Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Small Step...

Today I completed a small step in my graduate student life.  I submitted my comprehensive exam topics for final approval.  Maybe I should not celebrate until they receive the long awaited stamp, but after four years of graduate school, each little step of the final exam process seems to deserve a bit of celebration.

You probably do not doubt me and could live without the gruesome details of this exam, but for those that are curious as to why this is a big deal, let me share my little triumph.

I started graduate school in the summer of 2009.  Thanks to the generosity of a program offered by my diocese and the University of Notre Dame, I have been able to keep my full time job while studying for my MA in Theology.  The past four summers I have attended a three week summer session taking two graduate classes.  These summer classes are brutal.  After almost six hours of being in a classroom you have just enough time to prepare a quick meal and hit the books to be prepared for the next day in classes.  Just to wallow in self pity a bit more can I mention the lack of AC and record breaking temperatures each summer?  I would have never thought that six fans in one room could provide such minimal relief.

Living in a tent would have been nicer than last summer's weather.

During the school year I would take one class a semester.  These classes would meet three times a semester, cramming a month of lectures into a weekend.  In between classes there would be reading and assignments and more readings to do.

Needless to say, I was overjoyed when classes were over.  Until the reality of  comprehensive exam prep set in.  Our comprehensive exam has a written and oral component and is tailored to each student.  How is it tailored to each student?  Well, you pick your own topic areas and create bibliographies for each.  Once my topics and bibliographies are approved, a panel of three professors is formed.  They each write a couple questions based on my topics and bibliographies and the test facilitator picks which ones will be on my written exam.  At the end of July I will have a written test on these questions and then a few days later, I will sit before those same professors for an oral test based on what I wrote, the topics and bibliographies.  If I could write a paper right now, I would so do it!

Picking five topic areas within theology that I am interested in was not necessarily the most difficult part of the process.  The most challenging thing for me was picking the books that I would study for each topic.  The knowledge that I would be spending a good deal of time with my nose between these blessed pages and once it was approved I was stuck, is a little overwhelming.  Doubts of picking the wrong book or hating something that I originally loved filled my head.  In the end I have twenty books and five articles that I get to learn in intimate detail.  Some of them I have read before, a few I never knew existed until this search began.  I know one thing for sure we will be BFs by the end of this process- be it best friends or best "frenemies" only time will tell.

The stack.

It would be wrong to pretend like I have gone through this process alone.  I have been very much accompanied throughout it all.  My classmates are some of the nicest people.  My co-workers always ask about how thins are going and offer support in anyway they can.  My dear friend, classmate, and summer school roommate has been there through all the ups and downs and makes studying as enjoyable as it could possibly be (I may be weird, but I find strange enjoyment in making study guides).  My friends have understood when I disappear in order to focus on classes and remind me not to be so stressed.  My boyfriend has been so supportive and encouraged me every single time I threaten to throw in the towel.  And my family, words cannot describe how supportive they have been.  The intensity of the studies have often turned me into a complete mess going from being a bear to a puddle of tears faster than light.  I hope during this last sprint to the finish I can do better and remain present to the gift of an education I am receiving as well as the love and support of those closest to me.  Thank you.

But for now, I am going to relish in the moment of this one small step closer to the finish line.


Monday, May 27, 2013

In Remembrance

Today we remember the many lives that have been lost to keep this country safe and free. And I am reminded how very blessed I am to spend Memorial Day with my special veteran of the United States Army.

My grandfather served in France during World War II. It's hard to imagine the soft loving hands now wrinkled and formed by arthritis that I have been blessed to hold once carrying arms, driving the colonel's jeep in treacherous circumstances and completing the unwanted task of recording the names of the fallen.  

Today he remembers in a special way.  He never says a word, but I know deep in his heart he holds the memory of each name he typed as well as the unknown soldiers. As each year goes by and I face the horrible reality that one day  those hands will no longer hold mine, I become more grateful for the gift of life that the fallen have given me. They did not return so that my grandfather could and that I would have a home.  

Thank you to all the men and women serving in the armed forces and their families for their sacrifices for our country. 

To those that have made the ultimate sacrifice: I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Sister's Wedding

Today we bid a fond farewell to the last of our family in town for my sister's wedding.  This past week has been filled to the brim with activity.  Here's a brief phone capturing of the joyful event.

Making biscotti.  At one point my sister had two mixers going.
A sampling of the 360+ biscotti.
It was so nice to see my cousin! 
Courtesy of The Busy Budgeting Mama
Pretty programs
Ready to go
The brother all duded up for the limo ride.
The photographer in her never stops.
Our flowers were gorgeous!
Courtesy of The Busy Budgeting Mama
I love our dresses!  Now all I need is a formal event to go to.
The family :)
The reception was at the courthouse.
He wasn't sure how her dance shoes strapped.
We had a very animated 'discussion' about whether silverware should be placed in the dishwasher
up or down.
It's up, just in case you were wondering.
Visit The Busy Budgeting Mama FB page for the poll.
I love my family.
Courtesy of The Busy Budgeting Mama
I caught the bouquet and somehow lost it during the bustle of cleaning.
Someone sweet bought me a replacement.

Congratulations Joanna and John!






Wednesday, May 15, 2013

By Way of an Apology

Please forgive the lack of consistent posting that will continue until June.  May has been rather busy.  Two words and I think you will understand the current state my life is in: Wedding Season.

Most definitely wedding season.  The 2012 season never really ended for me.  Since last May, eleven wedding invitations have graced my mail box.  A year later and we’re almost to the conclusion of this batch of weddings of family and dear friends.  This weekend and next I am in two weddings, my sister’s and one of my best friend’s.  Needless to say, the past few weeks and the next are packed to the brim with all the last minute preparations and do not leave much time for writing.  So until I recuperate from the brunches, rehearsals, mani-pedis, bouquets, showers and the dancing ;), please enjoy the mini-vacation from a more consistent and verbose yours truly.

Now on to the party favors! 

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five Favorites: Mother's Day Edition Volume 5

Every woman, in a way, is a mother some through birth and others through caring.  So here are my five favorite finds inspired by the upcoming holiday that are particularly lovely and feminine.

1.  My mother pointed this necklace out to me when we were shopping a couple weeks ago.  I have wanted to take it home with me ever since.  I love the elegance of the white and gold.  Can you imagine the impact with a white suit?  Le sigh.

2.  As children my father would wake us up early, we would cook up a meal for a queen, and present it to my mother in bed upon a white wicker tray.  The bamboo of this breakfast in bed tray gives it a modern twist.

3.  I love this idea of turning a loved one's signature into a unique piece of jewelry.

4.  This is a wonderful idea of how to honor the women in your life that mother in a different way.  Putting an attribute of the special lady on the flower stem reminds me of this quote from the film Harvey, "You know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful."

5.  The quote on the cover of this notebook makes it a perfect gift for an inspiring woman: "She makes the room brighter.  She leaves a little sparkle whereever she goes."

 Thanks for hosting again, Grace and enjoy your family time, Hallie!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Food for Thought

I used to watch America's Next Top Model. 

I had to stop. 

I did not care for the "reality" bit of the show, I just wanted to see the clothes, make-up, hair, the final photographs, and, of course, who would be sent home.  Instead of being refreshed and inspired from the time in leisure, I would come away tired and down on myself.  I was not pretty enough, sophisticated enough, creative enough, interesting enough...I was not enough to be loved. One day when I was particularly down on myself, my mom suggested that I stop watching.  I did.  All my insecurities were not solved, but I noticed that my mood improved a bit and it became easier to recognize true beauty.

A good friend pointed me to this blog post by former ANTM contestant, Leah Darrow because it reminded her of the Questions of the Heart on beauty posts.  Leah does a great job explaining the importance of modesty.  I love how she talks about every woman's desire to be beautiful, loved, and to do something great with their life.  Looking back these were exactly the things that I was despairing of while watching this reality show.

Check out Leah's post.  There's a lot of meat in it to ponder.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 3, 2013

7 Quick Takes Volume 11

1.  I was abnormally tired during last week's little cold.  I was so tired I missed Quick Takes and spent a good deal of time in bed.  I think I slept 14 hours on Sunday.  Such lethargy put a damper on the weekend's plans.  I was raised in a family that tends to be the last few standing at parties.  Not so this weekend, B was sweet enough to take me home early from a friend's birthday party.

Another silver lining to last week's cold:

Although it still is not Facebook official *gasp*...we did celebrate our 1.5 anniversary last week. 

2.  The April showers blessed us with an abundance of rain the past couple weeks.  My nephew informed me that depending on the size of the body of water, it is called a rivele, pondle, lakele, or oceale.  My street was definitely home to an oceale.

3.  So many details!  The past couple weeks have been focused on the little details of my sister's wedding.  I had my dress fitting and a trial run for my hair.  Next step: make-up!

4.  I decided to try out Dean Street Society's monthly style challenge.  For each day of the month Hilary has a style prompt for something to try that day.  I've made it to day 3!  So far the most challenging thing has been self photos and learning Twitter.  I'll try my best to document.

5.  This little blog turned three months old this week!  One thing I've learned: coming up with an alternate title for 7 Quick Takes each week can be exhausting.

6.  Oh Snoopy :)

Follow Snoopy on Pinterest

7.  Dear Weather,

         Please stay nice, warm, sunny, and dry.  I want to go to the zoo. 
     The penguins are waiting for me.

     Sincerely, Me

Make sure to go and visit Jen before you head out to a wonderful weekend!




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Favorites Volume 4

Sorry for the hiatus last week, this cold has been a bear and I'm just starting to feel more like myself.  

Time sure flies!  I can hardly believe it is time to link up with Hallie for another week of Five Favorites from fashion, food and youtube ;)

1.  When I was little I used to make chains and rings with the weeds flowers in the yard (okay, okay, I still do).  This ring brings those happy memories to mind and a smile to my face and what can I say, I could not resist.

2.  Black and white, stripes, and polkadots...yes, please!


3.  Hummus is a staple in my fridge.  I love things with a kick to them and Sabra Supremely Spicy Hummus does not disappoint.  It's good with veggies, pretzels, pita, chips, spread on sandwiches...yum!

4.  I'd never heard this song before watching American Idol, but I really like the lyrics and Angie's cover.  Her performance is outstanding.

5.  And whose week doesn't get better with Michael Buble dressed and singing like a chicken?

Cheers to the rest of your week!
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