Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Because I am not a Schlarb

My sister Katie wrote a beautiful post for The Bright Maidens #LiveLent series:
They say forgiveness is a tool used not for the benefit of those who have wronged you, but by the forgiver as part of the healing process. Bitterness and anger tear at a person’s soul until there is nothing left; hatred eats away at all that was once good in you. This is not how life is meant to be.  
And so, the million dollar question: what to give up? Because if you give up nothing, you are obviously a schlarb. Giving up candy and sweets was all well and good in grade school, but does giving those up make you or I the person God intended?  
No, not really.

Read more here.

My sister and I in Berlin! 
Want to submit you own? There's still time! Post it on the Bright Maidens' FB page!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pure Baldwin Talent

Now, I married an amazing man. Some people may think, Of course you did Julie! You've got good character judgement!

But seriously. I need everyone to understand how amazing B. is: for Christmas, he made me a music video about my favorite kitchen appliance to the tune and in the spirit of Rebecca Black's Friday.

Now, if this was a perfect world, you would watch this one first to fully appreciate his:

But in reality, you're probably just going to skip to his awesome work of art:

Yes, I really do love griddles this much. My aunt and uncle gave one to my big family when we were younger, and it's how we mass produce breakfast. It's easy to clean up after and versatile - you can make breakfast, lunch AND dinner on it. Our first one lasted 10+ years, and now we're on to our second! My in-laws even bought one because I raved so much about it. (And maybe now you will too?)

Props to B. (okay, his real name is Will as you now know!), my brother-in-law Eric (all technical greatness is his!), Ryan, Reagan, my father-in-law, Abby the dog, and one of the Baldwin chickens for their help in this production!

If you ever think a part of this is weird, then please watch the Rebecca Black video again. Also, the irony of the video is Will is not a breakfast person and I am. How's that for true love?

Enjoy!! And really: isn't my husband amazing?!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nanny On, Moms

As a nanny, I often wonder what kind of Mom I will be to my kids. I'm very conscientious of the kids I watch, and keep them happy and occupied. That being said, I am also a big believer in letting kids play by themselves (or other kids) so as to use their imagination. Too much enabling encourages kids to get bossy, especially if they are already more "specifically-inclined" towards activities (verses the, "whatever happens happens" attitude).

This week, this topic has weighed especially on my heart. Yesterday was President's Day, and our normal play heaven was overrun with kids - particularly older kids, who pay no mind to two year olds on the prowl. Then today, at play group, a similar situation happened on a smaller scale. My charge is Mr. Chill, so nothing traumatic occurred. But my blood boiled at the older kids who repeatedly climbed up the slide so that the little kids could not go down it, or the name calling between kids, or the general rough-housing.

More infuriating for me, however, was watching the lack of follow-through from Moms. They would tell their child to stop something, and when they didn't, they let it go and kept talking to other Moms.

I agree that there are times to pick your battles with your kids. I do not agree with letting your child walk all over you and other kids. If you tell someone to not do something, and they do not listen to you, you should respond. Not in an angry or aggressive way, but a firm way. I like to ask the 5 year old why she did not listen to me, why I'm asking her to listen to me, and why she acted that way. Making children conscious of their actions is very important; otherwise, it does and will transfer into adulthood.

See what Calvin's Dad is doing here?
When I quit office work to start nannying, it did not seem like a career choice to many people. But being a nanny to two little people uses all my social graces (under pressure and otherwise), interpersonal skills, schedule management, imagination and curiosity, is a high responsibility post, and heck! A ton of fun. It's the best job I've ever hard, and it's the reason I know I'll be ready to be a Mom when that day comes.

But I also know, from being a nanny, that your child is not "just that way." Every child is going to act out and be rebellious and not want to take a bath or brush their hair or eat their vegetables or wear sunscreen, but that is why you are the adult and they are the child. I may consider my charges to be my little friends, but I am also in charge of them. I have to take care of them and protect their well-being, and the only way I can do that is if they listen to me.

This June, I'll be with my family for over a year and a half. Every time one of the kids listens to me especially well or asks my permission before they run off or says please/ thank you, my heart bursts with pride. They didn't always do these things, and I drum it into them in a loving way. Because that's how kids learn: by example and constant reminders.

Moms, when you're out with your kids, try to put yourself in another caretaker's place: if your child is acting out and hindering other children from enjoying themselves, please step up and set an example of how people should act around people, big and small. It's what this nanny would do!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Set Me As A Seal On Your Heart

Matt Maher sets Song of Solomon to music:

Today, I am grateful for my husband who woke at 6 a.m. to go to work. I am grateful for the little hole we share; the way he loves me, cares for me, helps me feel better, encourages me, and is my complete other half. He makes my heart expand in so many ways, just when I think I could not love him any more than I do.

I am grateful for my grandparents, my parents, and my in-laws for the love they taught me and give me.

I am grateful for my siblings and sibling-in-laws, and for all the love and laughs we share.

I am grateful for my extended family, friends, and communities which I belong to, which never cease to show me love and support.

Mostly, though, I am grateful for the Lord, who loved me first.

I am blessed enough that I can't picture everyone whom I love so very dearly, but they know who they are. Happy Valentine's Day, to one and all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Live Lent: A Challenge In Itself

Join The Bright Maidens for our "Live Lent!": Beyond Giving Up Chocolate forum.

Today, at Ash Wednesday mass, I cried. A lot. My husband asked me what was wrong and I shooed away his concerns. Some times, when you feel repentant and the force of God's mercy and grace in your life, you just need to express those feelings. So I did, and took five tissues down with me.

I've been carrying a lot of weight on my shoulders lately. I'm tired. For all the blessings I am thankful for, I often finding myself begging God for a little reprieve.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 RSV).

And frankly, during the "Jesus, Remember Me in Your Kingdom" sing-a-long after Holy Communion, I almost lost it. Fortunately, B. was there to hold my hand and keep singing. I am continually reminded how truly blessed I am to be married to him.

I have a feeling this Lent is not going to be an easy one for me. For one thing, work is going to be more intense for the next three weeks, and that is surely not a coincidence.

Therefore, this Lent, I am doing three things:
Lent 2013: It's All About Attitude

Praying the Rosary every night with my husband, in addition to night prayers.

Offering up my bitterness toward people who inadvertently upset me, and praying for them instead. (E.g. the woman who came to mass with the flu; the woman who drove into the crosswalk so as to cut off 2 seconds before the next stop light 15 feet later while the 2 y.o. and I were out walking; etc. ... as my husband says, it sounds like I am still working on this one. I am. All 40 days.)

I am not biting off more than I can chew this Lenten season. The power of "NO" or "NOT NOW" - I must find it! I do this all the time, which is often the reason I am tired. Just one more... article... or... well... what am I writing about again? It's also the reason one table at our apartment is completely covered in organized piles of "stuff" which I shall truly organize once I publish this post.

The priest at mass today reminded us that penance is necessary, even though people are essentially good, because we could all be better. Even though I am not making it a Lenten promise, I'll be returning more frequently to the sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent, and I hope you'll join me in a renewal of our soul, mind and commitment to following Christ.

I'd also love to pray for you! Anything. Nothing is too silly to pray about it. Let me know.

If you're on Twitter, join #ashtag to share you and your ashes! You can also e-mail the USCCB, who is collecting pictures of people with their ashes. My ashes are hard to see today.

All glory to God in the highest!

Monday, February 11, 2013

On This Day

“The sudden news of the Pope's decision to retire at the end of this month has taken us all by surprise. But the shock of the realization that this good and gentle man, this wonderful Vicar of Christ, whose mind is as profound as his heart is fearless, should be tempered by the recognition that while popes come and go, the Church remains forever."

--Dr. Regis Martin,  Theology Department at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Progress through Respect

In case you missed it, Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and DANG did he rock that boat:

If you want a good cause to support, check out Carson Scholars Fund!

I love what The Anchoress said about him and the speech he gave:
Let me end on an optimistic note. Give yourself a half-hour at some point today, and watch this remarkable video, of Dr. Benjamin Carson speaking at a recent National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president and vice-president, their spouses, the new Secretary of State. After quoting proverbs, he says some bold things, dares to criticize the repressive habit of self-censorship we have fallen into thanks to political correctness. “PC is dangerous,” he says, “it muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them and at the same time keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed…we need to start talking about things…” 
He talks about coming up from poverty: he is the son of a poor, illiterate mother (herself one of 24 children) who was himself a “bad student” — the sort of kid California might decide needn’t be expected to learn Algebra. He talks about the need to disenthrall ourselves from ideological fervor so intractable that it would rather the wrong thing than the right, if it means a “win” for “the party.” 
He says it all right in the face of the people who really need to hear it, but we all do. Do yourself a favor and watch**. Benjamin Carter is a man of science and a man of faith; he puts the lie to the inane idea that the two are mutually exclusive, and suggests that balance is still possible.
LOVE. What a great American and man! And not afraid to invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! May we all have the strength and conviction to walk such a path in life.

Friday, February 8, 2013

7QT: Comebacks and Carrying On


When I get off a regular blogging schedule, coming back feels like heresy - I just don't want to go there.

::open blogger::
Blogger: OH! You're back now. How nice.
Julie: Err, I just wanted to type up a quick post on nothing special...
Blogger: Nothing special? Why even type it up? WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE? And you call yourself a writer...
Julie: I'm not completing a lot of projects these days, am I? Not a winning situation. I'm sorry.
Blogger: Are you still here?
Julie: ::closes blogger::


But then, I read something recently about how writing about sweet nothings, about daily life, and updating your blog just because you want to, is a lot like calling up an old friend and chatting.

So, as I finish my greek yogurt and before I dash off to another doctor's appointment (I'll spare you the details), I just wanted to ask: How are you all doing in 2013?


If you're preparing for Lent, may I suggest you join The Bright Maidens in our Live Lent link-up? We're discussing ways to get into Lent beyond giving up chocolate. Stay tuned for more details and a brand new website!! See our Facebook page for updates. (Here's a little inspiration too from Meg Kilmer-Hunter!)

Pretty sweet graphic, huh? Props to Trista!

While I am thoroughly enjoying my newlywed status, I am currently learning how to balance buying food for two, setting up an apartment we're going to move out of in June, traveling for work and not living with my husband half the week (fortunately spending that time in my family's home!), and getting enough sleep.


I'm also venturing into the no-stress exercise regime. Part of growing up is realizing that you're not riding your bike up the street 50 times a day any more, so your leg muscles are not as fabulous as you'd like them to be. Or, like me, you're no longer playing sports at school or taking ballet on the side. Growing up is hard enough without carving out that extra time for working out!

As I am exhausted when I get home, I'm currently at this stage:
1. stretch (at least a minute on each)
2. treadmill for 25 minutes (way too cold up here - and too dark! - to be outside)
3. 20 push-ups and 20 sit-ups
4. stretch (hold at least a minute each)

Jumping jacks are fun too! Anything to get moving while not feeling like you're a total blimp ready to deflate. The best advice I ever heard was to start where you are physically and go from there. That is why, when my husband worked out in front of me in the living room last night, I highly enjoyed sitting at my computer and eating my orange.


As if my heart could love this girl any more, my dear friend Marisa's baby girl Abigail is learning more and more signs!! If you have a young one and want to help them communicate better, I highly recommend Baby Signing Time (and Signing Time with the older ones). They are proven and wonderful, wonderful videos! I discovered them from the kids I nanny, and so I sent her one when she was a wee bebe, and they are now her favorite films! The company is run by a family with children who need signs to communicate, and so the whole concept of the show is to teach signs in a fun, interactive way for every day use!

Abigail with Auntie Julie

My photographer sent us a link to see more pictures and a video compilation from the blessed day. Yes, it has a picture of me stuffing cake in B.'s face AND him kissing me after that. Good stuff right here.

Carry on, good readers!