Sunday, October 31, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - Fall


This was our view last Sunday afternoon, out for a hayride at a local apple orchard.  Our goal: to find at least 4 pumpkins to bring home and carve, toast the seeds, and just plain enjoy.

Goal accomplished! 

And we had a great time.

Fall is my favorite time of year. 

By a long shot.

Oh, I love spring and summer and all the beautiful flowers, and the warm sun, and gardening and swimming and all that sort of stuff.  I love walking barefoot on the beach or in the grass and I love the kids squeals as they play outside together or with their friends.

I love winter too - the white wonderland looking so beautiful. I love sledding and hot cocoa and Christmas lights.  (The cold I can leave behind, if it weren't necessary for snow that is.)

But fall is far and away my favorite.

I absolutely love the leaves painted in their autumn glory.
I love the crisp air.
I love apples and cider and all the trappings of harvest time.
I love pies and cakes and Halloween costumes.

And I love spending time with my family outside - hiking, hay-riding, picking apples and pumpkins, raking leaves and jumping in the piles, toasting marshmallows over an open fire, and warming our hands.  Snuggling with the kids and watching the flames with hot apple cider and hot chocolate is the best ever.

I love Thanksgiving and being reminded of all the blessings that God has given us.  I love getting together with John's family, eating turkey and ham, and watching the guys play touch football.  I love scrapbooking with the girls and catching up on every one's lives.  I love enjoying the bounty of blessings that God has for us.

I just love fall.

Truly, it is one of my favorite things.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Super Savings Saturday - $43 Haul!


I was a little concerned this week about grocery shopping.  We needed toilet paper desperately, John needed body wash and we always need milk.  Back to our $40 per week budget, after 'splurging' and stocking up for several weeks, I felt like it was going to be tight.  We really didn't need much else since we had stocked up but I still felt like it was tight.   And we had something else too that made me even more concerned about fitting into our budget.

Last week my washing machine decided to have some real issues after complaining and whining for a while.  We needed to replace the motor, which cost more than a new machine.  So then we decided to buy a new washer and dryer.  We had been saving for new machines, knowing that we had that expense coming up sometime in the not so distant future.  Our washer and dryer were 10 years old and had seen some hard use.  So, a new washer and dryer arrived on Thursday this last week.  And then I realized I didn't have any HE soap.  Opps.  I had stocked up earlier but none of the bottles were HE.  I guess the food shelf is going to get a present!  Anyway, we had to buy laundry soap too.

We went shopping tonight (Saturday) after the Harvest Party at church and I think I scored pretty well, considering we had to buy laundry soap, TP, body wash and milk all in the same run!

Here's what we got:
Store #1:
.73 lbs Roma tomatoes @ $0.99/lb = $0.72
Fresh Express Salad Kits BOGO w/store coupon: $3.99 for two - $0.75 coupon = $3.24
Birds Eye Steamfresh Frozen Vegetables 5/$4 w/store coupon = $4
Total Spent: $7.96

Store #2:
Reynolds Parchment Paper: $2.69 - $1.50 coupons = $1.19
Store Brand Hot Dog Buns = $0.79
Angel Soft Toilet Paper 24 Roll: $5.69 w/store coupon
Tide Coldwater HE 32 load = $7.99 - $2 coupon = $5.99
Campbell's Condensed Soups $1.45x4 = $5.80
Wisk 32 load $4.99 - $2 coupon = $2.99
Axe Shower Jell 2/$8 = 2/$4 w/BOGO coupon
4.03lbs Bananas @ $0.48/lb = $1.93
2 Gallon Store Brand Skim Milk @ $2.49/gallon = $4.98
Total Spent: $35.31

Total Spent At 2 Stores: $43.27

Total Saved (According to Store Receipts): $26.25

For more shopping inspiration, see Money Saving Mom!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Frugal Friday - Financially Worth It?

These last two weeks have been completely crazy and I have become more resolved than ever to find myself more time.  Time is what I want to gain, not money.  Really.  

Yet I keep thinking that it would be nice if I could have both.

And I think I can.

Simplifying is definitely the way to go - all the way around.  And it will (and does) save me both time and money.  Both in the short term and the long run.

I was having a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago about money and time.  She orders her groceries through an online delivery service and has babysitters at her beck and call all the time now that her husband is working and not in school.  She routinely buys takeout and uses those come make a certain number of freezer meals in one shot and then eat for a month (or how ever long) places.

She was talking about the cost of these things and I said, "Wow. That sounds like a lot of money."

Her response:  "It is SO worth it for me!"

I guess that's what it really is about, isn't it?  Is it financially worth it to you personally to pay for grocery delivery, or diaper service, or disposable diapers over cloth, or premade meals or whatever the case may be.

For me it's worth it to pay for higher end clothes, shoes, cars, luggage and household items (appliances and furniture).  I'd rather pay for someone to fix my drywall and change my oil than do it myself (and trust me, you don't want me handling power tools!).  I am perfectly happy picking up my own groceries and cooking at home.  I am perfectly happy to 'juggle' childcare with my husband, our daycare provider for our primary needs and then occasionally take advantage of a "Parent's Night Out" at church rather than paying for additional babysitters.

In some cases doing what seems more expense really isn't - a friend with three children in diapers found that a diaper service was more cost effective both in time and money than buying disposables or washing her own cloth; another friend picks up groceries for a relative in exchange for emergency baby sitting when needed; and another own a very fancy (and expensive) snow blower which his teenage son then uses to blow the neighbors driveways for a small fee.  These aren't the things I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the stuff that you know is more expensive but you do it anyway for another reason.

My friend is also trying to achieve tenure and working like mad to get it.  Having tenure is very important to her and her family. Therefore, it is the primary goal she's working toward. For me, I'd rather not have tenure and spend a little more time on my family and my health.  Having job security is great, but I'd rather have the time. 

That's the beauty for frugality. 

You pick what is means and doesn't mean for you and do what is best for you and your family.

For me that's being truly frugal!

For more Frugal Friday check out Life As Mom!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Work Home and Family - A Quick Tidbit About Clutter


Yep, that's an actual picture of the clutter that has resided in my home in the last year or so.  That was the pile under my desk in our home office.  Yikes!  Most of it had been sitting there for over a year!

In this process of cleaning out my home this year, I've discovered something:

Time is what I want to gain, not stuff.  And cleaning out the clutter earns me time.

How?

I don't have to hunt for things.
I don't have to shuffle things in order to use a space.
I don't have to shuffle things in order to clean.
I don't have to buy a duplicate because I can't find something (and that saves me money too).

It used to take me a while (at least 30 minutes) to set my living room to rights at the end of the day.  

Now I can do it in about 5 minutes, 10 if I want to sweep the energy and dust the surfaces.

I love that.

Now I just have to finish cleaning out the rest of the house.

Five minutes per room I can handle.  This 30 minute stuff is for the birds!

I'm planning on continuing my Tips for Busy Moms piece next week - re-running what I'd written before and continuing them with new in sequence, so that we don't have the week long breaks in between.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kid Funny

The hot lunch menu at my children's school occasionally has a small cup of ice cream (vanilla or chocolate) or rainbow sherbert for desert.   Missy thinks the sherbert is the best thing.  Buddy is an all-vanilla kinda kid.

This was the conversation about the hot lunch for tomorrow (Pizza day!) in the car on the way home from school today:

Missy: "Mommy, do you think they will have ice cream or sherbert tomorrow?"

Me: "I don't know. We can check the menu when we get home."

Buddy: "I'm just going to have plain vanilla.  Sherbert is just too wild for me!"


I had to work SO hard not to laugh.

And just for reference, they have vanilla ice cream only tomorrow!  Whew!  That could have been a crazy meal with that wild sherbert there.... :)


What more can I ask for?

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Being Between

I've officially lost enough inches now that I am between clothes sizes!  Whoo hoo!  I haven't actually measured yet because I don't want to be disappointed.  So I'm waiting to measure myself until I've reached that lower size.

The problem is, I have a few 'holes' in my wardrobe that really should be filled so I don't have things sitting around 'idle' in my closet.  Being between sizes means I have to decide if I buy big or small and what I do about that.

I had a fascinating conversation with a friend last week.  Her thought was to buy small and then work extra hard until they pants look great.    I'm not so sure about that. 

See, my pants don't fit around the thigh area.  I guess most people have things not fit around the waist, so they can hide an 'adjusted' waistband with a long top. I hate the thought of buying pants that are too tight in the thigh because I know I will not wear them. 

My solution?  Buy skirts!
I love skirts anyway and there are some lovely ones available out there right now.  However, I really don't need any more skirts - I have plenty.  In just about every color of the rainbow too.  I really don't need any new ones right now.

So my second solution?  Wait.

As much as I'd love to have a couple of new pairs of pants right now (and as much as I need to replace a pair or two that are not looking so hot right now!), I would rather wait until I'm actually in a size that fits and looks good.  My goal is to have that size be a size down rather than a size up! :)

Waiting for me is frustrating.

It always has been.

I'm an "I-want-it-nooooow!" kinda girl. 

As the Lord continues to refine me, making me wait for my ideal weight is just one of those things.  And waiting for those new, better looking clothes to go with it is another.

So I wait.

And I continue to work on my exercise amount and my dietary intake.

It's all good.  And I can wait.

What more can I ask for?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goals Update - The Everything-Happens-at-Once Around Here Edition

Nothing like having everything happen at once around here.

I have been furiously trying to dig myself out from under a pile of grading for about 2 weeks now.  But I keep giving assignments so it doesn't completely go away.  And just when I started to make progress, life happens. Never mind trying to keep up with everything else that I need to do for work and school.

The kids were sick - with the flu - again.

One of our neighbor's passed away and there was a funeral to attend.   

Some committee work I've been working on for months now fell completely apart.  (ARRGH!)

Missy had a birthday party to attend this weekend.

The kids had their big fall 'homecoming' festival at school - including singing at worship there on Sunday morning.  (During which time I kept telling myself that no, I could not tell that Missy's skirt wasn't faded and that she really didn't need to wear the pleated skirt that has been on back-order for 2 months! Sigh.)

And then this last week my dad ended up in the hospital with some unknown event making him faint.  He keeled over in the bathroom one morning, cracked his eye socket, cut his eyebrow, and scraped up his face.  And gave himself quite the black eye - which you would expect from a cracked eye socket.  He had a second episode later in the week  - no more black eyes that time! - and they admitted him for observation for a few days. They can't figure it out - all of his tests come back "healthy as a horse!" (What exactly does that mean, by the way...)

And I feel like I've been run over by a freight train.

And two weekends ago I decided that I was going to write out what I had to get done each day so that I would be on track the beginning of November for everything that needs to happen during the holidays and with school, work, etc.   The plan was that I would know exactly what I would need to do each day. No fuss. No muss. No questions.  Just do it.  And things will get done on or ahead of time.  My stress level will go down, not up.  And I'll actually have time for some 'fun' things too.

As of right now I've made it up to Tuesday of last week!  

When will I ever learn that life happens and I just have to plan for it.

Sheesh.

How are your goals coming? Care to share?

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 17


Another week come and gone.  Where does that time go?  It seems like things are just speeding up around here.  Anyway, we're back and we do need to eat! 

After several weeks of stocking the pantry - spending roughly $60/week - we have stuffed shelves and a freezer that can't fit anything more!  The kids and John had to eat a half-empty box of ice cream Saturday when I got home with groceries to fit something in. They didn't even complain about it! :)

My goal over the next few weeks is to eat some of this out - and certainly no more freezer cooking for a while!  We have plenty in there!

The kids are at their baby sitter's on Thursday and Friday, since it is MEA weekend here in Minnesota and they don't have school. So, they don't get a sack lunch on those days.  Also, they have pizza for hot lunch on Wednesday (remember those days?), so no lunch then either!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 17:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Lunch: Waffles with Strawberries and Almonds
Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Apple-Strawberry-Grape Salad

Monday, October 18:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Strawberries
Bag Lunch: Crackers and Cheese, Apples and Peanut Butter, Tomatoes or Carrots, Cookie, Juice Box
Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola
Dinner: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Salad, Apple-Strawberry-Melon Salad

Tuesday, October 19:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
Dinner: Salmon, Roasted Butternut Squash and Potatoes, Melon-Grape-Pear Salad

Wednesday, October 20:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Bananas and Pecans
Lunch: Hot lunch for kids, work lunches for Mom and Dad
Snack for Mom: String Cheese, Peanut Butter Crackers
Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Baking Powder Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Thursday, October 21:
Breakfast: Peanut Butter Pancakes with Strawberry Jam
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Pineapple-Melon-Pear Salad

Friday, October 22:
Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
Lunch for Mom: Leftovers, Yogurt, Cookie, Hot Tea
Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola
Dinner: Stir Fry, Rice, Pineapple

Saturday, October 23:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Applesauce
Lunch: Vegetable Beef Soup, Homemade Bread, Apple Slices
Dinner: Out for Mom and Dad, At a Friend's house for the Kids

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


Saturday, October 16, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - New Life


See this handsome little one?

He's our brand new nephew - now about 2 weeks old.  Cuddled at the moment of the photo in Grandma's loving arms.

John got to see him when he was fresh and new, only hours old.  He's already recovered his birth weight and is doing great.  So is mom.  So is big brother.  So is dad.  And they already got their birth anouncements out and to the respective recipients (how on earth is she that organized?)! :)

I also found out this week that some very dear friends of ours are going to be first-time grandparents in the spring.  They are thrilled!  And so are their daugther and son-in-law!

There's just something so special about new life. 

And we all get a chance to marvel at God's amazing creation and rejoice with others.

What more can I ask for?

Friday, October 8, 2010

In the Refiner's Fire - Loving the Unlovable


I think everyone has one of those lovely relatives (or friends) that are just more than a bit of a challenge to have in the family.  They are demanding, often unreasonable, and extremely self-centered.  In my case, my difficult relative - my aunt - also has bad hygiene and is very uninformed about many things.  To compound matters, she has a degenerative genetic disorder, that will eventually be fatal and effects her intelligence as it progresses.  Because of the disorder, she is continually throwing a pity party, whether the rest of us want to attend or not.

Just over a year ago, I had to make the decision to take my aunt's only child off life support. Alone. Without her there.  And I couldn't reach her by phone when I needed to either.  Then I had to call her and tell her that her daughter had died.  

I had heaps of anger toward my aunt and did not ever want to see her again, much less talk to her or spend time with her.  I ended up in my pastor's office because I knew that I would need to go to my cousin's funeral and at least be civil.  I had no idea of how I would do that.  I was too angry and too frustrated.

I arrived in my pastor's office and opened my mouth to give him a calm (*ahem*) version of what had happened over the last week and a colossal rant came out instead.  When I finished, he said, "Wow. Sounds like you have some forgiving to do." 

Uh...geee.. ya think?   Thanks a ton.

The conversation that followed was literally life changing for me:  I realized with my soul that I am not the one who needs to forgive.  God is the one who forgives and that forgiveness is then able to flow through me.   I don't have to do it.  God does.

To someone who has been a Christian most of her life, this is not a new idea.  The difference was that it finally clicked in my soul.  I don't have to do it.  God does.  And He already forgave us when He sent His only Son to die on the cross.  That means that even though my aunt had done a huge number of things I greatly disapproved of, God still will forgive her if she asks.

Knowing that, I was able to give my aunt forgiveness and spend the next week planning and executing a funeral, cleaning out my cousin's room at her group home, and comforting relatives without so much as wanting to snip at my aunt and her on-again/off-again boyfriend, my less strangle her as I had wanted to before.

You see, I don't like my aunt very much. Honestly, if we weren't related, I probably would have little, if anything, to do with her. I do have to love her - as Christ loves her.  And all I have to do is let the love flow through me.  I don't have to manufacture it myself.  That makes it do-able.  Not necessarily easy, but do-able.

My aunt and her boyfriend (her husband died in 2002) are in the area for a few days to visit this week and we had them over for dinner last night. 

It is the love the God that allows me to have them in my home, although every time they come something ends up broken - and last night was no exception. 
It is the love of God that allows me to use my Grandmother's china for the meal - which my Aunt greatly appreciated the gesture of (the table and dinner are the picture at the top here). 
It is the love of God that allows me to clean my house to my level of 'company clean' even though my aunt and her boyfriend probably haven't bathed in a week and honestly wouldn't notice if the toilet was filthy. 
It is the love of God that allows me to talk with interest over their travels, even though half the conversation is about how he can't understand her disinterest in certain topics and how broke they now are after visiting thus-and-such place.

It is the love of God that allows me to love my unlovable aunt as she needs and deserves as a child of God.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Sabotage!

I've discovered something very important about myself: whenever I make progress on my weight loss, I sabotage myself.

How?

Well, last week I definitely noticed my jeans are fitting better and my arms are more muscular than they have been for while. 

What have I done in this last week?

I have eaten a ton of cheese (which I love but don't get often because John is allergic), had a huge bacon cheeseburger and fries for dinner on Saturday night, ate a whole loaf of french bread by myself (yes, yes, I did - over 2 days mind), ate two hot pockets for lunch - a single serving is one and I haven't bought hot pockets since 1997, ate a long john and a cinnamon roll, ate 4 large sugar cookies from the store, and I'm now drinking a cherry coke. 

Any one of those things is fine - and something that done once in a while is perfectly okay (I eat that cheeseburger maybe twice a year).  Ordinarily I wouldn't have even considered getting the long john or the cinnamon roll or the cookies or the cherry coke.  Any one of those in a 2-month period would be a lot for me.

Why am I doing this?

Partly because I feel like I can "splurge" since my clothes are fitting better. 
Partly because I'm sick of eating well all the time.
Partly because my toe is now healed and I know that I can work out at my normal "level."

Mostly it's because I'm lazy. 
And I'm being selfish.

I want to eat whatever I want - never mind that I didn't really enjoy any of it except the cheeseburger, which is from a fancy restaurant that I love but rarely eat at.  Never mind that I don't enjoy the aftertaste of the long john, cinnamon roll or cookie.  Never mind that there was a perfectly lovely (and cold!) bottle of water in the machine right next to the coke.

I want to be able to 'splurge' often. This used to be my normal mindset and part of what filled our house with stuff and my mind with unease and my hips with extra pounds.

I thought I was over this.

I guess you can say that old habits die hard.

And that changes happen gradually and take time.

All of that's right.

And I guess I have to learn that when I hit a certain point I sabotage myself.

I think I hide behind my weight and I hide behind the weight as a way of staying lazy. 

If I were fit, I'd have to work to stay fit.
If I were fit, I'd have to watch what I eat more than I would like.
If I were fit, I'd have to find new clothes - at least on the bottom half - and I really hate shopping.

I also feel that if I were fit, I'd have less reason to be uncomfortable with me. 

And that's what I really have to wrestle with.

Not the cravings or the sabotage or the work it will take to get there and then stay there.

The fact that I'm still in many ways uncomfortable with who I am - especially the physical me.

Do I have lots of work ahead of me in that department?  Yes.

And it will all be worth it...
Definitely.

How are you doing with your healthy habits?  Care to share?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 3, 2010

How on earth did it get to be October already? I don't know about you, but I think I need another month or so before it can be October.  It just seems like September flew by and I still have a ton of stuff that should have been done last month.  Opps. 

Anyway, at least we're set for food!  We had a super busy weekend and John made a quick run to the store (while I watched sick kids!) to buy milk, bread and crackers.  We usually make our bread, but with sick kids and a busy week ahead, it was just easier to buy it this week!  I will probably bake some later this week, but for now I'm happy that we have a bakery in our local grocery store that sells yummy bread without breaking the bank!

What are we eating this week?  Here's what:

Sunday, October 3
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, Grapes

Monday, October 4:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Bananas
Bag Lunch: Ham and cheese sandwiches, applesauce, baby carrots, animal crackers, juice box
Snack for Mom: French Bread with Blue Cheese and Ham
Dinner:  Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Salad, Cantaloupe

Tuesday, October 5:
Breakfast: Pancakes with Pears and Pecans
Dinner: Harris Pizza, Salad, Watermelon

Wednesday, October 6:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Walnuts
Bag Lunch: Crackers with Sausage and Cheese, Apples or Mandarin Oranges, Grape Tomatoes, Animal Crackers, Juice Box
Snack for Mom: Crackers with Cheese, Apple
Dinner: Pork Stir Fry, Rice, Cantaloupe and Watermelon

Thursday, October 7:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Sliced Pears
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Salad, Pear-Cantaloupe-Grape Salad

Friday, October 8:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal with Bananas
Bag Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Crackers and Cheese, Grape Tomatoes, Cookie, Juice Box
Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola
Dinner: BBQ Chicken and Broccoli Calzones, Grape-Apple-Pear Salad

Saturday, October 9:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Applesauce
Lunch: Minestrone Soup, Homemade Bread, Grapes and Pear Slices
Dinner: Chicken, Potato and Onion Kabobs, Salad, Fruit

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - Fall Leaves of Thankfulness


Ok, so these aren't real leaves, though I love those too!  (And I am going to post on those one of these weeks!).   These are our thankfulness leaves.

Each fall we put something like this on our entry-way coat closet door.  A reminder of all the people and things we're grateful for.  This picture is from 2007. 

In 2008 we ran out of hand leaves before the kids were done saying who they were thankful for.  No things made it on the door that year - just people!  I love that.

And I love that the kids get into this so fast.  Each year we trace hands and Mom (that's me) spends quite a bit of time cutting hands out of several shades of construction paper to get our multi-colored leaves.  John and I and the kids all get to choose what goes on the leaves. I write because John's handwritting is very poor and the kids haven't been old enough to write yet (that might change this year). 

It's a nice way to remember what we're thankful for - we have so much. 

And it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Truly, it's one of my favorite things!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Random Thoughts on Using Time on a Saturday Morning

I have a quiet house this morning. 

John is out of town and the kiddos spent last night with some very dear friends of ours, who are our surrogate family here in the Twin Cities.  Buddy couldn't stand still when he learned they were staying overnight last night!  I told them before they went to school yesterday morning rather than on Thursday night, since I did want them to actually sleep instead of staying awake until the wee hours of the morning due to excitement.  They were excited enough about just visiting (our friends were picking them up from school), and getting them to bed was a 2 hour process as it was. I can't imagine if they had known they were 'having a sleepover' before they went to bed! 

Anyway, I have a quiet house to myself.  And I had one last night. I haven't been 'home alone' in the 5 years since my kids were born so this is a definite treat!

Sleeping in was heavenly.
Sitting in a quiet living room, in my rocking chair with my hot cup of coffee was heavenly too.
Waking up at 630am and realizing that I didn't have to beat the kids out of bed if I wanted true quiet time was a bit weird! :)

I realized something though...

I had time all to myself last night from 730pm until I went to bed (which was about midnight) and I have time to myself this morning until the kiddos come home (right after lunch). 

I can make use of that time or I can squander it.

Maybe it's pathetic of me to clean my bathroom and write up solution sets. 
Maybe it's pathetic of me to balance my budget notebook and clean out the kids' closets and drawers.  Maybe it's pathetic of me to spend some of that time sewing Christmas gifts for the kids. 
Maybe it's pathetic of me to spend that time going through a stack of junk mail that's been sitting in our incoming mail tray for 3 weeks.

After all, I could have....
Watched a movie.
Gone shopping.
Surfed the net.
Spent some time on my embroidery.
Gone to breakfast or dinner with a friend or by myself.

I do have errands to run that involve digging through clothing racks at a consignment shop or thrift store, things I'd like to find out more information on, a pillow case that needs to be embroidered by Christmas time and dinner out without dishes and cooking does sound lovely.

Instead, I cleaned my bathroom last night and talked on the phone to my mom about the medical problems of a relative (he is asking for help and guidance). I talked to my dad and sorted the mail.  I got the summer to fall clothes swap done for the kids and hauled a ton of outgrown clothing downstairs to the laundry room to be washed and sorted for donation.  I got everything in one place to so I could balance our budget notebook this morning. I even did a little sewing.  I did drink a cup of tea while giving John my undivided attention when he called.  And I did take the time to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book for about 30 minutes last night too.

This morning, I'm tackling laundry, my teaching and course planning things, and our budget notebook.  I did take time to have a cup of coffee and rock in my living room longer than normal and spent a bit of extra time in my devotions.

You see, I spent two years being unable to do much of anything.

And having all these unfinished things is what's eating away at my peace and cluttering up my mind and my to-do list.

I'd rather spend my child- and husband-free time yesterday and today helping catch myself up and restoring my peace of mind than spend it on things I can do with relative ease at other times.

There aren't any movies I want to watch right now.
John and I can hire a babysitter and go out to dinner. Or we can take the kids with us for a family outing.
I can go shopping another time - I don't have anything I need to get right now.
My friends and I have semi-regular coffee or breakfast dates anyway.
And my embroidery is getting done in fits and starts around other things and on car trips anyway.

Peace of mind is more important to me than doing something for a splurge and that's what I'm after.  Not really quiet time to myself doing something that sounds good but only brings immediate reward.

A bit pathetic.  Maybe.
Realistic and helpful.  Sure.

Heading toward peace of mind and an uncluttered to do list and house?  I'll take that any day!
What more can I ask for?