Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Are You a Bed Maker?

Last night I finished reading "Living Well Spending Less" and there was a section where the author was discussing making her bed everyday.  She made the comment that that statement got more discussion than any other item she had on her list of things she does each day.

It got me thinking about my bed; not sleeping in it, at least not at that moment anyhow.  I got to thinking about how long I've been making my bed every day and why I do it.  I'm sure as a child I didn't make it every day, but I'm thinking that around college, when your bed becomes an integral part of your furniture, I began to see the benefits of making it every day.

So I ask:  Are there really that many people out there who do not make their bed every day?  Other than most of my children, that is.  And if so, why not?  If you think about it, the benefits far outweigh the cost.

1.  A neat looking room
2.  Comfortable sheets to slide into at night
3.  A neat looking room

1.  A few minutes of your time each morning

I think a lot of my motivation over the years has been because the majority of our homes have been ranches and, well, everyone can walk by your room and see your messy bed in a ranch.  On those occasions when we lived in a two-story house, I may have not been as consistent.

I've also tried to instill this in my kids over the years.  For some it has worked (well, okay, for one it has worked) and for most, they could care less who sees their messy beds/rooms.  I have learned to pick my battles and hope that some day, when they are out on their own, they will see the many benefits (listed above) of making their bed everyday.

So, anyhow, that is what jumped out at me last night while I was reading.  I'm sure there were other important things there, too, but maybe I focused on that because I was so tired. 

I will leave you with my hot tip of the day:  Make Your Bed Every Morning and You Will Be a Happier Person.

There you have it.  Let me know if you agree!

God Bless!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Bit of Sarcasm

Because this is just the kind of thing that strikes my funny bone as we head into February (the longest month of the year, imo!).

 Have a great day!

God Bless!

Monday, January 26, 2015

An Official Book Signing

This past weekend we took Ms 16 yo and her new book "Still That Girl" and headed over to our local library where we held a book signing.  I, personally, have never been to a book signing so I didn't know what they were all about.  Fortunately, Ms 22 yo, who is very well-read, is versed in these sorts of things so she set it all up.

We spread the word, and for a Saturday afternoon, I'd say we had a good turnout - over 30 people!  

Ms 16 yo signed books, talked with friends and posed for a lot of pictures.

Ms 22 yo said it is customary for the author to read an excerpt of her book to the attendees and then answer questions; so that she did.  

Ms 22 yo had picked out the perfect chapter for her to read and then Ms 16 yo fielded a lot of good questions from the audience.  I was impressed both by the questions that were asked as well as by how my daughter handled them!  It is amazing to see what your children are capable of!

The signing ended and a few of her close friends joined us for pizza afterwards.  It was an incredibly special day for all of us and we are all so very proud of our new author.

Rumor has it that the plot for a sequel might be brewing.  We'll just have to wait and see.

If you haven't ordered a copy yet, you can either a hard copy or a Kindle copy.  If you want an autographed copy, just leave me a comment and we'll get in touch with you to arrange for that!

God Bless!
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Thursday, January 22, 2015

We Are Pro-Life

It has been almost 21 years since my husband and I had our reversion back to our Catholic faith.  It was 19 years ago on this day that we had our first post-reversion baby!  This event is what cemented us in the pro-life movement.  It's her birthday, but the new Ms 19 yo is at the March for Life in DC, and while we miss her today, we are proud that she is there representing our family.  Should this slaughter rule law called abortion continue to be legal, I hope that we can continue to send representatives from our family to march for life.  One year I hope we can all go.

In the meantime, we went to our first March for Life Chicago this past weekend.  While it isn't as big as the one in DC, it was the biggest one yet in Illinois.  It is amazing what being with thousands of like-minded, peaceful joyful people can do for one's spirit.  That is what I like about the pro-life movement: it is filled with joyful people.  We know the ending.  We know we win.  What isn't there to be joyful about?

At the end of our march there was a small (maybe about 50) group of pro-abortion protesters.  They were not joyful.  We were singing and dancing and celebrating life.  They were not.  I thank God every day that I'm on His side.

Here are some photos from the day.  I pray that this is the last March for Life we have to participate in and that next year it will be the Victory for Life dance in the streets (or something like that)!

Loved this!

Pat McCaskey (owner of the Chicago Bears) giving a pro-life speech!

Abby Johnson speaking

God Bless all those marching in DC and may He have mercy on our country.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Next Five Goals

Continuing on from yesterday, I made the last five areas of my goal setting business-related.  Yes, I have my hand in too many things.  I've thought about this, prayed about it and pondered my options, but I have realized that it just isn't clear enough to me to give any one of these areas up.  Given that, I've made goals for each one of them.

Catholic Homeschooling Resources - my website for homeschoolers.  Ah, there is so much I'd like to do here so hopefully I can accomplish some of it this year.  Every summer I have such dreams....Anyhow.  My main goal here for the year is to send out four newsletters (one per quarter) and add to and update my Highschool section.  I have some great ideas for that and just need to get them up live!

A Plan for Joy in the Home - My goal this year is simple:  sell more books than I did last year.  My main advertising avenue (besides the website) is word of mouth.  Won't you help me spread the word??

Homeschooling With Joy - yep, this place right here.  I love to write, but sometimes my mind is just blank.  My goal for this space is to try hard to remain consistent throughout the year.  I'm setting my sight on three posts per week - but only if they're fluff here (or at least I'll try).

The Goat Milk Soap Shop - I love this soap and it's the only soap we use so I just can't give it up!  My goal - increase sales over last year by being more consistent in the avenues I already have.  

Dominick Photography - like I say, "homeschooling is my life, photography is my passion".  Photography gigs increased a lot last year so I'd like to keep the momentum going.  More family photo shoots and more student/senior portrait shoots is where I'd like to aim (ha, no pun intended!).

Well that should keep me busy when I'm not busy with my other, more important goals (i.e. family and schooling).  I am super excited to see how things go.  I'll check in here occasionally and keep y'all updated.  I hope that these posts have inspired you to consider setting some goals. 

Now, on to the second half of the book, "Living Well Spending Less" - the spending less part!

God Bless!
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Monday, January 19, 2015

My First 5 Goal Areas

Wow, we had a busy weekend and that seems to do a good job at throwing me off track.  My mind gets caught up in all that is going on, not to mention how tired I get, and it seems to take me a day or two to get back on the motivated band wagon.  Maybe that is why today just wasn't a very productive day.

When I sat down to think about what I wanted to try to accomplish this year, after my "main" goals, of course, I came up with 10 different areas that I wanted to work on.  Setting goals, like I said, doesn't come naturally to me, and sometimes I caught myself just making big to-do lists for an area.  For some areas, that is okay, but for others I tried to rethink them and make more specific goals instead.

The first five areas I want to focus on are:  Family, School, Spiritual, Health and Home.

I took these five areas and made some pretty specific lists.  Here's the gist of what I came up with.

Family - instead of getting to summertime and having us all scratch our heads about whether or not we're taking a vacation and if we can all get off the same week, I want to start early and actually plan something.  It might not even be big, but if we start now, it can definitely be bigger than doing nothing!  We're starting this month with a family meeting to discuss summer activities already on the calendar and then brainstorming ideas for vacation time.

School - my main goal for this semester is to get the kids' writing program organized.  The girls who have been teaching the highschoolers for the past 3 semesters aren't doing it this semester, so it is again up to me.  I'm aiming for at least 12 weeks of good writing.

Spiritual - one of the hardest things for me to incorporate from St. Ignatius' recommendations on a good prayer life is the daily spiritual reading.  Ugh.  I just can't force myself to do it.  In an effort to do something, I've decided to read one spiritual book every quarter this year.  Three months to read a book - I should be able to do that.  AND, it has to be a book I already have which I haven't read yet.  That makes my options very numerous!

Health - I'm staying on the Trim Healthy Mama wagon and working harder (since the backsliding during the holidays) to get another 10 pounds off.  I'm also getting back to weightlifting.  I'm starting with twice a week.

Home - ah, home decorating.  We desperately need a new mattress and some new couches, so it will take some saving and some good shopping to accomplish, but I hope to do that this year.

Not bad for a newbie, huh?  Really, I think writing them down (and now putting them out here for all to see) will definitely make me more accountable.  Each month I'm breaking the bigger goals down into bite-sized pieces that should be doable.  

Next up, my five business related goals.

God Bless!

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Main Goal

In the book, "Living Well Spending Less", the author talks about how she found it important to tackle her biggest, hardest goals first thing in the morning when she was still fresh.  For her that meant getting up earlier and putting in 90 minutes of writing time.

"But," I moaned to my husband after reading that, "by the time I have time to tackle any of my goals my brain is fried.  I mean...we get up, go to Mass and do school and by the time all of that is over with - there just ain't much left of my stamina or determination."  

Maybe you are more astute than I was, but after awhile of thinking like that, the Holy Spirit took a 2x4 to my head and got me to see that I AM tackling my biggest and hardest goals first thing in the morning.  By getting us to Mass every day, I'm providing for mine and my children's spiritual formation and welfare.  By making sure we spend our mornings homeschooling and not doing anything else, I am assuring that my kids are being educated.  I didn't see it that way at first, but eventually I realized that all of the other items on my list of goals is secondary to what was happening before noon each day.

Once that settled in, it made the rest of the goal-setting process easier for me.  All the rest is icing on the cake, so-to-speak.  If I get to noon and am still able to think, then great, I can tackle some of my other goals for the year!  If it has been an exceptionally taxing day, well then whatever is left can wait till the next day.

That being said, I still managed to come up with 10 areas of my life that I would like to focus on in some way or another this year.  I'll share the first five next time :).

God Bless!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are You a Goal Setter?

It seems kind of fitting that my word for the year is Purposeful and this month I seem to keep running into things about setting goals.  I will admit that I have never been a goal setter.  I've really never seen the point in setting 5 and 10 year goals because that just seems too far out for me.  So much can happen in that time span that how can you even come close to knowing what God will want of you in that time frame. 

Alright, I can see setting goals like, "finish school and get a job in my field", but for whatever reason, I've just never been an official goal setter (the writing it down on paper kind of goal setter).  My husband says it is because I don't like to commit.  I'm sure it has something to do with my temperament.

Last week, however, I came across the book, "Living Well, Spending Less" by Ruth Soukup.  "What the heck," I thought, "let's order this and see what she has to say."  I expected the book to be more about the "spending less" part, but really it is split between the two topics, and, you guessed it, the first half is a lot about setting goals.

I've gotten through the first half already; the part about Living Well.  I've decided to take a short break from the book and, well, actually set some goals.  It took me a few days to process the whole concept, but I finally got to the point where I could set goals for this year in 10 different areas.  I just finished putting them down on paper and now am pondering how to break them up over the months of the year.  I can already see how the act of writing down your goals goes a long way towards actually meeting them.  The key now will be to keep looking at them so that I don't forget them.

Over the next couple of posts I hope to share with you my 10 areas and some of my goals.  Making them public will also help me to be accountable to them.  In case you are like me about the whole goal-setting thing, maybe this will help you, too.  First main goals at this point in my life!

God Bless!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Turning 50

Last week my husband turned 50.  Typically he doesn't like too much fuss made about his birthday, but we decided that this was a milestone and deserved some fuss.  We, of course, being the extroverted people in our family who are old enough to keep secrets.

Speaking of secrets, I am glad that I do not make a habit of keeping them.  It takes a lot of emotional and mental energy to keep them.  My biggest problem is NOT saying things.  I'll be talking to my husband and as the next thought in my head is about to roll out onto my tongue and out of my mouth, my Guardian Angel slams that mouth shut so as not to give anything away.  I don't know how people keep secrets for the long term and stay sane!

The day of his birthday was the coldest day of this winter season.  Blistering wind chills and whipping snow did not stop us from going bowling.  Normally we are too competitive of a family to enjoy things like bowling or board games, but the rule of the day was that no one was allowed to get a rotten attitude because they weren't winning or doing well.  Fortunately, I beat my husband in two games of pool and one game of bowling.  This insured that the day was good!  Good thing he's such a good sport and understands my primal desire to beat him in things like this.
After the bowling fest, we bundled up again and went for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  We've only gone there twice, but mmmmm mmmm, it is good.  At the end of dinner I was able to let go of one secret in the form of his gift.  He was surprised and pleased and I was relieved to have one thing off my brain.

In addition to the actual day, we had planned a surprise party for that weekend.  The last time I surprised him for his birthday (25 years ago) he just about knocked his brother out because he was so startled.  We decided to be a bit more subdued this time.  In fact, I labeled the party as a "somewhat surprise party" because I didn't know how far I would actually carry the surprise.

Well, that day things were falling nicely into place and so we kept up with the surprise part.  We were pretty certain he didn't have a clue.  Guests were due to arrive at 7:00, at which point he was going to be down in the basement working out.  I was planning on waiting until a group of people arrived and then calling him up from the basement.  Did you catch the important part??  "I was planning".  Turns out it didn't matter what I was planning because at 6:30, the end of a pipe sticking out into our laundry room, which is right off of the kitchen, burst open and started spraying water everywhere!  We panicked, but the girls talked me out of telling him about the party, even though we had to turn off all of the water.  We were expecting over 30 people in less than 1/2 an hour and we had no water.  The dirty dishes hadn't even gotten done yet.

My husband assessed the situation and decided he could go to Menard's and find the part he needed to fix it so off he went - 5 minutes before people started showing up.

By the time he got back, there were many cars parked in our driveway, so at that point the surprise was up.  He came in, handed the part to Mr 14 yo so he could fix the pipe, donned his party hat and commenced having a good time.

So now we are post birthday and all the secrets are out, the pipe is fixed, and a good time was had by all.  Phew, I'm exhausted. 

It doesn't matter, though, because today we started planning for my daughter's book signing party at the end of the month.  At least this one isn't a secret.

God Bless!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Still That Girl

It turns out that my 16 year old daughter has been working on a novel for the past couple of years.  I found out about this early in 2014, when she was almost finished with it.  I'll admit that it took me awhile to get around to reading it (being busy and all!), but once I did, I was impressed.  I knew it still needed some work and so we contacted a friend of my girls who started her own publishing and editing company called Rivershore Books.  

This girl has been awesome.  She edited the first copy of the book and then sent it back to my daughter to revise.  After those revisions, she put it in front of me again.  I'll admit that it took me awhile to get around to editing it (being busy and all!) but I finally finished my work at the end of October.  

Back to the revision stage it went.  We also got out and took a whole bunch of photos so that she could pick one for the cover photo.  

After all that was done, she sent it back off to the publisher/editor and she worked her graphic arts magic on the cover and insides and we found ourselves with a proof copy.

After reading through it yet again, my daughter made her final changes and within a short amount of time found her book, "Still That Girl" available for sale. 

It has been an absolutely exciting journey for her; and for all of us, too.  We're working now on getting a signing party set up for her so she can meet and greet her friends and family who want an autographed copy.

The book tells the story of a 13 year old girl, Katarina, and her best friend as they navigate through one summer filled with fun and then tragedy.  Katarina has to decide how to get on with her life after she looses people who are dear to her.  The story will make you laugh and cry!  It is a great book for anyone 12 and older.  There is nothing inappropriate in there and the girls share in our Catholic faith.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can get it on Amazon in print format, or now in Kindle format, too.  Thank you so much for supporting the efforts of a young and upcoming writer!  Please feel free to share this info, too.

God Bless!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Saint and Word of 2015

A few days ago I headed over to Conversion Diary's Saint Name Generator to find out which Saint I would get for 2015.  My first attempt at it got me St. Benno of Meissen patron of anglers, fishermen and weavers.  Now normally I would just take this Saint without question, but really?  At first glance, I just can't find anything I can relate to here.  I tried again.  The second time I got St. Bernard of Clairvaux whose feast day is August 20th.  I'll take it.  I love praying the Memorare and he is the Saint to whom that prayer is attributed.  I look forward to seeing how often the two of us cross paths this year.

Now, on to the word of the year.  Last year it was "positive".  I struggle with being positive at times.  Often I slip into my "realist" mode, which really isn't all  that positive.  I think I will still have to continue to work on that one.

Alas, a new year requires a new word and so this one popped into my mind:  purposeful. What does purposeful mean, you ask?

 Having or showing determination or resolve.  Having a useful purpose.  Intentional.

I like that.  Showing determination. Being useful and intentional.  So many times this past year I felt like I was just going along from one thing to the next, just trying to keep up.  I'd like to for things to feel more intentional this year.  My thoughts, my words, my actions.  Purposeful...not just automatic.

Do you have a Saint and/or a word for the year?

God Bless!