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 efavormart.com and smartyhadaparty.com

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 elephant.....one 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! AND....it 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!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ringing in the New Year

Happy New Year!

I spent several hours yesterday making plans for 2017 and transferring information to my new Erin Condren planner. (Love those planners so much!). I used cute stickers and wrote all my family's birthdays, Jimmy's days off, and vacations and such for the entire year. Next, I started on my 2017 goals. I began with prayer and looking through my Bible for verses to inspire me this year. I also chose my word for the year:


I jotted down verses that would help me be joyful and also to be mindful in my service to the Lord and my relationship with Him. My original list included nineteen verses, mostly from Matthew, but I chose one more to have an even number of twenty. I copied the references of the verses in the back of my planner, but I plan to also write them throughout the planner. I want to read these verses on a regular basis and also memorize them this year. Hopefully I can blog about them as well. 

Here are my focus verses of Scripture for 2017:
  • Matthew 5:16
  • Matthew 6:21
  • Matthew 6:33
  • Matthew 7:21
  • Matthew 11:28-29
  • Matthew 16:24
  • Matthew 22:37-39
  • Matthew 23:11-12
  • Matthew 25:40
  • Matthew 26:41
  • Mark 4:19
  • Luke 6:45
  • Luke 10:41-42
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • James 1:2-5
  • 1 Peter 3:4
  • 1 John 5:3
  • Psalm 46:10
  • Isaiah 30:15
I have made my tentative Bible reading and study plans for 2017. I want to do the Bible in 90 days at some point, but not right away. I also plan to finish copying Galatians, and copy the other books of the New Testament that I have not copied yet. Another goal I just decided on today is to read all four Gospels once a month. I don't know my method for this yet, because I just made this goal about two hours ago.....may one gospel each week?

Julie and I both mapped our Happiness Project goals for each month. Here are my themes for each month:
  • January:  possessions
  • February:  health
  • March:  books and blog
  • April:  service
  • May:  pleasure (hobbies, fun outings, etc.)
  • June:  homemaking
  • July:  homeschool
  • August:  mothering
  • September:  friendship
  • October:  marriage
  • November:  eternity
  • December:  family
This all sounds great, but the reality is I will probably live the theme of WEDDINGS from April until the end of July....because guess what???  Olivia is engaged to me married too!  So I have two weddings to prepare and plan for....seven weeks apart!
June 3:  Julie and Sam
July 22:  Olivia and Brian

The last category I brainstormed ideas for is books. I haven't made my long range plan yet, but I always have a list of books that I want to read. I am reading a few books right now, but I want to create a booklist for 2017. I will share that when I complete it. 

Olivia, Julie, Sam, and Brian are all here for another week, and we are enjoying them all so much. My house is full, and of course so is my heart.

Oh. I am going to restart the book club (Better Than Before). If you are participating, continue to read the first chapter on distinctions. I will post about that chapter Monday, May 9.

Happy 2017!

Saturday, December 17, 2016


I'm here!

Apparently I am not going to get to blogging about Better Than Before until after Christmas. Or even after that!  (But I will get to it because I have multiple habits that I need to reinforce and/or add to my life). January is such a fun time of year for me---new goals, habits, and plans.

I have finished all my shopping and wrapping. Leah and I watched four Hallmark Christmas movies on DVD while wrapping the presents!  Yesterday Julie, Leah, and I baked, baked, and baked all day long. We prepared multiple good bags, tins, and boxes for our friends, family, various loved ones, and the people who provide services for us throughout the year. (If you want pleasant service from your mail carrier--for instance, when my package is too large for my mailbox, instead of placing a yellow slip in my mailbox telling me to drive to the post office in town to pick up my package the next day, she drives down my long driveway and delivers the package to my front door!--giving him or her a tin of homemade goodies in December is a great idea.)

Julie arrived home from college Thursday night. Yay!

Olivia and Brian will be here Tuesday night. Yay!

Big Sam is flying in from Romania December 27. Yay!

And all they all will be here through January 9. Fun times!

Later today we are celebrating Christmas with my parents, grandmother, my brothers and their families. After that, my mama, Julie, and I are going to shop for fabric and supplies for them to sew Julie's wedding dress. That project is on our itinerary for after Christmas Day, but before Julie goes back to school.

Tomorrow we are joining other families from our church for an afternoon of visiting the widows and elderly people of our congregation to sing to them and share a basket of goodies with them.

On January 7, Jimmy, Julie, and Big Sam are running a marathon. Clay will be running the half marathon at the same time. This is Julie's first marathon. The rest of us and my parents will be cheering them on!

During this busy time of year, make sure you pause and just take it all in. Smile at your family. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells of the holiday season. Watch a Christmas movie with your family. Do something nice for someone who could use a little happiness.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Club, Holidays, Running, and More

I hope your Thanksgiving went well. I thoroughly enjoyed having Olivia and Julie home along with Brian and Ellie. We filled each day they were here with lots of fun and hopefully some relaxation for them.
We bought and decorated our live Christmas tree. We always say when it's done that it's the BEST. TREE. EVER. This year was no exception.

We drove 3 hours to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents, my grandmother,  and my brothers and their families at my parents' house. I cannot express how much I enjoy Thanksgiving at my parents' house. It is truly a relaxing holiday for me. My mother does all the cooking for Thanksgiving, and I appreciate that so much!  It is the one holiday/event that I do not help with or do all the preparing/cleaning/cooking for. What a delight! My mother went over and beyond this year---she cooked extra of four of her Thanksgiving dishes and put them in disposable pans for me to take to Jimmy's family's Thanksgiving meal on Friday. I was so excited about this!  What a huge blessing, and I was so thankful. Everyone enjoyed the food she prepared for the Johnson Thanksgiving. It was all eaten!

We drove 4 hours Friday from my parents' house to Jimmy's mother's house on Friday to enjoy celebrating with his family. Ellie and Brian got to visit with all of our extended family in two days. Fun for all!

Saturday after decorating the tree (we bought it Wednesday, but did not have time to decorate it until Saturday), we all went to Kelly and Lynn's house to watch the Egg Bowl. (MS State vs. Ole Miss football game.) To our great surprise and delight State won!  Ellie and Brian got to experience the cowbell, and their hearing may never be the same.

I took the four college kids to the Memphis airport on Monday for their flight back to school. They get out for Winter Break on December 15. Yay!

Ok. The book club. Honestly, I have been so busy with visiting with my children, and then trying to get back into some sort of routine of homeschool and housework this week, that I have not reread our next chapter. I plan to post about it either Monday or Tuesday. Please keep reading, and try to determine which choice you are in each distinction category. For example, in lark or owl?, I am definitely a lark.

Tomorrow is the annual St. Jude Marathon/Half Marathon in Memphis. Jimmy is running the marathon and I am running the half. I am not the best trained for this event.....I have done my long run each week and gone to CrossFit once or twice a week, but that's it for the last 3 weeks. I don't doubt I can run 13.1 miles, I am just afraid that my time will be very, very slow!  I'll let you know!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Better Than Before Week 2

I am finally posting about this chapter! After my run yesterday (which was so. cold.) I spent the rest of the day cleaning my entire house, running a couple of errands, and driving 150 miles to the airport to pick up the college kids. We got home about 10:00 last night.  I am so glad they are home!

This chapter of Better Than Before is called, "The Fateful Tendencies We Bring Into the World." In this chapter Gretchen explains the four categories of tendencies we all have regarding our responses to outer and inner expectations--how and why we create, keep, or break habits. I found this fascinating! Here is a recap of each tendency:

  • Upholders--respond readily to both outer and inner expectations.
  • Obligers--respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  • Questioners--question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it's justified.
  • Rebels--resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. (Rubin 16)
So which one are you?

When I first read this book I immediately classified myself as an Upholder. Then I took the online quiz on Gretchen's website which scored me as an Upholder as well. Lately, however, (like during the Whole 30 Food Challenge Jimmy and I did) I began to wonder if I was actually an Obliger. In fact, Leanna and I discussed this very thing yesterday during our run. I almost convinced myself that I was indeed an Obliger with Upholder tendencies. But this morning when I reread the chapter again to refresh my memory before I wrote this blog post, I realized that I am an Upholder. What made it clear to me that I was not an Obliger is the part Gretchen writes about Obligers in this chapter, "Because Obligers resist inner expectations, it's difficult for them to self-motivate--to work on a PhD thesis, to attend networking events, to get their car serviced. Obligers depend on external accountability, with consequences such as deadlines, late fees, or the fear of letting other people down." (Rubin 22)

Also, she writes that Upholders don't have trouble meeting deadlines, and they often finish early. (Rubin 18) That's me! I have no trouble meeting deadlines, and I take great pleasure in finishing a task early, before it is due. That is how I was in college. That is how I am now. I like to be ready for an event well in advance. With five children and all the business that comes with managing our family, I don't always finish my plans as far in advance as I would like, but I am definitely not a procrastinator, and my To-Do list is my biggest motivator. 

I am definitely self-motivated (once I decide to do something), and I do not need external consequences in order to meet an expectation. Do external expectations make some habits or tasks more easily accomplished?  Of course. But when it comes down to it, I can self-motivate. I think I do best with a combination of external and internal expectations. 

Here are some examples from my life:

Personal Bible Study: I set my own goals in this area and keep them. When I feel like changing my goal or plan, I do, but then I meet the new inner expectations I set for myself in the new plan.

Homeschooling: Again, I set my own goals for my homeschool, and I keep them. Do I sometimes change my plans or modify? Yes. But when I make the adjustment to my plan or goal, I keep the new expectation. I do not need a homeschool co op to hold me accountable to teaching my children. However, if I am part of a co op, my children are definitely prepared (usually ahead of time!). And when I am not accountable to a co op, we still get our schoolwork done, but it is on my timetable.

Exercise: I am a mixture of Upholder and Obliger in this area. The first couple of marathons I trained for I completed every single run on my scheduled. I felt the need to check off every single box. During later marathon training, if life prevented me from getting an occasional run in, I was ok with that. But the difference is I decided that it was ok to have the box unchecked. So I still met my inner expectation. I gave myself permission to skip. Leanna and I pondered this yesterday while running. Would we still do a weekly long run alone if we could not meet and do it together? Well, it depends. If I was training for a half-marathon or marathon, I know I would do the run alone. If I was just maintaining fitness until the next training plan, I may give myself permission to skip. But again, it's what I decide. Which tells me I must be careful with what inner expectations I give or not give myself. I am usually and Obliger to the training plan I am currently using, but I still think it's because of the inner expectation I have of wanting to check the box.
CrossFit--I do not do the workouts at home if I miss class.  So attending the class holds me accountable to the workouts. But I am pretty sure if I made up my mind to do CrossFit four times a week, I would. Whether I did the workouts with my class or at home. For now, my expectation is to attend CrossFit class on Mondays and Fridays when I am not out of town. 

I can't wait to hear from you. What is your tendency? Was it hard to figure it out? Did you take the online quiz or determine your tendency just by reading the book?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Club Today

I know I have not posted yet about our book, Better Than Before. I have not forgotten!  I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to clean my whole entire house, change sheets on lots of beds, and cook four different kinds of soups.....all to prepare for my girls and their friends to come home from college tomorrow!  Also, the the other Kelly is coming tonight to decorate for Christmas.  So much going on!

I will post about the book either tonight or sometime tomorrow morning. But it will be mid-morning....Leanna and I are running 12 miles early in the morning. And it's supposed to be 34 degrees. Fun.

Until later......

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Book Club Reminder Plus Some Other Stuff

Don't forget that tomorrow we will be discussing the following chapter in Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin:
"Self-Knowledge:  The Four Tendencies."

I am looking forward to discussing which tendency each of us is.

Yesterday my family all ran a 5K (except Olivia, who has been a little sick lately).  Jimmy, Clay, Leah, Sam and I ran a race in Plantersville (close to us) while Julie ran a race in Tampa. It was a good day for running! Leah and Sam have been training so hard for XC all fall, and they wanted to test their training on a road race. Julie of course has been training and running hard with her XC college team as well. All three of them set PRs (personal records) at their 5K races yesterday! I was so happy for them. It is so rewarding to have your hard work pay off!

My college girls and two extras (Julie's roommate and Olivia's friend that is a boy) are flying home for Thanksgiving holidays Tuesday night!  I. CANNOT. WAIT.
Olivia has not been home since she left for school in early August!  I will have the house decorated for Christmas when they get here. We plan to buy our live Christmas tree on Wednesday and then decorate it on Saturday. Fun! Fun!  We will also be driving to visit my parents and Jimmy's mama and celebrate Thanksgiving will both sides of our extended family.

Don't forget to read the book.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Homeschooling Update

We are still homeschooling.

With all the traveling we have done this fall (XC meets for Clay and Leah, two hours away on most Tuesdays, and trips to Florida to watch Julie run--one 8 day period we drove 3000 miles to watch her run two different meets!), it has proved difficult to get our schoolwork done each week. But we have been diligent! This past weekend Jimmy flew to Virginia to watch Julie and Olivia run their national championship meet, and then he flew to Nashville the next day to watch Clay, Leah, and Sam run their national championship meet. I only went to Nashville!

Anyway. We are schooling when we can. Most weeks we are getting five math lessons completed (sometimes they do a math lesson on Sunday afternoons). We also completed a 12 week unit study on the presidents, American government, and the election process. I began Core F of Sonlight for Leah and Sam last Monday. It will take me the rest of this school year and some of the next to complete this Core, but that's ok. We are going to take our time and enjoy the books.

Clay is taking college algebra at the local community college. At home he is doing Apologia physics, Notgrass American government, and the English class I am teaching. This class covers literature and composition. So far we have read Right Ho, Jeeves, Pride and Prejudice, and we are currently reading Hamlet. Next semester he will add health and Notgrass economics.

Leah is doing Saxon math 8/7, IEW, Daily Grams, Easy Grammar, Apologia chemistry and physics, Wordly Wise, spelling/dictation, and Building Thinking Skills.

Sam is doing Horizons math 5, Daily Gams, Easy Grammar, Wordly Wise, Apologia chemistry and physics, spelling/dictation, and Building Thinking Skills.

When I made Leah and Sam's daily checklist for school this year, I assigned each subject a number of days to work in each week.  For example, math, reading, and piano practice are assigned five days each week. Journal writing, Daily Grams, spelling/dictation, and Wordly Wise are assigned four days each week, and Easy Grammar, Building Thinking Skills, Cursive (for Sam), IEW, and science are assigned three days each week. We do our Sonlight reading four days each week. This is a doable schedule for us, and it ensures that we are getting to every subject an appropriate amount of days each week.

I would love to take the whole month of December off from school, but I have scheduled for us to work until December 14. We will see! :)