When Do You Really Need More?

When do you really need more of something: more shirts, more horsepower, more channels.

We live in a time with a dazzling array of options, but knowing what you need, versus is what is overkill, can be tricky.

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I am guilty of this.

For example, I did lots and lots of research before buying an elliptical machine for our home gym. Lots. I compared consumer ratings, what Consumer Reports said, and overall customer satisfaction. I finally decided on one after six months of research. And, I way overbought. I will never use a tiny fraction of all the things the model I bought can do. On the plus side, that means it’s been quite reliable as I haven’t really taxed it.

This same thing came up when we decided a few years back to start drinking smoothies for breakfast. It got us a bunch of good nutrients first thing in the morning, they can be made quickly, and they’re easy to get down when your stomach is feeling rebellious. Neither my husband nor I am much of breakfast people as our stomachs really aren’t interested in food right away in the morning, but we can both consume a smoothie without or stomachs protesting too much.

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Triple Berry Smoothie. One of our favorites!

 

After about four or five months of smoothies for breakfast, our blender died. We went to the store and bought another. It was a good little blender, but it didn’t really get the smoothies to the consistency both of us liked. Especially if we tried to sneak something like spinach into them.

I started researching. Our $50 Oster was a very good model at that price point, but if you wanted a truly smooth smoothie, you were looking at quite a bit more. I mean a lot more

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Yeah, about like that.

As part of my research, I asked a woman where I work what she uses. She even makes green smoothies, and they are always smooth.

She told me to buy a Vitamix and I wouldn’t regret it. She said she drinks a smoothie every day, she’s had hers for eight years, and it’s still going strong. Best of all, it makes smooth smoothies. She then tells me a story about how she warned her sister not to buy a lower cost model as she’ll regret it. Her sister didn’t listen, and she regrets it as she can’t justify letting go of her two-hundred dollar blender to get the Vitamix now.

And, no, Vitamix isn’t paying me to say any of this.

Armed with my research and testimonial, I scoured the web to find the best price on it. Finally, I bought one.

I’ve never regretted it. We’ve had ours for almost three years now, and we use it almost every morning. Even on weekends. It does an amazing job, chomps through ice and frozen fruit with no problem, and makes a smooth smoothie. It was worth what we paid for it, especially as we expect to have it for many more years to come.

 

How about you? Ever over-bought on something and regretted it? Ever under-bought and regretted it? Do you research the heck out of a decision before making it? Or do you rely on your gut for this?

It'll Be Fun, They Said

Ah, the family vacation. We didn’t take these much as kids as our family simply couldn’t afford it. Family vacations in my childhood primarily consisted of me being sent off with grandparents so our parents could get some time away.

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DH and I didn’t take too many vacations when our first child was small, partially because of the restrictions I was on as we tried to have a second.

Now that both children are older, we thought it would be fun to try a quick three-day vacation. We all were excited, and I had high-hopes.

I’d done my research, having both searched the internet and talked to lots of other people as to where a good place would be to go with a toddler and pre-schooler in the winter. I wanted to be close enough to home we could come back if we needed to, but far enough away that we’d test out the over-night thing.

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After selecting where we were going, then came all of the planning. Making sure we had snacks in the car and in the room. Enough  drinks. Enough clothes to get us through. Toiletries. Entertainment for in the car.  I felt like I was planning a military assault. Perhaps that should have been a clue.

And yes, the vacation was as horrible as some of you are imagining

They had all kinds of up-charges for different things to add to your room, but none of them including giving you a “toddler proof” room. You forget what it means for your toddler to have access to every cord, every cable, and every outlet in a typical hotel room. There are no toddler gates barring off stairs, no toddler locks on doors.

There is no safe place in the room where she can play for ten minutes while you catch your breath. And if you try to make a play area anyway, there were will be tissues scattered across the carpet and you’ll find yourself sprinting across to room to stop her just as she attempts to figure out how to unplug the lamp.

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Vacation also meant being subjected to kids out of their comfort zone. Out of their comfort zone and over-tired, cranky and irritable. Everyone’s favorite kind of child!

The biggest issue to my having fun of any sort was my expectations. I went into the long weekend wanting a vacation. Time to relax, unwind, and recharge. This was anything but that.

They were kids at a water park. They needed constant supervision. I knew that going into it, but what I didn’t understand was how much work this was with none of the fun.

See, my oldest child is big enough to do a lot of stuff at a water park. I figured DH and I would switch-off going on the slides and rides with the oldest, and then spending time in the toddler zone with the little one.

What I didn’t anticipate was that my oldest child would want to do nothing but play in the baby area with her sister. No water slides, no fun rides. We literally spent hours in water up to our ankles. Our knees when the oldest finally got a little braver.

Yeah, fabulous way to spend our time at the water park.

Our issues were compounded by DD1 being an early riser. She’s up at 6am and ready to go. The park doesn’t open until 9am. This means her having to wait and me having to listen to her ask “if it’s time to go yet” for three hours. By the time we got the water park, I was ready to leave.

Let’s also remember that I’m an introvert.  Being stuck in a huge crowd of people I don’t know, wearing only a swimsuit, is already not my idea of fun. I thought this was going to be tempered with the excitement of water slides. I was wrong.

But it did teach me some valuable lessons. One of them is that we’re just not ready for a family vacation yet. None of us.

I work full time and so does DH. If we’re going to do a vacation, it has to be a vacation for the whole family. Something we’re all going to enjoy.

I know DD1 had a blast. She will be talking about it for weeks.

I’m just glad to be home, book in hand, and iPad waiting.

 

How about you? Did you go on family vacations as a child? Did you like them? Do you go on family vacations now? How are they?  Where did/do you go on vacation? A favorite place come to mind? Something you really loved?

Top 4 Reasons Why We Think We Procrastinate (and the 3 Reasons Why We Really Do)

 

As I’ve been writing this past week, I’ve discovered myself spending way too much time poking around social media, writing future blog posts, and just generally looking for excuses not to use my writing time to write.

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This is odd for me. I am not a procrastinator by nature. As a matter-of-fact, I surprised more than one professor by turning in term papers weeks early. So, why am I procrastinating now?

As part of my procrastination, I decided to investigate and share with you.

 

4 Reasons I’ve Heard for Why I Procrastinate

1. Overconfidence – Maybe for some people. Possibly. But I’m not confident in my ability to put a solid ending on my current work-in-progress. I’m not oblivious to this fact, as here I am, admitting it to you! Do I think I can do it? With enough work, yes. So why am I procrastinating rather than putting in the work?

2. Lazy – Lazy is not an adjective I’ve ever applied to myself. Writing is a hobby, yes, but I’ve already managed to plunk down 55,000 words in 6 weeks while working a full-time job, dealing with 2 children’s birthday parties, Halloween, blogging, etc. So no, not lazy.

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3. Not Believing the Task is Important – This definitely doesn’t apply. I feel like the endings are very important. I may struggle with them, but I want the reader to feel like the build-up was worth it and the ending sufficiently epic. I want a mental fist pump at the end. I want my reader to have that happy grin when you’ve come to the end of a particularly good romance novel.

4. Not Knowing Where to Begin – Well, maybe this is the case. I’m a Panster when I write, so I don’t have the whole thing plotted out (which is very odd for me, but I’ve found it necessary if I want to keep my creativity engaged). I need to continue the story from where it is and get to it the end. Not sure the final product will be spectacular. Okay, pretty sure it won’t be, but that’s normal. That’s what editing and revisions are all about.

 

 

3 Reasons Science Says is Why I Procrastinate

You can take a look here and here if you’d like, but the gist of the articles is:

1. Avoidance Behavior – If you dread the task ahead of you, you may avoid doing it in the short-term. You know, procrastinate. This can cause a vicious cycle, but it does play into #3 below in that it gives a temporary feel-good emotion while you’re doing something other than what you dread. But I don’t really dread writing the ending. It’s a bit more difficult to write, sure, and I’ll be a little sad when the story ends. But I learned a long time ago that there’s another story in my head, so this isn’t the end.

2. Lack of Motivation – People are known to procrastinate when there’s very little motivation to do a hard task.  Now, we’re getting closer. Even if I complete writing the ending of my story, I have yet to start the long and difficult process of revisions. Furthermore, I have no leads on getting it agented and published so that I can get it to readers. So, yeah, motivation might be a little bit lacking. Yes, I want to finish the book. Yes, it’s important to me, but the real issue is when you combine this with the next point.

3. Present Emotions vs Future Emotions – There’s a very real emotional punch you get when you accomplish something. While finishing the book will be accomplishing something, any benefits are in the far distant future. If there are benefits.

Replacing my computer however… My computer has been acting up for almost a year now. It finally hit the wall with me when a “glitch” cost me 3,000 words or a full weekend’s worth of writing. So, I’m actively pricing out new computers, looking at their specs, etc. I will certainly purchase a new computer before I get anything published.

This feels more like I am getting something done, and I will certainly reap the benefits sooner. Just like the little laugh I get reading stuff on Twitter or Facebook. Instant and immediate gratification, versus one day, maybe, selling a book and getting it into the hands of readers who may or may not like it . . . .When I put it that way, it does make me wonder about the sanity of writers!

 

How about you? Do you procrastinate? What do you procrastinate doing? What’s your fix for it?

Google

If I ever get a call from the FBI, not sure I’d be entirely surprised. Over the course of the last 13 weeks, I have Googled some pretty interesting things:

  • Stab wounds – severity, and length of time to heal (I also learned that it is actually pretty hard to stab someone to death. Doable, but not for the amateur).
  • Gus shot wounds
  • Arrow wounds
  • Chest wounds- which led to
  • Sucking chest wounds and how to treat them differently
  • Effects of blood loss
  • Aortic regurgitation
  • How long germs live outside the body
  • How fast a bear runs
  • Vampire castles
  • Middle Ages city planning
  • Planting seasons

Interesting as I mostly write Romantic Fiction.

I find a learn a lot on these Google missions, and sometimes, I spend far more time delving into the details than I ought. I lie to myself and say it makes the story better.

It doesn’t, because really, how many people know or care that a Grizzly bear can sprint 50 yards in 3 seconds (which is 40 MPH) and a polar bear can lope along at 25 MPH? No one, but hey, I learned why they say to play dead with a bear because there is no way my desk jockey legs are going to outrun them.