Monday, June 29, 2009

Hat Tricks! Economizing Hat

Saving money is a must theses days! No one knows exactly when our economy will fully recover. In the mean time, we need to economize where ever we can!

Today's Hat Tricks Tip will not only help you save money locally, but may also help you save some as you are visiting other cities!

Don't forget to check the Hat Tricks Archives for more tips and tricks to help you juggle all of your hats!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

My family and I have taken a couple of small vacations this summer already. We have put quite a few miles on the SUV and traversed an array of different roads and scenery on our journeys. Some of the roads have been nicely paved and easy to navigate. Others, well, lets just say they were a bit bumpy, windy, and far less populated.

All of this summer driving left some time for a bit of reflection.

Wouldn't life be a little less complicated if we all had nice paved paths ahead of us to travel?

Traveling through this journey of life is not always easy. It is full of highways, interchanges, traffic jams, one way roads, dead end streets and rush hour road construction. Unexpected road hazards pop up, and suddenly you need to take an alternate route to your destination.

You can stick to familiar roads on this detour and know that it will probably take you to where you need to go. The roads you know like the back of your hand can be traveled with out much thought or effort. You know the scenery and can probably predict the signal patterns and exactly how much time it will take you. The tried and true will get the job done.

Or you can take the road less traveled. You know - the one that you've always wanted to take, been afraid to take, or just not had enough time to take. This road is the one that has blind curves, pot holes and narrow bridges. This one leads into unknown territory, unfamiliar situations, and uncomfortable surroundings.

But for all the discomfort this road less traveled may bring with it, it also brings something else. It bring brings incredible adventure and opportunity. Navigating these roads hones our traveling skills, challenges and strengthens our sense of direction, and opens our eyes to scenery and perspectives that we didn't have before we set out on them. Even if the less traveled road does not get us to our intended destination, what we have learned from the journey will leave us with more knowledge and wisdom when we do finally get to where we are going.

Do you stick to the familiar routes or do you choose the road less traveled?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Every Breath I Take

For those of you that have read my blog, you probably have figured out that I am a runner. Not a very good runner, but a runner none the less.

Right now I am running 4-6 miles per run several days a week. Since I live in the desert south west, my runs are early morning events, usually just before sunrise so I can avoid baking in the summer heat. I gear up to the nines for my runs. I lace up my shoes (I have invested in great shoes - a must at my age. ) I fill my hydration and fuel belt with the necessary water and energy supplies. I grab my favorite hat and polarized sun glasses. And last but not least, the I-pod.

I mention the Ipod last because it is the last piece of equipment that I attach to my body before I head out the door. It is also an essential piece.

Off I go on my run being serenaded by some of my favorite artists - Nickelback, Guns n’ Roses, Pink, Abba, Journey, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake - an eclectic mix of tunes that keep running and breathing in a rythnm that helps pass the time as my feet pound the pavement. The music is encouraging too. When Axle Rose sings about my “hair reminding him of a warm safe place“, or when Billy Squire tells me that “everybody wants me” what better motivation is there to keep the body moving?

But, yesterday’s run had a problem. A mile into my 4 mile run, the I-pod died…..kaput, zilch, nada, nothing, no juice in the battery, no tunes in my ears. There I was with 3,now much longer miles ahead of me to go. I had a choice, I could cut the run short and go home or trudge on. I chose to trudge on.

From that point on, instead of hearing my tunes, The only sound I heard was my feet pounding on the pavement, and my own breath getting louder and louder. My focus was no longer on my music, but on my body and how hard the running really is.

Every breath I took seemed to get more difficult, more shallow, and more of a distraction. I became very much aware of the inflow and outflow of oxygen that fuels my body. So much so that I began to obsess over it….and we all know that obsessing leads to the problem becoming bigger than it is. I struggled trough the rest of the run, my windedness overtaking me several times. But I eventually made it home, completing my 4 miles.

The point of the story is this….

With my music, I am distracted from the difficulty of the run. It doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, but by having my focus elsewhere it doesn’t become a bigger issue than it really is…’s in a way kept in perspective. When I focused on my breathing and the difficulty I was having created a problem that was difficult to overcome. I gave it too much power, and it nearly overtook me.

I think this can be applied to most of life’s issues. We need to address them and at times trudge through them. But if we obsess about them, they gain a life of their own and then they take over our lives.

Giving up our power to life's difficulties is a choice. Today, choose to keep your power. Refuse to give yourself and your focus to things that really don't deserve it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A poem composed on the spot for my sweet Baby Hat's Poetry Day

Summer is coming,
Parents beware!
Cries of "I'm bored"
Will soon be in the air.
And, "Daddy it's Hot!"
And "Mama let's go
to a movie where we can dream of the snow!"
Poor Mommy, poor Daddy
Pulled every which way
But they shouldn't worry..only ten weeks left
Till the first school day!
But by then they'll be missing the cries and the groaning,
The nagging and griping,the picking and moaning.
They'll count down the days in each month of the year,
And be thankful when next summer is near!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hat Tricks! Balancing Act!

With all the hats we wear, we need to find ways to help us keep them all balance.

Knowing your self and what recharges you is a great way to keep balance in your life.

Be sure to check the Hat Tricks Archives for Tips and Tricks to help you juggle all of your hats!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Room With A View

This is the view I will have at sunset this evening. Peaceful, isn’t it?

I am on a vacation with my family as I write this. We are at a little lake here in AZ, in a little cabin that sits on the shore of the perfect quiet fishing spot. In fact, I can see Mr. Mom of Many Hats and one of my Baby Hats are testing their "boatmanship" and fishing skills on a little tin row boat just off shore …..(I’ll post the big fish stories I hear in another post).

This is our second adventure at this particular lake. The first was about 5 years ago, when all my baby hats were much younger, our canine hat was much sprier, and Mr. Mom of Many Hats and myself had much more energy for the minimal amount of roughing it that we have to do with theses particular accommodations.

As our family has grown up, we’ve become accustomed to the little luxuries in life. We are used to not having to share bathrooms. We are spoiled by having living space that allows us each a bit of breathing room. We have not had to learn to keep ourselves busy as instant entertainment has been at our fingertips via the internet, cable and video games. In short, we have not had to learn how to simply be and enjoy being because of the luxuries we have.

Although at some level we are well aware of this, the week we have spent here has made it glaringly apparent. We are in a tight space with small shared rooms and a single bathroom. There is one small living space that all of us, plus the wet muddy dog congregate in for meals and down time. There is no internet access. And, although there is a TV, there are few channels that actually work. We are cramped, running a little short in the fuse, and are forced to find things to keep us occupied.

But, I am proud of my family of Hats….

We have really worked at spending our time doing family stuff. We’ve played family card games. We’ve played word games. We went on a horseback trail ride. We’ve spent many, many hours with fishing poles in the water, each of us displaying the patience of Job as the slow, seemingly endless process of catching a fish tests not only our persistence, but also our commitment to the actual catching of a fish. And, when it all gets to be just a bit to much to togetherness time, we have retreated to the front porch that I am writing from to take in the calm and peacefulness of the water, the beautiful sky, and the natural scenery.

There is not doubt that we will return to this place again for a family vacation. We have seen so much here. We see the beauty of nature around us, we see a little about ourselves, and we see what we are as a family. How can we resist returning to this room with a view?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hat Tricks! Economizer Hat!

One of the hats that we should wear everyday is an economizing hat.

In today's financial time, it is important to save a few dollars where ever we can. This hat trick tip is an easy way to save some money on something that many of us purchase every day! An added helps the environment too!

Make sure to check the Hat Tricks Archive for other tips and tricks to help you juggle all of your hats.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

House of Cards

My smallest Baby Hat enjoying a card game with the family....

Usually when you think of a house of cards, you think of a situation that is built on a shaky foundation. It is a situation, event, or lie that is constructed out of flimsy material. At the slightest blow of the wind, shift of the foundation or falling of a card, the entire thing comes crashing down.

Well, this week, I had the opportunity to look at a “house of cards” from a personal standpoint.

While on vacation with my family this week, we were void of any electronic vices…no internet, no video games, no cable TV…none of it. Just the family at a lake, disconnected from virtual entertainment. We were forced to spend time together.

Being the good mother that I am (my own self affirmation…I need to get it someplace!) I planned for the fact that we would have to be engaged in face to face interaction. Although my family are all skillful communicators, the inevitable communication breakdown (nice word for fighting) does happen. So I brought along an intermediary. I employed the aid of a stand between to aid in the exchange of affirmative, positive conversation among my brood - a verbal exchange middleman, if you will. I brought a deck of cards.

The first night of our vacation, we pulled out the cards. Then began a marathon session of a game, full of Skipping, Wild Cards, color switches, and penalty draws. The game went on, and on, and on. We even made our own pity rules than limited the number of cards one had to draw…it was that long. We all began to get irritable and cranky each time the draw deck had to be shuffled. Then, with one final card placement, the game was over.

Oh yeah….Mama won…Woohooo! Sorry, I gloat.

Although the card game seemed to last for ever, and we all started to get a little cranky, we spent time together - quality time. It was the kind of time that we do not spend enough of. Time away from the internet, away from TV, away from distractions. Time building our connection as a family. These cards strengthened our foundation.

As my kids are getting older, the opportunities to spend this kind of time get fewer and fewer. They become more busy and have more responsibilities . They probably want less and less to spend this kind of time with family. But, I hope that by seizing the chances when I can, my children will have happy and cherished memories of this house of cards.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Life of the Party.....

OK...Now this story is a bit embarrassing to tell.....

Many years ago we lived in a wonderful little town in Texas. We had amazing friends and a great community with many in our town.. When it came time that one of our friends was moving away, the women in our circle of friends decided to throw her a going away party. It was set to be a wonderful, games, desserts...the works! When I got my invitation I promptly RSVP'd and put the date on my calendar - it was on a weeknight the following week. I volunteered to bring a chocolate cherry cake, one that I was known for making. It was going to be a really fun girls night out party.

The day of the party I was busy wrapping my gift just so...the requisite gift bag, matching tissue paper, and of course, the decked out bow. It looked fabulous. I then went to work on the cake, stirring, mixing, measuring, baking away until it was just perfect. (Really it was a tupperware microwave recipe, but that really is less dramatic. I'm invoking creative license here!) With little time left to spare after my treacherous day of baking and gift wrapping, I went upstairs to get ready for the party.

I must insert here, that with three little kids at home and a traveling husband, parties were a rare happening and an incredible treat for me. I was so excited to have a night out!

I dressed to the nines - well probably the eights, sprayed my perfume that in those days only rarely got taken out of the cabinet, gave myself the once over glance in the mirror, grabbed the gift and the cake, and off I was to P-A-R-T-A-Y!

I was so proud of myself! I got out the door 15 minutes early! I figured I'd head over to the host's house and help her with last minute prep stuff, pouring punch, setting out casseroles and deserts, anything I could do to help. So I drove across our little town, carefully following the directions until I came upon the tiny street where her house was.

Perfect! I was early enough to get a spot right in front of her house!

I went to the front door. I knew I was the first one there because I didn't hear the thunder of chatter that you hear when a room full of women gather. I though to myself..." This is great! I'll get the best spot on the edge of the couch." know what I'm talking about - that spot that is not too close to the refreshment table that you'll be tempted to nibble, yet close enough to the open walkway that if you need to make a quick exit from that overly chatty gal-pal you have a clear path to freedom.

With cake in hand, gift bag slung over my arm, and me dressed to the eights and ready to be the life of the party, I knocked on the door.............

No answer. Maybe the host was in the kitchen and didn't hear me.

I knocked again. This time the dog barked, but no one answered.

I knocked a third time. The door slowly opened. There I stood face to face with the host, me with all my party garb, and the host - in her pajamas. Turns out, I was early. An entire week early.

She was very gracious about the whole thing, but I could feel the heat of embarrassment in my face. How could I make such a mistake. I must have mismarked the calendar. I returned home, humiliated with tears in my eyes as I explained the whole thing to my husband. I was almost too embarrassed to return to the part the next week.

So, why do I share this story?

I guess it's because over the years, I've learned that I need to cut myself some slack. Was it embarrassing? Yes. Will I ever make that mistake again? No. Was the whole incident kind of funny? Absolutely.

Now I see it as a really hilarious mistake. I even chuckle when I tell the story. Life gets a whole lot easier if we can learn to laugh at ourselves.

Hmmmmm.....would this have happend if I had been using the Organizational Hat Trick?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hat Tricks! Healthly Living Hat!

Maintaining a healthy menu in your household is difficult - especially when you are juggling so
many hats! It's really easy to reach into the pantry or freezer for the pre-packaged additions to your meal. Here is a healthy living Hat Trick Tip to keep your family eating right!

I love hearing from my readers, so if you find this tip helpful, please leave a comment! Don't forget to check the Hat Tricks side bar for additional tips and tricks to help you juggle your hats!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Lazy Days of Summer.....


I loved summer vacation as a kid. Who didn't? Hanging out with friends. free from the bondage of school, able to just hang out, chill, and relax with friends. No responsibility to speak of. Lazily hanging out in my room listening to my albums ( for any one born after 1985, this is the way we used to get the tunes...) lounging around in a bathing suit all day long because I had no where to go. No real schedule - just go with the flow kind of days. Late nights spent talking with friends - remember back when we used the phone or talked face to face? And the best part....the most amazing and rewarding part....the thing that every teenager waits all year for.....the chance to sleep in!

Today is the first day of summer for all of us in my household. The kids are all done with school, my classes are done, and we have no where to be this morning. Would have been the perfect morning to sleep in....don'tcha think? But instead, here I am at 6 a.m. typing away at my computer desk, coffee in front of me, and my note books, to do lists, and a mind swirling with all the summer projects I need to get done. Don't get me wrong....It's not that I didn't want to sleep in. I just couldn't. It was not because I felt I had to get up and dive into my summer projects...I just physically couldn't sleep in. My body wouldn't let me. I was awake at sunrise.

Ironic - now that I am old enough to make the conscious decision to sleep as late as I DARN WELL PLEASE.... I can't.

Now, I'm sure there is probably some kind of biological reason for this. I have heard that as we age, we don't require as much sleep. The vanity part of me is not willing to accept this I have to find another reason for it. Perhaps it is because that deep down in my subconscious mind all the things that I neglected during the school year are coming around and paying me back for my dismissing of them. Maybe, just maybe, there is another reason.

Maybe the reason is that as we get older we get wiser - one hopes! But along with this wisdom comes the realization that our days are numbered. I'm not talking the doom and gloom- my life is over- start the bucket list kind of realization. Maybe it's more of an appreciation.

We realize that time is valuable and the more time we spend conscious and aware in the time we have, the more chances we have to discover the joy, beauty, and opportunity that are in moments that God has given us. We realize that everyday is a gift.

So, as I sit here, instead of lamenting the sleep I am not getting, I will rejoice in the awareness and opportunity that I am getting. Today is full of promise. It is my choice to accept it or reject it. I think I'll take it with open arms!