Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Big News. Prayers Needed.

We got some pretty big news last week and would love your prayers: Mike's division is being transferred to Dallas in March. He has the option to take a severance or to uproot and move our family to Dallas. No one is more shocked than me, but we're considering moving. 

Mike has always wanted to live in Texas, but has never had a reason to relocate, until now. After 40 years in Phoenix, he's ready to try something new. And if the grass isn't greener, we'll reevaluate in a couple of years and return home. 

In the meantime, they're sending us out there to check it out in a few weeks. If nothing else, it will be a free vacation. But it could very well be much more than that.
We have every reason to stay in Phoenix. Our home is beautiful and organized. I've been repainting and fixing up the house to make it feel fresh and "new". We love our home. Thousands upon thousands of memories are inside these walls. Two of our kids were born in this home. (Well not IN this home, I'm not that brave.)

Our family is in Phoenix.

Our friends and church community are in Phoenix. 

Most of our closest friends live in our neighborhood.

We recently joined the most amazing homeschool co-op.

There is a park on our street with tons of kids and parents everywhere, making it a safe environment for my kids to roam freely. I hear envious comments all the time about the way the kids on our block play together, all ages, both genders, very little drama. 
As I type this, Jason has two friends over in our playroom and Kaylin has three friends upstairs coloring pictures of Santa. Ryan is playing football and there are fresh cookies baking in the oven to feed the masses. 

My business is crazy busy right now. CRAZY BUSY. My team is wonderful, my parties are ridiculously profitable, I am consistently in the top 50 for sales in my company and have been in the top 10 for many months in a row. Leaving Phoenix would essentially be walking away from my business and starting over.

We love Ryan's football league. Kaylin loves her new dance tour group. We have a great little shopping area up the street where we can escape for an appetizer or meet friends for coffee with 5 minutes notice. I finally found a dentist we trust and an incredible hair dresser. Wait - I'd need to find a new hair dresser!?!? Not good.

But the fact that my un-spontaneous husband is willing to take a risk this huge is a very big deal, so I'm on board! I realize people move across the country all the time, but this is a first for my husband. And when I left Kansas to come to Phoenix, most of my family had already relocated over the course of my four years in college. So this move would be a big deal for both of us.

Please pray that we don't make an emotional decision, in either direction. The safe thing is obviously to stay here, take the severance and look for another job. But there are so many new, exciting possibilities in the idea of relocating, even temporarily. 

Decisions, decisions.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#57 - Clean out the paperwork in my file cabinet

#57 is completed from my 101 in 1001 list. Exciting? No. Done? YES!

Since it's been so long since I cleaned out the paperwork in our file cabinet (at least 3 years), it wasn't much effort to grab entire folders of past insurance information, tax documents, receipts, and other things that we no longer need and dump them into a bag to recycle. Don't come running to my house to steal my identity, though…we're definitely shredding the tax documents. ;)

I did have fun flipping through old college papers I wrote (why I kept them, I'm not sure…maybe because I spent so many hours researching and writing them?) - and even found a story or two that I wrote when I was Kaylin's age. I can't wait to show the kids in the morning. Hilarious! My mom is not a pack rat (like *ahem* apparently I am) so I don't have many elementary keepsakes left. I might have to hang onto these two, just because I can!
Goodbye, unnecessary paper clutter!
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Monday, November 24, 2014

#17 - Go Roller Skating as a Family

This item on my 101 in 1001 list was perfectly timed. Ryan recently discovered that my roller blades fit him, his old roller blades fit Kaylin, and Jason has some starter skates of his own. As the first week of crossing off #55 (Plan something fun every family day for a month), after church and lunch yesterday, we headed to the skating rink. 

Turns out, this is the same skating rink where Mike and his friends came 30 years ago - and I'm not sure much has been updated since then!

Jason wasn't sure about this whole experience, proving to be oppositional before we even went out to skate. 
Until we rented him one of these new contraptions. Genius for a 5 year old! But honestly, for all of the older kids who I saw clutching onto these make-shift walkers, I felt sorry for them. Kids older than Ryan…I even saw an adult with a death grip on hers! I guess it's better than not skating at all, which I saw plenty of people doing…walking around on the skating rink with their kids or talking to friends. I even saw someone with a double stroller…what has skating become, people!?!?
Afterward, we ran by Costco and someone was beyond exhausted. He almost fell asleep using the napkins as his pillow. 
We all had fun!  Even Mike, who started the day a little rocky, was turned around after our family skating experience. At $8-9 per person, I'm not sure we'll do this again anytime soon, but it was fun while it lasted!
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Monday, November 17, 2014

My Little Turkeys Need to Stop Growing. No, Seriously.

I love the ages of my kids right now. They are far from perfect, but it's so nice to have them all still "kids" - not yet pre-teens, but no longer "pre-schoolers". For the moment, they can all still crawl onto my lap, they'll all hold my hand in public, no one is yet my height or asking to borrow the car keys.
My Three Turkeys
Jason is so self-sufficient (almost too much, sometimes) and has made his own little friends on our block that come over and ask if he can play. He comes home sometimes and says, "Mom, I know you're not going to like this, but they offered me a PB&J sandwich while I was at their house and I ate it. With pretzels. And gluten."
Such a ham
I told him that when he turned five, he wouldn't have to take naps anymore. I worked myself up to the fact that I wouldn't get a mid-day, Mommy break, until I realized I could still give him a quiet time in his room with toys and books for an hour. Whew!
On one of "those" days, Jason got the feeling he should stay quiet for a while and covered himself with stickers.
The problem is that this kid still rises with the sun, so he's not napping anymore, yet he has trouble falling asleep when we put him to bed earlier than Ryan, so he's an overtired, whiney, cries-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, whirlwind of emotions all day long. When I just can't take it anymore and wonder if he'll live to see the the age of six, I think back over the last few days, realize he's gone to bed late and woken up early, and, sure enough, when I send him for his quiet time, he passes out cold.
This is Jason "not tired"
Kaylin has also made a new group of friends in the neighborhood. They're like a little pack of 7-10 year olds who ride bikes, put make up on each other, do each other's hair and have lemonade stands. Kaylin used to have just one friend at a time in our 'hood, but since she joined a new dance class, we carpool with several families in the neighborhood and they're all adorable friends now. Most of them are Mormon and go to church together, but they graciously accepted Kaylin into their little circle. Even though we have different beliefs, I know she's playing with kids who have integrity and morals taught in their home on a very regular basis. 
She's been trying a bit of an attitude on for size, but recoils when she realizes that the sighing and eye rolling don't fly in our house. It seems that she's causing trouble with Jason, but when I listen more carefully, she's learning to stand her ground and not let her alpha-male brothers take advantage of her. Thankfully, the eye rolling and sighs is as far as it's gotten with her. If it were only that simple with the boys, I would be thrilled, but they're arguers. I'm expecting their negotiation skills to take them through law school someday.
Ryan is officially taking on the roll of a responsible tween. He babysits the other kids on a weekly basis while I run errands, get my hair done, or go to Bible study. I make sure my neighbor is home in case of an emergency, but he seems to have figured out the line between being in charge without lording over his siblings. 
The other day, I called him with my hair full of foils while at the hair dresser and asked how things were going. "Well," he said, "Jason wouldn't stay in his room for his quiet time. I told him to come downstairs and we had a little talk, I gave him a little milk, and I explained that he was grounded from screen time for disobeying. Then I told him that he needed to go back in there until 2:00 and he finally listened."
Cracked. Me. Up. 

Ryan loves to cook and bake like his mama. He helps in the kitchen quite a bit and even made us homemade turkey and wild rice soup last night for dinner. All I did was toss some celery and onion into the pot and he followed a loose list of directions to finish it off while I was out with Kaylin. 
Making batches of meatballs to flash freeze for later.
When we woke up yesterday, it was windy and cold out, so Ryan had to pull out the jeans I bought him a couple of months ago. The poor kid had to wear high-waters to church. He is growing like a weed! And he had his first zit the other day, so puberty might be just around the corner. Oy.

If you were a fly on our wall this weekend, you would wonder where all of this nostalgia is coming from, because this wasn't a great weekend. There were tears, bickering, frustrations, grounded kids…it was a tough weekend, to say the least. But I've been wanting to capture this moment in our lives for a few weeks and sometimes the timing isn't ideal, but the sentiments are the same.

I remember a few months ago when I still thought of these kids frozen in time from 2011, but that is definitely no longer the case. My kids are all kids…no teens, no toddlers, just kids. And I'm really enjoying this phase. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Don't they look innocent…?
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

#16 - Take Kaylin to Make Meaning for a Mommy/Daughter date

There is an adorable little crafty place in town called Make Meaning. You get to "choose your experience" when you arrive: painting pottery, making soap, glass jewelry, decorating cookies or cakes…it's right up Kaylin's ally and I can't believe it took me so long to take her here for a special date!
The thing is, it is NOT cheap. This adorable little cake was $40 and it wasn't even that delicious. Mike and Ryan both said, "I like your homemade cakes better." Yup, me too.

But Kaylin deserved to do something extra special. Last weekend, Ryan spent the day with Mike and his dad at the ASU vs. Notre Dame game, then my mom ended up with last minute tickets to the Cardinals game Sunday and took Jason. I knew it was time to fork over some cash and do something fun and extravagant with my little girl.

The "experience" was exactly that, an experience! Kaylin had free reign to pick whatever she wanted for her cake. She had it spray painted blue (an ombre look) and chose different fondant colors to decorate with, plus several fun candies. Dog shapes, happy faces, balloons, chocolate "rocks", edible markers, cupcakes, the list goes on and on and there was no limit to what she could use for her creation.
Once I saw the birthday balloons, I suggested that we make a belated birthday cake for Daddy. She loved that idea and it gave her a theme to work with. 

We will be going back again! I doubt we'll pick the cake experience next time, but it got me thinking that I need to buy my girl some fondant and let her go to town. She was glowing the entire time we were there. 

#16 is finally crossed off my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list. Next up, I need to find a cake decorating class to take with my sweet girl! That's #84 on my list and now I know she'll love it!
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Sunday, November 9, 2014

#38 - Pre-plan my three most important tasks for the day every evening before bed for a month

I have developed a new strategy for tackling my daily to do list. Every night for a week, as planned, I wrote out 2-3 time-sensitive tasks that I wanted to get done the following day. To that, I started adding one non-time-sensitive task that I'd inevitably been putting off "until I had time to do it." Which, let's be honest, is NEVER. 

I'm tackling all of the big and small things on my list. Get a bedskirt made with the fabric that's been collecting dust for years? Done. Put felt on the bottom of the kitchen chairs so they slide more easily? Done.

I've even been completing items that have been pinned on my Pinterest boards. I added a sticky magnetic strip to the inside of my bathroom drawer to hold all of my bobby pins in one place. Genius, right? Not my idea…Pinterest. I also updated the old, oak frames hanging in my hallway with a coat of black spray paint and they look brand new. LOVE them!

And have you noticed that I'm suddenly tackling my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list again? Yeah. This is how I'm plowing through those items. The frame above my bed that's been broken for 5 years? Done. Schedule laser eye surgery? Done. Special dates with the kids? Done. Invite neighbors over for dinner? Done. 

I was shocked at the weight that was lifted from my shoulders when some of these longer term to-do items began disappearing, one at a time. I usually add one extra household project - sometimes big, sometimes small - to our schedule each weekend. Too easily, things pile up and I get so overwhelmed that I hide to avoid it all. My friend DutchMac calls it "Ostrich Syndrome". Pretty much sums it up!

I also discovered the beautiful option of categorizing my to do lists in my iPhone. This way, when I want to sit down and get some work done, I open my Tastefully Simple to do list. If I'm feeling crafty or want to do things around the house? There's a list for that, too. Out and about? I can run an errand on the way home.

It's my own little piece of hyper-organized, OCD heaven. 
#38 is crossed off my 101 in 1001 list!
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Using my "Good Camera"

I have an amazing camera. Buying a DSLR was on my original list of 101 Goals in 1001 Days and I was giddy for months after finally making the purchase!

But recently, I've noticed something.

Lugging along my awesome camera suddenly seems awkward and bulky, especially considering the fact that my phone takes pictures that aren't half-bad. 

A few examples...
Here's the thing; when I'm away from home and my phone is all I have, it's all fine and good. But at home, I need to walk 12 feet into the closet and grab my good camera. Because the pictures really DO turn out better, especially in odd lighting. Or if I want to get a cool bokeh (fuzzy background) effect.
Can't tell much of a difference? Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't. But I have my amazing camera with amazing lenses and it takes amazing pictures every time. I definitely need to use it more!
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Being a Sheep

In most situations, I'm pretty on top of things. I know what's going on, where we're going, what I need to bring with me, etc. There are very few instances where I blindly follow someone else in charge.

As a homemaker, I'm constantly aware of the next meal that needs to be prepared, which groceries we need, which chores should be completed next.

As a homeschool mom, there always seems to be checklist in my head of the items we've accomplished and topics that still need to be discussed.

In my Tastefully Simple business, no one is going to do my job for me, so if I don't bring my A-game, my parties are unsuccessful and my income suffers.

Get the idea? Is it the same in your world? 

I'll never forget overhearing a former co-worker asking her husband to grab milk on his way home from work. He called back from the dairy aisle asking which kind of milk he should buy, because there were so many options. My co-worker replied, "You seriously don't know which kind of milk we buy? You open the refrigerator every day, pour yourself a glass out of the carton, and you can honestly tell me you don't know if we drink 2%, 1% or skim!?!?!?" She was appalled.

Personally, I remember feeling like she was pretty harsh on him. But now, 11 years later, I can officially understand how that happened. 

I went on two trips this summer where I made virtually no decisions and was "along for the ride", so to speak. I felt like a sheep…responsible for nothing, all I needed to do was comply with already-made plans.

First, I went to Kansas City for my high school reunion. The reunion events were all planned out, and friends had coordinated times where we could get together before or after to catch up in a more intimate setting. All weekend long, I was literally told where to go and what time to be there, and I just showed up. It was incredibly freeing to not have to be in charge of anything for four days. 

Then in August, I went to Baltimore for our Tastefully Simple annual conference. I traveled with a couple of girls from my team, one of which is very organized, like me. But I let her be in charge of details like transportation to and from the airport, our hotel reservations, things like that. Her authority continued after we arrived. I was so clueless that, at one point, I walked in the complete opposite direction from our hotel to the convention center. It was the first time I had to be there earlier than the other girls and I should have walked left, but instead walked right. 

With no one to guide me, I was a lost sheep in downtown Baltimore. 

Toward the end of the trip, when I realized how little I was using my brain all weekend, I drew the parallel between me in that moment and my former co-worker's husband. Or many spouses of go-getter significant others, for that matter. When one partner takes the bull by the horns, I can see how the other would think, "Why bother? She/He's got it figured out."

I am that go-getter. Not to say that Mike is a sheep, by any means. But now I understand why he asks seemingly "silly" questions now and then. He's just along for the ride, in many cases. He's become comfortable there.

It was kind of fun to be in that position a couple of different times this summer! Contrary to popular belief, I do not need to be in the driver's seat all of the time. I am very comfortable being told what to do, as long as someone else takes control.

Vacations when I'm not in charge are definitely my new favorite. 
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