Saturday, June 30, 2012

Be More Aware

How aware are you of what is around you?

Do you notice a beautiful sunset even when you're having a bad day?

Do the antics of a small child make you smile even in the midst of disorder?

Does a pretty little flower growing up among the weeds catch your attention?

Are you aware of the small things in life, the things God puts in front of us to remind us of His love for us and all the world?

Every week I meet with a group of friends to pray together and to share how God is working in our lives.  We share how we are approaching our prayer life, what we are studying, reading, or listening to that helps form us as God's people, and how we are using our own lives to spread the Gospel message.

One of the questions we struggle with each week is how did you most feel close to God this week.

It doesn't sound like a difficult question, but it is.  Especially when you have to think about it week after week.  Of course, that is the point.  We should be thinking of it all the time.

For me it comes down to awareness.  I need to be more aware.  And I'm guessing it is an exercise many of us could get more practice at.  So I have a proposal.

During this coming week take some time to be more aware of God's presence in your life.  What makes you smile?  What touches your heart?  What takes you by surprise this week?  A beautiful sunset splashing lots of colors across the sky can remind us of God's love for the world just as much as changing that horribly stinky diaper can remind us of how much God loves His children (i.e. us) and would do anything for us.

Next week I will post about how I recognized God's presence more during the week and I hope you'll add yours too. Be more aware and stay tuned.

Image source MorgueFile

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When I grow up ...

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?  

I wanted to be a writer.  From about the time I was in 4th or 5th grade until sometime in high school, I wanted to be a writer.  That was it.  Creative writing, fiction.  I didn't care if I wrote the great American novel, I just wanted to write and see my writing published.

I won a writing award in 5th grade and a couple times during the middle school years.  Of all the various awards and trophies I got growing up for various activities (swimming, piano, etc.), the writing awards meant the most to me and I think they are still in a box with my grade school stuff.

But in high school I started going a different direction.  Freshman year I wrote a poem that I submitted for the county writing fair and didn't even make it past the school level.  For whatever long-forgotten reason, I never bothered entering again.  This was the time when music became much more all-encompassing of my life.  And so I started leaning in that direction.

In graduate school I had to do a master's thesis.  I clearly remember meeting with my thesis adviser and hearing her tell me that I was a great researcher but not much of a wordsmith.  Ouch!  And she was a prolific writer and very well-known, well-respected figure in her field.  Double ouch!

So after years and years of wanting to be a writer and yet pursuing music instead, I ended up a music librarian.  And I have no regrets.  I believe that God had a plan and He was in control the whole time.  I am where I am for a reason.

But several years ago I got into blogging, totally for fun.  And then last year I started writing for a new blog with a bunch of online friends.  I also have a few publications professionally, but those are mostly researched lists of things or statistics, very little narrative writing.  I still don't consider myself a writer.

And yet, last Friday I sat in a radio studio for an interview and heard my interviewer call me a Catholic writer.  

A Catholic writer?  Me?  Really?

It was an odd thing to hear after all these years.  Is that what I am now?  I don't think so, or um ... I didn't think so.  I read the blogs of  Catholic writers and follow them on Facebook and Twitter and put their books on my wish list hoping one day to find the time to actually read these wonderful wordsmiths.  Yet, I never considered myself to be a part of that group.

Okay, yes, I blog.  But does that make me a writer?  And yes, I write now for another collaborative blog, but I know I'm nowhere near the best writer of that group.  Even so, do these things make me a writer?  Or more specifically a Catholic writer?

I don't know.  I'm still pondering it.  I smile when I think of it, in a how ironic kind of way.  

It's funny how your life can turn out sometimes.  Something you wanted to do but never pursued could still end up being the thing you end up doing.  Maybe not in the way you thought you would do it, but you're still doing it.  And it can completely sneak up on you too!

Image source MorgueFile

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Unproductive Day, Might as well Blog

After my radio interview on Friday I was going to write up a post about a thought I had during and after the interview.  Still planning on that (hopefully later this week) but right now I feel the need to share about my unproductive day instead.

That sounds boring, doesn't it?  But stick with me, hear me out a little ...

We had a rough weekend, the boys have been sick.  Actually, back up, *I* was sick last week, Ethan started to seem a little down on Friday, by Saturday it was obvious he was sick as well.  Peter has a runny nose and was a little fussy over the weekend, but mostly in a good mood.

Which brings us to Monday.  I finally feel well for the first time in 5 days.  Yay!!  Despite my sickness last week I took advantage of the boys being in daycare to work on my sabbatical project.  I did pretty well, despite the sickness.  Monday should have been productive as well.

"Should" being the operative word!  And so the story goes ...

Have to remind myself what my
healthy, happy boys look like.
So cute!
I know when I go to get the boys up Monday morning that they are not going to daycare.  Ethan continues to be fussy, gets upset at the slightest things, and once he starts crying he seems bothered by everything around him.  Poor guy, he makes me so sad.

Lots of crying during breakfast, clinging to mom during the morning, crying anytime Peter touches him ... I find it exhausting.  Both boys are in their cribs for a morning nap BEFORE 10 am.

That was probably partly because they needed it and partly because *I* needed it.  Sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

They slept for an hour ... better than nothing.

More play time, lunch (which means more crying), back to playtime (and crying), and then the doorbell rang.

With two boys crying down in the playroom someone from the electric company is here to install the conservation stuff on our air conditioners.  Not a big deal, it's outside, thankyouverymuch, and goodbye.

More clinging to mom, wiping noses, throw in a load of laundry, start looking at the clock to see if another nap time is in order.  It's only 12:30.

Doorbell rings again.  Apparently the breaker switch on one AC unit is now broken.  This means the AC is not working until someone can come out to fix it.  Greeeeeeeeeeeeat!

Finally just before 2pm, I put the boys down for another nap.  There's more whining going on from two obviously sleepy boys when the doorbell rings again.  At least I know the AC will be fixed!!  With the boys cries carrying through the house via the strategically placed baby monitor in our front hall, the electrician comes in and I take him to the electrical box where he discovers that the circuits aren't all labeled, but he tries one anyway and heads outside.

I run upstairs knowing that there are probably four pacifiers scattered across the boys' room and just as I get them both settled again I hear the electrician come in and call for me.  I just want to yell "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!"  Luckily I don't.

Anyway, he gets the circuits worked out, labels them for the next guy that will need them, and heads back outside.  By 2:30 he is done, ACs are all working, and the boys are finally asleep.

Work on sabbatical project or give up for the day??  That is the question.

My answer: give up.  

Procrastination wins again!

Thankfully, the boys are starting to seem a bit better and my hope is that they will be well enough to go back to daycare on Tuesday.  I should also feel back to 100% and then I can dive back in.  That gives me four days to make some good headway on this project before I go back to working in my office.  Once I am back at work I can continue to work on this project, but it will be along with all my other responsibilities.

Oh responsibility, how I have not missed thee.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Writing Elsewhere

I keep forgetting to share here whenever I have a post up on Catholic Sistas.  Sorry!!  But really, what I'd love to see is all my readers adding Catholic Sistas to their blog readers.  And go "like" the Facebook fan page while you're at it.  :-)

So today I have a new post over on the Sistas blog: A Community of Authentic Catholicism.  You should check it out not because I wrote it but because the blog is awesome and after you read my post you must read posts from the other Sistas. They are all much better writers than I.  You can just humor me, but go read them.

In all honesty, I like this post that I wrote.  I do feel the Holy Spirit had a hand in guiding it, as well as several of my fellow Sistas who rightly steered me in the proper direction when I got a bit derailed in the writing process.  But I read it now and I think, wow, those are my words?  Nope, they are not.  The Holy Spirit must have wanted someone to read those words and made sure I got them in the correct order.  Praise God, He works in amazing ways!

Hope you enjoy and continue to visit!!

No Wheels Needed

Wheels aren't necessary when pure, brute force works just as well.

Peter likes pushing this little musical table across the room.  He'll even get to the other end of the room and move around to the other side of the table and push it all the way back.  And he's not alone, Ethan does it too. 

Amazingly, we do have three other toys that have wheels.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doing Something New!

I'm hesitant to advertise this, so maybe the fact that I'm doing so at the eleventh hour means that no one will have a chance to catch me on the radio.


Why yes, I will be on our local Catholic radio station on Friday evening.  There, I said it.  I'm nervous about this and not entirely sure what to expect.  I hope it will be a fun hour of discussing Catholic topics, my own faith life, plugging Catholic Sistas, and maybe some Gamecock Baseball.

You should be able to listen regardless of where you are, although I will warn you that the online streaming has not always been working for me lately.  It is today, but I can't guarantee what will happen tomorrow.

This is the red box on the website
with the "Listen Live" link.
If you want to listen in, go to Real Life Radio and click on the "Listen Live" link on the right side of the screen.  A new window should pop up, it'll take a moment to load, you'll hear a short advertisement (worth it to keep this service free) and then it *should* go right into streaming the station.

If you're local you can, of course, tune in to 1380 AM or 94.9 FM.

The show (The Mike Allen Show, Not Just a Sports Show) starts at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday evening and is an hour long.

Wish me luck!!

Kitchen Facelife

The house we moved into this spring was well taken care of and had many updates already.  The kitchen was very nicely updated.  Although it had a bit more space than our previous kitchen it didn't have the massive pantry our old kitchen had.  So things were a little tight, even with the additional storage in the basement.

The good news was there was empty wall space that was perfect for adding additional cabinets.  Hubby found a cabinet maker that could get us matching cabinets to what we already had and it was all installed in one afternoon.  Here are the before and after pictures:

Before: the desk area and pantry

Before: the pantry.
Lots of extra wall space that wasn't good for much of anything

Installation!!  One new pantry added.

After: New open shelves
(The little space on the right side was filled in the next week.
Nothing is ever completely straight)

After: Finished pantry and new shelves

After from a different angle.
The doors aren't closed because of the addition of new spice racks
and we hadn't yet moved the inside shelves when I took the picture.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#500 with a Hippopotamus

Welcome to post #500 on Journal of a Nobody!  That seems like a lot to me even if it is over the course of about 6 years.  I'm certainly not the most prolific writer, but it has been fun to share bits and pieces of my life and explore topics of interest in a semi-public space.  So here's hoping for continued fun in the next 500 posts.

Father's Day was this past Sunday and I was kind of a slacker.  I did have picture cards of the boys that I sent to my dad, my father-in-law, the boys' two godfathers, and one for Hubby.  We also went out for breakfast after Mass on Sunday morning.  Otherwise, that was the extent of our Father's Day celebration.

Yes, total slacker here.

However, on Monday I was out running errands alone and made a quick stop at a bookstore.  Hubby has a favorite book among the plethora of books the boys have:

Do you know this book?  Oh, my goodness, it is hilarious.  When I commented on the fact that Hubby picks it up almost every night to read to the boys he explained why:

"What is not to like?  It has verse, funny animals, a happy ending, and a surprise ending."

So I decided that Father's Day needed a little more oomph than I had given it the day before and Hubby needed more books by this author.  I had no idea what a prolific author Sandra Boynton was!  So many to choose from.  I chose three and presented them to Hubby at dinner Monday night.

You know you've done good when Hubby is excited about a few children's board books as a Father's Day gift.  He's so cute!

Monday, June 18, 2012

As Expected

First day of day care for the boys went as expected.  We got into the building, found our way to the correct room, managed to find where our stuff all needed to go, realized we forgot to bring a check to pay for child care services {duh!}, and then got the boys our of their car seats.

Ethan's thoughts: New TOYS!  Small people like me!  Look at the toys!!  Mommy and Daddy who??  Wow, TOYS!

Peter: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Totally what I would have expected.

End of the day report is that the boys did well.  They ate well, slept well, and were overall very good.  Ethan in particular was described as a "very happy baby."

Cute moment of the day: nap time is on little cots.  The boys both slept well and Peter woke up when the other kids started waking up.  Ethan was still sleeping.  Peter moved around some and started checking things out and then climbed up on Ethan's cot with him.  I was told it was very cute and they all wondered if I had them sleeping together at home.  They don't, but I thought it was sweet that Peter crawled into Ethan's cot at the end of nap time.  He needed some brother time.

Overall, successful first day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Entrance Strategy

These days when I am going somewhere I spend my time in the car on the drive over debating my entrance strategy.  This can be quite complicated, there are so many variables from the weather to parking to how the building is situated and more.

Not unlike the days when the debate was more like "Should I arrive on time?",  "Am I too early?", "Am I the appropriate amount of time late without being too late?", "What if I arrive at the same time as so-and-so, should I wait in the car or walk in with them?"  Remember those days??

Yeah, me neither.

My entrance strategy involves safely getting two small children from car to [grocery store, church, restaurant, etc.] wherever.  And even when I have an entrance strategy figured out, I sometimes have to make changes once I get to my destination.

Situation: Meeting a small group from my parish (a new committee) for lunch at Panera (semi-fast food, salad, sandwich, soup place and bakery).  Boys in tow and no help.

The Entrance Strategy Plan: boys' lunch was in the lunch bag I use when I'm working, grab the place mats from the diaper bag and throw those in my purse (leave diaper bag in car); carry the lunch bag and purse one on each shoulder. Take one child out of the car but still in his infant seat and take second child out of his seat and carry him in my arms.  Hope to meet one of the committee members already in the restaurant so someone can grab a high chair.  Hope there are two available high chairs.

One thing I didn't consider in my plan: the small parking lot at this particular restaurant's location.  Something else I hadn't realized, another popular restaurant had moved into an empty space in the same shopping strip.

So yeah ... parking lot was just a wee bit full.  By which I mean ... PACKED!

Solution: I parked at the far end of the shopping center pretty much in the parking lot of the nearby hotel.  Carrying both boys in (one in the infant seat) was not going to happen.  So instead I used the stroller.  Panera is not well set up for a double, side-by-side stroller, which was why I had wanted to avoid using it.  Oh well, I had to roll with it.

Though I did have to do some finagling to get the stroller to the table we had chosen, I did manage it with lots of help from people already seated who moved chairs and tables for me.  People really are super nice!  But once I was at the table it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to feed them in their stroller just because of the space it was taking up.  So we did end up getting two highchairs and I folded the stroller up and set it against the table.

And the boys were great too!!  We had lunch and our meeting and the boys were happy as can be for most of the time we were there.  I was so happy that it was a successful trip.  Plus I had help from the people I was meeting with.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be venturing into a restaurant with two small children who can't walk yet and without the help of my husband, I would have laughed at you!!

Now to figure out how to get them into daycare each morning!!  At least I have four more days to think about our entrance strategy on that one.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Another Week+ in the Books

It has been busy in our household lately.  LOTS going on these days.

First off, last week the boys had a birthday and got to have a cupcake for the first time:
Not quite sure what to do with it
They also got a red wagon from Nanny and Papa:
Enjoying the new wagon with Papa
And little ride-on trains from Grandma and Grandpa:
Checking out the new trains, they make lots of fun noises!
Birthday parties are fun.  But try having one with 40 extra people in your house and two babies who are in a "stranger anxiety" phase.  Phew!!  Those poor boys didn't know what was going on.  (It was fun though, for us!)

Then over last weekend my brother and his girlfriend got engaged!!  Add another wedding to our family calendar!  Right now my sister is getting married next May and now we'll have a second wedding sometime after that.  We are all excited and happy for them!

Monday I spent all morning with the phone by my side waiting to hear the news that I had a new niece or nephew.  My other sister was having her third c-section that morning.  It was the first of her three kids where I wasn't sitting in the waiting room with everyone else.  I'm used to missing things like this because of the distance I live away from them, but this one I had really wanted to be there.  So it made me kind of sad that I couldn't be.  I finally got the call around noon or so and learned I had a new niece.  And she's so cute!!  Looks just like her older sister.

On top of an engagement and a new baby, my dad officially retired (for the second time) on Tuesday.

It was a big few days for my family!

On Wednesday the boys went for their 12 month appointment.  Overall they are healthy, got one shot, got some medication for eczema, and mom got a boost of reassurance that she's still doing this mothering thing okay.

(And really, that reassurance is the most important part of why we take our kids to the doctor, right?  Or is that just me?  Don't answer that.)

Quick stats: Peter is 19 pounds (b/t 10th-25th percentile) and 29 inches (25th percentile).  Ethan is 19 pounds 6 ounces (25th percentile) and 28 1/8 inches (10th percentile).  My small kids have big heads though (not surprising given my family genes).  At 47 cm (Ethan) and 46 1/2 cm (Peter), they are both in the 75th percentile.  LOL!!!

Thursday I finished my annual column for my professional journal and submitted it to my editor.  DONE!!!  I always hesitate pushing that "send" button in my email.  Is it really done?  Did I proof it enough?  Should I go back and check all my numbers and math again for the eleventybillionth time?  (And yes, that is a word, don't go looking it up.)

Also on Thursday we had new cabinets put in our kitchen on a few blank wall spaces.  I have a few before and after pictures, but they are still on my camera.  So I'll save those for another post.

Thursday night and into the early hours of Friday morning I banged my head furiously against the keyboard published another submission on Catholic Sistas.  Check it out, our debut post into the 7 Quick Takes fun.  Our creator wanted to join the 7 Quick Takes series but didn't have a clear vision for it, so I threw out some ideas and ended up with the assignment.  It was fun.  I took a poll of all the contributors and posted the results.  A fun way to get to know the blog's writers.  And watch for more (not every Friday though).

Friday was an important day!  It was the day of the Stand up for Religious Freedom Rallies held all across this great nation.  The boys and I attended the one in our town and we had a great turnout.  I heard later that day that there were approximately 275 people there.  I saw lots of people I knew and heard some great speakers.  The boys did great for the hour and a half we stood downtown in the sun.  They were comfy in their stroller with the shade up, but it was still hot.  I fed them cheerios and then rolled the stroller back and forth and they eventually fell asleep.  Very proud of my sons for attending their first political protest rally at just a year old!
The boys chilling out at the rally.
*Photo courtesy of Cindy Olson (c) 2012*

Following the rally and the walk back to the car (I was parked several blocks away in a University employee lot I located on a map that morning, the closest one I could find to downtown) I was HOT!  The boys were sleeping and I wanted to listen to a radio interview that was going to start in about 15 minutes.  Solution: pack everyone into the car, drive to Dairy Queen, hope the boys fall asleep, and listen to the interview in the car.

And that's what I did.  I went through the drive-thru and then sat in the car in their parking lot, AC on full blast, and listened to a friend do an interview on a nationally broadcast program on Relevant Radio.  It was a good interview too.  The creator of the blog Catholic Sistas was being interviewed.  It was fun to listen and I laughed at the callers who called in with questions.  Their names and places they were from clued me in that they were all contributors as well.  You can still listen to the interview by clicking here and choosing one of the links for June 8.  Martina did great!  Go listen if you have time.  No, not "if", I take that back: find time and listen!  That's an order!

Some friends I hadn't seen in a while were back in town for a short visit.  So they stopped by on Friday afternoon and visited for a bit.  It was fun to see them and to see how much their three boys have grown!

That pretty much concluded our busy week.  The boys are home with me one more week and then they start daycare the following week.  I go back to working full-time in the office two weeks later.  Which means two weeks of working full-time at home with no interruptions.  Hopefully I can concentrate on work and not get distracted by running an errand or cleaning something I know needs cleaning or folding a load of laundry that I had done the night before, etc.

If you've made it all the way to the end of this novel of a post, thanks for reading!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 01, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, vol. 42


I finally finished revising a project that has been hanging over my head for 7 or 8 months.



No, it is not my sabbatical project.

Unfortunately.  ::sigh::


I have a small contribution to a larger reference book that was supposed to be published in 2009 or 10.

It's been so long, I've forgotten when the original publication date was!


It got delayed so long it was really hard to go back to edit, revise, and remember how and why things were set up the way they were.  

And searching in databases!!  I forgot how frustrating that can be!!


Thankfully my section editor had her assistant go over a portion of my list for me.

I wouldn't be done now otherwise!  Thank goodness for assistants!! ::happydance::


But ... I had to torture myself go look and I see that the publication date is now Spring 2012.

Hmmmm ...


Regardless, I'm done with my part!!  I hope no one asks me to revisit this list again any time soon.

Must. Get. Back. To. Sabbatical. Project.

For more Quick Takes with maybe a bit more substance to them than this one, and probably far more interesting too, check out Conversion Diary by Jen Fulwiler, Quick Takes hostess extraordinaire!