End-of-Year To-Do Lists

A few days ago, I found myself scribbling out an end-of-year to-do list. Things to take care of before watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Do you have a similar list, too? If so, what’s on yours? Here’s a sample of my action items:

  • Schedule eye-doctor appointment for Stanton.
  • Give Stanton all doctor info so that he can begin making his own appointments in 2015. 🙂
  • Add Little G to our dental plan.
  • Schedule dentist appointment for Little G. (I don’t mind making her appointments for the next 15 years!)
  • Keep writing “In-Laws.” (I’m hoping to finish my newest fiction story before Baby G comes along.)
  • Take car to get air filters changed. (This has been on various to-do lists since the summer; I’m not confident it will ever actually happen.)
  • Finish addressing Christmas cards; stamp and mail.
  • P.S.: Buy stamps.
  • Buy rest of Christmas presents: co-workers and Little G’s teachers.
  • Sweep out garage. (Another one that’s debatable if it will actually happen.)
  • Schedule pedicure. (This WILL happen!)
  • Begin setting up Baby G’s nursery. **Do not leave this till the last minute.**
  • Register for delivery at hospital.

Rediscovering the BLT

3_Rediscovering the BLTEasy to make, flavorful, and an American classic. What’s not to love about the BLT?

Little G loves bacon, and lately, I’ve rediscovered the BLT, throwing them together for dinner every couple of weeks. My bread of choice is sourdough. In addition to the obligatory bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes, I also add mayonnaise and freshly ground pepper.

Some other recipes you might like, for your own easy weeknight meal: the BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese SandwichCalifornia BLTs (they feature avocado and lemon!), and the Perfect BLT Sandwich.

No-stress sides include salad, fruit, and/or macaroni and cheese. Little G’s fruit side of choice is a Honeycrisp apple. More expensive than other varieties, but worth it, we think.

Enjoy, friends. 🙂

Gratitude News Round-Up

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away, and fittingly, articles about gratitude have been popping up in the media. Here are five of my favorites. Wishing you gratitude and good things always!

“3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude” (Entrepreneur):

“Gratitude creates solutions. Adopting a gratitude practice takes you out of a problem and toward a solution. It removes you from a complaining mode and into a best-outcomes mindset.”

“7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year-Round” (Forbes):

“Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.”

“Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.”

“7 Genuine Ways to Practice Gratitude” (PsychCentral):

“Linger over positive experiences.”

“Involve your kids … Ask your child, ‘What was the best part of your day today?’”

“20 Mind-Blowing Facts About Gratitude” (Yahoo! Health):

“Being appreciative of the little things your partner does can help your relationship thrive.”

“A good way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to embrace the setbacks you experience in life, according to leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, of the University of California, Davis.”

“The Science of Thanksgiving: Why Gratitude Really is Good for You” (California Magazine):

“ … simple gratitude is good for you. Among its benefits: lower blood pressure, strengthened immune systems, reduced loneliness, and measurably improved outlooks on life. Plus, people who practice gratitude ‘mindfully,’ as the current psycho-argot has it, tend to pay things forward; they’re more compassionate to the people around them, generating all-around increased good will.”

Some Mornings Are a Pick 3

2_Some Mornings Are a Pick 3Do you play the lottery? If you do, then you may be familiar with the “Pick 3.” Here in Texas, the Pick 3 “offers a 50-cent play, six days a week, and a top prize of $500 (on a $1 play)”—just pick three single-digit numbers and how you want to play them.

Now, I’m not much of a lottery player, but I do feel as though I play the Pick 3 some mornings. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to be exact, when my hubby, Little G, and I are all hustling to get out the door by 7:30 a.m. Stanton to work, Little G to preschool, and me to—well, if you asked my daughter, she would either (a) simply stare at you, or (b) say, “write stories.” “Write stories” it is, friends.

On these mornings, I have time to pick three of the following:

  • Take a shower.
  • Get dressed.
  • Drink coffee.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Brush teeth.
  • Check and respond to e-mails.
  • Clean up the kitchen.

Three things. Not one more. And the three things I always pick are the first ones: (1) shower, (2) clothes, and (3) coffee.

Because, breakfast? Well, that’s what tote-friendly granola bars are for. And toothbrushes and toothpaste can travel, too.

E-mails? Easy to do from my phone on the go.

Meanwhile … clean up the kitchen? Simply put: Not a priority. 🙂

When you have to pick, what do you choose?

Keep in Touch

Around this time every year, I think about a good friend of mine, David Haas. David introduced Stanton and me nearly 13 years ago, during the second semester of our freshman year at the University of Richmond. David passed away too soon, in July of 2012, while on duty with the U.S. Army in South Korea.

David’s birthday falls in November. And November is also when I get a reminder to consider contributing to the memorial scholarship fund founded in his name. I don’t need a reminder, though; Stanton and I have already committed to contributing every year for the rest of our lives. David was a great man, and he meant a lot to us.

The story of our life together, and the gift of our daughter in our life, begins with David Haas.

Another college friend read the following remembrance from Stanton and me at a Richmond, Va., memorial service for David in August of 2012 (we weren’t able to travel from San Antonio at the time). I share it here today to encourage you to keep in touch with the people you love, during this holiday season and always. Because I didn’t keep in touch with David, and it’s my deepest regret:

“David holds a meaningful place in our life, because he’s the one who introduced us. In our freshman year, Melissa was at a party at the PiKA lodge with some friends from her dorm. David and Stanton, along with some other Phi Delts, were across the room, and then David walked over and began chatting with Melissa and her friends. David and Melissa had already met in the first semester, and were study buddies at Boatwright.

For years, Stanton told the story of how we met like this. He would say: ‘I saw my friend David talking with five girls at a party—five girls!—and I thought, ‘I’ve got more game than David.’ So I went over and asked David to introduce me. Although the girl I really wanted to get to know was the one in the middle (Melissa).’

We wouldn’t have met that night, if it hadn’t been for David. We wouldn’t have become friends, become partners in life, become parents to our daughter Grace. The story of our life together, and the gift of our daughter in our life, begins with David Haas.

One of Stanton’s fondest memories of David is when they were on the show ‘While You Were Out.’ Stanton, David, and two other frat brothers went to the beach to do ‘brotherly’ things so that the Phi Delt lodge could be remodeled for a surprise reveal when they returned home. The weekend consisted of such manly activities as pottery painting, four-person bike riding, and sand castle building. The guys thought the video was being shot for the BBC, never to be seen in the States, so they went along with everything as good sports. In reality, their exploits were televised nationally. If anybody has a copy of the episode, they will get to see David as we all knew him: happy and full of life. He was also surprisingly good at painting pottery and driving the four-person bike.

A real regret in our life is that we didn’t keep in good touch with David after college. We saw him some after we graduated, and shared Facebook comments and messages here and there. But we neglected our relationship with the person who meant so much to our relationship. Sure, everyone gets busy, but it’s something we should have done better.

From now on, we’re going to tell the story of how we met a different way. We’re going to say, ‘A fun, fun-loving mutual friend introduced us. It was in college, at a party. It was when all our lives were just beginning, and we all thought we had all the time in the world to have fun together … and to say thank you.’

We didn’t say it then, and it’s too late to say it now, but we’ll say it anyway: Thank you, David. Thank you for introducing us. Thank you for getting us started on our journey, and we both look forward to sharing our gratitude with you when we see you again, on the other side of this life.

We love you, and we truly do thank you so much. You were an awesome person, and an awesome friend, and you will live on in our life, and in the life of our daughter, and in the lives of all the people whom you touched with your friendship.”

Winter-Weather Fun at Hobby Lobby

The recent cold temperatures have kept Little G and me indoors more than we like to be. So, I’ve been trying to think of some new inside-the-house activities to keep us entertained. DSCN5418

On Tuesday morning, we went to our music class. Little G loved clapping along to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” shaking her sillies out, and tapping her sticks in the air with a one, two, three. When the class ended, it was about 10:30 a.m. Little G looked at me and said, “What are we doing now, Mom?”

What indeed. My favorite activity, any time of the day, is a coffee break. One of my favorite local bakeries was across the street. But Little G had already had her fair share of baked goodies the past few days. And to be fair, so had I. So instead, we stopped at Hobby Lobby, in search of some winter-weather fun.

Moms of toddlers can appreciate this store’s wide selection of arts and crafts, from paints to cookie-making kits to origami. There’s even pink and blue hair chalk. 🙂

That morning, Little G and I wandered over to the Clearance section. Little G spied some discounted stamps: a little girl like herself, and a half-eaten apple with the slogan, “Apple-Tite for Life.” Ha, ha—I got it. And we got the stamps, along with two “My 1st ColorBox Child Safe Ink Pads.” My daughter was delighted. When we got home, she loved playing with her new winter-weather fun.

Some other ideas for where to find take-home entertainment include the children’s section at “everyday value” stores such as HomeGoods and Stein Mart, bookstores, and toy stores. Here in San Antonio, I love the locally owned and operated Toy Werks. Another local toy store with lots to offer is Toy Zone.

Have fun this winter, friends!