Friday, August 1, 2014

Flying Time

(Excuse me while I get all deep and introspective here.)
Where in the heck did summer go?

My busiest season at work is winding down. My husband is gearing up for a new school year (at a new school, too!). I'm about to start a new semester of graduate school. Our baby girl will be six months old this month. Holy frijoles!

I am truly amazed at how quickly time flies when one has a child. She is now at (what I consider) the fun part of infancy - she's grabbing, babbling, laughing, trying solid foods, and being a general stinker. I don't know where my colicky, new-baby-smell newborn went. I miss the new baby smell; I don't miss the colic. This first year is flying by. The moments are fleeting and I'm trying my best to soak it all in before we're buying school supplies and sending her off to kindergarten.

Life hasn't slowed down one bit, yet I feel like I'm accomplishing more than I ever have. Maybe it's because I have such limited time that I am being more intentional with that time (except for Facebook - I need to set better limits on my social media time). Maybe it's because I am prioritizing and eliminating the stuff that I once thought was important. Maybe it's because I am learning to say no. Whatever it is, life keeps chugging along at a rapid pace.

I just took a moment to take a deep breath. It's rare to do that now. Where does the time go?

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Hello. Anyone still out there?

I have had this little voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I started this blog and that I ought to resurrect it. My last post on concentrating on the now is absolutely more relevant than ever, as our daughter is already 15 weeks old. But I miss recording life events here... and recording these little events is so much more important to me now.

So, what's been going on with me since I last blogged?

1. Our beautiful daughter entered the world in mid-February.
2. I took advantage of 12 weeks of maternity leave.
3. I came back to work at the beginning of May.
4. Husband is off work for the summer (what we're dubbing as his paternity leave).
5. We're adjusting to our new normal.

While life is definitely busier than ever, I wouldn't trade a thing in for all the riches in the world.

(Except the sleep deprivation. I can definitely do without the lack of sleep.)

Here's to recording the big and the little things, and savoring each moment as it comes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Concentrating on the Now

The beauty of blogging is that you can set posts to publish well in advance, which is what I've been doing this month. However, as time has caught up with me, I can't say that I'm running out of steam. Rather, I'm focusing more on the impending birth of our little one. So while I applaud my efforts for January and participating in NaBloPoMo, I'm going to take a step back from the computer and concentrate on the real nitty gritty: Getting through these last couple weeks of non-parenthood while doing last minute "prep" for parenthood.

I'm at 37 weeks right now. I'm still working my full-time job and feeling the physical pains (side note: mad props to women who waitress or who do other physical labor for work while pregnant). We have everything set up to bring little one home, and we're all packed to head to the hospital when the time comes. Husband knows to keep his phone on at all times in case things happen when he's not home. We are spending as much time as we can as a couple before becoming a family of three. It's exciting and terrifying all at once to know that our lives are going to significantly change forever in just a matter of weeks.

I could sit here for the remainder of my afternoon and finish posts for the rest of this week, or I could go lie on the couch and breathe through the Braxton Hicks contractions I've been experiencing all afternoon. I'm choosing the latter. And who knows, the inspiration to write might strike me later this week.

Roses for No Reason

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck." - Emma Goldman

It's a rare occasion that Husband will send me flowers. I can count how many times he has given me flowers: My 20th birthday, my 25th birthday, our wedding day, and the beautiful bouquet above. Flowers aren't my thing because I'm terrible at keeping them alive. However, the bouquet above might be my favorite because it was completely unexpected. There was no special day associated with the arrangement - he did it just because. I appreciate that he sends me flowers so rarely, because the every day stuff that he does for me is much more valuable. And for that and for him, I am so incredibly thankful. Give me his encouragement and support each and every day over flowers, jewelry, or anything else. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wall Decor on the Cheap!

I know this idea is floating around Pinterest because several friends have mentioned doing this in their own homes. I had not seen it before (and sometimes I feel like I've been to the end of Pinterest and back) but I love the idea and knew it was something I could pull off.

Behold! The dry erase picture frame!

I am not crafty. I know first graders who have surpassed my "talent." But this craft... this I could handle.
What else I love about this project is that you can make it for almost no money.

The supplies: A dollar store picture frame ($1), dry erase marker (I bought a package of 4 for $1), scissors, pretty paper (I bought this silver paper years ago at an after-Christmas sale). To personalize each frame, I wrote quotes that I found inspiring. The most difficult part of the project was narrowing down what quotes to use. The beauty of the dry erase element is that you can change the quotes depending on whatever season in life you may be in.

My intention was to make wall decor for our baby girl's room, and I was so pleased with how each frame I made turned out. I originally purchased three frames - two are on display in her room, while one is displayed in our living room. The one picture above is in her room. I've seen variations of this craft (like this one) that I wouldn't mind adding to our home.

What are your favorite, simple craft projects that add something to your home?

Friday, January 24, 2014


"There's no other love like the love for a brother. 
There's no other love like the love from a brother.
- Terri Guillemets

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Done with the NaBloPoMo Prompts

I'm throwing in the towel on the prompts.

However, I'm not giving up on blogging every day this month (except for the two Sundays I missed - will you forgive me?). Because I have been dedicating time to writing, I'm enjoying the process of sharing again. I forgot what it's like to just write whatever I wanted. And the prompts were really effective in getting me to think about all areas of my life.

The topic of pressure was an appropriate one for me these first few weeks of 2014. I've been feeling pressure at work to get projects done and things squared away before my maternity leave begins in February. I've been feeling pressure to get all my ducks in a row at home before baby girl's arrival. And of course, I've been feeling the literal physical pressure of a child growing inside of me who should be arriving in less than a month (!!!). If anything else, it was fun to explore the prompts and think about how I handle pressure, what puts pressure on me, and so forth.

I hope you'll hang in here with me as I continue to blog through January, and I pray that I'll be able to keep the momentum (to a degree) once we become a family of three.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Sixteen

Prompt sixteen: Do you have a bad temper? How often do you lose your temper?

When I get angry, I cry. I hate that tears are my reaction to anger, but it could be worse, right?

Husband says that I get angry faster since my dad passed. I had a lot of anger to work through after his death, and expecting a child has definitely mellowed me out. So do I have a bad temper? I don't think so. How often do I lose my temper? I'd like to think not as much in recent memory. However, I think it all depends on the situation or provocation. I recognize that anger solves nothing. I believe a good cry can do wonders for anyone, so channeling my anger through tears seems to be a more productive way to express that emotion.

"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."
- Proverbs 14:29

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Fifteen

Prompt fifteen: Do you feel pressure to be perfect? How much of it is tied to what you see online?

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I think I hate it more than love it.

I'm totally guilty of comparing myself to what I see on my news feed. I know that most of what I see is only the positive in someone's life because no one wants to read about all the negative. But dang, some people make their lives look so good. And while I don't know what goes on behind-the-screen, I fail to remember this and start examining my own life against someone else's life. Totally unhealthy, I know.

I can't say that I feel pressure to be perfect, but when I start comparing my life to the lives of others, I start to get very critical about my life. I wonder why my living room can't look like hers. I think why can't I make my hair look that pretty. I second guess my life decisions when someone else is doing "better." I ruthlessly judge myself.

Consider it a victory that I recognize this behavior. Every few months I'll lament to my husband that I need to rid myself of my Facebook account. Why do I stick around Facebook? Because it's an opportunity to stay in-the-loop with friends who I may only see once every few years. I do my best to limit my activity on there because I can recognize the signs that I'm getting sucked in to all the status updates and new photo albums that friends post. I find myself a heck of a lot happier when I remove myself from checking my news feed for a few days. If I can continue to stay away and keep my use of Facebook in check, I'd like to think I'll stop being so hard on myself.

We are all are own worst critics, aren't we? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Fourteen

Prompt fourteen: Do you still feel pressure of conform? If no, what age did it stop?

I tried so hard to fit in and be like "everyone else" in middle and high school. Even when I entered college, I yearned to be like the majority because I knew I grew up in a very different environment than what I had witnessed among my peers.

As I continued through my undergraduate career, I started to pave my own path for who I was. I was definitely one of those students who really changed when they left for college. I was exposed to so many new ideas, people, and thoughts that it all had a profound effect on me. I'm grateful for my undergraduate years - even if I earned a degree that is pretty much useless - because I learned so much about myself and the person I wanted to become.

I graduated high school 10 years ago this year, and the person I thought I would be now is totally different than who I am now. In my senior yearbook, I was asked where I saw myself in 10 years. My answer? "A journalist for a newspaper or magazine and an author." I was intensely career-focused in high school and college. All I cared about was having my career.

But then I met my now-husband. We got married. Things were awesome.

And then we got burned big time in the Great Recession. We moved to a whole new state. My dad passed away. We had next to no income. Things got scary.

Priorities completely shifted. That career-focused mentally is still with me, but it's not the focus of my life. My family and faith are my priority, even when I feel like I'm struggling with both areas. I'm back in school to further my career, but I'm doing it not only for myself but to provide for my family.

I became this person that I never even imagined 10 years ago. I firmly believe that if I had kept the blinders on that I had when I first entered college, I wouldn't be where I'm at now. I would have continued to do what "everyone else" I grew up with did. I'm thankful I learned early on that you have to make your own way in life. While I never imagined that I would be where I'm at now, I don't want to think of my life as something different. I'll take the bumps and bruises I've been dealt if it means having the blessings I'm surrounded with.

So no, I no longer feel pressure to conform, because if I did, I don't think I'd recognize myself.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Encouragement for Working Moms

As my due date comes closer and closer, I've been struggling with the thought of returning to work once my maternity leave ends. I love my job, and I'm a little afraid to walk away for three months while we embark on this incredibly new chapter in life. However, the idea of leaving my little one for 8-9 hours each day is already giving me anxiety. I have never envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I'm already feeling guilt about returning to work.

What's up with that?

I recently came across two blog posts that have been so encouraging about "working mom guilt."

Grace for the working mother and her guilt by Lisa-Jo Baker. I forget how I came across this post, but it really struck a chord with me. I am not a bad mother because I'm returning to work outside of the home. I'm doing what is necessary for our family: providing an income to feed, clothe, and keep our little one secure. "Gritty, committed, and determined to do what is necessary."

Working mom guilt by The MOB Society. I had originally posted Lisa-Jo's on my personal Facebook page, which led a dear friend to direct me to this post. It is very similar in tone and encouragement, but it went a little further to speak to me. I had never thought of this perspective on being a working mom: "It is not God’s will for women to stay home with their children any more than it is God’s will for women to work outside the home — what is God’s will is that in everything, without grumbling or complaining, we do it all for Him."

At the end of the day, I want our daughter to know that Mommy and Daddy do what we do for her and our family. And if that means both of us have to work, so be it. Husband and I have discussed the potential for one of us to stay home for a bit, and while the opportunity isn't off the table, it's more than likely that we'll both continue to work. But only time and God will tell us what is best, and I will continue to lean on faith to guide us through these new waters.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Important Reminders from God

I am a firm believer in divine intervention. God is everywhere, and He is always inserting his wisdom and guidance in to everyday life. I will be the first to admit that I am often oblivious to His daily teachings, but in the past week, He has made me aware of some pretty important lessons and reminders.

Lesson 1: Husband and I can handle bringing our daughter into the world. About a week ago, I had some symptoms that I knew I shouldn't ignore. I calmly alerted Husband that we should make a trip to the hospital to get things checked out. Bless his heart, Husband has a tendency to flip out in "crisis" situations, so I knew I had to remain calm to hopefully keep his reaction in check. Fortunately, we spent an hour and a half in labor and delivery and found out that everything was fine. However, we learned that when it's time to get to the hospital and we're home, we can handle it. We are prepared.

Lesson 2: We have a plan in place for tornado warnings. When we arrived home from the hospital around 11 p.m. that evening, we promptly crashed because we were so tired. At around 7:30 the following morning, our weather radio alerted us to a tornado warning for our area. We managed to get our cats into our safe place and kept checking the warnings via our phones until we knew things were safe (and fortunately, no tornado came through our area). This opened up a discussion of experiencing a tornado warning when our little one is here and what to do. It felt good to have this dialogue because often times, you don't have the opportunity to discuss what to do until it's too late.

The view from our apartment the night of the fire alarm.
Mad love for first responders.
Lesson 3: We have a plan in place for a fire alarm. A couple of days after the tornado warning, we experienced a fire alarm. We were both in bed, just about to fall asleep, when all of the fire alarms in our apartment building went off. It took us several seconds to realize that getting out of the apartment was a good idea, but I did a quick check of our own apartment to see if anything was amiss. When we went outside, we were greeted by all of our neighbors in our breezeway and everyone was questioning what was going on. The alarm was set off at the opposite end of our building, and fortunately, it appeared to be a false alarm. However, this was another instance of opening dialogue for a "what do we do?" situation. And we discussed in length what is necessary to getting out of our apartment safely in the event of a fire/fire alarm.

We had never bridged these topics, but with the little one on her way, I'm so thankful that we now have plans in place in the event of a tornado or fire or whatever force of nature comes our way. I genuinely don't think we would have had these discussions had it not been for these fortunate false alarms. My conclusion? God was opening our eyes to what we should prepare for - just in case - since we'll have a helpless little human relying on us to protect her. I take these lessons to heart.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 
- Isaiah 41:10

Friday, January 17, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Thirteen

Prompt thirteen: Do you think you handle pressure well, or do you usually fall apart?

I mentioned this earlier in the week that I handle pressure well when I'm around others. I try my best to keep a cool head because it doesn't help anyone to freak out. However, behind closed doors, if I'm feeling pressure and I'm by myself or with my husband, I have no trouble crumbling.

When I'm stressed or angry, I cry. It's the only way I know how to release the emotion without actually punching something (I'm not violent though, I promise). I try my hardest not to cry in front of others if I'm experiencing stress or anger, too. Again, it doesn't help anything. A good cry when no one's around always feels good though, am I right?

I cry at least twice a semester - I get in a really good cry about three weeks before the end. I cry when someone has really pushed my buttons (or one of my pressure points). I cry every now and then when I look at our debt balance and it's not going away faster than we can manage. But then I feel better after I cry because it gives me a release, and then I know that everything will be OK.

All of these prompts feel like I'm letting you in on my little secrets, but it's been fun to think about these traits in myself. If anything else, it is helping me to evaluate my reactions to situations in my past and to hopefully have better reactions to some things in the future.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Twelve

Prompt twelve: Who puts the most pressure on you -- yourself or others?

I put myself under a lot of pressure. I always have. I remember redoing my math homework in elementary school when my writing didn't look neat enough for my own standards. If I was working on a project that required gluing paper on to something, I would not be satisfied unless it was straight. I would drive my mom insane with my perfectionist tendencies - but she wasn't surprised by this trait because my dad was the same way.

I am more relaxed about putting pressure on myself in some areas of my life now. I give myself grace at home because I know I am not the most domestic person. I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel in school. Depending on the project at work, I put whatever pressure is necessary on to get the job done. I take pride in the work that I do, and I don't like the idea of knowing that I didn't do my best at the end of the day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Eleven

Prompt eleven: "Courage is grace under pressure" is a famous quotation by Ernest Hemingway. Tell us about a personal moment of your grace under pressure.

In front of others, I can show grace. Behind closed doors, I tend to fall apart.

My first summer in my current position as a youth services coordinator at a public library was particularly stressful. If you're not familiar with what goes on for children during a typical summer at a public library, it involves lots of planning of programs to accommodate a lot families who attend programs and visit to check out books. It's an absolute blast because I get to encourage children to read while hosting programs that (hopefully) get kiddos hooked on visiting the public library and learning new things.

But that first summer was nerve-wracking because it was my time planning an entire summer's worth of programs for children of all ages. I would enter every work day with a knot in my stomach, praying that the day would go well and that I would have everything necessary to make that day successful. If a special guest was scheduled to perform, I would be a nervous wreck until they were physically standing in my library.

That first summer was a huge learning experience, but I pulled it off. And apparently I pulled it off so well because I had several families that mentioned how much fun they had and how smoothly everything went. I confided in one parent that I was so scared of each program, and they commented that they definitely couldn't tell that I was worried about a thing.

This summer will be my fourth summer at my library, and I am confident in my abilities to put on a successful summer reading program. I'm still nervous while waiting for special guests to arrive, and I'm always worried that the kids are having a good time. But I never want to show that to the families and patrons. So instead, I smile and breathe and just have fun in the moment... then come home and collapse on the couch.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Ten

Prompt ten: Marge Piercy said: "A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done." Tell us about a time when you did what couldn't be done.

Along with yesterday's post about my dad's passing, some of the things I handle after his death I never imagined I would ever, could ever, do... but I did them.

I planned most of his funeral. I contacted his friends to deliver the news. I spoke to a medical examiner to understand more about his cause of death. I accompanied my mom to many appointments to make sure she could get his final affairs in order. I watched as my husband and brother took on the momentous task of going through daddy's belongings because my mom and I just couldn't do it. I did whatever was necessary because my mom couldn't do a lot of it, and what she needed to do, she needed someone with her.

As life began to turn to a new normal, I changed in a lot of ways. Even my husband noticed a change in me when daddy passed. I became more aggressive about getting things done and not taking baloney from others. I try my best to live in the now because it can literally be taken away from you in an instant. I struggle with my relationship with God, but I don't give up on that relationship because He doesn't give up on me. I feel stronger and weaker for having been through that summer of my dad's passing.

But here I am working on year 7 of our marriage and just a few weeks away from meeting our daughter. I'm in a job that I love, back in school to further my career, and doing all that I can to savor this precious life that I have been given. One thing that daddy's death taught me is that you have to go for whatever it is that makes you happy. His life was an incredible example of what he loved, and I hope I can emulate his example for my family.

Monday, January 13, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Nine

Prompt nine: Eleanor Roosevelt said: "A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Tell us about a time you felt your strength.

The first time I ever felt inner strength come through was when my dad passed away.

His death was very unexpected. I remember the hours after learning he passed were some of the longest. I remember completely breaking down and not understanding how I could live my own life without my dad here to cheer me on. It took days for the reality to set in.

Once the reality was apparent, I felt like I had to be superwoman for my mom. My mom was with my dad until the end. My mom broke the news to me over the phone (because I wasn't living near by), and she gathered the courage to tell my brother in person once he arrived at the hospital. My mom even explained daddy's passing to my niece. She was only three at the time, and the way my mom handled that was truly inspiring. Mom did her absolutely best to be strong while she was so fragile, so I knew that I needed to gather all of my strength to help her through.

I spent two weeks back home from the time I learned of daddy's passing to getting my mom moved in to a new apartment before I faced the true reality of going back to my own home and my own life 10 hours away to resume where I had left off. It was an awful transition to get back to everyday life without daddy, but I had no choice. I had to be strong. It will be five years this summer, and I still have days where I have to find my strength to get through the heartache. But I do it for my family, and especially for my dad because I know he's still cheering me on.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Eight?

I'm not a big fan of the eighth prompt for NaBloPoMo. It's about acupressure.

I've never tried it. That's my contribution.

Instead, I'd like to take a moment to mention how proud I am of myself for getting through this work week. I'm about to finish week 34 of my pregnancy, and each week I'm able to make it through work is a huge victory. I have cankles the size of an elephant's. My body aches. I constantly want to see the backs of my eyelids. But the best part of all is that I have a healthy and active baby girl who is growing beautifully and should be making her arrival in one month.

We got to take home a 4D ultrasound of our girl yesterday, and of course, she's gorgeous! She has chubby cheeks and currently looks exactly like her daddy. I remain in awe that my body is growing another life, and while it is so difficult, I thank God every day that I have this miraculous opportunity to do this.

The only complaint I have right now? This mild head cold that needs to go far, far away.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Seven

Prompt seven: A pressure point translates in Japanese to "tender spot." What are your pressure points?

I like to think that I'm an easy-going person. I do my absolute best to not let negativity affect me, but I am human. I like this prompt because it makes me really evaluate circumstances that bring out negativity, and surprisingly, I have a lot less pressure points than I imagined. In no particular order, here are the two pressure points that bring out the crazy in me.

Criticism of my husband's speech. My husband didn't learn to speak until he was almost three years old because of hearing issues at birth. Because of this, he has a stutter and has difficulties pronouncing the "R" sound in most words. The latter is a kick in the pants since his name begins with "R," but he manages just fine. He is totally comfortable with his speech issues when he's around others he knows. If he's in a social situation where he doesn't know many people, he keeps quiet. He stutters when he gets excited about something, and he knows to stop, breathe, and gather his thoughts before trying his sentence again. He's cool with his stuttering. Once you get to know him, you don't even notice the pauses he makes. So what's my pressure point? When someone takes advantage of his stuttering for their own amusement. Hubby is very good at not letting the criticism bother him (because sadly, in his 30s, some people still point it out), but it irritates the you-know-what out of me to the point where I get defensive. I will not stand for someone mocking him or purposely getting him to say things that will bring out the stutter. He tells me to calm down on this because it doesn't bother him, but no. Just no.

Anything negative towards my mother. When my father passed away in 2009, I felt like the roles reversed with my mom and I. I became incredibly protective of her because she became so vulnerable not having my dad around. This summer will mark five years since his passing, and I still get defensive about anything that remotely affects her. My mom is a tough woman who doesn't take nonsense, but she has softened. As she gets older (she's in her 60s) and has started to have more health issues, I'm even more protective.

I guess anything that involves someone messing with my family in some way will get me. God help any person who does anything to my child that affects her negatively.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Six

Prompt 6: Can peer pressure be positive? Why or why not?

To a degree, I think peer pressure can be positive. It all depends on the situation.

Photo credit: MomMaven on Flickr

I felt pressured to go back to school to earn my Master's degree. But it wasn't intentional pressure from my peers to earn the degree; it was pressure I put on myself to not settle for what my coworkers have settled for. I don't want to settle for a cushy job with no advancement opportunities. I don't want to work at the status quo. If I didn't pursue more education, I would have a difficult time advancing in my field. It can be done, but to where I want to get to, a Master's degree is non-negotiable. It took me a while to find the courage to apply for my program, and I put it off for some time. But now, I'm halfway through. The workload is a bit much to juggle with everything else in life, but I know in the long run it will benefit myself and my family to have the added education in a field I adore.

A big thank you to my coworkers for inadvertently putting pressure on me to take the steps to further my career. Because while where you are at is great for you, I want better for myself.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Five

Prompt 5: Tell us about a time when you didn't bend to peer pressure, and you swam against the stream.

My husband and I only dated for six months before moving in together. A month after we moved in, we got engaged. We were married 361 days after our engagement. Yes, it was a whirlwind. But here we are today about to welcome a new addition to our family after almost seven years of marriage.

I wasn't peer pressured to get married; rather, I had peer pressure to not get married.

The beach where we got married.
Photo credit: Sideshowblues on Flickr
I was 21 years old when we tied the knot. I don't think that's incredibly young, but it is young for where I grew up. It was expected that once you finish high school, you go to college and work towards your lifelong career. Marriage and children weren't on the radar for the majority of my graduating class, myself included. But then one day, I met a young man that I just couldn't let go. When friends back home learned that we were getting married, I received a lot of "advice" to not get married.

"You haven't been together for very long." 

"You're too young." 

"What about the rest of your life?"

Seriously. Some friends, right?

But I knew. I just knew. And gosh, if I had listened to those opinions, I'd most likely be stuck in my hometown as miserable as I was when I grew up there. I knew that once I finished high school, I would get out of there... and I now only visit maybe once a year. I'm so thankful that I stuck to my motivation to get out of there because I don't believe I would have ever met my husband. We have gone through so much in our lives together, and I wouldn't trade any of it. I don't regret for one second getting married "young" because I've been able to accomplish all that I wanted to, and still want to, but with an awesome partner to support me.

Monday, January 6, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Four

Prompt 4: Tell us about a time you bent to peer pressure.

Do you remember 7th grade? You know that year, when you're incredibly awkward both physically and mentally. You're navigating the social world of middle school (that ends up being so much like the adult world) while figuring out how to act when your hormones are out of whack and you've got curly hair you just don't know what to do with (or was that just me?).

Photo credit: Owlpacino on Flickr
I can't remember a specific scenario of bending to peer pressure, but I remember bugging my parents to buy me something name brand to wear to school. I grew up shopping at thrift stores and getting new clothes once a year thanks to Walmart's layaway program. I finally convinced my mom to take me to TJ Maxx to buy new clothes. I even offered to pay for the clothes using money from my own savings account. I was the awkward fat girl with curly hair and glasses who couldn't apply makeup to save her life, and I thought by wearing the brands the other kids wore would make me more normal. Obviously, in retrospect, that didn't work out and I eventually grew into my own personality and skin (and prefer to shop at thrift stores now).

I pray we can raise our daughter-to-be to not give in to such pressures in order to feel accepted. I want her to recognize that her worth is found internally, not through keeping up with what everyone else is doing/wearing/thinking/etc.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bookend Decorating [Library Programming]

My library has a very small teen area. There isn't a whole lot of space to work with, just lots of shelves with awesome books. I drool when I see beautifully designed teen spaces with comfortable furniture, the latest technology, and teenagers actually utilizing the space. In an effort to make our teen area have a more teen feel to it, I started to search for "quick fixes" that could improve the space using materials we already had (read: cheap!).

I stumbled upon this post from Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian's blog (which has now migrated to A Mom's Spare Time). Bookend decorating? Oh, yes! We had plenty of bookends, magazines, and craft supplies to get creative with! This was a totally doable program based on our budget ($0), time, and resources.

Here's what I did for this program:

I publicized the program for all teenagers to attend. I encouraged teens to bring any art supplies they might want to use for decorating (except glitter - I have a no glitter policy for my craft programs). I collected teen magazines and any other cool-looking magazines that teens might like to find inspiration from. And, of course, I gathered an assortment of bookends that we could use to decorate with (and I got permission from my manager to "deface" the bookends). 

Other materials to have on hand include glue, scissors, paint, permanent markers, Mod Podge, and anything else you can think of that would turn boring bookends into bookends with sass. Also, have plenty of space for teens to spread out while they work. 

Once their creations are made, I left them out to dry overnight. When they were set, I trimmed the edges so nothing hung over and added a layer of Mod Podge to seal everything. Here are some of the bookends that were created during the program (click to enlarge).

I invited the teens back to replace the boring bookends with their newly designed ones. This gave them a sense of ownership of the teen area, and the bookends added some much needed personality to our teen area. I definitely recommend this for any youth librarian who is looking for a fun, low- to no-cost program for teens. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Three

Prompt 3: Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?

You already know that I procrastinate, but I also like keeping a to-do list and crossing things off. 

A sample to-do list from my first semester of grad school.
I find a to-do list most handy at work, where I have a lot of things going on. I keep a running to-do list of things I need to complete for storytimes and upcoming programs. I keep a to-do list in my Outlook account of weekly and monthly tasks that I have to accomplish (which also helps to remind me of some of the administrative stuff, like time sheets and monthly e-mails to send out). At home, we have a to-do list of weekly chores to help us stay on track with the major stuff. I also like to make personal lists of things to accomplish, whether large or small. Towards the end of a semester, I love making a to-do list to see what stands in my way before a break. 

So while I may put things off to the last minute, I do stay organized and prioritize using lists. It works for me.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Two

Prompt 2: What are you currently feeling pressure to do that you don't particularly enjoy?

Honestly, I can't think of something that I'm currently responsible for that doesn't bring me enjoyment. However, I have learned to stop apologizing for the things I don't particularly enjoy that I thought I should. 

I make a mean plate of scrambled eggs.
Cooking. I am the most basic cook in the kitchen. My repertoire includes scrambled eggs and grilled cheese. I don't enjoy being in the kitchen. I don't know how to cook very much. I don't care to learn much more than I do. I do like to make casseroles and I get the itch to bake every now and then, but I am a much happier person if I'm not in the kitchen. Fortunately, I am blessed to be the wife of a man who really loves to be in the kitchen and has a talent for cooking. 

General homemaking. I don't cook. I don't sew. I don't decorate a lot. I like to keep our little apartment basic, somewhat minimal, and tidy. The less we own, the less we have to keep up with/clean/fix/etc. I genuinely don't feel like I was gifted with the art of homemaking... and I do consider it an art because I'm in awe of how some women run/decorate their homes. But it's just not me. Again, my husband picks up my slack in this area, which is how I believe we work so well together.

Staying home. I think I felt the pressure of this one a lot because of the area we currently live in. Many women are stay-at-home wives and mothers, and that's totally acceptable if it works for their families. However, it's no bueno with me right now. I'm not going to say that I will never stay home because I would like to be able to have a career from home while raising our daughter. But, I love my career and want to continue to work outside the home to further that career. My husband and I have discussed that if the opportunity were to present itself, he would be a stay-at-home dad while I brought home the bacon. It's just how we work.

Losing weight. This is pre-pregnancy, and I will be working post-pregnancy to take off added pounds, but I gave up worrying so much about what others thought of my weight and concentrated more on how I felt, both physically and emotionally. I don't particularly enjoy working out. I don't particularly enjoy counting calories (which works for me). But I don't pressure myself anymore to do these things. I also stopped thinking about doing this to improve my looks and instead think about how I can improve my overall health.

Owning a home. From 8 years old on, my family lived in an apartment. When I moved off to college, I lived in a dorm for one year, then moved into an apartment. Since my husband and I have been together (yep, we lived together before we got married), we lived in an apartment. I used to be so jealous of others who lived in homes and I thought for the longest time that we needed to buy a house. But then when you really get into the real world and got knocked down on your butt (thanks, recession), you realize that home ownership may not be your dream... and we quickly realized that. I thought we were weird because neither of us had a burning desire to own a home. And now? We still don't. We love the ease, affordability, and less stress of renting an apartment. I'm not saying we'll never own a home, but it's not on our long-term radar right now.

I'm sure I'm missing things, but as a woman, I felt pressure too long in these areas to realize that if it's not me, it's just not me. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NaBloPoMo: One

Prompt 1: Do you work well under pressure?

Pressure ought to be my middle name. 

I thrive working under pressure. I know that's not the healthiest way to accomplish things, but it's always worked for me. Ask anyone who knew me in high school and they'll tell you that I put everything off until the last minute. It would drive my mother insane to watch me not touch something until the last possible minute. My dad was the same way, which is where I like to think I inherited the thrill of working under pressure. My procrastination has never come back to bite me in the rear, thank goodness, but I attributed that to my obsession with keeping things organized.

Typical work set-up during a semester for me.
In high school, I thrived on having a full plate. During my senior year, I took three dual enrollment courses, three high school courses, held a part-time job, and had an internship while completing a year-long senior project. I procrastinated on assignments and projects all throughout my undergraduate career. I graduated cum laude a semester early because I put so much on my plate to get it done (plus held down a job). As a graduate student, I continue my procrastination tendencies. I'm halfway through my program right now and I'm maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I'm only a part-time grad student (taking the next two semesters off to welcome baby girl into the world), but I work 40 hours a week and volunteer with a civic organization. Oh yeah, I'm also a wife to a man who is involved in high school athletics (which makes our schedules ridiculous) and about to become a mom. No pressure there, right?

I try not to procrastinate in my career though. Procrastinating at work can not only hurt me, but it can have a ripple effect with my coworkers and superiors. I do let smaller projects slide for a bit when I'm focusing on larger, more important projects, but I try very hard to balance all of my responsibilities. I'm fortunate that I don't feel a lot of pressure from my superiors. However, I do pressure myself to not repeat storytime themes, come up with new programs, and stay on top of the latest books as much as I can so I can do my job to the best of my abilities.

The pressure I impose on myself does make me crack though. I have had several meltdowns where I feel like I just can't handle things anymore... but somehow, I manage to get things done to my standards. My husband constantly tells me to stop stressing because I always accomplish what needs to be done. My prayer is that our daughter-to-be does not inherit this pressure "trait" from me, but rather inherits my husband's calm and collective nature about accomplishing things. I also pray that becoming a mother will calm me down a bit and force me to evaluate the true importance of all the dishes I'm juggling. In return, I hope to give myself more grace in many areas and accept that the pressure isn't needed and that all will  be OK. 

Happy New Year!

Does anyone else say, "I can't believe it's [year] already!" every New Year's Eve/Day?

My parents always told me that the older you get, the faster time goes. I always thought they were full of hot air. But now I'm 28 (when did I get to 28?!) and in awe of how fast time goes. 

2013 is one big blur. A lot of big things happened in our lives. 2014 looks to be a very promising year as we await the arrival of our first child.  We have her room ready, we have all the essentials for the first few months of parenthood, and we are praying that her entrance into this world is uncomplicated. I'm so excited to meet this tiny human being that I've been growing for months! 

My resolution for 2014? To welcome our daughter into the world and navigate the ups and downs of being parents for the very first time with faith and grace.

What are your resolutions for this new year?