Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

I've been a little bit chattier on here than I anticipated during my time off. It helps that we got a lot of snow (no motivation to actually drive anywhere or otherwise go outside other than to frolic in the snow) and that I've been able to snag the laptop several tims during Anne's nap. At any rate, we're bound for Mass this evening, and I'm all excited that I've managed to get my husband to Mass 3 times in the past 3 weeks.

*rubs hands together evilly*

I had Children's Liturgy of the Word yesterday and it was a very small, but sweet, crowd. My friend from last time wasn't there, and come to think of it, that was the first time I had ever seen her before. I wonder if she was just visiting. For whatever reason, Children's Liturgy has felt more natural to me this year, and it's ironic because I was seriously considering discontinuing my participation in the program given a few challenging weeks (read: ready to gouge own eyeballs out before we even got to the Creed) last year. I'm also looking to find an additonal role that I can play in our parish, but I feel like God hasn't yet revealed to me what that should be. I don't want anything that would keep me away from home too much on a regular basis, but I feel like I have more to give in terms of service. But I tend to rush into things full steam ahead once I get an idea into my head, and I know I just need to wait. Something will present itself when the time is right.

Those are my musings for New Year's Eve 2012. :) We're making a nice meal at home and watching a movie with Henry tonight. Champagne for Mike and I, a Shirley Temple for Hank. Talk to you all in a few days, in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jammied up, and happy

I go back to work on Wednesday, and I can't believe how quickly my time off has gone. We've been getting this winter storm that has been in the news, which is just fine with me, but it's meant that I've spent a LOT of time in my pajamas and new Christmas slippers entertaining the kids inside. Henry will go out to play in the snow, and has the proper garments to do so, but Anne doesn't. We need to get her some boots. But it's been very cozy and pleasant. Mike and I have been watching lots of new movies that we received for Christmas in the evenings, and we've had several fires. I've been knitting a lot, and reading.

The kids have been enjoying their new gifts, and with the 2 sets of grandparents, it was quite a task to get everything organized and put away. We always do a big sweep in November every year to donate things that the kids are no longer playing with and other things that we no longer need to our local St. Vincent DePaul Center. And thank goodness for that. We're grateful, to be sure, but the toy avalanche can get a little overwhelming. :)

So far, Anne seems to be enjoying her new toy mailbox, and her play food with accompanying microwave the most. Henry is putting together lots of new Legos. Both kids seem to really like their new books, as well as their new saint peg dolls! I had to take St. Therese's head out of Anne's mouth a few times, but otherwise they are unharmed. Even after Henry lined them up to knock down with one of his cars. They are now safely resting on his bedside table. :)

As for me, I'm contemplating what to get with my Knit Picks gift cards and happily planning deep winter projects. I have some things for my twin nephews in mind. I get very jealous when other people knit for them, and hearing that they had new booties spurred me to let my sister know to expect a package soon with new baby leg warmers and crocheted toys to be in her mailbox by the end of January.

Oh! And I received a brand new personal retreat/Marian consecration book from my older sister that I plan to start next month and that I will detail here. So fun!

Lots to look forward to in the new year. I will report in again mid-week! Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A lovely Christmas...

Well, it's December 26th. That used to seem like a sad day to me, but now I know that the Christmas season only just begins on December 25th and I see things a lot differently. It's much happier this way. :)

It was a very nice, much less chaotic Christmas this year (wine will do that for me). Everybody was well behaved at Christmas Eve Mass. Anne looked stunning in a purple velvet dress. Only on Christmas day, she took one look at the fuzzy trimmed red Mrs. Claus dress I was about to put on her and shouted "No No No!" There's only so many fancy dresses Anne can take.

The kids loved their gifts, and I received a new green iPod Nano from Mike, very needed for my dance performances. I also got some new books (including a book of knitted sock patterns for all 4 seasons, and amigurumi crochet animals) and clothes. I'm a very happy girl.

We're all persevering very well on our Christmas staycation, and it's currently snowing up a storm outside! I'm quite cozy tucked in here with Mike as the children (blissfully) sleep.

I hope that everyone had a nice holiday and is happily making new years plans. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Adventures in wrapping...

CL: "I really appreciate that you're helping me, Sweetie, but I have a *system* when I wrap."

Mike: "A system? Well, we want to get done before I have to go pick up Hank from school. I'll start with this one."

CL: "Ok, well, that's a Santa gift, so try to disguise your handwriting on the tag."

*A moment of silence while Mike digests this, and decides to humor me*

Mike: "Ok."

*sounds of wrapping*

Mike: "I'm done with this one. So I'm putting 'Santa' on the tag?"

CL: "Yes. Oh! You used that blue wrapping paper?"

Mike: "Yeah, why? It has Santas on it, I figured that was good for Santa gifts."

CL: "Well, but I've wrapped *other* gifts with that that weren't Santa gifts. He might notice."

Mike: "I really don't think he'll notice,Sweetie. Plus, the gig is up on Santa after this Christmas anyway, we agreed, so it doesn't matter."
CL: "I know, but..."

*CL desperately thinks of her usual, organized System, though realizes that it would take twice as long*

Mike: "All right, I"ll wrap this giant one next. Where's the extra long rolls of paper?"

CL: "Over there, but only use the polar bears, not the penguins. Wait! Remember, polar bears? That's the extra large Santa paper. Bears, only."

*Mike gives a long suffering sigh*

*CL huffily tries to tie ribbon around some crocheted dish cloths*

Mike: "What's wrong?"

CL: "This ribbon is *ridiculous*. In this entire roll, I could only fully wrap one set of dish cloths! Not to mention that this polar bear paper sucks. We're not getting Christmas supplies at Target again next year."

*CL porkily tries to tape the ribbon rather than tie it in order to conserve yardage*

CL: "Great, now I've got glitter all over my pants. Do we have time to vacuum before Hank gets home? Did I mention that I hate this chintzy ribbon?"

Nothing like getting into the Christmas spirit...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hoping for some snow, and about to embark on my Christmas staycation...

Today is my last day at work until January 2nd, I'll be on a "staycation" for almost 2 weeks, which will be really nice. I was remarking to Mike recently that we have never taken a family vacation. Which is fine, really. I mean, I'd rather have our current, flexible job situation than have more money and thus be able to afford vacations (where you actually go someplace, that is :)). Someday, maybe. But I'm also a person that HATES crowded places, hence my moratorium on ever going to Disney World ever again. EVER. And I mean it. I actually hate Disney World, I don't care how many cute cartoon characters they have there. We'd like to do some things like go to Vermont to see the fall foliage, or maybe go to Hershey Park (in the middle of the winter, ha!). Maybe someday.

We're a little nuts in that we really like cold weather. Mike and I talk about driving up to the Ice Hotel in Quebec for our anniversary (in January) one year. I think we're quite abnormal, actually.

And so, you won't see blog posts for about a week and a half, but I promise, I'm coming back. :) We're down to a single decrepit computer at home (hoping to get a new one soon) and although we have high speed Internet, the age of the computer makes things pretty slow going. Plus, we're all sharing it, so I just have little motivation to carve out the time to attempt to compose thoughtful posts when I don't have access to my speedy work machine. I'm battling Anne trying to climb on me and rip letters from the keyboard, Hank whining about when it'll his turn to play a game, and sharing time with Mike who uses the computer to actually work. It's a very competitive computer world in our house.

But happily, we are in for some snow, FINALLY! We haven't had significant snowfall in western New York since I was pregnant with Anne. Yes, seriously! This region is known for it's snowfall (although, for the metro area, that reputation is actually unfair; south of here is where the major accumulations occur, and as one would expect, that is the ski country) but the past winter and so far this year have been uncharacteristically mild. Read: muddy and overcast. I'd much rather have snow, especially in December. I'm hoping that we get snowed in. :) In such a case, I have plenty of yarn and books on my Kindle. I won't be bored for a moment, no sir.

I'm *almost* done with my Christmas shopping, although I still have the majority of my wrapping to do. I'm aiming to get that done tomorrow morning while Henry is in school. I'm very much looking forward to Christmas with the children this year. This will be Anne's second Christmas, but really the first one in which she'll be interactive and into it.

If there are short things that I can share while I'm off I will post then. But expect me back on January 2nd with new and amusing tales. Most of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS and happy new year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A calm season of holiday knitting

Isn't he precious? His name is Mitten, and I made him for our knitting group Christmas exchange gift. It was very had to part with him, but he went to a very good home with my friend Nancy. I still have yarn leftover, so I'd like to make another one for myself, I just don't know when I'll get to it.

And in other knitting news, my holiday knitting is...DONE!

I did very well this year. No big projects to tackle, just a few toys for the kids, and a very few accessories for requesting family members. Here is Henry's hippo that he asked for:

He turned out pretty well. I'm also working on finishing up various works-in-progress so that I have a fresh knitting slate for the new year. The pair of mittens that has been sitting on the file cabinet in my office since September. The 2 sweaters on the needles, although that raises an unfortunate point...

The Christmas tweed sweater is being quite belligerent. Here is the anatomy of a doomed project, as evolved from the original ball of yarn to the final incomplete, yet hated item:

(1) I cast on. I immediately loathe the unconventional ribbing that the pattern calls for, because it's taking me at least 3 times as long to do it, but I persevere. It *does* look pretty.

(2) I get through the ribbing and breathe a sigh of relief. I begin to happily knit stockinette stitch in the round.

(3) I soon discover that my gauge is way off. It's much smaller than the pattern calls for, and I'm already knitting the smallest size (a mistake!) I mean, I usually wear a small, but an extra small is being extremely optimistic; I just wanted the knitting to go faster (definitely a mistake!). But I don't want to start over, so I keep going. (!*#$!)

(4) I try the sweater body on and it *does* fit so I again feel relieved. I'm getting nervous about the sleeves, but I set those thoughts aside.

(5) I cast on for the first sleeve, and once again am confronted with that insidiously freakish ribbing for the cuff. I push on.

(6) The sleeve takes far too long because I keep not knitting it (because I hate it). It also seems far too narrow due to my small gauge. It does fit over my hand, but I'm worried that it won't be completely comfortable. I seethe.

(7) I force myself to finish the sleeve, vowing not to cast on for anything new until I finish up all these unfinished projects (and purposefully not thinking about sleeve #2). The pattern calls for me to graft the sleeve to the body of the sweater at the underarm. I graft. Except...

(8) Something must go amiss and now my efforts to rejoin my sweater in the round incorporating in the sleeve is horribly awry. I re-start again and again, and nothing seems to work. I must have grafted the sleeve in the wrong position somehow.


To pick back the grafted stitches appears to be the straw that will break this sweater's back. It was already not on my good side, and now it's sitting in a pile on my desk and I'm glaring at it. I've threatened to unravel it, and it seems unmoved. It has clearly taken the offensive and is still refusing to cooperate. I'm now looking at new sweater patterns in retaliation, but the thought of ripping it out and starting anew is making me huffy.

So there you have it. I think I'm just going to let it sit over my Christmas vacation and deal with it after the first of the year. These major decisions can't be made quickly. In the meantime, I'm finishing my mittens and working on Karen's gift, so I'll be plenty busy.

Oh! And in other crafting news, I have found my way to the Catholic board on Ravelry. How did I not know about this before?! I mean, they're having an Advent and Christmas knit-along and all autumn were working on knitting Advent calendars and garland. Seriously, how could I miss this?! THIS IS SO ME.

Well, I'm an official member now and plan to participate in all the fun Catholic Crafting Revelry. I'm super excited.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some soothing stuff, as we all struggle to move on

My heart is still very heavy today, and I don't see any let-up for that. I've been praying my 7 Sorrows Chaplet and just generally praying more and spending more time with my kids. We all feel very vulnerable right now, and I think it's important to do our best to just double our efforts to spread love and joy in this world of ours. So I'm doing my best.

You'll see on my right sidebar that I used the Random Saint Generator to select a new blog saint for 2013...

*drum roll*

The Life of a Catholic Librarian blog saint for 2013 is St. Isidore the Farmer!

Right, I hadn't heard of him before either.

But click on his photo to be taken to a description. :) And I don't think it's a coincidence that he was married and had a child who died. One of his patronages is against the death of children.

St. Isidore, pray for us all.

In other news, Anne has decided that changing her diaper is now a sport she's lobbying to have entered into the 2016 Summer Olympics:

Octopus Wrestling

Flip! Attempt to hold down legs! Oh wait, arms are now pulling hair! Flip! Squawking! Pin down torso to remove pants! Re-flip! Threats are now issued! Daddy may be called! Hold down legs! Must remain strong for the wiping round! And for the gold medal clinch...

Do the whole thing without getting poo on (1) self, or (2) the wall!

This has renewed my vow for early potty training.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I don't always address major news stories on this blog, because I see this as a mostly light-hearted "life blog", and I figure we all get inundated with bad news in so many other arenas. We all need a break from that sometimes, you know?

But I'm having an extremely difficult time (as I'm certain you all are as well) dealing with this school shooting in Connecticut. Friday morning and early afternoon I was blissfully knitting away at my friend Stacy's house for our group Christmas party. I was surrounded by support and love. We were talking about what a particularly wonderful week it had been for our group, with lots of laughs and good times. We ate, we drank, we exchanged gifts, we listened to Christmas music.

Then I got home and heard what had happened. I felt numb and weepy for the rest of the day. I couldn't put on the news. I dreaded seeing the newspaper the next morning. But I had to find out more about it eventually, so I read. And I go between crying at the drop of a hat to being so angry. I knew, I just KNEW that the shooter would have committed suicide. He can't just kill himself, he has to shatter the lives and families of dozens of other people.

And the fact of the matter is that all of us want to live long happy lives, right? Nowadays, I think that anybody that passes away before the age of 90 is very young. :) I tend to think of myself at age 37 as still very young. But children? There is something so much deeper, so much more primal, in our love and protection of them. And somebody killing 6 and 7 year old babies is beyond comprehension. Do I want somebody to kill and/or torture me? Of course not. But I would rather that in a heartbeat before something happening to a child. The loss of a child for a parent is unspeakable. Time may make that wound somewhat less paralyzing, but nothing will ever fill that void. Nothing.

Part of it is because children are innately so loving and innocent. And you can't help it, when you see another parent lose their child, you think to yourself, "that could be me. That could be my child." And you grieve for them to the very depths of your soul. Henry is the exact age of some of the children that died.

One of the articles that I read this weekend recounted a teacher shepherding her flock into the class bathroom and locking them all inside. The children were scared and crying. One of them said:

"I just want Christmas. I want us all to be ok and just go home and have Christmas."

I lost it and broke down sobbing. The pure innocence of that statement, the simple childhood joy of Christmas. He didn't want his short life snuffed out without enjoying the day he looked forward to all year. That's what childhood is all about, memories of meaningful events and family get-togethers like we do at Christmas. I don't know about you, but I don't remember much about my day-to-day life as a child. But I remember Christmas. I have tons of memories of different Christmases throughout the years.

I keep crying about this and I don't know when I'll ever be able to stop. I woke up at 4 am this morning and thought about those tiny, precious lives and worried over their last moments.

Friday night, as I was driving home from dance practice, I stopped for a red light next to a Catholic church. Right next to my car was their glass enclosed, life sized nativity scene. All of the figures were bent so lovingly over the Child, their faces filled with beautiful detail of their amazed joy. It gave my grieving heart a few moments of peace.

Sunday, I was on duty for Children's Liturgy of the Word. And wouldn't you know it, I got a huge crowd, including one little girl that I could tell from the outset was going to be a challenge. Not only that, but I had forgotten my preparation sheet at home, so I was totally improvising. And you know, it WAS a challenge, but I was up for it, and it went really, really well. I clued in fairly quickly that the challenging little girl wasn't simply misbehaving. There was definitely a deeper behavioral issue going on. So, instead of feeling annoyed and overwhelmed, I showered her with as much loving attention as I could. She was definitely distracting to the other kids, but sometimes that's just the way it is. I think that she got something out of the session, but more importantly, *I* got something very important from her. Children are not always going to listen, or behave, or generally do what we'd like them to do. But they are *always* a blessing to us, we sometimes just have to listen to them more closely to determine what they need and what God is trying to teach us through them.

When I finished up, I told the little girl that I had a job for her, that I needed her help passing out the weekly worksheets. She sprang into action:

"Oh! Yes, I'll take half."

That just warmed my heart. And she passed them out like a champ, not even keeping one for herself.

I learned a lot from her on Sunday.

I have other things that I can share with you from my weekend, more normal, everyday things. But I won't share them today. Today I'm working to come to a peace within myself about what happened, trying to figure out how I can pray more and be a better parent to my beautiful children. I have a chaplet of the 7 Sorrows of Mary that I just looked up how to pray and I'm going to pray that later.

It's still Advent. And we're still waiting with expectant joy for the coming of our Savior.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still sick, but having a happy Advent

Whatever it is that I have is lingering on and on. Anne seems to be on the mend, but now Henry is saying that his throat hurts a bit and he definitely sounds stuffy. These are my exact symptoms. And he and I were already sick about a week and a half ago!

*sniffles daintily*

At least Anne slept last night, which meant that I got to sleep. Not getting enough sleep certainly makes things a lot worse when one is sick. She's still in a pretty saucy mood, but things were a bit easier this morning.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting. I'm finishing up a gift for my sister, and I'm going to make my dad a hat next. He's a fisherman and needs lots of heavy wool for warmth since he fishes in the winter. I also have 2 sweaters on the needles, and I think I've come to the conclusion that the red tweed sweater I was trying to finish for Christmas day simply isn't going to be done by then.

*moment of silence*

I mean, I knew the chances of that were likely. I just bought a dress at Kohl's (they're having a sale :)) that I can wear instead. It's the sleeves I tell you, the SLEEVES! Long sleeves get me every time. I'll be whipping through the body and then I get to the sleeves and BAM! Sweater sits for the next 6-12 months. I get so bored knitting sleeves. We'll get there.

I also have plans in the new year for the Jimmy Beans Downton Abbey KAL, Karrie's memorial Lady Edith shawl that I mentioned yesterday, and an after-Christmas exchange gift with my beloved friend Karen. I'm plotting that one out right now, and I'm all giddy with new pattern ideas. And I'll finish the 2 sweaters. I promise.


I've also been an excellent girl and using stash yarn.


Because I really do have plenty of yarn, 2 storage bins full. The only short term purchase plans I have are for things that truly don't exist in my stash. Our tree skirt is looking bedraggled, and I'd like to knit us a new one for next Christmas. I found a gorgeous pattern, but obviously I do not have a boatload of red and green worsted weight yarn in my stash. I'd also like to knit a warm blanket for our couch. I do have a few afghans that I've crocheted, but a crocheted fabric lets in a lot more chilly air. :) I'm hoping for some Knit Picks gift cards for Christmas *angelic smile* and maybe I can get yarn for these 2 projects sometime in January or February.

In other news, last night I finished Jan Karon's Shepherd's Abiding. So good! When the book reaches its climax at the end, I always cry. Now I'm contemplating whether or not I should download the pope's infancy narrative book or not, still haven't pulled the trigger on that. But I'm still reading several Christmas-themed Love Inspired books on my Kindle, so those are making me happy. If you haven't read any Harlequin's Love Inspired line, I encourage you to do so if you like romance books. The regular Love Inspired's are contemporary fiction, but they also have a historical line and a suspense line, which is my favorite. These are very sweet Christian romances, and if you have a Kindle, on Amazon they are super cheap. Once they are published on the first of every month, the price drops to either $2.99 or $3.82 per book. If your ereader can work with epub format books, you can download them right from Harlequin a month early. Those of us with Kindles are not so lucky. :) But it's all good. I love them.

Anyway, my Christmas party with my fabulous knitting group is tomorrow and I'm taking the day off to drink, knit and be merry (and hoping that I feel better by then!). I will post pictures of the gift I knitted for our exchange on Monday, and trust me, it's SMASHING. I want it for myself, actually.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A tribute

I made it through the night, but barely. The Christmas concert was smashing, actually. It was shorter than last year, and it was quite lovely. I liked all the songs that they chose. Hank looked adorable in his red Christmas sweater, and his class sang "When Will the Little King Come?". And we concluded with a prayer. I love that he goes to Catholic school.

The overnight with Anne was TOUGH. I don't even want to write anymore about it, it was that miserable. It didn't help that I was also not feeling good. I'm just glad that it's morning, I made it, and Anne is not listed for adoption this morning. I'm still not feeling 100%, but it doesn't help that I haven't gotten enough sleep in about 2 years. I may leave work early today.

At any rate, I was on the reference desk this morning, and since I had no business whatsoever, I went on Ravelry to try and find a pattern to make my dad a hat for Christmas. After I was done, I checked in quickly with the forums. For some reason, today I got the urge to scroll down to the boards I don't check in on as frequently. One of them is "Friends of KnitPurlGurl."

KnitPurlGurl (not Abi of the self-patterning yarn fame on etsy, who also goes by knitpurlgurl) is a woman named Karrie whose blog and podcast I have followed for a long time. She's a knitter and designer, a very sweet and interesting person. She moved to a video podcast a year or so ago, and then I couldn't listen anymore since I have an older iPod Nano version that doesn't support video. But she had a board on Ravelry that I belonged to, and in November 2011 I participated in a knit-along/giveaway that she sponsored, and I won! I received a skein of yarn from Storied Yarns on etsy. I never met her in person, but she was a person that I followed online that I felt that I knew.

Anyway, so this morning. I scrolled down to her Ravelry board and I see a post entitled "Sad News." I click on it. Karrie passed away. :( She was 38! There aren't a lot of details, but she apparently had a seizure. She has a husband and 2 small children.

I couldn't believe it, I thought at first that the woman in the post must be referring to someone else! Karrie had written a blog post just 6 days prior to her death. Her and her family had recently relocated from the Pittsburgh area to Vermont, and she was so happy there. Her son has autism, and she said that the school district they were now in was unbelievably wonderful in setting up services that he needed. She loved her new knitting community and just sounded extremely content.

I feel just awful. I saw on her Ravelry board that some of her friends set up a memorial knit-along, and I'm going to take part. I have that yarn that I won via her, and she has several shawls that she designed which call for fingering weight yarn. I think I'm going to knit her shawl design called "The Lady Edith," another Downton Abbey inspired design. It'll make me think of Karrie when I knit it and wear it.

I'm anxious to cast on for this, I'm just finishing up a few Christmas gifts. It made me think about the fact that life is short, so very short. And we never know what day will be our last. Life is never something to be taken for granted.

Karrie shared the ups and downs of her life with her readers and listeners, and I feel privileged to have felt a part of it with her. I know that she was a devout Lutheran, and I ask you all to pray for her and her family. That would mean a lot to her, I'm certain. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feeling weak, and just in time for the annual Christmas concert...

I'm not certain if I'm coming down with what Anne had or what, but I'm feeling decidedly *not good*. Perhaps it was the 3 hour long seminar I sat through this morning that did me in, but whatever the cause, I feel flushed and woozy. Not a good sign. And Henry's Christmas concert is tonight, which is never a picnic to sit through. His school has no auditorium, so events are held in the church, and the pews aren't the comfortablest (is that a word?). Sigh. I just want to be at home in jammies, a cup of tea by my side.

This mystery illness also has the side effect of rendering me brainless. What else is new? I have absolutely no idea. All I know is that this Anne Removing Pants phenomenon has transferred to public spaces as well (read: restaurant last night) so we're going to have to deal with that. And she's finally saying her name and Henry's, or, at least her version of their names. So I apparently have children named "Nay" and "Hay."

I'm hoping that I live through the evening. If I do, I'll check back in tomorrow.


Monday, December 10, 2012

She'll just love reading this story when she's 18...

At the home of the Catholic Librarian this morning...

*Anne strolls into living room wearing no pants*

"Oh, you took your pants off? Do you have to go potty? Pee or poo?"

*squealing sound*

"I'll take that as a yes."

*Anne demands a tube of toothpaste to chew on while I take off her diaper*

"Ok, this is where you put pee and poo, into the potty. This is where the big girls go potty."

*I hold Anne's small form onto the regular seat, since we don't currently have a training seat*

Anne displays a wide eyed look of alarm

"Do you have to go pee or poo?"


First potty training attempt is in the books...

Second Sunday of Advent and all it's adventures...

Well, my weekend was interesting, never a dull moment in my household. Saturday morning dawned with Anne clearly feeling under the weather. In fact, Anne not feeling well dominated both days and nights of our weekend, with the telltale signs being:

(1) lots of sneezing and a runny nose,
(2) a small fever,
(3) poor sleeping,
(4) diminished appetite, and
(5) marauding around the house doing nothing but (a) sobbing, and (b) throwing things.

It was a long weekend, to say the least.

I didn't know if I was even going to make it to Mass Saturday morning for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she was just so miserable, but she settled enough for me to feel all right about leaving her with Mike (meaning, I didn't feel guilty about leaving him alone to deal with such a painful situation!) so that I could go. I went, and it was lovely.

Later, she actually seemed to perk up a bit, her fever went away, and she was drinking liquids like a champ. Mike wanted to go to the vigil Mass for the second Sunday of Advent, so we packed up both kids and went. Hence, I did end up doing 2 Masses in 1 day. :) But honestly, they felt so different from each other. It also helped that I went to 2 totally different parishes. For the vigil, we went to a historic church downtown that Mike loves. Both children were good, aside from Anne dumping her Ziploc baggie of small snacks onto the floor while we were standing up to recite the Creed. I was picking up stray raisins for the rest of Mass.

But it was really beautiful, and I'm so glad we went. By the overnight, Anne was back to her crankfest. She was a bit hoarse and was obviously feeling parched, because when she demanded my presence at 5 am in her bedroom, our conversation was as follows:


"Hi Honey, Mommy is here to..."


"We're going to snuggle and..."


She doesn't like to take no for an answer, that one. I think she is also getting a new tooth, because she's been drooling up a storm. This all led to an absolutely ABYSMAL night last night in which Anne demanded milk, threw herself onto the floor, and cried for what seemed like 30 straight minutes, all *while I'm holding her and trying to soothe her*. It was ugly.

So I'm recovering a bit today. :) She was still on a rampage this morning, so not much has improved in that regard. We'll get there.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Musings on holy days of obligation...

As a child, I distinctly remembering how I felt at Mass. Which was a definite: BORED.

I didn't understand everything that was being said, nor why it was meaningful, and I was always happy to get to the Our Father, because that meant that Mass was approximately 3/4 of the way complete. I can see this same tendency right now in my own son, which makes me a bit sad, but I'm doing what I can to explain things to him and keep him engaged in the Mass and in our Catholic faith, and I pray every day that both of my children will always remain close to Jesus and his Church. That's really all I can do.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood the Mass and consequently felt it's true power and meaning. Since that time, I've been grateful every day that I was raised in a church with a liturgy, because I love it, and it suits me so well. I used to attend daily Mass, and so wish that were an easier objective for me these days. In the end, I'm just so grateful that I have the gift of the Mass.

I read somewhere that Sunday Mass attendance amongst self-identified Catholics is approximately 25%. For holy days of obligation, the number is much, much lower. I know that there are some dioceses in which bishops chose to eliminate the obligation to attend Mass on some holy days, and instead moved the feast to the closest Sunday. Whenever I look at my Catholic calendar, printed at my parish, I seem to remember Hawaii always being mentioned :) so I believe they are one of those exception dioceses.

This is just my opinion, but I was always glad that I live in a diocese that does not move the holy days of obligation to Sundays only. I love the holy day Masses, and it gives me an excuse to make that extra effort during the week to attend Mass. The liturgy is always special on those days, and the readings particularly poignant.

There are a few holy days, however, that do not carry the option of being moved by our local bishops. The feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) is one of those holy days, because Our Lady under that name is patroness of the United States. Christmas, obviously, is another such holy day.

I have to admit, this year, the feast of the Immaculate Conception presents an awkward Mass challenge for me. The vigil is tonight, but via some very bad luck, I got stuck with the 3-5 pm reference shift this afternoon. Hence, all 4 and 5 pm vigils are out for me. I could technically make a 7 pm vigil, but I have dance class then, and you know how much I love my dance class. Obviously, if I had no other option to attend Mass, I'd have to miss my class, but happily I can go tomorrow morning, on the feast itself.

The only problem with *that* is that we wanted to go to the vigil for the second Sunday of Advent together as a family Saturday evening (Mike doesn't like going to Mass on Sunday mornings, he always prefers to go to a Saturday vigil when he attends), which would mean Mass twice in one day. And that seems less than ideal to me, like I was treating the Masses as not as special as they deserve because I'm simply packing them in to accommodate my schedule.

And so I had thought to myself for a brief time that I wished that this was one of the holy days that was moved to a Sunday (when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday, which I think all dioceses do). But I corrected myself pretty quickly. Both the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the second Sunday of Advent deserve their own special Mass, they cannot be combined or one forsaken for the other. So I simply have to deal.

I'm still not sure what we'll do yet about the second Sunday of Advent. If Mike really wants to go to Mass, I'm certainly not going to turn him away, so I'll go to Mass twice on Saturday. If not, then I'll go to Mass for the second Sunday of Advent on Sunday morning. Next Sunday, I have Children's Liturgy of the Word duty, so we won't go to the vigil that week. And I know that Mike probably won't want to go to Mass as a family on the fourth Sunday of Advent because Christmas is so close and he'll be attending on Christmas Eve. *sighs* The problems of Catholic Librarians these days, I tell you.

So, my evening today and morning tomorrow will be a bit hectic. I may try to take Anne to Mass with me in the morning if (a) it won't interfere with her nap, and (b) she isn't in a foul mood and clearly on the prowl for trouble.

We'll see how it goes. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Excitement with yarn

As I've mentioned several times on this blog, I love Knit Picks for my knitting and crochet supplies. I have multiple sets of interchangeable knitting needle tips and cables from them, I bought their new wood crochet hooks (and love them!), and I buy most of my yarn from them. They have lots of selection of workhorse natural fibers (wool, alpaca, cotton), and some luxury blends to indulge in on occasion, for very reasonable prices. I know that I get more for my money with them than if I shopped in other places. When I need yarn or needles (which seems to be at least once every other month), I turn to Knit Picks. They have very friendly customer service, and our relationship is quite loving. I participate in the Knit Picks Lovers board on Ravelry. I recommend them to others. I'm rather wedded to them.

However, I have a hidden yarn secret: somewhat regularly, I have an illicit affair with Jimmy Beans Wool.

Jimmy's yarn is pricier than Knit Picks, but I was drawn to him because of a discounted Namaste knitting bag he had in stock. I bought the bag, and found that every purchase you make with Jimmy Beans gets you 5% back in store credit that you can use during the next quarter. And their customer service? Out of this world. I mean, SAINTS can't be as nice as these people, and their shipping speed is verging on the very wings of angels. Then I saw that they had that London 2012 colorway in their Lorna's Laces sock yarn and I ordered a skein, to commemorate my first successful Ravellenic Games.  Yes, it costs twice as much as I normally pay for yarn, but everybody deserves a little splurge sometimes. Suddenly, I had a little stockpile of store credit and a free shipping code to use from October until the end of December.

And oh, oh Jimmy. Seducing me with your limited edition colorways every month in the Lorna's Laces yarn, that is most unkind of you. I felt like I was sneaking around every month checking on the new color to see if I liked it. Several were pretty, but I wasn't tempted. Until last Friday.

I'm innocently scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. Suddenly, via my friendship with Jimmy's Lorna's Laces limited edition fan club, I see December's colorway. It's called "Christmas at Downton."

*keyboard activity ceases*

*brain function comes to a screeching halt*

CHRISTMAS AT DOWNTON?! I *LOVE* Downton Abbey!!! It's one of Mike's and my absolute favorite shows. And the third season begins airing in the U.S. right around our anniversary in January.*heart*

It was meant to be. I considered the sock yarn, but let's be honest. I already own A LOT of sock yarn that still needs to be knitted up into warm and comfy socks. I looked through some patterns on Ravelry and justified a skein of the worsted weight so that I can make a hooded cowl for myself. Doesn't that sound cozy for a winter project? And with my store credit and the free shipping, it was only $16. I mean, it would have been a sin to not get the yarn and let that credit go to waste.

So I ordered the worsted on Friday. And Jimmy, with his wonderful speedy shipping, had my yarn on my doorstep by Monday afternoon (and it was coming from Reno, NV!). Didn't I tell you that he is wonderful?

The colorway is *beautiful*. Pleased as punch, I tucked my new yarn into my stash to pick up again after I finish Christmas knitting.

And then came yesterday. I'm innocently (ah hem) looking for a pattern on Ravelry when I notice on the "Hot Right Now" list the following:

"Downton Abbey Mystery KAL (knit-along) with Jimmy Beans Wool."

*eyes widen*

How could I not click on that? I click on it.

Starting on January 6th, Downton's premiere date, Jimmy is hosting a mystery knit-along in which participants will receive a clue each week and knit a project together, the final product of which is a mystery until the very end. The recommended yarn is of course some of the "Christmas in Downton" colorway in a sport weight.

A mystery KAL?

*Hallelujah chorus*

I DREAM (quite literally) of good knit-alongs. I MUST DO THIS. My dignity as a knitter requires that I take part in this blessed event. There's just 1 problem.

I have no sport weight yarn.

Well, ok, that's not *completely* true. I have a few skeins of sport weight yarn, but they are ear marked for other projects. It's not like worsted weight, or sock yarn, which I have an abundance of in my (very reasonably sized, that's my story and I'm sticking to it) stash.

What to do, what to do...

Somehow, it was all a blur I can't remember the details, the "Christmas in Downton" Sportmate yarn that the KAL mentions jumped into my cart. I swear I don't know how it happened. 1 skein is $24.50.


But you see, Jimmy, with his smooth talking ways, was already working on me. You only need 1 skein to make the mystery item, he whispers in my ear, and if you can get free shipping...

I'm on the email list to my knitting group in seconds. Anybody want to take part in the Mystery KAL, I ask? There's a brief silence, and then a flurry of happy responses. Anybody want to order the yarn?

There was some negotiation involving consideration of existing stash yarn, but Jimmy worked his wiles with them as well. Next thing you knew, everybody was in for a skein of Sportmate and together we had free shipping.

The yarn is actually out of stock, but is on order. Jimmy wrote right back to me to tell me he was sorry that he didn't have the yarn ready to ship out immediately, but that it would arrive in 1-2 weeks. He thanked me for my patience. We sent Jimmy a kiss.

It will arrive in plenty of time for the KAL, and meanwhile excitement is building in my knitting group.

This is the most fabulous development in my knitting life since the Ravellenic Games. I AM RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED. So expect lots of Downton Abbey and knit-along talk this January and February. I'm just lettin' you know now. I'll keep you posted every step of the way.

Karen, want to join us? *evil smile*

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent reading

Every 1-2 years, I pull Jan Karon's Shepherd's Abiding off my bookshelf and read it during Advent. I've read it so many times that I skipped last Advent lest the story start to feel too predictable to me, and I happily pulled it out on Sunday.

I've read every book in the Mitford series and enjoyed all of them, but this is my absolute favorite book of the bunch. The series chronicles Fr. Tim, an Episcopalian priest who works in a small town church located in the hills of North Carolina. Assorted other townspeople are featured as well, and the stories are very charming. Some of the books are better than others, but overall I loved the series and recommend it.

Shepherds Abiding takes place during a Mitford Advent, and has our Fr. Tim happening upon a neglected antique nativity scene and spontaneously deciding to purchase and restore it as a Christmas gift for his wife. Nativity sets had played a memorable role in both of their childhoods, and this ragamuffin set captures his imagination as a project to work on leading up to, and during, Advent.

I can't tell you how happy I feel when I read this book. I usually read books on my Kindle these days, but I bought this in print years ago, and I have to say, this is a book that I would only read in print. There are a few beautiful color illustrations included and the cover art inspires me just to look at it. I am keeping it on my night stand this year and only allowing myself to read it before falling asleep to guarantee that it will last me for all of Advent.

Fr. Tim is an endearing character, and he's intimidated by the plaster work and painting involved in restoring his set, especially since his wife is a successful artist. Restoring the set is important to healing his heart toward his deceased (and emotionally distant) father, as well a true gift of the heart for his wife. I loved reading about the research he did to get each piece of the nativity just right in its color and look. 

Definitely a book to check out this Advent. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A knitting frenzy

Things are much more subdued in my knitting life this year (as opposed to last year's frantic dash to the finish line) but I've still been very busy in the evenings. I thought I'd post a few of my recent creations.

I love knitting a warm wool cardigan for Anne each winter. This year, I used the yarn from a wool sampler that I had bought, so it was a nice way to use up single balls in different colors:

And I made her some mittens to match her cupcake hat:

This bunny lovey is for her Christmas stocking:

I hope he doesn't look too angry, does he? Mouth embroidery is not my forte. I have a stuffed hippo that Henry asked for in the works as well. I had to change patterns on that one (the first pattern looked great at first, but once I actually started crocheting I realized that it was hieroglyphic-like in its instructions; once the f-bombs start flying in my head, I know that I need to change patterns, that's very reasonable, is it not?) but the re-started hippo in the new pattern looks fine so far.

I'm also knitting away on my sweater. When I went to Maine, Mike was teasing me about the sheer volume of yarn that I packed, and how much consideration I placed into each individual ball that I included.

"You're going to be helping with twins, do you really think you're going to have a lot of knitting time?"

He was right, of course. :) But I did knit a lot in the airport, so it was ALL worth it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

First Sunday of Advent 2012

We had a lovely First Sunday of Advent 2012, and you can see our brand new nativity Advent wreath above. Like every Advent wreath that I've ever owned, the candles tip a bit in the cups, however, they still seem secure in this one, so I'll take it. I know that there is a trick you can do to mold the wax at the bottom of the candles so that they fit into the cups easier, but I would have to do some actual research to uncover that. :) In the background, you can also see our wooden Advent calendar. I'll need to replace this one eventually, it's getting pretty beat up, but for now it still works.

I dug up an Advent wreath blessing prayer on my Kindle edition of the Magnificat Advent Companion and Henry and I blessed the wreath, and lit the first candle. Henry wasn't the best participant, but he's caught some early winter bug and was looking peaked all weekend. He's home from school today and looked just pathetic this morning, poor babe.

At any rate, I'm very happy on this second day of Advent, and am looking forward to further prayer and study. I've heard that the pope's new book on the infancy narrative is a good Advent read. Has anybody picked this up yet?