Monday, March 29, 2010

Sick Days

Do you ever have those days?  I am referring to those days where everything goes haywire.  Today is one of those days.

While being charming and funny is my usual goal with my blogs, today's goal is to let you know you have not been forgotten. My role as mommy will have to take over until the sick kids in my house are back on their feet.

So enjoy this short blog and know I will be back when the sniffles and fevers are gone.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pay it Forward

I got a call this week from a woman who had heard about Prepared Binder and wanted to help me with contacts and resources.  I asked her why she was offering so much help and she told me she was a believer in "Pay It Forward."

I am a fan of Pay It Forward.  A big fan.  I was stunned by the offer and excited by the opprotunity.  Then I was sobered by the implications.

I thought about the things in my life I do to pay it back and wondered why I live my life in arrears.  Don't get me wrong, when doing a good deed the recipient doesn't care if you are paying it back or paying it forward, it is still a good deed.

I thought about all the things I could do to start a new tradition of honesty, integrity and compassion.  The opportunities are endless, even a little overwhelming.

So here you go, a challenge for a Friday.  Do something today for no reason other than to be nice. Put a smile on a face, put hope into a life or just give respect to the disrespected.  Imagine our world if all of us paid it forward. I told you I was a fan.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Time to Think It Out

I was talking with some friends of mine last night and I heard an interesting comment.  One of the women is heading on a road trip with her husband and she told us she has an entire list of things to talk about with him on the drive up.  She put it like this, "I have been keeping this list of all the things we need to talk about but never do.  In the car he can't escape and we will get it all discussed and be done with it."

I am sure he has no idea what is about to hit him.

I got to thinking about this and I realized I have a list like this as well.  There are a ton of things I need to discuss with my spouse, but we never seem to get around to it. Some of the items are small, like if he wants a new brand of chips with his lunch.  Some things are bigger, like the dates for a family vacation.  Some things are huge, like the plans for emergency evacuation.

It is amazing the things we don't talk about.

After listening to my friend I have learned a lesson.  I need to keep a list of things that need to be discussed and schedule a time to go through it.  It could mean the difference of being prepared...or not.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Every so often I run into someone who has a copy of Prepared Binder.  That is a good feeling.  It is even nicer when they tell me how it has helped them.  I know it is my business to sell Prepared Binder, but I like the feeling of helping people to.

I got to thinking that some of the greatest rewards in life come from helping others.  Case in point is when I had the chance to do service projects as a teenager.  I always walked away dirty, tired and hungry, but strangely content.  Helping others just changes the way you look at things.

I am sure all of you have heard about the latest earthquake in Chile.  I had the chance to live there when I was younger and I know of the places in the news.  I have seen news articles talking about the places I hung out when I was there.  It is a little odd to know they are not the same as when I left.  Buildings have fallen down and people have died.

You may wonder what the two ideas have in common, and the answer is simple.  Helping other people and living within a different culture allows you to take a look outside yourself and see things you may have never known were there.  I have learned a few very important lessons by being out of my comfort zone.

The first lesson is this: People are people. We are all the same.  Income levels, styles of living, food choices, family situations and education levels are all meaningless details we use to separate ourselves from others.  When it comes down to it, people are the same.  We have the same hopes, the same fears, the same love for family and friends, and the same goals.  People are people.

I have also learned that humility is a good thing.  I am constantly amazed by how many things I own, how many things I want and how hard I work to get them.  When serving others and living in a different culture I was shown time and again that things don't matter, people do.  I have seen those who have so little sharing with their neighbors while I try to hold on to my belongings.  When I look around I realize I don't need what I have, in fact it keeps me away from other things I love.

I think all of this can be summed up by perspective.  Serving others gives me perspective.  It reminds me where I am, where I want to be and that my life is not the hardest/worst/most obnoxious.  So I encourage you to go out and get some perspective.  You may not need to do a service project or live in a foreign country, but find a way to get a little perspective of where you are in life.  It will be worth it...I promise.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Competition Day

Tomorrow is competition day.  The kids I volunteer with have worked for months to be ready for their first tournament.  They have brainstormed, they have pondered and they have prepared.  Then they designed, they built and they rebuilt. They have toiled and sweated.  They have worked until exhaustion, and sometimes worked past exhaustion.

They are ready.  They are eager and they will do great...even if they don't win.

In today's world competition is everywhere.  Sometimes we see it in sports, sometimes in the classroom.  We see competition in advertisements and in the job market.  Everywhere we look there is someone trying to be better than someone else so they may claim an award, an honor or maybe just a paycheck.

When we teach our children about the world it is important they understand what competition is and what it is about.  It is also important that they understand it really doesn't matter.

I am sure some of you will disagree, but I have never met a 90 year old person who says, "If we had just won that football game..." or "If I had just been a litter prettier..." or "If I had just won that award..."  Those aren't the things that define us, well I don't think they should be anyway.

Competition helps us know where we are personally.  We are either doing better than we did before or we aren't.  I heard an athlete at the recent Olympics who said that they had done the best they had ever done and even if they didn't win gold they knew they did the very best they could, and had no regrets.  What an attitude.  I don't know anyone who makes it to the Olympics and doesn't want to win.  The question is the definition of "win."

My kids are heading off to demonstrate their talents, their abilities and their solution to a problem.  They will do everything they can to pull off an amazing presentation.  And then they will be scored.  They may like the score, they may hate it, but they will have earned it.

When the ribbons and trophies have been handed out and the crowd has gone home these kids will know they brought their best game to the table, they accomplished what they came to do, and they earned their victory.  As a coach I hope they bring home a tall trophy.  As their mentor I hope they bring home a lesson to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Did your parents always tell you to wear sunblock?  My dad did.  In fact I was the kid who ran back to the beach towel to apply more when my friends were in the surf splashing away.

Coincidentally I was the one with white skin while my friends looked like distant cousins to the local lobsters.

Have you ever noticed parents seem to know what they are talking about...well most of the time.  I remember thinking mine were nuts, but as I age I realize they knew a lot more than I gave them credit for.

Now that I have kids I see the same look of contempt in my kid's eyes that I am sure my parents saw in mine.  So why is it we are "programed" to believe our parents are nincompoops? I don't know a kid alive who hasn't thought that at least once.

When I was a teenager my dad gave me a sign that said, "Attention Teenagers: Run Away From Home and Pay Your Own Way...While You Still Know Everything."  I embellished the sign and hung it on my door for years.  I remember coming home from college and seeing that sign on my door.  All at once I realized he had been making fun of me.  I was shocked because it had taken me so long to realize I didn't know anything, let alone everything.

Everyday we hear from experts who have traveled down roads we haven't yet seen.  They tell us what we need to do in cases of emergency and crisis.  Sometimes we listen and heed their advice.  Sometimes we proudly declare how much more we know on the subject and ignore them.

Maybe my dad's sign should have said, "Attention Humans: Ignore the Knowledge of Others and Pay for Your Own Mistakes...Until You Admit You Don't Know Everything."

I guess it is your choice, put on your sunblock, or be a lobster.  Mmmmm....lobster.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break

Why do we call it spring break?  The name implies rest and relaxation, and yet, as a parent it is one of the most hectic weeks of the year.

I know spring break was originally set up for planting season when all the kids were needed on the farm. As most families have moved off the farm and planting season has been automated, the break has taken on a different meaning.

If you watch the movies and read the news you will see spring break is an orgy of college students at the beach.  It is families ditching their "real" lives and heading for warmer weather.  It is a smorgasbord of people doing things they wouldn't normally do.

And then there is my family.

We don't "do" spring break...we survive spring break.  Spring break is a time when schedules are different and routines are interrupted.  While it is nice to sleep in a little, I have to admit to missing the sound of the bus taking my kids away to the land of learning.

So as the day breaks, and I sit in my PJ's, completely ignoring my regular routine, I will dream of a sunny island breeze and the relaxing sound of waves in the distance.  I will ignore the sounds of children stampeding in my house and block out the disaster my clean kitchen has become.

When this "break" is over I will need a vacation...and that my dear friends is what parents call school.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Census Is On Its Way.

Many months ago I spoke about the 2010 census I just wanted to remind those of you in the United States it is coming soon.

In my spare time I am a genealogist and the first research method is the local census.  Failing to fill out your mailed census forms will get you two things: 1) a visit from a U.S. Census worker, and 2) a swift kick to the behind from future generations trying to do research.

Remember the information is not released to the public for 72 years, and while I hope to be alive for many years, I doubt I will be alive to see its release.

This year the census form will be short and sweet.  I know it may seem like one more thing to do, but it is so much more.  You are recording yourself in history.  You are adding your family to the legacy of our country and its heritage.

A few of you may be concerned about privacy.  The information they are asking for is already out there.  They need it in one place on the census to spread out government services, but most importantly government representation.

So find yourself a good pen/pencil, take a seat, and become part of history.  In case you wondered, this is my official plug for the census.  I promise you future genealogists will thank you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Stages of Our Lives

Every person lives through many phases in their life.  There is childhood, the teenage years, the college years, the single years, the newly married years, the career years, the young kids years, the having teenager years, the empty nest years, the retirement years...and well, a whole bunch of years in between.

Every stage bring challenges and victories.  Sometimes we see the growth right away, and sometimes it takes a while.  It is not possible to leave one phase without bringing something with us to the next.

Some refer to it as the cycle of life.  Others might just call it growing old.  I think of it as the baby steps needed to make it through life.

Can you imagine if we started this roller coaster called life as parents before we had experienced being children?  It wouldn't work so well. Ever stage builds on the last.  We make memories and we grow.

Sometimes it is nice to look back and see where we've been.  Sometimes we even long for what is behind us.  You've heard the phrase, "You can't go back."  It is not the places that have changed, it is the people.  You can't get back that which has changed forever.

Today I had the chance to revisit my past.  It helped me remember why I chose the path I am on and why I can't go back.  The past is a nice place to visit, but a horrible place to live.  Being trapped in a world where events have been defined and expectations met leaves no room for growth and change.  The past is a lonely place filled with people who no longer exist and opportunities no longer available.

The present can be hard.  It can be down right horrible.  That doesn't mean it isn't exactly what you need to propel yourself into the future.  The "nightmares" of my past have led to the funny stories of my present and will lead to the legacy I leave in the future.

While living in this world and picking our way through the stages of our lives we must remember one thing.  That which does not kill us will render us ready for the next challenge.  Sometimes I find that comforting.  Sometimes that scares me to death.  Either way, bring it on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Finding Time to Hang Out

How often do you get to just hang out with your kids?  I am not talking about the time you spend doing homework or house chores.  I mean the time when you just do something together with no expectations of checking something off your list.

Do I see a slightly sheepish look on your face?  Don't worry, there is one on my face as well.  I am a goal oriented person, so having an activity accomplish "nothing" makes me twitch.

This weekend I had a lot to get done.  I was at a dead run a large portion of the day.  In the afternoon we went to the park and tried to teach the kids to play tennis.  I say try because it was a victory just to make contact with the ball, but we had a good time.

The funny thing was it was a relaxing time with the kids and there was no discord...unless you count the ball to the face episode...but we won't go there.  In spite of myself, I did accomplish something, I spent time with my kids and taught them to play.

My husband and I have talked about this and I think we are going to find a lot more ways to incorporate play into our lives.  Hanging out with our kids builds memories, it builds unity and it provides a moment of peace in a hectic world.

Did I say I am goal oriented?  Well what better goal could I have?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Invest In Someone Else's Life

I love it when I see a child learn a new skill.  Every so often I talk about volunteer work, and today looks like another chance for me to tell you why I love it.

Over the last few weeks I have watched a group of kids learn about tools, construction and design.  They have learned to problem solve and to work as a team.  When they are done they will have built a vehicle, not an automobile, but a vehicle, out of spare parts and imagination.

Hopefully when they are all done the vehicle will work.  That would be a nice bonus.  But even if it doesn't they have learned a lot.  I have watched while they discussed, attempted, messed up, and tried again.  They have designed, redesigned and then started over.  They have spend long days and long nights making it work.  The vehicle isn't done yet, but it is close...very close.

The best part for me is the growth I see in them.  They have come so far.  The time I have invested in them will stay with them forever in the form of skills, experience and confidence.  As return on investment goes, I found a winner.

Did I mention I love to volunteer?  Try'll like it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Being Prepared - Our Kids Depend on It

All parents want to be there to love and protect their children.  They want them to be safe and they want them to feel secure.

What happens if you aren't there to provide security for them?  Do your kids know what to do?  Do you have a plan written down to get them from you being gone to them being safe?

I am not just talking about death, I am talking about accidents, mishaps and even traffic jams.  Do your kids know what the plan is?  Do they know who to go home with, who to call and who to trust?

In today's world of TV, internet and 24 hour a day access to information, our kids know more about world events than we did at their age.  They are aware of disasters and can easily feel the insecurity created by emergencies around the world.

As parents have we created a plan for them and do they know their part?  We may have a guardian assigned, but do your children know who to call?  Do they know phone numbers and addresses?  Do they know you have provided for them?

As I write this I know I am touching on the fears of many parents.  I suggest you face those fears and take action.  Help you kids feel part of the solution and let them be part of the plan.  Write the plan down and give your kids the sense of security they need in this sometimes scary world.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Practice What You Preach

Sometimes funny things happen.

If you remember, I wrote a blog last week about my neighbor's roof.  I gave a great analogy about how we need to work on what is under the surface as much as we need to work on the surface itself.

Today I woke up to find a hole in my ceiling.  Apparently I have a leaky roof.  If that doesn't get you to sigh and giggle, I don't know what can.

I wish I had a lovely analogy to go with this leak but I don't.  I just have a great motivation to find a roofer, or at the very least a catapult to get my dear husband on the roof to fix it.  For now I just look at my ceiling and shake my head.  If I am honest I growl a little too.

Anyway, I am now off to practice what I preach.  I too will have a lovely underside to match my fabulous sad is it that I am only talking about my roof and not myself?