Monday, December 21, 2015

Year in Review 2015

I have a tradition here on the blog of reviewing the year every December. I like to take a look back at what posts resonated with readers, what old posts continue to get attention, and which ones meant the most to me. 

So, basically, this post is going to be a post full of links to older posts. Maybe you will remember some or discover some you missed. Maybe you just completely mentally checked out from reading the rest and that's ok, too. (If so, just skip to the bottom for a little message from me!)

(Last week, I also looked back at the resolutions I made for 2015 to see how I did!)

These are the posts published in 2015 that received the most views:
  1. The most viewed post was my Summer Bucket List! I did this one in May as part of the Tuesday Ten linkup.
  2. Teaching Children about Compassion was my second most viewed post. I wrote this one as a part of the #1000Speak blogger movement that was aimed at bringing a little compassion and kindness to the world.
  3. Third on the list is the final One Word Challenge post in which I announced that it would become a regular linkup. I was so glad to see others excited about participating.
  4. Next, was I Will Laugh With Them, a post I wrote about taking time to embrace special moments, let go, and laugh a little.
  5. The Convoluted Emotions of Motherhood, is the post that comes fifth on the list. I guess lots of parents can relate! 
  6. Because of my past experience as a teacher, Child Abuse Awareness is something important to me, so I;m glad my post from April on that topic made it on this list, too! 
  7. In Forgotten, Ridiculous, Elusive Balance, I reflected on what it really means ti live a "balanced" life. Apparently, this is another topic that "speaks" to people.
  8. Sometimes, I am surprised by the posts that end up on this list. A Fly On the Wall: A Currently Post was a Tuesday Ten post I threw together when I couldn't think of anything else! (Hint: It's going to become a regular thing in 2016!)
  9. Dear Daughters, I Remember was a sentimental One Word Challenge post inspired by  the word "Remember."
  10. Mysteries of Motherhood finishes out this top ten list. Apparently, many of us are still trying to figure out where in the heck all the missing socks have gone! 
The numbers don't always reflect the posts that were actually my personal favorites. Other than the most viewed ones listed above, these are some of my favorites from 2015.

Of course, the longer blog posts exist on the internet, the more time they have to accrue views. These are the five posts that have received the most all time views on blog.
  1. Thanks to Pinterest, this White Chicken Chili recipe (published January, 2014) is, by far, the most viewed blog post I have ever published. 
  2. My personal all time favorite, Lessons I Want To Teach My Daughters (Published April, 2011), continues to hole the #2 spot. 
  3. Another recipe, Crock Pot Ham, Potatoes, and Green Beans (published Sept. 2013) comes in at number three. 
  4. I guess folks like recipes, becasue another one, Easy Stromboli (published May, 2014) is at #4.
  5. Ending the list at #5 is this Letter To My Daughter Upon Entering Middle School (published august, 2013).
Some other Highlights from the year:
  • After several failed attempts, I was finally accepted and had Does Being a Stay At Home Mom Make Me a Good Example for My Daughters followed by seven additional posts published there and opportunity for that to continue.
  • I was also published on Scary Mommy, Scary Mommy's Club Mid, and Ten to Twenty Parenting.
  • I continued the Tuesday Ten Weekly Linkup with my co-host Rabia and turned the One Word challenge into a weekly link up as well with my co-host Janine. (Both have been awesome, but a lot of work and participation has dwindled, so both will be monthly in 2016.)
Last, but certainly not least, I want to send a huge "THANK YOU" to everyone who has stopped by and read my blog during the past year. Your comments and support mean the world to me!!

I'm taking the rest of 2015 off from blogging. I hope to use the time to do a little blog planning for 2016, but you won't see any new posts here or much of me on social media until after the new year. 

I hope everyone has a very Happy Holiday!!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 Resolution Review

Back in January, we jumped on the bandwagon for #TuesdayTen and listed our resolutions for 2015. I had originally intended to do quarterly resolution reviews, but only managed to crank out one in April. So, I thought that, with the year quickly coming to an end, I would take one last look back at my 2015 goals and see how I did. 
  1. Read 6 novels in 2015. I got off to a great start with this one early in the year. I even put together a list of books I wanted to read in February! I read (1)Landline, (2)Gone Girl, and (3)The Light Between Oceans. While we spent a week at the beach over the summer, I also read (4)The Girl on The Train. It wasn't on my list, but I read (5)Wonder by R.J. Palacio as well as part of a study I did at my church. Then, this fall, I fell completely off the wagon. I bought All The Light We Cannot See with intentions of reading it during all the minutes I spend sitting in school carpool lines. Truthfully, though, the book completely intimidated me like a high schooler with a book report assignment. I finally cracked it open a couple weeks ago and love what I have read so far - I just don't have much time to read right now. Maybe I can finish it by the end of the year??? However, I did finish the year with (6)For The Love by Jen Hatmaker, so technically, I met my goal of reading 6 books. 
  2. Get content with my body. Back in April, I was in the midst of trying to get some answers regarding my unexplained weight gain and I gave myself a grade of C- on this one. Well, I might upgrade myself to a B now. I went through the processes visiting my general doctor as well as an endocrinologist to see if anyone to figure out why I've gained nearly 30 pounds in a little less than 2 years and explain a few other minor symptoms. The good news is, none of the doctors can find anything wrong with me. The bad news is that means there is no explanation or easy fix. Furthermore, other than the weight (and therefore my BMI) I am completely healthy. My blood pressure is great. My cholesterol is absolutely normal. all my hormone levels are what they should be. With that knowledge, I have arrived at somewhat of an "It is what it is" attitude. I'm still not happy with my weight or my pant size, and I vacillate between "I don't care" and "I'm going on a diet!"  Overall, though, I've (mostly) stopped obsessing and I'm more accepting than I was at the beginning of this year. 
  3. Go to the gym at least twice a week.  I don't like the gym. My resolution was made in an effort to help with accepting my body. However, it often has the opposite effect. Exercising hasn't helped me to lose any weight and, usually, I end up focusing on what I don't like and comparing myself to others way too much while I'm there. I've done it, though, for the sake of being healthy. I didnt' go at all this summer because I had the kids and there have been some weeks when I was sick or I had a sick kiddo at home and couldn't go. Most weeks, I make it there twice, though.
  4. I will implement a chore system and stick with it until it becomes a habit! It's not for lack of trying, but this one has been a complete failure! No matter how or what I've tried, getting my kids to clean up continues to be a battle.
  5. My fifth resolution was to keep the first 4! Ha! Guess I thought I was pretty clever with that one! Overall, I think I would give myself a grade of C. I haven't been perfect with any of them, but I've tried really hard with all of them and had at least a little success with all but the chores.
Did you keep your 2015 resolutions? Resolution Review @TheGoldenSpoons
My next five resolutions were specific to blogging.
  1. Post consistently 2-3 times a week. Well, I've forced myself into doing this one by co-hosting Tuesday Ten and the One Word Linkup, so I was essentially required to post twice a week. What I've learned, though, is that quantity doesn't necessarily mean quality. In 2016, I think I would be content with once a week as long as it's a good post that isn't thrown together at the last minute due to a looming deadline.
  2. Take 4 planned blogging breaks! Yes! I did this. I took a break one week in the spring, one week in the summer when we were on vacation, and a break this fall. I'll be taking the last two weeks of 2015 off as well!
  3. Post a Sunday Supper recipe on the second Sunday of every month. Epic Fail! I did it in February and then didn't post another one until October. Those are the only two I did all year!
  4. Have at least 6 posts featured on other sites. I did this, although not with as much variety and vigor as I had planned. In January, after several failed attempts, I was finally accepted onto The Huffington Post. This was a major accomplishment and I had  several other posts published there as well. I was also published on Club Mid (now part of Scary Mommy) and Scary Mommy. During this year, it seems several bloggers have quit their own blogs and starting writing only to submit to larger sites. The competition is stiff, the payoff of being published is small, and the pain of repeated rejection has made this one much less appealing. 
  5. Have pieces accepted to two more anthologies. This one is a mixed bag. I had one accepted, but decided to withdraw my essay due to some creative differences. I had another accepted early in the year, but the book has not come to fruition. I submitted to one other and was rejected. 
Honestly, I'm not usually a huge fan of resolution making because it often feels like setting myself up for failure. In 2015, however, I really made a conscious effort to keep my goals n mind throughout the year. Although I only "officially" reviewed my progress once, I did look back at these resolutions and think about them often. I'm not sure if I'll make any resolutions in the new year, but I'm glad It did it in 2015! 

Did you make any resolutions this year? Have you thought about them lately? How did you do?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Feeling Scrooge-y!

Have you ever heard the expression "herding cats?" It's supposed to refer to an impossible task. I'm actually a dog person. I'm really not fond of felines at all, but I suspect actually attempting to herd cats would be quite frustrating. I'm very allergic to cats also, which would make the job that much more annoying.

If you've followed our Tuesday Ten posts for long, you know that there some crazy, random, made up holidays on the calendar and it just so happens that today, December 15, is Cat Herders Day. One website gives this explanation of the day: 

A day for those of us who feel like we’re tasked with the impossible, Cat Herders Day recognizes the frustration of trying to manage the unmanageable. Whether it’s work, home, school or other areas of life, if it feels like herding cats, today’s your day.

I spent a good part of my day today trying to finish up my Christmas shopping and it felt very much like herding cats. By the time I had to go get in the carpool line at my kids' school, I was frustrated and, quite frankly, feeling pretty Scrooge-y. At the risk of sounding exceptionally "Bah Humbug"-ish, here are some of the things that frustrate me when I'm holiday shopping.
  1. Traffic - Roads and parking lots are packed and it seems, sometimes, the holidays make people lose all common sense and decency behind the wheel!
  2. Inconsiderate people - The people who won't move because they are oblivious to the other shoppers waiting to get to that same item; the people who cut you off for a parking space (see #1), the people who hit you with the door at the post office because they are in such a hurry and, then, they don't even apoloigize (Yes, that happened) - people forget their manners when they are Christmas shopping!
  3. Crowds - There are just people everywhere.
  4. Weather - Today, in NC, it was about 70 degrees and raining - not very Christmas-like weather.
  5. Items in the wrong place - I was looking for a book and the computer said the store had it and even showed me where it should be located on the store map. I looked three times. It wasn't there.
  6. Items out of stock - The other book I wanted to buy is only available online. 
  7. Money - Christmas shopping certainly isn't inexpensive! 
  8. There is always "one more thing." - When I think I'm finished, there always seems to be just one more thing I need to get. (I almost always forget about stockings until the last few days!)
  9. The nagging sense that I'm forgetting something. - See #8. For the entire month of December, I have that feeling that I am forgetting something very important.
  10. General commercialism - I was talking with a friend today about what gifts we are getting our children. We are both having the same dilemma - our children don't need anything and, really, they don't even want very much. We, however, are running all over town stressed out about finding all the right presents to put under the tree.We do it to ourselves, but it totally overshadows the real meaning of the holidays. 
Despite the impression you probably have by now after reading my list, I really do love Christmas. In fact, it is my favorite holiday. I love the time with family and friends. I love the excitement and laughter. As I typed this, two of my girls were in the next room giggling as they decorated a gingerbread house. Despite the shopping headaches, I love seeing the eyes of someone I love light up when they open their gifts. 

Sometimes, like today, I just get caught up in the shopping and "gotta get it" mentality. I forget what the season is really about. Deep down at the core, that is what really gets me frustrated and angry - my own failure to keep the "busy" from getting to me.

(I will also admit that, since I accidentally killed Santa Claus a few months ago, the shopping this year has definitely lost some of the fun and magic.)

For now, I'm going to shake off the "Bah Humbugs," spend some time with my family, and try to remember my Amazon password for all the shopping I still have left to do!!!

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet?? Better yet, have you started??

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
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We'll be taking the rest of 2015 off to enjoy the holidays. Starting in January 2016, #TuesdayTen will only happen once a month on the first Tuesday. More details to come! 
The Golden Spoons

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Making Sure the Holidays Don't Overshadow December Birthdays (Happy Birthday Megan!!)

It's hard to believe that my silly, quirky, joyful middle child is 11 today!!
Happy Birthday Megan!!

When I was a kid, I don't recall having any friends that had December birthdays. (Perhaps I did, but did't' pay much attention since I wasn't the one organizing the parties!). As I got older that changed a bit and, now as an adult, I have several friends and relatives with birthdays during the last month of the year. Some of them have told me stories about how their birthdays seem to get "lost" in the hubbub of the holiday season. One friend recently told me that once her family actually forgot her birthday because they were so caught up in preparing for a special guest who was coming to visit during Christmas. 

I never "planned" on having a December baby (those kind of things can't always be timed, you know!) and I cannot imagine ever forgetting her birthday entirely. From her very first birthday, I was determined to keep her special day as separate from Christmas as possible. I will admit, though, that adding "one more thing" to the December calendar is a challenge and it does sneak up on me sometimes. This year, I was looking at the calendar during the Thanksgiving holiday and suddenly realized that the best weekend for her party was only two weeks away! 

Over the past 11 years, I have learned a few things that have helped to make sure her birthday is not overshadowed by the holidays. If you have someone special in your life with a December celebration, maybe these tips will hep you, too!

  1. Don't forget!!! This may seem obvious, but as I mentioned, it can sneak up on you sometimes. Make sure you plan ahead and don't let it slip under the radar!
  2. Plan around Christmas - Since my daughter's birthday is near the beginning of December, I usually try to plan something as early in December as possible. If it was later in the month, I would wait until after Christmas or even into January. I've found the further from the 25th your party is, the more likely it is people will actually attend and the less stressful it will be.
  3. Over-invite- You are not the only ones who are busy this time of year and chances are pretty good that at least 30-50% of the people you invite to a party will not be able to attend. If you are prepared to host 10, invite 15. (This year, we invited 8 and 4 actually came.)
  4. Be mindful of other holiday events - This year, my daughter wanted her party to be at an outdoor ice skating rink the city sets up every winter. We scheduled it not realizing that the city Christmas parade was the same day and several downtown streets would be blocked. Fortunately, it turns out to be no big deal, but little things like that can but a damper on the party.
  5. Keep Christmas out of it! - Don't buy cupcakes with red and green icing. Don't wrap birthday presents in Santa Claus paper. Don't give ornaments and candy canes as party favors.
  6. PSA: DON'T WRAP DECEMBER BIRTHDAY PRESENTS IN SANTA PAPER! Plus a few other tips for celebrating Dec. bdays. @TheGoldenSpoons
  7. Go overboard - No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape the fact that the holidays happen in December. Stores and party venues will be decorated with Christmas trees and wreaths. People will be busy with parties and Nutcracker ballets. In order to make the BIRTHDAY stand out, you have to go a little bit above and beyond what you might do in any other month.
This holiday season, I hope you will make the people you love who just happen to have birthdays in the middle of the madness feel just as special as they deserve! 

**It should also be noted that my other two daughters both have birthdays close together in August. I always feel guilty that my middle one (the one with the December birthday) is left out then. This may contribute to my desire to make sure she gets her far share of the spotlight in December.

Do you or someone you know have a December birthday? 


This post is part of the Finish The Sentence Friday linkup hosted this week by Kristi of Finding Ninee and me! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Days Go By

As I started thinking about this post, a song by Ketih Urban popped into my mind. I remembered the tune. I also remembered the tag line incorrectly. I thought it was "Days Gone By," but couldn't' recall all the words, so I looked them up and realized my mistake. I think it still fits, though.
Days go by,
I can feel 'em flying
Like a hand out the window in the wind.
The cars go by,
It's all we've been given,
So you better start livin' right now,
'Cause days go by.
The days do fly by, don't they? Maybe that's because I tend to spend more time looking toward the future than I do reminiscing about the past. The nature of my life as a mom of three busy girls is to think about what's next - who needs to get to where, what homework is due tomorrow. We are in the midst of deciding which high school my oldest will attend next year (gasp!) and that has led to discussions about college and beyond. 

Even here on the blog, I've taken time to think about my bucket list for life, what I would put in a time capsule for my future descendants to find, and some inventions I hope will have come to fruition in the next several years.

Today, however, I'm turning the tables; taking a moment to think about days that have already gone by and ones that I would like to relive again.
  1. My after graduation beach trip - It was a tradition - after graduation, teens from my high school went to Myrtle Beach for Senior Week. My parents didn't want me to go, but I was determined. It was my first taste of freedom. 
  2. My first day at college - Like many overzealous 18 year olds, I was very excited to be out on my own at college. I would love to feel that sense of freedom again (and, I would make sure my parents didn't lock their keys in the car as we hugged good-bye!). 
  3. My wedding day - Our wedding was small and simple, but I wouldn't change it. What I would do, though, is take it in more instead of letting it be such a whirlwind and a blur. I would also stop the photographer sooner so that David and I could have actually enjoyed some of the food at our reception!
  4. If you could relive your wedding day, what would you do differently? #TuesdayTen @TheGoldenSpoons @MamaRabia
  5. Being a teacher  -I taught special needs preschoolers before I was a mom myself. Sometimes, I think about how differently I might have done things and interacted with parents if I'd had the experience of being a parent myself. I do get to relive this a little now in my part-time job, but I sometimes wish I had the chance to go back and change the way I handled a few things with the older, wiser perspective I have now.
  6. The day we said "good-bye" to "Squirt." - I would have an almost 20 year old now, but if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn't have let her go. 
  7. The days each of my daughters was born - Well, maybe - because labor and delivery are awful. Being in the hospital is awful. Recovering from episiotomies and figuring out how to breastfeed are awful. BUT, there is absolutely nothing on earth like the moment you child comes into the world, you hear them cry, and feel the weight of their tiny body resting on your chest. That part, I would do over a million billion times.
  8. Our trip to Paris - This trip I took with David was the first time I had been outside of the US and it was amazing and I was hesitant to go for many reasons. However, once I was there, I was completely mesmerized by the history and beauty of Paris. Despite recent events, or maybe even because of them, I would go back again in a heartbeat - no hesitation.
  9. Our trip to Disney - It's been four years since our one and only trip. When I looked back on my sad, skimpy post about it, I was amazed by how little my girls looked! I would love to go back, but we all know Disney isn't an inexpensive trip for a family of five! 
  10. Our trip to San Francisco - I just realized that I never even wrote a post about this one! In August 2014, David had to go there on a business trip. The girls and I had been itching to do a little traveling and the timing worked out, so we went about as spontaneously as a family of five can go on a cross country trip! It was the first "big city" the girls had experienced and we had a great time. I would go back - to another city with them - anytime!
  11. Today, and everyday - I was harshly reminded last week that we aren't guaranteed any day here on Earth. Every day is a gift -the awesome ones, the good ones, the bad ones, and the really hard ones. It's an easy thing to forget in the busyness of life. If I had the chance to do any day over again, I hope I would recognize it for the gift and opportunity it is and make an effort to do it better and appreciate it more the second time around.
Which days or events would you like to relive??
Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
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We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen!
If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click here.

Upcoming topics:
- December 15 - is National Cat Herders' Day. Herding cats would be very frustrating, so we want to know what is frustrating you! Vent a little! :-) (For a better explanation, go HERE.)
- December 22 and 29, we'll take some time off for the holidays. 
- Starting in January 2016, #TuesdayTen will only happen once a month on the first Tuesday. More details to come! 

The Golden Spoons

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Currently . . .

It's 8:15 on Tuesday night and this post is supposed to go "live" at 6:00am tomorrow  (Wednesday) morning. In those 10 hours, I've got to pack lunches, fold laundry, put my daughters to bed, and put myself to bed.

I also have to finish this blog post, but, honestly y'all, my heart and mind are somewhere else tonight. 

Normally, I know the prompts for these posts well in advance (I make them up, after all), so I let them rattle around in my mind for a week or so until some inspiration hits and, then, I get the post written a couple days in advance. With the Thanksgiving holiday, though, that didn't happen this time. I thought that, when the kids were back in school on Monday, I would have time to work on this, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

I won't give specifics because they aren't mine to give. I will simply say that a student at the school my two youngest daughters attend passed away Monday night as the result of a car accident. The past two days have been full of questions, tears, hugs, sadness, and love. 

My heart is heavy for the student's family and the classmates, my children included, who now must find a way to cope with such an unthinkable loss. 

Needless to say, this post has not been at the top of my priority list, but sometimes, for me, writing helps. I can let myself get lost in the words and it somehow brings a little comfort. So, as the night winds down and my children sleep peacefully (because it's taken me nearly two hours to get this far), I'm falling back on an old blogging standby - the "Currently" post.  

Currently I am . . . . . . .
  • Reading All The Light We Cannot See. Yes, I'm a little behind. I actually bought the book a few months ago with intentions of reading it during my many hours waiting in carpool lines, but didn't actually crack it open until a couple days ago.
  • Planning for Christmas- shopping, events, food. Also, for Megan's 11th birthday party this weekend. 
  • Stressing because I am so far behind on my Christmas shopping. I ordered a couple things on Cyber Monday and that's all I've done so far. I'm usually about half way finished by now. 
  • Wishing that life and death were easy; that complicated explanations could be more simple; that children didn't have to die or grieve or hurt; that families were never broken or separated; that "tragedy" was not a word in our vocabulary.
  • Feeling sad yet thankful. Thankful for a school community that has come together to support one another; thankful for friends and hugs; thankful that my girls are safe in bed at home tonight.
  • Listening to the Pentatonix Christmas Album. It's amazing and music is comforting.

  • Thinking about going to bed and about how fragile life is; how quickly it can change. I'm also remembering a quote from an article about grief that a friend shared earlier today.
  • Loving extra cuddles and hugs.
  • Wearing pajamas - it's now 10:16pm
  • Hoping that people will remember to think of how their actions affect others. Sometimes, we make decisions without using our good, common sense and the consequences and be devastating. 
  • This post will certainly not go down in the history books as one of my greatest, but it is what it is - at 10:32 on a cold, rainy night after a very long day. 

    As I told my best blogger friends in a Facebook message on Monday night, go hug your babies - even if they are aren't babies anymore. Always tell the people you love that you love them and be generous with your hugs. We never know if "this time" will be the last time. 

    This post was part of the One Word Blog Linkup hosted by, Janine of Confessions of a Mommyaholic and me! This week, the word prompt choices were Always, Simple, and Over. 

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