Friday, May 28, 2010

Trying to perk, school choices, and nightime belly dancing...

Yesterday was just one of those days wherein I simply wanted to go to bed so that I could wake up the next morning and start anew. They happen to everyone every once in a while and you just have to endure, kwim?

On my car... Mike is looking into a few other garages (friends of friends) and we're going to try and get another estimate or two. But honestly, I'm not optimistic that we'll be able to get the a/c fixed. Regardless, we really don't want to spend more than $300 on car a/c, and barring divine car intervention (does Jesus do auto repair?) I think that it'll just have to stay as is. I'm a little grumpy about it, but honestly, I just need to grow up. In the climate in which we live, it's not a big deal for any length of time. It'll be uncomfortable when I drive home from work on warm days, but I'll just have to offer it up. There are many worse things in life.

On the school thing...I did lots of thinking about this yesterday. And of course, research. I was encouraged to see that at least one local Catholic school charges the lower-priced parishoner rate for anyone that belongs to a parish in which there is no parochial school. That will be us. And the parishoner rates really weren't as bad as I feared. I know that there's also tuition assistance programs too. It made me feel better to have this information.

Overall though, Mike and I talked about it last night, and I think we're going to have to give the public school a go for the upcoming school year. If we don't like it, we can switch Hank for first grade. The main thing at issue is of course money. Mike will still be in school full-time next year, and on top of that, whereas he usually teaches 2 courses per semester as adjunct faculty, in the fall his schedule will only allow him to teach 1. We'll have less money coming in. And, as you all know because I talk about it all the time now :) I'd like to conceive. Major money concerns.

In addition, it's true that it's not fair to judge the school based on a single morning orientation. Every review that we've heard from parents that have or had children in the school have been glowing, including one yesterday from our neighbors with 2 girls enrolled. I think we need a real time experience to go on. Plus, we don't know that the environment would be any less rigid or less assessment-crazy at a given Catholic school. We'd have to get more information about both places before making a firm judgment. Hank's kindergarten year will be a good information-gathering time for us. We can go from there.

I'm still feeling a bit out of sorts about the whole thing, but I'm praying and trusting that somehow it's going to work out just fine. I cracked open my Catechism last night, and was reading the section on the education of children. I forgot to bring it with me so I can't quote the actual text, but the jist was that parents are the ultimate educators of our children. We are not morally obliged to make any specific choice about where to send our children for school - whether it be homeschool, Catholic school or public school. We can send them wherever we feel is best for our particular situation, but in the end, *we* are responsible for passing the faith on to them, and I intend to do that to the best of my ability regardless of whether Hank is in public or Catholic school. In many ways, I think I stay focused better with praying with Hank at home and teaching him spiritual things *because* I know that outside of attending Mass, this is the sole place he's learning about his faith. Should he stay in public school, I'm also looking forward to both of us becoming involved in our parish's CCD program. Hank would start attending in first grade, and I'm planning to volunteer as a teacher.

This is all off in the future somewhat, but it helps me to talk it out. That's why I love this blog so much :)

Ok, so enough stressful stuff. I've been belly dancing my little heart out lately and praying that my sheerish curtains are doing their job and not giving the whole neighborhood a free show. The reason for this is a major upcoming milestone for your Catholic Librarian: my first solo.

Last Friday at class, we were doing our usual thing when suddenly Claire announced something new: We'd be working on our improv skills, improv being dancing solo with no planned choreography. I thought this was a great way to challenge us and force us out of our comfort zones, but I have to say, I'm a bit anti-improv :) Given my personality, I like everything Nothing, not even an eyebrow arch or saucy smile will be left to chance.

So, we all took turns improving for a minute or so to a song, and as you can imagine, I was sweating overtime. I get nervous now about performing, but as long as I'm in the group I do just fine. Everybody looking at ME is not something I'd ever been able to enjoy. My classmates had done this exercise before, but because I'm still fairly new to the advanced class, this was my first time. I put it off as long as possible and then forced myself up. I made it, but it was pretty rough :) In the heat of the moment, I could only remember about 3 steps, so I kept repeating things and tripping over my own feet. Not a good look.

After class I was pondering where I'd like to go with my dancing. I really love it, and we have a hafla coming up to celebrate the opening of Claire's new studio. She's encouraging all of us to do solos. Lest I be pressed into this dreaded improv nightmare, I started planning a choreography posthaste. It took me several days just to pick a song. Finally, I settled on a drum solo, and I really love it. I've planned out about a minute so far, and I have to say, I like it. One thing I realized from the improv exercise is that you don't have to be constantly in frenetic motion when you're doing a solo. There is a place for slowing down, focusing on some hand or chest movements, even pausing in time to the music. As well, you don't have to reinvent the wheel and come up with "new and exciting!" all the time. String together some basic movements, some combinations from class, mix in some travel steps and some of those slower sequences for isolated movements, and 2 minutes later you've got yourself a cute solo.

I'm pretty terrified, but cautiously optimistic. Now I just need to secure a costume with the magic word attached (cheap!). We'll get there...

Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A not so good morning...

I keep plotting my happy belly dancing post and getting waylaid by stressful occurrences. *sighs* In good news, my grandmother is doing well, although still in ICU. They wanted to keep an eye on her for an additional day since she was complaining of some discomfort and the doctor was adjusting her medication. But overall, she's doing great.

The furlough issue is still unresolved, but for the time being a temporary restraining order is in place, so that's good.

This morning, we had 2 major issues to contend with: the air conditioning in my car, and Hank's kindergarten orientation. We took the car in first thing, hoping that it would be a $200 or so fix. 'Twas not to be. The mechanic told us that the compressor needs to be replaced, and that would cost... are you ready? Wait for it... $760. I nearly fell over. Needless to say, we don't have that amount of money stocked away for a repair of a non-essential item. I am most unhappy about the situation. We're going to shop around at a few other places, but unless something truly unexpected happens, I'm going to be sweating a lot this summer.

Next, we walked to our local public elementary school for Hank's orientation. I was really looking forward to this, and at this point, I hadn't gotten the car news yet, so I was in good spirits. Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed. I went to public city schools k-12; I did just fine, and that district has a lot of issues that our suburban district does not. Our elementary school comes highly recommended and people in the neighborhood rave about it. As a general rule, I'm all about keeping an open mind with regard to public schools.

It's just that...things have changed since I was in school. Everything now is about "state standards and regulations" with an unbelievable amount of emphasis on testing and other assessments. The environment is also so, so rigid and strict. God forbid you should want to walk your child into their classroom or enter the school while classes are in session. You have to be buzzed in, signed in, and receive special written permission to do just about anything. And don't even get me started on the birthday food thing. Children with food allergies in the classroom, *this* I understand. I certainly wouldn't send Hank in with something from which one or more children would be excluded due to allergies. I would accommodate that in a heartbeat. But the "wellness committee" chairwoman (I'm not making this up) telling us that they promote "healthy snacks" for treats and special days like raisins, fruit, and non-food items like bookmarks (!), and discourage sugary cupcakes and cookies just makes me kind of pissed off. These are 5 YEAR OLDS. Let them be kids.

Overall, the level of hot air, and quite frankly b.s., in the auditorium this morning left me feeling drained and unhappy. Is this what I want for Hank? Constant testing, locked doors, and birthday raisins? I don't know. And I feel trapped, because especially if we want to have another baby, putting Catholic school tuition into the budget until Mike goes back to work full-time just isn't happening. And maybe I should give the school more of a chance than a 2 hour orientation.

Mike assured me that after he's working full-time again next year, if we're unhappy with the school, we can switch Hank to Catholic school. At that point, he'd only have just finished kindergarten, so he'd be young enough that a switch shouldn't be traumatic. We'll see.

But I'm feeling decidedly down again. I'm trying my best not to let that fester. God always works things out, even if we can't see how right at the present moment. I tend to always want to be in constant motion, and trying to do things before I allow enough time for proper discernment and contemplation. Sometimes I just need to leave God more room and time to work, kwim? I'm trying to do that right now. Trying very hard, I promise :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Thanks everyone for the prayers. My grandmother came out of surgery just fine and is recuperating nicely. I'm glad that the actual surgery is behind us now.

No word yet on the furloughs. I have a feeling that it's going to be a long time ahead yet of uncertainty. We'll persevere.

It's actually *hot* here today, which as you know, is not my favorite weather :) It's sticky, and in the mid 80's. I'm actually wearing a *dress*. This is fairly unprecedented territory for your Catholic Librarian. I don't think I've ever worn a dress to work before. I'm finding that for this weather, I really like it. Much, much cooler. This is from the collection of modest clothes that I blogged about earlier this spring. I have a couple new skirts of the same material that I'm liking as well. It's a Target brand. Maybe Mossismo? At any rate, very flowy and comfortable.

The reason I picked the dress this morning is because the air conditioner in my car appears to have developed an attitude problem. *sighs* I have a feeling that the mechanic bill won't be pleasant, so I'm resisting taking it until after we know more about the furloughs. I mean, air conditioning in my car isn't exactly essential to it's overall performance, so I feel like it's not something that I absolutely have to have. On the other hand, when it gets humid during the day, my car is miserable when I get in it to go home from work, and by the end of the journey my clothes are sticking to me, I'm soaking wet and pretty punchy. *unhappy face* I'm hoping the dress eases the commute later today. I say "commute" when it's actually about 10 minutes, so I'll live. Keeping the windows down helps. *whines* This is good for my soul, I'm certain. Anybody have anything I can offer this suffering up for? :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Couple of prayer requests

I'll write a longer post tomorrow, but I wanted to ask for the favor of some prayers. Most importantly, my grandmother is undergoing open heart surgery today and we pray for her health and healing. As well, tomorrow the furlough issue goes back to the courts, and I just pray that all goes well and that we won't be forced into foregoing some of our pay. Many thanks! I will report in tomorrow...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The end of an era: Lost...

I had a belly dancing post in mind for today (which I still plan to write later today or tomorrow) but after last night's series finale of Lost, I knew that I had to write about that.

Mike and I have been in love with Lost since the summer of 2006, when we watched the first two seasons on DVD at a frantic pace. We were hooked, and beginning with season 3, we watched every weekly episode with rapt attention. I loved the mysteries and the characters; Mike loved the philosophy and the mythology of the island. We both enjoyed the show immensely.

So, yesterday being the series finale, we really did it up good. We plunked down to start watching the recap show at 7 pm, and watched all the way until the final episode concluded at 11:30, our butts asleep. Here's the one thing (actually, the only thing) that I don't like about living on the East coast: television show times. 11:30 is way, WAY too late to have to stay up to watch a program. It's a perpetual problem over here; we always get the late end of the stick.

At any rate, we psyched ourselves up because we didn't want to miss a moment. We got Hank in bed, Mike made us some martinis, and we settled in for the long haul.

**Spoilers begin, warning...**

All I can say is: When I die, I want the Lost soundtrack playing in the background. So, so emotionally evocative and dramatic. It'll make however I die seem all heroic. I think this is a good plan.

Anyway...we start watching (and drinking) and as is absolutely no surprise, I quickly become emotional. I know that reviews are mixed, but I for one really loved the finale. It satisfied me, I felt that the characters (for the most part) were redeemed of past emotional baggage and were happy. I cried (pretty hard) for at least an hour of the two and a half hour episode.

Emotional hot spots for me: Aaron. All parents know that once you have a child, the way you look at children and their vulnerability is irrevocably changed. You see your child in all of them, and in a split second, without the need for any forethought whatsoever, you would die for them. And Claire's little son Aaron just reminds me so much of Hank. Last night we saw some scenes from when Aaron was about 3, and the shots of him sleeping angelically in his toddler bed, or coming out and seeing his (foster) parents arguing, clutching his stuffed whale, made me cry HARD. I want my Hank to always feel safe, secure and loved.

And then we see Aaron born again, in the alternate timeline, and I cried then too. The cute thing was, that baby was so totally not a newborn, and he seemed to be saying "what is all this crap doing smeared all over me?! Yucky, get it off!" I loved how his little tongue curled up when he cried. I immediately declared that I wanted to have another baby right then and there. Mike arched a brow at me.

I'll move on in a second, but I simply have to insert another baby anecdote. Earlier in the day, I was over visiting our neighbor while Hank played with their little boy. They have a new baby, Lena, who is about 7 months old. I was keeping an eye on her for a few minutes while her mom went to get something for the boys. Lena was sitting on the living room floor, playing with a few baby toys. I was beaming at her. Suddenly, she grabs a big plastic rattle and shakes it a tad too enthusiastically. She brains herself right on the forehead. I cringe, but smile at her hoping to soothe. She stares at me, momentarily stunned by the blow. At least 5-7 full seconds go by as I can see her little mind working:

"Who is that woman over there? What is this rattle doing in my hand? Wait, WHY DOES MY HEAD HURT SO MUCH?! Should I be crying? YES I SHOULD. wwwaaaahHHHHHHHH!"

She is so, so cute. Naturally, I scooped her right up, but she refused to be soothed. She appeared to be both tired and teething, a dangerous combination. Nevertheless, she was tremendously cute, and thus, I was already in happy baby land, contributing to my sobs during the Aaron scenes. Moving on...

Ok, other Lost things last night that I dug. All the religious imagery. The church. I loved the Jesus statue outside, arms open, awaiting takers. And most importantly, I felt that the characters that we've come to love have found the redemption that they have been looking for since season one. I've been wondering about that alternate timeline all season, and for me, it felt satisfying to discover that that universe was actually a purgatory of sorts, a place for our characters to work out their struggles before moving on to the fuller afterlife.

As well, their lives had meaning. The choices that they made, both good and bad, *mattered* to their ultimate destination and to others. Their time on the island was real, and it kept the world a better place for everyone, as well as contributed to their own personal journey of faith. Good, good stuff.

This morning, however, I wasn't feeling so good. Got to bed at midnight, plus 2 martinis, plus cramps = very miserable Catholic Librarian. When I limped downstairs this morning for breakfast, still in my pajamas rather than fully dressed and made up like usual, Mike eyed me worriedly. Much coffee and ibuprofen consumption later, I made it out of the house. Clearly though, I'm less than 100%. We'll get there. At any rate, it was worth it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

So hard to focus, but looking forward to summer...

My attention span today appears to last approximately 20.9 seconds at a time. *sighs* Not conducive to getting a lot of work done. But it is a beautiful spring day outside, there is lots of family stuff going on, and my list of knitting and crochet projects for use in distracting me is growing by the nanosecond. Thus, I just can't seem to keep my mind on the dense tome I'm supposed to be writing a review of. Such is life.

I had a wonderful visit with my grandmother yesterday at the hospital. It was just her and I, and we gabbed it up for nearly 3 hours while my knitting needles clacked happily. My grandmother is a very devout evangelical Christian, and I always love her anecdotes.

"Yesterday, this pastor that I'd never seen before stopped by my room. He came in and said 'Excuse me, I'm sorry for intruding, but the Lord just told me to stop and visit with you...'"

She's precious. I plan to go see her again this weekend. Her bypass surgery should occur within the next 4 days or so.

Today, I'm so distracted I literally can't sit still. I've been invited to a baby shower, and my knitting plans are full steam ahead. I'd rather be doing anything other than staring at this book that I need to review. *sighs*

I've also been thinking about our summer plans quite a bit. Hank's pre-k graduation is coming up in mid-June, and next week we have his kidnergarten orientation. My baby! I'm going with his class to a local amusement park in early June, and I'm terribly excited. I'll try not to chaperone his high school prom, but for the time being, I'm really enjoying being involved in his school activities :)

As well, I mentioned before that I've been looking to become more involved in our parish, I was just waiting for the right opportunity. I scan the bulletin each week, but so far, nothing has been workable with my schedule. Last week, I noticed a flyer for a new Vacation Bible School program starting up this summer. The Director of Religious Education is looking for volunteers, and I phoned on Monday morning :) So, in late July, I'm going to be taking a week off from work so that I can volunteer for the program (Hank will also be attending). It's only 9 am - noon, so in the afternoons we'll make a staycation of it and do some fun summer things, like swimming and other play dates. I'm really looking forward to it.

*looks back at book* *wants to kill self* *sighs* 3.5 hours to go...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gardening with Henry, and much praying going on...

The other day, Hank went to check on the little flower seed he had growing in a pot on our dining room windowsill. Suddenly, we heard the sound parents are so very used to:

*small crash*

"Uh oh..... Sowy."

I knew that he felt bad about it, and he had been so excited about planting that little seed. So, yesterday on my way home, I stopped off at Home Depot's nursery, since I had a gift card. I picked up a kit for a small potted herb garden, and a potted cactus.

Major caveat: Your Catholic Librarian does *not* have a green thumb. I kill things. I don't mean to! I think I kill them with love. "You look like you need more water even though I just watered you 10 minutes ago. Here you go..." This actually also goes for pets, and is part of the reason why we have none. Just ask Mike about the fish. I was forever obsessively cleaning their tank and worrying over them. "Honey, I think Ignatius has fin rot! Do vets see Beta Fish?"

So, I figured with a cactus, much harder to kill. The instructions say to water only very sparingly and only when the soil is completely dry. All they need is some sun (well, that is a bit of a problem around here) and occasional watering. I spotted one sporting an orange flower. Orange is a color that simply isn't appreciated enough. I love orange. "Do you want to go home with me? You *do*? Ok." *beams*

I arrive home, and Hank is all excited about the herbs. Mike looks at my new friend, the cactus, with much suspicion.

"Hank, don't touch it! It'll hurt you. Why did you get a cactus?"

I explained my theory and he wasn't impressed. I popped it on the kitchen windowsill, and it immediately caught it's spiny things on the kitchen curtain and prevented it from billowing out with the open window. This furthered Mike's displeasure with it's existence in our house. Arching a brow, I accused him of being an Anti-Cacti - A cactus hater :) *I* like the cactus. Hopefully, it won't croak.

After dinner, Hank and I glommed onto the herb kit. It came with a stand, 5 pots, 5 "dirt pellets" (kind of creepy) and 5 packets of seeds for cilantro, chives, basil, parsley, and thyme. We had to soak the dirt pellets in water. Hank loved this part. Before I knew it, he had dumped in enough water to flood the kitchen, and scarily enough, the pellets waited a beat, and then slurped the water down as if they were alive. I think this is why I don't garden much.

We mushed up the dirt, popped it into the pots, and arranged the seeds, covering them with a bit more dirt. We have them by our dining room windows. Crossing our fingers that they grow. I love fresh herbs. Cilantro = fresh guacamole. Yum.......

This morning dawned as a beautiful spring day. Before I even got Hank to school, I received a call on my cell from my mom, with grandmother updates. I talked to her on my way in to work, so I wasn't able to pray my usual morning rosary. On my walk from the parking lot into my office, I whipped out my new Our Lady Star of the Sea chaplet and prayed that. It's so, so perfect for a shorter window of opportunity for prayer, and it soothed me greatly. It fits in my hand nicely too; more portable than a full set of rosary beads. I'm planning to visit my grandmother this afternoon at the hospital. After she has her surgery, it's going to be a long haul between her recovery and all of us pitching in to care for my frailer grandfather. One day at a time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hanging in there, and many craft projects are born

Hank took this picture; can you tell? :) It's the only one I could secure that didn't have his little finger going across the lens. At any rate, it's me with MY NEW CHAPLET!! Which I love to pieces. I recited it both yesterday evening and this morning, and it brought me much comfort. Oh dearest chaplet, how I love thee...

The beads are nice and smooth, perfect for slipping through your fingers while praying. Here is a view of just the chaplet itself:

*beams* The chaplet is very happy in its new home. It's being well cared for and loved. And most importantly, prayed.

Henry and I had a little photo session last night while Mike was at his summer class. I also have some new crafts to show off. I'm all into this seasonal table settings thing now, and for the past month or so I've been busily crocheting us a summer table runner and placemats. Here is an overview of the table:

I really like the placemats. It's a great pattern I got off of e-Patterns Central for Citrus Lunch Mats:

As part of my stress relief knitting, I made a few dishcloths last weekend. I love this particular pattern, also from e-Patterns Central, for Spring Is In the Air Dishcloths:

This one is a free pattern off the Lily Sugar 'n Cream web site for striped dishcloths:

The yarn is Sugar 'n Cream Violet Stripes. Super pretty.

Last night, I knitted away on the prayer shawl I'm making for my grandmother. I'm using the Lion Brand Homespun yarn I mentioned before. The color is called Parfait, and it creates a beautiful rose-colored striping pattern as you knit in garter stitch. Hank walked by, picked up the skein of yarn, and held it to his little cheek:

"OOhhhh. Mommy. Can I take this to bed with me?"

Um, no. But I had to promise to knit him a blanket in the yarn, and I just happen to have a blue/green color in my stash called Waterfall. I found a free pattern on Lion's web site for a diagonal blanket, and away I go. There is certainly something oddly alluring about this yarn, despite its idiosyncrasies. I pet it frequently.

Ok, I'm bound for the reference desk, so I'm off to transform into Super Librarian. I hope you all are having a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Long morning, but the value of friends...

I came into the day today with a bit of a sense of dread in my stomach. My grandmother has been having some heart problems, so I've been worried about her, and family drama abounded. Plus, I had the Meeting Of Doom stretching before me beginning at 9 am. I told myself that I'm grateful that I have a job and that we were not furloughed this week; I should feel glad just to be here and to be getting paid. And I am.

But still. So much sighing. I have a hard time sitting still for meetings that last 2 hours plus, and this one promised to be a doozy. I loaded up on tea heavily flavored with vodka... just kidding :) That's what I *wanted* to do, but I didn't, you see. Instead I stopped off at Dunkin' Donuts on my way in and got a gigantic cup of tea with double cream and double sugar. I should have made that a triple/triple.

The meeting actually wasn't as bad as I feared, but honestly, part of that is that my standards for meetings are so low :) If I don't actually harm myself so that I can get out of the meeting earlier, I consider such a meeting "not that bad." So, that's what we ended up with this morning. All I'll say is that meetings so often get bogged down with commenters who just don't know how to keep their comments anything resembling concise. Alas. It's a fact of working life.

So, then, I got back to my office to find my sisters clamoring for my electronic attentions. Lots of new developments with our grandmother. She's in the hospital, and will have bypass surgery within the week. Prayers are much appreciated. We have lots of concerns about caring for our frail grandfather with her laid up, as well. It's all very difficult.

After all that, I collected my stuff and headed to knitting group. I arrived late, and quickly got to work on the prayer shawl I'm making for my grandmother. Whereupon I was presented with the magnificent chaplet of Our Lady Star of the Sea that I blogged about last week from my beloved knitting friends! I was so thrilled I could hardly contain myself.

The funny thing is, even though I wasn't planning to buy the chaplet (trying to conserve money...) I was still stalking it on etsy so that I could admire it. And Monday morning I noticed that someone had bought it. I sniffled. And I thought to myself "I wonder if someone saw it on my blog and bought it... That's exciting! I'm happy for them, but on the other hand, I WANT IT." I even went back and sadly looked at the Sold listing, so that I could read about it and look at it some more. Pretty pathetic, really. Your Catholic Librarian doesn't exactly have a sparkling social life.

And then, at knitting group today, my friend Karen whipped it out of her knitting bag and said that they had all chipped in on it for me. *squeals* I love, love, love it. I promise to post a picture of it tomorrow.

The bottom of the chaplet features a beautiful medal of Our Lady Star of the Sea. In the image, Mary is holding the child Jesus, and they are in a boat, right on the water. Mary is wearing a crown. The chaplet consists of 15 beads. The initial 3 on this one are a beautiful blue goldstone, and they sparkle :) On these, you pray an Our Father, Haily Mary and Glory Be. There is a rosary centerpiece in the chaplet, and this one features a color image of Our Lady of Fatima, with the holy face of Jesus on the back. The other 12 beads are for praying Hail Marys, invoking the intercession of Our Lady Star of the Sea. In this chaplet, those beads are turquoise jasper and they're fabulous. The color scheme has a definite beachy feel of serene flowing water. I LOVE IT.

On one web page that I read about the devotion, the author noted that Our Lady under this designation intercedes for all travelers, not just those who do so on the sea, as well as all of us as we travel through life's trials. I loved that. Perfect for my current life's journey. It will receive it's inaugural recitation this evening in the car, and I'll report in with all the details in the morning...

Monday, May 17, 2010

My big belly dancing debut...

So, Friday was the big night, and I did manage to survive. So, so much sweating. Racing heartbeats abounded. But all in all, the evening was a success.

When I got home on Friday, I practiced some more, but then figured there was nothing more I could do. We had dinner, and I tried not to be too nervous. I packed up my blue dress and headed off for the gallery.

I arrived early, so there was lots of time for full scale panic. I chatted with some of my classmates, and eventually we moved to the backstage area. There was no dressing room, so we took turns dressing in an emergency stairwell. *snorts* We all donned our cover ups, and Claire asked us if we would hand out some flyers advertising her new studio before the show started. Sure.

Well, immediately upon our re-emergence, we were suddenly targeted by a new audience since it was obvious that we had costumes on underneath our cover ups:

Customer #1 - leering drunk guy

"Heeyyyy. Are you girls *dancers*? Are you going to *perform*?"

I did what I usually do with people who make me incredibly uncomfortable: I said nothing and pointedly ignored him. My classmates dispensed with him pretty quickly, but still, he slipped into the auditorium.

Customer #2 - confused-looking academic

"Hi, um. Is this a show of some kind?"

When we told him that belly dancing was involved, he looked a bit like he had bitten off more than he could chew. He discreetly disappeared.

Lots of women followed, most with children in tow who looked less than pleased to be there. Finally, it was time for our set. We headed up and crowded backstage...

Unfortunately, the show was running long, and the singer/piano player ahead of us just kept going and going. At one point, she launched into a story of a song that her grandmother taught her, and how her grandparents how this spicy relationship, and ended up divorcing. And I'm thinking, "do we really need to know this?" as I sweat profusely. To make matters more interesting, the auditorium was at least 80 degrees and *everyone* was sweating. It was SO HOT. We were hot, beads were flying, and I managed to scratch up my arm with the sequins/bead work on my own breast. It wasn't pretty.

Finally, Claire was called out to introduce us, and we sashayed out for our number. I think it went well. I remembered the dance easily. The hardest part for me is remembering my spacing when there is no mirror in front of us, and making myself smile. I hate forcing myself to smile. But as a dancer, I know that no matter how ridiculous you feel with a forced smile plastered onto your face, you truly would look much more ridiculous if you didn't smile. Because then, you look like ANGRY DANCER, and that really, really looks bad.

I've encountered this before. Someone who is a beautiful dancer, but I can't concentrate on her dancing because I'm so utterly entranced by the scowl emanating from her face. I'm sure she's just concentrating and shyly (like me) not wanting to paste on the fake smile. But unfortunately that face translates into a mad face. It's not a good look.

Anyway, we finished, left the stage, and I finally breathed easy. I was able to stay to watch Claire dance, plus another belly dance troupe that came, which was a real treat. And then I went home and had a drink with Mike. By 9:30. Such is the glamorous life of your Catholic Librarian on Friday nights...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mishaps in the land of belly dance, and nervousness abounds...

Tonight, I have my first performance at a festival with my belly dancing troupe. I have performed before, but only a few times and each time at small gatherings with my intermediate class. This is a little bit scarier.

I've been practicing all week, but yesterday evening I knew that I had to practice in the costume. The group had the costume before I was invited to join, so they secured an extra one for me. I tried it on at class to assure that it fit, but I have never danced in it. And any number of things, unforeseen when it's innocently hanging on a hanger, could go wrong when it's actually in motion.

This thing is a full gown in brilliant blue complete with sequins and lots of beads. I personally wouldn't have chosen it - the leg slits are a bit too high for my taste. I will grant that the slits aren't open right to the skin - there is netting there, and at the belly too, so that's good. But it still says 'va va va VOOM!' a bit more than I'd like it to.

So, yesterday after dinner, I hurried upstairs to shimmy into this thing. The first thing I noticed is that due to all the sequins and beads, the bodice makes your chest look kind of pointy and cone-like. I suppose that's an improvement over 'barely noticeable' which is what I usually have going on. So, I got in on, but I needed Mike to zip me up.

I materialize in the kitchen, and he turns around:

"Whoa! Wooowwwww..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, just zip me up. But be gentle! These zippers weren't made to last."

Not a good thing considering how heavy this thing is. It feels a bit like belly dancing in a full wedding gown.

Anyway, I clear Mike out of the kitchen and cue my music. I start dancing, and aside from getting used to the weight of it, all went well. Suddenly, I hear something ominous:


Followed by:


I look down and a small sampling of blue beads now adorns my kitchen floor. Turns out, a string on the hem of the gown caught on my half soles (those leather strappy things you can get for dance to aid you in turning when not wearing traditional dancing shoes) and that string had some beads and a fat sequin on it. Luckily, each line on the hem is sewn separately, so no other beads were in danger.

I cleaned those up, and did the dance 2 more times to make sure nothing else was lying in wait to break. Thankfully, it was uneventful.

So, the dress is all packed up and ready to go, and I've begun the sweating process in earnest. The dance is only 2 minutes and 15 seconds, so I should be able to make it without collapsing.

I knitted happily for the rest of the night, and went to bed hoping for a good night of sleep to be ready for tonight. I fall asleep, but around 11:30 pm, I'm woken. I was so disoriented, I sat up in bed without knowing what on earth was going on for a minute. Then I hear:

"Mommy! I need my Mommy!" *sobbing*

Ah ha, right. With Hank being 4, I'm so out of practice with this. Should God bless us with another baby, this part is going to suck SUPER BAD because I've gotten used to sleeping like a normal person again. Sigh.

I hurry into Hank's room and find him snug as a bug in a rug in his bed. The only thing is, he's kicked his covers off, and a scowl sporting a porkiness factor of at least 9 adorns his cute features.

"What's wrong, Honey?"

"*incomprehensible murmuring mixed with sobbing*"

"What, Honey? Mommy can't understand you."

"My leg hurts! My foot is wubbing against it. I need my socks!"

OOOkkkkkk. There's no way I'm arguing with him, given the sheer amount of unhappiness emanating from him, so I grab a pair of socks and pop them onto his feet. Then, despite a protest, I re-cover him and kiss his little head. He's still whining when I tell him to go right back to sleep and that Mommy just needs to use the bathroom.

Thankfully, when I came out, he wasn't making any noise, so I just tiptoed on by. Even peeking in his room at that juncture would have been extremely dangerous. I can remember Hank having temper tantrums when he was 2 in the middle of the night, and not even overwhelming exhaustion was slowin' him down, no sir. He would nod off right in the middle of screaming, only to fight it, lift his head, and continue right where he left off.

I crawled silently into bed and held my breath for 5 minutes. No sound. Hank had fallen back to sleep. God is good.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thinking happy thoughts, and Our Lady Star of the Sea

So, after being Debbie Downer for a few days, I've decided to make a concerted effort to cheer up. After all, things really aren't that bad - they could certainly be a lot worse. I have a lot to be thankful for. Thus, I will not utter the "f" word for the foreseeable future (later edit: the "f" word is "furlough;" I realized that looked odd for those reading this post out of sequence. :)). This will be a happy blog post :)

Today, being the Feast of the Ascension, I was able to attend Mass at our new campus Newman Center, which was a real treat. I enjoyed thoroughly. I so love Mass during my regular work days. As a student, I was able to go daily. I miss that a lot. Mass isn't held every day here on campus, and now the Newman Center is removed from the main spine of buildings, so it's tougher. Parking is at a premium here, and to leave your spot during the regular semesters is a bit dangerous. But on holy days, and in the summer, it's so nice to have the option to go at lunch with just a 5 minute drive once a week. I wore my black/white velvet headband in celebration. I feel very cute :)

So, one interesting thing I found in my lunchtime trolling of etsy...A few months back, I read a book that captured my interest a bit. Yes, this is a Tiff anecdote, you have to wait for the segue...I promise, it's coming! Get a glass of wine. Ok, so book. I've reviewed a few (yet another tangent, I know, I know) books on here by Carol Goodman, whom I discovered via our library book club. The Lake of Dead Languages and The Night Villa. She has a classics background and always weaves that into her romantic suspense novels. And she must be, or was, a Catholic, because that usually comes into play to some small extent. Thus, I checked our public library catalog, and they have most of her books. After I read the two I mentioned above, I grabbed The Seduction of Water.

This book dragged a bit in the middle, I didn't love it as much as the other two. But the concept was intriguing, and overall, I enjoyed the book. It's about a young English composition instructor whose family had worked and lived at a historic hotel in the Catskills when she was growing up. Her mother was also a well-regarded author that died young under mysterious circumstances, and left unfinished a trilogy that she was composing. The main character decides to write a memoir about her mother, and embarks on a quest at the old hotel to find out if her mother ever kept a journal, or otherwise had unpublished and as yet undiscovered writings, that she could consult.

At any rate, in one part of the story, the main character (Iris - cool name, huh?) is led to the Brooklyn church where her mother attended for a time and where she herself was baptized - Our Lady Star of the Sea. This stuck out to me, because I had never heard of Mary with this designation before.

Turns out, this is a fairly ancient title for Mary, and is an indication of her role as the light guiding Christians to Christ, as well as a special patronage for those who travel or earn their livelihood on the sea. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on it. The name really stuck with me; it's a beautiful image.

Ok, so back to etsy :) I was browsing through some rosaries and other Catholic goodies yesterday at lunch, and found this - a chaplet to Our Lady Star of the Sea. My heart rate instantly picked up - I live for this stuff, as sad as that is. Instantly, I knew that this rang a bell for me, but I couldn't remember from where. Then I remembered The Seduction of Water. Ha ah! Made my day :)

There is an explanation of how to say the chaplet here. Apparently the 12 beads in the chaplet represent the 12 stars of Mary's crown, and on each one you meditate on a Hail Mary as well as an invocation:

"Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Help and Protect us! Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands."

Cool stuff, huh? I am a big believer in the aid of prayer beads. It's so comforting to have a physical reminder in my hands as I pray, and to carry them around with me as I go about my day. I don't own many chaplets, rosary beads are my big thing, but still, I love this. Yet, I so do not need to spend $27 on a chaplet, as beautiful as it is. Sigh. I'm going to go home and revel in my yarn some more...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tough times and busy knitting needles

Despite my best intentions, my level of anxiety each day grows. I'm dealing with it ok (well, at least *I* think so), as in I'm not having a nervous breakdown or sobbing uncontrollably in public. That's right, my current standard is public hysteria. However, each day I can feel the heaviness in my heart growing. And I'm at a point in my life now wherein I recognize this for what it really is - depression. I've been struggling with it all week. And part of depression is not being able to help yourself very easily. Exercise really boosts my mental health, and yet each day I can't get myself off of my office chair to go for a walk. The gloominess actually makes my limbs feel heavy.

I can admit the fact that I'm a control-oriented person. That sounds so much better than "a controlling person," doesn't it? And I'm struggling mightily with the fact that other people totally outside of my control are going to screw with my hard earned paycheck and with my family's livelihood. Frankly, it pisses me off. And there's not a darn thing I can do about it.

So, I've been saying a lot of rosaries. This is a good thing. And I've been knitting. Like a maniac. Something about the movement of the needles soothes me, and I've been knitting like there's a whole army out there that desperately needs my prayer shawls lest they perish from exposure. It's been helping.

Thus, today I made the last of any sort of "entertainment/luxury" purchase for the foreseeable future: a set of interchangeable circular knitting needles. I had a 50% off coupon for JoAnn's, and they had the Boye needle set that I had my eye on, thus I paid $35 for a $70 set of needles. I was cackling with joy as I left the store.

I've mentioned the knitting needles phenomena before: for a new project, you purchase the necessary set of needles, yet you go to start another project, need a different set of needles. And this will happen approximately 40 more times, at least. No matter how many needles you have, you will still need a different size/length/type for your next project. It's like a law of knitting.

Finally, my search for 24" circular needles led me to investigate an interchangeable set. For whatever reason, the craft stores don't carry many 24" circular needles. Must not be a popular length. With an interchangeable set, I now have needles in sizes 2-15, in cord sizes 20", 24", 29" and 36". I should never have to buy circular needles again. Of course, I will still inevitably need more straight and double pointed needles, but we won't worry about that right now. For the time being, I've saved some money and assured that I can knit to my heart's content for the next long time without having to buy needles. Yay.

I've got a small stash of yarn that should occupy me for the summer. I'm working on a prayer shawl and a shrug right now. I also have yarn for a sweater, a cardigan, mittens for Mike, a hat, a new scarf for me for the next cold season, gifts for any babies that may be conceived, and several afghans for our house. I'm good.

Also in my arsenal is a full collection of crochet hooks. These are much less of a headache to collect than knitting needles, and I've gone years without needing to buy a hook. I have hooks sized C through N. That's really all I'll ever need. To use crochet thread and make doilys you need these skinny minnie things called steel crochet hooks, but I'm not really a doily kind of girl, so I think I'm good.

That covers the crafting portion of my obsessions. On the rosary front, I found the neatest way to aid me in my quest. I tend to pray the rosary a lot while I'm in the car. So, I pray part of it here, part of it there, and part of it on my way home. There's a seller on etsy that makes these little things called rosary charms, and they're very inexpensive. They're little dangly things with a lobster claw clasp at one end and a Catholic medal on the other. As you're praying, if you are interrupted, you can hook the charm by the bead you left off on so that you can pick back up easily when you resume. I have one, with a St. Benedict medal on it, and I adore it. It's made it so much easier for me to continually pray a rosary throughout the day. Usually, I would fret over making sure I got to the end of a decade before leaving off, so I wouldn't lose track. Because, you know, I'm *crazy*. This way I can leave off wherever and hook on my cute little charm. Voila!

It's the little things these days, you know?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

As ever, Hank provides the comic relief...

Hank and I walked around the block to my friend Rose's house yesterday before dinner, to deliver a present for her new baby, who is due Thursday. The instant he fixated on her with his knitted eyebrows, I knew exactly what was going through his little mind and tried to mitigate.

"Rose has a baby in her belly, honey. See?"

Much eyebrow knitting continued. And as we were getting our shoes on to leave, he just couldn't let it go.

"Why you have that huge belly?"

Third trimester of pregnancy is pretty much the only time you can get away with this comment to a woman. That, and being 4, I suppose.

Steadfast in faith

Today started off a bit like yesterday - I was having a hard time physically shaking the emotional black cloud that seems to be perched stubbornly over my head. But when Hank hustled upstairs to tell me that he found a small package waiting for me inside our front door that we hadn't seen when retrieving the mail yesterday, I perked. My Garlands of Grace headcoverings!

*sigh* The silver headband was cute as a button, and I popped it right on my head. The black and white scarf, on the other hand, didn't make it. Accidentally, I had been sent a plain white cotton covering, in the long length style. I emailed them right away, and I'm sure they'll take care of swapping it for me, but it was a bit of an omen of the topsy turvy day to come. In preparation, I kept the silver headband on. It soothed me.

I got to the breakfast table, and Mike reluctantly handed me the front section of the paper. Our state legislature passed the proposal forcing us to be furloughed one day per week, beginning next week. I suppose this isn't a surprise, but it hit me hard nonetheless. There are many things I could say about how I feel about all of this, but I won't say them, because frankly, they aren't helpful for me to dwell on. I just have to remain strong and trust that the Lord will see us through this.

I started my rosary on the way into work, and have kept it by my side, another soothing element. When I arrived at work, I found a panic stricken student outside the closed library. She had an exam inside a library room and wanted to get in to get herself situated. We let her in, and the circulation coordinator let us know that there would be a fire drill in 15 minutes. *another sigh* This did nothing to soothe the poor, frantic law student who had an exam beginning at that exact same time. I sent many sympathy vibes her way as we all shivered outside during the fire drill. There's a cold spell here this week.

I just opened my purse-sized New Testament.

Philippians 2: 27-30

Only conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or an absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing. For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him...

It made me feel a little bit better.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Trying to shake the blues...

I wanted to blog on Friday, but after my reference shift ended, I ended up taking a half day. I was just exhausted, emotionally and physically. Today, I sort of feel the same way, but I'm trying my best to muddle through. We should hear more about the potential furloughs this week, and besides waiting for that, there's nothing I can do. So, I'm very much trying to perk.

I did have a wonderful weekend away from the office, although worry was the devil on my shoulder the whole time. Knitting and crocheting takes my mind off of things, and so we are the proud owners of two brand new baby dish cloths. As well, I worked on the prayer shawl I'm knitting from the Homespun yarn, and I started my first garment: a shrug.

I have some inexpensive Vanna's Choice acrylic yarn in taupe that I picked up on sale a few months back. I was going to use it to make a shawl, but I rather have shawls coming out my ears at this point. Instead, I found a free pattern for a simple shrug on Lion Brand Yarn's web site, and I'm using the yarn for that. I figure, if it doesn't come out the way I want, it won't bother me too much since the yarn was so cheap.

For the first time ever, I dutifully knitted a gauge swatch. For afghans and dish cloths, this really isn't necessary, but for garments, gauge is essential. What you are doing is testing out how big or small your stitches are with the recommended yarn and needle size. If you knit loosely, you should move down a needle size, to assure that your sweater doesn't come out making you look...well, big. If you knit tightly, you want to make sure that it'll fit you, and not your toddler, so you move to bigger needles.

This is a frustrating process for me, because, as you know, I'm not exactly the queen of patience. I'm dying to dive right into my new project, but now that I'd like to start knitting pieces to actually wear, I've resigned myself to gauge regularly. So I did. And, as expected, my gauge was big. *sighs* My gauge is always big. I make big things, what can I say? Even Hank is unusually tall for his age, and his weight was off the charts when he was an infant. He was the biggest baby at the pediatrician, every time. Ah, well. Big is good.

Since this is a shrug, which is supposed to be a bit loose, I just kept on with the same needles. My gauge wasn't that far off, as opposed to previous projects wherein hats that I'd make looked like they'd fit the Incredible Hulk. So I think it'll be ok. I'm very excited.

I worked on these projects off and on all weekend, and we all went to Mass as a family on Sunday, which I very much enjoyed. Hank continues his boycott of the formerly coveted Children's Liturgy of the Word, and finally he told me why. He said that an older boy there called him "stupid" and told him he was a baby. Granted, this is my 4 year old, and so we parents know that we don't always get the full story. I take all Hank tales with a bit of a grain of salt. But clearly something happened that led him to be upset and afraid to go with the kids again, and consequently I'm upset.

When the children went back yesterday during Mass I did notice that several boys who were much older looking than all of the other kids went back. To be fair, I don't know that they are responsible for upsetting Hank. So I would certainly never say anything. I'm just feeling extra sensitive these days, and I'm feeling badly that this activity that Hank once enjoyed so much has been spoiled for him. At least for the time being. I'm hoping, with time, that he'll start to want to go again. We'll see. It brought out my mama bear instinct though. How dare anybody say such a mean thing to my angel. *glares* My precious little guy.

Who didn't get enough sleep either Friday night or Saturday night and thus was an absolute nightmare yesterday late afternoon and evening. Parents, you know what I'm talking about. Some little inconsequential thing, like Iron Man's arm turning the wrong way, and suddenly you have a sobbing child on your hands for the next 20 minutes. Who intersperses the rest of his free time whining. It was just one of those days.

But, in exciting news (for me, at least) my bellydance group is going to be performing at a festival this Friday, and this will be my first performance as an official member of the group. I've been practicing up a storm and I'm super excited. Mike has gotten used to be undulating and shimmying my way around the kitchen, as that's my favorite room to practice in. Apparently there is no changing room at this shindig come Friday, and so we have to arrive dressed. In our bellydance costumes. I'm going to have to drive and navigate my way into a gallery in a heavily beaded and netted gown. This should be interesting. I'll definitely be reporting in on this one.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The allure of comfort food, the joy of being a mother, and the dignity of human work...

As I left work yesterday, this furlough threat weighed heavily on my mind. One unpaid day per week is 20% of my salary. That's a crushing blow to our livelihood. We live well within our means, and have been able to manage Mike moving from full-time employment to full-time student quite well, even with a child and a mortgage to pay. But then to dismantle the other full-time salary? That's tough stuff.

Like I said yesterday, I went into crisis mode, which actually isn't a bad thing. I simply become more focused and appreciative of small things. I wasn't panicking, and still aren't, but my heart felt heavy with concern.

Lifting my spirits, though, was my son. I left work early yesterday to attend the Mother's Day Tea at his school, and as expected, it was all too adorable for words. And I also enjoyed socializing with a few of the other mothers. Being an introvert, and this just my first child, parental socializing is new territory for me. The kids are all dropped off and picked up at different times, so you rarely run into another parent. This was a nice opportunity to chat with them, plus the kids sang and we received our crafted Mother's Day gifts. It was one of those moments where you wished you had a dozen children :)

After that, Hank and I stopped off at the store to pick up some milk, and went home to make dinner. Mike was still taking his exam, so Hank and I were on our own for dinner. I was still feeling a bit emotionally burdened, and so I seized the opportunity to have one of those "I just don't care, I'm making whatever the heck I want" kind of dinners, and prepared Spider Man macaroni and cheese for both of us. I did add a side of fresh strawberries to balance things out a bit. With whipped cream :)

Later, when Mike came home (glowing from a successful exam, thank you for your prayers!) and was putting Hank to bed, before I dragged out my craft bag and started obsessively knitting, I pulled out my Bible and catechism. Since my post on this issue last week, I've been doing better with evening devotions, so thanks to my commenters for their great ideas! Per Deltaflute's suggestion, I took the catechism, and browsed the index to see if I could find a section on financial worries. I didn't find that exactly, but I did find a section on work that I thought pertained.

Pope John Paul II actually wrote an encyclical on the dignity of human work, and I wrote an article about it early in my library career. It's quoted at length in this section of the catechism.

P. 2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation...Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating early realities with the Spirit of Christ.

P. 2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature...Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

I took great comfort in these passages. And of course, they apply to all of us; to those that work outside the home and to those that work inside the home. Whether you're slogging away over a spreadsheet in your office or changing diapers, you're working. And I love how the Church addresses the fact that all of our work is good for our souls.

I was also thinking about the second passage. Even if this furlough comes to pass, we'll find a way to make ends meet and provide for our family. In the end, that's all that matters.

For Bible reading, I figured, as long as I'm doing something, that's a good thing. I don't need to be so Type A about working my way systematically through the entire thing. As long as I stick with it, I can get a really interesting Bible study or something so that I can manage to get through 1 Chronicles at some future point. For the time being, I've started with the first letter to the Corinthians, and I'm loving it. The chapter I read last night discussed Christians being 'fools for Christ' and being perceived as weak and different for their faith. This made me think about what the Church is going through right now. It all tied together for me well last night.

When I arrived at work this morning, I realized that I hadn't pulled out my Living Faith in a few days, so I did so. Yesterday's entry hit the nail right on the head.

"Trouble and Fear

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Do we actually let our hearts be troubled or afraid? Worry and fear, it seems to me, are a natural consequence of daily life. When my child drove our car out of that driveway alone for the first time, I worried - a lot.

Jesus, I'm sure, knows we have legitimate concerns about our families, our relationships, our jobs. We can call on him during those times of stress and doubt. But I think what he is saying here goes deeper than everyday cares and woes. This is about or salvation. He tells us: Trust in me, believe in me. And if you do, you will not have a troubled heart; you will not be afraid. He will be there for us. He will comfort and protect us. He will give us eternal life.

Dear Jesus, heal my troubled heart and banish my fear."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Anxiety = busy bee Catholic Librarian

This morning has started off on a bit of a disconcerting note. Lots of prayer intentions. My good friend Sarah has some close relatives going through health crises, and your prayers are coveted. I've known her for a long time (back from my lawyer days!) She's one of my original Catholic friends from after I finished graduate school, and her husband is Hank's godfather. It's been a rough go for them with these health worries. We pray for healing, and for the comfort only God can give.

As well, my precious husband Mike has exam #3 of 4 this afternoon, and I know that he's worried about doing well. For new readers, my husband went back to school a year and a half ago to study civil and structural engineering full-time. It was a leap of faith, but it was the right decision. It's been a long week for him, so I'm anxious for him to get some relief.

That stuff was already on my mind. And then this morning, I received more news about our state budget crisis and how this may impact us further. I work for my state, since I work at a state university, and things are ugly right now. It's been bad for a few years, but it's about to get much worse. We may all be forced to take a weekly "furlough", a day without pay. This would be devastating for our family. Mike brings in income as well, by teaching part-time (he teaches Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, and Knowledge & Reality - I love that he is a philosopher :)), but my full-time income is our main source of funds while he is in school. I'm downright scared about this. Just keep us in your prayers - I'm sure we'll get through this ok, and honestly, crises like these are a good way to draw closer to each other and to God. I'm not panicked, but I am worried.

And when I worry, I work. On things. Idle hands are the devil's workshop, right? So, my crochet hook and knitting needles have been working overtime. Not to mention the cleaning. But that's a topic for another post.

Here is my spring shawl, which I mentioned a few days ago:

I love the way it turned out. And the cotton blend is perfect for summer. It's made from Lion Brand Cotton Ease.

I've been using the weekly craft store coupons to pick up some crochet hooks and knitting needles for new projects as well as yarn. Knitting needles - all you knitters know what I'm talking about. I have like a small garbage bag full of these things, (I swear, they reproduce like frantic rabbits in there) and yet whenever I start a new project, I need different ones. Size 9? I have those in 29" circulars, but not 36". Size 10.5? I have 2 sets of those, but neither is long enough to accommodate the number of stitches for this new project. In fact, circular would be better, and I definitely don't have those in that size... And on and on.

I've been thinking about attempting for the first time: clothes. This is extremely scary for me. The thought of actually washing something that I make terrifies me. I'm afraid that I'll open the washing machine lid and all I'll find is a ball of unraveled yarn. I could hand wash, but well, I hate hand washing. But I may have to learn to like it.

At any rate, I've been thinking about making some practical things with my crafting skills. There is only so many shawls a girl can use. Granted, they also make nice gifts, but it would be nice to make a sweater. Even typing that word make a little flutter in my belly. A SWEATER. SCARY.

To work my way up, I'm moving slowly from shawls to a capelette, shrug, and poncho. Wrestling with my measuring tape and adding sleeves to things will be enough for me this summer. If I can successfully pull those things off, I can attempt a sweater this fall. Stay tuned.

But in the mean time, I've turned into a craft store addict with my coupons. I don't want to pay full price for the knitting needles and accompanying yarn I need, so I squirrel my Sunday ads section coupons away each week and make multiple trips to the craft stores. You see, the coupons are for 40% or 50% off a single regular price item per store. AC Moore and Michael's will let you print additional coupons off their web site, but wait! You can only use 1 per day. Thus, Tiffany is going to multiple craft stores daily to get single items in order to make a single poncho. She's crazy, you see. But don't scoff - I'm getting circular knitting needles regularly priced at $7.99 for a mere $4, so as you can see, it's all worth it :) And yarn that's usually $6 per skein for $3.50.

Victory is mine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hip drops and dropped stitches...

Happy Monday everyone :) *she says with annoying perkiness* I had a nice weekend, but this is finals time, and my poor Mike is very stressed with all of his studying. His last final is Thursday, so we're just about there. Keep him in your prayers :)

Thus, this weekend, I hung with Hank a lot. We did lots of playing with super balls and super heroes. He's got a small cold and/or seasonal allergies things going on right now, so he's been rather pathetic. I did lots of weekend nurturing, which I love. I checked on him at night, going in to kiss his little head as he slept, snoring away. I'm sure all parents can relate to what I'm sure will seem like an odd comment to everyone else - I love the way Hank's skin smells. It's some very evolutionary biological sense that he is my young. He's so very precious.

Yesterday at Mass, I didn't mention the children's liturgy session to him, just left it til the kids were filing up and asked him if he wanted to go. He said he didn't, *sigh*. But he also wasn't feeling good, laying down on the pew saying that his stomach hurt, poor baby. Another thing parents will relate to - child not feeling good, means that we feel bad about this, but on the other hand we secretly enjoy the good behavior that goes along with the affliction. So, I was able to nurture him during Mass while reveling in the peace and quiet. Bliss.

In other news, my bellydancing troupe has a show coming up, so this means much terror for your Catholic Librarian. I love bellydancing. I've always loved dancing, really. I took the traditional trio of tap, jazz, ballet as a child, and did that until I was about 16. Ballet was always my favorite. I enjoyed the structure *snorts* big surprise, huh? And the attention to form and detail. I think that's why I currently love Middle Eastern dance so much. My teacher was trained in ballet, and there are no sloppy hands or arms in my class, no sir. This I love. Her approach jives with what I love about dance, and I think that's why I've taken to it so readily.

I'm fairly self-conscious in class, but I've gotten better about that the longer I dance. But performances? This still induces much sweating. I'm doing the same thing we do in class, but...suddenly, there are all these people watching me. And I don't like people watching me. But I love dancing, so, it's a quandry. :) We still have another week to practice, so I'll reserve the sweating for another day.

Besides bellydance practice and nurturing my dumpling, I did lots of crocheting this weekend. It rained here this weekend, and was uncomfortably sticky and humid the rest of the time, so we didn't get outside much. I worked on my placemats - 3 done, only 1 to go. I also finished the spring shawl that I was making, and I love it to pieces. It's made in Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn, which is super wonderful. It's a ripple pattern in green, cream, stone gray, and a corn color called 'maize.' I'll take a picture and post.

On my way home from work Friday, I stopped off at Jo-Ann's to get another skein of yellow cotton yarn for the placemats, as I was nearly out. I was armed with 2 coupons, and so naturally I couldn't stop myself from browsing after I picked up the yellow cotton. A fellow craft lover and co-worker, Linda, has been telling me about the projects she's doing with Lion Brand Homespun yarn. Anybody familiar with this stuff? It's just the oddest yarn ever, and it seems that crafters either love it or hate it. The only way I can describe it is to say that it has a unique look and texture. It's acrylic, so reasonably inexpensive, although at $5.99 per skein at Jo-Ann's more than I usually pay for yarn. This crafty girl is on a budget...However, the colors are insanely beautiful, so I'm always drawn to it. Here's what I see as the pros and cons to this yarn:


Beautiful colors.

Very soft texture. People always want to touch this yarn. Maybe some would see that as a con...

"Different" looking; unique.

A bulky weight yarn, and there aren't many of those. Great for afghans and shawls.

Machine washable and dryable. Good for baby projects.


I simply can't crochet with this yarn. I've tried. Immediately after creating a stitch, it will disappear into the ether, never to be glimpsed again by the naked eye.

Splits like nobody's business. And the cut ends fray into a giant puff ball.

Got a fuzzy thing going on. This is related to the soft and unique factor, see supra. Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself. This yarn just has a bit of a personality of its own - it's like it's a living being. The texture is simply so different. You want to stroke it continually to see if it'll move. Is this good or bad?

Finally, the analysis comes down to this: if I make a shawl in this yarn, will I look, (a) super cute and everyone will want to touch me, or (b) like a Muppet. I still haven't made up my mind.

In the end, with a 40% off coupon, and spotting a pattern for a knitted prayer shawl on the label, I ended up grabbing a skein, in a color called 'Parfait.' It's very pretty, all berry pinks and cream. I've been in the market for a simple knitting project, as I've missed knitting lately. The pattern is a very simple garter stitch. I cast on the stitches, and found that trying to work with this yarn on bamboo circular needles was like trying to move your feet in army boots through sludge. I packed Hank up and brought him with me to AC Moore, once again with 40% off coupon *halo* where I picked up a set of aluminum circular needles and the difference is heaven sent. So, so much better with aluminum needles.

So far...the jury is still out. It's really pretty, no doubt about it. And I keep stroking it. I hope it doesn't bite me. We'll see. But yet I keep scoping out other colors, plotting future shawl creations. Why does this yarn have such a hold on me? It's just the oddest thing. Alas, I am bound for Jo-Ann's again this week with my fresh coupon to pick up the 2 additional skeins of Parfait I need to finish the shawl. I'll post a picture, and you can judge it's level of attractiveness. Perhaps we'll have a furriness factor ratio that can be calculated in...