Monday, January 24, 2011

Prioritizing your activities

Well it's the end of the month and, of course, money is tight... not that it isn't tight any other time, but for some reason it just seems harder to get through the last week of the month.

Here's a scenario: You are trying to be a little frugal on your gas because it is costing so much more now to fill the tank. But you have all these activities you are involved in... church, choir, hair dresser, kid's stuff, family, friends, lessons, grocery shopping , picking your husband up from work. You can't possible do them all.

So how do you prioritize your activities? First, try to get to an activity by riding with a friend. But if you are like me, you live out of the way for anyone to come and get you.

You need to decide which is really important. Here are some thoughts:
Combine as many activities into one day, in one trip. Don't do backtracking (my husband is famous for this).
Plan the best route and figure the time for the activity so you may do more than one thing.

For example, it's cold out, so you can do your grocery shopping in the late afternoon and still be able to attend choir practice that evening.

If you feel that it is important to be in the church for the service (you can usually see services on TV or listen to them on the radio), then be sure to go. Maybe you can then do your shopping before coming home which would put less on your trips to town.

If you have spent time with family very recently, maybe you could cancel one visit with them.

Unless the choir counts on you for a solo or important part, missing a practice may not be detrimental to the outcome. If, however, you are a vital part of the choir, then this would be a priority over the others.

You can cancel your hairdresser appointments and make it for another time... lessons can also be re-arranged. Plan these activities on the same day next month.

Friends are usually very good about changing plans. However, in order to have a good friend you need to BE a good friend, so if your friend needs you then you need to weigh the priority of either being a good friend or losing a friendship. And by "needs you" I don't mean you have lunch once a week and she would be annoyed if you missed. I mean in a time of emotional upheaval, sickness, etc.

You can get through the rough part of the month by thinking ahead. Plan your grocery shopping ahead and get it done so that you have no reason to shop during the rough times. Schedule more things on the same day so there are fewer trips to take.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Years ago my parents and 4 other couples moved to Cobleskill, N.Y. a small town near the Catskill Mountains. People didn't travel as much as they do now, and these 5 couples found themselves without close families on New Years. They decided to have a party on New Year's Eve and each year they would take turns as to which couple would host. They went in alphabetical order: Barnards, Berards, Demick, Fisk, Wingert. As the couples began to start their family, they found it hard to stay up at night and then get up so early in the morning with their infants. A new tradition started and they began to have a New Year breakfast.
I remember these breakfasts, as they went on for years, even after I was married and came home with my husband... That was at least 25 years of MY memories. It started off as breakfast. It gave the women a chance to try out new recipes over the years. I am sure there were a lot of casseroles, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits served to us. Mr. Berard took movies (no sound yet) every year and when we would gather at their house, we would watch these movies of the past 4 years... the laughter and joking as we watched was like being with extended family. I remember watch one movie and seeing myself and Debi go giggling past the camera with our hands trying to shield the camera from seeing us.

The fathers would take all of us kids (there ended up to be about 17 kids) skating on a local pond in town. We did this for a couple of years, but I don't know that any of us were really great skaters. I remember skating once when I was probably around 7 or 8.
The local college had put in a slope and we all learned to ski. It was a small slope, fitted with a tow rope. I was quite young then, and remember my father, holding be between his legs and skis, grabbing the rope and up the hill we would go.
For many years after that, as we became better at skiing, we would travel 45 minutes to a ski area called Scotch Valley (it is no longer in existence). This ski area was equipped with different levels of skiing, and all of us soon became very good skiers, and spent every weekend during the winter at Scotch Valley...
After a day of skiing, we would drive back to the Berards and have our traditional chili dinner. The Berards hosted this dinner every year. Mrs. Berard was a Southern gal and had the traditional "Hoppin' John" - New Year's good luck dish - black-eyed peas and rice.

These friends were as close as family could be, and we all have memories of these times. Not many people enjoy the companionship of friends these days.
We would be required to dress for the occasion, and I remember agonizing over what I would wear. And then in the morning, as all teenagers are, be loathed to get up so early. They started out meeting very early - after all, there were babies in the families. However, as these babies became teenagers, the time was changed and I believe we eventually had to arrive at 9 a.m.

If anyone has any memories of their traditions, please tell us!