Monday, August 31, 2015

It's the first day of class - I'm comforting myself by frantically knitting :0

"Happy" Monday, everybody! ;-) Actually, it really isn't a bad day. But it's pretty jam packed, and it's the first day of classes here at the university, so things are all crazy-like. I had my first day of teaching already, I'll talk about that in Tea Time this week. Mike started teaching for the fall semester today as well, and he has six classes to wrangle. So we're easing into the fall before the kids start school next week:

"But I *don't want* to go to school, Mommy!"

Should be fun, yes? :0 I have lots of clothes to buy this week for growing bodies, and school supplies to assemble into either plain blue or Frozen-inspired Elsa and Anna backpacks. We'll get there.

Mike has an 8 am class to teach three days a week, and he can get Henry to school each day, but I'll be delivering Anne to her pre-K. It's all going to be a much more intense morning routine for all of us. And you know, change. Change is hard.

But we'll get used to it. In the meantime, I've been knitting to wile away at my anxiety. I'm on a Christmas Gift List Quest, and am determined to have a good dent in things prior to Halloween. We don't panic around here until after we get past Thanksgiving, but that's a story for another day. ;-) I finished a gift shawl over the weekend:

Pattern is: Color Affection
The colors were chosen by my sister, and I have to say, I really like them together! We'll call it "grellow." :) I also started a pair of mittens for myself, and they're somewhat untraditional:

Pattern is: Fold Down Fingerless Mitts, and it's free!
OK, so there's the colors, right? The yarn is hand dyed by a friend of mine, and I'm afraid of running out, so I used a coordinating gray for the thumb. They match a hat I already knitted up:

Pattern is: Amanda Hat, and is also free!
But do you notice anything else about the mittens? Anything...unusual?

"Are those mittens supposed to not close at the top?"

Mike, ever observant, ever adorable. ;-)

Yep, they're designed to not close at the top. I don't know about you, but I rarely wear mittens (despite the fact that I live in a snowy, very wintry climate, and mittens are warmer) because I exhaust myself taking them on and off, on and off. When I have to drive. When I have to pick something up. When I have to switch podcasts on my phone. When I have to do anything. But with these guys, ta DA!


They *fold down* so that you can access your fingers real easily. They're much longer than fingerless mitts usually are, so they fully cover your fingers when you just want warmth. But I love how easily they fold down when you need to drive or answer a text message. Sublime!

As you can see, I finished mitt #1, and so am hard at work on #2. I'm hoping to finish tonight. I've been a super busy, crafty bee, and have been loving the distraction.

I've also been busy reading the book club book, Near Occasions, so look for a Catholic Book Club post on Wednesday!

How was your weekend, dear reader? Working on any crafts or other fall projects? Do write in and tell me all about it. :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

In fall planning mode, and new saint dolls!

Hello all, and happy Friday! It seems like I talk about saint dolls a lot on here, doesn't it? One would think that I have a bit of an obsession with them or something. ;-) I do love saint dolls, both for myself and my kids. I always order them early, well before Christmas and the feast of St. Nicholas, since they are handmade and take time to paint and ship. This year's round one features the following...

*drum roll*

Aren't they precious?! On the left is a rose rosary box for Anne, so not a saint doll, but it's beautiful, yes? It's what she asked for. In the center is St. Kateri, and yes, she is for me. :) She is currently residing beside Our Lady Star of the Sea on my desk, and both of them seem very happy to have company, and to have made the others' acquaintance:


She is just perfect for me, I think. And of course, on the right is St. Nicholas, and he will be gifted to Henry. I'd like to get Anne the wood nativity set from this shop, but it's $$$ :) and I'm waiting to see if there will be a fall coupon code coming up. Well worth the money, for sure, but any little savings helps. Especially since there are roofing guys currently at our house. :-\ I'm grateful we were able to get this done before the weather turns, and the house really needs it, but holy budget blaster, right there.

All right, so happy saint doll order is in. I was off yesterday with Mike and the kids at a local amusement park, and during the inevitable line waiting I was doing some thinking about fall planning for work and this blog. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I thought I'd point out that I, you know, bravely went to an amusement park. ;-) I used to love amusement park rides back in my youth. I was fearless about riding roller coasters. Now? I am a total WET BLANKET at amusement parks. :0 Rides either terrify me or make me feel pukey, but I soldier on, because my kids love them, and it's not fair for me to pass off my fear to them. They should be able to go and enjoy, and they do. I do still love a few rides, like the Scrambler, Tilt a Whirl, and Sleighride, which I know doesn't make a lot of sense, because many people get nauseous on those rides and cannot go on them. Every time we're there, someone throws up on the Tilt a Whirl and it has to be closed for maintenance.  :0 But it's never me, because I LOVE that ride. Swirling within spinning is just a total thrill for me; I love the sensation and I don't feel fearful or nauseous at all. Go figure, right? So I went on those with the kids, plus the little hot air balloons with Anne, and otherwise sat around letting them go on what they wanted. Mike rode the roller coasters with Henry, as he still enjoys those, and thank God for that so that I didn't have to sacrifice myself. ;-)

So anyway, back to the original topic. Fall plans. The semester starts up here at the university on Monday, though my kids don't start school until the day after Labor Day. What's in store?

Well, I did (aside from a concluding paragraph) complete the short article on Catholic fiction that I was fixing to write. I need to send the abstract in to the editor, and then edit and ready the manuscript, because (hopefully!) she's going to want to see it. So that summer work goal was met, thankfully.

I start teaching and all that jazz on Monday. I'll probably have a video post dedicated to that topic coming up in a few weeks. I'll be busier, for sure. Which got me to thinking about blog plans for the fall...

And so, yes, I have plans! :) I think what I'd like to do is have a 3 post per week plan. Monday or Tuesday, a longer, amusing, family/life post. Wednesday or Thursday will be a Tea Time video post. Fridays will be for lifey posts too, perhaps a bit shorter than the Monday post. I could also write about Catholic topics on Fridays, maybe some Catholic Nook posts when inspiration strikes, or Advent-related goodness as we approach that liturgical season. I'll still do 7 Quick Takes sometimes, but not every week. I do like those posts, but not all the time. We're free floating spontaneity and inspiration over here at Life of a Catholic Librarian. ;-) I'll obviously pop Catholic Book Club posts up on Wednesdays when those dates come around. And stay tuned for podcast news, because I'm hopeful that something will be ready this fall!

What do you all think? What are your favorite type of posts that I write? How would you like to see me structure a posting schedule? All very loosey goosey, mind you, nothing has to be etched in stone around here. But it's nice to have a general expectation, I think, for both you and me, of what will come each week. I'd really love for you to chime in on this, have at it in the comments!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tea Time with Tiffany #13 - Fitness routines & their benefit to our overall wellbeing...

Good morning all! After feeling rather poorly earlier in the week, I'm feeling somewhat perked this morning, just in time for another installment of:


This week, on my heart is the fact that during difficult stretches, spiritually and emotionally, physical exercise is good for both the body and soul. I've been fostering a new routine in terms of my physical activity, and wanted to share that with you. I also wanted to solicit ideas from all of you, so let's get started!


Items mentioned in this episode:
  • The Barre3 program (yoga, Pilates, ballet barre workout), and their online component for those without local studios (like me!). I love it!
  • Barre3 free online 15 day trial.
  • Walking. No link for this, it's just a casual part of my overall fitness routine. :) While I listen to music or podcasts of course!
  • Coming in late September - the feast of Our Lady Star of the Sea, who helps us navigate these challenging times in life! I mentioned 9/25 as the feast in the video, but now I'm not certain that that is correct. The British Apostleship of the Sea mentions it as being September 27th, so maybe we'll go with that. :) 
So, dear reader, does physical exercise help brighten your mood? What is your fitness routine? Everything, including simply taking the stairs at work, or parking farther away from buildings to get a small walk in, counts! I would love to hear about what you incorporate into your daily tasks. :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Are we THERE YET?!" Fun family adventures in the car...

Hi all. I'm going to be up front and admit that I am far too exhausted to even begin finding an image to go with this post. It's just that kind of stretch for me right now. ;-) And the weekend, well...it had its pluses and minuses. I'm trying to look on the bright side of the minuses. So why not settle in with your tea, yes? I need to go brew mine, one sec...

That's better. :) Oh, and look, I worked up some Canva energy:


OK, so Saturday. I haven't even started writing the details yet, and I already heaved a long suffering sigh. It was like this: Mike and I decided to surprise the kids and get us all tickets to Medieval Times. Super, duper fun, right? I've never been there before, though Mike has been to the location in Orlando. We don't have a local one, but there is one in Toronto, which is about an hour and a half drive for us. The tickets were discounted for the end of the summer, and we figured PERFECT! We bought the tickets, loaded the kids up in the car, and off we went.

I think that this is a lesson in when when things seem too good to be true, and all that? Yep, that. :0 We headed to the Canadian border. Only a small wait, no problem. We drove north. Also, no problem. An hour later, we are on the outskirts of Toronto and here is where things turn ominous. There is a LOT of traffic coming from the other direction. Glad that's not us!!!

#epicfail

As we exit the Queen Elizabeth Way, we become ensnared in a traffic jam. No sweat. This is The Big City, traffic is normal, and we left nearly two hours of buffer time before the show started at 4:30. We knew that this particular location of Medieval Times had no parking lot, so we were at the mercy of public or street parking, and we built in plenty of time.

We missed the street we were looking for, so we had to press on until we could turn back, inching along all the while. By this point, I really need to use the restroom, but didn't want to say anything, because I figured we were almost there. Right?

Let me make a long story short: It took us over an hour from that point to even approach Medieval Times due to the traffic, and parking? Nonexistent. And do you want to know why? The Canadian National Exhibition. In Toronto. Which we hadn't realized prior to that moment. :-\ Cars EVERYWHERE. It was taking us twenty minutes to move less than a mile. No wonder the tickets were discounted.

And when I say that parking was nonexistent, I'm not using hyperbole. There were public lots charging an exorbitant amount to park there. We were willing to pay it. And they were FULL. Street parking? I won't even bother snorting out loud, the idea is so preposterous. There was nothing.

At first, we had held out hope for a lot, and so navigated somewhat away from Medieval Times in our quest. By the time we realized the dire nature of our situation, it was far too late to salvage our tickets. Mike couldn't even drop us off at that point and lose just his ticket sitting in traffic. The kids and I couldn't even walk to the place from our current trapped location, and the show was starting. So after our hour and a half drive, we spent two additional hours in traffic. All to no avail. Right in the heart of the city, the snarl was so bad that we were moving millimeters at a time. We were imprisoned in traffic, and made the difficult decision to abandon hope of getting to Medieval Times.

Crankiness abounded in the car as we finally were able to get back on the highway. The kids were disappointed. My bladder was about to burst. And we still had an hour and a half drive home. Good times.

"Do you want to stop for dinner somewhere?"

Mike was trying to cheer me up.

"I want to go to Swiss Chalet."

The kids weren't the only ones who were cranky. :0 And at that point, Swiss Chalet was the only thing that could make me happy.

I'm certain Canadians probably wonder why I have such a love affair with a casual chicken and ribs restaurant, but there you have it. It's a Canadian based chain, but we used to have a few in WNY when I was growing up. I LOVE their food. But the American locations all closed some years ago, and so the only way to get my Swiss Chalet fix is to cross the border. Which does seem a bit extreme for a simple quarter chicken dinner, I will grant. But want to know the secret? Their Chalet Sauce. That stuff is like an addictive controlled substance to me. And it's hard to describe. It's thick, like barbecue sauce, but it tastes different from any other sauce I've ever consumed.

*swoons*

We found a Swiss Chalet sign off the next exit and exited. We were soon ensconced at a table, me ordering my chicken dinner with delight. Usually, when french fries are an option with a meal, I choose something else. Trying to eat healthy, and all of that. But I am a firm believer in balance, and sometimes you should allow yourself to eat the food (even if it isn't the healthiest option in the world) that you enjoy. At Swiss Chalet, I always order the fries, because then you can dip them in the Chalet Sauce.

#boom

We let the kids order whatever they wanted, trying to make up for the disastrous afternoon, and soon they were both happily sipping some sort of S'mores milk with marshmallows. Henry and Mike both ordered chicken as well (Anne opted for cheeseburger sliders) and so when our food came, the waitress delivered three bowls of Chalet Sauce. Henry didn't want his, so I quickly co-opted it. Mike was dubious:

"What are you going to do with all that sauce?"

Oh he of little faith in The Power of The Chalet Sauce. We were all starving from our ill fated road trip, and made quick work of our meals.

"How's your chick...wait. Where did all that sauce go?"

"I ate it."

I seized the opportunity with him being distracted to dip a fry in his own cup of sauce.

"Wow."

Clearly, we need to indoctrinate him further on the Ways of the Chalet. By the time we had all eaten, we were feeling a lot better. We still had over an hour to go in the car, but it was much easier to manage going back.

Later, after the kids were in bed, Mike and I had cocktails and watched "Wayward Pines." Although the day didn't go as planned, we made the best of a bad situation.

How was your weekend, dear reader? :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 88} Things I'm looking forward to this fall edition...


It's been a long week, yes it is true, and so I want to think happy thoughts. The air feels crisp today,  and the campus is starting to look alive again. And so, what am I looking forward to this fall? Read on, gentle reader. :)

-1- Podcasty goodness!

I'm hoping to start a podcast this fall. With my best gal pal ever, Cristina. And given our previous, informal effort in this regard, can you imagine how much fun this could be? :0 We are *very* excited and are brainstorming as you read this. So stay tuned!

-2- Fall sweaters!

Oh gosh. Fall is my absolute FAVORITE time to knit all year. Favorite. I have sweater plans, and do you want to see the yarn? Of course you do:

I mean...

:0

Is that my color, or what?! It's called Candied Yam, and it would make the most perfect Thanksgiving sweater EVER, am I right? Of course, that may be Thanksgiving 2017 before I'm done with it, but hope springs eternal!

-3- Shawls, shawls, shawls!

I also love to knit shawls in the fall. I mean, look at this. Did you ever?!

*happy sigh*

I'm also working on gift shawls:


That yellow will be the third striping color added in soon, with short rows. Sublime.

-4- SO MANY SOCKS

I've been knitting a lot of socks lately, and I think I should get marriage bonus points for this:


And isn't Mike a good sport for modeling? He loves them. I also have more gifts socks to make:


Don't you just love the colors? I still have a lot of sock knitting to do, don't I? But I love socks, so it's all good.

-5- Crockpot cooking!

Goodness, do I love fall themed cooking, and I ADORE our crockpot. I love just dumping stuff in there in the morning, and then you come home and smell this wonderful, completed meal aroma. It's like divine intervention cooking or something. And if it involves squash or pumpkins, all the better.

-6- Fall dancing!

My troupe has an outdoor event to dance at in mid-September, so here's hoping we won't freeze our beads off. It's usually still pretty mild in September, but you never know. After that, we have the fall hafla planned for mid-November, and I'm all excited about that. New solo in the works! :0 Sword and veil are both competing for the coveted spot, so we'll have to see who wins this little power struggle. ;-)

-7- Fall reading plan!

Right. The Catholic Book Club. :0 I've been slacking a little bit. If you looked on my Kindle right now, you'd see that I've read nothing but Amish and cozy crafting fiction all summer.That's just the way it is sometimes. ;-) I have the latest book in the young adult John Paul II High series on my list for August, Near Occasions, and I plan to read it as soon as I'm done with the Amish mystery I'm currently reading. I think I'm over 70% of the way through it, too. So, what this means is that the book club is still alive and well, I'm just going to bump our next date to the following week. Which will  be September, I will grant. ;-) But we'll get there! Then I do have a book for late September planned, and subsequently need to add to the list. Keep your eyes peeled!

What are YOU looking forward to this fall, dear reader?

All right everyone, have a great weekend, and I'll talk to you next week. In the meantime, check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tea Time with Tiffany Episode 12 - Navigating life's challenging times & prayer

Good morning to you all, on a rainy, overcast day in WNY. I was very much looking forward to talking to you all today on another episode of:


I've mentioned that I'm having a bit of a long week, and I elaborate on that in today's video. And when life is difficult, we turn to prayer, yes? I talk about that too. :) So grab your rosary beads and pray along with me!


Items mentioned in this episode:
 Thank you to you all for your prayers, I treasure you so much!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

St. Monica novena starts today! And "rosary coaxing" my 9 year old...

Hi all! To put it mildly, I am having a day in which I feel very harried. I'm not saying that I'm justified in feeling harried, but I'm feeling harried. I have a lot on my mind this week, and thus am easily overwhelmed. It's not real pleasant, but I'm doing the best with it that I can.

So what I've been focusing on are small tasks, staying patient, and prayer. The St. Monica novena begins today, and the chaplets page has been updated with a video introduction to her chaplet and an audio recording of the chaplet prayers themselves, with the novena prayer included at the end. And let me tell you, this particular recording is very much like you're right here in the room praying along with me. I'll explain, but first let me chronicle my morning up to that point. Do you have your tea? Good. Me too.

So, this morning I was slated to ferry Henry to his allergist for an updated skin test. Fun wow, right? Especially for poor Henry. ;-) Since we didn't have to leave until 9 am, I made a quick trip to the pharmacy to pick up his asthma medication refills, and believe me, NEAR OCCASION OF SIN, right there. If nobody is going to pay attention to the drive up line, don't have one, kwim?! I ended up abandoning the drive up, parked, and went inside, where everybody was busily pretending that the drive up window and the waiting cars didn't exist. I KNEW IT.

But I digress. I fetched Henry's medicine, and then hurried home to gather my work stuff and my son. I found him looking surly and not too eager about his appointment, not that I can blame him. He wanted to pack his small Nintendo DS to occupy him since the skin testing requires him to sit still for a time with the schmutz on his arm or what have you. Naturally, he had forgotten to charge it and an angry red light was blinking furiously. This did nothing to improve his mood.

Mom saved the day by immediately plugging it in for a few minutes worth of charging before we left, and then locating the adapter so that we could charge it in the car. Upon getting settled in the car, I used my heroine status to my advantage:

"I usually pray the rosary in the car, Hank. Want to pray a decade with me?"

"You pray the rosary? In THE CAR?"

Henry is clearly not yet indoctrinated into the Love To Pray In The Car! Club. But he was feeling amenable generally to my cause since I had saved his ability to play video games for the next hour.

"Yeah! We have all this time, and it's very soothing. I'm on the 2nd Sorrowful Mystery. Do you want to lead or respond?"

*pause*

"Lead, I guess."

"That's the spirit!"

:0

"Do you want to use my pumpkin rosary?! It's particularly smashing!"

"No thanks. I'll count on my fingers."

Spoil sport. But he prayed along really well, and I even talked him into praying the 3rd mystery too, since we had more than enough time.

#forthewin!

But the pumpkin rosary? Prepare to swoon!

Once again, Rosaries by Allison, if you want to feed your own addiction :)

That's it there on the right, with the Madonna and Child centerpiece. It's my new fall rosary, and on the left is St. Francis de Sales, isn't he handsome as well?! I LOVE rosary beads. I may have a problem. Is there a 12 step program for rosary hoarders?

So then we got to the allergist's office, and Henry had the thing, and the poor child is allergic to pretty much every living thing that he may encounter outdoors: grass, weed pollen, dust, trees, cats, dogs, feathers (even my beloved birds!! so sad).

"Does this mean that I can't ever go outside?"

Henry looks concerned.

"Yes Henry. You're going to have to walk around in a giant bubble."

Henry does not look amused.

After that, Mike came to pick Henry up so that I could head to work, and I got in just in time for lunch. Ha! Which I used to make the St. Monica recordings. And here we come, full circle, yes? :)

I notice that my office neighbor is not in residence so I quickly get out my equipment and get down to praying. I have a private office, but the walls here are THIN. And, well. She is LOUD. She's a perfectly nice woman, but she is very, very loud. In everything that she does. Talking, sneezing, traversing her office, putting down her keys, see a theme here? And there's really no polite way to tell someone that they are a Loud Person, you know? They're just loud. They don't mean to be. But everything about them is loud.

And so I really *need* her to be out of her office to record anything in mine. She wasn't there, I start recording, and BAM!

Yes, that was her door, that wasn't just me being cutesy in my writing style. :0

I hadn't gotten very far yet, so I stopped recording. Because she had also started making other shuffling and chair dragging noises, and the effect really wasn't good. I ate my lunch and tried to wait her out.

BAM! Eureka!! She left, hurry, hurry, hurry! I grab my beads and my audio recorder and get to work. I get all the way around the chaplet, and am on the final few prayers when disaster strikes.

Literally, it sounds like someone has gotten shot in my office. :0 How is she SO LOUD?! But by that point, I was NOT going to start over again. I persevered, but in the back ground you can hear all kinds of banging and commotion. Sooooooo...consider this "ambiance" and like you're praying right along with me, snugged in my cozy office. ;-)

How are you, dear reader? What's new? I could use a little lightening of my week, so do write in to kibbutz with me. ;-)

Monday, August 17, 2015

How many novenas is it possible to pray simultaneously? Join me in the St. Monica novena! :0

Photo courtesy of Allison Kinyon, Rosaries by Allison
Happy Monday to you all, I hope you are well.:) For my part, my mind is very occupied right now, I'll talk about that more during our Tea Time this week. LOTS going on right now. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be overwhelming, you know? I know that you do, and I so appreciate having you all in my life and heart.

Today, one of the happy things that is on my mind is obsessing over awaiting new rosaries and chaplets. :0 One of aforementioned chaplets is St. Monica, pictured at left here (and if you'd like your own, Rosaries by Allison is the place to go! She doesn't have a St. Monica chaplet currently listed, but message her about a custom :)) and her novena begins tomorrow. Your Resident Chaplet Aficionado is planning an audio recording and video tomorrow morning, so if you'd like to pray along, have at it! Oh wait. I have to take Henry to the allergist in the morning. OK, so I am planning an audio recording and video tomorrow *afternoon*. ;-) If you don't have chaplet beads, you can still pray along with me this way! You can also sign up with Pray More Novenas to receive the novena prayers in your email inbox each morning. I'm doing that as well. I'm just also adding in the chaplet, because I am a Chaplet Nerd.

My St. Monica chaplet is currently at the post office, and I have signed up for text alerts of when it makes any movement at all, because I am a stalker like that when it comes to things I am very excitedly expecting. I wish I could just go there and demand my rosary-containing envelopes, but I restrain myself, lest they think me odd. ;-) But I CANNOT WAIT to retrieve the mail when I get home later!

Who else is planning to pray the St. Monica novena?! I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tea Time with Tiffany Episode 11 - I want your ideas for a new audio project!

Morning all! And welcome to our 11th installment of:


This week I'm talking about the ideas rolling around in this spacey head of mine with regard to new audio projects. I'm pretty much relying solely on YOU for this one, so please do write in with your feedback!


Items mentioned in this episode:
  • Chaplets page now has 10 recordings available!
  • St. Monica novena begins Tuesday, leading up to her feast August 27th. Details TBA! And I will be making a recording of her chaplet. :)
  • Custom chaplets available from Rosaries by Allison!
I'm not going to be able to post tomorrow, so I will talk to you all early next week. In the mean time, do write in with your audio ideas, K? ;-) I promise to treasure them. And write back to you in a chirpy fashion. And give you a virtual hug.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A family fun weekend of epic gardening fails, saint doll arrivals, & potty refusals, settle in!

Hi all! Gosh, it's been a busy week. A pretty good week, mind you, though I have to admit that I feel a little what I term "wimpy." That's what I call it when a person feels a bit fragile, a tad vulnerable, not feeling 100% physically. There are a multitude of reasons: missing Cristina, the kids going back to school soon, the semester starting up and subsequent work craziness descending on both Mike and I in just a few weeks.

*sniffle*

So I'm hanging on to my 54 Day Rosary Novena like a life raft and trucking on. I think I'm also going to pray the St. Monica novena this year, which begins next week. More details on that to come!

At any rate, some fun stuff from the weekend to report in to you about. I know, I know, it's Wednesday already, what took me so long?! :0 I do what I can. ;-)

This weekend I spent lots of quality time with my cute Mike, and our ever unpredictable offspring. First up we have the Very Serious Henry:

This is his version of smiling :0
And the Ever Sassy Anne:

"I'm about to go hide this puzzle piece, so that the next time I ask Mommy to do the puzzle with me, she will think she's losing her mind!"
For the most part, Henry was low maintenance this weekend, as he usually is. Our daughter on the other hand...you know, she's 4. Mass these days? SO MUCH WIGGLING. It doesn't help that the Children's Liturgy of the Word program is on summer hiatus until after Labor Day, so she's in the pew with us the whole time:

"MOMMY. Why is Father Joe doing THAT?!"

"Shhhhh, we need to whisper, Honey, or better yet, wait until after Mass to talk."

"I *AM* WHISPERING, MOMMY!!"

"He's getting things ready for Communion, Sweetie."

"I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM! RIGHT NOW MOMMY!"

"Anne! You are SO LOUD!" That would be a beleaguered, long suffering Henry.

#funtimes

In a thrilling discovery, though, after we got home: an Amazon package was awaiting me! Given that it was Sunday, I was rather surprised. I quickly squirreled it away, as I knew it contained a future feast of St. Nicholas gift for Anne. Last week, Shining Light Saint Dolls was having a sale, and thus I procured Our Lady of Guadalupe for Anne. When I had a moment to myself, I pulled her out and found her levitating:

Apparently her journey was a little rough. :0
But after a soothing session with me, she was as good as new:


It seems that their Amazon store is a bit cleaned out now following that sale, a bit of a bummer. But their Facebook page mentioned that they are restocking with new dolls, so keep your eyes peeled! These are nicely made, plastic dolls for smaller children. I have a beautiful wood St. Nicholas doll on order for Henry's feast day gift, so everybody is receiving a saint this year, like usual. ;-)

After I tucked Our Lady of Guadalupe away, Mike and I trudged out to our poor, beleaguered garden. To say that we do not have green thumbs would be the understatement of the millennium. We usually manage to keep a few tomato and pepper plants alive until the fall each year, but this year we got a little overambitious and also planted cucumbers and small melons.

!

Next thing one knew, we had vines climbing up our fence and attacking the other plants. Bad, so bad. And apparently grape tomatoes think that they can just take over the world by spreading their leafiness over top of the entire garden and sucking up all the sunlight. It wasn't pretty.

I felt guilty (because Mike loves those tomatoes) but I encouraged him to take one of the tomato plants out. We would still have one tomato plant, but there was no way anything was growing with the wild, feral situation we had on our hands. So he did, and also beat back the other plants a bit. And now the remaining tomato plant looks like the garden version of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, and the melon vines put out some sort of liquid that gave me hives. So you could say that things are not going all that great back there.

On the up side, we found two gigantic cucumbers hiding amongst the forest-like conditions:

Anne dancing with the cucumbers...which naturally, she would not eat :0

...and we are getting a nice crop of sweet banana peppers. The bell peppers, not so much, but you can't have everything. I wish I had asked him to take out the melon plant instead, but there really was no way to even GET to it with the way that the tomatoes were growing.

#sigh

In other news, Monday morning found me strengthening my resolve as I entered Anne's room to get her up for the day: I was going to push the issue of her heading to the bathroom first thing upon getting out of bed. Anne has been potty trained for a few years now, but through the night? An absolute OCEAN of pee pee. So we still buy diapers and she wears one overnight. Lately though, she's woken up dry a few times, so it got me to thinking that she may be moving towards being able to go through  the night. Only one thing gave me pause: her bad habit of "not having to go pee, Mommy!" when she first wakes up:

"Anne Honey, the entire WORLD needs to use the bathroom when they first wake up. You are not going to be the lone exception."

"BUT I DON'T *HAVE* TO GO MOMMY."

Standoff!

I wanted to push this a bit, figuring that if she develops the habit of peeing right when she gets up, she may start to be dry on most mornings. If not, so be it. I know that some kids take a long time to be able to go through the night. But this is a bad habit that needs remedying, regardless.

So Monday morning I pushed the potty, and Anne pushed back. No potty, no sir. As expected, tears became involved in this process, as well as a refusal to even get dressed or cooperate with a single thing that I asked of her. Eventually, I went downstairs, and Mike volunteered to take a turn.

Next thing I knew, I heard the toilet flush and see a cheerful Anne coming down the stairs, fully dressed. When it was Daddy, you see, she was willing to pee and cooperate. An inadvertent Good Cop/Bad Cop situation. ;-)

For the remaining time until I left for work, it was clear that Mike was The Favored Parent. She bustled about, fetching him a napkin and offering to get him juice.

*narrows eyes*

Yesterday morning was more of the same, but today we had a good experience, and she cooperated without too much complaint. We'll see how this turns out.

So dear reader, any nighttime potty success stories you want to share? Are you a gardener who wants to shed some light on my abysmal gardening skills? :) Have you got your saint doll list together and ready for the early ordering season?! Do chime in!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Celebrate the feast of St. Dominic with me over at Catholic Mom! And more chaplet updates...

Happy Monday everybody! That sounds so much perkier than I actually feel, but hey; you win some, you lose some. ;-) I've just brewed afternoon tea, and feel ready to look alive!

And I always enjoy the Mondays on which my monthly posts at Catholic Mom go live, because I just love the community over there! This month, my theme is an exploration of Third Orders, and our guide is St. Dominic! This is a reworked piece that I originally wrote for this blog, but I've updated it quite a bit. Whether you've read it before, or for the first time today, I would LOVE IT if you would head over and leave me a comment over on Catholic Mom! I promise a personal reply. :)

http://catholicmom.com/2015/08/10/navigating-a-quarterlife-crisis-my-journey-with-st-dominic/

In other news, my updates to the Chaplets page are daily at this point, though that will taper off to monthly shortly. Right now, there are 8 videos/recordings on there, with the newest being the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Tomorrow, St. Cecilia will be added, and by the end of the week, the 7 Sorrows of Mary. After that, things will stay constant until early September, when I have a few new chaplets set to arrive. ;-) So do keep checking! I'm looking forward to praying with you.

This is a short post for me today (shocker! :0) but I've been a busy bee with work-related writing today, and I'm trying to keep that groove going. :) I have been remembering you all in the intentions of my 54 Day Rosary Novena, and I have some fun family posts planned for later in the week: Epic fails in gardening, potty training, and the arrival of the first of the Christmas saint dolls, you could call it an eclectic mix. ;-) I will talk to you all then!

In the mean time...wait! Although I love it when you write to me here, write to me at Catholic Mom today! That would mean a lot. But I love you guys regardless, so if you want to write in about your own lack of gardening talents or about how your kid may never stay dry through the night just like mine, and you'd rather not advertise that over at Catholic Mom, sure, please write to me here. ;-)

Friday, August 7, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 87} New chaplet recordings, and blessings of my big trip! edition...


Hi all! It's Friday, and I'm glad of it. It's been an emotional week. I'm missing Cristina something fierce, it's been a tough re-entry. But I've been a busy bee working on small projects to distract me, and counting my blessings. Want to know more? Do read on, gentle blog viewer. :)

-1- The chaplets page is now live! #ThisIsBig!

 In super exciting news, making the rosary recording with Cristina motivated me to do the editing and other "stuff" I needed to do in order to get the Chaplets page up and running. Oh, oh, go check it out! I'm super proud of it. :0 I loved putting it together and thinking that you and I would be praying together for our various and sundry intentions. So far, I have introductory videos and downloadable audio files for: Our Lady Star of the Sea, St. Therese, the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (collaborative recording with Cristina!), St. Anne, St. Kateri Indian Rosary, St. Dymphna, and Our Lady of the Snows. Coming soon to a Chaplets page near you: St. Cecilia, 7 Sorrows of Mary, Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Philomena.


*beams*

-2- This has the benefit of giving me an excuse to buy more rosaries and chaplets...

...which I LOVE doing, and I've been having lots of happy rosary design talk with both Cristina and Allison, our right hand rosary gal. I absolutely love prayer beads, always have. I used to think that someday, I would stop buying rosaries, because I had enough and because I had one main rosary that was THE rosary, and I wouldn't need anymore. Well dear reader, I am here to tell you that it simply does not work that way, at least in my little corner of the universe. ;-) When my budget allows, I love adding new saints into my collection of friends that I pray with on my beads. It's simply joy incarnate. :)

-3- The blessing of friends...

This week I've been thanking God fervently for both Cristina and Allison. If I'm feeling down, all I have to do is look down at my phone for that little notification icon that there is a new message in our chatting string and my heart lightens. Having friends that you feel super comfortable with, and can confide in...there's just no substitute.

-4- Don't forget about the rosary novena if you'd like to pray with us!

 And so, as I pray my 54 day rosary novena, I've been including Cristina's and Allison's intentions too, as well as a few other family/friends who mentioned that they've been praying along. If you haven't started already, no worries! I know of several people who started a few days after us, and simply adjusted their dates accordingly. The majority of the time we will overlap, so it's all good. Thus if you haven't yet started and want in on the praying action, start today! I love praying with friends. :)

-5- Appreciation anew for my family...

 When I got back from my trip, I was of course sad to leave Cristina and her family (who I now consider to be family to me as well; guess who now has a ton more socks to hand knit for Christmas?! :0) but I missed Mike and the kids a ton. The kids had been going through this painful stage in which they were arguing all the time, and/or generally picking at each other...can you say SO PAINFUL. :0 But when I got home I tried to just focus on the good, because I missed them so much. And wouldn't you know it, they've stopped arguing so much. I suppose they really do pick up on our moods. It's been bliss, and this is yet another thing I am SO grateful for this week.

-6- On a totally different topic, I'm looking forward to fun new workouts!

While I was with Cristina, I went with her to a Barre3 workout class at a studio near her house. You all know that I take dance lessons, which I adore and would never give up, and sure, dancing is healthy for your body, but it isn't a workout class, you know?  And Cristina and I totally bonded over this. Nothing says that you are comfortable with a person like sweating alongside them and assuming pretzel-like Pilates contortions. I LOVED the workout, so refreshing. And though there is no studio near me, they have an online option that I am super jazzed about. 15 day free online trial, hello!!! This is a combination of Pilates, yoga and barre workout, and the former ballet dancer in me loved that tie-in. Have any of you tried this before?! Do write in and let me know all about it. :)

-7- Matching water bottles, because why not?

 Finally, post-workout, Cristina and I procured coordinating pink water bottles, because you know. We're nerds.


I get sad now though whenever I look at mine, because it makes me miss her.

*sniffle*

But yet it's so symbolic of the wonderful time that I had, and the precious friendship that I treasure.

How was your week, dear reader? Write in to give me feedback about the Chaplets page (I'm asking nicely, pretty please ;-)), about barre workouts if you've ever taken one, and about friendship! I'm dying to hear from you!

I'll talk to you all next week. In the mean time, check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Video extra: Wine Time with Tiff and Cristina :0

Hi all! Today I have lots of fun stuff to share, so let's settle in with our beverages, yes?

It's 10 am as I'm typing this, so I'll HAVE YOU KNOW that I'm drinking tea. :) But on Monday evening, on my final night of visiting with Cristina, we were drinking Malbec. And we recorded a video chronicling our favorite parts of the visit. I just had my phone with me (and not my web cam) so the quality isn't as nice as it's been, but hey, we work with what we're given. ;-) It's also a little longer than usual, but I think we can agree that this was a special occasion. They'll be shorter again starting next week. And so without further ado, here we go!


Items mentioned in this episode:
Fun? Yes, so fun. I feel very blessed to have Cristina's friendship in my life. Do you have a best friend in your life that you can't see in person as often as you'd like? Do write in and tell us all about it. :) Oh! And if you want us to try and record the other mysteries of the rosary, let us know that too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Big friendship weekend 2015 - did you miss me?!

;-)

Well all, I'm back safe and sound, and as expected, I have a lot to report about my big visit to see Cristina. I have to be honest and admit that I don't even know where to begin. I am completely overwhelmed with the volume of wonderful, funny, meaningful anecdotes I could share with you. Plus, remember when I went to Atlanta back in June and got the post-CNMC blues? Well, you could say that I have a major case of the post-Cristina Visit blues. Every time I think about how I'm going to frame this post, I start crying. Nobody needs THAT little scene again.

It's interesting, isn't it? That our reach in terms of meeting people and making friends is so much larger these days, which is fantastic, but yet if you are lucky enough to meet in person, it's terribly painful to part from them, because you don't know when you'll see them again.

*sob!*

My, my, my, what to do...OK, what I'll do is this: I'm going to give an overview as best I can in this post, and we have a surprise for you down at the conclusion. Don't peek! Just read along and you'll see once you get there. :) Tomorrow, I have a video to share. This isn't my typical Tea Time series. This is a special video extra, and we're calling it Wine Time with Tiff and Cristina. :0 And then on Friday I'll put out a 7 Quick Takes on highlights from my trip. Sound good? Fab, let's get started...

Soooooo, Saturday morning found me staring in horror at the itty bitty, propeller-driven aircraft that was to deliver me to Cristina. I don't know about you, but I fear airplanes in which there is an advertised "WEIGHT RESTRICTION" at play. They acted all nonchalant about it, but in my opinion, we should have weighed every single thing that was going on that plane, including the people. I was perfectly willing to go forward and write down that I weighed 400 pounds, compensating for all of the women who would have been vain and lied about their weight. Taking one for the team, right there. But no, there was no weighing, they just made us gate check all of our carry-on bags and seemed to think nothing was amiss. For my part, when the flight attendant came to take my drink order, I ordered coffee with Bailey's, and let me tell you, BEST $8 I EVER SPENT. I was happy for the remainder of the flight. ;-)

Arrival, lots of walking. Cristina asked me to meet her at Baggage Claim F, so I just followed any baggage claim sign I saw, figuring they were all the same. Right, this is what happens when you're from a small time airport arriving in The Big City. The instant I closed in on a baggage carousel, I discerned that there were a multitude of baggage claims at the Philadelphia airport, and I was at the wrong one. A flurry of phone calls and text messages ensued. 30 minutes later...

:0

...we found each other!!!

First photo!

Ecstatic hugging and chatting commenced. I don't think we took a breath all weekend long, except to sleep.

When you meet someone for the first time, after a solely online relationship, you always wonder about what the dynamic will be like, right? The verdict in this case?

It was awesome. :0 We clicked immediately, just as we did online, and we were like Energizer bunnies, rushing from one fun activity to the next. So, let's see, we:

(1) went to Mass and prayed the rosary together:

*heart*

(2) went to a Barre3 workout class,
(3) bought matching pink water bottles :0
(4) took the kids to the pool,
(5) went book shopping,
(6) watched "This is 40",
(7) drank lots of wine,
(8) cooked lots of fantastic food,
(9) did a live Periscope video! AND
(10) made several other fun video and audio recordings, deets TBA!!

Oh, and I joined Instagram because of her. I have to admit, I kind of love it. If you're on there, I'm @catholictiffany! I posted some photos from our weekend, and so did Cristina (@faithfulsocial).

A photo posted by ➳ Cristina 🌻 (@faithfulsocial) on

*happy sigh*

I also ADORED her considerate and funny husband, Mike (he made us up a spread of wine, cheese, crackers, fruit and prosciutto for when we arrived from the airport!) and her SWEET and adorable sons. Oh goodness! 

Over the next few days, I'll put out all of the stuff that we worked on. For today, I have a very fun audio recording/sort of podcast thing to share with you. We were in the car on our way to Cristina's house from the airport, chatting a mile a minute:

SIRI: *momentary shocked silence* "Make a U-turn, as soon as you are able."

And that wasn't the only time SIRI got a little stern with us. :0 Let's just say that we were talking so avidly that we weren't paying very much attention to (a) SIRI, or (b) directional awareness generally. And so we got a little lost as I got out my audio recorder, hit "record," and the result is what you will find below. SO.FUN. This is pretty much like being a fly on the dashboard in Cristina's car, for one of our very first in-person conversations. Except we won't squash you with our shoe. ;-)

This is just uninhibited, raw audio footage here. I apologize in advance for messing with the sound level mid-recording, this is amateur work over here, I'm still learning! It's just over an hour, approximately the length of an average podcast. You can either listen right here, or download it to your phone/iPod: select the column icon (it will say "See more Formats at Internet Archive" when you hover over it) to head over to the hosting page. Once there, right click on the MP3 option on the right side of the screen, and select "Save Link As..." Then save the file to your device.

Caveat: like I mentioned, this is a spontaneous, unedited recording of two friends talking. We use adult language (i.e. swear words are in here :0). So if you're in the car with your kids, do not play. ;-) But it's extremely fun, and for those of you who want to come along with us for a car ride, we'd love for you to tune in and share that time with us! We talk about anything and everything, from our first impressions of each other (that would be a normal topic), to airplane lavatories, our desire for an Introverted Airlines, pre-menopause, lost parking garage tickets and SUPER SERIOUS PARKING GARAGE POLICEY GUYS (these would be the ridiculous topics ;-)). P.S. you all are given a shout-out. :)

What did you think? Do you think we should do a regular podcast together? Do chime in with your thoughts!