Why Do I Write?

It’s 11:45 pm, and I should be asleep right now.

A younger me would have laughed at that sentence. I’m sure an older me will laugh even harder, considering how young I still am. I have a tendency to fall fast asleep with my little one promptly after reading bedtime stories, which usually ends up being somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30 pm.

So why am I writing when it’s way past my bedtime?

Oh, you know, just dealing with some meta questions.

Like why I write. [Read more...]

January Twitterature: Book Reviews in 140 Characters or Less

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Linking up with Anne (with an e!) of Modern Mrs. Darcy for the very first Twitterature Link Up. You can read all about the link up here.

I know we’re supposed to keep it to 140 characters or less, but that is just way too hard. So, here are my books of 2013 (so far) in 140 words or less! [Read more...]

How I stopped being a hipster & finally gave e-books a chance: Part I

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Lately, it seems like everyone has been writing about what books they read in 2012, what they want to read for 2013, and all sorts of other wonderfully bookish topics. I love it!

I’ve been a bookworm since I learned to read, and haven’t stopped since. When I was younger, maybe around 3rd or 4th grade, we used to make trips to the library almost every Saturday. Those trips weren’t nearly frequent enough for me, and I would spend hours making lists of all the books I wanted to check out. I would also pour over the huge city street map we had, planning the best route from our house to the library – on my bike, of course. Although I never had the chance to ride my bike to the library when I was younger (my parents thought a five mile bike ride, which included crossing a highway and two other very busy intersections, wasn’t the best idea for a girl of ten – how terribly unreasonable! ;) ), my love for the library, and all things involving books, was kindled.

Over the years, my life changed drastically, full of ups and downs, but there were always books to come back to. Books to read secretly under my desk during class when I thought I already knew everything the teacher was going to teach. Books to hide under my pillow, pretending to be asleep when my parents checked in on me at 9, only to pull out my book light and stay up for hours reading as soon as they had shut my door. It wasn’t just the stories, although that certainly is the main reason for my book love, but the books themselves were something I held dear. There’s just something so perfectly beautiful about opening a book, maybe well worn with age, maybe so new the pages still stick together. To this day, I am unable to pass by a garage sale without stopping to at least look at the books they might have.

You can imagine my dismay and hostility with the advent of the e-books. There was no way an e-reader, or a Kindle, or a Nook, or what have you, would ever sway my love for a real paper and ink book. No sirree  No e-books for me! I’d rather have a beautifully bound book. Preferably something old, (a first edition? my heart flutters at the thought!) with lots of character, and signs of wear from being read and re-read. I may have been a bit of a hipster about it, actually. I liked books before they were electronic.  [Read more...]

Learning How to Celebrate Advent

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For as long as I can remember, my family has been Catholic. My dad was raised Catholic, and my mom converted with her parents when she was in high school. However, it wasn’t until I started 1st grade in a Catholic school that they really recommitted themselves to the faith. As our family has grown and changed, so have our Advent traditions. It seems each year we celebrate Advent in just a slightly different way. Keeping traditions with seven kids running around, especially when those kids are young, can be difficult. This year, we’re all old enough to understand the significance of celebrating Advent, and we want to start some new traditions that will really make this season more meaningful.

[Read more...]

A Little Update

Things have been moving quickly around here. Today was a lovely day of rest, but I don’t see too many others in the near future.

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Breaking Rules as He Flies

My son climbs up slides, and I’m OK with that.slide

I’m not the playground parent with the half-hearted, “Oh honey, um, please don’t climb…”

I’m not the playground parent who goes zero to 60 in 3 seconds with a shrill, “Get down from there right now! Why? Because I said so! That’s why!”

I’m the parent that sees her son struggling to climb up a slide and says, “Take your shoes off. Bare feet are better for climbing.”

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t always this way.

I grew into my role as a barefoot mom over time, and it wasn’t easy. I was a hoverer like no other when my son was little. Ok, I was a hoverer when he could actually tell me to sit on the bench because this was a boys’ slide. (Thank goodness that only happened once – my heart!)

But this summer, something changed. As my toddler became a preschooler, I realized that kids are actually quite durable. You’d think I would’ve learned this, being a kid myself not too long ago, and seeing my younger siblings grow up with nary a broken bone, despite some of the crazy things they do.

I did, and I didn’t  I laughed at my husband when he asked if my siblings were going to get hurt with all their roughhousing, then proceeded to pick my little brother up and slam him on the couch, to his giggling approval. But ask me to let my son do that? Oh no, no way. That’s too dangerous for my son.

 

Sometimes you’re so close that you can’t see the big picture.

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Priorities

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Sometimes, you need to realize where your priorities lie. What the most important things in your life are and where you should be spending your time.

Sometimes, we might not always be happy with those priorities. I, for one, would much rather relax with Netflix or a good book at night, rather than do the laundry or dishes. But it doesn’t really matter what I want. As a mother, you realize that, regardless of your personal wants, taking care of your family is always one of your highest priorities.

“Your religion, your family, and the Green Bay Packers will be your priorities as long as you are here! And in that order!” – Vince Lombardi

Now you may or may not agree on that last part, but you have to give the man some credit for getting the first two right.

For me, school comes right after family. It’s always been this way. My family comes first, but school is close behind. Despite my personal want to write daily and have a beautiful blog, it can only happen when I first take care of God, my family, and my schoolwork.

I just finished up an intense two weeks of midterm papers, tests, and assignments. While that big push is over, I know that November won’t slow down much. December is out of the question. But I’m OK with that. I like my busy life.

I’m looking forward to keeping up with posting. I would say “catching up”, but I really don’t feel like having a mentality where I need to compensate for the two weeks I didn’t write. I’ve got enough going on, so I think I’ll just start fresh.

I’ve got some great ideas brewing, and I can’t wait to share them. Just keep me in your thoughts and prayers, that I keep my priorities in order, and accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

***

What are your priorities? Do you ever have trouble keeping them straight? Packers or Vikings or Other?

 

It’s Not Easy

 

It’s not easy to explain it to him.

It’s not easy for him to understand.

Sometimes, even I don’t understand.

Then I remind myself, it’s all for him.

 

The decision to get up every morning, sometimes leaving before he’s awake, it’s all for him

Making a schedule that allows me to go to school, work two jobs, keep my body healthy with exercise, my soul healthy with prayer, and my grades healthy with studying, even if it means sometimes I’m coming home after he’s asleep, it’s all for him.

 

Being a full-time student is non-negotiable. Working is non-negotiable. But I’m also a mom. Where does that fit in? Sometimes, I just don’t see how it does.

Sometimes, I feel like this lifestyle was designed to tear my heart in two. Make me doubt my decisions.

Make me question my worth as a mother.

Am I doing the right thing? Is this really what’s best?

 

When I think about it one day at a time, sometimes, it’s just not. How can I justify letting someone else watch him, letting someone else take care of my son? Surely, homework and studying are not as important as spending every minute with him.

 

But sometimes, it is.

 

I’m going to school to earn a degree that will help me advance in life. That advancement will help me support our family. I’m working to help support us in the present. Toys, clothes, and preschool fees aren’t cheap. 

Thinking about it as just another chapter, and hopefully a short one, helps me to see what this is really all about. Why I’m really doing these things that I feel like I can’t justify.

 

It’s not easy to tell him I’m leaving when he’s upset and “Why don’t you want to stay with me, mommy?”

It’s not easy, but it’s something I need to do.

I focus on the quality of our time, not the quantity. We both love our time together, and we cherish it.

Someday, I hope he’ll understand why I couldn’t always be there.

 

What have I gotten myself into?

This past spring, I applied to an Early Admission Program at my first choice law school.

Writing four drafts of my personal statement, and agonizing over word choice and sentence structure. Is this word too big? Does it sound like I’m showing off? Did I use the word ‘shaped’ too much? What about ‘morals’? Is this sounding repetitive? Does this have a good flow? It just doesn’t sound right. It paid off.

The actual interview came. I had previously bought a nice black suit for an alumni mentor banquet I attended, but it was about 90°F so I paired the jacket with a pencil skirt instead. I looked good, but law school isn’t just about looks. (Although I was recently informed that I would be surprised by just how much the field does depend on appearances) Sean drove me to the campus in Minneapolis. I told him to park on a side street because we were 30 minutes early and I would much rather sit and be nervous in my own car for half of an hour than sit and be nervous in the admissions office for an hour. (Sitting in an admissions office makes time slow down by a factor of 2, duh) Then I started freaking out. Just a little. Like maybe I can call and say I’m sick which wouldn’t really be an understatement because I’m pretty sure I’m going to vomit and do you think they’ll make exceptions and just do like texting interviews? Because then I wouldn’t freak out as much and I would be able to answer their questions without them seeing what a nervous wreck I looked like. Thank goodness Sean calmed me down enough to get me to walk in the door.

Sitting in the admissions office, realizing that my hands were getting clammy, and I still had another 10 minutes to go. Then the interview before mine went over time. Oh my goodness – they must really like whoever is in there. Ugh how am I supposed to follow someone they went over time with? Realizing I was going to need to shake hands. Frantically wiping them on my skirt, as nonchalantly as possible, in case they happened to walk out of the office and see me rubbing my legs like I was freezing in the middle of summer.

Then I shook all the negative thoughts from my head, walked into the office, and nailed it. Practising my ‘Why do you want to go to law school?’ answer only took me so far,  but it gave me the confident start I needed to loosen up a bit and just be myself. I left the interview felling awesome.

2 weeks later, and a letter comes in the mail. A huge, full letter size mailer. They probably wouldn’t waste such a big envelope to mail a rejection, right? Happily, I was right. Inside, I found a letter admitting me to law school, along with awarding me an 80% tuition scholarship.

At this point, my mom says something like, “You can say I-told-you-so to anyone who doubted you, even do a dance if you want!” But that’s just not me. Besides, this was just getting in to law school – the real challenge isn’t until I actually start!

We live in my parents’ basement

We live in my parents’ basement, and it’s awesome.

Also, it saves us mad amounts of cash.

Also, we technically don’t live in the basement. More like a normal-sized bedroom on the same floor as everyone else, but that doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

Also, we love our current arrangement, but we’re hoping for a little more space to ourselves when we buy a home together.

 

Did you catch that last part? Sean & I are planning on buying a home together. With my parents. In four years. After I finish law school, and Sean finishes his electrician’s apprenticeship.

Also, none of us have brain tumors or any other medical condition that would cause us to make any serious lapses in judgment. Pretty sure. Also, I’m not counting ADHD.

So why would four, probably sane adults want to live together with their respective children? Why wouldn’t Sean & I want a house of our own? Far away, but not too far, from that of our parents? Why would my parents want their adult daughter, son-in-law, and grandson to live with them, instead of just visiting on the weekends or holidays like normal people?

Well, we like each other.

Of course, there are more complex reasons than that (don’t worry, I’m getting there!), but when it comes right down to it, we like each other, we like our family’s company, and we want our son to grow up with his aunts and uncles and grandparents as a close and intimate part of his life. Sure, at the beginning, I lived at home out of necessity, but now, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

When I first gave birth to Aiden, I was still a senior in high school. Living at home was the only choice, really. That fall, I started college at a university that was only two miles from my parents’ house. I figured a 7 month old baby would be a real buzz kill in the dorms, so I lived at home (although I did technically have a dorm on campus, as part of a generous financial aid package, I would go there between classes, but never stayed overnight). When Sean and I got married this past June, all our relatives assumed we would move out into our own apartment (Sean had been living with my family for almost a year and a half, by then), and we surprised them all by saying we would continue living with my family, even after getting married. All those pretty dishes, champagne glasses, and linens are stored away at Sean’s parents’ house.

Then came the kicker – when we told people that we really weren’t planning on moving out anytime soon [read: ever]. We got weird looks. We got rude comments. We even got people who thought we were joking. No, seriously, we just want to mooch off my parents for life – no joke! (Ok, maybe the mooch part was a little joke – we do help out financially and with chores as much as we can).

The thing is, we like living as an extended family. We like having someone to fall back on when both Sean and I are working or in school, without having to rely on outside daycare or babysitters. Same goes for my parents. With John and Clare currently playing five sports between the two of them this fall (I know!), you wouldn’t believe how useful it is to have an extra set of ‘parents’ on hand. Aiden is only five years younger than my little brother, John, and [most days] they are the best of friends. I just can’t see living apart from my family and losing that kind of closeness. None of us do.

I love my extended family, but up until recently, I seriously thought we were the only ones. Well, probably not the only ones, but few and far between. Then I was reading the textbook for my Family Communications class (My chemist father probably died a little on the inside when I told him I was taking that – “Med school, Hannah, you could still do it if you really wanted to!”) and it was describing all sorts of different family systems. Of course, the one that struck me was the extended family. But here’s the real kicker: according to the 2005 census, 1 in 7 whites, 1 in 3 African Americans, 4 in 5 Asian Americans, and over 19 in 20 Native Americans were identified as part of extended families. Who knew?

So here’s to living in your parents’ basement/normal-sized guest bedroom – and loving it!