Seven Quick Takes – Busy Business, Fake Cheek Bones, and Paternity Leave Penance

seven-quick-takes-friday-2So, let me start by acknowledging that I’ve gotten spectacularly awful about posting regularly. Tonight I’m totally cheating by doing a seven quick takes post, which I confess is the quickest and easiest to write. But it just feels good to be writing, so here goes…

— 1 —

There’s good news behind my lack of personal writing. My little freelance writing business is doing quite well and keeping me very busy. So busy, that I find myself with ideas for blog posts but no time to write them. The reality of the matter is that the stuff that pays has to take priority.

Although I miss my personal blogging and writing activity – and hope to get back on track soon – I do really enjoy the writing I’m doing for my clients. I write blog posts, newsletters, and marketing materials for various individuals and businesses, with topics ranging from health and wellness, to insurance, to mundane governmental mandates (I confess to not enjoying those so much), to the oil industry, entrepreneurship, and more. In many cases, I get to pick the topics – an added bonus!

— 2 —

I’m thrilled to share that, just this week, I’ve brought another writer onto my little “team” – another Catholic mom who loves to write and is very talented. She’ll help relieve some of the stress of deadlines when the baby comes, as well as beef up what I’m able to do for my blog clients. I’m pretty excited to see my little business growing, and to be able to work with another writer-mama at the same time.

— 3 —

Ah, baby. Or, as the kids say it, “Babe-E”. See the difference? Not just a baby, an Engelman baby, hence that “E” emphasis.

There seems to be some doubt as to whether we know the gender and just aren’t telling anyone, so I’ll lay it out. We don’t know the gender. Really. We’re not just saying that. That’s why I have a pile of boy clothes and a pile of girl clothes under the changing table. It’s also the reason why I have two names lists on my iPhone note pad – one for boys, one for girls. This is not some elaborate scheme to be “in the know” while everyone else is “in the dark.” I’ve never understood that. Plus, I hate to lie so much that it’s turned me into a person who is just downright incapable of lying. This is inconvenient at times, I’ll admit, but it does save time in the confessional.

Babe-E will be here in about four weeks, and I’ll do my best to get the word out as to the gender… just as soon as I know.

— 4 —

As for me, I’m feeling every bit of my forty years. By evening, I’m hobbling around on pain-ridden feet, favoring my left hip because my right frequently seems to go slightly out of joint. It’s a lovely sight. Oh, and I’ve gained enough weight that I’m having to use makeup to add cheekbones. Beautiful.

— 5 —

Makeup tip! You know those crazy fan-shaped makeup brushes that you never know how to use? Welllll… use that brush to add a line of bronzer just below your cheek bones. They’re there, even if you can’t see them. 🙂 Blend with your powder brush and – voila! – you’ve got visible (if fake) cheek bones!

— 6 —

On a more practical note, we received the most awesome news today! Ray’s company has increased their paternity leave from one week to six. Six. Seriously. SIX WEEKS!!!! With the previous four babies, he didn’t have any paternity leave. He took a vacation day or two to get through the delivery, and then it was right back to work. I’m still slightly speechless at the idea of having him home for six weeks.

And maybe a little afraid that I might be ready to kill him by the end.

Interestingly, the baby’s due on the second day of Lent. Which means Ray could be home for all of Lent. I love my husband, but the thought has occurred: This could be a whole new form of Lenten penance…

— 7 —

With the baby’s Lenten due date, I’m having to reconcile myself to the idea of not participating in a Lenten Bible or book study group this year. I’ve thought about doing a study via this blog, or via a Facebook group. Something that folks could participate in on their own schedules, as time allows. No baby sitters, or, for that matter, showering, doing your hair, or adding fake cheekbones to impress your fellow book study participants.

One possible book for discussion is The Gargoyle Code, by Dwight Longenecker. Similar to C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, the book is a compilation of the letters between a master tempter and his student, showing the many pitfalls we humans succumb to, with the added benefit of being specifically designed for Lent, with one letter for each day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday.

Anyone out there interested? Leave a comment on this post, comment on Facebook, or send an email to stephanie at afewbeadsshort dot com. I’d love to connect with other women and share in a faith journey this Lenten season, even while being somewhat home-bound due to the new baby.

Oh, and I’m open to other book suggestions, too! (And “Thank you!” to Dana for turning me onto The Gargoyle Code!) Just let me know if you know of another book that would be good!

(The links above are affiliate links… thanks for your support!) 🙂

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

The Year of Change: 2014

Wow. Looking back at 2014 is, quite frankly, mind boggling. It was a year filled with changes and events that I never would have foreseen.

By the end of January, Ray and I could only look forward and pray that the rest of 2014 wouldn’t bring more of the same. I wrecked my car on New Year’s Day, we were snowed in for a third of the month, and we lost Ray’s dearest friend.

first day of school
First day of school

Fortunately, the worst of it was over. We didn’t know it, but we had lots to look forward to. Heading into the new year, Ray and I were considering a move. However, we thought we’d be moving a few miles. No big deal. By February, however, I was beginning to feel that the move needed to be a bigger one, and within a few weeks we had made the decision to move across town, change parishes, and enroll the children in a different school. By November, we were moved into our new home. Talk about change!

In preparation for the move, I purged like crazy. I finally accepted the idea that our IMG_8188.JPGfamily was complete, and I would not be having any more children. I gave away the bassinet, the pack-n-play, the stroller… not knowing that, even as I was giving stuff away, a child was growing within me. God certainly does have a sense of humor, and a way of reminding you just who’s in control!

Learning that our family would soon be expanding led me to one certain knowledge… I could not ask Ray to shoulder the financial burden of a family of seven alone. But what does a pregnant mother of four do to earn money? I was stumped, but my sister had the answer, and I started a freelance writing business. My sister’s husband’s business was my first client, and my client base has grown, thanks largely to their networking and support. I have found myself writing on topics ranging from health and wellness, to insurance, industrial painting, entrepreneurship and the oil business. I feel incredibly blessed to have found a way to make money doing what I love to do.

To top that off, against all odds, my first novel was actually picked up by the very publisher who, in a roundabout way, sparked the idea for the book in the first place. The editing process has been a bit slow – I’m still waiting to receive the editing requests from the publisher – yet, I’m hopeful that we’re still on target for a January, 2016 release date.

My “One Word” for 2014 was Surrender. Looking back, it is easy for me to see how that word served me throughout the year. I stopped trying to have control over everything, OneWord2014SURRENDERand let God take the reigns of my life, instead. It could have been scary at times, (okay, it was scary at times) but as I learned surrender, I also learned trust. As I look back at 2014, I can see how God’s hand guided us through changes and difficult decisions. I can see unanswered prayers that, had they been answered, might have ended disastrously, and I can see how God blessed us in completely unexpected ways.

I’ve tried to analyze the changes, with various degrees of success. The bottom line is this: Even though we miss our friends and neighbors from our old community, our children are, for whatever reason, happier at their new school. Our family is, for whatever reason, more peaceful at our new house. A year that started with tragedy ends with new beginnings.

Looking into 2015, my experiences in 2014 leave me with one certainty: Only God knows what the next year will bring. Two scripture verses have been my mantra throughout this past year, and they have served me well: “Not my will, Lord, but yours,” (Luke 22:42) and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov 3:5). Whatever 2015 may bring, I pray that God will provide the grace to continue to live according to these verses, not just in the big decisions and changes, but in the ordinary moments of every day.

I’ll end with a few pictures highlighting other events of 2014:

Bonita celebrated her First Communion…

20140613-083440-30880036.jpgBear busted his head open while riding bikes at Nana’s house, but look at what a trooper that kid is!

busted headDude and his teammates achieved not one, but TWO championships – one in baseball, the other in football. Here he is sporting his baseball trophy.

ChampionBoo started preschool. You can see how sad she was to leave Momma…

Mary Lise first day of preschoolThe dog nearly died. Not once, not twice, but THREE times. First, it was something he ate, the second… well, I’m not really sure. The third appears to have been pneumonia, from which he is still recuperating. Here he is on the day of our move into the new house, hoping to drive me home after a stop at the grocery.

Keyser drivingWe celebrated a wonderful Christmas…

kids Christmas 2014And the very next day, Ray and I celebrated my fortieth birthday with a romantic evening out…

ray and steph on stephs fortieth

How would you summarize your 2014? What are your hopes for 2015? I’d love to hear about it… just leave a note in the comments section, below!

Thanks for being a part of our 2014. I pray that you will have a wonderful 2015! Happy New Year!!!