Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Goals: January's Update

I've never been good at keeping to New Year's Resolutions. But this year I am calling them goals for the year. I'm still not good at keeping them. However, I really want to do better and stick with these goals. 

Here's how I did in January:

  Spiritual
  • Read the Bible every day, first thing and last thing. I had wanted to make a goal of reading the Bible through this year, but I never accomplish that, always getting stuck before I get out of the Pentateuch. So I'm not being as hard on myself, and this year I am simply planning to read a bit of the Bible every day. In January, I didn't keep up well with the "first thing in the morning and last thing at night" - it usually happens in the middle of the day. I'm trying to read the Proverbs chapter that correlates with the day's date, and a few chapters of Psalms every day, and then selected reading from elsewhere in Scripture as well. I haven't kept up every day, but about 2/3 of the time I do get some reading in. I hope to improve that. 
  • Pray out loud or in prayer journal every day. I'm not as good with prayer as I am with Scripture reading, but I have tried to pray out loud almost every day, usually a simple prayer with Asher. 
  • Bring up faith with nominal and lost friends, family, and acquaintances. Didn't really happen this month.
Reading
  • Read 2 books per month. Nope. I have three books going right now: Emma by Jane Austen (on my Kindle app on iPhone), Follow Me by David Platt (physical book), and Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous (on the Kindle Fire). I didn't make much progress on any of them in January. 
  • Beat Brandon in reading challenge (read more pages than him in physical books by June). I haven't done well with reading, but I've done better than Brandon ;). That is only because this is a visual reading challenge, and he has listened to several audiobooks this month. He is more of an audio/video kind of learner than a reader, and I am more of a reader. 
Parenting
  • Set and stick with a rough routine for our days at home. I told you it was laughable. I have planned out a routine, but never follow it. 
  • Limit Asher's screen time to an hour per day, maximum. Some days are better than others. Some days he doesn't even watch anything, but others... can be pretty bad (although most kids whose families have cable probably watch more every day than he does on our "bad" days). 
  • Take Asher to the movies once. Yay! Something to check off! We went to see "Frozen", and I loved it. Brandon thought it was ok, and I think Asher enjoyed it, but he was too antsy to sit still the whole time. Going to the movies is not something we will do regularly yet. 
  • Bimonthly play dates with cousins, and frequent visits with [the boy around Asher's age whose grandmother babysits him and is our neighbor].   This didn't happen quite the way I imagined, but we did see all the cousins twice in January - once at Asher's birthday party, then saw some cousins at Kassidy's birthday party, and we saw Westin for about an hour and a half one day when we watched him at our house. It's been too cold to go out much, so we haven't seen the little boy down the road probably at all in January. 
  • Continue weekly story time at the library.  This is an ongoing goal, but one we did keep up with in January. If nothing else, it helps us get out of the house. 
  • [New goal] Get Asher out of our bed by the time baby comes in April. Currently, we have Asher's toddler bed pushed up against the side of our bed, and he likes sitting in it sometimes, but doesn't like sleeping in it. He did fine with it with Brandon when I was out of town one night, but when I'm home he climbs on either side of me multiple times throughout each night. I don't like it. Brandon is going to put him to bed and sleep with him the next few nights while I sleep in another room. So I believe we are making a bit of progress here. 
Homemaking
  • Get into a cleaning schedule/routine and stick with it. Laughable, I tell you. 
  • Continue meal-planning each week, stay within grocery budget, track spending. I didn't do as well in January I have the previous several months, because a few times it was too cold and/or snowy and/or icy to go grocery shopping on our shopping day, which messes up my routine of shopping on Mondays, and I'm just not as motivated to do it well if it's not on the right day. I'm weird, I know. 
  • Eat out less, once per week max. I think we have mostly kept pretty well to eating at home. One week we ate out too much, but other than that I think we did well. 
Marriage
  • Read 2 marriage books. Not yet. 
  • Go on a weekend date without Asher before baby is born. I'm hoping this can happen, but we are getting closer and closer to due date with no plans yet.
Financial
  • Reach savings goal by June. We are on track with this. 
  • Pay for baby's birth in cash, right away. We are on track with this. 

2014 Goals

I like lists. Particularly to-do lists. I don't always check everything off the list, but it helps my mind feel more organized. Plus, if I don't have a list I feel like I will forget everything. 

I guess a list of goals is like a to-do list for the whole year. And since I am a slacker when it comes to blogging, I am just now (yes, in February) blogging about my goals for this year. 

I wrote out my goals on January 1, and made a pretty little list to keep on my refrigerator, and I am aware of my goals (although that doesn't mean I have kept up with all of them). But I never thought to blog them until I thought of posting my progress so far. So first I will post my goals for the year, then do a separate post to update how I'm doing thus far. 

Anyways, here they are: 

 Spiritual
  • Read the Bible every day, first thing and last thing. 
  • Pray out loud or in prayer journal every day.
  • Bring up faith with nominal and lost friends, family, and acquaintances.
Reading
  • Read 2 books per month.
  • Beat Brandon in reading challenge (read more pages than him in physical books by June).
Parenting
  • Set and stick with a rough routine for our days at home. 
  • Limit Asher's screen time to an hour per day, maximum. 
  • Take Asher to the movies once.
  • .Bimonthly play dates with cousins, and frequent visits with [the boy around Asher's age whose grandmother babysits him and is our neighbor].
  • Continue weekly story time at the library. (We read together every day, I don't feel it needs to be on the goal list).
  • [New goal] Get Asher out of our bed by the time baby comes in April.
Homemaking
  • Get into a cleaning schedule/routine and stick with it.
  • Continue meal-planning each week, stay within grocery budget, track spending. 
  • Eat out less, once per week max. 
Marriage
  • Read 2 marriage books.
  • Go on a weekend date without Asher before baby is born. 
Financial
  • Reach savings goal by June. 
  • Pay for baby's birth in cash, right away. 

So there they are. Knowing myself, some of these are laughable - specifically the schedule/routine ones. But it's a goal, and now I am publishing it publicly so there's some accountability. 

Maybe I should add "blog more" as another goal... eh. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How I Plan My Grocery Shopping

I've had a grocery shopping system going for the past several months now, and I find that it works very well for our family. Before I implemented this system, I shopped rather blindly. I would keep a list of whatever we were running out of from our pantry and fridge, but there wasn't much thought involved beyond that. When I got to the grocery store, I would shop based on my short list, and whatever looked good. I would get ideas for possible dinners as I browsed the aisles.

This was not good.
The result of this thoughtless practice was that we often ended up with food that would never get eaten, and was eventually tossed out.

This also was not good.

I don't like being wasteful. Actually, it KILLS me to throw out food. Often I will eat leftovers of the same meal for days on end, because Brandon sometimes won't eat leftovers, and I hate to see food go to waste. Occasionally, if I too am tired of the leftovers, I will give the food to the pets and feel not-so-bad about it, because they seem so very grateful to receive human food.


Anyways. I needed to find a system that worked better for us, one which would involve more conscious effort but would produce better results.

It actually wasn't that difficult. Sometimes I complicate things by trying to find a method online that works for someone else, and then I attempt to fit myself to its mold, and I realize that it's just not my style.

In this case, however, I went by instinct.

I knew the first step would be to make a menu plan for the week. The problem was, I wasn't very creative at coming up with meals for the whole week. I could think of maybe three recipes that I hadn't used last week, but beyond that I was drawing a blank. So I went back a step further (if Step One was to make a menu plan, I guess I was going to Step Zero?). I made a list of all the meals we eat regularly, and I was able to come up with a good amount. I sorted them by main meat ingredient: Beef, Chicken, or Other.


Now I could get to the good stuff.


I hand-drew a grid, with Breakfast / Lunch / Snack / Dinner as the column headings across the top, and the days of the week as the row headings down the bottom. Some people don't need to plan out each day's breakfast, lunch, and snacks, but I like having it all planned out for me. I consulted the weekly grocery ads to determine what was on sale, and keeping that in mind, I filled in my grid.


Oh, how pretty!

It makes me happy to complete my menu grid. Don't laugh at me.

Next, I checked my pantry and fridge to see what we had and what we needed (according to the menu grid!), and made the grocery list accordingly.




Something else you may possibly laugh at me about: I get quite specific in my grocery list-making. I have to make categories of Cold, Meat, Dry, Frozen, and Produce in order to keep up with everything. If I don't do it this way, I end up accidentally skipping the orange juice or something and having to go all the way to the back of the store to get it - with a full cart and, usually by this point, a whiny toddler.

My current list-making method isn't perfect, either. The "Dry" section - basically all of the internal grocery aisles - is quite a large section and sometimes I still skip over things. But I'm getting better.


Plus, as you can see from the picture above, I tend to get a little lazy near the end of the grid. The whole menu plan is flexible, but weekends especially are, because sometimes I don't know our plans until the last minute. Consequently (and as a result of the aforementioned lack of creativity), I often leave out most of the weekend's menu plan.

And that's the way I do it! All the drawn-out explaining might have made it seem complicated, but it's not. Three steps (and one is optional!): 1- Consult ads (optional!) 2- Make menu grid  3- Make grocery list, checking pantry if unsure whether we have something. Then go shopping.

That works for me!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The In"sssssss"ident

AKA The Snake Incident
(This story is best read in a dark room, where the reader's face is illuminated by a flashlight. Dramatic inflections are an added bonus.)

It was a windy, cloudy April day like any other. Brandon, Asher, and I had just returned home to Somerset after being in Campbellsville for school most of the day. We didn't want to head home and get comfortable, only to get back out again to take my brother Nick to his baseball scrimmage, so we decided to spend some time at the library before we headed over to pick Nick up.  *DUN DUN*

Our time at the library passed uneventfully, and we headed out to the car, when the children's garden caught my eye. We had never taken Asher to the garden, and we had a little more time to spare, so I suggested we take him over for a romp in the garden. Little did I know what would await us there...

Asher stayed on the sidewalks like a good little boy for approximately 5.2 seconds. Pretty soon, he was wandering off the path, into the grass and up the small hill. I positioned myself on the bench next to the hill to watch the event which was about to unfold. *DUN DUN DUNNN*

My boy tripped, and I leaned over the rail to help him, when I noticed a slight movement in the grass. I immediately recognized that it was a snake and, after panicking for half a second, I bolted over the rail, risking life and limb to save my boy from the disaster which surely awaited him. No big deal or boasting here though, it was mommy instinct.

After ensuring that we were both unscathed - and I ENSURED that we were okay, checking and re-checking Asher's legs where surely the snake must have bitten him, he was so close (and you know the saying, "If it was a snake it would've bit ya") - I proceeded to freak out. I staunchly declared that I was never again taking Asher to the Children's Garden. Brandon followed the snake around for a few minutes, watching it as it slithered under leaves and out of sight. He considered picking it up, but I screamed bloody poisonous snake, and ran away with Asher. Brandon managed to take some pictures and a video while I was having a panic attack.



Turns out it was just a garter/garden (?) snake. I figured that when I saw it; I didn't really think it was venomous, but a snake is a snake, and if it had bitten one of us, I'd say the bite would hurt either way.

And then we brought Asher back the next week. :) This time, I made sure he stayed on the sidewalks. However, Brandon did find a snake skin in the same vicinity that we saw the snake the week before.

Beware, ye partakers of garden goodness. There is garden badness too, of the ancient variety.