Old Year Resolutions

geocaching profile

There’s one month left in the year. I have two rather nerdy resolutions for the remainder of 2013.

1. Geocaching: get to 300 caches found.

I started geocaching on January 5 as an activity to do with my kids (and to keep up with my weekday hiking pal Debbie, who is a geocaching master – I sometimes refer to myself as her Padawan) but I quickly caught the bug and I love to do it alone or with adults, too. I have found caches in 7 different different states! I have probably introduced the hobby to dozens of people over this year. Most look at me like I’m crazy (or at least super nerdy) but some get excited about it and want to try it too.

I have found and logged 270 caches as of the end of November. Might as well try for an even 300 by December 31!

2. Blogging: wipe the slate clean, literally, of review posts

Given my need to make some more $$$ to close the gap in our family’s budget, I’ve been writing for dollars more and for the love less. My least favorite task is to write about something I got for free. It’s nice to get things for free because their makers want me to broadcast my good opinion of their products, but as I’ve been saying in my latest disclaimers, you can’t pay the bills with nail polish/cute dresses/insert product here. I want to write for either love or money (or in the best case, both) but no longer for free product. It’s just not worth the time.

That’s not to say that the products and services I accepted in exchange for posts about them are not worth investigating in general. I have some wonderful things left on my white board, from a sob-inducing novel to a handy Velcro ice pack, from profound, life-changing “health coaching” to a tasty alternative to fried French fries. I plan to knock out those posts by December 31 to close out the PR campaigns and wipe my slate clean, leaving room for assignments that have dollar signs next to them, or white space to inspire my imagination.

With the holidays coming and the kids off of school and the other billion things going on, I don’t know if I can hit these two goals, but it would be so lovely if I could! Do you have anything you want to wrap up by the end of this year?

Thanks For the Giving

dressed up boys on thanksgiving

I never felt more like the matriarch of my little family than yesterday, Thanksgiving Day. I spent most of the day cooking or doing laundry, and by the time we sat down to eat, all the dishes were delicious and still warm, and everyone was dressed up for the occasion, even though we didn’t go anywhere and nobody came to us.

The lovely dinner couldn’t have happened quite the way it did without everyone’s help, though.

My parents were visiting from Connecticut, so my mom helped in the kitchen. My dad took the boys to the park. Later, Stewart kept an eye on them when they frolicked around in their traditional Thanksgiving Day mud puddle.

thanksgiving mudslide
Well, it’s a tradition now.

With no real agenda for the day, I concentrated on the cooking – making sure all dishes would be hot when they got to the table, despite my toy-sized oven in my tiny kitchen that can only fit a small turkey and barely anything else. We ordered the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls from a local grocery store. I made a bourbon vanilla cranberry sauce, a traditional green bean casserole, and carmelized Brussels sprouts, and my mother made candied carrots. We poured a lovely zinfandel to accompany it all.

The kids were very helpful, too. I suggested to Brady that we all dress “fancy,” and he enthusiastically agreed. He wore his fancy jacket and fancy hat, and even combed his hair.

brady combs hair

His energy was infectious. Kyle donned his First Communion suit. Stewart whipped out a salwar kameez that a student had given him a while ago that he has never worn. Kyle picked out a dress for me and urged me to wear lipstick. My mom donned a beautiful new sweater with matching jewelry. Even my dad put on a dress(ier) polo shirt.

stew in salwar kameez

And Kyle, in his fancy suit, took on the role of waiter. He drew up formal menus for the meal, and acted like a waiter in a fancy restaurant, urging us to retire to the “luxury room” after we ate to wait while the dishes were cleaned before returning for dessert (homemade pumpkin pie, which turned out great).

After we ate we took a walk around the neighborhood. It was 59 degrees and just lovely. We rounded out the day watching Home Alone, which is Brady’s favorite movie, reserved for Christmas time.

I guess it’s Christmas time now.

Wordless Wednesday: Wii Family

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Props to the co-owner of Frost It Cupcakery in Thousand Oaks CA, who delivered these to my house personally. Swoon.

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Quick and Easy – My Kind of Holiday

Every holiday season, people look for ways to put a personal stamp on gift-giving or gestures of kindness or even to adopt traditions that make the holidays feel like their own.

mykindofholiday screenshot

I have developed a few things that I do with the kids for Christmas. We drive around town looking at holiday lights while drinking hot chocolate, usually on Christmas Eve while Daddy is helping prepare the house for Santa. We bake a ton of cookies to give to our neighbors with a little greeting tag included to remind them that we are thinking of them. And for gifts for our teachers and community members, well, that’s what we decided do show you in this video.

Target recently asked me what special things I like to do to make Christmas my kind of holiday. Watch as we have a ball assembling these inexpensive but lovely little gifts for the special teachers in our kids’ lives:


Please enable Javascript to watch this video

What inspires you and tells you it’s holiday season (finally!), and what are your own unique traditions? Share them on social media using the hashtag #mykindofholiday so we can follow along! Obviously, mine is going to involve chocolate chips and hot chocolate. Are you sensing a theme here?

artwork by Kyle!

artwork by Kyle!

This post is sponsored by Target.