Monday, October 31, 2011

The levels of ranking baby sleep

Now that I'm onto kid #2, I like to think that I've learned something about infant sleep. And that would be that they don't sleep well for about a year. I don't care how many people tell me that their babies "slept through the night" at 8 weeks old. Their baby may sleep from midnight until 5 am without waking. Good for them. Mine does too, sometimes. But I'm talking, you go to bed at a normal hour and wake up sometime after 6 am, and the kid sleeps all that time without waking. That takes about a year.

Right now, we're in the real badlands of infant sleep. Anne goes down nice and early, and can sometimes soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes for an abbreviated period. She *usually* gets up twice between 7 pm and 6 am. But she's starting to teethe, and this my friends, commences many months of misery, I'm here to tell you. Sigh.

And this is the other thing I've learned: just when you think you've got the sleep thing down, Whamo! The baby changes their habits. It'll happen every time.

So, last night as I lay awake at 2:30 am, I contemplated the many levels of rating infant sleep.

There are:

(1) This is the cream of the crop. Your baby is a miracle sleeper!
(2) Baby gets up once per night. This is awesome!
(3) Baby gets up a few times a night and this is very age appropriate. You feel lucky that it's not worse.
(4) There seem to be 1-2 too many wakings and you're a bit cranky about it, but not suicidal.
(5) Your baby refuses to sleep and you're wondering how anybody has more than one child.

Last night was one of those #6's. That's just the way it goes sometimes. But at 2 am last night, Mike and I were both downstairs catatonically watching an infomercial about new stoneware pots and pans while Anne sucked voraciously on a cold teething toy and drooled all over my lap. And the thing was, those pots and pans seemed like a really good deal at that time of the night. If we call now, we'll also get a free sauce pan with a $90 value!

Oh well. Some nights are just bad nights. But tonight is a new night.

The perks of being married...

Obviously, there are many. But this is a big one, in my opinion.

Last night, Mike and I were innocently reading in bed, prior to falling asleep, halos firmly perched on heads. I'm currently reading the Hunger Games trilogy, and was very absorbed in book #2. Since it's a futuristic novel, I thought perhaps my eyes were deceiving at first, projecting a nightmarish, alien bug from the future onto our wall. But no. It actually *was* a flying insect the size of THE PALM OF MY HAND.

I freeze. I blink. I carefully close my book.


"Yes, I see it. I think it's a moth."


"I don't think that's a moth."

While I tell myself to breathe, Mike is getting out of bed and confidently strutting toward the winged offender in his boxer shorts. You can tell that he's very proud to be fulfilling one of the purposes of his vocation.

He climbs up onto my dresser right near my little porcelain statue of Mary, as I pray for him to be careful. I close my eyes for Murderous Attempt #1, which is a fail. The creature flutters over to the wall above my head.

Quickly, I leap out of bed, lest dead bug debris get into my hair and onto my book, which is borrowed from my friend Stacy. Mike makes the hop over to the bed while my breakable holy reminders breathe a sigh of relief. Murderous Attempt #2 is a success.

"I got him! I still think it's a moth." He checks inside the kleenex, yet another aspect of this extermination role of the husband that I just cannot understand.

"I think that was actually related to a dragonfly, which are ALTOGETHER too large."


Friday, October 28, 2011

Premiering new solo tonight...

Tonight is the big night that I'm supposed to show my new solo to my dance instructor. Before we perform them, she always likes to see them first. And I'm telling you, this is more difficult than dancing in front of hundreds of strangers! When you really care about the person's opinion, this is the most nerve wracking type of performance.

I've done this twice only before, so doing a solo is still pretty new to me. I like to think I've improved. I'm more cognizant of making my arms stronger, of smiling, of traveling a bit more, and generally looking less like I'm about to be shot and more like I know what I'm doing and having a great time doing it. But I still have a long way to go. :)

The choreography feels very natural to me this time. The last solo I did I created at the last minute because I was pregnant with Anne and unsure of whether I wanted to put myself on the spot with also doing a solo. And it was a cute dance, but for some reason I had a difficult time remembering it. Something just didn't "click" with it. Perhaps it was pregnancy brain. But at any rate, this one is seamless. I just hope I don't look stupid doing it.

In happy news, our costume designer is apparently sewing his little hands off and is aiming to ship my new costume in time for it to arrive pre-hafla. I'm super excited.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A new arrival...

*drum roll*

Yesterday, a mere 6 days after I placed the order, I received my new nursing bras from Fig Leaves. Yes, we're going to be talking about underwear again. And so thus, the review. :)

First of all, service. Wonderful! I ordered late Thursday afternoon, and they shipped Friday morning. From that point, it took only 5 days to arrive from the UK. That's impressive. And the package was wrapped very cutely in pretty tissue paper and a sticker with a fig leaf on it.

And the products. I cannot tell you what a welcome reprieve this is from the hideous yet expensive nursing bras I've encountered in regular retails stores. I hurriedly tried them on while Mike gave Anne a bath because I was just so excited.

First, I tried on the plainer of the two, the more practical nude colored bra. I seemed to have straps everywhere, but it was *super* soft and comfortable. LOVE it! I thought the funny straps might be because the bra is British. Then I realized that my strap problem was probably the result of the fact that I had it on inside out. Hey, it's not easy when the thing has no underwire or foam cups, it's not my fault. I blame the fact that I lose more brain cells with each child that I deliver. Anyway, bottom line - I love it.

Then I tried on the fancy blue and red one. CUTE!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, who ever heard of a cute nursing bra?! It's so, so wonderful. I was so busy admiring it in the mirror I lost track of time and Mike needed me to help him get Anne squared away after her bath. I hurried over and I hear Mike say:

"Well, well, well."

So, he liked it too. :) I'm very impressed. I would definitely order with them again, even if it does mean that my debit card will get frozen for fraud protection for a day afterward.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Henry's foray into Catholic School life...

Now that Hank is 2 months into his new adventure at Catholic School, I thought I'd post a progress report. It's been an interesting experiment.

In the beginning, Henry was very, *very* nervous about going to a new school. I even had tears a few mornings when I dropped him off, which broke my heart. And then it was hard to get information out of him at the end of the day as to how everything had gone. I felt good about him being there, but I was worried.

As the weeks went on, I could see him getting a tad more comfortable. And his teacher is *wonderful*. She's a veteran with first graders, and is super warm, kind and very, very Catholic. I knew as soon as I saw her Brown Scapular that I would like her. :)

Pretty soon, the teary mornings stopped. He still asks Mike and I every morning, "will you be thinking about me when I'm at school?" so I know that he's still feeling vulnerable to some extent. But he happily goes off each day and I can see a huge improvement. We had a conference with his teacher last week as well, and she confirmed that Henry has come a long way with relaxing and being happier at school.

He's also thriving academically. Being one of the youngest kids in the class, there are still certain things that don't come easily to him, but whereas in kindergarten we constantly heard about how he was struggling, now we can see him flourishing. He's reading and doing his basic addition and subtraction. He does excellent with spelling and vocabulary. And the school just handles things very seamlessly. There's no big deal made - if the kids need a boost in their subtraction skills, they are simply sent to the math lab for an extra session. This isn't a criticism, but at the public school, everything was much more formalized and structured. And that may be what many people prefer. For us, this works better.

Given how crazy our evenings are, I have to say that I am glad that he does not have to go to CCD separately, which in our parish is on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. It's all integrated right into his Catholic school curriculum. This past Sunday we went to Mass at Hank's school parish (separate from our regular parish; we have a crazy amount of Catholic churches in this area) and as we were walking in, he pointed out a little grotto on the side with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and a small bench in front of it.

"Look Mommy. I've been there before during school, to pray."

I mean, it was PRECIOUS. So I like knowing that he's doing those things at school. The only thing I don't like is that I don't really *know* what the religion curriculum is per se. He does come home with religion assignments sometimes, so I can see what they worked on, but that's not more frequent than once every one to two weeks. Yesterday, he brought home an assignment he had worked on (and gotten a 100% on :) ) about God's love and the angels. He had a heaven assignment a few weeks ago. I just wish I knew more of what they were doing because I'm interested.

So, that's that. Even though we're very money conscious these days, and he could go to the public school for free, we both feel that our investment in Hank's education at this school is very worthwhile. It has a very familial feel, and Hank is getting a lot of attention. Everyone there is very, very kind and warm. We all like it, and all signs point to us keeping Henry there, which I'm thrilled about. If that happens, Anne will go there too starting in pre-k.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"What do you think you're doing, Missy?!"

The other day I watched Anne kick cutely from her play spot on the floor. She flipped over, like she always does, and then suddenly...

she was up ON HER KNEES and ON HER ELBOWS. ROCKING BACK AND FORTH. I need many, many more months of non-mobility to prepare me for living with a mobile baby again. Because there are few things worse (ok, the sleep thing is worse) than dealing with the mobility phenomena of every waking moment filled with racing over to rescue your child from their latest life threatening calamity. Every.waking.moment. Those are the days that you pray they never drop their second nap.

This is her latest thing and it's making me very nervous. I'm just hoping we can get through Christmas without having to worry about her crawling over and eating an ornament.

On the up side, our sleep situation has stabilized. No, this does not mean that she sleeps through until the morning, nor would I expect her to at this age. She goes to bed at 7 pm, and will sleep until anywhere from 10 pm until 1 am. Usually, she sleeps until 12:30 am. I bring her into bed to nurse, and we both fall asleep for an hour or two. She'll usually wake me again then by rooting ("hey, the all night buffet is still open; suddenly, I'm hungry again!") so I'll let her nurse until she falls sound asleep. Then I pick her up and put her back in her crib. She goes right back to sleep. On a good night, she'll sleep until 6-6:30 am. On a regular night, she'll get up 1 more time, somewhere between 3 and 5 am. Occasionally, she'll fuss for a few minutes and fall back to sleep. More often, I'll bring her back into bed to nurse.

Really, that's pretty good. Getting up twice. I'll take it. And if she gets up between 5 and 6 am and won't go back to sleep, Mike will get up with her and take her downstairs so that I can sleep until 6:30. Yes, I have a wonderful husband.

Her hair has been getting longer lately, and I know I'm biased, but boy is she pretty. :) She gets lots of admiring looks when we're out in stores. I get a lot of comments about her eyes because she has dark brown hair like mine but big blue eyes. I find it fascinating that I have 2 children with blue eyes. I actually think this is a tad unfair, since I should have the dominant genes. :) But really, their eyes are lovely. I must have a recessive little b gene in there, obviously.

She's super precious these days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

And so, our lives change again...

...and so the story goes. :) I've written before about how miserable Mike's new engineering job was. He was working long hours, and from day to day, we never knew what his schedule would even be. He would only find out the evening prior what his start time was the next day, and late in the afternoon what time he could leave. That just didn't work for us with 2 small kids. His job also required a lot of driving to different construction sites and he arrived home each day covered with mud and other greasy substances and with a lot of additional mileage on his car. It just wasn't what we had anticipated. He applied for some other engineering positions, and was interviewed for one, but didn't end up getting the job.

We did a lot of talking about it, and 2 weeks ago he put his notice in. As of this morning, he's home full time with Anne. He's also dropping off and picking up Henry from school, doing all of the household cleaning and starting dinner each night. I'm pretty sure I have the easier job in all this. :) He teaches a philosophy course one evening per week right now at a local Catholic college, and in the spring will teach 2 courses. Between that and what we're saving in daycare/after school care costs, our monthly net income isn't down for a number large enough to affect us too terribly much. He's also applying for some additional sections to teach this spring. And ultimately, we'd like for him to pursue getting his state teaching credentials in math, and he could teach middle school/high school. We think that that would provide him with the job satisfaction and lifestyle that is conducive to our close family life.

Even though this is another large change, I feel peaceful about it. The one thing that has been a constant in Mike's professional life is teaching. He's always done it, and loved it. We just chose for him not to pursue a tenure-track college level position because it would entail us moving, and we don't want to move. So, I think that we've come to a good solution.

This morning, he was cutely excited about being home with Anne. I was able to breathe this morning and not rush around like a maniac trying to get ready for work while fielding both children. And I got an extra nursing session in with Anne while Mike took Hank to school. When he got home, I was just putting her down for her morning nap. Everything just worked so much better.

So, we'll see where this newest development takes us. But so far, we're feeling pretty good about it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I guess this is the punishment inflicted.... my ugly nursing bra for bad mouthing it, unceremoniously replacing it, and making cackling plans to burn it as soon as the new ones arrive.

Yesterday, I took Hank to his semi annual appointment with the allergist. What on earth does this have to do with bras you ask? I'm getting there. This is what my husband calls a "Tiffany story" since it starts out seemingly having nothing to do with the topic at hand, will be way too long and contain far too many extraneous details, but in the end, it all ties together.

Ok, where was I? The allergist. So, I go to pay my co-pay. I hand the receptionist my debit card. She goes to the machine and by the way it's taking way too long I know that something is amiss. She comes back with a furrowed brow.

"Um, the card machine is giving me an error message. We had this happen to a patient a few weeks ago, and she later told us that it had to do with someone trying to steal from her account."

Hum. Well, I'm probably too complacent, but I wasn't so much worried about that. She gave me a ton of unnecessary details about what the error message said, and I concluded that it sounded like they didn't put in the authorization 3 digit code when it was needed. I also know that my card is old and the strip doesn't always work these days, I'm due to get a new one shortly. So I filed it away under "Don't Worry About This." I was more worried about how I was going to pay the co-pay, since we don't have credit cards and I didn't have enough cash on me.

Anyway, after that was squared away, I was focused on Henry and the allergist. Everything went fine, and upon arrival home, I see that we have a message on our answering machine.

"Hello, this is XYZ Bank Fraud Department and we need you to call us back..."

Oh crap.

I jotted down the investigation number and called back immediately. I was transferred to a man speaking heavily accented English who asked me a series of security questions. Apparently I answered them correctly, because he launched into the point at hand.

"We're concerned about a purchase charged this morning for $47 from a company based in London selling, um (I could tell he was desperately searching for the most polite word possible) ladies *apparel*. Called Fig Leaves."

"Yes, that's a legitimate purchase." I'm thinking the UK thing is what put the red flag up.

"Ah, ok. Oh, I see also on here a very large purchase for $770."

"Yes, the car repair shop. Unfortunately, that is also a legitimate purchase." *sighs*

He seemed to appreciate my attempt at levity and chirpily told me that my card would be reactivated within 2 minutes.

So, all is well that ends well. But I did get a chuckle out of how my little bra purchase caused some panic at the bank...

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yesterday, as I tucked in my ugly bra straps for the 20th time, I decided that I'd had enough. I'M DONE WITH YOU, YOU EVIL UGLY BRA.

So my knitting friends and I had a lengthy discussion about bras over lunch (yes, this is what happens when women get to talking), and armed with a few suggestions of places to look, I headed excitedly back to my computer. And I found THE MECCA.

I checked out a site called Fig Leaves. It's a UK based lingerie company. They carry bras in sizes that you cannot find in regular retail stores, so women who wear cup sizes larger than a D, and/or have a small back size will find a wonderful selection here. They also carry bras for women who have had a mastectomy. But guess what else they have? A special maternity/nursing section with PRETTY BRAS. PRETTY!!! I mean, nursing bras in colors other than white and black. Pink, purple, I was nearly delirious with excitement and anticipation.

As you can imagine, some of them are a bit spendy. But honestly, they are not more expensive than the ugly ones I got at my local lactation center after I had Hank. They are about on par with those. And they're infinitely more attractive. AND, they had a pretty good selection of sale bras. Despite their being based in the UK, shipping to the US is a very reasonable $4.95. I was sold.

I ended up selecting a very practical nude colored bra for $15. Yes, $15! And it apparently won some kind of parenting magazine award for comfort and ease of use. It has thin, widely spaces straps, no underwire, padded cups, and looks more than halfway decent. And in the exciting news of the afternoon, I ordered a NAVY AND WHITE POLKA DOT WITH RED RIBBON bra as my second selection. That was my splurge, but it was on sale for only $27. With the sale bras, you have to be sure they have your size. I *really* wanted the pink and white polka dots, but they were out of my size, and the purple and white polka dots was full price at $39. Honestly, that's still not THAT bad, since like I mentioned, it's comparable to Miss Ugly that lives in my underwear drawer. But I liked the navy one just as well, so I went with the cheaper price tag. And it came with a free pair of matching underwear.

The whole shebang, with shipping, came to $47. I'm super thrilled. I placed the order late yesterday afternoon, and it's already shipped. I cannot wait for them to get here. And yes, I'll post an update about how I like them after they arrive. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The foibles of nursing mothers

I won't belabor, but I figured enough women out there would relate to this that I'd dedicate a short post to it. That's what this blog is all about. :) Serving up Too Much Information on a regular basis...

Anyway, today's installment is devoted to my undergarments. You see, when I nursed Henry (for over a year) I had a major problem with clogged milk ducts. Nothing makes you feel like a dairy cow more than thinking about ones "milk ducts", believe me. It's very unpleasant, and it HURTS like a very, very bad word. You get a very tender, hard spot and nothing relieves it except for the baby nursing and clearing it. I had *dozens* of clogged ducts when nursing Henry, and the pump only cleared them 1 time. The others, I had to wait it out until I got home to nurse him.

At first I thought it was related to my milk supply changing when I returned to work after delivering Henry (and consequently pumping), but eventually the lactation consultant I met with told me that it was my bra. You see, I am very uncomfortable wearing a bra with no underwire. Let's just say that I'm not the most endowed of all women, and that I like a little liftage support, ok? B cup bras just look ridiculous with no underwire.

And so I was wearing nursing bras with underwires. The lactation consultant tsked me with a furrowed brow. Apparently underwire can cause clogged ducts, and I had to replace my nursing bras right away.

As if I didn't already *hate* nursing bras. I do, I really hate them. I'm going to just say it: they're ugly. Just because we're nursing a baby doesn't mean we want to feel unappealing and undesirable. I really think Victoria's Secret needs to make nursing bras. Maybe we'd like our husbands to think of something other than the functional aspect of that part of our anatomy when they look at us, kwim?

So anyway, I crankily bought 2 nursing bras sans underwire, one nude and one black, and although they fit well, I still hated them. AND the clogged ducts persisted, although not quite as frequently. It was a real problem until I weaned Henry.

Now, with Anne, everything is totally different. 5 months and nary a clog to behold. So, I got complacent.

Yesterday, I wore a regular bra. Sweet, sweet regular bra! My nursing bras just have such thick straps that they're always showing and I couldn't take it anymore. In my regular bra, I had nice thin straps that stayed inside my shirt, I didn't have to worry about my (sorry, I have to say it) nipples showing through without those shifty little breast pads stuffed in there, I had just 2 dainty hooks to worry about in the back, and the whole shebang was attractive and delicate. I just figured I'd arrange it craftily when I went to pump, no worries.

Until the later part of the afternoon. After I pumped for the second time, I ran to the ATM to get some cash. My arm bumped against my side when I walked, and I thought,

"Ouch. Gee, that hurt."

I was in denial, so I let it go. Suddenly, I noticed that that side hurt even when nothing was touching it.

"Gosh, something sure feels tender on that side."

Pretty soon I was discreetly trying to feel myself up as I walked.


The verdict was in. I had a clogged duct. No more regular bras for me. :(

I had to suffer until I got both kids home whereupon I nursed Anne immediately on that side. The clog was gone in minutes.

So I think I have to break down and spend yet more money on something I hate, but it has to be done. I see that has some for a cheap price. *frowny face* The ones I have just aren't working. I want something less conspicuous (thinner straps) and it would be nice if they had actual cups that aren't paper thin. Does anybody have any recommendations that won't cost a fortune?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Busily knitting away...

Yesterday I was off with Anne, who is recuperating from a cold. We did lots of relaxing, and while she napped, I knit. Christmas is merely 2 months away, did you know that?! I have a number of gifts completed, but still a significant way to go. I finished 2 things over the weekend. A hat for my mother-in-law, and my secret Santa gift, which is FABULOUS. I can't say anymore because it's, you know, secret. But I love it. :) Everything has to be hand washed and blocked, but aside from that they are DONE. And I also finished Anne's cardigan:

I *love* the way it turned out. And the buttons?

Couldn't you just die? I'm thrilled with this. Too bad it will be spit up on to an inch of its life very shortly, but I know it'll be loved, and what more can a hand knit ask for?

So last night I embarked upon 2 gifts, one for each of my sisters, which are also secret. :) But so far so good. One of them is actually part of a "Knitalong" on Ravelry. Isn't that fun? It's an online group that reports its progress and helps each other as everyone works on the same project. I just love this idea.

Thus, this morning I woke up perky, marred only by the mysterious leaking of *4 ozs of milk* in the car on the way to daycare. I'm very upset about this, but there's not much I can do about it.


Friday, October 14, 2011

An adventurous evening of cereal throwing and hip dropping

Yesterday was yet another installment in our crazy evenings of late. I had to pick up both children from separate locations, get them home and unpacked, find something (snorts) for dinner, clean up, feed Anne, do general children and house control, and get ready for a belly dance performance, all in a 2 hour time span.

We start our adventures as me and the kids arrive home. Mike was still at work, so I unpacked the bags and got Hank set up watching a quick tv show with Anne in the bouncy seat so that I could have my hands free. She's much less willing to suck on her bouncy seat dangling toys in the evening, so I heard wailing much sooner than usual. I got her nursed as Mike arrived home.

We slapped some leftovers together and sat down to eat while Anne played on the floor. As Mike cleaned up, I got Anne's rice cereal ready. There was one unfortunate moment in which I noticed that Anne was *licking* the floor and Henry was wiping something up (WHAT DID HE SPILL?!), but I quickly got Anne settled into her highchair. Many flung cereal clumps into hair later, Anne was fed and Mike was giving Hank a bath. I played with Anne for a bit, and then took Anne with me to get dressed into my costume. She seemed to like the sparkle factor.

At 7 pm, I was on my way to the studio for a last minute run through and was feeling surprisingly un-nervous. I've performed before, so I thought maybe I was just getting used to it. We had a bit of an adventure in the car on the way to the performance involving someones bra being on upside down, and so we arrived laughing and in good spirits. And then we went inside.

There were a TON of people there. It was an event for a local hospital honoring women, so it was mostly females in attendance, but still, there was a LOT of them. And at that point, I felt nervous. The last time we'd done a public performance, I was 8 months pregnant and we were at a college event in which the small gathered crowd of students looked like they were much more interested in studying their cuticles than in watching us dance. This was another story altogether. And we were the only dancers, so everyone was looking at us in our coverups with abject curiosity.

We nervously sweated out in the hallway until they were ready for us. When it was time, we paraded in and distracted ourselves by taking off our coverups and lining up. Claire introduced us, and we lined up for our first dance. We start facing the back, and when we turned around I saw that the GIGANTIC crowd was all crowded around our teeny tiny dance floor and all were paying attention and watching us. This is the first time this has ever happened. I mean, everyone actually got out of their seats to come stand closer to the stage to watch us. It made me happy that they were so interested. Until my problem began.

My problem being that as I danced, I could feel my very heavy, bead-laden skirt slowly start to slip down. Claire always tells us "if you feel it slipping, yank it up!" and she's right, because although that isn't ideal, the alternative is so, SO much worse. So I did, at as discreet an interval as I could. I waited until I was in the back, or everyone was distracted by someones solo part, and hopefully I pulled it off ok. But, as you can imagine, the whole situation was *very* distracting for me. I need to sew something inside the skirt to keep it up better. Previously, I was pregnant every single time I danced in my green costume with more to hold it up. :)

At any rate, we finished with my skirt still on my body, so that's good. The crowd was very enthusiastic when we finished. Perhaps they had had wine. But all in all, it went very well, and we all left happy.

I just love those girls.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Exciting news:

I'm getting a new belly dance costume. :)

Granted, this is exciting only to me. But still, I'm thrilled. I've been wanting one to use for solos, but have held off for monetary reasons. Mike and I talked this week and agreed that we had enough for me to choose one as my Christmas gift this year. I doubt that it will be in time for our hafla, but still, since we have the money now, I'm going to lock it down. :) Then I'll have it when I need it. Plus, there's always the chance that our Egyptian friend can bead speedily and have it to me in the month. You never know.

So, I spent some exciting time yesterday drooling over the current designs, and finally selected one. It's turquoise blue, and has a silver hip wrap with material that spills down over the leg with the skirt slit. I'm terribly excited.

I finally got to work on my choreography again last night, although only after an hour long session of getting Anne to sleep. Something was bothering her last night. And before that, I'd gotten a single shoulder roll choreographed in like a week's time. I just never had the opportunity or the energy, frankly. Our evenings are exhausting these days.

I'm getting measured tonight, before our charity show, and then the order will get in. Here's hoping for some fast sewing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Glasses perched on nose, bun firmly coiled on head...

I am one of those very traditional librarians that wishes we could go back to the days of the card catalog and print indexes. I have such a nostalgia for the way libraries used to look when I was in grade school (Dewey Decimal system anybody? library cat perhaps?). I even loved the way the library smelled. And I love...BOOKS. As in, real books. No offense to Kindle and Nook users, I know they have their place, but I love the feel of a book in my hand and the sense of them surrounding me. There's just something very comforting and serene about it to me.

So, that's why, for a class I'm teaching tomorrow, I'm breaking out the big guns: print reference sources.

We have a lot of these at our library. We are insistent that these are important sources that we need to have. The problem is, the students really don't like to use them. They'd rather just Google everything. It makes me rather sad.

The assignment for this particular class is for the students to find several sources on an artist from a specific ethnic group, which they will be assigned. But they have to locate an appropriate person on their own. Where do we turn for such information? Google's siren song is STRONG, very, very strong, and I had to fight very hard to resist it. All right, I didn't resist it, I succumbed, and was rewarded for my laziness by 10 frustrating minutes and some sucky sources. So, I delved into our online catalog, and yes, there are TONS of print encyclopedias for every ethnic group under the sun. Use the index in one of these babies, and suddenly, you're in business.

After my reference shift this afternoon, I ventured into the reference collection in search of a volume to take with me to class. Yes, I'm going to make them touch a book. I'm sure they won't like this, given that many of them haven't even bought the text book for the course, but they will bend to my will. I found 2 perfect sources, and after blowing the dust off their tops, I tucked them under my arm and brought them up to my office. I plan to smuggle them out of the staff entrance tomorrow so that I can take them to class with me and the students can *see* how useful these are. Not only can they find their perfect person in half the time of a bunch of frustrating searches, but each entry includes a bibliography of book and article sources that they can use right in their paper. We either have them or can order them via Interlibrary Loan. I mean, it doesn't get any better than this.

At least, I hope they see it that way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Mommy, Anne took off her socks again!"

Yes, it was one of *those* kinds of mornings. Not only did Anne take off her socks and eat them at least a half dozen times as I raced around trying to get us all ready to leave the house, but the following transpired as I went to put her in her car seat:

"Hi Honey, I see you spit up again, let's wipe that up. Wait, what's that smell?"

"Bad smells" are just such a persistent reality to all parents of young children. Yes, she had pooed, and I could already see it seeping through the back of her Onesie. And what time was it? 7:30. Henry has to be in his classroom saying morning prayers at 7:42. This means that I didn't have time to change her, and had to take her smelling self as is all the way to school and then daycare. Whereupon I grabbed one of her alternate outfits out of her cubbie to find that both are 3-6 month sized, meaning she will be stuffed into one of them like a sausage for the remainder of the day since she's fully in a 6 month size now.

It's just one of those days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interesting weekend

There's lots going on in our lives right now, and this weekend was no exception. Friday night I was chagrined to miss my dance class since we have a performance coming up (more on that in a moment), but Mike and I attended a wedding that evening. Since we don't get out much just the two of us, we enjoyed every moment.

I was feeling very relaxed with my wine and Mike when one of my sisters suggested that we take a picture together, since all 3 of us, plus our mom, were all in attendance. We head away from the noise, out into the entrance area and an attractive bench near a window. Suddenly, a drunk guy saunters over to us in a leering manner.

"Hey. (I think he was aiming for his voice to be 'low and sexy' but it just sounded 'low and creepy') This is like, the best song ever, right?"

The song in question was that "I like big butts" song by Sir Mixalot.

Right. We disposed of him immediately. One would think that the 3 wedding rings would have been enough of a deterrent, but apparently not. I suppose you'd have to be drunk to think that the butts song was "the best ever," anyway, so whatever.

After that interesting Friday night, I had a rehearsal for an upcoming charity event that my belly dance troupe is performing at this week. It will be my first post-baby performance. I'm actually looking forward to it. And I've gotten used to performing enough to not be phased by the creative and haphazard organization of our numbers to account for members who can't make the performance, and other last minute choreography fixes.

"Tiffany, you be Katie in this one, and Lara you'll have to switch sides again. Amy, you're Jan!"

We always get a kick out of it. We've always got some massaging to do in order to make the lineup look even with people missing (since inevitably, all of us can't make every performance) and then we have to keep track of each different lineup from performance to performance, which can be a challenge for aging brain cells, but we persevere. Little group trios become solos, and the right side becomes the left. It keeps us paying attention. I just love those girls.

So, I've added "dance practice" to my evening repertoire, which isn't easy these days but I'm managing. And I'm still knitting. Somehow.

Most likely because I'm crazy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Starting my first post-baby solo...

I have a hafla coming up in mid-November, so I've been contemplating a dance solo. I don't exactly have a lot of free time these days, and I've been really enjoying my knitting (and given my holiday gift giving plans, I actually *have* to knit a lot) so I wasn't sure where I was going to squeeze in a dance choreography as well. But as September drew on, I suddenly got motivated. I tried on my costume (IT FITS!) so the excitement of that carried me through.

I had a hard time picking out music, but I finally decided on I Cash Radii by Pentaphobe from the Bellydance Superstars III soundtrack. A while back I had toyed with trying something really new with my next solo, like using a veil, and I'm not feeling quite that ambitious right now. But the music *is* different from what I usually pick, so that's a start. It's still an instrumental, but it's a slow "gooey" type of song, rather than a quick drum like I usually do. I've got about 52 seconds done so far of a song that's about 2:20, so I'm off to a good start.

The problem when I craft solos is that my mind can't help but wander to when I'm actually performing said solo, and I'm just praying that I don't accidentally do something incredibly stupid and make myself look like an idiot in public. Like, I don't know, set fire to my skirt or trip and fall into somebody's hummus. It could happen, so therefore, I worry about it.

But so far, so good. I'm hoping to carve out about 15-20 minutes tonight after the kids go to bed.

Famous last words.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The joy of ruffles

A few days ago, I got on another crafting high. I was perusing my Facebook feed, and I saw a post from the chain craft store AC Moore about this new yarn that makes a special ruffly scarf. They had had some sort of in-store demo of it over the weekend and apparently it was very popular. I was intrigued.

I checked out the scarf and the crazy novelty yarn that looks like a net and determined that I had to have some. Do I need a crazy ruffled scarf? Well, no, but that's not really the point is it? The yarn is Premier Starbella, it was on sale for $3.99 a skein at AC Moore, and they even have an autumn inspired colorway. Need I say more?

At quitting time, I was speeding over to AC Moore. I arrived with a high level of excitement. I just love getting excited about new projects. I raced in, but took some time to peruse the photo albums before heading back to the yarn. I wanted to really preserve the experience. I took my time browsing, squeezing a few skeins of sock yarn, before I realized that I'd been through every yarn aisle and hadn't yet spotted my prey.

I went back through, paying special attention to each yarn bin. Suddenly...straight ahead on the starboard side I spot a knitted sample of something that looks unmistakably ruffly. Eureka! I hurry over.

Yep, that's the crazy ruffle all right. I touch it reverently and my eyes dart to the neighboring bins so that my color selection process can begin, which is what I've been looking forward to all afternoon. I knew I wanted the autumn colorway, but perhaps I could make some gifts as well...

Well. I'm instantly deflated when I realize that every nearby bin is completely empty. I quickly check behind other neighboring yarns to see if anybody hid any, which makes no sense whatsoever, but I do it for several minutes anyway. I stand back up with a pout. Not a single skein of Starbella to be had. As I'm standing there frowning, an AC Moore lady ambles by. I hurry to catch up with her.

I quickly ask about the Starbella, and she expresses surprise that it's all gone, but she said they had a lot of people in for the demo. She said that I could get a rain check up at the front for the sale price, which I thank her for. I'm still standing there a few minutes later, looking unhappily at a bin of pink Bernat yarn for a breast cancer awareness campaign, when the lady comes back.

"That one Bernat yarn, Ruffelina, is similar to Starbella."

"Oh, really?!"

"Yep, and here's the free pattern."

I'm really starting to like this lady. This skein was a mix of pink hues, was only $2.99, and one ball makes an entire ruffly scarf. I was stoked. I grab a skein.

"Thank you! I like this one, and I'll get that rain check when I check out."

She pauses.

"I did put 2 skeins aside for myself, but you can have one. I'll be able to get more when they come in on the truck."

Now I love this lady. I follow her to this desk in the middle of the store and she pulls out 2 balls of Starbella. One is a mix of blues and taupe in a colorway called "Faded Jeans," and the other is the coveted autumn. I catch my breath. I want to stroke the autumn colors, but she's being so super nice that I don't want to take advantage.

"Which one would you like to keep? You're being so nice already by letting me have one of yours."

Quickly, she clutches the autumn skein to her chest. I had a feeling that would happen. But I happily accept the also very pretty blue skein, thank her profusely again, and skip merrily up to the register.

There is a checkout lady just waiting for me, which is when I know the craft store karma is really on my side. Usually at AC Moore, I'm waiting at the register *forever* while people seriously slow poke ahead of me. I deposit my two ruffly balls onto the counter and ask for a rain check so that I can secure an autumn skein when they come back in.

The lady starts to take down my information, but pauses suddenly.

"Let me call into the stock room. I think I saw some of this yarn back there."

She calls while I hold my breath in excitement.

"How many balls did you want?"

"Just 1!"

"They have some that were returned back there. What color do you want?"

Next thing I knew, yet another pleasant AC Moore lady was handing me a ball of autumn hued Starbella.

Life was good. It doesn't take much to make me very, very happy. Including cheap novelty yarn. I got all 3 balls for $10.

So, I started my autumn ruffly scarf the other day, and the experience is interesting to say the least. I actually don't love knitting with it, it's a bit awkward. However, I'm loving the final product. It's SO pretty.

And it hides a multitude of sins. For instance, as I was knitting along, I came across a knot. And a knot in a thick netted yarn like this is ridiculously noticeable. There's no weaving THAT end in. It's just a grape-sized wad of tangled netting with two opposing colors on either side. NOT attractive. Happily though, the ruffles somehow absorb this blight. I think your cat could actually get tangled up in this yarn and the ruffles would hide its very body. It's kind of weird.

I'll take a picture of my scarf and post it when it's done. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Children's Liturgy of the Word starts up for the fall...

Sunday commenced a new season of Children's Liturgy of the Word at our parish, and yours truly was signed up to conduct the inaugural session. I have to admit, I was dreading it just a hair.

It's been 5 months since I last taught one of those sessions, and toward the end of my tenure doing them in the spring, I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep the diverse age ranges represented paying attention for anything resembling the entire time. It's really designed for kids ages 4-6, those that can glean something from a childrens' version of the readings but who have not yet begun official religious education toward making their first reconcilliation and eucharist.

What happens though is that parents send kids back who are anywhere from 8 or 9 down to little ones who can manage to walk back into the sacristy. The older kids are actually no trouble, although I do worry about them becoming bored. But the little 2-3 year olds are TOUGH, especially when trying to keep up some form of dialogue with the older children. I was feeling a bit disillusioned in April/May, and like I was doing quite a bit of babysitting, but not much catechizing.

Well. I was very pleasantly surprised this past Sunday. I had a smallish group, maybe 6-8 kids, and nobody appeared to be below age 4, which really helped. They sat quietly and even answered questions. We were talking about the parable of the vineyard owner, and so I tossed in some details about Mike and I going to Napa Valley on our honeymoon, which they seemed to like. Overall, it was the best session I've had of these in many, many months.

Big relief. Unfortunately, after Mass, as I was making my way back into the sacristy to clean up the materials, Henry ran ahead of me (he loves to help set up and take down on the Sundays when it's my turn) and in the 10 seconds it takes me to prop the sacristy door open, I hear shattering glass. I knew right away that my Henry was responsible. :) He had accidentally knocked the vase of fake flowers off the little table and it broke on the stone floor.

It was fine, and I was relieved to have my first session behind me. I'm not on again until early November, so I have plenty of time to gear up.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What's that I smell?

Ever since I went back to work, and Mike started working full time as well, it's been a struggle to keep up with the housework. Especially when you have the standards that Mike and I have, because we're crazy. We're both just neat freaky kind of people.

Example A: my husband cleans our bathrooms. He cares that much about them being as clean as possible. I mean, I'd clean them if he didn't, but he seemed so enthusiastic about it that I let him take the reigns on that one after we got married.

But since the work thing interfered, (and the addition of another kid) squeezing in housework has been a real challenge. We can really only do it on the weekends, and thus have to space things out more than we'd like. For instance, about a month ago, I could hardly stand the bathrooms. This is the first time this has happened in nearly 7 years of marriage. Our bathrooms were DIRTY. It doesn't help that we have a 5 year old boy who apparently has lingering aiming issues. But I literally couldn't take it anymore. That very weekend, we prioritized the bathrooms and got them cleaned.

And yet, not nearly so much time has gone by, and last week I noticed that the upstairs bathroom was grossing me out again. At first I thought it was just me. Maybe I was being too picky? Perhaps it was the trash? I mentioned it to Mike, and while he didn't have time to do a full scale cleaning, he promised to do a quick bathroom freshening. I focused on the mounds of waiting laundry and breathed a sigh of relief.

That night I went into the bathroom. It still smelled. I looked about furtively. The fixtures appeared cleaner but Mike hadn't thrown the trash. God only knows what Hank has put in there. I figured that must be it and took care of it.

Later that night, I woke up to nurse Anne and stopped to use the facilities on my way back to our bedroom.

*sniff sniff*


Why, why, did the bathroom still smell?! I started to worry that maybe I was developing the sense of smell of a super hero. Was it just me?!

I mentioned it to Mike the next day.

"I'm going to just clean it Saturday, the full version. That should take care of it. It's because Hank is missing the toilet."

Ok, well, whatever. As long as the bathroom doesn't smell like a public restroom, I'm a happy camper.

That Saturday Mike cleans the bathroom. We all breathe a sigh of relief.

Shortly thereafter, I go to use it.


By this point I'm pretty freaked out (I'm not pregnant, RIGHT?!?!) so I say nothing. Mere hours later, Mike says:

"Why does the bathroom still smell?"

"I don't know, but I was wondering the same thing!"

I wanted to add, "PLEASE MAKE IT STOP" but I showed remarkable restraint and kept my mouth shut. I could hardly go in there without gagging.

A short time later, the smell was so overpowering I could think of nothing else but my bathroom.

"Honey? Did you wash the bathroom throw rugs when you cleaned in there?"

He always does, so I thought it was a rhetorical question. Apparently not.

"No. They always clog up the washing machine and I just washed them not too long ago, so I skipped it this time."

"OH. *exhales* That must be why the smell remains. We'll just have to suck it up and wash the rugs. I can do it by hand if need be."

"No, I'll toss them in the machine. I'll just clear the drain real good when they're done."

Once again, I'm relieved. That *has* to be why the bathroom still smells. The next day, when I come home from work, the rugs are in the washing machine. They are cleanly upstairs a short time later. I happily go to use the facilities.

IT STILL SMELLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was just about staggering from the fumes by this point, and by time I managed to crawl downstairs, Mike greeted me with a very serious expression and doe eyes.

"There's something terribly wrong in the upstairs bathroom."

Yes, yes, I know. By this point, I'm starting to wonder if the rivers are going to turn to blood and pestilence run rampant through the land. Mike looks sheepish.

"I should have thought of this before, but maybe we should change out the toilet seat. Maybe pee is getting stuck somewhere in there."

I don't know, but by this point I was willing to do anything short of dynamiting the bathroom to rid it of the vile stench. "Lived in" I can live with. "Smells like the New York City subway station where I once saw a homeless man urinate right onto the floor" is another thing altogether.

The next day, Mike had procured a new toilet set cover and installed it. Soon thereafter, a cinnamon scented candle burned from atop the toilet tank.

It still smelled. But not nearly as eye-wateringly.

I let a little time go by, and the smell seemed to dissipate. So maybe it was the toilet seat. We've already had a gentle talking-to with Hank about the importance of proper aim. Because for the love of all that is holy, we can't go through this again.

We'll have to move.