goalWhat was your goal this morning when you woke up? If you’re like me, it’s probably to make it through the first cup of coffee until coherency sets in. That, however, is a short term goal. Really short.

What about those long term goals? Yes, that includes 5 year and 10 year goals but it also includes weekly, monthly, or even yearly goals. I have to admit that I’ve always had a vague notion of where I was going, career wise. It wasn’t until recently that I had to actually sit down and put those goals down on paper. My first step? Applying for my doctorate.

Why is it important to have goals? Well, if you don’t know where you’re going how are you going to get there? A goal sets the destination and also gives you an idea of how to get there too.

Of course, that’s a seriously lofty goal and it took me forever to figure it out. I wish I had read “How to Set Goals When You Have No Idea What You Want” about a month ago (that would have required time travel though since the post was only written on 9/1/09). Make sure to read the comments, too, as they contain quite a few ideas that might help you figure out your goals.

So, here’s my goals using the “three list” method (see the comments in the mentioned article for this method):

1. Things I want to do: visit the Louvre museum for at least a month; see each and every national monument in the continental United States; go to a writing and/or fantasy/scifi convention

2. Things I want to have: a fluffy dog (check that off the list); a computer that actually runs all my programs without crashing; a Shelby Mustang GT (red with racing stripes, please, and no wussy convertible top); a good pair of shoes every three months

3. Things I want to be: expert in my field (obtaining my doctorate is part of this goal); a mother who attends her kids soccer games/chess tournaments/art exhibits; the wife my husband needs me to be

So, what are your goals? Were they easy or difficult to determine? Which method from the linked article did you use? Tell me because I want to know!

Today I would like to celebrate you, my faithful readers.

All 12 of you.

After doing some digging, I (with the help of my friend, Christy) found that I have a whopping RSS following of an even baker’s dozen.

It’s not as if I am a rabid marketer bent on world domination through my blog’s feed. Nor am I a prolific writer who has a driving passion to express my deepest, most inner most thoughts in a very public way. I’m just a very busy mom who works full time and has 4 blogs for which she writes.

So, here’s to you, my loyal few. You rock!

Thanks

Since school starts next week for my boys, I thought I’d share five back to school tips that I have found particularly helpful.

Tip #1: Get into the swing of things now

If you’re like me, you’ve let your kids sleep in until 8 am and get dressed around 10 am all summer long. Which is fine right up until the first day of school when the kids need to be up and dressed by 6:45 and out the door by 7:30. So this year I have instituted a “Going Back to School” schedule. The whole family is starting their day just as if school had already started. That means earlier bed times and wake ups, beds made, dressed, fed and ready to face the day by 7:30 am. At least I can get the grumbling out of the way now instead of on the first day of school.

Lunch BoxTip #2 Plan out those lunch menus

I’ve blogged about menu planning before but I think it’s important enough to repeat here. Sit down with your kids and plan out a couple weeks worth of lunch menus which all of you can live with. And, if your child packs his or her own lunch, they have a guide to what to bring for lunch on any particular day. It really nips the whole “But I didn’t know what to make so I took candy instead” argument in the bud.

Tip #3: Go to Back to School Night

Even if you are exhausted from a long day at work, the kids are cranky, and it’s pouring rain/sunny and 150 degrees. Everyone is nervous about that first day of school and it isn’t just limited to your kids.

The teacher is getting a whole new set of children in the classroom, 5 year olds are heading to a new phase of their life, and you need to get a feel for the classroom and teacher. So, it’s a good thing to meet & greet before that first day of school.

Tip #4: Create a Central Calendar

Everyone in the family has a list of activities that come in to the house through a number of ways, i.e. through papers coming home from school, emails from colleagues, party invitations sent in the mail. The best way to coordinate schedules is to use a central calendar. There are literally hundres of calendars available through stores and the Internet for you to use. Pick one and post it where everyone can see it (even the 3 foot tall kindergartner!).

Tip #5: Spend Time With Your Kids

It will be all too soon that they are gone all day and involved in their own lives once school starts. While you, and I, may look forward to that, the excitement wears off pretty quickly. So, take the time now to let your kids know that you love them and that you are there for them (no matter what happens). Enjoy it becuase childhood doesn’t last forever.

Do you have any back to school tips? Please share them with me!

Photo by evelynishere on Flickr

Photo by evelynishere on Flickr

School starts in 16 days, 2 hours, and 46 minutes as of the writing of this sentence.

Can you tell I’m excited?

My 4 year old is going to kindergarten (don’t worry, he’ll be 5 the day after school starts) and my newly 9 year old will start the fourth grade. There are so many things to see and participate in during the school year that it’s fun for the whole family.

What’s not so fun is back to school shopping.

The clothes we can deal with since we know our boys are going to need school uniforms each year. Plus the school has a locker to exchange gently used items for clothes that fit. We take advantage of that service but always make sure to leave something in its place.

I’m not so complacent about the school supply list. When did we become responsible for buying wall balls for the classroom? Or colored copier paper? I can understand the penciles, paper, and glue but sandwhich bags? And lets not forget the hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes. I told the hubs that if there had been face masks on the list our boys would have been homeschooled this year.

And they still might considering the state of California’s economy.

Teacher’s are being laid off and the size of the classroom is increasing. I wonder how our children are going to learn what they need to pass the useless tests that are required by the state? The teachers cannot keep up with thirty or forty kids in the classroom. Parental involvement is becoming required not requested in many areas but how can parents be involved in the classroom during the day if they have to work?

Can you tell that this makes me hot under the collar?

The hubs and I debated these questions while shopping at Wally World* the other day for those school supplies. We couldn’t solve the problems of our economy but it was nice to commiserate at the checkout stand when we handed the cashier our hard earned cash.

Okay, so this post was more of a rant about the rising costs of just about everything rather than an opinion. Surely someone out there feels the same way? If you do, leave a comment!

* Yes, Wally World. In this economy I cannot afford to go anywhere else, particularly when the supplies for two little boys costs me nearly $150.

After a completely random landing on a sustainable lifestyle blog, Hole in the Fence (a really good read, btw), I ended up following a link to The Nature Conservancy’s website. And, since the space time continuum apparently stopped while I was surfing the web, I decided that I had a burning need  (and unlimited amounts of time) to use their Carbon Footprint Calculator.

Our family, it appears, puts out about 39 tons of carbon per year. Considering the national average is over 50 tons, we’re doing pretty good. I guess we can do better but that’s another post.

What the Carbon Footprint Calculator did, though, was get me thinking about all the things that we can do to be green, business wise. As a matter of fact, now would be a good time to start up a small green business. Not only would you be doing a service for others but you’d be helping the planet and making a living at it, too. Not a bad set of circumstances.

So, without further ado, here are five green small business ideas that you can get started with:

1. Worm Farming - otherwise known as vermicomposting. Okay, it’s not glamorous since we are, after all, talking about worm poop. And you have to really like wiggly slimy things but worms are Nature’s recyclers and, according to my husband, vericompost fertilizer is the tops for any garden (notice how I avoided writing “its the s**t).  Here’s more information about vermicomposting to get you started:

2. Small Space Gardening – This is a very cool idea for those of you who have a knack for gardening. Here are a couple ideas: put together seed packets and instruction booklet for people in your climate zone, go to peoples’ homes and take care of their gardens, set up patio gardens for apartment dwellers for a fee, set up and run a community garden (if you have the room on your property), etc. You may want to start with The Edible Garden (book by Sunset) or the National Gardening Association.

3. Solar Panel Rentals – Sounds weird but it actually does exist. The upfront costs of solar panels is a little steep, to say the least, but if you can rent them from someone, the rental price is typically lower than the energy bill from the big power company. To start up a solar panel rental business, you’ll need to know your solar technology. Take some classes, install your own, install some for others, read about it, etc.  Additionally, you’ll need to be located in a sunny spot with decent solar subsidies to really make a go of it. Of the green businesses discussed in this post, this is the most expensive upfront but one with the longest lasting impact.

4. Green Clothing – Renewable sourced clothing is very hot right now plus it’s good for the environment. And, if you focus on pet clothing, you may have a niche market. Or, you could source the fibers for others to use in their projects (think organic cotton, bamboo, soy, and hemp). If you want to go the route of making clothing, you’ll need to know how to sew really well. So, this particular business is not for me but it might be for you!

5. Going Green Consultant – Why not help other businesses become greener and environmentally responsible? Any business can go green, from the office supplies to investments to business practices. All you need to do is take your passion for helping the environment and apply it in a new direction.

It goes without saying that you’ll need some business sense and elbow grease to get any small business going. However, if you have a passion for sustainability and for helping others, then I say go for it! Do your research and touch base with your local Small Business Administration or SCORE office for help (if you need it).

Do you have some other small business ideas that are sustainable and/or green? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

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