Monday, January 31, 2011

11 for 2011, month one

January is wrapping up, so it's a good time for me to check in on my 11 for 2011 (after all I don't want to become another resolution failure statistic). Some of these are going well, others need some work.

A+ work
1. Drink more water - I carry my trusty Camelbak with me everywhere and it's becoming more and more of a habit for me. My goal is to fill it to the top twice a day for a total of 48 ounces per day - a big improvement over what I was doing before.
2. Try to enjoy cooking - This is still a work in progress but I'm giving myself an A+ for the trying part. I made three new meals last week and all were successes. I'm also signing up to split a share in a local CSA this summer with my sister-in-law - this is a huge step for our family - it will force me to try cooking different things and help us to eat healthier.
8. Exercise, someway, somehow - Yes, yes, yes. So far I am breezing through this one. We just celebrated the end of week 8 with a girls' night and I'm feeling great.
9. Surround myself with less stuff. Simplify.  - If you follow this blog, you know I've been making progress on this one. Our bedroom closets are done as well as the craft closet (blog post coming soon) and I worked on the pantry this weekend as well.

Could be better, could be worse:
3. Be more intentional with my time - Depends on the day. I have moments when I use my time well and moments when I don't (see #5 below). My main focus here is to give Matt and the kids more undivided attention.
4. Invest in my home team, our families, my marriage - There have been some really great strides made in the past month, good talks, good laughs but this is one where this always room for more...the idea here is to get outside myself and give to those around me.
6. Wake up by 7am each day - Blah. I was actually doing better at this before the New Year started and then the holidays messed me up. I know that when I get up a little earlier my days go smoother but it's still hard to tell yourself that when the alarm is going off. I am up early some days but I need to be more consistent.
7. Read every day to my kids - It's amazing how this seems so easy yet it's one of those things that falls through the cracks most days. Dylan is learning to read right now so it's really important that I do this with him and Ella loves nothing more then to sit next to someone with a big stack of books and snuggle in. These are precious moments and I need to recognize that.

Room for improvement: 
5. Spend less time on Facebook - This continues to be a big time suck for me. Sometimes I want to go cold turkey but then I think that is just crazy talk.
10. Keep a prayer journal - It's been hit or miss. Will work more on the "hit".
11. Practice gratitude - I've been letting myself get swept up in the circumstances around me. I'm a half-full sort of girl but I need to be more intentional about being grateful for all the blessings around me.

What about you? How was your January?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

closet clean-up, phase two

Guess what arrived yesterday?

Hangers! Beautiful, wood hangers! Who knew this would make me so excited?

(Oh, and the big cardboard box made the little people around here happy.)

I have slowly been working on sorting through the photos, papers, and other memories that also get stored in our closet. Again, I don't think I'm much of a packrat (if you have to keep saying it, does it mean you really are??) but I did come across crazy things in those boxes like cards from Dylan's baby showers and stacks and stacks of duplicate photos.

I ended up keeping four boxes - one of special photos for Dylan, one for Ella, one for Mady (which are now stored in each of their closets) and one for Matt and my assorted memories (extra engagement photos, Matt's high school photos, etc.) I am a scrapbooker so there wasn't a big need for me to hold onto a lot of this stuff since it's already in a scrapbook somewhere.

(Sorry folks, those awesome shots of Matt and I in our fall sweaters circa 2002 are long gone now.)

Matt got into the spirit of things and went through his closet as well. His giveaway pile:

Another shot of my closet before (our closets are separate but have exactly the same layout, just on opposite sides):

A couple bags of trash, a couple items relocated to the basement, and here is the finished product:


I added some polka dot bins from Target, reused the photo boxes from other spots in my house and obviously invested in the new hangers (I did end up getting the hangers on sale for about 60 cents a piece which is less than the $1 or so they would usually run you). We cut the number of hangers in our house almost in half and I'm hoping this will help us stay on track in the future - if we run out of hangers it means we have too many clothes.

As an added bonus the smaller white boxes the hangers came in have already been re-purposed to hold the kid's professional photos (that's an organizational project for another day) and all of our baby books and calendars (yes, I am that mom). The boxes line up nicely along the bottom side cubby in each of our closets. I love it when it all comes together.

I also have plenty of room for my high school and college memorabilia (one box each), our wedding albums, and a large square box for each kid to save special artwork, papers, etc. PLUS, there is still empty space...I could store more things in here eventually or just enjoy my uncluttered shelves.

And Matt's de-cluttered closet:

I don't know about you but waking up to a clutter-free closet starts my day off on the right foot. I don't spend a lot of time in my room during the day but it is still important to me that it's picked up and looks nice (until a year or two ago I was not a bed maker and now I do it almost religiously every morning as soon as I get up along with opening all of the blinds).

Next up: kids' craft supply storage. This drives me bonkers in our house because we don't have a good system which makes clean-up hard. Hoping to find something kid-friendly and inexpensive and a system that will transfer well to the basement when we eventually finish that space. Wish me luck!

[Note: My cousin Kristin posted her closet re-do here.]

Monday, January 24, 2011

let's take the "work" out of workout {update}

It's a big week: Week 8 of our workout challenge.

This deserves a post because I had no idea what was going to happen when we started this two months ago, and I'm pretty darn proud of ourselves for making it this far.

Our hubby's gave us two weeks (and whole lot of extra motivation when we heard them say that!) 

I might have been slightly more generous and given us 3-4 weeks.

B, T, KMac and KT are all still standing. 5 workouts a week for 8 weeks.

The real kicker is that we're not just doing this, but somewhere along the line we actually started enjoying ourselves.

Shocking, I know.

So we've had some people ask...and sometimes we tell people who didn't ask (we can't help it, we're kind of excited)...and the big questions we usually get are Why?!?!  How?  When?  What? and Where?

The Why:
  • We are all moms. We have birthed babies. We love those babies but they put our bodies through the ringer. 
  • We are all over 30. As far as we can tell, we're not getting any younger. We also hear rumors of things like metabolism drop-offs and heart disease.
  • We want to sleep better, stand taller, breath easier, and feel happier. AND we want our pants to fit.
  • We like each other. Exercise gives us a good reason to get together once or twice a week, strengthen our bond, and laugh our tails off (all while we're working those tails off).

The How:
Our guidelines:
    • Challenge begins December 6 [important! start right away! don't think about it!] 
    • $20 to start!
    • Workout 5 days a week, two free days per week
    • A workout means you are breathing hard, heart's a pumping, sweating or otherwise exerting yourself!
    • $5 for every missed workout if you want to stay in
    • Last girl standing takes the pot!
    Other words of advice:
    • A group of 4 girls works great. 3 or 5 would also work well too.
    • You can all be at different fitness levels and I think it would still work.
    • We say 15 minutes but most always, we go over that. It was important to us that it seemed doable to start so we wouldn't get overwhelmed and quit.
    • The 4 of us all live relatively close to each other and that helps but isn't necessary.
    • We created a group on Facebook, set the settings to Secret, and then use that space to post our workouts each day. One girl creates a post "week 1 {workout 1}" and then everyone posts their workouts underneath and so on. We also coordinate group workouts here and post words of encouragement and as well as some friendly trash talk.
    • It's important that there is money involved. Talk it over with your group, set an amount that is just painful enough that you really don't want to lose that money. At this point it's more about honor than money but I think that really lit a fire under us to begin with. Get a jar. Have everyone put the money in it. Take a picture or keep it on your kitchen counter. Dream about what you will do with the money once you win.
    • Big keys: make it doable (but be ready to push yourself), keep each other accountable, take it one day at a time. Get creative.

    The When:
    • Whenever! Everyone's schedule is different. You have to plan ahead, at least a little, to stay on track. 
    • Regarding time-related excuses: I have heard a lot of these. All I can say is the problem probably isn't not having enough time, it's not making good use of your time. Everyone has an extra 15-30 minutes a day you might just have to go looking for it. In our group, KMac and I both stay home with three kids and B and T both work full-time while raising two little boys each. We are not exactly the poster children for extra time, but we have made it work. Don't try to argue. You can do it.
    • I don't work out at the same time every day - sometimes it's 6am, sometimes it's 9pm. Think your day through the night before and make some plans.
    • It has helped us to plan a few group workouts each week whether it's just doing a DVD in someone's living room, swimming before our days start, or meeting for a yoga class.

    The What:
    • We have tried just about everything under the sun! Somewhere along the line we also made a commitment to try new things even if they were outside of our comfort zones. In the past 8 weeks have done around-the-house circuit training, Jillian DVD's, swimming, Wii Fit, P90X, yoga, pilates, tae bo, running, the elliptical, and cross country skiing (our latest adventure - we all loved it!)
    • Get creative. I know a lot of us don't have tons of money to spare. I will say 1) it's worth it to invest a little into this venture (and by that I mean the $2.50 for open swim and the $9 for a new Jillian DVD is totally worth it) and 2) you can come up with free workouts if you get a little creative (look on-line, borrow DVD's, walk/run outside).

    The Where:
    Here are a few resources we have found:
    • Open swims. Check with your local high school.
    • Church programs. In the past week, I have discovered Holy Yoga at our church and a fitness class that meets at another local church three mornings a week (with $1 per kid childcare!). Look around, I'm sure there are more.
    • Gym/class deals. This isn't necessary (one of our girls goes to the Y regularly, the rest of us do not belong to a gym). We are able to get a great deal on yoga classes though through Living Social (check Groupon too). 
    • The great outdoors. Our skiing adventure was amazing and the park was a mere 15 minutes away from our house.
    • Your living room. This is probably your best bet if you are a busy mom with little kids. We have had all four of us girls in my living room sweating to Jillian and it works. I have also worked out with kids napping upstairs, watching Curious George in the other room and busting a move beside me. You might have to move furniture, but you can make it work.

    Bottom line: this challenge started as a little what-if conversation one weekend night and it has completely transformed our day to day lives. I feel like since I am able to stick with this, I might be able to stick with some other things too. I sleep better, stand taller, breath easier, and feel happier.

    Oh, and my pants fit.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    closet clean-up, phase one

    I got a little crazy last night.

    10:45pm on a Friday night. Matt was out with the boys. I was talking on-line with some friends about my previous blog post - Project 333.

    Before I knew it, I had emptied the contents of my closet onto our bed.

    I haven't decided if I am going to go as extreme as the Project 333 people, but I did decide to only put back the items that I loved, served a purpose, and fit really well.

    I also cleared out my four drawers in the dresser and my one drawer in our built-in along with sorting through my shoes that are spread throughout the house.

    I'm partway through the process and I would say so far I have only put back about half of the items.

    I still have a stack of items that need to be tried on - I think that will help make the final decision on those. I have one bag of trash, one pile in the hall of things-i-found-in-my-closet-that-don't-belong-there (weirdest thing I found: knitting needles), and one really big pile of items to donate, sell or give away (see below).

    Matt came home at midnight and looked at me like I was slightly crazy, but then handed me a couple items from his closet that he no longer wanted.

    Items that were easy to part with:
    • Anything with holes and stains
    • Nylons. Seriously. Does anyone still wear those?
    • Old Navy flip flops that have served their $2.50 purpose well.
    Items that were harder to part with:
    • Ann Taylor dresses I got a fabulous deal on before Dylan was even toddling around (I think I paid about $10 each for them). I tried them on, and they are beautiful dresses but don't quite fit the same and I don't have anywhere to wear them. Hoping they will make someone else out there happy.
    • A couple of shirts that still have their tags on them. In a moment of honest, I realized that if they have been hanging in my closet for 2+ years and I haven't worn them yet, I probably never will.
    • Skirts. I want to be a skirt person because they look so cute on other people but something about my body shape means I will really never be a skirt person. Letting that dream go now...
    Happy things:
    • A dress Matt got me from H&M last summer actually fits now and looks cute (thank you, workout challenge). Tuck that one away for the 10-year anniversary trip later this year.
    • Got rid of three giant bulky hooded sweatshirts that were hogging precious closet real estate. They seem comfortable at first glance but the bulkiness and hoods on them actually drive me nuts (I have a thing with my neck...also in the giveaway pile, a couple of turtlenecks). Holding on to three zip-up sweatshirts that make me much happier - these are the ones I always reach for anyway.
    • Consolidating my pants drawer down to just a few items - a pair of Big Star bootleg jeans (paid more for these then I ever have for a pair of jeans in my life but I wear them all the time), a pair of skinny jeans that I love, a pair of black leggings, a pair of work-in-the-yard jeans. That's it. So simple. (I am hoping to add one more pair of jeans to this collection once I get the chance to go shopping along...probably something straight-leg and dressier).
    This morning it was quite a revelation to get dressed. I knew everything in there were things that I liked and that I had worn recently. No flipping past things wondering if I would (or should) be wearing that.

    Phase two consists of buying new hangers, possibly adding some cute storage accessories (it's a girl's closet after all), and sorting through some photo/keepsake items.

    (I do store a few boxes of those things in there...old photos, negatives and the kids keepsakes, artwork, etc. It works for me because I can put those things on the highest shelves and know they are safe from little hands and the humidity that lives in the basement).

    By the way, I think this counts towards resolution #9: Surround myself with less stuff. Simplify.

    I'm trying to create more space in my life - literally and figuratively - to make room for all the important stuff that usually gets pushed to the sides. Phase two post coming soon.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Project 333

    I saw this link posted on a friend's Facebook page the other day and it caught my eye. It's called Project 333 and it was started by a girl last year who wondered if she could edit down her wardrobe to only 33 items for a 3 month period of time. Her guidelines: 
    • When: January 1 – March 31, 2011 (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
    • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
    • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
    • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.
    • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

    It's an interesting thought, isn't it?

    It made me stop. And think. And then I decided I didn't really want to think too hard about it because then I would have to think about all the zillions of items clogging my own dresser and closet. I am not a hoarder by any means but there is definitely room for improvement in that area. 

    Condensing your wardrobe to 33 items at first sounds interesting and challenging but also a little painful and, well, just hard

    I think it's interesting to read how this girl found out that the project actually improved her life. Her reasons:

    1. I am ready on time.
    2. I don’t shop for clothes
    3. I look better.
    4. I am meeting really cool, like minded people.
    5. I am maintaining a healthy weight.  
    6. I have more time.
    7. I have more money. 

    What do you think? Does the thought of that make you excited? 


    We get used to living with so much as Americans - we are surrounded by choices everywhere, to the point that it can actually cause us stress. 

    And how many times do you push back something in your closet because it's too big, too small, doesn't match anything else, etc.? Are you like me and only wear two pairs of jeans but own 6-8 pairs? Do you tend to wear your favorite clothes day in and day out and ignore the rest? Does the site of your overflowing closet ever make you a little crazy?

    Doesn't seem like so much of a leap any more does it?

    I think back to my three pregnancies and my maternity wardrobe and while it was somewhat limited, I also remember there being something freeing about it. I didn't wonder what pair of jeans to wear, what coat, what sweater, what swimsuit...because I had one or at most two of each of those items. Amazing.

    I hesitate to ask this question...but who's in??

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Currently Cooking: Honey Curry Chicken

    From time to time I post recipes on this blog.

    Just to be clear, this isn't because I love cooking, it's quite the opposite.

    Cooking is not my favorite (although I have promised to try in 2011), so if I share a recipe it's because it's quick, easy and unable to be messed up.

    This is one of Matt and Dylan's favorite dinners: Honey Curry Chicken. This recipe originally came from my Aunt Laurie on my dad's involves a little Asian flair :)

    You might have to buy some curry but once you have that on hand, you will usually have the other ingredients around making it an easy meal to make when you don't have other plans.

    We like ours over rice and if you throw in some green veggies on the side you're good to go. 

    I often use frozen chicken tenderloins from a bag so you might have adjust cooking time depending on the size of your chicken.

    Honey Curry Chicken

    3 chicken breasts (cut into strips, if desired)

    Mix together & pour over chicken:
    1/3 C margarine, melted
    1/3 C honey
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp curry
    2 T. mustard (prepared)

    Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until chicken is done. 
    *This can also be done in the crockpot.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    11 for 2011

    11 resolutions for 2011. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. And I've heard the statistics on how these things usually turn out.

    Here I am anyway, writing a resolution post. I think it is only human to be inspired, to hope, to grow. 

    This has actually been a long time coming. It's been a process. Many of these are things I have been thinking about over the past 6 months or so.  I think it started with reading a book called Breathe, by Keri Wyatt Kent, which centers on the idea of creating space for God in a busy life and was capped off on Sunday by a teaching. In between, I've done a lot of thinking through the ups and downs of life, the successes and the failures.

    I'm aiming high and hoping praying that some of these actually stick - at first glance, some of these are your run of the mill New Year's resolutions, but I think what I'm really after is a shift in my thinking, perspective and values.

    People over stuff. Things that have lasting value vs. things that are fleeting. The person I want to be, not the person I just say I am. Being a good steward of the resources God has blessed me with.

    The main thing, I believe, is to have a plan. I have already made good strides towards #8 {exercise} through a combination of accountability and a friendly side bet and lots of planning...each week I think through the days and try to figure out when I can fit a workout in, what it will be, where it will be, etc. I now own exercise clothes, DVD's, equipment. My social time during the week is with friends who share my same goal.

    I am working out plans for some of the others and you might hear about them later (or see them on my picture blog). These are my 11 for 2011. What are yours?

    2. Try to enjoy cooking. 
    3. Be more intentional with my time. 
    4. Invest in my home team, our families, my marriage. 
    5. Spend less time on Facebook. 
    6. Wake up by 7am each day. 
    7. Read every day to my kids. 
    9. Surround myself with less stuff. Simplify. 
    10. Keep a prayer journal. 
    11. Practice gratitude.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    miss mady

    Mady has been a busy little girl lately! She went through a cranky month or two (teeth + frustration??) but we came out the other side in one piece and now her personality is really coming out. 

    She started walking a day right around 13 months. She had been toying with the idea for a few weeks and finally took off one night. She still falls down a lot (her big brother and sister like to "help" her) but she is determined little girl and she's getting the hang of it.

    She just started waving last week and we think it's about the cutest thing in the world and she's almost catching on to some baby signs (we try to do "more", "all done" and "please" plus "eat" and "drink" if we're's pretty low key but it makes mealtime a little happier).

    We also experienced our first girl moment with her yesterday (I know, she's starting young). If you have a little girl or were ever a girl yourself, you know what I'm talking about. I was holding her after her nap and she was cranky. Matt walked in the door and started making silly faces to cheer her up. She tried her hardest not to crack a smile but Daddy was too funny so she smiled, instantly remembered she was supposed to be cranky, gave Daddy a dirty look, and collapsed into tears on my shoulder. Classic. 

    For the most part, she is happy girl. She loves her heart blankey, her thumb, and her doggy (we lost him at the mall after Thanksgiving but Mommy found a good enough replacement for her stocking and all is good again.) We are getting glimpses of her personality, her sense of humor, and her sweet dance moves. We look forward to continuing to watch our Mady grow.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    2010: Looking Back

    The year starts out right with a vacation in the Bahamas.
    A new nephew, Caden Philip, arrives.
    The newborn haze begins to lift.

    Mady is 3 months old already!
    It's winter, we're feeling blah.

    We narrowly survive a long weekend in Indy for the Big Ten Tournament.
    We cheer on Aunt Cara and the rest of the Eagles to a 3rd place finish at the state competition.

    I officially become a soccer mom.

    Matt starts his new job at Fox.
    Mady discovers her thumb.
    Ella gets her first big girl bike.
    Dylan graduates from preschool.

    Ella finishes up a year of 'nastics.

    Chad and Katie get hitched!
    We realize we have a life outside of kids.

    Mady is dedicated.
    Another nephew, Myles Allen, is born.

    Two kids in school! Ella starts preschool, Dylan begins Kindergarten.
    Dylan loses his first tooth.
    Ella begins ballet.
    Our first kid-free weekend in ages.

    Ella kicks the nighttime Pull-Up habit.
    It's confirmed: Mady is the cutest baby in the world.
    Our trip to Disney.

    Birthdays onefour and six.

    Ella struggles to say good-bye to her afternoon naps.
    The Workout Challenge begins.

    Hello, 2011! 
    What will this year bring?

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