Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catholic Book Club: In Him Alone Is Our Hope

Happy Pie Day all! Since I was a child, I have called the Wednesday before Thanksgiving "Pie Day" because on that day I would bake pumpkin pie with my mom. And my mom is one of these Italian ladies who are a slam dunk in the kitchen. It was very fun. Always a relaxing day home with family.

And so today is a nice day for reflection, no? November's selection for the Catholic Book Club is In Him Alone Is Our Hope: The Church According to the Heart of Pope Francis. It is a retreat prepared by then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio for a group of bishops, meditating upon the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and what that means to their ministry.

This book was announced *very* shortly after Pope Francis' election to the papacy, in the frenzy that followed the Conclave. I ordered a copy fairly early on, in my curiosity about our new pope. The printing took a lot longer than anticipated, and so I haven't had the book for very long. Since it was designed as a retreat, I thought it would make a nice lead up to Advent.

And indeed, it is lovely. Our pope has a beautiful and caring way with words, a true shepherd. It's not a very long book at only 135 pages, and there are a lot of bolded subtitles to make navigating the text easier. He has some powerful things to say about faith and hope and how we should never despair when we are truly listening for God's voice. Carrying life's crosses is certainly a theme common to people in all vocations.

I will say though that I wasn't able to apply everything that he said to his brother bishops to myself as a laywoman. I'm not 100% certain that all readers would have the same opinion, but that was my experience. It doesn't lessen the beauty of what he had to say, but in terms of spiritual reading, I have an easier time taking things away from books that I strongly relate to. I certainly have a lot underlined in this book, and pages turned down, so returning to it and reviewing those passages will bear fruit in the future. Thus, book is like a reference source for me, which is a good thing!

It's always difficult for me to get through deeper spiritual reading, but it's good for me, like eating vegetables. :) I would put this book into that category. I couldn't just read it while both kids were whining and/or trying to get my attention in the background. Watching Regular Show with them while Muscle Man whips his shirt around... All not possible when reading this book. It required more concentration. And we all need reading like that sometimes.

I do have some other books about Pope Francis that I received when I attended the Catholic New Media Conference, so I'm sure that at some point I will add those to our book club list. So! Next month we have A Catholic Christmas, by Kathleen Carroll. VERY excited about this one! I also have a Christmas-themed Amish fiction title on its way to me from Image Books that I will review on here when I finish as well. Lots of good reading to look forward to!

You won't see any posts from me until Monday, since I'll be on blogging hiatus for the holiday at home with my family. *But* on Monday there will a Thanksgiving weekend update, I'm certain, as well as the official kickoff to the 2013 Advent Veiling linkup! If you decide to experiment with wearing a headcovering to Mass for Advent, link up your blog! The linkup will stay open until Christmas, so you'll have plenty of time to post. It's going to be fun. See you Monday!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vocations Spotlight: Fr. Darryl Millette, Part 1

Happy Monday all! It's time for another Vocations Spotlight, this time with Fr. Darryl Millette from the diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan! I met Fr. Darryl at the Catholic New Media Conference, and I encountered more than one person who asked me: "Have you met Fr. Darryl yet, the priest from Saskatchewan? He's just wonderful!" His kind, jovial personality made him a hit at the conference. I immediately began following him on Twitter (@frdarryl, YOU SHOULD FOLLOW HIM TOO!). He hosts a podcast called The SportsFathers that I have become a huge fan of, and he's mentioned my comments on a few episodes! It doesn't take much to make this Catholic Librarian a happy camper.


If you enjoy sports, you should *definitely* check out his podcast! The shows feature enjoyable banter with fellow priests, and you will also hear from his dog, Chloe. The entire situation is absolutely precious. As well, he keeps a blog of audio files from his homilies on his website.

And so, without further ado, here is Part 1 of my talk with Fr. Darryl:

Would you briefly describe your childhood faith background?

I am the oldest in a rather large (and loud) family - four boys and three girls. Growing up, we went to Mass every Sunday and occasionally on weekdays. Prayer in the evening was mandatory, usually involving a rosary (though I seem to remember looking forward to those rare times when the evening was rushed and we had to settle for just a decade!).

As our family moved a number of times, being connected to the local parish was always a vital way for us to be connected to other people.  My home during high school (and the current family home) is on an acreage outside of a small town. It was there that I started to really enjoy taking time for lengthy walks and bike rides, where I’d occasionally wrestle with my understanding of the faith and talk to God. Mind you, I was oftentimes pretty distracted; these thoughts were usually interspersed with my wrestling with the latest deeds of our beloved CFL team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, or with trying to figure out some algorithm in my computer programming hobby. But faith was definitely a part of my life growing up, in amongst many other things!

When and why did you decide to become a priest? Was it a specific experience, or did it take root over a long period of time?

The thought of being a priest had crossed my mind during high school, but it didn’t really take root in me at that time.  However, when I entered university (electrical engineering) I encountered a Catholic group on campus who is somewhat similar to FOCUS in the United States.  This group, Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), really challenged me to take this faith in which I had been raised and to make it my own, developing my relationship with Jesus in an intentional way.  They also challenged me to share Christ in different ways. I became involved with this group on an organizational level, helped lead faith studies, and so forth.

During this time, the question of my vocation became louder. However, I also became equally adept at suppressing it. It’s not that I had any sort of big, mystical moments where St. Joseph and Bl. Mother Teresa appeared to me in the clouds and told me to become a priest.  Rather, it was more what I call the gentle, annoying persistence of God, usually taking the form of a slight twinge in my gut when I would hear a vocation talk, or when friends would talk about discernment, or even when I’d see a priest doing something priestly. Usually I’d be able to get that out of my mind relatively quickly… but then a short time later God would annoyingly put some other person or situation in my life to remind me. Over and over. Annoying, gentle persistence. :-)

Finally, when I finished engineering I decided to give a year to work for CCO in their head office as an IT guy.  I wanted to give something back to the ministry that had meant so much to me.

So I worked… for a Catholic organization… requiring a more strict prayer schedule… and having time to think…

That is a Dangerous Combination (TM).

Partway through that year I couldn’t ignore God’s gentle persistence any more.  I sought the guidance of a priest, who later referred me to the vocations director, who referred me to the bishop, and the following fall I was unpacking at St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta as a seminarian for the Diocese of Saskatoon.

And I was home.

Do you have any suggestions or guidance for those who are currently struggling with vocational discernment?

Don’t be afraid.

Fear was probably the key factor that led me to keep pushing God’s call out of my mind, over and over. Persistent questions for me included: How could I be happy without marriage? How could I be happy by being obedient to a bishop? What would it mean if I did all this engineering and didn’t use it as a priest? What would my friends and family think?

I’ve learned a few answers to these questions over the years, and I’m still learning:

- God’s call for your life, whatever it is, will be the most fulfilling thing for you and a source of immense joy.

- I have given up marriage, which is certainly a sacrifice. The young, married parents in my parish have basically given up sleep. I don’t say this to trivialize anything, but rather to point out that sacrifice is required in any vocational following of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded us to take up our cross daily and follow him. That can be frightening. That can be an immense challenge. It’s easier to turn around. But you are not alone; Jesus is with you. And he’ll lead you right through the cross and into resurrection.

- Obedience can be challenging sometimes, but God’s grace works amazing things through it. Example: Two months after my ordination I was asked to become the main priest chaplain of the largest hospital in the province of Saskatchewan. This was hard. It was very hard for a new, young, somewhat naive priest to take on. The assignment lasted close to a year. But looking back I can see that I learned so much about myself and about ministry during that year. Obedience can be tough, but God is ever faithful. Obedience can also be a source of consolation: there is much need in our world, and it is wonderful to know that I have a shepherd who’s got my back, and who, along with me, discerns where I might be needed most. Obedience is therefore a freeing gift that opens me up to experiences in ministry of which I wouldn’t have dreamed!

- Your background/gifts/talents are important things that God can use in you, no matter what your vocation. Amazingly, I’ve done a good amount of engineering-type work since becoming a priest. My first parish where I was an associate was undergoing a major building campaign and I ended up working on technical specifications. Currently one of my parishes is doing some renovations and I’m in the midst of sound system design. God works in mysterious ways!

- I won’t lie; there was initially some reluctance to my decision to enter the seminary from some of my family and friends. They asked questions, often very good questions about my motives. This was important for keeping me honest with myself. But then, very early on I began to receive a lot of tremendous support from those who had been skeptical. And they all rejoiced with me and my diocese on my ordination day and continue to support me immensely.

Again: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to seek Christ in prayer. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from a priest, sister, or brother you trust. Don’t be afraid to consider a seminary or monastery or convent; this is simply another step in discernment, not an “Ohmygoodness for sure I’m going to be ordained/consecrated forEVER!” step.

God is faithful.

As I was reading over Fr. Darryl's words, I was blown away by how much thought he had put into his answers. It reads like an exciting novel, I got so caught up in the story of his family and vocation! In particular, his thoughts on discernment have my mind all awhirl. It's so true - if you seek God's will, you will *not* be disappointed or left adrift!

I hope that you all are looking forward to Part 2 of Fr. Darryl's interview as much as I am! In that post, he'll talk a bit about his ministry, his hobbies, and Pope Francis! Since next Monday is the first Monday of Advent, I have another post planned for that day, so look for Fr. Darryl again next *Tuesday* December 3rd!

And follow him on Twitter. Seriously. 

*Photo courtesy of artur84, at

Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 21} A little of everything edition...

I'm Type A, so I usually make a list of 7 things before I write these posts. Big surprise, right? I mean, NOTHING is left to chance in my life, dear friends, not even blog posts. Back when I still choreographed my dance solos (rather than improvising, which I do now), I used to schedule time in to (a) change direction, (b) smile, and (c) breathe. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING.

So what do we have on tap for today...some Catholic stuff, lots of book talk, some music stuff, and some parenting woes. Away we go!

-1- Today is the feast of St. Cecelia, and I simply adore this saint.

I've written about her before, she's my Confirmation patron, and I even credit her for my really embracing my Catholic faith as a young adult and becoming so passionate about it, since I realized that that took place (back when I was in graduate school) right around her feast day. Love this girl!

Yesterday, I stopped off at our local Christian bookstore for a few gifts, and I grabbed both children a new book of saints. My kids LOVE saint stories. Henry has several, but I spotted a different one for his age group that he doesn't have, so I snagged that, and for Anne I picked up several of these, (volumes 1 through 3, I believe) one of which I bought solely because it held St. Cecelia's story. Good stuff.

I'm about to move on to Take #2. In case you were wondering, yes, I did just place a check mark next to "St. Cecelia" on my list. :0

-2- Since we were talking about books, I'll continue in that vein. Wednesday is our official Catholic Book Club day, and on that day I will be reviewing In Him Alone Is Our Hope: The Church According To The Heart of Pope Francis. If you've read this book, please do check in on Wednesday for my review to leave a comment with your thoughts on it! Comments make me happy, dear reader. Come make my day. *beams*

-3- I just finished up another book, this one of the fiction variety, An Uncommon Grace, by Serena Miller. I had downloaded this for my Kindle when it was on sale recently. I read a lot of Amish fiction, as I've mentioned, but this book was different from any other Amish book I've ever read. The reason is that rather than centering around the Old Older Amish like the books I ordinarily read, featuring the group of Amish most of us are most familiar with, this one was about the Swartzentruber Amish. The Swartzentruber Amish are a more conservative group than the Old Order, and it was fascinating to learn more about them. I definitely recommend the book.

-4- In blog news, a few exciting things. On Monday, I will have another installment of Vocations Spotlight, this time featuring a wonderfully kind and funny priest from the diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Fr. Darryl Millette. If you don't follow him on Twitter already, you should!! His handle is @frdarryl. You'll learn more about him on Monday, make sure to check in!

-5- On Tuesday, I'll be posting about my plans for Advent and the upcoming Advent Veiling Project, which will begin on Monday December 2nd, and will feature both a linkup and *5* veil giveaways that you may enter!

*angels sing*

This is going to be VERY fun and I hope that you will all enjoy the posts, even if you do not wear a headcovering at Mass. The whole intent is to share experiences with each other, and so a woman may try it and prefer not to continue. Your opinion is very much welcome! We're all in this together to support each other as Catholic women, regardless of headcovering preference, or lack thereof.

You'll be seeing the posts and my Tweets about it starting next week, and I will sticky everything in the "Advent Veiling Linkup 2013" tab at the very top of this blog. Make sure to check in!

-6- All right, so in other news, I'm still deciding on music for my upcoming dance solo, and Katherine asked me to recommend some Middle Eastern music for those that want to add some to their collection but do not know where to begin. Her wish is my command. :)

Some of my favorites are: Cairo Nights, Vol 1. This is a very upbeat album, and I adore it. In fact, the song that I may pick for my solo is on here. :) The Bellydance Superstars compilations are really good because they contain a variety of *types* of Middle Eastern music. Pop, drum, fast and slow instrumentals, some classic pieces. I especially like vol. 2, vol. 3 and vol. 8. There is 10 Songs Every Bellydancer Should Know for classic Middle Eastern music.

-7- Finally, we have my daughter. Is it me, or does it seem that the instant a toddler turns 2 years and 6 months some form of insidious demonic possession begins to take hold? Holy smokes.


"How do you ask?"


"That's not how you ask."

"NO! Anne NOT say 'please'!"

*unpleasant negotiation takes place*

"Here you go, Honey."

"NO! ANNE NO WANT THE JUICE! NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

*cup is thrown*

I mean, we have this, we have hysterical meal times, nap refusals, an unwillingness to cuddle, it's all quite exhausting. And I'm thinking we have approximately 12-18 months before this gets any better.

*long suffering sigh*

But that said, don't you wish that we could keep them this age forever? Because they *are* darn cute.

Have a great weekend everyone, and a wonderful feast of Christ the King! See you all on Monday!

Head to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Favorites {vol. 3} My yarn and book collection overflows edition...

I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that I'm feeling a lot better than when I posted my Five Favorites last week, when it appeared that a giant black cloud with an angry face on it had just taken up residence atop my head. Time and prayer always put things into a better perspective. And so I'm feeling mostly back to my perky self, and I thought I'd get in another Five Favorites before our Thanksgiving hiatus comes up. So. What is making me happy this week?

-1- "Hey Hon, I think one of your yarn containers burst open again!"

I love yarn. It's just full of such...possibilities. I see it and I think about all of the things I could make with it, and it just makes me so happy. And this time of year is one of the best, my budding yarn lover minions, because every November we get an event that knitters await with a trembling countenance:

The Knit Picks Cyber Monday sale.

Nice quality, natural fiber yarn that is Be still my heart. This year, because Thanksgiving is so late, they are starting the sale prior to Cyber Monday, on Monday November 25th. I am scheduled on the reference for the moment the sale begins, which caused me no end of angst and eyebrow scrunching, but has spurred on my passion for creating an itemized project shopping list. I AM SO EXCITED. And this leads nicely into...

-2- "Steeking? (aka: slicing open your handknit sweater with scissors to create a cardigan. aka: The Thing That Terrifies Tiffany Most In This Entire World...) No problem!!"

Every year, this "project shopping list" for the big yarn sale lends itself to being a bit of a conundrum. Because I tend to, you know, get a hair too optimistic about my actual knitting *abilities*. I get so dazzled by all of the sale yarn that I convince myself I absolutely need this gorgeous silk/alpaca blend in lace weight to knit an intricate shawl, despite having had disastrous results in the past with lace weight yarn, because *this time* everything will turn out fantastic. Because this yarn is on sale. Yes, that makes so much sense, right?!

So, the list. Sweaters and socks abound, maybe I'll try out some of the pretty new needles, perhaps a new blanket for the couch... Sounds fine, but I know on the day itself I will decide spontaneously that I should knit a cabled Norwegian colorwork ski sweater with matching patterned mittens and an optional fur-lined hood. Then, 6 months later, when I finally have time to knit with the sale yarn I will wonder what on earth I was thinking.


-3- And you thought the *yarn* storage situation was bad...

All right, moving on from yarn to books. I'm a librarian, I love books. Over the years, I've forced myself to weed through my collection so that it won't take over the house. If I don't think I'll reread it, I donate it to the public library for their book sale. The Kindle is helping with this problem immensely. Now, of course, I'm making the whole process infinitely more difficult again...

I have started reviewing books as part of the Image Books blogger review program. This means that I receive free books as part of my official reviewer duties. *sniffs happily* This also means that I'm collecting more books, so you can see the problem here. I may do a giveaway at some point to relieve the situation a bit. But at any rate, I'm really enjoying the process so far.

I posted my first review yesterday. At the bottom of the post, you can rank the review, and this helps me out over at the Image site in terms of the selection of books that I can choose from to review, so if you are so inclined, please have at it. *angelic smile*

Once you post your review, you are eligible to select another book. I galloped over there with as much dignity as I could muster after I finished posting because I was so excited. My reviewer profile indicates that I want to see Catholic books, but I couldn't resist also checking another box when I spied it with my little eye on the form: Fiction - Amish.

*Hallelujah Chorus*

I LOVE Amish fiction. It's very wholesome and sweet and consistent with the values we espouse as Catholics. And so, next month you will see a review of Christmas in Apple Ridge, by Cindy Woodsmall.


-4- To drum or not to drum?

I've started listening to my selection of Middle Eastern music (which is considerable) in preparation for a solo at our upcoming studio hafla. I'm feeling somewhat inspired again about dance, which is good. It must be the looming deadline. But at any rate, I have it narrowed down to a drum solo (which is a style that I love and am very comfortable with), or an instrumental piece that has 3 distinct sections: upbeat, taquism (short slow section), and a little drum finale. I need to pick, so cast a vote in the comments. :)

-5- "What drink goes best with this film, Sweetie? A what?! Let me consult my cocktail preparation reference handbook..."

Only a librarian, yes? In fact, we do own a reference book on mixing a multitude of different cocktails, but that's not actually the point of this favorite. Thanksgiving is coming up, which means that Mike and I will begin our annual viewing of classic holiday films, And we often mix that with appropriate cocktails. As you can imagine, this is super fun, and evidence that I indeed picked the right husband.

This year, we're definitely going to be watching the original Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, The Bells of St. Mary's, and Christmas in Connecticut.

Other recommendations? What are you favorite classic holiday films?

All right, everyone, head over to Hallie's at MoxieWife for more Five Favorites!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Catholic Book Club: Catholics Come Home

Good morning all! This is my first review for Image Books as part of their Blogging for Books program, and I'm very pleased to be a part of this! I will add these in under the Catholic Book Club tag as I read and review them so that there will be a nice compilation of all books that I have reviewed on this blog. Super fun and convenient, no? And it fits with my librarian role so nicely. *adjusts bun*

Today I am reviewing Catholics Come Home: God's Extraordinary Plan for Your Life, by Tom Peterson. This book had been on my wish list for some time, and when I saw it I knew that I wanted to select it for immediate reading. By the title, I thought the book was a collection of conversion stories of people either reverting back to their childhood Catholic faith or converting to the Church from another faith or utter lack thereof.

In fact, though, that is not what the book is about at all. The author, Tom Peterson, does talk about his own experience of reverting back to his Catholic faith after drifting away as a young adult, but the rest of the book is devoted to suggestions and words of wisdom toward bringing others home to the Catholic Church. Mr. Peterson is the founder of a nonprofit evangelization organization (under the same name as the title of this book), and thus has a lot to offer on this topic based upon his work.

Here is what I liked about this book: This book has a very personal feel to it. Although not a full-length conversion story, the author weaves in his own faith journey and his experiences interacting with others who have left the Church. I love personal stories like these. For example, Mr. Peterson offers an anecdote about bumping into a woman at Mass who begged him to speak to her son, Jimmy. Jimmy had been away from the Church for many years, and Mr. Peterson details his amusing and somewhat awkward conversations with him when he tries to casually stop in at Jimmy's place of work, which is at a nail salon! Over time, however, he and Jimmy strike up a friendship, and the author keeps inviting him to attend Mass with him. What happens? It involves a fishing trip and a mysterious crucifix. You will have to read the book to find out more. :)

I also liked the author's very heartfelt suggestions for relating to loved ones, and even strangers, who are away from their faith and sometimes need just a small nudge, whether that be an invitation to attend Mass with you, or a kind word, or an understanding ear, to begin exploring their relationship with God again. He writes about meeting a beleaguered flight attendant one day, and I think all of us can relate to a person just doing her job who is having an extraordinarily difficult day due to circumstances completely outside of her control. Simply going out of his way to be extra kind to her in the face of the uncharitable treatment of others, combined with handing her a card from his organization with a personal and uplifting message written on the will not believe what happens next, and what the flight attendant's personal faith story is. Read the book to find out!

I absolutely loved Mr. Peterson's recommendation to pray for those who have drifted away from the Church during the moment of consecration of the Precious Blood during Mass. We can use that opportunity to intercede for these loved ones while reflecting on how Christ poured out His blood for the salvation of mankind. Beautiful words, and soothing to the soul of those who, in a similar vein to St. Monica, are praying for someone very dear to them who are currently apart from Christ and His Church.

This book also includes an *excellent* appendix of recommended reading, prayers, and related organizations for those who are personally invested in this topic. The appendix alone is worth the price of the book for an outstanding spiritual reading list.

This book is what I call a "quick read," at only 156 pages and fairly compact in size. For what the author aims to do, however, more is not needed. The information within is quite good. I do wish that the book had chapter titles on the top of each page rather than the book title, so that one can more easily keep track of where they are when they set the book aside and come back to it. That is obviously a very minor criticism, but I found it troublesome.

If you are looking to become a prayer warrior and lay missionary for lapsed Catholics and others to come back to their faith, I do recommend this book. You may read Chapter 1 here for free.

If you found my review enlightening, please do visit the Blogging for Books page to search for and rank my review!

*I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vocations Spotlight: Fr. Kyle Sanders, Part 2

Happy Vocations Monday, everyone! I'm not certain when I will post another installment in this series, but I do hope to do it again. My little mind is all awhirl with plans on this, trust me.
Today we revisit Fr. Kyle Sanders, a priest in the archdiocese of New Orleans. Read Part 1 of his story here, in which we learn about his discernment process toward becoming ordained as a diocesan priest. In Part 2, I asked Father about some specifics about his priestly ministry and prayer life. Do read on!

What has been your favorite experience so far as part of your priestly ministry?

Other than hearing confessions for extended periods during (Franciscan University of) Steubenville conferences, it would have to be celebrating mass on the bones of Sts Simon and Jude in St. Peter's Basilica. 

What has been the most challenging part of being a priest?

Because the priest is such a means of the grace of the Father, Satan hates him with extraordinary disgust. Dealing with greater reminders of my own brokenness through constant temptations and subtle lies has been the most difficult and naïvely unexpected thing for me. The great thing about that is that the Father uses those instances to continue to humble me. The crucible is no fun, but due to faith and hope I can see the pure metal of my soul being forged.

What is one unique thing about you and/or your ministry that readers would find interesting?

My best friend is my sister. We grew up three years apart, and when we were young, I was the typical 'forceful' older brother. Before I went off to seminary, I knew I wouldn't be able to influence her as much especially with regards to faith. She was hanging around friends that weren't trouble makers, but who I could tell were focused squarely not on Christ, but on the world. That worried me, so I forced her to come to youth group with me, and she sat there arms folded, uninterested. Eventually though, she returned, and became an active member there and her faith blossomed. She worked in the office of the Catholic church on her college campus. After college, she became a missionary with FOCUS. In her three years as a missionary, her faith and prayer life grew exponentially. She now lives back home and works with a youth ministry company. She is constantly building up my faith as my ministry is building up her.

Can you describe your prayer routine and how you balance it amongst your other responsibilities?

Why you gotta go and do that!? Hee hee. This is something I'm still struggling with due to the change from the high structured life of seminary to the highly unstructured life of a diocesan priest. So I will give you what it is my desire to do everyday, but I often do not meet my plan. I'll wake early enough drink a cup of coffee while praying the first hour of the liturgy of hours, take a shower, and then do my Holy Hour. Sometime midday-ish I'll pray midday prayer. Then in the evening I'll get evening prayer in somewhere. Then after everything is done. I'll do 15 minutes of spiritual reading followed by night prayer. That's my goal but I often fall short, and now everyone knows. :-/

Yeah, so the balance is what I struggle with because I tend to focus on one thing at a time and forget about other things when I'm in that task or activity.

Many Catholics do not frequently avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How do you prepare to administer this sacrament, and how would you advise Catholics who wish to return to this sacrament after many years away?

To prepare, I usually pray for the grace to be open to the Holy Spirit and ask Our Lady of Sorrows for help and guidance.

I'm not there to judge, despite previous bad experiences my end is bringing them freedom and new life. I would often tell my experience of confession especially after a really rough time I had during my high school years. People will often here laughter in my confessional. I make jokes and laugh not to trivialize the sacrament but rather to make the penitent comfortable and help them to realize that  that choice was laughable comparable to the Lord.

What is one way in which Pope Francis has had a positive influence on your ministry since his election?
(1) I need to be more person-centered in my daily interactions. The theology I learned from JP II, but I was still too young to learn from his actions. I'm learning that from Francis. 

(2) I need to spend more time with the poor and broken of my parish. 

I just wanted to hug Fr. Kyle after reading his comments on prayer. :-) I think we can all SO relate to what Father is saying, no? We are all human and struggle with concentration and making time for prayer. Not a single person is exempt from this. It is easy to think that our own struggle must mean that there is something wrong with us - the answer is quite the contrary.

And laughter in the confessional? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Of course, the sacrament is a solemn thing, but relating to people and making them comfortable is *key* to them availing themselves of the sacrament again! I find this absolutely delightful.

Many, many thanks to Fr. Kyle for participating in Vocations Spotlight and sharing his journey of faith with us at Life of a Catholic LibrarianTo keep up with Fr. Kyle and his ministry, sign up to subscribe to his blog, Reverenced Reading, and/or follow him on Twitter, his handle is @colonel4God. Send him a tweet to let him know your thoughts on his interview!

*Photo courtesy of artur84, at

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 20} Knitting mojo, cranky dancers, and holiday meal planning panic mode edition...

It's been a bit of a long week. I am feeling a lot better, but the emotional drainment (new phrase: officially coined) remains. Therefore, I'm giving myself total permission to have my quick takes literally be anything that crosses my mind. You've been warned.

-1- I have my knitting mojo back. Most of you probably have no idea what in tarnation I'm talking about, and that would be because you are *normal*. Knitters like myself have our own peculiar language. We "frog" things,  we "tink" (this isn't anything scandalous, I assure you), we have projects that "hibernate," and there are mysterious "ufo's" all over our living rooms. It's all very charming in it's own freakish way. But I've been happily knitting and crocheting my way through some Christmas gifts these days, and that is good because Christmas is rapidly approaching. A lack of sufficient handknit dishcloths to give away on Christmas Eve is cause for me to have a nervous breakdown, just so that you know what we're dealing with here.

-2- We have a holiday dance performance coming up, and as of yet, I haven't gotten my *dancing* mojo back. I'm in a troupe, and the group numbers are all great, although my Wings of Isis and I have yet to truly bond. But I'd like to dance solo, and so far there has been no motivation to pick music and prepare. I'm hoping that changes. Lack of understanding about dance in general, and belly dance in particular, has gotten me down of late. People can be...I'll just let you fill in the blank on that one, dear reader.

Anyway, there is nothing worse than a sad belly dancer, let me tell you. I've seen dancers perform beautifully, but the entire time their face looked as if someone had just slipped some of that super stinky cheese under their nose. I don't want to be that dancer, my friends. I haven't been listening to my happy playlists of Middle Eastern music lately, this isn't good. Balancing always cheers me up, maybe I'll do some of that this weekend. I'll report back in on this. Hopefully I won't have set anything on fire by dancing while balancing my candle tray.

-3- Anne has been so adorable lately with her dolls and little Disney princesses. She carries them around and nurtures them. I mean, it's so precious you can hardly stand it. The Disney Princess Castle is quite the happening scene these days. Lovely, long-haired princesses abound, but the only two male members of the party are Prince Eric and the Beast. They each seem to have their hands full, entertaining up to a half dozen princesses at any one time on the dance floor. There is also a Little Mermaid coach available for courtship purposes. 


I absolutely cannot wait for this Christmas with her. She is at such an adorable age for that. 

-4- Besides knitting and dancing (and Christmas shopping; my online shopping cart overflows as I await Cyber Monday...) I have been reading a lot lately. I have a few books coming up that I will review as part of the Catholic Book Club, and I'm very excited. Within the new few weeks, you'll see reviews of In Him Alone Is Our Hope: The Church According to the Heart of Pope Francis, and Catholics Come Home: God's Extraordinary Plan For Your Life, by Tom Peterson. I'm also almost always reading Amish fiction on my Kindle. I just love Amish fiction, and I subscribe to Inspired Reads' rss feed so that everyday I see Kindle books that are either free or significantly reduced in price. Whenever I see an Amish title that is 99 cents or $1.99, I snap it up.

-5- If you haven't already seen Part 1 of my interview with Fr. Kyle Sanders, definitely check that out. He is such a naturally engaging and funny person, and that really shines in his writing. I met him in person at the CNMC, and he brought the house down with a humorous comment that he made during the final panel. Part 2 will be posted Monday, and will cover interesting facts about his ministry and prayer life. Come and see!

-6- Beginning the first week of Advent, I will be hosting a linkup for those who want to try out wearing a headcovering to Mass during Advent. It's a nice opportunity to try this out if you've ever been curious about it, link up your blog to talk about your experience, and take part in the giveaways that will be available. It will all be very fun.

-7- Thanksgiving is coming soon, and I cannot wait. This is one of my favorite days of the year. We generally get up, watch part of (the parts that we can stand ;-)) the Macy's parade, and watch the dog show that comes on afterward. We prepare the food. I will drink some wine, because I am always a Nervous Nelly about hosting a gathering of any sort at my house in which people expect to be shown anything resembling a good time. (Wait. I'm thinking of another post on this holiday panicking topic. Hold on...Here it is. Oh, I'm snorting. OH! You should go read it. :) I'm so glad I read that, we should all heed it's vital message of: Wine= good. Too Much Wine=bad.). Ok, where was I? I do this a lot, thank you for putting up with me. Ok....right! Thanksgiving. Phew! Not all the brain cells have been comprised by age just yet. So, Thanksgiving day. We will serve dinner and socialize, and then eat pie. The cleanup process will inevitably drain me of all significant strength and I'll likely do something that I'll later regret, like agree to host another upcoming holiday gathering, but we'll worry about that more fully two weeks hence.

I do love Thanksgiving. Hopefully it won't end the same way it did last year. Now if that isn't an ominous statement, I don't know what is. But when the words "explosive" and "poo" are together in the title of a post, you can pretty quickly get a sense for how things went down.

To everyone: THANK YOU FOR READING! This blog brings me joy, and I hope it does for you as well. If you read this entire post, I'm sure your efforts will be noted someday in your cause for canonization.

For more 7 Quick Takes, visit the fabulous and funny Jennifer Fulwiler's blog over at Conversion Diary! I mean it. Go read her stuff, you won't regret it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A post in which Tiffany rambles about her blog...I hope you'll come along for the ride

Hello all! I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that your Catholic Librarian is in fact having a better day today. I suppose I can stop talking about myself in the third person now. You're welcome. ;-)

I wanted to write a bit today on my reflections based upon my very hurt feelings yesterday. I'm not going to get into any specifics, but reflection upon hurtful things in life, and consequent lessons learned, is a good thing, and I wanted to share that with all of you.

I am a person who gets her feelings hurt very easily. I so, SO wish that I could change this about myself, gentle reader, but as many of you also likely know, this is simply not possible. And so, through the years, I've tried very hard to just deal with hurt feelings better and not carry the wound with me so long. Things have improved somewhat with age and wisdom, but the underlying condition remains. This is the personality God blessed me with, and so I do my best with it.

Here are a few of the things I reflected on last night: When we are hurt, God wants us to ask Him for His help. We may be feeling too cranky to ask, but we must. Prayer, even when it feels utterly devoid of inspiration or emotion, is *still* beneficial to our souls. It will help, even if it doesn't feel that way right at that moment. Also, God is trying to show us something valuable and beautiful even in spirit crushing situations. Painful circumstances are not something to merely endure, but to look more widely at what positives we can learn and take away from them. There is *always* going to be more to learn.

I also thought about Pope Francis yesterday. I very much love and admire Pope Francis, but I hadn't yet forged an emotional bond to him the way I had with John Paul II, and even Benedict XVI. His style is very different from theirs, and so I didn't know if I'd ever have those same feelings for him, although his guidance of the Church right now is so top notch. But yesterday, I thought about him, do you want to know why? Because I knew that he would have the words to soothe me, as any good Shepherd would. One of the things he has said recently that the media latched onto was very applicable to why I was feeling so poorly yesterday. It made me appreciate him anew, and realize that I shouldn't only wait for him to start talking about liturgy or detailed theology to get interested in what he has to say. I may be particularly interested in those two topics, but he has something to offer that is just as fascinating and just as good. I'm so appreciative for the opportunity to have realized this.

I knew that a good night of sleep was paramount to my spirits bouncing back today, and that is what happened. That, and some support and encouragement from very dear and wise friends who are such a blessing to me. I thank God for them.

And so here I am today, trying to get my bearings again. This has always been a "life blog, " as evidenced by the title, and I'm certain that different people read my blog for different reasons. First of all, thank you to you ALL for even reading, I can't tell you how much that means to me. A writer loves an audience, to be sure. But my blog is somewhat different from other blogs that I read because it doesn't focus on any one "theme," if you will. It's certainly a Catholic blog, but I write about my whole life, and so there's a lot more in there, like my description indicates. I write about parenting, I write about dancing, I write about crafting, I write about marriage, I write about being a librarian, and sometimes I just write about things that I find funny, because my aim is always to be a lighthearted and humorous writer.

Sometimes I may write about things that you are not interested in. If that is the case, I hope that you'll just skip that post and come back the next day. :) I guess where I'm going with this is that I have gotten some more readers of late. I LOVE that. But more readers brings more issues, as well. I'm not going to go into specifics, but let me just say this: There are any number of reasons that someone could come to this blog and then judge me. And then say unkind things about me. And then insinuate that I cannot be a very good person and/or a very good Catholic. I mean, I'm human, and therefore a sinner, so the possibilities are endless, really. But here are some of the ways that come to the forefront of my mind:

  • I am a belly dancer. You may notice that I changed the header on this blog to read "Middle Eastern dancer." I did that for a reason. I don't want people to be put off by the word "belly" and then never give me a chance to explain how this form of dance is not in any way inherently inappropriate. This is a part of my life that I love and enjoy, and I'm not going to stop writing about it. I do, however, hope that people will not see the header and immediately judge that I am therefore beneath them and not worthy of their time. 
  • I am a mother to small children who works full-time outside the home.
  • Our son attended daycare from the time he was 10 weeks old until he went to kindergarten at age 4.
  • I do not homeschool. I have absolutely zero problem with homeschooling, but I do not feel that I would be very good at it. Therefore, my school aged son goes to our parish school.
  • I nursed both my babies, but I did not do it exclusively and I did not practice attachment parenting.
  • I am married to a baptized Catholic who now considers himself an atheist.
  • I have 2 beautiful children, a boy and a girl, who are five years apart in age. It would be very easy to look at the birthday tickers at the top of this blog and judge that my husband and I use artificial contraception. That would be utterly incorrect, but that's what happens when one lets surface facts lead to condemnation without looking any deeper into the matter whatsoever. See "I am a belly dancer," above.
 And of course, the list could go on and on. The fact of the matter is, no matter WHAT choices we make, someone will judge us for them. It's a fact of life, and as a blogger, it's certainly a fact of putting myself "out there." I understand and accept this, and I'm dealing with it as best I can. I make myself vulnerable by maintaining this blog. Some people appreciate that and are loyal readers who enjoy my writing. Others take advantage of that and use their words as weapons.

I am very sorry for that. But I am NOT going to judge that person or persons in return. They may be having a bad day. They may be having a bad month. They may think that they are being charitable by pointing out what they see as my sinful behavior and are concerned for my soul. I hope that they will give me a chance to explain, but I cannot force them to. They may hurt me, but I'm not going to lash back.

I'm just going to go about my business, blogging like usual. Because I love blogging. And I love blogging about all of the things that make this blog, and this woman, unique. I hope that you and I, dear reader, will have a long and happy future together as we journey along this thing called life. It's not always easy (especially when you have suffered through reading this entire post. :0 Your sacrifice has been duly noted...) but we do our best.

I promise to be chirpier tomorrow, scouts honor. :0

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five Favorites {vol. 2} Bad day edition...

I almost didn't blog today, because I'm not having a very good day. And you know how bad days are. It's not just one challenging thing that came up. It's one difficult thing that comes up, and then while your back is turned something sneaky happens over there, and *then* you're so distracted by all of this you lock yourself out of your office, and *then* you spill your tea on yourself so catastrophically that you have to actually go home, change your pants, and apply burn salve to your legs, and *then* on the way back to work your muffler falls off the car...

I will grant, all of these things did not happen *today* but they *have* happened to your Catholic Librarian. Multiple times. But in other words, lots of "stuff" happens on a bad day, it's not just any one thing. And when you're having a day like that, it's difficult to see the good in anything. But I'm going to try. Without further ado, here are my 5 favorite parts of having a bad day:

-1- You find out who your friends really are

Those that rush to soothe and support you, that offer to single-handedly beat up anybody who hurts you...they rule.

-2- You realize that you don't care so much what people think of you anymore and you say what you really want

Being a shy person means filtering what I say a lot. I'm just very reserved. I don't often say what I really think because I avoid confrontation and controversy like they were deadly flesh-eating diseases. Putting yourself "out there," on social media, on your blog, in your public service-related job, in all those things, it opens you up to comments. To criticism, sometimes mean spirited. It's not fun. And one certainly should not be mean spirited right back, but it makes a person realize that perhaps they can articulate their opinion after all.

-3- You focus more on the things that are truly important

Mike. The kids. My sisters. My good friends. Even my patrons. Someone comes up with a question somewhat laced with attitude? Suddenly, I see that as an opportunity to spread charity to that person rather than feel impatience build against them. Maybe they're having a bad day too. Let me be an incident of good cheer in that person's bad day, rather than more negativity.

-4- You give yourself a break

I'm hard on myself, always have been. But on a really, really bad day I realize that I don't need to be. There are other people out there that are going to do that, whether I want them to or not, and whether I deserve it or not. I should be kind to myself.

-5- You have a glass of wine and know that things will feel better in the morning

Yes, that is what I will be doing tonight. Do you think the muffler shop will have a chilled bottle of Chardonnay at the ready? Because that is where my car and I will be in a few hours. I wasn't exaggerating about that particular factoid.

We'll get there. Check other Five Favorites over at :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vocations Spotlight: Fr. Kyle Sanders, Part 1

Happy Monday all! I am very pleased to start a new (and hopefully ongoing) series on vocations. What I'd like to do is feature slice of life glimpses from Catholics in different vocations: How did they discern their vocation and what is their day-to-day life like? 

We begin with the priesthood. Fr. Kyle Sanders is an engaging young priest who graciously agreed to my request for a Q&A post, and he introduces himself at his blog, Reverenced Reading, as follows: 
"I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA."

 And so without further ado, here is the first part of my interview with Fr. Kyle:

Would you briefly describe your childhood faith background?

I grew up in a mixed religion family. My father is Catholic and my mother is Baptist. They were married in the Church, and part of them receiving dispensation for doing so my father promised to raise their children Catholic. For the whole of my cogent life, my mom has not darkened the door of a Baptist church except for her mother's funeral (but she has come to see her son celebrate mass). My father grew up in a mixed religion family. His mother was Catholic and his father was a faithful Presbyterian (who oddly enough was a tour guide in St. Louis Cathedral). My dad, then, had experience seeing what it was like to raise a child Catholic in the midst of a mixed religion family. His mother was what one would call 'a church lady' only her holiness offset the self-righteousness generally attributed to the breed. I was baptized as a child and went to Catholic grammar school. I learned about Scripture and about the faith and was a bit more attentive than most of my classmates at mass. I became an altar server in the fourth grade. My prayer life consisted primarily of the guardian angel prayer before bed.

When and why did you decide to become a priest? Was it a specific experience, or did it take root over a long period of time?

I would maybe rephrase the question slightly to 'when and why did you decide to answer the call to become a priest?' Because ultimately, the man discerns with the Church in the Holy Spirit and although a man may 'decide' to become a priest the call must be confirmed by the Church as a genuine call.

The call was initially inspired by the witness of a newly ordained priest who was assigned to the parish where I attended youth group. I was attracted to the way that he was living his life. They way that he led worship in mass. He was happy, and a happy priest was not what I grew up with.

Then during my senior year of high school, I came to the crossroads all seniors come to: where am I going to college? The call the that I had heard two years earlier was still there. It had come back in small ways, like little grace-filled post-it notes, little reminders, but I wanted to be 'sure.' So I spent many hours upon hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament praying for the discernment of my vocation. Slowly I was beginning to abandon myself to the divine will although it was still not totally clear for me.

Then one night I was in adoration. A person walked into the chapel and soon after his phone rang. I had my eyes closed praying the rosary, but I could hear unintelligible speech outside. He comes back into the chapel and asks the person closest to the door where a neighboring parish was. As soon as those words leapt from his mouth my heart lit up like a bonfire of Guy Fawkes Day. It was beating as loud as a military tattoo. In all that, I heard the words, 'Kyle, show him where it is.' I hesitated out of confusion mixed with fear, but the fire and beating of my heart was irresistible. So I got up and left the chapel. I could see his break lights so I ran to his car and knocked on the driver's window. I could tell I scared him, but he rolled down the window and in the glint of the streetlight I could see the white of a Roman collar. I was too slow to realize the importance of that. I told him to follow me, and he did. We arrived at the parish and the parking lot was packed. The pastor of that parish was also the chaplain at my high school so I figured I'd say hello, only he wasn't anywhere on the campus. Resigned not to see him, I walk back towards my car. In the parking lot, I ran into the priest that first initiated my desire for the priestly life. This is the second priest but I still wasn't getting it. He invited me to go a part of the campus I had not explored where there was a dinner. I walk into the school cafeteria and on a white banner hanging from the ceiling written in red letters were the words 'Thank You Priests for Being Priests.' It was then that I realized what God was doing. I spent the next 10 minutes outside in tears, praise and awe of what the Lord had done.

Do you have any suggestions or guidance for those who are currently struggling with vocational discernment?

My first advice would be to pray, pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more. We aren't able to receive the depth of the Lord's will unless we listen in silence within the communion of prayer.

Abandon your own thoughts and desires and make your prayer to be conformed to the will of the Father. In other words pray often with the agony in the garden and the conversion of St. Paul.

The Lord doesn't work episodically like a sit-com. He's more of a novel writer, so reflect on your past as look and see where and when He was active. He's been guiding you and showing you His desire for you throughout the entirety of your life, not just now.

 The above are the questions relating to discernment of his priestly vocation, we still have more to come from Fr. Kyle! Before I give you a teaser for what I'll post next week, I wanted to briefly reflect on what is written here. I find family faith stories SO incredibly interesting, and I note that Fr. Kyle came from a mixed religious household. That applies to so many families, and shows that a vocation to the priesthood can blossom even when both parents aren't Catholic. 

I absolutely loved Father's clarification on my second question, about how he decided to become a priest. His explanation of it as "answering a call" rather than a decision in the traditional sense is just beautiful. As well, I know that I will be reflecting on his thoughts about discernment for a long time to come. His description of the Lord being a novel writer, and our discernment of His Will as needing to incorporate a look back on the story of our lives to see where He has been active and how He has been guiding just sublime. This visual will guide my prayers from now on. The Lord as the Master Storyteller, I just love this. And we certainly need to be paying attention to the plot to see where the author is leading us, no?

Come back next Monday to learn about Fr. Kyle's thoughts on:

- his favorite experience in priestly ministry;
- the most challenging part of priestly ministry;
- his daily prayer routine and how he balances it amongst his other responsibilities;
- the highly underused Sacrament of Reconcilliation;
- Pope Francis,

...and more! To keep up with Fr. Kyle and his ministry, sign up to subscribe to his blog, Reverenced Reading, and/or follow him on Twitter, his handle is @colonel4God.

Thank you SO much to Fr. Kyle for agreeing to be featured in Vocations Spotlight at Life of a Catholic Librarian, and see you all next week for Part 2 of his interview!

*Photo courtesy of artur84, at

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes {Take 19} - Strange goings-on in the library, parenting woes, and it's nearly Advent! edition...

-1- "What goes *on* in the library at night?!"

I worked the evening reference shift yesterday. We all have to volunteer for a few "undesirable" shifts each semester, and this was one of mine. So, at 5 pm, I station myself at the reference shift and try to look alive. There was a decidedly odd looking character sitting near the desk with a gigantic suitcase sitting next to him (?!) and I did my best not to make eye contact. If he asked me something, obviously I would help him, but I don't go looking for trouble at the reference desk. A student came up with a fairly lengthy question, and I helped her happily, feeling very librarian-like. She left satiated, and I glanced behind me. Odd Character was still there, but he was being quiet. Suddenly, a man approaches the reference desk. He seemed intent on selecting one of the free pencils we leave out there, but I glanced up and smiled at him to see if he needed anything else. He leans over in a conspiratorial fashion.

Whispery Man: "*something garbled*"

Catholic Librarian: "I'm sorry?"


You know how those moments go. In a split second, my face went from "How can I help you, my friend?!" to "Dude, you're WEIRD! PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM MY PERSONAL CIRCLE OF SAFETY!"

So, my face said that to him although my voice said in a startled fashion, "of course not!" and he gave me a frightened look and scampered off. He loitered near the Circulation Desk for a long time making the students there very uneasy, before finally tiptoeing out the front door.

When the sun goes down, this is what happens in the library.

-2- The sublime state that is receiving books...

When I got home, I found a happy package from Image Books with a title for me to review here on this blog.

*angels sing*

So, dear reader, in addition to the scheduled monthly installments of the Catholic Book Club that I have listed on the right sidebar, I will occasionally review other books of interest under the Catholic Book Club tag. You can use that tag to find all of my posts in that series for suggestions on reading material, and I hope that my reviews prove helpful. #halo

-3- "Mommy, Anne's stomach hurts!!"

Also awaiting me when I got home:

"Anne's having that problem again."

Oh sigh. To put it delicately, this child has digestive issues more often than anybody on the *planet* it seems. We're constantly plying her with fruit and juices that, *ah hem*, work toward the end we're seeking, but it's a tough sell, let me tell you. We just want her to be comfortable, and do what we can for her, but it causes no end of anxiety. For her and for us. This pall hangs over the household until she produces and we all breath a collective sigh of relief. Mike calls this phenomenon: "Poo Tension." Yes, I just said the word "poo." I do that sometimes on this blog. When you're a parent of small children you gotta do what you gotta do.

-4-  "I need sources for a paper." "Ok, what's your topic?" "I don't know."

 In other librarian news, things have quieted down for me in terms of instruction, but my efforts continue to bear fruit :0 in the form of lovely (and sometimes clueless) students who wander into my office. Truly, though, I do love helping them. Even when clueless, they're generally a joy, and they appreciate my help, and so I send them happy, positive vibes. This one was a tough sell that he had to narrows his topic down a bit from, you know, ANCIENT ROME, but he was very sweet. We found some books on military tactics and developments within Ancient Rome in the Catalog, and I showed him how to find them in the stacks via the Library of Congress Call Number System. And then how to check them out. He's a freshman, he's excused.

-5- For those that *really* like praying the rosary/ have a LOT of time on their hands...

Ok, back to Catholic "stuff." I am starting a 54 day rosary novena today for a special intention.  If you start today, dear reader, you will finish up on New Years Eve, vigil of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Sweet, right?! If you've been meaning to make such a novena, join us! You pray a rosary each day for your intention for 27 days. Then for the subsequent 27 days, you pray in thanksgiving for your intention. If you have a biggie on your heart, this novena is just splendid. I prayed one back when I was pregnant with Anne that I still think back on. Because Henry did indeed end up in Catholic school (read the linked post to see what the heck I'm talking about :)).

-6- Advent fever is really picking up!!

Be prepared to be annoyed by me this Advent, because I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself. Hence, ready yourself for daily Advent posts and linkups. Heck, it's not even Advent yet and I'm already posting on it. I was thinking that I haven't written a Catholic Nook post in about a month,  and let's just say an Advent-themed one is percolating for next week. Stay tuned!

-7- Vocations Spotlight Mondays, coming right up!

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but I'm going to have a new short series on this blog highlighting religious vocations. My first victim :) is a young priest, and he graciously responded to all of my questions , and so part 1 of his interview will be posted on Monday! Please do check back to read about his faith story and discernment process. The following week he will discuss his ministry and daily life as a priest. Come check it out!

Thank you to Jenn for hosting 7 Quick Takes, and head over, quick like a bunny, for more posts!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blessings abound as we prepare for the holy season...

Afternoon all, and welcome to all new readers! I've been doing a lot of linkups lately, which I hope you all don't mind (*blows kiss*) because that is a fabulous way for me to gain readership. The proof is in the statistics, that's for sure. But I never want this blog to lose what it's original intent was: as a "life blog," full of humor and real life anecdotes. I always craft that into my linkup posts as well.

But I have had a good number of new people sign up as official "followers" of the blog, and I'm just so thrilled! I'm very excited to write about all of the upcoming Advent and Christmas goodness and I'm delighted to have you all along for the ride.

I was thinking this morning about Christmas preparations. This is something that throws me into panic mode every year. I have reigned in my knitting/crocheting, you'll all be relieved to know. I have *most* gifts finished. Although I still haven't crocheted a single dishcloth, and those are my big ticket items for relatives on Christmas Eve *bites nails*. But everything else that I *really* wanted to get done, aside for a few things, is done. I will spare you dragging out The List yet again. Suffice it to say that the only things I really still want to get done are Mike's cardigan (I added an inch or so of stockinette stitch to the 1.25 inches of ribbing, GO ME!!) and my knitting group exchange gift, which is coming right along. It'll take me several more weeks to finish it (the final fabulousness will speak for itself) but I should finish it by mid-December. So we're good.

Oh wait. I promised Mike I'd crochet a Christmas tree skirt since our old one fell apart last year. To have it finished by the first Sunday of Advent, I'll need it done in (*large pause as I realize I haven't updated my permanent calendar for November yet, yikes*) just over 3 weeks.

Oh dear. And then there's the dishcloths. And the fact that Mike's cardigan won't even fit a newborn for several more weeks. This might be bad.

But I'm not going to worry about it. Whatever gets done, gets done, is what I've learned. I don't want stress to ruin my Advent.

Mike and I were talking about the kids' gifts this morning. We want them to have a wonderful Christmas, but Christmas isn't all about getting gifts, of course. It can be tough with the grandparents, because both sets spoil our children rotten. I'm not saying that that's totally a bad thing, but it makes it hard on Mike and I when what is under the tree Christmas morning pales in comparison to what is at their grandparent's houses waiting for them. I want our children to (a) show proper appreciation for each gift they get, and (b) not expect a huge show of gifts just because it's Christmas, and (c) understand that Christmas is about so much more than gifts. No easy feat, but we're going to try.

We need to start budgeting, so we came up with a small, but thoughtful, list of items for each child. I'm sure we'll add a few things to it, but we thought of 3 gifts each that I know they'll really love.

Henry is about at that age where he begins to get tough to buy for. We don't own a video game system (to his great consternation) so his choices are limited in that regard. He's 8 this year, Anne is 2. What are you getting for your children this year for Christmas? How do you impress upon the meaning of the season? Leave me some comments, I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Favorites {vol. 1} Of baking and book ordering...

Trying out a new linkup this week, hosted by Hallie over at MoxieWife! So, what are 5 of my favorite things this week...

-1-Non-Repulsive Baked Goods

This, of course, would be things that *I* have baked, Little Miss Twitchy Fingers when it comes to anything involving butter and the oven. I mentioned this in my post yesterday, but I'm not the world's best baker. *clears throat delicately*

I suppose that's an understatement.

Yesterday, however, I needed to bake something to send to school with Henry for his birthday, and I picked up two boxes of Betty Crocker cookie/brownie bar mix. Good old, Betty. She gave me directions for doubling the recipe and hence baking everything in a 9x13 pan, and so I trusted her. If you follow me on Twitter, you chronicled my experience right along with me under the hashtag #DisastersInBaking. Sounds like so much fun, right?!

We had a couple of missteps involving not-so-softened butter and "evenly" dropping the cookie batter onto the brownie mix, but in the end, they turned out edible. I wouldn't say that they turned out particularly *attractive*, but we cannot have everything, can we, dear reader?

-2- Big Boy Birthday Dinners With My Little Guy

Last night, Mike and I took Henry out for dinner at a restaurant of his choosing for his 8th birthday. He chose a local steak restaurant, and off we trekked. I don't know that Henry had ever *tasted* steak before, but inexperience has never stopped him from wanting to do anything. :0

He was all excited about the included salad bar, and came away with a plate full of what he was coveting: croutons and buttered bread. He bravely ordered a small steak off the children's menu, and a wonderful time was had by all. Our other precious little one, Anne (aka "The Sassinator") was home with her grandmother. I think Henry liked having our attention solely on him.

-3- Advent Music

 I know it's not Advent yet (*sheepish*) but I couldn't help it, I listened to the samples of Advent at Ephesus again and again this morning . It was extremely soothing as I went through the fairly monotonous process of ordering books for the collection this morning. I just down that I'll be hitting the "1 click download!" button any day now.

-4- Odd but Gargantuan Monograph Funds

I work at a state university, so we usually have quite the opposite problem. Think: decades of people joking that our "storage facility" was the trunk of our director's car. But there is this one fund that I am now in charge of, and it's an endowment, so it's devoted to this one specific collection, and has lots of conditions set upon what you can buy. And it's large. It's actually *hard* to spend all the money since it's such a specialized collection. It is, however, seriously cool. Byzantine Studies. I mean, did you ever?! I'm in charge of ordering thousands of dollars worth of books on the early Church?

*eyes widen*

Let's just say that I'm enjoying this new task immensely.

-5- Vocation Stories

Next week I'm going to debut a new series about vocations on this blog, starting with a few priests that I met at the CNMC. They were kind enough to answer a series of nosy questions that I sent them about how they discerned their vocations and their daily lives as priests. Vocational Monday? Priesthood Tuesday?! I don't know, but I'm terribly excited about this. I may try and find some nuns to play along as well, we'll have to see. But I absolutely love personal faith stories, and these are going to be awesome, so stay tuned!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 18}

Well, I made it through Halloween alive, and I'm pleased to report that it did go a lot better than last year, even if it did rain. BUT, before I forget, if you'd like to join in my linkup on why we value our online Catholic community, it's still open here! Plenty of time to still add your blog if you'd like. But I digress. Let's chronicle our Halloween evening...

-1- I arrived home and mentally prepared myself for the events to come. This sounds dramatic, but for an introvert, Halloween is pretty much our worst nightmare. People come unannounced to your door and wait there until you answer and force an interaction with you including an exchange of goods. This happens repeatedly. Then you have to go outside with your unruly children and run into people on the street and make polite small talk with them.


-2- By the time the children got home from their grandparents I was ready to go. It was already after 5 pm, and both were amped up and acting disorderly. Since I knew trick-or-treaters would start arriving by 6:30, I made an executive decision:

"Chicken nuggets for *everybody*!"

A quick dinner ensued, Mike and I having to talk Henry out of putting his costume on an hour before showtime at least a half dozen times.

-3- Soon, our doorbell started ringing.


Mike usually takes care of handing out candy, and I take the kids out, but this year things weren't so cut and dry.

(a) it was raining, and

(b) Anne was refusing to put on her costume, and

(c) Anne was refusing to go out trick-or-treating.


-4- Mike and I collaborated, and decided that he would take Henry out trick-or-treating:

The evil jester
...while I stayed home with Anne to hand out candy. I would post a picture of Anne ripping off her princess dress here, but somewhat predictably they all turned out blurry and I deleted them. Instead, I snapped this photo of myself in the mirror since I was desperately looking for a distraction by this point:

Oh, but here is a random picture of both children holding beer bottles that Mike must have taken this week:

Not sure how this one came to be, but the bottles are unopened :0
-5- Once a few more kids came to the door, Anne consented to put on her Rapunzel costume. I whipped it right over her clothes in case she changed her mind, but things started to go better from this point forward. Soon, Mike and Henry were back, and since Anne was now agreeable, we decided that I would take them both out trick-or-treating while Mike took over candy duty. We bundled. Mommy mixed herself a vodka...something to put into her water bottle ;-) and off we went, out into the rain.

"Anne is getting wet!"

"Yes, I know, sweetie, but it's either get wet or stay home."

That seemed to put an end to that issue.

-6- For about 6 houses, Anne refused to go to the door, staying on the sidewalk sullenly by my side while Henry went to get candy. But soon she got into the spirit, realizing that her cuteness would garner her quite a haul. Next thing you knew, she was racing up to doorways, patting pumpkins, and getting candy put into her Disney Princess bag.

"Mommy, I'm *tirreeedddd!*! Can we go home?!"

Now, the 8 year old was coming apart. Because both children are never happy at the exact same time.

-7- I forced him to stay out long enough for Anne to get to enjoy a few more houses (and for Mommy to finish her drink...) and we headed home, both children exhausted and happy. Far too much sugar was then consumed at home, Anne running around in her diaper while Henry carefully sorted his candy into categories (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). Then everyone was given baths and herded into bed.

A good time was had by all, and the Catholic Librarian is relieved that she survived this clearly extrovert-created holiday for yet another year.

Don't forget to head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes! Have a great weekend, everyone!