What a week to be thankful!

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The thing about thanksgiving that I always want to remember is no matter how insane, how much work or how stressed out I get, I am thankful, for so many things.

As so many people would agree, not all those things, are well, things.

This year was an exceptionally crazy week to be thankful.

Thanksgiving Quote - Joyce Girard

Last week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was two days after her 14-year old beloved dog crossed over the rainbow bridge.

This week, I had to take the week off (thankfully my project was also not going to be worked on this week) to take care of my children while they were out of school.

I had planned a fun filled week of movies, making crafts, desserts, and I was even planning to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I don’t have issues with that kind of thing.

We saw a movie in the theater (Big Hero 6 and I highly recommend it,) went to see my dad twice in the past three days at his rehab facility where he is recovering from the open heart surgery, and got to see some cousins.

I took my youngest this week to see his new daycare facility, and he will be there from 715 AM to 330 PM three days a week, and not being taken care of at his home for the first time in any of my three children’s’ lives.

The tree hasn’t gone up (but it will soon) and I spent an entire day helping my sister-in-law with her two-year old triplet children while my brother took his brother-in-laws, including my husband, shooting guns.

It’s been an emotional, stressful, crazy-filled couple of weeks leading up to this week.

Every once in a while, the Lord blesses me with an experience or two during my “Oh-woe-is-me” weeks (or month.)

I was blessed to see another family in action and be glad that I have the children I had and the husband I had.

My husband took the time to go see my father, because he knew I was stressed about it and it relieved me so much for him to be there.

I have been blessed by my mother-in-laws attitude.  She has been rock solid for her grown children through all that has been happening and I remembered how strong of a women she is.  I’ve seen this side of her before and even with all her beautiful feminine traits that I envy, she shows a strength that I’ve only seen my stoic paternal grandmother show in times of great stress.  It’s pretty amazing.

Remember how blessed you are this week.  Health is such a blessing.

For today, I will be eating, drinking and being merry, as well as giving thanks for so many blessings, as well as the trials.

I am one who just doesn’t see the blessings without the trials.  I wish this wasn’t true, but I am thankful that this is all I have to deal with.

Walgreens Holiday Savings | Gift Guide

Disneyland Memes

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I’m not funny.

You’re not reading this blog because I’m funny, sassy, sarcastic, or witty.

I’m just me – but I am real and I want everyone who reads my blog, including my children (when they start reading it) know that I’m the real person behind the typing.

With all that said, I titled this post Disneyland Memes, but they aren’t the funny, witty memes you’re probably thinking of.

This post is on the insanity and the more interesting memories I had while on a five day vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth.

 There’s no real tips here, just memories.  Maybe I’ll get ambitious one day and give you some things we learned, but for today, I’m just sharing my favorite memories. 1Happy Place

Preface to the memes notes (the only real “vacation tips” you’ll get):

1. Even though we were there for five days, we went for three full days and only a part of the day for the first and fifth day.  The extra expense was worth it for the “calmness” factor.  We didn’t feel rushed like we were going to miss something because of the five day ticket purchase.

2.  I have three children, ages three (3), four (4) and eight (8).  The eight year old met the minimum age requirement to ride by himself.  That was a bonus because we are an odd numbered family. That was an unplanned yet fantastic advantage.0Kids on Caseys Train

3.  The three year old still takes naps.  We left the park every full day around 1 PM to 2 PM to have the two youngest take a nap.  The first full day, the oldest took a nap for about 45-minutes too  It worked well because the kids were rested for staying up past each of his/her bedtimes.

My Favorite Memories of Disneyland

I talked with my children what each of his/her favorite memories were.  My oldest’s favorite memory was making his own Light Saber.  My daughter’s favorite memory was riding the Matterhorn with her daddy and my youngest said his favorite memory was riding on Splash Mountain.

My favorite memory of my oldest:

In the future, I expect him to be angry at me for posting this memory, but it’s what happened and I will probably never forget it.

Sometimes you have to put on your rosy-colored glasses. Memes from Disneyland, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Sometimes you have to put on your rosy-colored glasses.
Memes from Disneyland, DeAndrasCrafts.com

My oldest didn’t go on two rides that his younger sister and brother went on.  He chose to sit it out at the exit.  The important part of this memory for me is that he knows himself.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  My 8-year old son KNEW that he wasn’t going to be able to handle two roller coasters and he chose to sit on the other side of the coaster near the exit while his other family members rode the coasters.  It was both kind-of sad and amazing to me at the strength this little boy had to tell his mom and dad that he didn’t want to go on them.

My favorite memory about my daughter:

Always remember you are a princess. Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Always remember you are a princess.
Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

On the first evening, we ate a Character Dining restaurant (Goofy’s Kitchen,) and my daughter was TERRIFIED of the masked creatures before her.  She was crying and telling us over and over again that she didn’t want to pose with Goofy, Minnie, Pluto, or Chip & Dale who were all in costume and wandering around throughout the dinner.  Towards the end of the evening, the actor or actress inside the Dale suit made it his or her mission to get my daughter to not freak out when a character was nearby.  “Dale”the chipmunk was able to get close to my daughter and even took a photo with her (in her daddy’s lap of course) as she realized that the characters were not going to hurt her.

Not quite understanding where this trauma came from, we were hoping that our next experience with character dining wasn’t going to be so traumatic.  We had breakfast on day three at Ariel’s Grotto, inside the park itself, and got to meet three princesses, including Ariel, Cinderella (above) and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog movie.  My daughter embraced these women as the real princesses they were to her and recounted throughout the remaining part of the vacation all the princesses she met.  (She met princess Jazmine from the movie Aladdin later on that day.)  It was awesome.

 My favorite memory of my youngest:

Basically this:

Dance like no one is watching. Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Dance like no one is watching.
Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Probably one of the most enjoyable moments of my mothering life to date, my youngest danced to music playing during a parade at California Adventures.  It was incredibly adorable and memorable.  His expressions as he saw his favorite characters pass by in real life were priceless and made the entire trip worth it.

The Most Excruciating Memory (because they aren’t always good)….

5Expect some crazy

I could have cared less if we saw the “Fantasmic” or whatever it’s called light show at the end of the evening near the pirate island.  We did that on the end of the third day (second full day) and I was reminded of why I am a full-time working momma, not a stay-at-home mama.  That was one tough thirty-minutes.

The day was pretty great, the two youngest got about an hour nap each and we had enjoyed many rides that we didn’t have to wait too long in lines for.  But for some reason, five minutes before the light show began, my children were crying and throwing fits all at the same time.  My husband and I stared at each other in disbelief.  It was embarrassing, but as my wise husband told me later, “We don’t know those people.”

I had to hold one or the other of my youngest in my arms, and they each weigh close to 40-pounds.  The youngest was definitely done for the day by the time the show started and was putting his head on my shoulder off and on during the 15-minute program.  Oh, did I mention I had my leg brace on because I had a patella realignment surgery seven weeks ago and we had to stand the whole time?  It was not fun for me.  But, it was memorable for my husband and he got to check it off his personal “Disneyland Bucket List” that he had in his head and I am grateful that we did it.  Ugh.

My Top Three Personal Favorite Memories

Life is a trip. Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Life is a trip.
Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

What surprised me the most was how much I loved Cars Land.  The photo above was taken in Filmore’s natural eats area.  My children are (for the most part) willing to pose for photos with me and this was no exception.  I am so glad we went to this area during the evening to see all the neon lit up.  It was both beautiful and extremely cool.

Everyone's a Character.... Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Everyone’s a Character….
Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

We stood in line for about fifteen to twenty minutes to see two fairies, Fawn (the animal fairy) and Tinker Bell, (a tinker fairy.)  My whole family is familiar with the world of fairies thankfully due to Netflix.

Tinker Bell is by far the most rebellious fairy in Pixie Hollow (in my opinion) but there are many other fairies to get to know in the short movies.

The actress playing Fawn in the photo above was phenomenal.  She was truly a woman who has been around children and dare I say, even like them; she was engaging all three kids like they were there to see her.  This was the moment that made Disneyland’s character portrayal’s important to me.

And lastly, I will not forget –

Stay true to yourself. Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

Stay true to yourself.
Disneyland Memes, DeAndrasCrafts.com

We walked into the “Innovations” area not really knowing what to expect.  One of the first things I saw when we walked in was every Iron Man Suit created.

My jaw dropped.

I started crying the happy tears.

It was like a stupid dream coming true.

But you know what, it was my dream coming true.  That’s what Walt Disney wanted (according to the movie we watched about him.)  My understanding of watching one of his biographical movies (while at the park) was that he wanted there to be one thing that you felt was the reason you went there for, and that one thing would be different for everybody.

The Iron Man suit exhibit was my one thing.

Bravo Disney people.  You got this one hard-nosed Marvel/Star Wars fanatic to know why I went there, and it wasn’t just for my children.

Catching Up with My Mom

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The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it.My mom has been in the hospital for four days since writing this post.

I have had some of the best one-hour blocks of time that I have had in my recent memory with her.  No kids around to interrupt, no worries outside of the hospital bed and occasional interruption of a meal being delivered and a nurse checking blood pressure.  I have spent time talking with her, getting her thoughts down about life, finding out where stuff is, etc., during lunch hours and the hour after work for these past four days.

She looks great, given that she’s had two heart attacks in the past four days.  I have been given a gift of peace that I haven’t had before with her eventual and ever-nearing passing.

She feels it too.

So what’s different?

Why have I been blessed this way?

I wish I had the answer.  What I can tell you is my part of the story.

Proverbs 18:15

I got a phone call from the hospital on Friday morning and the person who called me told me “Your mom would like family to be around her right now.”

Did you feel the chill I did when you read that?

My first response was “Okay.  I’ll be right there.”

The next ten minutes were a blur of calling my brother, my husband, my boss, my father, and going to the bathroom (in that order) before locking my office and getting in the car.  I didn’t turn off the computer and I calmly drove the ten minutes that my office is from the hospital.

In those ten minutes that I drove to the hospital, I felt Christ himself with me, telling me it was going to be okay.

If you don’t believe in Christ, then I don’t know how you found this blog or why you are reading it now.  I’m not your preachin-it-to-you type, and I can give a list of blogs of other people I support and follow that can help you in that department.

But I know what I felt.

She was in the ER on the CPAP machine and the nurse was giving me the run-down of what happened and what the doctors’ said.  I pulled out the directive I have been working on with my mom last month and was able to give her directions very clearly to the doctor and nurse.  My mom signed her do-not-recesiuatate form (a DNR), and again, I was given a gift of peace that I could only get from the Lord – to know that it was going to be okay.

I’ve been working on this – this part of life I – nor my mother or brother or father want to work on – to get things ready. It’s only been a month since I’ve started, but I’ve been working on it. Maybe that’s why I’m being blessed now….

I’ve visited and read the bible to her, talked about my children with her, given her kisses, held her hand and told her she can stay with my family when she gets out.  She’s going to be in there a few more days, continuing to get dialysis, and no one has told me how much time she has left.  It’s because no one knows.

But I am at peace and there is no other feeling like it.

I may not “be ready” when she goes, but I am at peace because I know where she’s going.

10 Things this Working Mom wants for Mother’s Day

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Oh the ultimate question of marital bliss (as a mom) for the whole year from my husband:
“So what do you want for Mother’s Day?”

I’ve been married to this man for 17 years.

I’ve had his children and been a mom of a living child for the past 8 years.

And he asks me what I want for Mother’s Day.

<Insert big sigh.>

In his defense, my husband works from home, takes the kids to school, makes their lunches, and usually makes dinner.  (So please don’t get me wrong – he is an amazing man.)

Considering my wonderful husband doesn’t know what I REALLY want I’m going to tell him, right here, right now.

10 Things for Working Moms DayI didn’t put this list in any particular order, but just random thoughts that came into my mind as I contemplate my “wants.”

(1) Time to sleep

Oh the precious gift sleep is.  I have three children ranging from 8 to 3 years old and have every desire in the world to be with them. Sleeping baby

But for one morning – JUST ONE MORNING – can I be the one to get to sleep in?

(2) Alone time with my hobby

NOTE: That did not say “hubby.” (That’s another one below.)

This for me is to crochet or finish a book I’ve been trying to read for years.  I’m not talking about one-hour; I’m asking for at least four hours.  (Maybe more.  I know eventually I’d get bored.)

The three books I have in my library to read when-I-get-to: “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, “Start” by Jon Acuff, and “Smart Money Smart Kids” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze.  I’m looking forward to starting the latter two and finishing the “Life of Pi.”

(3) Adult time with my hubby adult time with the hubby(My love is 6′-5″ and I’m 5′-2″…)

Yeah, you read that right!  This would probably be a date of some sort doing something, you know, adult-like.  One of the perks of getting-married-to-your-best-friend kind of thing.

In my case I’d like to eat clam chowder on the coast of California somewhere and walk on a beach in the evening with no kiddos and just the man the Lord created for me.

I got to get him to work on that one….

(4) Think about the time I told you when I wanted ….


(I get that this one is hard for my husband.)  I can remember what we got for our wedding and who gave it to us.  He can’t remember what he ate for breakfast yesterday.

I’m sure I told you about those Work Boots (size 8) and that purse (it’s black.)  How cool would it be to get one of those things all of a sudden, because you remembered?

(5) Check my Amazon Wish List

I know, this can be a hassle but I’ve already arranged my list in order by what I want first and how high the priority is – just in case.

I’m just saying.

(6) Check my Etsy Favorites List

Did you know I had an Etsy favorites list?  It’s a little heart on the Etsy website where I get to click the things I REALLY LIKE but they might be too expensive or just-not-the-right-time-to-get kind of things.  I like handmade shirts, crochet patterns, earrings, etc.  Pretty much anything on that list would be great to get, because it looks like you KNOW ME!

Hint, hint: You will have to create an account to find me as a friend and follow me to see what I like.

(7) Schedule a professional portrait session with a highly recommended photographer

A little on the pricy side for some, this is something that has become very important to me.  I want to capture those beautiful little faces with the right lighting, hand-selected clothes that coordinate, and non-fake love that only those photographers are able to capture in photos.  I know this can cost a good chunk of change, but it’s worth it because it’s not just for me, it’s for our three little beings we brought into our lives too.

(8) Get my kids to talk with me and know me better

I found two Pinterest Pins that I’d love have done from my kids, (with your help) so that they can learn about me more.  Have our oldest ask me questions and get answers for this printable (maybe over dinner a few nights during the week) and have the little ones answer these questions about me so you can read them to me.

(9) Pick out photos with our kids about special times with me and get them printed

I’m not asking for anything fancy.  You know just as well as I that our photos are stored on disks and jump drives and computers.  Buy a 20-page photo album for 4×6 photos, and send a few photos to the printer.  Or organize some of the photos we do have printed (because you know we’re older than the digital age) and pull some of those out to put in an album.

One word:

(10) Please give me all the handmade gifts my children made
There really is nothing more important to me at the end of the day than those little handmade cards and possibly gifts that the kids made.

If they want to make me cookies or a cake, I don’t care if it’s not in my “healthy eating diet” – I am going to eat a few or a slice.  I put those handmade pencil holders on my desk at work.  I sigh as I re-read and stare at the cards and homemade drawings I hang on my walls and on the fridge at home.  It’s all important and I want them to know that.

I hope this list helps.  I’ll be over here waiting patiently for you to ask me again what I would like for Mother’s Day because now I’m ready.

Getting It Done, sort of…..

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Getting It Done

I haven’t posted about my 30-days of hustle experience for quite some time, as Easter has taken its place.

I got over the “dip” (a term I learned that happens when you are trying to accomplish a goal) in trying to finish my mother’s advanced directive.

We actually read and filled out four pages!
I am so grateful for this.  We got to the part of the directive that discussed medications, and we stopped because she didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Quite the win if you ask me.

I am grateful for this, Easter Sunday, where my mom and I were able to communicate clearly, talk about some deep stuff (as far as dealing with her eventual death) and get a piece of a goal done.

Yay!Romans 15:13 - Overflow with HopeHappy Resurrection Day too.

No longer a hustle – Now a run

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Run, Run, Run - Quote by Jose HarrisAs a “newbie” getting fit fanatic, I have a new appreciation for running.

The few times I have actually jogged, (cause it’s really not “running” as I think of it) I see how many calories one can burn by doing this rather than just walking.  Even riding a bike burns less calories over the same distance.

My husband found this out by tracking his jog and comparing it to a long bike ride over the course of a couple of days.  He jogged for 2.5-miles and burned over 600 calories, and compared it to his biking 8-miles and burned only 500+ calories.  It was a really good object lesson for the both of us.

The few times I have tried jogging, I started jogging until I felt kind-of sick.  That’s when I knew it was time to start walking and take a drink of water.  It was harder than I thought!  As I felt better, I would start to jog again, and instead of feeling sick, I would feel out of breath and would start walking again.  I would continue this cycle until my goal of 30-minutes of working out was up, and of course, I felt so proud of myself and good after the exercise (like everyone says you will.)

If anything that this 30-days of Hustle Challenge has been for me its to keep my goal in mind.

I know why I am doing it.

So today’s question to us was “How?”The paperwork to do this thing....

My three answers on how will I accomplish this goal are:

(1) I will read through the paper work and get familiar with it.

(2) I will plan a day (one for now) to hang out with my mom to work on the paper work.

(3) I will talk to my family about the decisions, keeping my brother, husband and even my dad in the loop so that no one is surprised, and build up a support system to keep my goal in mind.

I think I figured out today that I am slightlly ashamed that we are doing this.  It seems like no one talks about it, but everyone who is supportive also seems to know how important it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been “running” all this time with her sickness, knowing about the diseases, knowing that she is going to pass, sooner than the rest of us, etc.

But it hasn’t been as effective as one would think it is.  Being in denial seems easier.

Of course, that’s not running efficiently because I’m not getting anywhere, either.

[Another big sigh.]

This is hard.

I know, I know…. I’ll look up and feel good about it in the end.

Day Two of “The Hustle” – Why?

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Gratitude-EmersonThe second day of hustle for me.  The question posed to the “hustlers” (I really do love that term) is “Why?”

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Day2 - Why do I need to Hustle?  My mom has been sick for a long time.  This photo was taken in March of 2013 and it’s of me and my brother sitting next to our mom, as she received her very first dialysis treatment.

My "Why" I need to hustle...

Here it is as I write this, almost exactly one year later, I am trying to prepare for her eventual passing.

So in yesterday’s post, I described that my one goal for the next thirty days is to complete her advanced written directive.

I’ve learned so much about California law in the past couple weeks, thanks to unforeseen craziness on my mom’s side of the family.  I got to speak to a lawyer for the first time ever in my life and she informed me that because my parents are still married, even though they haven’t been together for 20+years (isn’t that a crazy part of life) that my father would be in charge of her final wishes if she was unable to communicate.

Before I continue, the facts you need to know are:

(1) My father is my children’s nanny and I see him every week day.

(2) My parents get along very well and see each other about three times a week because my father helps me with her needs (getting food, etc.) besides bringing her to my home to see her grandkids on non-dialysis days.

(3) My parents live in two separate places.

And (4) My mother is legally blind and is dying of congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and goes to dialysis three times a week.  She’s had both stints put in her arteries and open heart surgery.  One year ago, one doctor told us that she probably doesn’t have more than 5-years to live.

Why am I going to help my mom complete her advanced directive in the next 28-days:

My mom is dying.  The Lord knows when she is going to pass, but she doesn’t want my father to be the one to make decisions for her if she cannot communicate her wishes.

[Big sigh.]

Just writing that above sentence made the in-denial-monkey come back…..

But –

I am thankful, that this is the biggest thing I have to deal with right now.  Thank you Lord.

St. Patrick – The Patron St. of Engineers

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An Old Irish BlessingAh, St. Patrick’s Day.

A great reason to wear green, drink green beer, and try not to get pinched – anywhere, by anybody.

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I don’t know why, or should I say, I didn’t know why.  Until today.

I found out today that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Engineers.  Now, not being Catholic, the “Patron Saint” part really doesn’t mean anything to me.  But being an Engineer, the fact that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Engineers means that I have permission to like St. Patrick.

I spent a little time (an hour or so) researching him and his life, and I wanted to share a few stories.

Here’s a quick video from the History channel that was packed with information.

An Engineering Website had a funny blog about it, where the line “But then, after that (according to catholic.org), he lived in poverty, and endured much suffering until his death.  Now if that isn’t living like an engineer, I don’t know what is.”

That’s just funny to me because of my college living.

Thankfully, I don’t “suffer” for my job as an Engineer.  My family might, but you’d have to ask them.

I’d like to think that I had some sort of inherent Engineering quality that just really appreciated St. Patrick’s Day for what it was – a day to just have a party.

Now I know that the guy we are celebrating was really cool and is called the “Saint of the Engineer.”  There’s very little info on why he was chosen, but a site or two mentioned that he helped the Romans with their amazing buildings, and he is credited with developing arts and crafts (hmmm, not so sure about that one.)  I got that off of Wiki Answers, so take it for what it is… just a person like you or me writing that about him.

I have a smile on my face now though.  It’ll be good all throughout the day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you – May you be blessed and your family be safe from pinching people!

Explore. Dream. Discover….

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I have been asking myself what I am all about lately.

I mean the really thought-provoking, deep and interpersonal look-inside-your soul kind of “about.”

I had a friend on Facebook throw out the question this past week, “What did you learn in 2013?”

I am sad to say that I have yet to come up with an answer.

I know I learned “stuff,” like how to write a blog post and post html-affiliate links, etc., but I haven’t come up with the deep, meaningful, life-changing new learned thing.  I know it doesn’t have to be that.  I KNOW.  But it’s there.  I HAD TO LEARN SOMETHING LAST YEAR, right?

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

There’s a page on this blog called “About Me.”  It gives an overview of me, and asks that if you want to know more, check out my first post.  Ya, ya, ya, but what I am about?  Really?

I know what I wish I was about.  I know what I dream I could be about.  Dreaming & Discovering

When I thought of writing this post, it started out being about dreaming about the future.  Looking up a “dream quote” on the internet, I chose one that was highly rated and meant something to me.  The photo attached to the quote is a picture I took of a ground squirrel, who literally looked like he was day-dreaming while sitting on a post on a heavily used walkway overlooking a piece of the California coast.  He was sitting there, not afraid, not making any noises, not trying to be noticed in any way.  It seems silly, but it was like the squirrel was dreaming.  (I know you might be smiling right about now, but go with me on it.)

I AM sitting at a computer staring at a photo of a squirrel on a post overlooking the coast, not trying to be noticed, not afraid, not making any noises (except the obvious typing,) trying to explore my inner self.  Dreaming of what this blog could be and what I can do next.  I need to discover my priorities, even now!

Seriously, the analogies could be endless.

That’s what I’m thinking right now.  I hope it got you thinking too.

A New Year & New Me

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This has got to be my favorite quote of the whole year and for the new year!

This has got to be my favorite quote of the year and for the new year!

“Ya, ya, ya” says the voice in my head.  Why are you titling this “A New Me?”

Why not?  I’ve got so much to do.

My only new year’s resolution: To be more pro-active.

I know people who don’t make resolutions.  I like them.  I like having goals.  I don’t have to use the word “resolution” if I don’t have to, but it’s the only one I am going to follow this year and that is to be prepared and know it’s coming.

I’m ready!  Who’s with me!

Take heart; I have overcome the world.  -John 16:33