time: sworn enemy of bucket lists

I couldn’t get my act together for the football game. Well, let’s be honest…we didn’t have a free weekend in all of October and September, really. So attending a high school football game as a family just didn’t happen.

Next year we’ll just have to go to two of them. (I think that’s how it works.)

But hey…Hunger Games tickets HAVE BEEN PURCHASED. So at least we’re not completely sucking!

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I feel proud of the tiny bit of progress we’ve made. But I’m also panicking at HOLY CRAP NOT ENOUGH TIME DO ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

Helpful!

But…well, this kind of stuff makes the pressure to get it all done even greater:

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I’m really not a complete mess 100% of the time. When discussing plans for 2015 holiday with my family (yes, we know that’s two years away but whatever) I didn’t even cry as I mentioned that those holidays will be the first of Beezus coming home from school for the holiday break. No really…didn’t cry!

But man, time just keeps going by way to fast and I’m nervous that we won’t get to everything on our bucket list.

I may have to get a little more efficient and surprise her while she’s sleeping. You know, if I’m actually going to surprise her. Does ‘surfing’ the internet count as learning to surf as a family? Or maybe I should start a food fight AFTER we cook one of those fancy dinners.

I feel this is the may be the only way I’m going to keep up with this list.

 

 

 

not exactly how I planned it…

So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt bad. Hopefully we can arrange a do-over! But since I was looking forward to having a nice “staycation” with my husband, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But you know what? It was still a really great couple of days.

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Even though we had staycation plans, we knew that our early Saturday would be busy. Beezus had a big softball practice for the team’s upcoming tournament, so The Dude headed that way with her. Ramona and I headed out to join our family tradition of Pomegranate Weekend.

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The main point of this family tradition is to seed/press the pomegranates for the juice. That juice, in turn, is used to make some pretty fantastic things. Mainly the (somewhat famous, maybe kinda) pomegranate jelly. We also have an amazing tradition of pomegranate punch. But there’s also been pomegranate ice cream and wine made from the fruits of the family labor.

This was the 42nd weekend that our family has gotten together to do this. The process has changed over the years, but it’s still a big deal to all of us. And obviously, this has been a part of my history for more than all of my life. Sometimes sporting events get in the way, but I loved that I could be there for so much this year. And, believe it or not, this was the first year that I took part in every step of jelly making. I think I’m usually outside and not much more than a helper when it came to getting the jelly happening. But this year? Thanks to my aunt and my gram, and (bless you) my cousin, I actually made jelly.

This is probably more shocking to me than most. But still.

I. Made. Jelly.

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Hopefully it’s just as delicious as it should be! But if it’s not, well…it’s really no wonder. I probably shouldn’t have been trusted with all that sugar and juice and such.

* * *

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If you follow Life of Jill on Facebook, you may have seen a few things mentioned about Operation Eleanor. Today is November 4th and NOT TO LATE to join us as we choose to do one thing each day that scares us. And it’s amazing what can happen when you have fear but you do it anyway. Getting out of your own way is job one. Or at least it was for me. Once I got out of my own way, I started seeing a lot clearer…and making some kickass to do lists and some pretty rad plans.

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I hope you’ll join in. It’s amazing…it’s hard…and it’s so very worthwhile.

* * *

I forgot to show you some cute kids on Halloween:

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Or some BABIES that were married 16 years ago that just so happened to be featured on Fancy Pants Weddings.

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Yeah. I don’t have any words either. Except BABIES WE WERE BABIES OMG.

* * *

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This has nothing to do with anything, but this my breakfast yesterday. Actually, Eggs Benedict has everything to do with EVERYTHING so really it’s important that I’ve documented it here.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend…it’s about to be a REALLY busy week for our family over here. So I’m glad that I could look back on a great weekend, even if it REALLY didn’t go as planned.

I’m still holding out for that DO-OVER.

take me out at the ballgame

I knew going into this weekend that I would probably make an ass of myself somehow. Just getting through a normal day without inflicting harm upon myself is a huge accomplishment. Signing on to play a charity softball game? Well, that’s just asking for trouble.

AND YET.

Yesterday, my daughter’s competitive softball team participated in a Play for Pink charity softball tournament that benefited a local chapter of breast cancer awareness and research. However, instead of the girls playing, it was the parents. And the girls were our coaches. It was a wonderful idea! Clever and fun!

I was just as surprised as anyone when I agreed to this. My lack of athletic ability isn’t what any of us would call a secret. It’s amazing that I’ve made it through training and participating for several running events without falling or breaking anything. ::knocks on wood:: But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t terrified of getting injured. In fact, in the days leading up to the tournament, I had pretty well freaked myself out about the possibility of getting pegged in the head with a softball. No helmets + amateur, out of shape parents = ME GETTING PEGGED IN THE HEAD WITH A SOFTBALL.

I mean…it’s basic math. Right there.

Despite all the warning signs and math problems, we packed the ice chest and BBQ, laced up our tennies and headed out to the softball field yesterday morning. We played catch, warming up…for whatever it was worth. Yes, it’s good to warm up those muscles…and yes, it helped to get us going and moving and out there. But yeah…I wasn’t sure how much it would actually help me play an actual game of softball.

Which brings me to my second fear: STRIKING OUT.

I was somewhat expecting to strike out whenever I was up to bat. I can hit the ball ok during family softball practices…but I was pretty worried about softball stage fright when it came time for me to be up to bat in an actual game with people who don’t love me like my family does. I guess I just didn’t want to embarrass my kid. Or…myself.

*womp* *womp*

I switched off playing outfield in the first game. (Yes, the first game. Because I soon learned that there would be THREE.) And a little ways through the game, it was my turn to be up at bat.

Now what I’m going to tell you, is that I’m a very impatient batter. I just want to GET IT DONE. So I swung at the first pitch like I had been doing this all my life. And, not only did I make contact, but I hit it somewhere near the shortstop. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT…because I was RUNNIN. And I made it to first. Not only had I actually hit the ball, but I was safe! And yes! It probably had everything to do with an error in fielding, but shut up. I made it to first…and dammit let me celebrate because all my excitement is about to come crashing down.

Literally.

I can’t even tell you who was up to bat after me, but they hit the ball right near the second baseman. Force and all that, I was out. But I didn’t even have time to be bummed, because that sonofabitch playing second was trying for a double-play at first base. And HOLY SHIT I WAS IN HIS WAY OMG MY WORST FEAR IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN I’M ABOUT TO GET BEANED IN THE HEAD.

So I ducked.

And then I ate dirt.

Because Momentum, being the bitch that she is, well…she took me right down to the ground. Ducking so that I wouldn’t get hit in the head meant I would hit dirt. Knees scraped, hands raw…sunglasses down HITTING DIRT. For a split second, I do believe I contemplated staying there. BECAUSE WHY NOT.

But I didn’t.

I had some dusting off to do, and some filthy sunglasses to retrieve, as I made the walk of shame from between first and second bases to our dugout. Small blessings as they are, I was the third out, so many of our parents were headed out to take the field. I had a minute to pretend that I wasn’t embarrassed as that transition created a distraction for all of us. I searched for my mitt so that I could head to the outfield.

Except for that’s not what happened. Because I got benched by my own kid.

Being one of the captains of her team, Beezus helped lead the team that called the shots of batting lineups and positions played. And apparently my epic display of athleticism wowed her to the point of benching me.

Insult? Yeah, let’s add you to my injury.

But hey, since I’ve got all this free time on the bench, I might as well laugh with one of the other moms and then Instagram a picture of my battle wound. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOUR FIRST RULE OF THE DAY TO NOT GET HURT GOES RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW AND YOUR KID TOTALLY BENCHES YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE A KLUTZ.

 

Let's Instagram that shit.
Let’s Instagram that shit.

Laughing about it all the way home, as The Dude and I also lamented at how sore we both are, I stop and read the comments on a picture I posted on Facebook.

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I tear up as my aunt tells me how special it is that she’s one of the people we played for. And I’m reminded why I wanted to play in the first place. Because if these amazing women in my life (and people all over the world) can fight to kick cancer’s ass, I can totally make an ASS of myself out on a softball field for them…and for a really wonderful cause.

Do I hurt like hell today? Yes. All the things hurt, especially my knee.

But a great day, with great and wonderful people for an amazing cause makes it all worth it.

Although, amazing people and excellent cause aside for a minute, I have to tell you…I didn’t strike out. Not even once. Like, hit that ball better than I ever thought I would. Even impressed my family!

Yeah, sure…I also embarrassed them with my graceful face-plant in the dirt. But let’s let me have my moment.

However brief it may be.

 

my truth about consequences

It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.

My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.

Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.

Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.

I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.

But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.

I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.

Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.

That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.

“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”

That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.

But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)

Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.

There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.

I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.

My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.

In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.

With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.

remember that time we laughed so hard during wedding pictures?

Nothing snaps you back to reality after a fun wedding weekend filled with family like a puking kid early (EARLY) Monday morning. We’ll all just sit here and be incredibly relieved that Pukeapalloosa 2013 didn’t ruin any wedding festivities. I mean, what else CAN you do?

(Nothing. You can do nothing about pukes.)

But you know what will make you feel better? Wedding dancing!

 

 

I loved having my family in town. Like, super loved it. Especially having all of my siblings together.

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It’s not that I forget how much fun we have when we’re all together; I guess I just don’t really think about it when we can’t be in the same location. And then when we spent so much time together for the past week? Going back to normal life is a little bit of a bummer. Adding a sick kid on top of that is just adding insult to injury. (Although, look how cute they all are?)

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But you know what? I love that we have so much fun together. I love that we added one more to our family. I love these people so much. I just do.

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And I’m pretty excited to add another wonderful sister in-law that puts up with our really, really crazy family.

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So yeah…I’m coming down off my family high. And I’m missing everyone already.

It’s just…well, it would be A LOT more fun cleaning and doing laundry (even yucky laundry) if they were here too.

Love you guys.

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togever today.

Last night, as a last hurrah before my youngest brother gets married, the five of us siblings went out to dinner. Or dessert. It was late in the evening. Both were acceptable.

I’m sure we are completely annoying to everyone around us, but we think we’re hilarious. Side aches and tears streaming down our face from the laughing. Terrible jokes, FRIENDS references…lines from movies. Insults laced with sarcasm that are only funny, somehow.

I don’t think we talked about anything serious the entire night.

My brother told me that he farted just before our waiter took this picture. Because we’re 12, apparently.

 

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It’s blurry and a little grainy, but this is one of my favorite pictures ever.

I know my parents didn’t have an easy time raising five kids. Ginormous pain in the ass children that we are.

But holy crap, they did a great job.

And damn, are we funny.

Simple Fix: Monthly Fridge Calendar

So when I headed to Target for some organizational tools, I’m not sure that I expected the dry-erase calendar to be such a big hit. As I mentioned, three of us share a family calendar on our iPhones and you would think that this would be sufficient. I mean, I had to consult the electronic version of the family calendar to fill out this new calendar. And even as I’m filling it out for the current month, I kinda wondered if I had lost my ever-loving mind. Why was I doing double work for myself? My husband was skeptical. My children were non-interested. Had I missed my mark?

But then I put it on the fridge. You know, the one area of the house that gets the most visibility. And?

  • My husband noticed that Beezus has the SAT’s in two weeks.
  • Beezus noticed a couple of events The Dude and I have where she needs to be sure and be home on time.
  • Ramona noticed that I didn’t forget about her upcoming events.
  • The girls saw when their dad was going to be out of town and how we would coordinate.

(I’d like to say that my husband will stop teasing me that he doesn’t know when my brother’s wedding is, but we’ll applaud the progress that we’ve made.)

blurred images to protect the guilty
blurred images to protect the insanely busy

We are visual people. We have to see and see it again and again to keep it in the forefront of our very busy brains. The calendar on the iPhones are awesome and SUPER necessary, but we needed to have a global view of what’s going on in our family. A constant, visual reminder of where we need to be, what’s going on, and who it involves. It’s color coded, so everyone has a better idea of how to coordinate busy schedules. We’re not just assuming the other family members knows what’s going on. We are all looking at this same calendar.

I’m not saying we’ve solved world hunger or cured cancer, but this is a big step for us.

And since I knew that I had to change the way I thought about things, I made some changes of my own. On the same day I bought the calendar, I also purchased a notebook cover that has a clip board on the front. Tease me if you want to, but this clip board makes me happy. I’ve created a to-do list that breaks out the different areas of my life and that is always on the top of the clip board. I also include a monthly calendar for reference, some paperwork of various tasks I need to tackle and some scheduling tools that I use for blogging and social media. On the inside cover, there’s a pocket if I need to stuff something in there. And then, of course, the notebook/pad of paper for notes, etc.

I love it.

I’m not going to win any awards for my organization, but it works. Or at least it works for now until I need to adjust and make changes because my life adjusts and makes changes. We all know that my life is constantly moving and growing, so my organization has to be just as flexible as I need to be to keep up with my crazy family. But I love that, for right now, it works. And it works well.

 

mornings with mike…the flat stanley of instagram

I’m not even sure I could explain it. Even if I wanted to.

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Mike…poolside

I mean…it’s a coffee mug.

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the mike of the party

It started off as something fun to post on Instagram.

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Mike and the teenager

And then turned into an reoccurring theme. Like Flat Stanley who takes trips all of the world? Mike stays home, but…he’s just around, you know?

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Mike…poolside. Again.

I’m too old to be amused by this. And yet…it’s become something that makes me laugh. Makes other people laugh. It’s become a thing, dammit.

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Pretty sure I have a problem.

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Pretty sure I probably don’t care.

I think.

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Bucket List Dilemma

updated 10/1/13
updated 10/1/13

 

When I told my family I was making a College Bucket List, some of them were more helpful than others in coming up with ideas. The Dude offered “Trip to New York”.

 “I already have that one,” I said.

“Oh. Well, then I don’t know. I’m going to have to think about it.”

As far as I know, he’s still thinking.

Beezus had a couple of ideas. But they were mostly things that I had already put on the list, too.

Except for one thing.

My daughter wants to go on a shopping spree with me. For me. Because I don’t shop for myself. And I’m terrible at shopping. Not because I don’t like new things…but because I hate rifling through clearance racks and sale items. I would much rather have my shopping done for me. And since I can’t afford that style of shopping, I go without. Or avoid shopping all together. The idea of Bargain Shopping stresses me out, and so I don’t do it.

And my daughter wishes that I did. She wishes that I would go shopping with her.

It’s kinda adorable, really. Adorable and sweet and generous and cute. She’s all of those things…and it made me all verklempt that she wanted to add this shopping trip to our Bucket List. And not because she wanted it all for HER…she wanted to do this for ME. And then of course, “get a couple of things while we’re out and about.”

I mean, of course.

But as adorable as she is and this is, I felt guilty. I avoid this shopping stuff because it’s not a comfortable experience for me. It stresses ME out. So I avoid it. I don’t love my body shape. So I avoid it. I can’t afford to shop in the way that’s most comfortable for me. So I avoid it. (And, for the record, I hated shopping when I was practically a stick figure kind of skinny. I was a gangly teenager. Who wants to show THAT off?) (OMG I WOULD SO TOTALLY SHOW THAT OFF RIGHT NOW.)

My point in all this is that I need to find a way to be comfortable with myself if I’m going to teach my daughters how it’s done. If I can’t be an example of being comfortable in my own skin, why would expect them to be?

I don’t have an answers and I’m not really asking for them, either. I’m just trying to figure my shit out. Because you have no idea how important it is to me to cross these things off the Bucket List.

I mean, after I actually add that one onto the list, of course.

I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address

I’m trying to reorganize my life. That sounds a tad overdramatic, but it’s actually kind true. My life is busy and crazy, but it also changes quite a bit. Whatever system we try to use to keep us on track may not work after a few months because someone’s schedule changes or we have a new things added to the to-do list. And sometimes, we just need to press the reset button and figure our shit out.

Beezus, The Dude and I all use a shared (iCloud) calendar to try and organize some of the crazy. But there’s always something that can’t be tracked on that sort of device. I mean, I know it doesn’t make sense, but some tasks and reoccurring appointments that are easier to track on a visible calendar or white board where the entire family can see it.

After weeks like last week and this weekend, I faced today knowing that we needed to reassess our plan of attack. Our current system just isn’t working for our life right now. And while life may settle down in a few months (yeah right) we need a way to keep things more on track.

I also am still waiting for someone to figure out how to get more hours in a day. I still need sleep. But I need more time to accomplish all this.

After a trip to Target, I feel like I’ve made a good start. (Office supplies, FTW!) I’ve picked up a couple of supplies to (hopefully) help. I need to revisit daily tasks that need to be done as well as those tasks that need to be done weekly. (And a way to track/remind myself what needs to be done.) I need to figure out meal planning because we are only home in the evening one night a week right now. (I KNOW.) Life is super overwhelming right now because just keeping everything straight is next to impossible.

Last week I posted something on Facebook that I kinda felt bad about afterwards.

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Not everyone makes the same choices as me. I get that. And sometimes I have a hard time when people say that I should do things this way or that. (Ok, I often have a hard time with that.) When your priorities and choices are different, your life will not make sense to anyone else. It just better make sense to you. All this craziness needs to be worth it in some way, shape or form. And life balance? Sometimes just doesn’t exist.

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I spent pretty much the entire weekend watching my kid play softball. The same kid who also had homecoming Saturday night. And whose team made it to the championship game Sunday evening. She’s busy. And our weekend was busy supporting her. But I have no regrets that I was there and didn’t miss it.

Even if that means that today I’m faced with EVERYTHING that needs to be done.

So here’s to a little reorganization. It seems like a perfect time to re-think how we do things. Fall just feels like a natural time to make some changes, even if this is probably something I should’ve done a long time ago.

Now is as good of time as any.