Dec 5, 2017


For the last several years, I've chosen a word to direct and focus my annual goals and intentions.  I've then applied the word, as it fit, to various areas of my life and made plans accordingly.  It's always been sort of a mix of finding a word that fits with my goals and finding goals that fit with my word.

For 2018, (I think) I've decided to leave out the word and just set goals.  I'm still considering choosing a focusing word for the year, but a word hasn't yet found me and I'm kind of liking the idea of leaving it out. 

My goal planning process, this fall, was not a lot different from what it's been in the past, but I recently read this blog post from The Simple Dollar and decided to add one of the suggested process tips to my own.  The key suggestion that I took away was to make a plan and then sit on it for a few weeks.  The hope is that the rest period will give room for ideas and plans to percolate and improve.

So, a couple weeks ago, I spent a few hours doing something of a review of the various areas of my life.  I chose to focus on:

Friends/Extended Family

One of my favorite takeaways from doing reviews of this sort is realizing just how much these varying topics relate to one another and overlap.  It looks like a list of defined topics, but they are all a part of life and life is definitely not compartmentalized like this.  When I start writing about our marriage and realize how much our kids and careers and financial situation play into our marriage, it really highlights how important each area is to the others. 

My process looked like this:

I filled up a notebook with a quick assessment of each area - giving it a rating of good, bad or ok - and then followed up with more details on what was going well in each area and what was not going well.  I then went back through and made a list of goals, projects and other fairly specific things I could do to improve each area and move me closer to where I want to be in the future.

I'm currently playing the waiting game.  I'm taking the advice of The Simple Dollar post and just letting thoughts work their way through my head and heart for a few weeks.

I want to have things finalized a week or two before the new year.  So, I've put a reminder in my calendar for the week of 12/18.  At that time, my plan is to re-read what I wrote, add new thoughts, insights and plans and then come up with a finalized goal list for 2018.

And about the waiting period - I'm already seeing it's value.  New ideas have come to mind.  I've had time to talk with Brian about a few of the specific projects, to ask for his input and to verify that the goals we have for our marriage and family are in alignment.  I've been able to think out more specific ways of working toward end goals and had time to reconsider what is most important in this phase of life.

Good stuff.  I'm already excited about new plans and goals to come and will share more in a couple weeks. 

Dec 1, 2017


It's time to look back on November goals and set a few new ones for December.  

First up, an update on my 6 goals from last month: 

1 / Improve my exercise and eating. (Partial success.)

My goal was to improve upon my numbers from October.  Number of days I hit 10,000 steps and total number of steps for the month were both losses.  Not terrible numbers, but less than I did in October.  Amount of time exercising was also a fail.  I wasn't too far off, but I didn't quite make it.  I did succeed in improving the number of days I "ate well."  And overall, I feel like my exercise and eating were okay - just not as good as I would have liked.    

2 / Complete Christmas shopping.  (I think so???)  

My list looks good.  Brian and I are planning a wrapping night (while we watch Christmas Vacation) for this weekend.  So, that will be the true tell.  Right now, everything is tucked away in our closet and I'm not 100% sure what's in there.  

3 / Order Christmas cards.  (Done.) 

They arrived in the mail on Wednesday and I have about half of them addressed.  I also had the forethought to buy stamps while we were visiting Brian's parents over Thanksgiving.  I was pretty proud of myself for that, as getting stamps at their house consists of a two block walk while getting stamps at home always seems like a huge hassle.   

4 / Post three more blog posts. (Yep.)  

5 / Watch and take notes on one workshop from the Read Aloud Revival membership site. (Done.)  

I completed a workshop called Poetry Teatime.  

6 / Finish my 2017 reading goal.  (Yes!)  

This one makes me so happy.  When I set the goal at 40 books, I imagined that I would be reading like crazy the last couple weeks of the year to get 'er done.  Instead, it looks like I'll end the year between 45 and 50.  

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And onto December goals:  

1 / Improve my eating and exercise.  

It's going to be another month of crazy schedules, so I will be happy if I can meet or beat my November numbers.  

2 / Hang photos in the living room.

I recently purchased three big photo frames with the intention of hanging family photos above the couch.  It's been a few weeks and I've made no progress on getting the prints ordered.  Hopefully, making this goal public, will push me to accomplish this.  

3 / Watch and take notes on one workshop from the Read Aloud Revival membership site by 12/15 and then cancel my membership.  

There is one more workshop that I really want to watch, but I feel like the bulk of the value that comes with membership is aimed toward families with slightly older children or who are currently home schooling.  I definitely plan to join again in the future, but want to cancel my current membership before my next monthly payment is due.  
4 / Post two more blog posts.  

5 / Finish my goal planning for 2018, so I can start the new year off  on the right foot.  

Nov 29, 2017


We've made it to the end of the month and I'm feeling thankful.  Brian has one more super-crazy week of basketball practice and games / a tournament and then he is done with coaching for the year.  It's going to feel like such a treat to have him home around 5pm again.  

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I ordered our Christmas cards and added "kid quotes" to the back of the card in lieu of the "this is what we've been up to in 2017" spiel.  I sometimes feel weird writing out the list of our travels, etc. and thought this seemed like a fun way to still add some personality.  Now I'm crossing my fingers that they can bring a few chuckles and people won't just think it's weird. 

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My mother-in-law and I took the boys to paint pottery last weekend and it was a success.  I feared that it would go the way of mini-golf and we would be in and out the door in 20 minutes.  But they surprised me and we were there for close to an hour and a half.  Eli made a big mess of both himself and the table, but they both stuck with it and I think they had fun.  It will be fun to see how their pieces (a Christmas tree for Sam and a basketball for Eli) look after they are fired. 

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I'm surprising myself by embracing the ugly kid-made ornaments on our Christmas tree.  I did not expect this out of myself.  My mom handled this situation by having a second tree - one was "pretty" and one was for the "fun" ornaments.  Perhaps I will someday do the same, but for now, the mix is okay with me.  

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Maggie has suddenly started saying so many words and it is so fun.  I swear she adds several new words each day.  It is pretty great to be able to communicate with her and her little voice is so cute and sweet.

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Sam has suddenly turned into a teenager and started sneaking milk from the jug.  Where did he even get this idea?  

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I've been using a new to me budgeting app (Daily Budget) and I'm totally into it.  It's going to take me a few months to completely sync the process of using the app with my old process (using a spreadsheet on the computer), but I can tell that it's going to be good and I'm excited about it.  (Of course, I'm easily excited about anything related to personal finance and making good money decisions, so...)  

The app subtracts out your fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance, etc.) and then amortizes the rest of your income into daily allowances.  So, if you have $2000 left after fixed expenses and 30 days in the month, it adds $66.66 to your available allowance each day.  You subtract out as you spend and the app shows you what you have available to spend.  

Of course, we still have the same amount of money to spend as before, but it's a pretty easy method of accounting (you can assign your subtractions to categories) and it's just a different perspective than I have used before.  

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We are getting pretty excited for Topper (our Elf on the Shelf) to fly down from the North Pole on Thursday night / Friday morning!  

Nov 27, 2017


Amazon links are affiliate.

This is a sort of miscellaneous post of things that I wanted to share, but don't feel worthy of their own posts.

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Read Aloud Revival.  I planned to do a full post about the RAR website, but realized I don't really have THAT much to say about it.  It's good.  If you have kids and think books/reading are important I would love to direct you to RAR and to their recommended reading lists and podcast in particular.  If you have interest in home schooling, I would also recommend becoming a premium member, as there are several great online workshops available. 

This tiny house by Ana White.  I've been intrigued with this movement for years and years.  But this one stands out as different.  If I were single, I feel confident I could move in and love it.  

Becoming an adult.  The part about the exclamation parts.  Yep.

The Instagram collections feature.  Do you take advantage of this?  It has become my new method of  keeping a "books to read" list.  I also have collections for recipes, quilts, gift ideas, travel, scrapbooking, homeschooling, my One Little Word and about 10 others. 

Cordless stick vacuum.  I used my birthday money to buy this last April and have zero regrets.  It makes kitchen clean up easier and although we didn't buy it with the intention of using it for other parts of our house, we haven't taken the "big vacuum" out of the closet in months.  It is light weight, the battery life is great and it easily transitions from hard flooring to carpet.  It's a winner.

The Lazy Genius - aka Kendra Adachi.  I found her a couple months ago through Instagram.  And then I started listening to her podcast and reading her newsletter and blog.  The podcast is my favorite bit.  She's doing a great job teaching me to be a lazy genius.  I'm sold on Kendra and her brand.

Nov 10, 2017



My big goal for 2017 has been to embrace the idea of nurturing and put it into practice in my daily life.  To me, this means finding time and putting energy into the important, while letting less significant things fall to the wayside.  

This, of course, means many things and relates to a lot of different areas of my life.  But one of the action items that I've really grown to love is making seasonal to do lists for our family.   This isn't a new idea for us.  We've done this in previous years, but not quite as intentionally as we have this year.  Putting in the time to plan well has really paid off and we will definitely keep making quarterly/seasonal lists as time marches forward.  

Three things that are different this time around:

1 / Not including all of our ideas.

I particularly remember a summer list we made about three years ago that included all. the. things.  It was really more like a list of ideas than a list of things we intended to accomplish.  

It made me feel like we weren't doing enough and also like we had to do something at every opportunity we found.   The list was too broad and included too many ideas of varying degrees of importance, so it wasn't clear which things were our priorities.  

This year, we've narrowed our lists down to the things we would regret if we failed to do them.

2 / Including things that we would probably do even if they weren't on the list.

These are the things that have become annual traditions in our family and is (sort of) the opposite of the last point.  

I like to include the things the boys would tell you we "always do."  Even though they would likely get done without being on the list, having them on the list gives us something fun to look forward to and highlights their importance.  

It also helps me remember to do the next thing, which is...

3 / Penciling things into the calendar.

This step is critical.  Our weekends fill up fast and a lot of activities just don't fit into our week night routines.  So, as often and as early as possible, I get things on the calendar.  This insures that we have a time and a plan for getting it all done.  

4 / Keeping a running list of ideas.  

I have a page in my planner to just keep various ideas as I run across them.  It is nice to have a single place to keep the ideas and also serves as a great reference point as Brian and I look ahead at each season.  

5 / Scheduling in a date for Brian and me. 

We just figured this out with our fall / early winter list, but this totally needs to go on every seasonal list that we make.  I wish it easily happened more than four times a year, but we'll take what we can get - and afford.

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Our complete "fall" list includes:

1/ Zoo trip (using the train passes we received from the library summer reading program)
2 / Zoo trip (with our church community)
3 / Bowling followed by lunch at Red Robin
4 / Apple orchard visit
5 / Pumpkin patch visit
6 / Anniversary picnic
7 / Christmas Eve morning pancakes
8 / Christmas Eve party
9 / Miniature golf
10 / Paint Yourself Silly visit
11 / Carve pumpkins
12 / Ashland football game
13 / Husker band
14 / Harvest with grandpa
15 / Date for B and b

One thing we have not figured out - or really just not made time for - is for Brian and I to take the kids on individual outings.  We've been talking about this for a long time, but have yet to make it happen.  ...adding that to my "idea page" now,  so we can schedule it into our winter/early spring calendar.  

If you do seasonal family activity lists, do you have any pointers or great ideas that I've left off my list?  

Nov 5, 2017


Oh, these kiddos.

They are SO funny and say such great things.  Here's a sampling of their words from summer 2017.

Eli: After Christmas is...July!
Sam: I don't thinks so.  After Christmas is Valentine's day.  It's gonna be love hearts everywhere!

He had a bug bite.  I had told him about (topical) Benadryl, but failed to ever put it on his foot.
Eli: Mama, remember my foot itches.  I need that drill!

Eli: Mama, if you're nice, I'll play baseball with you.  

Sam: There's a bird!
Me: Yes, it's a robin.
Sam: If that bird hears a firework, he'll say, "Huh!? What was that!?"
Walking toward the bird.
Sam: "Hi bird.  Do you know about July?"

Eli had been clearing his throat repeatedly for several minutes.
Me: What's going on with your throat?
Eli: It's just burping or something.

Sam: You know what?!  Jenna saw a BIG bear! was either a bear or a dog.

Eli: We need to dead those grasshoppers.

Getting to our vacation rental required us to drive by a Lowes.  Every time we drove by...
Sam: Louise. Margaret, though.  
It took me several trips to realize that he was reading Lowes as Low-ees "Louise" - which is Maggie's middle name.  

Eli: Mama, you're not a good pitcher.  Your brains aren't good at pitching.  Mama, you can play better when you grow up. 

As we walked up to our gate at the airport and looked out the window at the waiting planes.
Eli: Look at that plane!  ....but is it real?

Eli: If your door is closed, can lava get into your house?

Brian is a high school history, civics and economics teacher.
Me: What does daddy do at work?
Sam: He teaches friends how to play.

Sam: Don't touch the spider!
Eli: Why?
Sam: It's allergic to you.

Eli: Mama! I have to tell you something.  Is the spider allergic to me?

Sam: Mama, if your iPad isn't working, do you call 911?

Eli: Mama, did Grandpa Birger used to have pigs?
Me: He did.  When I was a little girl, he had pigs.
Eli: But how did they get away?
Me: Well, they grew up and the then they died.  Pigs don't live as long as people. 
Eli: But I'm gonna live a long time, but if you don't breathe, you don't live a long time.

Months after I got new glasses.
Sam: Mama, take off your glasses.  Do you look like mama?
Me: I don't know.  Do I?
Sam: No.  Put on your glasses.  Do you look like mama?
Me: I don't know.  Do I?
Sam: No, you look like April., can you put on your old glasses?

April is my sister / his aunt.  

Nov 2, 2017


Here's what I hope to accomplish this month. 

1 / Improve my exercise and eating.  In October I kept fairly detailed stats and my goal for November is to improve upon the numbers from last month.  I kept track of the number of days I hit 10,000 steps, my total number of steps for the month, my time exercising (I've been using MuTu System exercises) and the number of days I ate "well."  This last one is subjective, but I still think it is helpful to me to mark yes or no at the end of each day - and progress seems easier when I see several yes's in a row. 

2 / Complete Christmas shopping.  For the last several years, I have tried to have my shopping done by December 1st - and I've largely been successful.  I feel like this has made a huge difference in my ability to actually enjoy the month of December, so I'm going for it again. 

3 / Order Christmas cards.  Much like Christmas shopping, I experience a sense of relief when this task is accomplished.  Many years, I have them not only ordered but also printed and ready to mail by Thanksgiving.  I'm putting the bar a little low on this, this year, because having photos to put on the card is somewhat out of my control as we are still waiting on photographers from both my sister's wedding and family portraits with Brian's family. 

4 / Post three more blog posts. 

5 / Watch and take notes on one workshop from the Read Aloud Revival membership site.  I have much more to write about this (new to me) membership site and plan to do so in one of those blog posts mentioned above.

6 / Finish my 2017 reading goal.  My goal is 40 books. I'm at 36 or 37 right now.  I can't remember which off the top of my head.  Either way, finishing this month should be no problem. 

And I think that will do.  We actually have a fairly busy month planned with three family filled weekends, one weekend that I will be out of town with friends and a lot of nights without Brian home until after the kids are in bed due to his coaching schedule.  So, yep.  I better not go crazy on my goal setting. 

Happy November friends!