Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! And a short blogging hiatus...

I hope all of you have a very blessed and merry Christmas this year! It'll be a little chaotic in my household, but I'm looking forward to it all the same. And I'm very much looking forward to my week off with my family. Thus, I likely will not blog next week. I just want to spend time with Mike and the kids and focus my attention on them.

But rest assured, I'll be back on January 3rd! There will be lots of exciting news to blog about in 2012 I'm sure. Knitting, belly dancing, and lots of Catholic "stuff." I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too.

For your reading enjoyment, here are some posts from Christmases past:


2009 prep, and rundown

Crafting modest and feminine clothes...

I haven't bought myself clothes in a really long time. I was pregnant last year, so I did buy some maternity clothes, but everything I wore was either from my pregnancy with Henry or secondhand from the Goodwill. A few friends also lent me maternity clothes. So I haven't bought "regular" clothes in a while.

When I did do a little shopping right before I returned to work following my maternity leave, I was disappointed. Everything was so expensive, and it's not as if they were made out of quality materials. Things just cost more now, even polyester. :) I also had a hard time finding things that I liked 100% in terms of the style. I tend to prefer longer tunic style tops (I think they're more flattering on me), and we've had the skirt discussion before. Modesty issue aside, I just don't look good in knee length or above skirts. I do tend to find pants pretty easily, although the fact that mens' pants are made with waist and length measurements and womens' aren't is completely ridiculous to me. But anyway, a lot of the tops were longer but too low cut, or had a nice neckline but cut funny on the sides, etc.

So, this fall I finally finished up a sweater that I'd been knitting for quite a while. It hadn't taken me all *that* long I suppose, I had just put it aside for a long time. It's the sweater I'm wearing in the photo above. I really liked the neckline on it, and the waist taper, just a very feminine design, to me. And it's made from a wool/bamboo blend yarn. Very warm. It actually could use to be a hair smaller, but overall it fits pretty well and looks nice, especially for a first sweater.

So I've been thinking: maybe I'll start making myself more clothes. Granted, this would be a much faster process if I could actually *sew* clothing, but that's not happening right now, so knitting it is. It'll take me quite a while to amass any kind of wardrobe enhancement, but we'll get there.

I'm going to be making this sweater with a cute snowflake motif at the waist, and this one as well, I think in a deep purple that reminds me of Advent. All out of real wool or alpaca blends. And I can tweak them how I want too, make them longer, slimmer, etc. We'll see how it goes, and it may be 2 years before they're actually done, but I will persevere. :) I'm crocheting a pretty lacy cardigan-like item right now, in recycled cotton. (Mike: "You wear something under that, right?" "Um, YES, Honey." ":) ).

Relatedly, the cost of wool is on the rise, and prices are reflecting it. Despite Mike's alarm at glimpsing my yarn stash last night (it's not THAT large, just 2 plastic bins full :) ) I may buy the wool for these 2 sweaters before the upcoming price increase at Knit Picks. Why pay more later, right? I always like to have enough yarn and books on hand that if we're quarantined due to a nuclear disaster for a year or more, I won't be bored. I mean, it doesn't hurt just to be sure, right?


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Comfort and Joy

Last night when I got home from work, I was whipped. I was in good spirits, but absolutely exhausted. I was busy at work, since I'm going to be off all of next week...

...and before I go off on my home and family anecdotes, let me interject a quick librarian tale. When you're a reference librarian, you sit out at a desk in the middle of the library with an "information!" sign hanging above your head. Thus, you're a bit of a sitting duck for all sorts of interesting characters that happen into the building. I used to be more nervous about this when I was first starting out, but nowadays, I realize that this rarely happens (although annoying people are plentiful, scary ones are pretty rare) and so I don't sweat it anymore. But you're definitely putting yourself out there for some potentially awkward interactions.

And so yesterday. I was on the morning reference shift, and since exams are officially over for the fall semester, the library resembles a war torn region. It's quiet and eerily empty and stray trash abounds. And in comes this guy.

I remember This Guy. And so I immediately tense up.


"Yes, hello."


"To you as well."


*sighs* "Yes, Merry Christmas."

He beams at me and sits at a computer near the reference desk. Now, on the face of it, it looks like I'm being a real meanie, right? What is he doing wrong? Well, it's just that I like to think that as a woman I'm attuned to the people around me, and I hope it doesn't sound sexist, but particularly men. And I do not mean this in a romantic sense, but in a "protect myself" sense. It's not that I think that random men are hiding behind stray study cubicles just waiting to jump out and scare me, it's just a self preservation sense that I believe most women have. I tend to be overly naive and think that everyone is nice until proven otherwise, but I can spot a predator a mile away. And I have met several of them throughout my life. And This Guy isn't necessarily a predator, but there is definitely something off about the way he interacts with me. Well, mostly because the "interaction" is totally coerced. I know that I'm a librarian, I'm there to help people, and I'm sitting out there just waiting for someone to ask me a question. But my job is NOT to have personal conversations with you, especially if you are creepy. Unless you have a legitimate question, I'm not going to allow someone to make me uncomfortable. And that's what This Guy most certainly does.

So, I was sitting quietly at the desk, browsing some yarn online since no one needed my services for the moment, when suddenly, I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. This Guy is suddenly RIGHT.THERE. Over my shoulder, leaning down to my computer screen.


That did it. I certainly did not care that he saw that I was looking at yarn. We're permitted to look at non-work related information on the desk if no one is asking us for help at that moment. But This Guy was violating my personal space in a big way. And he was being loud and drawing the attention of the few people that were actually in the library. And I did NOT want to get drawn in to a personal conversation with him. I shouldn't have to do things that make me uncomfortable, and I've learned this librarian lesson: when you have someone that is lacking in appropriate social skills and is actually causing you discomfort, you have to move out of your comfort zone and be a bit forceful to get your point across. Otherwise, they'll never go away.

"I'm sorry, but don't you have your own work to do?"

See? Now I was even more uncomfortable, because I hate, hate, hate being rude to people. But this was not a normal situation. Something is definitely amiss here with This Guy.

"Oh. Sorry. Sometimes I have a hard time separating the personal from the professional."

Maybe he isn't as clueless as I first thought. But as my tone intended, he stepped away and back to his computer. Shortly after that, he left the library. And I didn't feel the least bit bad. You just have to look out for yourself sometimes. I've found that that little instinctive voice in my head is usually right. "Angel Tiffany" or whatever.

So, after my long day, I headed home. Anne is usually very grumpy by that point, and Hank is hyper. He's thriving in his new school, by the way. The Catholic stuff he brings home is totally adorable (he got an 'A' in religion in the first quarter :) ) and he seems to be loving all the extra attention he gets in such a smaller school. We're really liking the school, and it's looking likely that we'll be registering him to stay there for second grade.

When I get home, I'll take Anne from Mike, since he's put in a long day with her. He unpacks my work stuff for me, and dinner is usually just about ready. I'll nurse Anne and chat with Hank for a few minutes, and then we'll eat. Anne is eating solids now too, and she's very demanding about them. She even likes the pureed vegetables, and puts away an entire oversized jar every night. I think she's ready to move up to 2 solid meals per day, actually. I'll feed her at her high chair while the rest of us eat.

Our evenings are SO much better with Mike at home with the kids during the day. We're absolutely loving our new situation. We have less money coming in, but to say that it is worth it is the understatement of the century. We all couldn't be happier.

But they're still exhausting in the sense that Anne is now at That Age. You really can't put her down unless you can sit right there and play with her. Because the instant you put her down, you'll see her little pink clad butt crawling away to get into something you don't want her into. Or, in the evenings, you have option #2, which is that she begins to scream hysterically when you put her down because she's tired, needy and miserable.

So, we had a lot of that last night, and we had to take turns holding her while simultaneously trying to fold laundry, clean up the kitchen, and get the wrapping supplies out. Once both children were in bed, we wrapped madly for 30 minutes and got nearly everything wrapped. I still have some hand knits to block tonight (WILL THIS CHRISTMAS KNITTING TORTURE EVER END?!") and a few last minute gifts to pick up tomorrow, and then we're DONE.

Finally, we settle in to watch The Queen with drinks and my new non-Christmas crochet project (THE FREEDOM!). About an hour in, we hear Anne. Oh sigh. The nights have been tough lately, and last night was no exception. I gave it a few minutes to see if she'd go back to sleep on her own (ha!) and then I went up. I was pooped anyway, so I told Mike to go ahead and enjoy the movie, and I'd get her back to sleep and get ready for bed.

When I got into her room, what was she doing? Was she sitting there howling, like I said she doesn't do anymore? Actually no. She was STANDING UP and HOWLING. Fan-tastic. She's so short the top of her head doesn't even reach the edge of the crib rail, which is pretty funny. And boy is she cute. But I'll just say it: teething is a pain in the absolute ass.

I nursed her and got her back to sleep. And then commenced I think 4 additional wakings (including one in which I had to take her downstairs to calm her down a bit) before "morning," which this morning, Anne demanded be at 5:30 am.

So, here it is, not even noon, and I'm already tired. But once again, I'm in good spirits. I've been saying some prayers for Mike, because he's exhausted, he has an exhausted and miserable Anne on his hands, and Henry gets out of school today at 11 am. So, he's having a long day. But we're hanging in there just fine.

This Christmas, I'm very grateful for my family. And for my friends, especially my knitting girls, who mean so very much to me. I hope that you all were able to read this entire post and get to this happy declaration of love at the end. :)

Life is good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In a more Christmasy mood

Last night I was just exhausted. Probably because we've had a bad stretch of nights with Anne, who I think is getting more teeth (at least I hope that's the reason, because teething will eventually come to an end; if it's likely to be something else, please allow me to continue in my delusional state until further notice; many thanks). She's been up every 3-4 hours. Which, I know isn't *that* bad, it's just that we had gotten used to it being better. Isn't that always the way with children? Just when you think you've got a handle on everything...

At any rate, what I will say in the positive column is that when she does wake, we've got a slammin' system going. Mike gets up and changes her diaper (don't I have a wonderful husband?) and brings her to me in bed. Sometimes, like last night, each time he brings her to me she's wearing a new outfit. This means that either (a) pee or (b) poo had infiltrated the prior outfit. I lay her next to me and nurse her in the side lying position until she's full. Anne really isn't a "gentle" nurser. These days, I can tell she's tired when she's brought to our bed, but she doesn't just settle in and nurse calmly. There's lots of grabbing and pinching of skin going on. When she's done, she's good and sleepy, if still fidgety, so I pick her up and carry her back to her crib. When I put her down, she'll offer up a token objection, but lays right down and goes back to sleep. Watch, just because I wrote that, she'll sit up and howl now when I put her down starting tonight for the rest of ETERNITY.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights again, as was the one before, so I was pooped yesterday. I did get my gift sewing done, but I got no wrapping done. *panics*

But for whatever reason, this morning I feel better. I'm saying a St. Anne novena right now with my sister, so perhaps that has something to do with it. But I'm just feeling very happily Catholic today and looking forward to Christmas. After all, Christmas isn't about wrapping at all.

And I'll have close to 2 weeks home with my family over the holidays. The way the days fall this year works especially favorably with using my vacation days (depleted from my maternity leave) and so I'm getting a wonderful stretch off. We have plans to take the kids to the botanical gardens, Henry to a movie and to see some Christmas lights at a nearby Marian shrine. Lots of family togetherness. Life is good.

And speaking of good things, I posted yesterday that in 2012, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the "Lily of the Mohawks" will be canonized. Thus, I decided to make her my blog patron for next year, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A big day for Blessed Kateri!

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is a saint that is very special in my faith life and family. I just saw in my Facebook news feed that Pope Benedict XVI has approved a miracle to her intercession, and she will be canonized! I'm quite thrilled. This will mean so much to the Native American Catholic community.

Christmas is drawing near...

...and I just caught Anne this morning trying to climb the stairs. I just had to whine about that. We can all go back to our coffee now.

Anyway, I'm in the throes of finishing up my Christmas crafting and shopping. I really, *really* want both of them to be done, like, yesterday, but yet they persevere. That doesn't even get into the wrapping situation, which is abysmal. I have reduced myself to demanding pleading with Mike to combine our efforts and wrap together.


He has agreed, which has done little to reduce my panic, for whatever reason. I still have a few gifts to buy, and although the end of my Christmas knitting is within spitting distance, I have not yet reached the promised land. I'm still finishing up Mike's gifts, and I have to do a bit of sewing on a few others. The sewing should get done between today and tomorrow, and the wrapping will commence tonight after the kids are in bed. Mike's gift may not be completely done, but what can I do? Who says you need *2* socks anyway?!

As ever, I'm feeling anxious about hosting holiday meals, and chasing after the baby in larger family gatherings. But I'm going to try my best to just relax and enjoy everything. *snort!* It's our first Christmas with Anne, and that's special.

I'll try to keep the tornadoing down to an absolute minimum.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Wait, What on earth?!"

Yesterday, I was closed in our bedroom folding laundry with Anne. She really gets around these days with her little crab crawl, and so you really have to take precautions to prevent her escaping or otherwise getting into a life threatening situation.

I was watching Say Yes to the Dress as I folded, my favorite reality show guilty pleasure. As I bent to pick up an items, someone standing next to me handed me a shirt. Wait, WHAT?!

Yes, it was Anne, casually standing at the laundry basket, sorting clothes. Apparently she can pull herself up now. Which she then did with alarming regularity for the rest of the day, becoming better and better at it by the nanosecond.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas preparations winding down...sort of

My shopping isn't all done. My wrapping is nonexistent. And my knitting is still ongoing. But I persevere. Hope springs eternal.

Last night, as I feverishly worked on the second of my mother-in-law's socks while Mike and I watched tv, I came to a "funky spot." That's what happens when I've clearly done something wrong, but I can't figure out what. Being Type A, I absolutely hate when this happens.

I had this gap in the row below, and the stitches looked funny. My first thought was a dropped stitch, but nope. My count clearly showed that all stitches were accounted for and diligently looped up on my double pointed needles like good law-abiding citizens. I examined them carefully. Two of the stitches appeared to be in on the conspiracy, two purled ones in my knit 2 purl 2 rib for the cuff. Those purled stitches are always a little cagey, no? They always seem to be up to something. They just didn't look right.

Taking a deep breath, I got out my crochet hook and dropped those 2 stitches on purpose. I figured I could pick them back up, tighten them, and normalize them. Off they came.

Hum. They looked twisty or something. I painstakingly unraveled them one row so that I could rework them with my hook. Now they looked even weirder. The stitches themselves appeared rejuvenated by the introduction of some air into their lives, but the yarn that I pulled out was looped all funny.

I sat there frowning at it for a solid 5 minutes, and did try to pick them back up. Great, they looked even worse. I realized I was going to have to pull back a row or two. The thought of knitting backwards to get to that point gave me a headache, so I came up with the ingenious idea of taking my needles out (A MISTAKE!), pulling the rows back, and then trying to put the stitches all back onto the needles. It's the crocheter in me; when a mistake comes to the surface, the instinct to just pull, pull, pull bursts to the surface. That, and the vodka/Diet Coke that I'd just had.

So that's what I did, and please, please gentle reader, learn from my mistake. I got past the error, but then the ribbing was all in and outy and absolutely impossible to get back onto the needles. I sucked in a deep breath and resisted the urge to say a VERY bad word. Mike could sense my tension and tried to encourage me, but the deal was down. I had to frog.

As I stared at the pile of unraveled yarn (I had been nearly done with the cuff, probably 4 -5 inches of ribbing) I let my emotions come to the surface.

"I'm SO SICK of all of this Christmas knitting!! WHY did I do this to myself?! I haven't knit anything for myself in months, and I'm tired of knitting only because I have to! I hate this!"

There's the Christmas spirit for you. Mike fixed me another drink, and I gathered my wits enough to cast on again. I worked steadily until we were ready to go up to bed, and re-knit about quarter of what I had to pull out. This morning, I knit probably another quarter. Tonight, I should be able to catch up to where I was when the disaster occurred.

*narrows eyes resentfully*

Later, I realized what I'd done wrong - when I picked the sock up to work on it, I'd started working in the wrong direction. One would think that I'd be beyond such mistakes at this stage of my knitting career, but nope, a little humility is good for all of us, I suppose. And realizing that I could have just gone backwards for that 1 row and easily fixed the error only made me feel porkier.

Next year, I really hope that I've learned my lesson. Gift knitting is wonderful, and I know I'll continue to do it, but I *cannot* take on quite so much. Just a few knitted gifts per year.

Otherwise, it sucks the joy right out of the spirit of giving.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We lived through the concert, and Christmas knitting reaches a fevered pitch

We made it through the Christmas concert alive. We got both children to the church in one piece (Anne crying, Henry saying he was nervous). Anne flirted with the people in the pew behind us for a time, and then began fussing just as the concert was starting. After guzzling 4 ounces of pumped milk, she fussed some more before falling asleep. Hank went up for his big moment of glory, singing "Sweetly Slumber" with his class, which I have to admit, wasn't the best Christmas song I've ever heard. But certainly, the children singing it were adorable. Anne slept for the remainder of the concert, and Hank looked pink-cheeked. When we left, Hank felt relieved in the car while Anne howled all the way home. Mike got Hank into bed and I nursed Anne down. Thankfully, both went to sleep with a minimum of fuss.

After that, Mike and I both settled in happily with drinks to chat and watch some tv together. I pulled my latest gift sock out, and I could see Mike giving it the evil eye. I know that he teasingly thinks that my affections have transferred from their rightful place with him to my knitting.

"Oh, do you want to move down here..."


Which, you know, I am. But I compromised by working on my sock for a bit and then putting it away for some quality cuddling time. My husband is very cute.

Totally unrelated to the above, but it was on my mind (I do this a lot), I thought I'd write just a short spell on breastfeeding. Anne will be 7 months old on Sunday, and I haven't written about it in awhile, so I thought it would be worthwhile. We're still very much nursing. She does get 1 solid "meal" per day, since she was 5 months old or so. It's either a fruit or vegetable. And she likes them, for the most part. She nurses the rest of the time, or is fed pumped milk by her daddy during the day.

With Henry, I loved nursing. I never considered quitting prior to a year, and was happy to go to 18 months if he had kept going. He ended up weaning around 15 months. I was devastated when he did so. With Anne? It's a bit different. :) I do also love nursing her, but she's a LOT more difficult to nurse than her brother. Read: PAINFUL. I've had cracked and bleeding nipples with her, and soreness I never experienced with Henry. Her current thing is to push against me with her hand and pull in the opposite direction with her mouth as she nurses. As you can imagine, this is a great big OW. I feel like I'm wrestling with her a lot as she nurses. Although I enjoy the closeness I share with her, and I'll be honest, breastfeeding is actually *easier* than formula feeding since you don't have to mix anything (and you wash a lot less bottles), and certainly cheaper, I'm just not enjoying it the way I did last time. She's also still a spit up machine when she nurses, whereas when she takes a bottle, nary a bit of spittle in sight.

I set my original goal at 6 months, and we've surpassed that. My new goal is 8 months. I'll re-evaluate then. I'll go monthly at that point. But I can tell, I'm getting ready to wean her. Breastfeeding should be mutually desired, and right now, it's not so much a warm and fuzzy on my end. Pumping is also wearing thin. I have to pump twice a day at work, and it's a bit of a production. It's not terrible, and I would never consider not breastfeeding at all (no judging, I just want to breastfeed my babies for at least 6 months) but I'm ready to cut her loose.

She's terribly, terribly cute though.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O Christmas Tree! Hank's Christmas concert tonight

"Hank Honey, are you excited about your Christmas concert toni..."


Ok then.

"Why not, Honey?"

"I don't like the song we're singing." *scowl face*

"Well surely you're singing more than one song. Which one don't you like?"

*garbled answer involving the word "sleepy"*

"Oh, well what about the Christmas songs that you're singing?"

"That IS a Christmas song!"

Well. Whatever. Not sure what's going on there, but Henry definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Anne on the other hand, was all chirpy and happy this morning as she pooed right in the middle of my getting ready for work preparations. Now that she's eating solids, LOOK OUT! That significantly changes what comes out the other end. HOLY SMOKES.

Unfortunately, I don't anticipate that she'll be all smiles tonight during the concert. She gets miserable right around 6 pm when she gets tired, and I expect there will be lots of sobbing and pacing around the back of the church with her tonight.

Oh sigh.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The inevitable happened...

Anne is plunked in the middle of the living room floor playing as I knit (I'm trying to meet a deadline...) on the couch nearby.

Anne crawls to the coffee table.

Anne gets on her knees and tries to pull herself up into a standing position via the coffee table.

The Catholic Librarian sighs in distress. The remote controls are not going to be safe for long.

"What are you doing over there? Wait, Anne, no..."


Anne surveys foam corner protector, previously held in place with double-sided tape, and holds it aloft in her chubby fist, triumphantly.

Corner protector is stuffed unceremoniously into her mouth.

When corner protector is taken away from her, she moves onto biting the edge of the table itself.

Oh sigh.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are partially completed mittens reproducing in my knitting bag?

This lovely feast of the Immaculate Conception I'm pondering more than ever the approach of Christmas. I went to Mass this morning at my parish which is just the perfect way to start the day.

I've been all worry-warty about finishing up my shopping, since I've really barely begun. We can only buy so much per pay period, so that has limited me. But my knitted items (the list that was modified when reality kicked in, that is) are going well and are nearly complete. I'm finishing up a pair of mittens right now, and I have 2 partially completed pairs of socks after that. Oh sigh. That that IS doable, as opposed to my original list.

I still have so much other gift selecting to do though, and for the first time ever, the thought of going to the stores right now totally turns me off. There are just cars and people *everywhere* and I quickly feel flustered and grumpy. Not exactly the Christmas spirit I was looking for. Today, I was able to use some promotion codes and order some items online with free shipping. I was happy about that since the reason I often avoid online shopping is because I loathe paying for shipping. But there's still a lot to do. Not to mention preparing for hosting Christmas dinner. That will involve lots of the patented Tiffany Tornadoing.

But tomorrow! Oh, sweet, sweet tomorrow. I'm taking the entire day off tomorrow to meet with my beloved friend Karen from my knitting group who moved away for a (albeit wonderful) job and left us utterly bereft without her. She's coming to town, and the entire knitting group is getting together for a knitting extravaganza involving mimosas, knitting, lunch, a gift exchange, and much chatting. I'm SUPER EXCITED.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No, we don't have a dog...

...and *obviously* children are very different from dogs. But my family always had a dog when I was growing up, and I can't help but be amused by the similarities that present themselves at times.

"No Honey, don't eat the garbage!"

"Anne, I really think it's a bad idea for you to crawl under my chair like that..." *thwack* "WAHHHHHHHHHH!"

"If you're going to act like that on the couch, you're going to have to sit on the floor!"

"Uh oh, what's that smell? Oh God, what's that *on the floor*?!"

"Anne spit up, let me wipe...No, no, don't play in it!!"

"Anne, no, let me have that. No, NO, that can't go in your mouth..."

And my personal favorite:

"It's too quiet in here, what on earth are they up to?!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I have a really, *really* good husband

The other day, I was feeling flustered at home, trying to get a bunch of cleaning chores done while also managing child demands. I went upstairs for something, and suddenly I hear the vacuum cleaner running. It was Mike, vacuuming the entire downstairs. And I wondered to myself where Anne was, because last I saw her, she was plunked in the middle of the kitchen floor, itching to be on the move at any given second. So I hurry downstairs, to make sure she hadn't gotten into anything.

No Anne in the kitchen. I quickly check the adjacent dining room and living room. No Anne. Mike's current vacuuming is in the downstairs guest room/office, so I rush in there. And there he is, carefully moving the vacuum cleaner across the rug in there with one hand, Anne tucked onto his hip with the other, her cherubic-like cheeks on full chub mode, eyes wide as saucers.

It made me think of a commercial I saw once featuring a NASCAR driver, in which a woman falls asleep exhausted from her household responsibilities, and dreams about what she would do with her favorite driver. And what she dreams about is him cooking dinner, washing her car, and vacuuming the carpet with a melting down toddler stowed away under his arm. It always made me smile, as did the scene I walked in on in our guest room.

These are the things that make for a strong marriage. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dream Tiffany can't add...

Last night Anne was up every 2-3 hours. ! I know, not pleasant. But she has 2 new baby teeth to show for it. Mike and I have been taking turns settling her down by snuggling on the couch, and last night was Mike's turn. So, around 4 am, I was all alone in our bed and actually fell into a light sleep...

Whereupon I had a dream that I remember. This doesn't happen all that often, although it does happen more now than before I had kids (that "light sleep" thing). And in the dream, I was pregnant. Given that I have a 6 month old, this dream does fall just a hair into the scary category. So, I was pregnant, and I found out that I was having a boy, although Mike didn't know and I didn't want him to find out since he likes to be surprised. This is all very normal in dream world apparently.

Anyway, in the dream world, Dream Tiffany knew that she already had 2 children, a boy and a girl, just like in real life. And the boy was Henry. Yet Anne was nowhere to be found, and I had this mysterious second male child named Elijah. And I was heavily pregnant with this new baby boy. So...that's actually *4* children, no? But yet I kept calling the baby I was carrying "my third."

And in the dream, we were real happy about the baby (of course) but still a tad nervous since we hadn't really expected to have a "third." Perhaps Dream Tiffany and Dream Mike were having difficulties because they can't perform simple math? We obviously couldn't keep track of how many children we actually had. So maybe "peak day plus 3" was just too much for them and that's how they wound up in this predicament.

Who knows? Anyway, I told Mike about the dream later, and his eyes widened considerably at the mention of pregnant Dream Tiffany. Luckily, in real life, we can both add, so I think we're good.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Off to an action-packed Advent

One of the things that I love about having Henry in a Catholic school is what he came home with yesterday. A giant chain of construction paper rings, a little single decade rosary, a sheet of prayers with a calendar, and some explanatory paperwork. For an Advent project, we're supposed to hang up his chain, and each night remove one of them counting down to Christmas, while saying the enclosed prayers. Each day, Hank is to color in the appropriate square on the calendar showing that we said the prayers and kept up with the Advent chain. It's very cute.

We've also put out his much beloved chocolate Advent calendar, as well as our wood one. I'm still struggling with the ill-fitting candles in our Advent wreath, mew. I'm going to head to the Catholic store with Hank tomorrow to get some replacement candles. I read a trick online about softening the wax at the bottom of the candle to fit the taper more properly into the holder securely. We'll see how that goes.

Hank is very chagrined about the fact that a very mobile Anne has taken a real shine to his Fisher Price nativity set, which he looks forward to putting out every year. There are lots of teary incidents in which Anne crab crawls over and immediately stuffs a shepherd into her mouth. Wise men go flying, lambs are everywhere, and Hank is scandalized. We don't have a lot of other location options for the nativity, so it either has to stay there or get put away. He's really good about sharing usually, but his nativity set is apparently sacred.

Well, in another Christmas tradition, I think I'm going to splurge and go to Starbucks for some sort of overpriced holiday-themed beverage. I don't usually pay $5 for what is essentially flavored coffee, but on chilly, snowy days like today, with a manuscript to read and write a review of, I think it's in order.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aging reference librarian on the loose

The other day I was on the reference desk for a busy afternoon shift. I'm usually on in the mornings, when it is very quiet, so I suppose I'm often shielded from interactions like the following which are, quite frankly, annoying.

I don't like to be annoyed easily. It makes me feel old. I live in fear of becoming crotchedy. Curmudgeonly, even. I don't want to become all decrepit and frown-faced while using words like "newfangled" and "whippersnapper." I like to be seen of as kind and nice, and you know, sweet and helpful. But sometimes, it's tough.

While on the desk on the day in question, a student approaches.

"Hi. I have a paper due tonight..."

...let me interject here that it was approximately 4:30 pm. Ok, we continue...

"...and I just don't understand what my teacher wants. Can you look at my assignment?"

Now, this is becoming a disturbing trend. I mean, what do you all think that librarians do? I think they help others find information. I do not think that they can channel instructors and read their minds to figure out what they want. And for some reason, more and more students *really* think that librarians have these powers.

"I think you should ask your instructor personally. I won't be able to interpret the assignment any better than you could yourself."

*distinctive whine tone inserted into already attitudey voice* "Well, I just don't know what the heck she wants, and I just really feel it's unfair. I've already talked to her and she isn't helpful. I really want you to look at it."

I was already feeling annoyed by this student's attitude, but one of my colleagues was on the desk with me, and I really didn't want *her* to think that I'm crotchedy. So I agreed.

I expected him to pull his syllabus out of his backpack. Oh no, old fogey one. He slaps his laptop down onto the reference desk and opens up an email to show me.

I had to smirk to myself at the fact that the email was from his instructor, and based on what I was reading, she too was annoyed by this student's attitude. The message stated that she expected him to act like a college student, do actual work, and follow directions. That she expected him to review the relevant literature and cite it in his paper. Let's be curmudgeons together, you and I...

I cleared my throat and told him that it looked like he needed to find some sources.

"I HAVE. I have these books here. But I haven't read them, I mean, I DON'T HAVE TIME."

Well, yes. That's because it's now 7 hours before your paper is due. Did you just find out about the assignment now? No, I didn't think so. That's what I was thinking, although that's not what I said. That crotchedy thing again.

"Well, you can skim the table of contents and the index to find the relevant parts, and just read those. We can also look for articles, and those have the benefit of being shorter."

"Ok, but again, I don't understand what she's looking for. I mean, she says we have to do "research." But I don't understand what the heck does she wants. I don't have time for this!"

By this point, I was really wanting to give this guy the boot. His whole demeanor and what he was saying conveyed that he considered this a gigantic inconvenience. I mean, imagine that, his instructor actually expecting him to WRITE A PAPER and READ LITERATURE IN HIS FIELD in order to earn his degree! The INHUMANITY!

It's this sense of entitlement that really turns me off to some of our students here. They seem to think that if they are breathing and show up to class 50% of the time, they're entitled to get a degree when they've done this for 4 years. Not so, my friend. And I too procrastinated when writing papers in college, I'm very familiar with this quandary. But I TOOK RESPONSIBILITY for my poor time management skills, and stayed up until my paper was done. It was NOBODY'S FAULT BUT MY OWN that I CHOSE to wait until the last minute.

I see that I'm using caps a lot in this post. It's because my eyebrows are furrowed so tightly together right now recounting all of this.

I finally sent him away unhappily to a nearby computer to get started skimming his sources and writing. Before him, I had a very nice, but *very needy* guy who came to the reference desk no less than 4 times asking for help with his World Civilizations paper. He kept asking me if I thought his topic was ok. I can't tell him that, he simply HAS to speak with his instructor about the parameters of the assignment. He wanted me to tell him *what he should write in the introduction to his paper* and he didn't know how to navigate the Library of Congress call number system. The latter part I still find somewhat shocking (for native U.S. students, which he clearly was) but I try to be understanding that maybe their high school library failed them. But writing a paper? Yes, college is the place to fine tune that, but the librarian can't help you, sir. GO TO THE WRITING CENTER. He was very sweet, so I helped him readily, but it just saddens me to see the state that our incoming students have deteriorated to. They *really* want someone else to do their work for them, in many cases.

By the time my shift was done, I was dying to go home and have a glass of wine. When I was in elementary school, we all learned how to use the big card catalogs by our scary librarian. AND how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System. Henry actually knows how to use a library better than some of the students I see here. UGH.

But I don't want to be the next scary librarian, so I'll try to put on my smiley face again. And act younger.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm dreaming, and a baby is crying. Oh, oh wait...

Last night was one of those nights. We had barely fallen asleep, and I stumble up, expecting it to be at least 2 am, and the clock tells me that it's 10:30 pm. I do not believe aforementioned clock. But yes, it is true. Anne is awake. Not only that, but after waiting a few minutes to see if she'll go back to sleep (ha!), I go in to find her *sitting up* in her crib, howling. She's so happy to see me that she tries to *stand up* to greet me. Fan-tastic.

And after that, we're woken again, and another nursing session commences. On the third go-round, I gave up and took her downstairs to snuggle on the sofa and watch the season finale of Sisters Wives on demand. I don't approve of Sister Wives, but what can I say? I can't look away. Plus, it was the season finale and a new baby was being born. I cried. Because I always do when babies are born, even when they're not mine.

After Sister Wives, I put a sleeping Anne back in her crib, and then guess what? I couldn't fall asleep, even though she was sleeping. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

Then, naturally, come 6:30 am, I was dead to the world when I felt Mike get out of bed. When I saw the clock, it and I had yet another disagreement. I laid there until 6:45, when I forced myself to drag my body out of bed. It was tough, but I managed to make myself LOOK ALIVE with some creative makeup and hair combing. I did feel better once I got down for breakfast.

And these days, holy smokes. Anne is into E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Put her on the floor. Does she play with her carefully arranged and safe infant toys that are well within her grasp? Oh no. Her sight is set on any number of other destinations.

The fireplace!

Electrical wires!

DVD case!

Nativity figurines!

So we're now in THAT PLACE. Wherein your butt cannot touch the couch before one of us has to leap up to save her from some approaching calamity of her own devising. And it'll only get worse once she can pull herself up and reach tabletop surfaces.

Oh dear.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peace be with you...

And with your spirit. :)

So, back from my first Sunday of Advent initiation into the new translation of the Roman Missal, I have positive feedback to add. I was all excited to go to Mass yesterday, and I wasn't

Overall, I really like the new translation. It's definitely off-putting to have to get used to something new, even our priest looked out of sorts. And the congregation responses aren't going to be unified for quiute awhile as everyone adjusts. But I love the new wording in the
Penitential Rite, in the Nicene Creed, and in the Eucharistic prayers. I'm having a doozy of a time with the replacement for "and also with you." I got that wrong yesterday twice despite my conscious telling of myself to look out for it. That one just doesn't roll off the tongue for me.

But otherwise, all is well. Query though: we used Eucharistic prayer #3 yesterday. The new wording says that Jesus died "for you and for many" rather than "for you and for all." Anybody have any insight into the background of this change?

In terms of the Eucharistic prayers, it's a bit confusing in my little St. Joseph Sunday Missal. Many of the prayers now start with the same few words, so the little referral key that the missal provides isn't as helpful as it used to be. And I'm Type A enough that I like to follow
right along. We'll get there.

I asked my mom how she liked it, and I wasn't surprised when she answered that she didn't like it. :) She grew up with the Latin Mass, and this change feels especially awkward to her since she'd prefer that the Church just go back to Latin. Now me, I actually don't love the old Latin Mass. I find it reverent and beautiful, certainly, and I'm so happy that it's offered so much more now for those that treasure it. But I have a hard time following along, and I don't feel as "included," if that makes any sense. To each his own. The new Mass feels more participatory to me, and I enjoy that. And I think the new translation feels more eloquent. I'm happy.

Now I have to remedy my very poor Advent candle situation. My taper holders are failing miserably and I'm trying to come up with an alternate solution, since I love my wreath. But the old holders actually broke my candles, and now I need new ones, and we couldn't light the first candle yesterday. NOT a very happy Catholic Librarian. I'm thinking of just procuring some votive holders and trying to find Advent votives. Feeling porky about the whole thing.

Anyway, how did everyone else like the new translation?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shopping will abound

We're hosting our parents for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so naturally I'll be doing lots of tornadoing around and obsessively cleaning and drinking wine. You know, the usual. I do love Thanksgiving. It's just such a warm and cozy kind of day. And I always take off the day after Thanksgiving. I usually lose my mind and meet my mom out to do a little shopping. I don't really need anything on Black Friday, but the experience (with a companion) can be kind of fun.

There is one place, however, that I will not go. And that is THE PLAZA. We have a shopping plaza near here that has grown exponentially in the past 5 years. Every time you turn around, a new popular store has been added into the configuration. Yet the parking lot remains the same size, kwim?

2 weeks ago, I left work early since I had some comp. time coming to me, so that I could run errands before heading home. So it was about 3 pm. And I wanted to stop at AC Moore to return something (Holiday Homespun yarn is gorgeous, but I cannot crochet with that stuff if you put a gun to my head; it's difficult to make anything when you literally cannot see the stitches you allegedly just made). As I neared THE PLAZA I noted the long traffic lines, but I figured things would clear by time I finished at AC Moore. Oh, silly, silly me.

I return the yarn, poke around for a bit (naturally) and then head to my car. It was just rainy and miserable and I was anxious to get home to Mike and my babies. I pull out of my parking space and toward the nearest exit. Oh dear. There appear to be about *30 cars* also trying to make left turns out of that exit as well. And I can see that the street onto which they hope to turn is also clogged up and the going is slow for those trying to add themselves into the line. I swivel and try the exit at the back, thinking I'll get to the back of that line of cars snaking toward the traffic light. Oh dear. The line of cars on the street snakes all the way past this exit as well, AND there are 20 additional cars trying to make lefts into it.

I say a bad word, and make my way toward yet a third exit out onto the main thoroughfare, accepting that it will simply take a few extra minutes to get out onto the street. There commences *20 minutes* of waiting in this line, since new cars are appearing at every nook and cranny trying to edge their way into the line, AND the cars out on the main road are all clogged up by non-synched red lights so maybe 2 cars are able to get out onto the road with every green light. I literally couldn't get out of that *insert bad word* parking lot.

I say another bad word. At one point, as I innocently drive straight in my line, a giant pickup truck appears from a side nook and tries to barrel through the line, nearly hitting me. I felt so shaken after that, I determined to go right home, instead of stopping off for my last errand. And I swore that I would NEVER GO TO THAT PLAZA AGAIN until after the holidays. And I mean it. I won't go back until January. I don't care how good a sale Target is having, I'd rather eat nails than go back there. They could give away free money for all I care. It's simply not worth it.

So therefore I'll be avoiding THAT PLAZA on Friday. But I'll probably end up meeting my mom at the crazy mall for lunch and a few stores. Because it's just not Black Friday for her unless we wait in line for 2 hours to eat at the Cheesecake Factory.

BUT. The really good news is that Knit Picks is having a Cyber Monday sale. OH.BABY. It starts at 9 am EST, so I'll have my tea at my work computer and will be obsessively reloading their page until the sale yarn comes up. Because I *need* more yarn, right? If it's on sale, it doesn't count. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I'll be on a blogging break until aforementioned Cyber Monday, so have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's new with Anne?

Anne is so cute these days it hurts just to look at her. Her new feats include:

(1) Raking. You know how babies do, with their fingers, to feel textures? It's adorable. Unfortunately, she disturbed my drying pile of freshly blocked hand knits the other day doing this, but she looked so proud of herself, how could I begrudge her?

(2) Crawling. Sigh, yes. She really gets around now. And where does she head first? That's right, the electronic equipment. Has this been bred in via evolution? It seems that every human baby, upon gaining mobility, will immediately set upon trying to stick their fingers in the DVD player and press buttons on the stereo. And the DVD cases, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. These, and books. When set down on the floor, all babies will immediately take off for these destinations and thereupon delight in plucking the items off the low shelves and tossing them about gleefully.

(3) Separation anxiety. If you set her down and leave the room for a moment, an immediate bursting into tears can be heard. "Why did you leave me, you're gone!" The instant you reappear, a big smile comes up, along with a squeal. "You're back, I'm SO HAPPY!" It's precious.

When she woke up in her crib this morning, I couldn't wait to pick her up and kiss her face. That warm morning snuggle is always the absolute best, no? Unfortunately, she had managed to spring lose of one diaper fastener, so she had peed all over herself and her crib sheet, but no matter.

I just adore her so.

Feast of Christ the King

At Mass on Sunday, I realized that that would be the last time I ever heard the liturgy in the only translation I've ever known. I learned all the prayers and responses in the Mass when I made my first communion, back in second grade. I've had it memorized ever since. I have to admit that I am a tad anxious about things changing, about feeling like a "visitor" to the liturgy (sort of like when I once attended Mass in the extraordinary form :) ). Being a lifelong Catholic, that does have a disconcerting feel to it.

Our parish has been slowly incorporating in the new music, and I recently purchased a new missal that has all of the new responses in it. So I'll be well armed on the First Sunday of Advent. I guess I'm a tad excited too, to have something "fresh" in our liturgy, and I've been enjoying reading the articles in the newspaper about the coming changes. (we live in a very Catholic area; this actually is big news here. :) ).

So we'll see how it goes. I've been encouraged by what I've heard on my Catholic podcasts and other Catholic reading about the translation being a closer pairing with the original Latin, and closer to Scripture. Good stuff.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wait, did I just see that?

Anne is going through a "phase" these days, which can be translated into "She's Stuffy and Miserable and Sleeps Like Garbage." Hence, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, she and I were downstairs trying to get comfortable on the couch. When she's stuffy, it seems to aid her when she can sleep inclined but still on her belly, so Mike and I take turns lying on the overstuffed arm of our sofa with her on our chest. I always put the tv on since the light seems to soothe her. And I almost always turn to the schlocky Christmas movies currently airing 24/7 on the Hallmark Channel.

On Saturday, I was trying to doze while Anne seemed determined to elbow me in the chest in her quest to get comfortable, so I wasn't exactly going off to dreamland as quickly as I'd been hoping. Suddenly, what I always hope for in the middle of the night happened:

I saw what has to be the funniest infomercial I've ever seen.

EVER. This is epic, people.

Because, you know. I've already seen infomerials for Pajama Jeans and the Eggie.

As I watch wide-eyed, with much incredulity, I see that there is a new product on the market called "Forever Lazy." It appears to be a giant fleece sleeper, minus the attached footies, for adults.

And as with all of these sorts of infomerials, we're first presented with these ridiculous scenarios in which people struggle mightily with everyday tasks that don't present much difficulty for regular folk. In this case, placing a blanket over your legs.

"Are you tired of wrestling with blankets to try and get warm?!"

Well, if my crocheted throw ever tries to "wrestle" with me, then yes, I will be deeply disturbed.

"If so, then Forever Lazy is just right for you!!"

We're then brought into the lives of our sleeper wearing friends as they study for exams with classmates, relax with their spouse on a cold winters night, even have cocktails with their neighbors out on the back deck, all while each of them wears this oversized fleece jumper with arms.

"you just zip yourself right into warmth, so that you can BE LAZY!"

Do we really want to encourage BEING LAZY as a characteristic so revered that we name clothes after it?

But WAIT. The best is yet to come. Given that our fleecey buddies are consuming so much liquid while wearing their Forever Lazies (by the time I later found this on You Tube to show Mike, we were HOWLING with laughter watching people *tailgate* in these things) the inevitable call of nature surfaces.

"Uh oh, gotta go? Forever Lazy has zippered hatches in both the front..."

Oh God, no. Please don't let them...

"...and the BACK!"


Yes.They.Did. THEY TOTALLY WENT THERE. This thing actually has...*hatches* for your, ah hem, private parts, so that you can use the facilities without having to take off your lazy suit. The guy in the commercial actually unzips his so that we can see the side of his underwear to demonstrate.

I mean, ok. Seriously. A butt hatch. Have we really sunk that low as a society? In which pulling down our pants is just too much work?

My eyes were open as wide as my mouth by the time the infomercial wrapped up.

"All yours for just $19.95! And if you call now, we'll throw in a companion pair of fleece footies!"

At first, when I later awoke, I thought maybe I had dreamt the whole thing. You Tube to the rescue. Nope, it's real.

Now, I'm all for wearing your pj's all day when you're sick or have a newborn, or have recently had surgery. Or maybe you just want to spend a Sunday morning relaxing with your coffee. I totally understand this. But if I ever answer the door because *I'm having a party* wearing a fleece one-piece suit with a drawstring hood, somebody please, for the love of all that is holy, just shoot me.

Because that would mean that I've officially given up on ever hoping to look attractive Ever.Again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My baby is 6 months old today

She's crawling and into everything, including my knitting bag (future knitter?) She's drooling and biting on anything that she can get into her mouth. She's also *extremely* adorable and I'm so glad that we have her.

The other day I took out these "corner guards" that I had bought for our coffee table, given that Anne is now so mobile. Our coffee table is deadly. I mean, *we* hurt ourselves on it on a regular basis, and I didn't want Anne's delicate little head to be added to the list of casualties. What I learned though was that aforementioned corner guards are simply pointy pieces of foam that stick to the table with double sided tape.

"those are the corner guards?" I can tell already that my husband is dubious about the effectiveness of my new safety tool.

"yeah, she can't hit her head this way. I just wish they stuck better." *presses on them* "I mean, as long as she doesn't pull them off and try to put them in her mouth they should be fine."

"how can you possibly think that won't happen?"

*sighs* He's totally right, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas knitting update

At one point I posted on here about how many Christmas gifts I hoped to knit or crochet this year, and how many I'd actually completed so far. I'm repressing the number, but it was fairly insane ambitious. I think it was about 20 items. I've actually finished a bunch of projects lately, so I thought I'd count up how many I have completed in total.

7. *sigh*

Gosh, it *seemed* like so many more! Being realistic, what I really want to complete are 6 more things. Well, even that seems ridiculous now that I look at it. I have 1 item on the needles and more than half completed at home. I have 2 pairs of socks on needles in my work knitting bag. Those things should certainly get done. Well, at least 1 of those pairs of socks will get done, and the item at home. After that, I really should be able to knit 1-2 additional items prior to Christmas. The other stuff will have to go for birthday gifts next year.


I don't like to not meet my goals, but I only have 2 hands I suppose. Perhaps I can outsource some of this knitting? I have a knitting group member without a current project that I may be able to bribe.

And I have a bunch of things queued up for myself that I'm *dying* to start in on, but I'm depriving myself until after my holiday knitting for others is done.


Oh well, I'll get to it eventually. Christmas is coming up with an almost disturbing rapidity. I really don't feel ready.

At one time, I actually thought I could get whole sweaters done before Christmas. HA! Only if I start in January for *next* Christmas.

And maybe not even then.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What happens when the baby is up multiple, multiple times per night?

(1) At 6:30 am, when we all need to get up, she will inevitably be sleeping.

(2) I will be cranky.

(3) Anne will be in a great mood.

(4) We'll all need to rush around more than usual to get ready.

(5) Inevitably, before I even have to rush out of the house, Anne's disposition will sour, and she will begin to sob.

(6) Anne will be down for a nap even before 8 am.

(7) I, on the other hand, will go to work and have a difficult time keeping my eyes open for any meeting that even borders on being boring. Which, you know, by definition is *most* meetings.

(8) Someone will likely ask me about Anne, and how she is sleeping. They will then tell me about how their baby slept through the night at some unfathomably early age, and I may fantasize about slapping them.

That's just the way some days go, I suppose...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Here comes trouble

The other day, as I sat knitting on the couch, I glanced up at Anne, who was playing in the middle of the living room floor. She can sit up now, and she delights in transitioning from her back, to her belly, to a sitting position. When she's on her belly now, she pushes her feet down and sticks her butt up in the air, like she's trying to stand up. Oh sigh.

Next thing I knew, I felt a gentle tugging on my yarn. When I looked down at my knitting bag near my feet, there was Anne, eating the yarn. She had crawled from halfway across the room in her quest to get at it.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Best belly dancing night EVER

I'm still glowing. :) This was, by far, my favorite dance night ever. As always, I will chronicle...

Friday evening we had our regularly scheduled class, and aside from warm up, we devoted the entire hour and a half to practicing our choreographies. We have 3 group choreographies, and with a few members unable to make the event given family emergencies, we had to do what our instructor (Claire) calls "the kaleidoscope," switch our formations around to accommodate for the missing bodies. We did that for about an hour, and then Claire announced "Who wants to do their solo?!"

Well, here's the funny thing. We all did, because of course we each *volunteered* to perform a solo. But yet, when pressed, we'd rather die. If possible, it's even *worse* performing in front of your peers than in front of a gigantic group. Because you really, *really* care about their opinion. This makes you even more nervous than usual.

So we all took turns, looking like we were being marched off to the firing squad. One of my newer classmates, Amy, very cutely proclaimed that she was sweating, which I really related to. Because, well, I was too. :) As we moved through the solo program, I realized something:

I was having fun.

A LOT of fun, in fact. Each solo was totally unique, just like it's creator. Each had a distinct style and feel. Some used props (I'm still too intimidated to use props during a solo, but I'm hoping to change that soon), others didn't. Some were drum, others were kicky Middle Eastern pop music. Some were classic pieces, mine was a slow instrumental that my class coined "very saucy." By the end, we were all sweaty but in very good spirits. I just very much enjoyed seeing everyone else dance.

On Saturday, I was nervous but I dealt with it better than I have in the past. I'm definitely getting better at that (I think). I practiced in my new costume, which is a little long and making me anxious, so I pinned the front up a tuck where it could be covered by my silver hip sash thing. I was ready, so I tried to stop practicing. There is such a thing as "over practicing" I think, and I'm a master at it. :) You don't want to look too stiff.

I arrived early to practice the group numbers one more time, which is when I got more nervous. We were at a new venue though, and the dressing room situation was infinitely better. The place we usually have our haflas is ridiculous. We're all crammed into this itty bitty room right off the kitchen with no door. So we had to take turns using the little bathroom or a tiny shrouded spot that we concocted. Here, there were actually 2 rooms, so the performance group had our very own. There were windows, so we hung up a few silk veils over them and we were good to go.

The beginning of the hafla is actually cake for me now. I used to worry so much about the group choreographies, but now I really enjoy doing them. Which really makes no sense, because if you forget a piece of the group choreography, it's very noticeable, since you're doing something different from everybody else and you stick out. In a solo, nobody knows what you planned to do anyway, so you can just make something up. Yet the solo is what is most difficult for me. Because, you know, everyone is *looking at you*.

So, we did our group numbers, and they went just fine. Then we had a little intermission for us all to get ready for the solos. I put on my costume and commenced sweating. I was terribly nervous, and I was having that horrible "why did I agree to do this?!" feeling settling over me. But so was everybody else, so I was in good company.

Claire and her daughter (who is *awesome*) went first, and then took a short break to change so that they could video the rest of the performances. Or whole group was doing a solo, so we bunched up anxiously in our coverups out in the hall and waited. The solos were done in this very nice little room, different from where the group numbers were done, with tables and chairs where people could have a snack and a drink. It had a nice intimate feel to it, very much less "recital" like, and more "show" like.

Finally, we were ready to start. My classmate Karen was slated to go first, and I was after her. As she danced out, I took off my coverup and had a pep talk with myself in the hallway. What goes on in my head as I perform is always pretty comical. "Bold, Confident Tiffany" (who really doesn't exist) has a strongly worded dialogue with "Meek, Terrified Tiffany" telling her that although there are many things that she doesn't excel at (art for instance, *shudder*) she is a good dancer, and she shouldn't be nervous about people seeing her do this. As I fluffed my hair and did a last minute costume check ("is everything covered that I want covered? Ok, good") I realized something that really did make me feel better:

These are truly the best years of my life. I have a wonderful family, everyone is healthy, I have a job that I enjoy, and I get to thrive in activities alongside people that bring me joy. Since the solos were in a separate room from the other numbers, everyone who had stayed did so specifically to see the solos. And there were a lot of people there! People actually want to see me dance. I should enjoy and treasure this.

As I felt happy and reached this thought, I heard Karen's music end and she came glowing out into the hallway. My time was up; I had to go on. :)

I pasted on a smile, put on my "Stage Presence Tiffany" vibe and sashayed out as confidently as I could muster. I struck my pose and my music started. And...

It went GREAT. Really, really great. It was the best solo I've ever done.

Granted, there is still a lot of room for improvement, but I know that it's the best that I've ever been. Which made me feel HAPPY.

Mike was there, so I smiled his way quite a few times. Claire was smiling very encouragingly, which also helped. And as I finished up, I just felt very good about the number. And my costume looked smashing.

I breathed a sigh of relief out in the hallway, and then I got to enjoy watching my remaining 5 classmates dance. And I was so, so inspired by each of them. Everyone brought something different to her dance, and it made me actually *excited* to do a solo again. Next time, maybe I can wrestle with my veil or attempt a sword. I may even choose a longer song (I tend to stick to 2 minutes; keep 'em wantin' more!) and travel a bit more. The possibilities are endless!

Some of the soloists used the little staircase and went up into the table area up there, but there was no way I was ready to try that. I have a "graceful" reputation with my dancing (an extremely kind characterization that everyone kept relaying to me Saturday night, I think it comes from my ballet training) and I can't imagine it would be too graceful to trip and fall as I attempt to shimmy down the stairs.

But maybe next time. :)