Monthly Archives: March 2012

Plan ahead for quality time

I don’t care what anyone says … I don’t find sitting in front of the TV with your significant other, family or friends to be “quality time.” Now, don’t get me wrong …I’m all for kicking back on the couch and relaxing with the TV on, or cuddling with the hubby during a movie (especially on cold, dreary days.)

To me, quality time with someone means interacting with one another… say a day of shopping with the girls, pedi’s with your mom or tackling a fun house project with your significant other. I’ve always thought taking a class with someone would be a lot of fun as well. The options are endless really … cooking classes, dance lessons, knitting/craft courses. And don’t discount a lectured course on a topic you both (or all) find interesting.

Recently, my hubby and I sat through a course on tree identification. While we didn’t say much more than a few words to each other throughout that 2-1/2 hour course, it educated us on a topic we both find intriguing. Come this spring, while we plant another 400+ seedlings throughout our property or while hike around our property, we can engage each other on a whole new level. And that my friends, is my true definition of quality time.

What is quality time for you?

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Let’s Talk About Change.

Change is something that happens to all of us, all of the time… on big and small scales.  Losing a loved one, having a baby, buying a new outfit, rearranging a room in your house.  It is all change – some more impacting than others.

Lately I find myself going through many changes.  Being pregnant and realizing the impending lifelong change of hubby and I becoming parents… job changes… rearranging rooms in our house… and so on.  All of them combined feel incredibly overwhelming.  Even though they all are good changes, they are changes nonetheless.  And change is scary.

Scary to think that the ability for hubby and I to go run out to dinner because mexican food sounds good will be more labor intensive.  Scary to think that we are responsible for another human being.  Scary to think that everything I know, right here, right now, will never be the same.

When the “scariness” of the changes roots itself, I remind myself of all the good that has come from change in my life.  It may have been overwhelming and unknown at first, but all in all, I am a better person for the changes that have happened in my life.  I am stronger and more well rounded person.

Change is scary.  Change is good.  Change grows us as people.

(Can someone remind me of this post when I am going on my third day of no sleep, can’t console a crying baby and am wondering what we got ourselves into?  Thanks in advance.)

How do you handle change?

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Great lessons to learn from man’s (and woman’s) best friend…

Look at that face!

I’m not one of those people who share chain “forwarded” messages. And for those of you who do, I’m not dissing you one bit… most of the messages are quite entertaining & enjoyable. The simple fact is this – I’m not about to bombard someone else’s inbox with these emails if I can barely keep on top of them myself.

However, I made the time to read one recently … I guess it was the title that caught my attention, “A Dog’s Purpose.”  It’s impact was greater than one would have initially thought it could be.

Here’s the email forward – I’m not sure of the original author, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A Dog’s Purpose?
(from a 6 year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish
Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their
little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for
a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we
couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia
procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good
for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane
might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family
surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time,
that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes,
Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty
or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering
aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me.
I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try
and live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life —
like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The Six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so
they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people
who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget
the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right.
Think good thoughts for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything
but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE…Getting back up is LIVING…

Have a great life.

After reading it, I now find myself reflecting on my attitude and communications with others every time my pup greets me at the door when I get at home. Her excitement and wagging tail is enough to make me smile no matter how bad of a day I’ve had. All in all, I guess it really just got me thinking … and hope it gets you thinking too – when was the last time you made someone smile?

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So Incredibly Proud To Be An American

This past weekend I went and saw the movie Act of Valor.  One word: amazing.

I am incredibly proud to be an American … I am the girl who always gets the chills and nearly cries every time she hears Taps or the national anthem.  This movie takes it to the next level.

The movie is based on real situations that Navy Seal Team 7 has dealt with.  All of the main characters are actual Seals.  The only actual actors in the movie are the ones listed on Imdb as roles like “Christo’s thug”.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.  Be prepared to walk away emotional, proud and incredibly thankful.

On that note, I would like to extend to all United States servicemen and veterans a HUGE thank you.  What you do for our country and its citizens is selfless, honorable and something that we can never truly thank you enough for.  Words will never do it justice.

All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart and know that the sacrifice of you and your families does not go unnoticed.


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Can I truly “unplug”?

Not me... or my vacation spot. But my vacation is just as awesome as this picture looks.

I am currently on vacation…and thanks to much prep work and a great trip, I have actually been able to “unplug” more than I have on other vacations in the last few years.  (Hence my lack of blog post last week…but don’t worry, you are getting two posts from me this week, just in case you missed me. 🙂 )

There is still work that has to be done, but I am pretty proud of myself and the fact that I have been able get done what I have gotten done and then go right back into vacation mode.

But I truly wonder, in today’s society of constant contact and ability to be reached at anytime and anywhere – can we truly unplug?

We set the expectations in our lives, and for many of us, we have set the expectation that we are all available – all the time.  Any time, any place, no matter what we are doing, no matter who we are with.  Whether for family, friends or work – we are always “on”.

I think we all strive to find a good balance in life and having a great trip where a glimmer of “unplugging” has been shown to me has taught me that it is possible to have a fulfilling day without checking facebook, replying to too many emails (but yes, I did check them daily) or having my phone glued to me all day.

Now that I my eyes have been opened to this, I plan to continue down this path… What do you do to find a good balance or “unplug”?

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A healthy & affordable snack: (self) roasted almonds

It seems that every couple weeks my husband and I have a chat about eating healthier … but every week the same crummy snack foods end up on the grocery list – doritos for me (cool ranch are my weakness) and cookies & other sweets for my other half. Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds… I buy the carrots, apples and other healthy stuff, but the crap food is usually the first to go. And when I do spend the dime on healthy options, like berries and nuts (which I’d personally prefer to eat over that crap food), it’s gone in the first 2 days and I’ve spent 2-3 times as much.

A small step in the right direction…
After my hubbies frugal but smart suggestion, I’ve recently started to purchase raw almonds and roast them myself. The bags of raw almonds are still a bit pricey, but they are cheaper and healthier than the other roasted nut options the stores offer as I don’t coat them in sugar or salt.

It’s a simple as this…
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the almonds flat on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Roast for 8-10 mins.
Allow to cool and store.

A HUGE lesson learned to share here is that the oils in the almonds continue to cook the nut for a while after removing from the oven. I’ve made the mistake of tasting upon removal – thinking they were still too chewy and throwing them back in the oven. The result if you aren’t patient … burnt almonds.

The result if you are patient … a crunchy, delicious, affordable and convenient snack for at home, on the road or at work.

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The snooze button – friend or foe?

Let me start out by saying I am a social, sane and pretty optimistic individual, BUT every time that darn alarm goes off in the morning, I have the hardest time dragging myself out of bed. These winter months seem to make it especially difficult … its dark, its cold and nothing is sweeter than hitting the snooze (if even for the fifth or sixth time), rolling over and burying myself under my heavy, warm comforter.

So, what’s the problem you ask…? No children, right? … “you might as well enjoy it while you can!” While you are right and I realize I have it easy in that respect, I’ve ultimately found myself with too much to do and not enough time to do it. While cloning myself would help, it’s highly unlikely to happen in the next decade … or two. And if it did, it’s highly likely to drive my hubby up the wall. I’ve determined I need to make my days longer and the only way to do that at this point in time is to get my ass out of bed earlier.

And this I’ve tried… tried and failed morning after morning. After months of failure, I’ve finally realized I need a solid plan to initiate change. Here are some tips I’ve found, along with some of the trials and tribulations on my journey to becoming an early riser …

1. Be realistic. Don’t make drastic changes… you’ll only set yourself up for failure.
Baby steps it is! And like a big baby, I’m able to make an excuse for not getting up.

2. Go to bed with a plan and STICK with it. Don’t talk yourself out of getting up early.
That means no more “just another 10 minutes.”  Unfortunately that evil, sleepy voice wins… every. single. time.

3. Go to bed early to make sure you get enough sleep.
This is a work in progress for me. Some nights are better than others. Despite my best intent, there is always something to do. By the time I realize it, it’s already “time for bed.”

4. Get Moving
One site I read recommended breathing exercises in bed upon the sound of the alarm. All this did for me was put me back to sleep. Another suggested simply putting your alarm clock across the room to force you to get up and out of bed. I hate to admit it, but this may be my next step. Ultimately, my goal is to get in the habit of working out in the morning like my counterpart, Audi. I guess I just need to find the right inspiration OR purchase a treadmill and DVR for the basement!

5. Have a good reason for getting up early… and make it part of your routine.
This could be anything from planning a yummy breakfast to creating a morning to-do list for yourself so you feel energized and productive in the mornings.
As you can tell, I’m definitely not a morning person and as my 30’s rapidly sneak up on me, I’m finding the night owl side that helped me through my college days is slowly fading away as well. In the last few weeks, I’ve had decent success by following some of the advice above. Inevitably, there are mornings where I’ve fallen back into my old habits. Here’s to hoping the warmer, brighter mornings to come in the next few months will help put a “spring” in my step out of bed.

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