Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 29} Feasts, Super Bowl snacks, and early Lent prep edition...

Afternoon all! In contemplating my post for today, I thought to myself, "what is interesting and is going on with me right now?" I answered myself, "why, my weekend, of course!" Yes, I do talk to myself in my head. I hope that's not weird. And as for *how* interesting my weekend is, I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder. *I* find it interesting. One can only hope that no one reads this post and thinks to themselves, "oh that poor woman, she really thinks *that stuff* is interesting." Ah well. There's only one way to find out, no?

-1- Sunday is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, otherwise known as Candlemas. I posted about this yesterday, as I enjoy this day each year, as well as the feast of St. Blaise, coming up on Monday February 3rd. People get down on February, but it has some great feast days in it. #thisissoobvious ;-) It also has my birthday in it, so February has always been a hidden gem of a month to me. Although I will grant, the older I get the more my birthday seems like a looming punishment rather than a happy occasion, but I digress.

-2- Speaking of feasts, Monday will herald my next review in the Let Us Keep the Feast series of books! This installment will be for the Epiphany/Lent volume, complete with a giveaway. There is also a discount code that I will post if you'd like to purchase the book or the Advent/Christmas volume. Come back Monday for more feasting talk and fun!


-3- This coming Sunday is also Scout Sunday in our parish for Hank's cub scouts troop. Henry, adorably enough, was chosen to bring up the gifts during Mass, and I'm just bursting my buttons with pride and Catholic mom positive energy. The entire family is attending to see Henry in his big moment. Afterward, we will be having doughnuts and juice in the Parish Center while the kids conduct the Pinewood Derby. I think Anne will enjoy all of this too, and I'm terribly excited.

-4- Sunday is of course, also Super Bowl Sunday. Is it me, or is the Super Bowl actually the crappiest game of the entire season if you're a football fan? I mean, if your team is in it, then disregard my statement, because of course that is different. But otherwise, the Super Bowl bears no resemblance to a good old fashioned football game. It's all marketing drama and the half time show...don't even get me started. We're actually DVR'ing the game so that we can delay our start time and skip the half time show.

We're also having some friends over, so you know what this means. I'll be frantically picking up toys from right out of Anne's hands and making complicated snacks in the kitchen (that I've never tried to make before, but I think they sound *really impressive* so I'll try to make them anyway) to the detriment of my own emotional health. I'm planning a chicken wing dip and possibly a party bread. Do you think I could pull off Tapenade? See what I mean?

-5- I am also planning this weekend to engage in some Lenten preparation. Yes, I know that Lent is over a month away, but it never hurts to be overprepared does it, gentle reader? My impetus for this endeavor is the upcoming Olympics, and the fact that every two years I select a knitting project to complete in its entirety during the two weeks of the games. It's quite fun. What does this have to do with Lent? We're getting there. :) I have Lent crafting projects planned, and I thought the Olympics were the perfect opportunity to tackle and finish them before the end of February. Some of them are gifts, and I want them to get to their recipients prior to Ash Wednesday. You're trying to imagine a Lenten knitting project? Never fear, I will provide details when they are finished. Let's just say a lot of purple yarn will be involved.

-6- Speaking of Lent, I found out today that the lovely Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles are coming out with a new album, entitled "Lent at Ephesus." To say that this made my morning would be a gigantic understatement. It comes out February 11th and can be preordered now. I know you're as excited about this seasonally appropriate music as much as I am . :0

-7- I'm currently reading a fiction book that I'm really enjoying, called The Amish Bride, by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. This is book three in the Women of Lancaster County series, and I have enjoyed the other installments that I have read. The plots are much more complex than other Amish romances that I've read. I highly recommend!

I have a meeting (what have I done to deserve this?!) so I have to run. Enjoy your weekends, everyone! And head to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes! Talk to you on Monday!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Catholic Nook: Candlemas

http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/candles_candlelight_wick_223612.html
Annnndddd, we're back with another installment of the Catholic Nook! I've missed writing these posts, it's one of my favorite segments on the blog. I meant to write a few during Advent and was just too busy with other things. Pleased to be with you again, gentle reader. *beams*

Yesterday, I was brainstorming about topics, and it struck me that we are approaching February 2nd, an important day on the Church calendar. I just love the name, Candlemas! I mean, did you ever? Anything with a "mas" at the end is going to endear itself to me. So, what is Candlemas?

It is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, which we all know and love as the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated this feast on the fortieth day following the Nativity.

On this day, Jesus was brought to the Temple as an infant, in accordance with Jewish law. This is where Mary met up with Simeon, who prophesied that her heart would be "pierced by a sword." Obviously, for Mary, this was a very emotional visit. We don't know what Mary said to Simeon, if anything, but one would imagine that her heart and mind were awhirl with thoughts of what the future held for her son. This is also the day that the Church observes the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, another indication of Mary's obedience to the laws of her faith which bid her to ritually cleanse herself 40 days after giving birth.

In the liturgy, this days includes the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the year, and subsequently a candlelit procession through the darkened church, representing the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple in Jerusalem. As the procession makes its way through the church, the Canticle of Simeon is sung:

"Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2:29-32).

Every year my parish makes available for a minor donation beeswax taper candles that were blessed on Candlemas. I have bought some, and hoarde them in my bedside table for "when we need them." When might that be? The Apocalypse? I don't know, but it makes me feel safer having a stockpile of these candles. In fact, I should buy some more this year, I think we're down to only four. February 2nd is a Sunday this year, and I'm anxious to see the liturgy in action since I don't recall being present at a Mass on this day before. The procession may not happen at every parish, I'm reading, but I would think we would all see the blessing of the candles. Let's compare notes next week, shall we. :)

Does your parish offer blessed candles for home use after Candlemas each year? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clearly, I have too much time on my hands...

As Anne would say, da da DAAAAA!!!!

Hip new look, it's called "Librarian Sassy"
:) My new glasses. They are all the rage.

 And speaking of Anne...

She demanded in on the photo op.

"This is my 'I say cheese!!!' face"
I had to get them readjusted yesterday, but besides that all is well. I kind of love them.

Other than that, I don't have too much going on besides work and my family. Barreling through a tundra each day, sure. Just walking from my car to the library has been taking my life into my hands these days. That's been interesting.

I've also been knitting like crazy, and all of my walking and dancing has caused me to lose almost 2 pounds towards my 6 pound goal. You have to stay warm somehow. :0

I'm ruminating over a Catholic Nook post for tomorrow, that's long overdue. I haven't selected a definite topic yet, trying to keep it all suspenseful. If you have an idea, leave me a comment. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventures in tour guiding...

So, yesterday was my big day of finally volunteering at Henry's school to help out at the open house. I've been wanting to do this for years, but never had worked up the initiative. Anything that requires me to socialize with people I don't see all that often is something that makes my introverted personality want to run and hide. But our experience at the open house when we were looking to switch Henry to Catholic school was SO positive, and we have liked the school so much, that I wanted to give back a bit. The open house is a part of a larger "Catholic Schools Week," wherein Catholic education is promoted in the media, and fun activities are planned for the kids. It's a lovely thing to be a part of.

A form was sent home that you could write your name on if you wanted to volunteer for the open house. It helped that it was so easy, because I don't remember this form going home in the past. I just wrote my name down, and tucked the form into Henry's backpack. I figured I could be put to good use handing out brochures or welcoming people into the school. Pointing the way to the juice and cookies, perhaps.

Sunday morning dawns, and I dressed cutely and professionally, wanting to make a positive impression for the school. I head out, arriving a few minutes early, like a good eager beaver should. I look around for a few minutes, trying to find the room where the volunteers are slated to meet up. The problem, you see, is that I don't know my way around the school terribly well. I'm not involved in the Home School Association, and any other time I'm at the school for events Henry is a part of or for teacher conferences, I have Henry or Mike to guide me.

I see a few other people and tag along behind them. One of the women is clearly In Charge.

"Tour guides? Yes, right in here."

Uh oh.

Obviously, there must be another room where all of the NON-tour guides will go. The people who are fairly clueless and want to point to the cookies. I mill around for a bit, doing what I do best: listening in.

I discover nothing. Nobody else looks concerned about this turn of events. The form said nothing about volunteering to be a tour guide specifically. It just said, "if you'd like to volunteer for the open house, please sign this form and return it with your child." But there doesn't appear to be any other volunteer opportunities available. I wondered if everyone else knew about this tour guide thing. I casually sidle up to a lady who looks nice:

"Have you volunteered at the open house before?"

"No." Her eyes widen. Clearly, a kindred spirit.

"I don't know my way around very well, so I didn't realize they only needed tour guides..."

"Oh my gosh, ME NEITHER!"

I love this lady.

We talk for a bit, and I recognize a few mothers of children in Henry's class. Some clearly are part of the HSA and are "in the know." The others move over to our group.

"You know, I don't know my way around very well, I'm a little nervous about being a tour guide..."

Whew! It's not just me. However, we're all in a bit of a predicament. There are "tour guide information" announcements being made, and I'm feeling my palms sweat. Clearly, the people in charge need and expect us to be tour guides. I finally get an opportunity to corner the head lady:

"Do you need people to do other things besides being a tour guide? I don't know my way around the building very well."

"Well, no."

At least she's honest.

"Don't worry. Every parent is paired with a middle school student who has received formal training. The kids will do everything in terms of leading the way. We are in desperate need of adults to be a part of the tours. All you need to do is talk to the parents."

Well, she did phrase it in such a way that made me *somewhat* less anxious.  And sort of like I couldn't say no. So I obsessively read the sheet they had given us, wiping my damp palms on my pants. Keeping it classy.

Next thing you knew, I was placed with an 8th grader named Cassie and we were herded off to greet a set of parents with their 3rd grader in tow. The husband works for the diocese. Fabulous. No pressure there.

But honestly, it went very well. Their son is currently enrolled in public school (the same one Henry went to for kindergarten, so nice conversation fodder there) and would be going into 4th grade in the fall, also the same as Henry. I could tell that they definitely wanted to make the switch to Catholic school, it was just a matter of whether it would be this one or one other. The other one we considered for Henry, actually. Cassie led the way, and I made introductions, answered their questions, and inserted my experience as best I could.

They spent a lot of time at the school, so I'm hoping that they will enroll their son, we will see. I actually didn't have time to give another tour, since I was with them for the majority of the 2 hour open house. There was a HUGE turnout, with 10 local Catholic schools closing and parents scrambling to find new schools for their kids.

Thus, overall I had a very nice time. The initial anxiety notwithstanding, I'm so, so glad that I did this and really enjoyed participating. Since we toured the 4th grade room, I got a sneak peek at Henry's next room and teacher, which was a huge bonus. Everything just reinforced why we chose this school for Henry - I fell in love with the warmth, the sense of family and community, the Catholic statuary and prayers in every classroom. Another good open house experience.

Is it Catholic Schools Week in your diocese as well? Are you thinking about Catholic education? Leave me a comment!

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 28}, New Years resolutions and early morning Tiffany edition...


I'm still in recovery mode, but I'm doing a LOT better this week than last. Thank you for thinking of me, because I know you all were. :0 This week was one of transition for me, heading back to work and getting into a daily routine. I have also been pondering themes for the new year and how I want to shape things from here on out. And so, how did we do?

-1- *blank stare* "Um, what happened to...YOUR FACE?!"

My jaw is finally healing. I've been applying a special, natural cream obsessively like gangbusters, as well as other natural implements (see the bottom of Tuesday's post re: my husband and children living in a salad-like environment) and the bruising is really fading. The broken capillary situation still makes it appear like my face broke out a bit in that area, which is unfortunate, but beggars can't be choosers. I'm just grateful people no longer gasp when they see me. I think the moral of this story is that I need to work on my vanity, because clearly I have some.

#ugh

-2- "Excuse me, are you the librarian?" "Why yes!!" "Oh good." *expectant pause* "Where are the restrooms?"

So, the face situation is improving, but I'm finding that it's been difficult to adjust to going to work again. I'm not such a happy camper come 6 am, and I've been rushing in the mornings, which I HATE. But this has definitely been a week in which I feel very "out of sorts," especially at work. I don't like to feel out of sorts, I'm too Type A for this, gentle reader. Now that I have tenure, I rather feel very "where am I going?" I'm very goal oriented. I have met a major career goal, so what does this mean now?

I am a librarian, and I love being a librarian. But my responsibilities have changed a bit, more change is in the air, and I can't help but wonder what this means for my day-to-day tasks and my identity as a member of a service profession. I know that things will come together a bit over the course of this year, but I prefer instant gratification, I'll be honest. :0

As I've been doing the readings and prayers for my Marian consecration this year (via the book Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus Through Mary with Blessed John Paul II, I highly recommend it), I've been really reflecting on how my job is truly an important ministry, in the same way that many jobs are in the way I'm about to describe. People who are asking for help are vulnerable, we've all been there, and a kind response can make all the difference in their endeavor and in their day. That makes me feel a lot better.

-3- I used to LOVE creative writing in grade school *gold star!*

And thus work is still very disjointed right now in terms of what I will be doing over the course of the next few years. I don't feel very creative at work right now, I feel very "tasky." Personally though, my creativity is hitting a nice stride. I love that I have this blog. I have always been a regular blogger, right from when I started this baby up. :) I aim to post 5 days per week, but many weeks I can do only 3 or 4 posts. However, that is still plenty of content for a week, and it's a joy to do. It's a wonderful way for me to analyze and reflect on things happening in my life, and I love writing humorous material for the enjoyment of others. I feel *fulfilled* by the writing I do here. I don't get any notoriety or money for it, but that has never been my goal. I like writing, and people read my writing. That means so much to me. This makes your Catholic Librarian very HAPPY.

-4- *Somebody* actually likes me!!

Hence, it brings me great joy to let you know that this humble blog has been nominated for a 2013 Sheenazing Award over at A Knotted Life! This is actually a pretty big deal. :0 I've been seeing a lot about it on social media. My blog was nominated for "Best Link-Up" for the Advent Veiling Link-up that I hosted. If you'd like to vote for me, head on over! Voting is only until Monday, 1/27. I sort of need all the help I can get, given the competition. :0 You'll know what I mean when you see the list. :)

#itisanhonorjusttobenominated

-5- "Honey, I think the scale is broken again!! That's the *only* explanation for why I keep gaining and losing the same 2 lbs!!"

Ok, so in other New Years resolutions issues, I have determined that I want to, once and for all, lose what I call my "weaning weight." Yes, yes, I haven't nursed a baby since July 2012, but never us mind that little factoid. This happened with both of my kids. I lose my pregnancy weight, but over the course of breastfeeding I put on a little weight that is SO difficult to lose after the baby is weaned and your metabolism changes. I want to lose 5.5-6 lbs. I know that isn't a big deal, but it would be nice to just take that off and get back into a good routine of healthy eating and regular exercise. It's an overall wellness goal, truly. These are important things for those of us (ah hem ) pushing 40. And thus I have cracked down on myself with snacking and have been trying to pack healthy lunches and plan dinners again. It takes a long time to really change habits, but this week we've made excellent progress. Which leads nicely into...

-6- *Middle Eastern music blares*

I like to walk, but making time for that isn't always easy with the kids and my job. I have been prioritizing it again of late, but some days it simply isn't possible. And so, I have come up with a new alternative plan for those days that I'm quite pleased with.

I'm not a gym person, and plus I'm exhausted in the evenings after I get home from work. Exercise is the last thing I want to do. But I always love to dance, and dancing is about much more than burning calories to me. It's also about creativity. So, on the days that I can't walk, I put Anne to bed and for 15-20 minutes I dance. I put one of my belly dance playlists on shuffle (I have pop music, classic, drum, Saidi, slower rhythms that work with veil, general instrumental that doesn't fit into another category, I AM INSANE) and just improvise to whatever comes on. I did this last night, and it was *fabulous*. Not only does it get my heart rate up for that spell of time, it is FUN, and it allows me to work on my improvising abilities.

Speaking of which, for the first time, I watched a video of myself dancing solo. It took a lot of courage, I really think I deserve a medal for this. And I needed a drink afterward, but it actually wasn't as bad as I feared. :0 The fact that I even dance solo now is quite a miracle, let me tell you. It wasn't bad! I did see some things that I can improve on (I saw that many of my movements were smaller because I was nervous, I like to be in control, what can I say), and it was an excellent learning opportunity. Happy! I now need to figure out a way to create a file for my family and friends. I am a bit technology impaired in such matters. 

-7- Brushing up on my pamphlet handing-out abilities...

 In another resolution, I am going to stop just *talking about* doing things I've always wanted to do, and actually do them. The open house for Henry's Catholic school is on Sunday, and I have volunteered. We had an outstanding experience at the open house when we were looking at the school for Henry, and with Catholic schools closing in our area due to lack of enrollment, I really want to help out. So I'm signed up for Sunday with absolutely no idea what I'll be doing, but I'm resourceful. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself, that's always the goal. I'll report in on Monday!

All right, back to work! Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Catholic Book Club: Walking with Mary

January's selection for our Catholic Book Club is Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri. I thought it was a great title for a month that begins with a solemnity dedicated to Our Lady and includes so many interesting feast days of saints devoted to her. A theme!

This is a much more serious spiritual book than I usually read. I may in fact have spiritual ADD, I just have such a difficult focusing on books that contain more academic writing about such topics. I'm happy to report that this book kept me interested, despite it being a very scholarly and well researched source.

My favorite thing about this book is that it is set up chronologically as a look at the major events in Mary's life. It made her seem very "human," which of course she was, but we so often see her saintly countenance in artwork that it's easy to forget that she was (in most ways) just like you and I during her earthly life.

The author begins with some background information about Mary and the time and region that she lived in, including her betrothal to Joseph and things that we can surmise about her family. *Extremely* interesting historical information, much of which I had not known.

Dr. Sri's chronology mirrors specific mysteries of the Rosary (very lovely), and begins with the Annunciation. He draws heavily from Scripture as he writes about Mary's response to the angel Gabriel and what this meant for her future. We also read about the Visitation, and then Mary's journey to Bethlehem, including some fascinating information about the Roman census and what this meant for her and Joseph. Next, we explore the Presentation in the Temple, and Mary's likely sickening realization that her motherly heart was going to be broken beyond repair sometime before her death. The chapter on the Finding in the Temple is particularly fascinating, examining how such a seemingly embarrassing incident was the only event from Jesus' childhood recorded in Scripture, and how it could have easily happened given the customs of the time. The final chapters of the book address Jesus' miracle at Cana, the Crucifixion, and Mary crowned in glory as seen in the biblical book of Revelation.

I really enjoyed the way that Dr. Sri approached this topic, and learned a great deal not only about Our Lady, but about the history and customs of that time period. His knowledge of Scripture is solid, and there is a tremendous opportunity within this book for in-depth study of the passages he cites. In fact, this would be an outstanding book to tackle as a Bible study over Lent. I would recommend the book to anybody wanting to learn more about the Mother of Jesus and the reasons why the Catholic Church views her in such high esteem.

What did you think of this book? Leave me a comment!

Ok, so January is a wrap! For February we will be reading The Hidden Face of St. Therese, by Ida Friederike Gorres. Great Lenten preparation! Lent doesn't start until March this year, so major prep work in February. Join us!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Catholic Librarian weekend of hookah, potty training, and visits to the periodontist...

Aren't you all just simmering with excitement. :0

Lots happening, let's see...I suppose we should just start with Friday:

My face continues to heal, but it is still bruised even today, so you can imagine that on Friday it looked even less good, if that makes any sense. I was determined, however, to have a night in which I felt normal again. Prior to dance class, I applied makeup for the first time all week, slathering on the concealer and carefully straightening my hair. I thought I looked pretty decent. :0 I arrive at class, and:

"Oh my gosh, ARE YOU OK?! You look so different!!"

Let's just say I've been feeling pretty self-conscious about the whole thing. I know it isn't permanent, but looking different than you usually do is tough psychologically, you know? I'm so impatient about healing processes. A day is fine, but after that I want to be back to my normal self. :0 I probably still have a week or two to go before the bruising is totally faded, so I'm steeling myself for the long haul.

At any rate, Friday night after class I went with a few dance friends to a local hookah lounge to see one of our troupemates perform. Happily, it was dimly lit, so I wasn't too worried about my face. :0 I had never been to a hookah lounge before. I'm not a smoker, so the intensity of the smokey environment isn't really my thing, but it really wasn't that bad. It was pretty low key, the owner and other employees were very respectful of the belly dancer. I had fun, although I do so hate being places in which the music is so loud you can't talk to/hear your table companions. #signofaging?

Too depressing to contemplate.

Anyway, it doesn't matter how many times I've seen someone dance, I ALWAYS love to watch them again and again. Everyone brings something unique to each performance and each interpretation of a song. I love dance. It's a real lovefest.

Saturday, our potty training adventures with Anne continued. It appears that our potty training experience with her goes as follows:

Day 1 - Anne = 1, Potty Pushing Parents = 4. There is much rejoicing.

Day 2 - Anne = Too Many to Count, Potty Pushing Parents = Totally Defeated.

Day 3 - Anne = 3, Exhausted Parents = 3. It's neck and neck.

Day 4 - Anne =5, Parents Losing All Hope in a Joyful Tomorrow = 1.

This morning, however, I get a phone call at work. I answer.

"Hello?"

"Hi Mommy."

The kid can now have full phone conversations? I wish she would stop growing up so fast!!

"Hi Anne. How are you, Sweetie?"

"I am good. Guess what, Mommy?"

"What?"

"I went poo!"

It's a true sign that you're a parent when you get excited about bowel movements and talk about them on your blog.

"Did you go poo *in the potty*?!"

"Yes, Mommy!!!"

"GOOD GIRL!! I'm so proud of you. Mommy will bring you home a treat!"

"*happy giggle* I have my green ball, Mommy."

*rest of the conversation is a bit odd* You know how that goes. ;)

So, today may be a good day. Tomorrow may make us lose our will to live. We will have to see.

So that's the potty news. In periodontal news, I went for a post op followup yesterday. My periodontist is just the sweetest person. He saw me and I could see a pained look of chagrin cross his features.

"Oh, I really got you good, didn't I? I'm sorry!"

A periodontist who apologizes? This guy is a keeper.

He looked in my mouth and declared that I am doing excellent, that the healing is going smashingly. I have to leave the lower sutures in until next Monday (which is a drag, they're really loose and bothering my poor beleaguered tongue) but everything looks great. I go back in a week for the final suture removal.

And so, that is that. I'm hoping that next week my bruising will be almost gone. I've been a woman on a mission, trying to look up natural foods and creams that cause bruises to heal faster.

*Mike comes home* *sniffs the air suspiciously*

"Honey, did you make...a really big salad?"

"Why?! Does it smell like vinegar in here?!"

"Well yeah."

"No."

*does not elaborate, due to bizareness of concoction*

We'll get there. :)

Tune in tomorrow for January's edition of the Catholic Book Club! We'll be discussing Walking with Mary, by Edward Sri.

How was everyone's weekend? Leave me a comment!

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 27} Healing, Catholic schools, and potty training edition

Lots of personal healing and milestones being undertaken this week at the Catholic Librarian home. And you would expect no less than lots of discreet details, no?

;-)

-1- I am officially de-swelled from my dental surgery. I am, however, sporting bruises on the lower part of my face which are forming a very unfortunate goatee pattern. The bruises are oddly colored, much darker than normal bruises, and thus makeup isn't doing too much to aid my cause. I keep telling myself that they will fade (eventually, sigh), but in the mean time I look a bit swarthy.

#notrealhappy

-2- And of all nights, I'm scheduled to go to a hookah lounge tonight (don't ask) to see a belly dancer friend perform. I'm planning on breaking out the concealer again later, but I'm not real optimistic that I'll look cute enough for public viewing. Alas, what is a post op girl to do?

-3- Henry, though, is officially recovered. He had some sort of 24 hour bug. He doesn't get sick real often, and I nurture the heck out of him when he does. I can't help it, I think it's in my DNA. I MUST NURTURE. I baked a pan of brownies that came out harder than a concrete wall, but I put a lot of love into them. Baking has just never been my forte. At any rate, he went back to school today, fit as a fiddle.

-4- And speaking of his school, we had a scary news item that we were awaiting this week. Over the past 10 years, our diocese has closed and/or consolidated a significant number of parishes and Catholic schools. It was all very heartbreaking, but I understand that population shift and subsequent financial hardship meant that there was no other option. Back in the fall, we heard that once again some schools would be closed. The diocese currently operates 51 Catholic K-8 schools, and they wanted to take that number down to 41 by the next academic year. Henry's school has a decent number of students (considering the situation, with fewer families choosing Catholic school), but over the past 10 years has lost almost 200 students in their total population number. There is also another Catholic school a stone's throw from here. We were sweating it a bit. Henry brought home the letter the other day, and his school is remaining open. Big sigh of relief there.But of course, 10 schools were not so lucky, and there are a lot of unhappy parents.

-5- And so, Anne. She is two years and eight months old, and the time is nigh. She needs to be potty trained. We've been putting it off, because, you know. We have a new couch. And we're a bit lazy. :0 We did try several months ago, and it went very poorly. As is every child who has ever been born, Anne is a bit resistant to the idea of sitting on the potty. So we did what we could this morning. We got her set up with a Dora episode, her pink potty, a salty snack, and a juice box. M&M's awaited a successful pee pee into the pot. Sometime into the second Dora episode, we heard a tinkling sound. A glance up evidenced a wide eyed Anne staring at us.

#victoryisours

-6- The second go round didn't go so smoothly. There was an attempt at hiding under the dining room table. There was pee pee in the princess underpants. There was a request to please put the potty away. But eventually, with a bit of unabashed bribing, Anne sat on the potty again. Before the end of her show, more pee pee was produced. I'm hoping that we're *finally* getting somewhere.

-7- And so, back to my mouth. :0 I get at least some of the stitches removed Monday morning, and I'll be back to work Tuesday. You will hear from me then, with amusing updates on all matters dental, pee pee and hookah-related. Until then!

Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reporting in from the infirmary, and some thoughts on prayer and consecration...

Well, we now have 2 diminished family members, and only 2 healthy ones. :0 Henry came home from school yesterday with chills and a fever. The poor babe ended up in bed for the rest of the day. He's home from school sick today, though he is definitely much improved over yesterday. I've been nurturing him by baking (or at least attempting to, please don't inquire about the finished products :0) and trying to feed him. He is not complaining.

As for me, I'm still sore, but healing well. My jaw has gone from swollen to bruised pretty quickly, so the "bar brawl" look is going to be lingering for some time. :-\ I'd actually rather have the bruising over the swelling though, truth be told. Swelling rather distorts your face, making you a stranger to yourself. With bruising, I look like me, just with bruises. :) We're getting there. I'm still working on making "punched!" seem like a cute new look. (I just tried to take a photo of myself to show off my bruises, and let's just say that didn't go so well. *hits delete button on camera*)

Other than that, I've just been doing things around the house and tending to the kids. Not very exciting, but the time has been quite nice, since it's so different from my usual office routine. Each day I have been reading from Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus Through Mary With Blessed John Paul II. I have been praying alone with Cristina, and it has been wonderful. It's a 33 day process, and our consecration day is set for February 11th, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The book is downloaded to my Kindle, making it cumbersome to flip between the daily prayers and the readings, and so Cristina made me some prayer cards and sent them to me:

Isn't she fabulous?! That's my cute journal in the background, part of the prayer process with this particular book. Although I was never very good at keeping a paper journal, I have always loved picking one out. I feel very inspired by the beautiful cover that I select for about 3 days. :0 Blogging has been a much better source of journaling for me. But a prayer journal is much easier. You can just write whatever words come to mind while you are praying, and voila! Instant fodder for future contemplation time. I'm loving it.

A Marian consecration following the formula of St. Louis de Montfort (of which Totus Tuus is one of many) can be started on any number of dates throughout the year, all scheduled to synch up with a Marian feast day. I like this January/February timeline since it's a cozy time of being inside, leaving lots of quiet time for reflection. Last year, February 11th, the date I finished my consecration for 2013, was the date Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to step down from the papacy, a big day! I was so glad that I had been in a formal time of prayer leading up to that. One of the words that I keep writing in my journal is "silence." Winter is a time of silence to me. Reflection while the world and nature are sleeping.

All right, Henry is on his third episode of "G.I. Joe", which means it's time for me remember that I'm a mother and wrap this up. I'll be back tomorrow for 7 Quick Takes Friday. I hope that you all have a lovely Thursday evening!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This post is about nothing, truly.

Aren't you so glad you subscribe to this blog for uplifting titles such as this one. ;-)

Just checking in! I have zero ideas for this post (very unlike me :)) I just figured I'd post an update for how things are going here on the home front. My swelling has gone down a bit overall, but my lower jaw is still very much swollen. Also, in the 30 minutes I wasn't examining my gums in the mirror this morning, bruising started to develop on my chin.

Oh goody.

SO glad that I took the whole week off from work. Taking off more than 3 consecutive sick days triggers this horrific FMLA train at work, even when you have paid time accrued (don't get me started, the whole thing makes me SO mad) but I'm glad that I tackled the paperwork beast so that I don't have to go to work looking like someone punched me in the face.

Thank goodness for small favors. :0

The inside of my mouth is healing. I will spare you the details, but on a Disgusting Scale of 1-10, with 10 being "hideous and frightening" and 1 being "a choir of angels sing, you look so good", my lower gums are now around a 4. That's down from a solid 7-8, so things are looking up. :)

It's been nice being home. Anne is loving having me home and I'm enjoying lots of nice errand running with her and Mike while Henry is at school. I've been happily reading the daily readings and prayers from Totus Tuus for my Marian consecration next month, as well as keeping up with the Magnificat prayers, knitting and tweeting. :) It's been lovely.

I'm hoping that my swelling will be down enough for me to go to dance on Friday. I'm optimistic. I get my stitches out on Monday, which I can't wait for. Things are going great!

How are things with you all?! Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you as I convalesce.

*beams*

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm alive

;-)

It certainly feels good to be on the other side of that one. I am a complete baby when it comes to dental work, and so I rather feel like I deserve a medal for even going through with this. I thought that for the benefit of anyone who finds this post and is need of the same procedure, and for the amusement of all of us, I would chronicle my experience. Let us begin. :)

And so, now that I have actually gone through with this, I can say what I had done: a soft tissue graft.

Go ahead. Hide. After reading that hideous statement, I know you want to. Come back when your stomach feels ready. :0

Due to a lot of orthodontic work when I was a child, as an adult I developed a condition called recession of the gums in the lower front of my mouth. It was especially bad in front of my middle 3 teeth. If you leave this alone, you risk all sorts of horrifying stuff happening, including ultimately losing those teeth. Since I'm not yet 40, my teeth still have a long way to go, and my dentist encouraged me to see a periodontist (gum specialist) about what could be done.

I put this off for, oh...well over a year. Because seriously, who wants to see a *gum* specialist? NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND, that's who. But eventually, I went, albeit reluctantly.

He was nice, and let me tell you, that was his saving grace. :0 I don't have vile sounding procedures done by mean doctors, no sir. He explained that what can be done for gum recession is a grafting of tissue onto those exposed roots, usually taken from your own upper palate.

Go ahead, hide again, that's what I did.

Let's mercifully move on quickly, shall we? I can sum it up by saying that I didn't want to have this otherworldly awful thing done, but I knew that I needed it done. Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up.

So I did. Since the IV anesthesia was way out of my price range, I asked for a prescription for Vallium. I was hoping to feel nice and drunk long before Novocaine even came into play. I was instructed to take one the night before, and one an hour before the procedure. I followed the directions down to the letter.

Monday morning found me looking like I was being marched off to the guillotine. I swallowed my generic Vallium and prepared for battle. Then on my way into the office I realized that I had forgotten my iPod to listen to while the surgery was taking place and I started to cry. Starting off strong.

Mike and I arrive and I truculently filled out the necessary paperwork. I was called back and tearfully said goodbye to Mike like I may never see him again. The nurse (who is *super* nice and soothing, thankfully) peeked at my chart.

"Oh! I see that we gave you a prescription. Are you feeling nice and relaxed?"

"NO."

"Oh."

She also seemed disappointed by this development. But it was true. I felt no different than usual. Which is to say ANXIOUS. Decidedly NOT loopy and drunk. What a huge let down. :0

Next thing I knew, she was swabbing that numbing stuff onto my gums to ease the Novocaine shots. This was all moving along a bit quickly for my taste. Why move onto cutting open my mouth when we could procrastinate longer?

The doctor came in, and he was just as nice as before, darn him. I could hazily see a gigantic needle appear before my eyes and I forced my body to not move a muscle lest his hand should slip, which I somehow seemed to think was very likely. I did a good job, too. Maybe that Vallium worked after all.

Soon we were underway, me moving my pink rosary beads along in my hands as they worked. It didn't seem like that much time passed, but I was back there for an hour and a half. I saw stitches being stitched, lots of hand movement, and not much else. When they were done, I felt numb, but fine. I was given a prescription for ibuprofen for the pain and instructed to come back in a week for a followup and suture removal.

So. Was it as bad as I feared? You know me, gentle reader, I will tell you like it is:

It was not. It really wasn't bad at all. Very similar to having a tooth extracted. And given how squeamish I am about dental work, that's really saying something.

When I got home I slept. Upon waking, the numbness had worn off. My mouth felt sore, but not bad. I have been keeping up with the ibuprofen, but the soreness is really quite manageable. I can eat as well. Yesterday, it was a bit uncomfortable, but today is fine although I don't have a huge appetite. I was worried about the wound on the top of my mouth, but honestly, I can't even *feel* it. I think I have a really good periodontist. The front of my mouth is definitely in healing mode (aka: GROSS), but I'm trying not to look at it. :0 My lower lip and jaw did swell today, unfortunately, but there is no bruising. It's pretty minor swelling, so I'm hoping that it will be looking better around Thursday.

All in all, I'm glad that I had this done and I would do it again. In fact, I have to. I have one more tooth that needs grafting after these three heal. I'm going to be seeing a lot of this periodontist. Perhaps I should knit him something. :)

At any rate, I'm home and healing. I've been swilling warm salt water and Listerine like there is no tomorrow. It feels super good. 

So there you have it. More dental information than you could possibly want to know. It feels good to be back. :0

Friday, January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 26} In which Tiffany prepares to feel very sorry for herself...

Be on the lookout for lots of souls to be released from purgatory on Monday due to the sheer volume of offering up I'm going to have to do.

#martyr!

But I have a week that I've been dreading for some time coming up here, and so I'm hunkering down to prepare and try to make the best of it. What the heck am I talking about? Read on, dear ones...

-1- If dental procedures make you squeamish, you may want to skip right to take #2. (they make ME squeamish, *sob!*) On Monday I have to have minor dental surgery. I'm focusing on the word "minor" in that sentence, rather than "surgery." It's a tissue graft, and that's all I can say about it lest I burst into tears while I'm typing. I'm dreading it, and am currently throwing a huge pity party for myself. The IV anesthesia cost an untypeable amount of money, so needless to say I'm not going to be getting any of that. I will get Novacaine plus a prescription for something that is supposed to make me loopy. Yes, Mike is driving me back and forth to this shindig. :0 I'm taking the entire week off from work since I just don't know when I'll feel up to being around and about. I'm hoping to be fine really right away, but in case I had some bruising or swelling I didn't want to have to go in to work and sit on the reference desk. Aren't you glad for all of these details?! At any rate, I have some soothing music on my iPod that I can listen to during the procedure and am hoping for the best. I doubt that I'll blog on Monday (can you imagine the post that would result when I'm drugged?!) but I *will* check in with you all on Tuesday. So look (forward?) to that post for an update. *sniffle*

-2- Also as part of my preparation, I have been hoarding yarn so that I can knit while I am off. I am always inspired by seasonal color schemes, and I saw a ripple blanket pattern recently paired with yarn in shades of blue, gray and white that are beautiful and wintry. I MUST HAVE THAT YARN. Looking at color schemes makes me feel so inspired and excited to create new things. I have been pairing a new yarn order with yarn that already exists in my stash as leftovers from previous projects (see how economical I am?!) and am planning ripple blankets that could bring warmth to my entire town. I just have to find out what all of their favorite color schemes are and I'm all set.

-3- I have also been working on the cardigan that is one of Mike's Christmas gifts and this is another thing for the "offering up" pile. I have fallen out of love with the pattern, but I'm FAR too into it to start anew. I simply have to keep going or Mike will never get a hand knit cardigan, no doubt about THAT. And so on I go, knitting resentment into every stitch that I endure that curling pile of stockinette fabric on my lap.

#resentsanew

Maybe I'll get a lot done on it next week while I'm off. :-\ I still have a front panel, two sleeves, and enough seaming to make me want to gouge my eyes out to go.

-4- I have also been downloading books to my Kindle with zero guilt because I cannot be laid up without anything to read. In fact, I can think of nothing worse than to be stranded somewhere without any reading material. I'd better hope a fully stocked book cart washes up with any future shipwreck I'm a part of. But anyway, I'm currently reading Walking with Mary for the next installment of the Catholic Book Club. I also started a fun romance called Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I have almost 20 Amish fiction titles on my Kindle waiting to be read, as well as other inspirational romances, romantic suspense titles, and Catholic books. I feel quite proud of myself for this achievement.

-5- And one of my new downloads is Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus Through Mary with Blessed John Paul II. I used the book 33 Days to Morning Glory last year, and LOVED it. This year, I'm praying along with my fabulous friend Cristina, and we chose to mix things up and use Totus Tuus. We started the prayers yesterday, for a consecration day on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11th. Excited! This books features an intensive schedule, with prayer, Scripture reading, reflections from John Paul II, resolutions for the day, and encouragement to journal throughout the 33 days. I am loving it.

-6- In other perking news, Anne has been *adorable*. She plays so well by herself! Is this a "girl thing" or a "second kid" thing? At any rate, she is so cute about it you can hardly stand it. Mike gets out the vacuum cleaner, and Anne is right there beside him with her little pink one, vacuuming along with him. She knocks around in her little toy kitchen and brings us over wooden frosted cookies that she "baked." :0 She talks to her Dora dollhouse figures and tells them all about her new sippy cup and her tea set. It's absolutely precious and heartwarming.

-7- To keep my mind off of worries (such as never being able to eat again :0)I have been focusing on things that bring me joy, like dancing. I've downloaded some new music since the holidays (gifts and such) and have been feeling very inspired. I may have an opportunity to dance more coming up, we'll see, it's not etched in stone. Winter is a great time to work with new music or to plan new choreographies to unveil (ha!) in the spring. I should have lots of kitchen time next week, which is where I do the majority of my practicing. I'll keep you all posted. :)

All right, I'm off to mope some more. I will be on Twitter, and I will post again on Tuesday. Have a great weekend everyone! Catch more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A review of Christmas in Apple Ridge...

It's still liturgically Christmas everybody, so tune in for a seasonally appropriate book review. :0 I adore Amish fiction, and one of the reasons is that the books are so, so COZY. You will feel good while you are reading them. Plus, they espouse the values we cherish as Catholics, so the fit is perfect.

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall, is a three story contemporary compilation centering around a small town in Pennsylvania. These are full books compiled here, not novellas, so you get a lot of reading for your money with this volume, it's a good bargain for the $18.99 cover price.

The first installment is The Sound of Sleigh Bells, and although very solidly written it is my least favorite of the three. In this story we meet Beth Hertzler, co-owner of the local dry goods store, and Jonah, a wood carver from Ohio who is suffering the physical effects of a sleighing accident. Beth has been mourning the death of her fiance for what her aunt, Lizzy, believes is an unhealthy amount of time. When Beth meets Jonah during a business trip and is drawn to his talent and soft spoken manner, Lizzie conspires to bring the two very reserved and wounded souls together in friendship via letter writing. The complication is that both Beth and Jonah are under some misunderstanding about who they are actually writing to. Will Lizzy's plan backfire or finally bring love to two people who had given up on marriage? This story dragged a bit in the middle, but the reveal toward the end of Beth's back story was quite unexpected and interesting. It is well worth reading, and these two characters appear again in both of the next two stories in the most charming of ways.

The Christmas Singing grabbed my interest right away because of the setting. Mattie is a cake decorator that owns her own bakery in Ohio. She moved away from her hometown of Apple Ridge after having her heart broken by her childhood beau, Gideon. When an unexpected tragedy forces her to move back home right before Christmas, she has to face Gideon again and try to rebuild her life and dreams without the independence she had cherished in Ohio. In such a small town, Mattie cannot avoid Gideon, and though he still loves her, he is determined to hide some things from her about the cause of their breakup years ago. What is the cause of Gideon's secrecy? And can Mattie forgive him and find happiness again back in Apple Ridge? The author also introduces another couple briefly in this story, Anna and Aden, whose Old Order Mennonite/Old Order Amish romance and cultural crossover receives its own stand alone book in The Scent of Cherry Blossoms. Now I can't wait to read that one! The Christmas Singing also includes a few cake recipes that are mentioned in the story.

The final story is The Dawn of Christmas, and this installment features another strong heroine like the previous two. This story is quite unconventional and I could not have enjoyed it more. Sadie broke up with her fiance when she discovered his untoward actions towards another woman just before their wedding. Since her former fiance was untruthful about what had happened, her Old Order Amish community never totally understood Sadie's reasons for the breakup. Sadie's parents subsequently granted her permission to travel as a missionary to Peru with a Mennonite group so that she could have a fresh start, but after four years, her father now wants her back home. Sadie is reluctant to relinquish her independence and her excitement for life as a missionary. Levi is a local bachelor that has witnessed the devastating effects of a bad marriage and never wants to marry. When Sadie and Levi become friends, they devise a plan to present themselves as courting to their community so that, at least temporarily, they will no longer receive pressure to marry. During this time, Sadie plans to raise money for another mission trip and ultimately both can go their separate ways. Will Sadie and Levi find themselves viewing each other as more than just friends and break through the emotional barriers both have towards marriage?

I enjoyed reading this trilogy. I also loved seeing the characters from the previous stories come back in subsequent books. The writing was strong and the setting beyond lovely. I will definitely be reading other books by this author, and indeed have already placed some on my wish list! If you are thinking about purchasing this book, you can read chapter 1 for free here!

If you enjoyed my review, please do rank it. I so appreciate it!

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Adventures in Ophthalmology, take 2!

As promised, today's post is devoted to my adventures Monday afternoon at the eye doctor, an installment in a special series about aging young women in America. :0 I wrote about my appointment last year, and I thought it would be fun to make this a yearly event since it seems to bring out the humorous part of something that we all dread but that *will* happen to all of us - noticing the physical effects of getting older. Last year, I left feeling like I may need a walker to get out to my car, it was so depressing, and I'm pleased to report that this year went much better. Let us discuss!

I arrived just as the snowstorm was kicking up, and so I was feeling kind of rushed and punchy. A good start, no?! I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible so that I could get home. I rushed through my paperwork and anxiously read my Kindle while I waited to be called back, already detailing in my mind how I would refuse the eye drops this time since I do want to be able to drive home, and you know, arrive in one piece.

#CantankerousTiffany

I'm called back and I hurriedly sit down for the initial "stuff." Review of personal medical history, reading of chart. I do as best I can, but I do have one very weak eye due to a birth defect in my macula muscle, hence my yearly forays to the ophthalmologist.

"How old are you?"

Ugh.

"38."

"Really? You don't look 38."

I LOVE THIS NURSE. I may bring her a gift next year. I may knit her something.

That done, the nurse turns to me:

"This doctor doesn't do drops, so we don't have to worry about those."

*angels sing*

 "But now it's time for the pressure gauge."

*communal groan*

I *can't stand* the pressure gauge, wherein you're supposed to "relax" while a steel instrument is shoved up against your eyeball, but I did what I could.

"Ok, let's move over here for the clicker test."

A test? I perk up. I am an overachiever and aim to do well on any and all tests.

"Ok, You'll need to look through here, and we'll test your right eye, then the left. Every time you see a squiggle move on the screen you press this clicker."

A clicker? I have power. This gets better and better.

"Start...NOW."

*squiggle moves across screen*

*WHAM!*

"Was that another one? I think..."

*CLICK!!!*

I was a little bit of an eager beaver, but I gave that clicker a workout and I'm pretty sure I got 100% correct.

*gold star*

"Here's the doctor. He'll take it from here."

We then move on to the...

"Is A clearer, or B? A? Ok. A...or C? About the same? Hum. C or...D? Anything? They can't be the same, let's look again. Here's C...Then D!"

...part of the exam.

Verdict?

"Well, your prescription went up a bit, but not bad. Your vision is 20/20 in your right eye, and 20/30 in the left."

Now see? There was no Doomsday predictions of failing vision and buzzards coming to peck my eyeballs out the instant I turn 40. I like this guy.

I'm ushered to an optician named Sandy to procure my new glasses. Sandy is clearly worried about the storm outside and isn't in too great of a mood, but I give her a pass because I too am worried about the storm.

"Do you want bifocal lenses or just reading ones?"

"Oh." Thankfully the "B" word had gone as yet unmentioned. "Well, can you tell me about the bifocals?"

I joke about them, but someday I really will need them. I can't keep taking my glasses off to segue between my computer screen and a human face forever. She spends about 10 minutes telling me minutiae about bifocals lenses.

"Ok, thanks. I'm not ready. Let's just do reading."

Sandy does not look amused.

"All right. The frames covered by your insurance are over there on that rack."

I head over, thrilled that I can actually SEE the frames to choose this year, and immediately hone in on two that are identical aside from the color. I really like the shape and thickness. One pair is brown with blue on the side, and the other pair is black with pink. I model both for Sandy.

"I really like this pair, but what about...this one? You know, A, or...B!"

Sandy does not seem to think that this is nearly as funny as I do, but she does gamely play along and examines both frames on my face. She says she likes both of them.

#nothelpful

I go back and forth in the mirror while Sandy's son texts her with foreboding highway closures. Finally, I pick one.

"Ok! These ones!"

"Ok great. They'll be ready in 2 weeks."

Clearly, Sandy is ready to move on from my visit. And I'll unveil my new frames, and their color, two weeks hence!

So, this year was better. I didn't leave nearly as traumatized and needing liquor the way I did last year. I will seek out this particular ophthalmologist again. Anybody else have adventures in aging? Leave me a comment!

All right, tomorrow I have a book review to post on an Amish compilation I read over the holiday break. It was *lovely* and fun, and if you are at all interested in Amish fiction or in trying it, please do check back tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reporting in from the Polar Vortex :0

Afternoon all! I had planned to write about my day yesterday, including yet more eye doctor adventures (because those are always fascinating :0) but as is so often the case, life intervenes. You'll hear all about my amusements in ophthalmology tomorrow, rest assured, and I have an Amish fiction book review for Thursday, lots to look forward to. *beams*

But I'm home today, stormed in, as is the rest of the family, and indeed the rest of the area/northern United States. So I thought I'd give you a quick glimpse into a morning from... *doomy music plans*... the Polar Vortex!

The morning started out cold, dangerous wind chills, but fairly innocuous:

A view out our front window. A winter wonderland.

Things swirled up a bit towards lunchtime, but nothing major:

Things looking a hair more ominous...

Anne seized upon this moment to demand that her photo be taken:

"I am very charming!"   

Never content to leave well enough alone...

"I am very sassy!"
 And just moments ago, we have progressed to this:

I am officially afraid to go outside.
So there you have it. We're under a blizzard warning, and there are driving bans in place. This, my friends, is the aforementioned *hard winter time* I referred to mere days ago. It actually looks worse out right now, about 10 minutes hence, than when I snapped the photo above. Oh, what the heck...

Glad that's not my car...
We're hanging in there, trying to amuse ourselves. As are St. Nicholas and Our Lady of Czestochowa:

Party near the television.
I've been knitting, fighting with the pattern I'm working for Mike's cardigan. The pattern nearly won, but I'm happy to announce that I have charted the directions out and have prevailed. #TypeAknitter

We're planning on watching a movie, popping some popcorn, making tea, and making some Swedish Meatballs for dinner. I have run out of wine, which is never a good thing, my friends, but Mike assures me that plenty of mixed drinks will be made tonight while we view our latest public library documentary checkout, Ken Burns' "Prohibition." 

Snort.

All right everyone, back to my family. I'll check in with you all tomorrow and assure that I am still alive and not buried underneath a pile of snow. Stay warm!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Joys & Challenges on the Feast of the Epiphany

I have always longed for a simple and lovely name. You know. Jane. Anne. Mary. Something like that. Something Catholic. :) Instead, I was born in the 70's and my name is Tiffany. But you know, we don't get asked for our opinions in these matters, and I will say that at least my name is easy to pronounce and feminine. Plus, there were never other Tiffanys in my class, so that was always nice.

Before I got married, I invested in a Catholic name book that took every name imaginable and found a Biblical or saint derivative for it. So, even those of us with secular names could have a Catholic reference and feast day for our names. I love this. And so, Tiffany was given the designation as having been derived from 'Epiphany,' and there is a St. Epiphana as well. Details are sparse, but never mind that. :0 Via this interpretation, I have a Catholic name and my feast day is today!!!

*cue choir music*

Ever since then, the feast of the Epiphany has held special significance for me. 'Epiphany,' of course, means "manifestation of God," and at the vigil Mass Saturday night the priest talked about how God is made manifest to us in so many different ways. For Catholics, we have the sacraments, one of my very favorite things. :)

Mike went to Mass with me this weekend, and it was just the two of us since we went on our way to dinner in celebration of our wedding anniversary. It's a novelty these days to not tote a sippy cup, animal crackers, and innumerable plastic necklaces to Mass with me. :0 Anyway, during the homily, the priest talked about Pope Francis, and how he seems to have this gift for drawing people to himself and his message that normally do not subscribe to Catholic beliefs. Mike was really struck by the homily, and told me afterward how much he enjoyed it. This made your Catholic Librarian very happy. :) It was a lovely Mass and a wonderful night.

Yesterday, we were hoping to have a relaxing Epiphany Sunday at home, complete with chocolate pancakes for breakfast, but it was not to be. Our nightmare with the kitchen ceiling remains. Cue:


The insurance company is sending an adjuster to assess the damage, but he can't come until Saturday. In the mean time, we continue to get rain on and off, and melting ice. We've had some more water come in, although not a lot, thankfully. More worrisome is the following:

I come downstairs and find Mike scrubbing the kitchen floor.

"Hi Honey, what's up?"

I used to scrub the kitchen floor weekly back when I had free time. That would be before we had children. :0 Now, we sweep it whenever it needs it, which is usually daily, and the scrubbing comes only when we have time for such a thing. It's not as often as we'd like.

*pause*

This is a bad sign.

"Well. This morning I found...mouse droppings on the floor."

*cue Tiffany having a heart attack*

"WHAT?! MICE!!!!! Are you sure?!"

"Yes, unfortunately."

"But we've never seen a mouse here!" *thinks desperately* "The ceiling! They must have come from the crawl space!"

The crawl space is immediately above the hole. See, I'm a brainiac, always thinkin'. ;-)

"Could a mouse fit through one of those slats?!"

I go right over and investigate with my evil eye.

"Mice are small."

"They're not that small."

Mike is always the voice of reason in these conversations.

"All right, well, I bet they were in the crawl space at some point and this is just ancient stuff falling through the cracks. Did the droppings look old?!"

Now I want Mike to be an expert on the dating and historicity of mouse droppings.

"I guess so. I don't know for sure though. Let's just keep a close eye out. I already checked the cupboards and pantry."

*Tiffany frets*

The second part of this interaction involved Mike going outside to chip ice off of our roof, since we had more melting up there causing further water to drip into the kitchen. A joy a minute, right?  The chipping caused vibrations throughout the kitchenish area, which resulted in an assortment of CRAP *stuff* to fall down from the crawl space onto the kitchen floor. I had the kids watching Peppa Pig for about an hour so that I could deal with the cleanup on the inside as poor Mike chipped away on the outside.

The joys of homeownership, folks, Doesn't it make you ache to get right out there and invest in a 100 year old house?!

So that was our official feast of the Epiphany. We made it, we're in crisis mode, we're dealing with it as best we can. Although, the *actual* feast of the Epiphany is today, January 6th. This is sort of like a feast day weekend. It's like birthdays after you're 30! Once I turn 40 I'm having an entire birthday WEEK, I don't care. You gotta have something to look forward to when the number is no longer to your liking.

But I digress. I'm doing my best with everything, we have a lot on our plate coming up. I will be keeping you posted every step along the way. :0 In the mean time, happy feast of the Epiphany! How was your Mass experience this weekend? Leave me a comment!

Photo credit: © Norlito | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 25} New year, new...Catholic Librarian?

Well, not really. :0 But this is always a "fresh" time of year, is it not? I enjoy the reflection that the new year offers, and it's a time to look ahead to full on winter and then spring and appreciate life's gifts. Let us reflect. :)

-1- Since being off on my Christmas break, I have appreciated being home with my kids more. I love my children, that goes without saying, but sometimes too much togetherness quickly devolves into:

"Stop it, HENRY! Don't pull my hair!"

"I wasn't *pulling* it, I was just *touching* it! Mommy, Anne is yelling at me!!"

"What?! What are you both doing?! Wait. I don't care. WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING, STOP DOING IT!!"

You know how that goes. But this Christmas I took the time to relax a bit and just appreciate the kids for who they are. They are messy, they can be loud, but they bring so much joy, and you have to look at the whole package. I really enjoyed my time with them.

-2- In that vein, last night both children were up in bed, and you know what this means.

"Honey, do we have any more of that pumpkin vodka?!"

Mike and I were downstairs having a great time, unwinding after a long day of getting back into a post-Christmas routine. Suddenly, I hear something from upstairs. I go on High Mommy Alert.

"Did you hear that?"

"I think it was Hank getting up to get a book. I'll check on him in a few minutes."

Well. We forgot. Parents of the year, right here.

An hour or so later, we head upstairs to bed. I always check on the kids before I get into bed, and so I brush my teeth etc., and pause outside Anne's door.

*sniff sniff* Picture my nose twitching like a bunny.

Maybe her diaper pail just needs to be changed. Yet another reminder that we need to jump back on the potty training wagon, sigh. I carefully crack open the door.

*thwap!*

I am smacked in the face by a fetid odor originating from my left. Anne. Who is *sound* asleep underneath a pile of blankets. Could that odor just be from her pail?! No way, too high of an impact. Must be fresh. I hurry to our bedroom.

"I think Anne pooed. She must have been the one we heard earlier."

*feels guilty*

"Do you think we should change her?"

"Probably. Do you want to go peek?"

Mike heads in. I see him grimace the instant he opens her door.

"Yeah. We have to change her."

So we gently woke her and changed her, and let me tell you, that was a close one. Diaper implosion and complete sleeping surface annihilation was one pee pee away.

"Mommy, HOLD ANNE!"

These are the moments you live for as a parent. A sleepy toddler to cuddle and rock. It was divine. She went right back to sleep, but not before a satisfying snuggle session.

-3- January 1st commences what I call the "second half of winter." Kind of silly, since winter didn't even officially start until December 21st, but to me winter is divided into 2 distinct segments: That holiday winter time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, and then post-January 1st winter until spring/late March, whichever comes later. :0 I have to admit, I do prefer the holiday winter time, that feels so magical. But this part of winter has its own appeal. This is the *hard* part of winter, to be sure, in terms of temperature and (generally) snowfall. It's cozy, great knitting weather. Lots of fires and hot chocolate. And there's so much promise in this part of the year. No matter how much snow falls, it will eventually melt and green things will sprout up in spring. My wedding anniversary is also January 8th, so I just have a special fondness for this part of deep winter. :)

-4- But snow never stopped anyone from dancing. My dance troupe has a performance next Saturday at a Lebanese dinner event, and so we're back to practice tonight. We're also scheduled for a Mardi Gras party March 1st and lots of summer festivals to plan choreographies for. Fun! I will report in with the inevitable amusing anecdotes.

-5- And so yes, this time of the year inspires me to knit until my husband can't take it anymore, and acquire yarn at an alarming rate. Hey, if we're ever trapped in our house for years at a time, we're all set. We will all be super warm and I will never get bored. I've got 2 sweaters on the needles (one for me, one for Mike), a pair of socks for Henry, and a headband/ear warmer for myself for when my hair is up and I don't want to use my hat. I'm excitedly planning afghans (which I tend to *plan* a lot and not *finish*, but we'll ignore that little detail for now, I'm too busy planning color schemes for new ones) and what project I will do for the upcoming Ravellenic Games, during which knitters set crafting goals to accomplish by the end of the Olympics. I'm thinking of another sweater, like I did for the summer 2012 games.

*angels sing!*

So exciting. I love making and meeting goals, especially when they involve knitting rather than some work thing. :0

-6- January is also a great month on the Church calendar. Coming up, we have the feasts of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Anthony, St. Agnes, St. Francis de Sales, the Conversion of St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John Bosco. AND, Monday is the Epiphany and the following Sunday is the Baptism of the Lord. Dude! This is awesome. You need to get yourself a subscription to Magnificat Magazine so that you'll have this handy information at your fingertips too. :0

-7- Winter is also a great time to read, and you can bet that I've been doing that and plotting out book reviews for your viewing pleasure. I just finished Christmas in Apple Ridge, review to come Monday or Tuesday (because it's still Christmas season, you know :0), and I just started Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns. Shortly, I will begin Walking With Mary: A Biblical Journey From Nazareth to the Cross for the January installment of Catholic Book Club, and I went back to An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County, which I had started and set aside to get to other books temporarily. The reading life is grand, is it not? Look for the reviews shortly! You can use my Catholic Book Club tag to find all of the reviews I've done in the past year and get ideas for new books!

All right, time to get back to work! It's good to be back to blogging for the new year. Do you all have any New Years resolutions? If so, leave me a comment!

Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A lovely break, and a LOT of Christmas...

"Mommy has to go back to work tomorrow, Sweetie. Mommy will miss you."

"Mommy NOT go back to work."

"Daddy will be home with you tomorrow, Sweetie. And Mommy will be home by dinnertime."

"Anne will not be home with daddy. ANNE HOME WITH MOMMY."

*cry face*

Annnnndddd, that's how Christmas break 2013 came to a close. :)

It was lovely. Our kitchen is mostly back to normal, save for a gaping hole in our ceiling, but plans are in place for the fixes necessary. We visited with family. We enjoyed a lot of snowed in time at home, just being together and playing with the kids. Christmas Eve and Christmas day, however, have become quite exhausting. Oh, and December 26th too, since that's when we open gifts with Mike's family. I suppose things can be summed up in this list of Catholic Librarian Christmas Pros & Cons...

Pros:

Christmas Eve Mass as a family. We attend at a historic church that has a 4 pm vigil each year, and it's just gorgeous. It's packed to the gills, but we get there early to get a seat, and the kids behaved like champs. Anne insisted on sitting on the floor in her Christmas dress and danced to the music, but I can live with that. :0

Seeing my sisters and nephews. I don't get to see them nearly so often as I'd like, and the holidays are a great reason to get together. I have four nephews, and they're all growing so fast! The twins are now 15 months old. They toddled all around and had definite opinions on whether or not they wanted to be held. I had a dream last night that I had little Andrew with me for a day as I went about my errands. Miss them. :(

Christmas morning with Mike and the kids. Sublime. Helping the kids set up their new stuff, having coffee, and playing with them. Also sublime.

Lighting the Christ candle together on the Advent wreath. I really got into Advent this year and enjoyed the traditions more than ever.

I received some lovely gifts, including some new clothes, jewelry (including a handmade pair of earrings from Shauna'h that I adore), books, and new music. Love.

Cons:

Sheer exhaustion from the running around necessary to maintain the family traditions for visiting on Christmas Eve/day.

Grandparent Gift Overwhelment. I have just coined a new phrase. It's wonderful that our children are so loved, but the Christmas gift situation has really gotten out of hand. Both grandmothers love to spoil them, and I understand that, but the volume has gotten overwhelming, and I don't want the kids to become focused on that to the exclusion of the real message of Christmas. I don't know exactly how to fix this, but something has to happen before next Christmas.

Mike and I agree that we long for a simpler Christmas. Less gifts and more time spent enjoying the company of each other and our families. That's our goal for next year, and we're choosing to accept it. :)

___________

I love taking off the week between Christmas and New Years from work, and we enjoyed a beautiful and quiet New Years Eve at home. First we went to Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and then we went home to bake lobster tails. We watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with Henry in the evening after Anne went to bed. It was wonderful.

It was very hard to get out of bed this morning, to be sure. I do have some time off to look forward to, and I'm focusing on the positives. On January 13th, I'm having surgery and I'll be off for a week. I promise, it's nothing major, but be prepared for a lot of WHINING and COMPLAINING as I navigate this, since it's somewhat unpleasant. And I'll be home alone, on the couch, with a computer, so there WILL BE BLOGGING. You'll be along with me the entire way, dear reader. Two words:

Dental. Surgery.

If you feel faint, you may not want to check this blog from January 13th through the 17th, I'll just warn you now. :0

I'm also contemplating taking some time off during the Olympics, when Henry will be on his winter break.

Cue: Knitting time!!

Lots to look forward to! I missed you all, blogging is very cathartic for me. It feels strange not to do it, this acts as a journal for me, truly. So I'm now officially back to my regular blogging schedule! 7 Quick Takes tomorrow, look for a book review of an Amish book next week, and perhaps an installment of the Catholic Nook since I'm long overdue on a post for that one. Oh, and I have an eye doctor appointment next week, sure to be loads of fun just like last year!

It's good to be back! How was your Christmas and New Years? Leave me a comment!