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...


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.


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, 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!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Christmas crafting in October - oh yes I am!!

Good morning everyone! My mind has been very distracted this week with work tasks, but I always like to still blog because it's such a creative outlet for me. Unless something comes up or I'm on vacation, I try to write at least something short each day Monday through Friday. And so here I am with you, during a quiet stretch on the reference desk. :)

So yay! On to the topic at hand. I wrote several months ago about my annual Christmas in July craziness, and since I didn't have anything else in mind to write about today, I thought it was a good day to revisit my plans and see how everything is going. Because I've been knitting. A LOT.


I'm going to duplicate the list I proposed back in July, with updates noted in red. #TypeA


"Mike - Socks. He picked out some brown tweed yarn (men, I tell you, no boldness when it comes to color) and we're good to go. No sweaters this year. AMEN."

Ok, sooooooo. Poor Mike doesn't have any socks yet. :0 The brown tweed just isn't exactly exciting, and I haven't been motivated enough to get to them yet, because they'll be a bit of a grind to knit. They are, however, for my sweetheart, so that certainly provides a lot of impetus. Going to try and knit these in November. And I've decided that he has been so thoughtful and wonderful of late (not that he usually isn't, he's just really stepped up his husbandly game when I needed it the most, he earns much gold star-age here) that he's getting a new sweater next year. I know that knitting a men's sweater will inevitably lead to swearing and gnashing of teeth, but I'm forging ahead anyway and shopping for the yarn this coming Cyber Monday. I'm very excited. :0

"Henry - Colorful socks (good boy). Chocolate brown scarf that I have the yarn for in my stash. Score."

Socks are done, and adorn Henry's feet weekly the instant they're out of the wash. He earns child bonus points for this one. Chocolate brown scarf? I'm not sure about this anymore. :) I've used some of the yarn for another project, and I just don't think he'll wear a scarf with any regularity. This may get excised.

"Anne - Finding Nemo socks (leftover yarn from when I made Henry the same socks). Colorful cardigan made from stash yarn, I make her one every year. Special request for watermelon mittens. I also have the yarn for those."

Henry outgrew his Nemo socks and they're still in good shape, so voila! I transferred them to Anne's sock drawer, and thus those are done. :0 #genius I also knit her the cardigan, which she refuses to wear, saying it's "itchy," for which she gets child bonus points *deducted*. I made her not only watermelon mittens but also a matching hat, and she seems to dig them, so hopefully she'll wear them once the weather changes. 


"Mother-in-law - Dishcloths. 2 or 3?"

Just started a batch of Christmas dishcloths/pot holders, so these are currently in the works.

"Assorted Christmas Eve gifts for relatives we see on that day - 6 dishcloths."

See above. :)

"Cristina - Item detail withheld to protect a surprise. :)"

I've changed the surprise, since the chances of my original idea getting crafted prior to Christmas was hovering near 0%. :0 I tend to be a bit overambitious. I did come up with a fabulous alternative though, and supplies are in and I will begin this weekend. *beams*

I think it's worth mentioning that after I posted this list, it was added to, and I have completed all of those projects.

*angels sing*

Shauna'h requested mittens and boot toppers, both of which I made and delivered to her in Maine this past weekend. I made hats for my twin nephews, and gave those to them as well. I also made a few new winter accessories for myself, since my old ones were looking a bit worn. So I have a new cowl and hat. I do have to also craft a Secret Santa gift for someone in my knitting group, and that is also in progress, so seriously? I think I am doing pretty darn well with my list.

*sniffs happily*

 I do feel a bit like I can't skip an evening of knitting lest I fall behind, but besides that (*snorts*) I think things are going well and I will finish everything that I want to prior to Christmas. I like the way I approached things this year, which is that I planned projects back in June, started knitting and crocheting in July, and kept the goals manageable. I'm not going to knock out multiple sweaters even in 6 months, you know? Just not happening.

So, that's that. Does anyone else have holiday crafting plans? If so, please do detail in the comments. :)

I'll post some pictures of the completed projects I mentioned above in 7 Quick Takes tomorrow. I have a bit of a miserable day at work tomorrow, *feels sorry for self* but I am committed to squeezing this post in between classes and meetings. It might not be as detailed as usual, but I'll do what I can. Talk to you all then!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making our way through the autumn...

Morning all! It's nice to be back to my regular routine. I'm having a quiet moment on the reference desk after just dealing with a highly annoying patron (in a very polite fashion I might add, *angelic librarian beam*), so I figured I deserved the blogging respite. :) I was listening to "The Catholics Next Door" podcast on my way into work this morning, and contemplating what to write about today. As I did so, I drove by the sugar maple that you see pictured here at left and stopped just to take a picture of it. It's just down the street from Henry's school, within minutes of our house, and I think it's the prettiest tree I've seen so far this autumn.

Thus, it seemed to me that a quick reflective post on the progress of the autumn was timely, and that's what I decided to do. So, what's happening?

This fall semester has progressed very rapidly. Due to Mike's intense teaching schedule, plus my trip this past weekend, we haven't gotten to all of the family autumn-related activities that we wanted to. We still have some time, so we're hopeful we can squeeze at least one more outing in, but we'll see. The fall is clearly winding down here in Western New York to that gray November place, you know? It gets dark early, clouds and wind seem omnipresent, the foliage is falling rapidly. I don't mind that time of year; it's cozy, plus it means that the holidays are coming, but it does signal the beginning of the end of the gorgeous, colorful autumn.

Henry's year in school so far (4th grade this year), while good, has been a lot more work for both him and us. :0 This is a year in which his school administers state testing, and the workload has been much increased from last year. He's persevering, but our evenings certainly include a lot more homework than they used to.

Anne is growing in leaps and bounds, and is becoming quite the nurturing little lady. :) She talks a mile a minute and carries around a purse with all of her "necessities" so that she can be like the big girls. Necessities in Anne's world being things like rocks, plastic Easter eggs, and random small stuffed creatures. She's looking taller every day, taking after her brother. Mike and I seem to produce these very tall children. :)

Speaking of Mike, he has the worst fall cold EVER, poor thing. And in the midst of all of this teaching too, wherein he really needs his voice and the ability to speak without coughing every few moments. Mike has this gorgeous deep voice *happy lift of eyebrows* and I hate to see him struggling to get through a day of teaching. His cough has been so bad at night that he's been sleeping downstairs to spare me the poor night of sleep that he is certain to have, and the miserable look on his face as he gathers his pillow to go down there just breaks your heart. We rarely sleep apart, and I miss him so much when he's not there. I do, however, plead guilty though to reveling in the quiet interior of our bedroom sans coughing, and immediately pouncing on our small television, flipping to The Hallmark Channel, and setting the sleep timer to 2 full hours of "The Golden Girls" soothing goodness.

ahhhhhhhhhh..... :)

I slept well. :0

He seemed a bit better this morning, and said that once he did manage to fall asleep, he stayed asleep until about 6 am, which is a very good sign. Hopefully, he's on the mend.

As for me, I'm progressing happily through my 54 day rosary novena. I've missed a few days of getting through a complete rosary, but if I've learned anything in the spiritual life it's to keep going, even when I screw up. Which I do. Frequently. :0 So, I persevere, and it's going well. I've been busy at work, October is always like that. I have a few classes to teach on Friday, and I'm catching up a bit still from my trip, but it's going fine. Things should slow down in a few weeks. I've also been knitting and crocheting like a mad woman, working on gifts and other fall-themed items. I will post pictures in this week's 7 Quick Takes, where much fun will await you. ;-)

And how is YOUR fall going, dear reader? Leave me a comment. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm back from my trip, and alive. :)

Hi all! I survived my air travel, as you have surmised. And I did fine. :) Very well in fact. I didn't whine once.


I think I've discovered what makes me so ill at ease about flying - I don't like the sensation of taking off. After that, I was totally fine, small spaces and everything. Taking off just feels so precarious and unnatural to me, although I know that that absolutely isn't true. But overall, this was the best I've ever done in terms of my anxiety when traveling by air. And I think I deserve a gold star. *beams*

(the drink coupons also certainly didn't hurt, but sssshhhhhhhhh! ;-))

On the flight down, I did LOTS of knitting, I was just really feeling the Trick or Treat yarn:

Self-striping yarn is just so exciting. :0 One of the flight attendants stopped to ask me what I was working on, she was so intrigued by my yarn. I also listened to podcasts. I left my beloved iPod, John Paul, at home, and just brought my phone, so I did my homework by finding an app for Android where I can download and store podcasts completely separate from my iTunes account. I don't imagine that I'll move to this model full time just yet, but it's nice to have an option for my podcasts when I don't have my iPod with me/cannot synch to my iTunes library. I'm so reliant upon my podcasts for weekly entertainment that I'm thrilled to have more ways to listen to them depending upon my situation in any given week. So I listened to those and knitted on the way down.

I was traveling with both Henry and my mom, and Henry was just so excited by EVERYTHING. Including the air travel:

"Mommy, who is that, is that the pilot? Why is he doing that? What's this switch for, Mommy? Who's that guy out there, what is he doing with those bags? What's this switch here? Can I press it? Why not? Will they give us any food on here? Why is it taking so long for everyone to get on the plane, Mommy? How come we're not moving yet?"


Then we arrived and the frivolity began in earnest. I was so excited to see my precious nephews, and I got to squeeze them tons (well, they didn't love it, but I did it anyway, ha! "Andrew, COME HERE MUFFIN, Aunt Tiffy wants to hold and kiss you..." "DOWN, DOWN!" :0), but they don't get to see me that often, and so they were mighty suspicious of this new interloper. When we do video chat, they sometimes think I'm Shauna'h, because we look a bit alike, but in person, THE JIG IS UP, my friends. The looks on their faces just scream:


But my mom, on the other hand? SO INTO NANA.


They see my mom a lot more often, and know her very well, so they were just beside themselves with excitement to have her there. So I tortured them a bit with the repeated squeezing and kissing, but hey! I'm unapologetic about the whole thing. ;-) And they got more used to me as each day passed.

Saturday was their second birthday party, and Henry loved cavorting with his dog cousin, Roscoe:

He's *really* hoping that something falls off of that plate
Such mutual adoration there. I was very happy to squeeze toddlers where I possibly could, help out with party stuff, and sip wine. Boxed Chardonnay? I'm there.

Self portrait with wine glass
I also snuggled my cat nephew, Molson:

This is the life, to be sure
He's a lovey. And of course, the highlight of the day:

Aren't they precious?
Cake and little twin faces, does life get any better? There were 2 sets of twins present, including my nephews. :) On Sunday, we went to Mass and watched football.


And then yesterday, of course, we traveled home. Wherein I once again did an admirable job of holding it together while traveling by air. The approach in and out of Portland, Maine has to be one of the prettiest in the entire country, I'm thinking. I was sad to leave, but SO happy to get home to Mike and Anne. Whereupon, my passing through security and towards a beaming Anne earned me:


*she rushes into my mom's arms*

Everybody loves Nana. :)  Although my greeting wasn't nearly as dramatic, Anne was in fact very happy to see me, and showed this by clinging to me for the rest of the evening in a very emotional fashion, and waking up at 3 am to demand that I hold her. Good times, I felt cherished.


All right everyone, it was tough to eke this post out with the work schedule I had today, but I really wanted to make it happen, and I managed it, don't you feel loved? I will return to you tomorrow, to talk about God knows what, but I'm sure inspiration will strike in the morning. ;-) Until then! How was your weekend? I won't wake you up in the middle of the night to demand an answer, but I'd love it if you would leave a comment. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Catholic Librarian travels by air - prepare yourselves for the posts to follow :0

At least, that's the hope, since the possibility of there being no posts next week is my greatest fear when flying. Yep - DEATH!!!! We're off to an uplifting start, no? ;-) I actually went to confession this week for this very reason. :0


Although, now that I think about it, I don't think death is actually my greatest fear with regard to flying. I think my greatest fear is being trapped on a full airplane (ironically, while it's still on the ground :0) for hours on end with no working bathrooms, and no way to get out. I have *this thing* about bathrooms. They must...exist. And be easily accessible, with lots of privacy. The optimal situation would be for no one to ever know that I even used the bathroom, but I'm digressing, aren't I? So, a possible lack of working restrooms plus a touch of claustrophobia, those two things. When I'm on an airplane, I feel like I have no personal space to even, you know, *breathe*, and it makes me so skittish. Let's not even combine all of these wacky fears plus my introverted personality and talk about the anxiety it causes me to have to ASK the person squashed next to me to GET UP and MOVE so that I can go to the bathroom.


It's so, so awful. This is why I usually sit on the aisle. Although, frankly, my clear inability to function normally in society :0 has made it so that I pretty much have eliminated this situation from happening, because I demand a bladder of STEEL from my body, and it has obeyed my demands. Believe me it's much better than the alternative - the conversation I mentioned above. Good heavens.

Somewhat thwarting my efforts in this regard these days though are the drink coupons that printed out with my boarding passes. BOOYAH!! Any anxious traveler knows how indispensable these babies are. One per leg, yes sir. And my flights are less than an hour each, not to mention in the middle of the afternoon. *delicately clears throat* Indeed, I know how ridiculous I am, but please humor the Nervous Nelly.

I will also have my Kindle with me, loaded up with all sorts of soothing inspirational fiction, and my knitting. Behold - the magnificence of the Trick or Treat Halloween sock yarn:

I wound it last night and, throwing caution and all of my other pressing holiday gift crafting aside, cast on:

I wanted a solid start, so it wouldn't be all fiddly when I was in the airport, and ta da! It's so, so cute. So, should I start to feel anxious, me and my self-patterning sock yarn will go to my happy place.

Travel aside, I *am* looking forward to seeing my sister and squeezing my precious nephews, so I'll have lots to write about next week. You won't see any posts until next Tuesday since I'm traveling both Friday and Monday, but I promise a post on Tuesday afternoon with all the details. Until then my friends, I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll still be tweeting, so if you follow me on Twitter, you can be a part of all the fun, ha! I'll try to get a selfie of Henry and I in the airport. And wing up a prayer for us, if you would. ;-) Much appreciated!