Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning and List making

***Be warned: I was so excited about this entry that I got carried away. This is a looong blog entry. I didn't realize how much I felt like talking about my planning and list-making. You don't have to read it. Plus, it makes me seem like a crazy person.***

I love my planner. It's a beautiful red leather book from Franklin Covey. Sean gave it to me for Christmas in 2007, and each year he supplies me with a new calendar insert. The red planner stays a home because it's my Life Planner...not to be mistaken with my Work Planner. Anyway, the feelings I get when I crack open my planner are comfort, peace, and calmness. Even if there are a million things for me to do, I find comfort in seeing them all laid out for me. Ahhhhhhhhhh...I love planning.

My planning is not a mental thought process. Well, obviously that's where it all starts...but really, my planning consists of one thing and one thing only: LISTS. Lists, lists, and more lists. Sometimes, even when I have the list squared away in my head, I still want to write its contents down on paper so I can look at the list...and be proud of the list...and feel comforted by the list. Wow, I am an honest-to-God crazy person, aren't I? It's just that, I have a major fear - Forgetting. What if my brain forgets the list? Or forgets one piece of the list? If I write the list down then I can see it. And if I can see it, I can't forget it. (unless, of course, I forget what I did with the list, but that's another story...)

Oh, I make lists of everything. Here is a list of some lists that I like:

- Weekend plans, which can include everything from cleaning to errands to dinner plans. On busy weekends I have to fight myself from doing and hour by hour agenda...because that would be TOO crazy.
- Christmas Lists - things I want, things I want to buy for other people. It's pretty straightforward.
- Party Planning Lists. There's nothing that makes me happier than planning a party! Listing out the menu is my favorite. I've gotten quite good at mapping out the buffet, showing exactly where each dish should go on the table. And I always list out the guests. You know, just so that I can SEE their name and so I don't FORGET anyone.
- Budget List - a spreadsheet of all our monthly expenses, estimated gas, eating out, groceries, etc. I check our bank balance almost's more of a compulsion. I know what it's going to say, but I check it anyway. And I try to balance the checkbook once a week. I edit the budget quite frequently. Each time we pay a bill, I mark it BOLD so that I know we're paid up.
- Purse List. This is the ongoing list of to-do items and tiny reminders that lives in my purse. Current contents of the Purse List are as follows:
. Scarf for ____
. Hat for ___
. Target - CD for ____ for ___
. Drywall repair @ Yellow house
. Paint stairwell @ Yellow house
.401k vs IRA
. Carroll address card
. Dad's videos
. Ann's pictures
. new ___ for Sean
. Transmission - replace a gasket on the pan (whatever that means...)
. Rent Public Enemies
. T-shirts for Alfred A.
. Etsy bridesmaid dress - 'amandaarcher' pleated collar dress
. yellow shoes
. replacement seal for under the doors
. socks
. CK free
. black shoes

BUT - the best list of all...the list I've kept going on a weekly basis for the past 2 years is my beloved List of Meals. I owe my sanity to the meal planning list! After a crazy day at work, I can stumble through the door and go straight to my List of Meals. Everything is there for me in black and white. No worrying about what to cook. No wondering what random items are waiting for me in the pantry. I know exactly what to make for dinner, I know that I have everything for the recipe, and I don't have to think twice about it. I don't even think ONCE about it! I don't think about it at's so wonderful.

I take time on Saturdays (or sometimes Friday night...such a party animal!) to think about proteins, carbs and vegetables. What type of fish do I feel like eating? Will we have red meat this week? What's a good meatless meal? Is asparagus in season? Can I sneak in some cous cous into the menu without Sean noticing? Do we have pre-arranged dinner plans already? After I've thought it all out then I start building my grocery list (another favorite list of mine). My grocery list is categorized by department. I would never list broccoli next to butter or frozen brussels sprouts next to bread. No siree! The list must be in sequential order based on the store layout. I mean, why would you do it any other way?

Not too long ago, I had my trusty grocery list with me at Publix. A man actually said to me, "You're using a list? Now there's a concept!" Um, hello Jerk - who DOESN'T use a grocery list?

My favorite magazine REAL SIMPLE stole my heart when they featured an article on One Month of Dinners. What? You're kidding me! One month of meals already planned out for me? Yes, and complete with a grocery list. I was in hog heaven...

My List of Meals is never set in stone. Just ask Sean - I cross things out and rearrange them all the time. Sometimes unexpected things come up that interfere with dinner - an emergency, a last-minute invite from a friend, or I just don't feel like cooking after a bad day at work. And so, I stay flexible with the meals. Here's what we're looking at for the next week or so:

. Perogies w/ warm apple & onion slaw
. Cranberry stuffed pork chops w/ roasted carrots and red onion
. Salmon w/ cous cous (Yes, I did it!) & lemon-cilantro vinaigrette
. Cuban braised beef w/ red peppers and rice
. Beef soft tacos w/ Spanish rice
. Italian-herb sauteed chicken w/ pasta marinara
. Date night - Dinner & Movie (We're going to see The Blind Side...and I'm going to cry...)
. Trey's Birthday dinner - bring a salad and rolls to go w/ the steaks
. Nonnie's Thanksgiving Feast - can't wait!

If you made it this far, then God bless you...and thank you for reading about my lists. I really do love them. If you aren't a list person, then maybe I inspired you to start a list of your own. It can change your life!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

heavy heart

I've been living with a heavy heart for the past month. Sad about my grandparents dying, obviously. Sad about my family - my mom, my aunt, and even my uncle. Just sad. Being so up close and personal with death makes you think weird things. Makes you ponder life, and worry, and wonder...

Life goes on, and my days have been normal for the most part. It's not like I'm crying every waking minute of the day. I'm just living with a heavy heart. That's the best way I can describe it. The sweet moments are bittersweet. The chilly days are just a little too cold.

Also, someone I work with lost their job, and it makes me sad and scared. I have been worrying about that person (and about my job) all weekend.

Even though it's not very exciting or happy news, I still wanted to post an update this weekend. There have been some bright moments in the midst of my gray clouds. One of my dear friends Crystal is expecting her first baby. It hasn't really sunk in for me yet. I'm in a state of disbelief - Crystal can't be pregnant! But hopefully her belly will keep growing, and that baby will be here soon enough. Crystal will be the first in my small group of three friends to be a mommy. Ugh, let the aging begin...

Nashville has been experiencing beautiful weather, and I'm so thankful for it - the blue skies keep my spirits higher. Sadly, yesterday was a very lazy Saturday at the Carrolls, and we didn't get outside to enjoy any fresh air! I was so disappointed in us. But, for some reason I just wanted to lay around in pj's ALLLLL day. We didn't even get showers. But, we did brush our teeth and wash up enough to go Christmas shopping at the mall. Today we got in gear and spent some time outside. Sean worked on his car, and I went for a run. I said hi to strangers, and stopped to watch the kids at the skate park. It was nice. I've been trying to slow down and savor those small moments of beauty.

We watched the last part of Dexter Season 3 last night and it was AWESOME! I also made a hemp bracelet for my brother. His 11th birthday is next week (ah! He's getting so old). I don't know why I wanted to make it for him, but I really hope he likes the bracelet. I've been wearing it and washing it so that it'll be nice and soft for him.

One week from today is the Hargis Family Thanksgiving Feast, and I'm really looking forward to a fun day and GOOD FOOD! All 18 of us (minus my cousin Adam because he's away at camp), will be at Nonnie's house. It's sad to think that she's the only living grandparent I have left. I'm glad that I only live 2 minutes from her (or an 8 min. jog if I'm feeling like some exercise). I just can't believe it's time for turkey already. Where has the year gone!?!? Also, a week from Wednesday we'll be making the 14 hour drive up to South Jersey to see the Carrolls for Turkey Day. While we're dreading the long car ride, we can't wait to see everyone. I'm really excited! I didn't expect to be going, but Sean surprised me and said that he wanted to make the trip.

Well, with these last 30 minutes before bed, I'm going to work on some Christmas knitting...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

For My Grandparents...

Me and Mimi in 2007

Papa in 2007. He was sick at this time, but hadn't been moved to a home yet. He had difficulty making basic conversation, and he barely knew who we were.

My sweet Papa passed away tonight. I'm sad that he's gone...but really, it was a blessing. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for the past 4 (?) years. He wasn't really living...he was just existing. Almost like a vegetable. It was terribly sad to see him suffer like that for so many years, and so, I'm relieved that he's moved on.
The timing of his death is no surprise. It's common for couples to pass within a few weeks of each other (at least I think it's common. Maybe I only believe that because of The Notebook.) Mimi visited Papa every day in the nursing home. And since her death just 3 weeks ago, his health diminished incredibly quickly. I know that Mimi's presence, her love and her care is what kept him hanging on.
Some people say that Papa was a saint. No doubt, he was a good man. Saint? I don't know...I think they only say that because he put up with Mimi for the majority of his life. The man had patience, that's for sure. He was a quiet man. I regret that I didn't know him very well, but he wasn't the kind of person that really opened up. Maybe he would've opened up, but Mimi was always talking, so he never really had a chance. He was a thinker and a doer. She was a talker and a lay-arounder.
Papa loved to label things and make lists. (An obsession that I'm positive I inherited from him.) He was brilliant - an engineer, I think. His handwriting was small and perfect. He enjoyed taking pictures...almost too much! He had tons and tons and tons of photo albums (all labeled, of course). He would document every detail of Thanksgiving pictures, right down to a picture of the dinner rolls. He loved sweets, and coffee ice cream was one of his favorites. He treated my Mimi like the princess she believed she was. He cleaned, cooked and did all of the grocery shopping while he was still able.
I hope that he lived a happy life. I really don't wasn't an easy life by any means. The family drama had to have taken a toll on him. From what I could see, he tried to be the calm, steady voice of reason in the family...and he was there to pick up the pieces. I guess it's all he could do.
It was a hard decision for Mimi when she chose to place him in a nursing home, but we all encouraged her to do it. It really was the best place for him, even though it seemed to increase the symptoms of his disease. Their home life with Roger was getting too strenuous. Plus, Mimi had trouble meeting Papa's needs (he couldn't do anything for himself like eat, shave or get dressed), and she had zero patience for his illness. Papa bounced from home to home, and was moved in and out of different facilities. His disease caused him to lash out at people, throw things, bite, etc. The nursing homes couldn't tolerate him after he became a danger to other residence. And so, they would kick him out. A lot of his behaviors were upsetting, but some of them were the time he strolled buck naked through the halls! He was the most quiet, respectful, well-mannered man that ever lived. He spent most of his life being overshadowed by my Mimi. And so, even thought he didn't realize what he was doing as he streaked the nursing home, I was proud of him. "You go, Papa! Let it all hang out!" I thought.

My mom, my aunt Susan, and my Mimi visited with Papa regularly. They did the best they could to keep him comfortable and cared for. I admire their dedication. I have to say, I shied away from visiting him because it was so difficult to see him like that. But, they faced it head on. The 3 of them fought over him...fought about his well-being, where he should say, what kind of medicine he needed. They even fought against doctors' bad decisions, and fought with directors of nursing homes. It wasn't easy for any of them, but they were there with him until the end.
I hope that I'm so blessed to have a family fighting for me and staying by my side when it's my time to pass. I know you probably hear things like this all the time, but each and every day that we're living right now is a gift.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Sean made an excellent point this morning: Rolling the clocks back should ALWAYS happen on a weekday. Who cares about sleeping an extra hour on the weekend? NO ONE. We didn't have a chance to truly appreciate that extra hour of sleep. The experience would've been much sweeter if the extra hour fell on a Monday morning. Anyway, it doesn't matter - my internal clock is still all out of whack.
This past week was busy and long, but it ended with a bang! I traveled to Springfield, MO to visit a customer on Tues/Wed. Four flights + a business meeting caused for a bit of mid-week anxiety. And because of my bereavement day and the business trip, things have been piling up on me at the office. I don't much like it. No one has complained and nothing has fallen through the cracks. Yet, I still feel like I'm doing a bad job because I haven't been 100% focused.
Still life is good. Here are some highlights from this week:
- The stupid Titans finally won their first game of the season.
- Sean is the proud owner of an iPhone! (he hasn't put it down...) He's been asking for an iPhone since it hit the shelves, so I encouraged him to go for it. I was happy for him and also quite relieved. If he didn't buy it for his birthday, it was bound to be a Christmas present...and I can't tell you how much I hate shopping for technology. ICK! I was dreading the day that I had to walk into the AT&T store. So, a big THANK YOU goes out to those who contributed to the birthday funds.
- I've been reading "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, and I really enjoy it. It's a quick and easy read, but it's full of wonderful relationship advice. I think every couple should read it! And in case you were wondering how to speak my love language, I think I'm an "Acts of Service" person.
- Let's not forget the biggest highlight of all - HALLOWEEN! We hosted a little gathering at our house, and enjoyed seeing all of our best friends decked out in costume. We didn't have as many trick-or-treaters as I expected, but the ones that we had were very polite! First, everyone said "trick-or-treat" so I was thrilled. You don't get candy at my house if you don't say the magic words. And almost everyone said "Thank you!" It was a major upgrade compared to those heathens in the city. Also, no one came dressed as a slut or a "student with a knife." (Yes, that was an actual costume one year.) Sean and I missed a lot of the kids because we were busy putting on makeup, but thankfully my sister was there to pass out the candy. She was a huge help! She reported that one kid was too scared of our house, so he passed us up. I was so proud...I think a tear came to my eye. Wait until next year, scaredy pants...It's only going to get better!!! Mwahahaha! But I digress...the party was lots of fun. I love costumes and I love our friends. And I even love my friends that didn't come in costume. Everyone gets a free pass...just don't let it happen again!
I wish I had more pictures to share because there were lots of fun costumes. With scissors for hands I was a bit handicapped. Even though we didn't have a dance-off, I hope everyone had a great time.
Sean wanted the house to look like a massacre, so I let him bloody up the front door. Don't worry, it washed off easily. I thought our yard decorations were killer (pun intended).

Our "mature" friends decided to capture their youth by dressing as hippies. Aren't they cute?

Sean was a magnificent Zombie Billy Mays. The costume is even better when you can hear his Billy Mays voice. It's spot on!

Sisters - Pink and Edward Scissorhands.

Me and my girls - Sherri as "Peyton from One Tree Hill going as the Angel of Death." It's a costume within a costume, and it makes my brain hurt. But she's hot! And Crystal as Scary Dead Doll. Doesn't she give you the creeps? Other popular guesses for Crystal's costume were Wendy's girl, Raggedy Anne, and a pirate. Wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

I truly loved Bobby's Bob Ross costume.

Our Boys: Keith as Mario, Sean as Zombie Billy Mays, and Bobby as Bob Ross