Monday, October 29, 2012

Things I Learned From The Allume Conference

 I am home from spending a few days at the Allume Conference.  I am past all the fears I had previously about what to wear, who will I talk to, and is it worth my time to be away this long from my family.  After all, blogging for me isn't about being a writer.  I am the farthest thing from a writer.  However, I do blog for a reason and now I know that reason is good enough.

I'd like to lay out for you the expectations I had and how they weren't least not in my way, but in God's way and how he intended me to experience it.

 Expectation One: 

 Learn how to increase my blog's pageviews and followers.

I did not learn the answer to this, but I did learn it is NOT important. Trina Holden spoke about identifying the "why" of my blog.  Why am I doing this?  What I had to do was ask myself why I started blogging and if I am doing what I set out to do. 

She mentioned that success is about impact, not numbers.  She asked us to trace our hand and write on each finger those followers who read your blog.  That is who I should be speaking to.  In my case, the fingers went to my five children. My joyful mysteries....the reason for my blogging.

Expectation Two:

Learn how to layout my homepage and grab the attention of strangers who happen upon my blog.

I still have no clue on how to do this and this blog may be in this plain, free background format forever.  But if I ever do figure it out, I learned tools from Tsh Oxenreider to help me know just what I want it to look like.  In her session Building A Successful Platform she spoke about having a Purpose Statement; something that will help readers identify what I believe.  She asked us to write three words or sentences  to describe the purpose of our blogThis is something that could be recorded in our "About" page. (I need to get me one of those.)

She asked what we can do to make our blog better.  In my case, I can learn how to use my camera.  I know for myself and the blogs I read, pictures really grab me and keep me interested.  Sometimes I feel like my pictures are so poorly done, even my own children don't look cute to me!

Expectation Three:  

Learn how to write more like a writer.

There was no class on this.  You either have that gift or you don't.  I'm one of the latter and that is okay.  Many of the speakers spoke of the importance of being yourself, sounding like yourself, being honest, write about what you're "jazzed" about, and most importantly, to pray to have the wisdom to write what God is calling you to write, no matter what that is.  

But I still wish there was a session on the right times to use commas. 

Expectation 4:  

Learn how to take better pictures.

I did walk out of that session knowing more, but I have a long way to go.  Darcy Milder gave us some simple instructions to get us started and made the task seem a little less daunting. My take away from that was there is a plethora of good information in my camera manual and practice will go a long way.  I will also be checking out her series 31 Days To A Better Photo.

Expectation 5: 

Connect with other Catholic Moms.

This did not happen.  And that's okay.  I did meet many women who I enjoyed speaking with and getting to know, to the extent that it makes me sad we live far away from each other and our paths will probably only pass in the blogging world. 

For me, learning from others is easy. I enjoy people.  It can shed light on a lot, whether it was something I've been in the dark about, or making stronger something I already knew.  

For instance, I did not know that many people do not consider Catholics as Christians.  Say what?  I've never heard that before.  I suppose I have lived in my Catholic bubble since I was a baby. So that was an eye opening and somewhat hurtful revelation for me.

On the flip side of that, I felt that there was something lacking while I was there.  Don't get me wrong on this.  Those that organized this event spent countless hours to bring the light of Christ to so many and they succeeded.  I am only talking about myself here.  Many times I felt that I was on a retreat, but for me, a cradle Catholic, so much seemed missing.

As Catholics, we have this gift called Sacraments.  As a child I learned that a sacrament is "an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace."

Grace.  A common theme I heard throughout the weekend.  

As a Catholic, I have a deep source of grace at my fingertips with the sacraments.

I have the saints who teach me how to live a life worthy of God.

I have the Blessed Mother, who intercedes on my behalf.  No one loves her more than her Son, so it's okay for me to love her too.  

And most of all, I have the Eucharist. 

I found myself yearning for all that I know; for my comfort zone.  The conference was great however, and only after a few days of processing can I see all the merits it provided.  Much like life, we have to give up preconceived notions sometimes to truly see what the Lord wants us to learn.

I learned a lot and am truly grateful to those who gave us such an inspiring weekend.

Shine On! 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Last Post.....

 ....before I leave for the Allume Conference that is!  (did I scare you?)

Everyday Happenings mixed with Thankfuls:
*Thankful for Bill.  He's holding down the fort while I'm gone the next couple of days. He's got to deal with my usual "stuff" plus take the kids trick or treating on Friday night. (that's when our township does it).  I'm sad to miss them do that, but I got a taste of Halloween last weekend with my brother Jim's family at.....

*Boo At The Zoo. We had a great time seeing the kids dressed up and hang out with some of their cousins.  Beware-my nephew's costume below is a bit gory.

Mary and Ann

Billy, Tommy, Matt
My nephew Johnny....aka Zipper Head
I did warn you.

My nephew Jimmy, the mad scientist and niece Eileen (in the middle with friends)

Our awesome hosts-brother Jim and sis in law Kathy
Thanks for a fun night!

*80's on 8 on XM radio.  For real.  I am very thankful for this. It makes me happy.  I heard the Pat Benatar song Promises in the Dark last week and I was immediately transported back in time when I would sit in my brother Bob's room with headphones on and listen to him play his drums to that song.  It's a fond memory for me.
Matthew likes Big 80's music too.  In fact, he hums the song Centerfold by the J. Geils Band in the backseat.  Na, na, nana na na, na na na nanana na na na.  Yeah, you know it. (and now you're checking to see if I have the right amount of "na's".

*Speaking of being transported back in time, I heard the hymn Bread That Was Sown the other day at mass.  I don't think I've heard that since 8th grade. When I heard it I was back in grade school in the choir loft practicing hymns for Friday mass with the organist, Mrs. Blankmeyer.  Back then it was a real snooze but at least it got us out of class. I never liked a lot of those hymns.  So much is lost on the young.  So thankful for my Catholic education.  I was lucky to have a great class too.  Here's a big shout out to St. Laurence School- Class of 1984!!!

*Matthew's preschool had their field trip to the pumpkin patch.  We had fun.

And here's a picture to remind you that Christmas is a mere 8 weeks away.  Yikes!

*Thankful for Mom's & Tots and our rosary group meetings. I always love seeing these women walk through my door, especially today.

Top row: Cathy, Katie, Eileen, Margie. Bottom row: Emily, Lauren, Monika
My friend Emily, who is currently going through chemo and is 34 weeks pregnant, surprised us by showing up today.  In her own words, "This cancer thing is putting a real cramp in my social life."  So, we'll  only be seeing her intermittantly over the next few months and being with her today and praying with her was a real gift.  Looking forward to meeting her baby soon as well as.....

*my friend Eileen's baby who was due a week ago!!  You may remember me mentioning here that I was on-call to watch her three year old when she goes into labor.  Well, now that I'm skipping town tomorrow, she's called in the back-up sitters.

*Thankful for simple conversations with Matt, like how his new sneakers make him "run as fast as a ghost." or when he asked me while driving in the morning fog if I had my lights on.

*Thankful to those who read my silly blog.  Really, thanks.  Maybe I'll learn something at Allume and will be able to someday write something that will knock your socks off!  

Friday, October 19, 2012

You Like?

I bought some fabric and thumb tacked it to the inside of the shed windows.  I added some pumpkins, gourds, and flowers and voila'.

Pretty, right?

Considering I could do a post on all my failed attempts at being creative or crafty, I thought this was one for the record books.

We have a busy weekend coming up....Boo at the Zoo with family, laser tag with the Youth Group, and a special 10:30 mass with my two altar servers and our newly installed lector--Dad!  How proud I'll be to see all three of them up on the altar together.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Time To Go Shopping?

When you don't realize you have a hole in your purse with a pen sticking out.....

...your pants will look like this.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


If there was a class called Anxiety 101 I would ace it.

My husband keeps telling me to Let Go and Let God.  He's half joking and half serious.  He's right though.

I have some things on my mind causing me angst.  Little things.  I'm talking inconsequential things. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it.

For instance, I'm "on call" to watch my friend's 3 year old when she goes into labor. She is due to have her baby any day now.  I have been freakishly paranoid I will leave the house without my cell phone and she won't be able to reach me when she needs me and her husband will miss the birth of their child all because of me! 

Also, another dear, well-intentioned friend thought it was a good idea to post my video on her Facebook page for all of our parish friends to see.  Since then, I've had writer's anxiety. (I know, I'm using the term 'writer' loosely.)

And lastly, Allume.  This is the Christian women's blogging conference I am going to next week.  Holy cow!  When you read the bio's of the women going to this, I am totally out of my league. There are published writers, inspirational speakers, business owners, homeschoolers, etc. who are going to this conference.  I am already in awe of them and I haven't even gone yet. I'm also anxious about what I should wear. Will anyone talk to me? Is there audience participation involved?  And if so, where's the nearest Exit?

But as Divine Providence would have it, while writing this post, I remembered the little card I have on my kitchen window sill that faces me while I'm at the sink.

How awesome is that?  My cell phone and I are going to bed now. *wink*

Friday, October 12, 2012

Out Of The Mouth Of....

Mary Kate and Ann.

The other night at the dinner table I was patting myself on the back about what a great job I did in picking a spouse and asked the girls if they agreed.  Of course they did.  They love their dad.

So I asked them, "What will you look for in a husband if you get married someday?"

Without skipping a beat this is what they said:

Mary Kate: "Catholic"

Ann:  RICH!!

Bill and I had a good laugh and agreed neither answer took us by surprise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Birthday Celebrating And Pumpkin Patching

Monday was Bill's birthday.  He was off for the Columbus Day holiday, which was nice.

Morning doughnuts:

Matt's buddies Joseph and Luke celebrated with us.
Later, we headed to our yearly tradition of Pumpkin Patching!  Perfect fun.

We named a couple of the pumpkins we saw.

This was the Darth Maul:
This was the "E.T. Barely Alive":

Here they are with their finds.  Billy traded his in for a bigger one he found on the way back to the tractor.  It weighed 55 lbs.  Heavy, both literally and on the pocketbook!

Yes, I was having a heart attack.
The real me.

Later there was more Happy Birthday festivities....cake and ice cream!

Happy Birthday Bill.  I'm glad you were born.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Will They Remember Of Me?

On this anniversary of the day my Mom died I often think about the life lessons she taught me.  There are so many.  The two that stick out the most are "Never settle" and "Always stay true to yourself."  These have helped me navigate some important decisions in my life and I'm so grateful to her for that.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what my children will remember about me when I'm gone. What important lessons have I taught them?  Are they armed with the tools they'll need to go out and face the world?

I figure the blog is the best way to ensure that they always remember me and what I think is important.  So Billy, Mary Kate, Tommy, Ann, and Matthew, may I present...

Lesson One:  The "Single, Single, Double, Double."  In social situations whenever music is involved, this dance move is key in fitting in.  You can switch it up, add some 1980's era hops or even the current "Dougie" dance move.  Make it your own, but at least you will be armed with the social coolness that I had.

Matt was around to help me make this video.  Notice he's telling me I'm "Looking good."  I know Matt.  I am cool when I do the Single, Single, Double, Double.  And you can be too.  Watch and

Let's see if they paid attention, shall we?

That's very good.

Lesson Two:  Making a fool of yourself on YouTube and/or a blog is totally worth it if it gets someone to laugh.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Everyday Happenings

**Anybody miss me?  This is was one long hiatus from blogging.  It was kind of nice taking a break, even though I know my fans have been waiting with bated breath for me to return. 

**Bill and Billy have a bad case of poison ivy.  I mean, really bad.  Of course one of the treatments for this is Epsom Salt baths, but our only bathtub has a leak and is unusable right now.  Go figure.

**I did some baking over the weekend.  The kids used to say, "Can I have some?"  Now when I bake they say, "Who is that for?" because I've gotten in the habit of not baking for our family but for someone else's family or an event we're going to.  (Kind of like when I clean the stove top Bill will ask, "Who's coming over?")  Kind of sad really.  Anyway, my go-to, delicious, crowd pleaser is Pumpkin Roll.

It was gone almost as fast as.....

** The Wasabi Peas I bought yesterday.  See how much is left?

I am the only one here who likes them. You do the math.

**My parish Moms & Tots group met again to start the fall season indoors.  We even got a special visit from one of our priests who read about Guardian Angels and St. Francis.

Stay tuned for my next post where I share one important lesson all mothers should teach their children.....