Saturday, March 30, 2013


In an attempt to keep up with this blog, I have been scheduling posts (most brilliant thing ever) when I have the opportunity to reflect on the goodies going on in life.

But even after a mental health day, life is wiping me out.

Richie and I are both off for the next week (he has spring break, I'm using up some vacation time), and we've got some pretty awesome plans for relaxing and recharing. While I still have school obligations to attend to, I'm making an effort to only focus on the absolute necessary during this time. Thus, things around here will be quiet because I have absolutely no posts scheduled.

I will leave you with this photo of the view I take in when I walk in my neighborhood. I feel incredibly blessed to live among mountains.

I'm excited for this week to spend time with my husband and just relax. I pray you all have an awesome week with whatever you have going on.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mental Health Day Itinerary

Because I had scheduled my "mental health day" weeks in advance, I asked close friends and family what I should do with my free time. The general consensus told me not to do work of any kind: job work, school work, house work... no work.

I talked to Richie about what my day off should be like, and he told me to do whatever the heck I wanted to do. Because of my Type A personality, I tried to map out a plan for that day. Sick, right? The night before though, I decided to throw any ideas of a plan out of my head and just go with the flow.

Here's what I did on that day:

7 a.m.: Hit the snooze button because while I thought getting up at 7 would be a good idea, my bed convinced me otherwise.

7:50 a.m.: Get up because cats are annoying and want breakfast. Make a huge cup of coffee, open the blinds in the living room, and sit and sip coffee while waking up.

8-11 a.m.: I ate breakfast, read a few chapters in one book, read two juvenile books, went for a 1.5 mile walk while listening to a church sermon I missed.

11-11:50 a.m.: Marinated in a hot bath with a magazine.

12 p.m.: Made lunch - Caesar salad, bowl of strawberries, pita with hummus.

12:30-2 p.m.: Watched The Giant Mechnical Man on Netflix. Loved it!

2-3 p.m: Browse through Netflix, begin to get restless, realize that I'm bored and need to do something remotely productive.

Aside from the no work rule, I imposed one more rule on my day: No gadgets. Yes, I did watch some TV, but I made a conscious effort to use my phone only for text messages (and I only texted Richie). I didn't touch my computer until 3 p.m. and I broke the rule out of boredom and wanted to read blogs and the news. While I succumbed to my computer, I never logged in to my e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter (except for one tweet that morning that said I wouldn't be around that day... did you catch that?).

I'm a little disgusted that I got bored by 3 p.m. I have never been the type to just stay home. I like being out and about, whether at work or just running errands. I think it's sad that I couldn't entertain myself the entire day without the help of my computer, but so be it.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent catching up on reading, making the effort to prepare something for dinner (i.e. not heating something up or making a sandwich), and getting into bed at a reasonable hour. This day was exactly what I needed to recharge and hone in my focus on what fills up my "everydays."

As an adult, do you take "mental health days"? What do you do/not do on those days?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mental Health Day

This is part 2 of my previous post.

When I went back to work once most of the plague left me, I hit the ground running on all that I needed to accomplish. I had three days left in the work week to get things accomplished before the weekend. I had a commitment that following Monday that would require my time away from my desk, which made it all the more crucial to make those three days count. To throw things off a little more, I was scheduled to be away from work that Tuesday, too.

Why wasn't I there that Tuesday? I took a mental health day.

One of the things my boss told me during my performance review is that I should take time off when necessary. I earn vacation and sick time each month, and I hardly use any of it. The sick time isn't such a big deal because it never "expires." However, at the end of a fiscal year, however many vacation hours an employee has over 160 is lost. In 2012, I had 161 hours at the end of June, so I left one hour early one day so I wouldn't lose that hour. I'm having the same "problem" this year.

I scheduled time off during Richie's spring break because we have family coming to visit, so that will take up a good chunk of time. However, looking at the accrued time and seeing what I will earn by the end of June still has me over 160 hours. Thus, I planned a mental health day to use up an extra eight hours. I put in for that day off weeks before I had that plague, and I did feel guilty for missing two days of work, then missing another one as a planned vacation day.

And then the guilt subsided because it is increasingly clear to me that if I don't take care of myself, my work suffers.

I take pride in my work. I don't cut corners and I don't joke around when it comes to my work responsibilities. But burning out isn't going to get me to where I want to be in my career. I'm thrilled to have a boss who recognizes my hard work, and I'm even more thankful that she has encouraged me to take time off for myself.

This won't be a habit it. During my mental health day, I was reminded that I'm not a lady of leisure.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Guilt Over a Sick Day

A couple of weeks ago I was plagued with a cold. I joked with my family that I had contracted the bubonic plague, that's how awful I felt. I stayed home as much as possible so as not to potentially sicken anyone else and to give my body time to recover. I was out of work for two days, and I'm pretty sure I slept for a good 20 hours during that time off. The cold lingered for about a week, and before I knew it, I was back to feeling normal.

But you know what happened during those two days off? Guilt.

I was one of those strange children who didn't want to miss school. I never faked sick. I felt guilty for missing school. In high school, the only time I missed was for "mental health days." My parents agreed to let me have a "mental health day" a couple of times each year to rest as long as I kept my grades up. I'm pretty sure that they allowed this because I would run myself down. I didn't stop: classes, part-time job, internship, extracurriculars. I just had to keep going.

So I missed two days of work from being sick... and I felt guilty for missing work. There were two days of no productivity. Two days of backed up e-mails, to-do lists not getting accomplished, projects that needed attention. And where was I? In bed or on the couch beating myself up for being sick.

Of course, during that time, I also didn't work on school work. A seperate vicious cycle of panic rushed through me as I thought about everything that needed to get done for school that just wasn't getting attention. Instead, I was focusing on myself, getting myself better so I could hit the ground running on all that needed to be done done done. And I felt guilty for being home and not at least getting school work done.

Am I the only person who feels guilty for missing a day of work because of sickness?

There's a part two to this coming in a few days. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Being an Aunt

I am a very proud aunt to a beautiful 7-year-old. My niece is the moon and stars to my universe. I became an aunt at 20, but I had wanted to be an aunt since my brother and sister-in-law got married when I was 11. When their little girl was born, I felt a love like I had never felt before. I don't care how crazy that sounds as an aunt... this girl has my heart.

It boggles my mind that she is almost finished with first grade. She's a little person with an incredible personality. She's smart, she's funny, and she doesn't take kindly to someone pulling the wool over her eyes. She adores animals and dinosaurs. And she knows how to make a person smile.

I don't see this little lady often, and that makes me sad. My family lives 10 hours away. When I have the opportunity to talk to her on the phone, I try to keep her talking for as long as possible. I love hearing about her day, what book she read, or what new game she got for her 3DS.

Since we don't see each other often, our phone conversations always end with an "I love you" and a kiss sent through the phone. It's our thing. In a recent conversation, we went through our usual ending, but this little brainiac beauty added one more thing:

"I'm sending you a hug through the phone. Can you feel it?"

You better believe I felt that hug.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Center for Puppetry Arts

A work function that includes travel? That fits in my schedule beautifully!

I had the opportunity to attend a workshop and tour of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta recently for work. (Seriously, have I mentioned how awesome it is to be a youth librarian?) When you walk into the museum, the first puppet you see is Big Bird. During our downtime, we were encouraged to wander through the museum. Currently, there are many Jim Henson creations on display. My personal favorites? The fraggles and doozers!

We were allowed to take photographs. However, the Center does not generally allow photography in the museum exhibits. I'd love to share some of my photos, but I'm not much of a rule-breaker. Check out the Center's website (linked above) or Google Images for a peek into the museum. It's very kid-friendly, but there are programs for adults, too.

And if anyone from the Center happens across this blog, thanks for doing what you do!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Turning Off Autopilot

Is anyone else sick of winter?

This is the first winter where I have had a serious case of the winter blues. I have had little to no motivation to accomplish anything on my to-do lists. Anything that has to be accomplished is done as efficiently as possible. Life feels like it is on autopilot right now.

I'm just feeling blah. Can you tell by the little activity here lately?

Beautiful, blue skies on our way to church Sunday morning.
If you can't tell, I was in the passenger seat taking this.
This past weekend was the first taste of spring for us. It was glorious. Blue skies, warm temperatures, a nice breeze. Perfection. And as I write this? Gray, rainy, and thunder. My mother-in-law reminds me often that the beautiful days should be savored whenever we have them. If each day was filled with sunshine and perfect temperatures, could we truly appreciate the beauty?

Winter has been a reminder to me to savor the good days and learn from the bad. We experienced some rough things in this season within our families, but things are turning around in more positive directions. I'm turning off the autopilot features and giving the controls back to God.

"Moses asked God, 'Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Why would he ask such a thing? Because we all know if we aren’t paying attention, days slip into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. The momentum is in His hands, but He loves us faithfully and gives us the choice." - Jason Stasyszen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Movie: Craigslist Joe

I have a thing for travel/wanderlust movies because while I get the wanderlust bug, I generally err on the side of stability and lack of movement. I indulge a lot in travel documentaries. One thing a sick day affords a person is the ability to get your money's worth out of our Netflix subscription. I spent part of my couch time watching Craigslist Joe.

I love the traveling that Joe Garner did... but I loved his intentions even more. Joe set out to survive for 31 days through Craigslist. Crazy, right? He learned how generous strangers could be and called the experience the most inspiring thing he has ever experienced. If you watch it, you can't tell me your faith in humanity isn't restored just a little bit.

Craigslist Joe, if you ever read this and plan to wander ever again, you've got a couch to crash on in our neck of the woods. My husband is a fantastic cook, and I like good conversation.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Devoted Cats

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
- Jean Cocteau

It sounds ridiculous but I adore my kitties. We adopted them when they were two months old, and they will celebrate their 7th birthday later this year. They are our babies. But you've gathered this, haven't you?

One of the most beautiful things about my kitties is their devotion. I know cats are seen more as finicky animals versus devoted animals, but I beg to differ. Cats are devoted to their owners. It's strangers that cats are often finicky of. When my mom was visiting us in December, she fell seriously ill. When she wasn't in the hospital, she was camped out in bed or on our living room couch. There was always one kitty next to her to provide warmth, love, and some furry cuteness.

Dr. Humphrey
In the past few days, I came down with a vicious cold. It has been years since I have been sick. I went to work Monday morning and only lasted for one hour before coming home. Once home, I immediately crawled into bed and slept for three hours. You better believe I had company during my nap. And when I moved my sick self from the bed to the living room couch, my tiger kitty was right there with me (see above).

I can't vouch for anyone else's cats, but I feel like we hit the kitty jackpot. We're blessed to have devoted, sweet, loving furbabies who make our little apartment a home.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pinterest Success: Pizza Grilled Cheese

Hi, my name is Olivia. I'm addicted to pizza.

My nutritional choices lately are straight from the mind of my inner five-year-old. Evaluating my food board on Pinterest resulted in a lot of pizza-inspired foods. I'm pretty sure if I haven't grown out of my love for pizza, I never will.

So instead, I shall continue to experiment with pizza tastes. This week's experiment? Pizza grilled cheese.

So much goodness.

If you're a fan of grilled cheese and pizza, go make this for dinner right now. I bought a like-new George Foreman grill several months ago for a whopping $6 at a thrift store, and it's one of my better investments. If nothing else, making hot sandwiches is a snap. I admit I eat too many sandwiches, but darn it, they're tasty!

What's your favorite sandwich to make?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Librarian v. Google

Whenever I need a pick-me-up after a hard-knock kind of day at work, I read this:

“Librarians are there:
To help, aid, assist. To teach, collate, enthuse. To catalogue, index, arrange, organise. To find, discover, promote, display. To interest, intrigue, amuse and amaze. To instill wonder. To help children, adults, old people, the underprivileged, the rich, the poor, those with voices and those without. To protect resources, to archive them, to store them, to save them for the future. To provide differing viewpoints, to engender thought, conversation, research, fun. To provide the best answer possible, to match the answer to the enquirer, to provide just enough information without overwhelming the user, but enough to always help. To better a local community, a company, a school, a college, an organisation, a country, the world.

Google is there:
To make money.”
- Phil Bradley

I love Google. No, I adore Google. Gmail, Drive, Reader, Calendar, Blogger (obviously) - if Google makes it, I probably use it. I use Google at work to find answers on the quick or to get started on research.

But there is no replacement for your friendly, local librarian. (At least, I hope your local librarian is friendly.) If it has been a long time since you have visited your local library, stop by sometime. Browse the books, check out a DVD, attend a program. I promise you, there is something for everyone at your public library.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pinterest Success: Turkey Taco Casserole

Can you tell we're on a roll with preparing goodies from my Eats & Treats board on Pinterest? I have been limiting my time on Pinterest because I get sucked in very quickly. But there's no use in using Pinterest if I'm not creating new things or getting new ideas, right?

This past weekend's experiment was turkey taco casserole.

Ready to go in the oven.

30 minutes in the oven 
Richie devoured two huge bowls of this goodness. This was an incredibly easy dinner, and I loved that we had most of the ingredients already in our pantry. You can prep this in less than 10 minutes and have dinner ready in under an hour. Plus, clean up is a snap. The only thing I would do differently is add some sour cream when serving.

You're delicious. Yes, you!
Go here to check out the pins I've tried.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reading Challenge: Update 2

I finished We’ve Got a Job last Monday.

Quick commentary: I hate to admit this, but I had no idea what children willingly put themselves through for integration. This book was incredibly informative and engaging - once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. I highly recommend this for history classes or any curious middle-grade students. Again, I say this often, but if you're an adult, pick up some children's literature sometime. There are some incredible recent contributions, such as this one.

I'm still working through the other two books I'm reading. It's slow, but I'm trying. I'm embarassed at times to work in a library and not ready as much or as frequently as I should. But then I remind myself of the various hats I wear and realize that if I can fit in just 15 minutes of reading before bed, that's OK.

One book down, 24 to go.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Performance Review

Scene: I’m sitting at my desk in the youth area and suddenly got very cold. I realized one of the entryway doors was left open, thus a draft from the main entrance was coming in. I shut the door and walked back into our workroom to get something to drink and attempt to warm up. My boss and one of my coworkers are in the workroom.

Me: “I’m freezing! Is anyone else cold?”

Coworker: “I am.”

Boss: “Come into my office. It’s warm in there.”

I take my boss’s suggestion and follow her back to her office. I believe her, because she doesn’t have her sweater on. And it is noticeably warmer in there when I cross the threshold.

Boss: “Take a seat and shut the door. We’ll do your performance review while you’re here.”

Hook. Line. Sinker.

Thirty minutes later, I emerged with a good review and warmed hands.