Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year and Resolutions

Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
- Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog

I'm a goal setter by nature, but I love it when the whole world (or at least most of it) is setting goals with me.  I can feel it in the air, everybody is inspired and charged up for doing better and making positive changes.  That is what goal setting is all about, right?  Making ourselves better.  My goals last year included writing my novel - check, graduating from college - check, and doing a better job of keeping my house clean - that one is debatable.

On the other hand, I hate it when people write resolutions or goals without having a plan to succeed.  What good is an offensive line without a plan as to how to get the ball down the field?  I plan on reaching towards my potential this year with my goals and I'm going to do it play by play, yard by yard.  It may even come down to inches next December, but I'm gonna score a touchdown in the end.

So, I offer you the suggestion that along with your goals, you make a plan to achieve them.  I'll share my four goals this year with you and my plan for accomplishing them:

1 - Run a marathon - Run or cross train daily.  Run a 5K in February, Ragnar in April, marathon in the fall.

2 - Earn my Personal Progress Recognition as an adult.  Every Sunday, devote some time to one or more goals.  If you aren't familiar with this program learn about it here.  It is implemented through our church.  Ask me for more information because anyone can do it.

3 - Be more crafty.  This is a rather vague goal, but for the last several years, I have been occupied with school and church responsibilities and have neglected some of the things I actually love to do but could not justify spending time on.  Well, game on people.  I am crafty and I'm going to display my crafty side one project each month.  I have a note taped to the wall next to my desk with various projects that include sewing Easter dresses, hanging curtains, learning how to make frames from crown moulding and more.

4 - Complete novel for printing.  I wrote my novel this year, but it needs tons of work...more than tons even.  So, I plan on editing one hour each day during the week or an average of 5 hours per week.  It may be more, it might be less, but I will have it finished by October 1st and ready to print...or query a publisher.

So, that is my list, how about yours?  What one or two things do you have on your list and what is your plan to achieve them?  How will you score your touchdown in 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011

So selfish

I am so selfish.

You see, I am not that great with little children.  Don't get me wrong, I love them, I'm just not patient enough to be the kind of mother I wish I was.  Ok, maybe it isn't that I'm not that great with them, I just don't really enjoy them as much as I would like to.   I'm better with other people's little kids because I only spend a few minutes with them at a time.  I'm so sick of the snotty noses, the crying, the whining, the diaper changing, blah, blah, blah, blah.  It just really isn't fun to me.  Ironic that I've had eight of them, isn't it?

On the other hand, even though I'm not a big hugger, I love to kiss and love all over my sweet babies.  I love their wet kisses and their hugs.  I love when I ask, "Who do you love?" and they answer "Mom!"  I love it when I go into their rooms in the morning to wake them up and they are so happy to see me that they practically jump out of bed and into my arms.  Man, I eat that stuff up.  They must not know I have a problem, I must be doing all right.

You have probably heard me say how much I love having teenagers, well I absolultely do.  Teenagers are the funnest ever.  They like to do the things I do; we can talk like adults, enjoy the same movies and music, and we love to watch sporting events together.  I especially love it that I don't have to interrupt conversations with questions like, "do you want me to wipe your nose?" or "Do you have a poopy diaper?"  I hate it when I do that.

So, that is a reality check for those of you who feel the same way I do but have never wanted to say it out loud just in case someone was standing there just waiting to judge you because of it.

Having said that, I find babies absolutely wonderful and enjoyable when they aren't doing the annoying things that I have no patience for.  I think it happens abouat 20 minutes out of every 24 hours.  I'm glad Derek is two now and most of the yuckiness is behind me.

I have to go now, I know my 20 minutes of happiness today is going to happen any minute now and I don't want to miss it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feminism

There has been a lot of discussion lately in my life from different sources, about feminism.  While doing some research for my literature class earlier this semester, I had to do some reading on this type of literature critique.  Then, on a friend's Facebook, I saw a post about a more contemporary view on feminism.  It really got me thinking about my views on feminism.

I just have to say, thank heavens for the women who forged the way for me to live the kind of life I lead.  I'm college educated, I am employed (even if it is just a few hours a quarter), I can drive, vote, and do lots of things women in my stage of life could not do many years ago.  But, I am still "just" a housewife (don't get me started on that term), what I mean is, that I do most of the cleaning, cooking and taking care of the children, and I do it by choice.

I don't have a job that requires me to be outside of my home earning a living, I have found ways to make some money here and there as needed, but I choose to be the main caregiver for my family.  This was an active and personal choice I made long ago.  I had big plans for a career; I was going to travel the world, make tons of money and run my own business...I was going to speak a foreign language.

The reality is that I chose the greatest career, that of motherhood.  I haven't seen wonderful places like the Eiffel Tower, the Mayan ruins, or the great wall of China, but I've seen the wonder in my child's eyes as he touches snow for the first time, scores his first touchdown, or gets offered a scholarship to college.

I am blessed to have a husband who earns a living that supports our whole family without me having to work outside of the home.  We make enough money to cover our needs and most of our wants.  We don't live extravagantly, but we do all right.

I run the business of managing a home and the education (secular and spiritual) of everyone in that home, I am a chef, maid, tutor, nanny, seamstress, bus driver, and work a myriad of other careers...I speak sarcasm, teenage grunt and I am the baby whisperer.

I am not against mothers who work outside of their home or those that choose not to have a family of their own, but only because they just don't know what they are missing.  I am anti-abortion, because I believe every pregnancy is a gift from God.  I'm not convinced that a person should raise a child by him/herself because I know how hard it is to raise one with the great amount of help I get from my spouse.

I wouldn't change my curves and rolls because they were hard earned during my childbearing years.  I know mothers who have given and given to the point of neglecting their own self.  While I am anti short-shorts and tank tops and my girls wear more than enough swimsuit to cover all the important areas, I am not ashamed to tell someone about the fabulous new bra I just bought that puts my bosoms back where they belong.  I am flattered when my friends call my high heel shoes "cha cha" because it makes me feel sexy, when the reality is that I am super uncomfortable.

I might be a contradiction from a feminist point of view, but what I do know is that I'm proud to be me and I don't regret any choices that I have made that have brought me to this place.  So, what is my view on feminism?  I'm not sure exactly, but I like being a woman.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It is who I am and frankly, I don't want to change

As I have been getting "older," several times over the last few years, I have wanted to have a makeover of sorts, you know, buy a few new outfits, wear makeup more often, do my hair every day.  I do good for a few weeks and then I sorta revert back to the "old" me.  I get it in my head that I need to act my age better, or dress the part of a 40 year old.  It isn't that I feel old or even think I need to wear old people clothes, that's not my point.  I just feel like I dress like a 13 year old boy because I wear tennis shoes and t-shirts every day, just like I did in the 8th grade.

When I was in the 9th grade, I tried a little harder and it was fortunate that on the days that I cheered for football, we had to wear our "game day" clothes and when I played basketball and ran track, we had to dress up for school on those days.

When I was in high school, I loved to go shopping at the thrift stores and buy my clothes there.  My friend Renee was so good at helping me get pieces that would look cute together and we paid practically nothing for our clothes.

I remember when I had my job at the credit union and Vance was small.  We were broke most of the time and because I had just given birth, I wore a lot of pants with elastic waistbands (gasp).  My boss had to pull me aside once and tell me I needed to dress it up better because I was starting to get a bit too casual.  I remember wearing the same skirt and blouse twice that week for lack of clothes.  I didn't have money, I worked full time, and I was a mom the rest of the time.  I was too tired to shop.

As I had more and more kids, I found the stretchy pants thing really worked for me.  I wore Ben's t-shirts because they were comfortable when I was big and pregnant and then when I was nursing.  I was always doing one or the other it seems for about 12 years.  When the kids were little, I spent my time shopping for them and if there was money left over (which there rarely was), I was too tired to go shopping for myself.

I've moved away from the sweatpants era when they finally put lycra in my jeans, it's like the best of both worlds now.  When I'm a grandma, I'm certain that I will be wearing the same thing.  (I hope that makes me a cool grandma, not a dorky one.)

My point is, that as I have not just gotten older, but I have also come to the realization that this is who I am.  I am the queen of casual.  When I put on a dress and heels, I think I look good, but I am just not comfortable and feel like I am playing dress up.  I know it is all in my head, but I just want to put it out there that I'm done worrying about wanting to "look the part" of whomever I thought I needed to be.  I am me and I like it.

I also have a pretty awesome t-shirt collection that any teenager would be proud of.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It took a village - Ramblings about graduating from ASU

Woo Hoo!!
Yeah for me!!  I did it!  I finally graduated from college.  I am proud and embarrassed at the same time to say that it took me 23 years and 6 months from the time I started back at Rick's College in the fall of 1989 to get me a Batchelors degree from ASU with a degree in English Literature.  It literally took a village to get me to this point; schools, teachers, friends, Facebook and especially my immediate and extended family.

I attended several schools; Rick's College, MCC, Rio Salado, a school in Albuquerque, but I can't for the life of me think of the name but it is now called Central NM Community College, AZ Dept of Real Estate school and then ASU.  Yes, that is a lot; I don't recommend it.

I went to school off and on for several years, between having kids #s 1,2,3,4, and 7 & 8.and jobs and helping Ben finish his degree, it was hit or miss what years I went.  I was pregnant a lot in college.

I had tons of people help me with babysitting over the years; my mom, all of my sisters, Evelyn C., Celeste K., Grams, Cindi B., Jana C., and many others who I was able to use for backup several times.  Thank you for taking such great care of my children so I could study or attend class.
My parents

A big thank you to my parents who never made me feel like this wasn't an important endeavor.  I'm sure there were times when they were biting their tongues thinking I was crazy for even trying, but they never once doubted my ability to get it done.  From day one, they supported me and even helped finance my first year away to college.





When I started thinking about school 4.5 years ago, Heavenly Father knew the desire of my heart was to finish this degree.  While it would have been so much easier if things would have gone according to plan and I would have started school when my original baby (Tawny) went to kindergarten, Heavenly Father knew how much I needed Derek and Anny to keep me grounded and my priorities straight.  Motherhood always came first. They have never known life without their mother going to school and although I only had them with a sitter once or twice a week for a few hours, they rarely complained.  While they  may be my "devil children," they are absolutely my angel babies.

Katy Age 10, almost 11

Drew Age 15


My older kids were used to me being gone with my responsibilities as RS President, but I figured once I was released that I would have so much time on my hands that going to school would be a cinch.  How little did I realize how many times they would end up making dinner, cleaning the house (more than their usual chores), and babysitting because I had class or needed to study or finish up homework     well into the evening or night.  While that was hard for them, they are going to reap the benefits of their homemaking skills in the future.

Skylar Age 13

Marly Age 17
These kids sacrificed time with me.  I missed a few school assemblies, sporting events, volunteer opportunities, and could not always offer rides when they wanted because of assignment deadlines for classes.  They also sacrificed having money to do things they enjoyed because of the cost involved in putting me through school.  My children are my heroes and if it weren't for their support and encouragement, I could not have accomplished my goal.









I hope my kids know how important it is to me, that they graduate from college.  It is something that you will always use, whether you want to be a stay at home mom, run your own business, or be a doctor.  I learned things about myself that I knew were there, but maybe tucked away, things like perserverance and courage. I hope my kids saw the importance of finishing this when you are young.  Raising a family and going to school is tough, tougher than I ever imagined it would be, but it was part of my path and I'm glad I was able to finish it when I did.

And, so far, it has been worth every single minute of effort I put into it.





My grad cap





I also want to add that it is way more fun to go to school with someone than by yourself.  Jana and I never attended school "together" as she was studying nursing, but she and I were always on the same page when it came to worries about kids, homework, tests and working.  She was always good for sushi break when we were at our stress limits and I am so lucky to have such a great friend in Jana.


Too bad my family are big UofA fans
I can't stop there.  Ben was my biggest fan although I know there were times when he wondered why the heck I was doing this because he knows I never actually want a "real" job.  I know there were many nights when he went to bed without me or even took the kids out so I could have some peace to do homework. He was Mr. Mom more than he probably wanted to, but I don't remember ever hearing him say anything negative about me going to school.  Well, that is if you can dismiss comments like "Anybody can get into ASU" and "ASU does not have a good football or basketball program."  Fortunately, I can take a joke and he knows that if we had lived in Tucson, I would have graduated from UofA.

And, although you may think this is silly, but I'm glad I had FaceBook for moral support.  There is nothing quite like reading comments from my friends congratulating me on getting a good grade on a test or telling me they have inspired them to go back to school.  I was not able to socialize as much as I would have liked over the last 3.5 years and I am so glad for the support of my local friends, my old friends, and my family.  When I needed a pick me up, they were there and when I needed a pat on the back, there was plenty to go around.
Goooooo Mom!!


Vance's photo by www.kimskinnerphotography.com



















I can only say I have one regret.  I wanted to graduate before Vance left on his mission.  I missed it by two classes or one semester.  But, he was sweet enough to get his picture taken in an ASU shirt before he left.  Thank you Vance for being so sweet and going to college with your mom.  His freshman year and my senior year...awesome.

Now, what to do about those student loans...
P.S.  Most of the photos were taken by my friend Karolee.  Thank you my friend.


Freezer Veggies

I am no genius, but I learned a long time ago that I hate that smell of onions that lingers on my hands for days after I cut up even just one.  Yes, I could wear gloves, but I don't.   We use a lot of onion around here, sometimes chopped, sometimes in strips, but whatever, we use a lot of it.  Since I mostly use it for cooking, I cut them all up at one time and stick them in the freezer.  
When I need a cup of chopped onions for a recipe I'm cooking with, I just bang the bag on the counter and dump out what I need.  The same goes for peppers.  I don't eat them raw...ever, but I love them cooked.  I cut them into strips and freeze them too.  I have several freezer bags full in my fridge and I probably go through a few gallons of onions and peppers every other month.  At least that is when I go get more and start chopping.  I do always leave one red onion and one yellow out so if I need them cut up for a salad, I have them.
When I find a great deal on something at the produce market, I like to stock up.  Lots of that stuff doesn't stay good for very long so I'm picky about how much I get and whether or not it will freeze well.  I grabbed some squash and zucchini out of the fridge that was not looking so good, so I'm taking a chance that when I cook them up, they will be just fine...another veggie I don't eat raw. 
I found this terrific post about crock pot freezer meals that I'm dying to try.  I think I do most of it already, but this is all combined into one bag you throw right into the crock pot. http://mamaandbabylove.blogspot.com/2011/04/freezer-cooking-with-slow-cooker.html
Do you have any favorite freezer tips or menu ideas you use in your home?  Share with me.  I love tips that save me time and money.



I have that "I just gave birth feeling"

You know how it is when you have a baby?  You are so relieved to have it out of you that within a pretty short time frame, you feel like you could conquer the world?  You can put on your own socks and shoes, sleep on your stomach, sweep more than just the major crumbs on the floor, vacuum, etc.  Well, the day after my last final at school, I did just that, I got movin' on all kinds of stuff around here, you know, a lot of the things I wrote I said I would...just not all of them.

Within a day or two, I was exhausted, worn out and too tired to care.  Then I started to read.  Well, that took my laziness to a whole new level.  It wasn't until I finished the Hunger Games series that I was able to get anything done.  Since then...

I did get something like 30 quarts of beans and chicken bottled, my deep freezer thawed and cleaned, the garage straightened, the old non-working fridge in the garage hauled away, bedroom cleaned, shopping done, house decorated, treats delivered, presents wrapped, time spent hanging with the kids, dates with Ben, babysitting nephews and eating.  I'm not sure how much of my actual list is complete, but I got a lot of other stuff done.

I hope I'm back for good now.  I have so much to say about my t-shirt collection, the heirarchy of the holiday meal assignments, gift giving, weight loss challenges and so much more.  Stay tuned.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Did You Miss me? What is next?

I’m back, and I did it.  I wrote a whole novel of 50,111 words in 30 days, 28 to be exact because I finished two days early.  I don’t want to give out too many details but this story has been in my head for months now and I needed to get it down on paper (or in the computer, depending on how you look at it).  It is a story of a woman who struggles with post partum depression and her incredible journey to recovery.  It was an amazing experience as I wrote late at night, early in the morning, sometimes instead of eating or cleaning and certainly a lot of writing instead of doing homework.  (Did I mention I have senior-it is really bad?)  Well, I’m glad I had NaNoWriMo to help me over the November blues.  As I sit here today with one final done and one more tomorrow, I find myself wandering around the house wondering what to do next. 

That is my next topic, my imminent graduation.  It is right around the corner on the 15th.  I am proud to say that as of last semester, I am graduating with Cum Laude honors, barely missing the necessary GPA for Summa Cum Laude, but I don’t really care anymore.  I have a better GPA than my high school kids right now and this pleases this overworked, sleep deprived, soon to be college graduate mother of 8.

Tomorrow is my written Spanish final – I aced the oral final last week and have gotten an A on all my tests throughout the semester.  I expect to pass both my classes even if I didn’t learn anything in my history of literature critique class.

So, what will I do with my free time?  I have a list

December 6 &7 – Read Hunger Games (I saw the preview for the movie and I'm dying to get it read)  And yes, it should only take me two days.  Clean out garage and prepare for garage sale.
December 8 – Clean out office/craft room  Here are the before pictures, Warning: I am not a Hoarder.

I'm almost embarrassed that I have let my office get this awful and I'm not even showing you a picture of my desk area, it is amazing I can even work there, but it was a matter of not knowing where to put things or not really having time to  put things away after telling my kids to just throw it in my office and I'll put it away later.  This week is my later...
December 9 - Clean out my bedroom closet.  I'll save you a picture for the before and after reveal.  If I show one more picture, you are guaranteed to call me a hoarder.  Hornet Football party tonight and Ben's birthday.
December 10 - Garage Sale to get rid of all the stuff in my office that was labeled donate and did not ever make it to the garage.
December 11 - Nothing.  I'm going to sit and watch the Family Movie night with my kids and write a letter to my missionary.

Well, that gets me a few days.  In between all those things on my list, I will also attend a few basketball games, do some Christmas shopping, some crafting and hopefully some sewing.  I have a few thank you cards to write and a tree that needs finished decorating..  The "old" me is going to make a comeback.