Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fantasy Football Wrap Up

2005: 3rd Place
2006: 7th Place
2007: 2nd Place
2008: 5th Place

I think I am finally ready to talk about my Fantasy Football season. Do you see the pattern? In our league, I finished in third place our first year. We had a small league that year - only eight teams. It's not hard to field a strong team with only eight managers. But as a football novice, and the only female manager, I was pleased with my finish.

2006 was a weak year - seventh place. I just couldn't get into any sort of rhythm with my team. But in 2007, I made it to the final game - the championship. I just couldn't hold on for a win. Second place.

2008 started well. I was in first place for eight weeks of the season. I thought I had a chance. But the playoffs killed me. I had the highest points for the league over the whole season, but could only bring home fifth place.

I noticed a pattern - good year (3rd), crummy year, good year (2nd), crummy year. If the pattern held, I would be winning it all in 2009. I even considered retiring after my win and taking over the draft for my husband so he could focus his energy that day on his team. And I had a good season. I won the "Blowout of the Week" seven times, including a four game run from weeks 12 through 15. I finished the regular season in second place. I did well in the playoffs and made it to the championship game.

If you follow football, you might remember some news and controversy during week 16 of the regular season. My Packers had a great game that week (48-10 over Seattle). In fact, they were doing so well that they pulled their starters, including my star Fantasy Football quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, before the end of the game. That was fine - actually, a pretty classy move by the team when others in the league try to stuff every score down the throats of their opponent, even when they have solidly won the game (*cough* Vikings *cough*).

The Colts also played that day... well, sort of. They were in the middle of an undefeated season but decided to "save" their starters for the playoffs, so they pulled them early in the game against the Jets. The boos rang long and loud that afternoon. If you listened closely, though, you might have heard a sorrowful wail above it all. 

That was me. I lost my Fantasy Football championship game by six points. Six. A number easily overcome by any of the guys who were pulled before the end of their game. My "pattern" didn't work at all. I finished in second place.

I guess if the good year-bad year pattern holds, I'm in for another low finishing year for 2010. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed for 2011.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers - Quality #4 is Service

I have been blogging about Christina Katz' 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers since the first of the year. This week's quality is Service.

Her description of service is two-fold. There is the service you provide to others - things like following through on commitments, giving people clear expectations, etc. There is also the service you provide to yourself - rest, balance, reasonable expectations, and grace when you (inevitably) screw up. 

I come by my perfectionism honestly - I'm an only child. And for me that perfectionism takes two forms. Either I don't try things because I know I can't get them just right or I kick myself over and over and over again when I get things wrong. 

For me, the first part of the description is "easy" - it comes more naturally. It is good business and good manners. The second part - balance and grace - takes more work

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Focus is a beautiful thing!

The weekly question from The Prosperous Writer last week was about focus. How do you feel when you are focused or when you re-focus?

I love that feeling of focus - whether it is focus on a new goal or a re-focus on something you've lost sight of. I am routinely juggling multiple projects. I have my household-management responsibilities like laundry, shopping, paying bills, tracking expenses, etc. I sub at my son's school which is a job I enjoy but it often crops up at the last minute which can lead to lost focus. I lead a weekly writing club for kids in second through sixth grades. I have my own writing "career" I work on in spurts. I have three blogs. One of those is a book review blog, so I am reading regularly to have material to review. I like to create things with my hand - cards, scrapbook pages, cross stitch, and some failed attempts at knitting.

Most days I am a master juggler. I have a weekly to do list and a semi-regular routine. But when that routine gets rocked, I am a quivering lump of unfocused nerves. I feel overwhelmed and don't know what thread to pick up to start unraveling the mess. For me, this is one of the worst feelings ever. 

But finding a focus - a few goals to guide my priorities, a list, a plan - is like ice cream on a sweltering summer day. That is part of why I love January and a new year. It is an opportunity to start again, set new priorities, think through what is manageable, and make a plan. Focus is a beautiful thing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And Reality Sets In

As I sat in my living room Friday talking to my husband about my divided focus and my penchant for starting many things and finishing few, I determined that I plan too many things to reasonably complete in the time I give myself. Tomorrow I am blogging about focus, but this weekend was a lesson in focus - in determining my highest priorities and letting go of good but unessential things.

For example, while I would love to learn to knit and crochet (in fact I have needles and yarn for both), they aren't essential. I'm going to pack the supplies away for another season in life. I am still holding out hope to make a quilt this year, but I realize that it may not happen and I am trying to be okay with that. I am going to read and read and read because books are my passion. If I focus my attention on a few key things, I can do them well rather than spread my time out and do everything "fine" or "okay" and nothing "well."

I have been hard on myself about writing and submitting and seeking publication. At the same time I realize that I am still learning. I don't want to walk away from writing, but I need to focus on what I can do right now - finish a two-year writing class this June (investing in my lessons rather than throwing them together), blogging well, and writing about things that inspire me or capture my attention no matter what I end up doing with them. 

I am going to let go of the Comment Challenge I have been doing this month. I have discovered some great blogs that I intend to follow. I have discovered a TON of books I intend to read some day. I plan to keep reading these blogs and commenting on things that speak to me. But I have discovered that I am using a lot of my limited time on that Challenge and I need to let it go.

Don't be surprised if I have to have this learning experience all over again some time soon. I am easily drawn into the next new thing, certain that I can "do it all." But for today, I am inspired by renewed focus and purpose and ready to jump in.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Valentine's Day Crafts - day 2

At my son's school last year, they  had to make a Valentine's box. We made this one out of a paper mache box from Hobby Lobby and some Styrofoam balls, paint and pipe cleaners. It won 3rd place. 

Not to be outdone, I decided to make one for my classroom, too. (I taught part time last year.) I love Grover and this was pretty simple to make. This was a Kleenex box that I spray painted blue. Then I cut one long side so it opens, like Grover's mouth. Styrofoam balls, paint and pipe cleaners helped me out, too.


We used this idea from Family Fun magazine for my son's Valentines. The hardest part was finding the candy! The rest is just gray carstock and adhesive.

And I made these for my students. I typed up a simple message, printed them, cut them out, and matted them with black cardstock. I stamped and heat embossed the owl. (The stamp is from Hero Arts.)

We are still waiting to see what this year's teacher will do for Valentine's Day. We may be making another box! My son has already decided to print up the owl valentines and book marks I posted on Thursday to give to his friends. Simple and inexpensive but still cute and fun! 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Valentine's Crafts - day one

It's getting to be that time of year. I am noticing great Valentine's day crafts around the web. Thought I would share some with you.

Make your own candy box.

Free Owl cards and bookmarks- I found out about this one at UCreate, which is a great blog. I also found these Sandwich toppers and matching valentines from the same spot. Too cute!

Valentine with stick of gum - from a fun site called the Creative Itch Boutique with some great craft ideas. She also posted pixie-stix valentines. This blogger is also the source of the make-your-own-candy-box link above. Great stuff!

Magnetic Valentine bookmarks 

Saturday I will post some of the things we did for Valentine's Day last year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year's tradition

One of our New Year's traditions is to print a 20x30 poster with pictures highlighting our year. I first did this in 2007, which was a super busy year of concerts and vacations and events. It was a great year to document in a large format that anyone could see when they came to the house. 2008 and 2009 weren't years with huge events, but the idea of savoring each year for what it brings seemed like a great one. 

I print my posters through Snapfish. I can chose up to 30 pictures from my uploaded pictures, chose my text, font, background color and size of border. This year they even added a feature where you can keep shuffling the pictures until you get a layout you like. My first layout had the peacock picture taking up a good bit of one side of the poster. I thought it was beautiful, but it wasn't the best representation of our year, so I shuffled it around a few times. 

If you are organized enough to have your pictures all uploaded right after Christmas, you can usually take advantage of year end coupons or special pricing to get a better deal on the poster. One this large isn't cheap.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Goals and Plans

Last week I mentioned my monthly goals for 2010. Some of my other plans are

  • Develop a plan for my blogs. I have a schedule right now, but I don't always feel like I am giving my best to all three at every moment. I have some resources that I want to read and I want to create a plan that is sustainable and provides a quality experience for me and for my readers. And I would like to attract more readers. Part of my planning will be to look at other platforms and resources to see what is best to help me blog into the future.
  • I want to make a quilt in 2010. I have wanted to quilt for ages. This is the year I am going to do it, even if it is no bigger than a pillow. I also want to learn to knit and crochet, even if I only do it enough to make a scarf with each, although I do dream of knitting a pair of socks some day.
  • Complete some half-done craft projects. I had over-enthusiastic intentions in 2009. I would like to finish some of what I started.
  • Read The Chronicles of Narnia. I still have never read any of these books. I planned to read them in 2009 and never did. I am wondering if my son and I might read them as part of our summer plans while we are home during the days.
  • Improve money management. I always aspire to save more and pay off things that hang over our heads. I would love to some day go back to school (when I figure out what I want to be when I grow up), but that requires planning and diligence now to make that a possibility later.

Still thinking through your 2010 goals? Share them here! I would love to hear about them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 in a word

Several years ago I caught on to the practice of setting a word for the year - a guiding hope or principle to shape my focus and intentions. I originally got the idea from Ali Edwards and was reminded of it this year by Kal, who writes one of my all-time favorite blogs.

I picked a word two years in a row, and then last year picked a bunch - I even stitched them onto a pillow. This year I am back to one word - SAVOR.

My Sunday school class was reading a book called Pause, which talks about living in the moment. In church a couple Sundays ago, one of the pastors had us just stop, close our eyes, push away thoughts of whatever was coming next (lunch, the football game, etc) and just breath in and out and be in the moment. I am terrible about being in the moment. I am usually 20 moments ahead of myself, thinking through what I am doing tomorrow or next week or next month. I also realized a few weeks ago, as Christmas break was coming to a close, that I probably should have been more engaged with my son while he was off school, rather than digging so deeply into my own projects. He is only going to this age once. Pretty soon he won't want to snuggle on my lap or tell me everything he is thinking.

So, in 2010 I want to slow down and savor - savor my food rather than rushing through meals barely noticing what I eat. Savor my family by truly listening and engaging in conversation rather than nodding and wondering 10 minutes later what I agreed to. Savor the moments to myself and use them to do things that feed my spirit rather than wonder where the day went and what I have to show for it that was meaningful.

So, my word for 2010 is savor. What word would you choose?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Christina Katz is posting the 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers in her weekly e-zine The Prosperous Writer. This week she talks about self-respect.

In summary, she says that self-respect will help you set appropriate priorities for yourself and your family (rather than others or urgency setting priorities for you), take yourself and your writing seriously, and help you keep your sanity. I think these things apply more broadly to life than just in writing.

She asked her readers to rate themselves on a 1 to 10 scale regarding self-respect. I would put myself at a 6. I can say no, but usually feel some level of guilt. I am susceptible to flattery, so when someone says I would be good at something, I feel obligated to say yes even if I ultimately say no. I am learning to listen to trusted voices in my life who are very comfortable encouraging me to say no to distractions and yes to my personal priorities. This is something I can definitely work on in the coming year!

Monday, January 11, 2010

BONUS BLOG: Reading Challenges

This month I have signed up for several reading challenges. You can read about them here and track my progress on the side bars of this blog and my book blog.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best Intentions

I have talked already this year about some of my goals for 2010. What I didn't mention was how I did on my goals and plans for 2009. In a word, lousy.

In 2009 I wanted to
  • Journal more - at least once a week. I did not do this. At least a third of my journal is empty.
  • Blog regularly - This was actually a good goal for me. Even with adding new blogs, I stayed on a good schedule.
  • Send my son to private school this school year. Thanks to a lot of help, we were able to do this. It is a wonderful environment for him. While I haven't written it down, it is a goal to have him there again this fall.
  • Submit 15 pieces of writing. Progress? Zero. Pathetic, really. It all comes down to fear.
  • Lose 20 pounds. Everyone has goals like this. I did not do anything to make this happen.
  • Cut debt in half. This did not happen either.
  • Complete writing Bible study in January. I did this. It was really good. I have another one I hope to do this year.
  • Finish Write is a Verb with my SIL. We did this. This was also a really good resource. We are working on Plot and Structure right now, although we took a break for NaNoWriMo and the holidays.
  • Memorize 12 passages of Scripture. I started with a big one - 1 Corinthians 13 - and only made it half way through before quitting.
  • Read Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and at least half of my TBR (to be read) stash. I read Harry but that was it.
  • Laugh, play, write, read, teach, learn, pray, move,listen, sing, create, hug, save, remember. I would liked to have created, wrote and saved more, but essentially this was a good list and 2009 was a great year.

I hope to do a little better with my goals for 2010, but I think it is better to have made a plan and only completed part of it than to have had no aspirations at all and lived up to them.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


One of my favorite writing resources is Christina Katz, the Writer Mama. She has authored two books - The Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal. She is a blogger who recently merged several blogs and newsletters into one.

In her January issue of her newsletter, "The Prosperous Writer," Christina asked, "Who do you dedicate your writing to in 2010?" Fascinating question. I never really thought about this. I generally write for me. That is probably one of the reasons that I don't submit my writing to anyone other than my writing mentor.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized I wanted to dedicate my writing in 2010 to my son. When I signed up for NaNoWriMo last November and endeavored to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, my seven-year-old was skeptical. When I finished, he said, "I knew you might do it." Resounding support, huh? But I would like him to see me push forward and keep making progress on this writing dream of mine. I would like him to see me work at something and have it pay off over time. I would like him to see me model perseverance, which is something we talk to him about quite a bit.

So, I dedicate my writing, and my writing goals and aspirations in 2010 to my son. May he see me work and follow through and not give up and take risks this year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Planning Ahead

Happy 2010! I hope your New Year was happy and healthy and safe.

I love a new year. There is something
about the fresh start and potential of a new year that makes me giddy. For the last couple weeks I have been brainstorming goals and plans for the new year. It is a great time to start new projects.

I made a new journal for the new year - something I did in 2007 for a class at Big Picture Scrapbooking and have kept up ever since. Each year has a different design. This year I went back to a monthly format. I divided the journal into 12 sections, one for each month. That way I can keep track of my monthly goals. In retrospect, I wish I had done something else, though. In 2008, I had a list of things for each month, so I set the monthly sections up with a couple pages each at the front of the journal. That way I could "journal" in the section after the monthly tabs without worrying about running into the next section. I didn't think that through this time. Oh well. I love how it turned out and will make the best of things.

My monthly goals are:
  • Read one writing book from my stash. I have a shelf of writing books that are gathering dust. I want to concentrate on one each month this year so I can make use of the material I have at my disposal. In January I am reading A Novel Idea.
  • Memorize a verse of scripture. For January I chose Galatians 6:4-5 from The Message.
  • Submit three pieces of writing to a publisher. I have toyed with this writing thing for too long. It is time to jump in. Three is a very small number, but doable regardless of how much I am subbing or how intense my parenting load is.
  • Prepare one song to sing for church. For January I chose Savior, Please. I only sing once or twice a year at church, but I love to sing. By setting a goal, I can really dig into a new song, memorize it, have it ready in case I am asked to sing. In reality, this is probably more about me making time to sing for myself rather than about performing a song at church (which makes me a nervous wreck).

I have other goals and plans, but I will save those for another blog entry. If you set some goals for yourself, post them here. I love to hear what others are working on.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

I will be taking a blogging break to enjoy the holiday season with my family. I will leave you with some thoughts on books and creativity. I will be back to blogging on January 5, 2010.

Quote comes from Wisdom Quotes

The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there. ~ Monica Baldwin