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!

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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)

Happy October!

42-15584316 It’s a great time to enjoy the cooler weather and the bright autumn colors. I love the contrast of the red, orange, and yellow leaves against the Carolina blue sky. Even the grass is still bright green. Most of the month is nice, but towards the end the days get more gray and cold. At least we can look forward to Halloween. Every year I try to figure out how (or if) I want to celebrate. I can’t remember the last time I wore a costume, and most years we stay home and just hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters.

Now that I’m a mom, it’s fun to check out the cute Halloween costumes for kids, or to look for party ideas. So I investigated some of the top Halloween trends for 2009, just to see what’s out there for kids and grownups alike:

There are some great party ideas at  http://www.celebrations.com One popular buzzword these days is frugality, and this site has a cool section on “cheap and chic” party ideas. The idea I liked best was to stream Halloween-type music from Pandora (which I happen to be listening to as I type this). You could choose traditional Halloween party music (Monster Mash, anyone?) or something more contemporary and dark. I’d play a lot of The Cure! Cheap decorating is as simple as covering your furniture with white sheets, hanging fake cobwebs, tossing around a few leaves and dead flowers, and of course using a lot of candles for dramatic effect.

I’m also interested in “green” ideas, and this site mentions things like making homemade Halloween candy and other treats.  As far as the kids’ party ideas, I have to say that a lot of them were more on the chic side than cheap. One author cited a “small” party budget of $500. WHAT??  That’s not cheap in my world. Clearly the bulk of the budget was spent on the parents who attended the soiree with their toddlers, because I honestly don’t think that the 2-year-olds would have noticed if the party hadn’t been professionally catered. Oh wait, I just re-read the article, and the author’s based in L.A. Maybe that explains it.

Seems like, around here, families do Trick or Treating and that’s about it. I’ve never actually hosted my own Halloween party. What are the popular activities in your area? Adult parties? Kids’ parties? I’d love to get some ideas!