Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Resolutions Return

For the third year in a row, I started my New Year's Resolutions in September and with the intent to tackle one resolution each month, rather than following the more traditional route of kicking off on January 1st and attempting one or two resolutions over the course of the year. I choose resolutions as they come to me and according to what I feel I need to work on as each new month rolls around, and in the name of accountability, I touch base here at the beginning of every month to report back on how the previous month went and share what I plan to work on that month. Here we go!

I've made this my November resolution for quite a few years, and because I love intentionally documenting one thing for which I am thankful every day between November 1st and Thanksgiving Day, I plan to keep this tradition alive.

This year, when compared to at least the past few years, has weighed heavily on my heart. Injuries, illnesses, and health concerns - not life-threatening, but signifiant enough to cause worry and anxiety - have plagued those in my immediate family as well as those in our extended families and our friends. It seems like almost every day I hear about a new diagnosis received by or trauma dealt to someone we know, and every time I turn on the news I feel overwhelmed by the pain, suffering, cruelty, injustice, and ignorance found across the world, throughout our country, and even in my own community.

So this November in particular feels like the perfect time to focus on the good. The little good, like getting to sleep in on Saturday morning or finding a pair of cute AND comfortable shoes. The big good, like peace between nations or complete healing after injury or illness. And all the good in between. Want to join me?


And for those of you who would like to updates on past months' resolutions, here you go!

October Resolution:

How did it go?
I know a couple of Debbie Downers, and whenever I spend time with them, I'm reminded that my energy impacts those around me - especially my children - and that I need to regularly commit to decreasing my negative and increasing my positive energy. These encounters and conversations fueled implementation (and now maintenance) of this resolution, and I worked really hard to keep my complaints about the weather and the bugs to myself last month. I can't say I won't stop complaining about the weather all together - I am a Wisconsinite living in Texas, after all - but I hope to carry my slightly improved energy with me throughout the remainder of this year and into next.

September Resolution:

How did it go? 
This resolution remains a challenge, but I am making slow and steady progress when it comes to separating myself from my phone and my social media accounts. On one day in October I had to be on - or at least near - my phone and/or computer from 6:30am until 11pm. During Brazos Valley Gives, we were posting photos, videos, commentary, stories, donation requests, and updates on our nonprofit's social media pages; posting personal photos and testimonies on our personal social media pages; following along with the event's overall progress; and checking in on our nonprofit's progress...ALL.DAY.LONG. When 11pm finally rolled around, I couldn't wait to put my phone away - my eyes were tired and my brain was fried. And since that day, I have done much better at leaving my phone alone for longer stretches of time and checking in on social media fewer times a day. I still struggle with having my phone out while watching Liv and Maddie with Hallie though...that show, while quite pleasant, just doesn't require 100% of my attention. 😂

Did you resolve to change anything about yourself or your life this year? Last month? This coming month? How are those resolutions going?

Friday, November 8, 2019

High Five for Friday (11.8.19)

A couple of weeks of high fives are covered here today - thanks for understanding my swap out (Halloween fun in place of a High Five for Friday post) last week! 

This morning Hallie and I leave for Dallas for our 4th Dance Revolution Convention.
Dance Rev 2018
Yep, they're in the ballroom of a hotel at
11pm at night in their matching pajamas.

In the past I have used the adjective "whirlwind" to describe the Dance Rev weekend, and I anticipate that when we arrive home on Sunday night I will choose that same adjective to describe this year's event. But if I'm willing to dig a little deeper, beyond just an adjective, I can come up with a comparison to help you better understand Dance Rev: Dance Rev is like giving birth. There are bright lights and loud noises and SO MANY PEOPLE coming and going. There is organized chaos, followed by hours and hours of waiting, and then organized chaos once again. Emotions are amplified and everything is intensified. There are highs and lows and highs and lows. There is laughter and there are smiles. There is yelling and there are tears. There is joy, and there is pain (though not as much much physical pain as childbirth). When all is said and done, and when we pull back into College Station in two and a half days, I'll say to myself, "I can't believe I survived Dance Rev. I don't know if I can do it again." And yet, here we are, doing it again, and feeling somewhat excited about what's to come.

Here's to Dance Rev 2019!

At the end of October, two friends/committee members and I coordinated Ballet Brazos' participation in Brazos Valley Gives, a community-wide day of giving created around strengthening nonprofits, empowering donors, and building community. I hadn't flexed my fundraising muscles in many years, since my time with the American Red Cross in Iowa and Michigan, and it felt good to use that part of my brain again. I also enjoyed learning about how the nonprofit world has changed since I walked away and better getting to know the organizations that make up the Brazos Valley's nonprofit network. We look forward to participating again in 2020!
What we looked and felt like at 6am.
What we looked and felt like at 11pm.

Between a pajama day fundraiser prize, a sock hop day prize, a soccer "spooktacular", Halloween, and Red Ribbon week, the last couple of weeks have involved A LOT of dressing up. While I'm ready to go back to the kids just "getting dressed" in the morning, I think these events are lots of fun.
50s Day on the 50th Day of School
Pajama Day
Twin Day (But isn't every day Twin Day?)
Crazy Hair Day
Soccer Spooktacular
Will planned to wear Hallie's butterfly wings, but minutes prior the
event was rained out. He would have rocked that butterfly costume.
Costume Day
They were bummed to have to wear pants and shirts
under their costumes, but it was 36 degrees outside.

I don't usually go out and buy new outfits, costumes, and/or accessories specifically for these special dress-up days. We have accumulated lots of each over the years though, so we do what we can with what we already have. (Halloween is the exception, and I should give another shout-out to Grandma Brenda, who made Hallie's poodle skirt and all three of the girls' baker costumes!)

Speaking of Halloween... Tom missed out, having to spend the holiday in Seattle for a conference (what kind of insensitive conference organizers plan a conference the week of Halloween?!), but the rest of us had great fun with friends at our annual Halloween gathering.

Happiness Highlights
New cleats for the birthday boy! He's reached a level of play
at which he wants/needs higher quality cleats than we can buy
in College Station, so new boots means a trip to Houston. 
Hello, old friend...
Happy birthday, Natalie!
Round #2 at the pumpkin patch!
Painting our teal pumpkin in honor of her brother.
So many late nights up watching the World Series. 

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Monthly Medley: October 2019

I'm working on an article about the Science Mill in Johnson City - have any of my Texas friends visited this museum? I don't think I'll have time to visit before the article is due, so I'd love to chat with you about what you liked best in terms of their exhibits and educational exploration opportunities!

After reading three books in September (?!), I slowed down a little in October. I did, however, finish one book: The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. I don't know exactly how this book ended up on my nightstand - I didn't check it out from the public library so it must have come from either my mom or our little free library. The book revolves around two loosely connected plots, taking place a century apart but in the same location. Both plot lines followed interesting female protagonists, were built upon intriguing premises, played out a little more slowly than I would have liked, and ended...

(small spoiler alert)

...somewhat unexpectedly, suddenly, and tragically. This novel moved a little more slowly than I would have liked, but it was definitely still worth my time.

I started a couple more novels this month, both very different from The Weight of Water and each other - it's fun to sample different genres, styles, and authors!

I enjoy sampling new shows, but there's something comforting about turning on an old, familiar sitcom and letting it play in the background while cooking dinner, or folding laundry, or preparing for bed. After finishing Friends on Netflix (for the ?th time), I needed another "comfort sitcom" to fill the void...and The Office came to the rescue. I missed Jim and Pam a lot, and maybe Dwight and Michael a little bit too.

Listening To
Speaking of The Office... Have you heard about the new podcast, Office Ladies?! Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Pam and Angela) host the show, and each week they break down an episode and provide listeners with behind-the-scenes stories about what it was like to film that episode. Hearing their voices through my phone - and feeling like I have an all-access pass - has been really fun!

As we tiptoe nearer and nearer to fall(ish) weather, I can finally wear jeans again! (Well, I wore jeans in September because I had grown tired of my shorts, but the temperatures outside didn't exactly make jeans a comfortable choice.)

In the footwear department, for those of you who like the Birkenstock style but not the Birkenstock price, I have had great luck with these Madden Girl Bryceee Footbed sandals. I bought a pair in denim blue a couple of years ago and they are still in decent shape, so this month I picked them up in cognac as well. They're so comfortable, partly because they have an arch support (mandatory for me given my foot problems), and they hold up incredibly well!

Have you ever baked brownies? Have you ever waited patiently for your brownies to cool before cutting them, but they fell apart anyway? HAVE I GOT A SOLUTION FOR YOU. I can't take credit for this solution - I heard it on Naptime Kitchen's Instagram stories - but I have to share it: when you cut your brownies, use a plastic knife. So simple, yet so effective.

As someone who bakes frequently, it's safe to say this hack has changed my life.

We tried a few new recipes this month, but only one earned a share here on the blog. This Pork Chop Marinade - I used it on boneless pork chops rather than the bone-in pork chops the recipe calls for - was truly delicious, almost surprisingly so.

Feeling Good About
This month I'm going lighthearted when it comes to this category.

Happy October, friends!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Ultimate You're

[Haunted House]

Walks in, sees dead body on floor with "YOUR NEXT" written on the wall in blood.

Dips finger in blood.

Writes "YOU'RE".

Happy Halloween, friends. Call me if you need your haunted house or Halloween signage checked for grammar. 😉


I love looking back on what the kids - and Tom and I, once we started putting together themed family costumes - wore on Halloweens past.














Have a fun and safe Halloween, friends!

Posting Note: no High Five for Friday post tomorrow. I'm considering this post a High Five for Halloween and taking tomorrow off.