Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Let Me Tell You How I'm Doing

Everyone I see asks me, "How are you doing?" (meaning how are you doing considering your second wedding in 7 weeks is just 3 days away! Even the teller at my bank knows about my summer of the weddings, and she is concerned for me too! My mechanic asked me if I was crazy yet when I went by to pay him for an oil change.

So, let me just tell you.
I am fine.

I am a little stressed, but overall, I am fine. There are at least one hundred things running through my mind, and I write down one more thing I cannot forget to do all. day. long.

Small Sam (my youngest child--not to be confused with Big Sam, my new son-in-law of almost 7 weeks) is sick. So sick that after 4 days of continuous fever, coughing, headache, sore throat, and goopy eyes, I finally took him to see Dr. Marcus today. He tested negative for strep and mono, but his blood count indicated some sort of bacterial infection, and his throat and eyes look terrible. Dr. Marcus prescribed an oral antibiotic and eye drops. He has not felt like doing much of anything but lying around since Sunday. I am hoping that after 48 hours of medication he will feel up to enjoying Olivia and Brian's rehearsal and dinner.

The men in my family all picked up their wedding suits today. They are gray, and I know they will all look so handsome in them!  I have been running errands every day and also cleaning my house. Oh. and the laundry. I washed, dried, folded, and carefully hung the last tablecloth for the wedding today. I think I have prepared 50 tablecloths! It has taken me the entire time since Julie's wedding to get those tablecloths washed. With 8 people living here (and I am so happy they all live here!), I am doing laundry all the time, and it has been difficult to squeeze in the washing of the tablecloths. But, yay! They are all done!

Tomorrow Olivia, and I are getting a pedicure in the morning, and I have a hair appointment after lunch. In between those two things I have a list of other errands. Brian arrived yesterday, and 5 college kids will be getting here after lunch tomorrow. Fun times!

One last thing on tomorrow's agenda:  Julie, Big Sam, and Clay are going on a 44 mile run/bike ride early tomorrow morning. Big Sam is running all 44 miles, Clay is riding all 44 miles, and Julie is running 26.2 miles and then bike riding the rest. Doesn't that sound like fun? My part in this fun activity is to follow them to the ending point (30 minutes away), then drive them and Julie's bike to the 26 mile point on the trail, and then take all three of them to the starting point of the trail (about an hour from our house). Then I will come home while they run and bike! And we are leaving at 4:00 AM for this excitement.

Now you know--I am fine!  :)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's Happening Again

Just like about seven weeks ago, as I sit here beginning my day with reading a Psalm, it hits me.
Olivia is leaving home for good.
In 6 short days she will marry Brian, and they will leave to begin their new life together--far away from us.
Olivia is such a ray of sunshine! I will miss her terribly.

The tears come again.

Where has the time gone? How in the the blink of an eye have my older girls gone from playing dolls and stuffed animals for hours and days on end to getting married and moving away?

"How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings."
Psalm 37:7

Under the shadow of the Lord's wings; that's the only place I can live right now. I can draw comfort from knowing that Olivia is in His hands. As she begins her new life with Brian, I know they have committed to keeping serving Jesus at the center of their marriage. 

My anxiety level is high. I have a million things to do in order to pull off wedding #2 smoothly.  My emotions are all over the place. Jimmy's beloved grandmother, Munu, passed away Friday night, and we are all mourning. She was such a godly lady and is leaving behind a wonderful legacy. Julie and Big Sam are leaving for Romania in 8 days. Clay begins college in about a month. The Lord knew that I would need two more children after my older three left home.....I am so glad I have Leah and Sam. I have said that a hundred times these last few months.  Having more children to mother full time is such a blessing to me.

Those who know me well know that I rarely cry.  But recently the tears come often and in unexpected places. Change is hard for me, and that is what I struggle with most. I am praying for wisdom as I begin a new chapter of my life--I have a new role now (mother-in-law), and the great thing about that is now I have more children! 

Like I wrote about earlier in this post the day before Julie was married,  I am purposing to choose joy. I love Jimmy with all my heart, and I want all my children to experience the same joy in their adult lives. Thanksgiving produces joy. I have said that over and over again, but it is true. When I feel overwhelmed I remind myself of my blessings, and the joy soon follows. Yes, it requires discipline to not give into the selfishness of "my children are all growing up and leaving me!", but being thankful that our God and Father has them in the palm of His hand brings me immeasurable comfort.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our 26th Wedding Anniversary

Well. I decided to share some new and never seen before pictures of our big day from 1991!

Jimmy looks like a baby!

Here is a full view of my magnificent dress!  Isn't my headdress the best ever? (Julie carefully cut lace off my dress to trim her wedding dress....and there is enough lace left for a few more wedding dresses.)

Here are my bridesmaids....They are all so pretty!
Stephanie, Jennifer, Geri, Kristi, Me, Sharon, Kim, Jenny, and Lori. Lovely ladies!

It's been a nice day.....Jimmy had to work until about 7:45, and I spent my day cleaning and doing laundry.  But all of my children are here at home (all 6 of them!), and I could not be happier with my life, my marriage, and my family.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Julie and Sam Have a Blog!

Julie and Big Sam have started a blog. I am so excited, and I know you will be too! We can all keep up with them on their Romanian adventure.

Here is the link:
The Peters Progress

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Words and Thoughts

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

In my Psalms reading this morning, this particular verse stood out. What a tall order--for my words and the meditation of my heart (my thoughts) to be acceptable in God's sight.  Lately my thoughts are anxious, so my words are sometimes less than acceptable in God's sight. I am working on this. The second part of the verse gives the solution...."O Lord my strength and my redeemer". On my own, I will fail every time. With God's help and with my willingness to submit my selfish desires to Him, I can hope to succeed in making my words and thoughts acceptable to Him. 

What's been going on:
  • Julie and Big Sam are married! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way. As soon as the photographer gets the pictures to me, I will share some. He texted me a is one of them.
  • The kids and I attended Rustic Youth Camp last week. My team of teachers (of the 3rd and 4th grade class) graciously allowed me to just be a helper for the week of camp since I am in the middle of two weddings! It was such a blessing to not have to spend hours preparing lessons and crafts and then packing and taking the whole house to camp! Thank you so much Beverly, Desiree', Chrystal, and Heather!
  • I am still washing tablecloths from Julie's wedding!  They must be washed and dried one at a time in order to get the wrinkles out. The wash cycle is 35 minutes, and the drying time is 20 minutes. I have to get them out of the dryer the second the dryer cuts off. Then I hurriedly lay the tablecloth on my bed and fold it carefully before hanging it on a hanger. I think I have washed, dried, folded, and hung 23 so far. We used about 40 at Julie's wedding, so I still have many left. I also have some additional tablecloths that are new that we will also need for Olivia's wedding. They must be washed and dried before using them because they have hard wrinkles in them from the packaging. I think I have about 50 tablecloths to prepare in all for Olivia's rehearsal dinner and wedding reception.
  • I'm slowing increasing my running miles. I have really let myself get out of shape with the traveling and wedding planning. I also starting rowing yesterday. I plan to row 3 days a week to hopefully strengthen my shoulder (that I injured doing CrossFit). I hope to go back to CrossFit class in July. 
Today Olivia and I have a long to-do list for her wedding.

Friday, June 2, 2017

I Choose Joy

"I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9: 1-2

Today I choose joy. 

My precious Julie will be married tomorrow. 
Today I have one thousand things on my to-do list, the bulk of which will take place beginning at 8:00 this morning at the wedding venue. I am meeting my BFFs, my wedding planners extraordinaire, Lynn and Leanna, there for us to work our magic! I have packed my SUV like a game of Tetris, and I have many more items to load into the back of Jimmy's truck, including an arbor he built (absolutely beautiful), four ferns, and a keyboard and bench. 

I slept poorly last night, thinking of all I had to do today. I am also a little nervous to let my child go. And the tears fall.

So I get out my Bible to try to begin my day in the right frame of mind. I turn to the Psalms where I read from each morning to get my mind on God, praising Him, petitioning Him, reminding myself that He is in control. Psalm 9 begins with the psalmist praising God with his whole heart. That's how I can choose joy today in spite of my personal feelings of being overwhelmed by the tasks before me. In spite of the fact that I am entering into a new and unfamiliar stage of life. My whole heart must be focused on praising God and His goodness. I will be glad and rejoice in Him. 

I could not be happier for sweet Julie and the life she will begin with her beloved Sam tomorrow. They are both mature; Christ and serving Him is the center of their lives. They are both smiling continually, and their joy is contagious! 

People ask me how am I coping with "losing two daughters at once". First of all, I am not losing them! I am gaining two more children when they marry. Sure, I could be selfish and focus on myself, my feelings, my "loss", but would that be right? Instead, I choose joy. What more can a mother ask than for her children to marry godly spouses? Men who will love her daughters and take care of them. Men who love the Lord and will strive to keep Christ at the center of their lives.

But mostly I comfort myself with this thought......I am so happy in my life. I love my husband. I love my children. Jimmy and I have had such a full life so far. Of course we have had bumps along the way, but overall, I am living my dream of being a full-time wife, homemaker and mother. I get to homeschool my children. I get to spend my days serving my family....And that is what I want for my children. 

If I don't let them grow up and leave our nest, then they will never experience the joy of marriage and parenting that Jimmy and I have delighted in. They must leave to have their own families and lives and to one day face their own children growing up and leaving home. 

So today, I chose joy. Joy in the future that awaits Julie and Big Sam. Joy in the fact that the Lord will comfort me as I experience many emotions over the next couple of days. Joy in the fact that God loves Julie infinitely more than I do, and she is in His care and protection.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

One Week From Today

Well. Wedding #1 is one week from today. Julie and Sam's wedding. I am not quite ready!

Here's what's been going on since I last blogged on May 2:

  • We hosted several of Olivia and Julie's college friends for a weekend while they all came to run the Coke 10K race. We bought new bunk beds for Sam's room for this occasion which sleep 5! The beds are two double beds bunked with a twin trundle bed. I only put 3 college boys on these beds, but I am thinking that 5 future grandchildren can sleep there just fine.
  • Our family also ran the Gumtree 10K the following week.
  • Clay graduated, and we had a huge party to celebrate the occasion at our home. It was supposed to be an outdoor BBQ, but it rained and rained, so I had to host 94 people inside my house! I was able to seat 42 people in tables and chairs on my porches. Still, it was fun and crowded!
  • Our family of seven took a short vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Except we did not do much hiking in the snowed. Three feet of snow in 24 hours! We have never experienced snow like that before! We stayed in a cabin in Estes Park. The first day, before the snowstorm hit, we were able to do three hikes. The next two days we played in the snow and even tried to drive into the park to explore (unsuccessfully!). The last day we drove to Boulder, Colorado, where we were able to drive up to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. We took a few picture there in the snow before heading down to explore the Pearl Street Mall.
  • This last week I have done wedding stuff every single day. This included counting and sorting tablecloths, vases, lanterns, and candles, shopping for ribbon, fabric to drape over the arbor and various other items, taking the program to the printer, picking up Olivia's invitation envelopes (the outer and inner envelopes were printed), and much more.
  • Last night Leanna and I spray painted 38 clear vases gold and silver speckled. 
  • I've had my final meetings with the caterer and florist. 
  • Lynn and Leanna have been diligently working to plan the flow and flip of the ceremony and reception. I am so thankful for both of them, and there is no way I could pull off these weddings without their help. 
  • Julie finished her wedding dress and veil, and they are both beautiful!
  • Olivia's dress is hemmed and ready as well. Both gowns and dresses along with bridesmaids dresses are all hanging in the closet.

I actually have so much to say about our fun and busy month of May, and I have lots of pictures to share. I really hope I can find time to do that! 

Big Sam will fly in Tuesday! He will stay with us until the night before the wedding. I am sending all guests to a hotel for Friday and Saturday nights. :) After that, the Johnson Hotel will reopen for business. Julie and Sam have not seen each other since the beginning of January, so they are both super excited! Their plan is to come back here after their honeymoon and some other traveling they need to do (Sam will be giving reports to the churches that have supported him the last year). They will stay with us until after Olivia's wedding on July 22. Then they will fly to their new home in Romania. 

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The College Girls Are Home

Leah and I drove down to Tampa last Monday.  We made record time....11 hours and 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the trip back also took record time:  the longest drive to or from Tampa ever...14 hours, 25 minutes. What a trip!  I pulled a Uhaul trailer behind my SUV with Olivia, Leah, and Sam as passengers. Clay drove Julie in the girls' college car. We encountered numerous traffic jams due to wrecks and construction, and every stop took longer than usual because I am not the best parker when pulling a trailer.

A few details. Leah and I listened to Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle on Audible. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think I liked it better than Leah did. It was only 6 hours, so that was perfect to listen to on our trip. We alternated listening to the book and Leah watching movies (with headphones) while I listened to podcasts.

I spent last Tuesday packing up Julie's dorm room and Wednesday packing up Olivia's. I can't believe how much stuff they have! It almost did not even fit in the Uhaul and our two vehicles. On Thursday I finished up the packing and did some cleaning. My parents, Jimmy, Clay, and Sam arrived Thursday afternoon. We all attended Olivia's Senior Coin Ceremony which is where each senior presents a commemorative coin to a teacher or staff member that had the greatest impact on him or her during their four years of college. Olivia presented her coin to her dorm mother, Momma B. Momma B has been invaluable to both Olivia, Julie, and me too!

Friday our family explored Lettuce Lake Park near our hotel, and then we attended two graduations! Julie received her Associate of Arts Degree at 3:00, and then Olivia received her Bachelor's Degree at 7:30. Both girls graduated with highest honors, and I am so proud of them.

Jimmy and my parents flew back early Saturday morning (Jimmy had to be at work at 4:00 PM), and the children and I finally got on the road at 10:30 AM. We finally arrived home just before midnight CST.

Olivia and Julie are diligently unpacking and sorting through all their college belongings. I think things multiplied in their dorm rooms. I am not sure where are going to put all this stuff! We unloaded the cars and Uhaul into my schoolroom. I moved Leah and Sam's schoolbooks to my kitchen because you cannot even walk in my schoolroom!

It actually looks a lot worse than this picture right now because they have started going through the boxes.

The final days of wedding planning are in full force, and next week is filled with Clay's graduation, the kids' piano recital, and Clay's graduation party. Fun and busy times!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

15 Minutes Again

Yesterday, blogging for 15 minutes proved to be successful for me, so I'm doing it again!

Jimmy was given The Daily Bible by one of the elders in our church a few years ago. In January of 2016 he began reading it, and he liked it so much that he started it again on January 1 of this year. Around the beginning of February I decided that I would like to read this Bible too, so I ordered one. Initially I wanted to double or triple my daily readings and catch up to the correct calendar date, but after a couple of weeks of this I realized that I would not catch up anytime soon. So, I decided to just skip to the actual day's reading and just read from there. Perfect!  Now Jimmy and I are reading the same passage each day, and we can discuss it if we want. Leanna also purchased this Bible and began reading on the current day, so we can discuss it too while we are running if we like. Clay has this Bible, and I plan to buy one for Leah to begin reading January 1, 2018.  I don't think Sam is ready for this amount of daily Bible reading yet, but I will probably go ahead and get him a copy of this Bible so he can begin when he is ready. He currently reads one chapter of his Bible each day.

Olivia and Julie are both graduating on April 28. Olivia will be receiving her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, and Julie will be receiving her Associate's degree in English. One ceremony is at 3:00, and the other one is at 7:30. Clay will be graduating high school on May 9. Lots of graduations, weddings, showers, and parties going on around here!  We are also squeezing in a short family (just the 7 of us) vacation to the Rocky Mountains before the weddings.

I recently finished a book called The Year of Living Danishly. It was fascinating! It is the one year memoir of a young woman and her husband living in Denmark while he worked for Lego. They are originally from England. I enjoyed reading about the culture and traditions of Denmark and how  Helen adjusted (or tried to adjust!). I have several books on my shelf just waiting for me to read! I also just finished The Westing Game (for my English class--our fun book for the year), and yesterday was also our last class for the school year. So now I will have more time to read for pleasure.

Oops! I just checked my timer because I thought surely it had been more than 15 minutes. Yes. It has been 20 minutes! I accidentally set my time for 1 hour, 15 minutes, not just 15 minutes!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm Still Here

It doesn't seem possible that it's been a month since I last blogged. I am still here--still wedding planning, homeschooling, traveling, cooking, cleaning, hosting, etc.,

I just set my timer for 15 minutes, and I will end this post when the time is up. I figured 15 minutes is better than nothing. I keep waiting for that perfect big block of time to catch up on my blogging, and since it never comes I thought I would try this strategy.

Today is Olivia's birthday! As I have done for the four years she has been in college, (has she been in college that long?) I mailed her a "birthday in a box". This is basically a box of wrapped birthday gifts. One year we decorated the mailing box, but this year I did good to actually get the package in the mail on time!

Wedding planning--here's an update:

  • After trying on many, many dresses in many, many stores I finally ordered a dress online from JJs House. I ordered it in navy blue. I decided on that color at the last minute to match a tie that Jimmy will wear in the wedding. His tie has shades of purple and blue and will look nice with both my dress and the purple bridesmaids dresses.
  • Last month Lynn, Leanna, and I spent 8 hours at both girls' wedding venues making our decorating and logistical plans. I dreamed that night of vases, chairs, flowers, and counting in multiples of 7. (We counted and recounted chairs and tables and tried to keep it all straight).
  • I ordered Olivia's wedding invitations last night.
  • I mailed Julie's wedding invitations last week. The replies have begun trickling in. I am keeping track of the responses in three places:  on a spreadsheet on my laptop, on a printout of the spreadsheet, and in a notes document on my phone. 
  • Lynn, Leanna, and I met with the caterer last night one (almost) final time to discuss and plan Julie's reception.
  • I met with the florist to discuss both girls' weddings. He was very helpful, and I think all is well in the floral department.
  • Lynn, Leanna, and I took inventory of the wedding items I borrowed from a friend and I bought the remaining vases I will need.
  • I placed a huge order for white tablecloths, tulle, ribbon, round mirrors, and table runners (things I need for both girls' receptions). It was cheaper for me to buy tablecloths than to rent them. The two websites I used for this are and

Well, my 15 minutes is up!
I hope to post again soon.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Blog Post

So every day I put blog on my to-do list, and every day I never get to check it off.

Here goes......Last Thursday we went camping in our tiny house camper. The weather was perfect, and we had such a great time! We hiked many miles and cooked yummy food over the campfire. I am not through sewing curtains for the camper, but when I get them finished I plan to share pictures of our cute tiny house pop-up camper! So far I have only recovered the dinette cushions and bought color coordinated bedding, pillows, baskets, etc. I am using navy and turquoise (no pink because the boys said, "please, no pink!)

Wedding Update: not much

  • ordered wedding memory books for both girls
  • ordering hostess gifts for their showers today
  • pondering when and where to buy a dress for me for both weddings
  • planned an all day wedding planning extravaganza for tomorrow--Lynn, Leann, and I are meeting at 8:30 AM to get a lot of stuff done.
  • most of the items we ordered during Spring Break have arrived
I am almost through reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I really like this book. It's my third time to read it, and I enjoy it more every time. We are reading this book in my senior English class. I am not sure they appreciate it as much as I do!  They are happy that I am not making them write a paper about it. We are doing business writing (business letters, resumes, and job applications) instead. And they have an 1800 word research paper due next week. 

We had our first track meet last Tuesday. It was Leah's first one, and she ran well. She and Clay both ran the 1 mile and the 800m, and Leah also ran the 4 x 800 relay. We got home around 11:00 PM. Fun.

I have gradually begun running again. (My CrossFit injury from many weeks ago has really slowed me down.) This week I have run 2 times!  2.5 miles on Monday and yesterday a long run with Leanna of 4 miles! Baby steps. I know that if I jump in too fast with too many miles I will get a running related injury in my knee or IT band. So, I am easing into the miles. I am running the Coke 10K on May 6, so my goal is to do that in under an hour. 

That's about all.

Oh. I haven't forgotten about Better Than Before. Keep reading! I'll blog about it soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Our Spring Break

My college girls have come and gone! What a week it was!

They landed in Memphis last Saturday morning at 9:05 AM, and our whole family was so, so happy when they arrived home. Sadly, we left at 7:15 AM this morning to drive them to the Birmingham airport. They have safely arrived back in Tampa.

Our week was full of wedding planning (lots accomplished) and visiting grandparents. Plus they had schoolwork. Yuk! I felt so sorry for them having to do school during their break. Jimmy had to work every single day they were home, and that was super sad too. All five children spent most of one day helping out with Jimmy's momma, and I spent most of my week at the Tupelo hospital with my sick mama. (She went home yesterday and is doing so much better). Even though I was pulled in several different directions, it was all good. I got to spend time with my parents (although not under the best circumstances), and I had lots of time with Olivia and Julie too.

Here is what we accomplished regarding the weddings:

  • took both wedding dresses to the alterations lady to be marked for hemming and bustling.
  • ordered personalized napkins for each girls' wedding cake table
  • ordered personalized thank you notes for each girl
  • ordered Love stamps for the wedding invitations
  • reserved 17 men's suit rentals for both weddings (17 in all for both)
  • Julie's wedding invitations came in, but the outer and inner envelopes were printed in the wrong font. It's all ok though. I contacted the company, and they reprinted them, and they have already shipped.
  • Julie's bridesmaid dresses for Leah and Olivia arrived. They both fit perfectly and need no alterations.
  • Both girls registered at Belk, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Walmart, and Kohl's for wedding gifts.
  • Both girls finalized their choices for bride's and bridesmaids' bouquets, boutonnieres for the men, flower girl hair pieces, and all other flowers as well. I will meet with the florist very soon.
I think that's all!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

We Have a New Dog

Just what we needed! Another dog.

When we came home from camping last Saturday, a brown dog was at our house. He was happy to see us! He had made himself right at home with our other three outside dogs, Ribsy, Pokey, and Lady.
We spent a couple of days trying to decide if he would make our home his new home. I called my neighbor down the road to see if she knew of anyone who was missing a brown dog. She did not. I waited to see if he would go back where he came from. He did not.

On Monday, he injured himself trying to jump over a fence to get to where Leah was. He got hung, but Clay promptly rescued him. He immediately began limping.....I kept waiting for him to get better, but no. Yesterday we could not find him at all until about 2:00. Clay found him on one of our trails, and he was not moving. So, I called the vet to see if I could bring "Brown Dog" in for assessment. Since we only welcome dogs with infirmities to the Johnson Rehabilitation Center, I knew that he would most likely have health issues.

And he did. The vet's report included a spinal sprain (treated by pain meds and anti-inflammatory medication), heart worms (all of our dogs come with heart worms!), and a variety of intestinal worms. Of course. They began treatment for all of that plus scheduled surgery to neuter him this morning. I ordered him a shocking collar (all dogs who live on our land have to have their surgery and wear a shocking collar so they won't get hit by a car), and we will pick him up tomorrow morning.

We still haven't named Brown Dog. The kids are trying to decide on the perfect name.

In case you're counting, that brings our pet population to a total of 8. Three inside cats, one inside dog, and four outside dogs. And I'm really not an animal person!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Do Everything At Once

That's how I am feeling lately. I alternate between being stress paralyzed and doing five things all at once. I keep reminding myself how to eat an bite at a time.

Wedding Planning Update:

  • I am entering the names and addresses online into a database for the outer and inner envelopes to be printed for Julie's wedding invitations. This is way more involved than I anticipated. I have done 15 so far. I have about 200 to go! I have already typed the guest list in a spreadsheet document with tabs for several different categories of guests. My columns include name, address, RSVP, and estimate. The estimate column is where I guessed how many, if any people from each family would attend the wedding. This is the number I used to determine how much food to order from the caterer. As I get RSVPs (and I really, really hope people will respond--I am including an email address and number to text for responses), I will adjust my estimate for a hopefully final accurate headcount for the caterer.  I thought I could use this same document and just email or upload it to the invitation website, but of course it has not been that simple. I have to type each entry on the invitation's website, one at a time! will not save them to use again for Olivia's invitations!  So I am going to price having them printed locally, if I can just give them my spreadsheet or upload it somehow, and if it is not too expensive.
  • I printed out the wedding ideas photos. 
  • I met with the caterer for Olivia's wedding and planned her reception.
  • I decided I may want a different dress to wear for Olivia's wedding.
  • I scheduled the alterations of Olivia's wedding dress while she is home for spring break.
  • I researched and compiled options for Olivia's rehearsal dinner and sent them to Joy. (Believe it or not, this took almost four hours.)
  • Julie's finance', Big Sam, has gotten all but one of the groomsmen/usher's measurements for the suit rentals. Yay Big Sam!  :)
My back/shoulder/neck is still bothering me. I tried to do some housework yesterday, and I simply could not. My house is getting really dirty! The kids are helping me clean, and I am so thankful for that. I am really hoping that by next Monday I will be as good as new and can spend the week catching up on housework. 

Camper Update:  I have bought all kinds of cute dishes, towels, bedding, and such for our tiny little camper. I also have bought pretty fabric to make curtains and cover the dinette cushions. However, I have not found the time to do any sewing. The kids are anxious for me to make our camper cute....maybe I can sew some today. 

Happy Thursday to you!

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about Better Than Before. I had to finish Huckleberry Finn for my English class, and I haven't made time to read the next chapter in Better Than Before.  I will this weekend. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just Checking In

Hello! I thought I would check in on this beautiful Friday morning! The temperature is supposed to be almost 80 this afternoon here in Mississippi. I want to do school outside today! We just might do that.

The kids are at the track right now running. I stayed behind because I did not want to be that mom that takes her kids to the track to run and just sits in the car! I normally run or at least walk when I take them (it makes me feel better to be exercising too instead of just watching them), but since I am still struggling with this strained/pulled/broken forever trapezius muscle, I am unable to do anything really. It's been 11 days since I injured it! 11 days! It even hurts to walk for very long, so I am not running of course. I am getting a little antsy without regular exercise. And my house is getting dirtier and dirtier because I certainly cannot vacuum or mop!

Anyway. I have been pinning and planning things for our little pop-up camper while I am resting. We are taking it out for the first time soon, and I hope to have everything all ready. It will certainly be a learning experience the first few times we camp. I really cannot even imagine how it will be!

We have had a productive school week. In addition to their regular subjects like math, grammar, spelling, etc., Leah and Sam are still learning about the presidents and each of our fifty states. Each morning we spend 15-30 minutes reading about and making a page for our notebook for either a president (in random order) or a state (in alphabetical order). When both projects are complete, I plan to bind the state pages in some sort of book. The president pages are 3-hole punched and are going into a decorated binder.  We are also slowly working our way through Sonlight Core F which is the Eastern Hemisphere. We are studying China right now.

I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend! I hope to clean out my refrigerators. Fun!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Podcasts I Like

I discovered the world of podcasts several months (or even over a year?) ago. I began with Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast, and I started at the beginning and listened to every single episode. I have since added Northeast COC, The Big Boo Cast, Side Hustle School, and Note to Self to my podcast library. I subscribe to all of these, and I download and listen to them whenever I can.  My normal podcast listening times are when I am in the car alone running errands or driving to the airport (about a 2 hour drive). Our whole family used to listen to the Florida College Daily Chapel podcasts until they switched to livestreaming chapel and dropped the podcast format.  Occasionally the kids will listen to podcasts with me--we will listen to sermons as a family while traveling--but the only podcast that I regularly listen to that holds their interest is Side Hustle School. So I usually just listen when I am alone. Sometimes I listen to podcasts when I am running outside.

Here is a little overview of each podcast I like. (I don't know how to include a link to the podcasts.....I just did a search in the podcast app on my iPhone to find the podcasts.  Then I subscribed to each one, and just like magic, a new episode appears on the feed on my phone whenever it is published.)

  • Happier With Gretchen Rubin:  Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth discuss a variety of happiness related topics, usually within the framework of the four personality tendencies that Gretchen has developed. The share a happiness hack (a handy tip), a happiness stumbling block, reader questions, and gold stars and demerits. They also sometimes interview guests, which I always find interesting.  The podcast is light-hearted and fun, and sometimes I even laugh out loud at Gretchen and Elizabeth.
  • Northeast COC: These are the weekly recorded sermons of our preacher, Trey Haskett. Trey has been working with our congregation since July, and he is such a good speaker. He is very knowledgable of God's Word, and his sermons are practical, encouraging, and inspiring. 
  • The Big Boo Cast: If you need a good laugh, then listen to any of Boo Mama's (Sophie) and Big Mama's (Melanie) podcasts. I have not listened to all of them, but I plan to start at their very first episode and get caught up. Leanna described this podcast the best...."It's like listening in on their phone conversations!" Sophie and Melanie talk about everything and nothing, and it is so entertaining! Some of their topics include kitchen renovations, skin care, fashion, TV shows (which I never know what they are talking about since we don't have cable!), their supper plans, and their daily life. Such a fun podcast!
  • Side Hustle School:  This is a new podcast, just launched on January 1 of this year. Chris Guillebeau hosts a daily, yes 7 days a week, podcast featuring stories of people with successful side-hustles. I learned that a side-hustle is a part time job that you have in addition to your normal full-time job. The people and the their stories are fascinating to me! Each podcast is about 7-8 minutes, so they are perfect for a short drive in the car. Like I said earlier, Leah and Sam will listen to this one without complaint. 
  • Note To Self:  Manoush Zomorodi is the host of this podcast about how technology affects our daily life. Sometimes the episodes are a little weird (to me), but overall I really enjoy them. I have not listened to all of them. I usually pick and choose based on the title and content description. I am especially interested in the episodes concerning our digital privacy. Fascinating. One of my favorite Note To Self podcasts is actually a series from last year Manoush did chronicling two working mothers and their quest to launch an app to help working mothers with their homemaking responsibilities. I was struck by the struggle they face balancing work, marriage, and parenting. Very interesting. I will say that this blog features content that is really far removed from my daily life, but that is one reason I like it so much. People can be so different in so many ways, but also we are the same. 
What about you? Do you listen to any podcasts? Do you think I would like to add them to my playlist?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Club Week 9

Hello! It's time discuss Week 9 of Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. This week's chapter is titled, "Temporary Becomes Permanent. Clean Slate."

But let me begin by finishing up last week's chapter concerning stopping. As in when to stop a habit or how to prevent stopping a habit that you don't want to stop. As Gretchen notes on page 110, travel, vacation, sickness in either you or in a family member, new baby, new job, or anything else similar can cause you stop your good habits. This can be temporary, or unfortunately, these life events can derail your good habits indefinitely. It doesn't have to be this way!

I like to give myself permission to stop certain habits when certain life events happen. That way I don't stress about it and I just jump right back in when my life and routine gets back to normal. For example, when I am traveling or on vacation, usually I don't even plan to run. I just know that I am taking those days off. No worries. I'll begin running again when I get home.

Another example relates to my making Jimmy's lunch for him to take to work each day. This has been my habit ever since we were first married. My packing his lunch saves us money and also gives him a healthy lunch. But, there have been seasons of my life when I did not pack his lunch. These times included when I was suffering from extreme morning (all day) sickness with each pregnancy, when I had a newborn and was sleeping in with the baby since I had been up all night, and when I was recovering from surgery. As soon as I was back to my old self in those situations, I began packing Jimmy's lunch again. Just because I had to stop temporarily, did not mean that I stopped forever.

Now on to Clean Slate. What are some events in your life that have served as a clean slate? What day of the week do you like to begin something new? Which month?

I always like to begin new habits on Mondays, and I consider January 1 and August 1 (or whatever day I begin a new school year) as clean slate days. I strongly agree with Gretchen that how you begin your habits is how you will continue to do them. (Rubin 116)

As you begin the new work week, try to think about stopping or not stopping a habit and also what days or seasons serve as a clean slate for you to begin a new productive habit.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Three Things

1. We recently bought a pop-up camper, and as I organize and decorate it I will share pictures. I will also share our adventures in our new tiny house camper!

2. One of my soon to be sons-in-law (Olivia's finance', Brian) has a new blog. Here is the link.

3. I tweaked the subscribe feature to my blog. If you would like an email with a copy of my post each time I blog, just click on that box and enter your email address. I used my wedding planning email address to sign up and try it out, and there seems to be about a 24 hour delay from the time I post on my blog until I receive the email. Try it out!

I'll post tomorrow on Better Than Before. I will finish up discussing last week's chapter as well as delve into the next chapter. It's called, "Temporary Becomes Permanent".

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday's Progress

I have had such a productive day!  Yay!

I left for Sam's and Kroger to buy my weekly groceries at 7:10AM, and I was home by 9:00AM. Then after unloading and putting away the groceries, I began my computer work. I completed our paperwork for our taxes, and I will submit them to the accountant on Monday. What a load off my mind! Next, I completely prepared for my English class for this Wednesday. That is another load off my mind. I have some extra appointments this week (a doctor checkup and a hair appointment), so I really wanted to have all my school prep done before the new week began. After that I did some wedding work!

Here is what I have checked off my wedding planning list:

  • Ordered bridesmaids dresses for Olivia's wedding for Leah and Julie
  • Uploaded the pictures of wedding ideas to the memory stick. I will print those out Monday when I am in town.
  • Finalized Julie's wedding guest list, double checked the names and addresses, and gathered a few lacking addresses. 
  • Researched, pondered, texted Leanna a hundred times, and finally decided on the wording for Julie's wedding invitations! I also included "the favor of your reply' cards. Leanna and I researched and pondered the spelling for favor vs. favour. We went with favor.  I have not actually submitted the order for the invitations yet because I am awaiting a promo code from my "Wedding Invitation Specialist" via text or email. :) This lady was assigned to me after I ordered several invitation samples. 

A little side story:
I have injured myself, again doing Crossfit. I have battled this same shoulder/neck/upper back/only on the right side pain on and off since last April. It improved over the summer, but I re-injured myself back in the fall. I modified my workouts to eliminate the exercises I felt were contributing to the pain, but until I took off 6 six weeks in December and January, I was not completely pain free. 
So I began going back to Crossfit about 3 weeks ago. I attended 4 classes and was doing just fine. Then this past Monday....well, during the workout, I felt just fine. But by Tuesday, I knew something was wrong, and by Thursday I was in much pain. So much so that I could not run. Or walk, or brush my teeth, or use my right arm in any way without pain. 

I actually went to my family doctor Thursday to see if I had any major injury that I should do something about more than rest. He tactfully suggested that I may need avoid the weightlifting that I knew was causing the injury! He never came out and said I was too old for Crossfit, but encouraged me to stay active in non-pain causing forms of exercise! :) I am taking a lot of Motrin and Tylenol and one 20mg steroid yesterday and one today. That has helped me so much! The dr. told me to completely rest from exercising until I was pain free. I plan to run as soon as doing so doesn't hurt my shoulder.

I also plan to go back to Crossfit class later next week. I will avoid all presses/weightlifting/snatches, etc. that aggravate my shoulder. I guess I will just be doing box jumps and burpees! Fun! It doesn't seem like pull-ups or rowing hurt my shoulder. I know you are thinking, "Why don't you just quit doing Crossfit?" Well. I really like my class. I would go to socialize with my friends even if we didn't do the workouts!

How was your Saturday?

Friday, February 17, 2017

How's The Wedding Planning Going?

I'm pretty sure I get asked that question every single day. Except maybe on the days I don't leave my house. I really don't mind the question, but the answer is, "It's going okay."

Here's the deal. I have great aspirations every morning as I write out my to do list. Almost every day I put a little box to check off right beside the words, "wedding planning". And almost every day that little box goes unchecked. Again.

What is happening you ask? Well, my days are already so full of my normal routines which include Bible study, laundry, exercise, cooking multiple meals, cleaning the kitchen over and over again, more laundry, homeschooling, running errands, making phone calls, paying bills, doing online work, checking schoolwork, housework, after school activities, and on and on. Just the same things most of you are doing every day. So, at the end of the day I never had any time to open up the wedding binders and do some work. I have no margin in my days.

A few weeks ago I thought I could block out two hours each Thursday afternoon to do wedding work. I did that one Thursday! I accomplished a lot, but I have not had that block of time again. Last week I was out of town, and yesterday I cooked and delivered a meal to a friend who had broken her ankle. (Which was very enjoyable!) I plan to work on the weddings tomorrow. I do! (After I do our taxes.) (If I still have time or brain cells left after that fun task.)

In the spirit of being positive, let me share what I have done so far in the wedding planning department!

  • Julie's dress is finished except for hemming and steaming (Thanks to my wonderful, hard-working mother.)
  • Olivia's dress is bought. (It will be marked for hemming during her Spring Break).
  • I have a dress for Olivia's wedding. (It needs altering.)
  • I have shoes for Julie's wedding.
  • Julie has wedding shoes.
  • I have reserved the venues, florist, photographers, pianist, cake maker, and caterer for both weddings.
  • I have the final menu planned and ordered for Julie's wedding.
  • Julie's bridesmaids dresses for Olivia and Leah are ordered.
  • Addresses for Julie's wedding and our family's invitees for Olivia's wedding have been typed into a spreadsheet. 
  • Julie and Sam have obtained their marriage license. (He's not coming back to the States until four days before the wedding....both Jimmy and I have to be present for them to get the marriage license (because Julie is not 21), and Jimmy will not be off work any of those days between May 31 and June 2 in order to go the courthouse, so we all four went to the courthouse in January before Big Sam went back to Romania.) We took lots of pictures! Their marriage license is in our lock box. :)

That leaves a long, long list of things left to do! Here are my goals for this weekend:
  • Order Julie's wedding invitations (I'm having the company address the inner and outer envelopes as well as the return address, so I have to have all my addresses ready to go before ordering. That has taken some time.)
  • Order Olivia's bridesmaids dresses for Julie and Leah. (She has just made her final decision on what she wants.
  • Look online for a dress for Julie's wedding and shoes for Olivia's wedding (for me).
  • Upload all the pictures of our wedding ideas (flowers, decorations, etc.) on a memory stick and take them to Walmart to be printed. Then I will have photos to show the florist, cake maker, Leanna, and Lynn. This will assist us all in our planning and execution of the big days.
Then there are all the numerous tiny details. Things like the guest registry, seating signs, collect reception decorations, what to throw at the bride and groom as they leave, stamps for the invitations, order tablecloths, wedding programs, gifts, welcome baskets, hotel reservations, music lists, shoes, men's suits, and many more.

I am enjoying the wedding planning very much! I am going to get better at working on it on a more regular basis. Maybe I should carve out 15-20 minutes each day instead of waiting for that big block of time. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Better Than Before Book Club Week 8

Well hello there!

I was in Florida all last week for the Florida College Lectures. We were able to visit friends from Jimmy's medical school days on our way in Dothan, Alabama. Vicki and Tim were such gracious hostesses, and we enjoyed our time with them so much. We spent the rest of the week with Olivia and Julie plus many other friends. Olivia is student teaching this semester so we did not see her as much as we did Julie. But it was so good spending time with my girls!

We drove the 12.5 hour drive home last Friday, and I spent Saturday doing loads of laundry and catching up after being gone for almost a week. Saturday night we attended Family Bible Study at Kelly and Lynn's house. It was so good to be back among our own church family.

Last night, our friends Michael and Beverly were traveling through Tupelo on their way home from Alabama, and they attended evening church services with us, and then we all (along with Leanna and Joe and their family) enjoyed a delicious dinner together at Fairpark Grill.

So today was back to normal. Well almost. I had the bright idea this morning to make homemade Pop Tarts. My normal morning routine includes running a few miles either outside or on my treadmill while the kids are getting up, eating breakfast, and doing their chores. Sometimes I finish before I wake them up, sometimes I don't start until after they are awake, and sometimes I run a little bit--stop to wake them up--and then finish running while they get ready for school. Our goal is to begin our school day at 8:00 AM. This morning I began the pop-tart project at 6:50. I figured I would whip them up, wake the kids, and then run while the pop-tarts were baking.

Wrong. It was 8:05 before the pop tarts were ready. I never ran, and my kitchen was a mess!
But they were delicious!  Here is a link to the recipe I used.

So on to our book club. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

How is your reading coming along? Are you applying any lessons or ideas to your daily life?

I really like this chapter, It's Enough to Begin. First Steps. Begin now is such good advice. There will never be the perfect time to begin any habit or project, so just do it now. I am going to apply this advice to myself. Leah's and Sam's closets (well, actually Sam's entire room) need major purging and reorganizing. I mean I need to take every single thing out of Leah's closet and just start over! Most of the clothes and shoes in her closet do not even fit her or are not her style. That's because of two reasons. 1. She is growing like a weed--already taller than me! and 2. Many of her clothes are hand-me-downs from her college-aged sisters and they just don't look right on her. I guess styles do change over time, even though I try to avoid trendy clothes.

 So. To apply the best time to begin is now advice to myself, I plan to work for 30 minutes in Leah's closet tonight. This will also use the advice of small steps (Rubin 105).  Leah's closet certainly seems overwhelming, and I have put it off for some time now waiting for the perfect huge block of time. Hopefully over the next week or two I can get Leah's room completely cleaned out and then move onto Sam's. Which will be a monumental task. Can I just say two words? Legos and stuffed animals. Both have multiplied out of control in Sam's room!

What are your thoughts on transition rituals? (Rubin 108-109)
I like my transition from sleep to kids. I also like my transition from kids to sleep. When my babies (and toddlers and even pre-school aged children...and even older) needed me to rock them to sleep or lie down with them until they fell asleep, I happily did that. I did not even mind if they woke up in the night and wanted to sleep in our bed. In fact, I encouraged that. But I had to have my transition time (even though I did not have a name for it). After I got all the children to bed, I needed a few minutes to just lie in my bed with a book. No precious children, just Jimmy and me. Even if a baby or toddler needed me within an hour or two, as long as I could go to sleep by myself (well, with my husband too), I was refreshed enough to handle whatever my babies needed at night.

The morning transition from sleep to kids is a sanity saver for me as well. This one took longer for me to achieve, however. My kids all had some sort of built in sensor. As soon as my feet hit the floor, they would wake up! It did not matter what time it was. Someone was crying or calling out to me before I could even get to the coffee pot!
Now, they all sleep until I wake them on most mornings. I treasure the hour or two I have in the mornings before my work day begins. I read my Bible, pray, fix Jimmy's lunch, start the laundry, and run on most days.

Ok. So this post has gotten super long, and I have not even discussed stopping. 
I think I will continue this chapter tomorrow.

Chime in! Do you like to begin a task or new habit with a small step or a big step?
What transitions do you use?
What about stopping your habits? Do you stop when on vacation? When you get overwhelmed by sicknesses?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Club Week 7

This week's chapter in Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin is titled, "Someone's Watching- Accountability" When thinking about how you best keep your habits or work toward your goals, are you a public resolver or a private resolver? Can you keep your habits even if no one knows you are working on them, or do you need accountability from someone else? Do you prefer a friend or family member to be your accountability partner, or do you do better if you must answer to a professional?

For most things I can hold myself accountable. If I decide I want to do something, I am pretty good at motivating myself to follow through. But I have learned that I need some external accountability to maintain exercise habits. I will run short distances on my own, but I will rarely do a long run alone. Also, if I schedule a time to meet a friend to do a long run, I will not cancel, but if I planned on doing the long run alone, I can easily talk myself out of it if the weather is too cold, too hot, too rainy, etc. However, if I have the external accountability of an upcoming half or full marathon, I will do the long run even if my running partner cancels, because of the race looming in the future.

Food-related habits are easier for me too keep if a family member is doing the same thing. But as far as homemaking, homeschooling, personal projects, my own internal accountability is enough

What about you?
Do you need some external accountability to help you create or maintain a habit? Can you plan a way to do this?

Have a happy day with your habits!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The First Day of the Month

February is here!  Where did January go?  And here in Mississippi it feels like spring. Of course, it will probably be back in the 30s next week.

On the first day of each month I always do two things. Change the air filters in our house and give the pets their monthly medication. I'm also supposed to change my contact lenses monthly, but I don't always do that.

What do you routinely do at the beginning of each month?

I'm off to administer flea/tick and heart worm medications to our seven pets.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Club Week 6

This week's chapter is subtitled Scheduling.  (In case you are just popping in, we are reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and discussing a chapter each week.)

Scheduling is one of my favorite topics! I love routine. I love doing things the same way in the same order day after day, whether it is my homeschool, my housework, my errands, or my hobbies and interests. However, I have failed at scheduling a regular blogging time for almost two years now. The older my children get it seems the less discretionary time I have.  I have every intention of blogging on a regular basis, but I have failed to figure out how to fit this into my daily routine. As I reread Better Than Before, I hope I can troubleshoot this. I would love to blog 5-6 days a week like I used to!

One of the quotes I like from this chapter is, "Scheduling also forces us to confront the natural limits of the day." (Rubin 73). As much as I like to cram my planner with "to do" items each morning, the reality is that there is only so much time in the day. For the most part, the items I schedule on a regular basis get done. I have a few non negotionables (like homeschool, cooking supper, Bible reading, laundry), and those things are easy for me to do each day. It's the sometimes items that cause me so much trouble. Gretchen refers to these as fixed  and unfixed habits. Some of my unfixed habits that require decision making are running, blogging, extra chores like bills and online banking, emailing, and now wedding planning. Trying to fit these things into my already full days is hard!

For example, right now I have the goal of running 20 miles each week. That means that I don't have to run 7 days a week. I usually meet Leanna one morning a week for a 6+mile run. That leaves me 14 miles or less to run alone each week. Every week I wrestle with what days to run? How many miles each day? If I skip Wednesday, then I may have to run Saturday.....on and on I go through this in my mind, every. single. week. But for Crossfit, it's a non-decision. The class meets at 1:00 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I cannot go on Wednesday because of the English class I teach on Wednesday afternoons. So I go on Mondays and Fridays, unless I am out of town. (or if it' s December and I have a million things to do to get ready for Christmas and my college girls and their fiances are here, so I skip Crossfit for 6 weeks!) Why can't I workout a set-in-stone routine for running? Even after consistently running for 10 years!

I love the power hour that Gretchen discusses. This is one of those ideas that I really want to try, but I have not yet. I have no problem creating the power hour list. It's finding the hour to do it in!

One more thing I gleaned from this chapter is that our habits must be sustainable. I tend to always want to try new things (in some areas), and I often set unrealistic expectations for myself.

What about you? Do you like to schedule your habits? Do you have any tips for someone who cannot seem to find time to do certain tasks?

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Book Club Week 5 and Some Other Stuff

After a long break from school (since December 13!), we began our second semester today. I had planned to begin the day after we arrived home from Disney World, but both Sam and Leah began to get sick on the drive home. They both ran fever and coughed until Friday. They are still not 100%, but they are well enough for us to do a full day of school, go to CrossFit, and run errands.  I predict early bedtimes for all tonight. Clay actually began his schoolwork last week. He will graduate on May 9, so he is diligently working in his courses in order to be completed by that day.

I have also taken a long, long break from CrossFit. I have not been since the end of November!  I have run some, but I really let my exercise slide during the month of December. Between houseguests and preparing for Christmas and all that entails, I chose not to make time for exercise for a few weeks. However, I did set some exercise related goals for myself for 2017, and so far I am keeping them. I think I shared that I plan to run 20 miles and attend two CrossFit classes per week when I am home (not traveling). I have run almost every day since we got home from Disney, and I started back CrossFit today. What a workout!  I will probably not be able to get out of bed tomorrow!  The workout was called "The Seven". It was 7 rounds of 7 repetitions of 7 exercises for time. Mercifully there was a time cap of 40 minutes, which means even if you have not completed all 7 of the sevens by 40 minutes, you are done anyway! In case you are wondering, here are the seven things we did:

  • 7 handstand pushups
  • 7 thrusters
  • 7 toes to bar
  • 7 dead lifts
  • 7 burpees
  • 7 kettle bell swings
  • 7 pull-ups
(Seven times through)

Don't be too impressed. I used the 15# bar with no weights for the thrusters, I cannot do toes to bar so I did knees to chest, my dead lift weight was 55#, my kettle bell was the smallest at the gym, and I had to do jumping pull-ups. Scaled pretty low!  But I did finish, and I know I will need Motrin in order to sleep tonight.

Now the book:  Better Than Before--Chapter ? "First Things First"

I agree with Gretchen that the following four areas are important ones to consider when establishing new (or breaking bad) habits. Sleep. Move. Eat and Drink Right. Unclutter.

In which areas are you working on habits?

Sleep: I slept only 6 hours a night for years. Many years those 6 hours were broken by nursing babies or toddlers that did not sleep through the night. About two years ago Jimmy gave me my first sleep tracking device and I made myself sleep 7 hours. I cannot believe how much better I felt with just one more hour of sleep. I love sleeping 7+hours! But the reality is most days I feel like I need the time more than I need the sleep. I fluctuate between waking up at 5:00 AM (my preferred time to arise and get things done) and 6:00-6:30 (I feel best when I sleep this late, but I feel like I start my day behind). My current sleep habit is to set my alarm for 5:00 most days, but once or twice a week I choose to sleep in. Just sleeping a little longer two times a week makes me feel good on the 5:00 AM days. That is what works for me.

Move: I have already shared my exercise habits.....I run either on the treadmill or outside at least 5 mornings a week. I run after I have drunk coffee, done my Bible study, fixed Jimmy's lunch, and started a load of laundry. Once a week I meet a friend (usually Leanna) to run a longer run. I have a watch that tracks my steps, and my goal is 10,000 steps each day. I have no problem getting those steps except on Sundays. I normally do not run on Sundays, and I sit down way more than usual since  I attend two services that day plus a Bible class. It does not bother me that I don't get 10,000 steps on Sundays. I expect not to. 

Also, I agree with Gretchen, if you act energetic, you will feel energetic!

Eat and Drink Right:
Jimmy and I were just saying last night that through our 25 years of marriage we have tried so many different forms of eating and exercise too. I'm glad health and fitness is an interest for both of us. Currently we are on Day 6 of the Whole30 again. I'm really not sure why we are doing Whole30 again....Lynn wanted to start after our Disney trip, and I guess I wanted to offer her moral support. Plus, Jimmy and I had gotten back into the habit of eating way too much sugar over the holidays. I was drinking Coke several times a week....and we just wanted to jump start our new year. (I feel like my new year began when we got home from Disney.) 
As far as drinking goes, of course we don't drink alcohol, but I do love my Coke! Our family drinks lots of water because it's basically the only beverage we keep in the house except for coffee. Lots of coffee. (I do keep canned Coke, little juices, and Gatorade in our schoolroom refrigerator, but the kids know that those are for special days, not for every day drinking.)

My favorite habits of all fall into this category. I love to clean out and organize things--drawers, closets, rooms. Clutter makes me anxious. I can deal with my house not being super clean, but I cannot bear stuff lying everywhere. We clear all counters and tables and pick up all the stuff on the floor, stairs, etc. every single day. Sometimes more than once a day. I strongly agree with Gretchen that clearing my space clears my mind. I can't think with clutter everywhere. 

So what about you? What foundational habits are most important to you? 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Disney 2017

Our family went to Disney World January 10-17. In fact, we left exactly at 12:00 AM on January 10 (Monday night/Tuesday morning). We followed Lynn and Kelly and their family on the 12 hour drive to Orlando. The four adults took turns driving and trying to sleep. We stopped around 6:00 AM at a Cracker Barrel for coffee (lots of coffee) and breakfast.
 The Mims and Johnson Children at breakfast.
(They slept all night in the car!)

We kept on driving and driving, and finally we arrived at the Florida Welcome Center. Yay!
 Reluctantly posing at the Welcome Center. I always stop here when traveling to visit my college girls, and I always make my kids make a picture here.

We got to our hotel, checked in, unpacked the cars, and were at Disney's Hollywood Studios by 3:00 PM. After 2-3 hours of broken sleep, the adults were ready!  

Do we look sleep deprived?

By Tuesday night we were joined in our hotel by Lynn's sister, Lesley, and her family and our friends Greg and Esther and their family. We were a party of 22! We had matching shirts to wear each day, and we had the best time!  This is the 5th Disney trip that Lynn and her family and my family have made together. This is the second time Lesley has joined us, and the third time for Esther and her crew. There is definitely never a dull moment with all of us!
Leanna and her family and Stacee (both are Jimmy's cousins) and her family were also at Disney World for four of the days we were. We met up with them some at the different parks. That made us the occasional party of 32!

I do not have all the wonderful pictures of the week on my laptop yet. Uncle Kelly obtained a Disney Photo Pass for us. It has many, many pictures on it, but I don't know yet how to download them to my laptop. Jimmy took pictures with his camera and phone, and everyone else took pictures with their phone as well. I think we all uploaded them to our Disney dropbox....I just need to figure out how to access them!  Anyway, I have a few pictures to share from my phone.

 The men and their backpacks!
Kelly always brings his army backpack, and we always  bring our navy blue Lands End backpack with "Johnson" monogrammed on the back. Sadly, I forgot to pack our backpack! So I bought this cute Mickey Mouse backpack in the hotel gift shop. Everyone loved Jimmy's backpack!   :)

This is on the Primeval Whirl ride at Animal Kingdom. We were bumped, jolted, and slung around!

 Sam, Jimmy, and Clay
These are our new Disney shirts for this year.

 Lynn and I rode Splash Mountain three times in a row on this morning.
We should have stopped at two! After this picture we got drenched!

The very last day of our vacation Olivia, Brian, and Julie joined us!  Their college is just 70 miles from Disney, and they had no classes because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We went to Magic Kingdom that day. It was the first time Julie had ridden Splash Mountain in 8 years! (Normally when we go to Disney World in January, Splash Mountain is closed for refurbishment.)

Jimmy, Julie, and Me

I'll share more highlights as soon as I figure out the picture deal.

Lynn and I have gotten this Disney vacation thing down to a science.  Esther has joined right in with us wholeheartedly, and I think we wore Lesley out!  :) But it was all so much fun!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Club Week 4

In our Book Club we are reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.
This week's chapter is titled, "We Manage What We Monitor:  Monitoring"

I really like this quote at the beginning of the chapter, "If we want something to count in our lives, we should figure out a way to count it." Doesn't this just sum it all up? We have to keep a check on ourselves. If you are keeping track of something, whether it is counting calories, tracking miles you have walked or run, reading a certain amount of pages in a book, or praying for people on a list, you are so much more likely to achieve your goal. Monitoring motivates!

I also like how Gretchen discusses monitoring your time spent on something you feel like you never have time for. Or how about monitoring your time wasters? How much time do you actually spend scrolling mindlessly through Facebook or Pinterest?

Monitoring can help you achieve your goals, but it can also help you see where your time is going, especially if you feel you don't have enough time to work on achieving your goals.

What about you? Has monitoring a behavior or activity helped you keep a good habit? Has monitoring your time helped you identify time wasters or hidden productivity?

Chime in!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bookclub and Wedding Dress Update

First of all, THANK YOU! to all of you who responded to me via Facebook, Facebook Messenger, by commenting on my blog, or texting me. I appreciate your help so much!

And the result is:  Olivia found the perfect wedding dress!  We bought it Saturday!  A friend of ours who read my blog post kindly went to a bridal store in her town (about 80 miles from here) and asked if they had a dress in the style we were looking for. They did! And since we had been at my parents house (to spend the night so Jimmy, Julie, and Big Sam could run a marathon and Clay a half, but the race was cancelled due to ice and freezing cold temperatures---another story) and would be passing through Starkville on our way home, Olivia, Leah, Sam, and I stopped by. The dress was beautiful! It fits her perfectly, and only needs hemming.

So now on to our bookclub!  Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, chapter 2 (the chapters are not numbered, but this chapter is titled, "Different Solutions for Different People:  Distinctions".
What a fun chapter! As I read through the descriptions of each set of pairs, I frequently would say to myself, "It depends....". While for some of the choices I definitely am one or the other, but for some of them it really depends on the area in my life.

Here is the rundown of the distinctions and in which one I chose to categorize myself. (Depending on the habit I was considering.)

  • Lark or Owl?  I am definitely a lark. I stay up later than I intend most nights getting Leah and Sam to bed, turning off the lights, setting up the coffee pot, reading for a few minutes, etc. but I function so much better and more efficiently in the early mornings. In fact, I am pretty much done mentally and physically by suppertime. My preferred wake-up time is 5:00 AM.
  • Marathoner, Sprinter, or Procrastinator? Well, in the running world I am definitely a marathoner, literally at some points in my life. I am NOT fast. But in all areas of my life I prefer to work on projects, tasks, housework, and anything that requires planning with a slow and steady pace. I tend to begin working on things way before they are due, and I like to make lists and charts to plan and mark my progress along the way. Sometimes my life gets hectic, and even though I have a slow marathon plan, as the deadline approaches I sometimes have to sprint to catch up!  I do not consider myself a procrastinator at all. :)
  • Underbuyer or Overbuyer? It depends. I overbuy items like toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, washing detergent, toothpaste, school supplies, etc. Anything that would be highly inconvenient to run out of. However, I underbuy clothes and shoes for myself. I usually am at Walmart or Old Navy buying some item of clothing I need for a vacation the day before we leave!
  • Simplicity or Abundance Lover? I think I lean more toward simplicity. I like to have adequate amount of supplies that I need, but I do not hoard things, nor do I like a lot of clutter in my home. In fact, clutter is my enemy! :) I like an empty shelf, a half-full drawer, and I love quiet. No background music for me!
  • Finisher or Opener? Both. I love to try new things! But I usually finish whatever I start. I like the satisfaction of finishing a project, of meeting a deadline, of planning an event, or of completing a running plan.  I will not knowingly open something I do not plan to finish.
  • Familiarity or Novelty Lover?  Definitely familiarity. That's why we are about to take our 8th trip to DisneyWorld (the 5th trip with Kelly and Lynn) and why our other vacations are at the same beach (Seaside) or a national park. I like doing the same things in the same order every day. Too much novelty in my day stresses me.
  • Promotion or Prevention Focuses?  I think I focus mostly on promotion. I get a lot of satisfaction from keeping my habits, and if my family notices and compliments me, well that's just icing on the cake!  :)
  • Small Steps or Big Steps?   I like to take small steps. I set goals that I know I can achieve, then after that I raise the bar a little bit higher. Baby steps. Baby steps. 
At the end of the chapter Gretchen poses a series of questions. I wrote my answers in a notebook. Pondering the answers to these questions can help you figure out how to best motivate yourself to keep your habits and achieve your goals.

So how does this look in real life? I'll take personal Bible study for an example. Let's say that I have a goal of increasing my time spent reading, studying and meditating upon God's Word. Based on how I answered the sets of pairs above, here is how I would strive to meet my goal.

1. Since I'm a lark I will set time aside each morning for my Bible time. My goal is 45 minutes each morning. 
2. As a marathoner, I will select a reading and studying plan that stretches out the task over a set period of time. Like reading the Bible in 90 days or copying several books of the Bible in 6 months.
3. I will underbuy for this habit. All I need is my Bible, Frixion pens, and a notebook or two.
4. I want simplicity during my Bible time. Quiet. No people around. (Which is why I wake up at 5:00).
5. I will be a finisher in my Bible time. I will not "open" a different method of studying every couple of days. I will choose my method and my routine, and I will stick to that for the duration of the goal.
6. I prefer familiarity in my Bible time. I do the same things in the same order each morning.
7. Bible study can be both promotion and prevention focused. 
8. As in most areas of my life, I like to take small steps. A little each day, building slowly, but hopefully retaining what is most important. 

What about you? Did you like choosing which pair better described you and your habits? What would you like to share?

We will read Chapter 3: "We Manage What We Monitor:  Monitoring" next Monday.
Enjoy the reading!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Wedding Dress Woes

Yesterday Olivia, Leah, and I spent the day in Memphis at three different bridal stores looking for Olivia a wedding dress. Olivia has a picture of the perfect wedding dress that she found online. It is from a well-known company (Allure) and that brand is sold in most bridal stores. However, the dress was discontinued in June of 2016, and as far as we can tell, no store in our area has it. One bridal shop we visited yesterday called the Allure warehouse to see if they still had the dress in their stock, and they did not. :( Actually they did have one, but it was ivory, and Olivia wants white.

We have found a few online stores that advertise they have this dress, but I am not going to buy a wedding dress online (wedding dresses are non-returnable, and who knows what I may end up with!), plus since I know the Allure warehouse no longer has the dress, where would they get this dress??

The dress is Allure M535. If any of you who live in a reasonable distance from me happen to be in a bridal store and see this particular dress, please contact me!

So, Olivia tried on lots and lots of wedding dresses. And just like when I was looking with Julie, there are no wedding dresses that fit our tastes! Both girls want a high neckline in both the front and back (just like a regular dress), and they both want some sort of sleeve (cap, flutter, or short). Guess what? There are no wedding dresses that fit that criteria. Either they are strapless, backless, or have a plunging neckline.  And very, very few dresses had sleeves...and if they had sleeves, they had no back, etc. If we can find a dress similar to the one in the above picture, Olivia will be so happy!
And let me also say that I want to find a pretty dress "as is". I don't want a piece of fabric sewn in to cover the back and then make the dress look tacky....know what I mean? Is that too much to ask?

As you know, Julie and my mother are sewing her wedding dress, and it is beautiful!  However, I am not giving up on finding the perfect dress for Olivia!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Few More Goals

How is your new year going? Have you set any goals? Are you keeping them so far?

I decided how I was going to cover my gospels reading each month. I plan to divide each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) into 6 readings, and read one gospel each week. So this week I am reading 5 chapters of Matthew each morning and on the sixth day I will read 3 chapters.

I set a running goal for 2017. I want to run a total of 1000 miles this year. That is an average of 20 miles each week. Until last year had little difficulty reaching this goal since I was training for marathons or at least keeping a consistent long run. I ran only 699 miles in 2016. I have run 10 miles so far this week! I also decided to record my miles on Daily Mile again. If you are on Daily Mile please ask me to be your friend!

I am still working on my reading list. I am currently reading the play Our Town in preparation for the English class I teach. We are also reading Huckleberry Finn later this semester, and I have not read that before. I did read Our Town in high school, I think.

My homemaking goals for 2017 are to keep up with my weekly housecleaning chores and to tackle a few major projects throughout the year. In January I plan to completely clean out my closets and drawers--all my clothes, using the Konmari method. I have divided my house into four zones, and I aspire to clean each zone each week--one zone per day. Other major projects I have include a big clean-out and reorganization of Sam's room, helping Jimmy clean out his workshop, and deep cleaning the entire house (ceiling fans, baseboards, light fixtures, windows, etc.)

I think that's all my goals for now!