Friday, July 30, 2010

Frugal Friday - Planning Ahead!

With kids, big chunks of time are just plain at a premium. It also seems sometimes that no matter what I do, I just have too many things to keep track of. Since I'm someone who likes having big chunks of time to work on things and who likes to have all my ducks in a row, this gets terribly frustrating - especially when financial implications are involved.

How? Well...

Do your children suddenly tell you their shoes 'hurt' only for you to find out that they can barely get their feet in them? Then you find out that no shoes that 'fit the bill' are on sale and you end up spending more on shoes for a 5-year-old than on your own.

Do you realize at 8pm (or later) that you have a party of some type (birthday, graduation, etc) the next day that requires a present? Then you run to the store and scout out the best present for the money - only to find that they have nothing that you like and you end up settling and spending more than you had planned.

Do you open the fridge to find that a key ingredient for what you had planned for dinner has been eaten by someone and you need to run to the store...picking up a few other "essentials" along the way....

Does your child put on their only remaining pair of dress pants to find that the pants are now 2 inches too short and (a) it's either July and impossible to find dress pants for children or (b) that color isn't the 'in' color now or you can't find them without cargo pockets (or something else you don't want) or they're not in your child's size. or... and you end up spending $50 on the only pair of child's dress pants that meet your criteria within driving distance!

I've had all of the above happen at one time or another.

And I especially hate the blown budget involved. On top of the gee-I-should-have-caught-that-sooner guilt, heaping blowing the budget on there is something I just don't want to have to deal with.

I plan ahead.

I buy Study Bibles in bulk (10 at a time - and I get a discount!) for graduations, confirmations and other occasions.

I buy cards in bulk by the large occasion specific boxes from Current or our local Christian bookstore.

I plan a menu and stick it on the fridge (this keeps someone *ahem, John, ahem* from eating necessary ingredients). And I have a backup plan in my planner if something does accidentally get eaten.

I keep a gift stash of generic gifts (candles, journals and nice pens & pencils, bath 'stuff', infusers, funny socks, etc.) for giving to friends as gifts.

I buy a wedding gift right after I get the invitation, wrap it and put it on my 'gift shelf' so it doesn't get lost - and that also means that the registry isn't picked over either!

I make one larger donation to a humanitarian charities (Lutheran World Relief, Heifer International, etc.) in December, order a bunch of their donation gift cards, and use them for those "hard to buy for" people throughout the year. I haven't yet had anyone be less than thrilled! (And usually they say something on the order of "Oh good! I don't need anything and this will really make a difference to someone! Thank you so much!")

I have had a gift plan for new babies for years. First babies get a homemade crib size quilt (I make these ahead as much as I can so I don't have to scramble!). Other babies get a nice outfit (purchased on sale, of course) and older siblings get a book (also purchased on sale). Right now I'm behind on the quilts... I better get going on that! I also have a plan for family birthdays, usually involving all books, or shirts, or something like that, and shop ahead.

If I have an extra 10 minutes when I'm at a store (or even 5!), I scan the clearance racks for sale items - particularly dress clothes and shoes - for my kids. Always in the next size up. I once bought 6 pairs of my daughter's favorite bright red Mary Janes because they were clearanced at $2.48 a pair! Each in a different size of course. She had dress shoes for 2 1/2 years! And we never had to worry about something being grown out of at the last minute.

I buy a second pair of winter boots for my kids when the boots go on sale. Since boots are a must in the winter in Minnesota, I buy boots early for my kids. Yes, I pay full price. I had one year when I put it off until the boots were on sale. Never again. We had snow before then and finding a pair was next to impossible. I also ended up ordering boots online for way more than I ever wanted to pay when someone outgrew their boots in February. Since boots leave the stores here in January (hello - winter lasts here until April some years!), as soon as they go on sale, I buy a second pair in a size larger than they are currently in. This saves the "mom-my-boots-are-too-tight!" "" conversations that we've had in the past.

All of these things save me money, time and peace of mind.

Do theses plans sometimes fail? Yes. There are still many, many days when they work. And I'm very grateful!

How do you plan ahead and save money in the process? I'd love to hear!

For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Super Savings Saturday - $30 for meat, fruit and veggies

This is the I-forgot-to-take-photos version! :) Oops.

We went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday this week and then went to the grocery store quick on Thursday early evening because I realized that what we had planned for dinner was just plain not going to work for 4 adults and 2 5-year-olds. Another Oops! (Can you tell my mind has not been around here lately!)

Sooo, what did we buy?

Farmer's Market:
1 large head of broccoli
1 very large bunch of very large green onions

Total Spent: $2

Grocery Store: (prices are approximate)
1 Gallon Kemps Skim Milk $3.80
1.2 lbs catfish fillets $7
2.5 lbs boneless pork ribs $7.50
2.5 lbs bananas $1.50
2 lbs strawberries $3
2 lbs green grapes $1.89
1 medium head red lettuce $1.50
1 carton Kemps Frozen Yogurt (for my Dad!) $2.50

Total Spent: approx $28.69 (I have no idea what happened to my receipt!)

In spite of being a lot more scatterbrained than I would like (I had coffee filters and Smart Balance on my list and didn't buy them!), I think that's pretty good for an impromptu run to the store to buy groceries!

What did you buy this week? Stop by Money Saving Mom to share.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Frugal Friday - Uniform Swap! (Saving Money on School Uniforms!)

Okay - silly me forgot to download the photo of everything that I was able to get through the uniform swap. So, the photo is at home on my camera and I'm not at home right now. Sooo....I will post that when I get home today. :) Oppps.

School uniforms are something new to us this year. The kids start kindergarten (Where, oh, where has that time gone?) and they will be attending a private school that requires uniforms.

Part of me is sad - my Mom loves to sew and has so enjoyed making clothes for my children the last 5 years. Uniforms mean my Mom will be making far fewer clothes than she has. My daughter also loves really bright, unique clothing and she is very disappointed with her school uniforms ("They're too boring, Mom!" - complete with eye roll and shaking head) as well. I have an idea to remedy that part, but that's for another post! :) I love that my children can express their very different personalities with their clothes.

Part of me is elated - even though the uniform pieces are more expensive than anything I would ever currently buy for our kids, the kids' clothing budget isn't changing this year! Why? Fewer clothes. Uniforms to last 5 days (jumper, skirt, pants, a cardigan and 5 polo shirts for Missy; 3 pair pants, a cardigan and 5 polo shirts for Buddy), one or two "nice" outfits for church, etc. and 2-3 outfits of play clothes for after school and days when they're home. We'll probably have more than that, but I don't have to hurry out and buy something if something falls apart or wears out when we have that level of clothing for them. (And yes, I realize that if I wanted to do laundry more often, we could get by with even less!).

Even though we're not buying as many clothes in general, how do we save money on those uniforms? Especially since I'm not that excited about spending $16 for a polo shirt they're going to outgrow in 4 months.

The school we attend has a "Uniform Swap". Bring in 10 items, pick up 10 items. They run it at the end of every quarter.

Since we're entering Kindergarten, we don't have anything to bring. But it never hurts to ask, so I did. It turns out, after a certain point, anyone can come in - new students, students who need more than they brought in, etc.


Here's the tally:

For Missy:
* 2 jumpers
* 2 skirts
* 1 pair of slacks
* cardigan
* 1 polo shirt

For Buddy:
* 1 pair pants
* 1 pair shorts (only wear on days over 85F)
* 4 polo shirts
* 1 long-sleeve polo shirt
* 1 monogrammed sweatshirt

Not bad, if I do say so myself!
Even better - many of these things weren't even on the 'bare bones' list I was intending to purchase! I would not have bought the sweatshirt, long-sleeve polo or the shorts for Buddy and Missy wouldn't have gotten 2 jumpers or skirts, she would have only gotten one.

What do I still need?
Buddy needs 2 more pair of pants and I'd still like to get him a cardigan, though the sweatshirt will suffice. And Missy needs a few more shirts and gym shorts (the boys can just play in their regular pants in kindergarten).

And we'll need the usual shoes, socks and undies, but we'd need to buy those anyway.

Best thing? I got all those clothes for free!

If you need uniforms, and your school currently doesn't have a uniform swap, I heartily suggest you start one! I wasn't going to be sure it would be worth my time, but it certainly was. And I'm sure it is for almost everyone else who participates too!

How do you save money on school uniforms? I'd love to know!

And check out Frugal Friday over at Life As Mom for more frugal inspiration.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Followers - Now you can be one too!

How's that for a shameless plug? :)

Jenn has been my lone little follower for quite a while now.

Would you care to join her?
And perhaps make her feel a little less lonely here at my blog?
(And maybe check out her blog and see what SUPER adorable kiddos she has!)

I finally added that little widget to my sidebar that lets you see who my followers are.

If you would like to have your blog face (or a little lovely blogger replacement square) up there, I'd love to have you!


Work Home and Family - Making Time (Our Camping Trip)

Ahh - camping...

I've never been much of a true "camper" - you know the kind: tent, sleeping bag, hiking stick and backpack and all the rest.

However, I did love spending summers at my Uncle's lake cabin! It was a rustic cabin - no running water, outhouse out back, a lake or a wood-heated sauna (depending on the weather and time involved) if you wanted to wash. But it had walls, and a deck, and a real bed and a real table. Nothing fancy - that was for sure! - but it was on the lake, with beautiful trees, and no telephone or television. Just perfect for getting away from the messiness of daily life and spending time with friends and family. We had many a fish fry with fish caught that morning and wonderful blueberry deserts (picked by those that didn't go fishing that morning!) while chatting with family and friends at that cabin. I remember being to little to either fish or pick blueberries and doing the made-up scavenger hunts my Mom left for me to do with my Grandma, who couldn't walk well due to arthritis and certainly couldn't climb into a fishing boat. I learned to fish off that dock, to swim in that lake, and how to grow geraniums on that deck. I also learned what an amazing sight the Northern Lights are. And that you really don't want to run into a raccoon during a trip to the outhouse in the middle of the night! :) Good memories for sure!

The park we were at was perfect for us - real sand beach, hiking trails, lots of wildlife and flowers, and a cabin that was in close proximity to both the outhouse and the potable water spigot.

John and I hadn't been 'camping' with the kids before. And, to be honest, we've never camped in a tent together, although we registered for and received one for our wedding. (We later sold it at a garage sale.) John was the one that wanted to take this camping trip. I had had other plans involving a city, a hotel with hot tub and indoor swimming pool, museums and shopping! (Not that we had any money for shopping but the idea was nice!). No, John really wanted to take the kids camping. So about a month ago - last minute when it comes to reserving sites! - we reserved a camper cabin at a Minnesota state park and spent 4 days blissfully unplugged from our everyday lives.

We went hiking, we watched the fire, we sang silly camp songs, we sang not-so-silly and some really silly church songs, we watched the kids' put on a 'talent show' for us every night (complete with really goofy knock-knock jokes!), and we just spent time reveling in being a family.

We take far too little time to just be a family in today's culture. It seems that there's always something more that needs to be done or something that we have to get to. I found it a little funny that John was the one on this trip who had to run out and take a shower every day (we went swimming, doesn't that count? :) ) and who was impatient that it was taking some time for the coffee to brew in this lovely pot (he doesn't even drink coffee!). I'm usually the impatient one! Not him. He's the one that just takes everything in stride and rides the waves. Me? I'm the one rushing from this to that to the other thing.

I guess I'm one of those people who needs to seriously unplug every once in a while. I need to remove myself from all the 'distractions' and refocus my energy. If I didn't have so many irons in the fire, so to speak, I probably wouldn't have to do that as often. But for me, it's necessary. We take a week in the summer and one over Christmas to just "be" a family - look at the flowers, follow a butterfly, make snow angels, or go sledding. John and I take 3 days over our Anniversary to just be a couple - no kids, no work or school, just us. For me these are necessary.

Some days I wish I could be like John. Able to take that time to play with the kids without thinking about all the other things I have to do. To spend that time deep in thought and conversation without worrying about my to-do list.

John hasn't worn a watch almost the entire 17 years I've known him. Wearing a watch makes him nervous and he can't concentrate on what he's doing - he's too worried about the time.

Maybe we can all learn a lesson from this - time is what we make it. And worrying about it certainly won't increase it. In fact, I'm convinced it shortens it.

We need to make it about long-term goals and gains. Like our relationships with family and friends that take a long time to mature and ripen. Like keeping our homes and our possessions as the Lord would have us and as good stewards making the most of what we have. Like doing things that influence and help others in lasting ways.

Funny how a little down time in a whirl-wind paced life can remind us of those things.

What more can I ask for?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Eating Right

I had a physical two weeks ago - nothing like that to get you back on track!

I'd been eating horribly the last few weeks - lots of potato and tortilla chips for snacks and things like graduation parties and church dinners with an abundance of hot dogs and the like for the meal. Uff da. Stress makes me eat a lot more than I should and we've had plenty of that around here too!

My cholesterol - which I have to watch due to genetically high levels of body-manufactured cholesterol - was high. Not shockingly high or anything like that. It was borderline. Since I'm typically quite good with my cholesterol, that was a noticeable thing for my doctor. I also have some serious vitamin deficiencies that I'm now taking mega-doses of to get my levels back up to 'normal' range.

In either case, healthy eating has moved back to the top of my list!

Not only am I working on portion control and reasonable snacking (and I have been in theory for the last 7 1/2 months!), I'm focusing on getting the recommended number of daily servings in each 'category' of the dietary charts. Like many people, I have a tendency to do overboard with the starches and not get enough fruits and veggies. We cut way back on meat-protein a few years ago and haven't gone back, so I'm usually fine with that.

Don't get me wrong - we typically have fruit at each meal and veggies at lunch and dinner. However, the recommended amount is 4-6 servings of veggies and 3-5 of fruit. A serving is one small fruit (apple, peach, pear, etc.) or 1/2 cup of fruit. I get maybe 1/2 cup of fruit at lunch and 1 cup at dinner, but breakfast is a 'garnish' usually - so about 3 servings. I guess that's okay, but I like fruit and would do better if I was eating 4-5 servings. Veggies, well, they're worse. If I get 3 servings I'm on the high end of the scale.

One thing that surprised me is finding out how little calcium is readily absorbed into our bodies from calcium sources. There's a reason why we're usually recommended to drink 3 8-ounce glasses of milk per day. Yes, that gives us plenty of the recommended dairy (the 3 servings), but it is the most readily absorbable source of calcium we have! Supplements aren't as readily absorbed. And the amount of absorbable calcium in any other dairy product and leafy green vegetables is about 1/4 what it is in milk. Beans are a good source of calcium - about 75% the absorption rate of milk - too, but I'm not going to eat beans for 3 meals per day! :) Those things really surprised me since I hear about so many people getting their calcium from sources other than milk.

So, on my agenda is making sure I get my 4-5 servings of fruit and 5-6 servings of veggies per day. And getting enough calcium (even though I really don't care for milk).

What's on your agenda for healthy eating? Care to share?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 18

We're eating well this week, in spite of the low grocery budget. I love my mini-stockpile! Anyway, here's what we're eating:
July 18, Sunday:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal with Milk
Lunch: Breakfast Burritos, Melon-Strawberry-Blueberry-Banana Salad
Dinner: Chicken with Chicken Flavored Rice, Vegetable Saute, Strawberry-Blueberry-Blackberry Salad
July 19, Monday:
Breakfast: Banana Nut Muffins with Strawberries or Cold Cereal
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Lettuce Salad, Melon-Strawberry-Blueberry Salad
July 20, Tuesday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies
Dinner: Lettuce Salad with Crumbled Salmon, Strawberries and Mandarin Oranges
July 21, Wednesday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Strawberries and Cinnamon
Dinner: At Church (Bring Cookies)
July 22, Thursday:
Breakfast: Waffles with Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam and Almonds
Dinner: Pork Stir Fry, Rice, Melon-Blueberry-Banana Salad
July 23, Friday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Breakfast Crisp with Blueberries
Dinner: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Homemade Bread Sticks, Lettuce Salad, Melon
July 24, Saturday:
Breakfast: Out for All
Lunch: Pasta Salad with Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Fruit
Dinner: Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs, Rice, Fruit Salad
What are you eating this week? Hop on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - No Agenda Family Time!

This last week we spent 4 days camping in a Camper Cabin at a Minnesota State Park. It was probably the cheapest vacation we've ever taken as a family (about $300 - $350 total after buying some supplies, paying for the cabin and park permit, buying food and stocking up on things like sunscreen) and it was probably the best vacation we've ever had as a family. I'll write more about that on Wednesday in "Work, Home and Family", so here I'm going to talk about the biggest benefit of that camping trip... Family Time.

I love spending time with my husband and children! The problem right now is that with both John and I in school and getting ready to start this new job and all the other things we do, it seems like we're always bound by some sort of schedule - off to school, homework to do, chores to complete, etc. We very, very rarely have time where we can just hang out together.

Oh, don't get me wrong, we can and do take time to just hang out, or play a pickup game of soccer, or ring-around-the-rosy, or cuddle on the couch and read books, or watch a DVD with a big bowl of popcorn. But there's always something waiting that needs to be completed when that time is done. A few hours at a shot without something else to do or a place to be is all we can manage.

We do lengthen and expand the time that we spend together by including the kids in housework and yard work and things like making dinner or birthday presents for others or in cleaning out or whatever. But that's still, well, work. Yes, I do believe that it's important to teach my children how to do all those things. Are they learning? Yes. Do I love that? Yes. But it's not big chunks of undivided time just exploring the world and spending time together.

This last week we got to do plenty of both. We hiked about 5 miles per day, saw deer, many types of birds, several tree frogs and even a raccoon! We spent several hours swimming, building sandcastles, skipping rocks, and throwing rocks and sticks into the water at a nature-made beach on a wide stretch of river. We sang songs around a campfire. We took naps. We put together a puzzle and played checkers while the rain drummed on the roof. We cuddled and talked and just plain sat silent watching flames in a campfire.

There was no agenda, no other place to be, no chores or homework to be done (well, ok, a few necessary chores like making meals and cleaning up from them but that was about it). We just got to be together.

I realized that we need more of that in our daily time together too. Time to just be. Not worry about the next thing or what is getting done or not. Time to make pictures in the clouds. Time to comment on the variety of plants in our backyard and our neighborhood park. Time to pick a bouquet of wildflowers. Time to play checkers and put together a puzzle. Time to stare into a fire with your family in comfortable silence with you.

We forget that we need to make and take time to build relationships with each other. Taking time to just be together is so important, and yet it's the first thing to go in our busy lives today.

Truly, the no agenda family time we had this last week is one of my favorite things!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Super Savings Saturday - $25 edition

We're back to a low grocery budget for a while since we've pretty much blown it for a few weeks. We've gotten some really good deals (especially on cereal!) but the budget is way out of whack - enough that I didn't even feel comfortable taking out any grocery money this week! I used the cash we had in the house leftover from our camping week plus a couple of extra dollars we had in our Recreation and Gas envelopes (I didn't take all the cash in the gas envelope since you never know what will happen with gas prices!). All total I had $27 for groceries this week.
Here's what we got:
Store #1:
1 large cantaloupe $1.50
Cucumber $0.50
Blueberries BOGO 2 for $3.99
Blackberries 1 at $2.50
Total Spent: $8.49
Store #2:
10 ct Mission Flour Tortilla $2
Sweet Corn (8 ears) $2
1 lb Carrots $0.79
Strawberries 2lbs $3
Store brand gallon skim milk (2) $4.98
1 dozen large store brand eggs $0.68
Sargento Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese $2
Total Spent: $15.45
Total Spent at both stores: $23.94
That means I have roughly $3 for the Farmer's Market tomorrow too! Enough for lettuce and maybe onions or green peppers. We'll see what they have!
What did you get this week? Head over to Money Saving Mom to share!

Brain Lapse!

So I wrote two posts last Monday and saved them instead of posting them.



Back to 'normal' this week.

Camping was GREAT and I'll post a couple of my 300 pictures on Wednesday and I'll be back later today with my Super Savings Saturday post!

We're having a heat wave here (90+ F) and lots of direct sun so we're trying to stay cool today in addition to catching up from camping (I'm almost caught up with the laundry - only 1 more load to go!) and trying to get back into the swing of things this week and next before really jumping in head-long for fall.

Excuse my brain lapse, and check out my goals update (I'm pretty psyched about it all!) and our menu from camping last week.

Note about last week's menu: we ended up eating at McDonald's (something I despise and only do about 3x a year if absolutely necessary) because we had a tornado watch out and we didn't want to go home in the middle of our camping trip, yet we didn't feel safe at the campground. Also, we got take out Thursday night when we got back with the rest of our camping money and at the leftovers for dinner on Friday too - so we didn't actually stick withe plan very well. Oh well, live and learn, right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goals Update - Is it this far into July already?

Are you with me when I say I can't believe that July is this far along already? Good grief!

Even though it's this far into summer, I finally have managed to get some things actually done and completed! Yay!

Check out my side bar... :)

I'm pretty excited about the whole thing!

So what have we gotten done?

Two house projects - the 'parking lot' for the garbage cans is done and so is the painting that we wanted to complete! Whoo hoo!

Two budget goals have been met - my tuition is saved for and our 'date' fund is funded! In addition to that we've got the kids' uniform fund filled and part of their tuition fund filled. Happy dance!

The house is half cleaned out - the upstairs except for the office and under the stairs. We've gotten rid of a ton of stuff and I can't believe how much easier it is to clean when I don't have shuffle stuff. :) I'm hoping to get the whole thing cleaned out before my new job starts a bit later this summer (mid-august!).

After my physical last week, I've decided that I'm going to work very hard on losing weight and getting shape the rest of July, August and part of September. I won't be able to attend my Jazzercise classes as much starting in September so I have to come up with something else to do even if it's at home!

Okay, off to a camping trip with my hubby and munchkins and some blessed time without internet, phones, email and all that kind of stuff! Quality family time! I love that!

How are you doing with your goals? Care to share?

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 11th! Camping Edition!

We're taking Monday through Thursday this week and going camping! It's the first time John and I have taken the kids camping and we're 'cheating' by renting a cabin at a state park (no indoor plumbing but real beds and walls and we're paying the extra $5/night to get electricity). It does mean cooking over a campfire for the better part of 4 days, so that's a hair challenging with our menu!

So what are we eating this week?

Sunday, July 11:

Breakfast: Cereal

Lunch: Waffles with Raspberries and Almonds

Dinner: A Friend's Graduation Party

Monday, July 12:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Pecans

Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Melon, Ants-on-a-Log

Dinner: Salmon, Potatoes, Salad and Strawberry-Melon-Grape Salad

Tuesday, July 13:

Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas

Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Potato Chips, Carrot Sticks, Grapes

Dinner: Kielbasa, Corn on the Cob, Salad, Melon-Grape-Pineapple Salad

Wednesday, July 14:

Breakfast: Pancakes with Raspberries and Apple Sauce

Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Potato Chips, Carrot Sticks, Strawberries

Dinner: Chicken and Veggie Kabobs, Salad, Melon-Pineapple-Raspberry Salad

Thursday, July 15:

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast, Bananas

Lunch: Hot Dogs in Buns, Potato Chips, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Melon and Pineapple

Dinner: Chili, Cornbread, Salad, Pineapple and Melon

Friday, July 16:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Pecans

Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Salad, Melon

Saturday, July 17:

Breakfast: Apple Braided Bread and Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies

Lunch: Pasta Salad with Chicken on Lettuce, Fruit Salad

Dinner: Steak Stir Fry, Rice, Fruit Salad

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

Sunday, July 11, 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - Getting Things Done!

I'm a big believer in having goals.

I mean seriously - if you don't have a goal to reach for, how are you able to get anywhere? If you aim at nothing you hit it every time. I would prefer to aim for something.

Are my goals overly ambitious? Many times, yes.
Are they crazy to others? Many times, yes.
Do I still make them and strive for them? Absolutely!

I had a conversation with my Mother-in-Law a couple of years ago about my working on this PhD. She told me about a friend of hers, working on a medical degree, and having a plan for several years about how she was going to get to the goal she had in mind. My MIL told me that she was so impressed by both of us because it just was more work than she could handle - so much work in fact that she didn't have anything she was striving.

Too much work?

I guess I've always thought that everything worth having is worth working for.

Relationships? A ton of work if they're going to be good relationships.

Raising kids? Definitely the hardest thing I've ever done and I have dropped the ball in more ways than one many, many times but I still keep working at it because my children need me to.

Staying at a healthy weight and activity level? Certainly difficult, but pays off both in the long run and short term (I have in no way learned the secret of this, by the way).

Learning something new? Often difficult, but necessary for our own growth and health.

Caring for our finances and all the God has entrusted to us? Work and many times a pain in the rear, but necessary if we're going to be the good stewards that God wants us to be.

Do I fall short? All the time.

But having something to strive for is so worth it.

Even better is getting things done - both seeing and feeling the rewards of all that work.

Part of the reason I've been missing so much lately is because I've been working on those goals. I'll post more tomorrow about that, but in the meantime, check out my side bar! We're making progress!

Definitely, getting things done is one of my favorite things.
What more can I ask for?