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Since one of my resolutions was to post weekly (at least for the month of January!), it seems sensible to make one of these posts about keeping resolutions — especially as mid-January and the temptation to call it quits approaches.  Here are a few common commitments we tend to make as the New Year dawns, along with my two cents (or “Tuesday Tips”, however you want to look at it!) for how to keep them:

  • Want to save more? Me too! At work, we recently had a Financially Fearless House Party which was well timed and full of good advice, including these three simple ways to save:
    • Put every $5 bill you get in an envelope.  It’s like turbo-charging that jar full of spare change.  One of my colleagues saved over $250 in just a few months!
    • Participate in your company’s 401k plan.  Max it out if you can. Contributing as much pre-tax money as possible not only increases your retirement savings but it decreases your taxable income.
    • College savings keeping you up at night?  Find a 529 plan and get started.  You can contribute as much or as little as you like but knowing your kids will have something to get their schooling started should give you some sweet dreams.
  • Want to exercise more?
    • Find a friend and hold each other accountable.  Meet at the gym, the park, the mall or wherever it is that you plan to work out, run, walk and get that body moving.  If you know a friend is waiting for, you’re much more likely to leave the remote and leap out of the house.
    • Set a goal.  Not one of those “lose five pounds” kind of a goal but one that focuses on fitness – on not just looking better, but feeling better – feeling accomplished.  Maybe it’s a local charity walk or a 5k run.  Maybe it’s a long-distance bike ride or simply showing up for spin class for four consecutive weeks.  Whatever it is, grab your pal, do it together and then go out and celebrate the new healthier you.
  • Want to be more present?  I do.  And a quick look back through this blog shows that I’ve been striving for this for a while now.  In our multi-tasking, always-on culture, it’s not easy but I’m hoping these tips will help… me and you!
    • Tune out the tech and tune in to what’s around you.  When you get home from work (or wherever your day takes you), put your phone away.  Far far away.  And try not to peek until the kids are tucked in.  Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind, as I can attest but it is harder to constantly check your email and texts when your phone is either buried at the bottom of your bag or charging upstairs.
    • Remember you’re not that important.  OK, maybe you are.  To your kids, your spouse, your friends and family.  But not to that beeping, buzzing device that you’re betrothed too… and I am too.  Unless it’s that aforementioned kid, spouse, friend or family member, ignore the buzzing of your phone and be aware of the people in front of you; be with them, really with them.  Give them your full attention.  They are the most important – and the reason why we make resolutions to begin with. Not to mention, it’s hard to tell your kid to put down his phone/iPad/Leapster/whatever he has when you can’t do it yourself!

As for me, I plan to tackle my writing by setting aside time each week.  I scheduled it on my calendar and barring a barfing kid, overload at work or some other unforeseen crisis (Leaky pipe? Dog with an ear infection? Any of these things are possibilities!), I will get it done.  And I hope you’ll tune back in next Tuesday for a topic near and dear to me:  how to YELL less at our children. And my husband.  And… well, you get it.  The following week, I’ll tackle hand-me-downs, a key to our survival and a special request from Britta at Hudson and Hill.

Something you’d like me to share?  Please let me know.  And good luck with those resolutions. I’m signing off and going to tune in to the tots at home!

 

A new year, a new reason to celebrate: small successes!

A new year, a new reason to celebrate: small successes!

Where to begin?  I unwittingly took a “blog break” toward the end of 2013 although, in the big scheme of life, there wasn’t much of a break at all.  Since my last post on October 9th…

  • We celebrated four of our five kids’ birthdays (the 5th was actually October 6th.  Oh, and the dog was Oct. 5th.  And our anniversary was Oct. 12th!).
  • We continued to navigate the homework challenges, social scheduling and daily juggling that hit fever pitch once the triplets hit kindergarten in September.
  • We made strides in conquering the new core curriculum that turned our otherwise confident 2nd and 4th graders into whining ninnies.  And me too.
  • We dealt with leaky pipes, missing storm windows, a minor electrical fire and several other infractions that continue to plague the 100-year old house we bought this summer.
  • We took five kids for physicals and in between dealt with strep throat, ear infections, sinus infections and a nasty rash called Molluscum Contagiosum that I hope you never have to deal with.
  • We hosted 20 people on Christmas Eve and then flew to San Francisco to visit my sister and her family on Christmas Day. In between, Santa even made a visit. With gifts!
  • We showered.  Almost daily.
  • We ate. Daily.
  • We survived.  Five kids, two full time jobs and one big red dog who even got a trip to the vet.
  • We made resolutions — ’tis the season after all, right?

Resolution number one?  Rather than focus on what we haven’t achieved, focus on what we have (see above!).  The big (Birthdays! Report cards! Articles published!) and small (A shower! A roast chicken! An attempt to make chicken soup! Yay!).

I don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep but, my good friend Britta must have sensed that I’m tempted by a good challenge so, for at least the month of January, I’m going to resolve to get back in the habit of a weekly post.  I hope you’ll check back in, share your thoughts and let me know what type of musings on motherhood & life in general you’d like to read about.  In the meantime, you should check out Britta’s blog too… as the mom of four under four, well, she’s a hero, and as real as it gets.

Happy New Year and whatever you resolve to do, good luck sticking with it.  And if you don’t, give yourself and break and remember to celebrate your successes, however small or short-lived they may be!

I’m not much for making resolutions, mostly because I’m not one for keeping resolutions.  With that said, one thing I’d like to do more of in 2013 is spend individual time with each of our children.  It used to be as easy as a walk around the block or even a trip to the pediatrician — there’s nothing like an ear infection to encourage a bit of bonding when you have five tiny tykes!  As they get older though (they are now 8, 6 4, 4 and 4!), quality time together is tougher to come by.  And let’s face it, a trip to the pediatrician is not the stuff memories are made of!  Memories, I think, are forged through shared experiences and, if they happen to be new experiences, all the better!

I was lucky to have one such experience with my little lady in December.  We took a break from the basketball games, cookie baking and Christmas shopping to spend a Sunday in the city at the Broadway Edge Annie workshop.  From the look on her face, I think it’s fair to say she really liked it…

 

All smiles at the Broadway Edge Annie Workshop

 

Ciara happens to be our only daughter.  She also happens to be a bit of a drama queen… who wouldn’t with four brothers to fend off on a daily basis?!  We don’t get a lot of “girl time” but our afternoon at Broadway Edge was a day I hope to repeat for a few reasons, none of which have to do with her theatrical ambitions or, truth be told, lack thereof!   While our little lady is full of drama at home, when offered the chance to channel that drama in front of an audience, she became timid and shy, as many of the children in attendance did.  But, they were quickly drawn out of their shells by the pros at Broadway Edge, who literally got down on their level to instill comfort and confidence.

 

Broadway Edge: on level with kids but treating them like adults = success!

 

In just a few hours, a somewhat timid group of kids — including Ciara — was transformed into a confident group of “orphans”, singing and dancing to “It’s a hard knock life.” Were they perfect? No. Do I envision her on a Broadway stage? No.  But what she – and the rest of the group – discovered that day were enduring life skills:

  • Confidence: if these kids can sing and dance in public, public speaking later in life will be a piece of cake!
  • Camaraderie:  they arrived strangers and left with a new-found sense of empathy and teamwork.
  • Gratitude:  they all realized just how lucky they are that they don’t scrub the floors at home… yet!

What did I learn?  That nothing beats a day with my girl.  That she can tackle anything she sets her mind to.  And, that I love the music from Annie as much today as I did when I was six!

So, with 2013 just kicking off, my goal is to have another such day with my lady and to share a similar cultural experience with each of my sons.  As I recently told a friend, we used to have a cleaning lady and now we don’t so, every time I scrub a toilet, floor, shower or tub, I am going to pay myself.  And I am going to use that money to fund our excursions, expand our horizons and create memories that I hope will last a lifetime.  For the record, I do see the irony in scrubbing floors to get back to Broadway (it’s a hard knock life!) but, I think the effort to give our kids an edge — a cultural edge — will be well worth it!

If you’d like to check out Broadway Edge for your budding brood, the next weekend audition intensive will be March 2nd-3rd, and right now, they are offering a special discount code.  Sign up by February 4th and enjoy $50 off using code MBLOG.