January 30, 2015

Hurray for Friday!

1.  Well, I didn't win the Sheenazing Award - this year at least!  But Eunice and Becca over at Faith & Peanut Butter did, and they are a pretty amazing little blog, and totally deserved it.  So go on over and check them out, and thank you so much to anyone who voted for me.  Hopefully I'll be in the running again next year!

2. I finally finished reading Sister R's book... which means a review is coming!  Sometime... soonish.... I am admittedly not the best at writing good reviews, so I'll probably procrastinate until she bugs me enough.  But for now, I will say that I think she did a great job, and I am very proud of my little sister!

3. Speaking of little sisters, I realized today that my youngest sister, Sis MR is only four inches shorter than me.  How, and when, did that happen?  Little sisters aren't supposed to grow up...

4. In my professional development class, we started talking about goals and where we want to go in our lives, and ended up creating vision boards as a homework assignment.  I elected to do mine on Pinterest because, duh, much less work than printing out pictures and taping them to a poster board that would probably end up in the corner of my basement and then ruined next time we got a lot of rain and the basement flooded. Anyhow.  It was a fun project, and made me think about where exactly I want to go with my life, what is important to me, and what I want to do and accomplish.  You can take a look if you'd like!
Follow Amanda's board Vision Board on Pinterest.

5,  I just found a recipe for 5-Minute Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and decided to try it out. I used mixed berries for mine, and then sprinkled it with coconut... it's pretty good!

Happy Friday!

January 27, 2015

The Beautiful Power of Social Media

By now I am sure most people - especially if you have a Facebook account - have encountered one or two of the posts from the page Humans of New York.  My first exposure to it was through friends either liking or sharing the wonderful portraits and stories shared by the pages creator, Brandon. Eventually I decided to follow the page myself, because it is one of the few pages whose posts I am always interested in and don't just scroll past. (Sorry to all the other pages I follow..)

I only discovered him a few months ago, but Brandon has been photographing the people of New York since 2010.  He is very talented, and the stories and interviews that he shares along with the portraits are fascinating and often quite profound.

One week ago, Brandon photographed a boy named Vidal.

Vidal comes from a part of New York City called Brownsville, a very dangerous, rough and difficult neighborhood to grow up in.

A few days later, Brandon ended up meeting Vidal's principal Ms. Lopez... and that's when things got amazing.

You see, after that first meeting with Ms. Lopez, she and Brandon brainstormed an idea to take the kids in the school to Harvard.  They wanted to give these kids a chance to see what was outside of the rough world they were growing up in, and to know that they had just as much of a shot at a good future as anyone else did.

Brandon shared the fundraiser the school started to make this idea a reality... and in four days, they raised over $700,000.  According to Brandon, that's enough for ten years worth of trips to Harvard and summer camps for all of the children at the school so that they could have a safe place to go when school wasn't in session to do activities, play and be kids.

From this point on, any more funds collected over the $700,000 is going to be set aside to start funding a scholarship program for graduates of the school.  They've decided to call it the Vidal Scholarship, and Vidal is going to be the first one to receive it.

This folks, is the true, beautiful power that social media has. In just four days, the lives of all these kids at this elementary school have been completely turned around and they and the children who come after them have been giving a world of hope. This is what we should be using the internet and social media for.

People did all this in just four days.  Can you imagine what else we might be able to do?

Visit Here to Donate to Motts Elementary School

January 24, 2015

Has It Really Been Seven Years?

The number seven is a fairly significant one in my family.  Both parents have birthdays on the seventh of their respective months, they were engaged and married both on the seventh, they have seven kids and Bro A, the seventh child was also born on the seventh.  Naturally then, I consider the seventh anniversary of anything to be of equal significance to a first or fifth or tenth or any of the other commonly celebrated anniversaries.

Seven years ago today....  a 15 year old young girl with the screen name of "Lady Rose" sent a private message to a 16 year old boy with the name of "Master Xavier" on the Fairy Tale Novels Fan Forum. Lady Rose had been talking with a friend of Master Xavier's who was also on the forum, and this friend had suggested that she should talk to Master Xavier as they shared a similar interest in the history of the Civil War.

She did just that, and soon found out that Master Xavier had been thinking of sending her a message as well.  The rest, as they say, is history.

I am sure, of course, that you figured out that I was Lady Rose, and My Knight was Master Xavier.  I can hardly believe that it has been seven years since we first met, and we so quickly became great friends that I can barely remember what my life was like before I knew him.  

Looking back, we were so young then... being friends with a boy was very brand new territory for me and involved more than one talk with my mom and an older friend of mine about how I needed to tone down on the flirting I didn't realize I was doing.  He never thought I was flirting with him though, and just laughed every time I got on chat and sent another "Okay... I am soooo sorry for flirting with you agaiiinnn."  

When we shared that first exchange, we certainly had no idea that one day we would end up as much more than merely friends.  When we did start dating, a lot of people claimed to have seen this coming for ages, and I suppose I believe some of those claims... I know that for a good seven months prior to then, I had certainly been hoping and praying that we would end up together.  But back then, no, I had no clue just who the boy I was talking to would turn out to be.

Life is a wonderful adventure that way.

January 23, 2015

Once Again, It Is Finally Friday

Well this weekly blogging thing fell by the wayside.... I blame finals, and Christmas and that thing otherwise known as life.

1. I realized I never actually made the official "announcement" that I cut off my hair.

I had debated the decision for a couple of months, then finally I got so frustrated with it that I made the appointment before I could change my mind again.  I'm still figuring out how to style it satisfactorily (it really likes to bend out in weird places after I've been sleeping!) but I like it.  I may end up growing it out just a smidge longer, and then we'll see how long it stays this way.  i have a tendency to go longer in the winter and grow it out over the summer then go shorter again in the winter.

2.  We've been back and forth with snow and slightly less snow and up and down with temperatures this month.  I think I'm in the minority when I say that I like having snow all winter long, and if it's going to be cold then I want snow darnitanyhow.  I honestly don't mind driving it as long as I don't get stuck on the highway with people who forgot how to drive because they saw a snowflake, and I don't mind walking through it.  I would much rather have snow covering the ground than dead grass!  I don't get the people who are excited when it all melts mid-January.

3. This is adorable, and I need it.
Loch Ness Ladle

4. I was semi-waiting to mention that my sister wrote a book until I had finished reading it and could write her a full review, but I'm going to go ahead and say it now... my sister wrote a book!!!  She wrote it over a year ago, and this past year has been working with Jansina and Rivershore Books on editing and publishing it.  I have to say, I am very proud of her even if she does make me feel like a failure at life.  (Joking!)  What I've read so far is very good, and I encourage you all to help out a budding writer and buy her book from Amazon.

5. New Years Resolutions really aren't my thing, but my word for this year is "Gratitude" and I'm thinking that working on being more grateful is a good goal to have.  In my Professional Development class in school, we've been talking about setting goals and working on creating vision boards which I think is a great idea.  Putting some thought into the changes I want to see and the places I want to end up in my life is excellent food for thought, and it has already helped start to motivate me to work on some things.... like exercising again, eating better and losing weight.  

6. And don't forget to vote in the Sheenazing Awards... there are a few more days left!

Happy Friday!

January 22, 2015

It's Been Long Enough

It has been three years since the last time I went on the March for Life, and I hope that I never have to go again.

I pray that I will never again have the opportunity to drive out to D.C. and spend the day with upwards of 600,000 marching the streets in a peaceful protest of abortion.

After this year, I don't want to see another Facebook status about getting on a bus to go to the March or new hashtags to spread the message.

I don't want see anyone share any more photos of the thousands and thousands of people that the media so conveniently ignores.

Because hasn't this gone on long enough?

Next year, I hope I can participate and celebrate the Victory for Life March.

I pray that I can drive out to D.C. and stand on the streets of Washington D.C. with nearly a million people as we sing and praise God for the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

I want to see my Facebook newsfeed flooded with #Victory4Life and excited postings about celebrating the end of too many years of legal abortion.

And maybe even the media will find that there are too many joyful people too ignore and that there are simply no trivial news stories to give attention to instead.

Because death has gone on long enough.  It is time for Life.

January 19, 2015

...Do You Think I'm Special?

Okay, so I'll admit.... that title there was designed to be a bit of a "click-bait" so people would click on it with thoughts of "Amanda! Of course you are special!" and then come here.

So since you already have those thoughts in mind, please, hold on to them a little while longer while I share the good news.  Yes, I am an:

Enough of you thought that I deserved to be in the "Best Under-Appreciated Blog" category of the annual Sheenazing Awards, so thank you very much!  I have a lot of competition, so now, if I may be so bold... please vote for me?

The Sheenazing Blogger Awards get their name from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. They are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere and honor Venerable Sheen.

You can go on and browse the list of nominees at A Knotted Life HERE and then once you've done that you can go and VOTE HERE.  (And while you are at it, you should totally vote for Grace @ My Spare Oom for Most Inspiring Blog, Iris @ The Starving Inspired for Best Vlogger and Elena @ Elenatintil for Best Blog by a Non-Papist, because these beautiful ladies all deserve to win!)

Don't forget to vote!

January 15, 2015

Photoshoots in the Snow? But of Course!

Going out in the snow and doing a photoshoot - without any form of scarves or hats or coats of course - has become a bit of a tradition for my sisters and I.  There is something lovely and enchanting about the portaits captured when you venture out into the cold and are surrounded by white.

preparing for a Jane Austen tea

It has been in the last three years or so that we've really gotten into doing photoshoots - I believe that has come with better cameras and increased photography skills.  many of my photoshoots when I was younger were  for Weeks in Feminine Dress, now we all do them just for the fun of it.

 stepping into Narnia

For the most part, they take place in our yard.  We have a beautiful yard with trees, a pond out back and two burms out in front that work great as replacements for hills... since, you know we are in Illinois and apparently we don't have legitimate hills.

we were snow princesses before Frozen made it cool

As cold as it may get outside (the coldest has been 19 degrees, I think), our photoshoots are always a lot of fun and end up being a fun source of sister bonding time.

the cold never bothered us anyways. (and yes, I have dubbed that my "Elsa" sweater)

I know that many people think that we are quite insane, and I suppose it is a miracle that no one has gotten sick yet.  The secret is that we all wear coats and gloves up until a split second before it is our turn to pose, then we toss them to the side, get a few shots in then throw our coats back on and warm up while someone else takes a turn.

19 degree weather doesn't bother us... we're too fabulous for that.

It is a tradition that I hope we will continue long after we've grown up and moved out, and that we pass along to our kids.  We've already been successful in dragging Bro T. into it this year...

we <3 plaid

Snow, siblings and great times... who cares if it is cold out?

January 14, 2015

Sheenazing! (Bless you!)

Welcome to 2015!  Can you believe we are already two weeks into the year? (or is it three? I'm too lazy to check the calendar...)

First of all, this is slightly belated, but thank you to all of you who are following my blog!  I reached 40 followers a few weeks ago, and it was the highlight of my day.  Becoming a blogger with lots of followers has never been the reason why I write - but it is nice to know that there is a small handful out there that enjoy stopping by and visiting me!

With that being said.... it's time for the annual Sheenazing Award Nominations!

I've voted in the past, but never bothered trying to get myself nominated because really, the only category I qualify for is the Best Under-Appreciated Blog category.  ;-)  Which is still the only category I think I qualify for, haha... which the point I am trying to get at is that I would love, love, love you all forever if you thought about maybe nominating me!  Now of course, if you do indeed think I qualify for Funniest Blog or Best Looking Blog or Miss Congeniality, well who am I to argue with you?  Bonnie at A Knotted Life has all the rules and you have until Thursday (January 15) to nominate me and all your other favorite bloggers!