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Self Love.

Today’s daily NaBloPoMo prompt challenged us to take ONE DAY to think about all of the things we love about ourselves that maybe we have no control over. (Because most days we focus on hating the things we have no control over. In my case? The vein on my forehead.) So! Today it’s all about the self love.

Things I Love About Myself

IMG_2917My curls. I hate my hair COLOR (I know! I’m already doing it wrong!) but after a childhood of fighting them, I really learned to love my curls as an adult. I think it probably really started in my early twenties when my hair got longer and I enjoyed the look of my giant mane. I still hadn’t perfected care/styling – so I didn’t love the curls as consistently as I do now, but I have loved them the better part of the last 15+ years. If flat irons had existed when I was a teenager? I’m not sure I would have ever learned to embrace the curls, so I’m VERY glad I was forced to learn to love them.

My eye color. I just like having blue eyes. I don’t think there’s anything shocking about their shade of blue, but I do like having blue eyes.

My punctuality. My fear of being late is what drives my tendency to be perpetually early everywhere I go. And I am SO VERY glad this is not something I ever have to think about. I’m actually so early everywhere that – MOST of the time – when those last-minute things happen that make everyone else late, happen? They just make me ON TIME. Case and Point: One day we left for school, got to the school and in the drop off line when Nikki realized she had forgotten something dire. I let Wes out of the car and we ran back home and we grabbed what she needed, and we both assumed I’d have to check her in with a “tardy”. But, nope. We were still 5 minutes early.

I read articles sometimes “explaining” why Moms are late and there is just no part of me that relates to that. I have all of the same things happen, forgotten shoes or missing underwear, but my natural tendency to be early comes with a deep awareness of what needs to be done before we walk out the door. And I add at least a 5-minute cushion on everything. I always give us AT LEAST 15 minutes to get anywhere, even if it’s 5 minutes down the road. I assume it will take us 5 minutes to get from the front door, to pulling out the driveway. So, right there I’ve already often given us a 10-minute buffer with our “out the door” time. And then, on the inside I’m aware of what needs to be packed and who needs to be dressed and there’s just a natural watch-dog in me that keeps an eye on the clock and the children and makes sure everyone has everything they need AT LEAST 10 minutes before we need to be out the door.

And I don’t really give it much thought. It’s all very innate. And I’m VERY grateful for that.

My love of reading. I’m not sure if this is something I was born with or something I learned so early it feels like I was born with it, but either way, I’m very glad it’s there. I do sometimes wish I was drawn to more “significant” books – but for the most part I’m just happy with the desire I have to always be reading something.

My empathy. My husband and I talk about this a lot. It sometimes is a curse, but 90% of the time I’m very grateful for the natural ability I have to put myself in other people’s shoes. This is almost a fault at times because I have a tendency not to push for things I want/need because I can too easily see why me having that could negatively impact someone else. Meaning I often put the needs of others before the needs of myself. BUT – because of the empathy – seeing the people around me happy often carries more value in my general state of happiness than MY OWN happiness. Which is why I say I’m happy about this 90% of the time. 10% of the time I wish I could be a little less aware of how things impacted the lives of other people.

But my empathy just allows me to be understanding and flexible in areas that Donnie isn’t and so – seeing the other side allows me to really appreciate my own empathy. He’s okay with NOT having that and most of the times I think that makes us a really good team. Sometimes he wishes I could be more self-absorbed and I wish he would show more empathy, but for the most part we balance each other out.

What about you? Can you list any characteristics you love about yourself that you seem to have been born with?

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The Joy Of Eating Out

Donnie took over the management of our budget and finances two years ago because I suck at it. I won’t bore you with the details about HOW I suck at it, but suffice it to say that Donnie is MUCH BETTER and we are better for it.

We use this tool called “You Need A Budget” which is basically just a spreadsheet, which is what we needed (we tried things like Mint but it just wasn’t a right fit), and we have very specific line-items we’ve been fine-tuning. For example, we started with a “Sports” line item but it was including race fees and bike gear and kid’s registration fees so it didn’t give us a good view of where we spent what money so NOW we have separate line items: Race Fees, Gear, Kid’s Sports Registrations, Coaching.

(For the record, we think we spend about $2400 annually on race fees. It’s hard to pinpoint because we didn’t keep it split for awhile, but based on our estimates, that’s about right. THIS IS WHY WE ONLY TAKE REAL VACATIONS ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS. Our athletic endeavors are not cheap.)

One of the line items is for eating out. It’s one of the ones (along with Cable) that we reduced dramatically back in the “cutting back” portion of reorganizing our finances. And we didn’t eat out a lot, but it was more than we needed, we knew. So now we basically have enough for one dinner out a week and we always go to the same place on Saturday nights.

Unfortunately, not everyone else in the world is on the same “eating out” schedule and budget and sometimes we find ourselves eating out more often. This happened this month. I took E to lunch one day when he was in town. The kids and I went to lunch after a parade. The whole family met the extended family for lunch. So…Saturday rolled around yesterday and BAM! We really didn’t have the budget to eat out. And we had to make the tough decision to stay in.

Since I took most of the blame for using our budget, I offered to cook but Donnie then wanted to do things a bit differently so I handed the reigns over to him and while we were eating and I was thinking, I don’t really miss eating out tonight as much as I thought I would… I realized why I love eating out.

BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING.

So, it turns out that – while I truly love the food at Anaheim Chili (our Saturday Go To) – it’s the fact that I can just sit there and someone brings me good food and beer and cleans up after me, THAT is what I love the most about eating out. So, a night at home with my husband doing the cooking? Was almost as good. The only reason why it wasn’t “as good” was because I did feel obligated to clean up afterwards. You know…because he did cook and that’s fair.

I’m happy we have the freedom in our budget to have one night we eat out a week (and Anaheim Chili is not that pricey, it’s mainly the good beer we enjoy that makes it costly) – it is also REALLY nice to have a husband who will sometimes cook for you too.

If we had to cut back our budget that one night a week would be the last thing to go. I do really just love the act of going somewhere to be fed. Once having Donnie do the cooking was okay, but only because I know in December we’ll be back on track. I’m not sure I could give up those nights indefinitely unless we were permanently cash-strapped. Thank goodness we are not!

What is the one thing in your budget you’d be the most reluctant to give up if finances got tighter?

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Dad in the kitchen after one of his meals. Notice how little E is. *sob*

Roast and Turkey.

My Dad was NOT a cook by any means. He actually often discussed his confusion over why people would “slave away” in the kitchen for hours, just to create a meal that is eaten in 15 minutes. He once sat in the kitchen while I was cooking something and said, “So, where do you think this came from? You’re desire to cook meals like this? Because I know it didn’t come from me.”

He had a few staples. Frozen eggrolls. (Which I hated.) Frozen fishsticks. (Which I loved.) Cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. (Loved.) And Oatmeal. (Loved.) For the most part mealtime was just an “On your own” type of experience as I got older. There was always stuff for sandwiches. Always cereal. I don’t know…maybe there was more, but I absolutely only have memories of those options on an average day on an average week.

BUT! For some reason, he liked to roast a turkey and cook a pot roast at least once a year. And y’all? There is no one in the world who put less effort into both meals than my Dad, but because it was SO RARE and it felt like such a HUGE EFFORT compared to his other meals, I would always get REALLY excited. Those meals usually revolved around a holiday, and it just depended on how the holiday fell for us from year to year. Were we spending Thanksgiving with extended family? Doing Christmas Dinner with Mom? If so – then the Turkey or the Roast might actually be 2 days after Christmas. Or the Monday following Thanksgiving. Either way – at least once a year we had at least one of those things.

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Us eating his turkey and potatoes. That’s the table we ate at. And our place settings. I am not lying about our glamorous upbringing in the slightest.

The turkey: He roasted in the oven with packaged stuffing in the cavity and carrots/celery smooshed in and around it. BAM. That was it. No spices. No brining. Maybe a little bit of painting with butter but it was all packaged stuffing, carrots and celery. AND I LOVED IT. I still – to this day – think it’s the best turkey in the world. I tried to do exactly what he did one year but mine sucked. I think a lot of the “OMG THIS IS DELICIOUS!” memories I have relate more to the emotions than the actual taste. It may have been dry as hell (he did always try to make gravy but it was often a failure) but there was always boxed Mashed Potatoes to go with it and OH MY GOD…I LOVED BOXED MASHED POTATOES.

Basically – the point is – set the standards low for your children.

His roast was about the same. He had an ancient slow cooker – probably one of the first made – and he was still using it even up until he died. He put the meat, some potatoes and some carrots, and kept enough water in it to keep from drying, and BAM! Pot Roast! AND IT WAS SO GOOD. I remember telling him once, “This is way better than Dinty Moore Beef Stew” and he said, “Yeah, but that’s much easier.”

Which is hysterical because his pot roast was SO EASY.

Dad in the kitchen after one of his meals. Notice how little E is. *sob*
Dad in the kitchen after one of his meals. Notice how little E is. *sob*

My kids probably won’t have any specific meals stick out for them because we do cook a lot in this house. And I do a wide range of meals. And maybe this is good for their diets, but I’m sad that there won’t be any ONE thing that sticks out in the memories like it does mine. I’m just so grateful for those memories and those meals and I appreciate that Dad took at least 1 or 2 days a year to cook a meal that required SO MUCH EFFORT.

(Those of you in charge of Thanksgiving this year are probably thinking, “Man…if only I could put that little effort into MY turkey/dressing/stuffing.)

I think I mentioned once to Dad about my fond memories of those meals and I think he was entertained by it because – even he realized how minimal they were on the grand scale of things. At least I hope I mentioned it.

Do you have any specific memories of great meals your parents cooked?

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Hope For My Adorable Little Demon Child…

As Wes gets older, I start to very easily see that a lot of his behavioral issues relate back to one thing: He’s perpetually bored.

At his parent/teacher conference a few weeks ago – she pointed out that his standardized test scores from earlier in the year were ABYSMAL. Like, in reading? He tested in the “needs immediate intervention” level. In Math it was close, but more like, “consider intervention”. I thought this was INSANE because – with his school work – it’s obvious he’s a good reader and good at math. But then his teacher pointed out a KEY element on the report.

The test time.

Do you know how long he spent taking a test that should have taken 20-30 minutes? TWO MINUTES. He basically filled out random answers and then finished because…BORING!

And when he gets in trouble at home? 9 times out of 10 it’s because he’s bored and I won’t give him attention or his sister won’t. He tortures BOTH of us when he’s bored.

It does help to see this as a “reason” because I can then convince myself he’s a struggling genius (he’s not) instead of a sociopath…but it still always concerns me because the only way he ever seems to have fun is when he’s torturing us in some way for attention. He can’t just enjoy himself in a normal way that doesn’t make someone around him crazy.

But last night? At Disney on Ice? HE WAS SO GOOD.

He made funny jokes, we danced, we sang songs…it was just a fun night all around. Sometimes I don’t like to take Wes places because he can be SO BAD, but last night? It was just a fun night and no one was torturing anyone. We even stopped on the way home for French Fries and STILL had fun even eating french fries! It was just nice and a reminder that he has the potential to enjoy himself without torturing everyone around him or showing off in inappropriate ways just to get eyes on him. He was NICE and he was FUN and it was EXACTLY what I needed to stop the nightmares I’ve been having lately of him being sent to juvenile detention at age 7.

Will he go back to his fun-by-evil tendencies? Yes. Will I continue to struggle keeping him from being bored but also teaching him that he needs to be able to entertain himself sometimes? Definitely. Will he make us all crazy? Without. A. Doubt.

But it will be easier with last night to remember that some days are better than others. They’re not all going to be a struggle.

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Celebrating Thursdays In Hawaii

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IT IS STILL THURSDAY SOMEWHERE IN THE U.S. SO I DID NOT MISS A DAY.

Quickly! Here are two photos explaining why I (almost) missed yesterday.

(I made up that rule. It holds.)IMG_2996

A good chunk of my day yesterday was at Wes’s school helping his class make these shirts. It was insane because “Classroom Craft Mom” is not in my wheelhouse and I was very nervous and out of sorts and was on my own for a good chunk of it. Another Mom showed up to help just in time and we finished the last one WHILE the bells were ringing. Needless to say, the few hours I was not up at school, I was trying to do my job since – you know – that’s kinda the bigger priority on a weekday!

(I’m glad I did the project but I’m also glad I don’t do that but maybe once a year. I’m the worst craft Mom in the world.)

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AND THEN…at 5:15 (AFTER a Huntsville Track Club kids run session) we had to be part of this awesomeness thanks to Rocket City Mom. And y’all? We had so much fun. The kids were in good moods most of the night and they were having fun but not being rowdy or obnoxious and it was a great night but we got home at 9pm and we were all EXHAUSTED. (We left the show a tiny bit early to beat the crowds.)

Anyway…I was exhausted and had eaten TOO MUCH FOOD and passed out without thinking about this blog. BUT! I’m awake for the day and I feel like, as long as some of my countrymen/women are still living where it’s still Thursday, IT STILL COUNTS!

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a little bit of everything.