Friday, August 15, 2014

Twitterature - August 2014

I love the Twitterature linkup, but I am not getting enough books read to have much to share in my own post!  And so, all I can give you is this:

Anne at Modern Mrs Darcy recommended this title, especially for fans of Eleanor and Park, and that stuck with me at my next trip to the library, where I found the book just sitting there waiting for me.  No interlibrary loan.  No waiting list.  It was just.....there.  Win!

I found the female protagonist fairly annoying in the beginning, but I stuck with the book and ended up enjoying it.  I don't want to say much about why I ended up appreciating it for fear of spoiling your reading experience.  I liked it.  I didn't love it like Eleanor and Park, but I liked the book, even more so after I finished it. I wish I could talk about why that is, but so it goes.

I would also like to take this opportunity to address how mature these high schoolers were in the last few YA books I've read.  Does anyone else feel this way? I read dialogue and scenes and thought: we were not like this in high school.  

Still, I can see why Anne said fans of E&P would like The Sea of Tranquility.  Worth a read.  And I definitely would be talking about the heavier themes in the book with any and all adolescents or teens of my own (not that I have any teens yet, but as a mom, I must say this).

What have you been reading?  Have you read this one?  What did you think? Tell me in the comments.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I want to organize a big, Catholic parade.

My dear, fellow Catholics:

Remember how I told you I like big, bold moves?  Dramatic things?

For quite some time now, I have wanted to organize a big, Catholic parade.  I am talking floats, bands, fellow Catholics cheering on the sides.  Wouldn't it be awesome?


....floats depicting the Joyful Mysteries.  (I call dibs on the Annunciation.) children wearing their Catholic school colors and plaids.


....someone dressed up as the patron saint of the parade.

....our favorite saints represented in costume.  St. Nicholas!  St. Patrick!  St. Gianna Molla!

....floats celebrating our seven sacraments.

....a big flatbed of homeschoolers gently (not hurling!) tossing candy!!!  Yeah!

(Marching dot com)

....the marching bands of local area Catholic high schools.

....beautiful pictures or statues of Our Lady and the Good Shepherd, Himself.

....prints of the only piece of stained glass in the entirety of St. Peter's:

(Andrew Gilbey)

Some of you are saying: but what about St. Patrick's Day?

Sure, that's a good day for celebrating our Catholicism.  It's a little (a lot?) about drinking in some cities.  Do we try anyway though?  Add a little (or a lot) more of our faith?  One could always apply to be in the parade!

Some of you are saying: but what about processions?

Sure.  Actually, I should attend more processions.  They already exist in my community.  Some of them are Eucharistic and require reverence and caution due to the Blessed Sacrament being present.  

What I'm thinking of can be found at time marker 2:53 and beyond in the dramatic, moving trailer of Fr. Barron's inspiring Catholicism series:

What I am thinking of is enthusiastic.  Bold.  Unafraid of being Catholic in a time where Catholicism is reviled.

What I am thinking of is joyful.

"The sure sign that God is alive in you is joy."
- Fr. Robert Barron


Archbishop Fulton Sheen is on his way to sainthood.  When it happens, that deserves a parade, right?

Call me.

Do you like big, bold events?  Would you enjoy such a parade?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm so excited. I just can't hide it.

My actual old pom pons

I am a fairly excitable person.

I like bold steps, dramatic moves.

I like hearing about someone taking a step forward, and it's even better when I get to witness it.

I like tentative baby steps, too, particularly when they are put forth by someone bravely facing their fears.

Sometimes, I get so excited when talking to people, I start to see eyes widen, which chastens me for a while.

Bring it in.  Take a deep breath.  Stop talking 60 miles an hour.  

Or if I'm writing something, anywhere, I notice I have used seven exclamation marks in four sentences:  Hi!!  How are you?  That sounds so fun!  Thanks!!  You look great!!  

Sometimes, I think I should be a more demure version of me.  A little more crossed ankles and hands folded in laps, kind of me.  Periods instead of exclamation marks.

Do you know what I discovered when I took a sample Strengthsfinder test for fun?  My number two strength?


I let that sink in for a while because it struck me as odd.  I've taken all kinds of inventories and they usually say things like empathetic or good listener; cheerleader seemed like a funny word choice.  But then, I realized it made perfect sense.  I love cheering people on.  (Though it's wise to quietly ascertain the intensity and method of the cheerleading required.)  I like to see people going after their dreams, making things work, taking the next step, thinking out loud, sharing their gifts with the world.  It's jazzy, man.  Jazzy!

So, what are you working on?  What are you hoping to step forward into?  Do you need some encouragement?  You'll get it here!  Tell me in the comments.

P.S.  You know who else says be yourself?  Gretchen Rubin.  Great inspiration found in her books.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What I'm Doing in the Morning and Why

It has been a little while since I read Laura Vanderkam's What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and Home, and I have a renewed sense of the wisdom behind the following quotation and other useful tidbits in her book:

"If it has to happen, it has to happen first."

I've been reading books about self-improvement since college, and I understand much of what Vanderkam writes about in her book.  However, as humans go, I was not always putting the wisdom in practice.

What's different now?

My newborn baby is now six months old.  I have grocery shopped with all three children.  (Including a grocery shopping trip where I had to locate numerous new items!  Not an autopilot, regular selections trip!  Hurrah!)  I feel ready to lean into a little more activity, strengthen some habits, and renew focus on life goals.

What do you want to do?

I pray daily, but it can be spotty.

I don't exercise. (Well, I didn't.  I do now!)  At all.  Unless you count carrying around a baby, occasionally in a carrier.

I homeschool and spend quite a bit of time with my children.

We would like more kids.  We are near forty.  We need to be stronger, fitter to keep up with young children and thrive through long days and sleepless nights.

Thus, if we want to exercise and be fit for ourselves and for our kids, we have to make exercise happen first.  We need the strength and centering God graces us with through prayer to live how we want to live with our kids. 

Call me successful!  My morning walk combines:

- fresh air
- quiet, alone time (no headphones!  only sounds of nature and community right now)
- exercise
- prayer time (Yep, that's me talking to myself and occasionally consulting the prayer list on my iPhone.)
- time to think

Things could change, as always, but this is great for now.  I consider this a win.  Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Vanderkam.  Check out her book.  It is well-written.

What about you?  Do you count carrying the baby as exercise?  My midwife didn't buy that as an exercise routine.  ;)  What's your morning routine?  Can you relate?  Are you looking at your habits?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Twitterature - July 2014

As further evidence that I only tinker with this blog in order to participate in Twitterature, I give you my next Twitterature link up post!

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel (hardcover, library)  Fascinating, yet ultimately very sad, behind-the-scenes look at the early NASA missions despite the annoying and disconcerting gossipy tone throughout.  The wives deserved better than this, surely.  A surprising story involving LBJ, Annie and John Glenn, and reporters is what I keep remembering from this book.  #spacerace #gladtolivenownotthen

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider (Kindle purchase)  The essays about intentionally traveling with your children were like a shot in the arm.  Loved those.  Her write up on an anniversary trip was delightful as well.  I've often thought about various issues being or not being a "hill to die on" because of her and could relate to creativity being a wonderful boost when worn down.  #intentionalbutrealistictoo

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam (paperback, library)  I believe this is the paper form of the ebooks of the above title, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, and What the Most Successful People Do at Work.  Easy read but chockful of good advice.  I got my husband and I up and walking in the morning (separately due to kids) and planned a weekend more concretely because of this book.  I imagine I'll be poking around Vanderkam's website and books a lot more because of her solid writing and suggestions.  #moreintentionality #prayandwalk

What about you?  Have you read these?  What did you think?  What are you reading right now?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Twitterature - June 2014

Let's start off Twitterature with a bang!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell  (hardcover, library)  This book just sang with the true voices of the title protagonists, though I probably would have been more annoyed with them if I had let how many times they said "God" really sink in.  (You know, in that tone.)  It was also fun to imagine them into all the music I was blissfully unaware of in the mid- to -late eighties.  (As in, why was that guy singing about finding what he was still looking for when I really wanted to hear The Right Stuff on Friday Night Videos?)  Eleanor and Park gave a glimpse into what it's like to be teens brave enough to be themselves.  I often imagined what it was like to be Park's mom while I read, which brings me to the recommendation of talking this one over with any child who reads it.  Also, I loved Park's dad.  This is probably an early favorite of the year.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (digital, library) I was excited to find this available digitally until I discovered it was not a memoir, and not much later, it was abandoned.  #likethecoverthough 

Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Kindle purchase) I enjoyed and appreciated the perspective of the author until I reached the part of the book where I take the test.  I have yet to devote the thirty minutes needed to complete it.  I am very curious to learn what the official test says about my strengths.  Previously, I took some sort of version of Strengthsfinder online after my husband introduced me to it.  My number two strength was Cheerleader, which was a surprise at first, but then, I realized it made a lot of sense.  My number one strength was Learner, which was not a surprise, yet still a pleasant validation.  Will the results be the same?  What will Rath suggest as strategies for my strengths?  Stay tuned.

I feel like I'm forgetting a book, but maybe this really is it for this month.  I'm excited about some books I put on interlibrary loan.  We will see what next month's Twitterature brings!  Thanks for hosting, Anne!

What's on your nightstand?  Your Kindle app?  Do you use your actual Kindle?  Read anything good lately?  Abandoned anything that surprised you?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twitterature (Inaugural Link Up May 2014)

I am quite excited because this is my first time joining in for Twitterature at Modern Mrs Darcy.  I have often piped up with what I am reading in her comment box, but I decided that talking about what we are reading is so fun that I have to do this, too!  Twitterature is why I started becoming interested in trying to spruce up this blog.  So, thanks, Anne!

Here's what I've been reading:

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton (ebook) - How appropriate for my first link up!  I actually heard about this book from Modern Mrs Darcy, probably on Twitterature.  It was a fast read and quite interesting.  I don't know much about tech startups, and learning about Twitter was a neat glimpse into the lives and interests of people with skills that are far different from mine.  Evan Williams taught himself code before he invented Blogger (Blogger!), and then he became one of the founders of Twitter.  I had to take a deep breath after each chapter, I was reading so fast.  #techdrama #dofriendsandbusinessmix #creationstory

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (ebook) - I think I stole this title from Modern Mrs Darcy's Pinterest book boards.  Fast read and very encouraging.  I appreciate that Kleon doesn't seem to take himself too seriously.  I sadly didn't realize that the adage "There's nothing new under the sun" was biblical.  Kleon had some interesting suggestions, such as his log book.  I stared at that illustration for a while.  I have realized that I am very taken with artistic process.  Fascinating.  I already started to read it again, but I keep waiting for it to disappear from my Kindle app because it's an electronic library checkout.  Also, the author claimed what one of my best curriculum and instruction professors often touted in class: the best teachers know how to steal.  They see what's good and emulate it.  #notpretentiousthankgoodness #thanksfortheencouragement

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith (hardback) - Pre-ordered a while ago, Nester continues to inspire me to let go of perfection and embrace what is in the land of interior design and decor.  I appreciated that it wasn't just a retelling of her blog but a nice narrative of her learning journey with houses.  She reminds me to not take decorating so seriously, to try, to embrace limitations, to love where you're at, and many other things. She can talk philosophically about houses and gives great practical tips, too.  I will be rereading this for sure.  She totally inspired me to not give into perfection paralyzation and dig in.  She knows us, and it shows.  #faveblog #nesterrules #idhtbptbb

Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler (hardback) - Another favorite blogger, another current release.  I just finally got to pick this book up.  I probably would've read it by now, but I am hindered by the hardback that I really wanted to have.  I could've bought it for Kindle, but it's nice to have this one in hardback.  It's just hard to read while holding a baby.  I know a lot of Jen's story, but I have enjoyed the details, getting more of her story filled in while reading this one.  She's had her first son and reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  That's as far as I've gotten!  (Is that too much of a spoiler?) #loveconversionstories #faveblogger #joefulwilerisfunny

The Family-First Creative: 42 Tips for Following Your Dreams While Putting Your Family First by Jennifer Fulwiler (ebook) - Jen wanted to thank all the people who supported her by pre-ordering her memoir; so, she wrote this ebook that was only available until the book came out.  I zipped right through it, and I'll very likely zip through it again, as her tips seem hard won and proven.  There were a lot of neat things in it like her recommendation for the St. Catherine of Siena Foundation's Called and Gifted Series and the reminder I needed: even if no one sees what you create, the world is better place because you did it.  Art can serve you.  Creativity is for all humans, not just the super talented ones (which I do not mean snarkily- I love creative and super talented people.  And I love people who don't feel super talented but create anyway!)  Like this blog: who cares if no one sees it!  That's not why I started it.  I started it because it looked like fun.  I'm not going to pressure myself to perfect it.  If I want to work on it, I will.  If I feel like writing something, I will.  Jen seems to get that.  #thanksjen #familyfirst #conversiondiary

The bookshelf in my head most often includes: 

just started StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath  
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Strangers and Sojourners by Michael O'Brien (my husband bought this for me on Kindle a while ago, and I haven't dived in yet....I don't know why not!  Father Elijah was amazing.  So is O'Brien's art.)

Hooray, my first Twitterature!  How about you?  What have you been reading?