Monday, December 30, 2013

Recap 2013, Part 2 and the Lull

I love this time of year...the little lull between Christmas and New Year's. It is when we can nap most easily and yet we are getting motivated for a new year, with the flip of the calendar.  A bit of relaxation mingled with a bit of excitement. And as I reflect on 2013, I can honestly say it was one of my very best years. Certainly there were new challenges in every facet of my life, but it was all tempered by a stronger and deeper faith in God. A God who is faithful and loving and will direct us where we are needed. Wow. Amazing to realize that I am finally letting go of some control in my life. Letting go and letting God work. I am looking forward to 2014 and seeing where God leads me, in my faith journey and how that will be exemplified in my life.

In my last post I found I had nothing to blog about and then 3 months of thoughts and pictures spilled out onto the blog. I enjoyed going back through my pictures and really thinking about those memories. I know these type of posts can get a little long winded, so I really appreciate you letting me pour it all out on this little old blog!

The girls got a wonderful Christmas present but had to wait an agonizing 4+ months to get their gift. We went with friends to the Taylor Swift concert. Wow. She was simply amazing. A phenomenal artist! Worth every penny of the tickets and the months of waiting until she came to town!

We haven't been to a wedding in a few years. This was one of the sweetest weddings I have ever been to. The bride was gorgeous and we had a blast!

And we finally installed a new basketball hoop...this is my little nerd who was dressed up for Nerd Day at school...trying out the new hoop before school:

Friend Time
A friend hosted a very sweet luncheon at the end of the school year. Me with two of my closest friends:

Father's Day
I love Father's Day because it is such fun to celebrate those that you love when it is warm and sunny weather. We celebrated with my hubby on the lake (for the record I took a pic of my kids and hubby, but the sun was so bright we couldn't get a pic of everyone with their eyes open! So I am posting this one, so I don't embarrass the ones that can't keep their eyes open) Just a little blurry:

And with my Dad (and Mom) and kids, a week after the designated day with a cake at the lake.:

I am lucky to have such great parents. Here is a post I wrote about my Dad, a few years ago: Why Valentine's Day is Special To Me.

I am rather new to tennis and have only played sporadically. But in the spring of 2013, I was invited to play on a league. We were all new to league play, so we had a lot to learn in our first few matches. In the end, the other teams learned that we were the nicest and most gracious hosts. It ended up being a really great experience. I am not sure if we will play in the league in 2014, but it was a great experience trying something that is so far out of my comfort zone! I am in the back row in the middle in white shirt/skirt. I remember it was super hot that night and I thought I was going to die, but was glad that I had my Frog Tog to keep me cool:

Another tennis photo of a "bloody match" that was played with my daughter,(in pink) sis in law(in yellow) and bro in law(only brave guy around to take us on!) much fun! Part of our family reunion fun in Florida:

Our family reunion (on my husband's side) in Florida involved a photo shoot of all the families...16 grandkids under the age of 16...I snapped this pic as they were positioning the kids...this was so much fun to watch...and we were awaiting one more little one in this the behind the scenes photos! And by the way there are 11 girls to 5 boys! Girls rule:

And another one for fun, with the two youngest cousins, who are sisters, so sweet:

And then one of my bro in laws snapped this for us outside by the water with an iPhone:

Nothing prepares you for when your oldest turns is just so shocking that it has gone by so quickly...but we still had a blast celebrating from the moment she woke up until she went to sleep:

If you haven't noticed that most of my pictures involve family and friends. But in between these fun photos there is a lot of work that goes on. The mundane duties like laundry and driving to/from kid's commitments for lessons and practices. There are a lot of grocery store trips and cleaning of the house. Lots of bill paying and balancing of the checkbook. Honestly, I am a little behind on the tasks that keep the house running smoothly. So I am going to take care of those duties and I will come back with a final recap of 2013 and some thoughts about 2014. See you soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nothing to Blog About

I don't have anything to blog about. I have started this post many times and then stopped. It seems useless to keep a blog if I am only going to blog a few times a year. But, still I can't stop blogging. I love reading others blogs and have enjoyed finding new blogs through Instagram. I just don't know where this blog fits in cyberspace and in my life. I remember when I first started blogging and the feeling. If you don't know what I am talking about, then surely you aren't a blogger. There is something magical about creating a blog post. I love how the writing and photos and comments all interact. The interaction. And I guess it is because I don't have the patience to focus on just writing, or just photography. Through blogging, I can mix the two and find that the blend of the two works for me.

Bloggy Friend
So I do have one fun thing to report! This summer while making a quick stop at the tennis club, I met a bloggy friend...purely by chance!! It was so weird and fun and surreal! I wasn't even supposed to be at the tennis club that day but stopped to drop off something to one of my kids. And walking down the hallway I hear "cathymskier" (my instagram name! that was the first time anyone called me by that name!!) and looked up to find my bloggy friend Kerri! Kerri grew up in my town and was visiting family while on her way to a big tennis tournament in Chicago for her son! Her son was getting in some practice at our tennis club. We spent a few minutes talking and getting to know each other in "real" life. It was so cool!

My youngest snapped this candid of us. Me on left and Kerri on right:

And the posed shot, don't judge the way we look, as this was a serendipitous moment (meaning: lucky in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries, courtesy of Siri)

I also met Kerri's hubby (the tennis coach) and her son, who I have been following on her blog for a few years. So much fun!! And such a sweet surprise for both of us!

A Random Rant
Here is one other reason I love blogging...the feeling of accomplishment! As a stay at home mom, it never really seems like you get that feeling. Whatever progress you may make, gets undone within an hour of the kids being home. And we won't talk about the lack of the paycheck...which leads me to a little rant about working vs nonworking moms. I choose not to work for a variety of reasons. I have worked. I was successful and I worked hard for a very long time. When the time came to be able to stay at home,  I was burned out. Fried. Too much travel and responsibility for too long. I was burned out from being a workaholic. Truly. Ask my husband because he lived it. I digress. I have chosen to stay home with my kids and continue to do so. I am not a slacker. I have had my own business while raising 3 kids. So when working moms tell me how busy they are, I get it. But I will not feel guilty for making my choice, because it was the right choice for me. And I rarely point out to the complaining working moms, that my bank account reads zero and my 401K reads zero in the past 16.5 years. So yeah, I get it. And if you choose to stay home and raise your kids, realize that the accomplishment, pay and retirement are zero, but it still may be the right choice for you.

 Re-Cap 2013
As I have been going through photos on my phone , I have decided to share a re-cap of some things that happened in 2013. And yes there was PROGRESS!! Woot woot! In my last post I was eating right and working out. And of course skiing!

This was a fun pic with my youngest on the slopes in March 2013:

And what our ski locker looks like with some of the gear:

Spring Break 2013
We enjoyed a fun family trip to the gulf coast of Florida and spent some time connecting with my parents (snowbirds who winter in Florida). And I love using the collage apps on my phone to tell a story:

These two (my youngest and my Dad) are always playing cards...ever since she was a toddler, so I adore this pic:

We rented a house on Anna Maria Island that had the cutest beachy interior and the most lovely HEATED pool (20 steps from the kitchen).  I found it on VRBO.  The VRBO # is 207751.

Our trip ended at McCormick's. Not the restaurant. The water ski and wakeboard park. Oh my. My first ever water ski lesson from an Australian pro water ski jumper. I was so so nervous!! A new driver, a different boat and a totally different ski! Also,  I remember being very nervous about my start. As I am older (late 40's) and have only been a slalom skier for a few years, I sometimes have troubles with my start. I need a long slow drag to get up...but I got up the first try and tried to take in everything the instructor was teaching me and tried really hard to relax. A pre-lesson pic:

During the lesson, wearing a skirted suit...looks weird in this pic:

And hubby's got mad wakeboarding skills...this is after a long winter of no wakeboarding:

And my sweet boy...notice his thumb protector on that grab?...this is a few months post surgery:

And after all that excitement we relaxed! And I sniped this photo of the kids from the hotel balcony. My mom tells me that I need to take more candids, so this was an attempt:
An interesting side note to the above picture is that there was a couple to the right of the kids, that were tanning poolside all day. The couple, we thought, were married to each other, as they were all over each other. After awhile we figured out that they were not married (to one another) and were hooking up in Florida...not sure where they were from, maybe Great Britain? It was a strange day, as we were having family fun while the "couple" was away on a getaway. Both were wearing rings.

The only family photo from our vacation taken with an iPhone and seriously edited on Instagram. Photo credit to the cheating husband from the paragraph above:

Spring 2013
After we returned from Spring Break, we had planned a surprise event for my bestie friend!!! I called her on her birthday and told her to put a date on her calendar. We ended up meeting bestie and her hubster at a restaurant and treated them to a concert...Tristan Prettyman, one of my all time fave singers! Our car was broken into that night...for the second time in two years in a city that we no longer live in, but frequent. So this is before the broken glass and the cold, loud car ride home. My other post about being broken into is here.

This pic was taken when my daughter went to another school's prom in the Spring. I must really love that tshirt as I am wearing it in the above pic, too! My daughter looked so beautiful that night. I was stunned to see her growing up before my eyes. It was so stressful taking pictures because I literally had 50 people show up and they ended up parking in my friend, who did my daughter's hair. My friend could not get out and had to have someone pick her up at my house. I was there trying to be gracious when I was freaking out because I only knew my daughter and her date and his family and one other friend and her parents. Literally there were so many people and all I wanted was a pic with my girl.
We are learning a lot about being parents to teenagers. Let me just give you a small piece of advice...before letting your children go out on a date or to a formal...make sure you have their date's phone number in case your child's phone goes dead. You can never have enough phone numbers nor re-inforce the curfew time enough. I know this from experience and although that night did not play out the way that I thought it would, everyone was safe and had good clean fun...even though it did go into the early morning hours. Funny how we think sleepless nights are reserved for the parents of infants and toddlers. Add teens to that list.

We had a busy spring filled with soccer my youngest slapping five on the left with her teammate. She earned Most Improved player from her coach who is on the left below:

And more soccer...last game with this rec team after many, many seasons with the same coach and many of the same players and years of being in the goalbox...a successful season for all as we won the championship...such great friends and great families...we hosted the end of the year party after the game with temps in the 90's in May!

And we had spring musical events.
The youngest had a strings concert where she played cello but I couldn't get a good pic of her playing. So we ended with this fun photo of my youngest and her friends that are also soccer buddies. Mine is second from left in the blue headband (she came from a soccer game):

My oldest daughter and one of her close friends were asked to sing the National Anthem at a high school baseball game. It was the first time they sang it together even though they have been friends since second grade. The mic didn't work and I had a horrible time getting a picture but was happy to snap this:

All of a sudden school was out and we were onto summer events. I was taking a picture of something and these two photobombed the picture. A rare moment where brother and sis are getting along:

Christmas 2013
I will finish my re-cap in another post...have to get out and find two more Christmas gifts. I wanted to remind you that all of the holiday stress can be shelved. Just remember to enjoy the lights and laughter. I found this pic on my phone. It is the baby of one of my dear friends. The baby is almost five and has changed so much! I sent this pic to her and she said I can use it on my blog. So enjoy!!!

I hope you check back for another post and I enjoyed catching you up on my life at Checkitoff. Thanks for stopping by!
hugs, Cathy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Small Changes, Update #1

As I look at the calendar, I am surprised that it is already mid-March. 2013 is moving at a fast clip for me! I have been working really hard at my Small Changes. Some areas where I wanted to focus, I have completely abandoned! Other areas, I have been much more successful. I am sticking to small changes though and I am seeing some progress. I like that word, progress!

Healthy Eating
I have gone back to tracking my calories on and have been making very good healthy choices for meals and snacks. I have lost about 6 or 7 pounds with modifying my eating, tracking my calories and working out. Tracking calories can be difficult, but I love knowing that I am making better choices daily and that by doing so, I am also seeing a difference in my weight. Also, it is important for me to track my sodium intake, as I want to avoid developing kidney stones. {High sodium intake is associated with kidney stones}. 

Coffee Addiction
At the beginning of the 2013 (and for many years!!!)  I was addicted to coffee. The two biggest reasons for my coffee addiction are it gives me an energy boost {temporarily} and it keeps me warm during the chilly midwest winters. Are you ready for this small change? I have cut down to 1 cup a day. 1 cup, just one and no more!!! And I feel much better!! I am sleeping better and I have more energy throughout the day. I also get up more easily.

I also, have cut out diet soda (easy for me to do in the winter, not so easy in the heat of summer). If I feel the desire for another cup of coffee or a diet pop, I have something better instead....water or a hot green tea.

This is a very private subject for me. However, I am at a new point in my life with my relationship with God. And it is wonderful. I have a long way to go with my knowledge of the Bible, but I am eagerly seeking His word on a daily basis. I am trusting. It isn't easy for me, as I like to have a lot of control over a lot of things. I am learning to really believe, and it is so freeing. We changed churches and religions about 1.5 years ago and it was the very best decision for our family. We are now part of an awesome "Life Group" where we meet and pray for each other's children. {WOW!} Our attendance at church has  increased greatly. And we are just enjoying our spiritual journey as a family. And as a couple. I picked up this book last week and my husband and I are enjoying reading this together. Amazing book. Go get it and share it with someone you love! 

Home Organization
Nada. Nothing. Not happening here. Not yet. Maybe soon? Ski season just ended so there is some HOPE that something in the near future will be organized! Last week as I was hunting for a picture to send my mom for her 70th birthday, I had a mini panic attack as I realized that I haven't organized photos in photo boxes, nor the computer that holds upward of 9 years photos. Closets are bursting and drawers are disheveled. I am going to write "Home Organization" on sticky notes and place them throughout the house...maybe little reminders will get me going? Maybe as I see the sticky reminders all over the house I will feel the more motivated. I hope so.

When I was in the bookstore last week (a rather rare occasion now that I have a Kindle) I found this super cute series of books, Cupcake Diaries, for my little baker who is 10 years old. She hadn't been reading very much and I thought this might do the trick. Yep, she is on the second book and she is hooked on them! This would be a great gift in an Easter basket!!

How are you doing on your goals for 2013? I hope to hear from you. And if you live where spring has already sprung, go ahead an torture me with your warm temps and sunny pictures! 

Also, if you want to stay in touch, follow me on Instagram at cathymskier And we won't talk about my Instagram addiction, ok?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Small Changes for 2013, Part 2

So some of you have had more time to find your word for 2013 or make some resolutions. In my last post I said I was making small changes in 2013 and some wondered what they might be. 

I read somewhere that the #1 resolution by Americans was to lose weight. I love to eat! Over the holidays as more and more treats came into our home, I would snack on the high calorie treats that adorned our counters. Thus a little weight gain. 

Track Calories
My small change in this area is to be more active and to eat mindfully, which is a lot easier said than done. So the first small change I have made is to track my calories again. I am choosing foods that are higher in protein, less processed/packaged foods. I am also making an effort to have fresh veggies and fruits ready to be eaten. It seems when I want a snack, I don't want to take time to prepare it, so it really helps having the veggies washed, cut and ready to be eaten. My favorite go to snack is greek yogurt. If you haven't tried it, you should! It is a great source of protein and really delicious. Be sure to read the label as there are now a lot of varieties, with some containing too many calories. These are previous posts that I have written about healthy eating: here and here.

Be Active
The midwest winter months can really drag on, as those who live in the midwest know, all too well. I am aiming at being more active. I continue to ski with my family on the weekends. I have also gone back to tennis one day/week. I committed to working with a personal trainer in a group setting in February. I am using the rest of January to get ready for this huge challenge. I already logged the training dates into my calendar and I am committed to being in the gym at a minimum of two days per week.  I am also hoping to make a reacquaintance with my treadmill! 

Home Organization
Another small change I have made is in the area of organization. I am following A Bowl Full of Lemons, New Year's Home Revolution which is a 14 week home organization challenge. If you are interested in checking it out, go here. What I like about this challenge is that it can be as little or as much organization as that space needs that week. I figure even if  I clean a drawer a week in the space that they suggest, I will end up with a minimum of 14 clean drawers!! A small change that will lead to a bigger change! 

Before I started the New Year's Home Revolution "Organization Challenge"  I cleaned and organized my laundry/mud room. I am not quite done renovating this space, as I need to have a new faucet and sink installed and need new artwork above the coat hooks. I also need to find a way to hide the electrical cords from the washer and dryer, below the cabinets. I hope to dedicate one full blog post to this room, as it is a big part of the functioning of our family! Here is a peek at the progress so far from last spring: 

If you want to see what my laundry room looked like "BEFORE" go here and here.

A have a few more small changes for 2013 that I will share with you in another post. And to leave you on a note of other things happening at our house...a scheduled surgery for my son Foster, to repair an "acute ulnar collateral ligament"or thumb ligament, after he suffered a ski injury dubbed as Skier's Thumb...a similar injury his father also had as an 8th grader. Like father, like son.

Xray at orthopedic surgeon's office:

My kids love playing with the fun stuff at the orthopedic surgeon and using instagram:

I hope that your 2013 is off to a great start and that you are still enthused about the possibilities of great things to come in the new year!