Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cuppa Jo is MOVING!

The Cuppa Jo will be moving to www.thecuppajo.wordpress.com by January 1.

In fact, I'm there now, but still living in two homes. Any NEW posts will be there. All archived content has been transferred. I've yet to move my domain name. So use the address above for the next 12 days.

And I did it all by myself.


This kind of stuff is challenging for me.

I still have to tweak a few things, so give me some time to play around and redecorate.

Looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about over at Wordpress . . . especially considering that for the past week I've been unable to edit any content here at Blogger, and have thus LOST two posts. I took that as the kick in the pants that I needed to finish a 2011 goal:

Move to Wordpress.


See you there! Come on over. Bring an appetizer!

(So, as of this posting, the editing feature here at Blogger seems to be working again. Sadly, it was too late - after being unable to edit two posts, which then ended up disappearing altogether, I'd had it. Had it, as in, time to teach myself something new today: Wordpress.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Independent Reader: Yes, to Pigeons. No, to Cats. In Hats.

Mo Willems' books are always entertaining.

I first adored them through the sweet voice of my once 5 year old, Harper.

And tonight . . . from Zane.

Only, I wasn't sitting next to him. 

"Mommy! It's my first night!"

"Your first night?"

"Reading in my bed by myself before I go to sleep. It's my FIRST NIGHT!"

Thanks to Miss B, Zane's first-grade teacher, and thanks to having a son who is wired to move and groove when there is a prize at stake - like going out for pizza with the lovely Miss B once he finishes 100 books - Zane has caught the reading bug and is continually trying to challenge himself.

We are finding that Zane likes measured goals. In Cub Scouts he was all over the popcorn sale so he could win a gift card. He wants those darn beads. And belt loops. STAT! You know it. Earned three tonight. (Beads? Belt Loops? What? Yep, those boys are just as decked out as some Mary Kay consultants I recall seeing at conventions. Truth is - I love that kind of stuff, too.)

So, when it comes to reading?

No different.

His book form has a place to check whether he read the book independently, or whether the book was read to him. The last 10 books he has tackled have all been on his own. 

Tonight was evidence.

With his little lantern next to him in bed, George and I heard him reading for an hour after tuck-in.

It was 10:00 before he dozed off.

This morning, he showed me what he accomplished last night. Two Mo Willems' books, and another about an albatross.

As for the "Cat in the Hat Came Back" which was also sitting on his night stand?

"Nah, I didn't finish that one. It was just too long and the Cat was annoying me."

Dude, I feel the same way.

That cat produces anxiety. In children.

And adults.

Confession. I've never liked those books. Who wants to go to bed all stressed-out and high-strung?

I'll stick with my second run-through of Hunger Games . . . ;-) Movie trailer, here.

No tension there, right?

Can't wait to listen in on you tonight, little man!

Salvation Army, A Tiffany Lamp, and My Big Mouth

"It's not a real Tiffany lamp. It's a reproduction."

I'm at Salvation Army. One of my favorite Wednesday haunts due to it being 50% off day.

This week, I wasn't there to linger. I had something specific in mind. A 1940's-style dress and shoes for our church's radio production of "It's a Wonderful Life." I found them. $7.99 total. Score.

See, I really do adore my Sal Val.

Unless, I feel they are trying to pull one of their second-hand wool sweaters over a customer's eyes.

The sales-clerk responds.

"It is so. Says so. On the tag. Tiffany lamp. This is the real deal. I think we should price it at $99.00."

"Yes, it says Tiffany, but I don't think they put tags like that on their pieces." I was really trying to be polite, but clearly, the thing was a knock-off and hardly worth $100. Not to mention the "real deal" would come in at way more than 100 bucks.

"Well, it says it is, so I think we should sell it for $100. It's a brand new one, too."

"Before advertising it as such, I'd do some research on legit-Tiffany lamps. This isn't one."

Basically, I was at the counter hanging with the employees who were trying to decide if the lamp was legit, and if so, how to price it. Now, certainly, any discerning buyer would know that this thing clearly wasn't an original, but the employees wanted to price it high, (just in case), for the non-suspecting crowd.

"Turn in over," I offered.

Made in China.

"Oh. Ok. But we could still put $99 on it. Someone will buy it, thinking it's real."

I took that as my cue to walk away, 'cause now I was just getting angry.

One of the guys who was a part of the discussion walked with me.

"You totally called that."

"Yeah. I can't stand when people get taken. Especially on fake stuff. It's not a real Tiffany. You guys shouldn't try to pass it off as being real."

"Yeah. But we could!" and he laughed.

The whole exchange from the initial discussion at the counter to that moment wasn't heated in any way, but I could tell the woman who really wanted to price it at $100 was not too happy to have my input.

Sometimes I just can't help it.

I just don't want someone to get taken. Or cheated. I can't stand being deceived.

Over lamps. Or anything else.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brain Book

Let's start with what a BRAIN BOOK is NOT.

It is not a:

~  To-Do List
~  Daily Planner
~  Calendar
~  The same for everyone
~  A rigid system
~  Expensive
~  Something that can be done online or with a smart-phone
~  A place to organize large quantities of paperwork. It's not a long-term filing system. I don't house recipes, bill statements, or my children's pieces of homework or art in this binder.

On Wednesday, as I picked up Zane from school, I noticed the kids filing out holding small items that they had obviously purchased at the Santa's Workshop: a craft store with items ranging from $.25-$5.00. A school sponsored event where kids can do their Christmas shopping for family members.

I remembered the paper coming home about it. Noted the date on my calendar. But could not for the life of me remember an envelope coming home on which Zane could write his shopping list and store his money, (as they've done in the past) and thus, wrongly assumed it would come home on another day with a reminder about the event.

I blew it. The envelope had been attached to that initial handout. I guess.

Zane had tried to remind me the night before that it was happening the next day, but as I didn't have the envelope, I just figured . . . well, I figured wrong. Oddly enough, I didn't even check my calendar, which is very revealing.

Clutter. Papers on my secretary desk in the living room. Papers in my office. Papers in the basket on the dining room buffet.

Too many papers. Too many locations.

I removed some emotional clutter from my life over these past two weeks by choosing to limit myself from getting caught up in Facebook chatter on my personal wall. Instead, I've been focusing on my Fit with Jo page, my Coaches, and my accountability group. I still post my blogs, and the blogs of friends, but I really sensed that part of my clutter, was the presence of too many voices. Too much input. Senseless, mindless, time/energy/spirit-sucking chatter.

Now, it was time to remove the tangible clutter that was clouding my thoughts and wasting my time. The,

"Where is that paper?"
"Where did I put Zane's site words for the week?"
"Where is Harper's basketball schedule?"

We waste so much looking for stuff that should already have a home.

Enter. The BRAIN BOOK.

What it is:

~  A simple 3-ring binder.
~  Pocket dividers with categories written on the tabs.
~  Cheap
~  A place to organize minimal paperwork. Items that need be readily available.
~  Customizable: mine will not look like yours.
~  Mobile. Can be carried from room to room.
~  Ever-changing. Papers are not there to be filed for good. Think short-term filing. Papers go in and go out. Categories can be changed as the seasons of life change.

I made my BRAIN BOOK yesterday morning. One would be tempted to start by writing out categories, but let me encourage you to start by sorting every piece of paper that is stacked up in various locations in your home. Once sorted you will know what categories you need to make. The pieces that do NOT fit a category can go in to long-term filing.  Thus, I have a file cabinet for items I do not need to see everyday, and a BRAIN BOOK, for the items I do.

The kicker?



Enter, the "Daily/Urgent" category pocket.

The other categories? Completely up to you. Mine are Daily/Urgent, Pay, George, Harper, Zane, Purchase, Coupons (which then get moved to my coupon book), Beachbody, Mom to Mom, Write, Contacts, Personal/Keep.

The BRAIN BOOK is something that should be at your fingertips. It is the first point of contact. The "go-to". The "you'll find it in there."

Clutter can by paralyzing.

The BRAIN BOOK gets me moving!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 Highlights and 2012 CHANGES!

2011 was sweet.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am not a New Year Resolution maker. Simply sitting down and writing down a list of goals does not a finished goal make. I believe, or rather, have been retrained to understand, that goals must flow from priorities. It's very hard to set goals when you have no idea of your driving purpose.

I've been fortunate to have a number of mentors in my life. Yes, Chalene Johnson is one. But there is also Linda Anderson, creator of Mom to Mom ministries. And the prayer partner I've had since 1992, minus the first 2 years we have lived here in Beaver (we are once again back at it, thankfully). I have "people" and I am continually trying to learn and grow - with them at my side. Going at anything alone is counter-productive. So I choose to be teachable. Not always easy or comfortable. But, hey, I'm in my 40's - I'm really not interested in the shallow.

My latest epiphany happened today. In a quiet house. No music. No TV. No other people present. Just me. And God.

I had a 2x4 moment.

The Beachbody journey that I began in 2010 grew out of a need to be well. I was, for lack of a better word, blah. My husband was struggling with depression. My body was becoming the 40 year old I never wanted to be, my emotions were haywire, and I was a lazy, hazy mess. I chose God and fitness to get me out of my funk.

2011 brought the realization that Beachbody was becoming a true business. There was still so much to learn, and through the process I realized that I hadn't even scratched the surface of what this business could bring me, my family, and my customers.

I decided to sit in on a cyber course Chalene Johnson was teaching. A 30 day course which I thought would be strictly about organization. I was wrong. The course actually taught me that I was approaching my goals a$$ backwards.

I wrote a purpose statement. Clarified my priorities. And only THEN sat down to brain-dump some goals. Out of the list - the following were accomplished:

  • Earn the Beachbody Success Club trip to Atlantis for me and George, so we could celebrate 20 years of marriage on our FIRST trip alone since Harper was born.
  • Earn a specific monthly income with Beachbody.
  • Close another 3-year old home-based business. "If you chase two rabbits, one will escape."
  • Return to theater: Lost in Yonkers and Pump (for which I won Best Actress - which WASN'T on the goal list - a perk).
  • Pay off half our debt. 
  • Complete P90X.
  • Start a devotional blog, Daily Fast Fuel, with other writers.
  • Build a deck in the backyard.
Which brings us to today. Just days away from 2012.

So, what's on the docket?

Well, first of all, I'm dumping one of my blogs. 

Cuppa Fit, will be making its exit.

Why? This year, as I built my Beachbody business, I increased my time on my Fit With Jo Facebook page, Twitter, and You Tube

In that process, good 'ole Cuppa Jo suffered. This blog. And, I miss it. Greatly.

This year also taught me that fitness isn't just about losing weight, inches, getting lean and cut, and being able to do a zillion push-ups in a month. If anything, the work I began in January, taught me that fitness is wholistic. It covers all areas of my life: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. Cuppa Jo is truly where I work all that out. It's the coffee shop where I sit with friends, chatting away about everything. It's where I process. Linger. Learn. Grow. I've been a coffeehouse girl since 1992. As I look back on this year, I barely visited my own shop.

If I truly want to encourage YOU to a life of whole fitness, (and I do) then merely having a blog where I talk about my workouts, ain't gonna cut it. 

Simply talking with you on Facebook about exercise and nutrition isn't going to move either of us forward.

It's time to expand the content to include LIFE.

2012's theme is hereby announced!

Total Fitness: It's Not Just Physical

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, TEARS, Repeat: Manic Christmas

"Is it Saturday?"


"Is there school today?"


"NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm not getting up!"

"Zane, I thought you loved school!"


Normally, I don't count down the days until Christmas. This year, I can tell you, that as of this posting, there are exactly, 18 looooooooong days until the DAY OF DAYS.

Until that time, we will experience laughter, weeping, deep meaningful questions, gnashing of teeth, cheers, pure grief, good deeds, lots of back-chat, snuggles, and screaming.

I'm certain a door will be slammed.

It started on Sunday - the day we got our tree. The tree was spotted by the children within 2 minutes into our wagon ride around the farm. Once the tree was up, Christmas had officially begun. The tree is our ushering in of the holiday. And, once again, we they picked perfectly.

"It's coming! It's really coming! Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!! I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS!"

This was Zane for the remainder of the day.


As we decorated, the kids marveled at some of the home-made ornaments they had gifted us with over the years. We sang the little Thomas the Train diddy as one of Harper's favorite ornaments from her Thomas stage was removed from the box. We all "ahhh'd" as our Linus ornament, complete with green blanket (a la Zane) was proudly hung by our own Linus.

"I forgot how much fun this is," was Harper's reaction - and she was right.

We finished decorating and celebrated with our family tradition of turning off all the lights in the house, except for the tree, and running outside with no coats to view it from the street.

Every year we seem to get the "best tree yet", and this year is no exception.

The snowman collection is proudly displayed, the tree is lit and standing tall, the advent boxes are filled with treats. We are reading Letters From Father Christmas this year to set the mood.

But emotions are thin. Fragile. The ice is cracking.

Someone, mainly Zane, looks as if he won't make it to Christmas Day. The mere correction of a "b" and a "d" on a homework assignment (those two can be so confusing) turned him into an angry elf. And it was only Monday. A slight hot-chocolate spill, causes his spirit to boil over.

He won't eat. Unless it's from Buddy's diet. The slightest inconvenience ("Where are my shoes!") sends him into a tearful tantrum. The expectation is just too much for him to take. The last two days in a row have had him wailing his trademark "This is the worst ________" statement.

Currently it is, "This is the WORST. CHRISTMAS. EVER!"

Translation: it's the worst because it's not here yet.

And then, last night, curled up in our reading chair, we read 6 Christmas stories together. Wrapped in his blanket (in which I'm glad we can both fit), we read about Santa and Rudolph, when . . .

"Mom, let's read some of the real Christmas stories. The TRUE ones. With Jesus."

Back to DEFCON 5.

If you come to visit, be prepared to do some hill work, for it's up and down in here. Touch and go until the 25th.

But perhaps, you have some Manic Christmas in you as well. If that's the case, you'll fit right in.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Nun's Wisdom About Facebook

My apologies for not offering the exact name of the author of this prayer (scroll down to bottom). All I can find is a title: "Seventeenth-Century Nun's Prayer". However, the language sounds a bit too modern to be written by a Nun in the 1600's. I suspect false advertising.

However, Nun or no Nun. It's good stuff. As you are well aware, I've been doing quite a bit of writing on the subject of Facebook. You can read about that here, here, and here. They are lengthy posts.

There is no denying that FB, Twitter, blogging, etc. are now a mainstay in our culture. Communication has not necessarily "come to this", but the "this" has certainly taken up some prime real estate in our interactions with one another.

A friend shared this prayer with me a few days ago, and I thought it was both a fabulous read, and incredibly convicting and helpful as we navigate our daily interactions with one another in person, as well as in cyber-life.

I have come to yet another conclusion about social media: In the written world, there seems to be a lack of grace towards the poster and those that comment on posts. The environment yields itself well to quickly constructed sound-bytes which seem to provoke (encourage?) quick responses (reactions?) in return. However, the grace we may extend to one another in real, physical life, you know, the face to face contact that was so popular years ago, seems to get chucked when we choose to type our thoughts - whether as the original author, or the commentator. People misspeak. We all, at times, speak without thinking. So one could argue that we also mistype - letting our fingers do the talking without first examining what it is we are saying. I know I have. Have you?

Just look at the citation list above.

If that was the standard, I'd be guilty of all it. Except maybe the vulgarity. Unless you count "A$$" or the cleverly disguised, "@#(^".

Is anyone completely innocent of all charges?

And, just who is writing these "tickets"?

 "The author [of the list in the photo] should just," as my sister put it, "remove him/herself off of the offending social media site and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves."

Yes, rather than keeping a list of wrong-doings.

In that respect, FB and real-life seem eerily similar. Do they not?

So, the prayer. For those of us that post. And for those of us who comment on posts. For me. For you. For the time being, I'm choosing to watch my fingers a bit more closely. Slow to speak. Slow to type.

Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody else's affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody. Helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from endless recital of details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally - I may have been mistaken.

Keep my reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.