Checking In On My 5-Year Plan

I recently celebrated my 38th birthday, and was reminded of a few years back on my 35th birthday when I put together a list of 35 things I wanted to do in the next 5 years (see here). I thought it would be fun, since I'm 3 years in now, to check-in and see if I've actually accomplished anything on the list.
Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe this isn't a great idea. This could get really depressing for me really fast, but let's dive in anyway, shall we?

1 - Write a Novel.
I've started a number of "stories", but never completed any of them.  I don't care if it never gets published, I just want to finish something I've started.

Update - nothing to report here. I still think about it all the time though.

2 - Learn Hair and Make-up.
I have about three hairstyles and have done my make-up the exact same way for probably 10 years now.  I need to learn some new tricks.

Update - in the last 6 months, I actually have tried some new make-up techniques and learned one new hairstyle. So, you know, baby steps, I guess.

3 - Be Musical.
I brag a lot about knowing how to play a variety of instruments, but the truth is I haven't really "played" music in years.  I love it though, and I want to be able to pick up the violin, guitar, or piano and just play something.

Update - we now have a keyboard in the house! I had a lot of fun playing Christmas carols over the holidays, but that's been about it. Oh, and Madeleine is taking piano lessons now too, so that's fun.

4 - Save Some Cash.
I have a good job and a nice chunk of change in the 401(k), but I'm not very good at saving money.  I really want to build up the old emergency fund and be done with debt too.

Update - hmm, better than I was 3 years ago, but I'd like to be further along. Still, progress, I guess. 

5 - Learn Photography.
I want to learn how to use my camera properly, and how to edit photos.

Update - ugh, I've done nothing.

6 - Finish Decorating My Bedroom.
There's so much I want to do in the house in the next five years, but I've never had that relaxing and romantic grown up bedroom, so I want to make sure I make our bedroom a priority.

Update - yeah, nothing here either, although we did buy a headboard.

7 - Expand My Vocabulary.

Really, I want to improve my speech in general.  I'm good at writing, but I always get tripped up speaking. I can never think of the right word on the spot, so I figure knowing more words will help with this problem.

Update - while I still like the idea of this one; I don't think it has even crossed my mind in the last 3 years. Not really a priority, you know?

8 -  Date My Husband.

I want to make sure this is a priority.  We need more one on one time.  Even if we can't always go out on an actual date our evenings after the kids go to bed should be more about connecting as individuals, and less about parenting and housework.

Update - I think this has been going well. Of course, Bill and I could always be spending more quality time together, but I don't feel like this is any sort of problem in our relationship. I'll always wish to be with him more though; I love the guy!

9 - Read More.

I love reading, but the only time I seem to do it anymore is right before bed.  The days of curling up with a book on the weekend for a couple hours are long gone, but I'm going to reign them back in.

Update - oh man, if anything, I think I've been reading less lately! While, I don't think I'll ever be able to say I read enough, I'd like to at least be reading about 2 books a month. If I average all the books I've read the last 3 years, I've actually surpassed, but that's only due to completing that massive reading challenge of 2015 (see here). I've definitely tapered off on reading since then though.

10 - Visit Paris.

I haven't been since I was a senior in high school.  I'd like to go again, preferably alone with Bill.  It is the city of love after all.

Update - a girl can still dream.

11 - Learn Flower Design.
Every time I see an ad for a flower design school I want to sign right up.  I love bouquets, and I think I would actually love making my own.

Update - no movement here either. I'd still love to learn, but think I'd be just as happy if I simply tried to have more fresh flowers in the house on a regular basis.

12 - Join a Club or Charity.
I'd like to make some friends, and I'd also like to help people.  I want to have a cause that I can champion.

Update -  I've dipped my toe in here, but haven't committed fully to any cause or organization yet. I'm definitely not to the point where I've sacrificed any significant portion of my time or gained any sort of personal fulfillment yet. 

13 - Get Back to Nature.
Arizona is such a great place for hiking and being outside.  I would love to start taking family camping trips here and all over the country.  S'mores anyone?

Update - we've hiked quite a few times as a family, but it's not a regular occurrence; and we've still yet to go camping.

14 - Be Pretty.
I want to make sure I occasionally indulge myself on frivolous girly beauty stuff - manicures, facials, massages or blow-outs. I've had a "put myself last" mentality for too long now.

Update - I have been getting manicures/pedicures more lately, but that's about it. Plus, those are not on any sort of regular basis yet by any means. I do get my hair colored every 6 weeks like clock-work though.

15 - Bake Madeleines.
I bought some Madeleine baking trays years ago with the intent of making them all the time for my little Madeleine.  It was going to be her signature cookie.  I have never done it once.

Update - I did this! Just once (see here), but you know, I still finally did it.

16 - Dress Awesome.
I've seriously lost my sense of style over the past five years.  I want to have fun with clothes again.

Update - I've definitely gotten back into having fun with fashion again. I hope to be sharing lots more fashion posts soon.

17 - Be Active.
I was an avid tennis player in my youth, and I like the idea of golf.  I'd like to do more of both of them.  I think I would also enjoy biking (if I had a bike).

Update - While I haven't played tennis or golf yet, I did get a bike (see here). I don't ride it as much as I thought I would yet though. What I have started doing again is running. I try to run a couple of times a week and have worked my way up to 2 mile stretches at a time.

18 - Get to Know My Children.
I really want to have a good relationship with my children.  I want to spend one-on-one time with each of them more, and get to know who they really are.  I want to make sure I'm parenting who my child is, not what I think or hope they might be.

Update - I don't think this is ever something I'll be able to cross off as finished or complete, as it's a process that will grow and change as they do. Have I made a conscious effort to do this though? I hope so, but it never feels like enough.

19 - Go to Hawaii.
There are so many places I want to visit as a family, but the kids are so small right now - would they even remember?  I figure Hawaii would be a great place to start back our big vacations.  It's slightly exotic, but still part of the US.  It's a big enough vacation to seem grand, but not so big where the kids would be disappointed if they don't remember.

Update - if we had gone to Hawaii you'd have heard about it; still just a dream.

20 - Lose Weight.
So, cliché I know, but the truth is I've gained about 40 pounds in the last 10 years.  I'd like to feel better about the way I look. I'd want to set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my children.

Update - dude, I totally did this! I've been meaning to talk about it more, but it's still a work in progress yet. I'll just say that I've lost 30 pounds in the last 7 months and still hope to lose more. Maybe when I've moved to the maintaining stage I'll be more ready to talk about it. 

21 - Learn French.
I've sort of accepted that I probably will never be fluent in French, but I still want to be better at it.  I just love the language so much.

Update - no further along then when I first wrote this one.

22 - Have Dinner/Cocktail Parties.
I love the idea of entertaining - creating a table-scape and menu, cloth napkins; maybe even dressing up.  It's such a great way to make a random weeknight more special.  I need to make some friends first though.
Update - while we do occasionally have friends over, I've yet to really entertain on the level I'm imagining. Being fancy is a lot of work!

23 - Keep in Touch.
Now that we're on the other side of the country far from family and most of our friends, I want to make sure I don't neglect the relationships of those people I hold dear.

Update - another ongoing goal that I could definitely be better at. 

24 - Establish Routines.
There are a lot of repetitive chores around the house that should be on autopilot, but aren't.  I want to get meal planning, laundry, and cleaning on weekly routines so I know exactly what I'm doing everyday.

Update - um, no. Housework and chores are still the bane of my existence.

25 -  Get My Craft On.
I used to love to cross stitch, and I miss it.  I want to learn how to crochet and sew, and even paint.  I feel like I used to be a creative person, and I'd like to be that way again.

Update - other than the occasional cake/cookie decorating project, I've not done much crafting in any way.

26 - Memorize a Poem.
I love the idea of being able to recite a poem or snippet of literature by heart and on demand. I would love our family dinners to occasionally have a salon type feel.

Update - yeah, no. Why did I even want to do this again? I mean, I still love the idea of it, but definitely low on my priority list.

27 - Learn to Make Sushi
I came late to the sushi bandwagon, but now that I'm on it I'm not getting off.  The more sushi I try, the more I like it.  It seems like it would be a fun dinner to make that gets the whole family involved.  I want to learn how.

Update - I still think this would be fun, but alas, I haven't done it yet.

28 - Research the Family Tree.
I've always wanted to learn more about my family and Bill's.  It's so fun to look at old photographs and hear stories, but I'd like to make it a little more formal and create a nice genealogy for everyone to enjoy.

Update - no progress here.

29 - Get My Estate in Order.
I've been meaning to put my affairs in order for some time now - who gets the kids, where are all the accounts, passwords, trusts, life insurance, etc.  We've done bits and pieces, but I need to fill in the gaps and make sure it is all readily accessible if anything should happen to one or both of us.

Update - and no progress here either. This should really be a priority though. I don't want to get caught unprepared.

30 - Get Organized and Purge.
I know we just moved, but I'm constantly looking for stuff in the new house.  I want everything to have a place, and know where that place is. I want to love everything in my home, not just collect stuff.

Update - I definitely have purged (see here and here), but I'm not yet living the sort of streamlined and minimalist life I've dream of.

31 - Bring Back a Little Culture.
I love the ballet, symphony (or any live music event), museums, and theater.  It's been far too long since I've gone to any of these.  I want to make them a regular part of my life, as well as my children's.

Update - I'm making progress here. We took the kids to the children's theater once. I've also invested in season tickets to ASU Gammage, so we've been taking in about one Broadway musical every other month or so. Plus, of course, there was Bon Jovi (see here). I've not been to the symphony or ballet in years though.

32 - Grow Something.I would love to have a little vegetable garden somewhere on our lot.  I also want to have a citrus or avocado tree.  I have an extreme black thumb, so this one will be a challenge.  Maybe I'll start with a cactus.
Update - OMG, I cannot even grow a cactus! 

33 - Keep Up with Technology.I love blogging, but I don't know much about the tech side of it.  I'm also heavily dependent on my IT Professional husband at home if anything isn't working.  I don't want technology to pass me by.  I want to know how to work all our electronics as well as learn more about the behind the scenes of blogging.
Update - I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be here either.

34 - Give Experiences.I'd like to give less things and more experiences to Bill and the kids.  We have plenty of stuff.  I'd rather give them memories.
Update - I've not done this as much as I had hoped, but I'm always on the lookout for great ideas.

35 - Be Happy.Having a list is great, but more than anything I just want to love myself, be loved, and enjoy life.

Update - I think I'm in a better place emotionally and physically than where I was 3 years ago. I'll probably always be looking for more fulfillment and meaning from life, but all in all, yes, I'm happy.

How about you? Is your life where you thought it would be by the age you are? I think as long as I'm continually attempting to self-improve, I'm pretty content. I'm not gonna lie though, I don't think I'll ever be truly satisfied. There's just too much to see and do in this world for me to ever say, "That's enough. I'm good."


My New Jam - Green Light

I'm totally digging Lorde's new song, Green Light. Check it out!

I've always loved her sound, and the song has a great build that will have you totally rocking out by the time the chorus hits. Love it!

What are you listening to these days?


What I'm Watching - Stand-up Comedy

I've always been a fan of stand-up comedy. It's so fun to see live (remember when I saw Aziz Anzari - see here), but sometimes it's even better when you just need a good laugh at home. Lately, whenever I have an extra hour and am by myself (which is rare), I've been watching Netflix's Comedy Specials. They're low-commitment (just an hour) and provide a much needed laugh. I can't get enough!

Here's five I've watched recently.

Jim Gaffigan - Cinco
I've been a big Jim Gaffigan fan for years. Bill and I have even seen him live - twice! His stuff is good clean fun. He jokes a lot about being fat, being a parent, and being Catholic - all things I can completely relate too.

Ali Wong - Baby Cobra
I hadn't heard of Ali Wong prior to watching her special, but I'm a fan now. She filmed her special 7 months pregnant! She jokes a lot about being Asian, a woman, and how much she hates working - very funny.

 Amy Schumer - The Leather Special
Of course I had to watch Amy Schumer's special. It was, as I would expect, quite raunchy - but come on, love her!

John Mulhaney - The Comeback Kid
I knew who John Mulaney was, but had never seen his act before. Lots of jokes about being newly married and Catholic. Funny and a real cutie too.

 Katherine Ryan - In Trouble
Saving the best for last, Katherine Ryan's special had me in stitches almost the entire time. She jokes about how much she hates her home town in Canada, tormenting her sister, and how she inadvertently once insulted the entire Filipino race. Hilarious!

There's still so many more I want to watch too - Louis C.K., Maria Bamford, and Trevor Noah. Who is your favorite stand-up comic?


2017 Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day is coming up, and like every year, I've asked Bill for a day off. But if you're one to express your gratitude to the woman who birthed you or your children in a more materialistic way; I've rounded up a few gifts ideas for you. Enjoy!
This  Mama Bear Pendant is so simple and sweet. It's a perfect little companion piece to all those adorable handmade presents the kids will be showering upon her. 
A colorful silk scarf is always a nice surprise. I love things that are pretty just for the sake of being pretty. It's such a fun way to dress up a simple outfit or bag.
And speaking of bags, this Transport Crossbody Bag is great for any mom on the go. It's simple, stylish, and will go with everything.

The ultimate luxury item that she'd never splurge on herself, the real deal - Crème De La Mer moisturizing cream. Ahhh, a girl can dream.
Every woman needs a safe place to put her rings here and there throughout the day. This Diamond Gold Ring Holder would be such a lovely little addition on a dresser, bathroom counter, or vanity.

If you're a mom, what would you love to get on Mother's Day? Do you want to be with your kids, or away from them? I think moms of young kids just want a break, but mom's of grown children would rather spend the day with their kids. Really though, all you need to do is give your mom any sort of acknowledgement that what she gives and does for the family is appreciated. It's really as simple as that.


My New Jam - Sign of the Times

Did you guys catch Harry Styles performance on SNL over the weekend?

I went from sort of half-listening when he came on to completely mesmerized by the end of the performance. I'm not afraid to admit I have quite a few One Direction songs on my playlist, but I don't think I've ever seen a video or performance of theirs to distinguish one of their voices from another. So, I'm officially (and quite belatedly) jumping on the Harry Styles bandwagon. I think this kid may be going places.

What are you listening to these days?


2017 Easter Recap

And just like that, Easter has come and gone. It seemed like we barely had enough time to fit it all in, but we somehow managed. We started Friday night off with egg coloring fun!
This is the look of a 4-year-old desperately trying to smile for a picture while not dropping his egg.
Saturday afternoon we headed over to our church to get our Easter basket blessed, which is a Polish tradition called Święconka that I've been doing since childhood.
Easter morning the kids were up early, running around the house looking for eggs and their baskets.
We followed that up with a simple, but yummy Easter breakfast.
Then, it was off to church, followed by a relaxing day at home. We talked on the phone with all our family back home and watched Easter Parade.
I was a bit late putting the annual lamb cake together, so decided to just let the kids finish up decorating it this year. I think they were more interested in just eating the frosting though.
We capped the night off with a ham dinner and, well...that was that - back to your regularly scheduled programming.

How was your Easter holiday? Do you do the same traditions you did growing up with your own kids? Have you started new ones?

P.S. 2016 Easter Recap | 2015 Easter Recap | 2014 Happy Easter!


Great Apps for Kids

Our kids are growing up in such a different world than we did. I feel like I'm still trying to navigate the ever-changing app/tablet/smart phone universe myself, so the thought of having to teach and monitor my own kids' online activities seems like such a daunting task. Part of me wants to keep them away from all things Internet as long as possible, but another part of me wants them to really excel in it.

That's my long winded way of saying we let our kids use our phones and tablets on a regular basis, but try to do it as responsibly as possible. Needless to say, I'm always on the lookout for good apps that are both educational and fun.

One of my favorites is the Endless Alphabet from Originator.

We picked this one up ages ago to help Madeleine learn her alphabet, and now it's helping Seamus do the same. The animation is fun and sweet; and it teaches the alphabet, letter sounds, spelling, and vocab. It's also a great primer in the basic how-to's of navigating a touch screen device.

In addition to Endless Alphabet, we also have Endless 123 and Endless Spanish, which are all equally good.

Do you let your kids use apps? At what age did you start? What apps are you liking for your kids?


Dress The Part - La La Land - The Yellow Dress

I have been waiting for a film to spark the sort of fashion inspiration Age of Adaline did for me a few years ago (see here and here). Well, La La Land (see here) was most definitely it! Emma Stone's character, Mia Dolan, wore a wide array of bold and super cute dresses throughout the film. I couldn't get enough!

The first, and most iconic of the film, is the yellow dress from the number, "A Lovely Night".

The scene starts with Mia accessorizing the dress with some amazing cobalt blue heels and a big red tote, but she later changes into a pair of classic wingtips for the dance number. Both looked great!

The dress, which was designed for the film, is already so popular that there are exact replicas available like the one I found above. If it's too literal an interpretation (i.e. too Cosplay or costume-y), you can capture the essence of the look with a great yellow dress. It's all about the tone here - you're looking for a nice, bright, primary yellow.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Would you wear a such a bold colored yellow dress? I'm really loving yellow right now, so I'd be all for it. What about the shoes? Would you go with the fun and flirty cobalt heels or the quirky wingtips? I've never tried an oxford or wingtip with a dress before, but I've made a mental note to give it a try sometime.


What I'm Watching - Feud: Bette and Joan

My new guilty pleasure is Feud: Bette and Joan on FX. Are you watching?
I grew up watching old movies with my parents, and remember watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? when I was younger. So creepy! While the focus of the film is the actual feud between the two leading ladies, Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon), there are so many great underlying themes about ageism and sexism at play too. It's funny and entertaining, but also so incredibly sad. The performances by Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are pretty amazing, and the costuming so good it's worth it to watch just for that. I love the whole style of it all - so colorful and vibrant.

What's your guilty pleasure these days?


Book Report - Truly Madly Guilty

Leading up to Big Little Lies on HBO (see here - did you watch?), I wanted to read more Liane Moriarty. I had enjoyed reading Big Little Lies a lot (see here), and was curious if any of her other works were as good.
Erika and Clementine have been friends since childhood, although for Clementine it's become more of an obligatory friendship than a true one. Erika and her husband Oliver have invited Clementine, her husband Sam, and their two little girls over to dinner to ask something very important of them. When Erika's neighbors, Vid and Tiffani, spontaneously invite everyone over for an impromptu backyard barbecue; the night doesn't go as planned, and instead becomes one they all wish had never even happened.

I tell ya, Liane Moriarty can build suspense like no one I've read in ages. This book will have you shouting at the rafters, "OMG, WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED AT THE BARBECUE?!?!"

It was insane! Literally, every other chapter focused on one of the characters and the aftermath of the barbecue, and each would end with these great tension building sentences. For example...

"In fact, she knew exactly when she'd seen Harry last. It was the morning of the barbecue. That goddamned nightmare of a barbecue she'd never wanted to host in the first place."

Then, the next chapter would flashback to the day of the barbecue and she'd give you just a little taste of the story she's now made you crave, but won't yet give you the whole pie.

I couldn't flip the pages fast enough, and it was both infuriating and lots of fun too.

The only problem with a slow build like that, is that the payoff needs to be really worth it. When the events of the barbecue are finally revealed, my reaction was more, "eh - I guess so." It wasn't nearly as exciting to read after that point.

I did still really enjoy the book. Her niche seems to be finding the extreme drama of the everyday, and it's addicting. Big Little Lies was a stronger book than Truly Madly Guilty, but both are great distractions from the real world. You'll be thanking your lucky stars your everyday life is nothing like those of her characters.

What are you reading these days? I have some friends who read Liane Moriarty too, and they both recommended Three Wishes as being their favorite of hers.


Trend Alert - The Cold Shoulder

Remember at the Golden Globes earlier this year when I talked about all the dropped shoulder gowns that came out of nowhere (see here)? Well, that trend has officially hit the masses, and officially has a name too - The Cold Shoulder. I'm seeing it in both top and dress form all over the place, and I can't decide whether or not to give it a try. 

A lot of them are very feminine and flowy - giving off a Bohemian vibe that doesn't feel very me. I don't particularly like clothes that are needlessly frilly.
1 | 2 | 3
4 | 5 | 6

However, I've started to see some that are a bit more structured that have me thinking of giving it a go. I could see myself trying numbers 1 or 6 below.
1 | 2 | 3
4 | 5 | 6

I think a great way to test the waters with this trend (and where I may start myself) are the t-shirt versions out there. I'm actually really liking number 6 below.
1 | 2 | 3
4 | 5 | 6

What do you guys think of this trend? Yes? No? Maybe, so? I'm willing to give it a try, if for no other reason than curiosity to see if I could pull it off or not.


Let's Go To The Movies - Get Out

Some girlfriends and I went to check out the new horror flick, Get Out over the weekend.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), are headed out-of-town for the weekend to meet her family for the first time at her parents' (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) secluded country estate. Welcomed warmly by her family, Chris soon begins to feel uneasy about the goings on at the estate. He tolerates the subtle racist overtones of the Armitage's family friends, but it's the strange behavior of the black servants and guest that has Chris ready to high-tail it out of there. The only question is, will he be able to get out in time?

It's been ages since I went out to the theater to see a horror film. I used to love them, but as I've gotten older I don't care so much for all the gore. I actually didn't even know Get Out was a horror film until a few hours before I saw it. I still wanted to go though. I had heard nothing but rave reviews, and it had a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is practically unheard of.

Needless to say, I was highly impressed with Get Out. It was just so creepy! There is a little bit of gore at the end, but it definitely was going for a different kind of scare and thoroughly succeeded. It's highly topical, and presents an interesting commentary on race and racism.

I think what I liked most though, was that there was so obviously something wrong happening at the estate, but nothing gets revealed to the audience until it is finally revealed to Chris. The whole film I was on the edge of my seat just wanting to know what was going on. It had a great suspense, a tremendous build, and one heck of a satisfyingly climatic ending. The horror genre has just been reinvented, my friends. I highly recommend checking out Get Out.