Monday, January 8, 2018

Seventeen in '17 Update: It's Been a (LONG) While

Whoa.  It has been forever since I last wrote about my Seventeen in '17 goals.  What can I say?  2017 was a crazy, pretty crappy year, and a lot of things fell by the wayside when life took all its twists and turns.  I'll get to what that cryptic, not very well-written sentence meant in a bit.  But we're here for the list, right?  Here is where I ended up:

1.)  Finish Amalia's room redo. - Got it done in February!  And Mollie has even switched out the artwork a couple times to make it legit.  Check!

2.)  Exercise at least five days a week. - This was a maintenance goal, and I was successful with this to varying degrees throughout the year.  The big win here, though, came in late August/early September.  For our anniversary, Bryson and I splurged a little and bought a rowing machine!  As it turns out, rowing is a perfect form of exercise for me: it works out the whole body at once, it is very active, it is low-impact (while the rest of me loved running, my feet did not), and it is pretty quiet so I can exercise while people are sleeping.  So, while I have not exercised in a little while because the rowing machine got moved upstairs to make room for our Christmas tree, I know that I have an awesome exercise routine to get back to once the living room gets back to normal.  Yay!

3.)  Clean off my desk and maintain it. - Nope.  So. Much. Nope.  There were a couple times this year when it got all cleaned off, but at least one of those times was a false victory; there is a box full of papers in the basement just waiting to be gone through.  Paper clutter is definitely my downfall, and I am hoping to finally figure out just how to tame this beast this year.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

4.)  Get the unfinished side of the basement into a usable state. - I know it doesn't look like it, but I did make some headway here.  

This spot used to be filled with boxes - mainly those from previous purchases - and one day I had had enough; I broke them all down and got them into the recycle bin.  So now we have a walkway where there once was none, and for that I am grateful.  I also got rid of some Christmas decorations I was no longer using (actually getting rid of an entire Rubbermaid-tub's worth), donated almost all of the bears I used to collect when I was younger (and as someone who has trouble parting with things with any emotion attached to them, this was a HUGE deal), and started a tub for scouting (girl and cub) memorabilia so we no longer have random boats, cars, and uniforms lying about.  Is it a "usable state"?  Not exactly.  But it is a lot better, at least from where I am sitting, so I can be happy with that.

5.)  Make/get the kids Traveler's Notebooks. - I did this one!!  I really wanted to make them fabric covers, but in the end the time just wasn't there.  So, for her birthday, Mollie got a passport-sized orange (her favorite color at the time) leather cover with some credit card inserts for pictures and whatnot.  She is able to carry it in her purse and actually uses it as her wallet most of the time.  Later on in the year, though, the kids wanted to participate in an online challenge with me, and I ended up getting them some standard size TN covers from Michaels and making them inserts to go with them.  So that's a win!  Ah, woo hoo!

6.)  Stop eating by 9:30 p.m. - I was doing a halfway decent job of this - or at least I was actually tracking it for part of the year - but during the summer, with the kids going to bed later than usual, this became nearly impossible.  And then I kind of forgot about it.  In the end, I am not sure this is exactly the goal I was going for; I think this year I am going to try to eat more healthfully if I choose to do so after 8:00 p.m.  We'll see how that goes.

7.)  Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. - I have struggled with this one a lot this year.  There were times, usually while on vacation, where this was not a problem; I would get to sleep at a reasonable hour and then sleep in as needed.  But for most of the year this was an issue; I am a night owl by nature but I like to have some alone time in the morning before the kids get up, and those two things just don't add up to getting enough sleep.  It's important to me that I get more sleep, though, so I am going to keep trying new tactics to get me more shuteye.

8.)  Write at least five blog posts per month. - This one is actually laughable.  2017 was tied with 2015 for the fewest blog posts written; there were so many reasons why, but it mostly boiled down to 2017 feeling like an out-of-control type of year.  The state of affairs in our nation - with all the hatred and contention and unease permeating each and every day - and what appears to have been a complete loss of bearing with my ADD made for the perfect storm, and I didn't even write fifteen posts during the year.  I am hoping 2018 will be a more blog-heavy year, but I don't know that I want to set any expectations for myself.  We'll just see where the year takes us.

9.)  Keep the counter cleaned off. - This has, much like my desk, been a false victory a few times during the year.  The paper monsters in our house primarily inhabit my desk or the counter, so this has been an ongoing struggle, one that I hope to finally figure out this year.

10.)  Make our quilt. - Still a check, obviously.  And I believe I have managed to make our bed just about every day since the quilt made its way onto our bed.  Bonus win!

11.)  Find a new doctor. - I did it!  It became a little more urgent that I get this figured out when a cyst was discovered, and then, when it didn't go away on its own, I had to have surgery to make sure everything was okay.  (Which it is, for the most part.)  So, yay for a new doctor I love!!

12.)  Drink more water. - I did pretty well with this.  Like I wrote last time, it is a lot easier to accomplish this when I am exercising, but overall I did pretty well.  I started drinking Vitamin Water Zero, too, and that seems to have helped keep me hydrated.  It also, for whatever reason, encourages me to drink more regular water.  So I suppose that is a win.

13.)  Add recipes to repertoire. - *sigh*  2017 was a rather sad cooking year; I fell into a rut of basically making the same four or five meals every single week, and I believe my family was frustrated because of it.  But, when a year feels out-of-control, getting homemade, relatively healthy food on the table most days should be a win in-and-of itself, right?  Hopefully this year will be better.

14.)  Take more pictures. - I think I succeeded here!  We took a couple vacations, which are always picture-heavy, but having this as a goal also helped remind me to get my camera out more often.  Here are some (with a quick narration):
They often snuggle in the morning, and it's just my favorite. 

They both got roller skates this year, but I believe they have actually already outgrown them.  It was a rough go, too, but I am hoping this is not the last we'll see of the kids on skates.

Another, more undocumented, goal I had for the kids this year was to learn to use table knives so they can cut their own food.  We have primarily been sticking with Sunday pancakes, but it is going reasonably well.

Mollie, Elsa (her doll), and I went to a Girl Scout American Girl Sock Hop this spring, and it was a blast!

My girl on her birthday.

They even snuggled on our vacation to Florida.

That's where we saw this big guy!

It's also where Mollie developed a love for the guitar.

As always, the kids are huge fans of the water.

Baylor had a cool field trip to an historical village nearby.

And, for once, I was able to find boy-girl t-shirts for the kids to wear together!!  Thank you, Lands End!

Mollie really came into her own with her fashion sense this year.  Knee-high socks were very popular with her (the ones featured in this outfit look like ice cream cones), and she enjoys a bit of jewelry.  Also, this is an old dress of mine from when I was a kid!

We went to the beach in Ferrysburg, and the water was so clear it looked like his little boat was floating in midair.

We took a trip to the zoo with our Girl Scout Troop and, for once, the lynx was awake.

I forget what this was a picture for, but they just looked so sweet.

This little guy crawled into our yard this spring.  He was adorable, and I may have named him Shelldon Lewis Clark.

Mollie's beloved Sleep Sheep was really starting to show her age this year, and the thought of her favorite stuffed animal falling apart had Mollie incredibly upset.  After a crazy search, we managed to find another Sleep Sheep!  It was pretty shocking to see what love and snuggling can do to a stuffed animal over the course of about seven years.

The kids were so ready for the last day of school!

Mollie has started helping out a lot in the kitchen, and over the summer she got really good at making spinach salads.

The kids were excited to take a couple of art classes over the summer.

And our walks through the neighborhood almost always included a little hand-holding.  I love how they love (and like) each other.

We went fishing with Baylor's Cub Scout Pack, and he caught a fish!

While my parents were away, I was in charge of taking care of the house and pool.  So, of course, I was the lucky one to find out that some bats had moved into an eave of their roof.  In effort to figure out where they were going in and out and how many there were, the kids and I camped out by the pool late in the evening to watch for the bats.  It was quite a show ... and quite a while until they came out!

15.)  Do something each week to support a cause I believe in. - I started off strong with this one, but the onslaught of madness coming out of Washington this year was unreal, and I'll admit, it became a bit much for me to keep up with.  It was all I could do to stay current with the news and not get depressed at the state of our Union. 

16.)  Keep a gratitude log. - This was, hands down, the goal I stuck to the best!  Each night I wrote or drew something I was grateful for that day, and it was something I truly looked forward to.

April's gratitude page had some wonderful highs and the saddest of lows.  We started out the month vacationing in Florida, but soon after we got home we found out my beloved aunt was going to lose her battle with cancer.  My mom flew out as quickly as she could, and my sister and I left a day or two later.  Doing my gratitude journal each night became more of a buoy to cling to as the grief crept up around us; it took a lot more looking to find things to be grateful for, but I knew keeping with it was incredibly important.  It didn't ... couldn't change the outcome and it can't even come close to mending how much I miss her, but it kept sadness from swallowing me whole and that's all you can really ask for out of a piece of paper and some markers.

July was the only month I truly slacked off on, but, I swear, I had a good reason!  We took a family road trip out east, and, as it turns out, when you sleep in the same hotel room with your kids you don't have much any time after they go to bed to reflect on the day.  I was able to document a few things, but ultimately I had to let it go for the remainder of our trip.

It was a great year with my gratitude log, and honestly it was a great year with my planner as a whole.  I felt ever-so-slightly more in control of things, at least externally, and may have managed to get a little more done.  (Like the picture below ... I had surgery, as I mentioned earlier, and the weekend before it I tackled a crazy long to-do list.  I didn't finish everything, but I got way more done than I would have if it hadn't been there in my planner.)  Here's hoping this year is even better!

17.)  Teach Baylor and Amalia how to catch and throw. - During the summer I worked on this with the kiddos and was pretty much ready to cross this one off.  But, now not having practiced it at all for months, I am not sure the skill was retained.  We'll just have to keep trying!

And that's it!  I don't think I will be doing an eighteen in '18 this year; last year showed me that that is a bit much for me to handle.  But I do have some goals and a couple roll-overs from last year's list, and those combined with everyday life should keep me busy enough.

So how was your 2017?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Back to School: Breakfast Time!

I'll admit: this is a weird post to start with since I haven't written anything all summer in forever.  But as I was making my kids' breakfasts this morning I started thinking about how their swim coaches (they were on a swim team again this last summer) reacted when they said what they ate every morning.  The coaches would go down the line and ask each swimmer questions, like "who is your favorite Star Wars character" or "what did you do this weekend".  On more than one morning, they asked the kids what they had for breakfast; often times the kids would answer "cereal" or "pop tarts" or "pancakes".  Then there were my kids.

Nearly every day for breakfast this summer (and for a bulk of the school year last year - and all of the school year so far) the kids ate the same breakfast.  They are creatures of habit and like to know what to expect when it comes to food, among other things.  I always try to make sure they start the day out right with a filling breakfast because I know how important it is for them ... and because I hate it when they get "hangry".

Mollie's breakfast is a homemade oatmeal concoction I started making for Baylor years ago and seem to have finally gotten down to a science.  It has five main ingredients: quick oats, raisins, raw honey, ground cinnamon, and 1% milk.  I start by putting about 3/4 cup oatmeal into a bowl.  In a microwave-safe cup, I heat up some milk (I measured it out today at about 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup) for 45 seconds on high; if it isn't hot when I hold my hand over it, I will add another 10 seconds.

While the milk is heating, I sprinkle a decent amount of cinnamon over the oats.  This is largely based on personal preference.

Once the milk is hot, I pour some of it into the oats, usually just enough that I start seeing it puddle around the edges.  Hold on to the rest of the milk ... you're going to need that in a minute!

Then I take a soup spoon and dip it into our favorite raw honey, loading it up with as much honey as I can in one dip (not a scoop, mind you - that would be a lot of honey).  I'll use the spoon she's going to eat with to get all the honey I can off the soup spoon.

Next I add a little more milk and stir it all up, and it ends up looking like this:

Finally, I add raisins to the oatmeal.  This is about how much I put in Mollie's bowl; she basically won't eat a bite without a raisin in it, so I really go wild with the raisins for her.

Then, I stir them all in.  My kids like it when I poke all the raisins down into the oatmeal so they are no longer visible and then pretend like we ran out of raisins.  The better I sell it, the more they seem to enjoy it.  I don't really get it, but whatever works, right?!  I also usually add a little extra milk so it's kind of puddled; that way, when she takes forever to eat it it isn't nearly solid by the time she gets to the last of it.

Baylor's breakfast is much more simple; he eats a banana with peanut butter and a yogurt.  Lately we have been enjoying Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt; it's lower in sugar than a lot of other yogurts out there, and it doesn't have any added food coloring.  Plus, both kids have really enjoyed their flavor options.

Edit:  Since I started writing this post back in August, Baylor has also started eating oatmeal every day.  He likes his with way more cinnamon and not quite so much milk compared to his sister, but other than that they are basically the same.

And that's it!  The kids seem to enjoy their respective breakfasts, and it gets them through the morning pretty well.

I hope you have a great start to the school year!

* I have received no payment for endorsing any of these products.  We just really like this stuff and I think posts are more interesting with pictures.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

That's What They Said: Sweetness, New Vocabulary, and the Worst Dream EVER

Baylor:  (looking at me lovingly)  Mommy, I love you.
Me:  Bubba, I love you, too!
Baylor:  And I love your beautiful wavy hair.  (runs his hands over the top of my head)
Me:  Well, thank you, sweetie!
Baylor:  I like how it flops over one eye.
Me:  Thanks, bubbs.
Baylor:  (touches my forehead)  You have a nice ...
Me:  Forehead?
Baylor:  Yeah, forehead.  (cheerfully)  You could get a tattoo on it!
Me:  (laughing)  Okay.
Baylor:  (lovingly)  You could get a heart tattoo on your forehead.
Me:  Well, I'm not so sure Daddy would like that.
Baylor:  A HEART tattoo?
Me:  Even a heart tattoo.

(On a walk to the library, I was holding the kids hands, and - feeling a lot of love in the air - I lifted each one and gave it a kiss.)
Baylor:  (sweetly)  Mom, in the in-brain video game in my head, that kiss did a lot!  It boosted my love points and my experience points.
Me:  Awww, buddy!  You are so sweet!
Baylor:  I even leveled up!

Amalia:  Mom, I was listening to you and Baylor talking.
Me:  Yeah.
Amalia:  Yeah, I was ... wait, what was I doing?  Egg bursting?
Me: (thinking)  Eaves dropping?
Amalia:  Yeah!  Eaves dropping!  I'm going to call it egg bursting from now on, though.

(After hearing moaning from Amalia's room and then crying, she finally called me up using the saddest voice I have heard from her in a while.)
Amalia:  Mommy, I had the worst dream EVER.  (sobs)
Me:  (comforting her, remembering all the recent bad dreams she's had with bad guys breaking into our house)  Tell me about it, sweetie.
Amalia:  (crying)  I was at the beach or somewhere like that with some people and we went to get ice cream afterwards and I DIDN'T ORDER ANYTHING!!!  (sobs)
Me:  (desperately trying to stifle laughter building up inside me)  Ohh, sweetie!
Amalia:  (sobs and starts to roll over to go back to sleep)
Me:  (still trying to not laugh)  Okay, well why don't you have a dream and order some.
Amalia:  (sobbing)  I CAN'T!  They were already driving AWAY!!
Me:  Okay.  Then let's have a dream where you live in an ice cream store and can have all the ice cream you want.
Amalia:  (indignantly)  NO!
Me:  Okaaaay.  How 'bout, have a dream where you are with a thousand Sleep Sheep?
Amalia:  (indignantly)  NO!
Me:  Oooookaaaaaay.  Then just, have sweet dreams.  I love you, love you, love you.
(And, being my daughter, she promptly fell back asleep.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Last Day of School: First and Third Grades!

I honestly can't believe that today is the last day of school.  The last day of school for the year?!  As in, I will have a second grader and a FOURTH grader next school year?!  Unreal.

When selecting her "last day of school" outfit, Mollie hemmed and hawed over it for a while, ever-so-slightly upset with me for not having her favorite dress clean for the day.  I finally suggested that she could possibly wear the outfit she wore for the first day of school, and she LOVED that idea.

Baylor, on the other hand, knew exactly what he wanted to wear: comfy shorts and his current favorite t-shirt.

It's amazing how much they have grown this year, both in height and in character.  I am so proud of how they did this year, so thankful for the wonderful teachers and school staff that supported and fostered that growth, and so glad for the friendships they made along the way.

Mollie is slowly but surely gaining on her brother in terms of physical height, and she was excited to demonstrate that this morning with a tip-toes picture.

When asked to "pose" for a picture, this is what they think that means.  These two are ready for action!

The thing is, I don't think they are ready for the school year to be over.  Mollie accurately pointed out that they might cry after school lets out this year (I believe Baylor did last year as he got into the car on the last day of school, as well); they love their teachers and their school so much and are going to miss it during the summer.  I am grateful for their school and all the staff within who have made it such a wonderful place that my kids would miss it on summer break and look forward to going back in the fall.

Now, I need to go load a little Alice Cooper into the CD player of my minivan.  School's out for summer!