Friday, April 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 76} Elements of a wacky dance performance, edition...

Happy Friday all! No Catholic content today, this will be a dance focused post, so for those who are interested in such frivolity, welcome! :) My troupe had a performance last night at a college cultural night, and as ever, it was amusing. This is my 5th year dancing with the troupe, so I've been to lots of these, by which I mean public performances. They are very different from dancing at a hafla, which is essentially a studio-wide recital, wherein your audience is the family and friends of the dancers. In a public performance, your audience is the people attending the event you're dancing at, and they may or may not be (a) into dancing, and/or (b) nice. :0 Like I mentioned, I've been to lots of these, and experienced the full gamut of possibilities from: Awesome! to Will This Music Never Be Over?! One of our troupe members, however, is new to our group, and while she danced with us at the last hafla, this was her first, what I term "crazy, public performance." She was pretty wide eyed about the whole thing, as was I the first time I danced at one of these, and understandably so. Because you never know what you're gonna get! And so what were the 7 elements to this particular performance, which do seem so common at many others? Settle in. :)

-1- Rain, rain go away...

We weren't dancing outside (this time), but there was a decent amount of walking outside to get from the parking lot to our destination, and it was raining. Rain = soggy dance coverups, which really isn't a good look, and it also means that Tiffany's hair goes into gigantic expansion mode. Also not a good look. But persevere we must.

-2- "Why are there women wearing voluminous hot pink mumus on the stairway landing?! Never mind, we don't really need to go upstairs after all."

Given how many different choreographies we now perform on a rotating basis, and how many formation changes we inevitably need to make for each event to accommodate for absent members, it's a little nerve wracking right before we perform. Do I remember everything? Do I remember the *new* everything, now that I'm in totally different spots than usual?! So we usually try to find a discreet spot to run through problem areas right before we dance. Last night, we found a back staircase with a decent sized landing, so we clomped down there in our giant pink coverups to practice. Apparently though, this back stairway wasn't all that secret, because several groups of people saw us and immediately hurried off. Even after we were finished and were just congregated on there chatting, people would approach the stairs, see us, and quickly back away. I guess we're kind of scary. ;-)

-3- *peeks in room* "OK, the audience appears ____" (Fill in blank with either (a) dead, or (b) unbelievably rowdy. No option (c) ever materializes :0)

I don't know why, but there isn't much middle ground with audiences at these events. People are either completely silent, such that you fear they are actively hating you and plotting their escape from this torture of watching you dance (they're likely just very polite and feel it's improper to move or make noise during a performance, but there you have it), OR they are completely off-the-wall loud and boisterous. For whatever reason, there usually aren't further alternatives. In the case of last night, we had...

-4- "YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!" *enthusiastic whooping noises and clapping* That would be option (b), rowdy :0

Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative. It's just that when college students are that enthusiastic about a dance performance, I suspect that they were three sheets to the wind before even arriving. I will say that they were *super polite* after we danced, coming over to us to tell us how great they thought the numbers were and how much they enjoyed it. And they didn't appear drunk or disorderly. So maybe they really did love us because we're just that good. ;-) But YEAH, they were into it. People were dancing in their seats and clapping in time to the music. Our kicky drum piece even ramped that enthusiasm up to the next decibel. So you could say it went very well.

Us in motion. I love these ladies.
-5- "Does anybody want to participate in a short demo class, to learn some movements of Middle Eastern dance?" *suddenly everybody is super shy*

 In between our sets, Claire taught a demo class. Inevitably, there is always resistance to this, even amongst enthusiastic audiences. Getting up and dancing in front of people isn't so easy, yes indeed, I am well aware. :) So even our loud college fans had to be coaxed a bit to get some volunteers. Claire is very good at this though, and within minutes she had a crowd up there with her. So that went well too. But then...

-6- "I'm going to let the music keep running. Improvise, and try to get people up to dance with you!"

 Let's all groan together, shall we? Improvising is no problem for me, but I don't want to have to actually (a) talk to anybody, or (b) interact with them in any meaningful way. #introvert! But we are often tasked with doing this at these public events. And the thing is, people are either jumping out of their chair wanting to dance, which is easy, or glued to their seat in terror that you are going to ask them to dance. Me? I don't want to do anything above smiling at you winningly and dancing in your general vicinity. Unless someone comes over to me, I *really don't want to go over to you.* It's just my lot in life as a shy person. I have no problem making stuff up as I go along and dancing around a full perimeter of the room, that's what makes Middle Eastern dance so fun, in my opinion. But this interaction thing gives me hives every single time.

And so for our second set, we danced our new Shaabi piece, and then the dreaded moment came: we struck our final post, and the music kept playing, so we all reluctantly improvised our way out to the crowd. The room had thinned a bit during the demo lesson, so our most enthusiastic supporters weren't there. This was a definite problem. As I improvised my way around the room, I could see some of my troupemates bravely trying to convince people to get up and dance, and getting petrified-looking rejections for their efforts. For my part, I just kept dancing and prayed for the music to end. It didn't.


But I made it. Eventually, a few people got up and we made the most of that. Then we were done. Glory be.

-7- Sweat sets in...

 It was chilly in the room we were dancing in, but as soon as we were done, I realized how warm and sorta gross I was. :0

Exhausted selfie
We worked hard, but it went smashingly well, so who can complain? Back out to the rain we went, pink coverups blowing in the breeze. All glamor, all the time. ;-)

More dance fun to come in just over 2 weeks at our spring hafla! Then festival season sets in, and the real adventure begins. Stay tuned!

If you're still reading, thanks for hanging with me in this dance-themed 7 Quick Takes! It's a passion of mine, and I hope that you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy writing about it. I'll talk to you all on Monday, but in the meantime, check out more 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Tiffany, why don't you just GO!" Adventures in introvertism...

Yes, I talk to myself. Usually just in my own head, although if I'm in the car alone, I'll sometimes vocalize. ;-) And is "introvertism" even a word? According to my spell check it isn't, but that's another part of the talking-to-self thing: I don't care. I can make up as MANY words as I want, and nobody can correct me!

*goes hog wild*

But at any rate, one of the things I berate myself over is that I don't get out more. There are things that I genuinely WANT to do, want to attend, but yet...I don't. I think this is part of the Introvert Mystique: We're homebodies, we like to stay in. And when we do get out, even to things we genuinely enjoy, we cannot wait to get back home to our Safe and Comfortable Place. Which is our couch, of course. With a book and a glimmering glass of your beverage of choice. Chatting with your friends on social media is also a strong possibility, which is totally fine with your introverted sensibilities since a device stands between you and them and you can control the asynchronous flow of the conversation.


OK, so ANYWAY. One of the things that I want to do more often, and I emphasize this to myself annually whenever my brain and I have this particular conversation, is to attend the ballet. I take the kids to see The Nutcracker each year, which is fabulous, but there are SO many other good productions that come through town that I rarely attend. We have a beautiful historic theater downtown, where my mom and I saw Phantom of the Opera last month, but there is also a Center for the Arts at the university for which I work. Each semester, I look at their schedule of performances and think how I'd like to attend 1-2 of them, and then I never buy tickets. And the tickets are SO reasonable! We're talking $30 or less for the best seats in the house.

This year, I finally seized the moment. I asked both my mom and my mother-in-law if they'd like to go see The Sleeping Beauty, which is one of the three great Tchaikovsky ballets that I've never seen and have always wanted to. My mom is in Albany at a work conference and couldn't go, but my mother-in-law could, and so off I went on a gorgeous spring day to fetch our tickets, and last night was the performance.

BEAUTIFUL. It was the Russian National Ballet Theatre, and they did an outstanding job. Some of the principal dancers were exquisite, particularly the man dancing the role of the Bluebird. And the ballerina dancing the role of Aurora: oh my. To dance like that! Stunning.

We went out to dinner first at a Middle Eastern restaurant and then on to the ballet. By Act II I was a bit tired, as it was a Wednesday night (but the only night that this ballet was in town), yet it was SO worth it. I had a fantastic time! And I loved seeing the ballet and reading up more on it in the program.

And so I talked to myself again in my head on the way home. ;-) I absolutely am going to do this again next season when the new schedule comes out. If I notice a ballet that I'd like to see, I'm going to buy tickets. Boom! I need to do more of that, every single year.

Speaking of dancing, I'm slated to do my own (not nearly so exquisite) version tonight at this cultural shindig with my troupe. Here's lifting a glass to not humiliating myself! I'll report in tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Maybe if you travel step your way over here? Does that look lopsided? Oh dear, move back!" More dancing adventures...

My dance troupe has a performance tomorrow evening for the first time since December, and it feels like a breath of fresh air to be rehearsing again. Winter is definitely the slowest time of year for us in terms of gigs, but we use that time to learn new choreographies and techniques. I definitely enjoy both of those things, but there is something exciting about the spring rolling around and us focusing on fine tuning our old and new repertoire for the events we're asked to perform at. Hello to controlled chaos! :)

Tomorrow, we're slated to dance at an arts and culture night at a local college. We've performed there in the past, the last time when I was heavily pregnant with Anne, that one was pretty amusing. :0 I'm not sure how it'll go, given the unpredictable nature of our audience, but we've prepared as best we can. As is always the case with any performance, the entire group isn't available on the given night, so we've been adjusting our choreographies around to fill in gaps and generally make it look like there aren't people missing in the formations. What I always worry about is *remembering* the changes, and then remembering to change it back in my head the next time we perform. A definite *remembering* theme going on here. #AdventuresInAging ;-)

We're not using the brand new choreography, the one with the giant veil wrap/parachute situation going on (thank the good Lord), but instead an older pop piece, the newer drum solo, and the fairly new Shaabi number. That Shaabi number really isn't my favorite (very informal, more sassy style. Guess who lacks any smidgen of sass whatsoever? :)), but I press on. I love the drum piece though.

So we have two sets (pop/drum, then later, the Shaabi), and Claire will dance in between them. I absolutely love performing with the troupe. Every time we do, it's an adventure with really funny stories. Every.time. :0 I will report in on Friday!

Are any of you going to, or involved in, any arts festivals this summer?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thoughts while walking (or driving :))...

The Walk with Fr. Roderick
Hello to you all on this fine spring day! I'm super perky today, which is aided by the fact that I'm wearing a short sleeved top for the first time since September. And it's pink! Life is grand.

As I was driving in to work this morning, I was thinking. You know, about STUFF. I do that a lot. ;-) My little mind is always awhirl while I'm driving or walking by myself. Or when I'm in the shower. :0 Anytime my mind is allowed to wander from the task at hand, it will, it seems. At any rate, in the background I had on Fr. Roderick's The Walk podcast. As you already know, I completely adore that precious Fr. Roderick. I've been listening to his show The Break for, let's see...probably about 6 years now. In that neighborhood of time, at least. When he added in The Walk, I thought maybe it would be duplicated content just targeted at another audience, so perhaps it would be redundant to listen to both. I was wrong, and I happily subscribe to both shows.

The Break has a structure: he talks about current events both in his life and in the news, movies and TV shows, books that he's read, and then a segment that he calls "The Peculiar Bunch," in which he'll address a current Catholic topic. The Walk is totally different. It's complete stream of consciousness as he goes out for a walk to get some exercise. He just brings his audio recorder and chats with his audience about whatever is on his mind during that hour.

I *really* love this format, and I think that part of it is that I relate to it so much. This is pretty much how I write in this blog. :0 I know that there are blogs out there that are more polished and helpful than mine (AKA: better ;-)). And thank goodness for them, because we all benefit from them! But my approach to blogging has always been that this is an online journal that I choose to share with others. Sometimes I plan posts ahead of time, like the Catholic Book Club or the Church Triumphant posts that Cristina and I collaborate on. But usually, I just await inspiration each morning, and then write about that topic, whatever is on my mind in that moment.

And so, this morning I was listening to Father talk about some projects he's working on, and how they're not turning out the way he expected, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, right? God is always working in there. :) And he mentioned how there are so many things he's been able to do that he strove to achieve, but that there are so many others that he'd like to accomplish. As I listened, I related this back to my own life, which is such a pleasing byproduct of this type of informal style. There are LOTS of projects that I've always wanted to try (writing, podcasting...), and yet I often hesitate. I'm worried about...oh, let us count the ways, shall we?

(1) Time. I don't want things to take me away from Mike and the kids too much.

(2) Money. Some projects require a small investment in new equipment, and then I'll shy away from it, which is silly. I buy yarn, dance costumes and books with abandon, why shouldn't I invest in technology that will bring joy and meaning?

(3) Fear of failure. I really should have put this first. ;-) Because this really is a hindrance on me trying new things. Why do you think it took me *years* to work up the nerve to dance solo at a performance? And this is closely related to...

(4) Fear of looking stupid. :0 There it is. I really do fear this. A lot.

But life is short, you know? Not that we should proceed with things full steam ahead without fully thinking them through. But I shouldn't let surmountable fears hold me back so much. So maybe I'll try moving forward on a few projects I've always wanted to try. I'll keep you posted. ;-)

I'm glad that Fr. Roderick's show this week got me to thinking about these things. Do you brainstorm or otherwise wax poetic while you walk or drive? When is your most creative thinking time? Anytime there aren't little voices in the background asking you to assist them with wiping in the bathroom, you say? I can relate to that. :)

Tomorrow will be a DANCE POST! Make sure to head back over if you enjoy such shenanigans.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thriving in fellowship and welcoming back insects, on Divine Mercy Sunday...

Morning all, and happy continuation of the Easter season. ;-) The Octave is over, but nevertheless, we are still celebrating Easter, and I love it. And I absolutely adore Divine Mercy Sunday. I always pray the novena leading up to it (at least, in recent years I have), and it harkens me back to 2005, when I was newly pregnant with Henry and Pope John Paul II passed away on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. He always emphasized this feast, and that is one of the reasons that I am so drawn to it, because I love HIM so much.

And so Divine Mercy Sunday dawned bright and beautiful in Western New York. I think about 95% of our leftover snow has finally melted. People, this is *epic*. Never in my lifetime of living in the Northeast have I ever been more happy to see spring. As the kids and I headed out for Mass, I noticed something in our small backyard. Something fragile and beautiful that I feared I'd never see again: flowers. Real ones. Growing out of THE GROUND:

See them there amongst all the dead and shriveled things? I don't know exactly what they are, they may actually be weeds, but I CARE NOT. They are pretty and colorful, and we worship them. As I was over there snapping this photo, I even saw a bee hovering nearby. A REAL LIVE BUMBLE BEE!! Normally, I steer clear of such creatures, but I practically threw this one a party:

"Welcome to our yard, dear bee! I'm so glad to see you! Go tell your friends to come pollinate as well!"

And things were looking even livelier in the front yard:

Tulips baby! They're on their way. We'll have a party for them as well.

Then we left for Mass, and I am just in love with my parish community. Mass was as beautiful as ever, I loved the first reading from the book of Acts (4:32-35). It harkens back to my parish theme: a sense of community:

"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, but those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need."

I just love that. Not a complete analogy, of course, but it is so soothing to me to think of all of us, our communities of faith both local and around the world, in this thing together. We're here for each other, supporting each other and doing our best to give witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Mass, we sat and chatted with our friend Kendra for a bit. She has an art show coming up featuring her work, and we're planning to attend. While we discussed the details, Fr. Joe came over and sat with us. What chatted about his upcoming vacation and how he was going to a party later in the day to watch the Masters. I mean...I love this guy! He's the sort of congenial priest I could imagine inviting over for dinner with the family. He's very social and approachable, and I'm so grateful that we have him.

When we got back home, Henry went to a friend's house, so Mike and I took Anne out for a walk with her tricycle. Before she got on, Anne laid flat on the bare driveway:

"Mommy, look. The sun!"

We have been so, so deprived, my poor children. :0

How was your Divine Mercy Sunday, dear reader?

Friday, April 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 76} Sorrow, joy and consolation this Easter Octave, edition...

Happy Easter Friday everybody! It's a gloomy day here in WNY, but April showers bring May flowers, right? We're going with that. April showers also melt record February snowfall, so we'll take that too. :0 It's been an emotional start to the Easter season for me, so let's chronicle.

-1- In your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of a friend's husband...

The husband of a dance troupemate of mine had been ill for well over a year, in need of a liver transplant. Earlier this week, he passed away. He was just 43. :( Would you take a moment to say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Mike, and for strength during this tragedy for his lovely wife Lara? It's such a heartbreaking situation.

-2- But things are going better for young Julia...

I mentioned last Friday that the daughter of a friend is going through a trying bout with cancer right now. Well, initial results for her first set of treatments are in, and they are *excellent.* Although she still has a long road of chemotherapy ahead of her, the fact that her body is responding so well to the treatment is a tremendously good sign. We are all quite thrilled about this. Keep up the prayers, good prayer warriors!

-3- It's a Marian Consecration start date!

April 10th marks a potential start date of the 33 day preparation period to consecrate oneself to Jesus through the intercession of His mother. That makes the consecration date May 13th, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This is the first time I've ever used this time window during the year for a Marian consecration renewal, I usually start on January 9th and pray the consecration prayers on February 11th, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. But..., this year I forgot. Oops. :) I was on a second honeymoon trip with Mike, so I had a good excuse. At any rate, I use the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley:

If anybody is interested in this, please do join in! I see that it is now available for Kindle, and I don't think it was several years back when I purchased my print copy. Instant gratification! And quick-like-a-bunny joining in with Tiffany in prayer! ;-)

-4- Summer plans are taking shape...

I often dread the summer heat, but this year, after the winter we had, I'm actually looking forward to it. Exhibit A being the fact that I'm voluntarily going to Atlanta in early June for the Catholic New Media Conference. ;-) And I can't wait! But in addition to that, Mike and I talked this week about some dates that we want to reserve for summer activities with the kids. Baseball games, hikes, fireworks, all good stuff.

-5- And speaking of good stuff...

Summer dance gigs are lining up, and I look forward to this all year long. Especially with our Lara going through such a tough time, we are all rallying around her and trying to raise her spirits. She's looking forward to the coming rehearsals and performances as a way to get her mind off of things a bit, and we certainly have an interesting repertoire this year. Saidi canes, gigantic veil wraps and Shaabi folk dance... Betcha can't wait for the stories that are to come. ;-) It's almost certain that I will at some point become engulfed in the gigantic veil and nearly fall off the stage. Almost.certain. :0

-6- Anne's birthday gift!

As I mentioned yesterday, Anne's birthday is next month, and she has asked for a St. Kateri doll. Ta da! She has been ordered:

This would be from Saintly Silver, on Etsy. I can't wait til she comes in the mail! I'm hoping she arrives in time, since they are made to order and I know the wait list can be six weeks, so we'll see.

-7- New spiritual memoir alert!

This morning on Twitter, I happened to see someone tweet about Rachel Held Evans' new memoir, which is slated for release next week, on April 14th:

I absolutely adore memoirs like this. I read and enjoyed Rachel's A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and while I don't agree with her on everything, she is an excellent and interesting Christian writer, and I am pleased to support her work. I plan to download this book to my Kindle the instant I'm caught up on my book club reading. It's currently perched on my wish list. :)

All right everyone, have a fantastic weekend! I have to work the reference desk tomorrow afternoon (insert groan) so I'll be tweeting a lot, I presume. ;-) Other than that, I'll talk to you on Monday!

And head to This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Need a quick gift for someone receiving a sacrament in May?

I just love this time of year, don't you? Springtime, new beginnings, Easter...and sacraments of initiation coming up in May. Last year, I just reveled in Henry making his First Communion, I enjoyed that so thoroughly. This year, we don't know anyone receiving a sacrament, and it'll be quite a while until Henry reaches Confirmation age (at least the way they do it in our diocese) or for Anne to receive First Reconciliation, so I'm living vicariously through others. :) I *am* however, on the prowl for birthday gifts for Anne, whose birthday is May 18th, so I was looking and had a few ideas that will work for those needing a gift for First Communion or Confirmation.

Saintly Silver on Etsy, whom I've mentioned before *heart* has a section of Quick Ships of already assembled dolls, ideal for anyone needing one in early May.

She's got 32 dolls listed in the Quick Ship section right now, which is pretty awesome. They usually are on a 6 week schedule to ship, since her order queue is so long and her shop so popular. But she prepares ahead for her rush periods, of which the May sacraments are one. She has boy and girl First Communion dolls (like the one pictured above), with the Anima Christi prayer on the back and a "In Honor of your First Holy Communion" notation. She also has angels, St. Patrick, Mary, and the Holy Family ready for immediate shipment.

Allison also has her rosary shop stocked with rosaries, most of which are ready to ship (just make sure to check for the "Made to Order" indication and avoid those if your deadline is pretty tight). This one in particular is ideal for First Communion, no?

I love the chalice center. But she has a ton of in-stock selection, all beautiful! I like the availability and selection given that First Communions are a mere 4 weeks away.

Do you know anyone receiving First Communion or Confirmation this year?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How is your Easter season going?

Morning all! I have a busy work day today filled with meetings (let's all groan together in harmony, shall we?) so this will be somewhat brief, but I still wanted to touch base with everyone. I was listening to Monday Morning Catholic's Triduum episode on my commute in, and thus dwelling on our current place in the Easter octave, that is the eight days we celebrate a monumental feast such as this one...

Easter is a time of new beginnings, it seems that way to me every year. Everything feels fresh and new. The weather (hopefully; we still have some snow here, but the piles are getting smaller every day), new baby birds and animals, the return of flowers and green things, and the liturgy. We're singing the Gloria again, and saying "Alleluia" for the first time in what feels like forever. And fresh from a Lenten visit to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we all feel revived in our spiritual lives. Hopefully. :)

The spiritual life is never predictable, no? I know this very well, as I'm sure you all do too. I did get to Confession this year, but there have been years where I planned to but didn't make it. Or maybe right after visiting the Sacrament, a spiritual struggle ensued over something you thought was long behind you. Or maybe you feel inexplicable spiritual dryness where just days before you felt vibrancy and renewal. It's never an easy thing, to be sure.

This Easter I'm reflecting back on my experiences during the Triduum with much gratitude. I'm so grateful that I was able to, for the first time, attend all of the liturgies. I'm certain there will be years where that does not happen for any number of reasons, but we do what we can. I enjoyed my experiences very much, and I love that I got to share each of them with someone else - Henry, Anne, Mike and my mother-in-law. It was truly beautiful.

Now, though, we're in Easter and I'm thinking: what's next? It's never boring, that's for sure. I'm excited to see what is to come. Anne's birthday is next month, and with her turning 4, and Henry turning 10 later this year, I feel like life has shifted a bit. Oh right, and I'm older too, yes? :0 It's a gentle shift, but there it is. Am I finally a grown up now? ;-) I feel responsible, but I don't always feel like a *grown up*. When I was Henry's age, and saw adults who are mine and Mike's age now, they seemed SO much older than we are, ha! In many ways, besides acquiring (please God!) a bit more wisdom and experience, I don't feel a whole lot different than when I was 20. But I know that I am different. I just don't feel older, if that makes any sense. But I'm happier, and just as excited for whatever lies ahead.

Those are my reflections early this Easter. How about you? As we embark on Easter season, what do you suspect or hope God has in store for you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fun spring knitting, and what's that in the garbage can? Oh. Winter knitting gone horribly awry :0

Good day to you all, and as you can see from the title, I decided to pen a light crafting post for today. It's my first day back at work since the Triduum began, and I'm feeling a little blue. I need a pick-me-up! And I always enjoy writing these posts.

So, what have I been working on craft-wise in recent weeks? Things that are springy, to be sure. I used the basic egg pattern from Easter Knits to make this fetching little guy for Anne:

Anne has named him "eggy." :) There are some lovely Fair Isle egg patterns in that book, but I was low on time and went the easy, self-striping route. ;-) Anne also received her much demanded penguin:

He's a baby Emperor penguin, hence the gray body. And I gave him a scarf to hide a slightly wonky neck, don't want him getting a complex. ;-) Anne loves him:

He's already showing signs of giving in to his wonky neck, he's been cuddled and squashed so much. I'm thinking of performing a little surgery and giving him some more stuffing, but Anne expresses much trauma whenever I mention this, and she sleeps with him every night, so no hope of me doing this on the sly. That remains an option though, we'll see how he holds up. The important thing is that she loves him.

Henry has requested a stuffed alien from that same pattern book, which is this one by the way:

I'm hoping to get to him this spring as well. Henry also loves handknit socks, and I have a pair for him in the queue, as soon as I finish the Easter pair I'm working on for myself:

I love self-striping sock yarn, as does Henry. :) This is a specifically Easter colorway, Henry's is called Gingerbread, so obviously leftover from Christmas, but this bothers him not in the least. He's such a good boy, and truly appreciates his knit socks.

So, those are all the GOOD crafting things I've had going on. :) There has been one unfortunate project leftover from the winter, and well... Let's just say that that one went so badly, I don't even have any photographic evidence of it, that's how much I hated it. :0 I rather wish I had saved the photos I took, because they would have provided endless amusement at this point for both you and I, but I was so traumatized I deleted the entire project from my Ravelry gallery, and so my Sunset Cardigan is lost to history.

*everyone breathes a sigh of relief*

This was one of those projects that I felt duty bound to knit because during a sale, I had bought some unfortunate yarn that I later regretted. Has this ever happened to you?

"Oh wow, what a great price on a high quality fiber! The color isn't really something I'd usually pick, but it's very...eclectic! It's different, and I like it. And the price is amazing! I really should buy this."

So I do. And then it sits in my yarn stash. And it sits some more. When the year point rolls around, it glares at me each time I dip into my worsted weight wool bin and don't pick it up. I think to myself that I just need to find the perfect pattern for it, given it's eclectic nature, and it sits some more.

Finally, I make the decision that this yarn has to go. Far too stubbon to try and list it for sale on Ravelry, I find a simple cap sleeved cardigan pattern and get to work, telling myself that I canNOT buy more yarn until this stuff is used up. I feel virtuous.

And so I knit. And knit. And knit. Stockinette stitch, back, and forth, back and forth, until I fear that all creativity has been sucked out of my very soul. But I heroically soldier on. I bought this yarn, gosh darn it, I'm going to use it up. The body looks weird by time I finish, but I add the ribbed trim anyway, and well.

I hated it. :0 Hated it, hated it, hated it. I have some knitting friends who, when they hate a project, angelically pull the yarn back out so that they can reuse it to make something else. Not I, my friends. I hope you're not disappointed in me. :0 But once I hate something, I hate it, there are no second chances. I never wanted to look at that yarn again, and now that it's not here to glare at me any further I'm just going to say it: IT WAS UGLY. It was ugly, and I'm not apologizing to it any further. It had to go. It was so ugly, I couldn't even donate it to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, because nobody else should have to wear something that ugly either.

I suppose I feel a little guilty, but I'm just glad that that torture is over. ;-) Lots of bad mojo removed from my yarn bins. All of the other yarn has already thanked me.

Have you ever had a project not turn out the way you envisioned? Are you making anything this spring? Do chime in. :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

He is risen! Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Monday to all of you! Indeed this day dawns so much brighter than Good Friday. Although her situation is still quite serious, and she has a long and difficult road of treatment ahead, Julia's family got some good news over the weekend that an MRI of her brain revealed no cancer cells, and that is cause for rejoicing. Keep those prayers coming!

And in other good news, Easter was simply beautiful. Granted, Easter season is far from over. We're only on day 2 of the Octave, and Easter season lasts until Pentecost, so much Easter celebrating to continue! :) But as for Easter weekend, I am left feeling so very grateful for my family and my faith. Henry and I attended the Easter Vigil with my mother-in-law, and oh! That is officially my very favorite liturgy of the entire year. I can't imagine ever missing it again.

We entered our parish just before 8 pm Holy Saturday to find the altar beautifully decorated with flowers:

...and we were all clamoring with excitement. :) There were 3 people entering the Church this Easter, one Catechumen and two Candidates. We started with the blessing of the fire, and then the beautiful procession in the darkened church, where we all lit our small tapers from the large Easter candle, and then cantor sang the Exsultet. Henry elbowed me:

"Mom. This is a very long song."

"I know, Honey. It will be done soon."

It wasn't. :0 But hey. It's *magnificent*. As I looked around in the darkness at all of those lit candles, I was reminded of our larger worldwide family of faith/communion of saints, and how no matter what happens, I always have that. And God.

We made our way through the Old Testament readings, and for the first time I realized (probably because our pastor mentioned it before we got started) that all of the Easter Vigil readings are about important events in salvation history. The creation story, the sacrifice of Abraham, the Exodus of the Israelites to the Promised Land, etc. And the Psalms! It was a joy to sing them. I'm not really a singer (that is to say, I'm not very good at it :0) so I sometimes shy away from singing in church. Not Saturday. I joined right in. And the Gloria!


The bells throughout! So, so joyful.We moved through the Epistle and the Gospel, a short but powerful Homily, and then on to the baptismal liturgy. MY FAVORITE PART. I cry here every year, despite the fact that the people receiving the sacraments are total strangers to me. So, so moving to see people enter the Church and our parish community. I was in heaven during the Litany of the Saints, and then the sacraments of initiation were administered. We all renewed our baptismal promises and were dutifully sprinkled with holy water. :) By the time we got to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we were about an hour and a half in, but Henry was holding up like a champ. I absolutely LOVE this liturgy. I hope to never miss it again. All told, it was just under two hours. Well worth it.

Easter morning dawned with snow on the ground here in WNY. :0 But even that did nothing to damper my Easter joy.

Easter selfie
I had a new dress, as did Anne:

New Elsa dress :)
Henry also looked very fetching in a polo shirt and nice pants, but declined to be photographed. ;-) The four of us headed to the 10 am Mass, where we kibbutz-ed with our new friends and were present for another glorious liturgy.

Our return home heralded Easter baskets, and both kids received chocolate (of course), a few small toys, two new saint dolls, and a rosary. Anne has St. Blaise and Our Lady of Lourdes:

Henry received St. Blaise and St. Stephen:

...who went on to hang out with St. Isidore the Farmer and Henry's other saints that he keeps on a shelf:

And then Mike and I got to work baking a ham, mashing sweet potatoes, and whipping up a dessert. By the time our sets of parents arrived at 4 pm, we were ready for celebratory Easter wine and cocktails. ;-) A fabulous time was had by all.

This Easter in particular I am counting my blessings, of which there are many, and feeling grateful for every moment that I get to enjoy them.

How about you dear reader? How was your Easter? I demand that you tell me all about it in the comments. ;-)