Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A peaceful vigil for the feast of All Saints, and A COSTUME CRISIS

Well, all is calm here. Monday evening and overnight were really the worst for us. We're supposed to be getting more rain tonight and tomorrow, but I'm optimistic that things will be fine. School was back in session today, and it looks like any old overcast day. Anne and I will be attending Mass tonight at 5pm for All Saints, and I'm very excited. We were really spared the wrath of this storm. I know that on the far east coast things are going to be rough for a long time to come. :( Prayers for all of them.

On a totally different note, but something that also went down over the course of this crazy past weekend, our new group belly dance costumes are in. Oh sigh.

The entire time that I've been in the troupe, we've used the same designer from Egypt for our costumes. I've gotten 2 costumes from him, and I'm really happy with both. They're the green one and the blue one I danced in recently at the restaurant, both pictured on this blog. The blue one was a tad long and I needed it taken up an inch or so, but it wasn't a big deal. Others in my troupe were less happy with their costumes and the way they fit, so we decided to go with a different designer this time. Claire had ordered 1 costume from him and it was very nice and fit well. His prices were comparable.

So, we all got measured and picked a costume. Claire gives us the freedom to pick whatever costume design we each want, even for our group numbers. She wants everybody to feel comfortable in their costume. We all just order the same color. The dark green was our previous group color, now we chose gold.

Naturally, I spent weeks poring over costume pictures. I prefer the separate top and skirt sets, rather than a one-piece gown, so I honed in on those. There were at least a dozen that I liked, but in the end I chose a bra and belt set. What that means is that the hip belt is separate from the skirt such that you can pair it with other skirts and change up the look of the costume for very little money. I'm all about maximizing my investment, especially with more restaurant gigs hopefully in my future, so I thought I'd give this a try. With our color being gold, I knew that the bra and belt would match with any skirt that I bought, plus I already own a wine colored chiffon skirt I could wear it with. Win-win. Order submitted.

They arrived last week. Friday night before class, we all sat in the waiting room staring at the box of costumes while Claire finished up with another class. Claire poked her head in and told us to have at it, and within seconds, an explosion of sequins heralded the costume distribution. Costumes were tossed to and fro as we tried to figure out whose was whose. By process of elimination I found my costume. I didn't recognize it because:

(1) It had bronze accent beads, which I didn't order. I didn't care, they're pretty, but...

(2) It's not a bra and belt set.

I mean, the beading design is somewhat the same as the photograph (again, no matter, because it's lovely). But the belt is attached to the skirt. So I can't layer it with other skirts like I was planning.


We'll be using the gold skirt for our group performances, so I can't be taking it apart just because I want to wear it with other colors. It's not just tacked on there, I mean, it's heartily sewn into a gold lycra skirt as a single piece.

That immediately threw me for a loop, but I can even get over that. The larger problems presented themselves shortly thereafter.

Back to our story. Claire's other poor class comes into the waiting room to find a group of half-dressed women shimmying into gold lycra. A surge of gold-clad bodies pressed into the main dance studio to have access to the mirrors.

I hold my top over my boobs and frown again. Amy, my smaller-busted compadre, came over to sympathize. The bra tops are always so inflexible and stiff. The larger busted ladies are always spilling out and having to sew extra material into their tops. We small busted ladies, on the other hand, are always terrified of the ominous "Side Nipple" conundrum. Sorry, does this post need a "You Must be 18 Years Old to Read This" label?

"Side Nipple" is the phenomenon whereby the stiff (and never correctly sized) costume tops gap open and anybody with a side view can see right into your bra cup. Not exactly the view that you want your audience to see.

I've been worried about this with my other costumes, but with some tightening of the snaps in the back and straps they've been ok. This top was not looking promising. But I knew I could confer with my sewing mother-in-law for solutions. Onto the skirt...

Usually my skirts are all lycra that pull up to my hips and zip. This skirt, since it has the stiffer belt thing going on in the hip area, is just open on one side and you're supposed to sew in some hooks to close it. Well.

I wrap the skirt around my body. I quickly realize that it's at least 5-6 inches too small. I tug on it, hoping for some elasticity.


I was measured at the beginning of September. I haven't gained any weight. There is no way they correctly used my measurements to make this skirt. It wasn't even close.

Meanwhile, a scene of costume carnage was going on around me. Gowns were slipped over heads, but instead of ending at one's ankles, they were pooling onto the floor. And not just a little bit. I mean, *inches and inches* of excess fabric. Some could barely move their costumes were so tight. Breasts were decidedly NOT covered by tops. Areas of sheer fabric that were supposed to be in non-objectionable areas were revealing...body parts that the recipient had NOT intended. It was BAD.

Claire was horrified (even though it's totally not her fault) and immediately offered to sew for us. GOD BLESS HER. She took my skirt home and sewed in a whole new panel of coordinating copper material to make my skirt fit. We found an arm band that matched my belt that she could close the upper gap with. I haven't seen it yet, I'm hoping it looks flattering. :)

I enlisted my mother-in-law for Operation Gappy Top. First, she sewed hooks into the back and straps for me. Huzzah. Except the gap somehow got worse. This meant a trip to JoAnn's in which I spent an uncomfortable 10 minutes in a crowded aisle holding large foam bra pads up to my boobs to see what would work best. I'm now the proud owner of gel-filled bra inserts in my costume top, and the gapping problem is solved. I mean, the top still isn't perfect, but no nipples show, which is the important thing. This is a family friendly art form, I assure you. I look voluptuous, to be sure, but the top just gathers funny in the middle now.


I'll have bra and skirt reunited again on Friday and I'm hoping that everybody looks nice together. I really, really hope so, since our hafla is in a week and a half.

*eyebrows scrunch*

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We're Safe!

Most of the local school districts are closed today, including Henry's Catholic school, so I'm home with the kids today. It's been windy and rainy, but we haven't lost power, so we're feeling grateful. About 30-60 minutes south of here lots of people are without power.

We're having a nice, cozy day. Anne is mercifully napping (she spent the morning being grumpy and trying to boss all of us around) and we're about to carve our pumpkin with Henry. I'll report back in tomorrow!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stormy weather here = BEE ELIMINATION DEFENSE

Well, the bees are gone. In fact, they may not have been bees at all. A little research has indicated that they may have been yellow jackets. These were pretty large, much larger than the little bees I see in the summertime. I Googled "carpenter bee" since these guys were near a wood fence, wondering if they could be the culprit. Wikipedia tells me:

"In several species, the females live alongside their own daughters or sisters, creating a sort of social group."

Now I'm feeling bad. Well, not THAT bad. Plus, in looking at the pictures (really gross, ugh), I don't think these were carpenter bees. I'm sticking with my yellow jacket theory.

It's gotten quite chilly here, and although we're inland, we are one of the areas that will be impacted by Hurricane Sandy. It's been raining for days, and that is certainly not going to change. We're expecting to get a lot of wind and rain here starting later this evening. I'm hoping that we don't lose power, but there are no guarantees. My sister lives in northern New Jersey, and that area is right in the line of fire. Halloween may be a wash out this year, we'll have to see. I'm thinking that if this fall is any indication, our winter may not be nearly so mild as it was last year. Which is fine with me. :)

I'm looking forward to the feast of All Saints and All Souls this week, and am planning to take Anne to Mass with me on Wednesday for the vigil (weather permitting). Henry will be attending Mass at school ("Mmmmmoommmyy, we have to go to church AGAIN!"). Anne attended Mass with us this Sunday as well, and her favorite parts appear to be:

(1) the light fixtures,

(2) the overhead fans,

(3) the contemporary ensemble at the 10 am family Mass, and

(4) the bells at the consecration.

I can live with that.

Prayers for everybody on the east coast right now!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Is this a sign of the apocalypse?

Before I get into my main story for the day, Henry came home from school yesterday all excited that he was going to be in a class play.

"It's about Blessed Saint Kateri, Mommy."

How precious is that? I'm so grateful that we can send him to Catholic school.

It's all awesomeness and light in that story, but yesterday evening had a darker, downright bizarre pall cast over it as well. We will once again accompany the Catholic Librarian as she goes about the mundane business of her daily life. (I'm just so glad that you're not totally bored by it all). Let us begin as I travel home from work...

I left work early to get a few things done around the house since my in-laws watch our kids Tuesday and Thursday afternoons while Mike teaches. Hence, I would have the house to myself for a short time. This doesn't happen very often.

I arrive home at 4 pm and park in the garage, like usual. I head into the house. I go about my business. At 4:50, I call my mother-in-law to let her know that I'm ready for the kids. She relays that Anne has just had a poo explosion so they will be slightly delayed by the cleanup process.

At approximately 5:15, Mike pulls in the driveway followed seconds later by my mother-in-law bearing the children. As I move through the kitchen I see Mike pause on his way out of the garage. He stares at a corner outside our garage and frowns. Immediately my worry meter goes into overdrive. What does he see? Home and car repairs are always hard on our budget when they come up, but this is the dilemma all families face, so we bear it bravely. But of course, I hope for them to be as infrequent as possible.

Suddenly, the side door bursts open:

"MOMMY!! There's a whole bunch of BEES right by your car!"

Mike comes in at a much more moderated pace behind Henry.

"Yes, there are bees, a lot of them, over by your car and the garbage tote."

Our village has the industrial totes with lids so that animals cannot get inside. This includes bees. Although I'm certain that no bee has ever lifted the lid of one of these giant garbage totes. But I digress. The point is that they really can't be hanging out around the garbage tote because a smell has gotten their attention. It's all locked up tight.


I don't wish bees any ill will. Bees are good. But I don't want them right near my house, within stinging distance of my children. I head to the window.

Sure enough, I spy a *large* swarm of bees hovering near the ground around and behind the garbage tote. Other stray bees are spiraling off in all directions from this centered hub of activity. I clutch Anne while Mike and my mother-in-law bravely go to investigate.

"They're mating on the fence. And they're building a nest." (or hive, or whatever).

Fantastic. I don't want anybody or anything mating right outside my side door.

"Don't worry."

He knows me so well.

"I'll spray out there a bit and they'll go away."

I didn't ask what exactly he was planning on spraying. The fewer questions asked the better. I just wanted the bees gone, and they appeared to be multiplying by the nanosecond. And the weird thing is that when I came home from work, barely an hour before, there was nary a yellow and black striped insect to be found. What the heck happened?!

Yesterday was unseasonably mild, as in *nearly 80 degrees*. Related? It's the only thing I can think of.

Mike goes out and sprays an insect deterrant thing near the center of their activity. He runs back to the side door, several angry bees traveling in his wake. We take up watch at the kitchen window.

"There's still a lot of bees out there."

"Don't worry. Let's eat dinner and then I'll go spray again."

We do such, me worrying the entire time. Mike goes back out.

There are STILL a lot of bees out there. This time, he moves the garbage tote to really get at their hot spot.

Let's just say they really didn't like that.

He sprays again, and this time, I did see a noticeable difference afterward. There were, however, STILL A LOT OF BEES OUT THERE. I have never experienced anything like this. It was just surreal.

One more spray session later, things seemed to have calmed down. I was meeting some girlfriends from college out for a drink, and I gave the area in question quite a large berth when I went out to my car later. I had this nightmare scene in my head in which a swarm of bees chase me to my car and a gaggle of them get in before I could close the door.

Right. That didn't happen.

Everything was totally quiet until this morning, when I went to leave for work. As I approached the garage, a few bees perked up and flew over to my car. Clearly, they were looking to initiate a smackdown in retaliation for their fallen comrades.

I realized that I was standing there staring at them with my passenger side door wide open as I stashed my bags inside. I hustled into the car.

I will admit that I actually paused to make sure that I couldn't hear any buzzing before I did anything further. The coast was clear.

As I backed out of the garage I could see a handful of bees buzzing about. One landed right on my windshield and glared at me menacingly. I stepped on the gas and thankfully he flew away.

I called Mike to let him know that we still had some company in the garage. I'm hoping that by the time I get home later, they will have vacated to another destination.

But seriously...CREEPY. We live in a very urban suburb, I have no idea why they would want to live at our house. I just hope they pack their bags and move along without further incident.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A hodge podge of cute family activity, and is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?

*flips through animal board book with Anne*

"Woof woof!"

"Yes, that's a Dalmatian on the "Spotted" page, he's a doggie. He says 'woof woof.'"

"Woof woof!"

"I'm pretty sure that's not what the antelope says. But I don't what he says, so..."

"Woof woof!"

"No, the panther doesn't say 'woof woof.' I'm not exactly certain what the panther says, but whatever it is, it's much more sinister." *attempts growling noise*

"Woof woof!"


*Mike readies for his morning*

"That was a good night with Anne, huh? Especially coming off of those 2 tough nights earlier in the week."

"It was."

"I mean, she did fuss that one time at 10:30, but she went back to sleep."

"She got up at 10:30?"

"Yeah, don't you remember? You started crying."

"I did not."

"You did, but I knew it would be fine. You went right back to sleep."

"I don't think this actually happened."

"It did."


This happens every year. The week before Halloween comes and I want to break out my holiday playlist. I don't know what it is, I mean, I'm always enjoying the fall and all the fabulous weather and activities that it entails, I don't need to rush Christmas.

But I do it every year. My husband is completely scandalized, because he's all for keeping all holidays within their proper season and savoring them. He doesn't think you should listen to a beat of Christmas music nor glimpse a lighted tree until after Thanksgiving.

I will grant, prior to Halloween is too early. I make myself hold off, but it isn't easy I tell you. However, the instant November 1st comes, all bets are off. I already told Mike to prepare himself for Hank and I starting the Christmas movies in November, because otherwise we don't have enough time to watch them all. We own a LOT of Christmas movies.

And with Christmas gift knitting in full swing, I mean, who can blame me?

I love this time of year. :) That is, until mid-December when I'm cursing all yarn that is destined to still be knit or crocheted into a Christmas gift...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winter knitting...

It's still only October and yet I already get the feeling "Mike - Sweater" on my Christmas To-Be-Knit list is going to get the strike out through it yet again. (yikes; reading back through that old blog post makes me realize that some of the referred to projects I *still* haven't gotten to 1 full year later!) And I even have the yarn this year! I am determined to knit it for him this winter, it just may not be this *Christmas*.

The ghosts are coming along. I'm on the foot of sock #1, and I'm feeling optimistic that I may be able to wear them on Halloween night. We'll see, but I'm knitting, knitting along. I'm also working on a pair of mittens for myself to match the hat that I made for this winter. And I have finished up a few gifts.

But yet there's still more. Mittens, toys, socks, dish cloths galore. Lots of gifts to knit. We'll get there.

But some recent additions to our knitted family include:

My fall anklets, the offspring of the ill fated falling leaves socks:

A new crop of hats. Henry:

and Anne modeling her cupcake hat:

A new scarf for me, in a beautiful color gradient yarn:

So I've been busy. I also knit Mike a new hat, knit Anne a sweater and a bunny lovey, and a preemie cap for a baby in need. We're getting there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A brainstorm for Year of Faith ideas

I've been pondering my Year of Faith activities for a week or so now. I just love themes. Whenever there is a theme year in the Church, or a Jubilee year, or like when JPII announced the new mysteries of the rosary, well...I just about died from excitement on that one. I LOVE stuff like this (and I *heart* John Paul II). When I first about the Year of Faith, I didn't know what to think. I was excited about a theme, but felt adrift with regard to how to celebrate it. A whole year pondering the concept of "faith?" What does that even mean?

As time went on and I heard Catholic bloggers talk about this more and more I came to a conclusion as to how I wanted to approach this special year. Apparently, this is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, and so to me, the Year of Faith is a year of exploring exactly what my faith means to me. How does being Catholic shape the way I live (significantly) and can other see my faith via my actions?

To start off the year, I've started reading some Catholic non-fiction. I've been reading a lot of fiction (and I still do) but I want to have a Catholic book going at all times. Right now, I'm reading Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church on my Kindle. I love, love, love conversion story books. The stories are so personal and poignant, and it really ignites my own faith to read them. The Surprised by Truth series was *instrumental* in my reversion back to my Catholic faith in law school.

I'm really enjoying the book. The author is a former Methodist pastor who gave up his pastoral career in a gigantic church in the South to become Catholic. He was fairly indifferent to Catholics as a child, not having known very many. But he met a Catholic in divinity school and that started a long seeking process that culminated in his conversion. Good stuff.

I'm not certain what I will read next, but I will keep you posted. :) I'm volleying this with an Amish fiction title and some racing fiction. *snort*

What has everybody else started for the Year of Faith?

Monday, October 22, 2012

St. Kateri's big day

Ok, housekeeping first. The ghost socks are coming along. I'm on the heel flap of sock #1. I tried a smaller needle size and once again, it looked like a ghost massacre had just taken place. I'm stuck with the 3.25 mm needles for better or for worse. I'm hoping that the sock won't be too big for my foot but I feel peace in the sense that no other needle option will work so whatever happens, happens.

Also, my new gold belly dance costume shipped. Much rejoicing has commenced.

So that's all good news. We had a very nice weekend with the kids. The fall is really at its peak here and it's just beautiful. We raked up leaves in our back yard which Anne is a huge fan of. She has her own tiny rake that Hank used when he was little, and she toddles around the yard carrying it around. It's all very adorable. Here she is, ready to do some other gardening:

Isn't that sleeper just a crack up? It has pink cat faces on the feet. It just kills me.

In Catholic news, yesterday Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized. This is something I've been waiting for for quite a long time and I was hoping to catch some of the Mass on EWTN but didn't check soon enough. At any rate, that afternoon I logged into Facebook, and once again, I was annoyed. :) One of my friends posted a link to an article about the canonization, and this started off a small flurry of comments. One mutual friend commented that she sees the canonization as a positive thing, but that given some of the unsavory missionary work in those days there is also a negative connotation. Her comment was respectful, so it didn't bother me in the least. And I have read an article about this more negative view of St. Kateri's rise to the top and I guess it's just one of those situations wherein I simply agree to disagree with those that hold that opinion. Do I think that all Catholic missionary work was totally on the up-and-up with no coercion? Of course not. But someone of Kateri's conviction was NOT acting due to manipulation; her faith was deeply held. And this is about her, not about inappropriate missionary activities.

Well, after that, someone that I don't know chimed in with an unpleasant tone and with scathing remarks. That she's no longer a Catholic because of how awful the Church is and how can anyone POSSIBLY think this canonization is a good thing given the circumstances, and the Church is STILL awful, and on and on. I think her bottom line can be summed up as the Catholic Church = No Redeeming Characteristics argument that we often see toted out on any number of issues.

It just brought me down a little bit. I hate to see the Church so maligned like that. But any religious faith with tenets that are challenging for most people is going to take a hit in the court of popular opinion, no way around it. And someone speaking with obvious hatred about the Church is not getting so worked up about a single issue; there is almost certainly many reasons that they are holding the Church is such ill regard. And Facebook is not the venue to get into any of that. It's hard to see such things out there without responding, but no response is going to have a positive effect, so one has to let it go. Which I did. But I felt porky about it.

Has anybody else seen this type of reaction to St. Kateri's canonization?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Brief Friday update

Well, the ghosts are still misbehaving, but they're being allowed to live. I pulled back a bit and re-started the patterning section on larger needles. Now, the ghosts are appearing just fine and they even seem to be smiling, trying to appease me, BUT, the socks are coming out too big for my foot. :(

However, the solution is simple. It DOES involve me ripping back again, but these things knit up so quick I'm not too broken up by it. I have a needle size that is in between the two I just tried and that *should* make my gauge just right. I've never worked with yarn like this before, and I'm realizing that it's quite tricky to keep your tension such that the patterning works out the way it should PLUS the sizing stays such that the sock will fit you. I have developed an obsessive love for the ghosts, so I'm persevering. No photo for today, but if they cooperate this weekend I'll photograph them then.

In my Year of Faith quest, I've downloaded a few books to read to my Kindle and I'll post about that next week. I'm still brainstorming on other ideas, but in the mean time I'm just keeping up with my prayer life, I figure the answers will come.

I have dance tonight, which I'm looking forward to. We're preparing for a hafla November 10th, and have lots of choreography work to do. I've been listening to lots of music, trying to decide on a solo piece. The beauty of improvisation is that I feel no rush to pick anything. I would like it selected at least a week ahead of time so that I can listen to it and become familiar with it, but other than that, there's no specific preparation required. I can't believe I waited so long to move to improv, it's so wonderful and freeing.

A good weekend ahead. I'm hoping to have a knitting update by Monday. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are these ghosts out to get me?

Last night I cast on for my self-patterning ghostie socks (yarn available through KnitPurlGurl on etsy).


I've been SO excited for these socks, and I knit so often for others that I felt I deserved to just indulge and knit something that I really wanted to knit, and knit it for ME, ALL FOR ME.

*Henry happens by the ghostie kit on my side table*

"Oh! Ghosts will be on these socks? Mommy, are you making these for m..."

"NO! They're um, just for Mommy, Sweetie. I'll make you other socks."


"Sorry! No ghosts for you."

After Henry was safely tucked away from my yarn in bed, I got out my swift and ball winder and wound the patterning hank of yarn.

I was quite pleased with myself.

Then I got out the pattern.

You need to start the patterning section with a green stripe and I quickly discovered that the first stripe I came to in my ball was orange.


It was wound backwards. And I really wanted to pull from the center of the ball, rather than the outside. This meant rewinding the yarn, by hand, back onto the swift in the reverse order, and then winding a fresh ball on the winder.

20 minutes later my back was killing me, but I had my yarn perfectly balled. I happily cast on with the bright orange yarn for the ribbed section of the cuff.

Today at knitting lunch, I picked my cuff back up with much excitement. The colors are just vibrant and beautiful in this yarn. I finished off the orange part and triumphantly cut the yarn to attach the patterning section. I begin to knit.

Once again, I pick that moment to remember to look at the pattern. Prior to the ghosts are 3 stripes of color: green, black and orange. The pattern says that you should get about 2 rows of each color and that means that your gauge is on.

Don't you just love that word: "About."

I knit my green stripe. I begin black prior to getting 2 full rows in, but it's only *about* 2 rows, so we're all good.

I look at the pattern again. Uh oh. "...about 2 rows, give or take a stitch or two."

Crap. I should have read that sooner. I have a lot fewer than 2 stitches where the color turned over to black too soon. Never one to learn a lesson in a real quick-like fashion, I knit on.

I knit the black stripe. Somehow, that one is far too long before I get to the orange. Aaaannnddd once again, the orange is too long before I get to the ghosts. I pray that somehow the ghosts will still match up and knit on. Hope springs eternal, you know.

Right. They don't.

There are eyes everywhere and white body pieces where there shouldn't be any. I'm pretty sure that even ghosts aren't supposed to be quite this disembodied.

Sigh. I pulled back to the orange cuff and have the stitches safely ensconced on stitch holders. I need to change needle sizes. I hoping that on my next attempt the ghosts cooperate, otherwise their lives are about to get a lot more difficult. I do NOT like to rip back my work, and one of them may be sacrificed if things go awry again.

I'm certain their little white bodies are trembling.

If things go well tonight, perhaps I will post a picture of them in progress tomorrow. *narrows eyes in the direction of yarn bag*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The bellydancing librarian blearily slogs on...

The past 24 hours have been interesting. Let me just start off by saying that Cam and baby are doing well; she has the flu, which brought about a false labor alarm. He could still use to bake another week or two, so this is good news (except for poor flu-stricken Cam).

So, yesterday after I posted, I headed out of work early. I had some comp. time coming, and I had a bunch of errands to do. Off I rushed.

First stop, the public library to drop off some book donations. That went surprisingly without a hitch.

Second stop was JoAnn's. I simply needed 2 buttons. 25 or so minutes later, I emerge from JoAnn's, scowling porkily. Our JoAnn's is being remodeled, and in the mean time, I can't find a damn thing. I then spent far too long picking out buttons for Anne's new cardigan, and then waited in line for 10 full minutes to pay $1.25 for my buttons. Of 2 cashiers, one was being commandeered by a customer with a mystery problem and the other didn't move particularly quickly.

Third stop was a local grocery store for a small roaster chicken for dinner. Obviously, cooking was just not happening last night.

Fourth stop was very needed by the point I reached it: the liquor store. When I brought my 2 bottles of Chardonnay up to the register the woman working there asked to see my i.d.

*angels sing*

I thanked her profusely for asking and whipped it out excitedly. Yes, I am finally one of Those People that gets all happy when asked for photo identification. Because just maybe I actually look like I'm not yet 21 years old. *snorts*

I got home and unloaded the car. I tidied up the house and then called my mother-in-law to bring the kids home.

Much exhausting parenting work commenced. Mike got back from teaching, we ate. I got dressed for a private dance lesson I had scheduled with Claire to get started learning to play the zills (finger cymbals). Mike folded some laundry while I wrangled the children, and during this time Anne threw 2 temper tantrums. This is becoming A Thing with her all of a sudden, and I'm not enjoying it. Although I have to say, maybe it's because she's our second kid, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it did when we went through Terrible Two stuff with Hank. I used to get all stressed out and anxious when he threw temper tantrums. When Anne throws herself on the ground, screams, and flails, I just go about my business. Which makes her even madder, but oh well.

Around Anne's bedtime I kissed everyone goodbye and headed to the dance studio. I've been belly dancing for almost 5 years but I've never learned to play the zills. My instructor doesn't like to play them and doesn't teach them. I've always wanted to learn them, so she offered to teach me the basics so that I could see if I liked it.

I arrived feeling quite excited and ready to make tinkly music. I got the basic zill pattern down quickly. But...that excitement was tempered pretty quickly when I realized how difficult it is to play the zills *while dancing* at the same time.

Soooo...I'm not sure how I feel about them. Certainly, it's something that I will need to practice quite a lot if I want to become proficient at it (I'm sure Mike will just love this little foray in my dancing career). I have a few relevant DVD's and drum rhythm CD's on my Christmas wish list to continue my training. We'll see. I just like to dance and don't want anything to make my movements feel encumbered, and the zills are certainly doing that, at least so far.

I used to think that I HAD to learn the zills to really feel like a belly dancer, but I no longer feel that way. I know many dancers whom I admire and respect that choose not to play the zills. I also see dancers who do know how to play them who also dance beautifully without them. I do want to continue to work on it, but I don't feel any pressure to do so. Maybe it'll come together, maybe it won't, but I'm glad that I'm trying it.

After that, I went home to knit and crash. Was pooped.

This morning, ugh. Anne had me up at 1 am, and I had to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at work at 8 am for two back-to-back English Composition classes. I dragged myself to the classroom at 7:45 am, worried that I ALREADY felt exhausted.

Our instruction room gets hot really easily, so I didn't turn on the projector right away, since nobody was there yet. Everybody straggled in a little late, and I was feeling loopily "ON." Sometimes when I teach I can tell that everything is going along really great, and other times it falls flat. Just like dance performances, really. This morning all of the planets were in alignment. I had their attention, I was engaging, I was telling funny stories and they were laughing. I go to turn on the projector.

It doesn't work.


It's barely after 8 am and I'm already having to improvise even more than I usually do. Luckily, the class was very small, so I went to Plan B. I made them all navigate to the things I was going to show them and I wandered around among them while I talked, making sure that they were staying on track.

In the midst of all of this, I had a library school student there to observe me and the instructor is a new adjunct that I've never worked with before.  When it rains, it pours.

It actually went really great (thank you God.). Between that class and the next one I found an ominously out in the open plug that explained why the projector wasn't working. No, it wasn't the power plug, I'm not quite that ditzy. Although I wouldn't put it past me. It just wasn't properly hooked up to the instructor workstation, and since I didn't try to turn it on until after class had already started, I didn't exactly have lots of troubleshooting time to work with. But I did get it fixed prior to the next class.

The next class shockingly went just as well. I came up with different funny stories and they laughed at those too. I was on a roll, people. This doesn't happen all that often, so let's celebrate it. The instructor was very pleased with how the classes had gone and complimented me very nicely ("You handled that technical glitch so beautifully, I was so impressed!" It was all I could do not to exclaim: "Dude, I'm just as shocked as you are!").

*ties on Super Librarian cape*

I head back to my office to scarf down some food and prepare for a reference shift. It was only 10 am. We won't pause to reflect on how ridiculous it is that I ate lunch during this time.

11 am finds me at the reference desk where I am bombarded by needy students. I was still on a high from my classes and was quite enthusiastic in my assistance of them. I mean, I'm always nice to them, I'm just not always ENTHUSIASTIC about doing so. This included several technical forays into mysterious printing problems that I'm totally unqualified to deal with (but I did identify the problem and provide a solution for them) and an engineering student whose question I couldn't even come close to deciphering. But the Super Librarian spirit pervaded and brought her to a relevant database! I even located some print sources for a law review student and he gave me chocolate as a thank you. It was like a reference shift straight out of The Twilight Zone.

But here I am, ready to go home and feeling as though I could fall asleep right on my office floor. It's this working-in-a-coal-mine librarian workload, I tell you. Oh, and all the belly dancing. And getting up with a saucy toddler at 1 am. You know what I mean.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prayers for Cam!

Please pray for my friend Cam who is going into labor with her son. She's hoping for a VBAC and of course we just want everything to go safe and well for mom and babe.

St. Gerard, please intercede for Cam!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Henry's picture day

"Morning Honey, it's time to get up"

*no response*

"Come on Sweetie, go use the bathroom."

*eyelids slit open*

5 minutes later...

"Hank? Are you up?"

*soft rustling sounds*

5 minutes later...

*toilet flushes*

5 minutes later...

"Hank? Wha'cha doing in here Honey?"

*spies Henry lying prone on bed, still clad only in boxer shorts*

"I don't like having my picture tooken, Mommy."

"You mean 'taken.' It'll be fine, Honey. Just please smile. Last year you looked like you were in pain."

"I really don't like picture day, Mommy."

"Well, you'll live. Just remember, if you don't smile, I'm making you go for the Retake Day, so keep your motivation high."

My compassion is overwhelming, is it not?

The Year of Faith begins!

It actually started last week, but I'm just getting my booty in gear this week. I had Children's Liturgy of the Word yesterday, and once again, it went well. I had some squirmy customers, to be sure, but on the whole it went very well. Henry wanted to light a candle afterwards, and we went for the big guns and lit one of the 7 day votives. I was feeling very Catholic and motivated following Mass yesterday.

Thus, this morning I was doing some online book browsing. Deltaflute's post this morning got me to thinking: what do I want to do for this special year? I've tried "read the Bible in 1 year" plans in the past and have always fallen off the wagon. I have some great books on Pope John Paul II I could pull out and try to get read this year. Ooh, good idea.

I also came across this title: United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. It's even available for Kindle. Has anybody read this? I've wanted to read the Catechism for some time, but it's not exactly a volume that one can easily read cover to cover. This looks like a nice spin on things. I'm quite curious about it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time... coming right up, and I am on Children's Liturgy of the Word duty, my second session of this new academic year. I'm going to be preparing my lesson tomorrow, but I looked at my liturgy preparation sheets provided by the religious education office and I see that we're going to be talking about Jesus interacting with his disciples and answering their questions about how to best follow Him.

The provided sheets always begin with a section called "Liturgical Season Background" that I enjoy reading, and I almost always use the information in here when I'm talking to the kids. For this session that section relays that the final weeks of Ordinary Time (Advent draws closer!) form a pattern until the feast of Christ the King of "adventures with Jesus." The way that Mark writes about this time is to focus on what it means to be a person of faith and follower of Jesus. I always talk to the children about our current place in the liturgical calendar: what is happening now and what is coming around the corner. This always seems to capture their attention. I also put out a cloth on our little table that is the color of the current liturgical season to illustrate things.

I'm actually looking forward to my installment this coming Sunday rather than dreading it like last time (although that session went beautifully) so I'm hoping for another good one. Sometimes I'm so convinced that God wants me to move in a different direction but things happen that cause me to not in fact veer my path. And then it seems that things work out in the original circumstance so much better than I could have imagined. I don't know if that's what is going on here in Children's Liturgy of the Word, but I'm keeping my eyes open. One never knows.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DOES THIS EVER END?! In other words, teething...

I found out long ago, when Henry was a baby, that teething is absolutely endless. It seems to start when the baby is approximately one month old and lasts until they start school. Doesn't it seem that way to you too?

I wish they were just born with teeth. I really mean that. Sort of like that freaky half vampire baby in the Twilight series. Many think this poses a challenge to nursing, but I poo-poo them. Nurse a baby with teeth I will do (and have done), but the endless night wakings due to teething pain is just debilitating.

As you might imagine, we're still very much navigating this with Anne. Rest assured (just in case you were worried, snort) that ever since she turned a year old, we've had many, many good nights. It's just that we still have bad ones mixed in there, and lately, more of them.

Last night I could tell Anne wasn't herself. When I put her down, she wouldn't fall asleep right away, and I knew this was a bad sign. Sure enough at 2 am I got The Call. I went in to rock her, and she needed lots and lots of snuggling. My mom has taught her some baby sign language, and she signed to me that she wanted some milk and cookies.

At 2 am? I don't think so, sister.

I rocked and cuddled her for a long time and miraculously, she didn't say a peep when I put her back in her crib, and she went back to sleep. She even slept in a hair later than usual this morning.

But when she did wake up, watch out! She's extra tired because she's not getting enough sleep, rendering her behavior downright cheeky. I caught her very nonchalantly TRAVERSING THE DINING ROOM TABLE. And when you pull her down she kicks and throws herself on the ground in a very dramatic fashion.

Also, I don't know what it is about fleece, but that stuff absorbs odor like nothing I've ever smelled before. When she's teething her sleepers just STINK, all the time. This morning, she was giving off an Eau de Pee Pee, but also that moldy drool scent. YUCKY. Her bath was just over 12 hours ago, and yet she needed another one.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Loading up my Advent shopping cart

Ohhhh, Advent is getting closer, and I'm getting so excited. I'm on all kinds of online Catholic store email lists so the other day I headed over to Aquinas & More Catholic Goods to start a shopping cart. I do this all the time even when I don't intend to order that day - I call it "shopping with no money" and it's so, so pleasurable. :) I do it with yarn a lot.

So far I have several Advent calendars in my cart, a chocolate one (a must-have every year for Henry) plus a more traditional one with little windows of pictures to open, a Christmas board book for Anne as well as the new Sunday missal for myself, and the Magnificat Advent Companion. Anne has just started to actually flip through books, rather than just eat and destroy them. The one Advent calendar I'm looking at for Henry comes with a little prayer booklet as I was hoping to get him some kind of devotional for Advent targeted to kids. Does anybody have any suggestions for something like that? I want something for him that he can read each night before he goes to bed.

I'm waiting to hear back from a friend of mine (my new Godchild from last Easter vigil :)) on something that I want to get for her and then I'll send the order in. Aquinas & More actually sent me an email concerned that I had put things in my cart but hadn't checked out; they were worried that I was having a problem. This made me gulp; they can see me shopping with no money? :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dance on the brain...

I'm still coming down off my belly dance high from the weekend, and made a happy discovery today. I like reality tv, which I may have mentioned in the past. I know that's it's not totally "reality" and all of that, but I can't help it, I like to watch it.

I was looking at the Michelle Joyce series of videos called "Secrets of the Stage." It's a 3 part series on belly dance performance skills. The interesting thing is that these DVD's aren't at all about technique, which makes them different from just about every other belly dance DVD I've ever seen. They're about presenting yourself as a good performer, and volume two specifically addresses restaurant dancing.

Anyway, I'm interested in volumes 1 and 2 (volume 3 covers dancing to live music, and though I'd love to do that, I can't foresee any opportunities for that, so I can forego that one for now) and was looking for the best price on them, of course. :) They're pretty in -demand. So, on the production company web site I saw a link for a belly dance reality competition called Project Belly Dance. I don't think it ever aired on television, it's available online. It sounds like season 2 is ongoing.

But the episodes are available for FREE! I hustled over and watched episode 1 of season 1 while I ate lunch. BELLY DANCE NIRVANA! I loved it. The winner gets a contract to make her own instructional video with the production company plus other "make you famous" type things.

If you like to watch dancing you'd really enjoy this. There are lots of different styles represented (both American Tribal Style and cabaret) and use of props. Very, very interesting. Check it out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My big night

Morning. :) Sooo, I'm sure you're all wondering how my first professional set went on Saturday night. Overall, it went very well. But like all things in life, it had its pros and cons. A learning experience to be sure. I think that the most eye opening thing that I learned is that dancing in a restaurant is SO, SO different from dancing in a hafla or any other dance performance show. For the most part, people don't go to the restaurant to see you dance. They go to the restaurant to eat and drink and they happen upon you.

"Oh wow, there's a...belly dancer here."

 Some may see the ads and come to see the dancing, but that's not the norm, nor is it their only plan. They also want to eat and drink. What does this all mean? Well, read the account below and live the night along with me...

At 6:10 pm, I pulled up to the restaurant, nervous as could be. Amy pulled in beside me, and I was glad to have company right off the bat. My whole family was out of town this weekend (Mike had a planned trip to see a football game with his dad and uncle, and my parents are visiting with my sister and new nephews) and I was sad that I wouldn't have them there with me. But I thought maybe I would be less nervous the first time I danced professionally if I didn't have anybody there that I knew, so I tried to look at the bright side. Amy and I headed in, both rolling little suitcases behind us. When we approached, the greeter lady took one look at our suitcases, me also toting a garment bag and sheathed sword, and said:

"Table for two?"

Which I thought was pretty funny. Do people usually bring swords to dinner there?

We headed back to our Official Glamorous Belly Dancer Meet Up Spot: the large stall in the ladies room. Claire and Amy were set to dance first, followed by a short break, then me, with Claire taking the final set of the night. I helped Claire and Amy get ready and positioned myself to get photos of them.

There were people there, but the restaurant wasn't really that full as Claire started to dance, and I was hoping it will fill in more as the evening wore on. The way the restaurant is set up is that there are 2 separate rooms. The bar where you first come in, and the dining area. Each has a large open spot in the front to dance in. Claire started in the dining area and then swooped in with her wings of isis to the bar where I was stationed. I realized that taking photos of a dancer in motion is no easy feat.

As she finished up, Amy and I hustled to the bathroom with her for a pow wow.

"Ok ladies, this is a bit of a tough crowd, especially in the dining room. Lots of couples on dates and the women don't seem too happy about the belly dancing. In this situation, pretend the men aren't there and just dance for the women."

Oh gulp. A tough crowd? As if my stomach wasn't already hurting with anxiety. Claire also mentioned that the crowd dynamic was "a bit of a dud." She assured us that this is just part of professional dancing and not to take it personally. But that a lot of the people there weren't too interested in watching dancing. Oh sigh.

Then it was Amy's turn. She looked lovely, and had her family there, which was cheering her on. Her set went really well, especially in the bar where her family was, who applauded her enthusiastically. She also acquired a happily rowdy table of little old ladies in the dining room. Everything went great, and I was terribly happy for her.

But then I had to get ready, and the pressure was on. During our short break, the little old lady table left, and there seemed to be even less people there than before, which was disappointing. This is me, nervous in the ladies room right before heading out:

It was time, so I put on Confident Tiffany. This was a really big moment for me, and I wanted to try and enjoy it to its fullest. Claire started my music and I strutted out into the bar, veil blazing:

There was a crowd of little girls on the waiting bench and they seemed excited, so that spurred me on. But as I twirled around for my opening crescendo of music and accompanying hip drops I realized:

Barely anybody else was watching me. Amy was watching, as was her family and Claire, and they were all smiling. But everybody else at the bar? Drinking. Watching the overhead television set. I swirled my little heart out to not much fanfare. I headed into the dining room.

Eh. A few people watched me, but there was lots of disinterest here as well. I moved to the center of the room for my veil envelope, and I will say that my veil behaved itself. No mishaps. But I was feeling a little crushed. Claire had warned us about this, but I couldn't help it, I was taking it personally.

I headed back into the bar for my sword number. The instant I picked up the sword the crowd suddenly came the life. The little girls knew I was dancing with a sword and were all excited on the bench and at the bar, men suddenly took notice. And wouldn't you know it? The f-ing thing did not want to stay on my head. Practice with the sword? Flawless. Performing with the sword? Complete panic filled 10 seconds of trying to get it balanced.

And naturally, this is when everybody wanted to watch me. The good news is that I did ultimately get it balanced and everybody seemed to love it. I told myself what Claire always reiterates to me, which is that it's actually GOOD for it not to look too easy to get your prop balanced. If it takes you a few extra seconds it reinforces that it is in fact difficult to do this and makes the audience more engaged. I repeated that to myself as I balanced away. I was planning to spin with my sword balanced, but I tossed that idea right out the window. I wasn't pressing my luck. It was on my head and I undulated away. I did turn with it, just not quickly. I also managed my hip drops and some torso work while balancing on one leg which seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

Halfway through the song, I had to take it off my head to move back into the dining room, and as I left, I did get a genuine round of applause. But could I enjoy it? No, because I was too busy beating myself up for the rough balancing beginning. It's not easy being Type A, I tell you. In the dining room, I got it balanced quickly with no trouble at all. But did anybody in there care? Not so much. A handful did. I quickly identified a couple in the back of Indian descent who seemed very enthusiastic and interested. I bookmarked them for a future visit.

After my sword song, I had a fun pop song lined up, and by now I was feeling the sweat. I danced into the bar.

A few people watched me, and I danced over by Claire and company who cheered me on. The little girls had cleared out and I missed them. I headed back into the dining room and made a beeline for the Indian couple. They were very into it and I danced there for a spell. I forced myself to move on and there were only a few other tables with people at them. One or two people didn't seem to know what to think about a belly dancer, but they did watch me and smile awkwardly. The others didn't look up from their hummus.

I just had my drum solo to go, and my finale. I moved to the bar. That too had now cleared out a good deal. But I love drum solos, and damn it, it was GOOD. I accented my little heart out, incorporating in Khallegy style hair flips which Amy's family seemed to appreciate. I could see Claire beaming with pride, but I couldn't help it. I felt deflated. The only way to get the others at the bar to notice me again would have been to take my top off like so many people seem to think belly dancers do anyway. Oh sigh.

I got applause as my drum ended, but not from any of the non-belly dancing crowd that I could see.  I swirled into the dining room for a final sweep and then step-balled-changed into the hallway and then the ladies room to wipe the sweat off my face.

I felt like a balloon with a slow leak. Claire came over to tell me that I did a great job, but I couldn't help it, I felt disappointed. I think my expectations were just too high. I wanted to get drunk on the crowd energy and feel all floaty and fantastic, and that just didn't happen. There was NO crowd dynamic whatsoever. They were just...there, for the most part.

Claire danced her final set and by this point the place was dead. She looked drop dead fabulous and danced like she had the attention of the entire Cairo Hilton ballroom. She's a true professional. As I watched her, I sat by myself and felt even sadder that I didn't have Mike there to comfort me.

I had a hard time sleeping that night, but the next morning after Mass and a large cup of coffee, I began to feel better. Claire wrote Amy and I a beautiful missive about how well we did, and said that despite the utter lack of audience energy we looked like we were having a great time, which made me feel a lot better. She said that the owner of the restaurant remarked to her that she couldn't believe it was the first time either of us had danced professionally, that we looked so comfortable and at ease with it. They were both very pleased with our dancing and felt that we should feel great about it.

After some reflection, I realized that she was right. The night wasn't the stuff of fantasies, but I danced my heart out, and I know that I did a great job. I can't say that I'm looking forward to doing it again, but chances are the next time it will be better because I will know what to expect. Plus, I'm going to drag my family there and their support will help quite a bit. And one of these times, I'll have a great audience and it will be one of the best dancing nights of my life, I just know it. I think that professional dancing is a lot like teaching and even Children's Liturgy of the Word. Some occasions will be fantastic and meaningful, others will be so horrible you go home and cry, and others will fall somewhere in-between. Part of becoming really good at what you do is accepting all of those occasions as part of it and learning from them all.

So here I am Monday morning, still feeling a hair vulnerable, but also feeling like a belly dance success story. I am shy. I am a wife and mother. I am a devoted Catholic. I am significantly older than 18. But I'm also a belly dancer, and I love it and it brings me joy. And what would the belly dancing life be without some good stories?

I got some loud, drunk guys at a bar to watch me balance a sword on my head while I belly danced. Could it get any better than this? Good Lord, yes. But the best is yet to come.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What's that in my throat?

Oh yeah, it's my heart. I'm nervous. I also have that "I'm so excited I may pee my pants" feeling, which I'm sure you're so glad that I described that way.

I feel good. I really do. This is quite a feat for the girl voted "Shyest" in her senior class. I never liked high school anyway. Who are they to call me shy?!

I mean, I am shy, but they don't have to say it.

I've got to pack my little rolling suitcase tonight with my stuff:

(1) Costume, both parts.

(2) Lots of pins.

(3) Dance shoes.

(4) Veil.

(5) Sword.

(6) Makeup.

(7) Towel to wipe sweat off. (glamour, all glamour...)

(8) Costume jewelry.

(9) iPod.

(10) Cover up.

Sounds like I'm going on the most interesting vacation EVER. Wouldn't the TSA like to have to search this bag?

Anyway, I'll report in on Monday and I'm sure it'll be another epicly long post. Hopefully it will not involve anyone going to the hospital or me running from the dining area sobbing. You'll read it here first.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why does my veil hate me so much?

I've never done anything to hurt or offend it. That I know of. Yet it vexes me at every turn and goes out of its way to make me miserable and try to trip me.


In return, I'm going to get rid of it as soon as my opening song changes melody, so THERE.

I've been practicing a lot and trying to have a very mature and serene attitude about everything, but it's tough I tell you. I just resisted a Knit Picks Halloween sale (comfort shopping) for which I deserve tremendous accolades given my composure under tremendous anxiety. The sale is on orange and black yarn, I mean seriously. I LOVE ORANGE. How will I continue to resist for another week?!

Saturday night is getting closer and I'm getting punchier.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A mid-week contemplation

Well, this has been an exciting week. Lots of happy dancing and babies being born, my mind has been up in the clouds the past few days. Yesterday, I had 2 students drop into my office. I was nice to them, of course, but rushing them because I needed to get ready to go to a meeting shortly. I had given them the crux of the information that they needed, but I was right in the middle of elaborating on a point when my phone rang. Naturally, I was prepared to let my phone ring and have it go to voicemail since I had people right in front of me that needed my help, but when I glanced at the caller id I saw the Maine exchange. I cut myself off in the middle of a word.

"Oh! I'm sorry! My sister had twins today. I HAVE TO TAKE THIS."

Obviously, this is not something I do everyday, but this was clearly an exception. It's not easy to make time for phone conversations when you've just had a c-section and are trying to nurse and take care of twins. No way was I missing her call.

They both widened their eyes and backed out of my office quickly, shutting the door behind them. I felt bad. But only for a second. :)

In dancing land, I've been listening to my music a lot but trying not to "overpractice." Is there such a thing as overpracticing, you may ask? Yes, there is, and I'm a master at it. Performing is mostly mental (for me at least) rather than physical. I can easily "psych myself out" and convince myself that I'm going to do something horribly wrong, I'm going to mangle my veil envelope, I'm going to drop my sword into somebody's falafel and crush one of their appendages, I'm going to have a horrifying costume malfunction after which I can never show my face in public again, and on and on. I've just been trying to put myself in a confident mental place, in which I feel all "Girl Power" and "You Can Do This, Sister!"

I have also been employing good old fashioned prayer. Prayer that I am able to feel calm and do my best. There's no time to start a novena to the patron saint of belly dance, whoever that lucky soul may be, but on Monday I was reading my Living Faith meditation for the feast of St. Therese. And the entry included an excerpt from St. Therese herself, in which she addresses prayer. She said that it was difficult for her to read prayers written by others sometimes because there are SO many beautiful ones out there that it gets overwhelming, and she felt like she couldn't "compete" (if you will) with those sentiments. She often liked to simply ask God to help her, or to say an Our Father or Hail Mary, and found that in these common prayers was a great deal of strength and solace.

That struck a chord with me because it brought a memory to the surface of my brain (no easy feat the older I get, I tell you). When I was in law school, I joined up with the Christian Legal Society. They were a really nice, warm group of people and got together every week or so to pray and study the Bible. This was right after my "reversion" back to my Catholic faith, and although I was attending daily Mass it didn't occur to me to seek out a Catholic Bible study, that there would be differences there. At any rate, nothing really objectionable came up, that I can recall at least. But at one get together we were talking about prayer. And one student there mentioned that he was raised Catholic. That's an interesting way to identify oneself, no? I've heard it many times now. "Raised Catholic." It usually means (in my experience) that the person (1) subsequently left their Catholic faith and now identifies with another faith, or is (2) technically still Catholic (never renounced their faith or officially joined up with another church) but does not actively practice their faith.

In this instance, I believe the student fell between the two categories. His relationship with God obviously meant a great deal to him, and by all accounts he was a Catholic, but he was sort of looking around for another church that he felt was a better "fit" for him. Anyway, he made the "raised Catholic" statement, and then said that prayer was one of the reasons he was uncertain about Catholicism. He said that he was taught that when one prays, you "just say a rote Our Father or Hail Mary" and he felt that this was wrong. That prayer is a more spontaneous conversation with God.

I wish I had thought to say this at the time, but prayer is of course both of those things. And you shouldn't neglect one in favor of the other. I often find that when I ask Henry to say a prayer he will recite a Haily Mary or Our Father, which is fine, but I make it a point to tell him that he can just "talk to God" for a minute instead. It is in fact very child-like to rely on the prayers that the Bible gives us, that we memorize at an early age. But is that "rote" or "not really praying, since it's not your own words?" Of course not. Simply because something is memorized does not automatically make it "rote" and by implication not meaningful. The Our Father and Hail Mary are quite meaningful when we contemplate each word as we recite them. And letting God take the lead by using the prayers from the scriptures is exemplifying the type of child-like faith Jesus was referring to, at least in my opinion.

I'm certain that on Saturday I'm going to be relying quite a bit on the old faithful Our Father and Hail Mary. I'm grateful to have these prayers and to have St. Therese as an inspiration.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 new souls to add to my arsenal of nephews!


My sister delivered twin boys this morning, weighing in at 6 lbs 3 oz. and 6 lbs and 8 oz.

They're incredibly precious!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The promised all exciting dance post

First of all, HAPPY FEAST OF ST. THERESE! This is one of my favorite feasts of the whole year. I just love St. Therese, and she's the namesake of my baby girl. :)

Anyway, I can't tell you how much I enjoy this blog, and how much it means to me that people actually read what I write. I enjoy writing, and this blog really serves as a journal for me, it's a real blessing. And I will grant that I post on an odd variety of topics. Catholic stuff, parenting (those aren't so odd) but then you toss in knitting, head covering and belly dance and you have what I like to call an eclectic mix. Anyway, I just felt like mentioning that I appreciate you, my friendly readers.

Because today's post is about belly dance, and I'm sure that some of you really don't care about belly dancing. But you care about me, and that means the world to me. It's important to me, so you listen to me blather on about it. Thank you. :) And let the blathering begin...

Ok. Settle in, this is going to be a long one. This is all so exciting, have I mentioned that yet? And I've been bursting at the seams to talk about it, but held back because nothing was official until very recently. And would you JUST get on with it Tiffany?! Yes, sorry.

So, about a month ago my wonderful dance instructor Claire got in touch with me and another of my classmates. She had very recently been hired for what promised to be a regular monthly gig dancing at a new (and very nice) Mediterranean restaurant in town. The restaurant wanted 2 dancers, each dancing 2 sets (30 minutes total) over a 2 hour time period. She has another professional dancer that she split the first 2 gigs with. She asked my classmate Amy and I if we would be interested in becoming part of the rotation to split the sets with her, she thought we were ready. So, each month she would dance 2 sets and one of us would dance the other 2. We would get paid the going professional rate for our time, and she proposed that the first time we did this, Amy and I split the gig so that we could ease into things. So, she would dance 2 sets, Amy would dance 1 set, and I would dance 1 set.  Were we interested?

In a word, YES. And the funny thing is, when I started belly dancing, I didn't even think I would ever perform in a GROUP at a HAFLA. I just think it's ironic that I spent my 20's slaving away in law school and agonizing over why no boys liked me and here I am in my mid-30's (humor me here), married with 2 kids, and belly dancing in restaurants. *snort* Let me tell you, the 30's situation is much preferable over the 20's, I don't care how how many more lines I have in my skin. Anyway, I digress.

I'm certainly not in this to make money. If you're dancing a professional gig you certainly should be paid (you are working your glittery buns off to earn that money, plus you don't want to undercut the other dancers in the area), and it's nice to have a little something to offset the cost of costumes and lessons. And it's not all about the fun, because believe me, the level of anxiety I feel about this is undermining the fun part right about now. The restaurant is hiring you to entertain their customers, and it's all very business-like. It's not about you, it's about what the restaurant wants.  But what this is to me is just...meaningful on some deep level. I love to dance, always have. Dance is an art form, and it's one way that I can express myself creatively. As an introvert, having this outlet is just priceless. Dancing is doing something that I love, sharing it with other people, and feeling good about myself when I do it. It's not easy for a really shy and often insecure person to feel good about themselves. Dancing bridges that divide for me.

So anyway, back to my story. Amy and I were both interested, so Claire suggested we put together a 15 minute playlist for a set (must include both kicky and slow music) and come in to the studio for a weekend practice session. She didn't have a date yet for the next month, but was cautiously optimistic that a booking for October would come in shortly, and she wanted us to be ready. I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

That week I poured over my iTunes music library. I downloaded some new music (because the, I don't know, *thousand* or so Middle Eastern songs that I already had just weren't enough) and generally obsessed over things. I finally settled on a playlist. It included:

(1) Arabic pop
(2) Slow and swirly veil song
(3) Upbeat sword song
(4) Drum solo
(5) Exit music

I felt proud of myself and patted myself on the back for my efforts. I had researched common order for playlists, where to put the drum piece, etc., and felt happy with my selections.

The Sunday practice session rolled around. I happily arrived at the dance studio with my veil and sword in tow. I don't know what I thought we were going to do. Chat about things, practice some improvisation (because it goes without saying that restaurant dancing is all improvisation; you simply can't plan for a consistent, unimpeded environment enough to have any semblence of a choreography) go over our playlists, glean lots of wisdom from Claire, all of that.

So, we do chat. It was great. All very supportive. We glean lots of wisdom. Then Claire turns to us and says:

"So, who wants to go first?"

Say what?

Amy and I turn to stare at each other, wide-eyed.

"Oh, you mean you want us to put our playlists on and dance for the entire 15 minutes? One *gulp* at a time?"

"Oh yes! I promise, I'm not doing this to torture you. You just really don't want your first time dancing a full 15 minute set to be *at the restaurant*. You want to work out all the kinks now."

Yes, yes I'm sure we do. But I was still unprepared for dancing my entire set in front of Claire and Amy, whose opinions I greatly cherish. This sounded just the weensiest bit intimidating.

Ok, so I was nervous. That would be the worst part. Claire was stressing how exhausting dancing for 15 minutes was, but I've done 3-4 minute solos before, and group numbers that were even longer, so I was confident that I could keep my energy level up for just that much longer. No sweat (pun intended), right?

Herein follows a chronicling of my upbeat entrance (with my dance persona of "Confident, Knows What She's Doing Tiffany" firmly strapped on by necessity. She doesn't actually exist, but no matter) to my swirly veil exit:

(1) Arabic pop - Dry mouthed and nervous, I strut out and begin to dance, happy that I chose an extremely peppy song to start out. I'm feeling quite self-conscious, but upbeat. I know my arms suck, but I really put my hips into it. Halfway though, I start to feel like the song  may never end, but I press on.

(2) Slow and swirly veil song - Retrieve veil from tucked position into my skirt. I'm always a little intimidated about dancing with my veil and I rarely do it because I fear veil-induced disasters involving me becoming sprawled on the floor. But I know props are popular in restaurant work so I trot it out. Good Lord, it's HOT underneath my cutely created veil tent move. I realize that I'm sweating a bit and my veil starts to stick to my skin. I press on.

(3) Upbeat sword song - Veil song ends THANK GOD. I ditch it and grab my sword. I realize that I'm now sweating quite a bit. I balance away, and I'm much more confident with my sword. However, I realize that my energy level has waned significantly.

(4) Drum solo - HIT.A.WALL. Seriously, I'm half dead. I'm so tired I can hardly hit anything remotely resembling a drum accent and a sheen of sweat coats my entire face and upper body.

(5) Exit music - I pluck my veil off the floor and thank God that it's almost over. I swirl off the floor and wonder how I'll summon up the energy to put my coat on let along drive home.

Wow. I was completely unprepared for the mental and physical energy required to dance a solo 15 minute set. I often read about people complaining that hiring a belly dancer to dance 20-30 minutes costs $100-$150 on average. They feel that it's too expensive for such a short time period. Now you know why. And that doesn't even get into all the preparation that the dancer does before the show.

Anyway, I scrape myself off the floor and head back into the main part of the studio to talk to Claire and watch Amy dance. As ever, I loved watching Amy dance and learned so much from her. It was so valuable for us to dance in front of each other like that.

Exhausted, we finally went home with instructions for things to work on in preparation for another practice session the following Sunday. We did this for 3 more Sundays, including our most recent one yesterday. Each week, I could feel myself sweating just a little bit less (although granted, STILL A LOT OF SWEAT) and feeling LESS like I may die of anxiety. Yesterday was our best practice session to date.

So, it's finally official. I'm dancing this coming Saturday evening at the restaurant. My stomach hurts just thinking about it, and I'm biting my nails a lot, but there you have it. I'm excited, really excited. I'm just really, really nervous. My costume is ready. My new shoes look great. I have my playlist all set (dancing a full song with my sword and using my veil as part of the entrance) and I've been practicing my improvising as often as I can.

I hope I don't slip on my veil and sprawl in a very ungraceful fashion out on the tile floor. Because I do step on my veil. A LOT. My sword has yet to fall off my head and clatter to the floor, but yesterday in practice I could see the hilt out of the corner of my eye which is a bad sign, and it didn't feel right on my head for the entire song. *sighs* I'm as ready for this next step in my dancing career as I can be, but that's not exactly a resounding endorsement.

I hope this goes well. As you might expect, I will keep you posted on every detail.