By: Angel | Discussion (1)

Lily wanted pigtails, so I did her hair up.
I don’t know what it is about little girls in pigtails,
but they are cute cute cute.
23 December 2008

Then she danced around the living room
in her new pigtails and her Giselle dress.
23 December 2008

First of all, I have to give a little bloggie shout-out to my father-in-law. He is the strongest supporter of my blog. Sure, it’s because of the steady stream of cute pictures of his grandchildren, but it’s still nice to have such an enthusiastic fan, even if it is by proxy. Shelrie, Ben (Matt’s brother), Allison, my mother-in-law, Sam, my adored husband, Justin, Donna and Deb also all encourage me and my little blog… you guys are awesome. Thanks for encouraging me in all my creative endeavors. No matter how old we get, it’s always nice to feel like you’re wanted and you’re doing a good job. My little preschoolers thrive on praise and approval, and so it seems do adults.

I’ve been thinking. And creating. And doing. And living. And my blog was tossed to the side for a little while. You know how I constantly search for the perfect planning system and how I am a lover all things office/school supply related especially if they are feminine, pretty and/or cute. Well, I’ve decided to create my own planning system, tooled to fit my specific needs. I’ve ordered some bookmaking books and next on the list is a padding press to create my own pads.

I am both excited and intimidated by the idea. Can I create a usable and pretty planning toolkit? Can I combine the functionality of a dayplanner with the encouragement of a goal-oriented system and tie it all together with beautiful colors and art? I don’t know, but I think it will be a lot of fun trying, if I can manage to just keep my lack of self-confidence at bay.

Art is in all of us. When we create, we breathe life into our soul. Creativity should be nurtured and honored because it feeds passion and growth.

That will be my mantra when self-doubt comes like a cold, unwelcome wind at my door.

By: Angel | Discussion (2)

Logan stayed this past weekend with us, and, among the things he said
he wanted to do, he wanted to make pumpkin pie from pumpkins. So,
Uncle Matt, Logan, Lily and Damian all crowded into the kitchen to make
homemade pumpkin pie from pumpkins.
18 October 2008

I have been working hard for the past few days “catching up.” I had descended into a bit of a funk, and, as I go into the murky mire, so does my house. I told Matt that if he ever wanted to know what mental state I am currently in, just look at the condition of the house.

But the house is clean again. For the first time in perhaps a week, I woke up this morning without an agenda. There was no crisis cleaning to be done because I had finally caught up on the household cleaning. So, here it is 1:15pm, and I have been kind of meandering around in a mopey sort of way. “What do I do next? I’m so tired; I just want to take a break today after so many days of work.”

So, ostensibly, I have a day off today. But I’m still in “responsible mode” and I’m having a hell of a time gearing out of it. After being so responsible and so reliable for years (ever since giving birth to Lily), I realized that I don’t know how to have fun anymore. I know how to clean the dishes and feed the children and do the laundry and pay the bills. I know how to plan and execute the fun of others — parties, trips, festivals — and organize, clean and cook while others are having fun during these events, but having fun myself… I’ve forgotten. My understanding of how to have fun has atrophied from lack of use over the past few years.

And even the things that I once enjoyed — writing, gardening, running — they have become too “goal oriented” to be fun anymore. I don’t write to enjoy the process of creating a story while playing with the English language; I write to have a chapter finished so I can upload a podcast. I write to have a completed story, not to create a story. I don’t garden to tend to and watch my beautiful plants grow towards the sky; I garden to have pleasant backyard for myself and my family, and I get impatient that the garden is not already completed. I don’t run to enjoy the feeling of my body; I run for exercise and to get to the goal of a marathon.

Children know how to have fun. They have fun all the time. They don’t go to the park to slide and swing and run with the intention of burning 500 calories so they can fit into skinny jeans. But as a responsible, reliable and really useful adult and surrounding myself with all these goals, the actual moment of life gets lost.

It’s so hard to reclaim though. Sure, I have the mental realization, “Hey, I need to be more childlike in my approach to life, fun, and not being so goal-oriented,” but it’s another thing entirely to grok that philosophy and have it become a natural extension of myself. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t think of another word that worked as well as grok, and thesaurus.reference.com doesn’t even have an entry for grok. Go figure.)

And, in the end, I still have to wash the dishes, feed the children, do the laundry, plan the trips, and execute the fun of others. But, while washing, cleaning and planning, I want to also reclaim the natural joy of life that comes from being in the moment — playing with words and plants and my own body — and appreciating this amazing physical realm where we are so privileged to live. This is something that children innately understand, but many adults lose this skill as we grow up, become responsible, and focus too myopically on our life goals.

By: Angel | Discussion (0)

Grannie and Lily in the water in Wells, England.
17 June 2008

I’m ready to have another try at RomancePodcast.com.  The overwhelming fear stopped me dead in my tracks for a little while, but I’m ready for another pass at my personal opponent: my own lack of self-confidence.  I love to write, so I need to get past this little bump in the road to get back to something which I enjoy so much.

I think it’s time to make a list.  I’ve been feeling a little lost since our crazy summertime schedule ended, and lists help center and ground me.  The world is spinning around me and I’m very dizzy.  I need a list to anchor everything.

I love lists. 🙂

By: Angel | Discussion (2)

Uncle Steve, Lily and Clara
over Memorial weekend.
25 May 2008

As I have mentioned (several times by this point, I think), I love my DIY Planner.  I even made a 2-pages per day template and submitted it to the DIY Planner site.  Last night, I tweaked my daily template design to fit the FlyLady system for keeping a house.  I LOVE my new daily pages that now have my Morning, Afternoon, and Evening routines in them.

However, as wonderful as my little DIY Planner is, full of its scheduled appointments, routines, and task lists, it does have one drawback: sometimes I feel like I’m not working fast enough or hard enough.  When my little checkboxes remain unchecked, I get sad and feel like a loser.

That was not my original intent when I created my beautiful DIY Planner.  It was to be a tool to stay focused and bring about desired personal change — a tool for manifestation, if we would like to venture into the world of New Age terminology.  And it has brought about a great deal of wonderful change.  It does help me stay focused on what is important to me…

… but it also makes me feel like a loser sometimes.

Now that is a personal problem I have to work through.  My little DIY Planner is just an object.  The emotions… well, that’s all me.  And I don’t like having negative emotions around something that I created and love so much.  So, I’ll be working through those feelings over the next couple of days.

Well, that was a wonderful session!  Who needs a therapist when you have a blog? 🙂

By: Angel | Discussion (0)

Surfside Beach, Texas
20 April 2008

“The eggtimer?” you ask, perplexed, while thinking, “What a bizarre blog topic.”

“Yes!” I reply with entirely too much enthusiasm for a such a modest kitchen tool.

I have discovered that I can time events.  Armed with several lists, a DIY dayplanner, an eggtimer and a small alarm clock, I plan to force my day into a routine.  Will it work?  I don’t know.  Is it fun?  Heck, yeah!

I think I have managed to take my obsessive-compulsive nature to a whole new level.  I’m sure there is a medical term for folks like me, but as long as it is still fun, I figure I’m safe from becoming a clinical case study.

By: Angel | Discussion (1)

Daddy and the kids on the swing.
15 March 2008

I’ve read many books on productivity and organization.  It is one of my favorite nonfiction genres.  But I have never been able to follow a system — any system — successfully.  The other day, as I was trying to feed both Damian and Lily while cleaning the house and doing the laundry, it dawned on me why I have failed so miserably:

Productivity books are written by professional men for professional men.

The productivity guru sequesters himself in his home office for nine hours while his wife is left cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, and caring for the children (notice that I did not even mention any hobbies that she may be trying to pursue for herself).  “But, honey,” he says as she desperately asks for help, “my work brings in the money and puts the food on the table.”  And off he goes into his office, away from his hectic family, to publish his solution to the world’s productivity problems.

Yeah.  Whatever.

I’m waiting for the book written by the housewife.  Not only does a housewife have too many things to do in too little time, but the priorities are constantly shifting – I mean, truly constantly in flux like water on paper.  And a housewife has a very difficult time following a set schedule because children are variables which cannot be quantified.

Short of getting up at 4am (which is what I did this morning), I cannot find the time for anything but housework and childcare.  And even the housework falls behind.  (Childcare is the primary duty, so it never falls behind; it takes precedence over everything.)

Maybe someday I will discover an industrial-strength productivity system — one that even a housewife can use.  I’ve been searching, but I have not been successful yet.  But as always, I have hope. 🙂

By: Angel | Discussion (0)

Super Daddy, snuggled under his pile of pink Hello Kitty blankets,
is able to entertain two small children without leaving his cocoon.

08 March 2008

I’ve decided that I’m a Planning Nerd.  Now here’s a secret for all the non-nerds out there:  nerds like — very much, mind you — being nerds of whatever chosen hobby fascinates them.  There are music nerds, computer nerds, history nerds, anime nerds, the list goes on.  And, it turns out, there are Planning Nerds (we get capitalized because I’m a Planning Nerd, therefore we’re special 😉 ).

Last night, I made a new list — beautifully organized with fancy bullets and a pretty font — and then I surfed the DIY Planner template directory (which I surf regularly) and found another great planning tool, this one for planning your entire year on a single page!  How cool is that?!

My new list with its fancy bullets and pretty font is a list of things (hobbies, activities, etc) that are most important to me now.  It’s so easy to lose sight of what I’m trying to accomplish underneath the laundry and the bills, the shopping and the cleaning.  The minutiae and logistics of day-to-day living become my focal point, and then, suddenly, a year has passed and I’m thinking to myself, “Wasn’t I going to learn how to sew this year?” or “Wasn’t I going to start podcasting this year?”

So, you see, I like being a Planning Nerd.  It helps me remain “Angel” and not “the lady who does the laundry and cleans the kitchen.”

By: Angel | Discussion (0)

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas with Papa and Nan in Conroe.
Since there were five grandchildren present, there were lots of toys
by the time all the Christmas gifts were opened. In this photo,
Lily has brought a bunch of toys over to Clara.
Conroe, Texas
20 January 2008

As mentioned before, I love lists.  To me, lists are hopes of the future.  And every year at the New Year, Matt and I do a Mondo Beyondo list.  The Mondo Beyondo list is, to quote the lovely Andrea Scher, “the list of things that are outrageous, wild, and may not even happen for 5 or 10 years from now. This is the list of things that are SO JUICY and unlikely to happen that you are afraid to even write them down. This might be the most important list of all!”

For the past few years, on Matt’s side of the paper, “Run a marathon” keeps popping up.  I was never really on-board with that one.  I thought I would train with him simply so we could be together, but I was never a driving force in making this particular Mondo Beyondo dream come true.  Matt would have to be the motivator behind that one.

But then Scotty, one of Matt’s co-workers, ran the Walt Disney World Marathon this year.  The office had a betting pool on his finishing times and were generally very supportive of his marathon training.  After he finished the race, he sent the office an email detailing the race, and it sounded like so much fun!  It also sounded painfully hard, but it sounded like so much fun at the same time!  And we could take the kids on a family vacation as well!

So I’m finally on board with the “Run a marathon.”  I am really keen to go next year with the kids.  They offer a half-marathon as well, so depending on our fitness level as the time approaches, we will run either the full or the half.  I am so excited!

And my family wants to go with us to Walt Disney World and take their kids.  So, over the next year, Matt and I will be training to run either a full or half marathon, and I will be researching how to take a vacation to Walt Disney World on a budget.

I am so excited.  I am excited about attempting a marathon.  I am excited about taking my children on a family vacation.  I am excited about my extended family going with us.  I am so excited!

Good thing I’m starting so early.  I think it will easily take a year to train for a marathon and a year to plan for a large group to go to Walt Disney World within a budget.

By: Angel | Discussion (1)

It snowed in Lincoln this morning;
Grannie and Grandpa took turns
holding Damian while Lily played
in the snow.
03 January 2008

We have two days left in England, and then we spend all day Sunday travelling back to Austin.  Tomorrow we go to see the Panto.  I’m really looking forward to it after hearing so many stories from Matt of going to see the Panto as a child.  It’s also nice that he is sharing this tradition with his own children.  I am a little worried because I have worked it up so much in my mind.  Hopefully the event can live up to the anticipation.

In four days we’ll be back home, and that’s when it will feel like the New Year will begin.  I’m still in holiday limbo at the moment where neither time nor calories actually occur.  The New Year is a big deal for me — it always feels joyful because I am so excited and hopeful.  I’ve got plans.  I always have plans, but, at the New Year, my plans seem gold-plated and full of promise.

Plans.  I love plans.  I love visions of an exciting and passionate possible future.  That’s what the New Year is:  it’s hope and redemption.  The redemption does not come into play so much for me anymore; I find redemption by other means.  One day I may blog on that.  In fact, I had a dream about it recently.  Maybe I’ll post the dream; it was very interesting.

Anyways,  hope and excitement are definitely part of the New Year for me.  And it all starts in four days upon our return to Austin. 🙂

By: Angel | Discussion (0)

Lily brushing the window.
30 November 2007

I have mentioned before that I am the “crazy list lady,” and I finally figured out why I list so much yesterday.  I have been wanting to list since Friday, and Matt, being the kind soul that he is, tolerates my habit not only with equanimity but with actual encouragement.  You see, since he is my husband and life partner, he has to be actively involved in my listing for my lists to be useful.

I don’t list all the books in my house or the different kinds of weeds we have in the garden.  I list my life.  And my life is Matt’s life, and Matt’s life is my life, so I drag him in deep with my lists… and he happily goes along because he knows it’s a bizarre need of mine.

I used to hide my listing habit from people because I thought they would think I was really weird.  But lately I’ve been embracing this intrinsic habit of mine.  I’ve been listing things since I was a child — organizing all the thoughts and ideas in my head and sometimes the physical stuff in my life.  But I mostly list ideas and desires.

Recently, two lists have popped out as being currently the most useful: what do we want to have accomplished in one year, and what should we be doing right now to achieve those year-long goals.  (Actually, the debt reduction plan, which could be considered a list, has also been extremely useful.)

While making these lists with Matt, I realized why I do this: it helps me stay focused.  When I start feeling unfocused and lost, I make a list.  If I still feel unfocused and lost, I either refine the list or try a different list.  Through listing my life, I eventually gain focus and a sense of direction.

And it’s fun. 🙂