Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anatomy of a baby scream

So, last night Anne got a hold of a pot lid. She turned it over in wonder in her hands, and caught sight of her reflection on the outside.

"There's that attractive baby again! Better wave so that she'll come back and visit. Is she on the other side of this thing too?!"

*much lid flipping commences*

Suddenly, the inevitable happens:


And thereupon commences the scenario that all parents are so very familiar with:

(1) Moment of shocked silence.

(2) Parent looks anxiously at baby.

(3) Baby's face turns red.

(4) Baby's face reflects expression of absolute outrage.

(5) Baby opens mouth and sucks in as much air as she possibly can (although only as much as will allow her to maintain her clear body language of being Royally Pissed Off).

(6) Baby flails limbs. And then...

(7) All the stored up air comes rushing back out in a howl of protest and indignation, registering at the highest possible setting of the baby volume meter. How dare that pot lid strike her like that?!

(8) Baby is immediately picked up and cuddled, but she pushes you away. Clearly, you and the pot lid were in cahoots together.

(9) After a minute or so of forced soothing, baby settles down and swipes her fist across her teary face. There's still other interesting new finds to be had in that open cupboard...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lenten reading, book 1

My first book this Lent is an old favorite - The New Men: Inside the Vatican's Elite School for American Priests, by Brian Murphy.

This book is written by a journalist from the Associated Press, and although he characterizes himself as a "born and fled Catholic," one immediately senses that his own nostalgia for his childhood faith is at least part of what compelled him to write this story. He is very fair and sensitive in his treatment of the men whose lives he chronicles, and it's always been one of my very favorite "faith stories" books.

This is a work of non-fiction and it's set during the late 90's, toward the end of Pope John Paul II's pontificate. We are quickly introduced to 6 men in the entering class at the North American College, an American seminary in Rome. As one would expect, it's fairly prestigious for a seminarian to be sponsored by his diocese to attend the North American College. Often, these are men who ultimately are promoted beyond the ranks of parish priests and serve the larger Church in a post within the Vatican itself. So, as if entering the seminary in and of itself wasn't already a life changing event, there's an added bit of pressure here. Their diocese is spending a lot of money investing in them and their education; do they have what it takes to make it through to ordination and be a good priest?

Our 6 friends quickly become very dear to us. We have a former high-paid attorney who very honestly admits that he had a bit of a raucous dating life, and now struggles with his commitment to lifelong celibacy; a former Air Force pilot who broke up with his girlfriend to join the seminary, but yet can't stop thinking about a devout Catholic woman he met while finishing up the philosophy and theology credits he needed prior to entering the seminary; a Vietnamese-American immigrant whose faith was formed and solidified as a child when his father was taken from the family and placed in a Communist work camp; a man from North Dakota whose strong ties to the land that he was raised in calls him to a Benedictine monastery near his family's farm, but who promised his diocesan vocations director that he would give the seminary a try; and a set of identical twins, one with a now very uncommon boyhood vocation to be a priest, and the other who left a high-powered business career to pursue the priesthood with characteristic enthusiasm and zeal when he felt the call as an adult.

The book chronicles their lives and struggles for a full academic year, from the fall until the following summer. One man will decide to leave the seminary by the end of the year; who will it be?

The author does an *excellent* job of detailing their prayer lives, their chaotically busy daily schedules, juggling language study, theological study, Mass attendance, community service, and in the midst of all of this, trying to decide if they made the right decision to pursue the priesthood.

Ok. Now all of that is very interesting, by itself. I just love personal stories and details about how one carves out their relationship with God and what that means for their life choices. It's never uncomplicated and always intriguing. BUT. That's just the tip of the iceberg. :)

During the writing of this book, do you want to know who the rector of the North American College was? This is the head of the school, the priest who counsels all of these men through their doubts and struggles and crises over abandoned girlfriends?

Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the archdiocese of New York, and now the high profile president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At that time, he was a monsignor, and this book offers a profound look into his wonderfully engaging personality and commitment to the faith and to the priesthood.

AND, like I mentioned, this was during the pontificate of John Paul II, and reading this book now brings him back to me just like it was yesterday. I'm not certain if I've ever gone into this on my blog before, but, well, I LOVE Pope John Paul II. I mean, I *love* him. :) It's one of the great regrets of my life that I never got to meet him before he died. I just adored him to pieces, and he was the pope for essentially my entire life until he died in 2005.

When he died, I was very early in my pregnancy with Henry. Mike and I had been married earlier that year, and we have an official papal blessing from him, which remains on our wall as one of my most cherished possessions. When he was beatified, I was very late in my pregnancy with Anne. And the other day in Mass, I looked down at a prayer card that I've had in my missal for *years* and do you know what I saw?

His birthday is May 18, 1920, exactly 91 years to the day before I delivered Anne.

I just feel a very special devotion to him, and reading this book brings back to me so clearly the end of his papacy and how he showed the world strength and courage in suffering.

So, for all of these reasons, I love this book. I can re-read it over and over. There are so many good examples in it of everyday people striving to live out their Catholic faith, in the vocation they feel called to, in the face of numerous struggles and challenges. I never fail to be inspired by them, and to feel called to do more in my own life to be a better Catholic.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sometimes, being a parent involves a LOT of patience...

"Mommy, do you want to hear the scary story that I made up?"

*Catholic Librarian is just settling in with a book and an evening glass of wine*

"Oh. Well, uh. Sure, Sweetie."


"Ok, well, one night there was a boy in his bedroom, and..."

*There commences, I swear it, 10 full minutes of details about the boy transversing his town, a scary party, branches scratching on windowpanes, with full sound effects provided by Henry, lots of creeping around corners, etc.*

"And then! Do you want to know who jumped out from the corner?"

"Who Honey?"

"A *leprechaun!*"

"Oh!" *senses end in sight and return to wine* "That was a very good story, Sweetie."

"Actually, I wasn't done."

Oh sigh.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

So far, a blissful Lent

Yes, a rare Saturday post. :) I'm actually working today, one of my required undesirable shifts. And the library is deader than a doornail, so I'm blogging.

We're on Lent day 4, and so far I'm loving it. I've been keeping up with my morning and evening prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours, and can I just say, I absolutely love those books. I have the full 4 volume set, and they're a bit pricey, so I acquired them one at a time as I needed them. Makes it much less daunting to spend about $35 a pop rather than well over a $100 for the full set at one time. I think I was able to get one individual volume on Amazon, but the others are all available individually from the Catholic Book Publishing Company.

It's just so, so soothing. To learn how to pray them, many years ago I purchased The Divine Office for Dodos. I'm going to be honest and say that I found the "dodo talk" grating after awhile (all right, I found it grating right away) but the content is top notch. So, based on my foundational knowlege of how to pray the hours, after I eat my breakfast and am having a quick cup of coffee while assuring that Anne does not tear the house apart, I pray the invitatory, and then morning prayer. I skip the hymn, because my singing is appalling. But I adore those little seasonal antiphons with the psalms (a perk to the 4 volume set, the antiphons are right there and are repeated at the end of the psalm, so less flipping) and my favorite parts are the reading, the intercessions and the final prayer, all found in the Proper of Seasons. They're all very targeted to the liturgical season but also to the time of day. Lots of hope and motivation for daily tasks in the morning, reflection and self-examination in the evening.

For evening prayer, I just carve out time in spurts wherever I can surrounding dinner preparation and clean up. So far so good.

And being at home since Ash Wednesday has been such a blessing. I had some comp. time coming, and my mother-in-law needed to have cataract surgery (she watches Anne for a few hours each day while Mike teaches) so I was glad to pitch in during the day when I would ordinarily be working.

And the time for reflection has proved fruitful. This Lent, I feel that God is calling me to let go of my fear of change and really pray about what is to come in my future. Certainly, my vocation is to my family, that always comes first. And my job is pretty important to the family right now, for the income and health insurance benefits. But I'm just wondering about the future. Maybe God has something else in mind for me one day to earn money? Maybe I could work from home? I have absolutely no idea. And I'm happy to be at my current job (and very grateful for it) for as long as we need me to be. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, it's been on my heart that God may ultimately have something else in store for me. I don't know what or when, but I don't need to worry about that. Everything will work out. Just like it did with Mike's career situation. I never would have thought that we could have him home as much as he is with the kids and not working full time, but there you have it. He is, and it's wonderful.

Being home with the children has been awesome. Granted, sometimes challenging:

"Mommy, want to hear how I can count to FIVE THOUSAND?!"

"Anne, please don't SUCK on the *grocery cart*!" (I swear, she learned this from her brother. I'm not germ phobic, but seriously. Let's be reasonable here.)

but it is very, very rewarding. Monday I return to the grind, alas. But next week I'll review my first selection of spiritual reading for this Lent, and it's one of my all time favorite Catholic works of non-fiction. And it is not a spiritual classic, because I'm going to be honest and admit that I'm weak and am just not spiritually advanced enough to concentrate on those for any length of time. I'm all about the personal stories. And this book fits that bill. I've also decided to purchase a new book (pretty rare these days, but we're ordering season 1 of Downton Abbey and we need just a bit more to get free shipping anyway :)) and I'm super excited.

*happy sigh*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent, day 2

So, it's day 2, and so far I've kept to my Liturgy of the Hours routine. :) And thus far, I'm loving it. I remember this from when I used to be better about praying them most days: you immediately feel more peaceful afterwards, and your day goes better, even if challenges present themselves.

Hence, I'm glad that I chose this as my lenten resolve. Next week, I can experiment with the Magnificat since I have the March issue, and I can compare the two.

I very much enjoyed getting my ashes yesterday. Henry and I ended up going to the 4 pm scripture service with ash distribution. Mike and Anne were going to go with us, but she was still napping, so it was just Hank and I. Our deacon led the service, and this is the one I went to last year as well. I really enjoyed it, I think I'll make it a yearly tradition to go to that particular one.

It got me to thinking about daily Mass, as well. I love daily Mass, but it's so hard for me to go at lunch anymore. Our Newman Center moved to a further location on the campus, and it's too far to walk. To drive would mean a long walk out to my car and losing my parking spot (a big problem on this campus) so I only go on holy days of obligation. But my parish has an 8 am Mass. I may go a few times during Lent. I usually leave for work around 8 am, but this would still get me in at a fairly early time. We'll see.

It's been pretty busy here with the kids and the house, so I don't have much time to write. Ironically, I have much more time to write when I'm at work, ha!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And Lent begins...

I was so excited about Lent beginning this year that I was actually thinking about it when I was up with Anne last night. Oh, speaking of Anne, who thinks that because she had a Hall of Fame night on Sunday night (plus she's feeling a bit better, plus she already cut a tooth, so a break must be in store, right?) that this means she continued to sleep that way from that point forward?

Anybody? Anybody?

No, of course not. :) But I wasn't all that surprised. Monday night was a bit sucky, but last night actually wasn't that bad. I was up with her around 1:30 to nurse, and she wanted to get up quite early, but it's Ash Wednesday, so I thought it wasn't such a bad idea to force myself out of bed earlier than I would have liked. I'm off from work for the rest of the week to be with Mike and the kids during Henry's winter recess, so although early, I got up and felt chipper.

Anne actually played in her exersaucer (a rare treat these days) while we all ate breakfast, and then I settled in with my coffee and the Liturgy of the Hours volume for Lent and Easter. My goal is to pray morning and evening prayer each day. And I knew being at home that I would be interrupted quite a bit, so if morning prayer doesn't always get done in the morning, that's ok. I'm a mother to two young children, and my vocation to them has to take priority. I'll get back to the prayers whenever I can.

But this morning, I was able to pray morning prayer long before 8 am, although peppered with questions the whole time from Henry. After that, I knit a dishcloth for my sister for a short time while Anne played, and then I put her down for a morning nap.

Now, Mike is teaching, and Henry and I just played Life. I'm going to knit a little more and do a few chores around the house. After lunch, we may run some errands, including a trip to the local Catholic store to see if they have that little booklet/guide for the Liturgy of the Hours for 2012, since I don't have one and they're awful handy. We'll be heading for ashes at the 4 pm service.

So, that's my Ash Wednesday. Pretty low key. We're having black bean burritos for dinner, and Henry has definitely taken an interest in not eating meat today and on Fridays during Lent this year. They were discussing it at school. I talked to him about giving up something for Lent this morning, and he seemed quite horrified by the thought of giving up a beloved item of food or television watching. We'll work on that for next year. :) But he agreed to say a prayer every day for his grandfather that passed away this year, asking for the intercession of St. Maximillan Kolbe. That's his newest saint friend that he found in his much treasured children's saint book, which I'm really glad that I bought. He's also taken a shine to St. Michael, St. Dominic Savio, and St. Joan of Ark. So much death and suffering with those saints, but all the burning at the stake and beheadings seem to make them of great interest to Henry. I suppose I'll take it as a good thing.

Thus, I'm feeling very prayerful and happy today. How is everyone's Ash Wednesday going?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Eve of Ash Wednesday, 2012...


I know it seems odd to be so giggly and excited about a penitential season of fasting and sacrifice, but there you have it.

I LOVE Lent. I really do.

I love the opportunity for personal reflection and trying to better myself spiritually and toward my fellow man. I love being cognizant of what I'm eating and what day it is per fasting and abstinence so as to develop more self-discipline. I love increasing my spiritual practices and experimenting with new prayer routines. I love how Lent begins in the heart of winter and ends in the spring with a sweep of fresh renewal.

It's totally, totally wonderful.

So, what am I going to be doing this Lent? I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm not going to "give something up" for Lent this year, aside from following the Church's guidelines on abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays (I'm also not going to fast since I'm a nursing mother). I'd like to "add something in" and just generally be more prayerful this Lent.

Thus, I'm going to do only spiritual reading. It can be fiction, but Catholic fiction. Mostly non-fiction. And I'll feature what I read on this blog. As well, the big thing that I'd like to do is establish a daily prayer routine aside from the quick chaplet or few decades of the rosary that I pray each day in the car.

My resolve is that I'm going to pray either the Liturgy of the Hours each day, or the daily devotions as put forth in the Magnificat, since I have the volume for March and that's a good opportunity to also see if I'd like to pick back up a subscription. I know that the Magnificat prayers are not the official prayer of the Church the way the Liturgy of the Hours is, but it's still a very nice structure for private prayer. This will also prove a good opportunity to compare the two and see if the Magnificat is more manageable for me to pray everyday.

I'm also going to make time for confession (once) and Eucharistic adoration (at least twice) as well.

So, that's my Lent. Tomorrow, I'm going to be home with the kids, and I'm planning to haul all 3 of us to our parish to get ashes. I'd love to make it to 8 am Mass, but I may end up going to the 4 pm distribution of ashes with scripture service. With both children in tow, I may need something shorter so that I'll live through the experience.

Super excited. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Of cheese fondue and sick babies...

Photo courtesy of LOLSaints. :)

It was an interesting weekend, and one that unfortunately involved me getting older. Let's begin our chronicle on Friday evening...

Anne was coughing. This is going to be a theme, just you wait and see. I was worried about her, but it seemed to be a simple case of the common cold. She wasn't running a fever or showing any other distressing symptoms, so we just kept an eye on her. My in-laws came over so that Mike and I could go to dinner for my birthday. (I'm not saying how old anymore. :) I'm saying "mid-thirties" and I'm sticking to that regardless of how far from "mid" I may actually be. So there).

Hence, Mike and I traveled to our local Melting Pot. Oh happy sigh. I just love it there, site of my last birthday dinner. We each get to pick on our own birthday (we have to come to a happy consensus for anniversaries and other romantic milestones) and I'd picked Melting Pot months ago. I'm a sucker for a pot of hot cheese sitting on my tabletop.

Fact that our waiter walked up to our table and announced:

"Hi folks! Happy birthday! I see it's been a little while since you were here last, about a year. Do you have any questions about our new menu items?"

...excellent customer service, or just plain creepy? Inquiring minds want to know...

So, we ordered a cheddar cheese fondue, plus our entrees with a vegetable broth to cook them in. Mike chose a seafood trio with sesame encrusted tuna, shrimp, and salmon, and I picked the awesome vegetarian plate which had asparagus, artichoke hearts, glazed tofu, spinach and cheese stuffed pasta, and mushrooms. AWESOME. You also get dipping sauces to dip everything in. Dipping = best dining experience EVER, in my opinion. Add wine into the equation, and you have one very happy Catholic Librarian.

Mike calls the Melting Pot the epitomy of a child-free dining experience. Every table has a vat of scalding hot liquid on it. This makes for a bad toddler takealong dinner.

So, that was very, very nice. Saturday morning, we woke up to a very miserable looking Anne. To say that we haven't had a good night in a long time would be an understatement. Sleep has been tough for months now, but I knew to expect this. She's still a baby. Plus she's teething. She just cut that new tooth, but her drooling is working overtime so I wonder if yet another tooth is coming in.

I mean, seriously. Does she really need more than 4 teeth?! I think God should consider my baby redesign suggestion. Additional teeth come in only when the person is a teenager and can assist themselves in the middle of the night. It would have the added benefit of humbling them during a tumultuous age. Do they really think that waiting until they're at school to apply a multitude of makeup in the girls bathroom and rolling up their skirt at the waist is going to go unchallenged? Do they really think their mother doesn't know that they do this? SHE DOES. BECAUSE SHE ALMOST CERTAINLY DID THE SAME THING HERSELF. And then a new tooth would arrive, making it hard for them to apply their lipstick when they think their parents aren't watching. See? Brilliant idea.

So anyway, Anne woke up on Saturday morning coughing and wheezing. Necessitating a trip to the pediatrician. Diagnosis: bronchiolitis and an ear infection. He gave us an antibiotic for the ears, but obviously there's nothing you can do for the virus but wait it out. He told us that she's right in the worst part of it.

Ain't that the truth. Mike commented that she looked like she'd spent the night in a crack house. Eyes glassy. Face wet from drool and snot. Aforementioned drool and snot rubbed crankily into hair that was standing up in spikes. Nose red. Expression VERY ANGRY.

Ever try to wipe a child's nose anywhere from age newborn through, I don't know, eternity?

Approach with tissue. Child moves headtoside!! Approach on other side. Child moves...headtoside!! Quick change hands with tissue!! Child...movesheadtoside!!!!!

A very frustrating endeavor. And it's what we did for 3 full days. Saturday, she enacted what is now her patented 20 Minute Nap Technique:

Nurse Anne. Lots of coughing ensues involving milk being sprayed onto both Anne and Mommy. Nurse lots more. Anne dozes off. Mommy sets Anne in crib. Anne sleeps. Mommy just starts on a chore when...Anne wakes up. Repeat process. 20 minutes later...Anne is crying. Repeat for rest of day.

And then the night comes. And well, as you would expect, it doesn't go any better.

Sunday, she woke up looking 90% better. The antibiotics are clearly working on her ear. She seemed almost herself, although still coughing. And last night...

She slept for 8 hours. Woke to nurse. Then slept until 7 am.


It was like a little slice of heaven.

So, she's doing better. Still on the antibiotic, and we're just keeping her in until she feels better. Hope for another good night tonight. Hope does spring eternal, after all...

Friday, February 17, 2012



*angels sing*

If this isn't a good birthday present, I don't know what is.

That, and the dinner at the Melting Pot that is Mike is taking me to tonight. So much cheese consumption will commence. Although must modify such that the new sweater that I'm knitting will still fit, given that it has a stranded section in the middle, and my tension was *just a hair* too tight. So, not too much cheese.

But still cheese.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All excited about Lenten devotionals...

...because that's just the sort of thing that I regularly get excited about. I posted not too long ago about requesting free sample copies of Magnificat for myself and Magnifikid! for Henry to see how we liked them. And yay, they arrived!

I used to subscribe to Magnificat a number of years ago (won't think about how many years ago, too depressing...somebody's *birthday* is coming up this weekend) and I really did like it, but I found that eventually I wasn't using it as much, and for $45 per year you really want to use it to its fullest potential. I really liked the saint biographies that were included for each day, and they were usually of more obscrue saints I'd never heard of before. I also loved the artwork and the additional articles and special devotions that appeared in each issue. I did use it for daily Mass (when I was able to attend) and Sunday Mass, for the readings. I didn't really use the included daily prayers, based on the Liturgy of the Hours.

Now, I have a Sunday Missal, so I wouldn't even use the readings, but I'm re-curious (new coined term) about whether or not I'd use the prayers as a daily devotional. I have a full set of the Liturgy of the Hours, but I haven't used them in awhile since it's difficult to find enough uninterrupted time to pray all of the hours, especially evening prayer and the office of readings. I do get the Advent and Lent companions each year that Magnificat puts out, so I thought maybe it was time to reconsider it. So I ordered that sample copy along with Hank's Magnifikid!

Both came the other day. Neither officially starts until March, so we won't get the full test until then. But I did notice that Magnificat now has a 6 month subscription option which I don't remember them having before. Obviously, it's cheaper to subscribe right off the bat for a longer period of time, but that's a nice way to try it for a short duration and see if you use it and like it. It's only $24.95 for the 6 month option.

Hank's Magnifikid is actually a series of little booklets, one for each weekend of Mass. The first one is March 4th. And it includes some relevant mazes and puzzles, as well as a recurring comic scene that looks like he'll find interesting. There's also the readings written in an kid-friendly format, with a cutout explaining the more difficult words. We'll see. I'm hoping that he'll find it to be something that he enjoys looking at in Mass. That only comes with a 1 year subscription option, and it's $34.95 (or 3 years for $79). I'll have him test it out that first weekend in March.

I don't want to rush into any subscription options, but I'm definitely intrigued. Anybody else subscribe to either of these?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just one of those nights

From the moment I got home from work yesterday evening, Anne had a sour look on her little face, and I knew that this boded poorly. Anne is an extremely happy baby, the most social of the 4 of us, seriously. But the instant you'd put her down, she'd burst into tears, never a good sign. Plus:

(1) I have sore nipples. Sorry, I should have posted a TMI warning on that one, but I'm sure you're used to me by now. This always happens right before Anne gets a new tooth. She has 3 teeth right now, which is pretty funny. That top front one is really longing for its partner. Anyway, it changes her latch or something when she teethes, and the soreness really gets bad. Everything hurts right now, including pumping. Ok, enough about nipples, I suppose.

(2) She's drooling up a storm. I mean, literally puddles on the kitchen floor.

(3) She's coughing, so she's gotten a cold or something. Fantastic. Plus,

(4) She's already overtired from the accumulation of 2 months worth of bad nights all in a row. It's like this vicious, vicious cycle.

And sure enough, as the evening wore on, she cranked more and more. Until I put her to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual, because she was literally unbearable. And does this mean that a little baby whose body is sick and tired will just sleep the entire night because it so badly needs its rest?

No, of course not. :)

By 9:30, just as I was drifting off, I hear the telltale snuffling sounds. Followed by the outright crying sounds. 2 nursing sessions later, plus a short scream-fest in the crib, it became clear that she had no intention of going back to sleep. So, we went downstairs to watch Frasier together and snuggle.

Thank God for the Hallmark channel.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

As we were getting Henry's valentines ready for his school party last night, he was writing his name on the cards and I was taping heart shaped peppermint patties to the reverse side. Mike was teaching, and Anne was on the floor at my feet, screaming. Sigh. I had tried to feed her dinner (both pureed peas and a nursing offer were refused) but she was just terribly overtired.

Suddenly, Henry asks:

"Mommy, how do you spell 'Anne'? I keep forgetting."

"A-N-N-E Sweetie."


Suddenly, across the kitchen table comes a little Spider Man valentine, that reads "To Anne, From Henry." It was so precious I could hardly stand it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A very Catholic weekend

This picture just cracks me up. I have a priest friend on Facebook that uses this as his profile picture, and I just fell in love with the baby. And I so very much relate to it. *Finally* I too remember to say "with your spirit." And if I forget, I'm able to ad hoc my own special Tiffany response which is "And also with yoo.... *your spirit*."

I've also got the new "it is right and just" line down as well as the "not worthy to let you under my roof" thing almost perfected. Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that I may never have the Nicene Creed memorized ever again. I learned the Nicene Creed back in second grade, when preparing for my First Communion. It's so ingrained in my mind that chiseling away at any of the words is a pretty painful process. And it's not like it's totally different, which I think makes it even more difficult. The fact that it's mostly the same save for a couple handfuls of changed words and short phrases makes it even more unlikely that I'll be able to master it without having the pew card in front of me. Alas.

Speaking of Facebook, I've become downright unscrupulous with my defriending activities. I certainly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I've decided that my Facebook newsfeed is *my* experience, and it's not worth it to be friends with someone that posts insensitive things about my faith. I'll lower myself to become snarky for *just* a moment *Emotional Entitlement Alert*: it seems that these days, many people are enjoying posting "witty" and politically correct comments about how irrelevant the Catholic Church is these days, and how clearly the Church is more concerned with everyone's sex life and their own power to care about pressing issues like social justice and helping the poor. I saw a comment like that last night on my feed, and do you know what I did? I contemplated posting a response for maybe 30 seconds or so, decided against it (just not worth it to upset myself, and in that venue the person is not going to be open to hearing any other opinion) and simply clicked over to my friends list, found their name, and selected "defriend." I even felt giddy. They'll probably never notice that I've done this, which I suppose is good. But it's a personal victory, and so I feel empowered. .

And in this vein, my ears are constantly burning with the sounds of contraception, which I'm sure all of yours are too. I was a bit surprised at how much this news story took off, and at first I didn't know what to think about it. I hate to see the Church take yet another beating in the news media and in the square of public opinion, but I do believe in the wisdom of this particular unpopular teaching and sometimes we have to stand up for the unpopular parts of our faith. Otherwise, how much could it really mean to us if we're not willing to go to bat for Her when the going gets tough? And things are definitely very, very ugly right now in the discussion out in the public arena. I did a lot of thinking about this, and I'll just hit the highlights since I'm sure we're all pretty saturated in talking about it at this point:

(1) The fact that this is an unpopular teaching does not change the truth of it in any way, from the Church's perspective. Popular opinion has never dictated theology in the Catholic Church. Hence, articles like I read the other day which say that it makes no sense to even talk about contraception in this day in age because it's so widely accepted and revered miss the point.

(2) Obedience, or lack thereof, also does not change Church teaching. Do the majority of Catholics use contraception? I have no idea, but it doesn't matter. So, all of the comments and articles that have as their main argument "most Catholics use artificial birth control anyway, so Catholic employers should just provide it" also miss the point entirely.

(3) Can people use their own personal opinions and consciences to decide whether or not to use contraception? Well, of course. We do have free will, after all. But that has nothing to do with the fact that, in the Church's eyes, contraception is immoral and contrary to the culture of life. Hence, asking Catholic organizations to pay for and provide contraception (even to non-Catholics) goes against THEIR conscience. This seems to be what most commenters are missing. People who want to use birth control still can. They can obtain it in other ways besides from their employers' health insurance policy. But to force a Catholic organization to provide it leaves them no room to follow their conscience. They would either have to pay for something that they find immoral, or not provide health insurance at all, which would also go against what they feel is fair and just treatment of their employees.

And that's all I have to say on that, because really, I don't like talking about contraception. :) It's a personal matter. But I'm taking personally what I'm reading these days about the Church, and since I don't write about it on Facebook, you all have to suffer on here, ha!

And so, relatedly, I've been thinking a lot about what I'm passing on of my faith to my kids. Henry is definitely in the "I'm bored in church" place and so I've been really trying hard to make our faith alive and vibrant for him. Because it is to me, even in the everyday routine of the liturgy. I used to think Mass was boring too. Now, I find the liturgy serene and beautiful.

Thus, when I was preparing for my Children's Liturgy of the Word session for yesterday, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I really tried to jot down some things to discuss I thought the kids would find interesting. We talked about the current liturgical color of green, what Ordinary Time means, how close we are to the beginning of Lent, and what we can be thinking about now in the last full week before Ash Wednesday. The readings featured leprosy, which did seem to make them scrunch their eyebrows up a bit. But I was getting a lot of whispered conversations going on as we approached the end of our discussion of the Gospel of Jesus healing the leper. And our deacon was still very much enmeshed in his homily, so I did what has always served me well when I teach: I just relaxed and let myself talk about whatever inspiration seemed right at that very moment.

"Today, we talked about Jesus as healer, and I think that it's important to think about what Jesus means to us in our everyday lives. We go to school, we play sports, we interact with our brothers and sisters and our parents. Sometimes people hurt our feelings or we hurt someone elses feelings, like we saw today with the lepers that were cast out of society. How can Jesus help us deal with these things? Sometimes, he heals us physically, like he did the leper, but more often than that, he helps us just in the little things that bother us or upset us as we go about our day. We talked about how the leper in the Gospel had faith that Jesus could heal him, and so we have to have faith that Jesus knows each of us intimately and can help us even in the mundane choices and events in our lives.

When I was a little girl, something really bothered me in thinking about this. I wondered: 'there are so many people on this earth, billions and billions. How can God see what is going on with each of them? Is God even real?'"

When I looked up, whereas before little conversation gaggles had formed as the kids got restless from sitting for too long, suddenly every little eye in the sacristy was on me. *100% * complete, rapt attention. And I could practically see the little thought bubbles above their heads, saying "Yeah! I *have* wondered that! Does she know the answer?!" And I knew I had done the right thing. I just hoped that my answer was just as inspired.

"This really bothered me, but eventually I realized that yes, God IS real. We are so intricately and perfectly made, we have to have a Creator. (little St. Thomas Aquinas thrown in there for good measure). And I realized that God is not like us. We're human, God is not. We are limited in how many people we can interact with at one time. God is not. If God is powerful enough to create the world and us out of nothing, He's powerful enough to see what's going on with billions of people all at the same time."

We even had a brief discussion of "omnipotence." Lots of wide eyes followed my every word. And so, I at least had a big impact this week. :) It was the best I've felt after one of these sessions in quite awhile.

I just hope nobody goes back to their parents and says that Miss Tiffany talked about how she didn't know if God was real this week. You know how kids tend to leave out important parts of stories when they retell them. :)

I just think that it's very important not to take for granted that our children are going to want to retain and explore their Catholic faith just because we tell them they should. They need to see it as real and vital in their own lives. And addressing some doubts that they have makes it more relatable for them, more likely that they'll take notice of the faith of the adults in their lives if they realize that those adults wonder about the same things that they do.

This week, before I headed out to Mass, I had prayed for my session with the kids. And so I hope that I provided a good foundation for them. And a truly Catholic one.

After that, we all went to a birthday party for the little boy of some friends of ours. As I sipped some wine and watched Henry play with some other little boys, and Anne cavort happily around the room, admired everywhere she went (she even accumulated a little 2 year old boyfriend named Devin who was very attentive to her every need), and Mike have a beer while talking to some of his fellow philosopher friends (there was even a priest there, the party was at the home of the Catholic couple that introduced Mike and I), I thought:

life is good.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What are you going to be doing for Lent?

Lent is approaching in just under 2 weeks, and it's been on my mind lately. To me, mid-February is the perfect time for Ash Wednesday, love how that worked out this year. Last year, with Lent starting in March, just seemed off to me from the start. :)

This year, I know that I definitely want to start a spiritual reading plan, and read only religious non-fiction or Catholic fiction during Lent. I won't give up meat this year (since I'm still breastfeeding and I'm not real knowledgeable about getting all the protein I need from non-meat sources) but obviously I'll be abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Other then that, I'm not sure that I'll "give something up." In the past, I've given up diet soda, since I *heart* Diet Coke. This year, I was thinking that instead of giving anything up, I'd just try to "add more in"; Mass, prayer, adoration.

What are you all doing for Lent this year?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life of a Catholic Librarian, an overnight and morning

Anne is nearly 9 months old, and I like to keep it real on here. :) She's the cutest baby on the PLANET, but no, she does not sleep through the night. I know many of you that read this blog also have babies or young children, so you know what I'm talking about. But so many people that ask me about how Anne sleeps seem flummoxed that she still wakes to nurse in the night. I give these people the patented Tiffany Is Dubious So I'm Giving You A Pinchy Expression, but they seem oblivious.

So, last night Mike and I go up to bed. We read, and breathe a sigh of relief that Anne has not woken already by time we shut off our light. Within 1 hour, right when we're falling into a deep REM cycle, we awake to a baby crying.

We lie there in denial for a few minutes, because you never know. Maybe she'll go back to sleep. The fact that that has NEVER happened does not deter us a single bit. After about 5 minutes, Mike gets up to change her diaper and bring her to me in bed. I pop her next to me to nurse, and drift off.

I wake up again about an hour later and carry Anne back to her crib. Sometimes, she will wake up and refuse to go back down at this point, but usually not. Thankfully, last night she went right back to sleep. I go back to bed.

Around 5 am, we hear a baby crying. The same denial cycle begins again. This one is particularly bad because it's so hard to get back to sleep at this time, but yet we're still really tired. Mike goes and gets her, changes her diaper, and brings her to me (don't I have a wonderful husband?) I nurse her, and hustle her back to her crib as soon as she's done so that I can try and grab just a hair more sleep before I have to get up. Lately, we had a lot of nights where Anne has been up 1-2 additional times, and I've been *dragging* at work. I barely made it through a meeting of the university faculty senate the other day. The opportunities for embarrassing falling-asleep-in-public scenarios are prolific.

Usually at this waking, Anne is ready to be up for the day, but I absolutely INSIST that she reconsider this. So, inevitably, I lay her in her crib, and she sits up, looking pissed. I hand her a lovey shaped like a duck, and she'll look at it, and then me, with nothing short of righteous indignation plastered on her face. I kiss her and leave the room, and then she'll howl. But she only howled for 5 minutes, and then fell asleep, so you see? SHE'S STILL TIRED TOO. Why she insists on trying to fight this is a total baby mystery.

Mike and I toss and turn until 6:20. He gets up to take a shower and I lie in bed and try to convince myself that I still have plenty of time to rest. Mike comes back up and hustles Hank out of bed to get ready for school. While he gets dressed, I glower to myself, because I'm tired and cranky, but force myself out of bed shortly thereafter. I get dressed etc., while Mike and Henry eat breakfast downstairs. I always feel better as soon as I'm out of bed.

Sometimes Anne wakes in the midst of all this, sometimes she sleeps in. Today, blessedly, she slept in. I quickly eat and pack my lunch while Mike and Henry got his school bag ready. I then commence a confusing conversation with Henry in which he insists that the sandwiches that he can buy at school are better than the sandwiches that we make him at home, so he wants to buy lunch. Since we pay tuition, I like to keep the lunch buying down to a minimum to save money. I don't mind paying for him to have a hot lunch a few times per week, but a bologna sandwich? Seriously. We don't need to pay $2.25 for that. And why are these sandwiches so special?

"They use white bread, Mommy."

Yes, these sandwiches are revered because they are made with Wonder Bread. Will wonders never cease?

At this point, it will take far too long for Henry to get his coat and shoes on, and I send him into Mike's capable care so that I can go up and fetch a now awake Anne who is standing up in her crib trying to screw with her window curtain which is *just* out of her reach.

I change her and get her all freshened up, and then nurse her. She's happy as a lark. While I'm feeding her, Mike is trying to prepare for the morning class that he has to teach. I get her set up with her Fisher Price Noah's Ark on the floor of the office so that I can leave and kiss them both goodbye. As I leave the room, Anne is gnawing on a peacock (were there peacocks in Noah's time? I suppose there were) and has a camel in her fist, next up for the slaughter. Noah is there, but his wife is conspicuously missing from the set, although there is a picture of her up on the wall of the ark. I always wondered what fate had befallen her. Was Noah a widow?

Ok anyway, I digress. I got off to work, stopped for gas in my car, and was in my office bright and early with the task of creating and editing several (sorry, I have to say it *boring*) documents on my to-do list. Ah well. It's almost time to go home, and I can't wait. Sleep-interrupted nights and all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I've been knitting up a storm in the evenings lately after the kids go to bed, and my latest obsession is dishcloths. Because they're so very exciting, you know.

I like dishcloths because they're quick and easy, they're practical, they make great gifts, and plus I'm starting to think about spring and cotton is on my mind. We needed some new ones, since our current batch are starting to look raggedy, and so away I went.

I'm using Knit Picks Dishie worsted weight cotton, and I have to say, I love it. It's very tightly spun and has a nice drape to it. AND there are *tons* of dishcloth patterns out there for free. I'm currently making a waffle knit dishcloth and it's creating a nice nubby fabric, perfect for scrubbing dishes.

Oh oh! AND this is my new favorite. :) I found a designer yesterday via Ravelry that I'm terribly excited about. She has a great blog for free cloth and baby bib patterns. Baby bibs are another great use of cotton that I hadn't thought of before! Shazzam! More Anne knitting, plus some gift knitting. I love having new projects. Just use the right menu on her blog to link to the patterns. She has lots of patterns with animals on them, a washcloth with coordinating bib. Monkeys, koalas, baby birds, a seahorse, the possibilities are endless. For Anne, there is a cupcake bib. :) Because I have such a cupcake thing with her. I could knit her cupcakes until she graduates from high school and never tire of it. Although I'm certain that *she * will.

My Knit Picks cart overflowth, and yet I keep adding more cotton. Oh well. My birthday is coming up, and I deserve something nice, no?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The feast of St. Blaise with 2 kids in tow...

"We're getting our throats blessed AGAIN?"

"We haven't had our throats blessed yet, Honey."

"Yes, I did. At school."


"Oh good. Well Sweetie, you can come up with me and Anne, or you can wait for us here in the pew, ok?"

"I want it blessed again."


We proceed with several blessings.

"Mommy, Anne's trying to eat the candles."

"I've got her Honey, shhhhhh..."

"Will the blessing still work if she's grabbing the candles like that?"


Monday, February 6, 2012

Balm for the soul

Work has been a bit stressy for me lately, and last week was just intense. This week isn't looking to be a good deal better, but I'm trying to look on the bright side. The beginning of the semester is always the toughest part.

But yesterday, Anne had actually slept in (not that she slept through the whole night *snorts* but she slept until 8 am after her 5 am waking) and hence she was awake during the 10 am mass timeslot. Normally, she's napping when Henry and I are at Mass. And I didn't have to lead Children's Liturgy of the Word yesterday. So I packed her up and brought her with us.

I can count the times I've had both kids at Mass by myself on one hand. It's a bit of a terrifying proposition. But Anne is actually at a good age for Mass attendance. For the time being. Because around age 1 the balance tips again and that nightmare scenario in which your child holds the congregation hostage with his or her screaming becomes a reality once again. But for now she's past the unpredictability of the newborn stage without being at the temper tantrum age.

And she was so, so good! She looked around happily for the entirety of Mass. Henry was a bit antsy, and he's just so "in your face" with her, I had to settle him down a bit. But overall, it wasn't terrible! A big sigh of relief was had by all.

It was nice. It actually feels wrong for me to go to Mass by myself, without either child or Mike. Even though Mass-related child wrangling isn't an easy thing, I'd much rather deal with that than be without any of them.

After that, Anne took her nap and Henry and I made a run to the craft store and to Target for a few things. Then we had some family over to watch the Super Bowl and ate lots of deliciously fattening food. And I felt so much better yesterday. Things at work can make me feel anxious, but they aren't my LIFE, you know? I shouldn't worry about them so much.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Anne's world: 8.5 months

As you can see, she's at the refrigerator looking for a drink. :) I've been grumpy the past few days, so I determined that I wanted to dwell on more uplifting things. It's not helping that I have to edit my tenure documents, and the reason I'm blogging right now is to procrastinate with that *just* a hair longer. The good news is that my tenure documents look good, and once I make these few edits, they're ready to move on past the library-level review onto the university-level. I do feel confident that I will receive tenure. That's even better news. The bad news is that I have to rewrite the conclusion to my required Statement of Research Interests, and well. I wrote this thing, and I'd rather gouge my own eyes out than read it again.

So, Anne. She's adorable. She's also into everything. She's on top of things. She's inside of things. She's opening things. She's underneath things. She's dismantling things. She's unscrewing things. It's rather impossible to sit down and relax when she's on the loose these days.

And every day, I make sure to fit in an indoctrination session:

"Anne. Say: "Ma Ma. Ma Ma. Can you say that? MA MA."

She knows her name, and will look when you call her, which is pretty cute. And she does say Fa Fa. And Ba Ba. And what sounds like Tha Tha.

I'm busily putting yarn into my online shopping cart in preparation for knitting her some summer dresses. And a coat for next winter. And a new hat. God, I love knitting for her. I just love her. And I feel so blessed that we have her.

Although I'm still not sleeping at night, but hey. You can't have everything.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Am I extra punchy lately? And, defending life...

I don't know what it is, but Facebook has been bringing me more angst than good the past few days. Yesterday, it was contraception, and today it's abortion. Just the sorts of uplifting conversation pieces we like to dwell on.

You know what it is? I don't use Facebook to post about my political and moral leanings. And I kind of wish other people didn't either, but hey, to each their own. It just seems like lately, I'm seeing all kinds of "much further than I am left" posts, and the problem with that for me is that oftentimes, the posters seem to think that anyone they could possibly be friends with must completely agree with them. Because their tone isn't always so nice and understanding. At least, that's my impression.

I hesitated to write this post addressing my feelings on today's topic of the day, because I like to keep it light-hearted on here. But life isn't always light-hearted, and this is a blog about the life of this Catholic librarian, so there you have it. This is, after all, MY blog. If I feel a need (and it has to be compelling for me to talk about a downer topic) to post about something, I can do that. Sometimes I restrain myself a bit too much I think. This is also a CATHOLIC blog. So I'm certain everybody can surmise what my position is on life issues.

And today, I do feel so compelled. I saw lots of posts today about the Susan Komen Foundation withdrawing their funding from Planned Parenthood, and many expressed their opinion about how outrageous they found this. They're entitled to their opinion. But I'm entitled to mine. And I felt that it would be worthwhile to write briefly about why someone could support such a withdrawal, since it appeared to me that my friends who wrote about this news piece were incredulous that anyone who called themselves pro-life could favor withholding funding from an organization that provides free breast cancer screenings to women.

Well, I'll tell you why. Planned Parenthood is an organization that performs abortions. I don't care what percentage of their business entails performing these abortions. To the extent that they perform any abortions at all, when you believe (as I do) that human life begins at conception, even one abortion is too many. Therefore, they may do all the philanthropic work in the world, and I still cannot support them. Are free breast cancer screenings a good thing? Yes, of course they are. And if that was the only service they provided, I'd be all for it. However, that is not the case. Even though part of what they do may be good, they also do evil, and this I cannot abide. I cannot defend the indefensible.

I certainly hope that I haven't offended anybody. In everything, I aim to be fair and charitable. But I felt that I had to express the other side of this issue.

It is my deep feeling that many people consider themselves pro-choice because they have been touched by abortion in some way. They may know someone who had an abortion, they may have helped a person procure an abortion, and/or they may have had an abortion. Please know that I do not condemn you in any way. Not a single one of us is perfect. Although I have no personal experience with abortion, I have chosen to do things in my life that I am not proud of. Every single one of us needs the saving grace of God. Nobody here is "holier" or "better" than anybody else. I pray that we can all find healing and comfort from Him, and from each other.

And once again, I'm going to be revamping my Facebook settings. It's bad enough that I get so little sleep at night, I *really* need more uplifting news from what is supposed to be my relaxation portal...