Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When Pigs Fly, Miracles Happen

A young lady named Danielle* came up to me one afternoon while I was working the circulation desk to see if I could print out different coloring sheets for my coloring table. She wasn't too jazzed about the winter-themed pages that were currently stocked in the coloring basket, and many of my regular children know that I will print out whatever they want if they ask nicely. I had never talked to Danielle before, so I was impressed with her forwardness to ask me for something different.

However, she didn't give me something specific to work with. After a few questions and ideas, she told me she liked pigs and flowers. I told her I could make that happen and said I would bring her the coloring pages once I printed them out. She thanked me and returned to the coloring table.

I found this page of pigs, along with a few other pages I thought would be fun. I printed up a batch and hand-delivered them to Danielle, who was looking through a picture book. I sat down the page of pigs and asked her if she liked it, and I'm telling you, you could feel the happiness radiating off of her.

Danielle then shared her story with me. As she told me her story, I got goosebumps from her optimism and zeal.

Danielle is around 18 years old and confined in a wheelchair. She was in a car accident that she shouldn't have survived. Her doctors told her mother that she would most likely not recover her basic capabilities. Her mother's response? "When pigs fly, miracles happens." Danielle was tickled by the coloring page because it looked like flying pigs. She told me that ever since she was released from the hospital, she sees pigs all the time. And what were the odds I would find her a coloring page with pigs that look like they were flying?

Danielle has recovered most of her speech capabilities. She has good function of her arms. And she was able to tell me her story, give me a hug, and ask her caretaker to bring her to the library more often. Danielle is a miracle. After she shared her story with me, I walked away changed. Because it's not every day you meet a miracle.

*Name has been changed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pinterest Success: Crescent Roll Pizza

I love pizza. No, I really love pizza. It has always been my favorite food. I will eat it at any opportunity. But now that I'm in my late 20s and seriously trying to lose weight, my pizza consumption is limited to around once a month.

My Eats & Treats board on Pinterest has a quite a few pizza variations. However, you should know by now that I don't like to be in the kitchen often. When I am in the kitchen, I like to be in there as briefly as possible. So when I found this little experiment, I knew this snack and I were meant to be.

Fresh from the oven!
I prepped a batch of four rolls in less than five minutes, and 12 minutes later, Richie and I had a tasty  afternoon snack. (And for anyone who counts calories, each roll has about 190 calories. I used four slices of turkey pepperoni and didn't bother serving up pizza sauce to dip. Admittedly, we didn't eat lunch this day, which justified my devouring two.)

Cheesy goodness!
Quick and tasty pizza snack? Yes, please!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Brussels Sprouts

I discovered College Prep sometime last summer when doing a search for study tips right before I started work on my Master's degree. Little did I know that I would become a fan of Carly's blog. I appreciate her blog because of the professional and academic advice that she provides. Plus, the gal is from Tampa and I used to live there. Clearly, she has to have something awesome about her.

I follow Carly on Twitter and responded to a tweet a few weeks ago about my fear of Brussels sprouts. I could never stand the little buggers when I was younger, and that distaste continued into adulthood. However, I accepted her challenge (which I really gave myself) of giving them a shot.

The sprouts from Brussels!
They weren't as scary as I remember. I followed this recipe (LOVE the collection of recipes there) to prepared the sprouts. I did jazz them up a bit with a parmesan seasoning and that helped some, too. Richie loved them, but he'll eat just about anything. Next time, I'd like to get them a little browner on the outside.

This was an excellent baby step to reintroducing myself to things I didn't like to eat as a child. I still can't eat plain, cooked spinach (unless it's on a pizza, which negates any nutritional value from the cooked spinach whatsoever). Or cottage cheese. Or grits. Or cream of wheat. I could keep going.

What foods do you dislike?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reading Challenge: Update 1

Here's an update on the reading challenge I "signed up" for.

I haven't read for fun in almost a week.

I did attempt to listen to In Darkness by Nick Lake. Lake's title won this year's Michael L. Printz Award, so I thought I would give it a try. I couldn't get past the first chapter. I hate when that happens, but I'm getting better at not reading a book if I'm just not into it. I used to feel extremely guilty for not finishing a book I started, even if I didn't like it. There are far too many books on my never-ending list of books to read to read something that doesn't captivate my interest.

As of right now, I'm working through the following from this challenge:

Pure by Julianna Baggott
We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cythina Levinson
Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

I'm in the thick of spring semester AND summer planning at work right now, so squeezing in this reading will require epic time management skills. But I can do it... right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Find Your Calling

Recent awesome happenings at work:

- A developmentally disabled young man who is a regular attendee to my afternoon storytime sessions brought in valentines for every child who attended a storytime before Valentine's Day. Even if he didn’t know them, he gave them a valentine. Can I tell you how fast my heart melted?

- My last lapsit storytime session happened to land on a little man’s birthday. He turned three that day. I asked him if he wanted the group to sing “Happy Birthday” to him, and he replied eagerly with, “Yes, please!” Much dancing and giggling ensued.

- I helped a 6-year-old find books on China recently for a school report. A week later, he brought his report to the library to share with me and walked me through each assignment included.

My prayer for each and every person who reads this is that you are doing work that fulfills you. I feel incredibly blessed to have fallen in love with my work and earn an income from it. Find your calling. Life's too short to waste time being miserable in your day job.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The World of Coca-Cola

Remember our resolution to travel more?

Well, we actually went somewhere this past weekend! Gasp!

The World of Coca-Cola!
We've lived in Georgia for over four years now, and we have explored about 0.5% of all the goodies to be had in Atlanta. Richie made a spur-of-the-moment purchase of two tickets to the World of Coca-Cola. I appreciate the spontaneity of his decision because I am not a spontaneous person. We left early to get to Atlanta without worries of traffic and crowds... and I'm so glad we did. I took this photo after we went through the museum. Can you see the endless line of visitors waiting to get in? When we got there, there was no one in line.

Richie's favorite part of the experience was trying Coke products from around the world. We both did not like the selections from Africa. The European ones weren't bad. Our favorite was the classic Coca-Cola (go figure). And you know what else was nice? The admission price was just $16/person. A very family-friendly price, in my opinion.

If you've been to Atlanta, where do you recommend we visit next?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Way to a Man's Heart

Richie and I don't really do Valentine's Day. The first Valentine's Day we celebrated together was lovey dovey, mushy, and memorable. After that, it lost its appeal.

Thanks to our schedules, we only get the weekends to spend quality time together. I thought it would be fun to do something thoughtful and frugal to show Richie I love him. I'm not a very affectionate person, so I'm always trying to express my love and appreciation in different ways.

So for the heck of it this year, I picked up a few of his favorite goodies and attached little notes to them.

Cute and cheesy. That's how we roll.
When it comes to gift-giving, I like to err on the side of ridiculousness.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reading Out Loud

My library hosts a reading therapy dog who children sign up to read to. It’s a really great program for boosting reading confidence and skills in children. Our volunteer called out sick this week, and I rushed to call parents to notify them. I was hoping to catch many parents before leaving to come to the library, but alas, I did not.

A first grader who was signed up for her very first time to read to the dog came in, and I was able to get her signed up for a future session. Mom was very understanding, and then asked me if I would allow her daughter to read to me.

I couldn’t say no.

This little lady read a Keiko Kasza book to me, and she did a wonderful job! It is so rare for me to listen to a child read out loud to me. I love reading to groups of children, but it was such an awesome experience to have a child read to me. Afterwards, Mom said that she is hoping her daughter’s confidence in reading will improve by reading out loud more. I hope her reading experience was as enriching for her as it was to me.

Take the time to listen to a child read. It will mean the whole world to them, and I’m pretty sure it could mean the whole world to you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reading Challenge!

I have never participated in a book club. Odd, right? I guess I've never been at the right place or right time to be involved, or any book club I've looked into just didn't fit me. I love the idea of a book club, and I could start my own... but I'm busy.

One of the challenges in my regular routine is finding time to read for fun (which my new morning routine of reading has suffered lately). So when I caught wind of YALSA's 2013 Hub Reading Challenge, I thought it would be right up my alley. Reading for fun AND reading for work? I can totally do that!

I have until June 22 to read at least 25 of the eligible titles on the provided list. I just started reading Pure by Julianna Baggott, and I've just downloaded the audiobook of In Darkness by Nick Lake.

Why am I posting this here? Because I need accountability and a couple of cheerleaders/slave drivers.

Can you do that?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cats and Graphic Novels

Saturday morning awesome.
The best way to start your Saturday? Waking up with a cat on your shoulder, of course. Humphrey is 17 pounds of pure love. My shoulder didn't appreciate it, but I love morning snuggles with my kitties. (Crazy cat lady? Perhaps.)
My newest book obsession is graphic novels. I never read them as a kid (I'm not even sure if they were around then), but I'm thoroughly enjoying them now as an adult. I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time in 6th grade and hating it. The graphic novel though? Love!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book: The Best Advice I Ever Got

I have been on a nonfiction reading kick lately. It doesn’t matter if it’s adult or juvenile nonfiction as long as it’s something I’m interested in reading about. I also tend to gravitate towards nonfiction because they are faster reads (for me) and I can skip around if necessary.

I came across a recommendation to read this title a few weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. Katie Couric solicited advice from a diverse group of well-known individuals on a variety of subjects: pursuing your passion, how to handle rejection... you know, the stuff you encounter as an adult. One of my favorite bits of advice came from the advice provided by Ellen Levine.

I'm referring to the last sentence on the page.
It was a nice reminder that there is more to me than my job title and career aspiration. While I am very career focused at this season in life, I’m more than that. I am someone’s wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, aunt, and best friend. It is so easy to forget all the hats we wear, and even easier to forget which hats are the most important.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pinterest Success: No-Bake Oreo Cheesecakes

Another Pinterest success!

No-bake Oreo cheesecakes

Richie and I love cheesecake. It is practically its own food group in our home. We don’t eat it often because it is lethal. But I found this recipe via Pinterest and just had to try it. I wish I had snapped a photo of the final result, but the goodness didn’t last long (I'm 0 for 2 on visually documenting Pinterest experiments). There is absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe. It's perfection.