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Thursday, February 28, 2008

sticking to NOT splurging

Read this blog post about breaking the "purge and splurge" cycle once and for all. While it addresses financial matters, it could easily be applied to other matters as well--diet, attitude, and so on.

I hope, what I demonstrate through this blog--at least some of the time--is that splurging doesn't have to involve dollars and cents. It doesn't even have to involve calories and consumption.

Splurging can be taking a little extra TIME to do something that you don't otherwise take the time to do, like:
  • Read
  • Exercise
  • Call a friend
  • Make a new one
  • Write a letter
  • Get cozy (Ava's favorite thing to do lately)
  • Bake cookies
  • Daydream
  • Write your life
  • Pray
  • Smile
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Splurge of the Moment

Spending lots of time underneath things with the little one--like desks, tables, tunnels made out of blankets, sofa cushions, you name it, as long as it requires a flashlight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

still leaping

Tonight I sent a sketch for a new journal product (I know, as if there aren't enough journals in the world) to this incredible designer.

This was a huge leap for me--so huge that it would've been way more comfortable to just stand still. But I know that if I did stand still, I would regret it.

Stay tuned.

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Almost Splurge

I always make dinner during the week. Saturday night is our eat-someone-else's-food-in night. But tonight, Tuesday, I did not feel like cooking. I just could not muster up the creativity or energy required.

So Pete suggested take-out and I approved.

Except then I got this little voice in my head that says, "If you start eating out on Tuesday nights you might start eating out every night."

So, I rescinded approval and we ate soup.

The next leap will be that little voice, overboard.

Monday, February 25, 2008

little leaps

I haven't said much about it lately, but I'm still doing yoga. I'm mentioning it now because it is relevant to one of today's little leaps.

I've gotten pretty comfortable in my yoga class. (Comfort, by the way, does not come close to conquer). Meaning, I am familiar with the poses and have a sense when I'm close to looking somewhat like I'm supposed to look and when I'm, well, not. There's one transition from pose to pose when you can either walk or jump your feet behind you (think squatting to push up). Well, I've been jumping for some time now, but never in a fluid motion because for me, trying to make something look fluid inevitably looks foolish.

Today, in one big exhale, I did it. I can't say that it looked fluid, but it felt fluid. It felt good.

Leap #1.

Leap #2 is something I've been wanting and meaning to do for some time: find and join a fiction writer's group. I had a little inspiration from a family member in Chicago who joined one and pointed me in a direction where I might find one in Baltimore. I found the email address yesterday and wrote the woman, Ally, today. (Of course, the class is full so I'm on a waiting list, but it's progress).

Leap #2

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I'd love to hear some of the leaps you've taken, are taking, or are preparing to take.

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Splurge-Award Goes To...

The spoonfuls of natural peanut butter and creamed honey concoction that I've worn a path from my desk to the fridge to eat for the last two days.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Leap of Faith

Lately, I've been hearing or thinking about "leap of faith" A LOT. It occurred to me last night that we are also getting ready to experience something that only comes around every four years: leap year.

So I'm getting the message that a leap of some sort is in order.

Although I am much better at letting go of outcomes than I used to be, that is the area where I really need to focus my faith. To me, taking a leap of faith is not an excuse to abandon effort, but I have a difficult time knowing when effort starts to interfere with faith (you know, in attempt to possibly (?) control the outcome). If that makes sense.

Sometimes, leaps of faith are more concrete, other times more obscure. Their outcomes are never predictable--but God promises they will be purposeful.

For example, a couple of years ago I was offered a job shortly after I miscarried that would be a slight departure from my 'career trajectory' (whatever that is). I didn't have any reason to take the job, but I didn't have any reason not to take it either. I just felt like I needed something fresh and different. I prayed on it, I ran on it, I prayed on it a bit more and took it.

A month later, I learned I was pregnant again.

I obviously didn't know it at the time, but the leap I took in accepting that job wasn't about career enhancement, it was about miracle tending. In that new job, I had a boss who gave me the world when it came to maternity leave. I was able to stay home with Ava for the first four months of her life while still contributing to the work of the organization remotely. I am confident that the nature of my previous job would not have afforded me that kind of flexibility.

I returned to work for five months (with Fridays at home) before taking another leap of faith. I started my own business. My leap-of-faith employer is now my largest client.

Taking that job wasn't a departure on my 'career trajectory' whatsoever. It was a departure from what I thought was my career trajectory. Fortunately, someone else knew better--and fortunately I had the presence of faith to listen.

One of my 2008 goal categories is "Just Jump." There are some concrete leaps of faith that I must take; but for these remaining days in February and for the rest of this leap year, I'm going to put those leaps in motion and make room everyday for 'little leaps' --being mindful to not let effort interfere.

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Obvious, concrete, obscure, or otherwise, a leap of faith is wrapped in acceptance that you are exactly where you are supposed to be--at any given second, minute, hour, or day.

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Saturday Splurge

A glass of wine at 2 pm yesterday afternoon. Ahhh. Pete and I found a $10-$12 bottle that we really, really like. I might've splurged about it before, but I can't get over the quality for the price!

To bring the stars further into alignment, I just read the back of the bottle, "Named for St. Thomas Aquinas, a revolutionary scholar in the 13th century who used the laws of science to support his belief in the existence of the Almighty."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Old things New

Last night Ava referred to me as "the mommy."

Then Pete reminded me of the Dinosaurs, a show that was on when we were growing up. The baby called his daddy, "not the momma."

Time and experience sure have a way of making old things new again. Even dinosaurs.

Song Splurge

I ordered a CD and it arrived today. Ava loves it, too. Listen to track #1, All I Want Is You." She can't get enough of the "sea song".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sing a Song

A certain little one I know has been putting everything to music--and requires that everyone around her do the same.

So, we sing about brushing our teeth, sitting on the potty, eating our oatmeal, and driving the car. Today she asked me to sing the "puter song" (that is, computer song) and a bit later requested the "slide song." Keep in mind that most of these songs are written on demand--and the lyrics and the tune change from the first cut to the 20th cut.

Still, it makes both of us laugh, even in the dead of February. Having felt a little under the weather myself lately, I'm convinced that this live-by-song has given me new perspective and new motivation--two things that my 22-month old seems to provide every other minute.

So, what are you waiting for? Get singing! Here's the little one, modeling live-by-song (note, you have to hit the play button on the screen, and then again down in the left hand corner of the square):

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video

The first song that we wrote was a couple of months ago but haven't sung it in sometime. It's called "the boys" song, after the four brothers (ages 5-12) who live across the street. Ava just adores them and they're pretty sweet on her too.

After dinner but before bath time tonight, she broke out in "the boys" song. It's a little on the long side, but well worth the wait.

video

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LobotoME is sponsoring a super-sized giveaway in honor of our mutual favorite movie of late, Juno. Get over to her blog and leave a message for a chance to win!

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Happy Happy Birthday to my little brother, Mike and our friend Andy!

Splurge-story

Still no purchases to report (but I'd be THRILLED to post your splurges). I didn't end up making brownies tonight, so I'm going to cheat and count that one for tonight's splurge, too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sorts and Sights

Just in case you were looking for something to do on a Monday afternoon...I've got just the thing.

Pete didn't have to work today in honor of President's Day. So while Ava laid down her sweet head for a nap this afternoon, I hit the computer to work and he hit the pantry to organize.

I know, I know, I know: unusual, incredible, fortunate, blessed, unheard of, lucky, and on and on. I know--and believe me, I try to make sure that I convey "I know" every day (okay, every other day).

I wish I had known what he was up to, because I would've taken a "before" picture, which would've been a little scary (not a lot scary, just a little). I did take an after for you to see.

Here's what he did:

1. Took everything out of the pantry


2. Categorized and inventoried the items and listed every single one according to category (see categories and sample items at link)



3. Discarded things that expired (or that we would just never use)

4. Put them back into the pantry according to category



He said that tonight he's going to make labels so that I always know where things go.

(A sweet gesture on the surface, but what he really means is, "so that this four-hour effort isn't a lost effort by next week).

This kind of endeavor (and trust me, I am NOT complaining) doesn't come without some well-earned capital. And he isn't wasting any time spending it. Some of the comments that I've already heard (a mere one hour since he finished):

  • You aren't to buy one more tea until the box of 60 is whittled down to four.
  • Are you just curious to see how many different bottles of vinegar you can find and fit into a cupboard or do you really think you'll use them?
It's okay though, I'll take it. Having a fresh, clean, and organized pantry feels a little like having a brand new wardrobe (funny how your expectations and simple pleasures change over the years). With all of my "goods" categorized, dinner planning and preparation will be much more efficient--and economical!

I told him I was going to add his skills as a new "service" under my business. So, any takers?

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Some pictures of the little one...who needs no organization, whatsoever:



Brownie-splurge:

Among the newfound items was a box of Betty Crocker's brownie mix. The chewy kind. Since it expires this month, I figured I'd better get busy!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogger

If you're anything like me, technology and all that it affords is just one big black hole: you're not sure what goes into it and you have know idea what can come out of it.

Well, I am here to tell you that if you are at all interested in tinkering around in blog land, it's seriously simple. Google (big surprise) makes it very easy to set up and maintain a blog. Just visit www.blogger.com and follow the ultra-intuitive prompts.

You can keep it private or you can share it with the world. I had planned to keep mine private...

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Weekend Splurging

Lots of splurges to report:

1. A GREAT movie on Friday night. I mean TERRIFIC. If you don't know what it's about, don't find out (I had no idea). Just go.

2. Mexican food afterwards.

3. A new 8-inch skillet with my 20 percent off coupon to Bed, Bath, and Beyond

4. A carrot raisin muffin for breakfast from our new coffee shop

5. A swim at the pool later today with the little one and the big guy

Friday, February 15, 2008

A February Friday

Today Ava and I celebrated her friend Jacob's 2nd birthday at Port Discovery in Baltimore. She didn't even want a story at nap time, just her bed and her blanket.

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I'm not sure where she picked this up, but lately she's been adding "ey's" on to her words, "foodey," "housey," "milkey."

Strangey.

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Does February feel like the longest shortest month to anyone else? Time sure doesn't need any help moving along (and trust me, I'd slow it down if I could) but February seems to be dawdling this year. To spice it up a bit, I jumped at the invite to meet up with some girlfriends for a movie tonight. At the movies. Normally, I look forward to Friday nights with Pete and Ava (doing pretty much the same thing we do Monday through Thursday night, but with that, "It's Friday night" feeling). But I think this little night out will be good for all of us.

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Splurge-not:

I am strictly adhering to my no spending policy. I have only been to the grocery store once this week (I LOVE the grocery store) and I haven't tempted myself with one "oooh this book looks so good!" this week. Pete and I have had a weekly cash allowance since we've been married ($60/week) and so instead of the special coffees and little shirts for Ava, I've been using it to pay for things that I would normally justify as "chargeable" expenses: parking, extra groceries, coffee beans, etc...plus adding more to the poor box at church. So far, so good! And who would've guessed how great it would feel to have a LOW credit card bill at the end of the month and being giving more to people who probably need it, well, more!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Real Talent

Oh my gosh.

If you want to laugh (hard) you must read my incredibly talented brother's column in tonight's paper.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

And Happy Belated birthday to my friends Leah (2/6), Kristin (2/12)

We're playing toss and catch with some illness in our house, hope it's not the case where you are!

I'll be back in action soon. Keep checking back!

Monday, February 11, 2008

simply cozy

The doctor told me I had contracted the "flu's cousin" last week. So I was feeling down and a bit uninspired (my excuse for limited blog posts). Fortunately, Pete was spared and Ava seems to have walked away with congestion only. I say "only" but I'm sure she'd have a whole lot more to say about it seeing how a stuffy nose significantly complicates the thumb sucking process.

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Our local television station is airing a series on bed and breakfasts. I've never stayed at one, but I can't stop daydreaming about the one they profiled this morning, Pleasant Springs Farm Bed & Breakfast. Maybe Peg (the innkeeper) will let us move in.

I am just as attracted by the homemade breakfast made from Peg's chicken's eggs and the peach cobbler from her orchard's peaches (and yarn spun from her sheeps' wool!) as I am by her. In her short 2-minute interview on tv, she exhibited the kindness and peace of a cozy April morning.

I would sound cavalier and shallow to say, "I want to open a bed and breakfast"--understanding that it requires more skill, work, and talent than I have to muster. But I think what it is that I want, after thinking about this bed and breakfast all morning, is the simplicity it inspires.

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Splurge

Pete and Ava tackled the laundry and played some basketball while I slipped out to the bookstore. Not to read or to buy or to browse, but to write.

Oh, and I did splurge on some new watercolors for Ava. We should be busy at that today.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Little Splurges...

This article claims that "little splurges" (like the ones I indulge in and then write about every day) are the killers of our savings and debt-free efforts.

They follow it up with this "talk back" segment, asking people post their guilty splurges. And they do...18 pages worth!

Splurge of the Day

Are you kidding? After reading about how my splurges are compromising my ability to save for Ava's education, I am breaking up with splurging (for today). Besides, there are 18 pages of other people's splurges to read about...I'm sure they're much more interesting than what I'm buying at the grocery store, for crying out loud.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A New Candidate

My parents called today to see how we were doing. They live in New York and were getting ready to go vote in the primary election. They asked Ava who she was going to vote for and without hesitation she replied, "Santa Claus."

He'd be my pick, too.

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Super Splurge Tuesday

I picked up some Mint Hot Chocolate at Trader Joe's. I'm not feeling real well still, so I don't know that I'll splurge on it tonight, but I am comforted to know that I could if I wanted to.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A lot is in a name!

The stories that some of you have sent me (okay, my dad and my sister) regarding the history of your name, the application of it, the meaning of it...all demonstrate that there is so much more to a name than what it brings up on spell check... KEEP SENDING THEM! Or at least write down what you do know for your children, your someday children, grandchildren, friends, loves, whomever.

Just write it down.

(and send it along if you want to share it...and indicate if you'd rather I not publish it.)

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Here's the story of Ava France's name. We thought she was going to be a boy. Were convinced. So after I delivered her and the doctor announced she was a girl we had a little scrambling to do. We had discussed the names Julia and Ava at different points...but she felt immediately like an Ava and that's what we called her--without any discussion.

A couple of days after I was home from the hospital, I was reading an email from an old professor of mine (my favorite). Pete was in the kitchen doing something, dishes maybe, and listening to the Beatles. In his email, my professor was remarking on the name we had chosen and wrote, "Ava's a beautiful name--makes me think of birds, flight, spirit..." I read that line (I'm not kidding) at exactly the minute the "Free as a Bird" came through the speakers. It was a very distinct moment that I will not forget.

Ava definitely suits Ava if you think of her name the way my professor did. But if you want to know the truth, it's exactly what she provides for us, everyday.

Oh, and Frances is a family name on both sides: my grandmother's and mother's middle name; my grandfather's first name (though with an "i"); Pete's grandmother's sister's name.

So, in addition to Ava, we also call her, "Franny, Fanny, and Francey pants."

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I'm experiencing my first ever sinus cold and it isn't pleasant. I have newfound empathy for those who experience them regularly, which is a miserable thought. Nothing this uncomfortable should be regular.

I took Sudafed "nighttime", and while it helped to clear my head from sinus stuff, it made it race with other stuff.

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Super-Splurge-Sunday:

What a game! Yippeee. When I think of a Giants fan, I think of my husband Pete as a little boy, all decked out in his blue "56" Lawrence Taylor shirt and matching white football pants. I couldn't find the picture to enhance the visual of that image, but I'll keep looking.

Our friends hosted a kid-friendly superbowl party that included everything from macaroni and cheese, chili and cornbread, nachos and sour cream, and peanut butter chocolate bars. Splurges splurges everywhere!

Friday, February 1, 2008

What's In A Name

An encounter at the gym this morning as I was leaving had me thinking about my name (Maureen) all the way home. A name, by the way, I happen to like (and prefer to the names my parents WERE considering).

Over the years I have been surprised by the number of people who know my name when they see me. People who I swear I have never seen before. This morning, however, it occurred to me (finally) that they didn't know me either because they weren't saying, "Hi Maureen" they were saying, "Good morning." But when you're unsuspecting, not lip reading, and routinely going about your business, the two sound an awful lot alike.

Another thing about my name that I can't believe I am about to admit here...spell check always identifies it as incorrectly spelled. Do you know what the correction is?

Manure.

Have a good day. And make sure to see the new poll. Do you like your name?

Splurge:

Ava and I are going to stop over to the mall so that I can get some facial toner. (When I stopped in to pick up some lotion last week, the girl at the counter had a fit when I told her I didn't use toner. Apparently, it's like one of the most important things you can do for your skin. Funny though, the reason why I'm going back this week is because I had to save up enough money after my trip there last week when I nearly spent my life's savings on five other things that she said were the most important things you can do for your skin.) Any way, we're going to pick up facial toner and then ride the carousel. Does that sound like the perfect start to a weekend or what?