Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VERY Quick and EASY Halloween Crafts

The kids are already really into decorating for Halloween.  These days I am into simple, easy and cute crafts!  Here are a few crafts that almost anybody could do with just simple stuff you probably have around the house.  No trip to the craft store required!  Enjoy!

1.  Ghost Garland  (or Bats or Pumpkins)
You need:  Paper, markers, scissors.
We did these, but instead of making them 'linked' we just cut out a stack of ghosts from white typing paper.  The kids gave each ghost a unique face using markers, glue and glitter, and then we taped them to a long piece of twine.

2.  Paper Plate Masks
You need:  Paper plates, pain or markers, scissors.

3.    Monster Magnets
You need:  Bottle caps, googly eyes (or eyes drawn on paper), whatever you can find!
You don't NEED to make them into magnets; use them to play color or sorting games!  But if you have old magnets that need a "refresh", give them a monster makeover!

4.  Coffee Filter Spider Web
You need:  Coffee filters or paper, scissors.

5.  Q-Tip Skeleton
You need:  Dark paper, light paper, Q-tips, scissors.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Real Beef with Paula Deen

In all the hubub surrounding the Paula Deen racism related scandal, I have to say - that's not why I'm not a a Paula Deen fan.  But it doesn't help.

Before I tell you what my real beef is, let me say - what she said in a court deposition was bad.  There's something clearly wrong about fantasizing about having a plantation-themed restaurant complete with African American waiters that she likened to being slaves.  Bad.  Bad.  Bad.  But are we condemning her for a) being racist, b) for sharing her racist thoughts and dreams in a public forum, or c) for threatening the precious reputations of brands that we know and love?
(a) is the reason people are shocked.
(b) is the reason it's making the news and
(c) is the reason that her career is going down the tubes.
     The fact of the matter, however, is there are plenty of people out there who have racist thoughts of varying degrees (and may not know themselves that they have them, and/or acknowledge that they are racist).  However, most people don't voice them except around people they believe are like-minded.... so definitely not in public.  But there ARE people who have voiced similar sentiments in a public forum -- even elected politicians - who still have jobs and still work in the public eye for many years.
Think Mel Gibson.
Think Strom Thurman.
Think Rush Limbaugh.
    She is being persecuted because she let her freak flag fly.  She put some freaky bad words out there for public consumption.
   But I think we should think carefully before we slam the last nail in the coffin of Paula Deen's career, because we may also be shutting the door on an opportunity to better deal with race issues in this country.  Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of everybody probably have racist thoughts.
    Do we, as a nation, have a conversation around the offender who dares to put words to their thoughts, and consider understanding and forgiveness?  Or do we bare torches, burn the sacrificial lamb, and then pretend that the offender was aberrant, was the only one?  Do we see Paula Deen as "other" or do we see her as one of the group of everybody who at one point or another has unfavorable thoughts about another group of people.

I am not letting Paula Deen off the hook.  She'll have her day in court.

My real beef with Paula Deen is that for 3 years, she pushed severely unhealthy food, perpetuating her own and others' risk for being obese and having diabetes.  All the while, she actually had diabetes.  She deceived millions of people, pushing her 'drug' of Southern Fried food.  Then she came out and admitted her disease, and signed a million-dollar deal with a drug company promoting a diabetes drug.

She's nothing but a drug pusher to me.  She pushed the drug of buttery, sugary, salty, killing foods, and then she pushed the drug to help heal the people whose diseases she helped perpetuate.  She profited dearly off one drug, and then profited off the illness that that drug created.

And I didn't see the Food Network threatening to kick her off the air for being unethical.  Hmmm??

Friday, May 10, 2013

Southern Girl At Heart

I may have tried to fight it at various points for various reasons but I'm a southern girl at heart.  I would like to submit into evidence the following facts.

I cannot complete a day without saying "y'all."

My favorite part of a country song is when they yell "yee haw" or "come on!"  I am not responsible for how loud I yell those parts in the car alone.

Oh yeah, I like country music.

Specifically, I like country songs that even have incorrect grammar, use swear words, and reference beer.  Especially when it's a woman singing it.

I lived over half my life in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

I love me some cowboy boots and always wish I had a nice pair.  Maybe for Christmas this year.

Though the actual skill alludes me, I admire line dancing, square dancing, and other dances practiced more in the south.

Give me a porch swing and some sweet tea, and you won't find a happier girl.

The smell of gardenia just makes me swoon, and the sight of honeysuckle makes me feel like a kid all over again.

I could get used to riding in a truck with a lift kit.  Do they make such trucks in environmental friendly modes, like hybrids?

So think what you will about me.  Who knows.  Everybody's an enigma in their own way....  but while you won't catch a confederate flag or a gun rack anywhere near my abode, nor will you find me signing my kids up for cotillions or making ballgowns out of drapes, I am proud to be counted among the army of southern girls.

That is, if they'll have me.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I'm still a vegetarian! And other updates.

This picture is not relevant to this
post but I haven't taken any
of myself lately!
So... I've been biiizzzzz-eeeee lately.  [AKA busy but really really busy.]  Why?  Not that it matters, but work work work work work + kids + kids kids + marriage + dogs + life and stuff.  There are so many "works" because I basically have 2 full-time jobs crammed into one and it really wears me out each day.  Ex. Haust. Ing.

Also, I've cut back on some things for happiness' sake.  Facebook, for one.  And I'm happier! [Thanks hubs for making me do that.]  Also, I no longer write for ...  but it's still a rockin' blogazine so check it out.

One question that keeps coming up is - Are you still vegetarian?
Haha. Yes.  I think I'm in it to win it.  I don't know how long it's been, but I haven't even been tempted.  Still it's had its challenges.

For one, I realized I was creating more family tension by not buying or making meat for anybody else.  Well, we bought chicken nuggets and hot dogs, but I mean like - MEAT.  Steaks, pork chops, bacon.  So I caved and have started buying and making those things for the fam.  What sucks, though, is when they don't eat the meat I cook.  That's almost worse, for me.  Some poor animal lived a pretty horrible life, in all likelyhood, and now I have to just throw their flesh away or feed it to the dogs.  It just makes me sad and guilty.

The other thing is, I feel like I so quickly decided to become vegetarian that I didn't realize the rituals about eating meat I would miss.  I used to love me some grilled hot dogs... and summer is coming up, my first summer without them.  I never even got to say goodbye.  [OK so maybe I still can.]  Also, I kind of miss easy go-to meat snacks and meals, like pepperoni slices, ham sandwiches, and ye old hamburgers.

Oh well.  None of that makes me want to turn back.  And I'm on track now to actually be a better vegetarian.... aka, more vegetables!  We've joined a group where we get locally grown veggies delivered to our house every week! I'm SO EXCITED!

So yes I'm still vegetarian if you were wondering.  And I'm still a blogger although not much lately.  I've had work to do.  :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

12 Social Norms to Ignore [at least sometimes], & Improve Your Life

1.  Shower every day.
2.  Never sleep in your clothes.
3.  Never sleep in your clothes then wear them all day the next day too.
4.  Don't eat with your fingers.
5.  Snacks can't be a meal.
6.  Your house must be spotless.
7.  Stuff must match other stuff.
8.  You shouldn't share your age.
9.  Don't talk about your problems.
10.  Keep your mouth shut and be nice.
11.  Go along to get along.
12.  No PDA.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Trying on a new look!

Per my New Year's resolution, I can't cut my hair.  It's looking cray-cray these days and there's nothing I can do.

I can't quit my job because, like, I did that 3 months ago.  That is soooo last year.

I can't have another baby because it's just not in the cards.

So....  'cause something's gotta change, it's my blog!  Welcome to blooMBing.  Because I'm not just a 'clip clop mama.'  Because I'm not just a wife.  Because I don't want to define my blog by some category.  I am all sorts of all over the place, trying to be better and do better and grow. And against some good advice, I like "blooMBing."  It's got me written all over it.   I hope you'll continue to enjoy it half as much as I enjoy writing on it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When life gives you a broken Barbara Streisand duets CD....

Back in 2005, I had been at my job 6 months by the time Christmas rolled around.  I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed little program evaluator.  For Christmas, I made cookies and put them in little Chinese take-out boxes for everybody in our division.  Imagine my perplexion [word?] when the following occurred.

Upon handing the little take-out box to our administrative assistant (whom I thought liked me), she said - "Oh I got you something too."  She kind of looked around, then opened a drawer.  She took out an unwrapped item and handed it to me.  "I got this for you.  Sorry, it looked so good I had to listen to it before I gave it to you."  "Oh thanks" I murmured and scampered off.

It was open.    The case was broken.    It was this:

It was clearly not new.  It was clearly not bought for me.  It was clearly not a Christmas gift.

It was one of the strangest things that had happened to me by that point in my life.  And I had done and seen some stuff.... especially in the Peace Corps.

Well, the feeling I had that day was kind of like I've been feeling lately.  Like, innocence lost.  Here are some lessons on what life is really like, kid.  I go on my little naive way, la-dee-da, and then somebody or something rears its head and says "Oh you think the world is good and you want all these nice things and for people to get along - well, eff you!"

I hated the feeling I had that day.  It's a feeling I can't name.... like, being left out of the loop.  I felt like there are unspoken rules and peccadilloes that just elude me.  My brain just doesn't process them or know how to react.  Like, if I know somebody is being fake-nice, or doing things just to be polite not nice, I feel kind of paralyzed to respond.  I don't know what to do.  When do you all people out?  When do you let it get to you?  When do you let go?

I still don't know why she gave me that gift or what it meant.  Did she secretly hate me?  Was I the butt of some joke?  Did she think there was a gold watch in that take-out box instead of 5 cookies?  Would any excuse warrant giving somebody a broken duets CD?

I just know it made me feel crappy.  I never talked to her about it.  I just had a good laugh(cry) about it with a friend.

Plus it really hurt my feelings that people think I like Barry Gibb when I really just liked a few of the Bee Gees songs because really, that was the strongest moment for any of the Gibb brothers.  I mean, doesn't anybody really know me at all, geeze??!

So...  dear reader....  when life gives you a broken Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb duet album, how do you make Streisand-and-Gibb-ade?  Do you insist that the music is sweet sweet sweet, when it was possibly given to you in malice, cynicism, or crazed delusion?  Do you say to the gifter, hey, this sucks, what gives?

Or do you (like I did) give the crappy CD to your parents, try to forget it happened, and move on about your business?

This post is vague on purpose.  Just been dealing with a number of disappointments in recent times on a number of levels.  Trying to hear the sweet music despite the brokenness....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ugh. We still have cable... but I got a good deal!

To have cable/phone/internet, or not?  That is the question.  At least it has been in our house the past few weeks.  As the time of our 'introductory deal' Verizon Fios contract drew nigh, we knew the decision was looming. We had pretty much decided on ditching everything but the Internet.  After all, prices be crazy, and who needs all that?  I mean really?  And most of what we need (a term I use very loosely) every day is Internet driven.... like streaming free TV shoes on websites, or using Netflix.
Then I actually called Verizon Fios after learning that all of Roy's attempts had been through online chats.

Now, this is not a blog post to sing Verizon Fios' praises. If you show me a phone/cable company with clear pricing and excellent customer relations, you can have a turn riding my new unicorn.   It is a blog post that I could have otherwise labeled "It ain't over until you get on the phone for at least an hour and initiate the actual service cancellation process."  By calling and being patient and persistent, I reduced our monthly cable bill by $50 in a single phone call.  Here's how:

1) Know what you're willing to pay for your new car for your services.  Be 100% willing to walk away.  You don't NEED it.
2) Don't be rude.  Remain calm.  "Our contract is expiring and we cannot afford the price increase.  We'd like to get the best deal possible, otherwise we'll have to cancel services."
3) The first guy you talk to.... let's call him the "front desk."  He barely works for the company and has no authority to change prices. He'll tell you the lowest *he* can offer which is just what shows up on his screen.  It will not meet your price point.  You - very truthfully - say "Ok we'd like to cancel our service please."
4) You get transferred to the next person... let's call her "the muscle."  She says "I'm going to do everything I can so you won't cancel.  I am on the Elite Team and can make prices drop like bottles in a bar fight."  Make her do her job and work for you.
5) Re-explain your position to her.  Tell her what a great customer you are.  Whatever bottom price she tells you, ask for an additional $10 off.  You have a good chance to get it if you say you'll agree to another 2-year contract at that price.  Make the voodoo work for yoo.
6) Kiss that introductory price you had for the last 2 years goodbye.  You are hostage to their wiley pricing ways.  But if you want a happy husband who gets to watch sports, and happy children who love the Disney channel, and you can still save for retirement, give to charity, and not go broke having cable, then by all means.... bask in the fact that you just saved $50 a month.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bye Bye Baby Years

Since he could talk to tell me what he wanted baby Roy would ask, at the end of his bath, "Mama, hold me like baby.  Let me see."  I'd wrap him in his green monkey towel (or else he'd say "me cold!"), cradle him like a baby, and we'd stand in front of the mirror until we were both satisfied with the moment.  He'd say 'That me.  That mama," or recently, "There me is.  There you are."  Or he'd close his eyes and feign sleeping, nuzzling close to my chest, proving that he was, in fact, still my baby, still cuddle-able, still holdable.

This morning was the first time that, after his big boy shower, I took him out, dried him off, and he did not demand "Mama, hold me like a baby."  I thought he just forgot, in the excitement.  Hmmm.  So I said, "Hey - Do you want me to wrap you in the towel and hold you like a baby?"  "No," he said.  "Me walk by myself."  And after a quick toweling off, he and his naked little bottom sprinted to his room to get ready.  He still needs help with that.

I shrugged it off.  Just a fluke.  Surely he didn't mean it.  He just forgot.  We were in my bathroom, instead of his where we normally are post-bath.  He was out of his element.  No biggie.  He'll ask me next time to hold him like a baby, when we're in the normal scene of the kids' bathroom, or he'll acquiesce to my request.  I'll surely get to wrap him up and hold him like a baby, post-bath, again.

But one day I won't.  One day, without even noticing, because it will have happened less and less frequently, he'll towel himself off, run to his room, dress himself all by himself by then, and it will have happened.  I will have, at some point, held him post-bath like a baby for the last time.

Time marches on.  It marches right over this mother's heart and stomps on it.  That's what it feels like.  Most days, my heart interprets it as - I want another baby.  But when I'm honest with myself and the reality of, well, reality, there are no more babies in our future.  When my heart and head accept that, I may take a day off work or at least wear all black, in mourning.

But I need and want to avoid mourning the fact that my kids aren't babies any more because they are fantastic amazing little humans no matter their age or stage.  So, here's to celebrating, today, the first of a last.  It means my little boy is growing up and becoming more of the amazing human he is.  I may not always be able to wrap him in a towel and pick him up but I certainly plan to take those moments when I can hold onto him and we can look at each other or in a mirror, hug and say - There's me, there's you, until we're satisfied with the moment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Defense of Government Workers

I've worked for government organizations or agencies for.... hmmmm.... over 10 years.  Wow.  I never knew government employment had a bad rep, until I worked for a state agency.  After all, my dad was a career Air Force officer.  He was a government employee, right?  My mom was a teacher - a government employee, right?  I had never heard anybody talk disparagingly about their jobs or their employers.  Why was it that, now that I was a state employee, I was suddenly part of a culture that believed the general public thought poorly of them.
     Government workers are known by a myriad of names.  State officials.  Public employees.  State workers.  Civil servants.  All of these names seem to have gotten a bad rap, the face of bureaucracy, of government waste, of laziness and ineffectiveness.  I have to say, for the most part, my impression of government employees has been quite the opposite.
     I like to think of government workers of what they actually are:  teachers, health professionals, bridge builders, city developers, engineers, computer programmers, police and fire safety personnel, nurses, doctors, data analysts, child protective workers, educators, social workers, judges, lawyers, grant managers, and - yes - policy makers.  The government workers I know are smart, hard-working, dedicated people who do the job they've been given with heart.  They do it because they are part of a system that, at the end of the road, is meant to make peoples' lives better.  What's more, they are incredibly - sometimes painfully, acutely - aware of the fact that they are spending taxpayer money and go to great lengths to ensure financial accountability and fiscal responsibility.  I've never seen anybody purchase a $400 hammer.  I HAVE seen government employees who make less money than they should, refuse to submit reimbursement for their travel expenses because they didn't see it as a big deal.
     I'm not saying the system is perfect.  In fact, it is far from perfect - like any system is, simply because people are involved and people are imperfect.  Layers of bureaucracy can create gridlock.  I've seen this happen but despite the frustration of that, at the heart of it is people wanting to do the right thing.... unless they are intentionally trying to cause gridlock.  That's another issue....  of the tea party variety.
      What I'm trying to say is next time you go to the library, or interact with a state-funded university, or go to a health department, or read about a police officer injured on the job, or drive on a road or bridge or highway, or use 211 or 411 or 911, or enjoy some relief after a disaster, or thank our men and women in uniform, there was a government worker doing his or her job.  With heart and for the greater good.... not to create unnecessary bureaucracy, but in spite of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Rapunzel Dress from Goodwill Clothes

I prepped for this post a little while ago.  It's late.  My camera broke, other life stuff happened, but now I have this awesome Chromebook computer to share how I made Ivy's treasured Rapunzel dress.  Yep, for Halloween, Ivy wanted to be Rapunzel.  I decided to make a dress for her that would be warmer and less commercial than a purchased Rapunzel dress.  Here's how I did it.

  • Skill level:  Easy/Beginner
  • What I used:  A sewing machine; 1 purple long-sleeve shirt (The Children's Place, found at Goodwill); 1 adult size Medium tube-top maxi dress (Old Navy, found at Goodwill).
  • Time commitment:  ~1 hour to go from A to Z:

First, I put the maxi dress on my daughter, up to her underarms.  I pinched the fabric at the seam until it seemed like it would be a comfortable fit.  Then I sewed from the top of the 'pinched' area the same width through the smocked section, and then slowly trailed it off about 1 foot down the dress (not the whole length of the dress).  Finally I cut off the excess.

Next, I laid out the maxi dress and the purple shirt together to create a vision of the final look.  I pinned the top of the smocked/blue dress to the purple shirt at ~1-inch intervals.  HINT:  It helped to line up the seam of the maxi-dress so it's in the middle of the back, because the way I cut off the excess made a nice train.
Then, I sewed (all still right sides out) the smocked dress to the purple shirt.  I used white thread and kept the seam at the very top of the smocked area, on top of another white-ish area so the thread would not stand out.  I sewed around the whole dress twice for strength.  Then I turned the dress inside out and cut off the excess purple t-shirt (the part below the smocked part that nobody would see... although you could leave it on for extra warmth.)

The last step was to cut off all the extra fabric at the base of the dress.  I had Ivy try the dress on, and just eyeball the level we liked.  Then I cut off the excess and hemmed the dress.  The maxi-dress had a lining, and I just hemmed the lining along with the dress.  The lining was not the same width, however, so it made it look a little wavy.  You  may want to hem the dress and lining separately.
Voila!  A long-sleeved, warm, thrift-store, up-cycled Rapunzel dress that my daughter loves, and still wears long after Halloween!  It's versatile enough that she occasionally wears it to school.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Top Blog Posts

According to my blog history, I started Clip Clop mama on 1/28/11.  It's almost been 2 years!  Almost 77,000 hits later (Thank you!), I may not be the most consistent or visited blogger but I still have fun.  Plus I've branched out, writing regularly for and Liberating Working Moms.  Rock on!

I thought it would be fun to look at my most-visited posts.  So here you go!  Thanks for reading, y'all!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hodgepodge Organizing Ideas for a Multi-purpose Kitchen, Dining and Mudroom Space

I don't profess to be an any kind of interior design or organization guru.  But I do try to make our house and spaces functional for us, in unique ways - on the cheap.  In 2013, I plan to do a better job at loving my house and not wishing it were different.  In that spirit, I have decided to showcase some of the hodgepodge ways I have set up our house to work for us!

This post will focus on our kitchen/dinette area.  It's one big room, that has to meet the following purposes:  entry from the garage, storage of all kitchen stuff, cooking/dishes/fridge, eating, laundry room, and shoe/coat/mudroom for me, hubs, Ivy (4) and baby Roy (2).  All.In.One.Big.Room.  Argh!  Here are some of the things I've done to 'make it work':
1.  We do something funky every year with our Christmas cards.  I got a lot of flack the year I hung them on the window blinds!  This year we taped them all around our dinnette area wall and back door.  I love it and plan to leave it up until they start falling down!

2.  On the back door to the garage, we have magnetic 'cups' designed for school lockers (Target).... but we use them for extra keys, chalk, pens, and clips.  I got the dragonfly hook at a garden store.  We've added a few kid touches!  The dry/erase marker is for a d/e board hung on the wall beside the door.
3. I love this little hook I've had forever given to me by my aunt, and affixed it to the cabinet by the back door for hanging our car keys.
4.  [Not pictured]  Right when you walk in the back door, we have a large wooden book shelf that we use for extra storage.  Three large blue bins hold 'extra stuff' (like flash lights, twine, tape, etc.), onions/potatoes, and kid stuff (like the ballet bag).  We also use it to store our wine, paper towels, mail, and my purse.  Who needs new cabinets when you can use a $20 bookshelf?

5.  In total hodgepodge fashion, I took an old curtain rod and affixed it over the sink so I could hang a plant the kids gave me one mother's day, and some other special things - like a bouquet of flowers Ivy picked for me in the spring, and some dried roses a friend gave us.
6.  We don't have a mudroom and have devised a solution of hanging coats currently in use on the *outside* of the coat closet using an over-the-door hanger, with a little space on top for gloves and hats.  It's not the prettiest thing, but it's very functional, it gets used, and coats are not on the floor.
7.  This is our daycare/calendar 'command center'.  We use Google Calendar for the family calendar, but this calendar has family pictures (I made it using MyMemories) and helps us know what day it is :).  I affixed Command hooks to our 1940's era hutch, and the kids can hang their own lighter jackets and scarves up.  You can kind of see the little green storage ottomans too, where the kids can throw their shoes and hats inside.  Out of sight, but still accessible so the kids can get things themselves!

Stay tuned for the next installment when I focus on the play room.  The highlighted hodge podge continues!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My 20 '13 Resolutions

Will my resolutions stick?
Maybe you already caught some of my resolutions on Liberating Working Moms.  If you didn't, you should!  The other moms' resolutions are very interesting.  I made a longer list and thought I'd share.  Maybe by sharing I'll actually do some.  I realize not all are in 'resolution' type style.  Some are just things I want to do that will add little to no value to my life.  That's ok.
  1. Share more music with the kids.  Music I like and have liked.  I've lost touch with my music.  Let's start digging out my old CDs and playing them in the car.  Mr. Jones and me...
  2. Exercise 30 minutes 3 times per week.  This sounds do-able, except when I actually try to do it.  Yawn... boring!
  3. Love people more.  Purposefully and intentionally, try to actively love.  Actively empathize.  Treat them how they want to be treated.  Love them even if they won't love me back.  Love people without wanting or expecting anything in return.  Ruminate about what it really means to love people.
  4. Add new main-dish veggie dishes to my cooking repertoire.  A real challenge!  Also, stay vegetarian.
  5. Pursue more paid writing outlets.  Take at least 1 step towards branching into print material?  That may be a stretch.  But I do have the neverending book brewing in the back of my mind.... it changes purpose and title and theme and plot... but it's brewing I think.
  6. Limit social media.  Try to check Facebook only once per day.  It has added value to my life....  in ways that deserve another blog post unto themselves.... but it sucks time and more often than not makes me feel worse rather than better.
  7. Refresh my journaling for the kids.  I've kept a hand-written journal for them since they were born.  I need to routinely write to them, even if it's 1 page once a week.  It's a gift to us all.
  8. Bring lunch to work at least 4 out of 5 days.  Forgive myself if I slip up some times.  The salad bar at the cafeteria next door is really good.
  9. Call my parents more than once a week.  I love them and miss them very much.  They rock.
  10. Revisit date night.  Be ok with planning the whole thing myself.  Forgive my husband if he doesn't even think of doing that.  Enjoy the night regardless of who planned it or if anybody has a bad attitude.  Don't go to a movie.  It just pisses us off.... all the cell phones.
  11. Do something bold with my blog.  I'm thinking....  a daily tribute to a Facebook friend chosen at random.  It'd be like hosting my own social media funeral in reverse....  violating #6 but living #3.  A contradiction in resolutions!  I love it.  Another bold idea:  some kind of project to help others tell a story.  I love story telling, especially as it relates to challenging life issues.  [I'm open to ideas!]
  12. Find a church I actually like and want to go to regularly, or come up with a plan to 'home school' our kids on religious issues.  Seek guidance on this from smarter people than I on this subject.
  13. Let my hair grow.  Don't cut it.  Dye it.  Resist the urge to cut it.  Repeat to myself:  I want long hair again.  I never should have cut it.  Don't tame the mane.  Go wild, my inner free spirit child, go wild.  
  14. Don't garden.  Maybe a little, but don't spend more than like $25 on gardening crap.  I'm bad at gardening.  Other people are good at it.  Go buy food from them and hope the grocery-market apocalypse doesn't come so I am not forced to garden for survival.
  15. Don't stop trying to be bold and brave in the blogosphere just because I'm a government employee now.  Free speech and all.
  16. Cuss more.  It feels good.  Not in front of the kids.
  17. Be kind randomly more often, to more people.  I know this is kind of a fad right now.... but I don't care.  I want to do this.  It feels good and makes me happy and the other person happy.
  18. Don't allow people's comments to get to me. Believe the best about people.  Perhaps they did not mean it that way.  That said, I still need to defend myself, my kids and my family when appropriate.
  19. Knock a big hole in the wall between our kitchen and living room.  [May have to save 'repair the wall' for my 2014 resolutions.]
  20. Embrace that I am in the "over 35" category now.  Don't be sad.  Be glad.  I'm happier now than I've probably ever been.  98% of days.