I posted over here recently about my New Years goals - primarily in relation to health and fitness.  But I'd like to expound upon them here. 

I don't make New Years resolutions.  For me resolution has such a negative connotation.  When I resolve to do something, I feel like a failure the second I make a misstep.  If I don't get to the gym one day, I let myself down.  If I eat that piece of chocolate, I have broken my resolve.  Instead, I prefer to set goals.  I know there will be setbacks, but they are things that I want to work towards, things I hope to accomplish by years end.  So here are my top 10 goals for 2012.

1) Make an effort with my appearance. I will attempt to dress presentably and wear makeup at least 5 days a week. Ideally 6 days a week. I can wear yoga pants and sweatshirts if I'm really going to be doing a lot of cleaning or yard-work, but that's it. When I feel like I look good, I feel good about myself. And when I feel good about myself, it positively impacts every other part of my life.

2) I will work out every day even if I only do 20 situps. Usually, if I get a start, I want to keep going. It's motivating myself to get my tush out of my chair to do something that's the hard part. But if I tell myself I only have to do 20 situps or 5 minutes of running, then I'll be more likely to start. I can quit after my tiny goal. But odds are, I'll want to keep going.

3) Eat a healthy diet 5 days a week. I have a HUGE sweet tooth. And I love carbs. And in winter, telling myself I have to eat healthily is like telling myself I'm going to lace up some boots and climb Mt. Everest. I'm a lot more likely to eat fruits, veggies and grains 5 days a week if I know I can bake a pie on Saturday (or have a bagel for breakfast on Sunday - or whatever). To this end, I can't keep junk in the house. If there is chocolate, I will eat 9 pieces in an afternoon. If we have bread 'on hand,' I will eat toast all day. If I've got mac'n'cheese in the cupboard 'just in case we're snowed in,' I will make it for lunch the next day. I am a weak weak person and I can't keep junk in the house. Which means I'll have to plan my menus carefully. It means I need to have healthy 'in case of snow' meals in the freezer. It means I have to have lunch pre-made in the morning so I'm not seduced by the call of Panda Express when we're all ravenous after preschool. It's doable - I just have to make myself do it.

4) Get up at 6:30. My poor kids are suffering from my own laziness. I sleep in as late as possible in the morning, dawdle with getting out of bed, putter around with email and odds and ends and then get them up in a big fat rush because I keep trying to get them all fed and dressed and out the door in 20 minutes. So, I WILL get up at 6:30 every day. I don't have to work out. I don't have to shower. But I will do a devotional (what better way to get myself prepared for the day), quickly check my email and get myself dressed (nicely - with makeup) for the day and have breakfast started and clothes laid out before I get the kids up - hopefully by 7:30. If I can do that, we should cut down on a LOT of morning angst.

5) I will make quiet-hour shorter. Quiet hour lately has drawn out to quiet-two-hours (or more). Which is fine for the younger two who nap that long. And fine for Mommy who gets done a ton of blogging and cleaning and crafting and sleeping. But it's miserable for big brother who does not nap and, though he is ingenious in his creative use of such a long chunk of time in his room by himself with a box of toys, I know he misses Mommy. We used to spend naptime together reading books and playing. Then Mommy realized she was a nicer person if she got a SMALL break in the afternoon (and sibs slept better when big brother wasn't being loud) and we instituted quiet hour. And then Mommy realized how nice quiet hour was and it has gradually gotten out of hand. Therefore, I resolve to do what I must to make quiet hour stick closer to the hour-long mark. Nap first, errands second, clean third - the rest I'll have to fit in somewhere else.

6) To that end - Spend less time on the computer. I blog a LOT. Which is ok if I plan things out in advance and do as much of it as I can before getting up for the day. But I also enter all kinds of online giveaways, play around on Pinterest and generally waste tons of time on the internet. Time that I could be spending napping, cleaning, crafting and doing all those other things that make quiet hour so long. My plan is - leave the computer downstairs. That way, I can't work on it while I'm with the kids. They (and the house) get my undivided attention, and I'll have to learn to prioritize what I do on the computer during "my" time.

7) Keep a tidier, cleaner house. By bedtime, I'm pooped and don't want to clean. In the mornings, I'm in too much of a rush. And in the afternoons I know that anything I do will just be undone again by bedtime. So it never gets done. But I'm going to work toward both a) cleaning more with my newfound time that I won't be spending on the computer or frittering away at quiet hour, and by b) re-organizing the house to make it more efficient. If there's a spot that is always dirty or always covered in piles, it needs to be re-thought. And I can learn to multi-task. Clean the bathroom while the kids bathe, wipe down the kitchen while the kids eat breakfast, use vacuuming as a discipline tactic (my kids love to vacuum). There are lots of ways to keep this nest a little more nicely feathered - if I take the time to plan. Time that I'm hoping to gain back by being more efficient in all the above ways.

8) Seek counselingI don't like this one. I'm pretty embarrassed to have it on my list.  And I know that my husband is going to be even more convinced that I'm a hypochondriac nut.  But I really think I need to go see a therapist.  I've struggled with depression all my life (from mild bouts, to anorexia, to sobbing-on-the-bathroom-floor blues).  At first, I thought maybe I just had a hormone imbalance - but after extensive testing, all my bloodwork came back 'normal.' And while I'm not in the incapacitating funk I was in after my third baby (in three years) was born, I still find that I have a really hard time with my emotions.  I'm angry.  Like all the time.  Over really stupid things.  Some days I don't want to get out of bed because I don't have the energy to deal with the day (made so much worse in winter).  I just don't feel right, whatever the medical tests say.  So, I'm making it a goal to go talk to a professional.  Maybe there's a simple solution I'm overlooking.  I just need to stop being mortified, suck it up and go.

9) Spend more time outside. I've heard that sunshine (all that vitamin D!) is a great mood booster.  And goodness knows that a little running around outside is great for getting the ants out of my kids pants and making them calmer.  And, frankly, we've been having an amazingly mild winter for our area.  I have no excuse NOT to take the kids out for some playtime every afternoon.  It just might be that magic pill I've been waiting for.

10) Count my blessingsNo matter how I'm feeling any given day, expressing a little gratitude makes things so much better.  I'm trying very hard to stop several times a day to say a little prayer of thanks.  Especially for the things that are making me nuts.  "Thank You Lord that I have such energetic and creative kid to make all this mess."  "Thank You Lord that we eat so well it takes ages to do the dishes."  "Thank You Lord that we have a car that needs washing and gassing up and cleaning out."  "Thank You Lord that I have a husband who's home so often he has the opportunity to put things where I can't find them."  I have been blessed more abundantly than I can fathom, and I really need to open my eyes and see it more clearly.  Then maybe some of these things that make me so angry/blue/grumpy won't seem so important anymore. 

So that's what I'll be up to this year.  Anyone have any advice for me?  What goals are on your list?  Join me in linking up with
 
 
Yup - another swap.  This time I swapped over here at Sneakers Over Stilettos.  All the bloggy moms got paired off with other moms to send gifts to the bloggy babies.  What a fun swap!  Baby L's secret Santa was Marian and her daughter Sophia from over at My 2 Jobs.  And boy did baby L get spoiled!
She just loved her Dora pajamas and headed straight for them!
And this is a terrible picture, but aren't these hairbows (made by Marian herself) amazing!?  I tried to take pics of them in baby L's hair, but she's in the "tear them off and chew on them" stage.  Hoping we grow out of that soon - these are too cute!
And these toy keys are so awesome that she often has to wrestle them away from her big brothers just to get a turn.  (please excuse the dirty pjs - mama didn't open the package until after dinner...). 

A hearty thank you to Marian and Sophia.  Baby L loves her gifts!
 

Hot Lunch Link-Up

12/19/2011

 
I had great intentions for getting through the holidays healthily and without adding pounds.  So much for good intentions.  I haven't gained much weight, but my healthy eating has been totally out the window.  With family in town and constant celebrations I feel like I've been living on junk food and restaurant food.  A trip to Panda Express used to be a special treat, but is now becoming a weekly habit.  And despite my best efforts to carefully plan this week's menu - you guessed it - we hit the drive-through for lunch once again.  Why?  Because it's cold and rainy out there and I did not want cold yogurt and fruit in my belly.  But that's what was on the menu. 

So I'm enlisting all of you to help.  Other than cans of soup, I'm pretty stumped on what to fix for a quick, hot lunch.  Anything I can make ahead and quickly reheat, or anything that can be thrown together in a pan rapidly are ideal options for us, as we're usually rushing home from an activity just in time to scarf down some lunch and head for naps.  I really think that having a hot, hearty, healthy meal on the menu will help me cut down on my fast-food habit (I used to swear I would never be a mom who relied on take-out.  *sigh*). 

I've added a link-up below where you can link to your favorite recipes (yours or your favorite go-tos).  Or, you can leave a quick description in the comment section instead.  Thanks a million in advance - my wallet and my waist will be grateful!
 
 
I'm sure you are all aware by now that I am on a mission of beautification.  It is far too easy for me to let my home go.  I tend to settle for "good enough" or "not that bad" when what I really crave is "gorgeous."  For some things - clean walls, stainless carpet, everything in it's own place - I know I'll have to wait until my kids are older.  But just because I have kids in my house doesn't mean I can't decorate or make my house beautiful.  My major problem is simply apathy.  I don't feel like I'm 'good at' decorating, so I don't really try.  However, an undecorated house can feel a little depressing, especially around the holidays.

As you saw in my previous post, I'm making strides in my attempt to 'pretty up' my basement bedroom.  My husband has agreed to go purchase the mud and tape this weekend, so we are well on our way to making a cozy little nook for ourselves to relax.  I'm thrilled. 

One area of my home, however, which has always been neglected, is my front stoop.  I've never really given it much thought.  We tend to enter and exit the house through the garage, so I rarely even think about my front door.  But the other day I was shocked to realize the extent of my neglect when I noticed that my front porch still looked like this:
Note the cobwebs and the ancient, rotting pumpkins.  Meanwhile, most of my neighborhood looks like this:
source - for privacy purposes, this is merely an example, not my actual neighborhood
There is no way I could ever convince my husband to go all out and splurge on lights and inflatable Santas.  But I was thrilled to be accepted to the Daily Buzz Moms 9x9 challenge: Deck The Doors!  This gave me a great excuse to add a little holiday cheer to my sad little front stoop.  My goal - to make it kid-friendly and to do it on a budget!  So, I swept up the cobwebs, put on my thinking cap, and now my front porch looks like this!
I absolutely adore coming home to this door.  It's bright, it's cheerful, and it reminds me every day what this holiday is all about.  Another plus - it's kid proof!  The wreath hangs high enough that my toddlers can't reach it, and the vinyl angels don't come off easily enough for little ones to toss them out into the bushes.  I love it!   And it turned out to be really inexpensive to make?  Here's how:
The angels were really easy to assemble.  I used stencils that I found here to design them, then I cut them out of vinyl (that I ordered 60% off at Pick Your Plum) with an exacto knife.  Cute but removable - a major must for my minimalist husband.
I made the wreath at a Pinterest party months ago and had it sitting around just waiting for inspiration to strike.  I searched everywhere for the original tutorial, but simple couldn't find it.  However, if you look on Google or Pinterest you'll find a plethora of tutorials for very similar wreaths.  To spruce it up a little I added lace ornaments which I received as a wedding gift as well as some hand-sewn felt ornaments I had leftover from my etsy shop inventory.  The garland above was on super sale at Michaels and I thought it was incredibly pretty (and won't take up a ton of storage space post-holiday - another hubby must). 

I'm really pleased with how this project turned out, and now I don't feel like the Scrooge of the neighborhood anymore.  I am so grateful to DailyBuzz Moms 9x9 for giving me an excuse to add a little more beauty to my home.
 
 
Today I'm linking up with the Cold Hands Warm Hearts swap.  I got really into swapping this winter, obviously, but I couldn't be more thrilled.  I was paired up with SassyRae Expressions and oh wow did she send me a great package! Check it out:
Super cute warm mittens/gloves, amazing fuzzy socks (I've just been lamenting the demise of at least half of my fuzzy sock collection), a gorgeous picture frame, and a sweet little desk calendar that she made herself.  Oh yes, and a yummy Hershey kiss in the shape of a Santa hat - but clearly it didn't last long enough to photograph ;)

She also made these amazing gift tags for each of my surprises:
And the accessories have gone a LONG way toward helping me with my "pretty my room" project:
I really will get around to putting a photograph in that frame - promise.   If you want to check out more of her stuff (and you should, it totally makes my "stuff I love" list) you can find her at her blog and at her shop.  Thanks again, Megan!  Now I truly do have warm hands and a warm heart!
 
 
If you haven't signed on for this swap, but would still like to swap for something on my blog - feel free to contact me! 

Here are the things I'm offering up:

1) Clothes -
3 vintage flowered skirts, 2 J Crew skirts, 1 Old Navy puff vest, 1 frilly skirt
2 denim jackets (1 J Crew, 1 Gap), 1 grey sweater, 1 Bebe red shirt, 1 red chord shirt
I can send more detailed pictures of anything you'd like.  Willing to swap as a lot or individual items.  (all clothes are around size 4/6)

Also, various 3-9 month baby girl clothes, mostly summer dresses and onesies (ask me for pictures)

2) The following dvds:
The Shape Of Things
Fusion Pilates: Exercise with Baby
House of Flying Daggers
Top 10 Christian Music Video Hits
Jeeves and Wooster season one

3) I have two etsy shops.  Mimi Baby Boutique sells jewelry and Big Red Kite sells appliquéd items and prints.  Have a look around, I'm willing to trade just about anything in them.

4) 150x150 sponsor slots on this blog, a product review, a guest post or a giveaway slot.

What I'm Looking For:
1) Shoes in size 7-8.  Especially fun boots, funky heels or fun sandals.
2) Kids' clothes in sizes 3T and up (for boys and girls)
3) Ad space on blogs (for my shops or my blog, whatever works for you)
4) Design expertise.  I'd really like to tweak my blogs/buttons and could use some help.  I blog in Weebly and don't know the html well - looking to expand my margins, clean up my sidebar, and get some really professional looking buttons for both this blog and my shop blog. 
5) Felt in all colors (at least 8x10 sheets)
6) Whatever you have that you think I might really like.  I'm open to suggestions.  I don't really need a lot of "stuff" - but you never know, I might just say "Oh!  I've been searching for that!"

Thanks all!!
 
 
I got really into the whole 'swap' idea this fall.  I swapped baby items, hand made ornaments, and now accessories.  My swap partner was Chelsea over at Sunny With a Chance of Sprinkles.  She is just a doll and has a darling blog.  And here are the goodies that she sent me!
(This picture totally looked clear on my camera *sigh* - time to get a new one).  Aren't the bracelet and earrings adorable?  Thanks Chelsea!  If you'd like to get something similar, hop on over to Mama's Nest Designs - she's got lots of fabulous things in her little shop.  What a fun swap! 
 
 
Today I'm linking up with
to fill out another fun form.  Today's prompt:  I am _____

I am _____ right now:

I am - Relaxing.  Pretty sure I'm going to be in "vacation mode" until January. It's been a long year and I am loving the short weeks (hubby is taking every Monday off this last quarter) and all the festivities.  Sometimes you just need to let go and rest.

I wonder - How my daughter will react on her second Christmas - she's only 1 and is at the 'delighted with everything' stage - I foresee a LOT of cuteness.

I see - Time slipping by.   I just turned 29 and sometimes I wonder where the last 10 years went.  I still feel 19 - how did I get here?

I want - To live in contentment and use my life to serve others.  SOOO much easier said than done.  I have so much love to give and so many people I want to help, but I have NO idea where to start...

I pretend - That I have it all together - but if you've been following me at all, you know that I'm really one big mess :p  Everyone always says "just do the best that you can" - but how am I supposed to feel when I know that I'm probably not?

I worry -  That I'm not a good enough mother.  That I'm 'messing up' my kids and that by the time I'm rested and sane and 'together' enough to know how to deal with them, it'll be too late.  Or, I worry that I won't be around to worry about that at all. 

I cry - Over everything these days.  Seriously.  From stress, over stupid commercials, for other people's pain, because I'm happy, for no reason at all.  For someone who never used to cry, who was ashamed to cry, I sure get weepy these days.

I hope - That God will use me despite (or maybe because of) all my perceived shortcomings. 

I dream - Of being perfectly content.  Of days filled with sweet, snuggly, joyful moments with my children.  Of having a clean, tidy house with real furniture in it.  Of my blog and my shop taking off.  Of finally finding my 'cause' and then fighting for it with all my strength. 

I feel - Too much.  Seriously, I am almost entirely to the F side of the Meyers-Briggs spectrum - even the most stupid, mundane things effect me on a very emotional level (I was driving by a pretty, sunny field the other day and I just wanted to cry because it was so beautiful).  I want to get to know everyone I meet on a very deep level.  I care too much.  I feel too much.  But in some ways, it's a beautiful thing.
 
 
Linking up with Living In Yellow for this one.  We'll just call today "learn too much about Cat" day.  Right.  Here we go:

One
Before I was married, I didn't want any kids.  Once I got married, we had 3 kids in 3 years.  Woah.  But aren't they precious?
Two
I hate coffee.  But I like things that are coffee flavored.  And if I have any caffeine I am certifiably insane for a while, then crash and sleep for hours.  Not pretty.

Three
I had an eating disorder in college.  It did horrible things to my health, and I feel like a moron for letting it happen.  I'm hoping I'm better now.  This picture scares me.
Four
For most of my life I grew my hair to my waist then cut it to my shoulders (and donated to locks of love) in 4 year cycles.  Haven't done that since I had kids, though.

Five
I married the only guy I ever dated.  And I am so blessed to have him.
Six
I majored in drama in college and have barely ever used my degree.  Not a lot to do with it in my town.  I miss it a lot (here's me as Kate from Taming of The Shrew). 
Seven
I'm terrified of flying.  Like, sick to my stomach, want to cry every time I'm on a plane scared.  But I have seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life from a plane window. 
Eight
I have zero fashion sense.  90% of the clothes in my closet are hand-me-downs from my fashionable sister-in-law.  And I still can't figure out how to wear half of them.  

Nine
I would rather buy something for a super great deal than buy something with a super great brand name.  Function over fashion for sure. 

Ten
I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Eleven
I have a complex where I really want to be good at everything.  So I try to do way too many things and then fail at most of them.  Some day I'll figure it all out.

Twelve
My favorite authors include: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Harold Pinter and William Shakespeare.  My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird

Thirteen
My writing style tends to very closely reflect whomever I'm reading at the time.  My playwriting prof hated my Eugene O'Neill phase (he was much relieved when I moved on to Pinter). 

Fourteen
I'm embarrassed by how much I don't know about the Star Wars and Star Trek universes (and, really, all things geek). 

Fifteen
I own 18 shirts from shirt.woot.com.  And I'm probably not done.  It's a problem.

Sixteen
I wish I were athletic.  However, every time I work out, I blow out one joint or another.  I probably have the lungs of an 80 year old.  It's pathetic.

Seventeen
I love air-hockey and I'm actually pretty good at it.

Eighteen
I can't eat gluten, but I'm learning to cook without it - mostly successfully.
Nineteen
I am seriously technologically un-savvy.  I wish I were cool like that, but I don't own a smart-phone, I only use Linux because my husband set it up for me, I don't even know the names of the video game systems that are out right now, and I only might be able to tell you the difference between an i-pod, i-pad, and i-phone.  Some day I'm really going to embarrass my kids....

Twenty
My taste in music is really eclectic.  I listen to everything from Christian hip-hop to Johnny Cash.  I don't like some oldies, some country, and really really heavy metal.  But otherwise my tastes are all over the place.

Twenty One
I think flannel is one of the best inventions ever.  Flannel pajamas, flannel sheets (and in the '90s I was known to rock those flannel shirts).  Hello cozy. 

Twenty Two
My kids have their own fridge.  Yup - after the egg incident we swapped the big fridge for two minis.  One for them, one for us.  So far, it's working beautifully!
Twenty Three
I am definitely one of those ladies who will freak out when I turn 30.  Probably because I still feel 19.  Apparently, my dentist still thinks I am 19.  Funny stuff. 

Twenty Four
I went to an all-girl's high school.  I moved a week before starting school there.  In my entire high-school career I knew maybe a dozen boys my age.  And in the end, I call it a blessing. 

Twenty Five
When I started this blog, I promised myself I'd never write entries like this.  However, my brain is in vacation mode this week and I can't seem to get myself to do anything that isn't 'fun and frivolous' (I'm totally ignoring that stack of Christmas gifts I need to finish).  I hope you've had fun reading this
 
 
If you're a big Friends fan, like I am, you might remember the episode where Ross makes his "top 5" list.  i.e. top 5 celebrity crushes.  I have NO idea why I was thinking about it the other day, but I thought it would be fun to share my top 5, and have you all link up (or just comment) with yours.  I'm always amazed at the diverse grouping of people that my friends and I have liked, so it will be really interesting to see what you all come up with.  Today, I'm starting with top 5 actors (or actresses) and later on down the line I'll do musicians, etc. 

In order to make my list, a celebrity must be relatively attractive, a decent actor and not seem like a total weirdo in-real-life (sorry Thomas Dekker, you were so close).  So in no particular order, here we go:

1) Topher Grace
I'd like to say that I've been a fan since That 70s Show, but given my general ignorance of popular television, I first discovered him in Win A Date With Tad Hamilton - and I've been watching him ever since.  But I'm big on skinny guys with dreamy blue eyes (it's what I adore about my husband), so he makes the list :)

2) John Krasinski
Given the sheer number of Facebook fan pages such as Jim Halpert is The Perfect Man and I'm In Love With Jim Halpert, I can assume that I'm not alone in adding this fellow to my list.

3) Ben Barnes-
I was a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia before the movies came out - but here's yet another reason to watch Prince Caspian!

4) Connor Trinneer-
I confess, I'm a big ol' Star Trek geek, and Enterprise isn't my favorite series (I think).  But head to head I've got to say I'd root for Commander Tucker over most of the other officers any day. 

5) Hayden Christensen-
I can't say a lot about his performance in Star Wars - whether it was the writing or the acting I won't try to speculate.  But Hayden first caught my attention in Life As A House (amazing ensemble cast - check it out) and earned himself a spot on the list. 

And I can't forget to mention the guy who's at the very top of all lists - my incredible and amazing husband whom I'm so blessed to have.  Ain't he cute?
So - who's on your top 5 and why?  Link up below or leave us a comment and let's see who's grabbing your attention!
 
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