In January

Hannah asked me an interesting question recently, “Do you know you are changing when you’re in the middle of it?”

Fantastic question, right, and exactly the kind of thing I love to mull over. When you are really changing, you’re just trying to keep your head above water and you don’t have time to think about it. Like when you have an infant. Or when you move and are finding your groove in a new place.

It was also a great question because I realized that although I’m doing new little things all the time, I’m in a pretty comfortable place overall. Which means I’m probably not growing/changing all that much. I like to think otherwise, and the truth hurts a little bit.

I am needing a good challenge, something that takes more than the little bits of me that I devote to various things. I do my Bible study and that is comfortable. I exercise in a comfortable way. I share a comfortable amount with other people. I am comfortable most days in my routines. That sameness is good in some ways and certainly it’s good for our family.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for our family to stretch a little too. Last weekend we did a snowshoe on an icy small peak that was tricky with the littles. We were sliding on the way up, literally bear crawling to keep from slipping back down the peak, and it was definitely running through my mind that it might not be our most brilliant move….we did have to come down, after all! But we plodded on and when we turned around to head back, not only were we all filled with satisfaction, but, despite my fears, the kids had the time of their lives. Sammy sledded down much of the way on his bum. I sat on the back of my snowshoes and slid. It was fun and silly and we all felt more alive for the challenge and discomfort.

It’s a lesson I need to apply personally.

Yet, I will be fair in saying that despite my need for challenge, I’ve been learning lots. I’ve learned that my attitude makes all the difference of whether or not something works for our family. If I am stressed and rushing, an activity does not work, where if my attitude is better for the same tight scheduling, it’s just fine. The power of thought is so great, in this and other situations. It’s easy to think about discipline in a physical sense, but harder and much more important to discipline our thinking- the mind is so powerful.

I’m realizing my penchant for excuses that boil down to laziness. There is always an excuse! An easy example is getting things done in a day…there are a million reasons I can give you of why I didn’t practice piano or exercise or pray but really, it’s just that I didn’t feel like doing whatever it was in a given moment. Humbling thought to realize that I can’t lay blame.

Confession: Until this week, I hadn’t cleaned my house in a really long time. I’m always picking up. Constantly picking up. I call that cleaning. Somewhere along the way, I had given up on real cleaning as a worthless cause (excuses again!). It wasn’t conscious but I just stopped doing it. A friend mentioned that she, in homeschooling, was training her kids for life, and I loved that concept. Hello! Cleaning the house. Life skill. So, we cleaned the house instead of doing school one day. I’ve been decluttering for months (Life Changing Magic in slow motion, but steady!), but I couldn’t really feel the difference because the house wasn’t clean underneath. It was a huge present to all of us to have a clean house, and it didn’t take us all that long (the decluttering paid off). I’m not going to go crazy and say I’ll clean the house every week, but cleaning the house and feeling good in my space is an effort worth the work.

And because decluttering is an obsession, I feel like I have turned a corner in understanding the need of this practice. I suddenly got a vision of having a home where the things I had brought me joy, that there were not things piled up that I hadn’t finished or hadn’t decided about, a home that reflects who we are as a family currently, not who we were in the past. It’s not rocket science but I understood it more than I had before. And I’m making progress. This week I took 7 bags to the thrift store with things that were harder to part with….I’m getting there. I got rid of a sweater I had knit that isn’t my style. I got rid of practical shoes that I don’t like. I got rid of some unfinished projects that I didn’t find worth finishing. This was huge! I want to walk into my house and feel uplifted and joyful. I am still culling the excess and then I am lacking cozy, homemade elements to make it personal, but I’ll add after I’ve taken away. It’s a long process but so worth the journey.

The next step is making it more “lean” around our house and farm, to be intentional in our movements and actions, but cleaning out is the first step. I’m still too much in that stage to move on to where I need to redirect energy.

From the bookshelf…

  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman
  • All the Places You Can Go by John Ortberg
  • A Maine Hamlet by Lura Beam
  • The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

Have you ever found yourself in a comfort rut? What helped you?

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How I became a hockey mom

Otherwise titled, what the kids are up to!

So yes, I am a hockey mom, but it’s not what you think. :) It’s better, awesome in fact. Let me back up a bit. My boys (BenBen especially) have long wanted to play hockey. I don’t let my kids do individual activities until they are 7 (my arbitrary line in the sand), so it was an easy no. BenBen is 6. And yet, hockey is one of those things where I just don’t go there. It’s consuming. It’s travel and weekends and many practices. I told BenBen that I want him to follow his interests, but that he shouldn’t get his hopes on hockey.

Hannah, on the other hand, is interested in figure skating. Well, she’s my daughter so she’s interested in everything. We skate at least once a week, but she really wanted lessons too. I had let that idea sit for a couple years, and finally decided about 3 weeks ago to at least get information about it. I got in touch with someone and they told me they weren’t taking new students this late in the season. Easy no.

The next day, literally, a friend told me about a hockey club starting in Canada. It’s for all ages, boys and girls, and it’s free. No travel. No games. Just kids having fun and playing hockey twice a week. Bingo!

Of course we have no hockey gear and I didn’t know the first thing about hockey gear, so we went over to check it out, telling the kids that without gear I wasn’t sure we could play. When we arrived at the rink, the man running the program told me he had some random donated gear in a back room and we were welcome to sort through it and take anything we needed. Amazingly, I found almost everything the three kids would need. The second night, I asked around at the rink and was able to cobble together everything that we were lacking. One man told me he had spare gear collecting dust in his garage and just stop by his house and he would give it to me. In two nights I had 3 kids fully geared up for hockey at zero cost.

Now, actually dressing the kids for hockey is an entirely different story. It literally takes 30 minutes to get the 3 of them dressed. Real hockey moms, I salute you!

These practices are filling my boys desire to play hockey and Hannah’s desire to improve her skating. This is so much better than figure skating lessons! If I did that, the boys would be sitting on the side, but instead, all of the kids are on the ice at the same time. Truly a blessing.

This is a happy hockey mom.

In fact, the interesting thing that has changed this year is that we are doing more activities. If I think of all that my kids do, it’s a lot, but I know why we do what we do. It somehow isn’t too crazy. I talked to the kids about this, how our activities do not own us, and that we get to choose how we live our days, so if something isn’t working or if things feel too busy, we have freedom to change it.

I told myself that too.

It works because everything is either 5 minutes from our house, or 3 of the kids do the activity at the same time, or both. We don’t do games or weekends or traveling. I like simplicity a lot, but I truly feel happy about the opportunities we’ve jumped into. And if it ever doesn’t work, we’ll change it.

This winter, Hannah decided she wants to play basketball, and there is a sweet rec program in our town: two days a week with no games. It’s a great social activity for Hannah. She’s not in school, but it’s a way for her to know girls from school and make friends outside our normal circle. I know that it takes a lot of trying things to figure out what you enjoy. The season is 2 months and that seems like a small investment to let her try something.

So, Hannah is the activity queen. She is knitting and cross stitching and plays a lot of legos. She loves to read and write pen pal letters. She is playing fiddle and piano, doing gymnastics, and tells me that history is her favorite subject.

BenBen is also proud to be a fiddle player. He’s in a lesson with Hannah and me, but it’s too fast paced for him. Instead, he and I practice at home. He has (kind of) mastered “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and told me he’s ready to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. This is truly what he wants, because I think he’s young for it. BenBen warms my heart when I watch him at nursing home visits. He loves talking to the older men and seemingly connects with them. Last week, he and an older man were throwing a beach ball back and forth, and I’m not sure who was having more fun. What a sweetie! BenBen dreams about hunting and fishing, and this boy is a fantastic cross country skiier.

Sammy is 4. He jumps right in at hockey practice, even though he’s about the youngest one there. Sammy’s latest interest is puzzles, and he and BenBen have started playing together more, especially while Hannah is doing on schoolwork. They play “war guys”, and Sammy is just all boy. He is also the one who comes down into our bed 6 nights out of 7 to snuggle. He’s quippy and quick, and although John is quippy and quick too, I am pretty sure Sammy has him beat.

One year olds are plain tricky. I love Micah. He’s a sweetheart, super cute, and makes us laugh with his little starting-to-talk comments. He calls me “dada”. Actually, he calls all of us “dada”, but “dada” with emotion is me. Micah got a doll for Christmas that he sleeps with. Every morning when he wakes up, he makes sure that his baby comes down stairs with him. Otherwise, Micah is busy as is any self-respecting one year old. He’s in cabinets. He’s in drawers. He’s up the stairs. He’s pulling books off shelves. It’s just busy busy busy. It’s funny that he also knows how to turn on the charm around other people (not necessarily a bad quality). Many people ask me if he ever cries and my first thought is to laugh, and then I realized that he never cries around other people. In public, he is all smiles and charm. Funny, right?

Have you found peace with kid activities or the opposite? Do you have rules for your kids about what and when they can do activities? This is new territory, so I’m always seeking thoughtfulness!

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Meet the piglets

“That is the strongest animal I have ever known! And that phrase, ‘squealing like a pig’, I know what that means now.”

This is the first thing John said to me the day we got the piglets. In fact, he had quite a story to back up his claim- I can only be sad that I didn’t witness it.

Pigs have been on our list as an animal to try for a couple years, but we have never had trouble sourcing a pig for meat each fall. So, it never seemed a priority. Then, friends introduced us to the idea of letting pigs root up the manure in the barn and making the mucking out job of spring easier and pigs went a little higher up the list. We can eat them AND they make a job easier. Okay!

John got a bag of corn this fall with the intention of sprinkling it over the manure in the barn as it comes and a plan of getting pigs this spring. But then, he moved the chickens into the main barn and the chickens were eating that corn as quickly as he could sprinkle it. Hmmm.

Enter a local Amish farmer who mentioned that he had a couple extra piglets and did John know anyone who was interested. The price was unbeatable. We thought about it for a couple days and couldn’t think of many good reasons not to try it, especially after we talked to several friends who have raised pigs. With the size of those animals (4 months old), they told us, you could almost eat them. They aren’t full size but they are big enough for meat. If it doesn’t work, that’s an easy out. Sold! So, John came home with a couple of piglets in the back of the car (in a big rubber trough).

That was the easy part.

One of them went fairly easily into the barn (in a separate pen than the other animals of course!). The other one wasn’t so keen on that idea and John literally wrestled the pig for 30 minutes. There is nothing to grab onto on a piglet and John worked so hard to hold it down, he got sick afterwards! The pig was squealing the entire time. It was quite the show!

Our money’s worth in education already.

We have had the pigs almost a week and a half now, and so far so good. The other animals don’t like them all that much, but Lila, who at first fought to get as far away from them in the barn as possible, has now somewhat adopted them and actually licks them. They love it.

The benefit of keeping them in the winter, instead of raising them in the summer, is that the ground is frozen. This means hopefully no rooting out of their home by digging. Really, the main objective with keeping pigs is keeping them in. We do not want to be chasing and wrestling pigs. End of story.

That means, once the ground thaws, they will likely become meat. Of course they aren’t eating grass and other fresh things, which would be lovely, but John is perfectly convinced that this way is easier. We’ll see!

We might decide that buying pork from someone else is the best deal going. But, you never know that until you try!

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Where it really happens

I want to say that this year, instead of making big goals, I’m focusing on my habits. That is mostly true.

Habits are what I actually get done, not projects. So, I’m going a step further and not only say what habit, but when and how, and make it a routine. It is nerdy to the core but it’s simpler than certain goals for certain months. In that, I am thinking about what I am supposed to be doing way too much. I have 4 kids- I don’t need to manage more. This is straightforward and doesn’t change throughout the year.

Maybe realistic and maybe not.

I have been noticing lately that when I can say in words what it is that I want, that very thing almost hits me in the face in the not-too-distant future. Not everything, but some things. I can recognize that snippet in a conversation or unexpected opportunity as just what I was looking for. Otherwise, it passes by unnoticed.

Sure, I shouldn’t wait for a beam of sunlight to shine upon my dreams, when the timing and my energy are perfect and I have several hours of free time. :) I want to pursue lots of things, but honestly, I love being with my kids and doing activities with them, and with that, some things aren’t appropriate right now. 

So, I’m focusing on what I can do every day or every week or every month. It sounds boring, but habits are where it really happens- change that is. I wrongly thought of practice as a drudge for so long, but practice is life and it is real and it’s how anything great happens. Monthly dates with the kids are case-in-point. I am committed to one date a month with each kid and I work crazy magic to realize it most months. Yet, I have never missed a month and the kids trust me for it. Once a month is the sweet spot! I can’t imagine not having those dates and that habit partially defines my relationship to my kids.

I have habits that I’ve been doing for a long time, but many of them still feel tenuous, that I could lose them any given day. I had to change my thinking about some that in reality I was never getting to. Perhaps something I was trying to do several times a week and never doing, needs a different expectation (less often, different day or time). The overarching goal is realistic….not my strong suit!

Many habits are working- no need to change. My monthly habits are the same: dates with kids, date with John, bake something with the kids, take them swimming and have a family adventure.

On a weekly basis, Monday night is game night, once a week I need outdoor exercise (trail run in summer and ski or snowshoe in winter), yoga and run on Sunday, write a blog (weekend thing, a reverse from where I started), work on genealogy, and paint by number with Hannah (our side-by-side weekly activity).

Daily, I get up early. I do devotional reading and journal on my own (also, working on the Well-Educated Mind novel and autobiography lists). I practice piano and fiddle (learning at Hannah’s pace). I read with the kids morning and night. We have tea time most days and color. I use the rowing machine and I am working on increasing my mobility. I do most of these things either really early or while the kids do their morning chores…it works!

I am still intermittent fasting and plan to keep that up. In fact, I am skipping lunch as well one day per week for eating-awareness. I can be ruled too easily by food and thoughtless, non-hungry eating. I am not training for any races at the moment, so this is appropriate. However, once I’m running more, skipping lunch would not be a great idea.

What else am I thinking about? I want to eat at 4 different authentic ethnic restaurants this year and take the kids to 3 plays, plus the Nutcracker. I have a few trip ideas; instead of lots of little trips, I’m grouping things together. I love traveling with my kids, but I also love being home, so it’s hard to go. Bottom line: if we are going on a trip, we are doing multiple things. I’m owning that it requires more planning, and if it’s too complicated, I won’t do it at all. A new theory to try?

For the most part, I love what we do. I want to bike and hike all summer, ski and skate all winter. I want to take in lots of local, cultural events. I plan to do Farm Camp and family camp again. I want to do some local campouts and keep volunteering with the kids. I want to keep learning more about perennial gardening, study homeopathy at home, grow food and put it up, and work on quilts. I’ll be looking for those open doors, but at the core, I want to enjoy these family days, knowing that I am feeding myself with my habits.

It’s easy to be optimistic in January!

Are you working on any habits? Fun goals or thoughts for the year?

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In December…plus the year recap

Hooray, it’s 2016! Backing up, my December goals:

  • date with John
  • dates with kids
  • take the kids to the Nutcracker and to hear Christmas music somewhere
  • go to a hockey game in Canada
  • ice skate once a week
  • bake lemon meringue pie and Christmas cookies with the kids
  • long run
  • monthly family adventure
  • take the kids to the indoor pool
  • finish making Christmas presents (of course!)
  • annual winter solstice snowshoe/hike
  • buy good oranges in bulk (I have a lead on this that I’m hoping will pan out soon!)

From the bookshelf:

  • The Nourishing Homestead by Ben Hewitt
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Oswald Chambers

We had our best Christmas ever this year. In addition to an awesome December of fun activities, baking, and making ornaments and gifts, the actual event of Christmas was fantastic. The secret (I think) was that I spent Christmas Eve working; I cleaned the house, I did all the baking and cooking, and we made our big meal on Christmas Eve night instead of Christmas Day. Christmas Day all the dishes were done, the house was picked up, all the food was ready to eat…..I got to enjoy the day. I got to enjoy the day! After presents, we went for a snowshoe, the kids played and I kicked my feet back to read a new book. Whenever we were hungry, we ate what I had already prepared. Yes, I will do this again. It kickstarted a whole week of relaxing, which was just what we needed.

Of course, fast forward two days and the house was a disaster and I wasn’t sure how we’d ever dig out…and that’s how it goes. I’m laughing!

My new book that I’m over-the-top about is The Lean Farm, written by a farmer who applied LEAN factory principles to a farm. They found ways to make their farm more efficient and effective for what their customers want and I see so many applications both on our farm and in our house. I read about how the most efficient movements are in straight lines, no curves, and ever since I have been laughing. Our house is an obstacle course! It takes huge mental energy to walk from room to room because there are toys and things everywhere (Micah likes to empty drawers and cabinets), we have gates that I have to climb over to get into some spaces….you get the idea! I know we won’t be in this spot forever, but I am completely entertained now that I have ideas about straight, direct movements.

Our other fun diversion is re-organizing our bedroom. With a partial vision of what might be better placement for clothes, book, games, and craft supplies, we dove in with gusto. So much gusto, that we’ve been sleeping on the floor because our bed is covered with the things that used to be in our closet as John is building new shelves. We still want to access these items and our bedroom is the safe-from-kids area, so that’s how it goes. It’s actually fun and it’s taken us on a whole other diversion of if we want a mattress for a bed or if there is something better. Because you can find research for anything (!), we learned it’s healthier to sleep on a firm surface, and we both feel great sleeping on our old z-rests camping pads that are far beyond their prime. This concept is still in the idea phase. Oh, the things we talk about for fun!

To complete my looking back at 2015, I did many of the things that I wanted to do (we listened to a local author speak, we toured a dairy farm, we went to family camp, I tried biathlon shooting, we had some new family adventures), but I also learned to better define what I want. I can easily go a million directions at one time, all things that are close to what I want, but not exactly. I am learning to pinpoint more my priorities and my true interests and things that bring me joy. Not only that, but my challenge is then to own those things and not depend on others to make them happen for me. Getting up early is an example- no one is going to hand me time to read or journal or exercise, so I have to own that need and accept whatever it takes to make that happen.

What were my greatest joys of last year? Family trips and vacations, hiking Mt. Katahdin and the Knife’s Edge, hiking and camping with the kids, homeschooling, Frontier Girls and Boys, volunteering with the kids, family camp, farm camp, and watching my kids perform and do things they love. What I love more than anything is taking my kids on adventures or taking them hiking or skiing or camping. And the other thing I love is keeping my habits and routines. That sounds super lame but it’s true.

Here’s my quick recap of the year:

January- We did lots of skiing and ice skating, and we cheered on our local high school basketball team at most of their home games. We went to Bobby Burns Night in Canada and I practiced falling whenever I went skiing (so helpful!).

February- We did more skiing and skating. I started 100 days of real food. We partially redid our bathroom. We watched the state high school ski meets for alpine and nordic skiing, and we bought our minivan.

March- I did my first ski race and became a goat midwife, not once but twice. We watched ski-jouring (skiing with dogs pulling the person). With some friends, I stared reading the novel list for the Well-Educated Mind: first book, 100o page Don Quixote.

April- Road trip 2015 to Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and New York! We did some maple syrup and the kids started racing in monthly 1 mile fun runs.

May- Running club for the kids started. We also started taking weekly family bike rides. We hosted a tea party and took May Day baskets to our neighbors. We went to a Scottish Fest, Micah slept thru his first birthday party, and we planted Christmas trees on our farm.

June- We got our cat. Swim lessons started and I walked every day of them (yay!). The kids were Swedish dancers for Mid-Sommar. We hatched our first batch of chicks. We did lots of hiking. Hannah turned 8.

July- More swim lessons, biking, and hiking. Frontier Girls and Boys started. I hiked the Knife’s Edge. We saw Rick Charette in concert. We went to 4 parades and the Bluegrass Festival. I also got rollerblades at a garage sale so I could skate with the kids.

August- I did a 6 hour trail race and tried biathlon. Farm Camp. We hiked Mt. Carelton in New Brunswick. Ran a half marathon. Friends stayed a super-fun long weekend with us and we built a brick path. We watched hot air balloons, went to the ocean, and the kids started digging a hole to the mantle of the earth.

September- We went to family camp and volunteered at the Common Ground Fair. We took our Gaspe and Baxter vacation and the big kids hiked to Chimney Pond on Mt. Katahdin. BenBen turned 6. I started getting up early. We did a bunch of family camping and helped with a local Rural Living Day.

October- We started our fish tank. We did the Walk to Freedom on the old Underground Railroad in our area. We started fiddle. Sammy turned 4. My parents came to visit and my dad built the kids a playhouse.

November- Ice skating again! We went to a farming conference, the State Museum, and several waterfalls in New Brunswick.

December- We went to the Nutcracker and the Polar Express. We baked, made ornaments, and made gifts. We finally got kelp for our animals. Started skiing and more ice skating.

This is way too long, but next time, I’d love to share more of what I want to focus on this year…thinking about it all differently!

 

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Better late than never, my Christmas elf projects

I never got the joy of giving gifts until a few years ago. It was something to do and something I was supposed to do, but for whatever reason, the joy of it never struck me. When Hannah and BenBen were little and they didn’t know differently, I never even got them gifts. Practical minded, Amy. Not saying this was a good thing, but it’s the truth.

I have completely flipped on this and now I could be accused of going overboard on gifts. Gasp! I don’t do a certain number per child, or “something you want, something you need,..”, or a dollar amount. We can all justify our own actions and I have completely justified my gift giving. I buy many gifts used or make them, I refuse to buy throw away items, and they absolutely see that it gives me joy to watch them enjoy what they get. I don’t want to teach my kids that giving is good only within certain parameters. We give out of love.

So I do buy Christmas gifts, but my favorite gifts are the ones I make. It is ridiculous how satisfying homemade gifting is. I ran out of time on one gift, making crazy creek chairs for all my kids, but I am still planning to do them.

Before the things I made, I have to show you one of my favorite Christmas gifts…BenBen and Sammy wanted matching shirts so they can dress like twins. They have literally worn their matching shirts every other day since Christmas.

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I am not an amazing crafter, but I do know my genre…nothing technical and preferably upcycled. I bought fabric for the bags and blankets and paracord, but everything else is salvaged from scraps or discarded clothing. Yes, even the pillow stuffing and batting for the blankets.

Gfits for Micah:

P1130896

Felt Mr Potato Head set. Hannah did the embroidery work on the pocket.
P1130897

These were gifts to “catch Micah up” to what I have made for the other kids…A quillow and a warm flannel “special blanket”.

For Sammy:

P1130898Superhero cape, target for bow and arrow practice, felt moustache for dress up, felt pirate patch for dress up, felt animal mask, car track made of felt, paracord bracelet, cross body messenger bag (the kids saw these at a craft fair and were absolutely wild for them)…good for adventure packing!

For BenBen:

P1130899Pillowcase, moustache for dress up, belt to hold his wooden knife (a request of his), knit washcloth for the shower, paracord bracelet, cross body messenger bag.

For Hannah:

P1130900Pillowcase, face pillow for blocking light when she’s sleeping, crown for playing castle, knit washcloth for the shower, little sachets with dried lavender from our garden, pillow, paracord bracelet, cross body messenger bag.

P1130901This pillow was my favorite thing I made. It’s made from an old ratty pillow that I covered with a shrunken sweater someone gave us in a hand-me-down bag and then decorated with felt cutouts.

P1130902The boys really wanted guns, so John made wooden guns with a jig saw. Plastic guns break so quickly…nothing to break on these! It was awesome to get John in on homemade gifts and the boys have been sleeping with them every night…a hit!

So, that’s the fun I’ve been having lately!

Did you make any Christmas gifts this year?

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What I’m loving, part 2

It’s much more fun to focus on what is going good in life, instead of the opposite, right?! And that is not a backwards complaint. Life is good, but I appreciate thinking about those good things. Hope that makes sense.

7.  A weekly menu. A few months ago, I realized how much I love our weekly routine meals. We always have homemade bread for dinner on Wednesday (yes, that’s the main course) and we always have mexican on Tuesday and we always have pizza on Friday. I love it so much that I made a theme for every night of the week. I have been doing these for 4 months and meal planning is way simpler. My big truth I learned about myself is that I love planning things so much that planning is my biggest time waster. Planning is a great, fantastic, and very useful thing, but too much time spent on anything is too much. This is an easy one.

Monday- ethnic night (Chinese, Thai, Indian, whatever)

Taco Tuesday

Wednesday- homemade bread, usually with green beans and applesauce, sometimes eggs

Thursday- breakfast for dinner or my choice (I don’t eat breakfast anymore and I miss breakfast foods, so this is an easy solution)

Fun Friday is always pizza

Souper Saturday

Sunday- Comfort Food

Meal planning is now a couple minutes each morning to figure out something in that theme- structured and yet flexible enough for variety.

8.  Evernote. I am not a big cell phone person and not into apps in general. I have tried a few that people recommended, but generally, I don’t use them. John has told me (with joking frustration) that I am harder to get ahold of now that I have a cell phone. I usually have it off or in airplane mode, unlike before when the landline would always ring. But I love evernote. I feel like I could use it better than I am, but simply making lists on it is so handy. I use voice to “jot” things down when we are out for the day and I don’t have to search for a pen in the car.

9.  Handmade Christmas ornaments. We are on a homemade ornament kick at our house and I halfway want to ditch all of our store-bought ones and fill the tree with only those we made ourselves. We have made them of straw, wool, felt, and salt dough. It’s happy to look at the tree and the kids love seeing what they have made. A great way to practice hand stitching!

10. Sunday Run Day and yoga. Going with my theme of certain things for certain days, running and yoga were two things that I want to do but they were not ever happening. The stars have to align for either of them…the weather is appropriate, John can watch the kids- pretty much sure failure most of the time. So now instead of thinking that any day I might run or do yoga and never doing it, I made a date. Sunday morning after animal chores, I go for a run and the kids (kind of) do yoga with me every Sunday evening. I am mentally ready and committed because it is on the calendar. Someday I aspire to running more than one day a week, but it’s better than nothing.

11. This is a silly one. Making my bed. I used to always do it- why wouldn’t I? But then we often have a kid in our bed come morning for some reason, so I couldn’t make it when I got up. And then the kids often mess it up again. The whole exercise seemed pointless. It’s a little thing, but I am giving it a whirl again. It started because I was thinking about ways to make our bedroom more attractive and nice to be in. Making the bed was like a big duh…no purchase necessary. Does the bed still get messed up sometimes during the day by the kids? Yes, but I am still glad I’m doing it. It’s one of those totally for me things, because it doesn’t matter in the big scheme, but it does feel nice. And yes, the room is prettier that way!

Do you do theme meals? Make your bed? If you use evernote, how do you use it? I am thinking I need to figure out more tricks on it!

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