Friday, November 20, 2020

A Cozy Indoor Packing List for the weeks ahead...

Welcome back, friends, to our final installment in Fun Friday (taking next Friday off from blogging to spend Black Friday shopping online with my family, hee hee), but I have to admit, it doesn't feel like a very fun day, does it? Things are worsening here, as they are worldwide, and I have a feeling that it's going to be a very long winter, sadly. On top of that, I barely have reason to leave the house much right now given the public health guidelines, and that's only going to worsen in the coming weeks, so I'm doing my best to emotionally manage it. And so I thought today's installment of Fun Friday could be a focus on ways to make our indoor time super cozy and delightful. I've been working on building up our supplies this week myself, and thought I would share. :)

1.) Books - Because of course, right? This *is* a librarian's blog, after all. Load up, my friends! Visit your local bookshop if you are able, or otherwise order some titles in print or digital. I think we can all agree that complete escapism is absolutely essential right now. :-0 For my part, I'm currently reading the lovely Amish Christmas at North Star:


Quick blurb:

One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania.

Rebekah’s Babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, a possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas...

I also have this on my bookshelf from last Christmas, and am planning to pull it out!


2.) Puzzle Books - While shopping with Anne earlier in the week at our local Dollar Tree, I happened upon a display of word finds. Hark. Word finds? I LOVE WORD FINDS! And I haven't worked on any in like, 25 years. :-0 And these were winter and Christmas themed. This isn't the one I bought, but akin to this one:


I bought both a winter themed one and a Christmas one. I love simple ways to occupy my mind like these. I also kind of like picture mazes, but I restrained myself on that one. 😁 Ultimate Dot to Dot books are another great idea!

3.) Jigsaw puzzles - Continuing the puzzle theme, a Facebook sponsored ad read my mind (creepy!) and got me thinking about jigsaw puzzles. Both of my kids loved puzzles when they were little, and although I'm not particularly good at them (500 pieces is a challenge for me, 1000 pretty much impossible!) I truly enjoy working on them. I purchased this one, and it is a DELIGHT. The entire family is enjoying working on it. And because none of us are particularly adept puzzle solvers, the joy just keeps giving, because it's still not completed yet, LOL! Each day, a few of us head over to it to slide in some pieces.


I put in an order for some Christmas puzzles too, excited for those to arrive!

4.) Hand Crafts - You all know that I love my knitting and crocheting, and indeed, I've enjoyed the big yearly yarn sale over at Knit Picks and We Crochet this year more than ever. But I also espied some new hand crafts that I thought would be fun to try, and thought maybe Anne and I could try them together. I ordered a punch needle kit, and I have to say that I am very intrigued. I am not familiar with this craft at all, and can't wait to learn about it! I purchased this one:

I see that it's now out of stock temporarily, but they have other kits as well! And they also have embroidery kits, which Anne is interested in. I have my eye on this fall leaf one:

Trying something new has me all atwitter with excitement. And it's much needed, for sure!

5.) Flavored hot cocoa - Doing our grocery shopping this week, I saw a collection of flavored hot chocolates packaged together, and quickly snapped it up for the kids. This one had peppermint, mocha, Irish Cream and Salted Caramel. When the weather gets cold, I have the urge to fire up the kettle. I like tea, and the kids love hot cocoa. Which reminds me! Celestial Seasonings has their holiday collection teas in stock, and they are THE BEST:


Nutcracker Sweet is my favorite tea of all time, I drink it year round. The kids are favoring Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, and the pumpkin tea was delightful all October long. Oh it makes me so happy to even think about fun hot beverages!

All right, that is my list for bringing home the cozy. Have anything to add to the list? I'd love for you to leave your ideas in the comments!

Friday, November 13, 2020

New classes are good for our minds and spirits...

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Fun Friday for November! I think we need this now more than ever, yes? It's getting pretty wintry in my part of the world, and things are also getting even more challenging with regards to the pandemic, so it's going to be a tough haul over here for the winter. But we can do our best to keep our spirits up! Last week we talked about holiday crafting with new and upcoming -alongs, and this week I thought we would focus on trying our new classes!

With our current situation, of course, we're pretty much talking online classes for the time being. There might be some in-person opportunities right now, but I know that's much more limited at present. We'll get back there! In the meantime, to try and look at the positives, online classes present a greater variety to choose from, sometimes offering instruction/instructors that you otherwise would not have access to. This winter, I think online classes are an important way to keep our minds engaged, our spirits lifted, and our souls feeling a connection to others. *heart*

For my part, you know how I am with dance. ;-) I love it! Since the summer, I've been taking an online ballet class, which I had not done since I was in my teens. I am finding it challenging in the best way possible! I have even worked my way from Introduction to Ballet to Advanced Beginner ballet, LOL! It's *difficult*, to be sure. I'm using different muscles and movement pathways than I'm used to. But it's absolutely awesome, and a great lift to my week on Tuesday evenings, all from the comfort of my home office. I'm taking the classes via Rosa Noreen's Grace Academy. She's based in Portland, Maine, but via Zoom anyone can access her classes from anywhere in the world! She's an absolutely delightful instructor, and has adorable cats that visit during class, too. :-)

Rosa also teaches belly dance (same link above if you'd like to try an intro class!), which you all know is my very favorite. My local belly dance classes have been back in-person since September, but I've been supplementing with other classes and workshops online as I see them pop up in my social media feeds. Right now, I'm taking a 4 week practice series for November based around slow "gooey" movements with a dancer I admire who lives on the West Coast. Aside from doing time zone math to get the class time right, it's now easy peasy to study with her! It's for 30 minutes a day, Mondays through Thursdays, and I'm loving it. It gets me moving during the week, and focused on technique. It's also inspiring new ideas for me on a slow piece I could work on over the winter.  

If you're at all interested in dance, do some searching online and I bet you'll find an instructor you could study with via Zoom for the winter. It's really kept me going to discover and try out new things this way! Fitness is the same. I take Piyo and Body Sculpt online via Zoom, and my wonderful Zumba instructor offers online classes that I'd love to get back to. I *highly* recommend Zumba dance fitness, and I'm sure you'll be able to find tons of people offering these online right now!

To tie together our themes from the past two weeks. Craftsy offers a slew of online classes for knitting, crocheting, sewing, cake decorating, and more! These are not live classes, but still, an impressive library of possibilities. Is there anything specific you'd like to explore in an online class? Pop your ideas into the comments and we'll see what we can find out online!

Friday, November 6, 2020

It's yarn sale season! And upcoming holiday mystery craft -alongs...

 Happy Friday everybody! I have deemed November to be a Fun Friday month, and each week will post some frivolity about upcoming opportunities in hobbies and enjoyable online classes. I think we could all use more frivolity in our lives of late, yes? This week our topic is CRAFTS! 

πŸ₯³

We do chat about crafts a good deal on this blog, but we don't always focus specifically on mystery -alongs that are tailored to a holiday season, do we? Yes indeed, we need mystery gnomes. And we also need mystery dolls!

If you're a knitter, I think we can agree that you need an Advent Gnome in your life: 


And his name will be Gnutmeg, what more detail could you possibly need?! This Mystery Gnome -Along starts December 1st, and the pattern is available for 50% off through tomorrow (11/7), so do rush over to purchase if you'd like to participate! I chose wintry colors for my Gnutmeg, and I can't wait to get started! He will be knit with fingering weight yarn, for planning purposes.

If you're a crocheter, then you need a Christmas doll to brighten your home this holiday season, I do think this is mandatory. ;-)


I've never made a doll before, so I'm excited to try this one! This pattern is also on sale, in this case until 11/20. It's 50% off until then, which is the day before the MCAL begins! So this one begins in just over 2 weeks, the weekend before American Thanksgiving. The doll's name is Sally, and she will have a holiday theme and outfit!

Since I don't have all of the needed colors in my yarn stash, it is fortuitous timing that Knit Picks is having their annual Big Sale this coming Monday, November 16th. Despite having enough yarn to survive the fallout of the apocalypse (the zombies will all have handknit socks and sweaters ;-)) I look forward to this *every year*. I log onto Ravelry that morning, and sip coffee while participating in the excited chatter in the Knit Picks Lovers group leading up to the sale prices dropping at 9 am EST. Then I partake in the stampede to the best deals on the yarns that I had on my wist list, and in the inevitable impulse buys of new limited edition colors and other goodies. On my list is a nice acrylic in a bunch of colors to make the Christmas doll, plus a scene of Nutcracker figurines, because OF COURSE TIFFANY IS MAKING THAT. 


Oh my gosh, y'all, I am so excited about all of this! πŸ˜ŽπŸŽ… Is anybody joining me in a holiday craft -along? Getting your fast fingers ready for the Knit Picks sale on Monday? I want to hear all about it in the comments!

Friday, October 30, 2020

A Nutcracker Book Club reading list!

 

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that your week went well, I know that it's not exactly easy to keep thinking happy thoughts right now. But we persevere! My teaching has wound down, and I had my last scheduled class of the semester on Wednesday with an evening one that ran until 9:30 pm. There are many more evening classes this semester with most things being remote, which is not my preferred timeslot, but I do what I can to help out. I'm relieved that that is all done for now, and am turning my attention back to things that I've been neglecting since this busy streak began. Some of that is dance, which I'll circle back to next week. And some of that is generally time to mentally and emotionally recharge. And being the dancer/reader/nerd that I am, I do that by watching and reading about The Nutcracker. πŸ˜‚

I've mentioned a number of times how attached I am to the seasonal tradition of going to see a Nutcracker performance with my mom, and with whomever amongst my kids are willing to go. This year, obviously, there will be no live performances, and I've been preparing myself for this reality for months. In anticipation, I gathered up my Nutcracker collection on DVD, and planned a Nutcracker day in which I watched multiple productions of The Nutcracker while knitting and consuming much coffee and breakfast food. This week, I watched the Pacific Northwest Ballet (which has a unique set design constructed by Maurice Sendak of "Little Bear" renown) and the American Ballet Theater rendition, performed by the iconic pairing of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. It was a DELIGHT. I was able to compare and contrast the artistic interpretations within each and generally nerd out on ballet stuff. It inspired me so much that I have the Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet versions lined up to procure from the public library so that I can have another Nutcracker day next week!

This all sparked my curiosity so much that I did some research on the history of The Nutcracker, and now have a little book club reading list set up for myself that I have already embarked on. *halo* Maybe you'd like to join in!


First off, I simply knew that I was remiss in never having read the original "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by EFA Hoffmann. I knew that the story was a bit darker than what ended up being portrayed in the ballet version, but I think I'm up to the challenge! *virtual fist bump* This book is currently on the way to me from Amazon; it contains the original illustrations, and I knew the Kindle version would not do it justice. I am SO EXCITED!


Next up is this gem, and I've had it on my Kindle forever without making it past the first chapter due to Christmas cozy fiction distractions at the critical time of year. This year, it has zoomed up in my queue, and I cannot wait to dive in! This is about the history soley of The Nutcracker, rather than focusing on ballet history more generally. How perfect is that?! This is pretty much the textbook of our little book club. 😁


This one is a re-read, but definitely a delight. It's written in a more accessible memoir style (whereas "Nutcracker Nation" is more academic) and the enthusiasm of the author for all things Nutcracker and ballet -related is infectious. It's a fun one to read just before Nutcracker season. And right now, it is only $1.99 for the Kindle version!

I hope that this list gives you some fun seasonal ideas if you've always enjoyed The Nutcracker as much as I have! It has give me a much needed lift towards the end of this difficult year.

Speaking of, since the pandemic started, I've started taking ballet classes on Zoom, and I have to say...it's HARD, much, much harder than what I remember from when I was a kid! πŸ˜‚And so, as I was re-reading "Raising the Barre" and the author mentions putting off re-starting ballet classes, favoring fitness classes to focus on getting in shape prior to doing so, I held my breath a bit for her, because in my experience the years of lessons many years before as a child does not really give you a leg up on dancing ballet 30+ years hence. But maybe that's just me. πŸ˜† I have been enjoying the challenge *tremendously* though. Some (though not all) forms of dance feel very natural to me, and this includes ballet, but it's a full mind and body experience that a body past a certain age may find a bit vexing. :-0 But very worth it for the increased flexibility I'm noticing in my feet, and the focus on posture and connection to the floor that translates perfect to my Middle Eastern dance. I'm definitely in love!

Who else is a fellow Nutcracker fan out there? Or do you have other Christmas or winter related books to add to our reading list? Perhaps dance books not relating to The Nutcracker? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, October 23, 2020

In a sea of online classes, a bit of happiness emerges...

Happy Friday everyone! This is the end of my busy stretch of teaching, and I have to say the result is a bit different than I expected. And shockingly...it's in a good way!


As I've mentioned before, working from home, and the way that the pandemic has oblitered my former happy life and routine has wrecked a bit of havoc on my mental health. I know that I'm not the only one in this boat, and so we've all just been coping as best we can. In terms of work, I miss my colleagues, I miss the students, I miss my office, I miss the contened hustle and bustle of the campus and the library.  I was not looking foward to teaching solely online.

BUT, I will say that I'm pleasantly surprised by how it all went now that I'm nearly at the end of this very busy two week stretch. The format does have some challenges, to be sure, and I maintain that it is incredibly difficult to connect with people via a screen, and impossible when they do not turn on their cameras (which is their right to do, to be sure). Overall though, despite expecting to feel overwhelmed and stiff from sitting in front of my laptop and teaching all of these assumedly demoralizing classes online, I found that I was...happy. Tired, but energized. I felt busy, but useful. This is the most like my old self I have felt since March. I'd still rather teach in person, but this exceeded my expectations (which were admittedly low, LOL!). And I got to watch Hallmark Channel during my short breaks between sessions, so win/win/

Going into the winter, at least where I live, which has a cold climate, I'm not dreading the long term work from home model like I was before. It feels a bit cozier to be inside and spending less time by myself with the weather turning. I'll take any little bit of hopefulness that I can get, so I'm pleased with this!

In novena news, I finished up the John Paul II novena (and I'm actually sneaking in St. Jude, I just can't help myself!), and tomorrow we will begin the Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory! If you'd like to join in, I created a page for it on the blog. :-)

How are you doing this week, dear reader? Are you looking forward to Halloween and the feasts of All Saints/All Souls? Also, feel free to leave novena intentions in the comments!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Morning routines and LOTS of teaching...

*waves*

Short post today, friends, as I am in my annual fall teaching frenzy, which lasts through next week. Doesn't afford a lot of time for other things during the day, unfortunately! BUT, I mentioned my my Catholic Mom piece for October last week, and it is in fact up and on the site! This month, I chose to write about my attempts to construct a morning routine for myself despite having lost all of my normal pathways due to the pandemic, which has been instrumental to turning my emotional malaise around. 

In other news, my teaching is...going. :-0 It's actually going pretty well, but I'm about to embark on class #18 of the week, if that's any indication of my level of punchy exhaustion. They're all on Zoom, which isn't exactly the funnest thing, but it's what it is. Next week I think I have...11 or 12? It's a bit less bad, but still fairly intense towards the end of the week. I'm planning some fun stuff for after these two weeks are fully over, which I'm excited to write about when I have brain cells back again. I do miss those dear brain cells! They involve dancing, the Nutcracker, and seasonal coffee blends. I bet you're intrigued. 😁

How are you doing, dear reader? Any new books to recommend or fun weekend plans?

Friday, October 9, 2020

New routines, prayer, and identity during the pandemic...


 As I was reflecting on what to write about this week, I realized that on this blog I have barely mentioned the word 'pandemic.' I have alluded to it, obviously, because how could one not? But it's as if speaking the word brings fresh pain into my already battered being. I haven't even created a topical label for it on the blog, because I honestly don't want to be able to go back and filter posts for this topic in the future! Sometimes, I wish that I could erase this entire year from my memory.

Every person on the planet has been affected by the pandemic in different ways, and I am no exception. I'm very grateful that no one I know has become sick, but that definitely does not mean that one has been left unscathed by this global tragedy. For me, the biggest toll has been my emotional and mental health from the isolation, and my concern for my kids, who both showed signs of depression before going back to school this fall. I'm happy to say that they're both doing a lot better, and I'm doing a bit better too, although no where near my usual happy self. But it's improving!

One thing that has been absolutely debilitating to me with my personality is losing my daily routine, in which I found so much comfort. And it's not coming back anytime soon, as I mentioned last week. It may be close to a year before I'm back on campus and in my office. But what I've been trying to do of late is to carve out a new routine for myself for the time being, and that's been a bit easier with my kids being back in school. This is actually my topic in my Catholic Mom piece for October, which will come out early next week, so keep your eyes peeled! :)

One of the ways that I've been trying to carve new rituals is with prayer. I used to always pray the rosary in the car on my commute into work (half on the way in, and finishing up on the ride home), and now I'm working in my kitchen. I could pray the rosary on my lunch break while I sit on the couch, but that just doesn't hold the same appeal to me. Now that I'm working from home, I'm driving my son into school at 8 every morning. With the weather getting cooler, I've taken to going out a few minutes early to warm the car in the driveway for a few minutes before he's going to be ready to come out. One morning, I took my rosary out of it's case and started praying one as I backed the car down out of the garage and waited for Henry. Then I continued as I drove home after dropping him off. It's not a long ride, but I still got though the opening prayers and a full decade by time I pulled back into our driveway. Getting started like this then motivates me to seek out other opportunities during the day to sneak in decades, like if I have to drive to dance later (we're back in person, horray!). I may or may not finish an entire rosary, but I still count this as a huge win, and it's doing wonders for my contentedness level. 

The other prayer routine I've developed lately is novenas using the Pray app, and as I'm sure you've noticed, I've been praying a lot more novenas than usual! But the push notifications from the app are lending a serene feel to my mornings when I see that little cross icon come up and I pray the daily prayers. It's giving some much needed structure to my prayer life, and solace to my days. Right now, I'm praying the St. Teresa of Avila novena, and St. John Paul II starts Tuesday with the page up and ready on the blog!

My intentions for the St. Teresa novena relate to peace and patience with work for the next two weeks, as I'm entering our busy teaching season, and it's all virtual this semester, which I find very challenging. So I'm just going to take it one day at a time! Teaching, in my experience, is a bit like performing, and I love performing. All of that, for the time being, is online only, and this has definitely contributed to my malaise these long seven months. There is no energy, no connection with your audience, when you're online. But it's temporary, and I'm just trying to get through it while doing the best I can with it. 

After my teachinig is done, I'm going to focus back on dance more, which I'm excited about. I feel like the changes that the pandemic has wrought has made me feel like some alternate version of Tiffany, and not my real self. I'm certain a lot of you feel that way, too. I miss my old life, my old self. The older I've gotten, I've actually enjoyed my life more, and have more confidence in myself. Since March though, that has all been missing, and I've been struggling big time. I'm trying to climb back into my old identity, but it hasn't been easy. Starting a new dance project will definitely help out with that, and I'll devote an entire post to that in a few weeks. :)

How is everyone's novenas going? Have you struggled with lack of routine since the pandemic started? I'd love to hear from you in the comments. *heart*

Friday, October 2, 2020

Next novena upcoming! And more cozy fiction...

Hello all, and TGIF! I was going to start a St. Therese novena on her feast day, but decided instead to forge ahead into upcoming October feast days. There are a couple of great ones this month, and I thought we could pray them together, and we'll only overlap on a day or two, hee hee! Our next novena will start on Tuesday, and will be praying along with St. Teresa of Avila!


She is officially the patron of headache sufferers, and of writers, and can also be an asset for intentions regarding faith and contemplative spirituality. The novena begins on Tuesday, and like before, I have the prayers listed on a page within the blog found on the main navigation menu for both desktop and mobile. :)

Beginning October 13th, I'm going to be praying the novena to St. John Paul II. I'll create a page for that one too next week, we'll still be finishing up with St. Teresa, but I don't think this will be too onerous. Two days of double novena prayers! For those with the Pray app, both of these are on there, though St. Teresa is premium. :-0 I think I'm going to actually become one of their patrons so that I have acces to all of their novenas. It's only $15 a year to support their work, which I do truly love!

By time we finish up with JPII, it'll be later October, and then we can plan for November. I feel a St. Cecilia situation coming on! And maybe Holy Souls in Purgatory! 

*virtual high five*

As it's been a bit of a stressful week, planning for these novenas has been a happy distraction. Also a happy distraction is my current cozy mystery:


This is book 1 in the Amish Matchmaker series, and book 2 comes out December 1st, so it's a perfect time to dive into this one! I've had it on my Kindle for awhile, and am so glad that I'm finally getting to it, it's delightful! You all know how much I love Amish fiction, and this one also features quilting and 2 goats, what could be better?! :-0

Between minding a pair of rambunctious goats, meetings with her quilting circle, and matchmaking, Millie Fisher has plenty to keep her busy through her golden years. But the witty widow always makes time to solve the odd murder . . .
 
Some Amish men don’t know what’s good for them. That’s what Millie Fisher told herself when young Ben Baughman set his heart on marrying Tess Lieb. With Tess’s father refusing to give his blessing and Tess’s ex-boyfriend being a wet blanket, the hapless couple was bound to butt heads more than Millie’s Boer goats. But when Ben tragically dies in a mysterious fire, Millie wonders if someone in her hometown of Harvest, Ohio, wanted Ben out of the wedding picture altogether . . . 
With the help of her quilting buddies, and her outspoken Englischer friend Lois, Millie is determined to patch together all the clues without even dropping a stitch. She only hopes it won’t be the death of her . . .

What are you reading these days? Are you planning to join in the upcoming October novenas? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, September 25, 2020

A perpetual novena? And misadventures with Zoom...

Hello all, and I hope that your week is wrapping up nicely. πŸ€— I feel stressed, no big surprise, but hanging in. Things at both schools are still going well, and I guess (?) I've adjusted to working from home. It helps not having the kids here to entertain at the same time, to be sure. But the other side of the coin is that I'm lonely. I like going to my office, and seeing my colleagues. I miss them, and I miss the students. But we've been told to be prepared to not be back on campus for another year. I have to admit that I didn't take that news so well. I've felt down all week. This is all just so unnatural. I'm doing the best I can.

To top it all off, I started my teaching this week, and this year it's all on Zoom. Nothing like demoralizing bouts of screenshare fails and non-responsive audio to make a girl feel special. :-0 I did not enjoy it, to be sure. I will say that the second class went much better than the first. I got the sound issue fixed, and I experimented more with the screensharing ahead of time to troubleshoot the problems I was having and became much more adept with it. It still feels weird to only communicate with people through a screen, but it was a bit less bad. For now, I think that's as good as it's going to get.

To cheer me, I've been novena'ing up a storm. My piece over at Catholic Mom this month is about potential novenas for fall/winter 2020 (feast days that don't fall on Sundays being my criteria), and I'm pretty much planning to start a new one anytime I finish one up. I'm currently praying the St. Jerome novena, and I ended up adding in the archangels. I have the Pray novena app on my phone, and it sent me a notification about that one, so I figured, what the heck? It pushes the prayers to me every day, so it makes that one incredibly easy. If you do not already have that app, I highly recommend it! After we wrap up St. Jerome/archangels, I will be wanting to start a new one. I'll let you know which one I decide on! If you have a recommendation for early October, please let me know!

 I wanted to pray the St. Therese novena, and maybe *start* on her feast day rather than conclude on it. Thoughts? Or maybe we could select another from the list. Let me know what you think, along with how you're doing, in the comments!

Friday, September 18, 2020

St. Jerome novena starts Monday! And a few other prayerful life musings...

 


Hello friends and happy Friday! I'm so excited that we're starting our first community novena of the fall/winter season this year with St. Jerome on Monday! All of the deets and prayers are in the special page that I created for the novena, also linked at the top of the blog (desktop) or as an option on the drop down menu (mobile). St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians and biblical scholars, and is also a great patron for students. If you have any special intentions that you would like the community to pray for, please leave them in the comments! :-)

For my part, I've been doing a lot of praying for my kids as their first full week of school wraps up. So far so good, but it's early days yet, for sure. Anne, in particular, seems SO HAPPY to be back to school, and she really loves her teacher and classroom this year. I don't even know how she's in 4th grade, as she still seems like my little baby to me. 😒 But during the spring and summer after everything shut down, I have never seen Anne so distressed and downright lethargic. And for a 9 year old, that is very worrying. Now, she gets up in the mornings very content and ready to get on with her day, whereas before she was sleeping way too much, and just languishing on the couch in her free time. With both Mike and I working from home, it was difficult to divide our time between attending to those reponsibilities, and also trying to keep the kids engaged and off of their electronic devices. It was such a nightmare, it's hard for me to even think back on it now. Needless to say, I'm so happy to see her thriving again! And Henry seems content, too, albeit in a quieter way, as teenagers are wont to do. He had an easier time adjusting to remote school back in the spring, as would be expected given the difference in their ages. But still, he's up and ready to head to school in the mornings now, in a good mood. It's heartwarming to see. 

In other big news, I am back to IN PERSON dance class again, after 6 months of online only, and I cannot fully express how good it feels. I'm grateful that I got to continue my training and learning in the midst of the nightmare that was the lockdown, plus I got to study with some internationally known instructors that I normally would not have been able to access due to geographic location. So those things were good, but still, it was *not the same* and there can be no meaningful level of correction in a group online-only setting. Not to mention how much I missed my troupemates and dancey friends. The disruption to normal socializing that this virus has wrought has been brutal for my mental and emotional health, as I'm sure it has for everyone. So I'm very, very happy to be getting back into a dance routine that involves rehearsing in the physical studio! 

Performing is still pretty unknown right now, which is an enormous bummer. As I've gotten older, I have come to treasure performing as an important part of my identity. I've been in some online shows, and while I'm SO grateful for those opportunities, those are also not the same as performing in front of a live audience. There is no energy to feed off of, no connection to make with other humans while you dance. I'm hoping small parties will be happening again soon, but the restaurant scene has just been hit so hard by all of this, I don't know when that will come back. The capacity limits plus the money they have lost make that unlikely for quite some time. We'll see, I suppose, I'm just trying to think positive. And we support our local restaurants with takeout orders every single week!

How is everyone else doing this week? It does actually feel like a new leaf is turning over this fall, yes, even in the midst of our larger global situation. What new things are you embarking on this September? :-) And don't forget to leave prayer intentions in the comments! 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Planning seasonal novenas...

Well, my kids are both at school as I write this. And I'm feeling pretty weepy. 

😭

They're both happy and secure. It's going very well. I was afraid that the adjustment this year would be much more daunting than usual because of the way things so abruptly closed back in March. But this is the best start to the school year we have ever had. Both seem happy to be back to a routine, and like their teachers. One day at a time, but I'll take it. I'm still feeling emotional, but that's just me. :-0

Given all of this, our novena chat (that I mentioned last week) couldn't possibly be better timed. 

   

What I'm going to do this year is pray 1-2 novenas every month this fall and winter. I'm going to start listing them in a separate page on the blog again, so that anyone who would like can see which one I'm planning to pray, and can join in if they like! It will be the tab listed on the far right if you're using a larger computer or laptop, or will be the last item on the drop down menu list via mobile. For September, I am planning to pray the St. Jerome novena. This will begin on Monday September 21st, and finish up on his feast day of September 30th. St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians, biblical scholars and students! All of the information and prayers will be up on the St. Jerome page.


After we finsh that one, I think I will pray the St. Therese novena, beginning *on* her feast day of October 1st, to break things up a bit. ;-) And I'll post a new page with her information on it as soon as we finish up St. Jerome! Sound like a plan?

Are you joining in the St. Jerome novena? Or have other novena plans this fall? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, September 4, 2020

A reading list as we head into Labor Day weekend...

Happy early September all, and somehow we are moving into the weekend that heralds the unofficial end of summer. I will grant, this was the most emotionally exhausting summer of my life, and I'm thinking you all feel the same. I will admit to feeling a bit discouraged at this time. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much because there is literally nothing I can do about it that I'm not already doing. And getting myself re-upset is not helping me or anybody else. So I'm trying. 

I've been reading more, and as a librarian and lifetime lover of books, I realized how much I had gotten away from it since the pandemic started, yet how valuable it is for my mental health. It's like my brain has a harder time shutting real life down now so that I can escape to my happy cozy fiction worlds. I've been making more of an effort to do that, and keeping up with these little reading lists here on the blog is motivating me to keep moving through my Kindle queue (which is CONSIDERABLE :-0). 

So this week I finished Botched Butterscotch (which was a novella, so super short! Very cute too, involved a theft, not a murder), and embarked on the next book in the series (the newest installment!), which is Marshmallow Malice:


Caught in a sticky situation . . . 

With Juliet Brody and Reverend Brook tying the knot in Ohio’s Amish Country’s most anticipated nuptials of the year, Bailey King is determined to do everything in her power to make the event a sweet success. Except midsummer heat waves and outdoor ceremonies don’t mix, and an exasperated Bailey soon finds herself struggling to fulfill bridesmaid duties and keep her stunning marshmallow-frosted wedding cake from becoming a gooey disaster. Then much to everyone’s shock, the entire ceremony crumbles when a guest drops dead, and the cause isn’t sunstroke . . . 

Turns out, the uninvited victim came equipped with lots of dirt on the devout reverend’s hidden past. As Reverend Brook tops the murder suspect list on what should have been the happiest day of his life, Bailey and her sheriff’s deputy boyfriend vow to clear his name. Can the duo boil down a series of baffling clues before Juliet considers her marriage a bad mistake—or the killer whips up another deadly surprise? 

Recipe Included!

This book is just delightful. I love the setting and the characters. I'm already about 25% of the way through! 

Also this week, I have a new download, which is Grilled for Murder (a Country Store Mystery)


Robbie Jordan may have had reservations about the murder victim, but she still needs to turn up the heat on a killer if she wants to keep her new restaurant open for business . . .

In the charming small town of South Lick, Indiana, Robbie has transformed a rundown country store into the runaway hit Pans ’N Pancakes. But the most popular destination for miles around can also invite trouble. Erica Shermer may be the widow of handsome local lawyer Jim Shermer’s brother, but she doesn’t appear to be in mourning. At a homecoming party held in Robbie’s store, Erica is alternately obnoxious and flirtatious—even batting her eyelashes at Jim. When Erica turns up dead in the store the next morning, apparently clobbered with cookware, the police suspect Robbie’s friend Phil, who closed up after the party. To clear Phil and calm her customers, Robbie needs to step out from behind the counter and find the real killer in short order . . .

This is just $1.99 right now for Kindle, and I found out about it via the Kindle Daily Deals newsletter, so if you're not signed up for those already, you may want to consider doing so. ;-) I love finding new books for less than $2!

Are you reading anything new this week? Have any plans for Labor Day weekend? I'm planning to plot our fall community novenas next week, so stay tuned for next Friday's post on that topic! :-)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Cozy wraps and cozy mysteries as we move towards fall...

Happy Friday everyone, it's hard to believe that it's the end of August, but here we are. I wish I could say that I felt like September will be better, but I don't think that it will, and all we can do at this point is keep up our spirits and sense of humor about it! :-0 The semester starts at the university for which I work on Monday, but all of my classes will be totally online. I'm actually rather sad about it, but it is what it is. I miss my colleagues so much, and I'll miss the students. At least I'll be home (working, but still home) if the kids need to be home from school. We'll try focusing on the positives!

I've definitely been working on lots of happy distractions lately, and I hope you have as well! My autumn quilted bird bag from Bradford Exchange arrived this week, and looking at it immediately lifts my spirits:

Just look at those cute blue jay crests!

And, as ever, I've been crafting. This week, I finished a wrap for my good friend Emily, and this pattern is just super cozy!

Pattern is Perfect Pockets Shawl

Unfortunately, it's been so humid that I was sweltering when I took this photo :-0 but soon it'll be time for cozy wraps, and now Emily will be all set! If you crochet, even if you're a beginner, you'll be able to make this wrap! YouTube is our friend, and I had to watch a video on the wrapped stitch that appears in this pattern, but after that I was good to go. :)

I'm also back to my cozy mysteries, and becoming absorbed in the universe of the Amish Candy Shop series by Amanda Flower is exactly what the doctor ordered right about now. There are a number of books in the series, and my current position is with this Mother's Day themed installment:


After this is the very newest book, "Marshmallow Malice," so let the candy shop antics reign on! 

This week I was also chatting with my friend Irena, who mentioned this book:

...which immediately went onto my Amazon wish list for Christmas, hee hee. Book recommendations always stimulate my mind and creativity! Do you have any new books that you've read recently, or that are in your queue, to add to our list? Pop them into the comments! :-)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Early fall novenas, and knitted gnomes and garments that are no longer a mystery!

Hello all, and I hope that you are having a wonderful week! It's a week of novenas on my end, and I have to say that I am enjoying it so, so much. I finished up Our Lady Undoer of Knots on Sunday, and I think I already have the answers to the questions I was praying about (not necessarily the ones I was hoping for in all cases, but answers are answers, yes?). I also started St. Monica on Tuesday. I had forgotten that her feast is in late August, and I absolutely love this one! I pray for conversions of heart back to faith, and it always gives me so much solace. Coming up in the early part of autumn, we have the archangels (Sept. 29th), St. Jerome (patron saint of librarians, Sept. 30th), St. Therese (Oct. 1st), and guardian angels (October 2nd). It's a wealth of riches! I think I'm going to start updating and publishing the novenas tab on the blog again, with what novena I'm currently praying and the link to the relevant prayers. Look for that to start again in September if you'd like to follow along. :-)

Speaking of prayer, both of my kids are slated to go back to school full time in early September. Since they go to Catholic schools, the lower numbers of enrolled kids means that they can accommodate the health mandates more easily. My kids really miss their school environments, and so I'm happy it worked out this way, although I'm worried about how it will go and if it will last. All we can do at this point is pray for the best! My teaching this semester will be mostly, if not all, online, which I'm a little sad about, but we'll get there.

To distract myself, I've been crafting, as per my pandemic usual. ;-) The mystery gnome that I was knitting is no longer a mystery, so meet the new member of the family!

Pattern is Nice to Gnome You

He is currently frolicking with our house plants, and I'm just so pleased with how he came out! This is my first gnome, and apparently there is a whole gnome crafting universe out there, WHO KNEW?! I am totally into this now. This designer specializes in knitted gnomes. Did you ever? And her next gnome MKAL (mystery knit-along) will take place during Advent.

😱

I literally cannot wait! I'm so excited for this!

I also finished the red cotton top that I was knitting for my mother-in-law:

Pattern is Kelda Tee

I kinda wanted to keep it :-0, but I managed to resist. But not before purchasing yarn to make one for myself in another colorway. ;-)

I'm also hard at work on my Advent doily:

Pattern is Wispweave Oval

This one is just SO PRETTY. The pattern is definitely a bit challenging for a beginning doily crocheter like myself, but so far the progress is good, albeit slow. I just love the different textures that this design is forming! I'm thinking I can use it for under our Advent wreath. The border is going to be silver. 😍

Do you have any novena plans coming up this fall? What is your September looking like? I know it doesn't look like it usually does for any of us! I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Knitting mystery gnomes, and other crafty delights...

Happy Friday everyone, and I hope your week was smashing! Well, I know a lot of things are decidedly NOT smashing right now, at least not in a good way. ;-) But I think things are slowly getting better, and we've gotta hang on to that positivity!

*virtual high five!*

Thank you for all of the lovely comments about Anne's 1st Communion! Even though the backdrop was not one I could have ever foreseen, it was a beautiful day, and I truly thought of all of you and your encouragement on that day! It just meant the world to me. πŸ’—

This week I have been CRAFTY, and I've been promising a crafty post! Here we go. 😎 I've been working on a cotton top for my mother-in-law, and I'm almost finished!

Pattern is Kelda Tee from the Knit Picks Equinox Cotton Collection

Just have to finish the second sleeve, pickup and knit the neckline, and weave in what feels like 533 ends despite it all being a single color. :-0 This was a quick knit, and I highly recommend this collection! All of the designs are just stunning.

And DOILYS, who isn't excited about this one?! I've been promising that I would show the comparison photo of the 2 doilys that I made in the same pattern, one with size #3 thread, and one with size #10, and here it is:

Pattern is Simple Beginners Doily

Size #10 is the more traditional of the two for crochet thread, and it lends a less chunky feel for sure, but I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the larger #3 thread. It was a bit easier for me to see and work with, too. I've added a few more colors in that size to my collection. πŸ˜‡

Going to make an Advent doily!

And in other exciting doily news:

Pattern is Ariel Snowflake

My first snowflake! This is the #10 thread, and it was HARD. πŸ˜‚ But I'm glad I persevered, I'm happy with how it turned out! Although our snowflake friend does seem to be leaning into the breeze a bit, but hey, nobody's perfect. ;-) I'm thinking of making these as coaster sets for Christmas gifts!

But the thing I'm most excited about this week is this in-progress guy:

Nice to Gnome You MKAL

Yes, I'm knitting a gnome! My very first gnome, to be exact. I'm in love with him, don't tell Mike. πŸ˜‚ And, AND it's a MYSTERY GNOME! Have you ever heard of anything quite this fun before? I'm betting you have not. ;-)

Every 2 days you receive a clue with instructional videos, and I am finding this process to be just an absolute kick. I'm currently working on clue 5, which is pretty far in advance of this photo, because I want to keep the mystery alive for anybody who may want to mystery gnome -along with me. :-0 I cannot even tell you the lift this has given me. Mystery gnomes, did you ever? Every pandemic needs a mystery gnome!

All right, how was your week? I finished up the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena today, and it was absolutely delightful. I'm starting St. Monica on Tuesday, anybody want to join me?! Let's leave our intentions in the comments!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Making a lovely milestone out of pandemic challenges...

Happy August, everyone! I was going to chat about crafty things today, after updating everyone about Anne's First Communion, but I decided to save crafts for next week, and devote this whole post to the big day last Sunday, and to assorted other Catholic, uplifty things. 

*heart*

As I mentioned last week, I was grateful that Anne's school parish was able to reschedule First Communion this summer, and that we wouldn't have to wait any longer. But let's just be honest, the current coronavirus restrictions are a bit of a bummer. We understand why they are there, but any type of milestone this year has had a depressing cloud hung over it's head, and it's not always easy to deal with. BUT, Anne was able to be with 7 of her classmates at the mass, and also have her grandparents there, which was absolutely awesome. Dianne noted last week in the comments that focusing on the positives really helps, and she's right! There were a lot of positives about the experience. 

Anne in her dress and veil before mass!


The day was very humid (and we don't have air conditioning! :-0) but we managed to yank on our dress clothes fairly successfully and made it to the church on time. There were 8 first communicants, plus other members of the parish attending the noon mass. The mass itself was lovely, we were so glad to have our parents there, and there was a professional photographer present to capture a few moments with each young communicant, which made me very happy. The children were all able to receive the Eucharist for the first time in a beautiful and reverent fashion.

Social distancing photo op with Father

Afterwards, we were able to have our parents back with us to our house for pizza and cake, and it all went very well. Even though it wasn't the completely traditional experience I was looking forward to, I'm grateful that Anne has reached this milestone and that it went without a hitch. I think her preparation suffered a bit because of the pandemic, and I'm looking forward to working with her this fall and Advent to grow deeper in her faith. 

In other Catholic news, the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena started yesterday, and I'm praying it with regards to discernment for the fall and the kids' schooling. I'm linking it here if you would like to join in! It'll wrap up on the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe. 😍 If you have intentions for the novena, feel free to leave them below and we can all pray for each other!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Some musings as Anne makes her First Communion...

Hello all, and happy end of July!

*virtual hug*

July is my least favorite month of the year in terms of the heat, so I'm rather looking forward to August. What I'm *not* looking forward to in August is the school re-opening plan nightmare that is already unfolding and that is making me super anxious. But that is a worry for another day. :-0

I'll have another crafty post next week (with some exciting updates; 2nd completed doily and thread size comparison! Completed Steelers socks!) but this week I have 1st Communion on the brain, and thought I would wax reflective a bit. :)

Anne is my baby, and it's hard to believe that this will be my last child with whom to share this sacrament. I can't help but feel chagrined that it's happening during this terrible year that is 2020. There was no mommy and me retreat, no May Crowning at the school afterwards, no rehearsal at the church with the banner displayed that we made together, not even a completion to her preparation alongside her classmates. Even though I know that these things are not more important than receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, I can't help but mourn them. I won't have another opportunity to share any of those things with my own child. This has been a year of emotional losses such as these, and while there are other losses that are much, much worse, these still do incite a sense of sadness.

But I'm grateful that the school found a way, within the current public health mandates, to still offer the mass and sacrament, and to do so relatively quickly. I was fearful that the kids would have to wait until the fall, or perhaps into the next calendar year, before they would be able to receive. And we will have the opportunity for beautiful photographs, and to have Anne's grandparents all there. She'll be attired in her spectacular lace dress and veil, and she picked out sparkly rose gold sandals (there's a definite St. Therese vibe to the get up ;-)). We'll be able to celebrate with our small family group back at our home afterwards, and that is bringing me a lot of comfort. So I'm focusing on those things.

Anne is at an age where "church is boring," and I'm hopeful that receiving the Eucharist will begin to turn her heart towards a more mature (relatively speaking) form of faith. I'm praying about this non-stop, and her recent feast day makes me feel that God will answer this prayer. If you would all pray for her too, especially at noon EDT this Sunday, I would be so obliged!

I'll let you know how it goes next week! Until then, let's move forward into August with hopeful spirits. I'm also going to be penning a Catholic Mom article next week. You have any topics you'd like to see me write about? Chime in in the comments!

Friday, July 24, 2020

The kids gain a small sense of normalcy, and summertime crafting continues...

Hello all and I hope that your week has gone well! Ours here actually gained back a bit of a sense of normalcy with the kids having actual activities to do, yay! Henry has been working at his Catholic high school to earn money towards his tuition, and Anne has had Girl Scout camp, both virtual and one day of in-person. She's also back to her martial arts classes, in-person, and this is all helping her so much, as she was struggling with everything just being online. It's been more running around, ferrying the two of them places, but it has felt SO GOOD for them to have real socializing with their peers, and to see more smiles on their faces this week.

In other good news, twin baby robins have hatched in our backyard! We've been having such a wonderful time watching them grow. No pictures, as Mama Robin is very protective and is never far from the nest. Anytime we're back there, she's giving us the hairy eyeball from a perch atop the power lines. πŸ˜‚ She and Father Robin also "escort" any other bird or squirrel out of the yard that happen to wander in. :-0 It's provided hours of entertainment out our back window, to be sure.

I've also been continuing my crafting quests, and made great progress this week. My mother-in-law's summer top is coming along beautifully:


I kind of want to keep it for myself, but I'll try and restrain. ;-) I'm on the second of Mike's Steelers socks:


And Dianne asked about how my crochet thread was working out, and so I rembered to post a photo of my very first doily!

Pattern is Simple Beginner's Doily, and is available for free!
I'm very pleased with how this came out! I did use one of the skeins that is size #3 thread (thicker than the others are at size #10), sort of a training wheels approach, if you will. Now I'm going to make one with the thinner thread. But this looks great on our table! Really brightens things up. I've never been particularly into doilies, they seemed lacking in purpose to me or something like that :-0, but I appreciate how they cheer up a surface. I think we could all use a little cheer this summer, yes?
I'm plotting lots of these for gifts, and also some cotton dishtowels and cloths. I'll post pictures as I make things!

In Catholic news, I'm currently finishing up the St. Anne novena, and my Anne makes her first communion next weekend! What I ended up doing last weekend was taking just Henry to Mass, and this weekend I'll take Anne. It's definitely an easing in process with the kids, after them being away from Mass for so long. But we're getting there. I tried to use the car ride to talk to Henry about faith stuff, and I'll do the same with Anne this Saturday. In this way I can single the kids out a bit for individual faith attention. Pray for me! :-0

How is your week going, dear reader? Chat with you soon!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Crafty summertime continues, and getting the kids back to mass...

Hello all!

*group hug*

I hope that your week went well. Things are good here, with the heat dying down, and everyone enmeshed in a new summer routine. It's been so hard on the kids being isolated for these months, and happily, each are starting to have more and more things to do. Henry has a summer reading list for school that he's working through, and he's signed up to do some work study at his Catholic high school next week, plus some service hours in early August. Anne has been attending the summer tutoring that her school is providing, and she has Girl Scout camp next week (mostly virtual, but with 1 day of distanced in-person archery, seems pretty natural in that environment, hee!). We also booked a family road trip in August that we're all excited about. It's still within our state, so not too far, but would provide an opportunity for hiking and some other historic site seeing in a place we've never been to before. We're also looking into a fall foliage getaway in the fall, which I have *always* wanted to do, and never have. It's SO NICE to have things to look forward to again!

I did go back to mass again last weekend. Father was away, and so it was a Communion service led by our deacon. There were more people there, up to just over 40 from 26 the week before, and while it all still feels pretty awkward, I can feel it getting a little better each week. I long for the day that we no longer have to do these things, and that the virus is no longer causing sickness and death, but in the meantime, I'm happy we're able to go back to doing the things that we love in some form. And my new missal is still totally rocking my world. :-0

This weekend, I plan to take the kids back with me. 😬 It's been awhile, and I know I'm going to encounter resistance and some sassiness, but it needs to be done. Please pray for us, and that the children long to receive Jesus in the Eucharist! Anne, in particular, needs to prepare to receive her 1st communion in a few weeks. I may take 1 kid this weekend, and 1 the next, so that we can chat and have some one-on-one time that may make for better catechesis as well as more willingness on their part.

In other news, my crafting fever continues unabated, and it has brought me so much comfort over the course of this lockdown. I think I mentioned that I finished my Journey shawl, but I finally wove in all the ends and blocked it:


SUPER pleased with how it turned out! And I finished a pair of socks for myself in a colorway modeled after BB8:

Pattern is Vanilla Latte Socks, available for free!

Cute, yes? I LOVE handknit socks. Granted, I don't really get to wear them in the summer, but come fall, my feet will be comfy and toasty! In the spirit of gifting, I cast on a pair for Mike in Pittsburgh Steelers colors:

they double as bublebee socks ;-)
I'm hoping that we still get NFL football this fall, but as with all things right now, we'll have to wait and see. My big project for holiday gifting, I have determined, is to make items out of crochet thread. I have never used crochet thread before, and have been bitten by the doily bug. :-0 So I'm thinking yes, doilies, but also coasters, placemats, other types of kitcheny items. I'm participating in a crochet -along for crochet thread, and as you can see, it has me all inexplicably excited. Who gets excited about crochet thread and doilies? Well, now you know. πŸ˜‚

And so, armed with a coupon code and a gift card, I placed a small order for crochet thread:

Knit Picks Curio #10
OK, you know me by this point, so you are not surprised that I don't do things that I'm excited about in a small way, yes? :-0 I was overwhelmed by all of the gorgeous colors, it's not my fault! Holiday colors, check, but also autumnal colors, because OF COURSE, and then needed neutrals, and then colors that match kitchens...and well, you might as well just order the value pack at that point and call it a day, which is exactly what I did. The value pack was 20% off, and combined with the coupon code and the gift card, I paid $2, SCORE! This was the most fun I had opening a package in a long, long time. I also got some badly needed new sock needles, a tiny stuffed alpaca for Anne, and a few other skeins of sock yarn in wintry tweed colors that I had been eyeing. It was a good, good day.

Maybe I'll do a doily update post next week, because I have so many fun ideas for those, and there are tons of good free patterns out there! I know you're as excited about this post as I am. ;-)

That's how I've been keeping busy this July, how about you? Also, the St. Anne novena starts today if you'd like to join in! Feel free to leave prayer intentions in the comments. Mine is for my Anne's upcoming 1st Communion, please and thank you!

*another hug*

Friday, July 10, 2020

Returning to mass, and navigating a heat wave...

Hello all and happy Friday! I've had a week full of actual STUFF, shocking, I know. :-0 And I thought I would fill you in. Grab your coffee!

Yes, I'm still drinking coffee despite it being a thousand degrees here for the past week. OK, maybe not *quite* that hot, but it feels quite close to that. I live in a mostly cold weather climate, and thus a lot of people here do not have centrally air conditioned homes, including us. So heat is very unpleasant. And this week, we've set a record: 7 days in a row so far (today projected to be the 8th) of temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Farenheit, with yesterday topping out the week at 98. Around here, that might as well be the Surface of the Sun. πŸ˜‚ We are blessed to have window a/c units for our bedrooms, though not for the rest of the house. Taking my dance and fitnes classes in our home office has been occasion of melting for me this week. It's kept things interesting, to be sure. We've actually fared pretty well until yesterday, when everyone just felt lethargic and vaugely ill all day. We've taken the kids out to places that do have a/c: the public library, local coffee shop, and also on a wooded hike to look for birds. It's actually been quite lovely in it's own way. A summer family adventure!

In other big news, I went back to mass for the first time since the pandemic started (nearly 4 months)! I went to the vigil mass, figuring it would be a pretty small turnout to test the waters, and I was right: even counting Father, 2 ushers and the music minister, there were 26 people present. And our church is HUGE. The restrictions were pretty much what I expected, and I think all are prudent at this time. In my personal opinion, I would rather have less tape on the floor and pews (I can ascertain how to stay physically distant from others without it) but I suppose I can see the other side of this, that the parish wants to assure they are doing absolutely everything they can. Everyone was wearing a mask, which is the proper course of things right now, and very doable for an hour.

After I sat down, I excitedly paged through my new missal and got the ribbons all situated. I had heard that some churches were not letting you bring in your own missal (and the paper missalettes are all removed from the pews, I think this is pretty standard everywhere right now), and I was going to be sad if that was the case for me, because I thrive in being able to follow along visually with the readings and prayers. Happily, bringing your own missal was not an issue at my parish.


Isn't it beautiful?! I set up my ribbons for the prayers of the liturgy and the readings of the day, one just to keep track of those wily Prefaces, one for the calendar, and the last one for the Proper of Saints. I was IN LOVE. I've subscribed to magazines like Magnificat and Living with Christ for as long as I can remember, or I've had the small annual St. Joseph's Sunday missal. This is my first daily missal, and it's sheer heft excites me. 😁

So, mass started, and while everything feels a bit awkward with the necessary restrictions, it was very, very beautiful. Receiving the Eucharist again for the first time in nearly 100 days was...emotional. I haven't gone without receiving for that long since I fell away from my faith in graduate school (and that was 2 decades ago!). The only part I didn't love was that we were rushed out of our pews to comply with the one-way markings for dismissal. When it was your pew's turn to leave, you literally had to leave, no lingering to pray for a few extra minutes. :-0 I could have lived without that, but nothing is perfect, and the parish is just doing the best they can to hold public masses while complying with necessary public health precautions.

I didn't bring the kids. I wanted to scope things out a bit on my own so that I can tell them what to expect. I'm also going to be honest and say that it's not going to be easy to drag them back to mass after not going for all of these months. They are at ages where "church is boring," and I get it, as that's exactly how I felt, too, when I was their age. So I'm working on that. I'm undecided as to whether I'll bring them this Saturday, or wait until next weekend. But we *finally* got word about First Communion, and Anne will be making hers on August 2nd!! I'm SO EXCITED, and so is she. I'm planning to use the weeks leading up to this to share tidbits with her about receiving to try and stoke her hunger to receive Jesus, and hopefully this will lead to a softening about attending mass again.

I've also been trying to keep my spiritual spirits up by delighting in my new St. Dymphna rosary!

Rosaries by Allison on Etsy
Isn't it beautiful? St. Dymphna is the patron saint of those suffering from anxiety and depression. St. Dymphna, please pray for us! In your charity, please keep my kids in your prayers that the Lord will light a fire in their hearts for their faith. Thank you!

Have you returned to in-person mass? If not, how is your experience going with the streaming mass options? How are you holding up in the July heat? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!