Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Homeschool vs. Private School vs. Public School

Homeschooling IS amazing for those who HAVE THE ENERGY and creativity. Not all of us do, and I spent way too long convincing myself I do. I followed the relaxed homeschooling method and convinced myself I was doing enough by taking them to feed the ducks, taking them to the Chinese New Years celebration at the Asian Cultural Center (an absolute blast by the way), taking them to Dragon Boat Races on the lake, Hot Air Balloon lift offs at the local dam. While those were all amazing and an absolute blast, and may've even been an amazing learning experience for someone who was creative enough to make it into one, I wasn't. My kids watched, and it was a neat experience, but they didn't learn a darn thing about ducks, Chinese New Years, Dragon Boats, or Hot Air Balloons, except to know those things exist. Fast forward a few years, and I'm sick of coming up with things to teach them and always feeling like I'm not doing enough. He didn't know some of the most basic information. Again, had I been more creative and energetic with some of my methods I'm sure he would've had those things down pat. I wasn't.

I found a half home-school, half private school school and thought "Ah, here is the perfect fit." Especially because the brochure said I could put him in second grade math (that part is his gift, and remains today), and first grade reading. Only when we enrolled him first grade was full. So into second grade math he went. Halfway thru the year he wanted to go to school time because HEY consistent friends are FUN. I don't blame him. I feel the same way. Into full-time second grade he went. Only he was still missing first. He did okay in second thanks mostly to his AH-mazing teacher who we still stay in touch with.

The next year, we sent him to third grade and our younger one to to kindergarten. Kindergarten was an AMAZING year for the younger one and I realized HOW much my older one had missed. Teamwork, group activities, consistency, a teacher who had years of experience behind her and an even more extensive never-ending supply of creative ideas (we lucked out on that one, I realize that doesn't always happen in a school setting). Our older one, on the other hand, got the short hand of the stick this year. He's had speech difficulties since the beginning. Between making it to weekly speech appts, staying up on the overload of work at home from school, and things being taught SO fast in a two day environment, things started to come crashing down. On top of having two wonderful, but relatively inexperienced teachers in that they probably hadn't come across a kid quite as wonderful as him and pretty much had nothing to offer besides pat answers that didn't work on how to support him at home. When the school recommended we send him to a specific tutoring place that cost the same amount as the school for the year, that was the last straw. A friend of mine encouraged me to deal with his speech difficulties COMPLETELY before puberty when things start to set. He had been going to private speech therapy for years, but hardly on a consistent basis with her and my ever-changing schedules. This got me started with testing thru the public school for regular once a week speech testing, which, along with the difficulties at his current school and my complete and utter burn-out and non-desire to ever homeschool my children again drove us to enroll him in public school. With LOTS of meetings with the vice principal, registrar, and on-line information, mind you, before I felt like I could send him off to public school without worrying on my part.

What were my hang-ups on public school you ask? Fear. Mostly fear. Fear that the peer pressure would cause him to be different than something he was. Fear that the teachers would teach him something I absolutely did not want him to learn. Fear that he would prescribe to a different belief system than what we hold. Fear the education wasn't good enough for my child. I got over those fears by talking with LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of people who I admire and respect, in my church and in my life, about their views on schooling in general. So many of the ones I respect the most had sent their children to public school and spoke highly of it, also speaking of the importance of the community at home. How we as parents still have the ultimate responsibility to shape their lives, and how we are at home will do that. I have learned through my oldest going to public school that he now has two AMAZING women in his life who give their all to him 40 hours a week, happily. Not stressed out like I was. Not running dry of ideas and money, like I was. Fully loaded, ready to go. On top of that, I have gained two AMAZING women in my life who are helping me to become a successful parent by accepting and loving my child for who HE IS, not who I think he should be, or who somebody else thinks he should be. I have learned in the public school system you can make or break the experience as a parent of your child. You can either use the opportunities that come along to teach your child about life, or you can use the opportunities to bash the largest educational system in our country that is put there to give EVERYone a chance. He is receiving free speech services and his speech has improved dramatically. He is in the upper level math just like we wanted in the beginning. He is getting remediational first grade material through his teacher grading and sending his homework home with the corrections marked that I have him redo (again, I realize we are extremely lucky in that aspect and not all teachers send graded with marked corrections homework home, or even homework home at all). He has had an AMAZING year. To top it off he got to go to a winery with my husband and I, our younger, his two teachers and another teacher in his grade. How special is that?! Another fear I neglected to mention because I totally got over it, was not being a part of his education enough. That was easily solved by showing up on open house night and signing up for every volunteer opportunity I could possibly give myself to between working and homeschooling my little one. It has allowed me weekly opportunities in the classroom where I see how much he is flourishing and also get to know his teacher. On top of it all, his teachers both live in our apartment complex and his regular substitute teacher lives above us. This has all been a huge encouragement to know we are exactly in the right place at exactly the right time.

All this to say, my view is this. There is a reason you are where you are at. Don't bash where other people at. There is a reason they are there as well. Don't hold them up as gods either. They may not be in the creative, patient, wonderful loving place you think they are. Don't bash them for being non-involved or giving their kids to the system. They may be in a much more loving, creative, patient wonderful place than you think they are. Do keep an open mind to all possibilities every year as your family, life, and views evolve, and so does your childrens. Do think ahead a few years to how your decision today will affect them down the road. Do realize the system we live in and how affective you want your children to be as citizens of that system.

If you're homeschooling and are thinking of other options, think about the opportunities regular friendships create. My oldest gained a best friend from his half school and half homeschool experience. Do think of the learning opportunities gained from learning from other adults. My child is learning there is other ways to deal with anger than his mother's sometimes frustrated, stressed out responses. Do think of the consistency he MAY be missing because sometimes it's just nice to sleep in when you're homeschooling, or skip that subject because he KNOWS it already (but is it ingrained?). Do think of the accountability he will be held to for his grades, for his teamwork, for his initiative.

If you're in private school and are thinking about other options, do think about the low cost of home-schooling or public school versus private school. Do think about the benefits of home-schooling and being able to give your children those higher education opportunities without the pressures to be perfect with all your t's crossed and i's dotted literally that they require in private schools. Do think about the benefits of being able to teach your kid at his own pace. Do think about the time you will have with your child, versus the hours and hours of homework he will likely spend doing in private school. On the other side, do think of the free benefits of public school. Do think of the amazing teachers they have there. Do realize you can go in and talk to the principal of one schools, two schools, or many schools until you find one you like. If you are willing to make the drive for private school, how different is it to make the drive for public school? Do talk to the principal or vice principal and make sure they know your child personally as they will be personally responsible for choosing the teacher that best fits your child. Do realize that you can volunteer and be as much a part of your child's education as when he is in private school, only with less pressure of this project or this project, and less time spent on homework to fill in the blanks of what they missed in private school by not having the resources that public schools do.

If you are in public school and considering other options, do consider the quality one-on-one time homeschooling provides. Do consider the opportunity to get to know exactly WHO your child is before sending him off and believing what everybody else says he is. Do consider the opportunity to tailor his education directly to him, and not at one other person in his class. Do consider the lack of group following and self-initiative YOU will give him in homeschooling. With private school, do consider the amount of control you have over his schooling. You are footing the bill as much as you are in public school, but in a much more direct after tax way. You can go in and put your foot down and say this is what I want to happen. Unfortunately you have less control over the hiring of the teachers, experienced or inexperienced, and you may not have as many options as you might in a public school. All the same, do consider his friends will be more selected, because these parents are willing to work their arses off to have their kids in private school. Granted, some of them are loaded and can afford it AND their Lexus without a seconds thought, but a good majority of them break their backs to send their kids to private school because they believe it is the right thing for their child. Those children and those parents are GOOD people to be around.

Do you see how I can see both light and dark in each situation? It's because it's there. Don't fool yourselves into believing you have seen the light and only the light because you are choosing one of the options. Experience each one before you form an opinion about it. Don't really on stats. Stats don't tell you about YOUR child and YOUR experience. The most trusted advisors are those who speak from personal experience, hence why I love, whose video "Homeschool vs. Public School" inspired this post. Do tell others what you have experienced in your life, and why are you personally grateful you have made certain decisions. Do share with them the fears that are lurking in your closet as to why or why not you haven't made other decisions. Who knows? Their thoughts may change your views.

Back in the Groove

For some reason it really helps me to have an ultra-simple outline of what I need to do. If I get too busy filling in the details it overwhelms me and I throw in the towel. With Shawner's school work at home it is one overwhelming detail after another. Some days I print out three pages full of 14 size arial fonts with bullet checkboxes. Most days it's two full pages. All for us to do in ONE day.

Since Christmas it has been increasingly difficult for me to get back on the bandwagon of going down the checklist one by one. I would put it off as looooong as I could until I absolutely HAD to start doing it to get anything done. So yesterday I came up with this schedule:


8am: Phonograms, Spelling Tunes, Spelling


9:10am: Grammar, Composition


10:10am: History

11:10am: Lunch

12:10pm: Math Facts, Math Quiz


1:10pm: Math Lesson, Math Worksheet


2:10pm: Reading, Science


Strangely, even as simple as it is, I am freshly renewed. I have a schedule to follow, breaks to look forward to, and an extra long lunch time. Also, everything being done by 3pm. Perfect.

Today we got a late start due to the freeze and consequently Justinbustin's school starting two hours later, but we have been squeezing in phonograms, spelling, grammar, and composition in the empty spaces and it's been working as smooth as a baby's bum.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


With all these companies being bailed out , where is the relief for the consumer? These companies who sold credit to people in excess and are now being bailed out by those same people. The customers, who are now not only paying the current money they owe to these companies, their insane credit fees, interest fees, are also paying to keep the business and the payroll for the big guys afloat.

It would be like one's brother giving a loan, knowing there is no ability to pay it back anytime soon. Dumb, but it's accepted. Then, the parents give him the money he loaned free of charge. Yet somehow one still owes the brother every cent, plus fees for being late and higher interest just because they may've skipped a bill elsewhere. Oh, and by the way, they now also have a bill tacked on to that to pay the parents back for helping the brother out.

Seems like one giant f*ck up to me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Note to Self

Not the greatest idea in the world to plan a trip to the vineyard for a wine tasting the day after a martini party. Especially one where we drank so much and stayed up til' 5am. We had a blast at the gorgeous vineyard even with the hangover. The sunny skies broke through and the weather warmed up just for us. We had an amazing sunny entrance to the vineyard, enjoyed our wine tasting, cheese, and grapes. Then, the clouds and cold closed in again as we left and I tried to figure out why I knew 2+2=4 but I wasn't sure if it equaled 3 or 5. That pretty much explains the fog in my head that is only now starting to lift after a big pot of coffee.

Martini Party h'ordeourves
Martini glasses

Flat Creek Vineyard

We fell over shortly after this.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Things I'm Grateful For

This transition back into the never. fuckin. ending. routine of life has me so down after the cheer and care free of the holidays that I thought I would write a list of things I'm grateful for and have enjoyed since break.
*Bike riding the Veloway (or attempting to any way and deciding we don't like roadies much when biking with two children)
*Reading while watching the boys bike the hills at Palmer Event Center
*Biking Town Lake and taking a picture of our family by the skyline
*Going wedding shopping with one of my fav girls Genie
*Girls nights with Li, M, and Ambs, making dinner together and watching the new Bachelor and our oldie but goodie Gossip Girl (we didn't get into the City)
*Touring our own downtown and taking fun pictures in yellow stringy things
*Dinner with my girl, KT, even tho it started in tears (something about tears this week, three of my friends and I have cried buckets. All on Monday, too)
*Creating my itinerary to Hawaii
*Thinking about girls weekends coming up, trips to Cali, and SUMMER
*Being asked to attend my good friend's second birth
*Being able to go on dates, even though we're clearly out of practice
*My child watching the inauguration at school
*4 hours at home by myself last Saturday
*Dinner with JaeWu last Saturday

Art Sculpture downtown on the UT Campus

The Domain
Truthfully all this happy time with Brando has me feeling a little nauseous. I need my girl time to balance me out! Although I have been having plenty of girl time I have had equal time with Brando thru my own effort thinking it would be good for him. I'm thinking either I'm adjusting to not having more girl time than I have with Brando or I just plain need more girl time to stay well balanced!! Hmm, typing that out may've just answered my own ponderings. I am spending more time with him for HIM, but I need to make sure I take care of myself. I am grateful for
*the opportunity to go out on dates with Brando, and that we make it a priority.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winter Depression

This whole winter thing is affecting me a lot more than I like. I'm eating like a pig and have no motivation to use my gym. Not like that's any change from the last 3 years, but I need to! It's 79 degrees today and I'm in pants so I'm hot to top it off and pissed off that I thought it was going to be cool and instead I'm sweating!! I'm going to lay out by the pool tomorrow and soak up some sun since it's going to be 80 degrees.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oh my gosh we have a stylish First Lady!

In light of everything going on in the world, this is probably low on the list of priorities. Nonetheless I am super excited about it! Check out her inauguration-al celebration choice by a new and upcoming designer Jason Wu. His entire collection is so fun! How fun to have such a prominent person be so fashionable and not fade into the background because she has to dress professionally. I love people who dress fashionably, cute, stylish, and manage to look professional all at the same time. I can't wait to see more of her choices!

On a more important note, Justinbustin watched the inauguration at school yesterday. My heart was so proud when I heard that. What a neat moment in history for the kids to share together. I watched it at work. My boss was recording it and I still don't know how to work that darn TV, so I'm glad it was on already when I got there. I have to say I'm still not sure what to think of Obama, mostly because most people I know vehmently disagree with some of his choices. I voted for whose parties my beliefs most lined up with, but I'm still not sure who I really believe in.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Tousled Look


Truth be told this is my first attempt at this one. Sort of a sleek look with only the ends curled. I did pretty well, only one burned thumb and one petrified looking section of curled hair that I decided to try hairspraying while I was curling it. However, when I got to the end I attempted to tease the crown and ended up poufing it more than I wanted. I liked the sleek look before I teased it, so next time I'll stick with that and see what happens to it a few hours down the road.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Make up your mind!!

I am officially sick of winter and in between days. I want the weather to make up it's mind, none of this in between shit where I wear tank tops one day and sweaters the next! Half the time these days I go out in long sleeves when it's short sleeve weather or vice versa, just because it was that the day before. Doesn't mean anything around here. Today I feel like I have nothing to wear because it's a beautiful spring day but, oh, wait, it's still the middle of winter.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Review... & Kristin!


In the last month I've finished all four of the books in the Twilight series, and now How to Sleep with A Movie Star (which is really nothing of the sort). Because I couldn't stand the thought of not having something to move onto when I was done with the Twilight series, I snatched up How to Sleep With a Movie Star, the only book that looked interesting on the Barnes & Nobles bargain table. For a mere $2.50 how could I pass it up?

At first glance it seemed to be pure chick lit, light and an easy read after skimming a few pages. As I dove into it last night after finishing Breaking Dawn the evening before, I realized it was a similar premise to what Twilight's theme had been. Girl doesn't feel good enough for overwhelmingly dashing and charming man. There wasn't quite as much interaction between girl and dashingly charming man, but the road to get there was worth it and it more than filled the empty space the Twilight series left behind.

Any way, as I read it I thought of Kristin and wondered if the career worries and choices that the main character dealt with are in any way familiar to her since their line of work is/has been similar. Which made me realize I never posted the pictures of when we were out there!! So in honor of her and her hard-earned line of work, I thought I'd finally post the picture of when I got to meet her in San Fran at an adorable breakfast place I forget the name of. I don't think I ever even emailed her the pictures : ( !! And just because it's funny I'm posting the picture we forced the guys to take. We took our girlie pictures and so we made them take a guy picture : ) . Next post, the pictures with Cecilia and Courtney. Gah, I can't believe it's taken a year for me to post these.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


The boys in their room, Justinbustin, now nine, and Shawners, now seven, working on a project taping together two empty oatmeal boxes and taping paper to the outside creating who knows what. Music from Justinbustin's ipod playing softly Jeremy Camp in the background. A sweet brotherly moment I witnessed for a few minutes of total teamwork, accompanied by soft music,  as I realized tomorrow I will blink and they will be all grown up. Less than four years now until Justinbustin's voice changes, less than six when he will turn into the man he is becoming and the adult he will be, and less than eight when he will be considered an adult by law.

My third nephew that lives out here is the last one to turn into an adult amongst his brothers, and I have freaked him out a few times in the past few days by acting like the crazy aunt who can't believe how much he has grown. I talked to him on the phone today and sat in shocked silence for about four minutes while I listened to his changing voice that sounded so much like his brother did just a year or two ago. His brother, whose voice I now mistake for his father on the phone all the time. Who is more of a man than any other sixteen year old I have met, runs his own business, bought his own car, and who is now about to be seventeen. My eyes widen in shock every time I see those boys realizing when we moved here the second time, only three and a half years ago now, the youngest was the age Justinbustin is now, and I realize how very close my boys are to becoming grown ups of their own.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Friends in Hawaii with us would be soooo much fun. A vacation with the two of us is so needed. Years of marriage, friendships to keep, time together that is needed. What do I WANT?! Both.

Updated: I called him and found out his girl only had a few days vacation any way so told them we would loooove for them to be there, but told them Brando and I wanted time to dirty the sheets too so if they could come out for a few days it'd be perfect! Haven't got a response yet, but I'm happy with saying what I wanted.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Casual Headband Look


This hairstyle I recently discovered from a Hills episode and l-o-v-e! I've always liked headbands on other people, but the whole hair pulled back from my face thing has never worked well for me. This allows my face to be framed AND I get to wear a headband. This one is super simple, I do my hair normally and then place the headband exactly in the middle. Be sure to use a headband that contrasts with your natural hair color i.e. light colored headband for brunettes and dark hair, black or dark brown headband for blondes. I tease the hair behind the headband so it doesn't disappear completely from the front view, smooth it down, spray it all with a light finishing spray and I'm good to go. Here's a side view picture from over Thanksgiving of when I did this hairstyle. You'll have to excuse the throw up in your mouth a little.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blogging Catch Up

Justinbustin bought his best friend a Christmas gift. When the friend came over on Friday to play Justinbustin gave it to him and crossed his fingers behind his back as he watched him open it, hoping he would like it. When his friend opened it, Justinbustin asked, "Do you have it already?" His friend loves Indiana Jones and it was an Indiana Jones book. Sooo cute.

The other night when we ate dinner I yawned and stretched my arms over my head. Shawners, now seven years old, started cracking up and pretty soon dissolved into laughter for a good five minutes. When we finally got him to 'fess up to what he was laughing at, he says, "Your boobies are big." Oh my!!

WE'RE GOING TO HAWAIII!!!!!!! YIPPPEEEEEEE!!!! This really deserves a post of it's own, but I just haven't taken the time. On top of that, Brando has ONE more person to have it approved with in order for him to take off from work. So we have thrown around more than enough dates, going with more than enough people, and finally settled on a date. We bought the tickets, we have the house reserved, an itinerary created thanks to Alyssa's help, now we are just waiting for that one last bit of go ahead in order to actually go ahead!!

We had a wonderful family weekend this weekend. Yesterday we attempted the Veloway for the first time. Too bad it was full of roadies that liked to do nothing more than shout "Wrong way!" when we had to turn around because Shawners had a meltdown on his heavy bike a quarter mile into it. It would've been funny to shout wrong way to them before they got to it and try and convince them THEY were actually going the wrong way. Too bad I thought of it just after we saw the last biker before we reached the parking lot. We went and fixed Shawner's lighter bike after that. Then we took the boys to the Palmer Event Center fountain park. They biked up and down the hills while we sat on the grass huddled up in jackets in the cold and read. Today we hiked Barton Creek Greenbelt for the first time while the kids rode their bikes. Then we chilled at the boys' favorite playground before heading home for a relaxing evening.

Well I was going to post the pictures, but Blogger is being lame so I'll post a slideshow instead.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Anniversary Weekend


My sister took the kids this weekend and Brando and I had the whole weekend to ourselves. Weird. But a blast. Wish I had pictures of taking breakfast to Brando and his coworker at his work Saturday morning decked out in my haute business suit in order to stick around and not look out of place. Or me helping his friend move in my cute wedge flip flops and big earrings on Saturday afternoon hence no fun day pictures : ( . We made up for it plenty both nights though.

Drumming on the table to the live music

How could I forget my favorites?

Our favorite restaurant. Ever. We always end up here somehow someway.

Watching Yes Man at The Alamo Drafthouse.
Funny as hell and the perfect drinking game movie.

Our serious faces as we rush to catch the sunset at the Oasis.

We made it!

Waiting for our table.

Yay! We got seated before the sun set.

Our pretty view.

More of our view.

Must get sunset pictures.

Soooo pretty. This was our first time eating here.

It's less than two miles from our house.

And I can't believe it took us three freakin' years to discover it.

 Coming here for the first time is perfect to celebrate our eight years of being together. Our anniversary was in November, but since everything else was also in November we didn't celebrate much and decided to let this make up for it a bit. We heard it didn't have the best food which is why it took us so long to get here, but with that view who cares?!

Plus the food was delicious! And the mango margaritas.

The grounds at the restaurant are almost as beautiful as the view and way more interesting to investigate.

See what I mean? A random space shuttle. I had a nice time in Mars. Learned a lot about men.

Walking SoCo.

The pretty grounds at Hotel San Jose.

Driving up South Congress towards the capitol which you can see at the end of the street.

Had to get coffee at Jo's on SoCo to stay awake.

NXNW. Again. Can't beat the live music. Need I say more?

Buh-bye weekend! Oh, except we went over to a friend's house and stayed up til' 3am.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Going Out Look


This is my normal for going out, only this time I fluffed up my bangs and made sure to use all my styling products. You can see Brando at the door, impatiently waiting for us to catch the sunset at the Oasis.

I'll definitely post how to do a look if people ask, otherwise I won't take the time.

As for how to do the rockstar look and make sure it is smooth first make sure your hair is straightened. I use a Chi and lurve it. Then, you can use a teaser brush like this one,

or make do with a comb and roll brush like I do. With the brush part of the teaser brush or the fine side of the comb, tease the hair on the top of your head and a little bit to the sides in nine different even sections, three across and three back. You're going to look a bit like Lisa Kudrow in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion at this point.

Then, using the roller brush or the brush part of the teaser comb brush gently over just the top layer. Make sure you do not press the brush in or you will lose the volume. Usually two or three strokes is all you need. You'll want to brush it towards a point at the very top back of your head and let the height of the poofiness be just before where you secure it. Make sure all sides are smooth and use two bobby pins to secure it in a criss cross shape. I usually do the open ends of the boby pins pointing towards either cheek on the side of my face.

Finish by securing the rest of your hair in a ponytail at a height between the nape of your neck and the bobby pins. You can tease the top layer of the ponytail to add an extra rock star glam in there. Or, if you're really brave (I'm not), do a low side ponytail peeking out behind just one ear, making sure to tease the top layer. Finish with a solid layer of extra hold, not sticky or greasy hairspray (I like Dove), and smooth any flyaways. Good luck!

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Rock Star Look

Ah, you know what would be fun? You know how people are always posting pictures of themselves in their fashion getup? While I think that's fun, it also slightly depresses me because while I have one or two outfits that look that way, most of my outfits are the same thing mixed up. It's just makes me want to shop more and I really don't need to be doing that! So. I think posting hairstyles would be fun! Three or four products, a few hair clips and you can pretty much do anything (well, at least, what I know how to do). So whether or not anybody else jumps on board, I'm going to stick to my resolution and post pictures of different hairstyles I find that are fun, which will hopefully inspire me to learn more (I love asking my hairstylist to teach me!), and have something to fall back on when I don't feel inspired.

Introducing hairstyle #1, The Rock Star Look:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What are YOUR '09 New Year's Resolutions?

I was going to do '08 in Review with pictures but when I got to March and already had 80 pictures I changed my mind. So I'll do resolutions again instead. I love that I accomplished so many of the ones I made last year!

This is my second year to do New Year's Resolutions. Last year's resolutions proved to keep me so focused and remembering my goals that they became a subconscious effort and when the end of the year came faster than ever I was shocked to see I accomplished so many of them!! I'm looking forward to making an effort at my additional resolutions this year until they become a subconscious effort as well!!


On girl time
Keep up the girl time I started two years ago. Specifically visit my cousin in California again, take that girls' road trip I didn't get to last year, visit Napa with my sisters and cousins, enjoy my Monday nights with Li and girls, spend my birthday weekend away possibly in Mexico, and take every opportunity I can to go out with and spend time with and enjoy the girls. As last year the same rewards hold true, the personal satisfaction of continuing to discover who I am apart from mommy and wife.

and adding to this one this year...

On time with my man
Make more effort to plan special time alone with my man to rediscover and relearn to enjoy who we are as individuals and who we are in our relationship. Specifically, continue to take dates once a week as often as possible and plan our "practice" vacation to Hawaii!!!! And actually take it!! This has proved to be much more difficult than I first imagined, what with juggling six schedules and all, but by golly I intend to work through it all and do it!! Brando and I have not taken a vacation in our eight years of marriage EVER, not even our honeymoon, unless you count two nights in podunk Texas as a honeymoon. I don't. We NEED a vacation and I am bent on doing it since I thought of the idea. I call it our practice vacation because, heck, we need the practice before we can do it as a family!! Most couples get their vacationing together kinks out of the way before they start popping out the kids. Well now our kids are older and we have that opportunity I want to take advantage of it in every way I can! Specifically, be okay with the time frame being less than perfect and the kids maybe not getting to have as much fun as if they were hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa in California if the timing doesn't work, or with Brando's Mom having to come out here and take them to school and bring them home while she's here. Also, being okay if the pricing is a little more than I would like to pay for, and understanding there's a price to pay for practice and eventually we will have it down to where we will be able to get the best timing at the best price. The reward, being able to be a friend, have fun and enjoy who I am with when the kids are not around, now and when they are grown up. More tangibly, the reward of taking another more stress free trip next year because we will have had our practice run!!

Adding another one...

On enjoying the beauty of nature
Put a renewed effort into going out and enjoying our town. I'm not sure if it was the kids' school schedule, our jobs, or the pressure of the economy, but we've slacked off on our enjoyment of the local entertainment, nature, and beauty in the past few months and I'd like to get back into it as much or more so than we did before, as we have been having such a wonderful time doing over this Christmas break and had such a wonderful time doing this summer. Specifically, check out every new fun place we hear of in Austin, and every free new event that sounds interesting, including some of our favorites including Ballet Under the Stars, Shakespeare in the Park, South Asia New Year, Musicals in the Park, Barton Springs Pool, Mt. Bonnell, kayaking Town Lake, Laguna Gloria, Mayfield Park, watching the bats on South Congress, Whole Foods headquarters, and hopefully many new places this year!! The reward, knowing that I have enjoyed the beauty of my town to it's fullest and knowing that if I ever move away from here I will not be sad that I did not enjoy the time while I was here. Also, the satisfaction of having so many wonderful unique memories that can not be created any other time or place.

On taking care of my body
Put more effort into my hair. This time it's my hair! Specifically, fluff up my bangs so they're not so freaking flat, get three haircuts this year instead of two, and put more effort into styling my hair even when I go out for simple things, but even more so for girls' nights out, dates with Brando, etc. By the way, this next part might be too much information for some of you! Specifically also to keep my eyebrows consistently groomed by shaping them at least once a month, plucking them at least once a week, and going into have them professionally shaped at least twice a year!! Oh man the way I look when I neglect them or forget to reshape them for even a week or two!! The reward, the personal satisfaction of having pictures where I put my effort in to look my best and can look back at and not nit pick at myself for not doing this or that with my hair and face!

On my thought life
Get into the mind-frame that college is not an option. It's a must. Specifically, figure out what my end is and use college as a means to that end. Figure out if I want to work towards being a teacher so I can be on the same schedule as the kids and continue doing something I enjoy after they're grown. Or if I want to work on being an engineer and end up spending 60+ hours in the field if I want to do something I really enjoy. Or if I want to force myself to get over my faint heart and do something in the medical field. Figure out where I want to be in 10 years and start making a plan to get there. The reward, having a solid goal to work towards and not some vague aspirations that I give up on easily because it's not solid enough to grasp any way. Also, knowing and being able to appreciate all the work that I will have put into it when I reach that goal.


On school
Get creative with financing for school and my time frame. Specifically, check into loans for school and what the specifics for paying them back are. Calculate what my income will be when I graduate and figure out how long it will take to pay them back. Then calculate the amount we will end up losing in twenty years if I don't end up getting a degree to where I can earn a decent income and having to settle for a job where I work my ass off and make less than $24k a year. As far as time frame, specifically, ask around and see what courses would be best to take online to get out of the way when there are times that I can be flexible with my hours in my home, but not out of the home i.e. in the summer. The reward, being able to accomplish my goals without being a burden on my family, and instead actually being able to help our future.

On my home front
Keep my home maintained and decluttered and invite more people into my home. Specifically, set aside a time every month to declutter each room and throw out items that are no longer needed. Also, maintain our daily habits and routines by cleaning up after ourselves and teaching the boys that in our family we clean up after ourselves. Teach them that we work before we play, so that once we're done working hard we can play even more than we would've been able to before. Invite each of the couples we know over, and make a point of having a new couple over once a month for dinner and a movie or margaritas and chips and a game night. The reward, giving myself permission to buy one new kitchen, decorating or entertaining for my home each month as I succeed.

On my family front
Continue to take pictures that are actually a happy moment this year. Also, to take more fun and goofy pictures rather than smiley ones where you say 1-2-3 cheese all the time! Aw, it makes my heart smile thinking how many happy pictures we took last year. Specifically, making sure that I continue to capitalize on those happy moments before or after the fact and remind them how happy they will be to have those pictures later. Also, specifically, find and pay attention to interesting and fun set ups and faces in magazines, other pictures, etc. that will make our own pictures more interesting and fun.  I am so camera happy that people get irritated with me for it sometimes! Thanks to people like KT for encouraging me by telling me how good I am at snagging other people to take pictures for group photos. Most of the time I feel like I embarrass everyone I'm with when I do that. Good thing I don't care either way! The reward, having those memories captured on film to enjoy that time over and over again, and having more than just smiling faces, more of the personality of each individual!


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