My New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Do you set any? I didn’t set any formal ones last year because I have so much trouble keeping them, but this year, I’ll try to set some and see where they go:

1) Exercise for 30 minutes at least twice a week.

2) Strive to eat healthier as a family–it’s impractical for us to eliminate all “junk” or processed food, but we can use our CSA (community supported agriculture), local farms, and eating out less often to help us eat more whole, unprocessed foods more often than we do. And “more often” is better than not at all, right?

3) Do our best as a family to make fewer impulse purchases, continue savings via investments and a new savings account, learn to effectively budget our money, analyze purchases we do make.

4) Organize our house and purge anything we don’t use or want anymore. Try to keep a tidier home.

5) Have all Christmas shopping completed (minus homemade gifts) by October 31st.

6) Be more patient and loving toward my family. Think before I react out of anger.

7) Travel more often, even if the trips aren’t lengthy or are just “day trips.”

8) Develop a hobby or two that I will enjoy–maybe I will pursue painting, or if that ends up not being “for me,” focus more on photography, or take horseback riding lessons, learn to sew, something….

9) Take the little ones to more events, do more activities, strive to enjoy as much as I can with them while they are little, because they grow so quickly….

Our Anniversary/Christmas/Birthday Trip to New York City

Pics from our first trip to the Big Apple. This was the first time for both my husband and me, and it was a combined wedding anniversary/Christmas/my birthday gift. The snow and ice were miserable, we were exhausted and sore from walking 61+ blocks in one day, and our bus ride home was through a snowstorm–but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat! I might be a country girl at heart, but every now and again, I need the rush of new experiences and the big city.

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A Month of Gratitude, #29-30

I cannot believe that the month of November is nearly over already. I feel like I just started this goal of 30 gratitude postings only a couple days ago. On the one hand, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief that they are over, and I’m a bit happy to go back to more normal postings, as well. But, this was a worthy goal, as it forced me, even during some rather crabby times, to reflect upon my blessings.

So……to finish out the month–

29) I am grateful that my little family does not cater to Black Friday, as we ended up having a wonderful time together relaxing as a family.

30) I am also grateful that we DO support Small Business Saturday. We were able to send our well-wishes to our local toy store (who is closing their doors after 11 years), who also supplied us with $35+ dollars of merchandise for $7.91, and we also went to our favorite, local, European inspired cafe for some dessert. Yum!

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The Hunger of Greed

I was watching a little television after our Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon, and I noticed a public service announcement about hunger in America. The PSA was a spot for a charity called Feeding America, and Dr. Phil McGraw was the celebrity spokesperson sharing facts about hunger in America with the viewers. He stated, via the non-profit’s studies, that 1 in 6 people in America, the richest country in the world, go hungry. He also stated that 1 in 5 children are going hungry in America as well. If you look on the Feeding America website, they claim that “in 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.” These are statistics that an average citizen expects to hear elsewhere–we’re used to thinking that malnutrition and hunger exists in underdeveloped, third world countries, and not in the United States. What is really frightening is the fact that there are also many children who are both clinically obese and malnourished at the same time due to the diet given to them at home–whatever the reasons may be, be it financial, parenting skills, location, lack of education, etc.

Immediately after the PSA alerting the American public of the growing hunger epidemic on our soil, I saw a commercial from Toys ‘R’ Us for Black Friday, advertising toys and game consoles for hundreds of dollars–big, bold, bright, eye catching fonts to attract the attention of both children and parents. You must have this toy NOW! Everyone else will have this toy! This specific item will make or break your children’s holiday! Buy! Buy! Buy!

To be fair to Toys ‘R’ Us, they were not the only Black Friday advertisement I saw–JCPenney had an ad with a family being encouraged by carolers to hurry, hurry, hurry, and clear those Thanksgiving dinner plates because it is time to shop, shop, shop (no exaggeration). I also saw advertisements for Kohl’s, a mattress store, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and my email inbox was glutted throughout the day with images and banners trying to convince me to go out and spend money I don’t have. Don’t have it to spend this year? No worries, friend, we have CREDIT for you! Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate shared a story on their website where they show their audience that Black Friday sales aren’t really the best deals around, and parents and grandparents disregarded this, and made comments like, “I will not make my kids or grandkids wait (for the hot presents this year.)”

I saw these two ads juxtaposed, one discussing rampant hunger in America, and the other epitomizing the gluttony that has consumed our holidays and many of our citizens, who, might I add, trample each other in big box stores to get a cheap flat screen television, and I just felt nauseous.

Where are our priorities? When did our nation become so greedy, so gluttonous? When did we stick our heads in the sand, willing to ignore those suffering around us? When did we start putting “things” and plastic Chinese toys and kitchen electrics over providing for our families, our neighbors, our loved ones?

The system is broken, folks.

Stop glorifying Black Friday, stop buying on credit, stop purchasing in excess. Stop stampeding into stores on Black Friday, with complete and utter disregard for those around you, just to fill a cart full of “stuff.” Just plain stop.

No one is saying not to buy Christmas gifts, but do it in cash. Support your local businesses. Make more gifts, give more time, and less trinkets. And instead of focusing so much time and attention on scoring the best deal at midnight tonight, consider volunteering your time at a food pantry instead tomorrow, or donating a meal, or spend more time paying attention to those who might be in need around you. Learn to garden, to put food by, to cook from scratch, to mend, to do without sometimes.

The fact that 1 in 6 Americans in this nation are going hungry should be the priority tonight–not camping outside of the shopping mall.

Food for thought.

A Month of Gratitude, #27-28

Today I am grateful for:

27) The fact that I am able to spend the day cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, feast even, for my family, in a safe, warm house. There are others in the world who are nowhere near as blessed, and I know that I can never, ever comprehend what others must go through in different places and cultures. There is violence and bloodshed, malnutrition, horrific natural disasters, so many who are homeless–and I am in a cozy little country home making my family more food than we’ll likely eat in three days. It’s a humbling thought.

28) I am also grateful for my parents. I miss being with them on Thanksgiving, but it was nice to be able to spend an hour on the phone with them today. I just wish they were able to be with us, but we are indeed thinking of them today.