Thoughts on Grandparents

Grandparents are special to us in ways that parents can never be… my grandparents always made sure that I had pancakes each morning we were together (if that’s what I wanted). They made sure that I had lots of fun and they didn’t worry too much about discipline. After all, they got to return me after a while and it wasn’t their job to worry about the consequences. This was the best part about being a grandchild, the unconditional love and acceptance no matter what.

Well, last week my beloved grandfather passed away. My grandfather, Martin, and grandmother, Dorothy, had been married for almost 65 years. My poor grandpa had such terrible health issues his last few years here on earth and I know he’s happy to be rid of his aging and decrepit body. I know that it’s hard for my grandma to imagine her life without her other half. Thankfully the doctor says her health is great but I know that this stress is a lot for her.

Today I pray for my grandma, my aunt, my uncle, and all who are dealing with the death of my grandpa. Life is difficult and beautiful at once. We mourn the loss of one and the future of another. Martin was a hardworking man who loved his bride so very much. Their example of Christian fidelity has served as an inspiration for me all my life. My grandmother is a strong woman with a good church family and I know she will make it through this but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Love you so much, grandpa.

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Some Things I’ve Been Thinking About

Hey y’all! Craig and I have been busy baby makin’ and I just passed my big audit for work (another excellent progress report!) so needless to say I’ve been a bit preoccupied. In other news we got a new car… YAY! Here’s a pic of my beautiful new baby. We really enjoy her and have named her Bindi (yes, that’s Steve Irwin’s daughter’s name). Since she’s an Outback we figured we needed something Australian and Bindi is Aborigine for little girl. Cute.

Also, our first baby, Jethro, has commandeered the guest room bed. He loves to sleep with his head on a pillow (or arm rest, etc.) and evidently the couch is too far away from us at night. This is a new thing he’s doing but he’s simply precious. We love that little dude and can’t imagine our lives without him. I mean, look how precious he is! I can’t get mad at that fluffy guy for wanting a little comfort.

Next up, we bought a new vacuum. My other vacuum finally bit the dust and after quite a lot of research and not wanting to spend a fortune we settled on the Shark Navigator. So far, so good. It really performs well. Jethro likes it (as referenced by the picture below). I mean, just look at that happy face!
In other news, I’ve really been struggling with not commenting on or posting about every little political and/or cultural war happening right now. I’ve definitely posted on facebook a few times too many for some of my friends but it’s hard to keep my mouth shut when I feel so passionate. There are two sides to every story and I feel like some of my “friends” keep speaking from their limited point of view where they cannot possibly understand the whole picture.

Besides that, most of these “friends” call themselves “Christian” and as a Christian I find it hard to stomach their intolerance. From what I have read of the Jesus I follow, He would have been the first to sit down with the “sinner” over dinner and really get to know them and pour LOVE into them. Yet, these very people who claim to be His disciples are those who are the loudest in judgment and hate. It breaks my heart.

So, I will continue to post things I think help open up the debate and help to cross barriers and I will continue to do my best to LOVE my neighbor (John 13:35). That’s all I can really do, eh?

Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to work once this future baby is born. I know that children of working mothers are more successful and I know that as a working mother I will be a better role model for success outside the home, yada yada, but I can’t help but fear the coming day when I drop my child off at day-care and head off to work. My friend, Emily, recently had this discussion with me. She always thought that she’d have no problem going back to work but now that her baby is here in her arms she’s finding it incredibly difficult.

I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. I know that financially we just really cannot afford to have me stay at home. I also know that the benefits I receive through my state employee position are unlike anything I could acquire on my own. I’m praying that something flexible will arise when the time comes and I will feel greater strength in leaving my child with others. Too soon to tell but I will continue to pray about it anyway.

So, to end this random smattering of thoughts on this hump day I leave you with another picture of my boy Jethro when he was outside playing in his pool. I mean, what parent doesn’t shove pictures of their baby in your face every other second? Just wait until we have a human baby… HA! It’s almost the weekend y’all! Chin up!

  

  

Get Stuff Done

It’s a challenge… staying focused and getting tasks finished in a timely manner. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at a giant to-do list and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. As the great Tina Fey pointed out, confident women get stuff done folks. Productivity is measured in the efficiency of output. The more efficient you are at tasks the more productive you are. How you manage your space and your time and your confidence directly influences your ability to get things accomplished. I love what Tina Fey says about the confidence to contribute your thoughts and ideas, “Always make sure you’re adding to the discussion.” Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you wait until you’ve “perfected” yourself you’ll never make any real contribution. We’re all works in progress. Believe in your ability to make it happen! With that said, I wanted to take a minute today to share with you what I feel are 5 essentials for productivity.

  1. First, make sure that you set yourself up for success by being prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout). Do your research, know your job, be the best you can be for the task at hand. For me, this means being sure that I’m up to date on any changes to our system or processing and making sure that my files are in order. I’m constantly bettering myself and I believe this contributes to my efficiency. If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly do it well? Take time for continuing education and improvement. Be sure that you are “sharpening the saw.”
  2. Second, set up your workstation (wherever that is) for optimum efficiency by having everything clean, sorted, and in its place. My workplace had a consultant come in and evaluate our workstations to help us determine how we should be sitting and where our monitors and keyboard and mouse should be located for optimal ergonomics. I am a shorty so my seat sits closer to the ground, therefore I utilize a keyboard tray to keep my arms and wrists at the correct angle. I know many people who work from home and set up their laptop on their laps. This is terrible for your back and neck. Do your research to see how you should set up your environment to achieve optimum ergonomics and watch your productivity level increase!
  3. Next, utilize background noise to limit distractions. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but it works. Although high levels of noise can impair your creativity, low levels actually help you concentrate. The same way that white noise can help folks sleep, the same can be said for helping you stay focused while awake. For me, I like to play a low level of background noise in the form of music. The key is to be sure the volume is low… not too loud to distract but enough to blend in the background and drown out the random noises that interrupt your concentration. Create a Pandora or Spotify station of relaxing classical music or choose a playlist of singer/songwriters that can just fade into the background. You’ll be amazed at how a little background noise can help you become more efficient.
  4. Then, take frequent breaks! Don’t get so caught up in your work that hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten up from your desk. I’m the worst at this. I know that I perform better when I take breaks to stretch and walk around. Even if you cannot make the time to physically walk away from the task at hand be sure to give yourself a mental break. Take five minutes and cruise Facebook (just don’t get lost and forget to come back to your task). If you have to, set a timer to remind you when the break is over and when you need to get back to work. Frequent mental (and physical when possible) breaks help you to remain better focused and to complete the task in an efficient and timely manner. It may seem counter-productive to take time away from the task but research has shown it’s the best thing you can do.
  5. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done. When you have a clear finish line and a clear reward you’re more likely to stick to the task and see it through completion. Keep track of your to-do list and check off the items as they’re completed. A big line drawn through the task can be reward in itself. If you need more motivation be sure to set yourself up for success by utilizing appropriate rewards such as scheduling a lunch date to celebrate the completion of an important goal. I bring lunch from home each day and try hard not to spend money on lunch during the week, however, when I know that I have a challenging task to complete I’ll schedule a lunch date with a friend so I have that to look forward to when I’m finished. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments.

So, what about you? What do you do to stay focused and to maximize your productivity? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this information if you found it useful. If you need more inspiration, set yourself up for success with this post I wrote a few years ago. Make it a great day!

MissCaron

Decoration Day

In remembrance…

This weekend, Monday to be specific, we will celebrate Memorial Day. This federal holiday formerly known as Decoration Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May, is for remembering those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This holiday began after the Civil War to remember the soldiers who fought so bravely and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our union. Eventually, this holiday began to honor all those who fought and died while in military service.

Many will mark this holiday as the start of the summer season and partake in a beach vacation or backyard barbecue but for many this holiday hits far too close to home. They will visit cemeteries and memorials and place flags on graves and sing songs of remembrance. While Veterans Day honors all who have served, Memorial Day honors all who have died, all who have died to give us the freedom we take for granted each and every day.

This Memorial Day let us take time out, between the food and the celebration and the fireworks, to remember those who have paid the ultimate price. Let us take a moment and say a little prayer for the families who are remembering those who are no longer with us as we enjoy the long weekend with our friends and loved ones. God bless us all.


 

Bivouac Of The Dead
By Theodore O’Hara

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on Life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead…

This Life

OurHome

This life is crazy. It’s difficult and rewarding and frustrating and awesome all at the same time. We’re officially in the process of purchasing our first home together. In fact, the home belongs to our landlord and therefore she’s allowing us to move in as “renters” as we work out the financing. This is such a blessing as we are beyond ready to move on from the 747 square feet we’re currently inhabiting.

We took measurements of the rooms (the two additional bedrooms are 10×10 and 9×9 which is super tiny but still doable) and we discussed the arrangement of furniture. Ultimately we’d like to knock out a wall, and re-do the kitchen, and add on a screened in porch, but right now we’re just focusing on getting in and settled and adjusted to our new space. First on the list is a new washer/dryer otherwise we’re hitting up the laundromat.

Last night, Craig and I discussed paint colors. We definitely need to give the whole house interior an overhaul but first we’re just focusing on a few rooms. The master bedroom has an accent wall in blood red that has got to go so we looked at several options and settled on Carolina Inn Club Aqua. This color choice is actually a funny coincidence because when searching for the color in examples through Google the first result is that of John and Sherry’s house over at Young House Love. I can’t believe I forgot that they originally painted their master bedroom in their second home that very color. I swear that didn’t influence my pick but it sure solidifies it.

The other color choice of Homestead Resort Parlor Taupe is for the additional bedrooms and the living spaces. It’s a good neutral that will help the home to feel lighter and brighter and more spacious. Some of the rooms have this awful sponge paint job and ALL of the rooms have that awful knock-down texture so although we can paint right now we can’t tackle the wall texture until later.

This weekend will be spent packing and possibly painting and then next weekend will be spend moving. OhMyGoodness how quickly this is all progressing! It feels like just yesterday we were all bummed out about the lack of quality homes to choose from (in our price range) in the neighborhoods in which we were interested. This property literally materialized within the past few weeks and we jumped at the chance. Craig and I couldn’t be more excited.

Speaking of Craig, he’s doing much better getting around and his knee is healing wonderfully. We had another follow up appointment recently and he’s allowed to slowly wean himself off the crutches. In addition, he can start driving again… this is, of course, the best news. He is beyond thrilled to have a bit of his independence back. He’s starting to get back into the kitchen (which is one of his favorite things to do) and he can start gardening again soon. To celebrate, he created his own blog: Account For Growth (no posts yet). This blog will be where he will share all his adventures in gardening and our healthy lifestyle. He has been growing wheat-grass and making smoothies so we will be capturing that on video for y’all soon. Very exciting!

Okay, those are the updates for now. I can’t wait to share more details as we embark on this new adventure! I know that when life gets busy this poor blog gets neglected but having Craig blogging as well should help serve as motivation to share. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!