Happy New Year!

26195492_10213805998891892_5470078157531984433_n

Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

Getting It Together In the New Year

I don’t follow along with the whole “new year, new me” cliche. Every day is a fresh start to make whatever changes that you want to make in your life. No matter what it is. With that said, at the conclusion of 2016, I realized that I really needed to get real with myself.

On January 1st, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year and wrote a post with that was simply titled “Happy New Year” In that post I made a list of resolutions that I wanted to make for the upcoming year.

I have changed the name of the resolutions to the following;

  1. Life Plans
  2. Promises to myself

Organization- Time Management etc

The first thing that I did for 2017, was to go out and purchase a daily planner.  This seems like a no brainer but it actually isn’t.  Apart from making the purchase, you actually have to utilize the planner by writing the events you need to remember and the notes in which you need to recall.

I also utilize the Google Calendar. You can access this through your Google account. It’s free to use. The smart phone and tablet app(lication) is also available. Your Google Calendar will synch to the app on your phone as well and vice versa. You can color code events and also determine how you want to be notified.

What’s the point of using a planner vs using a service like the Google Calendar? Accountability. You can easily dismiss notifications from your devices. I often don’t even read the notifications. I swipe it away and tell myself that I will look at it later. I may or may not. Often, I will still remember but there are times that I do not.

With the written planner, I write it down. I have the planner sitting out where I can refer to it the night before or the following morning. I have a large block of space to write notes for that particular day. Let’s say that my ex husband was 25 minutes later dropping my son off at our scheduled custody exchange, I can explain what happened that in the notes for that day.

Keeping the Google Calendar also keeps my schedule handy on the go. Obviously, I am not going to lug around my calendar book everywhere I go. I don’t need to do that. If I need to check a date then I can get out my smart phone or tablet and check the app.

I do not believe that this is extra work. For those of us who are on the go constantly, these things  are life savers. Keeping an electronic calendar is awesome but so is the written planner. You just have to decide what works for you and your lifestyle. For me, I am choosing to have both.

I created a space in one of my spare rooms to keep a small desk that I am referring to as my “writing desk”. It’s actually a table that I purchased at the Goodwill and painted a really pretty blue/teal/Robin’s egg color. The original intention was to use it to keep my plants on it. I now have other plans for it.

On my writing desk, I have two organizer boxes from a company called Basketville. One is for supplies, pens, markers etc and that the other is for notebooks, books and part time home for my iPad while it’s charging. I also have an adorable glass vase with an iron branch that homes a small ceramic bird. Lastly, this is where I keep my lap top. It’s big enough to hold these essential items and that is all. It’s perfect for deflecting clutter.

16195794_10210795832559615_490537591570579094_n

This is my personal space to sit down and write, blog, journal or surf. Whatever. I have another desk in the den where I get down to business with bills and other things. I wanted to separate my creative space from a work space. Also, my little bird vase couldn’t look nearly as cute sitting on that desk.

I also keep a note pad on my desk to jot down my to-do lists or anything that I need to remember to do before I go to bed or first thing in the morning. Anything that doesn’t make sense to put in the calendar. For example, if it’s “Team Spirit Day” at my son’s school, this will remind me to allow him to wear his orange t-shirt with his school’s mascot on it. I find myself creating shopping lists the most.

Finances

I started using a ledger for my checking account again. Seems like another no brainer. However, how many of us are actually keeping track of our finances the way that we should? We have fallen back into the habit of checking our accounts online and expecting ourselves to just keep track of everything in our head.

Maybe that works for you, it isn’t for me. I know for the most part where my money is going, but it doesn’t hold me accountable all the time for my decision making. In the past I have had a habit of nickle and diming myself and I need to make sure that comes to an end.

I want to build my savings. I have plans for the future. More than anything, I want to hold myself accountable for every penny that leaves my possession. I think that every time you write an expense in your ledger, you pay closer attention to your decision to spend money.

I am also taking advantage of a free service called Digit. Digit is a program that studies how you spend money and determines what you can afford to put into savings in small deposits.  One day it might take two dollars, another day it might take five. It just depends on how much money you make and what you spend.

The idea is to save money without you even noticing that it is gone.  The less painful way to save. People believe that small deposits into savings don’t matter much, it has to be done in larger amounts. That simply isn’t true. It builds up over time and you will be pleasantly surprised.

I would recommend for you to go to the Digit website and read about it for yourself. Again, it’s free and you have total access over your money. If you need to take money out of the Digit savings and deposit it back into your bank account, it usually only takes 24 hours. My experience has been less than 24 hours.

You have nothing to lose in trying this. I turned my boyfriend onto the service about 2 years ago and he raves about it.  I haven’t been nearly as committed to it as he has.  I can’t recall what date I resumed using the service, it was sometime this month.

You can get updates anytime to your phone through text.  I wanted to inquire about my savings since I resumed using Digit.  Side note* You can pause saving up to 60 days at a time.*  This is a snapshot from my phone screen to give you an idea of what that looks like.

16143210_10210795833519639_8464719999481409363_n

Taking care of my health.

Apart from visiting with doctors for my Lyme Disease, I haven’t been as proactive with my health as I should be. I had the PHA for insurance completed in December. While the results weren’t frightening or even surprising, I have issues that I need to work on. I turned 40 and I realize that I really do need a primary physician that knows me. Taking care of your health is more than just going to the gym. I finally made an appointment to have a real physical completed so I can move forward with taking better care of myself.

I also made an appointment to have an eye exam. I haven’t had an eye exam in almost seven years. I have been wearing the same gas permeable contact lenses since that time. I actually haven’t had new glassses since 2008. The only reason I even went then was because my son flushed my contacts down the toilet. Case and all. He went through a phase where he would flush whatever he could if he had two seconds of unsupervised time to do it.

These are small things. Big to me. Small to others. I know there are a lot of people out there who ignore these aspects of their live and responsibility. I am to the point where I am serious about buckling down and doing things better for myself. More than just what I have to do to get through the day.

Organization is a huge thing for me right now. All of the issues that I think that I have all go hand in hand.  Since I have made these small changes moving into the new year, I actually feel quite a bit better .

Onward and upward.

What about you? Have you made any changes in the new year? Are you sticking with them?

Below is a small gallery of the items I am using on my writing desk. I really love this little space. It’s cute and simple. Not too big and not too small.

Dominic’s First Camping Trip- Adventure And Down Syndrome

Dominic just had a birthday on June 10 where he received some new gear for camping and hiking.  I wrote about that at “Happy Birthday! Dominic Adam Turns Eleven!”  The temperature had cooled off and I was finally able to take him camping for two days.

Dom and I headed to Pokagon State Park to enjoy some time camping and hiking. Dom had never been on an overnight camping trip before. He was really excited about spending the night in our tent and getting to use his brand new sleeping bag.

I have been taking Dom hiking since before he could walk. I had a papoose style carrier that I was able to carry him around with. When he got a little bigger, we also had a all terrain Radio Flyer wagon,  with chunky tires,  that I could pull him around in. It wasn’t nearly as great as being able to carry him in a papoose, but as he got heavier it was harder for me to lug him around.

Dom started walking efficiently a little later than his peers. People with Down Syndrome can have some musculoskeletal issues that need to be managed. For about three years he also wore small braces in his shoes that were supposed to correct the way that his feet pronated when he walked and provide support for his ankles. The ligaments in his ankles are very loose, a common trait in people with Down Syndrome, and he pronates inward and practically walked on his ankles.   We eventually decided that they were never going to do what they were supposed to do and switched him to inserts for his shoes instead.

Eventually, Dom was off and running just like any other child. He was able to hike short distances just like any other child. He would go until he got tired and then I would have to carry him or allow him to ride in the wagon.

People with Down Syndrome also deal with other issues such as  hypotonia (low muscle tone). There are things that “normal people” do with ease that take twice the effort with someone with Down Syndrome.  While I don’t allow him to be a lazy child, I try not to push him too hard.

Dom can usually go about five miles before he starts to get tired. Or bored. Or both. I try to keep him interested in what we are doing by getting him involved and pointing out the various things that we see around us. Generally, he gets very engaged.

We have been known to get pretty lucky with wildlife. On our first hike, we came across a female Painted Turtle that was laying eggs. We observed her briefly and then moved along. We also saw a white tail deer, a juvenile rabbit and later in the evening, we dealt with a nuisance raccoon that we decided to name “Bandit”. Bandit stole some of our stuff, hence the name.

Dominic was expected to assist me in setting up the tent. Then he helped me unload all of our gear from the car and supervised me as I organized our camp. He was eager to help and learn what to do. He takes a lot of pride in the fact that he is capable of doing these things.

I truly believe that the fact I have not allowed myself or others to treat him as though he has a disability has actually worked in his favor. That’s probably an obvious assumption but he has come a long way and has done a lot of work to get to where he’s at. I believe that over-assisting him will be a disservice.

He’s a kid so we treat him like a kid.

After we set up our camp and got everything squared away, we decided to go and complete a quick hike before dinner. My favorite trail in the park is trail #7 aka “Bluebird Hills”. You have to walk about a half mile to the trail head.  It’s a beautiful 1.8 mile loop that leads you along a wooded path to an open and rolling meadow and past the  wetland restoration. It’s so pretty.  When I visited this trail this past May, it was like stepping into a painting with the Dogwoods in bloom.

We had a great time.

We made hot dogs and fried cinnamon apples for dinner. Of course we gorged on Doritos and Root beer too. Then we just sat around and enjoyed our time. Later in the evening, the same raccoon that I dealt with during my last camping trip, arrived to scope out our goodies.

I named that raccoon “Bandit”.  Bandit has no fear of humans. At all. As I was yelling at him/her to go away, he/she calmly continued to walk up to me like a dog. I believe in keeping the wildlife wild. I attempted to redirect Bandit back into the woods by being a loud, belligerent, throwing things etc.

Bandit looked at me like “Jesus lady, what’s your problem?”

Later, after I went to bed, Bandit returned. I put our food in the car so there was no danger of it being eaten or dragged off. I left my cookware out though.  Bandit decided to steal my coffee cup and the lid to the little kettle I use to boil the water for my coffee. I found them both about 15-20 feet in the woods at the base of a tree.

I thought that was hilarious. I think it blew Dominic’s mind. He didn’t know what to think when I told him that the raccoon had taken our dishes and left them in the woods. I explained to him that was why I put our food away so the animals couldn’t get to it.

In the morning we made bacon, eggs and toast over the camp fire. Dom asked if we could visit the playground for a little while before we went hiking, so we did. We played on the playground for a little while and then played catch for a little while.

Unfortunately, bad weather was moving into our area and it forced me to cut the trip short. The weather reports out of Chicago and the surrounding area were indicating that the storms that were passing through were serious and I didn’t want to risk anything.  We had to head home.

Even though our trip was cut short, we still had a really great time. I was concerned at first at how he would do but I was reassured through experience that he would be just fine. I’ve found through the years that sometimes I have to really be careful in how I judge Dominic’s abilities. I am guilty of not giving him enough credit and I think that can rob him of some opportunities.

I have to at least give him a chance to do things. A lesson I remind myself of over and over. Part of that is just me being the protective mama bear. With that said, I am very realistic about what I should or can expect.

I at least have to let him try.

 

 

 

Around the House- Appreciation For the Little Things

In mid to late summer of 2015 I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Just like everyone else in my family, I am stubborn. I put off the symptoms until I couldn’t take it anymore and wound up in the hospital.  While I was still able to enjoy some of my summer ( mostly prior to being sick ) I spent a lot of time in bed or doing very little activity.

The worst thing that you could do to someone like me is to limit my activity. I nearly lost my mind not being able to hike or kayak, or go horseback riding or anything really at all. It was a chore just to make it up a flight of stairs.

Being sick like this has obviously caused me to appreciate my health a bit more and I think that I have come to appreciate the little things around me a bit more.  I’ve taken more interest in my home and in things I haven’t in a long time. For example, I used to really enjoy cooking, but I fell away from it for various reasons. None of which are any good.

Simple pleasures are more enjoyable than they ever have been. Little things like hearing my son laugh, watching him play with the dogs. Listening to one of my dogs breathe as they fall asleep at my feet. The wind. The sound of rain. There really is just something about buying little oranges that are sold in crates.

image

There’s just something about tiny oranges that are sold in crates!

I swear they taste better.

While I had been sick, I was stuck in bed because I was too sick and exhausted to do much else. I had a lot of time to think. I analyzed my life a lot. I went over and over in my head everything that I have been through that led up to my time on Earth today.

I asked myself a lot of hard questions about my life. What was I doing with it? Was I doing enough? Am I spending time with the right people? Am I doing the right things? Am I happy?

I didn’t like a lot of my answers. I started to realize and accept the fact that things really needed to change.   I think that being ill has really forced me to change my attitude. I’ve become very bold in my decisions and the answers that I give. Since I have been feeling better, I haven’t given much thought to anything other than improving my life and my family.

I’ve been through some serious life changes with a divorce and being a single mom to a child with special needs. It’s true that I have adjusted and survived, but I don’t know that I have actually enjoyed the last seven years of my life all that much.

This leads to me to grasp onto the conclusion that since this is the only life I get, then I should be living it the way that I want to live it. I answer way too much to the opinions of other people and I even allow myself to almost be harassed by people who think I should be doing this or that differently.

I mentioned in my introductory post on New Year’s Day, that I needed to really work on being more present and allowing myself to take one day at a time.  This is something I really have to focus on. It’s hard not to live in next month when you’re overwhelmed.  This girl really has this stuff down to a science. I think it’s all part of being in survivor mode for so long.

Worrying all of the time is useless and life is way too short to be anything other than happy.  I think that attitude makes or breaks you. I am really focused on this.

I know that mentally I have a greater appreciation for everything in my life and around me, now I need to act on it more boldly and with purpose. Clearly it’s one thing to say it and another to live it.

What do you think? Have you been through anything that has almost forced you to change your perspective on life and how you think? How did you get through it?

I bet you got through it by taking it all one day at a time!!

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy-New-Year-image-1

We are officially two days into the New Year! I hope they are treating you well!   I rang in the new year with my loved ones. We didn’t do anything exciting. I worked a long shift, so I was tired anyway. I was relieved when the plan to go out became the plan to stay home and watch a movie.

We watched “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”.

I have been thinking about things that I wanted to change about myself in the next year. I’m sure that we can all agree that there’s room for improvement for all of us.   We all can agree on a lot of the usual cliche resolutions.

  1. Lose wight
  2. Spend more time with family

In the past I joked about having resolutions that I could actually keep. I would make declarations about how I would:

  1. stop clubbing baby seals
  2. stop eating poisonous plants.

Fairly easy right?

I’ve been choosing these for that for the past ten years and I am happy to report that I have not clubbed a single baby seal, nor have I eaten any poisonous plants.

In all seriousness, after everything that I have been through in 2015, I think that I walked away from it with a greater sense of appreciation for my friends and family and most definitely my health.

If there is ONE thing that I need to focus on to improve myself it would be to learn how to

  1. live more in the moment
  2. enjoy my time now.

I am guilty ( a lot of us are ) of getting wrapped up too much in tomorrow to the point that we don’t enjoy our time today.

It sounds simple but it really isn’t.

My goal now is to do just take every day as they come. Next week is next week. Deal with today. Relax and take it as it comes. I’ve learned that’s all you can do.

I am a “fretter” by nature and I think that’s the biggest thing that I need to work on.  So here goes!

What about you? Do you create a “new year, new me” list?

Do you keep your resolutions?

 

 

Hello!! Welcome To My Blog

11811378_10206689296178772_4747423465618945932_n

Hello! My name is Jenn, I am a 30-something from the mid-western United States. I am a Public Servant, mom to a small human, dog mom to a Rottweiler and two Australian Cattle Dogs.

I enjoy camping, hiking and pretty much anything that involves the outdoors. I also enjoy attempting various “do it yourself” projects, photography, writing, cooking and living my life.

This is my third, and hopefully final attempt to start a blog. Over the years I have struggled to decide on a particular niche.  I don’t think that I really need one.  I’ve also overcome a lot in the past few years and have come out from under my rock to live again.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle my adventures in home improvement and my journey through life in addition to may to day musings.

I hope that you’ll follow along!