Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Month Down!

Wow! I can't believe I am three months into my challenge already! The time is seriously flying by! I keep expecting it to get harder to come up with the next month's list, but it hasn't yet. It took me all of about 10 minutes yesterday to do April's list. I'll post that tomorrow.

So, my husband came back tonight after being away for work for three days. I feel like since he left early Monday morning, that my son has operated on one speed and one speed only... WIDE OPEN... ALL THE TIME! Although he is at a super fun age and I adore his energy and the funny things that come out of his mouth and the way he mimics everything I say and do, I was ready for a little break tonight. Since I'm giving up Starbucks for the month of April, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to take my laptop and go settle in, do my last blog post and enjoy my last Starbucks drink for the next 30 days. Really, I should have just stayed home.

I hauled my laptop in, set up, plugged in, booted up... and then spent 35 minutes trying to connect to their wireless network. I have a user name and password. It recognized it. And every single time it would say REJECTED! Awesome! Plus it was super hot in there... and I was drinking a hot chocolate. So, now I was really annoyed, frustrated and starting to sweat. Finally I gave up, packed up and came home. So here I am. It's 9:30 p.m. I had hoped to be in bed by now since I'll be getting up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to go to the gym! (Which by the way I managed to recruit my neighbor to go with me, just by telling her what I had started doing! Imagine that! So, now I have extra motivation to get up, knowing that she'll be waiting in her driveway at 5:10 a.m. to meet me!)

Okay, so... this afternoon I broke down all of the paperboard boxes in our recycling bin. Tomorrow is trash and recycling day and I'm hoping they will (finally) take our paper! I'm hoping that the only reason they keep leaving it because the boxes weren't broken down, but we'll find out tomorrow!

Next, I worked on my task list for Kidzola. So, technically, I'm a work at home Mom. I am the Marketing Manager for this awesome start up company called If you haven't heard of it, you need to check it out. It's an online consignment site for kids stuff, baby gear, kids clothes, toys and maternity clothes! It's free to list items and you can sell locally or nationally (if you are willing to ship). We also have consultants, which is a GREAT work from home job, who take care of consigning items for busy Mom's with too much stuff and not enough time to do it themselves. So, I have felt a little scatterbrained lately with my tasks. I have weekly goals I am supposed to meet for media outlets, Moms groups and websites and blogs to contact. Today I went through my inbox, made my task list and got myself organized! Now I'm all ready to go with a fresh prospective!

And finally, I ordered a dog bed for The Molly Dog. (yes, we really call her THE Molly Dog) We had a $100 gift certificate to L.L. Bean that we had received as a Christmas gift and we decided it would best be spent on a nice dog bed for Molly. We have three lab mixes. Molly is the largest. She weighs about 70 pounds. All three dogs used to sleep in the bed with us (we also had a queen size bed back then). Fun times. Now we have a king size bed and Molly has started sleeping on the floor in our bedroom. All three of the dogs turn 10 years old this year, and we felt like it was time to get Molly her own comfy bed. Since we had $100, we were able to get her the nice fleece lined bed with her name embroidered on it. I know she's going to love it!

And that's it! March is all wrapped up! I can't believe it! I guess it's true that small successes breed larger successes! This whole concept is TOTALLY working for me! Each month that goes by just makes me more excited for the next one to get started!

I Guess I'm Bad At Math... Or Maybe I'm Just Lazy

I know I am supposed to be doing one thing per day off my list, after all, that is the whole point of my blog, yet, somehow, on the last day of each month I still have four or five things left to cross off! Either I can't add very well or I'm just lazy. I think I'm lazy, because really, how hard is it to add one plus one plus one plus one... until you reach thirty one??!! Apparently for me, it's pretty difficult!

Okay, well, today I brought a bag of groceries to our church office to help stock the food ministries pantry with needed items and I caulked all of the nail holes in the quarter round. Let me just say that I HATE CAULKING! My severe hatred of caulking began when we were renovating an 1,100 square foot house that we bought in foreclosure three years ago. We re-did pretty much everything. This included tearing down the old rotted disgusting wood siding on all 4 sides of the house and putting up Hardiplank siding ourselves (thank goodness it was a 1 story house!). Nothing makes you hate caulking worse than when you have to caulk the whole exterior of a house... well, that is, until you get inside and have to re-do ALL of the baseboards, crown molding, corner molding... and the list goes on. Then it just plain stinks! However, it's no secret in our household that Matt builds things, installs things and fixes things and I finish them. So, I am officially the caulker, painter, drywall taping, mudding and sanding, color palate chooser, fixture picker-outer and decorator in our relationship!

So, after we installed the hardwood floors downstairs when we moved into our house, it only took nine months before we put the corner molding down. And even that isn't actually ALL done. But, today I dutifully spackled all of those little holes while scooting around my floors in black workout pants and picking up every spec of dirt, dust, pollen and dog hair with my rear end. You would NEVER know I just vacuumed and mopped them yesterday afternoon!

Okay, so I just switched out "painting the door to the storage under the stairs" for something on my April list (which is already done... yay!) because, quite honestly, I can't handle any more painting right now! So, I'm off to break down all of the paperboard boxes in our recycling because I think that is why they are not emptying it on paper recycling day!

My final post of the month will be typed up at Starbucks tonight... where I will be enjoying my last hot chocolate before I swear off Starbucks for the month of April... sigh.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How To Be Super Productive

I think that I have figured out how to be super duper productive in a very short span of time.

1) Don't do any maintenance type cleaning or laundry in your house for, oh, about 2 weeks. Only work on random projects that in no way affect the cleanliness or order of your home. This ensures that your house will not only be cluttered and messy, but also dirty.

2) Sign up to have 6 friends come over for your weekly get together on a night when your husband won't be home to help you cook, clean or watch your child.

3) Do absolutely NO cleaning or prepping the day before you are going to have people over.

4) Take allergy medication and pass out at 9:15 p.m. the night before. Sleep a FULL ten hours. (this part is very important! You'll need the energy!)

5) Make sure that this all coincides with some other deadline. For me, it is finishing this month's list by tomorrow.

6) Put your toddler down for a nap and PRAY over and over and over and over again that he takes one of his longest naps... EVER! (this seemed to really work... I got a full three and a half hours out of him!)

7) Pick one rediculously tedious task and try to complete it in a rediculously short amount of time. For example, I rolled the second coat of paint on all the walls in our master bedroom and hallway in an hour and forty minutes.

8) If you choose your activity right, this will also serve as your workout for the day. I was sweating so much I had to change into just a tank top and my underwear. IF you are painting, do not do what I did and BACK into the freshly painted wall... in your underwear... especially when you are painting the wall a color called MILK CHOCOLATE. It just does not look appropriate on your backside.

9) Say a little prayer when your future sister-in-law shows up early to take your toddler for a walk (and also teaches him to say "cool dude" to all the construction workers in your neighborhood) while you furiously vacuum and steam mop the floors (that have not been cleaned in 2 weeks)

10) In the midst of all of this, also make a caserole from a recipe you've never tried before with slightly vague directions and hope it turns out right, while simultaneously scheduling long overdue appointments.

11) Take very VERY quick shower... greet guests with hair soaking wet... enjoy the fact that no one cares... and have a very enjoyable night with friends.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Date Night

Well, I'm finally crossing date night off my list. I wish I could say that it was more exciting than it actually was... but...

Andy had his very first sleep over at his Uncle Jeff & Aunt Jaime's house! Thankfully, he was very well behaved, slept through the night and didn't give his Aunt Jaime any trouble (because we're really hoping that he's invited back for another sleep over!) So, this sleep over and thus, date night, happened more out of convenience than anything else. Matt had to be at work super early and I had a very early appointment in the morning, so Jaime was going to have to be over at our house at 7:45 a.m. to watch the little guy. We decided it would just be easier for Andy to stay over! You would think we would have been super excited about this... but...

I had been painting for two days straight. I was tired. (still am) I was sore. (still am) AND everything is blooming in the South! My allergies are just RIDICULOUS this year!!! I have not been able to breath through my nose for 2 straight days now, no matter what I try. So, anyway, we put forth our best effort. We tried a little Italian restaurant we had never been to. It was so so. I don't think we'll go back. As Matt said, "for what we paid, I wanted it to be a little more authentic tasting." I agreed. Although, I probably would have settled for just being able to taste anything, really. So we came home, and went to bed, and got up super early, and that was that!

It was really nice to have a dinner out just the two of us though. I'm very grateful and thankful for that!

Okay, so, the painting. T. E. D. I. O. U. S!!! I probably underestimated how big our bedroom is, until I started painting it! There is also this little hallway that leads to our bedroom that I had to paint as well. Plus, I decided to paint it the color "Milk Chocolate"... so it's definitely going to take two coats. I have done two coats of all the edging and still need to roller on the second coat on the walls. I have already gone through a gallon and three quarters! I went out to Lowe's today and bought a 3rd gallon thinking I would paint tonight... TOTALLY forgot that there is no light in there, so I will be cleaning tonight and painting tomorrow during nap time. Of course I'm not complaining that our bedroom is bigger than anything we've ever had before, but I am tired. I have a good friend who just finished sanding faux paneling in her family room, putting on two coats of primer and two coats of paint. She's going to read this and think tedious??!!! Let me tell you about TEDIOUS!!! And she's right. She wins. But I'm still really tired!

I love the color though!!! AND... I got the blinds up on the front facing two windows. Still have 4 more blinds to buy (not this month!) ... sigh... but it's coming together!

I'm just having one of those weeks. And it's only Monday. I feel like I have a ton of stuff to do. I'm super behind on cleaning and laundry. I really need to wipe every single surface of my house down to get rid of the pollen. I'm hosting Stitch n' Bitch tomorrow night and still don't know what I'm making for dinner. But mostly, all I want to do is crawl into my bed and go to sleep. I actually might have done that after I finished this post, but all of our bedding is in the wash and we only have one set of sheets for our bed. THAT needs to go on April's list. Buy second set of king size sheets!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Food Journaling

Well, today I started a food journal. Very exciting. I know. But, I feel that it will be a successful tool in helping me lose weight. I'm writing everything down and counting my points using a Weight Watcher's point counter from a friend. Whenever I read those weight loss success stories that I see so often in magazines, it seems like they all have one thing in common - they write down what they are eating and drinking in a food journal. I know that this won't be the easiest thing to keep up with, and I won't know the points if I go out for dinner and just don't care how healthy my meal is, but I figure that as long as I follow the 80/20 rule and eat well 80% of the time, I'll do just fine!

My plan is to jot down everything after each meal. Since I tend to eat a lot of the same foods, I will most likely only have to figure out point totals once and then use the same thing several times over. I know that I also get extra points for any exercise that I do, but I don't think that I'm going to track that. I'm really proud of myself because I've worked out four days this week so far! I am not sure that has happened at all since Andy was born. I also bought a scale today (eek!) so we'll see what I weight in at over the weekend.

The other thing that I did on my list was to buy all of my April birthday cards. My Mom, husband and three friends have birthdays in April and they always all sneak up on me at once! My goal is to get them all filled out this weekend and in the mail next week. I also had one March birthday card to buy... didn't make that one on time! Oops!

This weekend I will spend pretty much all of my time painting the bedroom. I finally picked out a color. It's called Milk Chocolate. I'm really excited! I know we don't have any furniture in there yet besides our bed, but I'm re-purposing curtain panels that we already own and I think it will make a HUGE difference to just get some paint on the walls and get the curtains up! I also have blinds for the two windows that face the front of the house. The color is dark, but not too dark. The room is pretty big though, so I think it can handle it. I'll post some "after" pictures when I'm all done!

How To Make An Easy Recipe Book

For the past four months or so, I have been tearing recipes that I want to try out of magazines as I read them. I figured this was a better method than what I was previously doing - just setting the magazines aside to keep because there was a recipe in there that looked good! Well, needless to say, I would never go back to the magazine. So, I just started tearing them out as I went along. Some of them we have tried. Some of them we have made multiple times now. And others just look yummy and I know I will want to make them at some point!

Since they have been piling up in random places around my house, I decided to start an easy recipe book for them all. I know that I could get a lot fancier and a lot cuter... a la my future sister-in-law... who types all of her recipes up on cute little 4x6 cards and puts them in a photo album that has two 4x6 photo slots to a page. Some day I aspire to be as organized as she is! However, I know myself well enough to know that the recipes would still just pile up, waiting to be typed up on the 4x6 cards. So, my solution was to get a pack of the full page self adhesive photo sheets and put them in a binder. Now, when I tear recipes out of a magazine I can just stick them in the photo pages. Super easy! Right now, the only recipes in my book are for main dishes, but as I add desserts and appetizers, etc. I will probably add some tabs so that everything is separated by section. I have a pack of cute dividers left over from a previous project, so I'm good to go there!

It's always fun to try new things! And now I will have no reason to hold onto magazines. I guess I should do the same things with cute ideas for my house that I see, and then I can just recycle magazines right when I'm done with them!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Putting Ourselves First

For the past two mornings, my husband and I have gotten up at 5:00 a.m. to work out. He works out in the garage (he just started the P90X workout) and I go to the gym (which is less than 5 minutes down the road). If you asked my husband "what is the one thing your wife is not?" he would surely say "A MORNING PERSON!" And I'm sooooooooo not!!!! But, after repeatedly trying to go to the gym mid morning and put Andy in the nursery there, it just wasn't working out. I thought that the more he went, the better he would be about it, but it's actually been the exact opposite. When we went on Tuesday he was saying "No. No Mama. No" when he saw me in my gym clothes and started crying as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. The nursery there is great and I really like the woman who runs it, but his separation anxiety is so heightened right now, that he does NOT want me to drop him off there. His pediatrician says that this will get better around age 2. We'll see. Thankfully, we can leave him with a neighbor or family or friends when needed and he does fine with a sitter... but boy does he hate going to the gym!

So, after that I decided I would try getting up at 5:00 a.m. and going to the gym before Matt left for work. I'm greatful that he is getting up with me. It's helping to keep me motivated. I know myself well enough to know that if I wait until after Matt gets home from work to try and go to the gym that I will come up with a million excuses why not to go. Plus, I want to spend time together as a family when he gets home. So, now I'm going to bed about 2 hours earlier, but I gain that time back in the morning before Andy wakes up. It's actually really nice to have this quiet time to start my day, and it sure feels good knowing I don't have to worry about when I'm going to go to the gym because it's already done!

I told Matt last night that I've noticed I am feeling a lot more content and generally happy lately. Things aren't stressing me out as much and I don't feel as anxious about the things I don't get done in a day. I feel like I can attribute that to finally tackling the two major areas of my life that were causing me anxiety - money and health. Now that I am working daily on these two things, I feel like I'm making progress in those areas instead of just ignoring them. It's made a huge difference for me. The other thing that has helped was getting rid of our cable. It's so nice not to have the TV on every night. We've been renting movies and TV shows from Netflix, but don't watch them every night.

I know that I'm only three months into this project, but already I'm seeing the benefits. It's nice to feel like I'm finally becoming the person that I want to be. I call tell that the changes that Matt and I have both made are having an impact on our family and our marriage and it just makes me want to continue! I look forward to how I'll feel in another three months!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Nursery

Today I opted out of cleaning my house (shocker!) in favor of painting an old night stand to put in my son's nursery. It was so nice outside that it just seemed like the perfect thing to cross off of my list today. I bought this night stand about 10 years ago for $10 at a resale place here in Charleston called Granny's Goodies. It's nothing special, but I have not wanted to get rid of it all these years because I thought I might be able to re-purpose it someday.

Well, today was the day! It got a fresh coat of glossy navy blue spray paint and a cute little knob (that I already had on hand). When we had Andy, we were living in our rental house and the nursery wasn't that big (and his nursery now isn't much bigger). Instead of buying a separate changing table, we just got one of those changing table toppers for the top of a dresser that we already had. When he was really little, we kept the wipes and a basket that had cotton swabs, baby powder, diaper rash cream, etc. on top of the dresser. As he has grown taller, he's started to be able to kick the wipes off of the top. The basket hit the road a long time ago when he started pulling everything out of it while we would try and change him!

Andy is quite tall for his age. He consistently falls anywhere between the 98th percentile and greater than 100th percentile for height! However, he still does well being changed on the changing table and it's easier for me than changing him on the floor. So I put this little stand next to the dresser and set the wipes on top. I can't really put anything in the drawer since he can reach it, but I did stash my extra gDiaper inserts underneath. I decided to take pictures of his whole nursery so you can see how we have it laid out. It's nothing special, decorating wise, but we like it, and Andy loves the turtles. We didn't paint it when we moved in, so it's the same boring beige flat paint as 90% of the rest of our house. When he is ready to move out of his crib, he'll actually move into a different room and this will stay the nursery, so we'll do something fun and cute in his "big boy room" and re-evaluate the nursery when we (hopefully) have another baby. If it's a boy, I'm sure it will stay exactly the same, but if it's a girl, then I'd like to do something really cute and girly!

Before Andy was born, I made the "hooks" that his initials are hanging from. I bought a piece of wood and painted it brown and then bought 3 large glass knobs and screwed them in. I love the way it turned out and it was sooooo easy! I put his clothes hamper next to the dresser and I hang his diaper bag (for the cloth diapers and wipes) right on it. Next to that we have a quilt rack that came from my Grandparents and I keep all of his blankets and quilts on there. I re-purposed two large frames that we had and weren't using and put some cute pictures of him that my neighbor took and hung them on the walls. I also recently found the turtle canvas prints that match his crib bedding at Burlington Coat Factory's Baby Depot, so, I bought them and hung them up. I didn't order them with his bedding because I thought they were too expensive, but they were a good price at the Baby Depot, so I couldn't resist! The stand next to the chair is actually the dry sink that goes with our dining room set that was handed down from my Mom. It works better for us in the nursery and coordinates perfectly! We opted not to go with a traditional nursery style glider and ottoman for seating. We decided that having a regular recliner that could fit in easily in our family room would better serve us in the future. We definitely use that chair a lot! I love having it in the nursery.

So, that's a tour of our little guy's nursery! I'm glad that I've finally found that little $10 night stand a happy home!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trying to "Deceptively" Eat Better

This past month I have been trying very hard to cook more meals from home, not waste food, cook once and eat twice and transition our meals to ones that are more healthy and wholesome. So far, it's going pretty well! At the end of February, my husband and I created a monthly meal plan. I made a shopping list with all of the ingredients needed to cook a month's worth of meals. I went shopping once at the beginning of the month and spent $125. Each time I would make a meal, I would immediately freeze half of it and save it for later in the month. This has worked out great for us! Our issue before (when I would cook a lot of these same meals) was that we would eat about half for dinner, and then maybe another quarter for left overs and then the other quarter would be forgotten about in the back of the fridge and wasted. This new method is working out much, much better. Since we are also being more mindful of our portion sizes, there is usually still enough food left over for me to have lunch the next day.

Another thing that I have been experimenting with is some recipes from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I have had the cookbook for about a year, but the only thing I had ever made from it was the pancakes (with added sweet potato puree). Lately, I have been revisiting this cookbook. My son has always been a really good eater, but he is starting to get a little bit more picky with what he eats and we also have a problem with him throwing his food. He eats it, but while he's chewing it's like he needs something to do, so he throws it. It's VERY frustrating and drives me crazy. I've tried different techniques trying to get him to stop doing this, but nothing has really worked thus far. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! So, the whole premise of this cookbook is to "sneak" pureed fruits and vegetables into foods so that kids don't even realize they are eating their veggies. I know that some of the criticism aimed at this book is that by putting pureed veggies into things like macaroni and cheese, brownies and cookies, you aren't teaching your kids to eat vegetables. However, Jessica advocates always serving vegetables with your meals, you are just sneaking in some extra nutrition into the dishes your kids love. Personally, I agree with this. Andy gets lots of vegetables and fruits, which he willingly eats, but now he is getting a little extra boost into some of his favorite foods.

So far I have tried four of the recipes. The sweet potato pancakes (super yummy!), apple sauce muffins (pretty good! We had them for breakfast for a week! They have butternut squash puree added in), "buttered noodles" (we tried this today for lunch! Yummm! They have yellow squash puree added) and the chicken nuggets. The chicken nuggets have been what I have made the most of. Andy loves chicken nuggets, but they are expensive and I don't like not knowing what kind of meat is in them. Because I'm making them myself, I can afford to get high quality, organic, free range chicken breasts and still end up spending less than I would buying the ready made nuggets. I have made these with both the sweet potato puree and the broccoli puree. Both are SUPER delicious! The breaded coating also has ground flax seed which is a great source of omega 3's!

Last night I made up a huge batch and put them in the freezer so that I can warm them up for lunches. The only change that I made to this recipe is that I bake my nuggets at 350 degrees for 20 minutes first. The recipe calls for pan frying them, but I had read some reviews online that said people were having trouble with the coating not sticking when they were pan fried. So, I bake for 20 min, then do a quick pan fry to brown them up. I posted pictures of the nuggets and the "buttered" noodles.

I can see where some people would think it was a pain to puree all these veggies, but I have an unnatural obsession with pureeing things! I love it! I'm really excited that I have a reason to puree again since I haven't been making pureed baby foods for Andy for several months. When I would make his baby food I would spend 2 afternoons a month preparing all of my purees. If I find that there are several usable recipes in this book, I might start doing that again.

Today I added pages to my Home Management Binder. Done! Crossed off the list! I added our monthly meal plan calendar, the shopping list and a calendar of due dates for all of our monthly bills. They are now in page protectors and in the binder. As usual, I've totally been putting off the painting projects that are on my list for this month. I need to get on those! I see a trip to Home Depot in my future... like, tomorrow!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trying to Get Organized

I had a comment on my blog today from my friend Micaela that said "You are so darned organized Colleen! I suddenly feel the need to do something organizational!" I had to laugh when I read that as I looked around my house. It seriously is a disaster! I feel like I have to remind myself on a daily basis that this is a year long project that I'm taking on and that eventually (I hope!) all of these baby steps will add up and I will actually feel organized and my house will look organized. I feel like a lot of the projects I have taken on lately are small projects that make me feel better because I know in the future I will save time NOT having to search high and low for something because it will be in it's binder in the cabinet over my fridge (and labeled!) ha ha! But I feel like I am still having trouble measuring my success in a day by the things I actually DID get done and not by dwelling on the things I didn't.

The other thing that is hard is that I'm not just trying to get my house (and life) organized, but am also working on other big, ongoing things like transitioning our eating habits to healthier foods that are less processed and being more active during the day as well as having regular exercise sessions four days a week. I'm realizing that old habits really do die hard. Part of the problem for me is that it takes me so much longer to plan meals and grocery lists, etc. while I'm learning new eating habits and the time it takes is time that I'm not working on something else (like cleaning!) I know that eventually these new habits will become the norm and I won't have to spend so much time on the change itself. It will have just happened before I know it.

So, in the spirit of tackling small (seemingly insignificant) projects, tonight I organized our DVD's and video games. We don't have very many, but the ones we do have were a mess. We actually don't even own a DVD player. We just use the Playstation my husband bought several years ago from a pawn shop. Although, we did have the discussion tonight about how I should look for one on Craig's List and see how cheap I could find it, so I guess I'll start that search this week. Okay, so the DVD's and video games were all over the place in these fabric bins we have in the console table in the family room. Some didn't have cases. Others were missing, but we still had the cases. There were some VHS tapes in there as well, but we no longer have a VCR, so those are now pretty much useless to us. Today I went to Walmart and spent $5 on a CD box to hold my husband's Playstation games. That worked great! I put it on a shelf and stacked the games that were in DVD type cases next to it. Then I neatly stacked our DVD's in one of the bins and put away all of the random toys and books that were mixed into the bins. The whole thing probably took me about 20 minutes. Most of that time was sorting. So, although the rest of the family room (also our playroom) is a mess, at least when you open the cabinet door, the video games that we rarely use are now nice and neatly organized! (note the dusty empty shelf in the last picture... that's where our cable box used to be... completely DO NOT miss it!!!... but maybe I should dust!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Organizing Instruction Manuals

Well, let me start off by saying that the weather is just SO, so, so, so, SOOOOO nice! I just don't want to do anything inside. My house is seriously dirty. Not just messy, but I haven't cleaned the floors, vacuumed cat hair off the couch or touched any kind of cleaning spray bottle in a few days now. Quite honestly, it's a miracle I got anything crossed off my list!

Last night I started working on organizing all the instruction and owners manuals we have around the house. I had a stash of all the manuals that came with all the baby stuff (crib, swing, pack n' play, high chair, etc.), a stash of all the small appliance and electronics manuals and a pile of all of the manuals that came with our house when we bought it (HVAC, water heater, appliances, etc.). I picked this project last night because I thought that I had everything I needed. I had one big binder, a package of clear page protectors and some sticky tabs to label everything. Well, I quickly realized that I definitely did not have enough page protectors. So, I went to the store at 9:30 at night and got another package. Once I got home and started putting everything in the binder, I realized that there was NO WAY I was fitting everything in one binder! In fact, it took FOUR! I had to go pick up the other three today at Walmart.

So, here is what I did. I divided everything into four categories: Infant & Toddler Gear, Electronics & Small Appliances, Power Tools, Home Appliances & Major Systems (meaning the central heat and air and the water heater, etc.) Then I put each owners or instruction manual in it's own page protector and put a sticky tab label on it so that I can quickly find what I need and not have to search through an entire binder. It worked out great! I also made cover pages for each binder (because I'm nerdy like that) and then made some labels for the bindings. I put them all up in the cabinet over the fridge (which was not being used for anything other than to store the gazillion ice cube trays that I used for freezing Andy's baby food) and I'm all done!
Super easy! And (relatively) inexpensive. So, even though my house is a disaster, at least I got something done today. Now we are going to make popcorn and have movie night, and the cleaning will just have to wait until tomorrow! Oh darn!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Finding Balance

I just got done watching the movie "Food, Inc." with my husband. I'm so completely disturbed. I guess it's just so easy to be blissfully unaware of where exactly all of our food comes from and what all is in it. The thing that I found the most interesting in the movie was how much covering up all the big companies do. No one wants you to be able to actually see how the food is being processed and they got a law passed that makes it illegal for the government to shut down a processing plant if they continuously fail tests for e.coli and salmonella. Apparently you can also be sued if talk badly about the meat industry in public. I guess my overall feeling is that you don't try so hard to cover things up unless you know you are doing something wrong.

I feel like my views on the food industry in general have been slowly changing over time. I guess maybe it's been since my son started eating solid food and I put more thought into what is going into his body. I've made some changes to our diet, but not nearly enough. It's hard, though, to balance eating less processed foods with sticking to a tight food budget. In general, we eat out a LOT less than we used to, and I know that is a good first step.

Lately, I've just been feeling so disenchanted with so much commercialization surrounding me everywhere. I have just started gravitating towards wanting a more simple life. I know that it is going to be a process. I know I can't change everything at once, but little by little I am trying to rid our lives of all of the excess. Right now, it doesn't feel like I've done a lot, but I know that over time, those little changes will add up.

Tonight I am crossing setting up a receipt box off my list. Well, it's not really a box, but a black zippered envelope I came across when I was searching for that darn gift card! I can't even remember why I originally bought it. I think it was to put receipts in when we were renovating our first house. Well, now it is on our kitchen counter and I told my husband that all receipts, other than gas (because I know what budget category that goes in!), need to go in there. Since I am tracking our expenses in the budget tool in "My Profile" on my Bank of America online banking, I'll go through the receipts once a week and split any that need to be applied to multiple categories. For instance, we will often have groceries, pet food and child needs all on the same receipt and I track those categories separately.

I feel good about this new system. I feel like it's the next step that is needed to really help stick to our budget. If I am paying attention to where we stand on each budget line item throughout the month, I'm less likely to go over.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Gift Card

So, a few days ago I posted pictures of our master bedroom (eek!) and I finally finished getting it cleaned out. Actually, I was done cleaning it yesterday, but since we don't have a light in there (that's right, we've lived here for 9 months and don't have a light in our bedroom... don't judge me!) I couldn't take pictures last night to post! ha! So, it took me a few days because I couldn't work on it at night (light probably would be helpful) and the second day, I got so entirely distracted looking for a lost gift card that I couldn't focus on anything else. All that happened the second day was that the other two bedrooms got completely torn apart as I pulled everything out of every box, bag, bin or dresser drawer looking for this gift card.

Uggghhhh... the gift card. I'm so upset and embarrassed that I can't find this gift card. I feel like it makes me seem ungrateful for the gift, and that is NOT the case at all, not even close. My birthday is in June and my husband very generously gave me a $100 gift card to Michael's. I have NEVER had that much money to spend in a craft store! Well, we closed on this house the first week of June and spent the whole first month putting hardwood floors in the downstairs (ourselves) before we moved in because quite honestly, we would have gone insane having carpet downstairs with three dogs. We didn't want to pay the builder's price for hardwoods and we could only afford them if we installed them ourselves. So, that's what we did. Almost every night of the week. While packing up all of our stuff to move. Well, that gift card was given to me in the middle of all of THAT, and it got misplaced. I didn't worry too much about it because I just figured I'd find it when I finally got everything sorted and put away... but I didn't. I have now gone through EVERYTHING. There is nothing left to sort through. I spent three hours looking for it. My only hope is that it is stuck between papers or in something and I'm going to find it when I least expect it, but honestly, I'm sick over it. Who loses a $100 gift card???

At least we can finally walk to our bed. I cleaned everything out of the room, vacuumed and steam cleaned the carpets. The only issue is that I "clean" by moving things from one room to the other. So, although I got rid of about a quarter of the stuff, three quarters of it has been re-distributed, to go through at a later date. i.e. April's list!

In my cleaning, I did find a $25 gift card to Old Navy though! That was a surprise! I didn't remember I had it. Andy needed some new short sleeve shirts for summer since he's outgrown the ones he currently has, so I went the other night and got him 4 new shirts and only paid eighty cents out of pocket. That was rewarding.

Since we don't have TV anymore, we've been getting DVD's through Netflix thanks to a three month subscription we received as a Christmas gift. Tonight we watched the documentary "No Impact Man." If you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary about Colin Beavan and his wife and young daughter, and their year long journey to make as minimal of an environmental impact as possible. It's given me a lot to think about. I know that as my year of 365 Resolutions goes on, that there are a lot of environmentally driven goals that I want to tackle, so it was interesting for me to see what things they were able to do without and how easy or difficult it was for them. One thing that I found really interesting was that they did things in phases. They didn't try to change all of their habits at once. I think that was a very smart way to do things. It's something I will be thinking about as I work on my April resolutions. Definitely check the video out if you get the chance!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Most Embarrassing Post (thus far!)

Okay, SO... I just posted these pictures of our master bedroom. Horrible, right??!! It totally stresses me out every time I go in there! There really is no excuse. The reason it's like that is because I have nothing to get the room set up and put together. We've never had a room this big or closets this big, so there is all this extra space and no furniture to fill it, and we don't really need dressers in the room (although I think I'll keep this one in there and store linens or something just so that we have something other than the bed in there), I don't have blinds for the windows yet, or bedside tables, or anything to put that TV on (if we even decide to keep it in there) and I don't even have any kind of matching bedding. So, it's kind of just been the room I pretend like doesn't exist. Except that we have to sleep in there every night. Although as long as I'm showing pictures of my room, I might as well admit that sometimes I sleep in the guest room because for one, it's by far the cutest room in the house and two, our mattress is terrible, and the one in the guest room is so comfy! Anyway, I've piled all kinds of stuff in there as I've cleaned other rooms. I've totally been procrastinating cleaning it up, so, I just took pictures and posted them. Now I feel like I HAVE to go and clean it! I need to just get over the fact that it won't be decorated yet, but at least it can be CLEAN!

I should also mention the item I'm crossing off my list. This morning I mailed a photo CD to my mother in-law. My camera had kicked the bucket, so she had given me a free one that she had received when she bought her computer. I told her that I would put all of the pictures she had on the memory card onto a CD for her and send it to her. So, this morning, it went in the mail. Although... I won't actually be needing that camera anymore! Yesterday I bought a "new" camera from someone on Craig's List, for a steal! It's just a point and shoot... I can dream of one day having a digital SLR... but it's much nicer than my old camera! I love it! I have been selling some things from around the house that we don't use anymore on Craig's List to save up to buy my husband's birthday gift and I had some extra so I used it on a camera for myself!

Okay, enough procrastinating... I'm off to CLEAN. THE. BEDROOM! (dragging my feet, kicking and screaming the whole way)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rainy Day = TOTAL Laziness!

CLEARLY I have zero motivation today. I just got up from the table after wasting my sons entire nap on the computer, and this is what my kitchen and living room look like. Nice. Yes, that is a half emptied dishwasher and a load of unfolded clothes on the couch.

I did, however, manage to cross something off my list. I went to Walmart and bought a $2 trash can and put it in my laundry room. Wow. That took so much effort I needed to do absolutely nothing productive for the next 3 hours. My husband will be happy. He would like it if we had a trash can in every single room in our house, along with a laundry basket. Okay, so I admit, I hate having to take the lint out of the dryer and throw it away in the kitchen. It's like a 10 foot walk from the laundry room to the trash can. And the lint is so heavy, that it really is a nuisance! Just kidding. But seriously, we needed a trash can in the laundry room. And now it's done. Checking it off the list!

To be fair to myself, I haven't been TOTALLY lazy today. I did go to the gym this morning and run/walk 3 miles on the treadmill. I ran for 2 minutes and walked for 1 minute on and off for the first 2.75 miles and then I ran the last quarter of a mile at a faster pace. My logic was that the faster I ran, the sooner I'd get done and could go save my son from the gym nursery. He acts like I've abandoned him for life when I leave him in there. It's sooooo pitiful. I think it's just as painful for me as he acts like it is for him. He's never crying when I leave (well, today was only the second day he's gone with me)because I always sneak out when he isn't looking, but when I go in to get him, he's sitting on the lady's lap with big teary eyes and when he SEES me... you would think one of the other kids just pummeled him when no one was looking! He starts BAWLING! The lady assures me he has not cried like that the whole time. Just more fussing until she has him sit on her lap. I know it's for dramatic effect.... 'Mom, don't ever leave me in this horrible place with all these fun toys and doting nursery attendant ever EVER again!!!!' He never gets left anywhere, and I feel bad, but I also feel like he can learn to spend 45 minutes in the nursery so I can work out and then spend an hour in the church nursery on Sundays so that we can stop going to the family and children's service and start going to the regular service.

I have no idea how long this adjustment is supposed to take, but I'm going 3 days a week with him and I'm going to give him a few weeks. If he doesn't get used to it by then, then I guess I will go back to going to the gym at night and try again when he's a little older. It's just harder to go at night because it's easier to come up with excuses during the day for why I shouldn't go to the gym, and honestly, by the time my husband gets home from work, I'm just plain tired.

Now that I posted a picture of my kitchen I feel like I need to go clean it!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cleaning Out The Garage

I'm pleased to say that we have finally started working on our garage. I'm not going to post before and after pictures until we are done, but we did make quite a bit of progress this weekend. Actually, Matt started working on it at night a few times last week, and then we both spent about 2-3 hours out there on Sunday after church. Matt made a trip to the dump and I made a trip to Goodwill. We have a few things out there that need to be listed for sale on Craig's List, but otherwise, the bulk of what is left is all organization.

Our garage was really bad because of a couple of reasons.

1. We had bins of stuff that had been boxed up for 3 years. When we moved from North Carolina back to Charleston three years ago, we were not very methodical in our packing. There was not much order to what went into what bins. We lived in rental houses for the first 2 years we were here and didn't have room to unpack everything. So, those bins sat in the detached garage at our rental house, unopened, for three years. When we moved here, they just went immediately to the garage to be dealt with later. There is a certain amount of stress that comes along with having bins full of stuff that you have ignored for so long, so I'm glad to FINALLY be tackling it!

2. We were renovating TWO houses in North Carolina when we moved to Charleston. Yes, we are crazy. Friends and family used to tell us that all the time. Even after we moved, we continued to do most of the work on the houses ourselves. We would drive 4 hours up and 4 hours back to North Carolina every... single... weekend. It was a crazy and hectic time. When we were finished with our renovations and got the houses rented out, all the left over construction stuff just got piled into (you guessed it!) MORE bins in our garage... totally disorganized... and then moved to the new house.

3. Random furniture. I have held on to random furniture for several years that I either got for really cheap or were hand me downs, because I wanted to wait until we were out of our rental house before I got rid of it. I didn't want to get rid of anything I might have a place for. Since we have moved in, I've put some of the furniture to use in our house, and other things I have given away, but there are still some random things out in that garage that I need to either list on Craig's List or take to Goodwill.

But... I did sort through ALL of the bins that were "mine." That picture is what I now have to distribute around the house. They aren't all full and I have gone through everything in there and know it is stuff I would like to hold onto. I moved it all INTO the house so that it will (hopefully) force me to put it all way.

It was really fun going through the bins. I found things that I had totally forgotten I even had! I'll probably start working on getting everything out of the bins and put away tomorrow. I got a few other things done over the weekend too, that I am crossing off my list:

1. New floor mats for the car. Ours were rubber and the driver's side was so ripped that occasionally my foot would get caught in it! NOT safe! Now we have the carpet and rubber mats... oh, and they look so nice and CLEAN! I also cleaned out the whole car and vacuumed and wiped everything down and then washed the exterior. The whole process took me about 2 hours on Saturday, but it was totally worth it!

2. Send in church tithes. We just became members of a new church and I have procrastinated terribly on sending in our yearly financial commitment. Shameful. It's now MARCH. But, I finally took care of that and feel much better. This item in particular was really nagging at me.

Okay, off to tackle something today!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Keg

Well, this was not on my list, but I still feel like I need to do a post about it. Today, I returned a keg & tap to Total Wine & More that we got almost exactly ONE YEAR AGO! We went on a ski trip last March with about ten other people to Snowshoe, WV. We do this most years. And most years everyone brings too much beer and we have a bunch left over. So, last year, my husband got a keg instead and told everyone not to bring any beer. I don't really like beer, but I'm assuming this situation worked out well for everyone else.

So... this keg... has sat... in our garage... SINCE LAST MARCH! It's not like we drove across state lines to get the thing! Total Wine is a fifteen minute drive away from our house. It was only a ten minute drive away from our old house. Yes, we were living in our rental house last March. So, yes, we actually MOVED the keg, on moving day in July in OVER one hundred degree heat!!!! Because somehow it was easier to relocate it to our new garage than to actually return it. That makes perfect sense.

Well, this week, Matt started working on cleaning out our garage. That garage is the shame of our house right now... well, tied with our master bedroom... but we'll get there. So, I told him to just put the stupid keg in the back of the car and I'd take it this week. The other bonus to getting the keg out of our house is that we had paid a deposit. Which I got back today. Thirty dollars on the keg and thirty dollars on the tap!!!!! SIXTY DOLLARS!!! I had no clue! I thought it was only $25 or $30 total. I would have done that a long time ago!

The lady at Total Wine pulled our information and read the date, looked at me and said with disbelief "This was a YEAR ago??!!!" What??!! No one else takes a year to return a keg? Come on! We can't be the only ones! Right? RIGHT????!!!! She was looking at me like 'what kind of crazy person holds onto an empty keg for a year and then actually returns it?!' Well, a girl on a mission! That's who! And thanks for my sixty bucks back!!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Team in Training

Tonight crossed two more things off my list. They really went hand in hand, so I figured I'd better just knock them both out at the same time! I have posted before about joining the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I was supposed to run the Myrtle Beach half marathon on February 13th, but it snowed the overnight before the race...the first time it has snowed there in TEN years...and so they cancelled it at 10:00 p.m. the night before. At the time I was feeling really down about it. Partly because I was really excited and partly because I was ready to have it completed! It was something I'd been anticipating for a while and had been feeling a little anxious about. I was having trouble seeing a positive outcome on our way back from Myrtle Beach the next day. That was mostly due to the unknown. I wasn't sure what race I would be running in, or what options Team in Training was going to offer to us. After all, I had raised almost $2,600 thanks to the very generous donations from family and friends and I felt obligated to complete a half marathon... ANYWHERE!

Well, this has probably turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Instead of Myrtle Beach, I will now be going to run the Rock n' Roll half marathon in San Diego in June!!! I only need to raise $400 more to go to San Diego and I know I can do it. I also know how much I will benefit from the additional training. I was going to complete the race in Myrtle Beach by doing run/walk intervals, however, with 14 additional weeks to train, my new goal is to be able to run the entire race. I'm excited about recommitting to my training.

Unfortunately, my husband can't come with me to San Diego, but one of my best friend's from high school has a conference for work just 2 hours away the week after the race, so she's flying out early to come with me and one of my best friends from college just won a $250 gift certificate on Southwest Airlines for donating old bridesmaid dresses to charity, so I'm hoping (fingers crossed!) that she decides to use it to come to San Diego too!!! Either way, it will be a great time and an experience that I know will be one I will look back on fondly.

So, tonight I filled out all the new paperwork to be able to do the race in San Diego and took it to the mail box. Then I typed up and printed out my donation request letter for Matt's boss. He had mentioned to Matt that they could make a corporate donation if I submitted a letter. So, that is now sitting on the counter with Matt's wallet, cell phone and keys to take to work with him in the morning.

It feels good to cross those two things off my list and recommit myself to such an important cause!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bye Bye Cable TV!

Well, it's official... we no longer have T.V. in our house. My husband and I have been talking about giving up the cable for about a month now and today, I finally pulled the plug (literally!) We just felt like it was such a time waster. We weren't really watching anything worth watching. Last month, Matt gave up T.V. altogether, except for the Super Bowl and some of the Olympics. I found that I drastically cut back on my T.V. watching with him, and neither of us missed it. We were both a TON more productive and were spending some more quality time together. We also received a gift of three months of free Netflix for Christmas and started by ordering some television series we had wanted to see and have been working our way through those an episode at a time.

So, today I made the call to the cable company. WOW. They will do and say just about anything to get you to stay! I was on the phone with them for about thirty minutes. The lady kept putting me on hold and then coming back with some new offer until FINALLY she tells me that they can't disconnect my service until I turn in my DVR cable box to the nearest location. Which happens to close in thirty minutes. This makes no sense to me since I know that they have no problem disconnecting service if you don't pay your bill, but, whatever. I hustled on down to the cable place and got there literally 2 minutes before they closed, turned in our cable box, the remote and the power cords... and that was that! Now we will be paying $50 less per month for something we were definitely NOT getting $50 worth of enjoyment out of! Now... we'll see what happens when football season rolls around again...

Since I was on a roll, I called the cell phone company as well and reduced the number of minutes we have to use every month. We have a home phone with unlimited long distance, so it's just silly for us to have anything other than the minimum number of minutes to share on our phones. We don't have data plans or anything, but we do have the text package. I like to text. A lot. I also like to talk. A whole lot. BUT... the people I do most of my talking to are also on Verizon so it's always free for me to talk to them as much as my little heart desires. The biggest change for me will be using the home phone for all of my other calls. We didn't have home phone service for over 7 years, so I'm so used to just using my cell phone for everything, but now that I'm home pretty much all the time, there is just no reason not to just use the home phone. So, our cell phone bill will drop by $35. All in all, that's $85 a month!!! A HUGE savings and I have a feeling we aren't going to feel like we sacrificed anything.

How to Make Your Own Wipes

Okay, so this is a just a little side project, not actually something off of my list. I have already posted about how to make your own baby wipe solution for using cloth wipes. Well, today I decided that I'm sick of buying wipes to keep downstairs to wipe Andy's hands and face before and after meals. He's not quite old enough yet to wash his hands with soap in the sink and I feel like I need to use soap (or an anti-bacterial wipe) and not just a cloth with warm water for his hands. So, today I made some wipes to keep in the kitchen.

I took a roll of Viva (the Kleenex brand of paper towels) that I already had in my pantry and I cut it in half using a large serrated knife. I used the Viva paper towels instead of one of the rolls of the generic brand that I have because they are really soft and cloth like. Now, I'm not going to lie, cutting those suckers in half was not exactly easy but it was definitely do-able! Then I pulled the cardboard roll out of the middle and I put the paper towels (cut side down) in a round container. I have to admit that I went back out to the store for a container that would fit the paper towels. I scoured my whole house and could NOT believe that I didn't have ANYTHING that would work. Anything I had was too small. I feel kind of bad that I couldn't be more frugal and find a container that worked at home, but one just didn't exist!

So, after I put the towels in the container, I mixed up a batch of wipe solution using only 2 cups of water instead of 3, and then I poured it over the paper towels. I pulled the starter towel up from the middle of the roll, and viola! Now we have a container of homemade wipe on our kitchen counter for a LOT less than buying containers of wipes. I have the other half of the roll stored for when I need a refill. If I didn't have to go to the store to buy the actual container, this whole little project would have taken a lot less time than going to the store to buy wipes!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Dreaded Tax Appointment

I hate when I feel like I just can't get it together. Especially when it could have easily been prevented. We had our tax appointment tonight. Ugggh. I had been putting all of our tax related paperwork into a pile as each thing arrived in the mail. What I should have done was actually LOOK at what was in this pile sometime before, oh, say, FIVE MINUTES before it was time to leave! I guess I just assumed everything we needed to bring was in that pile. Wrong. Right before we left I realized we were missing the statement for one of our mortgages. Of course, it's with a credit union, without online access to print it out myself and they don't send monthly statements (just coupon books) where I could have looked up or interest paid in 2009.

So, after collecting all of the other necessary paperwork (having sold a rental home and purchased a new primary residence) in 2009, apologizing over and over again to my husband, and kicking myself for not taking care of all of this earlier today when I could have actually gone to the bank and gotten a print out or at least CALLED them, we left... 10 minutes late... for our tax appointment. After we had gotten 2 miles or so down the road I realized that I had forgotten the check book. So, we turned around, went back home, I got the check book and we headed to our appointment... 20 minutes late! Then when we got there, we realized we also didn't have my student loan tax statement. Uggh! So now I have to e-mail the information for both to our tax lady tomorrow. Next year I'm making a checklist of all the tax forms we need and I'll check them off as we receive them in the mail. That should make me less scatterbrained!

Trust me when I say that if I had pictured a night out with my husband and without our son, it would NOT have gone like this!

Anyway, I'm tired and lazy tonight so I picked the two things on my list that I could do while parked right in front of the computer! I ordered checks and I made a hotel reservation. I pay most of our bills through Bank of America's Bill Pay, so I don't use checks very often. For 9 months now, the checks I did have had our old address on them, and for the past month, I've been completely out of checks for our main account. If I have had to write a check (like to pay the tax lady tonight) I have written it out of another account and have to transfer the money out of our main account, over to that account. Very efficient. I know. But, on or about March 15th, I should have 2 nice little boxes of checks arriving in my mail box... in a very boring blue color... because that is what was the cheapest!

I also needed to make a hotel reservation for the weekend of my brother's wedding. Even though he is getting married in Charleston, we still wanted to stay the night at the hotel downtown where the reception will be. I've been holding off on making our reservation because I was hoping a good deal would come along since the rooms are a little pricey, but, that hadn't happened yet, so tonight I Googled "promotional codes" for this hotel and found one that saved me 10% off our room! I actually booked it for two nights because I know the bride doesn't know where she is staying yet... and since I'm the Matron of Honor, I'm really hoping that now she will stay with me the night before the wedding, as my gift to her, instead of bunking in with whichever family member has the extra space.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hello March!

Wow! I can't believe today is the first day of month number THREE! Switching everything over on my blog from February to March, I couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment! I'm really proud of myself at this particular moment. I feel like things are running more smoothly in our home. Our house has never looked better! The only two major areas left to clean out are the garage (Lord help us!) and the master bedroom (the photos of that will be my most embarrassing post, for SURE!). I've implemented cleaning schedules I can stick with. I am feeling much less anxious all the time, and especially much, MUCH less overwhelmed all the time!

The other thing that has been a lot of fun for me this last month has been watching the changes in my husband. He has been more motivated than I have seen him in a really long time (as I'm sure he is thinking the same thing about me) and I think that clearing the cobwebs out of our life has brought us closer together. We both seem to have a lot less anxiety. We still have a lot to work on as far as our eating and exercise habits go, but I feel like the more of the "other things" we are taking care of in our lives, the more space it is freeing up to focus on our health.

Last month I lost TEN pounds! I'm so happy about that! This month I hope to lose another ten more. I did indulge in some baked goods today though... in a really fun way! My future sister-in-law brought me eight wedding cake samples to try on her way home from her bakery appointment! It was a lot of fun having eight bites of different yummy cakes. She also brought me this really cute little wooden carved "Love" decoration in this pretty deep red color (which is the accent color in my finally put together living room) just because she saw it thought it would look cute on my shelf! She's the best! I love it! It was the final little touch that our new built-in shelves needed.

I guess tonight I'm feeling very blessed, proud and encouraged to tackle the next thirty one resolutions on my list!