November 29, 2013

Be Thankful for ALL The Things!

I know today is the day after Thanksgiving, but that's okay.  I hadn't decided to write a blog post yesterday, and I even if I had I wouldn't have had time to write it up anyhow.  So therefore, it is coming today.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I have a wonderful, wonderful boyfriend who is there for me through thick and thin and does so much for me.  It's hard to believe that it will be two and a half years together in January already.  How the time flies!

He doesn't like it when I try to tickle him ;-)

I have a great family - a bunch of great siblings that get a long pretty well (for the most part ;-) ) and awesome parents who are supportive of everything I do.

I have been blessed with many friends, both ones that I have grown up with, and ones that I have met along the way.

I am a member of a parish that I feel a part of, and not one that I just attend for Mass.  There is a great community there, and some pretty incredible people... the first of whom is Jesus ;-) 

And last, but not least, I am very thankful for the gift I have been given of my extended family.  I am lucky to have some pretty awesome cousins, aunts, uncles and the blessing of being given the gift of spending 21 years with all four of my grandparents.  It's a gift that I know not everyone has, and the fact that I had that long and that we all live so close is something I am very grateful for.

This wasn't meant to be a comprehensive list (I could turn that into a book!) so I'll close by saying that there are so many people and things in my life that I am thankful for, and I am truly blessed for each and every one of them.  Happy Thanksgiving!

November 15, 2013

On Blogging and Being Me

I've been toying with the thought of this post for a while, and by happenstance, tonight seems the appropriate night to write it.

As it turns out, I entered the blogging world exactly six years ago today.  It's one of those moments where I can remember it perfectly.  I'd wanted a blog for a few weeks, had finally convinced my parents to let me, and after a frustrating few hours of trying to figure blogger out and calling up the dear friend of mine who had inspired me to blog in the first place, my first blog was live.

My first blog was entitled, "Lady of the Rose", after a poem I liked which I have since forgotten, but in the poem, the rose was the symbol of the Infant Christ.  A few years later I decided that I needed a title change, and became A Rose in Bloom - named after a book by Louisa May Alcott which I very much enjoyed.  I had that blog for four years, at which point I went away to school and the blogging bug faded away for a year.  When it came back, I decided I needed something new.  I'd changed a lot, and my old blog, as dear as it was to me, just didn't fit any more.  Rather than entirely revamping my old blog with a new name, new look and new layout, I started this blog instead.

I think it is the introvert in me that has always enjoyed blogging so.  I tend to be quiet in a crowd, I am not the best communicator, I don't share my deeper and more thoughtful thoughts well.  In the setting of a blog, however, I am safe.  I can talk and share and feel free.  I can take as long as I need to to formulate and edit what it is I am trying to say.

As much as I love blogging, there is one thing that I have struggled with for all the six years I have been blogging and that is being content with being myself.

You see, I am a people pleaser.  I want people to like me.  I want lots of people to like me.  I don't talk all that much, so when I do talk I want people to listen to me.  I have dreams of having hundreds of followers who comment on the majority of my blog posts and have discussions with me.  Dreams which have never been fulfilled.

And I've struggled with that.  I've struggled with that a lot.  I've looked at other blogs out there that are popular and that everyone visits and reads and I have thought "Why? What am I doing wrong?  What can I do to make people like my blog just as much?  How can I imitate all these other blogs?"  College played a role in my blogging hiatus, but the other big factor was burn out from trying to become the ideal blogger, the blogger with a vast following.

Then, not all that long ago (okay wow, over a year ago), I read a blog post by Kelly from "This Ain't The Lyceum", where she talked about blogging and why she kept at it... and let me just quote what she said.

I registered a domain and designed a site despite not being entirely certain what I would write about on a regular basis. Would people really want to keep reading about how much I suck at homeschooling and all my ramblings about the ugly, vintage items scattered in my house? How many photos of a stranger’s children dressed in mismatched clothes can people look at? But yet, I kept going. I wrote stuff so I wouldn’t forget it and I wrote stuff because reading it made me laugh(and maybe snort/ geese honk laugh.) I poured my heart into a few posts when I needed to, and people responded with prayers and words of encouragement. I even finally got around to organizing all my history notes and posting them online for others to download and use.
I’m still a small fish in a large pond, but unless I’ve got one or two really persistent stalkers, I racked up a nice amount of page views. I keep telling my husband I’m writing because I like it, not for approval or to make money, but certainly, knowing other people are reading and enjoying my work is satisfying. 
*emphasis mine

"Yes," I thought, "that is why I am blogging.  I am blogging because I like it.  I have to blog because I want to, not because I want everyone else to want me to."

Once I decided that, blogging became fun again.  I love getting comments and I break out in a huge smile each time I get a new follower but those are bonuses to blogging now, not the purpose behind my posts.  I am blogging because I am me, and me likes to write. Me likes to write about the things I enjoy, and the things that make me want to write - Me doesn't blog about topics that might get other bloggers finger's moving.  Because that isn't me.

I've wondered on a few occasions if I should try and have a more unified theme for this blog, if I should start writing more reviews and things, or Catholic living, or something.  But no, that's not me, at least not right now.  Right now I am a girl who loves to write, and wants to write about the randomness of life.  There is no theme, there is no unity, there is just me.

And I'm okay with that.  Here's to at least six more years of blogging!

November 14, 2013

Come Stalk my Shelves

I don't know about you, but I love looking through the books on other people's bookshelves when I go to visit.  If not openly, then through covert glances as I oh so casually walk by.  And apparently, a lot of other people like to do the same thing, based on the awesome link-up over at Modern Mrs Darcy

Above, you can see the little bookshelf that is exclusively mine.  Not all of my books fit on it, but I bought it when I was living on campus so that I could bring my favorites with.  Now that I am home, it resides on my desk and houses the books that do not fit on the other bookshelf in my room.  Well, in my closet.  But we aren't there yet.

I think you should be able to click for a larger image

Lets start with the front row... we have the first three Temeraire books, a Nicholas Sparks, some Dorothy Sayers that I've never read because I have yet to come across the book that comes before them at the library and when I ordered it it never came in.

With the front row removed for easier viewing, we have all the Jane Austen books in one volume - an awesome 16th birthday gift from my uncle! The Hunger Games, more Nicholas Sparks.... erm.. a lot of books about dating and relationships.  I have six, only 5 are on the shelf at the moment, and not sure where the 6th one is at. On the ends since you can't see all that well we have the Anne of Green Gables Companion, and the Big Book of Doctor Who, or something along those lines.  The exact title escapes me.

Now we move into the closet.  Yes, the closet.  I share a room with my four sisters, and this used to be in the middle of the room forming an island with two dressers, but when we moved the island to give us more space the bookshelf ended up in the closet.  Which is a logical place, I think.  Most of these are mine, save for the books on Chamberlain, Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean.  Can you tell I like horses?

My beloved Lord of the Rings!  And Sherlock Holmes... my, looking through these photos I'm seeing so many books that I need to reread.  I kind of forget about them, tucked away in the closet behind my clothes.  Some of these belong to sisters, but most are mine.

Aaannnd.... with the exception of The Girl in Blue, these are all my books as well!  More Tolkien, Jeff Shaara's Civil and Revolutionary War series and another Dorothy Sayers.

Moving to the second bookshelf in the closet (that's right, we have two bookshelves in that one closet), we have the Phantom Stallion series, Catholic Reluctantly and The Fairy Tale Novels series + David Copperfield and a book of Civil War stories

I don't think any of the books on this shelf are actually mine - believe it or not, my sisters do own some of the books!  There's Princess Diaries, Inkheart and Inkspell, THE KINGS THIEF WHICH IS AN AWESOME SERIES

And last, but not least, the Redwall shelf + a book of Grimm's fairytales.  

This has been a helpful post for me as well, when people ask what types of books I like to read I am usually at a loss.  Now, however, I can safely tell them that I enjoy pretty much anything British (as evidenced by Tolkien, Sayers, Austen, Jacques and Sherlock Holmes), fairytale related works and books about horses.

Now I have shown you MY bookshelves - go on over to Modern Mrs Darcy and let us know what is on YOURS!  (and feel free to drop off your link in my comments if you decide to join, I'd love to stalk your shelves!)

November 13, 2013

The Gift of Family

When I was young, I thought everyone had a family like mine.  I thought families where the aunts and uncles and cousins and sometimes grandparents lived out of state or far away were the oddity.  For your birthday you got to celebrate twice.  One time was your actual birthday, the second was your family party.  If you were unlucky then your birthday fell on a weekend and the two were combined, so you only got one celebration that year.

Everyone got together with both sides of their family for Thanksgiving, for Easter, for Christmas.  You'd do breakfast/Christmas Eve with one side, then for dinner/Christmas Day you'd celebrate with the other side.  You all went to each other's football games, plays, performances, special events.  Everyone lived no more than a 45 minute drive from each other, and you saw everyone in your family a lot.  Most of your second cousins and so on lived in the area too, so you'd usually see them all at least once or twice a year for other things such as First Communion or Christmas Parties.  That's what everyone did, and that's the way I thought the world was.

Then I grew older and began to realize that it was my family that was the oddity, and not the norm.  Most of the people I knew didn't have sixteen grandkids on just one side of the family.  Quite a few of them didn't have grandparents the lived close by, and almost none of them had all four grandparents living still.  For birthdays and holidays, they didn't get together with all the extended relatives.  Either they lived out of state from the rest of the family, or most of their family lived scattered around the country.  Their families were not like my family.

As I have come to realize this, I have come to see how truly blessed I am to have the family that I do.  Of course we have our differences and our disagreements and things come up that strain relationships from time to time.  But we have still all stayed close and stayed family.  When we get together there is a lot of laughter, and a lot of fun.

When my grandpa went into the hospital suddenly last month, because we all lived close we were able to be there.  We all camped out in the hallway outside of critical care (the hospital staff was awesome enough not to make us go sit in the waiting room) and where there for each other as we watched and waited for those two days before my grandpa died.  During the week that followed, we had the blessing of being together, and being close, and being able to be there for each other and I looked around at my siblings, and my cousins and aunts and uncles and the boyfriends and girlfriends -  who truly are a part of our clan and not just the significant 'others' - and everyone's extended relatives who came and where there for us, and I thanked God for giving me such a big, wonderful and loving family.

With my family, I've been given a wonderful blessing.  They are the greatest people that I know, and I am proud to be one of them.

November 6, 2013

Oh for the love of Coffee

It's been a rainy, dull, dreary week here in the great Midwet.  I mean, Midwest.  When I'm not grumbling about the utter lack of sunshine, I am deciding that this is good cozy blanket and blogging weather and after long pondering (ie. simply no ideas), I have decided on what to write a post about.  I opened up our jar of coffee beans, was greeted by the wonderful scent and was inspired.  After all, I would not be a true blogger did I not mention Coffee at least once!

I am a late coffee drinker; I was your stereotypical get-to-college-and-realize-you-can't-live-without it convert.  I started out with what many (ie. my father) would not term real coffee: a frappe.  Oh what joyous sugary mug of calories.  Best part - it smelled like coffee but didn't have the bitter coffee taste.  Before all you devoted coffee drinkers faint in horror, never fear. From there I worked my way down to only a bit of cream and sugar.  On some days.  Most days there's two spoonfuls of sugar.

Coffee is a marvelous thing.  I know that some drink it for the caffeine jolt, but honestly it's never done a whole lot to wake me up in the mornings.  Unless I drink it on an empty stomach.  Then it gets my heart going like a rabbit's and my eyes shoot wide and I feel like I'm about to go into a seizure.  At night - I can get away with drinking caffeinated coffee at night, provided I have it no less than an hour before I go to bed.  Studies have shown that when I drink coffee after 7pm, it loosens some wiring in my jaw or something and I have the potential to talk your ear off.  As a normally quiet and reserved person, this has shocked some people.

In all honesty, I drink coffee for the smell.  Even when I couldn't stand the taste, I adored the scent of coffee.  I could walk into a coffee shop and sit there for hours and hours on end.  If there was a super cute coffee shop near by (Dunkin Donuts does not anywhere near count... and I haven't been able to justify working for Starbucks. They all are drive ins around here anyhow), I would be begging them to hire me and forget this whole meeting and event planning degree.  So yes, the smell and sometimes there's nothing like a good strong cup of joe.

Also, the mugs.  Somewhere I developed a love for coffee mugs and I've started up a collection.  Not just any old mug can make it in - it either has to be different than your average mug/pretty/meaning attached.  I don't know why, I just love coffee mugs.

My beautiful mugs! Left to Right, Front to Back: Christmas mug from a friend; Mt Washington mug from my Knight; Actually a Tea Cup from a friend; Owl from a baby shower; Bible Verse from a friend; $1 from Michaels; Sesquecential Mug from NCC; NCC mug; TARDIS mug from my Knight
Coffee is wonderful.  Coffee is pretty much the greatest beverage out there.  Oh Coffee, what would we mere mortals do without thine aide and blessing?

And that, my dear readers, is my ode to coffee.  My mission complete and my duty fulfilled, I return now to my glass of Oktoberfest.

November 1, 2013

Strange Things Happen OR A Short Story in Honor of Halloween

 by myself
(not in any way, at all, based on the school I go to. not at all.)

 The heavy door of the women's bathroom swung shut behind the girl. Her wedge heels made soft thuds across the tile, the sound echoing in the empty room. Brushing back a long brown hair from her face, she ducked into one of the stalls to grab some toilet paper to blow her nose, balancing her laptop and textbooks in one arm. Stupid allergies. Of course she hadn't brought any Kleenex with in her purse today. She'd ended up fighting a runny nose all through her speech class.
She paused mid sneeze, thinking she heard a sound. Nothing. Shrugging, she finished and tossed the toilet paper into the garbage can. Her movement activated the water faucet in the sink nearest to her and she started. Gosh, she needed to stop being so skittish! She worked at a haunted house for crying out loud, she should be used to noises and - wait, what did her job have to do the water in the bathroom. What was up with her? All day she'd been jumping at noises and sights out of the corner of her eyes.
Rolling up the sleeves of her purple sweater, the girl stepped up to the sink to wash her hands and double checked her reflection in the mirror. Assured that her eyeliner was intact, she reached for the paper towel dispenser and froze. The water faucet at the opposite end of the row of sinks was on. How on earth.... she was the only one in here, wasn't she?
The girl licked her lips nervously as she dried her hands. She watched the water streaming into the sink, and started backing towards the door. The water turned off. Then it turned back on again and so did the next one closest to her. Then the next one, and the next, each one getting closer and closer. She panicked and whirled to the door. It wouldn't open.
Her heart pounding now and the sound of water faucets turning on getting closer she pulled as hard as she could. The door gave way and opened, and as she darted out of the bathroom she could hear the water shut off.

The boy pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and checked the screen.
Hey sweetie! Want 2 meet me in parking lot at T?
Sure. B rt there. He texted back, shoving his heavy pre-med textbooks into his backpack. The sun had more or less set all the way, but he decided to walk around to the parking lot outside rather than cutting through the buildings. He stood up from the table in the cafeteria, stretching out before shouldering his backpack. The cell phone went back into the pocket of his faded cargo pants and he headed out into the evening.
The night air was still mild and a gentle breeze brushed across his dark skin. In the distance he could hear the last of the summer's crickets chirping and a frog croaking down in the pond. He followed the brick lined path through the set up of tables and chairs and along the small grove of trees in the center of campus.
He stopped in the path, across from the small white school house that sat in the middle of the grove. His head tilted as he listened, brow furrowing in puzzlement. There it was again. It sounded like...
Yes, that was definitely giggling that he heard. He looked around to see if there was couple sitting out at one of the picnic tables or a couple of girls walking down the path. No, no one there. But he could have sworn her heard the sound of laughter. Wait, there it was again! It was – child's laughter?
His mouth suddenly dry, the boy turned and looked again at the old wooden school house. There were no lights, no sign of movement anywhere, but he was certain that the laughter had come from that direction. And there it was again. A little louder this time, and unmistakably the sound of a child laughing. Of children laughing.
There were no children around.
He took a deep breath, scratching the stubble of a beard on his chin while he steadied himself and then quickly began walking away, willing himself not to run. There was the sound of laughter again behind him, and he bolted off into the night.


Ah, the night before Halloween – it never failed to be crisp and calm and suspenseful, as if it was holding it's breath in anticipation of the mischief and ghosts of the day to come. Her cheerfully grinning jack 'o' lantern earrings bobbed up and down as the young woman walked briskly out of the school and into the night. In her mind she was going over again all the elements of her costume for the next day.
Bat wings, check. Ears, check. Black pants and top, check. Oh, she couldn't wait to see everyone's costumes!
She pulled her keys from the pocket of her teal plaid coat, clicking the button to unlock her car. The headlights blinked on and off in a welcoming response. Sliding her faux leather laptop bag off her shoulder and juggling it with her waterbottle and lunchbag, she opened the back door of her little Chevy and plopped her things in the seat. As she straightened up, she found herself looking at a what looked like a (rather short) person, staring at her a few parking spaces over. She blinked and looked again – and saw no one. Slowly closing the door to her car, she looked around again, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling. There was no one in sight.
Shrugging it off, the young woman slipped into her car, automatically pressing the lock button as she shut the door. She inserted her car key into the ignition and gave it a turn. There was no response. Puzzled, she turned her key again and the car sputtered, than died. “Come on baby, what's wrong?” she murmured, starting to feel frustrated. None of her lights had been on, there was no way the car battery could be dead.
All of a sudden her headlights flashed on and the car engine started up with a roar. She jumped, gasping and placing a hand over her pounding heart. What on earth was up with her car? And hadn't... she looked down and stared at her key. It was in the off position.
The car died again. Heart now pounding wildly, she took a shaking breath and turned the key in the ignition one more time. The car started normally. Okay, this was really weird. “Come on,” she chuckled nervously, “you love spooky stuff like this.”
Yeah, not in real life.
“You're just on edge because it's the night before Halloween,” she talked out loud to herself. “If this was any other night of the year, you wouldn't care.” Talking out loud didn't keep the feeling that someone was watching her grow stronger. She backed out of her parking space, glancing around as she did for a sign of anyone. No one was around. Then why did it feel like...
No, there wasn't anyone watching her. She shifted into drive and drove through the parking lot a little faster than might have been approved. This was ridiculous. No one was watching her. No one was in the back seat of her car.
The back seat of her car? Why had she thought someone could be in her back seat? Her imagination was running away with her, she was the only one in the car. The only one, no one else was here.
She peeled out of the parking lot, barely pausing at the stop signs as panic mode started to take in. What the heck was going on with her tonight? She sped up the private road out of the college, unable to shake the feeling that eyes were boring into the back of her neck. A red light greeted her at the entrance to the main road, forcing her to stop and wait to turn left. Nervously, she glanced into her rearview mirror at her back seat. There was nothing there. Nothing at all.... how on earth had her waterbottle gotten into the passenger seat? She knew she had put it into the back.
The light turned green and just as she moved her foot to the gas pedal, the back door of her car flew open and slammed shut. Her hand flew up to cover a scream and she flew forward, leaving behind the school and whatever it was that had opened her car door and taken the sensation of being watched with it.