Monthly Archives: January 2008

Our January book club book is Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox. This autobiography is inspiring and extremely well written. I really enjoyed it.

As the public we only see the strong and well coping Michael J. Fox and it was good to read about his struggle to accept and live with Parkinson’s disease. It was a very long, tough personal journey for him. His relationship with Tracy and his father are endearing and telling.

Outside of Michael’s personal story, I thought the following quote from Lucky Man was very reflective of what young Hollywood actors and musicians are going through today. With the death of Heath Ledger and the fall of Britney Spears, we look for reason and answers to why this happens to so many.

“An actor’s burning ambition, when you think about it, is to spend as much time as possible pretending to be somebody else. For those of us lucky (or unstable) enough to become professional performers, the uncertainty about who we really are only increases. For many actors, this self-doubt is like a worm eating away at you and growing, incongruously, in direct proportion to your level of success. No matter how great the acceptance, adulation, and accumulation of wealth, gnawing at you always is the deep-seated belief that you’re a fake, a phony. Even if you can bull-shit your way through whatever job you’re working on now, you’d better prepare for the likelihood that you’re never going to get another one.”

Insecurities are something common to this bunch. Imagine living your life under that sort of scrutiny, pressure and self loathing for just one day, let alone years on end. You would likely lose it as well.

Lucky Man also addresses the foundation that he formed. Although he never saw himself as an activist, he has formed an amazing organization who is actually in the business of getting results.

Support the fight for a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

I have a very active brain, it never stops or shuts up, so without my career to keep it stimulated, it goes a little nuts some times. This year, I have really limited the time I am committing to anything business related and my mind has way to much time on its hands. I decided it was time to learn how to be a good housewife and spend more quality time with kids. Also, between the kids and the house and the play dates and school commitments and just trying to get some sleep and a few stolen minutes to myself, there is no way that I could meet a deadline. I feel like I am slowly coming out of this fog and hope I am ready to take on some freelance work as early as this summer.

Anyway, I digress. What am I addicted to, you ask? Puzzles. Specifically number picture puzzles. They are called hanjie, picture sodoku, paint-doku, crosspix etc. Whatever you want to call them, I am addicted. I can’t help myself. I find myself doing them either on paper or online, whenever I get the chance. It keeps my mind working, but is sometimes a distraction.

I play at griddlers.net. They have thousands of puzzles with a ton of variety, from simple to extremely challenging. One of my favorite things is that they have color puzzles. These are way more fun to solve and make really pretty pictures. As a premium member, you can upload your own images and convert them to puzzles. All of these are then available to all of the free members as well, so there is a constant supply of new puzzles.

My only gripes are that it only works in IE and sometimes the server is a little slow. They have introduced a new applet that you can get for $5 a month or you can play on the regular server for free. Seems fair to me.

More of a paper and pencil person? Check out these books.

My good friend started a book club about 2 years ago. This is really the only regular activity I have outside the house that doesn’t involve the kids (oh and the gym, but come on that doesn’t really count). I know, pretty sad, but I am working on it.I would really recommend book clubs to any avid reading mommies out there. It pushes your limits on what you read and provides stimulating conversation.

We choose our books for the year at our annual holiday party and I am really excited about this years picks. Lots of non-fiction this year, which is interesting.

To pick our books, each member brings a list of the books (or the actual books if they own them) that they are interested in recommending for their book club meeting (each member hosts book club once per year, which entails choosing the book and hosting the party). Each person then introduced their books to the group and when everyone was finished everyone chose one book from each person’s list/pile (we used check marks). The book from each persons picks with the most votes won and that was the choice.

This process was fun and worked really well, if you have a book club, I would really recommend this process for choosing books.

JanuaryLucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox – This is Michael J. Fox’s autobiography

FebruaryLife of Pi by Yann Martel – The story of an Indian boy and a tiger (that’s really all I can tell you or it will ruin it). This is my pick for the year and one of my favorite books of all time. The minute you finish it you will want to call someone who has read it, so make sure to read it with a friend or even better, with your book club.

March – Not decided yet

AprilInto the Wild by Jon Krakaur – The story of a man who goes out to live in the wilds of Alaska. They made a movie out of his story.

MayExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – I am really excited about this one. The story of a boy with autism from his own perspective. My nephew was recently diagnosed with autism and I am very interested in learning about it a little more intimately.

JuneThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Fictional tales of women from the bible told in the voice of Dinah. She tells stories of her four mothers, the wives of Jacob and then her own.

July – We take July off from reading, but this year we are going to have a summer BBQ and do the Please Understand Me personality test by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. This should be a fun and telling activity.

AugustBrothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women By Alexa Albert – The story of life at the mustang ranch in Nevada.

SeptemberInside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counterterrorist Unit by Eric Haney

OctoberEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

NovemberThe Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs – One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

December – Holiday party and choose books for next year.

No, my son isn’t walking yet. Thank god :)

I am talking about taking small steps toward the life that I choose. I find that when I look at the big picture as a whole, I get really overwhelmed. There is so much that I want to do and change that it just wades me down and paralyzes me. Theres stuff with the house, my health, the kids, the cleaning, what I am going to do about this and that and that and that.

So, I am trying to keep things in perspective and take life one step at a time. This is a process and not something that needs to happen overnight.

For example, this week I cleaned out two of the cabinets in my bathroom. This may seem a small thing, but for the last several months I would walk into the bathroom and say to myself “this is aweful, i need to clean out this old stuff” but then never do it.

I also washed all the hardwood floors this week. Now, I sweep and wet swiffer on a regular basis but the floors hadn’t been given a deep clean since before Ian was born.

I went to the gym twice this week as well.

Although these are small things, they are something and that is an improvement in and of itself. So my goal is to just do some things. Get up off my butt and do something I wouldn’t normally do every day.

As I write this, i realize I am sounding like a lazy apathetic person. This is not the case. I play an active roll in my life and in the lives of my kids. I am a good mom, I just feel like I am just getting by and wading through my life rather than flourishing and growing and being truly happy with who I am and where my place in the world is. I want more and am going out to get it.

Ok, call me a cheesedog, but this is one of my favorite movies. They just ran it on CMT and I tivoed it.

Hope Floats is the story of a woman and her daughter regaining their strength and getting their life back after the father/husband leaves for the woman’s best friend. It is a tear jerker I warn you, but the message of hope and moving on is a great one. I think the little girl and her attachment to her estranged father resonates with me and I identify with her pain as her father abandons her. I also relate to relationship between the mother and grandmother and their recovery from the pain from childhood.

The small town in Texas is also very alluring. Being from a small town, there is a part of me that longs for that small town environment and the simpler life that goes along with it.

Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr are excellent in this film and I would highly recommend it.

Grab your tissues and warm cup of tea and escape for a little while into this lovely film.

This week I have been establishing a family routine. I have done this in the past and although it has worked well for a little while, I always seem to fall astray and end up wading through days in a fuzzy delirium. I think this is due to two reasons.

First, I get into too much detail. I try to plan out every minute and what I should be doing at each point throughout the day. Although this is what my subconscious craves, we all know that with two small children I am just setting myself up to fail. So, this time I am using bigger chunks of time and more general ideas about what can happen during those times, also giving myself different options.

The second reason is as the kids change and my own circumstances change (I am working on a client’s site or not), either my schedule is not flexible enough to accommodate it or it needs to be changed entirely and I don’t do that and then it doesn’t work and we are back to square one.

So, this week I established a flexible routine that our days will follow so that the kids have predictability and stability in their day and I know what is coming next and have time set aside to do certain things. In some way, it makes me get more done. The wonder of lists. huh.

I am not saying that it is perfect and it will need to be tweaked and changed as circumstances change, such as I am expecting to start a project with a new client in late January or February or Ada’s school schedule changes in the summer or Ian stops taking a morning nap. I have test run it over the last couple of days and I think it is good for now, so here we go.

7:30 – 9:00 — kids get up, I shower, breakfast, get kids dressed and ready for morning activity

9:00-12:00 — Morning Activity. This varies from day to day. Some days it is school, some days it is some sort of class, some days it is staying home. I am working on a list of at home and outing morning activities. I would like to keep this either active or educational structured activity, not just laying around the house watching tv. Ian takes his morning nap during this time so it is a good chance to have time for just me and Ada or time for me to get some stuff done when she is at school.

12:00-2:00 — Lunch and hang out. These two hours seem to fly by for some reason so we are keeping it loose. When the weather starts to get nice, I am sure we will spend much of this time outside. One day a week i do grocery shopping during this time as well.

2:00-4:00 — Quiet time and Afternoon naps. Ada sometimes still naps so during this time I have instilled quiet time where she stays in her room for sometimes a portion of this time and sometimes all of it and plays by herself or takes a nap. Ian naps during this time. This is time for me to decompress. I really need it by this time of the day in order to be ready to roll for the evening and in a good place to have fun with them.

4:00-5:30 — Play time, Ian dinner and house cleaning.

5:30 -6:00 — Baths.  This doesn’t happen every day but most.

6:00- 6:30 — Ada Dinner, get Ian ready for bed

6:30- 7:30 — Daddy time with Ada. Ian to bed.

7:30 — Ada bedtime routine. To bed around 8:00.

This leaves a couple of hours for my husband Karli and I to have time together.

Thanks to Jo Frost, the Supernanny, for instilling in me the need for a structured routine for my kids.

When I sat down to start this project, I wrote out the following list of goals I had for myself and this site.

  • Examine and reinvent myself as a stay at home mom and professional
  • Determine what being a stay at home mom means to me
  • Determine what being a professional means to me
  • Figure out how to balance myself and my family
  • Be a better house wife (I hate that term, but it is part of the deal. I always joke that I am a great mom and a terrible housewife)
  • Come up with a plan to keep the house clean
  • Organize my surrounding so that maintaining it doesn’t take so much out of me
  • Organize my life to maximize my time for myself and my family
  • Maintain my budget and find money to start putting away for college and retirement. I am known in my circle of friends for my budgeting abilities and am excited to finally be in the black. I hope to be able to write up and make available my budgeting tools and techniques.
  • Figure out what it is that I am passionate about
  • Explore new possibilities for my own self fulfillment
  • Learn how to be better to myself, my kids and my husband
  • foster my love of cooking and finally put all of my recipes on record.
  • Establish an exercise routine and lose this extra 30 pounds of baby weight.

This was just my first pass and I am sure they will expand and evolve as I go, but its important to put my expectations out there so I know where I am headed.

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