New Year, New Goals

As we begin 2016, it’s fun to remember some of the good things that happened in 2015. Some of the things I accomplished are worth writing down, others, like washing countless loads of laundry and cooking many dinners are home, aren’t as interesting to note. Maybe I should, however, since laundry and cooking are accomplishments, as mundane as they are. Here are some other things I did in 2015.

  1. I went to the gym at least 12 times every month. I’d like to say that I’ve lost weight, but I really haven’t. I have toned up, however, and I feel stronger than I did a year ago. I also found out that I enjoy working out! Even though I’ve taken exercise classes through park districts and have always been a walker, I’ve never been a member of a gym before, and it’s fun to take the time for myself.
  2. I read 26 books and met my Goodreads challenge. Some of my favorite books were in the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson. I also had fun helping my friend A.J. Cattapan promote her book Angelhood! If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. If you’d like to see some of the other books I read in 2015, go to Goodreads!
  3. My family and I took a vacation to Disney World. This was also something brand new for me! I had never been to Disney World before, and it was great fun to take my daughters there so we could all experience it for the first time together.
  4. Bike riding was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid. I would ride and ride around the small town I grew up in. When we moved to the suburbs, we lived on a busy street that went into the city, and it was challenging to find safe streets to ride on, but the neighborhood across the street from our house was pretty quiet. Ed also loved bike riding so it was very strange that we never went biking riding together! Then we had kids, and I don’t think I rode my bike for over 10 years.  This year, my Mother’s Day present was a new bike, and I started riding again, this time with the whole family!

It’s impossible to know what’s in store for me in 2016, but I definitely have made some plans! Here’s what I hope to accomplish.

  1. To celebrate being cancer-free for 20 years, Ed and I are walking the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in June. Stay tuned for more details!
  2. Shortly before Ed and I got married, we drove to Yellowstone Nation Park. As we drove hundreds of miles together and saw so many wonderful things, we knew we would some day take the same trip with our children. Well, for better or for worse, we decided that we are going to take that road trip this summer. Wish us luck!
  3. This goal may not be able to be accomplished, but I really want to declutter my whole house. I guess if I can at least declutter the bedrooms, I’ll be happy. It’s a start, anyway!
  4. Read 25 more books. This will be easy and enjoyable! I’m almost done reading my first one; Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith.

What are some of your new goals for 2016?

Read some of the other Spins about the writing prompt NEW by clicking these links!

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming
Visit my blog to get the code in my sidebar. Add it to your blog post!


New Winter, New Snowblower

Ed and I have been snow shovelers for years. Every time it snowed, we would pull on our snowpants and boots, grab the shovels, and head out with the girls to shovel our driveway. We already had a significant snowfall earlier in November, although it didn’t last long and melted away fast. Last year, we wanted to buy a snowblower, but never actually got to the store to buy one. This past summer, Ed turned 50 and decided that yes, we needed to actually buy a snowblower this winter. So we bought one during a Black Friday sale. Our first snowblower ever!

Emmy shoveling snow
Emmy helping us shovel the driveway after our heavy November snow with her little red shovel.

We had such a mild December, however, that Ed and I have joked around, saying it’s our fault that the weather had been so mild. When you have a brand new snowblower and want to try it out, of course there will be 60 degree weather in December!

Well, our day came and we had one and a half inches of sleet fall last week. Ed did use the snowblower, but the weather was atrocious and it was raining as he snowblowed the sleet off of the driveway. At least he didn’t have to shovel that heavy sleet off of the driveway.

Our brand new snowblower

Last year in January, I was already heartily sick of cold weather. We had subzero temperatures and it was so cold that four days of school were cancelled. This year, we are hovering around 30 degrees every day, and I’m hoping it stays that way. Our winter has been mild so far, and I think we deserve it. Even if it means we won’t need our new snowblower!

There’s one thing we know we can count on; if we don’t use our snowblower very much this year, we will have plenty of use for it in the coming winters!

This week’s writing prompt continues to be NEW.

Did you start a new tradition? Did you get something new over the holidays? Do you have a new resolution/goal/word for 2016? Maybe you need something new in the New Year!

Write your Spin about something NEW to end this year and start the next! The Spin Cycle linky will be open until Sunday, January 10th!

(The first link is a post from last January about my word for the year, and how I was sick of the cold temperatures.)

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming
Visit my blog to get the code in my sidebar. Add it to your blog post!


Overwhelming Joy

I’ve been thinking about what I want to write about joy for a couple of weeks, but I haven’t actually sat down to write anything besides the Christmas letter I sent to my friends and family. It’s a familiar scenario for all of us writers, I’m sure. I’ve been so busy with my little family, and writing seemed like a luxury that I wasn’t able to give myself.

As I set about trying to find joy this holiday season, I almost lost it instead. At the beginning of the month, I wanted to put up the Christmas tree for the girls, and ended up cursing at the two strings of light that needed to be replaced. Yet Joy crept in and found me among the branches as Lily and Emmy excitedly planned where to put all the special ornaments up on the tree.

Bethlehem Walk

Both Lily and Emmy participated in choirs and piano playing this December. Making sure they made it to rehearsals on time and also nagging them to practice took a toll on me. Yet somehow, joy once again found me as I sat in the audience, spell-bound by the beautiful music both my daughters and other children were making.

Things that should have filled me with joy often felt stressful; making sure we had a babysitter for our night out; buying gifts for the family (and getting them wrapped); having to miss certain events because we were double-booked; all these things overwhelmed the joy I wanted to feel!

And to top it off, I had to prepare a Christmas dinner after attending two different church services. I had to sing and play the bells on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both of which bring me joy. But who has time to meal plan with so much going on? I knew I was going to make a ham, but as I was grocery shopping on Christmas Eve, my entire meal plan changed as I decided to make the food simpler than I had planned. And let me tell you, no one has found joy standing in line at the grocery store on Christmas Eve.

It wasn’t until I was standing in the kitchen on Christmas Day, singing along to The Messiah, when I realized that I didn’t need to find joy. Joy would find me, no matter where I was. Joy found me as I sang the descant to Oh Come All Ye Faithful in front of the congregation and as I scrubbed potatoes in the middle of a cluttered kitchen.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The Joy that is Jesus came to you and to me in a manger, as a baby, who was sent to us by God the Father to die for us. Overwhelming? Yes!

Isaiah 96

As we prepare for the new year, I hope that an overwhelming joy finds you as well, even as the lights are being taken down, the choirs are giving their voices a rest, and the leftover Christmas ham disappears. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Christmas Light Show

We visited a house recently that is all lit up for Christmas. There is a light show, and the lights are coordinated with music. It is loud and obnoxious. And very, very cool! Lots of people are driving by to take a look, and even more people are parking their cars to come up to the house to watch the light show.

Right now, this neighborhood is not very peaceful. This house is on my old stomping grounds, right on the way to my high school. Of course, when I was in high school, this house didn’t exist. Many older homes have been torn down and “McMansions” have been built in their place. I can’t even imagine the amount of money it took to create such a display.

However, this house is so popular for more than the lights. The owners are raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and their goal is to raise $10,000.

Perhaps they are bringing some peace to the world after all!

This house is at the corner of Belle Plaine and Engle. We gave a small donation for Wounded Warrior Project, and if you are in the neighborhood, it’s worth a visit!

Did you write a blog post about peace? Link it up here!

Join us for the month of December with these #SpinCycle writing prompts. Be sure to add the Spin Cycle button to your blog post to tell others about the Spin Cycle!

Week of Dec. 7-11 : Peace
Week of Dec 14-18 : Joy
Week of Dec. 21-25 : Love
Week of Dec. 28-Jan. 1: New

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming
Visit my blog to get the code in my sidebar. Add it to your blog post!





When Will Chicago Find Peace?

View of the skyline from the top of the ferris wheel on Navy Pier

The story of a nine year old boy being lured into an alley to be shot to death shattered my heart. The fact that it was gang related makes no difference to me; nine year old boys should not be afraid of being shot in an alley. This is a fear my children will never know. There are rarely any shootings in our Chicago suburb. My children won’t be lured into an alley; their father (or mother) are not gang bangers.  I am not afraid of stray bullets flying through my living room.

How can I help prevent these violent crimes? I could vote for stricter gun laws, which I am inclined to do, but many of the guns in these crimes are obtained illegally. I could vote for politicians who will be tough on crime, but I’m only allowed to vote for Cook County politicians, not City of Chicago politicians. What, then, can I do to help bring peace to our city?

The shootings in Chicago are out of control, but violence doesn’t require a gun. Nor does violence only happen in urban areas. When I was teaching in a small rural town, a young teacher didn’t show up for work one day. She hadn’t called for a substitute and didn’t answer the phone. The principal drove out to her farmhouse and discovered something simply horrifyingly. My colleague had been strangled with a telephone cord, presumably by someone she knew.

I just don’t know the answers. I wish I did. What can I do?

Well, I can continue to do what I’m doing. I can give my students a hug or high-5 when they walk into the classroom. I can help them feel safe when they are at school. I can teach my preschoolers to be kind to each other; to share; to not hit; and when something happens, to say, “I’m sorry.” I can help start them on the right path.

Even the mayor of Chicago must have (belatedly) remembered what he learned as a child. When you do something wrong, you need to apologize.

Rahm Emanuel

Will peace ever come to Chicago? I’m not sure it can. But here’s something else I can do; I can hope.

Join us for the month of December with these #SpinCycle writing prompts. Be sure to add the Spin Cycle button to your blog post to tell others about the Spin Cycle!

Week of Dec. 7-11 : Peace
Week of Dec 14-18 : Joy
Week of Dec. 21-25 : Love
Week of Dec. 28-Jan. 1: New

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming
Visit my blog to get the code in my sidebar. Add it to your blog post!





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