Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's a question for y'all:

How do you manage
-simplifying your life
-working a full time job
-implementing cost-savings lifestyle changes that add time to your chores
-implementing health-savings lifestyle changes that add time and quality to your life but also take time and energy from your day
-participating/leading/coordinating two volunteer/mission projects
-stoping to smell the roses
-challenging yourself to grow in many different ways (and hopefully not horizontally like me)
-doing it all well
-not feeling pulled in 10 different directions at once

-(and I don't even have kids to take care of!)
No wonder I'm in counseling.
Which is sort of a ha-ha statement, but more in a "ha-ha...ha...that's not really funny is it?" sort of way.

One answer I just thought of (aha moment): As much as I enjoy the shows Bones, House, the Bill Engvall Show, Ghost Hunters, Cheers reruns, and watching live NASCAR races, I simply don't think I have time for them anymore!

And then of course there's the more obvious answer:

You Don't.

So perhaps I have to give up one (or five) of those things!
-Like leading/coordinating two missions (participating is still an option, isn't it?)
-And of course the one I really want to give up is the full time job, but let's be realistic, here.
-Maybe Challenging myself to grow in MANY different ways is a bit much. One or two is more at pace with reality.

Maybe the answers will come to me this weekend as I float on Conway Lake between scattered showers and the threat of thunderstorms.
Or around the fire.
Probably around the fire.

Eat Local Challenge, October 2008

I've taken the Eat Local Challenge for October 2008. I'm really looking forward to it! I used to assume local and organically grown/raised food was more expensive that chain store prices, but as I dug deeper and deeper, I found that becoming a part of a CSA is actually incredibly cost effective. (More about CSA's at the bottom of this post.)

I was also impressed by one person's experience as she took meticulous records and calculated the cost of her average day's worth of food consumption. It's a real eye opener!

I can't tell you the main reason why I took this challenge, as there are so many reasons and so many aspects of it that I'm looking forward to.

First, it's supporting the local economy. But that wasn't even a consideration to me at first. Let's face it. I am pretty self-centered. I'm not one to say "ask not what my local economy can do for me, ask what I can do for my local economy." (Or switch "local economy" with just about anything else!) It Sounds good. It Fells good, but realistically? Good or bad, no, it's not the mindset I've developed over the years. But now? Now it's definitely a consideration. Especially after my experience with the "farm stand" acros the stree from work. (Sold Carolina peaches, as if they were grown in NH. Ptuey! I go to a local farm stand, I want local grown food!)

I'm looking forward to meeting my neighbors!
I can't wait to experience food fresh from the farm.
I'm eager to rise to the challenge of finding all of my food from local sources.
I love the idea of canning my own (or my own CSA'd) pickles and tomatoes and peppers and jellies and *sigh* so much more!
As much as I have to admit what I consider my weakness in not being able to fish or hunt (or raise peculiar and oddly-loveable chickens) because I simply cannot kill them, I am also simply not going to become a vegitarian.
But I can visit the farms, help out, learn about raising the cattle and chickens and other livestock, and leave the rest to my probably-even-worse imagination.
Actually, we had a chicken coop growing up in Alaska and I'll never forget my Mom explaining why we didn't eat chicken much. (It was pretty hard on Dad having to kill them and pluck the feathers out, etc.) I was pretty young and probably was told to go play at a friend's house when this was going on, so I literally don't have any memories of it.
Another reason is that I've been living vicariously through Bee and Susan's experiences this summer and am really eager to join in!

For thos of you who, like myself, don't know what a CSA is, it is "Community Supported Agriculture" where area residents purchase a share of the farm and in exchange, they receive a portion of the weekly harvests!
Sounds expensive, right? That's what I thought. But look around, check out the CSA's near you, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised (or shocked) at some of the deals you can find!
Here is my consolidated list of references and sources for locally grown/raised food. Many of the links are to National Directories, so even if you don't live in NH, it's worth taking a look at.

Note to Self: 4th Edition

1. It's important to have goals, and it's important to have them in front of you. Since my blog has pretty much become my personal Internet-central, I've decided to post my goals here. But since this is contradictory to a previous lesson - that I really need to declutter my sidebar - I've also decided to take other simplifying measures and post some of my lists in actual posts and just have links on my sidebar. So over the past week, I've moved my my bucket list, my collections, my reading list, and things I don't want to forget to someday talk about, (as well as my goal setting). Hopefully this will help to alleviate some of the visual clutter and make the blog more welcoming!!

2. Tanaya challenges me. Stretches me. I don't just relate to her, I am inspired by her. In contrast, I also relate all-too well to Jana's Emotional Hangover.

3. I dug out the paper making kit I found at a yard sale this summer. I want to make my own paper for Christmas cards this year, and am thinking about getting a head start. The packaging had some very interesting facts about paper usage statistics in North America. The kit was manufactured in 1991. This lead me to hop online and look for more current stats on how much we rich North Americans use! I found this old information from 1994; this site (which markets "green paper"), the average year of their references was 2001; this was a particularly interesting site which made me think beyond paper and garbage but more about the garbage trucks, salaries, see where I'm going.

It didn't take long until I said to myself: self, it doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of difference whether I find an accurate number or not, the truth is we use and throw away a heck of a lot of paper that could be recycled. And I have the tool to recycle it myself. I continued reading the paper-making kit box and saw that I'd been assuming some wrong information. I figured I'd be able to recycle envelopes, newsprint, etc but not glossy paper like many fliers in the mail come. Wrong. I can use it all! Then I thought about my garbage can at work. Paper bags from fast food restaurants, envelopes, fax cover sheets, the glossy back of sheets of can all be used!

4. The deeper I dig* and the more I learn, I am astounded at the waste I create just by going along in my day to day life. I've never considered myself an extravagant person, but in contrast to the majority of the rest of the world that lives in unimaginable conditions, I am indeed living an extravagant life! So now I've found yet another expense I can withdraw from my budget - new paper! And can appreciate what paper I DO use (then recycle) a little more. Now I'm shredding everything at work...even non-confidential paper, (and paper fast-food bags) and bringing it home. I may ask for a non-homemade item for my birthday this year - a really good paper shredder for the house!

I'm most excited to share this site which talks about how they used to make paper in 1889; and Elizabeth's Flowers has kits to sell. (I'm not endorsing it, it just seemed like the lowest priced kit I found so far...) and I discovered that Elizabeth herself has a great blog as well!

I think it's important to note - the first link there has directions that make it sound REALLY complicated and pretty cumbersome! It's not. It's not as easy as going out and buying a ream of paper, but it's not that hard either!

*every SINGLE time I read "the deeper I dig," I read it the digger I deep. It's the strangest thing!

5. My hubby and I are fans of the sci fi channel shows Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International. This is odd in one sense because I'm NOT a fan of horror or sci fi flicks of any kind. Granted, GH and GHI are nothing like a horror flick, but I generally stay away from any shows involving the paranormal. Not that I don't believe in the paranormal - I do believe, I just don't tend to want to purposely watch it.

So getting back to the point - we're fans of the show and often times will discuss the cases during commercials and later on. There's the interesting differences between the residual hauntings and intelligent hauntings, the debate over what constitutes proof, criteria used for declaring a site as haunted, etc... A residual haunting is like a tape that plays over and over again. It comes back seemingly without reason. You can't prompt it or make it "play," neither can you make it go away. It does it's thing whether you're there or not.

Now stay with me here...

I'm a little bit concerned about my plastic cup. If you haven't been "watching," it's stinky. Real stinky. It actually smells like skunk. *shiver*

I tried a deodorizing method I found online, to no avail.

I asked for input and got a great suggestion to use peroxide. It soaked for 13 hours. I emptied it out, rinsed, sniffed and *grin* it smelled like a clean plastic cup! So I set it on the drying rack and headed to work, got back home and went to happily sniff my newly deodorized cup and got a nasty surprise.

The stink was back.

Remember what I said about a residual haunting?

I think I may have a dead skunk haunting my plastic cup.

Any suggestions on how to exorcise it?

And an extra-freaky tidbit. I have another identical cup.

The other one now stinks too.


6. I took the Multiple Intelligences test and "Park Ranger" popped up in two categories as possible career matches for me. Hm...maybe a career change is in store for me?

7. I have friends of all ages. Well, not ALL ages. I don't have many (if any) friends MY age. A few years ago I went on a search for a friend my age and I discovered I am the only person born anywhere near 1976 in my little corner of the world! Then I became obsessed with this no avail.

Fast forward to sometime this week and it occurred to me I hadn't thought a lot about this obsession in quite awhile. This idea that I had to have a friend my own age. One night I was sitting up, checking in on y'all and it hit me while surfing from a 20-something's blog to a 60-something's blog, with SAHM's, career women, crafty women, sustainable-living doesn't matter what age you are.

A friend is a friend is a friend.

8. "Silly."

I use the word silly often in not-so-silly situations. Like when I want to call myself stupid, but don't want to ACTUALLY call myself stupid. I say "Silly," like - duh.

Awhile back, my counselor Bill caught me on this and I couldn't explain why I did it.

A few weeks ago I was at my folks house, walking around the patio, snapping pictures and I twisted my ankle. Dad came outside a few minutes later and I explained why I was hobbling.

"Tsk," *shaking head,* "Silly."

Imagine my shock-awareness-aha moment.

And I realized my Mom does the same thing.

So when they were telling my brother and I growing up not to call each other stupid, they were essentially giving us permission to do just that - under cover.

I haven't learned all that I can from this lesson yet, I'm still pondering it over and over in my mind, but I thought I'd share this aha moment with y'all.

Now I think it's important to note here though...I'm not one to say "It's all my parents' fault!" (insert winy cry-baby voice here) and that's not my message. Rather, what can I learn from it, what can I take away, digest, and discover about my own self-talk and how can I grow.

9. I'm learning that one of our greatest resources just might be each other, so I'm going to throw this out there because one of you just might be able to help me.

When I was born, someone gave me a stuffed bear with a music box inside. It played rock-a-bye baby and I LOVED listening to the music while I tried to fall asleep. I can remember holding it close, feeling the clicking as the music box made it's music. The round thing turning, the pins clicking over the nubs. And then it would go slower and slo.w..e...r..... until it stopped in the middle of the song. As it turned and clicked and played it's music, it would create small vibrations though and I loved thinking about, picturing in my mind, what the music box inside looked like.

I still have the bear, but I threw him across the room at my brother in a fit of rage at the age of, of course, 13 and broke the stem/key off the music box. So alas, Benny plays no more music, but the memories are there and I can still hear the tin-y clinking of it in my mind. Benny is also so beat up and worn out, I can't even imagine what he must have looked like the day I was born and he was given to me. As my Mom tells it, he was the first gift I ever got.

When my brother's wife had their firstborn, I started a tradition. Or so I intended. At my SIL's shower, I gave the baby a stuffed bear that played rock-a-bye-baby. We didn't know then whether it was a boy or a girl, but it didn't really matter. It was SO hard to find a bear with a music box inside, but I managed to find one at a music box specialty shop.

Now that my hubby's brother is expecting, I want to do the same, but the music box shop I went to originally is now gone.

My question is this: Does anyone know of a source for teddy bears with music boxes inside? I don't care if it's online or by mail or international or WHAT. And I have until November. LOL.

Interestingly enough, "Benny" is pink.

Benny, a pink bear with orange eyes.

Amend that: Benny, a thoroughly loved pink bear with orange eyes.

10. I continue to find connection after connection with people all over the globe. It reminds me of the six degrees of separation. I go to some one's blog, see another interesting link, click on that link and so on. Fabulous! Take for instance The Country Doctor's Wife, who I cannot visit from work because I always find myself laughing hysterically. I discovered her from the Pioneer Woman, who I found from the Farmer's Wife, who I found from Shelly at the Happy Hut, who I met on Wardrobe Refashion. It always comes back to Wardrobe Refashion!!Okay, that was only five, but you get the point. (Unless Yahoo! counts, which is how I found Wardrobe Refashion!)

11. We're going camping again this weekend...this time REAL tents and everything! Except, we're expecting rain all weekend, so we're thinking of putting the blow up mattress in the back of my hubby's truck and sleeping there instead of in a puddle. An option anyway!

So I'm bringing lots of rags because we tend to use lots of paper towels while camping...but I thought "how can I transport the rags in a compact and user-friendly manner?"


Tissue box style container...all of the rags are folded together just the same as tissues are in tissue boxes and I tried it out to make sure it worked...and it does! When you pull one rag out, the next one pulls through just a little!

I'm so darn proud of myself it should be illegal!!

I'll end this post with some shots of my big backyard. Ihave been having a bit of trouble with my camera as the LCD display is shot. *shaking head* if it's not one thing, it's another! I just got it back from the repair shop! So anyway, a few of the shots are really over exposed, but I'm working on it! Enjoy...
Concord Grapes (unripe)
Cone Flower (over exposed) antique roses (I think)
Still haven't id'd these.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip!

It's official!
My hubby and I are driving 1629 miles (one-way) to Louisiana from New Hampshire the week of Thanksgiving! We checked out airline prices (read - I checked out...) and looked up the mileage, figured for $5/gallon for gas, figured we'd get worse gas mileage with all our luggage and BABY GIFTS, (hehehehe) and discovered that we're saving almost HALF the cost of flying by driving down instead! WoooHooo!

Brings back memories in college when someone would yell ROAD TRIP and everyone would scramble to pack, plan, etc and just head out with little to no direction! I LOVE it!

Can I tell you how excited I am? Of course I can, it's my blog.

I am SO excited!
I'm so excited I could fart and not even care!
I'm so excited I want to Fly! (Or drive really fast!)
I'm so excited, I just want November to COME ALREADY!!!
I'm so excited, I've got Perma-Grin!
I'm so excited, I could go on and on all day long about how excited I am but I won't because then I'd make y'all bored to death, I'd loose my audience and I'd end up talking to myself, but that wouldn't be so bad I suppose because I hear I get that from my Grandma (the talking to one's self thing) and heritage is important to me, so maybe I'll just continue talking about how Damned Excited I Am!!!
*stopping for breath*
Or not.

Get the picture?
Cool. *still perma-grinning*

I love driving. My biggest road trip to date took two months to complete. Then again, I was eight. (Moving from Alaska to New Hampshire in a piggy back camper with 3 humans and a medium sized dog) My next biggest road trip was 13 hours (to Dayton, OH). This is going to be 26 hours (according to mapquest and my BIL who has done it innumerable times in the last 5 years with his adorable dog Joe).
My hubby thinks we're going to get a hotel room along the way.
I say we'll keep driving.
He says it's 26 hours.
I say so?
He says we'll be tired. (He has a knack of pointing out the obvious to me because sometimes it excapes me because I'm a bit of a dreamer.)
I say we'll sleep in the passenger seat while the other drives.
He says he'll end up driving the whole way. (He makes a point. Sort of.)
I say I'll do all the nighttime driving.
He says in November the nights are gonna be "per-it-ty" long. (He makes a point. Sort of.)
I say I drove overnight to Pennsylvania once leaving after work on a Friday in the begining of December and was fine. Mostly.
He says I was much younger then. (Do you think he had a point?)
I say we'll deal with it. (Still smarting from the "younger" comment.)
He says that means he'll end up driving.
I remind him of the time I drove ALL the way back from a Sunday Afternoon wedding in Rochester, NY because he had to work the next morning and I'd had the foresight to tell my boss I'd be sleeping in. (nana nana boo boo!)
He says that was a 6 hour trip and I was at home snuggled up in bed by 3:30 am. (And who has a Sunday AFTERNOON wedding anyway?)

Needless to say, we're still up in the air about stopping along the way.
And yes, I still have perma-grin. Did I mention I love road trips?
(Plus I'll be an Auntie then!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I broke another seam ripper! SO frustrating.
Anyone out there have a good seam ripper to recommend?


What?! Going outside in the middle of the day?! Have I finally gone off the deep end?

It's true. I left the sheltering confines of my cubicle today to make a quick trip to the grocery and back. I made good use of my short walk across the parking lot to snap a few quick pics of *gasp* blue sky and cracked windows! The first time I've been able to leave my car window cracked in ... uh ... hmm ... I don't know how long!

And here's a look at the passenger seat. Really takes you back, huh? (It's been so long since it has acted as studio to my lunchcapades pics!)

I've gotten SO much into the habit of grabbing my raingear before leaving the house, I just naturally did so again this morning despite the radio comentators making such a big deal about no rain in the forcast! (stuffed on the other side of the box)

I also wanted to show you another organization tool I've implemented. I have about three of these thin expanding file folders around the house, so I grabbed one, emptied out the three-year-old receipts, and started stuffing papers into it. I have a pocket with my idea notebook, a pocket with my current reading list book and journal; and the rest of the pockets are slowly filling up with random papers that I seem to accumulate, throw in my bag or onto the car seat, and re-discover three weeks later crumpled up and long forgotten. Meantime, I usually search high and low for them, figure they've been inadvertently thrown away, and make a new list or create a new document.

No more! Now I can just stuff it in one of the pockets and I'll know where it is when I need to retreive it later.

We'll see how long it lasts!


When diluted vinegar didn't get the stink out of my plastic mixing cup, I thought it was over.

But thanks to Elle, it's smelling clean and ready to use again! She suggested hydrogen peroxide and I said Why Not? So I filled the cup with 4 oz hydrogen peroxide and 12 oz water and let it sit overnight. Actually, it was about 13 hours!!

And what do you know?! It's saved!

Thanks a bunch Elle!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Central New Hampshire camping pics

Feeling Zen

A few pictures of my camping weekend.

If you concentrate, you can see the rainbow between the groups of trees.


Anyone know how to get the stink out of plasticware?
I have looked for solutions online, but didn't find any specific to plastic containers. I did, however try one that seemed like it might work.
I have a cup for mixing up my protein shake. It looks similar to those salad dressing mixers. I guess I left it for WAY too long. I found it while cleaning out the back of my car. Mmmm. Could have been there for ages!
It smells, quite literally, like skunk. I don't want to throw it out, but cannot imagine drinking out of it when it smells that bad!
Last night I left it soaking with 4 oz white wine vinegar and 12 oz hot water. No change. Any other suggestions?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reality Check

Even as I blog about setting goals, saving money, lifestyle changes, personal problems, etc...a team of 6 people that I know personally is in Rwanda, Africa on a discovery mission, the first organized overseas mission trip for our church. They are there to explore and discover ways that our church can best utilize our resources to help these people. They live in unimaginable conditions and yet have such hope and joy in their lives. It breaks my heart that I take so much for granted, yet I'm still discontent; while they have less than what I would consider nothing and yet are content to live that life.
As I read the latest blog entry by Bruce, one of the elders and an all-around sweet, compassionate man, my mind scrambles for ways I might possibly use the talents God has given me to help these people.
Then I wonder how I could ever help them. There is so much need.

Then I recall the story of the young boy and the beach filled with starfish. It went something like this:
A young boy was seen wandering slowly down the beach one day. He would stoop down, grab a starfish and fling it back into the ocean. The beach was filled with thousands of starfish and an older gentleman shouted to him from atop a sanddune, "you'll never get them all back in the water! It won't make a difference how long you're down there!"
The young boy looked down at the starfish in his hand before replying, "Maybe not, but I'll make a difference to this one!" Then he flung yet another starfish back into the ocean before it dried up and died.

I've always been one to change the chanel when I see a commercial about supporting a child in a third world country. Growing up, there were too many stories about poorly managed charities, scams and other sorts of stories that made me look away. All too easily.
Last week, one of the team members that is now in Rwanda did the Sunday sermon. He challenged us not to change the channel. He challenged us to sit and watch. To sit and imagine life as those children live.
It's been a real wake-up call. Yeah, I run the mission for supplying furniture and home goods to people in need in our city. Yeah, I helped out when we had major fires this spring and over a hundred people were suddenly homeless. Yeah, I participated in the Cardboard City Fundraiser. Yeah, my heart breaks when I read the blog about the team traveling in Rwanda. But what do I have to show for it? A couple of gold stars and some tears and a worn out spot on the couch.
What will it take to drive me to action? And is all of my mind-scrambling, wondering how I can help, going to result in action or just a few minutes of mind-scrambling and a deep sigh?
Indeed, what will it take.


I usually enjoy wrapping presents. I take joy in making things presentable in a pleasing style. It's not a chore. Usually. Except on Christmas morning before we load the car up to go to the in-laws. Or in the breakroom at work right before I run to the post office to send it half way across the country in hopes that it'll get there in time for "the event."

As I've mentioned before, I made a baby blanket and fun square for my hubby's brother's upcoming arrival. We don't know the gender yet and my SIL doesn't like "cutsie" stuff (frankly, I agree with her,) so it made picking out the colors and materials that much more challenging, but I was really excited about the end result. Then I went to pack it up to mail. It's going in a box with another gift, so it had to squish up real tight in order to fit in the flat rate box, but I made it work. Except it took ForEver!

(This is the blanket AND fun square wrapped up together!!)

Because I had to squish it up so much, I decided to write a little poem of explanation. It also covered the concern my hubby had about making sure they knew I'd made it. And my point that it was even more special than a normal handmade item because it was the first baby blanket I ever made.

Here's the poem:

I'm wrapped up so tight
'cuz I took my first flight!
I came all this way
to meet my new playmate.
I was made by hand
(Megan's first try, by the way.)
So glad I could land
and see your smile today!

It's not a prize winner, but it got the message across! (And it was totally thought up in about 2 minutes, so give me some credit there!)

In case you're wondering, the envelope says (Just untie the yellow organza to unwrap the "roll") because there are a ton of other ribbons on the other side, but they're part of the "fun square."

"Heath Bars"

This was my favorite recipe of the weekend! (Contributed by my MIL)

They aren't actual heath bars, but taste like it! The basic recipe is as follows, but you can add any kind of topping imaginable. Except olives. I wouldn't recomend olives.

Saltine crackers
1 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
chocolate chips
any additional topping (Within reason. Again, you could try olives, but *shiver*, I wouldn't if I were you.)

I wasn't provided with any measurements except as listed above, but I used a little over a sleeve of saltines and 36 oz chocolate chips (24 oz regular and 12 oz white). It could probably be done with 18-24 oz though. I also added some real heath bar crumbles. (My imagination was pretty much dormant last night!)

First, line the cookie sheet with foil, then lay out the saltines in a single layer.
I melted the butter in the microwave, but it could be done on the stovetop easily.

Then add the cup of sugar to the butter and mix until it's well blended. (This actually takes awhile.)

Once mixed well, drizzle the butter/sugar mixture over the crackers and spread gently. It'll be pretty thick.
(My camera battery then putzed out from a whole weekend of work, so I didn't get a shot of the next couple of steps)
Place into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until browning on top. For me this only took 6 minutes, so don't go far!
Then while it's still hot, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the entire sheet and allow them to soften, then spread with a rubber spatula. (again, I mixed white chocolate chips in for the marbled look.)

Then add whatever topping your imagination comes up with, and allow to cool. I actually left it overnight. Then cut and enjoy!
This is a look at the underside...sooooooo good! Crispy like heath and sweet sweet sweet!

Catching up...

I'm officially back from camping, an internet-less weekend. By choice. Our campground actually had wifi and I did bring my laptop so I could empty my memory card as it filled up, but I stayed away from blog-land and e-mail.
I'm having such a great time catching up on all the posts I missed over the weekend! I'm salivating over Busy Bee's canning treasures, it's inspiring me to log onto Craigslist and look for more canning equipment!
I'm SO excited about Karen finally ariving in Anchorage after her 7-day solo driving tour from North Carolina! I can't wait to see Alaska through her alaska-virgin eyes! My parents did the same trip, but from Connecticut, back in 1972. Except they did it with a 2-year old (my big brother) to boot!
I'm also happy for Triz, who is on the Front Page! She's just the nicest person, and a wonderful, inspiring artist as well! Couldn't happen to a nicer person!
Checking in on Shelly and Hope is always a treat! Hope's concentration with the horses and ponies is so cute!
And I can't wait to make this bag! Darling Petunia has such elegance and style! Of course, that's going to have to wait until the other 15,000 ideas I have lined up have been done! Naw, I'll just do it now!
And I LOVE Stephanie's jars! Another idea for a rainy day. Maybe if I schedule it now, I'll get it done by mid-October.
I SO wish I lived in Tampa Bay, (and hadn't taken the Buy Nothing Challenge,) because I'd TOTALLY snatch up this blender!
I found that I could relate to a lot of the readers from Simple Dollar's mailbag, especially Dody (feeling like you're not doing enough; The steps I'm taking seem miniscule in relation to my goals) But Trent's encouragement to break it down into weekly goals is right on.
Reading about Journeyer's July Goals Review reminds me that it's important to make goals not only in finance, but all areas in life. (And to have them posted in front of you all month too!!)
And Leah's post made me laugh, because it's the same question I've asked myself constantly in the last month as we've had so much rain! (Are there any other ideas for how to use the dehumidifier water besides throwing it down the drain?)
Not to mention Bragger's Un-Goals for the New School Year. Seriously, totally laugh-worthy material!
I couldn't wait to hear about Jana's most recent Journey, and was inspired by her insight on the woman with the alabaster box.
I was also more than eager to get an update on my church's current trip to Rwanda. I'm excited that they also including a post with some pictures.
I found another book I need to read. Except it may just end up being more clutter. Which would kind of defeat the purpose. (When organizing isn't enough, shed your stuff, change your life.)
And finally, Laura reminded me that it's Menu Plan Monday. But the day's not over yet!!
My hubby and I saw lots of bikes this weekend up north in the lakes region of New Hampshire. It made us consider riding up on our bikes next year instead of the truck. Sounds like a great idea to me! (Now we just need to find good deals on a couple of bikes and the funds to pay for them with!)

the good the bad and the ugly revisited

I received a quite insightful comment on an earlier post and again found myself responding at length. I think I'd rather share it here though....

(parts of the comment:)

...I found I felt much better when I stood up for myself to my ex's family. I wasn't rude. I just did what I thought was best for myself and my family... If they didn't like it... That was their problem. The interesting thing about difficult people is they never go away.
...Love and take care of yourself... Always tell the truth in love and don't be too hard on yourself:) It really is the best way to love your husband :)

(my response:)
Earlier in the year I was seriously contemplating divorce and the thing that made me feel the best about it was the fact that I wouldn't have to deal with his family anymore. (We don't have kids, so we'd essentially be going our own ways.) Now that I've recommitted to the marriage, time and time again I realize that his family is the biggest wedge between us. It's where most of the dissension begins.
I am beginning to calmly stand up for myself and my decisions without apology, but without being rude about it. I can only take responsibility for my actions and reactions. Their happiness is up to them. And I think my hubby is just starting to catch on too. But even that isn't my responsibility, it's his.
You make a very good point that difficult people never go away. No matter how much we grow and mature, it often has no bearing on others' maturity. But we can live in peace when we take responsibility for ourselves and let them have responsibility for themselves. Even if they want to blame us, we don't have to take that on.
I was blessed that I had a personal counseling appointment Friday afternoon right before we went camping with his family. "Bill" pointed out two things to me. 1.) the "Leave and Cleave" command in Genesis is directed to the son. It's not completely the parent's responsibility to let their child go, it's also up to the son to make changes to his relationship with his parents. Not that he should completely cut them out of his life, but there is a change in priorities that should occur, and it's his responsibility to initiate that. It's naturally designed to occur in the adolescence, but often enough never occurs at all.
2.) Philippians 4:4-8 gives us a good guideline to achieving peace.
A.) "Rejoice in the Lord" (so hard to do when focusing all our energy on the people who are driving us crazy!)
B.) "Don't be anxious for ANYthing."
C.) "Instead pray and petition." The word used for Petition means a detailed request. This is more for our benefit than for God's because he already knows! But it creates intimacy when we spend the time to get into detail in our cry for help.
D.) "With thanksgiving." Why would we be thankful? Because it's an opportunity for growth in our lives. Because it's an opportunity for us to become more intimate with God. For any number of reasons. Maybe it's and opportunity to portray God's compassion to those that are hurting us.
E.) "Think on things..." that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It's really hard to remain tense and anxious and focused on retaliation when we're thinking on this kind of thing, isn't it! LOL.
A tool that Bill encouraged me to initiate is to take notecards and write verses on them that would help me to "think on these things." I did just that over the weekend, starting with these very verses! Others that I've added are Romans 8:28 , James 1:2-6 and Jeremiah 29:10-13.

By way of follow-up, on the surface, it seems that the weekend went fairly smoothly. I fully expect that my hubby will get a scathing phone call this afternoon though. *sigh*, another reminder that we can't control their actions and feelings. They may have the perspective that we MAKE them feel this, but the reality is that they choose their feelings, even as we choose ours. We can choose to live our own lives or continue to be puppeted by them. I even found myself at times over the weekend reading insult into probably innocuous things, but caught myself most times before I jumped to that conclusion. I imagine the same is true for them. Though whether they "caught themselves" or were looking for insult is up to them, not me.

I am at peace this morning knowing that I did what I could while maintaining my personal boundaries and there is nothing that I would do differently.