Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Goals - How did I do?

On this last day of 2013, I wanted to check back on how I did on my 2013 goals. As you see, I posted three goals. Here is how I did!

(1) PHR exam - I did not complete this goal. I even bought some study guides. However learning a new job quickly took over as a 2013 professional goal. I'm recommitting to this goal for 2014. So much so that I listed it on my self-appraisal at work. Yikes. Nothing like telling your boss that lights a fire under you!

(2) Attend a fundraiser - Check! In March, we attended a fundraiser for the Second Harvest Food Bank.

(3) Be more intentional/acts of kindness - Check! I think this will always be a goal of mine. This was a continuation from 2012. Here are some of the things I did to meet this goal:

    • Volunteered to edit and revamped several friends' resumes (Both IRL and Twitter friends)
    • On being intentional with my time - I joined the Junior League of Jacksonville in August. I have really enjoyed learning about the organization, spending time with other women who have a spirit of giving back to the community and participating in various volunteer activities.
    • Baking for my co-workers on their birthdays
    • Helping out a busy friend by wrapping her family Christmas presents
    • Participating in a Seven Project bible study - The food, possessions and media areas were big lessons in intentionality for me.
    • Started blogging on fiscal responsibility, helping me to be more intentional about where our money goes
    • Increased philanthropy, which I shared here
Still finalizing my 2014 goals. Nothing like a little procrastination to start the year!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Planning for 2014

My Twitter timeline is currently filled with memories of 2013, wishes for a better 2014 and excitement over new planners. Planners really have evolved over the years. I remember when I was fresh out of college, I took a Franklin Covey Productivity class as part of my training at the consulting firm where I had my first grown up job. I wish I remembered more about the class, but some of the details that stuck with me included:

  • Breaking down goals into practical implementation steps with measurable outcomes
  • Prioritizing and coding tasks to note what could be delayed (marked with a -->), in-progress (IP) and completed (a checkmark)
We received a FC Daily planner as part of the class. In researching for this post, I was amazed to see that the pages still look the same!

Now, there are so many choices. From Erin Condren to Whitney English to Momgenda, there are various stylish ways to keep your life in order.

So which one do I use?


I think these planners are so pretty and lovely. I really do! The main reasons I don't use them are: (1) I hate my handwriting and (2) I need a way to share my calendar with Jeff.

So we use Google calendar for now. Since joining Junior League, it has been especially important to have a way to share with Jeff as those JL events generally require him to be home with Jack. Some of the other events (JL and otherwise) may be ones where we both attend. I name the appointments using the following naming convention:

Nat - JL - Volunteer at Instrument Zoo
Nat/Jeff - JL - Whale of a Sale preview party

In the notes, I'll include where Jack will be (if not with Jeff).  If it is during the work week, I'll indicate if Jeff needs to pick up Jack from his Gammy or if I will prior to my meeting/appointment. I'll also set the reminders for both pop up and email. 

If anyone has any tips on smarter ways to use Google calendar, please let me know! Also if you use a paper planner, let me know which one!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our First Family Christmas Card

I am never organized enough to get Christmas cards out. However, I managed to get it together enough to get one ordered and mailed out. Being that this was my first time at this, I was not anticipating the cost of cards. I decided to only send cards to family who did not have Facebook. That is around 25.

The picture is courtesy of my sister, who took it while we were on vacation in Asheville. I was going to do family pics, but again, not organized enough to get that scheduled. Plus, the whole car expense thing reared its ugly head! I would like to get them done at some point in 2014. Resolution?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mommy/Jack Day!

Last Friday, Jack and I had a Mommy/Jack day. Jack normally stays with his "Gammy" (J's mom) while J and I  are at work. She had an appointment on Friday, so I took the day off from work to stay home with him. I had read about a few fun kids activities at the St. Johns Town Center. We had to head out that way to visit an old boss of mine and the weather was ideal for fun!

Wolfson Children's Hospital opened up a new children's play "shore" aka as a playground. There were lots of sea themed toys for climbing and exploring. It had a very nice canopy covering it, ideal for super sunny Florida days. We ended up crashing a playgroup. All the kids were right around Jack's age! He spent the first few minutes shyly peeking from behind my leg. He warmed up though and it was no time that I was chasing him around the play space. 

We headed to Barnes and Noble next to find the train table. I'm thinking that we will get one for Jack on the 2nd birthday. Till then, I've been finding places that have them to see if he's interested. This time was the first time he was captivated by it! It made me realize what a big boy he is now :(

After picking up some pajamas (he is a 2T now due to height), we had a fun lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. I'm always a tad nervous when we go out to eat. What if this is the time he decides to dump his food on the floor? We lucked out as he did great!!

By the time lunch was over, it was back home for us. It took about 15 seconds for him to fall asleep for his nap.

When he woke up, his Auntie (my sister) had arrived. After numerous repeated Sesame Street YouTube videos, we walked to the park. We always try the swing each time. It's not that he hates it. He just seems ambivalent! He smiled for like 30 seconds then he was over it. He's more of a slide kind of guy I guess!

All in all, it was just a wonderful day. I wish I could take more days off to have these Mommy/Jack days! It always feels a little more special when it happens during the work week. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fiscal Friday: Choosing to DIY

It's Fiscal Friday! Today is about my choice to DIY.

I am a big fan of traditional Christmas cards. I don't mean the photo ones (love those too!), but the ones you buy from Hallmark or your local CVS. Wanting to capitalize on my Extra Care bucks, I decided to purchase cards from CVS this year. I buy parents cards, grandparents cards, husband etc etc. I probably picked up 10 cards. After throwing in a couple of gift cards and a bottle of allergy pills, I go to the register and someone in a matter of minutes, I've spent close to $150 bucks.

I get home and resume the daily nighttime activities (bath for Jack, dinner, bedtime). In the quietness of a home with a sleeping toddler, I review my receipt from CVS. I wanted to throw up. I'd spent just shy of $50 on GREETING CARDS. 10 Greeting cards. I felt so sick.

It was in that moment that I decided that we'll be making cards this year. Something with Jack's handprint. I've got a stack of construction paper already. I just need some washable paint! They won't be Hallmark, but I think my family will appreciate them a bit more.

And the $50 worth of Christmas cards? I returned them the next day.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Year of Giving

In 2013, giving back to the community was a theme. In the past, we have donated clothes to charities for resale and participated in food drives during the holidays. This year, we did our best to give year round. Here are the organizations we have supported and the reasons why we did.

The Second Harvest Food Bank provides food to numerous community agencies in the North Florida area. These community agencies then distribute to individuals who are struggling to provide food for themselves and their family. In March, we attended the Great Chefs Competition, which was a fundraiser for Second Harvest. 100% of the ticket sales went to Second Harvest. It was a fun event for a wonderful cause.

I also led the food drive for my work this year. It was a rewarding experience to deliver 351 pounds of food to their main warehouse!

Why did we choose Second Harvest? Bottom line? Food is really important in our home. We show love through food. And I am super cranky when I don't eat. Seriously though, the thought of families not being able to eat breaks our heart. For so many kids, their main meal comes from their school. We love being able to contribute in some way to reduce the number of hungry people in our community.

BEAM stands for Beaches Emergency Assistance Mission. Their mission is to help keep families in their homes as well as help them become self-sufficient. Among their many services include job/interview assistance, a local food pantry (including gardening boxes for people to grow their own veggies), and assistance with utility bills.  They also organize a Holiday Gift Program to help play Santa for hundred of local Beaches children.

Why BEAM? Their focus is helping people in our local Beaches community. They help folks who could be my neighbor or someone I see in the grocery store. You never know. I'm hoping to spend time in 2014 assisting people with their resumes and interviewing skills.

The Church of Eleven22 is my home church. They organize numerous mission trips each year. This year, we were able to support friends who were embarking on their first Mission trip as a married couple. They are a Godly couple who live their faith out loud.

Why support? Because the work they will be doing is important!!

Wolfson Children's Hospital is our local Children's hospital. Rather than each community hospital having in-patient facilities, our local hospitals refer all the pediatric patients to Wolfson. We've had good friends whose children have been admitted in the past. The staff is nothing short of amazing. Being a non-profit, they depend on development relationships for a lot of their funding. 

Why Wolfson? First and foremost, supporting them is a way to thank them for all the great care they have provided to First Coast children for many years. Since becoming parents, it is even more important that we do what we can to help their mission.

I learned about Friends of Jacksonville Animals (a.k.a FOJA) from my friend LL. She is very active in advancing their mission of raising funds to benefit the lives of shelter animals. They are heavily involved in adoption events around the city. The dedicated volunteers of FOJA give a voice to our animal friends.

So why FOJA? Our dog Truffle is a rescue. We adopted him from another family who no longer could care for him. They adopted him from a shelter. He had been found abandoned with his brothers and sisters in Central Florida. I could not imagine our lives without Truffle. He's not the most polite dog, but he is ours. Period.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. These organizations are all doing something important for our community!