longer be at the same school, Henry will start high school, and Anne is officially in Big Kid Land as she starts 3rd grade. I have this rosary on my desk at work, made by the lovely Allison, and just holding it and looking at it gives me a sense of peace:

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!

I have a feeling that I'll be using it for more than admiration purposes as we transition into fall. I think her courage and faith are exactly what I need next month, to be sure. I'm downright weepy about all of these changes, and the worry that accompanies them. So I've been knitting for both children up a storm, because in my mind this keeps them safe.

?

I know, I know. It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to make me feel better! I started a pair of green self-striping socks for Henry (who is suddenly an ADULT LARGE in terms of shoe size), and I made a robin playset for Anne. Not exactly conventional, but that's how we roll in my avian friendly household.

This summer, we had a robin family nest in our neighbor’s yard. Anne, ever the avid birder, kept vigil with her binoculars over Memorial Day weekend, and got to see the entire process - from the parents building the nest, to mom incubating the eggs, and finally three little beaks starting to push up over the top of the nest as mom and dad arrived back with worm reinforcements. The babies fledged a few weeks later, and now we see them in juvenile form, hopping around our back yarn with their spotted breasts, learning how to look for food on their own. It was just so special! So I found a robin pattern to make my Anne her own commemorative robin:

Pattern is Spring Robin, and is available for free!

This is Mother Robin. And she's super inquisitive. ;-)



Never content to leave well enough alone, I made a nest for Mother Robin. She needs a comfy home for her family!




And of course, my little helper is so excited about her new bird friend.


Instructions for the nest are included in the pattern, and it was MUCH easier than I expected! You essentially make a yarn snarl in your lap that you baste together with a separate strand of yarn, threaded through a tapestry needle, into the shape of a nest.

And here, HERE, is the best part. Mother Robin has her triplets!

:-0
I mean, did you ever? Instructions on how to knit the nestlings (squeal!) are included right in the pattern as well. I will admit, I found it a bit more cumbersome to knit a stuffed toy, especially small ones, as opposed to crochet. But this was an enjoyable process that I learned a lot from, and I'm thrilled with the results!

Anne made some "worms" out of scrap yarn, so now we have Mother Robin and babies posing all over the house in various scenes of feeding frenzy. It's all so cute, and I'm glad that I tried out the new skills I had to learn in order to make these. The satisfaction of all of this took my mind off of how freaked out I am about several key dates in September. 😂

So that's what I've been up to. How about you? Do you have any intentions you would like the community to pray for? Just let us know!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Dancing around dogs and potholes - festival dancing adventures 2019...

TGIF everyone, and as ever, weeks with summer festival dancing are full of adventure. I have to admit that heat and humidity are not my favorite conditions to dance in, but when you perform a cultural dance form, outdoor festivals are sort of your jam, whether you like it or not. So I've adapted as best I can (gigantic clip to get hair off of neck for in-between dances and changing of costumes is absolutely ESSENTIAL) but it's always an interesting stretch, especially the last full weekend in July, when our studio has traditionally danced 2 full afternoons at one particular art festival.

This year, there was no stage for performers, so we danced out at ground level throughout the festival grounds. This is another less then ideal situation, because it means that we're dancing on a road surface that is inevitably uneven and full of divots and loose gravel. It's just, you know. Not very glamorous. :-0 And a little bit uncomfortable!

Saturday was about 85 degrees, and quite humid, so my very strength of will was girded about what we were about to experience. Which is to say: sweat. So much sweat. And the un-air conditioned dressing space is the gateway to this situation, for sure and for certain. 😂

We were dressed in Saidi gowns, which means that the sweat situation was a bit more intense than usual, as they are full length and have long sleeves. I know, I know, but we are performing a number of folkloric pieces this summer, so the costuming is very specific. Hence, the sweat. But people dance in Egypt in gowns heavier than this, so I figure I cannot complain. ;-)

Saidi gowns!

And everything went very well. It's always difficult to carve out dance space in these situation, but people are super curious, so they tend to give way. I don't like dancing on slightly inclined surfaces, because I lose my balance much more easily when turning, but I did what I could:

Tiffany's Thought Bubble: "Well, maybe if I just step/step/step around it'll be better? Oof. Where did that hole come from?"

As we were lining up for our drum piece, I heard a troupemate whisper:

"Could you guys scoot forward just a bit? We're in a pot hole over here."

Very typical festival conditions, to be sure. 😂

Each day required an immediate shower afterward and complete laundering of costume and accessories, but such is life in summer festival season. We're performing again tonight, and I'm expecting more of the same! It's draining, but fun to dance with my girls. 🤗

What are you all up to this first weekend in August?

Friday, July 26, 2019

Summer crafting updates...

Happy Friday everyone! We're coming up on the last weekend in July, which is an art festival weekend for my dance studio every year. Although I love dancing, I have to admit that doing so outside in heat and humidity is not my favorite. But I'm sure that it'll go great, and that I'll have a wonderful time with my dance girls. Updates on that next week, festival weekends are always amusing. :-0

I promised a craft update this week, and in between dance rehearsals, that has been keeping my mind and hands busy, which is a good thing. As otherwise, I'd be a puddle of worry by the end of the summer. ;-)

Summer is always Harry Potter time in my house, and we re-watch all of the movies and I continue on my quest to read the entire series. This summer, I'm reading Half Blood Prince. I'm going to be honest and admit that I could not finish Order of the Phoenix last year, and I feel super guilty about this. 😬 From what I hear from others, I am not alone in my feelings that, although the story was compelling, this particular book was just far too long. I kept reading, and reading, and reading, and my Kindle progress would move up a single percentage point. 😂 I think I got to about 70-75% when I finally gave up. It just wasn't holding my interest, and consequently, I wasn't picking it up enough and my progress got even SLOWER. Half Blood Prince is going WAY better, and I'm already quite absorbed in the story.

When we start re-watching the movies, I start wanting to create some Harry Potter crafts. And so here we have Hedwig:


Pattern is Hedwig the Owl, by Erin Shirley, available for free!
Don't you just love her wings?!


Anne, who was clamoring to bring this Hedwig up to bed with her that night, was trying to make the case that Hedwig didn't need wings, but let's be real. Hedwig has to deliver the mail, she needs wings. ;-)

Since I had originally intended Hedwig for my desk at work, and Anne stole her, I decided to make another one. This one has different eyes, so Hedwig #2 has her own new look:


She's keeping me company at work and I just love her. *heart*

Over in my Hogwarts at Ravelry group (where I'm Gryffindor Head Girl *beams*) I'm participating in a Mystery Knit-along and Mystery Crochet-along hosted by Ravenclaw. Both items are dishcloths, and clues are being released one per week, alternating between the cloths. This has been a lot of fun! This is the in-progress MKAL cloth:

Definitely looks like a bird :-0
And this is the MCAL cloth:


The clue that we'll be receiving this weekend is for the MCAL, so that will be the one to grow this week. I love how the variegated colors are working up on that one! Yarn is Knit Picks' Dishie Multi in Cabin (colorway is unfortunately discontinued).

In non-Harry Potter Land, I'm working diligently on the back piece of Mike's long awaited cabled cardigan:

Pattern is 0-850 Rambling Man, by Drops Design, and is available for free!
I'm taking my time with this, but I'm determined to finish it up for Christmas! I'm almost to where I'll need to divide for the arm holes, so I have to figure out how to do that. ;-)

And finally, the long term work-in-progress I decided to pick up this summer in order to finish for fall, is this:

Looks like an unexciting rectangle, I know
Although this currently looks like nothing special, it will ultimately turn into an adorable poncho, perfect for autumn:

Pattern is Oakwood Poncho, by Nikki Wagner, available via Knit Picks
Rather than the blue, gray and black stripes you see in the original pattern, I chose forest green, burgundy and brown stripes for mine. I'm excited to see how it turns out! I'm just now diving for the front panels, so things have gotten more interesting!

I'm really happy with my summer crafting plans. I also have additional Christmas gift ideas, which will be implemented very soon.

😇

Do you have late summer crafting or gardening plans? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

New news on my book! And assorted other family updates...

Happy July heat wave, everybody, and hope you are doing well this week! We're busy, busy as always, but somewhat less hectic than last week. Anne made it though Girl Scout camp, and now this week Henry is working at his new Catholic high school, earning a bit of credit towards his tuition (which we definitely need him to keep doing). The school is quite close to our house, so this week's morning routine is vastly improved over Girl Scout week! Mike's summer teaching schedule changes after this week, too. He's teaching 2 classes right now, but they finish up today, and starting next week he'll just be teaching a section of Logic each morning. Easier schedules make for overall family happiness, to be sure.

For my part, I'm hanging in there with all of the emotional changes and doing pretty well with it.

*virtual fist bump*

Working quite hard on dance, I'll have a full post devoted to that sometime this summer. I've also been busily crafting. I'll likely post an update on that next week.

In other news, my book, and indeed the entire Stay Connected Journals series, is now being published by Our Sunday Visitor. This is a large Catholic publisher, and we're quite thrilled that they've been picked up by OSV! So my book now has a new home on Amazon, and the price is just $11.95. It's also for sale in OSV's shop, and they offer free shipping on all of their books. :-) This is a happy place for the books, and we're excited to see what the new publisher will do with them. I was on their webcast yesterday as part of OSV's author series to talk about the series and about my book specifically. You can view the recorded webcast by registering for the event here. :)

I just absolutely love this beautiful trio of books as a great gift idea, and I really hope that small group Bible studies get something out of them. It's such an exciting collaboration to be a part of, and I'm looking forward to seeing the fruits of this project.

For my own part, I'd really like to get back to daily scripture reading, but that has decidedly not been happening. This is all on my own (part of the problem) because I don't have a small group study that I'm a part of. How about you? Do you attend a faith sharing or Bible study group of any kind? What type of routine works for you in terms of adding scripture reading to your day? I'd love to hear what works for you!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

July always needs some St. Kateri...

http://catholicmom.com/2019/07/08/a-special-devotion-for-july/
Hey everyone, and welcome to a humid and uncomfortable early-July edition with the Catholic Librarian. :-0 Thank you so much to everyone who reached out and wished me well following my post last week about my upcoming adventures as a finalist in my very first (and let's be real, probably only) dance competition!  I'm super nervous about it. 😬 But I'm grateful for the opportunity. I'll definitely devote a whole post to my preparation process sometime this summer! Finals are in late September.

😬😬😬

But onward and upwards! This is a summer of many changes, as I've talked about several times in recent weeks. The kids are growing and changing soooo quickly. Anne is at Girl Scout camp this week, and she had a rough first day. 😢 My kids are both introverts, just like Mike and I, and so new situations, especially those that:

(a) involve lots of unknown people,
(b) are loud, and
(c) involve games and singing

...are very hard on them. I completely relate to this, and I'm a soft touch, so tears of not wanting to go back make me want to crumble. But of course, perseverance is also important (she wanted to go to this camp, I wouldn't have signed up up otherwise) and so I told her that she needed to give it at least 1 more day. If after the second day it was clear that it was a bad fit and was actively making her miserable, I would not have pushed her. But the first day is never a perfect indicator of how things will be going forward, you need to give it just a wee bit more time. So I took her on the second day feeling uber guilty, and she came home exhausted and hangry again. However, she also chirped on about the woodsy things that they had done, the other girls, and the homemade beef and macaroni dish they had for lunch. She had a good time. And wanted to go back the next day.

HUGE sigh of relief. But the week has been emotionally draining as a result. Therefore my July piece over at CatholicMom comes at a perfect time and on an ideal topic. St. Kateri is a huge source of consolation for me, as I mention in this article (and there is a link back to the original piece fully detailing St. Kateri's place in my and my family's faith journey in there), and right now, I need her more than ever. So, if you need a dose of St. Kateri too, I'd love it if you would check out my piece over there. Comments on the CatholicMom website are always super welcome!

Who are you favorite summer saints? My kids' feast days are also in July: St. Henry on July 13th, and Sts. Anne and Joachim on July 26th. July is a great saint month. 😀