Grandparents Day Printables

FREE Grandparents Day printables--Print them, fill them out and send them in the mail for a fun surprise!

Happy weekend everyone!  And speaking of weekends, did you know this Sunday commemorates two very important days?

The first is on Sunday in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  I remember that day.  I was sitting in my first period English class and we were about twenty minutes into class when we received a school wide announcement to please stop what we were doing and turn on the TV.  What we saw next seems unbelievable and even thinking about it now, 15 years later, my chest feels tight and unwanted images come to my mind.  The rest of the day was a blur.  Teachers tried to give their lessons but even they gave up partway through and turned on the TV.  No one could believe what they had seen and heard and yet, it was all unmistakably and tragically true.  I hope you will each take a moment this weekend to remember the lives that were lost that day when loved ones didn’t make it home.

Sunday is also Grandparents Day.  Don’t worry, I didn’t know either until I looked at my calendar last month while planning out my post for September.  But what a great reason to celebrate!  My parents and my in-laws are all wonderful grandparents to my kids.  They are loving, supportive and each one is wrapped around their grandkids’ fingers. *wink*  If your kids don’t have any living grandparents, you could take the time to talk to them about their grandparents and share stories and pictures or even visit their graves if you live close enough.

My dad and step-mom with all their grandkids (mine are the sassy girl in pink and the little blonde boy on the right)

My grandma and my kids’ great-grandma

My mom and my kids

My in-laws with my son

To help you celebrate this fun day, I’ve created a FREE printable for you and your child to fill out and give to each grandparent, as well as some space at the bottom to draw a picture.  If your kids don’t see them often, fill it out and send it through the mail.  I’m sure that would make their day!

To access the printables, click on the link below the image.  Enjoy!

FREE Grandparents Day printables--Print them, fill them out and send them in the mail for a fun surprise!

FREE Grandparents Day printables--Print them, fill them out and send them in the mail for a fun surprise!

What are you favorite memories with your grandparents?

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

6 months into 2016.  The time has been absolutely flying for me, especially now that we are into summer and have so many activities going on.  When I was looking at my plans for my posts this week, I couldn’t believe that it was already time to review my new years resolutions and evaluate my progress.

And I have to say that sharing my goals and progress with you every three months has been interesting.  Part of me really likes the accountability, but the other part of me feels like I’m letting you down when I don’t accomplish my goals or work on them like I know I should (even though they are all personal goals).

So without further adieu, here’s my progress:
Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: Being charitable is such a hard thing to measure, especially without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn.  However, I can say that there have been some wonderful opportunities to serve others and give of myself over the last few months that I am grateful for.  When I have an attitude of charity and a willingness to give of my time or talents, I feel better about life.
Room for Improvement: There is always room for improvement in this area.  I hope that I can work towards keeping other people’s needs in my mind and look for ways to serve them.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: As mentioned in my last review, I started attending a weekly dance class last fall and have been going each week.  Recently the class ended and won’t resume until the fall.  I have felt very proud of myself for going, even on nights when I didn’t want to or had a million other things to do.  When I dance, I feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Room for Improvement: Since the class ended, I haven’t been attending any other fitness classes or established a routine for myself at home.  However, I’ve been out on walk with my kids, gone hiking, played in the yard, etc.  So I feel that while I could do more, I’m not doing too bad.

Challenge yourself, change yourself.

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: My one-on-one time with my daughter has increased a little since she finished preschool, but my one-on-one time with my son has decreased a little because we used to do things together while big sister was at preschool.
Room for Improvement: This summer, I’m trying to plan activities better with my kids and husband so we can each have time together to build our relationships.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: Sadly, I don’t think I’ve made any progress on this since last time I wrote.  I was getting into a routine with my days and nights, but got a little thrown off and just haven’t picked it back up.
Room for Improvement: Lots of room to improve here!  I know I need to do this, but sometimes other things take over and this gets pushed to the back burner.  I know myself and if I can establish a routine and incorporate this, I will be better at it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: I’ve been working on this one more.  Mostly it’s been by stopping and taking time to give my kids a hug and say “I love you” or “thank you for {fill in the blank}”.  I’ve noticed that my daughter absolutely flourishes under compliments and her overall behavior and attitude improves when she is receiving them regularly.
Room for Improvement: I think there is always room to grow in this area.  The key is just being aware of others and telling them how I feel in the moment.  Thinking a kind thought and saying it right away.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: With the coming of spring and summer, this has been easier for me.  I am not someone who does well with cloudy, rainy/snowy, cold weather.  I love the sunshine and warmth.  Even my husband says I’m a happier person in the warm months.  I’ve had some bad days of course, but I feel so much lighter when I have a positive, happy attitude about life, even when it’s not going exactly how I’d like.
Room for Improvement: Definitely.  On days when I’m feeling sad or frustrated, I seem to have a harder time shaking it off than I used to as a kid/teenager/young adult.  Sometimes I want to feel frustrated or mad, but all this does is make me impatient and unhappy.  I want to snap out of my funks easier and I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.

How are you doing on your goals?  Do you feel good about the progress you’ve made, no matter how small?  Have you made new goals partway through this year?  I’d love to hear about how you’re doing!

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget--lots of great ideas that will fit any budget

Tomorrow my husband and I will be celebrating our EIGHT year anniversary!  It’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone and all that’s happened in that time: college graduation (2 Undergraduate degrees and one Masters degree), bought our first home, had 2 kids, job changes and many other experiences and memories.  I always look forward to celebrating our anniversary because I love remembering and celebrating the day we were married.

I remember for our one year anniversary we decided to go on a cruise.  We were still in college so we saved up and bought a Mexican Riviera cruise.  I had been on a cruise in high school and my husband had never been on on so we were really excited.  As luck would have it, the swine flu broke out a week before we were supposed to leave and all cruises to Mexico were cancelled.  Unable to get a refund, we decided to go on the California Coast cruise that was being offered instead.  It was kind of a letdown to be honest and we haven’t been on any big anniversary celebrations since then due to life happening.  Since then, we’ve done various activities for our anniversary each year ranging from dinner and a movie to an overnight stay in a 5-star hotel.

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget--lots of great ideas that will fit any budget
Our Wedding Day (2008)

Since our anniversary falls on a weekday this year, we are waiting until the weekend to officially celebrate our special day.  We decided to drive into the city and go to dinner and spend the night in a hotel while my mom watches our kids.  My husband and I are pretty frugal when it comes to vacations, no matter how big or small, so we are always on the lookout for a good deal.  This got me thinking and I realized that there are probably a lot of couples in the same boat as us.  You want to do something special, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
I’ve created a list of ideas that I think would be fun for an anniversary date/weekend.  (I would estimate the cost ranging from $0-$300, depending on which option you choose and where you live, as well as your personal budget.)

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget--lots of great ideas that will fit any budget

Picnic at Home–Grab a blanket and head outside!  Or stay inside if that’s your preference.  Either way, a picnic is a fun, low-key and inexpensive way to celebrate your anniversary.  (Check out this list for 97 of the Best Picnic Ideas.)

Walk Down Memory Lane–If you live nearby some of the places where you and your spouse have special memories, go back and visit them.  Take pictures, recreate the moments and remember the excitement of falling in love.  Visit your old stomping grounds.  Go to the parking lot where you used to make out (you know you did it).  Another idea would be to attend an event together that you attended when you were dating, such as a college football game or a play.

Favorite Restaurant–This could be as inexpensive or pricey as you want it to be.  For my husband and I, we love going to TGI Friday’s because they have some of our favorite food and lots of good memories.  Plus, we rarely go there so it’s a treat for us.  If you want to dress up, go somewhere nice and enjoy being fancy for the night.

Movie Night–A movie night can be as simple or as extravagant as you have a budget for it.  You could rent a Redbox movie or even rent a movie from On Demand or another similar service if you don’t want to leave home.  If you decide to go out to the theater, going to a matinee is less than going in the evening.  Bring a few snacks in your bag so you don’t have to spend money on the food from the concession stand.  Some places have drive-in movies so check around and see if you have one locally.

Order Take Out–If you don’t have the luxury of leaving home (because of your kids or any other reason), you could order take out from a favorite restaurant and bring it home.  You could easily couple this with having a picnic at home if you don’t want to prepare the food yourself.  Or you could go for a drive up the canyon, to a park, to the beach or any other place that you enjoy.

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget--lots of great ideas that will fit any budget
Park City (2015)

Visit Touristy Places Off Season–Last year, my husband and I stayed at a hotel near a local ski resort.  Since it was May, there weren’t many people around and we were able to enjoy the scenery and visit little shops and eat at restaurants without the crowd.  Our hotel was much less expensive as well.

Celebrate Early/Late–Going along with my previous suggestion of visiting places off season, you could opt to celebrate your anniversary early or late to take advantage of that.  In addition, if you like the beach but got married in the winter, maybe you could celebrate in the summer and go when it’s nice and warm.  Same thing goes for an activity like skiing.  I don’t think it always matters when you celebrate as long as you do.

Use Coupons and/or Gift Certificates–I am all about getting discounts.  Why pay more for something if you can save a little money?  I don’t think it cheapens the experience at all but rather makes it more enjoyable because you’re not spending more than you want or need to.  One year for our anniversary, my husband and I got couples massages at a huge discount using Groupon.  We were able to do something we wouldn’t normally do at a fraction of the cost.  My sister told me the other day that when anniversaries or birthdays come up, they always check their gift cards to see what they have so they know what they can afford to do.

Stay-cation–More than anything else we’ve done to celebrate our anniversary is to go on a ‘stay-cation’.  We find a hotel nearby and stay overnight while a relative watches our kids at home.  Just getting away from home and going somewhere new can be so relaxing and rejuvenating.  You don’t make your bed?  Someone else will.  You want a late night snack?  Someone will bring one to your door.  Also, going on a weekday versus a weekend will always save you money at a hotel.  You can still stay somewhere nice without having to pay premium pricing.

How To Celebrate Your Anniversary On A Tight Budget--lots of great ideas that will fit any budget

Camping–I’m throwing this idea out there for those of you who like camping.  I’m not in this category, but I know a lot of people who are.  If you are one of them, this could be just the thing for you to do to celebrate your anniversary.  Whether you camp in a tent or rent/borrow a camper, camping is definitely one of the least expensive ways to get away.

Have Friends/Relatives Take Your Kids Overnight–If spending money on a hotel isn’t something you can afford, see if friends or relatives would be willing to take your kids for the night while you stay at home.  Enjoy a full night’s rest without wondering which child will have you up at 2am.  Combine this with another stay at home activity listed above and you’ve got a great anniversary planned!

I’ve only listed a few of the ideas that I came up with.  If you want a few more suggestions, visit The Dating Divas website.  The whole purpose of their website is to provide ideas to keep the flame burning between husband and wife.  I found a link to 75 Dates to Celebrate Your Anniversary ranging from tame and simple to hot and spicy.  They’ve got something for everyone.

I hope you find a great way to celebrate your anniversary together!

What have been your favorite ‘on-a-budget’ dates or anniversary celebrations?

New Years Resolutions Check Up

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Can you believe we are already three months into the new year?  Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter have all come and gone.  Spring is here.  Time seems to go by more quickly every year and sometimes I just want to yell for it to STOP !  Do you feel the same?

At the end of last year, I shared some of the goals I had set for myself for this coming year.  Then, at the beginning of the year, I gave some tips for improving success in reaching those goals.  Now that we are 3 months into the new year, I wanted to do a little check up on how those goals are going for me.  Maybe it will help you reflect on your own goals as well.

Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: This goal isn’t as easy to show progress on.  I feel like I’ve had situations or even days where I’m able to view people with more love and charity.  But I also know there are times when charity hasn’t been a part of my reaction to someone or something.
Room for Improvement: In my original post, I shared a quote that inspired me to make this a more consistent part of my life.  The very end says, “Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  To improve on this goal, I need to remember this overarching statement and not get too caught up in specifics.  If you are expecting the best of someone, your perspective will change too.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: Starting in the fall of last year, I started going to a weekly dance class.  I’ve continued going to this class on a weekly basis, but haven’t increased my exercise.
Room for Improvement: So technically, I am exercising regularly, but I feel like I could increase my exercise to at least a couple of times a week.  This should be a little easier to do now that the weather is improving and I can go on more walks with my kids around the neighborhood.

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: I don’t feel much progress has been made on this goal.  I do get one-on-one time with each member of my family, but it’s usually doing things that have to be done, such as reading lessons with my daughter, running errands with my son or folding laundry with my husband.  They aren’t things that necessarily build our relationship.
Room for Improvement: When I originally made this goal, it was with the intent to set up specific activities with each person that would help us grow closer.  I think in order to make this work better, I need to plan out a time each week to do something with each person, even if it’s just painting fingernails and toenails with my daughter.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: I didn’t start working on this goal until recently.  I’ve been trying to be realistic about how often I can actually write in my journal.  I found a cute, new journal and set it next to my bed so that I can write a summary of how the day went.
Room for Improvement: I started out strong, but have slowly tapered off.  I think to make this work better, I will need to create an evening routine that allows enough time to reflect on the day and write about it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: This is another hard one to qualify, but I think it’s safe to say that there is always room for improvement in this area.
Room for Improvement: In order to incorporate this more into my life and way of being, I need to be specific about what I love and appreciate about a person.  I can tell my daughter thank you for putting away her clothes without being asked.  I can tell my son that I love when he shares his toys.  I can tell my husband thank you for doing the dishes every night.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: Due to some difficult things I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, this particular goal has been a real challenge for me.  I’ve had some very sad days.  The kind of days that finding the desire to be happy can only be reached with real effort.
Room for Improvement: Because of some of the things I’ve been facing, I almost feel afraid to be too happy sometimes.  However, I am going to renew my goal to choose happiness because there is always something good to be seen.

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

4 Reasons Why Your New Years Resolutions Are Going to Fail (and how to make sure that doesn’t happen)

4 Reasons Why Your New Years Resolutions Are Going to Fail (and how to make sure that doens't happen)

At the end of last year, I shared a few of my New Year’s Resolutions with you.  Changes I wanted to make in my life over the next year.  Some are goals with a deadline.  Others are characteristics I want to develop over my lifetime.  I have self improvement goals, relationship goals, academic goals, spiritual goals, physical goals, and so on.

I was doing a little research and found a recent study giving the statistics of the length of time a person maintains any given resolution.  (My nerd is starting to show, isn’t it?)  The study said that only 75% of resolutions are maintained through the first week, 71% past two weeks, 64% past one month and 46% past six months.

So here we are.  Three weeks into 2016.  How many of your resolutions made it past the two week mark?  All?  Some?  None?  Don’t beat yourself up if it’s less than what you’d like it to be.  I think it’s human nature to have the best of intentions when it comes to setting goals.  So why aren’t we able to achieve the goals we set?  I think it comes down to four reasons:

4 Reasons Why Your New Years Resolutions Are Going to Fail (and how to make sure that doens't happen)Failure to make a plan  Winston Churchill said that “he who fails to plan is planning to fail”.  Certain goals require us to build our skills or endurance.  If you have a goal to lose weight, for example, you would need to create a plan that would include a goal weight, an exercise program, diet changes, etc.  When you focus on the specifics and lay it all out for yourself, you are more likely to follow it because you know exactly what you need to do in order to accomplish your goal.

Failure to prioritize  One year, I was feeling really ambitious and set way too many goals for myself.  With so much to try and focus on, I couldn’t focus on anything and I became overwhelmed.  Ultimately, I looked at my list of goals and chose the ones that were the most important to me.  If you’ve run into this problem, review your list and see if you can’t narrow it down a little.

Failure to make yourself accountable  One of the best ways to fail at accomplishing a goal is to keep it to yourself.  On the flip side, one of the best ways to increase your likelihood of success is to tell others about it.  This makes you more accountable because at least one other person knows what you are trying to do and they can offer their support.  So choose someone you know will uplift you and support you in your goals.  The person might depend on the goal your trying to reach.  If you’re training for a marathon, telling someone whose done it before will be able to empathize with you when you’re having a bad day and celebrate with you as you grow and improve.

4 Reasons Why Your New Years Resolutions Are Going to Fail (and how to make sure that doens't happen)

Failure to set a deadline/make goals measurable  When we set deadlines for ourselves, accompanied with a plan for success, our goals suddenly become so much more attainable.  It also helps us see the progress we are making along the way and gives us encouragement to continue.  At first glance, some goals might not seem like they can have a deadline.  But if you think about it as stepping stones, then I think that most goals have a “deadline” of sorts.  Try and think about the goals you’ve set and see if there is a way that you can measure them.

For example, one of the goals I shared in my New Years Resolutions post was to be more charitable.  Part of my plan includes being more willing to give of my time and talents when they are asked of me and offering them when I see a need.  I eliminated the need to prioritize this particular goal from a big list because it is one that I already know is important to me.  I’ve made myself accountable to all of you by sharing my goal with you.  As for making my goal measurable, if I am striving to go out of my way to do a couple of charitable acts a week I can then check myself and see how I’m doing.  Once I’ve created a habit of doing at least two charitable acts, I can increase it to three.  Soon, my goals have become a habit and they are part of me.

I hope that if you made some new goals for the year that you will be able to succeed at them.  I also hope that if you haven’t made any new goals that you can think of a couple that you’d like to strive for.  Feel free to share here!  You’ll find support and encouragement.

What helps you achieve your goals?

Choose Happiness

Happy 2016!  How did you ring in the new year?  I’ll be honest, I was in bed well before midnight so I was sleeping and trying to finish getting over this dang cold that’s taken over my life for the last couple of weeks.

It might sound cliche, but I truly love the idea of new beginnings.  Have you ever had a day that seemed to be going all wrong, only to make a conscious decision to “start over”?  Or going to bed grumpy and waking up to see the sun shining and you have a smile on your face before you get out of bed?  I love knowing that while I might not have control over how everything in my day goes, that I do have control over how I react to it.  And isn’t that half the battle?

Earlier this week I talked about a few of my new goals for the year, but I thought of one more that I wanted to mention: choose to be happy.  This goal stems from the memory of a time during junior high when my life at home was challenging due to circumstances out of my control.  Rather than focus on the negative, I made a valiant effort every day to see the good in the bad.  It didn’t change my circumstances, but it made them easier to deal with.  I came to be known as someone who (almost) always had a smile on her face and could help others see the good in things.

As I’ve gotten older and life has moved forward, I find that there are days I tend to get caught up in “the thick of thin things”: small irritations turn into big problems and it seems hard to find the positive when I’m already having a tough day.  But I want to make a bigger effort to catch myself when this happens and try harder to choose to be happy.  I want to create a new beginning for myself, no matter what time of day it is or how rough the day before was.

Life is hard.  But it becomes so much harder when we don’t choose to be happy.  So regardless of what other new goals you’ve set for yourself this year, I hope you’ll join me in the effort to choose happiness. You won’t regret it.

My New Years Resolutions

2015 is coming to a close and we’ll be celebrating a new year in less than 48 hours.  Crazy!  It’s hard to believe how much can happen in a year’s time and yet feel like it went entirely too fast and you didn’t get to do all the things you would have liked.  Time definitely speeds up as you get older and life gets busier.

Here are a few things that happened in my life during 2015:

  • My daughter turned 3.
  • My son turned 1.
  • We finished our basement.
  • My husband quit his job and started a new one.
  • My husband graduated with his MBA.
  • We went to Disneyland.
  • I started this blog.

Along with the new year comes the opportunity to start fresh.  Obviously, this could be done at any time of year, but it seems most common for people to take a step back and evaluate the current year and create new hopes, dreams and goals for the new one ahead.  I include myself as one of these people and I get excited to think of new ways to grow and stretch myself in various aspects of my life.  I think there are basically two types of goals: the kind with a foreseeable end (ie. train to run a marathon) and the kind that are more long-term (ie. be more forgiving).  Both types are necessary if you are serious about improving yourself.

My brother-in-law is a comedian/motivational speaker and he’s always throwing this out there in regards to goals: “I don’t like to set goals.  I like to create a lifestyle.” Keeping this thought in mind, I’ve been doing some thinking about the goals/lifestyle changes I want to set this year and wanted to share a few of them with you.

Be more charitable  I was inspired to set this as a goal, and essentially adopt it as a lifestyle, when I read this quote:

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” – Marvin J. Ashton, 1992
Exercise regularly  Isn’t this a goal most people set for the new year?  Regardless, it’s one I’m setting for myself.

Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family  I want to make sure that even though I see my family every day, that I make the time to do specific activities with them where we can play and talk and create memories to grow and strengthen our relationship.  This might include going out for ice cream or bowling with my daughter, playing a game in the backyard with my son or doing a planned activity with my husband (at home or out on the town).

Keep up on my personal journal writing  I love going back and reading about past events, feelings and experiences.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They help me see where I’ve grown and the lessons I’ve learned.  This is a goal I have to set for myself every year.  Some years I do better than others, but I’m always glad when I take the time to do it.
Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often  I’ve never met anyone, myself included, who doesn’t like to be told that they are loved, appreciated and that they matter.  It can be hard to remember to do because it’s so easy to take those we love and the things they do for us for granted.
While these aren’t all the goals I’m setting for myself this year,  I think it’s important to share our goals with other people so we remember them and so we are held accountable to them.
What are your goals for the new year?