March 26, 2014

10 Things I Like About Myself

How I came to find this link up is a bit of a round about story.  I started at Grace's blog which led me to All Things E, which led me to Avoiding Atrophy, which led me to this post that you are reading right now.

I think we can all agree that liking ourselves can be a very, very tough thing to do.  Right now as I am writing this, I have no idea if I'll be able to come up with ten things because I can barely think of just two.  And yet being able to like ourselves is so incredibly important.  We can't count on our family and friends to always be there to give us a boost with their kind words and encouragement.  We need to have the ability to look at ourselves and the mirror and say, "You know what? I'm pretty awesome."  And when friends and family do give us compliments and positive feedback, it's good to have the confidence to be able to respond with a "Thank you. You are right!"

I've had my share of struggles with self esteem.  I'm too quiet.  I'm boring.  I'm not that attractive.  The people I really want to be friends with never notice me and become friends with someone else. I'm not talented at anything.  I can't sing like that person over there can.

My personal struggle has never been one with pride as we normally think of the term, but with false humility.  It has taken a lot of work over the years for me to be able to gradually look at myself and the things I do and admit to myself that yes, I am good at that.  It has taken even more work to be able to admit that to others when they compliment me on things.

In recent years, both my Knight and a friend a I made while away at college have done wonders to help me appreciate myself more, though neither of them probably know it.  My Knight does tend to get a little frustrated with me when he tells me I'm pretty or talented and I don't agree with him, so I've been trying hard to honestly agree and not disagree.  While I was away at college, I met and became friends with a pretty awesome girl who wasn't afraid to say when she thought she rocked.  It wasn't long before I started falling into the habit of agreeing and responding with how awesome I was when I was around her.  I always feel so good about myself after we hang out, and having the freedom of being comfortable enough around her to say "You know what, I'm pretty awesome" is fantastic.

So without further ado - 10 things that I like about myself.

1.  I am a darn good listener.   I may not talk a lot most of the time and I may not have profound words of advice to offer, but when someone is talking to me I listen to them.  I focus on them, and I make sure to make eye contact to let them know that I am paying attention.  In fact I think I make a little too much eye contact sometimes and make the person talking a wee bit uncomfortable.  I really do care about what people have to say, and if they trust me enough to talk to me about something, then I honor that trust and listen with the attention it deserves.

2. I can remember names really well.  After the first time I meet you, I will remember your name.  I may second guess myself occasionally, and since most people have a hard time with names, I pretend like I do too so that they don't feel bad when they don't remember my name.  But 9 times out of 10 I will remember your name, even if it's been a good couple of months since we've last met.

3. It frustrates the heck out of me somedays, but I have awesome hair.  Back in the day it used to be pretty thick - like, "HOLY COW you have thick hair thick."  It's thinned out a bit since then, but I still have pretty good volume to it.  It holds a curl really nicely, and apparently looks great when I blow dry and/or straighten it because that's when I get the most compliments on it.  Also, I think I look great as a redhead.  I like my natural color and all, but I have always loved red hair, and I am so happy that it looks good on me.

4.  I am a good writer.  I have a knack for writing poetry, despite my utter disregard for all those pentameters and the number of stressed and unstressed syllables and all that whatever.  I am a good essay writer, and I think I may be fairly decent at fictional writing as well.  I had a friend once say that my style reminded her of Tolkien in The Hobbit, which just about made my day ^_^  Of course, even I don't think that I am anywhere near Tolkien... but the fact that I got that comparison was awesome.  I can communicate very well and clearly through writing, hence the reason writing is my preferred method of talking to people.  (I do tend to hide behind that though and not develop my verbal communication skills as much as perhaps I should.)

5. I'm not super talented at anything, but I am moderately talented at quite a few things.  I don't think I'll ever win The Voice, but I've grown to like mine.  I'll never be Tolkien or J.K. Rowling, but I can write out a good story.  I can't look at random objects and see some new crafty, artsy idea, but if you give me an idea I can make it my own and have it turn out pretty cute at that.  I'm no Jon Schmidt and playing in front of people makes me as nervous as heck, but I can play the piano well enough to entertain myself and my family.  I can't dance, but I do have very good timing with music and even if I don't know the steps I can visualize a dance well enough in my head to choreograph it for someone else.  Some people would call being only sort of good at a lot of things mediocre, I prefer to think of it as being versatile.

6. I can cook.  My mom got me started with making dinner when I was... in my early teens? I've gotten to know my way pretty well around the kitchen, and lately I've been venturing cautiously into the world of experimenting with spices and such.  I'm also good at baking, and am the go to person for pie crusts in my family.  It amazes me how many people out there don't know how to cook, so yeah.  I am pretty proud of that skill set I have.

7. I can make people laugh.  Sometimes it's intentional (love coming up with witty/snarky comments and jokes to slip into a conversation) and sometimes it's not (like when I forget people who aren't my family are in the house and let a yawn turn into a vocalization. Yeah, that happened. It was awkward.)  Regardless, I seem to have the ability to make people laugh.

8. I am smart.  Now I know this one sounds like prideful bragging, but it really isn't.  I know very well that I am not the smartest person out there, and most days I certainly don't feel smart.  But I got the highest ACT score out of anyone in my family (extended included), I received the Presidential Scholarship (highest one) at my first school, was in the Honor's Society and made the Dean's List all four terms that I was there, never got a final grade lower than an A-, and darn it, I really like that about myself.

9. I am a lot like my father.  I'm not sure if this would get onto the list of my mom's favorite things about me (haha, right Mother?)... apparently since I look so much like her it took her until I went away to college and didn't call home every day to figure out that I take after my dad in my personality, and not her.  We are both fairly reserved, we both have a 'superior wit', we are both introverts, I'm not as intimidating as him but that's probably  because I'm not 6'4" or a physical trainer.  We think in very similar ways and have similar reactions.

10.  I can be a leader just as easily as a supporting role.  I'm primarily of a phlegmatic temperament, so given the choice I prefer to play a supporting role in a group situation.  I'm the one who would run for vice president over president.  However, if I don't feel like there is a strong enough leadership taking place or no one else is volunteering am I able to jump in and take control of the situation and get it organized and productive.  Nothing irks me more than when I'm in a group and no one wants to voice an opinion or make the first move.  I think being the eldest of seven children has given me good training for getting people to do what needs to be done.

And wow! I actually made it to 10 things.  It took me a while (I started this blog post last night, and I started thinking of things to put on the list well before then), but there you have it. 10 things that I like about myself.  I hope you have found this to be a source of inspiration for you to consider just what you like about you, as well as a way to get to know me a little better.

To read more bloggers sharing what they like about themselves, or if you want to link up yourself (open for 4 more days!) go on over and visit the lovely Christy at Avoiding Atrophy.

March 25, 2014

Hurray for Spring Shopping!

Oh the irony - on the day I go out shopping for new spring clothes it's barely 30 degrees out and we got a few snow flurries.  WHY?  This weekend is whispering promises of temperatures in the 60s, so I am hoping and praying that the whispers are not lies.

I spent the morning clothes shopping with my sister, and found a couple of lovely new things from the local Clothes Mentor.  (Love that store!)  It's been a while since I've done any kind of clothes or fashion post here, so I thought I'd seize the opportunity to do a photoshoot and share my finds with y'all!

Lovely turquoise shrug!  I love this color and the length - also, super soft and comfy!

Can't have too many scarves, and I could not resist picking up this bright, cheerful yellow one!

Same shirt as the picture the one prior... you can't see it too well but the front is layered with strips of fluttery fabric, which I thought complimented the theme of the mint butterfly skirt rather well!

Orange! I love orange now.  It's not a color I've worn very often in the past, but it has definitely grown on me.  It's so bright and bold and fun.

A wee bit wrinkly, but this is an outfit I picked up to wear to work at my office when the weather finally warms up.  I think this is my tough working woman look.

And last is this lovely mint green top.  I absolutely adore the neckline... it's so unique and feminine!  I had fun with this pose, pretending to look off as if someone were talking to me when really no one is there but the poster of David Tennant and Matt Smith.

And that's that!  Here's to warmer weather - very, very soon!

March 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me - Part II

I took advantage of my birthday being on a Thursday to take Friday and Saturday off of work, and spend it in a continued celebration of my birthday and simply enjoying some downtime.  I hadn't had a Saturday morning off of work in a while, so being able to sleep in and then leisurely get up and get ready for the day was a nice treat!

I did work in the morning on my birthday, and go to class but work was light and both my classes were easy since it was the last day before spring break - AND I actually found a nice, close parking spot very quickly for my evening class which NEVER happens, and  though I was late I still beat my teacher to class, so that all worked out well.

The most special part of my actual birthday was getting to Skype with my Knight while I opened my presents and my family sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  Even though he wasn't able to visit over my birthday as we had originally planned, being able to share part of my day with him was very nice indeed.

Photo by my mom
Friday I celebrated by going out shopping with a couple of Khols' coupons that I had saved up and buying myself a new outfit.

After I texted my Knight about five times about how pretty and comfortable it was he replied with a wry "You really like that dress, don't you?"  Yes. Yes I do.

Prior to shopping, my Knight and I went on what we have termed 'a long distance date'.  When we go on such a date, we find a movie with times relatively close to each other (this time we got lucky and had showings at the same time with the time zone difference calculated in!) and then Skype over coffee.  We went to see Non-Stop with Liam Neeson, and while it wasn't a "Oh, we must go and see it again!" film, it was pretty good, and very interesting.  

Saturday was a nice, quiet afternoon at home, followed up by a night out with some of my favorite girls at an Irish Pub near my old college that I have always wanted to go to.  It lived up to my expectations with amazing food and a great atmosphere.  We all had a lovely (if loud at times due to some of us being a wee bit tired... and giggle happy...) time out, and when the under 21-year olds were told to leave at 9, we moved across the street to the most amazing cafe on earth where everything on their menu is chocolate and they have two pages just of hot chocolate and two more of chocolate beverages and then like five pages of chocolate deserts.  It's awesome.

All in all, I have a great birthday weekend, and turning 22 is ranking pretty high on my list of best birthday's ever.  With a start like this, I can't wait to see what the rest of my year holds!
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March 21, 2014

Care for some Tea?

For my birthday, my parents gave me a lovely tea set of a teapot and two cups, along with a box of TAZO Passion tea from my youngest brother...

Would anyone care for some tea?

March 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

I know, I know... I said no Taylor Swift on my birthday, but that popped into my head and I couldn't resist making a meme!  Meme making is fun... and temptingly addicting...

It's my birthday, and so far it's been a pretty good one!  The sun is shining brightly and it's a balmy 46 degrees.  I didn't wear my coat while walking from my car into Jewel and I drove with my window open a few inches. Ahhh spring.  

My sister surprised me this morning with a video she put together of her singing re-written lyrics to Taylor Swift's 22 - plus surprise video clips of a few friends wishing me a Happy Birthday!  It was an awesome surprise, and the video greetings so took me by pleasant surprise that I nearly cried.  (But didn't, because siblings were watching).

At work my boss remembered that it was my birthday and gave me a cute card from him and his wife, and bought me a latte from Dunkin Donuts.  The cashier at Jewel wished me a happy birthday as well after checking my idea for the bottle of wine that I bought to go with dinner tonight (Pink Moscato to drink and Strawberry Chicken for dinner! Yum!)

I'm spending a quiet afternoon at home now (though I do have to go back out for my night class, ick)... but I have a fun weekend all planned out!  I took off both Friday and Saturday, so tomorrow is a long distance movie and Skype date with my Knight, and then Saturday is dinner at an Irish Pub I've always wanted to go to with friends and cousins!

Birthdays (both mine and others) have always been special to me.  While not every birthday of mine has been that great  (I'm looking at you 15 and 20) I think this one is turning out to be pretty awesome.

March 18, 2014

I'm a Secret Ninja

So yesterday (I am assuming) at some point I hurt my ankle.  I am not really sure how I did it, but in the midst of my desk job I got up and noticed that it was a bit sore to walk on.  Luckily it didn't bother me during my hour commute home, so I thought nothing more of it than a passing discomfort.

This morning, however, I awoke to a much more sore ankle than the night before and upon inspection determined that it was the slightest bit swollen.  Walking from one end of campus to the other and back again in not the best shoes certainly didn't help it at all today, so now I'm sitting with it propped up on the couch with an ice pack.

I have absolutely no idea what I did.  I don't remember falling or tripping or stepping on the side of my foot or anything.  Clearly folks, sitting a desk all day is dangerous and you should be careful lest you hurt your ankle.

I have come up with a theory though as to how it happened....

You see, I have realized that I must have a secret life at night that I don't remember during the day.  I think it quite obvious (now that I have realized this) that I have an alter ego that's a secret ninja with a touch of Batman thrown in who works for S.H.E.I.L.D.  Each night they erase my memories in order to protect my secret and highly useful identity.  I must have hurt my ankle while out on a night time mission Sunday night, and during the post mission process they overlooked it and so didn't heal it with their special injury healing technology.

Sounds legit to me.

March 16, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

We celebrated our Saint Patrick's Day yesterday due to much business today and if you celebrate on a Sunday you don't have to worry about the fact that you gave up desert for Lent on Monday.  Don't worry though - I am still wearing green today!

I was informed that this strange and brightly colored beverage is called Green River soda.  We felt it was appropriate for the occasion, and being from Chicagoland and all.

Our Irish take on "fixing" the bundt cake.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

March 13, 2014

Sharing the Stories I Love

When I was younger and about the age where my reading interests and the interests of my sisters' first started to align, the attitude I took on was not initially one of excitement and enthusiasm to share my favorite books.  I believe the most dramatic instance of this was when I discovered the Redwall books by Brian Jacques.  I absolutely loved Redwall and the adventures of Matthias and company, but when my younger sister wanted to read it I was decidedly not enthused.  These were my stories, and I wanted to treasure them all to myself - at least for a while.  It took my mother ordering me to stop being selfish and let my sister read the book.  I didn't own it, I had just checked it out from the library and she could read it too. Reluctantly, I handed it over to her to read.

She fell in love with Redwall too, and as we progressed through the series together I discovered just how much fun it was to have someone else, particularly someone else in your family, who enjoyed reading the same books as you.  My friends and I didn't always read the same things, and they were much harder to shove a book at and say "YOU MUST READ THIS NOW!", and quite frequently they were less - shall we say, fanatical? - in their reactions.  Also, siblings are a little more readily available for conversation (that mainly consisted of "OHMYGOSHTHATPART!!!") than friends, due to the fact that I live with my siblings and not with my friends.

Since that initial rocky start, I have shared a lot of the books that I love with my siblings.  I like to think that they would not be as nearly well read as they are if it weren't for me.  We've shared Nancy DrewThe Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, (my brother is the only one I've gotten to read the Silmarillion), Jane Austen, The Hunger Games, the Divergent trilogy, Anne of Green Gables, The Fairy Tale Novels Series... it's a very long list.  We don't always like the same things (I have on sister who refuses to read Tolkien  and not all of us enjoyed The Hunger Games), nor do all of us read everything that someone else is reading, but generally speaking we have the same tastes.

Last summer I picked up Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief from the library, and for the first time five out of the seven of us (the youngest two weren't quite at that reading level) all read through and entire series at the same time.  There was a little bickering as to who got to read the next book first, but it was a lot of fun all discovering a great series together and being able to talk about our favorite parts and characters.  This year the second to youngest picked up the series and has been making her way through as avidly as we did.

The inspiration for writing this post came today as Sister #3 (the middle child who doesn't like Tolkien) waited for me to load the first episode of Sherlock Season 3 for us to watch together.  She's become an avid Sherlock fan as of late and has been patiently waiting to watch the recent season on the internet, reading the stories by Sir Doyle while she does.

As the eldest child, introducing my siblings to the stories I love has become a role that I enjoy.  I may not have enjoyed it when I was younger, but now I wait eagerly as each one grows up to be old enough to read another favorite book or series.  And sometimes, they introduce new stories to me too and that is just as fun.

March 9, 2014

Under Construction!

My blog will be looking a bit disheveled over the next few days  week as I find little bits of time here and there to redo the look and feel.  In the mean time... announcing my new blog title and header!

March 6, 2014

So it's Lent is it? I guess I'm meant to be a Mom-Blogger...

Disclaimer: the two topics in the title don't actually go together.  It is however how I often talk (one of the few traits I inherited from my mother), aka, the gift of stringing half thoughts together into a single sentence.

So they tell me it is Lent now and by the ashes I got on my forehead yesterday and the growling of my stomach because of COURSE I was starving in between meals, even though I normally am not, I am guessing "they" are right.  Lent has always been an... interesting season for me.  It's hard to get into the 'feeling' of the season, and not 'feeling' like it's a time of prayer and penitence makes it difficult to be prayerful and penitential.   I usually try to pick something to do in addition to something to give up but I haven't decided on anything yet.  Ideas?

As for the Mom-Blogger part.  I was thinking the other day of new names for my blog and the thought "A Little Bit of Wine" came into my head.  I loved it, but the more I thought about it I realized that was a much better name for a Mom Blog.  Now I cannot wait until I am a mom with a blog, because I am totally using that title.  I even have the header image thought up.  (It's one of my kids holding a glass of wine).

Having stored that idea away for future use, I tried to think of more names.  A few weeks ago when I was walking down the stairwell at work, I saw the sign by the elevator that read "in case of fire, use stairs", and I thought "Now that sounds like the title of a book!"  (Probably written by Kelly (This An't the Lyceum) or Simcha Fisher).  I thought of the title again today wondering if I could use that as a blog title, but alas!  I've realize that it would also make an awesome Mom Blog title, but not a single girl blog title.

Guys I'm claiming this now.  When I'm all grown up with kids, I am having a blog title A Little Bit of Wine and once I get a good sized following I will write a profound, yet humorous book about parenting and spiritual stuff and all that title In Case of Fire, Use Stairs.  Got that?  'k, thanks, bye.

March 2, 2014

Oscars and the end of 7 posts in 7 days!

I did it!  I posted a post every day this week!  The only reason I am not falling asleep in my bed right now is because I am successfully completing Jen from Conversion Diary's 7 Posts in 7 Days.... and because of the Oscars.

Guys, I am such a huge fan of the Oscars.  I love having a TV, I really do.  The Academy Awards is such a classy, fun show and even though I hadn't seen any of the films nominated (other than Frozen) I did find myself cheering for films and of course the actors and actresses in them whom I did know and ended up putting a few movies on my to-watch list.  12 Years a Slave is a definite and Gravity as well, if I can work up the courage for that... gah, getting stranded in space sounds absolutely terrifying.  We'll see.  I really want to watch it, but we'll see.

The best part of the night was Frozen winning Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, and then getting to watch Adella Dazeem, I mean, Idina Menzel perform "Let it Go".  I didn't catch Travolta's slip up until friends fumed over it on Facebook because I was too busy screaming in excitement.

Also, this selfie right here.

Best part was when Ellen said "Okay, it's up on Twitter now!" and Meryl exclaimed "I've never sent a Tweet before!"  So adorable.  Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how much Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep enjoyed the pizza that Ellen ordered?

March 1, 2014

What I'm Into - February 2014

Alright folks! It's the first day of March and that means it's time for another round of...

We are choosing to ignore the fact that I got the months confused and put March on this photo and I'm too lazy to re-upload it to PicMonkey and do it over.

What I'm Reading

  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHH.  I already wrote a book review of this so I won't spend more time crying and screaming here.  I'll just say if you haven't read this series and you're up for a good heartbreak - go get it. Now.
  • Under the Covers and Between the Sheets.  I've not finished this one yet, but it's proving to be an amusing collection of anecdotes and fun facts about authors and written works.  Best thing I've ever bought for $5.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This was a very interesting story that I alas did not finish.  I've been very slow at reading lately due to a lack of time, so I renewed it three times and then it finally had to go back to the library.  It's a good story, set in World War II and narrated from the point of view of Death whom I can't help but imagine as Benedict Cumberbatch, and very unique in it's writing style.  I am looking forward to seeing the movie sometime... should be good.

What I'm Watching

  • The Olympics!  This year was the first year that we've had any sort of television reception since I was seven, and so the first time that we've ever watched the Olympics (aside from the event here or there that we managed to catch at a friend's or relative's house). Figure skating was the family favorite, followed by snowboarding and skiing.
  • Downton Abbey fell by the wayside during Olympics season, so I've missed the last few episodes.  Friends of our somehow have the DVD already (purchased it from England?) and we petitioned to be next in line to borrow it from them so we can catch up.
  • I missed the first two episodes of the season already, but I am super excited to be able to watch The Voice on NBC!  I watched a season online (season 5, I think?  The first one with Shakira) and I loved it.  It's such a fun show, Blake, Adam and Shakira are awesome (Usher is kind of... just there), and I love the music and the performances that these people come up with.  

What I've Been Up To Lately

  • February was a busy month.  We finished up season two of basketball for Brother #1 and season one of basketball for Sister #4.  Brother #1 won two games this season - very exciting.  It was so frustrating last year to go through the whole season never winning, and most of this season without winning either.  Sister #4 didn't win any games until the very last one, which ended up being a mixed feeling as the team they played against only had four players show up, so one of Sister #4's teammates graciously went over to play for their team (and did a great job for a ten year old switching sides).  Still, it was good to see them so excited when they won.
  • For the last twelve or thirteen years, our homeschooling group has hosted an annual Daddy-Daughter Ball.  The past few years have been a "SnowBall" theme in January, but with a late start to Lent this year we were able to switch things up and have a Sweetheart Ball!  (Though a snowstorm nearly buried our plans).  Seeing as I'm in school for Meeting and Special Event Planning I offered to help out with the planning and organizing to get in some experience, and ended up in charge of the beverages. It was a little challenging to calculate just how much we would need, nerve wracking as I worried that I wouldn't by enough and a little heart stopping when I saw the price.  I'm fairly good at shopping cheap though, so comparatively speaking it wasn't that bad - I just don't like spending more than $35 at a time.  It all worked out great and the drink bar with the mixed fruit juice and soda cocktails that I created was a hit!
  • We've moved on from Microsoft Word to Excel in my Microsoft Office class and while all the numbers and forumlas in the assignments make my head spin a bit, it's so fascinating what you can do with these programs.  I use spreadsheets a lot at my internship, and I'm looking forward to utilizing some of the handy tricks for sorting and organizing data that I've learned.  Also, my school gave us all free downloads of Office 365 -sweet!

What I'm Following (Blogs and Other Interesting Links Around the Web)

What I'm Looking Forward To

  • SPRING!  Can we please, please, please have warmer weather now?  At this point I will gladly accept temperatures in the 30s and 40s. There have been far, far too many weeks of 25 degrees and below.  
  • My birthday - coming up in just a few weeks!  I am going to be Twenty-two.  Twenty-two guys!  That sounds so old... oh, and for Facebook friends reading this, if anyone even THINKS of posting Taylor Swift on my wall - I may be reconsidering our friendship.  And writing my own song about being a mature twenty-two year old who isn't going out partying wildly and wanting to fall in love with random strangers and hook up ("We won't be sleeping. It feels like one of those nights,You look like bad news.I gotta have you, I gotta have you") and being irresponsible. *end mini rant*.  But yes! My birthday!
  • And tonight - my sisters birthday!  Sister #1 is turning 20 tomorrow, which makes me feel even older.  Agh.  Tonight a few of my cousins' and I are taking her out for dinner - can't wait!

What I'm Laughing About