Thursday, January 31, 2013

No empty shelf is safe.

Lincoln has very recently discovered that he is able to climb onto Bree's bed, the fireplace hearth, and... a lot of other places.

Big Things

First off: we sold our house! We had our inspection done Monday, and our realtor said it had to be one of the cleanest inspections she'd ever seen. So it's a relief to know that we are only two very minor repairs away from being squared away. And our appraisal is tomorrow; we're keeping our fingers crossed. We are now in the midst of packing, and it is quite bare and depressing around here. This has been our home for almost seven years, and it is very strange to be packing up our lives. We are very excited, however, to be starting a new chapter, and the big moving day is just over two weeks away!

I went to my last Book Club meeting Tuesday. We discussed The Rent Collector, which is an amazing book. I was glad to end my reign as Book Club facilitator on such a great note! I started the book club two years ago next month, and have LOVED the books, and more significantly, the women. I will miss them and our monthly time together.

Before the house-selling/packing craze ensued, I was able to accomplish two more of my goals:

#8: Organize and consolidate my old half-filled, half-finished scrapbooks. I stopped scrapbooking about four years ago when I started this blog, and I had blank pages in several scrapbooks that I had planned to fill in. I finally took the books apart, ordered the pages by date (with Chad's help), and got rid of three binders which are now empty. In addition to freeing up shelf space, it's much nicer to have the books all in order; perusing them is now more enjoyable. I never realized it before, but I would only ever look at the few books that were filled and completed, because the disorganized/half-empty ones bugged me so much. So as I slid the pages into their new places, I was looking at them again for the first time in years. It was actually really enjoyable for Chad and me.

#20: Reconcile my parents' books of remembrance with My parents have those old family history books with the fold-out family trees and the endless hand-copied records. It didn't take long to compare the family names in the books to what exists on the church website. Now all the information my parents have is in my family history software, neat and organized and digital.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I knew that the first goal I wanted to knock out this year was #20: Establish a daily schedule for the family, including home-school, preschool, and therapy. 

It's something that has been a long time in the making, and I think I've finally got it down. Our detailed schedule has been working out great...but this week Chad switched to evening shift (he goes to work at 2:00pm), so I had to re-work the schedule and make a second version. Now I have the "Evening Shift Schedule" printed out, in a page protector hanging on the fridge. I can flip it over to "Day Shift Schedule" when Chad switches again.

The time frames help me keep my day in perspective, and even when I'm behind or ahead, having all of my "to-dos" listed out helps immensely. It has also had the added side-effect of my kids watching less movies. They used to ask for movies all the time. Once I had the schedule, it became easy to say, "No, it's time for _____." And now they don't ask as much.

So at the risk of looking like a Type-A control freak, here it is in all its glory (the Day Shift Schedule has all the same things, except we start school at 9:00am, have an earlier dinner, and exercise when Chad gets home at 6:00pm):

Evening Shift Schedule

8:00--Wake up, breakfast, vitamins
8:30--Brush teeth, get dressed, make beds
9:00--Exercise (Chad and I are doing P90X) (Bree and Mason free time)
10:00--Reading time (15 min) (kids)
10:00--Shower (me)
10:30--Snack/Lincoln Therapy
11:45--Fix Lunch
1:00--Math (Mason: blocks, puzzles, DVD, PC, number flashcards)
2:00--Lincoln nap
2:00--Phonics (Mason: toy computer, DVD, PC, letters, writing)
3:15--Outside recess/Mom free time
4:15--Science or History or Study Island
5:00--Music or Art
5:30--Free time until dinner
5:45--Prepare dinner
7:00--PJs and movie time
9:00--Brush teeth, scriptures, story, bedtime

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Few Tidbits

The other day Bree and Mason made us breakfast. They are obviously familiar with our eating habits, because when we came to the kitchen table, there was a spoonful of peanut butter for me, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (slightly mangled by Lincoln) for Chad. Our kids are awesome.

Lincoln is saying a couple new words: dog and hug. Actually he will only whisper them; I'm not sure why.

I finished reading The Power of Habit. It was really interesting reading about all the studies and experiments. It presented the idea that if you want to get rid of a bad habit, you can't just stop the habit-- you have to change it. Manipulate it into something better. Here's the framework:
  1. Identify the routine (the habit I want to change)
  2. Experiment with rewards (adjust routine so it delivers different rewards, then see if that "satisfies" me--if the urge for the habit is gone).
  3. Isolate the cue (When the urge hits me, ask: Where am I? What time is it? What's my emotional state? Who else is around? What action preceded the urge? Then look for patterns)
  4. Have a plan (when I experience ____ cue, I will do _____ routine to get _______ reward).
I should let Lincoln read it; maybe it will help him to stop sucking his left thumb.

Mason and Bree have just made a fort with blankets in the living room. They're singing a song, "We love the dark..." Actually Bree is making it up as she goes along, and Mason is trying to sing along. They finish the song, and Bree declares: "Nice singalong!"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Taking a break

We took a trip to the valley for a couple days to visit Adam and Heather, and to use the Christmas present my parents gave us: passes to the Arizona Museum of Natural History! Bree is fascinated with history, and this museum has a lot of fun things for kids, including a courtyard where they can pan for gold and "dig" for dinosaur fossils.

We really enjoyed it, and look forward to using our passes much more.

We all went to Famous Dave's for a delicious BBQ dinner. We got the big feast, which is a great value, and we got to try tons of food, including a super-tasty complimentary bread pudding for dessert (something they do for first-timers). And Lincoln exhibited his love for country music.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2013, off to a busy start

This week was the first official week of the new year, since we were still in vacation mode last week. We have been keeping busy. Here's a quick update on this week's events and thoughts.
  • I sketched out a schedule for home school. Mason hates it, because I am now forcing him to participate in Bree's Language, Science, History, etc. When I work with Bree on her math or phonics, I put him to work on something more his level (flashcards, puzzles, online learning games, or a Sesame Street DVD)
  • Bree forgot an impressive amount of information during her two-week break 
  • Our daily schedule includes outside playtime (unless it's too cold or rainy), therapy play time with Lincoln, and an hour of "mommy time."
  • On the days Chad works (8-6), he comes home for his break at 4:30, which is when we eat dinner. This lets us exercise immediately after he gets home at 6:00, and then we actually have time to relax together after 7:00.
  • It's P90X time again. Yesterday was "Legs," so naturally I can't walk today. Monday we did pull-ups for the first time, and for the following two days my right arm was unable to completely straighten of its own accord, because the muscles responsible for elbow flexion were ridiculously tight. My goal is to actually make it through the three-month program this time (3 months = 90 days, hence the "90" in P90X)

  • My homemade cottage cheese turned out very soft and extra tangy, so not good for eating plain. However, when I blend it up, it makes a wonderful and healthy sour cream. I tried to use the leftover whey to make ricotta cheese (one of my goals for the year--I thought I was being so smart when I added that to the list: "Hee hee! I already have the whey; I'm half-way there!"). But that was a big fat bust. I will have to try again, and use actual milk instead of reconstituted powdered milk.
  • Chad an I finally got to see Les Miserables on Wednesday. We loved it. We saw the Broadway musical in Vegas just before we were married, and have both been in love with the soundtrack ever since. The film did a great job of bringing our favorite songs to life. My two main complaints were a slight disappointment in Russell Crowe, who plays Javert (he has a decent voice, but isn't able to convey emotion when he sings), and an annoyance with Marius's jaw-shaking-induced vibrato (singers can get away with that on stage, but not on the big screen; it was hard not to laugh at times). Thank you Mackenzie for swapping babysitting so we could go!
  •  I made sweet potato fries yesterday with a couple taters left over from Christmas. That's the second time I've made these "fries" and I think it's official: we are not fans.
  • I did my first batch of indexing today. It was the most difficult group of names I have ever done. Russian and Polish names are not my forte.
  • Today's list of to-dos includes going to the library, preparing for Primary Singing Time, and doing yesterday's Science and Music lessons (we ran out of time because we had to clean the house and then stay away while it was being shown). And I really hope I finally get some time to watch Downton Abbey.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

31 Things in my 31st Year

Even though I was one goal shy of completing my list last year, I figure 29 out of 30 isn't too shabby, and I loved the feeling of accomplishment I had looking at my completed list. So often I look back at the past week/month/year, and wonder where the heck all my time went! Having lists of items that have been crossed off, as well as writing this blog, reminds me that I have done some worth-while things. My memory isn't necessarily terrible, but it does need a significant amount of jogging.

So, I'm continuing on in my quest to feel satisfied and accomplished with my life. I like New Year's Day. I enjoy the feeling of a fresh start, and the prospect of an empty calendar, waiting to be filled with only the best goals and activities. Chad and I have both reflected on the year, and have agreed on some things we'd like to work on together to improve things in our family, to make our home more peaceful. This year had many great memories, but in all honesty, things have been really rough since first grade started at the beginning of August. I have yet to find a way to balance homeschooling with everything else without becoming a crazy person. So, needless to say, several of my goals revolve around making our home less crazy, and more of a peaceful, enjoyable place to be.

So, here they are, in no particular order:
  1. Organize my recipe binder (That dessert section needs to be divided into sub-categories!)
  2. Make ricotta cheese
  3. Make a pumpkin roll
  4. Can butter
  5. Give sweet rolls to someone
  6. Donate blood
  7. Finish 2011 blog book
  8. Digitize my bin of old photos
  9. Organize and consolidate my old half-filled, half-finished scrapbooks
  10. Complete the "ABCs of Me" challenge
  11. Assemble bug-out bags for the family (extreme 72-hour kits)
  12. Move
  13. Index 20 names a month, for a total of 240 names
  14. Attend the temple at least eight times
  15. Reconcile my parents' books of remembrance with
  16. Read the Book of Mormon 
  17. Establish a chore routine for the kids, with allowance
  18. Take the family hiking
  19. Go camping in a place we've never been
  20. Establish a daily schedule for the family, including home-school, preschool, and therapy
  21. Play 12 different board games with my family
  22. Go to a baseball game with Chad
  23. Remain at or under my goal weight for longer than one month
  24. Do 20 real pushups with good form
  25. Learn to draw a cartoon person, worthy of a children's book illustration
  26. Finish painting Christmas village
  27. Read 52 books
  28. Watch a documentary
  29. No TV or movies for one week
  30. Eat Brazilian food
  31. Send flowers to someone

Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year with chocolate fondue,

Streamers and silly string,

 A visit to my parents' for a chance to wear our Christmas PJs together,

And fireworks.

A good start to what I hope will be a great year!
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