Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of Year Finances

It has been awhile since I have blogged.  It seems like the entire month of December flew by in a flash.  I have hardly spent a moment writing.  So, my kids are away at my mom's for a few days, and I am catching up and doing a lot of planning for 2011.  One of our big items that we have been working on since May of 2010 is #27 on my 13x40 list:

27.                  Get our finances in order with a set budget.

I am feeling so fortunate as I write this, because John and I have made some very good decisions over the years and therefore the work we've had to do has helped support that.  I am so grateful for a husband who loves his job and works very hard! 
Last year while doing taxes, which we both loathe, we just decided we had to come up with a new system for our spending and saving.  While a lot of things had been working, other things hadn't.  So, we have taken almost a whole year to get our house in order.  It seems to take forever, and the tasks on our lists could easily cure even my worse case of insomnia (and I really have insomnia, so that is saying something!).  We've opened this and closed that, refinanced this and investigated that, and basically looked into all things financial. 
Finally - we are almost to our end of the year deadline, and I feel we have some great steps in place to help us make future decisions that are smart ones.  It hasn't been fun, but I hope the outcomes we see this year WILL be fun, and make the work worthwhile.
May I also say how shocked I am at how few of my friends have wills or health plans in place?  Please, please, please - take the time to do this in 2011 if you haven't already!  I know it is a huge pain - we just updated ours as part of this process - and it is never fun to have to discuss the sad and dreary topics of a will or health plan.  But there is one thing sadder and more dreary than working on these items - NOT having these things in place. 

So, as we look forward to ringing in a new year, take some time to look at that boring thing called your finances.  Hopefully we can stay on track with the goals we have set and will see a big difference this time next year. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Movie & Popcorn, Round 1

13.  Go to a few movies all by myself. 

The kids were at my mom's, the husband was at work, and I decided to do #13 - check out a movie just by myself.  I have to say, it felt rather indulgent.  I went to my favorite theater (AMC Parkway Pointe, found that you can actually get a small popcorn and drink in a combo for what is cheaper than paying separately (apparently you have to say the magic words "I want a combo" rather than "Small Popcorn and Drink" - go fig), and went to see "Morning Glory." 

Morning Glory

It was a cute film, and a good one for me to see alone.  Reminded me a lot of my college days as a Broadcasting/Speech major.  My only real complaint is that it is hard for me to see Harrison Ford playing the grumpy old man role.  Anyway, light and a little inspiring, it was a great first "movie to myself."

By the way, all of you need to sign up for AMC Movie Watcher Rewards.  So many of those little card punch thingys end up just being junk in my purse, but I can't say enough good things about this one.  It takes a little effort to get it and set it up, but I love the benefits.  If you order movie tickets online in advance, you don't pay a convenience charge as a member (about a buck extra a ticket usually).  I always get a coupon or two or three when I buy tickets too - and while sometimes these are useless, like "50 cents off a sour patch kid" - I also sometimes get free tickets (you earn these as you go)!  This time I somehow got a "Night at the Movies" pass which includes a ticket, popcorn, and a drink.  I can even skip my "I want a combo" lesson!  Hooray!  Apparently they also take expired coupons, which I did not know - been throwing the old ones away - but no more!

AMC is also doing some great holiday promos.  Check those out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

17 down, 33 to go!

26.  Read 50 books or more. 

Here is the list of the books I covered in November.  A lot of kidlit this month!
Lunch Money

12.      Lunch Money by Andrew Clements  I love everything I have read by Andrew Clements.  He is a great author for "read aloud" and my whole family enjoyed reading this together - we even got John to read it with us.  I can't recommend his books enough, so if you aren't a Clements reader be sure to pick this one up - or may I recommend you start with Frindle?  Frindle was so good I sent it to my high school English teacher, Ms. Jones.  She loved it too, by the way.  :)
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel

13.      The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender  I have no idea why this book got all the press it did this summer.  Every magazine I read had a review on the book.  It made it sound so *delicious* - pun intended.  It was not.  I kept waiting to get to the point, or figure out the point, or be convinced there even was a point - but I was left empty.  Next, I passed it over to my mom.  We have a deal where we won't say a word on a book until the other one reads it.  When she finished, she was speechless, the same as me.  Great premise, but that is it.  I think Bender was going for Time Travelers Wife meets Julie & Julia.  It didn't work, and I am sorry to say that I wish I hadn't wasted the time it took to endure it. 

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

14.      The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo  Thrill of thrills!  Thanks to my children's elementary school, I got to chaperone a field trip to hear Kate DiCamillo speak.  I think I was even more excited than the children!  She was amazing, and I can honestly say I am even a bigger fan than I was before.  Sometimes seeing people in person can be a turn off to their work, but DiCamillo was spectacular with the children.  She was humble and insightful and I am grateful I was able to attend.  I had just finished Edward Tulane on the insistence of both children.  It is a sweet little book with a "Toy Story" edge.  I really enjoyed it.

Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn (The Kingdom Keepers)

15.      The Kingdom Keepers II:  Disney before Dawn by Ridley Pearson  Speaking of seeing authors in person, I took my kids and two of their friends to the Decatur Book Festival this year and we had a chance to hear Ridley Pearson on the children's stage.  He was so much fun, and so animated.  He was a big hit with the crowd.  He talked all about the opportunity he had to work with Disney World in writing these books.  He had incredible access to the backstage world of Disney.  I read the first one with my kids last year, and after hearing Pearson we wanted to definitely read the second one.  Now we're ready for the third.  He signed our first book copy, which is always very cool.  My son asked him for advice for a young author.  His answer?  "Read every day.  Read a lot!"  We started this book before we left on our now famous Disney trip in October.  It took us awhile to finish with busy schedules, but we did.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap
16.      The Tale of Emily Winsnap by Liz Kessler  Bailey begged me to read this one, as she loves this series.  It was cute, sort of a watered down girls' version of the Percy Jackson series.  I can see the appeal, but I'm not dying to read the next one, despite my love for kidlit. 

Hawaii: A Novel

17.      Hawaii by James Michener  My mom bought this one for me for my birthday back in September.  John and I had gone to Hawaii this year for the first time, and I've been very interested in doing some additional reading.  This book is an epic, a tome that even in paperback with teensy print is intimidating.  I read it for days and felt like I'd only made it to page 15.  Despite that I am not yet 40, my eyes are struggling to read small font - a real frustration!  Anyway, it took a bit to get into the flow of the story.  Moma says anything else you read by Michener is just the same, with only changed names and places.  So, I think Hawaii was quite enough for me. 

Happy Reading!  Can't wait to share what I am going through in December!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November Miles

16.  Exercise for a total of 500 miles. 

Well, November showed the fewest miles so far for my metaphorical trip to Chicago.  I only booked 39.2 miles this  month.  While in perspective, this is still a great showing, But I would have liked to get to at least Nashville this time, and I didn't make it.  I have arrived solidly in Murfreesboro, with Nashville on the horizon - maybe for December!  I started this morning on the treadmill and hope to make better tracks this month.  Is that possible with the holidays coming?

I'm off my diet, I'm off my routine, I'm not feeling a success in the exercise realm or otherwise this week.  Has my midlife crisis hit before I even turn 40?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


15.  Date my husband.

Okay, it has taken awhile to get to this one.  That makes me feel sort of ashamed!  I realize how much more often we need to go out together on dates.  ALONE.  We are fortunate to have friends and activities, but when we go out with others we tend to split up.  Dating is about time together alone, but when you have kids and busy lives it is just really easy to throw this kind of time out of the door. 

Also - I'm not sure if this counts as a good thing or a bad one, but the reason we made time to go out on a random Tuesday last week is that it wasn't random - it was our 14th wedding anniversary!  So, we didn't just date, we went out to celebrate a special occassion.  We need to get time out more regularly, so we'll keep working on it.  But - we had a GREAT time!  We went out to eat at Houstons, one of our favorite restaurants - - despite all the great places to eat in Atlanta, we love going here!  It is right around the corner from us and we have some favorite menu options, so we often find ourselves there on dates.  After dinner, we went to Cirque de Soleil's performance of Ovo at Atlantic Station - .  Cirque never fails to leave me speechless.  We loved it so much we are going again!  We are surprising our kids just before Christmas and taking them.  They've never seen a Cirque show (mostly due to the skyhigh ticket prices!) but we found what we considered to be a good option and we are super excited about taking them.

Coming up soon my mom is going to take the kids for the weekend - she was kind enough to have them for our anniversary too, how lucky are we!! - and I've already started lining up some date plans for us.  I'll also be working on another item on my list, but not saying what it is yet.  I'll get back to you!

If you have any wonderfully fun date ideas, let me know!  I'd love to get back in the routine of dating my husband.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!  Now into Advent and beyond!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Appointments - check!

29.  Have a physical.

Okay - my appointment finally came.  I had my physical yesterday and my doctor seemed almost bored.  What a gift!!!  I am waiting for blood test results, but so far it seems I am boringly normal, which is my very favorite way to be at the doctor's office.  The only scary part as it turns out was having blood drawn, but the nurse was excellent and did a nice job.  I can't tell you how grateful I feel that I appear to be healthy.  I know what a blessing that is.  I also marked last week the one year mark after major surgery - so I especially am thankful to *not* feel like I did this time last year.

After Appt. #1 for the physical, I drove over to my dentist and my friend Kathy - who is also a skilled and kind dental hygienist - cleaned my teeth.  Hooray!  My dentist also thought I was boringly normal.

After Appt. #2, I headed to my dermatologist for a prescribed facial, which is not nearly as much fun as it might sound. 

And after three appointments of my own in less than 5 hours, I also took my daughter for an orthodontic check up.  Then today, 24 hours later, I headed to my acupuncturist, who is helping me deal with some post-surgery no fun stuff.

So, check, check, check, kid check, and check.  For all the anxiety and heart racing, I am glad I took care of these important things.  I am celebrating my Boring Normality today with enthusiasm - and celebrating that yesterday is OVER!

6.                  Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

I also walked the Girls on the Run 5K (+ 2 miles or so back and forth to our car) on Sunday with my daughter.  I didn't love the location of the run, but I do think this is a great organization.  Bailey and I had fun and I think it inspired her to see her Morris Brandon school friends who were on the GOTR team with their very creative Bee Bows, all ready to run!  We were also excited to see our friends from West Stride there - I do believe they will be hosting the spring GOTR Run if you want to join in for the next one.  Thanks Genie for taking our photo at the booth!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rest of the List

In looking back over my posts, it seems I have focused on some items on the list, but perhaps avoiding others.  Maybe "avoid" isn't the right word, but more "putting off."  Or, maybe the right idea is, "haven't taken time for that."  That is probably the most accurate of all - things have been so nutty as I said in October, that I have not taken the time for some of the List items that really matter most.

Last week on Nov. 1, I called a do-over.  I declared the day "Start Over Day."  But come Nov. 3 I had already had to call "Start Over Start Over Day."  And this morning I felt ready to do the same thing, but three start overs seemed sort of pointless.  Then again, I am so grateful for each new day, and for each chance to start over.  We don't get a lot of clean slates in life, but we can create them sometimes if we just are thoughtful about it.  So, I looked back over my list and see the things that are being ignored a bit are the ones I need the most.  So, in the Start Over month of November, I'll hope for posts of a different nature and some items to come back into my life that I really want to experience these days.

I have also added two items to the list.  #35 is to stop interrupting, which so far I am a complete loser on accomplishing -  more on that later (see, I'm even interrupting myself!).  And then there is:

36.  Be grateful every day.

If I would just focus on being grateful every day, I think it would change my life.  Like I said, for every new day (new hour!  new minute!) we have the chance to change and make new decisions.

Last week was a weird week.  I heard lots of bad news from friends.  I know several people in particular that are very sick or suffering this week.  It is a perspective call - one in which I am reminded to be grateful, and in which I am reminded of how much hurt there is in the world, and how much friends are needed.

So, #36 goes hand in hand with:
2.  Help people who really need it.

I hope I can find ways to help my friends right now.  I hope I can change my lousy attitude (that stinkin' thinkin' we all get some times) and be grateful every day - every moment - for the gifts of life and family and friendship that is what gets us through those hard times.

So, I'm thinking on these things today and hoping to bridge that gap in my life during this time.  Let me know if you have ideas.

Friday, November 5, 2010


16.  Exercise for a total of 500 miles. 

Okay, so I promised a miles update for October.  I got really off my schedule from lots of traveling, a computer crash, and life in general.  But somehow I managed to still pull off 56.4 miles in October.  This was largely in fact due to three days at Epcot, Disney, and Universal, where - to the best I can tell - the kids and I averaged about 10 miles a day.  We were exhausted.  I had a huge fun-over after that.  And considering I did about 30 miles in 3 days, that tells you something about the rest of the month!
So, where did I get on my way to meet Anneliese?  Last month I was sitting pretty in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Well, it appears that I have crossed over Monteagle (beware, Monteagle!) and am seemingly in the middle of nowhere in particular.  I'm nearing Manchester, TN.  So, my vision right now seems to be landing really close to Arnold Air Force Base.  I don't know anyone there, but I'm waving anyway.

Okay, Nashville and my friend Cheri - here I come!  I might see you in December on my metaphorical trip!  Better put some miles in!

6.  Participate in a 5k, 10k... and a Half Marathon.

I just snuck in a 5k on October 30, my only one last month.  I ran pretty slow, but I'll attribute that to being off my training schedule, and that the back half of this particular race is a "killer!"  Pun intended.  This was Run Like Hell through Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta.  It is a really fun run, though, and I enjoyed catching up with my high school friend Amy and her daughter.  Also, my kids ran the kids race, Run Like Heck, so that was fun too!  Lots of people in costume, but I thought I was scary enough just getting up and getting to the race.  I have two races scheduled in November, both 5ks, so I'll keep you posted on those too. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Short Time, Long Book

Okay, here I am on the last day of the month - (Happy Halloween!) - and realizing I have only  had 3 posts in October including this one.  It has been a CRAZY month, and I am really just considering tomorrow, 11/1, to be a New Month Celebration.  October has laid waste to my schedule and my mental well being.  I'm calling a start over tomorrow.  Time to take a deep breath and get a fresh start.

26.  Read 50 books or more. 

I also only got through one book this month.  It was a great book but very dense, and you just couldn't skim it.  So, a total of 11 down, 39 to go. 

11.  Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler  I actually just taught a Wisdom course on this book also, and it was really fun to go through this book with friends.  So, thank you Sarah, Nan, Martha, and Georgeann for sharing some of the experience with me.  I really do recommend this book - it has been a big bestseller in years past - and the DVD series that was shown on PBS is incredible if the book is intimidating or you want some additional sources.  He also has a photography book based on the series - and it is totally worth getting.  I rarely get multiple copies of the same vein of books, but there is so much to unpack here I really suggest considering it!

I have some miles to post for the month, and I also have a 5K run to tell you about.  I'll blog again in the next day or two to get caught up on the month end stuff and about moving forward with a new start in November.

Friday, October 22, 2010


29.  Have a physical. 

Okay, so weeks ago I had bitten the proverbial bullet and planned to have a physical.  Here's the update - I cancelled in September and rescheduled elsewhere and couldn't get in until November.  Something came up with my daughter and I needed to reschedule the November appointment - still a few weeks away.  But - they didn't have another opening until January.  January?  Really?  I questioned that physicals take two months to schedule, and the short story is the attendant hung up on me.  So... I went back to Dr. #1 and got in a day earlier than I had planned to in November!  Which I am now following up immediately with a dental cleaning, which is followed up immediately with a dermatological facial (not nearly as fun as it sounds) - and to top off the end of the day, an orthodontist appointment for my daughter.  Yes, all 4 appointments will be in one day.  Might as well knock it all out at once and get all the dread over with in one swoop!

Wish me luck.  And health. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


5.                  Take my kids out of town by myself.

This morning I definitely have a fun-over.  I just returned yesterday from a 4 night romp with my kids in Orlando.  We had the most amazing time, but we are pretty much knee walking this morning.  Who knew fun could be so exhausting?

I learned a lot in being the "single parent" on a big trip.  There is no time off.  You are ON 24-7.  And believe me, we were ON.  We opened every park we went to and we closed a few down.  We ran it HARD.  I never felt overwhelmed (much because of the ages of my kids) - but I did appreciate the way it feels to have another adult to share duties with.  Right now as I type this is the first time I have been alone in days.

But - and this is a huge kudos to my kids - they were amazing.  Before we left I just laid down the rule that I would be the only parent, and so they would have to chose before we even left home to be flexible.  They were.  Except for just being worn out, no one was even grumpy.  I know you'll think I'm making this up, but honestly I heard very few complaints (mostly about the melting heat, and I felt the same) and get ready for this - I heard A LOT of THANK YOUs!!  I have to say, for your kids to give unprompted and heart felt thanks is a wonderful thing.  I really, really enjoyed their company. 

There is really a ton I could say about this time away.  But for now, I'll just say I'm glad I did it.  I'm grateful we COULD do it.  I'll always remember and cherish this time! 

And now, I'll go nurse my fun-over. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Miles, Part 2

16.  Exercise for a total of 500 miles.

As you recall from the end of August, I really need to go 741 miles to metaphorically visit my friend Annelise in Chicago.  This month I added up a total of 64.8 miles of walking, running, and just a few on my bike!  I'm really excited about that total!  Including my previous totals, that puts me just 626.7 miles to go to get to Anneliese!  That also means that since the end of July I've clocked 114.3 miles of exercise - not including my crosstraining days!

So, on the map - I have made it out of Georgia and into Tennessee!  I've passed my friends in Rome (the Arringtons, the Cregos) and Dalton (the Kleems) and gave them metaphorical waves.  Now - can you picture it?! - I'm "resting" this month right in the bend of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga near Lookout Mountain, just before you head back into Georgia for a brief moment. 

I'm waving at my friend Connie right now as I metaphorically visit her in Chattanooga!

I'll be enjoying my time on the river until the end of October - when we see what stop I've made it to by Halloween!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 down, 40 to go!

Well, first, you should know - I had a birthday!  Now I am officially 39.  Guess this means it is now "12 going on 40."  I'm officially on my way!

We're close to the end of the month, so it is time to update you on my books.

26.  Read 50 books or more.

I read 2 last month, and 8 this month, so 10 down and 40 to go.  Here are the books I've been plowing through in the last few weeks!

3.  Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It by Sark
I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble on a date night with my husband.  It seemed like perfect timing, with the blog and my writing projects.  It was fun, another enjoyable and encouraging read from Sark.  But, I must say, I think I was not so much in need of the exercises and ideas she set forth at this point.  Some of it was helpful, but I didn't feel too indulged.  All in all, a light read about writing.  Fun!

4.  Something Blue by Emily Giffin
This was another book I got from  You should really check it out if you haven't yet.  I had read the first Emily Giffin book, so I read this one also.  Light, a little sleazy, nothing that will make a huge difference in my life - but a fun read, especially if you read the context of the first book.  A happy ending - everyone needs one of those!

5.  The Time Thief (#2 in The Gideon Trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer
The children and I read this - we liked the first one.  A great idea for a story, but incredibly tedious.  Honestly, I had to start skimming and summarizing in the last few chapters just so they could figure out what was going on.  We all want to know what happens in the end, but I don't think I can swallow another book that is so thick and marshy.

6.  Fever 1793 by Louise Halse Anderson
Taylor's 4th grade teacher assigned him this book last year and he's been asking me to read it ever since.  A fast read, and very good historical fiction for kids.  The story is about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.  I love this line on the cover - the New York Times Book Review quotes, "The plot rages like the epidemic itself."  Seriously, who wouldn't want to read THAT?  Very educational and well written, but feels like a good story hidden!

7.  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I've wanted to read this book for years, and I'd heard many good reviews.  It has a great premise - a widely varied group of people are celebrating a birthday in a third world and unnamed country, when terrorists decide to take over.  But that is where the good plot ends.  The book never really goes anywhere, and has a really bad ending.  I don't think the author knew where to go with the story, and finally just ran out of steam.  Ugh.

8.  The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Doesn't that sound like a great and sweet little title?  Well, it isn't.  This book was nothing like what I expected.  Let me just say, terrorists again.  And a mean old teacher.  And all kinds of weird stuff.  Bailey wanted me to read this, and I did, so when we talked about it afterward I was surprised at how weird she thought it was too.  Why did we wait to so long to discuss this?  Bizarro.

9.  Being a Feminist in Georgia by Margaret Curtis
This was written by my dear friend Margaret, who kindly sent me a copy.  It was fascinating to read about her work in the Equal Rights movement in Georgia, along with other women I have the good fortune to know.  The photographs, personal letters, and memorabilia in these pages is a treasure to me.  I'm so very grateful to Margaret for her work, and for sharing her book with me!  I am so glad there were women like her then to stick up for women like me now!

10.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Go out RIGHT NOW AND BUY THIS BOOK!  It was beautifully written and I had a very fulfilling and good and hopeful cry at the end.  That is all I am saying, because I do not want to spoil a second of the story.  I read it in just two days and would read it again right now.  Let me know if you check it out!  Wonderful!

As you can tell, I love kids books as much as adult ones - so you'll be seeing both in my monthly review posts.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


That is my goal right now - to be a LOSER!

That is because I'm working on

7.  Lose 10-15 pounds.  Again.

I've been writing more about successes than failures for obvious reasons and human nature.  But, I believe that it is really more interesting to read failures, so here's some ways I'm failing.  I'm not making good eating choices, and I'm already hesitating at writing that, because that isn't completely true!  Maybe I should say I should be making *better* eating choices.  In general, I actually do pretty well - I love fruits and veggies.  I also love carbs.  And chocolate.  Not candy, so much, but thick, rich chocolate.  YUM!  I have no other real vices, and maybe I need some.  But I crave, crave chocolate.  Milk, dark, whatever.  I think of it when I'm not with it.

Now, don't get me wrong.  You won't find me sprawled out like Comte de Reynaud in the shop window at the end of Chocolat.  (But I have thought about it.) 

This week I was telling my kids - the three of us are all crazy nerdy over Harry Potter - that I was feeling a little depressed like I was fighting off a dementor or two.  Taylor instantly responded, "Mom, you need some chocolate!"  You get it if you have read those books.  True in Harry Potter, true in my life too.  Way to go, Taylor!

I think this eating stuff also taps into

12.  Enjoy what I eat.

I get mad and confused about all the different information out there on how to best lose weight.  Less carbs, more protein. Less protein, more veggies.  Sleep more.  Sleep less.  Exercise more.  Rest between exercise.  Eat this, but not that.  I get so confused about my health that there are times I just want to throw my hands in the air.

Clark Howard recently reported the obvious - fad diets don't work - their only real success is in how quickly they drain your wallet!  The point Howard made was that while there are some good programs out there that have shown some success, the bottom line is exercise more, eat less.  That is the key, however you do it.

Kelly Osborne was quoted in People magazine this past week with this:
"Everyone keeps saying to me, 'What's your secret?'  The secret is there is no damn secret!  Eat healthy, work out.  That's it."

Last year before my surgery I had lost a good bit of weight, and I know this all to be true.  I told someone when they asked me how I did it that the answer was "every choice I made."  This particular friend asked me if that was the title of a book.

Ironic, isn't it?

So, I need to get back to basics.  I'm in a good place and don't have much to lose.  I just need to battle my dementors with something other than chocolate.  :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A little birthday celebration - but for someone else...

This is my birthday week.  It is the countdown to the big 39.  I'm excited.  If you'd like to help celebrate my birthday this week, would you help me work on -

2.  Help people who really need it.

I would like to raise $1000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta between my 39th and 40th birthdays.  Would you consider helping by making a donation?  If so, please click here:
Thanks so much for considering this - any amount will help!  There is such a need and CHOA has deeply affected our family and friends. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm lovin' it!

I'm quoting McDonalds here, but I'm lovin' it!  I love the fact that some of my friends are joining in on the 13x40 Challenge or some sort of variation.  Just saw my friend Amy has posted her list and is blogging about some of her experiences.  My friend Cathy is busy out in Colorado putting hers together - she is a month younger than me so she is right at the 13 month mark.  I can't wait to see what she is working on!  My friend Alison is talking about making a list, and I'm looking forward to hers also.  Anyone else out there working on their list?

22.  Make a regular practice of prayer and meditation.

Okay, I've started with a great book by Eugene Peterson called Solo.   I have come to really love Peterson's The Message because it combines good scholarship and ancient languages with a contemporary language and a modern feel.  Best of both worlds.  I like to use The Message woth a good study Bible - I prefer The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha that I came to love in seminary. 

Solo is really good so far, and I don't feel the pressure to do it every day, but the messages stick with me and have me thinking.  It is a slow start with #22, but I'm working on getting in the habit.  Which also leads me to the next one -

1.  WRITE.

I'm working on several writing projects right now that I am so excited about.  Two of them are planned devotional guides - one for adults and one for families.  I realize good ones are hard to find, and I'm tired of looking.  So, I'm writing.  Watch out!  More details later on...!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I got to have lunch with my friend Larry recently and we were talking about my blog.  I told Larry that several friends had expressed concern over what I had chosen to do over the next year, and when was I going to rest.  Others had worried that I needed to *not* have a list at all and instead just enjoy the year.  Larry said something so important in response.  He said when he had reviewed the list he found it to be more personal, more introspective.  Larry seemed to feel I was making more choices about slowing down than speeding it.  I really liked that idea, and when I looked back over my list, I found that to be true.

Then my friend Marcia looked at my list and she said she felt it reflected something more peaceful happening within myself, rather than "accomplishments." 

Marcia also remembered that my family makes a "Summer List" every year as the school year winds down.  It is so much fun to sit around and make the list, filled with all sorts of fun plans for how to spend our summer days.  It is exciting to read what the kids think is fun, and to mark off our adventures as the hot days fly by.  Marcia remarked that my 13x40 list is somewhat of a "summer list" of my very own - adventures I want to have - ways I want to feel more alive. 

I think knowing all this helps me work on 33.  Be Content.  It helps me to think the goals I am setting are more about ways I want to become a better person, rather than a ladder to climb and possibly fail, or something I *must* do.  I don't see it that way at all.  Larry and Marcia helped me focus what I was already feeling, and I want to keep those thoughts from Marcia and Larry at the forefront of my experience with my list and my year.

So, thank you so much to Larry and Marcia! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Three Cs

6. Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

This past Saturday I ran in the Vinings Downhill 5K - which surprisingly had a good many UPHILLS.  With a name like that, who knew?  After running 3.1, I then walked between 2-3 more with my friends Amy and Jill to get back to where t-shirts and cars were to be found.  Whew.  I basically put in another 10K in the same week as the Labor Day 10K classic, but only got credit for 5K!  But it was a fun race and I really enjoyed having two great friends to meet up with after the race!  "AFTER" being the key word there, because we started together but immediately they disappeared and I never saw a streak of them again after that!  Go Jill and Amy!!  It is so much more fun with a friend.

Here is my hard earned wisdom on participating in races.  I realized it this week.  Let's call these The Three Cs.  I totally made this up, but I think it really has a lot of truth to it!  All Three of the Cs will affect your time in a race, especially for an amateur like me!

1.  COURSE - Believe me, a flat smooth course makes a big difference over downhills and obviously uphills.  After running two hilly courses this week, I have never been more sure!
2.  CLIMATE - I felt great after the 10K last week - and a lot of this had to do with the weather.  It was a wonderful temperature and the day was amazing.  But the 5K started with a little warmer temps and a lot of humidity.  My friend Amy remarked after the race she felt more drippy wet than at the Peachtree in July!  I felt the same.  It really made a difference in how I felt!
3.  CROWD - This week's race was smaller than the last few I've done, which was so very nice, but people were super serious about running those downhills - and some of them (just some, mind you)weren't running too smart!  "Work smarter, not harder" was obviously not on the forefront of some minds.  There are basic running manners, let's say, common courtesy - like not running over people with your stroller (or dog), getting to the right if you are slower, not shoving, not cutting and making someone fall - you get the picture.  I actually ssssslllllllllooooooooowwwwwwed way down in the beginning to let some people get on out of the way.

So, if you are thinking about running or walking in a race - consider the Course, the Climate, and the Crowd.  Be smart and use your good exercise manners, just like you would everywhere else.  It makes it more fun and safe for everyone.  This was a good race and soooo close to me - I loved doing it!  Thanks to all those who organized it and put together a fun event! 

The next race I'm scheduled to run in is not until October 30.  Anyone want to join me?  It is called Run Like Hell and it is held at (and benefits) Historic Oakland Cemetery  I ran this race last year in the POURING RAIN on Halloween morning, and it is a really, really fun one.  If you can go too, please let me know! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


18. Explore cooking. Then, throw a dinner party.

So, I tried a new recipe last night.  I really like Pasta Primavera, so I found a recipe in Southern Living and thought, "sure, why not?"  It had A LOT of ingredients, which normally is off-putting for me, but I was determined.  Hey, this job is on my list, so I'm trying it!

Let me say first that I cook a lot - I just cook pretty easy meals.  So, my focus with #18 is to branch out a bit, try my hand at something more intense in the kitchen.  We'll see where it goes.

Well, the quick end of a long story is that my Pasta Primavera was very disgusting.  I followed the directions carefully, but it just was like nastiness at the end.  I did try it, as did my kids - but major yuck.  Somehow John decided it was really good - I should definitely share that part - and he ate a whole bowl.  I'm glad he enjoyed it last night, because I won't be making it again.  Eeew.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to tell you what the rest of us ate at that point, but suffice to say we all made our own dinner.  That alone I think was motivation for John to eat what I'd made (my restauranteur husband was tired of the kitchen when he got home).  Bailey thrilled herself by making parmesan cheese toast all by herself, Taylor was very delighted that he could have a bowl of cereal, and I ate a string cheese and some cold pepperoni.  I think we all ended up having one of the yeast rolls I had warmed up.  So, we all got a little turn in the kitch last night.  It just wasn't what was planned.

If you've got a recipe that you recommend I attempt this year, do send it my way! 

Oh well.  Back to the drawing board.  Or, in this case, the grocery store.  Off to Publix and Trader Joe's! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Cop, Good Cop

29. Have a physical.

Okay, I made my appointment but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.  Ugh.  I hate having physicals.  I made a decision a few years back to do this every year, but after fasting and getting needle stuck and generally poked and prodded with a near pass out afterward - I just conveniently left that off my schedule.  I'm going to do this just before my 39th birthday in a few weeks.  Honestly, this is one of the things on my list I just want to GET IT OVER!  I'm always filled with dread that they'll find something terribly wrong with me that so far I was missing.  I'm also filled with dread that if I don't go they won't find something terribly wrong with me that I am missing.  So, give me credit for even scheduling this - and please, no lectures on how good it will be for me.  I get it.  I just don't want to do it.  Can this count for 9. Do something that really scares me also?

So, in order to counter act my worst case scenerio mentality, I am also working on :

3. Have a massage.

This is a rare treat for me, so scheduling #3 after #29 by a few days (notice which one I thought of first, which one is higher on the list!) seems to fit just right.  It will be something to look forward to after my doctor dread.  It is also a 39th birthday present to myself - Natural Body Spa sent me a coupon - I really think I ought to use it, right?!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting off the sofa

6. Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

Last May I decided I would set a goal for myself to run in a 5K.  This sounded like an enormous challenge, and it was.  I had never been a runner.  It wasn't like I just needed to get my groove back from high school or college.  This had never been part of my past.  And I don't like to run.  So, motivating both body and mind were an enormous challenge, like I said! 

When I was in college, I took a Fitness for Life course and when I got the initial results back, the guy who was evaluating my chart said, "Brandi, you have the body of an endurance athlete... and the insides of a slug."  That is a quote I never forgot!

So, post college some years now - I decided to pursue my first run.  Here is what I learned:  SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.  I started training slowly.  I used this plan, Couch to 5K -  But I was so out of shape that I still found this really, really challenging.  So, I had to add in more days with variation on the plan.  I had to stick to a little something every day, every day, every day.  Otherwise, it was too easy to make excuses.

Fast forward - I ran a race, another race, another race.  Then I had major abdominal surgery last year, and still don't feel quite the same as before.  But I've started slowly, slowly back.  SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.  I'm training not for speed but for endurance. 

West Stride is a great store near me that really helped me by offering training programs and helping me get good shoes and avoid injury - I'd buy toilet paper from them if they sold it there, because they are just so very nice.  If you are considering starting a program, do go visit the very nice people at West Stride.  They couldn't be more encouraging to beginners!

So, this year, I'm gearing back up.  I walked/jogged (with the emphasis on walking) the Labor Day Classic 10K yesterday  It was a fun race, perfect weather, and a good experience.  They are already registering for next year, so why not set that as a personal goal?  Not into running?  Walk it!  There are a lot of walkers in this race and it would be a good one to shoot for with plenty of advance timing to prepare. 

This Saturday, I'll be participating in a 5K run.  It is really my first one in my training program for that 1/2 Marathon I have a goal to do in March.  The run this Saturday is the Vinings Downhill 5K  It is supposed to be a great race and I'm looking forward to it.  If you want to join me for this race, or set a similar goal for a future date, let me know.  I'd LOVE to have friends join me on this part of my 13x40!  Friends make it a lot more fun!

As a side note, and a shout out to my friend Alison, here is another 5K for this weekend, the Hot Lips Hustle.  I was already committed to the Vinings run when I heard about this one, but it is for a GREAT cause.  Think about supporting this special event!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Reads - 2 down, 48 to go!

26. Read 50 books or more.

It is the last day of the month, so time to see what I've been reading.  I've finished just 2 books this month, but I have a couple I'm working on now.  I love reading - so this is going to be one of my favorite parts of the year!

1.  The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
Ann Brashares is the author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  I loved that whole series and really enjoyed it.  But this one I had been hesitant to pick up because I had read some not-so-good reviews.  It was definitely a different kind of book for her.  I had recently read her newest book, My Name is Memory, and thought it was fun too.  It is going to be a trilogy and I am anxious to continue that story.  So - I picked up The Last Summer (of You and Me) from Paperback Swap .  It was a really enjoyable book with some different twists in it.  A great book to end the summer and kick off my 50 list.

2. The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me - Bruce Feiler
Bruce Feiler really made headlines with his series Walking the Bible.  I found it fascinating and I'm planning to teach a course on the series this fall through Wisdom: - It is not too late to sign up!  :)  This book tells the story of Feiler preparing to launch a new series on walking when he is given a diagnosis for cancer.  He decides to share his journey of wha the calls his "lost year" as he battles cancer.  He also decides to invite six men that are important in his life to help father his twin daughters should the cancer win.  For a man whose life in recent years has been based on writing and walking, then faced with the real possibility of not walking again, Feiler's book is both realistic and extremely inspiring.  Over and over again I found myself marking notes on my Kindle for this one.  I am sure I'll read this again at some point very soon in the future - and I'm forcing John to read it now so we can discuss some of the life points in it together.

More books on  my list coming soon.  If you decide to check either one of these out or have some thoughts of your own, please share.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Okay - I want to start today with a word for all my sweet friends who have expressed concern over my health or sanity since reading my blog.  Several people have worried that I am making too many goals, not thinking about rest, or have set unrealistic expectations. 

So, let's clear that up now.

This list is totally for fun.  It is just some things I'd "like" to do.  I may do other amazing things!  (Gosh, I hope!)  Others on the list just might not happen.  I'm guessing several are more likely than others to fall off the list for different reasons.

So - right up front - thanks to everyone for the love.  I'm just being thoughtful with myself, not a terrible taskmaster - that would definitely defeat the more spiritual purpose of this year! 

Having said that, let's go back to the list.

16. Exercise for a total of 500 miles.

This means anything I do as a workout will count toward mileage if that is a natural part of the exercise.  In other words, if I do yoga, I'm not going to even attempt to convert that to miles.  Just using items on this like walking, running, an elliptical (which I totally stink at doing), or something similar.

Well, my goal, as you can tell is 500 miles.  As in, "I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the (wo)man who walked 1000 miles and fall down at your door."  I think I should also have a figurative door to fall down near.  So, I picked my friend Anneliese.  I'm going to try to get to her house metaphorically this year.  She lives in Chicago, and according to Rand McNally, I really need to pull closer to 741 miles.  (Maybe Anneliese can walk 241 miles to metaphorically meet me?)  Let's just see how far I go.

So, I find myself today and the almost end of August and it seemed a good time to count up my miles for the month.  I'm really excited - I've put in FORTY ONE miles this month!!!  I can't believe it.  Which, interestingly, puts me on the road following directions to Anneliese - just about in Kingston, GA.  This is where my mom and dad live, so I'm waving at her right now and metaphorically visiting.  :)  After all, it took me a month to get there!

Wish me luck as I head closer to Anneliese every day.  I'll keep you posted again at the end of September on my mileage.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hot Chocolate

12. Enjoy what I eat.

Oh my gosh - can hot chocolate be any better?

Last Monday I gave myself a total treat.  The hot chocolate was only part of it.

I decided to SCHEDULE time for myself.  Every week.  So, don't even bother trying to reach me on Mondays midday.  I have a date with myself, and I'm working.  I'm writing.  That's #1 on the list, remember?


So, this past Monday I was a little late getting started, but I did it.  I went to Caribou Coffee.  I got wi-fi.  I set my headphones on some background stuff from Pandora, thanks to my friends who sent some great ideas.  I booted up my slow laptop and while I waited to get my writing going - I had a hot chocolate.

Honestly, I only got one because I felt bad taking up space and not buying anything, and I had a gift card I've been carrying around for 2 years, and no, I'm not kidding.  So, I order, I set up, and I wait.

The Caribou Man brings over my hot chocolate with apologies.  "I'm so sorry," says the Caribou Man.  "I put too much whipped creme on top and the lid won't fit.  Is that okay?"

Um, for real?  Is that okay? To have too much whipped creme?  Is that even possible?

I am talking A LOT of whipped creme.  And little teeny chocolate chips.  And I had to use a spoon.

And it was divine. 

It reminded me of the list, and I have to say I had forgotten how good hot chocolate really is.  It was worth every calorie.  I never put the lid on, even when there was room.  What fun is that?

So, last Monday I enjoyed two big items on the 13x40 list.  I thought you should know.  :)

Happy weekend!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eye Opener

24. Drive with full attention.

I am already behind on this one.  I had a very eye opening event yesterday that reminded me of my 13x40 list - #24.  Drive with full attention.

I took Bailey along with me to drop off an item to a friend's mailbox.  We came back out of her street and I stopped at the red light, ready to turn left.  I paused and waited, then made my turn.  When I was about 3/4 the way through the turn, I hear horns and tires to my left - in the lane that I just crossed to make my turn.  I tried to turn back but was at an odd angle - I couldn't see what happened or why they were horn blowing.  But, I did notice that the light that was not mine, the light they were in - was green.  I also noticed someone was where I had just been, at a red light.

Then it hit me - did I just totally run a light?  Had it not turned green?  Honestly, this light isn't that long - so it could have changed quickly.  But I was terrified to think I had *maybe* blindly pulled across 2 lanes of traffic trusting a light I thought had changed.  I'm embarrased to admit it - but they *might* have been blowing at me.  I know I stopped.  I know the light was red.  And I'm pretty sure it turned green.  But there was that tiny, doubting moment of which I am not sure.  And that, my friends, is scary.  Because I was not on my phone, not impaired in any way, have a great driving history - just *maybe* not paying full attention for that one moment.  And that is enough to have an accident.

So, I'm reminded of my Big List for the year.  I'm going to focus on driving with my full attention.

As I said, I wasn't using my phone, but there has been a big push lately about not being distracted by a phone call or texting while driving.  In fact, my home state of Georgia, just passed a law on the matter, which can be found here:  Also, Oprah has made this a personal mission - information can be found here:

Think about signing the No Phone Zone pledge.  But whether you do or don't, PAY ATTENTION.  I know I was lucky to just have an eye opener... and not an "eye closer."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

So, what's on the list?

So, I wanted to have a good solid list of 40 things I'd like to do before I turn 40.  But I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I have a few less than that.  It still feels right - because I'm open to ideas (send them my way!), or to a growing experience this year that challenges me to things I haven't thought of yet.

Nothing on my list is earth shattering - but again, this is about LIVING WITH INTENTION for 13 months.  Some items on the list are light, others are much more deep than they might appear.  So... drumroll please - here is my list "so far."  :)

13 x 40 - a list of things to do before my 40th Birthday!


2. Help people who really need it.

3. Have a massage.

4. Go on a *big* trip to a place I’ve never gone.

5. Take my kids out of town by myself.

6. Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

7. Lose 10—15 lbs. Again.

8. Earn a bikini.

9. Do something that really scares me.

10. Go camping in our new tent.

11. Paint a canvas. Draw and frame a picture.

12. Enjoy what I eat.

13. Go to a few movies all by myself.

14. Listen to my children.

15. Date my husband.

16. Exercise for a total of 500 miles.

17. Forgive someone… and then move on.

18. Explore cooking. Then, throw a dinner party.

19. Do something incredibly romantic.

20. Get all my photo albums caught up.

21. Say YES. But only to what is right to say YES to…

22. Make a regular practice of prayer and meditation.

23. Stop using bad language.

24. Drive with full attention.

25. Spend time with people I love.

26. Read 50 books or more.

27. Get our finances in order with a set budget.

28. Complete my gratitude project.

29. Have a physical.

30. Face my fear of water.

31. Ride a roller coaster. (David Wilcox)

32. Ask for letters. Write some letters.

33. Be content.

34. Plan a big 40th celebration!

What else should I think about doing this year?  What are your thoughts about my list?

I've already started my journey - and I can't wait to share it with you!  Thanks for following me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

13 going on 40

Welcome to my new blog!  I'm so excited to start this personal extension of Wisdom Educational Ministries for my friends and followers.  In 13 short months I am going to turn 40, and I want to be intentional about what this year will hold.  I believe that every birthday we can celebrate is a gift - we're here and alive to enjoy it!  So, rather than look anxiously toward 40, I plan to look expectantly toward it. 
My friend Scott (who has his own blog at inspired me to start running last year.  Now he has inspired me again - Scott is turning 40 this year and put together a list called 40x40.  He wanted to accomplish 40 athletic events before he turned 40.  (At last update he was at 32!)  I decided I'd take on a similar challenge - but it wouldn't be focused on athletics. 
Instead, I decided to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish or experience before I turn 40 in September 2011.  I'll be posting that list soon, and I'm also open to ideas!  I'd also love to challenge any other friends to join me - regardless of whether they are my age or not - in seeing what the next 13 months can bring.  Then I look forward to celebrating together!
So, send me your ideas, subscribe to my feed, and join me on my journey of "13 going on 40."  I look forward to hearing from you.