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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Goals for 2016 - Review

I love those Meryl Streep memes showing how ragged and tired people are after 2016. I made my own with a different actor.

Me at the beginning of 2016

Me at the end of 2016



I had some big goals for 2016. If you don't want to click on the link, here they are:

Writing
  1. Finish Stalkers.
  2. Finish a really good personal essay. Get it published.
  3. Get an agent.
  4. Get some new publication clips.
  5. Complete NaNoWriMo 2016.
  6. Have a new novel to pitch at conferences.
  7. Sell/publish another children’s fiction piece.
  8. Sell/publish children’s non-fiction piece.
  9. Attend a new writing conference.
Assessment - To be really fair, I don't think I accomplished any of these! I didn't finish Stalkers or NaNoWriMo. I don't have a new novel yet. I didn't sell any new fiction pieces. I did get a Runner Up Award for a fiction piece, and I was chosen as the 2016 2017 Fellow for Pen Parentis. I am so proud of those achievements. No new conferences and no agent. 


Business
  1. Increase school visits.
  2. Get/keep two steady freelance clients.
Assessment - These didn't happen either, but not for lack of trying. My group marketing project didn't go anywhere to increasing school visits. I'm picking up some steam a little on the clients front. 

Reading
  1. Read all the Newbery award books. 
  2. Read 100 books (again).
Assessment - I didn't read all the Newbery books. That's a lot of books. And I didn't read 100 books, I read 57 I think. Not terrible. If I counted all of the picture books I read to kids, my total would be closer to 100.

Fitness
  1. Run CUCB.
  2. Run Pgh Marathon Relay.
  3. Try some new races.
  4. Run a sub 7:00 mile.
Assessment - I ran the CUCB despite the wind. I ran the relay. I completed the Presque Isle Triathlon that I had failed to do in 2014. And I completed the Glenwood Duathlon, a brand new race for me! That's a win.

Community Service 

  1. Continue to work for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
  2. Do a gleaning activity for GPCFB.
Assessment - I did some good work for Moms Demand Action. I did not do a gleaning for GPCFB, but I did start cleaning the NHCO pantry with the boys. 

What's on the list for 2017? I'm still working on it.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Basement Clean Out


As our renovation came to a close, we moved things out of the storage area and back on to the first floor. And moving things out highlighted that we could use the space in the basement a lot better. Well, it highlighted it to me. I'm sure the rest of the family didn't care that much. I was probably influenced by way too much HGTV, too. I'm not sure if was great tacking on another project while we were wrapping up the first, but it's done now and I think people are pretty happy.

Here's how things looked at the start:








You may recall that I went through a metric ton of photo albums and cleaned out papers and old gadgets and knickknacks. We donated and sold excess furniture. I really wanted to see if we could get our storage bins emptied of the inessentials and make room for new memories. 

I wanted new shelves in the room at the bottom of the basement stairs, and my eventual goal is to make that into a fun hangout room for the boys. They sort of lost their free-for-all playroom when we converted the fireplace room into the main dining room. 

So once the storage room was cleaned out, I moved the padded workout flooring into the storage room. Then I moved the exercise equipment that I could handle into the storage room. A service guy had to move the treadmill, so that was an expense. 


I still want to get the bikes hung up, but I need to buy hooks. I also want to extend the padded flooring further into the room.




Here's our new storage system in the main basement room. It's so functional. We have a ton of room there now. I don't have a great photo of the hangout space because it's blanketed with LEGOS, but I'm working on it. I think the boys deserve a comfortable (but inexpensive) carpet and a place to sit and a place to build and store LEGO projects.


Things are still in progress, but one thing is certain. It's so cold in the basement right now that running on the treadmill is not uncomfortable or sweaty. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Am I a Good Parent?

Apparently, I am, based on my Christmas orders for my kids. Because of this creepy thing. Sort of. 



Here is a transcript of my emails to the company and their replies: 


January 01, 2017
Customer comments: I ordered a Manchester City controller skin. Not sure why I received this. 

January 01, 2017
 ------------ Begin message -------------

Dear Elizabeth A Pagel,

Thanks for your message,it says that the item you received is wrong.We sincerely apologize to you.but what we supply is just for one which is the same as the picture show . no Manchester City skin .
In this situation, I hope you can help us to take some photos of the items and package.So I will feedback
to our colleagues that we can improve our work and prevent similar problems.
After we confirmed the details,We will offer you a satisfied solution for this issue after we confirmed the details.Please kindly understand
our procedure.
Please feel free to tell us your opinion.
Looking forward your reply.

Have a nice day!

Best regards,
Customer Support

January 04, 2017


Hi, thanks for this reply. I am not sure how I ordered this skin, I must have done something wrong. I was looking on Amazon for different football(soccer) team skins for my kids for Christmas. The skin I have is the same as pictured in my Amazon order history, I see that now. Nothing is wrong with it, it’s just not the one I wanted. It’s probably not worth the money to ship it back, so I will just keep it. Thanks. 

Elizabeth

January 04, 2017
------------- Begin message -------------

Thank you for your understanding ! Have a nice day ,you are a good parent .



SWEET! Parenting validation!!! People judge parents way too much so it's nice to get some praise now and then. Yes, it's coming from a customer service rep who doesn't actually know anything about me.

I assume the parenting praise is for my gift choice, not for my financial decisions or skill with online ordering. This guy probably imagines that I am ordering the soccer team skins for my kids and I let them play video games all day.

He wishes his parents had ordered him cool soccer team skins for his video game controllers and let him play games all day. But they probably made him do other things, maybe even like art or graphic design, and maybe he even designed that creepy skull image. What if he started the company that made these skins - not likely, I know, but what if - all because his parents wouldn't let him rot his brain on video games?

Maybe they were better parents than me.

But that guy doesn't think so.




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Get Pumped About Breast Pumps and a Prize!

I was reminded about breast pumps years at some recent family holiday gatherings. First, let me be clear that I'm not pregnant. Nope, my youngest turns seven this week, so it's over six years since I last used a breast pump.

Yes, six wonderful years.

breast pumps
Cheers to breast pumps! (and prizes)


I'm still grateful for powerful little breast pump that helped me feed all three kids. I loved my pump, and there is a vast selection of breast pumps for women now. But I'm also grateful to have that time back. And that's why I agreed to host a giveaway for a $50 gift card in a chat about breast pumps here on my blog!! More on that in a minute, so keep reading.

Back to pumps.

Breast pumps are great, aren't they? Pumping was a little easier than nursing when traveling and at family events. It gave me a few minutes away from the hectic holiday party. It was easier to feed a baby pumped milk than to worry about carting around all that formula, or running out of formula, and the weird odor.

Let's admit it, though, pumping wasn't all perfect. There were some limitations.


  1. I had to remember to pump before running, because running when you're engorged is no fun. (I've run while breastfeeding, but never pumped on the run like this mom!
  2. I had to watch how many cocktails I had, and time my drinks and pumps. (Get the scoop on alcohol and breastmilk here.) 
  3. I had to find a private spot to pump and hope no one walks in. 
  4. I had to make sure I had all the supplies I needed. 
  5. I had to find space in the fridge already crowded with holiday food for the pumped milk. (Our family still gets a good laugh about the time we visited a new mom, and our middle asked for a glass of milk, but very seriously told us he did not mean the mom's milk.)
  6. And I would inevitably almost forget some of the milk I pumped!


And there were plenty of other things to worry about, like engorgement and low milk supply. (If you're having problems you can get some help with pumping here.)

It was a lot to think about back then added on to all the other needs of the baby. To be honest I'm pretty psyched to be past the breast pump days. I was a lot more relaxed at this year's parties.

 Here are some things I did at the parties this year instead of pumping:


  1. Drank an extra cocktail whenever I wanted.
  2. Finished reading my book while sitting in a lounge chair. It was weird, but when I was a nursing mom I often found it hard to concentrate on books. I often just read magazines. 
  3. Played a board game with my oldest. 
  4. Took a nap and didn't wake up engorged.
  5. Ate a lot of cookies. (OK, I did that one while pumping plenty of times.)


The point is, I had more free time.

Now to the contest that I mentioned. You can answer either question (or both) in a comment, and you have to comment to win a $50 gift card!

  • How did you multi-task when pumping?
  • What are you doing with the time you've reclaimed from pumping?
Make sure you comment to be entered to win the $50 gift card!! And share this with your friends who deserve a nice after-holidays treat. Good luck!




Friday, December 16, 2016

Sandy Hook Remembered Four Years Later


On Wednesday, December 14, 2016 I attended a vigil for the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook. I was given a chance to speak and this is what I said:

Four years ago, I was in a kindergarten classroom helping five and six year olds with holiday crafts. When I left that classroom, the world had changed.
I didn’t know what to say or do. I was terrified. I was silent.
Then I found Moms Demand Action, and with it, my moment of silence ended. I learned how to speak up. I learned about the problem of gun violence in my community, my state, and my country.
And thanks to Moms Demand Action, I learned about the many other groups that have been speaking up and working on the problem of gun violence for years. I joined the movement.
I learned there are millions of other moms and friends that felt the same way. I learned that it's not just the kids we want to protect, it's women from domestic abusers, it's police officers just trying to do their job, it's teenage boys just walking the streets. It is the memory of these innocent victims, the 91 people who die every day due to gun violence, that drives us to fight for commonsense gun laws.
I have a first grader now, and sending him to school today was difficult. I won’t ever forget what happened in Sandy Hook. It’s just not option.
Keeping silent when we have so much work to do is not an option either. So let’s #keepgoing.
That night, I was reminded (but I don't really forget) that 91 Americans die every day from gun violence. That's almost 4 Sandy Hooks a day. 

A man near me was recently arrested and found to have 300 weapons in his Shaler home.

A woman and a police officer were killed during a domestic violence dispute. The killer was allowed to keep his weapons even after he had a Protection from Abuse order. 

On December 15,  I contacted my elected officials to ask them what they plan to do to reduce gun violence in their upcoming terms. I received some canned responses and some silence. I'll let you know if I hear anything. 

In the meantime, I urge you to join Moms Demand Action and help us work to reduce gun violence. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Lend a Helping Hand

I need a helping hand.



The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is four months away. I'm training for it, but what's more important is meeting my goal for supporting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Last year I beat my fundraising goal with your help.

I've got a long way to go this year. I'm used to long races. Sometimes it's tough. But running helps us handle the tough stuff.

I need your help this year, too. Just take a look at my story over on the Cherry Blossom blog and then donate.