Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Your Heart Should Be Open

I have a friend who does amazing things.  She has started a foundation in her mother's name through which she and many others, practice ROAK or Random Acts of Kindness to help make the world a better place.

Frequently she will post about acts she has done not to boast but to inspire others to go out and do the same.

Many of her acts are directed at those who need help most; the homeless, those living in shelters, those with sick children, those down on their luck, those who need that extra help just to get by.  But sometimes I see her post acts that are directed to society at large (though to be honest, I'm not sure if she funds those through Sofia's Angels or if she pays for those out of her own pocket.)

And this got me thinking.  Why help those who don't seem to need it?  Why surprise the Mini Van behind you in the drive through by paying for their meal?  Maybe they can afford it just fine.  Maybe they even make more money than you do.  Why help those who have when there are so many who have not?

And here my friends is where we come to the "walk a mile in their shoes" segment of today's sermon.  Because you never know.  Maybe that person you are helping has a financial need they have kept hidden from everyone else.  Maybe that person has an emotional need that needs filling.  Maybe they are sad or lonely or depressed and have lost faith with the world around them.  Maybe they are so frazzled and busy and overwhelmed that they need a little reminding of why we're all on this hamster wheel.  Maybe they just need to connect with someone in some way no matter how small.  Maybe it's to inspire others to open their hearts as well.

My friend, she gives with an open heart.  She gives freely without expectation of return.  She makes this world a better place for everyone because even those she doesn't touch directly with her generosity, she affects by inspiring others to open their hearts as well.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday Morning

  • wake up, shower and shave, come downstairs, turn the keurig on.
  • Put two toasts in the toaster and while they're in pull leftover pizza from the fridge and assemble Chloe's lunch.
  • Go get K-cup and hot chocolate pack for Chloe and start my coffee in the machine while I cut up and mash avocado, onions and tomato for my toast.
  • Assemble breakfast and make Chloe's hot chocolate for the bus stop.
  • Eat breakfast and take a sip of coffee.
  • Start assembling Sarah's lunch and remind her she needs to find shorts and running shoes for Gym.
  • Try to find contigo cup for Sarah's hot chocolate, give up, tell her if she doesn't find one she doesn't get hot chocolate and start filling out forms for her new classes.
  • Finish filling out forms, wash out dirty found contigo cup, make Sarah's hot chocolate and finish her lunch.
  • Groan as Chloe comes back through the door because the bus didn't stop at the bus stop.
  • Run upstairs to get some yoga pants on so I can drive Chloe, find a bag for Sarah's Gym stuff, toss the bag down the stairs and get some pants on while plotting to make voodoo doll of still sleeping husband.
  • come down get a sweater, my coat, scarf and mitts on and then go out to drive Chloe to school and explain to sarah that she can either keep waiting for her friends or get a drive with me.
  • realize I have to brush off the car because it's snowing and suggest to Sarah she at least wait until car is cleared off before deciding.
  • Brush off car, say goodbye to Sarah who has now been picked up, get Chloe into the car and drive her to school in the snow all while being thankful that the car is AWD and has new snow tires.
  • Get home and strip at the door because the bottom of my pants are soaked and come into the living room where my barely touched, now stone cold coffee waits.
  • Are you sure it's not Monday????

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

So I kind of flaked on the challenges last week.

O.K. O.k., I'll confess.  I did declutter the fridge a bit but I haven't cleaned it out and I haven't cleaned out the freezer either.  The good news is that this week seems to be focused on cookbooks of which I own very few so I should be able to catch up fairly quickly.

I will also confess to going to bed with dirty dishes on the counter this weekend.  It was awful to wake up to and I am proud to say that my counters are cleared again and I will not be backsliding again anytime soon if I can help it.

I have come to realize that I can't do it all (well I knew this) that I need help (knew this too) and that I simply couldn't leave everything until the weekend anymore.  So I have instituted a new family rule where we all have to pitch in for half an hour every night so that we can all enjoy the weekend.  Tonight G was exhausted and fell asleep so he got out of it but Sarah, Chloe and I put away all the clean laundry and put away all the junk that was on the upstairs landing.  Then Chloe vacuumed and it's such a joy to know I won't be faced with that pile of crap when I go to bed in a minute.

In other news I have found a program for Sarah to possibly take Grade 11 Biology at the Toronto Zoo next summer.  I am hoping we can coordinate this with a trip to Costa Rica where she will work on preserving a turtle habitat.  I really hope we can fit both programs in for her.  It would make for a busy summer but one I'm sure she'd enjoy fully.

I'm also hoping to sign Chloe up for a writing summer camp this summer while Sarah will be a Safari Zoo Camp.  It'll all depend on if I can log in early enough next week to get her registered.  Trying to get into the city's programs can be near impossible some sessions.  Fingers crossed because I know she'd love it.

In other news we did get hit by the snow but not so bad.  The kids had a PA day already anyhow so no biggie.  They're both hoping they can stay home tomorrow but I don't see that happening. 

Also we met with a financial advisor to start our retirement planning and investment portfolio (full discloser we have investments and a retirement fund already but no clear plan which is what I'm hoping the financial advisor will help us with.)  I'm happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by what we've managed to put away in the last 5-6 years.  We're not ready for retirement just yet... but it's good to know that we should be o.k. when the time comes.

Well that's what's new with us.  Here's hoping all is well with you and yours!

Best,

Julie

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Salad Dressing Bottles and Other Annoyances

So today's challenge - like all Monday challenges - is to prepare for the upcoming week's challenges which will focus on the fridge/freezer.  I opted to get a jump start on the fridge and ended up tossing 6 almost empty bottles of salad dressing.  There's always that last little bit of the bottom so that the bottles aren't quite empty but good luck to the person who actually wants to get that dressing on their salad because it's about as easy as nailing Jell-O to a tree.  Why is that?  You'd think there'd be a better way to package salad dressing right?  Sarah and I prefer the Kraft Fine Herb dressing which is oil based so that one comes out clean but G and Chloe like the Three Cheese Ranch and those just never empty themselves out it seems.

In other news G and I finished Season 3 of Hell on Wheels tonight.  If you haven't seen it I strongly recommend it but must warn you of the rampant racism in Seasons 1 & 2.  It gets a bit better by Season 3 but keep in mind this series is set just after the Civil War so there are some not-so-pretty realities of the times depicted.  We'll be moving on to season 2 of Vikings next.

Sarah is in exam time so I'm running back and forth from work to pick her up in the mornings.  She doesn't have an exam tomorrow which is good because I'm hoping to get some uninterrupted work done.  Her math exam didn't go so well and in fact the whole course didn't go so well but I told her that it's grade 9 which is a huge adjustment and that we'll practice so she can do better next year.  Her issue is speed rather than knowledge.  Maybe I should have pushed her harder; I did offer to get her a tutor and she declined.  I'm figuring it's a good lesson for her to see that sometimes you don't have to just work hard, you have to work smart.

She's doing very well in her other 3 classes which is good because I worry about her anxiety and self-esteem.

Chloe is loving going to aftercare 2 days a week and enjoys going to aftercare for PA days as well.  She's such an easy going happy kid it's hard for me to give her the attention she deserves because she doesn't seem to need it as much as her sister.  I know she does so I try, but sometimes it's hard.  I'm figuring I'll have a reckoning once she hits puberty.

As for me, I'm planning a trip home for my sisters' birthday in February.  I'm going to drive myself which is very scary for me so I'll be sticking to the back roads and pulling over for bad weather.  One of the perks of being married to the boss is that I pretty much get to take whatever vacation time I want.

Anyhow, that's what's new with me.  I'll be finishing the fridge over the next two days going through the drawers and giving it a good wipe down.  Pics to come eventually.  I confess I love seeing what other people keep in their fridge.

Hope all is well with you and yours,

Best,

Julie

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finally Got To It

So as predicted the production run this week kept me pretty busy.  I was also still fighting with the cold so after work I didn't get much done.  I'm finally starting to feel better and as you see in the photos below, I finally got to declutter under the sink! (It really wasn't bad.. took me like 5 mins tops)




Challenges this week included:  

Declutter baking sheets and dishes - this actually went rather quickly as well and once I was able to get this done I was also able to get all of the baking sheets put away in the storage drawer under the stove rather than having them in the oven itself.  YAY!

Declutter canned food:  To be honest I don't keep much so there was nothing to throw away.

Declutter spices:  I have a ton of spices so I just refilled the empty bottles on the countertop spinning spice rack to make a bit of space.  I learned that tossing spices is very difficult for me.

Declutter pantry shelf.  I needed to do this to make space for some of the things under the kitchen sink.  The pantry is by far the hardest place for me to keep the clutter down because old food is constantly leaving and new food coming in.  Plus the girls move things around all the time.  The pantry is my nemesis!

Fill out pantry inventory:  This is one of those challenges that I really don't think would help me very much so I'm going to pass on this one.

Today we're heading to the recycling depot and Costco.  Chloe is at a sleepover and will be picked up early tomorrow so we can take Sarah to the Reptile Expo so she can get a waterfall and some other things for her new frog tank.  She had her math exam this week and it did not go well.  She is acing all her other classed but really struggling in math.  I'm glad the semester is over now though I'm hoping she takes some time over the next months to keep practicing so that grade 10 isn't as challenging.

I'm still clearing the counters every night and I can't tell you how much that has helped my attitude in the mornings.  Waking up to a dirty kitchen is an exhausting way to start the day.

Hoping all is well with you and yours,

Best,

Julie.



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday challenge


Today's challenge was the kitchen cupboards. Here are the ones that haven't been posted with the exception of the one over the fridge which is basically long term storage:


The last one is the over the range cupboard.  The first one is the everyday dishes (all the big plates are dirty right now) and the middle one is the plastics/water bottles.  Chloe still isn't ready to give up her plastic cups so I have to keep those awhile longer.  The top shelves are overflow -- stuff I don't use often.  I obviously have a mug problem.  You'll also notice that all my wine glasses (all 6 of them) are up top because G and I are not big drinkers.  What you can't see is that there is a hidden corner in the 2nd cabinet were I can hide stuff we rarely use like gravy boats even more plastic dishes.

I do plan on completely gutting and re-doing the kitchen in the spring and I will be doubling the number of cabinets so I'll be able to make things look a little less busy then.  This works for right now.

I still have to tackle under the sink.  That'll be my project this evening.  The coming weeks are about food storage (pantry/fridge/freezer) so that'll be a bigger project for sure.  I'm hoping I can keep up with those challenges tho some of them might not be up my alley.

Today we're running around to get the office cleaned, return books to the library, bring Sarah to Pet Smart and pick up some groceries.  We also have to put away over 6 baskets of laundry so you can go ahead and start envying me now.

I wish I had a week off to get the house back in some order.  Sigh.  Never ending struggle.  Weekend comes and I need to clean and run errands but all I want to do is rest.

Hope your day is fun is productive!

Best,

Julie

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On the Mend

Well, I did cave and finally went to my doctor.  She gave me two puffers and some antibiotics.  I'm feeling a bit better every day though I haven't quite kicked this thing yet.  I'm hoping not much longer as it's getting really tedious.

In other news, the new production run is about to gear up so things will be very busy at work in the next few weeks.  This also coincides with Sarah's first set of high school exams so she'll need me to be on call to pick her up when the buses are delayed.  Should prove to be hectic and crazy.  Ah well, such is life.

My decluttering has pretty much come to a standstill but I'm o.k. with that since I'm actually only behind by one challenge (under the sink) which I will tackle tomorrow.  It's already a rather clutter free space so it shouldn't be too difficult.  I did spend a few hours tackling filing and organizing filing cabinets this morning.  I have a feeling my home office decluttering is going to take a really long time.  It's just been a catchall for the house junk for so long.  Oh well, you know what they say about the journey of 1000 miles starting with a single step right?

Other than that things are o.k.  The cooking class the girls are in is turning out to be a bit of a bust -- so far they've learned to make cookies and homemade mashed potatoes.  Not exactly what I'd have figured for two hour and a half classes.  Chloe is still loving after care at the school and went for a P.D. day as well. 

Sarah is starting to look into different career possibilities involving animals and habitat design/recovery/preservation which might mean changing high schools in grade 11 and giving up the French Immersion Program.  She's not too keen on the changing school part so I've told her to set up an appointment with the guidance councillor.  We've signed them up for Safari Zoo Camp again this summer and they'll likely be doing a week or two at the Toronto Zoo Camp as well.  Sarah will try to get into the Summer Coop Program in Costa Rica next year when she's old enough to enroll to work with sea turtle environments.  I think this is a more viable career path for her than animation to be honest and I've always figured she's be working at the Zoo when she grew up.  We're also going to see about signing her up a Teen Zoo Ambassador.

Tonight we're going to watch Godzilla which should be tons of fun.  Watched 47 Ronin last night which was a bit weird but not a bad movie.  Got me thinking about Keanu Reeves and how much I'd like a sad Keanu doll.  Also would love to see him and Sandra Bullock get together.  Silly I know but Lake House was one of the more tolerable romances I've watched in the last decade.



Anyhow, that's what's new with me.  I hope all is well with you and yours and if you have a chance, please say a prayer for my friend S who is losing her 10 year old son D to pneumonia due to complications arising from shaken baby syndrome.  It's truly heartbreaking :(

Best,

Julie