The end of the year is a great time to pause and reflect on failures & successes of the past year and to create intentions for the year ahead. Problem is, things are usually so hectic towards the end of the year for me - both at work and at home.
I have already been feeling a bit harried this week and it's only Tuesday. Lord help me. Part of it is having Anna home (freaking school is closed for 2 weeks) but part of it is the general holiday flurry. Even though we're really not doing anything for Christmas besides one house guest and a simple family dinner, I still feel a bit pressed. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just living the stress vicariously through those of you that are actually doing lots of activities for the holidays. So hopefully you can shrug off some of that worry because I will carry it for you. That's the kind of friend I am.
Hmm - so 2011 failures:
I have still failed to manage my horrible PMS. Prozac didn't really work for me and I don't have a better solution. This is definitely my biggest problem right now. I feel so on the brink when that time of the month comes.
I gained 5 pounds. Bummer. I am also really doughy and bleck. I have been trying hard to accept myself as perfect right now like Leo says but I really hate all my pants pushing into my body and sliding off my butt. Not sliding down like pants that are too big, but like pants that are too small. If you've had it happen to you, you know. Also my skirts are twice as short as they should be and hoochie-mama tight. Gross.
Anna moved back into our bed. Wow - talk about regression to 2009. It solves some problems but creates others. I'm just not ready to deal with it at the moment.
OK - I think that's enough for failures. Let's jump into successes:
I work part-time! I feel so great about this. I've shifted my priorities and am thankful for the additional time to focus on myself and my family.
I've started cooking again. I get help from this site (thanks Holly) which is great because all the recipes are soy and gluten free. We've seriously cut down on our number of meals out because I always have a quick, healthy meal ready to go.
Our family is much more financially sound thanks to a great year in Uri's career. We are lucky and I'm grateful. I don't mention stuff like that here too much but I can't reflect on the year's successes without counting it.
Alright, 3 of each sounds fair. Now for intentions:
Continue to purge stuff and do more with less. This applies to physical stuff AND mental stuff. I want to live as unencumbered as possible.
Be more patient with Anna. I am pretty good most of the time, but man, PMS rolls around and I'm a psychopath. I'm not proud that I've actually yelled at her a few times - I try so hard not to. Must develop a shield against the whining.
Okay this last one is nuts. Deep breath: get pregnant. I know, I know, I KNOW.
Okay, I'm posting this because I see a lot of you go back and forth on whether to hire a housekeeper. Usually I'm that friend leaving a comment that says "do it!" and "it's worth it!". But today I just let a housekeeper go (she cried and it sucked) and I think I'm going to do the cleaning myself. Yes, the whole think stinks of hypocrisy but I'm nothing if not fickle. And forever plagued with first world problems, I know.
So I'm going to put the rest of the information about this after the jump. Because only a small percentage of people are probably interested in this (unlike pictures of me posing at a party which is clearly interesting to everyone).
This year has been low on the holiday party meter - which I like. Uri and I were only invited to one big party - but it was an awesome one in San Jose and we left Anna at home for an overnight with my mom. You know things are legit when the party has this (I know you are jealous Alicia):
We had fun...
And for some reason I felt like dominating the photographer:
Lord help me. It's kind of embarrassing that everyone who clicks on the photographer link can see my posing but alas, that's what I get. And those of you who know me wouldn't expect anything less. I put together my own smaller album of photos from the party here (basically just pictures of moi, obviously) but all photo cred and copyright, etc. goes to Pete Nguyen.
Hello friends, it is your good buddy Ebenezer checking in. Since I posted here that I'm over holiday cards and here that I am sick of photo cards, I have felt slightly guilty each time I open the mail and see an adorable card with a beautiful sentiment. Sometimes I wonder ah! Will everyone think that I crossed them off my list specifically this year? Uri was afraid that we'd eventually stop receiving cards at all because of my not reciprocating. And it may happen!
But, well, it's not enough to get me off my butt and actually do anything about it. Even in my new part-time glory of more free time. So many of my friends have been sending these beautiful works of art that I truly enjoy opening. But I don't know, this year I've just been questioning all sorts of things. It's an ongoing process in life but this year in particular I've been very interested in simplifying. In unloading crap. And to me, the Christmas card thing was just a crap hustle - take a perfect picture, pick a perfect sentiment, sort through the trusty ol' master address list, stamps, addresses, stuff... sigh. It just seemed like so much effort for something so short-lived that will eventually be... trash. (I realize that some of you may save your Christmas cards or make crafts out of them but I just throw them all away when the season is over.)
But still, I could probably knock it out in a couple of hours so why can't I just do it? Why do I have to turn everything into some kind of STATEMENT? Why do I have to over-analyze everything? Sometimes I think it must be really tiring to know me and I apologize to those of you who do.
Part of the influence comes from following and loving Leo over at Zen Habits. I dig his response to people regarding the No New Gift Holiday Challenge. I want this for my life. I just want to be less bogged down by it all. I've been continually purging crap from our house - clothes, toys, kitchen stuff, everything. I even tackled a storage unit in Northern California that Uri had been paying for for over ten years. I had everything in it shipped down here and I dealt with it. We have one more of those storage units that I am going to tackle after the New Year. I even feel that cutting half of my job away is part of this endeavor of LESS. And yes, I'm fortunate that we can afford it but it has and will affect our financial decisions.
I just want freedom and peace. I want to live uncluttered in this hyper-consumer world. I want to focus on happy, healthful living. It's a balance though. I need to replace the junk with meaning. So that's been my challenge... since I'm not sending out cards this year, I am going to try and be extra kind and appreciative to all of my friends and family. I want to show them that I care and that I hope they have a wonderful holiday season. I'm going to try to feel it in my heart and then put it out there.
Yeah, I'm one of those moms that spoke the evil of television for little ones and then eventually caved to its superior kid hypnotizing properties. Sometimes a person's just gotta get dinner on the table, right? Fortunately, TV has lost some of its wonder for Anna and she gets bored with it after a little bit. Kind of like the iPad, which she clung to for hours at first, TV is now something that works for a bit, but then is shuffled off in exchange for some more active play. However, that little of bit of time where it works is fabulous.
I do think it's important to watch what she watches and make sure I'm okay with the message and that it's not too scary or anything like that. Shows I like for her are Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Olivia, Wonder Pets, Handy Manny, and lord if we haven't watched the new Winnie the Pooh at least 6 times since we purchased it two weeks ago. (I still like the original better.)
My favorite show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
It's really well done and Anna loves it. I like that the characters are very zen about problems. In each episode, setbacks happen (Pluto gets all muddy, Daisy's shoe breaks, Mickey's car runs out of gas). The characters never blame anyone or get upset about the problem. They look at it as a puzzle and then all work together to fix it. It's such a great way to go about life. How many times do we adults jump immediately to blame when something goes wrong? Or perseverate on how a problem is something in the way and stopping us from getting the next thing on our list done? Instead of just being here and now and finding the best solution.
I want to approach my day the way the Mickey gang does. They don't get hung up when plans change or a problem crops up. They just put on their thinking caps and get to work fixing it. It does bother me a bit that Daisy, Minnie and Clarabelle wear high heels - but I'm going to let that slide.
Uri's mom would probably not approve if she were alive. She had McDonald's and Disney on her list of terrible corporate evil-doers. I get that. Both companies certainly are part of a global marketing machine that inappropriately targets children who can't filter that crap for themselves yet. However, Disney also has a lot of resources at its disposal and it seems to me like a lot of good thought went into the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Whistling and looking the other way when you bring up Baby Einstein.)
Do you let your spuds watch TV? Have you associated rules with it? Favorite shows?
Well, I finally got around to uploading the pictures from Uri's birthday parties, our Portland trip and Thanksgiving. Here are a few highlights and if you want to see the whole albums, I've added links below.
Turns out, the women were on overdrive, with some even describing the hours between 5 and 8 p.m. as the "arsenic hours." "The first thing they had to start worrying about is getting dinner, interfacing with their kids, getting done all the housework chores," says sociologist Barbara Schneider with Michigan State University, who co-authored the study. "You could see from the data all the stresses and strains they felt as they walked in the door, and all the tasks" they felt they had to accomplish during those early-evening hours.
Hmm! This is exactly the time of day when I was feeling most stressed - between 5 and 8 pm. The article suggests that dads get a more flexible work schedule to deal with this. That solution wouldn't really work in our home so I'm the one who's flexing. I am looking forward to my first real week as a part-timer!
So my friends, I tapered my hours earlier this week and yesterday and today are full blown part-time. It has been really helpful.
Monday - Wednesday, I EXERCISED. This is amazing. Three days in a row. I haven't done that since before I tried to get pregnant. It's different than before though - I used to care about burning the most calories per hour and heart-rate and blah de blah. Right now all I care about is moving. I rode my bike for an hour on the beach two of the days and man, I have to go ahead and call it moving meditation. I know, cheese dog extraordinaire but I just keep thinking of that phrase. I was so nervous and pent-up and a ball of nerves and going on those bike rides just cleared it all out. Poof.
My very first part-time day (yesterday) was kind of a bust. I volunteered to help do some repotting at Anna's school and it was a really big project that involved lugging things around at Home Depot before some intensive planting for several hours. Also trying to plant in the courtyard of the school with Anna literally hanging off me wondering why we can't go home. Then to top it off, I had to login and send out quarterly reports from home. So, yeah, um, part-time? But still, the planting was my choice and the quarterly reports are always a last-minute freak out thing for some reason so it was to be expected.
Today though? Oh bless today. I am:
Going grocery shopping during the week before 5:00
Taking a sweet bike ride
Making a recipe (crazy!!)
Organizing the rest of Uri's receipts (finished expense reports = $$$)