Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book review Thursday...

Ahhh, finally taking a breather after a long day. Books have been on my mind lately, given that my Kindle is my new best friend. Mike gives it the slitty eye whenever he sees it in its adorable pink case accompanying me everywhere, like maybe he's jealous of the attention I'm lavishing on it. But seriously. I'm in love with it.

So, Catholic fiction. I did end up purchasing book 3 of the John Paul II High series for my Kindle and will dive into it as soon as I finish the novel I'm currently reading. Which is one of the "Fairy Tale Novels" series by Regina Doman. I own nearly the whole set that she's written so far in traditional print form, and I picked up the first book, The Shadow of the Bear, to read last week.

Let me tell you: I was impressed. These are books marketed to young adults, written by a homeschooling mom. But once again, this is young adult fiction that adults can enjoy and appreciate. The first 3 that she wrote are actually a trilogy, which I didn't know. I only own the first one, and now I'm dying to get the other 2 in that series (Black as Night and Waking Rose)! They're on my Kindle shopping list. :) Anyway, these are modern takes on old Grimm's fairy tales, and Shadow of the Bear is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red.

In this book, we meet 2 sisters who live with their mom in New York City. Their dad has recently passed away, and both are feeling out of sorts in their new Catholic high school. One night, their mom comes home from work and is nearly run down by a car just outside their house. A bedraggled looking young man helps her to safety and she invites him in out of the cold. The man calls himself "Bear" and appears to be homeless and has a touch of frostbite. The older sister, Blanche, is suspicious of his mysterious nature, although her impetuous younger sister Rose and their trusting mother accept him without question and invite him to come back for a visit later in the week. Blanche knows that she recognizes this man, and she believes that it was he who she has seen dealing drugs in their school parking lot.

As the story unfolds, we see Blanche and Rose go about trying to make friends and fit in at their school and figure out whether Bear is friend or foe. They both gradually come to treasure his evening visits to their home and the friendship and camaraderie he brings to their lonely lives. When it becomes clear that Bear is harboring a secret, both sisters want to get to the bottom of it and clear Bear's name.

I didn't know how I was going to like this book at first (it was a birthday gift) but I ended up loving it. I am keeping it for my own kids to read when they are teenagers. What I like the most about this book is how the author creates realistic Catholic characters and has them face challenges that all teenagers face. The characters then deal with those challenges (either at first, or ultimately, after having learned the hard way) in the way that we as Catholic parents would want them to. GOOD, good stuff.

Since I'm currently lacking the other 2 books in the series (very much anxious to hear the rest of Blanche and Rose's stories!) I picked up a stand alone book in this collection, The Midnight Dancers. Oh my. I couldn't put this book down! This is a modern take on Grimm's The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Our heroine in this story is Rachel, and yes, she has *11* sisters, plus 2 young brothers. It's a Brady Bunch situation with her widowed father remarrying and both of them bringing large families together into one. The sisters range in age from Rachel at 18 down to 11. Their father is overseas in the military, and after an injury, he decides to retire so that he can be home more with his children. Just before he retires, he meets a young army medic named Paul, and finds out that prior to beginning medical school the following fall, Paul will be a performer at a festival right in his home town. The two reconnect back in America, and Paul becomes a family friend. The intrigue comes in when the girls' father makes a request of Paul: to get to know his daughters and try to find out what secret they're hiding. Because he knows they have one, he just feels that he isn't close enough to them, after being away for so many years, to figure out what it is. Paul agrees to befriend the girls, but only on the condition that he won't divulge any information that he uncovers; he'll only work with the girls to tell their father themselves.

Ok, so here is the good part. The family is currently very fundamentalist Christian and both parents are extremely involved in their church. The girls feel stifled in the highly structured environment and long for freedoms that their parents would never allow. So what happens? They find an ingenious way to sneak out of their house every night while their parents are sleeping. For a time, they simply go to the nearby beach and swim. But then...boys get involved. Some boys from their church find out about their scheme and sneak out to meet them every night. Then...boys NOT from their church start coming. Then...they start traveling off the beach to an island nearby to have dances, since some of the boys have boats. There, they meet yet other interesting people with a mixed influence...

Paul, for his part, is watching out for them, unbeknownst to them. Paul is the Catholic character in this book, and naturally the other characters have a bit of an anti-Catholic bias against his faith. So that raises some interesting scenes. But what ends up happening is that when Paul finds out what the girls are up to, he feels that he should be around when they have these midnight escapades so that he can protect them and intervene if needed. They don't know he's there; he found out about their adventures on a lark and without their knowledge. He knows everything that they are doing, but he can't say anything to them about it. And he also doesn't want to say anything to the girls' parents. While the younger girls look up to him and enjoy his company, the older girls are a bit disdainful of their father's young friend. And yet they are the ones Paul is most concerned about, since they are drawing the eager attentions of numerous young men with dubious motives. Paul very gently tries to plant the seeds for the girls to trust their parents again and be able to communicate with them about concerns they have about the family's lifestyle, as well as reasonable individual choices they 'd like to make for themselves, such as their style of clothing and dating. He tries to get the girls to see that they shouldn't allow men to view them only in terms of their physical beauty.

This book was *excellent*. I couldn't stop reading it. The intrigue is just off the charts. I just had to keep finding out what would happen next, and if everybody was somehow going to get caught by the others! Highly, highly recommend this one. Now I'm reading Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyber Thieves, which is the author's most recent book.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I may have broken Amazon

I'm loving my new Kindle, and frankly, I need something to cheer me up given the rough nights we're having these days with Anne.

So yesterday, I took some time to pluck out a few titles that I'd like to read, and place them on my shopping list for future purchase. Then I noticed that when you have a Kindle, you can get a short sample of the book for free, to decide whether or not you like it. I got excited. Free is right in my budget right now. :) Thus, I downloaded a few samples.

Then, I started to justify a small purchase to myself. I have plenty of traditional books that are as yet unread on my shelves at home, but I *really* wanted to experiment with reading something on the Kindle. I had the samples, but I wanted more.

I'm avoiding secular books for Lent, so I browsed my wish list of Catholic titles. Eureka! Book 3 in the John Paul II High series. I've blogged about earlier installments in this series before. It's a young adult series that is really well done and I've loved both books that I've read. Books 3 and 4 and newly out and I'm itching to read them. For the Kindle, they are only $5 each.

Ha ha! Maybe I'll just download book 3. It's Catholic fiction, so it qualifies under my lenten reading plan. And I've been dying to read it. I'll just click "purchase"...

Uh oh. Amazon, in her infinite wisdom, is telling me that "due to copyright restrictions, this title is not available in your area: United States." Oh, this is bad. What about the next book in the Fairy Tales Retold series, which I'm going to blog about tomorrow or Friday (excellent young adult Catholic fiction from Chesterton Press)? Same message.

I started to panic. I went through my list of desired titles, including all the old Harlequin romances that I have queued up, plus the NASCAR books. All of them were listed as "unavailable in my area."

For an embarrassingly long period of time, I was convinced that my not-exactly-mainstream reading choices (Catholic fiction and Harlequin Treasury titles, combined with racing romances, *snorts*) were simply unavailable for me to read on Kindle. How many other people read these things? Maybe they'll never be available for Kindle!! Since I had just registered my Kindle the night before, I thought to myself:

"Now it knows where I am, since my new Kindle is registered to me, and so now all of this information about what is and is not available in my home area is coming out!"

I mean, seriously. Who is "it"? The Mysterious Amazon People Behind the Curtain? That makes no sense. I'm at the *U.S* Amazon store, it's not exactly rocket science that people from the U.S. are going to be buying those books. And they were all listed with a price as available before yesterday afternoon.

I forced myself to squelch my panic-induced paranoia and went back to the listings for the sample that I'd downloaded just that morning, for one of the modern Fairy Tale Novels. Same message. I released a little of my tension, since I knew that that was impossible. The sample was currently on my Kindle, no problem.

I went into the Kindle Forums, and saw a thread with lots of confused Amazon customers. Apparently every single person currently living in the United States could not at that moment download anything from the Kindle Store.

Dear me. This wasn't the fault of me and John Paul II High, was it? Had I broken something and screwed the entire country? Well, nobody knows, but they were all blaming Harry Potter. All these years after those books came out, and yesterday was the very first day that all 7 Harry Potter books were available for download onto Kindle. Previously, the author has resisted having them converted into ebook format. And speculation was that maybe it was all those Harry Potter fans that broke Amazon.

But at any rate, an hour later, when I went to leave for home, Amazon was still broken. Sometime over the evening, they fixed it, since everything is put to rights again over there. But still. Panic abounded. We all couldn't get our instant gratification of having a book we desired in our hot little hands within a single minute of ordering it. Travesty!

We are all so incredibly spoiled. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A new member of the family

Yesterday was a long day. I worked, then went home to collect the children. Mike had to teach in the evening, so I took the kids to my parents for dinner. By the time Anne had finished throwing puffs on the floor and Henry started to whine that he was bored, I was all done in.

We stacked into the car and drove home. As I struggled to the door with Anne in her bucket style car seat, the diaper bag, my purse, and the bag of stuff that my mom had sent home with me, Henry opened the side screen door. There it was.

My Kindle.

Needless to say, this made the exhaustion of the day much easier to take. I quickly got Anne into her jammies, nursed, and down into her crib. I had Henry go up to put on his pajamas and brush his teeth. As he wandered upstairs, I relished the sound of the quiet house and triumphantly tore into my package.

Kindles come in Amazon guaranteed "frustration free packaging" for which the powers that be deserve to be canonized. I'm certain we've all nearly killed ourselves Christmas morning while trying to free our child's new Batcave from the package. Those hard plastic restraining straps? The sharp plastic coating that one could easily impale a limb on? Things with SCREWS in them?! Ugh.

Anyway, I quickly freed my Kindle and turned her on. I've been thinking about a name all week, but it wasn't really an option to give her a name like I do my iPods. (I was thinking about Kateri. I always use holy names. My current iPod Nano is named "Max" after St. Maximillian Kolbe. Well, I suppose they're not all holy. My old iPod Shuffle is named "Spike." "St. Spike, pray for us..." No, likely not). Anyway, she calls herself "Tiffany's Kindle" which is just fine with me.

I got her all registered and set up with our wireless network. I slipped her into her snazzy pink cover for protection. Then I downloaded St. Therese's Story of a Soul and a bunch of free romance novels. I was glowing.

The screen is unbelievable. It is positively unreal how beautiful it is. I expected it to look like a computer screen, I guess. But it doesn't. The e-ink actually looks like a *book*. I love it.

I'm *dying* to dive into my new novels, but I'm not reading secular books during Lent.


And this is one lenten resolution that I've actually stuck with, and we're in the home stretch. I've really been enjoying the Catholic fiction and non-fiction that I've been reading so it's hardly a hardship. I have more books to review this week, so keep an eye out. :)

Anyway, I peeked at Story of a Soul and that is going to have to tide me until Easter Sunday. There was a bunch of other good stuff available for free due to being out of copyright. St. Thomas Aquinas, G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

So far, I'm terribly glad that I finally purchased an ebook reader. I have Kindle with me today at work, and she's happily nestled on my desk after charging up. We're getting along just fine.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Is that a Cheerio she just launched? Anne goes to Mass...

So, yesterday I took both children to Mass with me. This rarely happens, since Anne is usually napping when Henry and I go to Mass. But she's sleeping like rotting garbage again these days, so she slept in, given that she hadn't slept much during the actual night. Hence, she was wide awake in time to leave for 10 am Mass. So I took them both.

And it went just fine.

At first.

Well, I mean, overall I've come a long way from "The Incident" (link too painful to provide here, but on the right navigation bar for those that have yet to read that harrowing tale). So I'm happy to report that I handled things well. And really, it wasn't that bad. It was quite typical of what you'd expect from Mass with a 10 month old.

We arrived, with Anne in her pink outfit quickly taking on celebrity status amongst the older ladies in our parish. She looked around with much interest and flirted with a toddler in the pew across the aisle. She enjoyed the music and was quiet as a church mouse.

For a little while.

Then came the Liturgy of the Word. Henry settled in coloring his Magnifikid! and Anne turned to me with that expression that all parents know: Fussy Face.

We're all familiar with Fussy Face. There's just that edge of irritation and impatience mixed in with a chubby-faced overtired scowl. It's usually accompanied by wordless gestures that are unmistakable:






So, I get The Face, and she begins to squirm. I quickly pull out a teether that is shaped like a bumble bee. She takes it, shakes it angrily right near my face a few times, and flings it to the floor. Fantastic. This is going really well.

I make Henry retrieve the teether, and I pull out the strongest weapon in my arsenal: Cheerios.

Anne is eating finger foods now, and let me tell you, this revolutionizes our lives. We can actually go out to eat as a family in restaurants again. She'll sit happily in her high chair with us while we eat dinner. She'll munch them in her stroller and we can go on walks again without one of us having to carry her halfway through. It's downright miraculous.

So I brought a bag of Cheerios with us to Mass. I've been through this before, so I opened the Ziploc bag carefully and left it in the diaper bag, taking the Cheerios out one at a time, rather than bringing a container of them right out into the open. Yes, it is possible for me to learn from past mistakes. Anne pinches a Cheerio carefully between her thumb and pointer finger and pops it into her mouth. *sigh of relief* There was an occasional thrown Cheerio, but Henry retrieved all of them for me, and nobody was injured.

We continue in this vein for awhile, even through the homily. Just as I was starting to worry about running out of Cheerios it was time to stand up to recite the creed. And this is where the trouble began.

Clearly, the novelty of being in church had worn off, and she was beginning to get tired. I got the Fussy Face again, combined with the lethal Put Me Down! body language. I switched her to my other hip and tried to bounce her discreetly. Unfortunately, she was not in a mood to be trifled with. That's when the squawking began.

A little bit of squawking I will try to temper. When the squawking advances to Really Loud Unhappy Baby! I extract the offender from the sanctuary. And that's the point we reached immediately after the collection. We head to the back of the church.

Our parish doesn't have a cry room, so we just hung in the back entrance, which is actually quite large. There are speakers in there, so we could hear, plus the wall to the church is glass, so we could still see. Aside from not being able to sit down, it wasn't bad.

Henry loved it back there. He was happily walking around poking into holy water dispensers, plastic rosaries and Catholic literature. Anne settled down as soon as it became clear that I would be pacing back and forth with her in my arms. Motion is always so vital with babies.

Right at communion time, Henry announced that he had to go to the bathroom. *sigh* The bathrooms are right there, but naturally, he didn't finish with anything resembling speed, so I had to poke my head in and instruct him to just wait for me outside the door when he finished so that I could go and receive communion.

Communion reception went fine, even with me receiving on the tongue. I've only had the Eucharistic Minister try to put the host into my hand one time when it was clear that I had a baby in my arms and I was sticking my tongue out. Receiving on the tongue definitely seems to make many people uncomfortable.

Anyway, when I got back to our spot in the rear Henry was waiting for us perkily. By this point my arms were killing me, but everything was going well. We awaited the dismissal hymn and stole back out to our car.

So, all in all, it went pretty well, all things considered. The instant we got home, Anne went down for a long nap.

Next week, for Palm Sunday, she'll be home napping with daddy. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review Friday

I've been doing well with my lenten reading, and I just finished a Catholic fiction entry entitled Bleeder, published by Sophia Institute Press under their Imagio Catholic Fiction line. It's a murder mystery, and it was quite good. And frankly, any Catholic fiction whatsoever is hard to find, so I'm thrilled to point books out when I do find them, particularly when they come from an orthodox Catholic press.

Our protagonist is Reed Stubblefield, a college professor recently the victim of violence which has left him traumatized and disabled, who heads to his brother's remote cabin in northern Illinois for some relaxation and writing to soothe his soul. He's not a Catholic, but quickly becomes aware of a priest in the area who has attracted quite a bit of attention due to claims of his alleged healing powers and possession of the stigmata - the wounds of Christ. Reed's brother is a new Catholic convert and friend of the priest in question, Father Ray. His brother conspires to initiate a friendship between Reed and the priest, believing that it will prove emotionally and spiritually beneficial.

We follow Reed as he struggles through meeting new people in the tiny town and getting to know Father Ray - is he genuine, or perpetuating a giant hoax? We encounter journalists, both kindly and unscrupulous, and a rabid group of followers of Father Ray. Some are vehement in their devotion of him, while others present themselves as following an old Gnostic heresy and use him for their own purposes.

Suddenly... (and this isn't a spoiler, it's right in the description of the book on the back cover) Father Ray bleeds to death on Good Friday during Mass. What happened to him? Was this part of his stigmata, or something much more sinister? The police think Reed has something to do with all this. What on earth would the motive of an ailing Presbyterian classics professor be?

I very much enjoyed this book. Reed is quite likeable, and there is a host of interesting secondary characters. The storyline is intriguing, and I thought handled in a very realistic and thought provoking manner. I definitely recommend this book.

The book has a web site, which also includes information about a sequel entitled Viper which I just found out about. It looks like Marian visions will now come into play. Here's the description:

"Just before All Souls' Day someone entered the names of nine parishoners in her church's Book of the Dead, seeking prayers for their souls. The problem? All nine are still alive. Until they start getting by the precise order their names were entered in the Book of the Dead...and always right after a local visionary sees a mysterious woman known as the Blue Lady..."

I just added this to my Amazon wish list. :)

And speaking of Amazon, my Kindle is now merely one state away in transport. So close to me, precious Kindle! I suppose it's too much to hope for that she'll arrive tomorrow, instead of spending the whole weekend cold and alone in a UPS truck, poor thing...

Thursday, March 22, 2012


It's freakishly hot here, and frankly, I'm not liking it. :) We had a barely recognizable winter here, and now it's 80 degrees in March. I don't want to *sweat* in March. There's just something apocalyptically wrong with that.

So, not only am I hot, but my hair is sticking up. *sighs* Remember how I mentioned the postpartum hair loss thing? Yeah, that thing. Well, after both of my babies (I still did have hair left, don't worry) I would get regrowth *right* at the front hairline. And right now, it's at that awkward phase where it won't lay flat. And it's right in the front. I keep wetting it, and it'll still stick up the instant it dries. I got desperate. I stuck a bobby pin over it, and I just left it in. I mean, at work and everything. It actually looks kind of cute. Better than a tuft of hair sticking up in front anyway.

However, significantly cheering me is news from the world of my Kindle: She has shipped.


I even got a special email from Amazon, congratulating me on her impending arrival into my arms.

I am SO EXCITED. She's due Monday, even earlier than I anticipated! Oh sweet day!

I've been perusing the ebook options both at our public library and via the Kindle store, and I've made even more exciting discoveries. Some old, out of print romances very dear to my heart but that I no longer own are available for the Kindle. And they're like $3-$4 per book! I'm so super thrilled. I used to love this Harlequin romantic comedy series called Love & Laughter. It became defunct in the late 90's. They're all available in the Kindle store as reissues under a "Harlequin Treasury" imprint. The public library does not catalog these old Harlequins, so this is pretty much the only way to get your little hands on these old titles. Well, there is the used bookstore, but she tries to get rid of the old series romances quickly because they're not hot sellers. I am *so thrilled* that I'll be able to pick the exact ones I want again!

I'll have to calm down a tad since I'm not reading any secular books until after Lent. But still, I can play with Kindle and load on some spiritual classics while I'm waiting.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Adventures in Best Buy, and Magnifikid! review

A couple of interesting purchases to detail. :) Henry used his Magnifikid! for 3 weeks, and finally I made a decision: I decided to get him a subscription. It's $34.95 for one year.

Magnifikid! comes in a clear wrapped packet of 1 booklet for each week of the month. Each booklet contains artwork and prayers associated with the Gospel theme of the week. It includes a kid-friendly rendition of the liturgy, explanation of tough terms, a comic starring "Brother Goodventure," and a puzzle, maze or picture to color. It's targeted to children ages 6-12.

Henry likes having his own book to carry to Mass. I will admit that his favorite feature is the maze or other activity included on the back cover. Last week was a holy word find.


Next week is a picture of stained glass to color, not sure if he's going to be as crazy about that. But he does ask me where we are in the Mass so that he can follow along in his little book. He'll look at the pictures and flip through it during the homily, etc. Even though he's not studying it in depth or anything, I still thought that anything that improves his enthusiasm for attending Mass was worth the subscription price. Since we started bringing the booklets with us, he's been better about going to Mass with me. So, that's that, and I'm glad I got him the subscription. We have one last free trial issue for this Sunday, and then we're out of them until his new subscription starts arriving. I'll be curious to see how much he asks about them in their temporary absence.

Once again, I wasn't using my sample Magnificat, so I didn't order a subscription for myself. I already own the 4 volume Liturgy of the Hours set, so I can always use that when I want more discipline for daily prayer. But when Lent started, I was using my Liturgy of the Hours like a good girl. As soon as I started trying to use the Magnificat, I fell off the wagon. That's a wonderful little magazine, but I just don't use it.

So anyway, in other purchase news, I journeyed to our local Best Buy yesterday after work for a few things. I was eligible for a cell phone upgrade, and plus, I wanted to play with the Kindles.

I tackled the more interesting task first. The Kindles and I, we frolicked. I tested out their features and they let me hold them. I am quite taken with them. The "demo" mode really restricts you in the store, but overall, I loved them.

After that, I moved sections real quick-like to do my cell phone upgrade. It's pretty uncomplicated with me, which I don't think the suave salesman was prepared for.

"Can I help you, Miss?" *beams*

He gets bonus points for calling me "Miss" rather than "Ma'am." Makes me feel younger.

"Hi, yes. I have Verizon, and I'm eligible for an upgrade. I don't have a data plan, nor do I want one. I'd like a Qwerty keypad for texting, but I want a free phone. I'm pretty sure these are my few options right here, correct?"

"Um. Wow, you're very prepared. Yes, without a data plan you're very limited. There are your 3 options here."

I can see the little bubble over his head saying "No data plan. What a strange, strange creature."

There were 2 additional phones available for $30 with my upgrade, and they had a touch screen, but I'll show my old-fashionedness (is that even a word?) again here. I don't want a touch screen. Finger prints make me spastic.

So the choice was easy. I simply chose the same phone that I already had in the newer model. In electric blue, because I like loud colors. My cell phone is purely functional for me. I do like to text my sisters and friends, so I pay $5.00 per month for 250 texts, and I never surpass that amount. I have a *really* old plan that is $39.99 for 450 minutes per month, with free Verizon to Verizon and nights/weekends, yadda, yadda.

The phone guy's eyebrows raised again when he went tappy tappy on his computer keyboard and looked up my plan to renew it.

"Wait. It says 'this phone is incompatible with the current plan.' Why on earth would it say that? Oohhhhh. Your plan is REALLY OLD. They're going to make you upgrade."

I'm assuming "they" are the Verizon People From Up On High. This made me sweat for a second, since taxes really add up on these cell phone plans, and I don't want to pay any more per month than I'm already paying. I don't *need* anything else other than the service I'm already receiving, so I don't want an "upgrade."

Well, the good news was that they call it something else now, but I could still have the same plan as I was currently registered for, so that's good. He set everything up on my cute new blue number, and I was set. Payment: $0. Sweet.

I lingered over the Kindles again before I left. We bonded.

So, the big news is: I did it. I just placed my order for a Kindle (the $79 entry model) with accompanying (and adorable) pink case. She needs a name, but I haven't thought of one yet. Perhaps it will become clear to me once she arrives and I hold her for the first time. :)

At any rate, I'm *super* excited. She's due to arrive mid-next week. Now, if only babies were on this type of gestation timeline...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh boy...

You know, it's interesting. Lately, as we all know, the Church has taken quite a beating in the media. And I think we'd all agree that the disagreement is coming from those more "to the left," if you will. That's certainly a generalization, but I think it's a fair one. But yet, (and I have to admit, I find this amusing, albeit hurtful) the Church also takes a beating from the exact polar end of the spectrum, the far right.

This morning, I logged onto Facebook, and my lovely friend Cam from the A Woman's Place... blog drew my attention to a post by a headcovering shop that in the past, I've highly recommended on this blog: Garlands of Grace (link purposely excluded, ha!). I've "liked" the Garlands of Grace Facebook page, so I quickly found the source of Cam's comment:

"In response to several ladies who have wondered and many others who have presumed, I am compelled to share:Garlands of Grace in NOT a Catholic run business. I am burdened for all who stand with the Catholic Church and would plead with you to come out and believe the Word of God."This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:11-12"

Well then. I have absolutely no problem patronizing businesses that are not Catholic, not Christian, or even totally secular. What I DO have a problem with is associating with businesses that are downright anti-Catholic. THAT the Catholic Librarian does not tolerate.

Because the thing is, Garlands of Grace is not simply clarifying that they are not a Catholic run company. They are flat out saying that Catholics are not Christians and need to "come out" in order to actually "believe the Word of God." This viewpoint is certainly not pervasive amongst all non-Catholic Christians, but unfortunately I've seen it before, and it's insidious amongst at least a small representation of Christians. Very sad, but true.

Underneath this post, as one might imagine, a real brouhaha has erupted in the comments section. Happily, a sizable number of commenters (by far the majority) are charitable and articulate Catholics defending the Church and letting the business owners know that they will not shop there nor recommend the store anymore. There's also some ugly stuff mixed in there, including one woman who called the Church a "glorified cult" but that's par for the course, I suppose. I considered commenting, but then demured. The other Catholics there did an outstanding job of articulating my feelings beautifully and in a kind and charitable fashion. I just "liked" their comments to lend support. But I did "unlike" the page on Facebook to let the shop know that I'm no longer a fan of theirs. I'm curious to see how Garland of Grace's number of fans goes down due to this. It looks like a significant number of their (now former) customers are Catholic.

Anyway, I'm saddned by this, but I suppose I'm not totally surprised. If the Church made everybody happy all of the time, *that* would be something to worry about.

On a more positive note, if you're in the market for headcoverings, check out Cam's etsy shop A Snood for all Seasons. I just bought 2 coverings from her (the convertible type), and they're beautiful! She also sells coverings for little girls, and I'm plotting a purchase for Anne. How cute will that be?!

So, the morning is off to an adventurous start...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Big news Monday:


Clearly, my months of indoctrination have worked. I mean, she doesn't seem to realize that Ma Ma is my *name* given that she just chants it at random, but we'll ignore that part. I'm just thrilled that she's saying it at all, given that Hank was 18 months old before he said Ma Ma. The only good part about that was that when he'd wake up at the crack of dawn and start chanting "Da Da Da Da," I'd tell Mike that he should go fetch him, since clearly, the baby wanted him. :)

She also slept better this weekend. The 7:30 bedtime really seems to be helping, plus, well. She's doing the one thing that that is pretty much guaranteed to improve her sleep: she's developing and getting older. That's what all the "helpful" sleep advice people whose children allegedly slept through the night from the hospital fail to tell you. Your baby WILL sleep better. They're just not going to do it as a young infant. When they get older they'll sleep better. And thank God for that.

Anne turned 10 months old this weekend. I have very mixed feelings on this. :) She's so extremely precious, and we're enjoying her so much. So I'm focusing on the positives. But on the other hand: my baby! I don't want her to turn a year old, I'm just not ready for that.

Anyway, that's that. If you didn't catch my Sunday post, be sure to do that and let me know what you think. :) I'm still contemplating that ebook reader, so leave a comment if you have some advice. I did, however, remember something that has the potential to put that plan on hold: the used bookstore.

How I *adore* the used bookstore! I haven't been there in years. But I could trade in my romances there and you get 25% of the cover price in credit. Then when you buy other books there, you automatically get 50% off the cover price, plus an additional 25% off from your accumulated credit. So, you end up getting 75% off. And this store is targeted to women's fiction. It's full of romance novels. I haven't traded in any books there in ages, but I could again very easily. This would solve my space problem. Plus it would preserve my love of my precious print books. And buying the print books via Harlequin's web site is still dirt, dirt cheap, even cheaper than ebooks! They have everything discounted, plus perpetual coupon codes for money off your total. So I could get new romances there and trade them in at the used bookstore for supplementary books. Hum. Not sure what I'll do. Mike is pleased with my desire to explore the used bookstore again. He nearly keeled over last night when I mentioned that I was contemplating a Kindle. He's definitely not an electronic device lover. If I tried to read in bed with my Kindle he may contemplate an annulment.

But the Kindle would still be a nice supplement to my print books, no? If you love your ebook reader, convince me. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I may go over to the dark side

That's right. I'm considering buying an ebook reader.

This is rather anathema in my world. You see, I love books. Real, live books. I like the way they look all lined up on my shelf and tucked onto my bedside table. I like the way they feel in my hands. I even like the way new books smell. And I became a librarian because as a child I so loved to read, and that has continued throughout my life.

I'm certain that actual print books will always have a place in my life. But I've been noticing a few things lately. The first is space. I keep having to weed my print collection because we simply don't have room to store all of the books that we'd like to. Plus, there are a lot of free ebooks out there. Stuff that is out of copyright (St. Therese's Story of a Soul!), promotional offers to get you hooked on an author. I've been getting back into my Harlequin roots again, and that's been making me ponder: I love these books, but what do I do with them after I read them? I'll keep some favorites, but I don't need all of these little romance novels taking up space on my one bookcase. I end up giving them to friends to read, or donating them to the library book sale. AND there are many of those books out there for free as ebooks! Or, very inexpensive, often times much less expensive than getting the print. Not always, certainly. And there's nothing I like more than having a shipment of books waiting for me. But sometimes, there are things available as ebooks that you can't get in print (or would have to order used in print, adding shipping fees to your purchase that you wouldn't ordinarily pay if you bought new).

Like for example, I'll embarrass myself by admitting something: I like the old Harlequin NASCAR series. Go ahead, laugh. But those books are mostly out of print now. A few are available new on Amazon. Harlequin only sells them as ebooks now, they're totally out of stock in their print book store. One is availble for free as an ebook over at Amazon, and they have others in the Kindle store that are all less expensive than buying them in print, either new or used. Harlequin has the whole series available in ebook format.

Anyway, I have about $56 in credit from Amazon from trading in some old books I wasn't using anymore. And their least expensive Kindle is a mere $79. It's got me to thinking that maybe I should just buy it. It would only cost me $23 with the credit! I'd still certainly buy and read print books. But the Kindle would allow me to access free books I wouldn't ordinarily have access to at all, and save money sometimes if I'm not really wedded to keeping a copy of the print book lying around.

But it worries me. Will I still enjoy reading on the device the way I do print books? Will I become one of those annoying people who always has their nose buried in their electronic device? No offense, but those people really get under my skin. :)

So, what do you all think? Should I do it? Do you have a Kindle or a Nook?

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's new in Anne's world...

Unfortunately, "sleep" is not new in her world. But we're persevering.

What is new to her this week is finger foods. She's loving her foray into Cheerios. And those little puffs you can buy at the store that have approximately 20 calories per 200,000 puffs. But it's sweet, you can pop her into the high chair with some of those on her tray and she'll happily entertain herself for 20-30 minutes while you actually have your hands free to do something other than pull her chubby form away from Something That You Don't Want Her To Have.

She used to hate her high chair. Suddenly, it's her best friend. Usually. Occasionally she'll kick and throw her head back when you try to put her in there (this can't possibly bode well for the Terrible Two's, sigh). But most of the time she's happy as a clam in there.

We have a traditional looking Fisher Price high chair. Easy to wipe down and wheel about when the need arises. And the seat features this little bug print. They're friendly looking bugs. Although Anne apparently does not share my opinion. I keep catching her swiveled around in the seat looking at the bugs with an expression that can only be read as:

"There you are again you EVIL FIENDS!! Why are you staring at me like that?!"

She's precious.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring has sprung

Signs that spring is officially here:

(1) I'm no longer wearing my cute LLBean Storm Chasers to and from work and have started wearing my Mary Janes home.

(2) A transitional fleece jacket has replaced my heavy winter wool coat.

(3) I'm starting to knit with cotton.

(4) A crow flew by me today with some straw-like stuff in her beak. At least this year she wasn't bound for our house. Last year we had a mourning dove nest in one of our windowsills and house sparrows in our attic vent. It's like there was a "SYMPATHETIC BREEDING FEMALE" aura that they all sensed.

(5) I'm coveting yarn in spring greens and pinks. Because I already don't have enough yarn. *snorts*

(6) Our tulips are starting to come up.

I love spring. Such a fresh, sweet feeling to it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A lenten update, and the future of our Catholic schools

I was thinking about Lent this morning because I haven't been doing nearly as well as I would like with my daily devotions. When March started, I moved over to trying out the sample copy of Magnificat that I received, and as happened before, I'm just not using it. The simple truth is that I get lazy. I love saying my rosary in the mornings, but reading the morning and evening prayers just isn't happening. I did do better with my Liturgy of the Hours set, maybe I should go back to those. But as much as I admire Magnificat, I just don't use it to it's fullest potential. Hank at least has been using his Magnifikid! He still has 2 more issues left (they're actually divided into small booklets for each week) and we'll see how he does with those. I'm on the fence about getting him a subscription. I'm much more likely to pursue a subscription for him than I am for myself for the monthly Magnificat, I just want to make sure that he's going to really, really use it for $35 a year. I'll make a decision in the next week or so.

I will say that I've been keeping up with reading only Catholic nonfiction and religious fiction for Lent. I've been moving forward with The End and the Beginning and I love it. I finished up my Amish book and I plucked a new Catholic fiction volume off my shelf that I received for my birthday. I've been *very* tempted by some secular romance novels lately. I feel no compunction in saying that my reading roots are romance fiction, and I love this genre. I've been hoarding inexpensive Harlequin titles on my shelves that I picked up on the cheap, and I'm *dying* to delve into them, but I'm managed herculean restraint and I'm saying them for Easter time. I feel very martyr-like for my efforts.

Anyway, I was dwelling on my lenten failures this morning as I poured my cereal and Anne attempted to eat the throw rug at my feet, when Mike drew my attention to an article in the local section of our newspaper: yet another nearby Catholic school, running for the past *95 years* is closing at the end of this academic year.

This is so, so sad. Over the past 5 years or so, this area has seen a deluge of beautiful and historic Catholic parishes and schools close, and it's just heartbreaking.

We live in the heart of the Rust Belt. This area, once thriving with immigrants and their families, has had a massive loss of population. Those immigrants were mainly of Italian and Polish descent, so there were a LOT of Catholics. All of those Catholics attended gorgeous old-style Catholic churches and sent their kids to Catholic school. This school in question, the one that is closing, peaked in attendance with approximately 650 students back in the late 1950's and early 1960's. 10 years ago it had about 185 students. This school year, it had 109 students. For the upcoming academic year, only 60 students had enrolled, despite aggressive efforts to boost enrollment.

There's a lot of competition in this area, despite prior school closings. Very close to this school are 2 other Catholic schools , plus 5 others within a decently close driving distance, including the one Henry attends. And that's after 3 Catholic schools in this same area closed over the past few years! And the fact of the matter is, there's not as many people living in this area anymore. And of those people remaining that are Catholic, many of them just don't feel a pressing need to send their kids to Catholic school the way families used to. Now granted, there are lots of reasons parents decide to send their children to a public or otherwise non-Catholic school, and that's totally understandable. For many people, it's financial. The public school is free (aside from our tax money, of course). And for children with special needs the public school often offers more services for them.

But I can't help but think a huge issue is the fact that so many Catholics do not (or rarely) attend Mass anymore. People that aren't involved in their parish community are much less likely to send their children to the parish school. That combined with the two issues I mentioned above translates into a much smaller pool of students interspersed over all of these old Catholic schools, and you see the closings that we're experiencing now.

The school that Henry attends is doing well, thankfully, but it *is* smaller than the other 2 close by Catholic schools, which are absolutely thriving. This makes me terribly nervous. I just continue to recommend the school to other parents and hope for the best. I'd think that Henry's school would get a few families from this school that is closing, since it's not too far away. There's one that is closer that I'm certain will pick up the majority of them. Our diocese is offering a $500 stipend to all families in the closing school to enroll in any other diocesan Catholic school next year. And they'll be eligible for the discounted parishoner tuition rate. We also receive this rate, since we attend a parish without a Catholic school. Our parish school closed after running for just over 100 years. Only 80 students enrolled. So, so sad.

I mentioned my sadness to Mike, who concurred. I expressed a bit of anxiety about what we would do should Henry's school close, and happily he mentioned that we could look at the other 2 Catholic schools in our town. So, we'll see what happens. But we take pride in Henry's school and support it as much as we can. Enrollment time came up recently for next year, and I'm thrilled that we registered Henry for second grade there.

He came home the other day with a lenten journal that he had to decorate. PRECIOUS. I just love that he is there.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



This makes 6, and yet SHE'S STILL TEETHING. Actively. She tried to suck on the rocking chair last night when I was trying to soothe her back to sleep. So, we're still working on this, but I am grateful that she has 2 brand new little fangs in the past 3 days.

We're hanging in there, but sleep is still an issue. She was only up one time last night, but we were up for about 2 hours together. We did watch a nice episode of The Golden Girls together. :)

So, we'll see how tonight goes, but it seems like the pushed back bedtime is really helping. She's terribly cute, though. Terribly, terribly cute.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Belly dancing makes everything better, which helps since SOMEONE IS WALKING

Well, after a very long week last week with Anne, I'm happy to report that we had a good weekend. And, praise the good Lord above, one new baby fang has come through the gum line. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure at least 1 more is in the immediate wings, but I'll take any reprieve we can get at this point. We also experimented with putting her to bed just a hair later (she was going to bed quite early at 7 pm) and that seems to have helped too.

And we need all the strength we can get at this point given that the child has decided that she is going to start walking. SHE IS 9 AND A HALF MONTHS OLD. This should *not* be happening! I guess it's because she has an older sibling, but holy smokes. I wish she'd cool it a bit.

She stands unassisted very well now. And for a week or so she'd take a few shuffling steps before plopping down to crawl, since that was clearly so much faster for her. But now that we've been having her practice (I suppose we're enabling her, sigh) she'll let go of whatever she's holding on to and come wobbling over to you, beaming as she goes. She doesn't make it very far before going splat, but she's clearly progressing at an alarmingly fast rate. A whole new level of baby-proofing is coming our way.

At any rate, I did manage to peel myself off the couch on Friday night to attend my dance class, and as ever, I'm so soothed by my participation there. I just love those girls. We had a performance scheduled for Sunday, so much rehearsing commenced. It was for a women's retreat at a local hotel.

We have several group numbers that we're all pretty familiar with, so we went with those. We're learning a new cane number, but that one is no where near done yet, so that's been on the shelf for several weeks. Near the end, Claire sprung the big news on us:

"Why don't we do one improv (improvisation, in other words not having a planned choreography, just spontaneous dancing) number at the end, and we can all spread out around the room and try and get people to dance?"

Oh boy. Improv scares the absolute daylights out of me. There's nothing a control oriented person fears more than not having a plan. Therefore, I made it my immediate goal to plan out my improv.

I mean, I knew I couldn't totally create a choreography or anything. But at least I could practice improvising to the song Claire said she was going to use and maybe have a few accents or combinations planned out ahead of time. I know that all professional dancers improvise and to truly grow as a dancer I need to challenge myself with this more often, but I can't help it. It scares me. I widen my eyes at it and slowly back away.

So on Sunday morning, a few hours before the performance, while Mike worked on his grading, I set Hank up with a video and Anne in her high chair with some Cheerios. I put the music on and tried dancing around the kitchen. I felt ridiculous, but Anne seemed to enjoy it. She bopped along with the music as she munched. By the end of 45 minutes or so, I felt better. Sweaty, but better. Just relaxing with the music at home inspired me a bit. Plus, I discovered one extremely vital secret:

My veil. Using a veil while improvising makes it infinitely easier. It's almost like doing a duet. There's something else for everyone to look at, and it makes me feel a bit less like an animal in a cage at the zoo. Plus, you can swirl it around in a bunch of different ways while you search your mind frantically for what movement you'll do next:

"ooohhhh pretty! Good, that buys me 5 additional seconds to figure out what the heck I'm going to do next."

So, that helped. Soon it was time to costume up and head out. I just prayed that none of my neighbors looked out their window as I walked out to our garage in my mumu-like coverup with sparkly green costume sticking out underneath. And sandals. I know it's March, but I had just painted my toenails. My version of a pedicure: paint over the old and chipping polish that I last applied back in November. Instant glamour.

I arrived and saw another mumu-clad figure entering the hotel. A kindred spirit! It was a member of my class, and so we walked in together. I give the woman at the front desk a lot of credit for not batting an eye when we walked in. She directed us to the room we needed and we found the rest of our class bunched up in a corner, chatting. Claire was teaching for the hour prior to our performance, and so we were waiting for her to finish. She wasn't sure how many people she would get for the event, saying it could be anywhere from 3 to 300.

Well, it was 3. Or, 4 to be exact. 3 women and one surly looking teenager. Thankfully, due to the fact that we now outnumbered our audience, Claire told us to axe the improv section. It might scare people to have multiple belly dancers vying for their attention, all focused only on THEM.

This took quite a bit of the pressure off, to be sure. Group numbers are very non-nerve wracking for me now. So, we did them, and Claire did a smashing solo with a sword. One audience member looked quite enthusiastic and was watching us, smiling. The others, not so much. Claire always tells us to "connect with your audience! make eye contact, smile!" but of course that only works when the audience looks alive. But what can one do? We did well, and we had fun. We took some pictures afterwards. And it got me excited by the thought of planning a new solo for the upcoming spring hafla.

And thankfully, I had gotten more sleep, so all was well.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The birds tell me that spring is here...

...but it's hard for me to tell, since I can hardly see straight I'm so tired. Last night was another Hall of Famer "We'll Torture Her By Talking About This Night Until She Grows Up And Has Her Own Kids." BECAUSE THEN SHE WILL UNDERSTAND.

I knew it was coming though, because she screamed for the entire evening, and it wasn't just her regular "I'm tired!" cry. It was much more intense than that, and I knew it had to be her teeth. Plus, she's soaking whole sleepers with her drool.

So, then the night commenced, and we won't dwell on it, lest I slip down into a sleep-deprived depression. We'll just say it was bad. Real bad. Luckily, Mike and I have navigated these types of nights before, and so we were still speaking to each other this morning. Sleep deprivation brings out the worst in us, like it does most people, I would think.

And so this morning, as I drove onto campus, I saw a robin. Precious little guy! His arrival means that surely, spring is right around the corner. And so is sleep. Please God.

I have belly dance tonight, and somehow I have to manage to drag my pathetic self there because we have a performance on Sunday. How I'm going to manage to dance when I can barely climb the stairs is still a mystery, but somehow, I'll work it out.

Here's hoping that when I post on Monday, I'm perky and well rested. :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Slowly trying to regain consciousness

In Parent Speak, last night was "less bad" than the nights we've had over the course of the past week. What this actually means is that this is our second kid and our sleep standards are so low that anything short of "Anne set off a bomb in her crib every 20 minutes" is "decent." We had lots of trouble getting her to sleep at the beginning of the night, and she woke several times, but overall, it didn't suck as badly as it has for the past few nights.

Yesterday she had her 9 month well baby visit, which Mike took her to. When I got home from work, I read the canned sheet the office gives you at each well visit letting you know what should be going on with your baby at that age and things to look out for. Well. Tucked right into the middle of the included bullet points was this:

"Your baby may wake at night. Make sure to place a safe but loved toy in her crib."

I read that out loud. Then I looked at Mike. We both burst out laughing.

I mean, really. Between being pregnant and then having an infant, I haven't slept solidly through the night for nearly 2 years. DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THE BABY MAY WAKE ME UP AT NIGHT?! Thank GOD they mentioned that. Otherwise, I may not have realized it.

My mother keeps telling me that NONE of us were still waking in the night at 9 months. Well, except for my younger sister, whom is never permitted to forget this travesty she committed against my parents. :) But me and my older sister? Sleeping through the night by 6 months. Or so she claims. I keep glaring at her and telling her that she's lying, but she's insistent.

At any rate, I'm hanging in there. And hanging on to hope that at one year, that magic fairy sleep dust will fall from the ceiling and Anne will suddenly start sleeping for 12 hour stretches. I'll let you know how that turns out.

But in other news, I'm continuing my lenten reading. I haven't picked up any Catholic fiction, I have to admit, and have succumbed to the siren call of Amish fiction. But I figure, it's wholesome, so it's all good. But after I finished The New Men I treated myself to an Amazon order (mostly to procure season 1 of Downton Abbey) but I added in George Weigel's most recent book, The End and the Beginning.

I have Weigel's original biography of John Paul II, and although I've read significant parts of it, I've never made it all the way through. I bought it when it first came out, and so it's this behemoth of a hardcover and it's actually physically difficult for me to read it. But every Lent I contemplate diving in and finally getting all the way through. When I saw this most recent volume, designed as a supplement to that prior work, I knew that I wanted to get it.

It's a much more manageable size. And it summarizes key events in his early life, but focuses on his fight against communism (using previously unavailable documents from Poland), the last five years of his life from the Great Jubilee until his death, and reflections on the most significant themes in his pontificate.

I started it as soon as it arrived on Monday, and so far I'm thrilled. It's quite captivating and readable and although it's still long, I know I'll be able to make it all the way through. It'll still take me well past Lent though, probably all the way to Pentecost. :) But I'm loving it.

So, onward we plow through Lent...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Sorry for the dearth of posts lately. I had every intention of posting yesterday, but well. Let's see...

I arrived at work in a sleep-deprived stupor, so that didn't exactly start things off with a bang. Anne was just up and up and UP, and she just wouldn't go back to sleep once she was up, which is what she does when she's sick or teething. So I was exhausted. Yet another OPERATION: LOOK ALIVE dispatched in the early morning hours so that I could show my face in public. Oh, and I found a few more gray hairs. And this after my previous efforts to rid myself of them (CL:"I'm very upset about all this gray hair I seem to be getting." Mike: "I don't see any gray hair." CL: "That's because I pulled them all out.") So I was in a *great* mood to start off the day.

I had a reference shift. No, wait, a meeting. It just happened to *last* nearly as long as a 2 hour reference shift. I'm not bitter or anything. I mean, I finished my tea 45 minutes in and was ready to leave then, but apparently other people like meetings. I suppose some things just can't be explained.

Then I had to quickly pump. I had a few business-related emails to get out. Then I had to get my computer ready for it's upcoming upgrade. Well, unfortunately for my computer, it was getting retired. I was slated to get a new machine, and one would have thought I would be happy about such a thing.

But I wasn't. Because I have a Type A personality and I like all my little ducks in a row. I was used to my old computer. I liked him very much. He and I had an understanding. He ran a little slow sometimes, but I put up with it because he put things where I could find them and satisfied my other needs. Since we have only very old and slow computers at home and have no desire to pay for new ones, my small iTunes library lives on my work computer. And I was panicking about moving everything over without losing anything.

I set about following Apple's directions for saving the library. I let it do it's thing and went on my knitting lunch break. When I returned, 25 minutes prior to my new computer arrival, I found that the save had aborted about a quarter of the way through because I didn't have enough space on my iPod.


There commenced Panic Attack #1. I called our wonderful IT group and asked if they could come an hour later than scheduled, and they graciously agreed. I set back to work trying to save everything to my iPod (hereinafter, "Max") so that I could use him as a hard drive to reload the content back onto iTunes on the new machine.

Why didn't I think of using my external hard drive? I have no notion, because I left that at home. As I experienced Panic Attack #2, I cursed myself for being an absolute idiot.

I had to move things around and delete some stuff to create more room on Max. Panic Attack #3. Then I realized that I couldn't find the iTunes folder back on the C drive so that I could always go back to it in case my great "iPod as a hard drive" idea failed. Panic Attack #4. So I had to copy the folder from Max back to the C drive and I nearly didn't have enough time before the IT folks arrived. Panic Attack #5.

By time they got here, I was a wreck. I was over-tired and anxiety-ridden. And then they installed my new machine and there was my iTunes library, with all the content therein, because they had copied it over for me.

*a thing of beauty*

And all those panic attacks were for nothing.

So then I went home and dealt with a needy and exhausted Anne and a hyper Henry. And when we sat down to watch Downton Abbey later, Anne woke up.

And there commenced Abysmal Night #111. Mike and I were so tired that we actually lost count of how many times she woke up. I brought Anne back to her crib around 2 am, and 10 minutes later she was up again, and Mike seemed all confused when he brought her back to our bed and I mentioned that she'd only been in her crib for 5 minutes. He's slept right through that particular part of our nightmare. :)

And that little fang still hasn't broken through the gum.


Monday, March 5, 2012

More teething woes

I was hoping for a more substantive post today, but there you have it. I know everybody will feel sorry for me regarding teething issues, so I decided to just go with that. :)

Anne is cutting another tooth. It's on the top, next to the middle teeth, whatever those are called. The vampire fang teeth. And as you can imagine, she's not real happy about it. Nor are we.

Mike: "Sleep wasn't this bad with Henry when he was this age."

CatholicLibrarian: "Oh Honey, how sweet, you've repressed the memory so as to make that time a happier place in your mind, that's nice. Because it *was* this bad. It really was."

Alas. But I can see the tooth *just* about to come through the gum line. Plus she's drooling. Everywhere. And whenever guests come over we're forced to warn them:

"Aww.... she's so cute! I think she wants to suck on my finger..."

"CAREFUL!!! She bites."

And it *hurts*. But she's gnawing on everything. Our limbs. Her toys. Her crib. The couch. The curtains. I even catch her trying to align her mouth with drawer pulls and other cabinet fixtures.

I remember this from Henry. It just goes on, and on, and ON.

Oh sigh.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

*bones creak*

Lately, I've been feeling...a bit, ah hem, *older*. Granted, my birthday was recently, but like I said, I'm in my 30's, and that's YOUNG! I mean, it really is. I'm not delusional. Or defensive.

But I'm definitely noticing some changes...

Exhibit A: My skin, for one thing. I notice it the most in my hands. The skin is thinner. It doesn't help that it's winter and everyone's skin gets drier in the winter, but my hands look older, definitely. I've been applying more lotion, which I really hate, because to apply lotion I have to take off my wedding rings, and I never take my wedding rings off. I'm too paranoid about losing them. But lotion + rings = gross, greasy mess, so I have to take them off.

(Side note: remember that episode of Friends when Ross was trying to impress that girl and he wore leather pants? I promise, this is relevant, stay with me. He goes into the bathroom because he's so nervous that he's sweating and the pants are chafing him. Well, the pants are so tight he can't get them back up. So, he calls Joey, who advises that he use lotion on his legs to try and get them back up. Well, as you can imagine, he uses the lotion, but this does nothing to aid his re-panting efforts. Then, Joey tells him to try baby powder to soak up some of the lotion. One of my favorite lines on that show, ever: "Joey, the lotion and powder have now combined together to make a PASTE!" Ah, good times.)

Ok, anyway. My skin. I've been noticing this for awhile, but I've been exercising a Herculean effort to ignore it. I apply a moisturizer in the morning under the light makeup that I wear, and call that my anti-aging routine. But after this most recent birthday (closer to 40 than I like to dwell on) I thought that *maybe* I should break down and buy a night cream. I hated to do that, because that just smacked of giving in to me, but I told myself that the next time I had to go to the drug store, I'd do it.

That day arrived earlier this week. I needed what we'll delicately call a feminine care product, and so off to the drug store I trotted. I was at work, and there is a CVS on campus. I hated venturing into the aisle with the Oil of Olay, but what can a girl do? Luckily, this being a college campus, there was no one in that aisle but me. I chose one, grabbed the other thing that I needed, and quickly headed to the checkout line. And do you know what I did?

I hid the night cream. Maxi pads were out there for the world to see, but the night cream? I just couldn't handle it. The kid texting behind me just didn't need to see that.

I used it last night, and I have to grudgingly admit that I liked it. It smelled good. And it's probably all in my head, but my skin felt smoother and looked younger. Moving on.

Exhibit B: My hair. Oh, this one hurts. Quite literally.

Ok, so I just had a baby within the past year. And all of you ladies that have had babies know what I'm about to say, right? Not to scare anybody who hasn't yet delivered a baby, but, well. Your hair falls out.

Not *totally* out or anything. But what happens is that while you're pregnant, your new cocktail of hormones holds on to normal hair shed that would ordinarily occur. I looked like Evangeline Lilly's Pantene commercial right before I delivered Anne. Big old belly, and from what other people felt free to tell me, with a fuller face, but my hair looked great.

*After* you deliver, and your hormone levels drop like a stone, that hair that was held over instead of shedding will begin to shed. And it's a 9 month accumulation, so it comes out in such quantities that it does appear that you may go bald.

For me, it was much, much worse this time than after I delivered Henry. The bathroom trash can would be absolutely FULL of hair because I'd run my fingers through it so that it wouldn't fall out all over the place. It was quite horrifying, actually.

But eventually, it stops, and your normal rate of shed comes back. So what does this have to do with aging, Tiffany? I'm getting there. I'm really tired, cut me some slack. Because of the pregnancy thing, I now have new hair growth in the worst spot possible, which is right in the front of my hairline, near my part. I'm constantly smoothing it over so that it doesn't stick up until it gets longer. Attractive.

So, this morning, I was having what we will breezily call a bad hair day. I had a bad night with Anne (more on that in a minute) and I was exhausted this morning. I didn't get out of bed until ten til 7, and thus had to rush around to get ready. The result? I pulled my hair back into a fetching and smooth ponytail, parting my hair carefully so as not to disturb the shorter strands.

That sounds all chic and everything, but when I got to work, I stopped off in the ladies room on my way down to a 9 am meeting. What did I see as I blearily washed my hands?

Gray hairs. MANY GRAY HAIRS.

Now, I've seen a gray hair before. For a couple of years, actually. But it's just been a single hair, up near my part. That I can live with. Thus, I let him live. I do get my hair colored every 3 months or so, so no big deal. I mean, my hair is BROWN, so there's not much one can do with a color, but a sheen of mahogany every 12 weeks is a real picker upper. And plus it took care of that single gray hair. I'd usually see him again in the month leading up to my next appointment, but I didn't mind that.

But this morning, my friends, I saw that gray hair plus at *least* a half dozen of his closest friends. Now *that*, I can't live with.

I guess it was because of the pulled back ponytail, but there they were, front and center, and *very* noticeable. For a moment, I panicked. I looked at the time. 8:59. Hence, I acted all rationally and immediately isolated the gray hairs, trapped them, and attempted to pull them right out of my scalp.

Five minutes later, I arrived at my meeting, late and with a headache. And still a few gray hairs that were able to escape my extermination efforts.

I'm very, *very* unhappy about this. I'm willing to accept a lot of things about aging in a graceful manner, but gray hair is not one of those things. My next appointment isn't until St. Patrick's day and I feel quite panicky about this. You'd better believe that my next appointment will be scheduled less than 12 weeks away.


Exhibit C: My memory. Ugh. This one *really* makes me feel like I'm going to start calling the college students here "sonny" any minute now. My memory has really taken a hit. My short term memory isn't anywhere near as good as it once was, that goes without saying. What did we have for dinner 3 nights ago? Right. No idea.

Even more insidious is that so often now, something very, very obvious will be on the tip of my tongue, and I simply can't think of the word. What's that thing, you know? You put bread in it, it goes in, it gets darker? Um, um...A TOASTER! Yes, that's it. A toaster. It's not AT ALL strange that I couldn't think of that word.


And so, as if all of this wasn't bad enough, last night my old self was on the couch with Anne at 3 am, who was refusing to sleep. Hence, we went downstairs so that at least I can watch Frasier while I hold her and try to soothe her to sleep. So, we're lying on the sofa, and I'm subjected to the short nighttime infomercials that now invade our lives.

Misery-Inducing Infomercial Contender #1:

"Are you tired of not getting a good nights sleep?"

Why yes.

"Can you hardly keep your eyes open at meetings because you're so tired and you're not getting proper rest?"


"Then you need (insert name of some allegedly perfect mattress)!"

Great. Just what I need to see when I'm on my ancient sofa with my infant daughter elbowing me in the chest, and my head is propped up at an unnatural angle to facilitate *her* comfort. People sleeping. Some special foam base contouring to their very bodies. There are practically angel wings wrapped around them. I would go outside and sleep on a pile of rocks so long as nobody was crying and pulling at my breasts.

And THEN. OH baby, and then. As if to pour salt *right* into my granny wound, what do I hear next?

Misery-Inducing Infomercial Contender #2:

"Are you over 40?"

Well no, not yet. But I will be in the not-too-distant future. Thanks for reminding me.

"Do you have unwanted fat around your middle?"

No, so at least that's one happy thing I can cling to.

"WELL, once you turn 40, your changing metabolism will cause this stubborn belly fat to accumulate underneath your muscles. Even diet and exercise will not work to melt it away!"


"You need...LIPOZINE! This simple capsule will melt away that belly fat that even diet and exercise cannot touch!"

Oh fabulous. So not only do I have thinning skin, freakish gray hair, and memory loss, and am racking up a stiff neck sleeping on my sofa, but I'm doomed to be struck down with stubborn belly fat in a few short years?

Is this the beginning of a mid-life crisis? Well no, because I'M NOT AT MID-LIFE!!

And anybody who insinuates otherwise is going to get a crocheted granny square afghan for their next birthday gift, all in 70's oranges and browns. THEN, who's going to feel old, hum?!