Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One Perfect Word

So I may have mentioned a time or two (and will again) that I love reading Debbie Macomber.  She writes romances that are wholesome and more like a clean daytime drama than a true romance novel.  Now I know why... she gets up at 3:55 am everyday to pray, read the bible and have a conversation with Our Lord.  And she is a prolific writer that has had best sellers.  She is doing something "write" ( a tribute to my Grammy that loved puns!).  My first (evil) thought is, of course she can do that, her kids are grown and out of the house.  Uh, as I read her book, One Perfect Word, I discover she has been doing this for decades.  And I discover she has had tragedy and struggles along the way and yet, she rises each morning to pray, read and have a conversation with God.  Wow.  So that is why I struggled with this week's resolution... I felt like I too should resolve to do this.  However, it is her thing and I need to come up with MY thing.  And I will.  Maybe it will be a system.  Maybe it will be another week's resolution or a Lenten commitment.  I will listen, He will speak, then I will know.  I think.  Maybe.

Anyway, this was a great book and an easy read that I read this past weekend.  Debbie has spent decades choosing a word for the year and this book tells that journey.  Fascinating and inspiring and overwhelming and yet satisfying.  It has questions in the back for a book discussion group and I would read this book again with a group to learn more, ponder and discuss.  This is my recommendation for the week.  Happy reading!

New Week, Choose a Resolution already!

Soooo many ideas.  Which way do I go?  I choose systems.  I hate to get the mail.  Why?  I don't have a system in place for what to do with it.  I clean "on demand".  Someone is coming, it's time to clean.  But this generally displeases me and it is this way because I don't have a system.  I've had systems in the past, but as life evolved, I didn't evolve with it.  I haven't exercised regularly in years... why?  I felt I had to have a regular time etc.

So, this week I am examining my life for areas that need a system and then I am implementing one.  I solved the exercise dilemma over the last month:  if you are going to exercise daily and are a mom that is also a professional volunteer and works part-time, then there is no system.  You go when you can go.  Some days that will be in the morning, some in the afternoon and some in the evening.  Go when you can go.  If you then end up with an injury, don't quit... change your exercise to meet your abilities.  This is one thing I need to be flexible and determined with.  Which is why yesterday for the first time in my life, I swam laps.  I could her Dr. Steve's voice. "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."  Household chores, mail, meals, laundry... what systems do you need to establish?  Join me in a week of streamlining your life!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finishing last week

My New Year's letter is almost done.  However, this is about one change at a time.  I can work on it this week (and next, maybe I should call it my Happy Valentine's Day letter) and then get it out.  I am committing to a year of connecting.  Just like a year of cleaning out.  I found a new spot... my computer.  Old word documents.  Horrid pictures.  Empty files.  1500+ things dumped into the recycle bin and then just dumped!  So satisfying!!!  With the money issue, I am staying out of the store and eating what we have at home.  The old me would have run out to the store to grab ground beef last night when the hubby declared a craving for hamburgers.  Nope, let's see what we have in the freezer and go from there (I must admit, having a brace on my leg for my ankle sprain does help in this area... I got the message, God, you don't need to really give me anymore injuries).  Of course, the flip side of that is that between us, Mike and I bought 8 boxes of girl scout cookies (at least we know where our money is going!).  Bless his heart, he bought 4 for his college boy.  I bought college boy one, teen boy at home and I ate one and 2 for the troops (give, give, give!).  So now I will give the other to teen boy at home since daddy bought 4 for the college boy and wants all the credit.  He can have it.

I am still in an internal debate about this week... more later.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Surgery went great and my BFF is on the mend!  It's friends that make our lives unique and special and sometimes adventurous.  It's often friends that keep us grounded.  I am a true believer that it takes a village.  Reach out into your village today and make a connection.  My calendar is filling with connections, make a date with someone you miss today!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Any step is a step in the right direction.  I have been making baby steps.  Chatted with my nephew, mailed packages to my MIL and cousin, coffee with a long-time-no-see friend, scheduled dates with other friends.  But my Happy New Year letter remains in my head and not on my computer, so I feel frustrated.  Focus on the positive and any step I make toward connections is a step in the right direction.  So I look at it like this, I have lots of friends and some I only see every few months.  If I have one day of the week that I set aside to meet them for a walk, coffee, lunch, whatever, then I am setting myself up for a whole year of connections.  And if I am not meeting someone on that day, perhaps that is the day I write a letter to a family member, update the online photo album to send out to friends and family.  I now feel inspired and invigorated!  A plan!  YAHOO!  Thanks for listening.

And say prayers as I will be at the hospital today with a BFF that is having surgery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I do love to read.  I was that kid during summer vacations that would check out a huge stack of books from the library each week.  And I love reading with my kiddos.  I have done "book club" with middle schoolers, perused new topics to keep up with my high schoolers and I am enjoying the adventures in the Magic Tree House books again with my youngest.  However, I discovered that I hardly took time out to read what I wanted, unless at my mom's or travelling solo.  So LAST YEAR, I made a resolution to read, for pleasure, for myself.  And I did.  Mostly all books by a wonderful author, Debbie Macomber.  She writes daytime drama without the smut and icky tragedy.  Romance and family and entertainment.  She just finished the 12th book in her Cedar Cove series and this weekend, so did I.  I think I have now read just about everything she's ever wrote. 

This year, I decided to branch out and try some NON-FICTION or other genre.  First up, Bossypants by Tina Fey.  Now, I don't watch 30 Rock, but I had been interested in reading her biography.  After chuckling over some comments on Rachel Held Evan's blog, I got online and requested it from the library.  Girlfriends, this book was a real, laugh out loud, belly shaking book and I finished it (thanks in part to the sprained ankle I am now sporting) in less than 48 hours.  Quick, easy read, but a mouth like a sailor, so be forewarned.  However, as I am a HUGE proponent of laughter is the best medicine, keep it in mind when a friend is having surgery, loses their job or spills some milk. ;)  My friend, Stina, has collected 23 books around her house to read/finish reading this year (you go girl) and I think that tomorrow I will collect those around the house that I have been meaning to read.  First of all, I can't get to the library easily and I am out of the books I picked up at the library the other day (did I mention that I sprained my ankle in the library parking lot... true story).  Pick up a book, read yourself a story and let me know how that goes!

Monday, January 23, 2012


I will reconnect with family, friends, my community.  So later today I will connect with the sweet nephew.  And this week I will send out the Christmas cards that I haven't finished.  I am now calling them New Year's Cards.   I  have already updated my address "book" and that is ready to go!

I feel awful because a mom in our community has been battling a brain tumor and I just found out YESTERDAY.   I am on the see-saw... feel bad that I was so caught up in my world (down)... feel alright because now I know and I can help (up)... feel bad that I wasn't connected (down)... feel good because I am now praying (up)... feel sad that there isn't a meal slot or helping slot for me to do my part (down)... feel optimistic that I will be able to help in the future (up).  Anyone else on the see-saw with me?  How do I get off?  And how do I keep this from happening again?

Family today (nephew, cousin, MIL), tomorrow...
Happy Monday and someone help me off the see-saw.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


So I finished 2 of the three bathrooms and I did the DEEP cleaning!  I cleaned out my linen closet and my clothing closet.  I have dusted, put out the pictures and gathered a HUGE pile of papers/cards/etc to go through.  I now have 2 bags for donation, 2 empty shelves in my linen closet and an empty drawer in my bathroom.  I also have 8 pillow cases for my SIL pillow case dress project (only 4 if she doesn't want flannel).   In all fairness, I also need to go through one more drawer in the bathroom.  Everything I swept off of the counter and into the drawer yesterday ARE things I want to keep, most with proper places to go.  However, at the time, sweeping them into drawer seemed like the easiest thing to do so I could get the counters cleaned.

However, remember at the beginning of the week when my first resolution for the week was to reconnect with family?  I messed up today.  Happy Birthday to my dear oldest nephew.  I even have a gift.  Did I send it?  Did I call?  UGH!  Focus on the positive... we did remember to call and thank our Great Aunt for the homemade afghan.  So I am now going to work on calling that sweet boy tomorrow and apologizing.

As for this week, I love my reorganized and cleaned bathroom.  And my closet.  And the linen closet.  And the other bathroom.  And my bedroom.  And the dining room I have reconverted into a playroom for my sweet babies that will come to me some days when their momma works.  And I am going to try to keep rolling on this project.  Just like I am watching our pennies and eating breakfast.  3 weeks down, 49 to go.  Have you joined me?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Speed Bump

Speed bump:  something that slows you from your course of regular action.  Yesterday was a speed bump.  Today is a new day, hopefully speed bump free, and I can return to the chores of Wednesday... bathroom cleaning, pictures, dusting and clearing out another surface.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Other Spots to Claim...

I took stock of the freezer last night.  Part of that was I planning dinner for tonight, a full 24 hours in advance.  What is wrong with me?!  I may be working today, and I have a meeting and so I thought that perhaps some planning might be helpful.  Plus, I made meals this weekend and so I have a bunch of stuff in the freezer now and so I took stock.  I now have a list of everything that we have for dinners in the freezer so that I can work off of the list for then next couple weeks until food runs out.  The reason I am waxing poetic about this is that while driving home from swim practice this morning (gotta love 5:30 am practice!!), I realized that I put both last week's resolution (take control of the money) and this week's resolution (claim space, get organized) together.  WOW!  3 weeks down, 49 to go.  What was my resolution the first week?  Might be time to review later.  Assuming I get the pictures, bathroom and dusting finished from yesterday.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just Keep Going...

I was back in the bedroom today and I dusted the dresser.  How did that happen?  Well, I went in the room to take out the box of pictures that came down when the holiday stuff went up to put them back out in the family room and around the house.  I got the box and realized that the pictures needed dusting.  So I got a cloth and began dusting them off as I was taking them out of the box.  Wow, surfaces to place pictures on are also dusty.  Start dusting the mantle, book shelf, window ledges;  whoops, forgot I was really putting the pictures out.  Return to picture duty.  Hmmm, where to put this one as each year following Christmas, I have new pictures to put out so some need to go someplace else... on my newly cleaned off dresser which needs to be dusted.  So, I dusted it.  Then I went into the bathroom and saw all of the cleaners and rags and I remembered that BEFORE I went into my room and got the box of pictures to put back out, I was cleaning the bathroom.  Does this ever happen to you, too?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So I had EVERY intention yesterday to start on my reconnect resolution.  But it didn't happen.  Not at all.  I did find myself into the resolution I'd chosen (in my mind) for the following week SO I am switching plans!  Sorry.  Not that it really matters to anyone.

Week 3 Resolution:  Take back your home!  One room, one drawer, one surface at a time. 
Step 1:  Reclaim my bedroom.  It stores all of my old PC stuff from when I was a consultant.  It has boxes of pictures (family) that hung in the last home.  Mind you, in December we celebrated 10 years in this house.  I think I am truly afraid that if I hang the pictures, something will happen and we'll have to move.  And I will have to take them all back down and repaint the walls.  Let's be honest, the walls that I would hang them on need to be repainted if we move, so what difference would some picture holes make?  Nevertheless, they are going back out to the garage.  Until my mom comes next month and then we'll tackle what to do with those 2 boxes then.  I have boxes of scrapbooking stuff for making my boys albums.  I remember going to a scrapbooking session... 7 years ago.  Yet, it is right there waiting for me.  Out to the garage with you too!  And the boxes of pictures and articles about my amazing children that have been printed in the last 6 years are going out to the neverland of the garage to await a week (this year!) when I tackle them one box at a time.  What else... of course it was the wrapping station for the holidays so all of the rolls of paper, 8 sharpees, 3 rolls of tape, boxes, receipts, trash, etc. all sit on the table waiting for something... someone rather to come along and make sense of it.  All of the boxes sit below the table.  You mean not everyone has a 6 foot table set up in their bedroom to store stuff on and under?  REALLY!  It is my craft table.  Mind you, I don't craft there, ever.  First of all, I don't craft.  So I guess it was my scrapbook table.  Yeah, right.  Remember, seven years have passed without a scrapbooking moment.  So it is the junk all.  NO LONGER...

It started like this... young one has just a few minutes before bedtime routine is to start.  Really, like 45 minutes.  He has earned an extra Xbox game and is taking advantage of a quiet evening to claim it.  No swim practice.  No carpool duties.  What to do... cannot be on the computer as it is homework time for the teen-boy.  Kitchen, cleaned up.  Okay.  Ah yes, laundry needs to be folded.  Only, there is only like 2 loads to fold, so that goes by in no time at all (love the "pray for the child you are folding for" tip that Stina gave me and I still employ).  Hmmm.  My clean clothes are piled on my dresser so I move to put them away and discover money (yahooooo), 8 buttons, Christmas jewelry, pens, iron on numbers, books, other jewelry, a hairband and 2 scrunchies (yes, I still use them... wearing one now).  Wow... its cleared off for the first time since..... no I didn't dust it, but really, you can actually see the top now.  Hmmmm boy still playing game... well, let's look at what is on that table, really.  Three hours later (taking time out to do the bedtime routine and several chapters of the latest Magic Tree House book - 17), I am showered and laying in bed looking at a CLEANED OFF TABLE AND DRESSER. And all of my clothes are hung up in the closet.  And the closet has been organized with all of the holiday apparel put away until next fall.   How did that happen?  I simply started.  One surface at a time.  One closet at a time.

This morning, I reorganized the front hall closet (that is where all the wrapping paper stuff goes among other stuff) as I had taken all of the reorganized wrapping supplies and gift bags, etc. out to the family room last night knowing that I would have to do something with it in the morning and since I was driving to 5:30 am practice, I would have time in the morning.  20 minutes later, it was done.  Mind you, there is a pile of stuff now in the downstairs bedroom that came out of the closet, but I have 3 weeks before that room has to be ready... plenty of time.  One closet at a time.  Join me.  It feels AMAZING AND AWESOME AND EMPOWERING!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Week, A New Resolution....

I resolve to Get Back In Touch with Family... Skype with the MIL, finish Christmas cards AND send them, post the newly constructed list of family birthdates and come up with a plan, figure out the best way to stay connected with siblings and nieces and nephews, etc. 

I love my extended family.  I do not consider it a chore to visit them as we always have fun!  I would love to do it more, but I am removed so far from them that it is just not financially possible (and after last week, I know that for sure).  But there are other ways to keep in touch.  And now that all of the small people can write, there must be a way to keep that bond alive.  How do you do it?  Do your kids keep in touch with the cousins?  All are middle and elem school except my 2 big boys so FB is not the route for us.  Today, we are starting with the holiday thank you notes.  As we are nearly a month past Christmas, I would say it is about time.  So we will write the notes and I will print and include recent pictures.  Today's goal to this week's resolution is now made.  Let us go forth and bond!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So yesterday was a bust.  Somewhat.  I mean in terms of commitments to goals.  No breakfast.  No discussion about money.  Didn't win at Bunco.  Ate way too much WONDERFUL food at Bunco.  However, I discovered Zumba and I am now IN LOVE with Zumba!

So today, I have planned meals, and will now grocery shop with a plan to not purchase excess food.  Plus i'm using up items I already have in freezer and in pantry.  All smart money management tips to follow.  Let's see how it really works!  Off for breakfast of oatmeal inspired by my cousin!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Create budget, set goals, take control.  This is my mantra for the week.  However to do that, it means my hubby and I must have a frank and open discussion about money and goals.  It is our hot button.  After more than 21 years of living together, it is STILL a hot button.  I am practical, but love his spontaneous live in the moment philosophy.  Do you have that personality, or are you the staid practical one?  I must say, he has rubbed off on me a LOT more than I have rubbed off on him.  I enjoy a vacation where we are not allowed to cook meals, but rather eat out every night.  Of course, I am thinking about our last vacation/family trip and when with MY family we ate in and with HIS family we ate out 2 of the 3 nights.  Funny.  I do enjoy vacationing with his family and I am guessing that is one reason why.  The other being I enjoy them (topic for another week).  Wait, we might have carried in pizza one night with my family... it's been less than 2 months, you'd think I could remember. 

But I digress in this column like I avoid the topic in real life.  I have learned a few things about having this discussion in our decades of being together.  Pick a time when you are both happy and relaxed, not the heat of an argument about something else (which is why I tend to sidestep this topic, because 90% of our "discussions" about money happen when debating something else) or when one of you is stressed due to your work life (bad mommy day, horrible day at office, not good for facilitating a positive discussion).  Gather the facts in advance.  Do you have debt?  What are some ways (plural) of paying it off?  Do you have a goal?  What are some steps (again, plural) to achieving it?  Choices, as in many things, are good.  Now, perhaps, you are not the money manager in your family... I am assuming roles that may not be... it is still good for BOTH parties to know where the money is, where the money is going and what the plan is for our money life.   Find a penny, pick it up...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where does my money go?  Do you know?  I do know that one of my credit cards now will show you exactly where and what it is spent on.  My husband doesn't know.  He can't believe how much I spend on groceries.  "Too much money is spent on fresh produce," he says.  "Why aren't we having salad tonight?"  is another Mikeism.  Really, honey, you are such a contradiction.  He has no idea that I want to spend more on fresh stuff later this year and join a CSA (more on that another week).  So this month, I am keeping every receipt.  I am writing down every meal (even what I am packing for school lunches) so I will know if/where the excess is when purchasing food.  I know where one is... soda.  But I cannot fight every battle all at once, so this week, when I am devoting time to being money aware, I am writing down what we eat.  As I ran to the grocery store first thing this morning for yogurt, I thought, I should have planned better.  Planning may be another week.  Have a fabulous Tuesday.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Money Monday

Happy Happy Monday!  You will be thrilled to know that over the weekend I had breakfast both days... I do see that I don't eat as much at lunchtime so that seems to be a success.  Week 2:  Resolve to take control of your finances.  I used to be a freak about watching where our pennies went.  Then, I got a job and we had some surplus income so things became more relaxed.  Unfortunately that play money went away 7 years ago, but we forgot to stop playing.  And the kids got older, the expenses increased and increased (preschool, sports, birthday party gifts, SAT's, AP tests...), but the income remained the same (please, do not ever think that you will have surplus income when your kids are out of diapers... it just gets spent in other ways!).  So in 2012, I am taking CONTROL!  First stop, or not as the case may be, is Starbucks.  I got my own fancyish coffee machine at home.  Starbucks will return to its former and rightful place in my life as a TREAT.  Don't get me wrong, they kick the @#$% out of my coffee.  But I've got to start someplace.  Everyone has a Starbucks in their life... it used to be a treat, but now its a habit.  Maybe its your nails.  Or a massage.  Or an afternoon soda run during Sonic Happy Hour.  And you can keep it if you are flush with money.  If you are saving for tomorrow, have no credit card debt etc, you can keep your money draining habit.  But right now, in my world, with one in college, one prepping for college and a Starbucks habit, things must change.  Sigh.  BIG sigh.

Friday, January 6, 2012

So far this blog is only serving to hold me accountable, and it is working.  Today, I am going to venture off topic a bit and ramble.  Growing up Catholic, Christmas didn't end until today, the Feast of the Epiphany.  All decorations stayed in place, convenience be damned.  And generally I have followed that rule, but when my college boy left on Monday, I felt like Christmas had ended for us all.  So we took everything down on Sunday.  My good friend Stina, with her girl crew, is celebrating tonight and I am going to a swim meet.  But my thoughts will be across the country with her.  And they will be at another celebration closer to home.  Today is also the Angelversary of my dear friend Lisa's daughter, Lucy.  She has great neighbors who will be gathering tonight with her and I will be there, also, in spirit.  Together we will have pretty feet due to a pedi appt this morning, woo-hoo.  If you would, say a prayer, light a candle, for all mothers/families that have lost an angel. 
 Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.

By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.

Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Breakfast is coffee and fiber one bar.  It is staring at me as I type this, willing me to eat it.  However, I am just not ready (and the coffee is too hot).  I will add that yesterday I had a morning snack of a banana rounding out that protein, fiber and fruit recommendation.  So I am guessing I will plan a banana snack again today, although that will require a trip to the grocery store as I sent most of the bananas I bought over the weekend to college with my son.  Keeping with the resolution trend, I spoke to my middle one about HIS resolution.  It is kind of a cop out, IMO.  Yes, I want him to stay on top of his school work.  But seriously, it has gotten to the point that he has to make a resolution out of it?   He's a teenager, so I pick my battles.  "GREAT!" I say.  "How can I support you with that?"  Buying some Chipotle gift cards after my trip to the grocery store.  Yes, I bribe my children.  I bribe myself, why not them!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Last night I had a wonderful chat during swim carpool with my 7 year old about resolutions.  He knows what his dad's is (its the same every year... big diet) and I told him he needed to think about what his resolution would be.  I had been thinking about it and was ready to prompt him with some ideas that I would like him to work on.  However, the smart guy beat me to the punch.  "I have one.  I will brush my teeth twice a day instead of just one.  It is something I should do, but I don't."  True enough.  We are going to put up a chart and aim for 2 stickers every day.  30 days of double stickers equals a date to the movies.  I mean, adults reward themselves for achieving resolutions, so why shouldn't I reward him.  Plus, at the end of the month he goes to the dentist; I am praying for an appropriate natural consequence!  Do your kids make resolutions?  Do you make them for them?  Breakfast today, Fiber One Bar and coffee.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week 1:  Eat breakfast
So I hereby resolve to no longer call coffee with milk or 2 diet cokes breakfast.  It is the most important meal of the day; it sets your body up for success.  I'm not saying give up that coffee or pop if that's what you need to kick-start your day... I sure need the caffeine.  However, let's add some food (healthy maybe) to that.  I read an arcticle today that said that a banana is good, some eggs and milk were better but the best thing was this healthy concoction that had 400 ingredients, most of which aren't on my regular grocery list.  Now, I'm not saying that my grocery list doesn't need some tweaking... it does.  However, I am realistic enough to know that any breakfast I commit to must be easy and quick or it will never happen.  So the long and short of it is that breakfast should have some protien, some grains and some fruit.  Yesterday and today it was an english muffin with enough butter on it to make you say "mmmm!".  And I get the 100 calorie english muffins with 6 grams of fiber.  Yet tomorrow, I may shoot for an egg with it instead.  What do you eat in the morning?  Does cereal stay with you or does it leave you hungary for snacks an hour later?

A new year, a new resolution, a new hobby

So I have spent the last two days trying to pick a resolution, name my blog, move a child back to college and take down Christmas. Today I got SO overwhelmed in choosing a resoloution that my blog name came to me. An inspired moment... don't choose one resolution, choose more than one, but only focus on each one a week at a time. Some will stick. Some won't. Join me on my journey; choose which weeks are meaningful for you and let me know you are along for the ride.