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. 😀

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Is there such a thing as too much dance excitement? A tale of exciting anxiety :0

Well, I'm here to tell you that there is. 😂 This week, I think we need wine instead of hot cocoa, but whatever your preference, settle in for a chat!


My mind has been all a whirl for quite some time now. There have been so many changes, as I've spoken of recently. And more are to come, as Henry starts high school this fall, Mike will begin a new teaching position, and even my own teaching responsibilities will look somewhat different next semester due to changes in the way our program will be administered. It's just a lot to deal with for someone who is quite averse to change. :-0

And then there's dance changes. Dance has been a constant in my life for just over 10 years now, and it was a staple in my childhood as well. It's something that has given me stability in my active life, and inspiration in my creative life. Those two things have grown over the most recent 3-5 years, for sure. I've kept on tackling new challenges in dance, and it has been the best thing that I have ever done.

I remember when I was in the beginner class thinking that all of the people who performed at haflas were so brave, that I could never do that. Well. 😳

I did that, and it was a downright BIG DEAL, performing with my class for the very first time. That's a HARD thing to do, I think back on it so fondly when I see new students at the studio getting the jitters about this, because I so completely understand. To be sure, I STILL get performance jitters before dancing. As in, major ones. But we'll come back to that.

So, first I took the leap and began performing with my class at haflas. Then I moved up to the troupe, and it was a given that I would perform more with them, since they perform at festivals and other events. At that point, that was a pretty seamless and natural transition. Also, right around that same time, I tried something ELSE I swore I'd never do: I performed a solo. THAT was a really huge milestone, if I'm being honest. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done in dance; to look out and see everybody waiting for you to start, because, you know, it's just YOU out there and they're all. Looking. At. YOU.

😬

It was scary, for a shy person, it must be said. But I did it. That was one of my proudest dance moments. I did a solo at every hafla after that, and I remember each of them. But that first one holds a special place in my heart.

After a few years, I got my first pro restaurant gig, and I have to say, that was a pretty scary leap too. 😂 And my pro experiences built up pretty slowly, so in-between those gigs it was like I was starting from scratch, sick to my stomach before each event and/or New Year's Eve. But I made it, and I got better at it, and I was proud.

And then, well. I did something a little crazy. I entered a dance competition.

😨😨😨

I'm not really sure why I did that. :-0 Well, my mentors encouraged me to, and this particular one is fairly local to us, AND the first stage involved simply filming and entering a video. Pshaw, I said. A video? I can do that. Well.

It's not as easy as it sounds. :-0 And you all know me, I'm an improvisational dancer. I LOVE to improvise, I'm good at it, and I feel comfortable doing it. What I'm NOT good at is creating choreography, and that's what I needed to do for this video. I mean, I *suppose* you could improvise in this situation, but that didn't strike me as a good idea for a competition. You want to assure that you showcase a range of movements and musical expressions, and with improvisation, you never know what the heck is going to happen. You may plan certain parts of it, to fit specific spots in the music, but in the moment, you may or may not remember to do those things. At least if my improv experience is any indication. It makes for beautiful, emotive, dancing, but in this particular case, it didn't seem to be the right fit. So I chose music and started a choreography. 5 months later...

:-0

I finished and filmed the video. 😂 For 3 minutes of choreography, yes, it took me 5 months. Because I kept changing and fine tuning things, and then I wanted to work on my technique and expression within the choreography. That took a lot out of me, I tell you. :-0 This was HARD! Really, really hard. And then the filming itself.

My teacher helped me to film the video. She has better equipment then I have, and offered up the studio as a nice big spot to film. This was fantastic, especially since the alternative was my small living room. We filmed 3 takes, and they went as follows:

Take 1: Went well, but I was nervous and stiffer in my execution.

Take 2: I'm all relaxed and into it. My favorite take by far. Figuring I'll use this one.

Take 3: I'm all sweaty and exhausted, and the adrenaline is starting to wear off. But I film one more just in case. I have a memory lapse towards the end, and forget a movement, but keep going. No matter, because I'm not using that one anyway.

A few days later, I look at the takes:

Take 1: is fine, but I know I can do better.

Take 2: Approximately 25 seconds into the 3 minute video, a thick portion of hair sticks to the sweat on my forehead and lodges there quite noticeably. All glamour, all the time, over here. I figure the hair flips and such I have coming up will fix that, but NOPE. It stays there for the entire.rest.of.the.song. Crap!

Take 3: I'm sweaty. But clearly more relaxed. There's that mistake at the end that doesn't look noticeable to the outside observer, but *I* notice it and it's bugging me. Now what?!

😭

This was all very stressful, I tell you. Sure, I could re-film, but my teacher had warned me about this phenomena: when you care about your art, there comes a point after which, when you have to ability to keep trying, you'll never be happy with it. You care so much that you always feel that it can be better. But at a certain point you have to call it enough. And that's where I was at. Plus, I did not want to inconvenience my teacher to take time out of her busy schedule to film me again. So I did the only sensible thing:

I roped my long suffering husband into moving the carpet and furniture out of our small living room so that I could do another take there. :-0

That was an amusing morning, it must be said. Me in a belly dance costume at 8 am, Mike rolling up an area rug and wedging the coffee table into our hallway. And both of us rigging up my small iPad mini to try and film. The things we'll do for love. Well.

The experience was worthwhile, but I didn't end up using that video. The picture and sound quality were just so much lower, and though we tried to control the natural light, it was still reflecting in at a bad angle and washing me out on one side of the room. I was glad that I had tried, because it made me feel like I had at least exhausted every possibility. And in comparing the videos, it made me appreciate the studio videos anew.

So what did I end up picking? Take 3, of course. I had a few friends watch them, and my teachers, and all picked Take 3 as their favorite. So I submitted that one and tried not to obsess about it. That was the end of May.

In June: Well OK, I obsessed a *little*, but I really think I kept it reigned in pretty well. :-0

Then on Monday, I got word: I was chosen as a finalist in my category. And I now have to perform live in September for the final round of the competition.

And this is the point at which we circle back to the performance jitters issue. WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING?! Now I have to go perform in a competition and I'm scared to death! 😂 Why do I torture myself this way?!

Because if we don't challenge ourselves, we won't grow. And if we don't grow, our art will die. When we grow, we are alive. And that's a good, good feeling, even if it's mixed with nausea. ;-)

The process of working on the choreography, and working to improve my dance within it, was more beneficial than I could have possibly realized. And even if nothing more comes of it than the stage I'm at right now (which is to say, I don't achieve a placing finish in the final competition, and of course, this is a very likely scenario given that all of the dancers at this level are extremely talented!) I'm so glad that I did this. I'm continuing to challenge and trying to improve myself, and that's an excellent thing. Plus, this business of me being a finalist in a competition is staying on my dance Instagram profile for all time and eternity. :-0

So, this summer will be dedicated to working on my choreography again. Your video submission earns you judges' comments, and they are SO HELPFUL, I can't even begin to tell you. So I'll be working on technique and a few small changes. In the end, all I can do is work to showcase my personal best. I'm going into September with no expectations beyond trying to achieve that.

Honestly, though. I cannot believe I went through with this. :-0 Don't get me wrong, I'm so glad for it! But this is nerve wracking. I hope that I feel really, really alive in late September. 😂

How do you continue to challenge yourself in the things you love? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, June 28, 2019

The happy distraction of summer crafting...

My crafting has been occupying my busy mind this summer, and believe me, the distraction is quite welcome and needed. This is also the time of year I get all into Christmas in July mode (even if it's not quite yet July; apparently I'm just as bad as the Hallmark Channel ;-)), and start planning items I want to make for holiday gifts. Want to see? :-0

Soooo, I may or may not have been promising Mike a cabled cardigan for approximately the past 5 years.

😬

I know, I know. Time just kinda got away from me! And I kept putting it off because a men's cabled cardigan is going to take some serious time to complete. But after I wrapped up a few longer term projects this spring I was itching for a new challenge. And look who finally got cast on?

Pattern is Rambling Man by Drops Design, and is free!

This is the back piece, and I have to say that I am IN LOVE. It is SO fun to watch the magic of cabling come alive, and the moss stitch texture in-between is just to die for. Currently, I'm working my way towards where I'll accommodate for the arm holes. I'd say I have about 2 more repeats of the chart before I'm there. After I finish this piece, I'll have 2 front pieces to knit, plus the sleeves, and a large ribbed collar and button band. Relatively speaking, I'm making quick and excellent progress! My goal is to have this completed by Christmas.

*virtual fist bump*

So that's officially gift #1. Anne has asked for an alpaca hat. I have yarn from an alpaca, but I think she also wants it to look like an alpaca? :-0 More research needed on this one. She's also asked for a snowman mug cosy, and I have yarn and buttons to make the most adorable one:

Pattern is Chill Chaser Cup Cosy, and is available for free!
I'm planning to make some stuffed animals this summer, many of which can be gifts, and I know that Anne wants a robin. I haven't told you all about the robin family that has been in and out of our back yard this summer, but it's absolutely precious, and we can commemorate this particular summer in this way. I need to look at patterns for this still!

For Henry, he always loves handknit socks, and the poor child, the last pair I knit him, I didn't remember to accommodate for how much his feet had been growing as he starts to go through puberty, and his toes burst through them within a few weeks. 😬 So I need to measure and make him a new pair for Christmas.

So that's:

(1) Mike's Cabled Cardigan
(2) Anne's alpaca hat
(3) mug cosy
(4) stuffed things, including robins
(5) socks for Henry

No problem. If anybody has any requests, you must tell me know now. ;-)

I'm also planning some treats for myself, one of which is a Hogwarts Express shawl with this lovely yarn I bought in Rhinebeck last fall:

Yarn is Dragonfly Fibers Birch Pixie
*blissful sigh*

I'm not planning to go to Rhinebeck this fall (*sobs!* But we have Catholic high school tuition, so you do what you gotta do) and so I'm planning to revel in the beautiful yarn that I bought last year. And my friend Nancy is attending and will bring back some yarn and alpaca socks for me and the kids.

*halo*

Do you have any crafting plans this summer? Gardening? Any "Christmas in July" plans of your own? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Some graduation related tears...

Hello friends, and welcome back! I'm a little bit emotional this week, and I just need to chat about life in general, so let's settle in for a cup of coffee!


This past Tuesday was Henry's 8th grade graduation from the K-8 Catholic school he's been at since 1st grade (that's quite a trip down memory lane, that link I just posted. I'm going to try not to cry again 😭). I took it HARD. This was surprising even to me: "Tiffany. It's 8th grade. It's not even a real graduation! Get a grip!" But there it is. I had a very difficult time with it.


I went to public school. The longest I was ever at any school was 6 years from kindergarten through 6th grade, and I don't have particularly fond memories from any of the three schools I attended before college. But my kids' school...it's different. It's a family. Everybody knows your name there. Everybody cares. Many of the people working there, as well as parents of other kids, are alumni of the school. The class sizes are small, and a warm and fuzzy sense pervades. A few pertinent anecdotes:

A beloved kindergarten teacher passed away two years ago, after teaching at this school for *37 years*. The Pre-k and kindergarten wing of the school is now named for her, because she was such a fixture there, teaching kindergarten to multiple generations of families. The school was emotionally gutted when she died.

Henry's 8th grade class held a tribute to the Pre-k 4 teacher, who came to the school the year that this particular class started Pre-k. Now those 4 year olds are leaving and going to high school. There wasn't a dry eye in the house for that one.

I never had a school experience like this. And Henry has been there for 8 years. He started there when I was pregnant with Anne, and I had prayed a novena for Mike to be won over to this school, to provide the impetus to move him from where he was to somewhere we'd have to pay tuition for him to attend. And he was. And it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

This school is a place of comfort and solace to me. It's warm and welcoming, and it's a community filled with faith. Anne will still be there for 6 more years, and the alumni certainly seem to keep up with the school, so I'm certain that it will always be in our lives. But my Henry, my first child, my guinea pig, the one I fretted over whenever we had to make a big change like this one due to his shyness and sweet nature, the one who spearheaded our foray into Catholic education...he won't be there anymore. My kids headed off to school, together, for the very last time. When I drive by the building every day on my way to work, and pray a Hail Mary for each of them, he won't be inside anymore. He's headed to a Catholic boys high school that he is SO EXCITED about, and I know that he will be in excellent hands there, but I keep coming back to something that repeatedly makes me cry:

It's the end of an era.

Anne owns a soft spot in my heart because she is my baby, but Henry owns an equally large soft spot because he is my first child, my beloved little boy who changed my life forever when he was born. Now he's heading off to something much larger and in some ways scarier, and certainly something that we have not experienced before with our kids: high school. He's becoming a young man, and while it's exciting to see, I'm also dreading all of these changes and all of the new worries that come along with them. I'm trying very hard, but I've been crying every single day. And my anxiety has been flaring up quite badly. But I keep trying.

Henry has some basketball goings on this summer at his new school, and he's also starting a work study program there to help fund his tuition. He'll ease in, to be sure, and they have an entire freshman welcome program designed to aid the kids in the transition. Most of the boys from his 8th grade class are also attending there, so he will see some familiar faces. And that's a good situation, because they're all really good kids. But it's going to be a BIG change.

I'm trying to hang in there over here, I promise. Mike hasn't started summer term teaching yet, so he's been home in the mornings after the kids go to school, and we've been talking a lot. About all of this and how we're struggling to handle it, each in our own way. It helps to have someone to talk to about it. My crafting has been a happy distraction, as has my dancing. I'll be posting about each of those in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep slogging on and hope that these emotional reactions to every little thing abate. I suppose it's part of the parenting journey, but it sure is cramping my style. :-0

I hope the rest of you are having a good week. I appreciate all virtual hugs and prayers! I guess I'm a little needy right now. 🤗

Thursday, June 13, 2019

It's a planning frenzy for this organization nerd...

Happy almost-summer everyone! It *finally* feels like spring here in WNY, just in time for summer, yay. :-0 But it's been lovely, truly, albeit a bit rainy. But we need the rain for the flowers and plants to grow, yes?

I have an organizational topic for us to share today, and although that may sound totally uninspiring, I have to tell you that the excitement of all of this has taken over my life, and I'm not being sarcastic. 😂 I've *really* enjoyed my foray into the previously unknown-to-me paper planner world, and picking something out for myself. Yes, I still use a paper planner. Although I do use the Google Calendar on my phone, I still thrive only when having something physical to look at when planning my days and weeks. I'm also a daily to-do list maker, and I love the ease of keeping all of that in one place.

This all got started because I forgot to put my order in during the pre-order phase for a new Blessed Is She planner, which is what I've been using for the past 2 years. That is a fantastic planner. Since I missed the pre-order, I thought to myself: "maybe I'll take a look at what else is out there." Well.

*falls down YouTube rabbit hole*

I had no idea that there were planner launches twice per year (fall and spring), planner conferences, and people who make planning and decorating their planners with stickers a full blown hobby. Scrapbooking is certainly a hobby, and this seems to be an offshoot of that, so it makes sense, but I had just never thought about it before. Although I don't see myself taking up the scrapbooking path, I'm quite fascinated by those who do. And there are so many planner options! Layouts, daily/weekly/monthly options, vertical vs. horizontal, to-do list placement, meal planning opportunities...my head was spinning, but after my first lunchtime YouTube marathon, I felt all invigorated.

Let's do this! :-0

I knew that what I was looking for was a planner with an hourly layout for each day (I absolutely NEED this for my sanity with my crazy, always evolving teaching schedule each fall and spring semester, but also to keep track of meeting times, appointments, and other good stuff like that) but I also like to see the entire week in one shot. This is apparently called a weekly planner with hourly layout (who knew?) and they're actually not as prevalent as I thought.

Weekly planner with hourly layout

Before I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole I was looking on Amazon, and almost none of the ones I found had this sort of layout. The big planner companies (that I didn't even know existed prior to this little adventure) all do, but I had to know the name for what I was looking for. Once I got that figured out, the video watching continued in earnest, and I eagerly lapped up videos of women unboxing their new planners (which is definitely a THING, believe you me), as apparently I was just in time for the nationwide academic year planner launch. I prefer academic year planners, to be sure. As a person who went to school for many, many years, they are uber comforting to me, like a solid old friend, and as I now work on a college campus, the academic option that begins in July or August each year works perfectly for me. I found that there were all these planner companies with enthusiastic followers filming videos on how awesome their planners are, and I admit it, I got caught up in Planner Frenzy. :-0 I'm telling you, I really had fun with this. Happy Planner, Emily Ley Simplified Planners, Inkwell Press, Plum Paper...my head was spinning with all of the customization options, and all of the beautiful planner covers. I had no idea that I could become so overwhelmed picking out a planner. 😂

I ended up ordering an Erin Condren Life Planner, which is apparently the Cadillac of planners. I chose the academic year start, hourly layout, a neutral/pastel color scheme for the interior, and I customized my outside cover. It just arrived yesterday, and I'm kind of in love with it:

😍
This planner is the cutest size ever (7x9), has a SUPER sturdy laminated cover and awesome, indestructible gigantic coil that this company is known for, absolutely gorgeous, thick paper that pens do not bleed through, and I just CAN'T EVEN with how much I love it. I have my beloved hourly spread for each week, to-do list area for each day PLUS one on the side where I can put weekly tasks that don't need to be done on a specific day, note and goal pages for each month, a cover with fall leaves that is absolute perfection, and it even has my name on it. 😍 I mean, I LOVE it. It comes with pockets, a separate perpetual calendar to keep track of birthdays and holidays, and a snap-in ruler to keep your place. I also purchased a separate snappy-in thing (this is called a DASHBOARD, I feel so fancy and planner savvy 😎) that lays out meal planning for an entire week, with grocery list on the back, and it's WET ERASE (sorry to keep shouting, but this is all just so INGENIUS) so that it won't smudge, and some wet erase markers. I am in NERD HEAVEN, I cannot even tell you. It does come with a few seasonal stickers, and so I went wild last night applying them to their correct holidays and occasions. I don't even recognize myself anymore. 😂

Cute extra pouch I bought to keep all my pens, markers, and other planner supplies in

I have been really enjoying this, for sure, and I'm all motivated to keep better track not only of my own stuff, but appointments and other commitments for the kids (which grow and grow the older they get, it seems) that we usually only keep on the family monthly calendar in the kitchen. But then...sometimes I forget about those things, and you know, I need to ferry them there, so I need to know those things! I'm slowly filling in my calendar for July and August with Anne's Girl Scout camp dates, Henry's high school work study schedule, basketball camp, and altar serving dates. It's definitely a calming experience for me, and is helping me to not feel like I may cry all the time with all of the changes happening right now in our lives.

How do you keep track of your daily and weekly schedules? Do you use a paper planner or another system? If so, you KNOW I want to know what type of planner you have, what features you like about it, and photos would be even better. 😍 Post in the comments!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A summer of reading the classics with my kids...or at least I hope so :0

You know how it goes. You have a picture in your mind of what it will be like to summer with your school aged children:



You will cavort barefoot in the yard while eating popsicles. Baby goats might be involved. You will take adventurous road trips in which the children will never whine that they are bored.You will lounge in bathing suits under the sprinkler. You will grill delicious food, and sit in the garden reading the classics while drinks adorned with fresh mint sit by your side.



Or, well, maybe your vision isn't EXACTLY like mine, but ultimately they all involve your kids being well behaved and great sports about all of the activities you really want to do/will really make you feel like a parent who achieves actual worthwhile parenting goals. But it never turns out  QUITE that way.

We don't have a pool, or even a yard that lends itself to easily playing with balls of any kind. We live on an urban postage stamp and space is at a premium. Although we've had a sprinkler, it does little more than make our uneven backyard a swamp. Balls go over the fence with reckless abandon. Lacking a back deck or easy access to the back yard, grilling only takes place in the kitchen and often involves the smoke detector going off. The kids still want to play video games far too much of the time. All road trips involve whining. And getting them to read over the summer is like pulling teeth.

It's a keeping-it-real kind of post today. 😂

As a librarian, I take the reading thing pretty seriously. Henry has always been a great reader, but this past school year he has not read anything on his own, just things he had to read for school. Anne has struggled a bit with reading, and goes weekly to the school reading specialist. She has improved significantly, but it's especially important for her to keep reading over the summer. She, however, has decided that she only wants to read books that are well below her reading age level, probably because they are easier for her to read.

I read most of the C.S. Lewis Narnia series with Henry when he was Anne's age or a year or two older, and we both loved them. My attempt to start up The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe with Anne at bedtime ended in an attitude-y declaration that she wasn't enjoying the story. I've sent a bunch of samples to her Kindle, and I'm hoping to go through them with her to find something she is enthused by, though I sense that the problem is just her own stubbornness, which is tougher to fix than finding a story that catches her fancy. But at any rate, the selections include (she will be in 3rd grade in the fall):

Harriet the Spy
The Secret Garden (available for free on Kindle if you're a Prime member, fyi)
Charlotte's Web
The Princess and the Goblin
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Ballet Shoes

I remember several of these books from my own childhood, and they are quite nostalgic for me! I don't mind reading the fairy series that she favors, but goodness, I need a break from the monotonous, fixed plotlines you find in those books. :0 I like the summer to have a "theme," if you will, in terms of reading. Harry Potter, summer thrillers, maybe classical mysteries. For Anne, I want her to embark on books of substance, classics or otherwise nostalgic childhood reads from my own lifetime. For Henry, I just want him to read...something. Something that he enjoys, to get him back into reading for pleasure again. He read And Then There Were None with his literature class, and this morning expressed an interest in Murder on the Orient Express, which I immediately jumped on in full enthusiasm. :0

And Agatha Christie -along summer!

*party time!*

What are you planning to read this summer? Do you have suggestions for getting kids interested in reading more classical books? I'm all ears in the comments!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Crafting updates, and summer reading plans...

Hi everybody, and happy end-of-May! Ugh, how did that even happen? :-0 I love May, I really don't want it to be over, but there you have it. This year, more than ever, I'm actually looking forward to the summer. I don't like the hot and humid weather, but this was a LONG winter, and I'm excited about enjoying what the summer has to offer in terms of being outside, dance festivals, gatherings with friends and family, and lots of good grilled food!

Another thing I do every summer is craft, which is counter intuitive, since one would think that the heat would mean I wouldn't want yarn hanging out on my lap, but one would be wrong. :-0 I do tend to shift away from blankets and wool sweaters to socks, mittens, and garments made with cotton, but all the same, I love summertime knitting and crocheting. It's also a tradition that I plan out my Christmas crafting list, but I won't subject you to that just yet. ;-) That tends to be in July, so still some more time to procrastinate and work on finishing up works-in-progress! And I've been working hard on those wip's. In fact, I've been so good this year, I HAVEN'T BOUGHT ANY YARN.

*sharp intake of breath*

I know, right?

I came to the realization that I have a lot of yarn.

*delicate twitching of nose*

Yes, I'm aware that I have had a lot of yarn for approximately 10 years now, but that's neither here nor there. I've been motivated and angelic about the situation for *this year* so we'll take it. Plus, I know that come fall, there are yarn festivals and Thanksgiving sales that mean that the chances of me buying yarn are 100%, so I might as well keep my halo perched while I can!

😇

And in terms of works-in-progress, not buying new yarn makes one more productive with finishing those babies up! I recently finished the Sweet Pea blanket that I was working on all winter:


And now I'm back to a shawl that I'm calling my Wintry Clapotis, which obviously was NOT finished by this winter like I had originally intended. ;-) This is a great free pattern, one of the most prolific on Ravelry, which utilizes a drapey effect caused by purposely dropped stitches. Oh, the naughty feeling of deliberately freeing a stitch from your needles and helping it to pull all the way to the bottom! :-0 It's wonderful, I tell you. I've made one before, with the worsted weight yarn that the pattern calls for, but I've always wanted to make a fingering weight version so that it would drape even more freely, and I chose a gradiating yarn for it:


It has sort of a "Frozen" thing going on, and I really love it. I'm more then halfway finished, and am aiming to have this done by next week! I also made a Tunisian crochet hat and baby jacket for a friend who is due this summer:




So we're getting there! After I finish the Clapotis, I want to make a list for the summer! Cotton will abound, to be sure. And I need to get back to the Great Crafting Obstacles List!

I'm also thinking about summer reading, because summertime seems to have it's own flavor for that, right? Sort of like Christmastime, I have specific types of books that I read in that season. This year, I'm continuing my summer Harry Potter tradition with "The Half-Blood Prince," and also planning to read lots of the light-hearted Love Inspired titles that I enjoy so much, and that I have *ah hem* many of on my Kindle. Seems that buying yarn and buying books are related in a way, yes? ;-)

What is on your reading and crafting list this summer? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Springtime springs new-to-me devotionals :)

Hello friends! It's nearly Memorial Day weekend, how the heck did that happen?! I love these holiday weekends that fall during summer season. They are lovely times to spend with friends and family. And with the kids getting older...I'm definitely appreciating them more now than ever.

This spring, I am trying out a new missal/Sunday devotional, and since this is a favorite topic of mine ;-), I thought I'd do a little review. 😀

As of May, I am a new subscriber to Living with Christ. In the past, I have subscribed to Magnificat, and I LOVE that publication. Magnificat is beautifully illustrated, and very comprehensive. It is a daily missal as well as a daily aid to prayer. It is on the pricier side, though. It is absolutely worth it if you use it every single day, but I found that I was only using it on Sundays. And for Sundays, $50 a year was a lot. Granted, I used to do the multi-year renewal, which brings the price down a bit, but still even $40-$45 a year is a lot when you're only using it once per week. So I finally did not renew, and while I missed it, I felt like it was the right decision. I've been using a St. Joseph Sunday missal that cost like $1.50. :0

But then I saw a special for a free issue of Living with Christ, and decided to try it out. I definitely had been missing having something a little extra special on Sundays, and especially during Holy Week. Before Mass starts, I'm often there early owing to Henry altar serving, and I do like something devotional to stick my nose into that gets me ready for the liturgy. And during Holy Week, I used to devour the Magnificat special edition, since I attend nearly all of the liturgies that week.

I ended up adding the Living with Christ special Holy Week issue on (since my subscription didn't start until after Holy Week, they *do* have a Holy Week issue included with your regular subscription) and absolutely loved it. It's exactly what I wanted: nice little intros to the readings that breaks them down in a relatable way, some extra articles to dip into during the month when you're feeling the urge or sitting in a waiting room, and generally something to look forward to each month. AND, an annual subscription is just $24.95. Even if I only use it on Sundays still (though it does also include the daily Mass readings) that is a much more manageable price for how I use it.

I'm quite thrilled. I need to look into getting a protective cover for it for when I shove it into my purse. But I think it's the perfect solution for the on-the-go, short attention span, sort of gal that I am.

Do you have a favorite Sunday or daily devotional?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dance updates and happenings, and has spring abandoned us?

Happy mid-May everybody! Usually, by this time of year, spring has sprung, but not this year. Weather here in WNY (and I think this is somewhat prevalent throughout the east coast and midwest this year) has been on average 15 degrees below normal, and this is the most rain we've had in a number of years. It has been a bit of a downer, if I'm being honest. You all know that I don't mind winter the way many of my compatriots do, but even I'm sick of it at this point. I love having 4 distinct seasons, I just wish they would all stay in their assigned months, kwim?

Fall: September/October/November (granted, a transition month, we can all live with this)
Winter: December/January/February
Spring: March (another transition month)/April/May
Summer: June/July/August

Is that too much to ask? Instead, the past several years, it's 85 degrees until late October, and winter starts in late January and goes through April. White Christmas? Who ever heard of such a notion. White Easter is the new thing. 😬

I enjoy each of the seasons, but it seems like summer and winter have been overstaying their welcome, while fall and spring have become nearly nonexistent. Yes, even summer can last too long. I don't want to be sweating while we're picking pumpkins.

So, at any rate, there's been some seasonal affective sluggishness around here. The diocesan track meet that Henry is participating in has gotten moved due to rain (you know, AGAIN), and my friends with kids playing softball have gotten nary a practice or game in due to either rain or sloppy field conditions. Nobody can wear sandals with bare legs yet, and everybody seems to be walking around in a confused and dazed state. :-0

But we're getting there. The kids' school year is winding down (they go until late June around here), and we're making summer plans. I've resumed dancing, following the calf injury I reported a few weeks ago. It's going well, the leg has continued to improve, but I'm very aware of the fact that it's not 100%, and it won't be, for probably 4-6 more weeks. I struggle with this, to be sure. I'm able to take my dance and Piyo classes (though I've skipped my Zumba dance fitness class for the past 2 weeks because I'm afraid all the twisting and hopping could potentially re-injure it), and I can pretty much do any movement I'd like now, but I have to be very careful. When I'm practicing everything is generally great, but attempting a full out rehearsal for the project I'm working on, with performance level energy, resulted in my leg reminding me that it's not 100% yet, which got me down a bit. I applied some ice last night, and am going to take it easy for a few days. I've been stretching daily, and using my foam roller on it, and I know that this is all I can do aside wait for the full 6 weeks for it to heal. I'm hating it. :(

But it's a reminder that we are not in control of everything, and that sometimes we have to be patient. This patience can even result in new opportunities, but it's so hard to let go. Today, I'm going to work on my upper body from a seated position, and this is an excellent little secret tip for dancers: When you're not thinking about what your legs and feet need to be doing, it's amazing how much you can train your torso, upper chest, hands, arms and face to do that you wouldn't ordinarily focus on. And I rarely take the time to do this, so this is the perfect opportunity to rest my leg and do it. It isn't easy to not be able to do everything that I want to, physically, but I'm doing my best to make the most of it.

So that's how it's going over here. How is spring in your part of the world? Donna, how is that snake bite coming along?! 😬