Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent begins...

We had a wonderful holiday weekend, and it was hard to come back to work this morning. For the first Sunday of Advent, Henry once again went with the big kids for the Children's Liturgy of the Word. He did excellent, though he mentioned when he returned to the pew that each week he uses the potty back in the sacristy, because "they have a really nice bathroom back there, Mommy."

It was a lovely Mass though, and now that I can listen to the readings and homily uninterrupted it's like a bonanza for me each week. Not that I minded doing my motherly duty by keeping Henry occupied in the pew for the entire Mass, but this is an unexpected treat. It's working out very well.

We set up our Christmas tree this weekend and all of our Advent and Christmas decorations. I took pictures, and then promptly left the camera at home, sorry about that. I'll post them tomorrow. The Advent wreaths look lovely; we lit the first candle yesterday after dinner. I set up the wood Advent calendar and within hours, some cute little person (who will remain nameless) took it down and shook all the charms out from their tiny boxes and we now have 23 charms instead of 24. Luckily, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus have been located and are resting comfortably back in their boxes. I think we're missing a donkey. Ah, well.

Henry's Fisher Price Nativity Set is so, so adorable, and he begged to set it up on Friday, so we did. He's really into it this year, acting out all kinds of adventures for the Holy Family. We have quite an extensive set, with the 3 Wise Men, lots of animals and numerous shepherds. Hank keeps asking if King Herod came to see baby Jesus (he remembers his Bible stories very well, that child) and I told him that no, King Herod did not; it he had, it really would have put a damper on the first Christmas.

So, back on Friday, I lost my senses a bit and agreed to go shopping with my mom. I've gone shopping on Black Friday before, and it's always been a fairly excruciating experience. This year, I did it right. My mom tried to convince me to wake up at 4 am like she was, but I merely snorted in response. There is no material object in this world worth waking up at 4 am for, I say. The only time I was up that early was the night/morning I went into labor with Hank. Enough said.

So, we all slept in, and I leisurely strolled out of bed at 7:30 am. My mom was already at the mall, chomping at the bit on her blue tooth, wanting to know where I was. By time I left the house, it was 8:30, and the first place I headed was Jo Ann Fabric. Not too many people at the craft store on Black Friday - how many hard core knitters are there, anyway? Not very many, I assure you.

After that, I met my mom at Toys R Us. Now this, my friends, was ugly. Parking wasn't bad, because our Toys R Us is located in a plaza where a number of stores have gone out of business, so plenty of parking to be had. Shopping carts on the other hand - I actually had to stalk the front of the store and beat someone to a recently deposited cart, that's how desperate I was. Constantly at my elbow, there was a person in my way. Granted, I was also in their way. Can't be helped. It was before 1 pm, so we did manage to snag some doorbusters - I got a $40 Transformer for Hank for $20, and an adorable Spider Man/Incredible Hulk set of megablocks for $14.99, marked down from $25. It was sweet.

Not so sweet was the check-out line. But I saved $45 overall, so I was a very happy librarian. Armed with my yarn and toys, I went home exhilarated...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Business...

Yesterday evening, I was invited to be a guest speaker at a library school course here on campus. Much sweating ensued. But it went well. Very well, I think. It's so nice to speak with graduate students, as they seem much more interested in what I have to tell them than undergraduates. Nobody fell asleep - that's always a good sign. They all seemed to be following along and engaged. Good stuff.

Today is pay day, so I seized the opportunity to stalk a few places online wherein I have my eye on some gifts for Hank. The big thing that I want to get him from Santa is the Fisher Price Imaginext Space Shuttle. Target has exclusive rights to sell it, and for the life of me I couldn't find a single shuttle at any Target that I obsessively traveled to. Online, they were listed as being out of stock. Well. Imagine my excitement when I stalked this morning and found them back in stock and ready to ship. I snagged one immediately. Very excited :)

In not so great news, I stepped on the scale a few days ago and realized that I've once again gotten back to that high end of the spectrum of what my weight has been since I gave birth to Henry. I really can't use that as a guidepost anymore seeing as Hank is 4 years old, but hey, what the heck. It's a 10 pound range, and for the most part I've managed to stay right in the middle. Well, I'm now at the *top* and the Catholic Librarian is decidedly unhappy about this. So, 3 days ago I cut out snacking and have already lost 3 pounds. Life is so unfair. It's not like I snacked all that much or eat badly at all. We're pretty conscientious in my house of eating healthy food and staying in shape. I've never been a gym-goer, but I walk and run when I can, which is regularly, and we buy whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, etc. I should be able to eat a cookie at 3 pm every day and not have any repurcussions, but alas.

The snacking thing is particularly nefarious. Right around 10 am and 3 pm each day at work, I get hungry. And it's sssssooooo easy to justify to yourself why your chosen snack is really not that bad for you:

"Fritos. They have corn in them, right? That's a *grain*; how can that possibly be bad? I'll just have this one tiny bag..."

250 calories later, you're still hungry, and so then I tend to eat more at dinner, and maybe even dessert. Doing this for mutiple weeks is how 5 lbs "magically" appears on the scale.

So anyway, it's not that bad, but I can't help how I am. I'm happy with the way I look, but I don't want to get complacent. Those 5 lbs are toast.

Given that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, this will pose a bit of a challenge, but I'm up for it. I plan to eat less so that I can drink more wine. I'll need it, with the extended family drama that will inevitably accompany each holiday...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I won't be posting for the rest of the week; I'll report in Monday on the First Sunday of Advent :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anticipating Advent...

This is going to be one of those lengthy, roundabout, Catholic Librarian stories, so settle in :)

Advent has become particularly meaningful to me as an adult. As a child, I don't recall doing much special for Advent - it was just the time before Christmas. I do remember the Advent wreath in church, and I always wanted my own candles, but we did not attend Mass with any regularity back then, and we didn't pray or engage in any traditions as a family, so it really didn't think too much of it. Christmas Eve was one of the two occasions per year on which we attended Mass, and I remember enjoying it, for the most part. Mainly, I remember feeling squeezed in the pew, because there were so many people that attended the Christmas Eve vigil at our parish.

As a young adult, in law school, I went into a very difficult time in my life with a very thin faith foundation. I attended Mass occasionally with my good friend Irena, but honestly, it was never at my initiation. I'm so grateful to her for getting the Church back onto my radar screen. As an undergraduate, I had attended Mass regularly, including daily Mass, but I just fell away from that closeness, because it just really had not taken root.

In the fall of my second year in law school (after a summer in which I seriously examined my goals in life and wondered whether I should continue my studies in that particular field, as I didn't like it very much) I went through a particularly painful couple of months. I was unhappy, I wasn't acting like myself, and I was making bad choices. One Saturday in late November, Irena and I ventured to Barnes & Noble - we're both readers, so we easily spent an afternoon browsing, and then bringing our prizes up to the cafe to examine over tea and scones. I was browsing away, and happened upon the religion section. Because this was a giant Barnes & Noble, their religion section was so large it actually had it's own Catholic subdivision, something I've never seen at any other branch I've been to. I started looking at a few titles...

Thirty minutes later, I limped up to the cafe weighed down with close to ten books. I was particularly taken with a title that focused on Marian apparitions. In high school and college, my family had come back to the faith via a prayer group that was inspired by a particular Marian apparition. It evoked a deep emotion in me that I hadn't felt in quite some time, and I bought the book. I also picked up a title about the history of the Church and a memoir about the lives of a group of men studying for the priesthood - a book I still love to this day and re-read every couple of years called The New Men, by Brian Murphy.

The following Monday, I was in class and contemplating whether I should check out the daily student Mass held in the campus chapel that I had seen a sign for. I remember thinking it over, knowing it would mean putting lunch off for another half hour as well as having to be around people I didn't know - all that introvert anxiety stuff. After class, I hovered near the building exit, trying to make up my mind...and I went. And my life has never been the same.

You're probably wondering what the heck Advent has to do with any of this, right? :) Well, I went home that day and turned on the tv. As I flipped, I passed by EWTN. It was the first week of Advent, and in the corner of the screen, they had placed a little Advent wreath icon with one of the candles burning. I don't know why that had such an effect on me, but it did. I kept turning the tv on to EWTN just to glimpse that little icon. Something about it evoked a childlike openness to reexamine my childhood faith in fuller detail; and I've been an EWTN devotee ever since :)

That was 11 years ago this Advent. Holy S*!@, that makes me feel old :) Ah well. After that Advent, I often got my hot little hands on an Advent devotional, and since I was then attending Sunday Mass, I looked forward to Advent homilies focusing on the season. My Confirmation saint is St. Cecelia, whose feast day is in November, and whom I've blogged about in the past. This November, I've been thinking alot about my grandmother, who passed away this summer, and whose name I wrote in our parish's book of names, in honor of the Feast of All Souls. November is a pretty big installment in my faith life each year.

Now that I have a child, Advent has inspired a creative kick in me that I'm really enjoying. This year, the Catholic Librarian's home will feature:

1.) Two Advent calendars. One is a chocolate Advent calendar that Henry drools over every year. Each day, the child opens a window to reveal a seasonal piece of chocolate. This is the secular installment to our Advent traditions :) The other is a beautiful wood Advent calendar that I received from the Catholic Company. Each day, Hank and I will open one of the boxes and take out a tiny ornament to hang on the featured nativity scene.

2.) Advent wreaths. We have a traditional, plain Advent wreath with taper candles, very much like the one in the picture at the top of this post. We light the candle(s) each Sunday evening between dinner and bedtime. The other is a special child's felt Advent wreath that I got for Hank this year. It's *adorable*. He can velcro the appropriate candle on each week.

3.) The Giving Tree. Our parish is going to featuring a giving tree, starting on Thanksgiving. Hank and I can go up and select an ornament detailing a child in need that we can buy a Christmas gift for. I'm going to have him assist in selecting a gift, and we can wrap it together so that he can place it under the tree at church. I want to start some lessons on charity and gratitude with him.

4.) Nativity scene. I have a small nativity scene I add to our dining room buffet each year, but Hank has the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set, and we're going to set it up this Sunday. It's a really nice set, and my friend Sarah bought him a bunch of cool add-ons, like the three wise men and some extra shephards and animals.

5.) Advent devotional. This one, I still haven't finalized. I do have the In Conversation with God volume for Advent and Christmas, so I can use that for myself. I may stop at my local Catholic store to see if I can find anything that would be appropriate for Hank and I to read together.

So, I'm very excited :) I'm looking forward to truly sharing the season with Henry this year. Life is good...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun, enjoyable weekend...

I'm all aglow from my *tremendously* nice weekend and eager to blog about it :) We have bellydancing, a knitting class, Mass for the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, Hank joining the ranks of the "big kids" for Children's Liturgy of the Word, and somehow an amusing anecdote about furniture polish in the kitchen comes into play. Let's begin :)

So, Friday night, I eagerly headed to dance class all dolled up. Like repressed DMV experiences of the past, when I found out that Claire planned to take photos during class for her web site, I simply had to do something cute with my hair and wear earrings. I can't help it.

I also broke out my new hip scarf, which earned rave oohs and ahhs from my classmates. Maybe it's because of it's more stabilizing V shape, but even though it's made of chiffon, that puppy stayed in place like nobody's business. I was very, very pleased.

So we belly drilled and shimmied, and Claire snapped photos of us. We did some posed shots during performance group, and it became clear to me how very much this class, and this group of women, has come to mean to me. I had a *really* good time, followed by the post-class veggies and wine gathering in which I learned all the dirt on every other bellydance studio in the area. It was *sweet*.

Saturday I awoke very tired; I suppose that's because I was out until midnight kibitzing with bellydancers. And this from a woman that is usually tucked in bed by 9:30 pm each night. So yes, I was tired. It was a pleasant day, in which Hank was particularly well-behaved, but the action really picks up again Sunday.

So, yesterday was the final Sunday in Ordinary Time. I *love* the church's liturgical calendar. Love, love, love it. There's always something new you can learn about it, and I adore the ebb and flow of the main seasons, Advent and Lent, interspersed with interesting feasts and memorials. I'm already anticipating Advent with excited enthusiasm, and I'll blog about that in detail tomorrow.

Anyway, I told Hank that next week we would see the Advent wreath in church, etc., and if he was an extra good boy at Mass this week (week 2 of his back-of-the-sanctuary probation following the fiasco of 3 Sundays ago) we could sit in the front of the church next week so he could see the wreath and Advent candles better. Then he asked about something I knew would come into play around now:

"Mommy, could I go up with the big kids during the readings?"

Our parish has a Children's Liturgy of the Word program during the 10 am Family Mass on Sundays, and I've never known quite what to think of such manifestations. There's perpetually a thread going on about such programs on the boards over at, which I always read with interest. Opinion seems divided into 2 camps: (1) those that think it's wrong for a lay person to remove the kids from the Mass, and consequently not have them in the pews absorbing everything with their parents, and (2) those that think it's no big deal and more engaging and fun for the kids.

I haven't really formed a full opinion on this. I do think it's key for children to be used to sitting through the actual liturgy/Mass (or other church service) and not expect it to be fun and engaging all of the time. Sometimes it's just about quietly worshipping and turning our minds to God, and naturally this is difficult for small children. There have been stretches where I haven't brought Hank to Mass with me because he simply wasn't able to quietly sit still for an hour, and that was very normal for his age. If fact, I believe it's important for parents to have realistic expectations with regard to such things. Since Hank has turned 3, he's been (generally :-\) quite good at Mass, so I bring him every week. I want to expose him to the ebbs and flow of the liturgy and the traditional elements of the church building itself. And this is all done from right in the pew each week, with Mommy as his guide. This is my job, and I love doing it.

So, now that he's 4, I figured the Children's Liturgy of the Word question would come up. What this entails (in our parish) is that right after the opening prayers, and we all sit down for the scripture readings, the priest calls the children up to the altar. He blesses them, and then sends them off to the sacristy with a parish catechist, who engages them in an activity related to the readings of the day. Generally, it is geared toward children preschool aged through First Communion, when they are then attending CCD classes outside of Mass and can presumably understand the readings more without such an aid. They children are back in the sacristy for the duration of the readings and the homily, and then come back out usually following the recitation of the Nicene Creed and the intercessory prayers.

So, Sunday, since Hank asked, and he *does* get plenty of pew time with Mommy, I told him that if he was being good, he could go. He was SO excited that he could hardly sit still at the beginning of Mass. When the priest called them up, I nudged my baby out of the pew, and up he went, like a big, big boy to gather with the other children on the altar. I watched him shyly stand there, in his Buzz Lightyear shirt and Transformers sneakers, and duitifully follow everyone to the sacristy. When he came back out during the collection, clutching an activity sheet, he looked a bit lost and couldn't find me as the other children scampered back to their parents, so I discreetly crept up along the side of the church and motioned him over to me. He hurried over happily, aglow with excitement, and immediately told me:

"Mommy, I liked going back with the big kids. I did."

I asked him what he did back there, and he answered:

"We said pwawers and talked about Jesus."

He asked if he could go again next week, and I told him sure. He was so bloody adorable about the whole thing, how could I resist? For the remainder of the Mass, he had a halo firmly perched on his carmel blond head. He was quiet and respectful, and recited all 3 of his main prayers following Communion (with the exception of the middle of the Our Father - we jump right from "Our Fader, who awt in heaven, hawoed be thy name..." to "and weed us not into temptation, but dewiver us from evil, AMEN!") It was so cute that I noticed people smiling and looking at him during Mass. I made sure to tell him when we got into the car how good he had been, and how very proud of him I was. He beamed. It almost makes up for 3 weeks ago - emphasis on the *almost*.

So, later that afternoon, I ventured to my first knitting class. (I feel like this blog post needs subheadings - thank you for still reading!) I have knit in the past (years ago), but I didn't know how to cast on, nor purl, the other main knit stitch. And I figured a structured learning environment (big surprise, huh?) would serve me well. So I signed up for a single session class at my local JoAnn Fabric's. My mom joined me, which was fun. She added the requisite comic relief, because my mom has the longest fingernails of anyone in the universe. Her holding the knitting needles and scowling at them really made me laugh, even if she didn't find it remotely funny :) We all made holey, awkward little knitted pieces and babied them with pride by the end of the class. I practiced at home, and I think I'm a mere week away from starting my first knitted scarf! *beams*

Catholic Librarian gem of the week: Yesterday, in my normal swirl of anxious energy, I did some cleaning in the kitchen. I innocently included cleaning the outside of our wood garbage container. I cleaned gunk off, and sprayed it was furniture polish. It looked nice and fresh when I was done. Well. Later that night, I'm in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, and Henry races into the kitchen clad in a footed dinosaur sleeper. I hear:

"ssssssssslllllllllll....BOOM! I'm otay, Mommy, I'm otay."

I turn to see Henry dazed on the floor, right in front of the garbage container. As I went over there to assist him, I immediately twisted my ankle and stumbled in my socks on the wood laminate floor. Mike comes in and raises his eyebrows:

"What's wrong? wh..."

As he advances towards us, we hear a sssqqqqeeeeeaaaakkk! as his socks also make contact with the furniture polish I inadvertently managed to get all over the floor in front of the garbage can. Sigh.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling content...

It's Friday. My giant scholarly communications document is done. (I have an acronym for this leviathan, but it's not particularly nice, so I can't write it on a public blog :) And then I'd have to go to Confession...Anyway, I have bellydance tonight, I get to wear my new hip scarf, and I'm going afterwards to have a drink with the girls. Hank is having a much better week at school and is being tremendously adorable and cute. Life is good.

Adding to the goodness is the new ice cream I tried last night. I have a definite sweet tooth, but freakishly enough, I don't really like chocolate. I mean, it's fine, but I don't lust over it. And doesn't that really ruin the point of chocolate, if one does not lust over it? I do like *chocolates*, as in Valentine's Day boxes of chocolates, particularly those with caramel inside, or that orange fluff stuff. But chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake? Eh. It just lacks luster to me. I love cake and ice cream (and cookies...) but I prefer any other flavor than chocolate. So, when Hank and I were at the grocery store this weekend, we made our way to the ice cream aisle. The child has definitely inherited his mother's taste in sweet foods. We stopped at the Edy's section, since they have that Slow Churned variety that they claim is less fattening. *snorts* It's probably an optical illusion, but I prefer to live in such denial. Hank chose a flavor called Mint Cookie Crunch. Mint ice cream with crushed up Oreo cookies. Now Oreo cookies - that's a chocolate I can get behind. So, I grabbed a pint of that for him, but I immediately noticed something else - *Pumpkin* flavored ice cream. Sweet Mother of God. I grabbed it.

And last night, while I was washing the dishes, I took it out of the freezer for the first time. I had already had a sweet-type item at lunch, so I didn't want to eat a full bowl, but that's never been a deterrent to me in the past, so why start now? I helped myself to the silverware drawer, planning to at least have a few spoonfuls. I scooped some up, and stuck it in my mouth as I went to load a plate into the dishwasher.

*angels sing*

I swear it, I nearly fainted. This stuff is GOOD. GOOD. OMG. You have to try some. It's like a frozen bite of pumpkin pie with whipped cream mixed in. Have I mentioned that it is GOOD?

*blissful sigh*

I am a happy, happy, Catholic Librarian. Speaking of happy...Cute Hank anecdotes fit just about anywhere in this blog, so I'll insert one here. As I've mentioned previously, Hank has this thing going on at night in which if he stirs, he brings his pillow and blanket out into the hallway to sleep right outside our door. His room is immediately next to ours, and his bed is a heck of a lot more comfortable than the floor, but this argument is lost on him so we've stopped making it. He used to just come right into our room, which was fine for a while, until we found that he was managing to be up and changing rooms oftentimes before 11 pm, and we'll just say that it was having an impact on *things*. Not good. So, we tried our best to get him to stay in his bed all night, and he wasn't havin' it. 3 year olds tend to have formidable powers of persuasion when they're unhappy, so we had to compromise. He's chosen the hallway and he's happy, so we're happy.

Children Hank's age have just the sweetest little voices. High pitched little things, aren't they? We've had to remind him that if he's up before mommy and daddy, he has to try to stay quiet. So, we now have this little whispering convention going on outside our door first thing in the morning. We're talking, 6 am, people. 4 year olds tend to have a lot to say to themselves, so it's a whisperfest rivaling the arrival of the Others on Lost. Although I'm betting none of them sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" on a regular basis.

Henry gem of the week:

"Mommy, what is Nana Rose doing?"

"She's taking Mitzi out to go potty, sweetheart."

*adorable, preshooler furrowed eyebrows*

"Dogs go potty? Mommy, how do dogs go potty?"

"Oh, well, that's a good question, honey. They don't go on the toilet like big kids do. They just go outside on the ground."

"Oh. Wow. Can I..."

"No, Honey."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New hip scarf...

My new hip scarf arrived in all it's lavendar glory yesterday. This coming Friday, we're having new class pictures taken for Claire's web site, so I couldn't be more pleased. I want my bellydancing body to look it's best :) I got this hip scarf for a really good price from a third party vendor on Amazon. I prefer velvet hip scarves, since they tend to stay up on my hips better, but this one was just so pretty, and I like how it's a longer, triangular shape, which normally cost much, much more. My original "training" hip scarf is also chiffon; it's a dark green with silver coins in straight rows. That hip scarf has served me well, but there's something funky going on with it. For the life of me, I can never get it to look right when I tie it on. It always scrunches up and ends up looking like I have random loose change stapled to my backside. Not a good look. And my velvet one is losing coins at a distressingly rapid clip. It's becoming a bellydancing biohazard.

Anyway, the coins and beads on this new one are multi-color and irridescent, and I couldn't be more pleased. I put it on and shook around the guest room a bit to try it out; it worked well.
Hank, of course, was transfixed, and tried to tackle it (it seems that little boys know how to tackle instinctively, from the time they're in the womb). I'm looking forward to Friday. As well, on Friday, I've been invited into the inner circle of the performance group - a coveted invite to the post-class gathering at a member's house for a glass of wine. I couldn't *possibly* be more excited. Bellydancer sisterhood is surrounding me like a chiffon veil and I'm a happy, happy girl.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The things that kids do and say...

Come on parents, you all know what I'm talking about. Faster than you can whisk your shopping cart out of the cereal aisle as your child loudly asks: "why is that lady so fat?" you shudder in horror at the memory of certain things that your flesh and blood has said or done that have left you begging God to please never let them speak in public again.

I had one of those moments. And after the incident at Mass a few weeks ago, I really think I should have a month-long pass from kid-related embarrassments. But life doesn't work that way.

So, yesterday I had a really painful dropoff with Henry at preschool. I went to leave, and he burst into tears and clung to my leg. This is very, very unusual, so of course it concerned me. His teacher commented that it might be related to something that happened Friday in which he was put into "time out." Henry is a very, very good boy at school and always receives glowing reports, so a time out is also pretty unheard of. She went on to mention what he did, but because three was some drama brewing over in the painting corner I couldn't hear her. What I did notice is that she said it very casually and sort of laughed; my impression was that whatever Henry did wasn't that big of a deal, but they wanted to discourage him from doing it again, so hence the time out. Which is fine, I trust their judgment. If Henry was placed in time out, I'm sure it was deserved.

Well, I had to wrench myself away, and that was pretty unpleasant for both Henry and me. I felt terrible having to leave him there crying, but what could I do? I knew it made it worse for me to linger, so I kissed him and reassured him and told him about some fun evening plans we had and left.

Later that evening, I asked Henry about the time out in question. At first he denied that any such event actually transpired. As I was getting his jammies on, the truth came out:

"Mommy. I got put in time out because I showed my penis to the other kids."

*moment of absolute mortification* Is it possible to actually die from embarassment? I'm thinking yes.

Now, Henry is barely 4 years old, and at this age the whole nudity/body thing is totally, totally innocent still. And the look on his face reinforced this. His little eyebrows were knit, and you could tell that the thought bubble over his head said "I know I shouldn' t have done it, because I got put in time out, but I just don't understand why this was such a problem."

So, I had to sit him down and explain that while there is nothing bad or wrong with any part of his body, there are certain parts of your body that are *private.* And for those private parts, you shouldn't show them or talk about them to anybody except for mommy, daddy and the doctor. Or anybody helping him use the potty, like his teacher.

I don't know if he totally understood, but I did the best I could, and please God don't let him do it again.

By this morning, he seemed to have worked it out, because he was fine at school dropoff, and that's the result I wanted. Henry tends to be like me in his personality - a little introverted with an extra sensitive side - and I want him to be able to gain confidence in his relationships and ability to deal with things on his own. Certainly, there are going to be many things that arise in his life that will require parental intervention; but to the extent that little awkward things come up, I want him to feel that he can come to us, certainly, but that he can deal with the repurcussions on his own and find his way back to a comfortable routine. I lacked that as a child, and still struggle with it as an adult. I don't want Hank to feel like he needs me to swoop in all the time - he does a good job of making and getting along with friends at school, and he doesn't need me there in order to do that. I feel better, and I'm glad he does too.

So, this all got me to thinking...our children enhance our lives and make us holy. But, what are those (little) things that we took for granted before we were parents and look back on now with unmitigated longing?

1.) Lack of social embarrassment that is utterly outside of our control. "Mommy, THERE ARE SKID MARKS IN MY UNDERWEAR!" True story. Nothing else on the list even comes close to this. But a definite second is,

2.) Going anyplace in remote resemblance to a hurry. "Gee sweetheart, it's so great that you (took 10 minutes to) zip your coat yourself (when we should have left 15 minutes ago, but you threw a fit about missing the end of Tom & Jerry, and then announced you had to go potty, and then insisted that you had to pick out a different pair of socks).

3.) Having anything out on your living room tables that isn't nailed down.

4.) Being able to use the bathroom without someone bursting in, unannounced.

5.) Being able to transverse the house without stepping on an action figure.

Anybody else have items to place on the list? :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend assortment...

This week is starting off a bit tiresomely (is that a word?) at work. I do what I can. We're working on a large scholarly communication/open access publishing initiative, and if I can be frank, it's a bit of a drag. We're all just so busy right now, and the middle of the fall semester isn't a good time for overarching, giant projects. I was so flustered when I left Friday that I forgot about some food that I left in the office refrigerator and left it behind. And the food in question was from my dad, who I saw before work as I dropped off some stuff for my parents to take to my sister (the poor, house-burned-down one) since they were driving to see her over the weekend. And given that it's from my dad, it's a bit...different :) My dad is of Native American descent, and has always valued good old fashioned hunting for food (not for sport). So, there is still elk sausage residing in the office refrigerator. Oh well.

Friday evening I had the brightener of my new bellydance class to look forward to, and I geared myself up for the new challenges in the tougher class. I'm no bellydance superstar in the making, but I hold my own in there. The new choreography for performance group involves me using a fan veil, and so far it and I have a decided love/hate relationship going on. What this thing is is a fan with a silk veil attached to it. For one thing, I'm not very coordinated, and I'm finding it hard to keep the fan open while (a) waving it around, and (b) dancing. I'm getting hand cramps, and with each cramp I resent the fan more. And the veil...I'm used to chiffon veils, and the silk is a whole 'nother animal. You flick a chiffon veil, and it comes immediately back down. You flick a silk veil...and it comes down whenever the heck it feels like it. It's like doing a duet; you don't have any control over what the other person does. So, my silk veil has been busily pooling at my feet and getting stuck in my legs and causing me to trip. It also coils up unexpectedly and looks all clumpy coming off of a dramatic sweep. Lovely. But we're getting there.

So, after that, Henry and I had the weekend to ourselves, since Mike was out of town attending a football game with his dad and uncle. Playground playing, Transformers racetrack racing and Scooby Doo episodes abounded. After I got Henry to sleep Saturday evening, I settled in for some serious girl time. I so rarely get the tv to myself that when I do I really, really seek out movies and programs with a high chick-flick factor. First, I watched a bellydance performance DVD. Then I popped in my favorite chick movie of all time: Center Stage. A ballet dance movie - Mike shudders in revulsion at the thought. It was so, so wonderful. I sipped wine, watched my movie, and sighed in bliss. I don't want every weekend to be like that, certainly, but every once in a while rejuvenaging alone time is needed and soothing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tough week...

So, I think we can officially say that this is "one of those weeks." It's been tough. The main thing, of course, being our worry for my sister and her family with the fire that they had at their house. My brother-in-law, Ken, wrote up an account of how the fire started, and even though the issue is far, far from funny, his sense of humor came through and it made me laugh despite the gravity of the situation.

The fire started from embers in their outdoor grill; apparently, some leaves blew over and caught on the embers, and then the wind blew them up onto their wood shingled house. It was just a weird perfect storm of events. So, the side of their house is on fire, and they have absolutely no idea until their son's smoke detector goes off in his bedroom, ground zero for where the leaves blew. They all immediately got out of the house, thank God, and Ken's description of his one man struggle with their beleaguered, leaky, garden hose while they awaited the fire department just really made me giggle despite the horror.

They're all doing pretty well though, all things considered. The insurance company has already begun the process of inventorying and clean-up, and they have some preliminary plans for how the house will be fixed up, so that's all good.

So, then, yesterday, I was eating lunch and happened to travel over to one of the message boards I participate in. I hadn't been there in at least a month; I've been spending more time blogging during my breaks, and just hadn't had a chance. Well. Come to find out, something happened that I always knew would happen, and wondered how that play out in the new online world we all live in. That is, one of the frequent posters on that board passed away. It was shocking and upsetting. The only reason we all found out what happened was through a few board members who knew her in real life.

And it's all so odd, because I don't know any of these women in the true sense of the term. But, in a completely different, and still meaningful way, I do know these women. People share their lives there, and given that it's an online community devoted to Natural Family Planning, we discuss some pretty personal stuff. It was very jarring to learn that this woman had died and that she just won't be posting there anymore. Sad, sad stuff. She was only 54 years old.
Sigh. So, hard to get uplifting on that note, but we do what we have to do.

I did finish another hat. The other just wasn't doin' it for me. It looked like the hat was squeezing all the blood out of my brain. It was just too small. I actually had a hard time hearing while wearing the hat. That just sounds dangerous. We'll call hat #1 "The Blood Sucker."

So, I started another one, with the same yarn, and immediately noticed something. Once again, I was creating something afflicted with gigantism. What is wrong with me? Well, actually I can answer that question. I don't check my gauge, and when I only made afghans and scarfs it really didn't matter. Now that I'm moving on to clothing items, I need to change my anti-gauge attitude. I don't care if my afghan is bigger than the one in the pattern, but I do care if it looks like I have a freakishly gigantic head. So, I pulled it out, used a smaller hook, and all seemed to go better. Here are the results, taken in my office minutes ago:

I'm pretty happy with it, actually. The alleged "no dye lot" yarn is clearly different where I changed skeins *glare in Red Heart's general direction* but in the natural light it's not bad. So, it's not a perfect hat, but it's a darn cute hat, and that's all I'm going for. We'll call hat #2 "The Green Wonder."

I'm now embarking on a shawl for my friend Irena, and then I need to get cookin' on a hat and scarf for my husband. He's starting to clamor for his stuff, and the weather is getting colder.

I know I was going to blog about something else, but I can't remember, so alas. It's just one of those weeks. I'm pretty scattered. But here's a picture of Henry, from his 4th birthday party:

My dumpling.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sometimes, life just stinks...

It's been a tough couple days here in the life of the Catholic Librarian. Well, for me, it's simply been vicarious emotional worry and anxiety, but for my sister's family it's been much, much worse. On Monday night, an accident caused a fire to start on the outside of their house, and it quickly wrecked structural devastation. Most importantly, everybody is ok, including their cats. Unfortunately, their house is not. It's going to have to be gutted, which is going to take a considerable amount of time and money. Thank goodness, they have good homeowners insurance, and that will cover everything. But in the mean time, they have few salvageable possessions. They'll be displaced from their home for at least 6 months, and they have 2 small boys. It's been an emotional couple of days.

Thankfully, once word got out, they've been the recipients of much generosity and love. Everyone has been busy worker bees assemblying donations of toys, clothes, toiletries, and other necessities. My parents are headed there this weekend (my sister and her family live about a 5 hour drive from us) so that will help. I'm hoping to go visit them in their temporary house next month sometime. We'll get them through this one day at a time.

So, that's been on my mind, which accounts for the lack of blog posts and Twitter/Facebook updates for the past day. I'm hanging in there.

Also on Monday, I had to take Henry for his 4 year well child checkup. Mike was teaching, so I had to man the job myself, and I knew it was going to involve shots. Henry is very good about receiving shots; on the other hand, I am not. I just hate for my baby to have to experience pain.

When Henry asked me if it would hurt, I ws honest with him and told him yes, but that it would just be for a second; and in return, he wouldn't get sick with these terrible diseases that shots help us not to get. When the moment came, I hugged him in my arms while the nurse prepared his arm:

"Mommy, what's she doing? Is it going to hur...OW! OW, MOMMY!" *accusing little index finger pointed right at the nurse* "Mommy, that lady HURT-TED ME!!"

Regardless of how irrational it is, in that moment, you just want to slap the nurse, grab your baby, and race from the room. Sometimes, life is just like that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adventures in Belly Dancing, Advanced Edition

This past Friday, I started my new belly dance class. It's the advanced level class, followed by a half hour choreography segment for the performance group. I am so super excited and happy about all of this, I can't even tell you. It's like my belly dancing dream. I dream small :)

So, I arrived Friday evening feeling decidedly nervous. My previous class meets right before this new one, and I was feeling a bit self-conscious about suddenly appearing for the new class, despite the fact that Claire personally invited me. Another girl from my class, Karen, had also been invited to move up, so I held out for her arrival, figuring we could stick together.

I get there early and sit amongst the other advanced class members. They all smile politely at me, but I could tell they were wondering what I was doing. I just assembled myself and sat still as a flag pole, beseeching Karen to arrive.

Karen didn't arrive. Now I'm sweating. You know, the usual course of things. My previous class finishes, and as they file out, they all look at me oddly too. I smile weakly and take my place on the floor for warmup. Obviously, Claire hasn't said anything to anyone else about Karen and I switching classes.

I felt self-conscious (and sweaty) for the whole hour, but I held my own. This class is definitely more difficult than my last one, and it challenged me. But I loved it. I kept up with the belly drills, and not all of my sweat was from anxiety. This was a good workout.

Finally, at the end of the class period, but before performance group practice, as we were all taking a quick break, Claire remembered my plight.

"Oh! This is Tiffany, our new performance group member!"

I received lots of happy acknowledgements and smiles. I felt relieved. Then I tried to get up from my perch along the side of the room and realized that I had managed to get my hip scarf coins stuck in the radiator. Classy.

But at any rate, Claire continued on undaunted:

"Where are my sword dancers?"

Well, that's definitely not me, WHEW. Claire explained that the group was divided into two camps for the new choreography, one wielding swords the other using a cool veil/fan combo mechanism. I'm a happy new member of the veil/fan group.

We practiced a few moves and put them together into a fledgling choreography. It's super cute and I'm SO EXCITED. Have I mentioned that yet?

So, I finished up in one piece, and the group let me know that they often meet for a drink afterward and I'm welcome to join them anytime. Yea.

This weekend, I practiced with my fan (not as easy as it looks) and emailed Karen to secure her attendance this coming Friday :) She's coming, thank God. I can't wait.

Henry gem of the week...

I'm going to warn all readers now - this post will involve the word 'poo.' Parents will be totally unfazed by this, but for those of who have not navigated the world of potty training, I wanted to provide fair warning :)

So, poo. Why is it that toddlers/pre-schoolers (particularly boys, it seems) detest performing this necessary bodily function? Is it really so difficult? All of us wish we didn't have to do it, but the fact is, we do. As Hank would say "That's how God made us, Mommy."

From the time we started potty training Henry, he was resistant. At first, he was an equal opportunity resistor and also resisted going pee on the potty. He got over that fairly easily, though in the process he developed The Bladder of Steel. The child can go ALL DAY on a single pee. It's downright unprecedented. But he's gotten better with that. He doesn't mind peeing on the potty, especially now that he knows how to do it standing up. Standing up to pee is apparently *way cool.*

Poo is a completely different story. To this day, Henry will deny that he has to poo even as the room begins to stink and his stomach cramp. He came casually waltzing into the living room one day, saying "I don't have to poo," as he LIMPED across the room. The child was *limping* and yet still would not poo.

Every trip to the potty in which the 'p' word is mentioned causes a chain reaction involving vehement protestations, angry frowns, and inevitably, one bursting into tears:

"Henry, do you have to poo?"

"NO!" *pause* "Mommy, could I have a fresh pair of underwear?"

"Henry, that means you have to poo."

"NO! I DON'T HAVE TO POO!! That's NOT NICE to say that!!"

"Henry, honey, just *poo*! Really, you'll feel so much better. Mommy will read you a book while you go."


And so it goes.

Yesterday afternoon, Henry sequestered himself underneath the dining room table, claiming that he was on a space ship and was about to take off. The "takeoff fumes" caught my attention, so I got suspicious, and went to investigate:

"Henry, do you have to poo?"


"Mommy, there's no bathroom on my space ship."

Well. Isn't that convenient?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Other news...

I got so absorbed in my birthing post that I forgot about a bunch of other things. The first of which is that my little Honda Civic is being repaired as I type, and I'm quite happy about it. And the damage is less than $300, so we'll label that a victory and call it a day. I'm so reliant on my car, I'm be thrilled to get little Civic back running smoothly and happily.

And in fact, I need it tonight because I have bellydance class tonight. And tonight, for the first time, I was invited to join the next session as a member of the advanced class and performance group, and I couldn't be more pleased about this. I've had a smile plastered on my face for weeks. I'm super duper happy.

The bad news is that yesterday we received Henry's school pictures. *sighs* Remember, the shirt debacle from two mornings ago? Well, Henry exacted his revenge, if unwittingly.

We'll go back in time to sum up this experience, 2 years. That was Henry's first year at the daycare, and his pictures turned out *smashing*. I mean, I know he's my kid and all, but he's super, SUPER cute and photogenic. And his picture was awesome. We chose the fall/harvest background, and 2-year old Henry is sitting cherubically among a pumpkin and bushel of fall leaves, clutching an apple in one hand. His cheeks are pink, his blue eyes (I must have a recessive gene; I can't explain this any other way) are sparkling, and his smile is bright. That's still my favorite picture of him of all time, and I still have it displayed in our dining room.

The next year, I signed up for all kinds of pictures based on the promise of the previous year. The pictures were...ok. Not bad. Not great, but certainly not bad. I didn't like that I had put an adorable bear sweater on Henry and they had him pose with his legs cruched up in front of him, so you couldn't see it. His smile looked a bit forced, but it wasn't terrible. His cheeks were again real rosy, and I love the fall background.

So, this year, it's his last year at our wonderful daycare/preschool. I ordered a bunch of pictures (it's the same photography company) and hoped for a result like the first year. And, this year...the pictures are just bad. And I could live with them being bad if I hadn't spent $80 on them. But I don't want to spend $80 on pictures in which Henry looks like he's either (a) constipated, or (b) in terrific pain and trying to hide it bravely. They're just not good. And I find this inexcusable (even in the school pictures trade, where bad pictures are the cherished norm) in the age of digital photography. You snap the picture, see immediately that the kid's face looks pinched and painful, and thus you rearrange him and snap another. It's so simple, and I really think this is what should happen.

Sigh. So, I'm not happy about this whole thing. But you win some, you lose some, right?

It's my baby's birthday...

*sniffle* My precious guy is 4 years old today. I remember vividly that day 4 years ago when he came into this world...

Actually, it all began November 5, 2005, the day before Henry was born. I awoke and did notice one physical sign that labor may be imminent, and I will spare you the details of what that sign was. But I wasn't due for another week, and you know what they say about first babies - they're usually late. As with most labor signs, it could mean that I would go into labor either within the hour, or 2 weeks from then. I didn't think too much of it. Mostly though, that was because my nesting brain was set on so many other things. Knowing what you know about me, what would you think I did the day before I gave birth to my son? That's right; a million different things, all of which kept me perpetually in motion with a tremendous burst of annoying high-paced energy.

First, I rearranged our pots and pans. A pressing problem that just could not wait, right? I was actually down on my hands and knees, belly and all, stacking and re-stacking things in the cupboards. Once that was complete, I figured with all of my pots arranged, I might as well put them to good use and make homemade sauce (which I haven't done again since that day, fyi). Mike comes into the kitchen to find me frantically chopping bell peppers and onion, tomato puree sizzing on the stove top. He managed to get me to turn off the sauce for a bit so that we could take a walk together. At that time, we still lived in an apartment in the city, and we took a beautiful walk, even taking some pictures in front of trees in their full fall foliage glory. That sucked down about an hour, and still, I was not drained of energy.

We got back and I finished the sauce, and our dinner. I made the announcement that I wanted to go to the vigil Mass that evening (Saturday) just in case I didn't feel up to Mass in the morning. A fortuitous choice. Off to Mass I trekked, where I also went to Confession before the service started. At the conclusion of Mass, Fr. Jim announced that the Sacrament of the Sick would be available, so I went to that as well. That's 3 sacraments in the couse of an hour and a half, people. Now that's impressive. I was loaded up.

After I got back home, I did more general house and nursery straightening and re-straightening. I folded teeny tiny sleepers and itty bitty socks. Finally, I was spent. My belly and I went to bed.

I was sleeping (uncomfortably, of course) at 2 am and awoke with cramps. I shifted position (not an easy feat for a woman who is 9 months pregnant) in a vain attempt to get more comfortable. I did that for at least 15 minutes, in denial that I had to actually get out of bed. Finally, and very crankily I might add, I got out of bed without waking Mike and went into the living room.

I remember wondering why this all couldn't have started at, oh I don't know, 9 am instead of 2. After I had a full night of sleep. And I also remember thinking, "well, with as uncomfortable as sleeping has been this whole pregnancy, it's not like getting up with a newborn could be any worse." SNORT. Ok parents, just admit it, you're dying laughing right now. Because, oooohhhh yes sir, the sleep deprivation that accompanies having a newborn is so much infinitely more difficult for so many reasons.

But at any rate, on that day I was blissfully living in my ignorance of such things, and I had a whole different problem going on. I timed my contractions, and read a bit of the Diary of St. Faustina. *halo* I paced around, inspecting my belly for clues. Around 3:30 am, Mike discovered that I was missing and came out in search of me. When my contractions got to 5 minutes apart, I called my obstetrician's 24 hour nurses line and Vicki advised me to proceed to the hospital. So at 4:30 am on November 6, 2005, we did, nervous excitement permeating our car windows.

Once I got to the hospital, I saw my obstetrican, whom I adore, which was great. But then they shuttled me to a birthing room and that's when I got unhappy. I was hooked up to all manner of devices and couldn't walk more than a foot from the bed. Plus, they had to "check me in" and asked me a slew of annoying questions, all while I was writhing in discomfort.

Hours passed. Any number of hospital employees managed to tee me off, though granted, I wasn't exactly myself. I actually banned the general on-call obstetrician in the labor/delivery wing from my room because I just didn't like his attitude. The CatholicLibrarian Unhappy Mind Ray was pointed in his direction in full force. I liked my nurse and agreed that the midwife could come near me, so I stuck with them. I didn't see my own doctor again, of course, until I was ready to deliver. And by that point, I had pretty much agreed to marry the anesthesiologist, meaning that your CatholicLibrarian was in some serious, serious pain.

In the final hours, I remember thinking to myself "there's no getting out of this now, is there? Boy, this sucks." Ah, well :) I remember writhing and clutching the hospital bed armrest. In between contractions, my doctor (quite young, and had an 18 month old at home and one on the way) was chatting with the nurse. My doctor mentioned that my nurse had also been her nurse when she delivered her son, and I remember thinking "Gee, that seems a bit awkward," but they didn't seem to think so. I like them both quite a bit, but they were starting to put me in a near occasion of saying a swear word by taking their gloves off between my contractions. At this point, there's like about 10 seconds between gut splitting contractions and I want THIS BABY OUT NOW so for the love of God, KEEP YOUR GLOVES ON!!!

And so the big moment finally arrived. Mike and I had chosen not to find out our baby's gender, so we were all excited about the big reveal. Well, I imagine Mike was excited; my sole mental focus was beseeching God to please let this all be over, and I didn't want to divert any energy away from that. I heard my doctor say "It's a Henry!!" And so our little guy came into the world.

I opened my eyes (all that beseeching requires eyes squeezed closed for maximum effectiveness) and I saw Henry for the first time. It was a poignant moment, seeing how he looked like us. I remember that the look on his face said "What on earth just happened here?" The doctor placed him on my belly and he gave one of those adorable "wah wah" newborn cries. Mike cut his umbillical cord and we were in business.

One final anecdote. That night, after all of the family had left, and I was left in my hospital room, blissful with my cable tv and no-longer-pregnant body (instant relief from sciatica and any number of other discomforts) I recall rolling on my belly and nearly dissolving from the pleasure of that position, denied me since about month 4. I fell into a deep sleep, denied me since about, oh I don't know, fertilization? and awoke at 3 am to nurse Hank. When he was done, I happily buzzed the nurses' station and told them that the baby was all set. A nurse came and whisked him away, and I fell back to sleep. At 6 am, he appeared again, swaddled in his little bassinette, to nurse. I happily awoke to accommodate him. And do you know what I thought? I thought that in between those times, THE BABY WAS SLEEPING. Go ahead, fall over laughing. That was the final night of my blissful ignorance.

And here we are, 4 years later. *sob* My baby!! How far we've all come.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

*Sighs* least Advent is coming...

I guess this is just one of those weeks. Happily, I'm emotionally feeling a ton better following our downer of a day on Sunday. But things continue to be challenging and we're just doing our best with them.

Last night I came home to a tantruming Henry. I'm not certain what is going on with him, but he's definitely having a bad week. It wasn't a pleasant evening, but we got through it. This morning, I really, really wanted things to go better. Mike brought Henry with him to walk down to the newspaper machine at the end of our street, which went over big. Both had an excellent time. Everything was going great, until...7:45 am. Henry was behaving angelically, and was watching Tom & Jerry in the living room while sipping his orange juice; Mike was blissfully reading the paper. I was in the upstairs bathroom brushing my teeth. Suddenly - I had a revelation. Today is picture day.


This means that we need to change Henry out of the casual pants and Transformers shirt that he chose, and stuff his (I'm undoubtedly certain) unhappy little body into formal slacks and a button down shirt. I'm filled with a sense of foreboding - this is not going to go well.

Sure enough, the next 20 minutes are filled with:


Despite much cajoling, he cried all the way to the car, where, once again, the fun escalated as he refused to get in his car seat. I handled things much better this time (one would think that I'd be used to the foibles of motherhood, since my child is about to turn 4. One would think. It's a continual learning process :) and managed to get Henry strapped in after only 3 minutes of torturesome sobbing. We chatted about outdoor holiday decorations on the way to school, which perked him up some, but the instant we arrived and I unstrapped him from his seat, the sourpuss face was back in full force. I agreed that we could ride the elevator, in an effort to appease, but he was still pretty prickly when we arrived at his classroom.

I kissed him up, hating all the while that I have to work the evening reference shift tonight and won't see him before he goes to bed. His teacher said that that if he tugged on the shirt too much, she would put him in one of the extra casual shirts we keep in his locker until the picture, since they wouldn't be taken until noon. That made me feel better.

So then, I left for work. *sighs* My car is doing something "funny." That's never a good word to combine with talk of one's vehicle. Every time I slow or stop, the car stutters forward when I step on the gas again. It was doing it a bit yesterday, but this morning it was worse. I'm going to have to take it in for service, and I loathe doing that. I always feel like taking your car in is like writing a blank check to the garage, because no matter what needs to be done, spending merely a few hundred dollars is pretty much a pipe dream. But it's bad, so I have no choice. And my in-laws are coming to visit this weekend for Henry's birthday, and if I have no car, this will be a problem. Mike also has a car, but it's a standard transmission, and I don't know how to drive it. This isn't good.

Somehow, my spirits are still high, despite the week's best efforts to get me down. I just got back from daily Mass, which is always a good thing. As well, I seized the opportunity to pick up a few Advent supplies that I'm very excited about.

I picked up a felt Advent wreath for Henry that is adorable. We have a traditional one with candles, but this one will be his very own. Henry has also expressed an interest in my scapular, and I have a tiny wooden one that I love. It's gotten very worn, so I bought 2 more, one for each of us. So, this all has brightened me a bit.

I'm working until 7 tonight, and then I have to go home and straighten up the house for my in-laws' arrival tomorrow afternoon. Mike and Henry are baking cupcakes tonight to bring in for his birthday. Please God, don't let there be batter on the ceiling when I get home...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feeling a bit better...

Thankfully, what could have been a very tough week has been looking up. After I got home last night, I called my dentist to re-reschedule my wisdom tooth extraction. This afternoon, with Henry in tow, just wasn't going to work for me. I'm sure Henry would have been fine, but after having had a tooth pulled, I would then have to go home and care for him for the rest of the evening (Mike teaches Tuesday nights) and then get up and come in to work Wednesday for my long day complete with an evening reference shift. I got tired just thinking about all of that.

On top of that, I've also been focusing on feeling better following my experience with Henry at Mass on Sunday. Everything in life is a journey, and it's going to have bumps along the way. I'm still going to be super paranoid when I go back to my parish, but what can I do? I did my best; I'm going to have to accept that I couldn't have done anything more. And I can worry about it next week - this Sunday I'll go to the Latin Mass with my mother-in-law, and most likely, Henry will stay home to play with daddy and grandpa. It's so rare that I get to attend Mass childless (which is fine with me; I know I'm doing the right thing by bringing Henry regularly) that it's a special treat to be able to hear everything and concentrate on the readings and the liturgy.

So, in all the fray, I forgot to take pictures of my recent crochet projects; will do so shortly :) I'm working on a pair of mittens for myself now, and they're coming out nicely. They're a bit big, but I purposely made them longer so that they would really keep my hands toasty. But what is it with things I make - they tend to have gigantism. Even Henry is really, really big for his age :) I obviously have special creation abilities...

Now that Henry is about to be 4, the question of "So, are you having another one?!" is really going into overdrive. I'm always uncomfortable with that question, because it seems so personal. Also, I don't like the assumptions that people make (generally) when they ask it; which are that it's very cut and dry as to whether you are or are not, and if you are not, you must be doing something active to put the kibosh on it, which in our case isn't true. But I really don't want to get into discussing such a personal thing with people :) So, I find it very awkward. I usually sputter something like "Well...maybe :) You never know!" which seems to confuse people, but alas.

Someone at work said to me the other day: "Oh, you're Catholic? You're one of *them.*" She was teasing, but there's definitely an undertone there - yes, I'm Catholic, and we're a little different; I see that as a good thing :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day Fiasco

Well. What was it, like 3 posts ago, maybe? That I mentioned how lately, Henry has been so superlatively behaved at Mass he was next in line for a halo over his head? Right. That was then. This is now.

Yesterday was quite possibly the worst day in my 4 year career as a mother. Worse than the severe case of the baby blues I suffered for at least a full year after Henry was born, the year of infant-induced sleep deprivation, and the terrible two's, *combined*. It was just a tough, tough day, and to be honest, I'm still feeling a bit traumatized.

So, yesterday I brought Henry to 10 am Mass with me, like always. Mike wasn't with us, and usually, you could eat off of the goodness that is Henry's performance during Sunday Mass. And it started out fine. We were up in the front, like always, near the chorus. Henry was ok, although not quite as good as always. He was deliberately doing things he knows he's not allowed to do, and he was doing them with a smirky face. Not a good sign. But nothing prepared me for what was to come.

During the Consecration, Henry's behavior escalated. I warned him a few times, and when he didn't cease and desist, I told him that we had to leave. That's when the trouble began.

"NO NO NO, I *NO WANT* TO LEAVE!!!!!!! NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!"

So, what does a mother do? Of course, scoop up aforementioned child and swoop them out of the sanctuary as rapidly as possible. I've done this in the past, and it's worked out just fine.

Well. That was many, many Henry pounds ago. Henry, at nearly 4 years old, weighs close to 50 pounds. He's a solidly built kid, always has been. He's stocky and he's *strong*. He flung himself on the floor *during the Consecration* screaming, kicking, and flailing. I grabbed our stuff and attempted to grab him. Didn't go so well. With all of my strength, I literally could not lift him. He was fighting me with every ounce of his strength and will, and let me tell you, it was pretty effective.

By this point, to say that I was sweating bullets would be the understatement of the millenium. I was desperate, *desperate* I tell you, to get out of that church. Every time I got somewhat of a grip on Henry, our bags and coats slipped off my arm and fell to the ground. We're in the front of the church, and I can feel every eye in the house on my back as I'm struggling.

Finally, I had had it. I grabbed Henry with all the adrenaline-driven force I could muster, and abandoned our coats and bags in the pew. I dragged him out the side entrance and gave him an earful. I was physically shaking from the exertion of trying to contain him and move him against his will. But I had an even bigger problem. We couldn't go anywhere without my car keys, which were in my purse...which was still in the church. I could have cried right then and there.

Doing some crying was my son, who was still throwing a fit and now sobbing that he didn't want to leave. I would have loved to still be able to receive Communion, but if these 4 years have taught me anything, I knew that after the point we were at, there's no going back. I had to get him extracted from the situation ASAP, and I had no help whatsoever. And I have to say, maybe this is me being oversensitive, but I was feeling a bit wounded that not a single person (and there were many) in the surrounding pews came to my aid. Seeing my struggle with the out of control preschooler and our belongings, I was hoping that someone would offer to carry our things, but alas. Likely, people thought that they would embarrass me further by acknowledging the disturbance.

At this point, it was a lose/lose situation, so I waited until the organ struck up the Communion hymn, and stole back inside, Henry sobbing in tow, to grab our stuff. When he realized that we were then proceeding to the back of the church, he began full meltdown mode again. I dragged him to the back of the church where the ugly scene continued. By this time, I was so flustered, I could barely button our coats. Not that he let me put his on, no sir, so the dragging continued, this time coatless. I began to fear that someone was going to think that I was mistreating Henry; we're out in public, on a busy street, and I'm dragging my child as he sobs. I would manage to carry him for a few strides until he wrenched himself painfully out of my grasp. It was absolutely excruciating. By the time we reached the car, I was in tears.

We get to the car, and unsurprisingly, Henry refuses to get into his car seat. I try to restrain him and harness him in, and at least 5 full minutes later, I haven't gained an iota of ground. I give up. I actually drove home without him strapped into his car seat, something I've never done before, but I didn't know what else to do.

When we got home a few minutes later, I was furious. Never in my life have I been so embarrassed. I left Henry screaming in the driveway and hurried into the house. If there was any doubt in Mike's mind as the state of affairs, I'm sure he figured it out pretty quickly when I came in and announced

"I need you to come out here and get YOUR SON."

I left Mike to deal with Henry and ran upstairs to our bedroom, where I sobbed for 15 straight minutes. I then knocked back a shot of whiskey. All before 11:30 in the morning. Yes, it was *that bad*.

As I sobbed in Mike's arms shortly thereafter, I couldn't really articulate why I was taking this all so hard. Every parent has experienced their child acting out in front of others. As Claire, my bellydance instructor says of veils - they're like kids; you think you have them trained, and WHAM! They embarrass you in public.

It's like I feel that in some way I'm a failure - a failed Catholic parent? I'm not certain why I feel this way. I just felt so helpless, and having my (significant) struggle witnessed by others evokes a tremendous feeling of being exposed and shamed.

One of the things I sobbed to Mike is that I seriously don't know how I'm ever going to go back to our parish; I'm paranoid and self-conscious even when it's not warranted, so this is so much worse! Given the Nervous Nelly introvert something to *really* freak out over. My sweet husband says, soothingly:

"Oh, don't worry, Sweetie. Next week my parents are here visiting, and you can go to the Latin Mass!"

Sigh. Yes, it's true, my mother-in-law and I usually go to the Traditional Latin Mass at an old church downtown when she visits, so I won't have to go to my parish, but that doesn't really solve my problem though, does it?

The rest of the day continued in the same vein, with Henry pulling out all the stops, and me going to bed, exhausted and physically sore from the exertion. It just wasn't a good day. Certainly an emotional low point in my journey as a parent. I took it very, very hard.

But I like to think that God uses everything for good. I'm not certain what that is in this case :) but I'm thinking positive. God has a plan; I just have to do my best in the circumstances that He has asked of me, and I am Henry's mommy. Not all days are going to be easy days; perhaps I can grow as a parent based on this experience.

After Henry went to bed, Mike and I played a board game, and we had a really good time. The game had a good vs. evil thing going on, and I chose a character aligned with good, *halo*; his starting point was the chapel :) I was in there praying a lot, which helped my character build up strength. It was light hearted and fun, and helped me to feel a bit more normal after an unendingly long day....

Oh sigh. I just got off the phone with my dentist's office, and they needed to reschedule my wisdom tooth extraction (I know, right? could this week get any worse?!) for tomorrow afternoon, meaning that I have to bring Henry, because Mike will be teaching. *SOB*

God is using all of this to build grace within me...right? Somebody reassure me :)