This Little Book of Mine

Last Fall I drove up to Richmond, Maine, to walk around town and to take the ferry to Swan Island. My goal was to hike around the island, hear about the rich past, and also enjoy the nature preserve. It was crucial to me to go after bug season. I went many times growing up, but never walked around the island. I highly recommend the trip to everyone. There is even an old cemetery which is worth the trip!

http://maineboats.com/coastal-adventures/swan-island-jewel-on-the-kennebec

While walking around the town of Richmond, after leaving the island, I found my first Little Free Library. I had never heard of this very fun organization and became obsessed with having my own. I didn’t realize that there’s little free libraries all over the place and now we find them all over. It has been so much fun to put books out and see what people take. The other day I came home to find that half my book volume was gone, Violet and I rushed in to find out what we could put out from the book shelves. So far historical fiction moves, kids books do not. I think that means we need better kids books.

It has been a year of many great reads, for myself and Shannon. We did quite a bit of summer reading together which I loved.

Highlights of our summer included:

  1. Two day trips to Boston
  2. A weekend in Saratoga, and Jefferson and Ossipee, NH
  3. 5 trips to the beach
  4. Reading, rest, exercise and generally enjoying a relaxing schedule

Now, back to school and sadly, fall.

We took a day trip to Kennebunk, Maine recently. I highly recommend the trolley museum there, with or without kids. This was my first trip with the girls, the first time I went years ago was by myself and I enjoyed them both.

In other news, Shannon is back playing fall ball, now for Bedford Plex, with her former coach from 4 years ago, it feels like a great start to the year. There was a bit of grumbling about going back to school but she is generally good-natured and seems to be enjoying the trimester so far.

Violet is adorable. She is so funny. She recently had her three-year-old physical when we’re in the office she told me, “I’m not afraid of my physical mom.” She enjoys watching Doc McStuffins. When the nurse applied the blood pressure cuff she said, “I love those my mom has one!” She did not have a single tear with her immunization. She is crying as much as not these days, she is very much a 3 year old. I’m at that stage where I want to tell strangers that their comments are not welcome during emotional public outings. I love the little t-shirt below that says happy, for some reason it makes me laugh when she is wearing it and screaming at the same time.

My employment continues to be going fairly well, and I recently picked up a side consulting job working with adults with a traumatic brain injury. There’s a large population of veterans as the company has the only VA contract for this type of work in the state. It’s still very new but I think it is going to be side work that I will enjoy. Unfortunately yesterday I was rushing and locked my keys in the car, I had to call the only person that opens locks in a 50 mile radius. I was pretty far away from home. While I was sitting waiting for the tow truck, embarrassed to be stuck in the driveway of a new job, one of the veterans came out to see why I was still there. Upon explanation he told me to call and cancel the tow as he could break into my car for free. As free is my favorite price I was getting ready to take him up on the offer when he explained he could get in with a large rock through the glass. I did appreciate the offer, but declined.

When I’m writing this blog and offering updates and photos on the girls and myself, I struggle because I think blogs are much more interesting when they’re funny. I don’t think I’m very good at inserting humor into my writing so I am inserting extra pictures to compensate.

It is very worth mentioning that this great lady turned 96 this summer. We have been making lots of day trips to Connecticut as it’s been a rough road for both of the Connecticut grandmothers. The girls have been great about all of the miles, I imagine in part because they realize they are sick, and also because they genuinely enjoy their time with them.

This is a new app that I am writing from today so I’m not sure how the formatting is going to look, I’m hoping for the best!

A Change in Plans

 

We had a gorgeous trip to Saratoga last weekend. I made the mistake of taking the Mass Pike on the way there, not scenic and lots of traffic, but the return trip through Vermont and western New Hampshire more than made up for this. Not surprisingly we were there for a softball tournament but had time to sight see a bit too. The tournament itself was not a success but Shannon played well and got some pitching in so that was all the outcome that I needed.  It is now time for tryouts for next year, her new team is to be determined.

 

My very, very, very exciting news is that this little gal turned 3! She made us all laugh with all of her cute expressions, she was telling everyone, “My birthday is coming right up!” for days leading up to it, so much so on the actual day she had a hard time grasping it. We went to Santa’s Village to celebrate.

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This year my goal was to increase my house pay off as part of my goal of financial freedom. My bright plan for this did not pan out so my goal has had to shift a bit. I continue to overpay my mortgage but not impressively. For the first time in many years I am largely working just one job and having the extra time to spend time with my girls, walk, read, go to the beach, does not have a price tag attached. Perhaps my goal is just on hold. The most important thing to me is that we are all happy and well, and what is more important than that?

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Good Things are Happening (mostly).

The onset of summer after a prolonged rainy, cold, rather bleak spring, has brought new adventures. We are all seizing the day as each day feels a gift to be enjoyed. At this point it almost can’t be to hot for me!

Middle school wrapped up and it was a close tie for who was happier. I think it may be me. One year down, two to go.

Softball is going full swing (that was clever!), and consumes most of all weekends. For someone who never enjoyed sports, I am able to enjoy 4-6 games a weekend. Really though, while the games are exciting, it is watching Shannon grow into herself that makes it very worthwhile. Violet is such a good sport, I am continually amazed at how well she does with the long days. Ice cream helps.

Oh, it bears mentioning that Shannon’s middle school softball team won the championship!

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Violet has been very busy blowing bubbles, looking adorable, talking non stop, performing somersaults, and eating ice cream.

After yesterday’s tournament, both girls fell asleep independently at 5pm, and slept through the night! Both fully clothed…

I am continuing to work on my financial goals and in all areas of planned focus I have continued to move forward as I had hoped except one. I would love to be making double mortgage payments but this is not happening. I am placing this in the category of a work in progress.

I actually watched a movie, which was exciting. I thoroughly recommend Hidden Figures to anyone who has not seen it. It was extremely motivating on multiple levels.

Books, this will need to be a separate post. It is well past my bedtime!

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The Waiting Season

Spring time is for me, a waiting season. I am desperate for beautiful sunny days which are at times successive and as is often the case, elusive. I found the spring to be largely cool and rainy but on every warm dry day that we have I make sure that both of the girls are outdoors and that I get a good walk-in. This past week I was not terribly successful with work and weather constraints however the previous two weeks I was able to walk 21 and 25 miles over the course of the week respectively. This time being outdoors brings me great joy!

I often read when I walk unless I’m hiking in the woods and I just finished a book, Inside the O’Briens: A Novel, by Lisa Genova. I enjoyed this book and it is the third by this author I have read. It discussed a families struggle with Huntington’s disease, and the ethics behind finding out if you are a carrier of a terminal disease if you are given the choice. The family in the book had different viewpoints based on each person’s personality and how they like to live. The author writes the book with the intent of the reader questioning what would they do in the same predicament. Thankfully this does not run in my family so it is not an issue for me but I felt strongly that I would want to know as how I live my life would likely be very different.

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This last week brought an end to softball season for Middle School although the playoffs are still yet to go. Shannon had an excellent time with her team and it was a lot of girls that she had been on a team with in the past so it was a bit of a reunion. Her batting was excellent and she spent quite a bit of time at second base and even did some pitching. Her travel team, East Coast Firecrackers, is on its second tournament this weekend. They have had some good games but some significant struggles as well.

The bowling and ice cream images are activities that we have done after games that were unsuccessful to bring smiles.

I am off now, game 1 of the softball tournament has started for the day!

Simple Moments

As winter is coming to an end we have spent time finding joy in small moments. It is hard to believe in a week we went from this:

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To this:

This week’s very exciting news is that our little lady made the middle school softball team which only means one thing…more pictures!

Lastly, I have wonderful news to share. I just read today that relaxing in a bath burns as many calories as a 30 minute walk! I am not bothering to check the source,  I am choosing to believe.

The Year of Savings

20170311_100126This year I spent a great deal of time working on my New Year’s resolution. My focus is that it be entirely financial based. My goals are to pay down my mortgage, have zero debt outside of my mortgage, and grow my savings account. I developed a timeline and wrote a bullet journal for the next 3 years. Developing a bullet journal was an idea from a friend. Though I am not a writer by nature, it really was quite fun and creative. It has been motivating to have an area where I check off my financial accomplishments and continue to visit my goals. I mapped out how many months I have left on my windows loan (4) and how many months I have of child care payments (40). This is a great description if anyone else is interested in lazy journaling.

http://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/blog/how-to-bullet-journal

This month I was able to check off paying extra towards my mortgage for the third month, and made my second deposit in my savings account. While the amounts toward both are not where they need to be to see a large impact, I am happy with the start.

All of this is my own quest towards financial freedom. I have fun goals for when my mortgage is paid off. I am excited to start my non-profit, self sustaining business, Envirocare. Stay tuned!

I have long been a reader towards other peoples journeys, via blog and books, so it was high time I started my own quest.

I am interested in other peoples ventures or ideas.

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Solo Vacation

img_1958Shannon headed off to Florida for her very first solo vacation to visit her grandparents. I was very impressed that I was able to walk through the airport directly up to the gate as a non passenger escort to put her on a direct flight to Fort Myers. The whole process from an airport and security standpoint was really very easy for current days. Shannon was extremely nervous and the days leading up to it but she had her eye on the prize which was surprising her West Coast grandparents who she had not seen for quite some time. I was extremely proud of her for her first venture out which was a big deal for the same child who would never go to camp.

Violet and I missed her incredibly but we had a great week of our own visiting family in Connecticut and before knew it was time for and extremely exciting reunion at the Bradley International Airport.

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Peanut butter and Fluff

Despite the fact that a container of fluff will nary be found in my cupboards,  Shannon’s sweet additions have these very cute names.  Shannon’s Uncle Ben gave her money for Christmas and as we are now petless,  having lost Dusty in November,  the twins came.  Shannon can tell them apart,  I can not.

Growing Gains

20170122_162103This past September started Shannon’s foray into middle school. The definition of foray per my home dictionary which I am not going to cite, is a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something. This sounds extreme but I did my best to ready us after many stories from other parents who had gone this path, not in any given town. I have to say, after a slightly rough start with 12 year old friendships at the heart, it has been a great year so far. Shannon was extremely excited to be asked to read to younger kids at Barnes and Noble during a school fundraising night. She joined a monthly book group that she has enjoyed. Recently she made band, which was unexpected and very exciting, and made honor roll almost in the same week. Softball continues to be her passion and as such, is where I find myself 3-4 times a week. Pitching lessons on Thursdays are a high point.

I often hear the term that childhood goes by to fast. I have not found this to be the case yet and I look forward to each new development and stage as it is such a wonder to watch her evolution. It is much more cheerful than lamenting that the preschool years are gone, and I love to focus on the moment. This being said, I am reminded by people daily that she is on the cusp of being a teen so whether she will still like me in a year or 3 remains to be seen.

On a literary note, last year brought so many great books into my life and I am excited for this year. This month has largely been taken up with other projects and I have not had the moments put aside for reading or exercise that I value. I am working an additional job right now covering a maternity leave so my time will free up in early April. I will find some treasures in the meantime so stay tuned!

In December I finished, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi. It was one of the best books that I have ever read, but I must preface that by saying, I get so excited by a book that I probably over use that statement. Hopefully it is okay if I have many best books! This book took place in Afghanistan during modern day and past generations, it wove the struggles of women and men alike in a oppressed, war torn country. I highly recommend it and as I have one copy, please message me if you would like it. It brings me joy to pass books along

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I can not close without saying a few words about Violet. Violet continues to be the funniest little person. This morning she saw my coffee sitting next to me on the couch. She picked it up and said, “Mommy, we don’t have cups on the couch.” Her intention was to place it on the side table but she tripped in her rain boots and spilled it down herself, me, on the couch, floor and in my work bag. I had to laugh, so sweet!

 

New Years Resolutions

Today is my second favorite day of the year. The first is my national holiday,  my birthday.  It is interesting how many people I have heard comment that 2016 was not a good year. I think much of this has been remarked in response to celebrity deaths.  While the circle of life has been strong, there was so much to celebrate last year.

My children both grew so much,  they are happy and mostly healthy. My work has continued to inspire and push me to continue to grow.  My family and extended family are well.  Many of us came together to celebrate my Grandmothers 95th birthday. My father and his lady friend were just up for a fun and meaningful visit.

I traveled to Florida,  California,  Maine and Quebec. Each trip was about education and exploration and I am continually awed by what our world has to offer for beauty.

I may talk another day about books,  we have read so many,  for Shannon and I, this was a particularly good literary year.

The very best part of a new year is the opportunity to look at my resolutions from last year,  see my success or need for further work,  and to develop a new for the coming year.

Last year’s resolutions centered arounder finding pleasure in everyday life. The idea was to point out to myself something beautiful every day,  to take note of a moment I was fortunate to experience.  Sometimes it could start with something simple,  my morning coffee. My late step-mother once told me that coffee was one of life’s great decadence. I think of that almost every morning.  To think of my daily pleasure became quite a part of my routine. I do it by rote. Sometimes it is a quiet moment with Shannon,  a sticky kiss from Violet, the smile of a friend, or a patient reaching for my hand.  I think,  I am so fortunate for this moment.  The last part of last year was to make time for things that bring me joy. I used to think I did not have enough time to exercise or read,  for example.  Now I combine both.  I read on the treadmill or for long walks.  I feel fantastic following.

This year my resolution is basic but perhaps not so easy.  In 2011 I eliminated all debt and credit cards except for my mortgage.  Since then I’ve been paying extra on my mortgage every month to pay down my mortgage quicker and also only rely on debit cards. Still I have not made the progress that I would like, nor do I have a large enough savings. This is my resolution for this year,  I would like to pay more towards my mortgage than I already do,  and to build a nest egg. I have separate savings accounts to contribute money for general savings, vacations, the house repairs that are needed,  and for my future car.

Happy New Year to all,  and I would love to hear others resolutions either on this site or by email or text.

Ruthhall60@yahoo.com 603-247-3922

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