Goal-Type Things for the New Year

I try to keep my ambitions realistic . . .

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but I’ve been thinking about goals for 2015 and they’re starting to add up.  In no particular order they are

1. Keep wearing the Fitbit I got (by request) for Christmas.  No specific exercise goal, but hopefully wearing it and checking my stats will motivate me to boost my activity.  Over the past seven days I’ve averaged just barely above 5,000 steps per day.  Under 5,000 is considered sedentary.  Yikes.

2. Redecorate my living room (whole house?) with mid-century modern-inspired look, moving my French-cottage-meets-your-grandma’s-house decor to the basement t.v. room (more on this shortly).

3. Learn how to use a power drill, which will aid in #2.  Tensions run high when I ask Pat to hang stuff (“no not there, up a bit, now down . . . no, not like that”) .

4. Go back on the Perfect Health Diet!  This is big.  We ditched the PHD about a year ago, but Pat and I haven’t felt nearly as good since then.  So I’m kicking the mental health diet to the curb.  We’re modifying the PHD slightly (beans and peanut butter are in).

5. No Sugar January: The PHD itself cuts out almost all added sugars, but I’m serious about that part for at least a month.  I’m buddying up with Ellen for support.  I might cheat on other aspects of the PHD when we go out to eat or whatnot.  But no sugar.

6. More spiritual reading, starting with Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, which I’m about 2/3 of the way through.  Next I want to read Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est.  I also want to read through the Gospels.

7.  Stop saying “sorry.”  More on this later.

8. Move this blog to a self-hosted platform.  I already have a placeholder over at http://thisfelicitouslife.com.  Two years have gone by, and I still haven’t moved my data over.  I got an error message and gave up.

9. Learn the capitalization rules for blog titles. Seriously, I never remember which of the little words like “A, At, The, If, And, But, Or” need capitalization.

10. Stay away from celebrity gossip websites and magazines.  (I made this one in October and have kept it pretty well so far.)

11. Social-media-free Sundays!!  (I wouldn’t mind getting back into What I Wore Sunday but I’ll do it on Mondays.)

12.  Cut down on the use of parentheses (for obvious reasons).

All this talk of goals made me remember–I set goals for 2014.  I wonder what they were?  😉  Oh, here they are

1. The GoalThe No-S Diet: No Ssssugar, no Sssssnacks, and no Ssssseconds, except sometimes on weekends and special days.

Outcome

Laughing hysterically

2. The Goal:  T Tapp. I’ve heard good things about this exercise routine (here and here among other places). 15 minutes a day! Easy on your joints (unlike my short-lived gambol with Jillian)! Helps balance mood, blood sugar, and hormones! 

Outcome

Not good.  I did the T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus several times a week for several weeks.  I lost close to an inch from my waist (more from tightening muscle than from burning fat).  But she has a move called the “T-Tapp twist” that did a number on my lower back.  Tried to come back to it after recovering, and it messed up my back again.  No can do.

Plus, I was hoping for some science behind all her promises and quasi-scientific terms.  Her book didn’t have any of that, just explanations for how to do the moves and a bunch of success stories.  I’d recommend the workout if you want something that will tone you up in a short time, but not if you have low-back problems.

 

3. The GoalHome command center restructuring. 

Outcome:

Nailed it!

Before:

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After (full post on this to come):

Home command center

4. The GoalDedicate time for blogging and–sheesh!–answering email. I don’t have a game plan here yet, but it’s something I really want to do. Right now, I usually write in the evenings when the girls are asleep. 

Outcome:

Nope!

I intended to make this one of 2015’s goals, completely forgetting that it had been one of 2014’s.  Never did come up with that game plan.  Oh well.

5. The goalSwitch from plastic leftover containers to glass.

Outcome:

Nailed it!  I bought a few more pieces of Pyrex and also bought covers for three Pyrex bowls I already had.  I still have some plastic leftover containers, but I don’t use them as much and I never heat food in the microwave in them.

6. The Goal: Keep making progress in time management, especially going to bed early and not staying up late browsing the web.

Life goals vs. the internet

Outcome:

Hmm.  Not great.  I love the iPod mini my dad gave me earlier this year (thank you, veterinary pharmaceutical reps!), but that thing is dangerous when I keep it by my bed.

Basically.

from laptop to phone in bed stick figure cartoon

On that note, here’s to a successful 2015 for us all!

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Favorite Books of 2014

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Here are ten of my favorite books read in 2014.  Most are favorites for the “whoa” factor.  Others are favorites for the “whee!” factor.

Looking back at the list, I now see a pattern–what I most enjoyed reading this year was non-fiction books with information that knocked my socks off (1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10) interspersed with novels that were mostly fun and easy to read.

In no particular order:

1. Girls On the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls–Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins, by Leonard Sax: Sobering but won’t leave you hopeless

2. Peace Like A River by Leif Enger: Beautiful beautiful novel.  Can’t wait to share it with my book club.

3. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs: This blew my mind.

4.  Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther–I could not put this down.  Since reading the book, I’ve started reading Elizabeth’s blog.  She is a firebrand!  I don’t always agree with her. But she strikes me as a truth-seeker and she always gets me thinking.

5. Following Polly by Karen Bergreen: Chick-lit at its funniest.

6. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: Ditto what Elizabeth Foss said.

7. Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily Freeman–This book was part of a paradigm shift for me in my relationship with God and in life generally, even though the book is not extremely well written.  I keep meaning to read over my highlighted sections again and blog about it.

8.Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage–Eye-opening and readable.  Read Mary’s quick review here.

9. The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried–I still haven’t found my miracle cure but this book has great information on how hormones can mess with our well-beings, in ways that won’t show up on standard medical tests.  A lot of this information isn’t accepted by the mainstream medical community, I believe, and I try to take things written by celebrity docs with a grain of salt. But I find it more credible than I might otherwise because it’s written by an M.D.

10. Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey–I’m obsessed with Myers-Briggs now.  It explains so much–about my spouse, about my relationship with God, about myself.  I hope to read the sequel soon–Please Understand Me II: Character, Temperament, and Intelligence.

What did you enjoy reading this past year?  Do you notice a pattern in the books you liked most?

Happy new year to you all!

How I Failed At My New Year’s Resolutions In Ten Short Days

Last week I wrote about my Goal-Type Things for the New Year.

Since then . . .

— 1 —

I pulled my back out on my third day of T Tapp (Instructional Basic Workout for those who are familiar with the program).  To be fair, I was lifting some books the day before, so that might be the cause.  But still it’s taken the wind out of my sails.

I’ve Googled “T-Tapp and back pain” and all I find are glowing reviews.  Pretty much you could snap your spine in two and this woman can grow it back for you in 15 minutes a day every other day.  It makes me a bit skeptical.  Also, her book doesn’t impress me much.

Still, I’ll give it another go once the pain subsides.  I do like the exercises.

— 2 —

I’ve given myself so many “S days,” (i.e. cheat days) that I don’t know who I’m kidding here.

And even on regular days I have a few squares of dark chocolate with dinner (Lindt 70%, mmmm).  Chocolate’s a health food, you know?  Seriously, it’s a health food.

— 3 —

As part of my home command center restructuring, I sold the china cabinet shown below:

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for $200, on eBay.  Only after the buyers were on their way to pick it up did I notice “Ethan Allen” printed on the back.  And learn that corner china cabinets are hard to come by. . . . I probably could have gotten at least double that amount, possibly a lot more.  . . . I did a bit of pricing research before I listed it, but obviously not enough.

I’m hoping the $200 will cover some Elfa shelving for that corner.

— 4 —

Blogging goals: I made a concerted effort to join the 5:30 club.  I pulled out an old alarm clock and set it to wake me up with radio static, since my phone alarm is too loud.  First night, Girl 1 was in bed with me (the sound of snow plows scared her during the night), so she woke up to my alarm, too.  The other nights, darned if I didn’t hear Girl 2 stirring right away.  I kept hitting snooze because I knew she would holler as soon as she heard me get up.  There goes my quiet alone time.  The girls do occasionally sleep past 6:30, but apparently not if I’m up.

I so would love to write more regularly.  I’m enjoying Modern Mrs. Darcy, in large part because she blogs in short, frequent posts.  They are just long enough to give you something to think on, but still quick to read.

I frequently think of topics that one make good 2-3 paragraph posts, but by the time I sit down to write, I’ve lost the thread of the idea.  And then all I work on are longer, more in-depth posts.

On the topic of blogging goals, in addition to finding regular time to write, I need to switch over to a self-hosted blog.  We already have a placeholder blog.  I just need to figure out how to move all my content over.  Rachel of Efficient Momma wrote a very helpful post on the topic.  I just haven’t had time to do it yet.  

— 5 —

Hey!  Here’s a success: switching from plastic leftover containers to glass.  The day after my last post, Pat said out of the blue, “Can we add leftover containers to the shopping list?  We’re running out.”  Amazon has a good deal on a 5 piece Pyrex set (called a “10 piece set” because of the lids; lame), So I ordered them right up and tossed a couple of plastic containers.

 

— 6 —

I have few home improvement goals I didn’t mention last week.  I feel like so much of our house is held together with duct tape and bubble gum, even after five years.  Structurally everything is sound, but so many things are unsightly or inconvenient simply because we haven’t gotten around to fixing it, or we don’t want to spend money on it.  Pat and I are both naturally frugal (he more than I, but still . . . ), so it’s hard to shake the dormitory/ cheap first apartment mindset.

For instance, these living room curtains:

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I bought hem-them-yourself sheers from Ikea (because they were cheap!), and they look awful.  Hemming super long curtains using iron-on hem tape, with a toddler around, is doomed to failure.  And now the girls have twisted and pulled the curtains so much that the curtain rod is sagging in the middle.  It makes me sad every time I look at it.

Also, our washing machine:  When we bought our house (a foreclosure, sans appliances), I did a bunch of research and tried to be smart and bought a front loader that was a Consumer Reports “best buy.”  Less than five years later, the rubber ring seal around the door is completely mildewed and disgusting.  Like this but worse:

No amount of bleach or vinegar or baking soda rinses will work. And replacing the part is expensive enough that we might as well buy a new one.  I’m a bit burned by the experience and plan to buy the cheapest, simplest top loader out there.  I’m even thinking about buying a used one.  Is that gross, I wonder? The thought of buying one used grosses me out a bit, but then if we had bought a house that already had a washer we would have used the washer it came with.  And anyway, nothing is grosser than the state of our current washer.

— 7 —

Girl 2’s current favorite thing to do is snuggle in bed with me.  She doesn’t sleep or even stay still for more than 5 seconds.  But she’s very particular about the arrangement of the blankets and pillows.  It’s pretty cute.

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Over and out!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Diet, Exercise, Time Management, Blah blah blah

Goal-Type Things for the New Year

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— 1 —

The No-S Diet: No Ssssugar, no Sssssnacks, and no Ssssseconds, except sometimes on weekends and special days.

There’s a book, but I don’t know that I’ll bother reading it.

I don’t really have a timeline, or a goal weight. I just know I have issues with these three areas: sugar, mindless grazing, and mealtime portions. And my weight is creeping upward and all my clothes are tight. Ugh. (I’ll do a post soon more specifically about my nutrition goals in light of our year on the Perfect Health Diet.)

— 2 —

T Tapp. I’ve heard good things about this exercise routine (here and here among other places). 15 minutes a day! Easy on your joints (unlike my short-lived gambol with Jillian)! Helps balance mood, blood sugar, and hormones! I’ve ordered the DVD and am eager to get started. My no-workout workout plan has left me feeling like a slug lately, especially since it’s been too cold outside (for me) to go walking.

— 3 —

Home command center restructuring. I spend about 80% of my waking hours in this tiny kitchen:

kitchen organization confessions of an organized housewife homemaker

and in this cramped dining room / entry way / home computer area.

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Drives me nuts. After five years, I’m ready to make this area work for me instead of against me.

The changes already are underway, and I can’t wait to share the final result!

— 4 —

Dedicate time for blogging and–sheesh!–answering email. I don’t have a game plan here yet, but it’s something I really want to do. Right now, I usually write in the evenings when the girls are asleep. But that compromises last year’s resolution. Plus I’m often too tired. Plus Pat’s and my new-found Netflix addiction often wins out (we’ve finished Breaking Bad and moved on to The Good Wife).

Probably I need to join the 5:30 club. Blah.

I’m with Toad.

— 5 —

Switching from plastic leftover containers to glass. Good blog post about it here:

I’ve decluttered to the point that I only have a half dozen or so plastic leftover containers. Maybe as they die off I’ll replace them with Pyrex. I’m not very knowledgable about or 100% convinced of the health risks of plastic. Regardless . . . glass containers just look prettier!

— 6 —

My resolution last year was to stay off the internet on weeknights after 8 p.m. I didn’t really stick to it, but the amount of time I waste online is way down, both at night and during the day. (The Waste No Time browser extension helps a lot.) So I don’t consider it a complete fail.

At least you tried

I’d like to keep up the improvements I’ve made on this front.

— 7 —

I’ve made some progress in certain personal/spiritual aspects last year, and I’d like to keep that up to. I don’t really feel like blogging about the details so, I guess . . . fake quick take here. Sorry!

How about you? Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Or vague aspirations like me? 🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

[I Will] Own the Night, New Year’s Reflections Part 3

After all the tantalizing lead up (here and here), now is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the moment when I reveal my New Year’s Resolution:

No more internet

After 8 p.m.

Except e-mail and Netflix

Except Friday and Saturday nights.

I started Wednesday night, and it feels so weird.  I can’t count the number of times a thought crossed my mind and I turned to look it up but then stopped myself.  I kind of felt in withdrawal.

My evening was so peaceful, though.  It was quieter, too, without that loud flushing sound that I usually hear at night as my time goes down the toilet.

The big downside of this resolution is that I will have less time for writing this blog.  I’m sad about this because I do enjoy it.  My perspective is a bit different than Lizzie’s in that I feel like the time I spend blogging is well spent.  It’s certainly much better spent than time I used to spend on Facebook.  I know not many people read my blog, and I know I’m not doing much to improve the lives of those that do.  Somehow, though, just getting my thoughts on (virtual) paper is valuable to me.  I have way too much swimming around in my head and writing some of it down is therapeutic.  Also, I would like to be a writer in some capacity other than just a legal one, although I don’t have anything specific in mine.  Blogging is the simplest starting point I can think of, and sharing my blog with a readership beyond just friends and family is a part of that.  I (certainly!) don’t obsess about style and grammar but I think I’m gradually improving.

But.  But. But.

I can’t seem to write blog posts at night (which is usually when I find the time) without first reading all the new posts from the blogs in my blog reader (that number increases every week).  And then I read things that they link to.  And then I Google a random thought that comes to me.  And then I check to see whether that thingamajiggy is on Amazon (of course it is).  And then I check to see if anyone has posted anything on Pinterest in the last ten mintues.  And then . . .

Lizzie might have used this in her New Year’s resolution post, but I swear I thought of it first.

Yeah.

So right now I’m writing this in Word.   It’s 10:15 p.m.  I’m feeling tired so I’ll end this and turn out the light.  I’ll copy and paste it into WordPress in the morning afternoon.   Maybe I’ll be rested enough to get up and post this before the girls wake up.   Or at least I’ll be well-rested whenever I do wake up.*  My finger is itching, just itching, to click open my web browser, but I’m not gonna do it.

Wish me luck.

* I was neither up before the girls nor well-rested this morning, due to an overabundance of wakeful children in our house last night.  But I did resist the temptation to browse the web.  Surely, surely virtue is its own reward.

Laura’s Really Exciting Life, New Year’s Reflections Part 2

Yesterday I looked back at the low points of last year.  Now I want to post about what my day-to-day life is now.  It’s a definite improvement from several months ago, but it still needs some improvement.  So, a typical weekday looks something like this:

6:30 ish: Get up with the baby

OR (more likely)

8:00 ish: Get up after having let Saintly Husband get up with the baby.

I prefer getting up with the baby, but I don’t have much willpower at 6:30 a.m.  Anyway, it doesn’t make that big a difference.  The things that would really give me a head start on my day–showering/getting dressed or unloading the dishwasher–would wake up Girl 1 and there would go my head start time.

So, if I get up with the baby, I sit in a stupor on the couch with her, get my coffee, and maybe get her breakfast, until 8ish when Pat and Girl 1 wake.  Or, Pat gets up with her and I wake up around 8.  In either case, come 8:00, I rush around to get out the door to get Girl 1 to preschool.

After taking Girl 1 to preschool, I try to get as many of the following done:

  • unload dishwasher
  • feed baby breakfast
  • take a shower
  • start on laundry
  • start making lunch (I try to make it our main meal)
  • put the baby down for a nap

Oh, wait a minute, there’s someone here who wants to say something:

Hmm.  Well, Homer.  Why don’t you tell us what you really think, already?  Alrighty then, I get the point.

I’ll try to keep this brief.  Here are the three, related trouble spots in my current routine:

  1. Because my mornings are so rushed, a lot of what should be high-priority tasks are pushed to the evening.  Mainly, prayer and exercise. To a lesser extent, reading and writing and keeping in touch with family and friends.  By the time evening comes, I’m tired and it’s easy to skip or . . .. 
  2. I veg out on the computer until it’s too late.  Our girls go to bed around 7:30.  By the time dishes are done, living room tidied, etc., it’s 8:00 or later.  I sit on the couch with my laptop, look at Pinterest and a few blogs and BOOM it’s 11 p.m.  Pat and I haven’t said our Rosary.  I haven’t done my back exercises.  I haven’t even written a blog post.  Okay, it’s not always that bad but somehow time just flies in the evening.  The way I spend that time is not very productive and only slightly restorative.
  3. Finally, because of all this, I go to bed too late.  I’m too tired to do anything productive at night but somehow I don’t feel like going to bed early enough.  It’s like I need at least 3 hours in which I’m awake but the girls are asleep.  So, I never ever get up early and well-rested.  It’s always one or the other.  And yet I like getting up early.  I like getting a head start on my day.  *Sigh*

So, tomorrow I’ll finish Part 3 of my New Year’s Reflections, including how I plan to spend my evening time more wisely and what I intend to accomplish.

Try to contain yourself.