Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

I've been a little bit chattier on here than I anticipated during my time off. It helps that we got a lot of snow (no motivation to actually drive anywhere or otherwise go outside other than to frolic in the snow) and that I've been able to snag the laptop several tims during Anne's nap. At any rate, we're bound for Mass this evening, and I'm all excited that I've managed to get my husband to Mass 3 times in the past 3 weeks.

*rubs hands together evilly*

I had Children's Liturgy of the Word yesterday and it was a very small, but sweet, crowd. My friend from last time wasn't there, and come to think of it, that was the first time I had ever seen her before. I wonder if she was just visiting. For whatever reason, Children's Liturgy has felt more natural to me this year, and it's ironic because I was seriously considering discontinuing my participation in the program given a few challenging weeks (read: ready to gouge own eyeballs out before we even got to the Creed) last year. I'm also looking to find an additonal role that I can play in our parish, but I feel like God hasn't yet revealed to me what that should be. I don't want anything that would keep me away from home too much on a regular basis, but I feel like I have more to give in terms of service. But I tend to rush into things full steam ahead once I get an idea into my head, and I know I just need to wait. Something will present itself when the time is right.

Those are my musings for New Year's Eve 2012. :) We're making a nice meal at home and watching a movie with Henry tonight. Champagne for Mike and I, a Shirley Temple for Hank. Talk to you all in a few days, in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jammied up, and happy

I go back to work on Wednesday, and I can't believe how quickly my time off has gone. We've been getting this winter storm that has been in the news, which is just fine with me, but it's meant that I've spent a LOT of time in my pajamas and new Christmas slippers entertaining the kids inside. Henry will go out to play in the snow, and has the proper garments to do so, but Anne doesn't. We need to get her some boots. But it's been very cozy and pleasant. Mike and I have been watching lots of new movies that we received for Christmas in the evenings, and we've had several fires. I've been knitting a lot, and reading.

The kids have been enjoying their new gifts, and with the 2 sets of grandparents, it was quite a task to get everything organized and put away. We always do a big sweep in November every year to donate things that the kids are no longer playing with and other things that we no longer need to our local St. Vincent DePaul Center. And thank goodness for that. We're grateful, to be sure, but the toy avalanche can get a little overwhelming. :)

So far, Anne seems to be enjoying her new toy mailbox, and her play food with accompanying microwave the most. Henry is putting together lots of new Legos. Both kids seem to really like their new books, as well as their new saint peg dolls! I had to take St. Therese's head out of Anne's mouth a few times, but otherwise they are unharmed. Even after Henry lined them up to knock down with one of his cars. They are now safely resting on his bedside table. :)

As for me, I'm contemplating what to get with my Knit Picks gift cards and happily planning deep winter projects. I have some things for my twin nephews in mind. I get very jealous when other people knit for them, and hearing that they had new booties spurred me to let my sister know to expect a package soon with new baby leg warmers and crocheted toys to be in her mailbox by the end of January.

Oh! And I received a brand new personal retreat/Marian consecration book from my older sister that I plan to start next month and that I will detail here. So fun!

Lots to look forward to in the new year. I will report in again mid-week! Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A lovely Christmas...

Well, it's December 26th. That used to seem like a sad day to me, but now I know that the Christmas season only just begins on December 25th and I see things a lot differently. It's much happier this way. :)

It was a very nice, much less chaotic Christmas this year (wine will do that for me). Everybody was well behaved at Christmas Eve Mass. Anne looked stunning in a purple velvet dress. Only on Christmas day, she took one look at the fuzzy trimmed red Mrs. Claus dress I was about to put on her and shouted "No No No!" There's only so many fancy dresses Anne can take.

The kids loved their gifts, and I received a new green iPod Nano from Mike, very needed for my dance performances. I also got some new books (including a book of knitted sock patterns for all 4 seasons, and amigurumi crochet animals) and clothes. I'm a very happy girl.

We're all persevering very well on our Christmas staycation, and it's currently snowing up a storm outside! I'm quite cozy tucked in here with Mike as the children (blissfully) sleep.

I hope that everyone had a nice holiday and is happily making new years plans. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Adventures in wrapping...

CL: "I really appreciate that you're helping me, Sweetie, but I have a *system* when I wrap."

Mike: "A system? Well, we want to get done before I have to go pick up Hank from school. I'll start with this one."

CL: "Ok, well, that's a Santa gift, so try to disguise your handwriting on the tag."

*A moment of silence while Mike digests this, and decides to humor me*

Mike: "Ok."

*sounds of wrapping*

Mike: "I'm done with this one. So I'm putting 'Santa' on the tag?"

CL: "Yes. Oh! You used that blue wrapping paper?"

Mike: "Yeah, why? It has Santas on it, I figured that was good for Santa gifts."

CL: "Well, but I've wrapped *other* gifts with that that weren't Santa gifts. He might notice."

Mike: "I really don't think he'll notice,Sweetie. Plus, the gig is up on Santa after this Christmas anyway, we agreed, so it doesn't matter."
CL: "I know, but..."

*CL desperately thinks of her usual, organized System, though realizes that it would take twice as long*

Mike: "All right, I"ll wrap this giant one next. Where's the extra long rolls of paper?"

CL: "Over there, but only use the polar bears, not the penguins. Wait! Remember, polar bears? That's the extra large Santa paper. Bears, only."

*Mike gives a long suffering sigh*

*CL huffily tries to tie ribbon around some crocheted dish cloths*

Mike: "What's wrong?"

CL: "This ribbon is *ridiculous*. In this entire roll, I could only fully wrap one set of dish cloths! Not to mention that this polar bear paper sucks. We're not getting Christmas supplies at Target again next year."

*CL porkily tries to tape the ribbon rather than tie it in order to conserve yardage*

CL: "Great, now I've got glitter all over my pants. Do we have time to vacuum before Hank gets home? Did I mention that I hate this chintzy ribbon?"

Nothing like getting into the Christmas spirit...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hoping for some snow, and about to embark on my Christmas staycation...

Today is my last day at work until January 2nd, I'll be on a "staycation" for almost 2 weeks, which will be really nice. I was remarking to Mike recently that we have never taken a family vacation. Which is fine, really. I mean, I'd rather have our current, flexible job situation than have more money and thus be able to afford vacations (where you actually go someplace, that is :)). Someday, maybe. But I'm also a person that HATES crowded places, hence my moratorium on ever going to Disney World ever again. EVER. And I mean it. I actually hate Disney World, I don't care how many cute cartoon characters they have there. We'd like to do some things like go to Vermont to see the fall foliage, or maybe go to Hershey Park (in the middle of the winter, ha!). Maybe someday.

We're a little nuts in that we really like cold weather. Mike and I talk about driving up to the Ice Hotel in Quebec for our anniversary (in January) one year. I think we're quite abnormal, actually.

And so, you won't see blog posts for about a week and a half, but I promise, I'm coming back. :) We're down to a single decrepit computer at home (hoping to get a new one soon) and although we have high speed Internet, the age of the computer makes things pretty slow going. Plus, we're all sharing it, so I just have little motivation to carve out the time to attempt to compose thoughtful posts when I don't have access to my speedy work machine. I'm battling Anne trying to climb on me and rip letters from the keyboard, Hank whining about when it'll his turn to play a game, and sharing time with Mike who uses the computer to actually work. It's a very competitive computer world in our house.

But happily, we are in for some snow, FINALLY! We haven't had significant snowfall in western New York since I was pregnant with Anne. Yes, seriously! This region is known for it's snowfall (although, for the metro area, that reputation is actually unfair; south of here is where the major accumulations occur, and as one would expect, that is the ski country) but the past winter and so far this year have been uncharacteristically mild. Read: muddy and overcast. I'd much rather have snow, especially in December. I'm hoping that we get snowed in. :) In such a case, I have plenty of yarn and books on my Kindle. I won't be bored for a moment, no sir.

I'm *almost* done with my Christmas shopping, although I still have the majority of my wrapping to do. I'm aiming to get that done tomorrow morning while Henry is in school. I'm very much looking forward to Christmas with the children this year. This will be Anne's second Christmas, but really the first one in which she'll be interactive and into it.

If there are short things that I can share while I'm off I will post then. But expect me back on January 2nd with new and amusing tales. Most of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS and happy new year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A calm season of holiday knitting

Isn't he precious? His name is Mitten, and I made him for our knitting group Christmas exchange gift. It was very had to part with him, but he went to a very good home with my friend Nancy. I still have yarn leftover, so I'd like to make another one for myself, I just don't know when I'll get to it.

And in other knitting news, my holiday knitting is...DONE!

I did very well this year. No big projects to tackle, just a few toys for the kids, and a very few accessories for requesting family members. Here is Henry's hippo that he asked for:

He turned out pretty well. I'm also working on finishing up various works-in-progress so that I have a fresh knitting slate for the new year. The pair of mittens that has been sitting on the file cabinet in my office since September. The 2 sweaters on the needles, although that raises an unfortunate point...

The Christmas tweed sweater is being quite belligerent. Here is the anatomy of a doomed project, as evolved from the original ball of yarn to the final incomplete, yet hated item:

(1) I cast on. I immediately loathe the unconventional ribbing that the pattern calls for, because it's taking me at least 3 times as long to do it, but I persevere. It *does* look pretty.

(2) I get through the ribbing and breathe a sigh of relief. I begin to happily knit stockinette stitch in the round.

(3) I soon discover that my gauge is way off. It's much smaller than the pattern calls for, and I'm already knitting the smallest size (a mistake!) I mean, I usually wear a small, but an extra small is being extremely optimistic; I just wanted the knitting to go faster (definitely a mistake!). But I don't want to start over, so I keep going. (!*#$!)

(4) I try the sweater body on and it *does* fit so I again feel relieved. I'm getting nervous about the sleeves, but I set those thoughts aside.

(5) I cast on for the first sleeve, and once again am confronted with that insidiously freakish ribbing for the cuff. I push on.

(6) The sleeve takes far too long because I keep not knitting it (because I hate it). It also seems far too narrow due to my small gauge. It does fit over my hand, but I'm worried that it won't be completely comfortable. I seethe.

(7) I force myself to finish the sleeve, vowing not to cast on for anything new until I finish up all these unfinished projects (and purposefully not thinking about sleeve #2). The pattern calls for me to graft the sleeve to the body of the sweater at the underarm. I graft. Except...

(8) Something must go amiss and now my efforts to rejoin my sweater in the round incorporating in the sleeve is horribly awry. I re-start again and again, and nothing seems to work. I must have grafted the sleeve in the wrong position somehow.


To pick back the grafted stitches appears to be the straw that will break this sweater's back. It was already not on my good side, and now it's sitting in a pile on my desk and I'm glaring at it. I've threatened to unravel it, and it seems unmoved. It has clearly taken the offensive and is still refusing to cooperate. I'm now looking at new sweater patterns in retaliation, but the thought of ripping it out and starting anew is making me huffy.

So there you have it. I think I'm just going to let it sit over my Christmas vacation and deal with it after the first of the year. These major decisions can't be made quickly. In the meantime, I'm finishing my mittens and working on Karen's gift, so I'll be plenty busy.

Oh! And in other crafting news, I have found my way to the Catholic board on Ravelry. How did I not know about this before?! I mean, they're having an Advent and Christmas knit-along and all autumn were working on knitting Advent calendars and garland. Seriously, how could I miss this?! THIS IS SO ME.

Well, I'm an official member now and plan to participate in all the fun Catholic Crafting Revelry. I'm super excited.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some soothing stuff, as we all struggle to move on

My heart is still very heavy today, and I don't see any let-up for that. I've been praying my 7 Sorrows Chaplet and just generally praying more and spending more time with my kids. We all feel very vulnerable right now, and I think it's important to do our best to just double our efforts to spread love and joy in this world of ours. So I'm doing my best.

You'll see on my right sidebar that I used the Random Saint Generator to select a new blog saint for 2013...

*drum roll*

The Life of a Catholic Librarian blog saint for 2013 is St. Isidore the Farmer!

Right, I hadn't heard of him before either.

But click on his photo to be taken to a description. :) And I don't think it's a coincidence that he was married and had a child who died. One of his patronages is against the death of children.

St. Isidore, pray for us all.

In other news, Anne has decided that changing her diaper is now a sport she's lobbying to have entered into the 2016 Summer Olympics:

Octopus Wrestling

Flip! Attempt to hold down legs! Oh wait, arms are now pulling hair! Flip! Squawking! Pin down torso to remove pants! Re-flip! Threats are now issued! Daddy may be called! Hold down legs! Must remain strong for the wiping round! And for the gold medal clinch...

Do the whole thing without getting poo on (1) self, or (2) the wall!

This has renewed my vow for early potty training.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I don't always address major news stories on this blog, because I see this as a mostly light-hearted "life blog", and I figure we all get inundated with bad news in so many other arenas. We all need a break from that sometimes, you know?

But I'm having an extremely difficult time (as I'm certain you all are as well) dealing with this school shooting in Connecticut. Friday morning and early afternoon I was blissfully knitting away at my friend Stacy's house for our group Christmas party. I was surrounded by support and love. We were talking about what a particularly wonderful week it had been for our group, with lots of laughs and good times. We ate, we drank, we exchanged gifts, we listened to Christmas music.

Then I got home and heard what had happened. I felt numb and weepy for the rest of the day. I couldn't put on the news. I dreaded seeing the newspaper the next morning. But I had to find out more about it eventually, so I read. And I go between crying at the drop of a hat to being so angry. I knew, I just KNEW that the shooter would have committed suicide. He can't just kill himself, he has to shatter the lives and families of dozens of other people.

And the fact of the matter is that all of us want to live long happy lives, right? Nowadays, I think that anybody that passes away before the age of 90 is very young. :) I tend to think of myself at age 37 as still very young. But children? There is something so much deeper, so much more primal, in our love and protection of them. And somebody killing 6 and 7 year old babies is beyond comprehension. Do I want somebody to kill and/or torture me? Of course not. But I would rather that in a heartbeat before something happening to a child. The loss of a child for a parent is unspeakable. Time may make that wound somewhat less paralyzing, but nothing will ever fill that void. Nothing.

Part of it is because children are innately so loving and innocent. And you can't help it, when you see another parent lose their child, you think to yourself, "that could be me. That could be my child." And you grieve for them to the very depths of your soul. Henry is the exact age of some of the children that died.

One of the articles that I read this weekend recounted a teacher shepherding her flock into the class bathroom and locking them all inside. The children were scared and crying. One of them said:

"I just want Christmas. I want us all to be ok and just go home and have Christmas."

I lost it and broke down sobbing. The pure innocence of that statement, the simple childhood joy of Christmas. He didn't want his short life snuffed out without enjoying the day he looked forward to all year. That's what childhood is all about, memories of meaningful events and family get-togethers like we do at Christmas. I don't know about you, but I don't remember much about my day-to-day life as a child. But I remember Christmas. I have tons of memories of different Christmases throughout the years.

I keep crying about this and I don't know when I'll ever be able to stop. I woke up at 4 am this morning and thought about those tiny, precious lives and worried over their last moments.

Friday night, as I was driving home from dance practice, I stopped for a red light next to a Catholic church. Right next to my car was their glass enclosed, life sized nativity scene. All of the figures were bent so lovingly over the Child, their faces filled with beautiful detail of their amazed joy. It gave my grieving heart a few moments of peace.

Sunday, I was on duty for Children's Liturgy of the Word. And wouldn't you know it, I got a huge crowd, including one little girl that I could tell from the outset was going to be a challenge. Not only that, but I had forgotten my preparation sheet at home, so I was totally improvising. And you know, it WAS a challenge, but I was up for it, and it went really, really well. I clued in fairly quickly that the challenging little girl wasn't simply misbehaving. There was definitely a deeper behavioral issue going on. So, instead of feeling annoyed and overwhelmed, I showered her with as much loving attention as I could. She was definitely distracting to the other kids, but sometimes that's just the way it is. I think that she got something out of the session, but more importantly, *I* got something very important from her. Children are not always going to listen, or behave, or generally do what we'd like them to do. But they are *always* a blessing to us, we sometimes just have to listen to them more closely to determine what they need and what God is trying to teach us through them.

When I finished up, I told the little girl that I had a job for her, that I needed her help passing out the weekly worksheets. She sprang into action:

"Oh! Yes, I'll take half."

That just warmed my heart. And she passed them out like a champ, not even keeping one for herself.

I learned a lot from her on Sunday.

I have other things that I can share with you from my weekend, more normal, everyday things. But I won't share them today. Today I'm working to come to a peace within myself about what happened, trying to figure out how I can pray more and be a better parent to my beautiful children. I have a chaplet of the 7 Sorrows of Mary that I just looked up how to pray and I'm going to pray that later.

It's still Advent. And we're still waiting with expectant joy for the coming of our Savior.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still sick, but having a happy Advent

Whatever it is that I have is lingering on and on. Anne seems to be on the mend, but now Henry is saying that his throat hurts a bit and he definitely sounds stuffy. These are my exact symptoms. And he and I were already sick about a week and a half ago!

*sniffles daintily*

At least Anne slept last night, which meant that I got to sleep. Not getting enough sleep certainly makes things a lot worse when one is sick. She's still in a pretty saucy mood, but things were a bit easier this morning.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting. I'm finishing up a gift for my sister, and I'm going to make my dad a hat next. He's a fisherman and needs lots of heavy wool for warmth since he fishes in the winter. I also have 2 sweaters on the needles, and I think I've come to the conclusion that the red tweed sweater I was trying to finish for Christmas day simply isn't going to be done by then.

*moment of silence*

I mean, I knew the chances of that were likely. I just bought a dress at Kohl's (they're having a sale :)) that I can wear instead. It's the sleeves I tell you, the SLEEVES! Long sleeves get me every time. I'll be whipping through the body and then I get to the sleeves and BAM! Sweater sits for the next 6-12 months. I get so bored knitting sleeves. We'll get there.

I also have plans in the new year for the Jimmy Beans Downton Abbey KAL, Karrie's memorial Lady Edith shawl that I mentioned yesterday, and an after-Christmas exchange gift with my beloved friend Karen. I'm plotting that one out right now, and I'm all giddy with new pattern ideas. And I'll finish the 2 sweaters. I promise.


I've also been an excellent girl and using stash yarn.


Because I really do have plenty of yarn, 2 storage bins full. The only short term purchase plans I have are for things that truly don't exist in my stash. Our tree skirt is looking bedraggled, and I'd like to knit us a new one for next Christmas. I found a gorgeous pattern, but obviously I do not have a boatload of red and green worsted weight yarn in my stash. I'd also like to knit a warm blanket for our couch. I do have a few afghans that I've crocheted, but a crocheted fabric lets in a lot more chilly air. :) I'm hoping for some Knit Picks gift cards for Christmas *angelic smile* and maybe I can get yarn for these 2 projects sometime in January or February.

In other news, last night I finished Jan Karon's Shepherd's Abiding. So good! When the book reaches its climax at the end, I always cry. Now I'm contemplating whether or not I should download the pope's infancy narrative book or not, still haven't pulled the trigger on that. But I'm still reading several Christmas-themed Love Inspired books on my Kindle, so those are making me happy. If you haven't read any Harlequin's Love Inspired line, I encourage you to do so if you like romance books. The regular Love Inspired's are contemporary fiction, but they also have a historical line and a suspense line, which is my favorite. These are very sweet Christian romances, and if you have a Kindle, on Amazon they are super cheap. Once they are published on the first of every month, the price drops to either $2.99 or $3.82 per book. If your ereader can work with epub format books, you can download them right from Harlequin a month early. Those of us with Kindles are not so lucky. :) But it's all good. I love them.

Anyway, my Christmas party with my fabulous knitting group is tomorrow and I'm taking the day off to drink, knit and be merry (and hoping that I feel better by then!). I will post pictures of the gift I knitted for our exchange on Monday, and trust me, it's SMASHING. I want it for myself, actually.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A tribute

I made it through the night, but barely. The Christmas concert was smashing, actually. It was shorter than last year, and it was quite lovely. I liked all the songs that they chose. Hank looked adorable in his red Christmas sweater, and his class sang "When Will the Little King Come?". And we concluded with a prayer. I love that he goes to Catholic school.

The overnight with Anne was TOUGH. I don't even want to write anymore about it, it was that miserable. It didn't help that I was also not feeling good. I'm just glad that it's morning, I made it, and Anne is not listed for adoption this morning. I'm still not feeling 100%, but it doesn't help that I haven't gotten enough sleep in about 2 years. I may leave work early today.

At any rate, I was on the reference desk this morning, and since I had no business whatsoever, I went on Ravelry to try and find a pattern to make my dad a hat for Christmas. After I was done, I checked in quickly with the forums. For some reason, today I got the urge to scroll down to the boards I don't check in on as frequently. One of them is "Friends of KnitPurlGurl."

KnitPurlGurl (not Abi of the self-patterning yarn fame on etsy, who also goes by knitpurlgurl) is a woman named Karrie whose blog and podcast I have followed for a long time. She's a knitter and designer, a very sweet and interesting person. She moved to a video podcast a year or so ago, and then I couldn't listen anymore since I have an older iPod Nano version that doesn't support video. But she had a board on Ravelry that I belonged to, and in November 2011 I participated in a knit-along/giveaway that she sponsored, and I won! I received a skein of yarn from Storied Yarns on etsy. I never met her in person, but she was a person that I followed online that I felt that I knew.

Anyway, so this morning. I scrolled down to her Ravelry board and I see a post entitled "Sad News." I click on it. Karrie passed away. :( She was 38! There aren't a lot of details, but she apparently had a seizure. She has a husband and 2 small children.

I couldn't believe it, I thought at first that the woman in the post must be referring to someone else! Karrie had written a blog post just 6 days prior to her death. Her and her family had recently relocated from the Pittsburgh area to Vermont, and she was so happy there. Her son has autism, and she said that the school district they were now in was unbelievably wonderful in setting up services that he needed. She loved her new knitting community and just sounded extremely content.

I feel just awful. I saw on her Ravelry board that some of her friends set up a memorial knit-along, and I'm going to take part. I have that yarn that I won via her, and she has several shawls that she designed which call for fingering weight yarn. I think I'm going to knit her shawl design called "The Lady Edith," another Downton Abbey inspired design. It'll make me think of Karrie when I knit it and wear it.

I'm anxious to cast on for this, I'm just finishing up a few Christmas gifts. It made me think about the fact that life is short, so very short. And we never know what day will be our last. Life is never something to be taken for granted.

Karrie shared the ups and downs of her life with her readers and listeners, and I feel privileged to have felt a part of it with her. I know that she was a devout Lutheran, and I ask you all to pray for her and her family. That would mean a lot to her, I'm certain. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feeling weak, and just in time for the annual Christmas concert...

I'm not certain if I'm coming down with what Anne had or what, but I'm feeling decidedly *not good*. Perhaps it was the 3 hour long seminar I sat through this morning that did me in, but whatever the cause, I feel flushed and woozy. Not a good sign. And Henry's Christmas concert is tonight, which is never a picnic to sit through. His school has no auditorium, so events are held in the church, and the pews aren't the comfortablest (is that a word?). Sigh. I just want to be at home in jammies, a cup of tea by my side.

This mystery illness also has the side effect of rendering me brainless. What else is new? I have absolutely no idea. All I know is that this Anne Removing Pants phenomenon has transferred to public spaces as well (read: restaurant last night) so we're going to have to deal with that. And she's finally saying her name and Henry's, or, at least her version of their names. So I apparently have children named "Nay" and "Hay."

I'm hoping that I live through the evening. If I do, I'll check back in tomorrow.


Monday, December 10, 2012

She'll just love reading this story when she's 18...

At the home of the Catholic Librarian this morning...

*Anne strolls into living room wearing no pants*

"Oh, you took your pants off? Do you have to go potty? Pee or poo?"

*squealing sound*

"I'll take that as a yes."

*Anne demands a tube of toothpaste to chew on while I take off her diaper*

"Ok, this is where you put pee and poo, into the potty. This is where the big girls go potty."

*I hold Anne's small form onto the regular seat, since we don't currently have a training seat*

Anne displays a wide eyed look of alarm

"Do you have to go pee or poo?"


First potty training attempt is in the books...

Second Sunday of Advent and all it's adventures...

Well, my weekend was interesting, never a dull moment in my household. Saturday morning dawned with Anne clearly feeling under the weather. In fact, Anne not feeling well dominated both days and nights of our weekend, with the telltale signs being:

(1) lots of sneezing and a runny nose,
(2) a small fever,
(3) poor sleeping,
(4) diminished appetite, and
(5) marauding around the house doing nothing but (a) sobbing, and (b) throwing things.

It was a long weekend, to say the least.

I didn't know if I was even going to make it to Mass Saturday morning for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she was just so miserable, but she settled enough for me to feel all right about leaving her with Mike (meaning, I didn't feel guilty about leaving him alone to deal with such a painful situation!) so that I could go. I went, and it was lovely.

Later, she actually seemed to perk up a bit, her fever went away, and she was drinking liquids like a champ. Mike wanted to go to the vigil Mass for the second Sunday of Advent, so we packed up both kids and went. Hence, I did end up doing 2 Masses in 1 day. :) But honestly, they felt so different from each other. It also helped that I went to 2 totally different parishes. For the vigil, we went to a historic church downtown that Mike loves. Both children were good, aside from Anne dumping her Ziploc baggie of small snacks onto the floor while we were standing up to recite the Creed. I was picking up stray raisins for the rest of Mass.

But it was really beautiful, and I'm so glad we went. By the overnight, Anne was back to her crankfest. She was a bit hoarse and was obviously feeling parched, because when she demanded my presence at 5 am in her bedroom, our conversation was as follows:


"Hi Honey, Mommy is here to..."


"We're going to snuggle and..."


She doesn't like to take no for an answer, that one. I think she is also getting a new tooth, because she's been drooling up a storm. This all led to an absolutely ABYSMAL night last night in which Anne demanded milk, threw herself onto the floor, and cried for what seemed like 30 straight minutes, all *while I'm holding her and trying to soothe her*. It was ugly.

So I'm recovering a bit today. :) She was still on a rampage this morning, so not much has improved in that regard. We'll get there.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Musings on holy days of obligation...

As a child, I distinctly remembering how I felt at Mass. Which was a definite: BORED.

I didn't understand everything that was being said, nor why it was meaningful, and I was always happy to get to the Our Father, because that meant that Mass was approximately 3/4 of the way complete. I can see this same tendency right now in my own son, which makes me a bit sad, but I'm doing what I can to explain things to him and keep him engaged in the Mass and in our Catholic faith, and I pray every day that both of my children will always remain close to Jesus and his Church. That's really all I can do.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood the Mass and consequently felt it's true power and meaning. Since that time, I've been grateful every day that I was raised in a church with a liturgy, because I love it, and it suits me so well. I used to attend daily Mass, and so wish that were an easier objective for me these days. In the end, I'm just so grateful that I have the gift of the Mass.

I read somewhere that Sunday Mass attendance amongst self-identified Catholics is approximately 25%. For holy days of obligation, the number is much, much lower. I know that there are some dioceses in which bishops chose to eliminate the obligation to attend Mass on some holy days, and instead moved the feast to the closest Sunday. Whenever I look at my Catholic calendar, printed at my parish, I seem to remember Hawaii always being mentioned :) so I believe they are one of those exception dioceses.

This is just my opinion, but I was always glad that I live in a diocese that does not move the holy days of obligation to Sundays only. I love the holy day Masses, and it gives me an excuse to make that extra effort during the week to attend Mass. The liturgy is always special on those days, and the readings particularly poignant.

There are a few holy days, however, that do not carry the option of being moved by our local bishops. The feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) is one of those holy days, because Our Lady under that name is patroness of the United States. Christmas, obviously, is another such holy day.

I have to admit, this year, the feast of the Immaculate Conception presents an awkward Mass challenge for me. The vigil is tonight, but via some very bad luck, I got stuck with the 3-5 pm reference shift this afternoon. Hence, all 4 and 5 pm vigils are out for me. I could technically make a 7 pm vigil, but I have dance class then, and you know how much I love my dance class. Obviously, if I had no other option to attend Mass, I'd have to miss my class, but happily I can go tomorrow morning, on the feast itself.

The only problem with *that* is that we wanted to go to the vigil for the second Sunday of Advent together as a family Saturday evening (Mike doesn't like going to Mass on Sunday mornings, he always prefers to go to a Saturday vigil when he attends), which would mean Mass twice in one day. And that seems less than ideal to me, like I was treating the Masses as not as special as they deserve because I'm simply packing them in to accommodate my schedule.

And so I had thought to myself for a brief time that I wished that this was one of the holy days that was moved to a Sunday (when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday, which I think all dioceses do). But I corrected myself pretty quickly. Both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the second Sunday of Advent deserve their own special Mass, they cannot be combined or one forsaken for the other. So I simply have to deal.

I'm still not sure what we'll do yet about the second Sunday of Advent. If Mike really wants to go to Mass, I'm certainly not going to turn him away, so I'll go to Mass twice on Saturday. If not, then I'll go to Mass for the second Sunday of Advent on Sunday morning. Next Sunday, I have Children's Liturgy of the Word duty, so we won't go to the vigil that week. And I know that Mike probably won't want to go to Mass as a family on the fourth Sunday of Advent because Christmas is so close and he'll be attending on Christmas Eve. *sighs* The problems of Catholic Librarians these days, I tell you.

So, my evening today and morning tomorrow will be a bit hectic. I may try to take Anne to Mass with me in the morning if (a) it won't interfere with her nap, and (b) she isn't in a foul mood and clearly on the prowl for trouble.

We'll see how it goes. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Excitement with yarn

As I've mentioned several times on this blog, I love Knit Picks for my knitting and crochet supplies. I have multiple sets of interchangeable knitting needle tips and cables from them, I bought their new wood crochet hooks (and love them!), and I buy most of my yarn from them. They have lots of selection of workhorse natural fibers (wool, alpaca, cotton), and some luxury blends to indulge in on occasion, for very reasonable prices. I know that I get more for my money with them than if I shopped in other places. When I need yarn or needles (which seems to be at least once every other month), I turn to Knit Picks. They have very friendly customer service, and our relationship is quite loving. I participate in the Knit Picks Lovers board on Ravelry. I recommend them to others. I'm rather wedded to them.

However, I have a hidden yarn secret: somewhat regularly, I have an illicit affair with Jimmy Beans Wool.

Jimmy's yarn is pricier than Knit Picks, but I was drawn to him because of a discounted Namaste knitting bag he had in stock. I bought the bag, and found that every purchase you make with Jimmy Beans gets you 5% back in store credit that you can use during the next quarter. And their customer service? Out of this world. I mean, SAINTS can't be as nice as these people, and their shipping speed is verging on the very wings of angels. Then I saw that they had that London 2012 colorway in their Lorna's Laces sock yarn and I ordered a skein, to commemorate my first successful Ravellenic Games.  Yes, it costs twice as much as I normally pay for yarn, but everybody deserves a little splurge sometimes. Suddenly, I had a little stockpile of store credit and a free shipping code to use from October until the end of December.

And oh, oh Jimmy. Seducing me with your limited edition colorways every month in the Lorna's Laces yarn, that is most unkind of you. I felt like I was sneaking around every month checking on the new color to see if I liked it. Several were pretty, but I wasn't tempted. Until last Friday.

I'm innocently scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. Suddenly, via my friendship with Jimmy's Lorna's Laces limited edition fan club, I see December's colorway. It's called "Christmas at Downton."

*keyboard activity ceases*

*brain function comes to a screeching halt*

CHRISTMAS AT DOWNTON?! I *LOVE* Downton Abbey!!! It's one of Mike's and my absolute favorite shows. And the third season begins airing in the U.S. right around our anniversary in January.*heart*

It was meant to be. I considered the sock yarn, but let's be honest. I already own A LOT of sock yarn that still needs to be knitted up into warm and comfy socks. I looked through some patterns on Ravelry and justified a skein of the worsted weight so that I can make a hooded cowl for myself. Doesn't that sound cozy for a winter project? And with my store credit and the free shipping, it was only $16. I mean, it would have been a sin to not get the yarn and let that credit go to waste.

So I ordered the worsted on Friday. And Jimmy, with his wonderful speedy shipping, had my yarn on my doorstep by Monday afternoon (and it was coming from Reno, NV!). Didn't I tell you that he is wonderful?

The colorway is *beautiful*. Pleased as punch, I tucked my new yarn into my stash to pick up again after I finish Christmas knitting.

And then came yesterday. I'm innocently (ah hem) looking for a pattern on Ravelry when I notice on the "Hot Right Now" list the following:

"Downton Abbey Mystery KAL (knit-along) with Jimmy Beans Wool."

*eyes widen*

How could I not click on that? I click on it.

Starting on January 6th, Downton's premiere date, Jimmy is hosting a mystery knit-along in which participants will receive a clue each week and knit a project together, the final product of which is a mystery until the very end. The recommended yarn is of course some of the "Christmas in Downton" colorway in a sport weight.

A mystery KAL?

*Hallelujah chorus*

I DREAM (quite literally) of good knit-alongs. I MUST DO THIS. My dignity as a knitter requires that I take part in this blessed event. There's just 1 problem.

I have no sport weight yarn.

Well, ok, that's not *completely* true. I have a few skeins of sport weight yarn, but they are ear marked for other projects. It's not like worsted weight, or sock yarn, which I have an abundance of in my (very reasonably sized, that's my story and I'm sticking to it) stash.

What to do, what to do...

Somehow, it was all a blur I can't remember the details, the "Christmas in Downton" Sportmate yarn that the KAL mentions jumped into my cart. I swear I don't know how it happened. 1 skein is $24.50.


But you see, Jimmy, with his smooth talking ways, was already working on me. You only need 1 skein to make the mystery item, he whispers in my ear, and if you can get free shipping...

I'm on the email list to my knitting group in seconds. Anybody want to take part in the Mystery KAL, I ask? There's a brief silence, and then a flurry of happy responses. Anybody want to order the yarn?

There was some negotiation involving consideration of existing stash yarn, but Jimmy worked his wiles with them as well. Next thing you knew, everybody was in for a skein of Sportmate and together we had free shipping.

The yarn is actually out of stock, but is on order. Jimmy wrote right back to me to tell me he was sorry that he didn't have the yarn ready to ship out immediately, but that it would arrive in 1-2 weeks. He thanked me for my patience. We sent Jimmy a kiss.

It will arrive in plenty of time for the KAL, and meanwhile excitement is building in my knitting group.

This is the most fabulous development in my knitting life since the Ravellenic Games. I AM RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED. So expect lots of Downton Abbey and knit-along talk this January and February. I'm just lettin' you know now. I'll keep you posted every step of the way.

Karen, want to join us? *evil smile*

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent reading

Every 1-2 years, I pull Jan Karon's Shepherd's Abiding off my bookshelf and read it during Advent. I've read it so many times that I skipped last Advent lest the story start to feel too predictable to me, and I happily pulled it out on Sunday.

I've read every book in the Mitford series and enjoyed all of them, but this is my absolute favorite book of the bunch. The series chronicles Fr. Tim, an Episcopalian priest who works in a small town church located in the hills of North Carolina. Assorted other townspeople are featured as well, and the stories are very charming. Some of the books are better than others, but overall I loved the series and recommend it.

Shepherds Abiding takes place during a Mitford Advent, and has our Fr. Tim happening upon a neglected antique nativity scene and spontaneously deciding to purchase and restore it as a Christmas gift for his wife. Nativity sets had played a memorable role in both of their childhoods, and this ragamuffin set captures his imagination as a project to work on leading up to, and during, Advent.

I can't tell you how happy I feel when I read this book. I usually read books on my Kindle these days, but I bought this in print years ago, and I have to say, this is a book that I would only read in print. There are a few beautiful color illustrations included and the cover art inspires me just to look at it. I am keeping it on my night stand this year and only allowing myself to read it before falling asleep to guarantee that it will last me for all of Advent.

Fr. Tim is an endearing character, and he's intimidated by the plaster work and painting involved in restoring his set, especially since his wife is a successful artist. Restoring the set is important to healing his heart toward his deceased (and emotionally distant) father, as well a true gift of the heart for his wife. I loved reading about the research he did to get each piece of the nativity just right in its color and look. 

Definitely a book to check out this Advent. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A knitting frenzy

Things are much more subdued in my knitting life this year (as opposed to last year's frantic dash to the finish line) but I've still been very busy in the evenings. I thought I'd post a few of my recent creations.

I love knitting a warm wool cardigan for Anne each winter. This year, I used the yarn from a wool sampler that I had bought, so it was a nice way to use up single balls in different colors:

And I made her some mittens to match her cupcake hat:

This bunny lovey is for her Christmas stocking:

I hope he doesn't look too angry, does he? Mouth embroidery is not my forte. I have a stuffed hippo that Henry asked for in the works as well. I had to change patterns on that one (the first pattern looked great at first, but once I actually started crocheting I realized that it was hieroglyphic-like in its instructions; once the f-bombs start flying in my head, I know that I need to change patterns, that's very reasonable, is it not?) but the re-started hippo in the new pattern looks fine so far.

I'm also knitting away on my sweater. When I went to Maine, Mike was teasing me about the sheer volume of yarn that I packed, and how much consideration I placed into each individual ball that I included.

"You're going to be helping with twins, do you really think you're going to have a lot of knitting time?"

He was right, of course. :) But I did knit a lot in the airport, so it was ALL worth it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

First Sunday of Advent 2012

We had a lovely First Sunday of Advent 2012, and you can see our brand new nativity Advent wreath above. Like every Advent wreath that I've ever owned, the candles tip a bit in the cups, however, they still seem secure in this one, so I'll take it. I know that there is a trick you can do to mold the wax at the bottom of the candles so that they fit into the cups easier, but I would have to do some actual research to uncover that. :) In the background, you can also see our wooden Advent calendar. I'll need to replace this one eventually, it's getting pretty beat up, but for now it still works.

I dug up an Advent wreath blessing prayer on my Kindle edition of the Magnificat Advent Companion and Henry and I blessed the wreath, and lit the first candle. Henry wasn't the best participant, but he's caught some early winter bug and was looking peaked all weekend. He's home from school today and looked just pathetic this morning, poor babe.

At any rate, I'm very happy on this second day of Advent, and am looking forward to further prayer and study. I've heard that the pope's new book on the infancy narrative is a good Advent read. Has anybody picked this up yet?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Let it snow!

After an unusually mild winter last year, I'm literally thrilled that it is currently snowing outside. We had a dusting earlier this week, but this is real, accumulating snowfall.

*doe-eyed look of happiness*

I'm planning lots of knitting, this weekend, and we're having some friends over for dinner tomorrow night. Because I enjoy giving myself unrealistic expectations and unreasonable goals, I'm attempting to knit a sweater that I can wear on Christmas Eve. Did I mention that I started it 2 days ago? And as opposed to my Ravellenic Games sweater, this has full long sleeves.


We'll see how this works out for me.

Advent starts this Sunday! Can't wait to get all the calendars and the wreath going. We're getting our Christmas tree as well this weekend, and will decorate the house. Very excited. I will post an update on Monday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

St. Joseph coming through at Christmastime...

One of the books that I'm putting in Anne's stocking this Christmas is the final installment in the St. Joseph board book series that we don't own, Daily Prayers. I included this with my big Amazon order last week and it just came. It's *adorable*. When Hank was a toddler, I ordered the rest of the series from the publisher, Catholic Book Publishing company, and you can see the full list of titles that they now have in this series here.

We have the ones that are toward the bottom of Catholic Book Publishing's list, the larger books with the big handle at the top. The toddlers *love* toting these around. Anne has been bringing them to me for weeks now, wanting to sit in my lap and flip through them with me. Her favorites are Our Guardian Angels and Our Friends the Saints. Henry was always partial to We Go To Mass and Gifts of God.

These are such cute books that I wanted to give a quick plug for them, and they would make great stocking stuffers for your little ones. They're easy for the kids to carry around and can take a lot of abuse. My children really enjoy the color illustrations. I always brought a selection of them to Mass with us when Hank was little. Anne still rarely makes it to Mass with us because the 10 am Mass is usually coinciding with her nap so Mike stays home with her. So for the time being, the books live in her toy basket and she brings them out every day.

My only quibble is the page featuring a guardian angel watching over a little girl as she stands on a stool and uses the stove top without parental supervision. Although the text cites that her angel is watching out for her, I'm thinking we shouldn't be giving the kids any ideas. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A busy bee with Christmas shopping

In the spirit of the holiday (New Years resolution 2012: no crazy, chaotic Christmas season this year) I started my Christmas shopping a few months ago. Not a lot, but I picked up some things when I could so that we wouldn't have a lot to do in December. This also has the benefit of spreading out the expense.

Christmas is always tight for us financially. We live on a budget, and while we certainly have a sufficient amount to spend on entertainment and simply our "wants," we're always conservative about such things and watching our bank balance. Sometimes I feel like, being in our late 30's, we should be past this stage in our lives :) but alas, I think it is this way for many, many people. The reasons are manifold:

(1) Student loans. This is far and away the main reason, nothing else even comes close. I made a significant dent in mine even before Mike and I got married, and we've steadily chipped away at them over the years to the best of our ability, but it's a very depressing and humbling reality that it's going to take at least 10 *more* years before these are paid. I know that we are not alone in this burden. I'm grateful that we do not have credit card debt and we just put as much on the student loans every month as we can. Every time the principal balance shrinks I try to focus on the positives of that rather than how far we still have to go. That's all one can do.

(2) We own a house and thus have a mortgage. But I'm grateful for our house and the fact that it will be paid off in about 10 years is a cause to rejoice. I'm also grateful that although we own 2 cars they are both paid off, though we're going to need to replace at least 1 of them in the next few years.

(3) Our flexible jobs. If we were willing to move and for Mike to work more hours, we'd certainly be making more. But we want to be near our families and have one of us at home with the kids as much as possible.

Thus, Christmas is tough on our budget, especially now with 2 kids. Hence, this year I wanted to really focus on the thought behind the gifts that I give, rather than worrying about whether I'm getting each person "enough." I've found this to be very soothing on my peace of mind.

I'm making a few things, but I'm trying not to go overboard. I love homemade gifts, but last year I made myself nuts, so I didn't want that side effect either. The things that I am making are by special request so I know that the recipient will really like them. Otherwise, I've picked out 1 thing that I think the person will really enjoy.

With the kids it's tougher. You just want to give them everything they could ever want and watch their eyes light up. But of course, we won't, yet I still want Christmas morning to be fun for them.

What I decided to do was select their gifts very carefully. And even this winnowed down allotment added up quickly over at Amazon! We can afford it, but it's why December and January are so tough anymore. Each child is getting 3 gifts. Henry is receiving 2 Lego sets he's been wanting, plus a Super Mario Bros. K'nex building set, I think it's a race track. Anne is getting a talking zoo, a Fisher Price mailbox, and the Disney Princess Castle. Each child is also getting a few books, Henry a few movies, and Anne a tiny baby doll, for their stockings. I also have a few peg saint dolls for each child from Cam's etsy shop (I just ordered St. Joan of Arc and St. Patrick for Anne, she's taken a real interest in her saint board book and has fixated on those two; appropriate since one of her namesakes is St. Therese, and St. Joan of Arc was her favorite saint :)).

And that's it. I ordered a few books and movies for Mike that I know he'll love, and I made him a pair of socks recently.

He's a Steelers fan. :) I still have a few other family gifts to procure, but I'm not stressing. I'll get a few at a time, and pick one carefully for each person.

I've noticed that I feel a lot more relaxed this holiday season. I don't feel all worried and frantic. And that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent preparations 2012

This past Sunday I was the catechist for Children's Liturgy of the Word for the feast of Christ the King. The first thing that I excitedly talked about with the kids (before we got into the theme of Christ's kingship) was that this was the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Just six short days from then, we would begin Advent.

I'm reviewing the book that you see above for Catholic Library World, and I have to say this one is lovely. The author mentions in the introduction how Advent is a time of "ancient expectancy of the Messiah" which is just lovely, no? For each day of Advent, she includes a quote from the Mass readings, a reflection on a Christmas tradition, a suggested family activity, and a prayer. It's very inexpensive at $7.99, you might want to check it out. :) The pages are all in color, it's just beautiful.

We just established the Children's Liturgy schedule for December, and I'm on again December 16th, the Third Sunday of Advent; excited! I was thrilled to secure Gaudete Sunday, so that I can talk to the children about the pink candle; they always love that. :)

Our parish also set up the Giving Tree this past Sunday and Henry picked off a card for us. This year, I asked if he would like to donate some money from his piggy bank toward the gift to the child that he chose off the tree. He agreed, so we'll get buying something over the next few weeks. He can then put it under the tree. We pick a card off the Giving Tree each year, and I think for children this is an excellent opportunity to teach them about stewardship and charity.

Other things that we are doing this Advent:

(1) Lighting our Advent Wreath - We do this every year, and Henry loves the tradition. After struggling with finding a wreath in which the candles will not tip over, this year I purchased this one from Christian Book Distributors:

The candles sit in these little cups and they *look* secure to me, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I also have fresh taper candles all ready to go. This wreath also has a spot in the middle for a white Christ candle in votive form. I'm going to round one up so that we can light it on Christmas Day, Henry has already asked about this. :)

(2) Open Advent Calendars - Yes, that is plural. Henry loves Advent calendars. He has a chocolate calendar, a Lego calendar (secular, but he loves it) and we have a wood calendar. I toyed with getting Anne a cloth calendar, but didn't pull the trigger. Fisher Price makes one. Maybe next year. She'd most likely just want to eat the pieces anyway.

(3) Put out Nativity Sets - Henry's new Fontanini set is a big hit, even Anne loves it. She squats down next to it and says "Chee!" which is her word for Jesus. It's quite precious, as you can imagine. We also have the Fisher Price nativity set which we'll set out for Anne. I think she'll really enjoy playing with it this year, especially since she has several Christmas board books that we look through together and I identify all of the people in the nativity scene for her.

(4) A Prayer Routine - I'd like to do this, maybe with the above book. Mike puts Hank to bed (I tackle Anne) so I don't have a regular bedtime prayer regimen going with Henry. This would be a good opportunity to start one on as many nights as I can.

I'm hoping that Henry comes home with an Advent project from school as well. Last year he had an Advent prayer chain that he had to hang up and take a link off each day after saying our prayers. It was really cute.

I really want this Advent to be serene and happy, not chaotic in any way. I've already decided to make Christmas gift giving a lot simper this year (more on that tomorrow) so we're off to a good start.

As we approach Advent, I wanted to draw everyone's attention to Michelle's link-up via her blog Liturgical Time.

This link is also posted on the right navigation bar on my blog for the season. There is a collection of Advent-related posts here for any interested readers. :) I'm going to try and link this post up to it and any others that I write this Advent.

It's a beautiful winter day here in western New York and I hope that everybody is enjoying this special time of year!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A stuffing crisis and explosive poo - Thanksgiving 2012

I always aim to be funny on this blog, but let me just start out on a serious note by saying that I had an absolutely *fantastic* Thanksgiving weekend. I loved being home with Mike and the kids and it was just sublime. I feel very blessed that Mike and I both have such flexible jobs in that we get to be home so much with each other as a family.

Now I'm back at work and it's Cyber Monday and I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you to say that I don't know if I'll be doing my traditional sale yarn order. Could it be, dear reader, that I ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH YARN?! Let's be honest, I have a lot of yarn. But I can never resist sale yarn. However, what I knit most with is worsted weight wool and cotton, and nothing that I really wanted over at Knit Picks is on sale. There is a bunch of cotton on sale, but it's winter, and I really wanted some wool. It seems like mostly sport weight is on sale and I just rarely use sport weight. I mean, I can't believe this.

It's good, though. I bought a bunch of yarn during their summer sale and I can use the money toward Christmas gifts. Now that Advent starts this coming weekend, I'll talk a lot this week about the Christmas season, I have a lot on my mind about that lately. And I've missed you all! So expect lots of lengthy posts this week. :)

Ok, so a recap of this past weekend and the inevitable hilarity that ensues on holidays in my household. We were hosting Thanksgiving this year, and in my eagerness I decided to make stuffing from scratch, which I've never done before. I'm a big fan of Stove Top. But I wanted to feel all pioneer woman and since Mike mostly takes care of our turkey, I decided to contribute the stuffing.

I scoured the Internet for the perfect recipe. There are lots of delicious varieties out there, but I just wanted plain white bread stuffing. Turns out it's not so hard to make. I feel confident.

Wednesday night I saute up a big pan full of celery and onions. Smells delicious already. I break up the bread. I add everything into a big stock pot and pour in the required amount of chicken broth and add the poultry seasoning. Looks good. It seems a bit dry, so I add in some more butter (let's just agree - butter makes EVERYTHING BETTER) and a hair more broth. I stir and taste test. Oh yum. It's delicious. I feel that my existence as a woman is validated.

Except...hum. What started out as a full pot of stuffing had definitely shrunk in the moistening process. I spooned it around a bit, hoping for some loaves and fishes-type multiplication. Nope. I put it in a bowl to stash in the refrigerator overnight so that we could stuff the turkey first thing in the morning. The quantity was definitely less than what I expected based on the gigantic loaf of white bread that I used.

I panic. It's nearly Anne's bedtime and both kids are jammied up. I rush over to Mike.

"I think we need to run to the store."


"There isn't enough stuffing!"


I show him the bowl. He gets that look that he gets when he's going to try and talk me down from the ledge about something.

"I think it's fine, Sweetie. Plus, if you want to make more, can't we just run to the store tomorrow morning?"


"Why not?"

*frustrated pause*

"Because I want to do it right now!"

I don't make much sense when I'm that much on a mission. I was in stuffing mode, and I wanted my mind set at ease about having enough. But in the end I knew that he was right.

I slept on the "stuffing situation," and in the end, decided not to make anymore. We had plenty. Not as much for leftovers as I would have liked (is there anything better than Thanksgiving leftovers?) but we had more than enough.

Crisis averted.

Thanksgiving was a huge success. The kids loved the Macy's parade, and we all enjoyed the dog show that followed. ("woof woof!") Dinner was enjoyed by everyone, and wine was consumed by all.

Black Friday dawned, and I stayed in and safely away from the stores. I was worried that the kids would go stir crazy, but the day was smashing. We ended up running to the public library where Anne played in the toy kitchen they have set up there and Henry got a few videos and books. That night, Henry was having a sleepover at the grandparents, and so it was just Mike, Anne and I. The house felt *quiet* only having 1 kid in it!

We put Anne to bed. We basked in our quiet time. Then we went to bed.

Around 2:30 am I hear Anne. I roll over figuring she will go back to sleep. She does not.

Sometime thereafter I feel Mike nudge me. I grunt at him.

"Should I go get Anne?"

"No, I'll do it."

I stumble out of the bedroom, martyr-like essence following in my wake. I peek through her keyhole (this is a sweet feature of having an older house). If she's laying down, chances are she'll fall back to sleep. She's standing up.

I sigh and open the door. Immediately, rancid air meets my nostrils.

"Hi Mama. Uh oh!" *points to diaper*

Oh, no problem. A poo diaper woke her. I go to fetch her. I spy a pool of brown liquid covering her crib sheet.

Uh oh, indeed.

I turn on the lights and assess the damage. I don't think I've ever seen so much poo in one sitting in all my years of diaper changing, and that's saying a lot. I grab her stuffed puppy dog. HE'S WET. He's immediately relegated to the laundry. I lift Anne out of the crib and strip the sheet off. I'm attempting to peel her sleeper off when Mike exits our bedroom down the hall.

"Oh wow." The smell has now permeated the entire upstairs.

Mike comes to investigate.

"Do you think we should give her a bath?"

"She needs a complete hose down."

Mike runs the bath and disinfects her mattress. The sleeper is so bad that I throw it in the garbage. I had to actually SCRUB DOWN THE OUTSIDE OF THE DIAPER PAIL due to debris while Mike bathed her.

After her bath, I get her in a fresh sleeper while Mike starts a load of laundry and throws the trash. We go downstairs to watch some tv in the darkened living room to let the upstairs...air out a bit.

I find a Friends marathon on Nick-at-Nite. And ugh! The commercials were depressing. The stores were advertising continuing sales for all "Black Friday weekend!"

It's a whole weekend now? Apparently so. The whole thing strikes me as so desperate, it makes me a little sad.

Anne fell back to sleep pretty quick. Somehow, the scent of poo lingered on my nostrils and I could not for the life of me uncover the source. I carried her up to her room and had to wrinkle my nose a bit in her room but most of the smell had dissipated.

Anne's statement on Black Friday? Not sure, but that was EPIC. Honestly though, I enjoyed that particular middle of the night session. Lots of sweet cuddle time and she slept the rest of the night after that. Except for the fact that the next morning I COULD STILL SMELL POO.

Going to take some time to really get rid of this one. But the rest of the weekend was great. I'm trying to do my Christmas shopping and stay within our budget, and I crocheted 12 gift dishcloths this weekend. Why? BECAUSE I'M INSANE. And I have all this yarn, so I should use it up, right?

More Christmas and Advent talk to come this week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm back, safe and sound...

Ok, I have a bit of a phobia about flying, and I haven't done so in many years. This, as you may suspect, is a bad combination. It makes the fear percolate and spread, like a fungus. Thus, on Thursday, I had a difficult time preparing for my trip. I told everybody that I loved them before I left, just in case, you know, I didn't make it back. I'm nuts like that.

I also just HATE traveling by air. The extra time you have to leave for airport hassle, not knowing what will happen to my poor beleaguered suitcase when it's out of my possession, the juggling act (that is the most charitable way that I can describe it) that is now the security checkpoint, the delays, the squishyness that is seating space on the airplane, having to travel hundreds of miles out of your way due to connections where you're then delayed even further, praying that your luggage makes it to your destination, all that good stuff.

Bear with me while I insert a quick factoid:

Travel time by car from my house in western New York to my sister's home in southern Maine - 10 hours.

Travel time by air from the time I leave my house for the airport to arriving at my sister's door in southern Maine - 9 hours.

I'm just saying.

The reason for this craziness is twofold: (1) there is of course no direct flight from me to Portland, Maine. We had to fly to Baltimore first. (2) my dad has tons of free tickets on Southwest (he's a business traveler) and Southwest doesn't yet fly into Portland, Maine. We had to fly into Manchester, New Hampshire and then drive 2 hours to my sister's house. This sucked. But the ticket was free, so how can I complain?

But the bottom line is that unless I'm going to Europe (or MAYBE Hawaii and Alaska; actually, I'm just crazy enough to want to drive to Alaska), I want to travel by car. You can leave when you want, stop when you want, eat and drink what you want, pack what you want, and not have to have someone frisk you. But I digress.

I will say that Southwest is very good. You don't have to pay to check a bag, they solidly have their act together with loading and unloading the plane, and they really try to be pleasant and stay on schedule. Their flights are all full, and I'm glad that their business is good. Although, perhaps they're trying to distract us from the fact that I SWEAR that there is even LESS space on the airplanes than there used to be. Did they add seats but yet not expand the airplane? It seems that way, but what do I know.

Anyway, two things make the travel bearable:

(1) Company. My parents traveled with me, and I was glad to have someone to talk to. It's soothing.

(2) Alcohol. WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE?! My dad had drink coupons.

*angels sing*

Although, seriously, even for $5, people THIS IS SO WORTH IT. I assumed I would get just one of those teeny tiny bottles, but instead I got a full glass of Chardonnay.


Next thing you knew, I was chatting up a storm and feeling relaxed. Relaxed on an airplane? MAGIC.

The flights were actually pretty painless. 50 minutes to Baltimore, and then 1 hour to Manchester. The suckfest began with the rental car and the drive north to Portland. Ugh. By the time we got in, it was midnight, and I was exhausted. A cruel, cruel reality is that I get motion sickness and cannot read or knit in the car.

Anyway, I glimpsed the babies before we all collapsed into our beds, but they were sleeping so I didn't get nearly the baby time that I wanted.

The next morning, I was up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, putting on makeup in the guest bathroom, a cat by my side, waiting for any sign of noise to come from my sister and brother-in-law's bedroom.


BAM! I'm at the door.


There commenced 2.5 days of near constant baby snuggling.

There was always a baby needing to be held, changed, fed, or soothed, which was just fine with me.

The baptism was Saturday, and it was lovely. I just LOVE the affirmation of our baptismal promises and the tenets of the Nicene Creed in the ritual:

"This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Andrew is my third Godchild. I'm also Godmother to my nephew Nathaniel, who made his First Communion about a year and a half ago, my good friend Irena, who was a full catechumen at the Easter Vigil 2011 when I was 8 months pregnant with Anne and who converted from atheism, and now Andrew. I was also confirmation sponsor for Shauna'h, his mother. It's a very nice Catholic tradition that we have going on. I feel privileged to be their Godmother.

Our family are the last Catholics on my mom's side. My grandparents and aunt and uncles on that side are all devout Christians, but are no longer Catholic.  My dad's side though, has *more* Catholics now than in the past. I am doing my best to pass the faith on to my children and I pray that they do the same.

During the ceremony, the deacon did a lovely job. There were 2 other babies being baptized, and he asked everybody why they chose the names that they did for their child (all had at least 1 Catholic saint name) and asked about their baptismal garments. My nephew Will was wearing a gown that was over 80 years old, handmade by my brother-in-law's grandmother. Babies in the family have worn that gown in each generation since. Another of the babies was wearing an heirloom gown as well.

It all made me reflect on the history of our faith and how it's just as perilous now (when we're not being persecuted and beheaded, all that happy stuff :)) to pass on the faith as it's ever been. Today, it seems as if our enemy is indifference. I hope that I instill in my children and Godchildren how precious and special our faith is, and how we need to hold on to it firmly and passionately.

I very much enjoyed my trip, and the travel back was less bad. I was anxious to get home to my babies. Anne seems to have grown at least a foot since I last saw her, and is talking more than ever. As ever, she's extremely sassy and appears to be once again (please let this be over soon!) getting a new tooth. She HAS to be almost done; it would be inhuman otherwise.

A quick sampling of her new vocabulary:

(1) "Mine!" - Something that is most certainly NOT hers, but that she would like to be.

(2) "No no no!" - Self explanatory.

(3) "Ball!" - The child loves balls. This includes the giant red Target "dots" that they have outside the stores which I'm pretty sure are made of concrete and weigh as much as a herd of elephants. But yet, this explanation fails every.single.time when she sobs that we can't take the "ball" home with us in our car. Sigh.

I'm off the rest of the week, so no blogging for another short stretch. I will return on Monday with Thanksgiving and Black Friday tales. That is Cyber Monday, and is a big yarn sale day for me, so prepare for yarn talk. I actually dreamt of yarn the other day. It was all very cat-like.

Happy Thanksgiving!