It’s Party Time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Items Purchased:0, Temptation Radar :5 ( a new collection of Mary Whitte paintings arrived at one of my favorite shops in town. YIKES!)

 

“In the eyes of Children we find the Joy of Christmas. In their hearts we find its meaning.”  — Leland Thomas

 

What an adventurous day I had with my two little ones! We celebrated Christmas with their friends at the classroom parties!  Perhaps my very favorite thing is watching them give the gifts made for the parents. I have to say, I was one happy lady.  Presents made by little hands are the very best ones!!! Tonight, the party progresses to dinner  with Steve and our friends Joe & Ginger.  We are dining at Maggiano’s, thus I will be wearing leggings and a tunic. Need I say more?

Is This What Vacation Looks Like?

Day 349: Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar:0

Thursday, December 15

My first day’s “vacation” schedule

5:30am: kids’ chocolate milk and cartoon

6:00am: Pilates

7:00am: Get everyone dressed and breakfast

8:00: fold laundry/tidy up

9:00: Head to Sam’s for misc. items

10:00: Funtasia with friends ( a BIG HIGHLIGHT!)

12:30- Chick-fil-A

1:00-3:00  Picnic lunch and nap with Annabelle & Aunt KK

3:30-5:00- Kohl’s Shopping adventure with Aunt KK & Annabelle

5:30 Grama and Papa’s house ( Steve met us and took the kids home)

5:30-10:00pm-  I was the granny nanny

Sound like vacation? No, but it sure was fun. I felt like the ultimate stay-at-home -mom! lol. Plus, I loved being able to visit with grandma and give my parents’ a break so they could attend my dad’s office Christmas Party.

I’ve Lost My Shopping Mojo!

Day 348: Items Purchased:0, Temptation Radar:0

Hi, it’s me again.  I’ve given up on further attempts to “catch up” my days missed blog posting. I think you understand, Tis the season to be runnin’. Some of the things I’ve not shared lately include a fun trip last weekend to “Lights of Lakeland”, a phenomenal Christmas Village hosted by a church in the community, a sales meeting, a fight with the United States post office, lots of laundry and Livie’s bout with the stomach virus. We are on the mend, and gearing up for an incredibly fun-filled Christmas season.

I’ve done a bit more shopping lately, as necessitated by the season.  And, in the midst of it, made another personal discovery.  My shopping endurance has diminished. I’ve lost my Shop Mojo! I have not been able to last longer than 2 hours in a mall without going home.  I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping, to date, in VERY small doses.  In fact, I still have over half the people on my list who need a gift, most importantly, my husband. With 12 days to go, I find this disturbing.  My history has been to buy, buy, buy, buy. Buy now….think about it later. This year, I’ve become a bit of a spendthrift, clutching tightly my debit card and even texting my husband today instructing him “not to buy me anything.”

WHO IS THIS WOMAN!????

This evening another peculiar behavior emerged: I went to Wal-Mart, by choice, and enjoyed it.  Actually, I thought they had a glorious selection of baking supplies and cute cupcake holders. They also boasted delightful knit hats that made me want to return the ones I purchased for the kids at Old Navy last week. While in the store, I ran into many helpful shoppers in the toy department. In fact, while being completely enamoured with a serious glowing Star Wars Light Saber, I was interrupted by a fellow shopper, and avid SW collector who wanted to explain to me all about them. This man has VERY collectible paraphernalia, and shared his admiration for the trilogy. Did I mention that he had storm troopers tattooed on his leg? Yes. He did. Despite his convincing presentation, I did not purchase the light saber or any other toys for that matter. I already have enough for the kiddos. This year, I’m banking on less is more.

I’ve decided that we have more than enough.

That’s the take home message, really. We’ve been blessed in abundance and no amount of excess stuff could enhance that. I will be celebrating abundance of life when I squeeze my new niece on Christmas morning, this year her first. I will rejoice in the abundance of friendship when I sup with 2 of our dearest ones Friday and many more when we open our home next week. There will be abundance of laughter in times shared with my kids over the next few weeks and hopefully rest: I’m on vacation.  Abundant restoration is evolving at my mom’s, with grandma making remarkable improvements each day. She is rebuilding her life and we are holding her hand.

This, my friends, is what we live for. Living out the true joy of Christmas means simply to pause, breathing in the magic of the season, understanding that is not confined to delicately wrapped packages.

These are just some pictures from our holiday activities. First, my Christmas tree. Second, Steve & I in Charleston, SC, and lastly the kids and I at Lights of Lakeland.

Meet Boomer, The Shop Fast Patrol.

Days 336 & 337

December 5 & 6, 2011

 

Yes, the season to be jolly is upon us, and this year we’ve adopted a new house guest. I like to say he’s joined the Reed Family’s Division of Behavioral Operations Department. I’m entrusting to him a weighty responsibility to monitor, and honestly assess the attitudes and actions of two, shall we say “fit-to-be-tied” preschoolers.  During the hustle bustle of the season, it always helps to have another pair of eyes on the situation.  Boomer, as the children call him, is busy enjoying his new environment, and of course, reports each evening to Santa all of the day’s happenings.  I must admit, I think he may be a little mischievous himself, as you will see by the pictures.  Word also has it, that he’s no respecter of persons, therefore he’s also acting as compliance officer to make certain that I stay my course on the shop fast.

Yes, he is enjoying himself and keeping us all straight.

Broughton Boutiquing

Days 334 & 335

December 3-4, 2011

Items Purchased:0, Temptation Radar: 8

Inevitably, the spirit of Christmas translates into the spirit of shopping for me.  Although the personal impact seems to be much weaker this year, I’m not dead to desire.  I find it especially tempting when exploring places like King Street in Charleston, South Carolina or strolling down Broughton Street in historic downtown Savannah, Georgia. Both of these quaint boutique shopping treasures present a plethora of eye candy.  Boasting holiday sales, and unique gift offerings, it’s difficult to walk away. Thankfully, through the help and loving accountability of Steve, I was able to simply enjoy the browsing, while dreaming up occasions for which I would wear item xyz, if I could purchase it.  If nothing else, certainly a revitalization of childhood imagination has been ignited in the heart of  this shop-starved girl during this 365 day exercise of restraint.

I shared my shopping adventures on King Street in July, and of course, we re-visited them while in Charleston this weekend.  However, what I’d not prepared for was our impromptu stop in Savannah.  Sunday, on the way home from my cousin’s wedding weekend, we decided to make a food stop at Paula Deen’s A Lady & Sons Restaurant. We were so enamored by the southern charm and comfort, that we decided we should spend the night. Or, perhaps it was the overindulgence of fried chicken, collard greens and ooey-gooey butter bars that left us paralyzed, in a food coma, disabling us from continuing the voyage home.  Nevertheless, we booked a room via smart phone while eating the buffet and opted for an afternoon of walking it off.

Speaking of walking it off, I should note that Broughton Street is host to mainstream retailers and boutique shops alike. This stretch of fashion road will keep you on your feet for some time. Even off the beaten path and tucked away alongside the city’s famous courtyards and parks, you will find eclectic book stores, dress shops, etc. I was mesmerized. Two of my favorites were the Paris Market, with its whimsical take on French and other European decor & gifts and Terra Cotta, a vintage inspired clothing boutique. These little goodies are definitely on Aimee’s list of “MUST VISIT & BUY 2012”

Take a look inside Terra Cotta or check out her blog http://www.shopterracotta.blogspot.com/

My shopping day attire (inspired by that pop crazy song)

Coming up from the river walk, while working off some comfort food.

11 years and counting….

Day 333: Items Purchased:0, Temptation Radar:0

December 2, 2011

11 years ago today, a much younger, less fashionable, but insanely lucky version of myself hitched up with Mr. Wonderful.

Today, I’m arguably more seasoned, more stylish, and increasingly serendipitous. And, Him? WAY more wonderful! He rescued me a wee bit early from my meeting, arriving with dozen roses and a pack of peanut M&Ms. Chocolate consumption is a critical part of my “let down” routine after intense business. He knows this very well. We headed to South Carolina to attend my cousin’s wedding. During the drive we exchanged cards. The reveal confirmed , clearly, we are on the same page:

Can you say “same taste”???

The Newlyweds…..

The Veterans…..

Happy Anniversary to my Steve.

Dress For The Job You Want….

December 1, 2011

Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar:0

I have just arrived into the home stretch…month 12. Somebody pinch me, or buy me something. Just kidding.

Someone recently shared a mighty wise catch phrase with me,  “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  I should like to take this on as my mantra, however I greeted a couple of hindrances. First, if I was able to fully subscribe to this statement, I’d be going to work every day in a Chanel Suit, for the job to which I aspire would afford me one. Secondly, the shop fast has deterred me from “buying up” , if you will, this year. Therefore, I strutted to work in a J.Crew Suit, I’ve owned since 2008.  A oldie, but a goodie.

Very excited to have been selected for my company’s Regional Development Program, which is the pre-cursor to leadership opportunities within the organization and any hopes for a role in senior management.  Each class affords 6 participants in the entire Florida/Georgia Region an opportunity to cultivate skills in presentation, facilitation, coaching, interviewing and negotiating.  It was a power packed couple of days, for sure. I was thrilled beyond measure to be a part of such a fabulous group of leaders, and of course, to be recognized as such by the senior management team.

As always, we managed to sneak in a couple of fabulous dinners in the Orlando area, so I was able to take it from all business to casual handily.

Cheers! Oh, and no shopping for me. But, you already knew that, didn’t you? This is how I go from day- to-night….

Will I Ever REALLY Blog Again?

Day 331: Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar: 2

November 30

Preoccupied with living…I suppose that’s what you could call it. With very little time left in my 365 project, I’ve hardly had time to consider it let alone blog about it.

I’m Working A LOT. End of the year, inevitably, means year-end reviews and finishing the year’s business while feverishly putting plans in place for 2012. It’s fast paced. The family is still rallying around operation “Intervention Grandma”. We are all making adjustments. This blog is quickly turning into a chronicle, not about shopping or lack thereof, but about how much I value my family and admire my mother. Transformational?  The effects of an obsession surrendered? Perhaps.

I’m writing quickly to say, “I’m not writing much.”  I hope to be able to share a few stories soon, but for now I’ve got to press on toward looming deadlines.  Cheers!

The Giving I’m Thankful For

Day 325: November 24, 2011

Items Purchased: 0 (Stores were closed. lol) Temptation Radar:0

Happy Thanksgiving. Actually, Happy Black Friday…or really, the few hours preceding it. I am writing this from the transition zone, the time period between turkey digestion and store mapping; the hours in which we prepare to trade our overconsumption of calories for a deficit in the bank account. The place where one period of discomfort may lead to another, or perhaps something better….a positive change, a good deal, a bright hope?   Thanksgiving, the day designed to settle in and reflect upon the good things in life and blessings bestowed, is relentlessly opposed by a crazed hyper-consumptive society. Suddenly, we see a culture through which greed, pressure, and commercialization, strips the simplicity from gratitude and revises it to suggest that really cherishing others is spending more money on them, getting the perfect gift, planning the perfect party. Start NOW! Start at 6am. No wait. I mean midnight.

Black Friday, as I’ve mentioned previously, was one of my favorite days.  So much so, that  I could have skipped right over stuffing and pie and into the 5-mile line wrapped around the door of Target. “Thank you God for the food and all the family, BUT….I gotta run! MUST load my cart, not with true riches and blessings wrought by your hands, but because I can’t miss a deal.”  You may also remember that I usually go with my mom.

We are not going this year.

Our family experienced a Thanksgiving crisis. A crisis, by definition, embodies these three elements:

1. unexpected (i.e., a surprise)

2. creates uncertainty

3. is seen as a threat to important goals

The first thing I noticed when I looked up the word, was my cavalier use of it over the years. Tossing “crisis” around  playfully to overstate and exaggerate meaningless bumps in my life’s journey seems silly after what my family has experienced in the last 7 days.

My mother has just absorbed 24 hour interim care of her elderly mother, who has a host of irreconcilable health issues and apparently marital ones too, as her husband of 47 years has basically abandoned her; only his form of abandonment far more abusive, for she has spent some time, years actually, shoved in dark room, served a cocktail of mind-numbing medicines with a splash of verbal abuse, while he trolls the town engaging in whatever it is he does. He refuses, however to abandon the house that was her mother’s or formally divorce her. The chariot of dysfunction that he travels on carries far more egregious baggage than I care to discuss here, and the pain he has inflicted seemingly irreversible.Therefore, she has remained a prisoner of sorts, not having the capacity to save herself.

But God….

Yes, God. He sees crisis as an opportunity. He sees intervention as a strategy.  He is the restorer.  Perhaps, the finest illustration I’ve ever witnessed of “His strength made perfect in our weakness”  is via my parents and this rescue operation. My mom is not a nurse. In her own ability, she is not prepared or equipped to handle the needs of her precious mother.  In my Dad’s strength, he is not prepared to handle the delivery of his mother-in-law and all of her goods, which also include a difficult sibling who tries to “help”, but possesses a myriad of issues and all inconceivable monetary woes. Interpersonal crisis. Financial crisis. Relational crisis. They all strutted to the front porch and started knocking.

“How does one determine the balance between compassion and survival?” This is the question I have been asking myself for seven days, as I’ve waded through a sea of uneasiness with regard to what this means for my family.  I’ve worried about the pressures it will put on my parents. I’ve worried about my mother’s health, her marriage, her emotional state, as she takes this on. I’ve worried about the financial implications it will have on my parents who have worked diligently to create a solid life, preparation for their own retirement, enjoying the fruits of their near 40 years of marriage. I have cried, prayed, advocated, yelled, and prayed some more.

I’ve cried out for justice. I’ve asked God to right wrongs. This reminds me of a story I failed to share last Sunday, about a 19 year girl who shared a room with Grandma last week in a nursing home. Crippled with lupus and on oxygen, she still had the sweetest spirit and a glimmer of fight in her eye. She told me how nice my grandmother was. She told me how she had been in and out of the hospital and in and out of that same nursing home a total of 6 times this year. She shared how her mom has 5 other children and cannot care for her. There was no sign of anger or resentment on her face. Only 19. I felt ashamed….of stupid things I’d griped about the hour before.  I asked her about her hobbies. She loves art. When I asked her preferred medium, she replied “coloring.” I smiled. I felt like leaping out of that chair and running to the store for color books and crayons, and then I looked at my mom and grandma, and weighed by care, I just sat there. Shame on me.

I haven’t written about the young girl or grandma prior to now, because after all it’s “THANKSGIVING” week. I felt the pressure to feel light and fluffy on my own blog. The truth is, it has not been light nor fluffy. But, in this emotion, I’ve actually been able to procure and savor the authenticity of gratitude. For real. Funny, isn’t it?  Watching my mom give unceasingly of herself to her mother, getting no sleep and then insisting upon having “Thanksgiving”, while observing my dad rally behind her despite his own uncertainty…this is the type of giving I’m thankful for.

I don’t  know what will happen tomorrow, a week or a month from now. But, I know that we have strong faith in a Great God and we have each other. Last night, on my way home from Steve’s family’s celebration, I stopped to check on mom. Grandma was sitting up in a chair, in a family room, with my parents, watching re-runs of the X-factor. She was laughing.

Guest Blogger With Some Great Shopping Advice…

Day 327:  Items Purchased:0, Temptation Radar:3–The brochures are coming fast & furiously and I’m getting a little antsy. 🙂

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As we gear up for the holiday shopping season, I thought it would be fitting to have a word of advice from one of the most charismatic and strategic shoppers I know. As you spend the last couple of days mapping out your Black Friday plan, remember to take this advice to heart…