Showing posts from January, 2012

In the Refiner's Fire - Contentment

One of the things that I've struggled with my whole adult (and probably teen) life is contentment.

I always thought I would "arrive" somewhere, with something (or things) and be perfectly content and happy.

I guess that's the professional equivalent of riding off into the sunset with prince charming and living happily ever after.

I married my prince charming at 23 and we've been married for 13 1/2 years.  I've spent much of that time lamenting that my life wasn't what I wanted it to be.  Earlier completion of my PhD, an MD for my husband, a big, fancy house, a full handful of children, exotic vacations.  All of those things were on the "want" list.  I wanted to be superwoman and show my children that they could be too.

My life certainly isn't that.

I took 6 years off school - and worked instead - after my Master's Degree instead of perusing that PhD. And went back for it at the age of 32.
My husband was rejected from medical school, not …

Work Home and Family - What Happens When You Clean Out

I already wrote on Friday last week that cleaning out my house has taken away a lot of my desire to spend money on things.  We are so very richly blessed matierally and are finally able to enjoy what we have.

This last year we cleaned out our house.
Okay, this last year and one week of this year. :)

We knew we had a lot of extra "junk".  We knew we needed to come up with a different way to handle the paper that comes into our house.  We knew we had furniture and rooms that weren't working. 

What happens when all of that is gone?

A lot.

Room to work.
Room to play.
Room to grow.

A place to cuddle up and read a book.
A TV that doesn't take "center stage" in the room.
A table to leave out an un-finished game of chess or a half-finished puzzle.
A space to pin patterns and cut quilt squares.
A bedroom for each of our 2 children and a comfortable space for guests.
Organized craft and sewing supplies.
Plenty of working markers and crayons - and they're easy to …

Healthy Habits in 2012 - Snack Attack

Snacking is the bane of my existence.

Or at least my battle to loose weight.

Meals I do fine with, snacking is what sets me back. A lot.

One of my goals for this year is to figure this monster out once and for all.

Some things I have come up with that fill me up, are relatively low in calories (around or under 200), and I think are yummy are:

* Sliced Apple dipped in 1 tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter
* A single-serving container of Greek Yogurt with 1 tbsp of homemade granola
* 2 Wasa Crackers spread with one wedge Laughing Cow Cheese
* An Orange and 3 Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels
* A Single Serving Packet of Oat Revolution instant Oatmeal with Raisins Added
* 1/2 c Homemade Trail Mix and an Orange
* A Grapefruit with 8 Cinnamon Almonds
* A Homemade Breakfast "Cookie" (think the store-bought breakfast cookies here, only better!)
* Small 2% Chai Latte and 5 Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels
* Three mini-scones (I love the Archer Farms Cranberry Orange Scones!)

Honestly, I hate the…

Goals - Week of January 8, 2012

One of the things that I've learned about myself this last year, is that my eyes are bigger than my energy and time.  I like to think I can accomplish way more than I have time for.  And that really stressed me out.  And that definitely wasn't worth it!

Part of it is that I'm still trying to get caught up after being sick for 2 years.  Part of it is that I'm really impatient.  Part of it is that I like to think that I can be superwoman, even though my head knows that it's really not possible or even desirable.

So, fewer goals for each week, each day, each month, each year. 

Inspired by Crystal, here are my goals for this week:

* Return my contact for this semester (it's due this week)
* Take some items I have in my house that should be at work back to work
* Organize my paperwork, notes, etc. from this last semester
* Outline my first unit for this semester

* Finish two research proposals that have been half-finished for a while
* Send 5 emails …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 8, 2012

Mmmm - Salmon!  I love fish - most seafood actually - and salmon is one of those things that we try to have on  hand at all times because it's good for us - all those omega 3's - and we just love it (all 4 of us!).   We are fortunate enough to have a neighbor who telecommutes to Alaska for work, and she supplies us with fresh salmon a couple of times a year.  I also have a cousin who lives there and sends us freezer-packed salmon when her freezer gets too full.  Yes, I am totally spoiled!

We're working on eating from the pantry this month and a $50 for the month grocery budget.  Not too shabby this last week - I spent $17 and change on milk, fruit, chicken noodle soup, diced tomatoes and salad greens.  The fruit should last us into next week and the salad might too, but I will need to buy more milk.  The chicken noodle soup and tomatoes are for the pantry, so it should last us a while.   There's a couple of good things on quite a sale this week, so we'll see how f…

Frugal Friday - Cleaning Out

When I heard about Crystal's new book, I knew I needed to buy it. Out came the Swagbucks cards and I pre-ordered.  After reading the reviews, I had to really laugh.  Cleaning out? Setting Goals?  Both things I know we need to work on.

We did a lot of cleaning out in 2011.
A lot of cleaning out.

And one of the surprising things that happened along with that was realizing that we really don't need anything much.

We have plenty of clothes.
We have plenty of household items.
We have plenty (or more than plenty!) of toys and games and books.

We didn't ask for much for Christmas this year as a result.

Missy needed some new tights.
Buddy needed a new pair of black pants for school.
John needed some new workout wear.
I asked for a recipe box to better organize my motly collection of recipes.

Really good chocolate, body wash, a new Barbie and a Lego set rounded things out.

Even though I haven't read Crystal's book yet, I will agree with her that cleaning out certainly helpe…

In the Refiner's Fire - Enough Already!

As I said in a couple of posts earlier this week, it was a very difficult year for us in 2011.

Not because of any one particular thing, but because of all the little things.

We had a number of friends go through some really terrible things - I think watching is sometimes harder than experiencing it yourself.  These events included deaths, illnesses (mostly cancers, though a couple of strokes were in there too), divorces, and the huge transitions of moving elderly or ill family into care facilities or taking on that care themselves. 

We had a huge upheaval at our home church starting about 2 years ago that continues to fester and grow and not be resolved.  This is especially hard since we need the support of our faith community for our seminary journey.  The bishop and his office have been terrific through all this and John's mentor pastor has been terrific too.  We had a lot of "sniping" from the members of our church community - criticism about where we send our childr…

Healthy Habits in 2012 - 2011 in Review

Well, it's a new year and that means it's time to sit back, take stock and set goals for this new year.

Or something like that!
In 2011, let's see:

* I got certified as a Jazzercise instructor.
* I lost about 10 lbs. (I gained about 5lbs somewhere along the process as I gained muscle mass, so I'm only down 5lbs from my original weight.)
* I gained enough muscle that I can do things like planks, balance on one leg for long time and the like - which I couldn't do before.
* Lost 5 inches off the widest part of my hips
* Lost 2 inches off my waist
* Lost 3 inches off 1" below my waist
* Lost 4 inches off each of my thighs! (Whoo hoo!)
* I've been working out at least 30 minutes each day of the week - mostly learning new routines and teaching classes.

It's been amazing and I'm seeing defined ab muscles (well on my way to a 6-pack here!) and better definition in my upper arms and thighs.  I'm also feeling  better, having fewer flare ups of my chronic…

Goals - 2011 In Review

Boy, 2011 has come and gone.

How did that happen?

This year was a very strange year for us.  It was very, very difficult emotionally - and we aren't really sure why other than that we were definitely doing way too much.  But it was very difficult before the amount of things on our schedules exploded too. 

I think for me, part of it is uncertainty. I don't do well with that. I'm a planner.  And I like to know what's going to happen.

A lot of my 2011 goals ended up flying right out the window.

Here's what got done:
* I got certified as a Jazzercise instructor.
* We got the house almost all the way cleaned out (close enough that I should be able to finish it this week - which I have off.)  Close enough that I'm calling that goal met!
* I met my price goal in filling Operation Christmas Child Boxes.

Here's what didn't get done:
* My dissertation (though I'm almost there!)
* Reaching my target weight (though I'm close there too!)
* The front flower …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 1, 2012

Another New Year!  Wow! 

We're looking at making some changes to our cooking plan in this new year, but in the meantime, we have our menu plan for this week!  I did a quick run to the grocery to pick up milk and some fruit after being out of town over the holidays and we made our 3x/year run to Sam's Club to stock up on things like snacks for the kids to have at snack time at school (they have to bring their own - no homemade allowed) and vanilla, yeast and other things like that.  We're planning on doing another $50 grocery budget this month - kick start the year's savings again.  So, we're eating mostly from the freezer and pantry this month.  We did buy frozen crab legs on sale this weekend for John's birthday dinner this week - that price comes out of our gift budget and is one of his main birthday gifts.  We're so fortunate that crab legs are on sale this time of year!

Okay, after all that - here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, Januar…

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - A New Year!

Can you believe it? 

Where did 2011 go?

Didn't we just get started?

Whether we're ready or not, 2012 is actually here.

This last year has been a big challenge for us - and there wasn't really a single reason why.  It was difficult in so many ways and I often felt very silly thinking that things were difficult, since we didn't have the huge financial, medical, educational or social difficulties that so many others face. For us, it was a classic case of too many straws on the proverbial camel's back.  Some straws were chosen, others handed to us without our consent, and some were things that were entirely God's doing.

This coming week, I'll review this past year and post my hopes for the coming year.

I love a fresh start and I am fortunate enough to get two of them - right now at the beginning of the calendar year, and again in September when the school year starts over again. 

I am so very grateful for everything that has happened in 2011.

And I am even m…