Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Random Happenings

I'm having another GIRLS' WEEKEND in a few weeks
and I am SO excited!
Cathy and Kellie are coming
(and Cathy is bringing her girls).
And maybe EJ, too.
And maybe even my Mom.


I get annoyed when people try to talk to me
when I'm singing along to music,
especially if it's a great upbeat
Katy Perry type song.


Thing 2 recently turned 8.
On his birthday, he said (of this pattern):

"I think I need new sheets. I'm not 4, you know."


Our book club is being featured in a book!
The author of The Book Club Cook Book contacted me
and has been emailing us over the past several weeks!
Our club will be featured as will the recipes we used
for our discussion of the book
Half-Broke Horses.
We have 14 members -- men and women.


Thing 1 has been blogging again,
so be sure to check it out.


Even though she hasn't been blogging much
on her own blog.
She and Thing 2 (and lots of their friends)
have been blogging A TON
on the blog the kids have made for Jake.
It's a way to keep in touch with Jake
when he's at the hospital.

Visiting our friend Jake in the hospital

Early this past fall, Jake's clinical staff came and did a "classroom" presentation to all the kids explaining what leukemia is and what Jake's going through. Afterward, we took this picture. Jake's in the middle holding Ellie.

Jake and Ellie


Our kids are really good typists.
Thing 1 has a score of 3.504 seconds
on this typing test. Mark and I can't even break 5 seconds.


Thing 2 has his first Pinewood Derby
this weekend. Mark and the kids
have been painting cars and getting ready!


In March, we're getting more visitors!!
Mark's brother Scott and his wife Lindsay
and their baby Ada

are coming to stay with us for a week!
We got their itinerary yesterday.
We're excited -- it's the first time
in the 8 years we've lived here so far
that we've hosted a "sibling family"
on Mark's side!

Monday, January 24, 2011

No wonder I didn't want to get out of bed . . .

Double Click on that picture
and look closely at the blue box
in the bottom right corner.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Random Thoughts and Happenings

I can't do any yoga positions that involve putting my head and/or hands on the ground without greatly exciting Scout. For whatever reason, she starts jumping up on my head and shoulders and scratching enthusiastically. It's kind of funny because one of the positions is called Downward Facing Dog.


Mark and the kids are moving up the Tae Kwon Do belt advancements!

Here's my crew!
Thing 2 as a high yellow belt
and Mark and thing 1 as yellow belts.

And here they are after their promotions test!
Thing 2 as a green belt
and Thing 1 and Mark as high yellow belts!
(Thing 2 started doing Tae Kwon Do first).
I'm so proud of them and it's crazy fun to watch them.


Thing 1 played in her first ensemble recital
and it was really neat to hear her play as part of an ensemble group like that.

I wish we could've gotten video of it, too.


And in more violin news,
Thing 1 will be playing at Carnegie Hall in the spring!
NYC, here we come!


I've noticed that tight jeans are making a comeback.
I'm not a fan AT ALL.
Especially, and this can not be emphasized enough, especially on guys.


Thing 2 heard someone's cell phone going off in the changing room at Tae Kwon Do the other day. He came home laughing SO HARD about it that I had to look it up.
And then I laughed so hard, too.
You have to hear this: Click here to laugh so hard, too.
If I weren't such a cell phone illiterate,
I'd figure out how to put it on my phone.


Burt Hummel.
Best TV Dad EVER.


This month, our homeschool group is focusing on FUN.
Every week we do something fun as a group.
Week 1 - Bowling
Week 2 - Laser Tag
Week 3 - Roller Skating
We have an awesome group and we're having such a great time.


Thing 1 read the entire Hunger Games series in 3 days --
she read each book in a day.


Thing 2 said to me yesterday,
"Scout was gaping stupidly at me while chewing her toy."
I responded, "Where'd you get that phrase?"
"Harry Potter."


Saturday, January 15, 2011


I wrote this about a month ago. Between the holidays, a sinus infection, and posting other stuff, I haven't gotten around to posting it until now. Here it is . . .

Sometimes I talk to myself. I thought I'd interview myself to review this year's NaNoWriMo experience.

Q. Why did you write in the 3rd person instead of the 1st person this year?
A. Because I wanted to try it out and challenge myself.

Q. So, how did that work?
A. It didn't. What was I thinking? Oh well, at least I learned something from it. Like one of my professors in grad school says, "Having a 'bad' internship isn't a waste -- you learn what you don't like." I'm sticking to writing in the first person. Apparently, I write significantly better that way.

Q. Did you write the recommended 1,667 words every day?
A. Um, no. I wrote around 2,000 words a day for the first few days with grand plans of being done by Thanksgiving, then I spent days not writing at all, then I spent days trying to play 'catch up,' then I spent days not writing at all, then I considered ditching the whole thing, and then I wrote around 5-10 thousand words a day to pull off winning it. We barely pulled it off, but we did it. (I'm speaking for me and Mark there. Our kids? Significantly more on the ball than their parents).

Q. What made you not give up?
A. My husband's astute observation that we spent way too many days writing and worrying about word counts to give up. He's awesome.

Q. It seems like most authors have dogs. Does having a dog make you a better writer?
A. One would think. Scout doesn't like me sitting at my computer. She either scratches at my hand to get me to stop or she gives up and pathetically looks at me (eyes up, ears down) so that I cuddle her while I write. So, I don't know if it makes me a better writer or not. But I do love, love, love having her.

Q. So, you had a contest where readers got to guess whose first lines belonged to which authors. Your college roommate Katie won and got to choose the names of some minor characters. She chose "Clarence" and "Penelope." Where did they get used in the books?
A. My book transitioned from a character-driven story (less plot) to a Gothic novel (I got bored with my own story, so I tried to spice it up), and back to a simpler story. During its Gothic phase, I came up with a creepy story that became a legendary curse associated with the psychiatric hospital (Englewood Manor) where my four main characters all reunited (they kind of knew each other in high school). The young, aristocratic girl who used to live in Englewood Manor (when it was her mansion home and before it became a psychiatric hospital) but who later went psycho in a deathly jealous rage? Her name was Penelope. Thing 1 used Clarence as the name of one of her unicorns -- she says it worked perfectly because the names of all of her unicorns start with the letter "C." Thing 2's character names all came from the names of friends' wizards on Wizard101 and none of them are named Clarence or Penelope, so he says he didn't use the names for that reason. Mark's youth fiction novel is about an unlikely hero named Douglas. Mark says, "Clarence was the Giver of Quests early in my story. Penelope is a girl the main character meets along the way. Can't give away details, though." So, there you have it. Oh, and Thing 1 used the name "Cricket" as suggested by Jessica! :)

Q. What was your story about again?
A. It's about 4 people who kind of knew each other in high school (though none of them had been close then) who all end up meeting one another as adults in a psychiatric inpatient hospital. After some initial embarrassment, they all become friends and even go on to meet weekly at a local coffeehouse. Their weekly get togethers are something to which they all look forward and enjoy. The novel flashes back to their time in the psych hospital, but mostly covers the next year as they meet weekly. Their lives begin to intertwine and become more complicated. It is right around the time of their 20th high school reunion when everything comes to a head. That's all I'll say for now. Oh, one more thing. They all wonder about the curse of Englewood Manor and whether or not that curse is real. It seems to be, though, as all of them continue to sort of break down throughout the book.

Q. Can you tell a little more about the characters?
A. Okay. 4 main characters. 2 men. 2 women.

- One of the characters is a very attractive gay man ("Schwartz") who never felt able to fully be himself for fear of disappointing his parents. His parents were much older when they had him and he was the baby they didn't ever think they'd be able to have. They doted on him and adored him and he loved them, too. Once they died, he thought he would be "free," so to speak, to live a live true to himself and his own sexuality. As he gets older, though, he is torn between allowing himself to live an authentic life and continuing to hide that fact about himself for fear of somehow disrespecting his parents even in death. He is badly tormented by all of it. He is very well-liked by the other characters. He and Marnie especially develop a sweet closeness.

- One of the women ("Marnie") was always shy and quiet and sweet in high school and spent most of her life selflessly caring for ailing family members (grandmother, father, mother, etc.). When she is finally able to look out for herself and live her own life, she finds out she has a life-threatening illness. Her biggest regret is never having been in love and never having been with a man.

- The other man ("Brad") is a former high school football player stud who lived quite a cliché life, dating and marrying his high school sweetheart (a cheerleader). He owns his own construction business, handed down to him by generations before him. He and his wife have two children but live entirely separate lives. He even sleeps in the living room as they don't even share their bedroom anymore. She is rather, um, unpleasant and self-centered. Their marriage has deteriorated and is headed for divorce, but she is VERY into appearances and wants him to pretend to be happily married until after the high school reunion.

- The other female character ("Jenna") is a journalist and is the only one who didn't enter Englewood Manor for emotional issues -- she was covering a story for the newspaper. She was the salutatorian in her high school and had moved up in her career at a very rapid pace. She had been working for a major newspaper in a big city when the economy took a toll and she found herself unemployed and back in her hometown doing freelance work for the local paper. She had many liaisons, but never let a man, or any semblance of a real relationship with a man, get in the way of her career. Since she is unemployed, she has time to work on writing a novel, a lifelong wish of hers. She finds that the stories of her new friends and companions give her great fodder for her story. She feels sort of guilty for using them, but torn because she sincerely likes them, but she needed a story idea.

Q. Did your characters do unexpected things that surprised you?
A. Yes. There were several surprises. For example, one of the main characters started hitting on one of the other main characters and I did not see any of that coming. And a minor character VERY publicly confronts one of the major characters in a very embarrassing way exposing a hidden double life. There were other things, too, but I don't want to give it away.

Q. Anything else surprise you?
A. Yes. Apparently, I enjoy and am rather good at writing steamy scenes. Who knew?

Q. Were you able to pull off that ambiguous ending you wanted?
A. Yes. A tragic one, too. Get this. You know what? Never mind. I'll leave it at "yes."

Q. What were you going for with the ambiguous ending?
A. I was trying to recreate in a book the thing I love in many indie and foreign films that I enjoy so much -- a character-driven story that is light on plot and ambiguous in its ending. I love watching a movie that doesn't tie up neatly and makes me wonder and think about meaning and what might've happened. I was trying to do that in this book. I think I did it. Maybe not well, but I did it.

Q. Did you meet neat people while doing NaNoWriMo?
A. YES! I really enjoyed getting to know local WriMos. One of them is a Jedi (I kid you not -- she does actual stage combat with light sabers) and another had a SUPER COOL novel idea and amazed us all with her prep for NaNo. She even cast her characters with real actors and actresses and had an awesome Power Point of all of them. Super neat ideas. I wouldn't be surprised to see all of us steal that idea for next year. And several of us are already good friends.

Q. Did you get together often?
A. Yes! At least 1-2 times weekly. We had weekly write-ins as well as a kick-off party, a half-way there party, and a celebratory party.

Q. Did you like being ML (Municipal Liaison) for your area?
A. I did. I had no clue what I was doing, but I've got ideas for next time and I'm excited to do it again.

Q. Which novel do you like best so far? Your first one or second one?
A. First one. Hands down.

Q. Do you think you'll try to publish either book?
A. Yes. I want to work on editing and submitting my first book. I didn't love this one as much, though it was interesting in its own way. I might revisit the 2nd one, too, though. We'll see.

Q. Do you have more book ideas?
A. Yes! I thought of several new ideas after NaNoWriMo. And I'm happy about that, because I had NO idea what I was doing this year and that was disappointing.

Q. Will you do anything differently next year?
A. Yes. The first year was all new and I wrote a 1st person story that was funny. The second year, I tried writing a heavier story in the 3rd person. Next year, I'm going to try writing from an outline. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll like that (though I could be wrong). So besides sticking to funny (rather than heavy) and 1st person (rather than 3rd), I'm going to try an outline. I kind of like that NaNo gives me the opportunity to try different things each time, since it's kind of an "anything goes" kind of project.

Q. Did you almost switch from 3rd person to 1st person in your novel this year?
A. Yes! One of my WriMos suggested I just switch and write about each character from their own perspectives. I thought I would, but felt funny switching in the middle like that. So, I had one of them give a journal as a gift to one of the others. When she started writing in it, the words just flowed for me! That's when I really knew that writing in the 1st person is just better for me all around. I already suspected as much, but that clinched it.

Q. Do the kids enjoy NaNoWriMo?
A. Very much so. They have a great Young Writer's Program and our kids eat it up. They say it's their very favorite thing that we do as part of our schooling.

Q. So you'll do NaNoWriMo again?
A. Absolutely.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Year in Review

Saw this on my SIL Emily's blog. I can not resist these. I love sentence prompts! Filling this out made me realize that 2010 has been a pretty "average-ish" year for us. The kind that makes you sort of shrug your shoulders and say, "Eh." It's been fairly low-key overall for us--nothing spectacular, nothing awful. And we're totally okay with that. Grateful even.

  1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? Attended a Michael Bublé concert!

  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yes, using a "phrase of the year." And yes, I already did.

  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, my friend Kristie. And I got to be there!

  4. Did anyone close to you die? No. Thankfully, no.

  5. What countries did you visit? We didn't do much traveling other than the beach and my Mom's 70th birthday party.

  6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? I can't think of anything. Oh wait, maybe a kitchen renovation?

  7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    Aside from the usual ones, not much stands out big time other than going to the beach (wonderful), Jake's diagnosis (I don't think I'll ever forget how my stomach just DROPPED when I heard Kristie's voice on the phone), and Ellie's birth (so beautiful).

  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Helping organize meals, information dissemination, and house cleaning for our friends when their son was diagnosed with leukemia, writing another novel, and just general awesomeness.

  9. What was your biggest failure? Eh, I don't like to think in terms of failure. It is what it is.

  10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Again, thankfully, no. Just a couple of colds.

  11. What was the best thing you bought? I don't know. Corkboard tiles for my organizing wall? Books?

  12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Kristie's and Jake's.

  13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I plead the 5th.

  14. Where did most of your money go? Mortgages, student loan payments, malpractice insurance, general bills, and retirement.

  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The beach and the Michael Bublé concert and just our general family and life situation. I'm genuinely happy.

  16. What song will always remind you of 2010? Maybe "Hey, Soul Sister" because we hear it so much or maybe "Don't Stop Believing" since we've recently discovered Glee.

  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a) happier or sadder? If it's possible, happier.
    b) thinner or fatter? The same.
    c) richer or poorer? Richer?

  18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Again, it is what it is. I'm content.

  19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I suppose endless organizing of lists and emails?

  20. How did you spend Christmas? Here with my beautiful family, enjoying good food and a really nice holiday. Though I was sick with a horrible sinus infection and lost my voice and we didn't get to go to our friends' house on Christmas night. Bummer. But still, all in all, a nice holiday.

  21. Did you fall in love in 2010? Again and again.

  22. What was your favorite TV program? Glee. Discovered it in December, thanks to a great Christmas gift from friends.

  23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I honestly don't hate anyone.

  24. What was the best book you read? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Hunger Games series.

  25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Tristan Prettyman?

  26. What did you want and get? Desperately, a vacation at the beach. And it was fabulous.

  27. What did you want and not get? I had a couple of things I hoped would work out a certain way that didn't. But it's all good now, I think. ***ARGH. I cannot get this to put a break between #27 and #28. So, imagine it.***
  28. What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

  29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 36 and I spent the day with my family. My family and friends helped make it special.

  30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A maid?

  31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Branching out. I've started finding clothes that fit me better . . . in the Juniors Department. Don't laugh. I apparently still have a bit of a "short" complex.

  32. What kept you sane? What always keeps me sane? My family, my friends, and therapy skills. Oh, and texting. We like texting.

  33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hmmmm. I spent some time researching Prince William and Kate, but fancy? The same, old stand bys, I suppose -- John Cusack, Michael Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr., etc. I guess I'd add Will Schuester to the list. :P

  34. What political issue stirred you the most? Prop 8 and Healthcare and local economy stuff

  35. Who did you miss? My Dad.

  36. Who was the best new person you met? Ellie!

  37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Getting together with old friends is so therapeutic. Have them over for a weekend. Play lots of Band Hero and eat lots of food.

  38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
    (Well, this doesn't sum up my year, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt like this at times watching Jake's struggle with leukemia -- seems horribly unfair for a child to go through that) ------- And I know that it's a wonderful world
    But I can't feel it right now
    Well I thought that I was doing well
    But I just want to cry now (Wonderful World, James Morrison)
(I like this song, too):
Chances are we´ll be the combination
Chances come and carry me
Chances are waiting to be taken
And I can see
Chances are the fascination
Chances won't escape from me
Chances are only what we make them
And all I need
(Chances, Five for Fighting)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kid Interviews - Favorites of 2010

I wrote my "phrase of the year" post yesterday.

Today, I'm interviewing our kids to journal their favorites of 2010. They are excited to do this.

Thing 1 - Age 10, 5th Grade

Favorite Color - Yellow
Favorite Food - Sushi
Favorite Drink - Pink Lemonade
Favorite Board or Card Game - Settlers of Catan (Seafarers)
Favorite Wii Game - Horse Life Adventures
Favorite Online Game - Webkinz and Wizard 101
Favorite DS game - Harry Potter Legos (Years 1-4)
Favorite Hobby - Reading and Writing
Favorite non-electronic thing to do - Reading and Writing
Favorite thing to do outside - Play on the swingset
Favorite Book - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Favorite Movie - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Favorite TV show or Cartoon - Winx Club
Favorite Restaurant - Kugo's Steakhouse (for sushi)
Favorite Outdoor Spot - The climbing tree at the playground
Favorite Animal - Puppy
Favorite Fruit - Pears
Favorite Flower - Sunflower
Favorite Tree - Weeping Willow
Favorite Vegetable - (Avocado, but technically that's a fruit) Corn on the Cob
Favorite Snack - Popcorn
Favorite Stuffed Animal - Menedy (stuffed cat)
Favorite Sport - Soccer
Favorite Dessert - Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
Favorite Place to Vacation - The Beach
Favorite Houseguest - "I like it when Vavo visits. I also like when EJ visits and when Cathy and Kellie visit."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Favorite Smell - Baking cookies
Favorite Aisle in Department Store - Books and Writing Supplies
Favorite Song - "Free" by Brooke White
Favorite Group or Singer - Brooke White and Taylor Swift
Favorite Season - Summer
B.F.F. - Kirsten
Favorite Room of the House - The Den and our bedroom
Favorite Day of the Week - Friday
Favorite Event of 2010 - Going to the Beach
Favorite Errand to Run - Going to the Library or Bookstore
Favorite Outfit - Jeans and my pink shirt with the girl and puppy on it
Favorite Instrument to Play - Violin
Favorite Phrase - Tishma! (Person on Wizard 101, Thing 2 says it to make her laugh)
Favorite Thing about Daddy - "I like when he bakes cookies, he makes fun surprises, and I like snuggling with him."
Favorite Thing about Mommy - "You make fun surprises like this interview, you make homeschooling nice, and I like to talk about books with you."
Favorite Thing about Your Sibling - "He's funny. When I'm sad or mad, he can usually cheer me up. When something exciting happens, he calls out to me to tell me."
Favorite Thing about Scout - "She's sweet and snuggly. She's funny. And when she gets in trouble, she tries to look so innocent and it's hilarious."
Favorite Christmas Gift of year - My dolphin Webkinz and my tote bag filled with writing supplies
Favorite School Subject - Reading and Writing
Favorite Family Tradition - Our Christmas Traditions and Birthday Traditions
Favorite Homeschool Group Activity - Park Days
What do you want to be when you grow up? - A cook of my own restaurant and a writer
If you could change anything about the world . . . - "No more war and I'd find something better to use than money so there'd be less of a hassle."
If you could have any superpower . . . - "Flying."
Weirdest thing you can do - "I can turn one foot backward and one foot forward at the same time. I can look in two different directions at once. I can touch my head with my feet . . . backwards."
Best thing about you - (She felt a little uncomfortable with this question). "I'm good at making friends and making people feel welcome in our homeschool group."

Thing 2 - Age 7 (turns 8 tomorrow), 2nd Grade

Favorite Color - Silver
Favorite Food - Pizza
Favorite Drink - Birch Beer
Favorite Board or Card Game - Settlers of Catan (Seafarers)
Favorite Wii Game - Super Smash Brothers
Favorite Online Game - Wizard 101
Favorite DS game - Pokemon Heart Gold
Favorite Hobby - Playing Yu-Gi-Oh! (the card game)
Favorite non-electronic thing to do - Yu-Gi-Oh!
Favorite thing to do outside - Baseball
Favorite Book - Yu-Gi-Oh! R, Book 4, Return of the Dragon
Favorite Movie - Despicable Me
Favorite TV show or Cartoon - Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds
Favorite Restaurant - Infinito's (All-You-Can-Eat Pizza and Salad)
Favorite Outdoor Spot - Playground
Favorite Animal - Bald Eagle
Favorite Fruit - Bananas
Favorite Flower - Nightshade
Favorite Tree - Dead Tree
Favorite Vegetable - Celery
Favorite Snack - Little Tiny Pizzas
Favorite Stuffed Animal - Zip (stuffed eagle)
Favorite Sport - Hockey
Favorite Dessert - Oreos
Favorite Place to Vacation - Disney World
Favorite Houseguest - "I like when Vavo comes here. I also like when EJ visits and when Cathy and Kellie visit."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor - Bubble Gum
Favorite Smell - Spearmint
Favorite Aisle in Department Store - Lego aisle
Favorite Song - "Hello There" by Cheap Trick
Favorite Group or Singer -Europe and Cheap Trick
Favorite Season - Fall
B.F.F. -Mark H.
Favorite Room of the House - Our room
Favorite Day of the Week - Saturday
Favorite Event of year - Going to the Beach
Favorite Errand to Run -Going to the Toy Store
Favorite Outfit - Yoga Clothes
Favorite Instrument to Play - Piano
Favorite Phrase - "Take 'em to the village!"
Favorite Thing about Daddy - "I like about Daddy that he's hard-working, he'll do almost anything, he's a super geek (and that's a good thing) -write that in parentheses, and I love him."
Favorite Thing about Mommy - "She'll cook, she washes the dishes, and I love her."
Favorite Thing about Your Sibling - "I love her, she's great, she's funny, she'll make me belly laugh, she'll play games with me. Sometimes. There's so many things, you're never going to be able to fit it all there."
Favorite Thing about Scout - "She's cute, she'll beg and that's cute, she doesn't really eat her kibble and that's cute, when you put a blanket on her, she's Underdoggie."
Favorite Christmas Gift of year - My Night Mare Webkinz
Favorite School Subject - Math
Favorite Family Tradition - Going to the pool in the summer
Favorite Homeschool Group Activity - YMCA Swim and Gym Time
What do you want to be when you grow up? - A restaurant owner
If you could change anything about the world . . . - "No Pollution."
If you could have any superpower . . . - "Let's see, I already have super speed, soooooooo . . . jumping high."
Weirdest thing you can do - "Let's see. I have 3 things. I can close my eye and open my eyelid so all you can see is white. I can look in two different directions at the same time. I like Twizzlers in salsa."
Best thing about you - "Best thing about me? I'm quick making friends."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Phrase to Live By

Well, this is year 3 of choosing a phrase to live by instead of making goals/resolutions. I love this new approach to new year beginnings and tweakings. I grew up making lots of goals and resolutions. That served me well for a while, but this new approach is serving me well now and suits where I am in life.

I like that it's more of a philosophical approach instead of a list of particulars. When I'd make a list of goals (stuff like "exercise daily" or "write more letters" or "stop cracking knuckles"), I'd start off well enough, but by February or March, things would have already waned, leaving me waiting ten more months to set more goals that would drop off within two months. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

With a phrase of the year, I honestly think about it daily, weekly, monthly. Quite often, I'm thinking about the phrase and reevaluating how much my life is fitting with my intentions, thoughts, and feelings. That's one of the things I really like about the phrase -- it's not forgotten by February or June or November. It's something I think about A LOT.

The other thing I really like about the phrase of the year is that it's something I can continually adjust throughout the year since it is more of a principle than a hard and fast expectation.

So, in 2009, I chose the phrase "Live Authentically." And boy, did I. Big time. Lots of big life changes. Lots of decisions. Lots of listening to my heart. Lots of living true to my heart. That was a great year as far as that goes and I'd definitely label it a success in the phrase-of-the-year department.

For 2010, I chose "Live Intentionally" as my phrase. I'd say it went okay. It was such a great segue from living authentically that I thought it would springboard me into some serious accomplishments. And there were some. But not as many as I had envisioned. And that's okay.

I thought about the phrase a lot throughout the year and alternated between being pleased with how it was going and feeling that it wasn't going as well as I'd hoped. I would consider the phrase and tweak how things were going and think about how I'd approach 2011, even contemplating a repeat of the phrase so that I could work on it some more with perhaps better results.

But, I don't want to look at it as glass-half-empty (and I don't). I've grown in many ways in the "Live Intentionally" approach. Even as I sit here and write this post, I see that it actually went better than I give it credit. Anyway, like I was saying, I like the "Live Intentionally" approach. And I can take that forward into this new year.

In my post for this past year, I listed some things I wanted to actually DO and not just talk about doing or put on "to do" lists. There have been some success and there are some things still waiting for a little (or a lot) more attention.

I called that new friend. I called those old friends. I read those books. I saw those movies. I got together with old friends. I cut my hair short. We studied those subjects. I did NaNoWriMo again. We got to the beach. We went to that concert. We organized some stuff.

And I didn't call that new friend. And I didn't read some of those books. And I didn't watch some of those movies. And I didn't get together with old friends as much as we'd hoped. We didn't study some of those subjects. And there's plenty we didn't organize.

A mixed success. And that's okay. We came up with several new organizing systems (including the corkboard wall that I love). And there are yet more to do lists. And, again, that's okay.

So, in evaluating all of this, I decided I wanted a new phrase. Something similar, yes, but also something fresh and new. I decided to go for the same results I was seeking but with a different (and more self-affirming) approach. Rather than focusing on living intentionally per se (where I would just DO whatever thing I wanted to do instead of putting it on a list or waiting for everything to be just right in order to do it), I want to try to live more that way but not for the sake of accomplishment this time. I want to do it because I have that level of respect for myself.

So this year's phrase?

"Live Respectfully."

The more I think about it, the more I see this as a natural blend of living authentically and living intentionally, as well as a continuation of both.

I don't want to accomplish things for the sake of checking them off my list. I want to do them because I respect myself that much. I don't want to clean out closets just to have them better organized. I want to clean out those closets because it's important to me and to the feeling in our home.

I want to "carpe diem" more than I do, not just so I can say I did this or that, but because I respect myself enough to grab hold of life and LIVE IT.

I want to be okay with saying "no" or "not right now" more, so that I'm not run ragged in doing for others at my own expense (which truly does no favors to myself or others anyway).

I want to manage my time better -- whether I'm completing projects, working with clients, or taking time to meditate each day-- not so that I can be super turbo-organized woman (in fact, no thank you), but so that I can mindfully enjoy every moment of life and all that we do. So, that I can feed that self-respect with more self-respect.

I want to exercise more, not so that I can have more checkmarks on my Wii Fit calendar or meet some weekly goal, but because I like myself so much that I want to feel good both physically and emotionally for me and for my family.

I want to do things because I want to do them, because my heart tells me to, because I said I would. You know, if I promised someone else I'd do something for them, I most likely would do it. I want to live that same level of respect for myself.

I want to meditate more, organize more, exercise more, play more, read more, write more, learn more, do more (or less sometimes). But rather than make goals that involve specifics of doing those tasks, I want to live with such respect for myself, that doing those things is a natural extension. My approach will involve time for myself, meditation, affirmations, action, and intention.

So, this may seem like the same approach as 2010's, but it's not. I'm looking to live intentionally, yes, but not just to do it for the sake of the outcome this time, but because I respect myself, respect my body, respect my heart, respect my family, respect my mind, respect my friends, respect my health, respect my resolve, respect my soul.

Bring on 2011. I'm ready.