My 2017 Book Challenge

If you’ve been following my blog for a bit you know I love books.

I’m excited to share my personal book reading goal for 2017 and I’d love for you to join in or at least be inspired to read more than you did last yer.

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It’s hard to find time to read these days. Starting a book club and meeting monthly has really helped me make reading one of my priorities. You can read about why book club is just about my favorite thing here and how to start a book club of your own here.

I was reading at least one a book a month since I started a book club four years ago. Last year was the first time I actually set a concrete goal for myself. My goal was to read 24 books in 2016. 2 books per month. For some, that may not seem like a lot. With all the other things that fill my plate, though, this was going to stretch me a bit.

I almost made it! I read 23 books. Now, I don’t want to set the same exact goal. I want to stretch myself just a tad further.

My Reading Goad for 2017 is to read 30 Books.

That comes out to 2 1/2 books per month. I’ve got two books under my belt and working on number three.

There are certain books I have on my wish list that I really want to read this year. But I’m so excited to see which great books I stumble upon along the way.

Here’s a few of my must reads this year:

*Finish the Harry Potter series. I’ve read the first 3 and have 4 more to read. (The last 4 are quite long, by the way!)

*I have a few books I want to reread. At the top of my list is a book I read long ago and is one of my all-time favorites, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

*I also want to read more classics. 20,00 Leagues Under The Sea and Fahrenheit 451.

*I want to read a biography.

*There are about 50 books on my Amazon wishlist as well!

Too Many Books, Not Enough Time!

(Can I get that made into a T-shirt??)

What are your reading goals? Do you have suggestions on what I should read? How about a biography suggestion? I’d love for you share in the comments.

Happy Reading!

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2017, What Changes Will You Bring?

It’s January 1st and the day is just about done. The lights are glowing on our tree with their perfect Christmas glow as only Christmas lights can do. The soft, yellow lights from my Christmas village remind me of how much I love this time of year.

Tomorrow, the decorations come down and the house will feel really empty.

I do love a new year, though. I love to declutter and start again. I love the hope of starting new and doing better. I like to set goals and make big plans. But, honestly, I get a little sad at the start of each new year, too. Excited and sad. It really is a mixed bag!

A new year means my kids get a little older. This is always really hard for me. It also means that I get a little OLDER. I tend to fight change. I usually like things the way they are.

Change is bound to happen, though. God has been teaching me a lot about embracing change lately.

I wasn’t even planning on doing a New Year’s post. One of my goals for this year is to write more and to write regularly. Not necessarily post more on the blog; but write more. I’ve been missing the joy of writing just to write. I’ve been wanting to write without feeling any pressure (which comes only from me) to make it a finished product.

But, today my husband posted something on face book and I knew immediately that I needed to do a New Year’s post. He wrote that New Years is always special for us because we got engaged on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1999/2000 and at midnight on New Year’s Even 2010/2011, I found out I was pregnant with Henry.

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Yes, I always remember that we got engaged on New Year’s Eve; but I hadn’t realized that 2 of my biggest life changes ever happened on New Year’s Eve.

Those events forever changed my life for the good.

Change, whether wanted or not, is important. While it can be wonderful and wanted; it can also be painful and unexpected. But we all need change. Staying the same and never moving is not a recipe for a happy life.

I get really reflective at the end of a year. I like to set goals for my new year and pick a word that I can focus on for the upcoming year. My word this year is BRAVE. (I’ll post more about that in the weeks to come.) As I reflect on 2016, I can see God changing a lot in me. I’ve been afraid to embrace those changes and He’s telling me to be brave and let go. God has brought new challenges into my life that I have no control over. But He’s in control. My biggest challenge is to not worry and to place every. single. need. at His feet.

Sometimes, being brave means not doing anything. Sometimes, it’s just letting God do his work. Not fighting it, but embracing it.

What will 2017 bring? I have no idea! Whatever sort of change comes in my life and my family’s life, my hope and prayer is to embrace it.

Good- bye, 2016. Welcome, 2017.

 

September Goals

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(Mac, our new puppy. 14 weeks old)

Friends, if I’m being honest, I’m so tempted to type a one-word goal for this month.

Sleep.

Okay, 2 words. Sleep. Read. (I’m never too tired to read.)

It’s been so busy and and everything is starting back up again. I’m feeling a little

OVERWHELMED.

Well, maybe a lot overwhelmed. Let’s just say I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve said yes to too many things. Now I’m feeling the burn. I’m feeling stretched thin. I just want to curl up in my new sherpa blanket I snagged at Costco last week for $11.99, grab the puppy, turn on Netflix and just do nothing.

But I have the homeschooling, the dispensing of food, the keeping alive of the little people (and puppies), the cleaning of the clothes, and bunch of other things parents do. I also think the Hubs would miss me if I just dropped off the grid.

It’s tempting; but not realistic.

Mac’s life is so simple. He eats and sleeps. He gets picked up and petted and kissed repeatedly on the face. He plays with Boomer and chews his bones (and my wicker blanket basket!!). Then he goes back to sleep. He repeats this about 4 times a day and then sleeps a solid night’s sleep.

So while I can’t just shirk all my responsibilities this month, I can be realistic. I can acknowledge the business of this season (home school, soccer, swimming, Bible Study, and the list goes on) and be reasonable as to what I can accomplish. I love setting goals because it keeps me focused; but I don’t want to set my expectations so high that I feel like I’ve failed at the end of the month because so little got marked off my list.

My list is short; but realistic for me this month.

Quiet Time: With school starting back up, struggling to get up early and the new puppy, my morning quiet time with God  has been infrequent. I have gotten out of a groove. I need to get back into a groove. I really miss my time of reading my Bible in the morning. I know one way to get this time back is go to bed earlier, so I can wake up earlier.

Family: It’s really busy right now with soccer and swimming. This will only last for a season, though. I’m just shooting for one night a week where we stay home, just the four us, and have a family fun night with at least one or two game nights.

The Hubs: A date night or date day.

The House: We have been working soooo hard on our 1960’s fixer upper. While we have a lot to do still, we’ve been very blessed to get so much done in just a few short months. We are having a House Warming/ Open House soon and we are making a big push to get some projects done. So my goal is to stay focused and get those things done before our party. After that, we are taking a little break from home improvement projects.

To Read: Lately, when I start reading, I fall asleep and end up taking a 2 hour nap! My goal is to carve out a little more reading time this month. Maybe I shouldn’t do it wrapped in my super soft sherpa blanket that I bought from Costco for $11.99. I have 3 books on my nightstand right now and I want to finish them all.

Do you set goals? How do you stay focused on your goals; but not let them overwhelm you or your schedule?

May Goals:: When Life Gets Wonky

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It’s been a little quiet around the blog and for good reason. Life can pretty much be described by the picture above. (Which was not planned, by the way. I really found H like this with his tiny voice pleading for help.) Our life has been turned upside down and it’s very WONKY right now. Why???

We very, very, very, (I could add more here; but I won’t.) unexpectedly bought a house. The house, for a lack of a better expression, just “dropped in our laps.” We were not looking; but when the opportunity presented itself, we had to act pretty fast.

This house is a bit of a miracle and I am most definitely writing a post to share more about that in the future. It is such a surprise, though, and I think I’m still in  a bit of shock.

Moving in and of itself is stressful and puts regular life on hold. And our “new” house is not actually new. It’s an older house that needs some work done before we can move in. (Let’s just say that 1968 called and wants its light fixtures back!) We have quite a list of “to-do’s” and about 5-6 weeks to complete them.

Does the picture above make more sense now?

My last 5 weeks of school were planned out perfectly. Those plans are non-existent now. We are still doing school; but I’m giving myself grace and doing what I think is absolutely necessary and letting go of everything else. (This is hard for me!!)

We are still doing the Whole30. Remember that post here? The Whole30 is NOT easy to do while you are ripping up floors, sanding down cabinets and packing china. There is no fast food or take out. We are almost done and we are staying strong, though.

My friend, Leslie, took Lil for one whole afternoon. My in-laws took H for the same afternoon. I was able to catch up with all of my laundry. I had spent so much time at the new house that my laundry was out of control. What a blessing!!! The dirty dishes and dirty laundry don’t stop because we are remodeling a house.

Life is wonky and it’s going to get crazier. My goal is share some of this adventure with my readers. But really, my goal for this month, is just to stay sane. To be okay in the midst of the chaos. To let go of the little things. To focus on how good God has been to give us this house. To ask for help. To let people help me and not to try to do it on my own. To just keep us all fed with clean clothes. Just the basics.

Okay, I gotta go peel some crazy busy floral wallpaper off the bathroom walls now.

 

April Goals

I’ve been on a little blogging break. I wasn’t taking a writing break; just a posting break. Ever feel like you need time to recharge and refocus? Oh and catch up with your laundry?!? I thought so.

I’m back and excited to post on a more regular basis. First order of business is to post my goals for April. I’ve been posting my goal updates at the beginning of the month; and this is coming out more mid-month. I did, however, set these goals at the start of April. So, I’ve been working on these for a couple of weeks now.

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Let’s do a quick recap of March’s goals. My mantra was Finish the Unfinished!

Marriage- I wanted to make sure we make this date night thing a habit. So, my goal is to have another date night with The Hubs (in or out) and for us to pick a day we will read our devotional book together.

We got our date night in by the skin of our teeth! We double dated with friends and we went to San Francisco for dinner at The House of Prime Rib. Oh. My. Word. It was delicous.

Family/Health- Lily and I will be walking/running together.

Lily and I have been “training” at  home for our weekly running club we are a part of. We are running and walking right now, trying to stretch the time we run longer and longer each time. Our end goal? Our Kids On The Run club is running  a 5K in May.

Jen- My goal is to get 7 hours of sleep at least EVERY night (I’ll settle for MOST, though.) and to have my lights out between 10:30 and 11:00. I’m still striving to get up before my kiddos.

Again, I did much better at getting my 7 hours of sleep. This “waking up before the kids” goal seems to elude me. It’s so hard to make myself go to bed early! There were a few nights I slipped into my old habits of staying up past midnight and waking by or before 7. Let me tell you, I felt awful. I started having that dizzy, lightheaded feeling I used to have all the time. My lack of sleep was really affecting me for months. I know I cannot do that anymore.

To Read- This month our book club is reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Other than this book, I’m trying to finish all my unfinished books.

Yes, to Shanghai Girls. Yes, to 2 out of the 4  of my unfinished books.

Projects- My list of unfinished projects was soooooo long. Here’s my top two: Finish painting a “You are My Sunshine” palette sign for Lulu and to  repaint a rolling cart I have in the kitchen.

Yes, to both and here’s the photo proof.

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I need to get rid of some chalk lines; but then we are ready to hang it up in Lulu’s room.

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This was a boring brown with some stenciled vines on it. Now it’s my favorite color!!!

Here are my goals for April:

Marriage- Do our weekly couple’s devotional together. It’s been hard to nail down a day to do our devotional book together for a couple of reasons. I need to make it a habit and The Hub’s schedule is nutso!  I can’t help his schedule but I can do work on my end. I really need to put it in my planner so it’s at the forefront of my mind.

Family/Health- Continue to run with Lily 3x a week as part of our Kids on the Run Training.

And (take a deep breath) our family is starting the Whole30 meal challenge. You can read about what this is here if you have never heard of it.

Jen- I am truly convinced that getting my minimum of 7 hours sleep is not important but crucial for me. My next step is to slay that dragon and get up before the kids.

Practice in My Hand Lettering For Everyone book once a week. This is just a fun thing I’ve always wanted to do but never made the time to do.

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Read- Winter Garden, For the Love, and one of my other unfinished books Curious Faith.

Projects-  This month it’s a family endeavor. Our goal is to install some new raised beds in our garden, to start and plant our seedlings.

Homeschool– I’m in the finally stretch, friends! I’m excited for some of the things we are going to learn and I’m also just ready to be done. Can you feel me out there, homeschool mamas?? So my goal is to FINISH STRONG! I don’t want to slack and waste these last precious weeks. (6 weeks to be exact; but I’m not counting or anything.)

That does it!! And here’s to a fabulous April!!

 

March Goals:: Finish The Unfinished

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Hello March! Hello days that have made me pine for spring to come! Rain is coming to our parts but we’ve had some really nice days this month. A few times the weather had me tricked into thinking winter was over. I welcome the rain, though. We here in California do NOT want another drought dry summer.

So how did my February Goals go this past month?

Marriage- Our goals were to have a date night (out) and start a couple’s devotional book together.

We did have an amazing Valentine’s date out at a delicious steak house, Starks. (Though, we’ve stopped going on Valentine’s day. Too many people; too busy.) We did pick a book for a couple’s devotional that I think will be really good, Powerful Promises For Every Couple by Jim and Elizabeth George. Once we get a little deeper into the book, I’ll do a review on it.

Family/Health-  This month, I really wanted us to get out into nature more as a family, walk the dog and start getting Lily ready for our Kids on the Run group that will be starting soon.

I did not walk Boomer as much as I had planned; but we definitely got out and started taking family hikes (We have some great places to hike here.) and Lily and I have started our training for the 5K coming up with our running group. The best news this month is that Lily learned to RIDE A BIKE! Now that’s all she does. She spends hours riding up and down our street.

To Read- I wanted to read, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and The Fringe Hours. I wanted to finish Money Making Mom.

Yes, to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. No, to everything else.

Home- Decluttering the garage.

We’ve made really good progress here. We have a little more decluttering to do.

Jen-  This month I was DETERMINED to get to bed early, get at least 7 hours of sleep and get up earlier than my kids.

I’m still struggling with getting up before my kids. But…..I went to bed much earlier than I was (most nights) and I have been getting at least 7 hours of sleep (most nights). I think that once I started getting more sleep, my body relaxed. I’ve been so very tired at night and I really struggle to stay awake. This is a good thing. I think my body is definitely in sleep catch-up mode right now.

So how is March looking?

Well, it hit me this month that I have a lot of “unfinished” things laying about the house. Unfinished projects, unfinished  books, and not to mention the unfinished baskets of laundry!!

So, I think before I set any new goals, I need to finish the old ones.

Marriage– There’s really nothing new here; but I want to make sure we make this date night thing a habit. So, my goal is to have another date night with The Hubs (in or out) and for us to pick a day we will read our devotional book together.

Family/Health- Again, nothing new here. I do want us to continue with the family walks/hikes, though. So, my goal is one family hike/long walk once a week, weather permitting. Lily and I will be walking/running together as well.

Jen- I didn’t realize how truly lacking I have been in sleep until I started getting a healthy amount of sleep. My goal is to get 7 hours of sleep at least EVERY night. (I’ll settle for MOST, though.) My other goal is to have my lights out between 10:30 and 11:00. I’m still striving to get up before my kiddos. Here’s the deal, though. If getting enough sleep means I get up with my kids instead of before,  then for now I’m okay with that. It is still my ultimate goal.

To Read- This month our book club is reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Other than this book, I’m trying to finish all my unfinished books. Oh boy! There is a stack of them! You can check out my stack by reading my last post here. I have four books to finish as well as my book club book. That’s a tall order for me. I’m going to give it my best shot.

Projects- My list of unfinished projects is looooooong. Here’s my top two: I started painting a “You are My Sunshine” palette sign for Lulu. I wanted to finish that as well as repaint a rolling cart I have in the kitchen. I started to repaint it, didn’t like the color and left it partially painted with the unloved color.

Finish the Unfinished. That’s my mantra for this month!

What about you? Any unfinished projects or stack of books around your house?

February Goals

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January just sped by, didn’t it? Though I didn’t accomplish all the goals I set this month, I’m so glad I narrowed my list down. It helped me focus on the areas of my life that needed some extra attention. Here’s how I did for January.

Goal #1 My Health – SLEEP. As in I need way more of it. Going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up before my kiddos is where I’m headed with this goal.

So this was my big  goal for the month and I’ll talk about it a little further in the post.

Goal #2 My Marriage–  Having more quality time with the Hubs.

Between sick kids and lucking out on babysitters, it was hard to go out on a date, which was what I wanted to do with The Hubs. I just wanted us to get out of the house-ALONE. It wasn’t happening so, we took matters into our own hands and had a “Date Night In”. We ordered in from one our favorite restaurants,  hit up Red Box and had our date after the kids went to bed. Mission Accomplished.

Goal #3 My Family’s Health– Getting us all up and moving more was the goal.

Like it is with little kids this time of year, we’ve been sick! And it has been raining a ton. So my ideas of family walks and riding bikes did not happen very often. The family walk didn’t happen at all. Lily and I did start a special walking workout. I signed Lily  up for a homeschool running  group called Kids on the Run. We are starting with walking and working our way up to running.

February Goals:

Marriage- I’m still not giving up on that date night OUT!! Also, The Hubs and I have been wanting to start a couple’s devotional book together. We’ve picked one and our goal is to read it together once a week.

Family/Health- I am determined to get us up and moving! I have three goals this month. One, is to go on family walks (weather permitting). Two, is for me to take Boomer for a walk at least 3 times a week. Three, is for Lily and I to start training for Kids on the Run. The program starts in March with the end goal being the kids running a 5K. So, we are starting our training now.

To Read- This month I have two books I want to read, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and The Fringe Hours. I want to finish Money Making Mom.

Home- The Hubs and I started to declutter our house right before Christmas.  We are chipping away at the clutter a little every week. We’ve decluttered our clothes and most of our books. This month we are hitting the garage. This is a big task. It’s scary in there! I’m determined (with The Hubs help) to clear it out.

Jen- Last month I strived to get more sleep. I really struggled with getting to bed on time. I’ve developed a really bad habit of staying up to the wee hours. So, this month I’m DETERMINED to get to bed early and get at least 7 hours of sleep. Here’s the kicker, though. I need to get up early, earlier than my kids. I know this will make mornings run smoother. Better mornings, more sleep! Win-win, right? Yet, this is an area I really struggle with.

I’m excited to start forming some new habits and meeting my goals. Good thing February has an extra day this month!