Friday, July 31, 2009

Penitential Fridays

I realized this week that it's been awhile since I last tackled a serious Catholic topic, so it got the little wheels in my brain turning. Tiny, tiny wheels these days, sigh. Anyway, this morning over breakfast, I read an article in the New Oxford Review on penitential practices on Fridays. It struck a chord, so here we are, discussing how to bring ourselves a little bit of misery that we can offer up on Fridays.

So, it used to be that Catholics were obliged to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year. This is an ancient tradition of the Church that developed with the aim of making Friday, the day of the Lord's crucifixtion, more sacrificial and prayerful in preparation for the celebration of His resurrection to come on Sunday. Catholics nowadays know that we are not obliged to abstain from meat as a penitential practice anymore except for Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, per the 1983 Code of Canon Law. That being said, in the back of my mind I knew that we are still supposed to make Fridays penitential, but that we can do it in a manner of our choosing. It was all a bit vague in my mind, which is unusual for your very conscientious and research-oriented Catholic Librarian. To my surprise, I read that the current Code of Canon Law still recommends that Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays as their manner of penance on Fridays. I found an old 2005 article from This Rock magazine that confirms what I learned, and explains things very helpfully, here. I particularly like this quote:

"This interpretation is confirmed by norm 2, which states that 'Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ.'"

I have been comtemplating fasting more lately, but I've always struggled with it. Fasting being a more general abstention from food - either between meals, skipping meals, or only eating bread and water on specific days. I've found it difficult to do while also cooking for a family. I don't want to digress, but essentially I've been looking for ways to physically draw my attention more to our Lord. So the penitential Friday thing seems like a much more manageable way to accomplish this goal. I thought it over this morning over my Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and quickly realized that my planned lunch - leftover chicken florentine - was already thwarting me. Once I got to work and discovered that I forgot the leftovers (SIGH) I thought that maybe this is my chance to embrace this old, but still very much recommended, tradition of the Church. So, I'm sitting here, hungry, wondering what on earth I can get meatless to eat for lunch, when this campus barely has even coffee service available in the summer. I'm craving McDonalds Sweet Tea (on the $1 menu, you must check it out!) but that is hardly going to (a) quench my hunger, or (2) provide a lot of meatless choices. I'll let you know how this goes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ladies Room Saga Continues...

I know that I complain quite a bit about the rest rooms here at work, but I can't help it. This is a serious quality of life issue, people. I use this particular ladies room multiple times per day, and it would be nice for it not to be a near occasion of sin for how angry the conditions make me. When I was pregnant it was terrible, because I was in there, absorbing the grossness, every hour on the hour. We're getting into TMI territory, so I'll get back on track.

Anyway, the soap dispensers have long been a thorn in my side in this particular ladies room. For one thing, where there is a sink, there should be a soap dispenser. I wouldn't think that this idea is all that revolutionary. There are 5 sinks; it bears to reason that each should have an accessible soap dispenser. Instead, there are 3 soap dispensers, and believe you me, they are pathetic. Out of the 3, one of them is actually nice. It's a high quality foaming soap dispenser that works great when it actually has soap in it. That's a separate issue. The other 2, in a word, suck. They both leak, dispense an absurdly small amount of soap, and you have to fight with them each time to actually do their job. The real kick in the teeth is that one of them isn't even remotely within the vicinity of an actual sink. It's over *by the door.* Why, you - a reasonable person - ask? I have no notion. All I know is that I feel ridiculous going to the door to get soap. When I bitched about this particular soap dispenser to my friend and colleague Bridget, she said "I hate that dispenser because I always worry that other people in the bathroom think that I'm heading to the door and not washing my hands before leaving." Ah ha! And I thought *I* was the only one who worried about such things. It's wonderful to not feel alone in ones neuroses :)

Anyway, the loathesome soap dispensers. Today, I go into the ladies room. Quickly, I ascertain that we have 3 brand spanking new soap dispensers...

*Angels Sing*

Once again, not 1 dispenser per sink, but you win some, you lose some. Excitedly, I note that all 3 are of the foaming variety. Now I'm really getting into this. This is BIG NEWS. Unfortunately, I am soon to discover a few unfortunate items. One, is that these are cheap ass soap dispensers. They work fine now, but I give them 3 months once school starts in the fall before terrible beatings begin to exact a toll on their bodies. Secondly, the one nice, original high quality foaming dispenser that dispensed soap like a dreamy cloud onto your upturned palm? Gone. And not just gone - in the *garbage can.* Why?! Of course, it would be months between refills of soap, so most of the time it also wasn't operational. But why spend the money on an actual nice item to just throw it away? Sigh. So, so typical of the facilities around here, unfortunately. Good people and services, but the facilities, to be charitable, leave a lot to be desired.

RIP, fancy, nice foaming soap dispenser. I'll miss you...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend plans, up in a puff of 3-year old smoke...

We had a rather tough weekend with Henry. He was very up and down, sort of like the weather we've been having here. Sunday morning, he was on an 'up.' He hopped out of bed to help Mike make pancakes, behaved angelically while we ate and cleaned up, and did some house chores. We left for the local Garden Walk with him earning an A performance for the day - truly remarkable.

He hopped out of the car when we arrived, was excellent while we obtained a map and walked to the first batch of houses. He loved going into the backyards of those houses that made that available, to see the flowers and fishy ponds and fountains that abounded. He trespassed a few times at houses that weren't even a part of the Garden Walk, but hey, he's 3. He did well.

Then, things changed. Within a window of approximately two and a half minutes, his behavior went from angels singing on high about how good he was to an absolute atrocity. At about the minute and a half mark, he began to whine. Then he began to walk directly behind me so that he could pull my hair and otherwise cause trouble. Since we could see where all of this was going, and it wasn't anywhere good, we decided to cut the Garden Walk short and head back to the car. The instant Hank realized our intentions, chaos ensued.

"I *NO WANT* to go back to the car!!! I want to go BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I managed to drag him along, trying to act as normal as possible, until we were near the car, in the middle of a park. At this point, things become an absolute cataclysm. Henry throws himself on the ground and begins to shriek. I pick him up, and he goes limp. All the while I am attempting to tuck him in and get him to the car, he's screaming. And he's kicking. People are beginning to look at us. When I put him down, instructing him to walk by himself, he screams something unintelligible and refuses to move. Finally, Mike has had enough. He comes over and tosses Henry over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and heads for the car. Given his powerless physical position, Hank uses the last weapon in his arsenal, and it's a nasty one:


Great. I can see the headline tomorrow:

"Child Protective Services Called to Local Garden Walk: Sullen parents currently being questioned."

We get him to the car ASAP, and strap him into his car seat. We close the door. This is a moment every parent dreads. From outside the car, we can see Hank locked into his car seat - head sweaty, limbs flailing, mouth open in a big O of protestation. But we blisfully can't hear anything. However, the instant we open that car door, we will be assailed. And we will continue to be so for the duration of the ride home. Sigh.

After yet another meltdown at home, at which time he had to spend some time in his bedroom upstairs, he calmed down, and was well behaved and contrite for the rest of the day. It was a long, long day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Morning of a Catholic Librarian

I've often dreamed of being a true morning person. Getting up at 5 am all refreshed-like. Doing daily devotional Bible reading, exercising, leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee and breakfast, all before tackling main tasks like bed fixing, hair brushing, and make-up putting on. Oh, and dealing with a crabby 3 year old. But much as I long for this, I'm not a morning person, I'm just not. I'm certainly better than I used to be. I'm up between 6:30 and 7 am on the weekdays, and 7:30 and 8 am on the weekends. This, compared to 10:30-11 from my more slovenly days is quite an improvement, I assure you. All the same, I struggle with forcing myself out of bed in the mornings, and I always, always, always push the envelope. Every day, I'm running around crazily 2 minutes before I have to leave, trying to do 5 things at once.

This morning was no exception. My mom often watches Henry on Fridays, so that adds the complication of having to drive him 25 minutes up to my parents' house and then 25 minutes from there to work, instead of the usual 5 minute daycare commute. I didn't get out of bed til 6:55 (bad girl!) and everything from there was painful. Everywhere I turned, Hank was whining or otherwise causing unpleasant disturbances.

"I no want to go potty." "I no want to sit at the table." "I WANT JUICE!!" "I no like that."

Fifteen minutes after we should have left, I finally get him tucked into his car seat. We embark. As I'm trying to (1) drive, (2) pray a rosary, and (3) listen to a podcast, Henry is peppering me with queries:

"Mommy are we on the highway?"

"yes honey."

"No we not. Mommy what is that?"

"it's the bridge honey."

"Mommy, does little Elijah live on the bridge?"

"No honey, he lives on Grand Island."

"Mommy are we on the highway?"

"YES sweetheart."

"No we not. Mommy, is this the highway?"

Long before Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, I had to start the Apostles Creed over 5 times. It was pretty rough. In the background, I had on The Catholics Next Door, podcast edition, which I love. How I long for satellite radio, where I could access The Catholic Channel any time my little Catholic heart desired. Sigh. We have local Catholic radio here, which I'm unendingly grateful for, so I shouldn't complain. But 3 hours of Catholic talk radio daily with cute and funny Greg and Jennifer Willits? I want that.

Anyway, now I'm all caffeinated up, and I haven't accomplished nearly the things on my to-do list that I wanted to. I embarked on creating some online student reference assistant training, but it's pretty slow going. I have to update and edit my own old Word documents, and it's fairly agonizing. Lately, I feel like I'm constantly putting out fires and never getting to the large, looming items, like, I don't know, publishing another article so that I can make tenure. Minor things like that.

Yesterday, as I was packing up to leave, a panicked-looking student wandered into my office.

"Um, I need some help. Are you the person I go to for that?"

*I pause in the act of stuffing my planner into my cute little bag* "Well, maybe." *winning smile* what do you need help with?"

"Oh, EVERYTHING!! I need to write a paper, and I need help with, you know, finding things in the virtual library."

I just knew I wasn't getting out there on time, but the student was happy and exuding much less anxiety when he left, so I guess I put my powers to good use.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back from North Carolina...

I just got back from a long weekend visiting my sister in Charlotte, North Carolina. I've never been to North Carolina before, so I got a large dose of southern culture, to be sure. We went out to eat at a place that served hush puppies free with every meal, and referred to unsweetened iced tea as "Yankee style." NASCAR abounded. I saw a Carolina Wren, the adorable guy to the left. Good times.

Now I'm playing catch up at work, born from a summer rife with unexpected events and workload overload. We'll get there. Right before lunch, I took a break to use the ladies room and had a classic libraries restroom experience. I've blogged about this before. I don't know why, but the library bathroom on the first floor is by far the most objectionable on campus. Topped only by the portapotties (sp?!) that the omnipresent construction workers use, I'm certain. It's always sticky, nasty, and out of soap. Every.single.time. The summer is slightly better only because there are less people around to carelessly "forget" to flush the toilet when they're finished.

So anyway, I'm in there, ever so delicately using the facilities, when I hear someone else come in. Nothing abnormal about that, I go about my business. I come out of my stall, and wash my hands. As I'm drying them, I catch sight of the closed stall currently in use. Given that I'm in the *ladies* room, I stopped short upon realizing that the feet of the person in the stall are facing the toilet. Oh yeah, not to be indelicate, but all sounds indicate that facilities are currently in use. I pause in my hand wiping, utterly betwixt. Suddenly, other sounds of life emote from the stall.

"Wait. Did I go in the wrong bathroom?" *uncomfortable silence* "Dude. I totally think I'm in the wrong bathroom."

CatholicLibrarian quickly finished wiping her hands, and made a beeline for the exit, clickety-clacky shoes on the tile only confirming for the other poor soul that he was indeed in the wrong restroom.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

National Museum of Play

Yesterday, I journeyed to the Strong National Museum of Play with Henry, as well as two of my good friends and their kids. A good time was had by all, but as would be expected when driving over an hour each way with only 3 adults but 4 children all under the age of 4, things could be challening at times.

Our saga begins at approximately 10 am, when my friend Rose comes to pick us up. She has her 2 children, Alexandra and Michael, in the car, and we have to load up 2 more car seats. After 10 minutes of effort during which time I broke out into an unladylike sweat, we are off to fetch Sarah and her little son, Jude. Mission accomplished. Away we went, with Sarah's apt comment "Boy, this is sure going to be fun" resonating atop an unhappy wail from one of the car seats; at least 2 out of the 4 children were crying or otherwise expressing discontent for the length of the ride.

We arrive over an hour later, and the 2 older children are particularly ready to be free of their car seat prisons: "WE WANT TO PLAY!!"

Ok. So, it's 12:30 and we're all starving for lunch, but we're not going to tell the kids that just yet so as to avoid a riot. We all pile out of the car, and I quickly realize that I am very spoiled with my 1 potty trained kid carrying only Teddy and a sippy cup. Rose and Sarah are struggling with diaper bags and strollers, so I am game to pitch in. I grab the nearest baby and hoist him out of his seat. I immediately uncover that not only is a diaper change in order, but a full outfit overhaul is absolutely necessary. I break the bad news, and a diaper changing station is rapidly assembled at the side of the van. I occupy Henry and a rotating assembly line of toddlers as more diapers and outfits are freshened on an 'as needed' basis.

Finally, all are dressed and ready and we head in. Henry and Alexandra are bursting at the seams for some fun times and an outlet for their caged energy. We have to break it to them that several things stand in our way for the short term: the line to get tickets, a necessary stop at the ladies room, and lunch. Frowns are had by all.

CatholicLibrarian standing in line: "Henry. Henry. HENRY. Don't play with the cord. No, don't touch that. Come back here please, honey, that's an emergency door. The playground outside does NOT constitute an emergency. Henry. HENRY. Come here dear."

CatholicLibrarian in the ladies room: "Do you have to go pee, honey?" "NO." "Are you sure?" "NO." "Let's try. Pull your pants down. Here you go." "I no want to stand up. I want to sit down." "Henry, you always go standing up." "I NO WANT..." "OK, fine." *plop Henry on toilet seat* *am nailed right in the pant leg by stream of urine*

CatholicLibrarian at food court: "Great. Taco Bell, Subway, and Pizza Hut, not exactly the height of healthy eating." *has to stand in two separate lines to secure pepperoni personal pan pizza and a Fresco "less than 9 grams of fat" bean burrito* I'm certain you can guess which was for me and which was for Henry.

Finally, we are ready to play. Henry and Alexandra make it known in no uncertain terms they are to be taken to the choo choo train, and they aren't waiting another moment. We head right there:

Henry also enjoyed playing with the giant wooden train set:

All 4 children cavort happily at the Sesame Street display for a time, and then we move to the absolute cutest part - The tiny grocery store:

Note Teddy loaded up in the front of the cart for his comfort. Too, too cute.

We play for several hours, ride the carousel, and are then more than ready to hit the road. A stop at Dunkin Donuts for iced coffees and cookies was an absolute necessity. All of the children promptly fell asleep except for my son, who was so ill behaved I was ready to post a sign on my front lawn upon arrival back in town:

Handsome, adorable personality, good teeth, potty trained
Comes with clothes, shoes and Batman bed sheets
Best offer will also receive stuffed bear complete with previously formed attachment

It was a long day. But, it was a ton of fun, and I love seeing my little guy so happy and engaged. Challenge or not, he's always a blessing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A busy, busy summer

I have decidedly have not had the time to blog that I would have liked :) I'm busy at work, busy at home, busy with Henry. It's been crazy. Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to transport Henry and some friends to a Museum of Play that is about an hour away. He's so excited he can barely contain himself. He has the little "Visit a Museum" magnet up on his Melissa & Doug magnetic chiledren's calendar for tomorrow. Too, too cute. I will report in when I return to work on Thursday. I'm hoping there won't be a scene when we have to leave. We'll see.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A stuffy Catholic Librarian...

Sigh. So, in the midst of all that has been going on recently, I acquire a cold. Henry has had one, but it didn't linger, and he's getting better. Saturday night/Sunday morning I woke up with a focused headache that pierced my very skull. I have *never* had a headache like that before, ever. Sure enough, after stumbling to find ibuprofen at 2 am and wimpering through the rest of the night, I awake Sunday morning with a head stuffed to the brim. I sniffled through that day, popped Ibuprofen on a regular basis, and gave up all modesty with regards to blowing my nose in public. By Tuesday, my nose was so raw I was ready to sever it from my face. It's been a long time since a cold has made me this miserable and difficult to live with. So, Wednesday, I did the best thing ever and picked up a box of Puffs with lotion. Sweet Mother of God, do they make a difference. They actually make a new sub-category now with Vicks right in the tissue. Isn't that a miraculous invention? The grocery store didn't have those, though, so I had to settle for the lotion. All the same, they worked their magic, and though my nose is still pretty gross (aren't you glad I'm telling you this story?) it's at least allowed to stay on my face.

So then, it seemed like I was getting better. I stayed home yesterday to paint the master bedroom (a smashing, warm pumpkin color) and my nose blowing finally seemed productive. I felt confident that I was on the upswing.

Well. Then it got to be time for bed. I started to cough. Nefarious, vile little virus. I desperately tried to make the cough go away by not moving, and as you might expect, that didn't work. Pretty soon I was hacking enough to awaken people in the next town. Mike offered to sleep down in the guest room futon so that I wouldn't have to make things even harder on myself by trying to hold back the coughs. I know that he secretly loves having that futon all to himself to stretch out in whenever one of is sick in the coughing fit sort of way, so I gave him leave. He escaped just in time, before I switched on the Hallmark channel to find a Golden Girls marathon. Eureka. The night suddenly looked up. (Mike's reaction the last time he got in bed and got a load of the Girls: "Oh. Oh God.") It was a Christmas episode, and before Dorothy's ex-husband Stan had even stopped acting stupid, I was asleep. Shortly, I'm awakened by Hank padding into the room, looking skeptically at the Golden Girls. I switch off the tv, and find that I've reached that miraculous zenith when the coughing has ceased and your chest has relaxed. I fall into a blissful slumber.

At 5 am, I awaken to hacking. Oh right, that's me. I hack. And hack, and hack, and hack. I try all contortions of different positions, to no avail. I cannot sleep. But I'm exhausted, so I keep nodding off, only to be awakened by that devilish tickle in my throat followed by hacking. I finally doze, approximately 10 minutes before I have to get up for the morning.

I'm so very tired. I have no notion of how I'm going to bellydance tonight, but somehow I'll have to try. I haven't been able to make class in weeks, and I miss it, and all my friends there. I have a date afterwards with a cup of tea and the afghan I'm crocheting. Very much like a little old lady, but I'm like that even when I'm not sick. Although I bellydance, so I suppose that raises my esteem a bit. At least I hope so.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back from a long weekend...

Which involved my grandmother's wake and funeral, so it was a tough one. It reiterated to me, though, how much I want all of the Catholic ritual and tradition when it's my time to go as well. Sacrament of the Sick and Dying. Check. Mass of Christian Burial. Definitely. All the incense and holy water you can throw on me. White shroud for over the casket. Good stuff. The funeral was lovely, and the programs included a beautiful picture of my grandmother as a young woman, looking over her shoulder real cute and sassy-like. The whole enterprise was a wonderful tribute to her life. To her life as a wife and mother, and to her life of faith.

Now I'm sick. Just a cold, but I'm hacking away and blowing my nose approximately every 3 minutes, so it's not one of my more attractive moments. It's been a difficult couple of weeks, to be sure. I'm trying to get back into things at work, and trying to reorganize things at home after these weeks of (understandably) having a change from the routine. Like having groceries in the house and having a clean bathroom.

Anyway, a cute Henry anecdote before I sign off.

"Mommy, what's in my teeth?"

"I have no idea honey."

"Daddy, what's in my teeth?"


"Mommy, did you hear that?! There are animals in my teeth!!"

"No Hank, E-NA-MEL."


Friday, July 3, 2009

Night life of a pre-schooler

Henry and I are progressing slowly but surely through the Old Testament in his little children's Bible. Last night we read about the Tower of Babel. It's all very cute. He's still a huge fan of Jonah (as well as Goliath; ah, well) and we have to read about those guys every night.

"Mommy. I want to see the fish. Why is he in there? What's that mommy? How did he get in there?!"

But I'm enjoying this particular children's Bible, because it's larger in size than the other board book Bibles that Hank has accumulated (there is more to the Bible than Adam and Eve, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Jesus being born, and Jesus greeting the children, which is all one of the editions that we have includes), but the stories are short enough so that he won't lose interest. Three year olds have an attention span of approximately 10 seconds. All in all, the Bible is very well done. Mike notes that children's Bibles seem to make God very petty: "I really don't think God got angry because this one guy was being a bit cavalier, which is how the story makes it sound..." but that's hard to avoid with these sorts of things. Hank is excited about reading the Bible, which is making me really happy. He also has a bedroom freshly painted 'surf green' at this request, with a little cross above his adorable toddler bed. Precious little soul.

Our beautiful son. Who has somehow incorporated the word "awesome" into his vocabulary. As in, "Iron Man. Awesome!" And who has demonstrated to me that certain things are ingrained into all of us from birth.

"Hank honey, have you been going potty at school?"

"Yes mommy. I goed all by myself"

"Have you pooed at school, sweetie?"

"Oh no, mommy, I couldn't possibly do that. No poo. Oh no, not at school. Just pee pee."

Apparently some things are just common human desires, regardless of age.