Category: Daily Life

My Goals for 2014 – Let it go! Let it GO!!

Let it Go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone. Here I stand, in the light of day, let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. (Lyrics from the song Let it Go from the Movie FrozenIt is now the beginning of 2014 and I took my kids to see Frozen last week. “Let it go, Let it go!” is my mantra. It’s time to stop hanging on to the things, beliefs and behaviors that are not supporting me, not serving me. I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is holding me back but me.

I started by going from 5 drawers full of paper to 3 drawers. I signed up for e-statements from any merchant that offered them. I emptied my office of clutter and finished off a pile of tasks that have been hanging over my head for some time.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that have a tendency to bend over backwards to make things easier for other people (especially my kids). Then, I get frustrated when I’m at my wits end because I’m overwhelmed and doing things for other people but not finishing my own tasks. I’m terrible about asking for help until I’m at my breaking point. I’ve been making a effort to look at my weekly to do list and identify things that can be handed off to others. This also requires me to let go of my flawed perception that my way is the BEST way. I keep reminding myself that DONE is the best.

After the Christmas vacation that wouldn’t end (thank you Mother Nature for that little temper tantrum) I spent some time evaluating where I am and where I want to be. Now I’m working on how to get there. It’s a commonly held belief that sharing your goals publicly makes you more accountable. Gahhh that’s scary. I mean what if I fail? On the other hand, if I make my goals public, perhaps people will better understand why I have to regretfully say no when they ask me to do something. I tend to reflexively say “yes” or “I’ll do it.” I’m a firm believer that you don’t get to complain about the problem if you aren’t actively trying to be part of the solution. This year, I’m trying to narrow the focus of problems I’m trying to solve and as for the rest of them? “Let it go! Let it go!”

They are definitely still works in progress, but here are my goals for 2014:

  • I will devote 5 hours a week to non-contracted writing. Non-contracted writing is fiction, essays, blog posts for which I’m not paid. Yet.
  • I will find one more regular writing gig. No someone looking for a writer? Please visit my freelance writing web site.
  • I will place one essay in a new publication.
  • I will drop 10 pounds by 12/31/14 I have tried this in the past and had some success, but I suspect there are some physiological reasons why I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. I have an appointment to address this issue this week. I also have co-conspirator in exercise this time around and we share similar goals.
  • I will make a profit of $500 from Choffy sales (more on this in future blog posts).

What about you? What are your goals 2014? Don’t have any? Check out my post on Live to Write, Write to LiveI talk about several goal setting worksheets (Hint: Some of them are even free!).

It's time to see what I can do. To Test the limits and break through. No Right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free! Lyrics from Let it Go from the Movie Frozen

 

 

 

 

DIY Halloween Costume – Steve from Minecraft

It’s that time of year again. Halloween! Crafty Cathy I am not, and I’m also not fond of spending $$$ for poorly made crap. This year our primary costume makers were tied up with other obligations. Something about a son/grandson’s wedding. 🙂  So I was on my own. Said wedding did buy me a little time as we didn’t have our normal Columbus Day festivities at the lake, but there are still many other spooky celebrations to be enjoyed and opportunities to collect candy.

Fish is taking a pass this year. A combination of age and food sensitivities put an end to her trick or treating career. Mim announced he wanted to be Steve from Minecraft. If you aren’t familiar with Minecraft, it is an a video game that involves highly pixelated characters and structures. There are two different modes creative, where you can build all kinds of buildings and survival mode where you fight for your life against Creepers (green pixelated monsters). Steve is the main character.

A quick web search turned up a pre-made cardboard mask. $30 for flimsy cardboard?? No dice! Besides, I still had 4 days left, I could do this right?

Thankfully, I found this Instructables costume.  A little beyond my skill set, (he lost me at sheet rock screws) but definitely some useful information including downloadable “skins” that could be modified to fit any box.

Here’s my supply list

  • A recycled box large enough to accommodate your child’s brain case.
  • A package of full sheet mailing labels ($9.99)
  • Photo editing program (I used Adobe Elements)
  • An Exact-o knife & blades
  • A mental ruler and cutting mat

Assembly

First I found a box and cut a whole for Mim’s ginormous head. No really it’s HUGE! The kid has been wearing adult sized helmets for at least 3 years.

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Next, I sized the downloaded the skin files from the Instructables site to 8.5 x 11 and printed them using the borderless setting. I made a few extra copies and even created separate files that were flesh toned and t-shirt toned. So I could fill in as need be.

Steve Face in Adobe Elements

Then it was time to trim the labels and apply them to the box.

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Meet Steve.

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Here is a 360 Degree view of the head.

360 Degree View

 

 

 

You know you live in the country when . . .

The other day I was out walking with a friend. We’re up to 4 miles with a 16 minute per mile pace. YAY US!! But, I digress, we were out walking and passed a house where a crew of men was taking down some trees.

My friend said “Oooh, that’s a nice one.”

I turned to look thinking she was referencing something like this.

'Construction Worker' photo (c) 2010, Phillip - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

No, actually it was a smaller version of this.

'P5100013' photo (c) 2008, Kid Cowboy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

For my city slicker friends, she was ogling a wood chipper.  God, I love living in New Hampshire!

Remarkable Days – September 10th and 11th

The beginning of September is always chaos, back-to-school end-of-summer followed by September 10th and 11th. Both days hold significance for me.

September 10th.

A close up of my grandparents grave maker with my mother's information addedIt is remarkable to me because it was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 74 this year. Her birthday has passed without us talking before but this time there wasn’t even an answering machine on which to leave a message.

Instead, I spent the day filing to be named voluntary administrator of her “estate”. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but circumstances change and the most reasonable path is for me to take over. There are no assets to speak of. She had no house and lived month to month on social security. I’m hoping to gain access to what little money was left in her checking account to offset some of the costs of her burial. If I haven’t already said it, death is expensive! We didn’t even go the gold and champagne route. The burial and service was respectful, but um, budget friendly and it was still pricey.

After my visit to the courthouse, I went to visit her grave. Per her request, she was cremated and buried with her parents. I received notification from the stone company that her information had been added to the headstone and I wanted to see it.

It was a drab day. I stopped and purchased a pot of mums some food for a picnic lunch and a cup of tea. It took me two tries to actually find the grave. I was in the right section, but as you might imagine, a Boston cemetery is literally teeming with headstones with Irish surnames. It’s enough to make you say OY! By the time I found the grave, it was raining, so I had to have my picnic in my car.

The day we buried the urn, I really felt her presence. I felt, loved, cared for and supported. Much of that is attributable to being surrounded by family and close friends, but there was more. I just had this sense that she was there.

When I went back this time, there was no such feeling. It was just a stone in the ground. In an odd way, that’s good. I’ve long thought that that graves were an odd tradition. I would much rather be remembered at the places where people shared happy experiences with me. I’m glad we were able to fulfill her wishes and that it looks nice (that would have mattered to her), but I don’t feel the need to go back. I’ll stop by again as I can, but more importantly, I’ll remember her when share a happy memory from my childhood with my kids or I eat fried clams.

 

September 11th

Close up of the some of the names at the South Tower at the 9-11 memorial. Twelve years out, the solemnity of the day seems to be waning. As documented by this blog post and this one, businesses are using it as an opportunity to promote their brands. I don’t mind brands like Chik-fila and Huggies tweeting remembrances, but AT&T kind of puts me off (and I am an AT&T customer), it only goes down hill the farther you scroll down in that second post.

I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed with my own remembrances of 9/11. I paused briefly. I watched a touching video and on Facebook, I read a few accounts of where people were when all hell broke loose. Even twelve years later, the events of that morning still haunt me but yesterday, was more or less a regular day for me. This was as much by necessity as a lack of any organized activity to attend. I have a friend who watched the ceremony online. I couldn’t. I knew it would wreck me for the day. I don’t want to forget, but remembering is hard.

The new tower on the former site of the Twin TowersFor each generation there is a touchstone, for those before me, it was December 7, 1941. For me and so many others it is September 11, 2001. I don’t ever want the horror to fade. I don’t ever want us to become complacent. Too many lives were lost that day and in the years that have followed. I don’t ever want to forget, but remembering the agony is often too much for many people, myself included. There has to be a middle ground a way to remember what happened, and to celebrate our progress towards recovery. I need a way to share this with my kids so it stands out in their minds. I want to protect them from the pain, but remind them of what happened. I want to remind them of all that was lost, remind them of our collective strength and encourage them to contribute to the greater good.

I don’t have a solution, I just know I don’t want to forget. I marked my calendar for July 11, 2014 to begin the process of planning some kind of remembrance that I can personally live with for September 11, 2014.

Did you do anything to mark the passing of another September 11th?

 

Huzzah! It’s BLT season

Oh how I love the end of August and beginning of September. I LOVE fresh tomatoes. Really big, red, juicy, fresh tomatoes. Ours acquired a bad case of horn worms this year, but I digress. Ever since I read Harriet the Spy, I’ve loved tomato sandwiches with mayo. I love tomatoes with mozzarella, in a salad, or with just a little salt. But, by far, one of my favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes is in a BLT.

Turns out I was doing it wrong. I saw first saw this Life Hack on the Buzzfeed List 22 Things You’re Doing Wrong, but it’s worth noting it originated on Life Hacker

Last week I finally remembered to try the Bacon Basketweave method of BLT making.

Before cooking and after cooking pictures of 3 pieces of bacon woven together.

Pros

  • A much neater sandwich
  • No escaping bacon
  • Bacon in every bite

Con

  • It takes longer to cook bacon in the oven than in a frying pan.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

The bacon weave on top of fresh tomatoes and lettuce on lightly toasted white bread with a swipe of mayo

Summer 2013 Summary

Well, I guess by now, it’s tradition that this blog is ignored during the months of July and August. 2013 was no different. Now that summer is “over” here’s a quick look back at what was going on when I wasn’t here.

June

On the left Mim & his tent mate at Cub Scout Camp on the right the San Diego Sky Line

As the school year wrapped up, Mim headed off to his second year at Cub Scout camp.  Once again he had a blast and this year, he even tried a few new foods. Whoo Hooo! At the end of the month, I headed out to San Diego for a whirlwind trip as part of the leadership team for the 2014 NOAH conference. I am coordinating social activities, so basically, I got to play tourist. San Diego is a lovely city and I’m looking forward to getting back there!

July

July 2013

The highlight of July was Sarah & Bob’s wedding. They’ve been together since high school and she is the first of the next generation of cousins to get married. It was a lovely wedding held on Cape Cod and afforded me the opportunity to laugh and visit with family and long-time friends. This is my mom’s side, so it was even more meaningful for me to reconnect with everyone.

Both kids attended NOAH family camp, and had a blast, while we were at the wedding. Special thanks to Grammy for keeping an eye on them while she also ran the camp! Mim did a Lego camp over what was possibly THE hottest week of the summer. Fish did a half day video production camp and later in the month they both did a three day Apple Video camp (bonus it was FREE!).  While there, she made her first personally funded major purchase, an iPad Mini. She baby sat and saved enough for the Mini, AppleCare, a screen protector and case. They’ve been inseparable ever since.  We squeezed in showings of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 as well. At the end of the month, Mim tested for his 3rd degree black belt.

August

August 2013

August was a magical month.  We kicked it off by surprising the kids with a trip to Florida. We blew the trip off the surprise chart when we announced that we were going on a Disney Cruise. The vacation requires at least a post or two of explanation, but suffice to say it was an AMAZING experience. We rounded out the trip with stops at The Kennedy Space Center and SeaWorld, more info to follow.

Sprinkled in between were a few trips to the lake, our annual weekend with our friends the L’s (I didn’t take ONE picture!), the occasional play date, and several trips to the water park (we bought season’s passes).  We also celebrated Kristen and Ed’s marriage and celebrated Nicole as she prepares to marry my nephew Jeff. We ended the month with our 4th annual Back-to-School breakfast the day before school started. Then, it was time for the real thing!

Fish and Mim on their first day of school.

Now that I read back on all we did, it’s no wonder we had a laid back Labor Day weekend.  We all needed it!

9

Dear Mim,

Mim in front of a forsythia plantAnd now you are nine. Wow, it was a great year for you. It was a year of learning and growing both physically and emotionally. Together we learned about engine speeds and we now have the words we need to talk about energy levels and how to manage them. You are working on strengthening your fine motor skills (writing) and your core strength and continue to improve. You are still the happiest kid I know. You meet the world with a big smile and a hearty laugh. You bring joy everywhere you go and frequently have memorable quips.

Sadly, you lost a grandmother this year. We weren’t able to ease you into exposure to the emotions and rituals of death like we were with Fish. Still, you handled it all like a champ. You had some questions, and tears, but mostly, you just went along with the flow and provided some bright spots in the bleakness.

You dabbled in Star Wars this year, but your interests moved to Hot Wheels and Battle Force Five (a.k.a. BF5). Not too long before she died, you were talking on the phone with Muzzie. She asked you about your interest in Star Wars and you replied “Actually, I’m more of a Hot Wheels kind of guy.” I could hear her laughing from across the room.

Mim jumping on a rockYou and your sister still get along. There is the expected grousing once in a while, but overall you’re good to each other. You share a game on the iPad called Virtual Families. You two have these in-depth conversations about who is sick, who needs more vitamins, who got a job, who is going to college and who died. They are very funny to listen to and occasionally very random. For example, “I accidentally sold the couch.”

You have very distinct ideas about how things should be done and who is responsible for what. Sometimes I wish you’d set those classifications aside and just do what needs to be done with out thought to whose turn it is, but hopefully that will come with time.

Mim and his karate instructor with Mim's Red/white/blue beltYou are now a green belt in karate and just celebrated two years of perfect attendance. You’ve signed up for six more months and I’m hopeful you continue beyond that. This summer promises to be an exciting one with stints at Cub Scout camp, Lego camp, and NOAH Camp and knowing you, LOTS of reading.

You are still my early bird although lately, you’re beside me with the iPad building your empire on Minecraft. I’ll take snuggles however they come.

You are a bundle of energy and life with you is never dull. Thanks for always being a ray of joy. Looking forward to all the coming year has in store for you.

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mom