Saturday, January 25, 2014

Books 4, 5, 6

I finished the Canadian West Series by Janette Oke.  Remember how I said that I couldn't wait to find out the rest of their lives?  Boy was I disappointed.  It seems, based on comments made by the author at the beginning of the book, that she was urged by fans to finish this series.  Unfortunately, there is being motivated by fans and feeling pushed by fans; I'd love to interview her and see if my feelings of "pushed" are accurate.  I read and reread the first chapter.  Then I turned to my computer and the page that I use for information on this series to confirm that I had not missed a book.  Or 4.  Eventually, I figured it out.  Fast-forward a couple of decades.  Yes, we got most of the story filled in, but honestly, I would have rather lived it with Elizabeth than learn it from her daughter and son.  In reality, these last two books told their story and not their parents.  I enjoyed them, however, I haven't quite recovered from the disappointment that although these books are in the same series as the first two, they are completely separate, by themselves.  Just noticed I didn't mention the titles:  Beyond the Gathering Storm and When Tomorrow Comes.  A final note that refuses to die in my head, really she could have told both stories in one book.

Then, I got a miserable cold.  And though I have a compelling novel waiting for me to read, I went straight to a good old trashy romance (Harlequin!) to seek comfort and escape from my lousy cold.  Millionaire Cop and Mom-To-Be by Charlotte Hughes was very satisfying without a great deal of emotional commitment or time spent.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Books 2 & 3

This will be short and sweet.  The saga of Janette Oke's Canadian West continues the story of Elizabeth and Wynn as they serve their God, each other and their community in the brutal northwest of Canada, circa 1914-1916.

I've now read books 3 & 4 in the series:  When Breaks the Dawn and When Hope Springs New. I giggled over somethings and cried hard over others.  These books are not so much romance as historical fiction.  And it seems with each one, the author includes their faith in greater amounts; more praying, more biblical quotes, more putting life in God's hands.  I am anxious to read books 5 and 6 to find out how their lives play out.

2014-1 Good Calendar

Getting organized for me is knowing who, what, why, when and how.  I've spent the better part of today with three different school calendars compiling all of the days off, end of school dates and spring breaks.  Three kids, three different weeks for Spring Break.  Good times.  Now that I have students in three schools in three cities, I have finally moved to an online calendar.  It emails out the weekly schedule to the major players in our family and, with my email and our family password, they can add important dates to the calendar.  Just realized that I haven't added birthdays!  YIPES!

I will miss my binder with my free printed pages and pockets for other important papers to carry around.  Have no fear, though, I am NOT paying for my online calendar.  I am using and it is free.  It has some upgrades that you can pay for, but it really does everything I need without the bells and whistles.  I was able to download a mobile app for my phone, so I will always have my calendar on the go.

The More Things Change...

The More They Stay the Same...

This is how I am feeling right now.  I look around and there are so many things I want to change/improve/manage etc.  This is how I felt two years ago when I started this blog.  And I am feeling also like a ping pong ball that is being hit back and forth.  Great job, I've stuck it out two years.  Lousy job, you've got most of the same issues as two years ago.  AHHHHHHHH!

I still eat breakfast.  That was resolution #1 and it has stuck.  But since many of my resolutions are cleaning up and out related, they all need to be done.  Again.  And again.  And again.  In a different room, perhaps.  So I am starting over at the beginning.

What is RESOLUTION? A firm decision to do or not do something.  When you look at it that way, I have really achieved what I set out to achieve.  I resolved (decided) to do one life improving thing a week.  And most weeks I do.  Some weeks, I do twice.  These are things that improve MY LIFE.  Not anyone else's.  However, I hope that if you are joining me on my journey, you too are making changes, improvements.
I needed to think this through, to cement my relationship with my blog, my goal, my inner peace.  I hope you can find some peace here.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book 1: New Year's Day Read

A year ago, I read a book on New Year's Day.  I found it powerful and inspiring.  I asked my son to read it, but he didn't. I will ask him again to read it tonight because I see so much of my son in this man.  But more than that, Randy Pausch's Last Lecture speaks to how to live life.  His ideals speak to me in a way that Cami Walker's 29 Gifts didn't even though both books were written from a place of making the world a better place.  I said that I could see myself reading this book EVERY New Year's Day and I thought earlier today that perhaps I was being a bit over the top.  I honored that comment by downloading the book today and re-reading it.  I understand why I wrote such an extremest comment.  I am glad to start the new year with his words ringing in my ears.  I cannot encourage you enough to make the time, read his words and live your life.  

Here is what I wrote last year:  

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I started the year off reading a truly inspirational book by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow (remember I read two of his books last year).  Randy rode his bike daily while fighting cancer and on 53 long bike rides he spoke with Jeffrey Zaslow who put the book together for him.  He could have done it himself, but it would have taken precious time from his family.  The book is The Last Lecture and this is my second attempt at reading it.  Last time I read on the book jacket that he was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon and that this was his last lecture.  For some reason, I was drawn to checking it out again from the library and I read it in a single afternoon (the family got leftovers for New Year's dinner... oh well!).  It is an easy read; powerful yet simple and oh so real.  I saw my son in this man.  And I am making him read it now.  This is the kind of book I could see myself rereading every year to center myself.   Here is a New York Times article about Randy Pausch:

Ramblings of a Mom

Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone.  Today is New Year's Day and College Boy is back at school working already.  I have some ramblings from the last month or so I just feel like sharing.

We went to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with family and some of us were gone 12 days!  College Boy got some vacation time and was able to relax and travel with LRHB and me.  We saw my siblings and their families and my parents and my in-laws and my husbands's extended family.  We didn't get to see the many friends that live in the same area nor did we see my extended family.  Such is the price we pay for living so far away.  I also wanted to see more of the touristy stuff the area boasts, but in the words of Hero Daddy, "Shouldn't we spend the time with the people?  Isn't that why we are here?"

Bitter weather greeted us upon our return and Teen Boy finished his first college semester soon thereafter.  He helped me decorate the house for Christmas and has pulled many hours on LRHB duty.  I had forgotten the JOY a boy can be after returning home from his first semester away.  So appreciative of home, so helpful, so mature, such good company.  (me -sighing and smiling!)

Then school finished and College Boy came home and late nights of game playing and busy days of shopping and cooking and shopping filled the next 11 days.  A Holy Christmas.  Gifts from the heart.  Love.  Togetherness.  These are the memories I am carrying with me.  Today, it seems to end.  The many practical duties of life are looming on the horizon.  However, today I am taking time to remember and savor not only the last 11 days, but the blessings of 2013 and the promise of 2014.

Best of 2013 List

The List 2013

1.  Puffs tissues with Vicks - when you have a cold, these tissues are a little bit of heaven!
2.  Origami Owl - This company has personalized jewelry for that someone special.  It is so unique and personal that if I was Oprah, EVERYONE I KNOW would be getting one of these.
3. Milky Way Simply Caramel - Heaven in my mouth!  The caramel is rich, the chocolate is milk.  I get the mini-sized bars in a 6 pack for a buck so I dig the price too.
4.  Ticket to Ride Board Game and the 1910 Expansion Set - HOURS of fun.  I've been playing this game 9 years this Christmas and the youngest loves it as much as his brothers did when they got it for Christmas in 2004.
5. HOMEOLOGY All Purpose Cleaner - Made by Gold Canyon Candle Company, I LOVE the smell!  It is plant-based cleaning infused with essential oils.  No amonia, no phosphates, no dyes, no chlorine and non-toxic.
6. Gold Canyon Candles - I stopped shopping Yankee Candle when I discovered how much better these candles burn.  Mike even burns them in the man cave downstairs!  This is a homebased company, so you might need a consultant.  I've got a great one next door!
7. Bath and Bodyworks Stress Relief Body Cream - I put this on my feet, add socks and cross trainers and go all day long.  And I work with kiddos with special needs, so I am on the move all day long!  Somehow, my feet don't feel as tired and my nail tech accused me of getting a pedi someplace else because my feet were in such great, soft shape.
8. Tilia Malbec - I'm not a wine snob, but I don't like crappy wine, either.  So when I tasted this $10 a bottle of red, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!  YUM!  And it fits my budget!
9. Good Old Fashioned Freezer - Mine's not fancy.  And it is old.  But since I returned to work full-time, it is a staple in my dinner prep world.  I spend about 8-10 hours over two days one weekend and then I am set for the next 5-6 weeks.  I pull out something to defrost or pop a frozen item in the crock pot, then I come home to dinner.  I'm not doing the drive through thing during the week which would defeat the purpose of working full-time and be way less healthy.  This may sound lame, but seriously, it has been one of my favorite things this year.
10. Cozi Calendar - This is one of those FREE online calendar sites that I finally broke down and began using this year.  With two kids on two different college campuses/different schedules, etc., this online system has created order where before there was none.  On Sundays, it sends out the week to whatever email addresses that you tell it to.  The boys can add stuff to it and Mike (in theory) can check it before making plans with the work dudes.  (in reality, he makes the plans and I use the calendar to point out that my plans were made first and that he has to reschedule).  Look, free!  My gift to you all!
11. Non Fiction Book:  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - This book is a quick and easy read; I read it last New Year's Day and intend to read it again this New Year's Day.  It is a great way to remind ourselves what is important in life and how do we want to live each day.
12. Fiction Book: The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  This is a well written historical fiction with great characters and a storytelling style of going from current times to olden times and back.   
13.  Book Series: Fool's Gold Romance Series by Susan Mallery.  Great characters, fab small town and happy endings.  Even better, she's continuing to write for this series so 4 new books to look forward to in 2014!
14. Nissan Juke - I bought this car second-hand from owners that took such great care of it!  It is two-years old and NOT a mini-van (for the first time in two decades!).  Though I miss my space, I love having a sporty car!

Resolutions 50-52

Resolution 50 - Clean out Holiday Decorations.  12 boxes of Christmas decorations.  That's right.  However, I might add that that doesn't include the decorations stored in the garage.  It also doesn't include the two boxes of Christmas trees.  Each child has a box of ornaments.  So do Hero Daddy and I.  I have a box of just Christmas candles (which are decorator types, not the ones that we actually burn which are kept in the hutch in the dining room), a box with other ornaments that go on the tree (including the star), a box with a decorator tree and a box full of music boxes, all Christmas themed.  I have a box of Nutcrackers and a box that has just one LARGE Nutcracker.  Okay, so maybe I have more than a dozen cause I think I have 2 more boxes of misc stuff like stockings, stocking holders, Christmas linens (not kept in the above mentioned linen chest) and other decorations that we've accumulated.  This I can tell you... sweet decorations that the children make each year in school, do not hold up.  Have a "holiday door" (ours is the back of the door leading to the garage) where such delights adorn the home.  Snap a picture and put it with the holiday pictures for that year or in a special holiday album (I have one of those... someplace else).  I finally replaced the front door wreath that we'd had for 19 years.  Not because I wanted to, but rather because I needed to.  I love my new wreath, but it will not fit in the box the old one came out of.  I did clean out some things, threw out ripped old paper decorations and donated those holiday themed trivia books and games that we just don't use.  I'm not sure I've managed to get rid of a box yet, but it shouldn't be as difficult to put back.  I will continue to clean out as I clean up at the end of the season.

PS.  That doesn't include the wrapping supplies, either.  I really need to view less as more.  Probably will do over again next year!

Resolution 51 - A Christmas Card.  So how did this tradition get started?  One guy thought it would be a good way to use the new postal system in England.  That's what it boils down to.  Why does the tradition continue?  I can only say why I like to send and receive Christmas cards:  to share with others what is happening in our world and to learn about what is happening in the worlds of others.  I think with the advent of email, this need dropped and even further now that people are connected on FB.  In reality, though, many of my Christmas card list are not friends of mine on FB because not everyone does FB.  Now, it truly frustrates me when I get regular card signed by the person sending it if we aren't connected cause I want to know MORE.  But they have given me the gift of remembering our friendship and for that I am thankful.  Now, I don't really remember the last time I sent out Christmas cards.  I do remember filling them out in the car while driving home from California and that I took a LOT of razzing because it was like the summer or something.  Better late than never, I always say!  So I have finished the Christmas letters from the last 3 years, had them COLOR printed with pictures and will be spending some of the rest of our time off addressing them and sending them off.  I have had to persevere on this one, because it has been time consuming.  I am hoping that to those receiving them, they will appreciate hearing from us and knowing that it was a labor of love.

Resolution 52 - Examine your life.  Are you where you want to be?  Are you happy?  Do you need to create a plan to get someplace else in your life?  How about that to-do list we started the year with... completed?  Do those things even matter anymore?  This time of year makes me SO VERY THANKFUL!  I have my health, my children, my parents and in-laws, my Hero Daddy, friends, a job I enjoy, a beautiful home etc.  Sure, I need to lose some weight.  Sure, I could be more financially settled.  However, at this time of the year when I am with my people, I just want to embrace the feeling of gratitude for what God has given to me.

So, I am going to continue my journey.  I have many things I still want to accomplish, ways I want to grow.

Resolutions 28, 29, 31, 32...

I have been doing double duty this month to fulfill my 52 Resolutions in 52 Weeks.  And yes, it does read like a 52 week chore chart, but you know what each resolution/chore improves me/my life in some way.  I really do wish at the end of the year that I am better at the end because of my journey and if I've helped you a bit, well even better.

Resolution 28 - Clean out the medicine cabinet.  This should be an annual chore.  Perhaps if it was, I would have discovered that the Albuterol on my shelf had nearly expired AND the box was nearly empty PRIOR to going to the doctor's office.  Bless him for having a system set-up that allows patients to email him!  Each year, there is a "Drug Take Back Day".  Last year it was at the end of October.  Ideally, I would like to clean it out prior to that day.  Here is my public service announcement... flushing and dumping them down the drain have been found to impact our water; turn them in.  Many of our bottles are empty and still on the shelf.  Those are very easy to dispose of!

Resolution 29 - Perhaps the days of place mats on tables have passed like other fads.  Perhaps the fad has only passed in my house.  But over the years, I had accumulated many holiday ones (for the big boys; poor LRHB cause I never pulled them out for him) and I had some that I received more than 20 years ago as wedding gifts.  I digress... RESOLUTION 29 - CLEAN OUT LINENS.  I have a cedar chest that was so full of these items that I couldn't get another thing in.  Since I have often hid gifts in this chest, I found this to be a problem.  Plus, I am trying to move toward a more simple life.  I am sure I have other linens in other spots that need to be cleaned out, however, this chest has been drastically emptied.  I kept the ones I am most likely to use and got rid of the rest.  Including something that was listed as circa 1972 from an aunty?!

Resolution 31 - Clean out your pantry.  Some things I keep on hand cause you just don't know when you will need them.  In spite of the fact that both boys have had their wisdom teeth removed and that we've had tummy issues, I found 6 boxes of Jell-O that expired in 2011 in my pantry.  Now, I am pretty sure that the Jell-O was not "bad".  However, if they expired 2 years ago and I still haven't used them, imagine how much longer ago it was when I purchased them.  LRHB doesn't like the stuff, so unlike when the big boys were small, I don't make Jell-O for holidays (think jigglers in Easter Egg shapes or Halloween shapes).  And apparently I made it so much when the big boys were small, they no longer find it enjoyable.  Now, I rotate cans from the front to the back and such; I also clear out cans in the fall for our local Harvest of Love campaign.  However, it took fresh eyes of moving things around to discover the Jell-O that had expired.  What can you find?

Resolution 32 - Do you have a box (or boxes) at the top of your closet (or in your basement/crawl space/rented storage space/attic/garage) that contain treasures from your childhood?  I'm talking about more than just baby books.  Programs from football games.  Pressed flowers.  Ticket stubs.  Notes (love or other).  Art (and I use that word loosely).  I had a linen chest full of such paraphernalia along with stuff I had no idea what else to do with because it may or may not have sentimental value to myself or someone else.  Out!  Out!  Out!  With most of it.  In the end, I was able to move the linens from my cedar chest and put them in this linen chest (from my great-grandmother) and put the numerous homemade quilts and afgans in the cedar chest.  SUCH A FEELING OF SATISFACTION!  Rumor has it that too much clutter in our bed rooms is a contributing factor to our inability to sleep well.  I'll let you know when I get the rest of the stuff out!