Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Excel or excel...

Excel. Its an interesting beast. Today's post deals only slightly with Excel, the program, and more on excel - the definition of the word itself.

Interesting fact: People over the age of 40 don't automatically practice common sense. I mean, did this ever occur to you? I don't get it. I mean, its ok when you're a kid, but at 40? That's like 20 years of being in the work force and still not getting it. Lemme 'splain something to-joux (all made up words, my friends - please see Happy Feet for the correct pronunciation).

Case #1.
    Today, I decided that I would tackle one of those dumb projects that you never want to start, let alone finish. I was 97% of the way finished, when we had to take a moment and attend a really lengthy meeting that served a point, but where I would have rather had a nap. Ya heard? Anyway, I digress. I came back from said meeting, where everyone in my department was present mind you, and something was missing.... My Excel file, which was the location of said project, was gone. I mean, wiped-clean-off-of-the-face-of-the-earth, gone. My jaw hit the floor. I asked aloud, "Has anyone seen my Excel file?" And someone (who possesses an immensely dominant personality) timidly raised their hand and said, "I think I may have accidentally deleted it. Was it important?"




Not at all.

I mean, I guess not.

I mean, since you didn't bother to leave things that weren't yours alone, NAH. Not important at all.


Let me lay down the law of the land, just in case you, like said person, don't know:

   Rule #1: If its not yours, don't touch it.
   Rule #2: If you have seen someone working all morning at a workstation, and you go over to it, and you decide, "Hey. I have a great idea. I will close all of the windows that I don't want." --> This is NOT the right decision. Take a step back, turn around, and walk away.
   Rule #3: If you need that window to go away, just save the dang file.
   Rule #4: THINK. It benefits the world. Oh, and those around you. Because like it or not, we are a part of your world.
   Rule #5: Repeat step #4 until you come to a different decision than the one you were going to make. It may take a while. Progress always does.


Now, onto the definition of excel: to be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject.
I happen to excel at a few things.
    Number one: I excel at getting my work done correctly. I'm really proficient at my job and I genuinely love what I do.
    Number two: I am really good at bringing a South Philly attitude to the party when I think that a principle of life needs to be addressed. I know someone out there can attest to this.

Things that I am learning to excel at:
    Breathing deeply
    Letting it go
    Not bringing a South Philly attitude to the party when principles of life need to be addressed.

Ok, ok. So this is mostly satire and I am attempting to make light of this situation, and yet it still befuddles me. I went to lunch right after the incident, and I don't know that I actually cooled off. For the love of Pete, who do these people think they are? Simply because they don't have consideration for others...we all have to suffer. And I know you work with someone like this, or live with them, or are friends with them. We are these people at times. And man, oh man.

Regardless, I came back from lunch and simply addressed the person. Then they tried to cut me off! With apologies!!! Those should have come before I went to lunch! They should have come immediately after the recognition of what had happened! Geez Luis! Oi Vey. I held up my hand and asked the person to let me finish. I said, "Next time you see a program that isn't yours, or that you are not working on, would you mind not closing the program? I worked on that all morning. It would have taken 2 seconds to stay your hand from the close button. Please, next time, would you mind pausing those 2 seconds and asking about the program?" They were very apologetic (well, as apologetic as said person gets - so its fine), and we are moving on.

One activity that I think we can all excel on, no...I am now thinking of two.

   First: Let's excel at thinking of others before we think of ourselves.

    Case #2: Instead of blowing up at said person, I simply announced that I would be going to lunch, cleared it with my co-workers, and went and ate. I thought about all the horrid things I could say. I thought about how awful those actions would make me feel. And then I thought, "Ok. You have a decision to make. You can either be the person who is feared, or the person who is loved. Who do you want to be?"
    I really want to love others and be loved in return. I mean, the latter is just a bonus. But honestly, my actions would directly create reactions and I would bear the brunt of those. I decided to simply address the person directly, and as calmly as I could, and just say please. And I feel that 5 years ago, I would have lit that person up like the 4th of July. Sky High. For all the world to see. {That's the South Philly in me.} Now, I still want that. I just don't think its worth the cost. And people are worth so much. Lets invest in people.

  Second: Let's excel at extending grace.

    Case #3: This person, regardless of how inconvenienced I was by their actions, is still an awesome person. This person is incredibly efficient, they are a hard worker, they are brilliant, and a huge asset to our department in many, many ways. I admire said person. I love learning from said person. And I am learning so much by being around this person - learning about extending grace, for instance.  {wink!}
    When I mess up, or when I have messed up in the past, no one put/puts me on a platform for all the world to see and scorns me, or mocks me, or ridicules me in a way that is harming. No one has made me hold up a sign that says what I did wrong, and then posted it for everyone to comment on. No shaming has happened in that sense. Especially not God.
    Who am I trying to be more like? Ultimately, God. I am trying to emulate the best characteristics of those around me, but mostly, I am trying to emulate the Christlike attributes I see and that I feel. I always say that I am no Melanie Hamilton {Gone with the Wind reference}; I'm more of a Scarlett O'Hara (but not in the second half of the movie. She crosses the line when she marries that one guy who her sister likes. Yuck.). Fire and spirit. But I really want to be Melanie Hamilton. And I'll keep trying. Moments like today show me how far I've come.

Word of the day: excel

Definition: to be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject
Meaning: Let's be exceptionally good at thinking of others before we think of ourselves and extending grace to them.

We want the same thing in return. Let's give what we want to receive. Even if its hard. And you're still fighting mad about it 8 hours later. At least you'll see how silly you are; you'll see that you can't control those around you. You can only control how you let yourself feel. And now its time for chocolate. You can tackle the world tomorrow. But for today...breathe and extend that grace, sister.


Monday, January 6, 2014


This may be the best magazine that I've ever picked up. Honest. Have you read this yet? If not, run out and grab one!

Each section focused on a different type of balance to have in our lives. I loved how *simple* the goals, instructions, or ideas were. My favorite: Have only 40 hangers in your closet.

How simple is that?

So, today, after recovering from the worlds WORST cold ever (seriously. i may have died and come back. i don't remember much of Sat night - Sunday), I found that I was out of the haze of disease. I found my brain working properly. And most importantly, I found my motivation!

I cleaned out my closet. Like, hardcore. I rededicated myself to organizing my T-shirts, etc (you know that drawer is always a mess). I cleaned out shoes, coats, etc. Got it all boxed up and ready to go! I know I could get money for all of the Banana and Gap clothing I'm getting rid of, but ya know what? That's more hassle than its worth. Just giving it away is SO much easier.

Then, I tackled Ethan's toy area. On both floors. It looks amazing now! He is so much happier with all of the baby toys cleared out; everything is straightened out, everything has a home, and the clean lines of the home are back, baby! I can't wait to take a picture.

Then I straightened out the linen closet - its a part of my laundry room - and used existing storage bins. We sleep on a king size bed now, so we have a TON of queen sized sheets for our guest bed. Those sheets end up all over creation and I can never differentiate them (at a moment's glance) from the king or twin sheets that we have. So, boom. All of the queen sized sheets (which greatly outnumber the other varieties) are now in a clear bin on a shelf. The linen closet has been a challenge for me, just like the pantry. Why? I'm trying to use existing storage items that I have, versus going out and buying the *perfect* solutions. I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of money - even $6 for a tote bin is more than I'm willing to pay (I'm cheap - but I'm preferring to say "frugal!"). I mean, $6 adds up, my friends!

I cleaned out all of those bags under my kitchen sink. Vacuumed. I did a thousand loads of laundry. Looked after a kid who gagged himself accidently and then puked all over my bed. And it dripped in between the mattress and the headboard. Really? That's the one thing I thought I couldn't handle. Luckily, I made it. And Ethan took a tubby and has been an angel baby all day.

Really. Terrible twos? I hope we never hit those. This 18+  month thing is ah-mazing. He plays quietly by himself (he always has, but its longer now!), reads to himself more, and I am loving the comprehension on both ends - understanding what is being asked of him, and being able to understand what he is asking of us. Love it!

{Ty and bubba's morning selfie while I worked on Saturday}

You guys. Tyler and I are so lucky. We are always getting back on the same page with finances (weekly meeting), schedules, what's for dinner for the next two weeks, and who's in charge of making it (my work schedule has always conflicted with dinner time prep, so we split duties. its been a dream in the making. thankfully, i've got a great guy who is more than willing to pull weight in the house whenever! thanks, kid!). We are re-dedicating ourselves to frugality in all ways possible (and I mean all ways), and enjoying the simple things in life. Let me tell you - tithing is a lot of $$ out of that monthly income - and the blessings and benefits far outweigh anything I could do with that cash. I've never actually looked at how much 10% is (I mean, really really looked). And I did on Sunday and we both just chuckled!

We have been enjoying college football season, the books we got for Christmas, and enjoying plenty of days off together. The best thing of all - while I've been sick, both Ethan and Tyler have been healthy and happy, and the week and a half of death for me is coming to a close. Ethan has been such a good baby and I am loving him more and more each day. Tyler too. haha

Oh! And the other thing that has simplified my life: the InStyler. You know. That thing off of the infomercial? Well, Tyler got one for a steal, after I begged him for it for the last 4 years (did I mention that I always buy things on clearance and I love a good sale!?), and it has single-handedly replaced my flatirons, straightners, and all of my curling irons? Yep. Now instead of a gaggle of curling irons + straightners hanging out on my counter, all I have is that beaut. And my blow dryer. That's all I need.

Fuzzy phone picture, but you get the picture. I love how simple its made my morning routine. Gotta love it.

Finally, our new motto: The Simple Life is the Happy Life.

We said this during our cinder-block college life days, and we're saying it again. Its always a work in progress - and we are loving it. Wish us luck!

ps: Tips and tricks and pinterest pins are welcome! Cheers!

*The Holidays*

Bubba was such a gem this year - he never touched the ornaments, 
ripped open presents, etc. He just let it be. 
Once in a while, he would get down all close and point out the characters on his wrapping paper! 
Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and the cast of Toy Story - pretty exciting!

Tyler's boss bought him these cookies - which quickly became mine. Thank you!

On Christmas Eve, Tyler picked up some delish hot coco and donuts - a little taste of DE all the way here in the wild west. Things are starting to get 'civilized' haha!

What our living room looked like on Christmas Eve! 

Ethan wasn't too into tearing off wrapping paper (maybe next year), but he was into this Pooh bear back pack that his Grandma Hollingshaus gave him - little people wearing little things is the cutest. 

Just checking things out!

Best purchase of the year? This Little People Noah's Ark - he cannot get enough of the animals. Sometimes its a challenging toy because it doesn't stay up the greatest (hello, its a boat haha) but overall he spends the majority of his time playing with this toy. Thanks to my cousin's wife, I snagged this for a great deal! Next, I'll probably get him the farm yard set - that one looked so cute!

We got this huge book (its as big as he is) of animals from all different climates and locations (Australia, the ocean, Arctic, farm, etc) and he loves it. Just the other day, he snuck upstairs and disappeared for a while. Usually that means trouble for little ones, but nope. He was just kicked back on the love sac, reading this book to himself. What a kid. 

Another fun purchase was this Mega Blocks table that has (duh) mega blocks! He tries to stand on it all the time (that kills me haha) but he's getting more into it as time goes by!

This isn't exactly a holiday picture, but this kid LOVES to come and play on our bed now. I've been waiting a long time for this - its so nice to have him content while I'm getting ready for work in the morning, and he usually drinks his morning bottle while I'm doing my hair, and we chat. Its so fun. This time he ran straight into our room after bath time. And jumped....and jumped...and jumped some more! Luckily, no accidents occurred!

On NYE, we received some "over the fence mail" from our neighbor. He left us a package of delicious sweets "with a little taste of Germany!" Isn't he the best?

On Christmas Eve, we delivered a Christmas card to him with some slices of pie (cherry, apple, and pumpkin+graham cracker crust), but he wasn't home. So we left them on his doorstep and did circles around the block for 10 minutes, and then we happened to drive past right as he arrived home and walked to his front door to pick them up. Then we high-fived and drove home. Mission accomplished!

We had a blast with our families this holiday season and hope you did as well! Thank you to everyone who made this season so special!

Next year's goal: See the lights at temple square. I can never seem to motivate myself to go and fight the traffic, cold, and herds of people. Sigh. haha Next year, I keep telling myself!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013


I found this little gem ages ago, and I have been thinking about this, not quite in these terms, but similar ones, for a little while now.

Also, I haven't been blogging lately for many reasons, and hopefully through this post, you'll understand a bit more about why I'll try a bit more to keep up with it.


Never before have I felt more alone. I knew that living in a new state would be challenging, and I have been trying to give it all I've got. Utah isn't the easiest place to live, especially when you fall under a certain set of demographics:

    - Working Mom
    - From Out of State

I'm not going to get into all of the reasons. It would take forever and ultimately, it wouldn't come out the way I wanted it to.

Instead, I will give you a little story, and hopefully you'll understand what I mean.

The other day, I was with a friend and her kids, and we were having a grand time. Ethan and I had only been there for a few minutes, when I started to tell my friend about Tyler going out of town for a day on business. I'm really excited for him, yet really quite nervous because of the way our daycare situation runs - I drop Ethan off in the morning, and Tyler picks him up and I get off of work 2.5 (+) hours later. This business trip of Tyler's necessitates that I leave work a few hours early so I can pick up Ethan. Not a big deal, but still stressful (especially since I do not like to ask for circumstantial favors at work, etc. Its not in my prerogative. I don't feel like I should be able to take off early - I know, I'm crazy). Before I could even explain why I was stressed, this friend proceeded to tell my why she wasn't even sorry for me, and then every sentence for the next hour started with, "SAHM," and how life is for her.

[SAHM: Stay At Home Mom - it took me years to figure out what this meant!]

Now, I don't think that any of these things were said out of unkindness; I think they were said simply so that this person could convey their situation to me, and probably a bit out of spite. I didn't say anything else for the remaining amount of time we were there...what could I say?

I guess I don't get it. My mom is a SAHM, and I have never looked down on her for doing so. She is brilliant and choose not to work; we sucked up all her brilliance at home and it was awesome. Cool! I never would have gotten through life without her doing that - she was a great mom in her chosen field.

So, why do other people act like I look down at them for being a SAHM? I don't treat them any differently than I do my friends who work. Ultimately, I'm going to be a SAHM, and apparently now isn't the time for that, so I'm a working mom. But at the end of the day, we are all still moms. I don't tell people to go to work - why do they feel the need to tell me about why they are at home? It doesn't even begin to make logical sense to me. Its like my head is stuck in a cloud. Or dense fog. Or pea soup. I am completely befuddled.

My favorite phrase about why people are SAHM: "I didn't want to miss anything in my children's lives, so I stay at home." Right. That's why I choose to work - because I don't want to know anything about my kids, etc (sarcasm is heavy here, friends). 

And people don't say these things with an air of "matter-of-fact" about them. There's always a sneer that is a bit hard to miss, or a look down the nose, etc. And trust me. I've been looking past this for so long that I can't anymore. I've gone past numb and apathetic to raw and exposed; vulnerable.

Case and point: I could really use a friend. A real friend.

For months now, I've been beating myself up about why I don't have friends - real friends. The list goes on and on, and as soon as I start to see sunlight, I beat myself down again, and tell myself I don't deserve that happiness.

I was talking to a friend who lives a long ways away about how her mom worked while she was growing up. She asked her mom one day about why she didn't have a lot of friends, to which her mom replied something like, "I guess I never had time for it. I had you and your brothers, and my family and work."

I guess I don't have time for it. I don't have time to gossip about mutual friends, or acquaintances. I don't want to spend my life like that - yet all of the girls I know who have good friends do that to each other....can someone explain that to me? Honestly - I just don't get it. Not a judgement, just an observation. Really - I don't get it.

When I go to work, children are being diagnosed with cancer. Life is bigger than what so-and-so said to you last week. I guess I have a skewed perspective.

Living here is hard because you don't see all those hard working moms like you do back east. (And I say hard because life is hard for everyone...regardless of where you do your work - at home with your kids or both in the office and at home.) Back east, everyone's mom works...for the most part - and its a way of life. People reach out and car pool without a second thought - people don't throw it in your face all the time -why? Because its life. I bet my mom had some hard times because she didn't work. Its the same thing I'm facing now, just on the other side of the fence.

I would give anything to move. Because for a few minutes, that would fix the problem. I know its not the real solution. But its a heck of a lot nicer to dream about than waking up to the stark reality that you're dead lonely. And why are you lonely? Because no one can spare an ounce of kindness to reach out and support; they only have time to bash what they hate - instead of promoting what and who they love - which should be all of us. We should all love and promote one another.

Oh, and I also really want world peace.


So, why am I going to try to blog more frequently? Because as I do, I am reminded of my true friends: my family. A husband who is my best friend, which is probably why I don't have a lot of others. He fills so many roles and excels at them. And a little man who keeps me busy. I know that I am the best mom for Ethan, and part of being that mom is making the best decisions for my family. Working is one of those decisions. And so is playing with him. And reading to him. And feeding him cookies instead of lunch. Happiness comes in many forms, and for now, family is mine. Hopefully I will count my many blessings more often and fill my life with the joy that is already here, waiting to be realized.

Acree Family Pictures

 Earlier last month, I took some photos for my good friends, the Acrees! It was fra-eezing cold outside and luckily none of us got frostbite! Hopefully we'll do pictures in October next year, right Sarah!? haha Here are just a few of these sweet friends.


These two girls have the longest eyelashes of all tine. I cannot believe it. Sarah wanted this captured, and I quite agree!

December Begins!

 Just a handsome little man. That's all.

New tricks: climbing in the laundry basket. This week, I taught him to stand on top of it (when its flipped over) to see out of the window. Here's to hoping he doesn't fall off. haha

On December 3rd, Tyler and I got all dolled up and went to his work Christmas party, which was at the Leonardo, downtown Salt Lake. An incredible snow storm piled SLC with snow that day, so it was an adventure trying to get there.

The Leonardo was displaying the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it was so cool. Ty reads ancient Hebrew, so it was cool to see him look at the scriptures they had displayed on the wall in Hebrew and translate them. The scrolls are so tiny that you can't really read them! There was so much history presented - they did a fabulous job of setting up this exhibit. We really enjoyed ourselves!

 We weren't allowed to take pictures past this point. These are water vases, used to bring water to the king's household. You can tell because the handles are marked with insignia meaning "Belonging to the King" and beautiful symbols. iPhones don't really do it justice ;)

Here are some ballerinas that I made at work...

And pretty snowflakes!

These are the wreaths we had last year....

And the wreaths I made this year - this one is much tinier than last years; I really enjoy making things with paper...if you can't tell. 

We also went Christmas shopping during that first week of December, and got a tree!!
Here's a tiny bubba sized tree. Sorry about the lighting! It is so dark now!

 We got it home and then drilled a hole in the center of the trunk so that it gets more water!

Then Tyler tightened up the stand, and we set out to decorate!

 The finished product, minus the star...which I still don't have.

The perfect tree...

 Blurry, but you get the picture.

Also blurry, but what a cute lumberjack!

Just checking out the tree! He hasn't really touched it yet or tried to destroy it. Keep your fingers crossed. 
Tyler bought Ethan a Transformer's bathrobe, before he was even born. He's too big for it now, but its still so funny to put him in it. 

Snow in the backyard:

How we feel about snow in the backyard:

Its going to be a long winter. 
In all fairness, I did dump him out into the snow off of his sled. 
On accident. 
But still. Not fun.
And it was like 9 degrees out or something. 
And the snowsuit was too small. 
I officially give up.