Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last week of 2010

Here we are, the year about to end. I had intended, by now, to have compiled a list of action items that would make my 2011 goals more attainable, but that didn't happen. Instead, I have spent the better part of the last few weeks working, thinking about work, complaining about work, preparing for the holidays (or deliberately avoiding holiday prep), or just trying to not appear like the mental case I'm pretty sure I am. And I made felt food. This is an exhausting undertaking to say the least. The fact that I have not been institutionalized is a testament to just how strong I am.

But now I must truly get to it - planning for the new year. I've reflected a great deal on how I've gained back much of the weight I lost in October due to some very bad habits. I've also been spending time thinking about the many young people who are no longer with us. I can no longer count on one hand the number of people my age who have lost a parent this year or who have themselves passed away. I don't pretend to know enough about any of them (ok, except one person) to know why they are no longer with us. But I know this much: I am not living as healthy a lifestyle as I could and I am not encouraging my family to live a healthy lifestyle.

I realize that no amount of healthy living can save any one of us from our ultimate fate. I know that if it's our time, it's our time, end of story. But I also know that much of what I do is within my control and I'm wasting time and energy doing things that are in no way good for me. I am letting my child do things that I know are not good for him. I am not encouraging my husband to do better things, rather I'm encouraging him to do things that I want to do, even when I know they are not good for us.

I guess what it all comes down to is that everything I posted previously as my goals for the new year are really just subheadings of my main goals for the rest of my life.

Live healthy. Live simply. Enjoy moments.

Happy New Year to you and thank you for spending time on this journey with me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Cards

I'm a grinch, a scrooge, a party-pooper. I am no fun. I do not like Christmas cards.

They are expensive. If you want ones that look nice, you have to spend money. And it's quite a bit of money, if you ask me, for something that most of the people on your list are going to throw away. Then you have to put a stamp on each (maybe more than one if you're fancy). Stamps are ridiculously expensive.

They are time consuming. If you write them all out by hand, you're going to kiss at least one evening goodbye. You also have to select what you want and if you include a picture and are anything like me, all those decisions creates more anxiety than I feel is necessary this time of year.

Then there is the environment to consider. The paper, the ink from the printer, the picture-making device at the place printing your photo cards. The electricity to run this crap. The energy used to cart the stupid things all over the universe so they can get where they need to be.

And then there are people's expectations. There are still some people out there who believe that there is something inherently wrong with you if you don't send a card. They are offended that you didn't take the time to write them a message (you printed your labels and didn't even sign them?? How dare you!!). And then there is the notion that if you have a kid you must send out a photo card.

I want to opt out of the whole card thing. If I see you in person, I don't want to hand you a card. If you see pictures of my child regularly (or if you see him!), I don't think I should have to spend a small fortune to mail you one just because it's December.

I know if I was doing my cards instead of typing this, I could have made some progress on the project by now. If I had started them early, I could have them done as well. You would be smiling at my adorable child instead of reading this and shaking a fist in the air about how horrible I am. If I really cared about you at all, I'd send you a card.

But I submit to you that instead of writing out cards, I could be making a memory with someone. Or working on the birthday presents I have planned for Nathan. Instead of spending money on cards, I could buy ingredients to make cookies with my family. Instead of sending a card once per year, I could tell you throughout the year that I care about you.

I appreciate all of the cards people send me, but not if they make them feel badly - if they feel obligated or otherwise inconvenienced, that would make me sad. I'd rather not get one. I know you care, I don't need a card. I especially don't need one if I don't think you care because I don't hear from you all year, but that's another post.

I want to opt out. Maybe next year I just might.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This week is a tough one for me.

Part 1:
Wednesday was my mother's birthday, her first since she passed away. In a way I used to dread her birthday because it meant trying to go see her not on my terms. Visiting my mother wasn't easy. Nursing homes and 3 year olds are not a good mix. When Nathan was really little, it was ok because he could stay in his carrier or I'd hold him, or we could sit him on my mother's bed. But once he started moving it was much more difficult.

The drive to see her was an hour each way. If I didn't time it right, I'd sit in terrible traffic. If Nathan fell asleep, it would screw up his bed time. If he didn't, I'd endure complaining about the drive. Either way it was not the most pleasant. But I recognized how important it was to go see her, and for her to see Nathan, particularly on her birthday. But it wasn't my terms. I had to go THAT week, THAT day. And if I didn't for a good reason (one of us was sick, or she was) then I felt terrible guilt.

Talking on the phone to her was not easy either. Either she couldn't get the call because her phone wasn't working or it was on speaker and her busy-body roommate would jump in or eavesdrop (if you can call it that when a phone is on speaker). If I left a message, I never knew if she got it until the next time I talked to her, so enter the feeling of "should I be feeling guilty because she thinks I didn't call her."

But this year, I didn't have the guilt, I didn't have to plan a visit (which is good, because Nathan and I both have colds I wouldn't want her to catch and therefore I'd feel guilty). I didn't have to try to call and listen to her stupid roommate. I didn't have to try to think of something to get her and then have her tell me that it wasn't right for whatever reason. I didn't have to listen to Nathan complain because he didn't even know. I'm not sure any of this is any consolation since she's gone. And I miss her.

Part 2:
Today marks 4 years since my grandfather passed away. While he and I were talking in the months before he passed, the few years before that we were not. It's a very long story why, not worth rehashing here, but suffice to say I regret that time. I would love to say if I had it to do over I'd do it differently, but I know me and I know him and we were both too stubborn to have it any other way until I found out he had cancer. And it's not lost on me that calling him for the first time in years because I found out he was sick is really cliche and lame. But it's what happened.

I was pregnant at the time he passed, due in 8 weeks. It was evident he'd never meet his first great-grandson. This saddened me deeply and still does. I think he would love Nathan and get such a kick out of him. I also think that when Nathan was acting up, he'd tell me how fresh he is (he'd be right) and how he is just like I was. And he'd say that in a disapproving way, just like my mother did. Then I would get mad, he wouldn't know why and we'd be arguing. But I'm not sure avoiding all that is any consolation now that he's gone. And I miss him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Follow up on 2011 goals

Two posts in one week, can it be????

I really appreciate the support on the last post. I do want to clarify what I meant by small things.

My ultimate goal is to create a home that is the most natural, green, sustainable place I can. I want what I do to be done with intention and thought, not just a quick and easy fix to a problem. Quick and easy has a time and a place, but I've held on to that long after it became apparent to me that with a little effort I could do better.

So some of the "small" things to create that household would include the following:
Eliminate all processed foods (cooking everything from scratch)
Eliminate all harmful cleansers (making all of our cleaning products)
Eliminate all plastics that touch food
Reduce consumption of resources (water, energy, car usage)
Reduce garbage (composting, less purchasing of products that create garbage)
Eliminate all harmful personal care products (lotions, soaps/shampoos, toothpaste)
Grow as much of our food as possible and obtain other food in the most sustainable way

That's what I've come up with so far. If i look at this list, it's overwhelming. So when I say one small change each month, I mean a plan of action to actively work towards each goal. If I went all out, I'd be out in a week!

As I flesh out these goals, I'm hoping to make up a schedule. Obviously I won't be planting a garden in January, but it would be great if I could plan out what I could grow and where. The super planner in me thinks maybe breaking down each monthly goal into weekly action items would be a great idea. Part of me thinks I'm just looking for an excuse to make a spreadsheet.

(Post written early in the morning, pre-caffeine, with a child yapping in the background about next Halloween's plans. And I'm not spell checking. So there.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The end of the year is coming

Well, here it is again, November. Every year I hope by November I'll be farther along in my goals or doing things differently or something. But somehow between my mom passing away in April and the move to the new house in June I lost about 6 months. I don't know what happened, but I do know I'm less than satisfied with it.

I'm an idealistic person - I get these ideas in my head of things that I think it would be nice to be or do. None of the ideas are impossible, there are tons of people out there who do all things I dream of and then some, I'm sure. But I'm also sure that they didn't decide one morning upon waking that they would make some major overhaul of everything they do and every piece of their life would magically fall into place. Somewhere along the way I got it into my head that this could happen. It won't.

I'm well aware I can't be all things to all people, but I'm slowly coming around to the notion that I can't be all things to myself either. I let a few things go - things that I thought it would be great to be seen as, but not so great to be doing. I have the utmost respect for people who do some things, it doesn't mean I have to do it to. This should not be a shocking concept. I do not know why it took me so long to figure it out for myself.

In my infinite love of planning, I'm thinking of how I can try to incorporate all of my goals in such a way that they are not overwhelming and therefore stick. I think the idea that's working (in my head at least) for me is a monthly goal. I'll pick something for January, if I'm seeing progress I'm pleased with, I'll add something new for February. One small change per month. That should be attainable, right? And there's what, about 6 weeks left in the year? That should be enough time to pick something for January, right?

But what to pick, what to pick...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Delaying Happiness

I just started reading a book called "And Then I'll Be Happy!" by Kristen Houghton. You know I'm a fan of making myself promises on this blog that I just don't keep, but I do hope to write more about when I'm finished. I was intrigued by the book because I feel like I've always had a bit of that "if only THIS went right" mentality. I was also intrigued because I know the author - she taught my husband Italian in high school and we went on to converse after graduation. Our paths crossed again recently after an unfortunate event, I found out she wrote this book and instantly wanted to read it.

And like anything else I WANT to do, as opposed to NEEDING to do, I put it off. It's probably a good sign you should read a book about putting off happiness when you can't ever find the time to read, which is something you love to do. When I couldn't sleep at 3am, I finally picked up the book. I am already feeling the impact.

Anyone who reads this blog, or my Facebook updates, knows that I'm full of lofty goals, many of which never come to fruition because I always find something else to eat up my time. Of course then I spend considerable time complaining about it, but that's another blog. This morning, as I was indulging in some quality time with my Google Reader, something occurred to me.

I spend so much time reading blogs about my interests, thinking about how I'll do this or that, how great the results will be. But it's all talk and think and no do. And I never thought about this as putting off happiness, I thought of this as just not having time. This led me to think a little bit about Flylady (google her if you don't know who she is). She says, in a nutshell, that perfectionism is what holds many of us back from just getting started.

And then the two things collided in my brain and I realized something: I don't have to do things perfectly to be happy, I just need to start doing them. If I wait until timing is perfect to do things perfectly, I'll be reading blogs forever, just gathering more information to add to my mental wishlist.

Here's the practical application: I've been wanting to do a freezer cooking day for about 3 years now. That's where you spend a day prepping your recipes, shopping for ingredients, planning, etc., then you spend a whole day cooking. And you do it with a friend so it's fun. Yeah, well, I don't have time for that. I mean, I still want to do it, and hopefully I will (I have an interested friend lined up!). But who says I have to wait until I have 2 full days to devote? Who says I have to cook everything THAT day? I said, and I was being silly.

So my newest goal is to just pick one of the things and cook it. Get started. Enjoy the time I can spend doing it and when time and energy permit, do more. And not the perfect thing (because you know that the FIRST thing had to be the perfect choice, right?), just something. The time will never be perfect. Where I want to be in life is not something that will happen instantly. It is a journey. Every day I have the opportunity to take steps towards getting there, or I can choose to sit here and wish I could take that first step. Today I choose to move forward.

Disclaimer: It's very hard to write a blog on a laptop when a 3.5 year old is sitting on your left arm. However, blogging is something I really enjoy and I rarely do it because the timing is never right to sit down and write. But I'm not waiting around for perfect timing any more to spend time (even a few minutes) doing something I love. All this is to say I wanted to get this idea off my brain and onto the blog and I've run out of editing/proofreading time and attention. I'll just live with it as is knowing you get the point.

A (hopefully former) perfectionist.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I love August for one reason only - because I love fall and August means that summer is almost over. Fall is beautiful, the weather is wonderful. One of those hot days comes along and I remember why I like warm days. It's a time of new beginnings (I always want to go buy new pencils and notebooks, even though I have no use for them!) - new goals, new ideas, new "I want to finish XYZ before the new year" type things.

This year is no different. Nathan is starting a new school on September first. I may or may not be starting a new work arrangement that same day. This means new routines for everything. We never really settled into much of a routine in the new house and it shows. I am trying to think it through remembering about Murphy's Law and that old saying of whatever can go wrong will.

And of course I'm still trying to work on my goals of losing weight (down 3.2 pounds this week), frugal and green living and cooking whole foods from scratch. I want to get back to blogging on a regular basis, grow a readership and actually capture and retain interest. I am trying to figure out what I want this space to be for exactly and I can't narrow it down. I think for now it will remain a hodge-podge of what I'm thinking about at any given point in time. But I'm open to hearing suggestions of what my readers find interesting for me to talk about.

So here's to the end of August, the beginning of a new month, a new season and new opportunities.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This blog is so boring.

Even I can't stand to read it. Ugh.

The last 8 weeks or so have been absolute chaos. Between the loss of two people I cared a great deal about and the awful process of buying and selling a house, I have not been able to think about my goals, let alone write about them. However, it has not gone unnoticed that no one was really clamoring for more. Can't say I blame them.

I have been thinking about how life-altering my move to a new home will be. There are many things I've wanted to change for my family and for myself and moving will help me accomplish many of them. I hope to use this blog as a way to navigate that journey. I'm a little apprehensive about putting it out there until I can set things in motion, and I can't really do anything until I get in that new house. Less than 2 days at this point, then some time to settle, then the changes happen.

Hopefully I can keep you, my 3 dear followers, posted on my progress. Maybe someone else will read these posts. Maybe not. We'll see.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mid-Month Recap

In my effort to blog more, I'm offering this Mid-Month Recap. I'm checking the pulse, if you will, on my resolutions to see where I need to work a little harder.

Goal #1: Weight. I have not lost weight, in fact I think I found some of last month's. Hoping to change that.
Goal #2: Cooking at home. This is becoming a near-mandatory thing as we need to reduce the amount of sodium we eat. I'm proud to say that 8 of 12 nights I have cooked dinner at home.
Goal #3: Cleaning Kitchen. 11 of 12!!! And the one night I didn't I was dealing with a pretty sick little boy, so I cut myself some slack. Very happy here!
Goal #4: Water. Averaging 20-30 oz per day. Could be better but the lack of sleep has caused me to up my caffeine consumption, leaving less time for water. Again, I blame the sick child. And the sick me.
Goal #5: Turning the computer off at night. 12 of 12!!! Can't wait to see the electric bill go down a whole $.30!
Goal #6: Work towards the move. 4/12. Not great. But again, illness.
Goal #7: Exercise 3/12. Um. I've been sick. Get off my back.
Goal #8: Parenting 7/12. Very unmeasurable and I promise to explain it at some point. But I am happy that I'm paying mindful time toward my goals.

Eating from the pantry: The supplies are dwindling! I have enough to feed us for the rest of the month. Good thing, because I went over my grocery budget this morning. I set a goal of $100 for the month and to date I've spent $108. But the reasons for this were good, in my opinion.

First, I was able to get 4 deodorants for $1 each that are normally $2.69. Instead of spending $12 on 2 packs of hot dogs, I got them for $4. Can't beat that! I also stocked up on frozen veggies because they were on sale and I had the coupons. Regular price: $19.90, sale/coupons: $8. Finally, yogurt. Regular price: $4.50, sale/coupons: $1.50.

I didn't NEED all of that stuff, but it certainly will get used and the prices were too good to pass up on stuff we will need in a week or so. But can I get the rest of the month without going even more over-budget? I'm not so sure. I'm more than happy to stay out of the store though!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

January Wrap Up and February Week One

I've been trying to post for 2 weeks now, so I guess I'll just condense my thoughts into one.

January was a pretty successful month, as far as resolutions go. Usually I abandon them by about Day 3, so I'm happy that I got through the month at least TRACKING my progress. Here's how it turned out:

  1. No Spend: 5 of 31 days. I was only looking at TRUE no spend days, no bill paying, no necessities, etc. Yeah, nearly impossible.
  2. No Drive: 0 of 31 days. Completely impossible. At least right now. I started out trying to at least track mileage, but it's just not happening.
  3. Exercise: 3 of 31 days. I was either sick or lazy or busy all month. Going to have to try harder here.
  4. Intentional Parenting: 5 of 31 days. This is the name I came up with (OK, read on another blog) for what I was thinking about the Mommy thing. More about that another time. Obviously I spent more time THINKING about it than DOING it.
  5. Weight: Went down 6 of 31 days for a total loss of 4lbs. Totally reasonable, so I'm happy. Also, that's 10% of my overall goal, so definitely happy with that.
  6. Cook: 24 of 31 days, which includes days we were not home for dinner but didn't eat out (party one night, ate at a friend's another). Based on my history, this is amazing progress!
  7. Water: I couldn't even track it, so I'm sure I wasn't drinking it!
  8. Kitchen: All dishes washed, sink/stove clear: 14/31. Not too bad!

I know some could use some work (Parenting, Water, Exercising). I'm not giving up and more importantly I'm not beating myself up. I've rearranged the goals for February. I dropped No Spend and No Drive, they are just not attainable right now. I've replaced them with turning off the computer/printer before bed and working towards the impending move. Since the start of the month I've been sick and I'm pleased with my progress so far despite that.

The other goal for the month is a Pantry/Freezer Challenge. As of right now, it would appear we could be moving within the next 2-3 months, so I want to clear out my stockpiles. My goal is to make do with what we have, buying only produce and dairy as needed. I know it's not 100% realistic because a demanding 3 year old will run out of cheese doodles next week, but I'd love to keep the grocery budget down to $100 for the month.

Last month, with the stockpiling, grocery expenditures were roughly $500 - that included diapers, wipes, cleaning products, etc. My savings are estimated at $350, so my TRUE spending should have been over $800. We won't need Cheerios for quite some time and I see a lot of chicken dishes in our future, but we have enough of most stuff for at least the next 2 weeks. That last week is going to be tough, but we'll see how it goes.

Finally, I'm hoping to blog more often. Ideally my thoughts would be more organized instead of all jumbled (you know, like this post), but I had to do a little brain dump tonight so I could get on with my life. I'm trying to make small changes, track progress and work towards building something better and more meaningful than passing my time until I feel like it's the RIGHT time to start trying harder. I can't change my entire life and outlook on it overnight, but I can try to be more intentional in all that I do. That's the goal. And, like I said, more on this whole intentional thing another time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Week One Down

The first official week of the new year is done. I only really started concentrating on my resolutions on Monday, so it hasn't even actually been a week. Of course, one of my unofficial resolutions was to lighten up about things like that, so we won't pay it any mind.

First, the losing weight resolution. As of December 31, I was officially 22 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I only gained 35 through out the whole thing, and lost almost all of it within months of the birth. So in the 3 years since my son was born, I put on over 20 lbs. Yuck. And, I really was still about 10 lbs overweight before the pregnancy, so... I decided to set a very reasonable goal of .5 - 2 lbs of weight loss per week. We'll see how the weekend plays out, but I'm already down 3. Hopefully I'll be able to get exercise into my routine and keep a steady loss going.

Second, and the direct cause of the above, after tonight I will have successfully cooked 6 nights in a row. We'll probably do takeout tomorrow, but then it's back to cooking. I'm not looking to never have a pizza again, but we need to cut back and this is a good start.

Third, the good mom thing. Well, that's a little harder to quantify and a little harder to stick to. I've been more mindful, so I suppose that's half the battle. I've started logging what Nathan and I do throughout the day. I'm trying to find what's just filler and what's meaningful. This is a goal I'm not going to be able to nail down this month, but hopefully flesh out over the winter and into spring.

Fourth, the good homemaker thing. Triumph today!! I had a very successful grocery shopping trip and have another planned for Sunday. This should really stock the freezer and pantry well and I really saved a lot. I've been visiting websites loaded with coupons, printing and clipping and sorting. Then when the weekly circulars came, I was ready. I bought almost nothing that wasn't on sale or that I didn't have a coupon for. I only bought one thing off the list (raisins).

Rather than bore you with the whole list of what I bought, I'll give you the highlights:

Total spent: $143.02. Total saved: $105.19.

Paper towels, 6-pack, Orig. $8.29, I paid $4.49
4 cases of soda (this is for a party, wouldn't normally buy this), Orig. $21.56, I paid $14.68
Tissues, 7 boxes, Orig $13.93, I paid $4.75
Muffin mix, 6 boxes, Orig $20.10, I paid $11 (this is for those days when Nathan wants to bake and I don't want to drag everything out).
Healthy Choice Frozen Meals (8), Orig. $22.61, I paid $8.16
Instant potatoes (for a quick side!), Orig. $1.35, I paid $.55
Meat Analogs, Orig. $9.18, I paid $4.67
Frozen veggies, Orig. $3.98, I paid $1.50
Progresso Soup (6 cans), Orig. $13.74, I paid $3.00
Select Harvest Soup (3 cans), Orig. $7.35, I paid $2.50
Total and Cornflakes (1 box ea.), Orig. $6.76, I paid $3.38
Apples and pears (4 each), Orig. $8.68, I paid $3.01
Approx 6lbs of boneless chicken breast, Orig. $34.39, I paid $20.61

All in all, very successful. I'm very pleased with my progress so far and especially for making such an effort to change things for good, not to go head first into craziness only to drop it 3 days in. Maybe 2010 WILL be my year after all.