Saturday, July 31, 2010

VBS Wrap up...

So, my week at Vacation Bible School is complete. I'm both happy and sad :) I did enjoy being at the church everyday this week, and I thoroughly loved what Hank got out of it. Aside from the meltdown incident on Monday, he was exemplary for the rest of the week, and he told me that he "had a vewy good time" at VBS. I beamed with pride when he was one of the children in his age group who already knew his Our Father, and when asked at the closing assembly what his favorite part of the week was, he answered "cwafts." My crafty guy!

I ended up making it through as games coordinator, but it isn't a role I would choose again. The kids were SO worked up to be outside, and it was a challenge even getting them rounded up and paying attention. I helped at crafts on Friday, and I found the kids much more sedate and focused in that environment, such that I could enjoy spending one-on-one time with each and actually teach them something. Overall though, I am glad that I volunteered to help, and I know that my help was appreciated. But it was a long week :) I rather need a vacation from my vacation...

Sunday morning at the 10 am Mass, the kids are going to sing one of their songs for the congregation, and we're very much looking forward to that.

It was a nice week off. And it's hard to believe that July is nearly at an end. It's been pretty warm here. Hank has a weather station in his room that features a "weather boy" icon whose clothes indicate how warm or cold it is outside. The other day, I was in there getting Hank's stuff ready, and I happened to glance over.

"WHOA, Weather Boy." *averts gaze*

Apparently, the heat makes Weather Boy strip down to what appears to be a Speedo. I'm hot too, Weather Boy, but let's not lose all sight of our senses.

I have been able to work on my smaller knitting projects, which I'm very excited about. Long post on that coming next week...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Things my son has learned at VBS...

"Mommy...Why is there an angel sitting on my shoulder? And WHY IS HE ALWAYS WATCHING ME?!" *concerned, knitted brow expression*

I assured him that yes, God does tell us in the Bible that we each have a guardian angel, but that angel isn't a double agent acting as God's spy to tell on us when we do things wrong. Our guardian angel is a good guy. And we don't know whether or not he actually sits on our shoulder. That's a bit of a spiritual urban legend, I think.

"Mommy...God is the shepherd, and we are the sheep." *big, wide eyes*

They are such precious little sponges, aren't they?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

VBS update...

Because I know you're all following along on baited breath :) Today went much better. Essentially, yesterday's game was terrible. The kids all hated it, as did I. Since I finally received the materials for the whole week, I was assured that the games improved from that point forward. Today we had a relay with balloon "lambs," and the kids loved it. Plus, I forced the teenagers to be more helpful, and the Director of Religous Ed. came out to assist me today, whereas I was totally on my own yesterday with the surly volunteers.

Henry, under pain of suspension of television privileges, was on his best behavior. I even glimpsed him during the skits session, cap of cotton balls perched firmly on his blond head, playing the part of a lamb. It was too cute for words. Yesterday, I was ready to give him away to the next random person to happen down the street. It was just one of those days.

Interestingly, I found that I enjoyed being with the slightly older kids more than I thought I would. I plan to teach CCD starting next fall, when Hank will start, and one thing I know for certain is that I won't teach his class. I think it confuses him to have Mommy in the teacher role, since he's so unused to that. He needs his space to learn, and I can do my thing in another classroom. That seems to be the model that works best for him. Originally I was thinking that I'd want to teach the kidnergarteners, but these past 2 days, I've realized that those little ones exhaust me just looking at them. Keeping them just corraled is a full-time job, let alone trying to get them to sit down and pay attention. Perhaps my calling is to teach CCD to slightly older kids. It's been an eye opening experience, for sure.

When I picked Hank up today, he told me that he had a great time at Vacation Bible School. Halo perched right on his cute crew cut...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reporting in from VBS...

Traumatized, but still standing. Yikes. This is harder than I thought it would be :) As I expected, games are not really my cup of tea, but I'm stuck with them, because that's where they needed help and I committed my services. But I didn't get my lesson materials until this morning, and I felt frazzled and underprepared. Today's game didn't engage the kids, and I was sweatin' it. My gaggle of teenaged volunteers was much more interested in their own conversation than with actually helping suffering me. I didn't get my needed Bible verse and reflection until my first group was nearly done, and I was feeling flustered and unhappy.

When Henry's group came out and he decided to throw a temper tantrum because he didn't win, I started worrying that I had somehow offended God and this was my punishment. Because it was pretty miserable, my friends. But I made it. Tomorrow's game looks better, with water balloons involved. But I so, so wish that things go better tomorrow. Prayers needed :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The benefit of a positive attitude

One final anecdote prior to the weekend. I work on at a university, and each year we receive colored parking tags to hang from our rear view mirrors, designating where we may park. I have a coveted staff tag :)

When I got home from work yesterday, I saw the envelope waiting for me from the university transportation people, and my heartbeat accelerated. Every year I look forward to seeing what color my tag will be. Mike had already opened his, a student tag, which was sky blue.

I ripped my envelope open, and we each took guesses as to what color it would be. Mike guessed yellow, and I guessed red or something in that family of colors. Finally, the big moment:

Me: "Let's see...OH!!!!! OH, OH, OH!!! Oh I LOVE IT!!! It's *PUMPKIN*! I have a pumpkin-colored parking tag!! I love it, love it, love it!!!"

Mike: "It's orange."

Me: "It's beautiful! I love this color. I want to make socks in this color! I'll knit leaves on them!! Oh, it's so homey and cozy. It reminds of me crisp fall nights in front of the fire, beautifully hued leaves crunching on the sidewalk outside, mulled cider on the stove, curling up with my book or knitting..."

Mike: "All this from a parking tag, huh?"

Me: *beams*

Off to VBS...

Next week I'm going to be on vacation from work, on a "staycation" of sorts. We're not going to Florida this summer like we usually do to visit my in-laws (they came here instead), so I decided to take a week off anyway. Working on an academic schedule, the summers are the best time to take any significant vacation, and let's face it, we all need to get away from work at least once per year.

So I'm off all next week. I will be volunteering at our parish's Vacation Bible School every morning, and I'm both excited and terribly nervous. Not sure how this one will go. It's the first time I've ever volunteered for something like this, *and* it's the first year my parish has ever run a VBS. I definitely won't be blogging as frequently. We do have high speed Internet, but only a single desk top, and I don't end up using it that much. I will post once or twice next week, so stay tuned for a humorous VBS update :)

We're also going to use the afternoons for fun diversions like taking Hank to a local amusement park and going on play dates. I'll be doing lots of cleaning and knitting. It should be very, very pleasant. Until next week!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Tudors, lots of knitting

Last night, Mike and I watched the second to last episode of season 2 of The Tudors. All I can say it, I'm glad I prepared myself a vodka & tonic before diving into that one. Not an easy viewing. Innocent people being tortured and executed is not my idea of a good time. I know it was over 500 years ago, but I can't help it, it still makes me incredibly angry. All of those people had to suffer because of one maniacal man. And that's the most charitable characterization I'm able to come up with in this particular instance.

I've found it interesting to learn a bit more about the Reformation. In England, even after splitting from the Church, Henry was still very attached to the liturgy and the Eucharist. Traditional Catholics were not on his good side - the derogatory term 'papist' is tossed about left and right - but yet reformers were also apt to be sentenced to death for any belief differing from Henry's in the traditional Mass as well. Rather baffling, but intriguing all the same.

We have episode 10 tonight, the finale, and I'm certain that we will see the demise of Anne Boleyn. I'm going to make another drink.

Other then that, it's been warm here, but we've been surviving. We go up to bed by 9 pm to revel in our window a/c unit. It hasn't been too bad. And I've happily gotten back into my knitting. I've resolved to make no afghans until the fall comes nearer, but I've been able to work on Mike's mittens and the smaller baby projects that are in my queue. My amigurumi bear is taking shape. He now has a head AND a nose! And his body is being formed as we speak. Little cutie. Hopefully, all will go well when I stuff him, embroider his face, and sew him together. I mean, it's imperative for a bear to have a cute face. Otherwise, what kind of life would that be for him?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

See how our garden grows

This year, we planted a modest garden, but more ambitious than last year wherein we planted 4 tomato plants and wound up with enough tomatoes to feed the neighborhood. This time we cordoned off a small section of our backyard and planted:

1 Beefsteak Tomato
2 Grape Tomato
1 Green Bell Pepper
3 Green Bean
3 Lettuce
3 Broccoli

I was all excited to see how we would do. While we were waiting patiently, I noticed that somebody with a cotton tail and a cute face was nibbling on our plants. Thus, we erected a rabbit fence, and now all is well.

Our tomatoes and peppers are either starting to come in or are at least blossoming. We've already harvested some green beans, and they were delicious. Score on that. We're not entirely sure what's happening with the broccoli, but we're keeping an eye on it. AND, the other day we harvested some lettuce. *stupendous* It is so, so good. We're big salad eaters. Next year we're talking about trying sweet banana peppers (Hank suggested those; he likes those at Nana's house), carrots, and snow peas. Now this is something about summer that I can get behind :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Belly dancing with props, and The Tudors turns on my water works...

Two totally divergent topics today, but I'm certain that my dear readers are very used to this :) We'll start with the uplifting first. I had dance class on Friday, and it was super fun and jam packed with exciting new choreography and costuming news. Now that the opening party has passed, I figured that Claire would begin introducing us to some new choreographies in preparation for the fall hafla. I wasn't disappointed.

A drum was mentioned, which always sets my heart aflutter. I love drum pieces, they are my absolute favorite. AND. A prop was brought out. We all practiced swinging one around. Yes, that's right. A belly dance cane! Thank God Claire has liability insurance.

Canes are a traditional belly dance prop (along with veils, swords, and wings. See why I love it so much?) and I've never used one before. I managed to swing one around without breaking a window or anybody's jaw, so that's a good first attempt, I'd say. We're going to be doing a group cane number! I took one home to practice and I'm all excited.

We're also going to be getting new group costumes. This time, we're each going to pick whatever costume we want from the designer Claire works with, just all in the same color. We can each pick whatever style we want. If someone prefers a gown, she can go that route, while another person may choose a traditional bra and belt set or a bra and skirt set. To say that I'm excited about this is a serious understatement. I've already ferreted out the designer, friended him on Facebook, and looked through every one of his photo albums. I can barely get any work done I'm so excited. They are SO PRETTY. Stay tuned on this one. Much beading talk will follow.

Ok, so that was the exciting start to my weekend. It was jam packed with outdoor activities and a birthday party for a little girl in Hank's class at a bounce house facility. Lots of fun. Last night, after putting an exhausted and bounced out Hank to bed, Mike and I settled in for our nightly installment of Showtime's The Tudors. Anybody else watch this?

We're about midway through Season 2. It's very well done. I will say that we do see more people naked than I believe is necessary, and as one would expect, it's quite violent. Overall though, it's extremely compelling.

As the show has moved along, from the plotted extraction of Katherine of Aragon, to the rise and precipitous fall of Anne Boleyn, I've followed along avidly, not able to look away from the intense drama. I think the show does an excellent job of showing how Henry becomes the monster that we all know and hate.

At first he was simply spoiled and used to getting his way. Then, he fell in obsessive lust with Anne Boleyn. And once again, he wanted to get his way, so he tried to seduce her and get her to do what he wanted. She wouldn't. So, what to do next? Try to manipulate the Church thus that Anne would marry him and then do what he wanted. They wouldn't. So he created his own power above the Church. This way, he'd get what he wanted. Suddenly...he has what he wants and its not all fun and rowdy good times like he'd hoped. Now he decides that he wants something different, and will you look at that? Since he's the ultimate authority over everything, *he* can just make it happen! Someone protests? To the Tower. More people protest. Executions abound. He starts to get nervous that his now coveted authoritarian power will be overthrown so he tries to control even the thoughts of his subjects. He makes them all swear to an oath that he is the supreme head of the Church in England, and that's where things get dicey...

Throughout the series, I fell in love with Bishop (ultimately Cardinal) John Fisher and Sir Thomas More. Adorable, the lot of them. I loved how Thomas More was portrayed as the family man that he was. I found it heartening to get a glimpse into the life of a future saint that was a husband and father, rather than a religious. Certainly, I admire our saints who were priests or religious brothers or sisters. It's just that there are so many less of them who had a vocation to married life that it was a fascinating inside look into a person called to the same vocation as me who became a saint. Good stuff.

And that John Fisher! I just smiled through every scene that he was in. He was portrayed as simply so kind, so eager and genuine in his faith, I couldn't help but adore him. Even Mike agreed that he was his favorite character. His arguments were always clear and well articulated, and he did the best job of showing the reasoning behind his beliefs and positions, which appealed to my husband the philosopher.

I knew it was coming. And it came last night. The little introduction screen with the episode synopsis on it had a screen shot of a roughed-up looking Thomas More standing on what appeared to be a scaffold. I sighed.

I tried to steel myself, but it was no use. When Cardinal Fisher is brought to the scaffold, and says his final speech, beseeching everyone to pray for the king, and to pray for him, as he fears death just as anyone would, I started crying. As the enormous crowd cries out "God Bless you, Cardinal Fisher!!! We love you!!" I started bawling. REALLY HARD. After that excruciating interlude, I just went and got the tissue box, because the episode was only half over.

Lots of horrible Tower scenes followed, with Thomas More's family crying and telling him to just take the oath so that he could live. And we all know how this one ends. With another painful scaffold scene, and me crying, again.

"Let it be known that I was the king's good servant. But I am God's first."

This got me to thinking. Cardinal Fisher's situation was different in that he was a celibate priest without a family depending on his care and income. In a sense, that makes it "easier" (if you will) to choose martyrdom. Thomas More had a wife and children. I did understand his wife's plea. He and everyone else would know that should he take the oath, he wouldn't mean it. He could go on believing in his heart that the king was a (fill in the blank; jerk-face? heretic? meglomaniac? The possibilities are endless). But she believed that he should take the oath anyway so that his family wouldn't suffer. They needed his emotional, financial and spiritual support. They wanted his love in physical form, not just from heaven. And should he be executed for treason (as he ultimately was) all of his income and properties would cede to the king, and his family would be homeless and penniless. But I also understood Thomas's position. He felt that it went against his conscience to swear to any such thing, and he couldn't live with himself if he did. What kind of example would he be to his children if he compromised on something so crucial?

So, contemplation time. What would you do? Stand up for your faith regardless of the consequences to your family? Or tell a white lie so that they are spared? It's interesting, is not? I believe we'd all like to think that we'd die for our faith. But this put it in a perspective I hadn't considered before. Thoughts?

Friday, July 16, 2010


It's been so hot here lately that I've finally adjusted to it, albeit reluctantly. One of the (many; I can't help it. It's not that I hate summer, but it's my least favorite of the 4 seasons. I'm a freak, I know) things that I dislike about summer is that I don't knit/crochet as much. I just hate sitting with yarn on my lap when I'm already feeling sticky. So, that makes me feel uninspired in the evenings when I usually knit. Lately, Mike and I have been watching The Tudors on DVD (Showtime series) and I haven't been knitting along while watching, like I usually would. Alas.

I am working (slowly) on a few baby projects that aren't big and heavy, so that helps. I'm excited about both, and I'll reveal them when I finish :)

I was at JoAnn's yesterday to pick up a picture frame for a new photograph I bought to put up in my office, and I noticed something right away: the autumn stuff is being dusted off and put out. I mean, autumn is my favorite season, so I don't mind seeing it, but really, it's JULY. I like to enjoy each thing that comes and not think ahead too much. I complained about this last fall too, I think. That the Halloween stuff will be out by early August, and by time Halloween actually comes, you're sick of it. It just waters everything down. And don't even get my started on Christmas. It's totally ridiculous.

So, even though summer isn't my favorite season, I try to enjoy the things about it that I do like. I like being outdoors more, swimming in my parent's pool, having cookouts. We enjoyed fresh green beans from our garden the other night. I like the ease of driving and walking with no snow to contend with. It's all good. As much as I love fall, I don't want to think about it until late August, when the evening air just starts to get the nip in it. You know? Makes it more special that way.

As soon as mid-August hits, I'll probably get started on some fall craft projects. Mittens and socks for Mike, blanket and possibly a hat for Henry. I've got several garments I'm working on for myself, God only knows when those will get done. Maybe next winter :) I also have a new hat in mind for myself, a capelet and wrap. And a plethora of my favorite item to crochet ever: AFGHANS. I do love me a warm afghan.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A book review: Rumspringa

Sr. Ann Marie asked me about how I liked Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish, by Tom Shachtman, so I thought I'd post a review :)

This is actually a re-read, since I read a public library copy about 2 years ago. I mentioned that I enjoyed it, and my friend Karen lent me her copy. I too am fascinated by the Amish, so I found it an intriguing read the first time around. In tandem, Mike and I also watched The Devil's Playground, the documentary that was filmed to correspond with this book. That I highly recommend. It was very good, and I believe it won some film awards when it first came out.

The book is a little bit of a different story. Like I mentioned, I loved it when I first read it. This time, I'm seeing some of its flaws a bit. I will say that the author did a lot of research for this book, and you'll find out a lot of solid factual information about Amish beliefs and how they came to be. And we all know that I love personal stories, and those are in here in abundance. What I don't like is how disorganized the book feels. The author divides the book into chapters covering different aspects of Amish belief. Fine. But he'll start out with a personal anecdote or two, then segue into the historical foundation of the particular belief, and go on about that for quite a while. Suddenly, we're back to personal stories. There are some characters that he comes back to repeatedly, but also others that he mentions only for one or two stories. There is a lot of jumping around, and forget about keeping track of who everyone is.

I think even the author recognizes this problem, because whenever he mentions a character that he is chronicling multiple times, he'll add a caveat, such as: "JoAnn Y., the young Amish girl that left the community, thought about being a fashion model, and is now attending a Baptist church..." so that we can re-familiarize ourselves with who the heck he's talking about. He also has this habit of using only the first initial of a person's last name, to keep them anonymous. It really gets on my nerves :) Just give her a pseudonym. Call her Sarah, or something. And don't give more than one person the same pseudonym. But I find all the "Marcia H. and her family, the H's, live on a farm in LeGrange County, Indiana. The H family has for generations..." very distracting. See what I mean? I'm sure there is a different way to write this that would avoid this problem.

So, overall, I do recommend this book as a fascinating read, but one that I caution is poorly written, at least in my opinion. The content is good, so if you're interested in the Amish, check it out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our friends, the Northern Cardinal

We've had some cute birds at our feeder lately. This time of the year, many chicks have been "fledged" from the nest, and are learning lifelong coping skills from their parents, to employ once fall arrives :) We have a family of Northern Cardinals that nest in a tree behind our yard that we enjoy year after year. And they stay all year; so even in the winter, when we put seed out, they come to eat.
I saw their fledglings last year, I believe in August, and by that time, they had all already gotten their adult plumage. The bird at left is a male. The females look completely different. They are buff colored, and have distinctive orange beaks. But they still have that tuft on their head, like all cardinals. Precious :)

So anyway, the other evening, I was cleaning up after dinner, and I hear a bunch of racket in our yard. Fledglings of all kinds are LOUD. They are very much like human children in this way :) They squawk up a storm, wanting their parents' attention and for them to feed them. So, I looked out, and what did I see?

I mean, did you ever? At first I thought it was a female, due to the lack of red feathers. So I ran to get my binoculars. Once my binoculars were trained on the scene, I noticed red feathers growing in on his belly. A baby boy! He was making a bunch of noise, and his father was rushing around, grabbing seed to pop in his mouth.

Suddenly, I heard more noise from the opposite direction. On the other side of the landscaping there was another fledgling, truculently making his presence known. This one too, was a growing boy. The father was racing between the two of them, trying to pacify them both. It was as if I could see a bubble over his head, that said "How on earth did I get stuck with afternoon duty all by myself?!"

The joys of parenting :)

Some new Henry gems...

Saxon, a little girl in his pre-k class, clearly has taken a liking to Hank.

"Mommy...Saxon *kissed* me. Does this mean we have to get mawied?"

"I twied to hide, but she kept finding me."

He has two upcoming birthday parties, both of which are for little girls in his class, and he's all excited due to the exotic locales: Chuck E Cheese and Bounce Magic.

"Mommy, we have to get Evelyn a nice pwesent. Like...a dolly, or a pwincess, or somefing you dwess up."

Aforementioned pictures...

So, I finally fetched the pictures, and they appear below :) I've been a busy librarian bee, working on my article, and big news...IT IS FINISHED! Well, I should say, a *draft* is finished, but still, I'm super happy and excited. Much editing will follow, but I'll be able to submit it to my targeted journal by the end of August, and for this I am most grateful.

Anyway, belly dancing pictures follow. They commemorate a very happy, and I'm already scheming to pick a song for my next solo at the fall hafla. *happy*

Monday, July 12, 2010

Introverts of the world UNITE

Ok. I'm back from my belly dancing intensive weekend, and ready to report in :) It was pretty surreal, and makes for some good blogging. So, settle in. This will be a long one.

Friday evening I had class, and even then I was pretty nervous. As soon as we warmed up, Claire had us go outside to get used to the space. Oh yeah, now would be a good time to mention that this shindig would take place outside. Right along Main St. As we quickly walked through our formations to assure that we were spaced properly, I noticed a few things.

(1) In every car that drove by, the people inside craned their heads to stare at us.

(2) Creepy men whistled at us.

Neither of these 2 things was making me feel any better about my decision to do a solo for this event. We scooted back inside and ran through our troupe numbers several times. By the time I was driving home, I was all hyped up on anxiety and adrenaline.

I got in the door and demanded to debut my solo for Mike. He looked amused and agreed. I got my costume on and tried out the jewelry that I planned to wear the next day as well. As I was trying to stab a dangly earring into my ear, I hear a knock on the bedroom door.

Mike: "Can I come in?"

CL: "NO."

Given that we've been married for nearly 6 years and Mike has seen me give birth, I think he was a bit perplexed by my answer. I demurely tucked my veil around me to act as a cover-up for my costume before letting him in.

Mike: *arches brow*

CL: "Well, I want it to be like a real performance. It's all a big surprise. *winning smile*"

I coaxed him back downstairs while I finished getting ready, and then set up my music. By time I was ready, I was sweating. This will be a theme throughout the weekend. You just wait and see. Even though Friday was less excruciating than the rest of the week, it was still pretty humid. Combine that with a heck of a lot of chiffon covering my body, and voila! Sweating.

So, Mike cues my music and I embark. I really wanted to do a performance-like experience for him since he would be staying home with Hank on Saturday (performance time is Hank's bedtime). It went well. I felt kinda stupid, but tried to smile anyway. At conclusion, Mike provided the expected husbandly accolades and applause. I still felt super nervous, and had to take an OTC sleeping aid to fall asleep that night.

Saturday dawned a bright and sunny day, and I tried not to let my anxiety get the better of me. I practiced a little bit in the morning, but I busied myself with housework and Hank to take my mind off things. I left the house around 5:30 pm with my costumes in tow, sweating. The day had gotten a bit warmer, displeasing the Catholic Librarian greatly.

I arrived at the studio to drama in action (and this happens a lot at just about every single dancing event. It's women, so you know, lots of hormones :) The Middle Eastern band had arrived and was setting up and practicing, and apparently someone had *already* called the police to complain that the music was too loud. Dancers in all different stages of costuming were incredulous and upset.*sighs* This didn't bode well.

I hung out with my classmates and got changed and waited, trying not to sweat too much. 7 pm neared, and our friends the police were back. They had received another call about the music being loud and were getting snippy. We live in a relatively small town - the police really don't have much else to *do*, unfortunately.

We were all a bit on edge and shedding sparkles. 7 o'clock came and Claire came to fetch the performance group to line up. We were on first, with 2 numbers done back-to-back. We got in our positions nervously and right off the bat, I could tell that our spacing was off a tad. The band had set up speakers near the dance floor, and a tent had been erected, so things were in a different order than when we practiced. We adjusted as best we could, having a whispered conversation amongst ourselves before the music started.

As we scooted around discreetly in our bare feet, the music started, and we all snapped our arms and hips to attention. Whatever space we were in would have to do. We start facing the back, and as we hip dropped our way around I saw the audience for the first time. There was my mom, who I knew was coming, and there... was Mike and Henry!!!!!

Mike was beaming, but Hank looked as though an evil sleep sorceress had just turned him to stone. He was so, so sleepy, poor baby. But I was SO happy that they surprised me and were there. This kicked in my smile reminder very easily. We danced to Zay el Hawa and Leylet Hob, 2 classical Egyptian numbers, the latter with a kicky alternative ending. I felt that the group numbers went well, and interestingly, whereas even the group numbers in the past have been enough to set my blood pressure soaring, I wasn't nearly as nervous about them this time around. Because I had THE SOLO looming ahead of me. *doomy music plays*

The only thing was...suddenly, it was hotter than Hades outside, and we were all sweating like farm animals in the barnyard. By the time we wrapped up Leylet Hob, my costume was completely gross. I had no idea how on earth I was ever going to manage to wrench it off my body, let alone do it in a two minute span, which is how long we had to change for the solos. And all of this, with the threat of the police storming in to break up the loud belly dancers, and we had the makings of a real human interest story.

We hurried off, and the mixed level class took the stage. I squeezed my way into the dressing room, and with the assistance of a few of my beloved classmates, managed to work myself into my solo costume. I slapped on another coat of lip stick, and it was going to have to do. I was covered with a thin sheen of sweat, and not exactly feeling at my cutest, but I didn't really have a choice. One of my more experienced classmates blessedly went first, so I hovered in the background, feeling quite ill.

I did my best to psych myself up. I mean, within minutes it would be MY TURN. It's sort of like when you're in labor and you get to the transition part - despite the escalation of the suck factor, there's no goin' back now. Lara finished, and I was up. I tried very hard to implement what Claire advised me - performing is very much like acting. You may not feel perky, but you have to act perky. If you looked worried, the audience will worry for you, and you really don't want that. You want them to relax and enjoy your dancing. I've always loved dance and watching dancers because, to me, dancing is creating art with your body. There is technique involved, but there is also simple presentation; showing your work to its utmost potential. That's what you are doing when you smile as you dance.

I unwrapped my veil, set it aside, and strode to the stage. I got in position and pasted on the beatific beam. I look out at the audience. Yep, they're still there. And...yep. They're all lookin' at me. This is pretty much my worst nightmare.

As I contemplate this, my music starts. I was dancing to Wuh Ya Booy, from Sabla Tolo III. I was mostly dreading those first couple of seconds. You're just starting your routine, at your utmost place of anxiety, and you have the whole number ahead of you. I completed my opening sequence and moved to my first saucy hip drop. So far so good. I had this running, hysterical conversation with myself going on in my head the entire time.

"Circles, left corner. Drop, drop, drop, drop. Hip circles, and then don't forget to lift the right hip in preparation for the pistons. Pisons, really make them count! Undulate up, shoulder shimmy, SMILE! Don't forget, you changed the next arms to right hand to head *feels sweaty hair* and left extended. Ok, good girl. Bicycle hips, SMILE! Change arms. Ok. What's next?"

What I really wanted was for *me* to feel like I had done my best. I know that with a solo, if you blank, you can just make something up. This is opposed to a group number, in which if you start doing something completely different from the rest of the group, it will appear that you (a) are lazy and haven't practiced, and/or (b) have been drinking. But I didn't want that. I wanted my first choreography to go off as planned, for me to have smiled and looked (somewhat) confident, and for me feel that I did my absolute best.

And I did. I really couldn't have asked for it to go better. The audience seemed attentive. Nobody fell asleep while I danced (except possibly Hank) or started up a conversation on their cell phone. I didn't trip, run headfirst into the speakers, or otherwise humiliate myself. I remembered all my steps and arms. And I smiled. Oh, and the police didn't come storming in and tackle me to the ground. So, that's good. A win-win.

I struck my final pose, curtsied, and hustled off. I could hear the band clapping for me as they prepared to start the live music, and I felt happy. SO HAPPY. I, voted shyest girl in my senior class 17 years ago, belly danced on Main St. during an event open to the general public. At age 35. And you know what? I loved it! I love to dance. I'm a decent dancer. And I put myself out there in a way that I never have before. Even in all my years of formative dance in tap and ballet, I never once did a solo. There is something so satisfying, especially for a person of a reserved nature who was never part of the "in crowd" in high school, about doing what I love as an adult. Nobody can tease me now and make me feel bad about myself unless I let them. I did something meaningful to me, and other people appreciated it. I had an adrenaline high as if I had just given birth. INTROVERT POWER.

As the band started playing, I ducked into the studio and laid down on the floor under the air conditioner for a full 2 minutes. Finally, I managed to get up and wrap myself back in my veil so that I could go watch Claire dance. I had to do the improv thing at the end, but by that point I was feeling no pain. I was happy. I did good.

So, how does this story end? We danced for a bit. Had some champagne and cake. At around 8:30, after the band came back from a break, the police saga finally came to an end. It was early, and the band was really, really trying to keep the music at a happy medium, but to no avail. The very cranky person had called the police to complain about the music, so the band had to pack up their equipment.
It was too bad, and I felt badly for Claire, who has worked so hard to build up her studio. She deserved one evening to celebrate it and enjoy it.

That little sideshow notwithstanding, I had a *great* time. It was a successful day for your Catholic Librarian. And yes... I do have pictures :) Or rather, my dad does, on his computer. He will be sending them to me, and I promise that I will post a few. I'm getting braver by the minute...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Big belly dance day tomorrow...

Well, tomorrow is what I've been practicing for for months now, the big opening party for my teacher's new studio. I'll be in 2 performance group numbers, my solo, and I also have to work with the rest of the advanced class to "get the social dancing started." I'm a little worried about what this entails, even more so than my solo, if that's at all possible. This will involve improv, and trying to convince random people to get up and dance. *sighs* This does not come naturally to me, and so will make me sweat buckets, but somehow I'll have to figure it out.

I have class tonight, and after that, I'm finally going to be debuting my solo for Mike at home, since the weather has FINALLY cooled down a tad, thanks be to God. I've been avoiding putting my costume on, since I don't want to get it all sweaty. Tonight should be better.

Wish me luck. *sweats* I will provide a full and detailed report on Monday, rest assured :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacation Bible School preparations...

Last night, I had my first foray into preparations for Vacation Bible School at our parish, and I'm super excited. I had missed one meeting previously that fell on the evening of Hank's pre-k graduation, so I was glad to be able to attend yesterday.

I arrived, real prompt-like, and wandered into the school. Sadly, our parish school has closed as of the end of this past academic year. It's been open since 1899 :( Tragic, really. But enrollment had dropped steadily until the parish simply couldn't sustain it anymore. The real problem is that there are 2 other parishes within spitting distance that also have thriving schools, as well as 2 others well within 7 miles or so in either direction. A lot of competition. But the school looked tremendously cute. I definitely would have looked into it for Hank had it stayed open.

Anyway, I get in, and unsurprisingly, as I mentioned yesterday, it was hot. There were a bunch of sweaty teenagers in the room fanning themselves. At first I was confused. *All* of these teenagers are volunteering to help out at Vacation Bible School? It seemed unlikely that so many of them were so eager about the whole thing. I quickly figured things out - they are all Catholic high school students needing community service hours and this is one of their projects. Ah ha.

So, the Director of Religious Education, Becky, materialized and gave us the scoop. The kids will be in attendance from 9 am til noon each day of the week in question, and they will do 5 specific activities each day. Music, Bible stories, crafts, skits, and games. One or more adults will be in charge of each activity, and the teenagers will assist in various ways. Some of them will be put in charge of groups of kids to shepherd them along to each of their activities. Each day a different theme would permeate the day's activities - the parable of the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, etc.

I waited while they went through the mechanics of the teenagers getting their community service credit, and the only other non-teenager there, a retired kindergarten teacher, and I remained to talk to Becky afterward. Before I could get a word in edgewise, the teacher scooped up being in charge of crafts, to which I narrowed my eyes in jealousy. But really, I'm not going to be teaching the kids how to knit, so why should it matter? I wasn't good at art in school, and nothing has changed now. Artistic ability simply eludes me. I waited anxiously for my assignment as Becky and the new craft lady went through each craft and discussed how many cotton balls they needed to make lambs, should they let the kids trace their own hands or pre-cut things? etc. All stuff I desperately wanted to be a part of, mew.

Finally, Becky got to me and asked if I would head up games. As long as I didn't have to do skits I was pretty happy, so I agreed. I asked her what kind of games the kids would be playing, and she launched into a description involving water balloons, lamb tossing, relays, stuff like that. It didn't sound too terrible. And I'm glad that I won't be heading up a group and hence with Hank the whole time. Hank tends to be a bit shy, and with kindergarten approaching, I want him to feel more comfortable without me. He tends to cling when I'm nearby, and I'm glad that he'll be able to socialize with some other adults and kids from our parish. I've always been shy, and I had a hard time with that in school. I don't want to see Hank suffer like that as well.

As we were walking from room to room, we asked Becky a few non-VBS questions, such as the circumstances surrounding the school closing. She remarked that everyone had a hard time with the school closing, and she feared that one of the other nearby Catholic schools was also on the chopping block. She did say that the CCD program is thriving, with four hundred kids enrolled each year. Our parish has a new youth minister, and he's become very popular with the older kids approaching confirmation. He's been very active with them, having them go on retreats and other group activities. This is a good thing. She did mention that so many kids are brought regularly to CCD by their parents to make their sacraments, but never attend Mass. This is so sad. But this was me when I was going through CCD.

CCD starts in first grade at our parish, and I mentioned that once Hank started, I'd like to teach a class. Becky's eyes lit up and immediately, she pounced:

"Really?! Are you afraid of the middle school kids? Because most people are, but that's the grades we always need teachers for."

Well, I kind of am :) My sister, Shauna'h, teaches CCD to 7th and 8th graders in her parish, so perhaps I'll solicit her advice. But to be honest, I was thinking more about the grade school aged children. I'm just so passive, I don't know how effective I'd be with the older kids. We'll see. That's not until next year anyway. I don't want to teach until Hank will also be attending at the same time. Our parish conducts CCD during the week, either Tuesdays or Thursdays (parent chooses which day they prefer) from 6:30-7:45. I don't want to be out of the house on an evening that I would miss Hank-time.

So, overall, it was very interesting. I'm going to be getting all my game specifics in the mail shortly. Becky mentioned that with the school closing, the religious education office is simply trying to keep the parish vibrant and active. We'll see how it goes. But I'm happy to be a part of it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


So, it's been a long heat-related week for your Catholic librarian. As I've mentioned many times on this blog, I don't like heat. I live in the Northeast, in an area known for its sheer volume of snowfall, and frankly, I like it that way. To each their own, right? :) I know that I'm in the minority on this, and most people do enjoy warmer weather, but strangely, I am defective in his heat-seeking gene.

Like many homes in this area of the country, our house does not have central air conditioning. This adds to my hatred of heat. Given that our house has steam heat in the form of a boiler with room radiators, rather than a furnace, the chances of my ever acquiring central a/c are slim to none. And most days, this really isn't an issue. The temperature rarely gets to 90 degrees around here, even in the hottest part of the summer.

However, when it does, the humidity in this area makes those sorts of temperatures incredibly uncomfortable. And in an un-airconditioned house, all I want to do is sit on my couch in my underwear and not move. Given that I have a 4 year old, that "not moving" part is a thing of magical dreams. Sort of like sleeping when you have a newborn.

This week, we've had a little heatwave, with temperatures hovering near 90. And the humidity? About 1,000% When I turned on the Weather Channel yesterday evening for the local forecast, that little monotone voice came on to describe the current conditions:


Yes, thank you for that. I wouldn't have realized that unless he'd said it. See how punchy I am? I have been reduced to practicing my dance solo in my office (door closed, of course) during lunch because trying to do so at home is excruciating. Running through the routine 3 times results in an immediate trip to the laundry basket with my clothes followed by a shower. YUCK.

And my car. *shudders* It's only for a few days. It's really not that bad. It's just that we're not equipped to deal with heat here. It's very comparable to a small smattering of snow in the South. Lack of proper equipment = total shutdown. It's just the way it goes.

I should have a couple of other fun posts this week. I have a meeting tonight about the Vacation Bible School coming up at our parish, and my big bellydance show is on Saturday. *gulps* "Nervous" doesn't even BEGIN to describe the level of anxiety I am feeling about this. Til tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting settled in...

I'm fresh from the holiday weekend (which involved being very hot and VERY sweaty, neither of which I'm a big fan of) and all excited to be in my new office :) I was sitting all alert, waiting for the moving crew at precisely 9 am. I didn't have that much stuff, really, but as soon as it was dumped off in the new space, I got right to work.

This how I am. I am, in a word, completely obnoxious about such things. Right away, I rearranged the furniture. No burly men are needed for this transaction, no sir. Nothing short of a couple hundred pounds of steel will stand in my way when I have this much adrenaline going. I got the book case and filing cabinet where I wanted them, and set right to work unpacking boxes. Involved in this process was the inevitable task if me obtaining and labeling file folders that I alphabetize and place neatly in the filing cabinet, never to be touched again. But it makes me feel good, so I do it anyway.

I now have everything unpacked and decorated, and I'm very happy with my new space :) I'm also exhausted. I exerted a lot of energy with that Type A burst this morning. More to come tomorrow...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Imminent visit of the Tooth Fairy...

*narrows eyes* I'm so, so unhappy about this. But Henry is excited.

"Mommy. Does the Tooth Fairy wear a dress? Does she fly, like up in the sky?"

"I don't know, Honey. I've never seen the Tooth Fairy. She keeps a pretty low profile."

Marriage musings and The Other Boleyn Girl

I finished the copy of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl that my sister Shauna'h lent to me last night. Very compelling book. I will grant, this is historical *fiction* and the author makes some assumptions that are necessarily back up by a lot of evidence. It does get a tad salacious at times, just fyi. Overall though, I couldn't put the book down. Which surprised me considering that we all know how this sad story ends.

What I didn't know, though, was a lot about Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary, who is the narrator of this story. So that was interesting. Plus, it was intriguing feeling as if you were getting an inside look into what went wrong with King Henry VIII and what led to Anne's downfall and demise.

I've always been fascinated by Anne Boleyn. I do think that she got on a bit of a power trip (although that was at least somewhat instigated by her family) in her quest to be Queen, and she has to take responsibility for that. However, that being said, she certainly didn't deserve what happened to her. And by all accounts, she was an intelligent, well-versed, devout and forthright woman who took her husband to task for thinking only of his own desires, all things that I admire. And very courageous in the face of an appalling end to her life.

I also enjoyed learning more about Katherine of Aragon, as I mentioned a few posts ago. A very devout Catholic woman who prayed daily and was committed to her marriage. And I enjoyed one sequence in the book that I thought I'd share, because it bears on a marriage in a way that I thought poignant.

The "trial" is underway to judge the validity of Henry and Katherine's marriage. As Katherine makes a public appeal that their marriage was valid from the start, Mary muses to herself:

"There was complete silence in the hall, everyone was listening to the queen. Henry, pressed against the back of his throne, was pale with embarrassment. He looked like a fat spoiled child confronted by an angel. I found that I was smiling at the sight of her. I found that I was grinning, though it was my family whose cause was sinking with every word she spoke. I was near to delighted laughter because Katherine of Aragon was speaking out for women of the country, for the good wives who should not be put aside just because their husbands had taken a fancy to another, for the women who walked the hard road between kitchen, bedroom, church and childbirth. For the women who deserved more than their husband's whim."

Last week, one of my Living Faith devotions touched on the same subject:

"A scribe approached and said to him, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Matthew 8:19

Marriage vows are often preserved on videotape, leaving a concrete reminder of one's promises. When those promises are broken through infidelity or some other failure, the video reminder must be heart-wrenching.

When we are young, we find it relatively easy to make sweeping promises, but as we age our initial enthusiasm over wanes and our commitments lose their appeal. We may discover that some of what we did in the name of Jesus was driven more by fear than faith.

We are in good company. After proclaiming his complete faithfulness, Peter failed miserably and experienced the kind of self-knowledge that purifies us of self-righteousness and reminds us that, as Dorothy Day said, 'all is grace.' Peter was transformed because grace and repentance came together to allow him to experience a love that was not conditional and a forgiveness that was not earned. May our wounds become a source of healing for others."

I found that all very touching. Things change the longer you are married, and although the initial "floaty" feelings don't remain, what comes in their place is so much deeper and richer. It's too bad when people (HENRY) choose not to see it this way. All very intriguing.

If Tudor history is interesting to you, and you're also a fan of racier romance :) I definitely recommend the book. I enjoyed it very much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What *is* THAT in my desk drawer?!

So, I'm moving. Offices, that is. For some time, the library that I work at has been changing. The arts/humanities and social sciences portion of the collection (which is my area of expertise) has shifted over to another library on campus, as have a number of librarians who formerly had their offices here with me. I remained for a time because I coordinate reference services in my current building. Finally, our supervisor asked my colleague Bridget and I to move over to the other building. We have very nice (bigger!) offices awaiting us, complete with windows! This is a gigantic upgrade for us :) Even the furniture is nicer. Instead of piling the articles I'm working with into small stacks that I place on the piddly space on my desktop, on the floor, and on my small side table where I also keep tea supplies, I'll now have a beautiful U-shaped desk with gorgeous free space all around. I also have a real bookcase (score!) and ACTUAL CHAIRS! Oh, it's so, so sweet.

All is well. Except for the part whereby I have to pack up my old office. *shudders* I've only been here full-time for, let's see...6 years. *feels old* In that time, I've accumulated a LOT of paper. I knew that would be a chore. Travel vouchers and paperwork from 4 years ago? Yep, have lots of that. Old resumes and cover letters. Why, God, why? Lesson plans dating back to the previous decade. *sighs*

So, I've been sorting and weeding, sorting and weeding. The biggest surprises came, however, when I opened drawers that haven't had their contents examined in quite some time. And here is where your Catholic Librarian is a bit eccentric. You'll see why in a moment. And TMI warning, just so you know :)

What was in the Catholic Librarian's desk drawers?

*drum roll*

First, I wanted to tackle some paper, so I headed to the file cabinet. I've barely opened this thing since I first started working here and I obnoxiously placed all kinds of labeled folders in there with useless pieces of paper in them. Found folders. Promptly recycled them. Oh, what's that, another drawer? What's in *there*? I don't think I've ever used this drawer...

Found office item #1 - Old shoes.

*eyes water* I needed the Febreze out after that little discovery. At some point, I put all these shoes in there thinking I could change into them as needed. Especially during the winter around here, I wear my boots in , so I do leave dress shoes here, but whoa baby. These were OLD. And CHEAP. And, well, they SMELLED. BAD. I immediately took them out to the garbage can and fumigated my office. Dodged a bullet there.

Then I moved over to my desk drawers. I do use these fairly frequently, except for that mysterious bottom drawer...

Found office item #2 - Old pregnancy test.

I do remember buying this to keep here, you know, *just in case*. You never know when the mood will strike you to do a little investigative work. It's expired, but I tossed it into the moving box anyway. I'm sure it still works, right? What could possibly 'expire' on there? I'll need it eventually :) But then I looked lower in the drawer...

Found office item #3 - *USED* pregnancy test.

Ok, I know what you're thinking. Oh, Tiffany, EW EW EW! Yes, it's true. I found out that precious Hank had been conceived while I was at work, and I didn't have the heart to throw the positive test away after that. And, ok, I'll fess up. What the heck, now that I've revealed all this other stuff, right? I didn't use just one pregnancy test. Type A, rampant paranoia, sound familiar anybody? Yes, I stocked up on like 6 different pregnancy tests, and all of them lingered, used, in the bottom of my desk drawer. PSYCHOTIC.

I made a compromise. I kept 2, and threw the rest away. 2 should be enough to remember the occasion by. Right?

So, now I'm just about done, and I feel good, except all dusty. I got rid of a bunch of junk and recycled lots of tired looking paper. Onward and upward to my cute new office...

New baby blanket...

This is my most recent baby blanket project - finished! Blankets always take SO much longer than I anticipate. This one is the first blanket that I've ever knitted. Usually I crochet blankets. The pattern came out of a book called Quick Knit Baby Afghans, and it called for 2 strands of sport weight baby yarn held together with size 15 needles. Despite all of this help, it still took a decently long time to complete :) But I'm happy with the results. It gets mailed off today, big yay! Now back to packing my office. More details to come in next blog post...