Wednesday, April 30, 2014


At the risk of contradicting myself in 2.5 seconds, I just want to say that the idea of "shopping for a church home" really irks me.  Why?  Because I don't think churches should be viewed as businesses who are in the market for "selling" and "customers."

The local Christian radio station here does this "church of the week" thing where staff from the station visit a different church every week.  Churches are nominated by members, and often times it sounds something like "Oh, I LOVE Church X because people are just soo nice.  I have lots of friends there and I just feel SO good when I leave there on Sundays."  Right...because how you "feel" is what important here.

Yes, this is the Catholic in me coming out.  We're not so quick to be about how one "feels," rather we put more stock in the Truth behind the church and its actions.  No matter where in the world you go, you'll find the same Gospel readings on a particular day (hence the term catholic, universal).  And for us, the fact that it's not about the pastor (priest) or his personality and interests, but God.

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir

All that being said......I am in the market for a church home.  Or at least a temporary church home, seeing as how we don't exactly plan on being here for the rest of our lives.

Item #14 on my "20 in 14" list is "register as members of a church parish."

I've been here for 15 months now, and I really just think it's time to make a decision about where we will actually register.  To put things in a perspective, I've not actually registered at any church since the one I "grew up in" (more like, received my sacraments at).  But, we're married now, and we are doing well tithing, so I just think we need to make a decision and stick with it.  Plus, it would be a good idea to try to meet people by getting involved somehow.

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir

But the dilemma.  I generally think people should attend the church closest to their home.  There is actually a little church just about 5 minutes down the road, and we do go there about 50% of the time.  It took us several months to realize the church existed, but it was WAY nicer to drive 5 minutes than the 20 we were traveling before.  (Remember folks, I grew up in super Catholic south Louisiana, so there were literally 10 Catholic churches within 20 minutes of my house there.)

The problem?  This church is small, like I said, so there are fewer Masses, and not as many services such as adoration, reconciliation times, etc.  Because of this, we often end up driving the 20 minutes to the other church, because the Mass schedule is a little more flexible or to take part in seasonal events.  But still, we are going to each church about 50% of the time.  Neither has stood out as a front runner for our attendance or participation.  I am leaning toward registering with the smaller, closer church, and just knowing we will attend one or the other depending on the situation of that particular weekend.

SO, I want to ask you...readers (especially Catholic ones)...what are your thoughts on becoming members of a church?  What do you look for?  What should I look for?  What are priorities - scheduling vs logistics/distance?  And just to save us both the time and effort in reading/writing on such topics, I am not looking for comments regarding pastors or "strength of faith" (or whatever you would call something related to church teachings/focus).

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir



Saturday, April 26, 2014

1,229 Days

The number 1229 is significant for us.  On December 29, 2011, Alex and I spent the day in New Orleans with some of my friends.  It was then we decided that (bearing certain things falling into place), December 29th would be our wedding date.

He was there, I promise!

A year later, we spent the day with friends again...only this time, we were executing that plan - celebrating our wedding day.

Photo by Katie Hoffpauir
Since we dated long distance (across states/time zones) for two years, even the smallest increment of time - a day - was hugely significant for us.  We celebrated many milestones along the way... 500 Days...600 get the idea.  We've been married for almost a year and a half now, so it's been a while since I've given much thought to some of those celebrations.

Needless to say, I was much surprised when Alex made a point of celebrating 12-29 Day.   No, not December 29th (obviously, it's April!)...but 1,229-days-since-we-met Day, better known as April 21, 2014!

We were actually both off of work on Monday, the day after Easter (well I took the day off, but Alex was given the day as a university holiday).  You know you're an adult when you look forward to a day off to get groceries, shop for a new mattress, and top it off with a sushi date for lunch.  ;-)

You can tell by the card that the flowers were a day late...he had them sent to me at work the next day, because he knew I would appreciate them more there.  Everybody just go ahead and say it with me...Awwwwwwwwwwwww!

I married a good 'un!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just a Little R&R

By now, most of you know Alex and I dated long distance (across states/time zones) for two years before we were married in December 2012.  As husband and wife, it was incredibly refreshing to finally be living in the same state, town, and even the same house.  The weeks or months apart were grueling, but good practice in patience and selflessness, priming us for our roles as husband and wife (in more ways than one).

Almost a year and a half into our marriage, we still find ourselves experiencing periods of time that greatly resemble that season of long-distance dating.  The way our work schedules shake out, one or both of us is away overnight at least once a month, and in some seasons, two weeks out of the month.  We're lucky that those two week months are never consecutive days, but four or five nights is not unheard of.  February-June and August-December are especially tough...which, if you do the math, are 9 of 12 months out of the year.  Yuck.

I really do love baseball season, but literally every weekend from February to June is occupied with Alex's work, and thus we are not able to visit friends/family, or even spend a weekend relaxing around the house.  As much as I groan about it, I am reminded of the toll this grueling schedule takes on Alex, and try not to give him such a hard time about the yard needing mowing or broken appliances (re: garage door) needing to be fixed.  He really does make an effort to do everything in his power to be totally present with me when we do find those rare moments together.

This weekend, Alex had to travel with the team to Jonseboro, AR, for a three game series against Arkansas State.  Last year, I joined him for Easter weekend at UALR in Little Rock, and this time around I was able to make the trip once again.  Most couples would have taken advantage of the opportunity to explore all things touristy in a new town, but that plan just wasn't for us this time.

What were we excited about?  Watching TV in bed.  Really?  Yes, really.  To quote a good friend's mother, "Nothing good ever happens in a bedroom with a television," and I agree.  So, staying in a hotel room with a television in front of the TV was a real treat for us.  Even more so, being confined to the space of four walls with one another for three days...that was a real treat for us.  (Not like that.  Get your mind out of the gutter, people.)  


We did get out and about a little, enjoying a few restaurants that don't happen to be in Monroe, and even doing some shopping.  No significant purchases were made, but it was incredible to be together...and discussing plans for our summer garden or home projects while we were at it were just an added bonus.  So as we head out on that 5 hour drive south this afternoon, I can honestly say I feel truly refreshed and re-energized about the sacred relationship between my husband and I.

Alex says this is his "I don't feel well" face.

As for everyone else, I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend.  Now...go eat a chocolate bunny.  :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Ducky Day

For the most part, no matter our field of employment, every once in a while we all get to do something pretty "cool."  In some cases, that might mean traveling somewhere really exotic or meeting someone very influential.  On Saturday, I went on a private tour of the Duck Commander warehouse in West Monroe.  That counts, right?

Last spring, our region hosted a weekend camp for 7th and 8th graders with the "4-H Dynasty" theme.  (Read more about that here.)  At the time, we'd tried to arrange for one of the cast members to make an appearance at our camp, but were told it would be better for us to bring the group to them, instead.  So, we decided to reward some of the teens for their participation in the camp by recognizing two youth from each small group and all the Jr. Counselors with plans for an upcoming tour at the Duck Commander warehouse.

When we tried to follow through with those plans, we kept running into road blocks and red tape.  Remodeling began on the warehouse to make more space for the make-shift gift shop that had been set up, and it was definitely a no-go when filming was in-progress.  Then we were told that A&E had taken over all tour arrangements and these were no longer being scheduled.  Womp, womp.

Fast forward to January 2014, and enter Representative Vance McAllister.  Mr. McAllister visited our District Livestock Show as a local dignitary and FFA Alumn with a history of showing livestock.  One of our agents made a comment to his staff about trying to get into Duck Commander, and just like that, voila! the possibility was reborn.  (As good friends of the family, the Robertsons were key in a last minute push to get McAllister elected.)

Finally, we got a date on the calendar - April 12, 2014.  Then, on April 7th, a media storm hit when videos surfaced of Mr. McAllister in an extramarital affair.  Turns out, the "other woman" was his scheduler, and the very person who got us on the calender for touring Duck Commander.  Rut-roh.  After a few calls and being shifted around (to the DC office), we were reassured the tour would go on.  WHEW!

So, just in the nick of time, we walked right past families with license plates from Minnesota, New Mexico, and Tennessee...right into the back office of Duck Commander.  Oh yes, yes we did.  We saw Willie's (old) office, the duck call room, warehouse space, loading dock...everything.  Well, except Willie's new (actual) office...definitely off limits.  It was the coolest thing ever.

Willie's (old) office.


Duck call room.

Oh you know...just making a duck, posing in Jase's chair.

They leave fan mail laying out haphazardly.  We may or may not have read a few letters from moms to Martin telling him why he should date their "outdoorsy" daughters.  

Conference room (and kids). 

And to close out the morning, we headed over to the Robertson family restaurant, Duck Diner, for a delicious lunch.  Word to the wise, the Jambalaya plate is as big as your head so be sure to bring a friend.

If you're a fan of the show and decide to make a trip over to West Monroe, be sure to pick up a brochure featuring the Hometown Tour of sites featured on the show.  However, don't expect greatness or anything majestic...

This is Monroe, after all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#10 - Volunteering

[We're more than a quarter into 2014 now, so I figure it's time to get cracking on addressing some of my goals for the year.  Several from my 20 in 14 list are in-progress, but there are a couple I can write more about at this point.  Stay tuned for additional posts as I tackle the items on my list.]

Volunteering is one of those hobbies (if you will) that I consider "my thing."  Growing up as an active member of my parish 4-H program, being in 4-H and volunteering kinda became my "sport."  What I mean is that once I realized dance/gymnastics/baton were not my forte, I took up civic engagement as a fulfilling pastime.

At some point in high school or college, I announced that I wanted to be a career volunteer, knowing that possibility was unlikely to ever be a reality.  After graduate school, however, I landed what I thought was my dream job - Volunteer Coordinator - for a nonprofit organization that I wholeheartedly believed in.  I recruited, trained, supported, evaluated, and recognized teenagers and young adults who were interested in working with individuals with disabilities in the outdoor camp setting.

It was great.  I loved working with teens who were enthusiastic and passionate about the cause, and I found it very rewarding to watch them grow and evolve personally and professionally throughout the year.  I felt like I made a difference by helping to transform the program from one that focused on serving the "clientele" (for lack of a better word) to one that embraced the opportunity to be that catalyst for developing these young adults into informed and engaged citizens.

But, then I had to move.  More specifically, I got married and moved back to my home state, leaving behind an organization and position that I truly enjoyed and considered family.  I was blessed to be offered a position working with the 4-H program there, which seemed on paper to be a natural fit.  But, somehow, that feeling of "career volunteer" turned into just plain old "work."  For the sake of public access, I'll refrain from elaborating there.

Looking to fill that void and hoping to make this new city feel more like home, I decided I needed to find a way to volunteer again.  When I added 'volunteering' to my list of goals for 2014, I had full intentions of becoming a Saturday volunteer with the local humane society for cats.  Alex and I adopted two kittens from there last year, and it seems like a fun organization to get involved with.  However, ya'll know what happens when you tell God your plans...

Okay, so nothing major happened, but I sort of fell into a different volunteer opportunity that just so happens to be a more natural fit, at the moment anyway.  If you don't know much about our lifestyle in the moment, let me just say it's very inconsistent.  Our work schedules vary tremendously (especially Alex's), and we often work nights/weekends.  This makes it tough for us to feel like we have much time together to lead a "regular" know, the kind where you have friends over to barbecue, maintain a backyard garden, or go on weekend trips as a couple...

So, when we realized the Marketing Intern responsible for assigning students to work at baseball games left off a student for the score board, I eagerly asked if I could do it.  I'm not a sports person by any means, but with baseball, I can hang!  I'd even gotten a bit of practice in the fall for some intersquad games, so I knew I could pick up the hang of things if I had the chance.

The game-day staff agreed to let me man the scoreboard for the first weekend, and well, that was back in's now April and here I am still running the scoreboard.  Every now and again I can't make it due to work and such, but a kind intern guy generally fills in for me when that happens.  It's really been fun to have a purpose for being in the pressbox during the games, and I've also found it easier to get to know many of the people Alex works with.  I'm not just some imaginary figure ("the wife"), but instead I feel like a part of the athletic department community.

...And every once in a while, I get to be experience something really cool, like this:

A gorgeous rainbow framed the field after yesterday's storms.

or this:

Click here to read the full story from
And here for another story on Coach Black.

To date, I've volunteered for at least 15 games, figuring at least 3 hours each, so a total of nearly 50 hours.  Not too shabby!

A bit wordy, I know, but there you have it!  I can say I've crossed another thing off my list!


Friday, April 4, 2014

In the Works

It's been kind of quiet around here for the last week, and while I know all of you are worried about my absence (NOT), I assure you everything is fine on this end.  I will say that I worked an overnight camp all last weekend, and for obvious reasons, it has taken me a while to recuperate from that.  The all-nighter with a sick camper sure didn't help that exhaustion either...but I digress.

In the throws of baseball season, Alex has been away quite a bit lately.  The opportunity to veg on girly TV has been nice, but I do miss having a husband, and the life of a sports widow can be lonely (especially overnight).  So, when Alex is in town, I'm at the ball park volunteering (RE:  #10 on 20 in 14) or we're scrambling to keep the house/bills/taxes/etc in order.

In the little time that's left, I have been working on some fun personal projects.  One of those has been becoming an independent consultant for Jamberry Nails.  Ever heard of Jamberry?  I hadn't either until a friend invited me to her Facebook party back in February.  I never paint my nails because they chip instantly it seems, and while the gel polish looks great, it is so damaging.  The fix for these issues?  Jamberry!

Jamberry nails are actually nail wraps (think decals) that stick on your natural nail and last for 2-3 weeks (or 4-6 on toes!) without the damaging effects of gels.  Hallelujah! They also happen to have tons of super cute design options, and the cost is totally reasonable, too.  Hesitant to put money into something I hadn't actually seen on person (remember, Facebook party), I didn't end up buying anything that week.  However, the consultant who hosted the party offered to send me a couple of samples to try at home.  Instantly, I was hooked!

And here we are, just a few weeks later...I'm officially a consultant!  So anyway, I would love for you to head over to Facebook and "Like" my consultant page to find out more about Jamberry.  I plan to host online parties (and in person ones, when feasible) and hope some of you will fall in love with the product just like I did.  You can also e-mail me anytime with questions, and I'll be glad to answer them for you!

But that's not all folks...

As I mentioned before, I am in the process of renaming this blog and freshening things up around here with a brand new design and layout.  I've also slowly been working to add tags to my posts, and hope to get things a little more organized.  In fact, I'll share a sneak peak with you today!

Drum roll......

There it is, a sneak peak at what will hopefully be fun and exciting things to come!  With all that said, please be patient with me around here.  I am not giving up on the blog, but I may be posting a little less frequently than I have lately.  My hope is that goal #1 on 20 in 14 will keep me accountable for posting at least once a week (and maybe even more!).

Thanks for all the support and please stay in touch!