Nov 072013
My one Halloween-clothing purchase this year was a pair of hilarious glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas for my son.

My one Halloween-clothing purchase this year was a pair of hilarious glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas for my son.

It’s a new month and a new time change to boot! Before I launch into some new topics for November, it’s time to recap the posts on homeschool organization from September and October.


HOMESCHOOL ORGANIZATION POSTS

This post earned a “retweet” from Carolina Pad, one of the most innovative producers of school supplies. I was honored.

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BOOK REVIEWS:

Continuing the education theme by enhancing my own education on organization and writing.

It is also part of my ongoing education to witness how kind and generous these successful authors are in recognizing all of their reviewers. What an example to follow!

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ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES: HEALTH

It is time to get ready for cold and flu season. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, there’s still time but get on this now before Thanksgiving travel season brings with it traveling germs.

OTHER TRICKS AND TREATS OF OCTOBER

I shared with you our Halloween costumes this year but there were other celebrations going on behind the scenes as well.

TREATS

We’ll start off with the positive, there were many treats of October

Diplomatic Skeletons

A coloring sheet at the Dem Bones event.

A coloring sheet at the Dem Bones event.

Our local library held a wonderful event for October. In Fredericksburg, Halloween is a polarizing holiday. Some people celebrate it with relish (like us) and others find it demonic and against their religion. Our local library wading carefully into this fray, created an event called “Dem Bones.” While having applications to Halloween, they kept it strictly an informational event about skeletons and the bones in the human body. I thought it was a brilliant idea and an excellent example of Virginia’s “purple” state diplomacy. The children built skeletons out of Q-tips and filled in a diagram with the names of various bones.

The last activity, however, was the best. The children laid down on a long sheet of butcher paper and had their bodies traced. They then cut out various bones and pasted them where they went. It was a little creepy at first to see my children reduced to their bones but also a chance to appreciate the beautiful complexity that is the human body. The skeletons made terrific Halloween decorations and also give me a record of my children’s height. It will be fun to unroll them next year and see how much everyone has grown.

My skeletonized children.

My skeletonized children.

Dancing Skeletons

We made a trip to Richmond to celebrate Latin Ballet of Virginia‘s Dia de los Muertos festival. My children have greatly enjoyed their summer camp and I thought it would be a great enhancement to my children’s Spanish lessons.

I know almost nothing about Dia de los Muertos, which means “Day of the Dead.” From what I observed, it is sort of like a cross between Halloween and All Saints Day. It is a chance to remember those who have died but also have a little bit of fun with skeletons and costumes. The costumes and decorations are elegant and poetic, almost tragic, remembering loves lost. There are altars with colorful flowers and photographs of loved ones who have passed on. It was an interesting twist on Halloween and I quite liked it. One author predicts that Dia de los Muertos festivities will become more and more infused into American Halloween traditions over time.

Lawanda Raines Giunti, stunning in her Dia de los Muertos costume.

Lawanda Raines Giunti, stunning in her Dia de los Muertos costume.

Making lollipop spiders.

Making lollipop spiders.

A tiny skeleton shadow box on one of the altars.

A tiny skeleton shadow box on one of the altars.

More skeletons with flowers.

More skeletons with flowers.

The elegant Ana Ines King in her Dia de los Muertos costume and my daughter, the Spanish "prodigy."

The elegant Ana Ines King in her Dia de los Muertos costume and my daughter, the Spanish “prodigy.”

Some of the dancers remembered us from summer camp. The best moment, however, was when my 5-year old proudly announced to the always elegantly dressed Ana Ines King, director of Latin Ballet of Virginia, “I speak Spanish too!”

“Oh dear,” I thought, since our Spanish is still a meager collection of words at this point.

“Oh, really?” Ms. King replied, amused at such a statement. “Como estas?”

My daughter looked at her and smiled, having no idea that she had just been asked, “How are you?”

“Yes, we know a few words . . . ” I interjected. The only phrase that was immediately coming to mind, however, was the title of the story we were reading that week, ” . . like palomitas de maiz.”

“Oh,” Ms. King said with a smile. “Palomitas de maiz are delicious.” To my great joy, I had pronounced it correctly enough that she understood what I said.

“Popcorn!” my little one clarified and was so proud of herself for demonstrating her expert knowledge of Spanish. I was proud of her too for having such confidence.

TREAT-LIKE TRICKS

Semi-professional photos

My copyright "violation" notice.

My copyright “violation” notice.

I took some “school” photos of my children in our backyard amongst the fall leaves and had them printed at Wal-Mart. When I went to pick them up, the clerk told me that there was a copyright issue with the photos. Copyright was a particular interest of mine in law school so I knew there was absolutely no copyright issue. “I don’t understand,” I said. “I took these photos myself in my backyard.” At this point, two other clerks came over to examine my photos. They pulled out each one and started discussing the merits of my photography. “Yeah, I guess these aren’t professional pictures.” While it was at first an honor to have my personal photography confused for professional portraits, it then became more like a forum for open criticism as they pointed out the various flaws of my pictures. One was too fuzzy for their taste and in another I didn’t airbrush out a small wound on my son’s forehead from his latest escapade. I left with mixed emotions about my pictures.

The Meaning of “Fundamental”

My challenge for October was to complete the free course Google was offering called “Digital Analytics Fundamentals.” This was pitched as a course where you would gain a greater understanding of Google Analytics, which is the tool most websites, including mine, use to track data such as how many visitors you are receiving, which posts are the most popular and what keyword searches people are doing to find your website. I liked the word “Fundamentals” in the title of this course and hoped it would be a very basic introduction. There were 6 lessons to complete and Google estimated this would take a around 4-6 hours to complete.

Lessons 1-3 were fairly simple and were basically a business overview of why you strategically would use a program like Google Analytics and how you would structure it at a high level. Then in Lesson 4, we dove right into using the software. You had to set up a test account and figure out how to do the tasks described in the lesson. There were no easy step-by-step directions. You just had to figure it out yourself. If you are a programmer or a system administrator, this would probably be easy but it took me quite some time. Clearly Google sets a higher bar for “fundamental.” Lessons 5 and 6 built on these concepts and were equally challenging. There was a time deadline to finish all the lessons and I ended up trying to cram them in on the last day. I ran short on time and decided that I would try my luck on the exam even though I hadn’t finished every single one of the lessons.

I was fortunate that most of the exam seemed focused on the first 5 lessons. You had to score at least 80% to pass. How did I do?

Results of my Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals exam.

Results of my Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals exam.

I did pick up several key pieces of information from the training . . . nothing that sheds light on the Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mind you, but some things that will help me personally with my data analysis.

TRICKS

The Fredericksburg area lost access to its Civil War battlefield parks during the shutdown.

The Fredericksburg area lost access to its Civil War battlefield parks during the shutdown.

Honestly, the biggest and only “trick” of October was the government shutdown. While we weren’t directly impacted by the shutdown, it gave us all a good scare and made us a bit more cautious in our planning.

Have an tricks or treats or lessons learned from October that you wish to share? Please do so in the comments.

Posted by anne Tagged with: ,
Sep 052013

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It’s back to school week and this week we are adjusting to the new demands of our homeschool schedule. This month I will be devoting to educational topics as there are certainly a lot of organizing challenges that go along with school. But first, I wanted to briefly recap summer’s blog posts.

As with last summer, my children and I were busy traveling and participating in various camps and educational opportunities. Last summer, I had a great time with all these activities but simply found it too overwhelming to blog about any of it. This year, while I wasn’t able to keep to any predefined schedule, I did manage to blog about the interesting things we have seen. I am glad to have this as a record for our family and glad that many of you have commented that you were interested to hear about these adventures as well! I also learned on Twitter yesterday that Virginia set tourism records in 2012. It will be interesting to see if this holds for 2013 as well.

This summer was packed with various birthday and other celebrations for our family. While most of these events did not hit the blog, I shared with you the simple Father’s Day cards we sent this year. Having some simple, non-stressful homemade crafts up your sleeve is one of the best skills to develop as a mom and these cards definitely fall in that category. From the many amazing aunts and grandparents I have and have been fortunate to have, I have learned that taking time to remember all these small events–even when you are tremendously busy yourself– means so much more to the recipient than you will ever know. So, if you are one of those people who faithfully sends Facebook birthday greetings or emails or even snail-mailed cards during the holidays, and you aren’t sure if it is worth the bother, allow me on behalf of the universe to say that it has made a world of difference to someone to be remembered so kindly and thank you for your efforts!

I posted about our family room flooring project, replacing carpeting with stained-to-match hardwood flooring. Over the summer, as we did some entertaining in our home, we received several positive comments on how this project turned out. We are still allowing the floor to cure at the moment but are making grand plans for moving back in around Christmastime.

I gave a report of my first time ever visit to the homeschool convention sponsored by HEAV. I continue to benefit from so much of the advice and information I received there. I would highly recommend that any homeschooler ensure they are attending a conference like this once a year.

I also gave a report of my visit to the National Gallery of Art exhibit on Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes. While you may or may not see a connection between the arts and organizing, I find the arts a tremendous source of inspiration. I also hope that my small efforts in blogging may encourage more people to incorporate more art into their own lives. In a prior post, I wrote about our visit to The Washington Ballet’s spring performance at TheARC.

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This post was favorite-d and retweeted by The Washington Ballet on Twitter and I also was enormously thrilled to receive this comment on the post by one of the young male dancers in the show.

Yesss thanks for the compliment on my Technique nd how i was a standout

I reviewed the fantastic book and pattern book companion for The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches by knitter and author Cheryl Potter. Ms. Potter left a kind comment for me:

Thank you for taking the time to read my book and write a review. I love hearing what readers think of The Broken Circle and the patterns that go with.
Cheryl

It is one of the great rewards of a blogger to receive a comment like this. Authors and prospective authors, please take note that you can earn yourself tremendous goodwill by trying to comment, Tweet, etc. with appreciation for each positive review. I continue to be enamored of the Skye’s Traveling Cloak pattern from her book. Over the Labor Day weekend, Ms. Potter had a terrific yarn sale going on in her Potluck Yarn Shop and I picked up some amazing hand-dyed yarn from her Potluck Yarn collection to make it with.

In other comment news, it was fun to get a comment thread going on my old post about topiaries. A reader commented with a question about how to read Mike and Marliss Stribbling. Mike Stribbling himself commented:

We do not have a website but if you need info on Topiary drop us a line and we will give you all the help you need within 24 hours

Behind the scenes, I connected the reader with Mike’s email address. If spam weren’t such an enormous problem, I would post it here for everyone. Mike sent me a nice note that he enjoyed my post as well. It’s always fun to see how people connect with words that you have written.

So, while we still have 16 days until summer officially ends, we, like most families, are transitioning into a fall mode at the moment. This month will give you a little peek into how school works in our house as well as share some clever education ideas from others and discuss how our routines in general are changing with the seasons. Hope you enjoy!

Posted by anne Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Aug 302013
Do we love Virginia?  Yes, we do!  Discovering the Love wagon in Ashland.

Do we love Virginia? Yes, we do! Discovering the Love wagon in Ashland.

While my 20 days in Richmond series is a bit of a departure from my regular organizing-themed posts, I hope you have enjoyed this portrait of a Virginia summer. Today, I will wrap up our journey and provide some highlights and a summary.

On Day 20, we revisited another of our favorite spots, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts but it wasn’t exactly a repeat because there was a new exhibit to enjoy.

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Dorothy and Herbert Vogel were an ordinary couple in New York City. He was a postal worker and she a librarian. They loved the arts and they devoted one of their salaries to the purchase of art. They purchased numerous then-unknown artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s, focusing primarily on drawings as that was all that would fit in their small apartment. Herbert passed away in 2012 but the Vogels left an incredible art legacy. They have built one of the greatest collections of 20th-century art and inspired and supported numerous artists in the process. Their collection was so great that they were able to give 50 works to one art museum in each of the fifty states. This exhibit showcased the 50 works the VMFA received.

The most fascinating works in the collection were by minimalist artist Richard Tuttle. His works literally looked like one stroke of a pencil or one blob of paint on a piece of scratch paper. Tuttle’s works weren’t appreciated at first and the Vogel’s support of his work meant the world to him.

A Richard Tuttle line drawing.

A Richard Tuttle line drawing.

Richard Tuttle's thoughts on his patrons Herb and Dorothy Vogel.

Richard Tuttle’s thoughts on his patrons Herb and Dorothy Vogel.

Richard Tuttle watercolors.

Richard Tuttle watercolors.

I also loved this quote about Martin Johnson’s work, particularly the part about the human need to label everything.

Explanation for Martin Johnson's work.

Explanation for Martin Johnson’s work.

After we visited the exhibit, we randomly explored the museum. My son found greatest interest in lying on the floor and gazing out of the enormous glass windows. I found myself drawn to the curator descriptive signs for each artwork as much as I was to the art itself. The quotes and explanations on these signs gave me so much to think about.

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Quote by Jean Olivier Hucleux who made paintings so realistic they looked like photographs.  I like the "erasure of the artist" language.

Quote by Jean Olivier Hucleux who made paintings so realistic they looked like photographs. I like the “erasure of the artist” language.

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Reflecting on our 20 days in Richmond.

Reflecting on our 20 days in Richmond.

After our leisurely time in the museum we took a final picture ending our adventures and spent the afternoon enjoying our daughter’s camp final performance.

The last memory of our adventures in Richmond.

The last memory of our adventures in Richmond.

20 days in Richmond ended up being a summer camp for me as much as it was for the children. While I have seen so many neat things, there were two things that I ended up gaining from this experience that I did not expect.

1) I learned to get out of a routine. You would think that it is much harder to get into a routine but the reverse is actually the case. Humans are creatures of habit. We like to know exactly what is going to happen and when. When you take that away and allow yourself to be surprised moment to moment, it forces your brain to become more flexible and open your thinking.

2) I have learned to keep my eyes open and appreciate the little things around me. Now that I have thoroughly appreciated what Richmond has to offer, I find myself looking for new adventures in my own community here in Fredericksburg. My new awareness has allowed me to see possibilities that I have literally just been driving past. While at the local shopping center the other day, for example, I discovered a Civil War hiking path that has probably always been there but I am just now seeing. We hiked it with friends this week.

So, to quickly recap how we spent our time for 20 different days in Richmond, despite 100 degree heat and traveling with small children on a budget, here you go:

Day 1 – Confederate War Chapel and Hiking the Trail to Texas Beach
Day 2 – Virginia Historical Society and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Day 3 – Virginia Holocaust Museum and Maymont
Day 4 – Chimborazo Medical Museum and Virginia War Memorial
Day 5 – Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the “Pop Jet” fountains at Short Pump Town Center
Day 6 – Hiking the Virginia Slave Trail
Day 7 – Richmond Radio
Day 8 – Didgeridoo Concert at the Virginia Public Library and Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium/Park
Day 9 – Poe Museum and Great Shiplock Park/Canal Path
Day 10 – SPARC Performance at Dogwood Dell and Monument Hunting
Day 11 – Henrico: Crump Park/Meadow Farm, Courtney Road Service Station, Forest Lodge, Walkerton Tavern
Day 12 – Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor Battlefields
Day 13 – Beaverdam Creek Battlefield, Chickahominy Bluff, Armour House, Dabbs House
Day 14 – Henricus and Dutch Gap
Day 15 – Virginia Center for Architecture and Meadow Farm Museums
Day 16 – Ashland
Day 17 – Drewry’s Bluff and Fort Harrison battlefields
Day 18 – Malvern Hill Battlefield
Day 19 – Virginia Historical Society and Redskins Football Camp
Day 20 – Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Of all these adventures, the only ones with admission charges were Henricus, the Poe Museum and the Wesselman exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. All the rest were free! Aside from occasional minor parking fees and two snacks, our only other expense was gas. For almost nothing in cost, we had a million dollar time.

I appreciate the comments I have received this month, particularly my loyal commenters Lou, Mir, Dia, Amy and Ruth!

Mir commented:

I am in awe of all the wonderful history you have taught me the past 3 weeks.

I had no idea I would be learning this much history either! I find history was much more interesting when I was walking the ground where the historical events occurred. It wasn’t just dry facts in a book. Even if there was not much left, seeing the same rivers that John Smith crossed and the creeks where thousands of Civil War soldiers died gave history a new relevance.

I am also glad to have found a new reader, Dawn, from Henrico County who lets us know that Henrico County is putting on plenty of Civil War 150th events starting in September 2014 (remember the Overland Campaign was in 1864) and that you can visit http://www.civilwarhenrico.com (website launching soon) for more information or http://www.visithenrico.com/.

As my parting thought on my adventures in Virginia, I have created this one-page (double-sided) Ruly Free and Cheap Guide to Richmond, organizing most of the information I have learned into a tourist-friendly guide. I hope you download it and share it with others who may be interested.

Thanks for traveling with me! What a summer it has been!

Posted by anne Tagged with: , , , ,
May 312013
A chance sighting outside my kitchen window--a doe nursing her tiny fawn.  Spring is here!

A chance sighting outside my kitchen window–a doe nursing her tiny fawn. Spring is here!

It’s the end of May! Time to recap this month’s posts and share some signs of spring.

Guest blogger Christie Maruka provided style tips for wearing white this summer. I have bookmarked this list to use during my closet editing next month. The weather has finally shifted to hot after vacillating from hot to cold. I kept finding myself dressed for the wrong weather this month—the simplest of organizational problems.

Our salmon-colored azaleas are always the last of the azaleas to bloom.  Quite a show this year!

Our salmon-colored azaleas are always the last of the azaleas to bloom. Quite a show this year!

In May I made progress eliminating a lot of the small nuisances around my home. I am helping to build my cleaning and organizing routines by experimenting with different methods to find what works and what is easiest for my home.

The gorgeous pink and white peonies.

The gorgeous pink and white peonies.

May was an interesting month for planet Earth. There were two less than desirable acts of nature. The tornado in Oklahoma was beyond devastating but has triggered so much inspiring generosity. The cicada invasion locally has intensified. The cicadas are now “singing” about 12 hours of the day. “Singing” would imply a pleasant noise, which sadly this is not. Their “song” sounds more like a 10 police cars with sirens responding to a terrible highway accident miles away or a distant car alarm. Apparently the cicadas are both blind and deaf so all they are responding to is the vibrations of this cacophony. When a Baltimore-based contractor came to our house this week, he puzzlingly inquired, “What is that noise?” Apparently, there are few cicadas in Baltimore right now. It is more of a Virginia thing. Even one of our neighbors mistook the singing for an alarm going off. Fortunately, it is mostly a white noise kind of sound.

The red peony which blooms at the same time as the pink and white one creating a sort of Valentine's mix.

The red peony which blooms at the same time as the pink and white one creating a sort of Valentine’s mix.

May was also a month of celebrations. We cherished all the maternal influences in our lives and celebrated the work of The Washington Ballet changing the lives of children in southeast D.C.

Rhododendron in bloom.  The only downside of our garden is that everything blooms at the same time in early spring!  Wish we could spread this out a bit more.

Rhododendron in bloom. The only downside of our garden is that everything blooms at the same time in early spring! Wish we could spread this out a bit more.

Organizational items of note from around the web.

  • Hack Day – In an interesting counterpoint to routines, the Kickstarter blog posted about their company’s annual “Hack Day.” Hack Day is a day with “no rules” to experiment and try new things. They let employees loose to try short 24-hour projects to improve something about their workplace or entertain a particular passion. At the end of Hack Day they share all the innovative projects that have resulted. I love this idea and think it would be a great morale and creativity booster, either in a workplace or in your own home.
  • A clever article from babycenter.com called, “Is it normal that my toddler’s obsessed with organizing things?” caught my eye. The number of occasions my children have displayed this behavior can probably be counted on one hand. They are generally solidly in the disorganization column. However, in light of our past discussions on OCD, I thought this quote from the article was worth sharing as a helpful measure to us all on distinguishing organization from OCD:

“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), on the other hand, is debilitating rather than empowering. Instead of using organization to gain an understanding of her world, a child with OCD uses her compulsion to keep the world — and the extreme anxiety and fear that it causes for her — at bay.”

–Penelope Leach, child psychologist, quoted in “Is it normal that my toddler’s obsessed with organizing things?” babycenter.com

Itea bud with cicada carcass.

Itea bud with cicada carcass.

Finally, this month, I have had a chance to think a bit more about my theme word for the year, “routine.” I have continued my diet and exercise routines and will give that progress report tomorrow. This month, my big breakthrough about routines, however, was inspired by my fitness routine. If I slack off my exercise routine for even one day, I notice a huge difference in my strength and stamina and my general well-being. I don’t think I am addicted to exercise because it still requires a huge amount of willpower on my part to even do it, but this fitness experience has taught me a couple of key lessons.


1. Many goals that are worth achieving require constant daily attention.
I also like to think of this insight as “Everything is like a muscle.” You could exercise one every 90 days for 2 days at a time, for example, but would you really gain fitness that way? 8 days of intense exercise per year is certainly better than nothing but it is hard to see how you would really make forward progress with that method. Almost every skill you can think of requires practice and mastery on a daily basis. Routine is the way we prioritize the endless list of things that we could be doing into a structure that reflects what is important to us.

2. Routine does not have to mean mindless repetition; it can be an indication of how well you know yourself. Everyone’s life becomes overwhelming at one point or another. When catastrophes happen and things get off track, it helps you keep going to have a routine that you know works for you to fall back on. For example, there were a few days this month when I had so much going on that my diet and exercise slipped. Since I know what the routine is that works for me it was easy to say to myself. “Ok, today is a new day and here is the eating and exercise plan.” There was no stress about what to do or how it would work out. I had a tested routine to get started with. The key is to personalize the routine. You can’t just adopt someone else’s plan. You have to experiment and find what works for you.

3. Routine in one area becomes motivation for routines in other areas. I am glad that the fitness routine is the one I figured out first. It has been rewarding to put energy into something that then gives me energy back. I have more stamina to tackle all the aspects of my life and now my job is to figure out how to best focus that extra energy. If you are struggling with setting routines in your own life, look for something you are already doing routinely to inspire you to take that same dedication and energy and apply it to something else.

I hope you take some time to think about your month—what went right and what went wrong and where you want to go for June. For many people, June is a huge transition month when schedules and routines have to change. Don’t let this time of year frustrate you. Identify the routines that can stay the same for you and the areas that will require flexibility and change.

On to June! As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

Posted by anne Tagged with: , ,
May 012013
Adding some additional outdoor exercise lately to whip the garden into shape.

Adding some additional outdoor exercise lately to whip the garden into shape.

It’s the last day of April and time to check in on my weight maintenance progress as well as recap the last two-months of posts focused on diet and nutrition.

You may recall that my theme word for the year is “routine.” Without intending to figure out a diet and exercise routine that works for me, that is exactly what happened over the last two months. You may have noticed that I didn’t post a routine checklist for April. Because my mind was so focused on maintaining the weight loss I had achieved in March, I didn’t really feel up to working on all my routines at once. I think this focus really helped me. Now in May, I really need to add back in new routines, particularly for cleaning up around the house and working on the garden, which have suffered.

Below is a blank May 2013 daily routines checklist. I changed the format a bit. If you are using these charts, please let me know what changes you would like to see in them.

Before I reveal to you how my weight loss maintenance has been going, I wanted to combine some lessons learned with a recap of the past posts.

1) If the inspiration strikes, act on it! When I received the offer to review the DDP Yoga system, I wasn’t really planning on a big weight loss or exercise focus to my blog. I don’t know why I was so enthusiastic about the program but I am so glad that I let that energy carry me. Diet and exercise require an intense amount of self-motivation so if the inspiration strikes you, go with it! Don’t wait for it to come again at a more convenient time. It may not!

2) Hard change requires a bit of anger. The last thing I wanted to have to do on my health regimen was go on a diet. I don’t like restricting my eating patterns. At the time, I was listening a lot to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, and he always emphasizes that you know you are ready to change when you get so angry and fed up with a situation to the point that you yell out, “I’ve had it! I’m not living this way anymore!” At that point, you are ready to commit fully to whatever changes you need to make to get your desired result. I was thinking about that when I kept stepping on the scale and seeing negative progress despite my exercise diligence and made the commitment to try a diet. It was that feeling that helped me continue my diet despite changing conditions like the snowquester and to take it to the next level by limiting myself to just 1200 calories per day. And with that level of focus and dedication, I achieved success, losing first 7 pounds, then 4 pounds, then 1 ½ pounds, then an additional 1 pound for a total of 13 ½! I faced up to some hard lessons during this process including realizing that dieting or calorie restriction is something that will continue to be necessary as I age.

3) Keep perfectionism in check. It is so easy for us to want our bodies to look like models or athletes since those are the images we are faced with every day. Yet we don’t really want to make the sacrifices these people make to look like that. Portia De Rossi’s book exploring anorexia helped me to realize that the key endpoint of exercise is to focus on achieving a skill or getting better at something. Exercising to achieve a body type is almost impossible. Also, we have to be realistic about our own time constraints to exercise and fix special diet-friendly meals. Parents, in particular, may be suffering from sleep deprivation or lack of energy and may have a harder time sticking to a diet. Pick an achievable weight loss. It’s so much more motivating to hit your goal than to be endlessly seeking a goal you can’t achieve.

4) It’s the big changes not necessarily the small changes that matter. While I spent some time agonizing over small changes like using whole wheat flour in my pancakes or coloring healthy hard boiled eggs or swapping out snacks for my kids, or reviewing the difference in fortified versus non-fortified processed foods, in the end, I’m not sure these changes made a whole lot of difference in my weight maintenance.

5) It’s hard to override human nature. When I first went off my diet, I had a great time eating! I showed you the paintable Easter Egg sugar cookies I made for my daughter’s preschool class and the Matzoh lasagna and matzoh lemon cake we tried.

6) You must have a pleasurable distraction if you are going to diet! When I am not eating, I am knitting a lot more. I made Easter sweaters, have completed another project I will share with you later and am halfway through a third knitting project. I had no idea how much time I spent eating! I also spent some time bargain shopping.

7) Be open to alternative interpretations of your results. While I knew my diet was giving me success in the weight loss department, I wanted to know if it really was healthier. My blood test results helped me to realize that my diet still could use a few tweaks.

8) Even when you are successful, keep looking out for new things to try. I keep reading just about every article I see about healthy eating and exercise habits. I get new ideas all the time. I try them out, like eating more parsley and drinking green tea. I was also introduced to fasting, the latest form of dieting through Dr. Michael Mosley’s PBS series. Ramit Sethi also hosted a webchat with his personal trainers and it was eye-opening to see how many women were facing the same problems. Why can’t I lose weight? How do I get these pregnancy pounds off? The trainers made an interesting recommendation that people try 16 hours of fasting per day and noted that estrogen is a challenging hormone when it comes to weight loss for women. It was about then that I realized that dieting often comes down to a “what” or “when” decision.

9) Each person is different. My experience trying to help my husband eat a healthier breakfast was a failure. When it comes to weight loss, we are all motivated by different things and have different taste buds. It’s important to keep searching until you find a routine that speaks to you. I received many positive comments on the 400 calorie salad recipes that I shared, including a humorous one from my dad that 2 or 3 of those together would make a good meal!

10) Normal people have a lot to think about besides diet and exercise but that is not an excuse for why we can’t be successful. In our family, for example, I had to spend some time in April doing some detailed financial research to audit our accounts, get our taxes filed, review our college savings strategy, review our retirement savings plans, research ideas to improve our investing strategy and plan our children’s summer educational activities. I could easily have said that all this stressed me out and derailed my diet but I didn’t let that happen.

So now for the moment you are waiting for . . . did I manage to maintain my weight loss in April?

2013-05-01-weigh-inresults-30dayspostdiet

Yes I did! But it wasn’t as easy as these numbers appear. The first week after my diet, I managed to regain 5 ½ pounds eating a lot of Easter candy and lemon cake! I realized that something had to change. I contemplated going back on my salads but didn’t have quite enough willpower to do that. So I decided to continue with the one part my diet that was easy for me, the breakfasts. I also decided to experiment with fasting and added a one mile walk to my exercise program. So here is the “formula” that is working for me.

2013-05-01-weightmaintenance

If I don’t do every single one of these things every single day, I will gain about one pound the next day. This program works for me because it allows me to eat what I want and the exercise is enjoyable. I love the one-mile walk because it warms up my muscles. I also have fun with my children along the way. After the walk, I like to do my 30 minutes of strength exercises right away while my muscles are still warm. It really helps with my yoga stretches.

I can maintain this diet even if I am on vacation or otherwise not in control of my eating situation. If I have to, I can bring a bag of chia seeds and mix them with water for my breakfasts. I can also switch up the timing of the fast period, etc. if there is a special feasting event. My diet does not really impact anyone around me except that occasionally they will have to accept that I am not eating and will be sipping my water. Over time, I may have to cut down the “forage period” to keep my weight in check but it seems feasible that I will always have at least one hour a day when I can eat whatever I want to. So I don’t have to “cheat,” I just have to wait!

I keep improving in my fitness and that is exciting. My legs feel strong and light. It sounds weird but it feels like it takes so much less energy just to do basic things like walk and climb stairs in this condition. My flexibility is returning. It has taken 60 days worth of exercise to finally feel like my muscles are loosening up. I even had one yoga-related injury along the way! I sought the help of a chiropractor who told me that my hip flexor muscles are too tight and that I need to work on stretches to loosen them. As I understand, the hip flexor muscles connect to the abdominal muscles in some way and as my abs are getting stronger, my hip flexors seem to be getting better as well.

Going into May, I feel confident that my new diet and exercise routine is under control and that it will take less effort to maintain what I have established. Now to tackle other areas of my organization that need addressing!

How do you feel going into May? What would you like to accomplish? Please share in the comments.

Posted by anne Tagged with: , , ,
Mar 042013
Ready or not . . . here spring comes!

Ready or not . . . here spring comes!

Wow! The end of February has come altogether too quickly. Here we are 4 days into March!

February ended up being a bit of a blur for me.

We finished up our ski lessons.

and prepared to celebrate Valentine’s Day

There were many ways to spend time screen-gazing this month. I reviewed three major online events:

We looked at the fitness routines of the ultra-skinny

and checked out the athletic prowess of The Washington Ballet

I began my own fitness routine

and gave an update on how I am doing after one week on my new regimen.

If all of this activity caused anyone anxiety, Guest Blogger Ryan Rivera shared his insight, particularly anxiety in women.

Honestly, I fell off my routine-tracking about mid-month and have been struggling to getting back to it.

March is going to be hugely busy for me. The weather is starting to turn spring-like and that means three things for me:

1) Gardening
2) Spring cleaning
3) Tax preparation

All of this comes on top of what I am already doing so I have to find a way to work that into my routine. Even though my first reaction is to throw my hands up, scream, “That’s impossible!” and forget about it all, I know that if I can stay focused and disciplined and work really hard this month, I will be in excellent shape for the rest of spring and summer. So I tell myself that all this craziness is only for 30 days, that I will get through it and my reward is to celebrate Easter at the end of the month with my family, in a gorgeously clean and organized house, (hopefully) with a trim body and a yard that is at least progressing in the right direction.

It’s going to be a LOT of work this month but I am trying to build myself up and stay positive that it can be done. The change in seasons is really giving me a lift. I love seeing all that sunshine! Of course, life will happen too and I will adjust as needed but for now I am starting off with guns blazing.

This past weekend, I began a deep spring cleaning on the main floor of my home. It took forever but now we are enjoying the progress we have made. It seems less intimidating now to work on maintaining the organization we have just achieved. Sometimes you can organize a little at a time but what a boost it gives you to do it all in one big swoop!

However, while I was focusing on the spring cleaning, I fell off on my other goals. So, you can’t have it all!

Here is a blank goals/routine checklist for March if you need a reminder to get yourself back on track.

Are you amped up for March? What is on your to do list? Please share in the comments.

Posted by anne Tagged with: , , ,
May 012012

Spring blooms continue . . . rhododendrons!

If you are surprised that today is the first day of May (May!), join the club! April for us was jam-packed and flew by altogether too fast. Easter, Spring Break, dog sitting, boom, end of the month! Sadly, I am nowhere near done with what I needed to get accomplished in April. I have more things to do and say about my gardening and outdoor efforts. I still have plants sitting in my kitchen sink awaiting their permanent homes. I still have projects to try and tell you about.

I can’t control time, except in the context of this website, so I am going to grant myself a Ruly extension into May! I will continue on with the gardening efforts and we will weave in a few other fun things as well.

If you have noticed my hiccups in posting this month, I apologize. In addition to the special events calendar, I have another excuse . . .

We’re remodeling!

It’s “just” the master bathroom but this being my first ever major remodeling project it is taking a lot of my time and energy to organize all the logistics. Yes, it is an indulgence to get a brand new master bathroom but we’ve earned it, literally! We have been in our house for 9 years now and dutifully saving up to remodel (since our household policy is that remodeling expenses should be paid in cash). If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you have seen all the ways we have tried to save money, from eating at home, to saving on holiday clothes for our children, to putting in the elbow grease to refinish old patio furniture, and scrub the playroom clean.

So, finally we have arrived at a reward point! Remodeling gets expensive very quickly so we still have to watch expenses and make sure we stay in our budget. We are really looking forward to the results. I am sure the remodeling process will cause further hiccups in my posting schedule in the future but please hang with me.

In April, I did make a little progress in the garden and shared the following posts:

I received some wonderful comments this month on these posts. My native plants status post earned a retweet from the grande dame of DC gardening, editor of Washington Gardener magazine (and one of the most generous Tweeters out there), Kathy Jentz

as well as from Martha of The Soil Toil, who has an amazing DC gardening blog


and Roland Park Native who promotes use of native plants in the Baltimore area and compiles a native plant daily from stories found on Twitter.

My “slate” patio makeover picked up several comments, including a kind comment from Alison Rice of “L is for Latte” (who is currently blogging about her house selling and moving adventures)

and diadia, my devoted reader who hilariously commented:

“Amazing & inspirational–only a chemist w/JD/MBA could detail this accomplishment. Where is the editor of Architectural Digest?”

And the best compliment of all. . . Behr Paint gave me a compliment when I shared the project on Twitter.


Sometimes in the blogging world, it is not about getting the most comments but the right ones. This month’s comments certainly gave me a big boost and I thank everyone for taking time to put your thoughts here.  I do read each and every comment.

On the lighter/personal side, I posted a few tidbits of our life:

The Easter dresses have been fun. I ended up making a third dress from the leftover fabric for my niece and we learned through extensive testing that a) this design is perfect for playing “horse.” and b) this quasi-outdoor fabric holds up tremendously well to a dip in the ocean.

We also took the dresses to the ballet this past weekend, paired with a ballet sweater for the chilly, rainy weather and the girls received many compliments.

The Easter dresses also worked well for a spring ballet with a ballet wrap top and silver sandals.

The ballet itself was an organizing marvel. It was a joint affair between the Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Ballet centered around the theme of the American West. The symphony members wore bandanas, plaid shirts, belt buckles and cowboy hats. They played music synonymous with Western culture and movies, including the William Tell overture. Interspersed with the music were wonderful dance pieces, including Agnes de Mille’s delightful “Rodeo” and a children’s piece involving students from the public school system. It was one of those moments where you just sit and feel lucky to witness such creativity and beauty.

Elsewhere on the web . .

Artist (and Ruly character creator) Angie Jordan, had an event with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra doing live illustration of Babar the elephant! So wish I could have seen this one!

It was Earth Day on Sunday, April 22nd and alas, I didn’t find the time to note the occasion. I did get pitched with several blog stories that sounded interesting and so I am passing them on:

  • Vegucated – A new documentary film called “Vegucated” debuted that profiles 3 people who take up the challenge to eat vegan for 6 weeks. While I am not vegan, it does sound interesting to learn more about what these people end up eating without meat, dairy or any animal products in their diet.
  • Precycling – Organizing expert Barry Dennis just published a new book on decluttering. He pitched organizing as an earth-friendly activity that counts as “precycling.” What is precyling? “That’s when you return precious resources to the earth by not buying the product in the first place.”
  • Irrigation – Consumer expert Andrea Woroch shared 22 tips on how to go green for Earth Day. One of them is particularly important for this month’s gardening theme: “7. Use an irrigation controller to manage watering. 20 to 50 percent of your water use goes toward the landscape, even more in certain areas of the country. Invest in a controller to schedule irrigation to reduce overwatering.” We all need to think carefully about water use when we are putting any plants in our garden. My personal strategy has been to just see what lives given the sunshine and water that we have available but I will have to water some of the newer plants I will be planting.
  • Little Green – Apartment Therapy also compiled several Etsy seller tiny container garden creations that would work in any space. Gardening meets art!

Hope you are also enjoying your garden and the outdoors at this time of year!

Posted by anne Tagged with: , ,
Apr 042012


It’s a bit past the end of March but time to recap March’s posts on the investing mindset as well as highlight favorite comments and recent organizational news stories.

This month, we discussed several facets of the investing mindset—strategies to organize your thinking about your finances to make good decisions that result in financial rewards.

1) Invest in what you know. We started off with a reminder that when you are trying to invest in something you don’t understand, you are likely to make mistakes. So when you are faced with a situation you have no experience with, you need to make the time to do your research and learn as much as you can to make informed decisions. Never assume that you can just guess and coast by or follow what everyone else is doing.

Anonymous commented:

“The only person looking out for your interest when it comes to your money is you.” Well put. Yes, finances can be complicated, but not necessarily incomprehensible. If your banker or financial advisor isn’t willing to take the time to explain things and help you make the right kind of risk decisions that allow you to sleep at night, it’s time to make some changes.”

Matt commented:

“As always, solid, lucid advice. I think it’s also important to remember that ordinary people in the investment market are competing with professionals who devote their careers to it. We can take advantage of their skills but it will cost us. Or we can concentrate on understanding a specific sector and place our own bets. There it’s no easy, simple way to beat the market.”

2) Always remember the difference between shopping and investing. We looked at the recent resurgence in couponing and discussed several other examples where people try to use shopping as a “savings” or “investment” strategy.

Ruth filled me in on an aspect of couponing I did not understand:

“. . . a girlfriend printed like 80 coupons for KY Jelly that was on sale–something most of us do not need 20 of! Well, at the commissary (she checks every place you can buy stuff on earth thru site shopping and also various websites)–with the coupoon price she could actually get $.80 back because the coupon was worth more than the original price in this case—so she used the rest of the money on groceries. So the goal is NOT to buy your core staples–it’s to “make money” on oddball stuff so you don’t have to pay for groceries. MOST people actually end up donating the extra unneeded items to shelters etc. And then they know which stores on which days double coupons, etc. It’s truly an art!!”

Angela commented:

“I have also heard the goal of couponing is not to save on stuff you do want, but to make money on other items you may or May not want/need so you can spend THAT money on wanted items… But, since I place a value on my time, the hours I’d need to learn to play / prepare to shop / that game do not equal the ‘savings.’ I realize that once you figured the system out and it (maybe) equalized time spent vs money saved, there might be real savings to be had… But I just find other stuff I’d rather be doing with my time!”

This month as I followed a coupon blogger I learned quite a bit about how couponing works for an expert. Essentially, you need to clip and save high dollar value coupons and hope that there is a massive sale before the coupon expires. You can then use the coupon to get either free or heavily discounted items. In March, this particular blogger got contact lens solution and dog food totally for free with coupons. For my shopping style, I have yet to be convinced that coupons are a winning strategy for me but if I see a rare coupon that is for something I actually buy, I make sure to use it or stock up when non-perishable items are on sale.

3) Maintain a healthy skepticism about all things. Particularly when it comes to money, you always have to stop and think about what is motivating someone to make a particular recommendation. We also have to be realistic and know that when it comes to money, there are many cases where people don’t play by the rules and you need to be alert to looking for fraud or other unethical manipulations.

Lou commented:

“There are so many stories of this nature out there that are quite frightening. I have stopped reading about them for a while, and am not sure when I will resume. For those that don’t play by the rules, I wish there were faster ways to catch them so as to prevent any loss to those playing fairly.”

4) Good investors are always open to learning math and calculation methods. Yes, math is not just for school students. We all need to keep our math skills sharp. I gave an example from The Wall Street Journal showing a common error made when estimating returns on a portfolio.

On this front, this month I learned about a website called Bedtime Math Problem that encourages parents to tuck their kids in at night by reading a story AND doing a simple math problem! It’s a simple but brilliant concept. We have started doing this at our house. You can sign up here for their free email list.

5) Restate a complex investing scenario into something you do understand. It is all too easy to just give up when trying to understand something requiring detailed focus and concentration like money management. But we don’t have to give up. There are many ways to look at any situation and even the least sophisticated among us can have at least some understanding of what is going on. We took one of the most complicated financial situations out there, the U.S. government’s financial situation, and proportionately scaled down the numbers to reflect what the government’s finances would look like if the government was a typical middle class family.

6) A good investor makes decisions first by numbers and secondly by emotions. We again looked at the U.S. government’s financial situation and tried to understand why the budget numbers never add up. I summarized the three main budget proposals from Democrats, Republicans and the Tea Party. We also looked at statements from Comptroller Dodaro in the latest report on the government’s finances indicating that regardless of what budget measures are taken, the government has a lot of financial clean-up and organization to do.

7) Past performance does not guarantee future success but history is an excellent teacher. I took a look at how my 401(k) savings did last year and gave you a form that you can use to check up on your own investments.

Other posts:

A reminder about daylight savings time and taxes. I also gave a tax organizing tip to make filing next year a little less painful. For those with taxes still to file, we are now at 13 days and counting.

I continued my own investor education with reviews of two books:

First, I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. I think everyone should have at least one finance guru to follow. If Suze Orman does not excite you, give Ramit’s advice a try. He comes at financial management from a slightly different perspective and particularly appeals to a younger audience. He is going to start answering more questions from readers on his YouTube channel. You can watch his most recent (hilarious) answer here.

Second, I reviewed the book Aftershock with the ominous subtitle, “Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown.” I really hope that this situation never comes to pass but we can all learn a lot from the economic discussion in this book. We also have to learn not to be afraid of terrifying financial news and instead arm ourselves with a Plan B for when things don’t go as we hoped.

Fun posts:

I wrote a post about the 24 Hours of Le Mans race to be held in July as a treat for my Dad’s birthday.

I also showed you my children’s St. Patrick’s Day outfits this year that also saved me some “green” as I spent just $4.50 on accessories!

Ruly Ruth continued our healthy cooking series with a delicious pears with berries dessert review.

Money News

The Atlantic published a fascinating article called Prices Are People: A Short History of Working and Spending Money about economic trends since 1974. This article was part of a new series called The Money Report giving a consumer-eye view of the world. Article titles include: “How Investing Turns Nice People Into Psychopaths.”

Smart Money published a fascinating article “Fix Your 401(k)”about the myriad of problems in employer-sponsored 401(k) plans.

“I personally think the 401(k) should be abolished.”

–Matt Goff, a Houston financial adviser whose practice serves small-business owners needing help with their company retirement plans, quoted in “Fix Your 401(k), SmartMoney Magazine, March 15, 2012.

Politics aside, a beautiful piece of writing From George Will in The Washington Post about how trying to be too organized with the economy might be a problem and that we need to leave room for surprise and creativity. Love the highly quotable phrase “a ruinous itch for tidiness.”

“America now is divided between those who find this social churning unnerving and those who find it exhilarating. What Virginia Postrel postulated in 1998 in ‘The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise and Progress’ — the best book for rescuing the country from a ruinous itch for tidiness — is even more true now. Today’s primary political and cultural conflict is, Postrel says, between people, mislabeled ‘progressives,’ who crave social stasis, and those, paradoxically called conservatives, who welcome the perpetual churning of society by dynamism.”

–George F. Will, “The inexorable march of creative destruction,” The Washington Post, March 21, 2012

Money woes are clearly piling up around the globe. I learned via Twitter of the ongoing debate in Ireland over the “household tax,” which sounds similar to the U.S. property tax system. The economic woes in Ireland have led the country to impose a tax of roughly $133 per household. The New York Times reports that half of Irish homeowners refused to pay.

The biggest news in March, however, was the Supreme Court hearing on the Affordable Care Act. I found the Supreme Court testimony on all sides so incredibly beautifully argued. There was so much to think about and everyone was so excellently prepared. Truly, this was a law professor’s dream. It was also an excellent example of how people with very strong opinions can intelligently and respectfully have a productive conversation. Our Supreme Court justices earned every penny of their pay this week. Strangely, I put the audio on in the background and used it as motivation to do my own organizing. (Totally nerdy, I know.)

We are now (finally!) going to move on from money organizing. For me, it is time. While trying to organize my money mostly gives me a sense of control and confidence, this month’s discussion was the first time I found thinking about money a tad depressing. When I think too hard about retirement planning or paying down the national debt, I find it forces me to focus on my own mortality, which for a young person is just too overwhelming! But for 30 days out of each year, I force myself to take on all of these serious topics so that I can have full enjoyment of the rest of the year. I hope this month’s topics have caused you to do the same.

Please check back Friday when I will introduce a new organizing theme!

Posted by anne Tagged with: , ,
Feb 022012

Spring getting a little aggressive with its 2012 goals. . . daffodils in January?

This month at Ruly, we revisited the topic of goals, looking at various perspectives on crafting effective goals. Below is a quick recap of this month’s posts, reader comments and organizing news.

  • Goal Discovery Questions – when you aren’t sure where to start with the goaling process, some questions to ask yourself to generate ideas.
  • Think Big and Think Small – asking “How” and “Why” to clarify an idea into a goal and subgoals

Lou commented:

When writing the one area of my life that I want to improve, I thought I was being altruistic, but the WHY and HOW questions made me realize it really is all about me! And that’s ok. The goal will help others while helping me.

 

  • People-Based Goaling – the first reality check once you have developed a goal. Do you know anyone who embodies your goal?
  • The Every Single Day Test – the second reality check for your goals inspired by a recent article on weight loss in The New York Times. If you had to do something you are not that interested in doing every . . . single . . . day to achieve your stated goal, are you still willing to commit to it?

Ruth commented:

I totally needed this article! I always want my old exercise and diet routine which is not possible with a toddler and being home full time. Time to get back to goal setting and finding compromise so I can work toward that goal again.

  • Marcia Francois’ Goaling Tips – Streamling your goals into one theme word for the year to keep yourself focused and frame your goals (excuses, inspirations, etc.) to keep you motivated.  There were many great goaling theme words shared in the comments.
  • The $10,000 Question – Using a time-tested mantra of the corporate world, how could you phrase your goals to practically guarantee you will achieve them? How would you state your goals this year if you had to pay a $10,000 penalty for each one you didn’t achieve?
  • The De Kooning Perspective – If sticking to a goal is making you angry because you feel forced to adapt to someone else’s standard, check out this post for the insight reader Mary called “trippy” from artist Willem De Kooning.
  • The Met Perspective – how a page-a-day calendar is keeping us focused on our goals.
  • Ruly Hot Salad – If one of your goals this year is to improve your diet, I shared instructions for a super-easy winter salad.

This month has been a fascinating month for an observer of the world’s organizing systems. Just a few of the things that caught my eye this month:

Additional thoughts on goals:

  • The ever-insightful Stever Robbins wrote a great blog post on “Your Life is a Community” about how you need to balance out goals in one area of your life with all of the other demands on your time.
  • The University of Southern California School of Social Work sent along an interesting infographic about goals. What I found most fascinating was the first statistic about how the number of people that make goals drops by half once people reach the age of 45!

Examples of Extreme Organization

  • SOPA – The amount of organization exhibited by those who challenged the SOPA legislation was awe-inspiring. The website blackouts had a profound effect and the reverse robocalls were clever and had a significant impact. In a perfect world, it would have been nice to see this attention morph into a broader discussion about what we (and the music and movie industry) can do to protect rights holders in an appropriate way but wow! What an effort!
  • The State of the Union – Kudos to the White House for using technology to enhance the state of the Union speech with graphs and additional data and for using social media to start a discussion on these ideas! A clever way to lead by example.

Two fashion trends:

  • Ombre Lips – FabFitFun posted a super-simple tutorial on the latest way to wear lip color
  • The State of the Union provided some great tie-watching. If you struggle to pick good ties (as I do), you could try these lookalikes to the State of the Union ties.

There is still more that could be said on the subject of goals but we will pause here for now and move on to a new organizing topic. Before we move on, however,

Ruly Challenge: Make sure your 2012 goals are written down and that you have at least one goal that you are fairly certain to achieve.

Posted by anne Tagged with: , ,
Dec 022011

An end-of-November sunset.

 

I’m running just a bit over on November’s theme but wanted to finish off this healthy eating series with a quick summary of November’s posts. (I promise we will get into a new holiday-appropriate theme next week.)

As I told you at the beginning of the month, my goals for November were to attempt to eat “half my plate” in fruits and vegetables at each meal and to get 20 minutes of exercise each day following Jillian Anderson’s 30-Day Shred. Since it is the holiday season and a difficult time to start a diet, I decided to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted so long as I ate an equivalent amount of fruits and veggies to balance it out.

Two days in, I discovered a delicious blueberry smoothie and tried out spaghetti squash on my kids. My body was sore from the exercise.

8 Days in, I gave you another update on my progress and we discussed perfectionism in diet and exercise and the reasons why people always try extreme diet and exercise routines.

There were some great comments on this post, including this one from Bertie:

“I recently watched an interesting presentation given by one of the directors of my company’s wellness program called “Fat Loss Made Simple.” One thing that really stuck with me was how they emphasized NOT to try for an all-at-once, perfectionistic approach. They said that of the people who begin a health/fitness regime, 98% will revert back to their old habits, and only 2% will be successful. The 98% tried for an immediate, ‘I will only eat healthy food and exercise two hours everyday’ type of approach. The 2% who were successful took it in gradual steps.”

10 Days in, I gave you another update, growing a bit weary of cooking all those vegetables but getting stronger on the exercise routine.

17 Days in, I was feeling a bit weary—eating bland soups and hobbling around on tender Achilles tendons while keeping up my exercise.

We paused on the dietary discussion to discuss Thanksgiving.

  • I gave some tips for organizing your Thanksgiving cooking and shared the mini pumpkin pies we brought to my daughter’s preschool feast. There were many sweet comments and Thanksgiving wishes on this post.

We also discussed what happens when you try to impose healthy eating on others, looking at the recent experiences of school lunch programs and SNAP (food stamp) programs.

We had fun listening to a little produce-inspired music from the MyPlate Fruits & Veggies Video Challenge.

After 30 days, I gave you a final progress report on my diet and exercise results as well as the financial impact of this experiment.

This month I also gave some reminders about Daylight Savings Time, Voting and Flu Shots. I hope everyone took time to vote. In my county, one race was decided by just 26 votes. No matter where you fall in the political spectrum, make sure you plan to get educated on the issues and get involved with the political process as we head toward the 2012 presidential elections. Also, another reminder to get those flu shots if you haven’t already. Kids in our area are already coming down with influenza-like illnesses involving high fevers and other serious symptoms. It’s also time to stock the car with hand sanitizer and baby wipes to keep those hands clean.

One of the treats for me this month was to review Peter Walsh’s latest book, Lighten Up. As I read more and more news on the economic crisis, I continue to find his book so timely and full of helpful messages for people facing unexpected transitions.

One of the most unusual news articles on the economy this month was the shocking admission by a financial planner that he lost his home to foreclosure after he got caught up in the cycle of mortgage-financed high living. This New York Times article forced us all to realize that a component of economic recovery is going to involve forgiveness—both forgiveness of people who lacked knowledge about how mortgages work and got in over their heads and forgiveness of people who knew (or should have known) exactly what they were doing and strategically walked away from their obligations.  I wonder what Peter Walsh would have to say on this subject.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s posts.  I know they struck a nerve for some people who gave me feedback behind the scenes.  Diet and exercise are hard subjects to discuss.  Almost all of us could use some improvement in this area and it is hard to face an area of weakness.  However, we also know that avoiding the subject does us no good and that we have to keep striving to find ways to make ourselves healthier and encourage health among those we care about.

Have a great weekend and type to you next week!

 

Posted by anne Tagged with: , , ,
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