Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Church Triumphant: Spotlight on St. Blaise

It's the last Thursday of the month (how did that happen?!) hence it must be time for The Church Triumphant! This month Cristina is writing about St. Agnes (her feast is January 21st), and I chose to focus on St. Blaise. I've been mentioning him quite a bit on the blog, and his feast day is approaching on February 3rd. Plus, I've always been fascinated by the ritual of the blessing of throats surrounding his feast. What's that all about?

SO. I went and did a little research on St. Blaise to prepare for this post *adjusts glasses* He lived during the fourth century, and we all know how martyred saint stories went back then, unfortunately. Which is to say that grotesque, horrific-sounding methods of torture and execution abounded. Lovely, I know. :-\ So, we had poor St. Blaise here, and he was a physician and bishop. Part of his legend is that animals would approach him for healing, but would not disturb him if they found him praying. The authorities at the time weren't quite so considerate, and discovered by them in prayer, he was arrested for being a Christian. While in prison, he ministered to his fellow inmates and during this time performed the act for which he is most well known. A child began to choke on a fish bone, and St. Blaise saved him by extracting the bone. Hence, each year on his feast day, we invoke the intercession of St. Blaise against all ailments of the throat.

Following this endearing scene, St. Blaise was martyred. He was thrown into a lake to drown, but that didn't work out the way his persecutors imagined it would. Hence, they beat him (wool combs were involved *shudder!*) and then beheaded him. Because he was a physician, he is also the patron against all sorts of diseases and afflictions, and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In his iconography, he is depicted holding two blessed candles, which are used in the throat blessing ritual, and with a child, wearing the vestments and mitre of a bishop.

This year, I really wanted to pray the St. Blaise novena with my kids. He is a patron for children, and I thought it would be a lovely tradition to pray the novena using their intentions, and then observe his feast day via the blessing of the throats. I even got all Catholic nerdy on them and bought each child a St. Blaise saint doll in commemoration of our efforts. Henry's is painted wood:

St. Blaise, created by the talented Gary at St. Luke's Brush
And Anne's is felt:

St. Blaise, created by Saintly Silver
Both dolls have arrived and are ready to go, and we're all excited about getting our throats blessed, but... Well, as things often go in Catholic parenting world, the best laid ritualistic plans often go awry. First, I forgot to pray the novena prayers with them on what should have been the first day, but no matter! We started the next day. Anne was all excited to light our votive candle and settle in for prayers, but Henry was very busily doing his best to distract and annoy her the entire time we were attempting to do this, and the prayers for this particular novena are a bit on the long side for kids to sit through. Neither had a compelling intention to offer when the time came, and the whole thing felt a bit like a bust. So, what I've been doing is each day asking St. Blaise to please intercede for my children, and have left the novena situation at that. :) We will observe the blessing of throats (Henry at school on the feast itself, Anne and I most likely on the closest Sunday, that's how my parish usually does it), and I will give them each their dolls with some explanation of how St. Blaise came to be the patron of throats.

So. :) Does anybody else have a devotion to St. Blaise or enjoy his feast and the blessing of throats? Are you doing anything special with your kids? Do tell me all about it in the comments.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Catholic Book Club: Mother Teresa - Come Be My Light

Happy Catholic Book Club Wednesday, everyone! Before we get started with the business at hand, I wanted to mention that as part of the promotion for the release of Erin McCole Cupp's new short story Working Mother (and the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas!) an interview with me discussing my family and working outside of the home is on Erin's blog today. Please do check it out!

Back to our book selection for January. Today I am pleased to be reviewing Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, ed. and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk. I developed a devotion to Bl. Mother Teresa last year after falling in love with a rosary that I inevitably added to my collection (it is pointless for me to try and resist new rosaries based upon the logical statement that I already have enough to arm my entire block as Official Prayer Warriors, so I just give in to my baser desires :0)

I used this rosary to pray a 54 day novena over the autumn:

Photo & rosary by Rosaries by Allison
 Suddenly, I couldn't get Bl. Mother Teresa out of my mind. I have a small picture hanging in my office with one of her most well known sayings, which is: "I know that God will never give me more than I am able to handle, I just wish He didn't trust me so much." She's an interesting gal, that Bl. Mother Teresa, infamous for her holiness and work amongst the poor. So how does this book contribute to her legacy?

This is a fascinating book because it is a collection of her letters to spiritual advisors. So, we get to read her own writings, as well as commentary on them from someone who actually knew Bl. Teresa and is actively involved in her Cause for Canonization, and that's one heck of a powerful combination. The book begins all the way back with her initial call to religious life, and chronicles her years with the Sisters of Loreto and her calling to found the Missionaries of Charity. It offers a lot of interesting insight since we are reading Bl. Mother Teresa's own words, and they offer a glimpse into her very human insecurities and fears. Saints often seem like exalted beings whose lives we could never possibly emulate, but they had thoughts and anxieties the same as you and I. Reading this book made me feel very close to Bl. Teresa and indeed our entire Communion of Saints, and reminded me that I can and should ask for their intercession as frequently as possible. We should, after all, be asking our friends to pray for us. :)

I will say that this is not a quick read. ;-) It took me quite a long time to get through this book, and that is not a criticism in any way. This is a deep spiritual text, and to truly absorb the wisdom it contains one has to take their time with it. As such, this book is ideally suited to sitting on your end table for nightly lectio divina, a few pages to a chapter at a time, or tucked into your car's center console to accompany you to Adoration.

I absolutely recommend this book for in-depth spiritual reading. I also loved the Appendices, which included some retreat notes that Mother Teresa kept, as well as the proposed Rule for her Missionaries of Charity community, which as a religious order nerd really appealed to me. :) It's list price is $17 for the paperback edition, and is under $12 for the Kindle version.

Has anybody else read this book? Do leave your feedback in the comments. And come back on February 25th when the Catholic Book Club heads back into the realm of fiction for Book 2 in the I Am Margaret series, The Three Most Wanted, by Corinna Turner. I LOVED Book 1 and am chomping at the bit to get to this installment in the series! This is currently a mere $3.88 for Kindle, so download to read along with me!

* I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week...

Yes, I forced him to pose for this picture ;-)
Morning all, and happy Tuesday! It's Catholic Schools Week here in my diocese, as I think it is nationwide, so I thought I'd put together a quick highlight post of some of my previous missives on this subject.

This is an interesting topic to me because I've dipped my toe into both the public and private spheres. I'm a product of public school. I had a great experience in elementary school, but the junior and high schools I attended were a bit rough. When I had Henry, my assumption was that we would send him to public school as well, and we live in a district with very nice schools. While he was in kindergarten, I started thinking about Catholic school for the first time, and I wrote about how that came about back in January 2011 (when I was pregnant with Anne, awww!) And then we attended some of the affiliated open houses (part 1 and part 2), and we just fell in love with his current Catholic school. While I was looking for these posts, I came across this one about both registering Henry at the school and calling my parish to schedule Anne's baptism. It's rather amusing. :0

And I've been happy with our decision ever since. It's a sacrifice, because we have to budget for it, but to see how he's thriving there, and the adorable things he brings home from the religion curriculum, it's all worth it. I know that everyone has different options available to them, and what is right for your family could be completely different from mine, this is simply my experience.

Did you go to Catholic school, or do your kids? Do leave a comment. And tomorrow hurry back for the Catholic Book Club, we'll be discussing Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Of home blessings and "Frozen" sightings...

Ahhhh, Monday. And the first day of classes for the spring semester here. I'm already hip deep in panicky student emails and lengthy journal citation questions on chat reference.

*long suffering librarian sigh*

But I wanted to touch base about my weekend. Much cuteness abounded. Before we get to Disney on Ice, I wanted to mention a few Catholic-y details from Sunday morning. We went to Mass at 10 am, like usual, and Anne excitedly processed up with the other kids for Children's Liturgy of the Word. Upon her return, she announced that the teacher had told them all about how Jesus was in their hearts and they could talk to Him. I mean...PRECIOUS. She even did this little heart indicator when she said it. It was so cute I could've died.

Following the closing hymn, we took our newly procured holy water container to the back vestibule and filled it up (there is holy water on tap back there, is it any wonder I love this parish so much?!) so that we can perform a house blessing this week. Our house has never been blessed, and although I'd prefer that a priest do it, it's nice to know that we can do it ourselves using holy water. So this is on our Catholic To-Do List for the week. So is the St. Blaise novena, which I *forgot* to pray with the kids last night.

#epicCatholicfail

But I've learned this novena lesson before. When you fall off the horse, get right back on! So we'll start tonight, I'm sure St. Blaise won't mind.

After Mass, Anne and I prepared to head to Disney on Ice with my mom, which was their "Princesses & Heroes" show. Anne got all gussied up:

And we took a selfie before we left the house:

We drove to a park and ride, and then took the train down to the ice arena. The instant we got seated on a train car, a multitude of little blue Elsas boarded with us. As did children in Olaf hats and other assorted handmade Elsa and Anna items. That movie has created quite the phenomenon.

We arrived at the venue and got settled with snacks that cost triple what they should have (*eyeroll*) and it was time for the show to start. Excited energy was high when Tinker Bell appeared at center ice. We saw some segments from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White... When the first half ended, a collective gasp went up that the entire arena heard:

"WHERE ARE ELSA AND ANNA?!"

Because let's face it. That's why we were all there. Disney's specific "Frozen" show isn't coming to Buffalo this year, and every single little girl in attendance was going to "Princesses & Heroes" to see Elsa and Anna. That's it, that's the only reason. Snow White is going to get a complex, at this point.

I hustled Anne to the ladies room during intermission, and in the stall next to us could be heard a little girl behaving very badly, back sassing her mother.

"If you don't start behaving, I'm going to take you home, AND THEN YOU WON'T SEE ELSA AND ANNA!!"

Yep, told you. Breaking out the big guns.

We were back in our seats for the second half, Anne clutching a new Elsa plush that my mom bought her:


"ELSA, I LOVE YOU *SO SO* MUCH!!"

*kissing noises!*

The second half included a really cool Sleeping Beauty segment with a fire-breathing dragon, but nobody cared. :0 When Anna stepped onto the ice to sing about Coronation Day, everyone was on the edge of their seat. When Elsa appeared on the balcony, that brought the house down.

Little girls sang along with "Let it Go" and were bouncing out of their chairs in excitement. Anne demanded to go down to the ice so that she could say hello to Elsa and Anne (request denied). This was the longest sequence in the show, and for good reason. Everybody loved it.

And so, a good time was had by all. Plush Elsa was lovingly doted on for the rest of the evening, and Anne wants to watch Frozen tonight while Mike teaches and Henry is at wrestling practice. Again.

How was your weekend, dear reader? :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 66} January Ordinary Time roundup edition...


Happy Friday everybody! I know I've talked about Ordinary Time already (being anything but ordinary, that is), but as I was brainstorming for ideas for this post, they all related back to the Ordinary Time thing, so... there you have it! ;-) These are the thoughts swirling about in my head on this chilly January day...

-1- Ordinary Time, how do I love thee...

I adore the specialness of Advent and Lent, and how those seasons feel set apart to focus on things of a spiritual nature, but Ordinary Time has a lot to offer as well. Lots of good feast days abound, and I enjoy focusing on each of them. In fact, I will mention two down below, so keep reading. :) Ordinary Time also offers an opportunity to try out new routines in prayer or frequenting the sacraments, as a way of making a plan of attack for the next major liturgical season, which in this case is...

-2- What's that off in the distance? Ash Wednesday? I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Ash Wednesday, yes. It heralds the beginning of Lent, but this year it heralds something else as well, so I'm kind of ignoring it right now. It's my birthday (of all the coincidences...) and this year I will turn, ahem, 40. :-\ It is what it is, I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but on the other hand my life has never been better, so why not celebrate? And celebrate I will. It seems to me that milestone birthdays mean that your birthday fun should last all year, no? No mere single day party for this birthday girl! I have plans, and I will share them closer to the day, stay tuned for epic fun. :0 But back to Lent! I'm sure that I'll be doing some good stuff on the blog in commemoration, and Cristina will be involved, we were just scheming about that. So stay tuned!

-3- The ever industrious Catholic Librarian Children...

My kids really enjoy the rituals that I incorporate into our home life as reminders of our faith, and I thought that my current foray into a stream of good novenas would be nice to include them in. I plan to start that this weekend with the St. Blaise novena, see take # 5 below. :) Henry has always enjoyed lighting a votive candle when we pray, so we'll likely do that. I need to come up with a good time to do all of this since Anne goes to bed earlier than Henry (thus a general bedtime theme won't work) and on Fridays I'm not even home for Anne's bedtime since I'm at dance rehearsal. I'm thinking after dinner, and after the kitchen is cleaned up. Maybe we could do this right in the living room? I will experiment and report back in. The fact that they will try to annoy each other and argue during the proceedings ("Stop it HENRY!!") goes without saying. Keeps things interesting, to be sure.

-4- St. Francis de Sales, to the rescue!

So, my first novena of the year was St. Francis de Sales, which wraps up today. I had a specific intention that I was praying for involving his patronages of teaching and writing, and I feel it is being answered. I love when that happens. :) His feast day is tomorrow, so that's a great day to wing up a prayer for the intercession of St. Francis de Sales if you have an intention for him!


-5- Get your throat requests ready, novena to St. Blaise starts Sunday!

OK, so I mentioned that I want to pray this novena with my children. St. Blaise is known for being the patron of those with ailments of the throat, due to his intervention with a boy choking on a fish bone back in the day. But he is also the patron of children generally, so some great intention fodder right there. Hence the reason I want to include Henry and Anne in this novena as I will be praying for them. As I mentioned, the novena begins Sunday, runs through February 2nd (feast of the Presentation!) and I have created a special page with the prayers included. Pray along with me leading up to his feast day of February 3rd!


-6- The Adoration chapel is...OPEN!

I have a new Ordinary Time goal of getting to Adoration weekly, even if I can't spend a full hour. Hey, a Holy Fifteen Minutes benefits everyone. ;-) And this week, despite some snafus in the past with the chapel being closed, it was open and all was good. I really feel a difference when I go to Adoration. No visions are appearing or anything, but it's like I'm better able to deal with things that come up and feel at peace with how they turn out, even if they didn't turn out the way I originally anticipated. Classes start here again on Monday, and I'm hoping that the work-related busyness that will inevitably ensue won't interfere with this new weekly joy.

-7- Catholic Book Club coming on Wednesday!

Next Wednesday is our scheduled Catholic Book Club day for January, and this month we're reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk. This is certainly an ambitious title for our Ordinary Time :) and I look forward to discussing it with all of you come Wednesday. If you've read the book, please do prepare to chime in with your comments!

All right, I'm off. Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I'm taking Anne to see Disney on Ice on Sunday, and I couldn't be more excited:

"MOMMY. Are Princesses Elsa and Anna going to be there? Can I hug them, Mommy, and kiss them?! I want to make a drawing for them Mommy!!"

I will talk to you all on Monday with details. And do check out other 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tales from an evening with an overtired 3 year old...

In the home of the Catholic Librarian at approximately 7:30 pm last night:

"Anne, it's time for bed, Honey."

*Henry looks gleeful*

"But I'm not tired Mommy."

*eyes droop*

"Well, you will be when you get up there. Gather Bernadette and let's go."

Bernadette is her new baby doll's name. Isn't that precious?

"But I DON'T WANT TO MOMMY."

*sassy face*

We're getting precariously close to what I call her Village of the Damned expression, so I tread carefully, not wanting to cause devastation to fall down upon my evening. Mike is at play rehearsal, and I like to enjoy the short bit of quiet time built into that schedule between when the kids go to bed and when he gets home.

"Mommy will read you two books upstairs."

"The big Frozen book?!"

I am sick to death of the big Frozen book and she knows it, so she's seriously taking advantage of the situation.

*long suffering sigh*

"Yes, one of them can be the big Frozen book. But let's get upstairs and get your jammies on."

We proceed upstairs, Bernadette in tow. Sleeper is applied, teeth are brushed. Stuffed animals and dolls are organized onto the bed. We snuggle in and read the big Frozen book which is FREAKING LONG, but I'm banking on my quiet time to come.

"Ok Mommy, now Winter Days in the Big Woods!"

We read Winter Days in the Big Woods.

"Ok Honey, time for bed."

"But Mommy."

I knew this was coming.

"Can't you read me A Little Women Christmas? PLEASE Mommy?!"

Oh sigh. Even *I* enjoy A Little Women Christmas.

"All right, but that's absolutely it! No more books after that, Mommy's voice is tired."

Mommy's whole body is tired, but never mind that.

"Ok Mommy."

We read A Little Women Christmas.

"Time for bed, Anne."

"OK."

She snuggles in with all of her friends. A good night kiss is administered and away I go, off to the freedom that is my spot on the couch, beside my knitting and a glass of Chardonnay. I still have to get Henry to bed in a bit, but that's cake.

30 minutes later...

*wailing*

Oh sigh.

"Anne, are you OK, Honey?"

No response. *more crying*

"What's wrong, Sweetie?"

*shaking of head ensues*

"Can't you tell Mommy what's wrong, Honey?"

"It's, it's...ST. THERESE!! I WAS SO WORRIED ABOUT HER!!"

St. Therese is her beloved saint softie that she sleeps with each night:

"Well, St. Therese is right here, Honey. She's OK."

"I know, but she fell, and I could not find her! I was SO SCARED MOMMY!"

"Ok Sweetie, well St. Therese is all safe now. Can I tuck you both back into bed?"

*soothing hair stroke*

"NO. I don't want to go to sleep now, Mommy. I WANT TO STAY WITH YOU."

Well. This is not headed *anywhere* good.

"Can I go with you to read a story about a saint with Henry, Mommy?"

"I suppose." *offers it up*

Saint stories ensue in Henry's room, then I tuck them each into bed. By this point, Anne is more tired and a bit more amenable to going back to her bed. As I close her door, I hear the opening chords of "Holly Jolly Christmas" start up in her lilting voice.

A half an hour later, when Mike gets home, SHE'S STILL SINGING.

*another sigh*

We're all tired come morning.

Joy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Catholic Nook: Chaplet of Our Lady of the Snows

Happy Catholic Nook Wednesday everybody. :) These posts can really be about any sort of Catholic devotion or practice, but I notice that I've devoted quite a few of them to chaplets. The reason for this is, well...I love chaplets. And I own quite a few of them. :0 OK, a LOT of them, if you must know. I have several small pouches that I keep in my purse loaded up with all of them, you know, in case of emergency and I need to whip one of them out and pray. My mom has always had the biggest purses of anyone I've ever known. She carries things around in there like snacks for the kids, water bottles, tissues, and hand sanitizer. I have chaplets. It's my contribution to the world. ;-)

I received a few new chaplets this month, and so this Nook and the next will be devoted to them. I love chaplets because they're usually small and quick to pray, but they pack a powerful punch. They also are tied to a specific saint, title of Our Lady, or devotion (the sacred heart, that sort of thing) and so in my experience, chaplets help me to focus my prayer. What do I have in store for you this month? Settle in with your tea or coffee. :)

In December, I wrote about my devotion to Our Lady of the Snows. Our Lady under this title is credited with a miraculous summer snowfall in Rome. I love asking for the intercession of Our Lady, and the reminder that prayer can work miracles is so soothing to me. I'm also a lover of beautiful snowfalls (generally :)) and so this devotion just really speaks to me. After I wrote that post, I started wondering if there was a specific chaplet devoted to Our Lady of the Snows. Hum...

*librarian zooms in!*

Why yes, there is! And you can see one pictured above, that Allison crafted for me. (and pssst! She has another one just like it listed in her shop. #ChapletEnabler ;-)). The fact that the beads are Snowflake Lapis and Snow Quartz, with a snowflake centerpiece, just adds to the perfection, in my opinion. So how do you pray this chaplet?

This chaplet configuration is very similar to a traditional rosary with five segments of prayers (albeit shorter segments), but with some customizations. To begin:
  • Make the Sign of the Cross on the Crucifix.
  • On the three beads of the "drop," pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.
  • At the centerpiece, pray the Memorare:
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer them. Amen.
  • On the white beads, pray five Hail Marys.
  • On the blue beads, pray:
    Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.
    St. Joseph, pray for us.
    St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.
    St. Eugene de Mazenod, pray for us.
  • Repeat that for each of the five segments. Then, back at the centerpiece, pray the beginning of the Magnificat:
    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day, all generations shall call me blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is his name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
  • Pray a Glory Be.
  • Make the Sign of the Cross, and you're done!
I've used my chaplet several times since I received it, and absolutely love it. The Memorare is one of my favorite prayers, there is something about the lilting Marian phrases that really draw me in. The beads on my particular chaplet are a bit heavier than most of my rosaries, and very smooth, and they feel so solid and comforting moving through my fingers. I just love it.

This isn't a very well known chaplet, at least it seems that way to me. Has anybody else prayed this chaplet before? Do leave a comment. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ordinary Time heralds lots of new things in my life, including my glasses...

Happy Tuesday all! And I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I did. For the most part. The kids fought a lot, that always brings everybody down, but on the whole it was really nice. ;-)

This section of Ordinary Time has felt really refreshing to me, sort of like a new start in my spiritual life in a lot of ways. I've been novena'ing along nicely (new verb, coined right there), and Adoration has been going pretty smoothly, which is great. But I've also noticed some changes with my kids and their spirituality. Anne is suddenly...such a big girl!

*sob!*

She goes up every week now during Mass with the Children's Liturgy of the Word crowd, and is all excited to do so, coloring pictures ahead of time to give to the teacher. I mean, did you ever? She is so cute. This frees me up to actually be able to HEAR the Gospel and the Homily, which I will admit, is a nice amenity. She also brings me rosary beads at home, and asks to pray with me. I'll recite the prayers, and she keeps track of where we are on the beads. Just...

So precious. She keeps asking to go to church, she loves it. Henry, on the other hand, while a very good boy, is definitely going through that "church is boring!" phase. Very age appropriate, to be sure. And he's acting very stubbornly as a result, taking forever to get ready for Mass and to accompany us out to the car. He still loves learning about the saints, but connecting the lives of the saints with Mass attendance just hasn't happened for him yet. I have been praying for him to make a more personal connection with his faith and with God.

As for me, I can feel myself having to adjust and adapt to these new emotions going on with my children. As ever, I'm doing the best that I can, but I fear that I'm screwing it all up somehow. :) Thank God for the guidance that comes from Adoration.

#ThePiecesComeTogether

But in other weekend/changes news, I had my yearly ophthalmology appointment, and we all know how these appointments seem to somehow form an annual ode to my aging process. New year, new me, right? Especially with a milestone birthday coming up in a month. ;-) Happily, I have found a doctor at the practice who is gentle and soft spoken, doesn't tell me I'm old, and also doesn't mandate drops for his patients, so I can actually see to drive home. Brilliant!

I arrived Friday afternoon apprehensive as ever, because I feared that this would be the year. You know what I'm talking about, right? THE 'B' WORD. Bifocals.

*glares*

I have reading glasses, and at work I'm constantly taking them on and off my face. I need them to see my computer screen crisply, but they makes the person coming to the reference desk to talk to me somewhat blurry, so then I have to remove them. But I don't want to move to bifocals. I'm afraid of change, OK, don't judge me. :0

At any rate, I was called back, and the nurse first had me do this peripheral vision test whereby I had to click a clicker thingy whenever I saw a flicker of movement on this little screen. This test is my favorite part of every appointment, because it involves zero discomfort, and I'm certain that I scored 100%. *gold star!* I then had to do the chart reading thing, which I hate, because my left eye is so much weaker and it's depressing how the letters jump around when that eye is the only one I'm using. This is followed by the ever fun pressure test wherein a large wand is pressed to your eyeball and you're told to "just relax!" as if that was remotely a possibility. Then I moved over to the doctor, and he did the usual: "A, or B? B? Ok. B or...C!" thing. The verdict?

"Just a small change. Head out to Ed and he'll help you order new glasses."

Weellllll, that sounds *not bad* I suppose, but small changes in the negative direction over time could mean I'm blind by age 60, right? That's a little worrisome.

Ed is helping someone else when I make my appearance, so I busy myself looking at new frames. It's a good thing I started early, because I took a freakishly long time to make a decision, finally just deciding to be done with it and go with my instinct. Which was to text selfies to Cristina:


"Do you like the brown? Or purple?" Wait. Maybe I should ditch both the brown AND purple and go back to the thicker red ones. What about...

Ed was amused. But I finally made a decision:

This is my scholarly look :0


Then Ed tried to ruin my day:

"Oh. Did you know that he wrote the prescription for progressive lenses?"

*look of pity*

("Progressive," you see, is ophthalmology code speak for "BIFOCAL.")

"Oh. Well. I guess that's what I'll get then."

*look of misery*

"For progressive lenses, there is a minimum size, so let's see if these frames meet that..."

Uh oh. After 30 minutes of agonizing frame-trying-on, now they might be too small?! I definitely favor narrow lens sizes in my frames. Luckily for both Ed and I, my selected frames squeaked in at the minimum. Now to wait two weeks for them and see if I hate them when they come in, huzzah!

How was your weekend, dear reader?

Friday, January 16, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 65} Winter crafts & hobbies edition!


Happy Friday everybody, and wow! It's been a long time since I've been able to link up with 7 Quick Takes. A month, I think.

*tragic!*

But here I am, back and perky. So, what's on tap for today? I've been doing a lot of crafty things, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to that. I've already mentioned a few of them, but believe me, there are others. I'm OCD, remember? So I'll post photos with patterns/instructions where applicable so that you can add these projects to your own queue is you feel so inspired. Some of them are back from Christmas season, but it's never too early to start your holiday crafting!

;-)

-1- Snowflakes abound

I've been in a real snowflake state of mind this winter. I made a bunch of snowflake ornaments, and my favorite is this one that I made for my aunt and uncle:

"Ice Storm Snowflake" supplies and instructions available from Fusion Beads
It turned out cute, though I really should have taken a photo of it *on* the tree, huh? That would have looked better. But I liked it, save for the earring wire used for the hook. It looks a bit like an earring for that gigantic snowman Elsa conjured up in Frozen, but there you have it.

-2- And speaking of Elsa...

Da da DAAAAHHHH!

Free pattern available as "Anna and Elsa Crochet Hats"
Adorable model, I know. :) I made a few of these, intending them as little girl dress up fun for Anne and a giftee. Darling, yes? I'm also going to make the Anna version. The yarn hair was a bit of a pain, but not difficult at all. Just time consuming. And bless my husband for helping to cut all these bits of yarn hair and then LETTING ME PUT IT ON HIS HEAD so that I could braid it when it was all attached. There is a man very secure in his masculinity, right there. I was watching Ken Burns' "Baseball" with him, so I'm sure this was part of why he was so amenable. :)

-3- It's not Christmas anymore, but Tiffany is still talking about The Nutcracker

I love The Nutcracker, I can't help it. When I saw these earrings, I knew I simply HAD to make them:

"Nutcracker Earrings" supplies and instructions available at Fusion Beads
I wore them both before and after Christmas Day, thank you very much. :) I haven't worn them since Christmas season officially ended, *sniffle*. But I will return to you next December, faithful Nutcrackers! When I made these, I accidentally left off one of the blue cube beads, so one Nutcracker was significantly shorter than the other, can't have that, poor guy. He would get a complex. Thankfully, I had spare supplies to redo earring #2.

-4- Back to snowflakes!

This technically *isn't* a snowflake, but I call it the snowflake bracelet, because that's the color palette I was going for. I made this as part of my Secret Santa gift in my craft group:

"Everyday Gem Bracelet" supplies and instructions at Fusion Beads
The inspiration project used lilac beads, and I went with turquoise and crystal AB. I also used a lobster clasp rather than a toggle, those things make me nervous that I'll lose bracelets. I lose so many other things, it's the next logical step. :)

-5- What would January be without Downton Abbey knitting?

I wish that we could watch Downton Abbey in the fall like our friends in the UK, but that's a topic for another post. Downton Abbey always starts in the US right around my wedding anniversary, and the whole situation just gives me happy memories. This year, I chose to participate in a Mystery Knit-along associated with the show, and I'm now done with the first two "clues":

"Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-along 2015" pattern is $6
My fledgling shawl is looking quite large these days, and it's been giving me hints that it feels the cord I'm using on my circular needles is too short. I may need to switch to a longer cable to let it spread it's wings a bit. Since we've used so much of one of the two colors (for me, the variegated colorway), I'm excited to see what will happen next involving the other color, and if aforementioned exciting thing will be lace.

*happy*

-6- Winter dancing!

My troupe generally has less performances in the winter (busy time is summer festival season) so we use the winter to solidify existing choreographies and craft new ones to bust out when we have some bookings. We're planning to rework out tray/wings number, because, you know...

...so many wings. There are 10 of us now, and few venues can house that many of us sweeping gigantic iridescent wings everywhere. Claire mentioned having half of us balance trays, while the other half does wing work. Should be interesting. We're also plotting a new choreography to a classic Middle Eastern piece of music, I always love those. I have rehearsal tonight and am super excited.

-7- So what's next?

Valentine jewelry! I'm compiling my Fusion Beads cart right now. Not that I have fun Valentine's Day plans, granted, I'm working on the reference desk that day.

*heartbreaking music plays*

But that was by design. We all have to pick a few weekends to work, and I knew that Mike and I wouldn't be going out to dinner right on Valentine's Day, so it was a "safe" day for me claim. I swear, the instant I pick "free" weekend days to work, the funnest plans in the universe come to light on the exact days I'm doomed to be sitting at a desk for four hours wearing my glasses and a pitiful expression. But Valentine's Day is safe. Why? It's not because my husband is unfeeling and not making me feel special on that day. It's just that we're both introverts and do not want to deal with the capacity situation going to a restaurant on Valentine's Day entails. Plus, my birthday is February 18th, so we end up going out to a really nice dinner right after Valentine's Day for that. We're planning to have a special dinner at home on the 14th that Mike will prepare while I'm working. That was WAY too long of a story as a foundation for making Valentine jewelry, but you know this about me by now. I will post Valentine jewelry photos as events transpire. ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm off on Monday, so not sure if I'll blog or not. I'll definitely talk to you on Tuesday. In the mean time, head over to This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Saint themes for kids! St. Francis de Sales novena, and adventures in not-so-perpetual Adoration chapels...

Happy beginning to the St. Francis de Sales novena, everyone! :) This novena starts today, and runs through January 23rd. It is perfect for anyone with an intention regarding teaching or writing. Do pray along with us! If you have an intention that you'd like me to include in my own prayers during this novena, just leave a comment on the novena page linked above. :)

Before I get into the saint theme business, I wanted to mention my winter Ordinary Time goals in general, since the novenas are a part of that. I have a weekly Adoration goal, and so far things are going great, but I tell you, the perpetual Adoration chapel I go to isn't making it easy for me. :0 I mentioned that it was closed over the holidays, which is totally understandable. I stopped last week, no problems whatsoever, so I was lulled into a sense of confidence.

*ominous music plays*

Tuesday I hustled out to my car early so that I would have time for a holy 15 minutes prior to heading home. I zoom to the chapel. I park. I walk briskly to the back door of the church near the Adoration chapel. It is locked. I peek inside the window kind of creepily. Right! There is another door along the side. I've been outside for a whole 30 seconds by this point and am getting cold, so I start to hightail it to the side door. As this was ongoing, another car had zipped into the parking lot and made a big sweeping motion to back into the parking spot that I was currently transversing. I was already in the middle of the spot, so it's not like I could go anywhere except to hurry to the other side. Which is what I did, making a "sorry!" face as I did so, but they still nearly mowed me down. :0 But I made it to the side door unscathed, and...it too was locked.

!

This time I wasn't at all subtle about peering in the windows, and I saw a large sign hung on the chapel door saying that it was closed "for construction in the church hallway," whatever that means. So that was a huge bummer, but it did open back up yesterday, so I stopped then. No zoomy cars in the parking lot, so all was well. I love Adoration. It's not like I ever see visions or hear voices when I'm in there or anything, but I feel like the rest of the week following that is just smoother and it's more clear to me what decisions I should make along the way. So, that's going well. :)

For the kids, I mentioned this "saint theme" idea I had. Henry mentioned that he'd like a St. Stephen wooden peg doll to add to his collection, so I've made St. Stephen his theme for the year. :) What I plan to do is read his story with Henry throughout the year in all of the various saint books that he has, and then gift him with some St. Stephen sacramentals as a way of remembering his example. I'm going to ask my favorite Etsy saint doll artist, Gary of St. Luke's Brush, to paint him a St. Stephen doll. He doesn't have a current listing for St. Stephen, but he'll custom make whatever saint you ask, and it would be similar in style to this handsome St. Francis de Sales:


I also have a St. Stephen rosary for him, created by Allison of Rosaries by Allison:


Anne's theme is Our Lady of Lourdes. She's a huge fan of Our Lady (Our Lady Star of the Sea is a real favorite of hers), so I thought this would be a nice one for her. We'll read her story, and she'll receive a felt Our Lady of Lourdes in her Easter basket (shop is Saintly Silver on Etsy):


And an Our Lady of Lourdes rosary:


I'm planning to emphasize these feast days this year, so December 26th for St. Stephen, and upcoming February 11th for Our Lady of Lourdes. In fact, I'm planning on praying the Our Lady of Lourdes novena and trying to include Anne in that as much as I can, I will report in on how that goes. :)

I have some other saint ideas for the kids this year, the first of which involves the feast of St. Blaise, February 3rd. I will devote a whole post to St. Blaise in about two weeks, just after his novena starts on January 25th!

What are your saint traditions with your kids, or that you grew up with? Do report in the comments. :)