Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede Vacante begins, and my 1,000th post...

It's hard to believe, but this is post number 1,000 on this blog. It's a small and humble blog, but I know that people do read it (and some regularly! *kiss*), and I can't tell you how much that means to me. I love to write, and this has proved a wonderful creative outlet for me.

My first post is dated September 23, 2008. That was actually a tough time in my life. Henry was just shy of 3 and was in the throes of the Terrible Two's, Mike was stressed out at his job and we knew that he wasn't happy there. I had just started belly dancing, so it hadn't yet reached its zenith in my creative life. I felt anxious and overwhelmed. And I started blogging. I started small, but eventually reached a happy and comfortable rhythm. It's been such a blessing.

And on this historic day, I'm so glad that I feel like I'm experiencing and sharing everything right along with my online friends and the Church worldwide. I believe that the official resignation time, 8 pm in Rome, will be 2 pm EST. I'll be watching with baited breath. I feel a bit weepy, but I know that it'll be ok.

We're getting takeout tonight from Chipotle (we're nerds) and plan to watch any tolerable media coverage. I'm working on crocheting some birthday gifts so I'll take out my nervous energy on my creations. Speaking of, here is the finished Lady Edith shawl:

Lady Violet's dinner gauntlets, from the Downton Abbey mystery knit-along:

And my Valentine's socks (a little late):

I'm certain there will be a lot of blogging over the course of the next few weeks. I've been vigilant with my rosary (as has Henry, he's been particularly adorable this Lent) and with the Liturgy of the Hours. Well, I'll fess up. I haven't missed a single Morning Prayer, but Evening Prayer often goes by the wayside. It's just so hectic once I get home and have the kids to attend to. But I persevere and that's what matters. Prayer is so, so important right now.

Let's all hang in there for what could be a wild ride.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spring fever crafting

And so it begins...

I love winter. I really do. But for some reason, every February I start busting out with pastel greens, yellows and pinks, and I can't stop myself from casting on for projects that I will inevitably lose interest in once the weather gets warmer and won't pick up again until the following spring. Eggs will be crocheted. Bunnies will be on the needles. Spring colored afghans will be sprung. I can't stop myself.

And this year is no exception. The eggs and bunnies are coming, just you wait. And I'm trying not to think about that half finished spring afghan that has been stuffed into the back of our closet for going on three years now. But my current spring obsession is baby and toddler knitting. I own a toddler, so that's convenient, and I have twin infant nephews so the knitting need is quite great. And they are perfect recipients of pastel colored items, don't you agree?

My current obsession is the infamous Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. I purchased the pattern and have been obsessing for weeks with how to size it for a toddler as well as an older infant (that does involve some math, which explains the slowness of this process). I'd like to make some as Easter gifts, perfect for that transitional time before summer.

Excited. Very.excited.

In preparation, I've been finishing up all of my current works-in-progress so that I can feel light and free in casting on for my spring projects.


It's not really fun to go back to the heavy brown sweater you abandoned back in December to finish it up so that you can focus on what you *really* want to knit, but I press on anyway, because it's the right thing to do. We don't want that sweater to hold a grudge, and it's depressing form sitting atop my desk was just wearing on me. I also finished up a pair of socks, my mystery knit-along gloves, and three shawls recently. *gold star*

This is the shawl that I made for my friend Karen:

That's crocheted, actually. I thought the heathered blue would look lovely with her coloring.

Tonight I'm bound for JoAnn's on my way home to have a look at some self-patterning baby yarn that I discovered online. It's acrylic, but that's ideal for spring, really. You don't really need the warmth of wool then.

ANYWAY, gearing up for a big day tomorrow, as I'm sure you all are too. I will be checking back in with you shortly.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I have heard of Craftsy before, but today proved my first experience with it. It's a site with online courses in knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, jewelry making, cake decorating, any kind of craft that you can think of. I saw a link today on Ravelry that they are offering a free course for new members, so I jumped on it and headed over.

I easily created a Craftsy account and looked over the course offerings. I chose a course on knitting with beads that usually costs $40. Super excited! I can watch it over the course of my lunch breaks for the next little while. They are also free mini courses available all the time, such as the two that I signed up for in creating short rows in your knitting and understanding the differences between different types of wool. This promotion for any course of your choosing for free is of unknown duration, so if you're interested I'd head over there quickly to check it out. You can find me on there as Tiffanyrae18. :) That's my user name on Ravelry as well. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My newspaper debut...

I was just interviewed and photographed for the college newspaper. To prepare, I may or may not have:

(1) Plucked gray hairs out of my own scalp in an effort to conceal my graying situation between colors. It's not as easy to isolate and eliminate those little parasites as it may seem. And it #@!% hurts.

(2) Applied lipstick, which I NEVER do unless I'm getting married or performing in a belly dance show. I may have also done this before my drivers license photo was taken, but I'm admitting to nothing.

(3) Put a swirly barrette in my hair in an effort to appear cuter and younger than I actually am.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The paper wanted to interview someone about how to become a librarian and why I chose librarianship as a career. She made me happy by mentioning that the reason she chose me is that a friend of hers said that I had come to one of her classes. She remembered me! *beams*

I was reluctant to do it, but my boss asked me to, so it's not like I could really say no. :) I actually enjoyed it, I just hope the interview translates well into article format and that my photo doesn't leave me looking paranoid and stressed, an expression that I somehow seem to have mastered. 

Oh sigh.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

This is another interesting factoid courtesy of my Lenten Liturgy of the Hours foray. I've noticed this feast on the church calendar in the past, but never paid it much mind. This year, it seems particularly poignant that it falls within the week that Pope Benedict XVI will resign.

According to my Proper of Saints for February 22nd:

Chair of Peter, Apostle
Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.

There are special antiphons for today, plus a completely separate reading, intercessions and prayer. For Evening Prayer, I see that we will use the Common of Apostles rather than the Psalter. I know that I am a nerd because I find this so fascinating. All I can say is thank goodness for these little St. Joseph guides for praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Tonight our dance class is off due to another commitment by my teacher, so I'll be at home happily knitting by Mike's side as we watch a movie. Fittingly, it has started to snow, just to make things cozier for us, isn't that nice?

Tomorrow, Mike and I are going out to dinner to celebrate my birthday, and Sunday I'm making a pizza so that we can watch the Daytona 500. Mike rolls his eyes whenever I mention this, but I always remind him that many men would love to have a wife who was interested in auto racing. He always compliments be appropriately. :) It should be a nice weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One more week with Pope Benedict XVI, and my long week of teaching finally ends...

I can't believe that Pope Benedict's resignation is now a mere week away. So sad! On the other hand, I'm terribly excited to experience this historic moment in the Church, and to watch coverage of the conclave. Like most of you, this is only the second conclave in my lifetime that I'll have any memory of.

Next Thursday, we're planning to get takeout (my hubby's idea, isn't he wonderful?!) so that we can eat in the living room and watch the news. I know that nothing will really be happening next Thursday aside from the resignation becoming official, but I know there will be tons of news coverage of it and I want to see it.

Other than that, I finally taught my final class for this week. I know that teachers teach multiple classes every single day, but since I'm not as used to it as they are, it just drains me. They all went well, it's just nice to relax for a spell. When I teach, I have to be Super On Librarian Tiffany and I can't rest easy until the class is complete.

This class I just taught was an extremely small upper-level seminar. I had 1 eager beaver, 1 interested but cool, and 1 that looked angry. A typical random sample, I suppose, of the undergraduate population. I got all teachery on them and made them brainstorm for keywords that I wrote up on the white board. My eager beaver added suggestions promptly when asked and wrote everything down carefully. The other interested student offered a comment or two and politely, but quietly, paid attention the entire time. My angry customer demanded to know what the heck this assignment was that I was talking about. Ah, the joys of college life.

I'm bound for home and a glass of wine with my knitting later. I can't wait to ring in the end of a long week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent, one week in

How is everybody's Lent going? :)

So far, I'm doing pretty well with my Liturgy of the Hours goal. *accountability check* I have missed 2 sessions of evening prayer, but in both cases I had a good reason. Instead of getting down on myself like in Lents past and just giving up the entire endeavor, I've just told myself that these things happen, line up my bookmark ribbons for the next session and resolve to make morning prayer the next day a priority. And I have. So, I still consider that a success.

I've been praying my rosary more and remembering to wing up small prayers more in general in times of need or when I see others' times of need. Thus, so far I'm getting a lot out of Lent 2013.

And I'm more rested, hence the definite uptick in my perkiness factor. Anne, at 21 months, is still just SUCH an unpredictable sleeper. Some nights are great, others not so much. And long before this age, Henry was sleeping reliably through the night, so I just wasn't prepared for this. Such is the lot of parents.

I finished up class #4 for the week of this busy teaching week at work, just 1 more to go tomorrow. I was thinking this morning on my way in that Lent may be the time to reevaluate what I want out of my career as well. I got tenure last year, and that has led to a nice feeling of relief and security. I do however feel a bit "stale" in my responsibilities. Nothing has changed for me at work, or been "freshened up" in quite some time. In my class this morning, I started my demonstration and just allowed myself to be a lot less formal than usual. I told the students how nowadays many people wonder if we still need libraries and librarians, because "everything is online." I related how when I was a little girl, my local library had big card catalogs, a scary, mean librarian with glasses and a bun, creaky floorboards, and a resident cat. What did any of this have to do with their English Composition assignment? Well nothing, but I can tell you, they were interested. I don't usually have students with wide interested eyes hanging on to my every word like this, I can assure you.

It felt good. I wrapped up by explaining briefly how librarians still very much provide the same service they used to, just in different mediums. And please, for the love of God, do NOT tell me that you can find everything that you need for a COLLEGE RESEARCH PAPER on Google. Because you cannot. So there.

It was a good class, and it got me to thinking how I should freshen up my teaching and lesson plans over the summer. I love being a librarian. Especially since I was in a profession prior to this that I truly did not enjoy (law), I treasure how much of a "fit" being a librarian feels to me. Being a librarian is a public service, and sometimes I lose track of that. Students can annoy me (with their laziness) but ultimately I like to help them. It's what I'm called to do. And I should do so with love and charity.

It was a good morning moment.

*gold star*


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A day of love and appreciation

Well, despite my prevailing Negative Birthday Energy, I had a very nice birthday. It was a Monday, I was not off for President's Day, and my work day was quite 'blah' with an English Composition class to teach and other lesson plans to prepare. That notwithstanding, the day really exceeded my expectations.

I got lots of nice birthday wishes on Facebook, and my knitting group brought me heart cookies, homemade chocolate, and a crocheted bracelet with purple beads to match my amethyst birthstone. When I arrived home, laden with goodies, Mike and the kids had a bottle of Frangelico waiting (I just love the rope tied around the bottle's waist, and who doesn't love spiked coffee?) and some specialty tea. My parents came over later and brought me some lotion and body wash from The Body Shop. Later, Mike and I watched Poltergeist on TCM (I will grant, not exactly a traditional birthday choice, but it worked) and I worked on my Lady Edith shawl. It was lovely.

My long week of teaching continues, but I'm persevering. I wish I could think of something funny to say, but the creek runs dry. That's what happens when your daughter decides to STOP SLEEPING AGAIN. Any remaining brain cells are immediately pressed into service for basic survival skills. Humor is tossed to the wayside.

Here's hoping for a good Wednesday.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is today?

A Lenten weekday. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Sigh. Yes, it's my birthday. I hate to be a bad sport, but I have come to dread my birthdays a bit ever since I turned 35. I'm just honestly not looking forward to the next 5 year milestone, which will be in 2 years for me now. That year, my birthday falls on Ash Wednesday. Seems appropriate, no? :)

Oh well, with time comes acceptance. It just freaks me out when I realize that I can *remember* my own parents being the age that I am now, and my grandparents being the age that my parents are now. I guess we all just wish that some things could always stay the same, and that those we loved wouldn't age and ultimately leave us. Man, what a Birthday Downer I am.

In good news, we had a very nice weekend, and Anne has been sleeping better. I hope that she now does not start waking up every 20 minutes just because I mentioned something. I went to a craft show on Saturday with my mother-in-law and the kids and had a great time. I found a wonderful new local handmade soap supplier. I also bought a sewn table runner for our dining room buffet in spring colors, plus some baked goods for the kids. Yesterday, we went to the zoo and both kids loved it. Anne was...I just don't think I've ever seen her so happy. She kissed the mice through the glass partition and offered them a drink from her sippy cup. She was squealing and ebullient the whole time. Aside from the unfortunate incident involving a stinky diaper in the zoo eatery all went perfectly.

Oh! And I received a new rosary bracelet for my birthday:

I love it. :) I'm wearing it today. I also got a copy of The Bishop's Wife and some cute new clothes. Mike and I are going to dinner this weekend. I still haven't chosen a restaurant. You'd think I was plotting world peace with the concentration I'm taking to pick a birthday restaurant.

So, things are good. I have a bit of a long week at work, but I'll persevere.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I wish I could think of something interesting to write about, but unfortunately I'm running on fumes. Another epically bad night with Anne. All I can say is that my Liturgy of the Hours commitment is all that is holding me together, and that's fine. It is Lent, after all. :)

We do have some fun things planned for the weekend. A craft show tomorrow, I have Children's Liturgy of the Word on Sunday, followed by a birthday party at the zoo. We all get in for free, so while Henry is at the party, Mike and I are going to take Anne around to see some animals. It should be really fun.

I've got a long week of teaching ahead of me next week. I can't say I'm looking forward to that, but it is what it is. It'll be nice to have that behind me.

In the mean time, if you find yourself awake at 3 am anytime this weekend, think of me and say a prayer, if you would.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

See the things you learn when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours? All sorts of interesting things.

On day two of Lent, my resolution to pray morning and evening prayer is going very well, ha! I do love it. If it continues to go well, I'm going to try to continue into the Easter season. We'll see.

Speaking of prayer, I needed the extra power this morning. We had an abysmal night with Anne (day 4 of the Nights of Misery series, coming to a theater near you) and this morning I was in tears. I do well now with one bad night even two. Being beaten down into submission with sleep deprivation will do that do you. Your standards sink immeasurably low. But more than that in one stretch really starts to get me down. I'm hanging in there.

This afternoon, I'm planning some needed grocery shopping followed by picking up Chinese takeout for dinner. Hank and I baked a cake last night and we'll frost it tonight as well. Anything we can do to cheer up is a good thing, I think.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday 2013

Ah, Ash Wednesday. I look forward to this every year. I enjoy having a season set apart for contemplation and sacrifice. I love the symbolism of the ashes. Mid-February is the perfect time for Ash Wednesday, in my opinion. The gray skies and chilly weather just fit. We all look forward to the spring dawn of Easter.

And my vigil of Ash Wednesday was just superb. I was on the reference desk yesterday until 3 pm, but as soon as I finished I wrapped up things in my office and took 2 hours of vacation time to leave early. First, I stopped off at our local Christian bookstore, which is conveniently quite near campus. I was in search of the St. Joseph Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours for 2013. We do have a small Catholic store near my house, but it's so tiny and the stock so limited that I rarely go there. We also have a large Catholic store associated with a local shrine, but it's a solid 35 minute ride away. I'd like to get there during Lent, but that didn't help me yesterday. This Christian store is a nice size and very Catholic friendly. They always have a nice stock of Catholic books, including the St. Joseph guides. I happily stopped in.

I make a beeline for the Catholic section but alas, the 4-volume guides were all gone. They had the guide for single volume Christian Prayer, as well as a guide to this year's missal, but not the one I was seeking. While I was there, I checked out their "parish supply" section which always has an interesting assortment of items. Roman collars, Vacation Bible School kits, baptismal candles, saint medals, all represented. I immediately found what I was hoping for - one of those tall pillar candles encased in colored plastic that you see in racks at churches for you to light for a specific intention. They usually have crosses molded into the plastic and come in a few colors. Henry *loves* these candles and wants to light one every single week at Mass. It's the highlight of Mass for him, frankly. For $3, I got him his very own blue candle. For Lent, I planned to start a nightly praying of a rosary decade with him. and we can light the candle while we do that. We've done that in the past, and he loved it. Whatever helps them to pray the rosary I see as a good thing.

Before I left, I perused the children's books and spotted a toddler version of Henry's absolute favorite kids Bible, The Beginner'sBible. This one was a board book with a condensed number of the Bible stories, but nice and sturdy. I chose that as Anne's Lenten gift. After I checked out, I stopped to peruse their selection of Fontanini nativity pieces. I love being in stores like that; they're so peaceful.

Feeling perky, I then stopped off for confession. The parish connected with Henry's school has confession at 4 pm on Tuesdays, which just sounds like an odd slot, no? But I have found it strangely convenient. I haven't been to confession in a shameful number of months and have been meaning to stop in since the beginning of Advent. Sigh. The last time I tried to go, there were so many people waiting I ran out of time and had to head home. As I got out of my car and headed over to the church, I bumped into the priest who was parking his car in the rectory spot. That seemed a bit awkward, but I persevered.

The church was serene and housed 2 other people waiting for confession. As I dipped my fingers into the holy water font I spotted a special Lenten issue of The Word Among Us available as a freebie over near the bulletins. I snagged one and slipped into a pew to await the priest. I was feeling some anxiety about not doing a proper examination of conscience and voila! An article in The Word Among Us about a Lenten examination of conscience. Xanadu. Scanning through the list I unfortunately noted 3 additional things to add to my list.  Actually, make that 4. Ugh.

The priest came in and entered the confessional and I let the other two people who were there before me line up and go in. The sanctuary was very peaceful and I wasn't in a rush yesterday. Mike was teaching and the kids were safely tucked away with their grandparents.

Once they were done, I went in since no one else was waiting. As ever, I had an excellent experience. Whenever I go to confession, I put it off way too long, but the instant I go I wonder why I don't go all the time. I feel GREAT when I get out. It's almost as if you can physically feel the grace moving within you. I prayed for a few minutes and got up to leave, glowing. Just as I was putting my hat and scarf back on, a mother came in with her 2 young children. She was coaxing the little girl over to the confessional when I left, making me smile.

Speaking of confession, Henry will go for the first time on March 6th and he has his Act of Contrition all memorized in anticipation. He's nervous, but I'm so excited for him. We used to make our First Communion also in second grade, closely following First Reconcilliation, but that doesn't seem to be the norm anymore. He won't make First Communion until next May. Anyway, in anticipation of his first confession, and for our new prayer routine for Lent, I presented Henry last night with his candle (*gasp* "Oh MOMMY! It's BEAUTIFUL!" I seriously could have gotten away with only giving him the $3 candle) and his first big boy rosary from unbreakablerosaries on Etsy:

 It's a beauty, no? And poignantly, the center medal features John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He couldn't wait to head up to his bedroom and christian the new rosary with the holy water we retrieved from our parish and light the candle for the first time. We prayed the First Sorrowful Mystery, and he did a great job leading the prayers. I'm looking forward to continuing our tradition for all of Lent. It's nice because now his bedtime is later than Anne's, as I usually put Anne down. So this way, I can spend individual time with each of them before they go to sleep.

We've been having some long nights with Anne, so Ash Wednesday morning dawned for me at 4 am. But I felt good. I already said my first installment of morning prayer and this is another thing that I can't believe I don't do all the time. The Liturgy of the Hours is just wonderful. The prayers are beautiful and I love the connection that I feel with the universal Church when I pray it. I see that Amazon has the St. Joseph guide for 2013 and I'm about to order a few books for Mike, so I may stick that in to make my navigation of the volume a bit easier. Right now I'm making do with the 2012 guide.

I'm slated to get ashes with Anne at 4 pm, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Further reflections on the pope's resignation, and my Lenten plan

I feel like I'm still in a haze from yesterday. What an important day for the Church. I got the sense that it would be a day in which I remember some of the details of what I was doing for the rest of my life, as often happens on days in which unexpected but life altering things happen. It still hasn't fully sunk in, but it's been on my mind since the moment I found out, and so these are my thoughts:

I respect his decision. Only he and his doctors know the specifics of what is currently going on with his health. And we know that Benedict is a prayerful man. If he felt that this was the right decision, I believe him.

But I'm sad. I get uncomfortable as I read what has now become an oft repeated statement that "...this is good, as it paves the way for future popes to resign when they get older. And with modern medicine aiding us in living as long as we do, resignation will become increasingly necessary."

I don't completely agree with that statement. I certainly don't think that John Paul II's model of suffering at the very end of his life as pope was a mistake. I don't like the implication that from now on, any pope should consider resigning as he ages (especially past age 80), as maybe we can't learn anything from him anymore. It just smacks of the condescending attitude our modern society typically has towards the elderly. Not productive. Not valuable. Useless. I completely disagree.

On the other hand, I can respect that each individual pope should do as they see fit for themselves. Perhaps Benedict does not feel called to share his physical struggles publicly in the same way that John Paul II did. There is nothing wrong with that.

I can very much picture Benedict happily living out the rest of his days in study and prayer. If that is what is best for him, and what he feels is best for the Church, then I'm fine with it. I'm quite excited about the prospect of a Lenten conclave, and see this as a powerful and poignant lent. I look forward to the excitement of a new pope for the Holy Week and Easter celebrations to come.

What I am already sick of though are the negative comments I'm seeing in some places. How the Church needs to "get with the times" and "become more progressive." And it always relates back to the issues the Church takes the most criticism for. Birth control. Abortion. The definition of marriage. Female clergy. Priestly celibacy.

I certainly think that the Church is a living and evolving institution, and it should address modern issues as with all things, with love. But I think that people who are expecting the Church to change on her core teachings are going to be sorely disappointed. It's not going to happen.

I am very curious and excited to see who will be elected, but I have a feeling that the wait is going to feel very long. And all of the speculation is drawn out even more than usual since we have this two and a half week span before the resignation becomes effective.

I'm looking forward to it being a time of intense prayer. And on that note I have devised my Lenten scheme for 2013. I'm not going to observe any dietary restrictions other than the expected fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat on all other Fridays of Lent. I'm going to read some Catholic books. I have a copy of George Weigel's God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church that I'm going to pull out. I'm certain I will still read some fiction. But overall I'm going to try to pray more, and to add in morning and evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for all of Lent. I started doing that last Lent and loved it, but once I tried moving to the Magnificat prayers instead I fell off the wagon. This year, I'm sticking with my study old 4-volume Liturgy of the Hours books. And that's it.

Although that doesn't seem like a lot, I intend to make it count. I'm going to be praying a lot, as we all should, for our new pope, whoever he may be.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oh my

I have so much to say today, so it's going to be one of those "settle in with a cup of tea" posts. I'm making my Marian consecration today based upon the formula in 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, and it seems fortuitous timing. I need the spiritual boost this morning, to be sure. I had considered running to my parish for the 8 am Mass, and I really wish I had. Sigh.

Let me begin by writing about my weekend (somewhat more lighthearted) and then making my way to this morning. We could all use the levity, I'm certain.

We got some snow on Friday (just under a foot) but didn't have it nearly as bad at the further East Coast. My sister in Maine is still digging out. My dance class was cancelled and we spent the evening watching more of Downton Abbey. Which, I have to say, has been difficult to avoid spoilers for. This gap in the airing between the UK and the US is quite dangerous. *unhappy face*

Anyway, I digress. Saturday morning and afternoon were "just ok." The kids were all worked up and I was feeling oversensitive. Happens sometimes. Henry was slated to spend the night at his grandparents, so we had just Anne for the evening. It feels strange only wrangling one kid. The day looked up as we took her to the mall and did some shopping at Yankee Candle. We're big scented candle fans in my house.We had a coupon, so we stocked up for the remainder of the winter and spring.

We got home, watched another Downton and headed to bed. Anne had been snugly tucked into her crib for hours.

We get in bed and begin to chat. The sound of a barking dog permeates our bedroom. There are several dogs on our street, but it is rare to hear one barking like this, especially on such a cold night. Mike looks alarmed.

"Do you hear that dog?"

"I do, Sweetie."

"Why is he barking non-stop like that? Dogs shouldn't be out tonight, it's only 10 degrees."

"Yes, that's true, it's so rare to hear a barking dog outside on this street. Are you worried?"

"Yes. It's too cold."

We chat for a while longer, also discussing dinner for Sunday, which involved Mike travelling downstairs to take ground beef out of the freezer to thaw for meatloaf.

"It's been a half hour and that dog is still barking. I think it might be Oliver from next door. I'm going to go check it out."

Isn't he heroic? He gets dressed and hustles downstairs. I promptly fall asleep.

I am awakened by the unmistakable feeling of someone staring at me. I pop my eyes open. It's Mike.

"It's Oliver. He's in the backyard barking at the back door. I don't think Chris and Dina are home."

"Did you knock on their door?"

"No, that would have been weird."

"I don't think so. I mean, what can we do? We can't just go and take their dog if we aren't sure that they're not home."

"All right. Let's both go back. We can't leave him out there."

*martyr-like sigh*

I grab my robe to throw on over my nightgown which consists of red flannel with Scottie dogs decorating it. We hurry downstairs and bundle up.

Mike rings their front bell. No answer.

We both head right to the backyard. Oliver is where Mike left him, barking frantically to be let in. He has a clear conversation bubble over his head that says:

"WTF?! LET ME IN!!! Wait. Who the hell are *you people*?"

"Oliver, come here Sweetie."

*vicious barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark!!!!*

"It's ok Honey, you can come be warm in our kitchen. Come on..."

*snarl!* *bounding leap to the back of the yard* *vicious barkbarkbarkbarkbark!!*

Fantastic. He's usually a nice dog, he was just obviously in Protecting Backyard Mode, followed by being freezing and terrified. It had now been 45 minutes since we first heard him barking, and we likely just hadn't heard him previously because we had been watching t.v.

I creep forward. "It's ok Oliver..."

"Um. We're going to have some explaining to do. They just pulled up."

Ha! Our poor neighbors pull into their own driveway and here come Mike and I, in our pajamas, tromping out of their backyard.

"Hi. We were , um, just worried about your dog."

"Oliver! How did he get out?! Oh my goodness, thank you! He must have snuck out when he left, we've been gone for hours!"

So, all is well that ends well. Oliver is fine. Our suspicions were correct in that he wasn't supposed to be out and needed rescuing. The fact that we failed in aforementioned rescuing didn't seem to be important. We tried.

So that was the big excitement Saturday night. Sunday was extremely pleasant. Mass (in which Anne was an excellent girl), plans for Ash Wednesday (going for ashes with Anne at 4 pm, Henry will get ashes at school), some shopping, a nice meatloaf, more Downton Abbey, knitting. A good day was had by all.

This morning I had the regular Monday thing going on. It's extremely busy right now at work with teaching, and I was anxious to get in and prepare for a 9:30 am meeting. I also wanted to spend some time with my Marian consecration prayer and finalize my plans for Lent.

I'm driving in, listening a Catholic Weekend podcast from 2 weeks ago about the March for Life because I'm perpetually behind with podcasts. I stop at a red light. My cell phone vibrates.

Normally, I would ignore it, since I was driving, but as I was stopped at what I knew would be a lengthy light I pull it out of my purse to see if it's a new text from my sister. It's a phone call and it's from Mike. I immediately worry, since he would have known that I hadn't reached work yet and would only be calling about something important. I pick up.

"Hi Sweetie. I just saw on the news that the pope is resigning."

I was stunned. I mean, I shouldn't be. He's older than John Paul II was and we've known that his health has been declining in recent years. But I was still shocked. This is still a huge development in Catholic news and fairly uncommon.

I don't really know how I feel about it yet. I respect his decision, but I'm so sad to see him go. John Paul II was the only pope that I remembered for the first 30 years of my life, and now I will see 2 conclaves in 8 years. I have always liked Benedict XVI. I respect and admire him. Nobody can replace John Paul II in my heart, but I do love Benedict.

I'm anxious about who will be elected. I think things will be fine, but I can't help but be anxious. The unknown is always like that. It's going to be a powerful Lent, I think. It's just so soon! I'm not ready. But I suppose we never are.

*doe-eyed sigh*

Friday, February 8, 2013

Big snow storm brewing... YOU have enough yarn?!

I know I do. Whenever I'm snowed in, I want to make sure that I have:

(a) enough to knit;

(b) enough to read; and

(c) enough to watch.

We can't have ourselves being bored, now can we? Not that my children would ever allow that. Henry will pepper us with requests to play board games and throw a football around the living room (not happening) while Anne will just generally require our intervention to assure that no terrible fate befalls her.

This morning, she once again told me that she had to go potty. We travel to aforementioned potty. I prep her and she insists on getting completely naked. Although this is not technically necessary, I oblige her. I hand her the bottle of Elmo shampoo that she covets. And...

She refuses to sit down. When I try to encourage her to sit down, she won't bend her knees. Sigh. It's early, I know that there's no rush, but I guess I was secretly hoping for the "Easy!" button to be available on this one.

In other news, I make my Marian consecration on Monday and I'm excited. I may try to make it to daily Mass that morning. And I'll post early next week about my plans for Lent. Have a safe weekend everybody!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's official

(1) My kids are very cute. I mean, look at their little faces.

Actual Henry conversation from last night:

"If Mommy makes a special Valentine's Day dinner, Hank, what would you like it to be?"


"We just had pizza from the Super Bowl for the past 3 nights, try again."

"Mozzarella sticks."

"That's sort of the same thing. Something else? How about stuffed chicken?"

"NO! What about, you know, all sorts of stuff."

"What on earth does that mean?"

"You know, cheese and crackers and dips and stuff."


(2) After championing the potty for months, prompting me to buy her her very own little pink potty chair, Anne now hates the potty:


"Ok Sweetie, let's go upstairs to your potty."


*arrive at bathroom*

"Ok Honey, look! It's your very own potty, and it's pink with a little bear on it. Let's get your sleeper and diaper off."



"Here let me help you Sweetie, you're not making this easy."

*Anne struggles*


"I'll get you Elmo if you sit on the potty."

*Anne giggles*

"Ok, THERE!" *manage to finally bend Anne's knees* "Here's Elmo and you're on your potty!"


This is going so well.

(3) Felting is only fun if you *intend* to do it:

 *Mike and Tiffany fold laundry*

"Sweetheart." *holds up sweater that now falls in the vicinity of my belly button* "Did you put this in the dryer? I had it lying out to dry because it's wool."

*deer in the headlights expression*

"Well, but it was LOW HEAT, that should be ok, right?"

"Well, no, Sweetheart. Wool can never go in the dryer."

"But the socks you knit can go in the dryer and they're made of wool."

"That's *Superwash* wool darling. It's treated specifically so that it can go in the machine to wash and dry and not felt. Not all wool is like that."


That about sums it up. He felt really bad though. I'm sure that I can milk this to buy more yarn.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The value of community

I often think about a blog topic each morning as I drive in from home to work. It's a short ride, but I listen to Catholic podcasts while I go, and it will usually spur an idea. This morning, I was listening to a podcast in which the person was talking about adding in a simple morning offering prayer to his day. He is a convert, and mentioned that subleties that are second nature to cradle Catholics sometimes elude him. He hadn't heard of the traditional Catholic morning offering prayer before. I have a prayer card with the morning offering written on it in my office, but this cradle Catholic had fallen off the wagon with saying it. The offering in question is this one (or something very close to it):

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

This morning when I got into work, I located the prayer card and taped it the side of my computer monitor. It's a happy reminder to me to say the morning offering, but I found that it also reminds me how very grateful I am for our online/technologically advanced world these days. I'm a bit of an old fashioned curmudgeon in some ways (no smart phone, no tablet) and I find that I often secretly resent it when people pull those devices out when I'm trying to have a conversation with them. We can look up an item of information *later*, right now I just want to talk to them without an electronic device coming between us.

However, that aside, I truly appreciate and feel blessed by our modern ability to connect with others whom you may never physically meet that person in this life. The Catholic blogs that I read and podcasts that I listen to (my blogroll is up to date if you are interested; I ready each of those blogs every single day)? I feel like I *know* each and every one of those people. And I treasure that.

Ravelry is another source of joy to me, for the knitters and crocheters that I meet there. We are so lucky in that way. We are not limited by physical boundaries now in reaching out to communities of people with whom we share common interests.

Relatedly, I thought I would mention a blog and a mom that I've spoken of on here before. Back when I was pregnant with Anne, I lurked over at The Bump's May 2011 board. I found a woman on there who had a due date within days of mine, but who at 20 weeks of pregnancy received a dire diagnosis for her unborn son. He had a serious congenital heart defect associated with Downs Syndrome. My heart just broke for her. The doctors told her that her baby would die prior to birth. She held on to hope and carried him to term.

That baby is nearly 2 years old now, and he's doing great. I've followed the mom's blog ever since, which is Prayers for Mason. I love being able to keep up with the family and find out how Mason is doing.  She writes today a touching post about her new pregnancy (yay!) and the emotional weight she has carried in her heart worrying that this new baby would also suffer from a heart defect. This baby is a boy (they also have a son who is older than Mason, so this is baby boy #3!) and is in perfect health. Definitely check out her post.

So, to wrap it up for today, I'm feeling very joyful and hopeful. Challenges come up in life (some of which are on my heart right now, things going on in my life and in the lives of my family and friends) but our community of friends can help us to remain strong.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Headcovering Central

It's kind of shocking that I've had Downton Abbey Season 3 in my hot little paws since Saturday afternoon (yes, I stalked the mailman; it was waiting by our door as we got back from a public library run, otherwise I would have been p.r.e.t.t.y ticked off about him smoking a cigarette in his truck while my precious DVD's sat frightened and alone in the back....) and I have yet to blog about it. We're very much enjoying it, I'm just taking it all in and I don't want to spoil anybody that hasn't seen it yet. Rest assured, gentle reader, that I'm watching every episode with hawk-like attention to detail and I'm continuing to knit my Lady Violet Gauntlets and Lady Edith Shawl as I do so. Pictures to follow shortly. We've watched through episode 3 so far.

At any rate, I was thinking about Lent starting next Wednesday (!) and about what I'm going to be doing this year. I will devote a whole post to that in the coming week, but I've re-devoted myself to headcovering, and since somebody may want to try that out over Lent (I did, the first year that I started covering at Mass) I thought I would highlight the shops that I buy coverings from.

Headcovering is definitely a topic that elicits strong opinions, but you won't find one here. I do enjoy wearing a headcovering. Why? Honestly, I think they're very pretty. :) And I find that it helps *me* (doesn't apply to everybody, I understand) stay focused more during Mass. I think that it is a lovely way to show reverence, although many show their reverence in other ways.

Anyway, I digress. I have 3 Etsy shops to recommend. I could spend my entire entertainment budget on Etsy, I tell you.

(1) A Snood for All Seasons - Cam's shop features snoods in every color under the rainbow as well as convertible coverings (can be worn in a kerchief style or folded up as a headband). She has her stock divided up by color, so you can browse for your favorite hue to see what styles and fabrics she has available. I have 5 convertible coverings from Cam (2 cotton and 3 lace) and wear them often. I highly recommend her work.

(2) Happy Homestead - Melissa's stretchy lace headbands are just the best thing to ever hit my headcovering world. I LOVE them. In fact, I just ordered 2 more, inspired by this post. :) I justified a red and a pink headband, because you know, Valentine's Day is approaching.

(3) Liturgical Time - I've gotten to "know" :) Michelle this past year via her blog, and a kind and prayerful seller always enhances a headcovering shop in my mind. I haven't yet purchased one of her coverings, but her eternity veil is currently on my wish list and it's only a matter of time before this one makes it into my mailbox.

Lent's approach is a nice time to consider trying out wearing a covering to Mass. Mid-Februray is the ideal time for Ash Wednesday to my mind, I wish it fell this way every year. Mike thinks that Easter should be a fixed feast every year, the first or second Sunday of April. I too think that is ideal timing, but alas, I don't think our tradition with regard to the date of Easter will change. Next year it will be another early March Ash Wednesday which just feels so strange to me. But first we have Lent 2013. Can't wait to share it with you. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Successful Feast of St. Blaise

I've been taking Anne with me to Mass a lot more often lately, and as you might assume, this is quite a heroic act of valor on my part. It seems to be that ages 1-4 are the diciest for bringing children to Mass. I used to tote Henry to Mass with me every week pretty much since he was born, but with Anne I haven't been able to do that. She was napping a lot during my usual 10 am Mass slot Sunday mornings. As well, when I teach Children's Liturgy of the Word I obviously can't bring her unless Mike were there as well.

She has finally transitioned to taking only 1 daily nap (sob!) and thus is usually awake at Mass time. Therefore, if I'm not on Children's Liturgy duty, I bring her with Henry and I. I arm myself with a sippy cup of milk, some discreet crackers, and some books, and hope for the best.

It's actually gone pretty well. Henry still whines about "having to go to church," but him having his own missal has helped considerably. I just renewed his subscription to Magnifikid! magazine, that has been a huge blessing. Maybe in a year or two he can move to a regular children's missal, but for now the weekly format in Magnifikid! is working like a charm. I don't have to worry about him too much anymore at Mass, he behaves himself quietly. Anne on the other hand likes to climb everything and generally flirt with everybody in a 2 pew radius. No major meltdowns though with her yet (fingers crossed).

Yesterday being the feast of St. Blaise, we all got our throats blessed, including Anne. She looked quite suspicious of the candles, but otherwise didn't cause any trouble. She had been inconsolable prior to Mass, so I was worried, but was soothed only by being allowed to hold her St. John of Arc peg doll. I plead guilty to keeping her saint dolls up on the mantle so that she can't destroy them because I love them so much. But she did well with St. Joan. She clutched her and calmed down, and then was unwilling to part with her, so St. Joan accompanied us to Mass. I had to pull her head out of Anne's mouth a few times but she came out of the situation unscathed. Success.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A February welcome...

Many cite February as their least favorite month of the year. I've never minded February, mostly because my birthday is this month. I will grant, I no longer look forward to my birthday the way I used to since each year seems to mean that my visits to various doctors will get more and more depressing. But I've determined that obsessing over age simply isn't worth it. Life is short, we've always known this. If you worry too much, you can't enjoy the time that you do have. So I press on.

I will say one very big announcement about this particular February 1st:


Clearly, Amazon loves me and wants to please me. They also shipped Anne's potty and the Valentines books I picked out for both kids today.


I'm super excited for a Downton Abbey weekend, broken up by really good Super Bowl snacks. And a lot of Downton Abbey inspired knitting. I've begun yet another shawl (an early start on the Lenten shawl knit-along) to donate to the Theme Tray auction at Hank's school, so I've been working on that. Oh, and a pair of Valentine's socks for me, the yarn is smashing. I finished Henry's Finding Nemo socks:

Aren't they precious? I'm happy with the way they turned out. And since he still has small feet, I have a bunch of this yarn left to make at least one more pair of socks.

I envision a happy weekend ahead.