Friday, January 30, 2009

What I've Done

I saw this on Carolyn's blog and Peggy's blog, and decided what the heck, I'll do it too. Especially since I don't really have anything else to write about today.
This is one of those where you copy and paste the list and highlight/bold what you've done. (if anyone else does this, let me know so I can visit your list too)

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain hiking (part-way)

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise (a day one, not overnight)

33. Seen Niagra Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing (for real? no. On a wall? yes)

40. Seen Michelangelo's David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkeling, not scuba)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching (been dolphin watching, but not whale)

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (hiked 1/2 way down & back out too)

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone's life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

Okay, so I've been really bad about posting my Tackle it Tuesday recently (and Menu Plan Monday too, which is in the post below).

We've actually done quite a bit of tackling-type things in recent weeks, I'll post about two below.

First, I totally redid my approach to the chores. Without trying to be accusing, lets just say that almost everything continued to fall on my shoulders and I had to do something or I was going to go crazy.
I have had lists and charts and such for them in the past, but found that they get too "comfortable" with their chores and start slacking/not doing them. And of course the complaints and whining when they do do them. So, we're trying it from a different approach this time. We had a family meeting about it (our 1st family meeting ever!). Everyone is still responsible for the things like making their bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc., but all the other household "chores" are now typed on slips of paper and put into a container. Every Sunday night we ALL draw our chores for the week. Random, luck of the draw style. The boys draw 2, Joe and I draw 3 each. They each have "to do" lists for what to do each day, and we clip whatever chores they draw to their list.
So, it becomes kind-of a game, and I don't have to be the "bad guy" in telling them what to do, THEY drew it out themselves. And, if they hate the job, at least they know they only have it for a week and then get something else. Also, I think this will help them learn a variety of things, so when they are older and move out they will at least know HOW to do a variety of household chores. And, this gets Joe get actively involved too. theory it is a win-win-win, hopefully. Of course we have to help Adam with some things (for example, one of the jobs he drew was dishes! lol), but eventually they will learn. Oh, and for now until the boys are older, Joe will continue to do the mowing and I will continue to do the laundry and dinner (and Joe will ocassionally make dinner too), so those jobs are not part of the drawing process.

The other most recent "tackle" done by Joe was our faucets! The bathroom the boys use has one sink, and our bathroom has 2 sinks. All 3 had an old butt-ugly faucet, and Adam had a really hard time pulling it to turn on the water, so we always had to help him. I've been wanting them switched out since we moved in about 5-ish years ago, and now it has finally been done!



(Thanks Joe! They look SO much better!)

Weekend Recap and Menu Plan Monday Catch Up

Our date night went well Friday, and we enjoyed the hot wings and beer. The boys had a blast at Kids' Night too.

Saturday was a lot of rushing around, but went well. Brendan's basketball team had their pictures taken, and then had their game. After that we went to the Cub Scout Space Derby rocket races. We were surprised and excited that Brendan's rocket won every heat he was in, and then won in the finals, winning him a 1st place trophy! He was super excited!

I have been so bad about keeping up with Menu Plan Monday lately. So, even though I'm a day late (again) I am posting it anyway!

SUNDAY: Chicken Fajitas

MONDAY: Pot Roast w/ potatoes & carrots (crockpot)

TUESDAY: Italian Pasta Bake

WEDNESDAY: Cheese Filled Manicotti

THURSDAY: Quinoa & Shrimp

FRIDAY: Pizza/family night

SATURDAY: leftovers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Busy Saturday Ahead, and Book Recommendations?

Dang, I missed Tackle it Tuesday again this week. *sigh* I'll get back on schedule soon, I hope! We have done a lot of tackling too, I just haven't been good about getting it posted. Oh well, maybe next week.

This Friday Joe and I will have a date night, yea! We will drop the boys off at a local program, and then head out for hot wings and beer- our favorite treat to share together when the opportunity presents itself. So, I'm looking forward to that.

Saturday will be very busy. We need to pick up our Angel Food early in the morning, and then Brendan has his basketball game, team pictures, and then the Cub Scout Rocket Races. Did I mention that he really hasn't even started on his rocket yet? lol So he will be working hard on that tonight and tomorrow night.

As for me, aside from the daily grind, I've actually been kinda caught up in a book I was reading...yes, a book! I haven't read a book for myself in a long time, probably not since having kids. I'm trying to get back into reading. Anyway, I ended up really enjoying the book- The Witness by Sandra Brown. I like the mystery/thriller/on-the-edge-of-your-seat/twist in plot type books, and this book had enough of that to keep me interested. Next I will be reading a book a friend recommended, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, and I am a big Stephen King fan. It will be interesting to see what a book by his son is like. It is supposed to be a "chilling thriller" so I'm thinking I will like it.

If anyone has any good book recommendations that are thriller/on-the-edge-of-your-seat/twist in plot type books, let me know!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Again

Wow, here it is Friday again! This week has been a fairly productive one, both at work and home. Our new family chore system (I'll post in more detail about that on Tackle it Tuesday) is working like a charm so far, and I must say that I have been so much happier this week than I've been in a long time. One small change can make a world of difference! I feel like the "real" me is finally coming back to the surface...the happy, positive, laid back one, not the bitchy, stressed and insane one. LOL Joe, if you're reading this- THANK YOU for being willing to go along with this new plan for our family, it has helped me so much, and I'm so happy to have your help with things again! I feel like a horrible ball of stress and resentment weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Love you!

Anyway, on to other things. Let's see...the mommy-son date with Brendan went well last Friday. I took him too see Tale of Despereaux, and he enjoyed it. We both ate too much popcorn, but that's part of the fun, right?

Saturday Brendan had his first basketball game of the season. It went well- his team did SOOO much better than last year. Brendan has improved a lot too- he got his first basket in a game. (he's made several baskets in practice, but this was the first during an actual game). Go Brendan! We have another game tomorrow. We are also trying to knock out a bunch of his Cub Scout requirements.

Joe is also almost done with the mudroom! Woohoo! Just a few little finishing touches to go. Then he goes back to working on the laundry room downstairs. It will sure be nice once everything is done. I'm so excited for that day! I'll try to post some pics soon...the mudroom is SO tiny that it is hard to get any pics in there that look like anything. I'll try though.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Mommy-Son Date Night

Tonight after work, Brendan and I are going out to a movie, just the two of us. He picked Tale of Despereaux for us to go see. I'm looking forward to it, I love to go to the movie theater, even if it is for a kid movie. Brendan is my movie-going buddy, just like me he loves to go see movies at the theater. This is part of a new plan we are trying this year in our family. I wanted a way to be sure that we are spending some one-on-one time with each of the boys. So, our plan is that each month on the boys' birth dates we will schedule some time with them. So, since Brendan's b-day is on Nov 9, the 9th of every month either Joe or I will take time with Brendan, and on the 26th of every month one of us will take time with just Adam. And we'll alternate. So, for January, I take Brendan out on the 9th and Joe takes Adam on the 26th. Then in Feb on the 9th Joe will do something with Brendan and Feb 26 I will do something with Adam. And we'll keep alternating throughout the year. (by putting it on their birth date of each month it makes it easy to remember! lol). And, the other part of that plan, is that since parents desperately need a little break once in awhile, on the 3rd of every month Joe will get a few hours break from the kids to do what he wants, and on the 14th of every month I will get a little break. I'm really excited about this new plan. I think it has the potential to do wonders for improving the well-being of our family even better than it already is!

So, tonight is my night with Brendan. I requested to have Brendan this month, because I feel like I kinda owe it to him. I have really been coming down hard on him lately. Granted, it was because of things *he* was doing or not doing, so he kinda deserved it, but still I think now it's time for some fun time together. He is super excited too.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Had to Share

I haven't really talked much about it on here, but I sponsor a family in the rural, very poor Mississippi Delta area, through an organization called The Box Project. I was matched with this family a little over 3 years ago. It is a single mom and her two daughters. The mom and I send letters back and forth, and each month I send a box of things they may need. You can read more details about the process on The Box Project's website. What I really like about it is that you really know where your donations are going, and you hear the effects it has on their family. It's not like a charity organization where you just blindly give money and never really know where it goes or what good it did. You also start to develop a friendship with the family, which they are in need of too- knowing there's someone out there that cares about them, and even hearing advice on situations they face, or help with how to better manage their money, make good decisions in life, etc. Anyway, I didn't mean to make this post sound like an ad, but I do think it is a really great program, so I will say that if you and your family are wanting to help someone in a meaningful way throughout the year (not just at Christmas, although they have that option too), you might be interested in getting matched with a family through The Box Project.

My real point in this post was just that I wanted to share the really sweet letter I received after Christmas from the family. It brightened my day, and makes me so happy that I am a part of this...

Dear Courtney,

Hey, how's everyone doing? Hope ya'll had a great Christmas. Thanks to you we did and I love you for being a nice, caring person. Just when I think nobody cares you show me that you do. So I just want to say thanks a whole lot for all that you do cause I know you don't have to. So from me and the kids thanks and love you a lot.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year's Recap

Whew! What a hectic couple of weeks it has been. I *will* be better about blogging and visiting all of your blogs again soon, now that things should start to slow down some.

On New Year's Eve, I worked as usual, but this year Joe brought the boys to the event I was working at that evening. They had fun making masks, noisemakers and crowns:

Then afterwards I did make it home before midnight (shortly after 11pm). To my surprise, the boys were still up. They had decided to try to make it to midnight this year. So, I ended up getting to spend a little time (about 40 minutes) with the family at home afterall.

(Playing games)

(taking silly self-portraits)

Then, at 5 minutes 'til midnight, we looked over and saw this...

They almost made it! lol Maybe next year.