The Power of Three and New Year’s Resolutions

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I used to make long to-do lists – 10 items at least. I would get so frustrated because I could never get them all done. Usually, I only crossed off a few of them. I felt like a failure. I mean, I’m home ALL day – I should be able to get more done. Since then, I learned that I wasn’t a failure. My list was just too long. Ten is not the magic number. Three is.

Three is manageable. Three pushes me a little, but not so much that I give up. Three helps me focus better and accomplish the most important things.

So, with that introduction, I’ve chosen three broad goals for 2014.

  1. Health
  2. Home
  3. Happiness

Why these three?

  1. Well, for the past 10 years, I guess, I’ve wrestled with fibromyalgia. Add to this a love of (addiction to) sugar and a recent switch from stay-at-home mom to sedentary accountant. What do you get? Fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and an extra 30 lbs.
  2. I have my dream home – a little, 1916 farmhouse with nary a picture on the wall and little space for accumulating things. I’ve also noticed that when I’m organized at home, everyone’s day runs more smoothly.
  3. The first two goals started with ‘H’ and really, who couldn’t use more happiness?

I’m planning on sharing what works for me as I work on these goals during the year. I’d love to read your great ideas, too, so feel free to share.

Happy New Year!

-Jennifer

 

 

 

Changes on the Farm

My husband and two youngest kids went camping last week. Since I was out of vacation time at work, I stayed to take care of the growing herd of animals. (Since I really don’t like sleeping on foam pads anymore, I was happy to miss out.) Anyway, while I was doing the morning chores on the “farm”, I lured a few of them closer so I could take their pics.

Here are our two newest members. My daughter and her friend named them T-Bone and Brisket. How can we eat them? They’re so cute!

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But wait! There’s more!!

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I know he looks dead, but he's actually getting a good scratch in.
I know he looks dead, but he’s actually getting a good scratch in.

 

A new batch of chickens because coyotes ate almost all of the others.

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Balancing Work, Family and Guilt

I’m feeling guilty again. Is it just one of the plagues of motherhood? Guilt for working full time while my kids are home all summer. Never mind that they sleep until noon. Guilt for not working part-time instead of full-time. Guilt for enjoying my time at work.  Guilt for vegging in front of the TV or computer when I get home from work instead of making dinner with them.  Guilt for not seeing my kids as much as I’d like because they’re teenagers and would rather hang out with their friends than their nerdy mother.

(Speaking of which, my 16 year old son just blew in, introduced a new friend, rattled off his plans, grabbed two frozen pizzas and a bag of Cheetos, and raced upstairs to grab who-knows-what.  I won’t see him again until midnight so I purposely stood at the bottom of the stairs so he HAD to hug and kiss me before he left.)

I know that guilt DOES have a purpose. When my oldest daughter was in high school, she used to accuse me of making her feel guilty. I reminded her that sometimes we feel guilty BECAUSE we’ve done something wrong. As a mom, though, it can be hard to distinguish between guilt that is for a purpose and guilt so we can beat ourselves up for not being the perfect person we’ve concocted in our minds. Sometimes I announce that maybe I should quit my job. The kids just look at me like I’m crazy. So that means I’m just going to have to use the guilt to help me find balance. Meal planning or Pinterest? Dinner or TV? Taking necessary time to relax or fiddling away the entire evening after work? Doing dishes with my kids so we can chat or watching more TV?

I think I have my answer. I can’t do it all, but I can certainly pick what’s most important to me and my family and concentrate on that. I feel better already.

 

 

Newport and PicMonkey

What do these two things have in common, you ask? Not much, but I’m battling a case of insomnia so it seemed like a good time to play around with the photos I took when the family went to Newport, Oregon last month. I’ve never used PicMonkey, but I’ve noticed that many bloggers do cool things with their photos so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The only thing I did was crop and clean up my pictures and add my blog name (which I really think is cool!).

Anyway, our condo was on the bay, so I took a few pictures when I went for a walk.

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Typical cool, Oregon coast weather and gray skies.

 

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I think I'm going to take a picture of my feet whenever I go on vacation. I actually like my feet.
I think I’m going to take a picture of my feet whenever I go on vacation. 

 

There’s still a month left for vacationing.  Camping anyone?

 

 

Paradise

Our family returned from a 10 day vacation in Maui last week. It was the perfect place for me to relax and rest my mind and body.

There was time to sit and listen to the ocean. I’m amazed how the sight and sound of  rhythmic, crashing waves always clears my mind.

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The entire family snorkeled together many times. Besides sitting on my butt and reading a book on the beach, I think snorkeling is the most relaxing activity ever.

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Honolua Bay

 

My youngest two.
My youngest two.

 

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My handsome husband.

 

I started to notice the little wonders of nature….

 

 

        First, I noticed this little hole in the sand….

 

Then I met the builder.
Then I met the builder.

 

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We stared at each other for awhile.

 

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While the boys went for a bike ride at Makawao Forest, the girls enjoyed an outdoor breakfast near the ocean. We were joined by some cute birds who were definitely used to being fed.

Sometimes we just stopped to absorb the beauty.

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and breathtaking sunsets.

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I miss you already, Maui!!!!

Mother’s Days

The extra ‘s’ is intentional in the title. Mother’s Day started yesterday for me. Here’s a list of the things that have made the occasion special to me.

Saturday

My husband took the day off work. It’s very special to be able to just hang out together. We went to breakfast where I seriously wolfed down my hazelnut french toast in half the time it took him to eat his food.

The Farmer’s Market opened for the season on a beautiful warm and sunny morning. I love the hometown feel of the Farmer’s Market in a town that isn’t small.

I took a big nap.

There was a mini jazz band festival going on in a few downtown restaurants. We went to our favorite Thai Restaurant and enjoyed dinner and a show! Then we strolled through a little antiques mall recently opened by a friend’s son, and lastly stopped for frozen yogurt – pomegranate raspberry. Deliciously tart.

Sunday

Slept in till 10 am. My youngest made me breakfast in bed – apple pancakes, sausage and juice. She was so sweet. She was concerned that the pancakes hadn’t turned out right. I took a bite and her suspicions were confirmed. My plate was whisked away and she whipped up an entirely new batch of pancakes which we shared in my bed. She was feeling bad about it until I reminded her that she doesn’t yet know the universal truth of motherhood – in the future I may forget what she made me for breakfast, but I’ll never forget the love that I felt.

This is last year's breakfast.
This is last year’s breakfast.

My husband and kids made pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner which is one of my favorites. My mom came over and we opened cards from the kids (me being one of the kids).

Best of all, I don’t have to do the dishes!!

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!!

 

 

 

Date Night

During our 25 years of marriage, my husband and I have tried to have a weekly date night. We don’t go out every week, but we do what we can. When the kids were little, it was especially tough. We aren’t good at planning dates in advance, so it was usually Friday night when we were desperately trying to find a babysitter. Any parent knows your chances are slim to none at that late date.

When my husband became a police officer, we had to start being more flexible to keep up date night. His days off have changed periodically over the past 15 years. Sometimes he worked in the evening and date night turned into date day while the kids were in school. When he worked weekends, we discovered the magic of Tuesday nights. A small popcorn was only $2.oo on that night at the uncrowded movie theatre, and there was never a wait at a restaurant.

Three years ago, I started working outside the home. Since my husband works Friday and Saturday while I work a regular work week our schedules have become even more of a challenge. I’m raring to go out on the weekend while he sits in a tired stupor on the couch. I have a hard time transitioning from ‘work to play’ mode during my work week. But we don’t give up.

We’ve had lunch dates on his day off where he picks me up from work and we try out restaurants in the area or take an hour to peruse an antique store. Sometimes we get to the weekend and discover that both kids still at home have made plans to sleep over at their friends houses, so we have the place to ourselves. That’s always fun!

Last weekend I realized that we hadn’t been out for a few weeks. I put my foot down and insisted we go to a movie. We drove to the theatre with plenty of time available to grab a quick chicken sandwich from the nearby fast food joint since I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. My husband paid. When we got to the theatre, I selected Olympus Has Fallen. After telling us the cost of our movie, the young man at the ticket counter had to wait while my husband and I stared at each other – each expecting the other person to whip out a debit card.

Me: Aren’t you going to pay?

Him: But you asked me out.

Me: Yes, but if I didn’t ask you out, you’d never take me.

Him: ‘sigh of resignation’

Now that we’ve solved that little problem, I look back at the theatre employee while my husband digs in his wallet. The young man is smiling as he watches our little display. At least he’s not looking at my husband with pity.

My husband and I love going to the movies and always chat after. We both agreed how stupid it was, and pointed out the especially unbelievable parts with derision and feeling. I ended the discussion with, “That movie was so bad. I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on it!” And then I cackled with laughter for a long time while he just shook his head.

I think this means that I’m paying for the next date.

 

 

 

Cowboy Boots

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My youngest daughter and I were dressing for a church activity on a beautiful, spring-like day last week. She found a skirt, but realized she didn’t have any spring shoes to go with her skirt. After endless outfit changes, she became resigned to the fact that she was going to have to make do with what she had. Since her new boots were wet from filling her horse’s water trough that morning, she dug out her outgrown, brown cowboy boots.They were too tight and her toes got a little numb on the drive to church, but I thought she looked darling. It was only when we walked from the parking lot to the church that she pointed out the slapping sound her boot was making. The sole of her right boot under her toes was detached from the boot itself. I assured her that no one would notice.

The next morning as I was getting ready for work, I was surprised to see her rummaging in my craft closet. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Uh….what are you doing?

Her: I’m looking for the glue gun so I can glue my boot back together. (Perfectly logical explanation, right?)

Me: I thought you said they hurt your feet.

Her: Well, that doesn’t mean I can’t wear them.

At this point in the conversation my husband chimed in.

Him: Spoken like a true woman.

And that is when I started laughing!

Doesn’t Every Woman Keep a Cheese in Her Purse?

I was settling in for a church meeting last night. There was the failed attempt to get comfortable on my hard, folding chair then the rummage through my bag to find my phone and turn the ringer off. Typically, I sit in front of the TV on Sunday evenings, dump out the contents of my purse, and proceed to sort the contents into piles – garbage, save (but not in my purse) and regular purse inhabitants (wallet, glasses, phone, etc.). I could tell that I hadn’t done the Sunday Sort in a few weeks.

It’s easier to find things in my purse by pretending I’m blind. I just shove my hand into its depths and grope around till I feel what I’m searching for – pointy keys, soft eyeglass pouch, cumbersome wallet. This time, though, all I felt was light and crumply paper. Weeks of gas receipts, gum wrappers, church programs, and pay stubs rustled softly in my bag. I dug deeper and was rewarded by with the heavy feel of my iPhone. Victorious, I yanked it from my bag! It took me a second to realize I had just pulled a tightly wrapped wedge of Parmesan cheese from the dark confines. I nearly burst out laughing.

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I’d forgotten that when I sent my daughter into the store for a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie run late Friday night that she had also come back with the above pictured cheese. Why? She was simply looking for something else, saw the cheese, remembered a dinner conversation when I mentioned we were out of cheese and bought it. I proceeded to stuff it into my purse so I would bring it into the house then promptly forgot about it.

My son and husband have been know to shake their heads in wonder at the things I keep in my purse, but I’m telling you. If they would suddenly have needed a salad topping, I would have been ready! I’m more prepared than a Boy Scout.

 

New Hobby

One of my favorite ways to kill time when I’m supposed to be doing something productive is to look at furniture painting blogs. I enjoy painting (rooms, not art) and have been wanting to try this popular hobby. My first project was an armoire that I painted red. I’ll search for pictures and post them later. I used regular latex paint for that, but I’ve really been wanting to try chalk paint. I found an antique store across the border in Washington that sells Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and paid a ridiculous amount of money for it. (Brace yourself….$38.50 for a quart. I know, I know. I just wanted to be like all the other crafty, painting girls.)

 

So here we go:  Today’s project is a buffet I picked up at the above mentioned antique store.

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The only prep was sanding down a couple of  spots on the top to smooth the transition from the raw wood to the finished area.

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I chose Old White. It’s pretty thick so I thought I should thin it down a bit with water. Notice that I’m using a pencil for a stir stick? I grabbed the first thing I could find.

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I forget how long my daughter helped before she decided that the fun had become work.

It’s funny the imperfections you see once there’s a coat of paint on. I noticed that there was a piece of tape on the front. I peeled it off, but then the dresser needed a second coat for sure.

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When I was finished, I could tell there was a problem. Chalk paint is supposed to cover in one coat. I probably shouldn’t have thinned it. Too much of the wood was showing through. I ended up painting another, unthinned coat, but the top of the buffet still didn’t look right. I could tell the difference between the wood that was raw and the wood with the finish on it. I lightly sanded the paint, vacuumed the dresser, and proceeded to the step that you’re not supposed to have to do:

Primer.  I dug through the garage then painted a coat of sandable primer on the top. Another light sanding, vacuuming, and wiping down with an old t-shirt. One last coat of ASCP on the top and things were looking good!

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I used a fine sanding sponge to distress the edges. I sanded extra around the holes where I still need to add knobs and pulls. That’s what’s so great about chalk paint. It’s super easy to distress. The paint comes off in a fine, chalky powder.

After vacuuming and wiping the dresser down again, I rubbed Annie Sloan Clear Wax over everything. I did an extra coat on the top. I think when I rubbed the wax in that it took some of the paint off. It actually helped give the buffet some  depth and dimension.

Here she is. She just needs to accessorize with some hardware.
Here she is. She just needs to accessorize with some hardware.

 

While doing this project I realized how much my husband loves me. The dresser stood in the middle of the living room with the drawers spread around on a drop cloth over the entire weekend. Not one complaint.  A few days into the next week, my husband helped me drag it into the kitchen because the lighting was better. I then proceeded to fill the kitchen with dust and fumes as I sanded and waxed.

In the end it was all worth it because my family thinks my little buffet is cute. Aaaw!