Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Late Night Musings...

It's after 11:00 pm.  I have had an extremely long day, and I really want to be asleep.  But my head is so full of the day that when I lay down all I can do is think.

We are still diligently working on raising the funds for Bear's trip to nationals, but it is SO stressful.  The first problem is that one of the families truly NEEDS to raise money for this trip.  Even after we have paid the coaches fees they are not in a comfortable place.  I am so thankful that we are ok, but even if we weren't I would like to think that we wouldn't be freaking out.  This family is freaking out, and it is making everyone else so edgy.  The second problem is that in order to offer sponsors a tax deduction we have to go through the booster club.  That should be fine, but the woman who does all the work for the booster club is unavailable because her father died.  The woman she said to contact is not returning calls.  The woman who is returning calls doesn't know anything.  The treasurer who is supposed to know things is being a big jerk.  I am thankful that a new booster club board is being elected within a couple weeks.  Also it seems that there are all these regulations as to what we can and cannot use the funds we raise for.  The booster club won't even let us use the money we raise for the girls plane tickets.  I am thankful that most of the money we are collecting won't have to go through them at all.  The third problem is the time crunch.  Five weeks from today we leave for Orlando.  I don't like to plan a personal vacation in that amount of time. Planning a big multi-family trip complete with fundraisers is damn near impossible.  Still I am thankful that the girls have this kind of once in a lifetime experience.

All this may not even matter because Bear has injured her heel.  It has been quite sore for 2 weeks.  She finally got to see the sports doctor that comes to the gym, and he wants her to get an x-ray tomorrow to rule out a growth plate fracture.  I am thankful that she was able to see such a specialist for free at the gym.  I feel so guilty because I know that she injured it showing off her back flips on hard floors.  I didn't think it was a big deal, but apparently I was wrong. 

I was doing well with my resolutions, but I am beginning to think I should have put the one about meditation earlier in the year.  I am feeling so anxious I can hardly breathe right now.  I am thankful that I see to be the only one putting so much pressure on me.  I have supportive people around me that remind me that they want to help, and that they respect how I am handling things. 

I am doing ok with my April resolution of spending more time with each girl.  It is ironic that just when I tried to make this big time commitment to them, all this other time consuming stuff came up.  I would say that I am about 50% of the way into making the extra time a habit.  I would say I am about the same amount into my exercise goal.  It doesn't feel like nearly enough, but it is better than nothing.  I am thankful that I am making some progress.

So there you are.  These are some of the thoughts that are keeping me awake.  Really it is mostly worry about Bear's foot.  I thought for sure it would be better by now.  I am nervous about what the doctor will say tomorrow, but I am thankful that we should have some answers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Let me start by saying that my Mom knew how to do holidays.  Every holiday involved a huge production.  Decorations, presents, food, games with prizes.  Every holiday was an all day affair.  It also was very materialistic.  For example, for Easter we would get our entire summer wardrobe, plus outside toys, plus candy.  Then we would play games and win more stuff.  It was awesome as a kid, but I just can't do it now...

You see I try really hard not to buy extra crap.  I hate spending money on stuff that I know the kids won't still be using a few months later.  I hate that I end up taking bags of stuff to GoodWill, and that I throw bags of other stuff in the trash.  I also hate HAVING to buy stuff.  Every year I buy less stuff because it is the socially accepted thing to do.  Even at Christmas I have been trying to take it easy.

So it is no surprise that Easter which really shouldn't be materialistic at all drives me crazy today.  Truly a basket with a bit of candy and a big chocolate bunny should be enough, but it isn't.  People get their kids bicycles, ds games, movies, swingsets, etc.  It seems that it is an excuse to give your kids a bunch of spring/summer junk.  Well, I can't do it...

I was lucky because my girls decided to make baskets for each other this year.  So I set a budget of $50 and made them stick to it.  They did an awesome job.  Curly Q. bought clothes for Bear because Bear trusts her to pick out "cool" stuff.   She also gave her things like lip gloss and perfume.  Bear made a basket full of art supplies which Curly Q. LOVES.  Of course they also put a healthy amount of candy, and a giant chocolate bunny in the baskets.  PERFECT!

Of course there is also the egg hunt.  When I was a kid we would have a giant egg hunt.  Dozens of eggs were hidden around the backyard.  Most were filled with candy, but there were also special eggs.  The special eggs won the finder a prize of some sort because of course a giant basket of stuff wasn't enough.  The prizes ranged from board games to a 3 lb solid chocolate egg, but I just can't do it...

In order to not be a bah humbug I did buy one dozen eggs and a bag of mini peanut butter cups.  The plan was to hide them around the backyard, and then let the girls could re-hide them for each other several times.  Of course my mom got wind of this and showed up with an extra couple dozen eggs.  So the girls had about 3 dozen eggs filled with candy and coins to search for in the back yard.

The last part of holidays is one of my favorite parts.  FOOD!  I love to cook, but of course everyone ha their own ideas about the traditional fare for each holiday.  My husband, who is from Iowa originally, can't have a holiday without ham.  Usually his parents are at our house for each holiday too, adn they feel the same as him.  We even have to cook both a ham and a turkey on Thanksgiving!!!  For some reason, this year I just couldn't do it...

I don't really like ham, and I wasn't in the mood to cook it.  Since my in-laws weren't coming I took the opportunity to skip the ham.   They had pork shoulder on sale at the store, and although I had heard of it, I had never cooked it.  So for Easter dinner we had roast pork shoulder (which was unbelievably delicious), gravy (which was as delicious as the pork), purple mashed potatoes (which tasted just like regular mashed potatoes but were made with purple potatoes, apple chutney (which made a 50/50 split as to who liked it), asparagus (my favorite veggie),  fennel apple salad (which was bland due to bland fennel), and deviled eggs (gotta do something with the dyed eggs).  All in all the meal was good, and it was fun to try some new things.

So Easter was pretty good.  Definitely not the Easter of my youth, but I did what I could and took help for the rest.  At least we are done with the materialistic holidays for a while.  Although I am sure my mom will figure out a reason for a Memorial Day present...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More News

So I know I said I would shut up about gymnastics, but something pretty incredible happened.  Bear and six of her level 4 teammates were selected by the Illinois branch of USAG to represent Illinois at the national competition in six weeks.  This competition is the ONLY way to get a national gymnastics title at level 4.  Needless to say we are so happy for the girls, but it means trying to come up with a substantial amount of money in a tiny amount of time.  You see in addition to transportation costs for Bear and any members of our family that are going, we have to pay for the coaches. 

I guess this is customary, but it was a bit of a shock to all of us.  One of the coaches has pretty much said that she would pay her own way, but the other coach is a college student and can't afford it.  After a bit of coercing the gym offered to pay the coaches entrance fees.  Still this trip will be a stretch for us.

So tonight we are meeting up to figure out some fundraising options.  We are planning to sell candy bars. That has a good rate of return, but of course the profits add up very slowly.  Another parent suggested pan handling in front of grocery stores.  She said that her daughter's cheerleading team made $2600 in one weekend.  Curly Q.'s dance studio did a fundraiser at a local pizzeria where a portion of the profits on a single night went towards the studio.

The thing is I HATE fundraising.  For my kids regular activities I never do it.  I would rather scrimp and save then hit people up for money.  This is a special circumstance though.  First this is not just a regular activity.  Getting asked to represent your whole state is pretty impressive!  Second, there is no time to scrimp and save.   Six weeks to come up with thousands of dollars is scary.  So I guess I will have to swallow my pride and do it...

In light of my thankfulness resolution, I need to remind myself that although the planning process is stressful, I am truly thankful that Bear has this amazing opportunity!

Oh and BTW, I have been making good on all my promises made here.  I spent an hour alone with Bear shopping for a birthday present yesterday, I have been continuing to find 15 minutes each day for each girl, AND I actually exercised again this morning. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 1 (of the Rest of My Life)

I did it!!! I got up this morning, and it was gray and rainy and COLD.  I stumbled to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.  Then I snuggled up on the couch with the coffee, my laptop, and Bear.  I was happily reading blogs when I remembered that I made a plan yesterday.  I wanted to stay put.  I REALLY did, but I knew that I couldn't blow off my exercise goals again.  So I got up.  You can't imagine how much effort that took this morning.

I went downstairs and pulled out the exercise machine.  I stretched for 5 minutes; then I did 4 sets of 4 minutes walking 1 minute running; finally I did some strength exercises for 5 minutes.  In all I did 30 minutes, and I felt tired but good afterwords.  Truly the biggest feat was getting off the couch in the first place.  I plan to work out the same way for the next week, and then bump up the intensity.

The last part of the plan I made yesterday was to schedule an hour with each girl each week.  Curly Q. doesn't have dance on Friday, so after we drop Bear off at gymnastics I think we will go out to dinner.  Once again finding time for Bear is difficult.  I am going to ask my Mom to keep Curly Q. for a bit either today or tomorrow so Bear and I can have some personal time. 

Finally, as you can see I made good on blogging, but I thought that I would post something I am thankful for too...

I am thankful that I have recently developed several great friendships.  I am not always the easiest person to get to know.  I think sometimes I get too wrapped up in my own head and my own goals, but over the past 2 years I have been working to put myself out there more;  I have been trying to invest more energy in these friendships, and I have been trying to trust other people more.  I must say it is working out pretty darn well.  And so today I am thankful for friends :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mid-Month Update

So it has been a couple of weeks,  and my April resolution is going pretty well.  I think I have incorporated the 15 minutes per day per kid into our schedule very well.  It has turned out that it can't really be something I plan for, but rather when the opportunity presents itself I take it.  Sometimes that means I sneak into one of the girl's rooms during reading time.  Sometimes we have time in the morning before the other sister wakes up.  Sometimes I stay extra long at bedtime.  I have to say I have really enjoyed the conversations I have had with Curly Q. during these private times.  I also love how cuddly Bear gets during them.  So I would say that the extra 15 minutes is a great success already.

I will give the hour per week mixed reviews.  I managed to find the extra hour for Curly Q. both weeks.  The first week we went to get her hair cut, and it was a fun bonding experience for us.  The second week we went out to dinner and shopping at Target.  Once again we got to spend time chatting which is what Curly Q. does best.  Finding the time to spend with Bear was more difficult for a couple different reasons.  First, she is at gymnastics 9 hours per week.  That severely limits the time she and I can spend together.  The second reason is embarrassing... I knew that our time together would be very different from the time I spend with Curly Q.  You see Bear like to play.  Legos, dolls, cars, store, school, I could go on and on.  The problem is... I don't really play.  I didn't really play when I was a kid.  I LOVE to create so when we play Legos I can build lots of cool buildings, but that isn't what she wants to do.  She wants to pretend that I own a gas station and she drives her Lego car over to buy gas.  I admire her own creative spirit, but I really don't enjoy that kind of game.  I did make time to play with her last week, but I think going forward I need to come up with something we can do together that we both enjoy.  I am considering cooking because I like that, and I think she would too.  I also think that the hour needs to be planned for as opposed to just finding the time as I have been doing.  So starting this week I am going to do that.

As for all my other new found habits... I need to get back in the habit of posting here.  One way to do that is to renew my habit of acknowledging the things I have to be thankful for.  So starting tomorrow I will try to post once a day.  The posts may not be very long but at least I will put something out there.  I am still doing a great job with my decluttering.  It is going a bit slower than I expected, but I am making slow steady progress towards a clutter free life.  In fact I decluttered our basement and created a great space for our whole family to work.  This leads to my renewed interest in exercising.  I now have a nice open space to workout in, and so starting tomorrow I will try for 30 minutes per day.  I think the easiest time will be while the girls are watching their morning tv show.  That way it is done before the day gets away from me.

So as a recap, I am planning for the extra hour of personal time with my girls each week.  I am getting back in the habit of blogging every day, and I am exercising every day in the morning.  Sounds like a great plan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Resolutions... Just a little late...

As you can see from the calendar it is April 5th.  Where was the resolution update for April?  Well, I have been pretty sick, but how does better late than never sound?

First a recap of my completed challenges.

In January I learned to practice thankfulness.  I truly think I have incorporated this into my daily life.  Even though my last post may not have seemed like it.  even highlighting the things that I am not thankful for gave me opportunity to look at how petty those things are when compared with all the fortunes in my life.

February was the month I tried to start exercising.  It didn't work, and it still isn't happening...  More on that later!

Last month I took on clutter.  It is an even bigger project than I imagined.  I decluttered many areas big and small, but there is always more.  Still I feel like I am making progress, and the attitude seems to be catching on.  Yesterday,  as a family, we spent hours decluttering the basement office.  My hope is that by the end of the week it will be done.  Past that there are many small projects left plus two big projects.  I think the larger projects will have to wait a bit, but I will continue to tackle the little areas consistently. 

That brings me to April.  I haven't yet tackled a resolution from the "Nurture my Family Relationship" category so I think I should look there.  That makes my choices More Field Trips, Delegate More, and More One on One time.  I think based on the stresses of the past few months devoting more time to each member of my family is a good priority.  So now I need to figure out an action plan.  It is all well and good to say, "I want to spend more time with my family."  It is an entirely different thing to define exactly what more time means and devise a plan.

So, here is the plan which I hope to modify as I go.  Every day I need to spend at least 15 minutes alone with each kid. This time will be spent chatting or snugging whichever seems needed at the time. I will keep track of this nightly.  Additionally, every week I will spend at least one hour doing something alone with each kid.  What that means will be different for each kid and different each week.  For Bear it will probably be playing legos or a game of some kind.  For Curly Q. it may be going out for coffee or shopping.  My plan is to work on the time with the kids first, and then add time with the hubbie, and maybe eventually time with my mother. 

My hope is that by devoting blocks of time to individual people everyone will feel more valued.  In turn maybe I can stop feeling guilty and stretched past my limits.