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.