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! :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Better Than Before Week 1

Did you read the introduction? (Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin)

I must admit that I really don't have any idea how to conduct a book club on a blog! If you have read my blog in the past, you will remember that Lynn, Leanna, and I read this same book last year (or maybe it was longer than that) and discussed each chapter as we did our long run. Our procedure was to write on a card or on our hand (but this was often sweated off!) key words or phrases that we wanted to discuss while running. I think that for now, as we begin, I will follow this same format. I will list parts of the introduction that were interesting or though-provoking to me, and you can chime in with a comment either about what I listed or your thoughts on a different passage.

And of course, you can just read the book, read the blog posts, read the comments, and not respond at all. That's fine! But it will be fun if at least a few people will participate. :)

"Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self-control." (Rubin 5)

  • This is so true. I think that is why Gretchen titled the introduction "Decide Not to Decide."  When something becomes automatic, you don't have to wrestle with yourself each day to make you do that thing. Like when I did the Whole 30. I decided to follow the rules, so I did not have to spend my mental energy trying to decide how much creamer should I put in my coffee, how many M&Ms were too much for a bedtime snack, how many days a week could I drink a Coke in the afternoons.....Once I committed to following the program, the mental part was mostly easy. I did not love every day of the challenge. In fact, most days I am sure I complained about something regarding what I could and could not eat, but it was not hard in the sense that I did not have to do the mental gymnastics every morning.  The decision was made. I followed the plan.

"Habits mean we don't strain ourselves to make decisions, weigh choices, dole out rewards, or prod ourselves to begin. Life becomes simpler, and many daily hassles vanish." (Rubin 6)
  • Can you think of a habit you have that while it may have been difficult to establish, now that it is part of your daily or weekly life, the hassles regarding that habit have vanished? Some examples may include morning Bible reading and prayer, bedtime rituals for your children, regular exercise, etc. When we make the initial decision to do something, by default, we don't have to decide every day. If you decide to not check your phone while you are eating a meal when your family, then every time you eat with your family, you don't have to decide whether or not it's a good time to look at your phone. You have already decided that family mealtimes are not the time to check your phone, so you are free from making that decision repeatedly. This made such good sense to me!
  • Gretchen listed the "Essential Seven", which are areas where most people desire to foster good habits. Do any of these stand out to you? I need to work on habits under #4 and #7.

"We feel frantically busy, but also feel that we're not spending enough time on the things that really matter." (Rubin 9)
  • Well this pretty much sums up my life! That's why I made my 10 Year Goal list, so I could see where I wanted to be in 10 years (in the areas of life that are important), and begin making choices that move me toward that goal right now.
"But I knew that different people need different solutions, so I aimed to identify every possible option." (Rubin 10)
  • This is the what the rest of the book is about. Identifying your personality and how you respond to outer and inner expectations. When you can identify these things, you can create good habits and eliminate bad habits in ways that work with your personality. 
That's all for this week. Please leave a comment if you wish to discuss anything I listed or above or another part of the introduction that resonated with you.

I can't wait to hear from you!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Online Shopping Fun

Last year Leanna, Lynn, Lesley, and I started what we hoped would be an annual November tradition. We spent an entire day Christmas shopping!  We began around 7:30 AM, and we shopped at our local stores until 9:00 that night. It was exhausting, but oh, so much fun!  And we accomplished a lot. 

This year we looked and looked at our calendars, and there was no day that all of us had open to have an all day shopping day.  Sad!  So we decided to have an online shopping party. Tuesday night we met at Lynn's house (because she has the fastest, most reliable internet) around 5:00 PM. We ordered take-out salads for supper and had M&Ms for dessert! We all sat around Lynn's dining room table with our laptops, shopping magazines, and Christmas binders all spread out. We actually got a lot of shopping done.  The UPS man has been coming to my house every day since!

So here are your holiday hints for the week:
  1. Take inventory of your gift wrapping supplies and buy what you need. 
  2. Make a list of shopping you wish to do online, then set aside some time to actually shop online. Always be on the lookout for sales and free shipping coupons. (Usually found in the magazines and catalogs that companies mail to you.)
  3. Begin wrapping at least one present a day (if you have done some shopping or crafting).
  4. Set up a gift wrapping station. This can be a card table in the corner of your bedroom, in a room you don't use often, on your dining room table (but not the table where you eat all your don't want to have to clean up the wrapping station every time you need to eat). Make sure you place scissors, tape, pens, gift labels, wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, and ribbon in your station. 

***Don't forget.  If you want to participate in our Monday Online Book Club, read the introduction to Better Than Before. We will discuss it this Monday. I'm so excited!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Book Club Monday: Better Than Before

Today's book club assignment was to just secure your copy of the book we will be discussing, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

Have you gotten your book?  If you want to comment to let me know if you will be reading with me, great!  If you prefer to just read the book and read my discussion (and other comments) without identifying yourself, that's great too!
It will be fun either way!

By next Monday, please read the introduction, "Decide Not to Decide."

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ten Year Goals

I recently read that in order to meet future goals, you have to begin making steps in order to achieve them right now. For example, if you want to have $1000 saved in twelve months, you have to start putting money back right now.

I thought about where I would like to be in 10 years. What would my life look like? What kinds of activities would be filling my days? After I made this list, I asked myself "What can I do right now or on a regular basis to insure that I meet those 10 year goals?" I tried to be specific.

For example:
Goal-- In 10 years I hope to be in good health and able to exercise on a daily basis.
What I can do now-- schedule check-ups at appropriate intervals, continue running, CrossFit, and/or walking at least 5 days a week, try to eat whole foods as much as possible and limit sugar and Cokes.
I can't just hope for good health in 10 years. I have to do something right now in order to make that an attainable goal.

I listed goals in other areas as well:  spiritual, marriage, family, travel, writing, hospitality, and service.  I am still working on the what I can do right now in order to meet those goals part of my plan.

How about you? Can you set some 10 year goals for yourself? Can you begin working towards those goals right now? Think about how old you and your children will be in 10 years. Try to imagine what your life will be like then.

Then make your plan.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Hail State!

Lynn, Leanna, Leigh, and I (the only one without an "L" name!) and our families had the best time at the MSU/Texas A&M game today.  We had a breakfast tailgate beginning at 8:00 AM this morning.  Then we enjoyed beautiful weather and a fantastic game at 11:00.

We were joined by a dear friend (our preacher) and his dad who happen to be Texas A&M fans. I hope they are not suffering hearing loss from all the cowbells. Clang! Clang!

It really was a fun day...the only sad spots were that Jimmy had to work and could not join us and Olivia and Julie are far away at their college.

November Goals
So far, so good. On this 5th day of November I have managed to read/study my Bible every day, wrap one present each day (I am about to wrap today's present after I finish typing this), and I am on my way to blogging 5 days this week.

Praying for Others
Trey (our preacher) mentioned this in a recent sermon--often times we tell people that we will pray for them, and we have every intention of doing so, but the reality is that usually we forget to actually pray for them.

Here are some solutions:

  • Stop right then and there and pray with that person.
  • If it is a prayer request that you are receiving online via FB, a blog, or an email, make a note of it in a notebook, on a sticky note, or notepad. Then transfer that list to a master prayer list. 
  • If someone asks you to pray for them in person, write it down on a notepad or piece of paper, or enter it somehow into your phone. Again, transfer the information to a master prayer list.
  • On a daily or other regular basis, pray for the people on your master prayer list. I just start at the beginning and go down the list, page after page. I pray for a certain amount of time each day, then I stick a sticky flag at the name where I left off. The next day, I begin praying at that place on my list. Whenever a prayer is answered, I put a check mark and the date. I also date the entries I make when I list the person and their request. When I have prayed the entire list, I start back at the top.
  • If you at least scan your list each day in addition to praying for a portion of it, the names of the people and their situations will be in the back of your mind. Then, when you have snippets of time you can recall people to pray for. I prayed many prayers while feeding and rocking babies in the middle of the night. When I have had periods of anxiety and could not sleep, I prayed for others. In fact, praying for other people is good medicine when you are feeling down.
I think that is all for today. I'm off to wrap my present for the day!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Some Tips For Mothers of Young Children

Today as I was grabbing my gym bag to take to my CrossFit class, I was reminded of when I had babies and toddlers and always had a diaper bag whenever I left the house. I keep my gym bag stocked just like I always kept my diaper bag stocked, but with different items.

Here are some tips that I used when my children were much younger.

  • Restock your diaper bag when you get home. Every time. Replace any diapers, wipes, outfits, snacks, etc. that you used. Do it fairly soon after you get home while the contents are fresh on your mind. Now your diaper bag is all ready for your next outing.
  • Keep a change of clothes for each baby, toddler or preschooler you have somewhere in your car. You never know when a fresh outfit will come in handy.
  • Also keep a diaper station in your car: changing pad, diapers, wipes, ointments, paper towels, etc. I changed many diapers in the back of my minivan. Remember to restock this changing station frequently.
  • Prepare all the sippee cups you need for the day at one time and place them on a designated shelf in your refrigerator. My children each had their own style/color/size cup, so I fixed an appropriate amount for each child each day. I did this each morning, but you could do it the night before as well.
  • Keep a separate bag filled with "quiet time" toys, books, and activities. Use this bag only for times when you need your children to sit quietly, like in a doctor's office waiting room or a church service. 
  • Keep a trash can in your vehicle. I still do this today. With older children it has to be emptied almost every day! I have mine wedged between the front and middle seat consoles. It is a regular bathroom sized trash can. It works best if you line the trash can with plastic bags.
  • If you live in a two story house, create a diaper changing area on each floor. 
  • If you homeschool, place a rocking chair in the room where you do most of your instruction or reading aloud time. I rocked, rocked, and rocked babies and toddlers while doing school with my older children.

That's all I can remember for now.  Thinking about all of this makes me miss when my children were babies!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Christmas Binder

I began keeping a spiral bound Christmas notebook in 2001. In 2007 I switched to a 3 ring binder with the following dividers:


  • This section is subdivided by year.
  • I create a document for each year in a table format with the following columns: To, Gift, Bought, Wrapped. I list the recipient's name and the gift. Then I put an x when I buy (or make the gift), and an x when I wrap the gift. On the pages that I create for my children, I make one page per child, and instead of having the To column, I have a From column. That is because I shop for my mother and my mother-in-law most years, and I can keep track of who is giving what to whom. This list is also handy for seeing what gifts I gave to others in years past.  I also love to look at what I gave my kids in years past, especially when they were younger.
  • I keep a list of the addresses I use for my Christmas cards. I reprint this list each year because I make changes on my computer on the master list as I get wedding announcements or sadly because some people pass away.
  • I also make a list of addresses for any parties that I send invitations.

  • I keep copies of party invitations in this section.
  • I also keep guest lists for various parties here.

  • This section has recipes for all the Christmas goodies we make and share each year.
  • I include menus for Christmas meals and parties.
  • Some years I have made labels for the homemade treats we give to others. I have the master copies of those labels in this section. I like to put who the goodies are for on these labels. This helps when distributing them.
And that's it. My Christmas Binder. It brings me great joy to keep this binder. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November's Goals

Well today is the first day of November!  Have you thought about what you would like to challenge yourself to accomplish for the next 30 days? Of course you can begin a 30 day challenge on any day of the month, but I am beginning a few things today. There is never the perfect time for really anything, so just do it now!

My Three November Goals

  1. Read my Bible every day. While I already have Bible reading as a well-established habit, it seems like about once a week I fail to read early in the morning, and then my day marches on, and I never get to it. Usually it's on my long run days--I have to leave my house at 6:10 to meet Leanna, and I don't set my alarm clock early enough to do any Bible study before it's time to leave.  For November I will read/study my Bible every single day. Which means if I skip it in the early morning, I must create time to do it before bedtime. 
  2. Blog 5 days a week. Blogging every single day is not going to happen, but I plan to post something 5 days a week. I'm not set on any particular 5 days each week; I'll do them as I can. 
  3. Wrap one Christmas gift each day. 

That's it. I like to set reasonable, attainable goals. 

Speaking of wrapping Christmas presents, I stocked up on wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby last weekend. They just put it out, and it's 40% off. I know they will eventually have it 50% off, but I need it now.