Tag Archives: 7qt

7 Quick Takes on Teacher Mode, Twitter, and Chainsaws

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Faculty orientation has begun. I’m slowly getting my teacher vocabulary back (for example, “vertical curriculum alignment”), preparing for the new perspective of younger students (I am moving down to middle school from high school), and trying to navigate my new school.

Some of that is almost literally navigating, via mental map-building; the school has a complex floor plan! I haven’t gotten lost yet, but I’m sure the time is coming. I forgot about that feeling of walking through a new door into a familiar room, feeling like I’ve slipped through a wormhole.

I must say that I love my new commute, though. It’s much shorter and easier, and it gives me just the right amount of time to switch from Teacher Mode to Regular Mode.

— 2 —

I used to listen to music when I got ready for the day. Podcasts were reserved for my exhausting commute, and I only read books. Lately, I’ve been trying audio books. It’s a very different experience, both in the sense of needing to pay attention as I do my hair and makeup and in the sense of listening to a book instead of looking at it. My most recently completed audio book was a huge letdown. It was a good lesson in being discerning about the books I choose. I can only read (and listen to) so many!

Laura Vanderkam left me mildly terrified when she pointed out that our available time to read books is as limited as our time on the planet. I am not sure I’ll be able to keep up my reading pace when school starts. (Audio books will probably help.) At best, I’ll probably only read her approximated 1250 books before I die. That includes books that I don’t wind up liking very much!

That number also makes me think about books that I recommend. Is the book I’m pushing good enough to be one of my friends’ 1250? Is it really a “must-read” when the number of “can-read” books is so few?

— 3 —

“Study: Less sex education leads to less sex.” Yeah, that caught my eye when I saw it, too! The article is worth reading (it ends at the bolded headline, “Is opposition…?”), but the main point is that, across England, when huge budget cuts came for a government program designed to prevent teen pregnancy, the rates of teen pregnancy actually went down, region by region, with the biggest declines in areas with the largest budget cuts. Even the researchers were surprised.

I’m not sure I’m surprised. Is it any wonder that providing less information and birth control to teens makes them less likely to take the risk of pregnancy? If you push information that makes it sound as if they can have sex without babies basically forever, I can see how that might open the door to risky behavior for teens who might otherwise be turned away by the risk of pregnancy.

— 4 —

I have a new level of sympathy for people who work on weekends or in retail. I frequently come to the defense of such workers when other people complain that a store is closed when they wanted to shop (do you want to work on Sundays; if not, why should someone else work, and work late, so that you can shop at 8 p.m.?) and been polite to people in less-skilled jobs. I’m no saint, but I try to keep that point of view in mind and be grateful for the opportunities I have.

But now, I’ve been there, for a little while. I’ve felt the need to cling to my identity (and job) as a teacher when people think of me as “just” a cook. I’ve worked until 9 p.m. Saturday night and then gotten up early on Sunday to go to Mass before working another full 8-hour shift. I’ve been unable to see Mr. Man as much as I had before because we worked on opposite schedules.

I always hesitate to wish or pray for greater perspective because I’ll wind up with a hard-learned lesson. I didn’t even ask for this one, and I got it anyway.

— 5 —

I started getting space warnings on my phone, so I deleted Instagram. It wasn’t a social media self-assessment, like the one that led me to delete Facebook; it was really just about the space. Then the weirdness began.

Instagram started sending me emails. It let me know how many of my friends had posted. It suggested accounts for me to follow. (I will not follow Kim Kardashian unless she’s leading me to emergency supplies or shelter.) It took a while for me to realize that was all triggered when I deleted the app! And then it got even weirder:

I still haven’t reinstalled the app, but I did log in from my browser when I got some likes. Gotta block and report those spammers! Now I think I’m permanently weirded out by how closely these computers are watching me (she says, recounting the whole thing on her blog).

— 6 —

In other Twitter news, I started some legit discussion with this tweet:

True story. That was inspired by my actual experience. Some spaces are still sacred! My desire to not have my restroom behavior transmitted via phone trumps your desire to make that call right then. What could you possibly need to talk about with someone so desperately that you must have that phone conversation while in the restroom?

— 7 —

And for a final social media moment, I shared this post from Goodreads on Facebook and got so many awesome responses! What’s yours?


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7 Quick Takes on My GTD Anniversary, Pizza Scissors, and the African American Dream

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

My emotions these days are a bit of a throwback: I’m eager for school to start as well as anxious. I’ve been out of the classroom for a long time, but I’m glad to be getting back into it. I’m glad to have a career again, but I’ll miss the aspects of my life that I felt like I could only have because I had just a job. It’ll be an interesting ride.

— 2 —

As of June 27 (these takes have been a long time coming), I have been using GTD for three years. It’s been amazing, and I can’t stop recommending aspects of the method to everyone. It has changed my life in so many ways, and I am so thankful.

— 3 —

I don’t generally get involved in politics, but I read a feature-length political article by Anthony Walton in an old issue of Notre Dame Magazine. It spoke to me in particular in its discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement and the legacy (positive and negative, real and perceived) of President Obama. Here’s my favorite part:

There is an irony, both tragic and celebratory, at the heart of our society: young people of color grow up hearing about the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and they believe it. They want to hold the nation to its promises, they want to belong and be Americans, free and equal, as they understand those terms. And every generation understands the promises of our founding documents a little more intensely and insists a little more on the full implementation of those promises.

This is, I think, what lies behind Black Lives Matter and many of the other protests enacted around the nation. In another country, one which has not made such promises, there would not necessarily be such a sense of failure. Black Lives Matter protestors are expressing a belief in the system; framed this way, the question becomes: Can the system live up to that belief?

This is why looking at Obama as an individual, whatever one might think of him as a politician (and setting aside, for the moment, the irrationally partisan and race-driven attacks upon him, there are dissatisfactions a reasonable person may have with his performance), is worth our while. In my view, in many ways Obama is the most important black man in history, beyond Martin Luther King, beyond Nelson Mandela. This is not because of his celebrity, accomplishments or lack of them while in office, but rather because of the way he matter-of-factly mastered and rose through the tests and trials of U.S. society. To put it simply, he won the highest political prize of our nation through playing by the rules. He battled and prevailed in many different arenas: academia, law, publishing, politics. He learned how things worked, how achievement is accomplished in the secular world — an important point because so much previous outsize black accomplishment had been based in religious institutions. He showed a path.

Obama’s life and career is a model for blacks and people of color on how to progress to the highest reaches of our society: work hard, get educated, get qualified, learn how to contest the career and workplace circumstances you find yourself in and, with a little timing, a little luck, who knows what might happen? He mastered the politics of Harvard Law School, the politics of Chicago, the politics of the Democratic Party and the politics of national elections by learning the traditions and rules of each context. His was, for want of a better term, a “secular” triumph, the next step in African-American progress in society, following on black athletes and business executives, stating his case to the electorate and receiving their endorsement.

One would think that whites, whether they agreed with his politics or not, would see his career and achievement as something to be celebrated, something to be pointed at, not because of any “Kumbaya” racial fellow feeling but because it encouraged millions of young blacks and other folks of color to believe they had a chance in our society. That the way for them to advance their hopes and dreams was in the library and at the ballot box, not in the streets.

— 4 —

Duolingo understands religious life!

"La profesion" is illustrated as a religious profession of vows!

That picture is not helpful if you are (a) trying to learn Spanish just using Duolingo and (b) not familiar with Catholicism, but it made me laugh.

— 5 —

In other strange things spotted online, pizza scissors are apparently a thing. I know cutting a pizza at home can be tricky, but it should be done by grown-ups, and grown-ups ought to know how to use a cutting board and a knife.

— 6 —

Being a Marylander living outside her state for years now, I’ve gotten good at spotting Maryland license plates on cars. I saw one a few weeks ago with a totally new standard design, and it’s so pretty!

"MD PROUD" license plate

I never liked the lame War of 1812 plate, and the original (from my lifetime) was very plain. The new one is perfect.

— 7 —

I liked a lot of the items in a recent Verily post about dating in your thirties. Happily, I don’t relate to all of them, but some ring very true. (I also note with amusement the reader comment from someone who complains about how irrelevant Verily is to her. She’s reading it, isn’t she?)


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Recommended Reads: 19/2017 (in 7 Quick Takes)

pile of books

I was going to publish a regular 7 Quick Takes tonight, but I don’t have enough material! Life has just been rolling along pretty quietly. I have, however, been plowing through articles in Pocket, so it’s time for another installment of Recommended Reads to clear out my backlog. There are 7, so that counts, right?

7 Quick Takes, hosted by This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Title: Busyness Is Not a Virtue
Source: iDoneThis

I love the first part of this article for its descriptions of why we are so easily primed to say that we’re “busy.” As I like to say, of course you’re busy. Everyone feels busy. When is the last time you said, “Man, I just have nothing to do?” I love the second part for its quotation of Laura Vanderkam and her suggestion for a language shift. I’ve done this in my actual life. It has the effect of making me see my time differently and appreciate it more, but it also makes me extra annoyed when other people say they’re busy. It’s a tough game.

— 2 —

Title: An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media
Source: The Message

I’m never a big fan of the concept that non-white people have to express themselves in non-white ways (whatever that means); I’m too big a fan of code-switching for that. I did appreciate that this writer points out that there’s more to a culture than mere age. One millennial’s opinion is definitely useful, but one person can rarely speak for a group of millions.

— 3 —

Title: God of the Depressed
Source: First Things

More and more writers are offering angles on the tricky space between “God-help,” self-help, and professional help.

— 4 —

Title: I Thought There Was a Simple Solution to an Unwanted Pregnancy, But I Was Wrong
Source: Verily

I’ve never read anything quite like this woman’s personal account of her experience. Abortion, adoption, parenting: it’s one of the few I’ve seen where every option was truly before her. She found that her simple, easy solutions weren’t as easy as they seemed.

— 5 —

Title: How lack of reverence for the Eucharist puts people off Catholicism
Source: The Catholic Herald (UK)

The title says pretty much everything you need to know, but read it anyway. Then reconsider your demeanor in the presence of the Real Presence.

— 6 —

Title: How to Obey Like an Adult
Source: National Catholic Register

I know about what went down between Simcha and the Register, but her posts are still archived there, and they’re still good.

Any time the Church gives us clear guidelines for how we are to behave, it’s an act of mercy: She gives us a chance to put the responsibility on someone else, and just relax and be obedient children again. I don’t have to figure out if I’m personally being called to pray, fast, and give alms. Just do it, because your mother told you to!

— 7 —

Title: Envy—The Adversary of Mercy
Source: Catholic Education Resource Center

I struggle with properly defining mercy and with remembering the difference between envy and jealousy, so this feels like it was written just for me!


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7 Quick Takes Potpourri

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

I can’t remember if potpourri has actually been a category on Jeopardy! since I’ve been watching as of late, but it’s fun when it is, and it seems very appropriate for 7QT, so I’m going with it.

— 1 —

The Apostleship of Prayer publishes a daily two-minute reflection to YouTube (and I think to Catholic radio, but I don’t actually listen to Catholic radio, so I can’t confirm or deny). I don’t watch them every day, but I marathon all the videos in chunks. They’re great for watching on my phone when I’m standing in the kitchen waiting for something to cook.

I thought this recent one on why/how we are supposed to (or not supposed to) judge people was especially good:

— 2 —

As I mentioned the last time I did 7QT, I did revise my life plan. It did not have my grandmother in it, although it now has a reminder to call my grandfather (on the other side). It was useful to do a really big sweep through since so much has changed in my life. It also encouraged me to pick up two daily habits I’d tossed by the wayside: reading through the Bible and practicing my Spanish vocabulary with Duolingo. I feel productive.

— 3 —

There’s a Friday solemnity during the Easter octave every year. Simcha Fisher hilariously called it “Meatster Friday,” and I think I have to call it that from now on.

— 4 —

Before Currently, I did tl;dr. Jenna came up with the latter, short-lived link-up before she mostly stopped blogging. I swing by very occasionally to see if she’s posted anything, and on my most recent pass-through, I noticed a lovely post about short prayers to keep ready at a moment’s notice; she calls them “arrow prayers.”

Somehow, I found a similar set of very short prayers compiled by a priest. He has some great ideas in particular for how to pray for people you don’t like very much and how to seek forgiveness in awkward situations. Even tiny prayers are better than no prayer at all.

— 5 —

I ate kind of a lot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream this past week. It was Peanut Butter Fudge Core, and I completely underestimated how decadent (and fast-melting) it was going to be. I also ate about half of the pint in one sitting. I should stick to the extra-cheap, simple flavors from now on, and I should eat just a little bit from the pint, like I like to. Feeling too full is never great; feeling too full of ice cream is… ugh.

— 6 —

jenfulwilerloveswunderlist

Whenever someone shows their computer desktop, I always peek at what’s on the periphery: how much phone battery do they have, what apps are running in the background, etc. I can’t help it! Jen Fulwiler did not mean to share that she uses the Wunderlist desktop app on her Mac, but I spotted that cute red star banner immediately. Now I’m sad again. I miss Wunderlist.

— 7 —

Mr. Man and I won trivia last week! There were only about a dozen teams, but we somehow had an amazing run and took first place with just the two of us. It was bewildering and awesome, and it is unlikely to ever happen again… but we’ll try.


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7 Quick Takes on My High-Tech Radio, NFP Week, and Love Languages

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

My stereo was good to me. It was a gift from my mom. She is a master shopper; sometimes I request things when I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for, and she always delivers. This particular stereo had a radio tuner, a CD player, an iPhone connector (play and charge), and a remote. It was perfect. I even got a 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter specifically so I could keep using it after I upgraded my phone to one with the newer connector.

I guess it started dying fairly early on. The first thing to go was the alarm. I switched to using my phone as an alarm clock, which turned out to be nice because then I hear the same sound that means “wake up” even when I’m traveling or napping. (I also hear that sound when it’s time to check my laundry, but still.) The next thing was the remote. It was a pain to have to walk across the room to change the radio station, but I got over it.

Then the radio started to go last week. For some reason, memory station #2 just would not stick. I tried scanning by hand to get back to the right station (96.7, which of course takes forever to reach no matter which end of the range you start from) and resetting the memory, but I failed twice in a row. That was the last straw. I need radio.

— 2 —

My solution deserves its own take. One of my roommates gave me an adorable Bluetooth speaker for Christmas. I don’t usually exchange Christmas gifts with friends, but it’s her love language, so we work it out. I have used the speaker with my current iPhone several times. It’s great for Pandora, but podcasts skip like CDs for reasons beyond my technical knowledge, so I just don’t use it that way.

I also have my old iPhone 4. I dug it out of my tech storage box, charged it (plugging in a 30-pin connector was so bizarre!), and am now using it like an iPod touch. It gets wi-fi, so I can play local radio stations live from their websites. (I guess I could also pick up stations from back home. I’ll have to try that next.) With my old phone paired with the Bluetooth speaker, I have a radio again!

Old stereo meets my new one: old iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker.

Old stereo, meet new stereo.

It’s not as easy to switch stations, but I only ever do that when I have time to spare anyway (i.e. not weekday mornings). It doesn’t play and charge, but Bluetooth allows me to play while charging at a distance. I need to take more advantage of that. It doesn’t play CDs, which encourages me to finally rip all my physical CDs so I can stream them in-house.

Finally, I updated to iOS 7.1 (the last one available for that device) for security purposes and because I couldn’t stand looking at iOS 5 anymore. Can I request that we never go back to keys that don’t visually switch between capitals and lowercase again? How did we live like that? #throwback

— 3 —

On the way back from visiting Mr. Man in Houston, I stopped for gas in Katy. I’ve done cross-country drives before and always done okay choosing a random gas station. (I usually pick one that is also near food so I don’t have to make a separate food stop.)

The random gas station I picked was super sketchy. I’m a little bit paranoid in general, but I felt so uncomfortable there that I just got right back in my car and kept driving down the service road.

The next station (seriously, the very next one I passed) was so much better. It was bigger and cleaner, and I felt much more safe. I went inside, and when I got the register with my soda, a man ran back in from outside to switch his pump number. The cashier looked up and saw me standing there. He was visibly startled and said, “I was not expecting to look up and see such a beautiful woman!” A lovely lagniappe for my day.

— 4 —

Last week was NFP Awareness Week. I have been aware of NFP for a while now (at least since I started going to church; imagine that), so I don’t usually see anything new in the posts and articles that emerge each year. I did notice that this year’s image has a couple at their wedding:

NFP Week 2016

Honestly, promoting NFP by using pictures of women with babies is probably not the smartest marketing move. This is a nice change.

This year, I want to highlight a brilliant post by the lovely Britt Leigh at Proverbial Girlfriend. She is a newlywed expecting her first child. Although that is not what most of the world thinks when they picture “someone who makes this NFP thing sound like a viable alternative to standard birth control,” I encourage you to read her post. She does a great job of linking it with weddings (our Not Alone Series topic for the month of July), sharing the reality and hopefulness of the NFP life, and neither sugarcoating nor sounding bitter or didactic.

I should read more blogs by writers. We are awesome.

— 5 —

Wrapping back around to love languages, Verily posted an article this week about how to speak your man’s love language when it is Physical Touch (besides that). That is not Mr. Man’s love language (we have the same one, Quality Time), but I read it anyway. I was delighted to find that the tips the (male!) writer gives are applicable to learning to speak every love language. Especially if your snuggle bunny’s love language is not the same as yours. Even if your snuggle bunny’s love language is the same as yours.

The same word can have multiple meanings and various connotations in a single language. “I’m fine” means very different things when you (a) have just fallen into a literal deep hole and are physically unhurt but unable to reach the surface, (b) are a woman responding to an inquiry from your main man, and (c) want a store employee to leave you alone. So it’s important to approach speaking someone’s love language with an open mind and a heart ready to learn. The words of affirmation you say are not necessarily the words he wants to hear.

— 6 —

Speaking of women and stores, I heard a profound insight some time ago: Men don’t go shopping. They go hunting.

— 7 —

I was wrong about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: it actually did raise a lot of money, and it actually did make a difference. I maintain that I saw too many videos framing the challenge as “donate or dump ice water over your head,” as if the bucket were a way to get out of donating, but the money came in somehow and was put to good use. I can get behind that.


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7 Quick Takes on the Texas Rally for Life, Being Singled Out, and True Gender Equality

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

This was a quiet week but nonetheless a good one. Our kitchen light fixture started to die unexpectedly a week and a half ago, so we’ve been cooking with ambient light from the dining room, eat-in area, and oven hood. There is nothing quite like dicing onions in the dark, let me tell you. Living on the wild side!

Our landlord sent an electrician to install a whole new fixture on Wednesday. It’s very pretty, but I’m still getting used to the brightness. I had to replace the bulb in my bedroom last week, too, so I am literally walking in a whole new light.

— 2 —

I went with some married friends to the Texas Rally for Life on Saturday. It was good, in the sense that I wish it was unnecessary but I’m committed until that happens. Pro-life marches and rallies are the only political activism I ever do. It took a solid year for me to work up the courage to at least try it, and that was back in DC, where the March for Life requires taking public transportation, is held on January 22 (frequently a weekday), and promises cold and wet weather. Yet I march.

I thought this year’s speakers were much better than last year’s. I missed having Governor Abbott there, but I had no idea his daughter was adopted or that his wife has credentials for days. Abby Johnson always does a great job speaking, not in the least due to her incredible witness. It is literally incredible: her stories are terrible, but they are both true and factual. Bishop Joe gave the invocation, as he did last year. He once again managed to offer a prayer that nailed the tricky middle ground between being overtly Catholic, firmly Christian, or vaguely God-directed. I’ve tried that myself; it’s hard. I also really enjoyed the closing prayer offered by a Baptist minister. I found myself really getting into it, which is unusual. Charismatic prayer is not usually my thing, but I’ve had bigger surprises.

I decided not to make or carry a sign. I am my sign. Even if you don’t speak to me at all, you can see that I’m young and black (or at least brown). That’s the only sign I need. I march for black women who are pro-life but fear speaking up about it. I march for young women who feel like they would betray second-wave feminism if they didn’t at least tacitly support “choice.” I march for people who can’t, who won’t, or who don’t yet. And I intend to keep marching until I can’t or don’t have to.

— 3 —

One thing in particular did concern me about the Rally for Life, though. It wasn’t just that it’s effectively just the Christian Rally for Babies & Moms. That’s an issue for another day. It was the counter-protesters.

In the years I went to the March for Life in DC, it became almost a game to try to spot the counter-protesters and confirm that theirs would be the only photos to show up in the news. Every year, there were maybe 100 pro-choice protesters. I only knew that because they were inevitably photographed by the Washington Post at an angle that made their group look much larger. I never actually saw them in person, though. I was buried in the throng of literal thousands of pro-life people filling up South Capitol Street.

Here, last weekend, I gave my usual response to our pro-choice counter-protesters: I ignored them. It’s not hard to ignore a few dozen people. What really left me confused was the small counter-protest rally my friends and I passed on the north side of the Capitol building as we headed home. Don’t get me wrong: they have absolutely as much right to hold a permitted protest rally as pro-life marchers do. The problem is that I didn’t know they would be there. Granted, gathering 100 people and a sound system to match doesn’t take much. We used to do that for Ash Wednesday on campus every year at my old job. But I did some research when I got home, and I still have no idea who was in charge. Did the Texas Alliance for Life know about it? Is this going to become an annual thing until we’re battling for audio space?

If they were trying to leave me unsettled, that worked, honestly. But I’ll be back next year.

— 4 —

Last Friday, I went to dinner with some friends. It was the birthday of my former roommate’s husband. (He’s my friend, too.) I’ve missed small group dinners since our young adult group disbanded, and I don’t get to see the birthday boy and wife much, so I gratefully accepted the invitation.

The weird part came when I realized who else would be attending. My former roommate, her husband, and six of the other attendees comprise couples married in the last 19 months. My (male) friend Sam and I were literally the only unmarried people among the ten of us. Somehow, we manage to split up men and women when we gather in Catholic groups (which is not conducive to getting the single people married), so I wound up having dinner with four recently-married women.

Naturally, the conversation turned to my love life. I’m not opposed to my friends keeping me on their lists, but I still felt awkward being singled out like that. (Pardon the pun.) It was as though the group suddenly took on the mission to Get Lindsay Married. I don’t usually get that kind of pressure, not even from well-intentioned friends. It was not pleasant. Of course I want to get married, but talking about it openly and often is a recent development. Am I alone in this?

— 5 —

All these restive feelings have been balanced out by Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies. Seriously, they’re fantastic, and you should listen. I get sad thinking about how I’m eventually going to catch up and then have to wait a week between homilies, like a caveman. Until then, I am tweeting quotations as I go.

Check out that favorite!

— 6 —

I can’t stop thinking about a particular Verily magazine article, on the real meaning of feminism and equality, since I read it. The author expresses an opinion I have long since held, but she does so eloquently and personally. Here’s the excerpt that made me realize I’d found a kindred spirit:

There is something about the way that we discuss gender equality that unsettles me. Take me, for example:

I majored in economics in college because I like it and I’m good at it. I took an economics class in high school and found that my mind clicked into the subject in a way that it did not click into others. Majoring in it seemed to me like the next logical step. When I announced my decision, however, my peers and mentors encouraged and applauded me with an urgency that confused me.
“Only 15 percent of economists are female,” they exclaimed.

“We need more female economists,” they would say, “We need more women pursuing quantitative subjects.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the encouragement. I was happy that my success in economics was regarded as a necessity by my professors, advisers, counselors, and friends. But it was their collective reasoning that disturbed me. My interest and ability did not necessitate my success, according to them—my gender did. They seemed to think that because roughly half of the world’s people are women, so too roughly half of the world’s economists ought to be women. The ratio of women to men in the field is lopsided and thus, unacceptable.

It only gets better from there. Her reasoning is on point, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Check it out at Verily, and subscribe to their daily emails while you’re there. It’s one of the best items in my inbox.

— 7 —

One last tweet. I haven’t yet shared the rest of my love story with my budget, but it’s coming. Trust me. I did have a huge financial accomplishment this week, though:

In a nutshell, this means that I am now one month ahead on all my monthly expenses, including savings. I feel excited, a bit dumbfounded, and joyful. More soon. In the meantime, visit YouNeedABudget.com (referral/discount link) and start your journey to freedom.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Christmas, Cards, and Not Playing Games

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

I have been trying to post this for so long that three weeks have gone by since my last installment! You may have noticed the delightful new logo. These takes won’t be so quick, though. I have much to share.

— 2 —

I love Christmas cards. I wasn’t able to send them in 2013 because I had only just started working full-time again. This time around, I went big: not only did I send cards, but I also had them professionally printed. Saving with YNAB helped me pay for them in cash, and I ordered on December 26 because they were on clearance (and because I waited too late before Christmas). Best decision ever. I topped off my intense life improvement in 2014 with a bang!

Since I ordered on December 26, they arrived in Austin on the 31st, and I didn’t get them in the outgoing mail until after the last pickup on January 3. All that addressing and signing by hand took time!

They made it to recipients last week. I was down to the wire of the Christmas season. Then again, my cards this year had a nativity scene including magi, so technically, they’re Epiphany cards. Thus, I sent them at the most appropriate time. (Procrastination, budgets, and liturgical seasons, unite!)

In case you didn’t get yours, here’s a digital version:

cardfront2014

Image from Vistaprint. Sentiment customized by me. Not a sponsored post; I just love this Nativity scene! (Click to view larger.)

Click to view larger.

Click to view larger.

— 3 —

When I wrote my annual “year in review” post, I was so pleased. I had to draft it early in order to choose the highlights for my Christmas Epiphany cards. Going through my calendar, my blog posts, and my (very few) Instagram photos from this year was a happy experience. After 2013, almost anything would have been an improvement, but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made toward adulthood, financial stability, regular blogging, and holiness.

Yet somehow I forgot to actually publish the post on New Year’s Eve, so I popped it up last Sunday. If you’re an email subscriber, you might not have noticed the discrepancy. On the other hand, I back-dated it after publishing to fall correctly in my archives, so if you’re reading via RSS or on the site, you might have missed it.

You can read my 2014 year in review here, pick up the RSS feed here, or subscribe by email below or in the sidebar on my home page.

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— 4 —

Speaking of mail (QT #3), my Christmas Epiphany cards were my first piece of correspondence to many of the people on my list since 2012. The rest of my mail is rent checks, the Catholic Services Appeal, and birthday cards.

For years, my custom has been to send a birthday card with a letter to my closest friends. Unlike my Christmas card list, though, I’ve taken names off my birthday card list over the years because our relationship has changed. For my extra-close friends, I still write a birthday letter.

I’ve stopped expecting replies. I have one longtime friendship that was maintained largely by real, handwritten letters. The rest of the letters I write are mostly for me. My letters are like prayer in that sense: I know they will reach the recipient, but I might never receive (or recognize) the reply.

— 5 —

In news that does not have anything to do with writing, Christmas was good. I hadn’t seen my family since the previous Christmas, so it was nice to reconnect with them.

My brother came home from his first semester of college with both ears pierced and a dragon tattoo on his shoulder. It could have been worse; he’s a football player. My sister finished her environmental science degree and is looking for a job. If you know of anything in the D.C. area, drop me a line. My grandma is doing well. She prefers to drive during the day now, as all grandmas eventually do. My parents will probably retire to Austin. They have several years to go, but I guess that gives me incentive to get married and stay here. One of my cousins is moving in with my parents, so my childhood (teenage? We moved in when I was 15) room is being handed down to my brother. It’s the end of an era. I only live in it for about one week a year, but it’s hard to wrap my heart around the feeling that a part of my life is over.

— 6 —

My family doesn’t have many Christmas traditions. We are Christmas Day people. This involves eating a lot of home-cooked food and exchanging gifts.

One tradition I’m trying to evolve since we’re all grown-ups (cf. my newly tattooed little brother) is the Christmas game. My mom organizes a game and insists we all play together. We are not a games family. We are a TV family. Anyone who wants to can watch The Santa Clause and White Christmas with me, and I even half-watched some Judge Judy with my mom while I was on my computer. But we only ever play games at Christmas.

We are also not a team game family. Pictionary was abolished some time ago. This year, Mom made a valiant attempt at a Jeopardy!-style trivia game. I enjoyed exercising my Harry Potter trivia muscles, and we all complained loudly and relentlessly. It’s tradition.

On Christmas Eve and late Christmas Day, though, we played regular grown-up games. I taught my family how to play Nertz (my absolute favorite game despite my not being very good at it), and my sister and I played Phase 10 with my mom. My brother shouted “Hertz” instead of “Nertz,” as though he wanted to rent a car, and my mom had some trouble remembering how solitaire (the backbone of Nertz) goes, but we had fun. And no one complained.

— 7 —

For the rest of my vacation, I got to see two of my good friends from college (one who lives in the area and one who was visiting her own family and her boyfriend’s), go to one of my favorite places on Earth, and spend New Year’s Eve with friends in Austin who had their baby days later. It was a good run.

I’ll save my report of 2015 activities for Friday.

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