Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 42} Aging librarians, summertime reading, and prayers for Pentecost! edition


-1- "Why do they make the print SO SMALL?!"

Happy Friday everybody! I just assisted a patron over the phone, and so I'm feeling very librarian-like right now. I also have my glasses on, which I do about 90% of the time I'm at work now. It's a humbling reality, to be sure, especially when I have to take them off to then look at anything farther than my computer screen away from my face, only to pop them back on my nose when I need to read again. Why do I do that, you reasonably ask?

Because I need bifocals.

*glares*

I hate it, but most likely with my next eye exam early next year I will go this route, because I hate the on and off thing. That makes me feel *older* than just having glasses I can wear. I like my glasses, in fact. And so does Mike, he says it adds to some kind of "librarian allure" that he finds appealing. :0 I suppose this is a comfort in my aging process, since he's going to be seeing a whole lot more of my glasses in the coming years.


-2- My little girl is getting so big. *second sniffle in 20 second time period*

I had Anne at the pediatrician on Wednesday for her 3 year well visit. In the past year, she has grown 4.25 inches. :0 I mean, holy growth spurt! And she's in the 79% for height on the growth chart. Mike and I just produce these giant children. She was very cute, climbing all over the exam room in her underwear while we waited for the doctor to arrive.

"Mommy, a spider."

*time stands still* Because Anne is afraid of/in love with spiders.

"It's ok, Honey, just leave him alone."

"Can't you get him, Mommy?!"

"No, we're just going to let him crawl around. Maybe he's trying to find his web."

"His web?"

Now she's *really* interested in what he is doing. Spider Web Spotting is one of Anne's very favorite activities.

"He's crawling behind the table, Mommy!! Is that his web?!"

"I'm not sure, Honey, it's kind of hard to see back there."

"I'M GOING TO WATCH HIM, MOMMY."

Super Secret Spy Anne, saving humanity from the antics of household spiders...

-3- Prayer request!

But on a serious note, while Anne got an excellent bill of health at the pediatrician, the doctor did note that she hears a small heart murmur. Now, I have a heart murmur, as does my mom, and as did my grandfather. In my case (and similar to my my my mom and grandfather), it is a mitral valve prolapse, a minor defect in one of my heart valves. It does not interfere in my daily life in any way, and carries no negative long term prognosis. It seems reasonable to assume that if Anne has a discernible heart murmur, she likely has the same thing. However, we need to be sure of exactly what is going on, so we were referred to a pediatric cardiologist for an echocardiogram. Her appointment is a week from today, and I would so appreciate it if you would keep her in your prayers while we await the results. It's most likely something extremely minor, but I can't help, I feel freaked out. #mybaby

-4- Pentecost Novena! 

Speaking of prayer, today is day 1 of the Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit, run by Pray More Novenas You can sign up to receive the prayers in your email each day, so that you don't forget. I'm definitely going to be praying this one, so join in! Hard to believe that it'll be Pentecost so soon! Then back to Ordinary Time for us. :)

-5- My reading queue is looking all tidy. *adjusts bun*

I had gotten rather obsessed with an Amish fiction series I was reading and was neglecting my spiritual reading, so I have gotten back on course. The official May post for the Catholic Book Club went up this past Wednesday with my review of Vocation in Black and White. I also finished a book that I am slated to review for Image Books, Girl at the End of the World: My Escape From Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future, by Elizabeth Esther:


I need to post a review on the blog, so I'll do that probably Wednesday. Wednesdays just strike me as a good day to talk about books. :) Look for that review then, and I'll provide a teaser: this was a *very* interesting memoir, an insight into a cult. I am *fascinated* with cults. :0 Happily, I don't want to join one, but the reading is always so interesting. Stay tuned for Wednesday!

-6- Happy summer spiritual memoirs!

I adore spiritual memoirs, and I chose this summer as a time to just indulge and read several as part of the Catholic Book Club. I have started Jennifer Fulwiler's Something Other Than God, for our June selection:

I know there are some of you out there who have already read this ;) so bring your typing fingers to my combox come June 25th. In July, we have Pope Awesome and Other Stories: How I Found God, Had Kids, and Lived to Tell the Tale, by Cari Donaldson:


I love humor in writing, and so I have a feeling that I'm going to really love this memoir. AND, I may have an interview with Cari lined up. :0 I am *super* excited about this, so stay tuned for details! And read the book, I want to hear your thoughts! (psst! $4.99 Kindle download at Amazon right now! Snap that baby up!) August's selection will be announced shortly. :)

-7- Weekend plans? And being Multi-Craftual (aka Likes to Spend Money on String and Beads)

We've got another busy one this weekend. I have dance rehearsal. Henry has a birthday part to attend and a soccer game. We're making plans for the rest of the summer. No major travel plans, but some local stuff and a short jaunt to Pittsburgh to visit family in late June.

I'm also planning to work on my crafts a lot, which have been bringing me much joy of late. I'm busily crocheting a hip scarf as a gift for one of my troupemates. And I've also taken up beading. :0 Like I needed another craft, right? I already lacked focus between the mountain of yarn in my storage bins for knitting and crocheting, but hey, that's never stopped me before. I'm multi-craftual, apparently (new phrase: officially coined). I've been making jewelry and actually experimenting with rosaries, which is like a dream come true (AN OFFICIAL FIX FOR MY ROSARY HABIT!!). I'll post more pictures next week, but here are my first two pairs of earrings:

Maple Sugar earrings
Orange Spice earrings. You know how I am about orange...
What are your weekend plans?

Ok everyone, that's all for now! I'll be with you again on Monday. Talk to you then!

Check our more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Lord Rising in Our Lives: Feast of the Ascension 2014

Good morning all! Happy feast of the Ascension to you. I live in a province in which this holy day of obligation is *not* transferred to the following Sunday, and I didn't realize that this was somewhat of a controversial issue. :0 Via the wonders of social media ;) I am now informed. There are only a handful of provinces (New York, Boston, Hartford, Newark, Philadelphia, and Nebraska) that retain this holy day of obligation on its Thursday placement, 40 days after Easter. I know many Catholics who feel slighted because they would like to attend Mass for the holy day on its traditional date. If you live outside of one of the aforementioned provinces, the readings at Mass today would be for Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter.

#Catholicproblems

At any rate, it was in fact an obligation for me to attend Mass today in my diocese, but I see holy days of obligation in such a positive light. I love the opportunity to prioritize morning Mass during the week, I miss attending daily Mass so much. When I was younger, I often attended Mass at noon during the week. I rarely do this anymore, and its because I'm just at a different state in life now. Previously, I was a student in school, or was single and working, and it was easy to carve out time to walk to lunchtime Mass, and there were churches very close to me. Now, to attend Mass at lunch, I have to walk out to my car, which is parked about a 5 minute walk away from the library, that's just the way the parking situation is here on this campus, and then drive to Mass, and the entire shebang is just highly time consuming and inconvenient. Instead, I LOVE morning Mass now, it's such a wonderful way to start the day. That isn't always easy, given that my parish's Mass is at 8 am and if I have something going on at work right at 9 am, I won't make it. But I do what I can.

This morning, I was scheduled to lead a meeting at 9 am, so I was in a bit of a bind. However, I scouted out churches (I take this task very seriously, and am proud of my abilities in this regard :0) and found a parish on my drive into work that had an 8 am Mass. It's close enough to campus that I thought I could make it to the library in time for my meeting if I didn't stop at my office beforehand. I had to leave home about 15 minutes earlier than usual, but obviously, very worth it.

And so it was. Mass was absolutely lovely. During the homily, the priest described the feast of the Ascension as being a time of Christ rising in each of our lives in small ways. We all woke up earlier and carved out time to attend Mass, an evidence of Christ working in our life this very morning. We can do small things like add in even a few additional minutes of prayer to allow the Lord to rise in our life on other days as well. I just loved how he framed this.

After Mass I hurried out to my car, but I needn't have worried. It was 8:45, and I had plenty of time to drive the few minutes to campus and get into the library to open the meeting room. It worked out perfect. Although barely anyone attended the meeting, and I have to be honest and admit that I felt a bit annoyed. I am anal - I sent out a reminder. :0

But anyway, it was a lovely start to the morning. I was thinking as I was sitting in my pew how I felt connected to other Catholics around the world attending Mass for this feast day, and I thought of Cristina, far away in Rome right now, but united to me in spirit via the holy sacrifice of the Mass. And isn't that a beautiful thing?

Ok, so let's chat: is the Ascension a holy day of obligation in your diocese? If it isn't, would you rather it be so? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Catholic Book Club: Vocation in Black and White

Good afternoon all! Today I am happy to be reviewing Vocation in Black and White: Dominican Contemplative Nuns Tell How God Called Them for our May Catholic Book Club selection. I have a huge soft spot for vocations stories, having contemplated a calling to the religious life myself, and I love reading books in this genre. In March, I reviewed Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns for this same reason. I absolutely love reading about people who chose a religious vocation, men and women alike. But I do particularly enjoy reading about women called to a cloistered vocation. I can't completely explain why, because even when I considered the religious life I didn't feel 100% pulled in that direction. I did consider it, but I also considered an active vocation. There is something though, about cloistered nuns that compels all of us, no? It's such a drastic thing, to remove oneself from the world, that we all want to know what drew them to this decision. Fascinating material, to be sure.

And so, going into Vocation in Black and White, I brought my own excitement and fervor for the religious life. I am a person drawn to silence, and a group of women living in prayer, work, and silence is something pleasant to contemplate. And I love personal stories. You all know my penchant for spiritual memoirs. Thus, I started this book very enthusiastic. The book did not, however, grab me quite the way that I had hoped.

It's not that I didn't like this book, because the material was interesting and certainly touching. I very much enjoyed reading the stories therein. It's just that this book is a quick read. It's only 131 pages, yet includes 23 stories, plus Introduction and Glossary, so there isn't a lot of room there. Each of the stories was quite short. The featured women are from several different cloistered Dominican monasteries, which lent some nice variety. Most of the nuns entered back in the 1950's and 60's, and spoke briefly of their family life, their call to religious life, and their decision to answer. All very lovely. It's just that I wanted so much more. :) Detail ladies, give me details!!! Let's explore what you *thought* you wanted for your life, and how God called you and changed everything. What exactly was going through your mind as you discerned, what were the considerations? How did your family react? How did you feel after you arrived at the monastery? Did you ever doubt your decision? What is your day-to-day life like there? How are the Dominican charisms fitting into your vocation? I WANT ALL OF THAT INFORMATION. :0

What we get here are very brief overviews of the foundation of their calling, a nutshell version really. There were a few that started out a bit more detailed and I got all excited. Then WHAM! It ended. :) The author would wrap up unnaturally quickly. It had to be the editing process, I suspect. I didn't really like that, but truly, this is a case of unrealistic expectations on my part. This is a short book, and priced at $3.99 for Kindle download. It gives exactly as advertised: short personal stories written by contemplative Dominican nuns about their calling. I prefer longer, more detailed accounts, and that is simply not what this book aimed to do.

So I would say this: if you enjoy vocations stories, and don't mind shorter ones, you will like this book, and the price is certainly right. I had a lovely glow about me after I finished reading the book, it is always meaningful to read such things. If you are looking for longer, more detailed stories about religious life, you will want to look elsewhere.

Did anybody else read this book? Leave me a comment. :)

Next month, my friends, we are in for a treat, I suspect. Jennifer Fulwiler's Something Other Than God is our June selection, and I am poised to savor. I haven't started the book yet, but I *adore* Jennifer's writing on her blog, and am super excited to read this. Join in, please!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Car rosaries, and reflecting on my happy Catholic community...

Hello all! Very happy to be back with you. I had an absolutely smashing Memorial Day weekend, and as ever, despite my love of routine, it was difficult to come back to work today. But we persevere, no?

As I spent time with Mike and the kids this weekend, I got to thinking other happy thoughts. This is always dangerous, when I think too much. ;-) But I was thinking about how much it means to me that I have not only my parish community, but my Catholic online community whose support is so, so valuable to my day-to-day spiritual life. I have written about this before, shortly after I returned from the 2013 Catholic New Media Conference, wherein I met people whom I had only ever heard on a podcast or "seen" on Twitter. Knowing that all of these people are out there with whom I share such a pivotal common interest, that we can encourage each other via our blogs, Tweets or Facebook posts...this just truly picks me up when I am down. To know that all of these friends are out there, who care about what is going on in my life and I in theirs, who pray for me and make jokes on Twitter to make me laugh...it just means the world to me.

My new car rosary in action...
And so, this is where my new car rosary comes into the story, pictured above. Allison, of Rosaries by Allison fame :) made it for me, as she had many other rosaries that I own or have gifted to others. The car rosary that had been currently residing in my car was looking old in the tooth, and to be frank, was a giant pain in the backside. It never sat right, and anytime I had to add a new parking tag or something to my review mirror the rosary got ticked off and hung all disjointed. Trying to adjust it was a nightmare since the fastener was up at the top, and there is no room up there to either manuever or see what I was doing. So I asked Allison to come to my rescue. Could she make me a new car rosary?

She did, exactly to my specifications. Pink and green please, and long enough so that I can actually see it when my parking tag is hanging up as well. I got to pick the centerpiece, and I chose a Guardian Angel. :)

*heart*

Allison used milky pink pressed glass beads, and a light green pearl for the Our Father. The fastener is down near the centerpiece, so I can ACTUALLY ADJUST THE ROSARY WITHOUT SWEARING. I would say this is a very good quality in a car rosary. :0.

I LOVE it, and every time I look at it, I think about Allison, and wing up a prayer for her. I have never met Allison in real life, but I feel like I know her very well on Twitter and Facebook. And thinking about Allison makes me think about all of the other Catholics that I know on Twitter and Facebook, most of whom I've never met in real life, and who all know each other on there as well (a very happy Catholic circle :)). I hope to meet more of them in coming years at conferences and such, but regardless, even if I never meet them in person, I have a relationship with them that is *meaningful*. They lift me up, and hopefully I do the same for them. I love thinking about that every time I get into my car now. I am part of a much larger community, one that I value immensely and the people therein see little old me as a meaningful contributor. And for that I am so grateful.

If you don't already follow me on Twitter, I'm @CatholicTiffany, and I'd love to meet you on there. :) It's my favorite of the social media sites. I check it every day and interact as much as I am able.

Anybody else find other Catholics on social media? Leave me a comment! And come back tomorrow for the Catholic Book Club. I'll be reviewing Vocation in Black and White: Dominican Contemplative Nuns Tell How God Called Them. See you then!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Church Triumphant: Spotlight on St. Michael

Cristina and I are combining forces for a monthly saints spotlight called "The Church Triumphant," and I couldn't be more excited about this project. :) As ever, these posts will feature information from our faith, but also from our personal life stories. May is traditionally the month of Mary, but this May Cristina is traveling to Rome, and like me, she is an anxious traveler. (is there any other kind?!) So we decided to feature fierce, protective angels this month, to be with her as she goes forth to the the Eternal City. :) Today, Cristina is spotlighting St. Christopher, the patron of travelers, so go check out her post!

As for me, we have St. Michael over here, and he has a lot of significance in my family, as I'll explain below. St. Michael is an archangel, and was the leader in the heavenly battle between the good angels and Satan. He is mentioned in Scripture as being one of the "chief princes," and his name means "He who is like God." For centuries, he has been known as the defender and protector of the Church, and his feast is celebrated on September 29th.

Ok, so how does St. Michael fit into my life? Well, "Michael" has always been a significant name in my life. I actually dated two other Mikes before I found my husband (*gentle snort* third one is a charm!) and my Mike has an interesting relationship with his own name. His dad's middle name is Michael, but yet everyone calls *him* "Mike." Strange, kinda? So people often think that my Mike is a "Jr" which he is not. But anyway, aside from that one snafu, Mike likes his name, and in fact chose. St. Michael as his confirmation saint. Since he does not consider himself an active Catholic as an adult, I have always looked to St. Michael as being on my side to lassoing him back. ;-) Thus, I include St. Michael in my list of intercessors frequently.

Henry too, is fascinated by St. Michael. I mean, look at the picture from the perspective of a young boy. Cool, right?! He HAS A SWORD and is SLAYING AN EVIL CREATURE. This gives him a very high cool quotient. Henry has a small statue of St. Michael in his room that he picked out at a Catholic gift shop, and often picks out St. Michael holy cards to bring home to Mike. Cute!

I absolutely love the St. Michael prayer, and pray it often when I'm feeling in need of special protection:

"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly, pray. And do thou, oh Prince  of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the other evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."

I also pray that prayer at the end of every rosary that I recite. It's powerful, no?

Does anyone have a devotion to St. Christopher or St. Michael? Or another saint you'd like to mention? Leave us a comment!

Just a quick housekeeping announcement: I'm taking a few days off to spend a long weekend with Mike and the kids, so no 7 Quick Takes tomorrow, nor a post on Memorial Day. I will return to you next Tuesday with tales of my weekend antics. :) Have a wonderful start of the summer weekend, everyone!

*Photo from Catholic Online.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Morning conversations with a 3 year old...

I'm eating my breakfast. Anne innocently walks past me in the dining room, lugging one of her small child sized chairs behind her.

"Anne, what are you doing?"

"Nothing!"

Isn't that always the answer?

"But you're still walking, Honey. Why are you taking the chair into the kitchen?"

"Nothing!"

There is only one reason Anne takes a chair anywhere, and it's not to sit on. It's to climb on top of.

She thinks she's being sly, but out of the corner of my eye, I can see her carefully place the chair next to the counter, and then climb up onto it. She paws around on the counter.

Suddenly, she is at my side.

"Mommy, what's this?"

"That's my new phone Honey, and you may not play with it."

"But I want to hold it!!"

See? That's always what children say. They just want to *hold* it. #snort

"No you may not hold it, Sweetie."

*angry noise!*

"Sorry, Honey."

*Anne stalks back into kitchen*

We never had this much drama in the house when Henry was younger...

Monday, May 19, 2014

My baby's 3rd birthday...

My precious little gal turned 3 years old yesterday:

She's kind of tall, isn't she? Mike and I seem to produce these gigantic children. :0 She has on her birthday necklace in this photo, which is an 'A' charm, her birthstone (emerald), and a St. Therese medal (her middle name!).

Anne was SO excited for her party, and awoke from her nap to greet all of her guests at the door. She ran around happily with birthday balloons, and we were able to Skype with my twin nephews, which she LOVED. Then we ate, and busted out the cake:

Anne loved her cake, and is rather a fan of all cake, just like her mother:

She was thrilled to tear into her gifts, which included lots of Dora gear:

This is a Dora guitar. If you guessed that such a noisy gift *wasn't* from her parents, you would be correct :0
...some new jammies, a sit 'n spin, and some Melissa & Doug wooden "paper" dolls:

Soon, the birthday girl was winding down:

But hard to believe, that exactly 3 years prior, our precious little one looked like this:

And now we have this:

I handled it pretty well, I didn't cry once, which I think is pretty darn impressive. Over the weekend, we enjoyed the kids a lot and took them miniature golfing. And that is a nice thing about Anne being a bit older, she can participate more in activities like that. See? I'm trying to focus on the positive.

#hormonal

Happy birthday Anne!!!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 41} Somber edition...

-1-

This is a much more somber edition of 7 Quick Takes for me, and the reason is the little boy I posted about on Wednesday. He died this week. It feels ridiculous to say that I'm taking it very hard, because anything I am feeling pales in comparison to what his parents must be feeling. But there it is. I'm taking it very hard, and I don't even know the family. I think we all grieve when a child dies.

I had heard about his death the night before, but I read the article about it in our local newspaper yesterday morning. That, coupled with two other nearby depressing news stories has me in a bit of a state this week. I feel all emotionally fragile, but sometimes life is just like that, you know? :(

-2-

Everything that has happened has made me appreciate my own little family even more than I already did. I go home and squeeze Anne the instant she comes to greet me:

*30 seconds elapse*

"Mommy, can I get down now?!"

And Henry keeps looking at me strangely as I keep asking him if he's ok:

"Yeah. Sure. Why?!"

I'm making my children paranoid is what I'm doing. They come by it honestly.

-3-

I've been putting some of my melancholy energy to use in worrying about Henry. Worrying is a cardiovascular activity worthy of calorie burn for anxiety-ridden people such as myself. He's growing up, and since he's our first kid, he's the guinea pig. As each new change and age comes around, we don't know what the hell we're doing anew. All of a sudden, he's starting to get all awkward and needs to wear deodorant, and I wonder where the time went when all I had to worry about was whether or not he was going to sleep through the night. He's starting to play soccer now, and I'm all worried that his shyness and not wanting to be at the center of the action is going to translate to him getting teased. I don't ever want my baby to get his feelings hurt, you know? It's so tough with kids. I feel like I've already made so many mistakes, why can't the lessons I've learned also benefit them? But they don't listen. They have to learn those lessons on their own, via making the same mistakes. And it's difficult to watch. This is yet another reason why all new babies should come with an instruction manual:

"Everything You Need to Know About Raising Henry from Newborn Until He Graduates From College," by God.

I really wish He would oblige us on this one.

-4-

Speaking of my young, some sassy toddler is about to turn 3 on Sunday. :0 Yes, that's right, our precious Anne has a birthday this weekend, and I can hardly believe it's been three years since she came into our lives. Dwelling on this is doing nothing for my weepy emotional state, let me tell you.

Her first Christmas *sobs!*
I'm going to be a basket case by the end of the weekend, just in time to blog all about her party on Monday. You've been warned.

-5-

I've been trying to keep up with my reading, and in fact have finished Vocation in Black and White, the selection for this month's Catholic Book Club! I'm excited to be reviewing it for you May 28th, just after Memorial Day. If you're interested in religious vocation stories, check out the book and/or the review. The book is only $3.99 to download for Kindle!

-6-

I've also been doing my usual fiction reading, and am currently reading Breath of Spring, the final book in the Amish series I've spoken about before:

http://www.amazon.com/Breath-Spring-Seasons-Charlotte-Hubbard-ebook/dp/B00G9ABZOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1400246224&sr=1-1&keywords=breath+of+spring
New additions to my Kindle include some more inspirational fiction put out under the Love Inspired Suspense imprint, which I'm always a huge fan of. I just pre-ordered a book called  by Dana Mentink, who has this whole "Stormswept" series that I'm now intrigued by. I read her "Treasure Seekers" series previously and loved it. This is the book I just pre-ordered:

http://www.amazon.com/Force-Nature-Stormswept-Dana-Mentink-ebook/dp/B00DPABFFQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1400183197&sr=1-2&keywords=stormswept+love+inspired+suspense

It comes out July 1st, very excited!

I also downloaded a Love Inspired Suspense with an intriguing plot involving stolen art aboard an Alaskan cruise ship. It is Perilous Waters, by Sandra Orchard:

http://www.amazon.com/Perilous-Waters-Love-Inspired-Suspense-ebook/dp/B00FTQI0DY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1400243727&sr=1-1&keywords=perilous+waters
Can't wait to read it! How I *heart* inspirational romantic suspense.

-7-

Nothing to do with anything else, but my posts are often like that. :0 You may remember that I talked about my real food eating plan change over Lent. My goals were to lose about 6 pounds that I've carried since I weaned Anne, plus improve my cholesterol, which previously had bordered on high for my age and height/weight range. Well, I have an update. :)

I have lost 7 pounds since February, and my most recent blood work results caused my doctor to remove "borderline high cholesterol" from my chart. :0 I'm quite thrilled. My "good" cholesterol went up significantly, bringing my cholesterol ratio down from a 4 (5 and up is considered high) to a 2.5. This real food thing is for real, y'all. :) I'm very, very happy.

Ok everyone, have a wonderful weekend! Check back on Monday for details of my Anne's big birthday bash. And head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Of prayer during tragedy...

Morning all. My heart has been heavy this spring with a local tragedy that I now bring to your attention as well. Little Ben Sauer is a 5 year old twin boy who has terminal brain cancer. The story is absolutely heartbreaking and the past day has been particularly grim. Every time I think about it, I feel like I'm barely holding it together and I don't even know this family! It's just that every parent fears this exact scenario. Your own death? Not pleasant, but we all have to come to terms with it. The death of a close family member or friend, parent or spouse?  Very, very difficult. But the death of a child? Unspeakable. Unthinkable. Unbearable.

It has caused me to think about my relationship with my own kids. Do they drive me absolutely crazy sometimes? Yes, yes they do. :) I'm not really what I would call a *natural* with children. I love children, always have, and I absolutely love and treasure my own. But playing with children and dealing with all of their quirks and needs does not come as second nature to me. I work very hard at it, and oftentimes I fail. But always, always I want to provide for my children emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. I love them and want to do right by them, have them feel nurtured and loved, and raise them to be good, moral and compassionate people.

I'm not always as patient with them as I could be. But I resolve to do better and soldier on. And lately, all I want to do is go home and hold them tight. Let them know how loved they are. Hearing about a tragedy like this has that effect on a lot of people, I suspect.

Would you all please pray for Ben and his family? His mom, Mindy, and his dad, Andy? His twin brother Jack, and their sister Megan? There is also another little sister on the way, due in mid- September.

The Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena with Pray More Novenas starts tomorrow, that's one tool out there for our prayer life. :) Any and all prayers are absolutely coveted and appreciated by this family.

Thank you to everyone. *heart*

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Catholic Nook: May Crowning

Afternoon all! And a lovely day it is. I attended the May Crowning ceremony at Henry's school parish yesterday morning, and a few of my non-Catholic friends have asked me what this is. May is a time of rich sacramental and other liturgical celebrations in the Church, and so I thought the crowning was a lovely addition to our Catholic Nook.

May is traditionally (at least in modern times) a month in honor of Mary for Catholics. We celebrate her role as the mother of Jesus and as our spiritual mother. What Catholic parishes will do as a demonstration of that place of honor is a May Crowning. A statue of Mary is set up in front of the church, or outside. Usually children who recently received their First Holy Communion will process in and present flowers to Mary. One of the children will place a wreath of roses atop her head, and the statue will remain with the flowers for the duration of the month as a reminder of what we are remembering. We consider Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, I attended the May Crowning at the parish affiliated with Henry's school. This was the first May Crowning that I have seen as an adult. I seem to remember my sister Shauna'h participating in a May Crowning as a child, and having the coveted role of placing the flowers atop Mary's head (cute!), but I don't recall whether my class ever did this as part of religious education. At any rate, this is how it went down:

The First Communicants (third graders, in our diocese) processed into the church wearing their First Communion finery. One little girl in Henry's class isn't Catholic and thus did not receive the sacrament, but she had a role in this ceremony just like her classmates, which I thought was wonderful. She led the line of little girls down the aisle bearing small bouquets of flowers, looking very pretty in a cream colored dress that coordinated well with the First Communion dresses. As each twosome got up to the altar, one boy and one girl, they bowed to the Tabernacle and placed their bouquet of flowers near the statue. At the end of the line came a little boy carrying the wreath of roses on a pillow and a little girl who would crown Mary with them. When they reached the altar, the final little girl crowned Mary, and everyone had a seat.

The children from the third grade class each had a role to play aside from the initial procession. Three girls read a poem to Mary, and a handful of children (including Henry! #precious) read the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was a Gospel reading and a short homily. Then some of the children read prayers asking for Mary's intercession, and the entire class sang "Lady of the Roses." Henry does not enjoy singing, and usually complains at home when the class is tasked with a song for some sort of event. But this time we hadn't heard a peep of protest out of him, and I asked him about it later.

"Oh yeah Mommy, I love 'Lady of the Roses.' Did you like the poem too?"

So.Precious. He *liked* the Mary song, and hence sang it with gusto. I was so, so pleased.

I absolutely loved the ceremony, and I love that Henry is participating in these types of rituals as part of his religious education. Has anyone else attended a May Crowning this year? Leave me a comment!

*Image from www.catholicculture.org

Monday, May 12, 2014

An epic day - of kidney stones & dancing in awkward spaces...

This was one for the record books, folks. Thank GOD we hadn't scheduled Henry's First Communion for this past Saturday (we had a choice of 2 dates, and we chose May 3rd instead) although that day was also crazy in it's own way. At any rate, this is what happened Saturday, a day on which we also had planned Mike's final play performance, a dance troupe performance for me at a charity event, and later, the cast party for Mike's theater group, which I was planning to attend with him:

Around 5:45 am, Mike gets out of bed to use the bathroom. He comes back and tells me he's not feeling well. There was lots of tossing and turning involved and eventually he got out of bed to go downstairs so that he wouldn't disturb me. I have to be honest and admit I was a little relieved about this. :0

Pretty soon I can hear a lot of commotion going on downstairs. There was moaning and groaning and all sorts of other unpleasant stuff. Just as I was getting over the fact that I wasn't going to be going back to sleep, I hear Mike call for me pitifully up the stairs:

"Hon, there's something really wrong. I think I have to go to the hospital."

He wanted to try Urgent Care, but they weren't open yet. I called my mother-in-law to come stay with the still sleeping kids (thankfully, they live only a few blocks away) and threw some clothes on. By this point, I nearly had to scrape Mike up off the floor. He was in a LOT of pain. It was in his right side/abdomen, and I was concerned that it was his appendix.

The instant my mother-in-law arrived, we set off for the Emergency Room. He started to feel better on the ride over, but I convinced him to still go in and get checked. This definitely didn't seem like simply some bad indigestion.

Two hours in the Emergency Room later, we had the diagnosis: a kidney stone. Poor Mike.

I was relieved that he didn't need surgery and that it wasn't something more serious. I'm also glad we wound up at the ER rather than Urgent Care (despite the hefty co-pay) because they can do everything right there. Blood work and urinalysis in 45 minutes, CT scan in the next room, results within 30 minutes. Very convenient, and puts your mind at ease quickly. The *registration* process actually took longer than the medical care did.

But we had a dilemma: Based on the stone's current location, the doctor thought it would pass within 24 hours. Mike was scheduled to play a fairly large role in the play in less than 10 hours. I don't even know what the the theater group would do should an emergency arise and one of the actors can't perform. It's not like they have understudies for community theater. So we had to just hope for the best.

Mike guzzled water, hoping to move the stone quickly and/or help it to disintegrate. He seemed fine for the rest of the day, and in fact has had no further sharp pain like he had originally experienced. We think the stone has passed.

So, that was good, an answer to many prayers. He went to the performance, and I just prayed that he wouldn't start feeling poorly during the play itself. Meanwhile, since he was doing ok, I went off to the scheduled troupe performance at the Lebanese charitable dinner.

Oy. :) The troupe performed beautifully, I could see Claire beaming at us. But there weren't really that many people there, which always makes for a more awkward situation. There was plenty of room for our Wings of Isis, which was a plus.


The woman who organized the event was just SO enthusiastic and excited that we were there to dance. But the rest of the crowd?

They were just ok. :) There were a few people there of Middle Eastern descent, as evidenced by a few zaghareets that we heard. But the majority of the crowd wasn't, and they were polite, but you-could-hear-a-pin-drop quiet, as so often American audiences are. So we did our wings number, then Claire danced while we changed costumes. Then the troupe came back out to perform two more numbers, a pop song plus a drum. Then came the "getting the audience up to dance!" part.

Ugh.

Claire had a plan. As soon as our drum music faded, "El Enab" would come on, one of the perkiest Arab language songs you can possibly imagine. We were to improvise and dance out amongst the people, trying to get some faithful souls up to dance with us. If the crowd seemed like a dud, after El Enab finished, Claire would dance over to the sound system and fade out the music. But if things were going well, we had a few other songs that we could continue improvising to.

So. We strike our final pose. El Enab starts up, and I gamely dance out amongst the tables. To dance over by an individual or a small group, we never single out men. That's a no-no in Middle Eastern dance etiquette, although to me, that's common sense anyway. Women and children only, please! Polite passing smiles, fine, but anything else sends the wrong message. I made a beeline for a 3 year old little girl, but generally wound my way around the tables. For most American audiences, this is something they're not sure what to make of. Most, if not all, dance performances they've ever seen have been up on a stage. Middle Eastern dance is inherently improvisational and in the round, with the dancer interacting with the crowd.

Well, many audiences find this somewhat uncomfortable. :) And that was definitely the case Saturday night. You get polite smiles, but people have a definite "deer in the headlights" look about them the whole time. There was no way any of these people were getting up to dance with me. Not that I wanted them to anyway. :0 Aside from the 3 year old. Her, I would have danced with.

Eventually, Claire got the organizer woman to get up and dance, but the other butts stayed firmly in their seats. I was dying for the song to end, and improvising definitely makes music seem like it may never end. When El Enab finished, I was relieved to see Claire dancing over to the sound system to fade us out. I thought we danced awesome, everything went smashingly, but the audience just wasn't right for it to become more interactive.

As we were changing back into our street clothes, there was a knock on our dressing room door. It was the organizer lady.

"You were A.MA.ZING!!!!! Oh my gosh, I loved it so much!"

At least she was happy. :)

After that, I went out to eat with my belly girls, and then waited at home for Mike to call me to attend the cast party. I was a zombie by that time, but it was so, so enjoyable. The director told me that if the actor hadn't come along who was ultimately case in the lead role (who had a lot of theater experience) Mike would have gotten the lead. :0 And that he couldn't believe at the audition that that was Mike's first acting experience ever. He was blown away by his performance, and hopes that he auditions for future plays. I am SO, so proud of my Sweetheart, and can't wait to see him in future productions!

We crawled into bed around 1 am, having been up for nearly 24 hours. It was epic, but we survived. :)

How was everyone else's Mother's Day weekend?

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 40} Spring has sprung edition...

-1- Spring has sprung

The weather is finally turning here in western New York, and the days have been lovely. Our tulips and daffodils have come up, and the air has that sense of moisture in it that speaks of spring and fresh growth. We can walk outside again, and we're loving it. I also love May for all of the Catholic sacrament ceremonies that go on, and this May was really special because of Henry's First Communion. Precious! Anne's birthday is coming up next weekend, and then on to Memorial Day!

On the other hand...this is all making me realize how much quicker time seems to pass as I get older.

#depressing

Mew.

-2- My calf is healed, I can sear more retinas!

But turning back to the happy, lots of fun dance events coming up for my troupe. I'm pleased to report that I rested my sore calf all week after it got quite a workout at our spring hafla, and it's feeling just about back to normal. I'm really very thrilled about this, because: Tiffany Can't Dance = Very Grouchy Catholic Librarian. We have rehearsal tonight, and then tomorrow evening we're dancing at a dinner to benefit a local Lebanese cultural association. Claire messaged us on Facebook that the organizers are very excited about us performing, and have given us an impressive allotment of time. Not surprising I suppose, given the audience. They want this to be very interactive and for us to go out into the audience and get people up to dance. Um...

I don't know how good I'll be at this. :0 You see, I don't even like to *talk* to people I don't know, let alone dance with them. This should be interesting. Reporting in on Monday!

-3- Pastel cotton blends, here I come...

Now that the weather is officially warming up, I have turned my attention to summer knitting. I'm currently knitting a seafoam pattern shrug for myself in a self-striping southwest colorway, and it's quite lovely. I'm moving on to a cotton hip scarf for a troupemate's graduation gift next (pink and orange, is there any color combination more fabulous?), and I have a sleeveless shell planned as well. It's sublime. I love the airy patterns, soft cottons, and pretty light colors of summer knitting. I'm just such a seasonally oriented person.

*happy*

-4- A new craft that I can obsess over and fastidiously plot supply purchases for...

And so, lately I have found myself pulled to learn something new in terms of crafts. Interestingly, I found a pattern for a crocheted rosary using real beads. In the past, I've seen patterns for crocheted rosaries with all of the elements crocheted, if that makes any sense. I really wanted to make a rosary with beads, but I have no idea how to work with wire. And so I found this pattern which was much more of what I was looking for. I purchased the pattern and within hours had ordered beads. :0 Looking at the pattern, I can see how this works now. It calls for DK weight yarn, which I'm not planning to use, I want to use crochet thread, so we'll see how this turns out (read: could be a disaster). But I'm going to experiment with making some rosaries for my nephews using this method.

Also, being on the bead store website got me to thinking about how I'd like to learn how to make an actual wire wrapped rosary and to how to make my own jewelery. I'm always looking for jewelery in wacky color combinations to go with my very bright dance costumes, and this would be the perfect solution. Sooooo... I ordered some supplies to experiment with that as well. :0 I'll keep you apprised of my progress on this adventure.

-5- Mother's Day *scrunchy face*

 This Sunday is Mother's Day, as I'm sure you're all aware. And to be honest, I don't really love Mother's Day in its current manifestation. It feels a bit like a "Hallmark holiday" to me, a bit, you know...manufactured. We should show appreciation to our mothers regularly and for other more natural occasions, in my opinion. And Mother's Day since I became a mother hasn't exactly been a day of rest and relaxation for me. The first year, when Henry was a baby, I broke down and sobbed in a restaurant, that wasn't awkward or anything. :-0 Henry was about 6 months old and the sleep deprivation just caught up with me at a really inopportune time. Since then, it has been a rushed and harried day as we hurry to and fro to visit each of our mothers and my grandmother, since all live locally. That's a wonderful thing, but it makes for a very LONG Mother's Day. I'm thinking lots of mimosas will be consumed at Sunday brunch, no?

-6- I love my Amish fiction, but...

I've been reading a four book series about an Amish community set around the seasons that I'm absolutely loving. But one pet peeve that I have as a reader keeps coming to the surface: the use of colloquialisms in speech written phonetically to denote a character's accent. I'm not saying I always find it unworkable, I understand what the author is trying to do, but more often than not I find it incredibly distracting. And in this Amish series, the characters keep using the word "perty" instead of "pretty." I don't know exactly why, but this particular instance makes me want to crawl out of my own skin every time they say it, which for whatever reason is A LOT.

"That sunshine sure looks perty this morning, ain't so?"

"How about you go outside with me, perty girl?"

"Lookin' mighty perty this morning, Sarah!"

*collapses*

I otherwise LOVE these books, but this is making me flare my nostrils every time I see the word. Which is, again A LOT. Have I mentioned that? They say "perty" A LOT.

#sigh

-7- Book club book switch, is anyone surprised?

I get in over my head a lot, sigh. Ok, so my sense is that my readers use my Catholic Book Club as a way to learn about new books via my reviews, which is great. I haven't gotten the notion that others are reading the books along with me, although I would love it if you did! But at any rate, I'm using this as a justification to switch the book for May at the last minute, because I simply know that I'm not going to get to read it this month. I haven't had as much time to read lately, and I always have a fiction title going. Then I need to fit in the spiritual reading for the book club, which is fine. But I promised my friend Irena that I would read Vocation in Black and White: Dominican Contemplative Nuns Tell How God Called Them along with her, which is to say NOW, plus I have a spiritual memoir to read and review for Image Books, so... The book club book for May 26th is now Vocation in Black and White. :0 If you enjoy vocations stories, you will love this one, and it's a mere $3.99 for Kindle! I do get lots of nice feedback on my book reviews, and that seems to be how people use those posts, so I truly hope no one is inconvenienced by the switch. I do so appreciate when readers comment on how my reviews helped them to select new reading material, this makes my day!

Ok everyone, that's it for this week! And what a lovely one it was. Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes! See you all on Monday. :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A foray into community theater

Afternoon all! A pleasant week this has been, to be sure. In my recounting of our crazy busy weekend, today is the day devoted to my sweetie and his first venture into acting and community theater. Do you have your tea? I'm off to get hot water, one sec...

Ok. I'm happy now. :) So, my Mike. About 6 weeks ago, he told me that he was interested in auditioning for a play with one of the local theater groups. At first, I was surprised, because he had never previously expressed an interest in acting, But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Mike is a teacher, he enjoys being up in front of a group of people and trying to convey new concepts in an understandable and interesting way. Acting is truly a natural fit for someone who thrives in such a professional environment.

So he went to the audition. The company was going to be performing "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and as soon as Mike came back from that first audition, I could tell that he was hooked. He had had a great time, and hit it off with the director right away, who had asked him to read a number of the male parts, including the lead. Ultimately, he ended up getting cast in the part of Billy Bibbit, a vulnerable and suicidal mental patient.

The rehearsal schedule was pretty intense and daunting, but we planned it out and managed it. Each time he came back, I could see his confidence and satisfaction growing. We all need a creative outlet of some kind, and it will be different for each person. I have my knitting/crocheting and dancing. Mike likes to write, but dedicating the time to that hasn't been easy for him with his schedule teaching and being home with the kids. The automatic time set aside for play rehearsals made this almost easier for us to deal with, since we could adequately plan for it, and it worked out very well. He was doing something creative that he liked and was good at, and that is such an important thing to a person's happiness and contentment.

Last Friday was the opening night, and we had those crazy two days Friday and Saturday with the First Communion and then my hafla. Thus, I attended the Sunday matinee. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, because although I've been to many ballets and some musicals, my exposure to the theater is fairly limited. Well.

I *loved* it. Whenever I venture out into the arts, particularly one that I am not as familiar with, I am SO glad that I did it. A pleasant way to pass some time, sure, but I always learn something new and feel enriched. In this particular instance, with my husband playing a role, the atmosphere was much more heightened. I felt just...overcome with joy, seeing him up there in his element. :) It was like I was seeing my husband of almost 10 years in a whole new light, bringing to the surface his best qualities and why I love him so much.

By the time the play was over, let's just say I wanted to take my husband home and lock him in a room with me for a few hours. ;-) I was SO proud of him, so proud to be his wife, and I felt like I had fallen in love with him all over again. Mike is a creative and sensitive soul, it's one of the things that drew me to him. This venture really reminded me of how well he juggles his responsibilities as a husband and father with his outside interests and that he does so in such a sweet manner. He's really a treasure.

At the end of this crazy weekend, I'm feeling just so grateful for my family. And I'm really hoping Mike pursues some of the productions the group is going to be doing in the upcoming fall and winter. I'll keep you posted. :)

How is everyone else's Wednesday coming along? It's a beautiful spring day here finally, huzzah!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Henry's 1st Communion - Sublime, but if only the child could smile for a photograph...

This is what we're dealing with here, people:

One would think his next stop was a hard labor camp where he would be forced to scrub toilets and eat nothing but green vegetables for the next decade. He was truly happy about receiving the Eucharist, but the photos? Oy. Smiling is not his strong point.

But at any rate, Henry was genuinely excited about the Mass, and I have been waiting for this moment since he was born. SO exciting!

Anne was a bit challenging Saturday morning, so I was praying she wasn't going to have to be dragged out of the church in disgrace:

"Anne, want to wear a pretty dress for church?"

"NO!"

"All right, you can wear pants and a shirt."

"NO!"

"Well you can't go naked."

*sobbing!*

That was a little dicey. But we all readied and got to the church in time for the group photo, the children placing their hands in the prayer position like little cherubs. When Mass started, they all processed in like that, and you could die from the preciousness. Henry was nervous about reading his part in the Prayers of the Faithful, but he did a great job.

The priest called the children up to the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which I'm not necessarily a big fan of, but I appreciate that their intentions (meaning the pastor and the coordinator of religious ed.) are that the children get to see exactly what is happening to tie into what they have learned about the Eucharist being the actual Body and Blood of Christ. I did love that that was the emphasis.

When it was time to receive communion, each child was called up individually and parents could go up to receive with him or her. Mike and I went up with Henry. I received while Mike was there to lend support, and it was a cute family moment. Henry looked confused by the consistency of the Host, but he seemed to enjoy the process nonetheless. :)

After Mass, we forced him into a few photographs:

...while we had a fabulous time having our guests back at our house for some food and drinks. Our parents, my grandmother, and Henry's Godfather and his family were able to come, and it was lovely.

The next day, Henry was excited to go to Mass and receive again. This time, under my tutelage he received both the Host and the Precious Blood, which was a huge novelty to him. He also did much better using his missal, more easily flipping between the day's readings and prayers and the Order of Mass, now that he learned so much more about the liturgy via his First Communion preparation. Super cute.

So, that was Henry's big day. Did anyone else attend a First Communion last Saturday or have one coming up this Saturday? Leave me a comment!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bellydance Monday: Calf injuries & burning retinas, a fun time was had by all

Morning everyone! I wanted to blog about Henry's First Communion today, but in the frenzy that was this weekend, the pictures haven't gotten uploaded yet. So here's how the week of posting will go:

Today - Bellydance Monday :)
Tomorrow - First Communion Tuesday
Wednesday - All about community theater and how FREAKING ADORABLE my husband is.
Thursday - No clue
Friday - 7 Quick Takes

So there you have it. A list! How I love lists.

Ok, so the hafla. Gosh, I love dance. I'm so, so grateful to have rediscovered this love in my adulthood. This hafla was really nice because there was Egyptian dance, Indian Bollywood dance, and Spanish Flamenco, all in one show. Outstanding.

Our troupe wing number was first, and this particular number really stresses me out. :0 There are drop ceilings in the studio, and with the addition of an audience taking up space, using wings of Isis is just dicey. It went fine, but at one point, the tip of my right wing collided with someone else's and fell out of my grasp. No biggie, but trying to beam at the crowd while fumbling for my wing again wasn't exactly what I wanted to be doing at that particular moment. I recovered well.

Then I changed into my fantastic bright orange set and awaited my solo. In the interim, the other belly dance classes danced, and one of the Flamenco classes. Then I was up, and I was hoping my sore calf muscle would cooperate.

The orange costume in all its glory - leaving sore eyeballs in its wake...
 I'm pleased to report that everything went super well. :) Although it let me know of its impending unhappiness about halfway thorough, my calf was fine. I just made a concerted effort not to jump or put all of my weight on that leg unless absolutely necessary. My number was what I call "loosely choreographed" in that I had whole choreographed segments, but others where I improvised, and still others where I started doing something different than what I had choreographed and just went with it, because seriously, who cares? :) The whole point is to get into it and joyfully/confidently interpret the music, that's what the audience will remember and appreciate. In the moment, I remember thinking to myself "Oh, why am I doing a shimmy here? Ah, doesn't matter." :0 Which is a good feeling, truly.

The tables are set up for these shows in the round, and now that I can improvise, I make a real effort to move around the room and not always just face forward. I've also been working on my performance skills, if you will, meaning to connect with the audience more. No easy feat for an introvert, I'm sure you know. Well, I had a highlight on Saturday night. I had been over to the left side of the room a few times and noticed a little boy sitting there, around 4 or 5 years old. There was also a little girl over on that side, in the 8 year old range, and she had the stoniest face this side of The Exorcist. I have *never* seen a more unhappy audience member. Let's just say I didn't visit her a second time. :0 But that little boy captured my heart. He was so cute and attentive, and so I danced over to him again before I finished the song. When I caught his eye, I smiled at him as I danced. He lit up like candle, waved to me, and whispered "HI!" I saw an immediate reaction amongst the other nearby audience members, who exclaimed happily at the exchange. I also had lots of smiling faces in the front and back of the room, which I knew meant that I was projecting my own happiness through my eyes and smile. THAT made my night. My favorite performance to date.

After that, I watched the Bollywood dancers and Claire's solo ("Who is that little girl on the side?! She was glaring at me the whole time I danced?!?!") and then it was intermission. Can I just say that I got LOTS of accolades for my crocheted modesty panel. :) All of my troupemates want me to make them one too for their costumes. :0 I'm going to JoAnn's for more crystals this afternoon. Niche side business coming soon! I can see it now:

Modest Bellydance Wear: Just a Crocheted Rectangle Away...

In the second half, I enjoyed performances by my troupemate Mackenzie (who is a stunning dancer), and another Bollywood and Flamenco number. Then our troupe had a final number, a combo pop song and drum. I was fretting over the blue top I was wearing the entire time, and so you know where this is going. Yes, the turquoise crocheted rectangle is already underway. :)

I had a smashing time. I received some lovely positive feedback on my solo, and I felt all beamy when I left. Life is good. The only drawback is that by time I got home, my calf was so sore I could hardly walk, but I feel like this sacrifice was well worth it. :0

Ok, Henry adorableness tomorrow. Until then everybody! Thanks for checking in with me. :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 39} Crazy weekend, Catholic treasures, dancing in bright orange costumes & new rosary! edition


-1- It is against the law of Type A personalities to have this many things scheduled on the same day!

It's a miracle that I'm not currently a heap of twitching flesh right now. Tonight, Mike's play that he's been rehearsing for for weeks with a local theater company is opening at 7 pm. Rehearsal for Henry's First Communion is scheduled for 6:45 pm, and I'm supposed to be at my final troupe rehearsal prior to the hafla tomorrow, also at 7 pm. Tomorrow, in the morning, we have Henry's First Communion Mass at 11 am, lovely party to follow back at our house, then Mike's play in the evening at 7 pm as well as my hafla at 6pm.

*collapses*

I think I'm handling this introverts nightmare remarkably well. ;-) Tonight, my mother-in-law is coming to put Anne to bed while Mike leaves for his play and I take Henry to his rehearsal. As soon as we're done, I'm dropping Henry at home with my mother-in-law to hurry and catch whatever I can of my troupe rehearsal. Tomorrow, we'll have all of the happy First Communion stuff in the morning as a family, then in the evening my in-laws are taking the kids to dinner while Mike goes to the play and I perform at the hafla. I'm going to watch Mike perform at the Sunday matinee, when my mom is coming to watch the kids and possibly take Henry to his soccer game should it not get rained out (please God, let the rain fall).

GOOD.HEAVENS. It's all wonderful stuff, but couldn't at least 1 of these things have been on a different weekend?!

-2- Henry's Catholic preciousness...

But speaking of Henry, oh my gosh, the adorable factor is just through the roof. He eagerly packed up his rosary this morning because they're praying a decade at school each day for the month of May, and he's been dutifully practicing his reading for tomorrow's Mass. His task is: Prayers of the Faithful #3. :0 He also came home from school yesterday with a short litany that he was chosen to read at the May Crowning ceremony just over a week from now. He's nervous about reading it in front of the whole school. :0

So.seriously.cute.

Mike is really excited that Henry got a part in the May Crowning and wants to attend, pleasing his Catholic wife so greatly. :) 

-3- My darling is just the cutest man in the universe...

And Mike, oh my goodness. He's in this play this weekend, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." He's really thrived in the rehearsals, finding that he loves acting, and I know how important it is to have a creative outlet that you find meaningful. It makes everything else in your life brighter.

So for his part, he's playing a character that is somewhat younger than he is, and the director asked him to shave his sideburns off, since whatever silver hair he is currently sporting seems to be collected all in there. In the nearly 12 years that I've known Mike, he has *always* had sideburns, I've never seen him without them! But when I come home tonight, they'll be off for the week. :0 My husband is absolutely *adorable* and I can't wait to see him in character. *heart*

-4- Bead & sequin alert

So, I practiced in my costumes again for the hafla and I'm as ready as I'll ever be. My drum is feeling good. It's mostly choreographed, but I have segments in there of smoother music that I'm just going to improvise to. I like to improvise when I dance, it actually makes me relax more, which sounds counter intuitive for someone who usually wields a firm hand of control on things, but it's true. I'm also going to improvise my arms a lot, so that they'll be more fluid, which looks a lot better than a series of static arms (I know this based on experience :0). My right calf muscle is much improved, so I'm hoping that I can jump on it to my heart's content tomorrow evening. There will be a post on Monday with updates as to how everything went. *beams*

-5- The value of community

I've been thinking a lot lately about how grateful I am for the Catholic community that I am a part of online. From the SQPN podcasts that I listen to, to Twitter and Facebook, to this blog, I feel part of something larger, and something very, very meaningful. Exciting canonization ceremonies in Rome? I listen to and watch Fr. Roderick report in live (and I've met him in real life!). I chat with my friends on Twitter about it. I can blog about it and see how many people read my post and comment on it. I read your blog posts and get your thoughts on it. It's just so, so wonderful.

Last night, Cristina and I were texting about something, and having a good laugh, and I thought to myself how special it is to have found a friendship that I treasure so much, and yet we live hundreds of miles away from each other. But that doesn't make the interaction any less fulfilling. I'm very grateful to be part of a generation in which this type of communication with others of shared interests worldwide is possible. Which leads us to...

-6- "Mommy! ARE YOU THERE?!"

...it's so nice to know you'll have emotional support come morning when this is what you hear at 3:30 am. :0 Poor Anne has been sick with some sort of stomach virus, and has been at less than 100% capacity as a result. She's also at a developmental age in which she's acquiring fears of things that she didn't have before. Spider webs and loud noises have made themselves manifest of late.

I hurried to her room. I could tell she wasn't just going to go back to sleep. She was upset about something.

"Hi Honey, Mommy's here."

"My sock fell on the floor!!!"

This was obviously of paramount concern to her, but I think not feeling good and being worried about an insect getting into her room (which she had talked about all evening) had caused her to just need an extra security snuggle. I was happy to oblige.

But by time I got to bed it was nearly 4 am, and Anne was fine, falling asleep in her own bed, but do you think *I* could get back to sleep? Of course not, because that's some sort of rule for sleep deprived parents. I fell asleep close to 6 am, only to need to wake at 6:30 in order to get ready for work.

*sighs*

-7- It IS the month of Mary, after all *rosary purchase justification*

However, in exciting news, I received a new rosary in the mail yesterday, and this always heralds lots of happiness:


Isn't it gorgeous?! Yes, I know. You're thinking: "Tiffany, don't you already own about 2 dozen rosaries? Aren't your children going to be scandalized someday when you leave this earth and they have to figure out what to do with enough rosaries to outfit an entire town?!" Well. I'm just not worrying about that right now. ;-)

This lovely addition was custom crafted by the talented Allison Kinyon. I really wanted a St. Kateri rosary, and I chose the colors for a Native type of feel and voila! I LOVE it. I tracked it obsessively all the way across the country as it made it's way to me. :0 I prayed with it this morning, and I simply adore it. The beads are gorgeous and feel so nice in the hand. If you haven't seen Allison's Etsy store before, definitely have a look. Her rosaries are just gorgeous, and she will custom create whatever color palate you desire. She currently has a Pope Francis rosary listed that is to die for. Go shop. :)

All right everyone, I'm off to eat lunch. Check back in with me on Monday! And head over to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Of thwarting costume malfunctions and crocheted modesty panels...

...because that's just how things roll over at my house. :) Shorter post today (because work has been overwhelming) but I wanted to touch base and frankly, relax for a few minutes.

Our crazy Saturday is coming up (more details in 7 Quick Takes tomorrow) and one of those things is my spring hafla. I've been practicing my little heart out on my solo, and so the big reveal is that I decided to choreograph a drum piece, tacking on a flowy 30 second entrance before the drum begins. So, I ended combining two of those types of music I mentioned when I asked for everyone's advice on what music I should select. :)

It's gone pretty well, but I've been dealing with a sore calf muscle again, which had me worried over the weekend. I've been trying to rest it a bit and not dance on it as much as possible until a few days before the show. The other thing I was fretting over was my costume. I'm going to be using my troupe bra and belt set not only for troupe numbers, but for my solo as well just with a different skirt and matching gauntlet gloves (HELLO NEON ORANGE!!) so I *really* need it to fit me correctly. And as I mentioned the other day, the belt was giving me a difficult time staying up. My mother-in-law altered it for me, so I was anxious to practice in it, with both skirts, and put it through its paces to assure the fit was good.

I got the kids in bed last night and went to town. I tried the orange skirt first and slipped the belt over it. The fit is now *perfect* (God bless my mother-in-law, who has sewed snaps on this thing no less than 4 times). I shimmied around, and did my solo in it, and the belt now sits at a perfect spot and doesn't slip down. Slam dunk.

The top however...She tightened it at the neck as I had requested, and the fit is much better, but...something still felt off, Far too much movement at that level for my comfort. As I danced, I kept looking down to assure that I wasn't flashing my neighbors.

It was official. I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE! WHY, dear God, WHY do these costume designers not make costumes that actually FIT a a MOVING BODY!! It's just absurd, there's zero give or contour to these things. I man-handled it a bit, looking for ways that I could get it lie more fitted to my body, but I started to despair. I cannot get into my drum solo (my *very favorite* type of dancing) while worrying that my costume may make it an entirely unintended type of show, kwim?!

So I came up with an idea. I could sew some fabric into the middle of the top, a modesty panel of sorts, to keep things more contained. And I create knitted and crocheted fabric, so did I have any bright pink yarn? Why yes I did!!! Away I went.

Next thing you knew, I had a crocheted rectangle. I sewed a crystal onto the front of it, and tacked the entire shebang into the cleavage area of my top. Can I just say, it looks kind of awesome. :0 I wish I had taken a picture. When Mike got home from play rehearsal, I showed it to him, and he didn't even understand what I had done because he thought the entire top looked like it came that way.

*gold star!*

It's SO MUCH BETTER! It's just a small thing, but it makes the top so much more practical and less scary. I'm thrilled. I'm going to test it out more tonight, but I'm feeling very hopeful. And my drum solo is looking kicky and cute. :)

More news tomorrow, when I'm hopefully not having a nervous breakdown over the weekend that we have scheduled. 

#hopespringseternal

;-)