Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Kindergarten Question

For some reason, I used to think that when my kids went to school this working mom thing would be easier.  Suffice it say, we're two weeks into kindergarten sign up and I can already tell you that will not be the case. 

Husband and I are torn on where to send KJ to kindergarten.  There are more kindergarten options than I ever imagined, and it seems like the more I look into it, the more possibilities arise.  We have sorted out a few things.  We know that we aren't going to send KJ to the local public school.  Although it had been our plan to send our kids to public school when we moved to our town, the current state of the school district pretty much ruled that out.  I was still willing to give it a shot, but when Husband and I learned that full day kindergarten was awarded by a lottery and that only approximately 25% of the kids who request it get it, we knew there was no point in even trying.  I have no luck: there was no way we would end up in the 25%.  So, that leaves us with private school or continuing on with daycare. 

Initially, we thought we would just continue on with kindergarten at daycare.  To say we are happy with the education our children have received through daycare is the understatement of the year.  Every day I'm amazed by the things my kids learn in school.  Sweet Pea is learning phonics, and she just turned 3.  KJ can sound out words at 4.  KJ can even correctly count the number of syllables in words.  Having just attended a preschool fair, I feel pretty confident that I couldn't have sought out a better preschool if I had tried.  I guess in this one respect, I actually did get lucky. 

The kindergarten at daycare also seems amazing.  The student-teacher ratio is very low (1:8), the teachers seemed fantastic, and the kids that come from that kindergarten tend to do very well in school.  Plus, it is full day, with before and after care like we are used to.  And the kids would be in the same location.  All in all, daycare kindergarten sounded like a great option.  Until we got to the price. 

The cost of daycare kindergarten tuition is only a few hundred dollars less than the in-state tuition for the University of Illinois.  And let's be serious, while kindergarten is important, it is still just kindergarten.  And it would be difficult for us to swing. 

 So, I looked into the private schools.  I was shocked at the number of private kindergartens available in our little town.  There were at least four, with a fifth coming soon.  But despite the surprising number of options, there were very few that worked for working moms.  For example, none of the kindergartens had exactly the same hours.  "Full day" could mean anything from 8 am until 12:15 to 8 am until 2:30.  Many of the private options had no busing and no provisions for after school care.  In fact, when I asked one kindergarten with no such offerings how they accommodate working moms, the director actually said to me that they don't have any moms that work.  Lucky for them, but if I'm going to pay private school tuition, I'm going to need a job! 

In the end, we simply signed KJ up everywhere, and said we'd figure it out later.  I'm hoping that with time will come clarity -- and the return of some of our deposits.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Shopping with Mommy's Remorse

Yesterday I took my daughter to do one of her favorite activities…shopping. If you have followed my blogs you know from my prior posts that my daughter Miss J is not your average 5 year old. So, I actually enjoy shopping with her just as much as I would with my Mom or best friend. So we go often, and I love it.  

Now J is very particular when it comes to shopping. This budding fashion designer is very specific when she shops. She has been picking out her own clothes since age 3.  She not only knows what she wants, but she knows exactly how she wants it to fit. Her fashion brain already knows that Gap Jeans are true to her size, but she has to go one up in Old Navy, and maybe even 2 at Justice and just roll the cuffs for a season. I am there merely to confirm for her that her outfit is fabulous, take her for a pretzel,  and of course provide her the funds for her shopping adventure.

On this trip, J wanted to look for a few things: (1) a new dress, (2) a new dance bag, and of course (3) her “usuals”. When J shops, no matter what we are looking for  it’s a given that she’s always going to look at her favorite obsession, shoes, she will always stop and see if there are any new earrings to match her outfit, and she will always hit Justice (her favorite store) where she will do her usual “Mom just pick me out anything in here for me to try on…I’m going to look at the accessories” routine. See since Justice is J’s favorite store, she will wear absolutely anything in there, so its really one of the only chances I have to get a say in her wardrobe. Yes, the glittery press on nails, fuzzy diaries with large J’s on them, purses, and headbands are too much for the Diva to miss out on.

We started at Von Maur as this is usually J’s favorite place to look for her “step up” dresses. Since J’s preferred outfit of choice is a dress she categorizes them into her regular dresses (suitable for every occasion, including parks and riding bikes), and “step-up” dresses, the dresses that are a little nicer than the rest, and the ones Mommy will probably take a picture of. She will not call them “dressy” or “special occasion” dresses, because seriously every day for the Diva is a special occasion.

Now J is probably the most self-sufficient 5 year old shopper you will ever meet. Seriously, if DHS wouldn’t be knocking on my door, I could literally hand her my card, drop her off at the door and off she would go. She peruses the racks, finds her size, and heads to the dressing room all by herself. She then tries on her clothes, hangs them up and heads directly to the check out (of course first stopping to see the accessories). Of course, I’m quite helpful in this process as I am the perfect hanger for the clothes she wants. So, why J looked I happened to glance over to the ladies section. With one eye on my daughter…not to prevent kidnappers but to make sure she didn’t get overboard with her selections to try on, I started to look at the racks of clothes.

I have developed a horrible habit as a Mom. From the moment my kids were born, I really stopped all shopping for myself. It wasn’t long ago that I was like J, shopping every weekend, filling my closet with the newest clothes. And although I never quite shared her love of shoes (as I am tall and so heels are out for me), I loved shopping for purses that were way too expensive but I had to have them anyway. Now? Well let’s just put it this way…my daughter walks around with a Coach bag (compliments of her fabulous Aunt Jean) and I walk around with a bag I nabbed at TJ Maxx on clearance.

No one is to blame for this but me. No one tells me not to shop for myself. In fact, most of my friends and family, including my husband, strongly encourage it.  My Mom is the head of this team. She used to get me gift cards or money to go buy clothes with…now she goes out herself and picks out something for me, knowing that if she gives me money, I’ll use it for the kids.

The only shopping I do for myself involves things somehow related to the kids…I splurge on scrapbooking stuff, to make books FOR THE KIDS. I bought an iPad and have about a 1/3 of the apps for me on there. I buy a new camera…to take dozens of pictures of the kids. See the trend?

I’m not really sure why I do this. I’m not trying to be a martyr, but for some reason shopping for me has lost its fun after I had kids. When I buy something for me, I just hear sounds of “Oh, for this money I could have gotten H or L something, or J could have gotten a new coat”. And every time I do talk myself into taking a little shopping spree, I am usually full of buyers remorse for weeks.

But there as I watched my daughter fill her arms high with outfits galore without skipping a beat, I felt a twinge of a push behind me. “Go look at those clothes Mandi…do it!” So I took a step from the kids aisle over to my section.

This of course drew the immediate attention of J, who handed her stack to a clerk to put in a dressing room for her. I heard her announce in a rather…”Yes, don’t worry the Diva will return tone” to the clerk… “I’ll be right back” and heard the clunk of her boots running over to me.

Momma are you shopping???” Her face lit up because J’s second favorite thing to do while shopping is to save her mother from her fashion blunders. J loves helping me shop. The only problem, what a 5 year old thinks a lawyer should wear would make heads turn for sure in the courthouse. So what I usually do is try on that bright pink shirt for size and to appease J, but grab the gray one when she’s not looking.

Sure, we can look for me”. I smiled. And instantly, like a scene in a roadrunner cartoon she was off, this time checking the racks for me. I must admit that even though she tends to be a little fashion forward for my boring taste…she does pick a few great ones every now and then.

Momma come here…find your size in this”, she yelled over. I went over to where she was and she was standing by some long cardigans. “Momma these are your favorite, you always wear these, get one”. I chuckled knowing my 5 year old even recognized my cardigan addiction and looked on the rack. J was right, the sweaters were my usual norm and I loved them. I picked out one I loved and tried it on over my shirt. “Looks good, buy it! Now lets go try on mine” J said as she started to pull my arm. I took the sweater off, thinking, yes I’ll think I’ll buy it. Guilt free…I need it. But then I caught the glimpse of the price tag. $132.00.

The air of my balloon instantly blew out. $132.00, are you kidding me? No way. Considering my clothes are usually spit up on, touched with greasy hands, or the occasional marker, there was no way I could justify paying that much. I put it down and walked over to J’s dressing room.

There was a time in my life where I would have grabbed that cardigan and promptly bought it. Sure I might have a twinge of guilt, but nothing that my best friend or Mom couldn’t kill with a “Oh you needed it Mandi” comment. But now, the Mom in me said no.

I went back to try on clothes with J and laughed as she shopped in the “no guilt because I’m not paying for it” mode. I smiled when I saw her doing the same tricks I used to do with my Mom… “Momma, which one of these skirts should I get?” (instead of can I get the skirt).  Nice try, J, but I invented that move back in 1988, so I know that one. But one by one, she tried on her clothes.

And the true irony of the story? By the end of the shopping trip that day I had easily spent the price of my sweater on J, but somehow I didn’t have an ounce of guilt.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mandi's Challenge

To continue on the theme this week, I am posting some of my personal tips for parenting. And while I am not up for Mother of the Year anytime soon (will my kids ever eat a vegetable?), these are things I have learned being a mom.

1. Hug your kids as much as you can. Sometimes our kids can drive us crazy, but we still love them. So I will randomly just give them a big hug to let them know I am here for them. Plus, they will soon become embarrassed by me, so even better!

2. Buy a DVR/TiVO. Some will argue that kids should not watch too much TV, and for the most part, I agree. But I could not live without my DVR. I don’t remember the last time I actually sat and watched NCIS or Hart of Dixie in real time, because we are too busy with dinner, dance class or swimming lessons. Sometimes I even record the 10 o’clock news! And bonus tip – it doesn’t take as long to watch your favorite show since you can skip the commercials.

3. Buy something to keep them occupied in the car if you travel a lot (Nintendo DS, DVD players, iPad, etc.) Yes, no parent wants their kids to be hooked on video games or watch too much TV. But on a 10 hour car ride, there are only so many times you can hear “Are we there yet?” before you want to just drive off a cliff. So save everyone’s sanity and get them something that will entertain everyone for hours. (This also works for husbands, as when my girls were really little, my hubby watched the Broncos’ Super Bowl win with the girls!).

4. Avoid the family drama. Face it, every family has drama. Currently, my kids are too young to understand all of issues and for that I am thankful. They need to be able to make up their own minds when they are older. For now, we just avoid the awkward situations that will upset them, while still giving them a chance to love everyone.

5. Find “family” that will love your kids no matter what. Similar to #4, family does not have to mean blood relatives. Make sure to spend time with those people who are truly wonderful to you and your family.

6. Don’t take 1 syllable words as the final answer. How was your day? “FINE.” Anything happen at school? “NO.” You probably hear these answers a lot. So keep asking more questions. “How was Ella today? Did you have fun at recess? What words/projects did you work on today?” Etc.

7. Lead by example. Yes – I know this sounds simple, but as adults, we often think we know better than our kids. Like my hubby looking at football scores on his phone while driving or me speeding…because I want them to do that when they are 16. Or saying something inappropriate. My hubby is still upset because A randomly says “holy crap” after hearing me say that (although better than what I actually wanted to say.)

8. Explain to your kids why you work. Many of us feel guilty for working (not getting into the SAHM debate here). So when your kids want you to stay home or pick them up from school, explain why you work and what your job provides for them. It probably doesn’t make you feel less guilty, but it gives them a sense of why you have to work.

9. Let your kids know you make mistakes too. While I want my girls to realize that I am the boss/person in charge, I am also need them to know I am not perfect either. I make mistakes, the same as they do. And it’s ok to make mistakes – we just need to learn from them.

10. Tell you kids you love them every day. Similar to #1, letting your kids know that you love them gives them self confidence to go out and be themselves. Time passes so fast (I can’t believe my girls are going to be 6 in July!) it never hurts to let your kids know they are loved!

Jean Anne

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

About two weeks after Christmas, I got a letter from my mom.  It was a Thank You note that she had made and had a short note in it.  At the time, I remember thinking "Oh wow! a letter!"  and that got me thinking about the last time I'd received a proper letter - not a mass produced Christmas letter (which I like, so keep 'em coming) but a real letter. Where someone sat down, pen in hand, and thought about only me and what that person had to say.  That of course made me think about the last time that I had written a letter (I don't even do Christmas updates!). And honestly, I think it was in 1997.  I had a friend who lived in England and we regularly corresponded by letters.  We lost touch about then, and I don't think I've written a letter since. 

When you think about that, it's pretty sad.  Yeah, we have Facebook and email, but it's not the same. Facebook is like Blogging - random thoughts that go out to anyone bothered to read it. E-mail is closer, but still - very sterile. Like TYPING personal letters!  There is no real connection there...not the connection you get when you sit down, fully focused on the intended recipient, and write to them and only them. It's so much more personal, when I think about it, that maybe it's too personal for these times.  This is a sad state of affairs...

Remember back in the day when you would go to the Hallmark store and pore over the stationery? So many colors, shapes, sizes to choose from - scented, multicolored, monogrammed... letters were the way to keep in touch. The familiarity of my friend's handwriting was comforting - even before I'd read the content. And the same was true with the note from my Mom.  I can't remember the last time I saw her handwriting, other than "Grandma Donna" or "Mom" signed to bottom of a birthday card. It's a silly thought, but we are our handwriting: like our hair, our eyes, the sound of our voice...they all identify us, bringing up memories of each other even when we haven't been physically together for years.  For example, Jenny is my best friend from college. We were practically inseparable during the four years we were at school together.  Graduation came and Jen went down south with her parents and I stayed here. Neither one of us has really been good at keeping in touch, but I still love her as much as I used to when I saw her every day.  When I get Christmas cards from Jenny, even though we are now both significantly older and haven't seen each other more than three times since graduation, her signature is EXACTLY THE SAME and it's like we're together again for that tiny bit. 

The day that I read my mother's note, I resolved to start writing letters. Of course, like my resolution to work more, I haven't done it.  But, I do think that I might go check out the Hallmark and see if I can get myself some pink, scented stationery!  


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Yesterday, Mandi challenged us to come up with some do's and don'ts of parenting.  I don't generally have a lot of "do's" or "don'ts" to share with new parents because I think what works for each family is different.  I can tell people what I did and whether or not it worked out, but I can't make any guarantees what will work for your family.  So, here's a short list of a few things that worked for me, and that I hope could work for your family too:

 1. Hire a cleaning lady.  If you are a working mom without a cleaning lady, God bless you.  I have no idea how you do it.  Hiring a cleaning lady gave me back a few of those precious  hours of free time I had been spending scrubbing toilets and floors.  Our cleaning lady only comes in once a month - which means I still do plenty of cleaning between appointments - but it also means she's affordable.  If you can any way swing the cost of a cleaning lady, even if just once a month, it's totally worth it in my opinion. 

2. Have a plan.  My life has a million moving pieces.  In order to make sure that all of those pieces make it together into the puzzle that is our day, I have to have a plan for making sure that no piece gets overlooked.   I have a plan for dinner.  I have a plan for who is going to pick up the kids from school.  I even have a plan for my work, categorizing it by deadline and ability to do it from home or on the train.  Of course, things never go as planned, but when you've already worked out who is doing daycare pick-up and who is running out to Target tonight, you can better handle that last-minute temporary restraining order thrown your way. 

3. Lie to your kids sometimes.  I'm not a good liar.  Anyone who has ever met me can tell you that.  But I firmly believe as parents, sometimes it is in the greater good to lie to our kids.  Now, I'm not advocating about lying about big, important things, but sometimes a little white lie is okay.  Like when our football loving two year old didn't understand why he had to apologize for randomly tackling people all of the time, we told him that at the end of the game when the two teams shook hands they told each other "sorry."   I stopped getting blindsided and he learned the importance of apologies.  A win, win.  Now I just have to remember to tell him the truth before I sign him up for the youth football league. 

4. Give your bottle fed baby bottles straight from the refrigerator.  If I had a dime for every comment I got from people about how I fed my kids cold formula I wouldn't have to work right now.  But not warming up my kids' bottles when they were babies was a huge time-saver and it didn't hurt my kids one bit.  Formula has the same nutritional value whether it's warm or cold.  And at 2 am, it was a heck of a lot more convenient to just grab a bottle from the fridge and feed rather than go through all the warming steps.  It also made the transition to real milk super easy.  After all, my kids knew milk was supposed to be cold. 

5.  Always sign your kids up for activities so that they aren't the big fish in a little pond.   I'm actually guilty of violating this recommendation right now with Sweet Pea's dance class, but generally, I think when signing your kids up for school or sports or whatever, always sign them up for the class where they can still meaningfully participate, but where they won't be the biggest or the best.  I think my kids learn and are motivated by other kids.  And they improve so much when being challenged.  My fish are small, but I believe that they are becoming better swimmers because they are challenged by their peers. 

6. Don't sweat the small stuff.  I think that the "small stuff" is different for each family, but the key to this "don't" is to figure out what "small stuff" means to your family.  I believe it is physically impossible for working parents to do all of things parenting magazines or societal pressures tell us we "should" do.  So don't worry about it.  Figure out what is important to you and your family and do those things.  Everything else will work itself out. 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Our First Blog Challenge: Do's and Don'ts of Parenting

It goes without saying that kids do not come with instruction manuals. How come there are more sites giving you advice on how to apply eye makeup than how to parent?

Okay let me clarify this...I'm not talking about the so-called experts, because yes I know there are billions of pages of parenting advice from the experts. I'm talking about real life advice, not from the Ph.D but from a MOM. I’m sorry Dr. Soandso but if I followed your hardfast rule of no Binkies past 6 months old, I would not have slept from 2008-2010.

I think it's because none of us want to admit we are "experts" at parenting. No one brags on themselves because you know as soon as you think you are a great Mom, your son will start screaming in a crowded restaurant or you'll get that look at play group when your child is the only one that won't share. But the truth is if you are a Mom, you are an expert on how to be a Mom. Plain and simple.

So come on, we all pin about 1000 pins on our Pinterest showing perfect organizing closet tips or cake recipes, but we don't have a good guide of tips in our arsenal anywhere. Which leads me to a little challenge for us here this week.

I thought it was time to propose a little blog challenge here on JD Moms and try to start a Do’s and Don’ts list for parenting, the tips of a trade so to speak. So, I’m calling out my fellow JD Mom bloggers and readers to help me with this. Karen, Christine, and Jean, I hope you girls will add on to this list this week in your blogs. And I hope if you are reading this you will leave me at least 1 tip...come on its Monday, you don't want to be doing what you are doing now anyway!

Okay so I’ll start:

1. Don’t lie….umm often. Okay, so we all know it’s best not to lie to our kids, but I find it is entirely necessary when faced with such classic questions as: (1) Mom, are there veggies in this? (2) Mom, will my teeth really fall out if I don’t brush them? (3) Mom, will you really pull over if I don’t stop shoving my brother in the back seat?

2. Don’t get too excited when your son runs out of the bathroom to tell you “I aimed”. Take it from me, when a 4 year old boy tells you that he aimed, the next question out of your mouth should be… “In the toilet right?” This tip has been confirmed by me and my bathroom trash can.

3. Do take time to play hide and seek. Okay, so playing Barbie can get old after awhile, and I still have yet to master how to play Thomas the Train well with my boys, but trust me all adults rock at hide and seek. So, make sure when that option comes up at your house, you always join in. And here’s a bonus tip: always hide behind a door, it’s so simple yet they never look there.

4. Don’t take your kids grocery shopping if you can avoid it. I know its hard, but try not to run these errands with your kids. I am not a mathematician but I am pretty sure there is some formula that says for every kid you bring along for these errands you can add at least $22.42 to your bill.

5. Don’t pretend you’re leaving for a “meeting”. My first years as a working Mom, I always felt guilty when I left at 3:30 for a dance class, or 4:15 just to pick up my kid first from daycare for a change. I can remember leaving my firm and smiling quick… “I’m headed to a meeting”. Okay technically true, it’s a meeting at a dance studio. But over the years I decided that its always best to fly your Mom flag proudly. Now when I leave I just usually smile and say “Gotta go get my boys” or “Off to Dance Class”…and I feel so much better.

6. Don’t envy the SAHM crowd. Alright let’s solve this battle first and foremost. We are all Moms whether we stay at home or we work. We all have things that are better than the other, and yes, we ALL have it rough. When I first had J I found it very hard to be around people that were Stay at Home Moms, because well, I was SO jealous that they had the ability to do what I wanted to do most. Remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side, and I’ve learned over these years that my working is a good thing.

7. Do fill up your phone or tablet with a ton of kids stuff. Okay, take it from me, use the following formula for your phone or tablet:for every app, book, or magazine you get yourself, buy your kids at least 2-3. The iPad that I swore was for work has about 10 pages of stuff for my kids and about 2 for me. But trust me, I secretly say a “Thank you Steve Jobs” every time I’m stuck getting my oil changed or at the doctor’s office and I can turn on a video or play a game and instantly the “Are we done yet” is gone. Just face the fact people, that iPhone in your purse, stopped being “yours” before you even bought it.

8. Don’t teach your kids a new song…unless you know all the words. Yeah, that LMFAO song is awesome to listen to after a long day of work, but the look on your husband’s face when your 5 year old sings “I’m Sexy and I know it”…yeah not a face you want to get often.

9. Do skimp on baby wipes, Don’t skimp on diapers. This is one I have learned from my three kids that never gets old. I buy cheap store brand wipes all the time, but I will always opt for Pampers Cruisers, even if the other diapers are so much cheaper. Trust me with my three kids I have had about 1000 near blow outs saved because I spent the extra $1.19. Oh yeah and here’s another tip I learned from the medical people in my family…the cheap store brand Diaper Cream, yep that stuff is often stronger and works BETTER than the name brand.

10. Do get to know your kids daycare teachers, and not just their resumes. Daycare is hard on working Moms. But I have found the one thing that makes it easier for me is I have made it a point to really get to know the providers. And I’m not talking about simply checking their resumes or references, I mean really get to know them. My kids go to a large daycare center, but I have gotten to know the teachers a lot, befriended them on Facebook, found out about their personalities…and you know what, it makes it so much easier knowing that they are there.

11. Do buy girls a size up, but for boys stay on target. I’m not sure why this is true, but I have found that with girls it is always best to buy a size bigger (or two in some instances) than your daughter, but you can’t do that with boys. I have actually put this to test a year ago. I find it crazy that my daughter who is a size 6 in girls jeans can fit into her brother 4T jeans. So trust me, when buying clothes for a girl, buy up, but for a boy try to resist the urge or you’ll look like I did last summer…raising a hip hop up and comer, as L’s pants were always hanging down.

12. Don’t forget that some of the classic rules still apply. You know how you were always tired of hearing “Don’t run in the house” when you were a kid? Okay after a trip to the emergency room with my son after he went head first into our fireplace…trust me they were right. Yes, some classic rules never die.

13. Do spend money on a cell phone camera or app. A lot of Moms spend money on a good camera, but could care less about the camera on their phone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere and a cute memory happened and I didn’t have my camera. And we all know cell phones are great, but their cameras usually are horrible. I have learned that it’s best to invest in a good cell phone camera, and if you have a good one, get the apps such as Instagram or Hipstamatic. They make your cell phone pics often better than your regular one. Trust me the best moments in life happen when your camera is not there.

Okay, so I started the discussion, let’s keep it going. Let’s make this a Do’s and Don’t list that will have Dr. Phil impressed! (Okay, maybe that’s a little bit too far, but you know what I mean!). Have a great week everyone!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Date Night

We are in our 3rd week of January and the hubby and I have actually had 2 date nights already, with a 3rd one coming up next weekend! This pretty much equals all of our date nights for 2011, so, needless to say, are ecstatic!

But while this is a great boost to our communication and making our marriage better, we are not sure what to do on a date night anymore. Dinner out is standard – with usually a run to Target or Kohl’s as the cap to the night. (Yes, Target because sometimes it is just nice to not have to go through the Barbie aisle). And a movie is an option, but some of the movies out just aren’t that great. Bowling? Ice skating? Golfing (when weather permits)?

As I was sitting down to write this post, my co-worker mentioned that they had a party bus rented for the night and he was excited because his friends were getting a babysitter. Sounded like fun, I said. And then I thought, when was the last time hubby and I went out with friends?

When did going out with friends become so complicated? I would love to go out with friends, as a “double date” perhaps. (Let’s not mention a ladies’ night, because given current geographic locations is a little difficult.) Oh yes, I remember now…

1. Have to find a weekend we have free (currently a little easier, but we are still busy)

2. Have to find someone to watch A & B
a. Check with Grandma and Grandpa – if no, option B
b. Check with person who watches A & B after school – if no, option C
c. Check with old babysitters

3. Have to check with friends for free weekend
a. This becomes an issue especially if friends have kids because they will have the same issues as #1 and #2

4. Find something to do other than dinner

Whew…and this becomes even more difficult if this is someone only the hubby knows or vice versa. Plus, if you include travel with it…HA! And there is always the possibility of bad weather or a sick kid!

So any ideas out there? Do you have a standing “friend night”? If yes, what activities do you do?

Thanks for the ideas! Have a great weekend!

Jean Anne

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Technology Pt. II

Last week I talked about how the "Big Black Out of 2012" affected my family.  This week, I want to talk about how it affected my work.
As you may remember, the black-out occurred at 6:30 p.m.  Therefore, no one knew how it would or did affect the office. The kids didn't have school the next day, so I got up and went into the office early, planning to catch up on some billing. When I got there, however, the server wasn't working. We couldn't access the client files, the billing program, the internet...anything.  After about two and a half hours of fiddling around, my partner was able to get us internet access, but still no office files or any programs on the server.  Once his computer savvy was exhausted, my husband stepped in...after yet another hour hour and a half (well into the lunch hour) we still didn't have access to the server.
As I sat there, after having reviewed everything I could, and wishing there was SOMETHING that I could do, I thought about how dependent we all are on computers and the internet.  If I had started practicing law even 20 years ago, rather than 10, things would have been so much different... and when I think about how the Courts, and our office, is trying to go paperless...it concerns me.  When all of the information you need to do your job is inaccessible, you can't do your job. If every pleading is paperless, and there are no hard copies of anything, what happens when you can't access your information?
Just think about that...the entire federal court system is paperless - documents are prepared on computers, electronically signed and filed on-line. No paper copy of the documents exist in the court.  What happens when the servers fail, or are hacked, or the back-up doesn't "take."  No records to be accessed, hours and hours of work lost... it scares me a little.
I don't know how many of you remember the whole Y2K mess, but I do.  My husband is a computer guy, he knows stuff. and while we weren't selling everything we owned and moving out into the woods to avoid the chaos of Y2K, we did store some extra food and water, waiting for the disaster that didn't happen.  It didn't take long, after the new year began, to sweep all that paranoia and fear under the rug, and we are more reliant on computers and electronics than ever.  Now granted, I'm a little skittish about technology and advances in general, and frankly, when the whole economy went to hell three years ago, I was hoping for a revolution - less reliance on travel, money and "making the big bucks" - more focus on living locally, self-sufficiency and economic conservatism.  I don't mean to wax political here, but when I think of being financially conservative, I think of keeping money close to home. The irony is, of course, that real conservatives want to keep their own money but to give it to someone else to theoretically turn it into more money. Me, I'm a "bird in the hand" conservative. There isn't any place in the current political climate for that.
Back to the point. I like the idea of being prepared for a non-electronic age, and get concerned when everything is going digital.  If the black out had been for days, versus an hour, or if our computers had not been able to be reset for days, we would have been stuck.  Call me crazy, call me a fantasist, but I bet you that one day, electronics failure is going to be our downfall.  Our society wouldn't even know how to function.  But, like that blissful hour-and-a-half at home with the kids, I think I would revel in the simplicity of life without e-filing, communal servers, and yes, even blogs!


Monday, January 16, 2012

The worst kind of Monday....

Ahh…Monday. The day of the week all of us dread. The day everyone talks about. I mean think about it there are probably more songs about Monday than any other day of the week. (Although perhaps Katy Perry has changed that and pulled Friday in the lead, However, I'm from the Bangles "Manic Monday" generation, so I guess if it wasn't released on a cassette tape, then it doesn't count in my book). But I digress (no this will not be a blog about the how superior 80's music was I promise)....

Monday is the day everyone loves to complain about. I can't even count the number of Facebook postings that state the infamous “I have a case of the Mondays” quote. I have yet to meet one person who actually likes Monday, well except for that one person we all know who lives to be different and so specifically loves to publish that Monday is her favorite day just so everyone can look at her funny.

And so in true form, allow me to present yet another complaint about Mondays.

I have discovered Mondays have become particularly harder to deal with now that I am a working Mom. You think crawling out of bed on Monday is hard?? Try waking up a Diva 5 year old to get her ready for school! No matter how many times I do it, shedding my "Mommy robe" and replacing it with my "Attorney robe" is always hard.

Monday for me is really a day to get myself back in the swing of things again. It’s the day where I'm reminded that although I stayed home for 2 days, I am actually a working Mommy. It's actually made me appreciate the true feeling that Cinderella had when that damn clock struck 12 and her gown disappeared into shreds. It's the reality check, no one wants.  After two days of being able to accomplish to-do lists, its hard when I come back Monday and realize that the to-do list I thought was complete multiplied faster than a team of Gremlins dipped in a swimming pool (oh sorry another 80's reference, but please there is always room for a Gremlins reference).

Mondays are bad enough, but then every now and then you have a Monday like today. The type of Mondays I hate most of all…..the.....wait for it....(cue the Jaws music)....  The “national holiday, school is out, no one is working, well except you” Monday.  The worst type of Monday in the world of a working Mom.

These are the Mondays you loved as a kid, but hate as an adult when you realize that "National Holiday", is not code for "everyone is going to have the day off". It’s the Monday you hear about for weeks…whether its from the stay-at-home Moms at dance class “Oh what are you and the kids doing on your day off in a few weeks” or the department store ads reminding you that while you are headed to work you could be heading to their store for a quadruple coupon on bedding that brings the down comforter you’ve been dying for down to like $1.12. Sometimes I see those commercials and almost see in the fine print: “NOTICE: This super amazing once in a lifetime holiday deal applies to all U.S. Residents with the exception on Mandi as SHE has to WORK”.

So, yes here we are again on another holiday Monday. And in true form this one did not disappoint. I woke up this morning, my daughter running in to make sure she had the day right “Momma, it’s my day off right? Martin Luther King Day right??”. I rolled out of bed and started to get dressed. As I curled my hair my four year old sprinted into my room. He flung open the bathroom door and looked at me puzzled: “Momma, why you getting dressed? Day off today!” 2 minutes later my husband walked into the room and flung himself down on my bed… of course I knew with my husband what was coming next. “Oh, YOU ARE going to work?? I get to stay home tonight!” (Spoken of course in his classic "Na na na na, Boo Boo tone".  This of course was followed by a pillow being thrown at his head. Even my baby turned on me, as when I came down stairs L sat lazily in his jammies eating his Apple Jacks and watching TV. He gave a yawn and a smile and call me crazy but I swear I could hear Bruno Mars “Lazy Song” in the background.

But alas, I left my family and headed into work. As I sat down to start one of the two appeal briefs I have to get done this week, my husband called to tell me they were headed to Monkey Joes! Gee, rub some alcohol on the wound buddy!!

And oh it got better as I knew what email would be coming next...wait for it, wait for it, ah, here it came at 9:35 a.m. "Are you sure you don't want to call it day and meet us at Monkey Joe's".  Yes because in the world of the husband, appeal briefs, and medical records magically are completed just as fast as dishes and bathroom floors.  Oh husbands, you've got to love them....but perhaps just not as much on holiday Mondays. (Said of course in my joking, no wait am I really joking, tone that my husband absolutely loves!)

Ah well, working holidays are just another in a long line of “This is really cool, unless you are a working Mom” type of thing.  So, I’ll suck it up, stop invading your Monday with pointless 80's references, and stop complaining. But to all you fellow working Mommies who are sitting at your desks while your kids are enjoying a day off, just know I feel your pain. And bonus points for you who have endure cell phone pictures of your kids having a great day…I anticipate those will be hitting my inbox at around 10:32 a.m.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012: Year of What?

As you may recall, I decided that 2011 would be Year of the Mommy. Well, 2011 has come and gone. Welcome 2012 – year of the ??? Is it another Year of the Mommy (and some would make the argument, every year should be!)?

This question has been occupying my thoughts for a while, as well as the “what are your New Year’s resolutions?” question. Is it possible both of these go hand-in-hand? Shouldn’t my resolutions focus on what I want my year to be like?

Truthfully (sadly, perhaps), I don’t have a lot of resolutions this year. I am pretty content AND thankful for what I have. Yes, there are things I need to work on, but on the whole, things are pretty good. What should I focus on in the next year?

1. Cooking better family meals. I know this sounds simple, however, I am a lazy (and most of the time) boring cook. Even my girls are tired of frozen pizza! So I need to do a little research on new family meals (and try to sneak in some veggies in the process!)

2. Making sure I continue to work on my marriage. Some wise person told me to just keep talking until I made sure my feelings were heard and understood. This has helped immensely both in the communication between the hubby and I, and in my self-esteem.

3. Enjoying time with my family. Between laundry, errands and practices, sometimes I get so frustrated when A & B act out in Target or don’t understand why Mommy can’t watch them dance for the millionth time while I have to fold the laundry. But I need to remember that the laundry can wait – A & B growing up won’t.

4. Spending time with my family. Yes – this is similar to #3, but I am expanding it to include my true, much bigger family than just the hubby and kids. These are the people who will drive out of their way for A & B’s birthday party or talk to me on the phone for over an hour just to check on me. Family makes everything better – especially if it includes ice cream and dancing!

5. Me. This sounds simple, but as moms, most of tend to take care of everyone else before ourselves. So I need to keep working out, eating better, taking time for a “me” day (or hour), and splurging on some new shoes every once and a while.

I am not sure what this list makes it the Year of…Maybe it’s just 2012. And it’s going to be a great one! 

Have a wonderful Year of Whatever!

Jean Anne
P.S. Jimmy Choo store – I am coming to visit in February. Please have a sale!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Technology

Last night, for some inexplicable reason, we had a black-out.  Not just a “blew a fuse, back on in 3 minutes” black-out, but a proper pitch black, city wide and potentially county-wide, black-out.  It happened about 6:30 p.m., so there was not even a drop of daylight left.  After about 3 minutes of shrill blood-curdling screams from 7 year old H – who is really afraid of the dark – our little family banded together and went on a search for candles and flashlights.  Thank goodness the kids weren’t in the basement alone, as they sometime are at that time of night!

Once we got all the candles lit and H settled down, and realized that this was a potential long-term situation, we all hunkered down in the living room.  Now, judge me if you will, but I can’t remember the last time all four of us were in a room together and it didn’t involve a meal, TV or videogames.  It was REALLY nice.  When conversation began to lag, I started telling them “B & H Stories.”  When the kids were really young, before bed, the three of us would snuggle on my bed and I would tell “B & H stories” and they always start the same way: “Once there was a little girl called H and she had a big brother named B, and they liked to go on adventures.” Then I would spin an impossible story about where they went and what they did.  We haven’t done B & H  stories for at least two years, and Steve had never heard one. So I spun the tale of how B & H wanted to go to the highest mountain in the world but couldn’t be bothered to climb it so they used a hot air balloon, got unbalanced at the very tip of the mountain and rolled down it, only to eat pizza and dance party with the sherpas.  We were all in stitches, and when it was over, B promptly asked for another. 

Just then, the lights came back on. It seemed glaringly bright and I asked B to turn them back off, but he was having none of it.  As quickly as that, the spell of our black-out night was broken and the the almost full hour of perfection was over.  The kids darted away to their normal “lighted” activities and I was alone. 

I sat there for a while, musing about how easy it was to get into a lovely “family only” moment when there were no other distractions, and about how truly few of those we've had as a family.  About how nice it was and how I wish there were more, and about how, despite all of the hardships, the families of the distant past must have been much closer and stronger as a unit than we are today, because there were so many fewer distractions. It makes me sad for our current, rushed, tech-filled, independence-driven families. We are really missing out on something fantastic.  Maybe I’ll implement a monthly “pioneer times” night, with nothing but candle light, board games, and B & H stories…


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wrong Foot

So far, 2012 has not been a great year for Karen's house.  We had all indications that 2012 was not going to get off to a great start when New Year's Eve found both my dad and Husband's dad in the ER, but I was not prepared for all this stress so soon! 

Pretty much things have been a whirlwind.  January came.  We started back to work.  The kids went back to school.  And last Thursday, both of our dads got some tests done.  My dad's test went well.  We don't have the results yet, but the "emergency" part of his scare is done.  So, I'm thinking positively that all will come out well.  Husband's dad's test results, however, were not great.  So not great, in fact, that on Thursday they scheduled him for another test Monday morning, the results of which they would then use to do heart surgery.  Immediately.   

Because Husband's dad is not in the greatest health generally, and because he has had a heart attack before, we immediately decided that Husband should go to be with his dad and mom for the surgery.  We were, of course, hoping for the best.  But what if the worst happened?  I definitely wanted Husband to be there.  So, we agreed he would go. 

 Of course, this week is my busiest week at work in months.  I have 6 court appearances in 4 days.  I have court in a suburban county.  I have briefing deadlines.  Pretty much every thing you could jam in one week, I have this week.  There was no way I could go to the hospital.  Plus, I couldn't do anything to help the situation.  So I was going to stay home with the kids.  But I was more than a little worried about how I was going to get all of that work done and single parent for the week.  Just dropping off and picking up my kids from daycare adds 2 hours to my commute.  What if court went late?  What if there was a lot of traffic?  I was going to have to be on my A game, but somehow I thought I could get through it. 

With our plan set for Husband to leave Sunday for Monday morning's surgery, we went about a typical Friday.  Husband had a work lunch he had to attend, and I needed to do some work too.  In an effort to balance both of our obligations, I took care of the kids all morning, and Husband was going to watch the kids while I worked in the afternoon. 

For my shift, I took the kids outside to play.  I'm a big believer in outside play, even when it is very cold outside, so winter play is nothing new to us.  Plus, the weather was amazing, so it was really as lot of fun.  The kids were playing on the swing set and going down the slide, when all of a sudden, KJ fell.  Of course, KJ fell from the tree house part of our set - the highest point.  He started screaming and kicking his legs, and I didn't know if he had hurt his head or his back or what.  Thankfully, Sweet Pea was the best kid in the world and followed me without question as I carried KJ in the house. 

 KJ's injuries, as it turns out, were no so bad.  He did not hit his head.  He did not hurt his back.  And he did not fall on Sweet Pea.  (Whew).  He did scrape the skin off of all of his tummy and both legs on his way down, though.  And it apparently hurt. 

 Sweet Pea, the best little sister in the world, brought KJ all of his stuffed animals to try to make him feel better.  And, as I gave him a bath  to try to clean the wounds (and he screamed), she picked out special Lightening McQueen Band-Aids for him.  And finally, as I applied triple antibiotic ointment and the band-aids, she rubbed his head to quiet him.  She really was the best helper a mom could ever hope for. 

 But for all of Sweet Pea's help, I was still stressed.  KJ's fall came (of course) about 5 minutes after Husband had left for his lunch.  And the whole time KJ was screaming, I could hear my phone ringing in the background.  It was (of course) a client trying to reach me with a time sensitive question.  By the time I finally got KJ clean, calmed down and watching tv, a partner from my firm had intervened and responded to the client. So much for my Friday availability. 

Saturday wasn't much better.  Husband came down with the flu.  We were at a kid birthday party about an hour from our house when he started feeling sick, so that made for an unpleasant drive for Husband. Poor Husband felt miserable, and there was nothing I could do to help. 

As a result of Husband's illness, he did not go to support his mom and dad on Sunday.  I told Husband that the last thing someone who is going in for heart surgery needs is exposure to the flu, and he agreed.  But it was still hard to wish his dad luck over the phone, wishing all the while that we were there in person, just in case. 

The one ray of light we've had in 2012 is that the surgery went well.  By the time I got into work on Monday at 9 am, Husband's dad was out of surgery and already looking and feeling better.  Husband also reported to me that 4 of his work teammates also were sick over the weekend, making the work lunch - and not the flu - the most likely culprit of his weekend sickness. 

I hope these successes are a shift in the way 2012 is going to go.  There's a lot of year left, and I'm not sure I can take too much more! 


Monday, January 9, 2012


I’m Baaaaaack….

Yes, here I am...another year has begun. I hope everyone had an amazing holiday.

So where have I been??? Well I always think a picture is worth a 1000 words so here it goes....


It’s actually amazing to me how much the word “Vacation” has changed over my 3 decades. As a kid, vacation meant fun family trips, Disney, beaches…anywhere with a large store where you could get t-shirts or a snow globe. Of course vacations were awesome because you could buy every souvenir in the gift shop, ride every ride in the amusement park, and never even think about the fact this trip actually had to be paid for. Trust me a hot fudge sundae in a fancy hotel tastes much sweeter when someone else is footing the bill.

In my early 20’s vacations simply meant breaks from school. A law student has limited income and therefore I couldn't afford to go anywhere. But in all honesty, it didn't matter. Vacation for me was simply anytime I didn't have to crack open a book.

My late 20's brought the romantic getaways with my boyfriend, who became my fiancé, who became my husband. The time frame of, "sure this vacation is costing us a lot of money but hell, we're young, we're in love, so pop open another bottle wine and let Visa pick up the tab".

And then came the kids…and once again vacations have changed. Now I’m the one footing the bill for the floppy ear hat or the t-shirt from the gift shop that will only fit the day before its washed. I’m the tour director having to find a location to please a Diva 5 year old, an all-boy 4 year old, and an active toddler. I’m also the one that has to figure out how to best use every square inch of a Dodge Caravan so we can bring the 3 American Girl Dolls, the 5 stuffed animals, cooler full of Capri Suns and fruit cups, and oh yeah the stuff we actually need.

I actually break up my vacations at work into two separate vacations: a week in the summer where my family travels and a week after Christmas where I treat myself to a true luxury for me...a staycation. I know you must be thinking I'm crazy for staying home in Iowa in the middle of winter. But in all honesty just being able to be home, run errands with no time clock, sleep in, and get to cross out the "working" in front of "working Mom" for a week is worth more to me than the swankiest resort.

And so that’s what I did. I celebrated the last week of 2011 in the comfort of my home. And boy did I have a lot to celebrate. I made it through my first year of partnership, made it through watching my baby learn to walk, survived sending my first born to kindergarten, and simply made it through another year of the never ending struggle of work-life balance.

So I spent a week away from the headaches of work, with only a few short breaks in my day to keep my emails in check. I kept off social networking sites, hardly perused my standard gossip columns and just enjoyed living the role I am the most comfortable in, Mommy. Sure, we planned an overnight trip, attended a fun New Year’s party, went ice skating and bowling, but most often we were simply at home. And I’ll tell you it was just what the doctor ordered. Dorothy is right my friends, there really is no place like HOME. (And footnote: As you can see my staycation truly inspired even the decorating of my family room!)

I think as an attorney vacations are naturally more precious. In a job where billable hours govern, deadlines are king, and paperwork towers over you it’s very important to take time to get away. The work part of my life could consume me if I let it. I have enough work to be able to work 24 hours a day and still not be up to date on everything. My job is fast paced, high volume, and often high stress. And take that and mix in everything that goes along with raising three young children and...well you get the idea.

I had the best week, and honestly we didn’t do much. My favorite moments were our pajama lazy days just curled up on the couch together. My kids and I of course had a ton of toys to build and play with compliments of Santa and family. With sleeping in, no classes to run to, and no late night brief writing, everyone was in the perfect mood. My house was clean, we played for hours, and yes I am happy to report not one meal came from the crock pot.

My staycation always gives me a renewed perspective on life and allows me to really cherish my blessings. My favorite moment of Christmas break was very simple yet powerful. Recently, my children and I have started to attend church. For years I’ve been on this quest to find a perfect church for my family to grow in, but with the terrible two’s and antsy babies we did the standard “holiday churching" that my family did growing up. Sorry but even my strong faith could not get me into a busy church with a screaming baby (no crying room wall is sound proof enough for a colickly H). But now that 2 of my 3 are past the roller coaster toddler years I knew it was time for us to get back into this. So we started going to church weekly and the past month has been amazing. My kids and I have found a perfect home in our church. The children love Sunday school, they hug our Pastor on the way out of church as if they have known him for years, J belted out Away in the Manger in the Christmas program…everything has just fallen in place. So Christmas Eve I decided to head home from my parents’ house early and take the kids to their first candlelight Christmas service. With L being exhausted from the days events, J, H, and I walked into our church and got ready for the service. During the service the lights were turned out and we sang Silent Night by candlelight. There by candlelight I got a chance to really feel Christmas. It was beautiful. In that quiet moment I was able to just get back to what is truly important in life.

And that’s what this vacation was to me, a simple time to exhale and ready myself for the year ahead. Of course it was absolutely crazy coming back. I may take a vacation every now and then, but my work certainly never does…mail piles up, phone calls are missed, and so getting back into the swing of things after a rest is always hard. But alas that is a blog for another day.

So here we go 2012…I’m ready…I’m set…let’s go.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's 2012?

What happened to 2011? Actually, what happened to my Christmas vacation? Let’s see…I remember my cousin’s beautiful wedding on December 17th (awesome family time!), then finishing up my Christmas shopping on the 23rd, followed by making Christmas cookies, church and Jolly Holiday Lights on Christmas Eve. Then…everything is a blur.

If this were my DVR, it would be the fast forward (typically through the commercials) part. Yes, I do remember A & B opening gifts from Santa, finding Eugene the Elf and giving fun gifts to family and friends. But, honestly, I don’t remember an actual time of just relaxing. With one BIG Exception!!

The hubby, A & B and I were able to get together with my BFF and her family in Dubuque on the 28th. And it was absolutely fabulous! This was perhaps the only day of vacation where it felt like vacation – no set times to be somewhere, no special food (with the exception of ice cream and pizza) and just happy kids and adults. We were able to laugh about our stressful holidays, drink a few bottles of wine and even show the kids the YMCA!

As I sat down with the hubby on New Year’s Eve, after the kids had gone to sleep, we talked about the holidays, both good and bad. What we couldn’t figure out was how vacation could go so fast and why didn’t we spend more time with those that made us happy and relaxed?

I understand Christmas/holiday season is always a little stressful, now more so with kids, traveling, growing families, etc. But it shouldn’t be filled with so much drama that it becomes something you dread. Prior to this year, I only had one simple rule – that A & B woke up in their own home to receive Santa’s gifts (basically this is how Scott and I grew up). Other than that, I have been blessed with great traveling children, so game on to the long car ride and seeing everyone.  

But after this year, I have to wonder, is it worth it? I try to keep a drama-free life (note, I said TRY). And I attempt to surround my kids with family who truly love them. But some days, I wonder if the holiday stress is too much for them. And maybe Santa could visit them on a tropical island for Christmas? 

So welcome 2012 – as always I am a little late. Is it too early to start planning my next vacation?

Jean Anne

P.S. Sorry for the rambling. Still trying to clean up Christmas…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolved: I'm a slacker

New Year’s this year was kind of a bust.  We had plans to go over to our friends’ and play games and eat yummies.  Instead, we stayed home because H had a fever and a wracking cough that was so bad she vomited, more than once.  We had plans for the next day, too, so no “Chipwrecked” for us.  It’s getting to be quite a habit for her – illness on special occasions. I hope it doesn’t last.

So this year, my “resolution” was to be more work-focused.  I don’t know why, but lately I have been feeling like a slacker.  I take afternoons off, don’t work the weekends, sometimes I feel like a part-timer.  My billable hours are still good, though.  On the 1st, I came down and finished up a few things and completed my billing for the month.  A respectable 137 last month, even with the holidays.  I know that I get my work done, and that there are times when I don’t have anything billable to do, but I still feel guilty not spending more hours in the office.  Maybe it’s because I’m a partner now. I should be more ‘responsible’… I don’t know.  

Anyway, yesterday was my first day back to work after the holiday, and my resolution went out the window.  I had to drive an hour for a morning hearing and had an afternoon hearing, and by then, I was done.  I just wanted to go home. So I did.  I knew that there were things at the office I could have done for an hour or so, but I didn’t care.  I knew I would be in the office today, and in my opinion, unless there’s a deadline, anything can wait until tomorrow. My resolution did not change me – not even one little bit.  It didn’t survive a day.  I think my December billing shows (enough to satisfy ME anyway) that my system works. Bust your butt when you’re working and don’t work when you don’t have to.  It’s a good balance for me…I still felt guilty taking an early afternoon yesterday, though. 

I hope that (if you want to) you all have more resolve than I do to make your New Year’s resolutions a reality! Have a great year, everyone.  


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolution Time

It's a new year, and as the tv commercial suggests, it's time for a new you. 

Actually I think the "old" you is perfect and that you don't need to change, but January is the time for resolutions, and many of us are on day 3 of trying to improve upon ourselves in some way. 

 I did not make a resolution in 2012.  I did make a resolution in 2011 - and kept to it through the third week of February - but overall my 2011 resolution did not result in a new or better me.  Instead, I was just disappointed in myself that I couldn't even keep to a resolution to do something I wanted to do for myself.  As a result, no 2012 resolution for me. 

I admire people who make new year's resolutions.  I find the whole new year's resolution process a bit uncomfortable - like preparing to go to confession.  You have to really evaluate yourself and identify something you want to improve upon and make a plan as to how to make that improvement happen.  While I think that most people would be quick to admit they aren't perfect, it's still hard to really look at yourself and your life in that way.  Challenging and rewarding. 

If you are on day three of your new year's resolution, there are a bunch of web sites out there dedicated to helping you be successful.  http://ibdcrohns.about.com/cs/mentalhealth/a/newyearresolve.htm  If you are still thinking about what resolution to make, there's also help for that: http://www.umm.edu/features/resolutions_guide.htm  And, if you've already thrown in the towel on your 2012 change, be comforted.  There's even websites addressing that: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2040218,00.html

I wish you the best of luck in obtaining your 2012 resolution.  But if for some reason your 2012 change doesn't go as planned, don't beat yourself up too much.  There are a lot of people who thought you were pretty great just the way you were in 2011.