And…We’re Back!

September is Hunger Action Month, and last year I felt like I let it pass by without having done anything significant, either through my words or my deeds. Hunger is something I feel strongly about, but I’m not sure how to translate that feeling into action. So maybe by blogging about it, by starting a dialogue with other people and figuring out how to make a difference together, I’ll feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.

There are so many issues under the huge umbrella of hunger. Maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time trying to touch on all of them. I’m interested in nutrition and wellness overall, so hunger, especially childhood hunger, is just one piece of this puzzle that I’m attempting to put together. I also love to learn and I’m a voracious reader. but I don’t feel like all of this information does me any good if I don’t act upon it in a tangible way.

Will you join me?

Many people have said it before, but it bears repeating: In this land of ours, where people produce (and CONSUME) so much, it is absolutely baffling to me that any individual, any child, would go hungry. It’s heartbreaking.

There are plenty of ways to get involved, from simply educating yourself to donating time or money, whatever your heart tells you is the right thing to do. I’m still figuring it out myself. But I’m happy to offer information, links to resources, whatever, just to get the ball rolling. We’re already seven days into September, so let’s go!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2013!

Peace Out, 2012. Welcome, 2013!

Every December, like many people, I tend to look back briefly on the year that’s about to end. However, I don’t spend too much time reflecting on the year that’s just passed, other than to shake my head in amazement at how quickly it went by. If I spend too much time looking backwards, I’m likely to end up feeling guilty and inadequate about what I didn’t do or what mistakes I made.

Instead, I put much more effort into planning the upcoming year. I love the look of a blank monthly planner, the lined pages just waiting to be filled with birthdays, appointments, nightly dinner ideas, you get the idea. I love starting fresh, with 12 whole months ahead of me. The only disappointing part of it all is that, when I wake up on January 1st, I don’t actually feel a tangible shift from one year to the next. By now I shouldn’t expect to feel noticeably different between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but I still love the idea of a clean slate.

In some ways, 2012 was a forgettable year. Don’t get me wrong. Every day I count my blessings and feel grateful for having another day to enjoy life. But, looking back over the past 12 months, nothing remarkable really stands out to me. Our little one seemed to grow up quite a bit between ages four and five. He was in nursery school and we were getting ready to choose an elementary school for him to start kindergarten. Personally and professionally, I just sort of floated along, going with the flow of each day.

This year, I’ve decided that my mantra is ACT. I’ve spent far too much time reading others’ advice and researching career options, trying to figure out how much time to dedicate to marketing myself as a freelance writer while also earning an actual income. I’ve researched enough and the time has come to take action and see what happens.

On a more personal level, I’m going to ACT in order to improve my physical health by exercising regularly and eating better. I’m pretty excited to get back to the gym and to take more positive steps toward good health.

In other words:

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart

Do you spend more time looking backwards or planning for the future? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to leave a comment!

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

A Common Sea

Last week, our minivan began making a horrid noise. It would lessen once the van warmed up, but it was worrisome nonetheless. We took it to our trusted mechanic and anxiously awaited the test results. Diagnosis: a bad power steering pump. $670 and loss of the van for an entire day was the prescription.

Guess that will be the family Christmas present this year.

But while I was mired in a pity party over this, which given our humble finances (my husband’s a career military man, after all, not an investment banker) is akin to near catastrophe, my dear friend was facing a financial hurdle of her own. One much harder than my little old car problem. And she wasn’t throwing a pity party about it.

Her husband was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and while he is currently in remission, the toll the disease has taken on…

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A Common Sea

The draft of this post has changed direction several times since I started writing it last Friday. It started out as a casual post that morphed into a rant and then changed focus again as I tried to make it more positive.

Last week I was struggling with the notion that my life had gotten back to “normal” after not really being disrupted in a major way by Superstorm Sandy. One of our huge pine trees fell toward the house and, had it been a few feet taller, then it probably would have hit the roof and crashed into our child’s bedroom. While that thought makes me shudder, I’m extremely grateful for what did NOT happen. We didn’t experience much damage and we didn’t lose power, except for one hour on Wednesday when the utility company was working in our area.

Yes, we went a bit stir-crazy at home with…

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My latest Five on Friday post at A Common Sea. Come say hi!

A Common Sea

Welcome to Friday Fun, a bit of nonsense or lighthearted discussion in anticipation of the weekend.

This week: more than you ever wanted to know about what I eat for breakfast.

True story: About two years ago, I was shopping at a local grocery store, not having a great time because I had gone there with a detailed list and coupons, and I was getting increasingly irritated at not being able to find everything I needed. I had stayed up late the night before, planning the week’s menu and collecting coupons for the good deals. What I thought would be a quick hour of shopping turned into an hour and a half, and I was losing patience.

At least I had some comic relief in the dairy section. I overheard one shopper ask another, “Are you going to take all of them??” Apparently, she was referring to the latest craze in the…

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Stressing Over Dressing

These rhyming titles have to stop. First it was “Only the Lonely” and now–

Stressing Over Dressing

Salad dressing, that is, not my wardrobe.

I found a bottle of Newman’s Own Lite Caesar dressing that I should have used, oh, before two weeks ago when it supposedly expired. But it’s still unopened so, according to a bunch of sites, I should be okay. Right?

The iffy thing for me was that it contains cheese, so…hmm. But I’m just going to eat a whole lot of salad and use up the dressing in the next three months. I can’t believe I’m a slave to salad dressing.

Only the Lonely

Our son is an only child. I count my blessings but sometimes it’s hard. Today mine nearly broke my heart when he came up to me in the park, after trying unsuccessfully to join a game of tag with two other boys, and said, “Nobody never (sic) wants to play with me.”

Ouch.

It hurts my heart to hear my sweet boy say that. He’s so friendly and kind, and he’ll walk right up to other kids, so I can’t stand to watch him look longingly as they either ignore his smiling face or flat out ask him to go away.

He doesn’t understand why he can’t just play with anyone he wants to. Usually the other kids are already part of a group, like friends or siblings who came to the park together. So mine’s the outsider. If he’s alone, why not let him join in? Well, he’s not always alone. He does have other friends, but they just weren’t there today.

Anyway, these are the times when I (almost) wish he wasn’t an only child. It’s bad enough when you have no one to play with, but when you approach a couple of other kids and they tell you outright that they don’t want to play with you, what can you do? I know kids can be harsh, and it might get worse as he gets older. I guess I just want to know what I’m supposed to do as a parent. I’m not going to force him to make friends, but I am going to make sure that he’s in situations where he has the opportunity.

I want him to experience the camaraderie and the fun of just being a normal kid. We often forget that children are not mini adults and, for some reason, we tend to treat only children even more like mini adults. I don’t want him to feel like he has to entertain himself all the time. Sure, he could do it because he’s creative and smart and funny….

My point is that if he’s not able to have the experience of growing up with siblings, he at least needs to be around other kids with the potential of becoming friends. School will help, I think, but I’m worried that it could also be a hindrance, only because the classes are so small and he’ll be with basically the same kids for the next several years. It’s a small group from which to choose his friends, so I guess we’ll have to keep him involved with outside activities as well, encouraging him without forcing the issue. It’s a fine line.

On Summer and Slacking

This blog needs to be resuscitated. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. It’s not that I have nothing to say. On the contrary. I always have a running list of interesting topics that would be fun to write about. My problem is that I don’t always get around to writing the material. It’s like a perpetual to-do list.

I’m cutting myself some slack for the rest of June. It’s summer vacation and we’re still getting used to being out of school. But in July I hope to make some better progress, at least with this blog. I don’t want it to sit here stagnant. I’d like to join the A to Z road trip, visiting (and re-visiting) some blogs from the challenge, hopefully becoming inspired by reading other blogs, and perhaps bringing some readers back here to converse with me.

Truthfully, I’m really struggling with where to take this blog. I want it to showcase my writing abilities, but how casual should it be? How serious? I kind of regret abandoning my Posterous Spaces, because the Your2Cents blog had a purpose–to post blurbs about current events or issues and ask for feedback. My other (main) space over there was random, and that was okay; it was a place where I could post what I ate for dinner and other minutiae. I even had a private journal just for writing practice. But now I have this one blog here and I’m not sure where it’s going. I can’t figure out how to combine my former spaces into one comprehensive site. Maybe I’ll just worry about it on a post by post basis.

Hmm, I just checked over at Posterous though, and their official blog hasn’t even been updated since March 12, the day they announced that they were being bought by Twitter. Not a good sign after all. Looks like I’ll continue twiddling my thumbs over here for a while.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Greetings! Since the A to Z Challenge ended, I seem to be flailing a bit, as far as figuring out what to write about. Not to worry, I’ll be back on track soon. In the meantime…

Just for fun, here are five things you might not have known about Memorial Day, to be celebrated this year on Monday, May 28th.

1.) The first Memorial Day was in 1865 and honored those who died in the Civil War. It was originally called Decoration Day, because people decorated soldiers’ grave sites with flags and flowers. Later, the name was changed to Memorial Day to remember all Americans who died in any wars or conflicts.

2.) In 1971, Memorial Day was officially moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May, a practice that also took place with other holidays in order to create a three-day weekend. Some people disapproved and thought it defeated the purpose of remembrance and undermined its meaning. Some of the most common Memorial Day activities include:

  • Parades
  • Picnics and Cookouts
  • Road Trips
  • Camping

3.) A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00pm local time, thanks to the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, passed in 2000.

4.) Memorial Day Weekend is notorious for huge summer movie openings. This year, the hype is surrounding Men in Black 3. Go see it and tell us what you think!

5.) 7 BILLION?!?! That’s how many hot dogs Americans will eat this between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

When did eating hot dogs become a sign of our patriotism? Confession: I do feed my kid organic chicken hot dogs. Beyond that, I don’t want (or need) to know much about them.

All kidding aside–

Regardless of your political/religious/philosophical leanings, this holiday weekend is a great opportunity to reflect on the privileges and comforts afforded to us by the individuals who have fought for our freedoms and who continue to serve their country.

Happy Memorial Day! And feel free to share some pictures of your favorite service persons with us over at A Common Sea.

(Sources: aarp.org, wkrq.com)

A to Z Challenge: Reflections

Great job on the A to Z Challenge, everyone!

And thank you to all of my readers, old and new! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hopefully I was able to visit all of you as well. I’m so glad that I participated for the first time in this year’s challenge, even though I flaked a little bit at the end. (Hey, I came across quite a few other bloggers who threw in the towel after only a few posts. So kudos to everyone who completed each letter!)

Wow, I wrote nearly 7,000 words over the course of the challenge. That might not seem like a lot to the professional authors among you, but it feels good to see all of my blurbs add up to something.

I don’t have any deep reflections to offer, but I wanted to share that I’ve learned so much from the other writers and bloggers who participated. I made connections to other like-minded people, while also getting exposed to styles and interests that were waaay different from my own.

It was fun to see people have the exact same ideas or words for their topics, especially when they took their posts in completely different directions.

Bottom line: I learned a lot and can’t wait for next year’s challenge….