Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Work, Home and Family - Some Surprises This Month

One of the things about being a working outside of the home mom, is that life is always busy.

There's schoolwork and work to be taken care of, there are things around the home to be done, there are children and a husband to love, there are church and religious commitments, there are things to do to take care of myself and then there's all the stuff I just plain want to do.

These last few weeks have been extra crazy, sleep has been at a premium, and we've been wrestling with computer issues, car issues, added responsibilities, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Still, over the last few weeks, as I've felt the unconditional love of God and my husband in ways that I haven't for a long time, I've discovered something:

The important things aren't always what they seem to be.

I'm a product oriented person and I like to know that I'm getting things done. Crossing things off my to-do list makes me happy. Finishing a project puts a smile on my face. Having the housework caught up makes me feel good. Meeting work and school deadlines makes me happy and feel important and productive. Those things and my to-do list tend to be foremost in my mind when it comes to what is 'important'

But as much as I really like getting things done, I've had some surprises this month that reminded me of something:

The truly important things are my relationships with people. Period.

All the deadlines at work and assignments are due really do need to get done. But not at the expense of my relationships.

In the crazy month I've had this last month, I've had some surprises:

* Taking 30 minutes each day to give my husband my undivided and total attention is not only easy to do - it's not a long enough chunk of time.
* Taking time to read an extra book or play one more game with the kids really is worth it, even if it means I loose 15 minutes of time on something else.
* My children really don't care if the Valentine's Day decorations are still up 4 days before Easter (*ahem* yes they are) and they really won't care if the Easter Decorations never get up at all.
* My husband really and truly doesn't even notice the pile of mail that perpetually sits on the table by the door.
* Soup and sandwiches really are acceptable for dinner - even when you have them 4 times a week!
* There really are a lot of really simple and quick dinners other than soup and sandwiches.
* Taking 4 hours a week to exercise does wonders for my physical body and my mood, stress and mental abilities! And yes, no matter how busy we are, I really can squeeze that in!
* I miss my friends when I don't take the time to meet for coffee, or lunch, or have a phone conversation.

Crazy, simple stuff I know.

But sometimes it's good to have the reminder.

What reminders have you had lately about what's really important in your life?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Update - The Dress Fits!

I have really exciting news to report on my weight loss/exercise front:

I've lost enough inches that the dress I want to wear on Easter actually fits!!!!

Whoo hoo!!!!!
I am so excited about that!

Why? I made the dress for myself about 6 years ago - and wore it only about 4 times before I got pregnant with my twins. It's rather fancy - linen and long - and not necessarily for regular wear, so 4 times was actually pretty good. Anyway, I haven't been able to get back into it since!

This winter, I tried it on again. I could actually get it zipped up, but I didn't dare breathe, cough, or even move. It matches my daughter's Easter Dress perfectly, so I wanted to wear it but have been afraid to try it on.

Over the last few weeks I decided two things:
1) I was going to kick my workouts up a notch and really push myself in my exercise.
2) That I really was going to work on getting healthy once and for all, rather than giving it a half-hearted shot. I'm healthy again, I can make the time and I really don't have any more excuses.

Something else also happened earlier this month that changed things:
John and I attended a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend.

I realized something on that weekend:
Even though John and I have a wonderful marriage, I wasn't spiritually and emotionally "naked" with him (Genesis 2:25). After getting back to that point on the weekend, I have basically quit snacking unless I really am hungry.

I was trying to fill up that void where the emotional and spiritual intimacy with my husband should have been with food.

John told me after a few days back from the retreat that I had "gotten my confidence back." I didn't know I'd lost it! I think I really needed that pure expression of unconditional love in my life. I never would have said I didn't have it before, but I am SO VERY GLAD that we got it back!

So, between working out 4 times a week (yes, I actually managed to squeeze that 4th time in!) and not snacking, I've lost inches! I haven't measured myself yet or weighed myself (I'll post that next week!), but I'm fitting into things that I haven't been able to fit into for a while. I'm also finding that my internal image of myself as a strong woman - physically, mentally and spiritually - is getting more realized as reality. Clothes fit better. I can see my beginnings of my 'washboard' abs again. I can pick up my kids without going "oof!". :) And so much more.

I am feeling really blessed lately with all this!

And I love being able to fit into that dress again.

God is so good.

What more can I ask for?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Goals Update - March 29th, 2010

Boy, it's been a while since I've posted anything of real content here. My apologies for all the waiting.

My computer is finally working, I'm slowly getting caught up on things for school that had gotten piled up with not having a computer for almost 2 weeks, not to mention I had the flu for 4 days, which didn't help.

As for progress on things, I'm making progress on writing and paperwork for the degree. Not much progress on anything else, unfortunately.

We have been so busy with John's internship, the kids things, and everything with school, that it's been hard to find time to work on my sewing/scrapbooking/other projects. Plus, school is a priority at least until the semester is done.

I'm still trying to tweak the schedule into something that works for getting everything done. I do keep making small little progress on things - I have some birthday gifts that I've gotten done, some of the Mother's Day's gifts I had planned done, and I have gotten 2007 in Missy's scrapbook done. I'm planning on doing a post on the birthday gifts and the Mother's Day gifts in the next few weeks. That means I am making some progress but not finishing anything. I had hoped to get a couple of smaller projects done this last week, but I spent extra time wrestling with my computer and catching up the schoolwork side of things.

I guess as long as I'm making some progress, I can't complain. God has blessed me so richly - a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, an abundance of education, a home, plentiful possessions, and a wealth of other things as well, including what might be a wonderful job opportunity (if it pans out I'll post about it)! If I can do what He has called me to do, everything else is icing on the cake.

So, no matter what progress (or lack there-of) is being made, I am truly blessed!

What more can I ask for?

Menu Plan Monday - March 28 to April 3

Okay - I think I need to rethink my computer time so I can actually get a post up here once in a while! Thanks for being so patient with me!

It's Holy Week this week and it means that I am busy, busy, busy with church activities, worship and getting our house all clean and tidy for Easter! Not to mention school (John and the kids have spring break this week but not me!), getting at least a few of the spring decorations out, getting a few things done with our yard and hopefully getting in to see the doctor about what I think might be a sinus infection. Whew!

So, simple eating this week it is! We're back to a $20/wk grocery budget for a while. Long story, which I'll try to get up tomorrow, but in the meantime, $20/wk it is! They had some screaming deals this week, so we're good to go for a while, though I did completely run out of sugar today. Good thing it's on sale this week and I have a couple that I can double!

So, what are we eating?

Sunday, March 28:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Baked Eggs, Apple Coffee Cake, Melon and Strawberries
Dinner: Ground Beef Tacos, Lettuce Salad, Bananas and Melon

Monday, March 29:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Orange Wedges
Dinner: Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Melon-Apple-Banana Salad

Tuesday, March 30:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Couscous, Salad and Orange Wedges

Wednesday, March 31:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, Salad, Orange Wedges

Thursday, April 1:
Breakfast: Waffles
Dinner: Bagel Pizzas, Salad, Orange Wedges

Friday, April 2:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Applesauce, Baby Carrots

Saturday, April 3:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits, Orange Wedges
Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Vegetable Soup, Apple Slices
Dinner: Grilled Steak, Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Fruit

For more menu inspiration, see I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Work, Home and Family - Going Along Together

Well, the new computer was driving me crazy yesterday - doing weird things and not being able to get anything done. Bad news when I really need the thing working properly to be able to get any work of any kind done for school.

So, I did what every self-respecting wife would do: I called my hubby up at work and proceeded to whine! :)

Sweetheart that he is, he did take some time to see what was going on, though he didn't find an actual fix until about 10:30pm last night. Can I tell you have appreciative I was? I was ready to send my brand new laptop back, it was driving me that crazy, and just the thought of not being able to have a computer that really works available for another 2-3 weeks had me in tears.

This is not to tell you about my computer woes, but to demonstrate the wonderful dimensions of being in a loving marriage. My husband has so many strengths that I don't have - he's far more patient than I am, he's an incredible listener, he is way more technologically savvy than I am, and the list could go on from there. He had homework to do last night, for a test coming up on Thursday, and yet he took the time to take care of my problem because he knew that I probably wouldn't be able to get it fixed on my own and that I needed it for school today.

This does work both ways. I tend to be more goal driven, and product oriented than he is, which balances his (*ahem*) organizational and planning weaknesses well. He likes (at least most of the time) that I keep us on track for where we want to head and keep our finances straight.

We hold each other up. We carry each other through. We are the unconditional support that each other need to make it through the tough, trying times.

I am always frustrated when I hear people say marriage is 50/50. It's not.

It's 100/100.

He gives 100% all the time and I give him 100% all the time.

That doesn't always mean that we 'evenly' divide the chores and childcare and income earning responsibilities. It means picking up the slack some someone can rest when they're sick, concentrate on a school project, or get through an emotional, physical or spiritual problem. It means holding each other's hand and crying when that is needed. It means sharing our joys and sorrows.

And yes, it means putting up with a cranky spouse who isn't necessarily technologically savvy! And fixing her computer in spite of the amount of work he had to do himself.
I am so blessed!

And I hope you are too!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Up and Running...Sort of...

Well, my new laptop is here and it's up and running.

Now, I just have to get all my stuff transferred from my old laptop to this one and figure out all the little quirks of this one. I think I need to play around a bit and get my desktop the way I like it and figure out how everything works.

So, hopefully I can get to that today and be posting again tomorrow!
I feel like I've been away for ages, so I'm glad to back (at least somewhat!).

So, until tomorrow, have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I'm experiencing technical difficulties with my computer. As in barely, functioning, limping along difficulties. Ugh.


I have no idea how often I'm going to be able to post in the near future. Since I'm on a borrowed computer at the moment, I don't feel comfortable taking that time to non-essential things, such as blog. :P

Just when you think things are starting to settle down...stuff like this happens.

Anyway, thanks for sticking around and I'll be back as soon as I can!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Financial Goals for 2010

These last few weeks have been crazy busy and way stressful. I haven't hardly had time to wrap my head around things much less process anything or do anything that wasn't absolutely necessary. So blogging kind of fell by the wayside.

I'd like to say that things are slowing down or working themselves out or something encouraging like that, but it doesn't look like it. At least for the time being.

Good news? We finally hashed out our 2010 savings goals! Whoo hoo!


I hate not knowing what I need to do with my money and this kept getting shoved to the side with more important things happening and our collectively crazy schedules. We had a budget in place so we didn't feel it was THAT important.

Then we got our tax return.

Now what do we do?

So, yesterday evening, after the kids were in bed, our other work was done and in spite of being tired and wanting to go to bed, we hashed out our savings goals for this year.

Collectively we have about 10-12 but these are the first 5 that we're working on - the 'necessary' ones. The rest are optional, and even in cases appear necessary, but really are just nice things that would be good.

These 5 categories are things that we are already committed to or are necessary for our sanity:
  1. Memberships and Fees. (This includes our car tabs, John's licensing for work, etc.) 0% funded.
  2. Lea's PhD Tuition for Summer and Fall 2010. (We used up our savings in this category and, since I'm not guaranteed work each term at this point, we must save for this even if we end up not needing it.) 38% funded.
  3. Buddy and Missy's Tuition for the 2010-11 School Year. 0% funded.
  4. Buddy and Missy's School Uniforms. 0% funded
  5. Dates out including symphony tickets and babysitters. 60% funded.

Yes, I guess the dates out are 'optional' as well, but they are necessary for our sanity! Not to mention our relationship. We find that at home we typically aren't as engaged with each other as we are when we're out, so actually going 'out' is back on our 'must do' list! Often our families will give us a bit of money for birthdays to 'go out to eat' and that money goes in this category. We also put part of our Christmas money and a small amount of our tax return in here as well, which is why that category is pretty well funded. Again, this is a sanity thing, more than a real 'necessity', but we feel it's well worth it!

The majority of the tax return goes into my school tuition - after also maxing out my 2009 IRA contribution and paying the tax preparer.

We have about half of the kids' tuition in our weekly budget now, so that category will slowly fill up over time - we just need to find the other 'half.'

We have several others - including paying our savings back in 3 different categories, saving for 2 car trips, and saving up for a new vehicle and a couple of car repairs. I'm not sure if we're going to get to any of those this year except the repairs, but we'll see what we can do. As these 5 get crossed off the list, I'll add these others in.

How are you doing on your financial goals in 2010? Care to share?

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 7th

Oh, my goodness! Have I been MIA or what? I really didn't think it had been at least 2 whole weeks! Wow! I'll write more about that later - right now it's time for the weekly menu!

After taking a good hard look at our budget this weekend, I'm hoping to keep the shopping to a minimum for a while. Currently my grocery list has potatoes, bagged salad and ketchup on it. We'll see where we're at after this week!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, March 7th:

Brunch: Gingerbread Pancakes, Applesauce

Dinner: Turkey Breast, Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus, and Melon

Monday, March 8th:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Dinner: Soft Shell Beef Tacos, Lettuce Salad, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, March 9th:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Dinner: Pan Fried Walleye, Rice, Steamed Corn, Melon-Grape-Orange Salad

Wednesday, March 10th:

Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Orange Wedges

Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cole Slaw, Homemade Bread, Grapes

Thursday, March 11th:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Cole Slaw, Grape-Apple-Banana Salad

Friday, March 12th:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Dinner: Leftovers or Homemade Pizza

Saturday, March 13th:

Breakfast: Waffles with Strawberries

Lunch: Vegetable Soup and Homemade Bread

Dinner: Sausage Stuffed Squash, Lettuce Salad, Grape-Melon-Banana Salad

What are you eating this week? Go to I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share!