Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween plans, and speaking of podcasts to listen to...

Happy Thursday everyone! I'm in a good mood today, as you may be able to tell, because once again, as Anne would say: "I sleeped!" We had some pre-bedtime sassiness, but overall we've developed a nice routine of getting her ready and soothingly talking about hugging her new stuffed dog (whom Anne has christened "Dan") if she wakes up when it's still dark out. So far, so good. I'm hoping that I haven't set forth an avalanche of tantrumy activity by writing that outright, but I'm choosing to live dangerously. ;-)

Tomorrow is Halloween, and also 7 Quick Takes Friday, so I'm planning a themed edition. I have photos of both children in their costumes to include - I always secure those before the day itself, since there is no guarantee that the toddler/preschool aged child will willing put their chosen costume on their actual body prior to trick-or-treating. We've been burned by this in the past. :0 I also have a link to my favorite Halloween post of all time (think: Anne taking out an entire porch row of potted mums and a poor fiber optic vampire), and amusing details of the way Mike and I handle doling out candy duty vs. taking the kids around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat (think: specific alcoholic selections). As well, I have an All Saints Day dance performance update, and some information about an upcoming Catholic YA fiction title that I am tremendously excited about!

So, good stuff ahead. But going back for a moment to my post from yesterday, in which I mentioned a podcast that I listen to faithfully, Catholic Vitamins. I listen to a slew of Catholic podcasts, most of them affiliated with SQPN, but not exclusively. I adore them.

I do, though, listen to a few secular podcasts, one of which is new and I have become so obsessed with it that I thought I'd mention it. And that is the new spinoff of This American Life, (which I also listen to) called Serial.


 As the name implies, it's a single story told week-by-week, and so the episodes are designed to be listened to in order. Season 1 chronicles the following story, as excerpted from their website:

"On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae's body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she's been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators' notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence - all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers."

Oh my goodness. It is SO GOOD. Fascinating, fascinating stuff. If true crime and legal cases interest you, take a listen, you won't regret it. The new episodes come out on Thursdays, and this morning I was tripping over my own feet to synch my iPod and download the new one.

All right, talk to you all tomorrow with all of the Halloween-y details. :) Have a good day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WE FINALLY SLEPT! And sacred journeys...

It was a bit of a scene convincing Anne to use the restroom prior to getting into bed last night (vodka tonic mixed *immediately* thereafter), but it was worth it. Because...

SHE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! And all I have to say about that is:

We needed that SO badly. All of us were exhausted and cranky. Including Anne. ;-) She got up this morning all pink-cheeked and chirpy, kissing everybody and eating her breakfast happily with nary a cup of orange juice thrown about in a fit of temper. She even got dressed without sobbing and throwing her body to the floor. It was blissful.

Hence, *I* was feeling happy and awake as I got ready for work this morning, and guess what I listened to while I did so? The Catholic Vitamins podcast, and this week's episode "Catholic Vitamin S - Sacred" features my dear Twitter friend Mike Gannon! He's entering the Discalced Carmelite Friars of Holy Hill, Wisconsin as a postulant this Saturday, the feast of All Saints. During his Catholic Vitamins interview, Mike talks with the wonderful Deacon Tom Fox about his vocation story, and as you all know, I *adore* vocation stories. It's an excellent conversation, and I demand that you all go and listen to it. ;-) I have it linked above, but you can also find it on iTunes if you search for "Catholic Vitamins," it's the most recent episode right now.

I have prayed for dear Mike and his vocation, and so I was beaming with pride as he described his call to religious life and how it all came together. I know that I am not alone in saying that I will sincerely miss his thoughtful and insightful contributions to the Catholic community on Twitter, but I am so, SO happy and excited for him. His official entrance will be with Evening Prayer on All Saints day, so let's all bring him to mind Saturday evening and wing up a prayer for him and his vocation, yes? I have his new snail mail address, and plan to keep in touch via prayer requests and general life updates, and I couldn't be more pleased to have a friend who is a Friar. :0

My husband Mike is very amused by the sheer number of priests, nuns and monks that I know. :) Social media is such a wonderful thing!

Before I sign off, I wanted to add that as I listened to Mike's story this morning, it struck me that our vocations indeed are ever deepening. Discerning one's vocation initially is certainly a major thing, but it doesn't end there. Whether a person is called to religious, married or single life, our vocation is something that we should continue to contemplate on a daily basis to determine how God wants us to fully live out that vocation. Our vocational journey is certainly a lifelong one, to be sure. As a wife and mother, I am often thinking about how I can do better.

Wonderful fodder for a Wednesday morning. Do you have any thoughts on vocations and discernment? Leave a comment. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Of doomed trips to Burger King & more middle of the night goings on...

Let's start with a quick public service announcement: if you're praying the 54 day rosary novena, today is the day that we switch from prayers of petition to prayers of thanksgiving. You're welcome. ;-)

I've really been enjoying that novena, and also (totally unrelated, but you're used to that by now :)) my evening time with my fabulous husband as we lead up to Halloween and revel in both classic and cheesey horror movies. I wouldn't say that I'm a huge horror movie fan, but this time of year it just feels right. :) We've been having a good time with that. We pair drinks with the films, I mean, you can't go wrong.

And thank goodness, given what we've been dealing with overnight these days. :0

At left, you see our daughter, post-Burger King playground hangover. Mike teaches Monday nights, and so the kids and I often make plans to have dinner with my mom on those evenings to give us something fun to do. There is a Burger King halfway between my parents' house and ours, and although I don't make it a habit to eat fast food, the playground is a big draw for the kids. And Burger King actually has a really good apple, cranberry and chicken salad, fyi. :)

So we get there, eat, and let the kids play. Henry was good about taking Anne around the play area, since it's one of those tunnel systems that kinds of freaks me out.

#claustrophobic

They did well, but I knew it would be tough getting Anne to sleep after coming down from the playground high. She was removed with the most sour expression on her face that you can imagine. :0 We got home and I made Henry get going on his shower and then his homework. I let Anne veg a bit and watch a cartoon on Nick Jr. so that she would settle down. Sweaty from the playground, she proceeded to drink a LOT of water.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. :0 The cartoon ends. I tell Anne that it's time to get ready for bed. She refuses, to the surprise of absolutely no one. I carry her upstairs, amid protests. I stuff her into a footed sleeper. I ask her to use the bathroom. Once again, she refuses. A power struggle ensues, in which I'm successful at getting her physically onto the toilet, but NOT to produce any actual pee.

Mommy: 1
Anne: 2

I know that this is going to end badly, but it's not like I can force the child to go. She isn't dry through the night yet, and so she wears a diaper to bed at night anyway. However, given the sheer volume of water that has been consumed, I have a very bad sense of foreboding. Indeed...

1:30 am: *sobbing*

Mike bravely goes in. I hear a tearful conversation, followed by the sounds of sheets being changed. Ugh.

I go in, and sure enough, poor Anne is soaked as is every piece of her bedding. Her diaper had been completely overwhelmed. We had to do a full scale sheet, blanket and clothing change. No fun for anybody.

So, we're all exhausted again this morning. I feel bad, like I should have done more to have prevented the wetting, but sometimes it's the just way of things with obstinate children at this age. :) We'll get there.

How is your Tuesday going so far, everyone?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Great commandments & loss of sleep - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time :0

Little girls with sassy faces have been making things difficult for me of late. ;-) Let's chronicle, and I already have a GIANT mug of tea due to the fact that I am freezing my face off (as Cristina would say :)) in my office as the heat is not working. AGAIN. It seems to me that this happens every single year in the library as we move from autumn to winter, but who's counting?

*glares*

At any rate, I had a beautiful weekend. We raked leaves and pulled up the vegetable garden for the season. We made tea and hot chocolate to keep the chill out. Every October, Mike and I watch classic scary movies leading up to Halloween, and this weekend we watched Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. We made drinks and had a grand time. We also watched a bit of the World Series and some football yesterday.

Our daughter, however, at three and a half, is going through one of those spells whereby she suddenly is getting up in the night needing intervention. I remember going through this with Henry too. Our children seem to do the following with regard to sleep:

Year 1: They do not sleep. They nurse and wake frequently and I cry a lot.

Year 2: A switch is flipped. They sleep a normal night and I give thanks to God. *angels sing*

Sometime shortly before Year 3: Insidious fears creep in and they start to (a) refuse to go to sleep at bedtime, and/or (b) wake in the night crying, wanting to be soothed. I begin to wonder if I have done something to offend God. :0 Although much easier to manage than Year 1, after a year of getting normal sleep, it is difficult to transition back to the wakings.

And that's just how it goes. Sometimes, she only wakes once in an entire month. Other times, like what we're going through right now, she wakes every single night for weeks on end. And when I'm out of practice on this boot camp-like interrupted sleep thing that all parents go through, I feel so much more out-of-sorts when I wake. I'm dreaming, and suddenly somebody else's baby is there, crying. Dream Tiffany thinks "where did that baby come from?! Nobody was in this weird, ethereal building a minute ago!!" And then I realize that I am not dreaming, and that that baby is my very own real life toddler who is starting to get angry that nobody has come to her rescue yet.

Last night, Mike was the knight in shining armor by offering to get up instead of me. I hear him open Anne's door and greet her sweetly, and I then I hear:

"I WANT MY MOM."

Anne has this way of making you feel like she doesn't even know you if she's in a bad enough mood. :0 Mike soothed, and she was quiet when he left the room, but 10 minutes later...

*wailing*

I go in, and apparently the situation was quite urgent:

"MOMMY! Ernie has shoes on. How can I take them off?!"

Poor stuffed Ernie. Doomed to permanently wear shoes for all eternity. But more so than Ernie, POOR MIKE AND TIFFANY. It was over an hour before we were all back sleeping. And this morning she was an absolute *entity* of overtired, negative energy.

So, let's backtrack to Sunday Mass. She hadn't sleep well Saturday night either, so apply the above to 10:30 am Mass. :0 We are exhorted in the readings to love God and our neighbor, and so your beleaguered Catholic Librarian was trying to implement both. We had:
  • 2 demands to use the restroom.
  • Lots of climbing.
  • Arguing with, and pushing of, Henry.
  • Refusals to sit down.
  • Loud stage whispering involving when she will be big enough to ride roller coasters. Really pressing issues such as those.
It was a LONG hour. :0 We did have one nice moment in which, after snatching the prayer cards I use as bookmarks in my Magnificat, Anne proclaimed that she loves the image of Our Lady Star of the Sea, which pleased me greatly. :) I needed the encouragement at that point.

We made it through, but barely. I'm hoping that this stage passes mercifully quickly.

How was your weekend dear reader? Leave me a comment. :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 58} A happier place in librarian land, seasonal plans & crafts, & tons of book reviews upcoming! edition


-1- A slightly perked librarian...

 Last week I mentioned that my librarian identity was going through a bit of a dip. That's normal in all facets of life, and certainly in one's job. I'm pleased to report that since then, things have taken an upward turn. I know I talked about the fact that I had two English Composition classes to teach last Friday. Those went remarkably well. I had a positive interaction with the instructor and good rapport with the students. I mean, I almost always have positive interactions with people, I like to think I'm a good-natured person *beams*, but sometimes things "click" better than others, kwim? And it went very well. I felt like I had my librarian mojo back after that. I even started planning a writing project (a professional one, not for the blog, bummer ;-) but it would be for a Catholic publication, so my personal interest is certainly there. I have ambitiously set forth an end of November goal for myself, because I'm nuts like that, and I'm all excited. I should have more time in November to work on this, and I'm feeling good about it.

-2- "Mommy, I will NOT sit in my seat!!"

 One of the items on my to-do list yesterday was to buy tickets to a local production of The Nutcracker for my mom, Henry and myself. My mom and I have a tradition of going to see The Nutcracker each year for quite a long time, and for about three years now we've incorporated Henry into it. I have *loved* including him, since seeing Christmas traditions through the eyes of a child is just so, so special. This year, the thought crossed my mind that Anne may be ready to go with us. Now, Henry is completely against this idea. :0

"MOMMY. You know how Anne is. She won't sit down, she'll talk during it, she'll want to go to the bathroom. She'll ruin everything."

I'm not saying the boy is wrong. ;-) But I know that she would LOVE it. All of the little girls get dressed up in fancy, poufy dresses, and the lobby is filled with Christmas lights and nutcracker trinkets, it's just magical. I really debated simply waiting until next year to include her, when she would be 4. But then I thought to myself... so much of what I do in life is wait until I'm absolutely, positively sure that everything will go the way I plan. Is that really the way I should do things? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. And when it comes to sharing special things with my kids, I shouldn't wait, you know? Life is short. Create those special memories now. So I bought her a ticket. Here's hoping for no explosive temper tantrums in early December. :0

-3- Doesn't everybody need seasonal, LOUD, handknit socks?

 Halloween Trick or Treat socks are...DONE!

They're bright and eye searing, and it hurts to look at them. I love them. :0

-4- Feeling super proud of self *beams*

The jewelry that I've been making since the summer is all self taught, and I'm feeling mighty proud that I'm actually producing some recognizable objects. :) Below is a rosary bracelet that I finished for Anne's Christmas stocking. She likes lots of color, so there's green, blue, purple, pink and peach in there. And she's very much a girly girl, she loves jewelry, so I'm hoping that she will enjoy this.


-5- Confidence or denial?

 My studio's next hafla is in a month and I have come up with zero concrete plans for what I'll dance to. I thought maybe I'd balance my sword and do a slightly slower piece (always a good idea to go for slower when you have a sword on your head) and that's still a possibility. Then I thought maybe I'd just select a song, dance with no props, and simply improvise. I have a playlist of potential songs I've been listening to, but I just can't make a decision. Does this mean that I have a lot of confidence in my improvisational abilities (unlikely :0) or just that I'm in denial about once again putting myself WAY outside of my comfort zone by dancing solo. Yep, thinking it's the latter.

-6- A schedule of upcoming book reviews... *adjusts glasses*

I have a lovely selection of book reviews coming up separate from my official Catholic Book Club. I've been trying very hard to stay on a strict reading schedule so that I can get these done in a timely fashion :) and wanted to give you a sneak peek of what is to come.

A book that was on my Amazon wish list appeared as an option for me to review on behalf of the Image's Blogging for Books program, and so I snapped it up. That is The American Catholic Almanac:


You know how I feel about reference sources, dear reader.

*angels sing*

I'm getting started on that one now. Also in the queue is A Subtle Grace, by Ellen Gable:


This is historical Catholic fiction, and I can officially say I've never read a book in this genre before. I'm very excited! I'm hoping to have reviews of both of these up by early to mid-December.

-7- November edition of the Catholic Book Club!

Our official selection for November's Catholic Book Club is The Cana Mystery by David Beckett:


This is what I would categorize as a "Catholic thriller." I've been wanting to read it for some time, so I'm excited to dive in. I just downloaded it this morning so that I can get started reading ($4.99 for Kindle, if you want to join in!) I'll post a review of this on November 26th, that's the day before Thanksgiving. So take a break from making pumpkin pie to chime in with your thoughts. :)

All right everyone, I hope that you have a beautiful weekend! I'll return to you on Monday. In the mean time, check out more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Church Triumphant: Spotlight on Pope St. John Paul II

Happy Saint Spotlight Thursday, everyone. :) Today is the designated day for October in which Cristina and I highlight saints with personal meaning to us whose feast days fall within the month. Today, I simply couldn't resist featuring my favorite Catholic of all time, Pope St. John Paul II, and with his new feast day being just yesterday, it seemed a perfect fit. Cristina is going to be talking about someone we are all likely unfamiliar with, Bl. Terrence Albert O'Brien. But this is a Dominican, beatified by our very own John Paul II!! Perfect, no?! So head over to her place to learn more about Bl. Terrence. Let's settle in with our hot beverages to kvetch a bit about JPII.

I've thought a lot about what I wanted to discuss with you in this post. The thing is, I don't even know where to begin to talk about his life, since there is so much ground to cover. And a simple Google search can do a better job of this than I could, really, since his story is well-known and appears in so many good places already. So I thought that I would focus on what St. John Paul II means to me. Because he means so very much.

I have written about him before, in a post I remember quite vividly from the days after the election of Pope Francis entitled "I'm a John Paul II Generation Catholic: the papacy in the life of your Catholic Librarian," and a lot of my thoughts are captured there, so make sure to check that out. :) It's chock full of emotion from a very emotional time, to be sure. I went back and re-read that post myself, so that I won't duplicate information, and so that I could really get a feel for what I felt compelled to convey at that particular point in time. What I'll do here is focus entirely on St. John Paul II's personal impact on my spiritual journey.

He was the pope of my childhood and young adulthood. When I came back to my Catholic faith in law school, I read about him and the Theology of the Body. I hadn't really paid him much mind until then, which would have been the late 90's. I was in my early to mid-20's, and suddenly I couldn't read enough about him. I remember visiting the bookstore of the Daughters of St. Paul in Manhattan one day after classes, and one of the sisters happily remarked to me that I must really love our Holy Father as she surveyed the items I had chosen: a book of his papal documents, and a rosary commemorating the upcoming Jubilee with a John Paul II centerpiece. I *did* love the Holy Father, I realized at that moment. I respected what he stood for, how he had maintained his faith throughout such painful times in his life, and remained such an inspiration to others.

By this point, John Paul II's health had deteriorated quite a bit. He walked in a very stooped stature and was showing the effects of Parkinson's Disease. And I thought to myself what a wonderful example he set. Aging and death await all of us. It's not a happy thought, but it's reality. And I know that the temptation is to want to avoid showing the effects of the aging process, and to avoid any form of physical suffering in the time leading up to our death. This is a very human and natural desire, to be sure. God doesn't ask us to *seek out* suffering. But to the extent that this is a natural part of the evolution of our lives, He asks us to bear it and to offer it up for the good of our soul and others. And John Paul II was certainly doing that with all of his heart.

Although my suffering was nothing in comparison to his, I related to John Paul II in this way. I had made a major life choice (to attend law school), and it wasn't working out the way I had hoped AT ALL. I was miserable. The environment was stressful and at times downright mean-spirited, and to say that I wasn't enjoying my coursework was the understatement of the decade. But I felt trapped. I had already invested so much money and time into this endeavor; how could I abandon it without at least obtaining a degree? It was a difficult time.

And during that difficult time, John Paul II inspired me. He bore what God was asking of him with serenity, goodness and love. I needed to be able to do the same thing with my much smaller cross. So I did. And in the end, going to law school was the reason that I met one of my best friends, Irena (who was baptized and entered the Church in 2011 as my Godchild *beams*), and it's the reason I found solace in my Catholic faith again. And THAT has changed the course of my entire life, for all eternity. :)

I continued to adore him well into my 20's, as I finished law school, moved back home and met some lifelong, wonderful Catholic friends, and began a legal career that I did not enjoy. I needed my faith more than ever during that stretch. By this point, I was in my late 20's, and getting the "what, no boyfriend?!" questions from well-meaning family. Please, don't ever say that to a single person. :) They either really enjoy being single, and there's nothing wrong with that, it *is* in itself a vocation, either temporary or permanent depending on the person's state in life and timing, OR they would like to be married but haven't met the right person yet. Either way, they really don't need that comment, which can sting. Been there, done that, sister. ;-) It felt like this strange time in my life, wherein I knew things would change, hopefully for the better, but I didn't know how or when. Disconcerting, to say the least.

Then I met Mike, and we got married. *heart* We requested a papal blessing for our wedding from Rome, and it is in fact from John Paul II. This was mere months before he passed away. We married in January 2005, and he died that following April. It still hangs, framed, in our dining room, and every time I see it I am reminded of how much John Paul II meant to my faith and life during such a crucial and formative period.

When he entered his final illness and we all knew that the end was near, I was newly pregnant with Henry. I remember being so grateful to have a new life in my womb as our beloved John Paul II's soul was leaving this earth. That felt significant to me, a sign from God, perhaps. He knew how much John Paul meant to me, and this was a goodbye present of sorts. :)

I very much love the two popes that have followed John Paul II, but none compare to the impact he had on my spiritual life. I have followed his canonization process avidly, and was thrilled when he was both beatified and canonized. A last fun fact: when John Paul II was beatified in 2011, I was heavily pregnant with Anne (delivered her later that same month), and Anne's birthday, May 18th is, da da DAH!!!!!!! The same birthday as Karol Wojtyla. :0 Coincidence? I think not.

Does anyone else have a strong devotion to Pope St. John Paul II? Leave a comment! And don't forget to check out Cristina's piece on Bl. Terrence Albert O'Brien, who was beatified by John Paul II and has a feast upcoming on October 30th!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Catholic Book Club: Sacred Fire

Happy book club day everyone! And happy feast of Pope St. John Paul II! *beams* He's just one of my very favorites.

Today I have a book to review that pushes all of my joyful buttons as a reader: it's a Catholic book, which fits into the majority of what I read. It's non-fiction, but written in a clear, easy-to-read and relate-to style that doesn't make one feel as though they are reading a textbook. A *very* important quality in a non-fiction title, in my opinion. :) It includes personal stories of relevant saints, giving the book a warm, familiar feeling. And yet it's a book that one doesn't necessarily have to read in chapter order, cover to cover. It's more of what I would consider a reference book, in which you read sections as inspiration strikes. And reference books, my friends, make the Catholic librarian very, very happy to have on her bookshelf. So, let's get into the details of our book, which is Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, by Philip Michael Bulman. Settle in with tea...

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is based heavily upon the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque during the 17th century. Specifics of the devotion involve a Holy Hour of Adoration, reception of the Eucharist on the First Friday of each month, and celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart, which is a movable feast falling 19 days after Pentecost each year. It is, however, a much more general devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and in Scripture. This books takes that broad look at the devotion, which was very informative for me. There is so much that I didn't know about this devotion's rich history. The book begins with a very personal message from the author about how he became interested in this subject - he had begun attending a parish named after St. Margaret Mary and grew curious about her. I always relate to such personal interjections, and as such was eager to go along on a journey with the author, learning about this devotion.

The book is divided into two main sections: the first is called "A Heart Open to All of Humanity," and includes a chapter discussing scriptural foundations, as well as a multitude of saints and popes who have been devoted to the Sacred Heart throughout the ages. Then, there are chapters featuring several saints of key importance to the devotion, which are St. Gertrude the Great, St. Margaret Mary, St. Teresa of the Andes, and one wonderful chapter entitled "The Splendor of Carmel" highlighting a number of Carmelite saints. There is also a chapter discussing the relationship between the Divine Mercy devotion, St. Faustina, and the Sacred Heart.

The second section, "Elements of the Devotion," addresses the Eucharist, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, reparation to the Sacred Heart, additional scriptural foundations, and the Promises of the Sacred Heart. There is a significantly sized bibliography included for those who would like to research this devotion further.

As I mentioned above, this book appeals to me as a reference source. It is perfect to pull off the shelf and look up a particular aspect of the devotion, point in history, or associated saint. The saint features were my favorite part. All of you know that I adore stories of the saints, and the ones included here are absolutely wonderful. It also seems to me that this book is a perfect accompaniment for a spell at Eucharistic Adoration. Keep this in your car, and when you stop off for a Holy Hour, part of your time can be spent reading one of the chapters. Ideal fodder for contemplation on Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, and on saints as our examples in faith.

This book is available on Amazon as a $9.99 Kindle download, or in paperback for just over $13, certainly a very reasonable price. It is a new book, published just this summer, and it is more than worthy of your consideration. Do check it out!

Has anyone else already read this book? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Next month we're moving back to fiction with The Cana Mystery, by David Beckett, which I have been dying to read. Join me!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Upcoming posts & other assorted fodder :)

We're all trying to be very productive today :)
Happy Tuesday everyone! This is another day bordering on leaving me breathless because it's so busy, but I'm squeezing in a quick post since that makes me feel grounded and generally more sane. :) I'm also sipping tea, which helps.

The main reason for the craziness is a series of job searches going on concurrently here at work. They are all higher level searches, and I'm on the committee for one of the positions. I like being on search committees. They usually involve fun dinners, but these are internal searches, so no budget for food and drinks this time. :0 But it's interesting all the same. My committee held interviews all yesterday afternoon, and this afternoon will be the same. Another committee is having their candidates conduct presentations in the late mornings, so those were yesterday, today, and then tomorrow, and I want to attend them all, since this will be the person in charge of supervising my own position. So, it's been very time consuming. But I've been arming myself with coffee and cookies to keep me alert, so all is well. :)

I just wanted to mention that there is some interesting fodder upcoming on this blog, and over at Cristina's. *beams* Tomorrow is the October installment of the Catholic Book Club, so tune in for an interesting book review on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Check out the right sidebar for the upcoming books in November and December (both Catholic fiction), and I have some fascinating books on the way that I will also be reviewing interspersed in there as I get through them, one Catholic non-fiction, and one Catholic historical fiction. Huzzah! Great stuff.

Thursday is our saint spotlight day, The Church Triumphant series, and this month Cristina and I have a wonderful duo planned. Details on Thursday, but one saint is very well known, the other isn't, but you'll want to find out more for certain! As a hint, we have been generally featuring saints whose feasts we celebrate during the month in question, that's been our trend since we started this series back in the spring. But we're talking about picking a "saint theme" each year, like next year could be saints who were laypeople, or saints who were parents, that sort of thing. Exciting, no?! We're all joyous about this and are planning a calendar for it, because that's just how we roll over here with Type A personalities. :0

Friday of course is 7 Quick Takes, and I'll have my usual assortment of dance news, kid stuff, book recommendations, and crafty updates. I should come up with an official format for those, shouldn't I? Hum...

*plots*

We'll see, I'll keep you posted. :) But I'd better go, since I have to eat my lunch ridiculously early in order to conform to today's interview schedule. You'll hear from me tomorrow afternoon with my review of Sacred Fire. Until then!

Monday, October 20, 2014

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The power of the Holy Spirit...

Morning all! My day is absolutely nuts today, and tomorrow isn't abundantly better, so I'm trying to squeeze in some blogging while I have the early reference shift, which is always quiet. I had a very nice weekend, and Mass yesterday was just sublime, so I wanted to write about that if even for just a short spell. At left, you can see a blurry photo of Henry lighting a candle after Mass, which is one of his very favorite things to do, with Anne's pink pants and bright blue sweater behind him. We won't even talk about what a production it was for her to get dressed yesterday morning, because that would be categorized as one of the *low* points of the day. :0 Just picture an unruly scene featuring a toddler streaking around in her underwear screaming "NO!! I AM NOT WEARING *THAT*!!" for 20 straight minutes. Good times.

But Mass really did turn out well. Eventually.

I think I have finally come to terms with an important factoid about these Monday morning Mass reflection posts: I would really like for them to be all theological and prayerful, discussing how the readings apply to our daily lives. Well...the problem with this goal is that I rarely HEAR the readings, because I'm either taking Anne to the restroom or otherwise dragging her out from underneath a pew. :0 And I've finally realized that...that's all right. This is my state in life right now. This is what God is asking me to do. And I have always known that I get so much out of Mass whether or not I am able to hear and reflect upon the readings. Just the beauty and comfort of the liturgy, the Eucharist, all of *these* things are what buoy my spiritual life. Certainly, I need Scripture as well, but I can always fit that in when I have other quiet time. Given that Anne had woken up yesterday practically having the word "SASSY!" tattooed on her forehead, I knew that the chances of me reflecting on the Gospel message were low. But I was ok with that. I armed myself emotionally for battle and loaded the kids up in the car. :)

It's finally turned cold around here, and yesterday featured temperatures that never got out of the 40's. We arrived chilly and pink cheeked in our pew before the start of Mass, while the music ensemble warmed up. Anne announces:

"Mommy! I am going to pee my pants!"

I'm certain everyone in the pews around us was so happy to learn that little piece of information.

I scooped her up and hurried her to the sacristy restroom. We took care of her business and made our way back to the pew. She insisted on walking herself, and I didn't want to set her off, so I let her, and it actually went fine. As soon as we got back, the climbing began.

On the pew. Off the pew. Attempt to swing from the end of pew. Climb over feet on kneeler on way to opposite side of pew. Climb over feet on kneeler to make way back. Sit on floor and crawl under pew. Suddenly, she's eating a Goldfish cracker. WAIT, WE DIDN'T PACK ANY GOLDFISH CRACKERS!!!! Good God. We have another request to use the bathroom, and attempts to dissuade go *very poorly*. Back to the restroom we go. I was serene, but starting to feel exhausted.

We get back to the pew, and hark! It was like an angelic beam of light directed Anne's gaze to something on the floor. It was...a sequin.

"MOMMY! Look what I found! It's a beautiful, sparkly diamond!"

Children are so easy to please when it comes to shiny things. :) She refused to call it a sequin, it was "a sparkly!" and she cradled it like a baby kitty cat for the rest of Mass. Which meant that she actually sat and stood in ONE PLACE for the duration.

God.Is.Good.

Thus, I was able to go back after Communion and glance through the readings in my Magnificat, picking out a sentence in St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians:

"For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction."

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Mike has suggested that I acquire about a pound of sequins from the craft store and discreetly drop them when needed at Mass in the future. Oh look!! A runaway sparkly needs Anne's attention and nurturing. :0

How was your Sunday Mass, dear reader? Leave a comment if you please!

Friday, October 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 57} Librarian identity crisis, lots of upcoming & amusing dance performances, and crafty updates galore! edition...


-1- "I know you just spent 30 minutes showing me how, but...how do I find a scholarly article?!"

I have two English Composition classes to teach today, and these are the last classes I have scheduled for this fall semester. It's entirely possible I may get more, but for the time being I'll be done. I've been feeling kind of "eh!" about my librarian identity this semester. I've been a librarian now for 10 years, and like anything in life, it ebbs and flows. I like being a librarian, I really do. I think it suits me, and for the most part I enjoy it. Also, as a state employee, I have a pretty good gig here in terms of benefits and all that. I'm very blessed. But every once in a while I go through these phases whereby I just feel like what I do isn't all that important, you know? And it can rather get a girl down. You get some snotty kid at the reference desk, or clueless soul in a class you just poured forth a lot of effort into, and you feel like "why am I doing this? Am I really helping anybody?" Man, this take is a downer. :0 But I always snap out of it, and I'm certain that this time is no exception. With my semester of teaching wrapping up, I can think about what I'd like to focus on for the next few months, and I have some fun ideas that would be very meaningful to me. So here's hoping. :)

-2- Rosary bracelets for everybody!!

Thankfully, it is the harkening of the weekend, and for that I am grateful. This was a short work week, but an intense one. I'm looking forward to spending time over the next few days with Mike and the kids, and working more on my holiday crafts. I have beading that I'd like to get to, *rubs hands together gleefully* and that is one craft that is difficult to squeeze in. Let's just say that part of the aging process (at least for me) is gradual eyesight deterioration. And we all know how I feel about THAT. *nostrils flare* By the time I get home in the evenings, it's almost dark and my eyes are tired, and I have to put on my *glasses* to try and see small beads, and ugh. I don't feel like wrestling with beads and wire at the dining room table under those conditions. :) So I really only have the opportunity to try and make jewelry on the weekends, when Anne is napping. If Anne were awake, that would cause a WHOLE 'nother set of problems. So, as you can see, my beading opportunities are limited. I'm hoping to make a dent this weekend.

-3- Friday evening also means dance practice - amusement will ensue

I haven't been to dance in 2 weeks, and I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to get back to it. We have this new Shaabi choreography that is "just ok" for me :0 since it's not my favorite style, but it's still very fun. Whenever Claire tells us that Shaabi is "very cheeky!" I know I make a doe-eyed face (ha!) because, well...Tiffany is not cheeky. :) Part of being in a troupe is expanding your horizons beyond your own comfort zone, so this is just part of it. I do think audiences will like the number, because, like I mentioned, it is super fun. We're getting it perfected for the fashion show performance on All Saints Day, and then our winter hafla is November 22nd. Lots to prepare for. Such as not falling off a runway while dancing :0 And somehow coming up with a solo when you have no notion of what you want to do. Should be interesting. Will keep you posted. :)

-4- The promised crafty pictures...

I can't remember what I've posted pictures of already, because you know, AGING BRAIN CELLS. So I'll just toss in some of the items I mentioned in yesterday's post. Here we have Henry's super eye searing confetti socks:

These are the Finding Nemo socks that Anne inherited from Henry:


I love knitting for the kids, it is true. But now you're stuck with my crappy phone selfies of my own knitted items. :0 New cowl in what I call "fall football colors":


And new brown and cream hat to coordinate:


We should all be toasty warm this coming winter. :)

-5- My happy new podcast situation...

I mentioned at some point this week that I have finally come into the 21st century and downloaded an app so that I can keep my podcasts on my smartphone, rather than relying solely on iTunes when I may not be able to synch my iPod with any convenience. I tried a few free ones out, and I really like the one that I ended up keeping, which is BeyondPod. There is an option for a paid version if you want to check for new episodes in one fell swoop, but I'm finding that the free version is really quite good. If you have an Android device, it's worth checking out. I found every feed that I wanted, and you can categorize them  (they obviously love librarians :0). I have mine all in folders. And I download them when I'm on WIFI and then listen to them at my leisure. I have my settings such that the downloads will delete after I listen so that they won't take up too much space. Loving!

-6- Current fiction on my Kindle...

I'm currently reading the October installment in the Big Sky Centennial series put out by Love Inspired, His Montana Bride:

I have, however, become quite obsessed with this "Witness Protection" series from Love Inspired Suspense, which I've mentioned in previous weeks. I had the first 3 books in the series, and now I'm positively *dying* to download book 4, which is Top Secret Identity, by Sharon Dunn:


This one involves a witness hiding on an Iowa farm, and apparently her family has Amish roots, which just pushes all of my happy fiction buttons. :) As soon as I finish His Montana Bride I'm downloading this book!

-7- Book Club next Wednesday!

Wednesday October 22nd is the fourth Wednesday of the month, and thus, our Catholic Book Club day! This month we're reading Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, by Philip Michael Bulman:


This is well timed, since yesterday was the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This is a book that would be perfect to tote along with you to Adoration, and couldn't we all use to do *that* more often, yes? It's a $9.99 Kindle download, which is a great price for such a heavily researched source with such great fodder in it. Check it out, and you'll see my review here on Wednesday. :)

Ok all, back to my crazy schedule for the day. Monday and Tuesday are also sort of...

*consults calendar*

*emits heavy sigh*

...busy. :-\ But I do plan to squeeze short posts in if I can. I will endeavor! You can encourage me by leaving your insightful comments about how your autumn is going. :) Until then, dear reader!

Check out more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!