A few things…

I’ve got a few random updates and one kid tip from a friend. 

First, the implementation of the lessons in grace this past week went pretty well.  I lived just a little slower, a little more genuine because of my focus on trying to be more graceful towards others.  I also had to learn to be a little more patient, but I was rewarded with grace in return.

Outward grace is admirable and all.  But, inward grace should be present, as well.  With all of the stress associated with the holidays, this is one to remember.  Be nice to yourself.  Don’t judge yourself to harshly – keep your personal expectations realistic and kind.  Every item in the grace blog post can be turned inward. 

On another note, I finally got around to making the avocado chocolate pudding that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  I made the whole Chocolate torte recipe from Oh She Glows.  I had to use a glass pie dish and I had to shave off some of the extra crust to make it happen.  But, that’s okay because I pressed the extra into 2 little ramikens and topped those with the pudding.  This gave me a chance to sample the dessert before Thanksgiving Day! 

It was delicious and I couldn’t taste the avocado when it was chilled.  The pudding and crust combo was very decadent.  It was super chocolatey!

And, finally… a recipe that I’m “dying” to try on the next warm weekend we have… though, I realize it may be a while now that we’re heading into winter!

!!!      Homemade Sidewalk Chalk   !!!

Photo credit: lopezfamilynow.wordpress.com

Made from corn starch, water, and food dye.

Check out Val’s post here.  Her adorable kids help to make this look fun.  I can’t wait to try it with my kids.  I just gotta find some bigger paint brushes first. 

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

Lessons in grace

According to www.thefreedictionary.com, grace is defined as...

1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.  2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement. 3. A sense of fitness or propriety. 4. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill. 5. Mercy; clemency. 6. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence. 7. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

Also:

  1. Graces Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.
  2. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
  3. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
  4. An excellence or power granted by God.
  5. A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal.

Recently, I feel I’m lacking in grace with those closest to me.  I find myself score-keeping, judging, and feeling downright unappreciated.  I know that I need to act with more grace, and I will feel it come back at me.  There really isn’t any reason to act the way I have been.  So… I am writing this here to hold myself accountable.  Here is my top grace goals:

  1. Be nice.  Be compassionate.  Be respectful. Use “Thank You” and “please” when asking for a favor or a service.  You are not owed anything just because of your presence/age/race/salary/gender/etc.
  2. Don’t judge those around you – don’t pretend to know their motives for doing what they do or acting the way they do.  Just don’t do it!
  3. Don’t spread or look for gossip.  Keep to your own business.
  4. In dealing with difficult people, keep the conversation simple and respectful.
  5. Forgive and forget.  There is no final score. 
  6. A different approach/idea/perspective is not wrong… it’s just different.
  7. Stay present in the moment.  Don’t dwell on the past or what is yet to come.
  8. Express your emotions in a healthy way.  Label the feeling, process it – simmer in it a little, come up with an action to mitigate it, and let it get to work.
  9. Realize that some things are bigger than you.  At the end of the day, the only thing you can control is you.

After reading this list, I would have to say the absence of grace is ugly/mean/controlling/lazy/anxious/petty/spastic/rude/self-centered.  Ugh!  I choose grace.

What you thought you wanted…

As captured from the Shopstyle.com website.

When I was a senior in high school, I told the video log at senior breakfast that in 10 years time I wanted to live on a ranch.  Seriously!  I’ve always been a city girl and my only experience with the country was summer camp taking care of horses… and the rare camping experience (summer camp, again). 

Then again, I never would’ve dreamed I’d be a Naval Officer living in places of the country I’d only heard about but never visited.  I never thought I’d like to clean or cook or garden or grocery shop or do dishes (and I’ve found my zen in all those).  I never thought I’d enjoy being a mom this much! 

On the flip side, I also never thought I’d get divorced, have post-partum depression, start to really find myself at 31 years old, or be a cat person (see my previous post).    It’s been an adventurous ride up ’til now.  I’ve learned A LOT along the way and I’m finally growing up and owning my experiences (good and bad).  There’s a lot in life, love, and possessions that I thought I always wanted.  My expectations are becoming more realistic.  I realize now that…

  1. life is what you make it 
  2. love is an absolute necessity – but takes patience and nurturing to grow
  3. possessions are just things that take up space

One more thing that I thought I wanted was a black/white striped shirt.  I tried on a copy of the one at the top (much cheaper than that) and it anti-flattered my pear-shaped body.  No luck with the other ones I tried on – many can be seen here.

A Cat Person?

I never have classified myself as a cat person.  I grew up with dogs.  At any one time, we always had at least two dogs in the house.  It wasn’t until I got married – actually shortly after we got married that I got my first cat, Phoebe.  Phoebe was a kitten.  Spunky, playful, and lonely.

Phoebe, in my arms, drinking water

So, we got Piper.  Piper was a year old when we got her.  She and her litter had been rescued from the streets.  She’s not the smartest cookie but I’ve always felt like she could fend for herself in the wild if need be.  It was us and the two cats – until we got a dog, that is.

Piper - she was always too wiggly to capture on film.

Fast forward a few years and we’re ending our military familydom and coming by to civilian life.  A big move to Texas had us wondering if we should keep all 3 pets.  It was decided that we would keep the dog and find homes for the two cats.  A family member that runs a nursing home wanted to take Piper.  She was friendly, didn’t play much, and sought to be petted by anyone.  We found a home for Phoebe, too.  A friend of the real estate agent selling our home had just lost a pet and desired a full-grown cat.  This would be the end of my short-lived almost cat person years.

The nursing home for Piper fell through.  After an unsuccessful post to Craigslist for Piper, it was decided she could stay.  Piper and the dog moved to Texas with us and the two kids.

Though she stayed, I still kept her at a distance knowing that she wasn’t supposed to be here.  I kept her fed, clean, and made sure she had a warm place to sleep. As her owner it was my obligation to do so until she died.  The few times she got out and went off to be a “wild cat,” I quietly hoped she’d find a new family that would appreciate her more than I do.  The kids loved her because she was attentive to their desires to interact with them.  They would have missed her.  However, she always came back.  The last few chances she had to run away, she didn’t. I found her not wanting to leave validated me as a person in a way that I really needed at the time.

It wasn’t until recently when I took her to the vet to get her ears checked that things changed.  She had both a yeast infection and a bacterial infection in both ears.  The treatment required me chasing her down and putting drops in her ears twice a day.  She caught on quickly and averted me at every chance.  Maybe she’s a smart cookie, afterall.  I grew frustrated and weary.  A checkup at the vet told me that we could have her ears packed with medication instead.

We made an appointment to get her ears packed right away.  The procedure involved cleaning her ears, first.  As I watched her struggle with the cleaning and the antibiotic application, I felt empathy for my poor cat.  I felt something when I hadn’t felt anything but obligation and guilt before.   I had detached myself from her for the last 4+ years thinking that she wasn’t supposed to be my cat.  But, now she is.

To kill a tree, or not to kill a tree

Below the signature line in recent emails I’ve received, I’ve noticed a statement similar to one of the following:

  • Think before you print this document
  • Save money. Save a tree. Please print responsibly

I’m a mom to two kids who still bring home handmade art and a worker bee in an industry with a lot of red tape – I can’t go a day without being inundated with paper. Everyday I’m filing papers, sorting out recyclables, and trying to figure out what I have to (should) keep.  As a budding minimalist, I’m disturbed by all the paper.  Yet, here as I type this, there’s “work-in-progress” all over my desk. 

Here’s a few fun facts:

  • For every ton of recycled paper it can save up to 17 trees.
  • The estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high.
  • The average office worker in the US uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • Every time paper is recycled, the fibers get shorter. After being recycled five to seven times, the fibers become too short to bond into new paper. New fibers are added to replace the unusable fiber that wash out of the pulp during the recycling process.  —Just another reason to limit your use of paper and not rely on recycling alone.
  • 10,000 trees are cut down annually in China to make Holiday Cards
  • About 89 percent of newspaper and 81 percent of corrugated cardboard were recovered in 2009. —Yay!

What can we do about it:

  • Only print records that must be preserved in paper format
  • Use your phone instead for shopping lists, phone numbers, and reminders of appts instead of post-its.
  • Send email memos instead of handouts and fliers
  • Send evites (internet-based invitations)
  • Don’t send out paper Christmas cards
  • Ask for all your bills to be emailed
  • View your magazines online or on an e-reader
  • Cancel catalog services and view the online catalog

Bottom line:  Don’t kill a tree — when you can avoid it. 

Artwork by me.  Feel free to print it out and post it next to your printer — just kidding.  Please don’t print.

For information, see the following links. 

My sources:

  1. www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html
  2. http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm
  3. http://www.id2.ca/downloads/eco-design-paper-facts.pdf