During April 2018 I will be blogging about my memories as MOM OF 6 from A to Z . These challenge posts will also be found at Creation and Compassion http://marcyhowes.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


In the past, Santa has often slipped new toothbrushes into our Christmas stockings along with all of the Christmas goodies.  This year he  was a bit negligent and did not include toothbrushes with his loot.  My toothbrush was getting pretty ratty   old and worn out, so when I saw a package of 6 toothbrushes for about $1.50 last week, I jumped on it.  I now have a new toothbrush, and there are still a few extras left in the closet for whoever needs a new one or forgets to bring one with them.  I probably should have bought several packages, but oh well.  Maybe next time.

Aren't we glad that we have toothbrushes and toothpaste and mouthwash?  That we don't need to rely on an old twig, a rag, or a pocketknife for keeping our teeth clean?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Shovels and Clean Air

Finally the weather has warmed up a bit!  Last week it was warm enough that I was finally able to scrape the last of the now slushy icy packed snow from the driveway for the first time all month!  We did get some icy rain, but most days it dried up enough that we have been free from the slipperyness.  Unfortunately several of our acquaintances have slipped and fallen in the past several days and now are laid up with painful broken bones.  We pray for their comfort and speedy recoveries. 

Last night another snowstorm came through and left us with a good 6 or 8 inches again, so I spent some significant time this morning shoveling again, and when I returned home from work I was rewarded once again with an ice-free driveway and sidewalk.  Thank you for some blue skies and sunshine!  The smog is gone!  We have clean air again!  Here at home in the valley!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clean Air

One of the biggest problems during the winter here where I live is the air quality.  In between winter storms, the low air pressure traps all of the smoke, car exhaust, and pollution down here in the mountain basin.  The day immediately following a big snow storm may be bright and beautiful, but within a few days we are all wallowing around in a big balloon of smog and gunky air.  It definitely is not healthy.  The picture above was taken earlier this week as DD4 and I were taking advantage of our Martin Luther King Day holiday from work and school.  We drove the 40 miles or so from the city to the small mountain valley where I grew up.  The picture above shows the smog that is lingering near the hills to the east.   The picture below shows the terrible conditions this evening as I was driving through the rush hour traffic.  The air is so much thicker with gunk than it was on Monday, and we thought it was bad then.  The weather forecast today mentioned that it may still be several weeks before we get a storm strong enough to blow this awful air out of the valley.  I do hope it won't be too terribly long.  Not only is it physically unhealthy to live and breathe this air night and day, but it is also emotionally unhealthy and depressing.

So where are the blessings?  Right now the blessing of clean, fresh air is unquestionably up in the mountains.  The picture below shows the crisp cleanness of the valley where I grew up and where we were able to visit for a few hours on Monday.  I believe that the blessing of relatively good health, strength, and longevity of my parents and aunts and uncles can be attributed to their being able to live out their lives in such a clean and healthy environment.  I'm thankful that I grew up breathing this clean fresh air.  I don't really miss the colder temperatures, longer winters, and shorter growing season, but I do miss the clean air, clear skies, and unfiltered sunshine!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Clean and Empty Kitchen Sink

I am by no means a spotless housekeeper, but this morning I woke up to a clean and empty kitchen sink, and it just felt so nice! 

My mother has never had a dishwasher, so all the years growing up, we washed the dishes by hand.  Granted, she washed the dishes more than anyone else, but we each had our turn.  With six kids in the family and a Dad who often had church meetings late into the night, I do remember going to bed some nights when there were still dirty dishes in the sink and on the kitchen counter, but I never once remember getting up in the morning to dirty dishes in the sink.  I'm very grateful to my Mother for all of her hard work, efforts, and great example.  I can't say that I've always followed the example very well.  Even with a wonderful dishwasher (that is not operational at this moment in time, btw,) there have been many, many nights that I have left dirty dishes in the sink and on the counters.  Last night it was almost 11 pm by the time DH and DD1 returned home from their respective jobs.  Of course we fed them, and put the dirty dishes in the sink.  However, after family prayers, instead of ignoring the dishes and going to bed, I spent a few minutes and cleaned them all up, even the pots and pans, and then wiped out the kitchen sink! 

Flylady would be so proud of me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paychecks and Isaiah

No, I'm not going to try and relate paychecks and Isaiah.  They are two separate subjects.   Sorry if you had your hopes up.  :) 

Yesterday was payday, and even though the paycheck isn't as large as I would like it to be (is it ever?), I must admit that I am grateful that I was able to pay tithing and all of the utility bills and still have money left over.  I know that we are blessed, much more than many who have lived on this earth.  We have a comfortable home, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.  We have electricity for lights and cooking and computers and TV and hair dryers and hair straighteners and many other conveniences.  We have phone service and hot and cold running water.  We live like royalty!

As for Isaiah:  This morning I read the last few chapters of 1 Nephi, and I can honestly say that I was comforted by the words of Isaiah.  And it surprised me a bit.  Of course the very last chapter of 1 Nephi was the most comforting of all, and that was not actually an Isaiah chapter, but rather Nephi's explanations of Isaiah to his brothers, instructing them and us about what to expect in the last days.  I especially like these verses:

 25 And he agathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his bsheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find cpasture.
 26 And because of the arighteousness of his people, bSatan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of cmany years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel dreigneth.

1 Nephi  22:25,26

Now is that not something to look forward to?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Apples and Oranges and Bananas

One of the things that is pretty scarce during the winter months is fresh fruit.  What a blessing to live in a time when resh fruits can be fairly quickly transported from all parts of the globe and stored in conditions that help them to maintain their freshness.    This time of year we can enjoy our daily oranges and bananas and apples  . . . . and even maybe some berries??

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Comfort in Failures

One of my favorite things about my current church calling is that I have the chance to attend all of the Ward Conferences in the stake and listen to all of the ward Bishops speak.  I also have the opportunity to listen to our Stake President speak at each of these ward conferences.  He is an excellent speaker, and I come away with some new goal or new perspective about the gospel every time he speaks.  Today the topic of his talk was the responsiblities and priviledges of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ.  Towards the end of the talk he referred us to D&C 117 where revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to Oliver Granger, who had been assigned the difficult job of returning to Kirtland Ohio where the Saints had been driven out from their lands and their properties in an attempt to sell the property and receive some compensation for the Saints.  Needless to say, this assignment was an almost impossible task. 

12 And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.
 13 Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord.
 14 Therefore, let him come up hither speedily, unto the land of Zion; and in the due time he shall be made a merchant unto my name, saith the Lord, for the benefit of my people.
 15 Therefore let no man despise my servant Oliver Granger, but let the blessings of my people be on him forever and ever.

D&C 117:12-15

 Notice that even the Lord knew that Oliver Granger would fail in his attempts.  Yet, his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, and blessings shall be on him forever and ever.    Why is Oliver Granger remembered forever and blessed forever?  Because he was willing to do what he was asked.  Because he did his best to do what he was asked.  Not because he succeeded in what he was asked, but because he sacrificed, he tried, and he did his best. 

So, why does the Lord allow us to fail?  Often it is so that we can learn from our mistakes and choices.   Maybe it is so we can learn empathy for others in similar situations.  Sometimes it may be that the success of our efforts also depends on the choices and free agency exercised by others.   Sometimes we just may never know.

I've received many callings in my lifetime so far.  I've felt prepared for some, and not so prepared for others.  I've also put forth varying amounts of effort at different times and in different callings.  Some I feel like I did well; that I was able to do good things.  Several years ago I had a calling where I struggled.  I struggled a lot.  But I also tried my very hardest and put forth my very best efforts almost every single day in an effort to fulfill my calling.  When I was released from the calling, I knew that I had done some good things, but overall I felt that I had in many ways been a failure, and now, several years later, it still hurts me to remember.   These verses in the talk today have been a comfort to me.  I know that I probably could have done better in many ways in that former calling, but maybe, just maybe, in some instances, no one else could have done any better? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Waking Up

How do you like to wake up?  My choice of waking up would be to the sound of birds chirping outside the bedroom window, with warm sunshine and a gentle sweet smelling breeze wafting in past lacy curtains.  To the smell of bacon and toast or muffins cooking in the other room.  To the gentle kiss and hug from my DH.  To the sound of happy voices and laughter. 

Alas, usually I awake to the beeping of the alarm, in the dark, across the cold bedroom.  Sometimes I'll wake up before the alarm, but especially this time of year it is always still dark.  I don't enjoy waking up and getting up in the cold and the dark, but sometimes we just need to do it anyway.  Not every day can be a bright, warm, sunshiny day.  Sleep is good and sleep is necessary, but so is getting up and getting on with doing the good things that are expected of us each and every day. 

I was thinking this morning about this verse penned by the prophet Nephi:

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.    2 Nephi 4:28

Just like our bodies need to wake up every day and get to the work of the day, we regularly need to also awaken our spirits and urge them on to do the good that needs to be done.  Have I paid attention to my spirit lately?  Is it awake and active?  Or am I allowing it to sleep, or vegetate, or even to droop in sin?  Wake up spirit!  Let me feed you!  Let me give you some exercise!  Let's get to work!  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Journals and Blogs

In Elder Eyring's talk from the October 2007 General Conference, O Remember, Remember he urged us to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness.  That talk was actually the inspiration for me to begin this blog, or at least to know what the focus of this blog should be.  In his talk, Elder Eyring spoke of keeping a journal where each day he would  record for his children to read, someday in the future, how he had seen the hand of God blessing his family. 

Other church leaders have also given us this counsel often.  My own father is a wonderful example of journal writing, and just this past week sent this own message to his family: "Write down something you are thankful for each day.  You will be surprised at the end of the year." 

So, for the past five years, I have known that this is what I need to be doing too.  However, my handwritten journal entries have become very sparse.  I used to write regularly, especially during the years that I was attending college and serving as a missionary.  I even wrote much more often as a young mother than I do now.  I checked last week, and it has been over a year since I have written in my current little journal book.  But I have been writing emails regularly to my children; weekly back when my boys were missionaries, but not quite so frequently now.  I do try to write a least several times a month.  The emails are all saved and stored in my email account, but perhaps I do need to work at printing them out into a book.  These have really been my journal for the past nine years, but this blog, Random Thoughts and Tender Mercies, is my gratitude journal.  Hopefully here I can record the good things about my life and recognize and remember God's kindness to me and my loved ones.   

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Classical Music Stations

My car isn't the newest model on the block, and thus I am fairly limited to the music I can listen to while performing my Mom's Taxi duties.  I don't own an ipod and the car has no fancy radio stations.  It doesn't even have a CD player.  It does have a cassette player, but I don't have much music on cassette tapes. (Our cassettes are mostly old Joy School  and Primary Songs and kids books on tape).  I wouldn't have room in the car to store many music cassettes even if I did have them.  So, if I want to listen to something in the car, I must resort to the radio. 

When I had my choice, (I have often been at the mercy of my dear children's radio preferrences . . . not totally since I could have put my foot down . . . but then it was usually needed to operate the gas and brake pedals, but I digress)  I used to listen to our local news station almost exclusively, but it finally got to the point that I could not handle listening to the news all of the time, so there are times when I go for weeks without listening to the news.  At all. 

During the Christmas season I am blessed that many radio stations play Christmas music continually, which I usually love.  (there are a few songs that I will turn off after hearing them for the umpteenth time . . .)  But now Christmas is over, and there isn't even a decent oldies music station around any longer.    I sometimes am in the mood for country, but prefer the older type country music to most of what is played today.  So, most of the time my choice of music in the car is classical. I especially enjoy classical piano and other string performances.  The other night as I was driving in the cold and dark I was especially pleased to listen to renditions from Brahms Lullaby and Peter and the Wolf!  How wonderful is that!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hot Drinks

Yes, it has been a mite chilly the past week or two, with people's pipes freezing and car batteries failing and the snow not melting off of our ice crusted sidewalks and driveways.   This time of year I am especially grateful for hot drinks.  Of course there are certain hot drinks that I do not partake of, specifically the drinks referred to in the Word of Wisdom (my Church's revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89).  Our Church leaders teach that “hot drinks” refer specifically to tea and coffee.) 

However, I'm usually not one to turn down a good cup of hot cocoa or cider or wassail. (I don't especially enjoy herbal tea . . . just gotta have my carbs!) One year for Christmas our family received two different hot cocoa makers (one for my DH and one for DS1).  We had a little competition to decide which cocoa maker was the "best" and DS1 had first choice as to which cocoa maker he kept for himself.  Sometimes we have fancy gourmet cocoa mixes, and other times we make our own mixes with real cocoa and sugar, or use the Mexican chocolate that is now readily available.  This year we have mostly relied on a generic brand cocoa mix, but I'm not complaining.  It works fine for me!  I don't even need to use the cocoa maker since we have a wonderfully convenient microwave to warm up my cup of water or milk.  I especially enjoy a cup of hot cocoa to warm the tummy before heading off to bed.

In the mornings I prefer a more fruity hot drink.  We had the blessing this year of having a dear niece stay with us for a few days over the New Year's weekend.  We didn't see a whole lot of her since she was spending most of her time with other friends and relatives, but she did leave us with the gift of a jug of fresh pressed apple cider.  ♥♥♥ It was wonderful cold, but I really enjoyed it mixed with a bit of orange juice and warmed up in the microwave as a jump start to a cold and dark winter morning.  With or without added cinnamon and spices, it really hits the spot.   Alas, the fresh cider is now gone, but I do have some cans of powdered cider mix in the cupboard that I can add to my orange juice to create a nice warm breakfast drink.  Some years I have even mixed orange Tang powdered breakfast drink with powdered cider mix to make a wassail mix.  It definitely isn't as good as a drink made with fresh juices, but it still brightens up my mornings. 

So, here's hoping that we all can be blessed with access to wonderful hot drinks to warm up this cold and dark January and bolster our faith that spring truly will come again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feeding the Missionaries

On Sunday we had the privilege of preparing dinner for the full time missionaries who are assigned to our ward.  At one time several years ago we invited them over regularly about every six weeks, shortly after there were transfers or changes.  DH was then the High Council Member over missionary work, and liked to meet the new Elders as soon as possible.  Since then DH has started working evenings and his High Council responsibilities were changed, so we haven't fed the missionaries in quite a while. 

Yes, it is usually a bit of work getting ready for the missionaries to come to dinner, just as it is for any company.  Theoretically, it should not be any extra work, but of course I do want the house to be somewhat presentable, the piles of stuff on dining room table need to be cleared off and put away, and I usually want to serve more than the Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese that we had for dinner last night.  So Saturday evening after a morning trip to DD4's Art Portfolio review an hour away and an afternoon of shoveling snow  (I'm grateful for snow shovels!), I reluctantly tucked away most of Christmas.  I've been doing a bit at a time, but now the Christmas tree is stored in the garage and most of the decorations are now in their tubs down in the basement.  We did leave out the Christmas Village and a few various snowmen that will be tucked into the cedar chest before Valentine’s Day. 

Anyway, finally Sunday evening we were able to sit down to dinner with the two Elders who had walked to our home in the below freezing temperatures and the darkening skies.   We fed them chicken, potatoes, veggies, salad, rolls and chocolate chip cookies and milk.  They were very appreciative.  We also talked about our stake, the missionary work here and the baptisms they have coming up this week. We also talked a bit about DH and my own missionary experiences before sending them back out into the cold and dark to get to their evening appointment.  It was good.  It was worth the effort.  We like feeding the missionaries. 

Friday, January 11, 2013


Snowy days like today make me very happy to have my slippers, and since the college where I work is closed due to the weather, I can wear my slippers as I putter around the house enjoying my unexpected day off from work.  I believe that it was DD3 who gifted me this particular pair of slippers for Christmas several years ago, and even though they are getting a bit worn and shabby, they are still the most comfortable slippers I have every owned.  They have a nice durable rubber sole and a quilted water-resistant upper, with just enough padding and fur lining to make them very comfortable.   I actually thought about trying to find similar slippers to give to everyone in the family for Christmas, but decided to give more individual gifts instead.  Last time I gave slippers for Christmas gifts they were from the drug store.  They were warm and fuzzy, but not nearly as durable nor as comfortable as my wonderful slippers. 

Maybe next year?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Putting Away Christmas Party

Recently Undecorated Christmas Tree

I know that most people have Christmas all cleaned up and put away by now, but then, I'm not most people.  One or two years I have managed to take down the tree on New Year's Day, or possibly some day in the week beforehand, but I normally wait until after New Year's and then gradually put things away.  After all, I rarely get everything put up in one or two days either.  One year when I had a house full of little children, the tree stayed up until almost April.  When my landlady stopped in for an unannounced visit, I was finally shamed into getting it all put away.

This year I started putting a few things away right after New Years, but this past Saturday was the designated day for taking down the tree.  I spent the morning on the computer and the afternoon running a few errands, then after bringing home some Wendy's hamburgers for a late lunch/supper, we pulled out the soda and cheese and crackers and leftover spinach dip, put Anne of Green Gables into the DVD player, and had a Putting Away Christmas Party.  I did get all of the ornaments and garlands put away, but unfortunately I was either more tired than I had realized or the movie was more entertaining than I remembered, and the empty tree is still standing in the living room.  Tonight's job is to get the tree down and put away, and all of the Nativity sets too!  Thank goodness we still have crackers and dip!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Divine Inspiration through Prayer  or Daily Inspiration through Prayer

This past week our Relief Society had an evening activity that they called D.I.P.  The Bishop shared some thoughts and stories about how different people in his family, social circle, and our ward have recently received Divine help and inspiration through prayer.  Afterwards everyone was invited to share their own experiences of times when they have received inspiration or help from prayer. 

Even though I didn't care to share anything that night, I do proclaim to the world right now that I know that I receive daily help and guidance and protection and inspiration through prayer.  Prayer is one of the greatest blessings we have been given.  I recently posted about a few of the many little miracles that have blessed our family this past Christmas. 

After everyone who wanted to had shared their thoughts, we loaded up on chips and crackers and veggies and dips that everyone had brought to share.  I whipped up a recipe for Fresh Spinach Dip that I had recently come across at  Six Sister's Stuff.   I did revise the recipe a bit as follows so I didn't need to go out and buy anything.  Unfortunately, there were so many other dips and goodies there that not much of my spinach dip was eaten, but I really liked it if I do say so myself.  Today I resolve to go out and buy a big box of crackers so we can enjoy the remainder of my Fresh Spinach Dip.  Hope you all can enjoy plenty of Divine Inspiration through Prayer, and any other DIP of your own choosing in the coming days and weeks!

Fresh Spinach Dip
1 cup sour cream
8 oz Neufchatel Cream Cheese
10 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried and stems removed  (I may have used more--I had a 40 oz bag)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients together in food processor, adding spinach very last.  (You may need to add spinach in small batches, processing after each batch so it will all fit.)  Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Great with vegetables, chips, or crackers.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Paying Bills and Counting Blessings

At one time I could count on a paycheck on a weekly basis.  This was very convenient for me.  Now I can count on a paycheck only twice a month.  This has been hard for me to adjust to, but I have realized, I now only need to pay bills twice a month!  Yea!  Less worry time, less stress.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Will Go, I Will Do!

Just a quick note before moving onto my thoughts for today.  Earlier I wrote some thoughts about funerals, and then yesterday read this blog post by Middle-aged Mormon Man.   His mother-in-law recently passed away, and as he was sharing some thoughts on grieving he commented on these verses from the Doctrine and Covenants:

Thou shalt live together in love,
insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die,
and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.

And it shall come to pass that those that die in me
shall not taste of death,for it shall be sweet unto them;
(D&C 42:45-46)
His main point was that we are commanded to love one another, and that we are also commanded to weep and grieve for those that we love when we die.  Even though we receive comfort from our knowledge of the gospel and the plan of salvation, weeping and grieving are important.  I recommend his blog and particularly this post to you all.

* * * * * * *

Now, back to our regularly scheduled message:  As one of my Goals for this new year, I have promised myself that I will again read The Book of Mormon.  Today I was reading the third chapter of 1 Nephi, a widely read and remembered verse:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father:  I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shapp prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.   (1 Nephi 3:7)

  Just a little reminder for today that we can do hard things!  We can get out of bed in the dark, cold mornings and drive to school or church!  We can give a tlak or teach a lesson!  We can get all of the Christmas Decorations put away before February!  We can read a chapter from The Book of Mormon every day!  We can keep the dishes washed and the laundry done!  We can smile and talk pleasantly to people when we'd rather stay home in bed with a book all day!  We can save a few $$ every pay check! We can keep from eating all of the cookies!  We can go for a walk or ride a bike!  Yes, the Lord knows us, and he knows what we can do.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Clean Slate

New Year's Day 2013.  A Clean Slate.

I'm not one to beat myself up about not living up to New Year's Resolutions, but I do like the idea of a new clean slate each January.  Last January (It was actually January 7, 2012) I posted about My Theme (Resolutions) for 2012 on my Creation and Compassion blog.  I set this quote by Robert Fulgum as my theme for 2012:

"Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life —
learn some and think some and draw and
paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some."
— Robert Fulghum ("All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten")

So, my main focus this past year has been to be a bit more creative and live a bit more of a balanced life.  I planned to do more learning and reading and thinking and drawing and painting, and singing, and dancing and playing, and maybe even some sewing and quilting

 Have I succeeded?    Well, I didn't ever find the paint by number kit that I wanted to do.  Maybe I can still find that this year.  I did find a drawing kit that I want to try.  I may also try my hand at a portrait.  DD4 has done some amazing art work this year, and can maybe give me some pointers?   I did manage to do a lot of reading.  I set a goal of reading at least 70 books during 2012, and I have record of completing 74.   Most of this reading was for relaxation and pleasure.  During the coming year I would like to do some more serious reading.  I will still read for relaxation and pleasure, of course.  I can't imagine my life without that.  However I'm working on a list of books that I have thought about, or begun in the past but never finished.  I do know that the list will include The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and To The Rescue, The Biography of Thomas S. Monson.  More to come on that.   I did very little sewing or quilting this past year.  I have two quilts that I have begun in the past few years that I plan to complete this year, as well as several other sewing and crocheting projects.  Stay tuned to see my progress on those.  

I also had the goal to do finish re-writing a story that I have been working on for several years.  I still haven't finished the rewrite, but I did manage to add 67,842 words to it this year.  I plan to continue dedicating at least an hour each morning Monday through Saturday to work on writing.  In looking back over my blog, I see that I actually have done more blogging than I had remembered also.  I will try to document my creative efforts on my Creation and Compassion blog on a regular basis, but just like last year, my main blogging efforts will be here where I will continue to try to document my daily blessings.   And new to the list this year?  I plan to lose some weight.  This never used to even be a passing thought for me at the start of a new year, but in the past 20 years or so, the 2 or 3 or 5 pounds has added on each year.  I would love to shed a good 25 pounds, but will be happy if 2014 sees me at least 10 pounds lighter.  I am not a fan at all of strict weight loss diets.  I have always tried to eat a healthy, well balanced diet, but I do plan to do better at avoiding desserts, eating more veggies, and doing some daily walking and or biking.    So there you have it, my goals for the year 2013.