Bright-Line Rules

First of all, I hope you all had a great weekend and a good Father’s Day!!  I loved looking at all the pictures on Facebook and had fun celebrating all the fathers in my life.  Rich had to work until 1:00 ,but then we went out for sushi and he opened his ice cream maker!! Yum!!  Bella hung out with her dad and we both got to talk to Andrew.

Such a good day.

Today’s post is gonna be a little like talking about your uncle’s sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin’s hairdresser.  But hang in there, there is a point.

I love the blog of Darya Rose.  It is called Summer Tomato and it is a healthy foodist kind of site.  Every Friday she does a post that is full of articles that she found interesting and it is called “For the Love of Food”.  I highly recommend her site.  Anyway, on Friday June 12th she linked to an article called “Inside the Mind of a Mad Scientist: The Incredible Importance of Personal Science” by blogger James Clear. It talks about doing small experiments on yourself to discover some truths:

Personal science refers to the idea of executing small experiments on your own with the intention of discovering new ways to solve problems and get results in your life. While typical studies are conducted on a large scale and published in academic journals, personal science experiments involve a single patient (you) and are focused on delivering highly practical and useful pieces of information.

This was a very interesting article, but while reading that article it linked to another article by Clear called “How to Declutter Your Mind and Unleash Your Willpower by Using “Bright-Line” Rules”  This is the article that really caused me to think…a lot.  As you know when I think…a lot. I blog about it. So here is my take on this subject.

James Clear states:

A bright-line rule refers to a clearly defined rule or standard. It is a rule with clear interpretation and very little wiggle room. It establishes a bright line for what the rule is saying and what it is not saying

When you want to create habits in your life or break bad habits it seems to take a lot of willpower, as you may or may not know, willpower is something that we really can’t depend on for a lot of stuff. Clear promotes the idea of a bright line rule so that you don’t have to depend on willpower to achieve something.  I’ll give you an example, something that is near and dear to my heart, eating healthy.  If one of your goals is to eat healthier what exactly does that mean…it is a little vague.  OK…eat sweets in moderation…vague.  Drink alcohol in moderation…vague.  Eat good food mostly…vague.  So he promotes setting bright line rules that relate to your goals.  This way your mind doesn’t have to think about it; there is no grey area.  These rules have to be achievable and you can experiment with them. (This is how the bright line rule article tied into the personal science one).  These rules are ones you can try for a week and then reevaluate to see how they work for you.  Unlike going on that “diet” restricting your calories to 1200 and failing and then giving up all together and gaining 25 pound because your bright line rule was too general and unrealistic, and gave you no room for reflection.  James Clear states that vague promises will never lead to clear results.  He also thinks that those bright line rules should be progressive.  So, start a little broad and get more specific.  I have created some bright line rules and I’ll show you what I mean.  My broad goal was to just feel better.  So my bright line rules are to help me feel better.

  1. Get up every weekday at 5:00 am.  Very specific, not vague at all. The point of this one is to exercise.  However, I was afraid that if I put…get up every day and exercise…that would be unrealistic.  But if I make my bright line rule just to simply get up at 5:00 am more than likely I am going to exercise.  I can progressively get more specific later on to say…get up every day and exercise…but I will have had some practice at just getting up.  What is the worst thing that can happen if I try this for a week…I’ll be tired one or two days a week?…big deal.  I can reevaluate this rule if it really didn’t help me reach my goal of feeling better, but come to find out it really has.
  2. Eat at least 5 fruits or vegetables each day. Very specific, not vague at all.  This one is to promote healthier eating.  A very doable rule.  I was broad in my idea of fruits or vegetables because it is easier for me to eat fruit as they take very little prep, so I might get more specific later with the division of fruits and veggies. What is the worst thing that can happen…I have to eat an apple for dinner when I realize that I haven’t gotten my 5 in?  I have found in my personal experimentation  I do feel SO much better when I focus on fruits and veggies in my daily diet.
  3. No food between 4:00 pm and dinner. Very specific, just don’t eat between 4:00 and dinner.  I found that, especially when I am at work, I get home and head right towards the refrigerator.  I am tired, and am looking to get some food comfort.  I find that when I do snack before dinner I feel yucky and not hungry for dinner.  This rule makes that habit, in my mind, a no-no and will make me eat a good healthy dinner, which I have planned. What is the worse thing that can happen…I might be hungry for a couple of hours?  This means that I also need to plan for a good snack in the early afternoon so that doesn’t happen.  So far this rule has been awesome.
  4. No sugar at home unless it is homemade. Very specific, unless I make it I won’t eat any sugar in my house.  Too much sugar makes me feel like crap, but I like sugar…duh.  So this bright line rule forces me to cut down on my sugar intake with out saying that I can never have it.  Never having it takes willpower, this rule takes none.  If I want sugar I have to take the time to bake something, or get in my car.  I am eating less sugar and feel so much better.
  5. No food after dinner unless we are out. Very specific and leaves some room.  I feel like crap when I go to bed with a full stomach. However, the wording of this rule makes exceptions for the date night, or if the family is out for a special event.  If I am home and want something after dinner it usually is not because I am hungry, so I will put it aside and eat it the next day.   More than likely I won’t eat it the next day.  What is the worst thing that can happen…I go to bed hungry a couple of nights?  If I find that is happening in my personal experimentation I will eat a little bigger dinner, or eat dinner a little later.  So far this has been great and I have slept better.

I really can’t fail with these rules, and if I find that they are not working out for me I can change them.  I stick to the rule no matter what for a week and then reevaluate. There is no willpower involved because they are hard and fast, no grey area.  I highly recommend reading the article because he talks about so many more areas like saving money, getting away from technology, and drinking.  I hope to continue to add more of bright line rules to other areas of my life and maybe even in my classroom.  For now I am feeling better and that is my goal.

I hope you try to put into force at least one bright line rule this week and see how it makes you feel.

I also hope you have a great week!!

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Photo Friday

Clever huh??

Well, the birthday “party” was a success.  They loved the matching plates and the cold soda, so I think this is a win for me the B-Mama (bonus mama).

So…I decided that on Fridays I would share some photos.


My brother Greg’s wife Michelle is an amazing photographer.  She used to do it professionally until she realized that photographers needed to work a lot of weekends and holidays.  Go figure.  Now we get to have the exclusive rights to her expertise.  (She now works with special needs preschoolers, a whole other jewel in the crown sort of job)  Two weeks ago my mom, me, my brothers, my sisters and all of our kids rented condos on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas for a week.  My kids are the oldest and we now have a new baby Mason to love on.  Of course, all the kiddos in between were properly spoiled too.  We boated, jet skied, swam in the pool, ate, and other fun stuff, but most of all we just enjoyed being together.

I miss them.

So here are some pictures Michelle took on our last day at the lake.  Some things must be noted:

  • She forgot her tripod thingy that hooks the camera to the tripod so she magically figured out a way to make it work with a timer!!
  • I refused to wear makeup for the entire trip so I look au naturale and the diva in me is having a hard time posting these.
  • I have had trouble getting pictures to post to this blog so cross your fingers.
  • These are my most favorite people in the whole wide world.
  • I miss my dad.
  • I miss them all.

OK here they are:ry=480-2The whole gang.


My brother Greg, sister Kate, Mom, me, and my brother Ryan.


Me and my gang


Ryan’s family


Greg’s family


Kate’s family.

I looked forward to this trip all  year long and it didn’t disappoint.  I am so very blessed to have such an amazing family and hope to do it again soon.

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Getting Older

The summer, for our house, is chock full of birthdays.  Sarah starts it off today turning a whopping 17. Rich and I have birthdays in July, and Andrew and Bella are a week apart in August.  This poses a few problems, not the least being the breaking our summer bank account.

First, I have to be on my birthday game. I love love love birthdays.  I love making birthdays special and this is hard on my brain when so many are so close together.  The second issue is more a matter of the heart. I have to watch my family (and myself) get older all within a 3 month span. It is hard for me to look back and see how much the kids have changed and how amazing and independent they are becoming.  I am so proud and happy, but it is hard because I love being a mom and as each year goes by the less momming they need.

I was very excited when Sarah told us that she wanted to have some friends over this evening for her birthday.  I started looking at Pinterest to see what cool stuff I can do. I started planning my baking of her favorite red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and the menu for dinner. You can imagine my utter devastation when she informed Rich and I that she only wanted a few pizzas (and a bag of Doritos), it was only “hanging out”, and there would be no singing of happy birthday or blowing out candles. The child didn’t even want a cooler full of sodas and ice, she said they could drink the sodas warm.

Oh great why don’t we just eat off of non matching paper plates.

I wonder if I can get my deposit back on the bounce house and pony rides…

She finally agreed to a cooler full of soda (and ice) and a cake with candles and a round of Happy Birthday.

She loves me after all.

Don’t even get me started on presents.  Bella still gives me a birthday wish list, but Sarah and Andrew are at the “cash only” stage.

Sarah, today, will get some cash to spend at our afternoon at the mall, a few presents to open, a “hang out” only, and pizza and a bag of Doritos.

I will get a decorated birthday cake, cold sodas, and matching paper plates.  I will also get the privilege of spending the day with this beautiful birthday girl.

IMG_2406Considering those days are quickly coming to an end, I was happy to compromise.

OK, heart, one down…four to go.

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I Need to Pace Myself

After cleaning the house, cleaning out the front hall closet, rearranging the furniture in the loft, a trip to Costco (if you have forgotten how much I hate Costco simply click here) and Target, registering for my last class, and cooking a dang good dinner I feel that I have thoroughly scared my family.  I know the girls spent the day worrying that I would enter their room and start issuing orders (that is coming).  When Rich and I sat down to watch the NBA Finals after cleaning up the kitchen from dinner I looked at him and said that I really couldn’t just sit there and needed to keep working in the loft.  He looked at me and asked me if I wanted his help and I told him no and he said “good because I really want to watch this game”.

Bless his heart.

I did sit down long enough to see the end and I am so happy for former Arizona Wildcat Steve Kerr!!

While I was sitting there enjoying the game I realized that I really don’t need to do everything on my to do list all in one day.  I really do need to pace myself.  This past year was such a busy one that when I had a day “off” I totally went white tornado and got stuff done.  I realize now that I can go a little slower.  Those of you who know me are thinking, yeah right.

You all just watch, I am going to have some fun this break too!!  Today Bella and I are going to see Pitch Perfect 2 and I renewed my base privileges card so we are gonna have some Point Mugu beach days.


Just don’t look to closely at my extremely long “to do” list.

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Well hello there!!  It is summer and I am determined to start my regular summer blog again.


I got back from my whirlwind vacation yesterday (details to follow) and as much as I love love love vacation I also love love love being home.  So today is the first day of my regular summer break. Being a teacher I have the summer “off”. Now before you think for a second that I will be sitting on my couch eating bon bons you really don’t know me. Granted I will not be moving at the crazy pace I had been, but I now have the time to reflect on my past year and do what I need to do to make the next year even better for me and my students.  I will finish my English Learners class, cook again, clean, organize, putz, and spend time with the girls and Rich.  

Yes now there is the Amy we all know (that Bon Bon girl just doesn’t exist). 

I have a quote in my classroom that says “Only a fool trips on what is behind them”- Anonymous. I love this quote and firmly believe and promote living in the moment and putting your effort and energy towards forward motion. However, reflection is also a big part of my teaching and life philosophy.  I use reflection in my teaching as I believe when we look back we can learn so much and this effects our future choices. 

 In my personal life I have this awesome journal called A Line A Day Journal.  This journal allows me to see what went down on this day for the past five years.  Every day when I sit to write today’s thought and events I can see what was happening in the past. Everytime I do this I either smile at the memory or am so thankful for my current situation. As you can imagine looking and reflecting this past year I spent a lot of time being thankful for my current situation. 

This past year was truly like drinking from a fire hose, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that when I look back on it this year I will smile from all the all the memories.  I can’t wait to share some of them with you and other random stuff. 

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That First Step’s a Doozy

It is good to know that I am on a two posts a month pace.  Yes I do realize that I am squeaking this one in.  The good news is I am starting to figure things out and it seems like my students are slowly figuring me out.  This makes life easier on everyone.

It seems like, finally, I have seen all of my Facebook friends and friend’s kids are safely off to college.  This past weekend marked, I believe, the last of the checking into dorms pictures.  It has made me think of that day in my life both as a child and as a parent.

IMG_1879I hunted down this picture that was taken just after my parents left me in my dorm at the University of Iowa in .  My desk is the one shown, and I had the bottom bunk (the reward of being first to move in).  There was another bed on the other wall as we had three people in this dorm.

At first glance I chuckle about the “boom box” and the very old and small television.  I remember picking out the bedspread and that purse I got on my first trip to New York with my high school choir.  You can’t see it but I have my mom’s copy of The Harvard Dictionary of Music sitting on my desk just waiting to be cracked open and used.

Then I start to remember all the feelings I was feeling as I took this picture.  The biggest feeling I had was a complete sense of free fall.  I remember that moment when we had everything done and we were standing in the dorm.  All of us felt the weight on our chests because we knew it was time to part ways and neither of us wanting to.  We were trying to be brave.  My father more so as he had just heard that the frat house across the street had burned down a couple of days ago and I am pretty sure his initial instinct was to scoop me up and take me back home.  Part of me wouldn’t have minded that.  Part of me couldn’t wait to get started with the next journey if I could just get my weak knees to work.

When Andrew went to college his dad drove him, so I didn’t get the exact same experience.  However, I will never forget how I felt seeing all of his things in the car and all of us standing there with a weight on our chests because we knew it was time for him to go.   I understood my dad’s desire to scoop me up and take me home as I just wanted Andrew to go back to his room and stay there forever.

Even if your child goes off to college relatively close, that moment of leaving them in that dorm room or waving to them as they drive off is a cold turkey moment.  Nothing will be the same again.  They are gone.  Of course, they will be back, but that next journey of their life has begun and they are fully on it.

After my parents left me that day I found the strength to start that journey.  My legs started working, and I slowly took that next step, and then the next, being pushed on by the knowledge that my parents were a phone call away and the excitement of what was waiting for me around the corner.

We all have those first steps that tend to be crucial and not all are necessarily college ones.  Think about those journeys in your life and enjoy the feeling that no matter how hard they were, they were worth every step.


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Mother Budgers

So one thing I am really having to get used to with my new job is the commute.  The drive time, without traffic, is only about 20 minutes or so, without traffic being the operative phrase.

My first class at CHAMPS is 2nd period and it starts at 9:00 so I officially have to be there at 8:45.  Now if you know me you know darn well that I cannot walk into my classroom 15 minutes before class starts and be ready to go.  Plus with only 2 planning periods total I need that first one.  Four days a week I have to take Bella to school and she starts at 8:00.  I take her at about 7:10 and she sits at the library or the picnic tables and does work before class starts.  (They have students who start school at 7:00 so there are plenty of people around.)  So “without traffic” I should be to work by 7:30ish.

Yeah, not so much.

I take the 118 to the 405 and get off at Sherman Way.  The 118 is usually pretty good.  It slows down a couple of times but not too awful.  I then have to get on the 405 for 3.75 miles.

3.75 miles…that is IT.  It takes me on average about 25 minutes to go those 3.75 miles with most of that time being used to sit in the traffic that is getting off at Sherman Way.  (The other day I sat for 20 minutes to get off the exit about 1 mile)

Two things about this really get to me.  The first one being that it isn’t consistent.  Some days I can make it in 35 minutes and some days it takes me 60 minutes.  With absolutely no rhyme or reason.  This gets to me because it doesn’t make any sense.  I hate things that don’t make sense.

The second thing that really gets to me, and this gets to the core of my hatred of all traffic situations, are the budgers.

You know who I am talking about.  You get over in the lane you need to be in to exit the freeway or to prepare for construction.  It is the only lane that has any sort of traffic in it, and people  fly around me and then budge in at the front of the line.  MANY MANY people do this to me EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Who do these people think they are?  Do they think they are better than ALL the people who are in line to exit?  ALL those people who have waited a very long time for their turn to exit.

Most of us learned not to cut in line in Kindergarten. Did all these people not go to elementary school?  I can’t IMAGINE seeing a huge line for, say, the biggest new movie out and walking up to the front and just walking in front of someone at the front of the line.  Would these same people not be upset if I budged in front of them in a line?

I try to breathe deep.  I try to listen to my favorite music.  I try to repeat the phrase “this isn’t bothering me”, I try to psyche myself up for it as I get on the freeway,  I even try to find my happy place.  But the “happy place” thing never works for me, it just makes me start to cry because I am not IN my happy place but stuck in the middle of rude people hell.

I think that might just be my hell.  Rude people.  I simply cannot stand people who are rude.  There is absolutely no reason for it.

My favorite was yesterday someone budged in front of the person in front of me with a “What would Jesus do?” bumper sticker.

OK Mr. Toyota Tercel driving budger, I am certainly not an expert on Jesus’ modus operandi but I am fairly certain that he would not be a budger.

To be honest more than likely he would be more tolerant of the budgers than I am, but this is why I am not the son of God.

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