Little bit of brilliance, right here.
Good morning! Hey, there, girl. How is your day so far? Gratitude day! What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the very beginnings of spring … I can feel it around the corner! I believe!
And for morning yoga with daughter. And husband who wakes up the rest of our kids with Elvis, Carl Perkins and the Supremes on our little Bluetooth speaker. Love that man.
Grateful for the guy I used to be married to. Grateful that through the years, we learned generosity of heart, forgiveness, humility and respect. And that we used the filter of what was best for our son as our litmus test in decision making. Thank you, friend.
Grateful for Elvis. Boy could sing.
And Van Morrison. And Ben E. King. They could sing too. Lucky us.
Grateful for ridiculous dog who makes typing difficult when she insists upon attention in the morning. Like now.
Grateful for the people who put shredded potatoes in a bag and gave my children a shot at enjoying potato pancakes of a chilly school morning.
Grateful for every new day that dawns full of grace and chance and fresh opportunity to be a better person today than I was yesterday. Every. Lovely. Day.
Grateful for dishwashers and microwaves and Amazon.com.
And grateful for you.
Have a great day, Mamma!
Tomorrow morning is budget meeting time with husband. We’ll head to a local coffee shop with our laptop, and over mocha (him) and green tea (me), we’ll look at how we did this week, what’s on tap for next week, and how we are doing relative to our year plan.
It took us so long to get here. So many overdrafts, late fees, tearful arguments. So much stress and fear and pain. We neither of us come from money, nor were we taught how to handle money. We financed everything. We bought what we wanted. We argued.
Once, when we were just about getting there, I miscalculated the timing of a bill. It lead to ten overdraft charges at our, then, big fancy bank. I went in and begged the bank manager to refund the charges. He sat impassively as I cried. He refunded nothing.
I swore that day that I would get out of debt and get out of that bank. We’ve been at a dear, small credit union for years now and I’ve never bounced a check with them. I came close once, but one of the employees called me to alert me that we were about to overdraft, was I aware? THAT’S customer service.
It took years, but we changed. And we are changed now, for good.
We went from fighting about money, to working our plan together.
We went from four credit cards to one debit card. My husband has the debit card hidden and we only get it out for agreed upon purchases online.
We use cash now for all of our weekly out-and-about purchases. I can’t go over budget if I’m out of green paper in my wallet.
This is what financial peace looks like in my house.
That’s what Dave Ramsey’s book is called, by the way, Financial Peace. The day we found Dave Ramsey’s book was a day that changed our lives. Check him out if you haven’t heard of him. Or if you’re still fighting about money.
Our budget is one a simple Excel spreadsheet. I tried the fancy programs, too much work. There are always adjustments, but the budget gives us a framework within which to work.
We stop at the bank every Saturday morning for our cash for the week. And I thank God that we have reached this point. I enjoy making purchases again, because there is no shame, no fear when I do.
If you have ever fought about money, know that it can be different for you. It can.
Happy Friday!! Love me some weekend, Mamma. We’re almost there!
I got home from a three day business trip yesterday to find a hot dinner simmering in the crock-pot, kids’ carpools confirmed by Daddy, and to hear about the healthy lunch Daddy had made and packed for the kids that day. I also found a kitchen full of dirty dishes, unopened mail on my desk, and discovered we are out of toilet paper.
Now, looking at the work my husband did and did not do while I was away, I could arrive home and get huffy and sniffy about the mess, or I could be wildly grateful for a man that held down the fort and kept everyone warm and fed while I was gone. I choose to be grateful. I choose to be so very grateful.
He’s not perfect, see. (Big surprise.) And neither am I, come to that. We match.
It struck me this morning that every day in my marriage I could find fault. Every day I could see the mess. I seriously could pick a fight every single day over something or another.
Or every day I could find treasures and gifts. And every day I can be grateful.
I figure my job in this here partnership is 1) to do my part of the work 2) let him know what I need and 3) choose to see and be grateful for the good.
And no, not every marriage is good; if you’re married to a drug addict, abuser or serial philanderer, then I’m sorry and get thee an attorney, dear (and a good counselor), but most of us are married to good guys. Not perfect. But good. Really good most of the time.
Do your bit.
Tell him what you need.
And choose gratitude.
That’s my happily ever after. Yours too?
Good morning, Mamma. Happy Tuesday.
How are you? A little sad that it’s all done? Yeah, me too. Can I make a suggestion? Try this: Write yourself a letter about Christmas this year. Talk to yourself about those things that were just awesome (letters from the kids to each other about what they love about each other – best gift ever) and those things that were not so awesome (wrap presents the weekend before, NOT the night before Christmas). Detail all the radiant joyous moments and all the regrets. Then put the letter somewhere you’ll find it next year. Do you have a Thanksgiving platter that comes out once a year? Tape it to that. Use a paper daytimer? Put your letter in November, 2016. Microsoft Outlook? Write your letter in the notes section of an appointment scheduled around November 16th.
This little exercise, something I started after one particularly awful Christmas, is, for me, an exercise with both emotional and practical benefits. It’s also a way to say goodbye to Christmas this year and hello to Christmas of next year. Try it out; see what you think.
We’ll be winding Christmas down in our house till January 6th. But I’ll be writing this year’s letter to myself today.
Whatever you do with your Tuesday, I hope you have a lovely, peaceful, warm day of it. With lots of hugs and love and laughter.
And a little Christmas still. Like Thanksgiving leftovers, but better.
I’m just about ready to think about detoxing with green tea and getting back to an exercise routine and reorganizing the house.
Just about. But not quite.
Hello, Mamma. Happy Friday! How are you? Two weeks to go. Seriously, Mamma, how are you today?
I’m feeling very intense this morning. I can see the end of the year (for work) looming and I need to finish my projects and tie up my loose ends before I can leave for vacation. I can also see Santa packing up his sleigh, and I know the things I’ve yet to get done to help him along.
And I’m trying to remember to be joyful and peaceful and relaxed. Relaxed. How’s that working for you, Mamma? Yeah, me neither, but I’m working on it. I’ll get there.
So. Deep breath. It will all get done. The reports and the orders and the gifts and the cards. Or it won’t. And, for the most part, that will be okay too.
With two weeks to go, I’m looking at my list and deciding what will fit and what won’t. What’s a must, what’s a maybe, what’s not going to happen. Protecting my joy, letting go of the things that are just stressful (Must confirm orders for Monday, must finish reworking that one project, yes, I want to bake more cookies with the kids, no, there won’t be a caroling party and there doesn’t need to be).
Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself a little stress, because I don’t know a woman on earth who can sail through this time of year with Mary Poppins aplomb, and make sure you insist on a fair measure of joy. Go get it. Make time for it. Allow yourself to feel it even though there is no way you will be as perfect as you’d like to be.
You’ll be just fine. You’ll be wonderful.
Good morning, Mommy. Happy party prep. Good cookie baking to you. I was up at 3:30 again this morning. Actually, I was up at 3:10, but I lay in bed for twenty minutes negotiating with my brain and body to please fall back to sleep?
But they wouldn’t have it, so here I am, two hours, one batch of cookies, one load of laundry and a hallway full of garland later.
This is crazy, yes? But it is happy crazy. It is my crazy. See, that’s the thing. That’s the only thing that makes these schizophrenic, too-much-to-do, how-do-you-ever-get-it-all-done lives of ours work: if we pick our crazy. Pick it and own it and love it and live it.
I love baking cookies. I love decorating. I love a fire in the fireplace and sitting on the sofa reading with my kids. So I get up at 3:30 in the morning to bake and decorate and make sure that I have hours at night free to sit on the sofa with my kids.
I have other friends who love to shop. They make time to hit the malls, they bargain hunt and feel the clothes and take pictures at the fancy-restaurant-mid-shop lunch. Yet other wonderful Mommies I know love sledding and skiing and all things outdoors. Good for you, if this is you! Get yourself outside!
If I were to attempt to take on someone else’s definition of who I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be doing at this time of year, it would never work. I just wouldn’t have the associated joy to get me through the sleep deprived insanity of it all.
What do you love? What energizes you? Go do that! Make time for it, find the dollars in the budget.
What drains you? What are you dreading? What makes your stomach knot up when you even consider it? Outsource it, sister, or skip it all together. There are many ways to live a good life, and many ways to have a jolly holiday.
We get one life. Live it well.
Good morning, Mamma! Are things starting to ramp up in your world? Mental lists of groceries and guests and gifts? Looking at your sofa/carpet/dining room table and wondering if you have time (and money!) to replace it before the big family gathering? Then of course you also have year-end reviews at work, and navigating the holiday-greet-and-thank-the-customer-in-a-gracious-and-yet-still-respectful-of-differing-religious-perspectives-and-legal-limitations-way. Yeeks.
It’s a full-court-press kind of season for us, isn’t it?
Relax, you’ve got this. Keep your values in perspective. Use those as a true north compass to pull you back when you start to feel frazzled. You don’t have to do everything, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Ask yourself a couple of questions when the tsunami of possible purchases/activities/events rolls your way:
Will this strengthen your family?
Will it build (or damage) a connection with any one particular kid (or your husband)?
Is this essential to your job?
Does it get you closer to the vision you saw for your family’s holiday?
If so, plow ahead, find the energy, get it done. If not, let it go!
And remember the joy, Mamma. Make room for joy. That’s the whole reason we do all this lovely madness.