Hello, February!

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Hello, February with your cold mornings and wet days I see in the forecast; with your Valentine’s Day and barrage of candy!!! I’m looking forward to our ice skating days on Wednesdays, celebrating my 18th Valentine’s Day with The Hubs, and our cozy mornings around the school table (our kitchen table).

This month I will…….

>take time to really love my family by being fully present when I’m with them. That means not trying to get other stuff done when I’m spending time with them. Less multi-tasking; more playing.

>take time for me. That means more sleep and eating healthy. This also means Round 2 of the Whole30 because I tried last month and failed, horribly. I did complete the Whole30 successfully last May, though, and blogged a little about it here and here.

>read more and watch TV less. (Read about my 2017 Reading Challenge here.)Except for binge watching Frasier with The Hubs. I love Frasier and Niles. They are so lovable and pompous. Watching Frasier brings me joy.

This month I will not…….

>put things in my body that make me feel like crap. No cheesy enchiladas and refried beans. Lesson learned! That was a horrible night.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    >listen to the negative thoughts that tell me I cannot do something. I will shut them up, shove them aside and do the hard stuff.

>let the rainy days keep us from getting outside. At the same time, I’ll use some of those rainy days as an excuse to cuddle on the couch with my kiddos or maybe watch a few more episodes of Frasier.

What are your February goals?

 

 

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.

 

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?

Goal Setting Tips #4 and #5:: From Paper to Progress

Goals are great and dreaming is fine. But if it never goes past the tip of the pen all your wonderful plans and ideas stay just that ….. ideas.

Wishes, not reality.

This was my problem for a looooooong time. I was a list maker (Oooh, I love lists!); but not a list finisher. In all honesty, this is the area I struggle in the most. There’s been progress; but I have a ways to go.

While the other tips I’ve shared so far are, I believe, very important. These next two might be the most important.

Before we move on let’s review:

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So, I’ve made my list of what I want to accomplish this year and things I think God is calling me to do. I’ve looked at areas  where my family needs me most and I’ve  determined some things I need to cut out. I’ve made my Best Stuff List so I don’t get distracted by the urgent or the unimportant.

I do make goals for the year; but I like making my Best Stuff List for just a season. A season could be for a few months, for the summer, or while you are potty training. A year is so long and life has a way of changing unexpectedly. I wrote a post about My Best Stuff List here a few months ago. Looking back now, my priorities were a little different back then. My Best Stuff List is not the same today.

Now I’m ready to take on some of those goals (and areas where I need to do better) and get to work!

How do I turn it from just “I wish I could do this.” or “I wish I could be better at….” to  “I did it!” or “I’m definitely seeing progress!” or “God is working!”

I believe there are two steps you need to take next. First, make your goals specific and something you can measure. Then, write down the baby steps you are going to take to accomplish your ultimate goal. These steps are Goal Setting Tips #4 and #5.

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Let me use one of my goals as an example:

The area of my life that has needed a big reboot is my sleeping habits. This area has progressively gotten worse ever since The Hubs started working nights. It started with me not being able to go sleep when he wasn’t there. In time, I did get use to it; but it was too late. I had a developed a horrible habit. On most nights I stay up past midnight. Some nights I only get between 5 and 6 hours of sleep. At the most I get between 6 and 7; but that’s not the average. This is not good for me and has definitely had an effect on several areas of my life.

One big area (besides being tired) this has hindered me in is that I often get up with my kids. Because of this it’s hard to have a quiet time in the morning and I always feel like I’m playing catch up. School gets started later than I’d like and I don’t have the time in the morning to gather my thoughts or have some time to myself. I hit the floor running.

I could just say, “I need more sleep.”; but I’m going to use my goal setting tips to help me map out a plan so I can succeed. I need to be specific and have a goal I can measure:

My goal is getting 7-71/2 hours of sleep every night. I want to go to bed early enough where I can wake up before my kids and have time to myself each morning. (There are those special instances that you cannot help. There are late night activities, sick kids during the middle of the night, etc.)

Now, I have to make a plan.

Breaking down my goals into bite sized pieces is the key for me. Writing down the steps helps tremendously. Daily or (weekly) reminding myself of those goals is the final piece to the puzzle that helps me stay focused.

Here’s the steps I’m going to (attempt) follow:

  1. Decide when I want to wake up. What do I want to accomplish before the kids get up? Once I figure that out, I know how much earlier I want to wake before my kids. For me that time is 6 a.m. (Oooh, that sounds early!)
  2. Now I know that I should be snoozing around 10:30. Simple subtraction; but not so simple to do. What keeps me from going to bed at a decent hour?
  3. Well, for me, I’ve decided I need a hard stop time. That means no matter what I’m doing I stop at 10 p.m. That gives me half an hour to wrap things up. I can lock up  the house, check on the kiddos and let the dog out one last time. I can brush my teeth, put on my pj’s, you get the picture.
  4. This means my nightly routine needs to be done by 10. I wrote about the 5 things I do each night before I went to bed here. I need to get these things done as early in the night as possible. When I wait to clean up the dinner dishes, I end up doing it late at night when I should be cozy in my bed.

Getting up at 6 is just not the norm for me. So, right now I’m shooting for 6:30 and working my way to 6:00. Baby Steps.

I can use these small but measurable steps for any goal; but ultimately, I just have to get off my butt and be diligent. That takes will power. No one can do that for me. No plan can make me do anything. I have to decide to succeed and believe that I can. I think these steps can really help, though, and give me the direction I need.

So, here’s to one night owl trying to change her ways!

Monthly Goal Setting:: November

NovGoals2015This is a new monthly feature on the blog and I’m excited to start sharing some personal goals with you. Ok, I’m a little nervous, too! This is basically an accountability tool for me. I find, though, that when I read other people’s goals it inspires me to make my own and stick to them. So maybe it will inspire you, too.

My goal is to share these at the beginning of each month and then do an update at the end of the month. I strive to be honest. If I completely fail or flake, I’ll tell you. If I had to change direction mid-month, I’ll tell you about that too.

He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan,

carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.

~ Victor Hugo

 

Each month, I will also share a tip or practice that I use when setting goals and sticking to them. This is an area I desperately want to improve in and when I find ways to improve or practices that work for me, I’ll share with you.

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I’m a paper and pen kinda gal and I have to physically write things down. I love my new erin condren planner. This is the first time I’ve used one because they are kinda of pricey.  I’ve always just used a planner from Target. Maybe you like to use Google Calendar like The Hubs. Paper planners work best for me. Seeing my goals throughout the day, keep me focused.

So, I broke my goals down into categories. It just helped me sort my thoughts a bit better. This is my guinea pig list, so things may change. My goals aren’t terribly ambitions this month. With the holidays and all the construction (laying floors and painting) and chaos (All of our kitchen and dining room furniture was in the middle of our livingroom just a couple of days ago.) going on at my house, I’m trying to be realistic.

Books To Read:: I really want to finish a parenting book I was reading awhile back, Don’t Make Me Count To Three. This month my book club is reading The Dressmaker.  So that’s next on my list. With how busy November is, I think that’s all the reading I’m going to get done.

My Marriage:: A real date night. One where I curl my hair and put on some lipstick and we have to get a sitter (or maybe the grandparents). We are long overdue for one of these.

My House:: This one is simple. I just want to put my house back together! We’ve had dishes in our garage for the past week while our floors were being laid. Things just got haphazardly stuffed in random places. Our school desk looks like….. well, let’s just say I can’t see the desk underneath all the papers and books. We are hot mess here! We then decided at the last minute to paint. Yup, craziness!

Also, I want to begin decluttering my kid’s toys and closets. We’ve out grown things and soon there will be new toys coming into the house. I feel like their rooms are bursting at the seams.

Jen :: Get back into a routine. I’m feeling out of sorts and it’s because I have no routine set. I know I need to be flexible with the holidays coming up; but I desperately need to get back to some normal.

Homeschool:: It all goes back to me. When I’m out of sorts, everything around the house seems to come undone, that includes homeschooling. We are not in a routine at the moment, so I just want to get back to our routine that did seem to work for us.

My Family:: Make Excercise a  priority. It’s getting a little chillier (finally!); but it’s great walking weather. With soccer and swimming over, I really need to schedule in regular exercise for the kids. I also want to walk Boomer more instead of just having Andy do it.

Being Intentional:: Being intentional by encouraging other women is something God has really put on my heart. My goal this month is to send two encouraging notes to friends. Handwritten with a stamp and everything!

There you have it! It’s out there. Now I have to stick to it.

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