Apr 20, 2018

CURRENTLY


Wow!  This week just flew by.  It was a good one.

It felt like we had the right number of commitments.  Not many commitments, but not zero.  This is ideal for me.  I like to spend most of my time at home doing my own things on my own time frame.  But, I would get bored if we were always home.

This week, Brian went to a Bible study on Monday night, I took the little two to library story time on Tuesday and we had a play date on Wednesday morning, Sam went to his church group on Wednesday evening and my Bible study group meets tomorrow morning.  Besides that, we were home or playing outside with neighbors or doing before and after school drop offs and pickups for Sam and our niece.

Brian and I each have a few monthly commitments that seem to often fall in the same week. Those are the weeks that are not my favorite.  The meetups are good, but having too much in a single week makes me kind of crazy.

The color run we did last Friday night was fun.  I think everyone had a good time.  One of our nieces ran with Sam.  Brian ran with Eli.  Maggie and I had fun cheering them on along with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  It was a very relaxed event and it was nice to do something that was a new experience for all of us. 

I spent a good amount of time making art.  Challenging myself to share things that I truly love as part of my 100 day project has been a good thing.  I enjoy both the challenge, the making and the sharing.   (The two "rainbows" in the image above are some of my favorites so far from this project.)

I started using the Daylio app I just learned about this app last weekend.  It is a quick way to record what you've done over the course of your day and how you feel about your day.  The app collects your data and then will give you reports to help you see which activities correlate with great days and which correlate with bad days.

Obviously, the "bad" activities can't always be avoided and it is impossible to have 365 awesome days in a year.  But, if a large percentage of my "awesome" days include art and reading, I can strive to add art and reading to every day.

Actually, I pretty well already know that art and reading are important for my happiness.  I am curious to see what else I can add into (or take out of) my daily practice to help me have as many great days as possible.

We have no big plans for the weekend, but lots of possibilities.  We might try to get to the zoo for the first time this year.  I'm pretty sure we will hit up the library.  I ordered some plants through a fundraiser that need to be picked up tomorrow morning.  I am looking forward to planting them with the kiddos.  Plus church and Sunday School on Sunday morning.  I think it's going to be a good one.

Happy (almost) weekend, friend! 

Apr 13, 2018

AROUND HERE


The weather is crazy.  It is currently 78 degrees.  Woohoo!  A snowstorm with possible blizzard-like conditions is in the forecast for tomorrow.  What!?!  So the hot and the cold combo means that we could be in for thunderstorms and tornadoes this evening and through the night.  I'm curious to see how it will all play out. 

The good news out of all that is the 78 degrees.  We've had four days in a row with highs in the sixties or above and it has been wonderful.  We have spent SO much time outside and it has been a much needed change of pace.  Just being outside is great, but even better are all the interactions with neighbors.  It's given me a little glimpse into what our summer might be like this year and I'm liking it.    

I work this weekend.  This means that I've been working ahead a bit on some rainbow ideas.  It also means that I've been trying to get all the things crossed off my to do list in five days, rather than seven - which, honestly, is probably good for me. 


Brian and the boys are doing a "color run" this evening.  Assuming the weather is not stormy at race time, that is.  The race was originally scheduled for tomorrow (and I was going to have to miss it altogether), but they changed the date and time due to the potential snowstorm.  Maggie and I won't be participating, but I'm thankful that we will be there on the sidelines.  I'm looking forward to taking photos and seeing the kids' reactions to the running and to being inundated with color.  

My 30 day "Wake Up Before the Kids" challenge is going really well.  The difference in my energy level, mood and productivity is noticeable.  I haven't missed a day of 10,000 steps since I started waking up early again.  For me, waking up early means getting my first 1,000 steps in before attending to other chores or the kids' needs.  I don't speed walk, so it usually takes me about 10 minutes to walk 1,000 steps and I use that time to read a book using the Kindle App, pray and / or think through the list of things I need to accomplish for the day.  This challenge is just what I needed.  

Off to pack snacks and get the kids loaded up for school pick up time.  Happy weekend to you!     

Apr 10, 2018

100 DAYS OF RAINBOW FUN


Here we are in April and that means the start of a new 100 day project.  Whee! 

One week in and I'm already having so much fun with this one.  I love that I have a subject, but not a medium.  I love that the subject is so focused on "happy" and color and God's promises to his people.  I love how much less-stressed I feel about the project this year as compared to last year. 

In short, it's going well and I'm enjoying myself. 

There are 92 days to go and my list of ideas is far, far shorter than 92.  But, one by one, my list continues to grow and I have confidence that I will be able to share something each day of the challenge. 

Instagram is the place to see all that's happening.  My unique hashtag for the project is #100daysofrainbowfun and you can find all of the projects under #the100dayproject. 

Apr 6, 2018

LIFE CHECK IN: JAN-MAR 2018



For the past several years, I've chosen a guiding word to lead me through the year and give myself a lens through which to filter decisions.  I decided to take a break from this method in 2018.  Instead, I  made a fairly ambitious list of goals to work on throughout the year.  I've also kept myself accountable for reviewing those goals and my progress on a weekly basis. 

I'd say it's likely that I will move back toward choosing a word in future years.  I think it is a worthy method and there have been years when it has really shaped my actions and changed the way I've thought about my life.  It has also added a sort of emotional layer to my goals - a reason why specific goals are chosen and why they are worth my time. 

But for now, I feel pretty steady where I stand.  I know that staying true to myself and my values is important for my emotional well being - and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on all that.  Plus, a single word still hasn't jumped out at me.  So, I'm good with my beginning-of-the-year decision to skip the guiding word. 

With all that said, let's take a peek and see where things stand at the end of the first quarter of the year. 

Goals / 

As far as goals go, I'm happy with my progress thus far and I feel like the goals I've chosen to continue working on are still deserving of my time.

As of today, I have:
  • read 20 books. (Annual goal: 52) 
  • two of those books were spiritual. (Annual goal: 4)
  • finished one sewing project, started a second sewing project and have plans for a third. (Annual goal: 5)
  • completed 14 Project Life weekly layouts.  (Annual goal: 52)
  • created and printed several pages for the kids' scrapboooks, set up a system for photographing their artwork, papers and projects (Goal: buy an album for each kiddo and update regularly)
  • made plans to complete a Week In The Life album using the Project Life App in May (Goal: start and complete the album and print multiple copies so the kids can each have one.)
Life / 

Things are okay in my world.  These first three months of the year have been a mix of good days and days when I feel like I'm just reacting to what's in front of me. 

I've been getting more sleep and more consistent sleep (fewer middle of the night wake ups) than I've had in many years.  It's been really quite wonderful. 

I created and started using a "Rule of Six" to help keep our family life in line with our values.  I think it very well may be the best thing I've done as a parent.  It is amazingly rewarding to know that the small things we are doing on a daily and weekly basis are aligned with our long term goals and hopes.  (I promise to write a post about this in the near future.)

On the other hand, I've done very, very little exercise.  Bleh.  After another good stretch of feeling accountable to my Fitbit, I've fallen back off that bandwagon and haven't even been meeting my step goal.  And to go along with the lack of exercise, I've spent a lot of evenings sleeping on the couch.  As the evening winds down, I think I'm going to accomplish a project or two after the kids are in bed.  Then we get them to bed and I just fall onto the couch and stay there until Brian wakes me up to go to bed. 

And my big emotional weight of the moment is not knowing what's ahead for Eli and school.  There is a big homeschool or public school debate going on in my head and heart with a lot of factors that need to be considered.  We still have a year before we have to make a decision, but I find myself worrying about this all the time.  And I know that I just need to give this worrying up and pray, but I keep not doing that.  

So.  I'll take all this in from the glass-half-full point of few and recognize that I need to make a few changes and get to work implementing them.  

Cheers, friends.  I hope that life is good in your neck of the woods. 

Image: I created a vision board of sorts using Canva and printed it as an 8x10 photo print.    

Apr 4, 2018

A QUILT FOR MY SISTER



One of the big goals on my 2018 list is to complete a minimum of five sewing projects this calendar year.  And it wasn't hard for me to figure out what I wanted to tackle first.

My sister is an all-star knitter and has given me countless hand knit gifts over the past decade - all beautifully made and with the extra goodness that comes when gifts are made specifically for you.  I wanted to make her a gift in return - because she is my best friend and because I knew that she would appreciate the value of a handmade item and be accepting of the flaws that come along with that.

This is the fourth quilt I've made and that is the full extent of my sewing experience.  I feel like I both know what I am doing and have no idea what I am doing.  And, right now, I'm okay with that.  I enjoy learning as I go and I have a very strong "good enough" attitude when it comes to sewing.  It all works out.



For this quilt, I used the Broken Zig Zag pattern by Sarah Ruiz.  I read Sarah's blog and was excited to see that this pattern both fit my aesthetic and fit in the "beginner friendly" skill level.  It was my first time following a pattern and it was super exciting to see everything come together.  To be honest, I am kind of amazed that it turned out as well as it did - it truly was beginner friendly.

Hooray for my first sewing project of the year.  Now, I better get my buns in gear if I want to meet my goal by December 31.

And thanks to April and her cat, Leo, for the photos!

Apr 3, 2018

GOALS: MARCH AND APRIL


It's April!  Woohoo!  It's my birthday month and my sister (who shares my birthday with me) is named April.  So, it always feels like a special month.  I think it's going to be a good one.  First up a look at my March goals and how they turned out.  Then, I will share the goals I am setting for this month.  

March goals: 

1 / Order fishing licenses.  

Done and we could even just print out the paperwork on our home printer / save the PDFs to our phones.  I was expecting some tedium with this process and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.  

2 / Figure out clothing and have the kids' portraits taken.

Between items already in the kids' closets and a trip to Target, I got this figured out.  But Maggie had a 103 fever on the day we were supposed to get photos taken, so we had to reschedule for April.  

And, since I have a bit more time, I'm going to keep my eyes open for a different shirt for Eli.  I have something that will work, but don't love it.

3 / Prepare for and enjoy a trip to Illinois.

Done!  The travel days (seven hours of drive time each way) were not super fun, but we made it through with no major issues and really they weren't so bad.   We greatly enjoyed our time with my mom, step-dad and sister.

4 / Sew a tank top.  

Nope.  I've made exactly zero progress on this project.  

5 / Create a 20 book "to read" list.

Yes!  You can check it out here.  

6 / Clean out the flower beds.

Done.  And green things are now visible, making me excited for spring and summer flowers.  

7 / A daily writing practice.  

Fail. I gave up on this pretty quickly.  


April goals:

1 / Try Stitch Fix.  Finally.  

2 / Schedule a doctor appointment for myself.  


3 / First month of The 100 Day Project for 2018.  


4 / Secret Sewing Project started and finished.


5 / Do a "Wake Up Before The Kids" 30 day challenge.

6 / Write 5 blog posts.  (Including this one).

This list is perhaps a bit ambitious as the 100 Day Project and the sewing project are going to require a lot of time.  But maybe those extra minutes of awake time before the kids are up in the morning will help.  Also, I am anticipating some warmer weather (please?) and know that I usually feel more energetic when that comes our way.  


Mar 17, 2018

MY CURRENT "TO READ" LIST

Amazon links are affiliate. 


A few screenshots from my "Books" Collection on Instagram.  

It's been a long while since I've had a good "to read" list and this situation adds undue stress in my life.  Without a list, I tend to struggle with finding reading material that makes me excited to keep at it.  I end up wasting a lot of time in fruitless book browsing. 

To remedy this, I asked a few friends for suggestions and spent some time combing through saved posts in my "Books" Collection on Instagram.  I also looked at booklists via Pinterest.  I did some genre searches via Goodreads and was intrigued to learn that I've read almost all of the books that come up on the first several pages of the "literary fiction" search.  Although there is definitely some diversity in what I read, this genre seems to be my fall back. 

With a long list of potential books in hand, I spent a couple hours reading descriptions and reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. 

Although it took a lot more time than I anticipated, I managed to compile a list of 20 books that I am excited to get my hands on.

In no particular order, these are the books on my current "to read" list:

1 / What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
2 / The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
3 / Start with Amen by Beth Guckenberger
4 / And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrick Backman
5 / The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
6 / Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
7 / Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
8 / The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
9 / Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
10 / Going Into Town by Roz Chast
11 / Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly McGhee
12 / 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna Wiest
13 / Happiness: A Memoir by Heather Harpham
14 / The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
15 / Little Bee by Chris Cleave
16 / Exit West by Moshin Hamid
17 / Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
18 / The World to Come by Dara Horn
19 / Camp Austen by Ted Scheinman
20 / Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

And a few more things to share:

* This list includes two re-reads (Little Bee and The World to Come), both of which I remember that I enjoyed reading, but whose plots I don't recall. 

* Several of the authors on the list are new to me.  Once I find an author I like, I usually read more of their work.   So I am holding out hope that this list will lead me to more reading. 

* One step I didn't take when making this list was checking book availability at my local library.  I have a feeling that at least a few of these titles will not be available.  But, I'll hold out hope and consider purchasing a few, if need be.