Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Of sweaty palms & precariously balanced swords - festival dancing 2015 continues!

Well HELLO there, dear reader! This was a big weekend for me, and big weekends call for big blog posts. Do you have your tea or coffee (or wine, beer, or cocktail, depending upon when you're reading this :))? Let's settle in for some dance fun!

This last weekend in July is my studio's biggest performance weekend of the year. It's at a local art festival, and we dance two sets per day on both Saturday and Sunday. It's a wonderful, wonderful experience, and we receive a lot of positive feedback from the event organizers that the festival-goers love the dancing portion of their entertainment block. So, during our sets, this entails the following: my troupe, performing modern Egyptian dance (what most Americans refer to as belly dance) and folkloric dance (our Saidi cane pieces, Claire performed a Khaleegy dance this year, and our Shaabi number), a ballroom dance group (who performed an absolutely *fabulous* swing piece), a Colombian troupe, and assorted other solos and duets amongst these groups.

The lineup this year was pretty ambitious, and I learned on Friday that the solos were slated for both days, rather than just one as we originally though. *gulp* A lot of dancing was in store, and as is usually the case here in late July, it was going to be hot. Hair and I prepared ourselves.

Saturday morning I was inordinately nervous. It was inordinately hot, and Mike and the kids were coming to see me dance. Let the sweating begin.

I loaded up my car with my various and sundry props and costumes, and headed out to meet my troupemates.We got ourselves all ready in the stuffy dressing room, and set out to dance. The wings/tray balancing piece was first, and it went decent. Given that the stage is rather small, and has a roof, the fact that it went OK (with taller people wielding giant iridescent wings) is a pretty significant feat. There were a few other numbers, and then my solo. In an ominous omen, I was feeling decidedly sick to my stomach. I was drinking water, and had eaten before I left, but I still did not feel 100%.

And so Sword and I were pretty nervous as we went on stage. The beginning went great. Snort! Isn't that always a frightening way to start an anecdote? My pre-balancing swooping went without a hitch and I was as ready as can be for the balancing.

Sword and I during a happy moment
But here's the thing: I was overheated and feeling a little woozy. I was also up on a stage, which is not usually the case when I dance, and somehow that vantage point felt much more intimidating to me. And it was a little windy, which usually isn't a problem with Sword, but all of these things together?

I had The Moment. That moment as a performer when you balance your prop, and right in a single instant you know that it's not perched properly. I got Sword up there, and the audience actually started applauding wildly, and I'm thinking:

"*^$%?@!" Censored!

:0

Yes, Dancer Tiffany isn't so delicate within the safety of her own head during a Panic Worthy Dancing Moment. I'm shimmying away, but I know that as soon as I start actually dancing, things are going to get dicey. And so what did I do?

Well, a few things, I'm nothing if not resourceful. ;-) I've learned a few tricks in my years, and one of them is to just try to fix the problem and make light of it to the audience, rather than continuing to dance in fear. I did my best: "Oops, oh well!" face to the audience, and adjusted Sword. I also chose that moment to focus much less on my dancing (which had to be MUCH more careful than usual anyway due to the situation) and instead focused almost exclusively on smiling with MY WHOLE FACE. I've noticed that when a dancer looks happy and confident, the audience looks happy and relaxed, and doesn't seem to notice the crisis that you're trying to distract them from so much.

Sword and I pretending that everything is JUST GRAND!
And I will tell you this: It works! Act like you know what the hell you're doing, and other people believe you, HA! So I beamed at everyone like this was the best time I'd ever had in my entire life, all the while wondering if my *freaking* music would EVER END. I had adjusted Sword, but I had managed to adjust him from Wrong to: Still Wrong! I had no choice, I had to adjust him again, and for my efforts got a scathing response from Sword:

"GIRL! STOP MESSING WITH ME!"

"But you're not on there right, and I'm tired of doing the gentlest shoulder shimmies KNOWN TO MANKIND!"

All the while, I beamed so hard that my face muscles started to hurt. The audience beamed back at me, so my subterfuge appeared to be working, but let me tell you, that was the most creative I've ever had to be while dancing, and not in a good way. :0

The music mercifully came to an end with Sword still on my head, and I received a hearty round of applause, but Sword got a stern talking to back in the dressing room. He was *squirrely* for that performance, and while I'm glad that I was able to salvage the situation, I don't like for my solos to be quite that stressful. I stuffed him into a corner while I changed for the rest of our group numbers...

...which went well, albeit with me looking a bit like Roseanne Rosannadanna by the end of the afternoon...

...if this is any indication...
LOTS of heat and humidity to deal with, to be sure. I did manage to have a good cane balancing day during our Saidi piece, which was pleasing.

*glares at Sword*

And Sunday? Was HOTTER, unfortunately. Thus, I made a bold choice. I collected my garment bag, got my bag of props out of my trunk, and left Sword in there. I could feel his resentful stare as I shut the trunk right over his face, but I just wasn't in the mood for him on Sunday. Plus, we had to do quite a bit of walking and schlepping of all of our stuff over to the stage area, and carrying a heavy sword on top of everything else wasn't the best idea I'd ever come up with. I brought my pink silk veil and felt all unfettered and free.

Our set started with the wings again on Sunday, and that went well again aside from me forgetting one small portion of the choreography and moving to the back of the stage much earlier than everyone else, oopsie! I'm hoping it looked like I meant to do that. ;-) Over the course of a fantastically long weekend like this one, every single troupe member had at least one brain lapse like that, it's just part of the human condition. Then we had one additional group number on Sunday prior to my solo.

Hence, I was good and soaking with sweat prior to the solo. I went into the dressing room to quickly cool down in front of the fan, and got back outside as Claire was introducing me. :0 I thought there was another number in there before me, but apparently there had been a last minute lineup change. Veil and I silently exchanged a swear word in our heads as we dashed to the stage.

No time to panic, which was a good thing. Veil and I swirled out:

Swirling!

...and it was one of the most enjoyable solos I've ever danced. I felt all happy to not have to worry about the sword, and it was wonderful to just dance as I truly wanted to without the encumbrance of a balanced prop. I also learned an important lesson from Saturday: dancing solo is about so much more than simply dancing. It's about *performing* and bringing your audience into the experience of your dance. I was improvising anyway, so I just let my body rely on its muscle memory and movement vocabulary, and focused on my face. I smiled and smiled, and this time because I genuinely felt happy. ;-)


I used Veil through a fun spin sequence in which I wrapped myself in it like a cocoon (add this to the possible news stories of belly dancer tragedies: (1) impalement by sword, (2) suffocation by silk :0)


...and he was *such* a good little prop and didn't stick to my sweaty arms at all as I was fearing. He behaved perfectly for the full span of music that I wanted him for, and then I dropped him at the back of the stage to finish the piece prop-less. It was glorious.

Later, when I got back to my car, I could feel Veil's smirky expression when I opened the trunk:

"So, Exalted Pointy One. Who is the favored prop NOW, hummmmmmm?"

I don't want to encourage this little turf war, but props really do have big personalities. ;-)

And the rest of Sunday went equally well. Hot, did I mention that we were hot? And tired. By the second set on Sunday, we were all low on steam, but we barreled on together. I feel SO BLESSED to dance alongside the women in my troupe:


Dancing with them has changed my life. It is an honor to perform with them.

When I think back to the timid little girl I once was, it's hard for me to believe the way that my life has turned out, with performances and teaching, and generally being up in front of people fairly regularly. It's not that I don't get very nervous and anxious about such things - I do, A LOT. But I've learned that that simply means that I CARE. A lot. About doing the things that I love and am passionate about with sincerity and intentionality. I'm never going to be the best at any of these things, but I can do them with my whole heart.

What are you passionate about, dear reader? Do you have a fear of public speaking or performing that you've been able to work through such that you can do it when necessary? Please write in with all the details. :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Fails, brought to you by your Catholic Librarian...

Happy Friday everybody! Once again, I was hoping to do 7 Quick Takes, but can I tell you a secret? I love writing those posts (and all of the quirky subtitles, or, at least I *hope* you find them quirky), BUT...they take at least twice as long to write as most other posts that I compose. 7 Quick Takes ain't so quick, I'm here to tell ya. And so unfortunately, I don't always have the time to dedicate to them. Today is one of those days.

But I do have time for a short post, and so here we are. I mentioned some knitting adventures last week, and in fact, after a really good run, I had *two* such knitting adventures. And what were those, pray tell?

*look of innocence*

(1) Let's just knit all these stitches together and move on with our lives, shall we?

I've been knitting for what feels like a decently long time now. Close to 10 years, maybe in the 8 year range. And though I wouldn't call myself an expert by any means, I still feel able to tackle more advanced projects. I'm not always *successful* mind you, but I have the skills to at least try. But every once in a while, even in a project that comes much easier to me (like knitting socks, because I've been doing that for years) something...*wonky* happens. I don't know how to define wonky exactly, just something that happens that shouldn't have happened. And I've found that when that happens, I am very averse to:

(a) figuring out what happened, and
(b) fixing it.

I just really, really want to plow ahead and finish whatever it is that I'm working on. I truly don't want to go BACKWARDS, kwim? And so the other day, when I was turning the heel on a Pittsburgh Steelers sock I'm knitting for my father-in-law's birthday, I suddenly realized that I had far more stitches on one end of the heel than I did on the other. And do you want to know what I did?

I sighed. I looked at the sock angrily. I pushed the stitches around a bunch on the needle. And then I knit something like 5 stitches together on the one side to even things out, and moved onto the gusset. And they look fine. Right?


Fine, they look fine, right?! *I demand that you agree to this* If a bit like a pair of socks a giant bumble bee would wear...

The heels don't *look* uneven, so hope springs eternal that he won't notice anything when he wears them. Because I wasn't redoing that heel. No awards for Knitting Martyrdom being given out over here. ;-)

(2) "Join in the round, being careful not to twist." *simmers with rage*

OK, keeping it real here. There are few things that vex me more in my knitting life than joining an item in the round after I have cast on. Here's the process:

(a) I dutifully cast on all 253 *freaking* stitches.

(b) I pause and take a breath, because this is the big moment.

(c) I line all of those stitches up like little soldiers, making sure they all face the same direction and are not twisted in any way, shape, or form.

(d) I VERY CAREFULLY place a stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

(e) I recheck all the little stitches. Yep, all facing in same direction, no twist.

(f) I join in the round.

(g) I knit happily.

This is all going fine until DISASTER STRIKES. I've now knit over an inch of fabric, and do you want to know what I suddenly see?

That is Evil Incarnate right there. Next to my adorable and matching stitch marker, yes it is true.

Um hum, that's right. That's what makes it so insidious. You never know about The Evil right away. You are knitting and knitting, la, la, la, all the while thinking that things are FINE when in fact they are decidedly NOT FINE. I'm knitting so sweetly and innocently, and then I think to myself: "Oh, I need to straighten out this little twist so that I can keep knitting, how did that happen? It should be fine by time I get to the end of the round, BECAUSE I KNOW THAT THERE WERE NO PERMANENT TWISTS IN THIS THING WHEN I JOINED IN THE ROUND!"

Shouting things to yourself makes them so. I've tried and tested this theory.

I straighten the "temporary" and "merely inconvenient" twist. I knit a little more. "Why there's that twist again! This thing must have gotten really twisted up in my knitting bag! I'll straighten it again." I straighten it. And then I do The Scary Thing. I pursue the twist, pulling it straight all the way to the end of the round, where SURELY it will meet another twist going in the opposite direction and the fabric will flatten out like a dream, reverting to it's natural untwisted state.

I get to the end of the round. The twist is still there, looking up at me mockingly. I swear it even cackled at me.

And that moment, my friends? Combined with looking back at the pattern, and seeing this phrase:

"Join in the round, being careful not to twist."

Let's just say that you might be a little shocked by what came out of my mouth next. You might even be scandalized, gently tell me that I may have a problem if I get this upset by twisted knitting, and suggest that I avail myself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

You wouldn't be wrong, but I would ignore you. I would then picture the designer in my mind, and then imagine myself punching them right in the face. I would then go into my kitchen and consume a shot of whiskey. 

And the fate of the cowl? *delicately clears throat* It's now a mobius design. I MEANT to do that. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

This post wasn't all that short, was it? But it was fun to write, and all stream of consciousness, so I wrote it quickly. ;-) I'm dancing both days this weekend, in an exhausting festival run. If you think of it, around 1 and 3 pm EST on Saturday and Sunday, wing up a prayer that your Catholic Librarian isn't currently humiliating herself by falling off of the stage. With a sword on her head.

I will talk to you all next week. And if you have any crafting fails, do write in and tell us all about them. :0

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tea Time with Tiffany Episode 9 - Summer Ordinary Time with kids!

Well hello there, gentle readers! I was brainstorming on topic ideas this week for:


...because my legal pad had suddenly become light on ideas for video post topics. Time for a brainstorm! And brainstorm I did, soliciting the ideas of the lovely Cristina, and thus I have fun topics for both this week and next! (And leave comments with your ideas for video posts, because I will gratefully receive them!) This week I'm going to be talking about faith activities with kids over the summer, during this long stretch of Ordinary Time between Pentecost and Advent. I'd love it if you'd also write in with your ideas!


Items mentioned during this episode:
OK, now it's your turn: do you have anything special that you do faith-wise during the summer Ordinary Time? Do you have any ideas for future topics for the Tea Time series! Do write in and let me know!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Of airborne canes & hairstyles the consistency of a rat's nest, summer festival dancing commences!

Haaaaaapppyyy Tuesday everybody, and happy dance post day! These are always some of my favorites to write, because they involve poking fun at myself, and I like doing that. Settle in with your tea!

I woke up Saturday feeling sick to my stomach, and isn't that ironic? I dance because I love it so much, but then I go to actually do it in front of people, and given my reaction, one would wonder why I torture myself so. It's the performance angle, and solo performing, to be specific. I volunteer for this, and yet the moment arrives, and the following things suddenly seem preferable to what I'm about to do:

(a) Get a root canal.

(b) Scrub a bathroom that a small boy has been using exclusively for a month.

(c) Birth a baby.

Fun times, right?! So you could say that I was NERVOUS. It was also HOT. And HUMID. And, OK. My HAIR. I have mostly Italian and Native American blood, one would think that my hair would be straight. Well, my friends, it is decidedly NOT. Nor is it curly. It's just this unfortunate in-between situation that expands exponentially in humid conditions. And so Saturday, I did battle between it and my flat iron, and let's just say that the flat iron isn't as powerful as I'd like it to be. There was some definite wave going on, but I decided to stop fighting it and just live with it. This is the pre-performance picture:

Happily about to practice a few hours before performing...
And here is the post-performance picture:

???

Oh that's right. I deleted that picture, that's how bad it was. It is my blog after all, I have creative control over all horrifyingly embarrassing pictures, and this one was excised without a moment's hesitation. Everybody go ahead and breathe a deep sigh of relief, just trust me on this one.

At any rate, I was concerned about the humidity factor (we'll come back to this), but pressed on. Sword and I rehearsed a bit, and during this time, he took me aside for a talk:

"Tiffany, I just don't think this shoulder balancing is going as well as it should right before a performance."

He's very articulate, Sword is. ;-)

"Oh, don't worry, I think it's fine! You stay on a good 80% of the time! I mean, the odds are in our favor!"

"Tiffany." *sigh and prayer for patience* "How well has that worked out in the past in the actual moment of performance? Remember that incident at the restaurant show?"

Ouch. He just HAD to bring that one up, didn't he? And he didn't let up:

"Don't get upset, I just think we need to play to our mutual strengths. The newly reworked anticipatory/pre-balance segment is going very well, and the head balancing is kick ass. Let's not push it for now, all right? Otherwise, I might decide to get temperamental at an extremely inopportune time."

That was a threat, wasn't it?! I flared my nostrils at him, but there was no swaying Sword from this stance. He can be vindictive when he doesn't get his way. I quickly reorganized how I was going to approach my music, eliminating the shoulder balance and one of the spins in favor of a kicky hip drop segment with varying arms designed to *not* accidentally bop the sword when it's on my head.

And although Sword could have been nicer about the whole thing ;-) I am SO GLAD that I rearranged things like that. Want to know why?

One word, my friends: WIND. We arrived at our venue with a brisk breeze coming off the water. I didn't panic about the sword, because without the shoulder balancing (much more precarious), there are no worries on the head balancing. My sword is *heavy* and on my head it really doesn't move much except to swivel a tad when I change directions. The shoulder is much more susceptible to movement, and even without wind, it was swiveling a lot to be in my face when I was dancing. All right, I'll admit it, SWORD WAS RIGHT! I hope he's happy.

*glares*

Canes though? That's another story right there. :0 We have a group piece that we begin by balancing our canes on our heads, and those suckers are LIGHT. Wind, very much a factor for the canes. There was talk of a possible duct tape solution, but in the end, we are balancing purists: Go big or go home!

#hopespringseternal

We had attracted a bit of attention in our pre-performance cane finagling corner, eye searing costumes peeking from underneath our coverups:

"Are you going to be performing? When?"

So we had a nice crowd by time we were slated to dance:


And the cane? Well. :) I put it on my head, it immediately swiveled more than 90 degrees, and when I started moving it became clear that the chances of it staying on there were hovering right around 0%. I had to do some creative arm work to salvage the situation (translation: grab it to prevent it from flying off my head and hitting the boardwalk with a THUNK!) but I didn't sweat it. It happens. Speaking of sweat...

The conditions were as follows: We had heat and humidity. We had wind. We had lots and lots of perspiration. Let's just say that my hair was AN ENTITY. I have kind of a lot of hair, which you may have noticed. Saturday afternoon all of that hair had been blown around and sweated into. (Sorry, TMI, I know, why are you reading this again?!) So we had a bit of an advanced matting and frizzing situation happening. Add sunscreen from the nape of my neck into this disaster, and we have an alarming coagulation factor. All I could do was pat it down and hope for the best. But when you see my hair tucked behind both of my ears (as you will below), you know things aren't good in Hair Land.

Bad hair notwithstanding, Sword behaved himself within our set parameters:

Sword and I looking super serious...
It went pretty good. I will say that this was the first time ever that while I was dancing, my eyes started to water, making it appear that I may be crying. Once again, THE WIND. My eyes are very sensitive to wind. And did I mention my nose? Yeah, that started running too. Lovely. And you can't exactly, you know, *wipe anything* when you're dancing around with a sword on your head.

Oy.

But I persevered. More group numbers and then we were done. It went well! But in all of my dancing years, I have NEVER been happier to leave a performance to go home and shower. Good gracious.

And next weekend we do it all again. Sword and I have agreed to keep things as is, so the solo is set. I hope. I just hate it when he gets in a bad mood. ;-) I'll report in again, for sure! And all offers of prayers for less humidity this coming weekend will be gratefully received. Hair and her friend Sword both thank you.

How was your weekend, dear reader? :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Mooooooom, is Mass going to be shorter because it's the summertime?!" Catholic parenting adventures on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time...

Happy Monday all! You're probably wondering how my dance event went, since I talked about that nervously on Friday, and I promise a full and fun recap tomorrow. Lots of amusing anecdotes! And I have a few photos to share. I thought first I'd talk about the rest of the weekend, as this was a jam packed one for my family! Got your tea or coffee? Let's settle in!

Saturday dawned with Anne's swim lesson on the agenda. Given her reaction last week I was apprehensive, but apparently the allure of the post-swim lesson trip to the vending machine won out, because she happily went and did much better:


Yes, that is her, *actually* following directions and using the kick board!

*organ cues up!*

She did MUCH better, and looked absolutely adorable in her Elsa and Anna bathing suit participating in all of the drills that they did. Ten 4 and 5 year olds clinging to the side of the pool waiting their turn to swim across is a very cute sight indeed. So that worked out awesome.

Saturday afternoon was the artisan market that my troupe danced at, and as promised, a full post on that is coming your way tomorrow. I'll just say that Saturday was one of the hottest and most humid days of the year so far, so let it be known that much discomfort was had by all dancers. But dance on we must!

Saturday evening, Mike, Henry and I had tickets to see our local minor league baseball team play (the Triple-A affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays, if you are into such things :)), and it was their annual Star Wars night. It sounds like an odd combination, but it really works. People dress up, a special video series plays on the big scoreboard between innings, and the players' photos are substituted for Star Wars characters. After my tiring afternoon of dancing, it was stupendous to relax and enjoy the game, eat a hot dog and have a beer. And they had a craft beer kiosk with a decent selection of local beers. Boom.

After the game, there was a light saber show and fireworks, check this out:


Not a great picture, I know, but it gives you an idea of how many people there were wielding light sabers. All of those blue and red lights in the stands along the side are light sabers. Very, very fun.

Sunday dawned with me looking forward to a quieter day. And for the most part, that happened. Sunday mornings are my favorite of the week, but sometimes the kids make those tough:

"HENRY!!!"

"I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything!"

And that's pretty much what we had going on this particular Sunday morning. Then, when it was time for Mass, Henry claimed to not be feeling good again. Let's insert a groan here, shall we?

Henry is 9, he'll turn 10 this fall. It's the age, right? The age causing the reluctance to go to Mass, because "it's so boring!"? I mean, I know *I* felt that way as a kid, and I guess it was around that age, though it did start younger, which is the case for Henry as well. It's not easy to deal with, but I do my best. And happily, this is another instance of Mike being super supportive and backing me up about Henry attending. Per the two of us as a united front, Henry *will* go to Mass. But it certainly makes me feel bad when Henry expresses these things, and I wonder about the best want to handle it. Suggestions?

Given that Henry's "ailment" came on so suddenly, he did not get excused from Mass. He came with us, and very unhappily so. Much whining and complaining in the car commenced. Luckily, our parish is only a few minute drive away, so my torture did not last long. When we arrived, after an excruciating extraction from the car, Henry was fine. He was polite and even reverent. But then Anne kicked in.

Children's Liturgy of the Word is on hiatus for the summer, so she's with us the entire time.

*weak smile*

The INSTANT our butts hit the pew:

"Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom."

"Honey, we just got here. Can't you..."

"I can't wait, Mommy."

*universal Dance of the Pee Pee*

*sigh*

To the bathroom we go, TRIP 1 OF 2.

uggghhhhhhh....

Thereafter commenced 45 minutes of jumping, wiggling, climbing and all around non-stop activity that drained me of any scrap of energy I had left.

So, you could say that it wasn't one of our easiest weeks at Mass. :) But we persevere! For those of you out there with suggestions on how to tackle this issue of kids not wanting to go to Mass, I'm all ears. Let's discuss in the comments!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lots about St. Anne! And in your charity, please pray for me to not knock myself unconscious this weekend :0

Hi all! I have a SUPER busy day, so no time for 7 Quick Takes unfortunately (ironic that those posts usually take me longer than others to write. ;-)) But I wanted to briefly remind everyone who wants to pray the St. Anne novena that it begins TODAY.

Horray!

AND, in exciting news, when I arrived home yesterday, my St. Anne chaplet was waiting for me!


*angels sing*

So I brought it with me, and created this short video this morning, if you'd like to pray along:


I'm going to put this video on the St. Anne novena page too, for easy reference. Yay for novenas!

I have to rush off, I have a leviathan of a meeting later *insert super unhappy emoticon here* and so time is tight. BUT, I have lots of fun posts slated for next week. Remember, I'm dancing this weekend, and I already feel sick to my stomach thinking about the fact that I have a solo in the set. Public event, July heat, windy conditions, a shaky, sweaty-palmed, nervous belly dancer wielding a sword...what could go wrong?! I'll tell you all about it next week. ;-) Plus, I have more amusing knitting project tales, and my sister is potty training her twins and I thought maybe I'd write a "best of" potty training compilation post to boost her spirits. Want to join in? Come back next week!!

But don't leave before telling me all about your weekend plans. Go ahead. Tell me. In the comments.*bossy* :0

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tea Time with Tiffany Episode 8 - What role does faith play in your marriage?

Hi all! I hope that you're having a smashing week. Mine has been quite lovely, I think I'm still riding the high of the feast of St. Kateri. :) And now, it's time for another edition of:


Today I chose to talk about the topic suggested by Cindy a few months back, which is faith in marriage. There are so many possible variations here in terms of the role faith plays in the lives of each spouse within a marriage. And then of course, there is the question of the role that faith plays in the marriage itself. Regardless of your specific situation, I think that certain overarching spiritual considerations are at play for all of us. My story? View on. :)

This is a very personal topic, probably the most so of these video posts that I've done. And thus, before I recorded this, I prayed for the Holy Spirit's wisdom (since God knows, I don't always have any on my own!). And it is my hope that by sharing my story, it will be helpful to someone out there. I hope also that my brief discussion does justice to the beautiful, multi-dimensional sacrament of marriage, and to the man that I am privileged to share my life with, my absolutely adorable and sweet husband, Mike.


Items mentioned in this episode:
Now it's your turn, if you'd like to share. What role does faith play in your marriage? If you are unmarried, but hope to marry, what role do you aspire for faith to play in your future marriage?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My first ever piece at Catholic Mom commemorates the feast of St. Kateri, & the St. Anne novena approaches!

Happy Tuesday to all of you, and happy feast of St. Kateri! She's certainly a favorite of mine, and quite integral to my own Catholic identity. I wrote a post about this several years ago, and recently I pulled that post up, updated it a bit, tidied up the writing, and submitted it to Catholic Mom. And *happy dance* it was published yesterday, on the vigil of her feast day!

http://catholicmom.com/2015/07/13/a-rich-tapestry-of-faith-how-st-kateri-rescued-my-familys-catholic-identity/

You should have heard me squeal when I saw it. Well, OK, maybe you wouldn't have liked that. ;-) But I was *excited* and the timing is perfect. I've even gotten a few comments over there, which made me all giddy anew. Of course, I responded to every single one personally. Don't you want to go read and leave a comment now? Hummmmmm? :0 I'm waiting for you over there, with much excited anticipation. If you enjoy conversion stories, you'll enjoy reading this one, I think. I hope! Come visit me over there. :)

In other saint news, the novena to St. Anne start date is rapidly approaching, and I created a page with all the details. We'll start praying along on Friday, leading to her feast day of July 26th. I have a St. Anne chaplet on it's happy way to me, so that I can pray that in tandem with the novena prayers:

Photo courtesy of Allison Kinyon, Rosaries by Allison
Allison, the dear soul that she is, whipped this up for me over the weekend at my request, and mailed it out on Monday. She's on the other side of the country from me, but it should be here tomorrow or Thursday. If I have time, I'll record a short video of me praying the chaplet and post it on that novena page so that we can pray together if you like. I don't have audio file capabilities just yet, that's coming, just not ready for prime time this week. Since you can't download it, I know it's not as helpful, but for anyone who wants to, it would be there. I'll let you know if that comes to pass!

But if you're a fan of St. Anne, definitely join the rest of the community in prayer! Who's planning to pray the novena? Do you have a devotion to St. Anne? Please leave a comment and let me know all the sainty details. And you can also leave me prayer intentions in the comments, as well!

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Ow, what is that horrible pain behind my eyeball?": A Catholic Librarian July weekend of traumatizing first swim lessons and last chance Masses...

Well, happy beginning of the week to all of you, and I hope that you are well! I had a really, really nice weekend, if a bit more adventuresome than I was planning. What did that all entail, you reasonably ask? Grab your beverage, let's settle in:


Again, that's not what I'm drinking right now, but it's what I was drinking Saturday evening, and that spills over into a part of the story Sunday morning that gets a little bit embarrassing. :0 But that's what I'm here for, right? Entertainment for you all by my own somewhat ill advised foibles. Let's start back on Friday evening, since that is when all the fun began...

*soundtrack begins playing in the background*

Speaking of which, I wish I had a soundtrack, just like in the movies. It would make the mundane parts of my life seem so much more interesting and dramatic, but I digress. Friday evening I had dance rehearsal, and as expected, things were good-naturedly intense as we ran through our set for this coming weekend's performance, plus shook the dust off a few choreographies that we'll using for the following weekend's festival. Everything went well, but I discovered that executing Isis wing-laden barrel turns when you're nearly 5'7" isn't such a good idea with a drop ceiling looming overhead. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. :0

We have one more rehearsal this coming Friday before the performance Saturday, and it looks like the solos will fit into the set, so I just sent Claire my music. Eek!

I dance best when I don't think about it too deeply beforehand, so let's move on. ;-) Saturday morning I traveled with Anne to our local YMCA for her very first swim lesson. Anne was sporting her new Elsa and Anna bathing suit and was very enthusiastic about getting into the pool. Until we got there, that is.

As I was strapping on her flotation device, I had a bit of a sinking sensation. She had The Face, kwim?

"Mommy, I don't want to go swimming."

"It's going to be OK, Sweetie! It'll be fun! See how the other children are all getting into the water?"

"But I DON'T WANT TO, Mommy."

There was much resistance. There was much coaxing of small bodies into the water. There was much clinging to the side of the pool, eyes wide with terror.

"You're doing great, Sweetie! Try to pay attention to the teacher."

I glance down at my phone to answer a text.

"Mom." Henry is beside me. "Anne started crying."

Ugh.

The instructor swam over to try and convince Anne to make a pass across the shallow end with the kick board. Let's just say that didn't go over very well.

It was a long 30 minutes, and I retrieved her trembling form from the water and quickly engulfed her in a towel.

"Next week will be a little easier, Darling. Let's head to the girls locker room to change."

"NO!"

Who here is surprised?! You're obviously new to this blog. ;-) Welcome!

The changing room situation was offered up to get quite a few souls out of Purgatory, I'm thinking, and by the time I had wrenched her clothes onto her damp body she was declaring that she was never coming back.

Fabulous.

Henry, however, saved the day. When he first suggested the ridiculously priced vending machine I was skeptical, but I will say that Anne immediately stopped crying, and they bonded over choosing what to get. After that, she was fine, and said she would try again next week. I'll take it, and it only cost me $2.

Saturday evening we had a cookout with some friends who live on the next block. They have 4 children, and another couple was there with their son who is Henry's age, so we had a nice little gaggle of children to play together. Anne and their youngest daughter, I swear it, look like twins:

Anne and her doppelganger assessing each other
They hung out together nicely, along with the other girls, and we just made sure we had the right little brunette with us when we left to go home. :) As for the adults, we hung out by the side of the pool munching, chatting and having drinks. That's when I drank the Chardonnay pictured above. And I really didn't drink that much.

*famous last words*

When out having drinks with others, I usually have 1-2 drinks. Saturday evening I had a bit more than 2. OK, nearly 3. :) But it's not like I was drinking out of a glass the size of a fountain, it was a small white wine glass. And I also ate dinner.

Flash forward to Sunday morning, 5:30 am. Hark! Why am I awake?!

Well, it's because my head is THROBBING, that's why. I change positions and hope that that will help. It does not. I kind of cuddle my left temple into my pillow, hoping THAT will help. It does not. See the theme here?

I get up, swallow an ibuprofen, and go back to bed. I toss and turn and accidentally wake Mike up. We both drift back off...

7:30 am. Hark! Why am I awake?! Well, because both children are now up and being noisy. And Mike is getting out of bed. Oh, thanks be to God, my head feels decidedly less bad. Let me get up too...

Oh dear. A distinctive nauseous feeling pervades my being that I have only experienced once before, and vowed would never happen again. Apparently, I don't learn lessons very well. Oh that's right, I already knew that. *sigh*

I laid down again and pondered my fate. I didn't drink *that* much wine, but I wasn't also drinking water or another non-alcoholic beverage, and that was my fatal mistake. Dehydration. It's good that I have this lesson more firmly tucked into the front of my brain, but it wasn't making me any less miserable as I lay there. Mike was downstairs getting breakfast for himself and Henry, not yet realizing my situation. I managed to make my way into Anne's room and get her up. She didn't make things easy and refused all of the outfits I presented, and I was in no condition to wrangle her. I left her to dress herself, and she actually did it. God is merciful.

I laid for about 30 minutes and then was able to go downstairs and have some water and coffee. But by this point it was nearly 9 am and something was becoming alarmingly clear: I still felt awful and was in no condition to take the kids to 10 am Mass. Because I had a hangover.

Mother of the Year, right over here. Don't I get something special from Things Remembered to commemorate this occasion?

It was mild as far as hangovers go, but all the same. Henry was also faring poorly, having a bad sinus issue unfolding, poor kid. I watched TV with the kids as we all took it easy and Mike worked on his lesson plans. I drank my coffee and knit. By about 11 am, I was feeling a lot better. Henry was still looking peaked and stayed home with Mike, but I made myself presentable and took Anne to noon Mass with me. It was lovely, and I felt even more grateful than usual to be there. :)

Later, I worked on a cowl using some new silk yarn that I recently procured from Expression Fiber Arts with the delightfully titled colorway "Twilight Under the Stars":


Isn't it magnificent? A perfect late summer colorway, if you ask me. Aside from the self-inflicted morning situation ;-) Sunday was beautiful. Mass, then meal planning with Mike for the week, then dinner out with the whole family for sandwiches and ice cream, and then a movie with Mike and Henry while I knit. Life is good.

How was YOUR weekend, dear reader? Do tell me all about it. :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 85} Summer festival dancing approaches, time to panic! edition...


When I miss a week of 7 Quick Takes, like I did last week, I really feel a void, because I do so enjoy writing these posts. They appeal to the spontaneous writer in me. :) So, what is on my mind this morning? A heck of a lot of dance routines, that's what. My troupe's big performance season starts next weekend, and let's just say that things are a little hectic right now in Dance World. Want to know more? Read on, gentle reader!

-1- Festivals rapidly approacheth

So, YEAH. We have a performance at an artisan's market on Saturday July 18th, and then a full weekend of festival performances the weekend of July 25th and 26th. Two sets on each of those days. Each set is 45 minutes to an hour long, so...that's a LOT of dancing. At least it is for those of us older than our early 20's. ;-) Especially when...

-2- ...the choreographies are multiplying like small, happy furry creatures...

Right. We now have quite a few choreographies in our repertoire. We learn new ones every year, but not all of them make it into The Repertoire. The Repertoire consists of routines that are engaging for a public audience (so, use of eye catching props and/or distinctly representative of a specific style within Middle Eastern dance) and contain formations easily adaptable to any number of troupe members to accommodate absences. Some routines we'll perform at a hafla and then they fade away. Others, we retain. At this point, we have an Arabic pop number, a drum, a Shaabi piece, a Saidi cane number, a tray balancing routine that also incorporates Isis wings, and a more traditional piece that we call the "Spectacular" because it has multiple segments demonstrating different styles, and in the introduction we use the gigantic veil wraps. So, that's six routines, and I think I'm forgetting at least one, which right there, is NOT a good sign towards me remembering the actual choreography if I can't even remember that it exists. Plus...

-3- ...we also learned an entire choreography in a single evening *insert scared face*

At our last rehearsal, we got a little ambitious. This is what happens when we are left alone in a bright and sparkly dance studio for two hours on a Friday evening. ;-) We put together an entire new veil piece in a single evening. It's not a long song, and we do repeat segments by incorporating in new arms and orientations to make it look completely different, but all the same. It's a new dance that we learned in one night. And it's routine #7 (maybe #8, if I'm in fact forgetting one), which is, you know. A little *intimidating*. :0 Back when I first started dancing, I used to fret over and practice incessantly the one class routine that I would perform at a hafla. So being responsible for nearly 10 numbers now I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have to just trust my muscle memory. For a Type A perfectionist like me, that is no small feat. ;-)

-4- Possible silver lining: this may actually save my brain cells as I age. Or so I am hoping.

I read somewhere (most likely a women's magazine of questionable validity while I awaited a hair appointment at the salon, I will grant) that a study reported in lower incidences of dementia amongst dancers as they age. I'm assuming that the reason for this is that the memorization involved in dance aids in healthy brain cells. I don't know if this is true or not, but we're stickin' with it, k?

-5- And we will be performing all of this dancey fun in a single week's time

Back to our quandary, we have rehearsal tonight and next Friday, and then we perform. We did not have rehearsal last Friday due to Independence Day weekend, so we're going to be a bit rusty tonight. Hence, we're wrangling together these 8ish choreographies in fairly close succession. It's true that we do already know (most of *gulps!*) them fairly well already, but we have to adapt the formations for who can make each specific performance and for the space that we'll be dancing in. There will be a bit of chaos tonight, to be sure...

-6- ...amidst a cacophony of props and potentially disastrous weather conditions

Oh right, and the performance on the 18th is down by a large body of water, did I mention that? So we're concerned about our wings and possible wind conditions.

See, that is a terrifying statement right there, but I have to admit that it is one of the reasons that I adore Middle Eastern dance so much. Always something new, always something fun, and we use delightful props that could be blown off our heads or otherwise cause us to possibly become airborne.


-7- Right. And I'm supposed to dance a solo with a sword balanced on my head. #BecauseIAmNuts

Adding to our routine quota I am slated to dance a solo when we need additional routines to fill the set, potentially on both weekends, but definitely on the 25th. And I decided to do a balancing piece with my sword, because apparently I like to live dangerously and cause myself to sweat a lot and my heart to skip beats. Practice is going well, and the reason I picked to do this is because my sword and I generally coexist pretty peacefully together, but it adds an additional element to fear to the next two weeks. Good blog fodder for certain, I'll keep you posted. :-\

All right, I'm off, but I hope that you all have a great weekend! What do you have planned? Going to any festivals in the next two weeks? Maybe you'll see me there. ;-) Talk to you next week!

Head to This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes! (edited to add: looks like there is no link up this week due to the Edel Gathering, but my happy dance post will remain, even if all by it's lonesome. :))