Weekend Plans.

Happy almost-weekend, friends!  Monday is a holiday, and our school system loves to take advantage of Mondays off and give us an extra-long weekend, so today is a teacher in-service day and the kids are home.  PRO: an extra lazy day where we don't have to get up early and make it to the bus on time.  (extra PRO: no lunch prep!)  CON: one less quiet weekday for getting work done.  I not-so-secretly covet my alone time, which makes me feel both awesome for not needing anyone to entertain me and terrible that I wish everyone out of the house because I really do love them.

As usual we have no grand plans, the weather will be on the colder side, and we will most likely be staying in for the duration, with a possible trip to the library for movies.  My husband has been  building his own guitar so most likely he'll put in several hours in the workshop, the kids will want a snack every 30 minutes, and I will try to stay on top of the laundry while trying to squeeze in some work time.  With the exception of two small orders I haven't done any work in my studio since Christmas, and it might be time to try and get some new products churned out.  I love the lax feeling of an open weekend.  What are your plans for the upcoming days off? 

Little Splurges.



Have you ever been out doing errands, or running between appointments and found yourself getting a coffee or a baked good because "I deserve a treat"?  Or have you been out doing some shopping and see something small that you like but don't need but grab it anyway because you're "doing something nice for yourself"?

Guilty.

Toward the end of 2016 I noticed that I was indulging myself in little "splurges" all the time.  One of our grocery stores has coffee you can sample for free, but then you can also buy a small cup for $1 or a large cup for $2.  I used to always just get a little sample to drink while I was shopping, and then one day I decided I was going to get a small cup, just as a little treat.  Then, because I did it once, I decided to do it the next time I went in.  And then eventually I decided I may as well get a large cup since it's just $1 more, and before you know it I'm getting a large coffee every week when I go into that store, and for what?  What exactly am I treating myself to at that point - making it out to the grocery store that week?  It merely became a bad habit reinforced by the idea that I was doing something nice for myself.

Like that color of nail polish?  Grab it!  It's a treat.  Fancy a donut?  Grab it!  It's a treat.  That candle smells nice?  Grab it!  It's a treat.

I started to realize that I was justifying impulse buying and habits I'd slowly formed by telling myself that I was doing something nice for myself.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking doing something nice for yourself occasionally -we all certainly deserve to be good to ourselves - but for me it was just becoming a thing.  I don't need all those little things to be happy, and in the end some of those things (hello, donut) really aren't good for me when they are not actually just an occasional treat.

Once all the Christmas food had been purchased, I planned to not go grocery shopping again until after the holidays and everyone was back to work and school.  Because I didn't go out for most of that week, there were fewer impulse purchases, and I decided that the habits need to be broken in 2017.  When we first moved into our house in 2009 and we were spending all our time and money fixing it up, we bought nothing that was unnecessary so I know it can be done.  So far so good but I now consciously notice the dialogue going on in my head: "grab a snack to eat in the car...oh a sweet tea would be good....that candle smells good...."

So much of this is just unnecessary spending because they are things I can live without, and I can certainly make it home from the grocery store without buying a snack to eat on the way.  To that end, I'm going to try and keep noticing that narrative and try to shut down the "treat myself" way of thinking.  An actual splurge every now and again is fine, and really is a treat, but this weekly nonsense has to stop.

Do you notice that you justify your impulse buys?  Have you developed a habit from treating yourself to something?

Time.


Yesterday I started in on a project I have wanted to get done for awhile now - organize and consolidate all the photos that are on my laptop onto one large zip drive so I can free up space on the computer and phones and iPad, and so I can actually find the things I'm looking for when I go looking for it.  I typically offload all the photos onto the laptop when it's time to do the annual photo calendar for the grandmothers, and I pick through and find the ones I want to use and then never bother deleting the ones that are super blurry, or the ones with faces like this:


(Okay, I'm keeping that one, but you get my point.)

I decided that it needed to happen and while moving the work-based stuff was easy, getting the family photos under control was another.  However, once I got into the mysterious file folders yesterday, I realized something super precious that we have and never actually look at: videos.  Before our son was born in 2009, we decided to buy an iPhone, a then relatively new thing in the world, so that we would be able to take videos and send them to my in-laws in Florida.  And right after he was born and for a couple of years after, we did that all the time

Watching these short little clips of moments of my babies' lives (and I watched them all, believe me) and getting to hear their tiny little voices, or seeing them when they couldn't even talk or move or feed themselves, I realized that they are old.  And they will never be that little again.  And they were cute, gosh darnit.  And time is flying by.



I looked at silly things, like favorite clothes that no longer fit, or toys that are long gone now, and remembered those moments so vividly from when they happened - and it all seems like it just happened.  But that boy and that girl are almost five years older than those photos above.  He's got a mouthful of adult teeth and she has hair down to her rear end.

I have never been one of those moms who gets sad when a stage comes to an end.  Moving on from bottles?  Awesome.  Done with the Diaper Genie?  Hallelujah.  Everyone can climb into the car themselves?  Excellent.  But watching those videos and seeing their tiny little faces made me sad.  Sad that they won't be that little and that innocent and that free again.  Sad that we can't go back and visit those ages again.  And sad that when you're in the thick of it, you don't enjoy it like you should.

I also realized that we've got so much going on now, and with both kids in school all day we don't take pictures as much as we should, and video is almost non-existent.  I enjoyed watching these little snippets from their past and I want to make sure that we have even more of them to enjoy before they get even bigger and turn into angsty teenagers who won't let us take their picture.  So even though I decided not to put any official goals on myself this year, I'm adding this to the unofficial goals list.  And then while I'm at it I'm going to print out some of my favorite photos and put them in an actual album that the kids can flip through, because they love looking at when they were little, and so do I.


2016 Books: Read It.


Every now and then I manage to finish a book - reading being an activity that I enjoy very much, but I seem to have trained myself to think it's selfish to sit and not move and just absorb words for an hour or so.  So while I don't take the time that I would like to relax and read, I did manage to finish off a few good books this past year.


Food and the City was by far one of my favorites.  Told in short story form grouped by food category (chef, waiter, huge restaurants, tiny niche eateries, food trucks) by those in the industry, each vignette gives you a look into the world of food in New York City, right down to the woman who runs the food program for Rikers Island.  The insight into those who started their own business or work at storied institutions is fascinating.


This one is way outside of my normal picks, but I really liked it.  A collection of short stories, the reader is taken from one bizarre situation to another, putting a weird twist on everyday situations like book clubs and reality shows.



Probably one of the best books I've read in awhile, this (true) story satisfied all my secret desires of traveling while also touching on the complete anxiety of it all.  The author and her boyfriend decide to travel overseas carrying no more than what they are wearing and what they can fit in their pockets, relying on couch surfing, friends, and strangers.  I enjoyed the adventure from the safety of my couch.



The fine art of why Jewish mothers raise such smart, upstanding children.  Anyone who has kids could easily read this book and pick up some tips, while also learning some history on why education and character are so important to the Jewish people.  From what I read, I'd currently rate at about 50% Jewish mother.


This was a fun book and a quick read, written in the form of texts and emails and chronicling a relationship in the digital age.  Written from the perspective of both he and she, we can see how the written word can be taken out of context, and how easy it is to insert friends into your "private" communications.

What's been a favorite book of yours lately?  I'm currently on the hunt for something new, and I'd love suggestions!

7 Things I Am Not Allowed To Buy in 2017.


In my perfect world, I would be a minimalist and I would be happy with that lifestyle.  I would not have too much, and everything would have a purpose and a place.  In reality, shopping makes me feel good.  Getting something new is an emotional boost, especially if it's the perfect thing.  The problem is, I've acquired too many perfect things this year and we are once again running out of room to put it all, which is driving me a little nutty.  To that end, here are seven things that I pledge not to buy this year (at least until depletion):

1. Tea.  My cabinet is overflowing with boxes of various types of tea.  The problem is I have my favorites that I drink all the time - and there are several of those, and then there are the teas that I wanted to try and maybe didn't love or don't drink all the time.  I am not allowed to buy another box of tea until my supply is down to like, three types.

2. Coffee.  See above. (and I don't even drink coffee that often!!)

3. Candles.  I love a good candle.  Hand me an evergreen scent, or my new favorite - anything with sandalwood/teak/tobacco in it - and I'm going to buy it like the sucker I am.  No more until the ones I have are used up.

4. Art supplies for the kids.  Maybe it's because we just had Christmas, and maybe it's because I just organized it all for the third time this week, but no more crayons, markers, colored pencils, Perler beads, or stickers.  None!  They can get new paper, though, or else we'll never use this stuff up.

5. Clothes for the kids.  My children are the best outfitted duo on the planet.  They could easily go for at least two weeks and not run out of new things to wear, and that needs to stop because it is unnecessary.  Unless their shoes don't fit or they have a huge growth spurt, no new clothes!

6. Paper goods.  Oh, paper, how I love thee.  List pads, thank you notes, journals, planners.  I am a sucker, again, especially when it's reasonably cheap at Home Goods.  Granted, I do use these things on the daily, but not enough to warrant buying more.

7. Mugs.  At the end of 2016, between craft shows and Christmas, I managed to pick up four or five new mugs, on top of the million I already have.  I use them every single day, but I definitely have my go-to favorites while the others get pushed further back in the cabinet.  Not another one, 2017!

Tell me I'm not alone in these hoarding tendencies.  What is something you tend to accumulate and probably shouldn't buy any more of for awhile?

Focus.


To say that 2016 didn't go exactly as planned is probably an understatement.  I'm not talking about world news and events, though - just my own plans for the past year.  A few nights ago I opened up Blogger for the first time since July and looked back at my first two posts of 2016.  The first was a recap of 2015 and the second was my goals for 2016.  I'm going to save you the recap post this year because everything was left unaccomplished.

Truth: This year I have found myself more regularly exhausted than normal, and I've also touched on the mysterious pounds that have found their way around my middle.  Those and a myriad of other little things that just seemed like they had to add up to something led me to the doctor, where I was told that I have elevated levels of cortisol, which is too much stress hormone.  (I'm literally stressed all the time?  Surprise.)  Long story short, those elevated levels are basically draining my system, so when I'm actually stressed, I find myself with things like migraines, joint pain, and literally not being able to keep my eyes open in the middle of the day, drained and almost breathless, muddling through a fog.  Good news: it's something!  And I can probably do something to help fix it!  Bad news: can't see the specialist until March so I am doing what I can with vitamins and other homeopathic suggestions.  In the end, though, knowing that all these things that kept derailing my progress over the year are something and it's not just me being lazy is so helpful to know and I can stop beating myself up about it.

2017 is hopefully going to be a year of getting back on track - health, home, and business.

Health: get cortisol levels under control, exercise, stop eating crap, drink more water.

Home: finally try and maintain some sort of cleaning schedule, purge junk, spend less

Business: make some new products, stockpile products for fall shows, rebuild my website, revamp Etsy for more online sales

My one finite goal I'm setting this year: no library fines.  Success in that itself will be an epic feat.

To accomplish all of this, the word of the year is focus, with an emphasis on focusing on myself.  I give a lot of attention to various different things that don't actually promote growth and success to my own self and my own business, and I would like to put some of that time and effort into me.  I've got a new planner and a week-by-week list pad to help keep me on track, so we'll see how it goes.  I don't beat myself up over goals or ideas that didn't happen, but forward progress would be nice, and figuring out a concrete way to stay on track would be extraordinary.  I hope to write more as well because I think it helps clear out some of the brain clutter, so hopefully we can reconnect here throughout the year.  Wish me luck!

On Working.


I had a conversation with a friend recently about going back to work.  We are both in a similar situation in that our kids are going to be off to school full time in the fall, and that will leave us both with a mostly free day, and leaves us both wondering if it's time.

It's not the actual work itself that gives me pause (although teaching has certainly changed since I was in a classroom seven years ago and I might need to learn some stuff), but the idea of giving up the ability to be there for our kids when we want to that is niggling at both of us.  I like to know that I can pick my kids up if they're sick, and I can take them to appointments when they need to go.  I like being able to have the time to take them to activities after school and not have to coordinate a carpool or other care.  I like the flexibility of my daily routine and not being forced into a rigid schedule.

On the other hand, it would be nice to pay down the mortgage so maybe we could go on a nice vacation together, or eat out more often, or visit places with admission fees we don't want to pay.  Even just a smaller extra salary could put a dent in those payments.  It would be nice to find a job that would allow me to work from say, 9-2 each day while the kids are in school.  But...then there is the inevitable summer vacation where they would be home, and they aren't yet old enough to stay home by themselves, so some kind of care would have to be arranged.  Ideally I would find a job in the kids' school, but again, it's commitment to something I'm not sure I'm ready for.  In seven years I have gone from someone who has always worked to someone who has no idea what I'm going to be when I grow up.

But, at least I know it's not just me and that others are struggling in the same situation that I am.  That gives me a little bit of comfort that I am not just being lazy when it comes to hesitating returning to work, but really thinking about if it's time to upend the routine and balance we've got going on right now.  Luckily for us it's not a dire situation and I will have time to decide what's right for us, and hopefully a clear path will appear at the right time.