What Matters Most / Prioritizing

Making Priorities

Faith/Family

Forgiveness. Redemption. Grace. Kindness. Among many others, these are words that mean much to me. Being responsible for a family unit is quite a burden to bear which is why I believe the next few points are incredibly important. Responsibility weighs heavily on the shoulders of those who choose to accept the load. (and sometimes there’s no choice)

It has been said that ‘the two greatest days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why’. God created you with a purpose in mind (2 Corinthians 5:5). Indeed there are big plans for me.

Sleep

My body has an internal alarm clock prompting me to go to bed at 8:30pm. Every. Single. Night. Like my dad, I’ve always been a morning person. It has served me well! 9 hours is my optimal, pre-programmed amount of sleep necessary for a fully functioning day. I’m a light sleeper and have little trouble falling asleep, but find difficulty in staying asleep.

This may sound like I put way too much priority on knowing about my own sleep patterns. However, recognizing the importance of sleep and how it affects your body is something I think many take for granted. Sleep – or lack thereof – is attributed to weight, outlook on life, stress, and disease. When we sleep, our bodies recuperate from innumerable daily encounters with germs, people, and events, as well as prepare us for days ahead. Personally I think consistent sleep schedules are one of the most important ways to set up children for success.

Running

As I’ve probably mentioned before, streaking is such a confidence booster. Even when it’s only 1 mile a day, the proof is tangible. Typically I notice a difference 2 weeks into it – I’m lighter on my feet, stamina is high, and the urge to keep running is overwhelming. Although I despise treadmill running, the routine (aka priority) of running at lunch (aka runch) is much needed. My lunch hour at work is nearly sacred. Soon enough, you can find me back on the roads near the office happily making the rounds.

Badminton!

It’s important mini sees me doing what I love. Running helps in many ways: decreases anxiety, increases the feel-good hormones, and recharges my people’ing batteries. We all need an outlet, if you will. Mine is found inside a pair of running shoes.

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I ask you –

How many hours of sleep do you average nightly?

What is your outlet?

Share a priority I may have missed here!

Day(s) in Photos, pt 29

Finally found a huge pretzel! It’s not pretzel bites, but it will do for the time being.

When I have time on my hands, I attempt to decorate them.

Beer shoes?!? Brooks outdid themselves this time. I feel like these shoes speak volumes to runner’s priorities.

Although I love the below list of words, I feel as if it’s missing one: whackadoo!

Credit: @hardcorecomedy2.0 via Instagram

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – ta da!!! 2 years of Gummies netted me a whole hour of unlimited line boosts. I was super excited by this prize until I realized it was not the same as a whole hour of unlimited lives. So in approximately 12 mins I was out of lives and had to wait 10+ mins to get another life, repeat, etc.

I really need to get help.

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I ask you –

On a scale of 1 to no longer being my friend, how much do you love huge pretzels?

What word is missing from the list?

Honest opinions only: is my Gummy addiction out of control?

An Open Letter

…to the pretzel shop in our rather dismal, dying mall.

Dear Pretzel Peoples, I really needed you to come through for me. Let me explain: my kindergartner just finished her first full week of school. Earlier in the week, this child (my child) who rarely asks for anything, asked – politely – if we could go to the mall this weekend to get pretzel bites. As any proud mom would do, I smiled and replied affirmative. The weekend came. After many other unexplainable events of which were not her fault, we arrived at said mall to purchase said pretzel bites. “The ones that are all buttery and delicious”, she said. Unbeknownst to us, your pretzel bite location was closed. To my shock, I read the posted sign detailing your legal and financial woes. As my young child stared in horror at the darkened heat lamps and noticeable lack of “buttery pretzel bite” smell, the realization began to sink in. There would be no pretzel bites for her today. And, according to the date in March 2021, there had not been any pretzel bites in quite some time. I hope you understand this: I get it. Times are hard, the economy is a rollercoaster, the list goes on. But I made a promise to a young lady who had her heart set on pretzel bites. Yes, the buttery, delicious ones. Of which you let me down. You, pretzel people, did not hold up your end of the bargain. Therefore, I had a sad, disappointed, mildly angry child to explain to, in an age-appropriate way, why there would be no pretzel bites today. I SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION! You should be ashamed of the second-best option I presented to her. Sure, cookies and smoothies and coffee are some of her favorite things. To be honest, they are some of my favorite things, as well. However, they were not pretzel bites! They were not what I promised. You should make this right. Sincerely, the mother of a pretzel bite-loving girl.

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I ask you –

Have you ever made a promise you couldn’t fulfill but which was completely out of your control?

Do you enjoy pretzel bites?

Please pass this on to anyone you may know whom owns a pretzel bite business. They need to know how important this business is to at least one young girl.

Childhood Favorites

“Hot Jello Water” – the process of drinking the jello before you ever put it in the refrigerator to solidify. To be fair, as kids we called it Hot Jello, but mini coined it Hot Jello Water so here we are. HJW was a childhood staple/treat whenever we were sick. I think mom found a way to get calories and sugar inside our little bodies. Fun fact: my little human doesn’t like jello. Really, I didn’t know this was possible. But she loves some hot jello water!

I don’t have a photo for this next item. Even if I did, the photo would do it no justice. My mom’s famous – only to me – Mexican Casserole. Think layers of corn tortillas, cheese, and a ground beef/green chili mixture. I realize the simplicity of these ingredients, but for some reason whenever I try to recreate this dish it just isn’t “right”. Whenever I hear the words Mexican casserole, this meal immediately comes to mind but no one makes it like mom does.

Mini doesn’t know it yet but this final food will become a staple at all sleepovers and girls’ nights we ever host. The most clever name my sister and I ever came up with was “Frozen Banana Things”. To hear my mom tell the story, her mother would make these when she (my mom) and her siblings were young. Basically, you stab a single, sliced banana piece with a toothpick, top with a marashino cherry, (one banana slice, one cherry per toothpick) and assemble banana-down on a rimmed baking sheet. Then, you pour lemon juice in the baking dish until the banana slices are almost covered. Freeze the entire baking sheet until bananas are frozen. To eat, break apart (if necessary) each frozen banana thing.

Missing: cherries

According to my childhood friends, they’re addictive; a perfect sweet, sour treat. I haven’t had them in years, but I still remember the joy of making and sharing these late at night. Soon enough, the pitter patter of little feet sneaking them from the freezer will be heard. But first, rest!

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I ask you –

What childhood dishes did you enjoy?

Is there another name for the Mexican casserole I mentioned? It’s similar to King Ranch Chicken Casserole.

Share ideas for ingredients that don’t seem to go together but work well! Lemon juice and bananas!

I Wasn’t Ready!

Well, it happened. I don’t know yet how I feel about it, but it didn’t wait on me to decide. Kindergarten just sprang up, like a sudden slap in the face. You’re overly dramatic, Kel. Yesterday she was a baby, today is Day 3 of the beginning of her not needing me anymore. Sigh. If she’d just sleep in her own bed, I might not complain so much. Fat chance.

“Remember when you won Bluejacket of the Quarter?” No, actually, I didn’t remember that until you mentioned it. Reminiscing on my time in the Navy can be something else. The Air Force does an event called a Release Party when Airmen promote. I find this interesting because the Navy celebrates everything with cake. I don’t know about you, but I prefer cake to a party any day. I love cake!

So I’ve been sick for weeks now it seems. And as soon as I get well, then someone else in our house gets sick. If we could all just be well at the same time I’d really appreciate it.

My run streak is broken. A tragedy. See above sickness. I could have ran, I know I could have. But I didn’t. I just wanted to get well! In other related news, my running friend, Morgan from Oregon, has an interest in running Run the Rail. In the late 1990’s, two railroads, the Union Pacific and the Chaparral, decided to cease active service and “railbanked” this stretch of rail bed making it available for non-motorized activities, hence the 6th annual Run the Rail Half Marathon. This year will be the first time a marathon distance is offered. I’m considering running with Morgan, but the decision needs to be made like…NOW…because there’s only 6 weeks until this race and I’m currently training at a max 5k distance.

Day 2

First day of school takeaway: lunch is the best part of the day. Can’t argue. I guess it was so great she left her thermos in the cafeteria and decided to eat school-offered lunch vice taking her own on the second day. In her defense, Friday was pizza day.

Anybody else remember school pizza? It was amazing!

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I ask you –

What year did you graduate high school?

Do you have little people in school? What grades?

Tell me your favorite school meal!

Reflections

Something about knowing my daughter is now – pretty much – solely in my care has flipped a switch inside my brain. I don’t get the usual anxiety-ridden moments of overwhelming sadness yet simultaneous lack of patience feeling lately. Knock on wood. Her whole life has been spent on a week on/week off, month on/month off schedule and although she may be accustomed to it as best she can be, it really wears on adults, too. The lack of fretting about jamming months’ worth of activities, snuggles, and meal plans into 30 days is a relief. I understand I can only speak to my side of this story. Mini’s dad is definitely dealing with some big emotions because she’s not with him regularly. Everyone does the best they can, but I can’t imagine how tough it is on the parent(s) who relinquish time with their children.

Characteristics of the wise: friendliness, listening, and justice. Power resides in the people who don’t let others control their emotions. This is huge! These days the divisiveness that exists is enough to make me scream. Rather than unity, our world is experiencing an upheaval most of us have never experienced. Sure, we’re but one generation of many; however, this world is our children’s future. It’s scary to consider. When I think about big events impacting my life until this point, it almost follows a predictable path. In my 20’s, I thought it was the best time in my life. I had independence, tangible goals, and I discovered myself. Age 25 was, by far, the wildest year ever – the stories that come from it are so uncharacteristic of me.

baking with Madam Butterfly

When mini was born, I was exactly 30 and it brought about a whole other era. Halfway through my 30’s now, I consider this the decade of finding the best everything. Solid career, raising a clone, doing the dance mom thing, but still searching for what will make my next chapter in life successful. Others say their 40’s is the prime of life. Still some say 50’s. Definitely subjective. Recently I had a conversation regarding how many people you knew from Kindergarten do you now consider successes? The definition of success ranged from seeing the world/leaving your home town to serving in the military to becoming a professional in a notable field, like medicine. Please note: obviously we all measure success differently and by no means must you do any of the above to feel successful. Just waking up each day is a success in my book!

Being an adult means there’s a level of respect I don’t think I deserve. Whenever I tell “kids” to do something, I fully expect them to say something along the lines of “Who put you in charge? Who do you think you are? You’re a kid, too!” I’m completely amazed – and silently pleased with myself – when people listen to me, as if I know anything! This is my success.

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I ask you –

Does reflecting feel like a walk down memory lane or a lesson in futility?

When was your “prime” and why do you feel that way?

Name one element of “success”! Learning to enjoy wine.

Marching to the Beat

My how the tides have turned. Are turning. Being turned? Right. Whatever.

As I begin to order leotards and make plans to purchase ballet shoes, I realize it’s definitely happening. Where has the time gone? The writing was always on the wall. Mini has had an interest in dance and performing arts since she exited the womb. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, Kel. Close enough. Her little body moves and sings of its own accord – her joy is nearly palpable.

(I own no rights or credit to the music)

Who knows where it came from, but we all try to encourage it. I’m not tone deaf, I can follow – everything else is 50/50 – and I know nearly every Frozen/Moana/Brave/other mainstream Disney movie song. Sounds like success to me!

The toughest part, in my opinion, is nurturing her love for a sport (activity) I didn’t experience as a child. We’ve had the discussion about commitment aka if I pay for this, then you’re going to have to commit to it for the duration of the lessons. I was met with an “Ok, Mommy” knowing full well there will inevitably be a struggle somewhere down the line; I’m prepared. I remember playing softball as a kid (I sucked, btw) and begged to quit halfway through the season but my parents encouraged (explained harshly) I would finish the season. It was a good lesson to learn.

Ballet shoes and tutus

“Start and end with a positive and encouraging note; but have the courage to deal with the issues.” Much like any conversation: if we firmly, yet gently, encourage our children then the bumps in the middle are just par for the course.

Where’s that parent manual I was promised?!

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I ask you –

Did you catch my (few) sport references?

What’s your advice for encouraging an active child? Dan, I know you’re reading this!

Best guess on how many pairs of shoes she’ll run – no pun intended – through in a season! 4!

Is this the…Tipping Point?

Podcast debut! The Modern Idiot (affectionately acronym’ed TMI) graciously invited me as a guest onto their pod. What a fun night! Spoiler alert: one half of the dynamic duo who hosts this podcast was a US Navy classmate. We have history, you could say.

In the same weekend, an old article I wrote for a different blog, Pregnant and Perfect, was reposted by a surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. This may not sound like a celebratory moment for anyone else, but the fact it’s still relevant information is astounding. When I mentioned this article to my sister, even she said she didn’t remember anyone using or sharing info on maternity belts when she was pregnant with her children, 16 and 14 years ago, respectively. Don’t ask me how I they’re so old. I don’t know. Granted it may not help with all pregnancy-related issues, but my personal belief is using a maternity belt regularly during the workday and when I expected to be on my feet for prolonged periods of time was key to a lack of stretch marks and ligament pain during my own pregnancy because it lifted my belly up and back which helps with posture and pain. Much like a girdle, it’s not sexy by any means but it gets the job done!

“It was not the perspective of the painting that had been wrong all these years, it was the perspective of the people looking at it.” I fully realize this post is behind in the publishing process because the above events happened nearly a month ago. For those that don’t know, I make it a practice to wait a few weeks to post, if possible, to protect mine and my family’s privacy. And it helps me to disconnect.  So I waited on this post for one reason: I needed to step back in order to not get consumed with doing too much at once. Granted, it took me how many weeks to get a merchandise page going (nearly 2 years of weeks). But anyway…

About the painting? I don’t know. I don’t paint. I can barely walk and chew gum. You get the idea.

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I ask you –

Have you listened to my podcast episode yet? Your thoughts?

Do you paint? Draw? Chew gum?

Other bloggers: tell me how much time typically passes between writing and publishing your posts.

How to Vacation and Why People Suck at it

Alternative title option: How to try to vacation and why most people generally suck at it. But, I once read something about how concise titles draw more attention.

Briefly I considered the 1,000+ emails that were surely awaiting me upon return from my beach vacation. So I drowned out the thought with ice cream sandwiches and the like.

Blue Bell Pecan Pralines and Cream

Circa 2020, when I took a similar beach vacation, I fielded no less than 4 phone calls and did some “telework”. I’d like to think it was because my job really needed me, but it was probably more like I didn’t set any boundaries. Lesson learned.

This year I ensured work was where I left it, approximately 12 hours away. With the instructions: don’t call me, I’ll call you. And I never called. If my coworker can go away for 2 weeks and leave incompetent me to hold down the fort, then she definitely doesn’t need me to help her. As my sister chatted away on another work call, I rolled my eyes and packed for another day oceanside.

Shell shocked

(I’m only sort of sorry these posts sometimes seem out of order because I jump around a lot.) I write like I talk – with many ideas swirling around at once. You should see what I deal with at work. Geez.

Anyway…people suck. I mean…suck at vacationing, getting away, unplugging, being around people. I love to fly. Because airplane mode is expected. Turning my phone off was my favorite part of being out to sea. And the battery lasts forever when only used as an alarm clock! Occasionally we’d get computer access to check email but optimal hours were midnight to 2am so choices had to be made. Sleep / no sleep.

Focus, Kel. How many cups of coffee have I had today? I can’t remember. Must be the lack of blood in my sugar stream. We found the cutest coffee shop, Cafe Karma, on the island. Apparently they got the memo for a book nook meets ice cream shop meets coffee house. And the chai tea latte was amazing! Good thing my small, local town also has a great coffee shop. And they’re super inexpensive!

Smash House Coffee

Really, I don’t know “how” to vacation; I just wing it. Eat all the food, drink all the drinks, and avoid any work-related thoughts. It can be tough to step away, but we all need time and space to recharge.

Next time, I’m leaving my phone at home.

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I ask you –

Do you think you know how to unplug?

On average, how much coffee do you drink daily?

Name one coffee shop requirement (not coffee)!