Showing posts with label Goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goals. Show all posts

Five Goals For Early Fall

At the beginning of this year, I was really trying to make monthly (or at least semi-monthly) goals.  I did pretty well until about March, and then...well, you know.  It's time to try to get back into goal-keeping mode, and I am looking forward to having something to work toward for the last few months this year!  These are my goals for August and September (I find I do better if I give myself goals every two months, instead of every month).

Finish Our Summer To-Do List

I wrote here about all the fun stuff I hoped to do with the kids this summer - we've done about half of the things on the list, and I think we could probably cross off at least ten more items before the end of August!  I'll post a final list update of everything we did in a couple weeks, but I'd like to squeeze as much as possible before we start school.

Finish All My Half-Read Books

These are the books I am currently halfway through:

-Lord Edgeware Dies by Agatha Christie
-The Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
-The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin (Kindle only $3!)
-The Bright Side Of Going Dark by Kelly Harms
-Lovely War by Julie Berry
-This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
-Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
-Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
-The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
-The Book Of Signs by David Jeremiah

It looks like alot, but since I'm halfway through all of those, it's really equal to about five books.  I'm tired of having so many books going at once, and I'd really like to close these books up before diving into some fall-ish mood reading.

Workout At Least Four Times A Week

As I mentioned in my post the other day, this is my first year in eight years to draw a deer tag.  I know if I don't try to get in better shape I'm going to be wheezing my way up the mountains during hunting season.  I want to put my best effort in since I haven't been hunting in so long - I want it to be as pleasant of an experience as possible, and I want to get something!  My goal is to workout at least four times a week, and especially my legs, so hopefully I won't slow Derek down too much.

Sort And Print This Year's Photos + Print One Year's Worth Of Past Photos

Something I've had on my goal list for the past several years is to finally print all the pictures from the kids' baby years, and put them in albums.  This is something I've been terrible about ever since Gwen was born.  I'd like to go through the next year in my backlog (I think it's 2014), narrow it down to the 200 (or so) best photos, and get them printed up before the end of September.  (We'll worry about getting them into albums later.)

I'd also like to get this current year's photos sorted and printed up until this point.  Last year for Christmas I printed up the best pictures of each kid, put them in a little brag book album from Walmart, and put them in their stockings for Christmas.  They loved it.  They loved having a book full of memories and photos of themselves and our family from the previous year.  I want to do it again this year, and I don't want to leave it to the last minute because it is quite alot of work.  So I'm going to start on that early.

Finish Christmas Shopping

Derek brought up a really good point  - we may want to accomplish our Christmas shopping early this year.  Who knows how things will go in the months leading up to election day, if there will be more shutdowns, or if the mail service will suffer more delays than it already has.  I don't want to order things in November (as I usually do), and run the risk of anything interfering with packages arriving on time.  So I'm attempting to finish ALL our Christmas shopping by October 1st.  This year has been stressful enough that I'm also liking the idea of having a very non-stressful Christmas because I got everything organized early!

Did your goals for the year get de-railed like mine did?

Goals For The Dreariest Months | March And April Goals

March is upon us, which means it is time for me to check in with my 2020 goals!  Making goals for a couple months at a time (January/February), as opposed to monthly goals, ended up working out really well over the last couple months.  It gave me a little more wiggle room to catch up when life got a little crazy, so I think I'm going to do that again and make goals for March and April together.  I'll write a check-in at the end of May.

But anyway, how did my January and February goals go?

-Memorize Hebrews chapter 5.
-Set up prayer pages in my bullet journal.
-Start the day hugging each kid, and hug Derek when he gets home. (Did pretty well at this - I didn't succeed at starting every day with a hug, but there were more hugs in general!)
-Clean out my Facebook friends list.   (Read more about this here.)
-Send snail mail.
-Save $100 in February.
-Participate in the Read Your Bookshelf challenge.

I was pretty happy overall - focusing on a few small goals in specific areas was great because I never got too overwhelmed or behind, and I did succeed at mostly every goal I made.

As I've been looking ahead, I'm glad to have a few specific things to work on during what is arguably the dreariest time of year in the mountains.  March and April are usually interspersed random snow days and muddy days in between, and as a consequence, Spring never been my favorite time of year.  One of my dear friends moved up into the mountains several years ago, and she said she finally understood why I hated spring, ha!  But writing this out, I'm looking forward to trying to accomplish a few things instead of letting the momentum get buried with all the spring snow and mud.

(Spring looks kind of pretty in this photo though, doesn't it?)

I'm thinking I might have added too many things to my list for this next two-month period, but we'll see how it goes! Here are more specific updates and thoughts for my goal areas, and the things I'd like to focus on for the next period:


Overall Goal: Memorize Hebrews, and spend more time in prayer each day.

Update:  I did successfully memorize Hebrews 5, but I want to spend a little time reviewing it over the next couple weeks and then move on to memorize Hebrews 6.  I did create some prayer pages in my journal, but I'd like to figure out more specific items to pray for each member of my family.

Little Steps Goal: Memorize Hebrews 6 before May, and be more specific and thoughtful in my prayers for each family member by coming up with a prayer list for each person.

Marriage And Motherhood

Overall Goal: Be a happier and more thankful wife and mother.

Update: Last month I did get much more intentional about doling out the hugs, though I didn't always catch every kid every morning.   But I did my best, and I think the kids and Derek appreciated my attempt to start our day on a better note!

Next Little Steps Goal:  Over the next two months, I'd like to make a written list of specific ways I am thankful for each kid and Derek (and perhaps write them a note telling them what I come up with).  I also want to re-read Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager.  I read it several years ago, and remember it being thought-provoking and helpful!


Overall Goal: Spend less time on social media, and spend more time investing in and encouraging my real-life friends (including family).

Update:  I think I've been pretty successful at staying off social media so far this year - so much so that I think I'm going to have to tip the balance the other way again!  I haven't been sharing enough of our day-to-day photos on Instagram, and I don't want to drop off too much on that because I still want those photos and memories for our Instagram photo book.  I wasn't 100% happy with my snail mail attempt last month, so I'd like to try that goal again.

Next Little Steps Goal: Write a letter to a friend, have my sister over for poetry tea time with the kids, and plan a joint birthday party for the boys.


Overall Goal: Save $1000.

Update: I saved the $100 I had hoped for, and also got paid for a couple of my freelance articles, so I squirreled that money away too!

Next Little Steps Goal: Save $100 in March and $100 in April.


Overall Goal: Read more books I own.

Update: I did finish two books I already owned as part of Chantel's Read Your Bookshelf Challenge.  The two I finished were And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and Ember Falls by S. D. Smith (part of the Green Ember series, so I'm sort of counting it for the read-a-book-with-a-color-in-the-title challenge).  I enjoyed them both, and enjoyed crossing them off my list!  I have also decided that for this goal area, I'd specifically like to focus on reading the physical and audio books I own.  I have a bunch of ebooks I haven't read, but I would like to focus on physical books to clear space on my bookshelf, and audiobooks are a no-brainer since I listen to them while I'm doing chores.

Next Little Steps Goal: Read at least one book from my physical shelf (I'm thinking The Lake House by Kate Morton, so I can cross off the March prompt in the Read Your Bookshelf Challenge), and one audiobook (I'm thinking The Accidental President by A. J. Baime). I also have to read Adopted For Life: The Priority Of Adoption For Christian Families And Churches by Russel Moore, because the challenge prompt for April is "the book that has been on your unread shelf the longest".

So here is the full list for March and April!

-Memorize Hebrews 6
-Make a specific prayer list for each family member
-Read Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager
-Make a gratitude list for each family member
-Write a letter
-Have my sister over for poetry tea time
-Plan the boys' birthday party
-Save $100 in March
-Save $100 in April
-Read one physical book from my unread shelf
-Read one audiobook from my unread shelf
-Read Adopted For Life by Russel Moore

How are your 2020 goals going so far?  

What I Hope To Accomplish In 2020

Over the past week I've been seriously thinking over how I want to handle goals in 2020, and I think I need a way to more frequently check in with myself on my goals.

Last year I made very specific, measurable goals that I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2019.  Specific and measurable is good, right?  Except that I was thinking too far in advance, and my goals, though measurable, were still too big.  My end goals became a little overwhelming to me, and when they started to seem unattainable, I just gave up.

This year I decided to make overarching goals for the year, but I'm going to try to make "little step" goals for each month (or two) that will move toward those overarching goals.  Does that make sense?  I'm hoping to write a post each month about how I did and share it on the blog for some accountability as well - if I write about it, I'm more likely to feel like I can't give up on it!

I decided on four categories this year, spiritual, marriage and motherhood, social, and financial.  I did not include health and blog categories as I did last year, mainly for simplicity's sake.  It's easier to focus more intently on less categories.  I also feel like I don't do too shabby at keeping up on this blog and my health anyway, so I'm skipping making goals in those areas for this year.


Overall Goals: Memorize Hebrews, and spend more time in prayer each day.

Little Steps:  Memorize Hebrews chapter 5, and start a prayer page in my journal.

There isn't much to explain here.  If I want to actually memorize Hebrews this year, I need to just buckle down and do it.  Last year I spent alot of time reviewing and solidifying verses, but this year I want to focus on the initial effort of getting them into my head.  I may not know them as well as I'd like, but once they are in there tentatively, it's easier to solidify them later.

I also have a Bible study bullet journal, which I use only irregularly when something stands out to me in my quiet time. I'd like to make it a more useful tool for my prayer time.  So over the next month I need to figure out a way to set it up to track the things I want to pray for.

Marriage And Motherhood

Overall Goals:  Be a happier and more thankful wife and mother.

Little Step:  Start the day with hugging each kid, and greet Derek immediately with a hug when he gets home.  

This goal makes me sound a little pathetic, but between getting the kids up and dressed, making beds, doing my own hair and makeup, making breakfast, getting started on school...sometimes I forget to take a minute to look into each of their sweet faces, and give them a hug and "good morning" before all the craziness starts.  I'd like to change that.  For Derek, he usually gets home right about the time when my nerves are frayed from all the chaos of the day.  I don't always greet him properly either, so that needs to change as well.


Overall Goals:  Spend less time on social media, and spend more time investing in and encouraging my real-life friends (including family).

Little Steps:  Clean out my friend list on Facebook, and send some snail mail.

I'm cheating a little with this one, because I actually already cleaned out my Facebook friends list, and I am hoping to write more about that process next week.  Stay tuned for that!  My other goal is to send out some good old-fashioned snail mail.  I used to be pretty good at letter-writing, but I probably only send out one letter a year now.  I'd like to write at least one longer letter to one of my dear long-distance friends, and at least one short note of encouragement to someone.  I think it's a pity how much snail mail has declined, because I know the joy of receiving something in the mail that isn't an advertisement or a bill.


Overall Goals: Save $1000.

Little Steps:  Save $100 in February.

That's fairly straightforward, isn't it?  I have a secret project in the works that I need some money to accomplish, so I need to really buckle down and save a little more successfully this year.  Last year I saved only about half my goal, so if I can catch myself up to where I originally wanted to be at the end of 2020, so much the better!


Overall Goal: Read more books that I own but haven't read.

Little Steps: Participate in the Read Your Bookshelf project!

This one is more just for fun, but I also do have a ridiculous amount of books which I haven't read.  Chantel at An Intentional Life created this fun themed challenge to get us reading our unread books, and I'm going to try to participate each month!  In January I have to read a book with a color in its title (I'm gong to read "The White Cottage Mystery" or "Greenglass House"), and February is supposed to be a book that is also a movie (I want to read "The Princess Bride"!).

There we go!  My goals for 2020, and my little steps for the month of February.  I'm giving myself the extra two weeks in January as freebies, to help me get into the swing of things.  The plan is to check in with myself at the end of February and report how I'm doing on the blog (you guys are basically my accountability group, ha!).

What is your main goal for 2020?

How'd Those Resolutions Go?

Last year was the first year in...well, maybe ever?...that I actually set goals for the year.  I have tended to avoid making resolutions because I have always been sure that I would fail at them anyway, but last year I decided to give it a go.  Let's see how I did on my resolutions, shall we?

2019 Goals:

-Spiritual: Memorize the book of Hebrews.  I did not do well at this.  Before 2019 I had memorized through Hebrews chapter 4, but it had become pretty fuzzy.  In 2019, I basically really solidified Hebrews 1-4 in my memory, and that was it. I didn't memorize a single verse of chapter 5.  Fail.

-Marriage: Write Derek one note per month. Yeah, I didn't do this at all. Fail.

-Motherhood: Document my children better.  I had a specific goal of taking one picture of each kid per week, and writing down one thing about them.  I did not do any of that, but I do think I succeeded at the more vague overall goal of documenting the kids better.  I shared cute things the kids did and said more often on the blog and on Instagram.  In addition, I printed a ton of photos in 2019, which is something I haven't been consistent about before.  Semi-Success.

-Health: Go sugar free one week per month.  I actually did this!  I didn't record whether I did it every month, but I did sugar-free weeks frequently, and I felt great every time I did.  Success!

-Reading: Participate in the unread shelf project.  I did this, but not as much as I wanted to.  I did sort through my unread shelves, got rid of a ton of books I'm no longer interested in, and read a stack of the books I already had.  I have a ton more to go though, so it's still in progress.  Semi-Success.

-Blog: Try some posting routines.  I was semi-consistent with themed posts, like my "Stuff I Like" posts, and "The Wednesday Five" which I started in the fall.  Success.

-Financial: Save $1000.  I was not as consistent with this as I wanted.  I was using a weekly saving chart, which I think would have worked well if I used a weekly budget, but I don't.  I work with a monthly budget, often do my grocery shopping monthly, etc.  Since the saving schedule was weekly and my budget was monthly, I often forgot to hold aside the money I wanted to save.  I only ended up saving about half of the $1000.  Semi-Success.

I thought this was going to be a travesty when I sat down to write this post, but I am so relieved to see that I only out-and-out failed in two areas!  Being successful or semi-successful at 70% of my goals is good enough for me.  Even though I didn't check in with my written goals as often as I probably should have, I did find that just having these goals tucked in the back of my mind helped me make more progress than if I had made no specific goals at all.

So, will I make goals again this year?  Yes, I think I will.  Stay tuned next week for those!

How did you do at your 2019 goals?

What I Read | First Quarter 2019

When I set my reading goals for this year, I only had one goal.  I told myself I wouldn't buy any books this year - I would only read the books from my unread shelf.

I only have one word for how it's going: ha!

In my defense, I've bought almost all my new books with a gift card I had, so technically I am counting them as gift books and still attempting to limit the amount of books I buy.  I have not, however, been limiting library books very well, so my totals are not very satisfying this quarter.

Books I Read: 16
Books I Bought: 10 (ugh!)
Books Off My Unread Shelf: 5

I lost ground.

However, checking in here reminds me that I really need to get back to reading just the books I own, so I'm going to try!

Without further ado, here's what I've read so far in 2019.  You can click the links to read more thorough reviews on Goodreads.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Calahan - I am glad I read it, because it is interesting to know more about C.S. Lewis and his wife, but it didn't exactly endear Joy Davidman to my heart.  Also, too much quivering for my taste.

Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson - Enjoyed the book recommendations in this book, and decided I will not read another book by Sarah Clarkson if I can help it.  I just don't want to know what I'll do if I read about how she studied at Oxford one more time.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery - This book really can't be described by any word better than "delightful".  I loved it.  It was outlandish, it made me laugh, it made me love Montgomery more.  If you like broody classics, this is not one.

Three Wishes by Lianne Moriarty - Moriarty's books are like really fattening candy - not good for you, a little embarrassing, but great as an occasional mindless stress-reliever.  That's about how I felt about this one.  It's not my favorite of hers, but I needed something light.

Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown - I liked the hero, I'm glad I read it, I'm a little embarrassed to have enjoyed it so much, and I wouldn't really recommend it.  How's that for an opinion? It was just very violent and crude.  Very.

A Man Called One by Fredrik Backman - I wouldn't necessarily say I think it deserved the level of hype it received, but it was alright.  I typically like grump-character-finds-true-friendship stories, so I enjoyed it.

Micro by Michael Crighton - If it weren't for some briefly described and unnecessary nudity toward the end, I'd give this an unreserved thumbs up.  It's like a fusion of Jurassic Park and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and read exactly like an action movie would if it were really a book.

Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos - Not a huge fan.  I did enjoy the quirky humor, but I wanted more from this book.  I think some opportunities to touch on some really meaningful themes were missed.  Also, way too much ridiculous political opining for a kids book.

The Giver by Louis Lowry - Badly miscategorized as a middle-grade novel, in my opinion.  But I thought it was great, reading as an adult.  I don't think kids, even teenagers, would get nearly as much out of this as an adult would.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt - I loved it so much, go read it right now!  I'm a huge Schmidt fan.  If you need an entry point to good middle grade books, you should read something by Schmidt (except not Orbiting Jupiter, because I think that one is pretty sad - start with his more quirky, fun books first).

Voyage With The Vikings (Imagination Station #1) - I read this to the kids for fun, and it is the first read-aloud we've read so far where my oldest was actually begging me to read another chapter.  Wyatt has read the next book in the series now, all by himself, so if you need something that will get your kid into chapter books, this may be a place to start.  Wyatt is such a science kid, it was fun to see him getting excited about history-related topics for once!

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore - Derek and I read half of this together on vacation last year, and then he tapped out, so I finally got around to finishing it by myself.  If you don't like medical dramas, you might not like this one, but I am all about medical and courtroom stories, so this was right up my ally.  The history and personal stories of these girls were so tragic and fascinating.

The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair - I picked this up for inspiration on reining in my social media habits - it worked.  But I only really liked this first half of the book.  The second half would be helpful to naive parents of teenagers, but was just disturbing to me as someone who is neither a parent of teenagers nor naive.

America's First Daughter by Stephenie Dray - This was my book club's recent pick, and it was quite good overall.  It made an amazing audiobook on 1.5x speed.  I HATED the main character's casual thought of using abortifacient herbs though, and wonder if the author was making this up (about a historical figure, no less) to make a modern pro-abortion point.  Which if she was, that actually makes me angry.

My goals for the next three months:

Read more books on my unread shelf!

Read more books that will make it in my "Top Books Of 2019" list.  I want a nice long list of strong books to recommend to you at the end of the year - the only ones from this quarter that I see making the cut would be The Blue Castle, Radium Girls, and Pay Attention, Carter Jones.

What are your favorite books from the year so far?

Currently | January 2019

Are you one of those people who complain every time it snows in the winter?  Because I am so not one of those people.  I just don't quite understand how you could not want it to snow in the winter.  You could have brown ugliness, or you could have this!

I think I can rest my case.

Borrowing the prompts here this time around, I'm currently...

Choosing...things for the house.  The renovation is back in full swing.  Derek is planning on finishing up the kitchen details this weekend, and then the master bathroom is next on the list. I'm trying to make decisions about bathroom tile, and vanities, and decorative items, and which chair to buy for the corner of the living room to tie everything together.  Also, have I shown you this flower box thing we have in our living room?

I have it filled with a garland leftover from Christmas at the moment, but I'm trying to decide what to do with it long term.  We could tile it over and make it a plain old ledge, or I could try to get creative and think of something cool to fill it.  Since I have a black thumb, actual plants are out of the question.  What would you put in here?  I'm tinkering with the idea of a fake succulent garden, but I haven't found quite the right thing yet.

Tidying...nothing.  Everyone is experiencing a bout of house-tidying madness after Marie Kondo's Netflix special, and I'm over here actively avoiding starting any tidying projects.  My life over the last several months has been so not normal, between church issues and moving and renovating and Christmas - I just don't think I can bear to put anything else into upheaval.  So I'm hunkering down with my piles of stuff, and I'm liking it, thank you very much.  I'll tidy in the spring, when my bathroom floor is no longer bare plywood. unread shelf.  One of my goals for the year is to refrain from buying any new books, and to read and/or make a decision on whether to read the books that I own and haven't yet read.  There are a lot.  I'm just warning you now.  In reality, clearing my unread shelf will be a multi-year project, but I'd like to get through at least half of my books this year.  Go look at my unread books on Goodreads, and tell me if you've read any of these and what you thought!  You can help me know what to read and what to gift to my local Goodwill. (Also, why can't you give away ebooks?  This should be a thing.). actually follow through on my goal of going one week a month sugar-free.  I attempted to go sugar free the first week of January, and also the second week of January.  After succumbing to stress-induced candy heart cravings, I decided the third week in January was not going to be a winner either.  It's just been stressful, okay!  I think I'll make next week the official no-sugar week.  I'm doing so great on my New Year's goals, huh? style a little bit.  I've had a limited selection of things that have fit me over the last year because of baby weight, and I realized that my style identity has suffered some as a result.  I'm not really sure anymore what items in my closet are things that I feel good in, and which things need to be updated and refreshed.  I would like to shop my closet and figure out which things still feel like "me", and which things should go.

That sounds suspiciously like tidying, doesn't it?  But hopefully a little less chaotic and a little more fun.

What are you all up to this January?

Sharpening My Goal-Making Skills (2019 Goals)

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions (if you've been around here for any length of time, you probably remember this).  I've tried the word-of-the-year thing, I've made reading goals, but New Year's resolutions?  Not so much.

However, when I was thinking about 2019 on New Year's Eve, I also realized that for almost every year for eight years, I've had something related to babies to look forward to.  Either the hope of a baby, or a due date, or a first birthday.  This is the first year I have nothing baby-related in my future (as far as I know, ha!).

When you have a new baby on the way, that is your New Year's goal - "have the baby".  When you have the new baby in your arms the New Year's goal is "get some snuggles and sleep".  Nothing else is quite as important as that.

But without those things automatically on my goal list this year, I am feeling the void.  So I thought it was probably time I brushed off my resolution game so this year doesn't pass me by with nothing fun or meaningful being accomplished.

So here are my goals for the year.  I haven't made goals like this in so long, and I'm fairly worried that I'll just fail right out of the gate, but I'm going to give it a go!

Spiritual - Memorize the book of Hebrews.  I have been wanting to do this for years, and now that I've finally got a tentative morning routine established, I have a consistent time to work on this each day.  I've done some slight brushing up on Hebrews already and was pleased to discover that I still have Hebrews 1 and 2 solidly in my memory bank.  So I'm starting with chapter 3.  That means I have 11 chapters to memorize in 2019 - one a month, and break for December.  I feel like this is completely doable if I focus!

Marriage - One note per month.  I really struggle with making goals for my marriage.  We have a pretty good relationship overall, and I can't add in things like "go on a date every month", because...five kids.  I can't say something like "do something nice for Derek" because that's too vague and I'll forget to do something specific.  So I think I'm going to try to write him a little surprise note and leave it somewhere each month for him to find.  Just something fun to keep him guessing.

Motherhood -  Document my children better. One thing that I regret in my motherhood journey so far is my lack of documentation of the specific cute things my kids say and do, and my lack of printing out the pictures I take of them.  I had an inspiration the other day about how I could be more consistent in recording cute things my kids say and getting their pictures printed at the same time.  It involves Chatbooks.  I might share more in a separate post once I get all the kinks ironed out, but I'm excited about it.  My goal here is to take one picture of each kid per week, as well as write down one thing they say and/or answer one question for each kid per week.

Health - Go sugar-free one week each month.  Ideally I'd like to get a gym membership back.  We had to let our membership expire in the summer for lack of funds, and I miss going to the gym.  However, even if I did have the gym, I know that I should also improve my eating habits - I drink too much sugared coffee and eat too much sugar.   So for at least the first week of each month I'd like to go sugar-free, just to give my sweet tooth and insulin production a break.

Reading - Participate in the unread shelf project.  I counted up the amount of books I own that I haven't read, and the number is a bit staggering.  I'm embarrassed even to type it here.  In my defense, these were mostly Kindle books that I bought for a dollar, collected over several years.  But still - I should read some of those!  So I'm going to attempt to buy no more books in 2019, and only read books from my unread shelf.  I will allow myself one library book each month, and book purchases at our library sale in the summer.  I'm also allowed to ask for books as gifts.

Blog - Try some routines.  I'd just like to add a little routine back to my blog life.  The posts I'd like to try to incorporate on a monthly basis are:

-Monthly recap/goal update post (this will make next year's blog recap so much easier to put together).
-Monthly summary of what I read.
-Monthly "currently" post.

These mini blog goals may or may not happen.  I have to give myself a lot of grace when it comes to the blog so it stays enjoyable and doesn't become a chore.  But I do think it would be fun if I could be more consistent with these types of posts!  They are fun to write, and, I think, fun to read.

Financial - Save $1000.  Bekah turned me on to this handy savings chart that is totally doable.  I would like to save $1000 for the next few years so I either could 1) get Derek better Christmas presents, or 2) save all the money and surprise him with something really good for his 40th birthday in a few years!

Everything is written down in my bullet journal, so it's official.  I'll try to post at the end of January to let you know how it's going!

Do you make New Year's goals?  What is on your to-do list this year?

On The New Year And Pajamas. Yes, Pajamas.

Let's start out this week's old fashioned blogging with a confession, shall we?

Here's My New Year's Confession

I'm kind of over the whole pick-a-word-for-the-year thing.  

For the last few years I've jumped on the bandwagon and picked a word that I want to focus on for the year, and I really enjoyed it.  I latched onto the idea originally because I love the idea of picking one thing to focus on during the year instead of making resolutions.  I've never been a resolution-making type person, and the few times I tried it didn't go so well.  Picking one over-arching goal for the year is much easier to maintain than making a list of ten goals that I've already failed at by February.  

For the monthly goals that I shared on the blog for this last year, I picked only one area to focus on instead of regaling you with a list of goals that I can cross off.  It was so much more manageable and less stressful that way.  I put a lot of internal pressure on myself to meet "goals".  I am more likely to succeed without crying when I focus on one thing. 

So it's not the whole concept that I'm rejecting this year - the part I'm over is the "one word" part.  And really for no deeper reason than sometimes I feel the inexplicable need to fight back against whatever is trendy. (In ideas, not in clothes.  Obviously.  I participate far too often in clothing trends.)

This year, I'm not picking a "word", but I am making one goal.  Or rather "focus".  I like that word better because New Year's goals and resolutions are so often made and broken, but it's easier to keep a focus.  If you lose it, you can shift right back.  When you fail at a goal that has a timeline or specific perimeters, you fail for good.

You'll have to read to the end if you want to know what my goal is! *winky face* (I feel weird typing that out because I like to express myself in words, but sometimes you just need an emoji.)

More New Year's Thoughts

(My #bestsixteen from 2016.  I'm making #bestsixteen a thing, because it just seems appropriate, and also I couldn't pick just nine.)

Okay, I can't help myself, let's just talk a little bit more about resolutions.  I want to know, have any of you ever made a lasting change in your life that started as a New Year's resolution?  I'm not trying to make a point, I just really want to know.

I actually haven't, but I also don't make resolutions often.

Whenever I look back and think of ways that I or my habits have changed, it usually happens in one of two ways.  The first type is change that comes gradually and unintentionally, because in some ways our experiences shape who we become.  I don't think they have to or should define who you become, but at the same, they do make a difference for good or for ill.  

And I know all your minds are going to tragic or bad experiences, but I'm not just talking about bad experiences.  I was pretty insecure in high school and in some ways even in college, but I grew up and found better friends and gained life experience, and I feel comfortable in most social situations now.  I used to think I knew everything (without even realizing I thought that), but motherhood has cured a large portion of that ailment.  Just regular life and the passage of time has a way of changing and growing you, and fairly often for the better (though sometimes for the worse too, let's be honest).

The second type of situation that has led to change in my life is when a bad habit got to the point that I was truly grieved by it.  I can think of three specific times (one even fairly recently), when the veil dropped and I could see that if I didn't redirect, I wasn't going to like where this path took me.  And I actually credit that to the Holy Spirit opening my eyes and convicting my heart of the sinful attitude behind those bad habits.  When He made it so clear, I didn't really have a choice but to turn around unless I wanted to be rebelling against God (and that is not a place you want to be), so I asked for help and God is the One who helped me to change direction.  

Those moments have never actually happened around New Year's for me.  Not saying they couldn't, though!

On To New Pajamas

Well, that got a little heavy, didn't it?  Here this is supposed to be the fun post of the week and I get all serious on you.  I always get a little reflective this time of year, but let's shift gears and reflect now on pajamas.

When I was pregnant with Clarice I made a commitment not to wear gross pajamas anymore.

I was in a nesting phase, and I was cleaning out my pajama drawer, and I realized how many sub-par pajamas I owned.  Why?  Why did I still have these?  I put them on to test them out.  I didn't feel attractive.  It was like instant frump.  Because I don't know if you've noticed, but after about six months, pajamas start to get those little fuzzy pills on them.  Or toothpaste stains.  Or the material starts to thin.  Why was I doing this to myself?  Why was I doing this to my husband?

So I cleaned out 95% of my pajama drawer (keeping a few staples that weren't in bad shape), and I went straight out and bought cute pajamas.  I determined right then that every six months or so, I would ditch the pilled pajamas and buy another set.  Out with the old and in with the new.

I've kept on pretty well.  Over time, when I realize that the old t-shirts and sweatpants have made it back into the rotation, I make a trip to the store (though I have to admit, I still need to purge a few of the old-new pairs again).  This month was pajama switch-up month for me, and right after Christmas I went on a hunt for new pajamas.

I really wanted this sleep romper in buffalo plaid, because oh my goodness, so cute.  They don't even look like pajamas!  I checked all over though and couldn't find them, so I ended up with these two instead:

Black sleep romper - I have never slept in a romper before, so I'll let you know how it is.  I don't do nightgowns because I hate how they get all tangled up around my waist, so I hope that it isn't a problem with this.

Pretty night shirt - I got this in a black and grey color.  This may look like a nightgown, but it's short enough (on me anyway) to qualify as a tunic, which wears like a long shirt.  No tangling problems, and I love how this one has a dip back and support built in.  It's really comfy.  I wear it with leggings.

Cute, right?  No frumpy pajamas, there is a resolution for you right there.

My Real Hope For The Year

I read a New Year's post recently that focused on "hopes" for the New Year, and I really liked that.  I like thinking about what I hope for the New Year instead of what I'm going to muscle my way into happening, because what do we really know about what will happen this year?  

In my latest post on Tommy Nelson (which if you have a minute you could share from their page, because that makes me look good - where is my winky face emoji?), I talked a little more about how to not be so stringent in picking goals for the year.  This verse came to mind.  God knows what will happen this year, and we...we really don't.  We can make our plans, but I like hoping better, because even that word feels like an expectation, a looking ahead to see not what I want to make happen, but what God will do.

So my hope for the New Year is that I can be a person who makes those around me feel seen - and maybe even known.

I read a book last January that I have been recommending like crazy, I'm Happy For You by Kay Wills Wyma, and in it she tells a short story of a fast food person who always remembers her kids' orders.  Her kids couldn't stop talking about how nice that fast food guy was, and how amazing it was that he remembered their order.  And it's true, isn't it, how much something small, like remembering to put extra rice in a burrito, can give that feeling that we are known, that we belong somewhere. 

"Is community with humans, as in interpersonal relationship and communication, the key to genuinely meeting our need to belong?...Practically speaking, yes.  Even small, seemingly insignificant but deeply meaningful interaction fills voids."

Isn't that good?  That story from the book stuck with me, because I want to be that person.  I want to be the kind of person that really sees those around me.  Who remembers them when they feel like no one knows their name.  Who sees that they are struggling, and doesn't just click the sad face on their Facebook status but reaches out to help.  Who remembers the little details about someone's life or preferences, so they don't have to tell me twice.  The type of person who makes other people feel like they are someone worth knowing.

That starts at home with Derek and the kids first, and then I hope I can stretch that out to those in my immediate circle. Because this Sunday, and on so many other days, other people did that for me.  

My mom and sister made sure I sat with them at church since Derek was home sick.  A girl from MOPS who I don't know that well, but would like to know better, looked me in the face and greeted me by name.  A sweet lady at church stretched over the coffee bar counter and gave me a hug.

It feels good to feel like you belong.  And in 2017, I want to do that for someone too.

Old-School Blogger Shoutout

Speaking of making other people feel like they belong - this week I wanted to share two bloggers that have done the blogging equivalent of that for me.  I've read both of these blogs for a while (when I've made the time), and not only do they share great real-life posts, but they never fail to return the comment and make me feel like we are friends - even when I haven't commented on their blog in six months.  And I'm clearly not the only one who is made to feel like I belong by these ladies, because check out their comment sections. They get more comments than most, and their comments sections would be a great place to start if you are looking to find active old-school bloggers!

So without further ado,

Michelle from Mich Mash - Michelle is pretty much hilarious to me.  One of my favorite blogs to read.

Erin from Love, Fun, And Football - Another favorite to read because she seems to keep the personal touch in every post!

(Also check out my shoutouts from last week, because I feel like not a lot of blog reading was going on two days after Christmas.)


That's what I have.  So do you make resolutions, or "hopes", or pick a word?  This is the week for talking about it, is it not?  What are your thoughts?

What I'm Drinking: Coffee.  Black.  I haven't caught up from our Rogue One date night and New Year's Eve yet. (Okay, if I'm being honest, I might put in a pump of white mocha too if Derek lets me steal some of his syrup!)

3 Ways I'm Preparing For Christmas Before Thanksgiving

Last year in December I literally broke down crying, wishing Christmas would just be over already.

I don't think I've ever been such a "scrooge" in my life, but I was behind on all things Christmas, and all of our weekends and evenings were booked solid so I had no time to catch up.  On top of that I had a new baby and a touch of postpartum depression, and I just wanted life to feel normal for one day (which is pretty much impossible in December, at least around here).  The whole thing left me trudging through the holiday festivities with little to no Christmas spirit.

Most years aren't quite that bad, but over the last few years I have realized that Christmas can be downright stressful and un-fun for adults - in particular for moms.  At least in our family, almost all Christmas prep falls to me, and if I don't get on top of it the whole holiday feels like a chore to cross off my list instead of the sweet celebration of Christ's birth that it's meant to be.  

That's just sad.

So this year, I have been determined to get ahead of the Christmas to-do's well in advance so that when December rolls around I can hopefully just sit back and enjoy it all - and maybe have enough room to breath and reflect on the why of the celebration in the first place, which is the gift of our Savior!

Some things, like baking, obviously have to wait until December, but I have three things I would like to have accomplished before Thanksgiving this year.

1. Buy and wrap all Christmas gifts.  

There is a part of me that wants to save some wrapping for the actual Christmas season, but I am reminding myself that there are a lot of other Christmas activities that I never seem to have time for.  Things like making a gingerbread house with the kids, making hand-made ornaments to give to grandparents, or sitting down for a bunch of read-aloud Christmas books.  Do I really need to save shopping and wrapping for December to get into the Christmas spirit?  I think not.

2. Get Christmas cards ready to mail.  

I already have our Christmas card picture, and I am just waiting for VistaPrint's 50% Christmas card sale to pull the trigger on printing.  The goal is to get the cards ordered and addressed and stamped before Thanksgiving so I can just drop them in the mailbox on Black Friday and (hopefully) wait for the obligatory reciprocal Christmas card mail to roll in. (Hint: PLEASE SEND ME CHRISTMAS CARDS! They really make my day.)

3. Iron out any kinks in our Christmas budget.  

One of the major stress factors for me at Christmas time is the fear of going over budget, and I am determined not to let that happen this year.  I came up with a preliminary Christmas budget already, and since I have already started shopping I know there are a few little budget kinks to iron out.  As I get the rest of my shopping done I want to adjust the budget as necessary, think through our obligations, and set aside the money I will need for extra Christmas expenses.  My hope is that at the end of all this planning, December will feel like any other month financially.

A perk of all this early Christmas planning is that it is actually giving me a little early dose of the Christmas merriment that I was so desperately missing last year.  It's hard to feel the joy of the season when you are stressed with a load of obligations, and taking some of those away by getting a good head start has made me start to look forward to Christmas earlier than I usually do.  When the season gets here I'll have less stress and really be able to enjoy the goodwill and peace of the Christmas season, celebrating Christ's birth!  

My only question now is why did I not start planning Christmas in October years ago?

Do you start Christmas early, or are you a procrastinator?  What is your Christmas strategy?



Time for With Grit & Grace!  Link up with YOUR goals for November below!

Welcome to With Grit & Grace  – a monthly goal link-up focused on supporting each other as we work towards our goals! Please join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 a.m. EST to share your goals and progress for the week, month, or year. We are all about building a positive community; please remember to read, comment, and share the posts of others – and let them know you found them at With Grit & Grace!
Just a reminder…

  • All forms of goal posts are welcome. They can be for a specific area in your life, or your general goals for the day, week, month, or year. We love to hear updates on your progress, too.
  • Make sure to use the URL specific to your post and not your blog’s home page.
  • Link back to With Grit & Grace with our button or link in your post or party page.
  • Comment on the post prior to yours in the link-up. Support others through comments and shares – don’t forget to tell them you found them at With Grit & Grace.
  • By linking up, you give us permission to feature an image on our blog and social media. Proper credit and links will be given.
  • Join in on social media with: #withgritandgrace.
  • We want to support you! Please follow your hosts in some way.
    -Keri at Living In This Season
    -Emily at Morning Motivated Mom
    -Christina at Waltzing In Beauty
    -Callie (me!) at Through Clouded Glass

When Your Marriage Needs A Little TLC (With Grit & Grace)

(One of my favorite pictures ever of Derek and me, taken at our maternity session with Clarice.  Derek thought the pose was awkward, so he stuck his nose into my cheek and sniffed, which made me crack up laughing.  We are that couple.  Also, you see where Clarice gets her nose-scrunching.)

Last week I admitted that I watch the Bachelor, and I told you the main reason why.  Do you want to know one of the secondary reasons? All that ooshy-gooshy stuff reminds me of the days when Derek and I were the ones with the shining eyes that go along with young love.

Three Goal-Filtering Questions (With Grit & Grace Linkup)

Do any of you use a filter for your goals?  

In recent years, I have become a bit too ambitious with my goals.  I have all these big plans and before you know it I have set so many goals that I barely have time to breathe, I get overwhelmed, and I end up becoming stress-paralyzed (it really is a thing)!  

For me, I have found that it is better to focus on one or two goals at a time, instead of creating a big list of goals that will paralyze me into not even accomplishing the easy things.  Because when I get stress-paralyzed, my default is plopping on the couch with whipped-creamed coffee and Netflix and binge-watch the afternoon away while that kids nap and/or play (surely I can’t be the only one?).

If I were to create an expansive list of goals with four young kids at home I would be setting myself up for failure!  At this life stage there are a few questions I need to ask before setting goals, to filter out the ones that are stress-paralyzers.

Is this going to add too much pressure to my life?  
Some pressure can be good, but I tend to put too much pressure on myself to meet expectations (real or imagined) of other people, and adding my own expectations to the list doesn’t help matters.  If a goal is too big, or if it’s going to add too much stress, I need to at the very least cut it down into manageable chunks. 

Is this goal going to take away time from my family?  

I am smack-dab in the middle of the formative years with my kids, and I have to fight the urge to make myself too busy.  If a project or goal is going to take time away from my kids, I need to carefully consider it before committing.  I want to protect that extra time to read a book to my kids or take a spontaneous trip to the park without being stressed out about my to-do list.

Is this goal complicating or simplifying?  

My word for 2015 was “simplify”, and this is something that I want to continue to work on in 2016.  In this season of my life I am realizing that margin is really important.  I want to have that space to not only be there for my family, but just to rest.  When I don’t have rest, it is not good for my mental state, and it also damages my relationship with the Lord because my quiet time is typically the first thing I drop (sad, but true).  That is not okay, so protecting and working toward that margin is important in my goals.

Because I am trying to be really careful and intentional with my goals this year, I was excited about the opportunity to co-host a goals linkup with some of my blog friends!  How does this linkup fit in with the filtering questions I listed above?  I think spending a little time reflecting at the start of each month will naturally help me be more careful with my goals, evaluate the pressures from myself and others, and figure out what things need to improve and what things need to take a backseat so that I can leave room for that margin.

So what is my one and only goal for February?

I want to develop an intentional daily routine.

I’m not going to lie, some days it’s all I can do around here to keep this house from descending into utter chaos!  Part of that is just life with four kids under five years old (only for another week - my baby is about to turn five!).  But part of the chaos is due to the fact that every day looks entirely different.  Some days we sleep in, and some days I’m up at 5:00 AM.  Some days the kids get a nap, and some days they don’t.  Some times we manage a craft project, and some days we watch TV all day (I’m being brutally honest now).  

I think our lives will be a lot more orderly and productive if I can develop a routine.  Notice I did not say a schedule.  If I try to keep a strict schedule, not only will I fail, but I will totally stress myself out (a violation of the first goal filter listed above).  By "routine", I mean that I want to have an order of things we will do each day, and stick to it. as much as possible  The times may be different, and we may have to rearrange a few things sometimes, but a little structure would be good for all of us.  This is what I am thinking our routine will include:

-Getting up to do my devotions before the kids come looking for me in the morning.  (If I don’t do devotions in the morning, I’ve found it doesn’t get done - and time with the Lord is too important to be as sporadic as I have let it become.)

-School work and/or craft each day before lunch.  (This will be good practice for consistency since Wyatt will start kindergarten at home next fall.)

-Nap/quiet time for the kids in afternoon, during which I will take time to write at least twice a week. (I need to force myself to get a little writing time in so I don’t stress and squeeze out my margin when I have a deadline looming!)

-Start dinner as soon as the kids get up from their naps. (As opposed to five minutes before or after Derek walks through the door.)

I am hoping by the time we do another With Grit and Grace linkup, I will be able to report a typical “day in the life” to you, because there will actually be a typical day!

What kind of “filter questions” do you use for your goals?  Do you have a consistent daily routine?

And finally, whip up your own February goal(s) in the next week or two and link them up below, Friends!  I’d love to read about what you want to work on! 


Welcome to With Grit & Grace  – a monthly goal link-up focused on supporting each other as we work towards our goals! Please join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 a.m. EST to share your goals and progress for the week, month, or year. We are all about building a positive community; please remember to read, comment, and share the posts of others – and let them know you found them at With Grit & Grace!
Just a reminder…
  • All forms of goal posts are welcome. They can be for a specific area in your life, or your general goals for the day, week, month, or year. We love to hear updates on your progress, too.
  • Make sure to use the URL specific to your post and not your blog’s home page.
  • Link back to With Grit & Grace with our button or link in your post or party page.
  • Comment on the post prior to yours in the link-up. Support others through comments and shares – don’t forget to tell them you found them at With Grit & Grace.
  • By linking up, you give us permission to feature an image on our blog and social media. Proper credit and links will be given.
  • Join in on social media with: #withgritandgrace.
  • We want to support you! Please follow your hosts in some way.

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