Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 33} Family Friday edition...


Happy Friday everyone! This is officially the last Friday in Ordinary Time for quite awhile. If you've been following me this week, you've seen my collaboration with Cristina for the 7 posts in 7 days blogging challenge and how we've both been blogging about Lent preparation all week. It's been extremely fun. Lenten pillars! Lenten plans! Ash Wednesday ashiness! And a blog swap yesterday about Lenten experiences! Today is "Family Friday" in our series, and so I'm posting 7 quick tidbits about how I'm planning to observe Lent this year with my Catholic Librarian bunch (and so is Cristina!):

-1- Our happy little family

We are a family of four. My husband is not currently an active Catholic (see the open ended positiveness I leave in that sentence? :) Not *currently*, he has no idea the armies of prayer warriors I have assigned to this intention) but is very supportive of my faith. We collaborate on raising our children Catholic. The majority of the nitty gritty obviously lies with me, but he is an important force is coaxing an often resistant Henry ("it's *boring*!!) to Mass. He also was instrumental in the decision to send Henry to Catholic school and in sharing the responsibility to attend parent meetings regarding Henry's sacramental preparation. Anne is too young to do much except attend Mass with us, so she's still in the Catholic pipeline. *beams*

-2- Fasting &Abstinence

During Lent, the entire family does not eat meat on Fridays. If for some reason my husband is eating by himself (lunch), he is ambivalent about whether he eats meat or not. :) If he's feeling like a ham sandwich, he'll have one. But we plan meatless dinners. At his Catholic school, Henry always receives a meatless lunch if he's buying, which is nice. If he's packing, either Mike or I will pack him something that doesn't include meat.

-3- Prayer

Henry and I read saint stories before he goes to bed, this has become our tradition. Last Lent, I bought him a very nice rosary and we would pray a decade before he went to sleep. I'd like to do this again, or otherwise incorporate in a real prayer time with him for Lent. I know that he will be resistant to this. He seems embarrassed to pray in front of me. He's a shy kid, just like I was, and I think that it's difficult for him to let his guard down and do something aloud that is private for him. I'll talk to him about it, and we'll come up with a plan. But during the major liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent, I think things to feel "different", it's not just same old, same old in terms of our routine. Henry is a routine oriented person (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...) and it's good to have that reminder that "oh, I'm going to do this now/not do that, because it's Lent."

It would be lovely to include Anne in this for a family rosary, but I'm going to be honest, dear reader: the thought of trying to wrangle my very active two year old into sitting still for even more than three Hail Mary's sounds like a near occasion of sin for me and my mental health. :0 Next year may be different, but this year I'm going to give her a pass.

-4- Sacrifice/Penance

I know that last year, Henry gave something up for Lent, although I cannot remember what. (my mind: I miss it SO MUCH...) I'm going to encourage him to think about this again this year and choose something to either give up, or add into his routine as a prayerful or charitable thing for Lent. Oh wait!! Sometimes there is still hope for my memory, whew! He chose to read his children's Bible during Lent last year, it was adorable. He got through the entire thing, although he went with an edition that is really below his reading level, so it didn't take him very long. I'll talk to him about it again this year. At school, the children are also encouraged in such Lenten practices, which is good reinforcement.

-5- Special devotions 

I have always loved Stations of the Cross, and I'm going to be honest and admit that I haven't been to this beautiful Lenten devotion at my parish in years. Why, you ask, quite reasonably? I have dance class on Friday nights. :0 Yes, I know, it would be a sacrifice for me to give up my dance class so that I could attend Stations during Lent, and take Henry with me, but...

Well. Dance class is something in my life that I treasure, that is a creative outlet for me, that is a source of happy and healthy socialization for this shy soul, and that is a fun form of physical fitness. Giving it up really wrecks havoc for me. What I did last year was buy Henry a book of children's Stations of the Cross, and we read them and prayed them together over the course of a few nights each week. I plan to do that again.

As well, with him making his First Communion this coming May (so excited!) I'd like to take him to adoration with me once this Lent. I think that is a manageable goal, and I'm all about making my goals *manageable*. :) I want him to really understand what we believe about the Eucharist before making his First Communion, and I think adoration is a powerful way to form that impression.

-6- Sacraments 

Sunday Mass is not optional in my household, so me and the kids will be attending weekly throughout Lent, as well as on Ash Wednesday. Henry will get ashes at school, but I will take Anne with me next Wednesday. I'm also planning on going to confession at least once this Lent, and I will bring Henry along with me (who does seem to enjoy the novelty of confession still :)).

-7- Holy Week liturgies

This was a real coup last year. I didn't make it to Mass on Holy Thursday (and unfortunately I won't again this year, I believe I'm on the evening reference shift that night :( ) but I took Good Friday off from work, and I actually toted Anne along with me to church. I can't imagine where I got the courage from to do that, but I did. And she was *excellent*. Now, the thing is, I have learned my lesson on this front with kids in church. It's just like what my dance teacher says about dancing with a silk veil: just when you think you have things under control and have it trained, wham! They embarrass you in public. It's true with children, no?! She may have gotten a gold star last year, but this year she could strip her clothes off and run naked down the aisle during the veneration of the crucifix, YOU KNOW IT COULD HAPPEN. But I'm willing to try again, I enjoyed it so much. Good Friday is not a short liturgy, but it wasn't outrageously long. I've already taken the day off, and I'm planning to attend, Anne in tow.

And so, those are my plans. Do you have plans for your children during Lent? Leave me a comment!

Check out other Quick Takes today over at Conversion Diary!

 I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week with Jen at Conversion Diary. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

SuperFriends Lent Power Packet: Anything Goes!

Welcome to the fourth installment of the SuperFriends Lent Power Packet #7in7 series. Yesterday, I shared Catholic Nook goodness about Ash Wednesday and Cristina shared a funny, wait...

I'm Cristina and these surroundings don't look very familiar *dusts off book from shelf and finds Tiffany’s glasses next to an empty cup of tea*

We’ve swapped blogs! She will be blogging over at my place today with a cradle Catholic view of Lenten goodness and I as an adult convert (circa 2012). See what happens when you have SuperFriend interlocking rings? Anything goes!

As a recent convert, I don’t have stories of childhood Communion, arguing with my mother about getting up early for mass as a teenager or struggling with my faith in college. When I think of those missed milestones in my life, I see a blank page. It’s not as sad as you would think, on those pages, I am writing the memories of my children’s’ milestones. Lexicon is 9 and Little Monk is 6. I am married to a wonderfully funny man – who doesn’t share my faith belief although, he shares my faith. He is an atheist. A very faithful atheist, as he attends mass, and Holy Days and serious business Daddy looks when the kids aren’t sitting up straight at mass or forget to say grace. You see, he loves me. It’s this love, that brings him to uphold what I hold dear, even if he doesn’t believe himself. He ain’t gettin’ ashes this year though, and I’ve given him a pass for that!

I’ve been a bit anxious about this post. I mean, put our blogs side by side, and even Tiff has the longevity in the ‘Land of Blog’ that I don’t. We have a lot of similarities – both being Lay Dominican’s, but she’s got me there too as I am only 4 months in! When we planned this, we wanted to give a Lenten perspective from this point in our Catholic journey. It’s hard for me. I really had to scan the mental archives *think Dewey Decimal System* to remember what it was like before I was Catholic.

I grew up in New York City – Brooklyn to be exact. I went to the TLM a few times with my grandmother as a child and vividly remember the incense, all the kneeling, and my little face scratching against her woolen skirt as I clasped my hands tight and pressed them against my forehead in little prayer. As a young adult working in Manhattan, I would watch the ashen crosses solemnly leave St. Patrick’s Cathedral and wondered what that was about. I didn’t know. I wanted to be a part of this annual gathering and visual sign of solidarity. That’s about all I could make of it from what I saw. I would think of those times as a child with my grandmother and the pain of her passing would put any whisper from the Holy Spirit to silence.


I remember a few years later, signing up for RCIA at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (imagine the ceremony had I stayed in it!!!) but dropping out. I felt about as flimsy as the introductory pamphlet I tossed into the garbage on my way out. I wasn’t ready. I recall sitting there and not *feeling* anything. I knew I was supposed to be there though. I also knew that He would be there waiting for me when I was ready.

I won’t go into details about my conversion story, partly because I might cry and Tiff is all out of tissues here, and partly because I am more interested in your Lenten reflections. Have any? Share with us!

Thanks again, SuperTiff, for letting me hang around your place today. I hope I’ve left everything as you left it.

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week with Jen at Conversion Diary. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Catholic Nook: Ash Wednesday

It's a Wednesday, exactly one week prior to Ash Wednesday, so what perfect timing to discuss this important day on the liturgical calendar, no? I know that you're all probably making your plans for when you'll get your ashes next week. ;-) It's also day 3 of the 7 posts in 7 days challenge over at Conversion Diary, and Cristina and I are on a roll! We're both posting about Ash Wednesday today, come join the fun. :)

So let's kvetch a bit about ashes! What do they mean, and where did this tradition come from? Sprinkled in with my own personal and humorous ash stories, because what would this blog be coming to without *that*?!

And so, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for many Catholics (and those in some other Christian traditions). Interestingly, Ash Wednesday is a very western Church tradition. The Eastern rites do not have Ash Wednesday. Lent begins for them the Monday prior, with no tradition of ashes. The Eastern churches begin Lent on "Clean Monday," and they refer to this liturgical season as "The Great Fast."

Ashes have been used as a sign of penance and sorrow from the time of the Old Testament. Based upon this Jewish tradition, Christians started using ashes as a general practice around the eleventh century. During the Middle Ages, the pope would process barefoot on Ash Wednesday and receive ashes from the oldest cardinal-bishop at the Church of Santa Sabina.  He would then distribute them to the other cardinals.

As we are likely all (or mostly) familiar with, Ash Wednesday indicates the ashes that we receive, traced into a cross pattern onto our foreheads, on this first day of Lent. On that day, we attend either a Mass or a prayer service that includes the distribution of ashes, and the congregation comes forward to receive the ashes as the priest states: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." As he traces the ashes onto our forehead, we respond, "Amen."

The ashes for Ash Wednesday come from burning the blessed palms distributed the previous Palm Sunday. The ashes receive a special blessing from the priest and are sprinkled with holy water prior to being used.

Funnily enough, I once heard a priest on our local Catholic radio station talking about this very issue. He said that one year, he was determined to make his own ashes to use at his parish, rather than ordering them the way he usually did from some sort of Catholic supplier (and apparently, the way all other priests do). So, he made a pitch for this endeavor throughout the year:

"Save your palms! After the first of the year, bring them into the parish office and I'm going to collect them all to have our very own palms burned for our ashes this Lent!"

Custom ashes for everybody!!

Everyone got excited. Little old ladies and children alike saved their palms carefully. They all brought them in, and this priest harvested them like precious gems. His congregation was so prolific with their efforts he got overconfident:

"Good heavens! We can't *possibly* use all these palms! 'We're all set everyone!'"

And then the time came to burn the palms.

*sense of foreboding*

Dozens upon dozens of palms were reduced down to...a wispy bit of ashes. There was no way he was going to get enough ashes to distribute to the entire congregation. Chagrined, he placed his ash order. :0

When I was a kid, I have to be honest and admit that Ash Wednesday was never my favorite day on the liturgical calendar. I felt very conspicuous with the ashes on my forehead, especially if we received our ashes fairly early in the day. I will say though, that growing up in western New York, non-Catholics here are very used to seeing ashes, since the Catholic population is so high here. When I lived in New York City for a spell as a graduate student, for the first time I had someone come up to me and tell me that I had something on my face. I was shocked, but thinking about it more deeply, I should not have been. New York is obviously a much more diverse city than my hometown, and as such contains a lot of people who may never have been exposed to Catholics observing this tradition.

I was always very paranoid about the ashes actually looking like a cross, kwim? There is always the danger of the "unintelligible black blob on your forehead" on Ash Wednesday, and as a child I longed for a very neat and tidy cross. This fits right in with my Type A personality, does it not? (some things with me are just SO predictable *innocent smile*) I also didn't like feeling the ashes sometimes drift down to my nose. I just had a whole face paranoia thing going on.

Happily, I have gotten over that, although I do plead guilty to peeking in my rear view mirror after leaving the church. If an unintelligible blob greets me, I ever so delicately mold the shape into a cross. :0 I hope this isn't sacrilegious, but an OCD girl has gotta do her best to cope.

Ok, everybody. I hope that you had fun dwelling on Ash Wednesday for a few moments. Cristina has written a reflection on Ash Wednesday today as well. Don't forget to check out her post!

What were your thoughts on Ash Wednesday growing up? Adult converts, do you remember your very first Ash Wednesday? Leave me a comment!

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Lenten plan for 2014, because I would not be your Catholic Librarian without A PLAN


Good day all! I'm enjoying my 7 posts in 7 days antics and writing all about Lent this week, in conjunction with my fabulous friend Cristina, as a preparation for the big kickoff next Wednesday. :) I posted yesterday about some reflections going into Lent 2014, based upon Cristina's post on the pillars of Lent. Today I wanted to write about how I'm planning to actually implement my thoughts into a Lenten plan for this year.

This is always a big "thing" for me each year. I look forward to Lent, because I like structure. It is true, spontaneity has never been an enjoyable part of my life. :0 And so I always approach Lent with a lot of seriousness, enjoying the planning process. And Lent really does *require* a plan of some sort if you are going to glean anything of significance from it. Enforced structure, that is my kind of living, people! And so, what am I going to do? I knew I was going to post about this, so I spent a lot of time last night and this morning thinking this over.

*halo*

Here we go:

(1) Prayer - I have slacked off on my Magnificat morning and evening prayers. In January, I was doing the Marian consecration readings, and adding anything else into the daily prayer routine was too overwhelming with my work and home schedule. I long to get back to that, and Lent is the perfect opportunity. I want to pray those seven days a week. I'm also going to be using Sacred Spaces for Lent 2014 as a daily source of short readings and prayers. Gifted to me by Cristina! :) Download it for Kindle for a mere 99 cents!

I'd also like to fine tune my daily rosary praying. I often pray the first three mysteries in the morning on my way to work, and then never complete that rosary. I know any prayer and meditation is a good thing, but my goal is to complete the rosary on my way home each work day.

(2) Almsgiving - I have been on the lookout for quite some for a volunteer opportunity at my parish, ever since I discontinued participating in the Children's Liturgy of the Word program, and I will step up my efforts this Lent. If I see something, I will push myself to do it, even if ordinarily I may find a reason why it's not the *perfect* opportunity. That old "social anxiety" thing rearing its ugly head again. I may have to actually *talk* to people I do not know, I will have to get over this. :0 I would really like to give of my time in this way.

(3) Penance - After lunch and dinner each day, I always add a small "sweet bite" to my meal. I do have a sweet tooth, and while I try not to indulge it too much, I will usually have a small chocolate or cookie just to satisfy that sweet craving when I finish eating a meal. I am going to give that up for Lent. It's a small thing, but one that I will really notice and it will remind me that we are in Lent and reflecting on our Lord's sacrifices for us.

I'd also like to get to confession at least once during Lent. It's quite humbling to admit how long it's been since I was last at confession. I believe it was back in the fall, but at any rate, *too long*, especially since I cannot remember exactly when it was! Never a good sign.

(4) Fasting and Abstinence - I'll be doing as the Church prescribes, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstaining from meat on all Fridays during Lent.

(5) Spiritual Reading - I don't have anything specific set aside, but I will make a commitment to keep up with spiritual reading in addition to the fiction I enjoy. I'll have finished the March book for the Catholic Book Club (which is quite fascinating, by the way, "Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns") before Ash Wednesday, so I'll work on April's selection, "More Catholic Than the Pope: An Inside Look at Extreme Traditionalism," as well as anything else I have time for. I'll post a review if I do complete another Catholic book prior to Easter.

And so, there you have it! It's not overly ambitious, but in my estimation, that is as it should be. I can see myself sticking with this plan throughout Lent, and it includes several good spiritual habits that I would like to nurture and incorporate into my daily routine, even after Easter.

This is my plan for Lent this year? What is yours?! Leave me a comment, because I'm dying to know!! And also, Cristina is posting about her plan for Lent 2014 today, check it out here!

See you all tomorrow. :) I have a Catholic Nook post planned, ooohhhhhh...

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

So, what is Lent all about anyway? Super Friends edition...

 Cristina came up with the Super Friends designation, isn't it precious? I kind of love it. She and I decided to collaborate for the 7 Posts in 7 Days linkup over at Conversion Diary on a pre-Lent project. I'm sort of terribly excited about this. Beginning today, we are both posting about Lent 2014 for the entire week. We've got all sorts of fun things planned (because yes, we think Lent is fun *beams*) with interesting topics, personal stories, planning ideas, lists of things... We are nerds. We do lists very well. We transform these lists into spreadsheets. Clearly, there is no stopping us. :0

On tap for today is Cristina's post on the pillars of Lent, and my reflection thereof. Have you read her post yet? Hop to it, it's lovely, you don't want to miss it. :)

I'm a cradle Catholic, and so I've been doing this Lent "thing" for quite a long time. And yet every year, it's exciting and fresh to me anew. I learn something previously unexplored, or decide on a new approach to my practice of Lent. I'll talk about *that* more tomorrow, but for today, I want to focus on the very foundations of Lent.

Despite all of those years of CCD, I am ashamed to admit that I didn't really know the official pillars of Lent until very recently. There is prayer, fasting and abstinence, almsgiving, and penance. To my mind, prayer is actually one of the most neglected of these. Anyone raised Catholic knows they are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. And that on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday we are supposed to fast and moderate our eating. Everyone talks about what they are "giving up" for Lent, as a minor form of penance. But trying to pray more? Almsgiving? I didn't even know what that *meant* growing up!

As Cristina mentions, adding some prayer into our routine for Lent can be a very minor thing, but one that can add a significant punch to our spiritual lives. Importantly, it should be something that isn't so ambitious that the chances of you sticking to the promise for all of Lent (and hopefully afterward) are slim to none. Been there, done that, sister.

"I'm going to pray *all* of the offices of the Liturgy of the Hours (4 volume set, I'm not intimidated by all of those ribbons, BRING IT ON!!) AND go to daily Mass this Lent. I'm also planning on weekly confession and reading the major works of St. Teresa of Avila. I mean, they're on my Kindle, reading always goes quick like a bunny that way. I think that's doable."

Maybe for some people. That never worked out for ME. :0

We can add a simple Morning Offering to our routine. You wake up, and develop a habit to have that be the first thing that comes to your mind. A new prayer card on your nightstand can be your visual cue. A daily rosary, even. I pray the rosary in the car on my way to and from work, but I could try to commit to a daily rosary on weekends as well. THAT would be doable. It's the little things, truly.

In the spirit of almsgiving, one could volunteer their time for an event at their parish. You could make a one time donation to a worthy apostolate you've always admired. Cristina's post got my little mind whirling (I'm really babying the remaining brain cells that are left in there, believe me) about practical ideas that I could implement this year.

Overall though, my thought after reading Cristina's post was: "This doesn't have to be complicated." I tend to make things complicated, it's part of what makes me unique. ;-) But Lent is truly a simple time with profound meaning. Doing something simple out of love for Our Lord is what Lent is all about.  It's a time of recollection and reflection, of prayer and giving. What are YOU going to do this Lent? I mean, you have to let me know, I live for this stuff. :0

What will *I* decide to do? Stay tuned for tomorrow's scintillating installment of Super Friends Do Lent...

;-)

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 32} Springtime changes, and lead up to Lent edition...

-1- I know it's not spring yet *officially*, but it is the spring semester here in university life, so that's what I'm going by. This is always the time of year that even this winter lover gets tired of the gigantic dirty piles of snow next to all of our driveways and longs for the freshness of spring weather. I will say though that winter is an introvert's dream in a cold weather climate. The instant the weather breaks (by which I mean "above 35 degrees Fahrenheit") everyone is out in their shirt sleeves and... you know. Wanting to BE SOCIAL. Suddenly everyone wants to TALK to you.

"Hey!!!!!! I haven't seen you since Halloween!! How's it goin' girl?!"

The year I had Anne, my due date was just past mid-May. And my neighbors are *close* to us. We live in a very urban suburb, the houses are extremely close together. We can see into their living room from inside our house. But anyway, they hadn't seen me all winter, and it was a very cold spring that year too. Suddenly, it's early May, and everyone comes out of hibernation.

"Hey Tiffany! How are..."

They catch a glimpse of my belly, no longer shrouded in a bulky winter coat, and you can tell they are frantically searching their brains for whether I am in fact pregnant or whether I maybe just gained 25 pounds over the winter and am carrying it *extremely* poorly. You know how paranoid people are about acknowledging pregnancy.

"I'm due May 23rd."

"But! We didn't even know you were pregnant!!"

People really take it as an affront when they didn't even know you were pregnant yet you are due in 2 weeks. :)

-2- So yes, spring is still some time away in this part of the country, but spring is on the minds of all of us. I haven't been teaching as much this semester, but in exchange meetings have apparently been getting cozy with each other and are reproducing like rabbits on my day planner. HOLY SMOKES. And, to be blunt, I don't like meetings. My mind wanders, my butt hurts from sitting, and if more than an hour passes I feel like crawling out of my own skin.

I am on a LOT of committees this semester. And committees = meetings. Some of it is good stuff, it really is. Like the new curriculum-related committee I'm on. But the meetings. *groans*

-3- Speaking of meetings, my boss asked me to chair a short term committee related to one of my main job responsibilities, which is a research tutorial of sorts. I *loathe* chairing committees, but my boss asked me to do it. It's not like I can say no. :0

And so, let me tell you, if I'm going to take on chairing a group, we are going to run a tight ship.

"It's 9. Let's get started." #nomarginforlateness

Yesterday, I got to the room I booked for our meeting and realized that it didn't have a computer and projector in it. No matter.  I actually *wrote on the chalkboard* so that everyone could see what we needed to go over. No wasting time on my watch, no sir.

"Ok, we have 15 more minutes, this is what we can cover in that time..."

*discussion ensues* *looks at clock*

9:59. Whether or not someone is talking is of no consequence.

"Meeting adjourned. You'll hear from me tomorrow via email."

I have this imposing list of to-do items that I update after each meeting with what we accomplished, noting items that need addressed at the next meeting in red. #mostanalcommitteechairEVER

One of my colleagues came up to me today though at the reference desk and complimented my meeting style, saying that she wished I ran more meetings. :0

Victory is mine.

-4- All right, so as the spring semester progress, this means that Lent is approaching. Every year I make a plan for Lent. So far, I have not devised one yet, but the process is part of the fun. I'll plan something to either give up or add into my daily routine, and usually I plan to read a certain book. Typical, I guess. Often, I try to add something into my prayer routine instead of giving something up, I may do that again. And I haven't picked a book yet. Ideas? What are you all doing for Lent?

-5- As part of the fun lead up process :) I'm going to be participating in the next 7 Blog Posts in 7 Days Challenge over at ConversionDiary.com. It starts on Monday and I'm terribly excited. I'm conspiring with Cristina, and we're going to both be posting on Lenten topics next week as part of this. FUN, right? A nice preparation process. We're working on a topic list now, because to-do lists are what we do best. Stay tuned for Monday's installment. :)

-6- Also next week, I'm going to be starting the novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Anybody want to join in?! First day will be Monday, and I'll put up a tab next to "About Me" with links to the prayers for those who would like to participate. The novena will end the day before Ash Wednesday. Perfect, no?!

-7- And so, before all the revelry that will be next week, I'm looking forward to taking it easy this weekend after a long, meeting-intensive week at work. Tomorrow, my parents are taking me out to lunch for my birthday. *beams* They're taking me to my very favorite casual dining restaurant in the world, and our local one closed up years ago, meaning that I haven't eaten there since Henry was little. This birthday lunch actually involves going to *Canada* to get access to the goodness that is Swiss Chalet. :0 Those who have eaten there know exactly what I'm talking about.

Chalet sauce, anybody? What do they put in there, crack?! I don't know, but whatever it is, it could solve our quest for world peace, if you ask me. It's THAT good.

Sunday, we're going to be watching the Daytona 500 and ordering in some food to enjoy with the kids. Can't.wait.

Ok, chat with you all Monday, for the first day in our 7 Posts in 7 Days lead up to Lent! Check out more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Catholic Book Club: The Mass

Hello all! Reporting in with another review for Image Books, and this one is an excellent lead up to Lent : The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition, by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina.

I don't know about any of you, but when I was a child, I thought Mass was very, very...boring. I "didn't get anything out of it," I thought to myself, and thus it was no big deal to not go every Sunday.

As I grew in maturity and years, I came to long for a much deeper understanding of my faith, and as a result of my study have come to love and revere the Mass. If anyone is wanting to learn more about the Mass - it's foundations, the meaning of the different elements and traditions, why particular wording is used in the liturgy - this is the book for you.

The book is divided into two main sections:

(1) What Makes the Mass: People, Places, Words and Things

(2) The Mass As It Is: A Closer Look

The first section discusses items that I fully expected, such as the Biblical foundations of the Mass, it's historical development, how one should prepare for Mass, and the roles of different people during the liturgy. But it also explores really interesting tidbits, such as the vessels and cloths used at Mass and the Church calendar.

The latter part of the book does exactly as advertised, and does so in an engaging fashion. The authors address every part of the Mass, from the opening procession right through the blessing and dismissal. The chapters are short, many also containing photographs to illustrate, and thus can be read very easily in small segments as part of a nightly spiritual reading plan. Despite the serious subject matter, this is not  "heavy" and difficult to digest book for lay Catholics to read. The authors do an outstanding job of  keeping the text readable while conveying intricate detail. This is quite simply a lovely book to read.

This book is available in both print and electronic form, with the trade paperback's list price at $14. Check your favorite retailer for a copy, it is well worth it.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful day. :) I have a miserable day tomorrow filled with three meetings (offering this up, #martyr!) so I don't know if I will blog or not. But you will hear from me Friday for 7 Quick Takes!

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Checking in from the trenches, birthday edition. :) And some book club news...

Afternoon all! I am always SO out of sorts when I'm out of routine, which I know is not a big surprise to you. *gentle snort* I took a few days off from work, and  you would think I lost the ability to conceive of the calendar, my days of the week are so turned around. This is especially bad when I skip a usual day of blogging.

But here I am, and another year older, to boot. I have come to terms with these "less than thrilling number" birthdays, because really, what choice do we have? There's no going back, that's for sure. And if you don't enjoy and cherish your life to the fullest in the present moment, you're really missing out. So, that's my current birthday philosophy. We'll talk again next year when I reach a particularly unpleasant milestone AND my birthday falls on Ash Wednesday. I'll obviously be doing penance for all of humanity with that one. You're welcome.

;)

At any rate, I *have* been having a very nice birthday. Last night, Mike took me to our favorite restaurant for dinner.  We lingered over half price martinis at the bar, talking about our kids and the Olympics, while next to us lounged a crew of young adults who couldn't possibly be too far over the legal drinking age. They were rather loudly talking about their dating lives while Mike and I brainstormed ideas for future writing projects.

#oldfogeys

Alas, rather than causing me to long for my "lost youth," it made me all the more grateful that I'm happily past an age where insecurity reigned (at least for me).

#scoreonefortheoldpeople

Since this is a martini bar, the selection was pretty impressive. I was agonizing over a vodka martini versus a specialty one, when I decided to go for broke. It's my birthday. I'm going for the dessert martini, baby!!

Oatmeal cookie martini for everybody!!!

We're talking Bailey's Irish Cream. We're talking butterscotch schnapps. We're talking (unfathomably) Jagermeister and Goldschlager. We're talking chocolately goodness, BUT WITH ALCOHOL.

It just doesn't get any better than that, folks.

After our time at the bar, we headed to a table for dinner over candlelight. Sublime.

I've also gotten some very nice gifts. Handmade bath products in my favorite fragrances. A bag of flavored decaf coffee. Cute new bookends. A promise of a lunch this coming weekend with my parents. All very lovely. I've been doing tons of knitting, reading and watching of the Olympics. It's been a *very* nice long weekend.

So! Speaking of reading, I have some Catholic Book Club news. I'm not really sure that anyone is reading the books along with me :0 so I don't think this will be a disruption to anybody. What I really like about the Catholic Book Club is that it keeps me accountable with spiritual reading. Every month, I will read at least one non-fiction book geared toward strengthening my faith. And people do read the reviews and perhaps it gives them some ideas for their own spiritual reading list. All good.

But sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, and this month is one of those times. I was supposed to be reading The Hidden Face of St. Therese by Ida Gorres. Well. :)

I spent some time this month reading The Mass by Cardinal Wuerl, to review for Image Books. I finished it, and I will write my review here tomorrow, so look for that. But I then was behind schedule on reading The Hidden Face. Undeterred, I quickly downloaded it and started reading. My first inkling that there would be a problem was when I read and read and read and read, and looked down at the little status bar on my Kindle and it indicated that I was at 1% of completion. Oh my.

This is a LONG book, and there is no way I'm going to finish it for next Wednesday, as originally planned. I'm just not up to the task of taking on such a large endeavor this month. So, what I decided to do is review The Mass tomorrow, and switch things up a bit for the coming months. I started reading Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns via a library copy last month. It's been languishing on my shelf, and I'd really like to pick it back up, so I'm going to have that be the official March Catholic Book Club selection. I bumped the other two books I have had on the list, More Catholic Than the Pope, and The Cloistered Heart, to April and May. I still plan to read those two books, and in fact, already own print copies, so I'm all set. The list on the right sidebar is now all up to date as well.

So there! I have shared my Type A, extreme book reading list organization mentality with all of you. :0 I know it's part of the reason you love me so much.

Ok! Back to my children. I'll be checking in with all of you again tomorrow! Lots of exciting stuff to come, including some Lenten plans, and a 7 day blogging challenge. :) Stay tuned!

Friday, February 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 31} Creativity, or lack thereof, edition...


-1- "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives..."

I've been seeing hourglasses in my dreams lately, with sand slipping through at an alarming pace. Have I lost my mind? No, it's just my birthday on Tuesday.

:-\

Birthdays officially stop being fun after a certain age, methinks. Although, that's not totally true. Mike always takes me to dinner. My parents and in-laws get me thoughtful gifts. People leave me sweet messages on Facebook. :) That's all good. But birthdays have made me introspective the last several years. The older I get, the more I realize how quickly life passes, and that's a humbling thing. One can't help but think: "Am I doing enough? Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I doing what *I* want to do, such that when I die, I won't feel like I've wasted my life?"

Deep stuff for a "quick take," no? ;-)

-2- "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, when Tiffany could still remember what she ate for dinner two nights ago..."

And so, I've been thinking a lot lately about creativity. Specifically, whether I have lost my creative edge. As a child, I was always very creative. Not in art class, pray tell. I have zero traditional artistic ability. My poor traumatized art teachers with my deformed stick figure drawings in their hand will be able to speak to that. But I loved creative writing. I wrote stories all the time that people read and enjoyed. Nowadays I couldn't come up with a plot for a fiction novel to save my life. I still enjoy writing, and thrive in it, but creative ideas don't flow as quickly as I'd like. I would like to do *more* writing than I do now, but I'm not certain exactly how to go about doing that. I have no answers here, just questions, but brainstorming about such things is always helpful to me.

-3- "Excuse me? Does the library have all of my textbooks?!"

This creativity angle applies to my job as well. I like my job, and I chose (finally, thank God) a profession that suits my personality. I work with nice people in a (mostly) soothing and quiet environment that pleases me. I'm able to provide money for my family, and we have excellent benefits. These are all important and good things. But at this point of my career, having achieved my main goal of tenure as an academic librarian, I feel a bit...stale. I don't really do anything new or exciting on any given day. I don't exactly NEED excitement all of the time, but I suppose I'm feeling a bit bored lately. I love being a reference librarian. But there's only so many times that you can point the way to the restrooms or troubleshoot a printing problem before you start to think: "is this what I really saw myself doing with my life?" Certainly, all jobs and indeed vocations come with their less glamorous sides. But am I doing *enough* to reach my full potential as a librarian? As an information professional? As a writer and editor? I don't know.

-4- Enough of this Debbie Downer business...

On the positive side, I think that I'm at an excellent point in my life to try new endeavors should the right opportunity arise. I'd like to seek out new writing opportunities. Maybe collaborate on a project (you know who you are ;)). And I'm excited about these things. Since the fall, when I attended the Catholic New Media Conference, I've felt like the time has come for me to move forward in my writing. I have some ideas, and continue to pray about all of this. I know that if its the right opportunity at the right time, God will show me the way. :)

-5- "Can I use this to justify buying a new costume?"

In other *good* creative news, I am more in love with dance than ever. I'm happy to be heading back to class this Friday after not being able to attend last week, and my troupe has lots of exciting events and festivals coming up. I also may have a fascinating little gig coming up that has my mind whirling with ways in which I need to improve my improvisation. :) I need to think about making some new performance playlists, and *squeals*! I'm excited. More details on that when I know more, hopefully within the month.

-6- "Mommy, is there anything else we can do with...these cardboard penguins?"

Poor Henry, genetics are against him when it comes to his own school art projects. Every other month or so he has to do these dioramas, and it's so hard for me to help him with them when I so utterly lack the ability to do anything constructive with felt and pipe cleaners. This week, he had to create a scene from "Mr. Popper's Penguins" and my trip to the craft store resulted in a sad lack of penguin representation, let me tell you. The only thing in the entire store with penguins on it was a roll of duck tape. I cut out individual penguins from that (no easy feat; you know, STICKY) and slapped them onto small circles of cardboard. Voila! Instant herd of penguins.

Henry wasn't impressed.

"You know, Mommy, Edward's diorama is REALLY COOL. His has a rock in it with live plants growing off it, and if you press a button, confetti comes out! And his has *12* plastic penguins, AND..."

"Well, good for Edward. You know, we non-crafty people are obviously discriminated against in the K-12 school setting. It really isn't fair."

You know I'm right on this. :0

-7- Martinis for everybody!

And so my big day is Tuesday, 2/18. I haven't yet reached an age milestone that I'm truly dreading, but let's just say that that isn't so far away, and that's all you'll get out of me. Monday night, Mike is taking me out to our very favorite restaurant, where we went on our first date. It's a martini bar, and half price martinis on Monday nights til 8. Um, yeah, I'm taking off my birthday from work this year. :0 Good plan, no? I think it's brilliant. Since it's my birthday, I'm also going hog wild and ORDERING AN APPETIZER. We're so frugal, I can't even tell you the last time I had an appetizer. And it's my birthday, I CAN HAVE AN APPETIZER IF I WANT TO. With my martini. Damn, I'm excited. :0

All right, I'll check in with you all either Monday or Tuesday. Have a great weekend, and Happy Valentines Day!

More 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some pre-Valentine's Day musings on relationships...

Happy Thursday all! I heard a story on NPR's "This American Life" podcast this week that got me to thinking. It's about relationships and marriage, and since Valentine's Day is tomorrow, I thought "perfect timing!" I do have conversations with myself about blog topics. It's just part of what makes me special. ;-0

Anyway, the story in a nutshell was this:  a guy (we'll call him Adam) and his girlfriend met back in college. They hit it off right away, started exclusively dating, and 13 years later were still together. Now 30 years old, they were an established couple amongst their group of friends and obviously very comfortable with each other. The problem? They had never talked about getting married. They just kept dating because both of them wanted to, and neither had felt particularly compelled to talk about marriage.

Adam finally broaches the topic, and is a bit surprised by his girlfriend's response. They had only ever (seriously) dated each other. She thought they should see other people before getting married. And let me be clear (without being vulgar): she specified that she felt they should be intimate with other people prior to marrying each other.

My mouth was hanging open a bit at this point, but I'll continue. :0 They agree that for 30 days, they will not speak, and that they are free to, you know, *see* as many people during that time as they like. Their one rule is that they will not enter into an actual relationship with anyone else. They embark. Adam regales us with some tales of his 30 days. At the end of the month, both Adam and Girlfriend agree that one month wasn't long enough. So they continue on in this fashion for a total of three months.

During this time, Adam finds that he is struggling a bit with his feelings. He found a few women that he became emotionally attached to, and had to abruptly stop seeing them lest he break his promise to his girlfriend. Towards the end of the three months, things are looking dire. He has fallen in love with another woman. His girlfriend? Reports no such phenomena. She said that she had no trouble keeping her feelings out of their experiment.

So, when the three months are over, Adam and his girlfriend get together to talk. The result is completely unsurprising, in my opinion. They decide to break up. They both enjoyed meeting other people and felt that the reason they felt compelled to conduct such an experiment showed that neither was completely happy in their relationship anymore. They went their separate ways.

We now cut to Adam talking to the host of the show, Ira Glass. Adam tells Ira that as a result of all of this, he thinks that when he does get married, he wants it to be for only seven years. At the end of seven years, they can choose to either break up or get remarried. But this way, things won't get stale and you won't take the other person for granted, at least in his estimation. Ira took issue with this a bit, and said that he felt one of the huge benefits to marriage is the security of knowing that you both vowed to stick with it for life, not just for a short duration. If something goes wrong in the short term, you don't have to fear the person leaving you for easier pastures just because you're nearing a seven year time stamp.

I thought about this story for a long time after listening to it. I'm sure you would be unsurprised to learn that I think the very premise of this couple's "experiment" was an absolutely terrible idea. Of *course* they were going to break up after that! The whole thing was a sabotage of their relationship.

I suppose the deeper issue is - what really *is* compatibility and happiness with your spouse within marriage? It's not any one thing, of course. We could add things onto the list of answers to this question all day. But to me, a real essential part of this equation is a decision. I made a decision to vow to be faithful to my husband and live out the rest of my life with him. Are there other men out there that I could have decided to marry instead? Well, sure. I'm not saying I in particular had all of these options :0 because I did not. What I mean is that anybody could look around and say "oh, I also find him attractive. He's (fill in the blank with shared interest or key part of your background) and also (ditto). Hum...

But we don't do that, or at least recognize that we shouldn't. One could always perceive the grass to be greener somewhere else. Marriages that are successful involve two people who are able to put those thoughts aside and direct their romantic energy onto their spouse. We choose a partner for a reason, many of them in fact, compelling ones. Over the course of ten, twenty, thirty plus years, people change. Our circumstances in life change. But our marriage vow does not. And in my opinion, if you keep your romantic focus on your spouse, despite those changes, you will remain happy in your relationship.You bring other people into the equation, and suddenly you are distracted. You damage your emotional bond with your spouse. The fibers of your relationship start to crumble.

Mike and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary next January. There have been some tough times, but I have always been, and remain, happily married. And listening to this story made me appreciate my husband anew. We're both in this for the long haul. My husband may not be perfect, nor is he married to a perfect woman. But we are committed to each other. I know that he loves and cherishes me, not only because he tells me so, but because I know that he is committed to being there for me and our children. And that speaks volumes.

What do you all think? Did anyone else hear "This American Life" this week? Is it possible to be happy with just one person for the rest of your life? Thoughts in the comments, please! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Teaching when you're an introvert, take #497

I've mentioned this before, teaching is a part of my job. It's not a part of my job that I particularly expected when I went to library school, nor is it a favorite part of my job, but I like to excel at what I do (read: obsessive/compulsive) and so I always aim to prepare well, and inject some humor and personal stories to keep my teaching interesting. I always endeavor to do my best. But I can't help the fact that I don't relish teaching. Sometimes, when it goes really well, I feel joyful about it. The rest of the time? I just feel anxious about it, unsurprisingly. :)

And so today I was slated to teach yet another gigantic World Civilizations class. This is always the class each semester that I am most anxious about, and THAT, my friends, is saying something.

So I did what I always do. I prepared my lesson plan. I went through it several times. I made a few notes. I thought of appropriate examples. I did what I could to ensure a thorough lesson, but one that wouldn't put everyone to sleep.

Ten minutes prior to the start of class, I set off. It's only a few buildings away, so that was plenty of time. A few minutes later, I'm in the correct building. Except...I can't find the room. I have the room number written down, and I see rooms with neighboring numbers, but not that exact number.

Uh oh.

I poke my head into some of the other rooms. None contain the instructor I'm looking for. I hustle to a few rooms up one level in case the instructor accidentally left off a digit in his message to me. The 2 rooms I check up there have other instructors in them, too. I hustle back down, trying to battle back the sweating. I determine that this is a losing battle.

On my way, I actually locate the exact room number I'm looking for.

It's an equipment closet.

That makes it official. I am screwed.

I don't have a smartphone, so no way to check the university course schedule. And it's now minutes away from 11 am. I pace the hallway, looking paranoid. I consider my limited options:

(1) Run back to my office to check the online course schedule and then dash back, securing my place in the university as That Strange Lady Who Looks Wild Eyed And Runs Places All Akimbo. This would also have the unfortunate side effect of making me sweat EVEN MORE. Or,

(2) Approach a stranger in the hallway and ask to commandeer their mobile device to check the online course schedule, securing my place in the university as That Strange Lady Who Will Talk To You Against Your Will And Owns Outdated Technology.

Clearly, option #2 is the least vexing, albeit not exactly an option with a lot else going for it.

I spy a young woman lounging with her iPad on one of the nearby benches. I pounce.

"Excuse me, may I impose upon you?"

It's less horrifying to approach strangers when you talk as fancy as possible.

"I'm supposed to be in a class, and I seem to have the wrong room number. Would you mind checking the online course schedule for me?

Thankfully, she was very nice and accommodating. I rather wanted her to just pull up the information for me (she had a very nice iPad Mini and I didn't want to chance dropping it or otherwise clumsily damaging it), but she handed it to me like she trusted me, yikes. It took me several tries to get the right class pulled up, because I am apparently incapable of typing on a mobile device whilst panicking. Finally, I pull up the room number. As I had begun to suspect, the email from the instructor did in fact contain a typo with a missing digit. The room was one level up, and obviously wasn't one of the ones I had peeked into earlier.

I thanked my new friend and dashed off, making it into the room by 4 minutes after the hour (not that I was checking or anything).

Mortifyingly, class had already started, but I slipped in and waited for my cue. I then had to do my teaching thing while trying to recover from this unexpected stressor right beforehand. I did just fine, but that was a close one.

After class, I explained to the instructor what had happened and apologized, of course. I didn't mention that it was his email that contained the incorrect room number, I just said that I had the wrong room number, and that it took me several minutes to then determine the correct one. I thought that was very nice of me. :0 It could have been worse, I suppose.

Back in my office, I've been hibernating ever since, feeling quite emotionally spent. I think tonight is going to be a 'glass of wine upon taking off my boots' kind of evening.

Anyone else having a stressful day? Just want to soothe your Catholic Librarian? Leave me a comment!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A First Communion meeting of below zero wind chill and super glue...

Friday evening found me freezing my saint medals off at Henry's school for a parent's meeting regarding the upcoming big First Communion celebration. And so, how did it go?

:)

I left the house around 6:45 for the 7 pm meeting feeling a bit punchy, since I was not happy to be missing my dance class. Certainly, Henry's receiving the Eucharist is more important than my dance class, I just object to the scheduling of these meetings. Friday evenings, really? Mike has fielded the last two (also on Friday evenings), and they're crowded, somewhat chaotic gatherings since the school kids are pooled together with the larger religious education program. I suppose I wish they simply organized things differently. If I were in charge, that's what I would do, and I feel very self righteous about the whole thing. *gentle snort*

But that's neither here nor there. I arrived, and the 30 second walk from my car to the building was downright excruciating. It was *so cold*. This has been some kind of winter, to be sure. I simply couldn't warm up the entire time I was there, and thus was a dork and left my scarf on. Anyway, I signed in, picked up a packet of paperwork, and was directed to fetch a burlap canvas. Uh oh. This must mean A CRAFT.

Now see, people think that because I knit and crochet, that means I'm *crafty.* My friends, I am here to tell you that I am not. Sit me down with construction paper, glitter, dried macaroni, felt and high intensity glue, and when you come back you'll find me trying to herd a pile of glitter onto a specific spot in my clumsy drawing amid a confusing arrangement of felt shapes with my right index finger and thumb glued together. Art was just never my talent.

But just as in school, I have to do it anyway. :) Henry and I need to create a "First Communion banner" with his name and Eucharistic imagery on it. Despite my utter lack of talent with such implements, I *am* looking forward to this. This is going to involve a trip to the craft store, and I'm angling for the scrapbooking aisle where I'm thinking appropriate felt shapes and images will be pre-cut out for us, just waiting to be stickied onto our banner with their own self-adhesive tape. This sounds Non-Crafty Person Proof, no?

So, there is that. We also have to bake a small loaf of bread, and you see, this is another one of my distinct lack of talents. Baking = Dangerous in the Catholic Librarian household. I really wish we didn't have to do this, but this is apparently how it has always been done at this parish (the one affiliated with Henry's school, which is not our home parish). And the Lady In Charge *clearly* does not like to do things that Have Not Always Been Done. The meeting lasted an hour, and it was clear that she reigns as Queen of Religious Education for this parish's program, no doubt about that, and has for approximately the past 20 years. She's perfectly lovely, but it was apparent that there was a Way Things Are Done, and nobody is going to mess with that, no sir.

Anyway, back to small loaves of bread. This seems rather pointless to me, but it's a part of the Offertory, so we either have to bake one or buy one. I'm seeing myself in an explosive cloud of flour sometime in early May, I'll keep you posted on that.

There was lots of talk about what the children should wear. It all seemed like common sense to me, but I realize that there are people out there who do not use common sense when it comes to clothing. I do like that each child is called up by name to receive, along with his or her parents, and so I'll be able to receive the Eucharist right after Henry does. We had to put in for a first and second choice for date, since there are 2 First Communion Masses, and I'm hoping we get May 3rd. May 10th is so close to Anne's birthday, and that's a lot of parties in 2 weeks time for your easily harried hostess. :)

So we'll see. I came home armed with good information, albeit freezing and bearing burlap. Anybody else have a First Communion coming up this spring? It's a lovely thought, is it not? Leave me a comment!

Friday, February 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday {Take 30} "Are you ok, why are you twitching?!" edition

It's been an anxiety-ridden sort of a week, which is bad, good, and humorous combined into one. And so, what has been going on with your Catholic Librarian this week?

-1- "Da Da DAAAHHH!"

We'll start off with fun news. My giveaway ended this morning for the Let Us Keep the Feast: Epiphany & Lent volume. Our winner is the wonderful Delta Flute! I've know known Delta Flute for many years via her blog, and she has been a loyal reader of this blog for quite some time. I'm very grateful to have her as a reader, and happy that she won. Congrats!

-2- *sweats*

My anxiety post from earlier in the week really generated some interest, which pleases me greatly. I'm not pleased that we're all anxious :0 but it's so nice to have others relate to my writing and experiences. I was reflecting on this topic after I wrote the post, and I realized that a lot of my anxiety comes from a fear of not being in control. I definitely have social anxiety, and I think the root of this is that I cannot control other people, so therefore I try and have hyper extreme control over myself and my environment so that I will not look stupid. Doesn't that sound exhausting?

I'm here to tell you that it is. :0

-3- "We owe you nothing." *adjusts halo*

So what have I been anxious about *this* week, you ask? On any given week, the possibilities are endless. :0 This week, I was worried about that dental insurance claim denial situation I mentioned in the anxiety post. However, I was a very good girl. I put aside my complete phobia of having telephone conversations with people, and prepared to call the periodontist's office. I mentally rehearsed what I needed to say, sipped some tea, and picked up the phone. When the office assistant answered, I explained what had happened, and she immediately knew what I was referring to. The office recently moved locations, and this resulted in a technicality on the claim form that led to a denial of the claim, and this has apparently been happening to patients all week.

Whew. And see I know how to have a good conversation with someone whom I don't know. Business transaction complete, I bid you a polite adieu, and we both hang up without delay. So, they are going to refile the claim, and in the meantime I'm worrying that they do so speedily and that nothing else will go wrong, because that is what I do best.

-4- "Bless me Father, for I have sinned..."

Confession: Back when I had to originally schedule an appointment with this periodontist, I put it off. Because, well, you know why. I am a complete spaz about talking on the phone, that's why. But I knew what I had to do, so I had my conversation rehearsal in my head and away I went. Except a wrench was thrown into my plans. And when that happens, Tiffany no longer has control over the situation. My rehearsed conversation was between me and the office assistant. And the periodontist answered the telephone. Imagine that, HE ANSWERED HIS OWN TELEPHONE. I was so caught off guard, I couldn't deal with it. I hung up on him.

After that? I couldn't call back for several weeks. For obvious reasons. I would have looked weird. THE GREAT FEAR OF EVERYONE WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY. We can't have that.

-5- Who schedules meetings for 7 pm on a Friday night?!

I ASK YOU. Ok, so I hate having my routine messed with. I just...I love my routine. I need it. I cherish it. I thrive in it. It's part of the control thing. And so when I heard that the Parent First Communion meeting at Henry's school was scheduled for 7 pm on a Friday evening, I didn't take it very well. I dance on Friday nights. At 7 pm. I'm all about Henry's First Communion, but does this not seem like an unorthodox and inconvenient meeting time?!

Mew!

Not happy, but what's a person to do? The past two meetings (one for First Reconciliation and another one for First Communion) Mike has fielded because I was in Maine visiting my sister and nephews. It's officially My Turn, and Mike is pretty gleeful about the whole thing.

I'm making a frowny face.

-6- The Olympics, but with yarn

I *am* looking forward to the Olympics starting this weekend, and I have knitting projects lined up for the official Ravellenic Games (crafters set project goals to complete during the Olympic time frame) and I'm all excited. My first project is an entrant in the "Works in Progress Dancing" category, which is Mike's poor cardigan that I started back in October. I will finish it prior to the end of the Olympics. :0 I'd also like to crochet another small project, we'll see. But I'm excited.

Speaking of the Olympics, have you read today's post about the "Momlympics" on Mama Knows, Honeychild? I.SNORTED.SO.LOUD. If you don't subscribe to that blog, you are seriously missing out. It is *wonderful*.

-7- "Mommy, I have to sit on the potty!!"

Which every parent in the universe knows means: "I'm going to start peeing in 5 seconds whether you get me to the potty or not!!" and so there is a great deal of hustling involved here. Anne is doing pretty well with her training. We're going through a LOT less diapers (still need them when she sleeps) but she does go in the potty pretty well during the day. We are, however, doing a LOT more laundry, so it's still not a perfect situation. It *has* been a bit easier from what we went through with Henry, but I'm sure now that I've said that I'll be cleaning thrown poo off the wall all weekend long. I'll keep you posted.

Ok, back to work! Have a great weekend everyone! Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Catholic Nook: Our Lady Undoer of Knots

Good day to you all! Today I wanted to write about one of my newest (and quickly, favorite) Marian devotions, the novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Isn't the visual just stunning? This is a favorite devotion of Pope Francis, so it's just got a lot going for it.

The image was painted by an artist named Johann Melchior, and the original has been venerated in a church in Augsburg, Germany for centuries. The artist was inspired by a meditation of St. Irenaeus, in which he stated: "Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; Mary, by her obedience, undid it."

Since then, the faithful have asked for the intercession of Mary under this title for aid in the "knots" of their life. Things that seem particularly challenging for us to deal with, and may not have a very positive outlook. Sort of like when you get a tight knot in a thin gold chain. You pick away at it with your nail, but you just know that knot isn't coming out unless someone with a pointy tool and a lot of patience comes to your aid. That's how I see this devotion.

I prayed the novena to Mary under this title about a year ago, and indeed the intention is a particularly snarly one. I can't say that the situation is *resolved*, but I have seen small changes that give me hope. I originally heard about the devotion on "The Catholics Next Door" podcast with
Greg and Jennifer Willits. I remember Jennifer saying something similar, that the intention was a tough one, things were happening slowly, but she had so much peace after praying the novena that somehow, in some way, *eventually*, things would work out.

The novena itself is very simple. For 9 days, you pray a rosary, asking Our Lady to intercede for your intention. Before you begin, pray an Act of Contrition. Pray the first 3 mysteries of the Rosary for that particular day of the week. Then, pause to read a short meditation (will come back to this in a moment). Pray the final 2 mysteries of the rosary, and pray a final prayer to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

I have a lovely little book with all of the meditations and prayers in it, plus some history of the devotion, which you can see and purchase here.The prayers are also online here. This devotion has brought me so much peace, and I plan to pray the novena again within the next few weeks. I'll let you all know when I will be starting, so that you can pray along with me if you like. Cristina is joining in as well! I will add a tab at the top of the blog next to "About Me" with the links to the prayers stickied in, and the applicable dates.

I even have a rosary (a Christmas gift :)) that I pray with daily that is modeled after this devotion:

This was made by the fabulous Carm at Unbreakable Rosaries on Etsy. She has a similar one currently listed if anyone else would like their very own. :)

Do I have any other Our Lady Undoer of Knots devotees? Anybody want to join in the upcoming novena? Leave me a comment!

*Historical information and image from http://www.maryundoerofknots.com/history.htm

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

THERE IS NO REASON TO PANIC!!!

I have always been a person who struggles with anxiety. It's just part of my personality, I suppose. When I was a child, I wondered sometimes what it was that made me different from my peers. Nobody else seemed as nervous as I was about doing normal, everyday things. Like, you know, playing volley ball in gym class. Or having to talk to...anybody. I just always wished that I could change this about myself. Like if I concentrated enough, I wouldn't worry about these things so much.

As an adult, I have come, via necessity, to accept this about myself. I cannot change it. That is a fact. Therefore, I have developed coping mechanisms. And I allow myself to see the humor in the situation.

But, for example, the following things make me unbelievably, "Please God, let this be over soon!!" anxious:

(1) Talking on the telephone to people I do not know. Just the facts, ma'am, or else direct me straight to voicemail please!
(2) Speaking in a meeting. *sweats*
(3) Answering the door to someone I do not know. In fact, I actually don't do this, unless it is the summer, the door is propped open, and I have no choice or else I would look incredibly rude.
(4) Doing anything that I am not confident in my abilities to excel at, and feel out of my element.
(5) Playing sports, see #4 above. I avoid this at all costs, even "oh, it's just for fun!!" work softball teams. I'd rather die.

There are other things that I do feel (somewhat) confident in my ability to at least not suck at, but it still makes me super nervous to do them. These things would be:

(1) Dancing in public.
(2) Teaching.
(3) Having conversations with people I genuinely like.
(4) Blogging.

Essentially, things I really care about. This is not a pleasant cross to bear, let me tell you, gentle reader. :0 I have never taken medication to deal with anxiety, nor do I plan to. So I do what I can to mitigate my worrying.

In thinking about my New Years resolutions, one of them is actually to worry less. The instant I start to worry about something, I tell myself to put it right out of my mind. There I go, talking to myself again, but there you have it. It helps. Cristina and I talked about picking one word to embody our 2014, and I chose:

RELAX

Just so you know what you're dealing with here. I need to relax more. It is my one word for what I need to do more this year.

So. The fact that I logged into my dental insurance online system yesterday to check on my periodontal surgery claim (because, you know, I didn't want to *call* ;-)), and saw the following:

Claim status: Processed

Innocent, Halo Perched Insurance Company Pays: $0.00

Tiffany Pays: $1900

...and didn't have an immediate heart attack? Well, I think this means that I'm making progress.

The first thing that popped into my mind was: "I'M NOT GOING TO PANIC!!!!" See what a good girl I was? I was panicking as I told myself that, but no matter. My intentions were pure.

I clicked on the claim explanation, and it appears to be a technicality on the end of the dentist's office that can be easily remedied and resubmitted. That's what I'm hoping. Because I still have to call the dentist's office to ask them about this. And you know how I feel about THAT.

I do what I can. But I do feel like my anxiety has gotten a bit more pronounced in recent years. There is more to worry about in life as you acquire more responsibility, sure. There could also be physical and hormonal reasons as a person naturally ages (mew!). Other than that, I'm not sure. I'm just doing my best to navigate it.

St. Dymphna, pray for us!

Are there any other Nervous Nellies out there like me? :) Leave me a comment!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Liturgical Year Book Review & Giveaway: Epiphany & Lent

Afternoon everyone! Fresh on the heels of Candlemas, I thought today was a perfect day to review the next book in the Let Us Keep the Feast series, Epiphany & Lent (series edited by Jessica Snell). I reviewed the first book, Advent & Christmas, back in December, and some foundational information about the series can be found in that post (so go read it if you haven't already, quick like a bunny. ;-)).

In a nutshell, these are small but wonderful little books that discuss a particular portion of the liturgical year from a Christian perspective (this includes Catholic as well as some Protestant traditions). Included in each is a history of the liturgical season, any special feasts therein, associated traditions and suggestions for old and new ways to engage in these, recipe and craft ideas, and ways to celebrate the season out in the larger community. There are always some really good suggestions that I would not have thought of on my own.

And so this Epiphany & Lent volume was really interesting to me because I learned some things about other Christian traditions. In the Catholic Church, Epiphany is fixed on the calendar at January 6th, but celebrated in Mass on the Sunday following that. The subsequent Sunday will be the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and formally begins a sliver of Ordinary Time leading up to Lent. In other churches, Epiphany is a full liturgical season celebrated up until Ash Wednesday. The librarian learned a new liturgical tidbit, and she likes this very much! Of course, the traditions and suggested activities apply regardless of how long one celebrates Epiphany, and are beautiful things to reflect on leading up to Lent.

In the Epiphany segment of this book, the author addresses Twelfth Night traditions, a blessing of homes, gift giving during this season, and Shrove Tuesday. In the "New Traditions" section, she includes some suggestions with a theme of Christ as the Light of the World that I thought were lovely and inspiring. And there is a recipe for King Cake! Who of you are very ambitious bakers out there?! *cups hands over eyes to scan the crowd* I also really enjoyed reading about a traditional home blessing during Epiphany. Some nice ideas in this section for including your children in this activity.

In the Lent portion of the book, I once again found very good suggestions that I have not have done before. Fasting from something other than food, for instance, making your Lenten world less "noisy." Incorporating spring cleaning, which I LOVED. They can be little things, but when done with great love we can transform both them and ourselves. A very. St. Therese of Lisieux interpretation of Lent. :) There are some nice suggestions for your children, including creating a child-friendly daily devotional time, and allowing them to choose for themselves something meaningful to give up until Easter. Suggestions very dear to my heart were to craft and give those items away during Lent, and to keep a reflection journal.

Once again, I was impressed with this series. I am pleased to be compiling a print copy of every volume in the set, and have already given a few away as gifts. You can buy these books at the Doulos Resources eStore in either print or ebook form. Use the discount code “LUKTFBlogTour” to receive 15% off your order!

I am, though, also giving away a copy, *insert happy noise*! Enter below with Rafflecopter. I will announce the winner Friday morning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway