Three Things Thursday! Looking Back

It’s Thursday, and for me that means I’m going to participate in Three Things Thursday. Except instead of sharing three things that made me smile this week, I decided to share the three biggest smiles of 2015. There were also some tears, but most of them were good tears. So, in chronological order, here we go.

First, after six years of university teaching in Taiwan, I returned back to Michigan to re-start my life back in the U.S. I left behind lots of friends in Taiwan, but I will always have a wealth of warm memories to keep me connected.

Second, my grandson, Jack was born in September to son, Tom and his wife, Megan! Even though I haven’t seen him since his arrival, the pictures his parents post never cease to take my breath away. I will make it a point to see more of him (and them) in 2016.

Third, my oldest son, Doug, married the love of his life, Jessica. I am blessed to now have all of my children married to people who so totally love them. At the wedding, all of my children were together for the first time in ten years. Two of the spouses were unable to attend, but we found a way to include them (to be posted at a later time). Doug and Jess’s wedding was a true delight, and I so enjoyed seeing Jess become part of our family and meeting her family as they welcomed Doug into theirs. The wedding was a true delight, and we’re already planning a trip to visit them next year at this time.

Of course, there were many other wonderful moments in 2015, and many of them will continue to unfold in 2016 and beyond, but these are the three events that stood out this year.

I wish everyone a 2016 filled with family, friendship, and just the right amount of challenge and inspiration. Happy New Year!

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If you want to join in Three Things Thursday, head over to Nerd in the Brain and check it out.

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10 Lessons 2015 Can Teach Us in 2016

Stephanie has listed ten 2015 lessons to take into the new year. I want to share them with you and remind myself. Thanks, Stephanie!

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DSC_0814 What path will you take in 2016?

It’s the last day of 2015, and as I tell my students in classes, sometimes when something comes to an end, it’s a good time to sit and reflect and write about things you’ve learned from it—or how you have grown from it. In this final post of 2015, I thought I’d touch upon some things that we all know are true, but we sometimes forget to initiate or appreciate. Therefore, what follows is my reflection on 2015, on lessons that were reinforced for me, and that no matter how old you get, there is power that comes from living and learning.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new; we all grow from new experiences and trying new paths.
  2. Age is just a number. You can still be fabulous even as the number of your age changes.
  3. Family is the most important thing…

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To or Not To Tuesday: Week 9

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the last Tuesday of 2015, the To or Not To Tuesday question seems an obvious one. To make New Year’s resolutions or not to make New Year’s Resolutions.

This is a question that a lot of people ask this time of year. Many people don’t bother, either because of their personal history with failed resolutions themselves or because of the awesome stats you can find all over the place about the high percentage of people who give up on resolutions within the first few months of making them. Or they make the same resolutions over and over again, year to year, as if doing things the same way is going to produce difference results.

Another problem is that the beginning of the year leads people to make resolutions about what they think they should do. Things they have failed at in the past. Things that they are destined to fail at again, because it’s not something they WANT, but only something they feel they should do. A real set-up for failure.

For me To or Not To Tuesday is a no to making resolutions. Instead, it’s a yes to exploring a few intentions to set for the new year. The difference is that an intention doesn’t require will power, but a plan and a bit of knowledge about advances in neuroscience. I am living proof that intentions can  change my life for the better, without any will power at all. When I tried will power, it never worked. However, I became sold on the difference between resolution and intention was when, for the first time in my life, I lost a significant amount of weight (50 lbs), and have kept it off for a year.

So I’m ready to make some new intentions and document my progress over the course of the weeks and months ahead a workable way to make positive changes. I’ll show you the resources that changed my way of thinking and made it possible for me to turn my back on resolutions once and for all, but not on setting goals that are totally achievable.

How about you?

Are you making some sort of list of goals, resolutions, or intentions?

Are you curious about my (finally) successful weight loss?

Are you curious about what crazy intentions I’ll set for 2016? (me, too!)  🙂

 

 

Building into the New Year

buildingromelogo-final3The last of my Building Rome posts for 2015. The list making really does help. When I get off track in making progress on what is necessary and important, having a list and some accountability as a result of posting that list have helped keep me focused on days when it would be easy to sidestep some of these tasks.

Even though it was Christmas week and even though I’m with my husband only for three weeks, I have made quite a bit of progress this week. Largely because the time I do spend on work is very focused on specific tasks identified at the beginning of my time here in Iowa. Let’s start by looking at what has been crossed off the list this week — literally.

Recap of the week of 12/21:

EDITING PROJECT

  • Set a chapter by chapter plan for completion
    • Week of 12/21: “Chapters 7, 8, 9”
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapters 10, 11, 12”
    • Half Week of 1/4: “Chapters 13 and 14”
  • Prepare a list of recommendations for reduction of length
    • Week of 12/21: “Chapters 1-7”
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapter 8-11”
    • Half week of 1/4: “Chapters 12-14”

WRITING

  • Review notes for article revision (NEW) started
  • Draft revised sections (NEW)
  • Write two thank you notes to students I tutor
  • Create a blogging plan
  • Map next writing project

TEACHING

  • Revise syllabus for Intro to Criminal Justice Course
    • Decide on focus chapters
    • Update assignments
    • Set up discussions in new format
    • Set up additional group activities
    • Change quiz format
    • Finalize course calendar
  • Create syllabus for Intro to Sociology course
    • Create assignments
    • Finalize course calendar
    • Set presentation dates
    • Review newer edition of textbook (2 1/2 chapters, more time consuming than planned)
  • Create Modules for the 7 weeks of the online portion of the course
    • Set sample Module with discussion and writing tasks (started)
    • Determine how many total modules are needed
    • Outline Modules for 4 Chapters
    • Week of 12/21: Complete 2 additional modules (after sample)
    • Week of 12/28: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Week of 1/4: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Map out release dates for modules

QUILTING

  • Stop trying to piece a back for the practice quilt; buy a piece of muslin
  • Prep practice piece for machine quilting (nearly finished)
  • Practice machine quilting
  • Machine quilt Jack’s quilt
  • Sew binding on Jack’s quilt
  • Take a few photos!

OTHER

  • Enjoy time with Dave
  • Enjoy more time with Dave
  • Fill out paperwork for sub teaching (just in case) (NEW) started
  • Order planner (NEW)
  • Get hair cut (NEW)
  • Get photos of Dave and me together NEW)

Updated list for the week of 12/28:

This list includes all of what I’m still working on for the duration of my time in Iowa, but I’ve prioritized them to target those that are most important (and, in some cases, most easy to let slip by).

EDITING PROJECT

  • Set a chapter by chapter plan for completion
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapters 10, 11, 12”
    • Half Week of 1/4: “Chapters 13 and 14”
  • Prepare a list of recommendations for reduction of length
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapter 8-11”
    • Half week of 1/4: “Chapters 12-14”

WRITING

  • Continue reviewing notes for article revision
  • Draft revised sections
  • Write two thank you notes to students I tutor
  • Create a blogging plan
  • Map next writing project

TEACHING

  • Revise syllabus for Intro to Criminal Justice Course
    • Update assignments
    • Set up discussions in new format
    • Set up additional group activities
    • Change quiz format
    • Finalize course calendar
  • Create syllabus for Intro to Sociology course
    • Create assignments
    • Finalize course calendar
    • Set presentation dates
    • Review newer edition of textbook
  • Create Modules for the 7 weeks of the online portion of the course
    • Set sample Module with discussion and writing tasks
    • Week of 12/21: Complete 2 additional modules (after sample)
    • Week of 12/28: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Week of 1/4: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Map out release dates for modules

QUILTING

  • Practice machine quilting
  • Machine quilt Jack’s quilt (BREAK INTO STEPS)
    • Outline the bears
    • Stitch individual blocks
    • Stitch borders and
  • Sew binding on Jack’s quilt
  • Take a few photos!

OTHER

  • Enjoy time with Dave
  • Enjoy more time with Dave
  • Finish filling out paperwork for sub teaching (just in case)
  • Get photos of Dave and me together
  • Draft a list of goals and intentions for the new year (NEW)

Weekend Coffee Share: December 27

Dave in Iowa 235If were having coffee, I would be treating you to the beverage of your choice at Elly’s Tea and Coffee. While I’m in Muscatine, IA with Dave, Elly’s is on my list of places to visit more than once. It’s located downtown, and it’s easily accessible by a bus that stops less than half a block from the house. When getting off the bus, it’s about a four-block walk. Yesterday, I went there with my computer and spent a large part of the day, 9 until almost 2:30, with a lovely lunch from their selection of sandwiches and soups of the day.

I’d also tell you that I will get back there for one more day there before leaving Iowa on the 7th. In that post, there will need to be a lot more photos than the ones that I’m including here. But hey, coffee shops.  🙂

Dave in Iowa 249

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that today marks the halfway point of my visit here in Iowa. I’m glad I allowed this much time to be here, because this stretch of time is giving me a real fix for the schedule that awaits me when I return home. Dave and I have had a lovely time together, and we still have another 11 days ahead of us.

I’d also tell you that Dave and I have been doing a lot of talking, planning, and doing to facilitate finishing what he wants to get done here, so he can return as early in the new year as possible–hopefully in February.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that in addition to the time with Dave and his family, and the projects he and I are working on, I am making progress on several of my projects while still having time to just enjoy my time away. I will be making another Building Rome post tomorrow, and I’m quite pleased with what I’ve managed to cross off the list this week.

For example, I’d tell you that the lap-size quilt I pieced in order to practice machine quilting is nearly basted. After practicing on it, I will be ready to take on the quilting for Jack’s quilt. I am hoping to quilt and bind it before returning to Michigan. I’d cross my fingers, but it’s hard to quilt with fingers crossed.  🙂

babies are us

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m trying to get comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing where I’m going to be living. My depression and anxiety are not in hiding as I had hoped, but they aren’t taking over my life at the moment. In fact, I am optimistic about spending some time this weekend putting together some goals and intentions for the new year, or at least for the first quarter of the year. In the process, I will keep breathing and keep enjoying the small moments that make me grateful for the time I am spending here with Dave.

Dave in Iowa 229I’d tell you that I’m looking forward to having the majority of the new year spent with Dave, even if we don’t know exactly where we’ll be spending it.

And I’d wish you all kinds of wonderful surprises and love-filled moments in the new year.

 

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Run over to see Diane and join in if you’d like. It’s great sharing coffee, tea, or other beverages of choice as we catch up with one another.

 

A Festival of Socks (SoCS)

It’s time for SoCS, in which Linda Hill drives us crazy inspires us with a prompt and we just go at it without planning and editing. For example, this week’s prompt:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “socks.”  Use it any way you’d like. Enjoy!

9T4zKxAbcI could easily have made this a Christmas-themed post because there is a family Christmas stocking story, but I am going to save that for another time. I have another family story about socks, many more socks than ever graced our pseudo mantle, so that’s the story I have chosen for today.

The story starts with a confession. I am not very good about getting laundry put away. OK, what I mean is that when I was the mother of four children, I didn’t always get my laundry put away–I’m much better about it now with the much-reduced volume. But back to those earlier days. Between work and kids and going to school myself, sometimes laundry always got crammed in among lots of other activities. Luckily, the washer and dryer were on the main floor, even if it wasn’t an area that was fully heated.

So putting clothes through the washer and dryer could happen without too much fanfare, but that putting away stuff needed some streamlining at time. There was lots of general sorting with everyone taking their own things and putting it wherever they put it–not something I wanted to get involved with micromanaging. Even underwear wasn’t too challenging. But the socks–those threatened to be my undoing.

I’m not sure how the sock population grew to be so large, and so varied, but there were many colors, many ribbing patterns, with multiple sizes of the same color, with similar ribbing. Sorting all of these socks as they came out of the laundry became a rather overwhelming challenge. In retrospect, it seems rather crazy, but that’s the way the sock challenge appeared at the time.

So, the socks just ended up taking over a laundry basket of their own. When we needed a pair of socks for someone, we went through looking for two that matched for the particular person(s) in question, and the others just stayed there. Which would have been fine if the story ended there, but every time socks came out of the laundry, they always joined the party. And it seemed like no matter how many socks showed up, they didn’t always have a partner. I mean the parallel universe (with the portal in the dryer) can only hold so many socks, can’t it?

Before I eventually simplified our sock-controlled lives with just a couple basic sock sizes and colors, we tried on a few occasions to rein in the sock chaos. These afternoons of desperation were disguised as an event we referred to as “The Sock Festival.” There were three main elements to this event. Full participation of anyone who had entries in the sock basket (meaning everyone); the basket(s) of unsorted socks; and some kind of bribe special refreshments to celebrate our achievement.

I have to admit to blocking out a lot of the details of the event. And I’m not sure my children have any memories of the event, fond or otherwise, but by the end of our hour or hour and a half of sorting, each member of the household had a pile of socks matched up with their partners that were then taken up to be put into drawers. Full advantage was taken of the opportunity to eliminate any socks that had holes, giving me the false hope that we had once and for all conquered the problem, and now we could stay on top of it. But that didn’t really happen until we did the aforementioned simplification. Of course, by that time, the oldest ones were managing more of their own laundry (and socks).

The kids are all in homes of their own. In general, I stay away from socks for my children and grandchildren. But I may or may not have bought some half-price fluffy warm socks for my daughter this year. But since her father-in-law bought day of the week socks for my grandson, Logan, I have confidence that my daughter is not as sock-challenged as I was.

As for me, I keep my sock collection to a minimum. My husband, on the other hand, not so much. But since he’s willing to do laundry, I no longer have to worry about socks and the parallel universe.

 

 

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Three Things Thursday: Christmas Eve

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It’s Christmas Eve morning, and it’s Thursday, so I’m following Nerd in the Brain’s lead and posting for 3 Things Thursday.

But before I list my three things, I want to share some Christmas photos. My mother and I had hoped to go to the Festival of Trees before I left Michigan, but we were unable to do so. But Dave and Cathy went to one in Davenport, Iowa, and Dave has shared some of the pictures from their trip.

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Only one of the many displays in the Gingerbread Village

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I have neither the patience nor the train to do something like this, but I always enjoy seeing Christmas villages with trains running through them.

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Now on to my three things:

  1. I’ve had a lovely week with Dave, and we still have two to go. We had quite an outing on Tuesday, including an exploration of the ONE coffee shop in downtown Muscatine. I hope to post about the shop next week. Oh, and Dave and I both got haircuts!  🙂

Dave in Iowa 2292. The cloud of depression has lifted somewhat. Enough for me to out-walk the lethargy. And to feel like I can face the family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Dave’s sister is working on Christmas Day, so we are heading to his other sister’s family’s home for a celebration at noon today.  I’ve never been with Dave’s family all at the same time. Some of them I haven’t even met before. But now, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

It also means we will have a quiet Christmas. Dave and I will go to the hospital tomorrow and meet Cathy for lunch, followed by a quiet Christmas dinner. Rumor has it that I will make tuna pot pie. Hey, don’t laugh. It may not sound like much to you, but Dave and his sister are really looking forward to my concoction.  😉

3. I’m ready to practice my machine quilting today, which means I might be able to spend part of Christmas working on my grandson’s quilt.

babies are us

Wishing everyone a warm holiday season.

 

 

One Liner Wednesday: More From Logan

Logan 3_5A couple weeks ago, I posted Logan’s revision of the ABC song, Facebook reminded me of something he said last year at this time, when he was a month away from turning four. He was all about using an old cell phone for some rather interesting imaginary conversations with all kinds of people. He would then repeat said conversations to his mother, who often shared them with me. So, in the spirit of Christmas, here is what Logan was busy with last Christmas.

“I helped Santa. I gave him a ride in my dune buggy. But then we hit a deer and had to fix it.”

Here is a second one-liner from the same conversation. I know it’s more than one one-liner, but it’s Christmas!  🙂

“I’m going to get a bell too, and put in on a reindeer.”

It kind of makes you wonder if the reindeer was  the “deer” involved with the dune buggy incident.

This post is part of Wednesday One-Liners. Head over and visit Linda Hill to join in.

To Do or Not To Do Tuesday: Week 8 (sort of)

admin-ajax.phpIt has been weeks 8 since I’ve started this feature, but it’s only the 7th post because, well last week’s unwritten To or Not To Tuesday post could easily have been about whether or not to write a To or Not to Tuesday post that day, and we all know (or can easily find out) that such a post did not occur.

But hey, that’s the beauty of it. It can go either way, and last week I obviously needed a break. Everything sort of got lost in a blur of depression that I tried to largely overlook. But depression would have none of that. The good news is that the cloud lifted a bit (a few days later than I had hoped for), but that’s another story.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what this week’s post would be other than I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and what to do about it, but it’s not about To or Not To (Tuesday) continue blogging. However, Linda Hill posed a question in her latest post that ties in nicely.

For the past two years, Linda has hosted “Just Jot It January” (JusJoJan). According to the rather informal “rules,” you just write a blog post ever day in January, whether that post be 1000 words or just a few. She is trying to decide whether or not to run it this year and wants to find out how many people are interested with a virtual show of hands. The icing on the cake is that in addition to adding 31 posts to one’s blog, you get to meet a lot of great people through the pingbacks and visits.

So it would appear that my To or Not To Tuesday meshes perfectly. Especially since I did NOT participate in JusJoJan in either of those previously two years. So technically, I can’t say much. But Linda, in her awesome generosity, is letting every one vote. So my question for this To or Not To Tuesday is whether to join JustJoJan or not. And, by extension, whether to vote for the continuation of JustJoJan or not.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, usually by the time I post a question, it’s not really about making a decision but about clarifying what I already know at some level. Which is why Linda’s post jumped out at me. I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to approach my blog in the new year, but I don’t have specific clarity about any kind of approach, only that I want the blog to continue. How does JustJoJan help me move forward with that clarification?

First, by posting something each day in January, I can explore various kinds of posts and determine a possible direction for the future. Such a platform can become a playground for me to experiment, have fun, and see where the road takes me.

Second, I have found in the past that these month-long posting challenges do keep me motivated. And many of the posts I write because “it’s time” are things I never would have written if I just sat here and made plans for posts. The surprise element is intriguing. And, as Linda points out, there’s the element of meeting new people and building community.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a few thoughts about a possible direction for my blog, but nothing has really grabbed me yet. So if I joined in JustJoJan as a playground experiment, I could try a little of everything–both the ideas drifting around in my head now and the ones that will emerge because of the scheduled aspect — all 31 days of it.

So now that I’ve totally talked myself into joining JustJoJan as a result of this week’s To Do or Not To Do Tuesday, I am going to hope that Linda will decide to continue hosting. I definitely want to be part of it.

What about you? Will you join in JustJoJan? Do you have a To Do or Not to Do Tuesday question of your own? Feel free to join in for either one.