H is for How

As in how I am tackling this blogging challenge. Not easily. I feel like I have been behind the power curve all week.

I wrote my first two posts ahead of time knowing I was going to be away all of last week. (I thought I had ‘A’ scheduled to publish but I did something wrong. I think I know what and will test it out Saturday to see if now I know what I am doing.  No betting please.)

Anyway, when I decided to do the challenge in mid-March I printed out a calendar for April, labelled it with the letter for each day and then jotted down topic ideas as they occurred. Some boxes are overflowing, some remain stubbornly blank. I have a few (okay, three, no four!) drafts for various letters written but much of the alphabet is left to be done.

The plan was to write each post the day before it was due.  On the day of,  I would review, edit and publish before beginning work on the next day’s post.  Only I didn’t write the post I planned on writing  Sunday and hence have been playing catch up all week.

The plan is to once again use Sunday to get a head start on the week. Especially this next week as I have three blank letters staring at me. Thank goodness I have the emergency back up plan. I fear I am going to need it!

Tears of Joy

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It is embarrassing to admit but I have a tendency to tear up over sporting events. When I attend in person I almost always have to blink a bit during the National Anthem. I know how lucky I am to live in such a great country but really listening to the words of “The Star Spangled Banner” reminds me of how hard we have had to fight to keep it free.

 

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Photo by  Casey Sapio of USA Today Sports

Often I feel a lot of reaction to great plays in sports.  I think it is weird but I can’t seem to do anything about it.  I know it is just happy emotions spilling out my eyes.  This weekend? University of Arizona basketball.  Senior Day.   Gabe York firing four threes in a row?  Three of them in 54 seconds?  The celebrating joy of the entire Wildcat team?  Visiting the “A” center court as he left his home court floor for the final time? I had to grab a tissue.

 

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Today Peyton Manning is announcing his retirement. Has there been a better professional athlete?  What if all athletes with Peyton’s level of talent also exhibited his other attributes: work ethic, sportsmanship, charity, devotion to team, gratitude? It is hard to stop listing all of the positive things Peyton Manning exemplifies.  Can you imagine a NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Nascar completely populated with players like Peyton Manning?  Yes, there are some other great players out there, Stephen Curry comes to mind.  But there are too many players who are only playing for their paycheck.  Too many who don’t appreciate that raw talent isn’t enough and so they squander it.

It can be a challenge to find good role models for my son.  I hope whoever takes over for Peyton Manning realizes it is not just about what you do on the field, but how you do it.  That with the big paycheck comes a responsibility off the field as well.

I am hoping to watch Peyton Manning’s press conference.  Will I cry?  Maybe.  But they will be happy tears for a career well played and a life well lived.

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Photo from:  http://www.biography.com/people/peyton-manning-37880#related-video-gallery

Thank You Peyton Manning!!

Changes (Part III)

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I cannot believe how the snow has lingered on the Catalina Mountains!

In my continuing quest to make 2016 a really good year I decided I need to take better care of myself. I have my list of habits to work on and I am becoming more aware of just how much of an impact my thyroid issue has on my life.  I came up with the crazy idea to set aside more time just for me.  From 8:30a to 2:00p, Tuesday through Friday to be specific.

It seems a huge amount of time, 22 hours to be exact, but as a mom there are no weekends or holidays or even time in the evenings to relax.  I have become crabby and frustrated and bored with life.  I considered going back to work but that is not what I really want to do.  I want to be here for my son after school and on holidays.  I don’t want to even think about trying to juggle three schedules while planning vacations and camping trips.

But I need a change.  I am tired of cleaning up after my husband and son who are both slobs. I don’t mind the dusting and vacuuming but the unending piles of stuff left everywhere should not be just my problem.   I am also doing all the cooking and laundry and after meal clean up. I have felt like because I am home all day I have to do all the household stuff.  Enough is enough though.  So I am going to try something different.  I will still cook and clean and pay the bills, but I won’t be doing everything alone. I suspect it will take a fair amount of time to make running this home more of a family event,  but having them see all that I do will be a good start.  The idea is that I will feel happier having taken care of myself and I will be able to gently and nicely ask for help with small tasks.

This is another reason I wanted to move my office back upstairs into a room with a door.  I can retreat into my cocoon and work on projects, meditate, read and write.  I will have time to exercise or go for longer walks. I will need to learn to ignore all the things that need to be done around the house, at least for a few hours.

Honestly, I have no idea how this is going to work.   I have to admit I am  excited about the idea though.  I keep thinking of new projects I want to do. Will I be able to place my needs ahead of the household for a that many hours a week?  All I can do is try and see what happens. I might need you to send me a bit courage and perseverance for this one!

Changes (Part I)

I have been doing a lot of contemplating about my life of late. Who I am, who I want to be, how I want to spend my time etc.  Specifically I have been thinking about how I want my days to look in 2016 and how I want to feel at the end of each day. There is much going on in my head and I am not sure how much I am going to share here, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

I think Changes will be a three part blog post, but as the author I reserve the right to change my mind at any given point in time. But here is Part I: This Blog.

Mid-January I will have completed a full year of writing this blog. I have written on a fairly regular basis. Mission accomplished! I know to be a “successful” blogger I need to narrow my focus and work on increasing readers, blah, blah blah. But my definition of success is writing on a regular basis.  I am doing that so I won’t be making any changes. Maybe later this year I will change the background or the format a bit. Maybe I will find my blog does naturally narrow down in scope. Or maybe not. Maybe ‘monkey mind’ will continue to rule. Time will tell. The bottom line is, no changes to this blog for now.

Jammie Time!

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Hummingbird made out of Legos!

Yesterday for dinner I ate: 3 gingerbread cookies, a banana with peanut butter and a vanilla cream chocolate. I haven’t walked the dog since before Christmas. No matter how many loads of laundry I do the piles never seem to grow any smaller. (Once you fall behind doing laundry you are doomed.) I made the mistake of starting a to-do list in my bullet journal for today and tomorrow, the first since Christmas.  When I hit the thirteenth item I got rather disgusted with myself.  Enough already!

Part of me is ready to get back to my normal routine and habits.  Yes, I love sleeping in a bit and all of me loves the extra time with my son. Monday we went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens to see the special Lego exhibit.  Today we did some running around, but tomorrow?  Tomorrow we have a jammie day (or at least morning) planned. We will have cocoa and oatmeal on the floor by the tree, play some games, read books and have a simple, unhurried time together.

Simple and unhurried are two words not heard or practiced very often during the holidays. Right this moment I feel tired. We have been typically busy celebrating just like everyone else.  It has been a struggle to find time to just sit and enjoy the season, by evening I am more than ready for a long winter’s nap.  Right now I am loving the idea of spending extra time in my pj’s and not feeling the push to get a million things done or even do anything in particular.  I want to spend time with my son just being with him.  The other night we snuggled on the couch together and discussed how good our lives are.  It was the best moment of the holiday.  A simple and unhurried jammie morning sounds like another best moment.

 

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In the butterfly room at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

The Things We Do for Love

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Christmas 2 years ago

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Sherlock

My dog Sherlock loves opening presents.  Like crazy loves it.  On Christmas morning we have to give him a present first so he will stop barking and running around sniffing all the gifts looking for his.

I had all the gifts wrapped except for his.  Since we are home together all day I had to get creative to wrap them without his knowledge.  (Plus I have an 8 year old who expects Santa to bring Sherlock presents so there is a lot of hiding going on.  I could see myself forgetting about the “Santa presents” for Sherlock in the trunk of my car and my son finding them so I was anxious to get them wrapped and re-hidden).  I was going to put Sherlock outside for a bit but the dining room table where I have been doing all my wrapping has big windows looking out over the side yard. He would peek, I know he would.  Plus he is a dog so he can smell Petco items.

I tried luring him outside anyway:  “Hey boy want to check the laundry with me?”  hoping he would maybe snooze in the sun and I could sneak back in and wrap them upstairs.  He never left the doorway.  (It was pretty cold out for an, ahem, senior dog.)  Since his gifts were hidden in the trunk of the car I decided I would just have to wrap them in the garage.  The freezing cold garage.  First I had to sneak the Santa wrapping paper out, along with tape, scissors, and gift tags.  After wrapping and hiding the presents in a secure location (high in the garage) I implemented the next step of the fake out.  I brought in the big box of Milkbones we keep in the garage, the perfect distraction!  I refilled the treat jar and then gave him a Milkbone.  Hopefully after that he forgot to wonder about what I was doing in the garage and didn’t notice any Petco smells on me.

 

 

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I don’t know when I will have the chance to post again so, Merry Christmas to all! (Or Happy Whatever you celebrate!)  I hope amid a ton of joy and gaiety you find a moment of peace and time for reflection on all your blessings. A quiet moment to drink in all the lights and decorations, savor the cookies and breath deeply the scents of the season. You have earned it.

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Yes, I put snow on my cactus gingerbread cookie!

The Holiday Creep

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Finished my latest project at the perfect time.

No, not the weird guy who runs around and around our loop, though I do find that a little creepy. I am talking about the  holiday weight creep. I heard on the radio the average person gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. What!? I thought it was four to five.

The week after Thanksgiving I stepped on the scale. I was still in my five pound window but perilously close to the top end. My first inclination was to ignore it. I am not going to stress over every cookie and eating out for the next four weeks.  But I wasn’t sleeping well either and feeling rather crabby.  I had stopped curtailing my wheat and grain intake and I was feeling it.

I looked at the calendar.  It really isn’t that close to Christmas yet. Really I have two more weeks where I should, could and will eat in my normal non-holiday fashion.  This week I have resumed using romaine leaves instead of bread, spaghetti squash instead of pasta and making simple meals like grilled salmon and salad for dinner.  I will remember to be moderate in my tasting while baking treats for the neighbors.  The oranges on our tree are ripe so when I need a snack I have been going outside and picking one to eat right then.  What a luxury!

I do not know how successful I will be in not gaining weight the next two weeks, but I already feel better just for trying.

And All Was Merry and Bright

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How to light a fireplace when it is 80 degrees.

 

I am joyfully spending most of this week at home, holed up wrapping and baking and decorating. Last week? We had frustrating Friday, melt down Saturday and Bah Humbug Sunday. Who knew Monday would bring peace and contentment? Actually, I did.

So the plan was to have most of the holiday shopping done last week. I accomplished that. Whew. But it wasn’t without it’s hiccups. On Friday I had the smart idea to stop at one shopping area with three stores I needed to visit: toy store, dollar store and pet store. Bonus because it was right on the way to the base and commissary shopping. So efficient!  But then I had to go back twice, first because I forgot a bag at the dollar store and the second time to return the scooter I had way overpaid for.  So much for efficiency.

Saturday involved putting up the outside decorations and lights.  Enough said. By the time we got done it was dark, we were tired  and it was too late to start the red cabbage meant for dinner and “A Christmas Story” night.  So I made the executive decision that chinese food would also be perfect with the movie and tasked my husband with dinner.

By Sunday I was tired of all the totes in the house and trying to figure out how to decorate.  Last year’s decorating made me very happy.  I was pleased with where everything went.  I read the brilliant idea of putting decorations away by room so that is what I did.  Only this past summer we rearranged rooms and furniture so I needed a new plan.  I can’t seem to get things just right this year.  For now I am going with the “good enough” method.  I am really happy with the kitchen and family room and that is where we spend most of our time anyway.  And the living room will be fine once we put up the artificial family tree this weekend.  At least that is what I am telling myself. (Santa’s live tree will go up in the family room Christmas week.)

 

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Decorating is all about the lights this year.

 

Now the totes are back in the garage, the over-priced scooter ordered online for $45 less (with the bonus of having fewer days I need to keep it hidden!) and the dining room has been turned into gift wrapping central.  The house smells of gingerbread baked this morning, laundry is tumbling in the dryer and I just got back from taking the dog on a long winter’s walk (okay sunny and 80 degrees not exactly wintry but the forecast says that is about to change.  Yippee!).  I am reveling in my solitude and Christmas preparations.  Make sure to find some peace for yourself in the coming days, please.

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My snow in the desert!  originally I only had 3 large snowflakes hanging down but I didn’t love it.  After browsing Pinterest I realized more would be better!

 

 

Goals for 2016

After a bit of thinking and a lot of doodling I have come up with THE LIST. Since I won’t be starting until mid-January there may still be some tweaks but for the most part this is what I am going with.  They are in no particular order and I will be implementing these habit changes one at a time using the “Zen Habits” method.  I doubt they will all get done, actually if I have just two or three new habits firmly entrenched by the end of the year I will call it success.

  •  Improve eating habits
    • reduce grain intake and search for healthier grains
    • keep sugar intake low
    • avoid chemicals, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
  • Steps
    • experiment with grain free recipes
    • eliminate processed treats (no more store bought cookies, desserts etc)
    • decide ahead of time when I am going to break my rules and keep track

Goal: better sleep, better mood, less joint pain

@ I am already doing most of these things to some degree but I want to try a little harder.  I have begun looking up all the ingredients on things like crackers and cereals and researching to find the healthiest flours.

  • Increase my physical activity
    • longer walks with dog (10k steps per day goal)
    • yoga
    • jump rope
    • biking
    • hand weights
  • Steps
    • create a schedule
    • start small

Goal:  better sleep, better mood, tone muscles, increase upper arm strength

@ this one is going to be tough because I don’t really like to exercise. I also need to be flexible and adjust my routine to fit the time of year.  Swimming in the summer instead of walking for example.  But this is where the Zen Habits will be very helpful.

  • Meditation
    • two 5 to 10 minute sessions per day
  • Steps
    • start small
    • be patient with myself

@ I had already started on this goal, I thought it would be a good one to give the “Zen Habits” method a practice run with.  But then I got sick and now I need to start over.  Such is life.

Goal:  peace of mind, better focus

  • Writing
    • finish writing something, anything
  • Steps
    • set time or word count goal
    • investigate entering some contests

Goal:  to write enough that I can think of myself as an author, to feel a sense of purpose, to add another dimension to my day.

  • Photography
    • take better photos
  • Steps
    • watch a Great Courses DVD I bought this year
    • read blogs about taking photos
    • look into photo editing software

Goal: become a more knowledgeable photographer

@ I enjoy taking nature photos and am ready to up my game.  The last few years I have made myself a calendar and I want 2017’s to be fabulous!

Hopefully I will have the patience to take my time and attend to each new habit properly.  This time next year my days will look very different if I am successful.  I am looking forward to change, feeling better and discovering who I can be in this next phase of my life.

 

The Ability To Do Nothing

I wish I had this ability. And what exactly would the definition of ‘nothing’ be?  Meditating?  Sitting in the sun?  Staring mindlessly at the television? Hmm.

Anyway, I have been fighting this oddball sinus issue that could last weeks more. Things are getting better but I still have bouts of vertigo and the occasional headache. I have been trying to take things easy but…. while the last thing I want is to be sick at Christmas (which happened last year and really sucked) there is just so much to do.

I have always been a work first and then play kind of girl but the problem with being a stay at home mom is the work is never done. I have been struggling mightily with trying to balance my life. I am making progress in the right direction.  I am doing much better with single tasking, taking breaks and focusing on enjoying tasks, or at least the results from chores.

I have every intention of feeling joy with everything I do the entire holiday season.  I may not succeed but I certainly intend to try.  And if a task isn’t bringing me joy in some way why am I doing it?  My holiday season will run from December 6th, St. Nicholas’s birthday through January 6th, Epiphany.  Lots of fun stuff is planned but I will be sure to include some down days as well.

This week will be busy with all those once a month tasks:  church Guild meeting and luncheon, change counting and once a month bowling league.  Hoping to get most of the Christmas shopping finished too.  And I have to put away autumn which always makes me a little sad.  Autumn is by far my favorite season and I feel annoyed when everyone rushes into Christmas  before Thanksgiving is even over.

But the two weeks after this one?  I will be happy to spend lots of time at home wrapping and baking and adding decorations gradually.   I even plan to find some moments to simply sit and take it all in.

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I did get this Christmas beauty out to use for the Guild luncheon tomorrow!