Thursday, January 17, 2019

19 in 2019

Last year I made an 18 in 2018 list and I really liked the practice of it, dreaming of what projects we could accomplish by the end of the year.  This feels easier than a resolution because they are usually very specific with an end goal.  I also like some motivation to get things done and crossing things off a list is always a good one for me.  I love spending the early part of the year dreaming and planning for what the next 12 months could bring.

BUT...Turns out, life had other plans last year.  Between getting a surprise baby early in the year and then Matt switching jobs which lead to a lot of unplanned overtime, we didn't have the time we thought we would last year for projects. 

In 2017 we knocked out refinishing the floors of 1/3 of our house; building a swingset in the backyard; completely repainting, including the wood trim to white, our bedroom; AND Matt built shelves for our front room.  So I thought we could definitely get the projects done in 2018.  NOPE. 

We finished 5½ of the 18 things on last year's list:

8) Finish Luke's swingset
This it the half, Matt put A LOT of time into the playhouse (might also be why many of the other things on the list didn't get done) and it's about 75% done but had to stop work for the winter.  It is fully usable (and Luke has spent hours playing out there already) but needs some finishing details. 

13) Frame canvases
"We" did this (I measured and did the painting, Matt did the cutting and assembly).
14) Bullet Journaling
I do this and have a post planned to talk about how I use it.  But I've had that post planned for 9 months...
16) Green Smoothies
We did make some green smoothies but aren't in a steady routine of having them.
17) Take Luke to Storytime
I took Luke for the first time the week before we got Sam.  Then we didn't go again for months but got back in a pretty steady routine of going in the summer, before Luke started kindergarten.  I hope to go many times over the summer.  And eventually take Sam regularly, when he's a little bigger.
18) Rework thread organization    
Did do this.

So even though the list was a bit of a failure, I still liked the practice of it.  I've just learned to dream a little smaller.  In many ways, we didn't have the 2018 we planned but also, the biggest reason (Sam) was a very good one!   For 2019 I'm being slightly more realistic, smaller projects, less involving Matt building things.  My word of the year is discipline and so some of those nagging tasks that need done are showing up here. 

Nagging Tasks
1) Renew passports
Ours are both expired but we are still in an easy renewal window.  This is largely finding the time to get the pictures taken.  And maybe not looking like we immediately need a tropical vacation in them.

2) Fill all the nail holes & paint
Matt built shelves for our front room over a year ago.  More than 6 months ago he built photo ledges for the kitchen.  Both projects displaced things that had hung on the wall with nails.  I have yet to fill and repaint those holes, along with various other ones around the house.  It'll take MAYBE 2 hours so I just need to do it.

3) Use some of our compost 
Matt built me a compost bin 8 years ago, even needing stitches from the project.  We are good about adding to the compost but we haven't used any of it.  We need to get better about mixing it, adding not just fruit peels/cores, and then actually use some of it.  

House Projects
4) Put hooks in the stairway
We don't have the space for a super organized mudroom or drop zone but I want to put in a rail of hooks in our stairs, which is right next to the door where we usually come and go from the house.  Luke's backpack needs a better spot than just hanging on a dining chair, which is where it has been this whole school year.

5) Replace porch ceiling fan
A repeat from last year's list but I really want this one done.  I have a fan picked out, sale stalked it too long and now it's out of stock.  So.  Back to the drawing board/Google search.

6) Replace night stands
Another repeat although we've moved from building to buying.  I'd really like larger, matching nightstands for us both, with at least one drawer.  The ones I initially picked out were $500 each.  Matt said no.

7) Replace house numbers
Another repeat although it might also move from making to buying.  I've been looking on Etsy already.

8) Sand down & repaint Luke's bedroom door
Two-ish years ago attacked his bedroom door with either Duplos or a Crucifix, or both at different times.  It has A LOT of divots in the ~10 layers of paint.  This one could be knocked out in a weekend but I need Matt to do the sanding since it's too rough on my RA joints.  Planned for the spring.

9) Add flower boxes to playhouse
One of the finishing details and the one real suggestion I've had.  I'm thinking we'll just buy something at Lowes and Matt can attach.

10) Plant a lilac bush/tree
We had one when we moved in but it kinda rotted/died and was torn out.  I have a spot in mind, just need to make it happen.   (At least half this list so far could just be accomplished with a good, expensive, Lowes trip.)

Kinda Fun
11) Fill kitchen picture ledges
Matt installed the kitchen picture ledges in the summer.  They are filled but some of the frames are still sporting the pictures they came with.  It just takes a little hunting to get those filled and then we can stop looking at the stock images.

12) Find a daily lip color
I am a dedicated lip balm user but I'm horrible at actually using anything with real color.  I'd like something easy I could wear daily, subtle color but that would make me look less pale.  Suggestions welcome on brands, types, etc!

13) Find a delicate, short necklace
Matt will probably get me this for Valentine's Day or our anniversary, depending on how quick I am at finding what I'd like.  I've been wanting one for years but never think to look for one until about a week before a gift-receiving holiday.

14) Figure out map for travels 
For over a decade we've had a map, that came in the mail for free,  hanging in our basement stairs and I've put a star sticker on it for all the places we've traveled together.  Then Luke ripped it and it's missing a chunk.  I mean, as long as we don't go to Mexico or Texas we're good but I'd also like a better option, maybe something we could differentiate where we've gone just the two of us and where we've taken the boys.  Also, I need someplace to hang this because our walls are kinda maxed out, at least the parts I'm willing to fill without completely covering them.

New Habits
15) Organize Luke's school papers 
Luke brings home a crazy amount of papers from school.  Right now I sort through it once a month and then keep my favorites but I know I am keeping too much.  I'm thinking some sort of filing system like this.  

16) Go on 4 dates with Matt
We are horrible at getting a sitter and going on dates outside of our house.  Mostly when we have evening sitters (not that often) it's to do things with other people.  We usually at least have our anniversary drive-in trip but last year we took a 2 month old Sam with us.  I'm aiming for once a quarter; it would be really nice to have more time together, away from the house.

17) Read 6 chapter books with Luke
I know he has the capacity to listen to longer stories; he's been a good podcast listener for over a year.  We've already finished one book and he seemed to like it, I have so many ideas for books to read to him.  I also need more library holds because we're still reading a lot of picture books too.  It might be time for the baby to get a card.

18) Order 6 photobooks (2018, Sam year 1, Luke year 6, NYC, Las Vegas, summer 2019 vacation)
The almost 6 months from when we got Sam until Luke went to kindergarten just felt crazy.  I never felt like I was on top of things and just didn't have much time to do anything besides parent, keep everyone fed, and keep the house reasonably clean.  (And read books, I guess.)  So I am behind on my photobooks.  I have 6 that should be ordered this year, 4 of them in progress already.  

19) Integrate 3 essential oils in our lives
I've been hearing about these FOREVER and we've finally started to, slowly, use them.  There are supposed to be all kinds of benefits and I should research that because I hate using them just because everyone else seems to be.  But, suggestions welcome if you have ones you regularly use and see a benefit to.

I think this list is less ambitious than last year's and I know we aren't getting a baby early in the year again so maybe, maybe, we'll get these all done.  At the very least, we should do better than 5½ of them!

Do you make a 19 in 2019 list?  Do you have suggestions for me, because I could use them on a lot of these!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Quick Lit - January

It's the first Quick Lit of January!  I do A LOT of rereading in December.  I have two series I reread every Christmastime and there is just something about being all cozy with Christmas that makes me want to reread some favorites.  Which means this January Quick Lit every year looks pretty similar.  It is what it is.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, I'm on Goodreads (a lot) here, and sometimes post about my books and reading on Instagram here.

I'm trying to post about books or reading things once a week and I am 3/3 so far in 2019.  Woo-hoo!!  Here's my other book posts from this month:

And now everything I've been reading!

One Day in December by Josie Silver
This was a charming and lovely book to read in December and although the title says December and I read it in December, it's not that Christmas-y and could be enjoyed anytime of year.  Laurie lives in London and sees a man at a bus stop, is pretty sure it is love at first sight, spends a year looking out for him again, talks about this mystery guy a lot, and then, her roommate brings her new boyfriend home for Laurie to meet and guess who it is?? (If you can't guess you haven't seen enough romcoms).  The story follows Laurie, Jack (the guy), and Sarah (the roommate) over many years.  It felt a little bit like One Day or Miss You but in concept, not in exact story line.  This was pretty rom-com-y but mostly fun and enjoyable. 3.5 Stars

Finding Father Christmas, Engaging Father Christmas, Kissing Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn
I first read this Christmas novella series in 2016 and went on to reread it again in 2017, 2018, and I just got the books for Christmas so I am sure I will be keeping that up for many years.  The first two are about Miranda who was raised in America with just her mother who died many years ago.  She never knew her father and has just one clue about him which leads her to a charming village in England right before Christmas.  The third book is about a related but never before mentioned character from the first two.  I find these charming and lovely and just perfect "get me in the mood for Christmas" reads.  3.75 Stars 

Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms, Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
This is the other series I've read every year, the first book I've read 5 times now!  These are mostly set in December, mostly set on Nantucket, and are pretty enjoyable.  It follows the Quinn family who run an Inn and the various family member's foibles and journeys.  There is Kelley, the patriarch; Margaret, his first wife; their 3 grown children (Patrick, Kevin, and Ava) who have an assortment of significant others and children; Mitzi, his current wife; and Bart, their son who was just deployed to Afghanistan.  I enjoy these so much that the Quinns, as many faults as they have, might be my second favorite fictional family, after the Weasleys.  4 Stars

Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Donald Zochert
I reread the entire Little House series almost 2 years ago and had been meaning to reread this biography of Laura ever since.  It was a lot of information I had mostly gotten from other books I've read recently but I'm still fascinated by the real story of the Little House years.  And, I mostly read this while waiting in school pick-up line over 2 weeks, making good use of that time. 3 Stars

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
This is an advent devotional I've read for a couple of years straight now.   It helps me focus on the real meaning of Christmas when my brain spends so much of December spinning through all the things I need (want) to get done. 4 Stars

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams 
I think I'm at 5 reads of this book too and might name it in my top 5 books (maybe).  Like many of her books, it's told in two different time periods, 1932 and 1938?, switching back and forth between them so you slowly get two parts of the story.  Centers largely around Lily but also her childhood best friend Budgie and Lily's little sister Kiki and OF COURSE there are guys involved.  I just enjoy it so much, I even read it twice last year (accidentally, finished it January 1st and then again December 28th).  4.5 Stars

Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations by Angelo D. Scolozzi
This was the devotional I read (most) days last year.  It's focused on the writings of Saint Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa) and was different from the devotionals I've used the past couple of years but a welcome change. 4 Stars

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
I've only read a few of her books but had this one highly recommended but I thought it was a waste of my time.  There is a girl who is about to marry a guy who she barely likes.  Then she loses her engagement ring, has her phone stolen, picks up a phone she sees in the trash and starts using that one.  Turns out, it's a work phone for the assistant to a busy man but somehow she convinces him she needs the phone and will forward all work correspondence but then, guess what, she gets involved in the work stuff and do you think she ends up marrying the guy who she was engaged to in the beginning?  I honestly feel like I lost brain cells just writing that out, much less reading it.  I would not recommend unless you are looking for something completely mindless but, really, there are better options out there.  1.5 Stars

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter
I've come to expect Denise Hunter to consistently have books that draw me in, make me care about the characters, and then pretty much forget the plot as soon as I am done reading.  And this one was pretty much that.   I really enjoyed her Chapel Springs series and the Summer Harbor series was pretty good too.  They are kinda like Nicholas Sparks books used to be for me - a little cheesy, I look forward to reading but then they all kinda blend together. 3 Stars

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen
One of my personal favorite sub-genres of books (if I can even call it that) is books about people living in New York City.  I have really enjoyed our visits there and am fascinated with living there.  Since I'm not ever going to do that myself, I enjoyed reading about people who are, even if they are fictional.  This follows one woman who lives in a dead-end street in Manhattan with a pretty close group of neighbors.  It follows the activity on their street and her own personal life which was mostly enjoyable but it also wasn't one I was itching to pick up as much as I could. But I'd consider reading another one of her books.  3 Stars

The Ministry of Ordinary Place: Waking Up to God's Goodness Around You by Shannan Martin
I sat on the library hold for this for at least 2 months and by the time I got it, I completely forgot where I had heard of it in the first place.  The title is a pretty good summary of the book - ministering to the people around you, really getting close to them in order to help them.  Shannan, her husband, their kids moved to a poorer part of a new town (not too far from me!).  Her writing is at times funny and thought provoking and I've actually enjoyed this quite a bit. 3.75 Stars

What have YOU been reading lately?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2019: Discipline

I've said it many times but it's true...I LOVE the fresh start feeling at the start of a new year.  Anything feels possible with the turning of the calendar and I like dreaming and planning for what I think could/should happen in the coming 12 months.

I've picked a word for the year since 2015 and some years I've done better about focusing on it than others.  Really, it should be a word for the 1st quarter of the year because by then I've usually forgotten about it and things get busier in the spring.  Maybe I'll think about that for next year...

The word I've chosen for 2019 is Discipline.  I'm really focusing on this in 3 areas:

1) Nagging To-Dos
Basically, getting myself to do the stuff I know I should be doing, the things that are taking up space on my mental to-do list.  (Some of these will pop up on my 19 in 2019 list next week).

2) Transitioning Between Activities
I'm not great at transitioning between activities.  I'll finish working on this post and probably need to get Sam up from a nap (maybe, he'll still sleeping right now) but first I'll read some blog posts, probably do a little tidying on my way upstairs, probably check my phone for some unknown and unnecessary reason.  The phone is the big distraction and I always seem to pick it up before moving to a new activity.  This is probably partially because I use an app to track so much of my time so I "have" to stop the timer when I'm done reading, for instance, and then think I need to refresh Feedly or Goodreads or see if I have library holds in...etc. etc. etc.  So, transitioning better.

3) Getting to bed on time/getting up on time
There are always thing I feel like I need to do before going to bed, beyond the necessary teeth brushing and face washing.  I make Sam's morning bottle, sometimes have to pack Luke's lunch, put away laundry, lay out diapers to dry, stack the dishwasher, lay out my clothes for the morning, get out the boys' clothes, tuck kids back in, etc.  From when we turn off the tv to head to bed until I actually get in bed can be 45 minutes which is a LONG time.  Then I always want to read and bedtime gets late.  I think our mornings could go much more smoothly if we all got more sleep i.e. went to sleep earlier.  So I need discipline to get things done earlier in the evening instead of saving for right before bed and also the discipline of getting up on time so our whole morning isn't thrown off.

I also like to set a few goals for the year, different from the more project based 19 in 2019 list.  First, the ones I set for 2018:

1) Read 125 Books
Finished 175, so killed that one.

2) Facetime with out of town sisters once a week-ish
Did really well on this for about the first quarter and then didn't do so well.  One of my out of town sisters moved closer so we see her and her family a lot more but I still have 2 sisters living about 2 hours away. 
3) Run a 10k and 350 miles
Did the 10k but only ran 209 miles.  Getting Sam so early in the year combined with Matt changing jobs and getting stuck working a lot of overtime, I didn't get nearly as much running time as I would have liked.

4) Get rid of 100 things pre-garage sale
We decided not to have a garage sale but I did still get rid of over 100 things that I tracked and much more that I didn't.  I should get back in the habit of tracking how many things I've gotten rid of because that is highly motivating for me. 

5) Improve my skin-care routine
I did this but it was mostly in December and I entirely forgot it was a goal for 2018 until I was working on this list.  I haven't seen real results because it's only been a few weeks but I am using more products so that's something?  Spending more ALWAYS, of course, equals better results (major sarcasm but at least I feel like I'm putting in more of an effort now).

I decided to only have a few, easily measured numeric goals here for 2019:

1) Read 150 Books
I am pretty shocked I read so many last year with a new baby, I often don't feel like I get enough reading time but apparently I do (I did read almost 1/3 of the books I read in 2018 in the two months of the year we didn't have a baby, so there is that).  So hopefully I can get this many in this year.

2) Run 300 Miles, run a race
More miles than I ran last year and with Sam able to be in the jogger now, it should go better than last year.  I'll do a race in the fall but haven't decided how far, at least a 10k, maybe another half marathon with my sister?  Maybe, we're considering it.

3) Get Rid of 150 Things
I know I can do this, I am constantly overwhelmed by possessions (a recent, favorite rant of mine with packing away normal decor for Christmas, finding a place for Christmas gifts, and then getting all the normal decor back out...I'm aiming this at myself, I counted my books...that was eye opening...) and having less is always appealing to me.  I plan to write about this more later this month.

Hopefully I can write this post for 2020 (YIKES), having met all my goals and be much more disciplined.  We weren't expecting a baby in 2018 and it hugely changed our year but a baby is unlikely this year (and definitely won't happen early in the year).  While I certainly wouldn't mind getting kid #3 this year, it's also nice being able to look ahead and feel like I have a better idea of how it's going to go.  The planner part of me (which is pretty big) likes that.

Are you a goal/resolution setter?  I love hearing what others are planning/hoping to do!

2018 resolutions
2017 resolutions
2016 resolutions
2015 resolutions
2014 resolutions
2013 resolutions
2012 resolutions
2011 resolutions
2010 resolutions

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

{17} Books for a Fresh Start to a New Year

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a product link, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog! 
I LOVE the fresh start feeling of a new year.  December is always busy, no matter how much I think "this year will be simpler" and so turning the calendar, and all of a sudden having A LOT of white space is so refreshing to me.  I love Christmas but I also like how simple and cleaner our house seems now that it is all packed away.  I find January so refreshing after December and Christmas.

I have more posts planned over the next couple weeks about my plans for the new year and also what I am doing to keep my "less of all the things!" momentum going.  But before I get into that, a good place to start is always books.  When I want to learn something (where the answer is more in depth than a 2 second google search) I turn to books.  I read books about adoption, I read about parenting, being green, travel, and have read every book I'm recommending below.  When my enthusiasm starts to wane, the right read can really give me a kick in the pants to keep going.

Intentional Living
A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley
I've been following Emily on Instagram for a few years and she puts on a big emphasis on simplifying many areas of life, which she breaks down in this book.  From stuff, to schedule to routines, to parenting...she addresses many areas I'd like to simplify with manageable, actionable steps.  I read this last January and hope to again next year.  (I reviewed it last year here!)

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is fantastic at talking about habits and how to you can motivate yourself to do what you need or want to do (I reviewed her The Four Tendencies book back here).  In this book she picks about 10 areas of her life at home she thought she could improve and then spent one month really working on each.  She has some great insights and really works to make habits she can keep, highly motivating.

Loving my Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall 
This is the one I am rereading this January, similar to Happier at Home, the author wants to be happier without making drastic life changes - mainly improving things at home and with her family.  I also want to love my actual life and a little improvement wouldn't hurt.  I also remember that there is a chapter about improving school mornings which we could DEFINITELY use some help with.  (I reviewed it here.)

This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick
This isn't so much intentional living but intentionally loving where you live - specifically your city.  The author moved to a new city for her husband's job and it's not really where she would have picked to live.  So with her daughters, she sets about really getting involved and loving their new home.  I've lived in the same city my whole life, besides college, but could still love it more!  (I reviewed this way back here!)

Having Less
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
I've found Joshua Becker to be a big inspiration for my constant intention to live with, and need less.  He is very practical but also understands how it can be hard to get rid of stuff, especially those things with an emotional attachment.  It helped me see I don't need to keep EVERYTHING.  And I like every book that tells me, and actually get me, to get rid of things.  (Review here)

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider
I've been listening to Tsh's podcast for years and she advocates simplicity in many aspects of your life.  In this book she walks through a 10 day plan for simplifying many aspects of life, down to budget and time.  She gives suggestions for less toxic cleaners and cleaning routines.  A great way to start off a year.

Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up With More by Erin Boyle
This is a pretty quick and easy read (could you really trust a LONG book about living simply?) that goes through different areas of your home and life to simplify.  I especially appreciated that she included information about using greener and fewer cleaning and beauty products.  

A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life by Tara Button
This isn't just an argument for having less but also for buying higher quality, and why we, as consumers, don't demand that from more products.  One of the big reasons I'm so interested (/obsessive, take your pick) in recycling is because the idea of covering our planet with trash is disgusting to me.  So throwing away less by buying smarter is very interesting to me but it should be to all of us.  (I need to stop there before I get on my favorite "too much trash" soapbox)

Doing Less
Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner
I had this book on my TBR and had been listening to her as a co-host of a weekly podcast for weeks before I found out that Erin and I live in the same city.  How crazy is that?  Which has nothing to do with the book, just a fact.  Anyways, Erin used to live in LA and had a successful show on before her and her husband decided to slow down their lives and return to the Midwest.  It's very much focused on her journey but with lots of reflections sprinkled in.  She also has a fantastic Instagram feed with near daily related thoughts.   

Grace Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley
I have a bit of a perfectionist streak in me (my Mom says I didn't talk until I was 3 because I waited until I could do it well) and this book was a fantastic (and beautiful) reminder that we need to inspire towards grace more than towards perfection.  (I reviewed this here.)

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters by Rachel Macy Stafford
I have taken serious steps over the last couple years to make sure I spend less time on my phone, all the way to deleting apps (Instagram) on every Friday to reinstall every Monday to break my habit of checking it on the weekends.  (I write more about spending less time on social media here).  This book might be where I started my long "spend less time on my phone" journey.  Really what matters is spending time with loved ones and generally not through a screen.  Sometimes it's just easier to read about it from someone else.  (And then actually work on it yourself.)

Time Management
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Time management is one of my favorite topics to read about and if you are only going to read one book on the subject it should probably be this one.  Laura is a time management expert, she's spent years tracking her time, every day, in 15 minute increments.  With her books she's studying time diaries of hundreds (thousands?) of people.  This book makes the argument that you don't need to fit every activities in every day, but to look at your week as a whole: working out 4 times a week is still pretty good (for example).  She also advocates actually tracking your time for a week because the stories we tell ourselves about where our time goes might not (probably not) be accurate.  I've learned a lot from her.

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner
This book inspired a whole post a few years ago.  Jessica Turner is a busy Mom and wife, works full-time outside the home, manages an active blog, and still finds time for hobbies.  Which all seems impossible but she lays out how it actually is possible and how you can do it too (if you want, I have no desire to work full-time outside the house).  Everyone needs GOOD down time (mindless phone scrolling doesn't count) and working that in alongside all the work you do (paid work, house work, parenting work) is important.  

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam
This author again but I really feel like she has a lot to say.  In this book she studies time diaries of multiple people with busy jobs who also feel like they have time to do their hobbies or leisure activities.  And, really, does it matter that we get a lot done if we FEEL like we have the time to get a lot done?  It's really all about that feeling of having a lot of time and she details how that can be possible for everyone.

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is an expert on habits and how to get ourselves to pick up new ones.  And the New Year is an excellent (and popular) time to try new ones!  She goes through ways we can know ourselves better to get ourselves to pick-up new habits, common pitfalls, and the excuses we make to get out of them.  It's an easy but perfect read if your New Years Resolution included any sort of new habit. 

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
This is an even more in depth look at habits and how they are formed and how we can change them.  It's all about the trigger and getting the "reward" whatever it is.  It's a little more academic than the above but also really educational if you really have habits you want to change.  

Hello Mornings: How to Build a Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine by Kat Lee
This is about a very specific habit - how to have a good morning, to wake up for your day and not to your day (helpful hint: be up and around before your kids are awake).  Mornings are a trouble spot for many (raises own hand) and I don't want our morning to be rushed and crazy 230 mornings a year (that's every school morning and Sunday church mornings).  I picked up some habits after reading this book that we are still doing over 6 months later, even if mornings are still (sometimes) a struggle.

January and September tend to be when I read the most non-fiction and I love the feeling of getting new knowledge to kick off good habits!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Looking Back at December

Another month and another year behind us!  December was a busy one, as December usually is, with Christmas prep and then Christmas!  I always forget how much time it takes to get ready for Christmas (which is a lot), plus this year adding some volunteering at Luke's school (for Christmas related things) and being sick (which is every winter for me).  It was a busy month!  The plus side of December being so busy is that January feels downright relaxing!  We still have our tree and decorations up but not for much longer and I am VERY MUCH looking forward to doing some simplifying and purging in the coming weeks.  I like getting rid of things maybe more than I like shopping, even at Target, and that's saying something.

Looking back:
1 year ago: {12} Christmas Hacks (of sorts)

2 years ago: {5} Reasons I Don't Run in the Winter
3 years ago: Adorable Wooden Christmas Trees
4 years ago: Caramel Butter Bars

5 years ago: Raspberry Coconut Layer Bars (my husband's favorite Christmas treats, after the tradition frosted cut-out sugar cookies)
8 years ago: Stairs are (almost) done!  (This was a slog of a project.)

1)  Blueberry Morning is my longtime favorite cereal but it's been in and out of stores here over the past ~7 years.  My Mom tracked some down for me, at CVS of all places, and I am SO EXCITED to be back to eating it on Sundays.  Also, my Mom is wonderful.
2) Decorating the tree!
3) Massive Target stock-up where I spent $200 just on formula.  I will miss the bottle feeding cuddles but not the formula expense when he moves to regular milk in a few months!
4) Working on outside decorating!
5) St. Nick Day!
6) Sam was REALLY interested in the Christmas card basket.  I don't get this.
7) He left the tree alone for the first 2 weeks it was up and then was really interested in it, pokey needles and all.  I don't get this either.
8) "Working" while watching some Hart of Dixie Christmas episodes.
9) Walking to school pick-up less than 10 days before Christmas!  It was nice to have warm enough weather for this again, even if just for a day!
10) I only use my snowman mug in the winter and it just feels so festive to use in front of the Christmas tree.
11) Sunrise when getting home from school drop-off.  A year ago it would have seen crazy that we are regularly out of the house before the sun is up.  Actually, that still seems crazy.
12) The tree all lit and filled with presents underneath!
13) Early Christmas afternoon mess.  One of the few days I tolerate this kind of mess for more than 5 minutes.  (I'm a delight to live with.)
14) Anytime I can read while both boys are home feels like a treat. 
15) He told me he was "reading in his head".  We're getting there!
16) Planning for 2019!

Books finished: 15!

Miles ran: 0.00 (see above)

Currently watching: Cougar Town season 6, which aired years ago on cable but I finally got around to buying on Amazon. 
Most read post this month:
Quick Lit, then What I Hope my Boys Remember About Christmas.
Luke's current favorite song:
I just asked him and he says "Everything is Awesome."  A perpetual favorite.

I love Christmas but am looking forward to the simplicity of January!  I love the fresh start feeling in January!