Monday, February 27, 2012

If you give Danica a box of pictures...

Have you ever read If you give a Mouse a Cookie or any of the other "if you give" titles by Laura Numeroff? If you've got little ones, they're definitely fun books. AND, you'll have a great picture of what my life is like.

Friday, I went to my FIL's house to drop off some cookies he'd ordered for the girls' school fundraiser. He's working on a major clean out the house project, so he gave me...

A big box of pictures! (I opened it)

Which made me think about the unfinished hallway project. I'd textured it with the intent to paint, but couldn't ever get the motivation to paint. My plan was to arrange pictures of all the kids on the wall, except I didn't have any pictures of my stepkids from when they were little- the eternal problem of the stepparent- we don't have any of their baby stuff. Well, all of these pictures from my FIL just happened to be their baby pictures...

I took it as a sign!

I needed to paint the hallway so I could FINALLY have a wall with all the kids' baby pictures and pictures growing up. 

Mid-project. Going from texture to color!!

But as I was painting, I noticed something curious... Well, two somethings.

Look at my ugly light fixture and lack of molding!!

When we bought this place 4 1/2 years ago, they had updated a few things, but not everything, and they had only painted a couple of the rooms. So I've slowly been working on transforming it into a prettier place. My only problem is that I STINK at trim, so I have a few oopses on the ceiling (which I really should paint!... see how a simple thing leads to more projects!). But I was also thinking about my mad lust for crown molding, and now I've decided that I NEED crown molding. And a new light fixture.

The great dilemma

In addition, when I was originally texturing the hallway, I had just enough leftover to do one wall of my bedroom. The walls in the house are really flat and old, so everything has to be retextured. I'd wanted to do the whole bedroom, but hubby wouldn't let me, er, wouldn't move the furniture so I could. So this represents the one wall I COULD do. Now that I've painted it, you can see my dilemma. My closet doors clash with the wall. It's worse in person than in the picture. Which leads to me now having to do something about that! (In addition to getting the rest of the bedroom painted.)

My closet options are:
a. paint the doors white
b. paint the doors the accent color for the other wall, which will be green
c. As you can see, the closet is set back with a weird pillar separating each set of doors. Once upon a time, Hubby thought it would be nice to move the closet doors forward, turning weird unusable space into more closet space.

I discussed these options with Hubby, who nixed item c (which I really like) because I've given him too many projects lately and he doesn't want more. Still, even if I can convince him that I'm right, I still need a closet door color.

So that's how a simple thing like giving me pictures turns into a major project. And no, I haven't gotten them hung yet. This took all of my time I should have been doing laundry and cleaning spare time for the weekend. Plus, I keep finding really cool projects on Pinterest that I want to incorporate into my super cool family wall.

Do your "simple projects" turn into something way more complicated? And, since I have a captive audience, what color should I paint my closet doors?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What to do for Lent...

I've been thinking about giving up chocolate for Lent, but honestly... I don't know if that's the right thing to do.

Now hear me out... this isn't about my inability to give up chocolate, though it would be hard. Maybe. I don't know. I've done it before.

I guess my real question is why... why am I considering giving up anything, let alone, chocolate, for Lent? I started having this discussion with myself when our small group was supposed to bring what they were giving up for Lent to our meeting on Sunday. My initial response was, "I don't know what to bring. I'm not giving up anything for Lent." Then I started questioning myself... why am I not giving up something for Lent?

So I started to think about this whole concept of Lent and what people tend to give up. I remember a guy who gave up something important to him dietary-wise for Lent and what a great spiritual thing it was him, and he tells this marvelous tale of the spiritual work it did him. Of course, it also made him a big jerk because of him not having this thing. Others will verify that yes, while this guy wasn't consuming this dietary thing, he was really hard to be around.

Is it worth gaining that "spiritual" benefit if you are a jerk to others around you?

I mean yes, I could give up tea, which is something I love and I would miss oh, about every ten minutes. So I would be drawing close to God (in theory) a lot more often than I do now. But without my bedtime tea, I probably wouldn't sleep as well. Without my morning tea, I wouldn't wake up as well. And without the yummyness of tea, I wouldn't consume enough water and wouldn't have the same health benefits. And yes, I would be impossible to live with.

But what kind of witness is that to my family? It's okay for mommy to be mean because she's doing it for Jesus?

Which is why chocolate might be a better alternative, except that I admit, it's another self-medication tool. I don't eat it a lot, but on the days when the kids are really getting to me, God help you if you're standing between me and my M&Ms.

Should we find other coping mechanisms besides tea and chocolate? Sure. But I'd like to think they're a lot better than say, crack. Or alcohol. Or cigarettes. Or a lot of other unhealthy things I could be doing.

Some people give up the Internet for Lent. Nice thought, I'd love to, but there's this thing called work that requires me to be on the Internet.

I told hubby I was going to give up sex for Lent. He didn't think that was funny.

The more time I've spent thinking about Lent and what I'm going to give up or what I'm going to do, or what spiritual lesson I can learn, etc. etc. etc., the more I've realized that all of these conversations with myself and God have missed the point. The point is not Lent. The point is God. I can do all the spiritual things I want, but if the point isn't about experiencing more of God, then I've missed the point.

Which means I'm not going to be joining the cool kids this year. I'm not giving up anything, especially anything that's going to turn me into a jerk. I do a fine job being a jerk all on my own without having to try to be spiritual about it. One of my friends said that you can also take something up for Lent, which I guess I'm kind of doing, because I am reading more Lent-focused literature, but I'm not going to start some kind of weird new habit, like knitting all the beatitudes into a scarf.

Instead, I'm going to just follow the rhythm of the season, and let God take me on whatever journey He has in mind for me.

What about you? What are your plans for Lent?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Tax Rollercoaster

2011 was a funny year for us- income wise. For my job, I'm considered an independent contractor. What this means, for those who don't know taxes, is that I collect and pay ALL of my taxes. No deductions from this girl's paycheck. Which, to some people, is a great thing. Except for when you do the taxes at the end of the year and have had nothing withheld, so you have to pay income tax and self-employment tax (basically social security and medicare).

Our solution has been that hubby withholds extra from his paycheck so we aren't stuck at the end of the year. This saves us from the mess of paying quarterly taxes.

But here's where the unusual part of the year comes in... not only did I get a pay increase (YAY!), but hubby finally got paid on a job that he did years ago (had to sue, we won, and the guy FINALLY paid), PLUS, he was able to get another side job that paid him quite a bit. So, lots of self employment income.

I've been working on our taxes... When I first put in hubby's W2, YAY! We were getting back over $5,000. Then I put in my income. Oops. We owed $2000. Then I put in part of my expenses. YAY! We only owe $10. Then I finished putting in my expenses, and even more YAY! We're getting back $1000. Then I put in half of our itemized deductions as well as our credits. More YAY! Now we're up to a $2000 refund again.

I should be happy, right? I went over to hubby's computer to peek at where he was at with getting his business expenses. I was hoping he'd do income first so I could slip it into my computer for a worst-case scenario, but no. He's doing expenses first.

So really, as much as I think I know (like maybe we won't have to pay through the nose this year), I actually know exactly nothing about what our tax picture looks like. Yet it won't stop me from getting excited as I finish the rest of our itemized deductions (still waiting on a couple of forms), or being depressed when I finally do put in hubby's self-employment income, then being happier when I put in his expenses.

How are you feeling about your taxes this year?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Would you take the money?

I just read a fascinating article about the possibility of Hitler having a secret love child. One of the points the article makes is that if it's proven, his heirs could get royalties on Mein Kampf.

Would you be willing to take the money from that book?

On one hand, I know that the publishers are profiting off of it, so why not get a share? But I don't know if I could actually take the money. Maybe get the money and give it to charity? I don't know. I guess I'm surprised that there even ARE royalties, and that the Jewish community hasn't been given that money for reparations as has been done with other Nazi profits.

What do you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who am I?

Our last snowstorm
The main struggle with the new website is coming up with a fun blurb about me that will make me sound interesting to readers. You know, so that they'll want to spend time on my website, buy my books, all that fun stuff. But so far, I'm only coming up with something slightly more interesting than watching our snow melt.

How does everyone else do it? How do they come up with interesting things to say about themselves that will attract others rather than put them to sleep?

What do you find interesting about others that makes you want to read on?

And, because I'm truly stuck in this endeavor, what's interesting about me that I should highlight?

Until I figure it out, I'm going to go watch snow melt. While some of what we got in our last snowstorm is gone, there's still much snow to be melted.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I. Will. Write.

It's been crazy with work and family. Plus, I have been fighting a cold... not the kind where you're so sick that people think you're dying, but just enough that you've got lingering symptoms along with being exhausted all the time. And I thought to myself, wouldn't it be awesome to sit down with a cup of tea, my blankie, and catch up on my DVR shows?

And then it hit me. I haven't written yet today. Am I professional writer, who treats this like a job, or is this just some hobby? Because if I had a job that required me to punch a time clock, I wouldn't not show up today. I don't feel poorly enough to call in sick. And who skips work because they want to catch up on their shows?

So I am writing. The DVR will gather a little more dust. Mt. Laundry will get a little higher. Because I am a professional writer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crafty Valentine's Day

Kind of girly, but hubby liked it enough to put on his man shelf.
Because of the cute stuff I keep seeing people making on Pinterest, and the fact that I had to supervise the making of the Valentine boxes, I thought I'd make a Valentine present for hubby. Well, I didn't make what I thought I was going to make, but it's still cute.

The kids making their boxes. We'll be finding feathers until Christmas.

The finished products. A peacock and a dragon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Diva time!

Say hello to my little diva

For those of you familiar with stories about my children, this is the cutie pie also known as The Terrorist. She is my high-maintenance diva, and in case you had any doubt, her favorite color is pink. I will forever be known as The Bad Mommy for not naming her Pinkalicious.

She used to refuse to wear anything other than a dress, but lately we've gotten her into pants, mostly because it's what all of her friends wear. My fashion conscious little diva must always wear what her friends are wearing. We're going to work on breaking this habit by the teen years. Unless, of course, the fashion trend is similar to what the Amish wear. Then I will be all for her dressing exactly like her friends.

I've been loosely aware of the Monster High Phenomenon, but today was the first time she and I watched it together. I'm not sure what to think, to be honest. My friend says it's a great show because it's got good values, but YIKES! Talk about your bad acting. And, it's by Mattel, so I have to wonder if the only purpose of the show is to sell their toys. Her little girl just had a birthday party, and it was dominated by Monster High paraphernalia, and I see much of this in my own daughter's future. Based on what I watched, she has a lot in common with the Monster High diva, Draculaura.

I thought I had a point to this blog, but now I'm looking at the Monster High website, and I'm a little creeped out... not like, oh, this is such a terrible thing for kids, but in how elaborately commercial it is...

What are your thoughts on Monster High? Any diva monsters in your life who are interested in it? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

My happy place

I'm in a bad mood today, so instead of inflicting it on everyone, let's go to my happy place together...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Kid Funnies

While the kids sat doing homework, I overheard the following conversation:

11yo: Just wait until you hit puberty.

7yo: What's puberty?

11yo: It's the horrible thing I'm going through right now! Trust me, it'll ruin your life!

Ah, if only she knew....

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Our tax dollars at work...

Colorado lawmakers are discussing a bill to give our state a state amphibian.

Uh, What????

Sure, it was drafted by kids, and I think it's great to see kids getting involved in the legislative process. But over an amphibian???

Here's a thought, Colorado lawmakers. Pass the bill. Right now. Then, go actually do something for these kids, like better fund their education.

(Just in case a PETA activist reads this and wants to come after me for not liking amphibians. I like amphibians. Really. I'm just not sure they should be taking precedence over an educational budget crisis.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The power of no

I admit it, I'm the girl who can't say no. But as you may have learned by reading my blog the past few months, I'm learning how.

Sometimes the best way to simplify is to simply say no. A while back, I was talking with Randy Ingermanson about my new "no" lessons, and he said something that continues to resonate in my mind. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was along the lines of "Your yeses have no power if you can't also say no." I really liked how he put together the idea of boundaries with the idea of being able to say both yes and no with equal conviction. If I can't so no, then what does my yes mean? Nothing, that's what. So when I say yes, I want my yes to mean that it's something I truly want to do.

How are you at saying no?

Monday, February 06, 2012

I will no longer be obedient!!!

I watch the movie, Ella Enchanted, over and over, just for that part. Okay, it's a great movie. But there's something about that moment, when she takes control over her life and refuses to accept the curse that's been on her, that puts a fire in me.

Today, I joined Pinterest. As I started importing friends from other social media sites, I looked at the list and realized that I don't enjoy some of their posts. Some of the names made me cringe when I see them because their posts on other sites really bother me.

I've always done the polite thing, friended people back, put them on my list, and then allowed myself to be bombarded with messages that I don't enjoy. Which was why I wasn't sure I wanted to be on Pinterest too.

Then it occurred to me. I don't HAVE to follow them. And I pictured the scene where Ella takes control and decides to no longer be obedient. I will no longer be obedient to that voice inside me that insists on doing the polite thing and automatically following people.

It was such a relief to look at the list of names and tell myself, "I don't have to follow so and so," then NOT follow them. Even better, I didn't even go through my whole list of names. Not because I didn't want all of my friends on there, but because I just wanted to look at pretty pictures for a while. So I did.

There is power in choosing your destiny. Even if it's as simple as deciding not to bring in social media acquaintances who don't add value to your life.

Is there something in your life that you no longer need to be obedient to?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Doggie in a blizzard

Well, at least it's supposed to be a blizzard. School is already canceled tomorrow, but we don't have much snow yet.

Really? Snow?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Accepting limitations

I went on a retreat last week. The goal was to get some writing done, do some brainstorming, and to follow through with my simplify my new year plan.

I didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped, but I did get a lot done. I can't help but be disappointed in feeling like I could have and should have done more. For me, the worst part is coming home to a messy house and jumping back in to the fray of busy family life.

Typically, when I return from a trip, I need a day or two just to sleep it off. I thought that was because conferences keep me so busy, but even after this relaxing trip, I still needed a day to sleep. While I haven't quite slept as much as I usually do, I realized something important about me and my body rhythms. I need to accept that I need more sleep than I think I do. I also need to accept that I can't always do everything on my to do list in my timing.

The more I think about my simplification plan, the more I am realizing that a large part of simplifying is accepting. Accepting myself, my body, my needs, and rather than fighting it, to let it be what it is. Some people would find this to be counter to what they are told all their lives. As a recovering overachiever, it definitely rings somewhat false with what has been programmed in my brain for so long. But as someone who simply wants to sit back and listen to what the world is telling me, I know it is needed advice.

At some point, I may choose to jump back in to the rat race, but for now, it is enough for me to sit back and accept that I am not superwoman and I can't do everything. I don't have to do everything. I can rest when I need to, and the world will not fall apart.

Admittedly, I still have far to go in learning my limitations. In accepting myself for what I can do, and forgiving myself for what I do not.

What limitations do you need to learn to accept?