Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes {Take 2}

-1- This morning, Mike and I had the distinct displeasure of taking our children to have professional photographs taken, and trying to convince our daughter to cooperate in this endeavor.

"Anne sweetheart, why don't you come sit over here, next to Henry?"


I think that sums up the visit quite well.

This goes hand-in-hand with you trying to help her with anything, and getting the ever popular response of:

"ANNE do it!"

The independent, Terrible Two's are upon us.

-2- I had dinner last night with some Catholic girlfriends whom I met back when I moved back home after law school. We ruminated about how we had all discerned potential vocations to the religious life prior to getting married.

"In fact," remarked my friend Sarah, "I was pretty mad that I didn't have a call to the religious life. I mean, it would have made so much sense. What was God thinking?!"

I got a chuckle out of that, because which one of us hasn't asked God that question?

-3- I have a brand new veil to add to my arsenal of headcoverings for Mass, and this one is a true veil, rather than a headband or smaller kerchief style covering that ties under my hair like I usually wear. It's an eternity veil from the Liturgical Time Veil Shop, and I LOVE it. It has definitely taken some getting used to, since I do feel more conspicuous in it (nobody in my parish wears a headcovering besides me, save for a few older ladies wearing hats on occasion), but I figure it's good for me. The veil is absolutely beautiful, and I feel more recollected when I wear it.

I love how you can wear it as a scarf, and then pull it up when you want to be covered. The instant it arrived last weekend, I tore into the package and eagerly awaited Mass on Sunday. I slung it around my neck and packed Henry up. When we arrived, I left it alone until we slipped into a pew. Then I pulled it up over my head.

I see Henry looking around at the stained glass windows. Then he catches a glimpse of me out of the corner of his eye. He glances over, stares back forward, and then realizing that something has definitely happened that is totally new, he looks back over at me with abject curiosity. I say nothing.

"Mommy? Why do you have around your head?"

"It's a veil, Sweetie."


And then he asked no further questions, which I thought was pretty impressive. :)

-4- The other day I was listening to a podcast about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I knew a little bit about this devotion, but not nearly the depth of information that I learned that day. One of the things that the podcaster mentioned was a special consecration prayer to the Sacred Heart that you say each day. I was happily listening along in my car, making a mental note to look up the book on Amazon that she mentioned and mark it for potential purchase (The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: How to Practice the Sacred Heart Devotion, by Rev. John Croiset), when I glanced down at the pocket thing on the driver's side door of my car. It has all kinds of small prayer books shoved in there in case I stop off for Eucharistic Adoration, and I haven't weeded through it in ages. I noticed that one of them had looseleaf pages from old Magnificat magazines of saint profiles that I found touching. At a red light, I leaned down and picked up the book to pull those sheets of paper out. A prayer card fell out. I grabbed it, and I saw that the prayer was entitled "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I Commit This Day to You." Coincidence? I think not.

-5- The podcast that I referred to above is called "This Catholic Life" and I can't recommend it highly enough. Although the creator has ceased making new episodes since she's entering a Discalced Carmelite convent in mid-July, you can still download all 37 or so episodes that she did make. Her name is Channing Dale, and although I have never met her, I mourned her loss on Twitter when she disconnected from social media last week because I became so fond of her via this podcast. In each episode, she talks about what has been going on in her Catholic life since the last installment (and she taught RCIA, did youth ministry, went on pilgrimmages, all sorts of interesting stuff), features a Catholic devotion or Marian apparition, sometimes talks about a saint, and finishes with a prayer for the week. It's *wonderful*. If you search on iTunes for "This Catholic Life" you'll find it.

-6- In dance news, we've been busily working on balancing our candle trays, although so far all we've done is "tray" and no "candles." It's rather the pink elephant in the room, but we're all too scared to mention it. We'll get there, I suppose.

-7- It's nearly July, and you know what this means, right? Yep, time to think about Christmas crafting.

I know that Christmas is a long way away, but you need 6 months to fully plan and implement everything, so even though I'm still on a yarn diet, I have a cart over at Knit Picks full of red and green acrylic to make a tree skirt for our house, and a gorgeous cashmere blend to make something special for my special hubby. :) I've also got some bright cotton earmarked for kitchen gift sets, and superwash wool for baby and toddler sweaters.


Have a great weekend, everybody!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Looking for some summer reading? In the queue for your Catholic Book Club!

"Honey, if you're dropping off some books today at the public library, would you mind picking up a hold for me?"

"Sure, Sweetie, just leave your card."

"Ok! You'll spot it easily on the Holds shelf. It's a nun biography."

*amused eyebrow arch by my adorable husband*

"How do you manage to find so many books about nuns?"

How, indeed, but that's what I'm here for, good reader! Your Catholic Librarian hard at work.

As an aside, Mike and I are *such* book nerds. Shortly after we were married, we carved out an evening together to walk down to our local branch of the public library and apply for library cards. As in, we excitedly put the errand on the calendar, sort of like a *date*, and looked forward to it all week. Once we had our cards in hand, we lounged around in the uncomfortable chairs with piles of books to look over, and we glowed the whole time. When we got home, we busted out the cocktails and read our books, side by side. This is what we're dealing with here, folks.

So I thought I would make a list of the spiritual reading I have lined up for the next few months, in case you're interested in following my Catholic Summer Reading Plan. I'll, of course, review each book as I go in a Catholic Book Club post. As I post reviews, please do write comments if you also read the book, or plan to. You can also chat with me on Twitter, I'm on during business hours when I'm at work (and I'm in the Eastern time zone :)).

The book Mike is picking up for me today:

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows, by Mother Dolores Hart.

An actress who becomes a nun? Obviously that cannot go unread, gentle reader. This is a fairly new release, your local library may have it!

I am currently reading:

Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer, by Fr. Roderick Vonhogen.

This is available for pre-order only right now, I have a copy in my hot little hands because I am a book reviewer for Catholic Library World and they sent me an advance copy for review.

*blushes and feels special*

I am a huge fan of Fr. Roderick's podcasts, so I couldn't wait to start this one. Although I obviously cannot duplicate the lengthier review that I write for Catholic Library World here, I will definitely write a brief post on my reaction to it.

In the queue:

Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity and the Peace that Passes All Understanding, by Heather King.

I received this for Christmas, and have been dying to read it. I do so love modern spiritual memoirs.

Paths to Prayer: A Field Guide to Ten Catholic Traditions, by Pat Fosarelli.

I ferreted this one out on my Kindle last night in my excitement over yesterday's post on third orders. Religious orders are just so interesting, no? This is a guide to 10 major orders in the Church, a little about their founder and charisms.


I downloaded the free sample, got all excited, and plan to download the entire book just as soon as I finish up a few that I already own. *halo*

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, by Fr. James Martin, SJ.

This comes highly recommended by my sister, Shauna'h, who also bought me this copy for my birthday, and a glance through it has evidenced a very charming writing style. Looking forward to this one.

Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux, by Heather King.

I have to admit, I LOVE these types of books that chronicle the author following some sort of specific religious practice for a calendar year. I've read many of them. I've read the one where the author tried to live via all the Old Testament Jewish laws for a year, the one where the woman tried to live a year of "Biblical womanhood," a year in the life of a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and so on and so forth. I don't see why a year of St. Therese should be any different, sign me up!

In Him Alone is Our Hope: The Church According to the Heart of Pope Francis

This is a personal retreat of sorts, based on then Cardinal Bergoglio's talks surrounding the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I've had it on order from Magnificat for months, but they are way backordered. They promise that I am a valued subscriber and that it will be here soon. :)

 I'm certain that I will add to this list, but this is a start. Read along with me!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Catholic Nook: Third Orders

I've decided to start a new regular segment that you'll see featured on this blog every few weeks (like the Catholic Book Club) in which I'll discuss a Catholic devotion, tradition, or spiritual practice. You already know that I'm Type A, now you can see the fruits of my labors in the form of extreme blog organization. :)

I'm certain that I'll talk about devotions that you may have already heard of, but I want to make an effort to address things that you may know nothing to little about. It's always fun to discover new nuances in our very rich faith, so let's do this! :)

I was listening to a podcast this morning about scapulars on the way to work, and I thought maybe I'd address one or two of those that I had never heard of before (there is a lot more out there than just the traditional brown scapular; who knew?). In my research, I came across some interesting little factoids that led me in a completely different direction. I love when God works like that.

So I *did* know that some religious orders have their own scapulars, although I did not realize how many and how varied they are. Technically, scapulars are the long, draping pieces of fabric nuns and monks wear over their habits, and lay people can wear smaller versions that you wear around your neck and tuck under your shirt. The small ones we're used to seeing have specific images that have meaning to the particular order from which it originated.

I knew that the Dominicans have a white scapular (they have a black and white habit), so I thought maybe I'd look into writing about the Dominican scapular. I picked out the Dominicans because I am a Third Order Dominican. Wait, is this a big revelation?!


I've been a Third Order Dominican for just over 10 years. I'll talk more about my story below, but let me continue on my journey this morning for today's post topic lest I get off track. (snort!) My Google search led me to the third order Dominicans home page, and I thought, "oh, I should write sometime about how I'm a Third Order Dominican." My reading led me to the Dominican saints page, of which St. Catherine of Siena is always a featured member (and she was a member of the Third Order, NOT a nun, interesting no?) and I noticed that Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was also on the page.

*God-incident moment* I'm currently on day 2 of a novena to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati since his feast day is coming up at the beginning of  July. Emmy is hosting it over at Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer for anybody that is interested.

That sealed it. I knew that I should write about Third Orders.  So, what the heck are they?

Third Orders are lay members of a religious order. They do not live in community, but dedicate themselves to the charism of the order and usually meet regularly for prayer and helping out at the local convent/monastery where their chapter is affiliated. The members apply the order's spirituality to their specific vocation, whether it be to the married or single life. The major religious orders all have them: Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, etc.

There is generally a discernment process to become a Third Order member for a number of years prior to making a vow as a professed member. You learn about the order and practice whatever devotions that order is dedicated to. Then you make a vow to live as Third Order member for the rest of your life.

This was always very appealing to me. Once I knew that I wasn't called to be a nun, the thought of being a lay member of a religious order (which are so interesting with all of their different charisms, devotions and traditions) looked like a great opportunity. I called the 3 communities with Third Orders in my area once I returned home from law school: Franciscans, Dominicans and Carmelites. I figured I'd check them all out and then discern which I felt called to.

Before I even heard back from any of them, I had a clear favorite: the Carmelites. I'm devoted to many Carmelite saints, and the contemplative nature of their spirituality really appealed to my introverted side. Other people who like to keep silent and to themselves? That's the one for me! I also loved many Carmelite devotions like the brown scapular, the Infant Jesus, St. Therese's Little Way, and The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I never heard back from the Franciscans, not sure what happened there. But I did hear back from both the Carmelites and the Dominicans, who invited me to come to a Mass and Third Order meeting and see if I felt called to join them. I was thrilled.

My first stop was the Dominicans. There is a Dominican convent here devoted to praying a perpetual rosary, and indeed the rosary is a special devotion for all Dominicans. This I liked. Their chapel was absolutely beautiful, with a screened area off to the side of the altar through which you could see the cloistered nuns during Mass. And Mass, in the Ordinary Form, was very reverent. No Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion there, no sir. The entire congregation waited while the priest first distributed the Eucharist to the nuns via a small window in their grille, and then he (and only he) came to distribute it to the rest of the congregation, an altar boy holding a golden paten to assure that the Host did not accidentally fall to the floor. Just beautiful.

After Mass, the chapter gathers together, and my "potential Postulant mistress" was an older woman named Florence whom I'll never forget. The *sweetest* most enthusiastic Dominican you ever could meet. Her passion alone made me want to become a Dominican. I wasn't totally sure at the time, because, well, I was the youngest person there by A LOT. I wasn't sure if I "fit in" if that makes any sense. I did like the Dominican devotion to the rosary, to the Passion of Jesus (via the Sacred Heart, the Holy Name, and the Precious Blood), and to praying the Divine Office. The Dominicans are also known as the "scholarly order," including many voracious readers and philosophers. That fit me. But they are the "Order of Preachers" and I wasn't sure that fit me exactly. I did like a lot about the Dominicans, but I felt sure that my calling rested with the Carmelites.

And you know how it goes when you feel sure of something. It often does NOT work out the way you plan.

I went to visit the Carmelites. They had a similar setup to the Dominicans in that we attended Mass and then the chapter met. And holy smokes, the MASS. I mean, it's like comparing two spectacular diamonds to each other because Mass at the Dominican chapel was also so fantastic, but I've never been to a Mass during which I had the reaction that I did at the Carmelites. It's a beautiful chapel, to be sure, but the cloistered nuns are completely invisible to the congregation behind a shrouded black grille. But you can *hear* them praying and chanting, and my God, it was unforgettable. It lent this aura of mystery and sanctity to the whole experience that is incomparable. I was enraptured.

And the meeting afterward was great. All these years later, I don't remember much about it, but the people were nice and I left happy.

So, based on this, and given that I was already leaning toward the Carmelites anyway, one would have thought that I started studying to become a member of the Third Order Carmelites (called Secular Carmelites), right?

Wrong. :) I don't fully know what it was, but I kept going back to the Dominicans. I was being shepherded so lovingly by Florence and a man named Ron, who also did instruction for new members. I also finally met a prospective third order member who was my age, a woman named Rose who was convinced that God may be calling her to be a cloistered nun, whom I am still friends with to this day. And she's not a nun now, but a devout Catholic wife and mother. :)

I kept going back, and the more I learned, the more I liked the Dominicans. I wasn't yet thinking of becoming a librarian, but I was drawn to the Dominican love of reading and learning, and I realized that the call to be an Order of Preachers for lay people doesn't mean that you go looking for verbal confrontations with people; instead, you are called to be a quiet example with your life. Now THAT I can handle (or try to).

Next thing you knew, I was progressing in my training to become a Third Order Dominican. It just seemed to fit, and it felt right. I've never given up my love for the Carmelites, but I felt called to be a Dominican.

Ultimately, Rose and I both made vows as Third Order Dominicans, and she lives one street over from me. With the demands of young children, we haven't be able to make chapter meetings in some time (we both felt self- conscious bringing our rowdy toddlers with us to the *very quiet* Mass and meeting, but yet didn't want to leave the children out of Mass for that week) but I'm looking forward to getting back to the meetings eventually. In the mean time, I remain devoted to the Dominican charisms, it's very enriching.

And if any of this is interesting to you, I hope that you explore Third Orders in the religious communities near you. :)

*Photo courtesy of africa at

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scenes from a Catholic marriage

Over the course of the past few days, I've been ruminating on my vocation as a wife and mother. Like fine wine, those relationships have only gotten better with time. :) The commitment and the love was always there, but as time wears on I'm realizing how much my bond with both my husband and kids has matured and deepened.

Mike and I married eight and a half years ago. Thinking back on our dating life, it's hard for me to imagine that we forged a relationship toward marriage when we only saw each other a few times per week. We did not live together prior to marriage, we just got to know each other as best we could via old fashioned dates (and without social media, can you imagine? :) Although I decidedly do not envy anybody who has to change their relationship status on Facebook. *shudder*).

And I will always remember how I felt on our wedding day. It was so, so special. *Everything* felt different from that point forward, not just the obvious physical relationship. It is my firm belief that it was the grace of the sacrament, which permeated our relationship and has strengthened it day by day.

Although I always loved Mike (obviously), I can say without reservation that I love him now *so much more* than when we married. And it's not like our relationship was junky when we were just engaged; it's the graces we received on our wedding day that has made it possible for our love to grow like this.

Our marriage, like everyone's, is not perfect. Far from it. But we both value it, cherish it, and work hard at it. It's a blessing, to be sure.

And who couldn't love a husband like this one? Scenes from the real world:

"Have you heard anything about the new Superman movie, Sweetie? Lots of people on Twitter are talking about it."

"You know the new Superman is Henry Cavil, your boyfriend from when we watched The Tudors."

"Who? Wait! OHHHHHHH....that friend of Henry's!"


"Oh. Well, maybe we should made an exception to our usual wait for the Redbox and see it in the theatre" *acts casual*

*Mike arches eyebrow*


"Ok, with our setup in the guest room for this hot spell (a long story, but due to a circuit breaker problem and us having power sucking window a/c units) I'll sleep on the side closest to the door since I need to get up in the night to use the bathroom."

"I don't know Honey, that'll put me on the left side and you know that that is THE WRONG SIDE for me, right?"

"Well, otherwise I'll wake you when I get up. Let's try this, I'm sure it'll be fine."

8 hours later...

"How did you sleep?"

*Tiffany switches the pillows*

*Mike sighs*


"Honey, I'm SO EXCITED for the Catholic New Media Conference! There's a special votive Mass at the beginning, and on Sunday Shauna'h and I may go to Mass at the cathedral in Boston, and at the Tweetup I might get to meet Fr. Roderick and the people from Catholic Weekend, and..."

"I've never met anybody who can ferret out Catholic stuff more than you can. It's very cute."

A husband who uses the word "ferret"? *swoon*

The first thing that drew me to Mike nearly 11 years ago (besides how cute he is) was his ability to make me laugh. His easygoing personality and his infinite patience and support for my passion for my Catholic faith.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Catholic Book Club: My Sisters the Saints

...and we're off to a quick start on the Catholic Book Club. :) I actually read My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, by Colleen Carroll Campbell over the course of only 2 days, which certainly speaks well of its ability to engage.

I love spiritual memoirs, always have. But my favorites are the ones that really delve into the person's *story*. We all have one, and gosh darn it, they're all interesting! I honestly think anybody could have themselves featured on one of those 60 minute Biography channel specials and it would be fascinating. You just have to be willing to share personal details about your life, things that others can relate to. I don't enjoy memoirs that spend a lot of time theorizing on theological matters (a little is ok, but a lot? you should just write a theology book :)).

This book did a beautiful job of combining both things. The author sets the scene by describing herself one Sunday morning in her college apartment complex, feeling sick from drinking too much the night before, and observing the signs all around her of drunken debauchery. It's the beginning of a reigniting in her childhood Catholic faith that she never left behind but that had fallen to the back burner. Throughout her journey through life from that point forward she discusses a saint who came to mean a lot to her via whatever issue she was struggling with at that time. She begins with St. Teresa of Avila, whose writings stirred her soul and made her realize that although she still went to Mass, she had no prayer life to speak of.

Ultimately, she moves on to relationship woes (lots of apathetic Catholic men out there), major career decisions (she was a speechwriter for a time for former president George W. Bush), her decision to marry her husband, her cherished father's agonizing descent into Alzheimer's Disease, her and her husband's painful struggle with infertility. All the while, a saint makes herself known to the author and she realizes that this particular saint's story is a balm to her soul that she had not previously realized. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (lots of Teresas going on here :)), and Mary, our Blessed Mother.

The author weaves the saint's story into her own, and it makes for compelling reading. I've always wanted to write a spiritual memoir, and this book was so good my first thought was what a great idea she had on a unique spin for a memoir, why didn't I think of it first?! lol.

This is a great book, I couldn't put it down. It's a more accessible spiritual read rather than the actual saint's writings (where available), and it's very thought-provoking. I highly recommend it. I borrowed a copy from my public library, but it's also available at Amazon in hardcover, and for Kindle for $11.99.

Friday, June 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes {Take 1}

-1- I've never done this before, so I thought I would try. :) 7 Quick Takes are always compiled on Fridays, so look for these posts on other Fridays to come!

-2- I've been struggling with anxiety lately (snort! this is a lifelong endeavor, to be sure) and so I did a little research on the Patron Saint of Nail Biters and/or People Who May or May Not Have Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. I found a great list here of saints us excessive worriers can plead to for intercession. A few that are on the list: St. Dymphna, St. Jude, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Padre Pio, St. Henry II, St. Juan Diego.

-3- Knit Picks is having a huge summer yarn sale and I'm not partaking. I want you to know that I think I should be canonized for this effort. They've got some beautiful wool on sale, and...WHY AM I STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS?!

-4- I have been knitting away lately. I'm working on a shawlette for myself out of the special edition colorway yarn I bought last summer dedicated to the London 2012 Games. It's a variegated colorway in the colors of the Olympic rings. I'm also attempting argyle socks for the first time (ambitious! pink and green, they're adorable, I just hope they fit) and I've been working on a summer top with a colorwork yoke in a garden-y theme.

-5- In spiritual reading, I plucked off of my bookshelf a book that my sister got me last year that I haven't read yet, which is The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, by Fr. James Martin, SJ, and I'm stopping at the public library on my way home today to fetch My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, by Colleen Carroll Campbell. I will report in on them, and how they're impacting my spiritual life, as I read.

-6- My kids are getting so big:

-7- Ok, the big news was saved for last, but you may have seen this if you follow me on Twitter. My library is allowing me to attend the Catholic New Media Conference this year, sponsored by SQPN, which is in Boston in October. I'M SO EXCITED I JUST ABOUT PEED MY PANTS WHEN I FOUND OUT. I normally hate attending conferences, but this is obviously different since it's of personal meaning to me. The bonus is that my sister lives not too far from Boston and is also attending. Girls night, here we come!! And we may meet SQPN's Fr. Roderick, THIS WILL BE EPIC!! Should Fr. Roderick come anywhere near our vicinity, we will demand a picture with him and I *will* post it to this blog. Couldn't you just die?! I am a *huge* fan of his. If anybody else is going, please let me know, because we can meet up!!

Visit Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lots of Catholic "stuff" brewing over here...

Thanks to everybody who left a comment yesterday in support of me, that means so much! It was kind of a sh*#!@ afternoon, and I really needed that boost. Boost received and accepted!

And so, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about this blog, and about my "Catholic life," if you will. Am I doing what God wants me to do in my faith? I'm certainly trying. But am I listening hard enough?

I've always seen this blog as a ministry, of sorts. Through the years, I've grown as a Catholic and as a writer, and I've developed a small following, whom I appreciate beyond measure. :) I have 42 beloved registered members of the blog, but I know that there are also others that read it regularly, and/or pop in from time to time, because I do see some traffic. It's modest, but I never thought I was going to become the Next Big Thing. :) If anybody out there is reading what I write (and I love to write) then I'm a happy Catholic Librarian.

But this blog's 5 year anniversary is coming up this fall. :0 How on earth did that happen? I suppose it's also how my son is now 7 and I have lots of lines around my eyes when I smile. The joys of nearing 40.

This has also been very much a "slice of life" blog, and that won't change. That was always how I saw this blog, and it's name reflects that. I write about my daily life, good things and bad. I write about my work life and my home life, my spiritual life and my private life. But I was thinking that maybe it's time to add something new in. One of the ideas I came up with recently was to feature a different Catholic devotion every so often. Maybe every 2 weeks? Very traditional devotions, but things that people may not know a lot about.

I was also thinking of reviewing more Catholic books, sort of a "book club" of sorts. When I ruminated the other day about picking up more intensive spiritual reading I started browsing over at the Kindle store for some Catholic classics. I made a quick realization: although there is certainly a ton of great stuff out there that I should still read, I do already *own* a LOT of Catholic books. I mean, a LOT. I am a librarian, after all. And yes, my print books are roughly shelved by category.

I don't have a ton of what I would call "classics" (although I do have a few), but I do have a lot of more contemporary Catholic non-fiction. I should READ it. And I will report back to you all on what I'm learning from them. That seems like a very Catholic Librarian-y thing to do.

So, I'll pick that back up next week. Does anybody have any suggestions for what you would like to see me write about? Please do leave a comment. :) I get so excited when I see new comments, you have no idea.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Catholic...belly dancer? It's a modesty post, settle in folks!


You know, the older I get, the more comfortable I get with myself, I've written about this before. I'm certainly far from perfect, but I am who I am, and I enjoy what I enjoy. I don't take it *as* (gentle snort) personally when somebody doesn't like something about me or something that I care about.

And so, the fact that I am a (fairly conservative) Catholic, who takes her faith very seriously, who attends Mass as often as she can and wears a head covering while doing so, who also belly dances is, you know, *eclectic*. I'm certainly not unaware that people are often surprised to find that I'm a belly dancer, but I like to think of myself as a Belly Dance Ambassador.

I'm sorry, good reader, but if you're still reading you're now in for The Spiel. Belly dance is NOT stripping. It is a cultural, and perfectly acceptable, dance form. It is *family friendly* and G rated. It is feminine and beautiful, and is NOT in existence to provoke lust.

Dance involves moving your body, there's sort of no way around that. And costumes, by necessity, for all dance forms, are designed to showcase your body and the dance. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

Are there dance costumes out there (including belly dance ones) that I deem to be immodest? Yes, there are. Very high slits, super short skirts, and cut-outs come to mind. However, I do not think that bare bellies are, by default, immodest. I'm certain that there are people that disagree with me on this, but this is my opinion.

And I think that we come round on this belly dance angle in the exact same way that we do on all modesty discussions: where does simply "being beautifully modest" end, and "you must wear a potato sack lest you tempt men with your body!" begin?

There are LOTS of opinions out there on this issue, to be sure. And I've received some of them, which is why I'm writing this post. Dialogue is good, no?

I am a devout Catholic, and I am a belly dancer. I post photos of myself belly dancing because I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. Is being a Catholic not compatible with being a belly dancer who bares her belly? I, of course, think that these two things are not mutually exclusive.

Maybe I'm not your average Catholic girl. But I am ME. Belly dance has given me so much and I don't want to hide that. I don't think that being Catholic means that I have to hide my dancing under a bushel.

I figure that if you read this blog you accept me for who I am. And I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A candle tray update, and my *real* last Children's Liturgy session...

I forgot that I promised an update on how my first night of candle tray balancing went. I'm happy to report that it *wasn't* a disaster; sometimes life really does surprise you. :)

For some reason I thought that it would be *more* difficult to balance a tray than it is to balance a sword. I'm basing this on my one attempt to balance a shamadan (traditional Egyptian wedding dance wherein one balances a candleabra), now THAT, gentle reader, was a disaster. Somehow having something covering more circumference on my head made the item less stable. But that was actually not the case with a tray. It balanced with no trouble at all and was quite easy to keep on while dancing. We haven't yet put the candles on them yet, but we're getting there.

I will say that although the sword is more difficult, the nice thing is that you can adjust it without having to touch it simply by angling your head. With a tray, adjusting means physically doing it with your hands, and given that it is so much lighter than a sword, the chances of you having to adjust it are greater. So, those are the pros and cons.

But it really, seriously went well. So well that the entire group is going to be balancing a tray rather than just a portion of us. And we're going to come out holding the trays, and then balance them on our heads while shimmying. Don't you just love bellydance? Something new and fun every day. :)

So that was Friday. Sunday morning I had one final Children's Liturgy of the Word session to run, since the DRE asked me and I am fond of her. I prepared by compiling a few Father's Day appropriate saints stories (Bl. Louis Martin and St. Joseph) and getting some questions together relating to the Gospel theme for the day on forgiveness. I was ready.

So imagine my disappointment when my cast net only reeled in 2 fish. :) Yes, that's right, the smallest Children's Liturgy crowd that I've ever had, and ironically, it was the 2 older boys that sometimes misbehave and made me reconsider my call to this ministry to begin with.

And...they were great, really. They got a little antsy toward the end, but who wouldn't? They were good sports about the whole thing and I told them so. So my year with the Children's Liturgy of the Word program ended very, very well. I got everything tidied back up after Mass and left feeling peaceful.

The whole thing has gotten me to thinking: what ministry is God calling me to now? I really do want to continue to volunteer in my parish, I just feel like I need a change. The summer is a good time to figure this all out since many of the ministries are dormant over the summer months and resurface come fall. So I'll be praying about it and keeping my eye on the bulletin.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A very Catholic Father's Day weekend

Well, we ended up running ourselves ragged this Father's Day, just like Mother's Day, visiting both fathers and wrangling the children, but it honestly turned out pretty well (certainly better than Operation Mother's Day which resulted in an Anne temper tantrum that may mean we can never return to that brunch restaurant again). Although Mike and I agree that we would LOVE to find a way to just celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day at home next year. Not sure how that will be possible, but one can dream.

On Saturday though, I took Henry to a Marian shrine that is about 45 minutes from our house by car. Anne was home napping with Mike. I thought about bringing her, but then remembered the following:

She has officially entered the Terrible Two's, meaning that she (a) throws frequent temper tantrums, and (b) finds sitting in her stroller for long stretches to be absolutely abhorrent. Combine (a) and (b) and you get (c) a very flustered and sweaty Catholic Librarian. Not the peaceful shrine trip I'm longing for.

So I waited until she was napping, then packed Henry up and headed out. I listened to my podcasts as we drove (now that I use Twitter so much, I unconsciously go to stick a hashtag next to everything, in this case #SQPN) and we arrived to an idyllic scene. The weather was gorgeous, and there was a rosary procession, statue of Our Lady perched on this little portable dais, just forming out by one of the fountains.

I told Henry that we could do anything there that he wanted to, and the first thing he wanted to do was climb to the top of the church. Sigh. There's a giant statue of Mary up there, and loves to climb up to it. That's fine, but I would have rather not done it *3 times* which is what we ended up doing. Great leg workout, this pilgrimmage.

We also went exploring in the wooded part of the property and found countless saint statutes and an outdoor chapel. Going into the church and lighting a candle is absolutely mandatory for Henry, and then of course, we had to go to Mecca: the gift shop.

My son loves Catholic "stuff." You know, tchotchkes. We acquire a small new saint statue every time we go, as well as a motley assortment of prayer cards, medals, bookmarks, rosary cases and Catholic paraphernalia for one's automobile that somehow end up totaling approximately $50. I never mind this, although I do try and keep his wish list down to a dull roar. I always toss stuff for myself into our basket (Bl. John Paul II bookmark and matching medal anybody?), and gifts, so I can't complain. Anne was the recipient of a laminated Mary prayer card with encased medal that she now insists upon bringing to bed with her. The *instant* we returned back home, Mike's visor medal of St. Michael broke, and we could have so easily replaced it at the gift shop, blast! But we had a good time. Henry's chosen saint statue this time was St. George, always a fan favorite, especially with the dragon.

It was lovely.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Of Father's Day and precariously balanced candles...

Guess who got talked into doing one last session of Children's Liturgy of the Word for the year?


That's right. But I'm looking forward to it, and my new obsession with Twitter is already reaping benefits. I put a call out for saint story suggestions tying in to Father's Day, and received back the excellent suggestions of St. Joseph (duh, why didn't I think of that?) and Bl. Louis Martin, father of St. Therese of Lisieux. How awesome is that? Good stuff.

I may also take the kids to a Marian shrine this weekend that is about 40 minutes away from us, making it a Very Catholic Weekend. Hank loves it there. We'll see.

In other news, I am officially a candle tray balancer for our new troupe choreography. This has the potential to go very poorly considering I've never actually balanced a tray before, but I'm cautiously optimistic. We're going to start the choreography tonight and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

In an important caveat, we're not going to be using real candles, ha! Many venues, actually, won't allow you to use lit objects as props. We're going to use those battery operated "candles", so things will be much safer. It's just a short balancing segment at the beginning of the number, and apparently one of my troupemates is going to be placing a candle on my tray, yay! This is going to be so much fun. I will report in on Monday with whether or not I made a complete spectacle of myself.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

An evening with a toddler

*I walk in the door after work*

"Hi Honey! Did you have a nice day with Daddy?"


We're off to a roaring start.

"She's been in a mood all afternoon." This is reported by Mike, my heroic husband.

"Do you want me to hold you, Honey?"

*Anne throws self on floor*

Oh sigh.

Thereby follows several temper tantrums and a refusal to eat dinner. Much sobbing commences.

In an effort to distract her, we take her outside. She quickly retrieves a small shovel and says she's going to dig for worms. Well ok, then.

"Find the worms!"

"Yes Honey, we can look for some worms."

"Kiss that worm!"

"I don't think you're going to want to kiss the worm, Honey. "

"Hug that worm!"

"We'll see, Darling. Oh look! Here's a worm, see?"

*kissing noises permeate the backyard*

Well, at least she settled down.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 is your Year of Faith going?

Before I get started, thank you to everybody that answered my call for company on Twitter. :) I see Cam over there now, as well as some others, and I'm really having a good time with this and hope that I continue to meet more people there. Please do reply to my Tweets over there or send me a message! I'd love to talk to you.

Ok, so my increased involvement at Twitter has had a very good spiritual side effect. During the day, I'm thinking more and more about Catholic things that I see on there. Prayers, events, news items. And a few people recently mentioned the Year of Faith. That, combined with the unfolding vocation story that I mentioned in the past week or so of the young woman I follow on Twitter (@ChanningDale) that is entering a Carmelite monastery in a month, has gotten my little mind whirling. (Definitely check out her podcast for as long as it's still available, she discusses her vocation story in depth on there. You can find it on iTunes as "This Catholic Life.")

How well am I doing living out my vocation? And what have I been doing to fully embrace this special Year of Faith? Those two questions have been on my mind this week.

Mike teases me that he's glad that I sacrificed being a nun so that he could marry me. :) But how well am I doing in my vocation as a wife and mother? It's always important to evaluate that and not take it for granted that marriage is in fact a vocation, not just a lifestyle choice. I felt called to marry Mike, and we both felt strongly that we were called to welcome children into our marriage. That part was very easy, really. It's the day-to-day stuff that I know that I struggle with, as I'm sure most people do. I'm very happily married and I love my children, but am I the best wife and mother that I could be every moment of every single day? The simple answer is no.

So here is where the Year of Faith ties back in. Do I take advantage of what the Church has to offer me to boost me spiritually in my vocation? In many ways yes, but of course I could always be reaching out more. I frequent the sacraments. I pray daily. But have I done anything special this year to maximize the Year of Faith that the Church has set up for us to benefit from?

It's interesting, but as I look back on my year (the liturgical year, that is) I would say that my spiritual life has in fact been more vibrant. I've been putting more into it, and although I'm far from attaining the way of perfection :) I'm getting more out of it. And it definitely corresponds with when the Year of Faith began.

I had a particularly nice Advent this past year, and then shortly after Christmas I did the consecration to Jesus through Mary via the book 33 Days to Morning Glory. That Marian consecration, in hindsight, seems to me to have been a quiet leviathan in my spiritual life. At the time, no fireworks were shot out or anything, but when I look back I'm astounded by how much I've been ardently working on my spiritual life since then and trying harder to be more patient in my vocation as compared to before. I attribute this directly to the consecration.

I read the other day that we're approximately 6 months into the year of faith. So it seems an appropriate time to take stock.  I feel very happy in my faith life right now, but I'm not getting a halo anytime soon, I'm still very much in need of grace. So, what else could I do to grow closer to God?

I need to keep up with daily Mass as often as I can. I haven't made it yet this week, so I'm going to prioritize that tomorrow (the feast of St. Anthony of Padua!). I'd also like to start slowly (sigh) reading through some Catholic classics since I haven't read most of them. I'm terrible about deep theological reading. I have read Introduction to the Devout Life (a very accessible read) and The Story of a Soul (also lovely). But I haven't read any other major work of a saint or Church Father. This Catholic librarian needs to get busy, clearly. There are *tons* of these available for next to nothing on Kindle. I'll update you on my progress.

I'll leave you with an amusing anecdote. Right around the time Mike and I got engaged, my good friend Rose and I (who was soon to be engaged but also had nun longings like I did) decided to go on a retreat to discern whether we were in fact following God's will for our lives. We found this remote retreat place for laypeople run by a group of monks a few hours drive away. You could rent a small cabin and there was a chapel on the grounds as well. It was in the woods, so lots of time for prayerful contemplation.

Now, we're city girls. Definitely not what you would call "rustic." We did know that there was no indoor plumbing, and that the heat source was a wood burning stove. We thought we were prepared.

We arrived, filled our jug with water and proceeded to our cabin. We managed fine during the day. I don't even remember what we ate, but we had come prepared. The no running water thing was a bit of a challenge, but we persevered. I held my breath a lot in the outhouse and felt very Pioneer Woman. We went to the chapel and prayed.

Then night fell. Not having grown up in the country, I wasn't really prepared for how DARK it gets at night. Everything was fine until one of us needed to use the facilities and went out back to the outhouse with a flashlight. Discovery of a spider as large as our hands now present in the outhouse was immediately reported to the other. A mutual decision was made that further use of the outhouse simply wasn't possible. Whereupon the heavy cover of darkness became, let's just say, quite indispensable.

Next came our preparations for bed. We loaded some wood into the stove thing, got it lit, and settled in for some spiritual reading. All was well. We drifted off to sleep.

I awoke with a start, noticing that I was quite warm. I'm not sure what had happened, but it had become so hot in our cabin that I had a hard time seeing Rose on the other side of the room since the air was so wavy. I immediately pop open the windows and checked the time. It seemed like we'd been sleeping for a long time.

We'd been sleeping for maybe 30 minutes.

I woke Rose so that we could be sure and not asphxiate to death. We got the stove situation righted and tried to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned a lot.

The next day, we got up for Mass and were faced with a crisis about the spider-infested outhouse. With the light of day, we obviously had no choice but to use it, and we felt that our time in purgatory should be reduced due to our heroism.

I look back on that time with much fondness. The friends that I made after I came back from law school have been so wonderful.

I can't go on a retreat right now, but perhaps I can create a "home retreat" with some solid spiritual reading. I will let you know how things go. :) But I'm thinking spiders won't be involved this time...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Come talk to me on Twitter!

I wrote a few months ago about my budding love affair with Twitter, back around the time of the papal conclave. I like it much better than Facebook in many ways. Facebook, for me, is where I go to keep up with family and friends that I don't get to see as often as I'd like, and where I keep in touch with my dance community on a regular basis. But I don't post there much anymore except photos. I find that I don't enjoy the dialogue that results, most of the time.

But on Twitter that just doesn't apply. Everything is much more informal. Around the Conclave, I found myself checking in a lot, because it was so easy to connect with other Catholics talking about it. I like how you can follow people so easily on Twitter, people that you don't know at all but you share mutual interests. There are no hurt feelings surrounding follows or unfollows, it's all a big free-for-all. I kind of love it.

And so since then, I have found myself logging in everyday and checking in on Twitter. I also post on there, daily. I'm learning all sorts of newfangled things about hashtags, retweets, and interacting with people on there. Although my following is still very small, over the course of the past several weeks I have gained some followers, including Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life (I about peed my pants when I saw that one, I was so excited #nerdCatholic).

So, today I made the decision that I'm really enjoying Twitter and I want to be able to interact with people more on there. Other Catholics, dancers, knitters, moms, all interested parties. I've started following more people and I've "met" some people that way. We're getting there.

But I finally did today what I've been meaning to do for YEARS, which is change my Twitter handle. Back when I signed up for Twitter, I didn't actually use it on a regular basis, and chose this clunky username that was too personally identifying with my full name (for my comfort, at least). So, I'm all set, and I'm now:


I've set up the widget on the main blog page whereby you can see my Tweets and click over there if you want to talk to me. :)

So...come talk to me! I really want my presence on Twitter to be not just me taking in information from other people, but actually interacting with those that care about the same things that I do. If you've never used Twitter, come check it out. You may like it.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Exploding diapers and Church bashing: a weekend tale...

Well, it was an interesting weekend, to be sure. I didn't write on Friday because I was home sick and was feeling quite poorly. It's just a cold, but I was SO run down and congested on Friday that I knew I needed to just stay in and rest. Of course, I did go to Mass in the morning for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but I kept to myself and refrained from shaking anyone's hand at the sign of peace. :) The sign of peace is a very awkward exchange for us introverts anyway.

At any rate, I stayed in otherwise on Friday and did nothing except look after Anne and change a poo explosion diaper that was so vast in its ferocity that I had to implement "Poos of the Apocalypse Survival Tactic #9 - Immediate Strip and Hose-down." With Anne stark naked and sobbing in the bathtub, I had to just splash her off for a bit lest a definite raw sewage situation overtake the bathtub.  After the worst of it had been washed away, I filled the tub to let her soak and do a complete wash down. Afterward, I still found poo (a) in her hair, and (b) underneath my fingernails.


Anyway, I survived, and so did Anne. On Saturday, we had some family over for dinner from out of town. And during the course of the after-dinner conversation, I found myself in one of those quandaries: when is the right time to defend the Church, and when is it better to keep ones mouth shut lest you anger people?

I wasn't at the dining room table (where the conversation took place) when it happened; I was in another room talking to Hank, so that seriously impacted my ability to interject anything. But it went down like this, and I think this is a very common thing:

"So what did you think of the bishop's letter that the priest read during Mass today?"

The governor of New York is expected to sign a bill soon that would expand access to abortion, particularly late term abortion. Our bishop asked that all priests in our diocese read his letter condemning this bill in Masses this past weekend. It was read at our Saturday vigil as well.

"Yeah, I thought it was fine. It was good that he did that."

So far so good.

"You know, I went to confession last week for the first time in 40 years."

Even better! Things are going great! I know that other present family members do not put much stock into the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so I'm hoping that this testimony may get them thinking about things. 

Let's bask in this moment, dear reader, because it was the high point of the conversation. :)

"Well, I didn't go for so long because I was doing (sin inserted here; even though the person in question named it, it doesn't feel right to reveal it here), and I knew I was going to keep doing it, so what was the point?"

"Yeah, well, you tell the sin to the priest, and he gives you a Hail Mary or whatever to say? What good does that do. Confession is just bull*#@!"


"Why do they even make the kids do confession anymore before First Communion?"

My husband interjects: "Well, it's because Catholics believe that confession cleanses you from sin. And you should be without sin if you're going to take communion."

*CATHOLIC LIBRARIAN PUFFS CHEST UP WITH PRIDE* Even my non-Catholic husband can converse in an orthodox manner about the sacraments. I chose well!

"Well, whatever. The Church is so behind on so many things. I mean the Rhythm Method? You know what they call people who use that, right? Parents!!" *joke-maker inserts proud-of-self laugh here*

 At that moment, I was fielding First Communion questions from Hank in the living room: "Mommy, I'm confused. Is communion really like you're eating Jesus' *skin*?" So I had my hands full. I thought it would be kind of weird to cut Hank off and suddenly leap into their conversation and tell them how wrong I knew they all were. But then I felt guilty for staying silent.

It was a quandary, gentle reader. Given the circumstances, I think that I did the only thing I could. But let me tell you, I was feeling a bit miffed about the whole thing. I really don't need my faith (which I don't think is a secret that it's extremely important to me) mocked in my own home. The confession thing was prickly enough, but the *Rhythm Method*? Those are fighting words. It did create a nice conversation between Mike and I later as we debriefed, and I was so proud of him for explaining the Catholic position.

It was quite a weekend, I'm still recovering, both physically and emotionally. :) But I persevere.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A knitting update, and learning to crochet

Today I thought I would report on my restorative session with Anne's heart cardigan last night, and some notes on learning to crochet, since Allison asked about it. Let's get started!

So, the knitting backward on Anne's cardigan wasn't NEARLY as horrible as I thought it was going to be. And please, let us all pause for a moment of silent prayer in thanksgiving for the fact that I didn't have to knit backwards with yarn that was double stranded. I may never have knit again.

*dodged a bullet*

Since the yarn is a bit thicker than one usually uses to knit lace, undoing the stitches, even the decreases, was fine. I'm pleased to report that the deformed hearts have been eradicated and cute, new hearts were knit in their place. I also re-inserted the stitch markers, and I'm just going to have to live with them.

In other crafting news, Allison asked about learning to crochet. I learned so long ago that I don't have any recent items to suggest that I have actually tried, but I did poke around a bit. If I were learning today, I would purchase this highly reviewed book on Amazon:
I looked through the free preview and was impressed, and buyer comments were good. It covers the basics, plus some intermediate and advanced stuff, all with color photographs and some patterns to practice on.

And I would search at YouTube for "learn to crochet." It's a real goldmine over there. I always go on YouTube to look up knitting or crochet techniques that I haven't come across before, and every single time I find a video that helps me. I'm a very visual learner, and videos really do it for me.

Once you learn to chain, double crochet, and to decrease (all covered in the book :)) you can make the Cottontail Dishtowels that I showed yesterday. The pattern is free here, from Lion Brand. Note that to access the pattern you do have to sign up for an account with them, but it is all free.

I used their Recycled Cotton yarn to make the towels, in the recommended colors. Although any kitcheny cotton in worsted weight will do, this is a lovely yarn for the project. It is stocked at JoAnn's. :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adventures in knitting lace...

So, I'm making this cardigan for Anne, which I have a strong sense of foreboding will be *very ill fated*, but I'm trying to ignore that right now, and the pattern is for a heart lace. Anne loves hearts, so I was really excited about making this cardigan for her.

It's for a newborn, but the designer notes that a knitter could size it up for a toddler by using heavier yarn and larger needles. Done.

Well, I'm trying to be a very good girl (*halo*) and use the yarn that I already own in my stash rather than ordering more, but I really wanted the cardigan to be either pink or purple, just given the heart theme. And unfortunately, I didn't have any girly-hued yarn in my stash in the necessary weight  AND in the needed quantity. I needed worsted weight pink, but I *did* have some sport weight pink acrylic that fit the bill. I figured I could double the yarn up and it would equal a worsted weight. No problem.

 Well. Right away, I could see that the fabric was coming out a lot thicker than I expected. It's a top down sweater, and even in the garter stitch yoke the *thickness* was really coming through. Instead of a worsted weight, I was getting more of a bulky weight gauge and texture. I wasn't crazy about that, but did the Catholic Librarian *listen* to the angel on her shoulder? SHE DID NOT. (Please refer back to the post about the red velvet cupcakes a few weeks ago for a further example of how I never learn my lesson.)

I pressed on. Stranding the yarn doubled resulted in lots of annoying yanking from the skein, but I ignored that too, happily awaiting the coming lace pattern.

Aforementioned lace pattern arrives. I begin to knit. It quickly becomes clear that (a) the doubled yarn is making the lace far too bulky to be attractive, and (b) the cardigan will be far too large to fit Anne.

*long suffering sigh*

After consultation with my fabulous knitting group, I decide to rip the cardigan back and knit it with a single strand of the existing sport weight pink acrylic. It appears to be a generously-portioned sport weight, resembling a worsted weight upon close inspection. I re-size my needles down accordingly.

The actual ripping back, gentle reader, was not a pretty sight. It resulted in twin piles of angry yarn tangles in my lap that I fought with and swore at. I TOLD it that if it didn't behave I was going to get the scissors, but DID IT LISTEN?! It did not. The scissors came out with a vengeance. Mangled yarn was thrown triumphantly into the trash can. Now I'm worried that I won't have enough yarn to knit the entire sweater, but was that important in that moment? Decidedly not. THAT'LL FIX YA.

I re-started. The yoke flew by, and the texture is SO much better. I was a little worried at first that now it was going to be too *small* to fit Anne, but a quick fitting with a squirmy Anne eased my fears. It looks like it will fit. Now onto the lace.

Ok, now see? I *wanted* to use stitch markers. (If this sentence isn't an ominous sign in knitting, I don't know what is). But the pattern has one row that is different from the rest, and so any placed stitch markers between section repeats had to be volleyed every time I came to that row and it was making me crazy. I was more comfortable with the pattern by that point and so I took them out. I could see the hearts forming and figured that if I made a mistake, it would become apparent right away and I could fix it. The sleeve separation was a bit dicey, but after quite a bit of research on Ravelry, things went swimmingly.

Everything was fine UNTIL last night. Here, dear reader, is where you can learn a lesson from someone else's mistake. What should you NEVER combine with knitting lace? Spotlight, please:

(1) Watching the latest episode of Mad Men with your husband, and

(2) Drinking 2 glasses of Chardonnay.

I was being careful, but don't we all feel OH, SO CAREFUL! when we're tipsy? Admit it, we do. Next thing you knew, my stitch count was off and I had deformed hearts taking up residence on Anne's sweater. What is a girl to do? The possibilities, in my very Chardonnay-influenced state of mind:

(1) Throw the entire sweater into the garbage, including every last bit of that *freaking* pink yarn. By this point, I'm sick to death of the thing, and I've barely gotten past the sleeve separation. Maybe this is just one of those "bad projects" that has offended the knitting karma and I should just release myself from it's painful oppression. This was at the top of my list last night.

(2) Pull the needles out, rip the pattern back several rows, and attempt to re-insert the needles back at a point where the pattern is still correct. This my friends, is what we call, The Crocheters Mistake. Long before I was a knitter, I was a crocheter, and ripping back in crochet is SO, so simple. Rip your little heart out, get back to troublesome spot, fix said spot, crochet on. In knitting? Not so much. Especially with lace where you have all of these deliberated-inserted holes called yarn overs. Picking those back up with your needles? Next to impossible. People that knit a lot of lace insert something called a "lifeline" in their work for a reason. It's a strand that you knit in a a point where you know the patterning is correct. If you make a mistake further up, you can always rip back to the lifeline and pick the stitches up. Did I have a lifeline, you ask? Of course not. Ripping the lace back without one is pretty much project suicide. I considered it anyway.

"Sweetie, don't you think maybe you should just put it down for the night?" asks my reasonable husband, who has seen me in his predicament many a time before.

"NO!" Because I'm very unreasonable when I get into these predicaments.

Thankfully, after some further soothing, I *did* put the sweater away for the night, and in the morning solution (3) dawned as very doable,

(3) Un-knit the last 4-5 rows to remove the deformed hearts, and then continue on with the sweater. This isn't a quick solution, but it WILL fix the problem and it means that I can salvage all of the good hearts that were born prior to last night. It'll probably take me 1-2 evenings to undo the bad lace, but I know I'll be happy that I did in the end.


At least all is not lost in that I do still manage to sometimes produce salvageable finished objects. :) This is the result of Lion Brand's spring KAL for the Tranquil Tank Top:

And I made this shawlette for a friend's birthday who loves blue:

I crocheted my grandmother some kitchen towels (one of my favorite free patterns ever) and a soap sock:

Never a dull moment in the crafting life...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What I do with an evening to myself...

Mike was out watching basketball with a friend last night, and both children were tucked into bed. What does the Catholic Librarian do with such heady power as to reign supreme over her very living room?

(1) Watch The Journey Home. Certainly the most edifying part of the evening, I haven't indulged in my love of EWTN in quite some time. Occasionally I'll put it on while I get dressed in the morning, but when I lived alone I used to watch Life on the Rock, The Journey Home, and Mother Angelica Live with abandon. Now, I'm sharing one (and a half, really, if you count the tiny tv in my and Mike's bedroom) television(s) with 2 children who want their cartoon,s and my classic film-loving husband, so it's a lot more difficult to squeeze in. This week's guest was a convert from Presbyterianism. I love personal stories, and The Journey Home certainly fits the bill. Love.

(2) Knit. This is a nightly activity, to be sure. I'm working on a cardigan for Anne and had to divide for the sleeves. The technique in this particular pattern was new to me, and I was a little afraid, but I'm pleased to report that I knocked it out of the park. Or so it seems until I go back to the provisionally held stitches at a later time (especially since this took place during item (4) below, Chardonnay consumption), which has the potential to turn into a disaster, but we won't go there right now.

(3) Eat an orange buddy bar. After 8 pm, calories be damned.

(4) Drink a glass of Chardonnay. Cheers.

(5) Pause to go on Twitter and be nosy for a bit.

(6) Watch Breaking Amish: Brave New World. See, this is where it's gotten later and my judgement is more impaired.

I think we can safely say that Breaking Amish is the cesspool of reality television, right up there with Toddlers in Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Although the possibilities are endless these days.

This is the first episode of the series that I've seen and it was a bit hard to watch. So, we've got these Amish and Mennonite young people who allegedly left their communities while the show was being filmed last year (my reading today has demonstrated that this is in fact not the case; yes, even after describing the show as a cesspool I was still reading about it, I don't see anything AT ALL contradictory about this) and even in viewing a single episode I can see that the situation has quickly deteriorated to bad decisions being made left and right. I kept saying to the tv: "Does your MOTHER know that you are doing this?! Actually, she doesn't, and you're LUCKY buddy-boy that she can't see you right now!!"

It was...informative, to be sure. Then I went up to bed to wait for Mike while reading 2 simultaneous books on my Kindle. It was fun, but I much prefer having him home. And I'm pretty sure he would picket outside for inhumane treatment if I tried to make him watch Breaking Amish.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Children's Liturgy of the Word, Corpus Christi edition, a success

So yesterday I had what may be my last Children's Liturgy of the Word session, since I decided not to continue with the program next school year. It's a relief to think that I won't have to worry about it next year (I have such social anxiety :); I hate to admit it, but it's true) plus not having to worry about getting Anne to Mass when I want to take her. However, yesterday brought up some good points that I will sincerely miss. Read on, gentle reader...

I actually didn't have Henry with me at Mass yesterday (very unusual) because he had been invited to a conflicting birthday party. So I arrived solo, and set right off to the sacristy.

I have to say, I LOVE being back in the sacristy before Mass. I like the hustle and bustle of liturgy-readying activities, the warmth of the people that volunteer at the parish that gather back there. I really feel like a part of things. I got all my materials ready and headed out to the sanctuary. Without Henry in tow, I was even able to pray beforehand. :)

The call for kids just prior to the Liturgy of the Word brought out about 10 small souls. We headed back to the sacristy. I had a few saint stories to share with them after the readings, Blessed Imelda, and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. When I let them know that our agenda included saint stories, there was a twitter of excitement. A few of the older girls even said how happy they were that I was the one leading Children's Liturgy for the day.

See, then I felt bad. :) I have gotten to know the regulars, and even the older boys that had been surly a few times and had gotten me discouraged have taken it down several notches and have been fine since then.

We had a great session. We went through the readings and talked about the Eucharist, particularly in the context of a few of them recently having made their First Holy Communion. I told them about the beauty of daily Mass, how it was this short little gem in your day and how receiving the Eucharist on a more frequent basis leads to *clear* differences in one's life. I told them that if they remembered nothing else that I've taught them to remember that one thing. They were pretty wide eyed about that. :)

Then I read them the saint stories, and they especially loved the Blessed Imelda story, that was a real crowd pleaser (despite it's sad ending). After that, it was time to head back out to the church, so I gave them their handouts and shepherded them back to their parents.

It was nice to have such a positive experience be the one that I'll take with me, and in fact the last handful of sessions have been quite good, especially May's edition with the rosary discussion, and the Divine Mercy back in April. It made me think that perhaps this isn't the last time I'll do Children's Liturgy of the Word, maybe I'll volunteer again the future. Stay tuned. :)

In the meantime, I'm jonesing for a new volunteer slot, one that will be a good fit for me, so I've been going through the bulletins every week with a fine tooth comb. A note about needing "some ladies to do light cleaning on the altar and in the sacristy" (lol) caught my eye, but they're looking for somebody during the day, which obviously doesn't work for me. We'll see, something will come up I'm sure.