Picking a Word

It goes without saying 2016 sucked for a good many people. I don’t think you can be on FB for more than 20 minutes without seeing some meme lambasting this last year. But while it was awful for all of those reasons, it was also just a hard year for me personally as well. When I picked the word “calm” for 2016, I was envisioning systems and routines and habits that kept us all from running around like crazy people.

I didn’t imagine that it would come to mean being able to grocery shop, and laugh over coffee with friends, and make dinner, and snuggle my children while simultaneously feeling bereft and grateful. I didn’t know that it was humanly possible to feel both overwhelming joy and complete brokenness at the same time, but this year…I could. I don’t know if the people nearest to me would say I’ve been “calm”, but I’ve certainly never dealt with this much emotional upheaval and maintained any level of composure before this year.  Hokey or not, I’m going to go ahead and say my word certainly helped in 2016, even if it didn’t in the way I most thought it would.

So in October, when a word kept popping up (the way things prone to do when the universe or God or life is trying to tell you something), I started thinking. And listening. And when it came time to start thinking about resolutions and goals and plans for 2017 and the word came up again (and then one more time), I thought it might be time to claim it.

Discipline.

More accurately, self-discipline.
(def: noun: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.)

I’m a great dreamer. I’m an okay implementor. I’m a HORRIBLE sustainer (which is one of the reasons I married a man who is a complete and total work horse. That man can put his head down and plow through with such blind determination, I get exhausted just thinking about it.) If only life could consist of picking a project, starting a goal, and two weeks later saying, “Nope. I’m going to tackle that other goal over there instead.” (and then repeating the process again and again and again). I’d win awards. I’m the absolute BEST at setting a goal.

And absolutely terrible about reaching most of them.

So…it’s time to change that and do what’s best for me, even when I don’t want to do. Even when I feel like being lazy. Even when I feel like I can break my personal rule “just this once”. Even when I’ve earned a break.

The plan is to do some small things (health, budget, home maintenance) that will hopefully (over time) make some big changes. The plan is to plow forward and hopefully through whatever 2017 throws my way. I’m going to work really hard anyway.

And I’m going to knit each of the kids a sweater. (Because it can’t ALL be about work.)

I hope you’ll tell me what you are looking forward to this year. And what your word or resolution is (if you have one of those). Thanks for being here, friends!!

38 for 38

Today is my birthday.

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One of my favorite things about birthdays is that they are perfect time to reflect and dream and set goals (and I like reflecting and dreaming and setting goals). I’m making a bucket list this year.

  1. Finish the sock club for 2016. I rocked those socks. I’ll probably never again knit as many socks as I did in 2016, but I loved participating in that sock club.
  2. Try something new in knitting – charts, cables, magic loop – SOMETHING.
    I tried the afterthought heel for the first time. I think I need to make more of an effort to challenge myself next time.
  3. Go social media free for one month and deactivate my FB account for at least two months. I was off FB from Sept 13-November 21. Left Instagram for a month in November and deleted my Twitter account. Leaving Instagram and Twitter was a lot harder than I expected. I didn’t miss Facebook at all.
  4. Have family pictures taken. Oops
  5. Develop proficiency at backing up the boat trailer. I’m getting there. I can do it but I’d hate to be the one doing it on at a crowded landing. I’d like to do it with more speed and precision.
  6. Get a mole screen.
  7. Take a long weekend for just myself.
  8. Buy a pair of really beautiful shoes.Love them.
  9. Mail one handwritten letter a month. I did this 8 out of the 12 months. Not bad. Could be better.
  10. Smoke no cigarettes. Not one drag. All year. (And then every year. Forever.) Well, nobody is perfect.
  11. Refrain from chopping my hair into a pixie. Oops.
  12. Go to the library at least once a month. I’m horrible about this.
  13. Drink more tea.
  14. Bring back the annual party.This didn’t happen either. I WANT to, it just hasn’t seemed to work.
  15. Get all my health indicator numbers within the healthy range. I’m halfway there. I had four numbers that I wanted to work on and two of them are in the healthy range. Two more to go.
  16. Make a consultation appointment (and follow through?) for tattoo removal.I had the consultation. It sounded 1) painful and 2) expensive and 3) not really effective for mine so…I’m keeping that tattoo. Life lesson, kids.
  17. Clean out my closet.
  18. Practice unapologetic self confidence. This has been the most important thing I’ve practiced in my 38th year. I have a long, long, long way to go, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come on this.
  19. Participate in a yarn swap.
  20. Update my list of home projects (and tackle a few of them).
  21. Buy myself fresh cut flowers once a month. I didn’t every month (but some months I did more than once so it kind of evened out?) This was such a good splurge for me. Loved having fresh cut flowers in the house.
  22. Purge and donate books to the Friends of Library book sale.
  23. Add 3 indoor plants.
  24. Embroider something.
  25. Sew a quilt top. Have it made into a quilt. (Because I know my limits.) I started but Jesse’s work space took over my sewing space. I need to just get out the machine and work on it anyway.
  26. Practice daily gratitude.
  27. Go to Mass. I’m getting better. I’m not nearly as regular about attendance as I’d like to be.
  28. Find a new pair of running shoes that doesn’t make my foot hurt.
  29. Buy a new purse.
  30. Have a one on one date with Violet.
  31. Have a one on one date with Abram.
  32. Rent a camera lens I’ve been wanting to try.
  33. Remember inertia. Stay active.
  34. Participate in Dry January.
  35. Try a new food. Braunschweiger – not my favorite. I’m pretty sure it’s what wet cat food would taste like.
  36. Have a stargazing date.
  37. Improve my flexibility. Physically, anyway. Though I could certainly continue to improve upon it. And I definitely need to work on the emotional component.
  38. Celebrate my people. I want to continue to get better about this.

How I’m Doing with Calm

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So I picked the word calm for this year.

Calm is lazy afternoons with tea and jammies and books and some form of needlework.

Calm is not having to referee the 500th squabble between siblings while trying to get everyone out the door in the morning.

Calm is slowly picking away at the little projects that we have going on around the house.

Calm is not brainstorming the 1,687 different things that need to be done to the house right. this. very. second. because. I. just. want. everything. to. be. FINISHED.

Calm is one (maybe two) visits with friends throughout the week.

Calm is not scheduling social obligations every single day – sometimes even two in one day!! – when you are the definition of an introvert.

In the battle between life and intention – life is winning. It has not been calm.

But…

I negotiated a rocky morning without raising my voice.

I am getting comfortable with the idea that a beautifully maintained late 19th – early 20th century home, with a big yard, a multi-car garage, in our choice of neighborhood, and within our price range may just be a pipe dream. (You’d think I was asking too much.)

I saw a friend I haven’t seen in over a year, celebrated a loved one’s birthday, laughed that potato chips and crumbling rice cakes are perfectly fine meals when you haven’t gone grocery shopping in two weeks because grocery shopping when it’s almost February feels a little bit like going to war. (That conversation was a balm to my soul). Later this week I will support an organization I love, chatter and knit, and eat fried pickles (though sadly not all at the same time).

Life is not calm but somehow, I’ve managed to be.  (Mostly, anyway.)

Which begs the question: could this whole woo-woo word thing actually have some merit?

Either way, I scheduled some tea and jammie and knitting time Saturday (just as soon as I’ve finished the errands and basketball games.)

2016

I didn’t start out with a plan to pick out a word.

I started out with a plan to reinvent the wheel and start a bullet journal because pinterest. The first problem I ran into was that I am not Kara but want my journal to look like I am. My solution was to create a rough draft notebook where I would sketch out all the checklists and calendars and practice pretty headers and task lists and when I got everything the way I liked it – I would recreate it over to my real bullet journal with fingers crossed that I didn’t mess any of it up.

Because I have time for that.

After day 2 of trying to get it just so, I realized that I was spending way too much time trying to create the perfect bullet journal and not enough time actually living my less than perfect life so I ordered myself a datebook and went back to different notebooks and scraps of paper everywhere. It’s not the tidiest of systems, but at least I’m not worrying that my to-do list handwriting it isn’t pretty enough.

Which led me to my next problem:  I wanted a bullet journal because I wanted the grown up sticker chart of a habit tracker checklist for my resolutions which included such things as:  I’m going to get up early and go to bed on time and exercise and eat more vegetables and less sugar and clean everything and craft every day and take lots of pictures and read two books a week and hand write a letter once a week and go to Mass each Sunday and practice yoga and never, ever, ever raise my voice.

(The fact that my brain thinks that a complete life overhaul starting January 1 is completely doable may contribute to my depression and anxiety issues.)

So how did I get from resolutions and bullet journals to setting a word?

Rita.  I blame Rita.

She mentioned Susannah Conway’s 5-day online class to pick a word so I went over to check it out. I’ve never picked a word intention before because I’ve always felt they were silly and twee and a bit woo-woo.  And reading a few of Susannah’s thoughts on the matter didn’t change my mind that much on that front, but during one of the exercises something became very clear to me.

All my checklists and goals and plans for the year are an attempt for me to fulfill a need. And I made that need my word for the year.

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So this year instead of making multiple resolutions that I’ll never keep, I set an intention.  And I’m excited about it.  (Thanks, Rita.) And instead of worrying about getting everything done so I can feel calm, I’m going to focus on feeling that way no matter what is going on around me.  I want to cultivate it in my home and in my life.  I still want to make myself a sticker chart (because I’m still basically a seven year old girl) but more than anything, I want to create a calmer heart and home.

On an unrelated side note:

We got snow.

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And I love it.

Ten Things I Love

If you happen to follow me on Facebook or know me in real life, you already know that the cracked cooktop and the dishwasher fire were not the end of our home repair woes.  Two days after ordering my cooktop and dishwasher (still not in. I’m learning patience and a love of electric skillets) I looked up and noticed two water marks on the ceiling of my kitchen.  So I tested them and they were damp.  We called a guy.  Found out the shower in our master bath was going to need to be retiled and that there was something wrong with our tub.  So we started using the shower in the basement (we had that done less than two years ago) only to find that one was leaking as well.  (Thankfully, the man who tiled that shower came and it was a quick and free fix – he had just missed an area while sealing the glass surround and because we hardly ever used it, we didn’t notice until it was getting used almost 4 times daily.)  House woes and other miscellaneous life stuff had me searching for the bright side.  So…10 things I love.  Little things, big things, just a random list of 10 things that popped into my mind.

  1.  Netflix.  The girl who was once too good for tv is well and truly squashed and is forced to eat her pride and her words about the ridiculousness of people who enjoy television.  It keeps me company while I knit.  I get to watch television shows that I missed when I was too cool to own a television, documentaries that make me think, and just fun to watch stuff.

  2. Shorter days.  I know I won’t feel like this forever (talk to me in just a few weeks) but for right now, I really do appreciate that by 5 the sky is dark so it feels perfectly acceptable to put on my pajamas and relax.

  3. Knitting.  I’m working on a pair of gift socks.  A gift hat.  And a cowl for myself.  I don’t know that I should be doing personal knitting in the rush of Christmas, but every now and again I work a couple rows on this chunky cowl in the hopes that I’ll be able to wear it before spring.  I’ve realized I don’t like knitting with big fat needles. At. All.

  4. Electric skillets.  We haven’t had a cooktop in about three weeks.  The first few weeks of sandwiches and going out to eat weren’t so bad.  But when I found out the cooktop has been delayed again, I went out and picked up an electric skillet.  I’m so grateful that I’m able to brown meat for a crock pot or casserole or tacos.

  5. House hunting.  Not house buying (you know finding a house, putting in an offer, and all the adult-type-paperwork-things that involve home ownership) but the looking for and touring of houses.  I love walking through a place and dreaming about what I would keep and what I would change and how we would LIVE in a place. I’ve hit my 3 year mark on this place, so my searching is in full effect.

  6. Books.  I’m currently reading Grapes of Wrath and I’m not very far, I’m struggling with the idea that all of these things that happened during the Dust Bowl – the greed, the misuse and misunderstanding of our environment, the poverty and mistreatment of the poor – and they could just as easily have happened today.  It’s depressing to think that the human condition hasn’t changed much in the last 80 or so years and that John Steinbeck could just as easily be writing about factory farms and strip mines today.  In lighter fare, I’ve been reading a great deal of fan fiction type stuff  “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell (Harry Potter)  and “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks  (Wills and Kate).  I also just finished The Girl You Left Behind (JoJo Moyes) and Uglies (Scott Westerfield).  If you use goodreads, I’d love to share book ideas with you.  Come find me.

  7. The woman who does my hair.  I’ve cut my hair pixie short, grown it to the tops of my shoulders, and chopped it so many times I can’t even count.  Two years ago I found Beth and begged her to help me grow it out.  Well and truly.  And every single time I’ve felt like throwing my hands up and saying, “Chop it.”, she’s waved her magic shears and made me like my hair again.

  8. My flat iron.  Which is just one more reason I love the woman that does my hair because she’s the one who introduced us.  My hair is not straight enough to be considered straight or curly enough to be considered curly.  It’s just enough of both of those to be a frizzy mess of “does whatever the hell it wants” and I can think of about 20 million things I would rather do than my hair.  Enter the flat iron.  It takes less than 10 minutes, makes my hair look like someone who knows what they are doing did it, and it stays.  Hairstyling for the helpless.

  9. Down comforters.  Curling up in a big pile of fluffy warmth?  Awesome.  My favorite is when Jesse takes a hair dryer and warms it all up first.  (Because he’s awesome.)

  10. Friends & family.  I’m a big mush.  I’m not going to pretend otherwise.  I love my online “penpal” friends.  I love my face to face over coffee friends.  I love my I-never-get-to-see-them-but-we-talk-on-the-phone-for-hours friends.  I love my family that loves the best and tolerates the worst me.    I’m just amazingly grateful every day (especially on days where it feels like my house is falling down around my ears) for the people in my corner.

Ten little (and not at all little) things.  Now I’m off to watch some Netflix and knit.

Changing the Story

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There once was a girl.  She had dreams.  Big dreams.  When her elementary school friends were answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Mommy”  she answered “President”.  She hit a few bumps and finished her college degree when she was 27.  She was married then.  And when the offers came in from big 4 accounting firms, she started thinking about how she was going to go law school and how she was going to make partner and do great things.

But she didn’t.  Her husband didn’t want to move to a big city,  He had a good job with his family’s local company.  He worked hard and liked the community where they lived.

So they stayed.  She took a smaller job and in a couple of years, got pregnant.  They discussed having one parent at home and it made the most sense for her.  So she quit her job and spent the days fixing up the little home they purchased so it was ready when the baby came.  The baby came and a little over a year later she got pregnant again.

A lot happened in those early years of babies.  Days were busy and full and hard and the girl who wanted to be President one day wondered how she got into the place she never expected.

Today, those babies are 8 and 6.  She’s registered for classes only to drop them.  Sometimes a few weeks in and sometimes before they even start.  Her husband is busy and her kids are busy and someone needs to hold all the pieces together and life is more peaceful when she isn’t trying to juggle classwork with kids’ doctor appointments and yard work and making sure dinner hits the table on time.  She bristles that this is her life.

Because she never wanted to be just a mom.  Or just a wife.  She’s better than that.

But that’s just part of her story.  It’s the story she’s woven together of who she should be.  It’s a story of gold stars and achievement and this character she’s created when she gets scared she isn’t enough just on her own.

Sometimes she’s scared to admit that she’s happy being domestic. She’s not happy all the time of course, because it’s hard.  Washing dishes and folding laundry and picking up toys for the 100th time is mindless and repetitive and no one is handing out gold stars. No one notices how smart you are busy making beds.

But if you ask her to describe where she wants to be in three years she’ll tell you that she wants a warm and cozy home with children who know they are loved.  She wants time to enjoy her books, and journals, and yarn.  She wants a few close friends to share the good and the bad and the simple and the hard.  She wants to curl up next to her husband at the end of day, productive tired and sleepy content.

She doesn’t want to be President.  Or finish her MLIS.  She wants to be just a wife and a just mother.  Joyfully. Unabashedly.  Content.

She wants to embrace that her story has changed.  And that the universe has written her a story so much better than the one she wrote for herself.

september goals

Last week I noticed that I’ve been getting notices about the blog 31 days in October series that takes over the internet each year around this time.

I’ve tried it.  A couple of times I’ve even done a pretty good job with it.

And I really started thinking about how I’d like to do it again this year.

Except I can’t even manage to post my goals for September until we are halfway through the month.

Anyway, I think I’ll be skipping that.

Here’s a few pictures from this month:

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The kids went back to school.  Violet has even asked me to do her hair most mornings.  Considering 90% of our arguments last year started because she didn’t even want to brush her hair, I’m thinking third grade is bringing about some changes.  Abram is loving in first grade though he’s jealous of his sister’s homework.  He was so thrilled when his teacher sent home a worksheet.  (And then there is me who thinks elementary school students with homework is ridiculous, but my kids seem to love it, so what do I know?!?)

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The weather here has been beautiful and we had some landscaping done so we’ve been watering our sod.  The kids have been taking our evening watering as an opportunity to run through the sprinklers.  That last gasp until summer is really over.

As for my August goals, I actually did pretty well.

Fully complete my checklist every day.  

Well, maybe not every day, but I’ve been much better about regular bedtimes and wake times and making sure to eat protein at breakfast.

Finish 3 knitting projects:
– Henslowe shawl
1 pair of socks
– Over-the-Top top

I’m so close on the sweater – maybe a couple more hours and some finish work but I have a deadline on another pair of socks and Christmas knitting is starting to kick in.  I’m happy I finished the Henslowe and socks.  I think I may have been overly ambitious trying to finish all three.

Rearrange the work area in the kitchen so it’s more of a homework station for Violet and Abram.

Get back into the groove of making dinner by cooking at least 2 nights a week. 

Boom.  Granted some of those nights dinner making consisted of grilled cheese and salad, but if we weren’t going out, I’m calling it a win.

Finish my home projects plan.

Not even close.

So….goals

1. Purge & get home office/craft room set up.

2. Knitting.

  • Start and finish birthday socks
  • Wind and start Christmas gift hat, socks, and sweater
  • Donate or sell stash yarn that I will not be using

3. Keep plugging away on that daily checklist.

4. Handwrite a note each week.

5. Wear my UP band each day.

 

And let me tell you…I’m not doing very well on those as of now, but now that I’ve written them out here in cyberspace, hopefully I’ll be a little more dedicated for the last half of the month.

August Goals

I was talking to Jesse the other day about how I feel it’s time to cut back on the social calendar and snuggle in a bit and he laughed.  “Well, it’s August 1st.  You’re right on schedule.”   I love summer.  I love playing with the kids at the pool and spending time at Jesse’s family cabin.  I love the warmth and the sunshine and the gazillion activities we get to choose from each and every day.  But with August comes a natural lull for me.  I’m not quite ready for summer to be over, but I’m starting to crave the structure and routine of the school year.

I’m thinking about whether backpacks need to be replaced and what if any lunch box supplies should be purchased.  I’m looking for deals on school supplies and uniform purchases.  Jesse and I recently decided to move his home office upstairs and share the space while turning my old work space into a homework station so I’m deciding how I want to stock and organize that area.

Speaking of organizing,  I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about home projects that I really should start to tackle.

And since we are heading into fall and my first year fully unmedicated, I really need to start focusing on taking care of myself.

So anyway…all that to say I have some goals for the month of August.

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1.  Fully complete my checklist every day.

2.  Finish 3 knitting projects:
Henslowe shawl
– 1 pair of socks
Over-the-Top top

3.  Rearrange the work area in the kitchen so it’s more of a homework station for Violet and Abram.

4. Get back into the groove of making dinner by cooking at least 2 nights a week.  (I know, I’m setting the bar low, but I think I cooked two meals for all of July so it’s a reasonable goal.)

5. Finish my home projects plan.

And off I go to make some chicken salad for dinner tomorrow!! What fun plans do you have for August?

A Kick-Ass Year

I like lists.  I make lists of knitting projects I want to attempt, books I’ve read (and want to read), movies to see, things I want to buy, rooms I need to purge, activities that make me happy, and destinations to visit.  I make daily to-do lists, and weekly checklists, and year long goal lists.

And that’s what I did this year instead of make a single resolution.  I had a good year in 2014, but I left a lot of things by the wayside.  It was a year of healing and accepting limitations and I spent a good deal of time figuring out what things are really important to me (people who love me and make me laugh, clean underwear, and parenting well).

Knowing that, I have a good idea of what I want to accomplish in 2015.  I want to create healthy routines (so the laundry gets done and I have the energy and patience to parent) and celebrate those I love in life.  Here are (some of) the items on my list in 2015:

1. Mail one handwritten letter out each week.
2. Take a picture a day.
3. Knit Violet a shawl for her First Communion.
4. Read 50 books.
5. Knit socks.
6. Plan meals & prepare them instead of eating out so often.
7. Make the bed.
8. Devote some time each day with my children individually doing something THEY enjoy.
9. Maintain a regular bedtime (most of the time).
10. Do a load of laundry every day.  (I somehow got out the habit of doing this which has really thrown things out of balance.)

I also have a list of house projects I’d like to tackle, a few knitting techniques I’d like to learn, and some financial goals for our family.

In general, I’m gearing up for a year where I can “kick-ass at life” (my sister decided on her 30th birthday that she was going to kick-ass at life and I loved that idea, so I’m stealing it).

A New Format

Yes.  I have a new design.  Again.  When I can’t think of something to write, I putter. I’m a big goon that way but my flakey-ness is not to blame this time.  I switched platforms. I’ve been using (and loving) WordPress for years but paying for the hosting seemed silly when I’m certainly not doing this for income. Please be patient with me while I straighten up a bit and add a few knick knacks and doodads – the content is all the same and transferred but some odds and ends got shuffled around a bit in the move.

In other news, I’m starting yet another something.  You may have seen it on instagram.  Despite the upcoming holidays and vacations and winter, I’ve decided (again – I’m noticing a pattern, too) that it’s time to get my butt in gear.  A few weeks back, I had someone accidentally call me hefty (it really truly was an accident and they felt terrible so I’m not going to name names.) I wasn’t insulted mostly because it was an accident but also because it’s true.  And despite not being insulted and definitely because it’s true, it was a wake up call that it might be time to chase down my missing UP band charger and get serious.

While I was at it I decided to brainstorm a bunch of different ways for me to be healthier and then committed to checking off at least 5 of them everyday for 100 healthy days.  It’s 100 days – let’s see how many I can make, shall we?  I probably could have been more aggressive in my goal setting, but again…Christmas, Thanksgiving, vacations, winter.  And that whole, I’m not very good at completing things I start thing, so I’m setting myself up for some wins.  Unbeknownst to me (and I thought I was being so original) #100healthydays is totally a thing.

I’ve also been knitting (I know, that’s the blog these days – new designs, knitting, and wait for it…) and watching lots of television.  Two of my girlfriends got me hooked on Nashville last year and I’m loving this season.  I’m interested to see how the whole Rayna/Luke thing works out.  And Pretty Little Liars.  Oh my word, I was talking to my mom about this show earlier in the week and I’m sure I sounded like a complete lunatic.  Teenagers being stalked by a mysterious all-knowing someone and dating bad boys (and teachers!) as if regular old high school drama wasn’t enough.  It’s sooooo fluffy and good.  Perfect for finishing all the projects.  I have two more gifts done and just about three more on my “it would be nice to have this done before Christmas” list but starting in January was definitely the way to go, minus a few ends weaving and blocking projects.

Five Goals (September)

I’ve always been a checklist/goal getter/dream bigger kind of girl. This year I realized that a lot of the things I was setting out for myself to accomplish just weren’t getting done. So I decided to pare down my list to five things, join Hayley for Goals with Grace, and 1) really focus on the things I wanted to do 2) not stress myself out when things weren’t being checked off my list.

Let’s start off by looking how I did with August’s Five Goals:

1.
Read 4 books.- I read The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Weight of Small Things by Sherri Wood Emmons and am currently reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I’d recommend “This is How You Lose Her” and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” but thought “The Weight of Small Things” was clunky and terrible. I’m enjoying “Cloud Atlas” but it’s slow going and I don’t want recommend it just yet.

2. Ride 100 miles. – This isn’t even funny. I rode three miles. THREE. I think I need to focus a little more on that come September.

3. Knit (finish) a scarf. – I’ve got about 20 inches left to do but I had to start another project. I LOVE the herringbone pattern (especially now that I’ve figured how the first stitch works) but it’s BORING. I had to mix it up by adding another Christmas present project to the mix.

4. Purge/clean/organize kitchen cabinets. – I got half of them purged, cleaned, lined and reorganized. I have about three more to take care of before I can officially check this off my list of things to do but the one’s I was worried about are done.

5.
Prepare back to school routine/chore charts.Done.

September’s Five

1. Ride 100 miles. (Let’s try this again)

2. Purge linen closet.

3. Frame & hang pictures for “Grand Central” wall.

4. Establish a household/school routine.

5. Finish scarf & secret Christmas knitting project, start mitts.

A Daily Checklist for the Kids

This summer is flying by and I really want to kick back and relax and enjoy the last few weeks before my babies head back to school. But I also know that the prep work I do today will make that transition come September a whole lot easier. With that in mind, I’ve been reviewing different ways to make routine/chore charts.

One of my favorite ideas was Jessica’s The Morning High Five (and all her other high fives) but because I wanted the full day on one sheet of paper, I gave up the fun little handprint and created my own form. (The daily five concept might be stretched when I say your “daily five morning, daily five afternoon, daily five evening” but I wanted something for the printable that wasn’t my kiddos names, so pretend.)

With one of my children being a pre-reader, I made one using mostly clipart. (Anything to help along that independence – especially on school mornings!!)

My kiddos like to check things off once they’ve done them (and I’m the same way) so I laminated them before clipping them to their boards and attached a 3M Command hook for hanging a dry erase marker. This also allows me to write in/update their chore of the week without having to print a new form. (I use this list to help me assign chores but I know there is a list attributed to Maria Montessori on Pinterest as well. Basically, if they show interest in me doing it – I start teaching them and once I get comfortable with them doing it, I add it to their rotating list)

If you are interested in these printables, let me know if you’d like the clip art or word version and I’ll send a pdf to your email!

My Five Goals

I’m two books behind schedule on my 50 books in 2014 goal; I really need to start being more active now that my foot is starting to really heal, and I have quite a few projects I want to tackle. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been writing down 10 tasks to accomplish each month and then promptly ignoring all but one or two.

This month, I decided to make my list shorter and focus on the things that make the most sense (have the biggest benefit once completed) and then blog it so I have the accountability.

1. Read 4 books.

2. Ride 100 miles.

3. Knit (finish) a scarf.

4. Purge/clean/organize kitchen cabinets.

5. Prepare back to school routine/chore charts.

I’m linking up with the Tiny Twig’s Goals with Grace this month if you’d like to join in!

Lessons from the Summer

1. “It” really does do go by faster than you could imagine. Abram turned five. Violet, seven. All three of us are heading back to school in September and it seems like just yesterday that they were babies. It seems like just like yesterday I was a baby.

2. I don’t enjoy reading out loud. I’ll do it – especially if one of my little’s ask – but it makes me a little crazy because it’s so sloooooow.

3. I’ve been purling the first stitch all wrong for the last two years (and now I know the right way to do it).

4. I should never buy another piece of jewelry. I wear my diamond earrings, my Stony Lake necklace, and the ring Jesse bought me when I had Abram. And that’s it. All the rest just makes a big mess in my jewelry box.

5. I like road trips with my kids.

6. If Jesse isn’t around, I really can remove a fish from my hook without cutting my hands or squealing like a girl. But only because I have to.

7. When the doctor tells me to take it easy and rest, I really should take it easy and rest.

8. Birkenstocks are really, really supportive shoes. (And I guess they are fashionable?)

9. I like jersey sheets. Except for folding them or making the bed with them. So basically, just sleeping on them.

10. We have hummingbirds in our yard.

Linking up here.

Five Things I’d Tell Myself as a New Mom

1. A good mom makes sacrifices, but doesn’t sacrifice herself.

When Violet was born they thought she had a condition called LQTS. Between worrying about her and a bout of postpartum depression, I should have been taking an antidepressant. But I was breastfeeding and none of the medications I could take to treat my depression were considered LQTS-safe. I wanted to be a “good mom” so I kept breastfeeding and tried to put on a brave face. It didn’t work. I can’t look back at that time without wishing I had done it differently. My life was beautiful and I had never been more miserable. After four months, I switched Violet to formula and started taking Lexapro. I wish I would have realized that good moms don’t always do what “good moms” are supposed to do, but they do what is best for themselves AND their family. A burnt out mom isn’t good for anyone.

2. The days are long, the years are short.

One day when I was complaining about how hard it al was one of my best friends told me to listen to You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins so I did. And I rolled my eyes. I wasn’t going to miss being sleep deprived or lugging a baby into my daughter’s once a week playgroup. I wasn’t going to miss toys all over the floor and diapers and spit up and drool covered shirts.

And in truth, I don’t miss being sleep deprived. Or trying to contain a toddler while breastfeeding a baby. I don’t miss messy diapers. Or having my shirt covered in baby goop. But I do miss the 3am feedings where the house was completely still except for the suck and sigh of a bitty baby. I do miss the smell of a freshly bathed, sleepy headed little being rocked to sleep. I do look at my almost seven and five year old and wonder how so much time has gone by so quickly and I wish I would have slowed down a little and enjoyed it more.

3. Know how to say no.

The year I had Abram I also served on the board of a volunteer organization, helped organize a fundraiser for a local non-profit, and co-chaired a committee for an event with over 300 attendees. I don’t remember a whole lot from that year but at the end of it my husband sat me down and made it very clear I needed to make my family the priority. He was right. I think of how much more I would have enjoyed my family if I wasn’t rushing off to this meeting, or trying to type up that email, and I wish I would have known how to say no.

4. Know when to say yes.

As a parent, my first reaction is too often to say no. Wearing pajamas to preschool, getting out the paints and making a mess, going to the park. Is it really a big deal if Abram has swimsuit shorts under his pants instead of underwear? Will the world come to an end if Violet’s hair isn’t pulled back perfectly? Being able to take a step back and pick battles is important and it’s a lesson I still struggle to remember. I wish there was just a way to permanently etch the “If you can say yes, say yes” mentality into my brain.

5. Chill out already.

I’m too hard on my kids. And then too hard on myself for being too hard on my kids. And then I’m annoyed with myself, so I’m snappy and hard on my kids and the cycle just continues. Sometimes, all I need to do is just take a breath, realize that kids are kids, and enjoy their stories and thoughts and games. I’m an imperfect person raising imperfect people and that’s okay. That’s how the world has worked for thousands of years and mankind is still here. Imperfect and beautiful just like my children.

What advice would you give yourself as a new mom? What are somethings you wish you had known?

Happy Mother’s Day.

Currently

Reading: I haven’t picked up much since I shared my books read post and if I don’t want to fall behind on my 50 book goal, I need to pick up the pace. I did start An Everlasting Meal and I’ve been looking through scores of friends-given-magazines (godsends, my friends). Thankfully, I’ve also been given quite a few book recommendations. I’m supposed to wear this boot for about another five weeks but I’m off the pain medication. Hopefully I’ll be able to read more or my brains might turn to mush and run out my ears with all the television I’ve been watching.

Watching: What am I not watching? I’ve rewatched all but the last Harry Potter movies and that’s the plan for tonight. I’m loving the new season of Game of Thrones and this season of Mad Men is redeeming the previous two. This last episode when the partners sit down with Don…PERFECT ending. I’m looking forward to next week. I’m also watching Once Upon a Time. Jules has this theory that shows tend to go downhill in their third season and I’d have to say this show is holding true to that maxim. It’s still watchable, but a lot of the magic has been lost for me this season. Maybe because I was never a fan of the whole Wizard of Oz thing? I don’t know…Do you watch it?

Goals: After walking away from the cleanse, I’d have to say my major goal this month is to just get my foot healed. My house is messy, I have an abundance of projects I want to complete in the yard, and we finally are having spring (though you might not know it this week) so I want to get out and enjoy!!

I’d also like to break out my big camera more this month. I haven’t been using it very much but I recently took a Lightroom class and I’d like to put some of this new editing knowledge to use.

Eating: I just ended that three one day cleanse and my stomach is feeling a little skittish. I’ve been eating plenty of salads and drinking my favorite mojito tasting juice as well as the green juice but I’m not really ready to take on much more than that right now. I wonder how I would have felt had I finished the whole thing?!?

Listening: I need some good music recommendations. I haven’t been listening to much lately besides the house music that Jess plays when he is working at night. I still can’t get over his spotify music choices.

Blog watching: I’ve been reading knitting bloggers like crazy lately. And the pictures onAlicia Paulson’s blog are simply breathtaking (as is everything else she does). If it wouldn’t be completely weird inviting someone who has no idea who I am over for tea and knitting, she would definitely garner an invite. I stumbled on How Sweet Eats a few months ago and the recipes are great but I absolutely ADORE the crumbs. She’s got great beauty finds and random bits and she makes me laugh so hard. I’d love to swill a cocktail with Jessica. What is it exactly that makes me thing bloggers = sharing a beverage? Non-bevarage related blogging news: THIS. Elizabeth Esther knocks this post on mis-using the bible out of the PARK. And I can say that because I’m guilty of doing each and all of those at one time or another.

Knitting: I can not finish my mom’s sweater for the life of me. With as much lying about as I’ve been doing, I told her I’d have it done by her birthday but this collar is taking me a lot longer to finish than I anticipated. I LOVE the pattern and the yarn is GORGEOUS. I’m using Brown Sheep’s Lanaloft sports weight in Purple Iris. My gauge seems to be running a little high but when I knit the test swatch it came out perfect so I have my fingers crossed it fits her well. I found the pattern in Green Gables Knits by Joanna Johnson. I love this book. It shares pictures from L.M. Montgomery’s Collection, quotes from “Anne of Green Gables” and every single pattern is one I want to knit. After this I have a few other Christmas presents to finish and I want to try a pair of socks.

Loving: Night-time snuggles with my kids. It terrifies me to no end how close Abram is getting to kindergarten. He’s still my snuggly little boy and our evening conversations make me laugh. I recently wrote down the highlights of one simply because I don’t ever want to forget how adorably clever and silly and wonderfully his little boy brain works. And Violet amazes me with her stubborn refusal to just close her eyes and sleep. She simply WILL NOT SLEEP until she has exhausted one of us into falling asleep with her. In the last few weeks, we’ve just given in and have started lying with her until she sleeps. I’m getting better at staying awake longer than her, but not much.

So what are currently enjoying, loving, doing this month? Do you have some music recommendations you can give me (I like everything)?

Our Summer List

It isn’t sketched out on the (nonexistent) chalkboard wall. It isn’t hanging prettily from our fridge or thumbtacked to a corkboard. I had all these plans for a twee doodled list displayed in some twee crafty way but my summer scrooge got the best of me.

Our list looks like this:

It’s a short, brainstormed list written on the back of the month of May in my planner. We did it at Fantastic Sam’s while trying to keep the kids from getting bored while waiting for haircuts. When they got tired of thinking, I handed them the pen and paper and they drew on it. The heart doodle is mine though. (I’m quite the artist)

Our list isn’t chock full of every summer activity we could possibly want. It has a few big things, a few certain things (a trip to Michigan wouldn’t be complete without a rollercoaster ride or two), a few simple things. We might do all of them, we probably won’t, and I’m sure we’ll do lots of other things as well.

I love lists. I always have. And the idea of a full on comprehensive summer list a la Meg Duerksen sounds heavenly. But you know how long it took to make last year’s? Three hours. Not the list. The list took hardly any time at all. But making the pretty? Took forever. Jesse took the kids to the park and on a boat ride. I made a pretty list.

So this year we have a simple list. Made while waiting for haircuts.

And then we went out for ice cream.

Seems like a good way to start the summer.

365

I went out of town with my love for the weekend.

I got dressed up. Tried escargot at dinner (like a seafood tasting mushroom). Bought books and yarn and lipstick. Took a nap.

I spent it laughing and joking and dream sharing with my partner.

It was pretty much perfect.

Tomorrow I turn 35. I have a whole list of things I want to do. But I’ve decided to slow down.

And focus on just one.

I know that I’ll still take on other projects and get overwhelmed and want to throw everything away. But this year – one thing is going to be constant.

Do you know Jules? I’m just going to put it out there and say I love this woman. I’ve never met her in real life but it’s kind of my goal (if she doesn’t put a restraining order out on me first). She’s pretty much the most awesome person I’ve met in blog world. She reads – a lot. She has this awesome William Morris Project. She does weekly recaps of happy things. I just love her and want to copycat her all the time which brings me to my point. This last year she decided to do a 365 Body, Mind, Spirit challenge. I usually say “bah” to the whole 365 thing BUT it’s Jules and I love her and always want to copy her. So I’m going to, at least partly.

All that to say:

For 365 days, I will walk/run/jog. It might be a mile – it might be ten (probably not ten), but I will lace up my shoes and move. One caveat, Jules walks outside every day. She also lives in California. I do not. When it’s below zero, I’m lacing up my shoes and heading to my nearest treadmill. In the interest of honesty, I want you to know that.

Happy Monday!! What are you looking forward to this week?

Where I Am (an update on last year's wishes)

In less than a month, I turn thirty-five.   Last year I shared my birthday wishes and with only a month left, I thought it would be a good time to check in on them.

–  I feel like me (or maybe even me but better) since working through the hard stuff with my counselor and figuring out my medication – my hope is that these changes will continue to be as successful in the next year as they have been the last few months.

Compared to two years ago, I’m a rock star.  Compared to where I want to be, I have a long way to go.  Isn’t that the way of it?  Right now, I’m realizing that I still have things that need to be worked out.  And that there will always be things that need work.

–  I’m thankful for how Mr.G and my marriage has grown in the last year.  I pray that God continues to bring us closer to what a truly loving, supportive, and nurturing partnership should be.

I can say without question that we are much stronger today than we’ve ever been.  I can also say that we still bicker and argue and say things we shouldn’t at times.  I think the biggest difference today is that we’ve learned how to love each other even when we aren’t nuts about each other.  

– Lately I feel my interests are pulling me in so many different directions and while I feel so blessed to have so many things that I enjoy, I’m praying that I will be shown where my efforts and interests will create the best impact.

I’m still struggling with too many interests and too little time.  I started taking a photography class, I’m trying to sew, knit, and embroider regularly.  I’m pulling back from volunteering but feel guilty about it.  I quit blogging only to start again.  Trying to find balance is going to be a life long challenge for me.

– My family has so many wonderful things planned for the summer and then V will be headed off to kindergarten and A preschool in the fall.  I hope that I can embrace all the fun and all the challenges and all the CHANGES that we will be facing over the next year.

To say that this has been an easy year would be a lie.  We’ve gone through some really difficult times and I’ve learned a lot of lessons.  Tuesday mornings are always the most difficult (I have no idea why), but both of my kids are loving school and doing well.  I love the place where we are right now (most of the time) and my desire to embrace it all is how this blog got started!

– I’d like to continue growing and learning.  I’ve always been someone who enjoys mastering a new thing – whether that be an equation, a stitch, or a concept.  I’d like to take advantage of the time my children are in school by mastering some of my interests and possibly opening a shop (goal date: January 2013)

Yeah, no shop.  I have a hard enough time finding balance that I don’t need to add one more thing to my list of responsibilities.  But the growing and learning?  Definitely.  I feel like the growing pains are pretty constant around here.

– I’ve found that I’ve had a lot more energy to tackle the to-do lists – both the everyday ones around my home and the 101 list that I created earlier this year. My hope is that I’ll continue to check things off my lists, creating a haven both inside my home and my heart.

My list is always growing.  My list of 101 things isn’t being checked off as quickly as I’d like, but I’ve also realized that my goals and needs have changed since I’ve written it.  Creating a haven in my home and heart have become even more important with our move last fall. 

I’m already starting to think about my “wishes” for 35.  I see a lot of changes in store for the next year and I’m excited to be taking them on.

Have you taken on any new changes in the last year or so?  How do you stay motivated and focused?