30 September, 2012

Evie's first little birthday party!

Yesterday Evie attended her first birthday party.  My friend (and now co-worker) Alyshia's son turned three and had a birthday bash at Catch Air.  The bigger kids enjoyed the inflatables and obstacle courses, but my little crawler spent most of her time with her boyfriend Evan in the foam block pit or crawling on the light up dance floor.

See my little girl?  Crawling away....

Evie was such a trooper!  She had two naps in the car and had a bottle and meal in a stroller.  After two hours of hard play, we got home and she slept for another three hours straight!

It was great for me to connect to some new friends I've made through Alyshia and Rebecca (Hi Ladies!).  So blessed to have such great people in my life.

Thanks for including us Greg!!!

25 September, 2012

It's all a part of me, And that's who I am

For those who do not know, I am a Confirmation coordinator at a very large parish.  Each year I have over 170 candidates.  This year I have 194.  Each year has it's own set of battles.  A few years ago I was planning a wedding and got married during the "Confirmation Season" last year I was pregnant and on bed rest trying to organize things from a far with help from co-workers.

This semester of work has been particularly challenging for me but in a different way.  This year our pastor/boss charged the youth ministry team with being bold and to not back down to pushy parents.  Obviously, there are exceptions and there is compassion.  He meant that the people in our area feel very entitled.  They use their money, job status, and every other thing you can imagine as an excuse to not follow the guidelines for our program, or the rules of the Church.  You would probably be appalled at the lines people give me.  He asked us to stand up to their nonsense.

Of course, the vast majority of the teens and parents in the program are normal, sane, and law-abiding.  And to all those families, thank you.

It's the squeaky wheels that get me.  Some years I need a little more WD-40, and this is one of those years.  Instead of dialoguing with me, one parent emailed my pastor/boss a full page email about my "uncompromising attitude".   But did she even try to talk to me?  No.

Another parent sent him an unsigned, full page, with five bullet points letter, about all the ways I fail to do my job.  If this parent had even halfway listened at the parent/teen meeting I host at the beginning of each year, they'd know that 4/5 of those bullets are untrue, and the last one was just ridiculous.

A few years ago these "attacks" would have eaten me alive and elicited an immediate, angry and defensive response.  After just a few years of ministry I learned to walk away, sleep on it and reply later, as to not reply from emotion.  Another year or two later I grew to learn that it's often not me that the attacker has an issue with, it's something within them that is bothersome and they take it out on me.

Now?  I take to heart what is said, but I take it to prayer and ask God to show me what I need to learn about myself, kindly respond and move on.

It took almost 8 years to learn that my job is not WHO I AM.  I spent so many years putting 110% into my job, as any person truly dedicated to their ministry work does and should, but I let that work be my identity.

I let my job success define my happiness, my mood, my satisfaction.  I took parent's anger towards the Church (that they took out on me) personally.  I would lose sleep for days thinking they hated me.  And for a people pleaser, that is devastating.

This week, after fighting these seemingly personal attacks, I told my husband that I've finally realized my job does not define me.  It's not who I am, it's what I do.  It's how I am called to serve the Lord with my gifts and talents, but it's not my sum total.

I finally feel free.

I am a faithful Catholic.
I am daughter, I am sister, I am wife, I am mother.
I am a youth minister.
I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I laugh at punny jokes.
I am a gadget geek.
I am a historian.....

It's all a part of me, that's who I am.

Title: song lyrics by Jessica Andrews "Who I Am"

18 September, 2012

When Irish Eyes are Smiling....

I have sat down so many times to start this post and to start the text for my photo book, but don't even know where to begin!

A few days before we left for Ireland, Eric, Evie and I went to a local (awesome) Chinese restaurant for dinner.  As I'm sure most people do, we took turns opening our fortunes, including one for little Evie.  Eric's couldn't have been more perfect.
...though I do think this is what began the three days of waterworks from this Mama about to leave her baby for almost 11 full days.

I am so thankful I spent two weeks packing.  Totally not my style, but not only did I need to fit 10 days of my cool / rainy weather clothing into a carry-on, but I had to pack Evie for staying with both sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents.  Thank God for Target sales and jumbo Rubbermaid bins, am I right?

We also had to create a will, which, of course, we intended to do before Evie was born, and then before we went to Asheville and the hot air ballon ride.  With no time to research a lawyer we settled with www.doyourownwill.com (it's real, people) and had it witnessed and notarized, along with a medical release form for our dear child.  Tears and fears from this Mama.  Eric was a saint and held me close.

Now let's *really* get started.  With no mention of the sobbing that came with dropping Evie off at my inlaws on the way to the airport.  Nope, not going to even rethink that evening.

Our flight departed at 10:50 pm from the new International Terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  Seriously, it's the best thing to happen to Atlanta air travel.  Well, if you live here that is.  The flight was easy-peasy and I even slept for a few hours.

We arrived in Dublin and immediately took a bus to Belfest, Northern Ireland.  My college roommate, Amanda, joined us for those few days.  She's been living in London so she took the long weekend to come visit us.

While in Belfast we saw a random parade, the dry dock where the Titanic was finished, and took a trip up to Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Distillery.

Monday morning we parted ways: Amanda back to London, and Eric and I started our treck south.

(Let's discuss: The UK takes their Bank Holidays seriously.  Since we refused to pay £12 for hotel breakfast we settled for the only thing open; take away from the Marks and Spencer basement. mmm.)

The trip from Belfast to Kilkenny was long and complicated.  We had to take a train that services N. Ireland down to Dublin.  And then switch train stations in Dublin to a station that services the Republic of Ireland.  From there we had a 2 hour train ride to Kilkenny.  It was a LONG day.

While in Kilkenny we saw most of the big sights there (Black Abbey, St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny Castle) but didn't tour the Smithwick's Brewery.  By this point we were already tired of Irish food (there is only so many ways to eat a potato and over cooked meat), so we followed Trip Advisor to some excellent Indian and decent Italian food.

My favorite day in Kilkenny was our last day.  Eric and I decided to wander around the back roads.  We stumbled upon the Black Abbey, which was listed in the tour book. We had no idea what we were about to walk in on.  We noticed the sign in the parking lot said Mass was at 10:30.  It was 10:05 and we had a 10:30 train to catch across town.  There was a series of people walking into the church so we followed.  To our pleasant surprise there were six religious brothers in full habit, at least 80 years of age, sitting in the choir stalls chanting morning prayer.  I wanted to stay forever.  Their voices were so angelic.

Tuesday we took a day trip to the south coast to visit Waterford.  My parish's founding pastor was from Waterford so this was a little homage to him, but aslo, I was very curious to see the Waterford Crystal factory.  The tour did not disappoint.  Eric and I took a slow walk back to the train station and found some church ruins right in the middle of down town.  And at about 4:05 we discovered the brand new (as in, still had caution tape around it) Medieval History museum (happy seal clap!), that of course closed at 4:00. We couldn't kick ourselves too much because we didn't know it existed, as it wasn't in the tour books yet!

Wednesday we spent a long, full day in Kildare.  Most people looked at me weird when I told them we were going to / went to Kildare.  Why?  Well, the patroness of our parish was from Kildare.  So this day of the trip was a bit of a pilgrimage.  Must to our dismay, Saint Brigid Cathedral in Kildare is actually an Anglican Church.  Boo!  I mean, at some point it was Catholic, and the original church on the property was Catholic.  Nonetheless it was fabulous to visit.  We also took a short bus ride out to visit Saint Brigid's Well, and the oddly combined town claim-to-fame: the Irish National Stud (read: horse breeding barns) and Japanese Gardens.  I have NO earthly idea why the were on the same property.  We had no intention of visiting either but it was mere walking distance from The Well.

On Friday we finished up a few things in Kilkenny and made our way via train to Dublin where we met up with Katie and Sam, Mark and Jessica (Sam's friends), Tony and Linda (Sam's parents), Erin and Jeff (Sam's stepsister and husband). We stayed at a pretty seedy hotel, but the price was right for having 35,000 American tourists in Dublin on one weekend.

We didn't plan anything for Dublin because we knew the crowds, friends, and game would make it difficult to count on anything.  Luckily we got in to Guiness for a tour and tasting.  The rest was just pub crawls and game-day fun. Because the days and weather in Dublin were so crowded and unpredictable, we didn't take anything with us but a wallet and phone. So the last three days of our trip on via our phones.

Eric and I were the token old people and went to bed pretty early each night. Part of our vacation goal was to sleep since we were baby-free for 10 days, and I would have to hit the ground running with work the moment we landed back in Atlanta.  So, sadly, we didn't see much of the Dublin night life.  Oh, the responsibilities!

We had a fantastic trip.  So glad we packed the iPad, Kindle, cards, Nalgene and a few boxes of snacks. It was so helpful on our travel days.  The week was so special to Eric and I to spend time just the two of us, and to travel with family and friends to such a neat experience.  I still can't believe the trip has come and gone!

11 September, 2012

And I grew strong and I learned how to get along

I'm baaaa-aaaack to blogging.  It's been a nice summer off from both reading and writing blogs, but I've missed it and I am refreshed and ready to recommit.

It's been an fairly uneventful summer here at the Buergler Haus.  I hated it and loved it at the same time.  Just three short years ago Eric and I were so busy that in one calendar year we only had 5 weekends that were not filled with weddings, showers, babies, travel, holidays, or work.  And now, we have so many leisurely days, nights and weekends that I am almost bored.  At the end of the day, this summer taught me about being truly present to my family, and to be thankful for my many, many blessings.

This summer I learned that I am still battling depression and took action to manage it.  The last few weeks have been a thousand times better than the start of the summer.  I feel like "me" again, and an even better me.  I am more focused, more productive, and more in control.  I am looking forward to my follow up at the end of the month to see what the next step is.

Eric and I spent the last year and a half saving for a vacation.  We decided to go to Ireland because his alma mater was playing a football game there.  It was an incredible get away and even better to know that we saved and paid for the trip before we even left.  We even came home with left over money! (This will cover the cost of the photo book and jump start the next vacation fund!)  Don't worry, there will be an entire post on this very soon!

In the spring time Eric's company started lay offs.  We knew he'd be "safe" for a while, but that the company was such a disaster it was only a matter of time.  Fortunately he had the foresight to get his resume together and started putting out feelers for a new job. A few weeks ago his entire department was let go with the exception of him and five other guys.  They were given a contract through November with a short list of action items and the ability to work from home.  To many this might seem like a blow, but since we knew it was coming, have appropriate savings, etc, we weren't too worried.  In fact, it's been pretty awesome.  Eric has been able to keep up with the day-to-day around the house while I am putting in 40+ hours a week at work.  A bit of role reversal. We've had random fun outings like day hikes and afternoon walks.  He's had a couple of interviews with some positive feed back, so things will probably shift back to normal soon, but we've enjoyed the brief change in routine.

Speaking of routine...this Fall Evie is going to a sitter a few hours a day for a few days a week.  This will allow me to have regular office hours while Eric is working.  I haven't had a daily wake up time and routine since high school (gulp, twelve years ago).  It's totally new for me, and very refreshing.  I think this will help me be even more productive, plus being away from Evie for a few hours a day to do "adult" things (and get paid!) will help me be a better mom.

At the end of the month I will turn 30. It's my Golden Birthday.  I have a lot of thoughts about turning 30 and feeling old, and responsible, blah blah.  But as my friend Dennis told me, "You're living the dream.  Spouse, Home, Kid, Job"  So ya know what? I am not going to complain about turning 30, instead, be thankful for all that I have!

Cheers to the Fall.  Even though I cram 12 months of work into 4 this time of year, I have so much to be thankful for (including said insane job).  We had a bumpy spring and summer, but we grew strong and learned how to get along.

And I know that,
As long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive; I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give and I'll survive, I will survive.  Hey Hey.