Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feb Photo-A-Day Challenge!

My friend and fellow blogger Leslie posted this on FB, asking if any friends would like to join her -  looks like fun, so count me in!  I will also post them on here each day in February, for all my non-FB friends and fam.  Most of the pics will be with my iPhone - for a camera phone, it takes pretty decent pics AND I have a fun app to use filters, borders, etc.

Looking forward to the challenge!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Suz!

Happy Birthday to my sissy, Susan!   Okay, it was yesterday, but there weren't enough hours in the day to get all the things done that I needed to do, so this one had to wait until today.  Yesterday was her 39th birthday - and now, for the next four months, I get to tease her that we're only a year apart in age (until I hit the big 4-1 in April, that is).

I'm sure she may tell me that I could have picked a better photo than the one above... but I liked it, with her sparkly brown eyes and wide smile -  it was taken last Christmas in St. Clair, with all of us giggling as we were posing for photos.

Here are a few other memories, from 35+ years ago:

With Dad in 1974 - I was three, and Suz was one.

Look at her curly hair and big smile!

In the wading pool with Rob

It was so much fun growing up with several siblings - while there were six of us total, I was closest in age to Susan, and spent the most time with her, as a result.  With only a year and four months between us, she and I shared a lot growing up - including a bedroom, our first car (which Dad nicknamed the Blue Goose, our 1984 blue Chevy Cavalier) and many, many memories.

We were two years apart in school; I wish I could easily locate the article that was written about us for the school newspaper when we were teenagers - I know we both had the permed curly hair and hairsprayed bangs that were popular in the late 80s, which would be a hoot to include in here!

Twenty-plus years later, we're both approaching (gasp!) middle age, and have sons that are growing up together.  Hard to believe how time has flown by!   Happy birthday, Suz.  You look fabulous, a tribute to your genes AND your fabulous skin care regimen.  (Had to include an MK plug in here, you know!)

Love you, sissy!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas at the Ranch

The three or so times that our entire family gathers together each year are some of the most anticipated weekends of the year for me.  And our holiday weekend in St. Clair over NYE did not disappoint!   Unfortunately Thom could not get off work to be with us, but everyone else was there - plus a couple of guests , Brian and his son, Daniel.    And as wonderful as it is for me to be able to see all my siblings, I am even happier when Jace and all of my nephews and niece get to spend time together for a few days.  I know they will look back and have some wonderful memories of spending holidays with their cousins each year.

The weather this year was unseasonably warm - very similar to last Christmas.  We were able to spend some time outside over the three days we were there:

Out by the horses

Another highlight of the weekend - for the guys- was a little target practice down by the barn.  My nephew Landon placed first in the state 4H last year in air rifles, so he is accustomed to shooting guns.  In addition, he and Payton went deer hunting with their dad this year.   Jace has been anxiously asking for the last several months to do the same - learn how to shoot, and perhaps go hunting with them next year.   Brian is in law enforcement, and has spent most of his career in SWAT before moving into more of an administrative role; so he is teaching Jace how to shoot a BB gun and air soft gun, and all about the safety components of using weapons.  He brought one of his big guns to St. Clair, and let the guys all try it out - both the big guys, as well as Jace and Landon.

Jace taking aim

The little guys enjoyed some time outside as well, exploring in Grandpa Nick's barn and sitting up high on the tractors:

We decided to let the kids open presents on Saturday afternoon this year, rather than waiting until after family dinner on Saturday night.   It was a smart move - not only did we put a halt to the questions about when we'd be opening gifts, but it also gave the kids extra time to play with all of their new tthings.  And in Eva's case, it gave her more time to put on ALL of the Hello Kitty clothes that she received from her doting aunts!

The kids played with their toys most of the day, until we gathered to eat dinner that evening.

Me & one of my many handsome BILs, Luke

Mom and Grandpa

Gathering to say grace
(some of us more serious than others)

(Susan had to get her photo taken by Matt during dinner, since she has decided he looks just like STL Cards' pitcher, Chris Carpenter!)

We enjoyed our traditional holiday dinner, with 20+ people around the two tables, and plenty of yummy food.   This year Mom decided that it was too much work to drag out all the china like she usually does.   We all thought that was just fine, and enjoyed our meal just as much on the Chinet plates - plus the clean-up was much quicker.     After dinner the adults enjoyed some dessert and coffee, sitting around the table and talking.  On the other hand, Jace, Landon and Payton finished their meals as quickly as possible so they could hurry up and get back to playing X-box.

After dinner was finished and cleaned up, I headed to the music room to play some on the piano, and all of the little ones quickly joined me.   One of our favorite things to do each holiday is gather around the piano and sing (yes, we are the Cleaver family, what of it!?) and often times Rob will get out his guitar and join me.

A little later the adults finished opening our presents, and then we all headed out to the family room to get some family pics... we have decided that my next class will have to be Photoshop, so I can figure out how to get Thomas in a photo with all the siblings, since we can't get him home with us!  (Love you, Thom!)

Goofing around!

The Zartman boys

It was a pretty quiet New Year's Eve, with only Susan, Ron, me, Brian and the big boys (Jace and cousins) up to ring the new year in and watch the ball drop in Times Square - although Luke and Tara headed over to go to bed about 11:45PM, and made sure we knew that they were awake when the clock struck midnight - were just climbing into bed after brushing their teeth, etc!

Looking forward to a wonderful 2012, and can't wait unitil we're all together again for Easter in a few short months!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome, 2012!

I have all sorts of fun photos to post from our family Christmas at my parents’ home this previous weekend. But first, I want to start the new year off right (Nope, not on January 1, but close – we are still in the first week of January!) by looking ahead to 2012. I’ve never really been the type to make an annual list of resolutions. I have friends who are great at it, and probably are equally as wonderful at the “following through” portion. In fact, I have a friend who is very successful in her business and personal life that has a list of things she wishes to accomplish on her bathroom mirror, so it is right in front of her each morning and evening. And she is undoubtedly one of those who does make things happen! I’m not that concrete about my resolutions or goals, I guess. I do think I could benefit from that approach, probably in some areas more than others. But if I look back over the past year, I have done pretty okay with things, even without a written plan, AND with some unexpected turns.

In 2011, I accomplished some things in several areas of my life, including:

  • Continuing to acclimate and grow in my new job – definitely feeling more comfortable in my skin at work, after a year and a half in my position.
  •  Paying off debt and staying within my budget (for the most part)
  • Learning how to scuba dive and taking a trip to Honduras to do my final part of the certification… loved it!
  • Coping with the breakup of my marriage – enough said.
  • Taking an 8 week photography class so that I could learn how to take better photos and start using many of the features on my new camera. I forgot how much I enjoyed being in a classroom setting, and learning new things!
  • Improving my communication with Jace’s dad, to better work together on parenting Jace. Working in the same building and on some projects has helped us to better communicate, which is a plus for Jace.
  • Getting back into church after my divorce, and reconnecting with God and my spiritual self. I didn’t go to church for a couple of months after Dave and I split up – I was afraid I would break down during the music, AND I was embarrassed to have folks find out that I was going through my second divorce. But I went back, and I’m so, so glad I did.

Would I have liked to have accomplished more this past year? Absolutely. I had planned on starting the process to achieve a certification related to my new job field. I would have liked to have worked out more regularly and been in better shape throughout the year (I did jumpstart my 10+ pound weight loss via the “Divorce Diet”, as I like to call my stress-induced non-eating – AND I’ve kept some of that weight off, even being happy again!). On the home front, I have some home improvement projects that came to a screeching halt back in July. (Is it bad that the painters’ tape is STILL around the ceiling in the hall bath, after we had the ceiling retextured back in April!?)

But hey – overall, I had a good year, all things considering.

And I’m looking forward to the starting of a new year. So glad 2012 is finally here! It feels like a fresh start, and another step in the right direction of putting my life back together and moving on. I do have some goals in mind for the upcoming year….

  1. Financial – I will get back to, and maintain, my weekly system of using cash for groceries, gas, lunch and social activities. One of the successes that I had with the Dave Ramsey program was that I minimized the number of debit transactions in my checking account by using cash for those everyday purchases. Using cash made it much more tangible – if I didn’t have the cash, then I didn’t purchase the item. It cut down on a lot of the impulse buying, which can really rack up quickly. I’ve gotten out of that mode over the last few months, especially with gift buying and the holidays. Although I’m still doing fairly well on my budgeting, I need to get back to the cash method. My January budget is complete, and I started with the cash envelopes again last Friday – starting the New Year out right.
  2. Career - Starting on my AMCPE certification – the annual MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) meeting is in May, and I would like to have the first part of the certification process completed by then, when I see some of my colleagues at the meeting. We all talked about it last May, and I’d like to have the process underway when I see them again.
  3. Family – I have an awesome 13-year-old (of course I may be a teensy bit biased), and I love that he still wants to spend time with me. So I need to take advantage of our time together and continue our communication. One thing that has been a positive has been a change in our schedule. Since he is now with me on Sunday nights, he has been going to the Sunday night youth events at my church. Although it does take away from some of our time together, I think it is a great experience for him. He is involved at church with his dad where he goes each week, but the Catholic church doesn’t have as much for youth, so I am glad he is getting involved with the youth group at Schweitzer.
  4. Health – Ahh, the annual speech I give myself about keeping a regular routine of working out and eating better. I have ups and downs throughout the year on this goal – it is much easier for me when the weather is nice and I can be outside. As well, I sometimes find myself slacking off because of other commitments in my life- when work or my social calendar get too hectic. But I’ve recently changed fitness centers, and have two good friends who go to this one, so I hope that will help me be more motivated during the winter months.
  5. Self- I am planning on taking another photography class this spring, just a half-day Saturday, and also a Photo Shop class – AND, I would love to take a cooking class. We’ll see how what my time and budget allows.

I don't know that I will get everything done this year - but I think it is a pretty manageable list.  So bring it on, 2012. I’m ready for you!   What about you, my family and friends that keep up with things on here?  What did you decide that you would do this year, and how are you going about accomplishing it?  Some of the best tricks and tips for things are those that I glean from others... would love to hear about your's!