welcome ... enjoy yourself

Friday, May 24, 2013

bon voyage

Paul and I are heading out of the country today for London and Paris!  I'll be taking a break from blogging until we return, so look forward to lots of pretty pictures from our trip in about two weeks.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

a wrinkle in time

I recently rectified a great mistake of my childhood: never reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.  I saw the book on a must-read childhood books list and picked a copy up from the library.  After I finished the book, I noticed a copy of A Wrinkle in Time on the bookshelf in my old room at my parents' house.  Turns out I had access to the book the whole time, I was just too silly to read it!  Most likely because the flying centaur looking creature on the front cover looked nothing like Nancy Drew, the Babysitters' Club, or the Boxcar Children. 

Wrinkle in Time was well worth the short time it took to get through it.  I love young adult books like this because the plot is usually engaging yet simple, the characters are interesting and likeable, and the themes are profound while still being easily understand.  L'Engle has a great sense of humor and wonderful imagination that comes across in her writing, and best of all, she's missing the condescending moral tone that a lot of children's writers from her generation had (I'm looking at you C.S. Lewis).  She even manages to tell a compelling story while also teaching lessons about the importance of our imperfections, the falibility of adults, and the power of love.  

In an extremely quick synopsis: A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of siblings Meg and Charles Wallace's adventures through space and time to rescue their father who has been captured by IT.  Also: they're rockstars (maybe just in my mind).  

I would love to write a story like this some day.  Until then, I'll borrow a cop this and make my way through the rest of L'Engle's books to see what becomes of Meg and Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

our final community night dinner

This week marks our last week living in community.  Our last roommate has taken a job working with the Franciscan Action Network in Washington, D.C. which means when we come back from Europe, we'll be living on our own.  Tonight we're celebrating our final community night dinner with the extended members of our community.   

Tonight brings up lots of mixed feelings.  I still question whether or not we were successful with this community endeavor. I wonder if our community was "good enough."  With the bumps we had a community I wonder if Paul and I were failures as community starters.  I don't know if my heart will ever resolve answers to these questions. 

I do know that I've put my blood, sweat, and tears into this community, and the past two years have taught me a so much about community, myself, my relationships, my marriage, conflict, and commitment.  It would take too long to go through all the ups and downs, joys and challenges of the community so I'll just leave it at this: being in this community has made me a better, more confident, more patient, more loving person.  I'm glad Paul and I had the crazy idea to start this community, and I'm glad we were crazy enough to stick with it this long.  Even though it was difficult to be in community as a married couple, I believe it ultimately brought us closer and made us a better couple.  Living in community as a couple helped me realize the importance of being connected to a community (though not necessarily a live in one) for the continued strength of our marriage - and our growth as individuals.  

It's difficult to know what affect our community had on other people, and ultimately I don't think that's what's really important about a community.  The real secret to community life is that by being in relationship with others, you are transformed and grow to so much more than you could be on your own.  

I'm excited that our extended community will continue even though it will just be Paul and me living in the community space.  We've made some great friends through this community, and I want to continue to grow in our relationships.  We intentionally set up our community to have connections between live-in and live-out members of the community which turned out to be one of the community's greatest strengths.  Now the Casey Sister-Brotherhood will be more of a network of young people which will be a good fit for where Paul and I are right now.  We're ready to step into the next stage of our marriage together, and we are both so excited to be able to focus on each other as the main priorities in our lives.  

Ah the joys and pains of community life.  I have learned so much, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

this weekend i...

helped pick paint colors...

imagined what the new repairs in my parents' house will look like... 

experienced garden envy...

helped my mom plant baby tomato plants grown from seed...

reminisced about my wedding day here...

practiced taking pictures of pretty churches...

celebrated with my family... 

and watched my brother graduate high school!  Look at that giant!  I can't believe how tall he is.  

Another wonderful trip to St. Louis.  Bam!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

today i'm thankful for

... the first seedlings of the season (the only reason I plant radishes) ... a bus that takes me from my house to the airport and back again ... seeing my baby brother and Liberian brother graduate from high school ... time spent with my family ... packing for Europe ... beautiful sunny weather ... having time to cuddle with my pups and my husband ...looking forward to a friend's weddings ... friends becoming aunts ... borrowed books ... rainstorms ... journaling ... new favorite tv shows ... pedicures with libby ... looking forward to great adventures

Saturday, May 18, 2013

10,000 days

I was reading through some old blog archives at Today's Letters and came across this post that begins "the average life span is 25,550 days."  Which got me thinking, how many days have I already lived?  I calculated it and realized that oddly enough today is approximately by 10,000th day on earth!

It's weird and crazy to think of life in terms of how many days I've lived, but I found that it gave me a little extra motivation to make the most of today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.  Being reminded that life is finite has a funny way of making me want to live more fully.  

I was reminded of the song Seasons of Love from the musical RENT that says something along the lines of "525,600 minutes.  How do you measure a year in the life?  How about love?"

Hopefully I have lots more days to keep practicing living and to keep living in love.  Hope you do too. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

i took a walk

My morning walks have been so beautiful lately.  It is full on Spring and colorful and wonderful.  Thanks to Pedro and Diego I have to get my butt out of bed every day and enjoy the outdoors.  Kind of makes up for the howling and accidents and all the other inconveniences. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

game of thrones: storm of swords

WARNING: an overwhelming amount of nerdiness and awesomeness are contained in this post.  Proceed at your own risk.
I am proud to say that I finished all 1000+ pages of A Storm of Swords, the third installment of George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series (and I only had to renew it twice from the library to do so).  For those of you unfamiliar with Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire, it is the fantasy series recently turned into a TV show by HBO.  It's Lord of the Rings with more complex characters, more political intrigue, and of course, way more boobs and beheadings.  

The series takes place in a universe stuck in the Middle Ages; the trade off for lack of indoor plumbing and electricity is that they get to play with magic and dragons.  The story can be confusing at first because there are so many characters.  Martin introduces over 1000 characters in the series (not this book alone), and the main characters are part of seven different kingdoms.  I had to write down a cheat sheet at first so I could remember who everyone was. 

Once you're acquainted with the basics of the story line and the characters, these books are so good.  The books are broken up into chapters told from different characters' points of view.  This makes the "goodness" and the "badness" of the characters less distinct- which makes the story way more fun in my opinion.  

A Storm of Swords tells the story of the battle at the "Wall," the dragon queen's conquests, and the War of the Five Kings (see - even that is complicated.  Why couldn't it have just been two or three kings?).  One of the biggest plot twists of all the whole series takes place in this book and left me saying "Why George R. R. Martin?? Why would you do that?  Do you hate your characters?"  This book also left me wondering how Arya could have such a boring story line when she is such an amazing character.  And when Sansa will grow up and stop acting stupid.  And what Tyrion is going to do now that he ... well you'll know if you read the book. 

Now that I've finished the book, I can finally start watching the third season of the TV show - which correlates with the first half of this book.  Season 4 will take on the second half.  And in case you're worried what people will think of you if you start reading this book, just know you're not alone

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

chamionship bout

In case you didn't realize how hard core I am, here's proof: derby has become my favorite sporting event.  Friends and I went to the championship bout - the final bout of the season - Saturday night.  After buying our tickets we took some pictures with ladies from the Maiden Milwaukee team, who came so close to pulling out a championship win!  The lady on the left is Kimberr, one of my favorites (1, 2, 3 KIMBERRRR!). 

Besides the overwhelming girl power of derby, I also love the randomness of the events.  The National Anthem was played on an accordion thing - no words, just the strange accordion. 

This father and son duo could not keep it together for the accordion song and had to sit down so no one could see them laughing.

Physical fitness at it's finest.  The championship bout between the Crazy Eights and Maiden Milwaukee (not shown here) was probably the best I've seen - it was edge of your seat entertainment!  Now I have to wait several long months until the start of the next season.  Maybe I'll have to rent Whip It to get my derby fix. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

pulling weeds and taking names

We have a tendency to pick cold, windy, rainy days to work on our garden.  Luckily we still had a great turn out for our kick off event this season, and there was a whole lot of weeding going on.  We scraped off the top layer of protective mulch, pulled out a whole lot of grass that had found its way into our plots, and topped them all off with some fresh organic soil.  Voila!  Plots ready for planting!

A nice before and after shot. 

Planting some pretty lettuce.

The finished product!  Notice how the sun came out after all the work was done.  I put my seeds in the ground (plot number 1 is mine) and am excited to see what comes up.  I noticed I've been a lot more sluggish this garden season, but getting my hands dirty helped me catch a little gardening spirit.  

Check back in for more updates throughout our season and watch our landscape develop. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

make me smile: practicing french

Our Europe countdown is at eleven days.  I am getting super giddy and nervous and excited.  I've been feeding my excitement by brushing up on my French skills and cultural knowledge.  I took French for about seven years in high school and college, but of course my conversation skills are now minimal at best.  I picked up Harry Potter from the library to get into the flow of the French language;familiar young adult books are the easiest to read in my opinion.  I love the little differences between the American and French Harry Potter editions.  The French title translates toHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's School, Hogwarts is called Poudlard, and "muggles" are called "moldus".  Fun huh?  All this French immersion has this Francophile ready for une aventure française!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

happy mother's day!

Happy mother's day to all the wonderful moms, grandmas, great-grandmas, aunts, and motherly ladies out there.  Happy day especially to my mom who lets us call her granddogma and send her cards from our dogs.  It takes a special lady to endure that kind of weirdness.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

spring has sprung (finally)

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the trees have baby leaves, and the flowers are in bloom!  FINALLY!  I feel like I finally woke up from a looooong winter hibernation, and I love that I can walk outside and feel the sun on my face without shivering from a brutal chill.  My morning dog walks are actually pleasant again, and I'm driving with the windows down doing a little car dancing on the way to work.  This is officially the best time of the year. 

What's your favorite part of spring?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

visitors galore

You may have noticed that I've been a little shotty on the posts the past few weeks.  I am sorry for slacking, but I have a totally legitimate excuse for being MIA.  We recently have had our biggest influx of visitors to date - and it was amazing!  We started with a visit from my fantabulous sister-in-law Naomi who was in from Portland.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Milwaukee Art Museum among other mini adventures.

Pedro loved having Naomi around.  She practiced for having more nieces and nephews by spoiling Pedro rotten.  All the couch and kitchen roaming time he wanted!

Libby's visit overlapped with Naomi's, and I am proud to say that I stayed up past 10:00 every night Libby was in town!  We made a stop to Libby's bar, an ... interesting establishment off Brady Street in Milwaukee.  We also laughed and talked a lot - and that's a good as summary as any for time spent with my sister. 

While they weren't technically visiting us, we got to see Sydney and Chris - Jesuit Volunteer friends - and their little bambino Ford outside of Chicago.  We had our reunion at a Dunkin Donuts (apparently it's a Hartford volunteer thing) on our way to pick up Diego.  Yay for JVC reunions!!   It feels so special how quickly we can reconnect with people we rarely see; it's a magical JVC thing.  The trade off for being "ruined for life" is that you meet some amazing people who are just as ruined as you!  (Little bit of trivia: Chris and Sydney met in Jesuit Volunteer Corps at a party Paul and his roommates hosted!) 

We met up with some more Jesuit Volunteer friends in Chicago at one of our old semi-haunts, the Heartland Cafe.  The weather was beautiful, we had a great time laughing and catching up, and we were even inspired to make plans to see each other again!  We just can't get enough of each other. 

And finishing off our round of visitors was our great friend Rachel - who has the distinguished honor of having lived with both Paul and me (Hartford and Chicago respectively).  Rachel has a love for great music, bright colored scarves and ice cream.  So of course we had to take her on a custard tour of Milwuakee.  Every stop was delicious, but none of them quite compared to the amazingness that is Ted Drewes frozen custard.  

And that was our whirlwind of visitors.  The best part of having family and friends all over the country is the excitement that comes from reunions and visits.  I always feel so lucky and blessed thinking about all the wonderful people we love and who love us!  

Things are pretty quiet now, so hopefully we won't have to wait too long for our next visitor to come along.   (Hint, hint...) 

Monday, May 6, 2013

make me smile monday

In 18 days, Paul and I will be leaving on a jet plane for London and Paris.  I can't stop smiling talking about our plans and reading about the places we'll be visiting.  Feel so lucky and so excited!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

the first meeting

First we'll make snow angels for two hours...

then we'll go ice-skating...

hen we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie dough as fast as we can, and then...

we'll snuggle.  

If first impressions are any sign of what's to come, Pedro and Diego are going to be best buddies.  As long as Pedro can keep himself away from Diego's food.  (In the pictures above, Pedro's the one with the extra red harness thing around his body.)

happy birthday mom!

Happy birthday to one of the most special ladies I know.  I am so proud to have her as my mama!