Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hello my dear ones! You'll be seeing this on December 23rd, the date that officially hearkens my annual blog hiatus between Christmas and New Years. I will miss you dearly, but we will reunite on January 3rd! I will have lots of holiday and dancing adventures to relay then, I am sure. That's about a weeks worth of posts, right there. :0

In the meantime, please do follow me on Twitter @CatholicTiffany.


I would love to chat with you there! Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am looking forward to an exciting and joyful 2017 with all of you.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #77 - Nefarious illnesses & belly dancing into the New Year...

Hi all! I'm happy to be with you again for Tea Time, even if I'm muddling through a week's worth of illnesses to do so...

Today I fill you in on the evil pestilence that has been sweeping through my household, as well as the exciting (albeit nerve wracking) dance gig I have coming up at a restaurant on New Year's Eve.

A sword.
Stairs.
A buffet line with lots of transversing people who may have been drinking.
A somewhat clumsily inclined belly dancer.

What could go wrong?!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
How is your Advent ending? What are your Christmas plans? What is your Christmas Mass timeslot of choice? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 4th Week of Advent....

Hi all. It is indeed a good day to anticipate joy. ;-) This is what my overnight sounded like:

2 am: *dramatic sneeze*

2:02 am: *trip to bathroom*

2:03 am: *loud sneeze*

2:04 am: *coughing attack*

2:05 am: *back to bed*

2:06 am: *toss*

2:07 am: *turn*

2:08:30: *toss turn*

2:09 am: *trip to bathroom for water*

2:10 am: *rustling of warmer clothes being pulled on in bedroom*

2:11 am: *back to bed*

2:11:30: *coughing attack*

2:12 am: *light blares on*

To be clear, this was not me. It was my adorable, lovable husband. Who I am ever so glad packed up his pillow and went downstairs to cough for the rest of the night. :0 I felt bad for him, but it was rough going with all of the sickness symptoms. He was down there for about 5 minutes when we hear:

"Dad. COULD YOU COME IN HERE?!" The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, with that one and nighttime wakings.

#longsufferingsigh

At any rate, I'm alive, here, and ready to talk about our prompt for the 4th Sunday of Advent.

*beatific beam*

Paul reminds us we are called to be holy. What am I doing this Advent to draw closer to God and others?

My response to this is that I have tried to be more aware of my faith in the midst of daily distractions, particularly this past week. In the 'keeping it real' category is the fact that this Advent hasn't felt as special and set aside to me as it usually does. I've been getting a lot out of these weekly posts and the journaling prompts, but that's pretty much it. I have forgotten to light the Advent candles every single week except this past Sunday (and technically Henry lit them), and the kids have been taking the reigns with the Advent calendars. I haven't been consistent with my Advent devotional reading, and I didn't make it to the Advent Penance Service.

#epicfail

That being said, for the past week or so it has occurred to me how much my faith means to me. Things had felt a bit dry, which led to a sense of complacency. When I started thinking about making more of a structured effort to get to confession and pick back up Advent traditions, that sense of peace and solace washed over me again. I'm not completely back on track, but I feel connected again. I think that over the Christmas season all will be well again. I feel a lot better about everything. And Mass this Advent has been WONDERFUL, especially with Henry in his new role as altar server. *beams*

What are your thoughts on the prompt this week?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Patron saints for 2017, and New Years resolutions!

Our bookworm friend, St. Jerome
Hi all! *another weak smile* I am back at work, but the winter sicknesses have a strong hold on our household. Anne is mostly better. I *was* mostly better, but then Mike started saying that his throat hurt and that he was stuffy. Next thing you knew, my throat hurt anew and I was stuffy again. So I think that I actually have yet a new manifestation of the nefarious pestilence that is currently sweeping its way through our family. And let's just say that I am not very happy about it.

*glares*

I'm doing my best to be upbeat, but I'm not loving being back at work. Especially when I have hours of lesson planning to do (and aforementioned lesson planning doesn't really seem all that much less onerous than the fall nightmare we swore we would not repeat), and in a weakened state to boot. But I'm doing what I can.

As I drove into work this morning, I was doing my usual, which is to say I was listening to a podcast. Which, as always, was perking me up. And it caused me to reflect on the fact that that I really, really miss Planned Not Scripted, the podcast that Cristina and I collaborate on. We've been on hiatus since September due to life interfering in our fun, and I have some technical work to do behind the scenes to get our Skype recording situation back under control. So far this December, even with the semester being over, that has not happened. But I want it to happen. And so I made a New Year's resolution right then and there to get things back up and ready for January, when we can put out a new episode.

*3 cheers!*

It is officially on my to-do list, and I am feeling quite thrilled about it.

Once I started dwelling on New Year's resolutions, it also reminded me that I select a patron saint for my blog each year using the random Saint's Name Generator. So when I got into my office this morning, I fired her up, and guess who I got?

St. Jerome!

Patron of librarians. *beams* Another of my resolutions this year will be to write more, and finish that long-term writing project that I've been talking about for over 6 months now. This all made me feel a lot better, and like I have direction for the coming year: in 2017, I will focus on writing and podcasting, with St. Jerome providing my back up moral support. I love it!

I'm also going to be taking a few short trips in 2017: To a dance workshop, to visit Cristina, and to attend the New York Sheep and Wool festival with my knitting friends. And I'm *hoping* that I'll be able to meet Samantha in real life next year as well. Lots to look forward to! And I look forward to sharing it with all of you. *heart*

How is your week starting out, dear reader?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Of sick days, dozens of Christmas movies, and crafts gone wild...

TGIF all!

*weak smile*

You'll notice there is no Tea Time this week. That would be because I am on Day 2 of a 2 day sick day spell, and though I am a bit better today (albeit home with a now sick and whiny Anne. Joy, so much joy) I am still SUPER stuffy, and do not want to subject you to my congested voice. Or my neck-wide fever rash in the video. Now that we've had our TMI moment of the morning...

I have lots of fun dancing news to cover in Tea Time, so we'll do that next week. Until then, I thought I would check in briefly from the sick bay. In summary, I have been doing lots of knitting and crocheting while I sit on the couch and watch Christmas movies. ALL the excitement, right there. Besides wrapping gifts and napping, this pretty makes up my life when I'm sick. I adore the Hallmark Channel. 24 hour a day feel-good Christmas movies push all of my happy buttons, especially when I am laid up. Yesterday I watched 3. No shame, no sir. 3 movies and part of a fourth. Plus I set the DVR to record several more. Always good to have those on reserve for couch time! I mean, they're on 24 hours a day, so no worries, ever, but I like to be able to choose my theme and fast forward through the commercials.

*beams*

And now I've discovered Hallmark Channel's adorable cousin, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

*swoons*

I am in love. Christmas movies, PLUS they're promoting some sort of sweet and sleuthy Nancy Drew-looking show that will debut after New Years. I may have to quit my job so that I can just watch full time.

"A Nutcracker Christmas"

"Journey Back to Christmas"

"Operation Christmas"

"The Christmas Pageant"

Coming up with unique titles must be a challenge, and consequently I cannot remember a single one of them, but that little factoid notwithstanding, I am one happy customer.

So, lots of movies it is. And while I watch them, I have been working on Henry's Harry Potter scarf, as well as finishing up a few other handcrafted gifts. Mike was pretty relieved when I finished up the project involving this borrowed visitor to our household:

When craft projects get creepy
But you want hats to be shaped properly. ;-)

Happy finished product about to be mailed to its new home
And the scarf is nearly done, finally. Scarves always seem like they stay the same length (approximately 800 feet long) and not *quite* long enough to wrap the way you want, for at least a month, while you continue to slave away, adding more rows. I think I'm finally on the last 2 color blocks of this one. Mostly because if I go any longer than that I will run out of yarn. So we're almost there! All of the couch/Hallmark movie time has certainly been aiding this cause.

I'm hoping that by Monday Anne and I will both be rash-free and feeling better, and able to go back to our regular routines. And somehow, coming up is the 4th Sunday of Advent, and so next week is the week before Christmas. I don't feel ready (typical), but am trying not to panic. :-)

How is your week ending, dear reader? It would really cheer my sick spirit to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 3rd Week of Advent...

Happy Wednesday everyone! I woke up this morning feeling decidedly less than 100% (never a good thing when your first thought as you wake is why your throat feels so weird :-/), AND we are under a lake effect snow advisory here in WNY starting at 1 pm EST. I'm thinking that I'm going to be leaving work early so that I don't have to drive home in the worst of it. And I also have to order a pair of snow boots. :-( My cute dress boots aren't going to cut it for all purposes this winter, that's for sure.

At any rate, I'm feeling slightly diminished, but in good spirits this Advent weekday in our third week. I enjoyed Mass very much this week, with the rose vestments on full display, and the kids bringing up their little Jesus figurines for a special Gaudete Sunday blessing. Speaking of, I just ordered each of them expansions for their nativity sets: the 3 Kings for Anne, and a Bethlehem Village Blacksmith Shop For Henry. Henry has quite a developed little town in his room each year during Advent and Christmas. :)


Henry's nativity scene


Expanding Bethlehem Village
All right, so what is our prompt for the week?

Isaiah encourages us to be strong and fear not when God comes. What weaknesses and fears block my acceptance of God in my life?

Well, for me, this is an easy one to answer: fear of change and the unknown. This has been a lifelong issue for me, and all of these years later, it is still omnipresent. The sweeping reading this week from Isaiah reminds me that is something that I need to continue to work on:

"Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you."

Isaiah 35: 4.

Forge on I must, and my very favorite intercessor for this intention is St. John Paul II. In fact, he may be one of my favorite saints of all time. He certainly faced a number of challenges in his life, and yet he always held to his motto of "Be not afraid." Sometimes we do not know what is coming, but we must hold on to the hope that God will see us through, no matter what it is. Letting go of that fear will lead to peace. I know this, but it sure is difficult to implement! I'm thinking that perhaps another attempt at reading his biography would be a worthwhile endeavor for Lent.

What are your thoughts this 3rd week of Advent, dear readers? What fears are holding you back on acceptance of God in YOUR life?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Quiet joy and exhaustion on Gaudete Sunday weekend...

Did you all light your rose candles this weekend? I wish I could say that I did, but as has been epic this Advent, I FORGOT. I'm going to try to remember tonight.

#CatholicMotherOfTheYear

But Anne and I DID wear pink to Mass yesterday, and she and Henry both remembered (at my prompting) to bring the baby Jesuses from their nativity sets with them for a special blessing that our parish does this Third Sunday of Advent.

*halo*

Mass was particularly peaceful this week. Anne was very excited to bring up our gift to put under the Giving Tree, and Henry was very into paying close attention to the altar servers so that he could mentally review for his next serving Mass. He also went back into the sacristy afterward to solidify his place as a server for the 11 am Christmas Day Mass, and I'm *very* excited for this.

I think that I keep forgetting about the Advent candles because of how busy our weekends have been of late. This was Henry's second play performance weekend, and we also had a gingerbread house building event with Anne at school. Translation: Anne ate gumdrops while Mike and I got frosting all over ourselves and the table. But in the end, we managed a serviceable house.

*pins on gold star*

It was a great weekend. And then, at 4 am this morning:

"Mom! Dad! Could you come in here?!"

It was Anne. I was unconscious. Mike goes in to discover Anne heavily wiggling a loose tooth. He tells her to leave it alone until morning. Oh the level of parental naivete in the dark hours.

30 minutes later...

"Mom! Dad! COULD YOU COME IN HERE?!"

Mike, bless his soul, goes in again, while I toss and turn in our bed. Anne's tooth has fallen out. He tucks it into a paper cup and tells her to go back to sleep. The Tooth Fairy will come in the NEXT overnight session.

30 minutes later...

*Anne's door clicks open*

*Anne's door clicks closed*

*Anne's door clicks open*

*Anne's door clicks closed*

WHY GOD, WHY?! When I think about the sheer volume of sleep that I have lost owing to my offspring's after hours shenanigans, I want to weep.  I turn on the light while Mike goes to investigate. Anne has lost her lost tooth.

*collapses*

A massive toothhunt gets underway, because even at 5 am we know that telling Anne to go back to bed and we will find it in the morning will have the effect of tears and wails.

"Mom. I asked myself: 'if I was a tooth, where would I be?!' And so I looked under the bed. But it's not there!"

*long suffering sigh*

The tooth was eventually located amongst her sheets and we all went back to bed. But let's just say that the aftereffect exhaustion remains. The Tooth Fairy will be on a flying mission tonight.

Aside from being tired, I'm in good Advent spirits. How are you this Advent Monday, dear friends?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #76 - Advent tranquility & journaling...

Happy Thursday all! And happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! Thank you for joining me for another installment of:

This week I talk all things Advent and Christmas shopping, and we chat a bit about holy days of obligation. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
What are you up to this Advent? How are your Christmas preparations going? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 2nd Week of Advent...

Happy 2nd week of Advent everyone! I am feeling particularly joyful this week, and I think it's because Christmas is just a little bit closer. Or maybe it's because I finished my grading for the semester yesterday.

*trumpets blare!*

Never, in all of my years of academia, both as a student and librarian, have I EVER been happier for a semester to come to a close. Good grief!

At any rate, here we are nearing the halfway point of Advent. And I have my handy dandy journal prompt for us to delve into this week. Ready? Get your tea.

*pours*

John encourages us to change our lives to prepare for Jesus's coming. What changes do I need to make this Advent?

This week's gospel was the dramatic retelling of how wacky St. John the Baptist was living in the desert by himself, wearing some sort of camel hair garment (ouch! could you imagine sitting down in that thing?! :0) and eating locusts and wild honey. Confident and self-assured in his own eccentricity, John the Baptist was. ;-) And his message is quite bold:


"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

 "Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Matthew 3:1-12

The message from these passages is clear to me: John does not want us to be passive Christians in our relationship with Christ, and in our example to others. We need to LIVE the Christian message. Although John did not shy away from shouting out provocative messages, I do not think he is telling us that we have to be in anyone's face loudly reciting the Gospel message. He wants us to be bold in our proclamation by example.

So what does this mean for my life? I am a Nervous Nelly. I should be constantly at peace with my faith and my Lord, and yet am I? I am not. :0 I am always frittering about to and fro, anxious about this thing and that. And why, and for what? This is a useless exercise, and no amount of self-awareness on this issue has ever effected a long term difference. But Advent and Lent always offer us a fresh start in terms of self-examination and spiritual goal setting. This week, I am going to try and take John's advice. I am going to adopt peace as my aspirational Advent goal, living that out within my own little universe, and passing it on to others where I can.

That is the change that I need to make this Advent. What is your Advent goal this week? What small thing can you do to change your life this Advent? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Adventures in the arts this 2nd week of Advent...

Happy feast of St. Nicholas everyone! :) I am coming off of a SUPER packed weekend with the kids, journeying to various productions in the performing arts. I just love this time of year. *heart*

Henry, in particular, had a REALLY big weekend. He was cast in a kids speaking role for our local community theater's production of "Get Smart," which had its opening weekend this past Friday. AND he had his very first ever experience as an altar server at our parish's 5 pm vigil Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Henry in character ;-)  

I was really worried about the play, because Henry is a more reserved child. On top of that, he has struggled with a speech disfluency (commonly known as a stutter) for a number of years now, and so this was a big undertaking for him. That usually is only an issue (when it even is an issue, which isn't all the time) in conversational speech, so I was cautiously optimistic for reciting memorized lines. And indeed, he did GREAT. We are all very proud of Henry. Going to all of the rehearsals, memorizing lines, helping out with scene changes, performing his role...that's a lot for an 11 year old. Very impressive!

And right before the Saturday show, he had his inauguration as an altar server. :0 Mike and I were beaming with pride as Henry made his way down the aisle as a candle bearer in the opening processional. He was shepherded carefully by a more experienced server, and he performed all of his duties perfectly. In a totally surprise move, we were asked by one of the ushers to bring up the gifts during the Mass, so the whole thing was just one big warm and fuzzy. Henry told me that he loved serving at the Mass and that it made the time fly by. ;-) I'm looking forward to seeing him thrive in this role throughout the year.

On Sunday, while Henry was performing at his matinee, Anne and I made our annual pilgrimage to see "The Nutcracker."

All dressed up and ready to go selfie :-)
Anne seemed much more into the story this year, and I REALLY enjoyed sharing it with her. We also did a bit of Nutcracker-related shopping, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, spent FAR too much on glittery wooden nutcracker dolls and marzipan Christmas tree ornaments. You only get to do it once a year, right? ;-)

Anne posing with creepy animatronic reindeer during the shopping portion of our excursion
"The Nutcracker" is very special to me. We go every year, and it is a tradition that I savor. It is so festive and cheery. I really hope that, even when they get older, I can drag a child/grandchild to it for the rest of my life. They owe me this. :0

After our busy weekend, the kids happily set their shoes out by the hearth last night, and sure enough, St. Nicholas came for an overnight visit!

He always leaves chocolate coins, books, and saint dolls. ;-) This year, Anne received St. Teresa of Calcutta, and Henry got St. Dominic Savio. Anne packed up both St. Teresa and Pete the Cat and toted both to school with her to show her teacher.  So precious.

How was YOUR 2nd Sunday of Advent, dear reader? I would love to hear from you. *beams*

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #75 - 1st week of Advent busyness for precious Henry!

Happy Advent everybody!


Today talk about our busy first week of Advent, especially for Henry. We also talk new altar server duties, how I felt creatively energized by my Thanksgiving staycation, and Advent devotionals. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
How is your first week of Advent going, dear reader and listener? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!