Friday, January 29, 2010

On to the weekend, and eureka! We have a head covering...or two...

I'm tired. That pretty much sums up my week :) This weekend, I'm looking forward to just spending time with Mike and Hank. I have bellydance tonight, which is always a delight, and the hat I'm knitting for Mike is really coming along. I also have plenty of housework to occupy me. So, I'll be very contentedly busy.

I duitifully worked on some of my to-do list items, and gave myself freedom to finally select my future head coverings over lunch. My Lenten plan will go on as proposed, and I'm very excited. I know that I mentioned that I was only going to select two...

Yeah, I'm sure you'll be unsurprised as to how that turned out. After much scrutiny, I finally went to place my favorite contender in my online cart, only to find out that it was out of stock. In my disappointment, I gave myself complete emotional justification to select three. So there :) They are SO reasonably priced, my total still came in quite low, so overall, I feel that I did well.

You didn't think I'd not post pictures, right? It's what I live for. First, I picked a very traditional covering:
I got it in chocolate brown, so that it'll match my hair.

I wanted a headband, so I went with the super beautiful:

I love the velvet ties. It looks so pretty when your hair is worn up. And then finally, I chose this one:

This one is stretchy, so you don't have to tie it. As well, it scrunches up to form a headband, as shown, or you can pull it down for a short scarf look, like this:

I chose a color called "flax." It's a silvery shade. Very pretty.

So, that gives me a variety of styles to try, and we'll see how it goes. If I enjoy it during Lent, I can keep it up and add to my collection. You'll hear all about it :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The joy of blogging, and preparations for Lent...

When I arrived at work this morning, one of the first things I did, like always, was open a browser window with my blog; I like to see if anyone has left comments, as well as think about an afternoon post topic. Today when I checked, I had 2 new comments!! I was absolutely delighted, thanks Joe and Cam! And both, addressing my post yesterday on Catholic modesty and headcoverings, were incredibly interesting and informative. I responded to both of you, so make sure you check :)

It just made me realize, once again, how much I value this blog. I enjoy it because it gives me a creative outlet for my writing, and it makes me think about a lot of interesting topics. As well, I have met other Catholic bloggers and treasure the online Catholic community that I've found. For all of that, thank you :)

Couple of things to followup on yesterday's post... I am going to continue my journey in 'dressing up' more for Mass. To this end, I'll obviously use the clothes in my wardrobe better as I select what to wear each Sunday. On the skirt issue, I was thinking that it *would* be nice to have maybe 2 that I could choose to wear to Mass, or out other places. For the winter, skirts just really aren't practical around here. *But* I could use to add some variety to my wardrobe. I have a few gift cards from Christmas, so I started my research today.

Let me tell ya, (Cam, I'm sure you can relate to this :) it is *not* easy finding dresses and skirts that fall below the knee. I'm not talking floor length gowns here, just things at or about calf length. Old Navy and - not a single contender. Surprisingly, I found a decent selection at They're not cheap, but they have a few A-line skirts that are approximately calf length, as well as some chiffon overlay skirts that fall just above the ankle. In the next week or so, I'm going to go to the store itself to see if I can ferret any of them out and try them on.

I *was* able to secure a pair of long boots, suitable for wear with skirts, with a gift card. So, that's good. I've been needing those for a while.

Secondly, I was thinking about this headcovering issue at length yesterday; it's really grabbed hold of my attention. I think that what I'm going to do is try this headcovering idea out as a pilot project over Lent. To the extent I get odd looks from others at my parish, I can offer it up as a Lenten sacrifice, if you will. And naturally, I will blog about all of this :)

So...the next part is actually selecting the headcoverings and purchasing them. I am absolutely charmed by the offerings over at Garlands of Grace. Their prices are extremely reasonable, including the shipping rate totaling $2.99! I like the subtler nature of their coverings, and their versatility - there are many that function both as a headband or as a short scarf. With the type of coverings I'm looking at, plus shipping, I would say 2 are in my budget.

That's all well and good, but this is me we're talking about here. For the life of me, I cannot narrow my selection down to just 2. They're all so pretty! I will continue to agonize over this, rest assured.

I like this one, for a more traditional look:
But for the cute, headband styles, I like these:

With these two, you can wear them as a headband, or stretch them out into a scarf:

And of course, all of these come in a multitude of different colors, meaning more happy decisions. Clearly, I need to get back to work now (that is, *real* work), but believe me, you will be updated tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought-provoking Post of the Week: Catholic Modesty

Feeling contemplative this week :) Before I launch into my theme, I wanted to let everyone know that Hat Attempt #6, under the loving support and tutelage of my knitting group, is so far a success. *angels sing* I'll post a picture when it's done. But I'm on round 15, and so far my only issue is that I have a few loose purl stitches when I switch the yarn over from a knit stitch. It's very, very minor, and the hat is looking good.

Ok, so on to my Catholic issue. This particular issue is really interesting to me because it is one on which I really haven't fully developed my opinion; as well, my own personal experience on related things is a bit of a dichotomy.

On the one hand, I would label myself a really conservative, traditional Catholic. I follow all of the church's teachings, even the unpopular ones, to the best of my ability, and I consider my faith to be the most defining thing in my life.

On the other hand, I happily attend weekly Mass at my local parish which is offered exclusively in the Ordinary Form. In a nutshell, I'm differentiating between the Extradinary Form of the Mass (also called the Tridentine Mass or the Traditional Latin Mass) and the Ordinary Form of the Mass as it has been offered since Vatican II, often called the Novus Ordo, or New Order of the liturgy. Enough of the mumbo jumbo :)

I've been raised with the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and I like it. Many more traditional-minded Catholics prefer the Traditional Latin Mass (hereinafter TLM). I have attended a TLM, and while I loved the solemn reverence of that liturgy, as a lifelong Catholic, I didn't enjoy feeling like I didn't always know what was going on. I felt a little "out of place." I'm sure if I started attending that liturgy with regularity, that feeling would fade, but to be honest, I enjoy the new liturgy. I have attended the TLM a few times since, but I really don't go out of my way to do so.

Ok, so llloooonnnng segue to the issue at hand. Stay with me here :) At the TLM, one thing becomes quickly apparent - the people who attend it generally dress differently than I do. Many (though certainly not all) of the women wear chapel veils. Many of them also wear long skirts or dresses, instead of pants.

Here's where I come in. This is a controversial issue, and that's not really where I'm headed with this. Women are not bound in the modern Catholic Church to cover their heads at Mass. Nor are they asked to dress in any specific manner other than to present themselves modestly, as men are asked to do too, importantly.

In my opinion, shorts have no place at Mass for either men or women. Nor do tank tops or other garments that reveal a lot of skin. That's pretty much the only guiding principle I use when I dress for Mass. I personally do not own a lot of skirts. I actually feel more comfortable, as in I reveal less skin and less "shape," if you will, in pants. There was a thread about this a few months ago over at the Catholic Answers boards, which I read with interest. I was surprised by how many women feel that pants are less modest than skirts. I don't really agree with them, but I respect their view.

When I dress for Mass, I usually wear jeans and a blouse. Long sleeved in the winter and short sleeved in the summer. I don't own anything that is low-cut, strapless or short in any way. That's pretty much my exclusive wardrobe on the weekends. For whatever reason, I started thinking about this this past weekend. Now, I don't think that there's anything wrong with wearing jeans to Mass. But...could I do better? Would it maybe be a good sacrifice for me (who loves her jeans) to put more effort into dressing up a bit for Mass, when after all, I will be in the presence of Christ? Absolutely.

So, this past Sunday, I perused my wardrobe for some other contenders. My skirt selection is *paltry* and I do not own a single pair of shoes/boots that would be suitable to wear (a) with a skirt, and (b) also be suitable for the winter weather. I did have a pair of long boots appropriate for wear with skirts, but they began to rip long ago and really needed to be put out of their misery. I've been thinking that I should purchase a new pair, but I really don't have the money right now. Long boots can cost upwards of $50, even at stores like Payless. Thus, I also don't have the money to buy skirts.

But, I did what I could. I pulled out a pair of gray corduroys that I often wear to work and a red long sleeved blouse. I even put on a pair of earrings. I know the change is subtle, but I felt better. I was putting thought and effort in, and that was important to me.

Sooooo... on the clothes issue, I think that's what I'll continue to do. I'm going to try and look into picking up a few long skirts (I've never thought I looked good in shorter skirts, even on a non-Mass basis) with my remaining Christmas gift cards. I've noticed recently skirts that come to the calves have made an appearance, so that's something to try out. I just look odd in knee length skirts. Not sure what's up with that. I can also try to secure an appropriate pair of dressier boots with a gift card too, we'll see.

Next, the veil issue. This sounds incredibly superficial, but I think chapel veils look absolutely beautiful. I've always wanted one just because they're so pretty! I never purchased one because I never felt that I really *needed* one. Frankly, I felt that I would stick out at my parish if I wore one.

I'm still not totally decided on this issue. I in no way believe that women MUST be veiled in church, nor does the Church itself. It's a personal choice. There are a couple of women that read this blog, whom I admire greatly, that I know do choose to veil at Mass. Post a comment! I'd love to hear from you. From my perspective, wearing a veil to Mass is not in any way a mechanism of subordination. I think that's why many women are averse to them. To me, chapel veils or other headcoverings for women at Mass is a personal sign of reverence and modesty before our Lord. Just as men remove their hats when they come into the sanctuary, a woman could cover her hair as a symbol of respect.

AND. Here's where the superficial thing comes back in. There is a lot more selection out there than I would have thought. If one wants to wear a headcovering, you don't have to go with a traditional mantilla (although those are SO PRETTY). I got turned on to Garlands of Grace by one of my fellow Catholic bloggers, and some of the items they have there are simply thick headbands of lace. A tad bit more subtle, and very, very interesting. I'm toying with this. I don't have the money now, but if I continue to feel a calling to develop this topic in my Mass-going, I may order one. I especially like this one. Granted, the model on that site is *beautiful* and has the best head of hair ever, so who knows what it would look like on me. But I'm willing to give it a try. If I do, you can rest assured of a post telling you all about it :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Plain Truth

So, longtime readers of this blog will know that last spring I developed quite a fascination with Amish fiction. I know that many people are intrigued with the Amish; for me, I think that I admire their strong sense of faith and community.

So far, the books that I've read in this genre have all come from traditional Christian book publishers, and have been geared toward a romance. Jodi Piccoult's Plain Truth was on the voting list for the library book club this year, and I voted for it. It didn't get selected, but I thought that I would check it out anyway, given my interest on the topic. Right away, I knew it would be different because it was coming from a mainstream author and publisher, and just happened to feature an Amish community.

I ended up appreciating this book for that very change of pace it offered me. I also like that it featured a non-Amish protagonist who comes to live in an Amish household. The other books I've read have featured all Amish characters, or a non-Amish character who was merely secondary to the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I've never read of Jodi Piccoult's other books, so her 'formula', if you will, is still new to me. There was a bit of courtroom drama, some romance, lots of mystery, and lots of characters learning to appreciate different ways of seeing and doing things that they grew to appreciate.

For anyone that is interested, the plot of this book involves a young Amish girl being accused of hiding an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and subsequently killing her newborn. Not an easy subject matter, to be sure, so that's an important fyi. But it's not overly descriptive on that issue; there is lots of clinical discussion amongst experts as to how the infant died, but it's not "gory." The protagonist is a big city attorney who comes to defend the young Amish mother. If the premise of the book does not bother you (well, how can it not? but if you are able to read books with these types of plot lines), I recommend it. I think you'll enjoy it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Adventures in knitting, and more Big Love...

Back at work today, and feeling out of sorts. I had a very, very nice weekend, and wish that it continued still. *sighs* Mike and I went to a movie on Saturday (New Moon - don't laugh at us) and then out to dinner. By ourselves. No regular interruptions to address recent potty happenings or what Iron Man is up to these days. It was bliss :)

Also on Saturday, I started over on Mike's hat, and that's where the title of this post comes into play. *huffy sigh* So, leading up to Saturday, I'd had 2 prior attempts on this thing. Let's keep tabs, shall we?

Hat Attempt #1 - floppy; needles too large.
Hat Attempt #2 - stretchy; needles too long.

That brings us to Saturday and my new, perfect needles. After breakfast, and after I did a puzzle with Hank and he hurried off to play by himself for a few minutes, I pulled out my knitting bag. I cast on. I moved through seamlessly, until I uncover a problem of nefarious origin - miscounted stitches. I noticed because I got to the end of the round and suspiciously finished on a knit when I should have been at a purl.

I was only on the first round, so it wasn't worth it to painstakingly make my way *all* the way back around 120 stitches to try and fix it, so I abandoned the attempt.

Hat Attempt #3 - bad stitchery; too many stitches.

I cast on again, and packed the knitting bag to take with me to my parents, who were set to watch Hank for us while Mike and I went out. I knew we would linger at their house a bit to visit afterwards, and I figured I could get a few rounds in while I chatted.

At aforementioned visit, I begin to knit, purl, knit...

I will not repeat the word I said in my head when I realized that I had miscounted my cast-on AGAIN. I thought I had put in an extra stitch so I knit two together to start the first round. I was wrong. I got all the way to the end of the round and was 1 stitch short. *simmers*

Hat Attempt #4 - bad stitchery; too few stitches.

By this point, I was utterly beside myself. I put the hat down for the night. If the needles and yarn are actually making me angry, I know that I need some distance from them. I worked on the lap afghan I'm knitting for Christina. I've made a few mistakes in the afghan, but I've always been able to fix them. It listens when I talk to it and cooperates with directions.

Christina's afghan = GOOD.
Mike's hat = CURSED.

On Sunday, after Mass and some grocery shopping, I did my house chores so that I could get back to the hat. I *really* want to finish it for Mike this winter. This time, I fastidiously counted my stitiches as I cast-on. I counted them again before I started round 1. and I made sure to keep track of my knits and purls as I made my way around. They all lined up. Thrilled, I moved on to round 2. Things kept proceeding well. My gauge measured perfectly. I began to hum as I knit. I felt all domestic and content, knitting a warm hat for my husband.

Intermission - I took a break to go shopping with my mom. In an unsurprising development, the new purse that she bought didn't fit all of her stuff, and I promised to help her select another. I bravely brought Hank along. He did pretty well, actually. After about 10 minutes in the purse department at JC Penney's, he *did* file for conscientious objector status due to his Y chromosome, but all things considered he did well. It was about the time that we found a perfectly designed purse for her, but she rejected it because it didn't come in black, that Hank really began to put up a fuss.

"But mom, why not try a different color?"

"It won't match my coat."

"Your coat is *black*, won't any color match with it?"

She smiled, but put the camel-colored offender back on the shelf. Sigh.

About 30-40 full minutes later, I sped Hank out of the store while my mom checked out so that I could fetch him a cookie and some lemonade at Mrs. Field's. He earned it.

Ok, back to the knitting. After Hank went to bed, I pulled my bag out again. Knit, knit, purl, purl, happy, happy. I finished 8 rounds, and was thrilled with the consistency. Mike was admiring it. And I'm sure you know what's coming. Right around 8:30 pm, as I was preparing to put it aside and relax for the night, I noticed a fatal, beginner knitters mistake:

Hat Attempt #5 - twisty; *SOBS*

I knew of this potential problem, yet I still committed it. Right from round 1, the stiches at one point on the needle cord twisted around. I unwittingly knit into them that way, and then as the hat grew, the twist simply became obvious. At that point, there's no salvaging; you simply have to start over.

I was so upset that I couldn't even talk about it. Mike tried to soothe me, but I stuffed my yarn and needles back into my bag and pouted into the kitchen. It was nearly 9 pm, and I wanted a glass of Chardonnay and to watch Big Love.

Mike approaches me, delicately, as he's a smart boy.

"Hey, sweetie? Do you want to watch the NFC Championship game with me? Or would you rather watch Big Love on the living room tv?"

Even though he'd done nothing wrong, I gave him a pointed look. I wanted to watch Big Love, and I wanted to watch it on the nice, living room flat screen with high definition picture. Mike quickly agreed that that was the best possible plan. He retreated to our bedroom to watch the football game on the teeny tv we keep up there.

I settled on the couch with my wine. I quickly became absorbed with Bill and his wives. He's running for a Senate seat and is trying to keep his polygamist lifestyle hidden. *snorts* I love this show.

As I'm watching, I can hear Mike upstairs, talking to the tv:

"What?! Are you kidding?!"

He's so cute. Every once in a while, I could hear feet padding down the stairs, as he came to update me on the latest interception or fumble. And the beauteous thing here is a gadget that I simply have to go off on a tangent to mention. While Mike is upstairs conversing to the tv, Hank is in the very next room, sleeping soundly. And do you want to know why we don't fear waking him up?

People, if you're going to become parents, you simply must remember these three words:

White Noise Machine.

My, GOD. We didn't discover this until this past year, if you can believe it, and it's been an absolute miracle. Our house is nearly 100 years old, and the complicated ballet dance that we'd have to do to sneak out of Hank's room after he'd fallen asleep without creaking the floor boards involved an agility that I simply don't have. We have this one. It plays nature sounds, or even the sound of a heart beating (for babies, although Hank was in our bed as a newborn, so that would have been moot). We play the waterfall setting, and Hank is happily esconced in his little room and no noise that we make in the house wakes him. But we can hear him, so one doesn't need to worry about it blocking the parents from being able to hear the child. Like I said, MIRACLE.

I happily finished watching Big Love, and I could tell that the football game was heating up just as the credits began to roll. I called Mike down and we watched overtime together. I felt a bit better.

Today, on my way out the door to work, I grabbed the hat bag for my lunchtime knitting group session. The afghan is getting too bulky to lug around easily. So, in about an hour, we will commence:


And there you have it. I kind of can't wait to go home, I'm feeling pretty punchy today. The book I'm reading is excellent, and I'm dying to get back to it. Will blog about it tomorrow...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dying for the weekend...

This has only been a 4 day work week, yet it feels like the longest of my life. After the class yesterday, I really need some mental downtime. 200 student classes are pretty draining on us introverts. My mind is mush. It's mid-afternoon and I find myself surfing yarn catalogs. I just don't have anymore to give work-wise right now.

I also had a meeting this morning that was so painful I feel totally justified in my need for downtime. Throughout the meeting, I actually had to distract myself by envisioning a roll of duct tape, peeling a few pieces off, and placing them over the mouths of several of my chatty colleagues. Hey, I would have done it gently. And then we all would have been finished with the meeting AN HOUR earlier, so everybody wins.

Anyway, in fun news, I had a fabulous time at Michael's yesterday afternoon, and went home to make my lime shrimp dish. It was *delicious*. Definitely one to keep in mind come Lent. I'll be giving up meat again for Lent (although I will still eat seafood, so I'll be going pescaterian) so I'll post some meatless recipes throughout. Anyway, I had a good time making it, and happily sipped a glass of red wine while I worked. Later, after Hank went to bed, I knitted away.

My trip to Michael's garnered me some fabulous (and on sale) yarn for upcoming projects, but the proper knitting needles for Mike's hat continued to elude me. I wanted 16" circular needles in a size 6 or 7. My current needles were a size 8, and it just wasn't workin'. Mike would have to have some sort of cranial deformity for his head to actually fit in this thing.

I looked at Michael's yesterday, and no dice. I ended up buying a pair of 29" circular needles in my desired size 6, figuring the stitches could just stretch around there while I worked. Well. It didn't work. I found the extra length of cord to be in my way and unwieldy. I'm using a cotton/acrylic blend yarn to make Mike's hat (he has this love affair with cotton) and the stitches decidedly did NOT want to stretch around the length of cord. It was a total disaster. I ended up starting to feel cranky, so I put it away and worked on Christina's afghan. I do needle crafts because I enjoy them - as soon as I feel myself start to get angry at one I know that I need to take a break from it.

So today on my lunch break, I set off for JoAnn's. I made a beeline for the bamboo knitting needles (I much prefer these over aluminum or plastic, even though they cost a few dollars more), all excited. Instant deflation. No 16" circular needles in a size smaller than 8. Blast! That's how I wound up with the needles I currently have, I belatedly remembered. Curses. I surfed the selection of aluminum circular needles, and that was pretty paltry. Sigh. I figured that I had time to run to nearby A.C. Moore for one last ditch attempt to see if they had smaller needles.

I drove over and hurried in. Immediately, somebody got in my way. Doesn't this always happen? Or maybe it only happens to people with Type A personalities who always know exactly what they want. But a meandering person appeared in my path and somehow managed to take up the entire width of the main aisle, so I couldn't easily pass her. I didn't want to be a jerk, but I *desperately* wanted to pass her. I was in a hurry to get back to work, and I wanted at the yarn section ASAP. I had to divert into a side scrapbooking aisle to make my way over without looking obnoxious, and made a beeline for the bamboo needles. BLAST! No 16" ones in smaller sizes. I furrowed my brows and looked around. Luckily, I found that their selection of aluminum circular needles was much, much larger than JoAnn's. Somebody was standing right in front of them, so I hovered as unobtrusively as possible until she moved on. Over her shoulder as she was preparing to move I spotted 16" circular needles in a size 7. Amen!!! Once the interloper moved her cart away I found that they actually carried 16" circular needles in all sizes, down to a size 1, so I grabbed a size 6 and nearly kissed them with happiness.

I was downright thrilled as I proceeded to the register. All for less than $8. Happy day. Tomorrow, Mike and I are scheduled for a 'date night', so all around I feel resoundedly pleased.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anxiety at its peak...

So, the giant World Civ. class that I've been dreading for weeks has come to pass. I'm happy to report that I made it through alive. As I anticipated, the lead-up to the class was unlike any that I've experienced in my career as an academic librarian - I was a *mess* with neuroses. Granted, I always get nervous before I teach, but not like this. For weeks, I've been (a) cranky, (b) twitchy, and (c) super paranoid. Like, really, really bad. Last night I took an over-the-counter sleeping aid because I knew that sleep would elude me otherwise. I'm not normally *quite* this spastic.

This morning, I was jumping out of my office chair at every little sound and just felt sick to my stomach. As the hour approached, I grew more and more restless. I was practically climbing my spring green walls with nervous energy. Finally, it was time to go. I headed off as if I was being marched to the gallows. I peeked into the lecture hall and found that I was the first one to arrive (neurotic freak). I sat down and twitched until the instructor arrived. When he came in I hurried over, and uncomfortably, he didn't recognize me at first. I twitched at him a bit before his eyes alit with recognition. We got the overhead and classroom PC all set up, and I opened the files on my jump drive. I made small talk.

"So. How many students did you say are in this section?"

"Oh, a few have dropped. So, 200. And they *will* all be here. I made sure of that."


Students file in at a rapid clip, and we get underway. As the floor was turned over to me, I felt strangely comfortable. Once I began teaching, I found that actually, it was no different from the 24 student classes I usually teach. The anticipation was much, much worse, but the experience itself really was the same.

It went well. I told a funny story in the beginning, and they smiled. I used an example featuring Roscoe, Shauna'h's puppy, and flashed a photo of him. That elicited smiles too. Then I got into the boring stuff and did my best to just punch home the important things: my email address, the library catalog for books, use subject headings (I get so excited about subject headings, my enthusiasm simply must be catching, :) no Google, databases list for journal articles. Did I mention no Google?

I finished up early, as promised, but just one thing annoyed me. As I was nearing homeplate, it was still 10-15 minutes before their class was scheduled to end; however, once the attendance sheet made it's way around the room, a handful of students in the back slipped out. It was still just 11:35-11:40 in a class that was scheduled til 11:50, and I finished at 11:43. I take my timing very seriously. Well, I take everything very seriously, but you get the point. It's not like I was running over and people had to go.

But really, I couldn't expect more out of a group that size. As Shauna'h told me this morning, they're college students: the pope could be up front salsa dancing and you'd still get some people with bored stares checking their email on their Blackberry.

So, overall, it went very well and I'm so, SO glad that it's over. I have a reference shift and then I'm off to the craft store. Tonight, I'm making a lime shrimp dish and I'm very excited about it. I suspect Hank will "help" me with it, meaning that it'll take me twice as long, but I don't mind that. I love doing things in the kitchen with him, and he loves to work with Mommy in there.

Mike gem of the week: For the past few years, we've lamented the increasingly obvious demise of our old vacuum cleaner. Finally, we purchased a new one with a Target gift card. We did our research (a librarian in the family...) and checked Consumer Reports first. We honed in on an inexpensive Dirt Devil that got excellent reviews in all categories except noise. Ah well. As long as it can suck, I don't care if it's noisy. We found it at Target, and brought one home. We call him Devil.

Well. The thing can suck, it's true. It's dirt compartment is already chuck full. Mike, who truly is even more into cleaning than I am, sets it up for its inaugural run and makes a disturbing discovery: the unit has a vent right in the front. Meaning, that as he goes to suck up crumbs, the crumbs keep blowing away from him. I'm upstairs, and I can hear the vacuum running (and it *is* noisy; sounds like an 18 wheeler is driving through our living room) and Mike swearing. Before I can intervene, Mike has implemented the Man Solution to this problem: he slaps a piece of duct tape over the vent. Voila! Crumbs sucked, problem solved.

And he loves the thing. When I got home from work yesterday, he asked me to examine the carpet.

"Did you see how good the carpet looks?! It has *vacuum tracks* on it! Oh! and I did the stairs today with the attachments; it was awesome!"

It's no wonder where Hank gets his cute gene from.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I have that giant class tomorrow and my hat is floppy. If that makes no sense, it's no wonder. I'm feeling very distracted right now. Aside from a few more practice runs, my lesson plan is finished, at least. I can do that this afternoon, but I also have a virtual meeting of the American Library Association committee that I'm on, and I have to give a report. *sigh* I'm hoping to finish everything that I need to at work, go fetch Hank from school (little dumpling), and have an enjoyable evening.

So, the hat. The hat that I'm making for Mike is decidedly (big surprise) too big. I don't know what's wrong with me. It's like I'm trying to knit with those freakishly huge hands the clay people have on Wallace & Gromit. I need smaller needles. Following my class tomorrow, and a subsequent reference shift, I'm bound for Michael's to purchase new needles and some yarn for other projects. The thought is cheering me a bit.

But in the mean time, I'll just stay put, tensely, in my office. *mopes* *whines*

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back from a long weekend...

And not much time to blog :) Work this semester is crazy busy, and looming on Thursday morning I have that monster 230 student World Civilizations class. I'll whine about that plenty tomorrow. For the time being, I'm trying to get some small things crossed off my to-do list and work on my lesson plan.

I did enjoy my long weekend, although Hank acted like he was on uppers the whole time. Tough to take at some points, to be sure. Although that boy just gets cuter and more handsome each day. My baby!

I was able to take a break yesterday and go to lunch and shopping with my mom. In the grand tradition of women in my family, we seized the opportunity that the sales provided us (and for me, Christmas gift cards) and shopped for purses.

Handbag selection is like a lauded ancient ritual in my family. Our kind can easily spend 45 minutes to an hour in the handbag department; that kind of statement can make anyone with Y chromosome faint right on the spot. I desperately needed a new one - my current one has a nice design, but quickly acquired a crippling strap problem. It was a cheapie, so I didn't expect much. Every woman has a litany of features that she desires in her purse. For me, I like:

(1) A single long, thick strap that won't hurt my shoulder. My current purse has 2 straps - fatal mistake. They're always getting in my way when I'm trying to grab something out of the purse while it's hanging on my shoulder. Plus, I realized after I bought it that they're infinitely too short. I can't easily grab my keys or wallet out.

(3) At least 2 main compartments, ideally 3. I like to separate things. Wallet in one easily accessible segment. Makeup items in another. A free-for-all in the third, with things like my glasses, aspirin case, comb, my birding notebook, rosaries, pocket-sized devotionals.

(4) Several little zipper pockets, at least 2 of which are on the outside of the purse. I like to keep my keys and garage door opener in there.

(5) Convenient compartment for my cell phone.

(6) Decent sized overall width. All the more space for me to shove crap into. However, if I can actually fit a book into it, this means that I've gone too far in the other direction.

So, my mom and I descended on JCPenney's and went to work. We scoured for a full 20 minutes to get our bearings. My mom honed in on the Stone Mountain area and beckoned me over from my foray across the aisle. She claims that the Stone Mountain bag she has is her favorite purse ever - she'd just like a different style to mix it up a bit. There weren't too many of them as they were heavily marked down. That's what I'm lookin' for in a shopping experience. I had a gift card, and so I *was* prepared to spend more than my usual $16.99, because I wanted something quality that would last. I'm tired of getting used to a purse and having it wear out and/or break within the year. However, I wasn't looking for Coach-like prices, either. I'd be afraid to take it anywhere.

We picked through and each chose a handful of bags to subject to further scrutiny. It's just unspoken amonst the two of us that we will remove the stuffing in each, take out junk from our own purses, and test it out in the potential purse. We will then sling it on our shoulder and ask the other for their opinion, displaying each of it's featured qualities. Ultimately, we both ended up with the same purse *snorts*, just in different colors. We're both proud owners of a Stone Mountain Lexington Hobo, mine in wine, my mom's in black. I filled it up last night and it fulfilled all of my expectations. Plus, it's adorable. I like how I can stick my wallet in the main center segment, and have the other two for the aforementioned items. It has a special attachable key thing that fits my work keys perfectly and that I can access nice and easy. There's plenty of room for my lip gloss and hair ties in one pocket and my house/car keys and garage door opener in another. There are two pockets appropriate for my cell phone. I'm a happy camper.

In other news, given my high level of nervous energy that I need to burn off, I've been knitting like a mad woman. I'm halfway through an afghan that is destined for a new home with my cousin Christina, and I started a hat for Mike this weekend. The hat is my first foray into knitting in the round, and so far so good. I hope it's not too big and makes him look like he has a freakishly big head. I have a bad tendency of doing that. I'll post pictures as I complete things...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anybody watch Big Love?

It's a beautiful winter day here in Western New York - Temperatures were in the 20's early this morning, there's a definite wind chill but nothing too terrible, snow is on the ground, and the sky is cloudless and clear. It's really, really pretty outside. A good day to be cozily sipping tea inside. I went out for a short walk in my new Storm Chasers, but was happy to come back inside and warm up. My to-do list is coming along; could be better, could be worse. We have a 3 day weekend approaching, and even though I could really use that day to work, I'm embracing the time off. I need a break. I have bellydance Friday night; Mike and I may rent Julie and Julia Saturday night; Big Love is on Sunday night, and Monday Hank and I may go out to lunch with my mom.

So, Big Love... anybody else watch this? I really like this show. I originally got hooked on it via DVD from the library. We didn't subscribe to HBO, so a friend actually taped them for me to watch last season. This year, we have 3 free months of HBO due to upgrading our Internet package through Verizon FIOS, so score. The season premiere was on last Sunday.

I have a definite affinity for shows and movies with a religious theme, even if they aren't Catholic. Now granted, Big Love is pretty untraditional in this way - it's based on a family of practicing polygamists. One of the things that I like about the show is that it decidedly does *not* glorify polygamy - in fact, it shows very clearly how unrealistic it is for one man to fulfill the emotional, physical, spiritual and financial needs of so many women and children.

In a nut shell - the show centers around a husband, Bill Paxton, who was raised on an FLDS compound. He was ejected from the community as a young man by the prophet. The reasoning seems to surround the older men in the community not wanting competition from the young bucks for the women. He owns a local chain of hardware stores, and lives in suburban Utah. He cut ties with the FLDS, but has still managed to accumulate 3 wives:

Barb (Jeanne Triplehorn)- his first wife. They were married in a traditional Mormon ceremony 12 years ago and have 3 children together. She was a devout member of the LDS church. They had a monogamous marriage until Barb fell ill with cancer. They befriended a woman from the FLDS compound who nursed Barb back to health, leading to...

Nikki (Chloe Sevigny) - the second wife. A devout believer in plural marriage as the way to eternal life in the kingdom. Dresses in traditional FLDS garb, and is the least flexible, but by far the funniest, of the bunch; her father is the prophet. Has 2 little boys with Bill.

Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) - the third wife. Youngest of the bunch, used to be the babysitter. Raised in a dysfunctional household devoid of religious faith. Seems to enjoy polygamy because she acquired a large family in the mix. She has 3 young children with Bill.

At the end of last season, there was a plot line about Barb being officially ex-communicated from the LDS church because she was discovered as a polygamist. This broke her heart, and she confided to Bill that she missed having a church home. Finally, they addressed something that I had always found odd about the show - the family does not attend religious services of any kind. Bill started his own church (sigh) but in terms of fictional drama, I enjoy that they are finally showing the family as belonging to a community of fellow believers.

Like I said, I see this as a "religious" show. Granted, an adult, dramatic quasi-religious show, but I enjoy it all the same. If your local public library has the first 3 seasons on DVD, I recommend checking them out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleepy, but good, and Ode to my Storm Chasers...

I'm doing a bit better handling work stress since Monday. I've been keeping up with my daily devotions with renewed fervor (morning rosary, Living Faith readings) and that seems to be helping.

Relatedly, over the course of the past month, I've been battling what I'm pretty sure is a pinched nerve. At first, I thought it was simply a stiff neck. I woke up with it, which happens to everyone at some point. No big deal. Well, by the end of the day I thought I may never be able to move the entire upper half of my body ever again. This was the stiff neck from the very pits of hell. I applied heat, left work early, rested... I went to bed hoping it would magically disappear by morning, like they usually do.

No such luck. By the next afternoon, I had to take some ibuprofen so that I could concentrate on other things a bit. Finally, the day after that, it started to subside. But I noticed a lingering stiffness in that side of my neck and shoulder. Even now, 5-6 weeks later, that side of my neck is slightly stiff when I warm up for bellydance. But the more worrisome part is that for about 3-4 weeks now, the hand on that side gets a pins and needles sensation on and off all day. That's where my pinched nerve hypothesis comes into play. I made an appointment with my doctor, just to be sure, so we're all good.

But at any rate, I'm pretty sure I'm aggravating the situation with my poor posture at work. I'm a librarian, so I'm sitting in front of a computer for a large portion of my work day. Yesterday, I started noticing that I don't sit all the way back in my chair and tend to slump my back over as I work at my desk. I then started noticing that the pins and needles sensation started up almost exclusively when I was slumped in such an aforementioned manner. And for the first time, my overall back felt sore yesterday. So, since then, I've started sitting up straight in my chair, and my hand and back feel a lot better. I googled 'pinched nerve' (the librarian thing, I can't help it) and found that getting proper rest, good diet and exercise can all contribute to helping a pinched nerve heal faster. With my stress at work, I've slacked lately with my daily walks, and I haven't been sleeping well. I've resolved to make things better. I started walking again, and last night I psyched myself up for a good night of sleep. It actually worked, I was pretty surprised. I still feel tired, but I think that's a cumulative effect from the past week.

Overall, I'm doing better. I shouldn't take my health for granted. Striving for physical and emotional betterment in the world of the Catholic Librarian...

And...*drum roll* yesterday I came home to my brand new Storm Chasers. *angels sing* The instant I got home, after kissing Hank and Mike, I sliced open the box, picked up the boots, and slipped them on my feet. They fit like a dream. And the new design is SO cute, even Mike said so. I wore them on my commute this morning, and on my daily walk this afternoon, and they performed superbly. They're adorable, comfortable, and keep my feet toasty and dry. They're resting comfortably right now over by my coat and I keep peeking there to admire them. Storm Chasers, how I love and adore you. Let us never be parted again...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trying to keep my spirits up...

It's going to be a long couple of weeks at work until I can get this large instruction class behind me. But after next week, things should ease a bit. In the mean time, the energy in my office is pretty frantic, but I'm feeling a tad better than yesterday. Yesterday, had someone even bumped into me accidentally, I may have burst right into tears. I was super tense and on edge. Today I've been crossing things off my to-do list (and adding others, sigh) but I'm making slow and steady progress. And, my obsessive online tracking has paid off: I now know that my LL Bean Storm Chasers are waiting for me on my doorstep when I go home, where I can scoop them up, stroke them lovingly, and wear them around the house for the whole night. And then wear them on the commute to work tomorrow - so excited!

At any rate, I thought I'd take a moment to blog about the book I read for the library book club this month, Carol Goodman's The Night Villa. I had never read this author's work before, but by reading the back I immediately ascertained that she is known for writing stories with evocative geographic imagery. This book was mostly set in Italy, and the Italian countryside descriptions really appealed to me. The story centers around a Classics professor who flees a tragedy in her native Texas to participate in an archaeological dig of the ancient town of Herculaneum, buried by the ash of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. There's a bit of romance, and lots of intrigue and mystery. Overall, I really liked the book, and would like to read more of the author's titles as a result. This is what I hoped to get out of a book club, so score.

I also picked up on a bit of a Catholic angle - most people reading the book probably wouldn't, but then again, I'm a bit more eccentric than most people. Religion is a large part of the book, mostly in the form of a local cult that worships Pythagoras. From the beginning of the book, the main character, Sophie, mentions a few times that she discarded her childhood Catholic faith. She doesn't go into detail, but we learn this early on. It ties somehow into losing her mother as a child and the strict upbringing she received at the hands of her devout Catholic aunt. Another character in the book, one of Sophie's students, is a Baptist, and mentions several times her unfamiliarity and discomfort with Catholic traditions and believers. A few of the statements that the characters made annoyed me a bit, but they weren't a large part of the story, so I pressed on. In the end, I actually liked how the author presented Sophie finding some comfort by lighting candles in a Catholic church near her hotel in Italy. She softened Sophie's view of the Catholic church a bit. It was no full conversion experience or anything, but I thought it was well done. There's also a twist in the story involving Christianity that I really liked. I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it as a good, engrossing read.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stressed librarian...

Today is the first day of class for the spring semester, and I'm feeling a goodly amount of trepidation and anxiety. With a shrinking staff, I have a lot more work to do this semester than I ever have before, and on top of all of that, I need to keep writing/publishing in order to achieve tenure in a few years. For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling truly stressed out at work.

I received a request for library instruction last week that has got me so keyed up that I literally can't sleep at night- a request from a faculty member teaching World Civilizations for me to come teach his ENTIRE 230 STUDENT LECTURE CLASS about library research. When I first got the email, I did the most logical thing: I panicked. Then I hyperventilated. I let it sit for a day so that I could gather my wits a bit, and then I wrote to the instructor making as enthusiastic a pitch as possible for the merits of presenting the library instruction at the smaller, recitation (24 student) level: the class can be scheduled in a computer equipped room and thus students can participate and follow along, becoming active agents in their own learning...

He didn't go for it. He's always had instruction provided to his students at the lecture level, and that's the way he'd like it to stay. I'm the new liaison to the World Civilizations faculty, and thus this now falls within my purview. *cries* As graciously as possible, I told him that I'd be happy to present to his students. Privately, I feel sick just thinking about it. Teaching is hard enough for me in front of 25 students - I don't want 230 people looking at me at the same time. And listening to me attempt to make the research process interesting by spicing it up with jovial anecdotes. It's just...unnatural.

The class is next week, and in the mean time my anxiety level is so high my hair may start to fall out. Forget mere sweating - this goes far beyond that. I'm certain that you'll be hearing more on this situation as events transpire.

Sigh. In another high intensity moment, on the way to Mass yesterday, Hank hit me with a tough question:

"Mommy, when we go up for communion, why the priest say 'body of Christ?' What does that mean, Mommy? Who is 'Christ'? Why would we want to eat his body? And why is it called 'communion'?"

Whoa. I didn't have any preparation time, so I just did my best. I tackled the easier one first: the fact that 'Christ' is another word for 'Jesus.' Whew. Got that one out of the way. It took lots of explaining about the 'body' and 'why do we want to eat that?' issue. But I think I did ok.

"In the Bible, honey, this is what Jesus told us. That the bread used during communion is actually his body. It still looks like and tastes like bread, but in a special way it's actually his body."

And I wove a nice explanation about 'communion' being a word related to the 'community of believers' that I hope, (a) didn't go over his head, and (b) is true.

The Children's Liturgy of the Word was back this week, making Mass a little easier on Mommy, and Mike came with us this week, which was wonderful. We're back in Ordinary Time now, but Lent is just over a month away and it's one of my favorite liturgical seasons. I'm already preparing my reading list, which I will post shortly :)

I can't wait to go home to my boys tonight...

My one consolation during this long, long Monday is my experience with LL Bean. I enjoy doing much of my shopping online - it allows me to obsessively research everything before I buy it, just the way I like it. Simply looking at a garment/electronic device in a catalog or even in a store can be deceiving. For instance, I often see blouses in the Victoria's Secret catalog and think to myself,

"That looks great on her, but I bet on me it would look like I was attacked by wild dogs."

I'm a big review reader. And several years ago I purchased a pair of well-regarded Storm Chaser Slip Ons from LL Bean online. Around here, I need solid footgear to protect my feet from snow and rain, and a good friend of mine had a pair of these and highly recommended them. They're not cheap, certainly, but they are extremely well made and LL Bean is known for it's outstanding customer service and return policy. So I bought a pair.

Love them. Mike is a little bewildered by them, because I normally go for more traditionally cute footwear, but these shoes are like pug dogs; they're so ugly that they're in fact cute. The current model actually is fairly traditionally cute; when I bought them, they were more duck bootish but I still loved them to absolute pieces. Every winter I couldn't wait to bring them up. They slip right on, no need to stoop down in the cold and lace them up, and they're waterproof and toasty warm. I wear them constantly.

Last week I noticed that one of my beloved boots had developed a split near the toe, right in the rubber. I was chagrined, because it wouldn't take long before that foot started getting wet. And I don't have $70 to spend on another pair of boots right now, but I just love them so much. Then I remembered LL Bean's return policy. You can return anything to them, anytime, with or without a receipt, and they'll exchange it or give you your money back. I looked this up online just to be sure, and yep, that's what it is.

Still feeling a little unsure, I called their customer service line. It rang once, and I settled in for some automated menu surfing. I was absolutely shocked when I instantly heard:

"Hello! This is LL Bean, Cindy speaking, how can I help you?"

I mean, seriously? A *real person* answered the phone on the first ring? I was utterly flummoxed. I quickly explained the situation, and confirmed that I can indeed return my damaged boots. I told her that I simply wanted a replacement pair, not a refund, and she processed the exchange for me right away. I do have to be charged initially for the new boots, but once my damaged boots arrive to them (with a pre-paid packing label from the web site, no less) they'd refund me the original cost of my boots. Xanadu.

I felt a little bereft packaging up my old boots, beloved as they were, but I was terribly excited to have a brand new pair on the way. I took the package to the UPS store, and the guy working there took one look at my pre-paid label and said:

"Oh, you're all set ma'am."

I'm not used to this level of efficiency in retail.

So, since Thursday, I've had no Storm Chasers and I'm missing them badly. My feet are currently getting wet in a pathetic old pair of long boots that I should have thrown out years ago. I've been obsessively tracking my new boots' progress, and as of this morning, they are in New York State and on their way to me, Hurray! Storm Chasers, how I love and miss you; I long for your arrival on my doorstep... Hurry home!

Friday, January 8, 2010

5 years ago today...

...Mike and I were married :) Unsurprising, yes I know, that I chose to get married in the middle of winter. And I even managed to find someone with the same taste in seasons that I do :)

It was a beautiful winter day in Western New York. We received the sacrament of marriage in the chapel of the small Catholic college that I attended and that Mike now teaches at as an adjunct faculty member. We had a lovely reception at a local hotel, and it meant a lot to be to have our family and friends there, but to be honest I barely remember anything about it. The ceremony was the absolute highlight of the afternoon, and I remember every detail. I loved picking the readings and the prayers, and the priest had a wonderful, and personal, homily.

When you marry in the Catholic Church, there is a specified pre-marital discernment program, as well as planning of your wedding liturgy with the priest. For Type A people such as myself, the little booklet the priest gives you, Together for Life, is a real coup. There is an edition for both nuptial Masses and wedding liturgies outside of Mass. In each there is a worksheet with blanks for the bride and groom to fill in every detail of the ceremony. The booklet includes the text of all the readings and prayers so one can make an informed decision. This type of super-organization really tickles my fancy.

In particular, I loved the nuptial blessing that we chose; even Mike commented on how well it suited us as a couple. The nuptial blessing is recited by the priest toward the very end of the nuptial Mass, just prior to the recessional. Ours was:

"My dear friends, let us turn to the Lord and pray that he will bless with his grace this woman, now married in Christ to this man, and that he will unite in love the couple he has joined in this holy bond.

Father, by your power you have made everything out of nothing. In the beginning you created the universe and made mankind in your own likeness.You gave man the constant help of woman so that man and woman should no longer be two, but one flesh, and you teach us that what you have united may never be divided.

Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.

Father, by your plan man and woman are united, and married life has been established as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away in the flood. Look with love upon this woman, your daughter, now joined to her husband in marriage. She asks your blessing. Give her the grace of love and peace. May she always follow the example of the holy women whose praises are sung in the scriptures.

May her husband put his trust in her and recognize that she is his equal and the heir with him to the life of grace. May he always honor her and love her as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Father, keep them always true to your commandments.
Keep them faithful in marriage and let them be living examples of Christian life.

Give them the strength which comes from the gospel so that they may be witnesses of Christ to others. Bless them with children and help them to be good parents.May they live to see their children’s children. And, after a happy old age, grant them fullness of life with the saints in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord."

Christmas season runs in the liturgical calendar through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is Sunday, so our anniversay always falls right near the end of it. I love :) A true time of celebration.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back at work...

So, I'm back. Thank God. The whole experience reminds me of how I never want to fly anywhere ever again and I'll just drive instead. After waiting in the line to check-in our bags at the airport...

"Is that the end of the line? Oh wait, no , it weaves back that way. Is this the end of the line? Oh wait, look, it snakes over there..."

And then waiting in the chaotic line at airport security...

"I think we're in the wrong line. Why is nobody moving? Where are we being funneled? Why is that TSA lady yelling at those people?"

And then waiting at the gate...

"Henry, no, honey, please just sit down..."

And then waiting on the plane...

"Are we there yet, Mommy?"

And then waiting on the runway after landing for a gate to open up...

"Why are we just sitting here? What are they doing? They have to de-ice that other plane? *expletive*"

And then waiting to get off the plane...

*loses oxygen*

And then waiting for our luggage...

"I thought they said Carousel B. It's obviously not going to be Carousel B. Hank, honey, please don't climb on that!"

I wish to never see an airplane ever again. Amen.

Today I'm back at work and I wish it wasn't so. I'm buried under email and my to-do list is a mile long. Inexplicably, the semester begins MONDAY which is just royally unfair if you ask me. Between the holidays and everyones vacations, it's been hard to get any work done between semesters. Sigh. I've managed to wade through most of my email, but this has resulted in 10 more items being added to my to-do list. I'm downright afraid of my to-do list at this point. It's too large to fit in the designated area of my weekly planner, and so items have been squeezed in every which way and it looks very, very scary.

There's one entry on the list that just says: "pile." It refers to a pile of small junk that I need to take care of but I have no notion of when I can get to each of them so I just stuck them in that pile. Once I finish everything else, I must get to the pile. This likely means the pile will still exist come May.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Adventures in Disney World

Well. I'm back from Disney World, and I'm just glad that I survived it :) I know that many people love Disney World, so once again, I'm thinking that I'm the freakish minority. At any rate, where to begin...

When we arrived at the park, I was amazed at the size of the property. The place is a fiefdom unto itself. We took a tram from our assigned parking lot (Pluto) to the main entrance. I was a little surprised to find that we had to take either the monorail or a FERRY over to the Magic Kingdom itself. A ferry? We chose that option, and I was happy to view some laughing gulls, tree swallows and double-crested cormorants on our voyage. As Cinderella's castle came into full view, Hank was trembling with excitement.

After we entered the park, we started off at Dumbo, and Mike took Hank on. They waited for about 15 minutes, and while they did so, I did what I always do in these waiting situations: I whipped my book out. Mike is always amazed at my ability to tuck a book away in my handbag and read at every possible opportunity. Line at the bank? I'd rather use my time wisely and get another couple pages in. Strange, but true.

So I read, Mike and Hank finally got on Dumbo, and everyone was happy. I waved to them as they flew by. We moved over to the teacups, which are one of my favorites. I took Hank on this time, and we only waited for 5 minutes before we were able to get on. We got our own cup and I spun the wheel enthusiastically so we could swirl about. Hank laughed in delight. I think I overdid it, because when the ride stopped, I could barely stumble my way out of our cup. It looked like I had slipped a little something extra into my tea. Hank wanted to go on again, and thankfully, my father-in-law offered to take him. I was still recovering from the first trip.

After that, we headed to Thunder Mountain. We found that Disney has a new system called "fast passes" for the main rides. You register with your ticket, and receive a return time. When you return during the given time, your wait time will be at most 15 minutes. Our return time was about an hour away, so we ate lunch, and headed back. It worked out really well. After that, things started to deteriorate...

We went to the Haunted Mansion. The wait wasn't too bad, under 30 minutes. Hank loved that. That's when things got dicey. Mike and I headed over to Space Mountain to fetch a fast pass, and well... It was only 2 pm, and the fast pass returns were already at 6 pm. By 6 pm, with a 4 year old, we would be long gone. We glanced at the wait time: 60 minutes. Sigh. We probably should have just gotten in line at that point, but not being Disney savvy, we didn't. We did a little browsing at the stores, "$20 for 3 Mickey Matchbox cars? I don't think so..."

We met back up with my in-laws and Henry, and tried to find some more rides for Hank. Everything had a 60 minutes plus wait time, even the little kidde rides. Henry was starting to reach his expiration point, so we formulated a plan. Hank would go with his grandparents to the parade to see Mickey, and Mike and I would wait in line for Space Mountain. I'd never been on it, and since I'm fairly certain that I will never, ever repeat my Disney experience, I wanted to get that in.

Mike and I headed over. The wait time was now 90 minutes. *groans* I persevered though, and Mike, true to his wedding vows, stayed by my side. We waited. We eavesdropped on some conversations in the line near us to pass some time. We chatted. We snaked along. We finally got up to the point that we could see people entering the cars. We still had a ways to go, but I was feeling optimistic. We had been in line for 45 minutes. Then, disaster struck.

Space Mountain broke. I don't know what happened to it, but suddenly, the lights came on and an announcement over the loud speaker informed us that they were "experiencing technical difficulties. Please be patient." We waited for about another 15 minutes, and soon we were nearing the time that we had to meet back up with my in-laws and Henry. We waited for another announcement, and were told that things were still being repaired and we had to continue to wait. Feeling extra cranky, we extracted ourselves from the line and went back outside. The ride was totally closed; they weren't allowing anyone to even stand in line. Not a good sign.

So, I didn't get to go on Space Mountain, and most likely, I'll die without ever having the experience. Alas. I suppose I'll live.

Overall, it was a very, very long day. Mostly, I felt disappointed. Given that it was a Monday, and schools were back in session, I thought the crowds wouldn't be that bad. Naive, yes, it's true. The crowds were overwhelming, and we were only able to ride less than a handful of things in 7 hours. For me at least, a true introvert and sometimes clausterphobe, I can't enjoy myself in those circumstances. Especially when it costs what it does to gain admission. For $80, I want a personal champagne brunch with Cinderella. Or at least, Chip and Dale.

Henry had a great time, and that's what's truly important. For me, I'm happy to be staying in today, reading my next quilt series installment, and packing to head home to the arctic tomorrow. Several feet of snow and counting, just the way I like it...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Feast of the Epiphany...

Today is one of my favorite feasts in the liturgical calendar. I have a patron saint book that markets itself as being a guide to selecting a saint name for your baby. In the 'Tiffany' entry, the author makes the case that my extremely modern name is a form of Ephiphania, and thus today is my patron feast day :) I'll take it. The three Wise Men following the star to find the infant Jesus...this is a good feast. Last year, Mike and I went to Mass together here in Florida on the Epiphany at a parish near the restaurant we went to for dinner. We walked into the church to spot a giant star alit behind the altar. When the priest began his homily, he looked up at it, and said:

"When I came into the church this morning I was afraid I was having a vision. You *do* see this star too, don't you?"

This morning I headed out to Mass with my mother-in-law. I was going to bring Henry with us, but he slept in and I didn't have the heart to wake him. It was 8 am Mass, and since it was "cold" out (below 40 degrees :) the church was less full than usual. Mass was lovely, as it was on Friday. I'm not used to this phenomenon of the church music ministry leaders having the congregation practice the response to the psalm prior to the liturgy beginning. Must be a southern thing.

I'm enjoying our trip very much, but I'm very much looking forward to returning to my everyday life. Last night I had a dream that I had to be a last minute fill-in for a bellydance solo, and I was all excited about it. I miss my regular activities, like bellydance, a LOT. We're returning on Wednesday, and though I'm cherishing our visit and the relaxation time I get here, I'm enthused about my return to the north.

Tomorrow, we're headed to Disney World, and I have mixed feelings about this. I know Hank will *love* it, and that will make it worthwhile. On the other hand, whenever I think of the Disney resort, the word 'exploitation' comes to mind every single time. Everything costs a fortune there, and you're pretty much at their mercy. But we do it for the kids, right? Pray for me :)

Oh! In good news, the chill has taken the edge off the moisture in the air and my hair has returned to some sense of normalcy. This is a good thing.

I shall report in post-Disney...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Checkng in from Central Florida...

Mike, Henry and I are in central Florida, visiting Mike's parents, and are having an excellent time. We arrived, exhausted, on New Years Eve. I was fearful of a terrible flying experience just given the current craziness of our airport security situation, but actually everything wasn't bad. I particularly hate airport security in the winter. Where we're from, at least, winter translates into wet, muddy puddles on the floor from everyone's wet boots. And of course, at airport security, we all have to take our shoes off, which I HATE. I normally love being shoeless, but not with soaking wet socks in the middle of the airport. And then we have the Henry factor, and traveling by air is a big fat wet blanket.

"Are we there yet, Mommy?"

"When are we going to be there, Mommy?"

"Is the plane landing yet, Mommy?"

"Is it time to be there yet, Mommy?"

It's too bad they don't sell valium in those little airplane drink bottles.

At any rate, we arrived safely, and that's all that matters. We had a nice new year celebration, and I went to Mass with my mother-in-law yesterday to her local parish. There's definitely a dearth of traditional Catholic churches down here. Well, actually, there aren't that many Catholic churches here at all. I'm used to the northeast, where the majority of the population is Catholic. There was much guitar strumming and audience practicing of the responsorial psalm prior to Mass beginning, but I can't complain. A girl with a beautiful voice sang accompaniment, the priest had an awesome Irish accent, and the Mass was lovely. I was just grateful to be there.

The only bad thing I've experience so far is the climate. It's not new news that I just don't like the climate here. The summer is excruciating, that goes without saying. But even the winter is just...odd. The air still carries a tremendous amount of moisture, and consequently it's all chilly and damp. And my HAIR; my God, my hair. The moisture in the air is killer on my hair. Did you ever see that episode of Friends where they all go to a tropical island and in each scene, Monica's hair looks more and more ridiculous? People keep asking her what's wrong with her hair, and she keeps saying "it's the *humidity*!" That's me. Every time I look in a mirror, I cringe. Even tied back in a bun or ponytail, little strands manage to curl up and make my head look like a giant Q-tip. It's bad, it's really bad.

Sigh. Tonight, Mike and I are going out to dinner, which I'm excited about. We're having a great time, but I'll be happy to get back to snow and single digit temperatures. Crazy, crazy girl that I am.