Friday, June 29, 2012


Henry ate a black bean last night. In fact, he ate several. This is big news, people.

In our Quest For Henry To Eat Dinner Like A Normal Person we acted all normal last night while we made black bean burritos, all the while knowing that Henry has proclaimed to not like black beans, although he has never actually eaten one. He always wants me to just melt some cheese in a tortilla for his "burrito." Well, he's catching on to the new plan, because he conceded the beans pretty easily last night. He did, however, request that I leave the cooked belly peppers and onions off of his.

I had no problem with the bell pepper, but the onions were pretty integrated, so I left those on and just didn't tell him.When he asked me about the pieces of onion that were clearly visible inside his burrito (because naturally, he had to peel it apart to check my work) I told him that they were "spices."

Yes, I lied to my child. Guilt that I feel regarding this confession: Zero.

He ate the burrito, beans and onions included. And as I knew would be the case, he liked it.

Victory is mine.

Anne also ate some beans, and even some chopped tomato. It was a family dinner success story.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"What are we having for dinner?" *suspicion*

I just returned from our annual staff recognition luncheon, and I was set to receive a little award/gift since I recently got tenure. I have what I think is a great suggestion: instead of engraved items (which are inevitably paperweights) from Things Remembered, why not throw caution to the wind and just start giving everyone cash? I guarantee you, everyone loves cash. I don't care if it's $10. That's $10 I can put toward, oh I don't know. Yarn, for one thing. Books for my Kindle, another.

Oh well. They didn't ask my opinion, so I got a paperweight. But I will say, it's an adorable paperweight. It's shaped like a book, and it has my name on it. It's quite precious, actually.

But anyway, this post *does* have a point. I received some good suggestions on my last post regarding kids' eating habits, and I really want Henry to start toeing the line on this one. He had a swim lesson last night, which Mike took him to, so Anne and I made a quick trip to Target for a few needed items while they were gone. While there, I grabbed a box of Hamburger Helper and some ground beef for dinner. Nobody judge me, that's just the way it has to be sometimes on week nights. Plus, it's not like I can browse the aisles real well with Anne in tow. The instant the cart comes to a stop, she attempts to climb out. The little restraint? Useless. She somehow becomes a chipmunk with no bones and worms her way out of it. I can see her, struggling and working at it, while I try to shop. It's terrible. So I just grabbed the first thing I saw and headed for the checkout.

When we got home, I began browning the meat. As I was setting everything to simmer, Hank and Mike get home. Hank takes one look at the Hamburger Helper box and declares that he doesn't think he'll like this dinner, little button nose wrinkled up in disgust. I told him that this was what was for dinner, and he was going to have to try it. I put as positive a spin on it as possible:

"It's hamburger with cheesy noodles!"

He wasn't buying it.

However, he ended up loving the dinner. He even asked for seconds, which is pretty unprecedented for him. So, our first dinner success story. :) Anne will pretty much eat anything that I give her. She has a texture thing going on, so I can't cut up meat and put it on her tray. She touches it and looks repulsed. But as long as I feed her off of a fork, she eats everything. Fruit, vegetables, meat, pasta, you name it. She ate the Hamburger Helper and couldn't get enough. She'll eat crackers, cheese, and some fruit off her tray. But she definitely seems to have a meat texture issue if she actually has to TOUCH the meat.

I guess I can't blame her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My prayer arsenal

With my ongoing 54 day rosary novena, I was contemplating my little collection of rosaries and chaplets that I pray with regularly. Now, granted, the actual *prayers* are the most important thing here. But I'll be honest. I have a rosary fetish. As in, the actual, physical beads. I love them. And my collection isn't actually so little.

*unladylike snort*

I have a LOT of rosary beads. A LOT. I have them scattered throughout my house. Some in the kitchen, the living room, a set next to my bed, each of the children have *several* in their rooms. But I rarely use those.

The beads I use the most are small 1 decade chaplets. When I'm praying a regular rosary, I have a 1 decade "decina" chaplet that I use, which is the traditional 1 Our Father and 10 Hail Mary beads. This is my absolute favorite, and I use it just about every day:

 I bought this from the fabulously talented Carm at Unbreakable Rosaries. She is my absolute favorite rosary maker. I also have a full rosary that she made, and the beads are wrapped in copper, it's absolutely to die for. I don't have a picture of it, but I love this rosary too. I don't use it as often, because I simply find that I love the tiny little chaplets better since I'm usually praying the rosary in the car. It's easier to hold in my hand as I drive.  So this little chaplet pictured above is my all time favorite rosary. The beads are smooth and slip through my fingers so nice as I pray, and they're very sparkly and pretty. I also like the 4-way medal cross at the end. It's nice and compact and very light. The centerpiece is Our Lady giving the rosary to St. Dominic. It's my favorite. *kiss*

I also love specialized chaplets, and I think they make a nice addition to my prayer repertoire every once in awhile. I have several tucked into a little case in my purse. My favorites are:

Our Lady Star of the Sea. Carm also made this one, and some friends bought it for me 2 years ago. The beads are turquoise and deep, deep blue, making this chaplet just stunning, and fitting the sea theme so well. :) I love to pray this chaplet and ask for Our Lady's intercession for guidance on specific challenges I'm working through. It mainly consists of praying 12 Hail Marys, but full directions for praying the chaplet may be found here. This chaplet also has beautifully smooth beads and the physical experience of praying with them is so pleasing. I'm a knitter, I'm very tactile. :) Carm doesn't have any of these chaplets listed right now in her shop, but she makes them and posts listings for them often. You can also request that she make you a custom chaplet in whatever beads and medals she has in stock or can get access to.

Another chaplet that I pray often is St. Kateri Tekakwitha:

Cam made this for me, in her Full of Grace Creations shop. You pray 8 Our Fathers, 8 Hail Marys, and 8 Glory Be prayers in this chaplet, each prayer representing a year of St. Kateri's life. I love how the bead colors are very nature inspired, and these beads are made of stone; they are heavy and feel wonderful in your hand. I think Cam's shop is on vacation mode right now, but she'll be back, and she had more of these chaplets listed, so you can get yours too. :)

And...on it's way to it's new home right now is the newest addition to my prayer arsenal:

This is a 7 Sorrows of Mary Chaplet, and I can't wait for it to arrive! I just love the combination of the black and purple beads, and there is my favorite 4-way medal cross again. :) Instruction on this chaplet may be found here. When you pray this, you meditate on the 7 sorrows that Mary experienced during her life (prophecy of Simeon, flight into Egypt, child Jesus lost in the Temple, Jesus carrying the cross, etc.). I can't wait to begin using this one. :)

I also love rosary bracelets (available from both Carm and Cam's shops). I really wanted a new one, but I figured this is a want and not a need. I already own a handful of lovely rosary bracelets, and I wear one every day, but I can hold off. Very saintly of me, wouldn't you say?

So, even though rosaries and chaplets abound in my house and in my purse, I feel no guilt. At least they're cheaper than belly dance costumes, my other weakness. Well, there's also books, but those are also cheap, especially for my Kindle.

*feels very justified*

Anyway, I'm excited. Do you have any favorite chaplets that you pray on a regular basis?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just cute life stuff

"Honey, I really appreciate you and all that you do for me and the kids. I just wanted you to know that. I'm so glad that I don't have to share you."

"You've been watching Sister Wives again while I take Hank to soccer, haven't you?"

Well yes, I have. But that's not the point, now is it? :)

School is out for the summer, and happy, frolicking children abound in our home. Of the two children these days, Anne is actually the easier eater. She's suddenly decided that she no longer cares for pureed baby food, and just wants table food. This is great, I just wish it hadn't happened right after we stocked up on jarred baby food. But I digress. She eats cooked vegetables, cheese, crackers, fruit, all that good stuff. Henry, on the other hand, nearly passes out at the sight of a vegetable. Sigh. He does like fruit, but he ends up eating something different from what we eat far too often. He's 6. Should I be forcing the issue more now, or will he outgrow this?

Inquiring parental minds want to know.

Anne is just at a wonderful stage. She's into everything, but she's just a delight. Running around, giggling, being cute, it's just her full time job. Last summer, while I was on maternity leave, was just an idyllic time. Mike was home with me, and it was simply smashing. I will say though that I enjoy my children more when they're no longer newborns. :) I love them always, but the early baby days are tough on my psyche. With Anne being a toddler, things are so much fun.

Life is good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

54 day rosary novena: persevering

The inevitable happened on Saturday night, as I lounged in bed awaiting slumber to overtake me:

I realized that I'd forgotten to say my rosary. Sigh.

The weekends are the worst "rosary memory" days for me, because I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing at home and with the kids that it just slips my mind. During the week, I start my rosary in the car on my way in to work and I never forget.


At any rate, I know that God isn't that structured, so I just keep going with the novena. He's not going to snub me because I forgot one day out of 54.

Yesterday I was very angelic because I started my rosary in the car on the way to Mass ,which just spurs it into my head for the rest of the day. And I hadn't been at my parish for a couple of weeks, so it was just a very sweet homecoming. I've been at other parishes for Mass for a few weeks in a row. Even though I'm back to being the only woman in the congregation wearing a head covering, it felt good to be back to my neighborhood parish. I really do love the community there.

And this particular Mass was the last one for our weekend associate, the priest who says one Mass per weekend and otherwise fills in for our regular pastor when he has to be away. This precious monsignor just celebrated his 80th birthday, and finally felt that he had to cut back a bit on his schedule. :) He's absolutely adorable, and during the homily, told us how our parish is very special to him because he grew up in our small town. Our parish was his childhood parish, and he made all his sacraments there, his baptism taking place in the original church building, even. (our parish is over 100 years old, but the current church has been around since around 1950). He attended the parish school, and when he went on to become a priest, celebrated his very first Mass at our very parish in 1957. It was just such a lovely story. He's still going to be saying Mass, just at a parish in a nearby town only. He didn't feel like he could keep up with two anymore.

It was a good Sunday.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Is there a full moon?

For your reading enjoyment, below are actual inquiries that I received while on a one hour reference shift yesterday afternoon:

(1) Lengthy question about finding recent books on the topic of health services in colleges. No problem, and she was super sweet, she was just waiting for me when I came onto the desk, so I didn't have time to really catch my breath. Nor did I have time after I wrapped up with her (and she thanked me profusely! a rare treat for a reference librarian), when my chat reference window booped...

(2) "I need to find information on internet and the mind. I can't find anything. Just strange things from China." No, I am not exaggerating. As you can imagine, this was a fairly painful interaction, with me trying to pull out what in tarnation he actually meant, and where on earth he was searching. He lingered in my chat interface for quite some time, reluctantly trying the new key words I was suggesting, when...

(3) "My computer just shut itself down. Why did it do that?!" An angry man is suddenly *next to me*. I put up the cute "The Librarian is Busy Helping Somebody Else!"sign and went to his computer, but seriously. I wasn't there, I have no idea why his computer shut down. I return to the reference desk to find...

(4) "You're very pretty." I look up to see a strange guy winking at me. Oh boy. Please don't linger, please don't linger... Oh good, young student approaching...

(5) "I need a book on how to pick locks." Oh boy. I didn't ask questions. I mean, isn't there some kind of librarian honor code like a priest in confession? I certainly won't reveal his identity, and it isn't for me to judge why he needs a manual on how to pick locks. I referred him to the public library. They have all sorts of interesting reference manuals there...

Ah, the life of the modern reference librarian. It isn't usually this interesting.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The summer begins to sizzle, but hanging in there

After an unseasonably mild winter *glares* and then chillier spring (which I loved) the temperatures and humidity have finally begun to climb up here. Now, I'm not complaining, because it's already past mid-June and we just felt compelled to put the a/c units in the bedroom windows this week. That's not bad at all. Sometimes, it starts to get really warm in late May, which is just too early for me.

So I'm officially not complaining, although I do wish that the heat had waited until after Saturday so that I wouldn't have felt like I may melt at any moment during the hafla on Saturday. But I digress.

We can't put a traditional window a/c unit in Anne's room because she doesn't have standard sized windows, so our solution was to set up her Pack 'n Play (whereby each of my babies have only slept; there is no playing in there, they'd apparently rather DIE than play in captivity) in our guest room where we do have a window a/c unit. I was anxious about her throwing a protest rally and refusing to fall asleep in a new place, but this was our only option. We do have a fan in her room, but on really warm nights it's simply still uncomfortable.

Last night was the test night, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she did really, really well in her temporary sleep space. She did howl when I first put her down, but she had her little duck lovey in there, plus her nightlight, so some familiar things. Within a minute, she realized that maybe howling wasn't the best course of action given that she was: (a) utterly exhausted, plus (b) a complete sweat head, when (c) this room was really cool and cozy. So she laid down and went to sleep. Thank the Lord above.

Yesterday was our warmest day so far this year, and naturally, that coincided with me having another belly dance performance. Our performance group was invited to dance at a voice studio show, and the venue was about a 30-40 minute drive for me. In a recurring theme for my summer existence, my car does not have functioning air conditioning. Thus, the drive down involved lots of sweating while Middle Eastern music blared out the open windows of my little Honda Civic. Upon arriving, I sweatily carried in 2 costumes, 2 veils, my dance shoes, an assortment of pins and makeup, and my sword. Tis the lot of the modern belly dancer.

The instant the lady at the ticket table saw sequins and beads peeking out from my garment bag and a sheathed sword in my hand, she pointed down the hall where I could see my wonderful dance ladies huddled in a circle. We were directed to a storagey-looking "dressing room" off the backstage area, but told to post somebody at the door so that no one tried to come in while we were changing.


It goes without saying that we all changed as quickly as humanly possible. I hardly think the high school voice students were dying to peep on us or anything, but the possibility of an unexpected interruption in that situation seems awkward, no?

All costumed up, we swirled our veils a bit, applied makeup, and waited.

And waited.

We were scheduled to dance at intermission, and unfortunately no one had told us that the first half of the show was a LOT longer than the second half. So we were waiting for a *really long time*. We'd crack open the door to hear various Celine Dion songs being belted out to quickly close it again and chit chat some more. Students frequently did happen upon us in there as they came in search of a music stand or a guitar, and seemed pretty surprised to see a group of women wearing sparkly green costumes lurking inside.

We continued to wait.

In the mean time, we began to have the opposite problem that we have been experiencing: cold air was absolutely *pumping* through the vents in there, and since we we merely standing around, we were freezing our sparkly buns off in no time. We were just contemplating sacrificing a few veils to begin a little bonfire when it was finally our turn.

I don't get nervous for group performances anymore, which is a nice thing. It was intermission, so I was afraid the auditorium would empty out, leaving us belly dancing for empty seats, but a LOT of people stayed, squinting their eyes at us in wonder. On the whole, they seemed to like us. Lots of people took pictures and videos, we were apparently a bit of a novelty.

Once again, I loved our improvised section much more than the choreography. Even though our first dance is a polished one that we've done many times, in my auto-pilot mode I came back down to earth a few times to find that I was screwing up. I just kept moving my hips, smiling, and caught up to what we were supposed to be doing, but it all reinforced my new belief in improvisation. Much more relaxed that way.

So, that was that. My ride home was much cooler, and I was thrilled to greet a cute husband and 2 sleeping children. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Henry starts soccer

Henry's last day of school is tomorrow, and Mike (my superhero) will then have both children home with him full time for the summer. He's not teaching again until the fall.

Thus, we were on the lookout for a few activities to keep Henry's interest engaged. He's not the easiest child to keep entertained. He could go non-stop at an amusement park for an entire day, get home, and announce:

"What are we doing next? I'm bored."

So, we signed him up for soccer, figuring it would be something fun for him, and a way for him to burn off some energy once per week. Last night was his first session, and I had to stay home to put Anne to bed. He arrives back home just as I'm finishing up watching my second episode of Sister Wives on demand:

"Hi Honey! How was soccer?"

I notice right off that he's wearing a new jersey sponsored by a local coffee shop chain, and he looks adorable.

"It was great, Mommy. We played sharks and minnows."

"Oh. Were you a shark or a minnow?"

*blond eyebrows furrow*

"I was both, Mommy."

Clearly, I know nothing about soccer practice.

"Oh, ok. Well, did you really like it?"

"I did. There were older boys there, and they were playing a REAL GAME."

*eyes wide*

He's very cute. And he made me very happy the other day by inquiring whether or not he was staying at his Catholic school for second grade (he is) and announcing that he was very happy about it. He received an award at the final assembly for "Most Improved Student." It was a bit of a tough adjustment for him at first, but I'm so, so happy that he seems very happily ensconced there now.

We just have to get through the summer...

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm still alive

Got through my big dancing night, and I didn't brain anybody with my cane. I call that a successful belly dancing night with props.

It was a really great night. I was nervous (I know I didn't smile during the sword number, because my cheeks would start to quiver, so I figured looking stoic was better than looking stupid) but really, it went great. The sword number was first, so I got a big more relaxed after that. I would have preferred to have led off with the cane, since I was most nervous about that one, but alas.

So anyway, before our sword number we all had a small glass of a chilled wine called Relax Riesling, so it seemed pretty appropriate, no? So, we drank and belly danced, yes. But it was about more than loosening up a bit; it was HOT on Saturday, and although the studio is air conditioned, it's small and had a good number of people smushed into it. Plus, the changing area is NOT air conditioned, so we were all quite hot. This made looking fresh and cute a bit of a challenge but we persevered.

So, without further ado, the first nerve wracking moments of getting the sword balanced on my head:

And then, happiness when it actually stays and I'm successfully dancing:

Then came the cane number, which went as well as it could have. That one still feels a bit "off" to me, like we haven't fully gelled with it as a group, but it went pretty well. And like I said, no glass was broken nor a call to 911 made.

Then came the solos. By this point, we were all SWEATY. It was HOT. It made changing costumes a bit harrowing, and then I *really* worried about looking all gross. But I had limited options so I just patted myself off and hoped for the best.

I was anxious about that "uh oh, can't get out of this now" feeling that I usually get when I dance solo right before my music starts, and this time, I have to say it didn't happen. It just couldn't have gone better. Am I the next Fifi Abdou? Well, no. But I felt great about my solo, and it just flowed. I didn't worry about "what should I do next?!" with the improvisation or have any awkward pauses. I just danced. And it felt fluid and wonderful. I felt happy.

That's my favorite of the photos. It captures my happiness and feeling of everything being right with the world. Unfortunately, there are 2 very bored looking guys right behind me in just about every shot, but in fairness, they are in other photos when other people are dancing and they look bored then too. I don't fathom how belly dancing can bore a person, but I'm not offended. Maybe that's just the way their face looks all the time? We'll go with that one.

All in all, I felt "on." My timing was good, my hips were snappy, and I felt like I was just dancing and interpreting the fun music rather than "this is the choreography I made, and I know I look a bit stiff duplicating it here" like I usually do.  I would *definitely* improvise again, and plan that for my future solos. I felt so much more relaxed and good about everything. Aside from the Bored Guys, the crowd was extremely enthusiastic and interactive. It was a great feeling. It reaffirmed why I love belly dancing so much, and why it has come to mean so much to my creative identity.

Afterward, I was a sweaty mess, but at least the photos still turned out ok. :) It was worth it. It was a great dancing night, and I treasure the memory.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Big night tomorrow

Well, I'm as ready as I can be. My sword is all polished, my veil hanging in the bathroom to steam out the wrinkles. My costumes are all checked and ready, any sewing alterations long since done. I have new dance "shoes" that I love. They are these. They are called "underwear for your feet", how precious is that? I prefer to dance barefoot, but then I can't spin because I have too much traction. I usually wear half soles but lately I don't like them as much. They gap funny on my foot after a time and for performance I think they're too visible and distracting. These new ones you can barely see. They just go over your toes and have pads on the balls of your feet so that you can turn. Perfect.

Anyway, I've practiced and I'm ready. I'm hoping for all the things every belly dancer hopes for before a show:

No costume malfunctions.

No salacious comments or leering looks from audience members.

That I don't stab anybody or poke their eye out with my props.

That I don't drag my veil through somebody's glass of wine or worse, their appetizer that is inevitably a dip of some kind. Hummus? Baba ghanoush? The possibilities are endless.

That in the moment, I remember how to dance.

That I look like I'm having a great time, rather than like I'm in pain.

If we can accomplish the above, the night will be a resounding success.

One way or another, you'll find out on Monday. Because I'm going to tell you. Plus I'll probably post pictures, assuming I like them. No action shots of me panicking as my sword falls to the floor.

I AM looking forward to it. In my mid-thirties (don't laugh, 37 is still MID; no, I am not defensive) I truly feel like I have *arrived*. I'm happy. Life is good.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dress rehearsal: successful. Well, mostly

I did practice last night in my costumes, and I think the most important thing I discovered was that my top isn't fitting quite so nicely anymore. Why? Well, because I didn't even buy my blue costume until after I had Anne, and last time I wore it, I was in heavy nursing mode. Now, Anne nurses only a few times per day, and let's just say that the frontal *presentation* isn't quite so perky anymore. Oh, who am I kidding? It isn't perky AT ALL anymore. Kind of depressing, actually. Well, I do remember that after Henry weaned, there was a bit of re-perking after a few months or so. Or did I just dream that? I don't know. But that's my delusion, and I'm stickin' to it.

But at any rate, none of this helps me for my hafla on Saturday. I tightened the neck straps for extra UMPH! and am hoping for the best. My improvisation is fine, but I'm feeling anxious about it. Are they bored?! That's the thought that will be racing, RACING through my mind at approximately 8:24 Saturday evening. Oh sigh. I hope it goes ok.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lots and lots of dancing

Yes, that's me. :) Pregnant with Anne, even. I've been practicing and practicing for my big night on Saturday, and as is always the case, I'm nervous. I mean, I like to dance, right? So I should enjoy it, right? Rather than feel like I have a date with a firing squad at 8 pm Saturday evening? I'm trying. I do love to dance. Mostly though, I love dancing with my classmates surrounding me, and watching *others* dance. Dancing by myself still challenges my brain quite a bit. But I'm trying.

I have 2 small kids, so practicing isn't exactly a walk in the park. I used to try and practice before they went to bed, to get additional time in, offering Anne her own veil as a bribe. This was a colossal fail. First, she'd try to eat the veil. Occasionally, she'd drag it around the house behind her, which was fine. But within moments, she was back at my side, crying and clinging to my legs. Not exactly conducive to dancing.

So, now I wait until she's in bed to practice. And that's fine, except that I'm kind of tired by then, but there's nothing to be done. In my tiredness, I do risk the following veil malfunction:

*perform floaty veil movement*

*promptly step on veil*

*slip and fall on veil*

...from a heap of silk on the floor, the Catholic Librarian rises, and attempts to reassert her dignity...

This has happened more than 1 time, I assure you.

This time, we also have my sword in the mix, which I knocked off my own head the other day while showing Henry how to spin a cane. I get all of these bright ideas after 8 pm these days.

But it's going ok. I keep telling myself that I simply need to dance for ME. I'm not trying to impress anybody. Nobody is going to think that I'm the best bellydancer they ever saw. I hope that they enjoy my performance, but in the end, I'm just dancing for myself. I simply need to try to relax and interact with the music, and things will be fine.


The music that I picked is very fun. It's an Arabic pop tune by Nancy Ajram. I just want to enjoy myself and have a good time.This IS what I do for recreation, after all.

Tonight is slated for my "dress rehearsal" since practicing in costume is a must in belly dancing. All those beads are *heavy* and can change the way you perform. So, I'm going to do that, and just pray that my veil doesn't develop a mind of it's own as it's prone to do.

We'll see how it goes. Do you think anybody would notice if I glued my sword to my head?

Ugh, yes they would. I wouldn't fit through the doorway. Damn.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beginning a new 54 Day Rosary Novena

Last year, while pregnant with Anne, I said two 54 day rosary novenas. One of them was for the intention of sending Henry to Catholic school, and that came together SO well, I knew that it was the fruit of the novena. So this year, I decided to do another one, in conjunction with a good friend.

Yesterday, was day 1, so we have a long way to go. :) We'll finish up in early August. But I'm enjoying it. I have a perfect little one-decade rosary chaplet that I use to pray in the car, so I start my rosary each day while I'm driving in to work. I then finish up when I can throughout the day.

What I love most about praying novenas is the feeling of expectancy that I receive. I just really know that God is hearing my prayers, and will answer them. He may or may not answer them in the way that I *desire*, but ultimately I know that it will all come to good.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adventures in the Tridentine Rite

Yesterday, Henry and I attended Mass at a beautiful old church that still offers the liturgy in the old Tridentine Rite, more commonly known as the Latin Mass. My in-laws wanted to go, so we made a journey out of it. This particular church is maybe a 20 minute drive from our house. I have attended the Latin Mass there before, but not in quite some time.

I was excited about it. My previous impression was that as beautiful as the Tridentine Rite is, I still prefer the "New Mass," the post-Vatican II liturgy in the vernacular. But it's so nice to have options, so I was looking forward to something different. Plus, the Tridentine Rite is the place I feel most comfortable wearing head coverings at Mass, since I'm in good company there! *Most* of the women there cover, so I blend right in.

Anyway, I was all excited getting ready in the morning, rifling through my drawer of head coverings. Yes, they have their own drawer. I love head coverings. And I have many of them. Cotton, lace, velvet. All sorts of colors. I have a few that are headbands, and then the others are "convertible" (these are my favorite) meaning that they can be folded up as a headband or extended into a cute kerchief look. I was wearing a black pant outfit, so I picked my brown lace covering, since it matches my hair so well. I did contemplate wearing a skirt, since most women do there, but I don't have good shoes right now for skirts. I could remedy this with a $20 trip to Payless, but yet I somehow never do. So I wore my head covering with pants, which I hope doesn't look weird. Anyway, I digress.

My in-laws arrive to fetch Henry and I just as Anne was going down for her morning nap, so we waved goodbye to her and Mike and headed on our way. We found the church easily and actually got there early. This chagrined me only because we had Henry along, and I hoped he wouldn't get too impatient. He had his little Magnifikid! and he even asks for them each week, so they're working out very well, but I warned him ahead of time that he wouldn't be able to follow along in there this week. He contented himself with the holy word find for a time, but quickly started rubbing his eyes and complaining about his seasonal allergies. The more I told him that rubbing his eyes only made the itching worse, the more he rubbed them. I was worried we were going to have to leave early, but luckily, it abated. Then I just had to deal with his multitude of questions and a tad of whining about how long the Mass was, but overall he didn't do too bad.

Anyway, when we arrived, a group was praying the rosary before Mass. Love that! Naturally, Henry wanted to sit in the very first row. When Mass began, a bell rang. Also love that! And an absolute *flotilla* of adorable little altar boys scampered out, clad in the old style black and white cassock, followed by some older altar servers, and the priest. The altar was absolutely beautiful. Covered in gorgeous artwork and statuary. To my mind, the way an altar *should* look.I had brought along my Latin-English missal, and with the aid of my mother-in-law (who remembers the Latin Mass from her childhood) I was able to follow along better than in the past.

Ok, so the pros and cons to the Tridentine Rite *for me*, because of course, this is very much a personal Catholic preference. Cons:

(1) Even with my cute missal, I still got lost. I think the most confusing part is that there are a lot of prayers that the priest says inaudibly, especially at the consecration and generally surrounding communion. Then I lose my place.
(2) If you blink, you can miss the consecration. Granted, the altar boys ring the bell (love that!) but the priest offers the consecration while quietly saying the prayers to himself, and I just don't feel "a part" of the liturgy the way I do at an average Mass at my parish. I hope this isn't heretical. :) I'm just saying how I feel.

But the pros:

(1) The reverence. It's just unparalleled.  From the beautifully prepared altar and the obvious attention and devotion of the congregation, this Mass feels sacred.
(2) The altar rail. I adore receiving communion while kneeling. Oh, and the paten! This is a very natural fit to me with the Eucharist.
(3) The dress of the congregation. I mentioned this above. Everyone dressed nicely. No jeans or shorts in sight. And the head coverings! *swoons* I saw a beautiful (and large) pink hat on an older woman, followed by an army of gorgeous mantillas on both women and young girls. Yes, young girls! Wearing mantillas. Black, white, pink, blue. Mantillas were definitely the head covering style of choice. I was the only one wearing a shorter lace style that tied underneath my hair, which of course doesn't matter, but I'm obsessed with such details.
(4) The solemnity of the liturgy. Yes, I have a hard time following sometimes, but when I'd get lost I'd just read the English translation which was absolutely beautiful. Oh, and an aside. "And with your spirit" really *is* much, much closer to the Latin than "and also with you." :) Ah, and the lack of the Sign of Peace? I'm just being honest, but I don't miss it at all. I've always been uncomfortable having a set moment in the liturgy where I'm supposed to talk to people I don't know and shake their hands.

So, as you can see, the pros certainly outweigh the cons for me. I won't be leaving my parish for this one, but I like being able to attend there every once in a while. There are many people that do drive quite a long way to go to this church though, I know, because they prefer the Tridentine Rite. I think this is fine, but I do know there is a school of thought out there that one should always register at, and attend at their *local* parish, and not "parish hop." Thoughts? I wonder if there is anything in canon law about this? I will try and remember to check.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Preparing for a nice weekend

Top on to-do list: PURCHASE CEDAR SACHETS.

There has been no further sign of Mr. Moth, but suffice it to say that I've turned into Someone Who Is Already Type A And Has Now Morphed Into Someone Downright Paranoid and Annoying. I have my yarn under lock and key, but I were to ever find anything...*living* in the yarn itself, I would faint dead away. And we really don't want that to happen, do we?

Anyway, in other news, Anne can now climb the stairs. As you can imagine, this is just a fantastic development for us, no?

*martyr-like sign*

She's been able to get her little leg hiked up a stair for awhile now, but she never showed much interest in climbing the full staircase, and we did nothing to encourage her in this regard. But then her grandparents taught her how, and now we're all suffering because of it. Every time she does it, she gets FASTER. So we have to put a chair at the bottom to prevent her from climbing all the time, and so she stands at the bottom and sobs.


Hopefully, she'll lose interest in this new project pretty quickly.

But Mike and I are going to dinner Saturday night, *without the children,* so that'll be nice. You know. Uninterrupted. Can hear yourself think. Not picking up thrown Cheerios off the floor for half the meal. Not that I don't enjoy going out as a family, that has it's own...charm. But date nights are sacred. And Mike and I are celebrating...

Me getting tenure. :)

Mostly, this is a relief. I mean, I'm happy, I never took it for granted. But I'm simply ready to move on to the next step and just enjoy the job security. If I hadn't gotten it, could I just have kept showing up and collecting a paycheck, sort of like that guy on Office Space? Likely not. As big a bureaucracy as a state-run university of this size is, I'm thinking they would "fix that glitch."

So, there's that. And I'm belly dancing like a madwoman. It's going well. I'm feeling as comfortable (as I can, I suppose) with my mostly improvised solo. I have a beginning arranged, with a veil entrance and cute fling away, then mostly improvisation broken up by some planned accents. Although, at this point, I've run through the music so many times that I often remember some steps I've done in previous incarnations, so if I can't think of anything better, I just do that. :) It gives me some comfort. I do feel more relaxed. I can't "forget" anything. Sometimes I even don't remember to do the planned accents, I just do something else, and although those accents aren't quite as BAM! as the planned ones, they're still fine, and at least my face doesn't reflect the dreaded "Oh God, I forgot what to do!!" expression. Doesn't exactly put the audience at east to have a clearly panicked dancer in front of them. So, that's going decently well.

We had sword practice last night, and I need to work on that routine plus my little solo part in it. It's just a trio of us, so we each have 6-7 counts of 8 to dance solo to. I'll mostly improvise, but I have a few planned movements . Since we have to place the swords on our heads while dancing, I've adopted a winning strategy:

(1) As I raise the sword up I tell myself: "It's going to stay on." The Power of Positive Thinking.

(2) As I place it on my head, I rub it back and forth a few times on the balancing point to "screw it in." I may go bald in that spot, but as long as I don't humiliate myself by having the sword fall, I don't care.

So far, so good. If I feel that the sword isn't quite perfect, I've broken down my resolve to never touch the sword and instead just tweak it withing the first 30 seconds or so of balancing. No reason to suffer for the rest of the song and have my eyebrows look all scrunchy and worried. It's better to feel confident that it's on there real good.

And then there's the group cane number. I'm still worried that someone may lose an eye or break a window, but it's coming along. We'll get there.

I'm starting a 54 day rosary novena on Monday, so I'll be reporting in then. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What was that that just flitted through the living room?!

Last night I was enjoying something that rarely happens: the house to myself. I always prefer having Mike there with me, but he wanted to go have a beer and watch some hockey with a friend, so I had to content myself with knitting and watching a Sister Wives marathon on-demand. Whenever Mike isn't there, I try to watch things that he would rather die than watch. :)

As I knit, I waved away an annoying little winged insect. I didn't think twice about it, because you know, I'm pretty clueless. It seemed to be drawn to the lamp next to me, and as long as he wasn't bothering me, I wasn't bothering him.

This morning, I got a sickening sensation in my stomach: this insect was small, flitty, and had wings. Oh.My.God. A MOTH!! MY YARN, MY PRECIOUS YARN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night I was knitting with acrylic (making a baby item, and easy care is a must) so he was thwarted on that count, but, well, I have a LOT of yarn. A LOT. And Knit Picks just had a sale, so I'd just unpacked 3 sweaters worth of yarn. (seriously, you can't pass up a $20 sweater made from real wool). Not to mention the yarn I already have stashed. There's some acrylic and cotton in there, but I'm a wool girl, so I have Peruvian Highland wool, Merino and Merino superwash, Alpaca (will the moths eat this too?! *hyperventilates*) and all assortment of wool blends: silk, nylon for socks, cashmere, and other funsies. I keep my yarn in 2 plastic containers with lids, but the sale yarn wasn't fitting in there so good. Well. Given the moth invasion, I marched into the stash and stuffed it inside.They're a bit bulging, and not exactly airtight, but all yarn is securely snapped into a container.

All the while, I was panicking. Was some of the yarn already infected? Would it contaminate OTHER yarn?! The possibilities were horrifying.

I hurried over to Mike and explained the upsetting situation.

"I saw a moth last night."


"I mean, a MOTH."

*crickets chirp*

"You know, they eat *wool*. They will eat my yarn!!!!!!!"

"OOOhhh. Yes, and we certainly have a lot of yarn, don't we?" *smirky smile*

"This isn't funny. Keep an eye out for it. Immediately kill it if you see it."

"Ok, Sweetie."

"I haven't seen it again, but still. It wasn't big though, like traditional moths. It was tiny. But it had wings!"

"It was tiny? It couldn't be a moth then. At least not the kind that go after your clothes/wool."


My prayers have been answered. Now if somebody knows otherwise, that in fact there does exist a small species of moth that will go after my precious wool, keep it to yourself. We don't need me having a breakdown over here. But if you have moth prevention techniques that don't involve stinky moth balls, have at the comment box. :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some summer reading

With my new Kindle tucked into my hand like a baby bird, pink cover lovingly encasing it, I've been doing a lot more reading. The instant gratification of downloading a book right onto my Kindle and having immediate access to it is unparalleled for a bookworm like me. I LOVE it. *kiss*

Now, as you may already know about me, I have definite tastes in reading. I read very little classical literature or even spiritual classics. I just have a short attention span, I'm unashamed to admit. I prefer spiritual memoirs and fiction. In particular, I like romance fiction, especially of the inspirational variety, meaning Christian. Mostly, I read Catholic fiction, Amish fiction, or series Christian fiction, such as Steeple Hill Love Inspired (an imprint of Harlequin). The few authors that I read who publish out of larger, traditional Christian publishing houses usually write Amish fiction. If it's not specifically Catholic or Amish, I like very generic Christian fiction where the characters express their faith life but aren't too overbearing about it. I've been burned in the past with anti-Catholic things in some Christian fiction, so I'm choosy. 

Beth Wiseman is an author I've been reading a lot of lately, and I'm a big fan of her work. She publishes out of Thomas Nelson, but she writes mostly excellent Amish fiction. I read a book of hers recently, Seek Me With All Your Heart, and it even contained a positively portrayed Catholic character! In my experience, this is quite rare from a traditional Christian publisher. I'm not saying they all publish tons of anti-Catholic rhetoric or anything like that. But Catholicism will mostly be absent. All Christian characters are explicitly or assumed to be non-denominational. I'm in the midst of reading two of her Amish series right now, Land of Canaan and Daughters of the Promise. She's also written a contemporary Christian book recently called Need You Now, and I liked that one as well. This book features a storyline more commonly seen in Christian romances than in secular (in my opinion), which is that the featured couple is already married, but undergoing marital difficulties. As the book unfolds we watch their relationship crumble, and then build back up again via love, communication, and their faith in God. I definitely recommend her books for strong character development, lovely settings, and a solid and well articulated faith element. 

By way of the other non-Catholic inspirational fiction that I read, I really do like Steeple Hill Love Inspired, like I mentioned above. This is a series imprint, meaning that multiple books will come out each month in the line, and sometimes feature newer authors, although well established authors also make frequent showings. I used to "subscribe" to this line years ago, which entails Harlequin Reader Service sending you all of the books for each month in your chosen imprint for a discounted price. I couldn't keep up after a time, so I cancelled, but I always enjoyed the books. The regular Love Inspired titles are contemporary romances. Harlequin has now expanded the genre to include Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical. I read an occasional historical romance, and when I do, I love them, but they're not my favorite genre. But my new favorite is Love Inspired Suspense. As you would imagine, these are romantic suspense books, and the characters will have a faith element present in their lives. They are very sweet (no love scenes) but are long enough to accommodate strong character development in the midst of a catchy mystery. LOVE them. Harlequin offers a free title for most of their lines so that one can decide whether or not they like that series or not, and for Love Inspired Suspense they offer Marta Perry's Hide in Plain Sight, which is (yay!) an Amish title. I linked to the Kindle version, but you can get the epub version off the Harlequin web site. I just finished reading this book, and I enjoyed it very much. As is often the case in series romance, this is the first title in a trilogy, The Three Sisters Inn series. I plan to read books two and three as well.

I do love series romance. Not everyone does, they prefer longer stand alone titles, but these are nice fast reads with engaging stories. My favorite lines are Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense, but I also like Harlequin Intrigue and Harlequin Romantic Suspense, as well as a occasional Harlequin Superromance. You can buy them (both in print and as an ebooks, though not Kindle compatible) from Harlequins web site, or from Amazon for your Kindle. Harlequin offers them a month early. If you order from Amazon, you have to wait until the first of the month they are released. But what I like is that I can preorder the ones I want, and then on the first day of the month, they automatically download to my Kindle. You don't pay for preorders until they actually download. It's awesome.

Right now I'm reading a library ebook (sweet!) from my very favorite Amish author, Beverly Lewis. It's the first book in her new series Home to Hickory Hollow, called The Fiddler. Loving it. It takes so little to make me happy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Still loving my Kindle, and trying to bellydance in the kitchen

So, I had a very nice weekend, despite the long day on Saturday. Hank had a great time and was very cute about the whole thing. An exhibit entitled "Grossology" does appeal to little boys, no? Learning about snot and gas just makes their day, apparently.

I also managed to sneak in some dance practice, and I feel like I worked the kinks out. My index cards and I have been spending lots of quality time together, and I've just committed to running through the music a few times each day and I can tell it's going better. I just have an entrance, finale, and a few accents planned, the rest is improv. But I listened to the whole song to get a feel for when those accents fall and what other types of musical similarities come in between, and I have a better idea of what types of things to put where. I also need to get on top of practicing our group number and the sword number, which I need to add a solo piece to (!) but I'm not too worried about those. They are infinitely easier for me, psychologically. At least right now, sitting in front of my computer in my air conditioned office, rather than at the dance studio in a sweaty lycra costume trying to balance a sword on my head in front of a room full of people. Good times.

In totally different news, I'm still in absolute love with my Kindle. AND, I just discovered that a little devotional that I really love, Living Faith, is now available for Kindle. I used to subscribe in print, and it's very inexpensive, $11 for a year. It comes in seasonal 3-month segments, and the daily readings are very short, but quite sweet. I always liked it. It is now available for all sorts of devices, including Kindle. Each 3-month segment is only $2.99! So I'm going to download the July, August and September volume. Super excited.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Anne continues to molarize, and I need to get my dance mojo on

Anne's new molar continues to grow, but meanwhile I swear there's another one right behind it. She's drooling like crazy and incredibly crotchedy. I hope she has a new tooth by the end of the weekend.

As for me, I have dance tonight after being off last Friday for the holiday weekend, and I made the horrifying discovery today that our hafla is in 2 weeks. I'm rather terrified about this. I haven't been practicing in the evenings for the past week or so, and I know it's because I'm in denial. I'm nervous about my solo (the improvisation, who bright idea was that?!) so I'm avoiding it, which is a really bad idea. I went through my index cards today and that helped. I need to channel some happy bellydance energy in a hurry.

So, I'll do what I can and report in on Monday. Tomorrow is going to be a long day because Mike is going to a baseball game with his dad so I'll be fielding the children, and I have to run Henry to a birthday party and Anne over to my parents' house, and then back for dinner with everybody, and it'll be a little crazy. If I make it through that, I can bellydance on Sunday, sigh. Henry's party is at the local science museum, and the theme is "grossology." Doesn't that sound lovely? I'm planning to bring my knitting bag and my Kindle and pray for the best.