Can organization fuel motivation?

Continuing Mom’s topic of journaling a bit now… I listened to a podcast recently, co-hosted by one of my favorite people/authors Laura Vanderkam, and the topic was planners. Like paper planners- apparently a world unto itself, types and styles, and decor and stickers, the works. One thing I learned about was something called “bullet journaling” – a flavor of journaling/planning/etc I’d never heard of, but struck me because its premise seemed to fit my tendency for lots and lots of lists, as well as big dreams and getting stuff out of my head on paper now and then, combined with the need for basic scheduling and organization to handle my job as well as life stuff. Basically it’s a freeform way of making a planner (as compared to buying a prefab planner), creating different layouts to organize different aspects of life/lists/calendar/habit-tracking- the opportunities are endless, incorporating a journaling aspect by documenting every part of your life you wish, and in a creative (tho not quite an art journal) way. This article explains it nicely (tho pardon the crass language)!

Now the “bullet journaling” is one thing- but it made me ask the question of whether my difficulty with following a crazy dream or finishing a big project may actually be a lack of big picture organization. When I don’t finish big projects, was it a lack of motivation or failure of organization? I tend to start something big and not finish, or when I do finally finish it felt like pulling teeth just to restart again (er, a kitchen remodel?). Or I get a big idea I’m excited about but then never really do anything about it and the excitement fades. Does the excitement fade because I’m just not feeding the idea or was I not really that into it?

How To Develop Goals In A Usability Test

On the podcast, co-host Sarah discussed things like weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual goal-setting and regular review of objectives and action items (!!). Like a whole other level of ‘getting stuff done’ that raises the bar from surviving the rat-race to truly thriving in life and accomplishing a bunch of stuff it seemed. (Do you remember when life could operate just off the little freebie calendar from the Hallmark store in moms’ purses– purses which entirely lacked smartphones?)

Image result for hallmark date book
But there’s also a personality type thing there- like the type of person who likes to write down and carefully organize and review all these life things (from dentist appointments to grand personal change or adventures) is also perhaps the type of person who will complete something just for the sake of checking the box and the sense of accomplishment that alone brings. So they are already the sort of person who seems to maintain the necessary motivation to get stuff done. I’m sort of the type that get a kick from checking the item off the list. But not completely. *See interesting Four Tendencies quiz by Gretchen Rubin.* I don’t qualify as an Upholder according to Rubin, so the box-ticking satisfaction only gets me so far. But still, perhaps this life map documentation style that puts ‘reframe your whole life’ stuff right alongside the ‘get groceries’ stuff each day really could drive forward those big picture goals and dreams- keeping them better fed. I’ve spent the last year or so getting pretty dedicated to a paperless approach, founded on my Outlook calendar and Evernote for list-keeping, both which sync from computer to phone and vice versa, but I’m tempted to try some kind of planner/journal approach now. As luck would have it- or serendipity- I pulled out a perfect little thin-paged notebook with my name embossed on the front that one of my BFFs gave me years ago and I just hadn’t found a purpose for this perfect little notebook yet (though it did escape my Konmari purges so I trusted it would find its purpose one day).


So, I’m experimenting with this journal-planner concept a bit. I wonder if I could do a better job of documenting kid milestones too with this approach? And perhaps the paper-based creative approach would allow for the simply therapeutic aspect of documenting life (e.g., traditional journaling)… though honestly blog writing provides that too, much of my motivation to get back to writing posts! Would love to hear in the comments how others handle organizing/planning/documenting of life – paper, electronic, combo? Does Hallmark still pass out date books?


Mom In The Delivery Room

Hey everyone it has been too long since I have posted on our blog, but I’m back and plan to get at it once again. Its been a few busy years with the birth of our granddaughter and  and my mom or better known as great grandma. We lost Pat, my stepdad 2 years ago in February and mom has moved to assisted living. So we have sold her house, had an estate sale and moved her into her new digs all in a 10 day span. Whew was that work.

Now to baby Greta. Lindsey shared her birthing story and thought maybe I would have a few words to add. All I can say that there is nothing as beautiful as watching your grandchildren come into this world. It is hard to watch your daughter at times especially in that transition and pushing stage. She let out a couple of primal screams that about sent me to an anxious state, but her Douala got her under control and all went well. As a nurse I can take all that comes to a patient, but when its your daughter it can get worrisome.

I do thank her for giving me that special time. It was amazing.


I always heard there is nothing like grandchildren and boy is that the truth. Well I promise to get back to my blogging. I have lots of new things I am working on. I still create almost on a daily basis. Its my passion and I get so much joy in my studio. But the greatest joy is the grand kids. I know Roger agrees. He is still refereeing volleyball and loves it. He is a volunteer Citizen On Patrol with our local Sheriffs department and really enjoys that  too.  More later. Gee it felt good to get a post out again.

How I had a natural birth, the second time around: Greta’s birth story

I have now been meaning to write this story for 9 month! Better late than never. When preparing for delivering each of our babies, I really enjoyed reading and listening to people’s birth stories. It’s like this major event that no one really talks about in detail in normal life, women are just pregnant and then next you see the pictures of tired parents with squishy little newborns. But what happens in between? I liked the idea of a natural birth (what I mean by that is no pain meds/epidural) and aimed for that with O, by making a nice little birth plan I showed to my doctor, reading a Bradley book and practicing through fake contractions with Chad. But boy were we unprepared that first time around, and ultimately I had an induction, followed by epidural, overnight labor, and plenty of unpleasant physical recovery afterward. So, this time around with baby #2, I still liked the idea of natural birth but had that previous experience of getting an epidural, so I doubted by ability to ‘gut it out’ when I knew differently from prior experience. Over the course of this pregnancy, though, I came to two key points to help me decide on my birth plan: 1- stop asking ‘why do I want a natural birth?’ and try to justify it to myself or others, and start asking ‘Why not?’ … and 2- focus on goals for a better postpartum experience instead of the birth itself, as a numb birth led to some painful aftermath from bad tearing that I wanted to avoid experiencing again. So, we hired an amazing doula (birth coach) who could take over the hard work (well, I had the hard work I guess, but she did the heavy lifting when it came to guiding me through it) and let Chad just be Dad, and help give us confidence and negotiate decisions. I read somewhere that if a doula were a medication, every insurance plan would cover it in full for every birth. It’s that beneficial. We met with her twice beforehand to talk about goals, get tips, etc. I also was under the care of midwives for this birth, instead of an obstetrician, so that totally changed the vibe of pregnancy care and turned out to dramatically change things in terms of delivery philosophies as well. Highly recommend a midwife practice for a healthy, low-risk pregnant woman!

 So, today’s focus, the delivery itself– since I was registered with our hospital’s on-site natural birth center (a no-intervention birth suite attached to the hospital), they completed a thorough review of my history (they will only accept the lowest risk deliveries) and required me to have my ultrasound at 39 instead of 40 weeks, since I had very low amniotic fluid with my previous pregnancy by 40 weeks. This ultrasound at 39 weeks revealed quite low fluid as well, so there we were getting advised on immediate induction… again. No! I was so afraid of having pitocin again and thought it was going to derail everything. I was more relaxed this time, though, knowing birth plans need plan A, B, and C. I was sad I would be admitted to the hospital and no longer allowed to go to the birth center- since inductions is not something done there. I was really counting on relaxing in their giant tub!! But atleast the day had come and we had a few hours to get O taken care of at our friends’ house and pick up our stuff before heading to the hospital. I also sent out my pre-drafted email to some girlfriends notifying them and asking for prayers for a “safe and gentle” birth, which had become my mantra. And then, yet again, I walked into the hospital and signed papers completely not in labor, just like the first time. No laboring at home, no birth center. But atleast this time I had my bag of goods and my doula on the way. I’d also been having sooo many contractions in the last month or so that I thought surely I can just take a whiff of the pitocin and this baby will be out! But a few hours later (we started around 2 pm), hanging out with the drip, nothing. “Is it getting painful yet?” they kept asking me. Umm, no, I’m sorry I’m not in pain fast enough for you? So by about 8pm, my midwife asked me what time I usually go to bed and tells me if my body isn’t going into active labor by then, we can stop, get a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast in the morning, take a shower, and start fresh in the morning. This was a shocking offer I will tell you. I didn’t know that was even an option!  And I think I can say pretty confidently it wouldn’t have been with a physician. But midwifery is a different philosophy. Her angle was to have me in the best possible shape for delivery and postpartum, and since I would be in the hospital on a fetal monitor, the baby would be safe. If anything changed, we could change course since she would stay in the night in the hospital call room, but this option is the one we went with. Our doula went home after an uneventful evening, but I was so glad she was there for the moral support (and bonus foot massage!) given my fear of the induction. And with my fear greatly reduced after nothing really kicking in after 4-5 hours, I took a Benadryl to sleep (prescribed by midwife no less), ate a good breakfast, and had a refreshing shower as directed! Even my hair looked pretty good for this labor starting out.
Pitocin started again around 9:30 the next morning, I started feeling it in my back around 10:15, and then asked our doula to aim for arriving around noon. After how the evening before went, I was ready for a long slow process so was much more relaxed about requesting her to come in. By 11:15 I felt like I was needing to really focus, stop talking etc, through the contractions.
(pic below from 12:11 pm, in labor)

By noon our doula texted she was stuck behind a car accident, so got there closer to 12:30. That’s where the text message string on my phone stopped 🙂  But between starting to focus through contractions and our doula’s arrival, I got checked and was at 6cm (yay!), soon after my water broke (that’s an interesting thing, just leaking out dripping around everywhere), so I was in a great place when she got there. My parents had gone to get lunch in the hospital cafe, but Chad just grabbed his sandwich to go and returned quickly so I wasn’t alone before our doula got there. He ended up walking back in with her. Very soon after, a few ‘stop me in my tracks’ contractions, and I didn’t want to sit on the birth ball anymore, it sounded good to try laboring in the tub or try something different. So that was getting filled up while they helped me get situated leaning forward on the end of the bed for a bit. (I learned after that my doula whispered to Chad at this point that I would not be actually making it to that tub). That’s when the next contraction hit, probably around 12:45 or 1, that literally must have been the baby dropping right into place and it was game ON. This is when natural labor got primal. Sounds I didn’t know my body could make. An internalization of my attention/focus that is hard to describe. A team of people was suddenly in the room, Chad was heaving me up onto the bed as my knees were buckling (sorry about that, honey). Somewhere in there my parents wandered back to our room from the cafeteria and got a shock I believe (Mom can chime in on exactly how their arrival fit into the time series). And onto delivery we were! Our doula spoke right into my ear words of magic and regularly applied her elixir of essential oils and about 30 minutes later lying on my side and one contraction at a time, little Greta inched her way out, born around 1:30pm. All 8lbs 4oz with her arm up against her face superman style (very helpful position, sheesh). When she finally came out and was up on my body I gushed with tears, just overwhelmed by the intensity- emotionally, physically, psychologically- of the whole event. We did it! I did it! She was here! Although I still didn’t know she was a she at that moment. Chad got to check and announce boy or girl, so we soon had the big news 🙂  We snuggled and nursed a bit and then while they did all the newborn checks and immediate care items, I got my clothing switched from my maternity t-shirt dress- that had gotten a bit, uh, messed- to a hospital gown for transferring to the postpartum room, and we started getting organized to head out of the labor suite after a couple hours to chill and bond. Oh, and somewhere in there I delivered a placenta and they checked me out, reporting ZERO  tearing. Mission accomplished. I officially felt like a superhero and was in love with my midwife and doula. I don’t think this labor and delivery could have gone better. I am soooo thankful! If only Chad hadn’t rubbed my hair into a birds’ nest during the pushing stage… ah, can’t win ’em all!

(pic below from 5:30 pm on our way to postpartum wing)
greta arrived 530pm

One trick pony, or master of parenthood?

After a two year hiatus, I want to get back to the blog. Given my last post was regarding O’s 2nd birthday, what better to start back off than planning another birthday party? This kid is 4 years old in two days! In these last two years, he has, well, he’s gotten two years older. He’s a shrewd negotiator- “But mom … it’s only one… I’ll be careful… ” He’s also morphed into a night owl. Our baby who practically dove into his crib on cue each night now hangs out in his bed until 10pm, sometimes wandering out for various distractions/requests, sometimes just playing around “secretly.” He actually told us– “Dad, when you put me to bed sometimes, I get out of my bed.” Uh huh, we know. He also grew up a lot in this past year, becoming a big brother, and beginning official preschool in lieu of the home daycare program he was in for 3 years. He’s an adaptable kid and is thriving with each of these big changes, thankfully. I wanted to take him to dinner just the two of us one night, having focused so much on the new baby recently, and he cried that he didn’t want to leave his baby behind! He loves her that much. I hope it lasts, because the sibling love is so beautiful!
So, back to O’s party planning- this will be… drumroll… a farm party! Again! Granted, we will hold it at the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum instead of Frying Pan Farm Park where we did his 2nd. But he loves the little museum, it’s simple, and why reinvent anything in a phase of life that is already challenging enough? Hence the title of this post. I booked the little party space, ordered a few party items to supplement the farm themed supplies I had leftover from last time at the same website as before, ordered a gift on Amazon, sent an Evite to the usual kid-family friends and, voila, party planning complete. The food will include the usual array of single serving fun snacks (goldfish, fruit snacks we picked up last shopping trip at Aldi), sandwich platter, cake… and deviled eggs. Deviled eggs were recently decided to be our ‘thing’ to make for all functions. After reading a post about how minimalist moms conquer working motherhood, I decided doing what’s simple and works is best for us, even if it’s often the same. Because I’d rather be engaged and participatory, even if it’s in a predictable quick fire kind of way, than scattered and overwhelmed by coming up with something new constantly. What theme birthday party should we do this year? … leads to… Forget it, this is exhausting, who has the energy for planning kid parties? Who has the time to cook for social gatherings? We’ll just skip or arrive feeling guilty with the usual excuse “oh gosh, we have a new baby, couldn’t be bothered [hand on forehead in exasperated manner]!” No good. I’m just deciding many things don’t have to be that complicated. Yes, my kid has the same birthday cake plates and little decorations at his 4th birthday party as his 2nd birthday party. But, he didn’t have a party at all turning 3! 😦  I’ll pick the same plate pattern over skipping out altogether any day. Yes, we will now bring the same thing to every potluck, church event, work lunch, etc. But we always have eggs, the instant pot makes hard boiling a batch a cinch, O thinks it’s fun to take off the shells, and Chad has a particular egg filling mixture using honey mustard that he enjoys making, so this one is a no stress item for us and works for everything. Also, it’s chocolate-free, nut-free, and vegetarian so works for almost everyone (sorry, vegans). We can even make it Whole 30 compliant when necessary! For that matter, I’d rather write a quick imperfect blog post than put it off for two years in the name of perfect pictures and prose. So, invite us to your next shin dig and you can always count on us for the protein.  If you’re coming to our thing, you can bet you’re safe wearing jeans and a straw hat.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today my wonderful mom celebrates the big 6-0. What an amazing birthday year! She has raised two kids, owned multiple businesses, and now lives the dream in retirement. It’s like vacation every day down there in TN! We recently visited for the annual July 4th pilgrimage involving friends and family alike this year. We threw Mom and Dad (who also has an upcoming milestone bday, turning 65 later this month) with a surprise birthday party- that they truly knew nothing about 🙂 Her cake was made from a photo of one of her favorite art quilts “Fox in the Moonlight.”

mom cake

It was great to honor their big bday with many family and some great friends all together- a rare event. Happy 60th, Mom!! I love you!

mom dad cut cake


This and That

So much has happened recently! Major landlord chores to kick us off in 2015 including a flooded basement and failing AC unit. Eek. Hopefully I’ll get a picture of the final new product that is finishing up in remodel phase right now. Even though I don’t live there, it’s still exciting to get a brand new basement and bathroom! We added a bit to the insurance money to get a full brand spankin’ new bathroom, complete with redesigned plumbing and proper insulation, a new double pane window, heated floor, big tiled shower. The previous quick DIY job was not up to the task of record cold temps that Pittsburgh saw late this winter. Remember this from our quick redo in 2012?


Well, here’s where we are now. Pardon the not-great phone picture. So excited for a bathroom that’s not even finished… and not even mine!

new shower in progress rz

Down here in VA, we’ve initiated some landscaping work in our new yard, with my very own lilac, courtesy of O and Chad for Mother’s Day. The real gift of course was Chad chopping out all the overgrown twiggy shrubs outside our family room to make space for my lilac. (Chad convinced me he would need to purchase a chain saw for this- never did use it for this particular project… hmm….)

chopping shrubs

And we’ve been planting a few other items that I’m excited to get some pics of when they become photographable- think very sad hostas stolen and split from our other yard in PA, and dormant shrubs that are basically just sleeping sticks put in the ground for now (=economical landscaping!).

All for now, but wanted to share a bit of the spring crazy that’s been keeping us busy… oh, and bit of this as well 😉



o mechanic


Winter From *&#@ In Tennessee


Is everyone enjoying this wonderful winter. I know I am….not. I had cabin fever really bad and had to leave the cabin. I told Roger that I would be a changed woman when I came home. So I bought some nice blonde hair color and gave my winter mousey hair a lift. It worked. I feel better and my hair feels more full and springy. I’m growing it out for the last time before I turn 60 in July. It  is not easy growing your hair long anymore. But so far I am sticking to it. Oh…I also did some therapeutic shopping with my friend Caroline and brought home some springy- summer colored tops. It has started to snow again and I hid the razor blades. Just kidding.

I have been sewing like a crazy woman. Making blocks from scraps and piling them up for a future quilt. I have started a collage quilt that will be a garden trellis of Morning Glories. It is one that I use tiny scraps of batiks to create the fabric painting. When I’m done, it will be thread painted in detail and listed in my new Etsy Shop… Pam George Quilts. I still have my jewelry in the shop with greatly reduced prices. I will still carry fabric cuff jewelry and anything that has to do with fibers. Check out my shop at the same site for a month or so or click here


Happy Winter to you all. We are supposed to be 61 by Tues. 😉


  When I woke up this morning and before I posted the above, we got even more snow. And Mother Nature reminded me of how beautiful she is…even in the South. And I do appreciate her beauty. And I hold in my heart that it will be 61 by Tues.


DSC_0007Now Melt!

New Year, New Nursery

Yay! Project posting time! This year’s posts will be less text, less edited and more photos… or else they will never get done 🙂 Our first bedroom priority in this house was Oliver’s room so we could seal out any residual smokey fumes from the walls and other surfaces and get him moved in for good. Here’s his room the day we moved in. Day 1 we removed the fan fixtures and all window treatments and hardware.

O rm before

And the paint jobs in the bedrooms are slightly more tedious as we’re using an odor-sealing primer and, atleast in O’s room, doing the ceilings while we’re at it. So, first step we repaired all the dry walls holes from window stuff, as well as some phone wires and cables we ditched, and whited out this room with our super primer and started with a clean slate.


There’s only so many hours in the day, so much of this project happened at night, and where necessary, with O perched outside in the hallway in his highchair while we tossed him Cheerios between paint strokes. =super parents.

O paint chair

Ta da! Here’s the first peak at the paint job. We did a bright white ceiling that dropped down the wall one-fifth of the way and used the same grey we’re doing throughout the house (Benjamin Moore Moonshine) on the lower majority of the walls. Finally ready for decorating!

paint done

Don’t have them up yet, but our window treatments from West Elm just arrived! Clearance- $19.99 per panel! Couldn’t make curtains for less than that. Sad to be losing the curtains I so painstakingly made for his original nursery (while very pregnant), but this room has two windows so I would either be duplicating what I made already for the second window (which would take me another month or more to get done), or starting fresh. I opted for fresh and I’ll see how I can re-purpose the original one.

Can’t wait to get these up and start pulling the room together some more. Yay!