Monday, February 28, 2011

My Next Goal...

Well, as I mentioned before I did not succeed at my Feb. goal.  I think I was on the right track, but I just didn't make it the priority that it needs to be.  So I will continue to work on it through March along with my new goal.  If by the end of March I don't feel that I am succeeding I will make it my only goal for April.  The plan is to exercise every day.  The way to accomplish this is by doing it first thing in the morning.  if it hasn't been done by the time I banish the kids to their room for a little alone time (around 1:00 pm) then I will do it during alone time. 

As for my March goal, I really think that it is time to reduce clutter.  My house, in general, is pretty clean at all times.  Still I have certain nooks that collect stuff.  So I should be able to tackle 20 of these spots over the next month.  Some of the spots are very small, like a single drawer.  Some are larger projects, like the pantry by my back door.  I will try to post before and after pictures, but in truth the before pictures may be too embarrassing :-)  So wish me luck as I begin this next self improvement goal!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How do I hate thee Walmart? Let me count the ways...

I am feeling the need to wax poetic about all the reasons I loathe Walmart.  Now this morning I actually went to my local supercenter, and considering it was Saturday morning the trip was fairly painless.  Still by the time I left the parking lot I was tired and annoyed.  Why? you ask.  Well, there are many reasons...

1. The parking lot-- I have nothing against the handicapped, but seriously our local store has over 30 handicapped spots.  Really??? And on any given day less than half of them have cars in them.  So the majority of shoppers have to walk quite a ways to even get into the store.

2. The carts-- I don't know if all the carts are awful, or if I have an uncanny knack for picking the awful carts.  It seems that every time I pick a cart it squeaks, pulls to one side, or is sticky.  Of course I don't discover this until I have made it into the store.  By then it is difficult if not impossible to make it back out of the store to exchange it for another one.

3. The 100 year old greeter-- Ok, I am going to forget being pc here.  The old guy smiling at me with his ill fitting dentures gives me the willies.

4. The layout-- The store is HUGE, and for some reason they have the pharmacy and cosmetics center directly opposite the food section.  So of course I always forget to get the stuff I need there, or if I do make it over there I have to wander through other departments.  This is a problem for an ADHD person such as myself because I find myself considering buying snuggies because they are such a good deal.

5.  The prices--  I am the first to admit that often times their prices are the cheapest, but this is not always the case.  Plus, although in every other store in the known universe, it is cheaper to buy in bulk.  At Walmart I spend the whole trip trying to figure out which size bottle of ketchup is most economical.

6.  The Selection--  For a store as big as it is they have a woefully inadequate selection of certain products.  For example although there is virtually a whole aisle of paper products they have no recycled paper products.  There are literally 8 kinds of Doritos, but only one kind of brown rice.  I am guessing that I am not the only one who would appreciate a bit of variety in the non-junk food selction.

7.  The stupid electric carts--   I understand that some people have difficulty making it around a store as vast as Walmart, but those aren't the people in the electric carts.  I have news for you, if you are too fat to walk around Walmart, you probably shouldn't be shopping at a store with a cookie aisle bigger than the fresh food section.

8.  The check-outs--  First they never have very many open.  I don't understand why they have 40 checkouts when they never open more that 10 at a time.  Second, the people who work at them, in general, looked as thrilled to be there as I am.  Often times they seem to be working as slowly as possible.

9.  The cart return--  They never put cart returns in smart spots.  So if you want to be responsible, you have to either walk away from the store to return your cart or walk it all the way into the store.

10.  Business practices-- There are obviously many reasons to hate Walmart for their role in the American economy. The fact they they played a bait and switch by going back on their early promises of selling American made products. The fact they they treat their employees worse than indentured servants. The fact that they go into communities with the express purpose of getting rid of all the competing businesses in the area. I could go on, but I won't.

So there you have it. All the reasons not to shop at Walmart... That begs the question, why do I sho at Walmart??? I'll get back with you about that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Late Update

I know it has been more than a week since I posted.  I have plenty to talk about, but I kind of feel like hibernating.  I just feel really lazy lately, and since I have quite a few commitments that can't be shirked, I have been sluggish on the few things I can be (like cleaning, cooking, and this blog.)

As for the exercise goal I set for myself it is getting bypassed too.  I knew that setting a goal this month was tricky, but since I have not actually exercised since the last time I wrote in this blog I think I will have to say I failed my Feb. resolution. I will have to try it again (and soon.)

It is ok though because at least I have maintained my January goal of being thankful.  In fact the past week has given me one especially great reason to be thankful.  A few days ago my Mom ended up in the hospital with chest pains.  All the symptoms she described sounded like a heart attack.  Plus, for my Mom to voluntarily go to the doctor, much less the hospital, scared me.  My Mom and I are very close, and the thought of her being gone was unbelievably scary.  Couple that with the fact that I had to maintain a strong front for the girls, and it was exhausting.  Luckily it turned out that her heart is just fine.  She has some severe form of reflux as a result of her gall bladder surgery.  She needs to stay on prilosec for the rest of her life.  I was so relieved to hear that she was ok.  It was such a jolt to consider that someday she might not be there for me, and I am so thankful that today is not that day.

Bear continues to have meet after meet in gymnastics.  She is doing very well, but she is on a team of girls who get all around titles at every meet.  So far she is handling it well, but sometimes I know it is tough for her.  Three or four of her teammates come home with an all around trophy after each meet, and although she is placing, her bar scores are keeping her from those trophies.  On any other team she would be one of the stars.  Still she is having fun most of the time.  I am so impressed with her work ethic, and her team spirit.  She even has the right attitude about her awards.  She got first place on vault at her last meet.  I can't deny her excitement at standing on the top of that podium, but on the way home all she could talk about was how doing the vault felt.  The actual experience of the meet overshadowed the experience of the awards.  I could not wish any more than that for her.

Curly Q. is experiencing some growing pains.  When she was little and we considered public school for her I talked to the school about moving her up a grade.  They were not opposed to it, but they cautioned me that even if a child is ready for the move now there are often problems in a few years.  So we decided to homeschool her and accelerate her schooling.  So she has always been working a year ahead, and that has worked well for us.  For some reason she has also always made friends with girls who are at least a year older than her.  Even in a group with kids much closer to her age she always fit in best with the older kids.  Fast forward to the present... Many of her friends are starting to notice the opposite sex.  Her best friend has been doing it for a while, and Curly Q. was ok with that, but now that it is all of her friends she feels left out.  She is just not there emotionally yet.  Couple that with some other factors, and she is really struggling.  I keep wondering how difficult this situation would be if we had moved her up a grade in public school.  At least in this instance I can really help guide her through this.

Lastly, we bought a minivan.  Correction, we bought a really nice minivan.  In fact it is the nicest vehicle I have ever owned.  Originally, I wanted to get a basic minivan that would allow me to haul some extra kids around.  We went to a dealership, and picked one out.  They had to have it delivered from another dealer so we planned to go back later in the week to sign the papers and pick it up.  When we left I was relieved to know that I would have a reliable vehicle again, but I really wasn't all that excited.  The next day, as I  was trying to get info together for the insurance company I came across info that made me realize we were not getting a good deal on the van.  So we tried to work something out, but eventually the deal fell through.  So on Saturday, although we were terribly busy, we took the time to drive to a huge dealership up north.  My husband somehow talked me into the van we ended up with.  It is so much nicer than the one we had originally planned to buy (costs more too), and I thought I would feel bad about buying a luxury item for myself.  I am a very practical woman.  I don't tend to need a lot of pampering (especially in a vehicle), but... I LOVE THIS VAN.  I can't explain it.  When I get in it to go somewhere it makes me feel good.  Part of it is the simple fact that the radio works, but it is more than that.  The inside looks really nice, not just new, but nice. 

And so, there are all the updates that I should have been making all week.  I will try to do better, but to be honest I am just trying to survive til April.  Luckily I have so many great things in my life that they offset the craziness.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I never did much as a child that involved competition. I was always "the smart kid", but since that just made me an outcast I never saw it as a great talent. When I got a little older I was involved in "artsy" type activities, not ones that had winners and losers. I tried volleyball for a year, but that didn't stick.  I was on math team and speech team, but I enjoyed preparing for those more than I enjoyed the actual competitions. So when both my kids insisted in doing competitive sports I was at a loss as to how to handle it. 

I handled Curly Q's dance very poorly.  I partially blame myself for the fact that she got so overwhelmed with it.  I knew nothing about dance, let alone dance competition, and the learning curve was steep.  By the time I figured it out it was too late for me to be any help to her.  I do know that competition doesn't sit very well with her, but I wonder if that is the product or cause of her troubles in dance company.  By the time she quit dance company her spirit was broken and her love of dance was fading fast.  She has spent this year trying to find it, but I am not sure it will ever get back to the level it was before.  Was this destined to be because of her personality?  Could I have handled things in a way that preserved her enthusiasm and allowed her to strive to be better?  Was it because of her teachers attitude?

Fast forward to Bear.  Her experience in the dance company was fine.  A combination of great teammates and the fact that she didn't really think of it as competition allowed her to escape unscathed.  Then she joined gymnastics team.  In some ways gymnastics is much more competitive than dance was, and Bear is far more competitive than Curly Q will ever be.  She wants to do well, and when she flubs up it makes her mad.  Still, she handles the pressure so differently than Curly Q did.  Somehow she manages to let that fuel her.  Is it because I am so much more at ease with gymnastics?  I mean at least I understand most of the scoring in gymnastics (as opposed to dance).  Is it her amazing coaches who in Claire's words, "...know exactly the right thing to say to me...?"  Is it because her team has the perfect balance of personalities?  Is it because they are winning?

Her team is doing really well.  They are ranked 31 in the whole country!!!  There have to be over 1500 teams in the country.  That makes her team is one of the top 2% of teams in the country.  It's a lot easier to be good sports with that knowledge.  But I know it is more than that because Bear isn't one of the top scorers on her team, and sometimes that bothers her.  She never gives up though.  Each meet she sets some goal for herself, and she has met most of them because she makes them challenging, but within her means.  What 7 year old can do that?  I certainly couldn't do it at 7.  So a big part of her success has to be her natural inborn attitude.  Which is a good thing since that's the thing she will have with her forever, no matter what else happens.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Perfect Weekend

As I keep saying I have so many things in my life to be thankful for.  This weekend gave me lots of reminders of how fortunate I am.

It started on Friday after noon.  Bear had a gymnastics meet in the city.  John was supposed to meet us there, and I was dreading the drive into (and back out of) the city.  Well, he called me shortly before Bear and I were planning to leave and told me he was coming home early to get us.  I was so relieved!

Bear's meet was the biggest women's artistic gymnastic meet in the world.  Gymnasts came from all around the world, and six gyms had to be set up to accommodate all of them.  It is easy to feel lost in such a large crowd, but we didn't because she has such a great team.  The girls are all great, and all the families get along too.  So as we sat down to watch our girls compete in this huge meet I felt as comfortable as if we were at our own gym.

Things began ok.  Bear had been nursing a sprained toe, and they started on floor.  The flip flop that ends the floor routine had been terribly painful, but she managed to make it through the routine, and scored 8.95.  That is not her personal best, but it is a decent score for her.  Next the girls moved to vault.   I was especially worried about her vault because in practice her run had looked awkward with her foot taped.  I couldn't really see the vault from where we were sitting, but the scoreboard showed a 9.175 which was slightly better than her personal best on vault.  The bars came next, and during warm-ups she struggled.  When her turn came I couldn't breathe through the whole routine.  When it was over I was so relieved, but anxious to see her score.  She has struggled with bars every meet, and her personal best was barely over an 8.  So I was shocked when I saw the 8.7 flash on the scoreboard.  At this point I started doing math in my head.  At Bear's gym the girls get special charms for getting a 36 all around score.  Bear REALLY wanted to get a charm, but I didn't think it would happen this year.  As I worked the numbers I realized that she needed a 9.175 on beam to make it to 36.  The beam scores had been high that day, but she had never scored anywhere near that.  Still as I watched her warm-up I saw a look of determination.  She mounted the beam, and from beginning to end she was more focused than any 7 year old should be.  Her dismount was darn near perfect.  When the score popped up 9.325 we could hardly believe it.  She had made her 36 all around.  Her teammates did equally as well, and the team took first place out of 30 teams!!!

The next day John and I went car shopping.  I need a new car, but car shopping makes me crazy.  My family never had a car payment when I was growing up, and I HATE having one now.  Still, John had done so much of the work before hand that we basically went to the dealer told them what we could afford to pay monthly, and they found us a new minivan.  Our salesman was knowledgeable, but didn't make me feel taken advantage of.  The bottom line is we are picking up our new Dodge van on Thursday.

Sunday was a lazy day at home.  Sometimes days like that make the kids crazy because John and I aren't entertaining them.  This time they took the initiative.  While we were watching tv in the bedroom  the girls decorated the living room and planned a valentine's surprise for us.

It was so sweet (and unexpected).  So last night we dined on pizza in our decorated living room as the girls provided entertainment that was hysterical. 

A weekend like this makes me remember just how good I have it!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who knew exercise could be so much fun??

It's funny how my goals for the year are all building on each other.  Last month finding an outlet for my thankfulness led to me writing more.  In fact I can almost count that goal as met.  This month as I try to fit exercise into my life I find that it is leading to me spending more time with Kali, and it may even lead to me scheduling more field trips.  For example, yesterday we went sledding.

Now before someone rolls their eyes and says that isn't exercise. Think about how much work it is to climb up the hill over and over and over again.  I was sweating and my heart was beating hard.  So in my mind it definitely counts.  Here are some pictures from our fun active trip.

Who knew exercise could be so much fun!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What could be better???

So here's the thing.... I have no intention of even attempting to exercise today.  Last night I went out with friends, drank too much and had almost too much fun.  So today I am paying for it.  Add to that the fact that these same friends are coming over this afternoon for the Superbowl and I think I have a perfect excuse to skip exercise today. 

What I am doing today is cooking.  So today is bound to be a great day.  Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, and days when I have a reason to cook for make me very happy.  So today I am making chili which I find especially fun since I make it slightly different every time.  It is almost like a work of art.  I start with the regular stuff, and then John and I spend the day fiddling with it.  Adding a bit of this and a bunch of that.  It is as close to being an artist I ever feel.  I am also making cheese dip and guacamole.  For those I stick pretty close to my perfected recipes although I never measure anything.   The girls also wanted to serve cupcakes,  and so I baked those this morning, and the girls will be decorating them this afternoon.

So I know today will be a good day.  We have hosted people for Superbowl Sunday often enough that it doesn't stress me out the way the entertaining sometimes can.  I am thankful that I don't feel the need to impress the friends who are coming over.  It is nice to have people who just accept who you are around you.   As for the game, none of us really care who wins.  For us today is about enjoying good friends and good food.  What could be better???

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More Thanks

Just because I have moved on to another goal doesn't mean that I should forget about the previous one.  And in fact the past week has been full of things that may at first glance seem to be problems, but could have been so much worse. 

For example, last night as I was driving from Curly Q's dance to Bear's gymnastics class I got a flat tire.  When I recognized it I was not in a safe place to stop so I had to turn into an unfamiliar residential area.  I parked under a street light and assessed the situation.  It was clear that the tire was shot.  I had a spare tire in the trunk, under piles of stuff meant to be taken to the donation place. I also had one of those portable jacks and a bent tire wrench.  I decided to call AAA because it was so cold out (and because I am a woosie).  They tell me it will be an hour which is much longer than I expected.  I debate changing the tire myself, but I know it is difficult to find a place for the jack on this car.  So first I call my husband to pick up Bear, then I clean out the trunk, and finally Curly Q. and I wait.  When the hour is almost up the driver calls to say he is running late.  So we wait another half of an hour.  Finally he shows up.  he hasn't brought his own tire iron so he has to use the crummy bent one we have.  It takes him 10 minutes to figure out where the jack should go, and one time I fear that the car has fallen on him.  Once the car is in the air it becomes clear that he didn't loosen the bolts on the old tire before he lifted the car.  So it is very difficult for him to get the tire off.  Finally he is able to get the tire changed, and we go on our merry way home.

So what is there to be thankful for in that situation?  Well, first I am so thankful that this didn't happen during the blizzard.  Second, I am thankful that I had filled my tank up with gas so we were able to run the car some of the time while we were waiting.  Third I was thankful it happened after John got home from his business trip.  I am not sure what I would have done if he wasn't around.  So there are three really lucky parts of the situation.  This looking at the bright side of life stuff is working pretty well!

On the exercise front I am doing ok.  After the day of shoveling Curly Q. and I did exercise by playing a dancing game on the kinect.  It got my heart rate up, and I did get a bit sweaty.  Still I don't think that I should count on it for every day exercising.  It was a lot of fun and a great bonding experience with Curly Q.  As for yesterday, I did not exercise.  I know it was only the third day, and as such I should feel really ashamed, but I don't.  Part of the reason I am trying to exercise every day is so if I miss a day I don't have to feel too bad.  I will get back on the horse today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day One Success

Well mother nature decided to help with my exercise goal for today.  We had a blizzard and with frigid temperatures on the way I felt the need to clear my driveway today.  What that meant was 4 hours of shoveling. 

Bear in mind that I HATE to be cold.  Still it was a matter of pride that I was able to do it.  It also led to an epiphany of sorts.  Things like shoveling snow and mowing the lawn are exercise, but I do not mind them.  It is exercise for its own sake that I have trouble prioritizing.  I know that is not right, but it is true. 

One way I am trying to combat this time is to include Curly Q. in my exercise program.  She does not gravitate towards physical activity any more than I do.  Other than dancing, which she is doing far less now than in past years, she has no other hobbies that involve sweating.  I have no problem prioritizing her health even if I don't make my own important.  Also,  I am hoping that it can be an adventure we go on together.   So in that way I am working on another goal of spending one on one time with each of my family members.

So tomorrow, barring another blizzard, Curly Q. and I will start our adventure.  I want to keep it fun so we will use either the wii or the kinect.  We have several games for each that qualify as exercise.  Also, we will begin tracking progress using wii fit.  Wish us luck!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Goals

Even though January was such a success I still have lots of work to do.  Here is a refresher of the goals I have set for myself for 2011.

1. Nurture my family relationships
* More field trips
* Delegate more
* More one on one time with each of my family members

2. Nurture my soul
* Slow down
* Practice thankfulness
* Meditation

3.Nurture my relationship with the world
* Write more
* Volunteer regularly
* Reduce clutter

4. Nurture my body
* Serve at least one vegetarian meal per week
* Start a maintainable exercise program
* Spend at least 10 minutes outside each day

Now I need to narrow down the list.  Since I just finished a goal that nurtures my own soul I think I should pick from another category.  Also,  February is going to be one of the busier months so anything that will require extra time is out.  That leaves:
  • Delegate More --  this sounds stressful, I better save it for after I learn to meditate
  • Write More -- this one seems to be taking care of itself via this blog
  • One Vegetarian Meal per week -- better when fresh veggies are easier to come by
  • 10 Minutes Outside -- should start this one when going outside won't result in frostbite
  • Start an Exercise Program -- I wan to figure out a reason that I can't do this now, but I can't
So I guess that is the new goal.  I will begin an new exercise program that I can and will continue as part of my routine.  Just as I have added blogging and being thankful to my life I will make exercise a priority.  I think that I need to begin by doing it every day.  I am less likely to shirk a responsibility that is an every day occurrence.   So beginning tomorrow morning I will exercise every day.  It has been long enough since I exercised regularly that I do not know what a reasonable amount of time is for me to start with.  I will say that by the end of the month I will be able to exercise for 30 minutes without feeling the need to call paramedics. 

Wish me luck!!!

Thankful for Thankfulness

It's been longer than expected since I last posted. Late January always puts me in a funk. Winter seems to be dragging on with no end in sight. Sunshine is hard to come by. I am sick of my winter clothes. My skin and hair are dry and brittle. The kids NEED to get outside. Add to that the fact that, even though it is my decision not to go to Disney any more, I feel like I am missing out on the fun there. The good news is that when February comes I start to feel better. I feel like there are only 28 short days until the beginning of spring. So one of the things I am thankful for is that February is here.

It doesn't feel right to be thankful that time is moving so fast. I have had that problem my whole life. I remember not being able to wait for the next thing to happen even when something great was happening. Maybe all kids feel that way. I see Curly Q doing the same thing. Even when we are in the middle of a party I will hear her say, "I can't wait for tomorrow!". It worries me to see her wish away time as it worried my mother to see me do it. Unlike my mother, however, I understand where she is coming from. I also believe that she can look forward to tomorrow and enjoy today at the same time.

So I guess this thankful month has come full circle. The thing I am most thankful for is the wisdom to realize that I need to be thankful for everything. This month has been full of ups and downs. In some ways it was one of the most challenging months of my life emotionally. I feel good that I made it through fairly unscathed. As I continue on this year's journey I will continue to recognize the little things I should be thankful for. I won't be posting about them every day, but I think I have made being thankful a part of my daily life, and so I feel that I have succeeded in my first resolution. I will start another post with my resolution for February.

I'll end with a few great quotes about thankfulness...

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. Woody Allen

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. Oprah Winfrey

I'm thankful for every moment. Al Green