Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Sweetie, what's that smel..." "NOTHING!"

In the spirit of my knitting Olympics, I finally blocked a bunch of colder weather items that have been sitting on top of our radiator since approximately March. Blocking means simply soaking them in cold water with some wool friendly wash and then laying them out to dry flat in the shape that you want the item to be. Wool is an amazing fiber. When it is wet, you can shape it however you like, and it will dry to those exact specifications. It's like clay. It also wicks moisture while you're wearing it, and keeps you exceptionally warm.

So, I blocked my sweaters, and set them out to dry on our bedroom floor. There aren't a lot of other places I could be doing this, you see. Our house isn't small, but nor is it large. And with Anne running around, there aren't many spots that I can have things lying out that I don't want chubby little fingers to get into. So our bedroom floor it is.

A few nights ago, I walk into our bedroom where Mike is already tucked into the covers, reading a book. From the doorway, I can see his nose twitching. I quickly set to work getting dressed for bed, acting completely innocent, as if it didn't smell like a pack of soggy dogs had run through our bedroom just moments before.

"Sweetie, what's that smell in here? Is that your...sweaters?"

"Well, yes. It's just wet wool, it'll go away."

"I hope so." *brows creased*

And unfortunately for Mike, that same scene was repeated the next night because my blocking backlog was so vast. He survived.

I knit 2.5 more inches on my sweater and am now ready to increase. Go Team Knit Picks Lovers!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ravellenic Games Day 3, and grateful for Ordinary Time...

Ok, so I've been watching a lot of the Olympics. And I've been knitting while I do so. A lot. Well, I mean, I have 2 small children, which translates into = Not Nearly As Much As I'd Like To. But I've been getting a lot done.

Friday afternoon I threw caution to the wind, and cast on right from my desk during the Mass Cast On. Sisterly Knitting Energy wrapped itself around me like a cashmere/Merino wool blend. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Later, after dance class, I picked up my fledgling sweater and began to lovingly knit again. I got about 5 rounds in, and I could really see the pattern developing. The fabric is absolutely to die for. Then I saw it.


There it was. A twist in my in-the-round knitting. What does this mean? It means that, despite how careful I was, when I joined my cast-on row in the round, the stitches were slightly twisted on one side, and now my fabric was twisted. Unless I wanted a moebius sweater, or to steek a cardigan, this is a fatal condition, and I must rip back.


I hadn't gotten that far, but I still didn't want to have to start over. Plus, my cast-on was all symbolic and perfect.

Instead of taking this hit like a mature person, I bitched about it to Mike, and then stubbornly stayed up until nearly midnight to knit back to where I had to pull it out.

The next morning I was tired, but determined. I worked on the sweater when I could, and am now past the waist shaping decreases and have 2.5 inches to go before I have to increase for the bust and armholes. I'm a very happy woman on a mission.

Tonight, my goal is to get to those increases. I think I can do it. The sweater is now going so well that I also cast on for a pair of fingerless mittens to enter in the Mitten Medley.

I'm insane.

But on a related note, who else is highly amused that the female beach volleyball players have had to cover up more because the weather is so chilly and rainy in London?

*raises hand*

And modesty aside, seriously. WHO (I ask you) looks good in teeny tiny bikini bottoms running around chasing after a ball on a bunch of sand? I don't care how slim are, NOBODY looks good in this situation. You spend 75% of the time not-so-delicately yanking aforementioned bottoms back to where they should be, and my friends, this is not a flattering look. If you are a teenager, please take note of this. In this case, MORE really is more.

Ok, moving on. I'll post pictures of my in-progress sweater later this week. Henry and I attended Mass yesterday, and I think that finally everyone has gotten the hang of the new responses. And I know there is still some disgruntlement amongst some Catholics about the new translation, but I really like the new responses. Having attended the Mass in Latin recently, I can say that the new responses are much closer to those from the Extraordinary Form. I like them very much.

And as Henry and I sat during the Homily, I was thinking about how nice this summer stretch of Ordinary Time is. It's a good time for contemplation on key parts of the Gospel (the multiplication of the loaves and fish yesterday) and is a wonderful buildup to the busy fall season of saint feasts and Advent.

By the way, Advent is *late* this year; it doesn't start until December 2nd! I can't remember the last time the first Sunday of Advent wasn't Thanksgiving weekend. I'm sad about this, since I'm super excited for Advent to come.


Friday, July 27, 2012

And so it begins...

Today is the big day, and I'm busting my buttons I'm so excited. I have to swatch at knitting lunch today (that's considered "training" and ok to do prior to the start of the Games) and then I'll be all set to cast on later today.

I'll be posting about my progress, so you'll learn lots and lots about the sweater making process, bet you can't wait. By next week at this time, I hope to be well through the body (this is knit from the bottom up), including waist shaping, and nearing the division of front and back toward the armholes. As the second week gets to halfway, I need to be at the yoke colorwork, otherwise I won't make it. To post my project to the finish line, I need to have it bound off with all ends woven in by 7 pm EST on Sunday August 12th. I think I can do it, I really do. And if I finish early, I have a project lined up for the Mitten Medley. Because I'm just that crazy.

And yes, crazy people like me can enter events after the Games begin, so long as it's a fresh project you didn't start before the Opening Ceremonies. The key is *finishing* new projects prior to the end of the final day.

I've always been a person that likes having a goal as motivation, and knitting provides lots of those for me. There's always a new challenge in technique or approach to try, and new exciting projects to move on to. It's such a wonderful, wonderful craft. I used to solely crochet, and I still do crochet sometimes. But knitting has taken over as my first crafting love, and I'm so grateful for it.

Update to be posted Monday after my first weekend of Sweater Triathloning. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Anne :)

And it's also raining here today, so obviously, it's a good day. We had thunderstorms overnight, which woke me, but thankfully not the kids. I've been SO sleepy. Last night I slept good aside from the thunder wake up call, but my body feels like it hasn't caught up from poor sleep the night before with Anne. So blogging will be light today. I can barely keep my eyes open. And somehow, I have to look alive on the reference desk from 3-5 pm today, and then go to a belly dance class later. Sigh.

At any rate, I'm all excited by the Ravellenic Games starting tomorrow, and have my yarn and needles all packed and ready to go. I will be posting updates as the Games unfold on how my sweater is progressing. I'm ridiculously excited.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ravelete for the Sweater Triathlon, reporting for duty!

Yesterday afternoon, none of my beloved knitting friends could make it to our usual daily lunch session, so I was pitifully knitting by myself in my office. I was surfing Ravelry while I worked, the big online community for knitters and crocheters. Suddenly,  I honed in on something that I hadn't been paying much attention to, but that all of a sudden caught my interest like a house on fire:

The Ravellenic Games 2012.

No, not the Ravelympics; apparently that is a trademark violation.  *troublemaker lips firmly zipped* But the Ravellenic Games, in which thousands of knitters compete to finish ambitious projects during the span of the Olympics. The more I clicked through the rules and associated boards on Ravelry, the more excited I got. I rushed home in a tizzy.

Mike: "Do you mean to tell me that there is such a thing as a knitting Olympics and that there are events entitled things like Felting Freestyle, Afghan Marathon and *Sock Put*?"

"YES!!!!!!! Isn't it wonderful?!"

"This may be the cutest thing you've ever told me."

It took me a while to figure everything out, but I think I'm finally all set. I'm officially a member of Team Knit Picks Lovers, competing in the Sweater Triathlon event.


Yes, I'm going to try and knit an entire sweater in 16 days. The pattern I chose is Summer Set by the Sea, and as the name would indicate, it's a very summery garment with short sleeves, so it's ideal for late summer and early fall. This also makes it faster to knit. :) Although it *does* involve some tricky colorwork at the yoke, so that will pose a bit of a challenge. I'm going to be knitting it in Knit Picks Comfy, which is a Pima cotton/acrylic blend, and the colors will be Seafoam (main color), Honeydew, Bison, and Ivory, a very beachy/seashell inspired palette.

I couldn't possibly be more excited. When I woke up this morning (exhausted, because Anne is getting a new molar and needed some cuddles at 4 am) I remembered the Games and my project and I got that excited feeling in my stomach, like when you're a kid and you wake up on the first day of your vacation.

The mass cast-on (couldn't you just die?!) is set for Friday at 4 pm EST, when the opening ceremonies officially begin in London. 

Did I mention that I was excited?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saint feast days...

The feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim is coming up on Thursday. Does anybody celebrate patron saint feast days with your kids? What types of things do you do?

I made a big deal with Hank this year on the feast of St. Henry earlier this month, but we didn't end up doing anything special because it was too hot to bake. I was thinking we could do a joint saint celebration on St. Anne's day (I'm sure she doesn't mind sharing :)).

Do you make something? Food? A craft? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another year of VBS, and some baby knitting...

This morning I dropped Henry off for his first day of Vacation Bible School at our parish. He acted a bit shy, but was happily playing Bible Bingo when I left. The theme this year is national park-related, and Henry's age range is the beaver group, how cute is that?

Mike was relieved to have his mornings free for five days, so I'm happy that this eases his load a bit. Well, "free" as in one less child running around, but he still has Anne, who is a full fledged terror at this point. If it can be climbed, she will climb it. And probably fall off of it. And when you forcibly take her off of it, she will whine and complain and cry all the day long. She's been very challenging of late. VERY CHALLENGING.

As for me, I can finally post my baby knitting, since my sister's baby shower was this past weekend. I made 2 hat and sweater sets, one in pumpkin and one in blueberry:

A Dreamcatcher Baby Blanket:

And 3 sets of matching bibs and wash cloths with animals on them, like this duck set:

I had fun.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is my kind of weather, and ponderings on Church weddings...

Ah, the past few days have been overcast and breezy. I love this kind of weather. Clearly, I should be living in the Pacific Northwest.

There has also been some "rain activity" but I wouldn't actually classify it as "RAIN," unfortunately. I mean, little drops have come down, but they never pick up their pace nor last for longer than 10 minutes at a stretch, so total accumulation is something like .000567 %. This is not going to make the grass green again, people. Maybe if it kept doing this for 3 weeks straight, but I'm doubting that will be the case. At any rate, I'm grateful for the break in the heat and the hope of rain, so I'll take it.

On a totally unrelated note, I read an article last week about Katie Holmes coming back to her Catholic faith. Did anybody else see this? It was from a reliable source like Yahoo News *rolls eyes* so I take it with a grain of salt, but it piqued my interest because I had always wondered about this.

I knew that Katie Holmes had been raised Catholic, and that when she married Tom Cruise, they were married in a Scientology ceremony. These are the only two facts that I'm certain of, you see. Thus, everything else that I'm about to say is pure conjecture, but that's what blogs are for, no?

When they married, I remember thinking to myself, "her parents must be heartbroken that she's leaving her faith." I don't know the Holmeses, so I have no earthly idea how they felt about their daughter's marriage, but this is how *I* would have felt. I'm also presuming here that Katie did not pursue and receive a dispensation from canonical form, because if she had, then her marriage would have been valid in the Church. So, I'm making a lot of assumptions here, but bear with me.

My whole point is that the situation got me to thinking about our children retaining their faith as adults. I pray for this intention weekly at Mass, that my children always stay close to Jesus and His Church. Do I think that in order to do that, my children need to marry other Catholics? No, I don't think that, actually. Would it help if they did marry other Catholics? Yes. But is such a marriage *necessary* for them to remain Catholic or even grow deeper in their faith? No, I don't think that it is.

But presuming that Katie here didn't seek out her parish priest prior to her wedding to receive Catholic marriage preparation and a dispensation to marry outside of a Catholic ceremony, this is what I'm getting at. When a Catholic person does not seek out the Church for their marriage, and marries outside of Her authority, that makes me sad. Because that's often the impetus to them leaving their faith entirely. In that state, they cannot receive the sacraments, and without the sacraments, their faith will suffer. Plus, the fact that the person didn't care enough to go through the Church for the dispensation demonstrates (at least in my opinion) that they don't feel very attached to their faith to begin with. And as a parent, this would break my heart.

Many times, it seems to me that the people I see not pursuing a Church wedding lose interest in religious faith altogether. This would bother me the most. It would bother me considerably less if my child became a member of another church. And even that has degrees. I would rather they stayed Catholic, but if my child became a very devout Anglican or Methodist, I would be ok with that. (But I'll just admit that I'd always still pray they would return to their Catholic roots :)). I would struggle, however, if they became a member of a non-Christian faith, probably nearly as much as if they lost all faith in God entirely.

In the end, all we can do is pray. Once they become adults, it's their choice, and we have to hope that something we did as parents acts a springboard to them making their faith their own and growing in their relationship with God.

This is all a bit rambling, but back to Katie. According to Yahoo News, she is now a registered parishoner at a local Catholic Church. If true, I think this is good, and I'm sure her parents are thrilled. :)

So, our thought-provoking question for the weekend: what in your childhood (if anything) caused you to remain attracted to religious faith as an adult? Or alternatively, what in your childhood acted as a spark to reignite your religious faith after leaving it for a time?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adventures in my yarn stash, and what's new with Anne?

So, Anne. She's weaned. It's definite this time. When I think about it I start to cry, so I try to focus on the positives. She wasn't interested in nursing anymore, and nursing should be a mutual desire between you and the child. She was ready to let go. Just because I wasn't doesn't mean that I should press her on it. So I let it go. But it hurts.

She's very independent these days, and this is translating into some serious sauciness. All of a sudden, if you pick her up and she wants to stay put, she throws her head back, kicks her legs, and squawks. Hand her something she doesn't want? She *slaps* it away. Poor Sophie the giraffe received such treatment this morning. She's still my precious sweet pea, but definitely a sassy one these days.

Yesterday, I brought her into our all purpose guest room/office with me while Mike and Henry attended his swimming lesson at the local YMCA. She's usually not allowed in there during the day, because this is where we keep things that we don't want her to touch. The room is nice because it's on the first floor, so it's very convenient, we can close the door to keep the baby out, and it just provides us with nice extra space. I keep my yarn and knitting needles in the closet in this room. The closet is also home to several belly dance costumes, a sword, an iron, a yarn swift and winder, and our vacuum cleaner. Like I said, multi-purpose.

I'd been dying to get my hot little hands on my yarn bins for some time. I've been itching to sort through things and see what I had in there so I could start planning for holiday gifts. I know what I have set aside for large items like sweaters and shawls, but I also have lots of leftover partial skeins and such that I knew I could put to use for other projects. In particular, I am in need of several colors of cotton, and I felt certain I may have some of them buried within the bins. I wanted to get all the partial skeins together into bags sorted by fiber. This = Type A, I know.

So, I let Anne in there, and immediately she began a bonanza of pulling DVD's down off of the shelves in there, but oh well. I got the bins out and began to sort. Wool, alpaca, silk and blends of this ilk in one bin, cotton and acrylic and blends with these in another. All the little partial skeins were placed into large Ziploc bags together, cotton in one, wool in another.

We'll just say that the wool bin is, ah hem, full. The cotton and acrylic bin actually had a luxurious amount of space in it. I was able to get rid of some things that just weren't doing it for me anymore, and I felt very proud. I discovered several cotton skeins that I can put to use right away with my holiday project ideas.

Pleased with my results, I hid PLACED the bins back into the closet. I'm all excited now about my holiday knitting. It's all very secretive, so I can't reveal anything about it for quite some time. And I know you're all just *dying* to see it, but alas.

It'll only get better when I can actually knit without sweating, but we're getting there. Still no rain.

*huffy sigh*

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I know that much of the country has been experiencing drought conditions this summer, and western New York is no exception.

"It looks like we're growing wheat out in the front yard."

...was Mike's comment the other day, as he narrowed his eyes. We're not really big "grass people." Did that come out right? I mean, we don't have a sprinkler system nor pamper our grass. But it would be nice if the grass were green, I don't think that's too much to ask.

The grass everywhere here is almost totally brown. The campus really looks abysmal. They are clearly trying to keep the main entrance with the sign and flowers looking nice and are watering everything. But the rest is too vast to water and is brown, brown, brown.

I think when it finally does rain I'll go outside and turn my face right into it. I like rain. It's cozy. And the living things outside need it in order to grow. Rain gets a bad rap, but we need to be honest:

Rain is good. I miss rain.

Rain, rain, how I long to see your face...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday evening soccer

Mike usually takes Henry to soccer while I stay home to put Anne in bed, but last night Hank asked me to take him so that he could show me his budding skills. I packed up a lawn chair and my knitting bag, and off we went.

Mike had drawn me a map (because he's so cute) and so I pulled into the small roadway next to the giant community field with confidence. I spotted the building marked on the map, and parked in a lot nearby, next to the field.

"Mommy, Daddy doesn't park here."

"That's ok, Honey. We can park somewhere slightly different."

*skeptical face*

Henry decidedly does NOT like changes to his routine.

We unload and head to the field. Mike had drawn me a map of this too, since it's divided up into many, MANY smaller playing fields, but I figured Henry would lead me to his since he's been going to soccer for a full month now. Needless to say, I figured wrong.

"Hank Honey, is this your field?"

I stand analyzing small galloping children wearing similar jerseys to his.

"Um, I don't think so, Mommy."

"Well, what about that one? I think this other group is finishing up, so maybe that's where you'll be when they're done?"

"No, that's definitely not it." *concerned expression*


It took us a solid 10 minutes to figure out where he needed to go, and I pitched my lawn chair and took out my knitting with a sigh of happiness. There were TONS of parents there, both moms and dads, plus smaller children in abundance. I even saw a family from our parish.

The drills begin, and I spot Henry bounding happily after a soccer ball. Tremendously cute.

About 10-15 minutes pass successfully. Then I hear their coach yell:

"Water break!"

Henry comes running over with a beatific smile. Uh oh.

"Hank, where's your water bottle, Honey?"

I had given it to him when we got in the car back at home.

"In the car."


The car is a solid 10 minute hike away, all the way across the mammoth field and several in-play soccer games. Sigh.

I begin my hike immediately, and hurry back, where Henry is waiting for me very impatiently.

"What took you so long Mommy?" *accusing stare*

"Honey, the car is kind of far away. I went right there and right back. Go ahead and go back to playing."

Happily, the rest of practice passed without incident. By the end, I could see that my normally Energy-Knows-No-Bounds Henry was actually *tired*. The hike back to the car clearly nearly did him in. He didn't even have the energy to pepper me with questions on the drive home. Poor thing.

So, overall, soccer is a success. Hank seems to really like it, and it's a nice community program. Obviously, I need more practice as a soccer mom, but we're getting there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sipping tea, and Mass musings...

I'm a tea drinker. I do also drink coffee, but I'm not addicted to it. At work, I exclusively drink tea, and I brew it daily. My absolute favorite black tea is Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet, which yes, is a holiday tea. That seems to be a theme lately. They put it in the stores in the fall, and I stock up. It's a nutty vanilla tea with a hint of cinnamon. I adore it.

Well, this year I didn't stock up enough. Sometimes I remember to stalk the grocery store *after* Christmas, and then all the holiday teas are on clearance (score!). But I didn't this past year. Hence, I ran out of Nutcracker Sweet about a month ago, much to my dismay.

Thus, I pulled out the regular Salada bags that I'd had since before my pregnancy with Anne. I try to drink more decaf when I'm pregnant, so these had been sitting around awhile. It was fine, but I was missing my Nutcracker fix. This was a BIG box of regular tea bags, and I dutifully brewed a cup every morning until I couldn't take it anymore. I went in search of Nutcracker Sweet.

Happily, I found that via their web site, Celestial Seasonings sells Nutcracker Sweet year round. And if you buy a bulk box of 6 packages, you get a small discount on the price. I snapped one up.

It arrived on Saturday, and so I'm contentedly sipping Nutcracker Sweet at my desk. *bliss*

On a totally different note, Mike and I went to Mass by ourselves Saturday evening. As you can imagine, this is a pretty rare occurrence. We had dinner plans with some friends, and the restaurant is right near our parish, so my in-laws came over to watch the kids, and we went to Mass and then dinner.

I rarely go to the vigil, preferring to attend Mass Sunday morning. But Mike likes the vigil better when he goes to Mass, so I'm happy to oblige. Right away I noticed something relating to a post from last week: the dress of the attendees. The vigil clearly attracts an older crowd, and all were dressed nicely.

Mike and I were talking about it as we walked to the restaurant, and I noted that this was a big contrast to what I see at the Mass I usually attend at 10 am Sunday mornings. That's the "Family Mass" and draws a younger crowd. At that Mass, I often see shorts, flip flops and tank tops. When I mentioned that, Mike stopped short and made what I thought was a comment that summed things up nicely:

"If it's a chore to dress nicely for church, you're going for the wrong reasons."

I think he's totally right. I do think there's a "at least I'm here!" attitude that plays into this a bit (and my friend Karen mentioned this in the comment section of the post from last week) and that's just a shame. Going to Mass is about a lot more than simply meeting our weekly obligation, but I know that I've been guilty of this mentality in the past, so I'm not casting any stones. I don't know what the solution is, but I will just mind my own business and focus on what *I'm* wearing. That's all I'm accountable for.

I will say at when I attend Mass in the Tridentine rite, it's a breath of fresh air in this regard. Not only is everyone dressed nicely, people downright go all out, wearing beautiful dresses and head coverings, men in *suits*! It contributes toward a feeling of reverence, that we're participating in something special, and I truly appreciate that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Feast of St. Henry, and Anne is nursing again...

...and yes, I'm happy about it. :) She's only nursing 1-2 times per day, but I'm happy to continue on for the time being. I feel much less like I may burst into tears at any time today. Success.

Today is the feast of St. Henry, and this year I wanted to start celebrating the kids' patron saint feast days as something special. We planned to make a special dessert with Hank today. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy the ingredients at the store, and also forgot until I got to work that St. Henry day is in fact today.

*Mother of the Year*

Sigh. But I'll make a big deal about it tonight, and we can make the dessert this weekend. St. Anne's feast is the 26th of July (I believe) so we can make a cake then. Not that Anne will notice, but Hank will.

Does anybody else celebrate saint feasts? What sorts of things do you do?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Anne is weaning



She hasn't nursed since yesterday morning, and I feel like I may cry. She'll be 14 months old next week so I know that it's perfectly fine for her to wean now. I would keep nursing her, this is her choice to not nurse anymore. I've met her needs and it's been a wonderful bonding experience for us.

So why do I feel so miserable?

Tiffany. Remember the engorgement, the super full and uncomfortable feeling that resulted from not nursing for even a few hours? It's nice to not have to worry about that anymore, right? Anne is so much more independent now. I have so much more freedom now. This is good, right?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A crafty post

I've been feeling quite crafty lately, so I thought I'd post a few pictures of things I've made lately. I can't post the baby knitting yet, since they are as yet still surprises. :) But my other creations include:

Dish towels and cloths. I made these for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day. I like making kitchen items. They're very practical, but making them pretty really brightens up the room, in my opinion.

My latest garment is a very summery tank top:

Obviously, you need another tank underneath this one, but it's very cute for layering and for something different.

I'm currently making some reversible dishcloths for our kitchen, and finishing up the baby gift knitting. After that, I have, oh I don't know, a LOT of sweaters (both summer cardigans and warm winter woolens) to cast on for. A number somewhere between 6 and 20, something real reasonable like that. Plus a few things for the kids (dress and lovey for Anne, hat for Henry) and gloves for my dad. AND a crafty new Catholic project that I'm super excited about. Somehow, I actually don't have the colors of yarn that I need for it (the fact that there is a color that I do not have in my largeish *cough* yarn stash should qualify as a miracle for someone's cause of canonization) so I'll have to order what I want, next month maybe. Details to follow soon. :)

*rubs hands together evilly*

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Casual dress at Mass...

For whatever reason, this topic has been on my mind this week. I suppose it's because it is now the heart of the summer, and the annual reappearance of shorts and tank tops has infiltrated my local parish.

And the thing is, I'm happy and thankful for everybody that makes it to Mass. I really am. I'd rather that they come to church, no matter what. But I always wonder: why do people wear really casual clothing to Mass? This seems to be prevalent much more in Catholic circles than in other Christian churches (at least, that's how it seems to me).

So, these are my own personal thoughts on the matter (for what they're worth) and then we can analyze. My current standard for dress at Mass is:

Would I wear this to a wedding?

If I wouldn't, I shouldn't wear it to Mass either. Weddings are (usually) formal events in which we feel we should dress up and look our best. Why would worshiping God merit less of a standard?

I used to wear jeans to Mass. I no longer do that, simply because I feel it's not dressy enough. I'm not trying to be judgey, just relaying my opinion and experience. :) I will wear skirts and dresses (length at least to the knee) or dress slacks (which is what I wear 75% of the time). In the summer, I will sometimes wear dressy capri length pants. Meaning no denim, but black "dress" fabric. I will not wear a top that does not cover my shoulders to church. And no sneakers. I usually also wear a convertible headcovering in either the headband form or the longer scarf length.

When I see other people dressed "up" for Mass, it makes me happy. Gives the atmosphere more of a "special" feeling. When casual clothes and lots of skin abound, I just think it gives the wrong impression. I don't give anybody the facey face or anything like that. What they wear is their business. I'm glad that they're there. But I always hope that they see others dressed differently and maybe consider dressing likewise in the future.

This has come up a number of times between Henry and I. I do not allow him to wear shorts to church, although I gave in to letting him wear jeans for the time being, simply because he was giving me such a hard time about not wanting to go to church at all for a spell I figured I had to give a little. But I'm not happy about it. At any rate, when he sees people wearing shorts he asks me why he can't wear shorts if other people are wearing them. I always tell him (quietly, of course) that we have to do what we feel is right and not worry about other people.

In the past, when I've been at a parish in which the priest will say something during his homily or print something in the bulletin about proper dress in the summer it causes a lot of resentment and unrest amongst the congregation. I don't want anybody to feel alienated. But on the other hand, shouldn't we set the bar high?

Thoughts? :)

Christmas in July, literally

Naturally, my poking around yesterday regarding the Fontanini nativity sets revealed a heretofore unknown fact about Christmas and Advent items: Christmas in July sales.

Who knew? Apparently this is the best possible time to buy your Christmas collectibles. My mother-in-law collects ceramic Christmas village pieces (can't remember the collection name offhand) and when I spoke with her yesterday she said that she would always add to her collection in July in anticipation of December since that was when you could get the best deal.

My glee was apparent as I trolled the Internet on my lunch hour. I found a Fontanini set that is slightly different from the one we saw in the Christian gift store, but still lights up and is much less expensive. AND THEN the Christmas in July sale knocked an additional 20% off the price. It comes with a stable including lit hearth, the holy family, and 2 sheep. Given how good the discount was, I was also able to procure the 3 kings and their kingly tent that Henry admired in the store. And the whole shebang included free shipping and a free angel. I'm going to tuck it away and then give it to Henry for his birthday in early November, perfect timing for Advent, and I'm *so* excited. SO EXCITED.

Henry actually brought up the nativity again last night, saying how he wants to collect all the pieces, but his favorite are the 3 kings.


I can't wait to give it to him. It hasn't shipped yet, not that I'm in any hurry. I'm a bit of a stalker when I order things online though, I'm always dying for them to come. :)

But all of this nativity shopping got me into the Advent spirit, and before I knew it, I was on Christianbook.com's Advent page looking at Advent wreaths, since we desperately need a new one. Henry and I were discussing those as well. I could see Mike arching an amused brow as we excitedly discussed what type of Advent calendar we wanted for this year and what other devotions we should look into. I'M SO EXCITED.

I've also got some Christmas crafting planned for gifts that I'll share at a later date (needless to say, they're cute) and I'm on an email list to be notified when the Advent wreath that I've got my eye on becomes available for the year.

I'm insane.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heat, nativity sets, and knitting abound

Bet you missed me. ;-) And so I return from my long weekend home. And doing so makes me appreciate my wonderful husband all the more. Our children are a handful, and he has them all day every day. Add to that the fact that we're finally experiencing some summer weather, and being home during the day can be a bit of a challenge.

It doesn't matter how hot Anne is, she does NOT slow down. She has *so* much hair, and she gets totally sweaty because she does nothing but run around and get into things. She also climbs on things. opens drawers and cupboards, and throws her baby dolls around when she's mad. Those long suffering baby dolls. But we're hanging in there.

Despite the heat, I've been knitting like an old lady with a lot of time on her hands. My sister is having twins, and this has sent my knitting into overdrive. It's hard to keep up with this demand! :) But I finally finished the baby knitting (well, almost) and so I moved onto some gift dishcloths. Dishcloths are wonderful summer knits. The cotton doesn't get all sticky when your hands sweat (I know, lovely) and it doesn't stick to my wood needles. I whipped out two this weekend, and am moving on to some new ones for our kitchen. Some of our old dishcloths have seen better days:

"Sweetie, I think there's something terribly wrong with that dishcloth you made."

"What do you mean?"

"Well. Just go into the kitchen."

"Oh, oh my."

Granted, it's the summer, so even the more heroic of dishcloths will start to stink after a time. But this is that the dishcloth is pressed into service for a mere 12 hours and the kitchen smells like someone died in there. Good Lord. I've switched yarn, and the yarn that I use now is much superior in this regard: Knit Picks Dishie. I'm currently knitting this lovely set of reversible dishcloths, and the designer has a free pattern available from this collection. They turn out very pretty and scrubby.

Anyway, I did take Henry to the Christian gift store last week, and we ogled the nativity sets. Naturally, his favorite was the lighted stable with 5" nativity figurines. At the store it was $175, but I see on the Fontanini site that it's $135 (and it includes 2 sheep!). At any rate, expensive. :) I did have a fun time shopping with him in there. He picked out a few of those little St. Joseph booklets and a St. Michael prayer card and we left the $175 nativity set in the store. I would like to explore getting him a set for Christmas. We'll see...

Oh, lol. Poking around on the Fontanini site is very cute and fun. "5" Three Kings Accessories Set: Camels not included."


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brief blogging hiatus...

I'm taking a long weekend from work, so I just wanted to mention that I won't be blogging for a few days. I'm sure I'll have lots of interesting updates on Monday (at least I hope you think so. :)) Both Henry and Anne's patron saint feast days are coming up, so I'll be soliciting ideas for that. Plus, Henry talked me into going to the Christian gift store to look at the Fontanini nativity sets today, so there will be some Advent planning coming up. :)

Talk to you Monday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Christmas in July

Last time we were at our local Christian book/goods store (one of Henry's favorite places; he's a total knickknack fan), Hank expressed an interest in the large display of Fontanini nativity sets. I'm sure some of you are familiar with them. The figurines are quite beautiful, but also quite expensive. This is coming from the household wherein the featured nativity set is made by Fisher Price, so you can see where I'm coming from on this. I told him that we could explore maybe getting the Holy Family starter set if he promised to take really good care of them. I mean, I think just Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are upwards of $50, so this is a much swankier set than we're used to. But I thought maybe it would be good for him to have a nice set that he could care for and take with him when he has his own home someday. And this is a set that you can build on each year. I mean, if you take a look at the sheer volume of figures they have available, with new ones coming out every year, it's mind boggling. You can have the entire ancient Middle East partying at your nativity set.

Anyway, I read something the other day about having the family nativity set be "interactive," such as by not putting Jesus in the manger until Christmas day (something to look forward to) and having the three wise men travel across the living room slowly building up to the epiphany. I thought this was a great idea and suggested it when Hank asked after the nativity set idea yesterday (because yes, he'd like to put the nativity set out now).

"How about during Advent, we put out Mary and Joseph, but keep baby Jesus hidden until Christmas eve..."

...as I turn around, I can already see Hank shaking his head, "no."

"Oh no, Mommy. I don't want to do that. Not put out baby Jesus?! No, we couldn't possibly do that."

He was quite scandalized. But very excited that I'm willing to explore getting him a nice nativity set that he can keep in his room ("We don't want Anne getting into it and breaking anything," he says with a Very Serious Expression).

Super cute.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Precious Kindle, how I love thee...

Yesterday was July 1st, you know what that means, right?

I used my downloaded version of Living Faith for the first time on my Kindle.

*angels sing*

I used to subscribe to Living Faith in print, but somewhere in the past year trailed off. I received an email from them recently advertising their brand new e-versions of the pocket devotional for both Kindle and Nook. Say no more. I headed right to Amazon and downloaded the July/August/September issue to my Kindle.

I love this little devotional. It's a short entry each day tied to the Mass readings. And having them on my Kindle makes it all very accessible for me, since my Kindle accompanies me pretty much everywhere. *kiss*

Relatedly, I have an rss suggestion that you'll love should you also have an e-reader in your life. Inspired Reads is a blog with daily updates on free and heavily discounted inspirational fiction and non-fiction in the Kindle store. Although I've yet to see any offerings on this site from Catholic publishers, I have downloaded some really books based on what I've found here, and all are very wholesome and solidly Christian. I just read a Mennonite fiction romance that was just adorable, and the only reason I found the author was because of this blog (my husband is hysterical that such a thing exists as "Mennonite fiction", but hey, if it's out there, I will find it :)). I have it entered into my Google Reader, so I catch all of their posts. Usually, the books are free that they advertise, but sometimes they'll be titles that are on a deep discount, maybe for $1.99 or $2.99. I've been quite happy with what I've found there.