Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creating a new habit

I have successfully ran 3 times a week this year. I am finding that it works best if I run once during the weekend and then I only have to get up twice during the week. The treadmill is not as torturous as it used to be and I'm finding it easier to get out of bed. I'd love to see some tangible evidence that this is good for me but I do feel better and I like feeling muscles in my legs. Last year I didn't start running until mid-March and then was able to run 5 miles by the end of September. I'm excited to have a head start this year.

I firmly believe that I can double the distance I run on the treadmill if I run outside with a friend. That clock on the treadmill is my nemesis. I start out thinking, "I'll run 25 minutes today. I should be able to do that." After about 10 minutes and 100 times of looking at that darn clock, I start thinking, "You know, 10 minutes is better than nothing." Then I have to start playing mind games with myself and promise myself "just 5 more minutes" and then 5 minutes after that. Lucky for me, I'm easily fooled and keep believing my promises.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday afternoons

When I was growing up, Sunday afternoons were sacred times. I think even before my dad was a pastor, they were for rest and relaxation. My dad doesn't usually get into football games so the tv wasn't usually on. I remember reading the Sunday ads and falling asleep on the couch just about every week.

Some traditions are worth continuing. I love Sunday afternoon naps. I don't always take one anymore. Sometimes I am out shopping or sometimes I decide to read instead. Today, I decided I wanted a nap. I slept for 1 1/2 hours. And I slept hard. It was the kind where you wake up with a little drool on your pillow and your eyes feel so heavy, you can barely keep them open long enough to look at the clock. The kind where it takes you a minute to figure out where you are and why it's so bright outside. The kind where you sometimes feel a bit dazed and confused for the rest of the day.

Today, I woke up from my nap and realized it would be a good time to run. I have been trying to exercise at least 3 times a week. If I run on Saturday or Sunday, then I only have to get up 2 more times during the week and I feel more like I'm setting myself up for success. I went downstairs to our treadmill and cranked up my ipod and ran. And also yelled at Owen to not throw basketballs at me while I was running. It was invigorating and energizing and after I showered, I was ready to face the rest of the day and felt very clear-headed.

I love Sunday afternoons.

Friday, January 22, 2010

All by myself

I have had the luxury of being in my house by myself the last couple of days. Thursday morning I met my parents half way between their house and mine and they took the kids home with them. I came back here and did a little cleaning and then went out for lunch with Josh. When I got back home, I decided to deep-clean the fridge. The radio was playing, there were no interruptions, no need to hurry and get done before naptime. After that, I did some shopping and baking. Josh came home for supper and then he left to teach a college class and I was on my own again.

Today has been similar. I've done some cleaning, a little shopping and then just enjoyed time on my own. It's been such a nice break and so relaxing. I've watched a couple of movies, lounged around in bed this morning, read a little and gotten a few projects done. It doesn't take long to clean when there isn't anyone here getting things out.

And as wonderful as it's been, it's helped me appreciate my normal life. I miss my kids and our normal daily routine!

Tonight, Josh and I are going out. Tomorrow we'll sleep in and leisurely get ready. And then we'll go bring our kids home. Until then, I'll enjoy the quiet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Big green tractor

This was a John Deere Christmas for Owen. I need to take a picture of him with all his John Deere gifts - he is running a large farm co-op based on the number of tractors and machinery he has now! The biggest surprise was the battery-powered rider from my parents.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but he really wanted to see how much power this baby had. He kept pushing on it and spinning the tires until my dad started to get worried that maybe he'd wear a hole through the carpet. The tractor was then taken outside and Owen got to see how it worked in the snow.

It's not really built for snow, as it turns out. It didn't bother Owen at all but apparently it gets stuck pretty easily and then someone needs to give it a nudge to get it going. We're just going to wait until its warmer out.

My parents brought it down last weekend (wouldn't fit in the back of our mini-van - go figure) and Owen saw it in our garage -I think he had forgotten about it. He wanted to ride it, of course, and was told he could ride it in the summer. How do you help an almost 3-year-old understand when that is, exactly?

Josh wondered if we should put it in the basement but I discouraged it. Our basement is not that big to begin with and is quite full of stuff. Tori has her Barbie house down there and I think she'd get upset if he ran into her while she was playing. And he most certainly would. Brendan's basketball arcade game is down there and I don't think he'd be pleased to have Owen ramming into him while he's trying to make a shot. Rachel would probably not even venture down to the basement just to be on the safe side. When the snow and ice melt from our driveway, we'll get it out for him.

Until then, he'll just ask about summer whenever he sees it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making cookies

I just had Rachel and Owen decorate one cookie before naptime and then let Brendan and Tori do the rest after Rachel and Owen had gone upstairs. They did a great job of decorating and even putting sprinkles on. I decided to keep it simple and just use white frosting. There were lots of colorful sprinkles so the cookies still looked pretty.

Brendan shows off the finished product. I was trying to get a picture of each one frosting but he was too fast.

Look at how serious he is! Frosting cookies is not a joking matter for Owen.

Tori got right up to the edges so there were very few parts of cookie that were left unfrosted.

Rachel had to be encouraged to add more frosting - she really just wanted to get to the sprinkles.
I noticed a big difference in our family from last year to this year. Last year I had two kids and two babies. This year I had 4 kids. It is so much easier to do things with 4 kids! We planned a lot more family activities and it was so nice to be able to include everyone. Rachel and Owen have grown up in a lot of ways.

Soon after their 1st birthday, Josh and I went on a weekend trip with Brendan and Tori to an indoor water park in Frankenmuth. A few months later, we did another short trip to Chicago with just Brendan and Tori. I had thought about doing something like that again but really didn't like the idea of not taking Rachel and Owen. When they were 1, it didn't bother me. But now, I'm ready for our whole family to do things together, not just part of our family. Lots of fun times ahead!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm learning

I'm learning to add things to our homeschool schedule slowly. In the past, I would get a brilliant idea and then surprise my kids with it the next day and wonder why they were resistant. Now, I understand them a little more and have learned to slowly acclimate them to change.

I talked to a fellow homeschooler yesterday and asked her what she did for writing. I've been torn about writing because it is not something Brendan enjoys. He never knows what to write and gets frustrated when he tries to write a story for an assignment. We have gone through many tears and struggles over this the past few years. Another friend said that children don't need to write creative stories until they're older and have more experiences to draw from. Not that it's bad if they do - some kids are more creative than others. But that I shouldn't worry if he's not writing right now.

So I decided to not do any writing at the beginning of this year. We settled into our routine and things have been going well. Brendan has written a few stories on his own, just for fun, with no pressure for me. I was happy to see him do that and it gave us a chance to talk about punctuation and paragraphs and all that good stuff.

I wanted to start some kind of writing but wasn't sure what or how. My fellow homeschool friend said that her daughter has to write a sentence for each of her spelling words. I thought that sounded like a good idea (and cheap, too - no extra curriculum to buy!) so I thought I'd have Tori do the same thing and have Brendan write a short story with his spelling words. But this time, instead of just telling them about my great idea, I realized that they might be overwhelmed with this new assignment so I decided to start out slow.

Brendan has 20 spelling words every week. I had him choose 10 and write a sentence for each one. (At first he misunderstood and thought he had to fit all 10 in one sentence and wasn't sure he could do it.) Then I had Tori pick 5 out of her 10 and write a sentence for those. The assignment went smoothly and I was impressed with how much teaching I could do just with that extra assignment. Tori was spelling more words on her own and remembering to capitalize the beginning of the sentence and had to figure out the punctuation for the end. Brendan had fun coming up with some creative sentences and writing them out neatly.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My favorite people

Last October, my friend lidija (of LAF Lines - see blog on side) did a photo session with my kids.

Rachel was clingy and didn't want to leave my side. Owen wanted to splash in puddles. Tori and Brendan kept looking away. But none of that mattered.

She captured my kids personalities. She captured them being themselves instead of faking a smile. When I look back on these pictures years from now, I will remember what I loved most about each of my children at this time in their life. And that is truly priceless.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's funny how much that feels like a clean slate to me. It's just another day but it feels like so much more. I like clean slates. I like the feeling of starting fresh with no past failures weighing me down. I could really delve into some Biblical truths but it's late and I don't want to attempt that depth right now.

With this beautiful clean slate feeling, I want to start the year off right. Here are some resolutions in no particular order:

- household: I want to keep the budget up-to-date, be more consistent with sales and coupons, and set up a routine for cleaning the house. It's all about creating habits.

- family: I want to plan more family time whether it's a weekend vacation or a game night.

- school: I want to finish the year strong and not let my laziness get the best of me. I want to map out the rest of the year (just a basic outline) so I can see where we are and what we need to do to finish.

- personal: I want to read 4 non-fiction books that cause me to think and grow as a wife, mother, friend and follower of Christ. Interesting that I just wrote this off the top of my head and I randomly picked 4 books (figuring 1 every 3 months was manageable) and also came up with 4 relationships in my life. Maybe one book for each relationship? Although I think anything I read about being a follower of Christ will have a positive affect on all relationships so we'll see how this plays out.

There are also specific fitness and financial goals that I am thinking about but haven't really nailed down the specifics yet. I want to challenge myself but also keep them attainable. And even though I joked about it before, going to bed earlier is actually a goal! Only for school days though.

And now, off to bed with a light heart and a clean slate.