Sunday, January 30, 2011

What works for you

Ali Edward's blog was one of the first blogs I began reading in late 2006 or early 2007. I started reading her column in a scrapbooking magazine and quickly became a regular reader of her blog. I really enjoyed this post from last week. Her focus was on working at home, but it had information that is applicable to so many families.

Here are my favorite lines from this in-depth post:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

(from the poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver)

“Being busy does not bring meaning to my life.” (From Tara Whitney's blog)

"I love being a working Mom. I love my family. I love my work. I love that I get to work from home. I especially love that my family is a big part of the things I create and the work I do." from Ali's blog post.

(Mine would be slightly different "I love being a working Mom. I love my family. I love my work. I love that I get to work at a university. I love my short commute.")

I learned a lot from Ali's post and and love how the internet allows us to share and connect. I do not feel the isolation that some mothers felt in the past because I can connect with other moms on Facebook, blogs, and in person. Yet, we have to be careful with the ability to more easily share and connect. We have to fight the urge to compare our lives to others in a way that makes us feel inferior. The Frugal Girl made a point of posting pictures of her messy office one day because blog readers had gotten the impression that her house was always clean. We all have our challenges, but you just may not know what is challenging in someone else's life.

I try to focus on what works for us. Meal planning works for us. They are simple dinners with some pre-packeaged ingredients, since we need to get dinner on the table quickly. Grocery shopping weekly works for us. Having a set system to divide up household chores and daycare drop-off and pick-up works for us. Routines during the week and quiet family time on the weekends works for us. Sometimes we get off track and some days are harder than others, but most days are good.

Book Club

 I spent the beginning of last week reading and preparing to host book club. I enjoyed the book but did not finish it until the night before book club. We had fun discussing The Happiness Project and happiness in general. By "liking" the author, Gretchen Rubin, on Facebook, I was able to receive signed bookplates and discussion questions for book club by responding to her posts. It was neat to be invited to email an author for things! Unfortunately, the signed book plates do not go well with my friends' Kindle and Nook. I am still buying those "old-fashioned" hardcover or paperback books.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Alex is picking up words quickly now. He knows the color yellow. I think that he learned this at daycare, but I am not sure. I know that his new teacher works on having them put away one toy before getting out another one. We are trying to reinforce this at home, but Alex is not as interested in learning to put toys away.

Friday, January 28, 2011

one weekend 2 shots (January 22-23)

On Saturday we had beautiful weather, so I was inspired to trim back the bushes before they took over the driveway and sidewalk. Alex was so well behaved on Sunday morning that I forgot that he is a toddler. We had fun playing and reading books before going to Michaels and the grocery store. I stocked up on adhesives (for scrapbooking and making cards) and groceries - both are important.

Alex is pictured on January 22nd wearing John's hat and shirt. He had fun playing in these oversized clothes for a while.

Alex is enjoying the Tag Junior books he received for Christmas from his Grandma Mickey. He is pictured on January 23rd in his Star Wars shirt and Elmo slippers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mama, Sit Down

When I told Alex it was time for bed, he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the coffee table. Then he said "Mama, sit down" and gave me a crayon to color. He managed to delay bedtime for a few minutes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Alex Photos

Here are a couple of Alex photos that I had not posted yet.

Alex can drink out of a cup without a lid, but it is a messy process. He likes to play with the milk, so we still use a sippy cup often.
Photo taken 12/21/10.

Alex is trying to take over my computer! I often find my desktop folders renamed with random letters and symbols. (I need to remember to log out of the computer when it is not in use.) Alex really likes to the look at the photo screen saver, which shows random photos from my iPhoto. It turns out that most of the photos are of him... surprise! (Photo taken 1/15/11).

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Artwork

Alex transitioned to a new toddler room earlier this month, so we just received more of his artwork. It sounds like he will be in this room until he moves to a preschool room at age 3. I hope that his younger friends from his last room get transitioned into this room too. Later in this room, we will face the joys of potty training...


My mom and I started going to a Zumba class for faculty and staff last semester one evening a week after work. That class is not offered this semester, so we decided to try a general Zumba class today after work at Campus Rec. The room was packed with students when we arrived, but we did recognize one other staff member from our previous class. She left part-way through the class, but my mom and I made it the entire time.

The class was fun, but I did feel a little old. Most of these students were born between 1988-1992. When we danced to Michael Jackson's Beat It, I could not help but think about how none of them were born when this song came out...

The reality of working with college students (especially freshmen) is that they will all be around 18, but I will keep getting older. I realized in a conversation today that I am no longer one of the "young" advisors. But, the good news is that I don't really feel my age.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blog Design Giveaway

My blog got a little TLC tonight. (Playing with Blogger is definitely more fun than cleaning my bathroom!) I grabbed a free Blogger background from Visual Serendipity. The site also provides great tutorials and information. Lynne offers a variety of blog design services, and you can enter to win free a blog design package through January 31, 2011. Best Wishes to Lynne on her new endeavors! (Yep, I am also using this blog post to enter the contest:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happiness Project: January Update

Here is what I am working on for my January Happiness Project:
1. Try to go to sleep earlier
2. Exercise
3. Toss, restore, organize
4. Tackle a nagging task

I inevitably modified the author's exact goals from the book, but that is good. Gretchen wants us to make the project our own. (I'll just refer to her like we are friends...)

I am still staying up too late during the week, but I am more aware of it. I really enjoy my free time in the evenings and am sad to end it. I am better about recognizing when I am tired and not pushing my self to stay up.

My mom and I are back to exercising together once a week. We are trying a new Zumba class this week. I also try to do some walking or an exercise DVD. I am still thinking about adding in some running... (I do love my running shoes even though they log more miles doing other tasks!)

We have moved around some furniture in our house, including moving bookshelves to the third bedroom. I really like how we are better utilizing the guest/computer/storage/Grandma room.

We started tackling 2 nagging tasks today (not just 1 but 2)! It is good to cross things off the to-do list.

I had a happy 3-day weekend and am looking forward to discussing this book with my book club at the end of the month.

one weekend 2 shots (January 15-16)

We are wrapping up a three day weekend here. It is so nice to have an extra day off!
Moo Baa La La La! has become one of Alex's favorite books. He likes to make the animal noises in the book. It is a library book, so we will max out our renewals on it. (It may be worth adding to our book collection.) He really enjoyed reading his books this weekend!
We have moved from baby-proofing on to toddler-proofing. Alex can now open door knobs and reach our counter tops. Alex can open the front door, so it needs to be locked all the time now. Yesterday Alex opened the door to the cleaning closet, which is where I keep all the cleaning products that I don't want him to get. It was time to bring out the door knob covers. The adults around the house are learning to use them, and hopefully Alex will not learn how to use them anytime soon...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sometimes It is Good Just to be Home

Tuesday was a busy day at work and mentally exhausting. With the start of the spring semester, students were still sorting out their schedules and various issues. I picked up Alex from daycare and found out that he had a rough day in his new room. It was only his second day there, and he was sad and dealing with diaper rash. It was the first time in over eighteen months of daycare that a teacher told me that he did not have a good day. (Note to self: do not take the good days for granted.)

I was looking forward to Stamp Club that evening after work. Some creative time sounded good even though I was tired. John had to work late and Alex needed a bath to help with the diaper rash. (Dr. Smith's Ointment has worked the best for Alex.) I had undressed Alex and was running a luke warm bath for him when it began. He had to pee - A LOT. It was all over the corner of the bathroom, including the rug and on my pants. I was shocked and did not know how to respond at first.

We got everything cleaned up and Alex went to bed. I did a load of laundry, and John gave the bathroom a really good cleaning when her came home. (Thank you Honey!) By that time, I knew that it was best just to stay home that evening. I put on my pajamas early and enjoyed some quiet time. I have realized the key to making all of this work (two full-time jobs, a toddler, a house, and two dogs) is to NOT try to do everything. Sometimes it is ok to stay home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Contest Entries

On Tuesday Stampin' Up! announced the winners of their My Digital Studio contest. You can view the winning entries here. Even though I did not win, I thought I'd share my entries, which were 2 scrapbook pages and a card.

This was the first time I entered a big scrapbooking contest. It can be challenging to meet the contest rules and still create the things that you want to create. The good thing was that it motivated me to create more pages with some of my favorite photos. I do not know if I will enter any more scrapbooking or card contests. It is important to me to just keep my scrapbooking and card making for FUN.

Monday, January 3, 2011

one weekend 2 shots (January 1-2)

We had a quiet New Year after being in Ohio for a week. We are mostly unpacked, but I am still catching up on laundry. We also have plans to reorganize part of the house in the new year. John and I both went back to work today, but we could have used another week off just to get things done around the house.

My dad brought over two framed samplers from his family, specifically from Nana's family. One of them dates back to 1834, and they survived a fire at Nana's house. They have a new home in our kitchen. My photo does not do it justice, but I still wanted to share. (My parents have a sampler that Nana made in the 1940's.)
I needed a second photo, so I took one of my very MESSY desk. It turns out that a bigger desk can just mean a bigger mess. I got some great crafty Christmas gifts that I need to use. My desk is on the list of reorganization projects...
For you fellow Mac users: I liked Becky Higgin's blog post about editing photos in iPhoto. I used more of the features on these two photos and am happy with the results.
Have a good week!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

22 Months

Alex is 22 months today, and lately we just tell people that he is "almost 2" when they ask how hold he is. Here is a (digital) scrapbook page about toddlerhood that was based on a previous blog entry.

Last Christmas Celebration 12/27/10

Our Christmas celebrations lasted for over a week and wrapped up with John's family on Monday. His mom's side of the family likes to play cards, so Alex had his dinner and watched them play Euchre. Gotta start them young!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The fun part of snow is sledding. Alex went sledding in his grandma's yard on December 27th, and we went to the Englewood Reserve on December 28th to find a small hill for more sledding. Alex had fun and did not seem to mind the cold. By the time we left Ohio, the snow had melted.

More Christmas 12/26/10

On December 26th, we celebrated Christmas with my extended family and continued to celebrate with John's family.

Most of my extended family made to my aunt's house for our "white elephant" gift exchange, dinner, and good times. It was great to catch up and introduce Alex to many of them. I am thankful for time with my Oma and that Alex got to meet her. Alex is pictured playing with Heather (my cousin's wife) and John.

We headed back to John's mom house for more time with family. Alex had fun playing with his Uncle Nate.

I cannot forget about the dogs. Sammie belongs to John's mom and Bella belongs to John's sister, and they are both great with kids. We get a kick out of how Sammie sits with her hind legs straight back.

10 Highlights of 2010

In no particular order:

Alex learned to walk and talk.
Alex moved from the Infant Room to the Young Toddler Room at the Child Development Center.
Alex turned 1 and shares a birthday with his daddy.
Sara taught her first college class, a freshmen seminar.
John's softball team, the .com/Padres had a winning fall season.
We paid off a car loan.
We paid off Sara's student loan.
Thanks to John's hard work and some help from our neighbors, we have a great backyard.
Alex took his first plane ride to Evansville for his Aunt Jenni's graduation in May.
We had a great trip to Ohio for Christmas.

2011 & Happiness

Happy 2011!

My goal for 2011 is to "Eat Less and Move More." I am borrowing this phrase from another scrapbooker/blogger, Cathy Zielske. I have 16 more pounds to lose to reach my goal. I am mixed about giving myself a deadline, but my next birthday (June) does sound reasonable. To reach my goal, I am using the Weight Watchers Online program and the Rowdy New U Wellness program at work. Weight Watchers recently changed how they calculate their points, so I am relearning the program. At first this was annoying, but it will help me refocus. (I ate more and moved less over the holidays...)

In the past, I have chosen One Little Word to focus on for the year. I learned about this concept from Ali Edwards' blog. My 2007 word was DISCOVER and my 2008 word was CHALLENGE. I have not chosen a word the last couple of years. (My unofficial words were BABY and ALEX.)

I have chosen the word HAPPINESS for 2011 and will be working on the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I heard about this book a few times throughout the last year and like the concept of finding happiness within your own life. While little changes may help me be happier, I do not need to make large changes in my life. I was excited to have the opportunity to choose this book for our January book club. I plan to use and blog about the book throughout 2011.

For January, Boost Vitality, Gretchen set these goals for her Happiness Project:
1. Go to sleep earlier
2. Exercise better
3. Toss, restore, organize
4. Tackle a nagging task
5. Act more energetic

I like her list, so I will work on these items this months. Some months I may change it up a bit.

I think that connecting my word and a book with help me focus on the word throughout the year. Here's to happiness in the new year!