Jun 052015
 

highest aspirations quote louisa may alcott

Our days do not have a steady pattern to them.  It is more of a loose fitting routine that this Mama would like to be more structured and dependable.  However, we are imperfect humans who have to live life together.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Other times we get in the way.  We do our best to reach the end of the day ahead of where we first began.  Sometimes it happens beautifully.  Other times, well, it would have been best to just stay in bed.

A (new) friend of mine recently mentioned that it seemed as if I had it all together.  Once I was done laughing, I assured her I did not and shared a bit of our not so perfect days.

This made me wonder how our life comes across here, in Internet Land.  I can post pretty pictures, descriptions of our latest craft or outing, complete menu plans and large plans for the garden.  I could share all the niceties and leave out all the ‘ugly’, but that would be dishonest.  No one’s life is like that.

So, if you are feeling like a failure, like everyone else has it together, I hope you can take some encouragement from this – no one has it all together, everyone has their struggles.

Or, maybe you are having a great day and just need a laugh.  Go for it.  Looking bad I would love to laugh at all the mistakes I made these past few days.  Give me a few weeks and I just may.

IMG_20150228_094504110

If you were a fly on the wall in our house Tuesday, here is what you would have seen.

5:30 a.m. – my alarm went off.

5:50 a.m. – I finally gout of of bed, got dressed and headed outside to do some yard work.

6:30 a.m. – I came back into the house, found George awake standing in the kitchen (probably wondering why I was not there making breakfast.)  I sent him back to his room to get dressed and make his bed.

6:40 a.m. – George came back, ready to help make muffins for breakfast.  Jack appeared in the kitchen, having just woken up.  When he heard what we were doing, and that he could also help, he headed to his room on his own to get dressed.

7:00 a.m. – The dishes from the night before had been put away, the muffin batter was made and resting.  Each boy got a banana and we headed to get started on our Summer Bridge workbooks.

7:30 a.m. – Workbooks are done.  The boys take a few minutes break while I print off some worksheets for our new math book.

7:40 a.m. – I then introduced our new math book, one that is more inline with Charlotte Mason’s living book philosophy.  It was a hit and the boys had fun doing the new worksheets. (It included a hunt through the house for numbers!)

8:40 a.m. – The kids played in the garage while I finished up drinks for breakfast, then we will sit down to eat.

10:00 a.m. – We finished breakfast, watched YouTube video, brushed teeth and headed outside.  (There was a bit of discipline training that took place, but it was corrected in about 10 minutes, rather than 2 hours.)

10:15 a.m. – Thinking ahead to the afternoon, I invited a mom and her son to join us in playing at the park in the afternoon. Turns out they were able to join us for the morning, too.

12:10 p.m. – Lunch time.

1:00 p.m. – Quiet time, even with a friend visiting. Every boy got some books and found a spot to sit/lay, while the dishes were cleaned.

2:00 p.m. – Paid bill that was due yesterday. 🙁  This is something I almost never do, so I was upset with myself when I realized I had missed the “Due by” date.

2:15 p.m. – We all headed to the park with bikes and scooters.

3:40 p.m. – We left the park to walk home, then drove our friends to their house.  It is quite a walk and her son was tired, but don’t tell him that.  🙂

4:10 p.m. – I turned a movie on for very tired kids. Talked with husband and cleaned up a few things.

5:00 p.m. – I begin cooking supper.

5:40 p.m. – Received a phone call to schedule appointment, so supper was delayed a few more minutes.

5:44 p.m. – Supper is served. This took a bit longer to make, due to being a newer recipe.

6:10 p.m. – The boys and I began their bed time routines – brush teeth, put on PJs, turn on classical music.

6:20 – 7:10 pm. – The boys head to bed at their appointed times.  Dad goes in to talk with the first one to head to bed, then spends time with the remaining one.

7:15 p.m. – I contemplate more yard work, but choose to sit by my husband and watch a movie for a few more minutes.

8:00 p.m. – With the sun still up, one part of summer I like, I head outside to get a bit more yard work finished before tomorrow.  I am hoping to have some wood chips then and want to be ready in case it turns out that way.

9:00 p.m. – Pick up the yard and head inside.  I clean up, warm up a cup of coffee from earlier (decaf, no worries) and sit down to finish watching a movie with my husband.

9:30 p.m. – bed time, expect I fell asleep on the couch.  🙂  It was a long day.

The shade garden in the front yard it coming together one slow step at a time.  I have a goal in mind that I am working towards and know I will get there, one evening at a time.

homeschool planner collage

After such a good day on Tuesday, I was sure we were getting into the groove of things and so had high hopes for Wednesday.  🙂  Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.  I’ll give you a feel for the the day went and leave it at that.

The boys both decided they needed a restroom break at 3:30 a.m., then proceeded to talk together, getting louder and louder.  I separated them, putting one into our room

At 6:00 a.m. they both decided they were no longer tired and wanted to get up.  I felt as if I had not slept all night and told them both to go back to bed.  Whining and loud opposition ensued.

They did not want to get dressed, I was cranky, ignoring of house rules seemed to be the theme of the day, and I just did not have the energy to deal with it.  “Don’t they realize I’m exhausted?  Why can’t they have a little compassion and play quietly?”

I lost my calm temper endless patience and separated them into different rooms … they stood in the doorway of said rooms and played, yelling at each other so they could hear (because that is what you do when you are two feet away from each other).  I was determined (stubborn) to not reward the behavior with t.v. so it did not get turned on.  (That was mistake #50 of the day.)

No school work was accomplished, no beds were made, no crafts were done, very little housework was achieved, and over all it was a failure of a day.

Oh, and in case that does not give you an idea, there was also several bathroom issues, which is something we deal daily with one child, but which gets worse in high stress/andziety situations.  This time, both kids had at least three changes of clothes that day.

Quiet time turned into nap time.  “Oh, they are tired too!  Why didn’t they say something?”  Let me answer that one for you, “because sleep is another (of the many) struggle and they rarely say they are ready for a nap/bedtime.  You should have known instinctively.”

If you are one of those people whose kids basically behave, you probably read the above and wonder what is wrong with my kids.  I would have B.C. (before kids).  I would have judged, all be it quietly, and wondered what kind of parent this person was, “don’t they know how to control their kids?”

In talking with a friend of mine, she admitted that she was exactly that kind of person with her first several, quiet, compliant, fairly easy going kids.  Then she adopted a high energy, sweet, “why sit still when you can run?”, “I’ll obey as long as I agree with it, then apologize as honestly as my little toddler heart allows when I get into trouble, but do it again 10 seconds later” kid.  I love Olaf.  🙂  My friend admitted that it showed her how the Other Side looks and she no longer judges … usually.

We all went to bed that night, wondering “WHY?!?!?” and hoping the next day was not this way.

white oak tree collage

white oak tree

When I woke up on Thursday, it was to a boy coming into my bed at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep, just doing circles and almost pushing me off the bed.  Looking back, after having a bit of sleep, I should have just gotten up with him, but again I was stubborn, “He WILL go back to sleep.”  Will I ever learn?

Once I did get up, it was a conscious decision that this day would be different, that I would  nip some things in the bud and change my attitude.  So, when I heard the kids running through the house yelling, before I was even out of bed, I sent one back to bed, because:

“If you can not handle being awake, then you need to go back to bed.”  (He was chasing his brother around with a marker, marking up his brother’s legs.)

The other, less offending kid, was told to sit on the couch with a book till I came back.  Then I got dressed, made my bed, and started breakfast.  The less offending kid was made a nicer breakfast by my husband and enjoyed some breakfast time with him.  The Back To Bed kid had a shake with me, though he did come out of his room dressed without me telling him.  I’m pretty sure that was in an effort to get out of the consequence.

The day got moving and I decided to give them an incentive for school work, “If you get done by 9:30, we can go to a yard sale and you can bring some money ($1) to spend.”  We were done at 9:33, but I showed grace.  It only took that long because George decided to do 3 math lessons rather than 1 math lesson and 1 phonics lesson, both of which are done independently.  Glad he got into the math, but I was wondering what was taking him so long and was questioning if having him do a whole lesson was too much.  Seems not.  🙂

Since things were going so well, I texted a friend, inviting her and her kid to join us.  Turns out they were having a day like my Wednesday.  Nothing like a change of scenery, friends and some fresh air to change things, so she agreed.

My kids did not know I had invited our friends over, so it was a complete surprise at the end of the lessons for me to open the front door and invite our friends (who were waiting on the porch) to come in.  We went to a garage sale, looked for a few more in the town over, watched a cartoon/visited, ate lunch and headed to the park.  All the kids cried when they learned they had to say goodbye.  Turns out they were tired from playing, and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon!  This time, I knew better and agreed to some not too bad t.v.  (They learned some new fact from it, so it was not all fluff.)

Jack went to sleep with minimal effort and George followed close behind.  They have both slept through the night.  I however, woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back sleep.  🙂

yellow  purple iris

Moral of the story: You are in control of how you decide to view the day; it will affect how your day goes.  At times, you need to tell yourself to act as if you have energy in order to have energy.  It is okay to use all the tools in your tool box, at times including the t.v./other “bad parenting” one.

So, today, what kind of day are you going to have?  Not how has your day gone so far, but how are you going to choose to view your day?  Personally, I am aiming for a productive day.  After all, I got out of bed at 4 a.m. so there should be plenty of time to do things today.  🙂

Apr 182014
 

trench in garden for onions

We have had several warm days of late – 60’s and 70’s.  The evenings have been cool, but usually above freezing.  Usually.

row to plant onion sets

A month or so ago a local farm store has onions sets on sale for $.99 per pound.  I picked up about 2 lbs.  Now, 2 pounds may not seem like a lot, but onion sets are not large.  This equated to a few hundred.

I knew it was too early to plant them, but I also knew that if the weather warmed up before most people thought it would then I would be ready.  If these were planted too early and didn’t come up, then I was only out $2.  It was worth the risk for me.

planted row of onion sets

Saturday of last week was a nice day, in the 70’s.  The day before I had put the fencing up around the beds and sprinkled Deer Scram around, to help keep out rabbits and possibly squirrels.

I had a few minutes to do something with the garden, so chose to plant the onions sets.

It was a little early, I knew I was running a risk of still having cold weather.  The tipping point was knowing that if I didn’t do something with these, they would mold in the bag and I would lose them all anyway.  At least if they were planted, I had some chance of getting a return.

In the end, over 400 were planted.  (I lost count after 350, but know that I planted more than 50 after that.)

Sunday it rained, nice summer-ish type showers.  Still warm.

Monday it rained and was cooling off.

Monday night … it snowed.

We are not talking feet of snow, but enough to still be on the roof tops the next morning and put a layer of precipitation to be removed when I got in the car to leave.

The cold lasted at least one more day.

Will these survive to come up or will they have frozen into onion-set-popsicles?  Only time will tell.

I knew I was being antsy planting so early, but I knew the risk and was willing to take it.  Sometimes it pays off, and others become lessons to remember in the future.

******************

On a more positive note, the strawberry plants are looking good.  I only lost one, and that was to a squirrel last fall I think.  Pesky rodents like to plant buckeyes in my raised beds.  The more I get to know them, the less I like them.  (Squirrels that is, not necessarily buckeye trees.)

Dec 122013
 

Reviewing my Yearly Goals is always enlightening, and not always in a good way.  I am amazed at how daily life can intrude upon the goals we have for ourselves.  As of late, I feel as if I’ve been pulled this way and that, never getting to what I really wanted to be doing – cleaning out the basement and the garage.  Instead of complaining, I need to be giving thanks – for home I have to able to invite people over, for the car I have to be able to take the kids places, for the porch I have to paint and the two days of unseasonably warm weather last week in which to paint it before the ice came, for family I am able to visit.

When I put this list together last January, I chose to make overarching goals with some specific examples.  However, the specific examples were not necessarily the goals themselves.  To this end I want to note that I did a lot in several areas that aren’t noted in the list below.  For example:

Children, encouraging learning – we took a 2 week vacation at the beginning of November to visit extended family in a other state in a very different growing zone than us.  Instead of spending the time in from of the t.v. we took trips to botanical gardens, museums, the Grand Canyon, the Biosphere 2, and so on.  It isn’t necessarily the fact that we went to these places, but that we used them to point out things the kids are really into.  We were able to apply

Gardening – I took the plunge and decided to remove several landscaping plants and put in fruit plants.  I’ve added strawberry plants, blackberry plants, a blueberry bush and have ordered a peach tree to plant this upcoming Spring.  This is something I’ve wanted to do several years ago when we moved in, but kept feeling guilty for wanting to get rid of the “nice looking plants”.  I have finally realized that this is MY  house and MY yard.  I should have in it what I want, not what worked for others.  Yeah, I know.  It really shouldn’t have taken me this long.

 

Here are my goals for 2013:

DSCN8010

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year – I recently picked up more canning jars at a garage sale with these goals in mind.

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes – 7 quarts canned
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets – 10.5 quarts are canned (was 11.5 but we ate one.)
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately.
  • Freeze 30 bags of red peppers; 12 for meatloafs, 12 for soups, 6 for omletes and various uses
  • Can apple/pear sauce, as much as can be done
  • Grow enough basil, parsley and cilantro to not have to buy any during the growing season; preserve herbs

Grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement our weekly salads and zucchini for stand

Redo garden layout

  • Relocate raised bedsseed where beds were –
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window – So far this  hasn’t happened.  Once the house painting is finished I’ll add something in.
  • Remove weeping cherry tree (plant blackberries?)
  • Create large containers for blueberry bushes
  • Remove brushes and concrete blocks under hackberry tree; relocate daffodil bulbs; flatten area – began working on this yesterday.
  • Build 2 rain barrels

Children:

Encourage learning  

  • Read aloud 8 books per month from Reading List {ongoing.  I did get a Reading List for Children put together of all the books I was interest in reading.} – I’m working my way through a short book a day at nap time.  This has been working out really well for us.
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers  – We are almost here.  What an odd goal, now that I think about it.  The fact that this wasn’t even a possibility at the start of the year is amazing.  
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try toI’m counting this as achieved since site words and sounding out others does take place, at least when the brain is well rested.  The desire to work harder at this isn’t there.  Perhaps that will be an area of emphasis next year.
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside.  

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  One kid has accomplished this! 
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month) 
  • We just memorized our first verse.  Turns out the kid who I thought couldn’t do it was actually just being stubborn and knew if before everyone else … even after refusing to practice it with us.

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels – I’m not pushing this, especially with snow and ice on the ground.  It will happen when it happens.
  • Swimming lessons
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing}
  • Keep up with former habits {ongoing} – Turns out there was the “I’m not going to do that, it’s Mom’s job” attitude growing.  sigh After reminding them I don’t work for them, we have made some progress.  It is a daily journey.

DSCN8015

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there) 
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times – Doesn’t always happen in the morning, but it is going better.  

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K
  • Get at least 8 hours rest – 
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly 
  • Try new things – Grow {ongoing}

Marriage:

Stay connected

  • Go on at least one date a month {ongoing} – 
  • Take time to talk each day {ongoing}
  • Say “I love you” meaningfully daily {ongoing}

breaded pork chop with peas cornbread muffins and carrot sticks

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting 8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month {ongoing}
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe bindertry 24 new recipes 
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals

Create a welcoming environment (Finish incomplete tasks and get rid of clutter)

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch A 2nd coat on the floor will be needed next Spring.
  • Replace siding on house – Accent colors will be added to trim next Spring.
  • Label pantry
  • Finish painting around “new” trim
  • Finish closet in downstairs bedroom
  • Decorate my bedroom
  • Pick up, organize and declutter basement and upstairs closet
  • Declutter – reduce number of cook books, spend 5 minutes a day on hot spots, reduce number of toys out
  • Garage – attach counter top, finish putting up cabinets, organize cabinets, declutter, wipe down walls
  • Find art work or pictures to put up in main living areas

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family:

Keep in contact with family and friends

  • Skype once a week with my mother-in-law {ongoing} – my husband is good about this.  Me, not so much.
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew {ongoing}
Encourage those around me
  • Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone {ongoing}

DSCN7336

Stand/Blogging/Other Income Sources:

Create a schedule

  • Take Sundays off (schedule posts ahead of time, don’t put stand out, stay off computer) – {ongoing}
  • Create a blog schedule with certain days having themes (Menu Plan Monday, etc.)

Entrepreneurship

  • Earn money each month in Amazon gift cards (from SwagbucksBing and surveys) {ongoing}
  • Try new ways of making money – 
  • Sell what I have – repot aloe plants and sell, make starts of house plants, grow zucchini (something that does very well on our stand), objects decluttered from around the house (Craigslist, Facebook, etc.) – I’ve started placing a box in the pantry and adding items to it as I come across them.  These are items I realize we don’t really like, need, want or use.  This has turned out to be easier than doing it room by room.

 

Apr 132013
 

Somehow I have forgotten to do these each month.  The last one I did was at the end of January.  Let’s see what has happened since then.

Here are my goals for 2013:

Children:

Encourage learning

  • Read aloud 8 books per month from Reading List {ongoing.  I did get a Reading List for Children put together of all the books I was interest in reading.} – Update: my library redid their online system and all the books I had schedule ahead of time were deleted.  I need to go back and imput them again.  This has only made us a week or two behind where I wanted to be, so it isn’t a big deal.  I also may do this a bit different as I find I am paying a lot more in late fees due to the varying due dates.
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers – One kid can now count past 30 pretty easily and another can almost get to 20, though misses 13/14/15.
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try to {We have been going through “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Steps”.  I think it will take us more than 100 days at this pace.  Hoping it is just a slow start.} I stopped the reading lessons as it was not fun.  I need to look into something else and will pick it up again over the summer.
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside I have been trying, but need to do better.  Our outside time has been more along the lines of “mommy needs to do outside work so we are all going to go outside.”

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week I have been forgetting more often than not. I still haven’t gotten a good morning routine down.  Between waking up, morning chores, getting ready, breakfast and the bus coming I just haven’t found our groove.  Summer will be here soon and I have higher hopes.
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names  This has been a lot harder than I thought.  Even harder than the New Testament books.  Any suggestions?
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month) We haven’t even started these.

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Swimming lessons
Encourage self-sufficiency
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on {ongoing}
  • Keep up with former habits {ongoing.  I am having to break the old bad habit of letting things slide.  It is a slow start but we are making progress.}

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there)
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K {I’ve started walking several times a week to work my way up to this.}
  • Get at least 8 hours rest
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly
  • Try new things – Grow {ongoing}

Marriage:

Stay connected

  • Go on at least one date a month {ongoing}
  • Take time to talk each day {ongoing}
  • Say “I love you” meaningfully daily {ongoing}

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month {ongoing}
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe binder, try 24 new recipes
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals {Books Read in January}

Create a welcoming environment (Finish incomplete tasks and get rid of clutter)

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch
  • Replace siding on house
  • Label pantry
  • Finish painting around “new” trim
  • Finish closet in downstairs bedroom
  • Decorate my bedroom
  • Pick up, organize and declutter basement and upstairs closet
  • Declutter – reduce number of cook books, spend 5 minutes a day on hot spots, reduce number of toys out
  • Garage – attach counter top, finish putting up cabinets, organize cabinets, declutter, wipe down walls
  • Find art work or pictures to put up in main living areas

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family:

Keep in contact with family and friends

  • Skype once a week with my mother-in-law {ongoing}
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew {ongoing}
Encourage those around me
  • Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone {ongoing}

Stand/Blogging/Other Income Sources:

Create a schedule

  • Take Sundays off (schedule posts ahead of time, don’t put stand out, stay off computer) – {ongoing}
  • Create a blog schedule with certain days having themes (Menu Plan Monday, etc.)

Entrepreneurship

  • Earn money each month in Amazon gift cards (from SwagbucksBing and surveys) {ongoing}
  • Try new ways of making money – 
  • Sell what I have – repot aloe plants and sell, make starts of house plants, grow zucchini (something that does very well on our stand), objects decluttered from around the house (Craigslist, Facebook, etc.)

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems separately.
  • Freeze 30 bags of red peppers; 12 for meatloafs, 12 for soups, 6 for omletes and various uses
  • Can apple/pear sauce, as much as can be done
  • Grow enough basil, parsley and cilantro to not have to buy any during the growing season; preserve herbs

Grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement our weekly salads and zucchini for stand

Redo garden layout

  • Relocate raised beds; seed where beds were
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window
  • Remove weeping cherry tree (plant blackberries?)
  • Create large containers for blueberry bushes
  • Remove brushes and concrete blocks under hackberry tree; relocate daffodil bulbs; flatten area
  • Build 2 rain barrels

 

I was able to mark off several more things this time than perviously.  I’m really glad to see that result as I was afraid I hadn’t done anything.  It does seem obvious that there are holes in what I am doing and perhaps I need to refocus energy on those areas.  Or perhaps I should finish goals in one area before moving on.

Jan 242013
 

 

On Tuesday I posted about this past year and some of the things from this blog that stood out to me.  It was the first year for this blog and an interesting walk down memory lane.  It is amazing where it first started and where it is now.

Crystal, from MoneySavingMom, often says that public accountability does wonders for her.  I used to say, “It doesn’t work for me.  I only need personal accountability.  Whether people know I reached my goal or not doesn’t matter to me.”  However, now I disagree.  While putting together the links for the “2012 in Review” and remembering where I was this time last year, I do feel like I’ve grown because of writing out my goals in a place for others to see.   This growth has been both in gardening and non-gardening areas.

Over the course of last year, I realized how many of my goals, whether weekly or yearly, I had never actually said out loud to someone.  Posting them on here has been great for me, in that it created a place to write them down and review at the end of the week what got accomplished.  I know I am not always the best at this, but I am better than I used to be.  This is also one area I hope to improve on this year.  I have read through several books this past year, and even since 2013 has begun, which talk about planning or organizing your day.  These have included books such as:  21 Days To A More Disciplined Life, Attack Your Day, and 52 Mondaysicon.

I also subscribe to FlyLady’s daily emails, which help keep me going in the right direction, even if I don’t always get my list of tasks completed.  I like lists.  I like marking things off a list, even if I added it just so I could mark it off. (Thankfully the kids haven’t learned this yet when I say, while in the grocery store, “It’s not on the list, so we can’t get it this time.”)

Attack Your Day is actually a book I’m currently reading.  I may not be a fan of the writing style of the book, but I really like the direction it is going.  They describe what I call “planning backwards” much better than I have in the past.  They put it so clearly that it made me take a second look at the upcoming year.  My 2013 Yearly Goals list was made up when I started reading this book.  However, I decided to restructure the list after realizing that what I needed was to define my overarching goals.  The list had started to get very detailed, which is not what I wanted for the Yearly Goals list.  I plan on saving those for my Monthly and Weekly Goals.  If all the small details were put on the main list, then I could very easily see myself getting overwhelmed and lost in the non-important things.

By changing the layout I decided to give myself general goals (in bold) for each section.  These were then followed up with more detailed ways I could accomplish that goals.  After doing this I realized the reasoning behind several smaller goals was a similar larger goal that I was actually working towards.  So while the smaller goals were nice to work towards, if I missed the forest for the trees then I would have been disappointed with the results.

With all of that said, here is my revised 2013 Yearly Goals list.

Children:

Encourage learning

  • Read aloud 8 books per month from Reading List
  • Help kids learn to count to 50, without missing numbers
  • Teach the oldest to read, or try to
  • Have daily walks or times to explore outside

Encourage the kids to learn more about the Bible and God

  • Morning Bible Times during the week
  • Memorized the Disciples’ names
  • Help them memorize the books of the Old Testament by August  (about 6 per month)

Encourage positive self-esteem

  • Teach oldest to ride a bike without training wheels
  • Swimming lessons
  • Assign 1 habit/chore per month for each kid to work on
  • Keep up with former habits

Personal:

Learn more about the Bible and God

  • Finish reading through the Bible (I’m over half way there)
  • Daily morning Bible (Quite) Times

Take better care of myself

  • Run in a 5K
  • Get at least 8 hours rest
  • Play/practice my instrument weekly (it has been over 8 years since I played it.)
  • Create a book list for myself. Read three books per month
  • Journal 3 x weekly
  • Try new things – Grow

Marriage:

Stay connected

  • Go on at least one date a month
  • Take time to talk each day
  • Say “I love you” meaningfully daily

Homemaking:

Create a schedule that works for the household

  • See “encouraging self-sufficiency” under the children’s section above, as well as my goal of getting8 hours of rest each night
  • Focus on one habit a month
  • Plan meals – menu plan on a monthly basis, do freezer cooking for 3 months at a time of at least 14 meals, organize recipe binder, try 24 new recipes
  • Read 4 books on organization, scheduling, or setting goals

Create a welcoming environment (Finish incomplete tasks and get rid of clutter)

  • De-wallpaper and paint upstairs
  • Repaint porch
  • Replace siding on house
  • Label pantry
  • Finish painting around “new” trim
  • Finish closet in downstairs bedroom
  • Decorate my bedroom
  • Pick up, organize and declutter basement and upstairs closet
  • Declutter – reduce number of cook books, spend 5 minutes a day on hot spots, reduce number of toys out
  • Garage – attach counter top, finish putting up cabinets, organize cabinets, declutter, wipe down walls
  • Find art work or pictures to put up in main living areas

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family:

Keep in contact with family and friends

  • Skype once a week with my mother-in-law
  • Skype at least once a week with my nephew
Encourage those around me
  • Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone

Stand/Blogging/Other Income Sources:

Create a schedule

  • Take Sundays off (schedule posts ahead of time, don’t put stand out, stay off computer)
  • Create a blog schedule with certain days having themes (Menu Plan Monday, etc.)

Entrepreneurship

  • Earn money each month in Amazon gift cards (from Swagbucks, Bing and surveys)
  • Try new ways of making money
  • Sell what I have – repot aloe plants and sell, make starts of house plants, grow zucchini (something that does very well on our stand), objects decluttered from around the house (Craigslist, Facebook, etc.)

Gardening:

Preserve produce for upcoming year

  • Can 60 quarts of crushed tomatoes
  • Put up 77 quarts of tomato sauce
  • Can 52 quarts of beets
  • Grow, and freeze, 12 sandwiches bags of green onions.  Freeze their stems seperately.
  • Freeze 30 bags of red peppers; 12 for meatloafs, 12 for soups, 6 for omletes and various uses
  • Can apple/pear sauce, as much as can be done
  • Grow enough basil, parsley and cilantro to not have to buy any during the growing season; preserve herbs

Grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement our weekly salads and zucchini for stand

Redo garden layout

  • Relocate raised beds; seed where beds were
  • Make raised beds deeper
  • Convert or build raised bed for strawberries
  • Create a herb container garden
  • Create trellis for beans under kitchen window
  • Remove weeping cherry tree (plant blackberries?)
  • Create large containers for blueberry bushes
  • Remove brushes and concrete blocks under hackberry tree; relocate daffodil bulbs; flatten area
  • Build 2 rain barrels

 

This list is definantly going to be out of my comfort zone. There is a lot on here that I would love to accomplish, but don’t know if I have the courage to work towards.  The last goal in Gardening for example – “redo garden layout” scares me.  “What if I mess something up?  What if I fail at getting a good crop for all the effort?  What if …?  What if …?  What if ….?”  For those reasons alone I almost left that goal off.  I even went as far as trying to talk myself out of it.  However, if that would have happened I knew I would be unhappy all year.  I don’t want to be unhappy (about these particular aspects of my garden) for another year.  That is one great lesson my front flower bed redo taught me.  “Stop whining and just do it!”  So that goal was added.

Have you thought about the upcoming year?  Are there any themes or main goals you would like to work towards?  Are you already working towards them?

 

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Jul 012012
 

Yearly Goals

1. Put up enough tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes for the year that I will not have to buy any.  That comes out to about 77 quarts of sauce.  –  I was looking over the jar left from last year and think I may have put up just a bit too much.  Having a little left over means I estimated almost perfectly.  Better to have a little left than no jars and a month to go before I can do more.  You never know if you will suddenly use more recipes calling for it, or if the family will be tired of spaghetti and not want to use it.  Those are unknown factors that are hard to determine a year ahead of time.

2. Can up the equivalent of 52 quarts of beets. – So far 31 have been canned and 1 eaten.

3. Restock my apple sauce/pear sauce supply.  – This is more of a fall goal, so no work on it yet.

4. Not have to buy herbs from the store because I will have them in the garden.  This would include cilantro, parsley and basil. – Parsley and basil are planted.  The cilantro succumbed to the heat.  I will see if my friend still has some I can replant.

5. Grow, or obtain, green onions to freeze for use in beef stew this winter.  –  These are looking good.  I need to get out and pick the first round of them.  It is pretty late in the season to be doing so, I know.

6. Freeze baggies of chopped colored peppers for use in making meatloaf, omelets, etc.  We are not fans of green peppers, so will not be chopping and freezing any. –  Plants are planted and looking good.  Just waiting for them to actually produce something.

7. Grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to supplement our weekly salads. – Lettuce, well, I’ll try again come fall; there is one plant that is still chugging along in this 90 degree weather.  Cukes are doing okay with blooms and tomatoes are starting to get some height on them.

 

Jun 192012
 

After being gone for almost a week doing this, then telling you all about it in words, after promising you that I would post pictures … then promising again, here they are.  Pictures of most of the process.  I forgot to take pictures of the actual canning part.  Just imagine a water bath canner sitting on the stove.  That is pretty much what the picture would be.  Exciting isn’t it?  Well, now on to actual pictures.

I decided to pickle the beets for a few reasons.  The top two are: 1. We like pickled beets and 2. By pickling them I was able to use a boiling water bath canner, not a pressure canner.

Here is the recipe and directions I used for Pickled Beets.

These are from the first peck of beets I had, or what is left.  The rest were already in the pot for the initial cooking.  These, and the ones in the pot, resulted in my first 5 jars.

Here are 7 more pecks I got to can.  These are the beets responsible for the next 22 jars.

To get the skins off of beets, you have to cook/boil them for about 45 minutes.  This was by far the longest part of the canning and what made the whole process take so long.  After the first peck, I put my canner to use as a regular pot.  That helped the process, but also delayed me actually being able to can the cooked beets.  (Below is not my canner, but the pot I used the first time before switching to my canner.)

Now, I also didn’t take a picture of the next step, as my hands were covered in beet juice.  After the beets cooked, I put them into the sink to cool off a bit.  Since I had so many, I then refilled the pots with water and started the next batch cooking.

After the pots had been refilled with water and beets, I then returned to the beets in the sink.  By this point were cool enough to handle.

I finally got my groove and this was the result:

  1. pick up a beet
  2. cut off the tops
  3. cut off the roots
  4. slide off the skin (all 3 parts went into a large bowl)
  5. sit the beet on a cutting board.

I then repeated the steps with the next beet.  I never actually used the cutting board; just cut them while holding them.  The cutting board was to contain any juice and keep them from staining the counter.

If you actually  have a very sharp knife don’t do the cutting in your hand, for obvious reasons.  The beets should also be soft enough that you don’t have to actually cut, just press.  If anything, I had trouble keeping the skins on while I cut the roots and stems.

Once my cutting board was full of beets, I turned to slicing them.  Now, my mom likes to cube hers’.  Why?  Well, that is the way her mom did it.  I slice mine.  Why?  Because that is the way they come in the cans at the store.  Which is right?  I don’t know.

Back to slicing … I sliced them about 1/4 inch thick.  Now, remember what I was using my canner for?  Right, a pot.  Not a canner at this point.  So I placed the cut beets in a large bowl.  When it was full, I placed a lid or plastic wrap on top and stuck it in the fridge.  This worked out well and I will probably do the same thing next time.  Just not with 7 pecks all at once.  Maybe just two or three.

These are 22 of the 27 jars that resulted from the 7 pecks.

I did have enough sense to clean up before taking the picture.  What was it like?  Imagine canning stuff, drops of beet juice, towels to sit hot jars on, towels to sit under jars being filled, big bowl of cut off pieces, etc.  Just regular canning stuff.  I tried to keep it all on the space next to the stove, which did limit the space I used.  This also meant that half of my sink was full of dirty dishes.  Why not put them in the dishwasher?  There were canning jars in there, of course.

Now, I did take a picture of one mess, just because I wanted to use it as a warning.  If you decide to can this many at a time, or if you try to can in a pot that is too small for the number of beets you put in it, well, this will be the result.  Those are canning and cooking liquids (beet colored water) that spilled over in the process.  Add in 30-45 minutes of time for canning or cooking on a gas stove, the result is cooked on liquid.  It wasn’t hard to get off, just a big mess.  I was glad to not have a flat top though.

One last confession.  Besides, you saw my dirty stove so we are all friends now.  I did not grow the beets.  I got them from someone else for a decent price.  It was worth it for me at the stage of life I am in now.  Also, I don’t have the space to grow as many beets as I want.

The end result was 32 jars of pickled beets.  This is about 20 jars shy of the minimum I wanted for the upcoming year.  Beets are not a thing of the past for me yet.

I estimated that each quart cost me between $.50 and $1.  $.50 just for the beets, the rest for gas, sugar, spices, lids, etc.