Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Martha, Mary, and Me ... (Me, Myself, and I...?)

For Lent this year, I'm saying a rosary each day for one (or more) of my friends, and keeping them in my thoughts and prayers throughout the day. I'm really loving it! I feel like, for the first time in several years, I'm actually doing something for Lent. And I could/should talk more about that, but that's not what prompted me to post today.

The issue I've been having is that in order to get my rosary in each day, sometimes I need to multi-task and do something else at the same time. Not something that requires any mental work, but some mindless physical stuff. Washing dishes, folding laundry, using the treadmill, etc. But rather than being pleased that I'm saying the rosary, I've been feeling guilty that I can't sit still (or kneel!) and just. pray.

I've had a lifelong interest in/struggle with the whole Martha/Mary scenario. I've always been a Martha and always felt that I should be more of a Mary. I can be contemplative, I can sit still, I can pray. But shit needs to get done, and someone needs to do it. A lot of the time, that someone is me.

Recently - within the last year - it dawned on me that Martha became a saint, too. Ah ha!!! I started feeling better about being so busy; about being so "anxious and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41). Ok, so it is better to be sitting at the feet of Jesus, prayerfully conversing with him, turning our minds to higher matters. But Martha became a saint, too! I thought: she must have done something right! Right??

Well, tonight I had a new revelation. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better portion and it wouldn't be taken from her. He did not, however, tell Martha to be another Mary. And I think this is how Martha became a saint. She did what she was supposed to do. She stopped worrying about what Mary was or wasn't doing; she stopped looking outward to see how other people were serving our Lord. As I'm fond of bringing up: she kept her eyes on her own work.

God calls us to know, love, and serve Him, but only as each of us can serve Him.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?
~ 1 Corinthians 12:14-19

So, I've decided I don't need to become Mary. Or Martha. I need to be me. I need to become the best possible version of me. I need to be who God made me to be. When I'm required to behave as Mary did, I should do that. When I'm required to behave as Martha did, I should do that. But I'm going to have to do everything as me, because that's who God chose for the job.

And to realize I'm already fully qualified is quite a relief.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeling Like the Titanic - in More Ways than One.

I need a makeover. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. I am a wreck. And because I’m so far from where I want to be in all of those areas, when I think about all I want to change, I get overwhelmed. I start to feel like I’m drowning, and with every attempt to get my head above water, I push myself further and further beneath the surface. Glub. Glub. Glub. Glub.

I am a Catholic. I was raised Catholic. I’ve never not been Catholic. I went through my phases in college and young-adulthood where I certainly wasn’t living a very Catholic lifestyle - but I always felt very bad about it. I never considered not being Catholic. I like being Catholic. So it would stand to reason that I am happiest when I’m being a good Catholic. Now, of course, this could mean lots of things to lots of people – even within circles of “good Catholics.” To me, it means not only fulfilling the bare minimum obligations of going to church on Sundays and holy days, going to confession once a year, receiving communion, etc. Those things are a given. For me, what I aspire to is a more meaningful prayer life (read: a prayer life, period.) I want to take what I have learned from the Gospel and the lives of the saints and implement those things in my own life. I want to lead a life that, even if I were on hidden camera, anyone watching would know I was a Catholic and I could be proud of my behavior. This is not, um, currently the case.

I’ve been at the same weight, within 5 lbs., for about 2 years. My mother congratulates me on this. “Wow! You’re so good at maintaining your weight!” Sigh. Yes. I suppose I am. The problem is, this is not the weight I want to maintain. I want to get down another 10-15 lbs. and then maintain that weight. The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, or lack of a plan, or trying so hard and nothing working. The problem is me. I am the self-sabotage master! I am a pro at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I will lose a pound and then hope I'll somehow continue to coast downward while I scarf down several handfuls of spicy almonds, and chocolate cake, and ice cream. I end up feeling like a blubbery, roly-poly, jiggly marshmallow. Boooo.

Sucking at so much takes a toll on a person. It gets inside your head that you suck, and then you can’t hear anything else. Every kid’s whine, every dirty dish, every dusty surface, every lame text message adds its voice to the one in your head. It’s a chorus of “yoooooouuuuuu suuuuuuccccckkkkk.” And repeatedly hearing that you suck might possibly, if you're someone like me, make you cry. Cry, cry, cry. Last night, I thought I lost my ipod. Even worse, I thought it was stolen by the 2-year-old, which pretty much meant I would never see it again. I spent a good half hour - after everyone had gone to bed and after I should have been in bed - searching and bawling, bawling and searching. I wasn't crying JUST about the ipod, of course, but it certainly set things in motion.

I can't think straight lately. I'm easily distracted. I miss the point of jokes and cause trouble when I say "what?" too many times. I'm listening, I just don't get what people are saying!! I tried calculating the difference in race times the other day and got it wrong. A very simple problem, and I didn't even catch the mistake until several days later. I used to be a math whiz, of sorts. I got a 730 on my math SAT's (a few <ahem> years ago). And now I can't subtract??  I even misplace things - like ipods.*

I'm at a point where I feel like Frances at a certain part in Under the Tuscan Sun. I tried to edit down this video, but couldn't. The part I'm talking about is from 6:52-7:55. (But I do recommend the whole movie. It's one of my favorites!)

"You're sad! Again! You're like a big black hole!"

Yes, that's me. A big black hole of misery. I'm feeling hopeless and crappy and crappy and hopeless. And bitchy.

Sigh.  I attribute a lot of these feelings to PMS, but I hate to say "PMS" because I don’t think most people take it seriously. I think it’s safe to say that 90% of the world sees PMS the way it’s caricatured in sitcoms. “Yeah, yeah, yeah – it must be her time of the month. What a bitch!” But for me, and surely others(?), it’s a very real internal warzone that wreaks havoc on every aspect of my life. It’s not as simple as being in a bad mood. I feel like a completely different person who can’t get out of my own way, and I can’t sidestep the nastiness no matter how hard I try. (Please tell me I am NOT alone in this!!)

Remember in the movie E.T., how the flower - what was that? a marigold? - was somehow directly connected to E.T.'s well-being? When he was dying, the flower was dying; when he was coming back to life, the flower perked right up, and that's how Eliot knew he was going to be ok. Well, if you would like to know the state of my well-being - emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, whatever - take a look at the state of my house. If it's a mess, I'm probably a mess, too. If it's neat and tidy, then chances are I'm probably in pretty good shape, too. And I'm not sure which begets which, but it's probably a chicken-or-egg scenario. It doesn't really matter which comes first, though. Messy house = messy life. And right now, my house looks like someone turned it on its side, then upside-down, then right-side-up again.  Everything is kinda in the right place, but none of it's good.  It, like me, is a wreck.

So, if I can't fix me, I'll fix my house. I'll focus on these external things and hope to be miraculously internally transformed. I'll doing laundry. I'll sweep the kitchen. I'll clean the playroom. It will keep me busy and, more importantly, it will restore some of my sanity. And sanity is a good place to start.

*After finally giving up and going to bed, I found my ipod in my nightstand drawer - just where I had left it the night before.  Glub.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Much To-Do About Nothing

Whoooooops! I guess I forgot about this blog for a few days. So much for the 30-day challenge. But it's all good. I don't think I've disappointed too many readers (LOL!!) and I'm here now, so...

Today I want to talk about...[<pause> decide what you want to write about and then continue like it was your plan all along.]... Daily To-Do's! Ah yes, that's what I want to talk about!

I have been struggling with this for days, weeks, months - maybe even years. For me, it's not enough that things get done. It's not enough that they get done when they get done as long as they get done. No. I need things on a schedule so I know they'll get done *when* they're supposed to get done. They'll be done by the correct person at the correct time. My house will run like a well-oiled machine because every chore is clearly outlined on a calendar from now until the end of time!

<sigh.> Only in my dreams. And ok - that sounds a little crazy now that I type it out in black and white. But I do like things ordered. I do like things neat & tidy - - not just my house, but the manner in which I run my house. And it's not because I'm a control freak. Or, I should say, it's not just because I'm a control freak. It is also because I, like most people, don't enjoy chores and cleaning, and the more "automated" those kinds of tasks become, the less time they take to do, the less of a big deal they are, and the faster you can get on with life. And by life, I mean all the stuff we WANT to do!

But here's the problem. Every time I come up with a system, part of it works and part of it doesn't. So I keep readjusting and reformulating and redesigning, and we end up with NO PLAN AT ALL. If I were my kids, I'd get pretty frustrated that I couldn't just pick something and stick with it. But they're young and they'd get in trouble if they told me that, so I'm safe for another year or two.

My latest plan involves a large magnetic white board. Ideally, this is what will be on it for each new day:
  • the day of the week
  • the date
  • the day's forecasted weather (so the kids know what to wear)
  • the day's planned dinner (so I'm forced to think about it before 4:59pm)
  • each person's chores/plans for the day
  • any additional notes about that day (birthday party, playdate, holiday, etc.)

It will be a nice little (ok, not-so-little) hub of information for the whole family. Some things (the weather, dinner) will just be for reference. Others (everyone's chores) will be for checking off. The kids will know what they need to do (without being nagged by Mama). I will have good reminders for the stuff I want to get done. I really think things will run more smoothly around here. Or, at least I will feel like they are running more smoothly - - and that's what it's really all about! How Mama feels!

I'll try to check back when I get everything in place and let you all know how it's working. Or how it's not working - and how I plan to fix it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just Showing Up, Folks.

I'm in such a foul mood today.  It's one of those days where I want to disconnect from all social networking, cancel all communication with the outside world, and move to a cave in the mountains (in a warm climate where there are no dangerous animals, of course).

I've wasted my whole damn day making invitations for my son's birthday party, taking waaaaay longer than I needed to, and they still came out relatively lame.
I haven't exercised.  I haven't prayed.  I'm living like a person who's depressed.  Am I depressed?  Maybe.  But to admit that is to admit that I'm being selfish because I always think selfishness is at the root of depression.
So, am I being selfish?  Oh, most likely.  Man.  I hate it when I figure out stuff I don't want to know.
Suck it up, chick.  Get movin'!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Prayer, Exercise, and Self-Improvement

I was not nice this morning.  My 10-yr-old daughter was leaving for school and I asked if she had her snowpants with her.  She didn't.  We had a quick conversation about why - none of it was very important - but I ended up saying something snide intended to make her feel guilty.  Why did I do that??  Completely unnecessary, unhelpful, and just not nice.
We had a few more words before she left - - I was trying to lighten the mood without actually apologizing for being a jerk (again, not very nice) - - we said our "I love you's" and she went out the door.
"What kind of crappy mother had I become?" I immediately asked myself.  Seriously, I'm constantly wondering - usually out loud - where my kids get their bad attitudes, and I don't need to wonder.  I have a bad attitude.
I pictured Mary talking to 10-yr-old Jesus and was sure the conversation would have gone a little differently.  (Ok - it's a little comical to imagine - but this really is how my brain works.)  Suddenly, I felt like such a slimy troll.

"Here you are given these beautiful children to love and take care of and you treat them like such an annoying inconvenience!"  (That's me talking to myself.  Mary would, again, probably have nicer words to say.)
So I decided I needed to start praying; praying merely to be a nicer, gentler mommy.  I decided that I will say one whole rosary a day asking for assistance with this.
Not long after I made this decision, I received a Facebook invitation asking to join others in an 18-day rosary novena praying to overturn the recent HHS mandate.  So I decided to piggy-back the two.  A rosary for "nicer Mama" will double as a rosary for overturning the mandate.  That's two birds with one stone!
And guess what? I have all the rosaries on my ipod.  I decided to kill three birds with one stone.  I plugged my ipod into my treadmill and added exercise to the mix!  Walking & running and praying - excellent cardio!  Good for the heart and soul.

They have the Couch-to-5k running program.  I highly recommend C25K to anyone who, like me, is NOT a runner.  It gets you running a 5K by the end, and it pushes you just enough outside of your comfort zone each week to show you what amazing things you can do.  I'm going to create the C25D (couch to 5 decade) running program.  Start out by running only during the Our Fathers and by the end, you're running for the entire rosary!  Ha-ha! I'm joking. Kind of.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm Not Ready!

But I don't think I'll ever be ready.
I'm talking about sharing this blog.  I feel like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade.
I just need to step out and see what happens.  And hopefully, I don't plunge to my death!  Not likely, right? Right?!?!

All kidding aside, I think getting this blog "out there" is good for a few reasons.
1. What's the point of having a blog if you're not going to let anyone read it?
2. I'm kind of tired of talking to myself.
3. (And this is a big one...) If I'm going to work on my new year's resolution of not worrying about what people think of me, this is a great opportunity.  It will be a good exercise in humility.  I think.

So... here goes...?

Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Got The Shakes!

Ha-ha!  Protein shakes, I mean.
I've been making some variation of these shakes for quite some time now, and I thought I'd share how I make them - my current version anyway.
I drink one of these for breakfast, and for the next week anyway, I'll be having another for lunch (or dinner, if the need to CHEW comes at lunch time).

Protein powder - 1 scoop.  At present, I am using something I don't recommend.  It has a lot of good stuff in it, but it also has sucralose (splenda), and that's something to really stay away from.  But I bought it a long time ago, and I hate throwing away perfectly good (ha ha - you know what I mean!) stuff.  When it's gone, I'll probably be switching to Jay Robb Whey Protein.  A bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for, right...?
Chia Seeds - 1 Tbsp.  I use the Nutiva brand.  I bought them at GNC.  They were on sale for buy one get one half off, so I bought 2 packages.
Fiber supplement - (just under) 1 Tbsp.  I have some Medibulk from Thorne Research leftover from the cleanse I did with PEERtrainer, and I've been putting it into my shakes.  But I won't bother reordering any more when it's gone.  But I also won't be using the Metamucil I used to take.  There's 8 grams of sugar in one serving!!  I might replace it with ground flaxseed or just leave it out all together.
Spinach - 1 big handful (about a cup).  Fresh.
Mixed berries - 1 cup. I use Wyman's Triple Berry Blend.
Coconut milk - 1 cup.  I use So Delicious, unsweetenend.  I used to use the canned coconut milk, lite and  regular, but I prefer the much larger serving size of the kind in the carton.  It makes a better shake.
Water - 1 cup.  Without it, the shake would need to be eaten with a spoon.
Blend and enjoy!!

I use a stick blender.  I bought it a couple years ago to blend homemade vegetable soup into drinkable soup.  I put all the ingredients in the big cup, blend it there, and drink it right from that cup.  After trial and error, I've learned that the best order for adding the ingredients is this: spinach, dry stuff (protein, fiber, chia), berries, coconut milk, then water.  If you're using a regular blender, I don't know what order would be best.
Also, for quick shake-making, I pre-single-serve what I can.

The water and coconut milk, I pour as I need it, but the spinach gets put in ziploc bags.  The berries get put in 1-cup containers in the fridge.  Leaving them frozen makes the shake too cold for me to drink, but I know a lot of people would prefer that.  The protein powder, fiber, and chia seeds all go in to containers together, and I store them in the pantry.
When I'm running late - as I was this morning, and as I do OFTEN - it's nice to know I can make a shake in about 1 minute from start to finish!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

At It Again...

Tomorrow I'm restarting a cleanse/diet/whatever.  Protein shakes, veggies, water, exercise.  Same ol' same ol.    I'd go into more detail, but I've tried and failed so many times, I'm a little leery of making a big deal out of it.  If I see some success and manage to continue on for more than a few days, I'll talk more about it then!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is this what is meant by "It will blow your mind!"?

So, there are these things called "mashups" where 2 songs are blended together to make one new song.  I know these have been around for a while, but my interest in them has been renewed.
There's this guy, "Mighty Mike", who puts these things together, and it really is so cool!  My brain hears both songs individually - and together!  And I wonder how he knew they would work together and not sound like a big mess.
Here's my favorite one so far:

Friday, January 27, 2012

There but for the grace of God, go I.

[I'm not sure where I'm going with this...yet.]
There's been a lot of talk in the last few days from various bloggers* and online articles and status commenters about not being judgmental of other people.  This, of course, is not a new concept.  "Judge not, lest ye be judged," and all that.  I know all this.
Yet, we - - we, as Catholics; we, as Christians; we, as plain old good people - - are called to be discerning, to figure out good and evil, to have opinions about who and what we encounter in the world.
My new year's resolution last year was to be less judgmental.  To me, that meant I was to feel less superior about the various choices I had made which differed from those of other people.  It meant being less snarky, and having less of a knee-jerk reaction of thinking, "Well, THAT'S stupid!!" when faced with someone who didn't make the exact same choices I would have.  To be honest, I think the year went quite well.  I do think I've become less judgmental.  And I feel good about that!
My new year's resolution THIS year, is to feel less judged.  So far, this is proving to be quite a bit harder.  It is very difficult for me to say, "I don't care what others think of me" and actually mean it.  But I am working on it.
I read an essay a while back called "What you think of me is none of my business."  It's good to re-read this once in a while.
Ok... so I'm in a weird place now.  Not judging people, not feeling judged...  How the heck am I supposed to use Facebook??

*Disclaimor - I almost didn't want to link to that article.  I'm worried that there's some back-link system that will bring people here from there and this blog isn't ready yet, and I'm just yammering on and haven't gotten serious about my writing yet, and <sigh> I'm trying to feel less judged.  : /

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crap! I Missed a Day! : (

Booo.  I missed a day in the 30-day challenge.  Grrr.
And I thought of writing two entries today to make up for it, but it's already 10pm, so it'll be just one.
Here's the reason I didn't write yesterday...
I won tickets to the Matt Nathanson concert, including passes to the pre-show sound check.  It was really cool!  But the whole day needed to be orchestrated carefully so I could go, and I was busy from the moment I got up in the morning.
But go I did and had a fantastic time!  I got to spend time with my sister on her birthday, have a night out sans Mommy duties, and listen to some great music!  Fun fun fun!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(non)Dairy Delight

Today marks day 7 of little to no dairy for me.  I didn't plan on cutting it out, but it kinda happened, so I just went with it.  Last month I did a cleanse - not a stupid, unhealthy cleanse, but a healthy, nutrient-rich, non-allergenic cleanse - and it was stated by one of the people conducting it, that excluding dairy from her diet really cleared up her skin.

Well, I only made it through 10 days of the 14-day cleanse (and maybe more about that another time), but I did notice my skin was fantastic!  So smooth and clear!  And my skin isn't normally too bad, but washing it in the shower, I could really tell the difference in how it felt.  Like glass, I tell ya!
So the cleanse didn't go exactly as I hoped (ok, yes - I will talk about this some other time), and I kind of fell off 4 wagons at once, and that was one of them.
But last week, unlike me, I tried a new diet.  I don't like "diets."  Anyway, I did 2 days of the Dukan diet (protein only) and then planned/tried to go back to my pre-cleanse diet of protein, veggies, a little bit of healthy fat, and small portions of rice, beans, lentils, etc. With that there is no dairy.  After a few days, before I really noticed dairy was missing from my diet, I noticed that my skin felt awesome again!
Oh, yeah!!  No dairy = clear skin, apparently.
The true testament?  I got my period today and my skin didn't produce one speck of a blemish!  Amazing!!
So, I'm obviously not lactose intolerant - and I'm not swearing off dairy forever (isn't ice cream made from dairy??) - but it's definitely a good little piece of info to possess.  Don't ya think??
Oh, and another thing.  I take calcium supplements for the couple weeks before my period to alleviate pms symptoms and reduce cramping.  So, ironically, increasing calcium and decreasing dairy helped me this week.
Have any of you (you know, "you" - you phantom readers I hope to have some day...) had any experience with foods affecting your skin like this?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Really Bad Day... And I'm OK.

Today was the kind of day that as soon as I start recounting all the bad crap that went on it, I get tired of typing - - partly because there was so much crap, and partly because now that the day is over, it just sounds like whining to me.  And I hate whining.  In all forms.
But it was a really crappy day.  Bratty kids, sick kids, fussy kids, bitchy me, pms-y, psychotic, "feel-like-my-head's-going-to-pop-off" me.  Last-minute doctor's visit, double ear infection, older kids' playdate cancelled, speeding home to retrieve children, waiting around to get other daughter off bus, back to pharmacy to get antibiotics, loooong wait for medicine, insurance card issues, kids still need dinner, more whining children, kids fighting after going to bed... UGH!!!
Long story short. I made it.  Several times today I almost posted on facebook how bad my day was, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  It's not even that I didn't want to whine.  I just didn't want to seem like I was whining.  How sad is that??  But whatever - - I still made it!  I managed not to blow a gasket.  I managed not to scream (anymore, after the morning) at the children.  I managed not to burst into tears at the pressure of doing everything required of me today.  And it was just when I phrased it that way in my head - - "all the pressure of what's required of me!!" - - that I no longer felt the need to whine.
It seemed like one of those First World Problems you hear about.
I prayed for strength - and got it, apparently.  Thanks, God.  I know it was you who got me through today.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bare Minimum

It's 7:42pm and I'm already in bed. So tired.
I bought myself, and am now drinking, some chamomile tea. I haven't been sleeping great at night (probably part of the reason I'm so tired!), so I'm hoping this will help me stay asleep tonight.
Because this challenge is all about just showing up, I get credit for this lame post.
Now if I can just figure out how to publish this from my phone.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day #4

OOPS! Almost forgot about blogging!!  Good thing I set myself a reminder on my phone to go off once a day!  That phone is my brain, and without it, I'd be so much dumber and absent-minded.
I give myself reminders for pretty much everything.  Playdates, doctor's appointments, kids' early release days.  A few days ago, I set myself a reminder for December 24th, telling myself to make sure that we all stand to the side of the Christmas tree, rather than in front of it, for our family picture.  There are so many of us, and our tree is so small (by comparison), that we always end up hiding the fact that it's Christmas except for an inch of a tree branch here, a smidge of the star there, and tiny corner of a present next to someone's elbow.

Ok. So there you have it.  Automatic phone reminders.  That is my secret weapon in combating the inevitable "mommy brain" you acquire 5 seconds after peeing on the stick.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blog and Chew!

I have a rare opportunity here.  2 of the 3 little boys are napping (usually, it's just the 2-yr-old), and the third one is playing oh-so-quietly in the playroom.  I should be getting stuff done, but instead I'm blogging!!!!  Do you see why it's hard to keep up with this thing??  There's always something that needs to be done, and blogging seems like such a luxury.  It really seems like a big, fat waste of time.
But I'm doing this because it's part of my 30-day challenge.  And I chose this challenge because it is something I want to do.  Or, at least, I think it's something I want to do.  I think I want to have a blog and/or write a book.  Everyone tells me I should.  But maybe it's just because they find my life interesting (just the fact of having 6 kids is a REALLY big deal to some people), and not because they think I'd be a good writer.  And people have enjoyed things I've written in the past, but whenever I go back and read something I was proud of at the time I wrote it, I'm always a little ashamed and embarrassed.  I think, "Well, that was kind of... crap."
So this challenge is also a test - - an experiment.  Let's see if Tiffany can write!  Let's see if she's any good at it, but let's also see if she can physically put pen to paper... er... fingers to keyboard!... and write something!  And for now, "something" will also mean "anything" just to get words down on the screen.
That takes care of the BLOG part.  Now, on to the CHEW part.
I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by blogging while I eat my lunch.  Then I wouldn't feel so guilty about sitting down at the computer.  A girl's gotta eat, right?!  But I can't type and hold a bowl and a fork at the same time.  And I was so hungry, that putting the bowl down wasn't really an option.
Now I'm done eating and can type.  (Don't make me feel guilty about sitting here when there is a ton of laundry to fold right in the next room!)
I wish I had taken a picture of my lunch to post here, but alas, as I said, it's gone.  Enter, google images...

It was better than this one appears it would taste, but you get the general idea.  (Mine was also probably twice the size!  It was fantastic!  Gigantic garden salad, homemade dressing, and topped with baked chicken breast.  Really - so yummy!  The salad had romaine, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, red & green peppers, and tomatoes.  The dressing was a version of this recipe, but I used lime juice instead of lemon, granulated garlic instead of fresh, and I added some of the creole seasoning I put on the chicken.  I didn't follow that recipe either.  I rarely do.  It's not that I'm such a great cook, but I almost NEVER have everything on hand that an online recipe requires.
Ok - 2 year old awake.  Time up!  And, I still have to take a shower before the kids get home from school! Not that my kids care, and not that I care if it were just going to be my kids, but one of them is having a friend over and I want to look presentable when her mom comes to pick her up!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Love this time of year!!

It's tax time, folks!  It's definitely one of my favorite times of the year.  I love getting big chunks of money deposited into my bank account!

What's that you say?  It's all just a scam by the government to make you grateful for giving you what was yours in the first place, that they took without asking??  Yep. I know.  Don't care.
I'm looking forward to paying off (O-F-F, off!!) some gigantic bills that have been hanging over our heads and starting from ground zero on our budget plan again.
I have a great budget system in place, and when we (and I say we, but it's really I who does most of the spending around here) follow it, great things happen!  We have less bills, we go on vacation, and money goes into this thing we created a while back called a "savings account."
If you're looking to get on track, I can recommend two helpful tools -- two things that have helped me.

  1. Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps.  We've never gotten through all of the steps, nor have we followed them to the letter, but his advice does work and it can get your head looking in the right direction.
  2. Ace Money Lite (the FREE version!).  I started using this program 6-7 years ago.  It's really just a glorified check register.  And I still use my paper register to track my checks and receipts, etc.  But this program has a unique feature that has changed my life.  It forecasts your spending and tracks your income so you can see your cash flow BEFORE you get into trouble.  As I recall, it takes a good bit of time to set it up initially (entering all your bills - monthly, yearly, etc.), but it's so very worth it!  No more bounced checks, declined debit cards, or unnecessary surprises!
Oh, and one more recommendation - - Turbo Tax!  I have done my/our own taxes for the last 10+ years using this site and I've never had any problems!  It's easy, thorough, and fast.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

30 Day Challenge

My friend Alecia posted a link on Facebook to a guy talking about doing a 30-day challenge.  It could be for anything, but it has to be for 30 days in a row.  I didn't want to choose something diet or weight loss related because I focus on (obsess about...) that stuff enough.  So I decided to blog for 30 days in a row.  Just write write write.  I'm sure it will end up being just as exciting as an everyday diary, but I'm not going to think about it.
To get the creative juices flowing, I've decided to use (which I found by googling "random topic") to give me an idea each day.  I may not use the exact topic given, but I'll use the suggestion to jumpstart my post.
I recently got new phone.  I had been a Blackberry user for many years.  I loved it for a long time, but over the last year or so, I started feeling like I had the moron of the smartphone world.  The apps available were pitiful, laughable, and mostly non-existent.  So when my Blackberry died twice in one week (for no real reason at all), and I found out I was eligible for an upgrade, I went for it!

I got the Samsung Mesmerize - Galaxy S. (Not the new II that has been in commercials, but similar/older I'm guessing.)  It's so great!  TONS of apps to choose from, touch screen, user-friendly. From what I hear of the iphone, it sounds like it's very similar without the high price tag or random expensive glitches.
The only thing I don't like about it is having to hold the phone carefully so I don't accidentally click on something when I'm just trying to read something.  Darn touch screen!  But all-in-all, I love it!!