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?