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Friday, December 31, 2010

More X, Less Y: My Hopes for 2011

Hello again, readers. I hope you enjoyed the Holidays and find yourself ready for a fresh start!

As the clock ticks 2010 into history, I have been reflecting on the past and anticipating the clean slate of January 1.

For my family, 2010 was filled with several little milestones: I started this blog and started getting together every month or so with a group of Moms in my neighborhood, both of which have been really fulfilling. We took our first family vacation. The Bear started walking and talking. The Bear started preschool. The Husband finally got a surround sound system. (Two long years after we finished our basement!) The Doodles continued her pursuits of brief, maniacal bark-fests in the backyard followed by long, seemingly endless naps.

2010 also brought two precious little babies into our lives, and I would be remiss to neglect mentioning both. In March, the daughter of my best friend from childhood was born. We have not met her yet (as she lives states away) but hope that 2011 will give us the opportunity to hold her in our arms and hear her precious laugh.

In September we welcomed our nephew and godson. He is the sweetest little baby, and my sister-in-law makes life with a toddler and a newborn look so effortless that the Husband and I just might reconsider all our "one and done" talk.

This week I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming year and how I might reinvent myself in 2011. I do this every year and find it a productive exercise -- even if few of my resolutions ever stick past Valentine's Day! I love a lot about my life, but I also enjoy the hope of new possibilities.

This week I kept thinking of the phrase "More Joy, Less Shame" which is the title of an Ani DiFranco EP that features several remixes of her song "Joyful Girl." I really like how this phrase states an intention in a way that is specific, but not so specific and far-reaching that accomplishing it seems impossible.

And I resolve to improve myself in the new year, I find myself thinking of resolutions that mirror DiFranco's phrasing. Here they are:

More giving, less taking

More fruits and vegetables, less empty carbs

More exercise, less excuses not to exercise

More weekends attending church, less excuses to stay home

More praying, less worrying

More gratefulness, less wanting what I don't have

More moments in the moment with my family, less moments captivated by something stupid on the television

More reading, less wishing I had more time to read

More calls and emails to friends, less "Oh my gosh, I have been meaning to call you, but I have been so busy!"

More action, less talk

Please share your hopes for 2011. What do you want more of? What do you want less of?

Happy new year!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November in Review, Part I: SICKNESS, CHICKEN, AND PIE

Rabbit, rabbit! Today is December 1!

Wait, wasn't it just November 1?

Seriously, um...what??? For me much of the last 30 days has been a manic blur...All apologies to my followers who've missed reading my posts.  (Yes, to the one or two of you who noticed my silence, I'm so sorry! And by the way, it was so nice of you to notice!)

Obviously, I overdramatize, but in all seriousness, this budding blogger is supposed to be posting at least once a week (preferably twice). That is my commitment to myself...something that is necessary to build my audience. But in November...I blew it!

For the most part, November 2010 was a month filled with sickness (of the common cold variety) and my own crazy pursuits (which did not include blogging).

Yes, blogging regularly became a distant goal in the face of a sick Bear, who got me sick, and then the Husband...and then me again! Last week, during Cold #2  I slept three nights on the pull-out couch in the basement just so the Husband could sleep peacefully while I tossed and turned amidst hacking  coughs and repeated nose-blowing misery. Thankfully, the Doodles was there, a warm ball of snoring fur, who was so pleased to have a napping companion that she did not seem to mind all the common cold commotion.

I think -- and I say this ever fearful of the possibility that I could jinx us all -- but I think we are all better now. And hopefully, we will stay healthy into the new year.

Common cold be damned, because, as I reflect on November, I realize that I did a lot -- despite the cold.  The Husband and I celebrated our "anniversary" (more on that later) and then the Husband's "double three" birthday. Also, in between Cold #1 and Cold #2 this home cook threw her own little "Chicken Fest" which entailed roasting a whole chicken, preparing homemade chicken stock, and using leftover chicken to make other meals. (And yes, I intend to post on Chicken Fest in the near future!)

I suppose I cannot mention Chicken Fest without also telling this funny (albeit embarrassing) story: Chicken Fest really only happened because I was at Whole Foods early one Monday hoping to pick up a roaster chicken ($5.99 special on Mondays). Little did I know, the chickens don't come out of the oven until 10:30. Who knew? Not wanting to wait, I decided to roast a chicken myself. Fortuitously, I had the iPad with me so I looked up the Barefoot Contessa's roasted chicken recipe, picked up the ingredients and got to work. Little did I know, by the time Whole Food's chickens were out of the oven, I was back at the store, telling the customer service desk: "Yes, I'm the idiot who left her iPad in a shopping cart in the parking lot..."

And then there was "Pie Fest"! I made an apple pie for the Husband's birthday (one of his favorites) and the week of Thanksgiving I made three pumpkin pies, one squash pie, and one sorghum pecan pie. That's six pies for those of you keeping track at home. And I have one more crust in the freezer! Pie Fest started sometime after Cold #1 but continued into Cold #2. Consequently, Pie Fest involved a lot of OCD-style hand washing. I also baked with a drywall mask over my mouth and nose (until the Vick's Vapor Rub I'd applied on my upper lip started burning my eyes). On Thanksgiving Day I told the fam that although I'd practiced the best ever kitchen hygiene, they wouldn't hurt my feelings a bit if they opted to pass on the pies. (After all, that would just leave more pie for me!)

I suppose it's a good thing I started a fitness program just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure exactly what motivated me to do so -- the friend who suspected (incorrectly) that I was pregnant, or perhaps my own sense that I'd be eating a lot of pie in the near future. I was standing in line at the supermarket when I saw one of those Prevention booklets with this headline: "Walk Off 10 Pounds in Four Weeks." On impulse I bought it, knowing that I would have to stick to it for at least a month (or else face ridicule from the Husband for blowing $4 on an impulse buy that was later tossed into the recycle bin).

Right now I'm in week three of the plan. Truth be told, Cold #1 and Cold #2, combined with the flurry of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday have prevented me from sticking to the plan as faithfully as I'd hoped. I'm not even sure I've lost a single pound, but at this point I don't really care because I've had so much more energy during these last three weeks that I actually look forward to my nightly date with the treadmill. Also, on Black Friday I bought a pair of Ann Taylor Loft cords in a size I hadn't purchased since before becoming pregnant with the Bear. So...considering the volume of pie crust I've consumed in the last week (both raw and cooked), even though the number on the scale hasn't changed all that much, this walking program is looking like a success...

Geez, it sure is getting late! And I haven't even gotten into all my crazy pursuits. I will definitely have to get to all that later.

To be continued,