Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 In Review

I started this blog as a way to consolidate and blog about all of the things I am into: fitness, knitting, quilting, scrap-booking,crafting in general, reading, and of course, my family! Like a lot of things in my life, I got sidetracked and didn't stick with it. Hopefully I will be more "faithful" to my blog in 2014!

Before we head into the new year, though, let's look back at 2013. I was inspired to do this by Jennifer, who is an amazing, incredibly strong woman, IMHO!

 Let's wrap up 2013 and put a bow on it, shall we?

Joy @ i can say mama: 2013 Wrap up


Gained or lost weight? Yes

Predominant feeling in 2013? Up and down!

Predominant feeling for 2014? Anticipation! New state, new home, and so many new possibilities!

Something you did for the first time in 2013? Became a licensed Zumba instructor and taught my first class. I continued for a few months until we moved.

Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause? I'm knitting and crocheting again! Loving it!

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?  Two things did not get crossed of my goals list from 2013: size 9 and paying off bills. I made big progress on both, though! Mark my words, I WILL achieve these two in 2014! Watch me!

Word of the year? Changes! We waved bye bye to Chuck, our 50 year old mental patient and moved from California to Texas, to name a few1

Hair longer or shorter? Longer and more red.

Hospital stays? I didn't stay, but I did end up in the ER the night before my daughter's birthday due to getting oils from the world's hottest pepper in BOTH of my eyes.

(Fallen) In love? Still very much in love with my husband!

Most called person? I don't talk on the phone much these days. I guess I talk to my mom the most.

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with? Wow. That's a tough one. Most of the moments with my daughter are beautiful! I also had a very memorable night out with my BFF, J'Ho of Mom Rocks Mealtime!

Song of the year? Overcomer by Mandissa

Book of the year? 1, 2, 3 Magic

Movie of the year? Frozen. Proabbly cuz it's the most recent one we saw and the only one I can think of right now.

TV Show of the year? SCANDAL! Hands DOWN! I don't even want to wait and play catch up on DVR. I HAVE to watch it as soon as it comes on!

Insight of the year?  It's never to late to become the person you've always wanted to be.

Three things you totally could have done without?

  • The whole oil of the hottest pepper in the world in my eye thing.
  • Ugliness from someone I love. 
  • Escalation of Charlie's condition.

The most expensive thing you bought? A new to me Chevy Traverse

The most delicious meal or food you ate? Wasabi Crusted Tuna with Ginger-Soy Sauce!

The best party? Girls Night Out with J'Ho! It was EPIC!

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of? Myself: That I can accomplish anything I set my mind to!

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve? At home. Nothing exciting.

What will you have for dinner? I need to check the menu and get back to you.

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink? If I know my hubby, he got champagne.

Will you ignite any fireworks? No.

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous? Comfy!

Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014? I prefer to call them commitments. I sure did for 2013. Wrote 'em on a white board and posted it on FaceBook. I then checked 'em off (almost all of them anyway) and re-posted it each time I accomplished something. Definitely going to do it again!

What are your wishes for the new year? I really hope to start teaching Zumba again. And get plugged in to a church that feels as much like home as our church in Chico, California did. That's a pretty tall order.

In one word, 2013 was... Dramatic.

Now it's your turn. Pick a question or two or all, and tell me what your answer would be!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fail to Plan or Plan to Fail Part 2

When I posted Fail to Plan or Plan to Fail Part 1, about two weeks ago, I had another post planned out in my head. That post was going to include how clever I was to plan my NaBloPoMo in advance. I used a calendar from Calendars That Work and plotted out all my topics. Ok, not ALL the topics and not one for every day...

And there en-lies the problem!

Life just up and got in the way. Between sickness in the home, searching for and buying a house, on top of a sudden influx of actual work to do at the jobby job, my lack of planning for NaBloPoMo really kicked me in the backside. I didn't actually complete the plan. I didn't plan for contingencies like sick kids or sick me or deadlines piling up.

That's what I get for being smug! 

As we stare down the countdown app which currently reads "8" days, and January 1st hot on the heels of Christmas, I find myself setting some lofty goals. I had some pretty good ones last year, and I've crossed all but one off the list! I didn't even really have a plan when I set those goals. That may explain why that last one is still on there.

I have goals for my own health and fitness, reading goals, and business goals. What will determine whether or not I achieve them? What is the difference between crossing one off the list and checking them all off completely? You guessed's whether I: 

Plan, Schedule, Plan Some More

Plan: This involves taking each of my goals and breaking them into mini goals. For example, take the amount of weight I want to lose over the next 12 months and break it down into monthly and weekly goals. 

Schedule: I can vow to exercise more and eat healthier, but unless I get my workouts on the calendar and plan some healthy meals ahead of time, life is guaranteed to come up again and get in the way. I will put my workouts on my calendar and stick to them like I would a meeting with my boss, a doctor's appointment, or a date with my husband! 

Plan Some More: Once I've got my goals figured out, broken down, and scheduled, I also need to review it all now and frequently. I'll check my progress and make sure I'm on track. These check-ins will go on the calendar as well, or they won't happen. 12 months will slip right by and I'll weigh the same and not have read any more or gotten any scrap-booking done! 

There you have it. That is my strategy for 2014. What about you? Do you have goals? Do you have a plan in place to make sure you'll get there?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fail to Plan Or Plan to Fail Part 1

Last night was supposed to be ballet night for the girls (my almost 5 year old and her 5 year old 2nd cousin). Unfortunately, time got away from us adults. I picked up my kiddo after work with cousin in tow. After the pre-k pickup, we headed to the pharmacy to get antibiotics for the cousin. This task took way longer than I had counted on.

By the time I was in the drive through line, it was determined it was too late to get the girls home and fed before ballet. Hubs had gotten waylayed and dinner wasn't started yet. A flurry of miscommunication ensued between hubs, niece, and myself. We decided to cancel ballet and just go out to eat. That plan eventually got canned to. In the end, niece and daughter went home and I took my munchkin to ballet on an empty stomach.

This story plays out every night in a kajillion households. There's nothing to eat, so we make a bad choice: let's eat. This rash decision is often costly and not very healthy.  We plan our dinner menus for the week with the help of my bff, J'Ho at Mom Rocks Mealtime, and a variety of other recipe sites to inspire our taste buds. Unfortunately, life happens and plans get changed.

Jen posted an incredible blog about freezer meals this week. I am definitely going to check out the book it is based on and get some of those puppies in my freezer ASAP so we don't push the dining out emergency button again.

I have more to say about the topic of "Fail to plan, or plan to fail," so stay tuned for part 2!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On How We Talk to Ourselves

Have you ever heard someone speak and the message just hit you right between the eyes?  This past Sunday I attended another church. My family is still looking for our "church home" here in Texas. I posted about the challenges with that before. Anyway, this other church had a substitute speaker. It was a woman, which was different for me. I didn't even realize she was giving the message until she was a ways into it! The church's regular pastor was preaching at his home church, so she was standing in.

I thought she did an amazing job. She was very well prepared. She had created a biblical time line and put it on the alter. As she spoke, she moved from one end of the timeline to the other, as appropriate for the scripture she was talking about at the moment.

All that aside, one story she told blew me away. Evidently the gal speaking is a school counselor or a teacher. She talked about a fifth grade student who had been cutting herself. She had old and new cuts up and down her forearms. The counselor had to think on her feet about how to get through to this gal. How could she possibly convey to her how precious she is?

Well, she approached it by asking the pre-teen what would happen if the youngster had put those cuts on another student? The gal knew enough to realize that would be wrong, and the the counselor would likely call the cops and she would be charged with assault! What an eye opener that was for her, to realize she has essentially assaulted herself.

There was way more to the message about how we are precious in God's sight, all the verses that talk about holiness and so on. That is all awesome stuff, but what really hit me was how I talk to myself. For goodness sake! I would never, I mean NEVER talk to anyone else on the PLANET the way I talk to myself sometimes!

The message really stopped me in my tracks. It made me realize how I mentally cut myself day in and day out. I am trying hard to put a stop to it by putting positivity into my brain.

What about you? What do you say to yourself throughout the day? Would you talk to anyone else the way you talk to yourself? Not just out loud, but those silent whispers, those thoughts that echo louder in our brain that if we'd spoken the words out loud.

Texas Women Bloggers

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday's Blogs of the Week Recap

Oopsies! I was supposed to post this yesterday, but hubs and I were celebrating our anniversary again. He had taken me out on the town before our anniversary, but this weekend he really wanted to cook me a nice dinner. It was fabulous, as always.

Now, for this week's best blog posts!

This one was supposed to make last week's list. I don't know how I missed it! I always turn to Mom Rock Mealtime when it comes time to sit down and plan out the menus for the week. I come up with the recipes, and hubs does the shopping and most of the cooking. I think I got the better end of the deal, that's for sure! Jen, a.k.a. J'Ho, a.k.a my BFF is the author of Mom Rocks Mealtime. You can follow her on Twitter or sign up to receive her weekly, family tested recipes. Whatever you do, do NOT miss this post, Dueling Tuna Steaks!!! The Wasabi-Crusted Tuna will change your life forever, I promise! I haven't had a chance to try out the other Jennifer's (blogger at I'm Dancing In the Rain) tuna recipe, but it's on my to-do list!

Speaking of I'm Dancing in the Rain, Jennifer has another post that really made me pause and think. Check out Medical Preparedness for Kids!  She covers a topic most of us never think about, but really do need to spend some time on!

I discovered these next two blogs over at the Texas Women's Sweet Tea Link of party. My new faves over there this week were by Taylor Brione Ballard  and Michelle at Life on the Horizon. Taylor's post reminds us the importance and beauty of staying true to ourselves, no matter what the "rule book" says. Who wrote the "rules," anyway? Fitness is a big part of my life. Michelle has a 100 miles in 100 days challenge I signed up for. This is in addition to my current fitness regimen.

This post made me grateful that even though I signed up for NaNoWriMo AND NaBloPoMo, I really only ended up going for it with the latter. I'm so glad I did.

Image: Gifrific

Finally, though it is not a blog post, I give it two thumbs up and five starts. I had the privilege this week of reviewing a book that cracked me up to the point of needing oxygen. Nothing will turn a bad day/week/month/year around like a good ol' belly laugh. I highly recommend Monkeys Wearing Pants by Jon Waldrep. It's only $0.99 for 66 pages of the best therapy you can get for that kindda money.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Truth

This is my first Five Minute Friday post. Who knew it would tie in so well with the Confident Heart Bible Study this week? I think that it's no coincidence and today is a good day to remind me about the Truth about me.

Why? Well, I am noticing some positive changes in myself since starting the Bible study and reading scripture more frequently. I won't say regularly because I'm not on a regular schedule yet. But, it's definitely becoming more frequent and it's paying off.

Oops! Forgot to set the timer for five minutes...

I am noticing:
  • I haven't had a headache since last Thursday. This could totally be coincidence, I mean I did start the study about a month ago. It's still worth pointing out because I'm SO thankful for being pain free for a whole week! 
  • I haven't dropped any F bombs lately, other than the usual cartoon cursing characters in chat with my BFF at work. Work brings that out of a girl. 
  • I haven't gotten irrationally, crazy angry at anyone lately (usually my husband is the one standing in the path of Hurricane Sara). 
  • I generally feel less stressed. 
  • God's word seems to be seeping in. The letter I wrote to myself on my post yesterday was based on scripture, without looking it up or even thinking about it. That letter really just kindda flowed out of my fingers. Pretty cool. The perfectionist inside of me believes I need to look up and memorize the scripture references that go with the verses.  The TRUTH is, the fact they are written on my heart is plenty!
Quick check of the timer...minute and a half left...need to grab some links and an image!

Here's some TRUTH about this post:
  • I am going over 5 minutes. 
  • I started looking for an image and decided to create my own. 
  • In the process, my Firefox crashed
  • I let loose a silent, yet exaggerated F bomb when that happened. I guess He isn't finished with me yet (Philippians 1:6, I looked it up!).


Five Minute Friday

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I am fearfully, wonderfully made

A Confident Heart Blog Hop - Week 4

His Goodness Makes Me Good Enough

I started this Proverbs 31 Online Bible study about a month ago.  It has been and continues to be a fun way to keep the topics covered during the study at the forefront of my mind. I like to sit down at the beginning of the week and read the week's chapter(s), make a few journal notes about the memory verse and the hashtag of the week (this week's is #WhoIam). I get emails from the hostesses of the studies with videos that make me reflect and think about the reading for the week. 

This week we're reading chapter four of the book, titled "When Doubt Whispers 'I'm Not Good Enough.'" The memory verse is John 1:2 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

One of the assignments, if you will is to write about what are of my life I feel not good enough and to write a letter to myself as a reminder that because of Jesus I am good enough. Here goes: 

I have been a full time telecommuter since 2007, shortly after my husband and I got married. I don't remember much about my homemaking in the beginning. What I do know is that I often get frustrated with myself, to the point of tears, wondering, "How do NORMAL people (as in, people with normal, have to get dressed and go to work jobs) do it!?" I don't understand how I could ever get my kid fed and dressed and out the door on time and still have time to actually shower, dress, and feed myself, and still allow time to wait patiently in the carpool lane. 

Then there's all the errands that have to be run (I am so grateful my husband takes care of that stuff), laundry to be washed, folded, and put away! Meals to plan, shop for, and prepare...and I don't even have to pack lunches for the little on yet! 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work from home, because I don't see how I could do it all any other way! 

That, my friends, is the "Readers Digest version." I can get really worked up and deeply depressed about what a failure I am on a daily basis if I'm not careful. My husband breathes deeply and I assume he's disappointed in something I haven't done. He has NEVER said anything to make me feel this way. I talk myself into thinking he thinks I'm in adequate! It's quite silly, really. I mean, I know I could certainly do all those things if I had to. But I don't have to, so I don't.

Ok, now for the letter to myself. This is going to feel silly, but it's the assignment, so here goes:

Dear Sara, 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I created you. I knew what kind of mother and wife you were going to be, long before your parents even considered starting a family. You have a unique situation. I put people in your path while you were pregnant and worrying about things that will probably never happened when Miss M gets older. They pointed out that you grow with her. When the time comes for packing lunches and waiting in the carpool lane, you will be ready. That, or you'll have the Mister do it. ;)  I had a plan when I introduced you to him, too, you see! Please, stop beating yourself up about the wife and mother you are not, and focus on the wife and mother that you are, the one you are growing into. 

Husbands and children do not come with instructions. That's because it's so much more interesting to learn as you go, hands-on, and get a little messy in the process. You're doing fine. Your husband loves you very much. So does your daughter, So do I. 


P31 OBS Blog Hop

Happy Anniversary to Us!

The mister and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary this week. We got a head start last Friday night. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up married to man who does not care for country music, including (gasp!) George Strait. While George Strait fan-hood seemed important in my early twenties, I guess it got replaced with some other traits.

Here are just a few of the many reasons I love my husband:

  • He takes good care of me.
  • He's a natural networker, which has come in handy many times!
  • He's funny. Mostly he's corny, but he makes me laugh. Not that it's hard to do, but it is important!
  • He's incredibly generous. He's been known to pay for cat food for a gal at the grocery store who had to put it back because she couldn't afford it, anonymously pay for people's dinner at a restaurant, and many more. 
  • He's a great cook! OK, so my hips and thighs don't agree this is a positive thing, but it is. Especially the part about "he does 98% of the cooking around here." 
  • He handles the mundane life tasks of life I just can't stand, freeing me up to do other things.
  • He loves me even though I can be quite unlovable.
  • and many, many more!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy Things!

Life gets so dang NEGATIVE sometimes! I get notifications from a certain news station on my phone, constantly alerting me to how scary this world is. Work drains my life force. Life, in general, can be quite harsh.

I, however, am a positive person! At least, I try to be. Some days it comes more naturally than others.

Today, I thought it would be fun to post some things that make me happy! In no particular order:

  • Tea
  • Chai tea
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte (or just pumpkin creamer in my home brewed coffee)
  • George Strait music (especially "There's a New Kid in Town" this time of year)
  • Zumba (must be practiced at 100% or more capacity for 45 minutes or longer for best benefits)
  • Books (thank goodness for Kindle Freebies!)
  • Getting mail. I prefer happy mail, like cards or letters, but I'll settle for catalogs these days!
  • My daughter's snuggles first thing in the morning
  • Listening to my daughter singing her little heart out
  • OK, almost anything having to do with my daugther
  • Digital Scrap-booking! I actually have a pretty good handle on the album for 2013! So proud of myself.
  • The feeling of accomplishment and pride I feel when I finish my daughter's Halloween costume
  • Wearing jewelry makes me feel pretty
  • Cowboy boots --- gotta get me some new ones!
  • When my husband gets the giggles. 
  • Date night!
  • Spending time with my sisters. This is incredibly rare as one lives in London and the other in California, where I recently moved from.
  • Holding sleeping babies. I sure don't want another of my own, but I do enjoy renting them!
  • A nice, hot shower
  • A nice, hot bath
  • Talking to my dad on the phone
  • Sewing with Mom
  • Flower bulbs like iris (ok, technically a rhizome), daffodils ("daffabulls," according to my darling daughter just a short year or so ago), and tulips.
  • Quality time with friends
There is so much more, but that's a start! What makes you happy?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who Knew It Would Be This Hard?

About 13 years ago, I walked into the First Church of the Nazarene in Chico, California. I was greeted by a lovely woman, named Laura, who knew exactly who I was (though we'd never met before), who had invited me, and showed me where to sit. The pastor's sermon sounded like he'd had spies falling me around for weeks and written it just for me. After church, the women had a baby shower for the youth minister's wife. I was invited! Whoa! This was my first time, and they were already including me!

I knew I didn't have to try out other churches. I think I went to one with a guy I was dating at the time, out of obligation. I already knew, though, that the Nazarene church was the place for me. It had nothing to do with the music, the doctrine, or anything else. It was the way the people made me feel. It was the way they accepted me for who I was and invited me to be a part of their family.

We went through a lot of changes there. A year or two after I started going there, our pastor retired. We had some visiting pastors, and then an interim pastor. Finally we got a permanent pastor (or so we thought) and felt like we were moving forward again. My best friend and roommate, Michele and I got heavily involved in ministry and built strong friendships in the church. That pastor changed the name of the church, made a few other changes, then left our church after a short time. It was about a year, I think.

Finally, a young (early thirties?) pastor from Washington came to interview with our church. He had all kinds of fresh ideas for making our church relevant in our community. He was a little geeky and really into audio and video. His wife was sweet and authentic. She didn't put on your typical "pastor's wife" heirs. His daughters were (still are) adorable! Yes! Yes! Yes! This is the one!

Things kept humming along. In 2005, pastor Ron gave me the job of outreach coordinator. That title didn't come with much of a description and nothing in the way of a budget. I knew I was in charge of training and scheduling the greeting team. I knew I was responsible for coordinating and planning a few well executed large events per year. That translated to a concert on our football field behind the church, and an annual Superbowl party.

Pastor Ron gave me the number of a guy named Kevin to call for help planning the concert. More on that to come in tomorrow's post. Spoiler alert: that guy is now my husband! With a lot of help from people in the church, the first Superbowl party was a huge success. Over the years, it actually got so big, we had to put it on hold a while until we could some things in place, such as child care, to deal with the large volume of people showing up to watch the big game on our larger than life screen.

Forgive me for getting a little off track while I reminisce a bit. I just want you to understand that church was a big part of my life. It wasn't about religion, either. It was about the relationships.

I knew it would be a challenge to find a church for our family when we moved to Texas. I had been warned that churches in the "bible belt" were considerably old fashioned compared to the casual worship atmosphere we were used to.  We waited a week or two to get settled in before we tackled the task of finding our church home here.

The first one was so big, no one even knew we were new. We weren't greeted, or shown where to go. Even dropping the girls off at kid's church was a very cold experience. In the end, we brought them with us to grown-up church. They all start to blend together after that. We did attend the Nazarene church here one week. While the people were super friendly and welcoming, it just still didn't feel like "home" to us. We decided to come back if we just couldn't find anything else. We attended another church that currently meets in a high school. That one was a little better as far as being more contemporary, but not so much on the friendliness side.  It was ok, but it still didn't feel like "the one." Another church we attended was borderline scary, and we ended up walking out halfway through the service. Note to self: be very wary of "non-denominational," that can mean ANYTHING.

I was getting really discouraged. I began to question my motives and what I was looking for. I mean, it's not supposed to be about how I feel, right? It's supposed to be about worshiping God, studying God's word, and serving, right? Yes, it's about all of that. I can even do all of that from the comfort of my home. But there's one big problem with that. We were made for relationships.

This past Sunday, we attended another church. I had found the website for this one before we ever left home and thought it looked promising. I had forgotten about it though until Saturday. It really looked like a casual, comfortable place for people to come meet Jesus. A little burned out and skeptical from our previous experiences, we got up early, went to breakfast, then went to the church early. After the walk-out experience, we wanted to check things out before checking our daughter in to kids' church.

The minute we walked in the door, we recognized the music the worship team was practicing. It sounded just like the music at our church back home! A couple of ladies greeted us, asked if we were new. One offered to show me to kids' church. Kevin did his usual thing and went inside the sanctuary to check things out and strike up conversation with the sound guys. He gleans a lot of important information this way.

It turns out the gal giving me the tour was the children's ministry pastor's wife. She was very genuine with me, asking questions and listening. There was one question she hadn't quite caught the answer to, so she admitted that and asked me again. Part of our conversation made it clear, without either of us coming out and saying what was wrong with it, that this church was NOT like the walk-out church. Their names were slightly similar, but no, they are very different. I could tell the pastor's wife was picking up on exactly what had bothered us about the other church.

We think this is "the one." We'll be back again and may even get plugged in to the Wednesday night dinners and monthly connect groups. We're taking it one day at a time. Relationships take time, after all! I am cautiously optimistic that we have found our church home!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday's Blogs of the Week Recap

Instead of just writing about me, myself, and I (and my family) all the time, I thought I would use this space to share some posts I read this week that spoke to me. Maybe one made me laugh (not hard to do), or got me thinking differently about something. Perhaps it inspired me. Whatever it was, these posts made me want them to share!


Because I Said So, And Other Hard and Fast Rules to Live By: I'm totally with Celeste on the book-before-movie thing. I broke that rule reading The Help. I wasn't quite finished with the book when the ladies got together at church to watch it. I thought I'd go back and finish it, but really, what's the point after watching it? NEVER AGAIN!

We Are Not Our Mothers, and Our Daughters Are Not Us   This one hit home in so many ways! Thanks, Meredith, for keepin' it real!

30 Day Squat Challenge I have started previous challenges with Jennifer before. I don't always usually make it through the entire month, but I've done more push-ups, planks, and crunches than I would have otherwise. Might as well add squats to the list!

Dear Me, a Letter to My Beginning Blogging Self This is from the ladies at Texas Women Bloggers. I probably need to re-read it weekly! Looks like I've already broken one of the cardinal rules by creating all my blogs on blogger. My sister has graciously volunteered to help me fix that. She's been sharing her mad couponing skills over at Coupon Curator.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding Treats I think the title speaks for itself as to how it landed here!

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup Comfort food!

I hope you enjoy these gems as much as I did! Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Bucket List Stuff

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Ever since I was a little girl, probably my daughter's age (almost 5), I have loved to read. Not long after that, my love for writing was born. It didn't matter what I was reading or writing. I could be reading the back of the cereal box during breakfast, or the shampoo bottle in the bathroom. The feeling of my eyes rolling over letters, words, sentences...was all I needed.

As for writing, I found the feeling of putting pen to paper very soothing. As the years went by and life became more computerized I found myself writing less and less and my handwriting deteriorating. This cartoon from The Oatmeal sums it up for me.

English was always my favorite subject in school. OK, English and Science. A lot if it has to do with awesome teachers. One in particular comes to mind. I had her for 7th and 8th grade Enlish, Yearbook, and Journalism.

Naturally, with this love of the written word comes a deep desire to write a book or novel. The problem was, I didn't really know what to write about. That all changed in November of 2011 when I received a jury summons. I was sure I would just call in on Friday afternoon and get the message they don't need me. That's what has happened to me all but twice previously.

In a way, at that time, I was kind of HOPING I'd actually have to serve. Work was incredibly stressful and a forced day off, even at the court house, was sounding pretty good. I could just sit in the jury room and read a book all day, right? That's not exactly how went down. Not even on day one when you're waiting to see if you get called.

My book reading was curtailed by recognizing a gal from work who I hadn't seen in years due to telecommuting. I was happy to see her and we had a very nice chat. We both had loved ones who had suffered with cancer. Our talk was very theraputic for both of us.

At the end of the day, her group got sent home, but my group had to come back. The rest, as they say, is history. What I learned in that court room rocked that world. My naiive, ignorant, head in the sands perspective of my world and the small town I lived in came undone. I mean, it got blown completely apart.

Maybe I watch too much CSI and Law & Order, but the trial process was nothing like I expected. For one major thing, I expected some amount of actual, physical evidence. Nope. We didn't even get to read the autopsy report. We, the jurors, were expected to deliberate based on testimony of some pretty shady characters.

The whole experience had such a profound impact on my life, that I immediatly wanted to write about it. Of course, I had to wait 90 days. At the time I thought that was the perfect amount of time to get it written and publish on Kindle on day 91. Suffice to say, that didn't exactly happen. Life really got in the way. That's what happens when you work from home, have a young child, husband, AND a mentally disabled man you take care of. Not to mention stressful, sometimes impossible deadlines at work. Add to that working a part time business and teaching Zumba two days a week!

Now the mental patient is gone. His condition worsened and we could no longer care for him. He's now a ward of the county public guardian's office. I've moved two time zones away, I only have one job, no Zumba or hair salon, and no friends nearby. My excuses for not getting my story written are gone. I try to tangle myself up as to whether I should just write my story, or if I should turn it into a work of fiction about the seedy cast of characters and use my imagination to fill in the blanks.

What I'm thinking about doing is writing my story first, then the fiction piece. I would release the fiction, "based on a true story," first and release my own story later.

Why would I blog about this now? Two years later? To begin with, my bucket list is hot on my mind right now, what with my Belt Buckles, Blue Jeans, and Bucket List post and all. Plus, I discovered that NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) begins today. What a cool way to get this thing done! It may or may not get completed, especially with the holidays heating up. I figure at least it will move me forward, getting me closer to my goal than I'd be at the end of the month if I didn't sign up.

As is my usual M.O. to bite off more than I can chew, I also noticed it's also NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month), in which participating bloggers commit to blogging SOMETHING every day.I'm already writing anyway, what's a few more words, right?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Belt Buckles, Blue Jeans, and my Bucket List!!!

I have been a major George Strait fan since my high school. I remember the first time my high school sweet heart played "The Chair" for me. I swooned! I was hooked! Shortly after that I joined the George Strait Fan Club so I could get priority seating at his concerts. Back then, fan club members got to buy tickets early, but you had to buy them from the box office at the venue the day they went on sale. I took off work to stand in line and get my tickets!  I remember having 6th row seats one year and 2nd row another!

During that phase of my life, I loved to wear Roper jeans, Ariat boots, and whatever cute top I could find. I had a pretty awesome belt buckle (I think I still have it!), too. One year, Mom bought us each a George Straight jacket at the concert. I still have that too! Mom and Dad also got me a life size cardboard version of George for my birthday one year. They stood him up in the corner of my bathroom. It startled the bajeebies outta me when I went to brush my teeth that morning!.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided I would raise her right and make sure she had a firm appreciation for George Strait. I put on my mental bucket list that I wanted to go to a George Strait concert with her and my mom someday. I figured he'd still be touring by the time she was old enough to appreciate it, around age 8 or 10.

His final tour is happening right now! The second leg of the tour begins in January, 2014, and ends at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium later in the year, date to be determined. I'm sure the date is determined, but just not released to the public yet. These things take LOTS of planning and I'm sure the date was set a LONGGGG time ago.

Fast forward several years...

A couple of Fridays ago I had a surprise on my pay check. A BIG surprise. The amount was like two and a half times what I normally make! Obviously there was some kind of error, so I went about researching the issue. It turns out it was not an error at all. Since I had moved from California to Texas, the company cashed out ALL of my paid time off!

At first I was somewhat upset about it. I had plans for the bucket of days off I had accumulated! I needed time to sew my daughter's Halloween costume, time to prepare for Christmas, and possibly time to move into our forever home. That all came to a screeching halt as I would not have the hours banked to take the time.

Right as I'm stewing about my PTO mess, my friend emails me with a screen shot of the George Strait Cowboy Rides Again Tour logo. The subject line read "Got $600?" It turns out, our company's annual Employee Giving Campaign has an auction. People donate items to it. Employees bid on things and the proceeds go to charity.

There were EIGHT minutes left when Rob sent me the email. By the time I went to the website, there were four minutes left. I tried to bid, but it said I had to register, which meant I needed a credit card. Hubby was out doing errands, so I called him and tried to explain the situation all auctioneer style what was going on. He told me where to find the plastic and I feverishly typed in my bid, right under the wire.

Guess what? I WON! I WON! I WON!!!

My heart was beating so fast! I was sweating! I wanted to CRY! I was shocked and stunned and so happy! What a ride! From the emotional roller coaster of anger (thinking my company had botched my check), to frustration (realizing they hadn't and I no longer had any vacation days left), to the suspense of the auction, to pure elation over winning!

I am hoping my mom will be able to make the trip out here for the show, but we'll have to wait and see.

Do you have a bucket list? What's on it? I would love to know!

Texas Women Bloggers

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tea + Nirvana = Teavana!

Thanks to Teavana, my love of tea has been renewed!

Hubs, our girl child, and I ventured out toward Austin, Texas this past weekend. We went to the famous Salt Lick BBQ for lunch (YUM!), then went to the mall to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. While we waited for the movie to start, we walked around the mall to check things out.

This mall was much different from the one back in Chico, California! It was more like what I am used to seeing in San Jose, California with some upscale shops (Vera Bradley, The Art of Shaving, to name a few) interspersed with the standards (The Gap, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works).

As we turned one corner, hubs was hoping I wouldn't notice TEAVANA! They were sampling at the door! Of COURSE I had to stop! There was kind of a clog at the front of the store, where the samples were happening, so I squeezed by the people there and let myself into the store to check everything else out. To my tea-lovin' delight, there were lots more samples! A gal greeted me and started to take me around to each of the 8 or 10 sample stations, describing each of the teas to me and asking how I liked them.

My most very-favorite was a blend of Strawberry Rose Champagne & Peach. They had added some rock sugar to it as well, which enhanced the natural flavors rather than overpowered them.

I installed the Teavana app on my phone right away and quickly started creating blends I thought sounded ah-mazing! I also got signed up on their email list, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...yeah, I'm kindda obsessed! I can't wait to try the Pumpkin Spice Brulee. I mean, c'mon! That has happiness written all over it, right?

Do you enjoy tea? What's your favorite kind of tea to drink?

A Confident Heart - Online Bible Study

I have no idea how I stumbled upon the Online Bible Study (OBS) for A Confident Heart, by Renee Swope, but I'm so glad that I did! It is an online bible study with connection points such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. I like the fact I can do the study in my own time, but still be connected with others who are also participating in the study.

I am an Excited Newbie. This is my first OBS. Today's blog hop poses three questions:

1. Is this your first study?

 Yes. This is my first Online Bible Study. I have the book for the next study already. I downloaded it a couple of years ago and am looking forward to reading it, studying it, and absorbing it, along with other women.

2. Why did you sign up? 

In many ares of my life, confidence is not an issue. I can stand up in front of a group of people and talk without being nervous. I was a corporate trainer for 5 years, attended Toastmasters, and gave the weekly greeting at my church back in California every week. I also teach Zumba (funny story about a "confidence" eye opener later, watch for a new blog post soon).

Sometimes I doubt myself as a wife and mom. I also look back at so many failures in home based businesses and wonder if I really can make it. When I say make it, I mean replace my corporate income and then some.

Having just moved across the country and not having any friends here, I am excited to make some kind of human connection, even if it is virtual!

3. What do you hope to gain during our study?

I believe my mission is to help people (including myself), be the best they can be, inside and out. I hope this study will give me the tools I need to give myself that extra nudge of confidence, as well as share what I learn with confidence. 

By the way: It's not too late to join! 

The study officially begins this Sunday, October 13. All you need is the A Confident Heart book, a journal & pen, and a Bible! I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Mama Always Says, "It Pays to Hint!"

It’s true. My mom always says that whenever I open a gift from her that is exactly what I wanted. I may have even forgotten I wanted it. But, she was paying attention and heard me say I liked it. She always smirks a little and says, “It pays to hint!”

Well, all these years later and mom’s words of wisdom may have paid off! Last Thursday, I took my daughter to her ballet class. While she was doing her thing, I went into the little shop full of cute leotards and tutus. As I was paying for the tights I bought for my little ballerina, I asked, “You guys have adult Zumba classes here, don’t you?”

“Not anymore,” the gal at the register replied.

And there’s my opportunity! “Oh! I just moved here from California. I’m a newly licensed instructor. I was teaching back there. I’d love to find a good Zumba class!”

She walked right into my web, “Oh, really!? Well, here, (hands me a pen and paper), write down your name and number. I’ll give it to the owner (of the dance school). She’s been thinking about bringing it back.”

That was a week ago. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m not giving up. Even if this doesn’t pan out, I’ll keep looking for a place in town to share my love of Zumba!

Friday, September 20, 2013

How I Measure Success Along My Fitness Journey

I can finally take a breath and share what I consider to be something very awesome and very relevant to this page!

Before I moved out to Texas, my BFF & I went out for one last hurrah. Hubs rented us a limo and away we went. I'll spare you the silly details, cuz our craziness just doesn't make much sense if you don't share a brain like we do...and it's really not relevant to the point I'm trying to make.

The cool thing is, the next day I was looking at pics, reliving the experience. I was laughing about the silly, nonsensical things we had done. Later, it hit me. This photo review was the first time since I can remember (if I were to guess, I'd say my veryyyy early 20s) that I looked at pics of myself and smiled. Not just because of the memories with my friend, but I wasn't repulsed by the way I looked. I didn't see my own image and think, "Yuck," and just flip through as quickly as possible to get it over with.

Later, I pondered this and bounced off of said BFF and the hubs...was this reaction due to changes on the outside, or the inside of me? I believe it's a little bit of both.

I share this story to help remind us all to gauge our progress by realizations such as this...not so much by the numbers on the scale or the tag in our jeans. It helps to see movement there, but I believe there are much more valuable measuring sticks in our lives of how we're doing.

Stay beautiful, my friends!

a mom blog community!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Consolidating Blogs!

I have started several blogs because I am interested in various things. The problem is, it's hard to keep up with all of them! I like to write about all of the things in my life such as beauty, health & wellness, books, crafts, and family stuff.

I made the mistake of creating a blog with my name and the name of the salon where I was working in Chico, California. Now that I live in Texas, that doesn't really make sense any more. So, here I am...blogging about everything I feel like in one, convenient location.

Watch for recipes, book reviews, thoughts on current events, crafty ideas, and more!

 Ignore this: