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Myself, Roxy & Curtis at the trailhead

Time on the Mountain

Our long weekend was crazy! We had swimming, fundraisers, church, shopping, and parties to fill our time, but Curtis and I managed to eek out a little date time alone on the mountain too.

As I mentioned in a previous post we’ve recently decided that we need to try and get out together a little more often so that we get a bit of a break and some much needed time alone together to reconnect.

Curtis took the lead this time and arranged for a sitter on Sunday afternoon. We decided we would go for a trail “run”.

Up Vedder Mountain we went.

I’ve been up there numerous times but I don’t think I’ve ever been all the way to the top. When you’re taking kids along you kind of go at their pace. Sometimes that pace is SLOW. It’s more about the journey then the destination.

When it’s two adults going things are a bit quicker. As I said Curtis and I were “running” which was really more like a fast hike, running sections here and there. We managed to make the 10km round trip in about an hour and a half. Slowed down mostly by the dog.

It was so fun to get out, enjoy something together that we seldom get to do alone, and chat.

I think Roxy enjoyed the trip too. She often gets overshadowed by the kids when we go as a family and our little hike probably felt a lot like the good ol’ days for her.

It was a little nostalgic for us too to be out together in the woods. We’ve always enjoyed being in the outdoors together so for us it feels a little like we’re getting back to our roots. We both feel most at rest when we’re outside and the conversation flows easily!

How about you? Did you manage to squeeze in a bit of time alone with your special someone this weekend? I hope so!

Date, What’s a Date?

Maybe you’ve been there maybe you haven’t, but that moment when you sit down next to your spouse and say “Hi my name is Cynthia, what’s yours?” should really never happen.

You know what I mean. You get busy – in the literal running around after kids, doing skating, preschool, doctors appointments, work, & friends kind of way.

All of a sudden you sit on the couch next to your spouse and you feel like you haven’t talked to them in months. You need to get to know each other again.

Curtis and I experienced this just a few weeks ago.

We were feeling lonely and disconnected from each other. We were starving for some time alone together out of our house without our kids or other people. We wanted to hang out.

We started talking about a date. We realized the last date we had planned was way back in early December and we had cancelled it because the kids were sick. We intended to reschedule over the holidays of course. Prior to that we couldn’t recall the last time we had been out together. It might have been October when my parents were here to visit. It was April. This needed to change.

We had to refresh our memories. We were unsure of what this thing society calls a date really was. We decided to redefine it.

We realized that what often deterred us from going out was cost. I’m not complaining I’m just stating the truth. When it came right down to it and it was time to put a date on the budget page we often chose to spend our money differently. We had a hard time justifying it.

It was time to re-prioritize.

It’s funny I always think of a date in the traditional as seen on TV kind of date – dinner, movie, some other extravagant event, evening, late nights etc. The reality of this is that I’m not a dinner and a movie kind of girl and he’s not a dinner and a movie kind of guy. If that’s what we want we can stay home and enjoy from the comfort of our couch.

When we actually talked about the things that we enjoy doing together, the best times we’ve had and when we’ve connected the best it’s always been when we’re outside.

Having this conversation was one of the best things we could have done because we realized that to us a “date” is a hiking trip, a run, a paddle, a bike ride or some other outdoor endeavour. None of those things cost us any more than the babysitters time.

All of a sudden a whole new world opened up to us.

So. We went out. Our first date in an unnamed amount of time was a bike ride. It was SOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOD! I can’t even express it.

Relaxing together doing something that we both enjoy was amazing. We tagged a coffee on to the end cause really, who can survive without coffee?! And we went home after 3 hours feeling reconnected and refreshed ready for anything the munchkins could throw at us.

That afternoon was such a good reminder to us that we need to make each other a priority. It’s so easy to brush each other off when other things come up but really we committed our lives to each other. When the kids are gone – and one day they will be – Curtis will still be here.

I don’t want to look up in 15-20 years and realize I have a roommate not a partner. That I am living with a stranger.

I want to be that couple who still loves each other dearly after 50 years. Still holds hands as we walk along the beach. Still proclaims that the other is our best friend.

Being that couple takes a lot of effort. To us it means prioritizing the other. Not pushing each other off when something else comes up. The best thing we can do for each other and for our kids is work at our relationship. Make our marriage a priority. For us right now, that means dating. For you maybe it’s something else.

So, we date. Next weekend we’re going on a trail run. I can’t wait!

 

2014 Goal Recap

Whew, I’m behind. Better late than never I guess.

I thought I’d do a quick review of my 2014 goals before I set my 2015 goals.

2014 brought with it many changes and adjustments as we added L to the family early in the year. It took me a lot longer to get myself organized and out of the new baby fog than I anticipated, and so my goals well, some of them were pipe dreams. But if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time (I think that’s a Zig Ziglar quote but not positive).

SO goals how did I do…

After looking at my post from last year I realized I actually did better than I thought. Some areas fell completely to the wayside, but in others I did ok. Here’s the re-cap:

Professional Goals

  • I pretty much bailed on this whole area. I tried to continue working for Curtis a few hours a week, but we ended up deciding that my time was better spent with the kids, so he hired an assistant in his business to take over my responsibilities. She is amazing, and a blessing to us and the business having her as part of the team allows me to focus on the family for now and later we can figure out what role I will play.
  • Read Entreleadership – YES I DID! And I enjoyed it. What a great way to grow a business from the ground up. I would highly recommend this book to anyone operating a business

Personal Goals

  • Run 1/2 Marathon – YES I did, I completed the Run For Water in Abbotsford last May and wrote about it here
  • Run a winter 5K charity race – I registered for the Winter Warriors race here in Chilliwack, unfortunately there was a miscommunication about the event START time – the time they sent out as a starting time was actually the registration time. We had other plans that day beginning soon after the race would have ended. Unfortunately when I showed up and found out that the event started a full hour later than I (and most of the other participants) had been told I was unable to stay. I made my donation to the food bank collected my T-shirt, and ran 5K anyway but was unable to participate in the official event. We’ll count this one as accomplished these things happen!
  • Run 5-10k, 2-3x/week Oct -Dec – YES I accomplished this! Jan/Feb/March were another story, but we’ll save it for another day 🙂
  • I’m just going to say that the rest of my personal goals happened/didn’t happen intermittently. I was a bit over eager in my goals.

Parenting Goals

  • Read two parenting books – I did! I had already read one when I wrote about my 2014 goals. I also read Parenting with Love and Logic which was great and I highly recommend it. I may even have read a couple of others you could check my 2014 Reading List to see. I also added the Podcast “Mom and Dad are Fighting” to my podcast lineup. It’s so nice to read or listen to these things and add tools to your tool box.
  • Responding kindly and being patient – I don’t think that these are things that I will ever be able to STOP working on. There will always be room for improvement here, but I worked on this in earnest, and I will continue to work on this. I think it will always be on my list of Parenting Goals.

Marriage

  • one date/month – this didn’t happen, but we did get out a handful of times. We truthfully didn’t make it enough of a priority, and then we spent the fall/winter months cancelling dates repeatedly because kids were sick. Trying to do better in 2015.
  • I read the book Boundaries which definitely applies to marriage, though it’s not directly targeted at marriage I certainly learned some valuable things.

Finance

  • 6 month emergency fund – we’re almost there, so didn’t accomplish it. We again spent a fair amount of the funds that would have gone into the emergency fund on actual emergencies. I thank God daily that we got out of debt and started piling up cash because some of the things that have hit us over the last couple years have been huge and if we’d still had debt and no savings we would have fallen on some serious hard times.

There you are, a recap of my 2014 goals for you. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll be posting some 2015 goals to follow the rest of this year.

The importance of ME!

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I learned a valuable lesson about myself today but let me start by explaining how I got there.

L is sick. again. Again. AGAIN! This is a recurring pattern in our house. She is often sick AGAIN before she’s really better. Needless to say it’s been a long winter.

I got up this morning, dressed for a run, got the kids up, E ready for school and realized that instead of running with L in the stroller during preschool as I often do, I would be spending the morning trying to figure this out. I was bummed but you do what you need to for your kids, right.

I spent 5 hours in Emerg this weekend with her and I don’t question or doubt the treatment that we received there it was excellent. I left feeling confident that my baby was on the up and up. Yesterday she seemed fine. Today, not so much.

So, my morning run was spent calling the health unit (because I was wondering if this was a reaction to her 12mo shots), calling the nurses hotline – not sure why I bothered I have never found them to be remotely helpful but that’s a whole nother rant. Then calling our Dr’s office to see if they can squeeze her in – again. They rock and know me by name.

Sadly by the time this was done my opportunity to run with the single stroller was GONE. My stress level had also exploded through the roof and I found myself for the first time in all of this truly feeling like I had reached my limit. I wanted to cry and I think that those around me were just lucky that no one pushed the right button because seriously, I would have flipped.

I was still dressed to run at preschool pick up but I had not yet run.

I spent the afternoon being pretty short with E, holding a baby that was exhausted, sick, and very fussy, and feeling my anxiety level rising. But I was still dressed to run.

I took L to her Dr’s apt. Dropped her swab off at the lab, picked up some lettuce, and came home for dinner. But I was still dressed to run.

At some point this afternoon Curtis suggested that I go for my run after the kids were in bed. They’re in bed early enough and we now have light long enough that this was a totally viable option AND I could run ALONE no stroller. This may not sound like a big deal to you but seriously can’t tell you when I last went out without a stroller.

It would be a shorter run than I had planned but it would still be a run and I was on it.

So, kids in bed, I’m still dressed in my running clothes from the AM and I walk out the door for a short run.

Ahhhh! Heaven!

I should have done it earlier. I came home totally refreshed, in a good mood, having processed my day and ready to fly.

It was such a good reminder to me that I am important. That my time to process is important. That I need to prioritize me and my run.

You see I have this aversion to running with our double stroller. It’s nice. In fact it’s a beautiful stroller but packed with both kids it’s about 100 pounds. So when my opportunity to run with the single stroller and a sleeping baby was written off this morning by things out of my control I wrote off my run.

What I realized tonight when I came home was that if I had sucked up my aversion to the double stroller and gone out after preschool with the kids we probably all could have had a better day. I would have been WAY less stressed. My anxiety level would have greatly decreased if not disappeared AND both my kids love running with me. I would have been a much more fun Mom for E, way less snappy and a lot more motivated.

So, here’s to the reminder of the importance of ME. Of my time, of my run. I need it, we all need it. Taking the time out to do something that refreshes you as a Mom is SO important. Your family will thank you for it.

Oh, and the scenery was BEAUTIFUL. Painfully so. Can’t complain about that either.

Tomorrow morning I will remind myself of this and load both kids up to go. Everyone will be happier 🙂

2014 Goals

If 2013 was a year of change for us, then 2014 is even more so. We are excited to be imminently expecting the arrival of our second child in late January and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for us this year especially since it’s kicking off with such a bang.

I’ve set goals a little differently this year in hopes of accomplishing a few more of them, and rounding things out a little bit more so that life is a bit more balanced. Again my thinking here is that I will hopefully have a better chance of success with more of my goals.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is set a deadline and/or come up with an action plan for each goal again to try and help myself succeed.

Professional Goals

  • Continue to work for Curtis 2 mornings/week after the baby arrives (or at least 2 x 2 1/2 hour chunks of time /week)
  • Provide regular accountability for his business goals – we’re still working out whether this will be monthly or quarterly, but we are making it a priority!
  • Read Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership

Personal Goals

I’ve been told numerous times by multiple people this year that I don’t take enough time for myself. This message hit home hardest when my Mom recently asked a few pointed questions about the time I am taking for myself and came right out and said I was starving myself of personal time. It was one of those days when we’d been struggling around here and I called her after E was in bed crying because I felt like such a failure. Her kind encouragement, and gentle reminders of the things she did for herself while we were growing up were eye opening for me. She also helped me to see more clearly that if I am not refueling myself then I won’t be able to pour into my family and friends the way that I would want to. So, here we go;

  • Go away with friends 1 weekend this year
  • Loose baby weight by June 2014
  • Run 1/2 Marathon – I am registered for the Run For Water in Abbotsford BC on May 25/2014. This goal has been my Unicorn for a couple of years now so this IS happening this year.
  • Run the Round The Lake trail race in Cultus Lake in October this year (as long as it doesn’t fall on E’s B-day, then we’ll see)
  • Run a 5K charity race in December (like the Santa Shuffle)
  • Continue to Run 5-10K 2-3x/week Oct-Dec 2014 (these are the months that I get lazy!)
  • Do 1 Strength work out/week
  • Spend 1 night/month out FOR ME (I’ve already done this in January, I was at the movies with some friends this week, so we are off to a good start!)
  • Revisit goals monthly – w/ Curtis as possible
  • Make 1 post per week on this blog

Parenting Goals

I know that all parents struggle with their kids along the way, but I want to be the BEST parent that I can be to my kids. I want them to know that they are the most amazing things I’ve done EVER and that they are unconditionally loved and cherished. I want to build a relationship with them that they VALUE deeply. There are a lot of days right now that I fail with E and I want to change that. That means I need to make a concentrated effort to bring about change in this area of my life and so here are my goals:

  • Give E 1/2 hour of my undivided attention every day
  • Attend 1 parenting seminar or class on setting boundaries and effective discipline – or something of the sort. I need a few more tools in my tool box.
  • Read 2 parenting books (I am already reading “You Can’t Make Me [but I can be persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, so far it is very eye opening)
  • Work continually on responding more kindly and having more patience – these are things I often struggle with. I hear myself speak and then think “Well that wasn’t very loving”. I MUST IMPROVE THIS! I have put some gentle reminders by the kitchen sink to help me keep this in mind.

Marriage

Having an awesome marriage takes work. I have a great man, I love him dearly and don’t know how I would ever survive without him. I also think we have an awesome marriage but why not work at making it better? I certainly don’t want to wake up in 10 years and question who this person next to me is. We’ve watched too many quality marriages crumble over the last few years to be naieve enough to assume that we can just sail through without effort. Having a quality marriage is a lot of work, but I know it’s worthwhile so I want to invest in it and make sure that our marriage continues to thrive.

  • Go on 1 date/ month after March – even if it’s free (we’ve averaged about 3-4 a year since having kids so one a month would be a big step up).
  • Go away ALONE for 1 weekend by Nov 2014 (we spent our first night home alone since having E in December so again, if we can do this it’s huge for us).
  • Read 1 marriage/relationship building book that will help us grow. Right now I’m thinking of re-reading the 5 Love Languages as I found it monumentally helpful a few years back, but my book choice may change.

Financial

Family finance has been a huge thing for us over the past couple of years and it’s still extremely important. We had a number of big “set backs” in 2013 as we worked towards building an emergency fund of 6 months worth of income and so we are still working towards this goal.

  • Complete our 6 month emergency fund – hopefully by June but at the very least by the end of the year.
  • Read Rabbi Lapin’s Thou Shall Prosper – by March
  • Read Total Money Makeover in January – This is becoming an annual thing and I think it’s a great way to start the year. It reminds us of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Also, we are once again running a small group at our church based on the book starting in February.

So there you have it. This and a few more things that I have chosen not to share publicly will be what I use as my compass to guide my decisions this year. Will I accomplish all of them? No. Is my life better for trying? YES. If we strive for nothing we will hit it every time. If we strive for something then we have moved the needle regardless of whether we achieve the goal or not. Setting goals for our life last year made 2013 a stellar year. I can only anticipate that 2014 will be better. Why not try to make it the best one yet?

 

 

2013 Goals – The final installment

I thought it would be good to recap my 2013 goals before posting my 2014 goals and let you know what I accomplished in 2013.

As I may have mentioned before this is the FIRST time that my hubby and I have actually set goals for the year. Not resolutions, because they are easily forgotten, but goals that we’ve revisited often all year round to guide our decisions and help us keep our eye on the big picture.

I also took the “go big or go home” stance on goals. There were a few thrown in there that I thought I could reach easily to give me that quick feeling of success, however a lot of my goals were things that I thought would be out of reach. My theory – borrowed from Dan Miller at 48 Days to the work you love pod cast –  is that if I set the bar high, but only make it half way I’ve still significantly improved on where I was so I am still successful even if I don’t meet the goal.

Some of these I touched on in an earlier post so I won’t go into them too much, but others I just kind of left behind and I’ll fill you in on the details.

You can check out my original post on goals from last January here

1. Double my income

That didn’t happen, as mentioned in an earlier post when I decided to leave my full time job, I pretty much kissed this one goodbye. That said my Hubby managed to more than double his business’ income this year which is a score for both of us and in some ways accomplishes my goal too!

2. Pay off the car by March 1/13 – Check, one month early, got this one done in February.

3, 4, & 5. Run 10K, 1/2 marathon, & full marathon race – these all went out the window when we found out that we were expecting our second child. At that point due to minor complications in my pregnancy I had to stop running. This has been hard for me because I LOVE to run, but I’m looking forward to running again soon!

6 & 7. List & sell our current home, AND hopefully buy a new larger home with a smaller mortgage.

2013 brought with it many challenges for us on the home front and while I desperately want to sell our current home and move into a place that has more space and better accommodates our growing family for a number of reasons this did not happen in 2013, and I doubt that it will happen in 2014 either. Who knows. We’ve unfortunately run into many snags in our plan here most of which have been financial. Our current home is a town house and is part of a Strata (ie we pay a monthly condo fee and there is a condo association that takes care of the building). What a pain. My ultimate advice NEVER buy into a Strata unless you want to basically pool your money with every other owner in the building, keeping in mind that they may not all agree on how to spend those hard earned dollars.

This year there have been a number of medium to large repairs needed within our Strata which has meant that on top of our regular monthly fees we’ve paid out large lump sums to the organization a couple of times.  I anticipate at least one more such payment in 2014. I know that if we owned a house we could have had to pay the entire sum for the repairs all on our own but the likely hood of all the things that have come up this year happening to a single detached residence are slim.

On top of the additional expenses we’ve paid out to our Strata we’ve replaced the Washer, Stove, Microwave, and just this week the dishwasher, along with a large number of small household appliances (stereo, DVD player, Digital SLR Camera and numerous others) and a couple of not so minor car repairs. All of these things come down to age, most of the household items were 10+ years old (the stove we were told was 20+ and I have the same suspicion about the dishwasher). A lot of the smaller items were wedding gifts, or we purchased them second hand a number of years ago. They just all chose to go at once.

On the upside, the new appliances will make the place a lot more appealing when we go to sell, on the downside, when I sat down a couple weeks ago (before the diswasher died on New Years Eve) and added up what we’d spent on “emergency” repairs/replacements to our home, the number was fast approaching $10,000 in 2013. Needless to say the funds to sell/move/add to a down payment on the next place just aren’t there right now and I don’t know when they will be. So we’re waiting. The upside – the mortgage is cheap here!

I have to add a side note here – THANK GOD we became debt free in February of 2013! Although we haven’t been able to add much to our savings, we’ve been able to pay cash for EVERYTHING. If we’d had all these experiences in such close succession even a year ago there would have come a point where they would merely have added to our debt load rather than slowing down our plan. Whew!

8. The reading list.

Well, I really didn’t succeed here, and it is a little bit shameful. I have to say that my list was probably quite ambitious as I have only in the last year or so developed my enjoyment of reading for personal growth, and my list was very finance/business heavy so it wasn’t the most well rounded selection of books.

I managed to get through/make a good dent in 4 of the 13 books on the list. I have definitely read more that 13 books this year. Some fiction, some for personal growth, however it wasn’t as many of the ones that I initially thought I would read as I had hoped – things changed. The point here was more to help myself grow as a person than read specific books and I think that I at least succeeded in that.

All that said 2013 was an awesome year in the McHale household I have no regrets, and look forward to all that 2014 has to bring with huge anticipation. We celebrated some great milestones here and have really benefited from the changes that we’ve worked so hard to bring about in our lives over the last year. Without these goals, and those of my hubby we would still be sitting in about the same position as we were in 2012 and I LOVE living a goal driven life – it gives us a target to aim at! I have set goals again for 2014 and will hopefully be posting them next week for all to see. We’ll see how much more growth we can bring about around here.

 

Share the Journey not just the Destination

Last week I went to a “Meal to my Madness” presentation by Sandi Richard.  She talks about changing the way that families do dinner not just through menu planning but also by prioritizing the time families spend actually having dinner TOGETHER. It was a pretty neat event and as per my previous posts on Meal planning right up my alley.

Something she said along the way really struck a chord with me. She was encouraging parents (but I think this applies to people in general) to “share the journey not just the destination”. Ok, great, what exactly does she mean by that? Well she went on to say that so often people talk about their GOAL – ie, eat a “sugar free” diet, raise the perfect child, or loose 20lbs, – as if they have arrived and it was the easiest thing they’ve ever done. Ultimately if you want to get right down to it they LIE. Yes I said it in plain text and we’ve all done it so lets get down to the dirt here.

As you listen to your friend you’re left sitting there thinking but WAIT I am trying to do the same thing and I just can’t figure it out. I know it wasn’t that easy so can’t you just commiserate with me or shed some light on the situation a little here? I think we’ve all had those conversations with friends when we were seeking advice for the journey but the friend (unintentionally) makes you feel more like a failure because they talk as though they’ve arrived and it was easy. Even better they act like they have no idea why this is so hard for you. It’s like rubbing salt in a wound and it helps no one. Meanwhile they’re really thinking “how should I know I STILL don’t have it figured out.”

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

I see this a lot in the blog community families that portray themselves as being completely flawless, they eat the perfect diet, have the perfect kids, and never made any mistakes with their money. It has made me think really hard about my own position and the impression that I give as I write. Ultimately my goal is to share the Journey and if I can convince a few people to join in or help them along in their own journey then that’s awesome.

So let me tell you something (if you haven’t already figured it out from previous posts) we haven’t arrived. We’re not there yet. We have some pretty clear ideas of what the destination looks like for us right now and I’ve laid those out for all to see in some of my previous posts but when you read my posts about menu planning, eating “real” food, financial planning, parenting and fitness please know that we are not there yet. We are journeying through life together and what I want to share with you are my successes but also my failures. The last thing we need is another parenting blog toting how perfect my kid is, or fitness blog giving you “5 simple steps”.

All that said, my plea to myself but also to you is let’s be a little more honest with each other as we travel through life together. Rather than minimizing another persons struggle lets try to hold their hand. While I think it’s important to share the DESTINATION. (As in the place you hope to one day end up not the fictitious place you are trying to portray yourself as having arrived.) I also think it’s vitally important that you share the journey so that when you arrive we can celebrate with you.

 

 

INSANITY

Dec 6 the Hubby and I started the Team Beachbody 60 days of Insanity workout.  We’ve had the package for a while but it has taken us a little while to get organized and motivated to actually get going on it.  So far I’m impressed.

I’ll be honest with you, the first um, 3 days for sure, but we’ll say week for good measure were some of the most painful days I’ve experienced after working out.  The only more painful workout experience I remember is my FIRST EVER day at bootcamp two years ago after having my daughter and being minimally active for an extended period of time. Ow. Otherwise I would normally consider myself to be in fairly good shape so I was a little surprised at how long the pain lasted.  Over the summer months I was going to bootcamp two mornings a week and running pretty much all other mornings.  At my peak I was running 22km, yup 1/2 mar.  But as fall crept along I kind of let things slide and had gained a couple pounds.

I don’t have a totally accurate starting weight because we didn’t have a scale. Our snazzy high tech-electronic one got washed out in the bathroom flood this summer (that’s a whole nother story).  We picked up an el-cheapo (I’m talking bottom of the barrel, low tech $9 no electronic parts CHEAP scale) at Walmart last Monday while Christmas shopping and I was pretty skeptical of it’s readings so I started weighing myself on the mail scale at work as well.  I was astonished to find our budget one was accurate. The first day of the program I would guess that I weighed in around 130ish which is still what I would consider an acceptable weight, but a little heavier than I like.  This morning I was looking down at 120lbs on the scale, and we’ve only been at it for a week and a half!

The package we bought came with an “Elite Nutrition Guide” as well.  They recommend eating 300 calories 5 times a day and ramping it up as the workouts increase in intensity and duration.  The plan gives multiple options for each meal. I followed a similar plan in the summer when I was going to bootcamp 2x/week and running about 4x/week training for a 1/2 marathon.  I’m always surprised and impressed with how little I actually need to eat when I’m eating properly, and how much better my body performs when I eat this way as opposed to gorging myself 3 times a day. I’ve also been using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to help track my caloric intake a bit more accurately.

The goal of this whole deal was to fight the winter/Christmas bulge that we so often spend most of the spring/summer/fall trying to get rid of.  So far I would say this is working, and if I’m feeling brave when we’re done I’ll post the before and after pics, but I can’t promise that now, you’ll have to catch me on a good day later. 🙂