The Time Lottery

I won the lottery!

No, not the billion dollar Powerball (though not for lack of trying), but it could quite possibly feel very similar to finding that mythical matching ticket.  I feel light. I have a bounce to my step, and I’m smiling a Mona Lisa-style grin that has other people wondering at my secret. 

Luckily for you, I’ve decided to share because I am so excited, I can’t keep it in any longer…

I have won a minimum of 52 hours a year…FOR. LIFE!

As of this weekend, I have more time than I thought I had when the week started, and if all goes well, this will be the start of a trend that will last as long as I do. 

I have discovered that my friendly neighborhood Kroger offers ClickList!

  
Yes! 

Finally, someone has created a grocery shopping alternative for the busy (and not-so-busy) mommas (and probably some daddies) who have a strong dislike for (aka hate with a burning passion) having to spend precious hours pushing a heavy cart through crowded aisles week after endless week when they’d rather be at home trolling the Internet for shoe sales. 

I just add items to my cart on the big K’s website or app, select a pick up time, click submit and go back to Zappos.com. Meanwhile, a Kroger worker bee fills a real cart with the items in my virtual cart.  I go to the Young One’s soccer game, cheer like a good momma should, and stop at Kroger on the way home like I do any other weekend. 

GroceriesInstead of going into the craziness of the store though, I now drive around to a designated spot, hand over my credit card (yeah, that part doesn’t go away), and supervise another worker bee who loads my wholesome goodness into the back of my car. 

Then I head home…at least an hour earlier than I did before. Yes, I still have to lug it all into the house and put it away, but afterward, I have extra time to read with the Young One, kill some zombies with the Hubs, talk with the Older One or spend some quality time with the blog. 

*sigh*

*smile*

I am a happy momma…a happy momma with more of the most valuable thing there is–time. 

**Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the very appropriate word “time”. 

Sunshine for ’16

The sun broke through the clouds today.

Since Christmas Eve Eve (aka December 23, in case you’re wondering if that was a typo), my little spot on the weather map has been decorated with a constant theme of clouds, fog and rain drops. But today, the first day of a brand new year, I woke up to sun streaming through the slats of my bedroom window blinds.

Coincidence?

Probably…but still…that bright sunshine has me wondering what’s in the forecast for 2016, and of course that leads to thoughts of resolutions and how I might influence the number of sunny days ahead.

I have two resolutions swirling to the front of the list this year. The first is following through on a commitment I made to the Young One last year. Early in the year, we talked about working on a pretty big project together. It’s something we both want to do, and something I think we could both be very good at, but it’s not just any project. It’s a write-it-in-all-caps kinda project–as in a B-I-G project.

It is so BIG, that I never quite had enough courage time to get to it in 2015. Whenever the Young One would ask when we were going to start it, I was always ready with some other task that needed to be completed first.

“When are we gonna do that thing we talked about, Momma,” she started asking sometime around Ground Hog Day.

My response was always a variation of the same theme…

“After we get the house ready to sell.”

“After your birthday party.”

“After your brother’s graduation.”

“After we move.”

Around Labor Day, she stopped asking about it. I didn’t stop thinking about it, however, and I’m happy to say that today is officially after “after”. As of 10:17 a.m. on January 1, 2016, Project Mighty Mo is officially underway. Every BIG project deserves a code name, right?  I may be ready to do it, but I’m not ready to share details, so for the time-being, I’ll be talking in code.

With that resolution launched and sufficiently shrouded in secrecy, I’m prepping for the start of my second one. I’m putting it off until Monday, though, which while it may seem like procrastination, really isn’t. It’s just dependent on the start of the workweek.

While Project Mighty Mo will most likely bring about a good dose of happiness, I am realistic enough to know my shoe shopping habit needs more than what a code-named (aka unfunded) project can sustain.  So with the need to make some money firmly in place, Resolution #2 is the pursuit of professional happiness. That thing that gets me up in the morning and gives me a twinge of sorrow when I leave the office Friday afternoon has been in noticeably small supply lately.

I like where I work, just not necessarily what i do on a daily basis. It’s nothing illegal or immoral, but it’s not professionally fulfilling either. Nothing says, “I don’t wanna go to work,” like the prospect of another day spent wishing I had something exciting to do.

I’m hoping the two mentors I was paired with in December can help me add a little bit of clarity to my response to the ever-intriguing question, “What do you see yourself doing in five years?” Honestly, I’ll feel successful at project “Happy Momma” if I can figure out what I can see myself doing in five months.

If the streams of sunlight are any indication, 2016 is off to a nice start. Hopefully that and a few code-named resolutions are enough to make it the best year yet.

 

 

 

The Twelve Day of Christmas Shopping

I consider myself a semi-professional shopper. My day job keeps me from attaining full professional status, unfortunately.

I live for a day at the mall and a spur-of-the-moment outlet shopping spree, but I really dislike what traditional Christmas shopping has become…too many people, lines that take forever to get to the front of, and doors that open well before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

Christmas Shopping

Picture Source: Eric Mueller (cc by 2.0)

So today, while I monitor my email for the best Cyber Monday deals, I’ve decided to pen a little tribute this most wonderful time of the year….

On the first day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
A newspaper full of great deals.

On the second day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the third day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the fourth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the fifth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the sixth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the seventh day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the eighth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Eight crowds amassing,
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the ninth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Nine shoppers fighting,
Eight crowds amassing,
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the tenth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Ten blisters swelling,
Nine shoppers fighting,
Eight crowds amassing,
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the eleventh day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Eleven mommas swearing,
Ten blisters swelling,
Nine shoppers fighting,
Eight crowds amassing,
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals.

On the twelfth day of Christmas shopping,
My true love gave to me
Twelve wrappers wrapping,
Eleven mommas swearing,
Ten blisters swelling,
Nine shoppers fighting,
Eight crowds amassing,
Seven cards a-maxing,
Six doors a-busting,
Five promo codes,
Four shopping carts,
Three-hour checkouts,
Two per person limits
And a newspaper full of great deals!!!!

Football Momma

My daughter plays football with the boys at recess. 

She joins her father in front of the television for College Game Day on Saturday and cheers for her favorite NFL team on Sunday. (She prefers the Bengals to the Steelers, but he firmly believes that is a phase she will eventually grow out of when she has a better understanding of the game.)

At a post-Thanksgiving get-together with friends, she was one of the first to hit the backyard for a game of touch football. The Hubs sent up a rousing cheer when she ran the ball in for a touchdown. I grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures while I contemplated if I had enough time to run back home for my “real” camera. 

  
My daughter’s wish list to Santa reads like this:

  • A football
  • A helmet
  • A jersey (preferably one baring A.J. Green’s number 18)
  • Football pants
  • Shoulder pads

I spent 15 years watching my son play football, and when I watched him play his last down (Army/Navy 2013), I thought my days of cheering a child on the gridiron were over. Apparently not. 

 Once a Football Momma, always a Football Momma!

Table Rules

A few years ago, I set a new family rule. (As chief operating officer of Chez Moi, I have the authority to do that.) After spending yet another afternoon in the kitchen preparing a hearty Sunday dinner, then another hour after the last of the mashed potatoes had been consumed washing all the pots and pans, I decided it was time for a change.

table-600x600I was pretty much over watching the rest of the family hang out in front of the television or otherwise enjoying themselves while I continued to work and be separate from everyone else. So, I made a declaration.

“New rule,” I announced as the Hubs and the Older One waited for me to clear the table. “The person who cooks the meal, does not have to clear the table or clean up afterward.”

I knew there was potential for this to backfire on me. The Hubs could have said he would take over cooking detail, meaning we would be doomed to meal after meal of hamburger helper. They could have both decided the dishes didn’t need to be washed after every meal and left me to wade through mountains of dirty cutlery until I gave in and just did it myself.

Fortunately, things turned out in my favor. I remained the chef, and they cleaned the aftermath in the kitchen remarkably well.

Now, a decade later, we operate like a well-oiled machine. I still do the cooking, and when he visits, the Older One pitches in on the task. (He’s become quite a competent sous chef.) The Young One, who never knew a day when the rule wasn’t in effect, clears the table. The Hubs washes, and the MIL dries.

I just sit back and take it all in because, after all, my favorite part of the family meal is the family.

***Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “table”.

The Best Thanksgiving Ever

As I am about to set the table for this year’s big feast, I am once again reminded of the one Thanksgiving that sticks out in my memory as significant. The Hubs and I dust off the story every year, and the telling of it is usually preceded by one of us asking the other, “Do you remember our worst Thanksgiving ever?”

I even recounted every detail in a blog post last year entitled…yep, “The Worst Thanksgiving Ever!” After I hit publish, I told him what I’d done, and we relived each minute of that day again. And then, like every year since, we laugh and go back to “the best part”, and laugh again.

So now, as I’m getting ready to re-publish the story, I’m wondering if it was really the worst Thanksgiving ever, why do we revisit it every year? Why do we tell the story over and over again if it was so horrible? Why do we laugh the whole way through the retelling? Why do we clink our glasses together in celebration if it doesn’t rank up there as one of the best memories of our marriage?

I think it’s time for a title change…

***********************************

The Worst Best Thanksgiving Ever

Every Thanksgiving as we sit around the table enjoying the turkey and all the trimmings, the Hubs and I reflect on the day. One of us will inevitably say, “Well, at least it wasn’t the worst Thanksgiving ever.” Then we’ll chuckle and smile and share the story all over again.

Thanksgiving

This is NOT the perfect turkey I expected to find on my first Thanksgiving without family. (Photo source: Flickr, Sharon Mollerus, cc-by-2.0)

The Hubs was stationed with the Second Armor Division at Fort Hood, TX, that year. We had celebrated our first wedding anniversary in September, and the Older One was just three months old. This was our first Thanksgiving without family…at least without immediate blood relations.  The Army was our family now, so when the Hubs’ captain extended the invitation to join his wife and their two small children for a Thanksgiving lunch, we accepted.

We were just getting ready to leave our little apartment for the meal, when the phone rang.  I listened as the Hubs said a few “Yes, Sirs” into the phone. After hanging up, he told me our plans had changed. We would not be having a Thanksgiving lunch after all.

The captain’s wife had taken the turkey out of the freezer the night before, he said, and was baffled that the bird was still frozen when she got up that morning to start preparing it for our feast. The new plan called for football at the captain’s house while the turkey roasted, and instead of an early lunch, we’d eat mid-afternoon.

Mid-afternoon came and went. By 2:00, the bird was still frosty and hadn’t yet seen the inside of the oven.

The captain and the Hubs’ made a quick trip into post to visit with the enlisted soldiers during their holiday meal while the wife and I made small talk and snacked on half a box of stale crackers and overly sweet wine coolers. My baby napped, and I mentally calculated if I’d brought enough formula and diapers to get us through dinner…that is if we ever had dinner.

Around 4:00, the turkey finally made it into the oven. The Hubs and the captain returned, and we all waited.

Finally, at 7:00, the captain made the first slice into our Thanksgiving turkey only to find that the meat inside was raw. By then, the side dishes were growing cold, and we were all too frustrated to wait on the bird. The captain carved up a few of the cooked pieces and served the cranky kids while his wife finished off the raw pieces in the microwave.

The Hubs and I juggled our sleepy baby between us while we gnawed the rubbery poultry, and as soon as was socially acceptable, we made our escape.

We had survived the worst Thanksgiving ever and lived to tell the tale…over and over and over again for more than 20 years.  And over and over again we laugh at the mistake that set off that worst of the worst—a frozen turkey that someone didn’t know enough to take out of the freezer well in advance of the big day.

That someone was a young wife and mother, not much older than I was at the time. I imagine she was excited about the prospect of hosting her first Thanksgiving and about offering her hospitality to a young couple alone for the holiday.

She probably went to the commissary the day before full of anticipation about the recipes she would share with me. She probably spent more time than necessary selecting the perfect produce and agonized over how big that infamous bird should be. I imagine she was horrified the next morning to find it still as solid as it was the night before.

I’m pretty sure the reason we were not notified of the schedule change until it was too late for us to change our plans is because our hostess was busy praying to the culinary gods for some kind of Thanksgiving miracle to save the perfect day she had planned.

In her shoes, I would have been mortified to confess my cooking inadequacies to my guests. I would have repeatedly excused myself from the tense conversation with the lieutenant’s wife to check on the turkey, knowing I really just wanted to hide in the kitchen and cry.

I sincerely hope that captain’s wife looks back on that Thanksgiving and laughs like the Hubs and I do.  We may call it “Our Worst Thanksgiving Ever”, but if the worst thing that happens on Thanksgiving is a frozen turkey, I’d say we had it pretty good.

We had nowhere else to go, and no one to spend the holiday with until virtual strangers opened their home to us. That may actually be the best thing that has ever happened to us on Thanksgiving. We may not have had a perfectly prepared meal all those years ago, but we had a place to go for the holiday, and for that I am thankful.

Hopefully, that Thanksgiving didn’t prevent the captain’s wife from trying again the next year. I hope right now, she is preparing for this year’s feast with her grown children and maybe even some colleagues her husband met at the office.

I also hope she has remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer!

Picture It: Zombies

I killed 15 zombies last night.

Zombies Ahead

This has become a favorite pastime, and it’s not unusual to find the entire family joining forces to take out herds of the undead.

Zombies 5

It has become nightly entertainment with each of us trying to beat the body count of the others. The Hubs, of course, is leading in that effort.  He went on several solo missions when the Young One and I headed north to visit her grandparents. When we came home three days later, he eagerly showed us the carnage he had wrought. His best effort yielded 25 walkers.

Now, the Young One and I are trying to catch up.  Turns out she’s pretty handy with a cross bow, and I’m definitely the one you want with you in the tunnel. Still…even on my best night I’ve only been able to take out 16.

Oh, wait…did I forget to mention, I’m talking about pinball? There really is no zombie infestation in western OH.

Zombies 3

Some people buy appliances when they move into a new home. We opted for a Walking Dead pinball machine instead.

Zombies 6

It comes complete with growling walkers, a prison under siege and a tunnel to *gulp* Terminus.

Zombies 4

I was skeptical about the purchase until I actually played a few rounds. I have to admit nothing gets the adrenaline flowing quite like the computerized zombie hunting guide exclaiming, “Dude! His head just exploded!”

Everyone is invited to help thin the zombie herd. However, there’s just one rule when you step up to the newest toy in the house. Whatever you do…

Zombies 2

A Handful of Thankfuls

Thanksgiving week is finally here! The turkey is thawing in the fridge. The menu is planned. The wine is chilling, and the pantry is fully stocked. Aside from actually roasting the bird and baking the pies, I think I’m ready for the big day.

The only thing left to do is actually take some time to reflect on those things that rise to the top of my “Forever Thankful For” list. I could throw down a top 100 list like I did last year, but the 2.0 version probably wouldn’t be that much different from the original. So this year, I’m going to keep my thankfuls to a handful of things I couldn’t do without.

I am Forever Thankful For:

My Family. So many things changed for me over the past six months, but the most important thing has stayed the same. The Hubs is still right by my side. My kids still keep me smiling. My pups still make me laugh. My parents still support me in whatever endeavor I pursue, and my MIL still fills in when she’s needed. It’s this unconditional love that reminds me where we put our roots doesn’t matter nearly as much as who our roots are connected to.

My Job. Even though I had to move my home this year, I didn’t have to move my job. Moving and starting a new job both make the list of most stressful life events. As the trailing spouse, I’ve had to do both at the same on several occasions. Doubling up on top stressers again is really not on my bucket list, so I am grateful to have an employer that embraces a virtual and flexible workforce.

My GPS. Siri and I have a classic love/hate relationship, but I honestly don’t know how I did the moving-to-a-new-city thing without my favorite computerized girl giving me turn by turn directions.

My Pinterest Boards. Without this social media marvel to keep me organized and inspired, the Young One would not have had a rock star birthday or a Hermione Halloween costume. My St. Patrick’s Day party might have featured green beer instead of craft beer, and I might have lost that link to “Moving Day Made Easy”. I frequently called on Pinterest this year to help make everything seem effortless. It’s always nice to have someone else do the hard parts for you.

My Blog. I pushed it aside for several months, but I have come to realize over the past 23 days that blogging turns a light on. Sometimes, it is a huge spotlight that puts an event on display and gives me a reason to write, but sometimes it’s just a bare light bulb popping on over my head. Those are the moments–when inspiration strikes during an otherwise mundane email check or a routine Brownie Scout meeting–that make me drop everything, change the schedule and type with a frenzy and a smile on my face. The light bulb moments are the ones that keep me coming back to the blog, and the blog is what keeps the light bulb moments coming back to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!