Keeping Thanksgiving Simple

keeping thanksgiving simple

I have an informal rule in my heart and in my household that we can’t celebrate or get all jazzed up about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. As I’ve gotten older Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. I love how simple and free of expectation Thanksgiving is. For my family, Thanksgiving is about spending time with together, giving thanks, and food-food-food. Every year I take delight in stuffing myself silly on turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, and dill pickles. Seriously, I eat an embarrassing amount of dill pickles.

Initially I was going to post about Christmas spending today, but when I sat down to write that post I felt like I was in violation of my rule. So, that post will have to wait until next week, and instead I’m going to tell you how I keep Thanksgiving simple.

We have simple expectations.

Our Thanksgiving Day is primarily about visiting with both sides of our family. Although the type-A in me tries to keep a strict schedule in order to give both sides equal time, it never really gets followed. We get off schedule, the kids get car naps, and we all get uncomfortably stuffed or sugar high. By the time we get home at night we’re pretty worthless. But, that’s part of the fun, right?!

We’re Thankful

Although I try to practice gratitude year round, it’s just easier around Thanksgiving. It’s the start of the holiday season and I feel all sorts of cozy and happy. It used to bother me that we would cram two dinners into one day, and then one day I caught myself complaining and realized I was complaining about so many people wanting to see us and feed us on one day. Since then my perspective has changed and I feel incredibly lucky that we get to spend Thanksgiving with both of our families.

We freeload off our parents.

You know they wouldn’t have it any other way! Rather than hosting Thanksgiving dinner, we are guests. This year we have two Thanksgiving dinners on our schedule. We’ll go to my parents for a Thanksgiving lunch and Matt’s parents for a Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing says simple like only being required to show up with a bottle of wine. Oh, and our kids. We bring them too, of course.

That’s our approach to a simple Thanksgiving, which I’m eagerly anticipating!

What about you? Do you enjoy or celebrate Thanksgiving? What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? 

A Day in the Life

I love “a day in the life” type posts and have been meaning to write my own for awhile now. Today is finally the day. Well, yesterday was, but you’re reading it today. You know what I mean!

5:50 am – I open one eye and see that it’s almost 6am. I suddenly realize that Brynn slept through the night! Awesome! I give myself a few more minutes to lay in bed and…

6:50 – What?! Its 6:50 and I’m spooning a pug. How did that happen?! Well the pug part happens all the time, but, whoops! I guess I fell asleep. I crawl out of bed and head straight to the bathroom to get ready before anyone else wakes up. I took a shower the night before, so my morning routine only consists of brushing my teeth, washing my face, moisturizing, and flat ironing my hair. I skip makeup 90% of the time. Today is no exception. 20 minutes and I’m done.

7:15 – I can hear Brynn talking in her crib, so I go scoop her up. She immediately pads down the hallway to the kitchen to request her morning banana. Every single morning she starts her day with a banana. I get her dressed while she eats. Then I let her wake Dad up. hehe

7:30 – Landon’s up. He slept late and he’s groggy, but in a good mood. He lets me dress him right away, so I let him play in his room while I get ready.

8:04 – We’re all dressed, bundled (it’s like 20-something degrees here today), and on our way to daycare. I don’t normally do drop off, but today I am. I do my best not to drive directly to work.

8:30 – I get to work and take the stairs seven flights to my office. Feel the burn.

This is the view from our kitchen at work. I make sure to take it in every single day I’m at work.

image

Hi Burlington! It’s prettier in person. You know how that goes!

8:30 – 4:30 – Work. Work. Work. What do I do at work? Lots! Today I’m preparing for an offsite conference which we are hosting almost 2 hours away.

image

Incredibly well organized and bland. This is where the genius happens.

 

Instead of giving you a play by play of my work day, here’s a fun list.

10 Interesting Things I Did at Work Today

  1. Finalized a catering order
  2. Assembled packets for our event
  3. General office shenanigans with my coworkers
  4. Drank 2 cups of tea
  5. Went on a quick BRISK morning walk
  6. Realized I’m saving more for retirement than I thought (long story, future post)
  7. Looked over my event logistics task list 100 times. Forgot something anyway, I’m sure.
  8. Printed name tags..twice…it was the printer!
  9. Considered joining LinkedIn. I’m still on the fence. Thoughts?
  10. Decided on my theme for our office decorating contest!

 

I’m a really fun and productive employee, hire me!

4:30 – I leave work and I’m off to get the kiddos.

5:15 – Everyone is home and happy.

6:00 – Dinner time. Fish sticks (YUP), rice, and broccoli. Since I’m not into plain white rice I make a sweet potato and eat the entire thing myself.

6:20 – 7:45 – Play time, pick up time,  laundry time, ice cream sandwich time. I clean out one of Brynn’s dresser drawers in an effort to declutter. Brynn pulls about 10 wipes out of a wipes container. Landon and I play “snowball fight” with them. Meanwhile, Brynn’s in the dining room hanging out with Dad.

8:00 – We get the kids ready for bed and I read “Firehouse” to Landon for the 86th time. Then, I put Brynn to bed while Matt puts Landon to bed.

8:30 – More laundry.

9:00 – I write this post! And, I research activity trackers. I want a really simple one, mainly just to track my steps.

10:00 – There’s about 20 things I could do, but I have to be on the road at 5:45 tomorrow morning so I’m going to bed!

If you made it to the end, I’m impressed! I’d love to read about a day in your life, so I encourage you to write a post like this. If you do, let me know so I can check it out!

The Work Ethic Experiment Results

work-ethic-results

On Monday, I shared that although I often feel busy, I don’t often feel like I’ve worked hard enough. I decided to pay extra attention to the effort I put into my work this week and share my results…or my thoughts…or whatever words fall out of my brain.

First of all, I received some really supportive and insightful comments that helped me put my situation into perspective. Thank you to everyone who weighed in!

Some points to consider:

  • You can be busy and or work hard, but not feel like you’ve accomplished anything.
  • Feeling like we’ve worked hard can correlate with how productive or focused we are, even if in smaller time frames.
  • Down time and rewarding ourselves are important, especially in avoiding burn out.
  • We all have our own best working hours in which we are more focused or productive.

And this one really struck a chord with me:

  • Just because we could always do more or even do better, it doesn’t mean we aren’t doing a good enough job or even our best job.

After taking the week to  assess my productivity levels, I discovered a few patterns:

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I work my tail off.
  • Thursday I crash
  • Friday I drink wine
  • My phone is a HUGE distraction when I’m working. Sometimes when I’m working on my laptop I use my phone to look things up. Every single time it brings me down a path of distraction. Every single time! So, from now on when I’m working I keep my phone in my bedroom.I think I have unrealistic expectations and I need to balance them out a bit.

Obviously, one week isn’t much time to evaluate my work habits, but it was good for me to talk it out and notice some patterns. Yesterday I took a workshop on effective time management and learned a few helpful things I’ll be sure to share next week.

Have a great weekend!

5 Things I Hate Spending Money On

5 Things I hate spending money on

In general, I’m not a huge fan of parting with money. Who is, right? While there are some items I don’t mind spending money on (high quality conditioner, organic black tea, and even takeout pizza occasionally) there are a few areas in which I’m irrationally cheap and I thought it would be fun to share those with you today. You’re welcome.

Electricity

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful for electricity. There’s nothing like a power outage that humbly reminds me how dependent I am on electricity. That being said, leaving lights on drives me crazy! I’m constantly running from room to room turning off lights that aren’t in use. It physically pains me to see a light on in a bedroom when we’re all at the table eating dinner. Even at work where I’m not responsible for the light bill, I’m frequently turning off the light in the copier room and secretly judging the previous occupant of the room for not turning the light off. I realize there are plenty of other ways to cut down on my electric bill, however for now being a light cop will suffice.

Greeting Cards

Buying a full price greeting card kills me. They are such a rip off! Before I discovered you could buy discount greeting cards at dollar stores, I would occasionally choose cards based on price. Isn’t that special? Gift giver of the year right here!

Checks

Who still pays with a check, right? Well, this girl does every Wednesday when the daycare payment is due. About a year ago, right after we moved to a new address I logged on to our credit union’s website to order new checks. I still had over 50 checks left, but thought I should update our address. Our credit union used to issue checks for free, so you can imagine my dismay when I realized they were no longer free. They were $12. Um, no. I kept on using the old checks until they were gone. I realize $12 is not that much money, but I was hung up on the principle.

Glassware

A few years ago I realized my glassware consisted mostly of freebie logo laden pint glasses. I resolved to buy a big kid fancy set once we moved. I spent a lot of time looking at glassware sets, but I couldn’t pull the trigger because nothing seemed like a good enough deal. That is, until the day I found a set of six blue mason jars at the Christmas Tree Shop for $9. Winner!

Clothing

This one is more of a love-hate relationship. I like clothes. I hate buying them. I rarely come across what I consider to be a good deal and I feel semi-tortured spending more than what I think is a good price. But, then I also find I have nothing to wear, so it’s a double edged sword. A few weeks ago I found a gorgeous Eddie Bauer running jacket at TJ Maxx. It would have been perfect for me since I’m planning to run outside through the month of November. Alas, it was $24.99 and I just couldn’t justify it. This is my life as a cheapo.

Okay, that’s my list. Now tell me…

What do you hate to spend money on?

The Work Ethic Experiment

work ethic

I spent a good part of this past weekend thinking about the correlation between working hard and achieving success. I also thought a lot about my own work ethic and the goals I’ve set for myself. To be honest, I don’t feel like I work as hard as I could. Don’t get me wrong; I’m busy! I’m constantly in motion, helping, cooking, fetching, folding, writing, playing. You get the idea. So, although I’m busy, I don’t always feel like I’m working to my maximum potential.

I bring all this up because I’m working on a goal to build side income so that I can work less at my 9-5. While I’m off to a good start, I don’t always feel like I’m doing as well or doing as much as I could to achieve success. Is this reality or am I just being too hard on myself? I’m not sure!

Experiment Time!

This week I’m going to be mindful of my effort level. I’m going to push myself a little bit harder and take note of the challenges I face. One thing I’m definitely going to do is wake up early at least once this week to get some blog work done. Usually my only free time is after 8:30pm and try as I might, I can barely form coherent sentences once 9:00pm rolls around. Case in point, I just wrote “I can barely form comprehensive sentences”. True story.  I know that I don’t give my blog and side business my best hours and I’d like to change that if I could. I’ll be sure to share the results of my experiment on Friday.

I’d like to know what you think! How can we tell when we’re giving our goals enough effort? Do you consider yourself a hard worker?

November Goals + October Side Hustle Income

November Goals

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

October Side Hustle Income $526.10

That’s what I’m talking about! However, let’s be real. That total reflects payments received in October (even from some work completed in September) and it is pretax. But, I’m very pleased with my side hustle income for October, because I worked pretty hard and it feels like it paid off.

How did I earn it? Glad you asked! My October side hustle comes from a combination of judging gymnastics, freelance writing, and VA tasks. Oh, and I sold something on Craigslist for $5, so I added that in the total as well.

If you need a dedicated, timely writer, who is gifted in word mash-ups or a VA who can create captivating ‘Pinnable’ blog post images, give me a shout!

November Goals

Moving on to November, which I have renamed New-vember and or Me-vember (see, told you I’m gifted in word mash-ups) because I feel like I need a little shake up. I’ve been plugging along at this goal to earn side income so that in turn, I could work a little bit less at my day job (4 days/week is the goal). While that remains my primary goal, I decided to make a few other goals for the month of November.

Fitness Goal

Run throughout the month of November. It’s going to be cold and it might even be snowy, but I’m going to run at least once per week throughout the entire month. It helps that I have a standing running date with my girl, Meghan every Tuesday. It also helps that I bought one of those fleece headband things to cover my ears!

No-spend Goal

This one is a long time coming. I’m breaking up with the cafeteria at work. It’s such a player, luring me in with locally sourced low cost food, and hypnotizing me with the most amazing white bean and chicken chili. Well, we’re on a break this month. Although I don’t spend a much, maybe $8/week, I’d rather funnel that money toward Christmas shopping.

Personal Goal

Overall I’m not feeling as bright and shiny as I’d like, so this month I’m going to make it a goal to practice gratitude every single day. In my head, on paper, and out loud.

Have you set any November goals? Please share! 

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween and Happy Friday!

Costume KidsPlaying in their costumes the night before Halloween

Tonight we’ll trick or treat in our neighborhood, and we might even make it all the way around the block this year! Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Are you/your kids/your pets dressing up for Halloween? If so, as what? What’s your favorite candy?! If I had to choose just one, I’d pick Take 5 (mental note, find a Take 5).

8 Reasons I Like My Job

8 reasons

It’s natural to feel a little bit blue about work on a Monday. Or, maybe you actually really love your job and you feel excited and energized on a Monday morning. Usually I fall right in the middle of this spectrum. While I don’t have complete job satisfaction, there are a number of things I like about my job that keep me coming back every Monday for more.

My coworkers

I’m fortunate to have some amazing coworker friends at work. This makes work a happier place to be. We do fun and silly things to keep our day bright. Lately we’ve been doing exercise blasts during the day. We find a really short workout on YouTube and do five minute cardio and strength blasts in our work attire. It’s hilarious. Maybe you have to be there.

Location

I live about 6 traffic dense miles from work. Regardless, it’s a pretty simple commute and it makes our preschool arrangement possible. So, for that I’m grateful!

Workspace

After three years and two crappy desk locations, I finally have a sweet office location with a window. It makes all the difference.

Benefits

Tuition remission for me and my children, generous retirement match, and lower cost health care premiums. This stuff is hard to walk away from.

Christmas Break

I get Christmas Eve through the New Year off paid. Every year this makes me ridiculously giddy.

Familiarity

I’m comfortable. I’m familiar. I don’t bring work home and I rarely stress. If I wasn’t growing my own side business with two small children at home, I might say this is a problem. But for now, it’s a blessing!

Flexibility

There is a lot of schedule flexibility. In fact this is why I want to reduce my hours. I can be as low as 75% FTE and still receive benefits.

Content Area

Fun fact: I have a Master’s degree in Health and Wellness. I don’t utilize my degree as much as I’d like, but I do work on projects in some of my favorite health-related content areas (breastfeeding being one). Working in a content area I care about is a nice bonus.

It’s Not Everything

My job is just a piece of the pie. It doesn’t define me, thank goodness! Even though  I don’t always feel successful in my career, I do feel accomplished in other areas of my life. I think if I put all my self-worth stock in my job, it’d be an ugly outcome. I’m still working on achieving career fulfillment. I know that I have a lot to offer and I believe I’ll find myself in my dream job one day. However, I think that in order to find what I’m looking for, I need to appreciate and enjoy what I have now.

Your turn! Tell me what you like about your job. Do you have career fulfillment? 

Mom Made a Mistake

All week I’ve been off by one day. Not with the day of the week, but the actual date. On Monday, for example, I was sure it was the 21st all day long. I’m sure this disorientation had something to do with the stupid mistake I made yesterday. Let’s talk about that!

Positive that my kids had a doctor’s appointment, I left work, picked them up at daycare, and shuttled them to their doctor’s office. Right as I was checking in, a vision of the appointment reminder card flashed before my eyes. October 23rd! Not today, October 22nd. Shit! The front desk confirmed my error. Their appointment was the next day.

I had to explain to my three year old that Mom made a mistake and our appointment wasn’t today. You see, he was going to the doctor to get his flu shot, so there was a good amount of anticipation on his part. I watched the relief spread across his face. Then he asked me if he still would get his post-shot treat. Naturally! I asked him what he had in mind and he said he wanted grapes. You got it kid! It was late afternoon at this point and not worth returning to work or daycare, so we headed home. For grapes!

What Happened?

I pride myself on being pretty organized and on top of my game. So what the heck happened? The appointment was in my calendar as October 23rd. The doctor’s office had sent me a reminder message, too! Not that I had double checked my calendar or read my messages. Organizational hubris at its best! Still, I was annoyed with myself about the oversight.

I have a friend who believes that when we start making careless errors it’s a sign that we need to slow down. Applying her theory to this situation makes complete sense as over the last few months I’ve done anything but slow down. In addition to working, I’m blogging, freelancing, and dream building, all while determined to remain a present Mom and wife with a clutter-free home. So yeah, are we shocked the cracks are beginning to show?

Teaching Opportunity

On the drive home Landon and I had a chat about mistakes. How everyone make mistakes, and how it’s okay. That the best thing we can do is take a deep breath, say sorry, move forward, and try not to do it again. Also, it was a reminder to myself to make the best of any given situation. I got to spend the afternoon with my kids, and we saw a fire truck and a cement mixer on our drive home. We had extra play time. We ate grapes!

What lessons do you try to glean from mistakes you’ve made? Have you made a careless error lately? Be a pal and share so I know I’m not alone!

The Perfect Side Hustle: Gymnastics Judging

The Perfect Side Hustle

I really enjoy reading about the different ways people earn side income. I have a few different side hustles, but the one I’ve been doing the longest and enjoy the most is judging gymnastics. For the last 14 years I’ve been earning a nice side income as a gymnastics judge, and I’m here today to tell you all about it!

I became a gymnastics judge in 2000. At the time I was volunteer coaching and had no clue why certain routines received certain scores. That’s when I decided to take a judging course. I spent an entire summer immersed in the rules of my favorite sport. At the end of the summer I passed my first judging exam and by fall I was judging meets. I haven’t stopped since and I consider it my perfect side hustle.

In honor of the “Perfect 10″ here are 10 reasons being a gymnastics judge a perfect side hustle.

1. I basically get paid to watch my favorite sport!

2. It’s a great way to stay involved in the sport and contribute to the gymnastics community.

3. The schedule is flexible. I choose the meets I wish to judge.

4. It’s a perfect amount of involvement. I’m not an over-worked stressed out gym owner or coach (although I did coach for 10 years!) It’s low stress. It’s fun! It’s also not year round. I typically judge September through April.

5. I’ve made amazing friends.

6. It pays well.

7. It’s opened up new opportunities. My experience as a judge has helped me get clinician and consulting jobs.

8. I like navy blue  (the color we’re required to wear).

9. I like using my knowledge for good. I enjoy giving coaches and gymnasts helpful advice and tips when asked.

10. It helps me get through Vermont winter! The winter is long here and it’s a fun indoor activity that helps the cold days pass a little quicker.

What is your perfect side hustle?

Have any gymnastics related questions?