A Lenten Refrain

First off – I’m not Catholic.

I’m Episcopalian. 🙂

Having said that, I do enjoy the….tradition?….of giving something up for Lent. I don’t think the practice needs to be one rooted in Catholicism, or even religion in general. I certainly understand that need for it in that context, but I think going without something is a good practice. There are a lot of people that go without many of our luxuries or even everyday conveniences and challenging yourself for 40 days is a ritual that can – if done authentically – give you some perspective.

And so every year I think about what I could give up. Some years I take this personal challenge a little more seriously than others. Some years I focus on one goal and sometimes I go for a combo package. One year I went really wacky and gave up soda, fried foods AND chocolate.

I will not be doing that this year.

I know…the whole idea is sacrifice…but, but, but….okay, I can give up soda (I should have already, but I usually find myself cheating once every week or two) but fried foods and chocolate? In my state? I don’t know about that. Plus, shouldn’t I try something new?

Of course, I found myself slamming into a roadblock when trying to come up with something new. To Google I go! I found a list of what some creative Catholic teens gave up for Lent and thought maybe I’d try some of their past successes. Here are their suggestions and my thoughts:

1. Shoes.

Um….this one was a little weird. They said they wore shoes on planes or where they needed to…well guess what? I only wear shoes where I need also. If I don’t need to wear shoes I probably don’t. I’m barefoot right now. And in the interest of full disclosure? Places I’m required to wear shoes? I’ve been wearing slippers sometimes. So that’s less of a sacrifice and more of a luxury these days.

2. Caffeine.

Mostly already done. I’ll take you on (at least in liquid form).

3. Spoons and forks.

Apparently this kid ate with chopsticks. That seems more silly than sacrifice thought. Also, I’m on a strong ice cream diet, so that’s not going to work.

4. My bed.

My back’s already killing me IN my bed. On my wood floor? I don’t think so. I really get the spirit of this one, but I”ll blame the baby and say no thank you for this year.

5. Food.

Under doctor’s orders I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be fasting right now.

6. Facebook.

This one sounds pretty good. But selfishly? I don’t work. I don’t leave the house every day. And I like feeling connected to people through FB. But perhaps I’ll put some restrains on it or something….

7. Sweets.

Does that include donuts? In the regular world I could do without sweets in a jiffy, but these days it’s like a force greater than me just leads my hand to sweets. Plus, I had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, so that’s probably out already, huh?

8. My phone.

If my phone did anything other than call people I would totally get this. I am happy nearly every single day that I have a dumb phone. Hubs too. I LOVE that we can go to dinner and are NEVER distracted by the various updates we might be getting on our phones. And honestly? I could even give up my cell phone for the basic texting and calling. I’ve got a house phone people! But just in case I break down on the side of the road, my pregnant ass isn’t pushing my car anywhere. So I’m going to hold onto my phone.

9. Makeup.

Okay, haha! Can I still wear Chapstick please? 🙂

10. Television.

I don’t think I can do NO television, but I would like to come up with some restrictions for myself. Hours that the TV can’t be on, or rules that I can only watch TV if I’ve read 100 pages that day or already done (and folded!) the laundry or some other chore that I procrastinate on.

***********

Perhaps I’ll do something positive each day this year, instead of give something up….there are actually some pretty cool ideas there. Here are some ideas I’m rolling around and some stories that have inspired me, and might just inspire you 🙂 Check back later to see what I chose, and how it’s going!

  • Daily exercise – I’ve not really done any exercise recently, using the baby as an excuse. But I could (and should!) be doing SOMETHING. Even just taking a walk or a bike ride each day.
  • Volunteering – I’ve mentioned that I’m doing some volunteering with the church, but there are so many other opportunities that I haven’t taken up yet and I definitely have the time!
  • Being on time – I am SO on time….though I do know some poeple that could really benefit from this practice!
  • List 5 things you’re grateful for every day – I can dig this.
  • Go to an art museum or a botanical garden once a week and rejoice in beauty – ooh, I like it!

“One year for Lent I wrote a letter each day. I made a list of 40 people who have touched my life in one way or another. Each day of Lent, I wrote a person on the list a letter of thanks for how they touched my life and I prayed for that person on that day….it was a WONDERFUL experience!!!” – Patty

“Usually during Lent, on top of giving up something we love but don’t need, we say that any money that is found in the laundry, couches, and anywhere else was God’s money and we gave it to the poor. I remember one of the first years we did this, I found a $20 bill in a parking lot.” – Alyssa

SO – what are YOU doing for Lent???

Advertisements

My New Happy Place

Once upon a time, I found a deep comfort in weekly trips to the mall. It was college, and I had one of those dreaded MWF 9-9:50 classes on my schedule, meaning I actually had to get up Friday mornings and go to class. Normally, that would bum me out, but I’m a morning person so I dealt with it. More than that? I had a standing date every F at 10:00 with my best friend. She would drive down from her college, pick me up at the roundabout, and off we’d go! I was living at home, had minimal expenses, and was waitressing which provided me with a constant stream of cash. It seemed only natural that I should expand my wardrobe on a weekly basis. I’m not talking a full on spree, but a shirt here, an accessory there….just a little something that made me feel accomplished. And much like just buying makeup makes you FEEL prettier, even if you’re not wearing it, that bag of something new made me feel….special.

WOW. I sound like a spoiled, bratty, fashionista.

I should probably clarify that our “go-to” spots were Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, Old Navy, and Target. Deals please!

Anyway, that tradition changed once college was over. I moved out of my parents house. I had real expenses. I got a paycheck, not cash. Priorities changed, but I still definitely enjoyed what were now much more sporadic shopping trips.

Cut to today. Priorities have changed exponentially. Rather than cash OR a paycheck, I have a budget based on my husband’s income. My weekly shopping trip has highlights of Fresh and Easy and Trader Joe’s. Every few weeks, I even get to do Costco! THE THRILL!! The sad part is, I’m not being facetious. I actually do like going to the grocery store, getting everything on my list and hitting the weekly budget. But let’s face it, the grocery store is has become a requirement, not a funsy.

Which is how I found myself standing sparkly eyed in Michael’s. Joanne’s. Paint and fabric and yarn all seemed to hold unlimited potential! There were so many things that I could do! I bought yarn and a crochet needle! Wood and Modge Podge! FABRIC!! And the best part of it was that when I talked to the Hubs about it, he encouraged it as home improvement opportunities!!! I may have enough clothes (maybe), and according to him enough shoes (impossible), but we can always use charming new thing for the house. SCORE.

However, the challenging part is that at some point you actually have to take the items OUT of the Michael’s bag and do something with them, or your husband starts to wonder why you keep accumulating the bags at all.

So here I go.

When I started this endeavor into craftiness, I wasn’t super organized with regards to before and after pictures, so today’s “before” was pretty much taken this morning despite the craft being completed a couple of weeks ago. And to call it a “craft” is being pretty generous. I glued. Seriously. I should probably let people think that I’m tutoring some small child on how to glue things so when I say, “look at this!,” they will respond with an encouraging, “Wow! That’s great! VERY impressive for a four year old!”

So what is this fabulous first “project”?

A nice little homemade picture frame.

Introducing, my materials:

DSC_0640

That would be one sheet of scrapbook paper and one plain wooden picture frame. As you can tell, I’m a pretty big spender when it comes to crafts, considering that the picture frame cost $1 and the scrapbook paper was some I already had laying around the house. Also, let the record show that is not the actual scrapbook paper that was used in the making of this craft. As I mentioned, I executed an epic fail by not taking this picture real time.

Of course, I could not have completed this project without help from a couple more friends. Enter Modge Podge, scissors, and one of those funny little foamy paintbrush thingys. (Do I know the lingo or WHAT??)

Once I had everything assembled it was as simple as trace the frame size onto the scrapbook paper (PENCIL! I also had a pencil!!), cut scrapbook paper, liberally apply Modge Podge to the wood (using aforementioned funny little foamy paintbrush thingy) and carefully apply to the wooden frame.

VIOLA!

DSC_0641\

A PICTURE FRAME! Toss a picture of me and the Hubs in some tropical locale and bing, bang, boom – I did something crafty!! The key to celebrating my success is to not look so closely. Like this closely…

DSC_0642

So the edges are uneven and ugly…..I need to sand them still! I’m one swipe with some sandpaper away from perfection. If only I knew where to get sandpaper or what kind of sandpaper to get…..Baby steps people!!

But whatever, I sort of did it. I tried. And if you look at it from across the room or kind of squint your eyes to make things blurry, it looks great good enough.

Stay tuned! Big plans for crafts this afternoon – VALENTINE’S DAY Edition!!

 

Where Are Those Darned Overalls?

As an unemployed pregnant woman, I’ve gotten my fair share of comments, questions, and opinions. I mean, people are used to the idea of a woman quitting her job to raise her children….but usually the children are already outside of the womb at that point. Clearly, this means there is something a little bit strange about my situation. Shockingly, I don’t generally let the public in on the fact that I was fired about 6 weeks into my pregnancy. To me, that’s a personal and private matter. However, based on the intimate and probing questions I’ve received since being pregnant, I can only surmise that I no longer have the right to keep anything personal and private, so perhaps I’m the crazy one!

So here I am, pregnant, unemployed, and to the naked eye, just living up life as a stay at home housewife.
Reality? I’m losing my f-ing mind. I mean, one can only watch so much Law and Order: SVU. (Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are! But it’s true!….well, kind of true. Benson and Stabler may or may not be chasing down a perp as I type – but that’s beside the point.) So, as you can see before your very eyes, I fill some time typing up some words for funsies. I’m doing the crafty thing and dabbling in the culinary arts making sure my husband doesn’t starve. I’m also spending some time volunteering with my church. This has probably been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my unemployment. I started by doing some one-off days of volunteering. Working an event here and there, doing something static, but I wanted more. Then I was told about a “task force” that would be evaluating the church’s external communications and (hopefully) revamping them. From the website to newsletters and everything in between, we were doing a complete overhaul. Knowing I had some free time, one of the priests asked if I would be interested in participating. Uh….

 This is my JAM.

All of a sudden I found myself sitting in meetings that would make me want to TEAR MY HAIR out when I actually had to go to them as a part of my job – but here I was completely rejuvenated. I felt like I was contributing something.I felt like I had a purpose.  It felt good.

I was rattling off information about email open rates, coming up with strategies for our social media platforms, and was making a damn good case for my ideas and changes that some of the more…..seasoned…..parishioners were going to be resistant to. I felt like I was kicking ass and taking names. You know, in a totally church appropriate kind of a way. Which is how I found myself in another meeting last night, passionately talking about my ideas regarding the revamp of the newsletter’s design and content when I was interrupted abruptly by one of the more “mature” women in the group.

“Excuse me, but is this your first baby?”

 I had gotten so excited about the changes to the newsletter that for a minute I was thinking about the newsletter in the way that people talk about projects as their “baby.” I shook off my blank stare as I realized that’s not what she meant, pointed to my stomach and said,

“Uh, this baby?”

“Yes.”

“Uh, yeah?”

I did not see where she was going with this…..

“Well. I know lots of people that have had first babies. And I think it’s really great that you’ve got all these ideas, but I think you need to be realistic about your time before we start implementing all of your ideas and then you can’t follow through on your commitments.”

The silence was finally broken by the sound of my jaw slamming into the table.

All eyes were on me, but I was literally speechless. This does not happen often. Thankfully, I got an assist from one of my co-conspirators and didn’t need to respond immediately. But inside, I fumed. To be clear, up to this point I had volunteered to help with the template redesign, which I’ve got four months to complete before the baby is even born, and then to write ONE ARTICLE A MONTH. You know, like one of these blog posts. So….pretty much like incredibly time consuming rocket science.

Or like writing one article a month. Something I could probably do with my eyes closed. (Seriously. I can pretty much type nonstop without so much as glancing at the keyboard. Drives my husband crazy that I can keep complete contact with him while simultaneously having a conversation and typing.) Now, to be clear, I understand that becoming a Mom is a “full time job” and that my life will change in more ways than I can count. I am a pretty involved and experienced Auntie (as in 17 nieces and nephews experienced) so I’ve got a better understanding than many first time Moms might have about what kind of a commitment and, to be frank, time suck (but a glorious one!), kids are. Until recently, I was also a woman that was a in a professional career where I had to juggle a lot of different tasks and keep a lot of balls in the air at once. Bottom line? I wanted to whip out my resume – both personal and professional – and slap this woman across the face with it!

Rather than slap her literally, I’ll just follow through on my commitments. Because what this lady doesn’t know is that I’m one stubborn pain in the ass and that her telling me I can’t do something is equivalent to her throwing a giant gauntlet my way. Well, bring it on missy. Oh, and because of my general level of snark, she shouldn’t be surprised if I show up at next month’s meeting barefoot and in overalls.

Here We Go!

Since I sit at home, alone save for my two cats, five days a week, I decided to roll up my sleeves and commit to not napping for at least a few minutes a day. Long enough to eke out some words, write a post, and lay claim to productivity. (Aha, see what I did with the title there?) I’ve got a blogging buddy, that has recently started writing herself (see: shiny new blogroll to the right) and she wrote a piece about finding her niche. What makes her distinctive. I suppose I should do the same for myself….

Brief Bio:
I’m a 30 year old gal, that still answers the question, “How old are you?,” with “twenty-t…er…..thirty.” If you follow Emily Post’s definitions I’m a newlywed, married in October 2011. Though, I’ve also heard that if you have a kid, your newlywed status goes out the window. Apparently it’s a whichever happens first kind of a deal, which leaves me in a gray area as the alien in my belly is elbowing me in the bladder. I’m recently unemployed and due to my impending Motherhood, have decided to take that as a lovely sign that stay-at-home wifery and motherhood is next up on my path to greatness.

So that’s me. But there are a bunch of stay at home housewives and mothers whose homes are MUCH cleaner than mine, serve MUCH healthier food, and are, well, just plain old more Pinterest worthy. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’ve got a bottle of Modge Podge and a sewing machine so I’m on my way to domestic diva. However, in the interest of full disclosure the Modge Podge was just cracked open last week and the sewing machine remains in it’s box since I enthusiastically opened it Christmas morning. (I just need the “right” table to set it up on, I swear!)

All that to say – I don’t think that this is where you’ll find many posts saying thing like, “You know that DELICIOUS 18-tier double chocolate cake? Here’s how to make it beautiful and taste delicious at less than 30 calories a slice!” or “Here’s a simple design of how to make adorable and creative Halloween costumes for every kid on your block for $1.27 apiece!” If anything, I’m thinking more like, “This is NOT what the picture on Pinterest looked like….”

I am trying to cook one new meal a week. And I really do have plans to venture inside the cardboard box where my sewing machine resides. And I am working on my third year of trying to read 50 books a year (which is actually going well!) And I have a whole Michael’s bag of wooden stuff that I need to slather in Modge Podge and make fantastic. Or, you know, usable.

And then there’s that baby. That’s happening. And babies bring a wealth of funny and adorable stories right? And if the actual baby doesn’t, well, I’m sure first time parents do! (Hubby still thinks he’s not going to get poop on him ever! HA! Even I know that’s crazy!!!)

So maybe I won’t be particularly unique. I may not even be particularly entertaining. But when my husband gets home from work and asks what I did all day, at least I can honestly deny just sitting on the couch all day doing nothing!