Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Years Eve!

So long 2013 and thanks for all the memories (and fish).

Our Smilebox Holiday card:

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And the Auto Awesome yearly wrap-up from Google:

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts on Resolutions

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't, but I do. See? Even that explanation isn't a resolution. A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. If forming new or changing old habits were that simple, it would be a different story. But making changes isn't that simple. I'm sure there are some out there who can make a firm decision and stick with it from that moment on, but, let's be honest, most of us are not like that. We need time to build new habits, change old ways, dig ourselves out of the groove in the record where we find ourselves stuck (did I just date myself? Record grooves?!).

So I don't make New Year's resolutions. But I do find myself making "new starts" all throughout the year. At my birthday. At New Years. As the seasons change. As the moon is new, then full, then new again. Every Monday morning. I like to call it setting goals rather than making resolutions. Goals have a path to get to them... a sometimes meandering, often detoured, path but a path nonetheless. Not something resolute and static like a resolution with its sense of either success or failure in black and white terms. You either did or did not lose 10 pounds by December 31st.

This year I find New Years a particularly convenient time to start tackling some new goals because we are finally feeling settled into the new house we moved into the first of November and I'm pretty happy with the results of some goal setting and path wandering I started a few months ago. Our homeschooling schedule is starting to feel like a better fit, the budgeting and meal planning I started has settled into what feels like a natural habit and, with a little help from the Flylady, I am making great strides toward establishing and maintaining house care and cleaning routines. Whoo! Doing pretty good! Time to shake things up again and make some new positive changes... this time with an inward focus. Because I am That Mom. I am the mom who is an expert at ignoring my own needs in favor of my family's. I know that because my loving husband has told me, over and over again.

Knowing I need an inward focus on my next set of goals to tackle, I have selected four in a self-care vein. Blog more. Read more. Move more. And meditate (but I can't say "more" on that one because I don't already do it). So "Blog more. Read more. Move more. Meditate." A pretty good mantra for 2014, don't you think? What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Reading Challenges

Fortunately, I didn't enter any reading challenges in 2013. Given how hectic this year has been (finishing up our first full year of homeschooling and buying a house/moving), I doubt I would have finished them. Looking back through my Goodreads list, I still managed to read 17 books, not including all the books I read with the kids for homeschooling and such. Not too shabby!

1) Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half by Steve & Annette Economides
2) America's Cheapest Family by Steve & Annette Economides
3) The MoneySmart Family System by Steve & Annette Economides (I met my budgeting resolution last year with the help of the Economides family!)
4) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (finally finished that series... still haven't seen the movies)
5) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
6) Bebe Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
7) French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting by Catherine Crawford (another theme... not sure I agree with the French parenting style but I did glean a few things from these two)
8) The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
9) Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
10) I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
11) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
12) The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
13) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
14) The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
15) The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
16) The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
17) The Tree Shepherd's Daughter by Gillian Summers
18) More Rainbow Fairy Magic books then you can shake a stick at... but that starts getting into books read with the kids.

For 2014, I am in two book clubs so that should keep me busy. I have The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway teed up to meet those obligations in January. I have decided to tackle two reading challenges this year. I enjoyed the What's in a Name challenge in 2012 so will join it again this year, now hosted by The Worm Hole. The 2014 categories are:

  1. A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)
  2. A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)
  3. A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)
  4. A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)
  5. A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain) 
I was tempted by The Cheap Reader's Reading Outside the Box Challenge but was a bit intimidated by 25 books since my book club books may or may not fit all the categories of the challenge. That could result in a challenge that just isn't feasible for someone with my limited reading time. I know! I know! I should find more time to read but I want to set achievable goals. So instead I selected the Color Coded Reading Challenge from My Reader's Block as my second challenge for 2014. The 2014 categories are:

  1. A book with "Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) in the title. 
  2. A book with "Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgundy, etc) in the title.
  3. A book with "Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) in the title.
  4. A book with "Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) in the title.
  5. A book with "Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc) in the title.
  6. A book with "Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) in the title.
  7. A book with "White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc) in the title.
  8. A book with any other color in the title (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magenta, etc.).
  9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.).
Of course, neither of the books for my January book club meetings meet either of the challenges. (sigh) Not an auspicious start but I have faith that I can meet both of these challenges this year. Are you planning to sign up for any reading challenges this year? Which ones?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shards of History by Rebecca Roland

This is NOT a review because I haven't read it yet. I'll post that later. But Rebecca is a friend and her book is ON SALE right now for only $4.99 for Kindle! Since I live in Missouri and I am no longer an Amazon Associate because of the new tax laws here (grrrr), I can't post a fancy link to the book. So here's a text link to get your there:

And here's a picture of the book cover:

Another of her books is also on sale for only $.99 for Kindle. 

The sale runs until Wednesday, January 1st.